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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

(Catie Michaelson, this is for you! I DID remember to do part two 🙂 

(Also, for everyone else, this is waay too long and not interesting so just skip it)

Where did we leave off? April? Which brings us to

May: Oi oi oi. May was a big one. I was just cruising through the ”draft” folder and found this:

I am so tired.

I am so tired that even before typing those words — just thinking them — i had to get up and refill my coffee. The coffee pot that I almost filled up yesterday morning, before I remembered that I’d be the only one drinking it. These guys have been living with and helping me manage our day-to-day chaos for the past 2 weeks, and just left yesterday morning. They arrived the day after we got back from a taste of summer and a 60th birthday festival in the south with these guys, and this guy has been travelling for basically the past two weeks.

And life goes on in the meantime. Swimming lessons, track practice, library books, school meetings. Finding lost papers, paying forgotten bills. Putting up the ladder for the chimney sweep who just had to come now.

I think I was meaning to insert pictures of Mom, Dad and Chris, Ivar and Lil Torunn; and Bjørn, respectively, after each mention of ”guys.”

It’s all coming back to me — We flew to Kristiansand and drove to Arendal for Ivar’s 60th birthday celebration, which was to be a mega party of several days. I don’t think we’d flown anywhere since the previous fall, when Emil Birk hitch-hiked back from the zoo. So, please, imagine our surprise when ALL OF THE TRAVEL WENT INCREDIBLY SMOOTHLY.  Not a single horror story to relate. And we ate and drank and celebrated 60 years of Ivar in the warmth of the southern coast.

We drove home from the airport after Arendal, and then drove back the next day to pick up our American grandparents and Uncle. They fit right in to our routine like they live next door. Bjørn was gone for 8 of the days they were here, and I was extremely grateful for the back up. It’s not fair to travel all the way to Norway just to babysit, though, so we took one long weekend and drove our Wisconsinites, who had just survived a winter of polar vortexes, back into the snow through the mountains to Røros. One UNESCO World Heritage Site and one Eurovision Song Contest in one weekend? Pretty sure that checked ”Cultural Experiences” off the to-do list.

It can’t be said enough how grateful the five of us are to have family that is willing to travel to come see us. A very belated thank you for a very lovely visit.

June: June, june, what happened in June? YES — the first showing of our house. Can I just say how weird it is to have your house be so clean and empty that it echoes? Part of me was proud, and part of me rolled my eyes. I’d spent seriously years trying to banish the echoiness of that house. Anyway, we took Karel to track practice, ate pizza in the park afterwards, and kept waiting to hear from the realtor. No one came, friends. No one came to witness the beauty and echoiness of Solvangvegen 17. Anyway, that’s all I really remeber about June.

Wait! My little brother asked his beautiful girlfriend to marry him in June! Hearing the words ”and I asked her to marry me” come out of his mouth caused my heart and gut to react in exactly the same way they did watching our last baby take his first steps. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Jessie for saying ”yes” to Jon and all of us.

July: Another snippet of forsaken blogpost:

Summer 2014: It was hot. We develop a routine — one day at the beach, one day at home. We counted that we visited seven (or was it eight) different beaches, most more than once. Cai Ruben learned to walk at the beach — on the sand, on the rocks, in the water. He discovered splashing and sitting and throwing rocks in the water. He used the inflatable swimming ring as  walker and cruised along the waterline.

We really did spend July in the water. As in, I actually went into the water. We hoped we’d be moving in July, so we didn’t make any travel plans. And we couldn’t have found better summer weather anywhere else. The boys were naked all. the time. I’d get them dressed, send them out to play, look out the window and their pants would be gone. But can you believe there are so many beaches around here? Long sandy, shallow beaches where you can wade fifty meters out and have water still be below your knees. PERFECT for children of a slightly water-phobic mom.

AND we had guests! My highschool classmate Katie and her husband Tim just happened to be in Sweden, and decided that it wasn’t too far out of the way to come and see us! It was a real blessing to reconnect after so many years. Katie and Tim’s visit had a lasting effect — Emil Birk, who until that point had refused to speak English to anyone (despite his perfect comprehension), suddenly just started explaining things to our guests. In English. We were quietly elated.

Oh! AND after three more showings, our house sold! Cue simultaneous feelings of freedom and slight anxiety. Now we can move! But where??

August: Right, so, since we needed to find someplace to move TO, the primary activity of August was househunting, and getting ready for Karel to start school at the end of the month. By the grace of God, both objectives were met with more success than we had hoped for. We found a house that we thought was out of our league — twice as big, good condition, stunning view, walking distance from school, apples trees in the back yard! — and put in our best offer. Turns out it was the only offer, which meant our best was good enough. Even now, 6 months later, we’re still in a little big of shock. Our bid was accepted the week before school started, and transferring Karel’s information from one school district to the new one could not have been easier.

So then there was that — our first born starting first grade. He was excited, and nervous, and brave and started in his new school without a second glance back. But just how he got big enough to start school I still do not understand.

Upping the tempo a bit here now, because this is NOT going to go to a part 3.

September: Bank meetings, paper signing, walkthroughs, PACKING PACKING PACKING, calling on friends shamelessly to move heavy objects from one side of town to the other on repeated days. Moving in the middle of the week for reasons that we questioned in the midst of the process. We started to paint and plaster at the new place with the dream of finishing before we moved in. Bjørn travelled to Italy, I got sick, Bjørn travelled somewhere else, I became a bit of mess… but one way or another we got all of our stuff in and were waking up to the view of the fjord by the end of the month.

September brought some bumps in the road for Karel during school, as we set down that path of learning some of life’s hard lessons. September also brought us a 4 year old, and saw a one year old who could barely walk start to hop. With both feet. Off the ground.

Heaven help me.

October: As of October 1st, we turned over the keys (and consequently the mortgage) of Sølvangvegen 17. Super great to be back down to having only one house to clean. We spent October getting organized, I think. Or at least settled. We made applesauce and apple pie from apples from our very own apple trees. We discovered that there is a small woods adjacent to our lot, so while we no longer run through the woods to get to barnehage, we can at least play in one when we’re home.

November: I think November was pretty calm, too. We worked on getting into our new routines with school. Bjørn was travelling a bit more again, and things were a bit tense at times with trying to help a first grader with way too much homework while willing the two smaller ones to not harm each other. But we made it. I started looking into what it would take to be a doula in Norway, and had a lovely and informative meeting with one of the two doulas in our section of Norway. We celebrated Thanksgiving with the local North American crew, which had everything it should have: turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pies, wine, friends, family, running kids, and as if that wasn’t enough, for one reason or another we all started singing from ”The Sound of Music” … and the day was perfect.

December: December brought us to our first Christmas in our own house, and all that came with it. Gingerbread, decorating, meal planning. Bjørn had arranged for Ann Inger to take ALL THREE BOYS for a night in the beginning of December (honestly, I had nothing to do with it) so we were able to start out the holiday season with clear heads and child-free shopping. This year felt much more relaxed than other years, and I wonder if that early night out had something to do with it. On that little trip I also bought a new dress. It is wool. A wool dress. And it is the most comfortable and warmest thing I have ever had on ever so I think — I think — I have jumped up another step on the assimilation ladder.

December isn’t december without a little bit of drama — ours came in the form of urgent care visits for a cat bite (Cai Ruben); a sudden overwhelming sulfer-y smell in the house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve (I was desperately forming evacuation plans in my head); and a little conversion mix-up which led me to accidentally buy a 20 pound turkey (instead of say, 8) to feed 5 adults and 3 children on Christmas Day. Needless to say, everything ended up juuuuust fine.

So there we have it. Seven — no, eight months recounting the random blessedness of our little lives. The Lord continues to shine His face upon us… and keep us warm.

 

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christmas 2013 104‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house; All the Lyngstads were dressed, no pajamas to be found…

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small legos reduced

Bjørn & sons putting together Karel’s ”small Lego garbage truck” Christmas present. It was difficult to tell who was more excited about it. ”I can’t believe I have an excuse to do this again!” saith Pappa.

boys arendal reduced

We had perfect weather during our stay in Arendal — not too cold, fresh snow, and lots of grown-ups to play with.

Here we have the somewhat forced family photo. Karel is learning the art of smiling on command while Emil perfects the art of looking tough.

Here we have the somewhat forced family photo. Karel is learning the art of smiling on command while Emil perfects the art of looking tough.

On the verge of getting sick, Emil Birk decides it is much more practical to wear a '''kosedyr''/ stuffed animal than it is to carry one around. He spent three days wearing this dinosaur costume...and no, the tail is not a problem to fit in the car seat.

On the verge of getting sick, Emil Birk decides it is much more practical to wear a ”’kosedyr”/ stuffed animal than it is to carry one around. He spent three days wearing this dinosaur costume…and no, the tail is not a problem to fit in the car seat.

 

K and E wearing the buffs they received from the Fetters. Thanks, Jen, Dave, Ella June and Enzo!!!

K and E wearing the buffs they received from the Fetters. Thanks, Jen, Dave, Ella June and Enzo!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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pepperkake 4 reduced

pepperkake hus 1 reduced

pepperkake hus 2 reduced

pepperkake hus 3 reduced

pepperkake 5 reduced

Christmas season means pepperkake. The boys were both much more interested in decorating this year than in past years… and Emil’s dreams were surely filled with gingerbread men as more than once the first words out of his mouth in the morning and the last ones before bed had to do with pepperkake. A few belated photos of our December endeavors.

**update: the boys saw these photos when they got up this morning and both oohed and aahhed and gave a small sigh of good-things-now-gone. ”I wish we could eat more pepperkake…*sigh*” said a wistful Karel. ”Pepperkake gris!! (gingerbread pig!!) said an equally wistful Emil. Who knew the power of molasses? **

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Giving mothers a hand

For the family and friends and random people who somehow end up here, I’m sharing links to a couple of organizations that are fighting the good fight, not at home but abroad. These are organizations that are often in my thoughts, and ones that I often wish I could help more.

Here is a link to the African Mother’s Health Initiative, founded by a lovely woman I met in Malawi by the name of Joanne Chiwaula. Well, she was Joanne Jorrissen at the time, but we all find love in Malawi…right, Alicia? 🙂 Anyway, Joanne is a midwife who saw a need and worked to start an organization to fill that need. They are able to fill in the gap between the hospital and home by providing follow-up support and formula for the families of new motherless babes. There are not many other organizations doing this kind of work in the Lilongwe area — or maybe even in the rest of Malawi.

Well, there is maybe one. 🙂 The Central Africa Medical Mission‘s Lutheran Mobile Clinic works hard to fill in gaps, too. The infant formula program for orphaned infants and multiple biths has always been an important part of the clinic. But just like with everything, not always having enough funding keeps the program on and ebb-and-flow kind of routine. Well, and other things. I seem to remember a truck full of formula being stuck at the border for quite some time, which had Alicia and I wondering how much formula we could buy off of grocery store shelves in good conscience. At any rate, while formula distribution is not the primary service the LMC offers, it is an important one.

Christmas is upon us! May the peace and love of the Child shine blaze through the clouds.

Love, Kim

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Isn’t it amazing what a couple of weeks of routine and decent sleep can do to you?

Ambition rises, challenges are exciting instead of debilitating, the laundry pile diminishes so much it can be contained within it’s closet home…

That was  the first part of November, for the most part. While the kids were in barnehage, I got things done. I washed the floors, for crying out loud. While they were home, we made bread and knekkerbrød and took the occasional trip out (let’s not get carried away — they are still very active and I am still pregnant, so I practice a good bit of ”containment” as a parenting strategy). Bjørn was travelling a lot, and we managed to do it all — doctors appointments, ultrasounds, parent-teacher meetings, and the occasional coffee outing. For about a minute, I felt on top of things. WE EVEN MADE — AND DECORATED OUR FIRST BATCH OF GINGERBREAD. If that’s not ”on-top-of-it,” I don’t know what is.

So I decided that I (with the help of my supportive husband) would decidedly try to move forward with this little baking-for-profit venture. I set up meetings, made arrangements, promoted my wares, got some positive response (!), and dreamt about how great it would be to sell some cookies here and there before Christmas, which is, after all, cookie eating season.

Insert head-shaking, rueful, eye-rolling, slightly maniacal laughter.

Oh, December. How could I have forgotten you?

The last weeks I have been surrounded by coughing, watery-eyed, clingy, occasionally diarrhea-ic males. It’s remarkable, really, how all three of them have the exact same cough. It’s also remarkable that I DON’T have it yet, especially considering I am smooshed between them all  every night in our bed.

So all those ”free” hours I was going to use to fill our forms and bake my little heart out disappeared…as I should have anticipated that they would. Now that it’s too late and commitments have been made, the clarity has set in. Or is that hindsight?

What on EARTH was I thinking when I decided to embark on a new project NOW? In early winter? When all the winter-cold-virus germs have come back from vacation and are ready to party? What delusional mom of two, husband of one (who has also just started a new position) does that?

I suspect quite a few, actually. So just laugh (maniacally if you will) and shake your heads with me, and pray I have a bit better sense next year.

(don’t worry, friends, I do remember to come back to the lesson learned here, and my main goal is to enjoy the season in the joy and peace it’s meant to be enjoyed in.)

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Two things that we have not officially said to our family and friends who update themselves on us here. So once again, for good measure, Merry Christmas, and Happy New year!

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