Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Excuses for being MIA from Blogging

I apologize for my recent decline in posting. I feel as though I have valid excuses, however, some of which I am going to share with you to make myself feel better about my lack of posting -

1. We've been working to get the house on the market, which it did officially yesterday thanks to our amazing realtor Trent Johnson. Also, a huge thank you to David and Cindy Meeh who helped us get the front door re-finished so the house looked more presentable to the first impression! Also, we got blinds hung up. It only took us four years and finally a move to get it bad...

2. Both of us have been busy at work. Aside from all the paperwork and HR stuff we have to do to get ready for the move to Norway, we still have our real jobs that we are trying to keep up with. Jason is swamped wrapping up multiple projects and I've been busy preparing for a presentation at this week's work conference. I was able to cross that off the checklist today and the best thing I can say about it was that my voice at least didn't shake the entire time I was presenting. Maybe half though. ;-) At least it's over!

3. We've been studying for the PE exam this Friday. Remember this picture I shared over the summer?

Well, we really cracked down on those books this weekend. And don't worry - Jason's stack of books got bigger and mine got slightly smaller. The exam is open book and my test (Petroleum) lists 40 different resource books, 20 of which are strongly recommended. Jason's test (Mechanical) is more condensed into just a few thick books.

I took Friday off and worked problems all day. Jason joined me Saturday and Sunday for two more days of working problems. I rounded off the week by studying Monday and taking another half day off work Tuesday for my final cramming and am now taking a break and making sure I get enough rest. I've had people at work tell me I look tired...the only politically correct way to tell someone they look like crap in the office. I even had one person ask a co-worker of mine if I had something going on right now because I looked a bit off lately. Awesome.

Jason, true to his procrastination form, is working on the sample exam right now and will continue working on it tomorrow night right up until D-Day.

We had some distractions help while we studied as well. Zoey fell asleep reading my drilling and completions material -

And later she attacked my well logging materials (and for good reason too - nobody likes that stuff...sorry any petrophysicists out there who might read this...)

My friend Ramesh baked Jason and I good luck cookies this weekend and dropped them off at my office on Monday. This guy can bake and he is incredibly thoughtful!

We have to report at 7:15 am this Friday for the 8-hour technical engineering exam. Please keep us both in your prayers for strength, recollection of the material we have studied, and peace during the test!

And finally, here are the blog posts I promise are coming over the next couple of weeks once we can breathe again -

1. A recap of Jason's amazing weekend taking his Mazdaspeed 6 out on the race track with a professional race car driver giving technical advice. He got lots of pictures and video with the GoPro and is working on sorting which he wants to feature in another Celebrity Blog Post by Jason. :-)

2. A blog finally revealing our apartment in Norway. I've been holding off on this one because I nominated us for House Hunters International and they contacted me today for more information and said that they might be interested capturing our story!! Here's crossing our fingers that you see us on HGTV sometime in the future!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pi Phi Junior Group Going Away

I've been involved with the Pi Phi Junior group since I moved to Houston back in 2008. It's been a great way to meet some fabulous ladies! I was able to serve as Secretary and President while I was here and I'm going to miss the fun events these girls plan every month!

Last night was our October event and Chelsea, our current Social, was so sweet and made it my going away. And of course it was my absolute least favorite event of the year (I still think Chelsea made it my going away just to get me to show up... ;-) ). What is this event that I dread so much (and successfully avoided the past three years I've been involved with the Pi Phi Junior group)? Pinot's Palette. I'm sorry people, but painting is stressful and takes creativity! I do not enjoy this activity. But I loved the fellowship with the ladies and I was very sad it was my last event!

 In honor of my departure, Chelsea picked a Texas-themed painting - a cowboy boot! We got to pick our colors and since I knew I would be copying the instructor on everything else, I branched out and decided to make a pink boot. It didn't turn out as incredibly horrible as I'd imagined. ;-)

Don't I look excited about painting?!


She also surprised me with a going-away gift. Earlier this week on Chelsea's blog, The Perfect Catch, she shared her discovery that Cadbury creme eggs are no long just an Easter treat. They have released the scream egg just for Halloween! This is the worst news ever. I am obsessed with those things. I scolded Chelsea for the extra weight she had added to my waistline by the fact that I was already debating leaving work to go find some (remember, I'm obsessed people!). She surprised me with a goodie bag that included some scream eggs along with a fabulous candy corn bark that she made!

She is the sweetest girl and I wish I had gotten to know her sooner. We'll stay in touch on the blog world and hopefully cross paths again one day!

Here's our entire group with our paintings! There are some creative Pi Phis out there (myself not included of course ;-) )


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Preikestolen Hike!

While we were on our site visit (read about here), we got to spend some time hiking! We left Saturday morning with the weather looking slightly ominous... There were rain clouds in the sky, but no rain and Megan and Loren told us that as long as it wasn't pouring we were fine to plan on hiking. We made sure to have some rain gear with us since it seemed like we would be needing it.

There was about an hour and fifteen minute drive to get to Ryfylke where the hike begins. We headed out in slightly drizzling weather, but nothing too bad. The rains came off and on throughout the 3 km hike with a couple parts which got us soaking. Fortunately the temperature wasn't extremely cold so we were able to manage without being miserable. The motto in Norway is "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing". :-)

The hike itself was relatively easy with some slightly slippery rock climbing because of the rain. There was quite a bit of fog at the top so we couldn't see out into the valley, but it just means we will have to hike it again when we return! Megan and Loren were great guides and we talked about Norway, moving, and lots of other things on the way up that made it very enjoyable.

We didn't bring the nice camera since we were already loaded down with stuff, but we did manage to get some great pictures on the iPhone and Loren got some good ones with his nice camera that I know he's going to share with me. (Right, Loren? ;-) )

Our cold ride back on the ferry! We had a little trouble warming up after the hike, but our warm drinks helped.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Monday, October 8, 2012

Stavanger Site Visit!

Surreal. That's the first word that comes to mind when I describe our trip. We've been to Europe before so it wasn't the walking, the foreign language, or the unfamiliar sites that made it surreal. It was the knowledge in the back of our minds that in just over a month we are going to call this city home. And that my friends is surreal.

We left Monday afternoon for the airport. We didn't bring much with us- just six suitcases. Wait, rewind. SIX, you said?! Yep. We brought six suitcases with the intent of leaving at least five of them with our friends already living in Stavanger (thanks peeps!). We crawled up to the check-in counter expecting to leave four bags checked at no charge per Lufthansa's international baggage allowance. We were stunned when the employee told us it was only two (one/person) and that it was $100/bag additional. Jaws dropped.

We debated going back to the car to leave stuff and Jason pushed the gentleman stating the policy we saw on their website. He apologized, said its always changing, and that you have to look at your actual booking which stated one bag/person. Fail. He said he couldn't waive the bag fees and Jason asked to speak to a manager that could. She came over, explained the same thing, apologized, and asked to see our bags. She had us put the two smaller ones on the scale and said she would waive the fees because they weren't that big. Hooray Lufthansa!

We got to the gate, grabbed some lunch, and waited for our flight. As they got closer to boarding they announced that everyone could have only one carry-on due to limited overhead space. They asked people to bring their bags to the front where they would be checked to your final destination. We were struggling with our carry-on and personal item (large bags with PE study books) so Jason got in line to leave his. They told him his was fine and so then I got in line to leave mine. Hello checked bag number five with no payment from us! It was fabulous not to have to carry that with me.

We flew to Frankfurt on the most massive plane ever! We took pictures before heading to our connecting flight to Stavanger.

We arrived Tuesday afternoon and headed to our hotel with only a few wrong turns. Stop lights are a rarity in Norway and have been replaced with roundabouts. Quite difficult listening to a GPS say "enter the roundabout and take the first exit, enter the roundabout and take the second exit, enter the roundabout and take the first exit". And some roundabouts had been added that weren't on the GPS yet! It was an adventure but we made it to the hotel.

Gorgeous view right?!

After dropping our bags off and freshening up we met with our realtor, Olav, expecting to just walk around town, which we did, but he had also lined up some places for us to see! We fell in love with the first one. Without even giving him our Tier 1 and Tier 2 criteria he nailed everything on our list!! The second and third places just solidified our love for the first one. :-) (More on the apartment, including pictures in a blog post to come!)

We had some time to kill before dinner and so we spent it walking around the city center. We found a 7 Eleven!! Apparently they can't be in Houston, but they can be around the world. No slurpees though. :-(

Jason did find a Dr Pepper. Only $4 a bottle! Woohoo!! (In case you are wondering, the cost of living in Norway is ridiculously high. It's in the top five most expensive places to live in the world...)

We also found a small mall with a pet store. This will be Zoey's next challenge... Learning to walk on a leash!

And we made the mistake of going into the grocery store and converting the prices. Beer didn't seem too bad, just about $6 a six pack. Then we saw a larger number next to the other and realized that the $6 price was for a single beer. Yikes. And we found Ben and Jerry's!! And then realized it was about $10. We need to stop converting now...

We headed to a fantastic dinner at a place called Tango, recommended by our realtor and my friend Emily back in Houston. It was amazing! As we enjoyed our meal we discussed the apartment, moving to Stavanger, and just enjoyed the beautiful sea view from the restaurant. We decided to tell Olav the following morning that if the apartment would take our cats, then we want to put an offer at asking price.

After sending Olav the email Wednesday morning, we headed into the offices. Jason dropped me off at ConocoPhillips where I met my boss, the hiring manager, and HR. Everyone I met was wonderful and the work I'm going to be doing sounds amazing! I am so grateful that everything worked out so well with the swap (read about that here). Jason had an equally fabulous time at his office and is excited to start working something different.

We spent a couple hours that afternoon studying for our PE exam because Olav was in a conference and so we couldn't look at apartments. Later we went to our friends Megan and Loren's apartment to visit with them since we hadn't seen them yet. It was nice to catch up with them for a little bit! Then we headed to our friends Erica and Thad's apartment for dinner. They cooked a delicious meal and we caved and bought some Ben and Jerry's to go with the cookies they had for dessert. It was a wonderful welcoming!

Thursday, after our quick visit to the apartment, we headed to the Baker Hughes Technology Forum. We listened to talks all day and I got to meet Jason's boss and hiring manager. The talks were all in English and mostly related to the North Sea operations so it was a good introduction to our future jobs!

The evening program Baker planned was absolutely phenomenal!! They had a classical music concert followed by an amazing dinner with another more hard rock concert from a Norwegian girl band called Katzenjammer. They were fantastic and I will be looking them up on iTunes when I get home.

We had a fabulous time visiting with and getting to meet so many different people from Baker Hughes and even some future co-workers at ConocoPhillips!

Friday we slept in after our late evening and grabbed a fantastic lunch in the city center. I can't wait to walk here and do my grocery shopping and visit all the little shops since its so close to our new apartment! We tried a place called Godt Brod and loved the fresh bread and pastries we tried.

That evening we went to our friend Heather's house and met with some of the our ex-pat friends we have here- Megan and Loren, Xindi and Arturo, and Erica and Thad. (And obviously Heather too!) They did a potluck for us and we enjoyed getting to see all of them!

Saturday morning we met up with Megan and Loren to go hiking at Preikestolen (also known as Pulpit Rock, read about our hike and see pictures in a blog post to come). After returning to Stavanger we warmed up and changed out of our wet clothes before getting together for dinner at a traditional Norwegian place called Skagen.

The food was wonderful and we ventured into the traditional cuisine by trying, wait for it, whale and reindeer! The whale was smoked and tasted like jerky and the reindeer was delicious and tasted like a cross between a beef steak and venison.

It was a fabulous way to end a surreal week! We went to bed early for our 6:40 am flight back to Houston and are excited to return to Stavanger as residents next month!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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