Halloween 2015

Halloween could easily be my favorite holiday if not for all the creepy bits that come along with it. There are few things that bring me so much joy as dressing up my children in ridiculous costumes. If I could get away with it, they’d be in full costume on a weekly basis. Also high on my list of things that make me happy is seeing Jason in an embarrassing ensemble. Halloween = winning.

IMG_6014 IMG_6017 IMG_6019

Around mid October, we made our annual trek to the “Coldest Field In England.” While this may not be scientifically accurate, I swear the Undley Pumpkin Patch is a solid 20 degrees colder than anywhere else. Every year, I dress for a blizzard and every year, I am still on the verge of frostbite. Since I get slightly cranky when cold, this was a quick visit. We let Lena pick out the pumpkins this year and as you can imagine, it was quite the process. She may have picked up every gourd in the patch at some point. The girl is thorough.

IMG_6033 IMG_6038 IMG_6028 IMG_6043

I made everyone pose for pictures, as I do, and luckily they humored me and actually smiled. Aksel with his tongue sticking out might be my favorite picture of him  to date.

IMG_6023 IMG_6044 IMG_6051 IMG_6054IMG_6058

We ended up only carving one pumpkin and I completely forgot to get a picture of it. I also forgot to roast the seeds and they got moldy. So I sort of let the ball drop on the pumpkin portion of our celebrations.

IMG_6068 IMG_6071

Luckily, I had been browsing the internet several weeks before and saw that someone was selling a handmade duo of costumes for a steal. And that is how my kids became Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Aksel wasn’t quite as thrilled about dressing up as his sister who begged to wear her dress the entire month of October. She also requested that Daddy be the Grandmother and because Jason is a sucker, he totally did it.

At the last minute (like five minutes before we walked out the door), I realized I could throw together a costume and be the Woodcutter so we’d all be coordinated. So here we are as we walked through the village to a Halloween party.


Jason and Lena took home awards for Best Costume (two years running baby!). Aksel passed out about 5 minutes into the festivities. And I took an unreasonable amount of photos of Jason in this hideous outfit in between nearly tinkling myself. When he first came downstairs, Aksel screamed bloody murder and tried to claw his way out of the room. Poor kid. It’s all part of the fun of Halloween though, right?!

IMG_6088 IMG_6129 IMG_6127 IMG_6133

8 Month Time Capsule

I want to record a few things about Aksel before I completely forget and then he gets upset as an adult when I can’t tell him about popping his first tooth or the time he got a black eye from his sister. I’ve actually already forgotten the exact timing of these things, so… sorry, buddy. I promise you are still very loved.


Aksel is basically an angel. He is, hands down, the easiest baby on the planet. He only ever cries if he’s tired and once you lay him down, he’s out within a few minutes. It is one of the most glorious things ever after dealing with a non-sleeper for over two solid years. He night nurses a bit but generally gives me several long stretches each night which means I actually feel like a functioning human on most days. I always wanted to secretly stab people who told me their children were good sleepers as I figured they were either lying or drugging their children. Turns out, they were actually telling the truth!


Speaking of nursing, this little guy is all business. He wants to get in and out of the buffet line as fast as possible and I think he must be some sort of power eater or a camel as he goes a few hours in between feeds yet still maintains a delicious layer of squish around his baby wrists. Also, his double chin is edible. I know this as I make a point to kiss and nuzzle it several times a day.


He has captivating eyes like his sister though they’re a much darker blue. Perhaps a bit more hair but it looks like it will be a beautiful golden blonde from the little bit that has started growing through. He might have more hair if I could stop petting his head. I fear I may be wearing a bald patch into his dome but I can’t stop rubbing it because it feels softer than rabbit fur. Someday all this goodness will be replaced by stubble and stinky pits and I am not at all ready for that.


The Doo-Doo Rod, as he has (affectionately?) been nicknamed, is happiest when he’s outside. It makes no difference to him whether it’s hot or cold, raining or sunny; he just wants to be outdoors. Since we only have pavement in front of the house, he spent a good deal of time this summer in his exersaucer while Lena and her friends rode circles around him and made him laugh. Meanwhile, I was frantically painting cardboard in preparation for Lena’s 4th birthday party and attempting to keep the aforementioned children off my masterpiece.


I could not possibly love this little guy any more. He is the epitome of calm, easy to be around, and the perfection addition to our family. I would have 10 more babies just like him if I could. We love you, Aksel-Man!


June 2015 Recap

While all our American friends were kicking off summer break, we were still in full swing with school, festivals, and end-of-year festivities. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the British schedule where the last day of school comes at the end of July but having completed a full year now, I definitely see it’s advantages.

Our first festival in June was the Wool Fair at Ickworth. We met up with some friends where the kids were treated to live sheep shearing, handmade ice cream, and a performance by a knock-off Princess Elsa. I’ve never seen such a large group of children so quiet. It was as if they had all been hypnotized and quite frankly, it was a bit unnerving. Aksel may have been the only one unfazed by the entire ordeal though, to be fair, he was asleep in the Ergo for the majority of it.

IMG_3999IMG_4002 IMG_4001 IMG_4009

The following weekend was the Dragon Festival at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. I’ve been meaning to visit for a few years now and just have never made it but having now been, I think this would make a really fun day out for elementary aged kids or anyone who is a history buff. On this particular visit, there were live demonstrations of all sorts. Everything from musicians to weavers, and even some open air theater. Lena had fun exploring the various structures and participating in the dragon-themed activities while Aksel, as usual, just smiled and basically forced me to take way too many pictures of him. At one point, a large crowd gathered to see a baby T-Rex which was surprisingly realistic. Lena was very serious about the entire thing and ultimately decided she did not like it in the least bit and insisted we leave the area. She rarely gets scared of anything as she likes to be brave so she wouldn’t actually admit she was nervous.

IMG_4393IMG_4374 IMG_4377 IMG_4376 IMG_4379 IMG_4382IMG_4383IMG_4385IMG_4389IMG_4390

And finally, at the end of the month, the end-of-year festivities came along in full force. First up was Wacky Hair Day and as my munchkin is a bit lacking in that department, I had to get creative. So we created a rainbow out of construction paper and cotton balls. There is hair inside the arch though you can’t actually see it.


Sports Day was the final event of the month and was just brilliant. The school had set up all sorts of stations for the kids and they were free to have a go at whatever looked fun. Some of them were timed, others were tallied, and it all culminated in group races. The egg and spoon race was a particular highlight as Lena was the first to cross the finish line. However, she forgot that the goal was to balance the egg in the spoon rather than just hold it in her hands and run as fast as possible. So she was disqualified in that one. And she really didn’t stand much of a chance in the sprints as her legs are a solid six inches shorter than everyone else. She’s mini compared to her classmates but that didn’t stop her from having fun.

IMG_4414 IMG_4430 IMG_4470 IMG_4484 IMG_4696

On top of all that, I ambitiously volunteered myself to design a yearbook for the preschool. I also ended up taking all the individual portraits, hall of fame photos, and theme-day pictures. I somehow managed to finish it in time to be distributed the last week of school – 44 color pages of happy, goofy children and a year’s worth of memories. Not too shabby! I feel almost as triumphant as this little athlete.


Audley End Miniature Railway + Fairies

An alternate title for this post might be something along the lines of “Little Girls’ Brains Explode from Sheer Excitement and Delight.” I’m not sure words will do justice to the excitement that ensued on this particular outing but hopefully the excessive photos will give you an inkling of the magic that was the Audley End Enchanted Fairy and Elf Walk.

IMG_3834 IMG_3837 IMG_3838

This was actually Lena’s second time on the Fairy Walk but I was completely unprepared the first time around, and didn’t bring my camera. When my friend, Ellie, mentioned that Paddington was doing a meet and greet, we decided a second trip was in order. Since we were traveling with five kids between us, we called the grandmas for some back up to lessen the chance of a catastrophic accident or missing child alert being issued.

IMG_3844 IMG_3849

As soon as they were unleashed from their restraints car seats, the girls were off. We had been promising them a visit with Paddington for days and while she was all about hugging the friendly bear in talk, Lena ultimately decided there was no way on earth she was touching him once they were face to face. So she maintained a reasonable distance and a wary stare for the duration of his appearance.

IMG_3851 IMG_3856 IMG_3859 IMG_3863 IMG_3853

Knowing the fairy walk would take some time with our large entourage, we opted to eat lunch before venturing into the woods. My mom was in hysterics laughing at Bella, Ellie’s niece, as she slathered her face in egg sandwich. She and Aksel are only about a year apart but she’s nearly surpassed Lena in size. Bella consistently cracks us up and has been nicknamed “Dozer.”

IMG_3871 IMG_3872 IMG_3868

Before entering the fairy walk, everyone is given a booklet with all the different fairies, elves and other creatures they will see along the way. In order to tick off each character, the girls made magic fairy wands from wooden pencils with the aid of “real” fairies. You can see this was very serious and important business. I loved that the helper fairies stayed in character the whole time and complimented all the kids on their wings and dresses. The girls just ate it up.

IMG_3878 IMG_3880 IMG_3889 IMG_3886 IMG_3963

Lena was already over my picture taking at this point hence the lovely face she’s pulling here. She quickly forgot about the camera upon finding the first fairy and started squealing incessantly while saying my name on repeat. It was at this moment I had a flashback to her being Aksel’s age and dreaming of the day she would someday say Mama. This wasn’t exactly the angelic, sweet sound I had envisioned.

IMG_3891 IMG_3894 IMG_3896 IMG_3897 IMG_3899 IMG_3901 IMG_3909 IMG_3912

Each fairy had a sign below her house with her name, occupation and other fun little tidbits about them. It was incredibly detailed and well done. I’m not usually one for princesses and fairies, but I loved this whole experience and would come back again in a heartbeat.

IMG_3914 IMG_3920 IMG_3926 IMG_3930 IMG_3915 IMG_3938 IMG_3942

This is basically a little girl’s paradise.

IMG_3947 IMG_3950 IMG_3952 IMG_3953 IMG_3954

Even the grandmas had fun.

IMG_3957 IMG_3959

To finish off our big day, we went for a ride on the miniature train – an impressive 1.5 mile loop through the woods including bridges, WWII pill boxes, and even some magical habitats for stuffed animals. The whole day was magical from start to finish. We will definitely be going back again soon!

IMG_3986 IMG_3978 IMG_3972 IMG_3969

From Black to Green Thumb

One of my favorite things to do when my mom visits is put her to work spend time working on a project together. I really wanted to add giant pots of flowers to the front and back of our house, but my gardening knowledge is on par with my cooking ability. In other words, I got nothing. Big L, however, boasts some pretty major botanical skills so I knew she would be able to show me the ropes.

IMG_3808 IMG_3809IMG_3797

I think Jason was rightly nervous when I told him we were going to pick up a few things at the local nursery. My mom and I can do some damage when it comes to shopping. However, I think for what we got, I actually didn’t spend an outrageous amount of money and while they say money can’t buy happiness, these newly purchased plants are making me think otherwise.

IMG_3810 IMG_3815IMG_3817 IMG_3807 IMG_3820 IMG_3818IMG_3806

After enduring a very long garden tour, Lena was ready to get down to business. She donned her wellies, found some gloves and got to work potting some lavender while also spreading soil everywhere. Good thing I purchased a broom.

IMG_3800 IMG_3802 IMG_3804

Aksel was sleepy so he hung out in the doorway and took it all in. The kid loves to be outside and if I time it right and get him to sleep while we’re on a walk, he will happily snooze away on the front porch for up to three hours. It’s glorious.


After some heavy lifting and lots of watering, my little garden was finally starting to take shape. And since Lena is still enamored with all animals, she insisted we have this little hedgehog at the front door. She chats with him every time we leave the house and fills him in on her day at preschool. We also added “Daddy Bunny” a few weeks later, much to her delight.

IMG_3811 IMG_0493 IMG_0494 IMG_0495 IMG_0496 IMG_0497

And keeping with the theme of flowers, we visited Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmunds as my mom had never seen them in full bloom. We were on the hunt for some animal skins at the market but stopped for a few photos first. Lena was being uncooperative hence the tongue and cheeky smile.

IMG_3821  IMG_3829IMG_3824

Between the flower-adorned patio and two kids constantly in tow, I think I can actually pass as a functioning adult. Let’s just hope I can manage to keep all these things alive!

IMG_3825 IMG_3827

17th of May London (again)

Big Laila came to visit again and she timed her trip to coincide with the most Norwegian of all days, Syttende Mai. That would be the 17th of May for those unfamiliar with the language of the Vikings. We made the trek to London, just like last year, to honor Norway’s independence day. Not wanting to let an opportunity go to waste, my mom took it upon herself to create a folkebunad for Lena to wear to the festivities.

This little costume was the culmination of many weeks work between my parents, my aunt, and my little brother. Have you any idea how hard it is to find a white blouse without buttons or a collar? I am fully aware as my mom informed me of every store they visited in search of this elusive item. They also discovered a little-known Viking shop in the bowels of Parkland, Washington, where they acquired the vintage key and pins. My mom’s twin (aka my second mother) was the seamstress and my little brother used his leather making skills to create the custom belt. I think he just measured his neck as Lena’s waist is about the same size.

IMG_0243 IMG_0253 IMG_0258

So on the day, we packed up the kids and the flags and subjected Lena to public humiliation by making her travel on the tube in costume. I’m pretty sure all of my mom’s wildest dreams came true on this day as she watched me usher my daughter into this long-standing rite of passage. And in the interest of full disclosure, I did look for black knickers and a red vest for Aksel, but came up short. So he was only halfway initiated in his Li’l Norse hat and Norwegian flag pacifier. Fear not, his time will come.

IMG_0260 IMG_0261 IMG_3721 IMG_3726 IMG_3745 IMG_3753 IMG_3759 IMG_3756

We enjoyed our picnic lunch of brødskiver and Diplom Is in the beautiful sunshine while I used my telephoto lens to take stalkeresque pictures of all the people around us. I think there were more people in costume last year or maybe I was just distracted because I had two little ones with me.

IMG_3737 IMG_3742 IMG_3728 IMG_3766 IMG_3771 IMG_3772 IMG_3775

Lena suckered my mom into waiting in line for about 45 minutes so she could jump in a bounce house for approximately 30 seconds. Also, it cost £3 per child. My how we change when we have grandchildren! When I think of my mom, it’s all health food and exercise. When Lena thinks of Mormor, it’s chocolate and more chocolate.

IMG_3768 IMG_3764 IMG_3779

We wrapped up the day by eating pølse med lompe and spending five minutes convincing Lena to take a bite. As usual, she declared it utterly disgusting until she actually tried it, and then ate the whole thing. Kids are super fun.

IMG_3781 IMG_3789

A big thank you to the fam for making this beautiful costume for the munchkin. At the rate she grows, this will fit her for another five years which means endless opportunities for me to force her into photoshoots. Hipp, hipp, hurra!

IMG_3794 IMG_3765

March Photo Dump

As if working full time, being a dad and a husband weren’t enough, Jason has decided to go back to school. I have no idea where he gets his energy and I’m pretty sure he only sleeps three hours a night but somehow, he manages to juggle it all effortlessly. Most nights look like this: Jason attempting to do homework while the kids either crawl or sleep on him and I take pictures and gush about how handsome he looks with babies in his arms.


Aksel is our angel baby and demands a nap each night almost exactly as we finish dinner. He has to be in his daddy’s arms, though, and as soon as he finds his little spot, he’s out for the count and making snorting noises like a bulldog. These photos are about six months old and I’m not sure who has changed more in that time – Aksel or Lena.

At fours months old, Aksel wasn’t quite able to sit up on his own yet so he was subjected to the strangle hug courtesy of his big sister. The bear suit is the gift that keeps on giving as it was handed down to me by my cousin, Liv, when Lena was just four months old. I think perhaps Lena enjoyed the costume a bit more than Aksel, however.

402675_637743545110_1264541955_n IMG_2893

March was a bit dreary – more grey, English days. We did reach a major milestone, though, when I was finally able to braid Lena’s hair. Gone are the days of the bald baby with the whispy mullet growing out the base of her skull. I was so excited about the “Princess Elsa braids” as she calls them, that I made her pose for a mini photoshoot.

IMG_2903 IMG_2916 IMG_2932

We got a little extra Daddy time in March which meant long mornings in bed with lots of snuggles. And sometimes that translated into lunch in bed because the clock struck noon and we were all still in our pajamas. Lena requests a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with peppers and cucumbers for lunch every.single.day. This has proved to be a bit tricky as she can’t bring any nut products to preschool. So on Mondays and Wednesdays, she basically doesn’t eat lunch. I have no idea what we’re going to do when she starts going full time.

IMG_2982 IMG_3012 IMG_2993 IMG_3013

The rest of the month was spent enjoying family time. Lena loves her ballet class and thanks to Jason’s love for Lionel Ritchie, she now sings Ballerina Girl at full volume several times a day. Except that she thinks the song is about her so her version is called “Balla-lena guhl.” Say that last word phonetically and you’ll get the idea; it’s a twist on the British accent.

IMG_3037 IMG_3039

So that was March – lots of rain, lots of snuggles, and Lena’s ever-present buttcrack!

IMG_3041 IMG_3055