Sunday, 12 December 2010

Little H is under the weather

The time before Christmas is a time for the common cold, a flu or swine flu if you’re really unlucky. The Castro- Nyhus family is in overall good health, but we cannot totally escape all bugs and viruses. It started with me getting the sniffles and Little H soon followed, Pappa Kas has so far been spared, despite snot and coughs all around.
The timing of Little H getting a cold could have been worse. It coincided with a very decent drop in temperature, taking us down to below 15 Celsius. Such low temperatures are unusual for us in the south-east this early in the winter, so even for us hard-core Norwegians it has been freezing.

It is recommended not to take babies outside when it is colder than minus ten Celcius, so we have more or less been forced to live in exile, not only due to our colds but also due to the “extreme” temperatures (as the tabloids describes it ) outside.

Good for Lady B and Little H you might think. I was thinking the same. Now I would get the chance to make home-made labels for the Christmas presents, polish cutlery, sew pillow cases, make Christmas cookies and most importantly - update the blog every day. Of course this has not happened, but I am proud to say that I am on top of the ironing and have swapped the white candles we have in the living room for red ones. Christmas can come!

I am happy to write that Little H is much better than at the beginning of the week. She no longer wakes up by her own chesty cough. She no longer starts crying in panic when she can’t breathe due to stuffed nose and throat. Her eyes are not running and she is more or less back to her happy self. While she was under the weather Little H only wanted to be close to me or Pappa Kas whether she was asleep or awake, being carried around while sung for, being cradles in our and…- you get it. So I have had no chance to sneak away and polish that cutlery. There’s always an excuse.


Friday, 3 December 2010

It’s that time of (the) year again…

We’re speeding into the run-up to Christmas and as usual I am behind plan. It is needless to say that home-made presents, seven types of traditional Norwegian Christmas cookies, Little H’s home-made Christmas outfits, yes outfits: Santa, reindeer, gingerbread cookie and so on, are still on the drawing board when we have three weeks left to go. It’s never gonna happen.
BUT I have not given up; I’ve just come to my senses and am going low-key this year.
It is time to put my feet up, make some mulled wine, spiked with vodka of course, and snap the heads of some gingermen cookies, while looking into the fire and listening to Bing's "White Christmas". This time of year is all about being cheezy and I cannot help it, but I want "Last Christmas" with WHAM as ringtone on my phone. That way I can fine-tune the moves in time for this years Christmas Night out at Picasso's.

Little H is too small to get involved in the festive fuzz so I am in the clear for all the work which comes with having kids in schools and nurseries - for now. I am thinking cake sales, making costumes for the nativity play and so on. I cannot wait…
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas, the shopping, the decorations, the eating and drinking which comes with all the get-togethers with friends and family. I am longing for to the smell of pine, oranges cloves and cinnamon. But I feel that I am already running late, which takes away some of the pleasure of it all.
The new plan could be to start preparing next year’s Christmas in March, because then I might be able to make half of the things I would want to by December 2011, but then again I will probably be sick of all things remotely Christmassy by mid-summer. It's not ideal.
So what’s the plan for the weekend? Making Christmas decorations, knitting on little H’s Santa Hat, have Christmas porridge for dinner when Pappa Kas is on his Christmas Night out with work, attending a pre-Christmas get together dinner, going to turkey tasting at Granny B and Grandad G’s and sort the boxes of decorations that have been taken down from the attic and hopefully buy some presents.

Who said low-key?!?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Soon six months after Little H’s arrival, I am starting to get into a proper routine, but there’s always the occasional surprise to throw us off schedule. The margins are small from
us leaving the house stress free strolling down to meet the other mummies with no spit-up anywhere and our winter hats the right way round, to wearing my sweater inside-out and Little H covered in a facial cream of milk, porridge and snot (It’s her own recipe and I bet it is good against the winterly temperatures we're currently having).

If you know us, you have probably heard the story about Pappa Kas forgetting the wedding bands he (he would say we) had been entrusted to bring safely to church for Tio Ini’s wedding…. - and other amusing stories of how forgetful we are. Another classic is how we went to spend the first night in our new house, having traveled by bus and train, and then walked 3 kilometers uphill with two 80 liters backpacks full of essentials in minus 5 degrees and snow, only to discover that the house keys were back in Oslo.

I will therefore proudly retell this 100% true story.

We were recently in Ikea to buy a carefully selected chest of drawers - obviously out-of-stock... Well, no excursion to Ikea is a waste of time, there’s always candles, napkins, meatballs and other must-haves to stock up on. While standing in the queue at the tills, we had a crisis situation. Little H, who has yet to understand the appeal of the Swedish furniture-and-stuff-everyone-can-afford heaven, was at the end of her tether, and did not politely want to wait in line so that her parents could pay for their essential must haves (candles and napkins).

Pappa Kas took Little H up from the pram and held her in his arms. It did not help; he was just showing the other customers that we had a screaming toddler. Pappa Kas then firmly planted the dummy in Little H’s mouth to stop the racket, only for Little H to spit it three meters away in distaste. Then, as the super mummy I am striving to be, I opened the side pocket of our baby-all-essentials-bag, took out a small Tupperware box, opened it and found a clean dummy within seconds. It went so quickly that the young couple standing behind us, who had cast annoying glances at our singing angel only seconds before, dropped their jaws in amazement before the girl said: “wow! Look at those organized parents!”

I have never been so proud.

Happy Hanna in her new potty-like chair.
Thank you Ashley, Audrey and Adriana!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Time flies when you’re having fun and it is certainly flying by Concorde when on maternity leave. Before the weekend we had agreed on a long overdue catch-up with two of my non-mummy extremely stylish and yummy friends. One of them said before Little H’s arrival that I had to be weary of becoming one of this mummies dressing in a boring and mumsy way. I am very glad that she has not seen me walking around recently. The slippery pavements have demanded hiking boots, which is not even allowed lower than 400 meters above sea level. I have walked around shameful but safe, and always with mascara on, as if that counts.

Needless to say I spent some time on planning the outfits for this highlight of the week(Little H’s also of course), but whatever I planned in my head it did not work out. Why? All potentially wearable items were in the laundry basket full of smelly spit up. I am so behind on the laundry that I did not even have one pair of clean jeans. So no skinny black jeans, high boots and a tunic –cardigan combo (yes I know how mummy is that! - but it was my best bet).

Just when I had settled on a neutral but not entirely mumsy outfit and Little H was dressed to impress in home-made Lady B Couture, I heard a deep rumbling from her tummy followed by a volcanic eruption from the nose and mouth region. Suddenly we were covered, not in lava, but lumpy, cod liver oil smelling leftovers of milk, banana and pear yoghurt. It was only one thing to do, go downstairs, change and settle for second best, which if I had had time to think, I would not have left the house in pre-preggers.

We finally managed to leave the house smelling just faintly of sour milk and cod liver but relatively stain free. That is until I discovered lumps of what could be porridge behind Little H’s ears. Funnily enough, she had not had porridge for a couple of days. It could definitely explain the smell.

Mittens does not only keep hands warm,
but works perfectly to cover up delicate ears
when the hat it too big.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Winter has arrived and with its cold and snow comes the challenge of maneuvering out-and-about with Little H in her pram. It is hard work, and could suit as a new discipline in the Winter Olympics. Imagine slalom, downhill etc. with prams. Just think of the entertainment value!
Either the snow is not removed from the pavements so you are pushing the pram through the snow and sleet (while swearing), or the snow has turned into ice and you slide sideways.
A few days ago we had planned to go Christmas dress browsing for little H together with another mummy and her little one. She had already seen a dress for her daughter and was determined to get it, while I just wanted to have a look. I had not really thought of a Christmas outfit for little H, more a full plastic cape/ bip construction to try to avoid porridge in all possible places, but its fun to shop! – if you can get to the shops without too much hassle that is.
Cheeky H

On the morning of our big shopping excursion we woke up to a couple of centimeters of sleet and snow. As sporty mummies we agreed to challenge the elements and go anyway. My main reason not really the shopping, but that I really need to shake the muffin top before the festive period with all its temptations start. How can I deserve my coffee treat if I take the car 4 km to the city centre? There’s no other option than walking.

Well, we ended up having a really nice day, browsing the shops for small dresses and having a good chat about the things that mummies talk about; snot, type of porridge, passing wind and how to avoid poo sneaking out of the diaper and up the back. We’re talking about the babies’ here-not us. We also felt very brave and we had truly deserved our coffee treat.

Imagine Pappa Kas' matching tie
 No dress was bought for little H that day, but I saw a puffed sleeved taffeta creation that her grannies would be delighted with. I am not sure I can find an outfit to match though, neither a tie for Pappa Kas...

After the experience of pushing through the sleet, working hard not to swear out loud, I decided to swap the wheels around and put the small loose ones at the back for sturdier bigger fixed wheels at the front of the pram.
Good idea, it worked a treat, until the day after when the road had turned into ice. I was sliding down the hill towards the baby swimming class (how yummy is that!-baby swimming), losing all control. On the way back home one of the other mummies said that it looked as if I was drunk “driving/pushing” the pram as I was sliding around so much. I have now put winter wheels for Little H’s pram on my Christmas wish list, so until the 25th of December (I hope) we’ll have to take the Super Car and swap to boring small non fat lattes instead of the usual “double chocca mocca”.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

There's always an excuse...

One morning earlier this week little H and me were preparing to go to our weekly mother and child pilates class. We were running late (what a surprise) and I was determined to take the new Super Car.

As Pappa Kas will confirm I have been postponing driving alone with Little H in the (Super) Car for weeks.I have made many excuses some more silly than others, but for me walking 8km with the pram to get some exercise instead of taking the car is a very valid one. The muffin top needs to be shaken now and then, and especially now when the festive season is coming up.

The excuse for not making Pilates on Tuesday, the REAL one, I promise, cross my heart, was that I could not get the garage door open. Seriously, I could not open the gate. It was really stuck. I have seen Pappa Kas do a hit and push trick earlier, but not bothered to learn it. But now when I also realized that the garage door was the portal, not only to a comfy mode of transport in icy weather, but also the gate to warmth and coziness- all our firewood is in that garage, it became more important to be able to get hold of the treasures.
No firewood to snuggle in front of the fireplace, no car to drive to pilates? What to do? I sent a message to my fellow pilates mummies and told the truth – car, garage, stuck, impossible – but also: “coffee after the class? We’re out walking anyway...”. A bit shameful we arrived at the café before everyone else, so when they arrived, smug after downward dogs and baby massage, it looked like we had been sitting there all morning. I promise we had just arrived; the half drunk decaff-Soy-mocca in front of me must have belonged to someone else…

Monday, 8 November 2010


When planning for maternity leave I had many highflying ambitions. Early on I tampered with the idea of studying for a Masters Degree, but after having talked to some of my friends ahead of me in the family game, I put that one on the shelf- at least for now.

Then I looked to other rookie (yummy) mummies out there and then random internet mums, colleagues and friends were spied on to find out what they were doing while on this year long holiday. Holiday my a**, I have never been so busy!

I was aware of the nesting period while pregnant, had heard about redecorating living rooms and new kitchens, but suddenly die hard party vixens became domestic goddesses knitting socks, making home-made crisp bread and writing blogs… Well, this seemed achievable, so this is where I have set my ambitions. So far I am struggling somewhat, but practice makes perfect and I still have five months to go before Pappa Kas becomes a Domestic Daddy.

Ambitious fellow citizens of Drammen:

Ambitions - Donkeyboy


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Castro-Nyhus family takes a road trip

We have finally bought a ”proper family car” as Pappa Kas calls it and we are now the proud owners of an Opel Astra, twelve years “younger” than the previous one, no kidding. All I can say so far is that the car is nice and shiny, the seats a bit hard, meaning not so worn out as in the old one, and I am not ashamed of driving it. Our neighbour the carsalesman must be pleased. We have been a shame for the neightbourhood carpool for years, on the other hand, we did not buy the car from the neighbour, so perhaps we’re still in the bad books.

To test the new wonder, we decided to take a proper Sunday trip like we used to do on random Sundays (the ones not spent cross country sprinting) when I was growing up.We invited Little H’s Great Grandparents along and off we went. We speeded down the highway towards Tønsberg, the oldest city in Norway, which has a nice pier and a charming city centre. The sun was out, however the temperature was a little bit on the chilly side, but Little H was behaving and the Great G’s were in good form. We were all set for a nice day out and about.

Great Gran Laila, Great Granddad Magne and the girls

After cruising down to Tønsberg we parked and went for a walk, with a proud Great Gran in front pushing little H in the pram. I was glad to get some assistance as it was cobbled streets all the way, and also quite a few shop windows to browse in. Mental note to self; check out the shops in Tønsberg for the post-Christmas sale.
Talking of fashion; With Little H’s generous sharing of left-overs, yes, the spit up continues, I have now decided that if I buy something new it has to cost a maximum of 150 NOK and be washable on 50 degrees Celsius. Obviously this does not apply to shoes. How I am going to get a Christmas-night-out outfit within those guidelines, I am not sure. Perhaps exceptions can be made for past bed-time wear? Oh, that sounded naughty, let me rephrase: for me to wear on social occasions after Little H has gone to bed, - not that much better...

Back to our Sunday trip; We walked around for a bit hunting for a decent coffee and the possibility of a sweet bun, and found this charming little coffee shop Bare Barista, really sweet staff, nice coffee and home- made cakes and pastries. Pappa Kas’ order was: “get me anything with chocolate” (as always), and as the dutiful wife who knows him well, I made sure he got his daily (over)dose with a piece of a deliciously looking dark chocolate cake and a hot chocolate to drink.
 It was very close between the tables and I sat in constant fear of Little H throwing up in the hair of the lady on the table behind us while Pappa Kas had her over his shoulder to trigger her burps (he must like to challenge faith). If I had held her, I am sure that there would have been a dry-cleaning bill coming my way courtesy of Little H’s well timed wet burps onto some charming well meaning lady’s cashmere.
Choc Shock

When I caught Pappa Kas spoon-feed Little H with lukewarm hot chocolate, it was time to return to the car before the little angel got enough sugar to fuel her high pitched high energy screaming.

Sweet Great Gran proudly pushed little H back to the car, while I had a final browse trying to remember where the good shops were for next time.

In the car on the way home Great Granddad was eager to share his extensive local knowledge of people and places with the younger generations. Pappa Kas listened attentively and nodded at the right places, taking it as a lesson in Norwegian history as we drove the scenic route Great Grandad pointed out and named large and small farms, distant relatives’ summer houses and other places of interest. Sadly neither myself nor Little H got all to take in all of this locale knowledge as we were deep asleep in the back seat…

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Getting back to "normal"


It has taken us a while to settle and get back to normal after our recent trip to Spain. We normally return with our suitcases full Tupperware filled with home-made Basque cuisine, such as squid in its own ink (Chipirones), Cod in green sauce (Bacalao ala Pil Pil) and baby eels (Gulas).

Since our freezer is broken, we could not bring all of Sergio’s favorites and settled for more widely enjoyed delicatessen such as Chorizo,different hams and Manchego cheese.
What we had of extra space in the suitcases, where my wine bottles were supposed to be, was this time stuffed with Little H’s presents. I managed however to force in a few bottles and thanked the airlines for the extra kilos you’re able to bring when you are travelling with a toddler.

Now, six days after our return I am trying to recap what has happened since we were picked up at the airport by very eager Granny B and Grandad G, who had abstinences from not having seen Little H in two weeks, and cut their holiday one day short to greet us at Gardermoen. I am forever grateful, not only for picking us up, but for stopping at a petrol station in the middle of nowhere so that we could give Little H food to see if that could stop the high pitched “singing” from the back seat. Worked a treat.

 Monday was spent unpacking. On Tuesday we were back in Pilates, ran into class as the last one as usual, had timed the feeding wrong, so spent most of the time giving little H the bottle while watching the others do push-ups, some while breastfeeding. I am still amazed by the multitasking of the other mummies; I can barely give the bottle and wiggle my toes at the same time.

After the class I was tempted by an invitation to go for lunch, but not sure that I could join in. Reason being that Granny B had offered to take Little H for a couple of hours so that I could do some housework. How could I go to Condelica with the yummies and their angels without my own little H? The temptation proved too strong and after the hand-over to Granny B, I jogged to the café where I joined the others. I was not sure I would be allowed to enter without a pram, but I managed to sneak in and order my usual, but I definitely felt stares in my back and heard fragments of whispering. Some of the words I am sure I deciphered were: “without, shame, here at this hour, dare”. I will never go back alone.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Little H loves Porridge

Here's another small video for family and friends.

I guess not everyone is interested in seeing little H eating porridge, but it is quite fun- promise.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Two weeks visiting the small Basque town of Elorrio, where  Pappa Kas was born and raised, are nearly over. Hanna has met about seventy-three relatives, thirty-one of Pappa Kas’ closest friends, twelve neighbours,  eleven ex-neighbours, forty-five colleagues and friends of various relatives, ninety friends of friends, and about seventeen unknown ladies who has randomly hovered over the pram at some point to admire “La chica mas guapa del mundo”. She has also proudly been introduced to the Major (who also was our wedding photographer).

Despite all the wonderful hospitality and her minor celebrity status, I think that it is time for Little H to go home and get a change of environment. She is getting very spoilt, and I am starting to suspect that some of her closest relatives are having a bad influence on her.
Over the last couple of days she has started squealing like a cat in distress quite randomly and often in not so appropriate situations, for example when being on a show-off stroll around the town square with Amama/Granny Socco.
On Wednesday it got so bad that Pappa Kas looked at me early afternoon and said: “Please go and get us some aspirins- I can see that you are coming down with a head-ache and mine is already here” (how considerate is he? – He’s the best). Then Little H had been “at it” for what felt like hours, and we started to think that the neighbours might call Pet Rescue to report animal abuse. On this “new talent” we blame Tia Eli. I do not know how she has done it, but her and Little H was rolling around on the floor one afternoon when the high pitched screaming started, and ever since, especially when Tia is close, Hanna’s “chat” increases both in volume and intensity, and transforms into these horrible shrieks.

One of the other special traits she has picked up in recent days is to point her tongue as far out of her mouth as possible and wiggle it in a variety of ways to many a young relatives delight and to her mothers embarrassment. We can blame no other than Tio Ini. Every split second Little H and Tio spend alone they are up to no good. I just know it. Uncle’s are always teaching their nieces naughty tricks and he is no different. I am sure that behind my back he is constantly pointing his tongue to little H and teaching her all kinds of grimaces.

Other things I would like to blame someone with, such as always peeing when naked, the constant drooling and nasty smelling spit-up, the snoring and so on, I am afraid I have no one else to blame but myself. Everyone says Little H looks exactly like her mother as a toddler, unfortunately she has not only inherited the blue eyes and heart shaped face but most of my not so charming baby-traits as well. It is only normal that some of her mannerisms come from the other side of the family….

NB! The video below is only for the ones with a special interest. Two minutes of Little H "making conversation" with Tia...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Little H learns who's boss

Hanna is throwing admiring glances at her 
slightly older cousin June...
Little H: "Hola June, nice to finally meet someone at my own age!
               This lunch is a bore, don't you agree?"
H: "Ai, don't take my dummy. use your own"·
J: "Look Ama, let's show little H who's boss"
H: "Aaaaaa, give it back"
J: "Are you talking to me, eh? U talking to me?"

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Castro-Nyhus family goes south

The day was finally upon us when we were going to Elorrrio in order to show off Hanna to our Basque family and friends. We booked the tickets back in June, when October seemed so far away, but here we were.

We, or I to be precise started packing several days before, well ahead of schedule. Normally I pack two hours before leaving the house, but now, trying to be a responsible mother and wife, I was eager not to use the iron to dry my jeans with the airport taxi waiting outside – not that something like that has ever happened.
Apparently I did such a good job with packing my own and Little H’s stuff that I had to pack for Pappa Kas as well. He did a last minute check and most of the items I had chosen was approved, and I as the fashion police did not have to veto against any changes in the outfits choosen.

The day of our departure arrived and little H seemed in great spirit, unaware of the long and strenuous journey awaiting her. She had presented us with less spit-up than normal and her morning delivery was already done, so we hoped that the two changes of clothes we had in the hand luggage would be sufficient for the travel ahead.
Ten minutes before the taxi was due to arrive we were lined up outside the house with bags, suitcases and Little H. And I was thinking that if travelling with a toddler is going to make me plan ahead, pack smarter and be ready on time- bring it on! I'll take Little H on city breaks once a month. Pappa Kas can come if he pays...

Needless to say the travel was not such a breeze. I will not go into details, but here is a lesson learnt:
A carry-on bag for necessities (book to read on the plane, glossy magazine, water, fruit, a delicious sandwich and a small bag of toiletries (essential travel stuff: 8 hour cream, hand cream and Multi vitamin Recovery face mask and, and, and… )is no longer required.
Bring instead:
A large canvas bag containing: wet wipes, dry wipes, cotton wipes -WIPES! More babyfood, diapers and changes of clothes than you can ever imagine (do not forget an extra change for yourself as well as for the small one) pain killers (for when your stress related headache sets in) energy bars for food on the move and change in various currencies for shots of espresso whenever the opportunity arises. God forbid that you forget the small annoying toy which plays music as soon as anything gets near it. You get the drift...

Well, we arrived in Elorrio after having taken 1 taxi, 2 trains, 1 bus,  2 transport buses out to the planes, a stopover and flight change in Frankfurt.

Now a few days and a few bottles of wine later I am trying to convince myself that travelling with Little H was not so bad. I need to get home again - right?.. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Goes bananas - the domestic way

Happy Hanna
I have many talents, and I would like to believe that some of these are domestic. Sadly cleaning, polishing and ironing are not amongst these, but I can bake… So the question is – can baking be seen as house work?

Instead of using my extra energy on dusting behind the bed, cleaning toilets or scrubbing the kitchen floor, I tend to bake, believing that I am doing necessary domestic duties that way. Pappa Kas craves his buns as much as I do, so a devoted house wife prioritizes.

This weekend was no exception. Friday afternoon I discovered banana-flies hovering over the fruit bowl. Upon closer inspection three bananas were turning from yellow to dark brown, and were heading for the compost bin almost all by themselves. Would I help them on their way to become reincarnated as plant fertilizers or was there another alternative?

Then I remembered back to our Glasgae days when even dark brown ethanol smelling bananas could be an ingredient in delicious dishes for a recently graduated poor student. Banana loaf! I could not remember the original recipe, but after a quick search I found a slightly more complicated recipe than the one I used in my younger days, but this is absolutely delicious and moister than the one I used to make.

If you want to do like me- here’s the recipe: low-fat-oatmeal-banana-bread
 On Sunday I made apple cake to avoid the ironing, but that’s another story.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The walk of shame

Yesterday I sunk further down into slummieness than ever before (but still had a rather nice day). Here’s a summary:

We got up at 6 a.m. as Pappa Kas wanted us to see a second-hand car at a dealership before he went to work. I staggered out of the bed, prepared Little H, her bottles and other essentials for the day, and off we went even before the neighbors had taken in their morning papers.
After two bus rides and a brisk 10 minutes walk we arrived at the Car Dealership, only to discover that the car had been sold the previous evening. As we stood there talking to the sales man I got a whiff of a rather unpleasant but oh-so familiar smell. Looking down at little H’s forced red face it confirmed my suspicions. It was her morning “load”. Good job little lady…
After a quick and discrete change of diaper, our happy family walked along a path following the river towards the city centre of Drammen. It was a lovely morning and my spirits rose. Total family bliss.Pappa Kas had persuaded me to come on this early excursion by offering breakfast at Cafe Grua, a new lovely coffee place we recently have discovered. Of course - when we got there it did not open for another hour. We could see the staff baking inside; we got a whiff of the freshly grinded coffee beans and a sniff of the dark chocolate brownies. Instead we sat down on a bench outside where Little H got her milk and I got a slice of rye bread with Chorizo.

 Soon after we kissed Pappa Kas goodbye outside the Pilates studio (Attic). For once we were the first to arrive in class, as normally we come rushing in 5 minutes after it has started. Little H was also sleeping, not crying her heart out as usual, so more yummy points to us! The class was great as always, 15 mummies, all with their toddlers next to them on their mats, breathing yoga breaths while drawing in their belly buttons, squeezing their pelvises and breastfeeding crying babies at the same time. It is an impressive sight.
After the class my two yummy mummy friends (they are both on their second offspring, and a part of my expert panel) went for a coffee at the local mummy hang-out (Condelica). Despite having jeans in my bag I did not change from my sweat pants, but strolled happily along wearing black cotton drawstring trousers found at the very bottom of my gym-wear drawer. The worst thing was that I did not feel that bad while wearing worn-out comfy clothes. They were rather perfect for my post work-out binge (I had a half a Danish after my sandwich). Also with Little H’s frequent spit ups it was very convenient to wear a washed out t-shirt.
The three of us laughed at going for lunch wearing gym-clothes, having no make-up and flat hair, being the kind of maternity leave mummies we never wanted to be. How could I? I blame the still raging hormones.

It was not until I was alone, having said goodbye to my fellow mummies in comfy lycra, walking through the local shopping street and caught a look of myself in a shop window I realized: I was doing the walk of shame! This was not the walk of shame from my youth, walking down Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on a Sunday morning wearing last night’s outfit and smudged make-up on my way home from some Art School after- party. This was my new grown up slummy mummy walk of shame! And suddenly it felt like I had one of the worst hang-overs ever.

Will I ever recover?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Pappa Kas, Lady B and the cars

The Castro-Nyhus household has never had a brand new car, not even an almost new car. Our cars (think we have been through three) have not even been charming vintage-ish but proper old, shabby and soon ready for the scrap heap ones (Sorry Gordon- not the Rover of course, that was a beauty).
This is all about to change – perhaps.
Our car(s) have caused countless discussions, but again - our cultural differences are not always easily reconciled. I believe these differences add to the flair of our marriage, at least I convince myself of that when we slam doors and give each other the silent treatment for at least 30 minutes now and then.
Back to the cars. In Spain you buy the car you can afford, in Norway you borrow from the bank and buy the car of your dreams. Sensible Pappa Kas was only buying cars fitting the size of our savings, while if it had been up to me I had pawned the house and gotten a Jaguar XK8. So when the negotiations started we were pretty far apart. It has taken years to reach a compromise, but it looks like we’ve finally agreed.
We sold our safe, solid all-expensive-parts-recently-replaced Opel Astra 96 on Sunday. It was picked up on Monday and then the rain started pouring. After we had waved the Astra farewell and cleaned the oil stains from the leaks from the garage floor, I installed an app called RunKeeper on my IPhone to track me and Little H’s walking activities this week. It has been great fun, and encourages more and longer walks than earlier.
A new car has yet to be found. We are eagerly searching the internet for an almost new, spotless, less than 50.000 km driven, family car at a bargain price. So far, nothing, but at the weekend we’re aiming to visit some car dealers and see what we can find- if the dealers are in walking distance from home of course…

Sunday, 19 September 2010

And the winner is.....

And the winner is…. “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt. I first read it during my first or second year at university and really liked it, and am looking forward to re-read it. Here’s a short teaser:

It is the story of six classical students at a small posh (?) college in the States. The story essentially is about the murder of one of students, the events leading up to it and the impact the murder has on the lives of the rest of the group.

I just have to finish my current read, which embarrassingly makes me feel like a member of Oprah’s book club. I tend to stay away from bestsellers, but I forgot to cancel this one from the Norwegian book club…. Now I am sure to be an even more valued member ( I’m currently one of their most valued ones, probably due to forgetting to cancel the book of the month once or twice a year).

So now I confessing to be reading: Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. For synopsis and review read: EdgarSawtelle
Praise from Oprah:
"I think that this is right up there with the greatest American novels ever written," Oprah says. "Up there with Steinbeck and even Harper Lee."
Well so far it is not up there with The Grapes of Wrath, but engaging enough to take me past halfway. I will let you know my opinion once I get to the end, but so far I have to say the story is gripping and the language excellent. But as far as I can remember not up there with The Secret History, we’ll see…

Thursday, 9 September 2010

What to read?

I have always been fond of the written word and especially books. Words are full of potential, sentences can be magic and then you have the physical object of a book itself - The smell, the texture of the pages, the crunchy sound when you open a hard-back for the first time.
I guess we can call it love. Sometimes from page one, other times it takes longer, getting into the pace, the history and to see the potential. Other times the relationship ends abruptly before it has run its full course, on the other hand, if I hang in there despite the pain and discomfort it can end in indefinite loathing and bad mouthing to all my friends.

When asked about favorite author and favorite books it is difficult to answer. How can you single out one author and one book, when there are books for every occasion, an author for every season, and a delightful combination of both which can only be right there and then?

Yesterday I was standing in front of my bookshelf literally looking at my past, and decided it is time to revisit some of the places, reacquaint myself with some of the characters and hopefully to rediscover something forgotten on the way.

But where do I start? I have three books which tickles my fancy at present.

Please help me choose by voting using the poll to the right.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Nature vs. Nurture?

When making a baby it takes a fertile egg, a wiggling sperm and hopefully a bit of love and tenderness in a tropical climate. But you never know how much of who or what will be in the mix.
We had a going joke, that Little H could inherit everything from the Castro’s or the Uribarrens except clammy toes and the famous nose. The vote is still out on the nose, but those toes… Cold and clammy from day one, but a lot more appealing in size newborn than a size 8 - sorry Pappa Kas.
As from the Ruuds and Nyhus’es I did not really mind. I turned out ok didn’t I? The double chin could be avoided of course, and the fear of swimming pools, but just now I cannot come up with much more. The double chin is very much there, charming and cute for little H, soon to be turkey neck for myself.
Growing mature is harsh.
I think that when it comes to Little H’s features it is more the behavior than looks we should have worried about. How frequent are the bowel movements, and how bad do they smell? Will she drool so that she develops a nasty rash under her chin (with the double chin, and me as her mum, this is very likely) or will she suffer projectile vomiting? Will she refuse to eat nutritious food? Rejecting anything green and end up on a diet of hot chocolate and pain au chocolate?

Today the sms correspondence between me and my mum (Granny B(erit)) has been like this:
Me: When I was a baby did I sleep much during the day?
Granny B: You hardly slept at all- wide awake from 8 am till 8pm. Impossible to get anything done.
Me: Hmmmmm, that explains a lot.
Me: Another quick question: did I spit-up every 10 minutes ruining your nice clothes?
Granny B: You suffered from severe spit-up at every inconvenient moment. I could only wear washed out t-shirts, no matter where I went with you.
Me: Ah, that makes sense. Thanks for the tip.
Cannot wait to find out which other charming traits I had as a toddler.


Sunday, 29 August 2010

En helt vanlig dag på jobben

Da jeg ble gravid tenkte jeg: åhhh, så bra dette skal bli! Tid til å gjøre hva jeg aldri ellers har tid til. Nurket kommer til å bli eksemplarisk, sove hele dagen, spise til de samme tidene uten magevondt og ellers ligge drømmende i vuggen sin. Lite visste jeg om hva som ventet.

10 måneder senere med en liten kolikkbaby som sjelden sover på dagtid, er jeg heldig om jeg får strikket tre rader, snoket litt på Facebook og redd opp sengen før Pappa Kas kommer hjem fra jobb i 18-tiden.

En helt vanlig dag:

Våkner litt før åtte av at Lille H grynter og sparker vilt rundt seg. Tid for frokost. Pysjbukse og kardigan på. Tusler trøtt opp på kjøkkenet med en ganske så sint Lille H i armene. Hun er sulten, jeg er tørst. Varmer melken i mikroen mens jeg lager en kopp kaffe. Vi drikker i stillhet.

45 minutter og tre rap senere rulles yogamatten ut. Rekker nesten å komme igjennom en nyoppdaget morgenrutine (sjekk:morgenyoga) før lille H vil ha oppmerksomhet. Deretter er det morgenstell for mor og datter og vips så er det tid for formiddagsmat. Ambisjonene er definitivt senket fra pre-preggers stadiet, og dersom vi er ute og triller før kl 13 så har vi en god dag.
Vi triller ned mot Drammen sentrum. Går langs elven og spionerer på andre mammaer. Hvordan barnevogn har de? Hvor slitne ser de ut? Har de finere joggesko enn meg? Er været dårlig så er selvsagt gummistøvlene på, hvilken farge og merke? Passer de til barnevognen?

Ofte ender vi opp på kafé. Soya Mokka er obligatorisk. Vi henger med andre mummies i samme ærend - påfyll av koffein og voksenstimuli. Vi bytter kafé fra dag til dag slik at de ansatte ikke tror at vi ikke har andre aktiviteter. En yummy mummy fyller jo dagene med babysang, babysvømming, babymassasje og bootcamp / trilletur med personlig trener. Full pakke.
Arbeidsdagen avsluttes med trilling oppover bakkene hjem, men om vi er heldige plukker Pappa Kas oss opp med bilen(etter litt masing). Så venter enten en haug stryketøy, en løpetur eller et glass vin. Noen ganger rekker jeg alle tre før jeg sovner mens jeg gir lille H dagens siste flaske og stålsetter meg for nattskiftet.

Kjapp hoderegning viser at det er ca. 175 dager igjen til permisjonen er over…


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Stuck in a moment....

Once upon a long long time ago, let’s be honest and say in my youth, I swore that I was not going to be one of those sad grown-ups who live in the past, one of those frequently referring to how good everything was 10 years ago, sighing and saying that everything was much better before and they do not make the same quality films, music, festivals, etcetera any more.

But for a while now I have been noticing that I am living in the past, something last weekend’s activities surely proved. The Saturday had been marked in my calendar long before the summer began and Pappa Kas had agreed to spend quality time with little H, while Slummy Mummy T was drinking wine, catching up with colleagues and dancing to popular music, ehrmm…. I was going to see A-HA in concert, hardly the band of the moment, more the band of yore.

I remember it as clear as if it was yesterday watching MTV via satellite waiting for the synthesizer to play the catching first keys and the cool rotoscope video for “Take on me” start rolling. I wore brown and black strings of leather as wristbands, white sport socks, pale jeans shirts and slightly ripped stonewashed jeans (wops, while writing this I am still wearing stonewashed jeans… well, the fashion moves in cycles, and denim is still hot this autumn/ winter).

Last Saturday I wanted to be taken back to the magic moments of my youth and to relive my first experiences with popular music, fashion and male worshipping. Sadly it was not as expected. What failed?

Instead of having dressed up for a night out, I wore comfy jeans, a sequined cardigan and sensible (yet “funky” )trainers, a typical slummy mummy outfit, and a crime the fashion police might have arrested me for. Luckily the rest of the concert goers were other mummies on a ladies club night out fuelled by red wine and or couples in their early forties re-living their honeymoon days.

When Morten, Magne and Paal entered the stage I truly believed I was in for a magic couple of hours. They stilled looked the part. Magne, the cool synth player, now turned graphic artist, still rock star handsome. Paal still slightly reminded me of a young namesake from the Beatles, and the band member with the most “cred”. While Morten, well he was Morten, the most narcissistic singer I have ever come across, dressed in a shiny tight (bronze coloured) shirt.

I was back in 86’; the songs, the band, their image and all it made me feel was bored and uncomfortable. Bored because I had forgotten how monotonous the music was, and that I never really was that much of a fan. Uncomfortable standing behind some tall farting (yes) middle aged guys, I had no decent toilet to go to, and no bottle of water to quench my thirst. Thank god for my comfy trainers.

When the final song started playing I was already sneaking out from the stadium, longing back home to Little H, Pappa Kas and my CD collection.

Nostalgia is a beautiful thing – as long as you don’t try to re-live it live….


Monday, 16 August 2010

The name game….

There are times when Pappa Kas and I recognize that the cultural differences between Spain/ The Basque Country and Norway are bigger than what we originally thought.
It is not necessarily a bad thing, we are able to pick the best from both worlds and add some Scottish customs for good measure (from our time there). This means we can drink wine at lunchtime while eating deep fried mars bars – if we choose to. There list of benefits are inextinguishable.

Growing up in a small family I am now happy being part of a typical Latin extended family. It seems like the whole population over 70 in the Basque town of Elorrio has become my tio, tia or abouela (granny) regardless of family ties. Can you have too many nice aunties? They feed you and pinch your cheek no matter if you are three or thirty. I also find some of their customs rather amusing. Before we became pregnant with Little H, one of our tia’s insisted on always feeding me crusts as it supposedly is good for the fertility. My friends back home found it hilarious. Does it work? Who knows?

Back to the point: When choosing a name for Little H we felt challenged. The list of criteria’s were long and we had to chose a name which could easily be spelt, pronounced and recognized as a girl’s name in most parts of the world (European and Latin countries at least).

Hanna was on the shortlist and got chosen unanimously by the family board (Papa Kas and myself) although it presented some challenges with pronunciation for the Castro’s, Uribarren’s and the Reta’s. They have all been practicing and it now sounds a lot more like Hanna, than Anna, as their H at the start of a word, usually is silent.
When it came to surnames I understood that a family name is serious business in Spain and you cannot mix and match the way you prefer. It is set in stone and cannot be changed. What do they do if their name means something offensive in let’s say Norwegian? Or is unaware of who is their dad and will then be shamed to only having one surname? … I see many difficulties here….

So when it comes to surnames in the Basque region the rule is that upon your birth you get two surnames, your mums and your dads. Easy peasy with our little H then, Hanna Castro (as her dad) Nyhus (as her mum). Hanna Castro Nyhus, not bad at all we agreed.

Then came the form from the public registrar to fill in so that Little H would become “official” with her own personnel number and all. Here we got in trouble. As the two surnames are equally significant in Spain, there is no middle name. Here in Norway, Castro would be Hanna’s middle name to her dad’s despair if we did not link the two surnames together. So officially we now have a daughter with the name Hanna Castro-(hyphen)Nyhus. And we like it! It gives her an extra flair when we have to give her name, doesn’t it?


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

Family Fever!

This summer has been all about family, no romantic couples holidays, no spontaneous activities, no binge drinking… BUT the arrival of Little H and the constant stream of family visits wanting to admire the newcomer has been equally satisfying.

On Saturday Tia Eli and Tio Inigo came from Elorrio to Lier to spend their holiday with the Castro Nyhus clan. They did of course not come to admire the apple trees and the view, or to catch up with their grown-up relatives, but to hold, cuddle and fall in love with Hanna.

So now when she has another fraction of her fan club here, I might be able to do some work on my blog… Watch this space!


Friday, 30 July 2010

Have ones cake….

If you know me, you might already have had a suspicion. After you have read this you will nod for yourself and think “how did I not notice? The signs were there all the time!”.
Ok, here it goes. I am a feeder. I love to feed others, family, friends, colleagues and the food of choice is muffins, sweet buns, chocolate cakes or other sugary but guilty treats. The reason for baking and sharing is obvious, so I can indulge too.

So whenever I bring muffins to work, serve cake or buns when having guests, it is because I have a sweet tooth and wants to have some myself.

I am crazy about sweet buns and muffins, and I think that there’s the answer to my never disappearing ‘muffin top’. As the scary Gillian McKeith says: "you are what you eat". It is true, so true.

So what can I do? I want to have my cake and eat it too!


Monday, 26 July 2010

Born to run

Several years ago when I had just started running a good friend and fellow runner said to me: “Trude, you were born to run (as in the jogging way)”.
I had just started my new fitness craze, initiated by having no money for a gym membership together with the desperate need for some exercise. Running was also becoming increasingly popular by some of my gym  buddies, and I was eager to ripe the benefits: toned legs, weight loss, fresh air which would benefit my skin bla bla bla.

In the beginning it could not be called running, more like jogging at the speed of a turtle, but being convinced I was born to run, I hung in there. It was hard.

Now I am pretty much in the same situation. Trying to get back in shape after the birth of Little H, not really having time to join a gym, running is practical. There are plenty of good tracks here in the area and I hope to be back in shape in a month or two…

The goal is to run the Killer Hill in front of my house by the 30th of August. That hill is so steep and long that they recently used it for a Norwegian championship in longboard Last Saturday morning I came about 1/5 up. It really is a long hill to conquer- I promise.

My motivation is helped by having cheesy and embarrassing tracks on my Ipod and I am trying to time the runs so that when the killer hill comes, the track is of course by Bruce Springsteen- as you know I AM born to run.

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