Monday, February 28, 2011

Just a little catch-up

It is "vinter ferie" in Norway, several week chunks of time when Norwegian school shut down for a week (staggered around the country) so families can use up their generous vacation time and/or scramble for childcare for those not in barnehage. My own Adult Learning Center is also on Vinter Ferie, so I have the week off as well. I have been looking forward to it for a loooong time, as I feel like my norsk kurs organization has gone to the pits. All I've been able to do is keep up with the material from class, and not actually do any catch-up from my alternative learning material.

And now it's nearly noon on my first day off, and all I've managed to do is 1) sleep in (that was nice)  2) let Greta sleep in (also nice)   3) get Greta to barnehage by the 9:30am cut-off   4) catch-up on Oscar winners and Natalie Portman baby bump gossip   5) minimal Facebook time-suck, I swear   6) start our US Federal Taxes. Seriously! Proving to be a big pain, as I expected them to be.  7) a teeny bit of laundry.

I have big goals for vinter ferie which include 1) a few days off with Greta  2) haircuts for me and Greta  3) possibly traveling to Oslo with Erik to watch a World Championship ski race???  4) taxes   5) transforming the yarn room into a guest room for March guests  6) finishing two sweaters that just need to be blocked and seamed  7) photo albums updated for the last year   8) BLOG UPDATES, on, like, Norwegian class. And last but not least, 9) mastering the Norwegian language, one verb at a time.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sparker (aka "kick sleds")

There is a lovely and quaint method of winter transportation in Norway, and I'm not talking about skiing. These are not nearly as ubiquitous as skis, but everyday I see at least a few sparker, or kick sleds, being used to get around town on the not terribly well shoveled sidewalks. The sleds have a wooden seat and handle and two long metal runners. The runners have foot rests where you can stand and ride the sled once you get up enough speed, or balance on one side while you kick with your other foot. 

I usually see them being used by older women running errands, which makes sense: they provide great stability on icy sidewalks and a seat to accumulate packages. They are left outside of shops, sometimes locked, sometimes not. I've seen them left at bus stops, presumably waiting for a kid on their way back home. Occasionally we see notices in the paper for lost/stolen sparks. What is most entertaining is seeing a dozen of them parked outside a local school. (What would probably be even more entertaining is seeing what happens once school is out, and watching a couple dozen kids take off towards home on their sparks!)
Daily Commute

On Storgata in Lillehammer

Saturday errands

Trusting owner
They are not cheap, but then again, I'm in Norway, so that goes without saying.
The children's model is about $240 and the adult model about $265.

Erik and I are kicking ourselves (ha ha hah--totally did not intend that pun!) for not having bought two local sleds when they came up for sale on Norway's version of Craig's List/ebay, aka Luckily, we are able to borrow our landlord's spark for the winter, which has been great fun.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SAFH appeal is (sent) in

Erik spent most of Sunday writing my SAFH (nursing license organization) appeal in norsk, in hopes that no minor nor major detail will be lost in translation (a true Valentine gift). The letter itself is four pages long, not to mention the few dozen pages of supporting documents. It was sent in two days ago, just in time for the 3 week deadline.

Let's hope they actually take the time to read the damn thing this time.

No word on how soon we'll hear back from them, either. . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Super Duper Truse!

Super Duper Truse!
Not only is this blog an account of our life as ex-pats in Norway, it's also a blog of regular day to day developments in our family life. And lately we've been. . .  (drum roll please). . .


Hurray for Greta!!! After a few half-hearted attempts over the last, oh, 11 months, I think we actually may be doing this for real. In the fall, when I mentioned to her teacher at the barnehage that she was occasionally using the potty, she responded, "oh, we don't usually do that until they're potty trained at home." I thought that was a bit of a cop-out, since she's at the barnehage 5 days a week. . . are we just going to potty train on weekends???

But her teacher noticed when the kids went outside to play after lunch, Greta would eventually, ahem, fill her diaper and then ask for a change. A bit of a hassle for the teacher, seeing that Greta was wearing about 5 layers of clothing. So she suggested to Greta that she sit on the potty before going outside, and lo and behold, Greta produced! This went on for a full week, and in the meantime she began wearing "Big Girl Pants"at home in the afternoons and evenings. Last Saturday we made a family shopping trip to the local mall to buy Big Girl Pants, just like Elmo did with Baby David and his Pappa. (Ok, Elmo bought Big Kid Underpants, but you can see why we used a little literary license with that one). These are also known around our household as Super Duper Truse, also borrowed from a new favorite Norwegian potty book, which heavily utilizes pink, purple, stars and stickers to reinforce the Great Fun of using a potte. 

And one week into it, with a full week at the barnehage wearing Super Duper Truse, she's only had one accident on Day 1. Granted, she's in a diaper for outdoor play and naps but is generally dry after those, too. We've been told, quite proudly by our little one, that not only is she staying dry in her Truse, she's also using the big Doen (pronounced doo-ehn) at barnehage--the Big Toilet--just like the Big Kids. 

And honestly, there is nothing cuter than seeing that little bum running around in little pink polka dot underwear. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Moonlit ski

A few weeks ago (this has taken awhile to write) we had a beautiful full moon, coming out on a crisp night when there were no clouds in the sky to obstruct it. It was quite breathtaking, especially as it appeared over the horizon, an enormous glowing globe, and then disappeared again the next morning over the valley below around 8:30am, as I drove to my Norwegian class.

It was a full moon on a Tuesday night, which is the night that I  try to join a group of women for a workout. An interval workout, 4x 4 minutes, to be exact. In the fall we ran (ok, I did that once) or power walk with hiking poles, and once we get a decent amount of snow, we ski.

It is hard to be motivated to get out of the house at 7:30PM to meet the group in the dead of winter, when temps are hovering around zero, and it's been dark for 3 hours, and all one wants is to stay wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fireplace with a nice glass of wine, child sleeping, knitting in hand. But, that's kind of the point of the group: knowing that there are others meeting, and wondering where the heck you might be if you don't show up.

The night of the full moon was chilly, and my motivation to get out quite low, as usual. In addition to the above reasons, was the fact that this was my first workout on skis (which I was very nervous about--I mean, these are Norwegians I'm going to ski with! They are born on skis. I didn't strap on a pair of cross-country skis until I was 17 years old, not 17 months. Thanks to pregnancy, a nursing infant, and a few years of bad snow in New England, I can count the number of times I skied in the last 3+ years on two hands). Anyway. . . rather than driving to the start of the workout as I did all fall, I was going to ski there--on unlit tracks, downhill, on paths I had never skied on before, only to turn around and ski back up the hill with the group. Erik strapped a powerful headlight onto my head, waxed my skis (dear man), and sent me out the door.

The headlamp was bright, but at times hardly necessary (although quite valuable for the downhills), as the light from the moon was so bright reflecting off of the snow. I whisked down the groomed paths to the group, not exactly sure where I was supposed to meet them, until I passed a train of women coming up the hill (on their first of four intervals), and one shouted out to me, "Emily??"

I took the place of caboose, a good place for an American to be in a line of Norwegian skiers, and my goal was not to even do any intervals, per se, but to simply not be skiing alone by the end of the night. I managed to keep up with the last two women, and we skied most of the evening with our headlamps completely off, just skiing by the light of the moon. The snow sparkled, like diamonds had been thrown everywhere. There was something very magical about the combination of the adrenaline of the workout, the beauty of the woods in the moonlight, the shared experience with others, and the crisp cold night air that was absolutely thrilling.

We skied until we joined the lighted ski trails, and eventually met up with others from the group. Everyone was beaming from the night, and I was struck by what a uniquely Norwegian experience this was, and how this was why we moved here. Not simply the skiing experience, but the experience of a place--a community--a culture--that values fresh air, outdoor life, and nature to the extent that they make hundreds of kilometers of woods accessible to the community, for free. And we were not alone on the trails that night. We passed mothers skiing with their school-aged kids, 80 year-old men shuffling along with their little dogs, and of course the die-hard wannabe or has-been professionals. I lived in New England for 6 years and struggled to get more than one other woman to go out for a simple hike with me. And here the woods was teeming with them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Running hurdles, and jumping though hoops

My last post has generated a lot of hits--people from known locations (here's a shout out to the readers in Lebanon, NH, Wilmette, IL, and Minneapolis, MN: I know who you are!)--but who the heck is reading from Sweden and Tulsa, OK? Honestly. . . I'd love to hear from you.

Anyway, I'm hanging in there, gathering my artillery for my appeal. I have 3 weeks to assemble it. Well, now I'm down to 2 weeks. For those who are curious, my main argument is going to be drawing attention to the fact that they interpreted my degree to be a 2 year degree, and not a 4 year degree. I also did not include my master's degree curriculum as a part of my nursing application, as it was most pertinent to my midwife application. But I will not make that mistake again. They want paperwork? They're gonna get it. . .

From the sheer numbers I've seen, I think Norwegian nursing students do spent more time in actual clinicals than I did as an undergraduate nursing student, ahem, 15 years ago. But, is it really necessary to spend 8 weeks in an old-folks home, turning patients, assisting with bedpans, giving bedbaths, making beds? And, did my years spent providing 1:1 patient:nursing care to micro-preemies with arterial lines, blood pressure medicines, total parenteral nutrition, high-frequency ventilators, the tiniest urinary catheters you've ever seen. . . did this not give me a little bit of credibility in their eyes? Does that experience mean nothing to them? Or do I really need to jump through the hoops of wiping old people's butts for 8 weeks to prove my worth?

Erik is the optimist, and I am the pessimist. So, it's very hard for me to not worry about 2 months from now, 6 months, 2 years, 5 years. . . and just enjoy what's happening right now. I feel like there is a lot riding on my ability to work (and most importantly earn) as a professional here.  Mastering the language is a huge hurdle that I am willing to tackle, but getting more hurdles thrown in my way is so discouraging. 

And no, the irony of the fact that I was once a 100m hurdling superstar* is not lost on me

OMG: was that really 20 years ago?
*My words, not anyone elses. . .