Where are you from?

It seems like a simple question. Yet, when the flight attendant asked our 10 year old those four little words earlier this week, we realized that sometimes it isn’t necessarily so easy.

 

Daniel looked at her, and we listened to see how he would respond. Would he name his country of birth, where he spent his first five years? Or maybe his country of citizenship, where he has extended family?

But without any real hesitation, he answered “Norway!”

The flight attendant went on to ask other questions, and complimented him on speaking English so well. A bit funny for us to hear of course, although we later joked that he could have responded “thanks, it’s my second language!”

But as we thought back over it, we also reminded ourselves that Daniel probably does have more of a sense of home here in Norway than anywhere else. While there were 5 years in Ukraine, he really doesn’t remember that. And he loves the idea of America, but most of it is based on our conversations and not the 2 years he lived there. And then had a short 4 month stint in Canada.

But for the last 2 1/2 years, he has called Norway home. He has lived in this house longer than anywhere else. He knows his way around. He has good friends. We joke that he is like a little celebrity or politician, rarely walking into the town without someone recognizing him and saying hi. He feels at home here.

This is one of those interesting things that would not have crossed my mind as a child. In fact, I would likely not have given it much thought even five years ago. But for our kids, home really does become less about a place, and more about a feeling, a sense of belonging, the spot wherever they are together with immediate family.

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For more on our sense of ‘home’, check out THIS POST.

Cross-Cultural Living: lessons from a pack of Pop-Tarts

Somewhere in the skies between our sleepy little town of Sandefjord and the bustling capital of the Netherlands, we sat side by side. Trays down, awaiting whatever culinary masterpiece the Dutch airline had carefully selected as the snack for coach.I watched as my 13-year-old seated next to me opened the cheese and yogurt sandwich, and ate it rather quickly. While it’s not so odd for him to devour food, this did not seek like something he would consume with such haste.

But in a matter of a couple of minutes, the tiny paper box was emptied of its contents. And then he began rummaging through his backpack. Soon, he produced on his tray table a rectangular silver package.

I looked at his face and saw a look of pure happiness. He carefully opened the wrapper and withdrew its contents: two frosted cherry-filled pastries.

Most American teenagers would recognize these without a second thought. And most would probably not understand the gravity of this moment (okay, a bit melodramatic, but humor me…). But for my boy, this was a rare treat: a delicacy in its time and place. A gift from recent American visitors, my blonde-headed man-child sat and relished every last bite of his beloved Pop-Tarts.

As I watched, I was first reminded that often the simple things are the best. Big vacations we’ve taken are punctuated in our children’s minds by the night we stayed up late eating junk food and watching movies. Or the time they got to ‘skate’ in their shoes across a frozen parking lot. Or the fun of taking a bath in a garden tub (we only have a shower).

I also thought about the fact that you often don’t realize your desires or affections until they’re removed from you. Or maybe you don’t realize the things you really could do without until they aren’t right under foot. Not that my boy is driven by a love of Pop-Tarts. But the metaphor is there. Something that was once inexpensive and readily available has now become rare, and a highly-prized indulgence.

This non-event reminded me of how we need to take time to enjoy the things we love. Again, it was only Pop-Tarts. But how many times do I zip through moments of significance, and instead live in constant anticipation, continually waiting for whatever is next? While there is always a danger of letting the small joys of life become big distractions, there is also a balance.

We all have certain interests, passions. So long as they don’t distract from who we were created to be, we should take the time to enjoy them.

All this from a pack of Pop-Tarts. Who knew what a twin-pack of toaster pastries could hold?






For those who’ve followed along for awhile, you might remember that we also make our own, healthier version of Pop-Tarts from time to time (read about that here).

What’s it like: Bread

When we first moved here, we would buy the least expensive bread we could find at the grocery store.And then we tried some other types, and we learned that at least with bread, you get what you pay for.

These days, we like to pick up a loaf every couple of days from our local bakery. It ends up being less than what some of the high-end grocery store loaves cost, and it tastes so much better.

The local bakery, Ivar Halvorsen, is a short walk from our house (5-7 minutes). And everything they have is delicious!

Photo cred for this post goes to William. He has begun learning a bit about photography, and I think he has a very good eye for it!

Baker Halvorsen
Chr. Hvidts Plass 3
3210 Sandefjord

 

Independence Day

So I’m almost a month late in posting this, but better late than never, I guess!

We had a fun time celebrating American Independence Day here in Sandefjord, Norway.

 

In America, I wanted the fourth of July to land on a weekday, because that meant a work holiday. But as expats, it is really nice when it falls on the weekend. It makes it much easier to invite friends and celebrate together!

We had about 35 gathered on our landlord’s balcony.

 

We enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, lots of good side dishes and desserts, and even s’mores!

 

It was even better because one of my best friends from America was here celebrating with us!

 

 

We are thankful for good friends and good food. And we look forward to getting together again soon!