Friday, February 28, 2014

Two Starfish #adoption #ramblingthoughts

I was looking back through our pictures from Malaga. When I found this shot of Daniel, it brought to mind the Starfish story. (Never heard it? Read it at the bottom of this post.) And it got me thinking about our two boys.
We are thankful that our minds were opened to the concept of making a difference for one. Thankful that our hearts were opened to James 1:27.

Our boys didn't necessarily win the lottery when they joined our family. We didn't have a clue what we were doing. Okay, most days we still don't! We are flawed, far from perfect. We mess up. Often.

But we are children of a Father who forgives. And each day we are learning a deeper meaning of the word family, what it means to be forgiven, what it means to forgive, and what it means to help each other through life. We are discovering the power of striving daily to take our focus off ourselves, and place it on the One who gave the perfect example of earthly living, and the ultimate example of love and sacrifice. If we can help them to understand and embrace this, what more could we want?

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 (NLT)

The Starfish Story
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference."
The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied "it made a difference to that one."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Liebe Gruß and Language Formalities/NwotD

When our friends Jeff & Deanna lived in Germany, they were taught the proper way to end a conversation. It included a greeting to your family, friends, etc. And they quickly learned that it was quite important and could be considered rude when not used.

So Jeff's question was this: Is there any formal or informal greeting or salutation in Norwegian?

There are things that are appropriate to say, but so far we haven't learned anything that would be considered rude if we didn't say.

Here are some helpful greetings and phrases.

For a greeting you might say

  • Hei!
  • Hei hei!
  • Hallo!

Often after this, you will say

  • Takk for sist! It means thanks for the last time - basically acknowledging our last meeting. It could possibly be compared to an English phrase like "good to see you again."

If you are welcoming a guest into your home, you might say

  • Velkommen til oss! Straight translation: welcome to us.

As you are departing, you can say

  • Ha det bra! Taken word by word, it literally translates have it good. But this is the word we would use like good-bye. 
  • You can also say Ha det, a shortened form.
And many times in your departure, you may choose to say one or two of these
  • Takk for oss! (Thanks for us)
  • Takk for i dag! (Thanks for the day)
  • Takk for i kveld! (Thanks for the evening)
  • Hils familien! (Greet your family)
  • Vi ses snart! (similar to See you soon!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


If you grew up around the same time I did, you'll likely recognize K.I.T. Specifically, it is probably scrawled all over your junior high or high school yearbooks.

Keep In Touch!

Did you know there is an easy way to keep up with the latest from this blog? If you're on the full web version right now, look over to the right. There is an email box there. Simply enter your email address and click on Submit, and you'll receive an email anytime we post something new on the blog. It's easy and convenient, but something I'm not sure I've mentioned in the past. 

Ex-pat living: I can't think straight

I have so many potential blog posts rolling around in my mind. But I can't seem to get any of my thoughts straight.

Maybe it's a pitfall of the ex-pat life. Maybe it's because I have several languages waging war against each other in my head. (Russian and Spanish have really gotten their feelings hurt recently for being so neglected!) Or because I'm constantly struggling to remember the things we thought were so strange when we first came here. Most of it's just the norm now. Maybe I can blame it on the fact that I'm the mom of two exceptionally energetic boys. Or because I'm nearing 40.

Ouch. That last one kinda hurt to type.

But whatever the reason, I could use a little feedback.

Via comment here or a Facebook comment or Twitter reply, let me know what you'd like to hear about...
  • Have you wondered about a certain aspect of life in Europe?
  • Questions about the language?
  • Anything you might have seen in an old post and wanted to ask about? 
  • Do you have a suggestion for a post that I could write from the perspective of an ex-pat?
  • Or a "What's It Like" topic?
  • Or a suggestion for another blog series I should consider?

Ask away, and I'll try to address any questions or suggestions we receive!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tønsberg Tønne

The Tønsberg Tønne (translated Tønsberg Barrel) is a an old beacon at the tip of Tønsberg Fjord in Sandefjord. We went there Sunday morning for a hike with friends. The weather was overcast and around 6 C (43 F): good hiking weather! It really is a great hiking spot and the weather cooperated well... until we got to the very top where the beacon (?) is. The wind was whipping so hard! It would almost knock us over. On our way back, we stopped on the beach and grilled our lunch.

By the way, do you notice anything in the pictures? Yeah, our snow is almost completely gone and it's still February!

Monday, February 24, 2014

What's it like: Signs

It's always fun to check out signs when you travel - and even when you're close to home.

Here are some interesting, strange, and fun signs we've seen in this part of the world...

No ice cream, no hot dogs, no bottles or cans...?
(I especially like this one because it seems most Scandinavians
really enjoy ice cream and sausages!)

An important sign in our language school:
this is not a squatty potty!

Be careful, or you'll drive into the water!

And a few others that have caught our attention over the years...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

NWotD: ingenting

(adverb) Nothing.

Used in a sentence
Jeg har ingenting å gjøre.
(I have nothing to do.)

Related to popular culture
Here is part of a children's song that uses inventing:
Vår Gud er så stor       (Our God is so big)
Så sterk og så mektig  (So strong and so mighty)
Finns ingenting Han ikke kan (There's nothing He cannot do)

Related to us/to language learning:
Ingenting is one of the words that we include in the "False Friend" category.
Wikipedia defines False Friend as "pairs of words or phrases in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning." You can read the full Wikipedia entry about False Friends HERE.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's Magic!

Some of our friends gave Daniel a magic set for his birthday last month. If you know Daniel, you know how perfect this gift is.

Our little performer is having so much fun learning the tricks. Here is a quick video of one of the first performances by the Great Danino...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spania: a quick trip to Malaga

We just returned from a conference in Malaga, Spain. Sunshine, temps around 15 - 18 C. Yeah, almost like Norwegian summer.

We didn't have a lot of time outside, as most of our days were filled with meetings. But we managed to take advantage of the breaks and explore a little bit.

As a bit of Norwegian practice for myself, I have decided to occasionally include the Norwegian translation of a blog post. (Thanks to sweet friends here for helping me with my grammar!)

Vi er nettopp kommet tilbake fra en konferanse i Malaga, Spania. Det var sol, og circa 15 til 18 grader. Ja, nesten som norsk sommer!

Vi fikk ikke så mye tid ute, på grunn av mange møter. Men vi utnyttet pausene og utforsket litt.

Monday, February 17, 2014

What's it like: Recycling

When we lived in Georgia, we were pretty conscientious about recycling. We had our big plastic bin that would be set out by the trash can every week for pick-up. We would fill it with glass, metal, plastic, and paper.

Recycling is important in Norway as well, which is great! Only, there is a little more involved.

In our home, we have five different trash containers. One is for food trash. The next is for plain paper. Then there's restavfall: that is, non-recyclable waste. There's glass & metal. And finally we have plastics.
Under the sink: we have spots here for paper,
food, and restavfall
There's a special bag for food. And plastic. And we have three different trash cans outside that are picked up on a rotating basis each week: brown for food, blue for paper, and gray for restavfall. They also pick up the plastics in the rotation.

But not metal or glass - there are special receptacles throughout the city for those. And we can also recycle old batteries and lightbulbs at many grocery stores and other shops.

And we are always sure to check drinks bottles! Most of them have a pant - a deposit we pay when you buy them. So we keep the bottles separate, and take them to the pant machine in the grocery store. We return them and get a printed receipt that is taken to the cashier. We can use it towards our grocery purchase, or get the cash.

Lots to remember, but after a year I think we have the hang of it!

Talking about green[er] living made me think of the book Green Like God - have you ever read it? Our friend Jonathan wrote it a few years ago. Often, there seems to be this great divide between Christians and environmentalists. While I don't believe that I should worship the earth, I do follow the One who created it. If He really made it for us, shouldn't we take care of it? This book addresses some of that.

Do you recycle?
Are there any weird recycling requirements where you live?
Have you read any interesting books on recycling, environmentalism, or a related subject?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

NWotD: barn

(noun) Child.

Used in a sentence
Vi har to flotte barn.
(We have two great children.)

Related words
Barnehage: kindergarten/nursery/preschool
Barndom: childhood
Barnebarn: grandchild
Barnemat: child's play / piece of cake
Barneregle: nursery rhyme

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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!

Monday, February 10, 2014

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.