Category Archives: Family stuff
As some of you may know my youngest son is autistic. He was only three-years-old when diagnosed and I can still remember the day as if it were yesterday. I felt as if I were thrown from a ship in the middle of an ocean. I was shocked and terrified, but most of all I was sad. That was fifteen years ago and my son is now eighteen.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ it was also the title of a book written by Hilary Rodham Clinton. Well, it definitely took a village to raise my son and not just one… but three!
When he was ten we moved from Norway to Houston and lived there for two years. From Houston we moved to the Netherlands, where we lived for three years before returning home to Norway. Over the last fifteen years teachers, assistants, caseworkers, specialists, neighbors, friends and family in three different countries have helped and taught both me and my son. It hasn’t been easy and I’m tremendously thankful to each and every one of these people!
If you look Autism up in the dictionary it says… A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
This is not incorrect, but it is a very general definition because autistics are not all alike. For example, my son can communicate in two languages, Norwegian and English. He’s never met a video game he couldn’t beat and he’s learning to play the Bagpipes online! Yes, my son is autistic, but he’s also unique and I wouldn’t change one thing about him, even if I could.
It’s funny how people float in and out of our lives and while some stick others don’t.
After leaving America and moving to a small town in Norway twenty-four years ago, I met a family from England. I couldn’t speak Norwegian and there weren’t many expats or foreigners living in this area at the time. I felt lost, misplaced and longed for my family and friends back home. I was offered a job at a local school and that’s where I met this family. I’m not sure how I would have gotten through those first couple of years in Norway without them. Connected by the English language (their’s proper, mine not) we bonded and became fast friends and then suddenly they were gone.
I was heartbroken and didn’t know how I’d manage without them…
We kept in touch with an occasional phone call, Christmas cards and a handful of visits over the last twenty-four years. Our daughters have also challenged the years and miles, by remaining close. This past weekend, me, my daughter and granddaughter journeyed from Norway to England to visit them. It’s been at least ten years since we’ve seen each other last, but it felt as if we’d never been separated at all. We caught up on the present, reminisced over the past and made a promise to visit again soon.
As our granddaughters met and played for the very first time, I couldn’t help but marvel over the power of friendship.
I’d like to introduce you to my girls, Mia and Khloe, otherwise known as Trouble and Double Trouble. Only Kidding – well, maybe not. I do after all walk them almost everyday, pick up their you-know-what and clean their feet, so they don’t track dirt all over my house. This list could go on and on…
What do I get in return from these two silky, little King Charles Spaniels – love. Endless and unconditional love. Whether I’m gone for ten days, or just ten minutes, they’re always at the door with wagging tails to greet me. They never leave my side and comfort me when I’m down. Keep me company when I’m alone and make me laugh when I’m sad. I guess I need them as much as they need me.
The grandchildren love them too…
If you are a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish, you may not want to read this post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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 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.
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.
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!
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…
And the winner is Crazytraintotinkytown which is a great blog, that comes to us all the way from Turkey… Yay!
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
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?
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.
One bottle got vitamin drops, while another got malt extract added to it.
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.