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