March 14: Regular life in Norway

We are midway between school holidays, nestled into regular life for a bit. Ted and I have been going to work most days, now that the set-up errands are complete. It’s darn nice to have a regular bank account, Ted has finally been (mostly) paid, and the rent has been paid. The days are much lighter, but winter is definitely still here. We have had some great new snow this week, but it has been above freezing during the day for the most part.

The kids are enjoying their school days. Anders feels pretty confident that a substitute teacher didn’t realize that he was American, even after having a bit of a conversation, although it’s not clear to me how much Anders really spoke in this conversation, but he did understand what was said. He is enjoying his classmates. Last weekend he went to a birthday party for one of the boys that he is closest friends with. They went to a public ski hill in the evening that has a practice-slalom course. Anders didn’t have alpine skis, but he brought a sled and had a blast flying down the hill and hitting the jumps. He has also been going to handball practice. He and I went to watch his team play a game last weekend and he got his uniform. He will play in his first game on Saturday. It’s quite optional. They use an app for messages and game announcements, and we just respond to say if he is going to play or not. Low pressure.

Nora has been enjoying school too. Although learning Norwegian is not a stated goal for her, it’s clear that she is learning and sometimes accidentally shows it. She said that she spoke some Norwegian today when some boys were yelling at her on the playground, so it might be reserved for social purposes.She also joined a soccer team for the girls in her class and has been going to practice, but that is also low key. They mix various sports and soccer in each practice. They are doing some gymnastics now and she is happy to learn to do a handstand, and likes small soccer matches too.

This week they were going to ice skate on the school rink for soccer practice, but it snowed so much all day that the ice was not clear in the afternoon! Instead, they sledded at the school, where the girls kept trying to make sled trains on the way down. It’s such an awesome sledding hill, and so well used that they have slick tracks that make them go fast. Then they went to her friend’s house for hot chocolate afterward. Anders came for sledding too, and I went to hang out for a bit and talked with the coach (in as much Norwegian as possible!) Anders and Nora played on the crazy merry-go-round thing. Anders is quite intentionally hanging upside down. He was like a toddler, completely rolling in the snow and soaked through by the time we got home.

Both kids have gone out for ski trips at school several times, with more to come next week. If I had realized how much they would be skiing, we would have bought skis in the first week! We have been fortunate to borrow some from other families. The school also has extras that fit Nora, but Anders feet are too big for elementary school sizes. It’s been great to be included in the parent Facebook groups and school messaging apps now because I can put out a request and get ideas and offers. People are very generous and supportive.

This weekend the kids were invited to play with some friends–a brother and sister their same ages! The girl is the one that was paired with Nora on the first day of school, Ronja, so they have been getting along and she likes to speak English. They did everything Nora loves–fake blood makeup to scare the parents (it was convincing) and made up a puppet play. Turns out that Anders gets along with her big brother too (but didn’t realize they were siblings), so he was invited over too–video games and sledding at the neighborhood ski hill. Ted and I brought them over and stayed for coffee, brownies, and hours of political talk. I understand that America is quite an enigma to Norwegians who think differently about government, are the 2nd happiest people in the world this year, and only see America from the outside but feel a kinship. Many Norwegians jokingly recite the fact that there are more Norwegian-Americans in the world than Norwegians now (and we are some of them). It’s hard to explain what’s going on in the country even from an insider’s view. I get the feeling that every Norwegian that we talk to about this stuff is saying, “why not come to live here, it’s great here!” even if they don’t come out an say it. Actually, one of my co-workers who is originally from Russia did come out and say it! I have to explain that America is a big and diverse place, and our home is pretty tough to leave. They were very kind to host us, and we will have to invite them over soon.

To be adventurous, I tried the tube caviar this week. It’s very common for breakfast and lunch on crisp bread. In general, I’m not in favor of food that comes from a tube, and this isn’t the only tube-food. Ted said “the tube makes it look like something to put on a rash.” Yeah, it does. But it’s not bad. For people who eat sushi, this should not be a big deal. It has some light herbs, and is intensely salty. I ate it on crisp bread with some cucumbers at lunch. I bought the single-serving size, so I don’t have to go back for more. It wasn’t that great.

This week I finished knitting myself a linen top, it’s so satisfying to have something fit! And be finished! More knitting projects on the way: slippers for Nora, socks for Ted and Anders, and I’m sure a few more things. I have no shortage of yarn.

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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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