We’ll always have Paris

It’s been a wonderful 7 days in Paris. Thanks to Diana’s college friend, Mary Lewis, we’ve gotten to experience the city through the eyes of a local.

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Here are some of the things we loved about Paris, small and large:

    • Croissants.

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    • Visiting the Musée Curie. Maddie has been obsessed with Marie Curie for the past couple of years—she loves reading her story from Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls and asks me about how she won the Nobel Prize all the time. The museum is a wonderful little gem—they’ve left Dr. Curie’s lab and office just as they were when she worked there.

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Marie Curie’s office

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Maddie writing her name in the guest book at the museum.
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    • Incredible playgrounds and parks everywhere you turn, each of them with wonderful water spigots for refilling water bottles on warm days.

This is the beautiful Beuttes-Chamount Park, which had this wonderful water feature that ran all the way down a steep hillside to a large pond.

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    • Having every piece of playground equipment marked with a maximum and minimum age. Maddie and Ada seemed to pay no attention, but I’m glad Paris pays this much attention to detail.

There’s even a playground in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
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    • Of course we went to the Louvre, and of course, it was gigantic and overwhelming. It was super hot, and Maddie and Ada weren’t all that excited to explore on this day. You can see our official portrait, with Ada refusing to be photographed in the back.

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  • Numbering the floors of a building starting with 0 (and if you’re the science museum, labeling the basement with negative 1).
  • The subway—it’s hot and much dirtier than the pristine public transportation system (honestly, most operating rooms are probably dirtier than the Oslo T-Bane), but it goes everywhere, and the trains run on tires, which is just amazing.
  • Simple lunches—sure, it takes separate trips to the Boulangerie, Fromagerie and the fruit stand, but the result is incredible—a picnic with the best bread, cheese and fruit you’ve ever tasted.
  • Getting to know a neighborhood: we spent most of our time around Square Saint-Medard near the Latin Quarter in the 5th Arrondissement. This is advice I took from Tyler Cowan, and it was right on the money.IMG 0637

    In this square, we found all sorts of fun, including:

      • Dancing in the square on Sunday, when a few local musicians turn out after church to play French classics.

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    • Eating lunch in the playground in the shade of Saint Medard Church, that dates its origins back to the 7th century.
    • Enjoying delicious ice cream and macaroons from a beautiful patisserie across the street from the playground.
    • Exploring the wonderful shops along Rue Mouffetard, and finding a favorite Boulangerie and Fromagerie, that we went back to again and again.
  • Exploding all those stereotypes I’d heard about French people being rude. Every person we met was kind, welcoming and doted heavily on our two Maddie and Ada. It made really wish I’d kept up with my high school French so I could do a better job communicating with people we met.

In the end, Paris felt like a wonderfully livable, enormous city steeped in a deep history composed of layers upon layers. We’ll have to come back sometime.

The horrors of 10 days with no wifi

I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything on the blog in the past few days. Since we moved into the new apartment, we don’t have wifi, and so it’s been a struggle to post stuff to the blog using just my phone. Heck, it’s been a struggle just getting by, when my kids have become addicted to the Wow in the World Podcast and Goodnight Rebel Girls Podcast, and “need” them in order to be able to go to sleep. I’ve listened to the one episode of each that happened to episode on how migratory birds cross the ocean so many times now that I think I’m ready to migrate.

But today, my landlord brought the cable modem by, and after a quick trip to purchase an outlet splitter at the hardware store across the street, we have wifi. We have podcasts. We have Netflix. Google translate works reliably. All seems right in the world again.

I’m also very happy to report the great news that Diana’s mom is doing much better, and will likely move out of the ICU in the next few days. As I write this, Diana is also on a flight back to Oslo—hooray! We’ve then got a couple of days to pack bags and then we are off for a week in Paris, where Maddie is desperate to see Marie Curie’s house.

In the meantime, here are some photos of our adventures over the past week.

The playground at the center of our town is a tremendous hit.

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A couple of days ago, we got library cards.
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An incredible playground at Frognerparken
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Sometimes all this travel is exhausting
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Our first week in Norway

On Saturday, we celebrated our first week in Norway. In some ways, it feels like it has been an eternity—I’m certainly exhausting my list of easy things to do that I know will entertain Maddie and Ada. But it mostly feels like we are are still just beginning and there is so much to do.

It looks like Diana is going to be home in Atlanta for at least another week. Her mom has made some great progress, so please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

For now, here are a couple of cute pictures of Maddie and Ada.

Maddie and Ada on the bus to the beach.

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This is how they like to shop in the grocery store next to us.

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A day at the beach

On Saturday, we took the bus to the beach in Sandvika. I later learned that this beach was just opened, and it is gorgeous. The water was cold, and I forgot a towel, but that didn’t stop Maddie and Ada who changed into their swimsuits on the beach and jumped right in.

I think I’m starting to see why this is such a family friendly place.

Here are some cool trash cans we found on the walk to the beach.
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The beach! Ada starts by just putting her toes in the water.
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But it isn’t long until we are swimming.
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And splashing!
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In the distance below, you can see a diving structure at the beach where kids would just walk jump and jump into the water—the taller platform seemed like it was about 10m. The other thing that was just awesome was a perimeter of freshly laid sod around the beach. It’s awesome to put your stuff down on the grass, and then walk onto the beach, play around, and walk back to the grass to get all the sand off your feet when you are ready to go.

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There was also this awesome play structure we had to check out.

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There are mermaids in Norway…of course when she saw this, Maddie asked if we could get her a mermaid tail.

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Everything is expensive in Norway…even teeth

Ever since we got on the airplane to Norway a week ago, Maddie has had a wiggly tooth that she has been talking about a lot. For the past few days, it’s been hanging on in her mouth. I’ve tried to convince her to let me pull it out for the last few days with no success. She just keeps wanting to play with and talk about her wiggly tooth.

Today, we went to hang out with Maddie and Ada’s Norwegian friends (the daughters of our AirBnB hosts) and apparently as they were playing the oldest daughter, Nora, told her to pull it out. I’m not exactly sure how she did this, since Nora doesn’t speak much English, but Maddie came running into the room where Eric and I were watching the World Cup to show off her new tooth and the corresponding gap in her smile.

I asked Eric how much the tooth fairy pays for teeth in Norway, and he told me the going rate is 50kr (about $6.19), and has been going up, since the girls talk at school. It was 10 kr when he was a child.

I will add that Norway is as close to a cashless economy as I’ve seen. When I visited in March, I didn’t pay cash once. We visited the ATM earlier this week to get some money to pay for strawberries at the stand, but I later discovered that even they took credit cards.

All this is to say I think the tooth fairy is struggling to find any coinage to pay for teeth around here. So far, all I’ve seen is a small 5 kr coin. Maybe the tooth fairy should leave a note saying that when Maddie gets her Personal Number, she will send her some more money using Vipps (Norwegian Venmo). (The personal number is something like a social security number—it takes a few weeks to get one in the mail after tuning in a ton of paperwork, and is necessary for opening bank accounts, cell phone contracts, internet service and seemingly just about everything we need these days).

My kid is a Norwegian now

One thing I’ve noticed young kids do in Norway is they run around a lot in their underwear or without any clothing at all. It was true of the kids of our AirBnB host, and I’ve also seen kids playing in the fountain the center of town in just their underwear. The weather is beautiful and bordering on hot—who can blame them.

Ada has now decided to join the movement. She stood out on our balcony (in the center of twin) after dinner for 20 minutes talking to herself, and it was only the promise of Norwegian cartoons on the TV that could get her to come back in.

Only in Norway

So I’ve started to notice little things in Norway that are different from anything I’ve seen anywhere else in my travels. I’ll share a couple here and invite your thoughts on what they might be for (I think I’ve figured them out, but don’t want to spoil it for you).

Above the walkway to our apartment is the 4th floor walkway, and there are these chains hanging off the side of our walkway.

In our hallway is this electric heater, and underneath is this plastic tray.

Both of these things were initially quite puzzling to me, but after some thinking, I am pretty sure I know what they are for. I’d love hear your thoughts in the comments.