March 12, 2015

The heated bathroom floor

One of my favorite luxuries in Norway are the heated bathroom floors. I call this a luxury because it's something I never grew up with, I don't know of anyone in Kentucky at least who has a heated floor in their bathroom and I think it really is a luxury to have one. To Norwegians, this is just a standard part of their housing.

Without the heated flooring, the bathrooms are pretty cold, so it's actually a handy thing to have in the flooring and it's also comforting to start your day getting your toes toasty from a warm floor.

Under the bathroom tiling lies a mat with coils, these coils are what heats the floor. It's a good investment as it doesn't take up any space unlike a heater in the bathroom as it's concealed under the flooring, it can be used to heat the entire bathroom and it doesn't use much power.

Not that bathroom floors are particularly nice to look at or anything, but here's ours.
Warm and toasty. 

March 6, 2015

How to fall in love with a Norwegian

How to fall in love with a Norwegian in 2 easy steps:

1) Find a Norwegian.

2) Fall in love.

Simple as that.

I love my Norwegian. Regardless of nationality, I'd love him just the same.

God helg!!! :-)

March 3, 2015

Travelling with an infant

Last April/May we took our trip back to the United States to visit my family and our sweet little Pia came with us. I was very anxious prior to the trip because I really didn't know how travelling 24 hours with a baby would be. It really wasn't as bad as I imagined, but I do have a few things I will do differently this time around and some pointers to share.

I had read and read and read so many tips on how to travel with an infant. Of course every kid is different and I have since stopped reading so much about others' experiences with their own children. It only leaves me shaking my head and thinking to myself, "That is so not my kid!".

Here's a few pointers from my own experience:
  • Bring a travel stroller, not the huge prams we use in Norway. They're big, bulky, you have to also pay for your own travel bag for them (I bought one used) and in my experience when I brought it to the airport in Washington D.C., they were confused and asked how many strollers I had. They also charged us $200 for it because they were confused and marked it as oversized luggage. I later disputed them on this, which just ran me in circles talking to several people before I just gave up. The airport in Louisville, Kentucky lost our stroller once on the way to Kentucky and our stroller was lost on the way back to Norway in Brussels. It was a stroller nightmare. I have since bought a smaller stroller just for our next trip.
  • The one good thing about bringing a stroller is using it as a luggage carrier. Just strap the baby in a baby carrier and place some luggage in the stroller and push it. It really saves a lot of hassle.
  • With the above being mentioned, a Baby Bjorn or Ergo Baby carrier is necessary. I originally brought my ring sling to Kentucky, but I soon realized it wasn't suitable for carrying a baby through a hectic airport. When I gave up on the ring sling because it was too difficult to continue checking the sling and make sure she wasn't slipping out, Pia fell asleep in my arms eventually, but we were going through security when this happened. My arms were completely asleep, but I had to slightly move my arms and this in turn woke up the child who hasn't slept since birth. This caused a good hour and a half of constant screaming and crying. I even started crying in the security line.
  • During take off it is beneficial to use a pacifier or boob. Pia's doctor also recommended us bringing nosespray to spray in her nose. I only did this once as she never acted like the pressure bothered her. Luckily for us, the shaking of the plane put Pia right to sleep. How my child could sleep on a noisy plane, but wakes up if she hears the slightest creak is beyond my comprehension.
  • Toys. Entertainment. What have you. It depends on the age of the infant. I'm not talking about toddlers here. I have no experience with that... yet, but help us when the time comes! :-P I brought hand puppets, Pia's favorite ball, and some chew toys.
  • Snacks. Again, it depends on the age. Food pouches are handy.
  • Ask for a seat with a bassinet. They're usually located behind the bathrooms.
  • Have plenty of layover time. I'm sure parents of small children realize how long it takes just to leave the house. Going on an intercontinental trip requires more time and patience with the little ones.
On the way to America using my flimsy ring sling. 
We traveled with Brussels Airlines and I can't say I really enjoyed the flight. We were granted the seats with a bassinet, but there were a few extra seats on the plane and the flight attendant asked the lady sitting beside me if she would move to another seat so Pia could have her own and we could sit as a family. The lady refused and argued with the flight attendant. This very persistent flight attendant wanted Pia to have her own seat rather than sit in my lap, so Arild moved to a row ahead of us.

So Pia had her own seat, which was great. However, the flight attendant had me so confused. Several times she told me to put my baby in the empty seat and stop holding her, put her in the bassinet, hold her and not let her sit in the seat. Put her in the seat. Put her in the bassinet. Hold her. Then she openly tried giving me parenting advice and advice about teething. Arild glanced behind him and saw I was getting mad and hand signaled for me to calm down. I felt singled out by this lady and really wanted to tell her to go on somewhere.

So happy in her own seat. 

Ah, the Baby Bjørn. This saved so much stress!
And she actually liked being in it once we adjusted it to her size a bit better than in the picture.  

Finally we made it to Washington D.C. This is where we realized 2 layovers was too much for us and we should have paid a bit extra for a pricier flight with only 1 layover. Of course we have to learn things the hard way. Pia lost it after she fell asleep in my arms and woke up in the security line. I couldn't calm her down. She was tired. I was tired. Arild was tired. All 3 of us just wanted to make it to Kentucky and sleep.

After a 1,5 hour flight to Louisville we drove to my family's house and slept.

Enjoying a walk in the park. 

Oh yeah! April and I can wear very little clothing! 

Canvas and tea night! I LOVED it!
I got to paint a jockey silk in support of The Kentucky Derby! 

Lessons I've learned: 

  • Breathe. Relax. It's ok. It's several hours, but it will be over with and you and your family will eventually get some much needed rest. 
  • Bring a sturdy baby carrier. 
  • At least in my case, having a child who never sleeps, it was very hard on us during the trip and especially when we came back to Norway getting her un-jetlagged. We MUST stick to her very strict schedule this time. No excuses. No negotiations. 
  • When paying for a car rental online, make sure it's a business that has no hidden costs. We had to pay extra when we arrived at the airport when we went with our previous car rental company. 
  • Bring a travel stroller! 
  • If you're like me, you worry about trying to cram in several visits with every family member and friend and have a lot of anxiety over this. Again, relax. (I am trying to practice what I preach this time!) We spent a lot of time trying to calm Pia down, either she was fighting sleep and was cranky or it was just too much stimulation. Plus she was teething. 
After we left Kentucky, we visited Washington D.C. for a couple of days. We did a White House and Capitol tour. I finally got to see pandas at the Smithsonian Zoo. We visited the Smithsonian museum as well as the reflection pool. All of which is highly recommended. I absolutely loved our Washington D.C. trip! Our plan with our America trips is to do "one extra" during our visits so we can eventually see all of U.S.A. and Pia can grow up knowing more than just Kentucky on her American trips. Having a small child with us also means we try to find some of the most family friendly places to visit. For example, Nashville will be our next extra American destination. According to Arild, he wants to finish visiting all of the south before Pia begins elementary school and we have to start taking our America trips in the summer instead of the spring. (He hates the heat. Typisk nordmann.)

Uh, Mr. President, my kid is trying to eat your fence....

Cool baby! Checkin' out the capital of the U. S. of A.! 

February 24, 2015

Down with the sickness (the perks and downfall of being sick in Norway)

I'm feeling a little nostalgic today after listening to some music my husband had on MTV Rocks. It takes me back about 10 or more years, hence the title of a Disturbed song as my blog post title. (It's now sometimes embarrassing to admit to some of my former music taste.)

Usually I feel indestructible and very healthy. I've now been sick 3 times in 2 months. I'm pretty sure I haven't helped matters any because I hate being sick and I really make a terrible sick person. I just want to deny it as long as possible and keep going, which in turn probably makes me sick longer as I just won't take a break. This makes my 5th day of possible flu, though I am feeling better. Even though I was feeling pretty cruddy last week, I was thinking 2 things. How much it is good I'm in Norway and I felt like this and how much I wish I were in America feeling like this. It's a lovely torn feeling.

One day at the end of last week I was feeling somewhat better and I finally woke up with some energy. I kept thinking of all my contagious germs being everywhere and my husband and daughter were going to catch whatever I have. So I cleaned the house from top to bottom. I wiped the counters, loaded the dishwasher, put dishes away, scrubbed the table, swept the floors, steam mopped the floors and then I realized I didn't feel so great anymore and was totally out of breath. All the while Arild was telling me to sit down. Relax. Go to bed. Rest. I refused to listen and only thought, Where are Clorox wipes when you need them???? Where is the Chloroseptic throat spray, Tylenol cold and flu, Vick's shower tablets, Puffs Plus, Campbell's chicken noodle soup, etc. when you need it? If I were in the States I would have gotten my $10 flu vaccine at Kroger, Walmart, etc.

And so with that, I have been adding to my never ending "What to buy in America" shopping list.

On the otherhand, I've been thinking of how great it is to be in Norway while being down with the flu. No, there's no huge buffet of over the counter medications so you can take home a cocktail of over the counter comforts. The pharmacy has what it has on display, otherwise you need a prescription. If you're not a "high risk" patient, a flu shot will cost quite a bit out of pocket. And chlorox wipes, or disinfecting cleaning wipes, well, I haven't seen anything here so far, but if anyone else has please let me know where I can find some. (I have recently discovered they can be ordered from

Had I been in the workforce in Norway, I wouldn't be welcome at work when I was sick and I would be encouraged to stay home. Generally, one working in Norway can take several days off work with pay while sick and without a doctor's note at that. This can be done several times a year if necessary. The benefits of Norwegian workforce and an affordable universal healthcare make it more comforting and reassuring when we get down with the occasional sickness.

There's not a worry about having to push yourself to go to work while sick for fear of not getting paid while you're sick or missing too many days. I've been there and had to work while sick and I realize many Americans have to do this. It's incredibly sad when you think about it.

To prepare myself for my family's upcoming inevitable sicknesses (as Pia is starting barnehage/daycare in the autumn and we all know kids are germ factories), I'm loading up on some American comforts during our next trip.

February 15, 2015

Alle hjerters dag

Also known as Valentine's Day, February 14th is what Norwegians sometimes call Alle Hjerters Dag.

I've never really been too big on celebrating Valentine's Day. It's just a commercialized holiday anyways. My hubs and I are sort of anti-gift giving for most holidays. We give chocolate and make homemade cards. I think that's sweeter than anything else actually and if we just ignored the holiday completely, I'd be ok with that too. I'd just go out and buy my own chocolate. ;-)

Since we're anti-celebratory, we went to the local dump at my own request. I really just wanted to make room in our over crowded storage room and Saturday was of course a good day to do that.

I love being dumped on Valentine's! 
The day just kept getting better and better. This was my first trip to the local dumping site and I discovered a "bytterom" where one can go and just donate stuff so someone else can take it if they wish. That is my kind of place! :-)

I was shocked to find so many very NEW looking books for toddlers and even a book of dinosaur puzzles which looked as if it had never been used! I even found a book for myself, J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy or Den tomme stolen på norsk. How exciting! Pia was thrilled and so was I!

No creases in the book binding or anything! 

Miss Pia surrounded by her "new" books  and dinosaur puzzle.

After my excitement over the free books, I was finally able to get some pallets. I have been wanting to do pallet projects for so long and I really look forward to finally doing some.

When we arrived home, I fixed our dinner. Yeah, eating out is nice, but come on, we're in Norway. It's expensive. It would have been crowded because every man in a relationship would either be wanting to try and impress his other half or that other half would request to eat at a restaurant. It's really a bad day to eat at a restaurant if you ask me.

Anyways, I made quesadillas. I've recently bought a package of Toro's fruktsuppe or fruit soup. I figured it was worth a try and I made some cinnamon sugar tortillas to go with it. My verdict on the fruit soup is, it's just not for me. I kept imagining drinking the fruit syrup from a can of fruit while eating it and I just couldn't do it. 

Quesadilla. Fruit soup and cinna-sugar tortillas. 

For dessert I made chocolate mousse and the raspberry chocolate cake was store bought. Only half the cake is shown because I am openly guilty of stress eating and half of the cake was eaten the previous day. My gift to my hubs was writing him several letters to open throughout the year during certain situations. Good situations. Bad situations. Whatever. I was scanning through Pinterest for ideas and I landed on this "Open when..." idea and just decided on my own topics.

Pia made her pappa a little card which turns her hands into a heart when opened.

I really think some of the sweetest stories are told from the least romantic people. That's kind of why I'm against showering with gifts and other "romantic" things. I was reading on Brain Pickings yesterday and I found a quote which perfectly sums up how I feel about this whole ordeal. I think Tom Stoppard said it absolutely correct when he said,

 "Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her...Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing.

Mine and the hubs' style is more like this. Writing to each other, Homemade cards. Talking and talking and talking. It's just showing we love one another with our time and being completely open, honest with one another just to know what's really inside these wrinkly brains of ours.

Disclaimer: The picture below is SUPER staged. My table is never that clean and dessert (if it doesn't come from a crinkly package) is just plopped on a plate, not served on a platter!

Oh and last, but not least, my card from The World's Most Romantic Man in the World......

What it actually says, "When YOU'RE not with me A PAIN
runs through my heart." Awww, so so sweet. 

To be perfectly honest, this was absolutely the best Valentine's Day I have ever had!

Just subtly putting this out there.... now on Facebook!

February 10, 2015

Domino's has made it to Norge!

Hubby's cooking!

I love it when my husband cooks dinner. And by that I mean eating at a restaurant or ordering a pizza. ;-)

Domino's is new to Norway and it has now opened its 3rd restaurant here in Skien. While we have McDonalds, Subway and Burger King in Norway, it's nice to also have a Domino's to the chain of American restaurants here. It makes me feel a tad bit better about the food culture that I miss so much! :-) 

It was especially nice to order what I wanted online and have hubby pick it up on his way home from work today. Though, because our Skien Domino's has had a grand opening it was very busy with a long waiting time, so I'm pleased with ordering online instead of in the store.

The Norwegian Domino's menu follows after the Icelandic menu, but from what I've seen a lot of the options are the same. You can order sides such as chicken wings, bread sticks, cheese sticks, cinnamon sticks and even chocolate sticks. MMMMM! My husband always looks forward to ordering breadsticks from pizza restaurants in America, so this evening he was enjoying his breadsticks and said to me, "It's almost like we're in America!" That was nice to hear. 

If interested, here is the Dominos Norge link.

Welcome Domino's! Maybe Taco Bell can make an appearance next? Ah, a girl can dream, can't she? 

February 5, 2015

Away with words

The title isn't a typo. It's just a really bad pun which I hope you get. ;-)

I have kicked my studying norsk up a notch. I'm now studying this language a couple of hours a day. Quite frankly, I am beginning to freak out about my upcoming job search in the fall. I think my worst nightmare is probably being at home with nothing to do. I fear I won't know the language well enough to find work, or I will have to settle for a job at the "bottom of the barrel." Though there isn't anything wrong with that, it's just not something I'd prefer to do. Most importantly, I just want to feel productive, like I'm doing something and I'm helping support my tiny family.

Phew! When I put it like that, it only makes my anxiety go through the roof! The only way to solve this problem is to study norsk and get over my self-consciousness of speaking norsk.

To help myself learn on the go, I've attached a small notepad to my keyring. If I hear or see a word I don't understand, I write it down and translate it.

It's simple and helps me learn some unknown words if I'm out.

Though I don't get out much these days and I don't have many words written in my mini notepad, I have found this helpful to memorize new words.

I actually found this notepad keyring on eBay for about 14 kroner or so ($2) if anyone else is interested in trying this technique as well. 

I apologize for the short post as I'm currently working on a longer post giving some pointers on travelling with an infant. :-)

Good evening everyone!