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10 posts from May 2006

May 29, 2006

And two more makes six...

Img_0139 Img_0140 Well, on this absolutely gorgeous day in Reykjavik (had to be at least 50 or so F), we adopted two new family members:  a hamster and a guinea pig. With the base closing, many small animals were losing their homes as it would be too difficult (or not legal) to transport them.  We are now the proud 'parents' of "Cheddar" (formerly known as "Pig") and "Brownie" "Hammie"* (formerly known as "Flake"). 

They did belong to a classroom at the base elementary school, but now are happily ensconced in our home with their new caretakers, Caitlin and Kelsey.  You have never seen two happier girls! 

Their mom is quite happy as a number of plants were also adopted.  The house looks much cheerier and definitely more colorful.  The white walls were really beginning to get to us!

PICS above:  Cheddar, Brownie Hammie and their new "mom" giving them some outdoor time

*Yes, as of 5/30/06, Hammie's name has been changed to Brownie.  Cheddar is still cheddar.

May 21, 2006

Bouncing Around

So, Pete spent 4 hours in the backyard today being a great Daddy and look what the kids have now!  OH, and by the way, it was about 6 degrees or so when these shots were taken and no, they were not bothered at all....


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May 17, 2006

Prairie Home Reykjavik


Yes, the cast and crew of Prairie Home Companion arrived in Reykjavik a few days ago and last night held their first live performance in Iceland.  I have never been a huge fan, but that did not stop me from going as

A.  I was not a fan primarily because I had never really listened to it growing up.  Therefore, figured I should hear more about it.

B.  I was going through yet another "I am bored out of my mind, what am I going to do for another two years here day"

C.  The ticket was free!

Fear not, the boredom is not due to Iceland itself, but rather mitigating factors that I am going to not discuss for the moment.  Or perhaps I will just create an anonymous site somewhere so I can completely go off on the lack of ...oops, there I go again!

So, after we watched the live show (that was 3 hours long, not 2 as we originally thought), we headed to the Ambassador's Residence for a reception for the cast and crew at the none-too-early hour of 11 p.m..  All but John C. Reilly, a special guest, were in attendance.  It was very nice (read:  yummy appetizers and interesting people!) and we were able to mix and mingle for several hours.

I was quite impressed with the work of one cast member in particular, the sound effects person, Fred Newman.  He has a MBA from Harvard and has been a part of tons of films and shows using nothing more than his body and a few select items to create some pretty amazing sounds.  I was impressed not only with his work, but also his manner.  He was extremely friendly and even tried to insist we had met before.  Well, no, but okay, I am all for pretending my life is more exciting than it is at the moment.

I thought I got a picture with Fred, but may have only been with Garrison.  So, the first picture is other Embassy staffers, Garrison and myself and the second is of the two of us.  And, now, perhaps I should try to get some sleep.  Or, what the heck, maybe I will just stay up and enjoy the remaining 22 minutes of our ninth wedding anniversary watching Band of Brothers with Peter...or not...

Oh!  If you want to hear the show that will be broadcast on Saturday May 20, check out their site here to locate your station!

May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

It was a fairly quiet but nice Mother's Day.  No breakfast in bed, but we had planned on brunch at the base anyway.  Caitlin was excited to attend her first post-First Communion mass and then spent Sunday School making a beautiful Mother's Day card for me.  I received several gifts of DVDs from Pete and the girls and he even cooked dinner!

The only sad part of the day were the things I couldn't do.  No calls, notes, cards or flowers for Mom.  It has been almost 6 months since she died and at times, it still feels like I got the phone call yesterday.  At some point I will order a stone for the grave, but hardly the gift I wanted to give her.  Not something I saw myself doing for another 30 years or more. 

So, since I can't say it in person, I will simply say "thank you" to her here.  It is a thanks to her for being such a wonderful grandmother. 

The most depressing part about her death is that she will miss so much with the girls.  She loved them so much, yet did so without overwhelming them.  I never knew how she managed to do it;  the minute the girls walked in the door, she was their grandma.  However, if they were antsy from a long drive or simply wanted to run around, she never took offense.

I always admired her for it and never figured out until she died that she did read a book called The Grandmother Principles.  I paged through recently and realized so much of the advice: don't nag and nitpick, don't force yourself on them (especially when in a long-distance relationship) and really enjoy  your time with them seemed to come straight from the book.

Knowing Mom, she would have probably embodied these ideals regardless of a book.  However, given how her grandkids did not live next store, I think she read the book as a primer for understanding how others had maintained quality long-distance relationships with their grandchildren. She truly took the advice to heart and it was amazing how free she was with them when they were with her.  She didn't expect more than they could give and wasn't hurt when they were shy or tired.  For that, I thank you, Mom.  Happy Mother's Day to a wonderful, loving Greema.


May 13, 2006

Viking Village


Thursday we spent the day at the Blue Lagoon and dad learned all about an Icelander's idea of relaxation.  He was a little worried that we might be cold, since the air temp was probably no higher than 8 (his first cold day here!).  However, his fears were unfounded as he waded into the water and realized that the rising steam kept him toasty warm whether or not he was completely immersed.

In fact, he realized that it was beneficial to have the cooler air, as the water was almost too warm at times and in certain parts of the lagoon.  After about 45 minutes of soaking, floating and enjoying the massaging waterfall, we headed to the restaurant and enjoyed the famous "fish soup".  The fish is so fresh here that you would be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that did not serve several fabulous meals centered around shrimp, mussels and other fruits of the sea. 

As we enjoyed our lunch, I realized I was already quite tired and not so ready to cook dinner that night.  Okay, I was also trying to avoid another trip to the Hagkaup the local market with fresh but pricey produce.  Thankfully I then remembered Viking Village, a touristy attraction in Harfnarfjordur (say that fast 10 times!). 

It also occurred to me that Stefan, one of Peter's employees, works there as an entertainer.  Pete feared it would be booked, but luckily I was able to secure a reservation.  After entering, we were greeted by Stefan and met the resident parrot, who mimicked a very clear 'hello'.  We headed upstairs and immediately were treated to songs by Stefan and a fellow Viking. 

We ordered dinner and while 4 of us stuck with relatively calm menus, Peter decided to try the Viking feast, which included appetizers of shark and dried haddock.  Luckily, he was given a shot of Brennavins to help the shark go down smoothly. 

So, Dad enjoyed his final evening in Iceland in true Viking style and we were glad to discover the entertainment value of Viking Village!  Anyone else for the Viking Feast??

NOTE:  The first picture is of Stefan (right) and his co-Viking.  The second is after Pete swallowed his tasty bite of shark - yum!

May 10, 2006

A Day at Eldhestar


We decided to go expand our scope of exploration in Iceland and today took a trip on horseback courtesy of Eldhestar .  It was about 1.5 hours of riding Icelandic horses through creeks, lava fields and the mandatory Icelandic mud.  It was a great trip despite a few bugs (yes, they do exist here) and although we might be a bit tired, it was well-worth any exhaustion.

After a light lunch at the Eldhestar hotel, we headed on to Thingvellir and Dad was able to stand between the continents.  The view was spectacular, of course, and did I mention the weather?  It has not rained in 5 days!  It has been sunny and warm with no hail, snow or sleet!  The sky has been slightly cloudy at times, but that is about it.  You can tell Dad is beginning to wonder if the "bad weather" we talked about it isn't just in our heads.  Fear not, it will return the minute he steps on the plane and takes the nice weather back down South!

May 08, 2006

Hot Spots & Clear Water

Img_0117 We had a little tourist action happening today.  Dad wanted to get out and see some of the more hidden areas, so we visited Krýsuvík, Grænavatn, Kleifarvatn and Seltún. 

As any Icelander knows, there is very little to the town of Krysuvik (as far as number of buildings) however, the land is beyond description. It is the home to Grænavatn, a gorgeous green lake that is super-clear.  After a bit of hiking, we turned around and headed back.  On our way back (but still in the gravel road areas) we stopped at Seltún and then Kleifarvatn.  Dad was enormously impressed by the sulfurous hot springs.  I was impressed that it didn't rain a drop the entire morning, and in fact, I was too hot with a jacket on.

We had to clear out once the tourists arrived, as it was hard to capture the peace and quiet of Iceland with so many of them practically leaning into the boiling water.  Apparently the signs asking them to remain on the sidewalks and respect the environment were not in their language?

Our final stop was at Kleiravatn, a huge gorgeously clear lake with beaches of midnight-black sand.  Well, midnight in the States as our midnight has already brightened considerably.  Since Dad is taking pictures with a film camera, I took a few photos with the digital so those of you stateside could get an early glance.

Oh, and after we arrived in Reykjavik, we stopped for a visit at the Pearl.  We had a nice light lunch at the cafe and then took advantage of the gorgeous weather with a photo op.


NOTE:  More information about the above sites can be found at Orkustofnun and The Pearl.

May 07, 2006

Caitlin's First Communion

We don't have all of the pictures yet, but look down to the left for a new album with a few photos of the special girl at her celebration!  Oh, and we could not make it to Humarhusid last night, so we will be going Monday night at 7 p.m. 

May 05, 2006

He's Here!

Yes, our very first guest to our Icelandic home has arrived.  Grandpa Kirk flew in this morning and is safe and sound and off to take a nap.

We were going to all traipse out to the airport this morning, but at the last minute Peter realized that 2 of us were comatose and the third was not much better.  He thoughtfully volunteered and it was probably a good thing as Caitlin was hard to rouse at her regular wake-up time.  Luckily, they made good time back from the airport and Cait got to see Grandpa before the taxi picked her up.

Kelsey woke up an hour later and was very excited to see him.  After a quick breakfast, we took Kelsey to school and Grandpa Kirk enjoyed his first experience of "sidewalk parking".  His exact words, "Um, is it okay to park here?"  My response, "Thank goodness no one else had taken this spot!  Yes, sidewalk parking is very big in Reykjavik.

So, that is about it for now.  After the nap, we will get Caitlin, head to the bakari in Mosfellsbaer, get Kelsey, have dinner, drop the kids off at home with the sitter and stop by a Cinco de Mayo party.  Tomorrow will be even busier as we have the First Communion brunch in the morning and First Communion itself at 5 p.m.  Which reminds me, I have to make dinner reservations at Humarhusid for the dinner immediately following. 

It should be lots of fun!  Look for more pictures tomorrow.  OH, and many, many thanks to Gretchen for the last-minute acquisition of the gorgeous dress, veil, purse, sweater and tights!  Always exciting to find out your extremely slender daughter has outgrown her dress widthwise (not heightwise for a change) 5 days prior to the event in a country where First Communions are rare!

May 04, 2006

Going at her own pace

and speeding right along.  Yes, Caitlin has surpassed her teachers' expectations for her reading for the school year.  They expected her to finish off the year at a beginning 4th grade reading level.  Instead, she is already at a 4-5th grade reading level and using the same reader as the oldest child in the school. 

I can only say that if I didn't already love her school, I certainly would now.  I also enjoyed reading at her age and always read above grade level .  Unfortunately, my school wanted to keep the classes at the same pace and place and didn't allow extra work for anyone.  The result?  Boredom and disenchantment with the school and my classes.  I am so glad there are programs out there that understand that children are different and able to work with their individual needs, rather than the teacher's overall goal!

Go, Cait!