Friday, August 26, 2005

The kids

Here they are, our generally well behaved children...

Lars is growing to be our handsome dude and he has the sweetest laugh when we nuzzle him under his chin.

He is well in to his vegetables now - his favorite is sweet potato and apple mixed, much like his sister's was.

Cecilie is quite the lady (when she is not Bombaloo. Yes, we're getting a bit fed up with her being two...).

Here she is as Queen Esther with her friend Conrad (Grandma was teaching Sunday School and things were very creative. Torbjorn played the part of all the other maidens parading before King Ahazuerus ...)

She has acquired an appreciation for the good things in life - ever since Uncle Carl painted her toe nails at the beach in May, this has been a very important ritual. Flamingo pink toenails: the nadir of my mothering career thus far.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Progress Report

I felt somewhat omnipotent having 15 people running through the house doing my bidding yesterday as the A/C installation is getting underway. I suppose that having the contractors in heralds the beginning of the end. Now, how much time exactly they need to finish for us to move in is up in the air, Kirsten is adamant it will be Thanksgiving, I thought Cecilie's birthday, but am fine with Halloween.

Well, the demolition of the kitchen walls is complete, only the supporting columns left and hopefully next week they will start working on getting the beam up to open the space completely. It'll be great! Then the plumber and electrician needs to come out before the flooring and kitchen cabinets can go in and we can start finishing it off. Oh, it will be a while yet, but it will be fun.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Air and Space and such...

Had sole duty for the children a couple of weeks back and we took the opportunity to go downtown to the Air and Space Museum.

It was fun, Cecilie's favorite was the Cessna she could sit in and "pilot" herself (she went to farmor's house more than a couple of times) and the Old DC-9 that you can walk through (although I suspect running down the ramp at the tail-end was probably more exciting than the actual display itself.

We left the camera at home, which was probably a good thing as looking after two kids is actually more than a handful in it self. However the museum was good enough to have a photo-booth where we could take thematically correct pictures - getting Cecilie in the parachute suit and flying was NOTHING compared to the prep to get Lars into orbit.

Anyways, what's done is done and what's eaten is eaten (to paraphrase that literary giant Thorbjorn Egner), and here are the pictures to prove it...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Election time

As a good Norwegian I might even vote this year, provided we make it to the embassy in time, of course (Larsbars needs a passport, so birds and stone comes to mind - or flies and swatter, if indeed you are Norwegian...

I did my aunts paper's "electomat" (you put in what you think about things, and they tell you what party most closely reflects your 'values') - yes, it requires interest in Norwegian voter's issues and a slight command of the Norwegian language), at first I came out Hoyre - conservative liberal (must sound like an oxymoron to most non Norwegians). Interestingly, by shifting my responses from "a little bit important" to "very important" on a couple of issues I came out Venstre - Center Liberal.

The conclusion seems to be that if you feel stronger about something you turn more moderate. I believe this would be referred to as "Swedish logic" in an academic setting, or maybe "biased", if not just "junk". It would be worth mentioning to the uninitiated that Aftenposten is indeed a conservative liberal newspaper, whos editorial team might be sparklingly unbiased, but the guy with the logarithms might be on the shady side of geekdom.

These last paragraphs are mainly used to make sure I can fit all the main political parties' logos along the margin, neat isn't it?

It also gives me an opportunity to repeat one of the wisest things (MAYBE) I ever heard about English v. American homes. "You get the same thing for your money, it's just bigger in America". Well Simon, it kind of makes sense, we have a bigger house for the same money. I suppose our expectations has made it 'the same thing for our money', but I find it interesting that our dining/living room in Sonning was the size of our master bedroom now, and that Lars would have had to sleep in our cupboard had we still lived in the village on the Thames.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

50 Things to miss about England

It had to happen, Rod becoming naturalized (although I thought it was generally only something they did to milk and cheese).

This list of 50 Things to miss about England was compiled in a Baltimore bar between Brad, Torbjorn, Kirsten, Peter and Amanda - And presented to Rod with love at his naturalization party...

News and Media
1. The Guardian and the Sunday Times (without it costing $9.50). Yes, I know:, .
2. Gameshows with no prizes.
3. TV Evening News which has actual news.
4. Newscasters who don't look like Barbie and Ken: e.g. the woman on Channel 4 news who never does her hair.
5. Football, the real kind, particularly Match of the Day, and the fact the whole country's point of reference is 1966.

Food and Drink
6. Pub lunches on the Thames.
7. The drinking culture in general e.g. walking to the pub, last call a11pm, it gives structure to your day.
8. Wagamama - and it came to Reading the month we moved!!!
9. Tesco Superstores (every aisle fulfilling).
10. Waitrose.
11. Bacon butties/chip baps.
12. Real Ale.
13. Real Cheese (OK, pasturized...).
14. Real Yoghurt.
15. Custard as an option, instead of ice-cream.
16. Fruit trees.
17. Cheap hot tea.
18. M & S sandwiches.
19. Markets and local bakeries (the ability to get Granary Bread).
20. Proximity of Europe in general, and
21. Booze Cruises in particular.
22 Ubiquitousnessss of Indian food, e.g. chicken tikka sandwiches in gas stations.
23. And, for that matter, just Sandwiches in neat little plastic triangles.
24. Pimms O' Clock.

Britain and its Character
25. Not being able to stand up in the shower.
26. Magnolia paint everywhere.
27. Self Deprecation, Dryness, People who are not earnest, but take the piss (e.g. airline pilots), the fact that Sarcasm is a positive character trait, rather than a flaw.
28. Sonning village.
29. Drivers in the right speed lane: and who indicate (unlike Amanda's mother, who believes that if you indicate, people will know you want to change lanes and will never let you out).
30. Christmas Shopping in London.
31. London itself- the best city in the world.
32. Friendly policemen.
33. National Consciousness older than 250 years.
34. Impressive Gothic architecture and insane / crazyarse architecture (e.g. Royal Holloway).
35. Used books selection .
36. Access to vague knowledge of new pop, e.g. what Kylie's doing.
37. Heat magazine (unkind nasty gossip).
38. British Big Brother.
39. The phrase 'Bloody Hell'.
40. The fact you can see Windsor Castle from the M4.

People missed
41. People who aren't offended by where you choose to live.
42. Ant and Dec in particular and CDUK in general.
43. The existence of the Brummie accet. You kidding me? This is a real accent?
44. Gary Lineker - the embodiment of so many uniquely English traits. Extremely well groomed, quite articulate AND a great athlete that somehow managed to win very few honors (FA Cup, European Cup Winner's Cup (today's UEFA Cup) and the golden boot at the 86 World), he might be best remembered for NEVER receiving a red OR even yellow card (most likely because he was too lazy to help the defense).
45. William Hague - the embodiment of so many uniquely English traits. Extremely talented and articulate, a wonderful parlamentarian, not particularly good looking, such a very good loser (he never took the conservatives anywhere as their leader), and always so polite.
46. Stephen Fry - the embodiment of so many uniquely English traits. Multi talented, apparantly with a brain the size of Kent, and a tad gay.
47. Ulrika-ka-ka-ka - the embodiment of so many uniquely English traits. A Swede that can down a pint of beer in ONE with a propensity to be on the receiving end of a beating, but most of all she made...
48. Vic and Bob- the embodiment of so many uniquely English traits. They make us laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
49. Penny Mahon.
50. The Berkshire Crew: 'standing friends' who you don't have to be formal about meeting up with.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The end of the road...

...and we're back

dropped David (check out his band's website off at 1.00 this morning and I am happy to report that after spending 16 hrs every day in the car, we can tick the "accomplished" box. The highlights (if you can call them that) included not listening to the same song twice (praise the lord for NPR and the iPod), Kickapoo IL and Downer MN, service stations with cunning names,
cruising down the strip in Sturgis at the world's largest motorcycle rally in our blue mini-van --surrounded by Harleys, as well as having a tire with a slow leak for at least the final 2,000 miles...

The good news is that Bozeman is a wonderful town (the best comparison I can come up with is that it's like St Helena, only money hasn't quite managed to corrupt it yet - it is beautiful, clean, with few if any chains and people are genuinely happy), our customer is fantastic and obviously very appreciative. Being extremely nice is something all our customers seem to have in common and it really makes my job SO enjoyable; if only we can get this logistic thing sorted I might have to say that mine it is the best job in the world, period.

So, I've got to go back (to have a proper look around) and in my mind I am already planning a road trip (for leisure): flying in to Salt Lake City, sticking the family in an RV and heading north. Jackson, WY, Bozeman, MT and Yellowstone, it would be a mindblowing 10 days... anyone want to come along?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Diary of the Madman's Wife & Mother of the Madchildren

So....while he drives 33 hours one way, I stay home on my own with the 2 kids and try to keep from going insane (grandparents would be in San Diego. The NERVE!). It's just over 24 hrs, and so far the only problem is Cecilie wailing about missing her Grandma/Daddy, depending on the circumstance.

I keep telling myself this is stupid, many mothers survive more than 4 days on their own with small children. However, at 5am with both kids draped on top of my head, all in our bed, I just felt sorry for myself. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak...

Meanwhile, back on the ranch: I make the monumental decision on what cabinets to fit our kitchen with. Is it life threatening? Is it philosophically complex? No and no. But can we remember cooking with the stupidest cabinets ever and vowing never to do so again? Oh yeah. (Do I sound like a Mastercard ad? Oh yes.) But oh so much fun to do a kitchen from scratch...

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

The ramblings of a mad man...

I am about to undertake a project which might have secured me a place in history 40 years ago (too bad it is 2005 and it seems like nothing impresses the public anymore).

I will drive to Bozeman, MT and back via New York only stopping for gas, a snooze and a store opening party. We have a retailer that is opening a store on Friday and because of a logistics issue (DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED) it has transpired that the only way we'd be able to get the furniture there is by taking it there ourselves (or pay $5,000 for DHL to do it). Customer service is not dead, at least not with Allinwood.

Well, it will be 16 states (but who is counting), 4585 miles (that's 7379 km to you Europhiles), probably 13 gallons of diet coke (yep, that's 50 liters) and a grand opening party (free champagne!!!) between tomorrow and Sunday. To join me on this adventure I have managed to coax David, Kirsten's cousin - oh, we'll be real tight before all this is over!

Sunday, August 7, 2005

In which Dr Leonard is acknowledged as an inspiration..

I never took a class from him (I think that was the reason I was snubbed from contributing to the fest-schrift...)

Oh well, so we're knocking down walls between the kitchen, the dining and the family room: creating a GREAT ROOM --isn't it great!?! Plaster, horse hair, old newspapers, pre-historic nails, lead based paint and mice nests everywhere... Don't worry, we are wearing those masks people are using on the subway in Tokyo, we've got the door open, an industrial type exhaust fan cranked to 11, the children are kept away, and generally speaking we're having a hoot until it comes to clean up time and someone actually have to lift all of this junk out of the house to the tip pile...

It quickly proves a drag and a sham to do this piece by piece and as all our generally useful things are in storage we sip alcohol free beer and think it over. Not that I am particularly prophetic, but a vision appears (must be the beer) of Dr Leonard cleaning leaves in his yard with two
pieces of plywood and saying something totally wise in response to my snide remarks about an apparent lack of proper tools for an avid and generally world renowned gardener.

Well, schtick that in your fest-schrift, he inspired me too. The wall is half down, the tip pile is still a mere shadow of its coming self and to prove that it is hard work, we have ill-lit videotaped evidence to show that Peter can NOT karate kick a hole through the wall even with kicks well aimed between the oak beams...

Monday, August 1, 2005

In which Lars gets one haircut too many

So I've never paid much attention to clippers, and whether it is a #3 attachment or #2 or whatever. I go into the babershop, and ask the very kind Korean lady if she could even out his crazy hair. Sure, she says, and and before I can say another thing, my poor Larsipan looks like he just escaped from the Make-A-Wish Foundation Annual Picnic!

YIKES.So from now on, Lars and his dad will make visits to the barber. This is NOT something I should be in charge of! But bless his heart - isn't he cute anyway, and you can see his two teeth too!
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