Archive for the ‘food’ 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.


Read Full Post »

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? **

Read Full Post »

Sunday morning.

Boys making smoothies with bluberries they’ve picked themselves. (Well, Emilian picked, Karel bounced and climbed trees).


Read Full Post »

Okay. I’m taking a deep breath here, because I’m going to admit something that is not so common in my current cultural climate, and possibly not so common in my generational bracket.

I like being a stay-at-home mom.


Read Full Post »

Let the Christmas baking begin… 

Read Full Post »

Despite the fact that there is still more rain than snow here, we are officially into the advent season. You can tell when the marzipan pigs start showing up in the stores. (I haven’t delved deeply enough into Norwegian history to figure that one out… will keep you posted.) This is also the time of year I get really excited about baking; the time of year that every shopping trip finds butter and parchment paper in my cart. I’m always pretty excited about baking, but at Christmas it’s almost like a job. A fun job that you like,  mind you. (Wait, do those exist?) I mean, there’s a deadline. So there’s a little tiny bit of pressure. Good pressure…

Okay — whatever. I’ve been out of the workforce for so long I’m not even going to pretend that I know what a healthy out-of-home work environment is like. However (big inhale), that is about to change. (aaaaand blow it out).

Job-practice. That’s what I’m doing. Goals = 1) learning Norwegian as applicable to my field and 2) familiarizing with Norwegian work culture. I started last week — 2 days in an assisted living facility here in Steinkjer.

I am skeptical.

Here’s the thing: I am busy when I am at home. You maybe couldn’t tell by the piles of laundry and the dirt on the floor, but I am. I LIKE to be busy, I do. But what I am learning about myself (aren’t you supposed to have your own brain figured out by the time you’re 30? Come on.) is that I also like to determine the soure of my own busy-ness. Or non busy-ness. Huh. Maybe that sentence should have just read ”I like to determine.”

Pretty sure my mom once said to me, ”Kim, you might not like to hear this, but I think you’re going to be happiest when you just have family and can make your own schedule.” Next time anyone sees my mom, give her a ”You Know Your Kid” prize. Sigh.

So. We’re gonna give this a go. I will work through the ridiculously tangled web of emotional-ness that this change is spawning, and we’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride. Well, Bjørn might not enjoy this ride so much. ”Tangled web of emotional-ness” doesn’t really put a husband’s heart at ease. And if it doesn’t work out, plan B involves a coffee and scone selling bakery van. (insert happy sigh of contentment.) Someone needs to be offering these people coffee in the morning since, you know, the only coffee shop in town doesn’t open until ELEVEN. Really, I feel more like it’s  a public service and would just give coffee away.

On the up-side, old ladies say some pretty funny things. I’m easy to please — a couple of one-liners will make a day totally worth it for me.

Yes, yes, as they say here. We shall shall see. Everything in it’s time.


Read Full Post »

It’s fall here…still. Today I noticed some snow on the hills/mountains (what they are depends on where you’re from) across the fjord, but here in Steinkjer we’re still putting our rain gear to good use. Maybe it’ll snow this weekend, but maybe the weather is working to keep us from hurtling into Christmas-mode in order to remember Thanksgiving.

I kind of forgot today was Thanksgiving, to be honest. We, i.e. the American crew in the Steinkjer area, are having our big Thanksgiving celebration on Sunday, so Sunday has been where my focus is. It was actually a very pleasant suprise to realize that TODAY is the actual, on-the-calendar Thanksgiving Day. It’s always nice to know there’s something special about what might otherwise be an ordinary weekday. To call/text/email people and say ”Happy Thanksgiving!” — how can that not make you smile?

Therefore, I have spent the day thinking about my family in Wauwatosa — about my parents and siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and their kids that will all be there; I’ve been visualizing the Thanksgiving table and all the food. And I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting a bit choked up when all these thoughts and visions are running through my brain.

I’ve thus spent the day mentally composing my ”what I’m thankful for list,” never really knowing if it would make it so far the typed word…but as long as the kids keep sleeping, there is hope. Here goes:

1) I’m thankful that our first year in a new place is over. That no one drowned in tears or threatened to move out or was hit with a depression that needed more than vitamin supplementation. I’m thankful that the mandatory time to carve out your little niche in a society has been fulfilled. Maybe we don’t have a niche yet, but there’s at least a comfortable indentation.

2) I’m thankful to live in a safe place; not only to live in a safe place, but to realize I’m living in a safe place. What a blessing, what a blessed relief, to not excercise every hour of every day that part of your brain that works to protect your family. I’m thankful to the people of Norway for giving this to us, and for teaching a cynical American how to trust in the common good again.

3) I am thankful for my healthy sons. For imaginative, word-smith, clear-eyed Karel and for climbing, roaring, cuddly Emil. (Emil and Karel’s latest thing is to roar at each other. Emil now makes every toy animal he picks up roar. It’s pretty funny.) I am thankful that even on the days I totally fail as a mom, they are still ours to keep. Toddler hugs and preschooler ”I love you”s are things we never, ever take for granted, still reveling in each one.

4) I am thankful for my partner in this parenting endeavour — and this whole life-navigating endeavour, for that matter. A man who is patient, kind, and just generally nicer than me. And really good at puns. (okay, that part I’m not especially thankful for, but a guy’s gotta have at least one moderately annoying habit.)

5) I am thankful for food: its presence, its availability, its plentiful-ness; that keeping everyone fed is not something we ever have to worry about. Karel is proving that he can subsist on knekkerbrød and cheese, so that’s reassuring too.

6) As always, I/we are thankful for our families. I am thankful to our American family for making such great efforts to see us — we do not take those efforts for granted. I am thankful to have friends in my siblings, who, if they haven’t completely forgotten how I used to hold them in headlocks and just generally be mean, at least refrain from bringing it up. (Usually.) We are thankful for our Norwegian family, whose faces always light up when they see the boys wether it’s the first or the fifth time that month.

7) And…I’m thankful for technology. Every time I skype my mom or chat with a friend on another continent, I marvel a little bit at how easy it is these days to stay connected with loved ones. This Thanksgiving, for example, I was able to talk to my grandma for 20 minutes — not only talk, but see her; I got to talk or at least see everyone who was at the Thanksgiving Day gathering. I even got to see the pies. This is crazy. Miraculous. Both. In this particular instance, a blessing.

Okay, the list could go on and on, but we’ll stop now. Happy Thanksgiving and much love and peace and joy from our grateful hearts to yours.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »