Monday, December 6, 2010

Lesson learned: Norwegians are prompt

This past weekend, Lillehammer hosted the World Cup ski jumping competition. It was another freezing cold weekend, and spectators were sparse, but a few of Erik's colleagues decided they wanted to attend the competition as a group. Seeing that we live just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the venue we invited his colleagues over at noon for some Christmas cookies and coffee before the finals on Sunday afternoon.

We planned on making a few American-style Christmas cookies, and bought a Norwegian kranskake for our tabletop as well. Saturday afternoon we busied ourselves with decorating the tree and making cookie dough, and Sunday morning we jumped right into baking at 8am. By 11:30am, the final batch of gingerbread cookies came out of the oven, but we still had to finish the dishes, sweep and vacuum the floors and carpets, change our clothes, and eat some lunch (since I hadn't had breakfast, other than sampling the cookies coming out of the oven) before guests arrived at noon.

However. . . at 11:50, the first two guests arrived! As I sprinted to the bedroom to change out of my grimy yoga/baking clothes, the second family arrived! By 12:10, our house was filled with about 15-20 of Erik's colleagues and their children. Erik told me later he had gotten a text from a colleague saying he would in fact be coming to the party, but would be arriving a little late. . . at 12:30.

Having a houseful of Norwegian speakers was a disorienting experience, and a little overwhelming. After about an hour of the party, Erik asked how I was doing, and I whispered, "I think I'm ready for them all to leave now!" I tried to put my finger on why I felt so off-balance, and I think it's because this house is my home, it's my sanctuary, my English-sanctuary, and it's easy to forget that I'm in a foreign country here.  I was a bit unprepared for the body-slam of Norwegian that came busting through my front door that morning. People literally poured in the house, some of whom I've never met, who I didn't know if they were spouses or colleagues, whose names I didn't catch, whose names I didn't dare ask they repeat for a third or four time "En gang til?" (One more time?), children who whispered their names, a few who looked at me like, "duh-we've met!" Then to wander from one room to the next, trying to play hostess, yet unable to just effortlessly merge into an on-going conversation, I felt like I didn't belong in my own home, which then reminded me how this just isn't quite "home" yet. I was grateful that Greta was a little clingy, as she also seemed a bit overwhelmed by the sudden influx of children in her home, playing with her toys and climbing into her crib (umm, hello?).

The other struggle that I have in both small and large social gatherings is my desire to blend in, and not be the reason that everyone must switch over to English. For one, it's important for me to hear Norwegian as much as possible. But on the other hand, I feel like I must appear to be either very shy or stand-offish, or submissive, as I stand there and say nothing, because I'm only following 25% of the conversation.

And 25% is just an educated guess. No scientific tests have been run to test the theory that I understand 25% of Norwegian conversations.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Let the Christmas festivities begin!

Christmas Tree at Maihaugen
resplendent in hand-knit ornaments
Pappa and Greta by the tree,
ready to brave the brisk outdoors
Saturday seemed to be the official kick-off of the Christmas season in Lillehammer. Maihaugen, the open-air museum, hosted a Christmas market as well as several activities for children around the grounds. In the late afternoon/early evening was the opening of Christmas Street, the main pedestrian shopping district in downtown Lillehammer, complete with a nisse parade, led by the Nisse Far, a small brass band, and a variety of festive oversized dancing animal heads, not unlike Chinese dragons. It was a brisk day, around 10F/-12C, for most of the day, but we were well prepared. The events at Maihaugen were scheduled both in and out of doors, and we stopped inside for several snack breaks throughout the day.

Julenisse spotted outdoors!
Lunching on grøt (rice porridge)
Our day began around 11:30am, with the Maihaugen parking lot already filled to capacity. We visited a few of the historic cabins, decorated to celebrate a 1700s Christmas and a 1890s Christmas, and then spotted a small gathering of julenisser among the rocks, where baby goats had been leaping only a few months earlier.  We then headed indoors for a quick lunch of risengrynsgrøt (rice porridge with butter, cinnamon, and sugar) and waffles. That sat pretty well with the kiddo, and if it hadn’t, the next event on the agenda would have improved any sour mood: pepperkaker baking (gingerbread cookies). A long table was filled with more children in hand-knit sweaters than I have ever seen, and the women running the event kept an efficient schedule of doling out chunks of dough, rolling pins, cookie cutters, onto a cookie sheet, into the oven, quickly cool on the racks, and into a little wax paper bag. Afterwards I thought we could likely skip that event next year, as making gingerbread cookies at home will be a far less hurried and thus more enjoyable event. But, I must admit that having that bag of cookies on hand was rather nice to have as the day progressed.

Cutting out pepperkaker cookies
The day at Maihaugen concluded with visits to the animals in the barn and a fair amount of time in the 1930s village where a number of artists were selling their wares. I had high hopes for the Christmas market, as some friends spoke very highly of it, but I was a little disappointed. New England had its fair share of “craft fairs” that my craft-minded friends and I dubbed instead “crap fairs”, and this market was not without its share of that (although a smaller share, to be fair). Still, Norwegians love their Christmas elves and decorating with hearts this time of year, two holiday themes I have not, and will not likely, entirely embrace. So, after one last snack to warm up our insides, we headed downtown for the Christmas parade.

Mmmm, waiting for the cookies to cool
We timed our arrival to Storgate well. The nisse parade was about to start, and we only had to wait a few minutes before a parade of body-less decorative horse-heads and people dressed in elf-like costumes came spinning and twirling down the street. They were followed by a throng of people, many of whom were carrying lit torches--even rather young children! Mixed into this throng of people was a small brass band playing Christmas carols--"Joy to the World", if my memory serves me correct. We followed the parade down the street to a large Christmas tree which seemed to be already lit upon our arrival. At that point, the two adults voted that we were hungry (while the lone child was nearly asleep) and it was time to ditch the festivities and go get pizza. We believe the parade marched around downtown and lit two more Christmas trees, although I think it will be another year before we find out for certain. 

All in all, a fun-filled, exhausting day, and we all arrived home toasty warm.

Riding the tractor
Shopping in the 1930s village
Downtown Lillehammer in pre-parade excitement

The parade: a blur of people, lights,  and song

As if we needed an additional reminder that
we are living in a foreign country: small
children are trusted to carry flaming torches
in large crowds of people

The post-parade blur of people and lights.
Quite the festive scene!
Our own very tired (but warm!) nisse

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Honestly, this is quite ridiculous

This is not going to win me any winter-time visitors, but I feel I must report on the current goings on in Lillehammer. There is a cold snap in central and southern Norway that I am being reassured is highly abnormal for late November/early December. This morning it was -6F, and at 1pm this afternoon it is now a balmy +5F. Forecasts for Friday have temps around -25C, which according to my handy converter is about -13F.

Now before anyone thinks, "Well, Emily, you moved to Norway. . . what did you expect?" I will say I was expecting it to get cold, just not this soon! Minnesota and Vermont have their fair share of bitterly cold weather, usually deep into January, so I am well accustomed to cold cold weather. But I was led to believe that Lillehammer had winters not unlike Minnesota, not like, oh I don't know, somewhere really really cold.

Tika begged and pleaded with her big brown eyes to be let out last night around 10pm, but once the door opened and that cold air hit her, she backed up out of the door, turned around, and went straight to her bed.

I read in the paper today (really I did!) that Storbrittania (can you guess where that is?), okay, Great Britain is also experiencing record breaking cold temperatures, also around -15C. On the other hand, in northern Norway, where one might expect it to be colder, it is actually above freezing! To which I say in my best childlike-taunting voice, "Welllllll. . . . . I've got Sunshine, Yes I do! I've got Sunshine, How about You?"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving in Lillehammer

Happy Thanksgiving!
We managed to find a 5.9kg (about 12 lbs) turkey, I still had a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard that survived the trip over the Atlantic, and we never were a big fan of cranberries, so Norwegian tyttebær was a good substitute for our first Thanksgiving as ex-pats. It was one of the first Thanksgivings that we've hosted in the 8 years we've been married. Nearly every Thanksgiving has been spent with the Blumberg family in Thetford, Vermont, whom I affectionately refer to as our "surrogate Jewish parents", as they are parents (and in-laws) to our dear friends who live in Alaska, we feel like we fill a void around the table, and, well, they're Jewish. And we're not, so it's funny and affectionate. Really!

THIS year we invited our new friends, whom I will call R&M, and their boys K&S, who are at Greta's barnehage. S. is in Greta's class, and K. is 5 years old, and in the oldest kids class. R&M have been so welcoming to us, inviting me to M's 40th birthday party, to a workout group of women each week, and similar invitations for Erik as well. R. even jumped my car Wednesday night, when the battery died at the barnehage, and said to me in very clear English, "that's what friends are for." So, we felt they were worthy of the invitation, and they were enthusiastic guests. 

We tried a number of new recipes, including stuffing the bird with dried fruits and nuts (delicious), and a tasty sweet potato recipe with raisins and walnuts as well. The turkey was basted with an orange flavored liquid, so we had a fruit theme to our meal. I made two apple pies and a pumpkin cheesecake, of which Erik brought one pie and the cheesecake to work today, as it was his day for Friday "treats". The pumpkin-flavored dessert was a new flavor for the Norwegians, and since they ate 3/4 of it, I think it was a hit.

And now a quick Top 10 Thankful List, in no particular order.

I am thankful. . . 
1. That our house in Vermont sold before we left the state.
2. That our cars sold before we left the country.
3. That our dog is alive after flying in the belly of a plane during a hot August in Minnesota.
4. That we have a comfortable, warm, cozy home, if only for a year.
5. That my husband* is talented enough and intelligent enough and persevered long enough that this idea of moving to Norway actually became reality! 
6. For technology that allows me to see my friends and family, and talk to them for pennies, if not for free.
7. For my family, who instead of crying "you're moving where?" said "This will be such a great adventure for you. When can we visit?"
8. For Tina Fey, who makes me giggle and proud to be a outspoken, liberal-minded woman in my (gulp) mid 30s with brown hair and the need for corrective lenses.
9. For my rosy-cheeked little daughter, who delights and amazes me every day. 
10. That I'll be starting a level-2 language class in January**. So then, even if the class moves slowly, at least I can blame someone else for not challenging me, versus now, when at the end of the day I've learned absolutely nothing, I only have myself to blame. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

*I'm thankful for Erik for many other reasons, too, but I opted to make it a Top 10 list.
**It's true! Just got the news today!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanks a lot, Google Translate

A World Cup Ski Jumping competition is coming to Lillehammer on December 3-5, and they are looking for volunteers to help with the event. Erik suggested it might be a good opportunity to meet some locals, speak a little Norwegian, and have fun. So, I emailed the contact people, making it very clear that I speak only a little Norwegian, but would be happy to help out.

I received a few emails thanking me for my interest, including one who stated he had "responsibilities to the press, and maybe you would be helpful" (or so confirmed Google Translate, when I copied and pasted his email into the web translating service). The next email was a little more complex, and from a different organizer, so I pasted the entire email into Google Translate. Here is the response:
Send over the dates for voluntary work in connection with toilet 2 to 5.11 in 2010.We have 2 girls / damersom participate in our group, and there had been very very positive with a girl.Give me feedback when it's convenient for you to be with.Welcome, you should be!

My reaction upon reading the translation?

TOILETS? I don't want to work in the TOILETS!

How. . . wha. . . ???  I didn't get ANY hint of toilets when I attempted my own translation. How was this possible? How did I get signed up for TOILETS???

Ohhhhh. . . .
As I glanced back to the original email, I realized the volunteer organizer had abbreviated "World Cup" to "WC". And Google had translated "WC" to. . . . toilets.

What a relief. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Language learnin' . . . (now with a Tika update!)

My Grand Plan, upon arriving in Norway, was to immediately sign up for language classes and fully immerse myself in Norwegian. I have a Norwegian textbook and workbook that are used in American colleges, and I had dabbled in learning Norwegian in the months leading up to our move in August. But everyone kept telling me "oh, you'll learn it when you get there."  True. . . but it's not so easy.

Even Tika is learning Norsk.
Here I caught her studying "Se og Si", which is
pronounced "say oh see" but really means
 "See and say," which is so confusing I
still don't have it straight in my head after 4 months.
The week after we arrived in Norway, we went to the Volksenoplæringen (community learning center) to register for a norsk kurs. A first level class had started the week before, which I was hoping to join, but was told the course was full and I couldn't be squeezed in. The next class would start in. . . November. (Now, as I write this in November, you think "that's not so far away,"  but when I was told this in AUGUST, it felt very far away). This was not a part of my Grand Plan.

So, in the meantime, I continued my efforts at home in hopes that I might join the second level class come November. Just last week I received a phone call from the learning center informing me that the November class won't actually start until JANUARY. I politely explained how I hoped to join the second level class, and would this be possible. I was then tersely informed that "that class is full, and there is no room for you." Perhaps they didn't mean to be terse, and it was just the fact that they were being succinct with their English-as-a-second-language skills. But if felt really crappy.

I'm really not happy about what feels like my only option to join a first level class FIVE months after we arrive here. I've essentially covered a semester's worth of material at home on my own. I've also recently discovered a website with interactive assignments to be used with the Norwegian text they use at the learning center, and I've breezed through the first 12 chapters of that.

On the other hand, I'm also not convinced that attending classes at the learning center will be all that I hope it will be anyway. I've had at least 4 sources who have either first- or second-hand knowledge of the courses tell me the courses move extreeeeemely slowly, which can be very frustrating for the motivated student who wants to learn as quickly as possible. I've been told the slow pace is due primarily because the courses are mostly filled with asylum refugees who may have little formal education, no knowledge of a Germanic language, and are essentially being paid by the Norwegian government to attend classes and therefore have little incentive to learn quickly. This sounds pretty racist when I put it down in black and white (it also sounds rather black and white), and I am just reporting what I've been told, and haven't witnessed myself. But it does make me wonder if my expectations for these courses are way too high.

In the meantime we've come up with a few alternatives, with suggestions from other English speakers who have successfully learned the Norwegian language in Norway. I'll continue to hit the books at home; we'll actually try to watch more TV--Norwegian TV, and hopefully with subtitles; listen to the radio, even if it's just background noise; read newspapers and magazines; and finally, go to a 3rd grade elementary school class!

This last suggestion was made by at least two American friends now living in Norway, and was made possible by one of Erik's colleagues who has a 3rd grader at a local school. The school is an "open school", which quite honestly I don't know what that means, aside from the fact that parents are welcome to visit as much as they wish. The 3rd grade teacher, who I will call A., was very open to the idea of me coming. So last Friday, I attended my first day of Norwegian 3rd grade.

Those are some smart little Norwegian kids. Their Norwegian is so good! They speak so quickly! ARG! Maybe I need a remedial 1st grade class!

I've attended about 4 days (only 2-3 hours a day) of school thus far, and I can understand the jest of the topic of conversation, but not usually the details that are rather important. Such as "students. . . conjugated verb. . . book. . . . you can. . . . table.  .  . conjugated verb. . . lunchtime. . . . red car." It's very overwhelming, even though there are absolutely no expectations that I do anything. I've listened to a morning theme discussion about Hindu-people and how they pick a baby's name, the Stoneage people and what the first housepets were (goats and pigs, in case you're wondering), math class about volume, learning to write a cursive "R" and "r", and crafts where they sewed a button onto a felt pouch they had made and braided a handle. That was the first time I felt I could actually communicate with some of the kids.

Erik and I plan on visiting the learning center soon, and make a personal plea to let me join the second level class, letting them know that there is essentially a job awaiting me as soon as my Norwegian is "okay". We're hopeful this might melt their icy Nordic hearts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Snowy hike

A few pictures taken yesterday afternoon around 3:30pm, on a snowy hike with Tika. It was nearing sunset, so the trees were taking on a pinkish hue.

Monday, November 15, 2010

First "real" snow

We got our first substantial snowfall on Friday and Saturday, perhaps about 5 inches of light fluffy snow. Unfortunately, too light to make a snowman, but enough to play in and make our surroundings that much prettier.
Warm Girl Waits for Snow 
Det snø!

View from the living room

Happy Girl Plays in Snow

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What we do when Pappa's gone

Erik is in Trondheim for two days worth of meetings. Here is how Greta and I entertain ourselves while he's gone.

Greta watches ballerina videos on YouTube
(you can't see it, but she's wearing a ballerina skirt).

Yummy British beer and camembert for Mamma,
and Mac&Cheese for Greta
(it's called "Mississippi Belle"--how can it be bad?)

I repot new plants into boring white containers.
BTW: the upper left is not a "Christmas
cactus," but a "høst cactus" (fall cactus)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quick jaunt to England

Victoria Memorial
About 3 weeks ago, I took a quick “mini-break” trip to England for a friend’s wedding! It seemed so close, so easy, so doable back in May, when I was still in Vermont. That was before the 6am train ride from Lillehammer to Oslo, the flight to Amsterdam, the second flight to London, the hour long tube ride from Heathrow to Victoria Station, and then the next afternoon the two hour train ride to Sussex.

No, it wasn’t easy. But it was a lot of fun.

Zipped up to Buckingham Palace

Yes, they really wrote "easyHotel" 
on their walls.
British efficiency bathroom: hey, it's
clean, cheap. I can't complain.

My travel companions for most of this trip were my Dartmouth midwife colleague/buddy Auben and her new beau, Rob. Auben and I both work(ed) with the bride, our Social Worker Super Star, Catriona, back in New Hampshire. Catriona is English; her husband-to-be is a New Hampshire native. I arrived Wednesday evening in London, and seeing that I had 45 minutes until I had to meet Auben for dinner, I dumped off my gear in my orange-themed “Easy Hotel” basement-level-windows-cost-extra hotel room, and buzzed up to see Buckingham Palace. Kind of my “pinch me I’m in London” moment. I then proceeded to get thoroughly and completely lost on my way back to the hotel, when I opted to take a “more direct” route. Thankfully, Auben and her beau were waiting patiently in the spacious lobby of Easy Hotel (you think I’m kidding about their name?), and we enjoyed an unremarkable dinner at a local Indian restaurant before we parted ways to see the London theatre of our choice. My choice, based solely on the recommendation of my parents, was “War Horse”. That performance might be the highlight of the trip.  I opted to walk back from the New London Theatre to my hotel near Victoria Station, nearly a 30-40 minute walk, so I could take in the sights of Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the buildings along the Thames. My time in London was going to be limited to that night and a half-day on Thursday, so I wanted to make the most of it. My morning had started around 5am in Lillehammer, and I collapsed in bed around midnight London time, 1am in Lillehammer.

Art at the Tate. I know the feeling.
Thursday morning I met up with Auben and Rob, and we spent much of our late morning/early afternoon touring the Tate Modern. The first notable Language-Learning-Moment of the weekend was when I correctly determined that the woman sitting next to me at lunch was actually speaking Swedish, and not Norwegian. (I asked her, she verified). I was quite proud of myself. The fact that I’m putting it in this blog should drive that point home.

Anyway. . . Thursday afternoon we hopped on board a train bound for Bognor Regis, Sussex, (on the shores of the English Channel) where we took a short taxi ride to our lovely B&B in Felpham, and joined the out of town guests for a very tasty dinner at a seaside restaurant. We were quite an international crowd: there were the expected American and British contingencies, and myself unofficially from Norway, but also guests from Spain, Portugal, France and Italy.
Charming Sussex church

Friday was a bright, sunny day, although perhaps around 50 degrees F. Around 12:45, church bells began ringing through the village, beckoning us to make haste, and get ye to the church! My dear friend Catriona is a rather private person, so I won’t say much more than the bride looked amazing and the ceremony was a perfectly English experience. (Some Proper British women even wore Proper Hats!) We followed the wedding party to the seashore, where a group photo was taken of the 80+ guests with the English Channel behind us. 

On Saturday, I decided to take full advantage of my time in southern England, and hopped on a bus to Chichester, about 20 minutes inland. It had a bustling shopping district, with clothes stores far more tempting than what I’ve found in Norway. There’s also a large cathedral with lovely gardens surrounding it which were still appealing, even in late October.

Second Language-Learning-Moment of the Weekend:  Saturday evening the remaining crowd met up at a local pub for dinner. I had called home to wish Greta goodnight, and she asked what I was going to do. I told her, “I’m going to get something to eat. I’m going to a pub.” As any new-language learner might ask upon hearing an unfamiliar word, my two-year-old asked me: “What’s ‘pub’ in English, mamma?” Erik didn't miss a beat and responded, "You can't get more English than 'pub'!"
Charming bride and groom
Charmed wedding guests

And it is true. It was a great way to wrap up a great English weekend. Obviously, spending a weekend with good friends was a huge treat. It was so nice to reconnect and be with people with whom you share a past. It was such a treat to be able to travel and read menus, understand signs, feel confident about which direction I’m going on the Tube. . . . or not, as the case might be.  I found myself talking more to people just because I could, because I knew they could understand me. But it was a strange experience to hand my passport to the agents in Amsterdam and tell them, “I live in Norway.” And just 16 hours after I left Felpham, Sussex, England I was in my bed in Lillehammer. Just 16 hours.

Chichester on a busy Saturday at the shoppes

Chichester Cathedral

Auben on a chilly but sunny Saturday

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Third and final year as a Pumpkin!
We weren't sure what to expect for Halloween this year in Norway. Some of the stores were selling pumpkin decorations and spooky costumes, but none of the bagged up candy that you find in the US. I didn't find actual real pumpkins until the day before Halloween, and then bought a half rotten one for about $15, although I'm not even sure why. 

Greta was invited to a Halloween party on Saturday the 30th by one of the boys at the barnehage. Or, let me re-word that. A boy at the barnehage was hosting a Halloween party, and all of the children were invited. We dug out Greta's costume from the last two years, and agreed that she could squeeze into it for one last year. She was pretty darn excited about it, as you can see in the picture. 

The party itself was an interesting experience. We arrived expecting a house full of kids and their parents, but instead found four 5- year old boys and one 5-year old girl, and the boy's parents. None of the 2-, 3-, or 4-year old class. And no other parents. So, we hung around the house for a few hours talking with the parents, while Greta mostly watched the boys run around changing costumes every few minutes.

Social situations like these are challenging. It's important for me to hear as much Norwegian as possible, and interactions like a small party or conversations are few and far between, so I don't usually ask that people speak English for my benefit. But I end up feeling very anti-social and submissive (not to mention confused), as I rely on Erik to hold up "our" end of the conversation and I just smile, furrow my eyebrows, and nod. 

But back to Halloween. We live 2.5km up a steep steep hill, probably 3km from the nearest neighborhood, so we had absolutely no expectation that we would see any trick or treaters. I drove through town around 6pm and saw three small groups of trick or treaters--maybe 8 kids total, but no obvious signs which houses were prepared to hand out treats. 

We may need to plan an annual trip back to the US over Halloween, so Greta can get a good healthy dose of Halloween American-style. However, that coincides with Election Day, and I must admit that I did not miss the election media coverage and the angst that usually accompanies it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tour of our (rented) house

Living room #1 and #2
And now for a tour of our home. 

I want you to make note of a few things before we get started here. 

  1. We are renting this home for one year. We have not bought it. We could not afford to buy it. We can barely afford to rent it!
  2. This is not a typical "rental", nor, in my limited experience, is it a typical Norwegian home. 
  3. Whatever home we buy will in no way be able to match this home in space, view, bedrooms, storage, etc.

aka "playroom" or "TV room"
As we were making our preparations to move to Norway, finding suitable housing was a huge challenge. Erik’s employer doesn’t typically hire ex-pats, so they were not accustomed to finding housing for their new employees. We were on our own.

We didn’t feel like our housing needs were that unreasonable: minimum 2 bedrooms, storage for outdoor gear, and dog-friendly. As it turns out, Lillehammer has a very tight rental market, in part due to the college in town and students filling every available rental. Or what is left is college-student grade rentals. In other words: bleech.
View from playroom into living room

In May we had verbally committed to renting a 2 bedroom home across the river/lake in Vingnes that we had found on the internet. It was very clean, modern, efficient, dog friendly. . . with NO storage. Not even a covered parking spot to store bikes. As the contents of our home were loaded into a 40ft. shipping container, we became more and more nervous about where our belongings would actually go once they arrived in Norway.

Fireplace room, where pioneer action happens
The day after our life’s possessions disappeared in the shipping container we saw THIS house on the internet. We knew we had to rent it. Erik immediately called the owner, and within 10 minutes it was “ours”. 

We feel soooo fortunate for so many reasons.
  1.        FIVE bedrooms. We use two. But have room for guests!
  2.          Owners are lending us their spare car! We didn’t have to buy a car when we arrived!
  3.          Our dog has space to run and sniff and explore and lounge and survey.
  4.          So much storage—closets galore, two barns and a garage, a basement.
  5.         Tremendous views of the valley and Lillehammer.
  6.          Darling home, cozy, warm, inviting. Feels homey. Our stuff blends in perfectly.
  7.      Can walk/run/bike to Greta’s barnehage on maintained dirt roads in under 10 minutes. And we randomly got placed at this barnehage before we knew where we were living—and it’s the closest one. Amazing luck.
  8.         Property backs up against the lighted ski trails, which connect to the Olympic Birkebeiner ski trails.
  9.     The owners had apparently had inquiries from dozens and dozens of people wanting to rent it, and he turned them away (college students, athletes). But we were a family, with a kid going to his kids’ school, and he knew people who worked with Erik, and. . .  here we are!

Dining room (with landlord's hutch  

Hallway of doors and mirrors
(and closets)

View of kitchen from dining room

Kitchen, with enormous fridge in the corner

Greta's cozy room

Lovely bathroom (with
heated floors)

Our bedroom, with door to back deck

Heavenly walk-in closet
and view into hallway

Stairs to upstairs, door to right into
front hall, door to left into kitchen
Front hall (also with heated floors) and too many
hooks for people like us who have too many coats

Front hall, view into laundry room