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Norway Trip

                                                                                April 2007 

30.04.07 Mondag

Hey folks!  Woo-hoo, it's almost May!  And the sun has been shining in Bergen!  Oh, this place is so pretty when the sun shines! I keep telling Alf, with the sun shining and the temps a comfortable 70 degrees, I could SO live here!  He keeps reminding me of the rain, but what's a little rain!  I asked Elisabeth yesterday when we were on a walk what she liked best about Norway, and she said "the sun, and the rain..."  Let's face it, South Dakota hasn't seen much rain since Elisabeth, or Karoline, have been born! 

Saturday we caught up a bit on the apartment with cleaning and laundry, and then walked over to the shopping center to the McDonald's.  Bridget and Trond and the boys all met us there and we had ice cream sundaes outside in the sun.  Afterwards, we once again found ourselves at the Svendsen dinner table, to Trond's famous nachos and Madam Bergen's fish cakes...the adults had the nachos and the kids had the fishcakes...that combination sounds funky!  We ended up letting ourselves out the door, as both boys started not feeling so well...both were feeling better by morning!

Sunday, the girls and I found our own entertainment, if for nothing else but to let the Svendsen family have a break from us!!  We left our apartment about noon time, and we walked over to Farmor's house, which is probably a mile away, at best.  It took us probably 2 hours to get there, but it was soooo nice out!  We walked around a really pretty water and fed the ducks and played on a playground.  The sun was shining and the flowers were blooming.  Both girls picked lots of bouquets, but unfortunately, the flowers kept wilting, which drove Elisabeth absolutely crazy!  So every 10 feet, once the flowers she had in her had started to wilt, we had to stop so they could pick more.  We visited with Farmor for a while, and then walked home again.  There were SO many people out walking...ahhhh, sunshine...


Tomorrow is May first, a holiday here in Norway, and throughout most of Europe, with what we would call Labour Day.  There will be parades tomorrow of different unions and companies promoting or protesting different issues, and nothing will be open except gardening stores, because if your not protesting,  then you should be gardening...don't know how that relates but that's what people do.  Tomorrow is also Lukas' first birthday!  Gratulerer middagen, Lukas!!  Since I had no school today, Bridget and I decided to take the kids to a family event going on at Fanafjellet, which used to be a petting zoo and pony ride when Alf was little.  They were having a special event this weekend with pony rides, magicians, clowns and go-karts.  It was 70kr per person, which is about $12, but we figured everything would be free once we got in.  Well, technically, it was free, but I think they used some creative license in how they described their events.  The clown was also the go-kart coordinator, who was also the goat herder, who was also the emcee...you get the picture.  It was pretty cheesy, but you know, the kids had a blast!  There was go-karts, bunnies, goats, face painting, jumping pits, pony rides, balloon making guy, coin operated rides with all the free coins you wanted, and a sand box and tire swing!


Picture 1across the top L to R: Elisabeth gunning the gas pedal, Karoline driving; Elisabeth driving alone; Karoline in the lead; Karoline holding the bunny; Lunchtime!; two goof-balls hanging out the mesh window of a jumping pit; Elisabeth the pink kitty; big sister making sure it's done right!; Karoline the kitty; Karoline pony riding: Elisabeth pony riding; both girls on the horses they told me were 'just the right size!'; the mini-karousel; Lukas not too sure about his driving partner; William and the girls in the castle jumping pit; two weird ladies getting thier 70kr worth!; one pooped out little girl at the end of the day!!

Funny story:  I wish I had video or pics of our lunch guest today...we had a very friendly goat who really wanted to eat lunch with us.  He strolled over and first tried to eat Lukas' bib, then he wanted the kids' food so he stood up on the picnic table bench to see the table top...when that didn't work, he casually walked down to the end of the picnic table where we weren't sitting, jumped up on top and tripp-tropped his way over to the food.  I had to lift him off the table, but that apparently was not enough of a sign to him that he wasn't welcome, because as I was cleaning up the yogurt he kicked over, he jumped back up again.  If you look at the picture up above in the fifth picture from the top, you can imagine my girls yelling and shrieking and running around the table convinced the goat is chasing them, William was screaming because the thought the goat wanted to eat him, Bridget and I are laughing so as not to scare the kids but still trying to save all the food and keep the darn animal away, and what other families were there just sat and stared at us...finally the clown/go-kart guy/emcee came over and offered the goat a hot dog bun and he left us...for awhile...the goat eventually came back but we had managed to feed the kids enough food to last them and we escaped from the picnic tables.  I am sure the goat herder laughed for a good 5-7 minutes before he finally came over save us...maybe that was part of our 70kr fee too???

23.04.07  Mondag

Hey, hey, everybody...or whoever is still reading this!  Welcome to another week in sunny (not really), happy (that's a stretch) Bergen!  Yes, my sarcasm is going to come out here in the website because let me tell you guys...the LAST thing you learn when you learn a language, is sarcasm!  I don't know if I would go as far as to say sarcasm is predominantly American, but I will say it's cultural.  What we might think of sarcasm or humor, others in the world find stupid and backwards.  I am sure there is some euphemism out there about one man's comedian is another man's village idiot...

We are entering the last of week of April and we are still bound determine to last to July/August.  There have been moments when I have been ready to throw in the towel, and I am sure the girls have had those moments too...but when we all sit down and talk, both the girls agree to stay until we said we would.  Elisabeth is much more willing to stay, being as she loves going to the barnehage and being with her friends.  I think she is also proud of herself (and she should be!) that is she can speak so well Norwegian.  Karoline is ready to come home, but she wants to stay if Elisabeth and I stay.  We all agree we miss Roxy and Pappa, and our toy room (them for their toys, me for my sewing machine) and we all are hoping to go to Michigan when we head back.  We do agree that we will miss Bridget and Trond, and the boys, and Farmor, and Farfar, and Norway.  It's definitely going to be tough to leave, even, I think for Karoline.

School goes well for me.  I can understand probably 80% of what is said in class now.  The verbs are getting easier, but I still struggle with adjektives (Norwegian spelling) and adverbs in writing, and my speaking skills still leave much to be desired...yes, I still sound like the village idiot when I talk...but, now I think I am sounding like the village idiot that has been sitting in on the kindergarten class!  My biggest struggle, by and far, is understanding people, and having the right words to say when I talk.

The girls are ok.  Tomorrow we get to have a new experience: Karoline and I are going to visit the dentist here in Norway.  Karoline got her top front tooth knocked loose today at barnehage and I think we are going to go have it checked out.  The great thing about Norway...free dental for children under 18!!!  Yoo-hoo!!!  I am hoping that all is well, and her tooth will be just fine.

N堭堪eg skrive litt p堮orsk. Mange folk spurte hvis jeg l沥r mye norsk.  Ja, jeg har l沴 norsk, men jeg m堬沥 mye mer.  Jeg tror grammatikk er veldig vanskelig 堬沥, og jeg vet mange av deres kan finne mange feiltagelse n岠jeg skriver.  Det er ok fordi jeg skal g堰堍 skolen hver dag og l沥r mer om morgen.  Kanskje, noen dager, vi kan sitte or drikke ೡmmen og prater p堮orsk, med riktig grammatik.  Jeg skal betale den 젭ed du m堲eise til USA!  (ج er veldig dyr i Norge!)

Ha det bra!

     A slow picture week! The first two pics are of Elisabeth working on math, and last, of course, Karoline after a rough day of having her tooth knocked loose...konked out on the couch!

17.04.07  Tirsdag

Greetings, one and all!  Trying to get back in the swing of things here with Alf leaving us.  Much harder this time than it was when he left in December...maybe the initial excitement has wore off?  At any rate, life goes on, and we are managing to keep ourselves busy and occupied. 

Got some great pics to share with you all.  I am playing around with the size and quality of the pics so bear with me as they are change every time I update, ok?  This first set of pics is from the 11th of April when Alf left.  We said our good-bye's inside the airport with ice-cream, and Alf got a great good-bye gift of chocolate and vanilla ice-cream smeared all over his pants.  He was also pretty upset with me because that morning he has used my body cream and it had made him nauseous to smell the fresh vanilla scent...note to Alf: Don't Use my Bath and Body Works Lotion next time!  After Alf boarded, we waited outside to see his plane take off and then had dinner at Bridget and Trond's house to cheer us all us. Nothing like a good game of soccer for Norwegians to perk the body right up!  As you can see by Lukas, a Norwegian child is never to young to start playing!!

Saturday turned out to really nice weather wise, so we got out of the apartment and met Bridget and the boys for a day of outdoor fun.  We took a walk through the woods and tried to feed some ducks some nice tasty bread, but all they did was spit it out and swim away from us.  We did find frog eggs just waiting to hatch, and lots of spring flowers that made great bouquets for anyone who would take them.  After all our walking, we found an empty barnehage to play and sit in the sun.  Afterwards, Trond treated us to his famous homemade pizza and Bridget's handmade saft (much like kool-aid.)  A great day enjoyed by one and all...except maybe for Trond, who had a 'honey do' list and did a bunch of work Saturday!

Sunday started out as a great adventure.  We met up with the Svendsen Family (that would be Bridget and Trond) and headed downtown to go hiking up on Floiyen, one of the mountains surrounding Bergen.  The first adventure was getting pulled over by the Bergen Politi for a routine driving inspection.  I had to pull off the road and provide them with my driver's licence.  Luckily, I had a really nice officer who was willing to speak English and politely asked about South Dakota, my stay in Norway, and if I was married...!!!  I hesitated for only a second and said yes...he was cute!!  Afterwards I thanked him, which startled him because he slowly turned around and asked why, to which I replied for giving me the chance to tell everyone back home that I was pulled over!!  He didn't really laugh, but just kind of backed away...most likely mumbling about crazy Americans!

We took the cable car up Floiyen, and got a few shots on the new observation deck they just finished this last month...very cool!  Then we hiked up the mountain...maybe a mile, if that, to the 'brushytten,' which is owned and operated by the company that make Hansa beer and pop in Bergen.  Of course, hiking in the mountains means stopping for chocolate, a tradition my girls were more than happy to partake in!  We also packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed the bright, beautiful sunshine!  There was water to throw rocks in, and the girls enjoyed themselves with William running around searching for the best rocks or the perfect stick to 'fish' with!  After we came back down, we all agreed a good ice cream would really hit the spot!  So, we went to the wharf and got us some!  Our cones were way to big, but they sure tasted good.  It was so nice downtown...the sun was out, boats were up and down the wharf, and people were everywhere.  Motorcycles were out too, but I didn't get a picture.  I was too busy trying to make sure the girls didn't smear ice-cream on someone by not paying attention where they walked.  Such a beautiful way to spend a Sunday in Bergen.  Have to admit...was feeling a few muscles in my legs on Monday that I didn't realize was there, but it was good!


(Picture description going from left to right, top row first)

looking down at Bergen from the new observation deck on top of Floiyen; me and my girls :) ~ Karoline finding creative ways to carry her sweater ~ taking a break on the way up ~ my girls refraining from rock throwing for a quick pic ~ lunchtime; "Life is nothing without friendship~Cicero...17 years of friendship ~ CHOCOLATE ANYONE??? ~ Karoline gathering rocks to throw while holding the perfect stick ~ Trond and all the kids throwing rocks, talking life perhaps? ~ on the way back down with the promise of Ice-Cream! ~ the girls taking the hard way down ~ directions, for the men on the trail :) ~ ahhhhh, ice-cream....

09.04.07 Mandag ~ God P峫e!  (Happy Easter!)

Easter Greetings to all!  It's been a great week here in Norway, not counting the weather, of course!  Alf arrived last Monday and we were so excited!  We met him at the airport, and just as luck would have it, my darn batteries died on the camera.  But I can tell you, we were all pretty glad to have him here!  We left the airport and right away started running errands to get ready to go up to Alf's mom's cottage up in the mountains outside of Bergen.  Tuesday we spent all day getting errands done and then came back to the cottage to get last minute packing done.

We left Bergen Wednesday afternoon, and headed up to the mountains.  It was about an hour-hour and half drive, and boy, what a difference.  All the way there we saw absolutely no snow, and I was starting to wonder if we spent a bunch of money on ski's to sit and stare at the grass, but low and behold, we drove out of the last tunnel and there was snow!  Alf said it was nothing compared to usual, since there was only about 4 feet of snow, but I was pretty happy.  That is, until I started falling through walking to the cottage, which, by the way, is called a hytta in Norwegian.  To get to the hytta, you have to walk about a 1000 feet down a hillside from the car, and I managed to fall through about every 5 ft.  Wednesday night I was woken up by the sound of rain pouring down on the hytta's roof, and I figured that pretty much ended our chances of skiing, but no, there was snow left in the morning!

So, Thursday morning, we broke out the skis.  What a trip!  I can only describe it as lots of falling, lots of laughing, and lots and lots of whining!  And that was just from me!  No, just kidding.  The girls had lots of fun.  When we got tired of skiing, we played on the sleds.  Same thing on Friday.  Because the snow was so wet, when we got tired or soaked, we went back into the hytta and played some great games of Uno or Ludo.  We discovered that Alf is a mean game player and likes games that involves knocking others off the board, and Elisabeth definitely takes after him!  The giggles that girl would give when she got to knock someone's piece out of the game! 

Saturday Bridget and William came up and apparently brought the sun along with them!  It turned out to be a gorgeous day!  We skiied, we sledded, we built a girl snow troll, and Alf and I tried to build a 'Butt-Bobsled Run.'  That didn't work so well so we gave up and used a plastic garbage bag to sled with.  A great day overall! 

Sunday was when we had planned to leave, and we woke up to a snowstorm in progress!  Alf went to bed the night before around 11pm and the skies were clear and the stars were shining.  By the time we left the cottage at 3pm, more than 2 ft of new snow had fallen.  Cars were stuck everywhere and people were getting stranded and snowed in.  We had to drive Alf's mom's car down the mountain from the parking area on top, and then walked back up through that much snow to get the girls, the rest of the stuff, Gerd, and Beate's car.  

Overall, we all had a great time up at the hytta.  I think the girls really liked skiing, but I think it's something we will have to do more often to get good practice.  Alf and I are planning to bring back the girls' skis', as well as mine, and play at home with them.  We have heard of people skiing in the Black Hills on some of the trails, and we think that would be fun to do as a family. 

Now we are hanging around the apartment for the day, since today is considered a holiday and nothing is open.  We did get out and show Alf the playground here at the apartment and walked around the little lake.  Tomorrow we will get some errands done and then Alf leaves on Wednesday again, and already the girls are begging him to stay longer.  10 days just isn't long enough!