The season of skoposer

The Summer of Infant Travel is complete and autumn has arrived in Oslo. I know this because (1) it’s raining and (2) the skoposer have appeared. “Skoposer” (literally, “shoe bags”) are blue plastic shoe covers that are placed inside the doorway of nearly every building you enter in Norway. They look like this:


(Note that not all places have such fancy application devices for your skoposer. Usually it’s just a basketful of blue bags that you apply manually…)

Everywhere you go – coffee shops, office buildings, even the gym – you’re expected to stop and slip the skoposer over your shoes before trailing your wet, slimy mess into the corridors. This is important because (1) it’s raining and (2) Norwegians don’t care.

Seriously – Norwegians are fearless about the weather. Rain or shine, they’re outside. There’s a famous saying in Norway that everyone learns as soon as they step off the plane: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” I’ve been hearing this for nearly three years, but I’m still the stupid American wearing ballet flats in the rain when everyone else is in ponchos and wellie boots.

A case in point this rainy Monday morning. The Svendsen family awoke to a smiling, happy baby at 8am (yeah! more about that next time….) and promptly dashed through our usual morning rituals before baby swimming class. Per and I were the chumps who drove three minutes to the pool and then spent 10 minutes looking for parking rather than schlepping through the rainstorm. Trust me, we were the minority. Within minutes, the entire entrance hall was filled with families in all assortment of rain gear. Parents covered in plastic ponchos wearing plastic boots and maneuvering plastic-wrapped baby strollers. No matter what the weather, those babies were going to swimming class gosh darn it.

And of course, right inside the entrance — the large basket of blue skoposer. My first of the season. It brought back memories of my last skoposer experience five months ago when I had to struggle over my enormous baby bump and reach my feet. Now I’ve joined the legions of mommies pushing their plastic bubbles around Oslo. (And yes – I’m finally on the hunt for a good pair of wellies to fit inside my skoposer. In case you have any suggestions….)

Today’s photo album has snippets from Per Christian’s recent baby swimming classes. His reactions to the water have varied from sheer joy to absolute misery, all captured for me to proudly share during my CNN interview after my son upsets Michael Phelps’ world records. This will of course happen.

Enjoy, and stay dry!

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The traveling circus

I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who read my previous posts and then sees this title will assume that Per Christian no longer resides with us. Have no fear, dear readers, all members are well and accounted for in the Svendsen household. I promise you that nobody has been sold to the circus quite yet. Instead, the Svendsen family as a whole has become our own kind of traveling entourage across Europe this summer.

We’ve had our ups and downs traveling with a four month old. (What?!?! four months already?!?! how is that even possible….) We’ve been able to spend time with dear friends in Sweden and Greece, and also with our family in the southern part of Norway. We introduced my parents to their perfect grandson (their words, not mine…) and the remarkable life we have here. We’ve spent days on warm sandy beaches, sampled food that still makes me drool and even got to sail a bit around our favorite coastline.

But it’s taken some adapting to manage all this with our small meatloaf in tow. Per Christian is growing by the hour and is gradually changing from a tiny organism into an actual miniature human. But man, this boy has got STUFF. I mean — a LOT of STUFF. Per and I shared one suitcase between us – the other three suitcases were filled with blankets, snuggles, toys, stollers, clothes and other assorted baby paraphernalia. We’ve become those annoying people in the airport check-in line that take 10 minutes to get everything tagged, sorted and loaded. We’re now the cause of frustrating sighs of annoyance from every airport commuter – I know that sigh well, I used it myself in my not-so-distant past. (We’re also the people that have the adorable baby in pajamas hanging like a monkey in his Baby Bjorn carrier. Don’t pretend you don’t smile at the image.)

I sense that we’re only a few years away from imitating Chevy Chase in his Vacation movies, squeezing a resistant family and all their luggage into an old station wagon for a “Classic Family Road Trip,” which inevitably results in eating dog-pee sandwiches and getting trapped in the traffic circle next to Big Ben. And when we finally arrive somewhere, we really do resemble a traveling circus as we pitch our tents and stake out our territory. It doesn’t matter if we’re gone for two days or ten, there’s a certain base level of infant needs that must be met and that requires copious amounts of sh*t to be carted about. My mother warned us that Per would be adding “butler” to his job description after the baby arrived. Yep, mom got it right yet again….. 

But we’re learning a bit more with each trip, and we’re looking forward to one or two more adventures before Per’s paternity leave expires and we return to Real Life next month. In the meantime, here are some photos from the Svendsen Family Circus thus far. (There should be more photos, but Per Christian discovered the pleasures of nudity this summer and those photos are being reserved for his Oxford entrance essays….)

Trips to the beach require a bit more luggage these days…..:

…. but it’s all worth it in the end:

Best memories of the summer – Per Christian’s first dip in the water!

35 years apart but an uncanny resemblance to each other:

Back in Oslo, auntie Lari and Per Christian reunite:

Gran and Grandad came to Norway to meet their fifth grandchild:

And Gran was a real sucker at enforcing nap time:

Four generations of Svendsen men around the table:

They came, they saw it and they fell in love with Norway: