Category Archives: Family stuff

Sunday dinner, Norwegian style

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If you are a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish, you may not want to read this post.

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Last week the weather was cold but beautiful, with clear skies and plenty of sunshine. The weekend arrived and we were hit with another snow storm, but we didn’t let this interfere with our dinner plans.

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Yesterday we took the boat out, set some nets and then returned this morning to collect our catch. There were fifteen Cod fish in the net. My father calls Cod, Norwegian turkey.

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I don’t like seeing them jump around, gulping air. So when my husband wasn’t looking, I quickly threw the smallest ones back into the sea.

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In less than two hours the fish were filleted and ready to cook. When fish is fresh, it curls and splits as it fries on the pan. It smells like the ocean and tastes like a dream.

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Later, when my son asked how many fish we caught, I heard my husband answer “I could have sworn there were fifteen but I filleted only ten, I guess the other five jumped ship…”

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Gun Control

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Okay, here goes…

I’ve got a bad cold and a lot on my mind these days and therefore, haven’t been sleeping very well. While driving my nineteen-year-old son to work early this morning, we got into a rather intense conversation over gun control. Me for, him against.

I am a middle aged woman, who’s lived in three countries, had two husbands and  raised six children. In no way do I feel as if I’ve lived a sheltered life and yet I have never held, or shot a gun. Anyone with a gun in their hand has the ability to kill and that frightens me! If I had been raised around guns, who knows, maybe I’d feel differently. But I wasn’t and I don’t.

My son, like myself has never held a gun, he is a quiet and soft hearted individual and yet we found ourselves on opposing sides this morning. He argued that we need guns for protection and that surveys show, there is less crime in places where people are armed. He was basically saying that most problems could be solved if everyone carried a gun. I disagree.

I lived in a violent relationship for twelve years and strongly believe if there had been a gun in the house, someone would have been hurt, maybe even killed. I also believe that most break-ins, robberies and rapes happen without warning and unless you have a gun strapped to your hip 24-7, it may not help to own one. We have all seen what happens when guns fall into the wrong hands and there are a lot of ‘wrong hands’ out there! How do we control that? By arming teachers? Movie theater attendants? Who knows, maybe one of them is crazy…

I’m not calling for a ban on all guns, I don’t have any answers. I’m just a mother and I worry.

I did not write this post in hope of starting a heated debate on the pros and cons of carrying a gun. I wrote this post for my son to read in his own quiet voice, instead of hearing me yell like I did this morning. For this reason, I’m asking for NO comments today. Thank you!

The other side of the water

The Atlantic Ocean was a big part of my life while growing up. You see, my dad was a commercial fisherman who fished off the  coast of New Jersey. My brothers still do.

I can remember driving down to the inlet in the back seat of my parents old Buick to survey the ocean. My dad could tell just by looking whether or not he and his crew should go out. When they did go, weather permitting, they could be gone for many days.

You would think with my dad out to sea we would get a break, but no. Then it was my mother’s turn to drive down and observe the sea. We’d pull up in the car, she’d quietly look out over the ocean and say, “I better get home and start peeling potatoes, because he’s coming home.”

And she was usually right.

I live on the other side of the water now and through my window, beyond the sound there is an opening. On one side of the opening is the Norwegian coastline, on the other an island. And through that opening is the North Sea. I’ve seen this view thousands of times and yet it always looks different…

Don’t be fooled by the beauty, it’s usually quite cold and windy out there.

Goodbye summer

 

Goodbye summer 2012

I’m always happiest in the summer. I want to say its because of the nice weather, but we don’t always get the nicest weather here in Norway. Warm sunny days pop up randomly but can never be counted on. What we do get, is plenty of daylight. While the north of Norway basks in twenty-four-hours of it, we here in the South get about four hours of dusk, to which we call night. I get super charged by the light and run around like the Duracell Bunny all summer long.

It took all summer but Adam’s (grandson) sunflower finally bloomed.

As you may have guessed, by the end of summer I’m more than ready to go into winter hibernation. Especially since our long days of daylight turn into long days of darkness. I get through these months mostly in pajama pants, with plenty of books and lots of vitamin D. (Exercise and eating healthy also helps).

As the days steadily get shorter and the kids head back to school, I can feel my energy already starting to deplete. I’ve been sending children to school without a break since 1982, and with only twenty months to go, I’m eager to put that part of life behind me!

These two (Khloe & Mia) will really miss summer

My book came out in April and its been nonstop since then with blogging, promoting and travel. I’m happy to report an excerpt from the book was recently highlighted in the Foreign Exchange Newsletter and put up on their Expat Exchange web sight. Feel free to go in and push the fb like button or tweet it. Thank you!

Which brings me to the next order of business, I promised a book giveaway. The lovely Emily (granddaughter) took time away from her painting to pull a name for me…

Emily picks the winner

And the winner is Crazytraintotinkytown which is a great blog, that comes to us all the way from Turkey… Yay!

Maybe I should deliver the book to Turkey myself

Later this week my daughter and grandson are coming from America for a visit. Its not often I get both of my daughters in the same country. I’ve therefore decided to take a short break from blogging and enjoy every minute I can with them. I hope you all enjoy your week as much as I know I’ll enjoy mine. -Maggie

Going Home

 

I know my last post was about life getting back to ‘normal’ after a long and exciting summer, but summer’s not quite over yet. I still have two trips to take…

First, I’m going on a mystery trip to Scotland. The reason I call it a mystery trip, is because I’m going to meet a group of writers, I don’t really know. We will be discussing a joint venture, I know nothing about. I’m not even quite sure why I’m going, all I know is something in Scotland is beckoning. More to come on that…

I am also going on a trip to Dublin, with my husband, four of his old football (soccer) buddies and their wives. This trip is strictly for pleasure. More to come on this trip too…

What I can tell you about now, is my trip ‘home’ to New Jersey. I still call Jersey home because it’s where I come from, it’s where my family lives and where all my childhood friends are. No matter how long I’m gone it always feels familiar and I still sound like I belong there. Now you’re probably thinking… What?

I’m talking, or should I say, ‘tawking’ about my language and Jersey attitude. Living in a foreign country, talking ‘their’ language, with an accent and not having a clue how to joke around, mostly leaves me feeling like an outsider. Not the case in Jersey…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more reasons I like visiting Jersey in the summer are, warm weather, something you canNOT count on in Norway. Shopping, there is 0% tax on clothes in NJ and 22% on clothes in Norway. I could sit here all day telling you reasons I love the Garden State, but guess what?

Norway is my home now, it’s where my father, husband and two of my sons were born. I have three children and three grandchildren living there (two of my children and two grandchildren live in the US). I have friends that feel like family and my two pets, Khloe and Mia are there. The house my husband built and the home we built together are there. I feel safe in Norway and have soon lived there half of my life (six more years). I guess I have two homes…

What do you think, is home where you come from, or where you’ve gone?

 

A demanding house guest

 

I feel as if I’ve been living in a cocoon this past week. My nine-week-old baby granddaughter stayed with me while her family was on vacation. They went to Lego Land in Denmark, which is not exactly the best place to take a small baby. I volunteered and was looking forward to all the great bonding time I’d be getting with her. What I hadn’t thought about is how time consuming one little baby girl could be!

I was just back from America and hadn’t even unpacked my suitcases when my little house guest arrived. A car load of baby gear was soon moved in, and a long list of instructions, hung on the refrigerator.

She slept all night, from around eleven in the evening until seven in morning and boy do I know how lucky I was! Especially since I was wrestling with a touch of jet lag myself. However, from that first morning bottle until the last, the day belonged to her.

She took short little catnaps throughout the day, which never lasted more than twenty minutes or so. And when she did sleep there was plenty for me to do…

Her clothes had to be washed separately.

Bottles sterilized.

Formula mixed.

One bottle got vitamin drops, while another got malt extract added to it.

I also made up a bottle of fennel tea which she drank a little of in the evenings to help fight colic. (you can tell she’s my granddaughter, already drinking tea)

When she was awake, besides giving bottles, burping and changing diapers, I took her for a walk in the carriage everyday.

She also needed to lay on her belly a few times a day, to get used to holding her head up. (she didn’t like that)

She had a stuffy nose, so I had to put drops in five times a day.

She had a bath every other day, but needed to be cleaned up every morning.

She had to be dressed for the day and pajamas put on in the evening.

Her skin was dry and needed lotion rubbed on her twice a day.

For her entertainment (thats right even at nine-weeks, we humans need to be entertained)

The #1 thing was the vibrating, bouncy chair. Especially if she could see what I was doing while sitting in it, or see the television (no comments on that please)

#2 the baby gym. It’s a square mat with toys hanging over.  A blinking, musical star hung right in the middle and she could stare at that star for a good half hour. The only problem was the music only played for five minutes, I would therefore, run back and forth, turning it on again and again!

#3 if all else failed, rock, carry ,walk and soothe her. I’d say we walked quite a few miles last week.

I was amazed by how much work went into a baby, and wondered how I ever manage to do it myself – FIVE times!!??!!

Now that she’s gone home to her family, all I can think about is her smile, how good she felt in my arms, that sweet baby smell and how much I love her… Oh, now I remember how I did it.

Thats Amore


I’ve been nominated for One Lovely Blog Award by my new friend on the crazytraintotinkytown. A great blog about starting a new life in Turkey. So whether you’re in need of some summer sun, or not, check it out!

I also received a Sunshine Award from Kate, the famous creator of Spineless Wonders over at beforiforget Always entertaining!

Finally, a Beautiful Blogger Award from fellow Jersey girl Laura Stanfill she reads and knits, but mostly writes, and she’s good!

I want to do something a little different and I hope no one calls the blog police…

I want to dedicate these awards to my husband, who’s been such a great sport. First losing me to ‘the book’ and now, ‘the blog’. He has also – recently – been scarred for life and I feel partly responsible  Something big part 1.

In his honor, I’d like to tell seven things about him:

1.  He was born in Norway and although he’s only lived a total of three years in America, he talks like a Yankee (I wonder why).

2. Have you heard the saying, “When the cats away, the mice will play?” My husband says, “You know what happens when the cat’s gone.”

3. Have you heard the saying, “I’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off?” My husband says, “I’ve been running around like a de headed chicken.” (he has a little trouble with sayings)

4. He never says, “I can’t.” Only “I can try.”

5. He never asks what I’m mad about… He just brings home flowers and waits for it to pass.

6. He snores when he drinks (I had to tell something bad).

7. He rocks my world!

Monday, we (just him and I) are leaving on a much deserved trip to Cinque Terra, Italy. You’ll hear all about it, when I get back…

Ever since the book launch in April, life has been crazy. There are simply not enough hours in the day for book promoting, plus we have a big family. He works a million hours a week and travels, I blog (I’m sure that needs no explaining). I lost my grandmother, we got a new grand-baby and lets not forget the photo shoot of the house… Exhale, Mag!

I’ve already warned him, “I will not be pretty, on this vacation!” I am not packing makeup, I’m wearing my hair in a ponytail everyday and I will be drinking Italian wine at every meal.

We are not bringing laptops, iPads or iPhones (well maybe a phone for emergency) and I’ve already made a list of all the things I want to talk to him about, while I have his undivided attention (he’s going to love that, not)

Ciao!

Something big part 3

I shall never, ever complain about Norwegian weather again!

We had the photo shoot for Hjemmet (Norwegian Women’s magazine) at my house on Friday and the weather was a little nippy (sorry, old habits) beautiful!

After a whole month of work, not to mention all the stress that went into this day, it went off without a hitch. Two very lovely ladies showed up at nine o’clock in the morning, one took pictures while the other interviewed my husband and I. She asked him questions about the house and me questions about the book. The book is after all the whole reason I decided to do this, anything for publicity. Right?

They were finished by one, and then stayed for coffee and cake before leaving. I must say, they made the whole experience fun… Thank you, ladies.

However, the weeks leading up to this day were anything but fun, Something Big part 1 and part 2, and my husband now has the Harry Potter scar on his forehead to prove it.

In all fairness, the house did need to be painted, just not at the speed of light. He fell because he was rushing to get the job done and now, every time I see the scar on his face I’ll be reminded again, of all he does for me. Another point for him.

The women from Hjemmet were hardly in their car before my husband was fast asleep on the sofa. I put away the food we used as props and started packing all the stuff I’d loaned for the pictures. I then woke my husband and asked if he could help me return all the heavy, potted plants I’d borrowed. To my surprise he said, “No!” He needed a trip out in the boat… Alone.

It didn’t take long for me to realize he was right, enough is enough. So at four o’clock in the afternoon I put on my pajamas, went to bed and watched one episode of Mad Men (I have a secret crush on Don Draper) before falling asleep. (Darn, I forgot to tell Hjemmet we were probably one of the first homes in Norway to put television in the bedroom).

My son woke me at seven and asked if I could drive him to a friends house, I did (in my pajamas), came home watched another episode of my chain smoking, hard drinking ad man and went back to sleep. I slept until 9:30 the next morning! I can’t remember the last time I slept that long…

The first thing I noticed while drinking my tea and looking out the window the next morning, was all the potted plants were gone… Somebody had returned them while I was asleep.

Thank you, honey!” He wouldn’t let me put a picture of his scar here, so I’m posting a picture of Don Draper instead.

I’d also like to thank Anja for her help and advice, and for lending me all her magnificent treasures.

Marita, for the pretty cupcakes.

Diana, for the excellent cake.

Oasen, for the beautiful flowers.

Espeland Senteret, for building our spectacular new lookout.

Torn between lands

This picture was taken in 1963, the woman in the picture is my grandmother, Gerd. She was living in America at the time, but at home in Norway for a visit. I’m not sure what she was up to with clothes slung all over the open car, suitcases in the trunk and a bucket? Whatever it was, I can see she was certainly dressed for the occasion.

Life didn’t start easy for Gerd, she lost her father when she was quite young. She was married at nineteen, had three children and lost one to pneumonia. At twenty-five, her husband died and three weeks later she gave birth to her fourth child (who she would later loose in a boating accident). She was also left with a small-run-down farm to manage (which I can now see from my kitchen window).

Five years later, in 1949, she gave the locals something to really talk about when the widow up and married a man eleven years her junior. They sold the farm in 1955, packed up the children and moved to America. They stayed for thirteen years before moving back to Norway, but Gerd had a restless soul and lived the rest of her life with a foot in each country. Bouncing between her devotion to Norway and her love affair with America, she never could decide where she was happiest.

At ninety-two, Gerd passed away yesterday. She died quietly in her sleep, of old age.

Not many people are lucky enough to have their grandmother for over fifty years, like I was, but that doesn’t make it any easier to let her go. I have plenty of memories, like when I was little and we would visit her on a Sunday afternoon. She would always spread a blanket on the floor and there my sister and I would sit eating ice cream, looking through photo albums of people in Norway, we didn’t know. When I was eleven and visited her in Norway, I remember asking if she could make me a tuna salad sandwich for lunch one day. After she explained and I saw that Norwegian tuna was pink, I was a bit skeptical but it turned out to be the best I ever tasted. She later confessed that when she couldn’t find canned tuna in Norway, she used salmon instead.

With her in America and me now in Norway, I’d ring her every other week and she’d always answer the phone saying, “Is it really you Margaret?” and then when it was time to hang up she’d say, “I’m so happy you called, its always nice to talk to you Margaret.” She was sharp and clear to the very end. I’ll miss those calls.

The one thing I’m most grateful for is that she was able to hold my book in her hands and see her picture inside it. She couldn’t read it, but she lived it and now she will live on forever…

Something big, part 2

 

The three books you see above are always lying on my desk and thats why there is no excuse for bad grammar or misspelled words! (thats me being hard on myself for misspelling ladder in my last post) However, most of the time I’m doing three things at once and we all know how that goes. Anyhow, blogging is supposed to be fun-right?

Now back to the story…

Where were we? Oh yeah, Hjemmet (Norwegian women’s magazine) is coming to photograph the house and the two culprits below got paint all over my floors. Don’t let their innocent faces fool you…

 

I learned something very useful this week, baby wipes can be used for something other than their intended purpose. They’re great for removing paint off floors and furniture, so the dogs still have a home.

I took out my husbands stitches today, well three of them, he had to take the other seven himself. Here in Norway we don’t bother the doctor with such trivial things (we’re Vikings, you know). He also fixed the broken boards on the deck, the only problem is, they’re much newer and lighter than the others now. We may have to replace them all. Otherwise, outside is looking pretty good. As for inside, I had to call a friend for help.

My friend Anja has an eye for decorating and many thoughts. It helped to get a new set of eyes and another opinion. Together we came up with some good ideas. We made a list of all the changes and the things we needed to buy (nothing big…). I also borrowed quite a bit of stuff from her (crystal candle sticks, throw pillows, a large ceramic angel and a very special fruit bowl…)

I decided to let them photograph the living room, kitchen, dining area and outside. These are the rooms I wrote about in the book and have the best views of the sea. I’ve also decide to set up small areas in these rooms to photograph instead of the whole room. Some examples of what I mean below, but remember I’m no photographer!

 

 

 

We have a large patio at the front of the house which sits above a high cliff, from here you can see out the fjord and into the North Sea. This area is the pièce de résistance and I intend to do it up good. I’m setting the table with a seafood extravaganza and will take pictures, for you to see on the day they come. The big day is Friday, June 15 and the only thing that can spoil it is the weather… What are the chances of that in Norway?

To be continued…