Russ: How students celebrate their final days of high school

The tradition of russ is observed by most students during the last month of their final year of vidergående skole / high school. We recently interviewed two students about the tradition, and about how their observance of russ tradition differs from most.

A snake? Stop it.

Are you familiar with Bill Engvall? I remember a part of his standup where he talked about people’s reactions to snakes. Rarely calm or dignified.

I can vouch for that.
I also remember the boys doing research on Norway before we moved here. One thing in particular that they wanted to learn about was whether or not there were snakes in Norway.
I can now answer that definitively. And affirmatively.
Sunday afternoon, following our time with friends on the beach, we decided to go for a family walk at Folehavna (the end of west peninsula in Sandefjord, and the site of a WWII battery). We’d been walking for quite a while, and Daniel and I were winding through some narrow corridors of one of the old firing ranges. The wall to our right at this point was just below Daniel’s eye level. Zack and William were walking on top of the range, just above us. And suddenly, Daniel saw something moving to his right. Zack realized what it was and told us to turn around.And you bet we did! No time for pictures or anything. This dude was HUGE, and Zack was fairly certain it was the one bad species we have here.

But was he right? We only had to wait until the next day, as we hiked at Tønsberg Tønne. This time around, it was the same type, but much smaller, and on a walkway ahead of us. Zack had enough time to snap a couple of photos.


I do not like snakes. And I hope we don’t see any more!

FYI – we confirmed that it is NOT one you want to encounter. Vipera berus is now on my [very, very short] list of things that I do not like about Norway!

What’s it like: Easter break

Easter holidays play out differently here than what we experienced in the states. As far as I can tell, all schools have the same spring break, the week adjacent to Easter. And the break is called påskeferie – Easter vacation.Almost all businesses are closed the Thursday and Friday before Easter, and the Monday after Easter. Thursday is skjærtorsdag, Friday is langfredag, and Monday is 2.påskedag. All the shops in the city are closed. You might be able find one of the small Sunday grocery stores open, but that is about it. Most shops are open on Saturday (påskeaften – the day before Easter), but only for a few hours.

Here are some photos from our Easter break – it was a great week with beautiful, summer-like weather, lots of outdoor time, hanging out with friends, and getting to know our neighbors better.















He is not here – He is alive!

5:35.That’s what time I woke this morning.

We stayed up late last night. Saturday was a nice day for Familie Dove. Time in the city, time with friends, a cookout on the landlord’s rooftop patio, and another episode of the Bible miniseries, plus a good bit of baking to prepare for Easter breakfast and a beach cookout with friends later today. And once the boys were tucked in, Zack and I watched an episode of one of our current favorite shows on Netflix.

That usually means a morning where I drag myself out of bed. But I woke up early. The sky was already light, with faint streaks of purple. I rubbed my eyes, and realized it was Easter morning.

And my mind wandered to the thought of two ladies who awoke early on this morning so many years ago. They got up and walked to the garden, to the tomb where the man they loved so dearly had been laid just two days earlier. I imagine it all still seemed unreal. The events of that long Friday were likely still running fresh through their minds. The images probably haunted their dreams, and their waking thoughts as well. He was surely God’s Son, and yet, He was gone.

Maybe they walked in silence, unable to put all they had seen into words. Or perhaps they were sharing favorite stories about their beloved Jesus.

They were likely reeling from it all. The Gospel of Matthew tells us they had been standing there as the stone had been rolled over the face of the tomb. As the guards had been placed there, to ensure no one stole His body to falsely claim His resurrection.

I wonder if there was uncertainty as they walked that morning. They had wanted to visit earlier, but the Sabbath was the day before, so law dictated that their task must wait until Sunday. But were they concerned that the guards might not even allow them to enter the tomb?

So many emotions, so much grief and pain.

And yet, the emotional trauma they experienced on Friday was nothing compared to what they were walking into. Their heartache would soon be replaced by happiness, their grief overrun by gladness.

The morning took away their mourning, and in its place gave them reason to rejoice!

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. (Matthew 28:1-6 NLT)

Death has been defeated! Thank you, God. Because of your Son, we have hope.  Thank you, Jesus. You didn’t deserve it, but You took our place.

Budding artist

We are getting to know so many interesting people here. Such as our new friend L. We met her in language school, and she is an incredibly talented artist. When she learned about Daniel’s interest in art, she was excited for the chance to work with him.
He went for his first art lesson today, and had a great time working with sticky back plastic. I hung around while they worked (her home is like an art gallery so I had plenty to see!), and I was so proud of his finished product!


Quick trip to Oslo

To kick off Easter break (påskeferie), we drove to Oslo on Sunday. We attended a church service with friends, and then had dinner at the Nighthawk Diner (yum!).
Monday we had a brief meeting, grabbed lunch at one of our favorite kebab shops, and then drove to Sweden. That evening we took the ferry back to Sandefjord.
Tuesday we took a 19 km bike ride as a family, including a stop at the park for lunch and football. That evening we met friends for a short walk and a cookout on the beach.
Wednesday we walked a few miles and did some grocery shopping. Then we had some friends over. We did one of our favorite nearby walks: Midtåsen & Mokollen. Afterwards, we grilled together. Bonus: We had grilled Buffalo wings 🙂
So far, Easter break is going great!

What’s it Like: Eating Out

Eating out was a frequent part of everyday life when we lived in the states. It was typically inexpensive, and was the most common way to meet up with friends.But not so much in Norway. Going out to eat was a pretty big part of our culture in the states, but not really a norm here. While we do have restaurants, you don’t normally find yourself having to wait for a table due to large crowds. Most of the time if we want to meet up with friends, we do so in one of our homes, or maybe at a park or out for a walk.

We do go out occasionally. I kind of like that it isn’t so common: that makes it more of a treat! Here are some shots from various restaurants we’ve visited since moving here.

Enjoying fish & chips in Sweden
Excited over Swedish pancakes
A special dinner out with friends
at a traditional Norwegian restaurant
One more perk of a visit from grandparents:
a trip to Oslo and a meal at TGI Fridays
Our anniversary last year:
Chinese food!
Our favorite burger place: Star Grill


A national favorite (and a family favorite!):
the kebab tallerken
The boys enjoying kebab
A rare trip to McDonalds (not our fave

American Hospitality

Not only have our friends here in Norway helped us in these first fourteen months. Friends and family from back in the states have also done things to love on and encourage us. From cards to emails, phone calls to care packages, we’ve gotten so much enjoyment from every gesture of kindness.Here is just a sampling of the outpouring of love… thanks to everyone who has sent us bits of encouragement right when we needed them 🙂













The Easter Bunny? Påskeharen?

Daniel made an Easter Bunny at school on Thursday.Really cute – and maybe a little scary 😉

They traced their own feet to make the ears and legs. I have a feeling his bunny had the longest ears in all of second grade. He may not be tall, but the boy has some big feet!

Norwegian Hospitality

Over the past fourteen months, we’ve been blessed by so many incredible people. They’ve invited us into their homes, as well as on outings around Norway. We are so thankful for the way they’ve included us and taught us so much through their kindness.Here are a few pictures of just some of the events we’ve been included in and/or hospitality that has been extended to us since arriving here…