February 8: Kid updates

School Report: The kids are happy to go to school every day, although they seem to get by without working too hard at Norwegian. They have friends who are more than happy to speak to them in English, and translate for them. Everyone brings their own lunch from home and eats at their desks with the kids that are assigned to sit near them. Anders forgot his lunch today and said no one noticed, so he came home hungry–I was wondering what they do if a kid forgot but he didn’t want to find out. I challenged Anders to practice some questions in Norwegian to get the kids talking about something in Norwegian, so he knows the subject of the conversation at least. He tried it out a bit this week. He thinks he is understanding about half of what is said to him. Who knows with Nora, she will cruise along as much as possible, but she does get extra Norwegian homework that she does with Ted, who is also learning. But that’s reading and writing. I still trust that something is sinking in for her.

Anders had to read the newspaper all week for a quiz that they are having on Friday, which is good news for me because I get a newspaper! I can read about 1 article per day with breakfast because it takes so long, so this week of newspapers will last me a month. He was intrigued by the guy’s mustache in the photo. Trondheim has a mustache club, so maybe he is a member. But he was really talking about the rise in credit card debt, likely due to social media creating a “luxury trap” where you feel like you need fancy new things to show off. Good lessons.

The kids’ classes each have an “open day” after school next week where parents come to see the work that they have been doing in class. Nora’s class started knitting this week, yay!, so parents are welcome to bring along our knitting and it for a snack while we knit and help the kids! This is my kind of parent school event! I look forward to seeing if lots of other parents come to knit too, but it looks like there will be lots of snacks–hot dogs, pastries, coffee, soda. I don’t know what Anders’ class is doing yet, but they have been studying electricity. Maybe Ted will have his own circuit-building-kafe.

Sports Report: Anders is trying out handball and enjoys it so far (he is in the black shirt and green shorts). He can play on Tuesdays and Fridays. I met the coach this week, who was very enthusiastic about Anders’ participation. He has a good and accurate throwing arm, which is good for handball. The coach said that he could play games if we sign him up more formally. So far he just shows up to practice. On Tuesdays he has band too, so he can go to the first part of handball, but then it’s a 25 minute walk back past our house to band. Turns out that there’s a girl in his class that also plays both handball and is in the band. I arranged for him to catch a ride with her because he couldn’t possibly ask…she’s a girl. I talked to this fearsome 12-year-old braces-wielding being and her dad at practice this week and they were happy to give him a ride so that he could get the most out of both activities. Then I found out that he has been sitting next to her at school for 2 weeks! Must be rough. I think he is going to have to finally break the ice and talk to her.

Nora also joined a soccer team with the girls in her class. She goes every Monday after school and every other Friday. She was invited by the girl in her class who likes speaking English and sits with her, and her dad coaches the team. She was very reluctant because she just doesn’t see herself as an “athlete.” On the first day I had to run her gym shoes over to the school, because they practice inside. Actually, they are doing all kinds of games in the winter, not just soccer. She was in the locker room in tears with 4 other girls around her, encouraging her. We got her to head to practice with everyone, then I left to get groceries. When I came back to get her, she was thrilled. She made 7 goals and won the game for her team! It was great! I told her that I’m much more proud of her courage to try and stretch her view of herself than I am of some goals.

Skiing in Norway is indeed a universal activity, especially with the Olympics coming up. Groomed paths, grocery shoppers in their boots while their skis are waiting outside, basic commuting, buses full of people with their skis going up to ByĆ„sen and other ski areas on the weekend. Kids are “born with skis on.” We see some tiny kids in the store with their ski boots.

Each Monday, someone at at work asks me (in Norwegian) “have you been skiing this weekend?” And I answer no, we don’t have skis, we are not skiers at home, I didn’t think it was worth it to buy them for just a few months, we have to teach the kids, etc. This is now one of my most comfortable subjects to talk about in Norwegian.

This week my lunch companions were intrigued by this and brainstormed ways to get us skiing immediately. Indeed, there is a place run by the city that loans out ski equipment for free for a week at a time! Like a library for skis. It is just a 25 minute walk from our house. Today we walked over and checked out skis and took a quick tour near the place that we lived when we lived her 12 years ago. Next Monday when someone asks if we were skiing this weekend, I can answer JA! There are some great trails on my way to work, so maybe I can ski next week.

Leisure Report: Both of the kids hang out with friends. Boys in Anders’ class go to “tweenies” at a little neighborhood center nearby on Mondays. They take turns playing video games and sledding or playing outside. He also has friends that invite him to sled or skate on the weekends or after school sometimes, but they don’t play Magic The Gathering so he is missing that and it doesn’t seem like they are making deep ties yet. He can skype with Atticus to play Magic, and plays with Ted.

Nora and her classmate across the hall are exchanging artsy letters through the mailboxes in our building. Too cute. She writes notes and checks the mail multiple times per night sometimes. They also do homework together. Her friend just returned from Canada, so she speaks great English. But bad news: her family bought a new place so they will be moving in a few months. I told Nora that they can keep being pen pals!

The library is a wonderful thing, so there is no shortage of books to read, in English. Nora has been missing Connie’s hot chocolate, so I taught her how to make it in a pan this week, because that seems to be part of the magic secret. But it will never be quite right without Connie’s touch.

Nora is also missing more toys a little bit, but it turns out that removing all toys does trigger a child’s natural creativity. Here we have a macaroni box, tape, and some plastic twine transformed into a hair styling activity. She has also created a camping trip for her 3 stuffed animals out of things around the house. She has been writing her Harry Potter fan fiction. Creativity does not rely on stuff.

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.
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