Saturday, July 19, 2014

A quick getaway

Thanks to the kindness of some really sweet friends, we spent a couple of nights last week at a hytte/cabin just a couple of hours from home.

It was nice to get away and disconnect a bit. And when I say disconnect, I mean it. No running water, no electricity. But what a charming place with beautiful views, cozy interior, easy access to great hiking, and lots of peace and quiet. We enjoyed laughing together over a made-up game, picking berries, grilling dinner outdoors, and going on a long hike. I was especially proud of the guys. They made it to the top of Reskjemnipa - 717 meters (2352 feet) above sea level! (I made it about two-thirds of the way and then waited for them!)

A couple of photos on the way there...

Relaxing on the porch
Cool waterfalls on the hike
Amazing views
Look how high they were!
On the way back down
Beautiful sunset to end a nice getaway

And once back home, we enjoyed the fruits of the boys' labors by indulging in homemade blueberry muffins!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Boats: living by the sea

Living in a seaside town means boats. Lots and lots of boats! Summertime is especially fun, walking down to the brygga/harbor to see what might be docked that day.

Many times we see names of cities - or even countries - that aren't exactly close by. Interesting to see all the different people and places that end up in our little town here in Norway. I always wonder who they are, how they ended up here, what their story is...

Here are just a few of the boats we've seen in our area.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer: so far, so fun!

While we haven't done our big summer travel yet, we are enjoying summer holidays so far. 

Life here really is quite different during the summer. The rhythm changes. People seem a bit more social and a bit less rushed. Our city's normally quiet and distant veneer seems to fade in the summer sun, as many travel to the area to spend the summer in their seaside cabins. 

With that comes a big population increase, but also a population shift. While we do have a lot of tourists, it seems the majority of the faces we see most often have also travelled away from home. This is especially true in July, the official holiday/vacation month. This means most regular events and activities are suspended during the summer, including the majority of church services. This was a big cultural difference for us! 

So what have we been up to the past few weeks? 

We've hiked a lot, been to the beach a number of times, attended some cookouts, and strolled around the city. We've made some new friends, and worked on building upon existing relationships. We enjoyed a weekend visit from an American friend, spent a few days in Stockholm, visited Oslo, and grilled by the sea. We attended a couple of conferences. We've experienced some disappointments, as well as some much-needed encouragement. We've met folks for coffee, and shared meals as a way to slow down and grow closer. We've taken the time to rest a bit, to practice language in less formal settings, and to simply enjoy each other.

Still to come: a weekend trip to a cabin, and then a big road trip to Germany!

How is your summer going? 
Enjoying coffee with a friend from Georgia
Strolling through our city
Our version of a 'church fellowship dinner'

Look what we found while driving through Sweden!

Zack took this shot during a bike ride with the boys
Making a meal with friends

Silly friends taking a break during a summer conference


Daniel made a tree friend :)
Just a few of the beautiful flowers in Sandefjord

Crab catchers
Dinner break in Stavern
You never know what you might see around here!
Evening concert after a day filled with conference seminars

Driving home from Larvik

Hiking at Bøkeskogen
Hiking at Bøkeskogen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Four years a family of four / National Gremlin Appreciation Day

Four years. 48 months. 208 weeks. 1,461 days of adventure.

On July 10, 2010 we arrived very early in the morning at a place we had come to know very well the past few weeks. We made our way into the building and found our little guy, still quite sleepy headed and looking a little uneasy. We dressed him, gave gifts to all the kids in his group, and said our final good-byes. And with that, we walked out of the gates of Graceland and officially became a family of four.

When I say it has been 1,461 days of adventure, I mean it. This guy certainly keeps us on our toes. But he has also come such a long way. He has a joyful spirit and contagious laugh. He tests boundaries. Constantly. He can bring encouragement just when you need it. He is clever and witty. He is mischievous. He loves his family and adores his big brother. He is artistic and creative. And he has

He is a lot of everything in a concise little package, our little stick of dynamite. He has stretched us and challenged us, and taught us so much. We love him big, and look forward to seeing him develop into the man God wants him to be!

Here are a few fun photos of our dynamite guy, in no particular order...