Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I watched the Minnesota Vikings lose their championship game on Sunday. It was painful. They were so close and really should have had it. I admit I had my hopes up too high and was already planning the Super Bowl party with the family, and on buying a sweatshirt. Hopes dashed, it’s a crushing blow. I suppose, though, that it’s harder for the team than it is for me.

I’m not much of a sports nut. I’m what people lovingly, or through gritted teeth, refer to as a “fair-weather fan”. I get excited when a home team is winning because it really is fun, but otherwise I don’t pay much attention. But, I have always kept my eye on the Vikings. I like to know how their season in going. It’s a tie to home, and to good childhood memories.

Fall in Minnesota is gorgeous. Fresh, crisp air, cool sweatshirt weather, that chill in the morning, the leaves changing to brilliant colors, and Sunday afternoons with football on television. We’d sit down to Sunday dinner with a game on in the background. Games were on all afternoon. I think my affection for football has more to do with that picture of home than with the actual game. Although, a good long pass down the field to an open receiver is always exciting.

My brothers were the real fans. Back in the 70s the Vikings had a running back named Chuck Foreman who they idolized. They even made up a game in his honor – Chucky Passes. One would throw the football in some crazy way and then the other had to kill himself to catch it. The idea was that Chuck could catch anything, so they tried to create and then catch the impossible pass. Chucky Passes, great name.

Aaron and Barry often recruited (sometimes with force) me, Marla and Shane into playing football in the back yard. We had huge yard with a stretch of grass that was long, maybe 30 yards, and straight, and that was our field. The boys split up as team captains. They’d split Marla and me because we’re girls, and then Shane was added to a team, three against two. We’d huddle, and Aaron or Barry, whoever’s team I was on, would explain the play we were going run. They’d put their fingers in the grass, “This is me. Ang, you’re here. When I say ‘hut’, you run to this side. I’ll fake a handoff, and then you go out for the pass.” All of this was drawn in the grass, leaving little holes between the blades where his fingers were.

All of our plays were planned out. I wasn’t a great player (although I can, to this day, throw a nice spiral), and sometimes I had to face the wrath of an older brother when a pass wasn’t caught, or I messed up somehow. It’s a tough game, and Marla and I had to be tough girls. We played full-on tackle. Those guys plowed us into the grass, and we did the same to them. I remember wrapping my arms around Barry’s waist and dragging him to the ground. Nice.

Courtney was so much younger than the rest of us that he didn’t get in on those games, but he and I played when he was older, mostly easy games of catch. We’d go for walks down our gravel road and take the football with us. He’d run out ahead and I’d throw it to him, and then I’d run out and he’d throw it. “Go deep”, that’s what we said when we wanted to other to run out for a pass. “Go deep.” That’s it, and we knew exactly what to do. He liked to tackle, too. I always had to keep one eye on him because he’d come at me from out of nowhere and smack! I’d be on the ground. He still wants to do that, even though we’re way too old now. Sometimes he’ll look at me and say, “Tackle?” and I’ll say, “No!” It hurts, hitting the ground that hard. I hate it. I’m pretty sure that he plagues his wife and kids with the same thing. Court played on the school’s team through high school. I remember mom telling me that after the last game of his senior year he was honestly sad for days. It was hard for him to know that he was done for good.

So when people ask me what my favorite sport is I say football. I’m clueless about the different teams (other than to recognize the names) and they’re players and stat details and so-and-so’s career, but still I love that game. Love it. And the family and I will have good food and watch the Super Bowl in a couple of weeks even though the Vikings won’t be there. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and those are made for football. Why mess with tradition?

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Week in Review

The good news is I’m not dead yet. In fact I just took a walk in the fresh cool air, cleared my head, and feel ready for A Week in Review.

As most of you know I like history, especially British history. The stories are fascinating, and I love to put all of the pieces together, with the people in their places, and see how it all fits, and then see what comes next. Each generation builds on the last. Sometimes it’s hard to see the connections. You can look at today, and then at an event from 500 years ago, and the past doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the present. But if you can see how that one event lead to another and then another, creating a domino effect right up to today, then you begin to realize that everything we have is the result of the work of many people over many years. It’s brilliant.

I suppose most history nuts have specific people that they are especially interested in. For me two of those people are Anne Boleyn and her daughter Queen Elizabeth of England. Going to London was something that I’d wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I think that’s common, too, having a place in mind that you’ve always wanted to see. Mine was London. I read travel books and studied maps for years, so when Melody and I went in 2008 it was almost like going home. I know that sounds strange (although the countryside does look just like Minnesota), but the place had been in my head for so long that it was familiar. A huge and overwhelming and mind-blowing city, yes, but still familiar.

Our first evening there we decided to spend some time in the National Portrait Gallery.
It's just what the title says – a portrait gallery. Every portrait done of every king, queen, noblemen, statesman, writer, artist or person worth mentioning in England is in that gallery. We went to the section dedicated to the Tudors, Kings Henry VII, Henry VIII (and his six wives), Edward VI, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Anne Boleyn was one of Henry VIII’s wives, so her portrait is included in this part of the gallery. It’s a picture that I had seen in books many times before, but standing in front of the original was completely different. It drew me in. I studied every feature, the colors, the expression, and when I’d stood there more than long enough and walked away, I kept looking back until I’d rounded a corner and couldn’t see her anymore. None of the other portraits affected me like Anne’s did. Who knows why.

The next day we went to the Tower of London, a very famous landmark for lots of reasons. Anne Boleyn died here, and Elizabeth was jailed here by her sister Queen Mary for a short time (I won't go into the whole story). Again at the Tower I felt strong emotions, like the people who'd lived there for the 1000 years that it's been standing were still all around. There’s a set of stairs that go from the river up into the Tower, and it’s said that when Elizabeth was taken there she sat on those stairs and, either out of fear or anguish, was frozen to the spot until the guards pulled her up. You can see those stairs now through the gates, and I stared at them for a long time. I actually teared up. Seems silly now. The stairs and I shared a moment.

The Tower of London
A marker on the Tower grounds where Queen Anne died.
Traitor's gate, where Elizabeth was brought into the tower. You can see the steps through the woodwork at the top.

So what’s my point with all of this and what does it have to do with this week? Well I’ll tell you. Some time ago a guy in my ward told me that we can start using the new Family Search program that the Church has been building for years. I remembered that this morning and decided to log on and see what it was all about. I think I’ve mentioned before that I've dabbled in family history. My sister-in-law, Andrea, is our family expert (every family has one), and all of what I have to work with I’ve gotten from her, including my enthusiasm. I had looked at our pedigrees enough to see that my Mom’s side of the family needed some work, so I’ve spent time on that off-and-on over the last few years ago. In a few different searches on a few different websites I found that someone else (a very distant relative) had done a good deal of research on this part of my family and had posted it! Hooray! The line took our family all the way back to Virginia in the 1600s. I downloaded the information and shared it with Andrea, and I think that she loaded it into the church site.

That’s where I started looking on Family Search today. I found those ancestors in Virginia, and then started going back through the line into England, and then I saw a name, Thomas Howard. The Howards were a powerful family in the court of King Henry VIII, but I wasn’t sure that this man belonged to the same Howards. I clicked on a few different links and there it was - Thomas Howard had a sister named Elizabeth who married Thomas Boleyn, and they had a daughter named Anne Boleyn. Anne eventually married Henry VIII and they had a daughter, Elizabeth. We're related. A very, very distant relation, yes, but still there’s a connection. My great, great, great, etc, etc grandfather was Anne’s uncle and Elizabeth’s great-uncle. Can you believe that? I can’t believe it, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.

History is more than a bunch of names and dates, it’s the story of the lives of real people, and of how their lives connect to ours. And family history is the same but with a more profound effect. I have felt something for these two women for YEARS, and today, today, I learned that we come from the same family. They are a part of my personal heritage. Of course, every person has countless ancestors, and my heritage comes from Norwegians and Belgians along with the Brits. There’s a little piece of all of them in me, and all of their lives have come together to create mine. It really is brilliant.

And speaking of connections
I have a nephew named Andrew (aka Drew) who likes to pretend that he is characters from his favorite shows, and when he’s being one of these characters you have to call him by that name or he’s outraged. Courtney (my brother, his dad) will sometimes get after him about something and say, “Drew you need to do this” or “stop doing that”, and Drew will look at him and say, “I’m Hammer Head”. Nice. Please disregard everything that was just said. Dad was addressing the wrong person.

Sidenote - You all know what the missing link is, right, in science and evolution? It’s a term used for the phase of evolution that connects the creatures, like apes and humans, for example. The missing link is the final gap between the two. It’s also the name of a character on “Monsters Vs. Aliens”.
Back to the story. Today I was talking to Andrea (Drew’s mom) on the phone, and Drew wanted to say hi. So he got on, and I said, “Hi Drew!” and he said, “I’m The Missing Link”. Really?! You know, now that I think about it, Drew does have a large forehead and likes to plow through a room like a gorilla on a rampage, so maybe…

Well, I think that’s enough for today. Thanks, as always, for your continued attention.
You are loved.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Maybe This all Started with Me Getting Older

Last Sunday I was having a nice dinner with Barry, Melody and The Girls. I don’t know what brought this on, but I started talking about the dangers of me having a medical emergency in the middle of the night and having no one there to help me. I’m getting close to 40 and it’s messing with my head. Oh, and Sierra was telling us about a girl in her apartment building at school who had appendicitis and had to be taken to the emergency room during the night. That kind of talk always makes me wonder, “If something like that happened to me, how long would I lay there before someone found me? Days, weeks….”

So I said, “If I died during the night I would lay there for a week before anyone figured it out.”

Barry looked at me with his eyebrows scrunched together like “What are you talking about?”

Melody, “I’m sure I would wonder if I hadn’t heard from you for a week. Or work would call to find out where you are. ” Yeah, a lot of good that would do when I’m unconscious.

Someone else pointed out that I do, in fact, have a roommate.

Me, “Yeah, but if I’m leaving for work one morning and see that she’s still in bed, I just figure that she’s not feeling well or maybe has a day off. I don’t knock on the door and go in there.”

Melody, “But you would if she was still there when you got home.” Well maybe. I shrugged and mumbled something. But the truth is that up until now it’s not likely that I would have. Melissa and I both have days when we need a good amount of alone time, and we respect that, and I rarely knock on her door when she’s in her room. Honestly, it would be DAYS…

Barry, whose eyebrows are now deeply furrowed in his head, “It’s not like you’re 85….” Always the voice of reason. But still you never know. You never know.

So of course that moved to the inevitable talk about choking on food while alone and having to try the Heimlich maneuver over a chair. It’s every single woman’s fear. In fact, I’ve seen this acted out on tv shows more than once, Liz Lemon on 30 Rock for example. You start having disturbing thoughts about being alone, and then one day a piece of chicken gets caught in the throat and you’re desperately running around the apartment looking for a chair. It’s a rational fear.

Barry still thinks I’m ridiculous.

So last night when I got home from the bookstore, Melissa was in the spare room working on her computer. I knocked, opened the door and said hello. We had some friendly chit-chat, and then I told her about our Sunday dinner conversation. She thought it was all pretty funny (honestly, everyone refuses to be afraid that I might lay dead in my room for a week). Then we decided that we should come up with a plan, a point at which we go into the other’s room and check for breathing. We established that it’s always ok for either of us to wake up the other at night if we feel like we need medical attention. But as far as either of us checking on the other...it's still kind of a gray area. I'd hate to wake her up for no reason.

Later I thought about notes that can be posted on the bedroom doors if we’re in there for a long time, just avoid being bothered when it’s not necessary. Something like, “I’m ok.” “I don’t feel well, but you don’t need to worry.” And then we could have the in case of emergency series, “Please call the ambulance.” “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Of course, that last one might be hard to stick on the outside of the door, if indeed I can’t get up, but maybe with a well-designed series of ropes and pulleys…I’ll have to work that out.

The good news is that after talking to Melissa I feel reassured. No, I haven’t honestly been scared of dying in my sleep and no one finding me until the neighbors report a bad smell and a CSI team has to break down the door. But weird things do go through your head when you’re on your own, and it’s nice to know that Melissa is there. It’s always good to have someone there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

And Now if You'll Please Turn Your Attention to Me

I just want to point out that I successfully created my own blog header from a picture of my own bookshelf. Feel free to leave compliments in the comments section.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Not Really a Week in Review

Guys, I can't think of anything to write about today. Honestly, I've tried. So instead, here are some of the highlights of 2009 in pictures....of the kids....of course.

Amalia, born March 4, 2009

William gets overalls and a winter hat.

A trip to Mt. Rushmore

Noah, Cortni, Jonah, Josh, Savannah holding Amalia, Mariah, Drew, Zac holding William, and Sierra and Spencer on the floor. June, 2009

Spencer and Drew take on a Mammoth.

Sierra took on high school and conquered.

Noah learned how to whistle through a blade of grass.

Sierra and Mariah on Thanksgiving Day.
Sweater-vest and tie.

Jonah's baptism
Thanks, as always, for a great year!
You are loved.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Because You're Dying to Know What's Up with Me

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a review of my activities. Today is not Friday, so I cannot do an official Week in Review. It’s essential that that only be done on Friday. Some customs should not be messed with. So here’s just a random bunch of stuff.

Minnesota People – Just after the holidays I was listening to Minnesota celebrity Garrison Keillor on Public Radio. He was talking about the 12 days of Christmas and said, “Twelve days of celebration is usually too much for anyone from Minnesota.” I laughed, and then thought, “That’s so true!” As much as I like the holidays, and the break from work that comes with them, it’s always good to get things back to normal. In fact, I usually hit a wall a few days before December 25th when I’m ready to just get it done. Of course working retail has something to do with that, but I think I would feel that way even without the store. A full December’s worth of festivity really is too much for a serious-minded, stoic Minnesotan. It’s nice to be back to work.

Mercyville – Years ago I worked with a good friend named Joel McCausland whose claim to fame is being one of the two members of Afterglow. We worked together at FranklinCovey, and I was his assistant for about three years. Since then we’ve kept in touch with random emails here and there. Recently he and Afterglow released their first CD of original music in ten years. I bought one and have liked it. I even called him to tell him that I liked it, and it was fun to talk and get caught up again. The cd is good, so if you’re looking for some LDS Sunday music, give it a try.

Jonah – He was successfully baptized on January 2, although it took three dunkings to get it done right, maybe because he has a list of enemies.

Lasagna – Saturday I went to Marla’s for dinner and she made what was the best lasagna I have ever had, hands down, no exaggeration. The recipe came from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook, which I mentioned in a past post because Nicole and I went to her book signing in November. It really was good! Marla has also made the chicken pot pie and said that it was delicious too. I have my own copy of this cookbook and am ready to start making some of these recipes myself, which will not at all work into my resolution to lose weight…

Resolutions – Yes I, like most people, have a renewed resolution to lose weight this year. In my case it’s very necessary. But I’m having a hard time stirring up the motivation to get started. Where’s my enthusiasm for positive change? I don’t know. I might have to just start without any enthusiasm and hope that it shows up eventually.

Victoria – Melissa and I saw a good move called “Young Victoria”, about Queen Victoria of England, set in the mid 1800s. It’s very well done, beautiful sets and costumes, a nice love story, good acting, and rated PG. You can’t beat that.

Credit where credit is due – I’m very impressed with my nieces. Barry and Melody went out of town last weekend, so Sierra, Mariah and Savannah were home alone from Friday till Monday. I went to see them Sunday and found them alive and well. And I found out that they got themselves to church that day, went to all three meetings, and then went to a youth fireside that night, all without any parental supervision. Sierra planned to watch a CES fireside on tv, so I did that with her while Mariah and Savannah were at their fireside. The girls are 19, 17 and 15, so they’re old enough to get themselves where they need to be. What impressed me wasn’t that they can do this, but they did do it. Not all teenagers would go to a full Sunday’s worth of meetings without their parents’ push. And yes, I’m sure that they were told that they had to go to the fireside, but mom and dad are in San Diego, not close by to enforce the rules. The more I think about it the more wonderful I think it is. They know what’s right, and they do it, all on their own. That takes real maturity, a good upbringing, and good hearts. What good girls.

Update on the big-girl bed – I love it, and it’s nearly impossible to get up in the morning. It’s the best/worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

There it is. I hope you are all enjoying a happy new year!
You are loved.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Believe

Some time ago Sierra put a quote on her blog that I just love. It's from Audrey Hepburn:

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles." Audrey Hepburn

I thought about stealing it an acting like it was my own, but that would be wrong, so then I thought about writing my own I Believe statement. I mulled it over for a few days, and then one night wrote out a list. It still needs refining, but here's what I've come up with.

I believe in gratitude.
I believe that we are stronger than we imagine possible.
I believe in getting to work and getting it done - whatever it is.
I believe that most of what we dread, once done, isn't as bad as we thought it would be.
I believe in spoiling children just enough to make them feel special.
I believe that beauty comes from knowing who you are and liking it, then add mascara and lipstick.
I believe in staying close to siblings, and in giving parents credit for having done their best.
I believe that a good nap will cure most of what ails you. A good walk will cure the rest.
I believe in sincerity.
I believe in good hugs.
I believe in telling people that you love them, and even more so in showing it.
I believe that when we think critically of others, we only hurt ourselves.
I believe that life is best lived with others, but you can do it alone when you have to.
I believe in kindness.
I believe that there is Divinity in all of us.
I believe in the beauty of words.
I believe that we can always find reasons to be miserable, but if we turn our attention in another direction, we'll find much to be happy about. I believe that it's up to each of us to make that choice.