My childhood Sundays were spent at Grandmother´s house with the entire family. We may not have always made it to church, but as far back as I can remember, we made it to Grandma´s. I looked forward to spending time with aunts, uncles, cousins, and the endless buffet of food, but the highlight was getting there.
As Daddy turned turn off Highway 231 onto the clay road, my excitement would escalate. And each week, after crossing the railroad track, he would pull over to let me climb onto his lap so I could drive the remaining 1.82 mile stretch to Grandma´s. Occasionally he would forget, but I would remind him. I can still feel the bouncing sensation of the steering wheel as the car made it´s way across the washboard like road. I remember the dust the car kicked up on the dry days and I can remember almost sliding into the ditch after a good rain. `Driving on clay can be just as slippery as ice´, Daddy would say.
As I approached driver´s license age, I began to pester the daylights out of my parents about getting my driver´s permit, and on my fifteenth birthday no one was going to rest until Kim was driven to take her exam!
Thirty years later, I find myself puzzled as our sixteen year old NEVER asks to drive.
In Norway, kids get their driver´s license at eighteen. However, they may take Driver´s Ed at sixteen and begin practice-driving in the same manner American kids do under their restricted license regulations.
This being Norway, there are of course added requirements. As of 2012, before a child can begin driving, the parent, or whoever is going to be teaching the child to drive, must also sit through a refresher course to earn the GIANT RED “L” that must be placed on the car when a `Learner´ is driving. And, since I relatively recently completed Driver´s Ed in Norway, I managed to convince Dream Baby he needed the refresher more than I.
Five months after his sixteenth birthday, and six months after Sr. earned his giant red “L”, Jr. has STILL not mentioned signing up for Driver´s Ed, practice driving, saving for his own car, nor any of the things I am certain I drove my parents NUTS over!
So, this past Saturday, out of the clear blue…
Dream Baby pulls over, gets out of the car, walks around to my side and kicks me out of shotgun, all while mumbling something about he had to take the refresher course so he SURE wasn´t gonna sit in the back seat. He then TOLD a surprised Jr. to take the wheel.
OH LAW! I was a nervous wreck, and a horrific back seat driver!
It´s one thing to learn gradually over the course of years on a flat dirt road. But, to give MY CAR to a sixteen year old boy, who thinks he is an expert at driving because he has rounded ALL of the the Need for Speed games, is INSANE!
Did I mention we were on the side of a mountain?
Eliane and Esten thought it was great fun, wanted to know when they would get their turn, and egged him on by saying, `Faster Erling faster´!
I was filled with less uplifting comments like:
slow down, Slow Down, SLOW DOWN!
stay on the road, Stay on the Road, STAY ON THE ROAD!
and stop, Stop, STOP!
I received a piercing stare from Dream Baby´s crystal blue eyes, and one was bulging.
So I began occupying myself with taking pictures of the experience instead of vocalizing every single thought that crossed my mind.
It was NOT easy to bite my tongue.
Because along the hairpin turns
we met bikers, joggers, blueberry pickers, and roller skiers.
We witnessed construction, one-way bridges, and several fishing distractions.
The free roaming laws in Norway allowed for quite the livestock excitement.
But, like those that have been through this before myself, we survived….. somehow!?!
Want similar Goodness and Grit? Don´t miss this earlier post Driving in Norway !
With the exception of the Copenhagen Airport during layovers, I have never been to Denmark.
So, when Esten´s soccer team signed themselves up for Dana Cup, a week long soccer tournament, I became excited!
Dana Cup claims to be one of the biggest and most prestigious soccer tournaments in the world, and takes place in Hjørring, Denmark.
And since I have never been there I showed up with a list of MUST DOs.
Most important for me was to take a day trip to see some of the German bunkers that are now washing up from their hiding places in the sand and are slowly eroding out to sea.
And thank goodness we arrived a day before the tournament began to experience the history, and the uncommonly good weather.
We ate the famous Skagen Salad,
and marveled at the sight of two seas coming together in Grenen.
Then we found our way home to our tiny ocean front cabin, where we discovered many of our neighbors to be vacationing German parasailers. So cool to watch!
We took our bikes and loved how flat Denmark is compared to Norway! Biking in Norway is not for the gear-less beach bikes from my childhood!
The next morning we went to Esten´s first scheduled soccer game, a game in the qualifying round against a Frankfurt, Germany team, and our boys lost.
It was clear they were nervous. They have never played in such a big tournament before and it showed.
Ironically, at the end of the game one of the the German trainers approached the parents and trainers of the Lillehammer, Norway team. Evidently, he felt our team was special and particularly difficult to beat!?!
ANYWAY…If and when they lose out of the tournament, my itinerary of things to see and do in Denmark for the rest of the week was ready.
But, after the qualifying round, THE DREAM TEAM CONTINUED TO WIN!
And wow was it exciting….
I began to text updates to Dad in LA (Lower Alabama). He was on the edge of his seat til the final second.
We ended up watching a LOT of soccer, and seeing very little Denmark.
NRK 1 news showed up and filmed the games so all of Norway could follow along on the nightly news. Other teams and coaches started showing up to watch our games, and the boys were beside themselves.
You could see our coaches were having a difficult time hiding their excitement as well.
Anyway, our thirteen year olds, made it to the finals of The Dana Cup!
A pretty big crowd showed up for the rainy 10:00 am final game on Saturday morning to see Norway vs Mexico.
We could see our guys warming up on a practice field in the background, then they disappeared into the locker room.
The official introduced the Lillehammer team first, and the boys nervously paraded onto the field. They were stretching and bouncing around like they had ingested too much sugar.
to everyone´s surprise, there was an announcement that Mexico had booked their return flights the day before due to a scheduling misunderstanding!
You should have seen the looks on the boy´s faces when it finally became clear that they had just won The Dana Cup for 1012!
We plant our seeds
and watch them grow.
What they become,
how could we know?
They reach, they stretch,
they sway, they bend,
searching for shape, and for what is within.
Nurtured with kindness and pruned with love,
we hope they are strong enough to resist the bugs.
Soon their blossoms float on the wind.
In no certain direction their lives begin.
We gave them guidance, direction, and light.
We worry and pray we did things right.
Search your soul, it will set you free.
Because the apple, in time, falls close to the tree.
-Kimberly Mengshoel 2011
Ulf Elf showed up fifteen years ago as a Christmas gift from Farmor (Father´s Mother) to Erling Jr.
The first year he simply sat around on the sofa during the holidays as a bit of Norwegian decor.
I imagine he was dealing with culture shock.
The next year, as Jr. became mobile, mischievous, and messy, Ulf began to follow Jr around.
He was a reminder that Santa is watching, and Jr. best mind his p´s and q´s.
Following the birth of Esten, Odd Elf appeared.
Odd felt at home right away, and was quick to follow Ulf´s lead by pointing out Esten´s forgetfulness.
Of course Eliane also came with an Elf (with serious skirt problems) named Ingeborg.
We have a lot of giggles with our elf friends, and over the years the children have renamed them.
Jr. has changed Ulf´s name to Stalker.
Esten refers to Odd as Plagsom (Bothersome in Norwegian),
And Eliane calls Ingeborg by the name Lisa.
For the record, all of Eliane´s dolls and stuffed animals are named Lisa.
Elf reminders work!
And like magic, once things are in order the children place their elves back in the living room.
Stalker and Lisa have seemingly hooked up
and I´m hoping a new elf is on it´s way to look after Dream Baby.
If ANYONE needs an elf on his ass, it´s DREAM BABY!
Our middle child Esten, is twelve years old going on six.
Yesterday he came home from school bursting at the seams to tell me his latest joke.
Having heard an Esten joke before, I braced myself for the unfiltered kindergarten material that was about to spew from his adorable 7th grade mouth.
Per Esten standards, it was filled with bathroom talk and did NOT disappoint.
A couple was in bed
and suddenly a strange sound came from under the comforter…
(Esten used the word fart).
The lady asked, `What was that?´
The man replied, `Game on! The score is 1-0.´
It wasn´t long before another `strange´ sound occurred,
this time the MAN questioned: `What was that?´
The lady responded `Tie ballgame´ and went back to reading her book.
Then a much louder and longer sound came from under the covers.
(A productive fart was Esten´s description)
And the lady asked, `What was that?´
with a look of surprise on his face said,
`Half-time change sides!´
(I believe Esten used the word poop)
Esten´s seventh grade class is studying blogs; therefore, he requested I repost this story (about him) from March 2011.
Mornings in our household are just like any other household with small children, chaos. This morning was no exception. Eliane came bouncing downstairs with a hairdo rivaling Tina Turner from the 1980´s. Esten, my speedy guy, was up and eating breakfast in no time. And Erling Jr, the slowest of all pokes, took his sweet time about finding his place at the table. Like clockwork, in the middle of his cereal, Esten decides to pay a visit to the bathroom. Along the way, he was distracted by something he saw outside the window. Hysterically, he began pointing and yelling.
Mom! An EGG!
No one paid attention to Esten. Not even me. We have had an incredible amount of snow this year, and I have already noticed the egg looking snow sculptures that have accumulated on top of each flower-pot on the veranda.
Esten: (yelling louder): Mom! EGG!
Me: Yes Esten, I know. Please hurry, you need to get dressed.
Eliane finished her breakfast, ran upstairs, then returned with various hair gadgets for me to attempt to tame her hair. Jr managed to clear his breakfast dishes and disappeared to get dressed. I made lunches, and got Ellie out the door. Jr begins packing his backpack once I tell him to get off the computer, and that is when I noticed Esten, still in his underwear, hypnotized by the damn snow-eggs outside.
I calmly walk to him and grab the small hairs on the back of his neck. And I say, through clenched teeth,`Esten it is time to get dressed.´
Esten gently takes my hand from behind his neck and responds through equally clenched teeth,` Mama, there is an egg outside, and I am not going to school until you see it!´
A groan of frustration escapes my throat, I roll my eyes and surrender. Esten leads me to the window. I peer out across our snow covered lawn, the fog was as thick as pea soup, and when my eyes focused, I saw a moose!
In our down-town backyard, a huge moose!
I scream out in surprise and scramble to find a camera. Esten, began dancing a dance of satisfaction in his underwear and said, `See I told you there is an egg out there!´
Me: Esten, You said egg! Why didn´t you say moose!?
Esten: Mama, Moose in Norwegian, is egg!
Me: No it isn´t! Moose in Norwegian, is elg!
That´s when I was reminded of being a foreigner. Things are not always what I think I hear. Moose=Elg, and with an American accent, it sounds like `ellg´. However, Esten pronounced it with a thick almost silent`L´, the way any proper Norwegian would.
I apologize to my little man and give him a hug before rushing him off to get ready.
I couldn´t find the camera fast enough, but managed a blurry shot with my phone as our breakfast guest wandered over to the neighbor´s yard.
What an unforgettable morning!
Today, my eggs came with a side of moose and a hug from Esten!
How about yours?
An even more popular Esten story: