Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have to say that with that photography project under my belt, I feel like my blogger's block might finally be at an end! I was thrown for such a loop with everything that happened this summer, that blogging often felt like the last thing I wanted to do, and so I just got out of the habit. But now I feel like I might just be back! 

I want to pick up where I left off in July, telling you about our trip to Norway (and the Netherlands and England) this spring. I just want to make sure I record some of the things we did there, so just smile and nod like looking at someone else's vacation photos is your fave, ok?

Let's start with Delft. 

While visiting Nick's sister Tess and her boyfriend, Jasper, in the Netherlands, they took us on a trip to the city of Delft. I have to say that I really enjoyed visiting a country where everything is within driving distance! We stayed in the middle of the country, and were still only about two hours from every border, which is handy for sightseeing. 

Anyway, Delft was on my list for two reasons: the artist Johannes Vermeer and Delft pottery. I hadn't really thought much about the city itself, and had my socks well and truly knocked off by it's charm and beauty. See for yourself: 

 Feel free to ignore me crouching in the corner. 

Canals were everywhere. 

 This picture just makes me smile as I remember how... cute! it all was. 

Seriously. I loved it. Even to the point of checking out some real estate in a real estate agent's window. I especially love that because it is a small city, the streets and canals are very narrow, which makes you feel like there is water everywhere. And they have these tiny bridges that just make your heart sing. 

Delft is an old city, with many of the buildings dating back to the 17th century. Because of an explosion in 1654 that destroyed most of the city, there aren't too many buildings older than that, although both of the biggest churches survived. 

The spire of the Nieuwe Kerk

A little bit of architectural humor for you. This photo shows what is known as the Nieuwe Kerk in Delft. Nieuwe Kerk means "new church," because this little spring chicken was only completed in 1492. Which makes it a total newbie compared to the Oude Kerk (Old Church) which was founded in 1246.* It makes me smile that something built almost 600 years ago is still considered "new". 

 We started out our day at the Vermeer museum. We didn't realize before we went that the Vermeer museum didn't have any of Vermeer's paintings, so that was a little disappointing. Of course, if I had thought about it, I might have remembered that his works are few and very rare, and mostly owned by foreign museums. (Art History major, remember?) Vermeer is actually one of the few great artists whose full body of work you could actually realistically see in person. He didn't paint much in the first place, and so only 34 painting remain today. I think I've seen 3, so 31 to go!

I digress.

The museum had done a great job with what they had, and once we understood what they were doing (i.e., not displaying original works by Vermeer), we enjoyed the exhibits. But I would say that unless you're a pretty hardcore art fan, you might not enjoy the museum all that much. Their gift shop was pretty, though, so you might enjoy that! :) If you're curious about this Vermeer dude and why I personally go all Art Nerd over him, you can see a pretty cool display of his work here. The Milk Maid rocks my world.

After the museum, we spent the rest of the day in search of some Delftware. I wanted a Christmas tree ornament for us (we often buy something for our tree when we travel), and plate for Nick's mama, who collects them. It wasn't too hard to track down some hand painted Delftware, seeing as about 60 percent of the town square was devoted to selling the stuff. It was, however, much, much harder to pick something. I didn't want the typical windmill-emblazoned tourist stuff, and so we were in and out of stores  like mad people, trying to find Just The Thing. We ended up getting a little hand-painted bell for our tree, bought from a lady who painted right there in her little store, and then a plate for Grandma from the official Royal Delft store. We also bought a little hand painted cow for Espen. I like the idea of getting him a little souvenir from his visits to places he won't remember when he gets older.

An attempt at taking a photo of the Royal Delft window. I got lots of glare, but ultimately decided I liked how you could see the square in the background, reflected in the window. 

Espen was desperately tired by this point, and so sick of stores and not being allowed to touch anything. I'd happily bring a bull into a china shop rather than him at that point, so we called it a day, bought some ice creams and sat down to watch the newly married couples emerge from the church and the city hall that face each other across the square.

Another place to revisit the next time we go to see Tess.

*All of this fun info found on Wikipedia. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 in 30: Back from beyond the grave.

Clearly I fell off the wagon on this one, but clearly we're going to ignore that little fact as I put forth a Herculean effort to put this baby to bed. Capisce?

*cough cough*

Day 12: Sun flare
The sun in the sky this afternoon in Spanish Fork, Utah. 

Day 15: An action shot
Nick and Espen on the slide at the park. 

Day 17: Bokeh
Just beyond my little scope! Here's a good tutorial, though. 

Day 18: Eyes
My eye. Gettin' a little artsy there.

Day 19: Summertime
Espen playing at the splash pad in Spanish Fork, Utah. 

Day 20: Water
Bridal veil falls, Provo canyon, Utah. 

Day 21: Micro (up close)
A warm giraffe in the sunshine at Hogle Zoo. 

Day 22: Landscape
Kinderdijk, Netherlands. 

Day 23: Black and white
Wheal Peevor, Cornwall, England. 

Day 24: Love
I've always loved this statue and what it represents at Vigelandsparken in Oslo, Norway. 

Day 25: Citrus
Orange tree at the flower market in Amsterdam. 

Day 26: Favorite color
 Not to toot my own knitting horn, but I really love this shade of red. 

Day 27: My weakness
These two. Seriously. 

Day 28: Transportation 
Espen and Granny at the Railway Museum in Hamar, Norway. 

Day 29: Trees
Statue trees at Vigelandsparken in Oslo, Norway. 

Day 30: Family
Just the three of us being silly on the stairs one day. 

 Phew! It feels good to get that taken care of! Granted, some of the photos are from "the archives", and weren't taken specifically for this photography challenge, but I think we'll all live. Right guys?

And now for something completely different! I'll be back.

Monday, September 26, 2011


My heart needed a little lift today, when I saw this video from our church's women's organization broadcast this past weekend. A powerful reminder of who we are.

Want more? The whole address by Dieter F. Uchtdorf can be viewed here

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Letter A

This week has become a bit of a weird one, because Espen has been sick with a stomach bug. And so we have placed ourselves under house arrest until he is back to normal again. In light of this, we won't be doing our usual toddler activity post next week,  because our activities have mainly revolved around reading books and watching hours and hours of cartoons. However, we did find time for a little before Espen got sick that I thought you might like to see. 

The Letter A Learning Activity

It might make sense to kick this off by stating that not only may it be a little nuts to try to teach a 19-month old the alphabet, I am also in no ways academically trained to do so. Having said that, I feel like being Espen's mother qualifies me to say that this little boy is interested and ready to learn! So I decided to put together a little lesson on the first letter of the alphabet for him. 

I had seen Alison of Oopsey Daisy's Mommy School posts, and felt hugely inspired by them. I think it's so cool how she recognizes her toddler's potential for learning and goes with it. I knew I wanted to start with the alphabet, so I took some inspiration from Alison's alphabet lessons, and put together my own little lesson. 

I started by gathering up a variety of objects from around the house that began with A. I also cut out two large paper A's, and printed off a coloring page from the Sesame Street section of, and got out our alphabet books for some context. I put this all together while Espen was napping, and stuck it all in a bag for extra interest/surprise/attention-holding.

A is for apple, alligator, avocado, apple sauce, angry and amazed. And for another apple and also an alligator. 

After lunch Espen played right into my hands by asking to color. So we got out paper and crayons, and drew a big, blue A. "This is an A", I told Espen. He was OK with that. Then I drew some more things that started with the letter A, like "arm", "ant" and "apple," and we talked about them. Within about 2 minutes, Espen was pointing to the A's and saying "ay!" I was surprised by how quickly he caught on.

Clearly I missed my vocation in life. Shoulda been an artist - just look at that ant! 

Then I pulled out the bag and showed Espen the objects inside, describing how each of them starts with an A. "A is for Apple. A is for avocado." I'm not sure how much of this he actually got, but he was interested and having fun, which, I think, is the most important thing at this point. Then we got out the paper A's, one for me and one for Espen. I hung mine on the wall in the kitchen, leaving room for the rest of the alphabet if we get that far. Espen carried his around, singing "ay ay ay" for a good hour afterwards. 

A little tip: I chose a font that I like (Helvetica) in a color that works well with our wall color. That way I won't mind having a bit of pre-pre-school flava to our kitchen. I'm hopeful that if and when we make it through the alphabet, we'll have a cool little wall mural going on. Or a mangled collection of chewed up paper scraps. 

Then we finished up the lesson by coloring the Sesame Street picture and watching a couple of Youtube videos about the Letter A, which Espen really loved. I felt like seeing the videos address the things we had been talking about really helped solidify the things we had been talking about in his mind. 

I was really happy with how this turned out. Espen really had fun and enjoyed himself, which was what I really wanted to accomplish, and I have to say that I enjoyed myself too. As well as having fun, I feel like Espen actually learned something. It has been five days now, and he can still identify a capital A when he he sees one. He'll even tell you what an A "says" if you ask him. (/æ/, if you were wondering.)

Including preparation, I probably spent about half an hour on this whole thing. The most time-consuming part of that was probably printing and cutting out the A's. The actual "lesson" probably lasted about 10 minutes, which was just right for what I had planned and for Espen's attention span. I think we will definitely be doing the other letters of the alphabet, but not on any sort of rigid schedule. Espen is just too young to have his days planned and rigorously scheduled for him yet, but when we're looking for something to keep us busy, we'll do the rest. It was fun for me too, and I enjoyed coming up with, and putting together, our little letter activity. 

What do you think? Is 19 months too young for "formal" learning like this? Do you teach your kids at home, or do you feel like school will come quickly enough for all of that? And if I do more lesson "plans" like this, would you like me to post them here? 

Have a good weekend! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Toddler Activities Week 5

Before we get started, I have to tell you that my son called me saucy yesterday. Saucy! I have to admit that made my whole entire week. It was just out of the blue too, which made it perfect. 

The truth is that I really haven't been feeling very saucy lately. Unfocused, unmotivated, disorganized and exhausted - yes. Saucy, not so much. While what I probably really need is a sharp kick in the pants, it's nice to know that someone thinks his mom has still got it. 


We'll be making a small change to our toddler activity round-ups. While Espen and I both love spending time with our friends, I've decided to not write about our play dates anymore. I'd hate for anyone to feel like we're just spending time with them to check something off on our list, or for the sole purpose of blogging about it. And even though I'm careful about not using identifiable names or photos of other people's children, I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable by writing about them. We value our friendships so much, and I just feel like it's better to be safe than sorry. 

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. 

Field trip I have racked my brain, and I don't think we really had one this week, unless you could a trip to the doctor's office and a quick jaunt to BYU. Which you really shouldn't. Still, with the zoo and farm country behind us and a couple of fun trips in the pipeline,  I don't really feel too bad about that. Next week! 

An ambitious activity Goodness, this one could have been so disastrous! I was feeling tired and grumpy and just generally crummy last week, so of course I called my husband at work to tell him just that. I'm pretty helpful like that. He suggested that I load Espen into the stroller and walk down to the park, about a mile away. I whined and made excuses, and then ultimately decided to go. It was hot and dry and dusty, and there is no sidewalk for part of the walk, and cars turning left at the light wouldn't let me cross, and a huge part of the walk is along a busy highway, and and and....! Espen had a great time. He's at that stage where he just loves anything with wheels, so he had a great time watching all of the cars, trucks and "O-sicles" (motorcycles) that went by. In spite of his cheerfulness, I continued to whip myself into a state of misery until we got to the park, where we discovered that the playground was closed! Not just closed, but fenced in, with enormous holes in the ground. Nick had offered to pick us up on his way home from work, but he wasn't due to leave work for another half hour, and there we were with nothing to do. 

So we made us some proverbial lemonade. Although it was September, and we were absolutely unprepared, I took a deep and anxiety-ridden breath and let Espen play on the splash pad. 

And he had a fantastic time! Yes, mine was the ghetto child playing in the water in his diaper and a t-shirt with absolutely nothing to change into, but mine was also the little boy who was having the time of his life. It seems that this is a lesson I can't learn often enough: to let go, stop worrying and just enjoy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Toddler activities: Week 4

I am in such a blogging slump right now! It's like I want to write, but then I don't have time. Or I can't be bothered. But I still want to do it. Ack!

Last week was a good week, with just the right amount of stuff going on for Espen. We somehow seemed to strike a pretty good balance of going out, having friends over and just hanging out at home. More of that, please!

Espen on the zoo train. This is basically the expression he wore all day. :)

A field trip: We were feeling brave and went to the zoo with S and her mom. It's a 45 minute drive, and I knew we would be cutting into nap time, but I also knew that Espen would absolutely love it, so off we went. Yes, things did get a bit hairy in parts when we left much later than planned for (toddlers will do that to you!) and didn't end up getting home until three hours past Espen's nap, but all in all, it was such a fun day out. The kids loved just about everything about it (with the possible exception of not being allowed inside the tiger enclosure), and the moms had a good time too. I can't recommend teaming up with another parent highly enough. I would never, ever take on a day out like this with Espen on my own, but when you go with another family the kids can play together, and you have someone else to help wrangle, feed and entertain as you go. Days out like this are making me a braver and more relaxed mom. Except maybe when there are wild turkeys trying to eat my son('s lunch).

A play date: Nice and low-key this week! We just wandered over to Espen's friend L's house. The boys played pretty well side-by-side while L's mom and I chatted. There was some refereeing to be done over sharing toys and respecting personal space, but once again I got to see that these kids are well on their way to growing up be civilized human beings.

An ambitious activity: This one wasn't even prompted by me, but this week Espen baked cookies. He has been showing lots of interest in cooking lately, and so we have been letting him get involved a little bit, by stirring things together and tasting ingredients and whatnot. I'd thought about baking cookies with Espen, but ultimately put it off because it sounded difficult and messy. Sigh. Did you know I struggle with messy? Enter my good friend Annika, who just has "fun pseudo-aunt" written all over her. We did a little baking when she came over last week, and Espen was so interested that Annika let him make cookies with the leftover dough. Difficult? Yes. It is hard to direct those little hands that are so sure they know best, and some small frustration on both parts is basically inevitable. Messy? Absolutely! See that shirt? But really, cookies can be lumpy. T-shirts and small boys can be washed. It's a small price to pay for giving my little boy a brand new experience that he loved so much. We will be buying an apron and trying again.

Annika and Espen baking cookies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 in 30: Day 16 - Mason jar/jelly jar.

This one worked out well. Espen and I happened to pick some flowers while we were out on a walk the other morning, which we then came home and put in a jar because the flowers were too short for a vase. It wasn't until later that I realized that a jar was the next thing on my photo challenge. All i had to do was whip out a quick shot while Espen ate his lunch. Nice and easy!

I love having fresh flowers around, and this loppy little bunch is especially charming, I think. It's nice to take advantage of the rest of the summer while we can.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Just a few things I wanted to tell you:

  • I made a Facebook page for Project Project! You can check it out here, and of course it would warm the little cockles of my heart if you "like" it too. It's mostly so the people who are interested in my blog can follow it without me having to post each update to my regular newsfeed, but if there's an ego boost to be had, I'll take it! I'll post some fun stuff on there too, to keep things interesting. 
  • Check out the new featured blog, Utah Valley Foodie, written by the lovely Janey, a girl who definitely knows her food. Hope you're hungry! 
  • I need a new blog header! And maybe a button. Any suggestions?  *cough cough* Want to make me one? *cough cough*
  • Do you use Pinterest? I do! Find me here

30 in 30: Day 14, Someone I love

This photo is a few days old, but shows my two favorite people. I definitely love these boys. We had a North family movie night last Sunday. It started at 4 PM and lasted all of 45 minutes, but was a lot of fun. Espen helped pop and season the popcorn, then we all cozied up in a row on the couch to watch Lyle the Kindly Viking. Espen was a big fan of the whole thing. He loved the popcorn and was very concerned about making proper use of his napkin. Or all the napkins. The best part, however, was just doing something together that all three of us could enjoy.

30 in 30: day 13 - Reminds me of my childhood

This is Kalle. My uncle Dagfinn gave him to me for Christmas when I was either two or three, and he has been with me ever since. Granted, he spent my junior high/middle school/ungdomsskole years in a closet when I was too cool and grown up for toys, but by the time I was 16, it was OK to ironically have toys again. I think I was just happy to have Kalle back, and he slept in my bed all through high school. When I went away to college it was surely time to put away childish things, so Kalle stayed home in Norway while I flew out to BYU. After a summer at home, he came to Utah with me for my second semester and stayed with me all through my college years. I lived in four different apartments with over 30 different roommates, but Kalle was a constant. And Nick, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he still slept in our bed for a while after we got married, right? Then, being an elderly gentleman in his late 20s (what is that in cuddly dog years?) he started coming apart at the seams. First his ears needed to be sewn back on, then his head almost came off. In a state of disrepair, he went back to a life in the closet. 

Until I started thinking about something that reminds me of childhood. Of course it had to be Kalle! I pulled him out and mended him. I noticed the big, uneven stitches in any-colored threads from previous mendings performed by a much younger me. He's not perfect, but he's well enough to be out and about in society now. He even made his first trip outside in about 10 years for this photo. A new life for Kalle? Let's hope so. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

30 in 30: days 7, 8, and 11.

I'm having a bit of a love/hate relationship with this challenge, but I guess that's why it's a challenge, right? Some days my life is just not conducive to taking photos of sunsets and silhouettes. Another day I was inspired to do something I have intended to do for literally years. More on that tomorrow. 

Day 7: High angle 

 I stood on the kitchen table to get this shot of Espen eating his lunch. A few thoughts: that kid is one messy eater, and I need to dust the lamp.

Day 8: Sunset

The world was not cooperating with me for this one. Sunsets move fast and don't wait for people who let the battery in the camera die while they're in the middle of a 30 day photo challenge. On my first attempt the battery died, so I went back in, defeated. Nick sent me out again with the camera on my cell phone. The pictures came out flat and awful, so I went back in, defeated. Nick sent me out again with the camera, whose battery had now a chance to charge minutely. I pointed the camera in the direction of the sky, snapped this and the battery died again. All things considered, I think it turned out pretty decent.

Day 11: Silhouette

With Nick gone at work all day, my best option for a model is Espen. Problem: Espen doesn't stop moving. Ever. Solution: Snap him while he's in his high chair and can't escape (see high angle shot above). Actually, we were giving him dinner the other night when I noticed his shadow on the wall  and thought "hey, silhouette!" Those little cheeks are packed full of spaghetti, and the other shadow is his beloved sippy. Note: Espen does not actually have a cone head. 

Toddler Activities: Week 3

Did you have a good weekend? We had another great one, just the three of us relaxing at home without any big plans or projects. I have about a brazillion photos to show you, but before I get to them, let me tell you about what Espen and I got up to last week:

Espen and C admiring the pigs.

A field trip: We took advantage of Thanksgiving Point's Two-Buck Tuesdays (sadly, now over) and took a trip to Farm Country with some friends. The earliest we could all make it was 11 AM, which made me nervous because that is getting dangerously close to nap time. We don't mess with nap time around here. But I knew it would be fun and good for us, so I took a deep breath, loaded up the car and off we went. And, oh, it was worth it!

To say Espen enjoyed himself would be the understatement of the century. We soon ditched the stroller so he could run from enclosure to enclosure as fast as his 18 month-old legs could carry him, and bellow out the name of whatever animal was inside: "A rabbit! Chickens! A cow!" Some older kids were counting the pigs with their mother, so soon we were counting everything too: "twoooo, fweee, twoo, seben..." Espen had the time of his life, although I'm not quite sure if he enjoyed the wagon ride or the chickens the most. Yes, there was tired grumpiness when we went back to the car. Yes, he fell asleep in the car and slept for 20 minutes while we drove home and refused to nap when we got there. But every once in a while, it is worth the trade-off to let him do something he really enjoys at the expense of a nap.

A few tips if you're planning a trip to Farm Country yourself:

  • If your kids are old enough, or you're only bringing one, leave the stroller at home. It's small enough that they can easily walk it themselves, plus it will be easier for the kids to see the animals if they're not strapped into a stroller. 
  • Bring snacks and drinks. They do sell some stuff there, but I wouldn't rely on it to feed your family.  Plus Farm Country has some nice grass and benches where you could picnic, which they don't mind you doing at all. 
  • Moms with small children are pushy. Push back, or you'll never get on that wagon ride. 
  • Bring hand sanitizer and sun screen. 
  • Plan on at least an hour, but probably not much more than two. We were comfortably done in about  1 hour and 15, which was just right for our little boys. 
  • Pony ride schmony ride. Only if you think it's worth $2 and 20 minutes standing in line to watch your child ride around in a circle. We are just not there yet. 
A play date: It looks like we are officially on the play date circuit, because Espen had a friend to play with every single day this week. We didn't necessarily plan it this way, but it worked out great, and Espen had a really good time. We probably won't stuff our social calendar like this every week, but we both enjoyed spending lots of time with friends while we had the chance. 

An ambitious activity: We've honestly been too busy this week! However, I have been making a conscious effort to let Espen help me around the house a lot more lately. He now has one official chore, which is loading and unloading the dryer. He takes it very seriously and works diligently until he is finished. Then he tries his hardest to push the laundry basket filled with clean clothes to the foot of the stairs. It impresses me to see him really put his tiny back into it, even if I do help out quite a lot along the way. I think it's important for kids to learn how to work, and when he enjoys it as much as he does, why not?

Besides child labor, the other thing we have been doing a lot of lately is coloring. Espen begs daily to get the crayons out, and loves to spend hours and hours scribbling away. See my mum's cute post about that here.

How was your week? 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

30 in 30: Day 9 - fresh fruit.

The more discerning among you may have noticed that I've skipped a few days in this here photo challenge. And just for the simple fact that the camera was in the kitchen and I was in the living room being much too lazy to get up off the couch and get it. Hmm.... maybe that might be what's keeping me from international super blogger stardom? No matter. 


Tuesday's challenge was fresh fruit, which you can generally find around here. Espen has been a complete fruit bat ever since we first introduced him to pureed pears at 4 months old, and so his meals generally involve some kind of fruit or berry. Blueberries have been out of rotation ever since he spent most of his meals squishing them in his hands while bellowing "SKA-WISH!", but we are giving them a try again. So far, so good, even if he does call them strawberries.