Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn Day in the Park

A crisp, beautiful Autumn day, my two-year-old and me in the park.  Having a picnic, playing, and talking to old ladies and bronze scultptures.  







Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: Twenties Girl

 


My husband picked up this book as a gift for me.  Well, it sat on my bookshelf for a good while, simply because I didn't really think it was a good read.  I had read other books by Sophie Kinsella , but from the title, I got the idea that this was some kind of light chick lit book about a women in her twenties, and I didn't feel too thrilled about it.


Well, one day I started reading it anyway, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was full of wit, entertaining and actually a very good reading experience!  And, Twenties Girl has nothing to do with being in your twenties, but living in the 1920's!  


It has an unrealistic side to it, one that I just had to accept, (like I accept the magic in Harry Potter) and from there on, I had a blast reading it!  A mystery, a secret lies underneath, one that kept me reading, but I had fun while doing so.


If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't be writing about it.  I have no patience with books that don't catch me.  Sometimes I still finish them, but I wouldn't bother writing about them.


So, pick up Twenties Girl, tune in to Charleston dance music,  flapper dresses, pearl necklaces and feather hair bands!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: A Walk in The Woods

I just read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  I have previously read two of his books, and now I wonder why I haven't read all of them!  They are about travel, about the English language, about science.
Bryson  is American, but he has been living in Yorkshire, England for many years.  With his wife, he moved back the US in 1995.  A Walk in the Woods is about the Summer he set out to hike the Appalachian Trail.  It's autobiographical, it's enlightening and it's very, very entertaining.
In short, his books are just really funny, filled to the brim with interesting information and extremely well written!  I feel I'm there with him, I'm travelling, walking, seeing, tasting, - just experiencing the world through his words.
I really, really recommend this books, and all Bryson's books, even the ones I haven't read yet. 
(so far I've read this one,  "The Lost Continent" and "Neither Here nor There")
Click here for his official website.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Mom Blogs

The blog world is full of mommy bloggers, and of course their blogs vary from real excellence  to complete nonsense.
There are a few out there that I like reading, because they teach me something, or amuse me, or simply because they're well written, I have a good time being there!


But there is one thing that surprises me.  Many of these bloggers stop writing about parenting when their kids grow past – let's say – kindergarten age.  Either they stop blogging altogether, or they just change the theme to something else.


I guess there are several possible reasons for this.  One could be the fact that they don't want to write about an older child, in case his/her friends read the blog in question.  Thus, a kind of protection, a way of not exposing their child.  But, I don't think that's the main reason here, because if they had such thoughts, they would have considered not exposing the baby, the toddler and the preschooler as well.


I think one of the reasons is that it simply becomes too difficult.  It's harder to describe an older child, and it's even harder to talk about parenting.  The every day problems and challenges are more complicated, more diverse, and to find a way of dissecting it, that is not given.  I can totally relate to that.


Sadly, I think there is another reason, maybe the biggest one:  Many parents feel their parenting job is"done" when their child is in school.  They're done changing diapers, breastfeeding, getting up at night.  Done with strollers and carriers, exersaucers, car seats and swings, - and - they start to reclaim their time, let go a little – too soon...


Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject.


Painting: 'The Child's Caress'  by Mary Cassatt.  Honolulu Academy of Arts 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fail Better



"Fail.  Fail again.  Fail better."

This is supposedly a quote by Samuel Beckett.  Say it loud, and store it within you.  It helps - a lot!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Soar like an Eagle!

 


I believe everybody feel weak and weary sometimes, or even often.
Anyway, I do.
I can feel hopelessness and the heavy burden of not believing my life is of much worth, or not having the strength to do anything about the things that darken my horizon.
A friend of mine talked about the eagle as a symbol of inner strength, and she gave me the following text:  It is written by a Norwegian minister, Stein Reinertsen , for a newspaper: Farsunds Avis.  (I did the translation.) I think it contains a beautiful symbolism.  We can be strong, soar like eagles, but sometimes we need to hide away, before we can soar once again!

The Eagle - Promises of New Strength


Majestically it soars over us, the bald eagle.  Together with the golden eagle, it is one of the strongest birds in the world.  The eagle is the very symbol of power and strength.  Several verses in the Bible describes the eagle.  In the passage when God led the Israeli people out of Egypt, it says "I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself" (Exodus 19:4)
The most famous verse is in Psalm 103: "(The Lord) who satisfies your life with good things, 

so your youth is renewed like an eagle’s"
But is it true that we always are strong?  Aren't we rather weak sometimes?  
Yes, nobody is guaranteed full strength all the time.  The eagle also has it's weak and vulnerable times.  When it goes through the molting process, it finds a hiding place where it would be hard to find.  Here it loses it's feathers and has to wait for the new ones to grow.
But, God's promise of making us young like the eagle is still valid.
He gives us the power and strength we need to face our every day life, not like super heroes, but like human beings.  The strength we find in the certitude of being loved by God and that He is with us.
Look at the birds in the sky!  Look at the eagle!  It is a sign of promises of new strength.

 

Jeg tror alle føler seg svake og nedbrutte noen ganger, eller til og med ofte.
I alle fall gjør jeg det.
Jeg kan føle motløshet og den tunge byrden av å ikke tro at livet mitt er særlig verd, eller ikke ha styrken til å gjøre noe med de tingene som mørklegger horisontenmin.
En venn av meg snakket om ørnen som et symbol på indre styrke, og hun ga meg denne teksten:  Den er skrevet av sogneprest Stein Reinertsen for Farsunds Avis .  Jeg synes teksten inneholder en vakker symbolikk.  Vi kan sveve som ørnen, men noen ganger trenger vi å gjemme oss, gå i dekning, til vi igjen kan sveve høyt der oppe...

Ørnen - Løfter Om Ny Kraft

Majestetisk flyr havørnen høyt over oss. Sammen med kongeørnen hører den med til de sterkeste fuglene. Ørnen er selve symbolet på kraft og styrke. Flere bibelvers beskriver ørnen. Da Gud ledet israelsfolket ut fra Egypt, står det «jeg løftet dere på ørnevinger og bar dere til meg». (2 Mos 19,4)
Det mest kjente verset står i Salme 103: «Han fyller ditt liv med det som godt er, og gjør deg ung igjen som ørnen.» (Salme 103)
Men stemmer det at vi alltid er sterke? Er vi ikke tvert imot noen ganger svake? Jo, ingen er garantert full styrke til enhver tid. Ørnen har også sine svake og sårbare perioder. Når den skifter ham, finner den et skjulested hvor den er vanskelig å finne. Her mister den fjærdrakten og må vente på at en ny vokser ut.
Men løftet fra Gud om å gjøre oss unge som ørnen står likevel fast. Han gir oss den kraft og styrke vi trenger til for å møte hverdagen, ikke som usårbare supermenn men som mennesker. Styrken henter vi vissheten om å være elsket av Gud og at han går med.
Se på fuglene under himmelen! Se på ørnen! Den er tegn på løfter om ny kraft.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

As it is in Heaven - Så Som I Himmelen

This is one of my all time favorite movies.  It's been a while since I watched this 2004 movie, but it stays with me!
Directed by Kay Pollak, "Så som i Himmelen" is grand!. Most of the story takes place in the Swedish countryside, in a little village, and even though there are not that many characters here, they are so strong that you have the feeling you dive into their world.  Love, hate, deception, questions never answered nor asked...


Michael Nyqvist plays a world famous conductor, who, for an unknown reason, returns to his childhood village in Northern Sweden.   Frida Hallgren and Helen Sjöholm each have strong roles in this cast, and the latter of them is also a wonderful, wonderful singer.  When her character, Gabriella, sings her song, even if she is understated and 'normal', it's just very, very powerful. Maybe this is one of the strong sides of this movie, showing normal people, normal feelings and reactions.  We can relate to them. 
Lots of people do a great job here.  Music, photography, actors, etc - in a very well  made movie!




Here I'll give it to you: "Gabriella's Song" from "As it is in Heaven". Enjoy!




Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Picture of the day: The Arnolfini Portrait

 

I was walking through the rooms of the National Gallery in London, searching for a certain Leonardo da Vinci painting, when I saw this one from a distance.  
I think I actually might have stopped breathing for a little while, and then I walked really fast towards the small picture, to make sure it really was what I suspected.  
And yes, it was the Arnolfini Portrait.
It's not at all a beautiful painting, at least I don't think so, (the guy looks sort of scary!) but it is extremely well done, it's packed with symbols, and it is very, very famous!  Anyone who ever studied art history, has come across this at one point or another, and now I really had the feeling that I stood face to face with a world celebrity!  My knees felt wobbly, and my throat dry.  
A good thing paintings don't talk, because I wouldn't have a clue of what to say... I just stared - in awe.

The painter is Johannes Van Eyck, from the Netherlands, worked about 200 years before Vermeer, and this painting is dated 1434.  It is a commissioned work, by the merchant Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife.  It is known as a wedding portrait, or an engagement portrait, but it might have been only a ordinary husband & wife painting.  
I think Van Eyck treated this as a wedding picture, and there are so many symbols who point in that direction:

Some of the marriage symbols:
  • The dog stands for faithfullness 
  • The shoes left on the floor is an allusion to the word from the Bible, where God says:  "Take off your sandals, for you're standing on on holy ground." 
  • The bed all draped in red – well, you got the picture...
Some fun details:
  • The mirror in the background probably shows the artist himself while he is painting the couple.
  • The "graffiti" text on the wall says "Johannes van Eyck was here."



I felt giddy when I continued my gallery walk.  Unexpected, I had met someone real famous!





Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Boy Blue


My youngest is only three days a week in daycare.  Those are the days I work.  
That leaves two mornings a week with my older three kids in school, and my youngest and me spending some hours together, just the two of us. 
Last Tuesday we brought lunch (and some paper bags in case we'd find blueberries) and went up to the forest area above town, where we walked, picked blueberries and mushrooms, played and had lunch before it was nap time.
Precious time with my baby, who is growing up so fast.  We build memories together, small, maybe insignificant, but still enormous and really important to us...

Min yngste er bare tre dager i uka i barnehagen.  Det er de dagene jeg jobber.
Det gir oss to formiddager i uka hvor mine tre eldste er på skolen, og Minstemann og jeg har noen timer sammen, bare oss to.
Forrige tirsdag tok vi med oss mat (og noen papirposer i tilfelle vi skulle finne blåbær) og dro opp i skogen ved Øverby, hvor vi gikk, plukket blåbær, sopp, lekte og spiste lunch før det ble sovetid.
Gullkantet tid med babyen min, som blir så fort stor.  Vi bygger minner sammen, små, kanskje uviktige, men likevel enorme - og virkelig viktige for oss...


"Mommy, look, an anthill!"
"Se, Mamma, en maurtue!"



"No, I don't want to smile right now!" (I'm 2 1/2 after all...)
"Nei, jeg vil ikke smile akkurat nå!" (Jeg er tross alt 2 1/2 år...)


"I'm not smiling, not smiling..."
"Jeg smiler ikke, smiler ikke..."



"Oh, well, if you insist!"
(And, if there are any doubts, we did really find some blueberries!..)
"Javel, da, hvis du absolutt vil!"
(Og hvis noen er i tvil, så fant vi altså noen blåbær!..)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

TV Talk




It's kind of politically correct to say "I rarely watch TV."  Well, that is true for me, even if it's not that conscious.


Growing up, we had only one (ONE!) TV channel in Norway, NRK, and there were broadcasts only in the afternoon and on the right side of midnight.  Children's TV was at 6:PM, for about a half hour.  Not on Mondays, though.  Mondays there was no children's programming at all.  From Tuesday to Sunday, we would watch things like this:



Or this:






So, I grew up not watching that much TV, as did all other Norwegians in the 70's and 80's.  But, by the time I left home, there was a slight change, another channel came on the air, then another, then came the cable TV, satellite dishes, and within a couple of years, we had all the TV channels we could want, including Disney Channel, CNN etc etc.  From before, we were used to everyone always watching the same shows (and talking about it the next day at work or school.)  Now there were suddenly so many shows to choose between, and Norwegians became really busy switching and zapping.


The very strange thing, though, is that many Norwegians keep feeling that NRK, the first TV channel (and now the only public one...) is the real one, the more serious one.
And, people of my generation keep putting their kids in front of the TV set at 6:PM, to watch children's TV for half an hour.
So, when NRK recently removed the 6:PM Children's TV, because they have created a daughter channel on where you have kid shows all day long, parents screamed on the top of their lungs all over the country, and the newspapers were full of angry discussions.  The whole thing amused me.  It really did.


We became parents in France, then we had our second child in the US, so, obviously, our kids didn't have that six o'clock TV tradition.  My daughter, then five, was more used to watching Sesamy Street or Dragon Tales in the morning on PBS.


After settling in Norway, we decided  to let her watch BBC Prime's children's programming in the morning before school.  It was a great way of keeping up her language, and they had fun and "correct" shows, like this:




But, then  they removed the BBC channel from our cable package, and after that we only had the choice of different noisy cartoons, dubbed into Norwegian, and we ended up using the TV set almost only with the DVD player.  That way we could still have her and her brother watch English speaking shows, and we could choose the show together with them.
But, as the time passed, we realized that we didn't turn on the TV every morning, it became only on weekends, and after a while, not even then.


Once in a while, they did watch Norwegian broadcasts, though, especially on Saturday mornings and Sunday nights, were they have a great show right after dinner. (It was a good show for grown-ups too,by the way!)


Today, the TV situation in our house is like this:  For the children it has become only a weekend phenomenon, and with very few exceptions, only used to watch DVD movies, either the kids alone, or the whole family on Sunday afternoons.
For us grownups, it's very much the same deal, by the way.  The TV is used to watch movies or series on DVD, maybe a couple of times a week.  Nobody follow any particular show, there are absolutely no "must see" during the week, only occasionally a "want to see" in the weekend.


So, early this summer, we threw out the TV set from our living room area, just pushed it into our bedroom, where it was some spare room for it.

It was a horribly old (about 5, maybe 6 years) TV set, bulky, just taking up too much space compared to how little it was used in our daily life.  
It was done without much thinking or planning, we just felt like removing this space-demanding item from our main living space, this huge altar  that everybody just had to spot the minute they walked in.

We did talk about putting in a small flat screen on the wall, something that could just blend in between the photos,  but until now, no such thing has happened.  (We still talk about it, though.)
And, there was another TV set in our house (even older, got it for free in a garage sale, but big and in perfectly working shape )  in our downstairs rec room /guest room.  

We haven't decided on what to do yet, flat screen-wise.  I'm not happy with the bulky altar sitting in my bedroom, but at least it's less in the way of everybody, and we have, a couple of times, watched old E.R. episodes or a movie in there.  The downstairs TV is sometimes used on weekends, but not always.

Why all this TV talk, you might think, if it's not that important.  Well, I find it interesting that something so new in the History of Man has become so all-important in people's lives... 
I don't know, I was just in a philosophical mode tonight, that's all.

London Snapshots

Wandering the streets of London last weekend, I didn't take that many pictures, actually, because I was too busy talking to my friend, seeing new sights, enjoying just the Being, sitting down for coffees, teas or late night dinners.  But, here are a few snapshots from a city I would love to learn more about, get to know even better:


My friend Heidi on Tower Bridge.


National Gallery




Piccadilly Circus




Underground: A Tube station



St. James' Park with London Eye in the background



Buckingham Palace - the Queen's home




St. James' Park




Me, and Buckingham Palace in the background




No comment needed




View from our breakfast table at the Victorian B&B hotel.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pictures of the Day: Two Vermeer Paintings

While in London, though there weren't lots of 'must do's on my list, I did have a few wishes, and National Gallery on Trafalgar Square was one of them. 
I just wanted to see the two paintings by Vermeer being there...  (I am, after all, on a quest, about seeing every single one of the known Vermeers!)
I did see them.  Strangely enough, they weren't in the same room, so I ended up going back and forth between them several times, just to compare, look for similiarities and differences etc.
Here they are: 
"Lady Seated at a Virginal" and "Lady standing at a Virginal".  They are both painted in the beginning of the 1670's, by Johannes Vermeer, who lived in Delft, Holland.


They are typical Vermeer paintings, by being interior scenes, each featuring a woman, and with strong blues and yellows.  I'm intrigued by the way these two girls are looking directly at us, almost as if they are interrupted by us, maybe asking us : "Did you have a question?" I can almost feel they are a little bit annoyed, the same way I am when I'm interrupted while practicing the cello...
Anyway, I gazed at these two paintings for the longest time, going back and forth, sitting down, trying to see every single detail, every streak of light, and - I was touched.  Art does that to me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Phantom of The Opera






I spent last weekend in London with a very good friend of mine.  We had two full days to ourselves, just talking, walking, enjoying the discovery of a city we both have been to many years ago, but never together.  Our agenda was totally no-stress, no 'most do' or 'must see', and it was wonderful.


One of the things we did, was a visit in Her Majesty's Theatre, where we attended the afternoon show of The Phantom of the Opera.  From our perfect seats in the stalls, we had a good view of the stage, the actors' faces and the huge chandelier which plays a central role...  Andrew Lloyd Webber's music is strong and holds up, even after 24 years of being played over and over again,  and the orchestra did a wonderful job, as did the actors/singers.





The story of the phantom, or the ghost of the opera, was first written by the French writer/journalist Gaston Leroux in 1911: "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra". The story takes place in the old opera house of Paris: Palais Garnier. The first movie, by Universal, came in 1925, and since then, the legend has just continued to live on. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical from 1986 was later turned into a movie, with the exact same score as on scene.



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quote of the day: Don't let go of your dreams!

Early this morning I read this quote, and here I'll share it with you:





The future
belongs to those
who believe in the beauty 
of their dreams.
Eleanor Roosevelt


Friday, September 3, 2010

'Kid-Free'

I came to think of a new Norwegian word today: 'Barnefri', and it translates something like Kid-Free.  It means being a parent and being - by choice - without children for a given amount of time.  This expression, mostly used by mothers, I don't like it very much.
Don't misunderstand, I do believe moms need time to themselves, without the constant demand of care/help/catering, but I just don't like the sound of that word.

Why?  I'm not sure, but to me it is a negative expression, it implies something like: "My children are a burden, and it's good to be free from this, to really live..."

Most people in the Western world do choose whether or not to have children, but I often get the impression that parents - again, especially mothers - feel that parenthood is something that is imposed on them.
We should be able to cry out our frustrations as parents, of course, but there is a big difference between doing just that once in a while, and getting into the habit of always complaining about the hardness of having kids.  I think it can become a mindset, where you end up feeling your offspring sort of stand in your way...

Try and think about it from a different angle:  Your children  are small for an extremely short time, and before you know it, they're gone, the nest is empty, and you'll have all the kid-free time you want.
I realize this becomes very much like a previous post I've written, but it doesn't matter, because this is something parents (myself included) should think about  often, maybe every single day.
We have the children in our house for a few years, and our job is to teach them how to fly, and to give them enough knowledge and love to keep them soaring after they leave us.
In the meantime, try also to see that your time with them is precious, not a burden.  Open up for the joy, the fun, the fulfillment in being a parent.  And, yes I know it's lots of work, and it can be really hard at times, but it's worth it!
And, also,  make sure to spend some time without them, if they are in safe hands, to be able to work, learn or study, talk about anything, pour out your frustrations, fears and joys, or simply have fun without responsibilities.
But, please, choose your words...
By the way, I leave for London, England today, to spend two days with a good friend of mine!...



"BARNEFRI"
Jeg kom til å tenke på det ordet i dag.  Et nytt ord, som jeg hører ganske ofte: "Barnefri".  Det betyr at man som foreldre er - selvvalgt - uten barn for en gitt tid.  Dette uttrykket, som blir mest brukt av mødre, jeg liker det ikke.
Ikke misforstå, jeg mener absolutt at mødre trenger alenetid, uten stadig krav om hjelp/pleie/servering, men jeg liker rett og slett ikke lyden av dette ordet.

Hvorfor?  Jeg vet ikke helt, men ord virker sterkt på meg, og dette synes jeg er et negativt språkutrykk, det innebærer noe sånt som: "Barna mine er en byrde, og det er bra å være den byrden foruten, for å virkelig kunne leve..."
De fleste mennesker i den vestlige verden kan faktisk bestemme hvorvidt de vil ha barn eller ikke, men jeg får ofte inntrykk av at foreldre - og igjen, særlig mødre - føler at det å være foreldre er noe som er presset på dem.
Vi skal så absolutt ha muligheten til å rope ut våre frustrasjoner, selvfølgelig, men det er en stor forskjell på å gjøre nettopp det en gang i blant, og det å komme i en vane hvor man alltid klager over hvor slitsomt det er å ha barn.  Jeg tror det kan bli en måte å tenke på, ubevisst, hvor barna dine konstant står i veien for deg...

Prøv å tenk på det fra en annen kant:  Barna dine er små bare i noen få år, og før du vet ordet av det, er de ute av huset, redet er tomt, og du kan ha all den barne-frie tiden du vil.
Jeg innser nå at dette begynner å ligne på noe jeg skrev her for en tid tilbake , men det gjør ikke noe, for dette er noe foreldre (meg selv inkludert!) godt kunne tenke på ofte, gjerne hver eneste dag.
Vi har som sagt barna i huset i noen få år, og jobben vår er å lære dem å fly, samt gi dem nok kunnskap og kjærlighet til at de kan holde seg i luften når de forlater oss.
I mellomtiden, prøv også å se at tiden du har med dem er verdifull, ikke en byrde.  Åpne opp for gleden, det morsomme, det meningsfylte i å være foreldre. Og ja, jeg vet at det er mye jobb, at det kan være svært vanskelig noen ganger, men det er verdt det!

Og derfor,  sørg også for å være noe tid uten dem, hvis de er i trygge hender, for å kunne jobbe eller lære og studere, snakke om hva som helst, tømme ut frustrasjoner, bekymringer og gleder, eller simpelthen ha det moro uten ansvar for andre enn deg selv. Men, vær så snill, bruk andre ord enn "barnefri."...

Forresten, i dag reiser jeg til London, for å være to dager sammen med en god venninne!...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Picture of the day: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Another painting, by Johannes (Jan) Vermeer, one of my favorite painters.  There are only about 30 known paintings by this Dutch artist, and a few years ago, I started on a - maybe silly - quest of seeing every single one of them.
Well, this one, I made a huge detour to see it.  In 2004 I was driving with my family, all the way from Paris, France, to Kiel, Germany, where we would embark on the ferry to Oslo, Norway.  We did a considerable detour and went by The Hague (Den Haag), Netherlands, just to see IRL this wonderful painting in Mauritshuis. 
(We got to see another Vermeer painting as well, but I'll show you that one in a later post.)
This one is called "Girl with a pearl earring" or "Girl with turban", and it is painted around 1665.   There is lots of mystery about it.  Almost all of Vermeer's paintings have background, but here, the portrait of the girl stands out from the total darkness behind her.  Why? Who is she?  Why is she wearing a turban?
I just love this painting, for its beauty, its mystery and its stillness.


Photo: http://artsnap.org/category/oil-painting/

More Summer Fun: Dogs and Diggers!

Summer Holiday at her uncle's farm, and Alma gets to play with Tico!

I'm not sure who walks who...


-And a dream comes true for Jonatan: He gets to sit in an excavator!


He had never seen the man in his life, but he grabbed his hand and came with immediately, when he heard there was chance to ride a digger!  He even got to steer the whole thing!


Oh Summer, are you gone already?  Why the hurry?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Fun: Kayaking!

My brother-in-law took us all kayaking this summer.  A beautiful place in the south of Norway, and a gorgeous summer day.  It was lots of fun!

Samuel out by himself.


The brothers together!


Jontatan loves playing in  the extremely soft sand.  In the background: Alma gets a kayaking lesson.


Pauline really got the hang of it!



It's me there! :-)