my world

My World

For tonight’s blog, it’s all about giving you a glimpse in my world through the share your world challenge.  It’s one of the challenges run here in the blogosphere that make for fun and interesting reads while also connecting you to others bloggers.  So here it goes.

If you were having difficulty on an important test and could safely cheat by looking at someone else’s paper, would you do so?   I’m not good at being bad. So no I wouldn’t cheat because know I’d get caught.

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What things in nature do you find most beautiful?  I love the beautiful sunsets that light the Florida sky.  Also a top the items I find to be most beautiful are flowers, the beach, the fjords, mountains and waterfalls.   The Norwegian countryside was beyond beautiful.  Neither pictures nor words can adequately describe its beauty.

Complete this sentence: When I travel I love to…  I love to stay in the neighborhoods and experience the city or country as a local.  Consequently, we stayed in AirBnB’s in both Bergen and Oslo while travelling throughout Norway.  These accommodations were in the neighborhoods away, but not too far from the tourist sights.  In Oslo, our apartment had the cutest nest like area over the kitchen where the younger two boys could sleep.  Fortunately, they loved their little area.  Goalielocks had a similar room when we were in Bergen, which he also loved.  Nevertheless, the point is I want to be immersed in the culture of where ever I have traveled to.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  This week I was heavily inspired by my dear friend Debbie, here family and our friends.  Months of hard work culminated with the Purple Stride event Sunday morning.  After the event, I was looking to see updated fundraising totals on the site and noticed a quote from Debbie. Here’s here quote that as a part of her keynote speech at the 2016 Broward Palm Beach Purple Stride event.

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My first PurpleStride was in 2015. I wanted to complete the 5K as my own personal challenge. Being able to attend my second PurpleStride this year in 2016, was about showing that patients can live, cherish the moments they have in their lives, teach others to celebrate their own lives and to remember the gifts of those lives that are no longer with us.”

Tonight’s song comes to us courtesy of Tom Petty.  Enjoy “Learning to Fly!”

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Mount Floyen Friday

Mount Floyen Friday

It is a Mount Floyen Friday, can someone please take me back to Bergen?  I’ve been good this year, so pretty sure they’ll be no coal in my stocking this year. In lieu of coal, feel free to stock my stuffing with tickets back to Bergen.  Although I’m sure the beautiful city and mountain look a little bit different in December than they do in July.

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We took the funicular up to the top of Mt. Floyen first thing one morning, so we could hike and explore the mountain.  Fortunately, Mt. Floyen offers a lot of activities to those travelling with families.  There are number of different trails, a ropes course, a play ground and some other activities.  Moreover, if you’re really ambitious, you can do the day long hike from Mt. Floyen to Mt. Ulricken.  In addition, there is also a cafe, gift shop, a restaurant and bathrooms atop the mountain.

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The hike on Mount Floyen is significantly easier than the hike at Ulricken.  There are several walking trails, appropriate for all fitness levels)  along with rockier hiking trails through the woods.  Additionally, there are no significant drop offs around the trails (at least the trails we explored at Mt. Floyen), which makes it a little more child friendly than Mount Ulricken.  Truly, it is a good hike for all ages and all abilities.

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Fortunately, when the kids tired out from hiking before we did, they had activities they could do while we hiked.  Consequently, when the kids got bored and the grandparents got tired, they headed back towards the funicular where there was a nice playground.  While the kids played on the playground, Jake, myself, my brothers and my sister-in-laws decided to hike into the woods and off the paved path.

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The paths through the woods were incredibly beautiful.  In some places, it reminded me of the Valley of the Living Rocks where the trolls resided in Frozen.  You could easily imagine that trolls, witches and fairies inhabited these magical woods.  There was moss on the trees, delicate mushrooms carpeting the forest floor, little structures and fallen trees.

Unquestionably, it was a magical, beautiful place that was also peaceful and serene.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that once we finished our hike we were able to get a nice, hot latte before heading back down the mountain.  We headed back down the mountain to make our way towards Bergen’s tallest mountain Mt. Ulricken. That morning we hiked off the beaten path and were transported into a magical woods that was reminiscent of Narnia. Needless to say, if you’re in Bergen, make a trip to both Mt. Floyen and Mt. Ulricken a priority.

Tonight’s song comes to us from Nirvana and it is “The Many Who Sold the World.”

Ice Hotel

Ice Hotel

For our Florida kids, the ice hotel in Quebec City was a modern marvel.  Their marvel was short lived as there weren’t a ton of activities for them to do.   Consequently, they ended up having a snow ball fight as the parents traipsed through the ice hotel and its bars.  They served wonderful drinks in glasses made of ice.  Both the hotel and our glasses were only temporary fixtures of the Quebec Countryside.

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While the ice hotel melts as winter transitions to spring, it is sure to be back as the arctic air reclaims the region the following fall.  I’m hopeful that my youngest will have the opportunity to play in the Peewee Quebec tournament.  If so, we’ll have the opportunity to return to this beautiful hotel.

If you’re thinking about taking a trip to beautiful Quebec City, which I would definitely recommend.  The hotel offers tours, over night stays and will even host your wedding.   You can book a room or a tour of the Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) here.

I am a neophyte to the daily photo challenge, but I look forward to posting more photos in the coming weeks.

Believe

Believe

Do you believe?  I do, sometimes.  Is it just me or are you singing the Cher song Believe?  I’m not believing in my Vikings right now.  You know its a good football game, when the score looks more like a hockey score.  Of course I write this and the Vikes came up with a pretty good punt return.  Now Keenum is in and Bradford is out.  Perhaps we will see some offense now or maybe not.

One of the things I love about sports, especially at the youth level, is seeing the kids start to believe in themselves and their team.  We’ve been watching most of these kids skate since they were seven years old.    Some of these players were superstars out of the gate and still are, I’m looking at you red helmet kid.  In contrast, there have been other players that you could see very early that they were going to be amazeballs.  They may not have been superstars at mites, in fact, they may have been quite timid.  Nonetheless, they are know leaders on the ice.   Every player has a different path to success, but one thing that is constant is the inner drive to be better coupled with a support system that believes in them as an athlete and a person.

When I watch my Mayor on the ice, I can’t even take it.  He’s the smallest, the cutest little player you’d ever see on the ice, but he plays like he’s goliath.  I’ve watch him undress kids double his size.  This weekend he had the refs in stitches as he chirped the other team.  Chirping, for those of you outside of hockey, is an important part of  hockey culture that involves hurling insults at players on the other team, the refs or even the fans.  For my boy, it solely involves the other players.

As I watched from the box, the Mayor was chatting up 11 on the other team.  11 looked none to thrilled with what he was saying. There was a little bit of a skirmish between them.  As the Mayor, skated to his bench he had a devilish grin on his face.  According to the refs, he skated up to 11 (twice his size) and told him he sucked.  11 had no idea how to respond to it, so the Mayor continued.  Meanwhile, the refs were dying laughing as my pint sized Mayor chirped the Goliath size corn fed kid from the other team.   Undoubtedly, I love watching the Mayor play hockey because he plays like he’s six feet tall even though he’s the smallest on the ice.  The Mayor being the youngest of three boys has definitely made him one tough cookie.

I wrote last night that the Mayor’s team struggled their first game of the tournament.  It was truly a rough start, but Coach got them motivated in a great way.  He was able to channel that motivation into believing that they could in fact win the championship.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that he told the team they could shave his head and skate him the last ten minutes of practice if they won.  Well, they won and Coach vowed to keep his promise.    Hubby, who helps coach at practice, told me the kids were giddy and squealing in anticipation throughout the practice.   Indeed, the crew delighted in skating coach and then shaving his head post practice.

Meanwhile in Hermosillo, Mexico, my sister-in-law Mo has left behind the NICU in order to become a PACU nurse while serving overseas with Children Surgery International.  This amazing organization provides free surgical services to children in need while also training local medical professionals.  A lot of the surgeries they perform are to correct cleft palate.  Without this organization, these children wouldn’t be able to have the surgery and the opportunity to live a normal life.

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Why the sudden change of topic?  I believe, with all the bad news out there, it is good to remind ourselves that there are a lot of good things going on too.  There are a lot of people doing great things to make the world a better place.  We all have our opportunity to make the world a better place.  Not all of us can serve as PACU nurses or surgeons overseas, but we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life each and everyday.  Sometimes the only thing people need to be successful is someone that believes in them. Be that person.

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You can also support the good work Children Surgery International is doing in Mexico by donating to them here.  That link is specific to their current trip in Hermosillo, Mexico.  If you’d like to support their broader mission, you can donate to the organization here.

On Top of the World

On Top of the World

On top of the world in Bergen, high upon the city’s highest peak of Mt. Ulriken, the boys and I hiked with their aunts and uncles as the Mayor, the grandparents and my hubby waited at the overlook.  The Mayor, who had injured himself on Mt. Floyen, reluctantly sat out the challenging and rigorous hike to the peak.

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The hike was challenging, but rewarding.  As we neared the peak, a Norwegian Air flight soared closely over our heads as it approached Bergen’s main airport.   On top of the world in Bergen, there were running trails, multiple hikes and even a farm with sheep.  It would be wrong to be atop a mountain in Norway and not see sheep or goats.  Truly, it would be unnatural.

From our vantage point, we could see all of the beautiful city of Bergen. Far in the distance, you can see where the Norwegian land meets the north sea.   The city of Bergen is nestled between seven mountains on the Byfjorden (also known as the city fjord.)  Between the beautiful city and the North sea, there are several islands that protect Bergen from the harsh North Sea.  Undeniably, I cannot wait to explore those when we return to Hordaland.

There’s something soul cleansing about being on top of a mountain.  2017 has been a devastating year of unfathomable loss, but here atop the mountain we found peace  Moreover, in the peace and solitude of the moment, the beauty of our surroundings became a profound reminder of the beauty of life.  Unfortunately life, as much as we would like it to be pain free, is not without its rocky patches.   However, it is these rocky patches that made our time in Norway together so richly rewarding.

Albert Einstein, thanks to the internet and memes, has been credited with some great quotes.  In this instance, one of his quotes (and it is actually his) comes to mind.  “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  From atop the world in Western Norway, I sat amazed at the symbiotic relationship between the Norwegians and their land.

It is experiences like this that I love sharing with my kids.  These are the types of experience that broaden their world by exposing them to new worlds.  While they enjoyed the hike and the time with their family, they unknowingly broadened their circle.  Moreover as a mom, there’s nothing I enjoy more than sharing the beauty of our world with my boys.  I cannot wait to explore new places with them.

It's a Beautiful life

It’s a Beautiful Life

“It’s a beautiful life, oh, oh oh, oh.”  Yeah, that’s right.  I just started my blog quoting Ace of Base.  Who does’t like a little 90s pop reference every now and again to get the creative juices flowing.   People probably don’t think of the famous Swedish pop group as a harbinger of deep lyrics.  Nonetheless, they hit the nail on the head with this one.

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Life is perfectly imperfect, but it is beautiful.  Even when life gives us lemon, and I think we all know I’ve been drinking a lot of lemonade this year, life is beautiful.  This year has been a roller coaster of loss, joy, pride, sadness and change.   There were times this year I didn’t think that there was beauty to be found, but there it was a cardinal at my window.   Life’s beauty can surprise you in the most amazing ways and the most difficult times.

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As the Sagan quote points out, while we are on this planet each of us is given the chance to take several trips around our local star.  What we make out of that trip is up to us as individuals.  When you start to think of life as a finite opportunity, your perspective shifts dramatically.  Oftentimes, we see ourselves as indestructible until we are faced with our own mortality.

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Our beautiful life took a big turn last spring.  With Jake graduating high school and plunging into adulthood, our world shifted dramatically.  It’s kind of odd transitioning from managing three kids to only managing two.  Moreover, I have to remind myself of our new reality.  After all, we need to treat him as an adult  now.  In addition, to the new adult in the household, we graduated elementary after having started it in 2004.  150529155417-facebook-gif-4-custom-1

There are definitely perks to this new arrangement in our world.  When he texted me tonight to ask me to close that garage door since his dad’s thing didn’t work.  I could respond with “that’s what she said” without feeling like a bad parent.  His response?  It was epic.  Please see the Michael Scott gif he sent me below.  I freaking love this kid!

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Sometimes what holds us back, is our fear of the unknown.  It prevents us from pursuing our dreams , doing the things we love and sometimes accepting reality.  Its time to stop being afraid of the unknown, grab the bull by the horn and live your life.  For you it may mean pursuing a new opportunity, for others it may mean accepting life’s new realities.  And yet for others, (right CS) it may mean selling all their things and becoming a goat farmer in Norway.  I’m mean did you see the Aurora Borealis gifs?  How could you not want to live there?  At the end of the day, you will either define your trip around the sun or it will define you.

First day of fall

First Day of Fall

Today ushered in the first day of fall, which in Florida was marked by a continuation of horrible heat and humidity.  Admittedly, one of the things I miss most about living in the Midwest is the change of season from summer to fall.  As a child, my parents took us to see the beautiful fall colors along Lake Superior’s North Shore or down the Mississippi and Lake Pepin.  Each drive is a bit different, but equally beautiful.

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First day of fall at Split Rock Lighthouse

When we’d drive down the Mississippi, we would stop to see Maiden Rock.   This is a famous location along Lake Pepin.  It was on this bluff, where according to Dakotah Sioux legend an Indian maiden Wenonah jumped to her death.  She chose to jump rather than marry a man she didn’t love.

 

A short jaunt from Maiden Rock, is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s girlhood home.  As a young girl,  Wilder’s books about growing up on the Prairie were some of my favorites.  For me, it was a real joy to see where she was born.  It is also where one my favorite books take place.  Little House in the Big Woods, her first in the Little House on Prairie series, took place in Pepin, Wisconsin.

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Sadly, in Florida there’s no fall color aside from the brown leaves on the trees felled by Irma.  The heat and humidity continue to blast like a furnace and my hair hates it.  Oddly, the leaves on our maple tree still change colors randomly throughout the year.  The tree will then randomly drop a leaf or two.  It’s odd, to say the least, to see a leaf change colors in April and not October, but I think I can adjust.

We here in Florida, not so patiently, await the end to the oppressive heat and rainy season.  In the meantime, here’s a wonderful poem by John Keats on Autumn.

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U14 AA Champions

Champions!!!!!!!!

Congrats to our champions!!!!!!  We had a wonderful weekend with our hockey family in Orlando. Of course, the cherry on top was our U-14 AA boys winning the championship.  At a number of different times during the game, they seemingly felt compelled to make it interesting.  Alas through hard work and team work, they persevered and they won the championship game.

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Goalielocks saw little action in the first, which is a difficult situation for a goalie.  Goalies need to see some shots to get into a rhythm, so protracted periods of no shots are tough.  Nevertheless, he wasn’t happy with his level of play even though they won and he got second star of the game.   Such is life as a goalie.  The good news is that’s why you practice.  He can work on improving the things he felt he didn’t do well this weekend and work on maintaining what he felt he did well.

I’ve written about it previously, but its hard to believe how old and grownup these kids look.  Many of these kids started out together as mites in 1st and 2nd grade and now many have started high school.  They used to be so small that their legs would dangle from the bench in the penalty box since they couldn’t touch the ground.  Now they’re ginormous and take up all the room in the box with both their size and smell.    Irrespective of the change in size, they remain the same sweet smiling kids they were in mites albeit with an expanded vocabulary.   All kidding aside, these kids are amazing.  They’re hard workers, gritty, fierce competitors, but also good teammates and good friends.

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The tournament did a great job putting on a nice show for the championship games.  These things may seem small, but I’m sure they make a world of a difference to the kids playing in those games.  In addition to the introductions, they also had an announcer and some pretty sweet music.  Even better though was the fact that all of our families, which are spread throughout the world, could watch the game live.  For my parents in Minny, it was an awesome opportunity to cheer for their grandson and his team from afar.

The Mayor’s team did not walk away with a championship, but they had a blast this weekend.  I can see that they’re excited to hit the ice together as a team, which is amazing.  My Mayor is the kind of kid that goes all in when he does something and I love.  He’s small, but he’s the fiercest competitor I know.  He works his butt on and off the ice to be the best he can be for his team.

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This morning his team played a consolation down in Kississimee.  Sadly,  I missed most of because I had to get Colin’s gear to the other rink in time.  I was super bummed that I had to miss the Mayor’s game because him and his team are so much fun to watch.   Shortly, after I departed he scored a pretty sweet goal.  One of the team dads, who is totally my hero, videotaped the goal and sent it my way.

The best part of all of this was how the Mayor told me he scored his goal. As he told the story, very little of it had to do with what he did.  He spent most of the time detailing what his teammate did to facilitate the goal.  The Mayor couldn’t say enough about the awesome pass he was fed by his Boy B that led to the goal.  I can’t lie it was pretty cool to hear him heap the praise on his teammates because he gets it.  He understands that no matter who scores the goal, it took a team effort to get there.   Notwithstanding, the Mayor loved sharing the details of his post goal celebration.

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All in all it was a good weekend filled with great hockey and even greater people.  Quite frankly, it takes a lot of energy to survive these weekends due to the lack of sleep, increase in alcohol intake and increased stress from watching the games. All things considered, these tournaments have left us with many priceless moments.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I should probably educate myself on some mindfulness techniques for before, during and after Goalielocks’ games.

Exploring Undredal

Exploring Undredal

By far one of my favorite excursions in Norway was the day we spent exploring Undredal.   Undredal is a famous city on the Aurlandsfjord.  It is famous for having more goat inhabitants than human inhabitants.  It is also famous for having the world’s smallest wooden stave church. 

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Our adventure to Undredal started with a bus ride from Flam to Gudvangen.  At Gudvangen we got on the ferry to cruise the world famous, and UNESCO protected Naeroyfjord.  The Naeroyfjord is the narrowest arm of the Sognefjord.  It is rated as the number one natural heritage site in the world by National Geographic Magazine.  The cruise on this narrow fjord did not disappoint.

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The water of the Naeroyfjord is a beautiful and pristine blue green color.  Dramatic mountains rise out the fjord matched only by equally waterfalls.  The sides of the mountains are covered by grass and trees, which are perfect for the goats and sheeps that inhabit them.  Unquestionably, there isn’t an adequate superlative to describe the beauty of the Naeroyfjord.   Consider the fact that this Florida girl and her son Jake spent the entirety of the Naeroyfjord cruise on the top of the ferry, so we wouldn’t miss a minute of the scenery.  We were utterly transfixed even as we were pelted in the face by ice pellets and the blistering cold wind.

We soon turned into the Aurlandsfjord and headed towards our destination of Undredal.  The town looked absolutely magical as we made our approach to the small dock.  Undredal has the appearance of a quintessential Norwegian Fjord town. The buildings of Undredal are colorful, well kept and inviting.

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When we disembarked, we met our guide who would lead us on our walking tour of the tiny town.   As we gathered with the rest of our group near the pier.  A short teenage boy/girl approached as we waited. It took a moment, but we realized that Mark was a guy and our guide.  He had to be younger than Jake most likely a high school student in town.   Mark was absolutely wonderful.  As a tour guide he was perfect, he was knowledge, engaging, funny and entertaining.

There is not a ton to see in tiny Undredal, but it is absolutely worth the visit!  Our guide took us to the raging river showed us the old school, and where we’d go for our cheese tasty.  The piece de resistance for our tour, however, was the smallest stave church in the world.   At its inception 1147, it was even smaller than its current iteration.   In the 18th century, they added own to the church.  Even in its larger iteration, it is only 39 ft x 13 ft with 40 seats.

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Most noteworthy in spite of its small size, the church’s interior packs quite the punch.  The sides of the church and ceiling are home to very interesting religious murals and paintings.  Norwegian churches, unlike most European churches from the Middle Ages, incorporate both Christian and pagan themes.  In addition, this is the only church where you will find a painting of Satan on the ceiling.  According to local legends, the townspeople of Undredal felt by putting Satan in their church they could keep a better eye on him.  I guess its that whole “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” thing.

If you sit in the benches, you can see where a board parishioner had carved a drawing into the wall.  The artists painted the ceilings with stars, biblical figures, angels and as noted above satan. Lighting in the church is provided by candles and a very unique deer antler chandelier that was a gift from the Germans.  In contrast, the alter area is simple and beautiful.  I can’t imagine going to church or holding a wedding in such a small church.

Despite its size, the Undredal and its small wooden stave church pack quite the punch and are well worth the journey.  If you are jumping off from Flam, it is pretty easy to get to Undredal and you have several options.  Moreover, I highly recommend taking the Naeroyfjord cruise option as cruising the Naeroyfjord is truly spectacular.    The particular excursion we chose included a bus to Gudvangen, the ferry to Undredal and a van back Flam.  In addition, it included a walking tour and a goat cheese tasting in Undredal, both of which were amazing.   This was the perfect excursion for families.  We were travelling with family members from 7 to 87 and each and everyone of us enjoyed the day trip.  

You can find all of the photos from this trip here: Photo Album

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Solar Eclipse Soundtrack

In light of hysteria over today’s solar eclipse, I thought I’d share some songs that are perfect for the occasion.

  • Bonny Tyler: Total Eclipse of the Heart
  • REM:  It’s the End of the World As We Know It
  • The Beatles: Here Comes the Sun
  • Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
  • Soundgarden: Black Hole Sun