Tonight we’ll finally put to rest the year that was 2017. In many respects, 2017 was a brilliantly evolutionary year. While in others it was a devastating year that often brought us to our knees.

2017 started off with the loss of a beloved employee, followed by the loss of a beloved employee’s son. In March, we lost a dear friend, who was family to us. Unequivocally, the loss of our beloved friends and co-workers was tough to stomach. Death is never easy, but losing people young is particularly cruel.

In loss, there was a beauty. We carry forward the many memories and lessons that those beautiful souls imprinted on our hearts. I look forward to running again, so I can see the yellow butterfly that greets me as I make it to Debbie’s neighborhood. This is just before I hit the mile mark. Consequently, I’m struggling find my legs, my will and my strength. Miraculously, the butterfly greets me and encourages me on every run.

To say I learned a lot from Debbie would be an understatement. One lesson I’ll always carry with me is to live fully. In fact, she was a huge inspiration in us going to Norway. It was an expensive trip, but it was worth every penny and more. There is no greater gift we can give our loved ones than the gift of time and experiences together. To this day, if you ask my boys, they’d move to Norway in a heartbeat.

2017 was very much a transition year for our family with Jake graduating high school and the Mayor transitioning to Middle School. We also sent Jake to Italy with school while the Mayor went to DC with safety patrol. There were a lot of big life changes for us last spring. Albeit the boys handled these transitions beautifully. Mamma bear may have struggled a bit, but that’s life and completely normal.

Now as we wind down the clock on 2017, Jake has a semester of college under his belt. The Mayor has acclimated beautifully to Middle school while Goalielocks is slaying his last year of Middle School. 2017 was a year of transitions, loss, beauty, experience and love.

As I look back on 2017, I remember the moments spent with those I love. The marquis moments of my kids’ lives and our incredible time in Norway. Lastly, we will always carry the the beautiful people we lost in 2017 in our hearts and minds.

To celebrate the New Year, we’re headed back down to Lauderdale to hang out at the marina. My younger two boys will spend their evening fishing with friends as we relax on the boat with our friends. It’s a boy mom life for me and one I wouldn’t change for the world.

Tonight’s song performed by the Beatles is “In My Life.”


Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is here and almost gone.  Today was hectic and we rushed to finish our last minute shopping and preparations for Christmas day.  I think the boys will be happy with what they’re getting, but we’ll see.  Truthfully, I had hope to spend more money on experiences or even a trip than gifts.  Oh well, there’s always next year.  Its probably a shift that’s easier to make gradually than in one fell swoop.


In addition to last minute errands, I had (and still have) a lot of baking today.  I made another round of mint cookies today in addition to krumkakes and toffee candies.  Fortunately, all three of the items turned out really good.  As I write this, I’m starting to make the main star of tomorrow’s brunch — the caramel rolls.  Ah yes, no less than 1,000,000 grams of carbs and sugar in these beauties, but they’re completely worth it.   Honestly, all calories on Christmas should be free, I think Santa would totally agree.

Krumkakes are a traditional Norwegian cookie that I was excited to try making this year.  After all, I have both cloud berry and blueberry jam from Norway to pair with the cookie, so now is the perfect time.  In order to bake said cookies, however, I had to order a krumkake iron.  I opted for a new school plug and play model versus the old school iron you heat up over a burner.  I think we can all agree that nothing good would come from me using an old school iron.


The dough is quite simple to make.  You can use either vanilla or almond extract to flavor the cookie  Today I used vanilla as that is what I had on hand.  Once the dough has been mixed up, you bake one cookie at a time on the iron.  These cookies cook quite quickly albeit individually.  Moreover, once they come of the iron, you need to shape them around the cone to get their famed conical shape.

My first attempt at shaping a krumkake was lackluster, but I had also overcooked the cookie.  After the first couple of cookies, I got the process down pat.  You can definitely bake these cookies by yourself.  However, it would be easier to an assistant help shape the cookies once they come off the iron.

After all the baking, we headed to my brother’s house for some games, movies and appetizers.  Before though I had to make a pit stop at Walgreen’s for some whipped cream and dollar bills.  I had no cash on me and we needed singles, so we could play Left Right Center at Jon’s.  You can only imagine the look the clerk gave me when I asked for my change ($20) is singles, but I digress.

We quickly ate our appetizers once we got to Jon’s, so we could start playing Left Right Center.  Goalielocks didn’t want to spend any money (even though I was funding), so he manned the music tonight.  Per usual, the game was not mild.  Both the Mayor and Jake ended up winning two games, while both Brandi and I won a game.  Throughout the games, the Mayor was full of witty one-liners.


Once the money dried up, it was time for krumkakes.  I served them with whipped cream and either blueberry or cloud berry jam.  They were absolutely heavenly.  Moreover, I forgotten how much I loved the Norwegian jam.  I have yet to find either cloud berry jam or a good blueberry jam stateside.  When my family goes in January, I hope they bring some more back for us. Hint, hint…..


Now it’s off to finish wrapping presents and baking caramel rolls.  Tonight’s song performed by Mariah Carey  is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Norway is Calling

Norway is Calling

Norway is calling (so is my bed p.s.) me back.  There’s no way around it and the kids feel the same way.  As a family, we cannot wait to go back and explore it some more.  For my kids, the city of Bergen was particularly memorable.  They’ve even started planning how they can study their in college or move their as adults.  I’d say the city left quite the impression on them.

The most beautiful part of Norway, and there were so many, for me was being able to spend time with my family.  There were no distractions of work, school or hockey.  It was just us enjoying our time together as we discovered our Scandinavian roots.  In addition, it was even more special because my entire family was there together.

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As we approach the holidays and I put out the Christmas decorations I bought in Norway, I long to go back.  One of my goals is to spend Christmas in Norway to enjoy the Scandinavian customs and celebrations.    It would be nice to enjoy a white, snowy Christmas versus our tropical Christmas.  Additionally, I’d like to explore the Christmas markets in Germany some time.

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Oh the serenity of my house was broken as the boys returned from hockey practice.  Goalielocks some how managed to knock a grocery bag with my brie baker off the table.  Consequently, my nice pampered chef brie pan has seen its last day.  Ugh… This is why I can’t have nice things.

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I leave you tonight with some of my favorite pictures from 2017.  There were many memorable moments this year, so picking my favorites was quite difficult.  Nonetheless, I think you’ll find a theme in my pictures.  Hint, hint my favorite moments are all about my family and friends that have become family.



Tonight’s song performed by Offspring is “The Kids Aren’t Alright.”  I know, I know it is a departure from the Christmas music.  However, I was jamming out on my way to Barre tonight to this song, so I thought I’d share it.  Plus, it seems to fit with the brie, football/invisible hand calamity.

Riches of Inheritance

Riches of Inheritance

Oh the riches of inheritance! I know that many people get caught up in will, estates and tax planning, but the real gems of inheritance aren’t always subject to estate taxes.  As a matter of fact, one of our most prized inherited items is in the featured photo.  My hubby received my mother-in-law’s Suomi hockey jersey bearing the number 24 and her maiden name Ketola shortly after her passing. I’ve had the honor of wearing it to games and during parent kid games.  It gives me great pride and a feeling of connection when any of us wear it.


As a child, my favorite Christmas memories were making cookies with my mom, brothers and grandma.  My mom always made molasses cookies with us, which is a recipe passed down from her dad’s family.  Now that I have kids of my own, we make these treasured molasses Christmas every year.  Truthfully, I think the kids prefer to bake them with Grandma Dawn, but I’ll gladly take second place to my mom.

Sometimes it’s not a treasured item or recipe that we inherit, sometime’s it’s pride in one’s heritage.  Both of my grandfather’s families immigrated to the United States from Norway.  Additionally, My grandfathers were  very proud of their Norwegian heritage.  This pride is definitely my brothers and I inherited from my mom, my dad and my grandparents.  Consequently, our trip as a family to  Norway where we saw our family farms and land was of monumental importance to all of us.  It was a true connection to our heritage, our ancestors and to each other as a family.

My mother-in-law was 100% Finnish whose parents immigrated to the US from Finland.  She was, as evidenced by the Suomi jersey, extremely proud of her Finnish heritage.  My boys are very proud of their Finnish and Norwegian heritage.  We’ve already been to Norway to see my family’s origin.  Our plan is to explore Finland to see where my MIL’s family came from.  Incidentally,  if my kid’s spend a year studying abroad in Norway or Finland, I wouldn’t be surprised.

We’ve been given a lot of inherited gifts.   It might be tokens and reminders of those who’ve passed, pride in our heritage, character traits, or even family recipes.  Lastly, inheritance isn’t all about money, but rather the intangible gifts passed down from generation to generation.

Tonight’s song is Celine Dion’s amazing rendition of “O Holy Night.”

Saintly Advice

Saintly Advice

Tonight’s blog is full of saintly advice meant to lift the spirit and encourage the reader.  Undoubtedly,  it has been a long, arduous week (although the sinus infection has abated) and it’s only Wednesday.   I’ve written before about getting caught up in life and forgetting to feed our souls.   For me, my yoga practice has been key in re-centering my mindset and my focus.  Here are some wise words to inspire your practice or your day.

“Fortitude is the disposition of soul which enables us to despise all inconveniences and the loss of things not in our power.” –St. Augustine

“Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.” –St. Teresa of Avila

“A scrap of knowledge about sublime things is worth more than any amount about trivialities.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

“Joy is a net of love by which we catch souls.” 
-Mother Teresa

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”  -Saint Augustine

I love these quotes that focus on perseverance, humility, joy, love and knowledge.  Mother Teresa’s quote is fantastic and easily incorporated into every day life.   Make it a point to make someone smile. It could be through a compliment, a simple smile or a good deed.  I guarantee you making someone’s day brighter will fill you with joy.

I’ve peppered tonight’s blog with pictures of saintly places both natural and man-made from our Norway trip last summer.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as we enjoyed experiencing the places.


Tonight’s song is “Halleluja” performed by Pentatonix.


Tonight’s the night Vikings returns for season 5 on the History Channel.  I love this show, so I’ve been looking forward to tonight.  For the last several weeks, snippets of the 5th season have been showing up in my Facebook newsfeed.  I’m not into many shows, but Vikings is definitely one of them.  Fortunately, its also a show my kids love.   In fact, when we traveled to Norway this summer I made sure we incorporated some Viking themed scenery in our trip.  Although it would have been hard to avoid Viking related sights in any trip to Norway.


Serene Fjord

In Flam, we took the boat out on the Aurlandsfjord.  This Fjord deep in the heart of Sogn Og Fjordane is sublimely serene and overwhelmingly beautiful.  As we boated around the fjord, we approached an outcropping from the cliff.  There was a grassy area on this outcropping, which was home to a Viking Burial.  It was pretty cool to see.  As an aside, Lagertha according to legends is from the Gaula Valley, which is in the northeastern part of the Sogn Og Fjordane region.

Now that the show has started, I’m writing during the commercials.  How fitting that Ikea is one of their advertisers, but I digress.  As an American of Norwegian descent, I enjoy watching a show about Norwegian/Scandinavian history.  My dad’s family emigrated to the US from Sogn Og Fjordane the very same region that Lagertha is thought to have come from.  Clearly, I was born to be a modern day shield maiden or Viking queen.

Our trip through Norway gave us a deeper connection to our Norwegian roots, heritage and Norway.  Now as I watch the Vikings, I long to go back and explore the Norwegian Countryside.  Additionally, I’d like to explore Ireland, where the show is largely filmed, and the U.K. retracing the Vikings travels.  While in France in 2011, we ate lunch at a small seaside Norman town.   As we enjoyed our crepes, our view was a replica Viking ship moored in port.  It was beautiful and imposing much like the authentic ships housed in the  Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.

Finally, tonight’s song, in keeping with my Norwegian theme, is “Take on Me” by Aha.  I know a collective sigh of relief went out as you realized I wasn’t gonna torture you with “What Does the Fox Say?”

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.


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!”

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.


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.


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.


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.”

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.