Thursday, October 27, 2011

Countdown. . .

Oct 27
 Back in July, when we moved into our "transitional apartment" in Hafjell--a ski resort about 15 minutes north of Lillehammer--we told the landlord we'd move out on October 24th. 

October 24th has come and gone. Now we're aiming for November 24th. (We actually made that decision waaay back in August). 

But now. . . gulp. . . we have a month to go. And so much to do. 

Getting there. . . right???
The addition is nearly entirely closed in, and after this weekend, the roof should be finished. We can then begin insulating the addition, taking down the wall between Old and New on the first floor, and moving onto some of the more final steps. These include finishing ceiling paneling, installation of lights, tiling, installation of the warming cables and the wood floors. Oh, new windows through the whole house. Kitchen cabinets built. By Erik. 

We sat down a few days ago and wrote down our priorities. More specifically, we reevaluated and adjusted our priorities. For example, a few months ago we said, "Greta's room will be finished. Her Big Girl Bed built into the wall like a little captain's bed) will be finished; curtains handmade and hung; walls painted. It will be a safe, clean retreat, welcoming her to her new home. La-la-laaaa." About a month ago I said, "Greta doesn't need her Big Girl Bed finished. She can sleep on a mattress or in her crib a bit longer. " This week I said, "The upstairs can remain a workzone. All 3 of us can sleep downstairs in the guest room on mattresses on the floor. Just GET ME THE HELL OUT OF THIS APARTMENT!!!"

Other priorities, or non-priorities?

Erik: "Well. . . doors."

Me: "We don't need doors."

Erik: "I can see us keeping the living room as a workspace for painting stuff like trim."

Me: "The trim can go up a year from now. We're using that living room before we have trim up."

Us, in agreement: need washer and dryer (some Norwegians consider a dryer an indulgence), refrigerator, stove, oven, hood. Off to the store we go, on a shopping trip we will probably never again repeat.

Our kitchen "cabinets" will be boxes (not literally cardboard packing boxes)--more accurately deep cavernous spaces to stack stuff inside. Drawers, shelves, fronts will come with time. One of our three bedroom windows was misordered and will be installed in the spring. Walls will be primed, not painted. 

One month to go. Can we do it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This'll speed up the aging process. . .

I know an American woman who has lived in Lillehammer for about 30 years. I saw her at the showing of what is now Our House, and later told her how we had bought that crazy red 1950s house in the Søre Ål neighborhood. She said, "Oh! I went home to my husband and said, I'd love to buy that house. . . I'd buy that house if I were still in my 30s and had the energy to re-do it. But I'm in my 50s and don't want to do those kind of things anymore!"

Do you ever have those moments when you think, "I'm not old enough to be doing this sort of stuff. . . " Kind of like that Talking Heads song, "This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife! You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?" Sometimes I think. . . "I'm not old enough to be renovating a house. . . oh wait. . . I'm married, have a kid, finished graduate school. . . that's right. . . I'm 36. Sounds about right." If I'm not old enough, who is?

For those of you dying for house updates, and aren't on Facebook, here is a series of pictures over the last (gulp) month. The foundation seemed to take forever, but now that the walls are going up--now just over a week ago--the everyday progress is amazing. We now have a two story addition nearly completely framed in, a huge hole cut in our roof and half the rafters/trusses installed; inside, the bathroom floor has been tiled, and our stairs were installed! The stairs were made by a stair company, and they installed the entire thing in about 4 hours. My family members have commented on how they were not what they expected, both in shape and design. I hadn't seen virtually any drawings of them before they arrived, and they were almost exactly what I expected. They look like very typical Norwegian stairs to me, so I guess my tastes and expectations are shifting. 

I've been doing lots of insulating, lots of pre-painting preparation for the gazillion knot holes on the pine paneling, lots of nail-hole filing on the gazillion knot holes, assisting with installation of ceiling paneling and wall paneling, and finally beginning to prime! 

As you can see by the pictures, the weather has been cooperating 95% of the time. We had a big rain and wind storm last night, but the tarp covering our gigantic hole in the roof managed to stay in place. While we had a little dusting of snow up on the tops of the mountains/hills about 10 days ago, we haven't had any in the valley yet. We're hoping for a few more dry days until we can get the addition enclosed. 

This is exciting, but it's also incredibly stressful. Add on top of that a 3.5 year old who misses her pappa and is mastering the art of temper tantrums, a husband who is never asleep before midnight, sometimes 2am, a dog who might have eyelid cancer and will need 3 separate procedures to diagnosis and treat said cancer, and someone who will go unnamed who has now had two automobile related incidents with Norwegian law enforcement in the last month. . . 

I just want to yell, "I want my Mamma!!!!"

Oh wait. I'm the mamma. 


Sept 18
Oct 6

Oct 10
Oct 11

Oct 17

Oct 18 (today)

View from our bedroom!
New stairs: Oct 14

 *I'm going to stop complaining now, because I know I have it pretty damn good. But, it's my blog, so I can bitch when I want to.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Greta loves Maihaugen.
She also loves running after her Uncle Jeremy.
 My brother Jeremy and his samboer, Amber, came to visit us in late August for nearly two weeks. My delay in writing this post has everything to do with waiting for my brother to sort through his 2,000 pictures and nothing to do with my own busy schedule. . . 

I do a little Big Sister
ass kickin' on the stilts at Maihaugen.
While the plane tickets were bought long ago, the planning was. . . shall we say, a little last minute? J&A wanted first and foremost to see their adorable niece, but also to get a taste of Norway. I, of course, wanted to visit with them too, but also wanted them to really like Norway. In fact, I was more concerned about their having an awesome, kick-ass visit than I have been with any of our other visitors thus far (aunt/uncle and our parents), mostly I think because of the amount of money involved and their age. Let me try to explain:  our parents, our aunt/uncle. . . they're retired/nearly retired, have some extra money on their hands in this stage of their lives. . . somehow for my brother and his girlfriend to drop the thousands of dollars it takes to get here--these two hard working kids with a mortgage. . . I really felt some pressure for them to have a great time. (And to want to come back!).

So, in addition to visiting Lillehammer and the requisite trip to Oslo (either upon arrival or departure, or during any of the train trips that generally require a trip into Oslo), I strongly encouraged them to visit Bergen. Bergen is located on the west coast of Norway, and notoriously rainy (kind of like Seattle). But it is colorful, cosmopolitan, historical, and beautiful, and since I visited it 6 years ago on a rare sunny day--I loved it. A link to this blog perhaps sealed the deal on visiting Bergen.

I also recommended a Norway in a Nutshell trip, which fellow blogger Michele described as "ridiculously expensive but totally worth it". It enabled them to get a taste of Norway in just a day or two trip--fjord trip, train trip to the mountains and glaciers, and back down to the coastline.

I thought Lillehammer, Oslo, Bergen, Norway in a Nutshell would be a nice taste of Norway. A few weeks before their visit Jeremy said, "We're going to start reading the guidebooks now!" I reassured them that late August into early September isn't high tourist season anymore, and not to worry too much about making reservations in some of the more popular tourist destinations.
And the weather continues to cooperate.
We stopped at the octagonal church in 

Sør Fron on our drive to Rondane to enjoy
the spectacular view and sunshine.


Bergen was Booked Solid on their chosen days. Only horrendously expensive hotels were available. Jeremy sent us link after link to hostels and small apartments, and every one was booked. After playing with the dates of their in-country trips a bit, and only after Erik called about 40 privately owned apartments, did we find them a place to stay in Bergen for 3 nights.

Let this be a warning to you!!!

We begin the 5km walk to Rondvassbu Fjell Hotel
in Rondane National Park. 
Weather was the wild card. Remember we just had the rainiest June, July and August in history (or modern history) in Lillehammer, and so a few days of rain could be the difference between a miserable trip or an awesome one.

They had an AWESOME TRIP!!  The weather (although a little chilly for late August) cooperated. . . even in Bergen. For the most part.

Nearly there!
(No, I did not carry Greta the whole way. We had a stroller).
Once they arrived in Lillehammer, and we made the pilgrimage to Maihaugen, I convinced them that we should do a day hike into Rondane National Park and stay overnight in Rondvassbu, one of many classic Norwegian mountain hotels. My brother and his girlfriend aren't really hikers (they live in DC), but I reassured them that it wasn't so much of a hike as it was a 5km walk on a dirt road. With backpacks. Norwegians walk in on a Sunday afternoon, have a cup of coffee, and walk back out again. Parents push baby buggies, kids ride their bikes. But it's all in the middle of really incredible high mountain terrain. The sleeping accommodations are rustic (think bunk beds and candles) but the food is not (think 3 course meals with a beer/wine menu).

They agreed it sounded like a fun addition to their itinerary, without too much convincing. Erik was busy with work and house stuff, so it was the two of them along with Greta and myself. We packed backpacks full of layers of rainproof clothing, long underwear and our bed linens (only to find out upon arrival at the hotel that we could have "rented" the linens and spared ourselves the extra pounds in the backpack) and drove the two hours to Rondane, stopping along the way for some pretty incredible sight-seeing. Greta enjoyed the hike from the comfort of her stroller, and J&A were adequately impressed by the stark beauty of the high mountain range. 

After an evening meal of fish, potatoes (and a very tasty pasta salad for vegetarian Amber) and chocolate mousse, accompanied by a good beer and refreshing glass of wine, we settled into the living room to read and chat by the candlelight. The mountain hotel was a bit overrun by about 50+ high school aged kids, heading out on a first-week-of-school multi-night expedition. But they definitely added to the rustic, Norwegian feel to the place--all these kids not batting an eye about heading out into the wilderness with a few days' supplies on their backs. 
Rustic but cozy, right Amber?

The multiple layers of wicking long underwear, fleece and rain gear were unnecessary on our walk in--the sun was out and we all stripped down to a single layer of clothes. The walk out ended on a chilly note with a few sprinkles and strong wind, but did not dampen the spirits of our DC Hikers who, to their credit, got off the beaten path of the "typical" tourist in Norway. 

Come see for yourself! 

Come back soon, Jeremy and Amber!
You still have a lot of Norway left to see!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Only in Norway

Time to cut the roof!

Somewhat difficult to see, but he actually is holding a
trimmer in his hands. Picture taken in Hafjell, at a hytte (cabin)
just 200m down the ski trail from us

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Scream, I mean. . . Ice Cream

Today the ice cream truck drove through our neighborhood, ringing a delightful little bell. It parked right in front of our house, and two kids and their dad came running up. Didn't seem to matter that it was about 55 degrees and cloudy.

Is it just me, or is the picture on the side of this ice cream truck not a little creepy? The little girl is giving the ice cream man a kiss? Is that not a little child-sex-predator-ish?

It struck me as very weird. Hence the picture.