Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Officially Christmas???

Being his father was Jehovah's Witness, my Norwegian husband has never celebrated Christmas nor have I experienced it here in Norway. Thus I don't completely have a hold on the season's traditions but here are some observations nonetheless.

Christmas is not just 1 day here. It is AT LEAST a month long.
- it starts the first Sunday in December when the first advent candle is lit
- there is a lot to get done- cleaning every nook and cranny of the house, changing the curtains and other decor because everything must be RED, baking the 7 types of cookies for Christmas dinner, building a gingerbread house, making an advent calendar for each child with a gift for each day (fun!!!), homemade pork and ham rolls, gløgg and so much more!!!

December 13
- Santa Lucia Day, only some Norwegians celebrate this while it is a must in Sweden...hey, any excuse to add light to this dark period is worth it!

December 23
- the fun begins
- this day actually has a name- Little Christmas Eve
- today many families decorate the tree (a real tree usually), they often have little Norwegian flags strung around it, and eat rice porridge (one lucky eater will get the almond and have a year of good luck), saving the leftovers for the following day

December 24
- other families decorate the tree on this day
- families gather for a big meal together consisting of steamed dried lamb ribs (pinnekjøtt), roasted fresh ham (ribbe) and rutabaga or lutefisk, dessert being the left over rice porridge whipped with cream and topped with a raspberry sauce
- in the evening gifts will be open

Dec 25 thru New Year's Eve
- Christmas continues...many people have off work so there are still Christmas dinners, parties, kid's activities, etc.
- Dec 25 is called the FIRST day of Christmas
- Dec 26 the SECOND day of Christmas

Jan 13
- you better have your lights and tree down by this day because Christmas is officially over!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My nightmare

Since I'm the early bird of Ben and I, when Ben got up with Phoenix this morning I delighted in the chance to get some extra sleep. Sleep I got but it was marred by this nightmare.

I had invited a bunch of people over. They were flying in from all over the world. I just invited them without planning out anything. It was a Saturday when they started showing up. I was nursing and suddenly I was like, Shoot! I have to get to the store before 6pm because that is when they stop selling beer here in Norway!!! The liquor store (yes, you can only buy liquor/wine at a government owned store) was already closed and wouldn't open again until Wednesday (all true). But while the store where I could purchase beer was just across the street I couldn't get there because it was so icy and I just kept being blown away from the store by the strong wind (yep, its been really icy and windy here lately). When I finally got to the store it was after 6pm so I made my way to another store to buy food but I kept going up all these staircases and could never find the area where they sold groceries. I had to hurry up and get there because the shops close early on Saturdays and nothing is open on Sundays (like in reality). Even more true to life was Ben's reaction in the dream saying, I'm not going to help you. YOU invited them! (But in reality he would save my a** and for that I am grateful!).

When I woke up from the nightmare I decided it wasn't worth going back to sleep. Too real!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life with Down Syndrome

So the other day I was in the bathroom with all 3 boys changing Tiago's poopy diaper. Since I have 10 stitches on my knee cap I couldn't get up to turn on the water in the shower. In desperation as to not get poop all over the place, I asked Phoenix to turn it on and HE DID IT! It was so exciting!!! I was yelping and PRAISING him like crazy, "Great job! Thumbs up for following directions!". The whole thing almost brought tears to my eyes; I was so proud of him for being so helpful, responsible and for doing what I asked!

And then I just had to laugh and smile to myself and thank God, seriously, for giving me a child with Down syndrome. We get to be excited about the smallest things! I'm not saying that we have low expectations for Phoenix, but somehow some things are a big deal when Phoenix does them. Not only do we get to get excited a lot, we also get to be part of some pretty cool "clubs"- joining families with a child with DS and special needs in generals in supporting each other and sharing information. Additionally, we now know a plethera of therapists and have gained knowledge from them in areas we never thought of before! Most importantly, Phoenix provides us with opportunities to grow. He challenges us often in the areas of patience (grrrr...I am not always a willing student!), tolerance and human dignity and our own inhibitions.

I grow most when Phoenix acts with a total lack of inhibition. I love when Phoenix laughs really hard in public (the kid even laughs in his sleep!) and/or reaches out to strangers. In terms of laughing, the parent in me wants to tell him, "Use your inside voice", "Not so loud, please, we're on a bus!" because I can't say, "DON'T LAUGH SO HARD! THAT'S BAD MANNERS!". That sounds so ridiculous but I think on some level that is what I mean. I'm uncomfortable with someone just laughing their head off. Its socially abnormal and the fact that my child is doing it embarrasses me. And that is when I'm stretched! Why shouldn't we just have a good belly laugh session on the bus sometimes??? Regarding touching, again the parent in me wants to say, "Control yourself", "Don't touch strangers". But once at church they had this great message called Touch and how important it is, especially when breaking down our fears of the unknown/unfamiliar, for example, people who are handicapped, have special needs, a different ethnic background, whatever our fear is. After that message a woman I didn't know smiled to 2-month-old Phoenix (who had an oxygen cannula in his nose and an oxygen tank beside him) and he gave her a HUGE grin back and this was before he could even smile! She wrote me a letter and told me he had changed her life and that she knew he would continue changing lives. What encouragement for me! So, for the moment, I allow Phoenix to stretch me and stretch others by ignoring certain inhibitions.

I don't have that "perfect angel, sent from God, always happy" Down syndrome child (I doubt that stereotype really exists). He throws fits when he doesn't get his way, often wakes up the whole family at 5:30 am, is a picky eater and just wants to watch tv all the time (this one really gets me!). But in my opinion, I have the most lovable 4-year old son who enriches my family's life daily. Amen!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Motherhood in the Arctic

On days when both Phoenix and Rio are in daycare I usually take a one-hour walk while Tiago naps in his stroller. I am so thankful for these moments- whether listening to my ipod, walking with another mom or experiencing an awesome sky like this.

This picture was taken at 12 NOON. And, yes, that is the sun SETTING! We haven't seen the sun for weeks and won't see it again until February. While the sun is still above the horizon we see only it's rays because of the mountains. Mørketiden (arctic darkness) is by far not my favorite time of the year, but the light it produces is amazing and unique.

When all the kids are home and not in daycare this can be our day:
  • Tiago starts wimpering which means it is naptime. Throw some hand-knit wool clothes on him, stuff him in his sheep skin sleeping bag and toss him in the stroller to sleep outside.
  • Try to motivate Rio and Phoenix to put on their hand-knit wool layer and then their snowsuit, mittens, hat, boots, etc. so we can go outside before it gets dark!!!
  • Get outside and again try to motivate them, this time to play together nicely.
  • At about this point Tiago has to start crying so I push him in the stroller while playing referee for Rio and Phoenix.
  • Get really frustrated and walk away from Rio and Phoenix. What do they do? Rio falls down a hill and I can't find him and Phoenix is sprawled out on the pavement staring into space.
  • Find the courage to try this again...Tiago falls back asleep, walk with Rio and Phoenix to the "park" (2 swing sets and a sea-saw) where Tiago starts crying again and the boys start arguing.
  • How does this end? I push Tiago in the stroller for about 30 minutes trying to get him back to sleep while Rio follows me crying "Mama" and Phoenix lays on his belly licking snow. AND I'M CRYING THE WHOLE TIME wondering what I'm doing wrong to make my kids behave like this???!!!
To make matters worse, DH cannot handle situations like this. No empathy. He just thinks I'm nuts to cry about something like this. And then we argue. And argue. Finally, we realize that with 3 kids and everyday life stuff we've put our relationship last and by the time we get to "us" there's no time left in the day or we're just too exhausted to put any effort into it or there's a kid in our bed and a mother-in-law in the living room.

So today when a discussion became a yelling match it actually felt good because we were COMMUNICATING! I felt like I hadn't heard DH's thoughts in ages! Conclusion, it starts at the top. If Mom and Dad are good then chances are the rest of the family are good. GEEZ! WHO WOULD THINK THAT AFTER 13 YEARS OF MARRIAGE AND THE THIRD CHILD THERE WOULD STILL BE SO MUCH TO LEARN!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Treasure Hunt

Believe me, we're not always this creative!

Phoenix and his pirate booty!

Rio giving a hearty "A-hoy"!

Relaxing and enjoying the spoils.
Check out the pirate tattoo on his leg!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Maybe it is post-partumn? The baby blues should be over by now, right? I can be in a funk for days lately. I'm perfectly fine now, loving life, finding joy in motherhood and not complaining about the arctic! But I was so down for about 4 days, in a bad place- withdrawn, hyper-sensitive, anxious, crying, feeling lonely. For the most part I'm able to put on a happy face for the kids, but in other moments I'm dry-heaving trying to cope with a simple task like putting away the clothes or a mistake I made that really anyone could have made. I just beat myself up like crazy telling myself how stupid I am. Once I start with one negative thought I just can't stop until I feel like vomiting.

During all that I went online to check out symptoms of depression. I had to laugh because it was exactly the words that I'd been throwing around in my head- feeling restless, crying a lot, feeling worthless, etc. It said that the treatment was "talk therapy". And then it was SO OBVIOUS how important community is to ME. I love my friends and I love SHARING life with people. I haven't found my place here yet, but I am usually fortunate in that wherever I go I find good people. I'm sure this year in Båtsfjord will be a fantastic adventure, but when things get hard I'm going to especially miss my amazing network back home. I LOVE YOU ALL! I'll be making good use of email and skype then! xxoo

p.s. I love my newly found blogging community as well!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Birthday Boy!

Showing he is 2 years old.

He ate four cupcakes! And ice cream afterwards.

Fortunately he hasn't lost the cheeks yet! Birthday crown compliments of daycare.

This year our celebration consisted of me, Phoenix and the guest of honor Rio. Whoo-hoo! We ate homemade carrot cake cupcakes (a tradition from my childhood) and watched an 8 minute video I made of Rio.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Better than Vigeland

"Angry boy"

Phoenix is much more interesting to these Japanese tourist than the sculptures!

Yes, they all wanted individual pictures with the boys!

Phoenix had another idea! A Wiggles dance instead!

Taken in the park by Daddy.

Oslo is home to an amazing sculpture park. Vigeland Park is the largest park of its kind made by one single artist in the world. Covering over 80 acres, Vigeland's lifework contains more than 200 works in bronze, granite and wrought iron.

All that is to say that while surrounded by this spectacular artwork, a group of Japanese tourists stopped to take a ton of pictures of OUR KIDS!!! I guess they thought it was cute that they were walking around the park in their matching rubber boots with a blue guitar in hand. I am especially proud that even though Phoenix looks different they still wanted to take pictures of him. I laughed so hard at the spectacle that I cried!!!

Here are more images from the park:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Celebrating w/the king at BK

lover of Pirates
wIggles fan

Phoenix is 4

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tiago's birth

click picture to see the album

If you didn’t see these pictures on facebook already here is the newest edition to our family…introducing Tiago Amante Nystad, born 4 august, 4060g/9pds, 53cm/21in.

Since I was 10 days overdue I was sent to the hospital for a check-up. The hospital is 3 hours away so I was fearful that they would make me stay there and induce me. That is what happened with Rio as I was 12 days overdue and it led to complications in his birth, a long recovery on my part and a little depression.

Ben and I took this amazing CRUISE SHIP to the hospital. We don’t have a car so this was one of our options. We were excited to have a night to ourselves enjoying the onboard luxuries like the outdoor Jacuzzi, the views of the midnight sun, sleeping in and a big breakfast. However, my contractions started only one hour after we boarded the ship. That was exciting!

When we pulled into the final port at Kirkenes, I was in transition. I was laboring infront of all the German tourists. I must have been quite a scene! The ambulance picked us up at the dock and when I arrived at the hospital I was full dialated!!!

It was a great birth with lots of help and support from Ben. But I must admit that I’m a screamer when it comes to pain and I know that Ben was just laughing his butt off behind my back!!! I’m thankful he hid it from me!

Now we are in MAJOR ADJUSTMENT period. Tiago's big brothers are super sweet with him, but Mom has the guilties. Thank you GOD for my husband. He is so helpful and full of lots of grace! AMEN!

well-baby visit

So we're back in Båtsfjord, Ben's childhood home. It is even farther north than Tromsø and much smaller. Yes, we have moved here! I fought it but there are lots of good reasons to stay here for awhile, most importantly, awesome services for Phoenix...and then there is the small town charm.

Yesterday the nurse CAME TO OUR HOUSE to check Tiago and complete his first well-baby visit. I love that after the visit she sat down with the family and ate a piece of cake and we talked about baking! Small town charm...I hope its enough to keep me "happy" living here on the edge of the earth!

i <3 trash

Boys are so much fun! Look what they get into! Having fun in the trash containers!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Phoenix's new bike

Phoenix's physical therapist ordered this tricycle for him. It is awesome! It was specially ordered to fit Phoenix's measurements and fits him perfectly. This is the first tricycle he's been able to ride and I hope that he feels empowered. Yes, Rio's scream in the beginning is entertaining too! We received the bike from

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moving SUCKS!

Not if it means you get to watch The Wiggles all day!

We lived like this the whole last week before our move.

AND I DIDN'T EVEN DO ANYTHING! I am so blessed because my mother-in-law and Ben did all the packing. I tried to watch the kids, but being near the end of my pregnancy and short on energy and patience, The Wiggles did most of the baby sitting.

But isn't packing just one of the worst things in the whole world? Even if you're going on a fantastic vacation it still sucks, I think. In our case, we're packing and still don't know where we'll be UNpacking. We're at Ben's mom's house for the moment but have a goal of being in southern Norway by September 1st. But Ben doesn't have a job and we might just end up closing our eyes and putting our finger on the map and moving there!!!


My beautiful Phoenix amongst an amazing backdrop!

The whole of risøya. The white house was built in 1856.

View north from the summit of risøya- 104 meters above sea level.

In a way I love that when you're about to leave a place you actually make an effort to do all the things you had planned on doing when you actually had time! But at the last minute you try to fit everything in. Spending a weekend at a cabin was one of those things.

My wonderful co-worker Kenth invited our family to join his family at his cabin on the island Risøya. Since the queen of Norway had once visited there, we couldn't say no! We drove one hour out of town to pick up a ferry which sailed about 1.5 hours before reaching the small island northwest of Tromsø island. We sailed amongst the various islands dotted with cabins dropping of passengers as we went. It was a cool yet sunny day.

Risøya was established by Kenth's great-great grandfather. At one time 30-40 people inhabited the island. There was a bakery, a fish oil factory and a down feather factory. Russian fisherman would come into shore to trade their goods. Today there are no longer any permanent residents. Kenth and his relatives utilize the main house and the fisherman's houses as cabins. Once the snow is gone they are there every weekend and spend their entire summer vacations there.

As you can see, there isn't much to do there and that is what cabin life is about! Taking it easy. Taking it slow. Watching the clouds, talking about the weather, predicting the weather, hikes, catching crabs and boat trips on the little outboard. Kenth's daughters enjoyed swimming in the frigid water with their wet suits. Ben and I enjoyed the good food and wonderful company, while Phoenix and Rio spent their days throwing rocks in the water, playing in the sand and "flirting" with the girls!!! It was a fantastic getaway before the stress of moving began!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Belly Painting

2am in the land of the midnight sun

Being pregnant brings on new experiences. This time around it was belly painting! And it was so fun.

Like I said, we have met some great people here in Tromsø. Katrine is definitely one of the coolest and the one that I wish I could have gotten to know better. She has three adorable girls, her third is the same age as Rio, and a charming boyfriend who I voted "best dressed" at Rio's birthday. While she works in the hospital's pathology lab, she has a wildly creative spirit. Among other things, she loves capturing the mother-child relationship through the camera lense; she recently started to paint bellies and photograph them.

Inspired by mexican folk art, we designed this sun. She turned on some Billy Holiday and started painting freehand with theater make-up. We then did a photo shoot behind a white backdrop but I like the ones outside the best. In all my shyness, I was not easy to work with. But this was a special moment dedicated solely to baby number three whom I really haven't had much time to think about.

Thank you, Katrine! I will never forget this...or you!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Money well spent

Saturday we threw a going-away party for OURSELVES!!! It was simple- hot dogs, Ben's famous 7-layer dip and his famous almond tart (yes, i married well!). While we have many complaints about living so far north in Norway we met a lot of good people up here. We will miss them- and the mountains- the most!

Sunday was spent at the carnival. As at any carnival one spends a lot of money on ridiculous things like trying to break a plate with a ball just to win for your kids a couple of stupid ties that they don't even like!!! But to see the joy on their faces when they rode on that "boring" train for the third time was priceless!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Inform yourself

Watch the movie Zeitgeist for free online- thought-provoking and informative.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pinse holiday

Phoenix and Papa across from the cafe.

Mama and Phoenix sharing a panini during the 1 hour that it actually stopped raining.

p.s. Rio was sleeping in the stroller when we took these pictures.

I love living in a Lutheran country with no separation of church and state, because it means we get a ton of days off!!! For example, Christmas eve, Christmas and then usually the whole week until New Year's Day. Easter means you have off Thursday THRU Monday, then Ascension Day (the day Jesus returned to heaven 40 days after being crucified) and now Pinse (the day man was given the holy spirit, 50 days after the crucifixion).

Many people in northern Norway refer to Pinse as "Pinseria" because it is usually when Old Man Winter throws one more snow at us. And he succeeded this year. YUP, it is June 1st and we've been hit with a terrible week of rain, wind and even some snowflakes. Supposedly the reindeer calves are being born this weekend and they need to be born on fresh snow. STILL, it has been raining daily for 7 days now! The boys are back in their snowsuits and frankly, we've been depressed! After months and months of winter we need, DESERVE a break! SEND SUN!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Three Billy Goats Gruff

If you didn't know, this tale originated in Norway. I have this terrible English transition of the story that I just have to share with you.

So the third goat comes over the bridge and the troll says he's going to gobble him up and the goat responds "Well, come along! I've got two spears, and I'll poke your eyeballs out at your ears. I've got besides two great big stones, and I'll crush you to bits, body and bones." Graphic, huh? Maybe this shouldn't be a bedtime story!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


We visit and take a picture at this cafe every time we are in Stockholm.

I have the best husband in the world for so many reasons. But most recently he took care of the boys while I traveled solo for 5 days to visit my dear friend Viola.

God has blessed my life with amazing friends from around the world such that neither time nor distance seems to affect our friendships. Viola is no exception. We haven't seen each other in 7 years and haven't lived on the same continent for a decade. Still, we have always kept in contact. Usually when we call each other one of us says, "I was just about to call you!". It is so wonderful.

Viola lives in Stockholm and I have visited her or we have travelled together often through the city in between one of our many hitchhiking trips in Europe. So I have probably been to Stockholm 2o times. Thus, I was there to see Viola and not the city.

It was an inspiring, reflective and restful trip. I was inspired by Viola and her gorgeous apartment. We reflected over the years of our friendship, the big changes in our recent lives and laughed and appreciated the good old days. In terms of rest, sleeping until 10 am, using hours to eat breakfast and get ready and low expectations like getting a good latte and cinnamon roll. I WAS IN ANOTHER WORLD and for the moment it was glorious! I appreciated it while simultaneously not desiring that life. But, hey, it is the PERFECT life when you need a vacation!!!

Stockholm is only 5 hours from Oslo so I really look forward to moving there and being near Viola.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Norway wins Eurovision song contest!

HIPP HIPP HURRA for Norway! But most Americans have no idea what I'm talking about!

So, Eurovision is a song contest. Each country chooses one song to represent themselves and then people all over Europe vote for the best song, but it is not possible to vote for your own country. However, voting can be quite political- Scandinavian countries voting for each other, the same goes for eastern European countries, etc. The contest was started in 1956 and until recently you had to sing in your own language. Europeans love this contest! Previous winners include ABBA and Celine Dion so this is a very prestigious title!

Hear the song that won it all!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring Fever

So it is light 24 hours a day now and will be for about 3 months (don't forget that means we have 3 months of darkness too, but lets not think about that). You would think it was summer here. Our kids run around half-naked and take their baths outside. It is actually only 55F here but after 6 months of winter we'll take it! The weather really is fantastic, sunny and warm on your face (if you can get away from the cool breeze). The kids are outside all the time and it is fun and to run around with them.

Milestones- The boys have been talking a little more. Phoenix's vocabulary consists of "mama", "ice", "Rio" and "boobs" (he's always looking down my shirt so...). Rio says "mama", "papa" (actually he only whispers the word- it is so cute!), "barnehage" (daycare in Norwegian) and "China" (he has panda bears on his pajamas). It's fun to dream that someday Rio might study panda bears in China and that Phoenix will work as a field hand on a farm- he knows so many animal signs and puts on his cowboy outfit and boots at least once a day! Or he might be a Wiggle! He even made up his own sign for The Wiggles. Kind of annoying because he signs it all day and then wants us to put a DVD on for him. But my biggest dream for Phoenix is that one day he would sing the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field. We sing it every time he wears one of his many Cubs shirts!

Other than that, things are kind of coming to a close around here. We move out June 30 and now its time to tie up loose ends, fit in seeing everyone one last time and trying to do the tourist things we talk about doing but haven't done.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Belly Pics for Sari

The boys giving their future brother ZERBERTS.

Rio gives ZERBERTS whenever he sees bare skin!

29 weeks 4 days

Don't let the smile deceive you. I got my first stretch mark today! (Boo!)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Changes 2

So Ben did get fired after all, although illegally. Ben went to the union and told him the reason that he was getting let-go and they agreed to take his case. Ben's boss offered him a deal and the case was settled out of court. Yes, a dramatic and sad ending to a job that Ben sincerely loved, but in a way it works out perfectly with our desire to move to south Norway.

So we'll be out of Tromsø in July and back in Båtsfjord until Ben finds a job. (Ugh, part of me doesn't like that idea- don't want to get stuck in that little place.) Who knows where I'll give birth! Maybe I'll finally get to take the private plane to the hospital! And it will be berry-picking season in Båtsfjord. Plus, Ben's sister will be visiting again. All good stuff.

We are both excited about starting another chapter in this Norway adventure. Makes us feel free-spirited and spontaneous even though we will soon have 3 kids! Where will we live and work? Who will we befriend? Will we get to travel more often since we'll be down south? Who will come visit? Still, settling down (wow, are those words coming out of my mouth?) and planting roots somewhere could be equally fun...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They speak!!!!

I could watch this a million times! Rio's face is so cute. He's trying to get his lips to do what he wants them to do! And Phoenix is just adorable. AND SO GOOD at saying "Rio". We're so proud of him!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Baby news

OK, I haven't given out too many details. But after the ultrasound I finally have a due date of July 25th. I hadn't gotten my period after Rio's birth so I didn't know before. Hoping for a daughter, Ben really wanted to find out the sex (it was a surprise with both Phoenix and Rio)...probably a boy! Good, because I have way too many baby clothes already!

The baby is moving around like crazy!!! Way more than either Phoenix or Rio. I have been feeling fantastic luckily. I was dog-tired the first trimester but since those first 12 weeks things have been wonderful. However, I already feel that I have to let go of my "status" as THE ONE AND ONLY in terms of Rio and let Dad take over. I'm tired after work and don't have the energy to horse around with them like I used to. Ben is better at that anyway! Just something that prepares us as mothers for the meeting the needs of a newborn. :)

I will post belly pictures soon for those of you who are asking!

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I really thought we'd be back in the US in the next year. We had decided that we were thoroughly DONE with "life in the arctic circle". I'm really gung-ho about raising Phoenix in the US, where there is so much support like Gigi's Playhouse, Special Olympics and access to all kinds of therapies. But with the death of Ben's dad a lot has changed.

I'm fine with that. I totally agree with Ben that we need to stick around until Ben's mom is back on her feet. We never even discussed it. We are both on the same page. We had felt the same way about my parents. That was an additional reason for us to move back to the US, to be near my parents who are in their late 70s.

Anyway, now that we're staying around here I'm so homesick! I realize that no matter where we are we will always miss where we have been. But for the moment I am dreaming of Chicago. I yearn for Foster Beach, Clark and Belmont, the beautiful homes of Lincoln Park, our old neighborhood Bucktown, a Cubs game, smelly Wrigleyville the day after, Tre Kronor, etc.

And one more thing...Ben has been on disability since January because of his shoulder surgery (it used to pop out of joint all the time). But in the mean time his boss told him that things are so slow at work that Ben will probably be let go. Which we were kind of EXCITED about! A good reason to move to south to Oslo (no more arctic circle snowstorms in April!). Ben has applied for four jobs in Oslo in the last week. But when he talked to co-workers today they said that they were overwhelmed with the amount of work. He'll find out tomorrow on his first day back!

So in the last month we've gone from moving the US to staying in Norway to moving to Oslo to staying here...and the place we rent is up for sale so we have to move no matter what!

:) ah, life!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Phoenix snowmobiles!

First ride!

Upset that the first ride had to end!

Ordo Valley, Easter 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ordo by snowmobile

One of my favorite things in THE WORLD is snowmobiling in Båtsfjord during spring break. The weather is usually fantastic, meaning long sunny days, lots of blue sky and this amazing landscape.

On this trip the four of us piled on the snowmobile- Phoenix in front, then Ben, Rio (who only a couple days ago ran and hid at just the SOUND of the snowmobile) and myself on the back- and enjoyed an hour long ride through Ordo Valley, one of the longest valleys in all of Norway. We visited at our friend's cabin and did a little ice fishing, grilling and eating and mostly just hanging out living the cabin life for a day.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Going solo

I'll be leaving Båtsfjord in a few minutes and I'll be flying "home" to Tromsø alone. Phoenix and Rio will be staying with Ben, his sister and his mom for the next week while I work. Then I'll fly back for 10 more days before we all drive to Tromsø.

At first I thought this was a fabulous idea- to have a week to myself!!! But now I'm dreading it. With the loss of Ben's dad on my heart (it just digs up all the junk in your life when tragedy occurs), I don't really want to be alone. And although I have friends in Tromsø, I long for my family and friends of old. I'm struggling with trying to be supportive when actually I'm going through some stuff too as a result of Roy's death. I've got the guilties about thinking about myself- how selfish!

I wonder how our future plans will change. Ben is naturally turning to his faith, something which divides us (at least I feel that way). And I just miss being around people who know me. They remind me of who I AM. Because right now I'm just unsure about all that stuff.

I'm going to miss my babies like crazy. One or two nights off from mommyhood would probably have been enough. And Ben and I- we're just not communicating at the moment. What a challeging time! But I trust that we will learn and grown as a result. (Although honestly I just want to curl up in a ball in my bed and not deal with any of this. UGH!)

Praises be to the Lord in all types of weather!

(p.s. won't have the computer all week so I'll post next week.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The day after

I keep hearing people say "the worst is over", meaning the funeral. But I feel like the worst is just beginning. Family members are already flying out today and now we have to cope with normal everyday life without Roy. I think that is going to be the hardest...going through our daily routines in such a way that we look ok on the outside but holding back tears here and there or lying awake at night thinking about him. (And I mean "we" as in those closest to Roy, not necessarily me. I already see this struggle on Ben's face this morning.)

It was a closed-casket ceremony but the day before family members were allowed to view the body. I didn't feel any need to do this but at the last second, since the boys seemed content with Grandma and the others, I decided to join Ben, his sister and a couple others. I'm so glad I was able to be there for Ben. It was a really strange thing being there. He was dressed in white in a white coffin in a small room with candles and roses. When we walked in he had a white satin cloth over his face that was so dramatically removed once we'd all gathered around the casket. Having seen way too many movies, Ben and I feared he was going to wake up suddenly and grab us or something. But Ben's sister eased everyone's akwardness.

She went right up to her dad's cold, lifeless body and started caressing his hands, his cheeks and running her fingers through his hair. It was so beautiful. It was so loving. That is when I lost it. That is when I realized the magnitude of this loss...losing a parent! Although Ben's sister lives in New York she talked to her dad every single night for at least one hour. She hadn't seen him in many months. Yet she was so thankful just to see his dead body and to have the opportunity to hold him again. The rest of us stayed there about 30 minutes. She was in there with the body for over an hour. In the end Ben was in the parking lot beeping the horn for her to come out!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home at the Nystads

So we're home in Båtsfjord now, Ben's hometown that is. He and Rio arrived a few days before Phoenix and I. Naturally it is strange to be here without Ben's dad. I guess I would say that everyone is doing alright now. Ben's mom said things got easier once her two children arrived home. There isn't a lot of crying like in the first days but there is still that huge sense of loss lingering in the house.

Ben's dad was one of 10 siblings. They are spread all over Norway and Germany but they will all be arriving for the funeral which is on Tuesday. Many of them are here already and it is great that the house is full of them and others filing in and out. There are lots of stories shared and lots of laughter. On the table is a digital frame constantly displaying images of Roy. I'm so glad that they are celebrating him in this way and not "hiding" everything that reminds them of him.

As for me, I haven't cried a lot. I've never lost anyone really close to me. I cried when Ben told me the news and then I cried when he and Rio left for Båtsfjord. Ben is so curious as to why I haven't cried. Fortunately he doesn't believe that I didn't love his dad. He's just wondering if it my faith or a strength? I'm asking myself the same question.

I guess one reason I haven't cried so much is that I don't feel like it is my place. I want to give my support to those who need it- Ben, his sis and his mom. He was my father-in-law and we lived in different countries most of the time. Again, I just don't feel like it is my place. I mean I don't want any of them comforting me in a time that they really need the comfort. But also, and this is very strange as Ben made clear to me, I just don't fear death. Of course losing someone who you shared life with is terrible but he was a faithful Jehovah's Witness and therefore everyone believes that he is in a good place so I just feel like it is a time to celebrate him, be thankful for the moments that we did share with him and to serve as a reminder that life is short and we better live it to the fullest- for God, for our family or for whatever your deepest cause is. Of course there is an emptiness but in the end I have chosen to believe that God is good and deserves our praise even in pain and emptiness. Arg, am I heartless? Am I overconfident, stupid? Am I not dealing with some issues I have?

It is a very strange time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In memory of

Ben's father, Phoenix and Rio's grandfather, passed away suddenly on March 16.