Archive for September, 2013

Happy Friday, friends. 🙂 I started out thinking I’d write out a quick week in review, because it’s gone so fast and I can’t quite remember what happened on what day, only a string of moments triggering intense emotions or thoughts or images.

Then I read the comment section of this, and became confused. And watched this, and was sad. And then this and got a little bit scared because I’ve probably done something wrong. And scanned headlines about Westgate in Kenya, earthquakes and bombings in Pakistan, the ongoing Syrian crisis… and wondered about the balance of being informed but not anxious.

Which means it’s time to do what I have learned to do best: retract and refocus, filling in the remaining space with prayers. So back we shall go to fulfilling my task as family record-keeper, with the bright points of the week.

  • It’s autumn now. We’re digging out fleece and wool — which was actually put away this summer. The shifting of gear throws the growth rate of the boys into an all too bright light. What fits, what doesn’t, what can make do until an upgrade; remembering that as incredible as it seems now, the boots that are too small for Emil Birk should be saved for Cai Ruben. I usually love autumn, especially here. In the past, when it finally got to be September and October I felt we could stop  the daily cycle of hoping for/being dissapointed by summer weather that never really came. So autumn was a relief, in a way. But this year we had sun and warmth. I had a sandal tan for the first time in years. I dipped into the fjord, not once but TWICE this summer, for the first time since living here. That’s an indicator of heat right there, folks. The convenience of wearing only one layer and not worrying about finding socks — I’m not quite ready to go into the darkness and long undewear yet. On the flip side, I’ve been waiting all summer to dive into autumn cooking and baking. Squash, apples, berries — never quite enough time to pick or find as many as I’d like.
  • This week the house has been filled with animals. I’m never quite sure what or whom I’m going to find when I leave the room and come back. Last night we had a dinosaur and a wolf; a couple of days earlier Karel spent the day as the family’s cat; an elephant with a pretty realistic trumpet-call shows up most days, as does an assortment of baby animals at bedtime. In real animal news, I flushed our first fish casualty last week. Emil picked out a new one yesterday, and while she will never read this, I would like to thank the kind pet-store-lady for scooping out the exact fish that Emil pointed out. There’s not too much cuter in my little world than EB’s dimpled trying-not-to-smile face.
  • The boys have also been in varying states of health this week. Karel was home through Wednesday with a low fever and headache. Cai was fussy and warm the first part of the week as well. The combination of a rash, a low fever, and a bulging fontanelle was enough to book an appointment with our family doctor, who in turn referred us to the hospital so a pediatrician could have a look. Several hours later, after a thorough exam and an ultrasound of his little head checked out, we were on our way back home. I’m happy to say that our smiley snuggly baby is back to normal. There’s not too much cuter in my little world than Cai-baby giggles.
  • With at least two kids home everyday (but today) this week, there are always the ”i-didn’t-really-see-that-coming” moments which I now proudly meet without batting an eye. I’d already cleaned up a broken glass (I can’t remember which running Emil-animal it was that caused it) when I went downstairs to change Cai’s diaper. Emil Birk standing in the middle of a small sea of fish food is what I found when I came back up. A thorough explanation of how he-held-it-upside-down-but-the-cap-wasn’t-on-and-now-he’s-trying-to-clean-it-up convinced me it wasn’t one of his ”let’s see how gravity works” dumping out antics, so we calmly scooped up fish food together. Which raised the question of which is messier? A 3 year old spilling the fish food  or a 3 year old cleaning up the fish food? Jury is still out.
  • This week I went to my very first parent meeting at barnehage. Bjørn has always gone in the past, since, you know, he could understand things. Oh, and someone needed to be home with the kids. This time there were some issues raised that I was interested in, so I figured it was probably about time to pull my head out of the sand, face my conflict fears, and wander into the world of opinioned parenting. Ann Inger came to stay with the big boys while we went to the meeting with Cai Ruben. Being in the thick of the parenting business was hit home, once again, as we realized that walking to barnehage in the evening, with only the baby, in order to go to a parent meeting felt suspiciously like a date. I also realized that continuing to be involved in parent meetings is going to be a very good opportunity for me to practice keeping my heart rate in check when people/friends give strongly worded differences of opinion. Because, wait a minute — you mean we can disagree on a very concrete issue but still be friends? And I’m the only one that’s stressed by this slight lack of concord?? Get out of town, and behold the light.
  • In addition to going to parent meetings, we continued on our reluctant journey to adulthood by purchasing a dining room table. Buying things that are actually what we want instead of making do with what we have (usually obtained for free) still feels kind of weird, but we’re dealing with it. There’s not too much sweeter in my little world than Karel making his little excitement-in-every-day observations: ”this is the first dinner we’re eating on our new table!’
  • We had lovely visits this week –the previous weekend found us both in Verdal and Frosta, visiting great-grandparents and the Bolstad-Laugen clan withour 6 combined kids, repsectively; Ann Inger had dinner with us Wednesday and took the crazy task of putting the boys to bed; our friend Morten stopped by with muffins made by his lovely wife Heidi after Monday’s facebook plea for comfort food/drink; Silje and her beautiful ever growing belly spent the afternoon with us on Thursday; and today we’ll just have to see. The community of friends we’re building is becoming strong enough to withstand last-minute dinner invitations (as often we feel we have the energy to give them), an aspect of our Minneapolis life we’ve missed.

There we have it — the week in a much too detailed review for the likes of a commercial blog, but perfect for the purposes of ours. Today is gray and drizzly, the type of day I usually use as an excuse to bake and baby-snuggle, write here and clean far to little. Greetings and love to our friends and family, and blessings on the weekend.

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Oh my goodness. I know all moms say this, but how on earth did our middle child get to be THREE already? Karel was 5 in my head for months before his actual birthday, so that was okay (because time would stop and his birthday wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t okay, obviously) (insert eye roll), but this three year old thing is throwing me for a loop.

Emil Birk is our/my gauge of how long we’ve been in Norway, so I guess that kind of explains why it’s so weird to me that he’s getting bigger. I mean, didn’t we just move here? If I’ve lived here long enough to have two babies (WHAT?!?!), that means I should have the language down, right? (Whatever. That’s crazy talk. Living somewhere long enough to have two babies means you have at least two babies, which means basic communication in any language is a challenge. Choosing to not beat myself up over that one.)

Anyway, poor EB has been waiting for his birthday for a loooooong time. Karel had kind of a super-extended celebration, with cake and presents on multiple occasions, and Emil just kept asking when it was going to be HIS birthday. One night he totally busted out denial as a coping mechanism and told me –complete with crossed arms and tears — it was never going to be his birthday (Æ skal aldri har bursdagen min).  So when it finally came around the whole extended family on both sides of the ocean have been very keyed into making Emil’s day very special, too.

So, of course, i was on the verge of being a tiny bit stressed, because I wanted this long awaited event to live up to his expectations. And, as usual, when I overestimate what can be done, things get a little bit ridiculous. The upside is  that there is nowhere better than the brink of failure to reevaluate what is actually important.

”Brink of failure” being, in this case, decorating african animal cut out cookies with frosting the color of caviar. I’d bought the cookie cutters in the States and was really excited to make pretty animal cookies for our little nature lover. Totally aware of how long sugar cookies take, I started the process early in the week. I kind of forgot to figure out how to make the appropriate color for lion and giraffe fur. Unfortunately for them, the last time I checked, ”tawny” and ”roe” where not the same color.

It’s crazy how easy it is to get sucked into the world of showing love through stuff. It was seriously like the devil/angel on the shoulder scenario when I was at the shopping center this past week. ”Is he getting a toy? Maybe we should get him another toy. So he’ll be happy,” — and I almost literally felt my brain being pulled into the black hole of stuff, which is an extremely stressful location. Evaluate what toy is going to make my 3 year old happy? Please. Why not decode the thought processes of insert-dicatator’s-name-here? It’d be easier. Which is where we cue the voice of love and light on the other shoulder, reassuringly whispering, ”if we just spend time with him and let him know how much we love him, he’ll be okay.” Full. Confident. Maybe even peaceful.

THAT we can do.  We went for a ”vawwk” (Emil-speak for ”walk”) in the the woods the morning before his party. He skipped over tree roots and pointed out and counted all the mushrooms the forest had to offer that day. We heard a woodpecker, and it was the 3 year old set of eyes that located the bird first.

”I hope,” I’d said to a wary Bjørn at 11 p.m. two nights before, surrounded by ridiculous animal cookies, ”that when the kids grow up and look back on these little birthday parties they’ll know that I really tried. And that they realize my love language is food.”

Which means that I’m asking the future Emil Birk to look back on these sugar cookie lions with the Alec Baldwin manes and fish-egg colored fur and know that it means that we love him. Stubborn, sweet, strong, LOUD, artistic, curious, unafraid, and so, so funny — you might have been sent to your room even on your birthday, but if you look at those lumpy elephant cookies and the frosting snails, you’ll know how much we love you.

cookies red

Funny how the image of something you see in your head never meets reality.

Funny how the image of something you see in your head never meets reality.

birthday breakfast red

King for the day with a breakfast burrito. What else?

birthday cakes red

Happy Birthday, little man

blowing candles red
Three candles? Piece of cake…(or raspberry tart, as the case may be, for our berry loving boy)

hele gjengen red.

BM EB tent red.

Pappa and the birthday boy in his new tent.

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