Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Polar Plunge

I kid you not. Two weeks ago in 22° weather, while 
spectators stood around dressed like this

Christina and Erica were dressed like this

And did this
(Check out the ice chunks)

A 12 second video guaranteed to make you smile. 
You'll enjoy the video more if you click the bottom
right corner to make the video screen size before 
you click the play button. 

She claims that it was great.

If jumping in freezing water isn't crazy
enough, check out the high-heeled boots. 

Take a look-see at their fellow Polar Plungers

Elvis Presley

Someone dressed in full ski attire

A Polar Bear

A Mermaid

Her husband

So glad that my daughters emerged from this experience unscathed, but I'll have a hard time taking them seriously the next time they complain about being cold. Our snow has melted and the lake is slowly cracking up so no more winter crazies. Thankfully spring is here. Sort of.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Signs of Spring

 Winter is slowly releasing it's grip on the Northland

Lake Superior by Cornucopia, Wisconsin

Photos courtesy of Christina, The Camera Queen

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  
The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  
~ Henry Van Dyke ~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Gift Giver

Keith is at the point in his life where he regularly checks the obituaries. At least once a week he logs on to the website of a funeral home in his hometown. Sometimes he knows the deceased, sometimes not, but last Wednesday a name arrested his attention.

Bert Kluver.

As in one of his parent's closest friends, someone who has known Keith all his life. Someone who has been a permanent fixture on Keith's landscape for as long as he can remember. Someone Keith held in high regard.

We wrestled with the decision to drive down. Pastors can't just take off whenever they please. Subs are hard to find, so when someone offered to fill in, we left before he could change his mind.

Keith elected not to take our roomy gas-guzzling passenger van. Instead we (him, me, and our two youngest daughters) squeezed into our tiny fuel-efficient Geo Metro for the nine hour drive south. Oy! Thank goodness for Taco Bell and car movies on laptops to take our minds off the close quarters.

Though gathered for a sad occasion, it was soul satisfying to embrace family members. To gather from our far flung ports of call because a family link was missing. To reconnect and circle in with remaining family members to speak family to one another. To know that though we don't agree with everything each other says or does we love unconditionally because we're family. Technically I don't have a drop of Vik/Johnson blood in me but love grafted me into the family tree.

Bert Kluver. A gentle man. Quiet with a dry sense of humor. Kind, honest, hard-working. The epitome of faithfulness, he was married to the same woman for 58 years, worked at the same job for 36 years, and lived in the same house and attended the same church for six decades.

Bert's daughter wrote a beautiful eulogy that Keith read at the funeral. Keith began by saying his name was Keith Vik, for which he was eternally thankful. Seems Bert and Keith's father, Elmer, before Keith's birth had toyed with the idea of giving the new baby a combination of their two first names. My husband is very grateful they went with "Keith" instead of "Elbert."

Keith shared that their two families had spent countless hours at each other's homes over the years. As a boy, Keith loved the different toys and the tomato ketchup dispenser at the Kluver's house but often grew fidgety and restless when the adults sat around for hours talking and drinking coffee. Then when Keith became an adult he found to his surprise that he enjoyed drinking coffee and sitting around talking.

The Kluver home was a magnet and neighborhood kids played countless games of baseball and football on the front lawn.

A neighbor commented that "Those kids are tearing up your grass." To which Bert replied, "I'm growing kids, not grass."

Once when Bert's son and his buddies played ball in the front yard, a bat went sailing through the living room window, scattering glass all over the floor.  The kids froze and looked over at the window where they saw Bert reading the newspaper in the living room. Bert briefly stopped, looked over the top of his paper and went back to reading. He never said a word.

90 years is a long time to live. His once strong body had weakened, his hearing was bad, and he moved slow. He kept busy but dearly missed his deceased wife. Nobody begrudges Bert his departure, but we didn't want him to go.Though he had run a good race, we weren't willing for it to be over.

Keith concluded the eulogy by saying that he had taken his childhood for granted. Until he left home he had no way of knowing that everyone hadn't grown up like he did. As an adult he realized that the solid foundation of faith, family, friendship, faithfulness, and simplicity had anchored his life.

He addressed his cousins, saying, "Kent and Nancy, our parents gave us the gift of a happy childhood and I will always be thankful. They were the gift givers and we were very blessed."


"Grief is the price we pay for love."  ~ Queen Elizabeth II ~

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why It's Risky to Befriend My Children

Andrew and Christina
Christina’s friend Andrew innocently asked her brother Andrew to be Facebook friends. Bear in mind the two Andrews have never met.

Our Andrew accepts friendship requests from anybody whether he knows them or not. The friendly kid has 1,014 friends. He shot back a response.  “Apparently you know my sisters.”

Andrew G: Yeah man, Owe some thanks to Christina, just talked her into giving me a haircut  (1:18 am)

(editor’s note Mama here, somewhat mystified, though not surprised at the hour this conversation took place)

And now the crazy begins.Top of Form

Andrew Vik: What? You don’t like to support the working man? People like you are going to put real barbers out of business. (Just messin with you man.) 

My wife really wants me to get a haircut too, so let me know how Christina did and maybe I can get a free haircut when I get home next.   (1:22 am)

Another country heard from, as my Mom used to say. 

Kiah Vik: WhAt!?!?! You know I'm the only real professional hairdresser around here! Just you remember that the next time you come home buddy! I'M the DIVA in the family!!!!! : )  (1:24 am)

Andrew Vik: Actually Rachel (editor’s note – his wife) may want dibs on cutting my hair, but I am a little fearful. I am a professional now, can't be rocking a mullet any ol time I want. (1:26 am)

Kiah Vik: Okay buddy, for the record you MADE/BEGGED/LIED to get me to give you a mullet. Mullet equals gag me with a spoon and throw me overboard! Pllah!  (1:28 am)

(editor's note: Kiah referenced a haircut 
she gave Andrew in 2008.)

Andrew Vik: I would do it again in a heartbeat. Andrew (not talking to myself here) Do you think Christina would give me a mullet if I asked? (1:32 am)

Kiah Vik: Andrew (talking to my brother here) that's an emphatic "N-O"! Besides you can't make such marriage altering decisions in the absence of your wife...she'll probably never leave your side again if she comes back home from school and you have a mullet! (1:34 am)

Andrew Vik: Oh dear, I forgot Rachel and I are facebook friends, she might see this post and comment tomorrow, and then I will be forced to have a civil haircut. Oh well, I look really good with a civil haircut. (1:38 am)

Kiah Vik: you look good because you perfected "the smolder" years ago! I love ya, have a good night......I'm still putting off my homework if you can't tell!  (1:40 am)

A day later, the person who originally started the conversation finally chimed back in. 

Andrew G: Gotta love family  

(Editor’s note: Sheesh! It’s a wonder we have any friends.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Skunk Lessons #101

Word to the wise: Be sure to teach your children what to do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk.

We assumed that dealing with the fallout of coming out on the wrong end of a skunk was common knowledge, but found out the hard way we were wrong.

Last Tuesday night these two knuckleheads went running with two friends at midnight.

Keith and I approve of exercise and fresh air but don't endorse the running at midnight thing.

Kiah and her friend K ran faster than Christina and her friend A so Kiah took this fellow with her.

Thinking it was late (duh!) and since no one was out, they let Tucker off his leash, where he must have had a close encounter of the smelly kind.

Now this is the part that suspends belief.

Kiah and K got tired of waiting for Christina so decided to go back to K's house. Not recognizing the skunk smell for what it was (?????) Kiah put Tucker in her car and then took him inside K's house.

Kiah and K finally became concerned about the smell but thought it was a gas leak. They called the non-emergency 911 number but were told it wasn't a gas leak. Kiah brought Tucker home, still not realizing he'd been sprayed by a skunk.

In her defense, she was leaving the next day for a week in Colorado so her mind and nose were elsewhere. While Kiah packed for her trip, she let Tucker run around downstairs. Sigh!

Christina got home an hour later, took one whiff, and instantly identified the offending odor. She asked Kiah why she hadn't washed him and Kiah said she was going to leave him until morning and let Mom and Dad take care of it.

Excuse me!?!?!?!?

Christina coaxed Tucker into the tub but he hates baths and didn't cooperate. She first tried shampoo. When that didn't work, she found a recipe online to get rid of skunk odor so put the now freaked out dog back in the tub. Took both girls quite a while to push/pull/yell/cajole Tucker back into the torture chamber.

When the second treatment did the trick, Kiah decided to inform us about the fiasco. Keith and I were peacefully sleeping upstairs, blissfully unaware of the situation, when Kiah opened our door and let a waft of skunk smell into our bedroom. We were in a deep sleep so had a hard time waking up. We looked at each other wondering if we'd heard correctly. The clock read 2:00 am. Now folks, such things ought not to be.

Keith and I got up but Tucker had already had his bath. We grumped at the girls and then went back to bed but couldn't get to sleep so tossed and turned for three hours, all the while smelling the disturbing odor.

Christina washed the towels they'd used in Tucker's bath and her skunkified clothing. The first wash didn't get rid of the smell and they sat wet in the washer over night with the lid closed. Pew!!! Took a few washings with vinegar to get the job done. Then had to run an empty load with bleach to de-scent the washer.

All the coats that hung in the laundry room stank.

Someone put Tucker's stinky collar in the garage so, yep, you guessed it, the garage smelled too.

Tucker was a skittish mess the next day, slinking around, being clingy, and jumping at his own shadow.

When Kiah's friend K went to work the next day, someone called the janitor into her room because they couldn't figure out where the odd smell was coming from.

We've nicknamed Kiah's car, "The Skunkmobile" as it still reeks. Christina sprayed vinegar in there to absorb the odor so now the car smells like skunk, vinegar, and spoiled mayonaise.

In one fell swoop, the skunk via Tucker via Kiah stunk up one car, two houses, a garage, two loads of laundry, and a classroom. Talk about the ripple effect.

If ever there was a time to use the Scandinavian all purpose word, "Uffda," now was the time.

The smell is gradually subsiding and hopefully lessons were learned all the way around. (right girls?)

I'm linking up with Rachel at Once Upon a Miracle for True Story Tuesday. She is one funny lady so be sure to check her out.

P.S. - For future reference, here's the DeSkunkifier Recipe
1 qt. of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
¼ to ½ cups Baking Soda
1 – 2 tsp. dish soap. (Don't store this in a closed container since the mixture creates pressure and could burst.) If the bleaching effect hydrogen peroxide could have on your dog’s coat is a concern, try substituting vinegar for the peroxide.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Mugs - Green

My youngest daughter kept asking today, "Mom, are you going to do Monday Mugs?" 

I said yes but wasn't sure which pictures to use so she amused herself for awhile by finding pictures in my computer files that might work.

This, believe it or not, is a picture of Erica after the Polar Bear Plunge last Saturday. I'll post more about that later. Why anyone would jump into freezing water is beyond me, but she enjoyed herself immensely. 

Lastly, a 2009 photo of "The Cahoots"  (Vikspeak
for our two youngest) with their visiting aunt.

Amy used Picnik to edit this photo. Good job, Amy.

 Heather took some sweet photos of her kiddos wearing green on Oswald Cuties. Check out her blog for other Green Monday Mugs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Across the Bay - Pt. 2

A funny thing happened when Christina posted her Book Across the Bay pictures on Facebook.

Christina had bought a pair of Yaktrax to keep her boots from slipping on the ice. She finished the race and noticed she'd lost her right Yaktrax. She looked everywhere she could think of but no Yaktrax. She went back the next day to look and called Lost and Found but no Yaktrax. 

When she posted this picture on Facebook,

A friend commented,"Christina, Look at your Yaktrax."

So we all looked, and sure enough, there it was laying on the ground by the left sign post. (You have to look real close to see it)

So being young and invincible, the friend picked her up and they drove out on the ice at midnight to look but it wasn't there anymore. 

Another friend found a blue one and gave it to Christina. Wouldn't it be funny if the person who lost the blue one found her green one and they now have matching pairs?

When Christina checked with Lost & Found about her Yaktrax, she discovered they had Kiah's missing camera. We got the camera back yesterday and enjoyed seeing our BATB pictures. 


Amy and friend from church

Lani and Kiah

Enjoying our "cool experience"

In looking closer at the race results I saw that only 22 people came in after me. How embarrassing. But at least I wasn't last.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Birthday Limerick

As you know Keith recently had his 53rd birthday. I would have said celebrated his birthday but he spent that auspicious day in bed sick with a queasy stomach. My friend Susan wrote a clever limerick for him.  

 We heard Sir Vik was sick,
A birthday avoidance trick?
Instead of a sermon
He spent the day squirmin'?
We hope his recovery was quick!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Indian Giver


Not exactly sure how to use this post. I was inspired by the Monday Mug's theme this week of "Dinner."  But since it's no longer Monday here in Northern Wisconsin I'm hoping with time zones and the international date line that it's still Monday somewhere in the world.

Besides Monday Mugs is more for pictures. This is a full blown story, so I'm also linking up with Rachel at Once Upon a Miracle for True Story Tuesday. 

If you just want a Monday Mugs pictures, here it is.

Now I know this isn't the most interesting picture you've ever seen, but I couldn't fit everyone in. We had a lot of people over for dinner Sunday afternoon and people are lined like this all around the room while we're making introductions before filing into the kitchen for food. 

If you want the extended version, please read on. 

Christina invited friends over for Sunday lunch/dinner or whatever the noon meal is called where you live. Said to expect seven guests which added to our eight totals 15 people. No problem. Easy Breezy. Piece of cake. 

Kiah and Anna
We fix three pans of lasagna, a humungous bowl of salad, homemade bread, and a mint chocolate ice cream cake. Sunday morning Christina says the number has jumped to 19. I take a deep breath and try not to panic. 19 is only four more than 15. I can do this.

In church I make mental to-do lists while listening to the sermon (sorry Keith). I mentally count available chairs, step-stool, Keith's office chair, and the piano bench hoping we have enough seating. I plot the quickest escape route from church knowing I need to dash home and make sure everyone picked up their underwear. 

I spit shine the bathroom, make two salad dressings, and conscript every person in the house to work on last minute things. 

I look over at our adopted college student "Eric" who I'd sweet talked into slicing the bread and say, "I'm sorry for being uptight. I'll calm down as soon as everything's ready. I promise." 

Eric comments that this is a side of me he hasn't seen before but says he doesn't mind helping as it beats just sitting there doing nothing.

Kiah and "Eric"
Guests start arriving including people who weren't included in the original count. Normally I'm a "more the merrier kind of person" but we're soon not going to have enough chairs and I'm starting to worry about having enough food.

Someone counted 22 people plus a set of infant twins. 

I know Jesus once multiplied loaves and fishes so I'm hoping He'll make sure the food doesn't run out. 

I spread a sheet on the floor in the family room and ask the five youngest girls to eat in back. The twins need to be nursed so their Mama goes in the back room to feed them. I go back to check on her, mortified to find her sitting on the floor. 

"Don't you want to sit in the chair?"

"Oh no," she says. "This works better. I do it all the time." I cringe knowing the floor hasn't been vacuumed in a few weeks and she'll be picking dog hair off her backside for days. 

Don't get me wrong. I love company and we enjoy getting to know our children's friends. I just get uptight with the logistics of feeding that many people.

I'm relieved to see there's enough food. There usually is but I seem programmed to worry. 

Tall guest. Look, he's taller than the hutch!
Finally there's one piece of lasagna left. Eric eyes the pan. He's already been back for seconds but I offer him the last piece anyway. He mulls it over, not sure he has room for more.

He decides to take the piece saying he'd hate for me to have to go through the trouble of finding a container to put it in. Just as he dishes up more salad and the last piece of lasagna, another guest walks in. 

The guest apologizes for being late and I say that's okay and ask if he'd like something to eat, sort of at this point hoping he'd already eaten as I'd just given away the last piece of lasagna.

He said, "Sure." so I did what any hostess would do...

"Psst, "Eric. I'm sorry but I need that piece of lasagna back."

Eric discreetly slides the lasagna on to a clean plate and our guest was none the wiser. I offer to make it up to Eric but he says he was full and didn't need the extra piece. Besides he'd already single-handedly eaten three quarters of a loaf of homemade bread.

I smile when I think of how good God is. I asked Him to make sure there was enough food and He did. Right down to the last piece.

The moral of this story is when visiting our house to eat your food fast because the hostess might change her mind and ask for it back. 

Check out more Monday Mugs at Oswald Cuties and more True Story Tuesdays at Once Upon a Miracle.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Important Retraction

In an ongoing effort to ensure this blog is error-free, so you can trust that I take no liberties with the truth, I print the following retraction. 

An "anonymous" comment from someone in the know helped me see the error of my ways. My husband Keith's birthday post led you to believe that he wore a certain colorful outfit to the prom but that simply wasn't true. 

You know how they say truth is stranger than fiction, well...

Keith went to the prom in a green 1967 Plymouth Fury in a lavender tux...

...and not this purple get-up.

Apparently the plaid polyester suit was more of an everyday church outfit.

I stand corrected.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Christina's Honduras Trip - Pt. 2

 “ I am only one,
But still I am One,
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do
the something that I can do.”
--Everett Hale--
Thanks for your interest in Christina's recent trip. (To read Part 1 click here) I asked her to share more specifically what her team did.
We flew from weather in Duluth to 85° in Honduras. We stayed at Santa Barbara, a town of 20,000 located in Northern Honduras, and traveled every day outside the city to our clinics.

First we organized supplies. We each brought two STUFFED suitcases and left most the stuff there. 

We assembled bags of basic supplies to pass out at our clinics. The bags contained sugar, salt, lard, soap, clothes, sewing supplies, and personal hygiene items. 

In the areas we visited, children cannot go to school unless they have shoes. We brought down money to buy shoes from a local shoemaker. Eight dollars buys a pair of shoes and the chance for a Honduran child to get an education. We were tickled to purchase 176 pairs of shoes!

We hiked four hours to our first medical clinic in the remote village of La Chorrera which is accessed only by this wooden bridge. There used to be missing boards but the doctors threatened not to return unless the locals repaired the bridge. 

We held four days of clinics, each in a different town. We primarily saw mothers and children and it was not uncommon for each mother to have 4-5 young children with her.  I had trouble guessing the ages of our patients as children appeared younger than they really were and adults appeared a lot older than their current age.  

This baby wasn't wearing a diaper and peed on me while the picture was taken. 

In each village we passed out the basic supplies bags, kids’s clothing, shoes, baby blankets, hats, 

and stuffed animals. 

I especially enjoyed that we took a picture of each family that came through the clinic, printed it with a portable printer we brought down from the States, and then gave them their own family picture. 

Some of the main issues we treated in patients were parasites, ear infections, colds, lung infections, asthma, headaches, stomachaches, and rashes. We saw over 400 patients throughout four different clinics. 

My primary job was to serve as a Spanish translator for one of the doctors. This was my first opportunity to use Spanish in a medical setting so there was a lot of new vocabulary and terminology to learn. It was a big responsibility to have other people rely on me for their communication needs. Overall I felt good about translating but know that I have a lot to improve on for my next trip.

Our team hopes to form a non-profit organization. I plan to return in October and hope to do an even better job now that I know how to prepare. I'm so thankful for this experience that God has given me and hope to grow in my gifts during upcoming trips.

"Nobody can do everything, 
but everyone can do something." 
~Author Unknown~