Wednesday, July 31, 2013

House Hunting In Paris

Once we were in Paris it was time to look for a place to live.  I was able to rent a 4 bedroom apartment for our first 2 weeks in Paris.  It is close to the area we hope to live, it has a view of the Seine, and has room for all of us.  We found it on  There have been a few glitches with the rental but over all it has helped us to be in a home instead of a hotel during this time.
We are working with a relocation firm provided through Jon's company.  They take care of so many details that we don't have to worry about.  They had taken our preferences for a home and done a very thorough search.  Our realtor, Frederique, was gracious enough to handle our enthusiastic suggestions and questions.  

On Tuesday we met at the first house and started our search.  Frederique is French, but has lived in the USA and London and is extremely helpful.  She understands the cultural challenges for us and was able to help answer a lot of our questions.  She explained that most people moving here to Paris do so in late June.  Since we are house hunting at the end of July there were not many options.  The people of Paris go on vacation for the month of August.  There were a couple of houses that we wanted to look at that were not available because the agent had already left for vacation.  

We did have 6 houses that met our criteria that we were able to look at.  The house that we thought was our first choice rented the night before we went looking.  It is amazing how fast the real estate goes here.

The first house we looked at would have worked for us, but we were ready to keep looking.   The kids loved the swing set in the front yard.  

The second house was not an option for us for many reasons.  
The third house was an amazing house with a huge yard.  The house was built in 1880 and had been renovated at different times over the years.  The creativity of bathroom arrangements was impressive.  It was a little out of our price range.

The fourth house was not one we were looking forward to seeing, but when we pulled up it was adorable.  It was built in the late 1800's and original portions of the house were used as an aviary for doves.  
There was a play house in the front yard and the kids were smitten.  

There was a tower on the property next door too.  The history buff in Jon was defininitely intrigued.  The agent told us that a writer lived in the tower so he could write undisturbed.  It is at least as old as the house.

Then it was lunch time!  The food here is always so good!
The fifth house was another really neat house, the living room/dining room was huge with gorgeous exposed beams.  One of the bedrooms upstairs had a loft portion of the room.  This one quickly became the kids' favorite.  
The 6th and final house was the one we were most hopeful about.  It is very close to Jon's office, within a reasonable distance to Addie and Ben's school and has a separate guest area in the basement.  When we turned down the street and had an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower we were really hopeful.

Both boys had fallen asleep in the car so Jon stayed with them while I went and walked through the house.  Addie came with me and we were both really impressed by the fig tree, rope swing and full blackberry bushes before we even entered the house.  The rest of the house did not disappoint.  When I saw the master suite I almost cried, that is what happens when you take a tired, pregnant woman house shopping and she finds an oasis.  The walk in closet, claw foot tub, walk in tiled shower, and separate sitting area all combined to make the perfect room for us. 

After looking at the house I went out and had Jon take a look.  We had agreed to take it before he was done looking.  Everything was put into motion before we left.  
Today we found out that the owner has accepted our offer to rent the house and the relocation company is putting together all of the paperwork.  If all goes well we will sign and get the keys next week, just in time for our temporary apartment rental to be over.  
God is so good in everything, but I feel like we have been especially blessed when it comes to our housing.  It is something that I always worry about, even when I try not to.  Moving internationally has shown me how out of my control the house hunting is, but we have never been homeless and I don't think we will end up that way this time.  
There are still quite a few details that all need to come together to make this a seamless transition, but I am confident things will continue to work out.  We are praying that the bank wire transfers are successful, that we are able to arrange our shipment of goods from Norway and our shipment of goods from Houston can be delivered quickly and that there is someone from the French Gas company available to come out and turn our gas back on.  There is a very good chance that everyone will be on vacation for August so this might be a problem.  
There will be lots more pictures to come as we get settled into our new home.  Addison is almost beside herself she is so happy to have found a place to live.  I think she can sense my nervous energy.  
Thank you for everyone that has been thinking of and praying for us.  I know that those prayers have been heard and answered as we have gone through this process.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Best Last Day

Thursday was our last full day in Oslo.  We had already moved from our house to a hotel.  The house was all packed up, the movers just had to load the truck.  Our hotel was right down town so we took advantage of our location, a free morning and a beautiful Oslo day to check out the Opera House.  It is one of those places we had never been to before, but had always meant to see.  It was only a 10 minute walk and then we were enjoying this Oslo icon.
Ben did not like the bright sun, but I love that you can see the Holmenkollen ski jump and the Cathedral behind Ben's right shoulder.

I love it when they are sweet.

My loves.

There is our hotel in the background.  I highly recommend the Radisson Blu near Oslo S.  

A happy family picture.

Trying to see if we could spot our church.

After a wonderful morning at the Opera House we headed to the home of some friends.  They fixed an amazing brunch for us.  Look at this spread, and almost everything was homemade.  The egg cups were amazing and I had three bowls of the homemade granola.

The kids got to play with a guitar.

Carolina and Addie had fun working on a few craft projects.

Ben spent a little time playing on Daddy's phone.

Addie came out of the room looking like a beautiful bride.

Ben came out as Iron Man.

Of course Garrett wanted to be Iron Man too.

Then they started fighting.

Now Addie is a spy.

The mask was the final touch.

Carolina and I showing off our bellies, she is due any day now and I still have another 3 months!  It will be so much fun to introduce these two little guys one day.

To finish off our fantastic day we met up with some great friends for a last meal at TGIFridays.  Jon and baby Lara, or Lala, as Garrett calls her.

After dinner we took a stroll down Karl Johans Gate for some ice cream.  Garrett wanted to hold Stefan's hand.

The boys chatting it up.

Ben lost his first balloon and Stefan got him a new one.  Ben was so happy to have his balloon replaced.

Such great friends to spend our last evening with.  

If you have ever moved you know that the last day(s) can be so busy and bittersweet that getting to see friends isn't always possible.  We felt so blessed to get to enjoy our city and say good bye to our friends all in one day.  We were not in Norway for very long, but I can't imagine our story as a family without this chapter in it.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Having Fun In Oslo

We are in Oslo right now and we are basically just waiting for all the paperwork to come through so we can make our big move.  We have been trying to squeeze in a few fun things that we have wanted to do before we leave Norway.  There are a ton of things that we haven't gotten the change to do here in Norway, but we have decided that we will come back here on vacation one day when all of the kids are older.  Then we can do all of the fun hikes and tours that Norway has to offer.

Oslo does have some fun activities while the weather is nice.  There is a beach in Sandvika that we have wanted to take the kids to.  This is the same spot that we took the kids out sledding on the ice.  It is amazing how much the area changes through the seasons.  
Now they have a fun set of inflatables out in the water and a cute little beach.

The only draw back?  You guessed it, COLD water.

Garrett was not sure how he felt about all this.

I love this sign where they tell you that the water is cold.

Jon was trying to get himself ready to go under.

I was so proud of him, he is such an amazing dad!  They ended up not making it too much further out.  It was dinner time and we had not planned to stay that long.  In case you were wondering I was siting on the beach in jeans and a t-shirt enjoying taking photos.

The next few pictures were where I started to do the 10 on 10, but I got lost somewhere around nap time.  I thought the pictures were still cute enough to share.

My superhero kiddos wearing long sleeves and jeans in July.  Norway has some crazy weather.

Addie went to the grocery store with me.

Wild strawberries growing in our yard.

They are so cute and tiny.

Ben- Ben wanted me to take his picture.

Jon's faithful car has been sold.  We are in the process of selling my car.  There are so many things to do now that we are ready to move.

Saying good bye to friends is always a hard part of moving.

Tonight we had a family outing that might not seem like that big of a deal, but we had a really good time as a family and that is nothing to take for granted.  Jon spent 3 1/2 days of last week in Paris and the kids and I missed him a ton.  Tonight we decided to head into town for dinner.  Right now Jon and I do not have a valid driver's license for Norway so we got to make the 20 minute walk to the closest T-bane station.  We rode the T-bane, or subway, into downtown and then we walked around.  Here is Addie in front of one of many beautiful flower displays. 

We headed to Aker Brygge, a very popular area with a lot of restaurants right on the water.  There were musicians performing and it was a very festive atmosphere.  There were also a couple of people blowing giant bubbles for the kids, they were one of the more clever street performers I have seen.  

Our kids LOVED the bubbles.  And yes, we let our boys bring their plastic swords with them.  They were going to check out a pirate ship later and they needed to have their swords with them.

I love this one of Ben about to attack that bubble.

All of the kids were having so much fun.

It was such a fun time.

Then it was off to find a place to eat dinner.  There are a ton of restaurants, but so many of them were full.  We kept walking and went around to a more secluded section of the strip and found a great place that was not busy at all.  We were able to sit on the patio and enjoy a really good meal.

This is a picture of the kids meal.  All three of our kids asked for the salmon.  I wasn't sure if they were going to eat it or not, but they all did great.  I love how fancy the presentation was, even for the kids meal.  Ben did seem confused and kept asking me about the grass on his salmon.  Once we got that out of the way he was an enthusiastic eater.

Another enthusiastic eater was this guy.  He ordered the mussels and he was very excited to dig in.

The Norwegians use an empty shell to pull the mussels out of the shell. 

We discovered that Garrett likes mussels too.

After dinner we walked along the water, had a yummy treat,  and enjoyed a beautiful evening.  Here is Addie on the dock of Aker Brygge with Oslo's City Hall in the background.  

More beautiful flowers and happy kiddos and momma!

That is a 27 week belly shadow.  Malachi is doing great and is a big mover and shaker.  The kids love to put their hands on my belly and feel him kick.  Jon could see my belly moving from across the room today.  I love feeling all of his kicks and rolls!