A Super Cool Mom’s Day Gift

I just realized that I never shared the creative and totally cool gift that I received for [American] Mother’s Day from my boys.On the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, they encouraged me to go out into the city for a few hours for shopping and coffee. I figured that was my gift: a bit of time to just walk leisurely through town.

But when I woke up that Sunday morning, they were excited for me to sit down in front of the television and watch what they had made for me. It is a gift that I will treasure for years to come!


I mess up at this motherhood thing. Often. But I have two boys that I love unconditionally, and I am grateful that I am the one they call mommy. They keep me on my toes, teach me so many life lessons, and love me despite my flaws. What an overwhelmingly terrifying, humbling, beautiful and amazing role I have been given. 


As I’ve mentioned before, our boys attend an IB, or International Baccalaureate School. IB schools teach using units or themes, in a more hands-on manner, and all revolving around a learner profile. The learner profile includes 10 areas: Inquirer, Communicator, Principled, Risk-taker, Balanced, Knowledgeable, Thinker, Open-minded, Caring and Reflective.IB begins with PY – primary years – which runs grades 1 through 6. William is in his sixth and final year of PY. As the final assignment of PY, the students participate in Exhibition. Exhibition is a chance for each student to choose a subject of interest, and then present it in a way that exhibits their learning and the development of the learner profile attributes.

Yeah, that sounded totally complicated. But William and his classmates had their Exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and they did an outstanding job!

So grateful to our friend/William’s art teacher, Lizz,
for her assistance and guidance in his art piece.

William focused on Diet and Nutrition. His exhibition included a research report, an interview with our friend Severina, surveys and mathematical analysis, a blog, a PowerPoint presentation, a cookbook, a running/race challenge, a summary of the race (written in Norwegian), and an art piece.

After all of their work is completed, they have an evening to present it to family and friends, share what they have learned, and answer questions.

We are very proud of our not-so-little-guy and the great work he did on his PY6 Exhibition.

Thanks to friends for coming to support William on Exhibition Night!

A Teenager?!?!

Seems like only yesterday, he was a tiny little blonde-headed boy who struggled to reach the sink to brush his teeth. But suddenly, we have a teenager on our hands. Who, by the way, is now taller than his mom. Crazy.What a blessing our William is, to our family and to others. He is kind and patient, a good friend and a natural leader. We pray that as he continues to grow in stature, he will also continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge of His Savior.

We had a fun weekend celebrating our teen. Saturday we were at a camp at the border of Norway and Sweden with friends.


So Sunday (his actual birthday), we drove further into Sweden for an overnight trip in Göteborg/Gothenburg.

At his request, we had burgers at Hard Rock for lunch.

We walked around the city, did a bit of shopping, and enjoyed frappucinos.

And we finished the day with burritos at Wrapped Burrito Bar – probably the best burritos we’ve had since leaving the states!

Then back to our room for some gifts…

And on our way home on Monday, we stopped and explored a really cool fortress.



Yeah, we aren’t so good with the jumping pictures!

Happy 13th Birthday, William!

Kaffetur 7 / Coffee Tour #7: Tim Wendelboe, Oslo

If this blog series were a countdown to the best of the best coffee shops, I would likely have to save this for #1. Or at the very least, in the top five.

But as I am attempting to skip around and mix things up a bit, and because I’m not one to keep a secret, I must tell you about some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.

I’ve mentioned Grünerløkka before. Artsy, trendy, urban, hip… okay it is actually way too cool a place for me to be. But call us rebels, because despite lacking our cool-kid cards, we tend to hang out there most anytime we are in Oslo.

In the midst of pricey secondhand stores (did you know that the word vintage instead of used means you can charge more money), trendy restaurants, sidewalk cafes, parks and über-cool boutiques sits Tim Wendelboe.

Tim is, at least in our humble opinion, one of the Coffee Kings.

The coffee is carefully selected. Tim travels often to find the best beans from select farms. It is roasted in-house. And when I say in-house, I mean in a quite small shop sitting on a corner in our favorite neighborhood.

Don’t go in expecting to find ample seating, as there are only a few seats.

Don’t look for an old school coffee machine, because you won’t find one.

And I personally would not recommend Tim’s for those who like a little coffee with their milk and sugar.

But if you are a coffee purist, I highly recommend a visit.


For more information, visit https://timwendelboe.no

17 Years

Yesterday marked 17 years since we first said I do. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder. What did those two naive 22-year-olds think life would be like? What would we have done if someone would have come up to us and told us all that was in store?


Yes, we were young and naive. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We were holding on to that classic American ‘anything is possible’ spirit. And I think that’s a pretty good thing in fact! It takes a bit of that and a whole lot more to face trials and challenges.
(And I’ll admit that so far, our challenges have not been near as tough as many couples face!)
I could say that love conquers all. And we do have an incredibly strong love for each other, and for the Lord. But there is also respect, commitment, honesty, lots of laughter, true teamwork, and a promise that we’re in this for the long haul.
I am grateful that our good times far outweigh the tough times. We haven’t handled everything perfectly and we’ve both made our share of mistakes. But God has taken difficulties and challenges and made something beautiful. And the beauty of our years together far outweighs any brief not as glamorous moments.
Happy Anniversary to my partner in crime, the peanut butter to my jelly, the one who can finish any movie line I start, who tolerates my nuances and encourages my dreams. The one who laughs uncontrollably at my typos, serves as my food critic, motivates me to get in shape, and then sits down with me for the occasional eat-the-cake-right-out-of-the-box night. Although we didn’t meet in a chat room, I’ll still love you always and forever. Here’s to 17 more. And 17 more after that.


Thanks to sweet friends and cousins visiting from the states this week, we got to have a date night last night. What’s even better was having a date night in Oslo, our first night out in the capital city without kiddos since moving here.


Our celebration included a long walk, incredible Indian food, coffee at our favorite cafe, and dessert on Karl Johan’s Gate with some great people watching.

A typical day

One of the most common questions we get asked is what a typical weekday looks like for us. If you’re asking about the boys, that’s pretty simple.

But for us, every day brings different schedules and new opportunities.
Most mornings one or both of us drive the boys to school around 8:25. Often we will stop at the grocery on the way home. And then we have to pick the boys up a little after 3:00 pm.
What happens in between those hours varies. Many mornings we start by watching the news – language practice! A few mornings a week we work out. Mornings also include office tasks: paperwork, emails, and maybe a Skype call thrown in.
Afternoons vary. Some days we have meetings in the city. Once a week we attend a language conversation group for a few hours with 3-5 other internationals.

(One of our only consistencies is coffee throughout every day!)

And there are days like yesterday and today, where we find ourselves going in two different directions. Zack spent the day in Oslo yesterday. And now I’m on the train to Oslo.
So routine is a bit of relative term. We depend a lot on the calendar on our phones to make sure we are moving in the right direction! We have the occasional low-key day. But most days are a little bit hectic and quite a bit of fun!

Mobile Coffee Tour: Bønna in Sandefjord – Norway

A 1967 Citroen camper from Paris has experienced a rebirth of sorts, thanks to a team of redesign experts in England, and the very detailed and specific dreams of the owner/operators of Håndverkeren Kaffe og Te in our charming town of Sandefjord.

They’ve named her Bønna. And if you ask me, their coffee wagon is a little slice of heaven.

The former camping truck-turned-mobile coffee bar is a perfect compilation of retro-chic styling and color, quality coffee, and a pair of owners whose passion for their craft pours out as smoothly and richly as every delicious cup they serve up. And the result of their labor of love is fun and whimsical, and unlike anything else around this area.

After chatting for a few moments with Terje and Tabitha Hals, the braintrust behind Bønna, I sat at the accompanying table, painted the same playful shade of green, and slowly enjoyed a lovely pour-over. And I observed the parade of people who stopped, stared, waved, gawked, and then usually proceeded to step up to order a drink.

Children dragged their parents by the arm to get a closer look. One van made a near u-turn so the driver could run over to place an order. And no matter who walked past, one thing was always true: no one could take a look at Bønna without a smile on his or her face!

I love the enthusiasm and energy that are so evident in the Bønna pair as they talk about their coffee shop on wheels. It is clear that this is so much more than a job for them. Terje showed me around and shared details about the process of converting the van. Tabitha smiled broadly as she shared how much fun it is to see the reactions of passersby when she and Terje drive Bønna around. Honks, waves and countless ‘thumbs up’ have come to be the norm anytime they set out.

In between customers, I continued to chat with Terje & Tabitha – and before I knew it, nearly an hour had passed! But it was so interesting to hear about the journey of this little camping truck in France, its adventures in the speciality refurbishing shop in England, and now its new life on the corner of Kongens Gate and Jernbanealleen.

Bønna is a coffee wagon with great coffee. And yet, it is much more. While quality coffee is important, it is even better when those serving the coffee do so in a way that expresses their skills and flare for coffee craft.

Håndverkeren’s popular hot drinks are served via their mobile shop. It’s the same quality and the same service we in Sandefjord have come to know and love at the little shop on Kongensgate – just out on the streets!

Sandefjord residents – and those just passing through: be on the lookout for this delightful piece of nostalgia. Stop by for a warm drink, and maybe a pastry on the side. And be sure to tell them Notes from Norge sent you!

You can follow Bønna on Twitter and Instagram: @kaffebrenneri
Takk for en skikkelig flott opplevelse, Tabitha & Terje!
(og for at dere var så tålmodig med min dårlige norsk!)

Kaffetur 6 / Coffee Tour #6: Frühling in Basel – Switzerland

Most people seem to have a certain routine they follow before travel. Perhaps the classic Type-A personality creates an itinerary. A culinary enthusiast researches the best places to eat or the best markets to peruse. Those who have an avid interest in history will seek out spots that hold a special place in either world or local history. Perhaps it’s checking out the best activities for kids, or jotting down the hottest clubs in town.(Before moving on, I must apologize for the photo quality. The rain was pouring this particular day, and I didn’t have an adequate bag with me to protect the camera. So everything was taken on the phone.)


For us, the chance to explore a new place always means a bit of pre-travel coffee research. We pick our favorite search engine or one of our favorite review sites, and set out for looking for coffee shop reviews.
And my visit to Basel was no different.


I must admit that based on what I read, I was not overly enthusiastic about my options. The choices were few and the reviews tended to be mediocre.


There was one spot that seemed to garner the best feedback, but it was a bit outside of the city center. As my time was limited because of conference requirements, I was afraid I wouldn’t get to check it out.


Thankfully I managed to make my way there with a friend on our last day in the city. It was a rainy day and my shoes were quite sloshy by the time we reached Frühling, but I am so glad we took the time to make the trip.


We were greeted by Selma, a bubbly and friendly lady who warmly welcomed us with near-perfect English.


The cafe was quite full, but everyone else had already been served, so we had the counter and lovely barista to ourselves: a perfect time to chat about coffee and order a hand-brew.


Frühling has a clean feel and great equipment. In addition to a selection of drinks like espresso, cappuccino, and tea, they also prepare V60 and AeroPress. My friend and I each ordered a V60. I chose a natural-roasted Tanzanian bean from a roaster in Zurich, and she, a washed bean from the same area.


Each had a really nice flavor. The overall taste of the natural beans was a bit more floral, while the washed beans offered a balanced and clean finish.


Frühling has quality beans, careful handcrafted quality, a delightful array of sandwiches and other baked items, plenty of indoor and outdoor seating – and even free wifi!


A trip to Basel, Switzerland would not be complete without a stop into this shop. Be sure to tell Selma hi from the crazy American girl who lives in Norway!
I asked Selma for a photo of the two of us.
She would only agree if we sat on the counter! So here we are…


And after your coffee, walk a block south on Klybeckstrasse to Babuko Kebab Haus for an excellent doner!



Heading Home

My bags are packed and I am now just awaiting my ride to the airport. A couple of flights, with a long layover sandwiched in the middle, and I’ll soon be back with my three favorite guys.

We have some guests visiting from the states, and they’ll arrive this afternoon. I look forward to welcoming them tomorrow, and giving them quite the introduction to Norwegian culture as their first full day in Norway will be 17.mai, Norwegian Constitution Day.

Enjoy your weekend!

Girl Time

I love living in a house full of boys. It is a great life. And if you know me at all, you know that I’m not a super girly-girl. I’m pretty low maintenance.


But every now and then, it’s nice to have a little time to be with other ladies, to learn from each other, and to relax a little as well.


This week I’m attending a ladies conference that our company offered. It has been a great opportunity to learn, to be encouraged, and to be pampered a little.


Here are a few pictures of my time so far.