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6 posts from May 2007

May 21, 2007

It's Like Being Home Again

Back in ye olde college days, I remember a distinctly Washington, DC, phenomenon.  Just as one would pull out the shorts and start planning a beach weekend (Crazy Train, anyone?), mid-Mayish, the weather would go from fabulously warm to suddenly cold.  Okay, it would drop from nearing 80 to high 50s/low 60s.  It would recover rather quickly, but seemed to happen every year, second or third week of May, like clockwork.

So, today, after several sunny days that were well (for us) above freezing, we had a surprise wintry blast this morning.  When I first looked out the kitchen window, I thought Cait's taxi driver had a new car, as it was now white.  As I turned the corner, and looked out the front window, I realized it was just the two inches of snow on top of said taxi. 

It snowed and hailed throughout most of the day, although there was little or no accumulation.  Since today was the big field trip to the 871 plus or minus 2 (I swear that is the name) museum, the weather solidified the idea that we might host all 17 students and 4 teachers at the house for lunch.  Given our house is about a 5 minute walk, we couldn't really say no....and the kids were quite well-behaved.  Bailey is still recovering from Too Much Attention, but he and the guinea pig came through otherwise unscathed.

May 18, 2007

Garden Beauties

Snipshot_e419ofn6i488   Kelsey and Caitlin gave us homemade bouquets for our 10 year (honk - TEN YEARS!*) anniversary yesterday.  They consisted of many flowers from our garden, tulips notwithstanding.

Kelsey did not have enough fun cutting the flowers yesterday, so she opted for a few more today.  This gave me a small but cozy bunch of tulips for the windowsill.  As you can see, one would be hard-pressed to not believe that Spring had sprung in Reykjavik...despite the fact that the thermometer still hovers around 5 degrees Celsius most of the time. 

*Fun time:  Name the quote (no semantics) and win the always-available free stay in Reykjavik...

May 11, 2007

Sneak Preview

Img_0779After finding the little girl asleep in a bed down by the harbor, Cait and I explored from the Harbor area up to Seltjarnarnes .  Although the bike and walking paths are not yet repaired, we had a nice ride.

We also took a little stroll down to the (very cold!) beach and Cait added to her Reykjavik sea glass collection.  We decided the easiest path was up Hringbraut and then the safest way would be around the circle.  As we rode closer, we realized there were several cars and a large flatbed with a broken bus on top. 

Thinking it was yet another art exhibit, I didn´t realize until a few moments later that it was the father of the young ´girl´who strolled through Reykjavik today.   His head was covered as he rested quietly waiting for the exciting conclusion to his journey tomorrow.

The Little Giant Sleeps

Img_0764The Reykjavik Arts Festival kicked off its annual celebration Thursday night.  In keeping with the tradition of two weeks of exciting art displays, we have already seen a bus stabbed with a knife (on Laekjargata), a car with a tree growing out of it (on Skolvordustigar) and most exciting of all, the Royal de Luxe street theatre group. 

The Royal de Luxe group travels around the world with their larger than life puppets and uses the entire city as its stage.  The Little Girl (sleeping above) spent today roaming the streets of Reykjavik for her father, only to have to finally rest by the sea.  On Saturday, she will take another walk and eventually meet up with him  in the square next to Laekjargata. 

Kelsey was lucky enough to see much more as she was able to watch from the road with her classmates as the Little Giant strolled up Skolavordustigar to take a nap near Hallgrimskirkja. We saw a brief glimpse of her as Cait and I drove home from school and the Little Giant ambled down Skolavordustigar after her nap on the lawn of the church.

You can leisa meira about this group, learn how the puppet is operated and see her path.  Suffice it to say, the streets were packed with people and although it was fabulous, I could not see such a thing happening in many cities in the States.  I definitely recommend, though, should you be lucky enough to travel to an area where they perform.

May 10, 2007

Kelsey the Wunderkind

Img_0759 Shameless brag, I know.    Is it her ability to follow instructions to a T? Is it her amazingly ability to be logical in everything she does?  Or is it the fact that she is fluent in one of the world's hardest languages?

AND...at the parent teacher conference today she received the ultimate compliment...

Her grammar (compared to native Icelandic speakers who have no English) is NOT the worst in the class, by far.  So her Icelandic grammar is better than at least some of the kids in her class who speak nothing but Icelandic.

Mind you, this is not an insult to those children.  In fact, they have undoubtedly contributed a great deal towards Kelsey learning Icelandic.  We are just so darn proud of the little nugget for having such an incredibly convoluted language (grammar-wise) imprinted on her brain. 

Now, we know she could lose it, but we are hoping not for a while.  All 5 children in next year's ISI kindergarten class are bilingual English/Icelandic and the principal is already working on a plan to ensure they are learning as much as they can in both languages next year.

The picture?  Well, not only was today parent/teacher conference day, but also the opid hus.  From klukkan 16:00 - 18:00, we were able to watch Kelsey run around with her friends and show off her work from this year.  While some of it was on the wall (as in the picture),  most of her progress came tumbling out of her mouth in the form of Icelandic every time she spoke.

Although we do occasionally have to correct one teensy-weensy item.  When asked where she is from, Kelsey proudly beams and says, "Iceland!"  Well, we'll correct it next year, if the dark hair doesn't give it away before then....

NOTE:  The picture was drawn by all of the Njalsborg students.  The figure in the picture to Kelsey's immediate right is a self-portrait and Jen's caricature is floating somewhere on the left side of the picture....

May 04, 2007

Trouble in Playground Paradise

Iceland, more appropriately, Reykjavik, is not known for its playgrounds.  Any parent who has visited the wilderness of  playgrounds in the Northern VA (DC/MD) area knows that playgrounds can be done extremely well.  Yes, I know, wealthy counties = great playgrounds.  Not so in Iceland.

This isn't to say they don't exist, but for a country that prides itself on spending hours outdoors in all kinds of weather, they are sorely lacking in public play areas for kids.  The very few areas that do exist (free of charge ) while colorful, albeit in part due to lots of graffiti, are made of wood (for what reason??) and often consist of a lone swing and a box of black sand.  Sometimes they are odd wooden structures or a web of ropes strung from metal posts.

The schools generally have better playgrounds and perhaps that is the idea.  Spend the money on the areas where kids spend most of their time.   Whatever the case may be, we were not surprised last year when we arrived at the new home of ISI to find that their playground included an area with a see-saw, some sort of climbing/hanging structure, a pile of large rocks and logs stuck into the ground with chains running between them.

No one questioned that all were a part of the playground and it was great to have so many different areas for so many kids.  The rock pile (2-3 meters high) was especially attractive, as it was large enough to hide behind, climb on or simply have a sit with several friends.  The climbing part was especially enjoyed as it gave the climber a great view of the playground, soccer field and not-so-distant bay.

I know I was a little bit wary in the beginning and used to stand by it, waiting for someone to fall off, roll down or hurt themselves enough to question the theory behind such a play structure.  After a while, though, I weaned myself from worry.  Eight months into the school year and not one ER visit from the rock...til today.

I taught EAL until noon, sent an email and realized I better skedaddle if I wanted to hit the salad bar at the Hagkaup and make it back in time for 4th period.  On my way back, the phone rang and saw that Berta was calling, but not for me to grab a Skyr for her.

Instead, she called to let me know that Caitlin had hurt herself at recess and was in the nurse's office.  Most of the teachers do not excite too easily, as they know small injuries happen.  However, there was urgency in her voice and the mention of the ER.  I hurried back and found Caitlin with long scratches covering the left side of her face, the bottom left side swollen and cut and bleeding into a gauze pad.

Not sure what to do regarding insurance and payment (does the school pay? do we pay? do you pay?) we picked up Peter and headed straight to the slowest ER on the planet.  We were eventually seen and while the bleeding had not stopped, it had slowed enough for the nurse and doctor to ascertain that she would not need stitches, but only glue on facial cuts.  The cuts on the inside of her mouth would have to heal on their own, as apparently closing them up could cause a much more serious infection.

Still in a lot of pain, but thrilled to not have to get stitches, we headed for the nearest isbar for something cold that might numb her mouth without tasting medicinal.  Meanwhile, I was rapidly dialing the dentist as there was a mean looking cut/bruise/something in the gum line under her front tooth (adult, of course).

Two x-rays and a thorough examination later, she was declared 'good to go' for now.  She will have to have follow up x-rays in 6 weeks, but there is no apparent damage.  This is especially welcome news, as we have spent so much time at the dentist recently and thankfully, he is so very good with children.

So, we have a sore and swollen, but otherwise unhurt, Caitlin.  She won't be swimming or jumping on the trampoline for a few days, but school on Monday won't be an issue. While she was quite upset, I have to say, totally in line for someone who fell two meters down a pile of large, not-so-smooth Icelandic rocks.

Oh, and the rock pile? Turns out it is really some sort of sculpture.  A piece of art to be admired, but not have its nooks and crannies discovered or utilized for playground meetings. While there is no hard and fast rule being handed out by the host school, you can bet Cait and her friends will be sticking to meeting elsewhere for a while!