6 posts categorized "Iceland"

April 21, 2010

Eyjafjallajokull

Volcano1

It's all one has heard about for days, and the news may not end anytime soon.  I probably should have posted something sooner, but since we aren't there, it seems hard to have a true opinion.  I have heard from friends there, and have gleaned that it is not the disaster (for Iceland) that it could be.  After hearing snippets here and there, reading (hopefully) reliable reports, and listening to an interview by The World  with the President of Iceland, my suspicions were confirmed that it is having a much greater effect on other areas of the world.

Volcano2 I realize elsewhere things are crazy, people are trapped in many areas of Europe, shipments are coming to a standstill and travel plans are being disrupted right and left.  However, in Iceland, it is by all appearances, if nothing else...a photographer's paradise.  Every photo that pops up on the internet, especially Facebook (thank you to our Icelandic friends for posting frequently), is a new and fantastically awesome photo of this incredible act of God.

I know it seems awful. I know it might seem like a disaster in many respects.  However, I like to think of it as a reminder that there are things out there that we can't control and sometimes we just need to let go and be amazed by what Mother Nature can do when she puts her mind to it.

For a teeny bit of humor regarding the pronunciation of the name of the volcano, try this video below:


*The photos above are courtesy of our friend, Mary.  Many thanks to her for sharing these views of the billows of smoke that could be seen from the backyard of her summer house.

And one more video just in case you need another good laugh:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Volcano Eyjafjallajokull
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News



March 22, 2010

Psycho

was my nickname tonight.  My dear husband thought I was going a bit overboard on a project, and deemed me to be a little bit nuts. Now for those of you who know us (or if you quickly click here), you might wonder what me being crazy this has to do with the nugget...

Yep, Kelsey turns 8 today, but this is not *the* official post.  It will have to wait, as a special photograph needs to be taken first.  We have been waiting almost a year to do so, and, yes, more explanation on that later.  So, why am I loopy?

I guess I obsessed a bit (in his opinion) over Kelsey's birthday favors for her class.  It can no longer be as simple as cupcakes or candy (which is sort of okay with me).  I used to send in a birthday cake in Iceland to Kelsey's leikskola and didn't think twice.  I honestly don't remember what we sent in for her 6th birthday (to the International School), but if it was a craft, it was likely by choice.  However, it seems now everyone here simply gives out small favors.

IMG_4097She wanted to go with pencils and erasers, but I thought since that was quite popular, we should opt for something slightly different, and perhaps, a bit green?  Since it is spring, what better favor than a little grow pot for the garden?  We found a variety of herbs and threw in a few strawberry pots.  Since the carton was not super-sturdy, I figured it couldn't hurt to put them in a colorful paper (yes, recycled) bag.  Then I have all of these letter stickers, and even with the scrapbook updates I need to do, I will never, ever use them all...so I though it would be really cute to emblazon their names on the bag.  Of course, the bag then needs to be sealed, nothing a little hole-punching and a ribbon wouldn't fix.

 With that, you have the favors.  Really not that complicated or fancy, but a fun mother/daughter (til the said daughter's bedtime) project.  And, no, Kelsey is not getting one, but that is just to illustrate the design for the names, without displaying the roster for her entire class.

March 21, 2010

Reunion

It seems like just yesterday I was lamenting our impending departure, feeling torn about choosing between the possibilities that are in our future.  Somehow in the past 48 hours, I have come to terms with the fact that I while I am not thrilled by having to make tough choices, we need to move forward with our original plans.  I may never be 100% sure, but after a brief reunion we had today, I remembered that all is not lost by moving forward, as there are always future opportunities.

 IMG_1613 A friend from Iceland,IMG_1614 who worked at the Embassy with Peter, (I will call her "Mary") came to visit San Francisco this weekend.  She was in town to see The Little Mermaid performed by the San Francisco Ballet, and was able to carve out a generous amount of time to spend with us today.  Having not seen her in almost two years (Nicholas was not even 4 months when we left Iceland), we were thrilled to be able to catch up in the city.  Kelsey had been aching to visit San Francisco as a pre-birthday treat, and we could not miss the chance for the girls to entertain Mary with hours of pre-teen bickering.

One might say, "Oh, it wasn't that bad."  Oh, yes, it was. They insisted on displaying their sisterly love, and bickered through a good portion of the morning.  Sigh.  Nothing like showing off your maturing, growing, hair-pulling, and name-calling sweethearts.  Where did I go wrong again?  We pushed through though, and realized perhaps the ole blood sugar might be a bit low, and that a bit of lunch might be in order.

No, we did not end up at the vegetarian restaurant, but thought the menu (given the name of the establishment) to be immensely amusing.  We let Kelsey choose the place du jour, and, yes, Nan-King is now officially an old haunt.  The girls were separated, Mary and I caught up for a good hour, and Peter and Nicholas had nice father and son quality time.  After lunch, we thought a few minutes at the park might release a bit of energy, and this appeared to be the magic that reignited the real sisterly love.  The girls ran around, played with their brother, watched endless games of Chinese checkers, and enjoyed the unique decorations of this playground in Chinatown.  Nothing like pagodas and cherry blossoms in a park surrounded by hotels, apartments, restaurants, and many gray concrete buildings to feel as though you are in an oasis of sorts.

IMG_4091 IMG_4092 Given that Mary had the ballet (no, I didn't repeat that because I am jealous...okay, it looks amazing!), and we had to get back for Kelsey to participate in her troop's cookie sale (it's almost over...), we had to skip Crissy Field (Kelsey's last request for the afternoon), and nosh on ice cream at Ghirardelli Square instead.  Nicholas chose this area to have his pre-nap breakdown, though the free chocolates being handed out calmed him down a tiny bit (until the sugar kicked in). 

Our final event was a ride down Lombard Street (Kelsey's favorite), which helped Nicholas conk out completely, and then we had to bid Mary adieu (or bless, bless as it should be) and return to our corner of the East Bay.  It's hard to believe it has been almost two years since we last said good-bye at the Embassy, and yet after 5 minutes, it seemed that no time had passed at all.  I realized on the way home, that I needed to worry less and simply enjoy more during our last few months here.  Nor do we have to say good-bye, but rather just, "see you later."

February 01, 2010

At post?

DPA675F-376If you are in the Foreign Service, you probably have heard of the blog, At Post.  It is relatively young, but has already earned two mentions in the Foreign Service Journal and is rapidly gaining a quite a following.  Due to a request for winter photos, I submitted a picture I snapped on Christmas Day 2007. 

It was our first white Christmas in Iceland and utterly gorgeous.  I took a walk around the neighborhood between gift opening and guest arrival and marveled in the beauty.  Despite the freshness of the snow, one can see by the footprints that many had already been out to enjoy and bask in the glow.  After all, we were down to maybe two complete hours of daylight at that point.  In fact, in my mind, the day was much brighter, perhaps because I was so used to the longer winter nights (all 22 hours of them!).

DPA675F-370 DPA675F-372 DPA675F-374  If you have a chance, please peruse the blog.  Better yet, if you are in the FS and have oodles of photos that might fit a category, don't be shy, send them in!  I think it's a fabulous idea for a blog, and will end up being a very unique photo album.

DPA675F-344 DPA675F-435 DPA675F-443 DPA675F-450  I realized while looking back at that time period, that I left out some of my own photos from that Christmas that I intended to post...you know, one day.  Guess that time has come. The first set includes three pictures of the kids at Árbæjarsafn, just on the outskirts of town. It's a unique open air museum and this was the first year we had a chance to visit it at Christmastime. We enjoyed games, súkkulaði, and watching the making of Laufabrauð, among other activities.  It was a bit nippy, but the kids love watching history come to life.  It's probably quite obvious, but the other photo is of the girls in front of the Christmas tree at the annual Christmas party at the Embassy.

The second set of photos include the girls posing as Icelandic Santas during our annual trip to the Christmas village in Hafnarfjordur, our last Icelandic Christmas tree, our home for three years, and an Icelandic snowman.  I wish I had written about it at the time, but I am guessing I must have been preoccupied with our (then) upcoming move, as well as the impending arrival of LG.

November 05, 2009

First Communion

It seems like Caitlin just had her ceremony, and already Kelsey has begun preparations for her special celebration in the spring.  Of course, prior to the First Communion, is the Rite of Reconciliation, which already seems to be more of an undertaking than with Caitlin.  I am not sure why, but it is much more of a process here than it was in Iceland.

IMG_1286 IMG_1285 Perhaps it is the change in the scenarios:  when Caitlin made her First Communion, we attended the church on base in Keflavik.  Nearly all of the preparations were made during the CCD classes.   The teacher sent home a packet of prayers (oh, the nights of Caitlin nervously working on them...), but no hand-outs for the parents, no workbooks tailored to Reconciliation itself, and no retreat.  Tuesday evening, at the first parent meeting, I received not only a 3 page hand-out regarding the entire process, but a book for the children, and a periodical for our use. I have to say that I feel more confident having the extra information and material to work with, but  I don't remember going through any of the same when I was a child.  Perhaps it is timing, and not the church or program?

There were also many other differences, the primary one being the distance to the church.  Here we can swing by at a moment's notice, whereas even CCD at St. Michael's required a 1.5 hour round-trip. More importantly, we had to build in extra time for Cait, given that the motion sickness was far more prevalent then (and she was NOT reading in the car all of the time back then).  Even on the cold, dark Icelandic winter mornings, the poor thing was ill for at least half of the trips out there and back home.  I am pretty sure only a nap staved away sickness, and that could not be counted on most times.

2006-119Considering that we have weekly CCD lessons, church, parent meetings, workbooks, and two separate retreats (one for Reconciliation, one for First Communion), I must admit I am quite glad we could walk to church if necessary.  I am also quite happy to announce that I may have (at long last) found a regular babysitter that will not break my wallet.  Given that it appears I will be doing all of the Reconciliation work with Kelsey by myself, I think that is going to be a lifesaver.

As it turns out, Peter will miss everything that has anything to do with the process.  He missed Tuesday night's informational meeting (no big deal), but will likely be away for any other meetings, the retreat, and Reconciliation itself (kind of a bigger deal).  The bright spot?  He will definitely be there for First Communion, which is right now slated for either May 1 or May 8. Supposedly one gets to choose which date, but that remains to be seen.

The reason for two days of ceremonies?  The sheer number of children making their First Communion.  Not only are there two separate days, but there are three separate ceremonies on each day!  I remember having a big First Communion, but this just seems overwhelming.  Cait's entire CCD class had maybe 12 children.  The ceremony itself was intimate yet, having followed a brunch that morning for all of the First Communicants and their families.  Given there are several CCD classes per grade here, well, a bit of a shock to the system. I have a feeling if there is a brunch, it will be a cozy family event we have at home.

 I haven't mentioned as of yet, but of course, we will welcome any family and friends who want to visit.  Especially given that we are not going to be in the California area much after that, a good time to stop by if you haven't already.  Where to next, you ask?  Still working on that one, *sigh*.

October 11, 2009

One of the least fun aspects

of moving (to me), would be the joy of having to find 'new' contacts.  Whether it be a doctor, chiropractor, or a luxury like the perfect hair stylist, it can take months (or as in my case in Iceland), years to find the perfect person.  I finally found a great stylist, but if Jogvan moved here, it would all be over for the new guy.

IMG_3095 IMG_3096 For whatever the reason, perhaps for the rise of pediatric or children's, well, everything, it seems much, much easier to find the perfect pediatrician, pediatric dentist or children's hairstylist.  The latter is particularly important for my children, as any of the Barbies (and their mutilated tresses) from my childhood could attest.  While learning how to properly cut hair would be a great skill to have, I have yet to get up the nerve to try.  Memories of perpetually unequal bangs probably will keep the desire at bay for quite some time.

IMG_3098 We lucked out by quickly finding a hair salon for the kids, aptly named Kids-N-Teens, run 100% by the owner, Daniella.  Much like Grenitas in Caracas, it is 100% for kids, complete with a play area and ribbon bar.   It's not Cartoon Cuts, and appointments are usually more than necessary. However, it is no pricier than Cartoon Cuts (or anything similar), and your child will leave looking and feeling like the beauty queen (or king) of her choice. 

Whether it's your child's first haircut (cue delivery of "1st cut certificate" with two locks of hair), or 18th, you feel as though she has known you, and your child, forever.  A closely-cropped cut for the boy, braids or tiny ponytails for girls, and your child is happily on their way.

Some might say it's a pain to wait for an appointment, or who on earth can't suffice with a haircut from the barber (or Mom)?  I look it as a talent-sharing situation.  Daniella is very gifted in the way of hair (and I am so very not).  Why not utilize the services of those who truly know what they are doing.  And, yes, I must admit, I also really like the way she cuts and styles Kelsey's hair without ever drawing any attention to her scar. It's the little details that matter, right?  

If you ever happen to live in this area, and have a child with shaggy locks or overgrown bangs, I highly recommend giving Daniella a call.  Check out the before and after pictures, and you will see how much one can get for a very small price.