Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy Six Weeks, Baby Silas!

What can I say about this darling baby other than, awwwwwwwwwwwwww!
We love this little boy with all of our hearts!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's Give Kimball a High Five!

Darling "Mr. Personality" aka Kimball turns a whopping five years old today! How can this be? I still refer to him as, "The Baby" for goodness sakes! Kimball brings so much liveliness, cheer, and happiness into our lives! If ever there was a soul to possess joie de vivre, Kimball is the one!


Kimball has a knack for bringing smiles and laughter to all those lucky enough to rub shoulders with him!

 These are photos taken during our Skyping excursion with the birthday boy just one day shy of his birthday. So, I guess Kimball would be, what, four years and 364/365ths here?

This was Kimball's farewell sendoff to us as we left La Jolla to return home last month.
 See? Mr. Personality in living color!


Friday, December 27, 2013

What Were You Doing at 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve?

Christian wrote that he was able to take part of the Swedish tradition of watching "Kalle Anka" at exactly 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and says he is definitely carrying on the tradition with his future children! This has been going on since 1959 in Sweden, and old and young alike participate. I love the thought of traditions being passed down from generation to generation, no matter how head-scratching they may be. Sounds like a pretty grand time to me! Read all about it:

Nordic Quack

Sweden's bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas Eve.

Nothing says Christmas like Donald Duck … if you’re Swedish. Every culture has its own holiday customs, and “partially lapsed Jew” and non-Swede Jeremy Stahl stumbled upon an odd one during a trip to Sweden. In the article reprinted below, Stahl explains the Christmas cartoon tradition.
Kalle Anka and the Aracuan Bird
Kalle Anka and the Aracuan Bird
Three years ago, I went to Sweden with my then-girlfriend (now wife), to meet her family and celebrate my first Christmas. As an only partially lapsed Jew, I was not well-versed in Christmas traditions, and I was completely ignorant of Swedish customs and culture. So I was prepared for surprises. I was not prepared for this: Every year on Dec. 24 at 3 p.m., half of Sweden sits down in front of the television for a family viewing of the 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas special, "From All of Us to All of You." Or as it is known in Sverige,Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul: "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas."
Kalle Anka, for short, has been airing without commercial interruption at the same time on Sweden's main public-television channel, TV1, on Christmas Eve (when Swedes traditionally celebrate the holiday) since 1959. The show consists of Jiminy Cricket presenting about a dozen Disney cartoons from the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s, only a couple of which have anything to do with Christmas. There are "Silly Symphonies" shorts and clips from films like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, andThe Jungle Book. The special is pretty much the same every year, except for the live introduction by a host (who plays the role of Walt Disney from the original Walt Disney Presents series) and the annual addition of one new snippet from the latest Disney-produced movie, which TV1's parent network, SVT, is contractually obligated by Disney to air.
Kalle Anka is typically one of the three most popular television events of the year, with between 40 and 50 percent of the country tuning in to watch. In 2008, the show had its lowest ratings in more than 15 years but was still taken in by 36 percent of the viewing public, some 3,213,000 people. Lines of dialogue from the cartoons have entered common Swedish parlance. Stockholm's Nordic Museum has a display in honor of the show in an exhibit titled "Traditions."Each time the network has attempted to cancel or alter the show, public backlash has been swift and fierce.
Kalle Anka (pronounced kah-lay ahn-kah) gets its name from the star of the show's second animated short, a 1944 cartoon called "Clown of the Jungle," in which Donald Duck is tormented by a demented Aracuan Bird during a luckless ornithological expedition. The short is typical of the random violence of many early Disney cartoons. The sadistic Aracuan (regularly mistaken in Sweden for Hacke Hackspett, or Woody Woodpecker) sprays Kalle with seltzer, bashes his head in with a mallet, blows him up with an exploding cigar, threatens to kill himself simultaneously by hanging and gunshot, and ultimately drives the infuriated Kalle insane.
Watching Kalle Anka for the first time, I was taken aback not only by the datedness of the clips (and the somewhat random dubbing) but also by how seriously my adoptive Swedish family took the show. Nobody talked, except to recite favorite lines along with the characters. My soon-to-be father-in-law, a burly man built like a Scandinavian spruce, laughed at jokes he had obviously heard scores of times before. Nobody blinked at the antiquated animation, the cheesiness of the stories, or even the good-old-fashioned '30s-era Disney-style racism. (In the 1932 "Silly Symphonies" short "Santa's Workshop," there is a scene involving a black doll who yells "Mammy" at the sight of Santa Claus then moons the screen. It was eventually censored from the American version of the cartoon but remains in Kalle Anka.)
The show's cultural significance cannot be overstated.* You do not tape or DVR Kalle Anka for later viewing. You do not eat or prepare dinner while watching Kalle Anka. Age does not matter—every member of the family is expected to sit quietly together and watch a program that generations of Swedes have been watching for 50 years. Most families plan their entire Christmas around Kalle Anka, from the Smörgåsbord at lunch to the post-Kalle visit from Jultomten. "At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you can't do anything else, because Sweden is closed," Lena Kättström Höök, a curator at the Nordic Museum who manages the "Traditions" exhibit, told me. "So even if you don't want to watch it yourself, you can't call anyone else or do anything else, because no one will do it with you."
To Kättström Höök, Sweden's affection for Kalle Anka is tied up with older holiday traditions. "It's the dream of the old peasant village before people moved to towns," she said. "Kalle Anka is almost like gathering around the fire in old times and listening to fairy tales."
But how did these tales become part of Sweden's folklore? It was largely an accident of history, specifically the history of television in Sweden. The show first aired in 1959, when Swedes were just starting to own televisions. "You couldn't have done this in 1970," said Charlotte Hagström, an ethnology professor at Lund University and archivist of the university's Folk Life Archives. "It had to be 1960 when television was new." The fact that there was only one channel in Sweden until 1969 and only two—both public-service stations run by Sweden's equivalent of the BBC—until 1987 helped, too. As did the fact that, for years, Christmas was the only time when Swedes could see Disney animation—or any American cartoons—on television.
Over the last half-century, the characters and sketches have become as much a part of the holiday as the Christmas tree, so much so that each time TV1 has suggested modifying the schedule, public outcry has forced the network to back down. In the 1970s, Helena Sandblad, then head of children's programming, attempted to pull the show off of the air because broadcasting a Disney program didn't jibe with the prevailing political ethos. "Everything was pretty serious in the '70s and anything that was commercial, or considered commercial, was not good, was considered an ugly word," said SVT publicity officer Ursula Haegerström. After newspapers got wind of the plans to cancel the show, the station was bombarded with letters, phone calls, and negative press. Sandblad received personal threats. "That was one of the worst audience storms in our history," Haegerström told me.
SVT ultimately gave in, and Kalle was saved. In 1982, the network made the seemingly innocuous decision to replace one of the special's most beloved cartoons, the 1938 Oscar-winning short "Ferdinand the Bull," with "The Ugly Duckling." Again newspapers picked up the story and public outcry ensued. Munro Leaf's famous taleof a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in a Spanish coliseum was touted by leftists during the Spanish Civil War and World War II as a parable of pacifism. That the message resonates with a nation defined by a centuries-long policy of neutralityshouldn't come as a big surprise. Since 1983, when Ferdinand was returned to its rightful place in the lineup, the program has remained largely unaltered.
Kalle Anka and Friends has made national icons out of its cartoon characters—Kalle, Ferdinand, Piff och Puff (Chip and Dale), Musse Pigg (Mickey Mouse), Långben (Goofy), Pluto—but also its Swedish stars. Arne Weise, who hosted the show live from 1972 to 2002, personified Christmas to two generations of Swedes. In 1992, when he attempted to get the network to record his portion of the program in advance so that he could spend Christmas with his family, newspapers got a hold of the story and helped scuttle the change. "We had recorded everything, but no way," SVT's Haegerström said. "[The] host was supposed to sit there in some sort of vigil over Christmas."
Weise claims that Sweden's stubborn insistence that he record live every year destroyed his personal life, blaming the show for his three divorces. "I wasn't easy to live with—I was in a bad mood out of nervousness before going on air, and tired afterwards. That doesn't help to make you a good father or lover," he told the newspaper Aftonbladet in 2007. During his final taping of the show, in 2002, Weise—whose history of alcohol problems is well-known to Swedes—claimed to have been "high as a kite" on the morphine pills he was taking at the time for psoriasis. The other popular national figure to emerge from the program is Bengt Feldreich, the Swedish voice of Jiminy Cricket and narrator of much of the program. Feldreich, a Swedish television reporter who built his name interviewing Nobel Laureates for SVT's news division, is now most famous for his impromptu rendition of "When You Wish Upon a Star" during the original taping of the show.
Lund University's Hagström faced her own Kalle Anka backlash in 2004 when she gave an interview to the Swedish news agency TT, suggesting that the widespread popularity of DVDs and cable television had changed the meaning of Kalle Anka for younger Swedes. The Swedish media sensationalized the story. The headline in the popular tabloid Expressen read "Is Kalle Anka on His Way out of Christmas?" Critical comments soon flooded online messageboards. But the next generation of Swedes may not quite have the same dedication to the special. Despite the consistently strong ratings, SVT's Haegerström could not predict how much longer Kalle Anka will last as a national institution. "I think that we will probably hang in there for a few more years at least. I see my grandchildren, you know, they're not as attached to it as their parents," she told me.
For the time being, though, Kalle Anka is safe. Sweden's staunch defense of Kalle against all attackers, perceived and real, suggests an affection that has long since transcended the circumstances that first made it popular. For many Swedes, there is something comforting about knowing that every year there is one hour, on one day, when you sit down with everyone in your family and just be together. "People always want to change everything, and make everything new," Feldreich, Sweden's Jiminy Cricket, told the Swedish newspaper Länstidningen in 2008. "And then, like in a fairy tale from when we were kids, there's something familiar." Kalle Anka, he said, "offers security in a confusing world."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

He's Baaaaaaaaaaack! The Prodigal Son Has Returned!

You may or may not remember that I mentioned some time ago that our little mascot, Aldolpho, got lost somewhere in Australia or Hawaii when he took a trip with one of my little nine-year-old pals who didn't quite understand what she was supposed to do with Aldolpho during her travels.

Well, looky at what I found on my front porch the other day with no explanation from his traveling companion! Aldolpho is back! YEEHAW!!! (That package Aldolpho is laying on has nothing to do with his return; packages arriving on my front porch are an almost daily occurrence. {Internet shopping is just soooooo easy, isn't it . . . .})

I am so happy to have our little troll back, with or without both shoes! Actually, Aldolpho had already lost a shoe somewhere along the way before he ever went on his world tour with Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Be on the lookout for an Aldolpho sighting coming your way very soon!

Monday, December 16, 2013

You Be the Judge!

Remember when I showed you this photo of Baby Silas and told you that he does have a lot of his daddy in him, but his profile is just like his mama's when she was a babe? Well, I'll let you decide whether I speak the truth!

Here is darling Baby Silas:

Here is darling Baby Ashley: 

Render your verdict, but I think I've successfully made my case!

Friday, December 13, 2013

November's Dessert Doodah!

We try to hold a Sagers Sunday Dessert Night about once a month for our family who live in the area, as well as the collge-aged kids and their friends. It is always so much fun, and November's go-round was especially stellar with close to 40 people joining in the fun! We served waffles and buttermilk syrup, and let me just say that the syrup was basically being devoured straight up. It is good stuff, that. I'll post the recipe below because, believe you me, you want it. You do. You may  not know it, but you do.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 t. vanilla
1 T light corn syrup
1/2 t. baking soda

In a large pot or saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla and corn syrup. Heat until everything is well combined and bring to a boil. Quickly remove the pot from the heat and add the baking soda, place back over the heat, stirring constantly. The syrup will grow large and threaten to boil over(!) which is why a large pot is essential. If it gets too close to the top, remove from the burner and continue stirring to bring it down. Stir for 30 seconds over heat (I often take mine off of the heat so I don't risk it boiling over) and serve!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Min vackre, unge son är 21 år i dag! WOOT!

Goodness to pete, people!
Do you have ANY idea how much I love this boy of mine?
Any idea at all?
I love him to the moon and back and then back again.
I love him more than there are stars in the sky.
I love him more than there are grains of sand.
I love him more my pitiful little keyboard could ever convey in mere words.
I love him with all of my heart.
With all of my soul.
With all of my being.
With every breath.
With everything that I am.
And even then, that's not coming anywhere close to how much I love my Christian, my Feller.
I pray that his heart will just know of that unfathomable love.
I love him.

Happy, happy 21st birthday to this darling, precious, cherished boy o' mine!

Monday, December 09, 2013

What Time Is It? It's Time for Another Dose of Cuteness!

Did Kimball just climb up the beanstalk to the land of the giants, or WHAT?!!!

I have a feeling these two are going to be best buds . . . forever!

This adorable one has a ton of his daddy in him, but his profile is exactly like his darling mama's when she was just a wee little thing!

Do you spy the red hair? Precious! :D

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Hey! How's the Weather Over There?

Here is the coolest map ever! Click on this link, and you will find a map of Sweden that looks like this:

Then, allow your mouse to hover over the area on the left-hand side, third from the bottom or until you read Vastra Gotaland in the upper-left hand corner. Click on that. You should get this:

Now, click on the dot that says Uddevalla and you will be able to see Christian's current weather in Utby which is right next to Uddevalla, and jeepers, people! Now, I'm worried sick about that boy and his skinny little self! B-b-b-b-b-b-boy, I sure hope he has his rabbit fur-lined long johns on, haha!

 P.S. It is already TGIF for Christian!

Monday, December 02, 2013

You Could Say I'm Just a Little Bit in Love . . .

Goodness gracious, sakes alive! 
We have the most beautiful little baby boy since Kimball was born! Please sit back and enjoy getting to know Silas Jude Haug!

Big brother Kimball is smitten! 
As am I! (Uhhh, obviously.)