December 29, 2009

A California Christmas

Surrounded by national forest and with Yosemite just a short drive away, the beautiful Christmas weather has given us all a chance to get out and play and spend time with family. We are grateful for the chance to wind down from a hectic autumn and look ahead to the adventures planned for 2010, but more than anything we are enjoying the moment and being together with our children and their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

A few days before Christmas, we took a drive up into the mountains on a small dirt road as far as the snow would allow. Here we stopped the car and got out to breathe in the scent of pine trees and allow the boys to get out and get dirty. As I watched them climb and crawl over boulders and search for sugar pine cones, the theme for our year together suddenly came to me. The year of getting dirty. The coming year is all about getting outside together and getting dirty, trying new things and doing more of the things we already enjoy doing outdoors.

December 19, 2009

Christmas preparations

After a few days of rain, the sun finally returned and we started adapting to the California climate. With the holiday season in full swing, we are settling in for Christmas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

Despite being removed from the bright lights of the city, the neon Christmas is still hard to avoid. It's not necessarily the bright lights that detract our attention, but rather the focus that has changed from the traditional celebration of Christmas to something quicker, easier, and watered down.  Despite one's beliefs, our celebration of this holiday season does have it's roots in the story of Christmas, a story of giving selflessly what we each have to offer. As we settle in and absorb the sights and sounds around us we have time to observe and contemplate our own beliefs and intentions. What kind of gifts do we want to give this Christmas season, what kind of memories to we want to create, particularly for our children?

December 11, 2009

On our way

As Obama fever was slowly taking hold across Norway, and Oslo in particular, we made our escape from the hysteria on a well planned journey into the unknown. In many ways, our months of planning and preparation made our departure somewhat undramatic, as though it was a natural progress of everything that had brought us to this moment. Most of our bags had already been packed for a few weeks as part of our moving out and moving on. It was all just a matter of trains, buses, and airplanes to get us from our origin to our destination.

The intimidatingly long journey didn't seem so daunting with the thought of what lie ahead. Elias particularly was well aware that we were on an airplane to California. Despite having no concept of what or where California actually is or was, he was somehow in tune with the journey that lie ahead.

Nearly 24 hours later, we finally arrived, exhausted and relieved. Despite missing our transfer in LAX, thanks to the experience of "immigrating", we were able to catch a later flight and make it out of the neon lights and into the countryside.

Los Angeles reminded us of the contrasts that exist in the United States, and the choices that we have to make on how we want to live our lives. The journey ahead has much to do with a search for a simpler life, yet first we have to get beyond the barrier of consumerism that tries to distract us.

In the end we arrived off the beaten path, surrounded by majestic pines and oaks, a few patches of snow on the ground holding out against the falling rain. It is now the real journey begins, starting to put together the pieces of the puzzle that we have been planning for.