Friday, January 31, 2014

Gratulerer med dagen

We had fun celebrating Daniel's birthday this past week!

We began with a taco night with some friends on Monday night. They gave Daniel legos and a magic set - a perfect gift for a kid who loves to perform! It was a fun evening.

On Tuesday, we spent [a lot] of time shoveling to get the car out of the driveway, so we could take something to Daniel's class. No junk food allowed, so I made fruit & yogurt parfaits, and they were a hit!

When we got home, Daniel opened gifts from us, as well as cards from family & friends in several different countries.

He chose homemade Hawaiian pizza for dinner.
After dinner, several friends came by to help us celebrate. Daniel got some cool books and a gift card to the local toy store. My friend also graciously helped me make a traditional Norwegian birthday cake for Daniel. And I have to say, Norwegians know what they're doing when it comes to cakes! I had fun learning to work with marzipan to decorate it.

On top of all that, our neighbors also supplied him with his first set of langrenn skis, poles & shoes. (So thankful to have sweet friends, who also happen to have older boys with hand-me-downs!)

Wednesday we were in a neighboring city for house church. Daniel was surprised with more gifts: a Norwegian picture dictionary, and a Norwegian kids' cookbook. Perfect for our language learner, who also loves to help in the kitchen!

I think our little man 
really enjoyed his first birthday in Norway! 


Yeah, we've gotten a lot of snow. A LOT OF SNOW.

Like, seriously. Stop already.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nordic Life: Langrenn

This past weekend we experienced something that is very common and popular in Norway this time of year: cross-country skiing (langrenn).

Our friends invited us to a cabin for the weekend. It was a good time of getting to know each other better, relaxing, eating lots of good food, and skiing.

Okay, more falling than skiing. But either way, it's quite a workout!

We had fun, and I think the bug has bitten. We are working to get all four of us outfitted with skis so we can begin doing this on a regular basis.

And I have to say that if we are all still friends after the weekend, that's saying a lot about their patience! They were great teachers, and we are very appreciative of their hospitality and support. And when I say support, I mean that in multiple ways: from encouraging words and pointers, to getting us up and down hills - literally!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

9 years old?!?!

Happy birthday to our spunky, energetic, and joyful Daniel, who turns 9 years old today! We are so thankful for him and the way he approaches everything with enthusiasm and excitement.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What's it Like: Shoes at the Door

This part of the European culture is one that wasn't totally normal for us, but one that we have happily embraced. It was something we did from time to time in the US. Particularly if we had walked in from the rain, or if we visited someone with light colored carpets. But it didn't always happen.

When you enter a home here (and in all parts of Europe we've visited so far), take your shoes off! Typically, there is a spot in the entry for shoes. It might be a shoe rack, a closet, rug, cabinet, or maybe just an area of the floor. But be sure to kick off your skoene (yep, that's your shoes!) before you proceed into someone's home.

We really do like this practice. It helps tremendously in keeping the floors clean. I guess it has become pretty normal for us, because we were watching an American TV show the other day and I missed out on what was going on because I was shocked at the lady walking around the living room in her shoes!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Adoption Connection

It seems that no matter where we go, we find adoption connections! And Norway is no exception.

A few months ago, Zack met one of our neighbors for the first time. Not sure how it happened, but somehow he got into a conversation and learned that the man was adopted internationally, as an infant. Pretty cool!

And we had another encounter this week. Daniel has been going through some educational testing (the education system here is INCREDIBLE by the way!!). At the end of the testing, as we were meeting with the doctor who facilitated the majority of it, we were sharing more about our two adoptions. He seemed very interested and asked really good - and appropriate - questions.

(Even better - he waited until Daniel was not with us to ask things. We appreciate this so much, because we never want things said in front of him that make him uncomfortable, questions that maybe he isn't ready for, or comments that cause him any undue sadness, insecurity or anxiety.)

After we finished sharing, the doctor smiled and then shared that he and his wife have also adopted two children internationally. They were adopted as infant so they've been raised here in Norway and are now grown and doing well.

We appreciate the chance to connect with other adoptive families. It brings encouragement and a chance for a special level of understanding and empathy. And we appreciate how this kind man was willing to share part of his family's story.

Monday, January 20, 2014

What's it like? - new blog series

Monday is the day you typically try to get back into routine. That made me think of something else that people ask a lot. We often get questions regarding what our routine is like, and what is different about life here.

Change is a constant, and the seasons bring about big shifts in how we do things. But I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about some of what is normal for us.

So be sure to check back on Mondays for a new series...

What's It Like?

What's it Like - our winter morning routine

We'll start with the Dove family winter morning routine...

I (Jenn) get up around 6:30. I get heaters turned on in the kitchen and living room, and pack the boys' lunches. Everyone else gets up around 7:00 and gets dressed for the day. This time of year, a base layer under your clothes is important! While they get ready, I make coffee and breakfast.

Everyone sits down to breakfast around 7:20. Our normal breakfast includes fresh bread and rolls with cheese and jam, along with either musli, oatmeal or grits (thanks to friends and family for keeping us supplied with this taste of the South!).  Zack reads a devotion and we finish with prayers. The boys then clean up the table (one of their chores). 

Then it's time for the boys to get geared up for their walk to the bus. This time of year, they take the bus, as it is much easier than getting the car (and driveway) ready early in the morning. Daniel wears a snowsuit, and William gets into his snow pants and coat. They must also remember hats, gloves, and scarves... and reflectors since it's dark out!

They leave around 8:00. It takes about 10 minutes to get to the bus station, and they are typically on the bus around 8:10-8:15. Their school day begins at 8:45 and we pick them up at 3:05.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What do you miss most?

It is a question we are asked often. We get it via emails, Skype or FaceTime from friends and family in the states. And we get it from friends here as well.

What do you miss most from America?

Other than family and friends, there is not much that we can think of. We will occasionally have a moment where we miss a food item or a favorite store, or maybe some familiar convenience. But most of these moments are temporary or seasonal.

And such is the case with our latest item that we miss...

We miss having a garage!

Want to know why? Not because we don't like walking outside to reach the car, or that we miss having climate control. No, it is more about the 30-45 minutes we currently must spend each time we need to leave. Shoveling the driveway and around the car. Brushing the car off. Shoveling under the car. De-icing windows. Thawing the wipers.

Today the snow around the car was knee-deep on me (Jenn). It is quite an adjustment for a couple who've spent most of their lives in Georgia!

Here is a picture of our car,
taken a couple of days ago

Friday, January 17, 2014

30 Day Shred

We have been focusing a lot on eating better, and being more active. I now bake most of our bread, and we are eating a lot more fresh vegetables and fruits. We have cut out a lot of sugar and don't eat as much meat. While the first few days were difficult, everyone seems to be liking it now.

But getting active in the wintertime is tough here. So Zack and I decided to start a DVD program last week: The 30 Day Shred. While it's primarily designed for women, I read about a lot of couples going through it together. My husband is a good sport and agreed to give it a try.

So here's how it works: a 20 minute workout, once a day, for 30 days. It's split into three levels, so you do each level for 10 days.

And I think it just might be working. When we started Level 1 I couldn't make it through without pausing. By Day 10, it was really no problem. Then Level 2 began yesterday, and I thought I was going to die! But I am happy to report that we have yet to skip a day, and after 12 days we are feeling better already.

I'll report back later, and let you all know how it turns out!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vinteren er endelig her! (Winter is finally here!)

Over the past couple of weeks, as we sat and watched news reports of record lows in the US, we wondered what exactly was going on around us in what so many call the Cold North.

We wonder no more. After a wet Christmas with temps never getting even close to freezing, winter has arrived in our little corner of Norway.

The snow began early Sunday morning. It was a nice light ground cover that brightened things up considerably. And then the snow returned Monday afternoon. It hasn't been incredibly heavy overall, but it hasn't let up a lot either.

As I type, the boys are out in the driveway, working on a (hopeless) attempt at a snowman, trying out their snow scooter, and developing some very rosy cheeks!

Monday, January 13, 2014

George Clooney and our street

A few months ago, some of our local friends mentioned an older commercial from a Norwegian bank, that starred George Clooney. In it, Clooney references a house in Lillestrøm, but it is actually in our city, Sandefjord. Not only is the house in our city, but on our street. And not just on our street, but right across from us. And on top of all of that, the commercial was voted the best commercial of 2011!

We finally remembered to look it up last night. And I have to say, the commercial is pretty cute. And cool to see our neighbor's house, too!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Paris: The Dove 10

Ten things we enjoyed seeing, doing or trying while visiting Paris (in no particular order)...

1. The Eiffel Tower: yeah, that's a given. We didn't go to the top. It would have meant many hours standing in line. But we loved seeing it both in the daytime and at night.

2. Champs Élysées/Arc de Triomphe: great shops, nice cafés, good restaurants, excellent people-watching 

3. Pastries - we tried so many yummy things! Pains au chocolat, croissant, crepes, waffles, galette, apple strudel, profiteroles, and more. And the window displays were always impressive.

4. Notre Dame - the church was beautiful on the outside (too crowded to go inside) - and we also enjoyed wandering around the little pedestrian streets, with lots of shops, restaurants and cafés


5. Passage Plantin - if you've ever seen The Bourne Identity, you likely remember the scene where Jason & Marie drove through the very narrow corridor, and then down stairs (seen HERE). This is where it happened and it was SO. VERY. NARROW. We always enjoy finding little 'famous' spots like this.

6. Orangina - the boys fell in love with this drink (okay, we really liked it, too!)

7. The Louvre - the building itself is art. And if nothing else you should see Mona Lisa. BONUS: kids under 18 are free!

8. Small neighborhoods - we liked exploring areas outside of the main part of the city

9. Sacre Coeur - a beautiful church (the inside was beautiful as well, and didn't take long to go through despite big crowds) sitting on the highest point in the city

10. Disneyland Park Paris - so much fun! Read more HERE