Daniel at work

The chime sounded on my phone a couple of days ago. As I checked it, I discovered a text from one of Daniel’s teachers. No message, just a photo.

How happy it made me to see him working so diligently during Norwegian class!
For those who have recently asked, our boys attend an International Baccalaureate School. The majority of the teaching is in English, but they have about 5 hours of Norwegian class each week.

Surgery Next Week

Apparently my last post about surgery was confusing. I have not had my surgery yet. It is scheduled for this Monday, January 19.For those that aren’t caught up, I’m the lucky 39 year old that gets to have a hysterectomy (more on that HERE). Not the most exciting thing to deal with, but I’ve had some health issues that necessitate it. And I am totally ready to get it behind me. In fact, I was totally ready back on December 3 when I was originally scheduled for surgery. But as most of you now know, that didn’t happen (read about that HERE).

I could write a book about that whole experience. About the difficulty in understanding language if it involves medical terminology (WAY outside my limited Norwegian vocabulary), or when I have already been given strong medication. Or about the importance of bedside manner when delivering the news that you’ve sat in a hospital bed for seven hours, but the surgery will not take place (two different people delivered the news, in two very different ways). Or about how much it meant for friends to check on me, and especially those who heard the postponement news and replied with simple messages like “I am so sorry. That really stinks.” Because it did. Plain and simple. Or about how my mom worked so hard to get here to help out, getting bumped from flights and waiting in Minnesota and Amsterdam for hours on end, only to arrive to the news that surgery wasn’t happening.

Yeah, I could write a lot. But the fact is, it didn’t happen. And maybe it was God’s plan that it didn’t happen, or maybe it just didn’t happen because life doesn’t go the way you planned.

But I am hopeful that Monday will end this part of the story! They have me placed earlier on the schedule, so it is less likely for me to get bumped this time. And while we don’t have a family member to help out this time around, I’m certain that my amazing husband will manage just fine!

I’ll try to keep you posted…

Signs

As I’ve said before, I always enjoy the signs we see when traveling. Sometimes because they’re funny, sometimes because they’re ridiculous, and sometimes because they’re true.Here are some of our favorites during our first two years outside the states…

From Budapest –
Not just any breakfast – THE breakfast
Ingen fart, uten bart (no speed without a mustache!)

 

You can’t live well, love well, or sleep well –
if you don’t eat well

 

Poop signs are always funny

 

From Paris – Beware of words

 

Ah, the international bathroom signage

 

Please don’t drive into the fjord!

 

Christmas Cheer Wrap-up / Feedback Request

Below is a quick rundown of the Christmas Cheer blog posts.I am trying to think of some new themes to write about in the coming months. Do you have any ideas? Any suggestions or requests? As I mentioned in an earlier post (here), I want to be more open about the struggles I face, whether that be as a mom, a wife, an expat, or from another facet of life. So from time to time I will be sharing things along those lines. But are there other topics that might be of interest? Let me know!

Christmas Cheer Blog Posts:

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2: Oslo
  3. Part 3: Decorated Trees
  4. Part 4: Sandefjord Corner Boutique
  5. Part 5: Coca-Cola Santa
  6. Part 6: Christmas in Jail?
  7. Part 7: Santa’s little helpers
  8. Part 8: Nisser on our cups
  9. Part 9: Jul med Ika
  10. Part 10: Stars
  11. Part 11: Knitting Christmas
  12. Part 12: Christmas Music
  13. Part 13: Bergen Windows
  14. Part 14: White Christmas
  15. Part 15: Bryggen i Bergen
  16. Part 16: Early Christmas
  17. Part 17: A bit more of Oslo
  18. Part 18: Quick and Easy Craft
  19. Part 19: Sometimes it’s Tough
  20. Merry Christmas from Sandefjord

Budapest: Dove family Top Ten

We had a great time in Budapest. As we normally do, we looked for ways to make the most of our time without spending a lot of money. So we didn’t pay to go in a lot of places (only the cave church, and it was a nominal fee). But you can see and do a lot for free!I thought I would share some of our favorites from our time there (in no particular order).

  1. Castle Hill – we explored the area twice, once in the daylight, and another time as the sun was setting. Our walk down the winding paths at sunset was especially enjoyable, with so many spots to stop for a great view of the city and the Danube.

     

     

     

     

  2. Matthias Church – we only saw it from the outside but it was beautiful.
  3. Bridges (the bridges across the Danube between Buda and Pest) – we walked across Margaret Bridge, Chain Bridge and Liberty bridge. The best was walking Chain Bridge at night.

     

     

     

     

  4. St. Stephens Basilica – only saw it from the outside but it was pretty and there was a nice Christmas market just outside.

     

  5. Mexican restaurants – our favorite kind of food, and we have no Mexican restaurants in Norway. We enjoyed the food at Iguana. But we kept finding ourselves going back to Arriba Taqueria (similar to Moe’s or Chipotle).
  6. Central Market Hall busy, crowded, and lots of interesting smells! But a great place to purchase souvenirs, including paprika and goose liver pate. And be sure to stop at Fakanal for goulash (we tried the stew and the soup).

     

     

     

  7. The Gellért Cave Church – heated by the thermal springs in Gellért Hill

     

  8. Memento Park – a ‘statue graveyard’ of Communist monuments

     

     

     

     

     

  9. Váci utca- a great pedestrian street with shopping, restaurants, and so much to see

     

     

  10. City Park and Heroes’ Square – a large park that is home to a circus, zoo, ice skating arena, thermal bath, and a Transylvanian castle. And Heroes Square reminded me a little bit of Independence Square in Kyiv (Ukraine).

     

     

     

Surgery: let’s try this again / Operasjon: en gang til

SURGERY RESCHEDULED…As you may have read on a previous post (here), I was supposed to have surgery in early December. But it didn’t happen. I was third on the schedule, and apparently the two before me took longer than expected.

I’ve been anxiously waiting on word from the hospital regarding my rescheduled date. We left for our time in Hungary and I still hadn’t heard anything. But as we arrived home yesterday we checked the mail, and there it was! I am on the schedule for January 19. And based on the time that I have to be there, it looks like I’m early on the schedule, too.

So here we go again! I’ll keep you all posted…

Christmas Cheer (part 19): Sometimes it’s tough

Christmas 2012 was our first outside of Georgia. We were living in Vancouver at the time. Thankfully we had quite a few good friends around and it made things much easier.

Christmas 2013 was our first in Norway. Everything was new and it was cool to learn about the traditions. And to be honest, Zack’s horrible stomach flu made it hard to think too much about what we were missing.
But for whatever reason, our third Christmas away from the states seems to have hit us harder.
I hope this doesn’t come off as ungrateful. We are very happy here. We have good friends. We feel at home. We’ve been invited to a variety of activities and get-togethers during the holidays. We are attempting to make some of our own traditions. And we have really had a lot of fun the past few weeks. But some days are just harder than others. And the holidays can hit pretty hard.
Thankfully, we had a plan in place. We’ve learned that scheduling a trip just after Christmas works wonders. It provides a nice family gift without cluttering the house with things that are quickly forgotten. It gives us something to look forward to. And it minimizes the post-holidays blues (that seem to intensifying overseas). So we looked for the cheapest tickets and that is the main parties of our gift to each other as a family. Last year was Paris, and this year we ended up in Budapest. (Crazy as it sounds, it is almost always a good bit cheaper for us to fly to another country than to vacation somewhere in our country!)Weare currently enjoying a week of rest and relaxation, including time with some US friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. And lots of Mexican food, something we can’t get in Norway. In fact, we went out for Mexican food the last three nights!

Here are a few photos of our time here so far. I’ll share more in the coming days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What next? / New year, new opportunities

Just a few hours ago, we found ourselves sitting at the airport in Budapest, with some time to spare before we departed for home. While Zack and Daniel explored shops and walked around, William and I talked about setting goals for 2015. Lots of things were discussed, including reading the Bible more, social goals (cross-cultural living can often make you a bit less social), family time, and improving areas of our lives.

What is it about the changing of the calendar that gives us the feeling of wanting to and even the motivation that we need to change, or refocus, to start something new, or to put something behind us? As we say goodbye to one year and hello to another, why is it that most people take time to evaluate and reflect?

Now don’t get me wrong. I do like the idea of looking at a new year as a blank page filled with opportunity and promise. There are definitely things I want to focus on and things I need to set aside.

But the reality is I want – and need – to do this every day. Each day is filled with opportunity. Each time I wake, I am given the chance to choose.

I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. (Psalms 3:5 HCSB)
Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:23 NLT)
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. (Psalms 42:8 NLT)

So for 2015, I choose to approach each day in search of opportunities to show kindness, to put love into action, to be an encouragement, to learn from my mistakes, to use wisely what I’ve been given, and to be open about my struggles.

The last few months have especially revealed to me the importance of that last item. I have always been quick to share when things are going well. But when I open up about what I’m struggling with, it leaves me vulnerable. However, I’m learning that my vulnerability is minuscule in comparison to what else can happen.

My openness often allows others to know they are not alone. We joke that misery loves company, but I think it is so valuable to know you are not alone in your valley, and to have someone to walk along with. And almost without fail, people who have previously faced similar experiences will share and encourage me.
Opening up also shows that life isn’t always sunshine and roses. Sometimes it helps others understand the not-so-glamorous side of living outside of your passport country – and maybe gives them some insight into what other friends might be dealing with.
And this openness gives me the opportunity to share my faith, and God the opportunity to demonstrate His goodness to a broader audience, whether it be through the removal of the challenge, or through the way He sustains me in spite of the challenge. I want to be open to God using me to demonstrate who He is, regardless of how He chooses to do so.I also have a couple of concrete goals I want to focus on, but I believe they will contribute to these goals and this new frame of mind for the new year.

Do you like to set goals or make resolutions as you enter a new year? Are there things you will be trying in 2015? Habits you will try to leave behind in 2014? How will you approach this new year and these new opportunities?

Godt nytt år! Happy New Year!

Sending greetings from lovely (and COLD) Budapest, where we are already three hours into 2015…

Hope everyone has a safe and happy time celebrating New Years Eve. We’ve enjoyed a fun but busy day, exploring more of the city with friends.
Here’s to a new year filled with lots of opportunities to improve areas that need improvement, get rid of things that are holding you back, focus on things that matter beyond just today, and find ways to show love and help others.