Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Santa Visit

Busy day, as we also managed to find Santa at the Mall today...

Santa Lucia

We're storming towards christmas, and it dawned on us yesterday night, that today would be Santa Lucia...

It is an old Saint's Day, but in Scandinavia, this day has been turned into a celebration of light, with breakfast in bed for the oldest in the house, provided by Lucia her self and the star boys and terns (if you have a gaggle of girls going...) (well, actually it is their parents).

"Luckily" Lars wanted attention in the middle of the night so mummy had the pleasure of sticking the buns that daddy had prepared at 1.30 in the oven in time... better late than never, and surely a morning to remember!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Don't take young children on road trips just before bed time...

We stupidly decided that yes, we could do two parties in one day, and yes driving almost one hour to get to the last one, at exactly one hour before bedtime would be a wonderful idea (you might see a common thread in our parenting experience...)

Well, the one hour turned to almost twice that, thanks to a wheel coming off a car, finding its way through the windshield of another on the Beltway. The result: a liberal amount of adlibbing in finding our way there (involving more traffic chaos on alternative routes, and crossing the Potomac a couple of times too many)...

Spending quality time with your children is always good: doing so in a non-moving confined space, having them tied to their seats whilst hunger and tiredness do their magic, is most likely something we will not recommend to any of you, although the following pearl of conversation did take place:

I gave Lars a 7-Eleven cup holder, to keep him just a little bit quiet in a rather tight spot. Cecilie immediately tried to grab it out of his hands, insisting she needed to play with it. I sternly said that this was for him only and she should NOT TAKE IT AWAY FROM LARS. She agreed, after some squabble from the back, Cecilie asks in her most innocent voice: "Are these holes for drinks?"

Kirsten gets suspicious, and asks if she has it, as I turn around to see her holding it, while she exclaims: "I don't have it!"

Horror of horrors, all the sudden we are faced with dealing with disobedience AND lying in one sitting, while facing away from her! Kirsten does a very good job at explaining the finer points of socially acceptable behavior, honesty, situational ethics, etc. After a quiet moment Cecilie says with a superior air:

"[sniff] you may call it lying, I call it laying."

I should mention that we found our way there eventually, and that a wonderful time was had by all. With the kids falling asleep in their pajamas one minute after getting in the car on the way home and subsequently sleeping through the night, the trip was crowned a success.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Christmas in New Orleans

Was thinking to myself that Cecilie maybe needed to learn about empathy - maybe take food to the food bank, give toys to the needy, something like that. I have this crazy idea that since we are not going to have our most affluent Christmas, it might be a good year to learn about those who have even less than us.

So this morning we had a conversation about the hurricane in New Orleans. I asked her if she knew what a hurricane was, and she said "Oh yeah, that's when the big winds come and knock your house FLAT, flat to the road." Then, we talked about how those kids wouldn't have much Christmas. We talked about not having decorations, not having clothes or toys or food etc. Her response? "Mommy! We have to have them here at our house! If they don't have a house we can have them here!" I was stopped short (having just had a little toy donation in mind) and said "But Cecilie, I don't know where the people from New Orleans are" and she exclaimed "They're here! I'm sure they're here in Washington! We can find them, Mommy! And then we can have them here at our house! WE have Christmas decorations!"

And once I again, I find myself learning the lessons. I'm wondering if my girl is old enough to understand charity, and instead she is teaching me to be willing to do so much more. Bless her cotton socks.

What's Lars' vote? MORE MILK PLEASE!

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Let it snow...

...we're getting seriously chrismassed around here, with snow falling from sun-down last night until after midnight...

Don't know how long it will last, there is a SMALL chance that we'll actually survive the day with snow cover, but Cecilie has seen it disappear in front of her eyes, so she seized the opportunity, springing out of bed, getting her advent calendar treat, exclaiming: "The snow is still there, let's go out and play, before breakfast, it is so wonderful, isn't it? I really like the snow!"

Well, it is the kind of exuberance that is impossible to resist, we went out and had a blast. She seems to have forgotten that she's afraid of snow, so that's good, and Lars, he dug sittin' there watching us sled, and make snow angels, and Cecilie's favorite: tracking the fox that had been playing in the back yard in the night... (she refuses to believe that he's probably there every night, it is just that we can see his foot prints when it has been snowing, in her mind he probably stays in the neighbors' yard.)

Shock and awe...

...well, really just AWE...

These are some cool ones that I got from my aunt this morning, she makes the best cinnamon buns in the world too, calling her multi-talented is an understatement!

No animation here folks, just your eyes pulling a trick on you, focus on one spot and it should all come to a halt!

Monday, December 5, 2005

Pigs into earrings

There might be entirely too many fairytales being told in this house...

Cecilie has a couple of artsy pigs that have resided on the window sill above the sink in the kitchen for quite some time. In preparation for christmas they were replaced by a wooden christmas scene on Saturday. Grandma put her earrings on the sill that night and yesterday morning, when Cecilie was washing her hands, she exclaimed with a sense of mystery and wonder: "My pigs have been turned into earrings..!?!"

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Lars In a Dress, or A Good Reason for a Party

In the Presbyterian tradition, it all starts with baby baptism. This
occasioned the purchase of Lars' first (and presumably only) long white gown to wear to church, and involved a lot of to-do in preparing the Schneider manse for a fete in honor of the young prince. Cecilie & her Daddy were in charge of Xmas tree decoration, Grandma was in charge of the catering, Grandpa was in charge of building a roaring fire, and Mommy.... well, Mommy was in charge of trying to find something, anything, to wear for the occasion. (The story of an entire day off spent at the mall instead of with my kids is too tragic to be retelling).

But I'm getting ahead of our story. The point is that Lars Bjorn Nilsen was welcomed into the family of Christ at Georgetown Presbyterian Church (the same church we were married in), and he was a superstar. He didn't mind the whole dress issue, didn't mind being held by the minister (or "priestess" as one of our guests preferred to refer to her:), and even met the drops of water on the forehead with equanimity.

By all accounts, the most touching part of the ceremony was the trip around the sanctuary that the minister took with Lars, to show off the new member and introduce him to The Family.

As with all major milestones in one's life, there were lots of friends & family around to celebrate, lots of good food, one or two tantrums, and of course another fashion show (audience numbers are steadily increasing and the show now includes several seasonal monologues). A wonderful way to keep the holiday season going!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The bad news is...

...it only lasts one year!!!

IT, would be the very source of love, that has now been found and given the very fetching name "nerve growth factor" or NGF. If ever there was an issue better left alone by scientists I suppose this would be up there on the list.

How can a relationship last longer then? I suppose it is purely a matter of practicality...

Come on my romantic friends, diffuse this terrible science bomb before it is too late: I NEED YOUR HELP!


Some thoughtful thoughts forwarded to me this morning...

#1...Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteriesare getting weak?
#2... Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they knowthere is no money in the account?
#3...Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billionstars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
#4...Why doesn't glue stick to the bottle?
#5...Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
#6...Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
#7...Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when youthrow a revolver at him?
#8...Why did Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
#9...Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?
#10..If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
#11..Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubblesare always white?#12..Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?
#13..Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes thatsomething new to eat will have materialized?
#14..Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with theirvacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it downto give the vacuum one more chance?
#15..Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end you first try?
#16..How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?
#17..When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with ashopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's allright?" Well, it isn't all right so why don't we say, "That hurt, youstupid idiot?"
#18..Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's fallingoff the table you always manage to knock something else over?
#19..In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summerwhen we complained about the heat?
#20..How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?
#21..If at first you don't succeed, shouldn't you try it like your wifetold you to do it?
#22..And obviously if at first you don't succeed, then don't take up skydiving!
And my FAVORITE......
#23...The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons issuffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three bestfriends, if they're okay, then it's you

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Parental Blogging

I recently went back to work full time, which includes a long-ish commute. I never seem to have organised anything good to read, so am left to reflect on recent blog posts, and comments therein.

There was a recent comment that made me wonder if perhaps one of our dear readers was chiding me about my past impatience with other people's small children & their feats of brilliance, given our predilection for bragadocious postings about our own kids.

What I decided on this particular point is 1) fair enough, but 2) a blog is a voluntary activity, whilst being captive in a small room listening to precocious poetry is still exasperating.

Anyway, this convoluted reflection then led to thoughts on 'what purpose our blog'? In my parallel existence, our blog would be full of clever links to clever things, full of witty bonmots, full of crazy ideas, full of Nilsen. And to be fair, many of Torbjorn's posts are pretty clever. But when the laptop is thrust onto my lap, the first thing to come to mind is the thing that is all consuming, my fullest of full-time jobs: parenting.

And there is where our gentle chiding reader has a point: I think in my past life (the one where I got sleep and read books with endnotes and multiple editors) I failed to understand just how all-encompassing this parenting gig is. It all starts so simply (drunkenly??)... and then you find yourself consumed with love/guilt, enchantment/resentment, jealousy/smugness, despair/profound hope. But most of all, joy. The pure unadulterated version thereof.

That joy, that's the killer. After a night of pacing the floor with a heavy ass but sick Lars, he greeted me this morning with a huge grin and the flapping up&down arms that mean "I'm so happy to see you but could you pick me up, QUICK?!?!" And what can you do but grin back and wipe the sand out of your eyes??

So that's what our blog has to cover: the joy. Yes, I am guilty of occasionally thinking mine are the best and the brightest. How do I explain, though, this task that is all consuming and has seemingly erased all evidence of my previous brain?? You've just gotta share that JOY, because the downside is full of the compromises, the shortchanges, the guilt of not doing any of it quite right.

Which is all to say that maybe someday my blog will be full of the carefully crafted prose that comes to me in fragments as I hike to work. But until then you get my kids, because a blog is worth it if it can make you smile.

The meaning of Thanksgiving...

Thanksgiving came and went without any peas...

What I am most thankful for is my wonderful family and the fact that thanksgiving seems to be severely under-commercialised (being wedged between Halloween and xmas and all), and all about eating!

Turkey is all good, but this year it was about the stuffing: most marvelous with two types of sausage and pine nuts, and the gravy: seriously divine. Have I ever mentioned I am a fan of my wife's cooking?

To me thanksgiving will forever be an ex-pat activity (or at least for now, maybe my own house will change it...) I have such awesome memories from England where the booze cruise loot was broken open and Kirsten one year went the full Monty and rubbed the turkey with ricotta and parmesagne -UNDER THE SKIN, before roasting and getting totally blasted with a crew of likeminded gourmands.

Two things are for sure even here in America: Thanksgiving to me is opening the first Port Bottle of the season (I almost cracked open the '94 Brad gave me -then I came to my senses) and getting my neck around the just arrived Beaujolais Nouveau, which this season seems quite "dry". Doesn't make for the easisest drinking tipple, but MAN it bodes well for the vintage frolm the villages!

As an aside, Lars decided (as far as a child can make such a decision) to go sick for the big day; which means he's been in this phlegmatic (read: drugged out) state the whole day, and mostly only wanting to veg out on our laps, poor boy.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Snow

So, it is the night before Thanksgiving, and wonder of wonders: snow is falling in Maryland!!!

It started snowing at supper, and Cecilie went amok:
C:"Its SNOWING, its SNOWING, for the first time in my life its SNOWING, isn't it wonderful?"
Daddy: "Cecilie it was snowing last winter, you made snow angels with Mommy and Daddy, remember?"
C: "Hmmm. Yes, the snow came in my eyes, but its SNOWING, its SNOWING, isn't this EXCITING?"

We huddled up in a blanket and went outside to dance while we were singing "Let it snow", snow came in her eyes and we had to go back in... I presume snow goggles should be top of her xmas gift list!

The House...

Peter asked a pertinent question about the house. Hmmm, if I had good news I suppose he thinks we would have posted something earlier...

Well, the good news is we have added another project: replacement windows, to the scope of the project and as a result our timeline is blown to bits. We have come to realize that lead is posing a serious threat to our children's health and as such we owe it to them to abate as best we can before we move in.

The timeline for installation of said windows is January, so here we are, in Silver Spring for yet abother xmas.

So yes, the glories of buying a house built before 1978...

Oh yes, and pics of Jack and Cecilie to keep that interest!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Fashion shows, etc.

Very innocently, since Onkel JonEndre mentioned the idea of a fashion show to show off all the stuff he and tante Marte has found on their trip, Cecilie has been unstoppable... It has been non- stop Fashion Show around this house.

The show is a fairly straight forward concept, you dress up - preferably a dress with a swishy skirt (the stocking cap is her official Princess Hat). Then you dance, on your stage, to The Beach Boys or better still, Elvis aka "Velvis". It works wonders from an entertainment perspective and it really has proven quite effective at dragging out bed-time...

It is simply no use doing a show without one's "shining shoes", or Official Princess Hat for that matter. Mommy is in charge of helping get ready for the fashion show, but Cecilie made my place in the universe very clear: "You can't come to my fashion show Mommy, but I guess you can turn on the music."

Today, she even got her friend Lauren to get in on the gig. Lauren had dug out her blue-ribbon flipflops (perfect for a November playdate!) and they were the perfect accessory to the "butterfly dress". They were All Shook Up and the crowds (Mommies) were surely in awe!

Never thought it would come to this, but I have to say I laughed a lot. Particularly when she took the stage without any underpants...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Other people's action filled lifes - the resolution...

You might remember the story about my brother being held up in the first week at work.

Well, the verdict is back and you will be relieved to hear, I am sure, that the gang is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison - as the prosecution asked for.

In Norway we have a saying "linselus" - "lens lice", which refers to those who somehow manages to get into all the pictures - lo and behold, it looks like the chief investigator is a Nilsen in this one (well, he claims to fill in his witness report - IN THE FRONT WINDOW!!!?)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Pictures Galore

If, like Amanda, you've been missing Nilsen pictures lately here they are...

Pumpkin patch, Halloween, firestation, visitors, things happen and we snap 'em!

Oh, and if you can't get to them let us know and we'll sort you out pronto!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Polka & Caffeine

We found out that Daddy's favorite radio station in Baltimore plays polka on Sunday morning (most bizarre)
C:What kind of music is that I am hearing?
D:That's polka...
C:I don't think polka is very good for young people...

Playing with her dolls, wanting grandma's Coke.
GM: No Cecilie, my drink is only for adults...
C: But when I play with my dolls I am an adult!
[grandma didn't get fooled]

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Washington DC Movies

I realize it's been a while since there has been an update at Nilsenlife, hectic hectic hectic is the reason for that, in three words...

Peter got me thinking, and really, there aren't that many good Washington DC movies. Having said that, Washington doesn't exactly claim to be a movie hot bed, but there are a handful of upstanding citizens of DC in the movie universe.

I think one of my favorite DC movie memories is watching "In The Line of Fire" with Rangvald, Paal & Thomas on our cross continental road trip back in the summer of '93 -- kind of like '69, just better ('69, I wasn't even born in '69 - Brian Adams can have that whole year all to himself...).

There is this scene in the movie at the Lincoln Memorial where Clint's had a talk with Rene Russo and as she walks away, he finishes his cigar and has the following conversation with Abe: If she looks back, it means she's interested. Come on, give me a look back now. Just give me that smug expression and be on your way. [Lilly looks back] Well, Abe? Damn... Wish I could have been there for you, pal.

A monologue of legend I am sure you would agree, but heading up to the monument and actually smoking a cigar while watching the sun set over Washington that same day, was like being in the movies, but better, awesome indeed!

Here's my humble handful, am I missing out on something good (with my score out of 10)?

Enemy of the State (8)
Minority Report (8)
The Silence of the Lambs (9)
Strangers on a Train (9) (a bit of a stretch to call this a DC movie, I know)
Traffic (8)
Wedding Crashers (7)

A number of movies did not make the shortlist...
Air Force One (6)
All the President's Men (7)
Arlington Road (ns)
Clear and Present Danger (7)
Conspiracy Theory (7)
The Exorcist (8) (I know, should be up there, I just don't like it THAT much)
The Manchurian Candidate ('04) (6)
Manhunter (7)
Mission: Impossible (7)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (ns)
National Treasure (6)
The Net (6)
Quiz Show (6)
The Recruit (6)
Spy Game (7)
The Sum of All Fears (6)
Team America: World Police (ns)
Wag the Dog (ns)

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

I kid you not: this is word for word

To set the scene, a few details. Cecilie goes to 'school' once a week: it is a once-a-week, 4 hour deal at a local church. They do all the normal school things, like crafts and stories and singing, then they have lunch, then the last 45 mins they go out to the playground. 9.30 to 1.30 is a pretty long day for a 3-yr old, particularly as it takes things past her nap-time, and usually Miss Nilsen is quite "tired & emotional" by the time we pick her up.

So I'm putting her to bed tonight, yesterday we picked her up before playground and the subject comes up.
Mom: If you wanted, Cecilie, next week you could stay for playground time.
C: Oh, I don't like the playground. I cried.
M: You cried?
C: Oh yeah. I sobbed. And the girls all asked me, 'Are you hungry? Are you hungry?' And I said 'NO, I ate my lunch already!'
M: Well could you just tell them that you're tired and you want to go home?
C: No, you told me I couldn't say that. [in mom's defense, this is not true!]
M: No I didn't say that Cecilie!
C: Yes you did.
M: [trying to redirect] Well, it's okay to tell the truth Cecilie. It's always okay to tell the truth. You could just tell the teachers that you are tired, and they will take care of you.
C: What, does Miss Joan have a car to take me home? I don't think she has a car.
M: No, but she could probably hold you for a minute...
C: Well, she could if she was sitting down, but mostly, she stands up.

Okay. So she doesn't have to go to the bloody playground!

At this point Cecilie reminds me that its actually Grandma who should be putting her to bed [Mommy being chopped liver and all], and says "Grandma can do night night. Daddy said." M: "Oh really? Did he?" C: "Daddy said it could probably be arranged."

And for the record, Lars is officially crawling as of yesterday. So of course all he wants to do now is STAND UP, and walk if there are a handy pair of hands to help out.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Mary and her little lamb

Holiday season is seriously upon us, and yesterday we were passing time in xmas preparation with the fun and games of Halloween -- well, it was more like Hallowday, as it all started with Mary taking her Lamb to school (although he ran amok and had scampered off for this particular picture...)

Even with a full sugar load from her Halloween party at school, Cecilie went down for her nap motivated by the prospect of Trick or Treating alone...

As if by some miracle (after all it is the season) Lars decided to play the "please the parents" game too, and had a nice long (late) nap before waking up in a stellar mood to go racing on Cecilie's push bike before hitting the neighborhood streets with our wagon & goody bags.

The parents let the assumption that she was Bo Peep pass most of the time, and after a while we gave up correcting that Lars was NOT a bunny (or we laughed off that we were breeding a new type of sheep -- for its acute hearing abilities!) Cecilie was less polite about it: When our good neighbor Darnell complemented: "Oh, what a pretty Little Bo Peep!"
Cecilie corrected: "Actually, Darnell, this is a Mary costume, and here is my lamb..."

When candy was given for Lars she would be very polite though, and say: "Thanks for the candy for my lamb. He can't eat this, but he can suck!"

A lot of fun was had by all, but that Halloween is clearly not the pinnacle of the season should be clear from this exchange at our other good neighbor Al's house:
Al: Do you like Halloween?
C: Actually, my best holiday is Thanksgiving...
Al: What do you like about thanksgiving?
C: Um, the peas...

So there you have it: Happy Halloween and Peas on Earth!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


...but this is so much more fun than it sounds: here is a tool to help you put words to "where you stand", its kind of like a political GPS.

It's been around for some time, but I like it a lot as it brings another dimension to political definition (you might call it "depth" (at least figuratively speaking:)).

Me, I am about as far left as Pope Benedict XVI (which actually puts him further left than I thought he would be) and about as anarchistic as the Dali Lama...

Free Tibet (with the help of that crazy German dude)!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Church mayhem: Rogue choir, earlobe twisting

OK, while on the subject of Adventism, here is a spicy story from MSNBC. Not quite the way I remember the church, but interesting to note that a church of 25 members has a choir of 16...


Cecilie listening to daddy reading at bedtime with a tissue in her hand: Ah, the boogers are all gone.
Grandma, the provider of tissue: Now, that was efficinent wasn't it?
Cecilie: MmmHmm, because I ate them all up!
[please note that blog is not edited for gross-out factor]

Cecilie refusing a hug from daddy (note to daddy: shave more often): I don't need a hug!
Daddy: Well, that's good 'cause I don't need to give you one, but would you take one out of pure luxury?
Cecilie: I don't need luxury!
(There is a chance we'll be using this against you in the fututre, diva Cecilie)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I am a pacifist personally, but I understand the need for government to provide security and have no problem (in theory) with war fought by volunteers. However, 2000 is a big number and not a particularly happy one at that. Now, depending on your perspective it could be argued that 30,000 - 100,000 (that would be the estimate of Iraqi deaths during the conflict - let's hope most of whom being of the nasty kind) is a bigger number, but it is still quite some way from 500,000.

500,000 is the number of estimated deaths of children (by 1996, just five years after Desert Storm) as a direct result of the UN sanctions imposed on Saddam's regime - to which Madeline Albright (a friggin' liberal, it's said) had the following profound comment on 60 Minutes: "I think that this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it."

Not too long ago, in "A World Transformed" (1998) another Bush said the following: "To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us and make a broken tyrant into a latter-day hero ... assigning young soldiers to a fruitless hunt for a securely entrenched dictator and condemning them to fight in what would be an un-winnable urban guerilla war. It could only plunge that part of the world into even greater instability." - Maybe one Bush was right...

I never really felt personally threatened by Saddam (my understanding at the time of invasion was that even if he had WMDs, his rockets could not carry them much further than Israel), but I have no doubt that the world is a much better place with Saddam neutralized.

It doesn't make me a Dubya (I like to pronounce it DU-BAYA) or war supporter, but I should hope that "major combat" and whatever what followed is called have left a few more children surviving - or certainly given us hope that one day they will...

The number in this conflict that means the most to me is 1. One brother in-law, husband of Kiersten and father of Jack and that's good enough for me to say: "Support the troops, bring them home safe!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The truth

I didn't make this up, someone else did. It's just a rumor, not a fact:

Since Bush Sr. was the head of CIA, the Bush clan has tried to build the American empire to replace the British Commonwealths, through CIA. Lady Di's assassination was done by the CIA. That was the first step for them to execute their real plan. The disbandment of the royal family was their intention. And their next targets are members of all the royal families like the tragedy in Nepal. It's similar to the Russian Winter Revolution, which executed the entire Romanov family.

It's well known that Bush is a cousin of the English Queen.

Bush is closely related to every European monarch on and off the throne, including the King of Albania, and has kinship with every member of Britain's royal family, the House of Windsor. He is a 13th cousin of Britain's Queen Mother, and of her daughter Queen Elizabeth and is a 13th cousin once removed of the heir to the throne, Prince Charles. Bush's family tree can be documented as far back as the early 15th century. He has a direct descent from Henry III and from Henry VIII's sister Mary Tudor, who was also the wife of Louis XI of France. He is also descended from Charles II of England.

So, if the CIA assasinates all the royal cousins of Bush, Dubya can be the new king of England. He'll reign not only Great Britain and the United States but also all the British Commonwealths as George VII. Thus this leads to the demise of the American federal republic and the birth of the American Empire. Dubya wants to be a Caeser. So, he can be president and the King of Canada at the same time. Then, there'll be the anschluss of Canada by America.

However, CIA conspires to elimiate all the British royal family members except for William and Harry. Now why is that? Why does CIA want to let both princes survive? Currently, Dubya's daughters are Barbara and Jenna. CIA is working behind the scenes to arrange their marriage with Prince William and Prince Harry. Barbara with William and Jenna with Harry. Then, Dubya's grandsons or granddaugters will be the heirs to the throne. So he can claim the throne legitimately. Just like the Norman Conquest, but they call it "Operation American Conquest".

Thus, this is the scenario that the CIA is working towards: the Bush dynasty will replace the Windsor dynasty to be the master of the world...

Its fun, isn't it, the internet...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Busy Sundays

You know you're a crazy parent when you plan three separate activities for your children on a Sunday.

Anyways, after what felt like a week of rain, Sunday came with just gorgeous fall weather, and we had church, the pumpkin patch and Pete, Will and Grace lined up...

Well, daddy snuck off and made it to the yellow house and not church - dry-wall guys are done and now it is all up to us to get it finished: the project plan says three more weeks before move-in starts (nicely timed with a visit from Jon Endre and Marte, my "big" brother happened to be around (and of use) at all our other moves: fate!!! (somewhat Presbyterian, I would think)

So, the family met up to meet up with Lauren and Aiden (w. their parents) at the pumpkin farm, which also does duty as a U-Pick berry farm at times. A ton of fun was had by all, even with the aeon long lines for the most rudimentary of activities.

With the gang back in the car, we went to hook up with Gramma and Grampa for supper with the Slears down the road. Great friends, and patients of Grampa, and possibly a highlight of the day, as Cecilie got to drive Pete's new electric fire truck (man, am I scared for her in 13 years time) and Lars got a ride with Will...

Yeah, Peter we had no time to hit the sack, but Lars had a roll in the hay...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Cecilieisms galore (and Lars starts to add his 2 cents)

This morning Cecilie was enquiring about the state of Lars's health (both kids have a nasty cold, Lars more than her). When told that he'd had a tough night, she shook her head sadly and soberly told me "these things happen, Mommy"

Visiting my Grandma Joan at the Friends House, Cecilie was busy filling up plastic cups of water from the water fountain. When told that she really did have enough now, she insisted she was "preparing for her wedding guests" and that she needed to have enough!

In the midst of these preparations, one glass of water spilled all over the floor. Looking around in semi-dismay, Cecilie exclaimed "Oh dear, lucky the neighbors weren't here!"

At the grocery store, a keen-eyed Cecilie spotted us purchasing some Oreos. The prospect of these treats came up in conversation regularly through the rest of the afternoon. Finally when we got home and were having a quiet moment before getting dinner ready, Cecilie leapt up from the playroom floor and exclaimed with great enthusiasm "Hey! I want a cookie. Let's have some junk food!!!" [Who taught her about junk food? Who taught her it was a great thing? ] So I thought at least I'd seize the opportunity to explain why it is called 'junk', as opposed to good for us, and as I continued to explain, she nodded wisely and said "yeah Mom, I know."

And finally, just to be a bragadocious mother, my sweet girl can now spell her name: "C-E. C-I. L-I-E!!!!!!" [to be imagined in a very loud spelling-bee sort of voice]

Lars may never have to talk, with a big sister like this. Although I suspect I hear the beginnings of "mumumumumumum" when I've been ignoring his complaints too long.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Seven Rules of Natural Health

I am terrible about remembering lines from films, which is a particular pain when being surrounded by people who seems to have note books on their laps when they watch movies, just to be able to fling out the best one liners when put on the spot...

Praise the lord for
IMDB, in Reality Bites there is a great exchange between Winona Ryder's and Ben Stiller's characters -

Lelaina Pierce: Are you religious?
Michael Grates: Um, uh, I guess uh, I guess I'm, uh a non-practicing Jew.
Lelaina Pierce: Hey, I'm a non-practicing virgin.

Anyways, I am coming up to 13 years as a non-practicing Adventist, and it is funny, because I have come to accept that there is such a thing (and by a weak logical extension non-practicing virgins exists too...).

I don't have much of a personal belief system (although it has been suggested I am a
neo-pagan reform Jew), but I strongly believe that people should be encouraged to believe exactly what they believe, and respected for it too...

I know a good many, what I would consider, intelligent Adventists that I admire on a personal level and respect a lot. I don't necessarily understand (nor do I really think it is any of my business) how they arrived at remaining in their faith, as my personal position on most of Adventist articles of faith is that of dumbfoundedness. However, whether I like it or not (I happen to not really be too bothered...) there is Adventism in my bones and my family history, that's just the way it is.

I happened to come across the following, very clever "Seven Rules of Natural Health" on one of my random dippings in the world wide web. This stuff is so sensible it hurts. It has been toned down for marketing purposes since I came a cross it last which is probably a very good thing (now, add more than a very generous measure of open mindedness and tolerance and you might have yourself a very good belief system indeed).

If the rest of the collateral is somewhere in the region of reliable, male Adventists have an 8.9-year longer average life expectancy than does the general population, while female members have a 7.5-year longer average life expectancy. Adventists have a lower incidence of breast, prostate, pancreatic, bladder, and ovarian cancer than does the general population.

Rule 1. Pure air.
Get outside every day, rain or shine, for fresh air. Learn to breathe deeply to take oxygen way into your body. Incorporate this step into your daily life: walk instead of driving to the store or go for a walk with a friend instead of meeting for coffee. Keep your bedroom windows open.

Rule 2. Sunlight.
Exposing your face to sunlight for just 15 minutes will give you more than your daily requirement of 400 units of Vitamin D. Vitamin D ensures straight and strong bones with the proper proportions of calcium and phosphorus.

Rule 3. Temperance. Don't indulge in any one thing. Temperance, or balance, is a main theme of simplicity: eat in moderation, exercise in moderation, and rest in moderation. Remember the rule: moderation in what is good for you and abstinence from the things that are not good.

Rule 4. Rest.
Your body and mind need rest in order to function. Get plenty of rest each night and take at least one day a week to devote to restful pursuits. If you don't have rest built into your life with religion, do it without religion. Everybody needs a break from all kinds of work, paid and unpaid. This is the day for families to go hiking or to relax around the house.
Your digestive system also needs to rest. Your system needs about five hours to digest food completely. In between meals you can drink all the water and herbal tea you want.

Rule 5. Exercise.
Exercising in fresh air takes poisons and wastes out of the body. Fresh air from exercising fills cells with oxygen. Stretch outside every morning and find an enjoyable form of exercise that fits naturally in your day, such as bicycling or walking to work, meeting a friend for a regular walk or run, and so on.

Rule 6. Water.
Water is free or inexpensive, so use it liberally. Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water between meals to help purge your system. Drink the water 30 minutes to 1 hour before or 1 hour after meals to prevent dilution of stomach acids, which help proper digestion.
Use water not only to keep your body clean, but as a tonic as well. Do this by taking a regular, warm shower and then, at the end, turning up the cold water. This wakes up your cells and keeps them functioning.

Rule 7. Nutrition.
We are only as healthy as what we put into our bodies. According to current medical information, most of the degenerative diseases that plague modern America: heart problems, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and stroke are primarily the result of improper diet. All cells and tissues in our bodies are formed by the food we eat. The best way to take care of our bodies is also the simplest and most inexpensive: Eat food the way it comes out of the ground, with nothing added and nothing removed. These foods are grains, fruits, seeds, legumes, nuts, and vegetables. Eat a variety of these food groups every week. Eat two servings of raw vegetable salad and two more servings of raw or cooked green or yellow vegetables daily. Eat cooked beans or peas three times a week, sweet potatoes or squash twice weekly, and a member of the cabbage family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale) three times a week. Try to make breakfast your heaviest meal, your midday meal the second heaviest, and supper the lightest.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

While on the subject of constitutions...

As it happens, the kingdom of Bhutan has been working on their constitution too lately (work in progress since 1972 to be exact...)

I am not too familiar with the whole story (wasn't even born back then), but it seems like the King voluntarily decided to start the transition from monarchy to "Democratic Constitutional Monarchy" that year, and what I find very fascinating is that they have managed to keep the document relatively short with a preamble which pledges sovereignty, liberty, justice, tranquility and happiness and well being of the people.

Granted, there is very little oil in Bhutan, and the country is largely homogeneous (thanks to a policy of busing a large parts of the Nepalese minority out of the country over the years), but not everything is rosy according to Mr Revkin's article (which you can find on a number of non-subscription pages, by copying the first sentence in NY Times and google it); political parties has yet to be formed for one... However, the document goes a long way in redefining the American constitutional concept of "pursuit of happiness".

There is a separate article on the environment, which states it is a fundamental duty of every citizen to contribute to the protection of natural environment and prevention of ecological degradation. There is also a separate article on "fundamental duties" that demands of the citizens to foster tolerance, mutual respect transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities.

What has gotten everybody most excited is the provision
that the State should strive to promote pursuit of "Gross National Happiness" as opposed to Gross Domestic Product, and a policy of effort of the State to minimize inequalities of income, and concentration of wealth among citizens.

Leave it to the Buddhists...

And remember: "Medieval peasants worked less than you do"!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jeremy Satterlund

If you happen to be in Richmond VA in the month of November you should feel obliged to stop by the Main Public Library on 101 East Franklin St, and see my friend Jeremy's "Exhibition of new paintings".

I haven't seen Jeremy since college, but I have been an admirer of his works through my curator, Brad, in the years since, and I really want to go down for opening night November 4. I used to consider myself an aspiring patron of the arts, but that was before moving to America and starting our own business - I still aspire, but the goal seems a little beyond the edge of obtainable right now.

I googled him and found this picture from 04, in St Paul at the Tilsner. I am pretty sure it is him and his canvas, even though he's dropped the German military jacket, the beard, the long hair, and a guitar with a prominent "JUST SAY NO" sticker (him and Nancy Reagan were real tight you see...).

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Open day at firehouse

There is archieveal film footage of Kirsten being a little girl prancing around the local fire station at their open day: fast forward a couple dozen years and there we are: grampa, daddy and the kids at the same fire station on a gorgeous fall day in Colesville.

My film talents are hidden (as in: I don't know how to transfer all the hours of DV tape to a readable format for everyone) but one day technical problems might be overcome (that would be the day we're all on Macs I suppose) and Cecilie's children might do a high school project about cross generational fire station open days, who knows?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You want crazy?

There are many reasons I love blogs and blogging: it is an easy way to stay in touch and keep people up to date, including the people who surely can benefit from seeing what the Nilsens are up to, but that we never really kept up with (shame on us). I firmly believe this is a good thing when far away family, old friends, acquaintances, and friends of friends are dropping by, JUST DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT. I am also starting to come to terms with (maybe even enjoying a little bit) the fact that total strangers can drop by, have a look and leave comments.

This voyeuristic / exhibisonist aspect of it all can be a little bit unsettling, in a creepy "plot for a bad made for TV movie" kind of way, but I honestly think that our lives are simply too mundane to really trigger too much excitement with the seedier elements of society (knock on wood).

So anyways, taking the voyeur's chair for a moment there are some very interesting, and some crazy blogs out there so if you want weird and wonderful, just put something that interests you (or something you think wouldn't) in the "Search Blogs" window, above.

I am, by the way a half-assed (well 20% assed) but accepted American according to this quiz:
You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 8 out of 10 correct!

And while you are checking the site out take the world's shortest personality test:
Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

Well, you know, it said short - NOT ACCURATE

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

One reason not to want to live in Norway... Big numbers!

Thomas just told me today that he got a speeding fine going 85 kmh (52 mph) in a 60 kmh (37 mph) zone and he got a NOK 6,500 (that's $1,000) fine (according to the police he was 1 km/t away from losing his license).

Meanwhile, last month I was stopped doing 75 mph (120 kmh) in a 45 mph (72 kmh) zone --I thought I was going to go to jail for life, but got a $60 fine (less than NOK 400)...

I am not advocating speeding, but something is not right with this picture!

Given some time I should be able to come up with a dozen other reasons not to want to live in Norway, wouldn't mind getting some help...

As for reasons to want to live in Norway they are plenty, could need some help again...

To start us off, it being the third largest oil exporter in the world (after Saudi Arabia and Russia) is a substantial reason. The country now has a government controlled investment fund from oil revenue (not to be confused with oil reserve) of NOK 1,184,000,000,000 ($182,391,000,000) - that's about NOK 260,000 ($40,000) per Norwegian. In comparison, the US Federal debt is currently $6,000,000,000,000, so we are of course talking small change here.)

I suppose you don't strictly speaking need to live in Norway, just be Norwegian and live somewhere else to benefit from the investment fund in the long term. However, it sure would be nice to have my share, and Cecilie's and Lars' too, to fix up that house (we could have easily been in by now...). Damn socialists (and conservatives before them) for saving it for the future!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The way things are

Yesterday Cecilie was running around trying to avoid nap time. Upon being summoned by her very strict mother she exclaims: "I'm scampering away!" (I had to look that one up...)

Cecilie is saying she'll have a yellow wedding: yellow flowers, yellow shoes, yellow panties, pink dress...

By the looks of things Cecilie is now doing crosswords, we're not allowed in the bathroom when she's working on them, but she was so engulfed I snuck a shot...

Lars is standing up in his crib (for the first time yesterday!), but hasn't quite figured out how to sit down, so there is a lot of giggling before the lumber is felled.

Chances are he'll skip crawling and head straight for the Homo erectus thing. He does this thing where he is sitting on his knees, plants his hands on the floor, gets up on his feet and catapults himself forward landing on his nose most of the time - you could say he goes both ways (as he lands on the back of his head when he stands up in his crib).

Tonight, while singing grace, in the middle of the meal (Cecilie reminded us... -that's how it goes when you have pagans and Quakers for parents), Lars was just staring blankly at Cecilie. I said, "you don't know what this is all about, do you Lars...?", upon which Cecilie explains: "it's just about Gawd, Lars..." This makes him break out in huge giggles, and she finishes: "You knew that,didn't you Lars?"

The house (oh yes, its still there) is being plastered - the dry-wall guys are in for the final furlong (oh yes, we've heard THAT one before...); well, once they're done there is painting and floor finishing and kitchen installation and a few bits and bobs to go, but who's really keeping track?!? I am not entirely disillusioned, but my hope for a Halloween at the house is kind of slipping by, as always Kirsten is right!

Farmor is leaving, thanks for all your help.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Hey ho, Kirsten's a Christian

Well no major surprises there, although I had hoped to be more of a Quaker I will admit. My downfall was believing in a good fight every once in a while....

1. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (100%)
2. Orthodox Quaker (96%)
3. Liberal Quakers (90%)
4. Unitarian Universalism (82%)
5. Reform Judaism (80%)
6. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (70%)
7. Neo-Pagan (70%)
8. Bah�'� Faith (68%)
9. Eastern Orthodox (67%)
10. Roman Catholic (67%)

More Cecilie classics

We were leaving school this afternoon, and I had a very tired (and heavy!) 3 yr old in my arms. Sleepily she said to me "Before I came to school here, you checked this place out, didn't you?"

At bathtime, Lars was happily playing in the tub with his little boats and sucking on the washcloth [flannel] when Cecilie came in full-bore and leapt into the water. She scooched right down under the water, looked happily up at me and said "Its nice to pee..." When I protested and pointed out the grossness of such, she looked at me like I was stupid and said "But Mommy - I only peed on the bottom!" [And yes dear reader, I did drain the tub.]

And as we sang our way into dreamland, we came upon the classic, 'I Will Make You Fishers of Men', in which there is a verse that goes 'hear Christ calling, come unto me, I will give you rest'. Well I just about lost it when I realised that Cecilie, Diva Cecilie, was singing 'hear Christ calling Come-On to Me....'

I will leave it at that, and we can all shake our heads and wonder what kind of teenager she will be. Eileen has already pointed out that I need to start preparing mentally for this.

Nå er det jul igjen

You know, after all it is October...

As expected, Costco has had xmas going for a couple of months already, even Giant (our local grocery store - yes, we have a Giant on our side...) has had a great big snowball on display for three weeks now, and every time we go by, Cecilie jumps up and down and shouts "I LOVE xmas, so much!". 

I don't think it was the "rubbing of the lamb" (sounds either perverse, or sacrilegious, I can't decide which, so it is staying), but it could be that my sister confirmed that she was definitely coming, combined with the fact that we have a proper front porch now (-think tasteful display) and that Kirsten came down with a cup of coffee this morning and said, "it's almost time to add ginger bread syrup". Yeah right, ALMOST-- levys broke and the flood gates opened... I now have ginger bread syrup in my coffee and xmas in my heart!

Growing up with xmas beginning on December 23rd (little christmas eve) and lasting to the 13th day, I might have been a little bit reluctant (well, maybe for one year I was reluctant...) to adopt what can only be described as "bringing it on, early and long" strategy to the whole thing. However, I am now a full convert (who cares about "Advent" anyways - pink and purple doesn't work with red AT ALL, and all that other stuff that supposedly comes before just doesn't fly).

You will find Norwegians not having a single "red day" between 17th of May and Christmas. Americans have what's called "holiday season", which is shorthand for "summer is over and to not get too depressed we need something to take our attention away from the change in weather and the shorter days". It empirically works wonders, and I can only feebly guess what it would do to the English and their national psyche if they successfully managed to adopt a similar tool; they might even win the World Cup!?! (Clearly, just having "Premier League season" hasn't really cut it, and Guy Fawkes, who the hell is he, anyways?).

Let's be truthful (secularly speaking): Ramadan, Leif Ericson Day, Sports Day, Columbus Day,Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Lailat Ul Qadr, Eid, Halloween, Culture day, Armistice, Thanksgiving and the Immaculate Conception, even Zwarte Pieten, are all nice to have, they are like sub-plots in a novel - let's all get out of the closet and start celebrating Baby Jesus, born to rock, and ginger bread syrup in our coffee!

If you are in dire need a holiday, you could always check out this site. There is plenty to go around: tomorrow is national cinnamon bun day in Sweden!!! Appears to me an excellent way to fight seasonal depression.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

Jon in Iraq

Just to keep everyone updated, my younger brother Jon deployed last week for his 3rd deployment in Iraq. I think this is the toughest deployment so far, because he has had to say goodbye not only to his gorgeous wife, but also his equally gorgeous boy who worships him.
So we'd be grateful if any and all readers of Nilsen Life would keep Jon, Kierstin & Jack in their thoughts & prayers. If anyone wants an email address or a postal address, we're happy to supply it, but it might not be prudent to publish these details on a blog.

So shout out to Jawn, and hope he knows how much we love him & pray for his safe return.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Carwash and Christmas meat

So this is what the Nilsens have been up to this week...

Torbjorn has been undertaking the ritual preparation of the Christmas lamb. This involves about 20lbs of salt, and huge racks of lamb ribs. It was all too visceral for some of us in the household, but Torbjorn was game (geddit) for pulling on the rubber dishwashing gloves and grinding the salt in to the meat, where it will sit in a Rubbermaid box for about 2 weeks.

Then, the meat is hung up to dry until Christmas. Most of the Nilsens will be in Catonsville for the holidays, and then we will soak the meat, boil it, then grill it for the traditional Xmas Eve pinnekjott.
For my feeble contributions (pouring the salt) I got a severe case of nausea, on the upside I was told on great authority that I have now attained full "Norwegianhoodness".

And equally ritualistic, Cecilie assisted her Grandpa with the Friday afternoon carwash. This was the Schneider kids' job EVERY Friday, but now that we're grown and not so good about remembering our training, I guess he's going to train the next generation. And oh boy, was she proud.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What I believe in...

I took this test and it turns out I am:

1. Neo-Pagan (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (99%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (95%)
4. Reform Judaism (91%)
5. New Age (89%)
6. Mahayana Buddhism (83%)

Now I know, how interesting...


We're turning a corner, this is the final "before" picture, from here on in we're building and making, rather than tearing down, we should be done "building" within two weeks... won't have a countertop, but that's so highly OVERRATED!!!

We both put in some time painting bedrooms today, it felt really good.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cecilie is three!!!

There is much to be said for spreading your birthday over two days - two special birthday bike rides, two candle-blowing sessions, and most importantly: TWO CAKES.

Cecilie had her family birthday on the 23rd, with presents from Farmor, Grandma & Grandpa and Mommy & Daddy in the morning, along with pancake breakfast. The big present (purchased the night before, see previous blog) was a big red wagon with 2 seats, seatbelts, and ooo la la - cupholders.

Saturday was the Flower Birthday Party, with 4 of Cecilie's friends: Lauren, Emily, Mira and Naomi. It all started out so simply, a little girl party with crafts on the back porch. But perhaps I should have known that getting inspiration from a Martha Stewart kid's birthday party will only lead to heartache - or rather, to neurotic obsession with finding every flower-themed product out there, and artfully draping candy worms out of cupcake flowerpots at 1 am the night before.

All said & done, the party was a smashing success, with flower shaped sandwiches, flower shape jello, lemonade and daisy cookies. The crowning glory was a bright green marzipan cream cake with yellow daisies made by Farmor & Daddy.

Grandma was Master of Ceremonies & had the girls 'digging in the garden' [sandbox] for treasure, painting & gluing their own flower pictures, and planting grass seeds in tiny flowerpots. The most popular activity was the high energy Daddy game of very fast rides in the new wagon, all around the garden.

Success would be measured by no tantrums, minimal tears, maximum sharing and no throwing up. Note to selves: paint in craft projects not recommended, after Lauren ended up sitting in the middle of her project of wet green paint.

Seems all at once like a very LONG three years, but also an incredibly short time as I watch my grown up girl march around in her school clothes & big girl shoes. Three years ago she was such a tiny thing! Such the paradox of parenting.

As always, if you want more pictures, see photobox. Let us know if you don't have, and want, access.
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