Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is over - in fact 2008 is almost over. It's hard to believe how long a year lasted when I was a kid. Now I blink my eyes and then it's over. We've had a nice Christmas. Santa was very nice to everyone (I'm writing this on my new iPhone). The kids got stuff they needed, like skis and long underwear, and stuff they wanted, like a new Playstation 3.

For the next week or so, they'll be using the outdoorsy stuff more than the electronic stuff, because we're headed up to our NO PC/NO PLAYSTATION zone - the cabin. I can't wait. we'll be up there for about a week and when we're up there we really relax. And I love our New Year's Eve tradition of eating fondue by candlelight when it's cold and snowy outside.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Some pictures I finally uploaded to the computer

I haven't been taking many pictures this fall (see earlier blog entries for an explanation of this...), but I finally got around to uploading the pictures I did take. These ones are from the beginning of September, at a lake not far from our house. Every year they have what they call "Outdoor Day", where all kinds of different organizations having to do with outdoor activities show up and let kids take part in their stuff. And it's all free. So they have a free climbing wall, free kayaks and canoes to borrow, a short orienteering race, and lots of other info. and activities. Oh, and a free breakfast (bread and different kinds of spreads) as well as having bonfires set up with free hot dogs to grill as well as "cowboy coffee". It's really fun, and we've been going there ever since they started about 5 or 6 years ago. More and more people are finding out about it, and it gets more crowded every year. This year, the weather was pretty bad, and we got their early, so we had the place to our selves. We stayed for about an hour, and then we rode our bikes from there into the forest. It was a nice day - even if it was freezing cold!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I don't have time to write much, but I just have to write a few lines about how happy I am that Obama won the election. I was really getting nervous the last few days, afraid that McCain would end up pulling it off in the end.

It was night here in Norway when they were tallying up the votes, and by the time they finally called a winner, it was about 4 or 5 in the morning here. I didn't stay up - but the amazing thing is that a lot of people in Norway did! I don't think most Americans really realize how interested and concerned people in other countries are about who is president of the United States. The decisions Americans make at the voting booths have huge impacts on the lives of people all over the world. People are so fed up with George Bush, that the thought that American's could actually vote for a candidate from the same party as him was unthinkable. I'm not sure if I would have been able to show my face at work today if Obama hadn't won.

But - he did win! And all day long, people have been coming up to me and congratulating me and giving me hugs. One woman I work with was going to buy a bottle of champagne on her way home from work and celebrate Obama's victory with her family. My little 2nd graders were coming up to me this morning and telling me that they knew that the U.S. was going to have a new president. This is really big stuff around here, too!!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Espen - the working man

On Thursday, junior high and high school students in Norway got some work experience and made some money for a good cause at the same time. It was Operation Dayswork, and they were making money to help poor kids in Bangladesh. Everyone had to find a job for the day where they could make at least 200 kroner (about 30 dollars). Some kids took the easy way out and worked for their parents, but Espen and two of his friends went to a hotel not far from our house and asked if they could work there for the day. They said yes (apparently they've had students from Espen's school there before) and told them to show up at 9:30 in the morning wearing black dress pants and shoes and an "ironable" shirt. Espen was pretty excited, and we went out and bought him some new clothes to wear.

He and his friends worked hard all day, changing sheets and moving boxes around and stuff like that. They got free breakfast and lunch and made money for the project, and they couldn't have been more pleased when they got home. We were proud of them!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The doorbell just rang, and when I opened the door it was the delivery man with my weekly basket of organic fruits and vegetables. About a month ago, I started subscribing and now I get a new batch of in-season fruits and vegetables every week. I love it!! I always have a good, fresh variety in the house, and plan meals based upon what they deliver each week. And sometimes they deliver stuff I wouldn't normally buy, but that's fun, too. A few weeks ago, the basket included five beets, something which I never buy. But I found a great recipe for a beet soup - and I had enough left over for my lunch the next day. It's so exciting each week to see what I get. Today it was clementines, apples, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, leeks, potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. Lots of yummy stuff!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I don't really even want to check to see how long it's been since I last posted on this blog, but I know it's been way too long. Ever since school started in August, my life has been turned completely upside down and finding time to sit down and write in front of the computer has been hard.

Things are calming down a bit now, though. During these last couple of weeks, I've actually started feeling like I might have a life again. It's just a busier life than I was used to.

Work has been going really well lately. It's taking time to figure out how things work and how I want my role as a teacher to be, but I'm starting to feel like a "real" teacher these days, which is definitely a good sign! We had a party at work last night to inaugurate out new teacher's lounge. It was a lot of fun. We had a music quiz, and my team won by a huge margin, so I was pretty psyched about that. Nothing like winning!!

Gaute has still been travelling a lot. He was in Germany all this week and in London the week before. It's been tough, for him and for the rest of us, to have him gone so much, and it feels kind of luxurious to have him back again. He'll be here all of next week, which will be really nice.

The boys are doing really well. Football season is over for Anders and Johan, and now they've started cross-country ski team. No, we don't have snow yet, but they have dry-land training for now. They both really like it a lot - lots of their friends are there, too.

Espen's official football season is over, but they still have practice three evenings a week. He's gotten to be a really good footballer, and has been voted MVP several times.

I haven't taken any pictures for ever, either, but I'm going to try to get back on track...But for now, it's Saturday, the one day I have for shopping, so I'm off to buy some paint so that we have it here for the day we finally decide to paint the living room.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tessy's getting married!

Still not much time to write, but I had to say something about the fact that my oldest little sister (she's 26 now) is engaged! Ryan asked her to marry him - and she said yes! I am so exicted for her/them. Ryan is a wonderful guy, and the two of them are a great couple. They're planning a fall wedding - can't wait!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crazy, crazy

I don't know if there is anyone still out there checking my blog these days. I never have time to update it anymore, because my life has become pretty crazy. Work has actually been going pretty well, and my days are relatively short. Gaute started a new job the same day as me, though, and now in the beginning, his job involves a lot of travel. He's been more or less gone for 3 of the last 4 weeks. I've gone from being a student with a husband in a very flexible job, to working fulltime with a husband who is gone all of the time. BIG CHANGE!! Add to that the fact that Espen is fully embracing the teenager status he will have in another couple of weeks, and doing everything he can to get in trouble, and you end up with a Jill who is just trying to hang in there....

No time to write more now, just wanted everyone to know that I'm alive, and that I rarely answer my e-mails these days...Don't take it personally!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coming up for air

This afternoon is the first time in a long while where I've actually had some time to sit down and think a little bit. Things have been quite hectic. My days at school rush by and before I know it, it's 4 o'clock and it's time to go home. I feel at times like I'm barely keeping my head above water, trying to figure out everything. I knew it would be rought, and it is...but it gets better all the time. I teach different subjects in 6 different classes all together, and it's hard to keep track of where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. I have great colleagues, though! Last week I had one day that was crazy, with a couple of kids who were pretty out of control. I went back to my office at the end of the day and broke down in tears. The other teachers who share my office were so great, though, and gave me so much support. I'm really glad that I chose to work at Ekeberg!

The kids have had lots of football games lately, and this weekend Gaute and Espen drove down for an overnight tournament south of Oslo, while Anders and Johan had a tournament here at Korsvoll. So much going on all of the time!! August and September are always crazy, though... It's hard to get back into the swing of things after summer vacation.

Last week we had another thunderstorm, and once again our WIFI router was destroyed by lightning. We ordered a new one the day after, but we didn't actually get it until yesterday. Not having internet at home is such a handicap! Even though I have my own computer at work, I don't have time to sit down there and update my blog or check Facebook or my e-mail. I feel such relief that I'm online again. Hopefully we won't have any more lightning storms!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

School starts tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first day of school. Espen will be starting his first year of junior high (8th grade), Anders will be in 5th grade and Johan in 3rd grade. And I will be a teacher... I think we're all pretty excited about tomorrow. The kids have their backpacks all ready to go and their outfits picked out for tomorrow. I don't have my outfit picked out yet, but that's next on my list after updating my blog! I don't feel stressed at all right now, Sunday evening at 7 pm. All summer I've been thinking that I would be totally freaking out the night before school started, but I feel very calm and collected. At this point I'm really happy that I'm just an "extra" teacher and not the main teacher for any classes. Much less stress...

What will be strange is working full-time, though. Next week it's going to be pretty crazy around here, I think. Gaute was gone all last week, and now he found out that he has to go up to northern Sweden early tomorrow morning, and he will be there until Friday afternoon. Which means that I will be home alone with the kids - and all the 3 football games and 5 football practices they will be going to in the evenings. I think we've got it all worked out, though, so everything should go pretty well. The only thing that kind of sucks is that I have to leave about an hour before the kids tomorrow morning on the first day of school. They're not worried about it all, though, so I'm sure everything will go fine. The kids think it's pretty exciting that I've started working now and that Gaute has a "real" job where he has to go on business trips and stuff. Friday night, Anders announced that he'd changed his mind and instead of being a waiter (!), he wanted to be a businessman like Pappa.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The first week is over

My first week as a teacher is over. School hasn't actually started yet, but I've spent the past week planning and getting everything ready for the coming school year. Everything has gone pretty well, but I'm pretty worn out - lots of new people and new things to think about.

I now know a bit more about what I will be doing this year. My main job will be a "resource" teacher, as they call it, in the 2nd grade. I will go in to the classrooms and be and extra teacher who can help kids who need extra help and take them out of the classroom and give them one-on-one lessons if they need it. In addition, I will be teaching English in two of the 2nd grade classes as well as Social Studies in one of them. I will also be teaching English in two 4th grade classes and a special in-depth English class for 7th graders. I will have a lot of different kids I will be working with, but the good thing is that I don't have too much planning of my own classes - only a few hours a week.

I think it will actually work out pretty well. I won't have my "own" class, but I also won't have a lot of the work that those teachers have. There's another teacher on the 2nd grade "team" who has the same type of position as me, so we can exchange ideas and help each other out, too. Team-teaching is the key word in Norway, so the 6 of us who have 2nd grade have our offices together in one room and plan everything together, which is great for me as a 1st year teacher.

I am pretty worn out after this week, but I'm really excited to meet the kids on Monday!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The company Gaute will be working for... this one.

Work starts tomorrow

Tomorrow is my first official day of work. School doesn't actually start until the 18th, though, so I still have a week before the true test begins. Tomorrow morning, I'm supposed to meet up at the school with the rest of the staff to board a bus which will take us to Thorbjørnrud Hotel in Jevnaker, about an hour north of Oslo. There we will take part in seminars on teambuilding, classroom leadership and teaching reading. We'll be spending the night up there and will be back in Oslo at about 3 PM on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it - I think it will be a fun way to get to know everyone. Plus - who knows - maybe I'll learn something at the seminars!

Gaute is headed off tomorrow morning, too. He's flying to Stockholm, where he will be all week, learning the ropes at the head office of the company he will be working at. Yes, Gaute has a new job, too. While I was off in sunny/smoky California, he was gettin' himself a new job! (That was one more thing we were celebrating at the big dinner a few days ago.) Gaute just went out running, and I can't remember the name of the company, but when I find out, I'll post a link to their website. I know that it's a French company (their "main" head office is in Paris), and Stockholm is the head of their Scandinavian division. They're just starting out in Norway, and Gaute and one other guy will be in charge of getting things up and going here. I'm actually not really sure what he will be doing, but it's along the same lines as what he has been doing (whatever that is ;-)).

The kids will be up in Ørsta all week, and Gaute will be in Stockholm, which means that I will have the house to myself all week! I haven't been alone here at home for that long for many, many years. And I have to say that it doesn't sound bad at all...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Day Seven

Today, our last day, we didn't really have any plans, because I wasn't really sure what we'd be in the mood for. Johan really wanted to see the Mona Lisa, though, so we thought we'd head over to the Louvre. But, alas, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays :-( We did get a picture outside of the cool pyramid, though.

We ended up spending most of the day just wondering around the streets, looking in shops, which was actually a nice way to spend the day. It had been an intense week!

In the afternoon we headed back to the apartment to pack and get everything organized since our plane was leaving early in the morning. Then in the evening we found a nice outdoor cafe where we had a great dinner.

Then after dinner, we headed over to the Pont Neuf where we had a good view of the Eiffel Tower. At 10:00 every night, the whole tower sparkles with white lights for 10 minutes before they turn on the blue lights. It was so cool to see!! The weather was gorgeous and it was a perfect ending to our vacation.

Day Six

Disneyland! That's where we were today. It was a bit smaller than Disneyland in California - and far as I was concerned, that was a good thing. Shorter lines and the possibility of actually going on all of the rides we wanted to.

We took the train out there...

And we took a couple of trips on "It's a Small World" - and they were singing in French!!

Gaute and Johan went on this ride while the older kids and I were on Space Mountain. Space Mountain was much more fun when I was younger...Anders and Espen loved it, though.

The picture the automatic camera took of us on Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Day Five

Sunday was Tour de France day! The final is in Paris, and we were there on rue de Rivoli for many hours waiting... It was actually pretty exciting, but we probably got there a bit earlier than we needed to. It was pretty hot that day! But, the kids got these cool free things...

And finally - they were there!! And they made 10 rounds in Paris, so we got to see them ride by several times. And it was really exciting, because the whole thing was accompanied by tons of cars driving before and after the riders, and helicopters in the air.

Afterwards, we ate dinner at Hard Rock Cafe - and I think this picture does a good job of showing how worn out we were...

Day Four

On day four, we hopped on a train and headed out to Versailles. It had been raining during the night and early morning, but pretty nice by the time we got up and going. Due to the huge crowds (again), we decided not to go into the actual chateau and focus on the enormous gardens instead. We discovered a little tourist train/bus thing and decided to hop on that since we were all pretty worn out from the two days before. That ended up being a great idea, because it took us way back to the other end of the park, where we never would have ended up on our own. Much less people there, and really interesting stuff. The gardens were incredible.

It also took us to Marie Antoinette's house, a mini-castle which we walked though. The fascinating part, though, was walking through the gardens she had had made behind her house, which included all kinds of paths and ponds.

A grotto...

And an entire idealized farm village - it was like Disneyland!

With some hungry fish!

Day Three

Day three started with a trip to the Catacombs, a series of underground tunnels into which they moved bodies from the overfilled cemteries of Paris in the 18th century. Another long line, but hey, this was Paris in the middle of summer... We made our way down many, many stairs and ended up 25 meters (82 feet) under the streets of Paris. If one were so inclined, freaking out would be very easy... It was pretty dark and narrow down there, although it did get better after a while. It was actually incredible interesting. The area was originally a quarry, and the first part of the walk was looking at remnants of the quarry, before we came upon the skeletons. Thousands of skeletons, stacked neatly on top of each other!

After our trip down into the depths, we decided to go for something different and headed over to the Eiffel Tower. More stairs, as we walked up to the second level. I was pretty worn out after all of the stairs and bike riding we had done in the last day!!

When we got back down, Espen was hungry, and he got the world's biggest hotdog - served in a baguette! I don't have any pictures of them, but Anders and Johan lived on crepes with sugar on them the whole time we were in Paris. They serve them everyone, and the kids were in 7th heaven!

We rounded off the day at a touristy pizza restaurant on the Champs Elysée, right by the Arc de Triomphe!

Day Two

While Gaute and Espen slept, Johan and Anders and I went out in the morning to pick up some breakfast stuff. The apartment we rented was just one block away from the rue Mouffetard, a well-known market street on the Left Bank. Lots of good bakeries and cheese shops and stuff like that. Our first stop was a bakery to pick up a couple of baguettes. Anders and Johan insisted that I take pictures of each of them with the "long breads".

Later, after the sleepy-heads woke up, we walked up to Notre Dame.

After walking around a bit inside, we went out to wait in the long line to climb up into the towers. Luckily, there was free entertainment in a street artist wearing a wig who would go "scaring" people to the great enjoyment of all of us tourists waiting in line. Anders and Johan thought it was fantastic.

It was a long wait and then A LOT of stairs up to the top, but the view from the top of Notre Dame was incredible. Totally worth it!

After Notre Dame, we met up with the group for our biking tour of Paris. Another great choice. They ended up dividing us into two different groups, so our family got a private tour of Paris. Riding bikes, we got to check lots of areas that we would have never seen on a bus. The weather was gorgeous, and it was fun riding around. The tour was 3 1/2 hours long - fine for the older boys, but I think it was a good thing that Gaute and Johan shared a tandem bike. The shot below is of the boys with our American guide, Christian.

Since we had kids with us, our guide took us by a shop which was immortalized in the movie Ratatouille. It was a shop selling rat poison, and they had lots of dead rats hanging in the windows. The kids thought that was pretty cool, especially since they'd seen the cartoon version of it in the movie.