It's been over a week...sorry about that. It was a pretty rough week. I ended up with my usual coughing and asthma, but luckily, I don't think I have pneumonia this year, and I think I will live. The girls are fine...much better than I would hope when I am sick on the bed, but I am glad they are healthy and having fun.
School was hard this week. I am not a good student when I don't feel good, let alone having to translate everything. I missed my big exam, and I don't know if I will get to take it over again or not. I am guess I am moving onto the next book. But I will continue to study the grammar from the old book. I still have trouble with listening to the spoken word...that really trips me out. I have to admit, I am hearing more and more words in conversations, and I guess I can only hope to get better, right? I am on winter break for the rest of the week, as well as the girls. We are hoping to get to do lots of stuff, like getting my visa permit taken care of, possibly going sledding (if the snow holds) possibly the aquarium, the big library downtown, hiking...anything than sitting in this apartment everyday! Oh, and of course, reading and math for Elisabeth! The girls will be going to the new building of their barnehage when we go back next Monday, and that should be fun and interesting. I don't think they really have a clue yet, but it was an exciting atmosphere when I picked them up on Friday.
We finally got out today to 'shake the stink off' us after being bottled up in the apartment all weekend. Just thought I would include some pictures of today. I took some great video, but I still haven't figured out how to incorporate them into the website...these were taken were taken at the little playground here at the apartment complex. And both girls figured out the climbing wall, eventually!!
Hurrah, it's FastelavnsSä¡§ tomorrow, and my girls have prepared us well! What is Fastelavns? Well, since my last entry, I have found out the story behind it...you can read a great description here (http://www.geocities.com/sacmadison/newsletter/SAC_feb062.pdf) if you would like a more in depth explanation, but it basically is Fat Tuesday...but celebrated on Sunday. Children all over Scandanavia dressed up Friday in costumes and had a Karnivel. They got to beat a wooden barrel (I think it was probably more like paper mache) with a black cat on it, that was full of candy. They then made Fastelavnsris, which is used to 'whip' parents, as I have read, to get up early on FastelavnsSunday and give the children candy and other goodies. There was also Fastelavnsboller eaten, which are baked pastries filled with cream. Unfortunately, I didn't get to taste any, but if you go to the link up above, you will see a picture of one, and really, do I look like I need to consume one of those??????
Elisabeth and Karoline had a great time on Friday at the Karnivel in the barnehage. Elisabeth chose to dress as a Spanish princess with the dress that Bridget and Trond sent a couple years back from Spain. Karoline relied on her favorite ballerina outfit given to her by the wonderful Haley. There was lots of princess' and Supermans and Batmans at the barnehage. Both girls were pretty happy with the candy and getting to beat the 'cat' hanging from the ceiling! We have our Fastelavnsris in a vase on the table here in the living room, and they keep trying to sneak off the feathers for playing with their Barbies and ponies...and I am not letting them!
It's going to be a bit of a hectic week here...I have my test in school over the whole book on Wednesday, and then after Friday, we all have a week off of school for Vinterferie (Winterbreak.) I am not sure what we are going to do for the week that we are off. Hopefully lots of walks and cleaning the apartment and getting ready for Alf to come. The girl's barnehage will move to a new building over winter break, and it will be closer to the apartment. Perhaps we will try to walk over there and see how it looks and how long it will take us. Maybe we can convince Bridget to have us over for a norwegian baking lesson...???
Here are pics from the barnehage on Friday. I also took a couple pictures here in the apartment of me and the girls and the Fastelavnsris. I keep getting feedback from many of you that there are no pictures of me...what do you want me to do, give the camera to Elisabeth?? Do any of you remember when she was 2 and made the video camera go 'fishy, fishy' in the swimming pool??? Anyways, we set the timer and it's the best I can do...Enjoy!
Yes, it's been a few days since I actually sat down and updated...sorry about that. It's been a bit crazy here. Elisabeth has been fighting a cold, and, I love my daughter more than there are words in the universe to describe, but that girl is a Drama Queen...and I say that with LOVE! She has been fighting a cough and the sniffles, but with Elisabeth, it's more like she's fighting pneumonia, hernia, bronchitis, and malaria all at the same time. Unfortunately, she's been up at night and just not herself. Karoline has been fine, just a bit grouchy...I am assuming it's because she's now more sophisticated being 4 years old instead of 3...you know how it is.
Last Sunday we met Bridget and William and went to an open gym. Lots of fun, except Elisabeth wasn't feeling so great. They had a huge jumping pit, bicycles, indoor field hockey, roller blades, big foam blocks...way too much to describe. I took some pictures so take a look for yourself.
Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and, sorry to Alf, but I didn't get pictures of them...I will try to today. We started the morning off with them opening their cards from Pappa that he sent...unfortunately, he put Karoline's Tinkerbell card in Elisabeth's envelope...HUGE mistake...lots of crying...finally got that figured out and we were off for the day. We finished the day at Bridget and Trond's house for a Superb pork chop dinner...that Boy can COOK!! And Bridget made a GREAT salad! After dinner, the piece de resistance was Bridget's homemade chocolate chip cookies...mmmmmm....
Otherwise, life is going along. The girls and I are going to sit down and count out how many days until Alf comes for Easter. Everyday Karoline asks if Easter is two days away yet...she also asks if summer is two days away too...don't know which is more important...possibly Alf??? We are SO looking forward to him coming. School is going ok for me. If you remember my whining, I got put in a class that actually started probably in August or September, so they were already on Chapter 13 when I went for the first time. Unbelievably, next Wednesday, I have to take an exam over the WHOLE book...so between now and then, I am cramming to read, practice and learn most of the book on my own. I whined to Alf that I might as well be sitting in Rapid doing this, but then he sweetly and patiently reminded me that there is NO Norwegian chocolate in Rapid...and so I will continue studying...here in Norway...
*Funny American Story:* They are celebrating Fastelavens here in Norway, which from what I can tell, is something to do with Lent. The calendar this week for the barnehage said on Wednesday, they would be making Fastelavensris...which, I figured, using my vast Norwegian language skills, must be some kind of compound word, and since I saw 'ris' on the end of it, and, we eat risengrì¯³pan>, or porridge,they must be making something to eat. So I asked the teachers on Tuesday if I needed to make a lunch for the girls. They got a funny look on their face, and asked why...so I pointed out on the calendar that they were making ris...mind you, I was very proud of myself that I figured it out by myself without having to use my dictionary. Well, all I can is, there is a particular look that they save, I think, just for dumb American questions. Turns out, Fastelavensris is a branch that is decorated with feathers and used to 'spank' children with...some old Norwegian tradition...I think they just like using up feathers, because they certainly are all over this apartment...apparently 'ris' is also a verb meaning 'to spank.' Yes, the teachers certainly got a giggle over that one. I will try to get a picture of one of the 'ris' to show you all. I am a bit disappointed that they didn't come home so I spank some children!!
Hope to hear from more of you if anyone out there is reading this...I might even get a bit crazy and wild and see if I can figure out how to add video to this website...Whoo-Hoo, I am the next Bill Gates...but with looks...!!!
From the open gym on Sunday. Bridget was way more cool than me...you go Girl!! (I sat and held Elisabeth alot or studied...)
Norway, as told by: Elisabeth
For dinner, we ate panakaker (pancakes.) I like panakaker. I ate 6 of them tonight, and I wanted more, but I couldn't because I might throw up. First, I put butter on them, and then, I put sugar on it, and then I roll it up so it looks like a circle so that when you look in it, where it ate, it looks round and round...The next way I like them is Mom gives me a panakaker, and I put butter on, and then I ask for help to put syrup on it, and then...I eat it! My favorite syrup is berry and blueberry syrup. Mommy and Pappa make good panakaker, and both are verrry good. Next time I want to ask Pappa to buy whip cream, and then I will put it in the panakaker, and roll it up. That tastes Delicious!
I ate pancakes for dinner. They were good. I had four pancakes for dinner *giggle, giggle*(not really, she ate more like 6!!) I LOVE pancakes! (Karoline prefers butter and sugar on her pancakes, but really, I think she prefers a little pancakes with her sugar!!)
Here is more pictures and stories from our everyday life. The girls were envious of one of their barnehage friends who brought panakaker for lunch one day. So, at their insistence, we had them for dinner tonight. I should note, that my little pigges ate the entire batch that I made...they REALLY like panakaker. I should also say that Norwegian pancakes are different from what we are used to in America. They are much thinner, and typically are served with butter and sugar, and then the eater rolls them up and eats them with fingers. Of course, I doubt the average Norwegian puts the amount of butter and sugar on that my girls like, but it is pretty good eating! As noted, the Norwegian word is panakake, and they are served with smì¯³pan> (butter) and sukker (sugar.) Elisabeth was being very diplomatic, but I will be honest and tell you all the truth: Alf makes the BEST panakaker!! He makes them from scratch, and I, sadly, bought them in a mix...but obviously, they are still edible!!
Howdy folks! I am just going to send a quick hello since it's getting late and I need my beauty sleep...or just sleep would be good! Another bright, beautiful day here Bergen! The sun was shining, people were out walking, and it was cold! Not as bad as Michigan or South Dakota, but cold enough!
The girls helped to celebrate the barnehage's (daycare) 35th birthday today, and I will put the pictures and thier commentary in hopefully tomorrow. In the meantime, I am getting feedback, which I REALLY do appreciate...keep it coming!!...telling me to put more "everyday life" pictures in. So, here you go: here is the girls outside our apartment building with Ulrikken mountain in the back. I think it's Ulrikken...I am still learning the placement of the 7 mountains surrounding Bergen...but, you get the idea!!
The way I see it: Norway and driving:
Driving in Norway is generally like that in the United States: the steering wheel is on the left hand side, and, for the most part, cars drive on the right side of the road; red lights mean stop, green means go; dotted lines down the middle show where your lane is, and cars still require gas. That, is about where the likeness ends. Couple of major differences, as I see them:
Yielding: major roads in Norway are Non-Yield roads, meaning, when driving along, you have the right away. However, there aren't that many main roads in Norway...most of them are regular single lane roads, and those are WAY different than the US...why??? Because you must YIELD to the person coming out of a road to your right. As you are driving along, a car approaches the road you are traveling...no intersection, no stop lights, but YOU must slam on the brakes because you are on Yield Road, and therefore, they have the right away. Most Norwegians will slow down and make sure you stop...but many just hit the gas and assume you will remember that THEY have the right away. How does one know if they are on a Yield or Non-Yield road??? This is priceless...at each major intersection of roads, there will be a yellow triangle sign alerting a driver that they are on a Non-Yield road...but ONLY at intersections. The driver BETTER be paying attention because they don't put them up at every turn or corner, but only at major intersections. So, be prepared when a car driving off a road to your right suddenly darts out in front of you, because quite likely, they are in the right, and YOU will get the ticket.
Horns: a system of communication to be used at will when another driver is not doing what you want them to do, ie. too fast, too slow, not paying attention, looking out the window, getting in their way...the horn is your friend, introduce it to others...
Bus and Taxi Right of Way: in a large city, such as Bergen, public transportation is plentiful and needed. The Norwegian government encourages uses the bus, and applies heavy taxes to car owners to discourage driving a car...but that's another story...anyways, on the roads, there are many buses and taxis. In many places, they have their own lanes and tunnels, which are NOT for regular cars to use. DO NOT USE THESE ROADS...the lady at the library told me the fine for using the bus road outside the library was a fine of almost 3000kr!! There are bus pull-offs along every road, and when the bus pulls over to them, cars are allowed to pass them. However, when the bus indicates they are coming back into traffic, cars MUST yield. Now, this is generally the rule for most of the time...HOWEVER, this yielding to buses and taxis get thrown out the window in heavy traffic...because, as everyone knows, EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF IN HEAVY TRAFFIC CONDITIONS!! As I have observed, edging out a bus or taxi is all fair game when it's bumper to bumper, especially in the morning when people are rushing to get to work.
Crosswalks: YOU MUST STOP!! Only foreigners will stop at the curb to make sure traffic is going to stop...by hesitating at the curb, Norwegian drivers assume you don't plan to go and will speed up. I know this sounds dangerous, but you MUST walk out into traffic to get across. If they sense fear, they will drive faster!! Actually, I think that's true in the US in larger cities like Detroit and Chicago too...
And that's the way I see it...
Boring day...late for school because I missed the bus because we were all tired and nobody wanted to get up...tomorrow is the barnehage's 35 birthday party and they are having coffee and cake for parents and children...must remember to bring the camera so you all can get a glimpse of where the girls spend their day...
The view from the balcony...on a sunny day.
On Saturday we had a wonderful birthday party for Miss Karoline. Already 4 years old! Boy is time flying! We had Bridget and Trond, William and Lukas over for a fine meal chosen completely by Karoline: Kraft macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, chocolate candy, chocolate cake, and ice cream! I had to get a little grief here: I overcooked the macaroni noodles and it tasted like mush. Bridget was curious as to what language the directions were in...smart aleck! (there were in English!) Karoline had a great time, with a lot of great presents. The best thing of all was Alf was on the webcam for the birthday cake, including singing and opening presents...he got to see it all! It was a bit like Charlie's Angels...we were sitting there talking and all of a sudden a voice came from nowhere to join into the conversation...
On Sunday we had Farmor over for dinner, and that was nice too. She had been sick all week with a bad cold and so she wasn't able to make it Saturday. But it was nice that she came Sunday, and we showed her the webcam and she thought it was pretty cool to eat the last of the cake and talk with Alf. On Monday, Karoline got to celebrate her birthday at the barnehage. Talk about dragging out the day! She got a pink crown covered in glitter, and we took frozen pizzas for them to cook and eat for lunch, and for a special surprise, Alf had sent us chocolate chip muffins with Scooby Doo muffin papers, and we took those in to share with the kids for her birthday. So, pretty much a whole weekend devoted to celebrating Karoline turning the FOUR!!
Other than birthday celebrating, it's back to the grind for everyone this week. I am back at school, studying like a mad woman, and the girls are going to barnehage at 7:50am every morning. They seem to be enjoying it a bit more now...it seems they have both made friends. They must really like it, because it's getting to be a habit of me having to wait 20 minutes for them to stop playing and say good-bye to friends when I come pick them up at the end of the day. But I am glad they are enjoying it. Elisabeth told me today that she isn't sure she wants to go back home at the end of summer...maybe Pappa and Roxy could come here and then she could see all the seasons in Norway??
The weather was beautiful today: lots of sun but cold and clear! I planned to go for a walk when I got home from school today, but unfortunately, the sidewalks were icy, and I didn't really want to fall and have to end up at the hospital for my lack of grace. But it was so pretty out...almost nice enough to live here!
Well, I should get back to studying...I have been thinking...maybe I should make a point to discuss the aspects of living in Norway so that folks can get an idea of life here, like driving, or shopping...will have to figure out something...suggestions are welcome...
Karoline blowing out her candle, and dancing with excitement over her gifts!