Category Archives: Reflections on Family

Easter Hols chapter 2

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So now we know how all those chocolate items are made. I still don´t get the link between easter bunnies and eggs, but. Maybe one day I´ll be wiser. (F.ex. if I google it).

I´m sitting in our family bed. Where four of our five members have spent most of the time since Wednesday evening. Today we are better. Feels all empty now I´m all alone here! It is good to have a bed 2,70 metres wide when four feverish folks need to crash out for a few easter days.

One of those viruses. The worst symptom for me, which luckily doesn´t seem to have hit the rest of the bunch, is some weird sudden “stabbing” pains around my head and inside my ears! Who invented such a pain? The God of extreme evil imagination?!

Anyways. I got myself to the chemist today, so I have secured my painkiller-supply. Two tablets every six hours.

Luckily we had a nice start to the holiday. Big sis came to visit Saturday, which was nice as always, and then big brother and his toddler came and stayed for a couple of days, where big sis also came by, with her boyfriend. A lot of good food and laughter and card games and enjoying the little ones together. In between those two visits, we also went to Germany and bought a lot of sweets and drinks for Viola´s and Linus-Ferdinand´s big birthday party next weekend. She will be 5 on Wednesday, and he turned 3 a couple of weeks ago.

So. I´m really just grateful that we are at home when a virus like that hits the fan. Viola was the only one who was not ill. We could hear her around the house, singing to herself, playing… every now and then she would come by us in the bedroom and ask if we needed anything! Then she brought us a glass of milk or juice, or fruit, which she rinsed first… she was beaming, so proud. “I look after my people!” She said.
And indeed she did. I was very impressed. And moved. My big little girl.

So this illness has brought something good with it in that way. It was very lucky our 3yearold was ill, lying still with us, with a temperature. Had he been well, walking around… throwing things into the toilets, like he enjoys to do when no one is watching… and with his impatience and strong will…it would have been very stressful, I reckon.
Lucky that Viola was the one who remained standing.

There was spring sunbeams in our garden today, and the kids wanted to run out on their bare feet in sommer clothes! So they are definitely getting back to their normal selves. They did not think our reasoning of keeping shoes and clothes on was much worth. Ok, we have just been ill, and ok, it´s not Summer yet, but it´s SOOO WAAAARM out here…!!

Sweetest things.
Tomorrow the easter bunny will come with a treasure map and they will find eggs in the garden. Then they get their easter eggs filled with sweets. Then comes Monday and time to go early to bed again to get up for school and kindertarten tuesday. Wednesday Viola celebrates her birthday in the kindergarten, and we take her two best friends home with us for some partying after kindergarten. Friday grandma and cousin Preben will be coming from Norway (he is 6 soon),and Saturday we hold a big party with lots of family, friends and neighbours. Always a lovely time, our children´s birthday parties. A lot of singing.

I was planning to get the tidying and cleaning of the house done this easter holiday. Ready for the party. Just an hour here and there, in between outings and meals. But. “Life is what happens when you´re busy making other plans.” As said John Lennon.

In this song:

Oh, that line makes me sad now:

“Before you cross the street, take my hand”.
(Coz we never know what can happen in life).
And then the boys lost their father so early. In such an unbelievable, horrible way.
We lost a great thinker and poet in John Lennon.

Hmmm…how did I get here?
Oh yes, my cleaning and tidying plans, and then life happened, we fell ill and plans changed. Yup.
Well. A lot can be done in a day or two. Maybe we are all full of energy tomorrow. Or the day after.
If all comes to the worst, all the guests next Saturday know me well, and don´t judge me too harshly for a bit of, or couple of kilos of, dust. 🙂

Last night in my feverish dreams, I wrote one blogpost after the other, there were just so many things to write about, I was writing several posts at the same time actually! It felt very busy, but in a feelgood way.

So I shall stop this easter update post, and see if I can remember some of the other things I “wrote” last night.

Shall we have one last song before we call it a wrap?

Here is one of my Norwegian all time favourite songs. By De Lillos, “Vaar”, meaning Spring.

He sings that
“Spring, it is a cliché, it is a cliché, but that doesn´t matter…
And the pint is very expensive, but on the outdoor cafe there is plenty of people milling around…and the old are old, and the young are young, and I am a really nice guy…
Tralala spring, tralala spring, tralala spring….”

🙂 Cute as can be. Love this song. Maybe especially the back-up vocals. Nifty.

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Easter Holiday

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It´s the first day in this year´s easter holiday, and birds are singing from a bright blue sky. We are at home, in our yellow house with the straw thatched roof, a post office from 1789, on the isle of Fanoe.

In Norway where I originally come from, the ideal easter holiday is set in the mountains, with lots of snow and sunshine, hot cocoa enjoyed in a ski slope, sitting on a self made snow bench…

That was my childhood. Cross country skiing with my parents and siblings, the first time I was only 3 years old. We would borrow a caravan or rent a small cabin. Some years, together with friends of my parents.

I hope I can make an easter holiday like that with my husband and kids some year soon. This year we simply don´t have the money for it. Last year I wanted to, but then we went with Not Big Bot Band instead, for two weeks in Spain. Which was lovely. (You can read more in the post Not Big Bot Band).

The years when I was a child-free (!) student in Bergen, ´92- 2004, I also enjoyed the easter holidays. Just in a different way. Most of the local people left town, to the mountain or abroad or to visit family or friends in other parts of the country. That meant there came a peace to town. The absence of crowdedness. Presence of quiet. The shops close as well, in Norway, all easter. So everybody buys lots of food and then no shops are open for 3-4 days. Peace and quiet.

What I used to do, is that just before easter I’d go to the library and borrow a big stack of books, cds, cartoons and dvds. Then I would go shopping; get wine and beer, lots of food and snacks and sweets. And a couple of grams of good Nepalese templeball, if it was around.
Then I would simply go home, close the door behind me and stay home alone all easter. Write poetry, watch movies, read, sleep, smoke, listen to cds and munch away at my chocolates and trays of marinated chicken… no internet connection in my home back then. Facebook had yet to be invented (at least I had never heard of it). It was like going into hibernation. Charging batteries. If the sun shone too insistingly, I would pack a rucksack and walk up into the mountain, I was living at the bottom of one of Bergen´s seven mountains that surround the city centre…

Yes. Those were the days too. So many nice ways of celebrating easter.
I´m not into the church´s story about it. The murdering of the kind man Jesus. A story of evil.
Yet at the same time a story of hope, or resurrection, eternal life, love… (hanging on the cross between the two thieves, encouraging them… and the love the women show Jesus in staying with him through his death process…) Okay, yes it is a good story, and an important one.

But I know it by heart. I have heard it told every easter throughout my school years.
I don´t dwell on it at easter, unless it crosses my path in a natural way, as a play or a concert, or a talk on tv or an article on Facebook about forgiveness or some fresh angle on the christian easter message.

In Scandinavia, there is a concept called “easter crime”, signifying a tradition of reading or watching criminal fiction stories through the easterdays, I guess originally thought to be a way the media could parallell the church´s five day long story. So the tv channels show a detective story in five episodes, from Thursday to Monday 2.day of easter…
Well, I´m just not into violence. It either horrifies or bores me or makes me sad or worried.
So I don´t follow that tradition.

Actually, as a mother I don´t have clear easter traditions (yet). Well no, that´s not true. Every easter the easter bunny calls us on the phone, and the children go hunting for eggs in the garden, reading a map that the easter bunny puts in our mailbox! 🙂
And then there is these cardboard eggs that are filled with sweets, that they get on the Saturday, Sunday, Monday. (Normally they only eat sweets Friday night, once a week, so it is a big deal for them, I remember it well from my childhood too, easter was about that big egg full of candy).

But apart from the bunny…and easter-eggs… no snowy holiday memories yet for my children. It stings a bit in my Norwegian heart when I say that, because we are so proud of our learning to ski at a very early age. But the explanation is that I gave birth around easter time, in 2010 and in 2012. And in 2011 and 2013 we had a tiny one to care for. Then last year there was the trip to Spain. And this year, no dow.

(These are not meant to be excuses, merely explaining factors. I don´t see myself as a victim of circumstances, and I´m aware everything is a question of priority. We could go for a snowy easter holiday if we felt it was more important than other things we want to spend our money on. And healthy babies can be taken anywhere as long as they are kept warm and well fed).

I hope that next easter we can be in snow somewhere. Money please do rain down on me and soak my life, thank you. (And next Summer we spend at home, so that budget can possibly be moved to easter).

This year… well. It starts out good with this clear blue sky.
Tuesday ´till Thursday my bonus son comes to visit from Copenhagen, with our little grandson. So the home will be full of good food and happy children and adults.
Friday there is that monthly jam session at my local bar on the corner. I will go there and sing and drum as I usually do that monthly night when it´s allowed.
The rest of the 10 days lie open. And that is actually a treat in itself. Maybe we will go to the swimming hall on the mainland. Nice big place with saunas and stuff.
Or maybe we will take the car and go visit someone a couple of hours´drive away.
Maybe we can arrange a visit from the lovely Burmese family (described in the post You speak English?) … I am hoping I can update this blog frequently, while the little ones enjoy quality time with daddy who is off from work for a change!
Knowing us, we will probably go out into the woods, maybe bring stuff to make a bonfire and cook some popcorn or bread or sausages or something else easy… (Fanoe has these great bonfire huts placed in the woods, where it is safe to make a fire)…

Knowing Fanoe, there´s probably some things going on to entertain the tourists, easter is the start of the tourist season here… so we can maybe join some event like that… (there is for example a tradition of a woman dressed as an easter bunny, who leads the participants around in nature, hunting for easter eggs in the dunes by the beach and stuff… Maybe this is the year where we finally take part in that fun sounding event…)

Yeah. This easter we just have time off. And that is a gift in itself.
(Like I also talked about in the post “Family quality time” the other day).

Right now i will finish this blogpost and then go downstairs and see if brunchtime is here soon.
After that, I know my five-year-old daughter wants to bake that cake we didn´t get time to make after dinner yesterday.
And I reckon I have to check out the temperature in the garden. We have the nicest closed garden, all private, walled with tall green hedges on all sides, once the greenery returns to life.
The baby leaves on the trees are still close to microscopic. But all of a sudden it will all just sprout, these secret sudden signals that nature gives to itself, that NOW is the time where we BURST OUT and GROW and LIVE again… Aaaaaaah springtime……. “hope is light green”, we say in Scandinavia. That´s probably because of those baby leaves, them bright green little dots, that may be covered in snow, but seeing them does mean that the sun is on its way back to us, after another loooong, daaaaark winter…
So seeing the colour light green gives us hope…

I will enjoy this easter holiday immensely. I can feel it in me booooones….. 🙂
Snow and skis or no snow and skis. As long as there is chocolate and some days of lazy leisure!
Oh and here comes my eldest daughter, age 10, and asks if we can put up the easter decorations now.
I completely forgot all about those. Hahahaha…. it´s good they can help me create easter. Their self made feathery chickens and such, that they bring home from kindergarten and school and I keep them in a cardboard box for next year… Yes. Nice tradition.

Happy eastering, dear reader.
I hope you will enjoy it, no matter what content you give your easter days.
Christian or not, living in a christian country or not.
Just enjoy these days from today 28/3 and until 6/4.

Meaning is created by our selves, in the meeting between external impressions and internal expressions.
Hah! That was a pretty neat line.

Between what happens to you and how you choose to sense it and interpret it, is how you make meaning.
In that space there. You create the content. Put meaning into the empty space.
We are indeed creators.

May this spring bring hope to all of us.
Bring love and compassion, peace and quiet satisfaction.
Such is my wish.

I finish this post with three images of my two youngest mini-mes, taken in the Fanoe forest a month or two ago. So we DID play in the snow the winter of 2014/15. Not a lot. But yes we did. 🙂

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Family Quality Time

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Remember this song? It was a big pophit in Norway back in… 2005? Or 2006. Back then I had one of those “jumping-seats” installed in the ceiling of the front room of my tiny flat. And every early evening I would sit my oneyearold daughter in it, and I would put on Schnappi and other up-beat-songs which I had put together on a minidisc, and she would be jumping and I would be dancing, and thus we shared some quality time together right there, laughing and junmping, dancing and singing, every early evening before bedtime.

Quite clever what he´s done in that clip, bytheway. Translated the German lyrics into English. The original video is funny too. Cartoon. Good stuff.

Quality time. It is a much used concept in Scanidnavia these days. Don´t know if it can be translated directly, but. It means to REALLY be together, have fun together or feel close to eachother as a family. When everyday life becomes a juggling puzzle of two fulltime jobs, and school and kindergarten, plus spare time activities such as soccer or horseriding, times x according to the number of children in the family… then when the weekend comes, families often feel like they have to catch up, do something special together, as there was no time for anything but dinner and bedtime in the week that passed. And the week ahead will be the same. Until next school holiday.

Many families then go out, to some organized play space for children. Or they go for a picnic. They plan and structure their weekend.
I am different.
First, I stay at home. So my 3- and 5-yearold only stay half time on kindergarten. They are tired when I pick them up at 1 pm. They want a cup of cocoa and a dvd, Then they chill on the sofa, sometimes take a nap there. After an hour or so, they start playing together, or a neighbour child comes to visit. So everyday life is not so tough on them.

I don´t mean that other families do something wrong. Children are adaptable, they get used to long kindergarten days. And many don´t feel they have the choice to stay at home. Financial pressure.
We can´t really afford it anylonger either. I used to get a small amount from the local council for staying at home with the young, but now that support isn´t there anymore. We survive on my husband´s music teacher job (in a college, teaching future kindergarten teachers how to use music in their work)… but we definately need more money.
It will come, I am not worried.
Through this blog, through my sound therapy, or through me taking some kind of job.

But this was not my focus today, when I say I´m different. Yes, I stay at home and prioritize free time over money. But what is more important here, is that I understand the concept of quality time differently from most people.

Because I don´t feel that the children need to get out and about and do stuff all the time when the weekend comes.
I feel it is more important for them to relax. To not have to rush, for some set deadline like they do in the weekdays, be it the fruit meal in the kindergarten or time to cook dinner, pick up groceries etc.
My kind of quality time involves slow mornings, big brunches, a bath-tub-session if they suddenly say they want that. Sometimes we go to the woods, or to see a play in a Children´s theatre, or a concert… but normally not early in the day. Afternoons are better.
We used to go and visit grandma a lot. She lived on Rømø, another Danish island an hour´s drive away, in a little house in the woods. Peaceful and always so cosy to spend time with her, around meals, around the guitar, and enjoying the children together. We miss that. A lot.

But yesterday! We had an ace Family Quality Time day, and that is what has inspired me to choose this blog title today.

We had visitors. Simply.
A guy that sings in my husband´s bigband, and his wife and their three sons age 11, 8 and 6. (Their daughter who is 15 could alas not come along yesterday).
They arrived at noon, and we had lunch ready. Kids were served first, as our kitchen table isn´t so big. The six of them ate together, and then us four grownups afterwards, while the kids played piano, and whatever, around the house.

After tanking up, the fathers took the kids to a wonderful playground in the forest. While us mothers did a sound healing session. It was marvellous for me. She was happy too. 🙂 Very exciting actually.
After an hour, the daddies and kids returned and we just hung out. It was so nice to watch the children approach eachother and bond. They know eachother from before, but it´s been quite a while since our last hangout.
We left them mainly to themselves, whilst we hung out in the kitchen where my husband was turning the room into a pizza bakery! He had bought 6 or 8 pieces of dough from Jimmy pizzaman around the corner, and chopped up lots of different topping items. Then the kids were called in, one by one, to make a pizza. They loved it, and they impressed me. Very tasty indeed, and with appetizing patterns of mushrooms and tomatoes and stuff. And every child had a pizza exactly to his or her taste as well.
After eating, I took the other mama with me out into my listeninghut in the garden. Plus two glasses and a bottle of wine. So we sat in here, listened to a minidisc from the 90s and had a good talk like us women enjoy so much.
Ten passed ten pm they caought the ferry back to their car on the mainland, then they drove for 40 minutes, and were back at their wonderful farm. They would have stayed the night at ours, but they have a very pregnant horse, so they wanted to get home in case she gave birth last night.

Yes. That´s what family quality time looks like to me.
Amongst many other things. But just to be with others who have kids as well, share the joys of having children, enjoy seeing them get to know eachother, and with four adults present there is space for some fun conversations and twosome activities for the grownups as well.

As soon as their baby horse comes out into the world, they will call us and we will go visit them. Their sheep is pregnant as well, so I hope we´ll get to see the lambs too… It is such a gift to have someone to visit that live not far away, but the driving there is an additional treat, the little ones take a nap and we put a cd on and sing together in the car… Gosh this sounds so romantic, hahaha…

I am so grateful to know these people. My 10yearold daughter is crazy about horses, and the mama of our friend family there has had horses all her life… she brought her a pair of riding trousers yesterday, and a riding coat and some brushes and a rope. The smile on my daughter´s face…
So heartwarming to see.

The bigband that my husband conducts, is just such a special asset in my life. You can read more about it in the blogpost Not Big Bot Band.
It´s about a meeting and party we had with the band a month ago. Actually at our friends´ farm. No kids that time. Just 28 adults, merrily singing and dancing and eating together. Every time they have played enough gigs, they go travelling together. Bringing their partners and kids if they want. Last easter we spent together with the Not Big Bots in a casa with a pool in Fuengirola, outside of Malaga in Spain.
Autumn 2008 we went to Florida together.
Holiday Inn on Cocoa Beach. Disney World and Kennedy Space Centre and Swamp boat riding, watching alligators… Discovering Red Lobster and Denny´s and…right across the street from our Holiday Inn there was one of the best sushi restaurants I have EVER been to… totally anonymous looking by the main road there…

Yeah. Quality time.
Some times it includes travelling. Some times it means a plastic splashing pool in the garden and us all sleeping in a tent out in our garden… when the youngest is very little, it needs to be easy to remain fun for all…

Of course we go to Legoland and other themeparks, (Legoland is quite near to where we live, so we know that place quite well), we go to the public swimming hall, where they have hot water pools as well, steam sauna, jaccuzies, wave machines and slides for toddlers and for bigger people…

But some of the best weekends we have as a family, is when we don´t plan anything, we just spend the time as if it never ran out, follow the children´s wishes for some piano playing or apple tree climbing, just.
Being. Together. Not focusing on any doing.

Some children get stressed these days. I reckon what they need when their weeks are so busy, is to be allowed to rest. To stop running after the clock. Be in their pyjamas until early afternoon if they want.
Be, just be.
Until they get bored. And allow them to be bored.
Because that´s when they suddenly feel the need to get creative. To use their minds to activate themselves, come up with an idea for making some fun.

Yes we do have an Ipad. But only one, so they have to share it. From time to time the charger breaks. And I have to go with the ferry to the mainland to get a new charger. So it often takes me some weeks to do that. In the mean time they don´t really mention the Ipad. They just accept it´s not an option. I really enjoy seeing that they deal with it that way. Because there are times when they find it difficult to share it, they all want to play with it all the time.

My kids also love movies. We have quite a lot of movies. I buy good films, that I don´t mind them seeing over and over again, like kids do. I don´t think Disney Channel is good enough. Nor the Danish children´s tv channel. Or they are good enough for watching a programme or two. But.
Movies are different.
Astrid LIndgrens films, for example. Swedish author, wrote Pippi Longstocking for example, about a girl age about 9 who lives alone in a big villa with her monkey and her horse (!) , she is the strongest person in the world so she throws thieves up in a lamp post if it´s needed… A true superhero. She´s god a suitcase full of gold coins, and her father is a captain on a ship far away, one time she has to go save him from pirates…
My kids love Miyazakis´s animation films, Japanese. Fantastic films, both in form and content.
And they love the animation films about the tiny African boy Kirikou, and the film Azur and Asmar, all made by the same French animation company…
So.
They get to chill on the sofa and watch movies. In Denmark it is cold, windy and dark outside, from October until March/April. In the Summer, not a lot of movietime.
In winter, quite a lot, but of course not limitless.
I find they naturally get up and start doing other things after a movie. If they don´t, then at some point we switch the tv off, and make a break.
I´m not worried about their use of screens for entertainment. As long as 1; it is quality they are spending their time watching. Or good games like Minecraft or Wii dancing or Supermario, stuff like that, non violent…
And 2; as long as it´s not too much time spent in front of screens, that they are physically active as well, and play more active games with eachother.
For my three, it doesn´t seem be a problem to find a healthy balance. For other children, other rules may be necessary.

Right. I think I have covered what I wanted to include about family quality time.
Maybe I can just add that my husband and I also make sure that there is quality alone time for each of us adults. It makes us better parents, knowing that he will play badminton tonight, or go watch a football match at the stadium. And for me to go to board meetings, and sit out here in my listening hut, do guided meditations…go to the jamsession at the local once a month, or a poetry reading on the mainland…
What we need to get a bit better at, is to make quality time for the two of us as a couple. But it´s getting easier now that our youngest just turned three. We can now go away without the three gems.
And we do also get good conversations in, or watch a documentary together and similar easy stuff, the nights when we don´t fall asleep exhausted, together with the children! 🙂

I never planned to have a family. My first child just happened. My second was planned. And my third just happened. And here we are now, a whole bunch of five!
I have a half Caribbean daughter, and two blonde Scandinavian little ones. There are sisters with 5 years´ agedifference, both of them with curly hair, one dark and one almost white haired, I call them my Yin and Yang…
And then there is a bit less than two years between the middle sister and the little brother. (He´s got long, straight hair, no curles).
So I really have got everything a social psychology loving mother can use to learn about life. 🙂
A mulatto´s path, the issues of identity are special there. Sisterhood.
The big age difference (which I am used to from my own siblings, sisters 6 years and 12 years my junior), plus the little age difference…
Sisterbrother-relationships…

I love being in charge of this family, together with my husband. And of course, the core also includes his adult children. Five siblings in all.
“A together-brought family” we call it in Danish.
The kids that are not biologically linked to oneself, we call “bonus children”. Isn´t that a nice term for it?
And they truely are a bonus to me, his grown kids.
Very loving and wise young people. Creative and honest too. With wonderful life partners, and there is even a grandson in our core now! He will be two in September. His uncle, my youngest, just turned three. It will be so much fun to watch them connect in the years to come.

Lucky is my middle name.
Family Quality Time.
I am truely a very rich lady.

Let me finish with the song that my eldest child was born to. It was in a natural birth clinic in Bergen in 2004. I brought my ghettoblaster and my minidisc mixtapes. We arrived at the clinic at midnight. And she was born 02.34 am. At that moment, this song was in the room with us:

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Friend-Family

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This is a photo of me and my son, Linus-Ferdinand. He just turned 3. This picture is taken some months ago. It is the first time I publish a photo of myself on the blog. It is not a new trend I don´t think, there won´t be many pictures of me and my family here. But I feel like showing my face, so to speak. It is nice to have a visual impression of a person who is talking to you. So hello, dear Reader. 🙂

I was going to call this post “Living without Grandparents”.
But then I thought again and called it “Friend-Family”.
The issue of family, or the lack of their physical presence, is an issue that means a lot to me because I live away from my own country.

I have lived away from my hometown since I was 20, the distance never bothered me, I saw my family from time to time and was busy living my life as a student in a university city. But when I had my first child, priorities changed. The baby was kind of a project, and a new life phase, that required grand parents, aunts and uncles. I agreed with my parents when they asked me to come to their home for a weekend every month, so they could connect with their grandchild. We spent 3-4 days at theirs every month, and they would also come to Bergen and visit us. We saw the rest of my big family too, a wonderful bunch of grandparents, great grand parents, aunts, uncles, cousins… I have a big, loving family, full of self irony and collective caring, and I appreciate them immensely.

Back in Bergen, where I had my home, I had close friends who helped me and my daughter, they would come round and we would cook together, they would pick up groeries or take the baby for a walk in the pram while I took a nap. In Norway we call our friends aunties and uncles to our children, so my daughter had lots of aunties and uncles in Bergen.

When we moved to Denmark, we had my husband´s adult children around us. And his mother was the best grandmother anyone could ask for. She would come and stay a few days when life was extra busy for us. She would do puzzles with our middle child over and over again, total patience and never a harsh word. Never. I mean it literally. A very special lady. Gentle, wise and funny. Strong. Healthy and happy. With her on board in our everyday life, we had that helping hand at hand, that a family with small children needs to have available.

Well. She died all of a sudden 30.of September last year. Bacteria attack after a simple operation. I have described that tragedy in an other post. (RollercoasterRide).

We definately feel her absence. My mother comes visiting when she can, 2-3 times a year, and we also go to Norway. But my motherinlaw was the one who came all the time, who noticed the chldren´s first words, first steps, little things in their development.

What is lucky in this context, is that I have been consciously building strong bonds with my friends. Ever since I was alone with my eldest child in Bergen, I have pulled people close, asked for assistance, initiated reciprocal helping eaathother out.

I have continued to do so after we moved to Denmark in 2007:
We have a couple, whome my eldest daughter at the tender age of 3, decided to adopt as an extra set of grandparents. They thought it was sweet and allowed her to call them that.
She has spent the night at theirs many times, they make christmas cookies together every December, Linda teaches my girl to sow…they share a lot of nice things.

In 2008 I was working for the local tv station, and there I met a colleague, he was twenty years my junior but we connected extremely well. (He was 16, I was 36)!
We grew closer and closer, and at some point we decided to adopt each other as siblings. Because we are very much alike in our thinking-feeling about life. So he is my children´s uncle. They love him dearly.
Every Tuesday evening, when my husband goes to work, conducting his bigband (Read the post Not Big Bot Band), Uncle Benjamin comes to our house and plays with the little ones whilst I cook dinner, and after all 5 of us have shared a meal, he puts the girls to bed and reads a book for them, while I put Linus-Ferdinand to bed. After that, if he´s got time, we sit and talk or watch a bit of tv together. Benjamin looks after the kids alone as well, when we need a babysitter. He is just always there for us. And we are there for him. My brother. A true treasure he is indeed.

We also have a family of three whome we are close to. Both parents are teachers, colleagues of my husband´s. And they have a son who is 3 years older than my eldest. So our kids get along great, and so do us grownups. We get together every halloween, and every 30.of December we share a nice meal at their house or ours.
The kids have spent the might at theirs, all three of them together, three times now already they have done so, it happened first time last autumn. They just told us if we wanted, then they would like to have them stay over from time to time. For us, this is… a huge gift. There is nowhere else they can go all three and spend the night. He is still quite little, our youngest. And most people don´t have room for all three of them. It really really is a big help for us.
Now we have also started eating dinner together once a month. Nothing fancy, just the third Thursday every month we meet at ours, next time at theirs and so on…and just have ordinary dinner and then go home again. It helps us stay in touch regularly. And gives us a place to make plans for future meetings.

I also have a good friend who helped us look after the kids while the youngest was born here in our home…
and another good friend who has a daughter same age as my son, we see eachother a lot and help eachother when needed…
and I have one more lovely girlfriend whome I make creative projects with (f.ex.an app which is a tourist information “townwalk”, in Danish and German, it´s called “Fanø Stadtwanderung”, you can find us on facebook too; Fanø App Team)… this friend has also helped me with the young ones many times. They dig her! My son sometimes asks me to sms her and tell her to come visit him! 🙂
And then there is one more who needs a specific mention, she´s the mother of a boy in my eldest daughter´s class, and she has helped me out many times, for ex. by coming to the dentist with me, before they went to kindergarten, I remember one time, she was pushing two trollies outside the dentist´s clinic whilst I got my teeth fixed… she used to have a daycare at home when she lived in Brussels, Danish lady. She is just fantastic with children, I learn a lot from her actually.

Apart from these 6 friend-family-people, and my 4 helpful lovely girlfriends we also have a very friendly neighbourhood.
They are all old friends of my husband´s. Some times we meet in one of the houses and sing together, my husband brings his guitar songbooks, and we drink wine and sing for a few hours.
I have asked several of my neighbours to look after my kids many times, just shortly whilst I went to the midwife´s whilst I was pregnant with the youngest one, for example… they also picked my middle girl up from kindergarten when I was having contractions with the youngest…
My kids also go to visit some of them, I walk them to the gate and they go knock the door and visit. They get a cup of “coffee”, they tell me. Sometimes an icecream. A good conversation. I am very grateful for our lovely neighbours.
They all come to our kids´ birthday parties as well. Together with our other friends, and familyfriends, and family. 🙂

Does it sound confusing? It isn´t. It´s just relationships. Or people relating. What the titles are, isn´t really relevant. It just makes it easier, especially for kids, when the closeness is expressed in a title. It is a label of trust, I guess. He is your uncle. They are our friend-family. She is your neighbour-sister. I can see it makes them relax, it helps them categorize according to their feelings of how close they feel to different people. And it strengthens the bond, too, both for adults and children, when it is said out loud, how far one wishes to invite the other into one´s life.

You know…when someone comes to me and asks me for help. Then I feel happy, that they trust me, and open up to me. And I will reach as far as I can to help them.
To ask others for help, though, is much harder.
But if I never do that, I will not give them the chance to feel that same happness, that I trust them. Why deny others something that I enjoy when they give it to me?
It´s only an offer. A request. One just says no if one can´t help in that specific way at that requested time. No hard feelings. It´s just a question. If one has to say no, one can do it in such a way that one shows one´s goodwill, and please ask again another time.

In this day and age, where so many of us live in a different place from our parents. And even if we live in the same town, grandparents can be busy with their own lives, travelling, doing hobbies… many of us who have young children, do not have the benefits of relying on the extended family anymore.
I think we should all try and reach out to the ones around us, whome we like and we trust. And help eachother out. Single parents… if their kids can go play in the neighbours´ garden, they can go walk the dog or pick up groceries without it being a big deal. For example. Mothers and fathers actually need alone-time to be good parents. Time to gather their thoughts and be undistrubed for a moment! Really. We NEED it. 🙂

I actually do believe that there are quite a few elderly people out there, that miss their grandchildren because they live in a different (part of the) country.
If people were better at expressing willingness to include others and ask for help, I´m sure many elderly people would love to help young families, it would make them feel important and appreciated, it would bring meaning back into their lives, they would not feel so lonely anymore…

There are so many win win situations to create out of this. I´m sure.

There is an African saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Well yes, it does. Every relationship a child has, offers a mirror, a chance for the child to see herself or himself from a special, unique angle. Different eyes discover different things. An old carpenter can spot a talent in a child that his or her parents never noticed… for example…

I will continue to keep noticing those individuals I feel to welcome as a frequent visitor in our home, or to take one or more of the children for a walk or a visit to the cinema or whatever.
I want my kids to have adults to trust besides their parents. Grandma in Norway is not enough, as we can´t be together that often. They have their big sister and big brother of course, my husband´s grown kids. But they live in other towns, busy with their young lives, and that´s how it should be. They come when they can, and we go see them too. They also watch the kids from time to time, when we need help. My eldest daughter has even travelled alone to Copenhagen to spend a weekend at her brother´s, once. (There is a special train that brings (divorced families´) children to the capital every Friday afternoon for the weekend, back again Sunday, escorted by railway employees, so her travelling alone is not as radical as it sounds)…

Yes. It takes a village. And then some. Hahaha…

Social network. Spin those threads, knit them, tie knots.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Together we can do anything.
Sharing resources creates surplus, actually. Something extra, new, appears when we share.
The whole is bigger than the sum of the parts.

You get my drift.

Friends, someone said, is the family that we choose ourselves.
I don´t mean to use friends instead of family. One can do that too, and some times for sure it is necessary and the healthiest option. Plenty of dysfunctional families around.
But in my case, it is not instead of but in addition to.
Because my family members don´t live where I do.
Just want to underline that point.

And if I forgot to mention someone important, I apologize. Aunty Katarina, Aunty Vyan, Sol and Kristin, Brendan and Laila… you all know who you are, and you know that if I forgot to mention you it is just because it slipped my mind, not because you are less imortant than the ones I remembered whilst I was writing this blogpost.

Blood is blood. But Love is Love.
Love is all we need.

🙂

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8/3; International Women´s Day

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I just found this one floating in my Facebook river.
It put a smile on my face and it touched my heart.
So I thought this will be the perfect little way
for me to say
Happy 8. of March today…
May women be seen as the equals that they are.
And may Love prevail.
Look at these people. 4 minutes of eyecontact.
Increasing intimacy. Into me see.
Aren´t we just a spectacular species.
Tremendous, this! 🙂

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A pre teen talk

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My eldest daughter was ten i November. She told us this was her first round birthday, so it was supposed to be a bit bigger than usual. We always throw a party for her class mates, followed by a party for neighbours, friends and family, where the number of guests is larger than our little straw thatched yellow former postoffice from 1789 can hold. But we made it bigger.  Her dad wrote her a song, and I held a speech, listing ten traits I can see in her, telling a little story from her childhood to explain what I meant by for example her being trust worthy, and strong willed…

For her present she got the usual amount of money, this time in cash so she could buy herself a wii console. And then she got a pc version of her favourite game Minecraft as well. She was happy. What makes a party extra special is speeches and songs, isn’t it? It is to me. Feeling seen, understood, treasured. Is what we all need more than most other things.

Last night she wanted to go to bed early, before her siblings (3 & 5, soon), so the two of us could have a talk. It’s wonderful to get those intimate chats one on one with my children. To get the feel for what is stirring in their minds and hearts. In the everyday practicalities, that close contact so easily gets lost when we are all busing about. Anyways. Yes, there we were on the double mattress she shares with her little sister, talking about this and that.

Then  I suddenly started talking about how she is now becoming what they call a pre teen, a child moving into becoming a young person, a teenager. And that I hope that the friendship we have, the trust between us, will stay strong through the years when she thinks everything I do is embarressing and totally hopelessly out of touch with reality. That when the day comes that she does do something against my advice, that she does pick up a phone and call me and ask for my help even though she knows she’s broken a rule or a promise.

She giggled a lot. Then she asked me what do teenagers actually do that is breaking the rules?

I told her that when I was 13, I was not cool at all. Because everybody was supposed to have Levi’s jeans, but my mother had told me it was just a shallow idea and other, cheaper jeans were just as good, so it was stupid to pay extra just for a label. Which I understood and agreed with. So I had no Levi’s, and also no Millet winter jacket nor a Ball sweater. Therefore I could not be with the kids who seemed to be the cool ones.

I told her that teenagers get a lot of new hormones in their bodies, which is changing their bodies from children to adults. And that this makes them very moody, all their feelings get more intense and this makes them very insecure, they don’t know how they are supposed to behave as young adults. So they pretend they know it all to hide they feel insecure.  At the same time, everybody feels very strongly they want to be like everybody else, they want to be “normal”. So when some of the kids, who seem tough, wear certain things, then everybody wants to do the same.  And when the cool kids smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, then most of the others do the same, so they can be cool too. The cool kids will pretend that they have kissed a lot of boys, and so everybody gets stressed because now they too have to start kissing boys so they can feel normal and cool.  Teenagers feel that what their school mates think is much more right and important than what their outdated useless parents think about things, and so they tend to get into some not so wise decisions in those years.

My daughter shouted : “You must lock me up when I become a teenager! Don’t let me out of this house!”

Hahaha… that sentence is what inspired me to write this post… isn’t that complete and utter cuteness. I promised her we will keep her locked up at home through her teens. I think I will have to write a contract, have her sign it, then frame it and give it her for her 14.birthday. Hahahaha….

She asked if all teenagers behave like that, aren’t there any good things they do? I said oh yes, some teenagers don’t do all that mischief, myself for example was lucky enough not to be cool, so I spent my teens listening to music on Radio Luxembourg, making mixtapes, spending all my pocket money on a German music magazine called Bravo, and turning the magazine into poster wallpaper in my bedroom, and gluing pictures of pop idols and moviestars in a notebook, next to self made poems and political slogans. I stayed up late many nights, sitting at my desk writing and drawing and gluing and reading, whilst listening to Duran Duran, Limahl, Wham, Madonna, Prince and Little Steven….

I told her many teenagers spend their time discovering their own interests, many become active in politics, meeting up discussing how to change the world, some sit at home alone or together creating songs with their guitars or pianos…. teenagers have a lot of fresh, emotionally intense energy, it’s a little like their heart is on fire. So each teenager chooses how to use their energy. Some decide they want to be part of a quior in a church and spend their spare time learning about religion. Others decide they don’t want to waste their life on drinking and smoking but want to do their homework properly and aim for a good education that can give them a job they love to do or that gives them a lot of money when they become adults, they invest in their own future, as we say…

My daughter said that’s what I wants to do in my teens. Invest in my future. I said to her, you know you can do a bit of both. Party some times, and still study hard. As long as you don’t party all the time, instead of doing your school work, there is no harm in having fun, that is also needed.

When I was a teen I never drank alcohol until I was 16. All the others started 2-3 years earlier. I watched them drink and lose inhibitions, kiss boys and throw up, stumble around crying, arguing, some saying they wanted to kill themselves… not a very pretty sight. And I was glad to see it from the outside, and not be a part of it. Though it didn’t stop me from drinking later on. I said to her, that day will most probably come when you, against my advice and my forbidding it, will taste alcohol, and you will get sick from it. And my wish is that you that night find a phone and call me and let me come and fetch you and help you home. Because no matter what you do in your life, even if you become a murderer, I will always love you. That’s what it’s like to be a mother, you love your children no matter what. So even when I’m very angry with you, or upset or disappointed, it never means that I don’t love you.

You and I, we have a strong bond between us, because we are honest with eachother. And also we respect eachother’s right to privacy. We don’t read other people’s mail. And you are allowed to have secrets from me. Telling your best friend about the cute boy in school is a lot more fun than telling your mama. It was the same for me when I was a teen and had a best friend I told all my secrets to. Though you may of course always come and tell me anything, I will always be happy to hear what’s going on inside you. You can ask me anything too. I have lived a long life and learnt a lot. If a question is difficult to say out loud, then you can write it to me. I will always listen and take you seriously, try to understand you, and I will give you my opinion openly, and if I don’t know what to answer, I will help you do research to find the answer you need.

She nodded slowly, quietly, smiling. We have had similar talks before. But this one had given her some concrete new details on different things.

When she was five I was pregnant with her little sister, so we read books about how babies are made. I met  all her questions then with total openness. So that issue of birds and bees, is way behind us. Which is nice now. It’s easier to explain such matters to a small child than to a big child, I reckon. Everything is so straight forward with a small child, they are like little curious scientists, eager to find out how everything works, and still free from feeling self conscious, embaressed or afraid to show insecurity… Life to them is strange all the time anyways, sex is no more strange than lots of other things, and they just accept everything as it is presented to them. Those one to one talks about essential issues. They are worth their weight in gold to me.

At this point, her little brother came running into the room, threw himself at us and we tickled him. Soon their sister joined us too, and we were one big lump of tickled children and myself, laughing ourselves into exhaustion before settling into a good night story.

And this was my good night story to you. It is 03:45 in the morning here now. My little boy is resting next to me on the sofa, he is feverish so we got out of bed to get something to drink and to watch the fantastic Japanese animation film Ponyo (his favourite), and to write this piece called a pre teen talk. Hope you enjoyed it. Good night. :0)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About breast feeding

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The following is 3 replies by me in a facebook thread
25.of January -15 … underneath a lovely photo of a woman
breast feeding her newborn. The discussion was on how Facebook censors that kind of pictures as offensive, whilst accepting photos of violence.
One man said he was breastfed until he was 10 years old, and so I replied what i quote underneath. I have not included the man´s words or name, I am only interested in sharing my own view on this subject, which as a matter of fact is an incredibly important one;
How do we culturally view the act of feeding babies the natural way, and what consequences does our cultural definition of it, have?
Here goes: 

I breastfed my eldest until she was three. Seen documentaries of people breastfeeding until the reflex in the child disappears in the teens. Nothing weird about it. If the mother and the child both want to hold on to that unique, bonding interaction, then that is good for them and their choice. Nothing sick about it. What’s sick is people’s eagerness to judge other people.

I too have read that there is measured correlation between breastfeeding and how well the kids do in their studies. Not that I think it is an absolute, i.e.that kids that don’t get it can’t excell too. But it’s definately another reason to follow nature if possible. Immune system also benefits. Mother’s milk is designed for young ones growing. Foolish not to use it. Why do women in some cultures choose not to? It hurts like hell in the beginning. Two weeks is a long time to spend crying while the baby eats. Which is most its awake time. And also, our cultural view on breasts as being meant to look good for men. And looking good does not seem to include being breastfeeding or, worse, how they look when their natural deed is done. If men/media praised breastfeeding, it would, i suspect, strongly reduce the amount of women who fear becoming ugly. Really.
A mother should be looked upon as a superhero. Only she can bring new human life to earth. Mothering is the biggest challenge I know of. I have three kids, all born without painkillers, the two last ones at home in water. All breastfed of course, because I am lucky to be able to. Youngest one is 3 in march, we still breastfeed bedtime and morning, and we will stop gradually some time I don’t know when, it will happen naturally as he grows and we adapt into new needs. Yes this topic is actually a very important one. For feminism, children’s rights, and the sake of… love, for crying out loud. Bullying breastfeeders is just totally ignorant, and has severe consequences for mothers’ self pride and their children’s health. If I was God(dess), I would silence bullies. Period.

Yes, economy, as always, pulls at the puppet strings of society… same in Europe. Although over here at least we get decent parents’ leave for the newborns. Myself I stay at home. Again because I am lucky, to have the (financial) choice. We are pretty broke living off one wages, but other values are more important to us.                                                      In Denmark there is actually a slow but growing trend, that staying at home mothering is a priviledge symbolizing wealth. One can afford to. People have four kids and stay at home nurturing them. Isn’t this a nice turn of fashion?  I don’t say one way of living is better than others. But i do say that society should give families options. Household Leader should be a paid job. I think if it was, then most families would choose to keep one parent in the home those first five years of their little ones’ lives. Maybe that way, even the percentage of divorce would go down. As the years with little kids is the time where divorce happens more than at any other time in the marriage. So yes. Social economy. Big factor. -y.  🙂
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A piece of christmas peace

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Dear reader

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Taking time to read my writtens. Hope it smittens; that you’ll be back and read some more. If you leave a comment I will be extremely overjoyous. But no duty. I´m thankful for your presence,  is the essence.

I just woke up, and thought “I must write a chrismas post”. So here I am, typing away, at my desk by the window upstairs in my house, while it´s still pitch black outside my window. Let´s see where the “pen” takes us:

Yesterday I went with my husband and 3 kids (10, soon 5 and soon 3) to the mainland, the town of Esbjerg. As there is the cutest little gallery there, hidden away in a backyard, called Henneberghus, which is the surname of its owner, Tina.

Now she is a whole story of her own. A painter, a fairytale writer and a hostess so bubbly and gentle and happy and sweet it attracts 30 people every month to her Litterature Salons (I had the pleasure of reading my Norwegian poetry there once too)… musicians from the music academy entertain between the read-ups (Don´t know if read-up is a word but it should be)! … People come back again and again, me for one I´m there every time. A very rare athmosphere, so intimate and relaxed, and spiced with genuine smiles and comfortable laughter. Tina senses any tension present and just simply says something that makes it disappear. True treasure. A word oasis, as she once called her litterature space. That word is hers. Do not take it from this blog and obuse it or say you made it up yourself, you hear! :o)

So we went there, as Tina had invited for christmas “hygge” (a very important Danish word they use all the time, meaning… cosyness…). There were 25 people, or thereabouts, which makes the little gallery in the backyard quite full yet not unpleasantly so. There were chrismas cookies and gløgg (red wine warmed up with cinnamon, raisins and chopped almonds), cocoa and soft drinks, and chairs around a table, sofa along the back wall. So there we were. Meeting up with many faces familiar from the litterature salons through the year that has passed, saying hello to a couple of new faces, and just. Being and smiling. My kids soon met other kids, they started chasing each other around the table, so they were encouraged to go outside and play in the yard, where we could enjoy watching them through the window without hearing them quite as clearly. Handy thing, that backyard placing.

Two ladies from Greenland sang christmas carols for us in their language. I always love hearing people from Greenland sing. Quite something else. Unique style. Heartwarming.

After two hours in the gallery, we left the party after a round of   merry christmas-see you in the new year-hugs. We entered Esbjerg bathed in sunlight and joined the stream of shoppers in the walking street. Father christmas came by, driving a small, red train loaded with people. My kids waved at him, he waved back, big white beard and very fat looking. Just like he´s supposed to look. Lovely.

We found a christmas present for a new relative in my family this year, my sister´s boyfriend´s son, 14 years of age. I bet my niece and nephew (8 and 5) are well chuffed and immensely proud that they now have a big brother! Soon they will all move into a brand new house they are building together. For now they all live in my sister´s house. I so appreciate that my family is not only losing members (talking about my motherinlaw who left 30.09.this year, and my father who left 26.10.2010 especially… the list is long really). My family is not only losing members, but also gaining new ones. I deeply appreciate that.

After that present being bought, the long queue survived with 3 kids and a husband not really wanting to spend their time in there, I left them by the skating ice on the mid town square, that the city always arrange there for the winter months. I left my bunch there to watch all the people skate, and went into another shop. Quickly found what I wanted to buy for my bonus daughter´s boyfriend, but the queue was so long that I decided to drop it. As we had more on our programme, and the clock was ticking.

I went back to the ice, and we decided to go and eat. On the way we saw a man carving Saint Lucy out of a block of ice! Sankta Lucia. Who walks with candles, singing a beautiful, simple hymn of moving with light into the darkness. 13.of December is St.Lucia day in Scandinavia. I don´t know if it´s international. I don´t even know the story behind the tradition properly. It´s one I would like to learn some day. It is very moving to see children in white robes carrying a candle, walking slowly in a long row, while they sing that same, beautiful song I have heard so many times before. It does my heart in.   🙂

We went for a quick burger meal (Sunset, one notch healthier than the other burger chains avalable on the main street there), and then went back to our car and drove to a church a bit out of town. Treenighedskirken. The trinity church, It is a modern white church, inside it has 4 huge triangles meeting in a star shaped point in the middle of the ceiling. 3 of the triangles are glass windows, and my little son said they look like sails which I can only agree with. The fourth triangle holds a balcony where the big church organ is placed. The ceiling is white, with lots of circular “holes” stamped into it, pardon my lack of English skills in explaining this one. All I really want with this description is to say that I appreciate the beauty of church architecture, and I get so pleased when I enter a modern looking church and find they have gone to great length to create a space of esthetics, serenity, sacredness and not the least, good acoustics.

The reason we were in this church, was that my husband´s grown up son Kasper (you can read about his recent wedding elsewhere in my blog)… Kasper used to be a member of the men´s quoir in this church. Which is one of the best quoirs in Denmark, as they have a conductor who actively goes around to the local schools testing boys from the tender age of 8, recruiting the best voices into her quoir, which really functions as a singing school, and they go for trips all around the world together, all these men and the little boys and her, Lone the conductor, isn´t that just greatly inspiring?!

Kasper used to be in this quoir until he moved to Copenhagen to study music. And yesterday they celebrated their 50.birthday and so they invited all the previous members to join the quoir for a concert and following reception and dinner.

The church was full. My youngest one fell asleep in his pram on our way into the building. So he missed the entrance of the quoir, They came in through a double door just next to my seat. They were quite old men, most of them. Then, from the main door, came little boys. They all quietly started singing Deilig er jorden, my favourite chrismas hymn, as they walked in slowly, until they formed a circle around the audience. My skin got all goose bumpy, and remained so for the hour their concert lasted.

I think it´s that goose bumpy feeling that made me wake up knowing I had to write a christmas spirit post today. Christmas is all about goose bumps and teared-up eyes and melted hearts, isn´t it. (For the lucky ones). All about the baby and the mother, the wonder of the mystery, the hope for support and a brighter future. Acknowledging our relations, showing our love for one another through exchanging presents in each other´s appreciated presence. Enjoying the expressions of gratitude, of excited children. Sharing rituals of food and tv programmes and hand held singing around a pine tree decorated with things daddy made when he was a school boy… for example…Rituals. Things we do together, again and again, in a set pattern and rhythm.  It is soul language. It is nurturing our roots, reassuring our belonging in a group. Which is a human instinct. To belong.

After half an hour, my little son woke up, pretty confued, as he wasn´t in the church when he fell asleep. But I managed to pick him up and get his hat and coat off without him making a single sound to disturb the music. He surprised me by just sitting on my lap, all quiet, listening intently. Once, where the soprano voices of the young singers reached a crescendo, he made a gasp. I looked at him. He could feel it just like I could! His eyes all wide, mouth open, he could hardly believe his ears, or maybe rather, he recognized that bell-like sound from somewhere deep in his unconscious…

I whispered to him: “when you are eight years old, you may sing with the other boys there. Would you like that?” “Yes.” he said, not a moment´s hesitation, nodding eagerly. I was quite amazed at that.

Time will tell.  What will be will be. Let it come.

(The only thing I wish for my children, is that they are happy. Whether they sing in quoirs or not, is not connected to my sense of honour. Their path is theirs to find, and I will support them no matter what it is they choose for their happiness).

I think I will fade our of this little snapshot of my yesterday, with the opening poem of my book “Heart Matters”, titled:

Let it come

Patience, precious mode of being

Waiting, watching, feeling, seeing

Landscapes from an eagle´s view

The Flow will guide the Adventure of You

 

Dear reader. I wish you a peaceful christmas time. With good health and a warm heart, with many smiles and a profound feeling of gratitude filling your excistence.

I know it´s not always possible. But this is still my wish.

For you, and for every living creature on this globe.

Merry christmas.

(And if I knew how to incorporate an image of a video piece here, I would import from Youtube the music video of my favourite christmas popsong, “Do they know it´s christmas?” You know, the one with all the pop stars of Britain in it, collecting money for drought victims in Ethiopia. Bob Geldof, Boy George, Duran Duran, Wham, u2, Midge Ure, Darryl Hannah, Sting, Ultravox, …the two guys behind the great song “you´re in the army now`, what´s their names again…   …And all the rest of them eighties popstar people, Thanks for that song. I was about 12 when it came out, and it strongly impacted my idea of what christmas is all about).

Merry christmas.

And may the next year be the best year we have ever seen.

May the best be yet to come.

Peace!

 

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RollerCoasterRide

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It´s Friday today. 3.of Oct. I clearly remember last Sunday. I woke up so happy. My husband and I had been to a silver wedding the night before. He is the conductor of a 17 (wo)man strong bigband, and they were invited as musicians and friends to the silverwedding of the trumpet player in the band. I have been on travels with the band and their partners. Florida 2008. Spain last easter. So it was such a joy to see them all again. We the band were placed on a long table of our own. We were the mischievous guests clinking the plates so the groom and wife had to kiss on a chair, followed by stamping our feet so they had to kiss underneath the table… soon the party was filled with laughter and cries of “CHEERS!” The groom held a most precious speech to his wife. And gave her a new stone for her gold ring, replacing the littler one he could afford as a UN soldier 25 years ago. Not a diamond but a “brilliant” (in Danish, it rhymes with diamant. I never even heard of a brilliant before. But I probably want one now!)

The wife had made a slideshow of stills from their life together. She´s American, her father had come all the way to be present. They have 4 kids, age 15,17,19 and 21. They have spent a handful years in the US. Their kids are very handsome, tall and healthy, three boys and a girl. Totally well behaved and successful in both sports, school and arts. The daughter sang a song beautifully, on the melody of Cohen´s Hallelujah, she had made her own lyrics, all about the love between her parents. Gobsmackingly beautiful performance. And the four kids stood up and held a speech together, in turn telling their mom and dad how they were grateul to them and so proud of their family.

It was a night filled with expressed love, so much of it, so openly flowing naturally around the big room with the many guests.
After food, we danced. Not Big Bot Band is a tremendous party band. My husbands is such an enthused conductor, I always fall madly in love with him when I see him work. My band-wife friends are so funny, I was laughing with them like I had not laughed in a long time.
We came home around 03, completely and utterly exhausted. In the happiest of ways. All shook up and blissed out.

Next morning was the first morning we woke up in an empty house. No kids woke us up, demanding hot cocoa on the sofa by the telly. Sweet luxury. All three of them were sleeping over at a friend-family of ours. First time our youngest one ever slept away from home without one of his parents. It was a great success. New times ahead.

We got up and had a slow brunch. Decided to go pick up the kids around 12, and stayed for lunch at our friends´ place before we biked back home. We looked forward to visiting grandma in hospital, where she had been admitted the day before because she was feeling nauseous. Since she had been operated for breast cancer five days previously, we thought it was best to get her checked out, and the hospital had agreed.

We bought the bananas she had asked us to bring, and brought some books. She´s an author, and loves to read.
Hospital days can be so long.
When we arrived to her room where we had seen her the day before, she wasn´t there. We found a nurse. Who told us she had been moved because she was feeling bad. After some waiting around, we came to her new room. She was in pain. But happy to see us, holding the children´s hands, smiling to them, saying their names. The doctor said they were going to change her treatment to an other type of antibiotics. And said there was no great danger for her.

The next morning, my husband went to see her on his way to work. She was asleep, he could not reach her. Some hours later his adult daughter went to visit grandma, and found out they had moved her to intensive care as she had suddenly became a lot worse. I found myself calling my husband´s workplace to make them find him and tell him to get to the hospital. Then followed hours of hooking up with family members, spreading information. All whilst trying to keep calm for my little children´s sake.

Late afternoon they scanned her, to see where the pockets of inflamation in her body were. They found that bacteria had destroyed such a big part of her flesh, that it could not be removed without killing her. They told my husband and daughter she could not be saved. I was home, alone with the kids, phone in hand. Shock.

Eleven at night I left them with a babysitter, and went to the intensive care unit. My husband and his two grown kids were there. And my motherinlaw. All those machines. Cables. Tube down her throat helping her breathe. My heart broke.

Five in the morning I sailed back home, and woke my kids one by one, telling them we were going to the hospital immidiately because grandma was very ill and was going to die.
We found clothes, had a cup of cocoa and went out into the dark morning to the ferry. Linus-Ferdinand in the trolly, Viola standing on the back of it and Lava age soon to be ten walking next to me.

We arrived about seven. The two small ones looked at grandma, and then started to play with some lego. There were two rooms, like a little sitting room attached to the bigger room where grandma was lying. An extra nurse took care of the children, finding toys, paper and crayons…

My husband, our three bigger kids and myself were so sad. She was so close to us. So special. Positive and supportive, with a very rare level of inner peace and love for children. We were very strongly connected.
Friday we had celebrated Maria´s birthday together, singing as usual, eating. Though grandma didn´t eat much as she was so nausous. We thought she might be coming down with flu. Next morning we called the hospital that operated on her. They told us not to worry, the symptoms had nothing to do with her operation. We still went to the local hospital, and they agreed to admit her, gave her liquids and penicilin.
Now it was Tuesday early morning. It was 3 days after the birthday dinner. It was our deeply beloved grandmother´s dying day.

She was kept alive by the machines, supporting her breathing and her blood pressure. The doctors told us that when we were ready they would switch off the machines and her body would die. Maybe quickly, or maybe hours. She would be given painkillers, so she would not struggle for breath. It would not be traumatic to be present. I decided to stay with the children all the way through.

We stood around her, the five of us, whilst the two littlest ones were playing happily in the background. Actually a sound of great comfort. They came by from time to time, looked at us crying, and at grandma, then went into play and laughter again. The five of us stood around her and talked to her all about how much we loved her. How sad we were to see her go like this. And that soon she would be reunited with granddad, and may her journey be jouful……… we sang some of the songs we always used to sing together with her.
We asked the nurse if she could find a guitar. No one had ever requested that before, when she called around the hospital, people asked “A guitar?! For the intensive careunit?!” We all thought it was rather funny. In the end they did find one in the kids´ department. It was brought to us, and we played some more songs.
A tear appeared in the corner of grandma Ellen´s eye. Her son immidiately saw it, and gently wiped it away comforting her. He was so extremely caring towards her. So soft and reassuring and comforting, between breaking down in tears. Those hours were so extremely intense. So sad. And so precious and beautiful.
Anyone who has been present on a deathbed must know what I mean by this.

Two more relatives joined us later in the morning. A young couple, her grandson and his wife. Their two little kids were not with them.
We were happy to see them, and delayed switching the machines off a little longer, so they could have time with her in peace.

Around ten we told the doctor we were ready to start the disconnecting. They switched off some buttons, and gave her an injection of painkillers. So there we were. Watching the screens. One with her breaths drawn, one by one, depth and length. Waves. And one with the red number showing her blood pressure. She just breathed and breathed and breathed. Whilst we were holding our breaths. Minutes passed, half hours. We went to and fro, realizing our stomachs were empty and our bladders full. Interacting with the children. I pushed my son in the pram back and forth in the long hospital corridor until he fell asleep for a much needed nap. It was like waiting for birth to happen. And in my view, death is exactly that. Another birth.

Once he was asleep I went back to her room and joined the circle. No news. Fifteen minutes later, everyone decided to go for a quick bite to eat in the cafe downstairs. I wanted to stay with grandma, but someone had to go with the kids, and my husband was going to stay. So.
We went downstairs and ate. Leaving Helge and Ellen to themselves.
He played guitar and sang to her. Just like he had done so very many times throughout their lifetime together.
When we returned fifteen minutes later, her bloodpressure had dropped from 171 to 60!!!
We sat down quickly, all taken aback. Her red number went down very fast. 35,34,33,32,30…
Instinctly I moved up close to her face and I saw her eyes make a spark! A jolt of joy jumped through my chest, and I said “There! You arrived! You´re there now…! That´s so great…”
I was very moved, but very happy.
Strange contrast to the many hours passed crying and sobbing.
Then after many seconds, she drew breath again. And after what seemed like ages, one more last time.
But I actually don´t believe she was still in her body. I don´t know if a heart and lungs can make an extra couple of beats after departure of the spirit/conscious soul. I don´t know.
But I feel pretty sure now that they can.
That spark and that jolt of joy. That was not of my creation.

So she left. Left us behind to grieve and sorely miss her love and graceful sharing. No more puzzles to be laid, books to be read, movies to be watched together with her and my children. No more glasses of wine, and late night talks with her and my Helge in our sofa. No more visiting her in her home in the woods.

It is Friday today. Third whole day without her. We are in limbo. Days and nights join in a circle of waking up, crying, writing, talking, making phonecalls, choosing coffin and urne, making a newspaper add, sorting through her purse looking for id cards, searching through her phone for numbers, sending information about her life to the priest, talking to the organist.

Her pillow and duvet have been moved from the guest room to the sofa, the kids and I seek comfort there… my daughter wears her scarf. I tried her coat on yesterday. It fits me almost, just a littlebit too big. I hope I can keep it. It´s the one she always wore, purple, her favourite colour. As is mine.

Tomorrow is her funeral. A lot of people are expected to turn up in the church. She was such an uplifting spirit, with many friends and relatives who used to go visit her and invite her over. A very social woman, loved parties, wrote hundreds of birthday songs for people, and at age 88 she looked 70, and was still driving her car to and fro her house in the woods where she lived all alone, enjoying her solitude. She enjoyed her own company. She published eleven books after she finished her working life. Mostly novels for youth, draped in local history. Some of them have been translated into German.

Tomorrow is her funeral. That just sounds crazy. She is my closest family member here in Denmark, apart from my husband and kids. She is the one who shares the joy of watching the little ones grow. She is our babysitter and our daytrip destination. She.

Tomorrow is her funeral. She has left us lists of wishes for her funeral. It says in her handwriting that “Helge will play something beautiful in the church”. She has chosen 4 psalms. She has decided the text for the tombstomne.
“I hjertet gemt aldrig glæmt”.
“In the heart kept never forgotten”.
She has written a list of who will have which pieces of her jewelry.
My name is there. In her handwriting.
A bracelet made of copper and amber.
And a necklace with the symbol of faith, hope and love.
I feel so honoured. So seen by her.
She has given me so much self confidence these seven years we got to share. We have shared so many special talks.
About the love of writing, especially.

One of the last things she said to me, last thursday when she had just started to feel nausous and we spent the day watching a film on the sofa with the kids… she said she heard I have started blogging. She really wanted to see it. I said yes ofcourse, great! I will show you as soon as you get better. And I need your help to read through a letter I will send to the local paper, help me check it for spelling mistakes, make it proper Danish, will you? Of course I will, be glad to, she said, smiling at me, that warm, all present smile of hers.

We had so much planned. Helge´s musical is being staged 30.of October, with a quoir of more than a hundred school children singing his songs. She was going to come with us and see it.

She was.

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The we in wedlock

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I just arrived home again, having been to Copenhagen for 5 days.
Been to my husband´s oldest son´s wedding. (In Denmark they call their partner´s kids their “bonus-kids”. So he´s my bonus-son. I have a bonus-daughter as well. I´m truely lucky to have them).

We have had the pleasure of seeing Kasper and his Fie tie the sacred knot of twosome togetherness. Exchange little bands of gold, slipped gently around each others´ happy fingers.
Two lovely people in their twenties, having been together for eleven years already, their thriving baby son a living proof of the joyous warmth between them. Love moves people. Long Live Love.

There was a huge party. About a hundred people. Family and friends. Speeches and home made songs about the couple, lots of different bands on stage, as the groom is a very active guitarist. Her girlfriends made a speech together, and his childhood mate did a funny quiz. There was splendid food, open bar, the wedding cake, and after the bridal waltz, the groom´s socks were cut in two with scissors, by his male friends. Possibly to demonstrate that his new wife will know how to sow the socks back together? I´m not sure. Traditions can be pretty weird. In this case funny weird.

In the wedlock ritual, wellknown from previous experience by everyone present, a circle was formed.
All these smiling people, dancing, singing the praise of romance… we all belonged this evening in the circle of Kasper and Fie.
A community whose members don´t meet normally, other than
in little groups. As we are spread across the country.
To see all their people together, see everyone shake hands and some who never met before, start to get to know each other…
It´s hard to find the words to express the significance of this.

It creates one shared understanding of the couple´s essence.
It creates a bond, not only between the newlyweds,
but between central people in their network.

Basically it creates a superfine spider-web
spun between hearts, with soft and silky wedding-thread.

(It´s tempting to make two more rhyming lines there, but I think I will try to stop myself. The image deserves to stand alone, somehow).

The ritual of wedding, makes a milestone.
Marks a togetherness.
It is a great investment by the couple, in my humble opinion.

Stating two people´s wish to stand united through time.
A symbol of hope and faith for everyone connected to the two.
Not faith as in God save us all or the queen.
But faith as in courage to hold on, to believe it can be done,
that the commitment to romance is worth fighting for.

Lighting up the flames of passion, of compassion, of Love eternal.
Inviting everyone close, to come participate in the celebration.
An honour. A great gift given to each guest. A heartmelting experience that will remain in all of us as a precious, fond memory for the rest of our lives.

The we in wedlock. Includes many more than only two.
Is what I want to say.
The weekend´s party´s left me with an attitude of gratitude.
New warmth glowing in my heart. I´m positive this we is here to stay.

Like the groom sung in his speech;
“I will fight for the right to love you.”

(Backed-up by his band The Grenadines. They promised that his wedding song will be released as the first track on their album no.2. Too late for their album no.1, as it is to be released any day now. Check them out on Facebook. Beautiful melodic music).

Long Live Love.
Ever-lasting Love.
Dance me to the end of Love.

:o)

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