Archive for the ‘guests’ 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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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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The Lyngstad household is rounding in on week three as a party of five —  if we all could knock on some wood before I type these next words that’d be great — and believe it or not, the adjustment is going fine. Tempted even to say ”really well.”

Let’s keep this in perspective, though — I definitely just popped 500 mg of Tylenol before sitting down here next to my supposed-to-be-sleeping baby, because as much as I know that going for a walk/exercise/yoga/stretching would help these tired baby-supporting muscles (which are used day AND night)…well, we’ll get there. This week medication is still allowed. Bjørn confessed last evening in his exhaustion that his goal for the weekend is just to survive.

But, you know, that’s Friday of our first back-to-work week talking. After a weekend of guests and birthday parties and ear infections and coughs followed by a week of rainy weather and meetings and a very belligerent 2.5 year old, if we’ve only been reduced to an intense wish for sleep and pinch of tylenol, I’d say that’s not too bad.

We’re learning to juggle again. Or is it more like perfecting the lateral pass? Seeing as mothering is my only current employment at the moment, I take some professional pride in prying apart tricky small legos while nursing the baby, for example. Or listening raptly to ”new” facts being presented (”Mama, did you know…?”) while rescuing a soon-to-be-emptied-onto-the-table cup of water. Lateral passing starts when Bjørn comes home and we hand off cooking and rough-housing, poopy diapers and baby burping, speedwalking enough back and forth yardage through our little house to cover the length of 12 football fields all before dinner.

Honestly, it all feels pretty normal.

Not that there’s not learning going on. We’re learning that Cai Ruben likes to be held in the ”football hold,” and that he takes a pacifier better than either of the older two ever did.

I’ve learned that Karel somehow knows exactly how to talk to babies.

I saw Emil’s face finally soften and light up when I helped baby Cai ”reach” for him and stroke his face.

We’re learning to manage two very different big brothers while remembering to not over-exert ourselves (like that bread that I thought I’d just whip up this morning? Pipe dream).

And this time around we know how fast these first days and weeks go. I’m learning to fight the instinct to grieve for them and instead be excited for each new development. This time we know that waking up in the morning covered in sweat and milk and possibly spit-up is a tiny price to pay for these weeks he’s still small enough to sleep nestled in on my chest.

Farfar and Emil at the drawing board...

Farfar and Emil at the drawing board…

The face says it all.

The face says it all.

First night at home, 2 days old. Bjørn executing the football hold like the pro that he is.

First night at home, 2 days old. Bjørn executing the football hold like the pro that he is.

Making faces with for Farfar, 12 days old

Making faces with for Farfar, 12 days old

New outfit from Uncle Chris! 10 days old

New outfit from Uncle Chris! 10 days old

Crying, but what a cute outfit! Thanks tante Silje! 2 weeks, 3 days old

He obviously can’t see how cute he is… Thanks Tante Silje! 2 weeks, 3 days old

Adjusting to home life. 4 days old. (Karel laid the blankets on the floor to make a bed for the baby. Emil stakes his claim to mama)

Adjusting to home life. 4 days old. (Karel laid the blankets on the floor to make a bed for the baby. Emil stakes his claim to mama via train.)

Sleeping in between outfit changes. 2 weeks, 5 days old

Sleeping in between outfit changes. 2 weeks, 5 days old

**I need to add that a large part of why this adjustment has gone so well was due to Bjørn being home for 2 weeks immediately following Cai’s birth.  There would be a lot more tears from everyone if it wasn’t for his super-pappa-ness.

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(as compiled by Kim mostly before they arrived)

Homemade squash ravioli? Check.

Breakfast custard pie x 2? Check.

Berry picking? Check

Dinnertime collaborations? Check.

Hand delivery of fresh tortillas, chocolate chips, CSA peppers, home-brewed beer, and Crisco? Check.

Pantry stocked with grains I didn’t know I could get here? Check.

Sampling of the local cuisine? Check.

Detailed discussion, research, and examination of all minor medical concerns, all in the matter-of-fact manner of nurses? Check.

Loving on little boys? Check.

Being a climbing apparatus for said loved little boys? Check.

Conversation that flows seamlessly between recipes, relationships, and healthcare, politics, culture  and gardening? Check.

Two weeks of all the above culminating in a pie-and-potsticker extravaganza?

Pie and potsticker extravaganza culminating in a headstand exhibition?
Check. (Sorry, no photo of that one.)


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Phew. It’s been a busy few weeks. Funny how when people ask you ”What are you doing this summer?” and you say, ”Oh, not much. No real plans, ” you do actually understand that there’s no such thing as a non-busy summer. ESPECIALLY in Norway. Confined to huddling near wood-burning stoves or wrapped in 5 layers of highly technical woolen clothing for the majority of the year, it’s really not that surprising that the country pretty literally comes to big fat grinding halt in July. From June on though August, there are festivals every weekend (a stark contrast to life in the spring, where we drive for hours to find something to do).


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