Sunday, January 31, 2010

Paris Memories / Sacre-Coeur

I've been away for a few days, and while I wait for some words to come together, I'll show you a few pictures from last fall's mother-daughter weekend in Paris.  This is from Sacre-Coeur, the famous 19th Century white church on Montmartre.  Sacre-coeur means "Sacred Heart", and it is short for "The Sacred Heart of Jesus".  From the stairs in front of this church, there is a fantastic view of the city below, and it is a great place to hang out, eating a picnic lunch, a Monday in late October...

And now, two pictures taken by my daughter, while I was writing in my diary:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Parenting will come to an end.

We're already approaching the end of January.  Time is still speeding like crazy, nothing we can do about that, other than stop and take in what we have in front of our eyes - right now.   
If you have young children, like I do, you will realize one day or another, that this is going to end.  This everyday life of caring for small human beings, that is something you'll do only for a short while, and then, suddenly they will be gone.  Not necessarily out of your life completely, but out of your house, your care, your daily schedule.  And then, messy floors, never-ending laundry and sleep deprivation because someone needs you, it  may all seem a lot rosier than you think right now.  
And, even if you don't think this applies to you, if you have children, it will, and a lot sooner than you think.  Even if you, right now, feel overwhelmed by the demands of being a parent, please know that this is going to end, and you'll probably miss it, maybe not everything, but most of it.
So, cherish the mess and the noise, cherish that small, sticky hand holding on to you, and those high-pitched voices calling for your attention.  Enjoy the storytelling, the reading of children's books, yes, even the diaper changes.  Paint memory pictures in your mind, store the sounds of baby talk and children's songs.  Take care to remember even the bad days, when everything went wrong, because they will be your family's own stories, colored by experience and lightened up by time. 
This is your life right now, be there!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Both Sides Now (with lyrics)

No words of mine today.  
Instead I want to share this song with you.  
It is written by Joni Mitchell in 1967, and first released in 1969, on the album 
"Clouds". This version is from 2000, after she re-recorded the song, in a Jazz style.

Both Sides Now
by Joni Mitchell
Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
Clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
And you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love
Really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

Oh but now old friends they're acting strange
And they shake their heads
And they tell me that I've changed
Well something's lost but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life
I really don't know life at all

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I've Never Been To Me

I was watching Shrek the Third with my family this afternoon, and in the beginning of the movie there was a song that sounded familiar.  We only got to hear a couple of lines of it, but my mind's memory storage started to search, and I recognized this song which I hadn't heard for many years.  It's "I've Never Been To Me", by Charlene .  Her one and only hit, first released in 1976, but not becoming a #1 before 1982.  I like the music, and the lyrics are interesting.  Didn't understand the words when I first heard the song (just started learning English in school), but now I appreciate them.  The song was criticized by some for being against gender equality for women, but it was praised by others for talking about finding paradise close to you and not somewhere else.  Simple, well-used words, but good to hear.

I've Never Been To Me - Charlene
Hey lady, you lady, cursing at your life
You're a discontented mother and a regimented wife
I've no doubt you dream about the things you'll never do
But, I wish someone had talked to me
Like I wanna talk to you.....

Oh, I've been to Georgia and California and anywhere I could run
I took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun
But I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free
I've been to paradise but I've never been to me

Please lady, please lady, don't just walk away
'Cause I have this need to tell you why I'm all alone today
I can see so much of me still living in your eyes
Won't you share a part of a weary heart that has lived million lies....

Oh, I've been to Nice and the Isle of Greece while I've sipped champagne on a yacht
I've moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed 'em what I've got
I've been undressed by kings and I've seen some things that a woman ain't s'posed to see
I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me

Hey, you know what paradise is?
It's a lie, a fantasy we create about people and places as we'd like them to be
But you know what truth is?
It's that little baby you're holding, it's that man you fought with this morning
The same one you're going to make love with tonight
That's truth, that's love......

Sometimes I've been to crying for unborn children that might have made me complete
But I took the sweet life, I never knew I'd be bitter from the sweet
I've spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free
Hey lady......
I've been to paradise, (I've been to paradise)
But I've never been to me

(I've been to Georgia and California, and anywhere I could run)
I've been to paradise, never been to me
(I've been to Nice and the isle of Greece while I've sipped champagne on a yacht)
I've been to paradise, never been to me
(I've been to cryin' for unborn children that might have made me complete)
I've been to paradise, never been to me
(I've been to Georgia and California, and anywhere I could run)
I've been to paradise, never been to me

Friday, January 22, 2010

Jane Austen Challenge

I just stumbled across this reading challenge:  To read Jane Austen's books, and those, by other authors, who are written as prequels, sequels etc. to any of Austen's novels.  Basically to get to know Jane Austen's writing universe.


  • Anyone can participate.
  • Challenge books can overlap with other challenges.
  • Any format counts: bound book, e-book (check online for free downloads of J.A’s copyright-free books), audio book, or any other thing you can think of.
  • Challenge runs January 1st 2010—December 31 2010.
  • You can change which level you read

  • Newbie 2 books by J. Austen, 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
  • Lover 4 books by J. Austen, 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)
  • Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen, 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or 
  • spoofs (by other authors).

I'm going for the Lover level, and my  reading plan looks like this: 
  • Pride and Prejudice (J.A.)
  • Sense and Sensibility (J.A.)
  • Emma (J.A.)
  • Northanger Abbey (J.A.)
  • Mr Darcy's Dilemma (Diana Birchall)
I'll complete my list when I've read up on the prequels etc written.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our 25-month-old!

Yesterday I finally got around to take some two-years-pictures of our youngest.  Daddy was home, so he could be my assistant (= make photo model forget that Mommy's behind the camera) and the subject had finally gotten rid of his chicken pox.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Broken Paradise

I finished reading this book a couple of nights ago, and I can fully and wholeheartedly recommend it. 
Cecilia Samartin's novel has touched me in a profound way, and I can't wait to read her other books.  (I'm currently reading Tarnished Beauty.) The Norwegian translatation is called Drømmehjerte.
This story is about Nora, a young Cuban girl who is growing up before the revolution, and who emigrates with her family to the US when Castro takes over the country.
It's about love for your homeland, regret and the ability to keep up hope.  It's about family and other relationships, who can be both wonderful and difficult.  It's about loyalty and standing up for the ones you love.
But, in addition to all this, it is a lesson in Cuban history, geography and culture.  I have to admit that I knew far too little of this country before reading Samartin's book.
Being from Norway, a small country on the outskirts of the world, I have always met lots of ignorance about my homeland.  Some will have no clue to where it is, others will know it is in Europe, but confound it with Denmark or Finland, and yet others will think Norway is the capital of Sweden...  This ignorance has always annoyed me, and I feel ashamed when I realize how little I know about Cuba, and lots of other countries in the world.
I long to know the Cuba from before.  The beautiful, cultural and amazing island I get a glimpse of here, before it's all downhill...  I would love to taste the food, hear the music, speak to the people.
Reading Broken Paradise while watching the suffering of the Haitian people, has also been strange.  They are almost neighboring countries, and even if I know we are talking about very different cultures, there are some similarities:  Islands in the Caribbean, very mixed population, once European colonies with African slaves, lots of government issues, extreme poverty and ridiculous wealth. And, I have some ideas about Haiti, since members of my family used to live on the same island, in the Dominican Republic.
I will learn more about Cuba, I will definitively learn Spanish.  (I'm sure about that one), and maybe I'll go there one day, writing about it, making photographs, telling my fellow Norwegians about it.
Thank you, Cecilia Samartin, for opening my eyes!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Night Blessings

After a long day of parenting four children, caring for the one who has the stomach flu,  planning ahead, cleaning, doing laundry, working out at the gym, picking up children from piano lesson, and, in a quiet moment, working on my upcoming photography class, it sure is nice to sit down, after a hot shower, with my craft project (a knitted blanket for my daughter.)  There is a candle burning on the coffee table, beautiful flowers by my window, and in the light from the street lamps, I can see snow falling silently over our Winter Wonderland out there.  It is a show of dark shadows and glistening white snow all across our back yard and the street on the other side.
Suddenly there is a glass of red wine in front of me, and some bread and Spanish ham.  And I believe there is an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" awaiting my attention. :-)

Snow Angels

I went outside with my toddler for a while this morning, with a goal to have the driveway shoveled. After extremely cold weather, we now have only around 25 degrees Fahrenheit, which feels rather warm in comparison, and it has started to snow again.  Shoveling while it's still snowing, I know... but there were so much of it now, so I simply had to remove some layers. ( Poor postman, he wouldn't be able to reach our mailbox without getting his boots filled with the melting white stuff.)
When I was done, my toddler and I lay down on the soft mattress which is two feet of new-fallen snow on our front lawn.  I actually stood upright, and let myself fall directly on my back.   The landing was more than soft, I felt totally weightless.
We made snow angels, which I haven't done for  too many years, and then I just lay there, looking up on the perfectly shaped snowflakes, tumbling down from the cotton white sky, dancing and swirling lazily on their way down, until they reached my nose, my cheeks, my eyelashes.
We were two kids at that moment!

Monday - again?

What is it with Time these days?
It was just Monday, and here we are again!
Where did the week go?
I know years are passing by more quickly than before, shorter time between Christmases and all that,
but this is plain crazy!
I really need for Time to slow down, because this speeding, I can't accept it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Writer's Block and Inspiration

If you are one of those out there who want to write, to create with letters, and you find yourself without inspiration.  
Writer's block.
No words.  
Complete nothingness.
The curse of the white page or the empty screen. 
Listen to these words from David Martín, the main character in Zafón's "The Angels Game":

"Inspiration comes when you stick your elbows on the table and your bottom on the chair and start sweating. Choose a theme, an idea, and squeeze your brain until it hurts."

Good luck with your inspiration.  Don't just wait, but work for it!

"The Inspiration of Saint Matthew" by Caravaggio.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rome Impressions

Tonight's post is just this: Two of my photos from Rome.  Taken in November, when I went there, all by myself for a weekend.
These pictures are a tiny piece of my impressions, what I saw while wandering the streets of the Eternal City.  Magical moments among several thousand years of History.
I'm planning to post more, both pictures and stories from my Rome Days.

Saint Peter's at twilight

Detail from the fontain in front of Pantheon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Only Flowers of Her Youth

This heart-gripping photograph is made by Roman Vishniac, a Russian Jew, born in Saint Petersburg in 1897.  After escaping antisemitism, first in Russia, then in Germany, he moved to the US, where he lived for 50 years.
Vishniac is mostly known for his photographic documentation of the Jewish ghettos in Eastern Europe.
This picture is called "The Only Flowers of Her Youth"and it is done in Warsaw, during the winter of 1938, not long before the Holocaust.
The little girl had to stay in bed, in an icy cold basement, and the flowers, painted on the wall, were probably the only flowers she ever saw...
Photo borrowed from; 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti - Disaster Earthquake

I can't write about anything else tonight.

This is simply awful.  
Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, lies in ruins.  Maybe as many as 100.000 are dead. While dead, missing and badly hurt people are trapped under debris or lying on the streets, desperate parents are looking for their children, babies find themselves alone with their dead parents, everything has stopped.  There is no electricity, no infrastructure, nothing works.  
Norway is sending help, and so is the US and I guess lots of other countries.  
I just hope they act now, immediately, and don't spend precious time debating around meeting tables.

I urge all of you to donate money!  In Norway you can click here for easy online donation to Kirkens Nødhjelp,
In the US: Click here to visit the American Red Cross Web site to find out more or donate online.
Those who wish to donate by phone can dial (800) Redcross or (800) 257-7575.
Those who wish to donate by mail can do so by contacting their local Red Cross chapter or by mailing a donation to the following address:
American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington D.C. 20013

After that, we cant do much else than pray for these people, this beautiful, sunny country who once again has to go through a disaster.   

See photographs and a Video clip  from CNN.
The earthquake "Strange" i Haiti is the strongest in 200 years. (National Geographic)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Babywearing - promotion and photos!

From Tett Inntil, a Norwegian internet forum for babywearing, I got a challenge: Write about babywearing this week.
Well, here comes my contribution.  A whole bunch of pictures, of me wearing my youngest, me wearing my 4 1/2 year-old, and some of my husband babywearing.  (I only have digital pictures from the last two years, maybe I'll get around to scan older photos.)
Babywearing, not only to carry a baby, but to wear him or her, is the default way of relate to infants and toddlers all over the world.  In our western culture, however, there has, for the last generations,  been a tendency to treat the newborn as a "seperate human being", not only in the real sense of the word, but also by the way of keeping babies away from the mother.
Babies who are carried, cry very little, sometimes never, they have less stomach problems, they evolve better and sleep better at night.  Breastfeeding comes easier to them, and they develop strong bodies.   Babywearing makes life easier for parents!
I've carried all my four children - a lot.  I went to Kenya before I became a mother, and I saw the way small children always were wrapped onto some grownup's body, and how they never seemed to cry or fuss.  It amazed me, and I was really frustrated when I, a year later, stood in front of the mirror with my baby and my african kanga , trying to wrap it on me.  I wasn't able to figure it out, but luckily I had a Baby Björn front carrier, and with this my daughter was worn while I wandered the streets of Paris.  Until she became heavier, and heavier still, and my shoulders couldn't take it anymore.  I had a backpack (bæremeis) which was used a lot, but was really unconvient to take anywhere, because of it's size.  On hiking trips, however, it was great.
When my second child was about a year, I got my first ring sling , and that was great for hip carry.  I used it until he was way past his 2nd birthday.  The sling didn't so easily make my shoulders hurt, because the large fabric spreads out the weight in a good, ergonomic way.
I wanted to wear my third child in the sling from the very beginning, but again, I couldn't figure out how to arrange that tiny bundle in all the fabric, so she was worn in the Baby Björn, until I could move her to my hip in the sling.
When my youngest child was born, there was suddenly a whole lot of people to ask for babywearing advice, there was the internet forums, (A good English-speaking one: ) and I learned how to wrap my newborn from the very first hours.  He has been worn in different wraps, slings and meitais , and I still wear him several times a week.
I'm certain the babywearing has been beneficial, not only for the one who is carried, but for the rest of the family too.  The babywearer has his or her arms free, is available to the other children, and doesn't have to stress because a crying baby has to wait while he/she is busy helping another child, cooking, writing on the computer...
And, I think I'm stronger physically now than I've ever been.  My toddler is heavy, but with the wraps and meitais, I can carry him for hours.


Here are links to other bloggers who took up this challenge:


Monday, January 11, 2010

To be in Spain or not to be in Spain...

Being alone with my four children for many days in a row, when is freezing cold outside and the car won't start, that is not the easiest thing in the world.
My husband is hanging out in Spain, by the way...  Yes, I  know it's work, but still, there are moments I really would like to trade places with him.
For instance, when there were seven kids in my house yesterday, and three of them were big boys running up and down the stairs, banging doors and making as much noise as you can while playing hide 'n seek.  
Or, when my toddler missed his nap because of a tad too much commotion in the house.
Or, when my daughter spilled a whole bottle of nail polish all over her two hands, the bathroom cupboards and floor.  (Did I mention the said nail polish was BLACK?)   (Or, that I started to cry?)
Or, when I didn't find enough nail polish remover to clean both her hands, the bathroom and my hands (from dealing with it).
Or, realizing that my toilet's water intake is frozen.
Or, when the car didn't start this morning, and I had four kids bundled up  outside, looking like Tellytubbies with scarves, having to walk in the biting cold, missing the first half hour of school...

But, even though it's a hassle,
when I'm up, early in the morning, before everybody else, a cup of coffee and my writing in front of me on the kitchen table, just the light from a candle, with total darkness outside the windows.
Or, when I take my youngest daughter to her piano lesson.  Watching my little girl sitting there on the bench, playing with such concentration, and Mom feeling extremely proud.
Or, when we sit down for dinner, the five of us, and they all take turns in talking about their day, enjoying the tagliatelle and meat sauce, and the crème caramel for dessert.
Or when the wood fire warms us all, and the little ones, after a hot bath, crawl into bed, yawing while being read to.
Or, when my toddler curls up in my arms, while I sing to him, before drifting off to sleep with his "pat the bunny"-rabbit in his arms.
Then I realize I didn't necessarily pull the shortest straw after all...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Angel - Comfort to weary souls

I know I have another post about this song.  It doesn't matter.  These words can be helpful, and  tonight Sarah is helping me with the blog entry.  
This is to all of you out there who feel worried, helpless, overwhelmed, very tired, very sad, very angry.  To all of you who most of all want to hide somewhere, to fly far, far away, or just feel like being carried, and not having to think about problems and worries

"You're in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here".

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nothing special - and a few photos

I was wondering if one of my New Year's resolutions should be to update this blog every day.  Well, it might be a bad idea if I have nothing to say, but than again, how could that ever be true?  There is always something, maybe insignificant in the bigger picture, but then, it's my life, my days of light and shadow, and there should always be something to share.
I'm alone with the children for a while now, and with -28 degrees Celcius (-18 Fahrenheit) when we wake up on a Saturday morning, there isn't one good reason to head outdoors...
I decided on the swimming pool (yes, indoors), and we spent the morning there.  Deliciously warm water, and everybody got conveniently tired, so the afternoon was calm, quiet and cozy, with hot chocolate and the very last pieces of gingerbread.  Dinner was oven baked chicken with rice and cucumber/carrot/bell pepper-salad.
Now, all four are fast asleep in their warm beds, and Mom is taking her book and curling up under her wonderful down comforter.  Good Night!

These pictures are taken a few days ago, when it was "only" -11 degrees Celcius. (12.2 Fahrenheit)
I realize we're living in a real winter wonderland!  Sun is hovering above the horizon, only a few hours of real bright daylight.

By the way, I just registred with the Norwegian Blog site Bloggurat .  Putting myself on the Norwegian Blog map, so to speak.

Friday, January 8, 2010

At the Window

"Ved Vinduet" ("At the Window") is another one of my favorite paintings.  The Norwegian Hans Olaf Heyerdahl painted this picture of his wife, in 1881 while he stayed in Paris, and you can see how he was influenced by the French Impressionists  and their outdoor painting.  There is a lightness about it.  Fresh, like autumn air.

Ever since I saw this painting at the National Gallery in Oslo, I've loved it.  My husband and I lived in Paris for several years, and this window could in a way be my own.  And, I've always related to this woman, sitting there with her book, thinking, probably daydreaming.  

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New year, new juggle, old thoughts.

This last fall, I was able to juggle the working me and mothering me, with my husband staying at home one day a week.  (This was part of his paternity leave, stretched out over time, so there was one day a week left.)  I would get up early, work intensively all day, and probably do several days worth of work on this one single day. In addition to this, my husband would also leave for work later now and then (and come home later, of course) , so I could receive customers.  
Well, we counted on having 2-3 days a week of daycare by now, but that's not the case.
So, in these first newborn days of 2010, I'm trying to stick in some work time whenever possible,when the toddler sleeps, before my husband leave for his work, and, if I have to, at night.  The last part is really hard for me, since my brain stops working properly around 7pm.  
I might not be able to do my photography until this changes, and I might not earn money, which is hard in times like this...  But, unlike some people, we don't have a lineup of possible babysitters, waiting to jump in and help out.
In the meantime, I try to keep cool about it,  (not difficult in minus 28 degrees Celcius... :-D ) and I'm enjoying precious alone-time with my two-year-old, who is growing up way too fast...  Right now, we have baked yummy scones for lunch, and he has flour all over his face and jumpsuit.
After all, life is not always straightforward, and what is a "normal" way of living and working?
Our time here on earth is extremely short, so make the best of what you have.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Book...

Yes, just finished "Vidunderbarn" by Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen, and I'm about to choose the next one. 
It's going to be one by Cuban-born author Cecilia Samartin, but I haven't decided whether to read "Tarnished Beauty" or "Broken Paradise" first.

Will have to think about it, while having a cup of decaf and some leftover cake...