Friday, February 27, 2009


I woke up feeling pretty sick this morning (I got Espen's cold), and was kind of going back and forth trying to decide whether or not I should stay home. I finally decided to call in and say I wasn't going to be going in today. I feel kind of bad - I have English with my two 4th grade classes today, and I was at a seminar last time we had English. They don't get quite the same experience when they have a substitute...But, they'll probably be happy that I'm not there contaminating them!

I'v been trying to get some stuff done on the computer (as long as I'm home sick anyway...). Deleting files that aren't getting used and making backup copies of things. My computer has started crashing every now and then, and it's making me nervous.

I did take a break to watch the men's cross country ski relay. The world championships are going on right now, and the relay is a big thing in these parts! It was exciting until the very end - and Norway won!! I cried when they won, because it was such a great, exciting win!! You can watch the final sprint here. (p.s. - It seems like there's a problem with the link, but if you click on the link and then click on Norge tok gullet - se innspurten her on the left hand side there, then the video should pop up!)

I feel so proud of Norway - It almost makes me want to give up my American citizenship!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Busy week

This week has been a bit on the crazy side. It started out well - I had the whole afternoon off on Monday, and then had a nice relaxing evening with friends that night. But Gaute is in Stockholm this whole week, and it doesn't take much to throw us off kilter. I had a seminar I had to go to on Tuesday which didn't get done until 6, and Espen was home sick that day. When I got home at about 6:30, I was worn out and the kids were tired and hungry, and Espen was sick and sad because he had been home by himself all day, so I was not feeling very good about the way things were going. Yesterday was a new day, though, and although was home sick again, I was home by a little after 4 and we had a nice relaxing evening, and life seems much better now.

And tomorrow is Friday! (And Gaute is coming home...)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to the orthoptist today

I haven't written anything about Espen's eyes for a long time, mostly because everything seemed to be all better. Last year around this time, he had a final checkup with the orthoptist. At that time, everything seemed to be about as good as could be expected. He was no longer seeing double, and his eyes were close to normal.

In December, Espen told us that starting in about September or so, he had been seeing double again. Not all of the time - he usually manages to converge his vision so he only sees one image, but several times every day, he couldn't do it. He told us that he wanted us to make an appointment with the hospital again to have them check it out.

We did call them and got an appointment for today. The orthoptist who had been seeing him all along has retired within the last year, so there was a new one, but she seemed to know all about Espen and his case history. While we were there, Espen was not seeing double (of course...), but she did all of the tests and said that his eyes actually seem somewhat better than when they had done the same tests a year ago (at which time he was not seeing double either). She is not sure (surprise, surprise) why this has started up again, but wants the opthamologist who operated on him to see him and give here opinion. So, on March 25th, we have a new appointment with the opthamologist and then in 6 months we'll go back to the orthoptist. I'm very happy that he's back in the system at least so that they will keep track of him and see how things are going. I don't want him to have any more surgery, but I want to make sure that they do all they can to make his vision as good as possible!

Gaute is in Stockholm this week - he left early this morning and will be back Friday afternoon. Since I had to take Espen to the doctor, I left work early. His appointment was at 12 and we were done by 1, so I've had the whole afternoon off. So nice!! It's a nice sunny day, and Espen and I did some grocery shopping and then stopped by school to pick up Johan. Johan was so happy, because I never pick him up at school anymore...Anders just got home from school with a friend in tow, so now they're hard at "work" on the Playstation.

This evening, my friends Annika and Maria are coming over for dinner and a chat. We always have a little get together to celebrate each other's birthdays. Annika's birthday was on January 16th, and we haven't been able to get together before now. I bought some good crusty sourdough bread and I'm going to make a vegetable soup to go with it. We usually go out somewhere when we meet, but it will be fun to have them over here today.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Long weekend at the cabin

Another winter vacation at the cabin - this time only for a long weekend, though, since the first part of the vacation was our cruise. We ended up heading up Thursday evening, as Johan felt better and we wanted to get up there. We've gotten a lot of snow lately, so the conditions were great, although we didn't see much sun. Still, we got in some skiing on Friday and Saturday, and otherwise relaxed and enjoyed ourselves up there.

Sunday morning cartoons

The cool structure Espen built with the blocks we have up there - he wanted to take a picture of it. He's getting pretty old - but not sooo old yet...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Stomach flu and a bit more

We were supposed to leave for the cabin today, but Johan has the stomach flu, so the trip has been postponed. Poor little guy - he's asleep on the sofa right now. Hopefully this will be a short term thing, and he'll be feeling better by tomorrow. Tomorrow is Gaute's birthday, and I know that he'd like to spend it at the cabin!

This morning, Anders, Gaute and I headed down to the American embassy to get Anders' passport renewed. We got there right when they opened at 9, so everything went quite smoothly and quickly. In 3 weeks, we should be getting the new passport in the mail. While we were at the embassy, I realized that the stamp I need to get in my passport every two years to prove that I am allowed to live in Norway was going to expire in a few months. So, we decided to stop by the office where I need to get a new stamp. It's always really crazy there, but I would prefer not to take time off work to get it done. We walked in and took a number - we were number 127 and they had gotten to number 54! So, two hours later, they finally got to me, and spent 5 minutes putting a new stamp in my passport... It is the most frustrating, annoying thing!! Always a super long line of people, no matter when you go there!

After that, it was off to the next item on our agenda for the day - signing the contract for the new apartment we bought! I don't think I ever wrote about it on my blog, but last fall we bought a studio apartment nearby as an investment. We have been renting it out and making a bit on it. Gaute has now been really bitten by the real estate mogul bug, so he's been on the lookout for another apartment to invest in, and he finally found a good one. It's a one bedroom, brand new (actually not finished yet) apartment, also within walking distance of our house. It's really nice, with the living room a wall of windows. The price was reduced as we are going to have to paint it and set in the kitchen ourselves, but it will be a good money maker. And we also have in the back of our minds, that our kids might want a place to live when they move out sometime in the future. The pictures below are from the brochure - the apartment we bought isn't furnished, but it has the exact same floorplan as this one.

The apartment is in the tall building in the middle of the picture. Great location, as you can see. That's a big lake on the left hand side, and there are ski tracks starting right next to the building. We live about a 10-15 minute walk away.

This is a drawing of what it will look like - it's close but not quite done yet.

Looking from the kitchen into the entry and bathroom.

The kitchen (with a loft above it which can be used for sleeping or storage)

Looking from the living room towards the kitchen

Looking out towards the balcony. One of the windows is actually a sliding glass door.

The bedroom - it's a tight squeeze, but there are sliding doors into the living room on each side of the bed, so you don't have to climb over each other to get in and out of bed.

The bathroom

The only bad thing about this apartment, is that it is so nice compared to our house, that I wish we were moving in to it ourselves. Would be a tight squeeze for a family of 5, though!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cruise pictures - day two (and one from day three)

The view from our cabin at 8 in the morning

Breakfast with an incredible view

Now and then it was nice to take a little break back at the cabin

The sun was in their eyes, but you get the idea...this is Kiel, Germany

The harbor area - our ship is on the right hand side

Yippee!!! They had vanilla Coke in Germany!

The weather was so nice in Kiel compared to what it had been in Oslo when we left (that's our ship, Color Magic, in the background)

Waiting to see the show the second night - this time we got the fancy drinks :^)

All settled in for the night

Back in Norway again the next day - an icy fjord...

The cruise pictures - day one

We got back today from our cruise. It was great! We had such a good time!! Everything was really nice on board - and family-friendly... The boys each had their own key card and they just wandered around the boat, riding up and down the 8 glass elevators (along with all of the other kids on board). They had a different show in the lounge each night, and they were great - lots of great singing and dancing. There's was also an indoor pool with a slide and a "river" and "waterfall". The cabin was very nice, the food was very good, the tax-free shops on board were okay, and Kiel was so-so. That's the short version of our trip since I have to finish getting ready for our next venture. We're headed up to our cabin for the last part of this winter vacation week, and I still have a few things to get done. Before we leave tomorrow, we have to make a trip to the American embassy to get a new passport for Anders, too. He doesn't need it until this summer, but the Americans require both parents to be present, and the embassy is only open between 9-12. If we don't do it during vacation, we have to take time off of work and take Anders out of school to get it done!

Here are some pics from our trip:

Waiting to board the ship

Our cabin

Not the greatest weather in Oslo when we left - snowy, windy and COLD!

Not too cold to go out on deck and look around, though.

This is the TV in our cabin. We could also see a map - or watch Norwegian TV channels.

Anders' bed flipped down from the ceiling - very cool!


Waiting for the show in the lounge the first night.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Today is the day - we're headed off on our cruise on Color Magic. The kids are so excited they can hardly stand it. The ship leaves Oslo at 2 pm - it's 9.45 right now and they keep asking if we can leave now. Since it only takes about an hour to get to the boat using public transportation, I'm trying to explain to them that we can probably wait here for at least another hour. No reason to get there 4 hours before it leaves, since we can't actually go onboard until an hour before it leaves.

I'm taking my camera, so I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post when we get back. And I'm sure the boys will have a great time!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Yes, it's Valentine's day. But, even more importantly, it's the first day of winter vacation. All of the schools have a week's vacation, and since I am a teacher, then I get a week's vacation, too. Not a bad deal! I feel like Christmas vacation just ended, actually, so it's hard to believe that we have another vacation already. And not so many weeks until Easter vacation, either...

The weather is absolutely gorgeous, cold and sunny with lots of snow. Anders and Gaute went out skiing, but the other boys and I have been hanging out here at the house. Espen has a football game (indoor) this afternoon, and Johan has a friend over. I've been catching up on my netsurfing and making various Valentine's treats. So nice to have some spare time. The weather is supposed to be just as nice tomorrow, so I think we'll all head out for a long cross country ski trip tomorrow. Grim and Kari have invited us to dinner, so I won't even have to think about making dinner when we get home!

On Monday the boys and I are headed to Germany on the "cruise" ship. We're all pretty excited, but Anders and Johan are especially excited. Hope they're not disappointed...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Up early

I woke up way too early this morning - about 4 am. Instead of just lying in bed, I decided to get up and get going. It's now 4:30 and I feel pretty good - showered and dressed and ready to meet the day. I have a lot of little projects that need to get done at home and at school, and I think that's what woke me (and kept me up) this morning, so I figured it was just as well to get going on the day.

Espen and I had a great time in London. The trip was what it hoped I would be - a bonding experience for Espen and me. The tour of Wembley on Saturday was great - 90 minutes of heaven for Espen. After that we did a bit of shopping. We stopped first at a department store, Debenhams, where we picked up 2 pair of Levis and a swimsuit for Espen. He is growing out of his clothes like crazy, and they now have swimming in gym class once a week. He told me that his swimsuit had shrunk, but I'm pretty sure that he has grown ;-) We also stopped by two of my favorite shops, Monsoon and the Gap, where I also got some jeans and a sweater. Then Espen's quest for the perfect speakers began. He has been talking constantly about getting new speakers that he can hook up to his laptop - preferrably with a subwoofer (he's very into subwoofers these days). So we searched London high and low for some good speakers that he could afford and that he could fit into his (small) suitcase. (Things like that are about 30% cheaper in London.) Finally, we found some - yippee!!

By that time we were both pretty worn out, so we headed back to the hotel. Espen tested out his new speakers with his iPod (incredibly good, sooo much better than the old ones. That subwoofer was just incredible....hehehe.) After a short rest, we walked over to the London Eye. We got our tickets and waited in line. When we got to the security check (there's always a security check...), one of the security guys saw the Liverpool hat Espen had glued to his head and gave him a high five and said something like "Liverpool, cool...". Then he said that since Espen was a Liverpool fan, we could go directly into the Fastrak lane. Espen had a pretty big smile on his face at that point.

After seeing the lights of London from up high, we walked back to the Pizza Express restaurant right behind our hotel. Yummy Italian style pizza and tiramisu for dessert.

On Sunday, we slept in a little bit more, but still got up pretty early by Espen's standards. We went downstairs and had a nice breakfast at the hotel, where Espen got a cup of the world's best hot chocolate for the second morning in a row. Then we headed out to get on the a double decker hop on/hop off sightseeing bus. I thought it would be good for him to see some of the sights, and since we didn't have too much time that would be a good way to do it. In hindsight, it wasn't such a great idea. Hop on/hop off is great if you're planning on hopping on and off, but if you just want to get a guided tour, then it's annoying to have the bus stopping all of the time. We would have been better off just picking something we wanted to do and spending some time there. But, whatever, Espen got to see the sights.

Espen was dying to get to the airport early because he had heard that the new terminal 5 there had so much great shopping. So, after the bus tour, we checked out of our hotel, took a cab to Paddington Station and took the Heathrow Express train to the airport. We got there 3 hours before our plane was to leave, and Espen realized that he wasn't actually all that interested in the stores at the airport - he rarely buys anything from Prada or Chanel or any of the designers... But, he did manage to spend his last pounds on some new headphones for his iPod and we managed to spend some money on food, so all was not lost.

We were tired when we got home, but we had a great time!

Aaahhh, Wembley Stadium...

In the English national team's dressing room, in front of Steven Gerrard's jersey (Liverpool's captain)

A cool pic Espen took of the London Eye

Saturday, February 07, 2009

In London on Mom's birthday

This title makes it sound like my mom is with me, but, unfortunately, she's not. Maybe next time....We're thinking about Mom, though.

Espen is with me - and I think it's so far so good as far as he is concerned. We haven't done much more than take the train and tube from the airport to the hotel, but he thinks the hotel is pretty cool. I used my favorite website TripAdvisor to find a great hotel. Relatively inexpensive by London standards, 10 minute walk to Big Ben and the London Eye, and an iMac in each room. The room is nice, new, modern and clean and perfect for Espen and me. We got to the hotel so late last night that we decided to eat at the hotel lounge instead of going out. It was this hip, modern place with low sofas and cool lighting. Espen's face really lit up when he saw that they had Bose speakers. :-D

Today we're off to Wembley Stadium for a guided tour. We have a tour reserved for 10 am, and it takes about 45 minutes to get there, so I booked a 7 am wake up call to be sure we wouldn't be rushed and had time for breakfast. I woke up this morning and looked at my iPhone and saw that it was 7:05 and got pretty annoyed with the hotel since they didn't wake us. But - I got up and took a shower and put on makeup and everything and went back into to the room to wake Espen. That's when I realized that I forgot to change the time on my iPhone. It was still on Oslo time which is an hour ahead...So, Espen gets to sleep for an extra hour, and I'm sitting here on the computer waiting for my 7 am wake up call.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

London tomorrow...

Tomorrow Espen and I are headed off to London...hopefully. They have been getting a lot of snow there, and I just checked the weather forecast, and it's calling for 8 inches of snow tomorrow, and they're expecting snow on Saturday, too. I have nothing against snow, but I'm not such a big fan of it in London. Lots of snow tomorrow means that there is a good chance that our flight will be cancelled or delayed tomorrow afternoon...And regardless, it's not so much fun walking around town in the snow. But - I'm sure it will work out okay. We'll have a good time regardless, right?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow in London

Just our luck - London has been hit by a snowstorm and apparently it's chaos there - cancelled flights and slippery streets. According to the paper this morning, it's supposed to get worse before it gets better. I HOPE everything is back to normal again by Friday!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday evening

Tonight is quite å rarity - nothing going on! No football practice or ski team or parents' meetings. Just an evening to hang out. Gaute and Johan and I are in the living room. Johan's doing his math homework, Gaute's reading the newspaper, and I'm pecking away at my iPhone. Anders and Espen are playing FIFA 09 on the Playstation 3. We had spaghetti, salad and garlic bread for dinner - a perennial favorite. Life is good right now :-)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Back in the saddle

I really want to try to start updating my blog again. It's fun to keep everyone else informed about what's going on around here, but, even more important, it's nice to have as a journal of our life. It's so much fun looking back at the pictures and reading about what we've done. So - here's to a fresh start!

I've spent the last few hours online, making reservations for our trip to the states this summer. We're going to California first, then heading over to Salt Lake, then Zion's and Bryce, before we finally make it down to San Diego. It's always such a relief to finally make up my mind for which dates and which flights are best and then make the reservation! This year, the kids and I are flying into San Francisco on the 23rd of June, a few days after the last day of school. Gaute will join us in Foresthill on July 2nd (just in time for Granny's fun 3rd of July party). Then sometime around the middle of July (not quite sure of the dates) we'll head out to Utah and then down to San Diego where we'll spend about 4 days before flying back home on the July 31. Should be a fun trip - we're all so excited!! It always amazes Gaute and me how excited the kids are for our trips to California. They talk about it all year long - definitely the highlight of their year!!

I also bought tickets today for a little mini-cruise to Kiel, Germany for February 16th. They have a relatively new car ferry which is basically like a cruise ship which travels between Oslo and Kiel, and the kids (and their mom ;-)) have been wanting to take a trip. Prices were pretty low right now, so I made a reservation for the week of winter vacation. Gaute has to work, so it will just be me and the kids, which is probably just as well, as I don't think it's exactly Gaute's dream vacation. We leave on Monday at two in the afternoon and arrive in Kiel at 10 the next morning. Then we have 4 hours to wander around there before we leave for Oslo again, arriving home at 10 in the morning on Wednesday. The kids cannot wait!!

This Friday, Espen and I are headed to London (love that travelling...). Just a little weekend trip, from Friday evening until Sunday evening, but I think we'll have a fun time. I've booked a guided tour of Wembley Stadium, where the English national soccer team plays their games, and he's pretty psyched about that...

Hmmm, when I read what I've written, it's nothing more than a list of all of the trips I'm going on. But I guess that's what's on my mind right now... Still have one more reservation to make soon - tickets to California at the end of September for Tess' wedding...

Now, it's 4 o'clock on Sunday evening, and I haven't even thought about what to make for dinner...Time to get started on that! (And only an hour until an important soccer game - Liverpool vs. Chelsea...)