Wednesday, May 21, 2014


We wanted the kids to learn to speak Norwegian and the best way for them to do so by being surrounded by it.  We also wanted the kids to have some playmates and friends here in Stavanger.  Many of the family have both parents working so there aren’t many kids playing at the parks in the neighborhoods.  Luckily, Jan’s company has a sponsored barnehage (BHG), which is like a “day care” in the US.  Since we are expats we were given a spot for Marcus early in January and Rebecca was able to start mid-February.

The first day for Marcus at BHG was more of a meet & greet.  Jan and I both met at the BHG, while Bestemor came over to play with Rebecca.  It lasted a couple hours so we could see what the children did and who his teachers would be.  The second day, I went back to BHG and sat with him for a while in the classroom.  He really hit it off with one of his teachers who was laying in the floor with him playing with his cars.  I left for a short while and then came back and he was still a happy little boy…  The next days I left him longer each time until he was staying a full day, well what we consider a full day.  He takes a nap and they provide a bed for him to sleep in complete with a sheepskin under the bottom sheet, blanket and a thick duvet.  Let me explain, they sleep in an unheated room all the younger children in one large room and they have done this forever.  Some of the BHG have the children sleep outside in their stroller, regardless of weather, with a plastic cover of course, its just a different culture ;-)  Marcus sleeps very well in his new nap surrounding. 

The BHG is open from 7:30 until 4:30, I think.  The BHG our children attend serve three meals to the children, they get breakfast, then a hot lunch and a big snack mid-afternoon.  I usually drop them off around 9a and pick them up at 3:00p.  There isn’t a strict schedule at Norwegian like in American programs or the ones we have attended.  It is a play day all day, they do have learning sessions but their focus is on playing.  The one HUGE thing they do differently is the kids play outside almost every day regardless of weather.  Please keep in mind, there aren’t many thunder & lightening storms like in Houston and they have proper clothing.  They have a full winter suit that is insulated, with wool thermal underwear, and then a fleece layer and Goretex boots when its cold.  And then when its raining or muddy, they have a rubber suit complete with rubber boots.  Typically we leave the suits all week and if they need cleaning or we plan to use them we bring them home on weekends.  But on more than one occasion, Rebecca has had to bring hers home mid-week because it was so MUDDY.  Yes this girl is not scared of getting a little muddy J and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

While we were waiting for Rebecca’s spot to open up, she was missing her friends and wanted to make new ones.  We tried a couple of toddler play groups but the average age of the children were much younger than Rebecca.  There are some open BHG, which a caretaker (parent, grandparent, nanny) needs to be present while attending.  The first one we went to was great because she made a friend, a little girl who was about the same age and they played so well together.  It was so nice seeing the girls play.  Rebecca came home and was so excited because she made a friend.  The next week we met her new friend at a different open BHG and the girls were fast friends.  It absolutely warmed my heart to see her making a friend. 

Then it was time for Rebecca to start BHG.  We were a little nervous because all of the 18 children in her class speak Norwegian and only three speak English.  The “play” language is Norwegian, but all of her teachers speak English.  Jan met Rebecca & I in her classroom after we dropped Marcus in his class.  I had all her suits prepared with a couple extra sets of clothes…you know in case she got muddy or wet playing outside.  She was a little reserved at first, but two of her classmates came over and helped her complete a puzzle.  I could tell in her eyes she was super excited to be there, finally.  Jan could tell as well, he left after a short time.  I hung out with the class and then stood back so she could interact with the teachers and the other children.  Then it was time to eat lunch, which is when we had planned to depart…key work: planned.  Rebecca asked what they were having…hotdogs & mashed potatoes, ummm some of her favorites.  So she stayed and ate with the kids.  Then after eating some of the children started changing their clothes and putting more layers on.  I asked what they were doing and her teacher said oh they are going outside now.  She looked at me and said, Mommy can I stay and you leave, my teachers will look after me.   How in the world could I tell her no, she was having so much fun.  I asked her teacher and he said sure she can stay.  (yes, she has a male teacher and two female teachers, Marcus has 3-4female teachers)  We agreed, I would only go for about an hour then return to see how she was doing.  Guess what???!??  I get back to pick her up and she is playing with a little girl in the sand and said mommy I’m not ready to leave… can you come back later ;-).  I was so happy!!!!  I spoke with another one of her teachers and they were wanted to make sure we ended on a happy note and didn’t want to push her to stay too long on the first day.  I tried to explain,  she has been counting down the days until she would be ale to start BHG.  The teacher agreed to allow her to stay another hour until I picked up Marcus.  I had one happy little girl that evening and tired too.  The next day was suppose to be only a couple hours, nope not for this little girl.  She was there from 9-3. 

So these days I drop both Rebecca & Marcus off at 9 and then pick them up around 3p.  They both enjoy going to BHG, they play all day both inside and out, rain, snow, mud and on the occasion SUNSHINE.    Rebecca’s class usually takes a “field trip” every Monday to a nearby forest to search for creatures and such.  They walk together and its normal, throughout Stavanger & Norway, you see little BHG classes walking on the sidewalks and through fields exploring.  Marcus’ class not as frequent because his class has ages 12mos until 3yr, then they are promoted to the older class, but they have gone on walks and my American boy wants to ride in the cart for the younger kids.  

I’m not sure if Marcus is speaking Norwegian in class but we think he understands it.  Its hard to determine with him because he hasn’t built up his English vocabulary.  Rebecca came to me last night and said sko momma sko, I looked at her for a second then I realized she was saying shoe in Norwegian.  So for the 3 weeks she has been in BHG she is learning. 

I know they love it at their new BHG, both of them are super happy when I pick them up.   This past Friday, Marcus kicked me out of his class, telling me to leave, ha det momma ha det (which is Good bye in Norwegian).   So it makes me feel so good that have adapted to their new life so well and are making friends.

The kids were celebrating Carnival, they were allowed to dress up.  I'm so glad I packed their  costumes.  Superhero Rebecca & Fireman Marcus

Update: this post has been sitting in my "draft" box and needed to be posted.  I'm trying to catch up.  They are still loving BHG.  Rebecca is learning more Norwegian words daily and Marcus is understanding more and more.  

Cupcake decorating class...

I'm trying new things while the kids are in barnehage.  There is a group here in Stavanger that plans activities to do during the week days…its name currently is - People Who Connect, formally called the Petroleum Wives Club.  Last monday, they offered a cupcake decorating class and I signed up.  I have attempted cupcakes before but only doing the swirl, which I usually have issues with getting it even on all sides.  We went to a bakery called Slikkepotten Kakebutikk (translated: Spatula Cake Shop).  There were ten ladies who were attending the class.

The cake shop had pre-made the chocolate cupcakes and the chocolate icing.  Katrine was our instructor and she demonstrated several ways to apply icing to the cupcake.  She made it look super easy, then she demonstrated how to make the pretty little flowers using marzipan (fondant in the USA) with food coloring and other decorations.  Then they gave us a very valuable tip on how to flour the table/cooking surface without making a HUGE mess, by filling a "knee high hosiery" with flour and patting the surface.  Its brilliant and so worth the cost of the class.

Then it was our turn to do the work.  The bags of icing were already on the table ready for us to use… I liked making the swirls and for once in my life I made decent cupcake topping.
The closest one I'm pleased with but the one in the background not so much...
My friend, Becky, decorating her cupcakes. 

They aren't the best looking cupcakes but better than I could do before the class.  The lower left was rushed because we ran out of time.

It was a good class, its always fun learning something new.  The best part was eating these cupcakes and not having to clean the kitchen. :-)