7 Years

7 years ago I left the U.S. to live out my life in Norway. I had my newlywed husband by my side, a couple of suitcases and my cat with me. I traded a life of convenience for self-sufficiency. Fast food, processed foods and restaurants for learning to cook homemade meals from scratch. My car dependency for walking much more (and sometimes walking for just the fun of it). I traded bottled water for fresh tap water. Consumerism for minimalism, and a culture of broad class divisions for flat hierarchy.

Everything I had known until that point, I left and tried to figure out in my new country.

Within that first year, I finished college, married, moved, began language classes, became pregnant and then held a newborn scared out of my mind thinking, "what the hell do I do with this?" It was a lot of change at once and I would not recommend anyone to voluntarily tackle so much at once. I never planned on things happening that way, they just kind of fell into place that way.

I have le…

Froot Loops

Who'd have thought so many Americans would be joyously celebrating Froot Loops' arrival to Norway like it's 1972? Yet here we are. Froot Loops have arrived in Norway. Our bland, unvaried  cereal aisle has become slightly more colorful.

I say slightly because, well, the Froot Loops that have now ascended from cereal heaven to Norway are lacking some color. You know, artificial color! That good ole unhealthy stuff us Americans are so accustomed to eating. When I poured my first bowl of these Froot Loops, my first thought was it looks like a comparison picture of how someone with colorblindness views Froot Loops. My eldest daughter on the other hand exclaimed, "WOW! SO COLORFUL!"

As it turns out, there are some ingredients which are allowed by the FDA, but are not allowed in foods in Europe. Food dyes are one of those things, but if a product has certain dyes in it, they must have a warning label. I suppose it's easier to do without the artificial dyes. 

However, …

The Mitten Tree

Did you know there are mitten trees in Norway? It's true. The colder and snowier the weather, the more mitten trees bloom.

Instead of leaving lost mittens, gloves and hats lying in the snow to become destroyed, lost or buried in more snow, a passerby will pick up the item and place it in the nearest tree branch. I like this about Norway; it shows some tiny form of respect for other people's belongings.

If a tree branch can't be found, the key is to use something visible and off the ground.
For example, in the picture below. The railing to the entrance of our local grocery store was used to hang someone's lost mittens.

The Dyne

On beds a dyne (duvet) is used and you purchase covers in many prints and different types of fabrics. These are a pain in the butt to put over the duvet, but we manage.

Many people have a duvet for summer months and a duvet for winter months. Oh, and the most common thing is for each person to have their own duvet.

Moving to Norway as a newlywed, I wanted to have one duvet that we shared on our bed thinking it would be extra cozy and we'd cuddle more. Newlyweds are hilariously idealistic though! This lasted only a few months before we surrendered with white flags in the war zone that was our sleeping quarters. Turns out, I'm quite territorial over the duvet. I hear a lot of women are like this. I freeze easier than my husband so I was often less comfortable than I wanted to be and he's a night owl who goes to bed later than I do which means every time he lifted the duvet, a gush of cold air would follow him waking me. We gave up with our idealism of cuddles and sharing on…

Slow TV

What's more interesting to watch on TV than 12 hours of burning wood? Paint dry maybe? Though don't let NRK know or else we may have slow TV watching paint dry.

Anyways, for those like my husband who has nothing but pure Norwegian background, meaning his ancestors had to deal with the cold before heaters and electricity, they had no choice but to turn to wood for building a fire in order to stay warm in the cold and frosty Norway. It's almost hard to understand back then, why did people stay and live in Norway before the time of electricity? Why not move to a warmer place?

So Norwegian history, I suppose, has a lot to owe to fire wood. Without it, Norwegians probably wouldn't be here today.

In a tribute to firewood, 12 hours of burning wood was shown on air. Awesome. Not only that, but Stephen Colbert laughed at how "almost 20% of the population was tuned in." National Firewood Night (cue the Norwegian pride on making it in to American news).

Or maybe you'…

Diaper Smuggling

Diapers in Norway are cheap. They're about four times cheaper in Norway than in the United States. To give you an idea, I pay around 20 kroner for a pack of size 2 Pampers diapers - about $2.50 USD. I can also buy a large box of Pampers for around 60 kroner - $6.85.

When I travel abroad (even to Denmark or Sweden) with my youngest daughter I bring extra packages of diapers so I don't have to spend any extra.

Cheap diapers ensure new parents can afford them and babies have healthier skin on their little bottoms. Not only are diapers cheaper in Norway in comparison to the United States, but all throughout Europe. Which leads to diaper smuggling. Yes, that's right, diaper smuggling. Diaper smuggling is actually a thing. People actually come over to Norway to buy diapers and smuggle them back to their home country to sell and make a profit. Yes, it's illegal to not declare goods over 5000 Norwegian kroner and yes, people get caught crossing the boarder and fined for diaper…

You've goat to be kidding me

I survived another November in Norway. November is by far my least favorite month here. It's grey, dark, wet, cold, all things uncomfortable. At this time I'm beginning to feel stir crazy. I feel like a fish swimming around and around a fishbowl. You get the point, November is not my friend!

By December the Christmas lights are out combating the darkness, I'm in the Christmas spirit and only listen to Christmas songs. Don't anyone dare change my P7 Klem radio station in the car because we are FALALALALAing the entire drive! I love Christmas in Norway! We're up north so the environment is already Christmas-y, the Norwegians are set on making everything koselig (cozy) like their lives depend on it, there is julemarked (Christmas market) on the weekends, we bake cookies all month long and partake in Christmas activities. 

I love Christmas more so now than when I was a kid. Partially because I now have my own children and seeing how fun it is for them makes it fun for…