At the beach

Before we get too deeply into fall, I wanted to show you a bit more about our trip to Norway this summer. Goodness, time really does fly, doesn't it? It's hard to believe that it's almost three months since we arrived in Norway, jet lagged and happy. 

Norway had the hottest July on record in decades while we were there, and while we desert dwellers can handle the heat, the humidity was especially hard to bear. So as soon as Espen (who has the hardest time with jet lag) stopped falling asleep all over the place, we packed up and headed down to the beach to cool off. 

Building sandcastles.

Now, when you think of Norway, you likely think of fjords and coastline and whatnot. Well, I grew up roughly as far from the coast as you can get in Norway. But we do have lakes and rivers, and on a hot summer's day, if you can swim in it, it will have Norwegians in it. My little hometown of Løten has a couple of small lakes, and so we took the kids to the very same little beach where my parents took us when we were kids.

Gwen is not without a healthy portion of Norwegian skepticism. 

Gwen, whose swimming experiences were at that point limited to hot tubs and inflatable pools, was understandably a little skeptical of this whole lake scenario. But eventually she decided to give it a try with Granny - as long as her sandals stayed on.

Braving the water with Granny.

Espen, on the other hand, has been a water baby all his life, and couldn't get in that lake fast enough! He was in such a hurry that he was in water up to his waist before he even realized he still had his hat on, so he was a very dapper little bather.


One of the best things about this lake is that it is quite shallow, and there is a sandbar that basically goes all the way to the shore and naturally makes a sandy, safer place for smaller kids to play. Of course you still have to keep an eye on them, but it's nice to know that they'd have to get pretty far out for the water to go above their waist.

Those little yellow flecks behind him are waterlilies, which he naturally had to pick. 
I just love this little face.

Once the kids were busy playing in the water with Nick, my mum and I settled on a blanket on the grass, surrounded by lots of other Løten people relaxing and trying to cool off. Aren't beaches the place to people watch? I realized how long it has been since I was on a beach, especially a Norwegian one when I looked around at the people around me. My kids, in their shorts, hats and rash guards were by far the most covered up kids around. We live in a hot sunny place where you just have to protect yourself from the sun, or run the risk of severe sun burn and possibly skin cancer. Plus Gwen is really fair skinned and has a cut on her that we're trying to reduce the scarring of, so we've been prett diligent about keeping the sun off her face. But all the little Norwegian kids were running around in little swim suits and swim diapers and sometimes nothing at all. Their parents were still slathering them with sun screen for the most part, but the concern about sun damage was clearly not as prevalent as it is here. Which in some ways in funny, because when we were in England a few years ago, I felt like a shabby parent for letting Espen play on the beach in just a diaper while most of the kids were wearing wet suits and those hats with flappy things that cover your neck. You know, this kind of thing? Also, 90% of the kids were super blonde, which I suppose I had also forgotten about.

Gotta stay hydrated! ... and get cookie smoosh all over Granny's water bottle.

One thing I loved seeing was that everyone put on their swimsuits and enjoyed themselves, regardless of age or size or whatever. You know that meme about "how to get a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body"? Well, it was kind of like that. And I have missed that about Norwegian women. I mean, they/we have the same body hangups as the rest of the world, but that's no reason to stay off the beach and out of the sunshine. I liked the reminder that my body is a way to get around and do the things I want to do long before it is something that is meant to be pretty enough for other people to admire. So thank you, ladies of Løten! I needed that.

Bathing beauty with cookies.

As the hot days wore on, we ended up spending several days down at the lake. It was lovely just relaxing and spending time together as a family, and it was a really special thing for me to be able to introduce my kids to a place that I loved so much during my own childhood.

But the kids weren't the only ones having fun at the lake! One night after they were in bed, we were so hot and so sweaty and gross that Nick and I left Granny in charge of the kids and drove down to the lake to cool off. We hopped in the lake and swam out to a platform that is moored a little way from the shore, then swam back and watched the sunset from the beach. More evenings like that, please!

The best of times.

We took one last trip down to the lake the day before we went home. The kids played with their dad, and I took one last swim, absorbing every last drop of being at home as I possibly could before heading back to my other home (It's a bit complicated, this whole being from three different countries business that we deal with in our family).  I felt completely heartbroken to be leaving, and yet so completely and utterly content and whole in that moment as I watched my family by the shore as I swam, and felt my country all around me. And then, I joined my family on the shore, knowing that I'm most at home of all whenever I'm with them.

Now go find a lake.


  1. I love lakes! It reminds me of my childhood. Look how much fun Nick married into!


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