Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My blood...

Today I registered to become a blood donor.  That's something I've been thinking about for many years, but a week ago I finally I got around to fill out an online application, and today I went to the hospital to have my blood tested.  My two-year-old came with me, sitting on my lap and holding my hand while they drew the blood.  He was very impressed by the whole hospital setting, but not at all scared by the needle, and after a while he asked if he could have his lunch.
I've just always thought about this as something really worth while doing.  An easy and free way of actually helping.
But, when I was telling my daughter about it, about how I will have about two cups of my blood drawn every three months or so, she said : "That makes me think of 'Twilight'... :-D  
Well, jokes aside, I'm really glad I got around to doing this, and I challenge all my readers to do the same.  You can maybe help save lives!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Cat,a Kid and a Mom

Tonight, after putting my 6-year-old daughter to bed, I read to her from the poem book "Falling Up" by Shel Silverstein.  She loves to hear these silly, but sometimes very intelligent poems.

For your amusement, I give you:
by Shel Silverstein

"Why can't you see I'm a cat." said the cat,
"And that's all I ever will be?"
Why are you shocked when I roam out at night?
Why are you sad when I meow and I fight?
Why are you sick when I eat up a rat?
I’m a cat.”

“Why can’t you see I’m a kid?” said the kid.
“Why try to make me like you?
Why are you hurt when I don’t want to cuddle?
Why do you sigh when I splash through a puddle?
Why do you scream when I do what I do?
I’m a kid.”

“Why can’t you see I’m a mom?” said the mom.
“Why try to make me wise?
Why try to teach me the ways of a cat?
Why try to tell me that ‘kids are like that’?
Why try to make me be patient and calm?
I’m a mom.”

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Picture of the day: The Milkmaid, by Vermeer

The Milkmaid, Jan Vermeer 1660. Reproduction: Artinthepicture.com 

Jan Vermeer has a place in my heart. The Dutch painter who lived and worked in Delft in the 17th century is one of my absolute favorites!  I've seen quite a few of his paintings, and this is one of them, The Milkmaid, painted in 1660.  I saw it in The Rijksmuseum  in Amsterdam in 2005.
It's a typical Vermeer painting.  A indoor, domestic scene.  An ordinary, everyday action, that,  by his touch becomes something much more.  Look at the bread, the milk, the different textures, and, of course, the light.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Moments - by my cell phone camera!

Sometimes, a lot of times, actually, I don't have my camera close by.  Then, occasionally, I will use my cell phone to take pictures.  Here is a selection of "Cell phone moments" from this summer. 

Early days in the flower garden!

At my eldest son's school's summer party, by the lake Mjøsa

Playing cards

Trying on campfire cloak, night before he leaves for boy scout camp.

Outdoor theatre show at town park. ("Hakkebakkeskogen" på Gjøvik Gård.)

PlayDough out on the deck.

Hotdog dinner and Saturday Night candy out on the deck!

I wish I could fly...

Popsicles with cousins!

Samuel and Grandma


Boat trip in kiddie pool

Pauline and Grandma at outdoor concert. (Sommerslagere på Gjøvik Gård)

Water Fun!

Bike ride by the lake.

Ice cream by the kitchen table

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three Months - Three Seasons - in a bed.

Today it's exactly three years since I was admitted to the hospital - for three months!  
I was 24 weeks along with my youngest, it was a beautiful summer Sunday, and we had spent the whole day  at the local outdoor museum, where they held the annual Family Day with lots of fun things for kids and parents.
Everything was OK, but I kept having this nagging thought that somehow something wasn't...  Why, I didn't know.  No pains, nothing, I felt great, actually, with hardly any pregnancy weight at all.  Still, a tiny voice in my head kept telling me that something was wrong.
I finally called the hospital, and they asked me to drop by, even if this surely was just a pregnant woman's silly nerves.
Well, I did drop by, and they kept me.  My cervix had been seriously softened and thinned, and everything was done to prevent me from going into active labor.
I was going to spend 90 days on bedrest.  Flat, on my back in a hospital bed, in a tiny single room, where all I could see outside the window was the top of some buildings and a few trees.  
When I arrived, these trees wore their summer green outfit.  I was going to see them change into golden yellows and reds, and before I left my bed, they were white with snow!
My baby boy was born November 29th, the day before Thanksgiving...

Tre måneder - tre årstider - i en seng.
I dag er det akkurat tre år siden jeg ble innlagt på sykehuset - i tre måneder!
Jeg var 24 uker på vei med min yngste, det var en nydelig sensommer-søndag, og vi hadde vært hele dagen på det lokale Folkemuseet, hvor det var Familiedag med masser av morsomme ting for barn og voksne.
Alt gikk greit men jeg hadde stadig en ekkel idé om at det på en eller måte ikke var greit... Hvorfor, det vet jeg ikke.  Ingen smerter, ingenting, jeg følte meg faktisk i god form, med graviditet som knapt syntes.  Men, en liten stemme i hodet mitt fortsatte å si at noe var galt.
Jeg ringte sykehuset til slutt, og de ba meg om å komme innom, selv om dette sannsynligvis bare var en gravid kvinnes tullete nerver.
Vel, jeg stakk innom, og de beholdt meg.  Livmorhalsen min var blitt svært myk og forkortet, og alt ble gjort for å forhindre aktiv fødsel.
Jeg skulle ende opp med 90 dager sengeleie.  Flatt, på ryggen, i en sykehusseng, i et lite enkeltrom, hvor alt jeg kunne se utenfor vinduet, var toppen av noen bygninger og et par trær.  
Da jeg kom, var disse trærne kledd i den grønne sommerdrakten.  Jeg skulle få se dem skifte til gylne gul- og rødtoner, og før jeg forlot denne senga, var de blitt hvite med snø!
Den lille gutten min ble født 29. november, fire dager før første søndag i advent...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farewell, a-ha...

Saturday I went to Oslo, to a-ha's concert at Ullevål Stadium.  For me, this was not only a great concert experience, with good music and an amazing visuel show.  It was also a trip down memory lane, with all these songs that transport me back to my teen years and down through the years to where I'm at today.  It was in fact very emotional... 
The concert was the first of four stadium concerts here in Norway, and it was part of the band's farewell tour, which will end with concerts in Oslo in December. 
Then, a-ha will be history.

"Take On Me" was their first hit, in 1985:

And here is their farewell song:  
"Butterfly, butterfly", 
written by Paal Waaktaar-Savoy

Butterfly, butterfly
Flying into the wind
You can be sure of it
That's no place to begin

Over thinking every little thing
Acknowledge the bell you can't unring

Tomorrow, you don't have to say what you're thinking
You don't have to mean what you say

Butterfly, butterfly
Flutter in to the skies
Butterfly, butterfly
Their molecular cries

Chrysalis dreams waiting on the fifth in-star
These stained glass wings could only take you so far
You don't have to say that it matters
You don't have to turn something in
Stay with it through thick and thin
Butterfly, begin

Butterfly, butterfly

Tomorrow, you don't have to mean what you say
Left without a reason to stay
Comes the last hurrah
Here's our last hurrah

Butterfly, butterfly
You can be sure of it

The video:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

School Days Are Stressful!

School started last week.  Summer holidays in Norway are typically from June 15 to August 15, so now we're all back in business.  I have a really hard time adapting this year...  Working from home, it's always a juggle during the kids' holidays, because I have to find "pockets" of time for me do to my work, so you would think I'd cherish the "normal" rhythm, with the kids out of my way, but the thing is, it's stressful to have everybody going somewhere early in the morning.  And there are lunches to pack, clothes to prepare, homework to check, schedules to remember...  (-Who's got piano tomorrow - and when?)  So much more peaceful when everybody's just hanging out, and we all can just take our time, let breakfast last forever, talk about nothing and everything.  No stress, just Being.
But, there is this thing called school, and there is this other thing called work, so Fall is here with schedules and routine, and hopefully we'll all soon adapt.  Maybe I'll even learn to enjoy it, somewhat?
And, my youngest is only away three days a week.  Tuesdays and Fridays the two of us are still just hanging out, when the others have left in the morning.  We take our time, and I love these days. 

Skolen startet igjen forrige uke.  I år sliter jeg med å komme i gang...  I og med at jeg jobber hjemmefra, er det alltid vanskelig å finne tid når barna har ferie, jeg må jobbe innimellom, finne "lommer" hvor jeg kan sitte på kontoret eller fotografere i studioet.  Man skulle tro jeg ville lengte etter "normal" rytme, med barna ute av veien, men, saken er at det er stressende når alle skal ut av huset tidlig på morgenen.  Matpakker skal ordnes, klær skal være i orden, lekser og ukeplaner skal følges opp, timeplaner må huskes... (-Hvem har piano i morgen, og når var det igjen?)  Så utrolig mye mer fredfullt når alle bare kan være sammen og vi kan ta oss tid, la frokosten vare i evigheter, snakke om alt og ingenting.  Ikke noe stress, bare Være.
Men, det er noe som heter skole, og det er noe som kalles jobb, så høsten er her med timeplaner og rutine, og forhåpentligvis vil vi alle snart venne oss til det.  Kanskje jeg til og med lærer å like det?
Og, Minstemann er bare ute av huset tre dager i uka.  Tirsdager og fredager er vi to fortsatt sammen når de andre har dratt ut tidlig på morgenen.  Vi tar oss tid, og jeg elsker disse dagene.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Huge image-color problem on Blogger!

This is a post to tell you that something is wrong with Blogger (Blogspot)'s image/color management.  When I post my pictures in the smaller sizes, they look normal, but when I post them in a larger format, they become darker and totally dull/grey.  (The exact same picture, already uploaded to Blogger!)
This can not be seen from my laptop Mac, but is striking on my PC.
I had my husband check his laptop (PC) and it is as bad there.

So, if some of you have wondered why my pictures have become that awful lately, well, I really hope Blogger clears this up, as soon as possible.

Just to show you the difference:  The exact same (already uploaded) photo.  Here in size "medium" (Blogger interface lingo).

I hope they fix this soon!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fun in the Zoo

Vi spent two days this summer in the Zoo in Kristiansand , Norway.  It's a zoo, and it's an amusement park /theme park with elements from Norwegian children's books and films.
Here is a series of pictures from the experience:

I'm the king of the world!

Just observing...

Don't mess with me.  I'm actually more dangerous than those men...

What a wonderful day to be a lion!

Hm... This is a tiny little bit scary...

I'm really not sure about this...

No, wait,  it's fun!

Can I please eat my lunch alone?

Hi there, how are you enjoying your day?

My son is studying the map... and I'm looking for the wolves!

Feeding the Alpakas

What are you staring at?

My nephew and daughter.

My youngest, going for a stroll.

My daughter and niece.

Meercats.  We loved them!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Picture of the day: Lovely Rain

The picture is taken in a little Tuscan village that I passed through this June.   
It started raining, which almost always makes good photo opportunities!
And, it's a good illustration for my day, here in Norway, where it has been raining heavily for most of the day.  The thing is, I love it!  I love the cleanness, the fresh feeling of washed air, the sight of flowers and trees who get exactly what they need, and, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, it makes me feel good about staying indoors!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Children have to play outdoors!

Yes, this is one of the most important principles of parenting in Norway.  Children should play outdoors, at least once a day, and preferably, all day. 
This is no matter what the weather is like, you just dress them accordingly.
It goes for schools and daycare centers too.  Kids are outdoors as much as possible. 
When we lived in France and in the US, I learned that other cultures don't feel the same way, especially when weather is concerned...  Well, on this part, I agree with the Norwegian way.  Weather shouldn't keep you from being outdoors.  So, in this country we are lucky to have easy access to all kind of weatherproof clothes for kids and adults, whole jumpsuits which are both wind- rain- and snow-proof,boots for wet weather, boots for cold weather, boots for wet AND cold weather, wool tights and shirts  for warm layers, fleece jackets to have between the wool layer and the outher layer, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it.
But, when the weather is rainy, cold, snowy etc, it's understood that you are outside for a little while, then go back inside.  Another scenario alltogether when the weather is considered good.  Then it's almost a sin not to go out there!
 It's so all-important that kids play outdoors, that if they choose not to on a sunny Summer day, it's close to catastrophic.  "What!  You are in your room!?!  But, the sun is shining out there, get out immediately!" 
I don't agree with this.  Yes, of course, fresh air and some sun is good for you, but the indoor climate in our modern (Western) homes are not that bad!  (I wonder if this obsession with being outdoors comes from the times when Norwegian houses were tiny and crowded, and with wood stoves and no ventilation, so you really got sick from sitting in there too much...)
Don't get me wrong.  I love being outdoors.  I enjoy my garden, I walk a lot, use my bike, and I take my kids hiking, swimming, blueberry picking in the woods, or just hang out on our porch or in our back yard.  But, since I was a kid, I've also loved typically indoors activites, as reading, writing, drawing etc, and if I could (can) choose, I would prefer to stay indoors.  And, even among adults, that's not always highly regarded, since it's better to be able to say you've spent your day off outside, no matter what you were doing, than inside your house.  I totally believe in people being active, moving, walking;  and TV, computers and other screen activities represent a huge health hazard, I know that.  But, that factor put aside, I feel it's too bad when creative kids are cut off from their work (=playing, crafting), just because it's better to be outside doing something else!

And, now, when I'm really happy to see it's raining, just because I won't feel guilty about not staying outdoors all day, I think there is something wrong...   
I'm working on enjoying just being where I want to be, outside if I choose to, or inside, if I prefer, without that constant nagging feeling that I should be outside. That goes for my kids too.
(There are exceptions, of course, when my boys' energy level rises to way above the red line, and I have them run off some steam in our back yard or suggest a bike ride.)
So, during a gorgeous Summer day (after days and days of rain), my daughter wanted to stay in her room playing instead of being outdoors.  After trying to have her help me with some planting in the garden, where she just constantly complained of being to hot and wanting to go back in, I was going to guilt-trip her with "When we finally have some good weather, you're staying IN???", but I bit my tongue, and let her play where she wanted.  I was actually just going to repeat words I've heard over and over, and still hear, without thinking if I really stand behind those words!  I'm glad I succeded in over-ruling this voice, but I only wish I'd just let her be in the first place...

Barn må leke ute!

Ja, dette er et av de mest viktige prinsippene for foreldre i Norge.  Barn skal leke ute, minst en gang om dagen, og helst hele dagen.  Samme hva slags vær det er, du bare kler dem deretter.  Dette gjelder skoler og barnehager også.  Barn er ute så mye som mulig.
Da vi bodde i Frankrike og USA, lærte jeg at andre kulturer ikke ser dette på samme måten, særlig når det gjelder været...  Men, på dette punktet er jeg svært enig i den norske måten å tenke på.  Været bør ikke hindre deg i å være ute.  Så, i dette landet er vi så heldige at vi har lett tilgang til alle slags værbestandige klær for både barn og voksne.  Parkdresser som er både vind-, regn- og snø-tette, støvler for vått vær, støvler for kaldt vær, støvler for kaldt OG vått vær, ullstrømpebukser og trøyer for varme lag innerst, fleecejakker til å ha mellom ullundertøyet og yttertøyet, luer, skjerf, votter, alt hva du måtte ønske.
Men, når det regner, snør, er svært kaldt osv, da er det underforstått at du er ute en liten stund, før du går inn igjen.  Noe helt annet er det når været er regnet som pent.  Da er det nesten en stor synd å ikke gå ut.
Det er så viktig at barna leker ute, at hvis de velger å ikke gjøre det på en strålende sommerdag, er det nærmest katastrofisk.  "Hva!  Du er inne på rommet ditt!?!  Men, solen skinner der ute, kom deg ut øyeblikkelig!"
Jeg er ikke enig med dette.  Ja, selvfølgelig, frisk luft og litt sol er bra for deg, men inneklimaet i våre moderne (vestlige) hus er da ikke så ille! (Jeg lurer på om denne besettelsen med uteliv kommer fra de tidene da norske hus var små og overfylte, og med vedovner og null lufting, så du faktisk ble syk av å være inne for lenge om gangen...)
Ikke misforstå meg.  Jeg liker å være ute.  Jeg nyter hagen min, går mye, bruker sykkelen ofte, og jeg tar med barna mine på turer, på bading, bærplukking i skogen, eller bare er ute på verandaen eller i hagen.  
Men, helt siden jeg var barn, har jeg også likt typiske inneaktiviteter som lesing, skriving, tegning osv, og hvis jeg kunne (kan) velge, vil jeg ofte foretrekke å være inne.  
Og, til og med blant voksne, er ikke dette så bra, for det er bedre å si at du har vært ute hele dagen, samme hva du har gjort, enn at du har tilbrakt dagen inne.
Jeg mener absolutt at folk bør være aktive, at de bør røre seg, gå på beina, og TV, datamaskiner og andre skjermaktiviteter representerer en enorm helsefare, det er jeg klar over.  Men, hvis vi setter denne faktoren tilside, så synes jeg det er ille når kreative barn blir stoppet i sin utfoldelse, bare fordi de burde gå ut og gjøre noe annet!

Og nå, når jeg er virkelig lykkelig over å se at det regner, bare fordi jeg ikke trenger å få dårlig samvittighet over å ikke være ute hele tiden, da mener jeg at noe er galt...
Nå jobber jeg med å klare å like å være der jeg er, ute hvis jeg vil, eller inne, hvis jeg foretrekker det, uten denne konstante plagsomme følelsen av at jeg burde være ute.  Dette gjelder også barna mine.
(Det er unntak, selvfølgelig, når mine sønners energinivå stiger over den røde linja, og jeg må få dem ut så de kan løpe av seg litt ute i hagen eller ta en sykkeltur.)
Så, en fantastisk sommerdag (etter dager med regn) ville datteren min heller være på rommet sitt og leke i stedet for å være ute i solen.  Etter å ha prøvd å få henne til å hjelpe meg med noe planting i hagen, hvor hun bare konstant klaget over varmen og ville gå inn igjen, holdt jeg på å gi henne dårlig samvittighet med "Når vi endelig har fått deilig sommervær, så skal du være INNE???", men jeg bet meg i tungen, sa ingenting, og lot henne leke der hun ville.  Jeg holdt jo bare på å si til henne de samme ordene jeg selv har hørt så mange ganger, og fortsatt hører i hodet mitt, uten å tenke etter om jeg virkelig står bak disse ordene!  Jeg er så glad jeg klarte å overkjøre denne stemmen, men jeg skulle bare ønske jeg hadde latt henne være i fred helt fra starten av...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 Days in Italy: San Giminiano

The first day on the photographic workshop, while driving from Florence to Buonconvento, we stopped for a few hours in San Giminiano.  It's one of these medieval towns, perched on a hill, with walls all around.  What is really special for San Giminiano, are the towers.  Today, there are 13 of them, but there used to be over 70.  The reason for these towers is debated, but it might have been defense, or just show-off.

We parked the bus down by the foot of the hill, and walked our way up to the walled city.  When we approached the entrance, we were met by music, flags and people dressed in various medieval costumes.  There was actually a festival going on: Ferie Delle Messi.  It was pretty much like traveling in time, and, of course there were a lots to photograph.  Which is sometimes intimidating, actually.  When there is too much, it's really hard to find the really good.  
Here you have some impressions from my afternoon in San Giminiano: