Thursday, December 27, 2007

We're off to our cabin today. There's not enough snow in Oslo to go skiing, but apparently the mountains where our cabin is have gotten a lot. We're all excited about going skiing for the first time this year. And now everyone has downhill skis, too (well, Gaute has telemark skis), so we're going to do some downhill skiing as well as cross country.

The webcamera at our cabin has been having problems lately, but Gaute is going to fix it when we get up there today, so check back on and you should be able to see what it looks like up there.

I wrote a lot about Christmas Eve, but I should say that Christmas Day was great, too. The kids stayed in bed until their official wake-up time of 7, and then we went down and opened the presents. Lots of good stuff - everyone was very pleased!! Santa brought a new flat screen TV for our new "rec room" in the basement, and Grandma and Grandpa Jim bought us a foosball game, so we are set now. The kids had a good place to set up the new Legos and Playmobil they got for Christmas, between playing with the Playstation and foosball game.

Kari and Grim came over about noon for a Christmas brunch, with buttermilk biscuits and bread and lots of good stuff. They stayed for a few hours, and the kids got to show them all of their new toys. The rest of the day was pretty relaxing - we were all pretty worn out!

And now we're off to the mountains. We'll stay there until January 2nd and celebrate New Year's up there like we have the last couple of years. New Year's Eve at our cabin is so nice. We eat fondue and the kids drink soda out of wine glasses. On New Year's Eve in Norway, people light fireworks, the cool kinds like bottle rockets and stuff like that. When it gets close to midnight, we can see that there are quite a few people up at their cabins, because the sky starts lighting up with fireworks - it's really cool!

Monday, December 24, 2007


Yesterday was one of the most beautiful winter days ever. We still had frost coating everything, it had snowed a little bit the night before, and the sun was shining.

We went ice skating on Sognsvann, a lake about 5 minutes from our house....

Christmas Eve

It's the morning of Christmas Eve. As usual, I'm up early, since sleeping in seems to be a thing of the past for me.

I just made my daily list of things to do, and, thankfully, it's not long. I've already made lots of the yummy stuff that we eat at Christmas - gingerbread cookies, candy cane cookies, pretzel cookies, Mexican wedding cookies (my absolute favorites!!), English toffee and fudge. I need to make the Rice Krispie treats, vacuum and wash the floors. I also have to make a quick trip to the mall with Espen, since he hasn't gotten gifts from more friends than he was counting on and has to buy a few more things. He and his friends are pretty in to getting each other things, but luckily that trend hasn't reached the 4th or 2nd grades. Although, he's paying for these gifts with his own money, so I shouldn't complain.

Today is the official Christmas day in Norway, but it doesn't start until the afternoon. It's acually a regular work day until 12:00. Gaute won't be going in, though, and most people who have somewhat flexible hours don't work today. Most people take the whole next week off. The week between Christmas and New Year's actually has its own name in Norway - Romjul. Both the 25th and 26th are official holidays. We're heading up to our cabin on Thursday and will be probably be there until January 2nd.

Today will be the same procedure as last year, and as every year. This afternoon, we will put on our party clothes and at 3:00, we're off to church. I am quite the hypocrite, I know. It's fun to go to church in Norway on Christmas Eve, though. They have three services, at 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30. Each neighborhood has its own local church - Norwegian Lutheran Church, the state religion. The church is packed on Christmas Eve with all of our neighbors, everyone all dressed-up. The service consists mostly of everyone singing Christmas carols, and it's a nice start to Christmas Eve.

After that, we will go up to Kari and Grim's (Gaute's parents), where dinner will be almost finished. Grim will take us down to the basement where we will be served glogg (a type of spiced cider, with and without wine) and gingerbread cookies. Then, it's back upstairs again for the special ribs most Norwegians eat for Christmas, as well as Christmas meat balls and sausages, accompanied by homemade sauerkraut, boiled potatoes and the BEST brown gravy, ever. I'm not a huge carnivore, so I usually eat lots of gravy with potatoes and sauerkraut. And the rice cream which is served for dessert. There's always a scalded almond in the rice cream, and whoever gets that gets a marzipan pig. Last year, Johan won! And he was happy, because, like Anders and me, he thinks marzipan is manna from heaven.

After that, it's time to start opening some presents. While Christmas Eve IS Christmas in Norway, the 25th is still the REAL Christmas in our family. So, on Christmas Eve, we just open the gifts from Gaute's family, and none of the presents that we have given each other. Also, the Norwegian Santa Claus, julenissen, stops by with some gifts for the kids. Unlike Santa Claus, julenisse shows up at the door with a sack of presents and personally passes out the presents to the kids. For some reason, the kids think julenissen, although he is wearing a mask, looks a lot like Grim. Not that they want him to stop showing up, though. The American Santa Claus, though, who comes at night, is real, according to Anders and Johan. Espen is no longer a true believer, however.

In between opening gifts and greeting julenissen, we eat a large number of the delicious cookies that Kari has made. Full is not an adequate description of how I feel by the end of the evening.

At around 10 or so, we head back home, so that the kids can get in bed before Santa shows up. Everyone opens their official X-mas eve packages. Pajamas every year, but exciting nonetheless. Then the kids hang up their stockings and arrange a platter of cookies for Santa (with a carrot for the reindeer). And, as they say, the rest is history....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Summer vacation, part 2

After a night in Spokane (and a great dinner at the food court at the mall (hey, it was great, really - they had a Taco Time)), we drove into Montana and down to the lovely town of West Yellowstone. We considered for a long time camping in the park, or in Grand Teton, but decided that it would be too complicated since we would be flying over from Norway, and we wouldn't really be able to take any camping gear with us. I had been in West Yellowstone as a kid and remembered it as a kind of charming little western town. So much for childhood memories... The town itself wasn't so bad, but the people staying there were pretty scary. It seems that West Yellowstone is the town to stay in if you want to go to Yellowstone, but you can't camp because they don't make a sleeping bag big enough for you.

The kids loved the never-ending supply of powdered sugar donuts at the motel breakfast, though.

We got into town in the late afternoon, and one of the first things we saw was that there was going to be a rodeo just out of town that same evening. Yee-haw! Taking the kids to a rodeo was one of my goals for this trip. It was just a little local rodeo, but the rodeo clown was pretty funny, and we had a fun time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Summer vacation, part 1

I never got around to publishing my pictures from our summer vacation. I was looking through them recently with Anders and Johan, and we were talking about what an incredibly wonderful vacation we had. So now I'm going to try to get some of the pictures out there.

We flew into Seattle and spent the first night at a not-so-great motel, but we were so tired, that the condition of our hotel was absolutely not an issue. The next day, we got up and drove into downtown Seattle where we paid a lot of money to go up to the top of the Space Needle. It was worth it, of course. The Space Needle was pretty exciting for the kids, especially since it's a Seattle landmark that they see on TV a lot.

From there, we plotted a westward course. We were on a road trip, so we stopped at all of the cool places along the way.

The kids saw their first petrified trees.

Just across the river (the Columbia) from the petrified forest were these really cool metal horses.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Can you hide anything in your shoes that you cannot hide in your underwear?

Hmmmm, what a shock! A new report shows that there is no proof that all of the security measures that airline passengers have to go through make flying any safer.

But surely there's a reason I have to put my lip gloss in a ziploc bag...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Last Day of School

Today is the kids' last day of school before Christmas. They have two weeks of vacation - they start back again on January 3rd. They were pretty hyper this morning!

I took the boys to the mall last night so they could buy gifts for each other and for Gaute. I won't give anything away by saying what they bought, but I can say that they did a good job. I don't think anyone will be disappointed Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

The birthday boy unwrapping his presents

And the big brothers wishing that they were getting some presents, too...

O Tannenbaum, o tannenbaum

We put up our tree yesterday. We like to wait until after Johan's birthday, because a decorated tree with presents under it isn't the best thing to have in your living room when you're having a birthday party for a 7-year-old. Also, the tradition in Norway is to put up your tree late - the 23rd is the traditional day (that day even has its own name in Norway - Little Christmas Eve) - and then leave it up until January 13th. So people think we're pretty strange for putting our tree up so early. Not to mention the fact that we have presents sitting under the tree. No one can understand why the kids don't just rip into the gifts and start opening them. Which says a lot about Norwegian kids....

While we were decorating our tree yesterday, Anders made a comment about how our tree always looks "kind of strange" when we get the decorations up. Norwegians don't use many decorations on their trees either. Gaute's parents are considering having nothing but lights on their tree this year, for example. Our tree, on the other hand, is covered with all kinds of different decorations which I have been collecting since I was a little girl. My mom has given me a decoration every year, and has done the same thing for the kids (which is good, since there aren't many good tree decorations in Norway). And, of course, the kids have made many decorations at school through the years which also go up on the tree. But, as we told Anders yesterday, that's the way our tree is. His childhood memories of Christmas will include the tree covered with all kinds of decorations, each one bringing back a special memory.

And we all agreed that the tree looked quite nice....

Friday, December 14, 2007


Johan's 7th birthday party just ended. Twelve 7-year old was lively....The great thing was that now that we have the basement for ourselves, we had a place to put them! We had the legos and Playmobil down there, as well as a CD player. They had a dance contest to Radio/Video by System of a Down - and it was really fun!

But now, it's Friday night, the party is over, and it's the weekend....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My friend, the Nobel Peace Prize winner

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my friend Karen's house on Saturday. Karen is a geography professor here at the University of Oslo. That I knew. I also knew that she does a lot of research on climate change. But I did not realize that she is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the lead authors of the report they issued this year. You know, the IPCC, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.... Albeit, the report had many authors and the IPCC has thousands of members, but she has still played a part in winning this prize. And she is considered one of the winners! Just had to brag a little bit about her...

We had a great time at her house on Saturday night, also. Karen is a great cook, as are all of my other friends who brought yummy things with them. I literally haven't felt so full in years. Couldn't even finish my pumpkin pie!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas programs

Anders and Johan had their Christmas programs this week. Anders' was on Thursday evening. The 4th graders had a great reenactment of the Titanic disaster. It was really impressive - they've been practicing for several months, and it showed.

Johan's school program was a more traditional one where the 2nd graders sang Christmas songs and did some little dances. It was in the morning when school started, and I couldn't be there since I had an exam that started at 9:00. Gaute was there, though, and took pictures!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Final tomorrow

I have a 6-hour English final tomorrow - yikes! Everytime I mention that I have a test in English or a paper due, I get comments like "Oh, that must be easy for you, since it's English". I realize that's true, and I don't have to think so much about the actual language when I'm writing. But I still have to know what I'm writing about! So, basically, the moral of this little story is that I hope I get a good grade on this final, but I don't want it to be taken for granted....

Tonight Anders and the rest of the 4th-graders are performing a musical about the Titanic which they've been working on for the last several months. The 4th-graders last year performed the same play, and I hear it was great. And this year they've added more, so it should be really fun. I'll try to take lots of pictures to post here.

On Saturday we're celebrating Thanksgiving. Since it's not a holiday here, it doesn't seem so strange to be celebrating it so late. I have a group of 4 American friends who are all married to Norwegian men (actually, Janine's husband is British) and we each have 3 kids roughly the same age. We've started celebrating Thanksgiving together the last few years, and it's really a lot of fun. This year we'll be at Karen's house, and all together there will be 9 adults and 15 children!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Finished project :-D

Finally, finally, finally. Last night at 8:00 we finally finished this project we've been working on. My life has been consumed with this for the last 10 days or so, and I am sooo happy to be finished with it. Maybe I can start sleeping again.

This project is for my social studies class. We were supposed to be in a group of 3-4 people and create a presentation for the rest of the class having something to do with garbage/waste/recycling. We decided to do something about plastic and how that is recycled and what they do with it. So far, so good. Another aspect of the project was that they wanted us to use some form of audio visual equipment in the presentation, and we had a short course about film editing, so we decided to make a film. Still not a project which is undoable. But then the whole project just spiraled out of control. One of the people in my group had big plans, and every time we (I) tried to say that maybe we should make things a little easier on ourselves, she wouldn't take no for an answer. The third girl in our group complained when were by ourselves, but wouldn't stand up to the one who had the big plans. We ended up making all of these figures for the film, and doing a ton of editing and it took forever. And we're not even being graded on this project - it's pass/fail!

BUT - now it's done, and, I have to admit, we have learned a lot...We ended up with a 25 minute film. On Monday we're going to present it to the rest of the class.

And then on Friday I have a 6 hour English exam. And then on Monday, 3 days after that, I have an 45 minute oral exam in English where we have to discuss how we would teach a certain topic that we are presented with. And then that Friday I have a 6 page paper due based on this social studies project we just finished. And then it's Christmas vacation!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Way to go, Gaute!

We've had an old ski box lying around for a few years. And after our renter moved out downstairs, we have the oven that he was using to get rid of, too. Yesterday, Gaute put ads for them onto a popular online site. Yesterday, we sold the ski box (for about $55) and just now, he sold the oven for about $75. And the people come here, pick them up, and pay in cash!

Time to start looking around the house for more stuff we can sell...

Poor Anders

Anders is sick today. He threw up in his bed last night, and one time this morning. He's been lying on the sofa, half asleep all day. Poor little guy. The stomach flu has been making its way through his class, so I'm not too surprised, but it's never fun. Hopefully, he'll be feeling better by tomorrow. And, hopefully, the rest of us won't get it (yeah, right...).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Watch this video

My favorite blogger, Dooce, posted a link to this video on her site, and Johan and I just watched it. It is really cool - check it out!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Busy, busy

I haven't had time to write on my blog lately, because I've been working on a group project. It's a project about recycling plastic, and it's interesting, but it's taking way too much time. It's making me crazy!!!

I can't wait for Christmas vacation....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Not much going on today...I don't have any regular classes today, but at 2:00 I have an AV-kurs. It's a course where we get "certified" to use the audio-visual equipment at the college, something we need to do because we're working on a project about recycling which is to culminate in a presentation. We're supposed to be learning about video editing today, which could be interesting. Unfortunately, I've been to similar courses at good old Oslo University College, and my expectations are not high.

I'm going to call soon and make an appointment for Anders and Johan to get their hair cut this evening. They have both been begging me to get their hair cut as it's getting in their eyes and annoying them. And, being the good mom that I am, I only waited about a month before deciding that I would make that appointment.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cabin Weekend

First off - it seems like Annika's husband is doing a lot better now.

We had a fun weekend at the cabin. We were only there for about 24 hours, but it's amazing how it really feels like we've had a mini vacation. I love it up there, especially when the weather was as gorgeous as it was. We haven't had any snow in Oslo yet, but up there there was a bit of snow on the ground. The boys were LOVING it!

Finally got my Sun Valley poster framed and hung up!

Anders' bag that he had packed to take with him. With his climbing rope and tooth fairy pillow.

Snowball fight out on the deck.

The climbing rope came in handy!

First tracks...

Johan wanted to take a picture of me :-)

Back home to dark, foggy Oslo.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Change of plans

Since I'm writing this blog right now, then you probably realize that I'm not on a train on my way to eastern Sweden (although they probably have internet on the train now).

Annika called this morning and said that her husband was really sick last night. He was going to go to the doctor today, and she wasn't sure if she was going to be able to go after all. He wanted her to go anyway, so we went ahead with our plans. We met at the train station a half hour before we the train was supposed to leave. Just then her husband called and said the doctor wanted to admit him to the hospital. She felt like she wanted to stay here to be with him, and I'm glad she did, because it wouldn't have been the same kind of trip if she had been worried about him the whole time. They're worried about him because he's been sick a lot this fall and really rundown and they're thinking the big scary C. But it could be that he just has a bad urine infection. We're keeping our fingers crossed.

So, anyway, now I'm going to go up to the cabin this weekend with Gaute and the boys. We're leaving tomorrow morning, so it'll just be a short trip, but I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Peter Pan

Peter Pan was fantastic last night. It was one of the best productions I have ever seen, with Peter Pan and Wendy flying across the stage. We had such a good time! (And by the way, I think Gaute wants me to mention that when I was in York last year, he took Anders and Johan to the theater!)

I'm off to Sweden tomorrow. I have a Swedish friend, Ulrika, who moved back to Sweden this summer, and another I and another Swedish friend, Annika, are going to visit her this weekend. We're taking the train there - leaving tomorrow afternoon and coming back Sunday evening. She lives south of Stockholm - I think the train ride is about 5-6 hours. I'm really looking forward to it!

Gaute and the boys are headed up to the cabin while I'm gone. It's been snowing up there, and I think the boys are excited about throwing some snowballs around. Here's the link to our webcam up there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14

Today Anders, Johan and I are going to the theater. We're going to see Peter Pan. A whole group of us from Johan's class are going together, so it should be a lot of fun. The production has gotten good reviews, and it's always fun to go see a play. Espen's not going because he has football practice, and Gaute's not going because he'd rather stay home :-). They're not quite as in to the whole theater thing as me and the little guys. Their loss...

Monday, November 12, 2007

The latest on Espen

Gaute took Espen to the hospital on Friday for a checkup with the surgeon who did his operation. And she said everything looked pretty good. He was able to focus his eyes together when looking at things close up, which was the primary goal of the surgery, and he was able to focus them better when looking at things at a distance as well. Still not a hundred percent, but definitely a good result. The only bad news is that she wants us to put this ointment in his eyes at night to keep them lubricated, and Espen refuses to do it, so it's a struggle every night. He is quite a stubborn little guy. It is so much fun....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Almost Molly's birthday

My little sister Molly is turning 22 on Monday, and I'm dedicating this blog entry to her.

Molly was not even 2-years-old when I went away to college, so we've never lived together. Since there is a 16-year age difference, you would think that we didn't have much in common and didn't speak to each other very often. But we do.

Molly spent the summer with us here in Norway, and it was so much fun. We did lots of fun stuff (despite the worst summer weather in 40 years, or something like that), and we all miss having her around. She has been talking a bit about coming back and staying here again next year, and we were all so excited!

I love you and miss you, Molly, and I hope you have a fantastic birthday!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rainy Thursday evening

I was going to go on a walk this evening, but it's pouring rain, so I decided not to. Except I'm thinking that I probably should anyway (isn't that why they invented rain clothes?)...So, I decided to put off the decision and post a new entry to my world-famous blog.

Except, I don't really have much to say, except that it's raining and I'm not walking...

I know, I'll make a plug for my very, very favorite blog of all time - If for some reason any of you have not checked out Dooce yet, then DO IT NOW! It's the first thing I read when I turn on my computer every day.

Now, I'm going to go look for my rain boots.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ut på tur, aldri sur

A common saying in Norwegian is "ut på tur, aldri sur" - roughly translated - out on a hike (skiing, biking, etc.), never sad. For most Norwegians, spending their Sundays out in the forest is an important part of their week. And as good Norwegians (or wannabe Norwegians) we try to adhere to this as often as possible.

This last Sunday, we even got Kari and Grim to go with us. The weather was gorgeous - a nice crisp fall day. We weren't alone out there, but we ended up at a little lake by ourselves. Kari and Grim had taken donuts with them, and I had made shortbread cookies and hot chocolate, so we had a nice little picnic up there.

We went on a hike two weeks ago, also. Unfortunately, we didn't make it out last weekend, because it was pouring rain, and, more importantly, Gaute and I went to a party Saturday night and were pretty tired on Sunday. The week before that, we hiked up to the top of a hill not so far from our house.

Blogger is having some problems right now, so I can't upload the pictures from that day, but I'll try to do it later.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 30th

Tomorrow is Halloween - the big day...

We just finished carving the pumpkin, the seeds are sitting in a bowl soaking, waiting to be roasted and salted tomorrow.

Anders and Johan have their costumes ready to go (an alligator (Johan), and a guy dressed in black with blood all over his face (Anders)). They've each arranged with friends who they can go trick-or-treating with.

Espen is passing on trick-or-treating this year. In addition to the fact that he is way-to-cool for it, he has football practice tomorrow night. I'm going to make sure I have some candy saved for him when he gets home, though.

Friday, October 26, 2007


It's Friday afternoon! And we're going to a party tomorrow night. Some of the parents are arranging a party for the parents of all of the kids who are in 4th grade. More than 70 people will be there. They had the party last year, too, and it was really fun. They rent the football clubhouse which is just up the street, everyone takes food with them, and they hire a dj who plays really cool 80's music ;-). It was a blast last year, so I hope it lives up to our expectations this year, too!

The two little guys are going up to Gaute's parents to spend the night on Saturday, but Espen and his friend Jacob are going to be home alone here. I think they are pretty excited - big plans for frozen pizza, chips, Coke and a DVD...A 12-year-old's dream evening!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Substitute Teacher

Today and tomorrow all of the teachers (and the principal and staff) at Korsvoll school are in London, team-building and attending various courses and such. Thus, they have asked the parents to step in and be the teachers for two days. And, what do you know, somehow I ended up being one of the volunteers in Espen's class...

The two other parents who were there with me today are both researchers, and they wanted to do some type of research. Great, I thought, I'm all over research - not! It worked out really well, though, I have to say. We did various types of research on food, and my group looked into what is in food, and how many calories and grams of fat and stuff like that an average 7th grader eats in the course of a day. They got pretty into it, and it was fun working with them. It makes me excited to have my own class....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still alive

I've been seriously slacking - Facebook has taken priority over my blog lately, but I'm going to try to be a bit better at updating this.

So, what's new? Well, a lot, of course...I spent a week in Glasgow from the 8th to the 16th of October. It was a school trip to learn more about the Industrial Revolution, and for us students to get to know each other better. We had a fun time, although I wasn't terribly impressed with Scotland. Everything was so dirty!

Espen turned 12 on October 1st...

...and he had a new operation on his eye on the 15th. He was a having some trouble reading, which is not surprising, so after consulting with the doctors we decided to try again. It seems like things are a bit better now when he is looking at things close up, which is the most important. I'm not sure if this last operation was the right thing to do, though. The eye which they did the surgery on is still not looking great...We'll see how it turns out.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Look Ma, no tooth

And, finally, Johan lost his first tooth. After much wiggling yesterday, it finally came out right before bed last night. His tooth fairy pillow finally got a tooth in its pocket. And he was pretty excited to head off to school this morning and announce that he, Johan, was now a member of the lost tooth club.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Last night Anders, Johan and I went to the circus. Johan had never been before, and Anders was so little last time that he doesn't remember anything. I think they had a really fun time. Anders was most impressed by the acrobats - when we got home, he gave Gaute a detailed description of everything they had done. Johan thought the elephant was most exciting. He was pretty nervous before the elephant came out, but it wasn't very scary at all!

Both of them managed to eat enough cotton candy that they felt sick to their stomachs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Espen off to camp

Espen left this morning for camp. He and his class (and their poor teacher) will be spending a week at Jotunfjell camp together with two 7th grade classes from other parts of Oslo. They're going to be up in the mountains, and, weather permitting, they're going to climb the highest mountain in Norway.

They were all pretty excited when they left this morning. Espen brought his Macgyver DVD's since there was a TV with a DVD player on the bus ;-).

Yes, that's Espen at the front of the line.