Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Just a daily hike

Mesna River
Tika and I waited until after the morning rain shower passed to go on our hike for the day. We headed out on a trail near our house that took us down one side of the Mesna River, across a bridge, and back up the other side. It was rather rocky, a little slick from the morning rain, but quite pretty. 

The river flows from the lake near our house, down the hillside, through Lillehammer, and into Lake Mjøsa. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sommersdag at Maihaugen

Up close and personal with a prize winning calf.
Sunday was the Sommersdag celebration for children at Maihaugen (the open air museum), and since we have an annual pass, we decided to partake of the festivities.

A Summers Day it was not, despite the calendar reading August 29. I am told, and I'd like to believe, that this is abnormally cool weather for Lillehammer at this time of year; it was about 50 degrees and misting. As you can see, we were dressed in fleece, rain jackets, hats, and plastic covers for the stroller.

The activities were definitely geared for older children (zip line across the pond, anyone? care to build a wood toolbox?), but Greta thoroughly enjoyed a wagon ride behind a horse, painted a lovely picture in the art barn, got a pink balloon, and met some calves. We even ran into a few families that we knew, 3 to be exact, which makes us feel like we actually live here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birkebeiner Rittet (Birke Bike Race)

Here is a test of our video system, the Flip Camera. How well, and large, and how slowly will this load to our blog?

The Birkebeiner Rittet, a 93km mountain bike race, finished just a few kilometers down the hill from our house this weekend. Friday was the first day of racing, for those who didn't get in to the "real" race on Saturday. Friday was a beautiful, cool, sunny day. Saturday was a rainy, freezing, foggy, miserable day. By the time the racers reached the end of our driveway, they were covered in mud, cold, wet, and had a 3km windy descent to the finish. I heard some racers were so cold they couldn't even hold their water bottles once they finished. 

For those not in the know, the Birkebeiner originally started out as a ski race, commemorating a trip made by Norwegian loyalists who skied through the mountains to save the heir to the Norwegian throne, Håkon Håkonsson, in 1206. There are now three races: the ski race (54km), the mountain bike race (94 km), and a cross-country running race (21km). All participants in the bike and ski race are required to carry a 3.5kg pack on their back, symbolizing the weight of the one-year old child. To which I say: I gave birth to an exactly 4.0kg child--8lbs 13 oz--so that it is one malnourished one-year old king.

The Birkebeinerrittet is the largest mountain bike race in the world. On Friday, I walked to Greta's barnehage along the race course, and during the 15 minute walk over 300 cyclists rode past. There were around 15,000 participants in the bike race over the two days, so there was a nearly constant squeal of squeaking bike brakes all of Saturday as the racers began their final descent past our driveway. We had to abort a trip into Lillehammer around 9:30am, as we couldn't get through the road at the bottom of the hill due to a children's race, and when we turned around to go back home, we were blocked by the first stream of racers. We left our car parked on the roadside, and hiked our way back up the hill. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Job and Greta update

Just a regular day today. Brought Great to the barnehage in the morning, I took Tika for a nice run on the trails, and attempted to study a little Norwegian.

But the other day I stumbled across a job posting for a jordmor (midwife) at the local Lillehammer hospital. I've been intending to call the head midwife there anyway to introduce myself, but this provided the incentive to do so a little earlier than I had planned.

I quite nervously dialed the number, was connected with someone other than I had wanted to talk to, and managed to get the appropriate number. I then spoke with Ragnhild, who sounds very friendly, and after saying "Jeg heter Emily Stange. Jeg er ei amerikansk jordmor. Kann vi snakke på Engelsk?" we switched to English, and chatted for a few minutes. I explained why were in Norway, that I was applying for authorization to work as a midwife, we intended to be here for quite a while, I plan on taking Norwegian classes, and briefly described my midwifery position back in the US.

She explained that the job is a 75% position, on the labor and maternity (postpartum) floor, working every 3rd weekend, and all shifts (morning, afternoon, and night). She stated they have a German midwife as well, but I failed to find out what language she communicates in. She encouraged me to submit a "letter of application" along with explanation of how long my applications might take to be processed.

All in all, it was rather positive. I spent the afternoon brushing up my CV and composing my letter!

I picked up Greta from the barnehage in the afternoon, and found her being held by Kristopher, with her binky in her mouth, looking quite sad. Turns out she had taken a little spill about 10 minutes earlier, hitting her mouth on something rather hard--rock? ground? Her inner lower lip had a cut on it, but her face wasn't at all cut up.

It wasn't until half way through dinner that I looked really closely at her upper teeth. Her left front tooth was no longer even with the right front tooth--it had definitely been pushed up into her gum, and was even shorter than the incisor to the left of it. There was some bleeding around her front teeth, but none of them seemed at all loose. I know dentists and doctors won't really do anything about loose or knocked out teeth in toddlers, so there's really nothing we can do. A quick email to my experienced mommy-posse (Dr. Sara, Katie and Katie) affirmed my suspicions: can't do anything. 

Sunday Hike

Sundays are popular days for Norwegians to gå på tur,  or go for a tour or hike, and at this time of year also go berry picking. We’ve happily joined in this tradition the last few weekends, and headed up a bratt (steep) trail to a hilltop with great views of the valley. And also great berry picking—blueberries and raspberries. We were joined at the top by at least 11 others, including a father with two young kids.

View of Lake Mjøsa and Lillehammer

It also was the first weekend of non-leash law for Tika, and she was quite pleased to be able to check out the area at her own pace.  Greta also opted to hike down a short portion of the hill on her own two feet. It was slow-going, but we were very proud of her eagerness to walk on the uneven, rocky surface. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week Two: the Barnehage

Week Two was an effort of easing into normalcy. On Tuesday both Erik and I brought Greta to her new barnehage (kindergarten or daycare). It is known as the Birkebeineren Friluftsbarnehage, which focuses on outdoor activity and play in rather unstructured and natural spaces. The barnehage is a 5-minute drive along the hilltop to one of the buildings used at the cross-country ski venue (the Birkebeiner Ski Stadium) in the 1994 Olympics. It is incredibly convenient to our current location, and we were placed here really just by chance.

Our first impressions were great. Some of you might remember my laments of the quality of child care providers in the US as we searched for daycare when Greta was 13 months old. The teachers here are all have degrees in child development, and seem genuinely invested in their work. The teachers were very welcoming—both to Greta as a new student, but also to us as Americans totally new to the Friluftsbarnehage method. Greta is in a room of 7 children ages 1 to under 3 years (she is the eldest), and there are 2 teachers and often a student teacher as well. We provider her lunch, but every afternoon the teacher prepare a 2pm snack, often including the children in the preparation and baking.

We’ve been excited to witness Greta’s language development now that she is surrounded by Norwegian speaking teachers and children. One of her teachers, Kristopher, stated that she has no trouble understanding when they speak to her in Norwegian, but if there is any doubt, they also address her in English. There is one other 2 year old in her class who has a British father and Norwegian mother, and apparently they are hearing more of his English now that Greta is around!

The other thing that we have been most curious about is how Greta would nap at the barnehage. It is customary for Norwegian babies to nap outside in their prams, even in the winter! They are bundled up under layers of wool, snowsuits, down and more blankets, and apparently sleep quite soundly. Greta is a prize-winning napper, still sleeping for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, but in a crib in a dark room. This would be a change!

One day two, when I stayed with Greta in the playyard for the early afternoon, I talked with Greta about how the little kids were taking their naps in their strollers, and how she would do that the next day. She was very excited about this. So excited, in fact that the next day when Kristopher put her in the borrowed pram, she announced, “I’m ready” and rode around for an hour, never sleeping. We would have been shocked if she had, quite frankly. But by Friday, she reportedly slept for 45 minutes! 

New rainsuit, which she really
does like!
After Greta’s second day it became obvious that her head-to-toe American rainsuit was not going to be adequate in the barnehage play yard. That evening we made a trip down to the recommended children’s store and bought a 599Kr rain overalls and matching jacket, with room to grow.

At bedtime after her second day, she talked about what would happen the next day: “I get to go to my barnehage tomorrow! And play with new toys, and the play food, and the dress-up clothes! And my teachers—what’s their names? And I get to sleep in the stroller! And wear my new rainsuit and play in the water in the boat. . . “ and on it went.

I think we’re off to a great start.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Day to Day Challenges: part "en"

What this doesn't tell you is that a "normal
bomull" wash cycle takes 2 hrs and 20
One of the challenging parts of this move, in relation to non-mastery of the Norwegian language, is my resulting dependance on Erik for very mundane, everyday activities. Reading the mail, signing permission slips for the barnehage (daycare), setting up the cell phone service, fixing the iPod,  having ownership of the only activated bank card in the family (mine is coming, I hope), and reading the owners manual to the Norwegian  washer.


So imagine my utter delight when (after our washing machine broke this morning--not so delightful) Erik discovered that underneath the Norwegian washing icons were ENGLISH icons! I was one happy husmor (housewife). 

It still doesn't explain why our washing machine broke, or why it takes so utterly long to do a normal cold wash. Today we are grateful for landlords, and that the diapers were washed before the machine broke, and for English words on our appliances.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Week One: Settling right in

Believe it or not, the view from our deck. 

Our first morning in Lillehammer

Sitting on moss, "fishing"
We arrived in Lillehammer around 5pm, just Erik, Greta and me. After a quick dinner, Greta and I were in bed by 8pm, and slept soundly through the night.

The next two nights weren't quite so easy for either of us. Both Greta and I woke around midnight, and were up for quite a while. This persisted for a few days for me, but after the third night in Norway, Greta's sleep schedule seemed to normalize.

We spent our first full day in Lillehammer, a Sunday, enjoying the perfectly beautiful weather. We walked just a quarter mile up the road to the trails that Erik and I had hiked on 3 years ago. We found some blueberries, and enjoyed a little time by the lake. We missed the energy of Tika around the house, but she would be joining us soon.
Picking blueberries with Pappa