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Archive for the ‘holidays’ 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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As one who doesn’t work outside my home (or really inside my home either, judging by its current state), the energy, ingenuity, and creative thinking that would normally be concentrated on a very important, world-saving, economically reimbursed real-world problem is instead diverted to situations slightly less far reaching.

Like carneval costumes.

I used a fair amount of mental energy on these, people. Enough mental energy that I started to feel a tiny little bit silly. Silly enough that I started to come up with justifications (ahem, see above).

To what end, you ask? What was the success rate of the energies, mental and otherwise?

One ‘oh-wange ninja tuw-tul’ (that’d be Michaelangelo, for all you non- 80s babies), who was excited and happy and proud about his mask and shell and green face paint for the first two minutes of barnehage until he realized I was leaving him with all these other people in costumes. Turns out when you’re 3, costumes on other people can kind of freak you out.

And one tiger, crying. Please note that I did not make the tiger costume. I made a shark costume. What is slightly more crazy is that I made a shark costume with the full realization it probably would not be worn. I made it for the challenge. And for future costume wearers in the family. So there.

Anyway, Karel chose the tiger, after days/WEEKS of indecisiveness that manifests itself in full body gesticulating (that, come to think of it, looks a lot like a shark out of water) and ”instruction” drawing. Days and weeks of coming up with his own ideas that were brilliant…but out of my scope. A turtle shell one could crawl inside, for example, complete with a blanket and small t.v. to make it cozy. A crocodile that has is constrolled by levers and buttons you push from the inside. There is no room for artistic interpretation. When in costume, he takes on the role of the chosen animal and the costume MUST REFLECT THAT REALNESS.

Oh my goodness.

The lack of orange face paint almost triggered another melt down, but blending white and red and yellow was thankfully acceptable.

Oh my goodness.

Everyone in the car, all costume pieces accounted for, no more tears…and a very tentative sigh of relief from the two of us in the front seats.

On another note, and for the record, the tiredness level after weeks of varying health in the grown-ups of the family has reached a new level. Emil peed in our bed during the night, and despite feeling the warm wetness on my pajama leg (he’s started sleeping in the center of the bed, with his head at my knee level), I slept on.  I felt it, woke up, and consciously decided to sleep. in the puddle. of pee.

There must be some kind of recognition for graduating (sinking?) to this level in the game of parenting.

Anyway, here’s the Ninja Turtle. The Discontented Tiger was not available for photographs.

eb karneval

(brilliant design for turtle shell found at The Almost Perfectionist )

Also: MANDY IS COMING TOMORROW!!!! NORWAY, ARE YOU READY??!!??!!??

 

 

 

 

 

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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…

(more…)

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It’s late late late local time, and I can’t sleep.

I’ve made a meal plan for the boys while I’m gone next week, added items to various lists, eaten ice cream and pepperkake, and browsed Facebook and old blog posts for the past 1.5 hours. All four men in the house are asleep, but it’s only a question of time before one or more of them start the nightly migration from their rooms to ours, making it even more of a shame that I’m not sleeping while they are.

It’s okay. It’s Thanksgiving. I’ll pretend that I’m high on pie and coffee. And try to record the tones of gratefulness of 2013 before sleep descends.

A List Of Thankfulness, Numbered:

7 is for the seven plus months we’ve had with Cai Ruben. Both chaos and joy increased exponentially as we increased to a family of five. We are humbly, humbly thankful for another safe arrival of a healthy baby. I am convinced that this one is never going to grow up, but will be my baby forever. Why he’s working on crawling is totally throwing me for a loop.

p.s. Did I ever write up a birth story for him? Have I done that for ANY of them? Remind me to do that one day.

6 is for the number of years we’ve been married. Thankful, as always, for a caring husband and fantastic co-parent. These little-kid years are not easy on a relationship, but with luckily for us, our shared trait of stubborness is working in our favor. As is a mutual love of beer and select crime series. Six years down, many more to go.

5 is for the number of years we’ve had with Karel Magne. He’s reading now. Did I mention that? Just single words, not sentences, not books, but words. The first step in entering that world of independent magic. I don’t know if I’m ready for it. What happens when your heart grows up and doesn’t need you anymore? Five is for our oldest brother, the ”storste bukkene Bruse” (biggest billy goat Gruff). He charms us, impresses us, exasperates us, he doesn’t eat meat…par for the course with a billy goat, I guess.

4 is the number of Thanksgivings we’ve had in Steinkjer. Almost four years in the same place means I meet people I know almost every time we’re out. It means that when newer arrivals are working through the emotional contortions of a new/old/different place, I can’t commiserate so much anymore. No one wants to hear ”just give it time”… so I don’t say so much of anything. Four is also the number of screens I access daily to stave off tiredness and feign connectedness with the outside world. Thankful for technology, and as always, Skype.

3 is the number of years we’ve had with Emil Birk. Or rather, Emilian Birk Lyngstad, as he calls himself now. Three months as a three year old…I just don’t even have the words. Two is a piece of cake compared to three. For my own sake, let me repeat it: I am thankful for Emilian Birk Lyngstad. I am thankful for the funny things he says and his soft cheek  snuggles. I love the medley of cartoon theme songs he sings every morning. I would love it more if it weren’t at 6:30 a.m. and accompanied by flailing legs, but you can’t have it all. I love that in the midst of throwing a fit about something, if you explain the situation to him, he will eventually heave a big sigh and say ”okay, maybe.” Right now I love that he will not be three forever…but when he’s five I’ll probably wish that he was. Sigh. So irritating.

2 is…what time it is right now? the number of liters of coffee I’m going to need tomorrow? Two is the number of days until I’m boarding a plane with the baby to Spain to meet Catie. So two represents our thankfulness for the friends we have throughout the world, the friends who travel the world, the friends who love us and keep us in their hearts even when we’re elsewhere in the world. The shrinking of the planet has it’s drawbacks. Small enough to cross paths, but still too wide to hold hands.

1. There is one roof sheltering our five heads. One roof that we sleep, eat, play, talk, shout, and irritate each other under. We know many families for whom this is not so. Or for whom it is now but wasn’t before. However great the joy of being reunited might be, I am thankful for not bearing the weight of being separated.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

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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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Oh, friends.

Do you know what I’d be thankful for this year?

Some consistency in maintaining perspective.

Because then I’d maybe really be able to write a ”What I’m Thankful For” post like I have the last couple of years and feel it was actually truthful.

As it stands now, I haven’t been very thankful in 2012. Probably because I have too much time on my hands to think about the things I wish I could be doing or the people I wish I could be helping but not quite enought time/energy/gumption to DO anything. Or because I like to blame people/things for that lack of time/energy/gumption. Things like cultures and inconsistent hours of daylight. People like those who make up said cultures, and occasionally my innocent husband. (I really do try to steer away from that one, albeit with varying degrees of success.)

But let’s give it a go anyway.

1) I am thankful for my (usually innocent) husband. I just composed a paragraph in my head as follow-up to that statement, but for the sake of maintaining some  sense privacy on the world wide web, just trust me when I say I’m right to be thankful for this.

2) I am thankful for my children, who can make me laugh and cry, turn me into my best possible self and my worst possible self, all within the span of a day…or a few minutes. I am thankful for the ages they are at — that Emilian is in that early 2-year stage where he takes pride in putting things in their place and following instructions, and that Karel is in that 4-year stage that makes me close my eyes and pray for patience more than ever.

3) I am thankful for books on parenting/kids, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics ”The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child.” One day not long ago I was so thankful for this passage: ”Before you know it, the somewhat clam child of three becomes a dynamo of energy, drive, bossiness, belligerence, and generally out-of-bounds behavior. ….chasing off in all directions…difficult age to handle…emotional highs and lows,” (pp. 356-57)  that I wanted to find someone from the American Academy of Pediatrics and knock him/her over with a gigantic bear hug, just for letting me know that if I were to be experiencing any of those behaviors with my 4 year old, it would be normal and would not (necessarily) mean I failed in some crucial step of parenting somewhere along the line.

4) I am thankful for my small kitchen. This is only because I did a thorough cleaning of it the other day.

5) I am thankful the kids eat carrots.

6) I am thankful that we see family/friends from the U.S. at least once a year. A couple of my friends here will be seeing their families in or near their home countries for the first time in three years. Doesn’t make being far any easier for me, but at least keeps some perspective.

I am thankful we see family here in Norway frequently, and that we LIKE to see them. Believe me, this is not something I take for granted. God be praised for the blessing of a loving family, both near and far.

7) I will be thankful when this year is over. Because it’s been another one of those skin-shifting, expectation-wrangling, comfort-zone-stretching, growing-while-feeling-like-failing years. But the end is in sight, and I’m hoping to enter the next year standing a little taller and looking a little less confused.

8) I am thankful for the kindness of people. I am thankful that in appreciating their non-judgementalness I am reminded to not be judgemental. I am thankful to be reminded by an act of kindness shown to me,  the importance of showing acts of kindness to others.

9) Don’t feel neglected, little growing one ”in mama’s tummy.” I’m very thankful for you. You’re the one I know how to take care of. Those pictures of you last week have kept us on a high ever since. As long as you come out knowing how to hold on, we’ll be just fine.

Okay. That wasn’t so bad. It’s just one of those falls where instead of gushing we give high-fives and keep on keeping on.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you all, as you sit together in the peace that passes all understanding, hearts and minds kept in our Lord Christ Jesus.
Now go eat some pie!

 

*** Oh, for pete’s sake. That was kind of a depressing Thanksgiving post, wasn’t it?? Those holiday twinges of homesickness must have made it to the overflow point yesterday. Please forgive the lack of holiday cheer at that particular moment in time, and thank you for being vent-ees. 🙂 The midwife today mentioned the emotional ups-and-downs that occur in pregnancy…and I just laughed.  ***

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