Archive for August, 2015

Here’s what I remember about starting the school year:

Getting the list of school supplies sent to our home sometime in early August. Finding out which teacher I’d have. The general jitters of the unknown.

I do NOT remember having to be dragged out of bed on the morning of the first day of school. Or whining over breakfast about how boring I already know second grade is going to be. For example. I mean, is seven really the age where we start to pretend we’re not excited about school? Already?

Sigh. It’s going to be a long year.

Predictably, our new second grader perked up after breakfast, and walked voluntarily to the car. Here he is, in all his off-handed glory:

first day second grade

Happy skolestart, one and all!

(Incidentally, there is no list of school supplies to buy  when one begins school in Steinkjer, The information listed on the schools website includes AND is limited to: The date school begins, the time it begins, and the last day of school this semester. I’m not even really sure what time school ends today.

Sometimes I do really well with not having all the information. Sometimes I need to take a lot of deep breaths.)


The day went well, according to the miniscule amount of information I could get out of Karel. The best part of MY day was seeing the little brothers throw themselves at Karel when we walked up to meet him….at the guesstimated hour. And Cai using his few words and sounds to immediately tell Karel about the cat we saw on the walk up to school.

However, sweet as all that was, and the 1,047 ideas that came spilling out of Karel’s head/mouth once we got home that were surprisingly oriented at doing nice things for Emil, we did have to face the Homework Demon on the very. first. day. Sigh. Wailing, gnashing of teeth, rubber limbs, defiance, insolence, avoidance. Granted, it was the ”write/draw what you did on summer vacation” deal, which is the type of thing we, found out last year that Mr. Concrete Task doesn’t do so well with. But come ON! We took the big airplane to America! We camped and played and swam and saw the dinosaur skeletons and fireflies and Leogland and friends and aunts and uncles honestly is ”we ate ice cream and jello” the best we can come up with here??

Whatever. The assignment was completed in time for sports practice, which was the motivation and the goal.


Also: Included in his take home folder was aaaalllll the necessary information for the rest of the school year, including when school is out each day. I have made copies already and tacked them to the bulletin board. This has become my new strategy. Treat the information as if it is gold and never let it out of your sight.

Five years, man, and I STILL don’t know how to find stuff out.

Read Full Post »

Here’s the thing: CR doesn’t talk much. He makes his needs known by using lots of sounds and his incredibly intuitive mother’s interpretation abilities (ahem), but doesn’t exactly have a lot of words. Like maybe 10. Bjørn contends that the majority of those are verbs. For some reason it’s easier to make an animal sound than actually say the name of the animal. Neigh, baa, woof, that incredibly realistic pig noise he must have learned from his father… but I digress. His sign/sound for plane is ”ah ah ah ah ah whoooosh!!!” with a palm-down chubby little hand racing into the sky.

Here’s the other thing: Years from now we will probably talk to people about how we travelled every other year or so with the kids while they were all sizes of small, and based on their own experiences will either show their own battle scars or look at us wide-eyed as if we have halos. Or are crazy. Or have crazy halos. Anyway, let our internet record show that 2.25 years of age is actually an IDEAL time to travel. Maybe even the most fun. THEY ARE SO EXCITED!!!!! We’ve travelled with three different 2 year olds now, and I’m telling you, the amazement and wonder (AH AH AH WHOOOSH!!!!) at seeing planes everywhere, and then being on one, and then looking out the window…it almost makes those sketchy 3 hours in the middle of the long flight worth it.

We’ve been home 2 weeks now, and about every third time we get in the car, Cai asks hopefully if we’re going to whoosh. That child is ready. to. go. I ask him who he wants to visit. No answer. Purely the journey.

Anyway, CR totally charmed the older couple across the aisle from us. Long golden locks and dark brown eyes… it’s not surprising. i will gladly listen to strangers gush about my children, but how do you respond, right? That demure and self-deprecating one-liner that covers a) why yes, you think they are the most gorgeous children on earth, b) you know you think that because they came out of you but, c) how lovely to have your suspicions corroborated by these impartial strangers! and finally d) somehow despite all these emotions of love and pride I cannot quite make the words ”he is such an angel” match up with any of the children I assumed the kind stranger was talking about (aka mine).

I, in all my eloquence, resorted to a blank stare as all the non-angelic deeds of this particular child flashed through my head on speed reel. Small forced smile, polite laugh, ”Ha ha ha… God makes the naughty ones cute, I guess.” There may or may not have been a reference to a desire to throw naughty children in the fjord.

My second favorite comment was from the lady who, while debarking, looked at the little fallen bodies around us and reminisced about how she used to do the flight from London to Chicago with FOUR kids, back in the old days. I presume that means before in-flight entertainment. At that moment I was the wide eyed one seeing the crazy halo on her. I squeezed out a ”God bless you.” and just had to close my eyes for a second.  Then she carried on down the aisle, with a quick parting comment tossed over her shoulder:

”The fourth one was a girl. Just throwing that out there.”

Cue internal hysterical laughter.

Read Full Post »

Brown cheese and knekkerbrød for breakfast: We’re back in Norway. The day before leaving to come back home from 3.5 weeks in the U.S. we started focusing on the positives of coming back to Norway. Or rather, I did. Ripe raspberries, our own beds, our own coffee pot ( 🙂 ). The boys’ LEGOs, Norwegian cartoons. Because it’s a rainy 50 degrees out now, and the raspberries are NOT ripe, and the kids are watching Norwegian cartoons (or rather cartoons in Norwegian), let’s do a quick review of our American Summer, because let’s be honest — it’s now or never.

We can start with the pre-trip warm up: Two days before departure we celebrated Karel’s 7th birthday with his school friends in a water-oriented party at our house. Thank goodness the weather cooperated, and water balloons rained down on 7 little boys. Chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, pizza, brownies, and carrot sticks — ! think everything was consumed.

One day before departure we were calmly packing, two parents at home, two children at barnehage.The trend toward the least-stressful traveling experience known to the Lyngstads most likely started on this day.

Day of departure: We arrived on time, with all luggage and children intact and happy. No security escapades, no flight drama, just a bit of mild ”how are we going to do this?”, echoed by every passing passenger, when all three kids were fast asleep upon touchdown in Chicago. And then they woke up and were so excited about being where we were that they walked on their own tired little feet off the plane and through all the subsequent lines. Which were short. And all of our luggage showed up on the right belt, except for the stroller which was just one belt over. Which I found out by asking the lovely English speaking attendants standing nearby. I wanted to hug everyone working at O’Hare. Emil noticed right away the difference in interpersonal communication; he asked me if I knew that lady I was talking to about the stroller? No, darling Emil, I don’t. This is just how we talk to everyone we meet in America. Sweet freedom to be expressive. Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Chris were there to meet us with open arms at the airport, and Grandma doesn’t even have to break the ice with the bigger ones anymore by having toys in her pocket.

The first days are a blur of early bedtimes and 3 a.m. snacks, finding bread/peanut butter/jelly/cheese that isn’t totally rejected by norskified taste buds. Tuesday arrival, Wednesday dress fitting and grocery shopping, Thursday Target-run and cherry-pitting, Friday birthday party with ALL Leyrer aunts and uncles!, sick Cai Ruben through it all, Saturday Kim & Mandy take on the mall and emerge victorious (wedding shoes? check. Wedding clothes for kids? check. Haircut and Kim’s first ever eyebrow wax? CHECK. All in three hours or less. That’s right.) Saturday bachelor party, Sunday men: recovery, women and children Sunday school and church. It was a relaxed but productive start. Our first planned outing was already on Sunday. Packed up Grandma’s car with borrowed camping gear and headed an hour north for Harrington Beach State Park, with one rather long stop along the way. Turns out our trips to the U.S. correspond with the furlough years of my mission family in Malawi. That very Sunday we were heading an hour north, they were hosting an ”African Reunion” barbecue that was totally on our route. So there I was, hugging and chatting and getting teary eyed and laughing with the friends that were family in Malawi and Zambia, with my own family in tow whom most of them have never met. And it was a huge boost, to be back among people who knew me as independent and capable.  A contrast to my current life and location where I can barely speak and sometimes beg my husband to make phone calls for me. So on that high, we carried on to meet our dear Minneapolis friends Jen & Dave, Ella & Enzo. We set up the tent, grilled some hot dogs and marshmallows, caught fireflies, and watched with amazement as the two 7-year-olds ran back and forth from site to site together, exactly how I remember camping trips when I was the kid instead of the parent. We knew there was a 60% chance of rain. Maybe didn’t exactly know HOW much rain there was a chance of.

Read Full Post »