Saturday, December 31, 2011

Skiing in our backyard

This beautiful Winter Wonderland  didn't last long.  The warmer weather melted away most of our Christmas Card snow. But, on Christmas Eve, when these pictures were taken, Jonatan could still enjoy skiing in our backyard. :-)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Swan Lake - The Russian Way

Two weeks before Christmas, our little town received a visit from the Russian ballet ensemble St. Petersburg State Ballet. It was simply amazing to experience such a world class performance of Swan Lake here in our little theatre.
Wonderful dancers, enchanting backdrops and costumes, and, of course Pyotr Tchaikovsky's beautiful and strong music made the whole thing an unforgettable experience.

Natalya Pothekina danced the roles of Odette and Odile, and Sergey Popov was prince Siegfried.

The story is simple, but thrilling: Odette and the other swans are young girls who only can assume human form at night, because of a spell cast by the evil Rothbart. The only thing that can break this spell is devoted love...  
Prince Siegfried falls in love with Odette, but then, mistakes Odile, Rothbart's daughter for Odette, and proclaims his love to the wrong girl...  In one version of Swan Lake the whole thing ends in disaster and sorrow, like the version danced by The Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle in 2009.
But in this version,  prince Siegfried fights the evil magician, and the spell is broken.  Love wins.

The Royal Palace

The lake

Christmas Eve

My bunch this Christmas Eve.
Gjengen min, på julaften.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December Days Part IV

Early morning cello practice today.  It was still dark, and very Christmasy out there, with all this snow, the cold and the decorations all over town. There were four of us playing together this morning, and we went through some Christmas carols, and some pieces by Mendelssohn and Mascagni.
After practicing, we had a coffee in town before getting on with whatever each of us had planned for the day. For me that meant hurrying home so that my husband could go to work. Our youngest is not in full time daycare, so today is one of those days were we just hang out, and get different things done around the house.  We've made some cookie dough (that right now sits in the pantry waiting to become cookies), done some cleaning, playing, had lunch, and I have answered about a 1000 "why?"s .  (That's life with a 4-year-old! ☺)
After lunch we have quiet time. The 4-year-old reads books in his room, and I stretch out on the living-room coach, gathering strength for the rest of the day. Tonight I work as a parent educator, and before that, three other kids are coming home from school, and I think there is some Christmas gift making to be done with my 8-year-old.
Have a wonderful December 20th!

Photo: Gjø

Monday, December 19, 2011

Four Candles

Yesterday we lightened the fourth candle.  The fourth and last Sunday of Advent.  The kids can't wait for Christmas to be here, but we adults, well, we think it's completely ok with another 5 days...
Today I'm doing paperwork at my desk, paying bills, signing pictures, packing pictures, writing bills.  I'm taking a break in the middle of the day, going to my son's school for Christmas lunch.  
Outside the snow covers everything now.  Winter Wonderland.  Birds are happily flocking around the goodies we've put out for them, and the cat is enjoying the warm indoors.
Have a nice week! ☺

I går tente vi det fjerde lyset.  Det fjerde og siste søndagen i advent.  Barna kan knapt vente på at det blir jul, mens vi voksne, vi synes det er helt greit med 5 dager til...
I dag gjør jeg kontorarbeid, betaler regninger, signerer bilder, pakker bilder, skriver regninger.
Jeg tar en pause midt på dagen og drar på julelunsj i min sønns klasse.
Ute dekker snøen alt nå. Et vinter-eventyrland. Småfuglene flagrer lykkelig rundt juleneket, og katten nyter varmen inne.
Ha en fin uke! ☺

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Digital Story of the Nativity

I came over this 1year old Youtube video the other day, and I like it.  The Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, email etc.  Fun, and interesting!

Picture of the day: Traditional Norwegian dress

I already posted these pictures on my photography blog, but they also belong here, since this beautiful model is my daughter.  It's actually very difficult for me to photograph my own children, I always have a hard time separating the two roles of being both the photographer and the mom.  But, here I feel that I was able to make some pictures we both can be proud of. :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Days Part III

I have been forced to think about priorities these last weeks. Sorry for rambling about sickness (I don't particularly enjoy it when others do that...), but  I've had the longest lasting "cold" in my life (sore throat, cough, sinus infection, headache, snot, fever, the works!) and there has been very little strength to spare, once my work days has been over. Some days I've just felt like staying in bed, but Christmas is up in less than a week, and there are lots of things to be done.

Or, are there - really?

Just thinking, because I read Facebook updates about stressed-out people who don't think they will get everything done in time, and I hear people talk about how little time there is to do all these things that really must be done. Then you have those who already finished everything (they started in October), and by now their house is spotless, all the cookies are baked and boxed, all gifts are wrapped, and they can lean back and just wait.  They don't mean to, but they stress out the others even more...
What do I need for it to be Christmas?
Really, not much.  But, there are things the children would miss if they weren't there, and there are things that make us feel good.  So, we have baked gingerbread cookies, and tomorrow we'll make marzipan. (Yes, the real, homemade marzipan that has nothing in common with the store-bought, too sweet kind.)
As I'm writing this, my husband is out with the youngest kids, braving the crowds at the shopping mall.  I let him find whatever's needed, that is a dress for our youngest daughter, some poinsettias (julestjerner) and groceries for this weekend.
We've got some gifts for the kids, Christmas music cd's, Nativity scene in the bay window, and next week we'll get a tree and put up some decorations. The house is not spotless, not at all, but hopefully we'll manage to keep the worst dust bunnies under control.  At the moment, I've landed on the coach, trying to stop that head from spinning. Advice to you all: Lessen the requirements, the expectations of what you should achieve. Try to breathe, focus on the important stuff, and leave the rest.  Christmas memories are not made out of clean floors and cupboards, stylish interiors or designer decorations.  They are made out of candles, songs, food, candy, being together, without stress, and something that you could never find at the mall: Christmas Magic.

Picture of the day: Paris Café Scene

I took this picture last April, and it's a good friend of mine who is enjoying café life on Montmartre.  We're right on the spot where late 19th century artists used to meet: Monet, Renoir, Zola, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne and many more. I just love Paris, and I love this area, which has, despite the tourism, kept a lot of it's village spirit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Picture of the day: Godmother and -child

My eldest daughter with my niece, on the day of her baptism.  My daughter is her godmother, and a proud one, too!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Picture of the day: Cat and Girl

My 8-year-old just loves our kitten, and here they are, one about to falling asleep, the other one already in dreamland. Picture taken with my mobile phone, since no camera was handy at the moment.

Cute - or really annoying Christmas song?

I have a box of Christmas CD's.  Lots and lots of song, and some of them are beautiful, others are...not so beautiful.  Some of them get easily stuck on your brain, and when that happens with one of those not-so-beautiful-songs, it's really, really annoying.
This one, Dominick the Donkey, isn't very well known in Norway.  I never heard it growing up, and maybe that was a good thing?
The song is really silly, about a "Christmas Donkey" (of all things!), written by Ray Allen, Sam Saltzberg and Wandra Merrell, and recorded in 1960 by Lou Monte.
I warn you, it is for sure one of those songs who easily get stuck on your brain, and you'll end up humming at work, or singing it in the shower.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Old Pictures: Cover Girl

Well, these pictures aren't that old, taken only about 15 years ago, and I'm sorry, but I don't recall the photographer's name.  We had lots of fun, both my daughter and I during the photoshoot, and maybe I got an idea about what I was going to work with a few years later?...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Picture of the day: Man and Woman by Picasso

I saw this painting by Pablo Picasso a month ago in the National Gallery in Oslo.  It's made in 1903, and it is very typical for Picasso's blue period. The palette of colors is cold, bluish, and the theme is blue: A man and woman sitting in a café. Their expressions are  gloomy, stiff, frozen, and we can sense there is some kind of tragedy behind the scene.  The picture is often called just "Man and Woman sitting in a café", but the  caption on the frame  says, in French: Le Pauvre Ménage, which translates something like "The poor couple", "the poor family", or "a couple that we feel sorry for."
It's an expressionist painting for sure, and there is so much untold within these brush strokes. Just like "The embrace", that I wrote about earlier this year. 
I feel with them, even though I don' know their story. I can feel the hurt, the cold, the hopelessness, and the emptiness in the woman's eyes...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Finally - some snow!

-Is it winter now? My 4-year-old exclaimed, and he could hardly believe it when I assured him that yes, it's winter.  -Why isn't it fall anymore? he asked. 
-Well, because it's cold, it's December, and since yesterday we have snow.  
He smiled his broadest smile, and sighed.  -I love snow, he said.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Days Part II

Well, that perfect good night's sleep didn't happen exactly.  (And before you consider go on reading: This is 100% rambling. Stumbling words, not-at-all-edited  thoughts from a working from home mom, single parenting at the moment, and having evil viruses around the house.)
About last night: First, I couldn't sleep right away, my thoughts just wouldn't shut up, and then, when I finally was sound asleep, my 4-year-old woke me up, wanting to move into my bed.  Well, we got all his "things" (Stuffed tiger, stuffed lion, stuffed dog, blankets, sippy cup of water etc.), and he went back to breathing peacefully, nestled close by me.  I had to go to the bathroom, and then, I had a hard time sleeping again, until finally I was in Dream Land.  Not for long, though, because my 8-year-old suddenly stood by my bed murmuring that she just had a bad dream.  Needed some comforting before being able to calm down.  This happened once more, and then, suddenly, I realized my alarm clock would go off in ten minutes.  It was time to get up for the day, and I hadn't really slept much at all...

My 8-year-old still had a fever, so I kept her home for the 2nd day in a row, something that has never happened (because of sickness, that is, we have taken her out of school a lot because of traveling...) since she started school 2 1/2 years ago.  I intended on keeping her in bed most of the day, so that I could get some work done.  Well, she switched back and forth between her bed, where she read books,  and the livingroom coach, watching Toy Story II and Animal Planet.

My 12-year-old impressed me.  After fiishing breakfast really quick, he sat down for half an hour preparing for an English test, then he practiced the piano for ten minutes, and left the house with plenty of margin to be at school on time.  My 15-year-old left shortly after, she had a mid-term today, and was rather stressed out because of it.  Then, there was the big Calm descending on my kitchen.  My sick 8-year-old sat there, not talking, trying to eat a little.  Then my 4-year-old showed up, sleepy, wanting to have breakfast too.  I had my 2nd cup of coffee, and decided not to rush him to daycare.  We would just take our time, and then walk to to the daycare center when he was ready.

Not. My eldest called.  She had missed her bus, and now she was in serious trouble.  I realized I had to drive, and in a few instants I was able to get dressed, making my son finish his breakfast, pack his bag and lay out clothes for him so that  his big sister could help him get dressed while I got everything together and simultaneously called my daughter's school to inform them that she would be late and beg them to let her take her midterm anyway.

We made it ok, but I can't exactly say that there was a warm and fuzzy atmosphere in the car this morning.  Then, arriving at the daycare center, I realized I had forgotten my son's bag at home...
In the end I was back home, checked on my sick child, made her drink some more juice, and got started on my work.

My 8-year-old  is still sick, by the way, and I should really get to bed now. Good night.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Days.

December days. Mostly about not recovering from this virus or whatever it is that has been bugging me - literally - for over a month now! -  and hanging out with kids who are either sick or not sick any more. We keep a wood fire burning and light a lot of candles, because the days are so short, and flickering flames have this special gift of making hearts warmer.
The kids take turns every day in opening a little present on the Advent calendar on the kitchen wall, they play Christmas tunes on the piano and they prepare gifts and hide secrets in their rooms. I try to get some work done while they're in school, and I try to prevent my house from looking like a total disaster zone. Not sure if I succed that one, though...
I never get to know the bliss of empty hampers, and the kids are getting used to finding their socks, underwear and jeans in the "clean laundry" pile.  But that's ok, after all, and in the middle of these mountains of  laundry not folded, school books, papers and legos, I try to write Christmas cards, while listening to some of my ancient Christmas cd's. And I'm burning incense, - long lovely-smelling sticks bought in Pune (India), Paris or China Town in Vancouver, Candada.
Our world is small. Our life is short. We should try and make the best of whatever is right now. For me, Right Now is a cup of tea, some dark chocolate, a purring kitten by my side, and four sleeping  children I love to death, the fact that now by 10PM I'm showered, already in my PJ's and that it looks like my night will be more than 6 hours. :-) What's your Right Now?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Small things may have a huge impact!

A few weeks ago I wrote this piece in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. It's about the importance of Norwegian parents taking responsibility in including immigrant kids in birthday parties and other kid activities.  I think this may have a big impact, because it helps in closing the gap between cultures.  Kids who become friends, don't care about culture, religion or where you come from, they just play, and this is a wonderful basis for building a multi-culturual society.  Connecting our kids may actually helpe us have less prejudice - and a better world to live in!

I was contacted by a journalist from Familieverden, a Norwegian website for parents, who wanted to make a piece on me.  When she learned that I have a personal story to go with my opinion (that we made sure my daughter's classmate from Somalia got to attend her 6-years-birthday party, and that they still are friends, 9 years later), she asked to make an interview with both me and my daughters friend.
Here you can read the article. (Still in Norwegian.)
Then, last week, a regional radio station (NRK 1 Hedmark/Oppland) wanted to make a story on us, and it ended up being broadcasted both regionally and nationally (NRK P2) and also written as a web story on

Photo: Hanne Stine Kind

Here you can listen to the radio broadcast:

It didn't end there.  Before the day was over, we had a TV team coming over, and on Friday night, there was a news story both on the regional network (NRK Østnytt) and on the main national news broadcast (NRK Dagsrevyen)

Here is the TV broadcast, where you even get a glimpse of my youngest, playing on the floor. :-)

Photo: Hanne Stine Kind

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Night Thoughts

Night has fallen. My windowpanes are black, an a wind storm is playing with the trees and shrubs in the back yard. Inside my house a wood fire is burning, candles are my main light source, and apart from the wind out there, it's all silence.  I should be in bed by now.  I really should.  This cold or flu or whatever is is hasn't left me yet, and I'm alone with the kids again for some days and surely need my strength tomorrow.  But, this tiny patch of stillness is special to me. I can almost hear the silence, and even just for a few minutes, it is valuable, so I stay, at least for a little while.
There are loads of laundry which should have been folded, sticky floors who badly need some mopping, but after washing and reading to two kids, distributing medicine to another two, and tucking in and hugging all four of them, I just want to sit here for a little while, letting my thoughts wander, breathing and not really thinking or preparing for tomorrow.  Tomorrow, my youngest child's 4th birthday. He will of course have gifts and special attention in the morning, and then, when the others come home, we'll celebrate over dinner and pie.
The kitten is nestling down close to me now. Purring. Her face reminds me of little Simba from The Lion King.  She radiates serenity and comfort, and I can feel myself taking longer breaths just by looking at her. Time to go to sleep now. Good Night.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Picture of the day: Annunciation by Fra Angelico

As we enter the Advent season, I want to show you this fresco made by Fra Angelico in 1440-1445. You can see it IRL in the covent of San Marco in Florence, on the dormitory wall. When you enter the dormitory from the staircase, this huge painting is the first thing you'll catch sight of.
A young and humble virgin Mary being visited by the angel telling her about what's going to happen.  What could possibly go through her mind at that moment?  Well, we wouldn't know, but I think Fra Angelico, in his (for us) old-fashioned, and somewhat static style, captures some of those unknown feelings and thoughts.  It's the first Sunday of Advent today. For us this can be a season for preparing, thinking through, taking time to get to know what kind of feelings, thoughts and priorities we actually have...

Nå når vi går inn i Adventstiden, vil jeg vise dere denne fresken: "Bebudelsen", laget av Fra Angelico i 1440-1445.  Du kan se det i virkeligheten i San Marco-klosteret i Firenze, på veggen i soveavdelingen.  Når du kommer inn hit fra trappen, er dette enorme maleriet det første du får øye på.  
En ung og ydmyk jomfru Maria som får besøk av engelen som forteller henne om hva skom skal skje.  Hva i all verden tenkte hun på i det øyeblikket?  Vi har ingen mulighet til å vite det, men jeg synes Fra Angelico i sin (for oss) gammelmodige og ganske statiske stil får tak i noen av disse ukjente følelsene og tankene.  
Det er første søndag i advent i dag.  For oss kan dette bli en tid hvor vi forbereder, tenker gjennom, tar tid til å bli kjent med hva slags følelser, tanker og prioriteringer vi faktisk har...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Picture of the day: In front of the camera this time

A photographer friend of mine needed a model for an assignment: A self-portrait.   
Here you see the result.  I think it's a playful, creative photograph, and it was fun to be a part of it, even though it was a strange feeling, to be on the other side of the camera...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Picture of the day: "Not too sure about this"...

My youngest, 3 1/2 years old, at the open air museum in Trondheim this summer.  He's dressed up to look like a boy from the early 1900's, but he's not sure what to think of it all.  Not yet, anyway, but shortly after he was enjoying the whole experience. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Childhood Days

Just a few snapshots from one of these mornings we have to ourselves, my preschooler and I.  He is our youngest, and two days every week I can focus on him, not haul him along to the other kids' activities, not making him wait because I have important things to do.  
Small joys, like finding and eating a big tomato, playing with cars on the floor, not having to stress and hurry, not getting fully dressed  (unless we decide to go for a walk), having the time to talk, ask questions and answer them. Being in the present.  Not over-thinking. And, I get to see the world as an almost 4-year-old sees it. What a blessing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Without Hope - or Crazy With Fear

This painting is made by Eugène Delacroix, the French 19th Century artist.  I saw it in the National Gallery in Oslo last week, and I really wonder how I can have missed it until now...
It's an amazing, intriguing piece of work.  The Norwegian title is "På Kanten av Stupet", which translates "On the edge of the cliff", and the caption says that the original, French title is "Le désespéré" (The despaired, the one feeling without hope.) Well, I think the correct French title actually is "Fou de Peur", or "Crazy with Fear." Anyway, no matter which title this painting has, it's obviously about a man about to fall, to let himself fall... His expression is pained, desperate, panicked.
The painting is left partly unfinished, and I wonder if that may be intentional.  He (the artist himself?) is letting himself fall, away, into the unknown.  
Some talk about suicide, others will say it's about going crazy.  I simply see the reflection of that feeling many of us are familiar with, the feeling of loosing our grip on life, that the ground beneath our feet is disappearing and that we're slipping into a huge void. Fear. Hopelessness. Anxiety.
Anyway, it's a must-see if you ever go to Oslo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kitchen Table Thoughts

Alone again.  Not  for long, of course, only a little more than a week, but being at less than 50% of my capacities. it is not easy.  I'm suffering from a sore throat, runny nose, headache and lots and lots of self pity.  The thing is, with work and 4 kids, there is no way I can be sick, so I just have to handle it as best I can.  During the week it has been the usual: Getting up early, making breakfast and waking the children, making sure they all get to school on time.  The days I worked, I took  my youngest to daycare first, but the other days, we could hang out in our PJ's all morning, talk, play,  just not doing that much. I love having those days with him, and I think they are very important also, for my little boy.
Work days this week has been about photoshoots, photo editing and making of proof albums.  And I've been writing on a couple of articles.

Then weekend came.  On Saturday my eldest son participated in the regional final of 1st LEGO League, something he and his team had worked towards for weeks. I had to get up at 6:45 AM to help him prepare for his day and send him off.  Since my eldest daughter had rehearsals all day for an upcoming show: "Reisen til Julestjernen" (she is both dancing ballet AND playing the piano in the show, I brought the two youngest to watch my son's team compete.  It took place at the local University College (Høgskolen i Gjøvik), and the place was packed.  Kids everywhere, running, stressing, panicking, preparing their robots, trying to find their way in this big, confusing setup. But, the whole thing is really amazing, and I'm impressed by the kids and what they're able to do.  I'm also very proud of my son, who acted so calm and focused, and really did a great job! After watching several performances, I had to run some errands (grocery store, post office etc.) before I  took the small kids back home for lunch Then laundry, cleaning and cooking for dinner that night: Home made pizzas.   My eldest daughter made it back just in time, and we all enjoyed pizza, soda and some candy and games after dinner. Then my daughter went out again to meet with friends, and after putting the  youngest kids to bed, I watched a movie with my eldest son.

Today my eldest daughter had rehearsals again, she took off in the morning, and I brought my sons to watch my youngest daughter perform at the local riding show.  (She was picked up by a friend of mine early in the morning, since they need time to prepare and warm up the horses.)  Did I mention I'm sick, and that my youngest is sick too?  He actually threw up on the floor in the horse barn, and I could hardly talk all morning, my voice only a hoarse, coarse, strange sound.
Well, anyway, I was so proud of my little girl doing her performance, all alone in that huge riding hall, in front of the judges, but in the end we were all so cold we could hardly wait to come back home.
Wood fire, warm waffles and hot chocolate  helped a lot, and we had a cozy lunch at the kitchen table. Afterwards, I read a book to my youngest, and now he is  is sleeping, my youngest daughter watching "The Cat in the Hat" movie, and my eldest son playing on the computer.  I've made some coffee, taken some more painkillers, and now I do remember to breathe.

In a little while I'll cook dinner, prepare the kids' school lunches for tomorrow and hopefully have an early night.  I need that.  (Single) Motherhood is not for whimps, that's certain, but then again, it's also very rewarding, fulfulling and nice.  Just not that easy when sick...

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New Baby...

We have a new baby at home.  Little 8-week-old Lussi (Lucia), an adorable kitten, came to us this Tuesday, and we're all madly in love with her.  She is so cute, funny, cuddly, and when she isn't running around like crazy, climbing on furniture, knocking over flower vases, and chasing toys, she is in her basket, sleeping like - a baby. :-)

Happy (our other cat) disappeared a month ago.  We've been looking everywhere, putting up posters, distributing flyers and having ads published in the local papers, but nothing. The grief has been really tough, hard,  something that could only understood if one ever got attached to a pet...

Last weekend, a neighbor told us about this kitten with no home, and even though we've not completely given up hope of finding Happy, and despite us thinking that it would be wise to wait for a while, we caved - once we saw the little cutie. If Happy comes back, well, we'll have two cats, that's all.

Lussi spent a few hours being scared and unsure about this new setting, but after lunch, when the three-year-old went down for his nap, she decided to copy that, and fell fast asleep in the basket I had prepared for her.

Now she is following us around everywhere in the house, purring and smiling her kitten-smiles, playing with the various cat-toys my youngest daughter has made for her, and suddenly falling asleep, whenever she feels like it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Important Birthday!

(English translation is coming up.)

(Kronikk på trykk i Dagbladet, i dag, mandag 31. oktober 2011. Klikk her for teksten på
Foto: Tor Richardsen/Scanpix

Barnebursdagen er ekstremt viktig i norsk kultur, og det har den vært i generasjoner. Norske barn drømmer om dagen sin gjennom hele året, teller ned til neste gang, og det å bli invitert i en annens selskap er alltid stort.

Bursdagsbarnet har en svært sterk posisjon. Han eller hun er diktator for en dag, og hvem har ikke hørt argumentet som avslutter en hver diskusjon: "Hvis ikke, så får du ikke komme i bursdagen min!"

Til tross for at den ofte inneholder elementer som intriger, skuffelser, gråt og krangel: Barnebursdagen holder stand som noe svært viktig i Norge, kanskje mer enn noen gang. Den er et viktig element, og en av de aller tidligste sosiale referansene i barndommen. Å vokse opp i Norge uten å være en del av dette, har sannsynligvis større ringvirkninger enn mange tenker over, og dette gjelder dessverre mange barn i minoritetsgrupper.

Jeg har selv lagt merke til at barn med innvandrerbakgrunn ofte ikke kommer i bursdagsselskap, til tross for at skolene ofte har regler for invitasjon, slik at ingen skal bli utelatt.
De inviterer sjeldnere selv, kanskje fordi familien ikke har tradisjon for barneselskap, og de kommer også sjeldnere i bursdagsselskap når de er invitert. Dette gjelder også for familiegrupper og andre sosiale tiltak som styres av foreldre/foresatte på norske skoler.

Dette er ikke bra. Barn fra minoritetsmiljø må få være med på bursdag! Jeg tror at dette faktisk er en stor og viktig nøkkel når det gjelder problemene med integrering og behersking av norsk språk i landet vårt. 

Disse jentene og guttene som aldri er med i barneselskap, aldri blåser lys eller synger "Hurra for deg", de vokser opp blant oss uten å få denne viktige fellesreferansen som vi fortsatt har i landet vårt. De går glipp av selve festen, men enda verre, de går glipp av alt den representerer, alt man kan snakke om etterpå, fra å ha vært hjemme hos andre i klassen, møtt familien, sett rommet eller hunden, til å ha lekt gjemsel eller flasketuten peker på. 

De kommer automatisk på sidelinjen i etterkant og tyr da naturlig nok til andre som er i situasjon, og både integrering og trening i norsk språk lider.

Her må foreldre på banen. Dette gjelder alle, både de som regner seg som helt norske, og de som ikke er det. Innvandrerforeldre må rett og slett få lære at barnebursdager er viktig i Norge. At man ikke bare kan overse en bursdagsinvitasjon, men at det tvert imot er viktig at datteren eller sønnen innfinner seg på angitt sted og tid, med nykjemmet hår og gave eller konvolutt i hånden.

Og, jeg mener at vi som regner oss som helnorske foreldre, vi må ta ansvar her. Vi må ta inn over oss at ikke en krøllete lapp på bunnen av barnets skolesekk alltid blir lest. Enten fordi mor ikke har tilstrekkelig med norskkunnskaper, eller rett og slett fordi familien det gjelder kommer fra en kultur der det som er viktig formidles muntlig. 
Andre grunner kan være at man ikke har bil, ikke er kjent i byen, eller også fordi man er skeptisk. Hva i all verden er dette,- hvorfor skal barnet mitt dra dit, til et fremmed hjem, hvorfor? Hva får de å spise, hva skjer der? Jeg kan selv med hånden på hjertet si at hadde jeg bodd i et land hvor jeg ikke var godt kjent, verken på stedet eller med språket og kulturen, hadde jeg aldri latt barnet mitt bli igjen hos en familie jeg ikke kjente. Aldri i verden!

Så, vi må ta ansvar! Vi må tørre å ta kontakt. Ringe, forklare hva det gjelder, tilby å hente/bringe med egen bil, gjerne komme innom på forhånd, snakke med en norsktalende storesøster som kan oversette, forklare. Og, kyllingpølser finnes i alle dagligvarebutikker, så det er heller ikke der problemet ligger...
Dette er nemlig viktig. Så ubetydelig som det kan virke, så er barnebursdagen en enormt viktig byggeplass for Norges framtid! Seksåringer er fortsatt så unge at foreldre kan manipulere og styre, og her kan vi dytte barna i riktig retning, sørge for at de bygger felles referanser fra første stund.

Den lille somaliske jenta som nylig var kommet til Norge og fikk sjansen til å bli med på bursdag allerede i 1. klasse, hun fikk helt fra starten av skoletiden være med på å bygge disse viktige referansene som barna har med seg videre. 
Hun kunne være med på snakkingen i friminuttet, og når hun senere gikk inn i ungdommen, selv om hun var stolt av familiens kultur, så var hun også forankret i det norske, noe som knyttet henne til sin generasjon av norsk ungdom.

Norge har blitt et fargerikt land, det er en en kjensgjerning, enten man mener det er et gode eller ikke. Mitt håp er at vi fremover skal klare å bygge en nasjonal identitet som går på tvers av denne regnbuen, og jeg tror vi vil finne en vidunderlig gullgryte av muligheter for lille Norge, men da må vi ikke la kulturelle og etniske skillelinjer vokse seg store, til de blir uoverstigelige kløfter. Vi kan ha forskjellige religioner og kulturer, men vi er alle innbyggere i Norge, og Norge er landet vårt.

Da jeg var barn het et av kapitlene i O-fag-boka: "USA, en smeltedigel for verdens folk". Norge er nå på mange måter blitt en slik smeltedigel, i mindre målestokk, selvføgelig, og jeg tror det er mulig å skape noe flott og felles, samtidig som vi tar vare på våre forskjellige språk, religioner og tradisjoner. Vi har plass nok, og forskjellene og fargeprakten gjør bare fedrelandet vårt enda flottere!

Barna er vår framtid, sier en litt tynnslitt floskel, men det er sant. Det sterke skillet som mange steder eksisterer mellom etnisk norske og fremmedkulturelle blant voksne, det vil aldri bedres hvis vi ikke begynner med de små, og kan vi klare å bringe barna sammen, på tvers av regnbuen, da er det håp også for morgendagens Norge. 

Fotball, kor og andre fritidsaktiviteter er med alle arenaer som er med på dette, men i dag foreslår jeg at vi begynner med bursdagsselskapet!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My newborn niece

Just realized that when I posted some summer pictures the other day, there were photos of her siblings, but none of her, the 6-week-old little sister.
 Well, here she is, asleep and contented, in her mother's arms.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn Paris in my Heart

This is Paris: The city where I lived for many years.  The city I have visited almost every single year since I was 17. The city I love.
A year ago, I finally put into action what I had been thinking about for a long time: Create discovery trips to Paris.  This past year I've taken three groups to my beautiful city.  I let them disover Paris through walks and small lectures, and we vistit museums and enjoy wonderful meals at my carefully chosen restaurants and cafés.
For me, this is fun, extremely rewarding, and really part of what's essential to life!
After these three first trips where I've been completely on my own, I'm now affiliated with Inspiratour, a Norwegian travel company, but I'll still do the trips my way. Next weekend trip is coming up in May 2012.
The name of my trips is Oppdagelesferd, which translates something like Exploring Trip.  The kind of journey a little child would do, with senses wide open, taking in everything. :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Lake Growing Wild

This summer  there was a rather big flood here. The lake couldn't handle all the rain and the huge amounts of water coming from the rivers, so it just flooded.  People living on the shores had their basements flooded, and the water caused some traffic problems, but nobody was hurt.
As we're living a little bit uphill from the lake, the flooding didn't  affect us, but still,  the sight of flooded playgrounds, underpasses and picnic areas was strange.