Tag Archives: William

Back to School

William MY1 (7th grade) ~ Daniel PY4 (4th grade)

As of about two weeks ago, William and Daniel are back to school!

They’re starting their fourth school year in Norway (the first was only a half of a year, but you get what I mean…). We continue to be thankful for the education they are receiving at the international baccalaureate (IB) school in our city.

We get a lot of questions about the boys’ school here. While I cannot speak for others, our family’s experience with IB school has been great. The way they teach is less about sitting at a desk & looking at a book, and more about learning hands-on. I feel our boys are getting a well-rounded education and experience. The IB approach is a whole-learning focus, seeking to create lifelong learners who are inquisitive, thoughtful, involved, and engaged. Its focus does not isolate academic subjects, but uses units of study that incorporate a variety of subjects and concepts at the same time.

The boys love their school experience, and that makes us happy! They have good relationships with the teachers and staff. The classes are fairly small (in primary school there are typically 15 – 20 students). And I think another benefit is the multi-cultural aspect of international schools. A lot of their friends have at least one Norwegian parent, and the majority have one foreign/non-Norwegian/expat/immigrant parent. So they have classmates who come from all over the world. And their teachers are very international as well!

Daniel is now in fourth grade, or PY4. The PY (Primary Years) program covers grades 1 through 6. Daniel is excited that he is now in the upper grades part of the PY program. This means more responsibility and more self-sufficiency. This is a big change and challenge for him, but also a great opportunity!

William is in his first year of the MY (Middle Years) program, MY1. In American school it would be 7th grade. He is still in the same building as before, but on a different floor. He is changing classes, has a lot more responsibility, and must do much more without teacher guidance. This is the first year of foreign language, and he chose Spanish. He laughed yesterday as he said that he’s basically working on three language right now: English, Norwegian, and Spanish.

So we’re geared up and ready for a new school year.

Here’s a look at the boys’ first day of school each year since arriving in Norway…

February 2013
Daniel PY1 ~ William PY4

 

August 2013
Daniel PY2 ~ William PY5
August 2014
William PY6 ~ Daniel PY3
August 2015
William MY1 ~ Daniel PY4

 

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).

Exhibition

As I’ve mentioned before, our boys attend an IB, or International Baccalaureate School. IB schools teach using units or themes, in a more hands-on manner, and all revolving around a learner profile. The learner profile includes 10 areas: Inquirer, Communicator, Principled, Risk-taker, Balanced, Knowledgeable, Thinker, Open-minded, Caring and Reflective.IB begins with PY – primary years – which runs grades 1 through 6. William is in his sixth and final year of PY. As the final assignment of PY, the students participate in Exhibition. Exhibition is a chance for each student to choose a subject of interest, and then present it in a way that exhibits their learning and the development of the learner profile attributes.

Yeah, that sounded totally complicated. But William and his classmates had their Exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and they did an outstanding job!

So grateful to our friend/William’s art teacher, Lizz,
for her assistance and guidance in his art piece.

William focused on Diet and Nutrition. His exhibition included a research report, an interview with our friend Severina, surveys and mathematical analysis, a blog, a PowerPoint presentation, a cookbook, a running/race challenge, a summary of the race (written in Norwegian), and an art piece.

After all of their work is completed, they have an evening to present it to family and friends, share what they have learned, and answer questions.

We are very proud of our not-so-little-guy and the great work he did on his PY6 Exhibition.

Thanks to friends for coming to support William on Exhibition Night!

A Teenager?!?!

Seems like only yesterday, he was a tiny little blonde-headed boy who struggled to reach the sink to brush his teeth. But suddenly, we have a teenager on our hands. Who, by the way, is now taller than his mom. Crazy.What a blessing our William is, to our family and to others. He is kind and patient, a good friend and a natural leader. We pray that as he continues to grow in stature, he will also continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge of His Savior.

We had a fun weekend celebrating our teen. Saturday we were at a camp at the border of Norway and Sweden with friends.

 

So Sunday (his actual birthday), we drove further into Sweden for an overnight trip in Göteborg/Gothenburg.

At his request, we had burgers at Hard Rock for lunch.

We walked around the city, did a bit of shopping, and enjoyed frappucinos.

And we finished the day with burritos at Wrapped Burrito Bar – probably the best burritos we’ve had since leaving the states!

Then back to our room for some gifts…

And on our way home on Monday, we stopped and explored a really cool fortress.

 

 

Yeah, we aren’t so good with the jumping pictures!

Happy 13th Birthday, William!

Art with a Story

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, it’s a painting, and it tells a story that is near and dear to our hearts.

We asked our friend Anna to create something for us, and didn’t provide many specifics. We wanted it to have something to do with adoption, and at one point we had talked about the colors of Ukraine’s flag (yellow & blue).

We were already familiar with Anna’s work so we knew whatever she did would be good. But when we picked it up on Sunday afternoon, we were amazed. It is incredible how an artist can take a request and make it into something so personal and, in my opinion, powerful. That is exactly the case with this piece. I also think when it is an artist that knows you well, the depth and power is even greater.

It really does say a lot about us.

It shows the boys’ interests. And their individual background colors reflect their Ukrainian heritage.

Daniel, the artist
William, the athlete

The red at the top reminds me that it all started with a love story 🙂 And the rainbow reminds me of promises: from God to us, from us to God, in our marriage, and within our family.

I think the use of color symbolizes a lot as well. The colors are beautiful on their own. But their real beauty is seen when they come together. Kind of like our family: each of us holds gifts and talents that become more when we come together.

We are so excited about the way this turned out. As Anna pointed out, someone that didn’t know us would simply see it as a piece of art. But those that know us can see that it tells so much more!

Busy and yet…

I have a couple of new series coming up on the blog soon, involving some of our favorite things: coffee, food, and cultural differences/observations.

But for now, here are a few recent pics. We have been quite busy with regular life stuff, and a bit of travel, both work-related and personal. (It seems to be a bit biased toward Daniel, but William is getting to that age where he isn’t so interested in having every aspect of his life documented in pictures!)

Daniel built his own foosball table during a project at school, using recycle materials. We were very impressed!
A certain adorable nephew turned one a few weeks ago. Isn’t he the cutest?
Daniel continues to uncover his passion and talents.

 

The boys got some gifts from family in the states.

 

We continue to work on our sushi skills.

 

And I finally crocheted something that I will actually wear out into public…

 

which is good, because you never know when winter might sneak up again. We got 17+ inches of snow from last night till this afternoon!

 

Teaching our children important skills, like the art of a pour-over… yes, we do love coffee!

 

It’s the little things

The snow finally arrived in Sandefjord early Monday morning. As we left for the hospital just after 6:00, everything was already covered in a nice blanket of white.

You never know when the temperatures will take a swing upward and the snow will change over to rain. So while we have a nice coating of snow (probably around 10-12 inches / 25-30 cm so far this week), Zack wanted to give the boys (and himself!) a chance to go skiing.
So right after school yesterday, they came home, had a snack, and headed out for the cross-country trails. Zack said they did great, and they all seemed to have a lot of fun. I’m disappointed I won’t get to join in this year,  but glad they are able to enjoy a fun activity, that also just so happens to be free! I hope the snow will stick around long enough for them to go out a few more times.

 

Where does the time go?

I could make excuses for my lack of blogging, but I’ll just sayI’m back!

Well, for now at least.

Life has been hectic. Mostly good stuff, but hectic all the same. Between lots of language study, meetings, and daily routine stuff, I simply let my writing slip. But I really do hope to get back to it now. We’ll see how it goes!

Things are going well here. Fall is here. We are getting a lot of rain. But we really shouldn’t complain after the last few months of beautiful weather. It hasn’t been very cold yet. We had one chilly morning with a little snow, but it only lasted an hour or two and was replaced by more rain.

William finished another football season. We were very proud of him for his effort. And apparently his progress impressed the coaches as well. He got one of the three awards given out at the end of each year: Best fremgang (best progress).

William with one of his coaches at their year-end party
Daniel is continuing with art lessons and is doing a great job! We attended an art show that his teacher was in, and really enjoyed seeing what she creates.
In fact, we liked her work so much that we bought several pieces. This one is now hanging in our kitchen. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
We’ve also had the opportunity to meet friends and colleagues for coffee, go to a couple of birthday parties, attend a costume party at the boys’ school, attend a musical, meet with friends for meals and other events, host a small Halloween party, and attend some seminars and conferences. Here are a few pictures from the past few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School

My primary goal for my sons is not that they live a comfortable, safe, easy life. No, I want them to be challenged and stretched, I want them to experience things and grow from those experience.But at the same time, I do want them to be happy. With all of the changes and adjustments they’ve dealt with in their short lives, a certain sense of comfort isn’t a bad thing.

And when I see them comfortable and happy, it is an encouragement for this momma’s heart!

That is what I saw last Thursday morning, as they returned to their school for a third year (this will be their second full year). They are in a familiar environment, where they are known and cared for. They enjoy school, and they have teachers who challenge them and help them reach their potential. They aren’t seen as a number, and they are encouraged to develop at a pace that suits each of them, without going too easy on them.

As I’ve said before, I’ve learned that when my kids are thriving in this expat life, it makes everything easier.

First day of school after arriving in Norway
Daniel: Grade 1, William: Grade 4

 

First day of school 2013
Daniel: Grade 2, William: Grade 5

 

First day of school 2014
Daniel: Grade 3, William: Grade 6