Olympics / OL – who are you rooting for?

We’ve had quite a few people ask us lately…

Who are you rooting for in the Olympics?

We are primarily about the red, white and blue… okay, that’s easy to say when our home country and our current home utilize the same colors on their flags. So here’s a rundown of the countries we follow closely, and why:

Zack and I are most loyal to the place we’ve called home most of our lives (it’s hard to change after 38 years!). There’s just something special when the US gets the gold, and you hear the Star Spangled Banner. And Zack really liked their (really loud and really odd) opening ceremony sweaters. I’m still a bit confused by them, but they definitely turned heads!

Then there’s our new home. We’ve lived here for a year, and we spent a couple of years preparing to get here. And you gotta give it the Norwegians: they own the Winter Olympics. They are the all-time leader in overall medals AND gold medals.

Plus, their curling team uniforms totally rock!

And Team Norway has really cool headwear this year, both in the ceremonies and on the medal podium.
(Check out this article from People Magazine about the Norwegian Olympic team:
6 Reasons Why You Should Root for Norway at the Olympics)

Most of you know our history with this country. It definitely holds a big piece of our hearts. And combine that with the unrest in recent weeks… we just can’t help but cheer for the yellow and blue.

Yeah, why not throw one more in the mix. We have so many friends in Germany, both nationals and ex-pats. And we just love visiting Germany/Deutschland/Tyskland. But I do have to say I wasn’t crazy about their opening ceremony outfits.

So in the end, it’s pretty hard to disappoint us when it comes to the Olympics. We are just happy to get to watch and cheer!

Ex-pat living: Easy things aren’t so easy

In the US, a trip to the salon was easy. Even relaxing.Paying at the grocery store didn’t require any special thought.

A trip to the bakery was something I wouldn’t think twice about. Other than the fact that we didn’t really have a lot of bakeries.

But when you’re an ex-pat, the simple tasks can be difficult. Stressful. Exhausting.

You think about what you need to do. Location. Best time of day. You think about what you need to say to accomplish your task. Will it require everyday talk, or perhaps some special vocabulary you haven’t learned yet? What might the other person say back to you?

And if/when you accomplish what you set out to do, there is definitely a greater sense of accomplishment. An enthusiasm for getting the desired result. And maybe a little bit of pride when you’re able to complete it all without switching to English.

Earlier today, I arrived home from the salon. Mentally drained from a 40-minute conversation with the stylist. Proud that we didn’t once switch to English. And excited that I got the cut that I wanted. It’s a good feeling to be able to do normal things.

Time will make them easier. And the emotional ups and downs will give way to the ‘no big deal’ attitude.

But for now, we’re still excited when we are able to successfully take care of the little things.

Today, the salon. Tomorrow, the world!

What’s it Like: Nature

The landscape here is really beautiful. And we look for every possible opportunity to get out and enjoy nature. Weather can become a factor if you let it. But instead, you must embrace what we jokingly call Norway’s national motto: Det finnes ikke dårlig vær – bare dårlige klær! Or in English – there is no bad weather, only bad clothing! And it’s true. As long as you go prepared, you’ll be fine!Rather than write a lot about the great outdoors here, I think it’s better to just share some of the pictures we’ve taken over the past year. Enjoy.
























NWotD: koselig

(adjective) Cozy, comfortable, pleasant, nice. But not just one of these English words can define it – koselig is really a combination of all of them together.
(Can also be used as a greeting)Used in a sentence
Det var en veldig koselig kveld med vennene våre.

(It was a very cozy/comfy/nice/pleasant/warm evening with our friends.)

Så koselig å møtte deg!

(loose translation: So nice to meet you!)

Related to us
This is one of our favorite Norwegian words. Translation is a bit difficult. You really can’t define it with one single English word.

So, are we shredded?

We finished our 30 34 Day Shred today. Yeah, it took a few days longer due to travel and some cross-country skiing. But we did it! (Our first post was HERE.)Level 1
When we started, I could not make it through Level 1 without pausing the DVD a couple of times. By Day 10, Level 1 was not a problem.

Level 2
This is where planks are thrown in. And where I decided that satan must have invented them. While we didn’t ever pause it, I did have to take several 5 second breaks at first. But by the 10th day, I was much better and made it through without stopping. Level 2 was tougher, no doubt about it.

Level 3
Another step up, and another slow start. But by the end, I could do most everything, and no breaks. Level 3 introduces Plyometrics: jump training. I modified some of these, as some of the jumping was too much impact on my knees.

Modification vs. Full Version
There are two ‘helpers’ performing two different levels of difficulty. Anita does modified versions that are generally easier (but not always, in my opinion). Natalie performs the full versions of all  exercises. I started out following Anita every time. By the end of each level I was able to keep up with Natalie pretty well. I did not use hand weights like they did (Zack used some weights). I will add those in the future. I did use a small towel for some resistance on some of the exercises.

I’m not about to post before and after pictures on the blog. No one needs to see that! 
We were active for all 34 days. We also made modifications to our eating habits, cutting back on sugar, and focusing more on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We both lost some weight, but nothing drastic. However, I can see visible results in both of us. Things are tighter, firmer, etc. We both lost a few inches from our mid-section. My clothes fit better (I might need some new jeans!), and I am happier about the way things look in the mirror.

I am glad that we stuck to it and I think it works. We will likely continue to use the 3 levels periodically, in a rotation with other videos and activities. I think it is really good when you need to work out at home due to weather, the expense of a gym membership, or whatever other reason.

NWotD: tannklinikk

(noun) Dental clinic.Used in a sentence
Han skal til tannklinikken i morgen.
(He is going to the dental clinic tomorrow.)

Related words
Tann: tooth
Tannbørste: toothbrush
Tannlege: dentist (literally, tooth doctor)

Related to popular culture
Karius og Baktus – a Norwegian children’s book written by Thorbjørn Egner in 1949. It tells the story of two little trolls who live in teeth, making holes for their homes and thriving on sweets. It was also made into a short puppet film and is very popular among children (of all ages!). You can see a portion of it in English HERE.

Related to us
William and Daniel had their first visit to the Norwegian tannklinikk this week. Children under 18 receive free dental care in Norway. The boys received x-rays and a thorough check of their teeth. Both had healthy teeth and good reports!


Norwegian Word of the Day / Dagens norske ord

As ex-pats, language acquisition is a major part of our lives.

  • I have a new respect for immigrants and their struggles to complete simple, everyday tasks.
  • I now totally get it: you CAN understand a lot of a language, while at the same time struggling to speak it.
  • You can be highly educated, and yet feel incredibly dumb when you can’t even understand what a little child is saying to you.
  • It is a huge blessing to live in a country where most people are fluent in English. It also makes language learning difficult.
  • I find myself rehearsing phrases over and over when preparing to complete what was once a simple task (like making a deposit at the bank, or asking where something is located in a shop).
  • Norwegians are incredibly kind and encouraging when they are enduring listening to our terrible grammar.

So in the spirit of language learning, I am starting another blog series. While I doubt I will be able to pull it off every single day, I thought it might be fun to share some Norwegian words from time to time. Sometimes it will simply be a word and its meaning. Other times I will share something that is related to a new experience or a regular part of life here.

So stayed tuned – be on the lookout for “NWotD” (Norwegian Word of the Day).

What’s it Like: From Scratch

I’ve always enjoyed cooking. It’s almost like therapy for me. I like trying new things and getting creative.
In the US, many things are quick and easy. There is almost always some mix, packet, or machine to cut down on preparation time. Not as much here. While you can find some short-cut items, they are less common and seem to be typically saved for hiking or hytte tur (time spent at a cabin).
Aside from that, it is more affordable – and much healthier – to make things yourself. If you will recall, one of my first friends in Sandefjord gave me a critical lesson in Norwegian baking (see that post HERE). It was a great way to spend time together, and to learn the recipe that is used as the base for many Norwegian baked goods.
My newest from-scratch item is bread. We were buying loaves of bread at the store. We bought the cheapest bread, a store-brand Kneipp. But it lacked flavor and the texture was not great. Norwegian grocery stores have other loaves that are really good, but fairly expensive. So I decided to strike out and find a good, healthy, and easy bread recipe.
I came across a recipe on Pinterest for peasant bread. It is a no-knead recipe that you can bake in a bowl, a loaf pan, muffin tin, or as freeform rolls. I switch around with the types of flour (usually a blend), and sometimes add some seeds or herbs.
And now that I’ve started, I doubt my family will want to go back!
Other homemade items I make include lots of soups (this is typically based on whatever is in the cabinet), pizza dough, flour tortillas, waffles, and pastries.
What are your favorite ‘from scratch’ items?

Ett år i Norge – Happy Anniversary to Us!

One year in Norway – time sure does fly! One year ago today, we landed in Oslo. We flew from Vancouver to London to Gardermoen. Very little sleep during the flights. A 9 hour time difference. Eighteen bags and four backpacks.




But coming around the corner and seeing Torben, Espen and David was so sweet. And God is so good. He has provided in countless ways over the past 365 days. A good home with a kind landlord & family, who we are happy to also call friends. Good progress in language. A great school for the boys. Many local partners. A reliable car. A city we’ve come to love and call home. And many, many great friends.

A year ago on February 1, we were road weary and overwhelmed. This year on February 1, we celebrated with waffles (made by our little chef), skiing (on our own skis!!), homemade pizza (our family favorite here), and snowfall.