Friday, November 29, 2013

Little Stars play group

Today, we went to a play group in Sandnes called Little Stars.  I found this group on a Facebook page for expat parents here in Stavanger.  The ages range from infants to 5 years, but I believe Rebecca was the oldest today.  I think there were about 7-8 children today, which was a good size for our first time.  We were dressed and left almost on time, its a struggle trying to get these two Texas born children to put on layers with long sleeves & pants.  We arrived about 10 minutes after the play group started, because I took a wrong turn, well sort of I was in the wrong lane of a roundabout and had to exit.  There were only 3 other children when we arrived, but people kept arriving until 11:15a.  Rebecca was a little reluctant to start playing at first and needed time to warm up.  Marcus found some cars and trucks and started playing immediately.

There were tons of toys for the children in a big open room.  They had a fabulous play house with a kitchen inside.  It was open play until around 11 then we all sat in a circle and sang songs.  There were finger puppets and then it was story time.  I don't recall the  name of the book, but it was about whales.  Then later, I was informed by Rebecca it was about hump back whales.  She really enjoyed it when Tracy was reading the book to the children.  They provided a fruit snack for the children during story time, which was very nice. 

Then it was time to paint blue whales.  It was a good thing Marcus had a blue shirt on, because he was getting paint on himself as well as the paper.  They really had a good time painting.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Today, it's Thanksgiving in the USA.  Before you ask how Norwegians celebrate Thanksgiving, they don't ;-) its an American holiday.  This is when the Pilgrims and the Native Americans came together and had a feast, remember.  But don't worry we had our Thanksgiving dinner this evening.  It was sort of an adventure to get all the ingredients.  A typical dinner with my family would be a big Turkey, cornbread dressing, purple hull peas, sweet potato something, mashed potatoes, fresh cranberry sauce, homemade rolls, and lots of desserts. Today, we had a turkey breast, it was absolutely delicious, moist & tender, and the best part it only took 90 minutes in the oven. For my cornbread dressing, it had a little too strong of a corn taste to it, but I used Polenta instead of corn meal for the cornbread (corn meal isn't available here in Stavanger, so I had to use a substitute).  I also didn't have any celery, so that could have been it too.  So for the first cornbread dressing in many years without my mom pre-baking the cornbread I did ok.  I will definitely need to do some practicing.  We had mashed sweet potatoes and they were delicious and some canned green beans.  For dessert, we picked something up in the frozen section of the grocery store, it was a chocolate cake, but for a better description it was a brownie bottom, a chocolate mousse with dark chocolate shavings.  It was YUMMY, both kids asked for more. Sorry I didn't take too many photos today, I was trying to get things prepared so we could eat at 5 when  Jan came home from work.  Thanks to Bestemor for going to the grocery store with us and doing a lot of translating and asking the employees questions to make my American meal.
our 1st Thanksgiving in Norway
Today, I have thought a lot about what I'm thankful for, since I am not searching through the newspaper looking for the super deals for Black Friday.  It's my family and friends, both at home in Texas and here in Norway.  These last few months, have flown by and I can't believe its almost December, but so much has happened in such a short time.  We found out we would be moving to Norway mid-Setpember.  We listed our home and sold it in less than 30 days.  Packed up all our belongings and had them either shipped to Norway via air freight or ocean or put in storage.  I have always been the type of person who prefers to do things myself, but I have had to ask for help many times over the last few months.  I don't think there was ever a time I asked for help that I was told, no.  Some of my asking for help wasn't for fun tasks or was at the last minute, prior to the move and now we are needing help with logistics on this side of the Atlantic as well.  I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family and group of friends, you have no idea how much you mean to me.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A family farm adventure

One of Jan's friends, Janus, told us about a farm that was having a type of "open house" today.  We have been to one before but not this one.  We drove to the farm…it was crazy busy.  The weather was a little on the cold side but sunny which is probably why everyone was out and about.  We walked up and started looking for the animal.  We saw a chicken coop but I don't think any of us went inside.  The next animal we saw were rabbits..

They were so curious...
Rebecca wanted to touch a little rabbit so bad..
This man offered to let her hold the rabbit but she was nervous

Marcus and I started walking out towards the goats and the sheep.  Rebecca and Jan had fallen behind and then when they caught back up to us…he said some girl walked up to Rebecca and asked her in Norwegian if she wanted to hold the rabbit but didn't really wait for an answer and put it in her arms…isn't this sweet.

Marcus isn't too comfortable in his new cold weather clothes so he likes to be carried a lot. 
Mr. Sheep was posing so I had to snap a photo.

She is so happy running around playing, the cold weather doesn't bother her

Lots of people enjoying the farm
 They had a snack area for visitors to buy Lapper (a version of pancakes) which Rebecca loved.  I think Marcus was a little nervous about trying it and didn't have any, but Rebecca ate his.  There were picnic tables and they were full of people.

The following photos are from the farm…it was very pretty looking out over the sea.  This nature in the country is so beautiful, I could snap photos all day long.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

An actual adventure...

This morning, I left to go on my car shopping adventure alone.  Jan took the kids on an adventure by the sea.  From what I was told, it was an adventure just getting out of the house.  We had purchased some proper Norwegian winter clothes yesterday and getting the kids to try them on was exhausting.  I can only imagine what it was like doing it alone.  I think they had a good time…here are some of the photos from their adventure

yes, picking up ice with bare hands…

hmmm, what should we do now?

I think I will STOMP on it and break it!

Little brother coming to investigate.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Car Shopping...

Let's just say this is definitely an adventure.  We have been looking at cars for a few weeks online, Jan has already purchased his car and now I'm able to do my search in person and not just online.  So yesterday, Bestemor drove the kids and I to a couple dealerships to look as some cars I had found online.  Marcus fell asleep almost instantly when we left out on our adventure and stayed asleep the entire time.  Bestemor brought some books to keep Rebecca entertained for a while until she fell asleep.  The first place had sold the car I was interested in driving.   The second dealership had the car and another one I have now become interested in but its a bit larger than what I had been in the market to purchase.  If you haven't been to Norway, the parking spaces are quite a bit smaller and tighter than our typical spaces in Texas ;-), which is why I'm a little hesitant for the larger car.  Today, it was only the kids and I on our car adventure.  I had seen one of my favorites in a neighboring town of Tau, driving to another town  not such a big deal but this town we have to take a ferry.  We have been to Tau a few times visiting friends, but this was my first time alone.  On our way to Tau, we missed the ferry by 30 seconds, so we had to sit in the car for 30 minutes to wait for the next ferry, the kids did very well looking for boats & trucks.  Rebecca, who has an amazing memory, remembered we usually eat chocolate (kvikk lunsj) its sort of like a KitKat in the USA.
So on the way over to Tau we had some chocolate which made both kids very happy.  We made it to the dealership safely and eliminated one car very quick, but the one I was most interested in initially didn't disappoint so I had to drive it.  After moving both car seats to the test drive car, we were off on a mini adventure.  Unsure of where to drive, one of the salesmen suggested I go straight through a roundabout and would have a great winding road to test the car.  I followed his suggestions, Wow, I wish there would have been places to stop and take some photos.  It was beautiful and a great road to test drive.  We returned the car and switched the car seats back and then went back to wait on the ferry.  While we were waiting for the ferry, we made funny faces at the camera

This time no chocolate but we went into the playroom and the kids had a blast on the slide. I am not sure how many times they went down the slide but they had fun and burned off some energy

He's such a happy boy...

They were having so much fun, I'm still not sure how I managed to get them out of the playroom without kicking and screaming.  We walked out into the a room and were looking at the islands we were passing.  Another passenger walked up and started speaking Norwegian to me, of course I reply, English please.  He was very nice and said of course…look there where the water is swirling there are about eight whales swimming.  We watched for a few minutes but none of them ever came above the surface again :-( and I wouldn't have been quick enough with my camera to snap a photo.  That would have been a fantastic report…maybe next time.

Tomorrow I will continue my car shopping but without children in tow.  Maybe I will find something I like and will be able to maneuver in the parking garages here…in case you are wondering it will be a station wagon.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What a view!!!

Not much to report today, but just thought I would share a photo I took this afternoon from Bestefar's porch…no photo enhancements needed :-D

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh, the logistics...

We have hit the ground running… the first full day wasn't relaxing looking out across the North Sea,

photo from August 2013 vacation

it was an appointment with immigration to register the kids as living in Norway, and then to another department to start my residential visa process.  Thank goodness someone was there to assist…who am I kidding she did everything I just stood there like a bump on a log.  

The next day we did a little hibernating only because the kids were sick and ended up at a private healthcare clinic to find out they each had a virus.  I guess we had a small adventure because we got lost, yes I was lost for a short time.  I had plugged in the address to the clinic in my American iPhone but it took me to the wrong place.  I called the clinic and well since I only had a tiny bit of a clue were I was the lady on the phone wasn't much help; she did mention a gas station so I found my way there and called her again.  I found the clinic with 8 minutes to spare, yes I was early.  But all the way there we were driving in a mix of rain/sleet/snow.  The kids fell asleep on the way there but on the way home they were super excited, Rebecca was the most excited talking about the snow and then asking if we could send her friends an email telling them we have seen snow.  

The next adventures on the agenda is to find a home and a car for me…

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Flying to Norway

   Saturday morning felt like it would go on forever.  I was a bit stressed trying to get everything in the least amount of suitcases as possible but since I'm AMERICAN and proud of it; we had to use all of the suitcases we had ;-).  Luckily we were flying business class so we were allowed two bags each but let me be the first to say :-) we didn't use the 8 bag allowance and one bag was a travel bed and another was a car seat so I think I did well ;-).  It wasn't only the baggage issues I was stressed about, Friday night Marcus started running a fever and then Saturday morning Rebecca started running a fever as well.  I tried to call their pediatrician to schedule a quick visit but the only thing available would have been when we were driving to the airport.  They were both acting ok, then less than 15 minutes before we are getting into the truck to drive to the airport Marcus decides to throw up all over his clothes.  So a quick change of clothes for him and add another outfit to his carry on and we were off to the airport, Jan mentioned me staying back with Marcus.  I thought it would be better to go as a family, there are doctors in Norway, right.
   We board the first flight to Atlanta which went well, despite the tears running down my face as we walked down the jetway.  We landed in Atlanta a little early, so we didn't need to run through the airport to catch our connection to Amsterdam.  I'm sure if we would have landed on time we would have been fine, the airline was trying to give away "airline cash" to passengers who would be willing to take a later flight or even the next day including hotel and meal vouchers.  We agreed that I would sit next to Rebecca and Jan would have Marcus.  Rebecca and I were seated next to one another and she claimed the window seat, but the guys' assigned seats were further back than ours and on opposite sides of the plane both with window seats.  So Jan put Marcus in his correct seat and sat next to him, the man whose seat Jan was sitting in walked up and looked at them…not sure how the exact conversation went but I'm sure he didn't want to sit next to a two year old for 8 hours and he didn't even know he was sick, so thank you man who switched seats.  Rebecca was quite happy in her seat as you can see below…if I didn't know any better I would say she flew business class quite often ;-)
Rebecca relaxing with her iPad & headphones

I think Jan was a bit more stressed than I was on the flight, because with children you never know how many times they will throw up or how frequently.  Rebecca watched Dusty in the movie "Planes," even though PawPaw and Meme had taken the kids to see the movie a few weeks ago.  I was able to watch "The Heat" with Sandra Bullock, then it was time to recline the seats for some sleep.  Let me just say, the duvets and pillows on Delta were wonderful.  I guess Rebecca enjoyed them as well because the poor girl slept through breakfast and I had to wake her before landing.  We had a long lay over in Amsterdam, we watched the fish in the aquarium and made our way to the gate and relaxed, played cars, took walks and I slept for a short time, I was exhausted and needed some sleep.  We boarded our last flight to Norway, Rebecca was excited, Marcus was so tired he fell asleep before we even took off and only woke up just as we landed in Stavanger, Norway.  
Big sister & Little Brother

We gathered all 7 of our bags (not counting our carry-on luggage) and walk through the doors and Bestefar is waiting for us with keys to a second car.  Yes, it takes two cars for us to get to and from the airport in Norway, and I'm sure if we hadn't borrowed my brother's truck (after selling both of our vehicles in the last couple weeks) with his covered bed we would have needed a second vehicle this trip to the airport ;-).   It was nice being able to go to Bestefar's house and relax after a long day flying.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

A busy last week in the USA

Since loading all the containers and moving the last of our things out of the house our schedule has been non-stop.  We sold our house, had play date after play date, lunches, dinners, last day of school for the kids...lots of emotions.  We are so lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends and a loving family.  I'm not sure how I could have accomplished so much without them during these last few weeks.

I'm so glad Jan was able to fly back to Houston yesterday so we can all fly to Norway together. I was mentally prepared to fly alone with two toddlers but luckily I won't do it this trip.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

And the next chapter begins...

Its time to start our "eventyr" we have moved out of our home and staying with Gran while we say our "see you laters" to all our friends and family.  Please bare with me as I learn how to blog, but I hope everyone will enjoy our adventures over the years.  We are all excited but we are also sad to leave our friends and family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013 - Over the past two days, I have been working with the moving company packing and loading all our possessions into our ocean container, air freight, and storage.  What a great crew I worked with...they never rushed me while I was trying to decide what went where.  I will admit today was much harder on me emotionally because all our things were being taken out of the house and loaded on a truck.  Yesterday, I didn't have time to think about it because I was being asked a ton of questions along with trying to get things ready to be packed.  The kids have spent lots of quality time with Gran, while I was supervising the move, which I know they all enjoyed.

 Day 1- loading the ocean container

Day 2 loading the truck for storage & air freight