Monthly Archives: March 2013

It really does take a village

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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.

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Easter in Norway

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Here in Norway, Easter is called Påske and after a long dark winter Norwegians are more than ready to celebrate. They do so by filling backpacks with goodies (mostly chocolate and oranges) and go ‘tur’.

Going tur means getting out. Skiing, hiking and boating are at the top of the list. And this year we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather. It’s a bit nippy here on the southwest coast of Norway, but the sky is clear and SUNNY!

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Jøssingfjord

Here are pictures from this year’s Påske tur

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Gloppedalsvatnet

Songdalstrand, which was once a busy fishing village is now a quaint little tourist attraction, adorned with well-preserved wooden houses. The narrow road leads out to the open coast.

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My kind of town, complete with an outside library!

My kind of town, complete with an outside library!

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Songdalstrand

Rosslandsguden, here we had to trudge through some snow to get up to the Sacrificial Stone and Giant Rossland God’s Head, which dates back to the Iron Age (500 B.C. – 550 A.D.). The God’s Head is actually a replica, the original is in the Dalane Folkemuseum.

This is a duplicate, the real head is in a museum.

This is a duplicate, the real head is in a museum.

I don't even want to know what was sacrificed here...

I don’t even want to know what’s been sacrificed here…

Helleren, is an overhanging rock formation 60 meters long and 10 meters deep. Archaeologists have traced settlements from the early Stone Age here. The two houses standing today date back to the early 1800s and were abandoned in 1920.

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Gloppedalsura, is the site of a tremendous landslide, caused by the melting of glacial ice and is one of the largest in Europe. Blocks as large as houses fell from these steep cliffs.

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There is no way to get all of the landslide into one picture.

We also passed by a frozen lake where we saw cars racing on the ice! We did not join in on the fun… I’m not even sure it’s legal.

Racing on a frozen lake, I don't think so...

Racing on a frozen lake, I don’t think so…

I hope where ever you are in the world – you’re having a fun but safe, Easter also!

I

Windows

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After getting the baby settled down into his first night in our new home, I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of hot tea and looked out over the fjord. The evening sun shone down on the water causing its reflection to dance on the wall behind me. From where I was sitting I had a clear view of Strandveien, the small farm my grandparents owned, where my father was born and where they struggled through loss and poverty. The same farm sold years ago, to fund my family’s new life in America.

At that moment Harry came up behind me, laid a hand on my shoulder, leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Do you think you’ll be happy here?”

I didn’t have to think, I already was.

Fly Away Home

Frankenstorm

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I feel like it was just Christmas, I blinked and now it’s March!

Time really does fly… In five years, I will have lived half my life in Norway!

While Norway is my home now and I have no regrets, New Jersey is where I come from and where my loyalties will always reside.

I follow a blog called, It’s All About Purple. It’s written by Debbie, in New Jersey (we went to school together). I’m especially fond of this blog because it always makes me feel at “home” and  somehow -a little closer to New Jersey.

Yesterday’s post especially pulled on my heartstrings.

In late September 2012 Super-Storm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City NJ, which was already mostly underwater due to a full moon and high tides. The storm slammed the New Jersey coastline with 90 mph winds. Registered only as a category 1 on a scale of five, it packed astoundingly low barometric pressure, which gave it tremendous energy to push water inland. The storm caused massive power outages, that went on for weeks. People were left stranded and some dead. It destroyed tens of thousands of businesses and homes. It ripped away parts of our famous boardwalks and blew the sand from our beaches. It was the nightmare you never think will really happen.

All over the world devastating disasters such as this strike and we feel tremendous sorrow. Unfortunately, as the media buzz around them dies so does our interest. That’s why with summer on the way, I just want to shout out, “I haven’t forgotten about you New Jersey and I’m rooting for you to come back, bigger and better than ever!”

Read Debbie’s post and see pictures (not of devastation, only the beauty) of our Jersey Shore, here.

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