Monday, December 31, 2012

Over the River and through the Woods

Before we ever talked about moving to Norway my family started planning a Maine Christmas for this year.  My Mom was born and raised in Maine and a lot of her family still lives there.  I was born in Maine, and I lived there off and on until the end of middle school.  I have taken Jon and the kids a couple of times, but never in the winter.
When I talk about going to Maine, it is not the popular tourist destination that we are headed to, but several hours north in Aroostook County.  The hardest part of going home is actually getting there, it is a long expensive process when you are coming from another state.  This year we had the added challenge of crossing the Atlantic.  The logistics of traveling with 3 kids and all our bags took a lot more planning than usual.  Thankfully we have a some great friends that were willing to help us in Oslo.  The morning we left town our friend met us at the train station and took our car, they were able to use it for the time that we were gone and we didn't have to worry about paying long term parking, it was a win-win.  We took the Flytoget express train from Oslo S to Gardermoen airport.  It is so convenient and quick!  We planned extra time into our trip so the kids could play on the airplane play area.

It doesn't hurt that the only Starbucks in Norway is located right next to this play area.  We let the kids work out some energy and then we headed upstairs to check in.
This was our first time flying Iceland Air and I wasn't sure what to expect.  We had a good review from a friend who flew this same route not long ago, but adding kids into the equation can change things.  I am so happy to say we were very pleased with our experience.   The airline seems to go out of their way to make the flight easier for families.  They give headphones to all the children on the plane, each seat has their own entertainment system with a good selection of Kids' movies and shows.  The kids all received a postcard they could color and mail, an activity book and colored pencils.  They do a drink for adults during the flight, but the kids each got a snack box with a warm entree, a juice box and several other snacks.  It was great for the kids and Jon and I may have tried out some of their snacks too.  At the end of both flights on the way there each of the kids received a bag of treats with 4 different kinds of candy.  The kids absolutely loved this!  The other nice thing about flying Iceland Air is the route they take up to Iceland means a quick trip to Boston.  The first flight was 2 1/2 hours and the second flight was only 5 hours.  Our flight left Oslo about an hour late, but they held the plane for us in Reykjavik so we walked directly from our first flight and got on our second.   Iceland Air also includes 2 suitcases in the price of your ticket, even in economy.  There prices were very competitive and when you look at the alternative flights that were 20+ hours of travel with layovers we were very lucky to have found these flights.  I would definitely use Iceland Air again!

The kids did pretty well, both boys slept quite a bit and Addie was good.
Showing off the iPad.

 Bringing sippy cups for the boys helps keep messes to a minimum.
 All ready to go!
 Addie finally fell asleep in the last 45 minutes of flying.
 Garrett slept really well, I love having his car seat to buckle him in.  It is a pain to get it on and off the plane,but worth it.  

In Boston we got to our rental car, loaded everyone up and headed to Chick Fil A.  I had looked up a location on our way and it worked out perfectly.  There are no CFA's in Maine so this was our one chance to have it and it was delicious.  We kept on driving and eventually we made it to Freeport, Maine.  This is where we met up with Nannie, GeeGee, Aunt Laura, Nana, Uncle Bim, Aunt Wendy, Uncle Joe and Mike.  We were all the family that had to travel home to be in Maine for the holidays.   The kids were beyond excited when we got to the hotel.  They have missed all of our family so much.

The next day in Freeport I shopped.  I had lists and I found almost everything I was looking for.  I did enough shopping that USAA called to confirm all the charges.  We did a lot of shopping at L.L. Bean, Jon and I got new parkas, hats, gloves and other warm weather gear.  After a day of shopping for me and fun with grand parents for the kiddos we loaded up all the vehicles and headed our caravan north.

If you haven't noticed I love taking sleeping pictures of my kids.  My mom loves sleeping pictures too and still takes them when she can.  

 A northern treat, Dunkin Donuts!

We stopped in Bangor to shop for groceries at Sam's and we made one more stop on our way north.

There is an Amish store just outside of Houlton, Maine.  This store only uses gas lights and sky lights to see.  They have an antique hand crank cash register.  And they have a collection of knives that are very reasonable and are some of my favorite knives of all time.  We have good friends that live in Houlton that introduced us to this store and we make a point of stopping whenever we can.

This is where you get off of I-95 and continue heading north to get to my home town.  I love this sign, I have driven by it so many times over the years.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.  We are having a wonderful trip with all of our family here in Maine.  I hope that you are all having a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus this Christmas season.  

I have a lot of great photos from this trip, I can't wait to get through all of them and share.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

God Jul

God Jul from Noway!  We are starting to get into the Christmas spirit here.  When deciding what to bring with us to Norway we decided to just bring a few Christmas decorations.  I didn't take much time to go through our decorations in those final weeks that we had to prepare for the move.  I grabbed what I could get to easily and figured if I couldn't remember then I wasn't going to miss it now.  There are few things that I wish I would have grabbed, but for the most part it is liberating to only have a few decorations.  I have picked up a few things, but I have tried to only buy unique decorations that we can include with the rest of our decorations one day.  

This is our tree from Ikea, it is only a couple of feet tall, but it is up on a little table and it is just perfect.  

Our stockings are hung in the window, high above little hands that would love to pull them down and play with them.   These will be going back to the US with us when we travel for Christmas.  
 Our beautiful nativity is in our dining room.
 I found the little red God Jul tin at my favorite thrift store here, I love the red that Norwegians use at Christmas.
 Our Advent book that we are using again this year.  Thanks to Becky Marshall at Champion Forest Baptist Church for taking the time to put this together.  We love the Bible verses that help our children understand why we celebrate Christmas and the suggested activities are great too.  Some of the Houston specific ones make me homesick, but also ready to find new activities and start new traditions.
A Norwegian tradition we have been trying out is the Jule Brus, or Christmas juice.  This was just like orange flavored soda.  We have tried another one that had a little bit sweeter flavor.  They are all quite tasty and fun to try.  
 God Jul everyone! We are looking forward to spending our Christmas with family.  We won't get to see everyone we would like to, but we are going to see A LOT of people we love!

I will be back with more stories of international travel with 3 little ones, many fun Christmas memories made, and all of my shopping finds.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Garrett

Saturday was Garrett's 2nd birthday.  We had a fun little party planned for Garrett, but I woke up with a fever, headache, sore throat, and aches.  Unfortunately we didn't want to share our germs so we had to call our friends and cancel the party.  Garrett was able to open his presents, Nannie sent Garrett a very useful gift, Mr. Clean magic erasers!  
 The biggest hit of the day was the singing card from Nannie, GeeGee and Aunt Laura.  He has listened to it over and over again.
 It took Garrett a little while to figure out how to open his present, but once he got the hang of it he was a crazy man.  Christmas is going to be so much fun this year.
 Everyone was very excited about the train set.  After presents Jon got the kids dressed and took them to a friends house to go sledding.  They all had so much fun, and I had fun sleeping on the couch.
 After dinner I managed to frost the cupcakes I had made and Garrett was able to blow out his candle.  He was a champ at blowing out his candle!  He is growing up so fast.

This 2 candle has been around for a while.  It was first used at Abby and Blythe's 2nd birthday and then Ben's second birthday and now Garrett's 2nd birthday.  I love that this little candle has been a part of so many birthday celebrations.

We love this little man so much and we are so thankful that he is a part of our family!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Santa Lucia

December 13 is Santa Lucia Day.  Before moving to Norway I had very little idea what Santa Lucia Day was.  This is Kirsten, an American Girl Doll, from Sweden.  She was 
There is a story about Santa Lucia Day in What Women Fear, by Angie Smith.  That was about all I knew until this year.    
Addie had a note sent home that she needed to wear a long white shirt and tinsel for her hair.  The boys and I were able to go to the school and see the show.  The children walked through the halls with small lights and they were singing the Santa Lucia song.  
Here is Addie making her way into the gym.
 She was so happy to know that we were there.
The kids sang this song for us and then we all sang along with them.  Two students told the story of Santa Lucia, one in Norwegian and one in English.  People used to think that December 13th was the day with the least amount of sunlight, they also thought that the animals could speak that night.  They had someone that would stay up with the animals to hear what they had to say.  That is what I got while trying to wrangle two squirmy little boys.  

Later that afternoon we went back for Addie's Christmas program and Jon was able to go with us!  Here is sweet Ben with Jon.

Here are the boys watching the show.  

 Addie's class did several fun songs.
 Garrett was so excited to see Addie.  He started yelling her name and pointing to her, I love it!
Here is the last part of Addie's show, they sang the Australian version of jingle bells.  Addie was a sheep and she did a GREAT job, she is the one on the right.  The whole show was a lot of fun, eve if we did have to leave a little early.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Jonathan and a Christmas Market

Sunday was Jon's actual birthday, he got to blow out a candle on his birthday muffin.  Now that he is 31 we have gone back to just one candle.  
 Then it was off to Addie's school for their Christmas market.  Addison got a chance to do some crafts, one of her favorite things.  Here she is decorating gingerbread cookies.
 She is one happy little girl.
 Here is the finished project, beautiful.
 One of the activities was to reach into this box and pull out a prize.  Addie kept cheating and looking at what she was getting and putting it back.
 And pin the nose on the reindeer.  The boys did get to do a couple of activities, but I wasn't there when they had their chance.
 One thing we all did together was see Santa.  The picture of all of us is on Facebook.  This was the after picture of Garrett. Even after we left the room he was terrified.  He stayed like this for several minutes, not even eating his cookie!  He finally relaxed and enjoyed his cookie, but I don't think we will be going to see Santa again this holiday season.
 Our sweet little boy.
 When we had eaten lunch, done some shopping, saw Santa, and had a special treat we headed outside to the playground.  The kids love doing snow angels.  I love watching them, they are so sweet.
 I am loving all of the pre Christmas activities here in Oslo,  This is a list of activities in Oslo, I just wish we had more time.