Take Pride

What does it mean to take pride in what you do?  Perhaps renowned basketball coach Red Auerbach said it best, “Take pride in what you do. The kind of pride I’m talking about is not the arrogant puffed-up kind; it’s just the whole idea of caring – fiercely caring.”

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My kids, as you know, are home for the first summer since 2008. Each week day, I give the kids of list of chores to complete.  Each day the boys are in a mad rush right before or right as the Hubby and I are getting home from work.   Of course, the result is substandard work on most chores, which drives me crazy.

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In order, to get the chores done correctly and on time, I turn off the wi-fi device by device.  Its akin to being put in the corner without a toy.  An electronic device without steady data or wi-fi is useless to most kids.  The goal in all of this is to teach them responsibility, how to do certain chores (i.e. laundry) so they’re well prepared for life and lighten our load.

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The real lesson here is whatever you do; do it well.  Don’t settle for mediocrity and take pride in your work.  Whether it is a household chore, school, a sporting event or your career; do your best.

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Wanderlust

There is no greater gift we can give our children than wanderlust.  Wanderlust is the strong desire to travel and explore the world.    Through travels and adventures our world is broadened and brightened.   The opportunity to see how others live and how similar we all are is a powerful experience.

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I saw this in my own kids as we traveled throughout Norway this month.  At first, my younger two were obsessed with their one McDonald’s trip.  They were concerned that Norwegian food would not be to their liking and they’d starve.  Fortunately, they did not starve.

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As luck would have it, we landed in Stavanger on the last day of Gladmat Fargegata, the largest food festival in Norway.  For dinner that night, we explored the different vendors at the festival.  We tried pizza, spicy tacos, waffles and Pakistani food that was absolutely delicious.

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They finally cashed in their McDonald’s trip at our first dinner in Bergen.  They had sweet potato fries and jalapeno poppers that were out of this world.  While the chicken sandwich I had actually tasted like chicken.  They quite enjoyed their trip to Norwegian McDonald’s and were hoping for at least one more.  We did not give in to their continued McDonald’s craving.  Mostly because we wanted them to eat local Norwegian cuisine, but also because the idea of spending $60 to eat at McDonald’s made me cringe.

My younger two are quite picky eaters, while my oldest Jake is up to try all of the local fare.  We tried a number of sampler platters that showcased local foods like reindeer, whale, mussels, king crab, caviar, fish soup, pork, sausages, duck, and steak.  We didn’t like everything, but at least we tried it.  The Mayor had king crab and caviar in Bergen, which he liked quite a lot.  Goalielocks even tried mussels, whale and reindeer, of which he liked the mussels the most.

By the time we left Norway, their palate and their worlds had opened up a bit.  They enjoyed the Norwegian cuisine, their way of life and especially the Norwegians’ love of dogs.   Now we’re back home wishing we could be back in Norway, but also looking forward to our next adventure.

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The daily prompt was lust, but I felt writing about wanderlust would be better than writing about my lust or desire for Norwegian pastries.

It’s That Time Again

I can’t believe it’s that time again. Time to get new clothes, new backpacks and copious amounts of school supplies. The only people in more shock, devastation really, at how fast the summer went is my boys.

This year we’re only shopping for two as Jake. Jake starts college next month, so his shopping will be a bit different.

An Unwanted Guest

I saw a video online the other day of an unwanted guest in restaurant on Paris’ Champs D’Elysees.  My least favorite pest, a mouse, was comfortably eating away at a “fresh” sandwich.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t our favorite rodent from Ratatouille.   I  recently travelled and bought pastries from similar cases, which stomach knot up.  It was rodents, rats and rat fleas, that were responsible for the spread of the bubonic plaque.

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Interestingly, the Black Death reached Norway before reaching many parts of Western Europe due to trade routes.  The Hanseatic trade routes played a pivotal role in the Black Death arrival in Norway via Bergen.  Some accounts place the blame squarely on a British ghost ship that ran aground near Bergen with infected rats and infected rats flea.  The Kongevegen, the King’s Road, which travelled from Bergen to Oslo provided a quick path for the plague into west central Norway and beyond.

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Another one of my least favorite unwanted guests is the cockroach.  A palmetto bug, which looks simliar, is enough to send me into a tizzy and running for higher ground.  I see them in our garage occasionally and that is way too much.  I couldn’t take it when they were on display at the Bergen Aquarium.  They’re so gross and also major carriers of disease.

Adventure on the Fjord

.My brother’s cabin in Flam came with its own boat and a prime location on the fjord.  It truly doesn’t get much better than the view from their living room or kitchen table of their cabin.  Our boys and their cousins love life on the water, so they were intent on the dads taking them out on the boat.  We were ready for our adventure on the fjord.

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The first journey on the boat, my entire family and my brother’s family hopped in eager for our adventure on the Fjord.  It had been raining that day, but the rain had abated as we boarded the boat.   No sooner had we pushed out to sea, when the winds began whipping and the rain restarted.

Unfortunately, it was clear the boat’s engine hadn’t been used in sometime.  As my brother struggled to get the engine started, hubby rowed us back towards the cabin.  The wind whips down the mountains into the valley on to the fjord with a lot of velocity, so we were quickly moving towards the very large cruise ship Costa Magica.  Luke was rowing as hard as he could, but the wind was that fierce.

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The engine did not want to start, so we were getting worried.  If we didn’t get the engine started quickly, we would hit the Costa Magica or end up in the cold waters of the Aurlandsfjord.  The very idea of going into the not so shallow (the fjord is 3,900 ft deep)  and very cold waters of the fjord made it a little nerve wracking.  As we worried,  waited and hopped for the engine to start, the engine finally started.

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My brother and hubby switched places.  After several more tense minutes, the engine finally started.  We headed safely away from the Costa Magica and out on the Fjord.  The rain and wind abated as the engine finally started.  The irony was not lost on the two men that had been rowing through the wind.

Hubby drove us out towards Aurland, but not too far from shore.   We were able to see the goats and the Viking burial grounds.  We got a close of up of a beautiful waterfall that falls several thousand feet,  goes under E16 and into the Fjord.   Despite the hairy start to our trip, our evening on the boat in  Flam turned out magical and memory filled. Undoubtedly, I was quite relieved when we were back on solid ground.

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Hidden Treasure

The drive from Stavanger to Oslo is, without any stops included, a 7.25 hour drive under the best case scenario.  When you’re traveling with kids and a post-kid bladder, 7.25 hours in a car, is never going to work.   The hubby and I planned on  stopping in Kristiansand, Arendal and Sandefjord to break up the drive and find some hidden treasures, but even with those stops the drive was long.

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Soon after leaving Arendal, I saw a sign for Olavskirken on the side of the road (E18) and I immediately asked Luke to stop at that site.  I had no idea the hidden gem that we had stumbled upon in the town of Bamble, Norway.

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Built in the Romanesque-Norman style, the old church Olavskirken dates back to 1150.  The church served as a Catholic church under the name St. Olav’s until the Reformation. Thereafter, it was referred to as Skeidi Church.  The old church was replaced by the new church built in the wooden cruciform style around 1845.

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When we pulled into the lot, I thought we were there to see the cruciform church until I noticed the ruins of the ancient church midway through the cemetery.  We all quickly lost interest in the new church and made our way towards the ruins of Olavskirken.

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The ruins were a complete gem of a find on our way back to Oslo.  We walked through the ruins noting the signs posted that spoke to the old church’s and the new church’s construction.   Moss and grass now cover the remaining walls and roof.  In the middle of the cemetery and surrounded by Norwegian forest, the scenery was magical.

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As we walked deeper into the ruins, we found a stairway that no leads nowhere and a room off to the side.  The room off to the side turned out to be the ancient chapel that is still in use today.  It was small, but beautiful.  After stopping on a whim, we had made a wondrous discovery.  Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a bit of a detour to explore as you never know what hidden gem you may uncover.

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Coffee Fiend

As a coffee fiend,  I have to have my daily Dunkin.   After two weeks away from work, I went back for my first day dunkin in hand.   My morning cup of Dunkin was a welcome change from the extremely expensive lattes we were drinking in Norway.  I don’t know what it says about my coffee habit.  However,  my Dunkin crew was relieved to see me back at the store.  Since I hadn’t been in the store for over two weeks, they became worried about me. I’m definitely a coffee over tea girl and I run on it.   Thank god for coffee otherwise I would have probably fallen asleep by 9:00 am courtesy of  jet lag.

The Viking Ship Museum

My favorite museum in Oslo was the Viking Ship Museum on Bygdoy Island, where you can see actual Viking ships recovered from burial mounds in Norway.   Growing up in Minnesota, we would see a replica Viking ship in Leif Erikson park up in Duluth.  The replica was impressive, but seeing actual Viking ships up close was beyond pale.

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The construction of the Viking ships showcase a level craftsmanship that is astounding on its own.  However, when taken in tandem with the wood carvings on the ship, the craftsmanship of the Vikings is unparalleled.   The intricacies of the carving are astounding considering the lack of modern tools.

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The Vikings present an interesting paradox.   Historians, and the people they conquered,  considered the Vikings to be barbaric marauder, but the Vikings were also expert seafarers and sophisticated craftsmen.  Inside the museum, a part from the ships, there are sleds, wagons and other vestiges of the Viking Age on display.   The Viking’s expertise is on full display through each exhibit.

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The ships at the Viking Ship Museum were constructed in the traditional fashion.  The Vikings passed on their ship building knowledge, a tradition, from generation to generation.  As a consequence, Viking ship builders picked very specific types and shapes of trees for their ships.  If you are a fan of the show Vikings or find yourself in Oslo, this museum is a must see.

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Stopping to Smell the Roses

When I’m back home, my allergies are horrendous.  Here in Norway, they’ve been much better to the point where I can even stop and smell the roses.  My allergies have been present in Norway as there is a lot of pollen this time of year here as well, but they’re significantly less severe.  I enjoyed stopping to smell the roses.

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Even on the worst allergy day here, I can still smell the roses and flowers as I walk by them.  The fragrance of the roses, in particular, is very strong.  The smell is absolutely magnificent.  There is not a candle or potpourri on earth that can replicate the smell of these roses.

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Not only is the aroma amazing, but the flowers on the plants are gigantic, brightly colored and numerous.  Thank goodness for the close up feature on my Canon, which did a pretty good job of capturing the beautiful blooms.

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