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8 posts from October 2006

October 29, 2006

And the third annual Dinoia Halloween Open House

Img_0483 is already in the planning process due to the success of yesterday's "best English-speaking party I have been to in a long time" according to one guest.  Other comments included: "thank you for a great party" and "the kids had a whale of a time and we saw friends we have been meaning to catch up with for ages".

I know, in this day and age, throwing a party seems like a somewhat insignificant issue.  However, the thought of entertaining our 87 guests (many of whom were age 12 and under) did have me in a bit of a tizzy.   I relaxed once the arrivals started and was stunned by the generosity of the gastronomic delights.

We were treated to an array of international cuisine including, but not limited to, Icelandic, American, Danish, Norwegian, French, Philipino and German.    The guests mixed and mingled, new expats were introduced to the more seasoned, contact information was exchanged and a great multi-cultural appreciation of Halloween was had by all.  I was also extremely grateful the weather cooperated for both trampoline use and apple-bobbing.

So, yes, if you are in the greater Reykjavik area next year, the Open House will be the weekend of or before Halloween.  I think I have finally also learned my lesson: despite the stigma, I will buy Halloween candy in August, as otherwise, it may not get here in time!

NOTE:  Not many pictures from yesterday, just one of the girls in costume.  Check the flickr badge for more photos of the grasker carving tonight.  More photos are coming, courtesy of a partygoer.

October 27, 2006

Did I mention that we have

97 RSVPs for tomorrow's Second Annual Halloweeen Bash?  Ah, yes, forgot that, didn't I?  Luckily, this year we came to our senses and are opening up the second floor to partygoers.  Not to make our house sound like a museum (anything but), but the addition of the playroom and the girls' room to the fray festivities should allow for better flow.

We are heading into the winter tourist season, so all the prep work for this party is readying the house for any other visitors we might have.  Right now, we have one family slated for a night in December, but would love to have more...mmm, Northern Lights, Skyr and the Blue Lagoon....

Look for pics (hopefully) tomorrow of Supergirl, Stephanie and their frazzled entourage...

October 24, 2006

Look who's in the news, now...

Outlook1 yep, Caitlin D. again. The story is about the school, but when said school is extremely unique, photo ops are aplenty.  And, no, she was not interviewed, but a cute pic, yes?  And, of course, the oh-so-Icelandic skirt over the pants trick ..which confused me until my first Icelandic winter!


Off to prepare for the Caitlin & Kelsey's Second Annual Halloween Fest with 54 RSVPs and counting.  We think we had about 60 guests last year and have a feeling we will go way over that on Saturday, but it should be fun!

October 22, 2006

Live from Helsinki

it's an exhausted Jen.  I spent the weekend in Finland with the International Womens Club of Reykjavik and have managed to do way more than I anticipated in such a short time.

We visited a gorgeous temple Temppeliaukion Kirrko (and you thought Icelandic was hard!) yesterday, did some shopping at iittala and Stockmann, and went to Cosi Fan Tutte at the Ooppera House.  Today we visited the home of Pekka Halonen in Tuusula and the Lotta Museum not far away.  I have to promise more details and photos later as my time at the computer is almost up and it is 3 € per half hour (yes, the laptop will go next time).

On the other hand (and yes, some will not believe me), mainland Europe is so inexpensive!  Not that costs don't add up, but it is not at all comparable to Iceland.  A marvelous 3-course meal here can be had for 43€,and it is unheard of to have the equivalent in Reykjavik. 

While we have not been here for terribly long, and will return home tomorrow, I do hope to come back with Peter and the girls.  It is a beautiful country and it is so close to so many other European cities and, of course, Russia.

Kiitos to Helsinki for a beautiful visit...l

October 13, 2006

If you squint realllly hard and

look to the right of each photo on the Embassy homepage , you can see...the back of my head!  Just look for the black shirted, oh, wait, this is Iceland (everyone wears black)...Yes, Pete and I attended this concert in support of many our friends to include Seth Sharp and Gunnar Gunnarson.  Unfortunately, Gunnar did not end up playing as the piano was not up to his standards.  However, given his talent, we know we will have a chance to hear him play in the future.

Seth and his band were great, of course!  They performed a wide array of songs and we were quite impressed with all, especially the cellist.  While we (okay, I) have heard Seth perform before, we had not heard the band play as one.

If you are wondering, you can see the back of Pete's head in the second picture.  You know those security folk, love to be in the background!  Oh, and Magnus Scheving, the creator of Lazytown, was one table over.  Course, Pete had already spoken with him on Saturday.

Why?  Well, we were invited to the Lazytown staff special screening of two new episodes (too new to have been dubbed yet!) in High Definition at Kringla.  The kids were thrilled, especially Kelsey "Stephanie" Dinoia who was dancing in her seat most of the time.  Pete complimented Magnus on the shows while I waited for him to do a flip.  No flip, but weird not to see him in full "Sportacus" costuming.  As Pete said, "Great work, Magnus!"  Yep, Iceland's so small, we are all on a first-name basis!

October 12, 2006

A Wasp in the Harbor

or why everyone has been jumping this week.  The U.S.S. Wasp will arrive soon and Saturday morning, we will receive a tour of it. 

One can imagine I had quite the time explaining to Kelsey why she would have to miss Mother Tongue class and in fact, I gave up and told her maybe she could go for part of the lesson.  She is very excited as we bought a special glue stick (in the local store, gasp) for Mother Tongue homework and she must use it.  Last week, her homework was displayed as an example of how to complete one's assignments, so I think she is probably pretty proud of herself and doesn't want to miss a minute.

Caitlin, on the other hand, was thrilled to hear she could miss dance class but doesn't realize (yet) that she will actually have to get up even earlier.  She keeps trying to tell me that she 'doesn't understand the teacher' but her argument grows weaker by the day.  They now have a dedicated Icelandic teacher at school and they are really working diligently.  When she gets home, there are times when she and Kelsey speak to each other exclusively in Icelandic.   I think she will enjoy the tour though, and learn a little bit.  Okay, we can all learn a little bit!

Then the day will then be even more fun for them as they get to have a sitter in the evening so we can attend a reception.  I toyed with the notion of actually buying a cocktail dress on the local economy, but luckily, a suit will suffice as part of the reception will be outdoors...on a boat...in the harbor...in Reykjavik..think much wind and rain always a possibility. 

And, yes, if we are not blown away, will attempt a few photos (if that steely-eyed security guy says it is okay!)...

October 11, 2006

Pete sticks to his guns

(figuratively) and we appreciate it!  He managed to recently turn a very negative situation (that had been for days) into an almost immediately positive situation with only a few words. 

Nope, not trying to be mysterious, but the issue is simply something too long and complicated. However, for what he did, he is a man among men and that does need to be said!

October 02, 2006

Toys R Iceland

Not to begin on a completely different topic, but yes, the lack of recent write-ups indicates the sad (?) truth:  we have been busy!!  Compared to last year, we have little down time, and it is such a welcome change.

We do miss our sojourns to the Icelandic countryside, but will hopefully recommence with those soon.  The point is, we have been busy living our lives this year, rather than wondering at what point we would feel somewhat assimilated into this extremely family-oriented and close-knit society.

And speaking of Iceland, or its language, a certain someone is going to be fluent very soon.  Little Kelsey has taken to speaking sentences in Icelandic, even at home.  She can count to 20 (12-20 not in the right order) and easily switches between the languages.  Not only does she answer correctly, but the nuances and cadences are correct, which brings me to my first point:

If you plan on spending your child's toddler/preschool years overseas or have thought about language immersion, go for it!  I am not kidding when I say it is that pre-reading is the EASIEST time for them to learn a language.  Why am I having any difficulty speaking when I can read some Icelandic?  Well, because I try to pronounce based on what I read and my reading is, of course, rooted in the English language.  Hence, I don't always put the emPHAsis on the right syLLAble.

Kelsey has no such notions.  She hears the language correctly and repeats it.  She learns the words by listening, not by reading and sounding out based on English language skills.  I can only say it is a mind-expanding experience and if your child has the opportunity, exploit it (in a good way) for all it is worth. 

Still wondering about the title?  I found out tonight (sadly) that Toys R Us is coming to Iceland.  They are going to build a huge store in the middle of the lava fields of Garðabaer.  If you haven't seen the area, it is absolutely gorgeous and (for the most part) undisturbed.  Just the other day, Cait and her friend Heiða spent an hour trekking through the lava fields by themselves, pretending they had to live off the land.  They came back relaxed and happy with boxes of freshly-picked berries. 

There is already the construction of a new Ikea disrupting the landscape. The lights of the blue and yellow superpower will soon shoot through the previously seamless view.  Now I have learned that there will be another store glowing in the distance.  As some of you already know, the lack of Toys R Us makes us very happy here.

Yes, we stock up in the States:  on future gifts for friends and family.  The kids are used to seeing unwrapped gifts in the 'gift closet' and know they will be used for distant birthday parties.  What they are now not used to is the constant bombardment of toy commercials.  They rarely, if ever, watch 'regular' tv here.  I discovered the latest season of the Sopranos recently, but it doesn't come on until 10 p.m., hours after the girls have drifted off to sleep.

The sad thing is that the toys will be no less expensive here, yet people will flock to the store anyway.  They will pay more for the Barbies that will clutter their homes and the computer games that will keep their kids inside on gorgeous days (which are sometimes rare here).  I can only hope that Icelanders will choose to forego the 'cheaper' toys to prevent future expansion, if nothing else.  I know we would be thrilled as after all, we left the States to see the rest of the world, not the States in the rest of the world.