Tag Archives: routine

Throwing the Shock in Reverse

Those of you that have been hanging out with us for a likely remember that we’ve written a bit on the blog about culture, and adapting to life in a new country. Things we’ve learned and experienced as we journeyed across the ocean. Differences in Norwegian & American culture. Things that were strange or difficult for us. Things we love about this culture and country.

Things like…
Our “What’s It Like” series (here)
Our “Christmas Cheer” series (here)
The boys’ school experience (here)

Yeah, three years of learning and being challenged, feeling frustrated at times, and at other times quite encouraged, struggling to understand differences, working to find substitutes for things that were once normal for us, finding balance in a new routine, and so much more.

We have grown to love life in Europe. It has become home. Then again, we’ve also learned that the idea of home has greatly changed. There is no longer that one place that is home for us. Instead, it’s a feeling, and it’s more about who than where.

But now it’s time for a bit of reverse culture shock… the Dove family is embarking on a visit to our other home! We’re headed to America soon (in 15 days, to be exact), where we’ll be spending the holidays with family and friends, doing a bit of work, and relaxing a bit as well.

Zack and I have each been back to the states once. But our boys have not been there in over three years. Needless to say, they are a bit excited!

We are excited as well – and maybe a bit apprehensive. Three years is a long time. And we’d be lying if we said this time and experience has not changed us.

Two months in America – this is going to be interesting!

So stay tuned to see just how much we’ve changed – and how much the world and life we left have gone off and changed on us!

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!

A Passion… for Pizza!

Deep-dish pizza – delicious!

On most any Friday evening you can find us at home, eating pizza and watching a movie. It’s become somewhat of a tradition for Familie Dove.

We often give the boys the choice: pick up Grandis from the grocery store (Grandiosa, Norway’s most popular frozen pizza), get takeout from Balkan (our favorite to-go pizza in Sandefjord), or homemade. And most Fridays, they opt for one made from scratch.

Last night, we tried something new. Instead of our traditional rectangular pizza, we experimented with Chicago-style deep dish pizza. And while the boys still prefer the traditional style, Zack and I loved this new version!

I found the recipe HERE. I followed it for the most part. Ground sausage isn’t something I’ve been able to find in Norway, so I improvised with ground chicken and pizza seasoning (improvise is a word I often use when attempting American recipes here!). And I used pizza cheese for both layers of cheese, instead of the final parmesan layer. This was my first experience doing something like this with a springform pan, and I was very pleased with the results – well, once Zack managed to pry the sides off the pan!

Do you make homemade pizza? What type does your family prefer? What are your favorite toppings?

Our typical homemade pizza
No matter the season – we think pizza is good any time of year!
Sometimes we get a little creative – this was
a salmon & pesto pizza


From time to time, we go out for pizza.
Pizza almost always produces smiles!

Real Life

Some days the expat life is great. Other days it can be a struggle.But a couple of recent days stand out as days where I have to pinch myself to be certain this is real life.

Out doing some work in our neighboring city, Tønsberg


Coffee and conversation with a local friend


Back to School

My primary goal for my sons is not that they live a comfortable, safe, easy life. No, I want them to be challenged and stretched, I want them to experience things and grow from those experience.But at the same time, I do want them to be happy. With all of the changes and adjustments they’ve dealt with in their short lives, a certain sense of comfort isn’t a bad thing.

And when I see them comfortable and happy, it is an encouragement for this momma’s heart!

That is what I saw last Thursday morning, as they returned to their school for a third year (this will be their second full year). They are in a familiar environment, where they are known and cared for. They enjoy school, and they have teachers who challenge them and help them reach their potential. They aren’t seen as a number, and they are encouraged to develop at a pace that suits each of them, without going too easy on them.

As I’ve said before, I’ve learned that when my kids are thriving in this expat life, it makes everything easier.

First day of school after arriving in Norway
Daniel: Grade 1, William: Grade 4


First day of school 2013
Daniel: Grade 2, William: Grade 5


First day of school 2014
Daniel: Grade 3, William: Grade 6


Confessions of a Coffee Addict

We love coffee. We enjoy trying different roasts and checking out different ways of preparing. Zack loves all the gadgets and experimenting with various brewing methods.

A cute wall quote we picked up
at a local shop this week
(‘Life is too short for bad coffee’)

We live in what I consider a coffee culture. Coffee is good here. Like, really good. It’s strong. Flavorful. And in abundance. Coffee and conversation: it’s a big part of our lives here. Coffee is something we like to enjoy together, and something we share with others often.

So when our anniversary was approaching, we decided we’d really like to buy a new coffee machine (aka coffee maker, kaffetrakter) as our gift to each other. For the past 14 months we’ve been using the one that was left in our apartment. It was probably the cheapest model on the market and most of the time the coffee tasted scorched. We often use our french press, espresso pot, pour over, or aeropress when we have extra time and just want a cup or two. But we really like to have a machine for the mornings, so we can make a full pot.

We started doing some research and discovered MoccaMaster. They are handmade in the Netherlands and are reported to be the best. However, while they are super nice, the price wasn’t exactly in our budget. But thanks to an unexpected gift card from our power company, we were able to get the machine we really wanted for a REALLY good price!

I didn’t think it would make that big of a difference, but this machine rocks. A complete brew in six minutes, two heat settings for the burner so the coffee in the pot doesn’t get too hot, and the water is kept at optimal temperature throughout the brewing process. I love our new toy, and look forward to many happy years with it!

What’s it like: oppvaskbørste… is that a vegetable brush?!?

Those of you who know me well are likely not
surprised that I have a purple oppvaskbørste!

When we first moved into our home, I discovered that the landlord left two things for us next to the sink: dishwashing soap, and a vegetable brush.

Okay, nice that you would leave these things. But why a vegetable brush? I was puzzled.

And then we had dinner with a local family, and I quickly discovered that what I thought was a vegetable brush was in fact an oppvaskbørste, or a dish brush.

I had never used a brush for this purpose. But after 15 months it has become my weapon of choice when hand washing.

What is typically used for washing dishes where you live: a brush, a sponge, a cloth, or something else?


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.















What’s it like: Being the new person #expatliving

I don’t know about you, but the thought of being the new person has always brought on a lot of anxiety for me.I remember the summer before fourth grade, when my parents moved us to a new city. I left the comfort of a small private school where I knew everyone, and began public school for the first time. The first day was filled with lots of butterflies in the stomach. But I have to tell you how relieved I was when I met another girl in my class who was also a first-timer, after her first few years in private school. We quickly became friends, and remain friends now, nearly 30 years later.

Then came the bigger move, in the middle of tenth grade. After years with friends and many layers of comfort and familiarity, I had to transfer mid-school year to a new high school, an hour+ away from our old town. I knew no one. No.One. Sixteen years old, with my own car, I suddenly found myself alone again. And riding the bus. Yes, humiliating. And this was the country. So all the kids – from elementary to high school – rode on one bus together. As the bus driver blasted Billy Ray Cyrus. Every.single.day.

That transition was a bit harder, but I made it. In America, at least in my experience, people tend to be curious about the new person. They introduce themselves to you, and ask questions.

And I thought that was normal. But as with many things over the past year, I’m learning that some of what we considered ‘normal’ is really more cultural.

Foreign to Familiar
by Sarah A. Lanier

Such is the case with being the new person. Thankfully, we read about what to expect before we arrived in Norway. So it wasn’t a total surprise. But there is a difference in reading something and experiencing it firsthand…

In America, people introduce themselves to the new person. But here in Norway, the new person should not simply assume or expect the same. We’ve learned that if you want to meet people, you need to just go ahead and introduce yourself. It’s one of the cultural differences we’ve come to recognize and accept.

What is it like where you come from? Who introduces whom? Have you ever had a cross-cultural difference that created difficulties?

Related Reading: Much of this stems from the differences between Hot and Cold cultures/societies. A year or two ago, I read a book that helped me a lot in processing these differences: Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot and Cold-Climate Cultures. A great read to help you recognize and hopefully avoid cross-culture misunderstandings.


What’s it like: Pant (no, not what you wear)

This is an example of a bottle recycling/refund machine
(photo found on Aftenposten)

As I mentioned in a previous post (read it HERE), recycling is big in Norway. And in addition to the things you just put into recycling containers, you can also return bottles for a refund. They call the refund Pant (pronounced pahnt) and I believe it can be a noun or a verb.

I’ve also talked about how the boys focus on specific units/themes at school throughout the year (read that post HERE). Daniel’s current unit of study is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

It is exciting when you see your kids do more than just ‘book learn’ something.

Daniel’s box that is now sitting in the entryway at his school

One evening the boys and I were talking about things going on at school: their units of study, what they liked about what they were learning, plus important things like eating lunch, recess, PE, etc. Daniel began complaining that they don’t have any decent equipment (balls, jump ropes, etc) on their playground. And through a series of questions I posed, he came up with the idea of asking people to bring in their bottles and the money that is collected could be used to purchase some new equipment. He works with his teacher to write the proposal, and then presented it to the principal for approval.

I’m really proud of Daniel and his ability to apply his unit of study to everyday life. It’s fun to see his enthusiasm each day when he checks the box in the school entryway to see how many more bottles were brought in.