"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."
Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien.
"If you wish to be happy, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you can change."
Oromis, Brisingr, Christopher Paolini.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for all three kids, and all three were starting at a new school. I think everyone had a good time, but despite my efforts to have them in bed early over the past week, they're all showing signs of extreme tiredness. (The yelling and hitting one another signs, unfortunately!) I don't think it helped that they were all up super early this morning.

DD2 had a great first day of preschool. She's had at least one older sibling at school there since she was born, so is completely comfortable with the environment and knows everyone. I think we were interrupting her play when we said goodbye! It was very exciting to have a lunchbox packed for school.

DD1 was very excited to finally be in first grade! Last night she admitted to being a bit nervous, but seemed relieved when I pointed out that it was everyone's first day there, including the teacher. Today was a half day, ending before lunch. By the time we picked her up she had friends that required hugging before she could leave. Always a good sign. (Oh, and they did math and talked about the rules, too...)

DS was the one we were concerned about. He has been home schooled since Thanksgiving of 2006 after a disastrous beginning to first grade. Not only has he not been in a classroom environment for almost two years, he has some extremely bad memories of his last new school. (To say that it was the wrong place for him is quite the understatement!) This morning seems to have gone well. He's quiet about things, but did mention that it was one of his best first days of school ever. He has a friend. They did some fun "getting to know one another" activities.

Coral finished at 11:25 am today, so we took the older two out for lunch before picking up DD2 at 1 pm. What did I do with the first morning I've ever had all my kids in school? I went out for coffee with DH. First things first.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to England (July 8 - July 9)

After flying in from Oslo, we caught the Gatwick Express into London. Blurry picture from a moving train of the Battersea power station, featured on the cover of Pink Floyd's "Animals."

The last few days of our trip were rather more structured than we're used to, as I had arranged tours with London Taxi Tours. (Check out our picture on their testimonials page!) This was a bit of a gamble with three young children, but worked out extremely well. With just the five of us in a taxi, the tours were tailored to our interests and easily adjusted for the children. I highly recommend the company!

On Wednesday we did a full-day tour to Bath and Stonehenge. I visited Stonehenge and the Romans Baths when my school choir toured in England 20 years ago. DH had never seen either. We were able to see parts of Bath that were inaccessible by motor-coach, too. It rained most of the day, but we didn't let that stop us.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Norway (July 3 - July 8)

On Thursday, July 3rd, we drove from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Edinburgh to catch a plane to Oslo. We had no time to stop for any length of time on the way up, but the road was good and we enjoyed the scenery. Although we were booked on a Norwegian flight our crew and aircraft were from Hola! Airlines. There was a lone representative from Norwegian who translated all the announcements (made in Spanish and English) into Norwegian.

We spent two nights at the farm, where my MIL visited her mother's parents as a child, and which now belongs to her brother. This was the first time I had met his partner; she is really sweet and a great cook.

We spent the 4th of July in Oslo proper, visiting the Natural History museum and spending time with DH's grandfather (Bestefar, "best father"). Unfortunately we missed his grandmother (Bestemor, "best mother") by just a couple of weeks, as she passed away while we were on our anniversary camping trip. We called my MIL on speaker phone for her birthday. It was quite funny hearing what the kids chose to tell Grandma about our trip.

On Saturday, July 5th, we drove from the farm to the mountain cabin ("hytte" in Norwegian). This is a required part of a visit to Norway for us. It was built in ~1912 by my MIL's paternal grandfather, with some additions built on later. (During our time at Stanford, DH came home from a trip to Norway somewhat startled because the cabin now had electricity.)

Last time we were in Norway, we took the kids to the "badeland" ("swimming land" or water park) at the airport Clarion hotel, just a few minutes drive from the farm. They were looking forward to going there again. Unfortunately, the Clarion badeland closed permanently just a few days before we arrived this year! We made it up to the kids by stopping at the Tropicana Badeland at Per's resort in Gol on our way to the cabin. Great fun, although I was surprised to see so many overweight Norwegians.

(DH and I have taken to referring to the Tropicana Badeland as "Per's well." There exists family legend that Per once interrupted my FIL bathing in the well at the cabin. The well was shared by several cabins, and was everyone's source of drinking water. Needless to say, Per was less than pleased to find some american there with his bar of soap! These days we have running water and a shower in the cabin, so no-one need resort to such extreme measures.)

The children especially enjoy the upstairs bedroom at the cabin. As you can see from the picture, the doorway is only slightly taller than three year-old DD2. The stairway is kid-sized, too; it's more like a ladder for adults. There are lots of interesting toys stored up there!

We had a relaxing time at the cabin despite some cold, rainy weather. Kite flying, hiking, fishing (no fish, as the river was too high), and plenty of games of Yahtzee. DH's uncle cooked us a wonderful meal of trout he caught while up at the cabin the weekend before. It was lucky that he had frozen some, or we wouldn't have had any fish! On Sunday we had roast ham; Bestemor had planned this meal for us before she died, and was very insistent that we have it.

On our return to Oslo we wandered through Frognerparken and Vigelandparken, visited Bestefar, and had a nice dinner at Holmenkollen. (Bestefar was once a ski-jumper, testing out the jump before competitions.)

On Tuesday evening we flew to London Gatwick. Norway is wonderfully child-friendly. The kids had a great time at the concourse playground while we were waiting for our flight.