Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pasta Bar

This is the final week of the semester for the students at the folk school, so the schedule is a bit different and there are all sorts of activities going on. One evening, instead of eating in the dining hall as usual, they ate with their main class group at the home of one of the teachers. Since the other politics teachers live at the folk school, we had the group here for dinner. There were five students, two other teachers, and us. We decided it would be fun to have a pasta bar for dinner. There was fettuccine, chicken, prawns, bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, and four different types of pesto sauce, as well as fresh-made french bread that was garnished with garlic and mozzarella. Not wanting to overload the electric fuses in this old house, we knew we could run two skillets at once, so people paired up to decide what to put in their pasta and then they cooked two skillets at a time. It was fantastic! Everyone got to eat what sounded good -the fresh pesto made by the chef was completely amazing! We also had red pepper pesto, chili pesto, and black olive pesto. We had a fun time. Then after dinner we all watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer -the classic 1964 version, of course, and had apple pie and ice cream. A great evening, and nice to do something a little different.

We still have not seen more snow since the one day it snowed when Jeff's friends were here for Thanksgiving. It's been consistently about 4 degrees, and rains on and off. The temperature doesn't feel too bad when it's not windy and pelting you with hard rain drops in the face. When the sun is out, it feels like spring, when the sun is hidden by clouds, it feels like bleak February. This morning, we were already back from bringing the boys to school before the sunrise. Jeff and Svea and I stopped for a hot chocolate, and finally when we finished that, it was light outside. It's still grey and darkish, but at least you don't need all the house lights on now.

This morning, I actually stopped to think that maybe four Advent traditions is a bit too much for every morning. We have Elfie, who the kids have to find each morning, there is Charlie who leaves notes or prizes occasionally, there is the Lego calendars for the boys and Svea's chocolate, and then the presents from Grandma Marge. Next year, we will have to be better about spreading them out throughout the day, or it makes for quite a busy morning! We also have the felt nativity scene at home that my mom made us a few years ago. The kids love them all, naturally. But I think we need to get more of the Christmas story back into the month of December.

Our Christmas is going to be quiet this year, and we are planning to have a nice dinner at home, go to the service at the church down the street, and have a fun breakfast together Christmas morning. I've been saving all of the glass jars we've accumulated the last couple months, and plan to fill the room with candles for Christmas morning, I think that will be exciting for the kids. I think we'll make special pancakes and sausages, and have hot chocolate with big marshmallows. It will be different from our other Christmases, but I am trying to make it special for them. I bought a few knitted wool socks that I am going to put their initials on and hang for stockings.

We are getting excited to have Jeff's mom come visit the end of this month. The kids still don't know, so it will be a fun surprise for them! We are trying to figure out how Jeff can get away to pick her up at the airport without the boys wanting to go along, since they will be home from school during that time. Someone suggested maybe I take the kids for a walk, and he leaves while we're gone. That might work.

Even though it's not quite winter yet, we are making spring travel plans and scheduling our spring visitors now, which is exciting. Jeff's mom comes in two weeks, then the end of January is the boys' 6th birthday and we are going to have the kids from their school over for lunch that day, February will be long, probably, and maybe the first part of March -though we have Svea's 2nd birthday to look forward to then!- but then in April Jeff's parents come, and May/June our friends come, and later June my parents come and perhaps Eric and Melinda too, and then we go to Iceland, and home! It will surely go by very quickly once all of that starts. We bought our plane tickets home yesterday, to make sure my parents could get their travel arranged with Dad's mission trip to Ukraine also. The six months will go quickly, and I am already excited to start looking through the travel books to see what we should do during our few days in Iceland!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Eighteenth Weekend

What a fun weekend we had! Our plans for Saturday were to go to Ribe, about 22km away, to see the Christmas sights, but the weather looked sort of ominous. Weather reports said it was supposed to rain hard all day, as is typical for this time of year in Denmark. We went to bed Friday night to pouring rain, and it didn't seem like walking around outside was going to be a good idea for Saturday morning! But, when we woke up, it was cloudy but no rain! We had a fantastic time walking the cobblestone streets. Much of it still feels like a medieval village.

In the Christmas area, there was a man with top hat and trench coat playing one of those little player piano type instruments that you turn with a crank. It sounded just like a carnival coming to town.
 At one point, three different choirs of people were singing renditions of Christmas songs. This group was outside the hotel that has been turned into a Julecalender. Each of the windows is marked with one of the days of December, and each day they open that window and there is a show inside. What a fun idea! Jeff took this picture just as Father Christmas was stepping out of the door. I think there's a shop inside, but we did not go in.
 This is the old Church in the center of town. Someday I hope we will go back there and be able to look more closely.
 A river runs right through town, with several large sailboats moored up on the docks. It feels very "European", especially with the cobblestone streets and the large brick buildings next to small stone houses.
 We got to Ribe shortly after 10am, and the kids were hungry for a snack. When we got to the place where the little booths were selling various treats and crafts, we decided to buy them each a waffle. As soon as we had paid for it and they poured the batter into the waffle iron, the power went out to all of the little booths. They were setting up for a big concert, plus there were about a dozen booths with lights and electronics, and it overloaded the circuitry. We waited a few minutes, and when they didn't come back on, decided to walk for a bit and come back. The lights came back on, for a brief couple of minutes, then were out again. So we kept walking. After quite a while, Jeff went back on his own to see if there were three little waffles ready, and they finally were. So the kids took a little break and ate them.
 They were thin, like the pancakes here, and stamped with hearts. They were served with strawberry jam and sugar. Quite delicious! Svea didn't want all of hers, so we shared it.
 The streets here are very old. Well, the whole town is very old, and the streets are very narrow. Torben stood in the middle of one and put his arms out. Probably it would fit three of him across, touching both sides.
 We walked down the little canal river to this post, which serves as a reminder of how high some of the flood waters have been in past centuries. The tallest green bar is quite a ways over our heads, and the water level currently is about four feet below the sidewalk. That flood was in 1634 -the year is marked on the bars. The lowest bar on there, which is slightly taller than Torben, is from a flood in 1909. I didn't notice that there were any more recent than that. Hopefully they have figured out some drainage systems to avoid such massive floods.
 These were some of the beautiful houses along the river. We were walking through the courtyard garden behind the museum when we passed these ones. Pia told us they are incredibly expensive, because of their proximity to the river.
 We all liked this little tea house. Jeff apparently thought it a good idea to take a picture of me taking a picture of the tea house. In the summer, the tea house is open to visitors, though when we passed through the doors were locked.
 This is a closer picture of the Julecalender windows from the hotel. It almost looks like a fanciful gingerbread house.
 The Ribe history museum. Boring for children, so we did not go inside. But it is apparently a very fascinating place. And the building itself is very beautiful. It was recently restored, I believe by the same person who helped to restore the classroom building at the folk school.
 Here is the tea house in its entirety. It just looks like a fun place to sit and have tea! And you can look out over the river, which at this place also has a series of bridges crossing every which way so you can get to where you need to go. I hope we can see it again in the spring when the trees are in bloom! Actually, it seems several trees and plants ARE in bloom right now, and we saw plants poking up through the dirt. There appear to be many confused species of the plant kingdom this year. I didn't think it had been that warm, but it does often feel like spring, so I guess they are confused too. It will be interesting to see what happens in the spring when they really are supposed to sprout...hopefully they won't be frozen over by then.
 At the start of our walk, Torben thought it was a fun idea to sit and pout. He wasn't upset about anything, just wanted a pouting picture on the park bench.
 Well, this picture wasn't from our trip to Ribe, but I like it and here it is. It seems quiet and calm, like winter time. If I could photoshop a flame into the candle, it might serve as a good Christmas card.
 As we were walking down the street, several vendors had their goods outside on the sidewalks. Jeff thought it was pretty funny that there were underpants with his name on them. He didn't buy any, but thought he should at least take a photo.
 Svea is getting so grown up! I forget what she was talking about here -probably asking me for a cookie and starting to get upset that I said she didn't need one since we were on our way to lunch.
 This was the sunrise this week, it was almost 9am when it finally got to this height. I like how the colours are shining between the trees.
 Ah, yes! Friday afternoon when we left the house to get the boys, we heard singing. Then we ran into the neighbour Pia who asked us if we were going downtown to hear him. We didn't know there was anyone doing a performance, but apparently it is someone quite famous in Denmark and he was doing a little concert in front of the hotel.
 It's kind of interesting that there are traveling concerts like this. It's not the first time a musician has shown up in one of these trailers, opened up the sides to create a sort of stage, and then sung along to a tape. After a few minutes, maybe a half hour or so, they pack up and move on to the next city. People gather in the street to watch, the police put up barricades so cars have to go around that block, and they enjoy some music for a little bit.
 Well, my pictures seem incredibly out of order this weekend! Oops. These were the booths set up in the courtyard outside of the little Julecalender hotel. They were so cute! All of them red and festive. It just made it feel like Christmastime. One of them was selling carmelized nuts that were very delicious. She let us try one each time we passed her booth, which, since we were checking on our waffles, ended up being several times!
 After we had had enough wandering, we made our way to a little cafe where Pia had reserved a table for us for lunch. It's good she did, the place was very crowded! Most people were eating in groups of 2 or 3, so it was easier for them to find a table. We had three adults and three children, so we used up a big part of the restaurant space. The kids and Pia and I all ordered "brunch" which came on one plate, and on which we each got a pancake (adults with hazelnut cream!), eggs, sausage, bacon, bread, cheese, bell peppers, cucumber and tomato salad, the kids got raisins, the adults got salmon and a skyr parfait with whole hazelnuts, raisins, muesli, and maple syrup, plus orange juice and hot chocolate -for the kids, orange juice and a latte for me. It was a huge amount of food! Jeff got a delicious cheeseburger, which he let me have a bite of. We haven't had many hamburgers since we've been here, and sometimes they taste so perfectly good! We did realize, though, why Danes don't eat out much. It was about $80 for our lunch for the five of us! And we didn't order Svea her own, but instead let her pick out parts from our (mostly my) plates.
 I liked the old-timey feel of Ribe, especially when it was decorated for Christmas, with lighted garlands hanging over the streets.
 Just as we were getting ready to leave, we saw a horse-drawn sleigh coming down the road. The sleigh looked like one you'd see in snow, but it had wheels. Genius!
 And just as we were leaving, on our way back to the car, we spotted this little house in between two slightly less little houses. I thought it was so cute. Seems like something for a story.
 We decided this weekend the boys needed a haircut, finally. We have been asking them for a few weeks when they were going to get it cut, and they always said "not now" but it was starting to get very long. So they finally said that I could cut it. They look so much more grown up! I cannot believe they will be six next month!
 Torben was mad at me about his haircut -apparently there was some part he had told me he wanted longer, but I didn't understand him. Thankfully, though, I was able to get one smile out of him. He was laughing about not making a nice face for my picture, and I snapped a second one while he was laughing. Tricky mommy.
It was a fun and busy weekend! Sunday we all went to the grocery store, and as we were getting ready to leave, Anders asked if we could get some ice cream. Low and behold, the caramel "drumsticks" were on sale for 3.98! That's less than 75 cents each for huge ice cream cones, so of course we bought those to eat on our way back home. Everyone eats ice cream while they are out for a walk in December, right?

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Each evening during Advent, there is a show on tv that's about 20 minutes long. There are different series for different ages of kids. The one our kids watch is a rerun originally created in 1984, and they have a few songs of the variety that get stuck in your head for days on end. One in particular the boys like, is about rice porridge. Rice porridge is common here in winter -last week we had it for lunch! It is made with milk or cream, and you eat it with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. As good as it is, though, a neverending song about it gets old! But the boys love it.

Nisse (gnomes) are a big fixture of the season here, it seems . The kids all like to check the little plate next to Charlie's door each morning, to see if he has left them a note or a little present. And at school, yesterday Anders was one of the two kids who got one of their own belongings brought to them from a nisse! Apparently, the nisse that the school received when they visited a farm a couple of weeks ago are traveling secretly each night to one little boy and one little girl's houses and are gathering toys and then returning them to the kids at school. Anders got his blanket back that he'd gotten on the airplane when we came here. He was so excited when the package was opened and it was his beloved pillow/backpack/blanket! All the way home from school he was asking how the nisse could have snuck into the house to get his blanket and bring it to school. We settled on the idea that Charlie must have helped. Charlie is turning into quite a good helper! Each day, we open a little present from Grandma Marge that she sent the kids for Advent, and Charlie has been instrumental in taking the wrappings from those little presents back to Santa so they can be recycled to wrap the Christmas presents in the stockings that Santa leaves. Genius!

Elfie is also a fixture in our holiday, and Svea gets excited to search for him each day along with the boys. She is quite cute about it, and always goes back to where he was previously to see if he is there. And then several times throughout the day, she will check in on him and laugh when she discovers him.

This morning it was so dark when we went to school! We are anticipating the solstice when the days slowly start getting longer again, but it still seems far off at this point. The sky seems to be the same colour from about 4pm until 9am (dark), and then the same colour from 9am until 4pm (slightly less dark, but still grey). It is not really as cold as I was expecting, though. When it's raining and the wind blows, then it chills you though and you can't really figure out how to warm up. But on a regular day it's just chilly. Earlier this week, in fact, it was bright and sunny during the day, and though the air was slightly damp, it felt like springtime. The air smelled like it does when the snow is beginning to melt and the trees are springing back to life. Of course, it will be several months before spring actually comes, but considering it is 1/3 through December already, I'm sort of surprised at the weather -it is not as bad as I anticipated. Except the wind. I did not expect this much wind!

The boys are doing so well with their Danish! The other day, they were playing together and talking in Danish to each other, even though no one else was around. Anders seems to know more words, and Torben seems to use more full sentences. It's quite fascinating to watch, actually. Their friend Rolf came over after school on Monday, and it was fun to watch them play together and talk a lot more together than they had the first time he came a couple months ago. That time, their play was filled with "Kom nu!" (come!) and he would dutifully follow them, whereas now they have full sentences together of what they are doing. Svea has started saying "mojn" (moyne) to everyone we pass. It is very colloquial, and a very local dialect, so the older people all laugh with surprise before responding in kind. It is very cute.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lost Dolly

It was an absolutely gorgeous day here yesterday! Sunny and bright, and between 50 and 60 degrees, I think -I believe the bank sign said 13 or so. Perfection! And it definitely did not feel like December! There was hardly any wind, which seems surprising for fall here. In the afternoon, Jeff and Svea and I took advantage of the beautiful day and went to the shops. Well, in particular, we went to the recycle shops. Torben was in need of new boots -his rain boots got holes, and his winter boots aren't quite waterproof, so we were trying to see whether we could find him some new ones. Also, the boys wanted Santa hats. So off we went. It's a nice walk after lunch to go by the library (Jeff is a frequent user of the library! He currently has about 15 books checked out) and then to the two recycle shops, and probably a stop by the ABC to get more milk. It's amazing how much milk we seem to go through. It's probably the same as we go through at home, but there we buy a gallon at a time, and here we buy it by the liter, so it seems every other day we are back for more! There is a 24 hour guarantee from when the milk was in the cow, until it is on the grocery store shelves, so it's always fresh, and therefore kind of nice to buy it frequently anyway. We found our Santa hats, some new boots for both Torben and Svea (I think we've bought 7 or 8 pairs of boots this year...and none of them for Jeff or me!), summer sandals for Torben and Svea. We've found several pair of Ecco shoes at the recycle shops that are hardly worn! We are going to keep looking and hope we find some in Anders' size as well before summer. Jeff found a couple of sweaters -he was in need of more long sleeve shirts anyway, and then last week I accidentally put his cashmere and silk black sweater in the dryer---oops, new sweater for me! And we found a couple more Christmas ornaments for the windows. We've done well at the two recycle shops here in town!

So it was that we went first to the library, then to one recycle shop, and then to the other, and then to the ABC, where we noticed that Svea's beloved purple dolly was missing. She takes that dolly everywhere! Somehow, it had been dropped along the way when she was trying to hold two dollies after leaving the second recycle shop with (another) free mini toy. We hurriedly looked through all the aisles at the ABC, frantically trying to find the dolly before it got picked up. But to no avail. Svea was getting upset, now, since she realized that we couldn't find it. We paid for our groceries and decided to retrace our steps. We knew she'd at it when we walked out the door of the second recycle shop, which wasn't very far down the road, so we decided to walk that way. Really hoping we found it. We have a spare dolly (because, of course we do. She loves that doll so much, we can never be without a backup!) but were hoping not to have to bring it out. We walked back toward the recycle shop, looking at the sidewalk we'd walked on earlier, hoping it was still wherever it had fallen. Then we spotted it! Someone had found it on the sidewalk, and sat the little dolly up next to a street sign pole. Hurrah! Svea was very glad. I handed the dolly to her, and she kissed its head and hugged it, "dolly! dolly!" and didn't let go of it the rest of the way back home. Whew. Crisis averted.

She does have a growing menagerie of little toys from the various shops. One of them often gives her a free toy when we are checking out. Grandma Linda sent her the little yellow bear, but the rest are part of her growing collection of free toys. She seems to like the two little dolls best, though at naptime today she grabbed two of the stuffed toys and said "ni nite?" and headed off to sleep.
 We got a package in the mail from my grandma, with a fun little Advent calendar stocking garland, as well as a box of little presents for the kids. They are a bit too big for the stockings (the stockings seem to be made for one piece of candy each, or so) so they are just in a box and the kids get to pick a wrapped present each day during December. The post date on the box says November 23, but it didn't arrive at our house until December 7, so we are a few days behind. The boys think it's sort of fun to open three presents at once until we catch up!
 Elfie found a fun place to sit on top of the lampshade. The kids were a bit concerned that he might burn his pants when the light was on, but it turned out to be just fine.
 Then he decided maybe a zipline would be fun, so he hung out on the string with the ornaments we have hanging in the windows. Even Svea is getting excited about Elfie (sometimes, "Elfine") and she will look at him, laugh, then walk out of the room and come back to see if he's still there -always joyously surprised that he is. It's fun that she is enjoying part of the magic too.
 It's about two weeks until the shortest day of the year, and then hopefully it will slowly get lighter again. Torben asked me to take this picture of him on the way to school this morning. It seems like it should be lighter out when we're walking to school! But, it was about 35 minutes before sunrise. We really are far north here! You don't realize that until the winter -or the summer, I suppose, when it never gets dark!
 Svea really is a cuddle bug. She loves to gather up a big pile of pillows, pull out a blanket, and relax. And then when she's fully relaxed, she grabs her dolly and says, "ni nite" and walks to the stairs to go to bed. I hope this continues throughout her toddlerhood and childhood!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Seventeenth Weekend

Our third weekend in a row of feeling more tired at the end of it than we were at the beginning! But, we had lots of good times together over the last few days.

It seems our Disney and popcorn Friday nights have been expanded slightly, and now include hot chocolate with huge marshmallows. Svea has even figured out how to drink out of the regular mugs sometimes.
 Photo distortion is fantastic sometimes! That, in reality, is a very small mug and a regular size marshmallow. But it looks fit for a giant!

While Svea napped the boys played with the perler beads. They think these are very fun, and requested some more of them for their birthday, and also when we get back home.

 They are very careful and meticulous when making their designs. It's fun to watch them study and pick and choose the colours.
 I made just one, a red and white heart to hang on the Christmas tree. I'm hoping it's not too big for our little tree!
 Elfie found a few fun places to hide. On top of the map in the dining room...
 ...and with the other nisse friends in the livingroom window.
When he was hanging out in this window, Torben tried to put up a Christmas decoration, and accidentally touched his leg. He felt very  badly about it, and we wrote a note, hoping the nisse Charlie would take it to Santa so Elfie could get his magic back. Thankfully, his petition worked, and Elfie found a new place to sit last night, and Charlie even brought back a small bag of toys for the boys too.

It has been incredibly windy here this fall. Last weekend, it literally blew Anders to the ground when he was trying to walk. This weekend, they were trying to go to bed and the wind was howling outside, and Anders asked what would happen if the house blew over and his bed started flying. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Yesterday afternoon the boys put on their warm suits and went to play outside in the wind. They tried for a while to learn to use the rollerblades on the patio outside the back door, then took shelter inside one of the large trees. I could see them only occasionally when the wind blew the branches in a particular way to reveal them inside their makeshift fort.

After dinner Sunday night we all went over to the main classroom building, to the "resting room" as the boys call it, to have a hot chocolate. They always get wild when we let them have a hot chocolate right before bed, but they really enjoy it so we indulge them sometimes. And we enjoy it too, so everybody wins -at least until bedtime. Then it is a bit of a struggle! We have been reading Little House in the Big Woods for quite a while now, and are about 1/3 of the way through. It's a little bit old for them, so we don't usually get through very many pages at a time. They are enjoying the story, though, and asking lots of questions about how people lived. They are particularly distraught by the idea that the kids couldn't talk or even smile on the walk to and from church on Sundays, and that they weren't allowed to play at all that day. It's fun that they are old enough now to follow a chapter book story from day to day.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Firsts of December

It's been quite a busy week now that December has started! Add to that the fact that I was still trying to catch up on our blog of adventures from taking a hiatus during November, and it turns out that I'm writing about the week on Thursday. Alas. But nonetheless, there have been many adventures so far!

Several weeks ago, one of the neighbors who is a teacher in nearby Esberg asked me whether I would come to her 9th grade English glass and talk to the students. She had talked with them about the idea, and they thought it would be easier for me to ask them questions and they formulate answers, rather than them asking me about life back home. So, this Monday I went. It was a dark and stormy morning! During winter, the sun doesn't come up until around 8am, and school started at 7:35, so we left town while it was still dark just after 7, and there was hail and wind. I had been awake since 4:45 when I woke up and wasn't able to fall back asleep, so it was already a long morning. I was hoping the kids were more awake than I! We started off the session with a number exercise. Cards with pictures of animals and the various numerals were put on the floor, and I would call out a number in English and the two teams had to race to be the first to hit  it with a flyswatter. It was their teacher's idea, and it really got them up and moving around. I think that was part of her 8.5 required minutes of physical activity. Somewhere along the way, the 25 minute outdoor recess has been changed to whenever you have a double-block class, you have to spend 8.5 minutes doing some sort of physical exercise. Doesn't matter the class. So, in English the kids raced to swat number cards with a flyswatter. It was fun. Then we talked for over an hour -mostly I asked them about places they'd traveled, where they would like to travel, what they do in their spare time, and things like that. They wanted to talk a little bit about the differences between cultures here and in America. Some are quite striking, but I also explained that there are many regional cultures in America that aren't quite the case here, so you can't just say "American youth do..." in many situations. I think they had a good time with it, and I had fun going. After that class was a brief break, so I got to sit in the teachers' lounge for some coffee and bread. The Principal was at our table, too, and she said I am welcome to come back any time, as much as I would like.

On December 1st, our nisse arrived as well as Elfie! We best be careful how many Advent and Christmas traditions we adopt at once, or we will be overcome with little gnomes! Together, Elfie and the nisse brought the boys another Lego advent calendar, so they each have one to open each morning, with a different piece to build. They have fun with that. And each morning they go on a hunt to find where Elfie might be hiding. One morning, there was a letter from the nisse as well.

It turns out that our nisse is named Charlie. Interestingly, Charlie's writing is very similar to both my grandpa's and Jeff's grandpa's.

Svea has a chocolate Advent calendar with princesses on it. I can think of nothing better for her as a prize! The boys have Lego, and she has chocolate. They are all three delighted!

December 2nd, the boys had a Julefrokost -Christmas Luncheon- at the Hotel downtown. They had to wear their best clothes, and sat at tables with table cloths, candles, and fancy dishes. They got to have as much as they wanted, though they both mentioned that they had to take brown bread every time they went back to get more of anything else. Dessert was the typical Riceallemande with cherry sauce. Anders ate either 5 portions (per the teacher) or 7 portions (per Anders). Either way, a LOT of almond rice and cherry sauce! He was so excited about it!
 We had a bit of a challenge getting them in their dress clothes for the occasion. I had packed them each one nice pair of pants and one nice button-down shirt. We took them out in the morning, and realized that Anders' shirt was a size 10, and had French cuffs! Oops. Rookie mom mistake, I guess. Forgot the cufflinks. We found another button down shirt that worked better, good thing I'd brought a couple of others that weren't the "fancy" ones!

This is a photo of the whole group of them at their lunch. Looks like they had a good time!

We decorated our little tree this week, too. It didn't take very long! It's fun, though, and looks cute sitting in the window. We had extra ornaments (surprise, surprise) so we hung some red yarn between the window locks and hung the ornaments in the windows as well.

Pretty neat what you can find at the recycle shop when they first set out the Christmas things! I even like the embroidered tree skirt. It doesn't quite fit over the bucket the tree is planted in -we bought a live tree, hopefully someone will plant it!- but it covers it up a bit. I like that it has little candles and nisse on it. I really like the paper star-flower ornaments. There was a whole bag of them, mostly white and red, that I got there as well. These also look fun hanging in the windows.

Jeff had agreed to do a lecture for a university course back in the states, so he was up at 1:30am talking with them. So many times since we've been here, he's been up at the wee hours of the morning! Definitely not what we are used to back home!

Another first of our December was the pulled duck tacos we had for dinner one night. We got there, said, "ooh, tacos!" and then looked at the picture next to the meat, and it was a chicken. Ok, we thought. Not ideal, but probably OK. Then the chef was telling us what was for dinner. Sometimes I can pick out some of the words and figure it out, and I definitely understood the word "duck" in his description. Yes. So, we had duck tacos for dinner. The boys didn't know what it was, and Anders loves tacos so he had one. I asked if he liked it. He said "yes, it's spicy!" and went to get another one. After he'd eaten the second one, he said "Is this chicken?" (he saw the picture too), "no." "turkey?" "no." "then what is it?" "It's duck." "What do you mean, duck?" He raised his eyebrows. I explained that it was duck meat. He didn't seem to mind, though. But his third taco was just cheese.

Today my Grandma is 85. We are sorry to be so far away and miss her birthday party. The kids took a picture this morning to send to her email machine, so it will be a fun surprise when she gets that after she wakes up. It's hard to get them all to look the same way at the same time! And somehow, it seems I manage to have Svea dressed in pink and the boys in blue, every time I want a picture of them all together!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sixteenth Weekend

Well, now I am almost caught up. It is the third post for this morning, and the others were pretty quick summaries! Hopefully now I can get back to the regular rhythm of weekday morning writing, and keep up more regularly.

Our weekend was fairly quiet at first. We watched Disney, as we always do to start off the weekend. I'm not sure if the kids love it or not, but they love the tradition of it for sure. They are always eager to get their jammies on, pull out the big bean bag, get the bowl of popcorn, and sit down together to watch.

Last weekend, one of the boys who came to visit showed our boys how to make a spinning top out of the plusplus bricks. They spent much of this weekend making as many as possible, and then having contests to see which ones looked cooler when they spun. This might be one of the coolest toys I've ever seen.

Sunday was the JuleCafe at the Friskole. The preschool class was going to sing the Lucia song and do a short parade, and then sing a couple of other songs. It was very cute. I thought the white t-shirt with finger-painted gold wings on the back was a perfect way to do Angel costumes for little kids!

 The preschool parade was led by two of the girls wearing Lucia crowns (battery operated, definitely a good call!) And they walked in a line through all of the tables of parents and families.
 Each of the "big" kids held the hand of a "small" kid. Torben got to walk with his good friend Freya.
 Andreas picked Anders to be his walking partner. They were very cute, all the kids walking together through the crowd, while singing "Sancta Lucia..."
 This is an even better one of Torben and Freya. Wherever he goes, she is not far behind!
 Here are all the preschool kids getting ready to sing a couple more songs. They sang "Frere Jacques" in Danish and English.
 They also sang a cowboy song. It was in English, but not one that we had heard before. The kids all seemed to have a fun time.
 We left the JuleCafe after the kids were done, even though the party was scheduled for a couple more hours. Svea hadn't had a nap yet, and Jeff had to get back to the kitchen to cook yet another American Thanksgiving! Sunday night, we had all the traditional foods for all the folk school students. The turkey turned out fantastic, and Jeff left one uncut to bring to the table. They cooked five turkeys! Fifteen kilos of potatoes, seven kilos of sweet potatoes, plus cranberry sauce, beans, corn.
 It was the first Sunday of Advent, so they lit the candle on the table wreath as well.

Pretty much all of this was gone by the time everyone had gone through! But the whole turkey didn't get cut -there were still some leftovers!

One of the traditions in Scandinavia is that you set up a special little door for a Jule Nisse (Christmas gnome) to come to visit. Sometimes maybe the nisse will leave you little notes, or presents, and you can write notes to the nisse as well. We have decided to adopt this tradition as well, so we set up our door against the wall. We have the door on the counter, so the ladder isn't really necessary this year. But it serves as a good spot to store his wooden shoes and the wreath. There is also a metal plate, on which we can put the treats for the nisse, and perhaps where the nisse will leave presents for the kids.

Aha! And here is the photo of Thanksgiving leftovers! Even in Denmark, we had turkey leftovers. They actually mixed the turkey with the cranberries, and then mixed something else (cheese perhaps, plus some spices) into the mashed potatoes. It was a fantastic leftovers dinner!
And with the last of the turkey eaten, and the Elves and gnomes beginning to arrive, and the snow and ice coming and going again, it seems November has gone and December is here. We have been here nearly four whole months now. It will be four months next week. It is amazing how the time goes! The boys have fantastic understanding of the Danish language, and speak it often. It's fun that they can play with their friends so much more easily now. Svea talks all the time too, though primarily in English since she spends the majority of her time with me. She has started repeating words to get an understanding now, which is fun. If we tell her something is this or that, she will repeat the word as a question, and then repeat it again as a statement.