Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A cute little exchange about Christmas

Mama, what are you talking about? 

Espen: Mama, show me Christmas? I see Christmas?
Me: Uhm.... it's hard to show you Christmas. There is Christmas music, and Christmas trees, but really, Christmas is in here (touching his heart).
Espen (utterly bewildered, poking his little pajama-clad belly) Christmas here?

The poor kid is truly confused now, but you've got to start somewhere, right?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All I want for Christmas is...

Do you make Christmas wish lists? We used to in my family when we were kids and teenagers, but that seemed to go by the wayside at some point, and I haven't made one since. But now, of course, all the best bloggers seem to be posting them, and they're all so pretty and dreamy that I just wanted to make one too! 

Left to right, top to bottom: 

  1. Farmer's Egg Crate, from Anthropologie. I love pretty kitchen things, and this is no exception. I may be insane for wanting to pretty up the inside of my fridge, but the thought of seeing that every day just makes me smile. 
  2. La Roux: La Roux. I'm in need of some new music, and I've liked the sound of La Roux for a couple of years without every actually getting the album. 
  3. Design Sponge at Home. I've followed the Design Sponge blog for ages, and was excited to see that Grace Bonney has put together a book. My house may not look anything like the homes you'll see on Design Sponge, but I love looking and getting some new ideas. 
  4. Is anyone else in love with the clothbound Penguin classics? I love pretty things, and I love books, so this is pretty much perfection for me! I'd love any of them, but Sense and Sensibility and Little Women are at the tippy top of my list. I haven't read either of them yet, but have wanted to read either for years. 
  5. Leather gloves. Not necessarily these ones from Overstock (although I do like them!), but I would love a pair of warm, lined leather gloves. I love how a nice pair of leather gloves look, and I'd like them for driving in on those winter mornings when the car hasn't quite warmed up yet. 
  6. The entire Farmer's Market line from Anthropologie is killing me softly with its (siren) song, but these little baskets are especially adorable. I mean, look at it! 
  7. I want a bright, splashy,vintage-y calendar for my kitchen. This vintage travel calendar is really ticking my boxes, but I'd really love anything with the same feel. The only thing I'm really married to is the big whitespace around the image. It's just crisp! 
  8. Domino: The Book of Decorating. I loved the magazine before it went out of print, and just really want to snap up the book before it disappears for ever. 
  9. Asymmetric collar felted pea coat from eShakti. Here's the tricky thing about this one: I've actually had my eye on it for about a year, and this year my mum ordered it for me for Christmas. It arrived today, and I am so pleased with it that I included it on the list :)
  10. Regina Spektor: Far. I've liked Regina Spektor for ages, but haven't ever gotten any of her music. Really, though, I am just interested in new music. Any ideas?
  11.  Savon de Marseille.  I know, I know: it's a $23 bottle of soap, so help me. But I've been dying to try it,  I love the glass bottle and the styling, and I could refill it with cheapy (cheapier, anyway) soap when it was empty. And bonus! This particular one is grapefruit scented, which I think smells fantastic. And bonus-bonus, I would smile every time I saw the French word for grapefruit, which is pamplemousse! 
  12. This is really the same thing as #4, but I wanted to show you the pretty cover for the Penguin clothbound copy of Little Women

A few less specific things are on my list too:

  • A scarf or a brooch to brighten up my new coat. 
  • A subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. I think they're only $6!
  • Jewelry. I am not very good with jewelry, but I feel like I could use a few statement pieces. 
  • Tops and cardigans. 
  • Norwegian books, music and films. Oh, and chocolate. 
  • And can I just say, I love me a good old fashioned gift card. 
Gosh, that was materialistic! And fun :) At least I have a good shopping list for the after-Christmas sales, right?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 21

You guys, I am trying my hardest here to hold back the Christmas blogging until after Thanksgiving, but it is tough. I am sticking to my guns that Christmas should be contained to December, or at least until after Thanksgiving or the first Sunday in advent. I love Christmas, but I love Thanksgiving too, and really feel like it deserves to be its own holiday. My problem this year, though, is that I am just starting to feel so dang Christmassy already! I think it's probably because it's the first Christmas where Espen can really grasp what's going on, and so I am just exploding with excitement over all the fun we're going to have. GAH!

Oh, it feels good to get it out of my system. But expect Christmas to be pretty fair game around here after this weekend, ok?

Anyway, I am still feeling grateful over here. I haven't been posting every day, but this whole Giving Thanks has really helped me to be constantly mindful of the things I am grateful for. Even when I haven't posted, I have still found the time at the end of each day to ask myself what I am grateful for today.

November 21st: I am thankful for the internet. 

No, really. I am! The internet has been a completely life-changing phenomenon for me in the last decade. When I first moved out here to Utah, I had to buy phone cards to call my family at home in Norway. We would talk for about 20 minutes or so every other week, and I'd pay as much for a phone card then as we pay for our entire phone service now. We had email of course, but it was no easier in early 2000 to find the time to sit down and write an email than it is in 2011. Internet connections were often slow, and websites had very limited content compared to today. 

I love how I sound like I'm talking about The Olden Days (Erin :) ) and this was only 11 years ago! 

Anyway, so much has changed! It used to feel like my home and my family were so far away from me, but now it's almost like having a foot at home in Norway. Thanks to the internet, I read Norwegian newspapers daily, we watch our favorite Norwegian shows on the day they air, I stay in touch with family and friends via Facebook and blogs, I can look up Norwegian recipes when I'm feeling homesick, I can share photos and videos instantly with my family, I can talk to them on the phone as much as I want to for a tiny fee, and holy-freaking-crap, I can see them whenever I want to! 

A very young Espen Skypes with Granny. 

Skype has been a fantastic thing for our family. We talked my parents into giving it a try when I was pregnant, and Espen had his first Skypedate with Granny and Granddad on the day he was born. Now we Skype a couple of times a week. Espen will often ask to "Skype Granny?" and he completely has a relationship with his grandparents even though they're almost 5,000 miles away. They can watch Espen play, and I can see my mum's latest shopping treasures and knitting projects. It has been a great comfort to be able to actually see my dad since his cancer diagnosis too. Just being able to see how he is doing with my own eyes has given me a lot of peace of mind. 

I could go on and on. There's online bill pay, Google, Netflix, Pinterest, blogs, amazon, and all kinds of conveniences and entertainment to be had. Of course this isn't a very nuanced point of view, seeing as I am only focusing on the parts I like. There are plenty of downsides to the internet too, from fraud to causing problems for people with a variety of addictions. But of course there is going to be a downside to essentially allowing the entire world into your home. Today, though, I am grateful for all of the wonderful benefits to be being able to do exactly that. 

Are you grateful for the internet? Why? Why not? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 15

November 15th: I am thankful for four little words

Photo taken by my mum, via Skype. She is sneaky like that.

Kids really do say the darndest things. Why, it was only this morning that I was burying my head in my hands as my 21-month old son repeated "oh shoot, oh shoot, oh shoot" over and over again. Other Espen classics have lately included "Mama, draw poopy?" and a suggestion that his Daddy should sleep outside.  The things that come out of his mouth vary from giggle-inducing, to stupefying (Did he just say...?) to outright mortifying. 

And sometimes they just melt my heart: 

I was putting Espen down for his nap after a very wild and raucous diaper change. He was squirmy and wiggly and I was thinking to myself that this nap is just not going to take (it still hasn't). After getting him settled in with his crazy cat, two giraffes, a hippo and a blanket, I stroked his face and told him good night. That was when Espen looked up at me said said : "Mama, I love you."

He has never said that before. Granted, he's not even two yet, so it's not too surprising, but this is also a little boy whose vocabulary includes words like "hexagon", "ambulance" and "sculpture". We tell him that we love him all the time, so it's a phrase he's heard, and as his mother, I know it's an emotion he feels. Today was just the day he decided to put the two together, and I am so grateful I was there for it. So grateful to feel the impact of having those words meant for me. So grateful to know that, together, we are doing something right. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 14

November 14th: I am thankful for insulin

This gorgeous photo is of me and my lovely Erin, bestie and former roommate extraordinaire, and was taken during our college days. Don't we have "serious students" written all over us? Anyway, the reason why I'm treating you to this blast from the past is that today is World Diabetes Day, and Erin has diabetes.   
You can read more on her blog here

Before we were roommates, I didn't know all that much about diabetes. I mean, I knew that it meant that your body didn't produce insulin, and that you had to give yourself insulin shots to compensate. I knew that you shouldn't eat sugar (not technically true), and I knew that you could go into something called a diabetic coma. 

(My spell check just tried to correct that to "diabetic roman.")

Then I met Erin. Erin spoke German, painted pictures, owned a Mac before they were cool, played the flute and the piano, liked Indian food and double-stuffed oreos, double-majored in psychology and anthropology, and loved Sting with a fiery passion. And she had diabetes.  

I could say that Erin's diabetes didn't matter. But it became part of our lives, because it was part of her life. She had an insulin pump attached to her body at all times, tested her blood sugar many times a day and always carried a test kit with her. You could find stray test strips anywhere within a one mile radius of our house. Erin got loopy when her blood sugar was low, and grumpy when it was high. She kept insulin in the fridge, and a bin of pump supplies in her room. In spite of all of this, diabetes never, ever defined who Erin was or what she did. 

The summer before I got married, Erin packed up her diabetes and moved to Ghana for three months. I'll let you read all about it here but think power outages (remember insulin has to be kept cold!), eating goats, being stranded in Burkina Faso and fixing a moped with a hair tie, oh, and crocodiles. 


Clearly I am grateful for Erin and the influence she's had on my life. But I am also so grateful for the simple existence of insulin that has taken diabetes from a death sentence to a chronic illness. And that has given me one of my best friends. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 13

November 13th: I am thankful for these guys

The startled look is due to the flash. They are playing in the dark because that is how we roll, yo.

As I write and our shepherd's pie bubbles away in the oven, Nick and Espen are in their blanket fort, racing cars. And, I believe, giraffes. If you can think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, I'd love to hear it.

(Oh, and yes, those are his pajamas.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 7,8,9 and 10

Hello internet! Just stopping by to confirm that I am, indeed, still alive and still feeling thankful. I've just had to work a little harder to get there in the last couple of days. Espen got sick on Sunday night/Monday morning, and so we were up with him every hour until about 6 AM. Needless to say, we were all exhausted and grumpy. Then, after a few days of randomly bursting into tears, I notice that Espen has a new tooth, and it was like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Until yesterday morning when Nick and I both woke up with sore throats. And then tonight I discover that Espen has another new tooth on the way. Poor little guy!

So I've been having to dig a little deeper to find the gratitude. The amazing thing though, is that there is always something to be grateful for.

November 7th: I am thankful for grandparents

Espen and Grandma in happier times.

On Monday afternoon Espen went from being a tearful, listless little lump that only wanted to be held and watch illicit amounts of Kipper to a squealing, giggling little streak of happy running around the living room in about 3 seconds flat. The difference? Grandma and Grandpa came over for a visit. They live over three hours away, so I have to say that their timing for a quick trip up North was impeccable. And while they were playing, it gave me a chance to do some listless slumping of my own. But seeing Espen so happy and having so much fun, and knowing he really didn't feel good, was great. And I'm thankful for Grandma and Grandpa, the only people who could make that happen. 

And then later that evening, Espen got some dinosaur stickers in the mail from Granny and Granddad. Way to grandparent from halfway around the world! Sticking those all over the kitchen window completely saved the day on Tuesday when we were stuck in the house for day two of the North Family Sickathon 2011. 

November 8th: I am thankful for my life situation.

I hope to tread a little carefully with this one: Lots of parents work outside the home, and lots of parents don't work outside the home. I think that each family needs to decide what will work best for them. This week I am grateful to belong to the latter group. I know how fortunate we are to even be able to consider having me stay home full-time. I'm always happy we made this choice, because it feels like the right one for us. This week it was great to just know that I was free to take care of Espen without worrying about anything else. 

November 9th: I am thankful for restaurants. 
When I picked Nick up from work we were tired, we were hungry and none of us were feeling great. Nick works in downtown Provo, so we were within seconds of about 12 restaurants that we like. Yesterday I was thankful for Guru's and their California Club wrap. Bonus gratitude points for their kids menu and a cheese quesadilla that Espen would actually eat. 

November 10th: I am thankful for friends, visiting teachers and plates of treats.
OK, I know that I was thankful for friends on Monday, but I was thankful all over again today. In our church we have something called visiting teachers. It basically means that every woman in the church has two women assigned to her to basically look out for her and whatever she needs. My visiting teachers have brought me meals when Espen was born, when I was getting over surgery or when I was even just not feeling good. So today, when I heard a knock at the door and I saw it was my visiting teacher, I had no hesitation in hauling my un-showered, sweat-pantsed self to the door. Of course it helps that she's a good friend too, and in this case, a good friend bearing a plate of chocolatey treats. Definitely a highlight of my day! And while the treats were delectable, what really meant something was that someone had taken the time to think of me and how to brighten my day. 

What are you feeling thankful for?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 6

November 6th: I am thankful for friends.

Anyone who has read this blog, or known me in person, for any length of time will know that I get very braggy about my friends. And for good reason! I'm not sure how exactly we have done it, but somehow we've managed to surround with the loveliest, kindest, funniest, most generous group of people imaginable. Somewhere in our youth or childhood, we must have done something good, I suppose. 

Me, Annika (one of my oldest and best friends) and a very little Espen.  

I was reminded of this fact yesterday when we sat down to dinner with some very good, old friends, as well as an old acquaintance/new friend and his lovely wife. We all had so much to talk about that we could hardly get a word in edgeways between the six of us and Espen, who was perhaps our liveliest conversationalist. It felt especially poignant to sit down with a new friendship and all the potential that holds compared to an old friendship so close that it borders on family. On the one hand we were all introductions and getting to know each other, on the other hand we were completing each other's sentences and reaching back into a shared history of many, many years of friendship. 

I am thankful for friends, old and new, near and far. I am thankful for the blessing of the family we are allowed to choose: our friends. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 5

November 5th: I am thankful for the weekend. 

That is all. Proceed. 

Giving Thanks: November 4

November 4th: I am thankful for a perfect moment. 

After lunch today, Espen brought his Legos into the kitchen while I worked on a sweater I am knitting for Nick. I sat at the kitchen table, he played on the floor beside me while we both listened to music. I looked down at Espen playing by my feet and realized that I was perfectly happy. For a short, fleeting moment everything was right in my world and my heart was filled with pure joy. I am grateful for that moment and for the quiet voice within me that reminded me it was there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 3

November 3rd: I am thankful for play dates, friends and so much more.

The boys enjoy some story time. 

Espen has two little friends, and the three of them are all born within four weeks of each other. These little friends happen to all live within walking distance of each other, and more than that, they happen to have some pretty wonderful women for their mothers. Well, the other two do. Espen has me. 

The six of us have been getting together pretty regularly lately for a weekly play date. We say it's for the kids, and we mean it, but really, truthfully, it's for us moms too. It certainly is for me. Being a full-time, stay-at-home mom is a wonderful gift. It is truly the most rewarding, significant thing I have ever, ever done. Having said that, it can also be frustrating, tedious and even a little lonely. Which is why it can be so good for everyone involved when you find someone else who speaks your language and knows where you are coming from. I am especially grateful for the love and the kindness that these women show to my little boy; reading him books, letting him climb all over them, being patient when he decides to drive trains on their child's faces. 

 It's about the kids too. It's about learning to share toys and attention, learning to interact with other people, how to be social. It's about wrestling and toddler pillow fights and working together to figure out who's going to sit on the car and who's going to push. It's about having fun, and discovering the joy that comes from having friends. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 2

November 2nd: I am thankful for electricity... and the occasional power cut. 

Just as we were finishing up breakfast this morning, we had a power cut. Clearly, nothing like people have been experiencing in the North-East, but still, we were without power for a good two hours. Which meant I got absolutely nothing done. No dishes, no laundry, no vacuuming, no internet... nope. Oh, and no heat. That was the tricky one. The other stuff I could just throw my hands up over, because, let's be honest, not being able to do housework isn't the end of the world. But not having heat was a little harder to ignore. At first we were OK; I worked on a sweater I'm knitting for Nick and Espen played his little heart out. Then Espen came up to me and said: "Cold, Mama. Blanket?" Break my heart! 

So I scooped him up and headed upstairs where we camped out under the duvet in my bed. We watched cartoons on the iPad (thank you, 8 hour battery!) and read books and just played together. It ended up being a really nice way to spend the morning. And just like every cliche about power cuts ever, I was a little disappointed when the power came back on. But let's be honest, not when the vents started gushing with lovely warm air. 

Going without all of our day-to-day conveniences for a few hours was a great reminder of how fortunate we are to live so comfortably. At the same time, spending some time being unplugged showed me how easy it is to get wrapped up in those conveniences and completely miss out on the simple pleasures like snuggling up with a book and your favorite toddler. 

It's amazing what you can accomplish when none of your appliances work. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Giving Thanks: November 1

Before we get all swallowed up in our preparations for Christmas (or The Holidays, if that's how you roll), I would like to take some time to reflect on the things that I am grateful for. One of the things that I love about the American holiday of Thanksgiving, is that if you take even the tiniest moment to stop and think about it, you find yourself considering the things that you have to be grateful for in your life. 

This year, rather than a fleeting thought at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I would like to take the whole month of November to reflect on some of the things I have to be grateful for in my life. I will try to do a short post every day about something I am grateful for, big or small. Won't you join me?

November 1st: I am thankful for a warm and sunny October.

This morning we woke up to a wet and rainy November, which soon turned into a cold and snowy November. Quite a contrast to the sunshine we went trick or treating in last night! But we knew that winter and cold weather was coming, so I am just grateful for all the sunshine and mild weather we have had. It feels like a gift to know that the long, dark winter will be just that little bit shorter this year. 

 My roses on October 31st. 

Playing in the sunshine at the park, October 22nd. 

Trick or treating, October 31st.