Friday, February 29, 2008

Oslo Mommy Brigade

Kayleigh has been writing and illustrating a book about trolls. We decided today to go to United Bakery for treats a needed coffee for me and to work on her book while I read. I'm reading To Kill A Mockingbird. It is such a good book.

The weather is sunny today after a Portland like day yesterday. As we neared the bakery the stroller line-up in front was never ending! I really wish I had my camera for a photo of this scene. You'll just have to visualize it for yourselves.

I turned to KJ and remarked, "I wonder how all the mommies and their babies can fit inside?" At the same time I was thinking to myself, maybe we should go to another bakery since there are many other options.

We entered and easily found a table, maybe everyone was scared off by so many babies. There was a large table of them to the side of us. We were planning on a chocolate chip cookie and there was only one left. KJ spied some large yummy looking brownies instead. We got one and I had a double latte. I've decided while I'm in Europe, no low fat lattes for me. They are so much better with whole milk or whatever they use. (My sister is right about that.) It will be hard to go back to my usual. I do miss my soy lattes not to mention decaf coffee. Kent says you can find anything you want here for a price and we've found decaf and for a price I'm not ready to pay.

Back to the mommy brigade. We returned to our table and enjoyed our snacks. Suddenly, we noticed the noise level of the mommies and the babies socializing. We also noticed different groups of mommies and babies were scattered throughout entire back room of the bakery! KJ was actually able to concentrate and work. She must take after her father. I was busy eavesdropping and watching all the action, not that I could understand any of it.

KJ commented that there were only two men who came to the back room, looked around and left.

We were told when Norwegian women have babies they get a paid year off to take care of their babies. What a deal! However most Norwegian women work so when kids are older like KJ, you don't see moms hanging out with their kids. Most children go to after school care. In Frogner, which is our neighborhood there are lots of new parents all over the place with their little ones all bundled up. It is a very cute sight. One day we saw a mom carrying this huge cushion like baby carrier. The baby was all wrapped up in a bundle of blankets and pillows. We were amazed by the strength of the mom carrying it.

Back to the scene at the bakery. It was kinda like a party. The mommies wondered around socializing with other tables. This must be a mother's group. KJ actually understood them talking about if their babies were walking yet. We also heard some of them singing and saw others nursing too. We finally decided to go not because of all the action but because we'd been there all afternoon. I didn't get much reading done but it was very entertaining.

Walking home I thought, I never had a mommy group to hang out with and it looked fun. These women have it pretty darn good. I decided if I ever have another baby Norway is the place to do it. (Oh, darn, I'm too old.)

I Almost Forgot Sunday!?

Sunday my friend Carolyn and her 2 kids Kaj and Malin came over so her kids could ride their bikes at Frogner Park. It was Malin's fifth birthday recently and she got a big girl bike. She was very excited to give it a go. I'm sure having an older brother is a big incentive for learning. Carolyn brought her old bike and took off the training wheels since her new bike is a bit too big. Kai sure has a good looking Trek I might add.

I really miss my road bike. I have a Trek Madone. It is beautiful! I guess it will be waiting for me when I get home.

Malin did amazing! It was hard to believe it was her first time without training wheels. KJ, Kent and I were all very impressed.

It was another nice winter day. It seemed like everyone was out at the park again. Kaj also showed us this very fun maze that he, KJ and Kent tried to walk through. We finally talked Malin into calling it quits and headed to United Bakery for some treats
and then home to play for awhile.

Good Job Malin!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's the Weekend!

This has become KJ's favorite phrase since arriving in Oslo and frankly who can blame her? She starts with the phrase when I pick her up from school Friday afternoon. She didn't have school last week but that didn't stop her from enjoying herself.

Friday she and I met Kent at Telenor for lunch. We hopped on the bus and headed to his current place of work. It is a super cool building. I guess it used to be the airport. We had lunch in a little spot on site that resembled a coffee shop to me. KJ had the sack lunch special. It consisted of a baguette sandwich stuffed with smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, and red pepper. It was ginormous! Even she couldn't finish it! The lunch also contained an apple, yogurt and a juice. It was a value deal. Kent and I had huge baguette sandwiches as well. I had a great shrimp salad which I've been wanting to try and Kent had a chicken chili (not spicy) one. We never dine out so it was a treat.

After lunch Kent showed KJ where he works. I've already seen the space.... and a space it is. Everyone at Telenor appears to grab a space at a station. They don't always work at the same spot. The office is very pleasant; not so sure I could focus there. My husband has amazing focusing skills. He frequently studied in front of the TV when he was working on his masters degree. I guess his dad was the same way; must run in the family.

We all headed home together. Kent needed to meet the Chinese boys who were arriving shortly. KJ and I decided to see Hannah Montana 3-D at the Coluseum Kino near our apartment. The movies are basically the same over here except we had to pay way extra for 3D. Hannah put on quite the show. I rather enjoyed it.

Saturday was a mild day. We decided to take Kent to the Baker Hanson. Oops, guess I wasn't totally honest about going out for treats. Bakeries have always been my weakness and there are tons of them here. We may go broke trying them all. We have a weakness for the scones here. Next we walked across the street to Ark, the local chain bookstore. English books were still on sale so Kent and I each purchased a book. We walked around the area which is called Majorstua. I like it here: lots of shops, cafes and people. We gradually made our way to Frogner Park where there were tons of Oslovians enjoying the beautiful day. We headed to the Vigeland Museum to take in some of the famous sculptors work. (I mentioned him in an earlier post that he was very well known for his work.) Kent, KJ and I really enjoyed it plus the museum is free until March 31. Next we stopped at the Oslo City Museum also free. This ended up being rather interesting and we learned about the history of the city. I must say we were pleasantly surprised. Both of these museums are super close to our apartment.

After all that sightseeing we were pooped so we headed home for an afternoon snack and
an episode of our favorite show on DVD... does anyone want to know the name of the show?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Zoo

I went to the zoo in Dublin.

It was lots of fun. I saw lots of animals. They were very cute. There were lots of baby animals and most of them were monkeys. One of my favorite animals was the red panda. It was very cute.

I forgot to say that before I went to the zoo I went to a teahouse and had hot chocolate with perfect size marshmallows.

By Kayleigh

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Good Time Had By All

I must still be recovering from our recent trip to Dublin. Kent, KJ and I flew out from the other Oslo airport last Friday evening. I can't believe they say it is an Oslo airport as it took us one hour and forty minutes by train to get there. We had no choice since Ryan Air only flies out of Oslo Torp which is in the city of Sandefjord. Does this sounds anywhere near Oslo to you? We did save some bucks using the Irish airline. I must say the whole process of getting the passengers on board is a tad stressful. There are no seat assignments but they do let people who payed for priority board first. KJ decided to run ahead and secure seats since we had all the bags. It was a great strategy; people are mad about getting seats. I decided we needed a beer after that! The flight was short and Bill was there to meet us once we got through passport control.

Sharon and Bill proved to be outstanding hosts. We really enjoyed our trip and reconnecting with them. We hadn't seen the two of them in awhile. Kent used to work with Sharon in Austin and Sharon and I were in book club. Bill works at National Instruments and has a position in Dublin until next January and Sharon just landed a job. She is very excited. They both are totally enjoying Dublin and I can see why.

We had a fun and busy time and I would love to highlight the attractions. Saturday morning Bill, who is a wonderful cook whipped up an Irish breakfast which included eggs, bacon, sausage links, fried tomato,mushrooms, white pudding (reminded me of a Jimmy Dean sausage patties) and toasted brown bread. It was delicious! After breakfast we walked through the park across from their apartment. It was a beautiful day and we had fun exploring their neighborhood. It was a day of good eating. Later that evening we went to a fun area called Howth which is right on the coast and had dinner at a restaurant called Aqua right on the water. We all had very tasty dinners.

Sunday we spent a day in the countryside. We got an early start as we squished into Bill and Sharon's European size car and headed to New Grange to see an amazing, ancient religious ruin and then onto Trim to visit a castle. It was a day of history!
The day concluded with dinner at one of Bill and Sharon's neighborhood pubs.

The Dublin City Tour Bus was the plan for Monday. It was exciting to tour Dublin which is a very lively, hopping city. We snagged seats on the second level and sat back and listened to our driver/guide. I love the Irish accent and the stories the guide had to tell. The big stop of the day was at the Guinness Storehouse. It was really fun. We self toured, learned all about the history of Guinness and the process of how it is made. The storehouse is a super cool place. As you go through the tour you are gradually working your way to the top where a pint of Guinness awaits you. Kids receive the soft drink of their choice. The bar has a spectacular view of Dublin and is a great place to enjoy a well deserved beverage. FYI, this was my first pint!

Our last day in Dublin, we found ourselves at the zoo. Dublin has the third oldest zoo in Europe and it is situated in Phoenix Park. The park is one of the largest around; it is 5 times the size of Central Park in NYC. There is even a herd of deer roaming around in the park. We found out over the weekend a baby elephant was born and were hoping to see it but unfortunately it didn't happen. We had a blast anyway. It was an awesome zoo and a good time was had by all. KJ is going to give you her report as my little guest blogger.

We ended the day at a chipper, which if you don't know serves fish and chips. This was a must stop for Kent and me as we've recently gone through a fish and chip phase. This was a very appropriate ending to an Irish vacation.

Remember these are only highlights of our trip. We really had a wonderful time with Bill and Sharon. Thanks again guys!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Dreaded Box

I guess there is an ending to every story. I received an e-mail from Jamie our dog and house sitter this morning. It simply said she has the box with books and stuff! I guess she hasn't been reading my stories about the precious box and what turmoil it has caused me over here.

I have to admit I am relieved that it is safe at home in Portland. We really thought someone either confiscated it because of the wanted vitamins or that the box was simply in a corner at the main Oslo Post Office never to be seen by us again.

So there you have it for all of those who were curious to know just what happened??? We aren't sure if we are going to ask Jamie to send it over minus the vitamins since my parents and Kacia were so generous to send us books. We'll see just how fast KJ reads them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I just returned from my first meeting with the American"s Women's Club of Oslo and I'm happy I went. They meet at the American Lutheran Church which is super close to our apartment. Today was a Valentine's luncheon which included a talk on Third Culture Kids. For those of you who don't know what the means: third culture kids are children who grow up in a country other than where they are born. Sometimes these kids may live in several countries during their childhoods depending on what their parents do for a living. The woman who spoke was Norwegian but she grew up in New Guinea. Her parents were missionaries from Norway. She grew up inn New Guinea and lived in several villages and attended various international and boarding schools. She said she spoke English better than Norwegian so when she returned to Norway as a teenager she was suppose to repeat a couple years of high school. Well, she decided to attend university in the states instead. She is definitely a TCK.

Listening to her made me realize that so many people have such a variety of backgrounds and just how colorful some lives really are. Kayleigh isn't a TCK but she has moved a lot for a kid her age and has attended a lot of different schools. Hopefully, she'll pick up some of the positive aspects of the TCK like being flexible, showing empathy to others, and living in the "now"... I think she already does these but I think I need to become a TCK!!!

The women in the group are mostly married to Norwegians so most of them have lived in Norway for some time. I met a Texan, two Minnesotans, a woman who is here starting a Baptist church with her American husband, an American History professor at the University of Oslo to name a few. There was even a woman from Waco, Texas that I didn't have the chance to meet. (I lived there a long time ago when I first taught school.)

They are starting up the wine club again so I look forward in participating in that. I also found out about a knitting group at the church. The library looks promising too.

I had to fly out of the meeting to pick KJ up from school so I had to leave a little early. On the walk up to school I kept thinking about what a couple of the women mentioned during the talk.... home is really where you are with your family. I will make a point to remind myself of that the next time I'm missing Portland.

Monday, February 11, 2008

North Dakota?

A few weeks I called the contact number for the American Women in Oslo group. Marianne, the woman I spoke with was rather friendly and was full of information. As we continued chatting we discovered that we were both from North Dakota and we both went to UND. She was actually a law student around the same time as my bother. How crazy is that?

I told her my family and I hadn't been in Oslo very long and that we had an 8 year old daughter. She has a 7 year old and a 10 year old, both girls. She ended up invited us to their house on Sunday so Kayleigh could play with Erika and Jenny.

We had a really nice time. KJ played with the girls and we visited with Marianne and her husband Ola. He's a law professor at the University of Oslo and he was an exchange student at the UND Law School around the same time as my brother too. It was fun once again to talk about North Dakota. Both husbands just love North Dakota! What's not to love...

We also had dinner which reminded us of home.... Baked spaghetti... it had lots of yummy ingredients: cheddar cheese, mozzarella, pasta, ground beef and pepperoni. We brought chocolate chip cookies.

Jenny and Erika put on a couple of shows for us. They take a River Dance Class and like to perform. They are quite the little dancers.

I found out more about the American's Women's Group from Marianne. She's been a member for several years and is pretty involved. They have a meeting tomorrow and the speaker is talking about being a third culture kid. I thinkI'll go. They also have a library and if you're a member you can check out books. I'm looking forward to this since there is still no news on our missing box.

Here's to North Dakota!!! North Dakotans are everywhere....

Friday, February 8, 2008

30 Days!

I've always thought of being in a new place as fun and exciting but the reality is different once you're actually there!
You think I would've learned this by now but if I did then it might hold me back from going to new places. Am I over

We've had a good week. We've done some different things, talked to some new people but mostly we've been
here 30 days which I think has helped. We're getting used to being here. This weekend we have plans on Saturday
and Sunday with Norwegians and a former North Dakotan. There will be an update on how the outings go so don't

Kayleigh is doing better at the Uranienborg Skole. She has been playing with various girls at recess which is a relief
for me. It was not easy thinking of her without any playmates. They have a lot of outside recess time in Norway. She told
me they had to play outside in the rain and it wasn't a Portland rain either. She commented that the teachers locked them
outside. I complained to the teacher telling her that we aren't afraid of bad weather but I wasn't sure kids need to be out in
the dumping rain. She wasn't happy with that and told me that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing.... so
I guess we need to get better rain gear. I'm still frustrated with KJ's class. It doesn't seem like there is much motivation.
The kids feel safe in their special class and don't seem to be in any hurry to learn Norwegian and move into the regular
class. If we were to be here any longer KJ would either get a tutor and get out of there or go to the International School
which costs a million dollars. (BTW, I contacted them and they have an opening at KJ's level.) KJ decided to stay put; one
can only handle so much change. I don't blame her.

Kent and I attended the Democrats Abroad Super Tuesday function earlier this week at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was interesting. Carolyn, our ND friend is very involved with the group. In fact, she was interviewed by a local radio station. We met some friendly people and discovered there are a lot of Americans in Norway. Where are they hiding?!?

My box is still missing. (I've told some of you about it) The latest update is that we have received mail stating that it is here but when Kent and I made a trek out to the main post office after I was told to go there in person, they couldn't find it. I'm losing
hope. Kent has sent a fax to them everyday and his recent fax has a list of everything in the box plus pictures too. They want receipts of the purchase of the vitamins. Hmm, I bought them in December at Safeway so that's not going to happen. I'm very
disappointed because all of KJ's new books from Xmas she received from friends were in there. Books are expensive here too.
She can only read so much Harry Potter. She'd beg to differ.

Janet and John, our friends who live in the building are heading back to the states tomorrow. Last night they invited us for a glass of wine and we met their granddaughter who is here visiting from Portland. They gave us a bunch of their leftover groceries which we gladly took. It was very nice meeting them. I wish they were sticking around a little longer.

We are looking forward to next weekend when we will be traveling to Dublin Ireland to visit Sharon and Bill. They are friends from Austin who are living there for 2 years. Until then we will enjoy Oslo....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Weather Update #2

It finally snowed! This snow was the nice powdery kind too. I woke up this morning around 8 which isn't particularly early for me. It is quite difficult to get out of bed in the morning when it is so dark. It doesn't get light until well after 8. This morning it was snowing and it had been during the night. I made Stumptown coffee which is not any ordinary coffee especially if you live on Portland. Our friend Glenn sent us a package with the coffee and some special chocolate from Trader Joes. We really appreciate the treats.

I was going to go xcountry skiing this morning on my own while Kent and KJ had their father daughter time together. It looked like so much fun out in the snow I got them both out of bed to go play with me. Kayleigh had no interest and was not happy that I made her get up. We put on our winter gear and were out the door. We decided to walk up to Vigeland Park which has become our place of choice. It is a beautiful park and today we basically had it to ourselves. The Norwegians do not move very quickly on Sunday mornings we've noticed. We had snow fights and played on the huge play structure. I realize I'm an adult but it's a great place to play especially in the snow.

After the play structure we walked through the sculpture garden and met two cute dogs and chatted with their owners. We took pictures and hiked through the park and back to the Untied Bakery for hot drinks and treats.

If every morning were like today, I think this living in a foreign country thing would be a breeze.......

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Oslo Weather Update

What is schlop? It is my newly created weather word for the type of precipitation we've been experiencing in Oslo.

It started Thursday. It rained, sleeted and snowed throughout the whole day. It was definitely an inside day. We tried to go out for a walk later in the evening after Kent came home and said it had been snowing. All we did was get rained on. We were very grumpy.

Friday morning after I dropped KJ off at school it finally started to snow. I was with my new friend Janet on the Trik out for some shopping when the flakes started to fall and they were huge. It was too warm so they immediately started to melt. It dumped off and on all day but when it wasn't dumping it was raining. How strange..... Later that evening we went out for dinner with the Chinese boys. We took the bus to a super yummy Indian restaurant in another part of town. We met them when we got off the bus but we still needed to walk across a park in order to get to the restaurant. We had a couple very small umbrellas. Kent, KJ and I were dressed for the weather having lived in Portland. The poor Chinese boys weren't so fortunate with their loafers and dress coats. They were drenched but very good sports.

The restaurant proved to be a welcoming retreat from this wild weather. It was a very cozy spot and the food was delish! We all had something different but sampled each others. I had the tandori chicken.... yum.

Back to the weather.... Unfortunately we had to get across town to the hotel and our apartment after dinner. The schlop had really accumulated. Kent and I being from cold weather states had really never witnessed anything like it before. It was like we were walking in a giant slushy. I wish I would've had my camera. We finally found the bus and waved frantically since we actually weren't at the stop. Surprisingly he stopped. Back at the hotel he said our goodbyes. Jen and Jing me are leaving tomorrow for China as it is Chinese New Year.

Today I found out many flights out of Oslo were cancelled Friday because of the crazy weather. Kent spoke to Jen and they had trouble getting out of Oslo this morning. They have a long journey ahead of them. I hope they make it home to celebrate.