Energy shortage

I tell you all the happy, fun, adventurous stories, but here is a glance at the flipside of that tale.

Remember our wonderous trip to Lillehammer last weekend? Crazily enough the Olympic park is situated at the top of a mountain....even funnier is that our hotel was situated halfway up that mountain. Sam and I did not agree on the amount of energy he had to arrive at either location. This is the same kid that smoked us climbing the 4.8 million stairs in Alesund. There was a point where he had tried every 4 year old trick in the book. "Mine leg is broken." "I need my energy to come back." I tried the old threat that we were gonna leave him veteran parents know how that turned out. He was fine with that and sat down in the snow. We eventually made it up the mountain and miraculously Sam regained his lost energy enough to go sledding for 2+ hours.

Here are a couple of pictures from next to the hotel. They had loaner sleds and skates that you could use on the large hill nearby also. This one only had ONE tool to get sleds to the top. Daddy.

One staged photo for fun...the other is Sam as a speck to show how far up the hill I had to drag the sled.

Sign said, long haired freaky people.....

Sorry Norwegians, but this one is driving me as crazy as the ice cubes. I've been touting your roundabouts and traffic navigation since I got here. I even have one more plug before I harass you. I have only seen ONE stop sign since I got here. Very cool. What isn't so cool is the lack of signs. I think there is probably a happy medium from the US system of putting up a sign every couple of miles to tell you you've gotten two miles closer to your destination and the Norwegian "guess where you are" system. I find that the signs here are usually 10 feet from the turn or not there at all. I've had a couple of those.."The sign said I should turn.....oops" situations. I guess I'm only typing this to get back at them for making me go around the roundabout in Andalsnes like 5 times. There were like 6 choices and since the sign is basically right at the roundabout itself you have 2 seconds to memorize the spokes and then 3 more seconds to actually turn the car. I'm pretty sure the sign for that roundabout looked like this.


Wings? We don't need no stinking wings!

Well we are back from a long, tiring, super fun weekend in Lillehammer, Norway. For some of you the name of the town probably rings a bell, but for those of you that it doesn't, Lillehammer was the site of the 1994 Olympic games. We had put together a mini "Amazing Race" game for the kids, complete with clues and tasks for them to accomplish while making our way to Lillehammer. Sam was more enamored with the race idea than Sara was, but secretly I think she had fun with it too. More on some of that later.

The highlight of the trip was our trip to Kanthaugen at the Olympic park where we went tobogganing. The movie I have included below is the best way to describe it to you. We had a blast! This ranks up there on the life experiences list. Screaming down the hill with either the 13 year old or the 4 year old laughing and being a kid. Sam even asked me at one point, as we travelled back up the mountain, "Why are you laughing so much dad?". I hadn't even realized I was. Here is the video from someone elses visit. They do a good job of capturing the action.

Off for the weekend

We have some plans for the kids this weekend and won't be home until Sunday night. Our little weekend trip better go as planned or I'm gonna be mad. I've made 3-4 phone calls to the place we are going and have received three different answers about the availability of certain things. Sorry for being so cryptic, but Sara reads the blog and I don't want to spoil the surprise. That being said, I hope everyone has a great weekend. I will have an update late Sunday afternoon if all goes to plan.

Top o' the morning

Ok. I'm dumb. I have seen many pictures on the web of Alesund and every collection has the same shot. I thought that all those people had basically stolen the best picture of the city they could find and used it for themselves. Well....apparently this picture is available to all for free...with a catch. All you have to do is climb the 418 steps to the mountaintop observatory and it is all yours. Mind you there are 418 steps and also 400 yards of ramps and slopy walkways. I now know that Americans are fat for one extra reason. We don't have observatories above our cities. If we did, we would all weigh less. Of course in the US we would put a McDonalds at the top and everyone would celebrate with an extra value meal. We made the hike today since the weather was nice and the sky was clear. This walk, drag, climb is a must see for visitors here. Check it out.

Sorry if the posts aren't clickable to get a better size picture. I will send them to the shutterfly link you can click up at the top right logo.

Message in a bottle

I've noticed that my super duper poll from the other day had the following results ranked by answers.

  1. More pictures
  2. More posts
  3. Better grammar (jerks)

I've responded by increasing #2 and we haven't had opportunity to add to the photo collection. "Better grammar"? Good luck. You are just going to have to suffer through that one.

Sam is a big fan of the usual 4 year old things. Fire trucks, big tractors, and police cars. The other day we were walking around town and he asked me what the big yellow van was. Turns out it was the "Politi" (Police). We also noted that this was the first police vehicle we had run into the entire time we had been here. Sara inquired at school why there weren't more police cars or why we didn't see them. The response? "Why? We don't need them. They will come if we call." Interesting thought. I'll try to remember it while I'm driving Rt. 4 in Tampa, looking right and left every 2 minutes. I've read that the Norwegians love their traffic cameras and maybe those are standing in for the Politi, but I've only see 2 or 3 of them and there are 2 on the road between here and Alesund. I think the Norwegians have better things to do than to break the law.

Follicle folly

After many weeks of smooth sailing, today my lack of ability to speak Norwegian cost me. I took Sam to get his hair cut and I was also going to get mine cut. I talked with the stylist about cutting Sam's hair...all according to Jen's instruction. Don't cut it too short was the biggest deal. The girl spoke good English, so I thought she understood.....until she took the first swipe at Sam's hair with the clippers. So after the first swipe up the middle of his head, what are you supposed to do? Tell her to put it back? Make it longer? I chose to sit in my chair and devise a plan to tell my guy how I wanted my hair cut so we both didn't end up the same way. My turn came and due to the nature of my "haircut" all I needed to know was the metric measurement, 4 mil. Phew. As my hair was being "styled" I saw Sam and his stylist in negotiations over something. A toy? A lollipop? No....what color to spray paint his hair. As he was climbing out of the chair I noted that they had settled on green. I walked back to the car wondering how this was going to go. Too short? Yes. Too not his natural color? Yes. Spiked into a faux-hawk? Check! The only saving grace was that Sam loved it. I have no doubt that Jen is blogging this same episode over at Go see her side of the story.

Piece of cake

Yesterday I stumbled upon a small party out in the neighborhood circle in front of the house. I say I stumbled upon it, but I actually saw cake sitting on the table out there and carefully inserted myself into the party. Ok...not really, but it sounds like something I would do. They saw me wandering around aimlessly and politely invited me to have some cake. Curiously I managed to pick up some of the conversation and understand a word or two, here and there. One of the guys offered me some "Norwegian coffee", but I'm on to him. I peg him as the neighborhood comedian and I'm pretty sure it was just plain coffee. All in all a normal afternoon here. Sitting around a big rock picnic table, 40 degrees, eating cake and speaking in a foreign language. I wind up my little visit by rustling up my best Norwegian, throw a "Tak for kakke" their way, and I'm back off to work. Try that phrase in the US and be prepared to be arrested or chased through the streets.

Post-chemo post

Antoher Larry post...what a lucky guy.

Chemo went well it appears. All the blood tests and tests from the week prior were good. I can't actually speak to all the test results though....most of them are written like a script from "House" or "ER". All mumbo jumbo code for you are either super healthy or need hospitilization. The biggest news out of the whole day was that he is scheduled for a PET scan on April 2nd. I'm calling it big news, but there are all sorts of thoughts that surround it. Of couse everyone wants to see that the chemo is having an effect and dad is headed toward being cured. I'm hoping that even if the results are mixed that the doctor gives the message I would. Something like..."We are only halfway through, don't worry" or "No big deal, we have some work to do. Hang in there". That's the last time I will mention the possibility of anything remotely negative. I think I'll just send the doctor a link to this blog and he can use my best material. Keep up the positive thoughts everyone, and thanks.

Just thinking out loud.

I had another discussion with my new friend who is living in my house. If anyone is confused by that statement you haven't been reading close enough. He had a couple of observations about their time in the US and I thought I would share some of it with you.

He has noticed that everyone seems to be in a rush to go from here to there and probably back again. There seems to be very little time devoted to relaxation or slowing down. The observation that brings this home is one he made at church. He noticed that people started to leave during the last song because, apparently, they had another place to get to or didn't want to get caught up in the crowd. It's an interesting thought. If you take the time to go to church you might as well stay the extra minute for the entire service and enjoy the crowd. That crowd is probably the best crowd to get hung up in.

My mom will lecture me about telling people how to go to church because I don't really go, but the story is the same for other things. I'm not really trying to lecture at all. I'm writing down reminders for myself when I get home. Here is the list so far.

  1. Walk and bike more. I live less than a mile from the grocery and drove there all the time.
  2. Have more fun and teach the kids how to have fun. Wow....that has to be on a list?
  3. I don't need "stuff". I don't need as much "stuff".

This isn't the whole list....just getting a start. Plus...I have more travelling to do. Who knows what I'll figure out later.

One of THOSE days.

I get snippets of information out of Orion lately. The dog ate a stick of butter, going here, going there. I guess there is just nothing to tell. Someone go over there and cause a ruckus.

It's chemo day. I can't wait until I don't have to type that anymore. Everything seems the same on the Larry health front. I'm sure he's psyched about sitting in a chair for a few hours. Sam has offered him his Nintendo DS, but my dad has never been big into video games. In fact I don't think I've ever seen my dad play a video game. Lets hope there is something interesting in the Quad City Times today or even better the Moline Dispatch. I think my friend Mike Locander works over there as a greeter or something.

That's it for now. I'll try to get some post-chemo info. and pass it along. Later.

Hey Boo Boo....

Yesterday was picnic day! One of the bad things about winding down our time here in Norway is that when we decide to do something, we had better do it. There aren't many options to re-schedule. So with some rain coming down, the temperature at its usual 45 degrees we were off and running. We had a backpack full of supplies and a destination.

After travelling hundreds of yards loaded down with sandwiches we arrived at the previously blogged location down the tractor path and onto the rocks. We had decided on our last visit that it would be fun to have a picnic there and darn it we were gonna have fun. The rain stopped as soon as we arrived and the rocks were keeping the wind away, so it turned out to be a good decision. The kids had a great time climbing on the rocks and "cave exploring". I don't have any witty comments, funny asides, or introspective thoughts. Just noting our fun picnic day. This probably won't make it into the published book when my writing is discovered, so consider yourselves "behind the scenes". We do have a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Home Exchange Marketing

I thought this might be a good post for a lazy Sunday. When we describe to people what we are doing there is always this pause, a funny look, and then the questions start. I thought I would take a moment and answer the questions for those of you that haven't had the opportunity to give me the funny look.

The home exchange idea was borne out of a conversation Jen and I had about the possibility of living in the Philippines for X amount of time because the opportunity to work there for APC was possible. Once we shelved that idea for various reasons, Jen had to find another way to take the family on an adventure. Without going into even more details we discovered two sites: and You can visit those sites for the details on how things work, but here are the questions we always get.

Aren't you afraid the people are going to trash your house / car?
This is always the first question. Always. Maybe it's the idea that everyone who is a stranger to you is a vandal. Maybe we all really think other people are inherently bad...I'm not sure. We have always thought that the people who are willing to trust you with their house are people who would take care of your house. I'm pretty sure there isn't a nefarious gang of home exchangers who are bent on destroying other peoples houses. People who are your friends now at one point were strangers to you.

I wouldn't want people going through my stuff
Ummm....put it away. I don't have some weird compulsion to dig through other peoples things. Both parties have put away the stuff they want off limits and either locked them up or put a sign on the door. We respect that. If you think about it...what stuff do you have lying around that you don't want people to see? If you don't want people to see it, it's already hidden or locked up. I'm not even going to speculate what that might be.

I made this a simple header because it is simple. We continue to pay the bills and mortgage for our house and things and they do the same. Easy. The only cost to the exchange is getting there and back. There is a market for exchanging home within the United States, so you don't have to travel abroad if you don't like. It sure cuts down the costs of staying someplace for a long term visit. We are already trying to think of the places in the U.S. that we might want to visit in the same manner. The only thing you have to have is a house in an area that other people might want to visit and who knows what that might be.....

Exchanges gone bad.
As with anything there are pitfalls and horror stories. The biggest problem we have heard about home exchanges are missed expectations. People who don't give full disclosure, make their house seem bigger, cleaner, or better than it is. The cure for this is to have a dialogue with the people that goes beyond the logistics of the exchange. Get to know them a little and you will get to know if there are possible problems. Even if your expectations are off a bit it isn't like you have committed to living there the rest of your life. You have to be prepared to shrug your shoulders, make the best of it, and move on.

There ya and tricks from the guy who has half an exchange under his belt and didn't even do most of the planning for it in the first place. We can really only say great things about our experience so far and frankly I'd rather keep it that way.

Baseball, Apple pie, and Alesund

Let me get this part out of the way before I make my comments. Norway is beautiful, Alesund is an amazing city full of interesting stuff. Ok? Now.....why do I keep running into Americans here? I understand that when you have a country of almost 300 million people, some of the riff raff is going to leak into other cities and towns...but Alesund? We were in the grocery store the other day when our English gave us away. A guy walked up and introduced himself to us in English, asked us where we were from and told us he was originally from, I think, New York. He was perfectly nice, asked us to meet him for coffee sometime and disappeared. Ok, weird, but not that weird. Yesterday another guy walks into our favorite cafe while we are eating our meal and says to the clerk behind the counter "Hey want anything from the states? We are headed back in 5 days". I really didn't expect to hear the word "dude" the entire time I was here. Lastly...we were walking along the waterfront in Alesund and Sams 4 year old volume dimed us out as Americans. The lady walking nearby smiled and said "Oh it makes me smile when I hear a child about my grandsons age speaking English like that. He's back in New Jersey and I miss him". I can't be sure she was originally from New Jersey, but she spoke perfect "American" and I think she even said "g'head" as we went to cross the street. I am now on the lookout for more of us...maybe they will have ice cubes for me.

Picture of some tourists, doing some touristy things.

Over the Rainbow

Hi all,

Just short entry to keep the weekend lively here on WLL. We are headed out and about and are never quite sure what we will find. We did find something interesting yesterday, but I find that "interest" is in the eye of the beholder also. As we were driving through town I happened to glance at a ship tied up to the dock and found myself doing a double take. You might have to be a history buff, a peace activist, or an encyclopedia nerd to appreciate this, but the name of the ship was "Rainbow Warrior". Jen just shrugged her shoulders when I mentioned it, Sam started looking for a funny warrior, painted in many colors, I turned the car around to get a couple of pitcures. (The second picture is mine)

Here is a link to the story of the Rainbow Warrior, a ship in the fleet of the organization Greenpeace. Click here

I'm excited to go out today, invigorated by finding something unexpected. Even if I am the only one to think it was cool.

Larry update - pretty much status quo

Dad is doing the same as he has been really. He's been driving a bit more around town, chasing all the things my mom leaves behind wherever she goes. Sorry mom.

He went in for a series of standard tests yesterday to keep an eye on his various issues. EKG, CBC, I think he had a heart echo test done also. All standard stuff I think. Chemo seems to have been moved to Tuesdays and he has his 8th treatment coming up on this Tuesday. While he is doing well and everything has settled into a routine I'm not sure that he will be recovering further until his body stops being pummeled every two weeks with chemicals. Once those are done I hope we can see his energy improve, get his appetite back, and then see where he can go. It's a long road he's on, I'm glad to see him chugging away. More later.

Gizmos, gadgets, and whizbangs

I have had to make a number of adjustments on this trip to accomodate things that I either didn't think about or things that just don't work the same way. I thought I'd share some of them with you. Sorry this is kinda for the geeks that might be reading, but most of it is gadgety.

Rebtel - I'm using this service to provide me a local phone number in any country I set up. Once I do this I can call the local phone number for free and it will forward my call to other numbers I set up on their internet site. The cost for international calls is less than 2 cents per minute this way.

Kindle for iTouch - Granted you have to have an iPhone or iTouch from Apple to take advantage of this tool, but the idea is cool (to me). I have downloaded about 5-6 books from Amazon and have started reading them on my iTouch. Beats the heck out of loading up my pack with books for a trip. Too heavy.

Facebook - I keep in touch with a lot of friends and some family on Facebook. Makes me feel like I'm not stranded on an island somewhere if I can read about what everyone is doing back home. I have found old friends from college and high school and I am up to speed with whatever they have decided to share with everyone.

Logitech Web cam - We were worried about not being in touch with various people while we were travelling and bought the camera linked here. It has been so cool to see and talk to my mom and dad, as well as Jen's family. Sam loves making faces at his little cousin Allie. I would say that this purchase has provided the best link to home. We use it with Skype to make and receive video calls for free.

Well that should about cover that for now. If anyone has any questions about any of the above, shoot me an e-mail.

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday...."

I wasn't going to post this, but it is what I'm thinking about. I want a hamburger. I suppose it is the midwesterner in me trying to get out. It's not like they aren't available here, it's just that they aren't on every single menu like they are at home. I live with two girls who don't eat hamburgers and a 4 year old who can't get to a drive thru yet. I could make this into some social message to the masses to tell you how lucky you are, stop and smell the roses, don't pass up opportunities in's just a hamburger.

In the meantime this link will have to do. Yummmmm.

Time since last hamburger - 6 weeks.

Amazing.....or is it?

Since early indications are that people want "more posts" I feel obligated this morning. I'm also grateful to the brave soul who voted "No polls".

We are huge fans of "The Amazing Race" and talk all the time how we would do on such a show / race, so I think this exchange is just a test run for the show. Here are the differences:

Amazing Race
Requires something like 20 weeks off from work.
Amazing Home Exchange
Requires 20 different technology gizmos so that I can keep logging 40+ hours a week.

Amazing Race
Consists of racers who are people with crazy backgrounds or interesting lives that compel someone to put them on TV. Usually half of the racers have been.....surgically enhanced.
Amazing Home Exchange
Consists of a couple of ordinary people with goofy kids. We would actually make for good TV. We argue about directions, usually choose solutions opposite of each other, and we are open to being surgically enhanced.

Amazing Race
Racers compete in a series of tasks designed to test their teamwork, communication skills, and physical abilites.
Amazing Home Exchange
Pretty much the same.

Amazing Race
During the race people can win super prizes and the grand prize winners get a million dollars and some small level of fame.
Amazing Home Exchange
This one works the opposite of the Amazing Race. At the end you have spent a million dollars and in between you tell the kids we can't buy any super cools things because we don't have room in our backpacks. (This is actually a pretty cool excuse)

That about covers it. Tune in next week when I compare our exchange trip to an episode of "Lost".

Poll....for fun

You can choose more than one answer. : )
I would like to see:
More posts
Less posts
Better grammar
More pictures
No polls
Free polls from

Larry can say it both ways.

Quick update from Orion. All is relatively well. They are keeping busy and Dad is getting out and doing a variety of things. This has involved a neighborhood euchre night, breakfast with the church guys, and his PULSE activity. Sunny (our dog) has been keeping him company and helping. Mom says he is reading a book and doing the crossword in the paper. He is still VERY emotional when attention turns his way, so the rules for talking to Larry are:

  • Don't start with "How are you doing?" - Especially with that hand on the shoulder or pat on the back maneuver.
  • Some good starter topics are: Baseball, weather, nuclear proliferation (just seeing how far you read)
  • Try not to end with a teary hug of your own. Maybe a "Catch ya later" followed with a high five.
Ok, so I'm mostly just kidding. There isn't a ton you can do to keep him from whatever gets him going, but don't let this possibility keep you from stopping by, writing or calling. I'll end this post with a group of photos from our trip this weekend. Leisurely trip around the area.

A little hole in the wall

Ok, this is gonna sound wimpy but I'm going to tell you this story. I've been in tunnels before, lets get that part straight. You know the kind...The Ted Williams tunnel in Boston, lit up like it's daytime, 10 lanes wide. I've even been in tunnels that I had considered kind of creepy, but they were usually measured in yards, like 800 yards max. Well...I got the full tunnel treatment this weekend. We had decided to visit some of the nearby islands to some beaches, lighthouses, and various other "things to see" and we knew that the trip involved using tunnels. Big deal, you pop in one side, you pop out the other. Here comes the wimpy part. First, these tunnels were long. I think we went through 3 of them and each was about 2 miles long. Second, these tunnels were dark. Fred Flinstone dark. Third, these tunnels were deep and steep. I laughed at the speed limit signs that said 50 km/hr since that would be like scooting down a ski slope on your butt. I won't even complain about the $20 it cost to use the tunnels because for me it was like an amusement ride, but I got to drive. Sam and Sara, however, are still strapped into the back seat. We can't get their hands unclenched from the seats. Gotta go. I have to bring them some food.

Sanford and son

Over the course of all my writing I can't really tell if I've been picking too much on the Norwegians, the British, or the today, the Americans can have a little "picking on".

I've alluded to the fact that we Americans might be a little to uptight and could take some lessons from the Norwegians, but I have a couple more examples for you.

We all know by now that Sara is digging her school time here in Norway, but here are a couple of detailed reasons why. It sounds silly, but they don't wear shoes in school. It doesn't sound like a silly idea, just a lot different. The kids call their teachers by their first names. I know a lot of you won't like that one, but it seems to work for them. The other day the kids went on a hike to a little junkyard camp that was made up of things we would consider junk. We probably wouldn't let the kids play around this stuff for fear that they might injure themselves. Here they use it as a tool to let the kids explore, be creative, and generally, have fun. I'll post some pictures at the bottom so you can see. There is a lot more emphasis on the kids as people, not as scores from a fill in the bubble test. I'm tempted to type some sort of "I'm sure that there are things like this in the U.S." blah, blah, blah...but it's just an observation of some differences, not an indictment of some sort.

At the the risk of sounding like some "Save the planet" nut I have another one for you. Orion people...I'm really gonna pick on you for this one. Sorry. Our exchange partners noticed that everyone in our area back home drove everywhere, even when it was close by or didn't seem to make sense. Why do we do that? He mentioned that people looked at them a little strange when they rode their bikes to church. Now for those of you that don't know where I grew up or don't know my references to Orion, it is a small town of 2,000'ish people smack dab in the middle of the midwest. The reason they might feel a little picked on is that every single church in that town is a walk or a bike ride away from every house in town. Why don't we or why didn't we walk or ride to church? Set aside the -10 degree weather or the 100 year old people that attend and it makes you think. Hey pressure!

Ok....I typed two big long rants at you, so I'll move on to the pictures. Thanks for listening. You know where to find me if you think I'm crazy.  : )

Has anyone seen Dasher?

Well we all knew this day was coming. If there are any new readers to my blog that haven't been sufficiently prepped, I apologize. Today I ate some Reindeer. In deference to any vegetarians reading this is all I'm going to say about it. Except that it was tasty and didn't taste like chicken. I'll be the one smirking while singing Christmas carols now. Sorry.

While we are on the subject of food I'll mention another Norwegian, ummm, observation? Everywhere you go there is an opportunity to buy candy. It's not a lot different than in the states except there seems to be a lot more of it and people are buying, including my kids. We have instituted a "green" solution to the abundance of candy here. The kids can have candy money that they get from recycling plastic bottles. Unfortunately this means that Sam gets even weirder looks than usual around here because he is the kid who shrieks like a lunatic when he sees a plastic bottle. He pounces on it and yells "Candy!". I'm not sure they will be inviting us back.

For my last note...Thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes. I realized that of the 4 of us, 3 of us are going to celebrate our birthdays on this trip and in 3 different countries. I told Jen to pick a date and a country and we would celebrate her birthday whenever and wherever she chooses. I'll let you know what she decides.

I think more pictures have been added to the shutterfly site linked on the right. Sara has some interesting photos from a school activity that should be fun to look at. I'll make her put them up soon also. 

Scoop's the deal. Every once in a while I hijack this blog and get off on a tangent. I can't control it, things just occur to me. My latest realization is about my daughter Sara.

I've covered how I am inspired by my dad, how strong I think my mom is, how great of a wife I have, and Sam makes it into all the pictures as the cute 4 year old. Sara makes the cut a lot of times but I thought I would take a minute and share some Sara thoughts.

Let's get the disclaimer out of the way. Sara and I have our moments. I'm usually the jerky punishment guy who doesn't always have enough patience or doesn't "get it". Lately there hasn't been as many of those moments, but it isn't because I'm getting less jerky or patient. I think it might be because Sara is growing up. I would tell you not to tell her I think so, but it is probably inevitable that she comes across this entry. I'm proud of Sara all the time, but lately she has been stepping it up. Sara is currently getting all A's and B's while attending on-line school, and there are more A's than B's. This is good stuff, but Sara also attends school here in Norway for most of the day and reports that she has been answering questions in class that are presented in Norwegian. Sara has a lot going on in her life and without sharing her business here on this internationally read blog.....she is accomplishing a lot being away from her friends, in a foreign country, and just being 13. I'm proud of our Sara.

For those of you who know Sara....drop her a line at, she would be happy to get e-mails and greetings.

Ok...back to normal Jon, er, well....the old Jon. Talk soon.

Post-Light, you know, like Bud-Light

First...some Larry info.

Dad had another round of chemo yesterday and the PIC line inserted the day prior. They decided to forego the "B" drug Bleomycin because the doctor heard something in dads lungs and seemed to attribute it to "B" or thought it may be worsened by it. Click that link and check out the side effects. I wouldn't want to take that drug either. It does seem to cause some of the side effects dad is feeling, so maybe he will get a small reprieve. All of the blood tests are in good ranges. He is having a bunch of tests soon to review all of the data. 

Trip info.

We have been taking it easy for the last week or so, soaking up the quietness of the area and getting out for some well needed exercise. I've been trading stories with my counterpart in our exchange and I'm happy to know that I'm not the only person who is frustrated by the red light at the nearby corner in Land O Lakes. I don't think I'm going to go back and convince the city to replace it with a roundabout, but serously...that light is like 2 hours long. Jen and I were talking today that it is strange that other people are bascially living in our house, but we don't have any concern about it. Hopefully we will get together with this couple at a later date and trade more stories.

Technical isuses?!#$&

Hi - If anyone is having trouble viewing the blog in all its glory could you e-mail me and tell me what trouble you see? I am having some issues seeing it on my laptop and can't be sure others aren't having the same problem.

I know the title of the blog appears screwy in certain browsers and sizes, but I'm interested in any issues that prevent you from seeing the posts or other things.


Corn Flakes....I couldn't think of a title and the box was just sitting there.

I've made a few more discoveries or more accurately I've come to some additional realizations on our trip. Since everyone who reads this blog is sitting on the edge of their chair waiting for my next tip, trick, or observation I will make you wait no longer.

I don't miss TV
Don't get me wrong. I'm not "missing" TV, I'm just not watching it ON the TV. Since the people who own the house only get the Norwegian version of PBS and some channel that seems to be dedicated to ski jumping, Jen and I have been watching TV on our computer. Sure beats paying Verizon $5,000 a month for the privilege of watching "Deal or no deal" every 15 minutes. We have been using and the online offerings from the various networks. I may have to evaluate our cable bill when we get home. Don't tell Jen.

I have too many clothes
Another misleading title really. As a typical guy I have 5 pairs of jeans...all the same. 20 T-shirts with various logos and words printed on them. 5 of them from the kids as assorted gifts and I'm forbidden from getting rid of them. Of all those things I really only have one-third of that travelling with me. I realized that at home I just wear something and throw it in the dirty clothes and next thing you know there is a pile of not so dirty clothes and a lot of work to do. Trust me...I think I smell perfectly fine after limiting this activity. Maybe I should ask around about that one as I think about it.

We can cook our own food
Ok, well when I say "We" I mean Jen. Jen is a great cook and an inventive one. Since the closest place to get "eating out" food here is the gas station down the street, we have been cooking our own meals. Back home we wrote one check to Verizon as noted above and the rest of our money went to Tortilla Flats. I do miss their flautas though.

Shoes? We don't need no stinking shoes!
Ok...this one is a two parter. The first part - we have been ditching our shoes at the door in the basement and none of us has ever worn our shoes in the house in the last 5 weeks. The house seems much easier to clean and is much cleaner. You can send this little tip off to Better Homes and Gardens if you give me partial credit. The second part - I basically have one pair of shoes and if really pressed I would say I need two. The first pair is a pair of boots that pretty much serve every purpose except for something like playing basketball. I have hiked, run, climbed, shoveled, and travelled with these boots and so far have not worn the other pair of shoes I have with sneakers. I'll let you know how this works out as the weather gets warmer. I know everyone is super fired up to know that we will be talking about the shoes at a later date.

My kids are not normal
This is probably an eight parter, but I've already typed more this morning than the last three days combined. Sara goes to school basically two times a day in two countries and is doing great. Sam talks to his grandma and grandpa and his cousin Allie on the computer complete with headphones and camera....that's normal. They complain when asked to pick up toys that are 6 inches from their hands but slogging through a London subway with all our luggage in 25 degree weather hardly gets a peep. I'll let you know if they ever become normal.

That about covers it. Check out both blogs. We both love comments and e-mail from anyone who is paying attention. Talk soon.

Surfing the Net...

Since it is almost 5:00 a.m. here I can't really call and get the latest from Orion, so you're stuck with more on Norway and our travel plans.

We have firmed up our gap week between the Netherlands and Sweden. I'll spare you the details, but it involves the following locations: Rotterdam, Guernsey Islands, La Havre, France, Barcelona & Madrid, Spain,and a little bit of Belgium. By the time we are done with those trains, planes and automobiles the kids will either grow up to love travel or be agoraphobic. Wish me luck.

It was a fun week here in Emblem. We had a weenie roast out in the cul de sac circle with the neighbors. It was pretty much the same as in the states, the smoke still follows you as you stand around the fire. They thought it would be fun to review the stereotypes they have of Americans and wanted to know the ones we had of Norwegians. You'll be happy to know that they weren't bold enough to tell us any real bad stereotypes they had, but they do find Americans to be very, how did they say it? "Super hero afflicted"? They say that Americans tend to think that we are the strongest, biggest, best and very proud of it. I told them that we didn't have stereotypes of Norwegians because we didn't really know what Norway was or even that it was a country. That oughta teach them. They enjoyed the joke and we had some good laughs. They are a very friendly, interesting bunch.

Sam has had a good time playing with the kids in the neighborhood....they communicate through stares and screams pretty much. We found an interesting play area around the back of one of the homes here. We discovered it as we looked up on the hill and found that all the neighborhood kids had been trapped in a net and faced certain doom. Turns out that one of the fathers down the street had strung an old net up the hill behind the house and ALL the kids were welcome to try it out. Here is a visual.

We are headed into Alesund again today to take a tour of the ship that docks there at noon. If Sam has his way we will be sailing on it. I'll let you know where we land.

Orion post

I called Orion today to get an update and see if anything is going on. There isn't much to report except my Mom and I were discussing chemo and other things and I realized that Dad is halfway done with his chemo. 6 down and 6 to go with # 7 scheduled for Monday. He is still struggling to gain or even maintain his weight, but seems to be hanging in there. He is attending a workout type program called "Pulse" that keeps an eye on people while they workout and apparently it involves taking their pulse. Marketing genius huh?

On a sad, but curious note, my Mom and Dad attended the funeral procession of Sgt. Schuyler Patch, who was killed in Afghanistan last week. The curious part is that they mentioned that they were on the news as they watched the procession. The more curious part was that I managed to grab a still shot from the video and I am posting it here.

I have an enormous amount of respect for the members of our military for their service and dedication. My thoughts go out to this mans family and the families of the other service members doing their job. My father has served as an honor guard for the Orion American Legion and I'm sure that he shares my thoughts and would want me to pass them along as his own.

Alesund redux

Depending on how observant you are you might notice a couple of changes. One of them is on purpose, the other, on accident. I finally found a way to put a comment link and count at the bottom of each post. Hopefully this will make it easier and more obvious for everyone. I'm working on the post titles because for some reason the size of them shrank when I adjusted the other. This is forcing me to know more HTML than I wanted to. Another change I'm making is that I'm going to try to limit the pictures to 1 or 2 at a time, but include a link to our Shutterfly photo album so that all the pictures are in one place. Jen has a blog also that is listed in the right hand column called "Homeroamers".....stop over there for a different perspective on our travel.

We went into Alesund again the other day because the weather was so nice. Turns out that the closer you get to the sea, the colder it gets. 56 here at the house turned into 36 standing by the lighthouse. Lesson learned. Apparently a cruise ship makes a stop in Alesund everyday from noon to 3:00, so from 12-3 anyone who mutters a single word of English pays double. We have taken to whispering and acting Norwegian. We have found a little cafe in Alesund that we enjoy, but only once a week as a treat. It's a fun place to try some new Norwegian words without getting "the eyeball".

More soon...check out the photo link for shutterfly if you like. I think almost all of our pictures are there.

I'm old. Don't e-mail me and tell me you're older.

Maybe it is because I have a birthday next week and I'm feeling older by the day, but I know what I'm enjoying about living in Norway right now. It reminds me of growing up. Things seem simpler here. As a kid I remember things that, up to this point, my children haven't been able to experience. Riding bikes around town, playing by the railroad tracks and building the double secret fort that no one knew about. Things like disappearing on a Saturday morning after cartoons and only coming back home long enough for a snack or something to drink. Telling mom that we would be over at the school playing and that was enough information for her to know we were ok. Things feel a little like that here. The kids are a little more free to wander around, the parents a little less on edge about where everyone is at every minute. The lady next door greeted us along the road the other day and said she couldn't talk too long as she left the baby in the stroller back at the house. Sure enough, as we approached the house, there was the stroller sitting unattended with the baby resting quietly and safe.  My mom and her contemporaries are nodding their heads and mumbling something about my age parents being uptight or over"something" it overbearing or overprotective, or insert your favorite line. I'm glad I get to let Sam climb the rocks and play outside without worrying about his every move. I'm glad we get to let Sara go to the mall on the bus with the other 11-12-13 year olds, because it will be fine. What could happen? I hope we find that this theme persists on this adventure. It would be nice to get some solid "kid time" for them before we go back to our gated, stay within eyesight surroundings. Ok...I'm only this when you start talking about the "good old days"?

Promontory....didn't even have to look it up!

Who would have thunk it? Today we woke up and I checked the thermometer and it read 46 degrees. For some reason I thought I had 3 months of borderline hypothermia ahead of me. Consider that we are a short trip from Iceland and you probably would think the same thing. Once I saw the 46 reading it was was time to get out and explore a little better. The family that lives here had left a map that had some directions about how to get to the water that we can see from our porch. The directions involved travelling upon some form of tractor path, so it was still a little sketchy. We managed to find the tractor path, and it lived up to my expectations of a tractor path and even seemed to serve as a horse path as Sam found ample "evidence" of horses. Once we managed to dodge the loose gravel, mud, melting snow, and "evidence", we came to an opening at the mouth of a small inlet. There were a number of boat houses and a couple of them looked like they might have been left over from the time of the Vikings. We crossed the stream, a result of the snow melt, and proceeded to climb the rocks to see what we could see. We eventually made it up to the promontory and Sam proclaimed it "the best place ever!" Anyhow....we enjoyed the view for a little while, but the reality of going back home because "Dad has to work" eventually set in. As usual we took some pictures, and as usual, most of them don't do the trip justice. We are hoping that sun and blue skies will eventually follow the temperatures and the photos will get better too. Here are a couple of photos from the walk and an Orion update below.

Orion - If anyone has a remedy for itching pass it along to Orion. Seems my dad is having some sort of reaction / affliction and is scratching himself into a frenzy. My mom has tried all of the usual things, but nothing seems to work. That's about it from there. My dad said he watched a basketball game and that he is doing nothing exciting. He's pretty short with his conversations with me so if any of you talk to him and find he is up to something more interesting please pass it along. See ya soon.