We have been here eleven weeks already! Some days it seems like we just arrived, and others it seems like we have been here forever. The kids are really hitting a stride and jumping into life here so that makes it fun. We stayed home, basically, this weekend, but it was a fully packed weekend!
On Friday, we arrived at school to pick up the boys, and Torben was sitting on the tire swing taking off his boots and socks. I told him to put them back on (so we could go home, and also because it was about 50 degrees and too cold for bare feet), and instead he stood up and shimmied himself right up the poles holding the tire swing! Just like a little monkey would have done.
He was so fast! He climbed those skinny little poles like they were simply stairs there. Then he carefully slid down, put his socks back on, and climbed the poles again, this time only using his hands! Neither Jeff nor I were ones who could climb the ropes in school gym class, so we're kind of surprised at where Torben's amazing strength comes from. I asked if he ever climbed the rope swing, and he said only once. Apparently he prefers the slick metal poles to the rough rope.
This weekend was a "free weekend" for the folk school students, so about half of them left to go home. There was another group of people who came for some special theater workshops, but it was still a much smaller group for all the meals. They rearranged the tables in the dining room to be large squares, which is definitely more cozy than long rows. They have done this a few times when there is a more formal dinner, and it's a nice change. Because of the special group, they did three meals each day instead of just brunch and dinner. We made it to breakfast each day, and the kids got by with three meals instead of four.
Saturday we decided to go to one of the larger stores outside of town in the afternoon. I was knitting scarves for the boys, and needed a bit more yarn, and wanted to get a pair of leggings so I could wear my skirts into the fall and winter here. We decided this time to go to Ribe, about 22km away. First we went to Føtex, and were a bit surprised at the prices, which were more than the local ABC here in town. We bought the ingredients to make the Olive Garden alfredo sauce to go with farfalle and chicken for dinner, since we decided that the formal dinner at the folk school wasn't the best idea for us to all attend. We also picked up several boxes of the Nescafe Cappuccino, which I've discovered isn't quite the same as the Cafe Francais I love so much at home, but it's a pretty decent substitute that is available here, so I drink that. Mom and Dad sent me four cans of Cafe Francais a while ago, and I just finished the last of them last week. I had brought one can with me, so I was quite impressed that I managed to make five cans last for almost eleven weeks! But I digress.
We weren't able to find the yarn I wanted at that store, so before heading home we went into the Kvickly as well. That was the chain I had bought the yarn at in another town, so I had high hopes that I would be able to find the match if we went there. I did indeed get it, along with two large crochet hooks -I think crochet might be easier to teach the boys than knitting- and a set of 13mm knitting needles that I want to use to make Svea's scarf. I used 5mm and 6mm for the boys scarves, and with the thickness of the yarn they are very dense. They will certainly be warm! I also found a fun knitting loom set, which Jeff got me as a birthday present.
I am thinking of trying to create Christmas stockings for the kids, and have ideas that maybe I can make these knitted squares and sew them together. We'll see.
Several people have told us that the branches from the hazelnut tree (is it hazelnuts? The nuts themselves seem to look different. I will have to check before I buy a tree for my yard at home) are often brought inside in the fall and winter and used to hang decorations on. I found a few dead and dried out branches under the tree outside, and we hung it from the ceiling in the porch. There were too eye-hooks already up there, which turned out to be perfect for it. I love the twisty branches, and there are many of them so they will provide a nice backdrop for a lot of various decorations. We first hung the leaf ornaments the kids made at school last week.
They blend into the branches, and it seems very fall-like. It will be fun to see what else we can come up with to hang on the branches as the season goes on. Sunday afternoon while Svea was sleeping, the boys and I spent about an hour and a half making sculptures and decorations with toothpicks, chestnuts, and yarn. We hung five of these from the branches as well. When Svea woke up, she looked at it and said "pretty!"
It's a little bit hard to get a picture, because when it is bright outside to provide light, it also casts a shadow on the branches and decorations, but if it's dark out, then the flash goes off and the branches are blinded by the light. It is pretty to look at, though. The yellow yarn in the chestnut ornaments is a nice pop of colour. Oh how I hate that phrase. But it seems appropriate here anyway.
Sunday morning right after breakfast, we went to the grocery store here in town (we forgot milk and other school lunch essentials when we went to the big store. sigh) and then took a side trip to the little county park on the way home. The kids were so excited to go there!
The time changed this weekend. We knew it was coming, but didn't remember exactly when it was, so we were surprised Sunday morning when we woke up and it was very light out. I figured we had missed the 8:30 breakfast. Then we looked at our clocks and they said 7:15. The light in the morning sure was nice! But then it was dark at 5:30pm. So, it is a tradeoff. In a few weeks, it will be dark again in the morning, and still dark at late afternoon. And it will remain that way for several months. That is going to be the hardest adjustment I think. The dark and cold all the time. The general consensus seems to be that November is the worst month. It's long and dark and cold, and they don't have Thanksgiving to look forward to in order to break up the days. December is dark and cold also, but they look forward to Christmas. In November, it's just dark and cold. We are planning to host several of Jeff's friends from when he was a student here for an American Thanksgiving dinner the last weekend of November, so we have that to look forward to. That meal alone will make our going-home bags about 25 pounds lighter! We brought condensed milk, canned pumpkin, and sage stuffing in our suitcases!
The theater group at the folk school had invited a clown for a special show on Sunday afternoon as well, so we went to that after lunch. Svea was very intrigued for about ten minutes, and then she was done. So she and I went outside so she could walk around and the rest of the kids could watch the show, which was about 45 minutes long. The boys said it was fun, and they came away with a huge balloon figure, so they were excited about that. Svea had a fun time playing a rendition of follow-the-leader, wherein she was the leader. She would say "this way..." and expect me to follow her. If I was not quick enough, she would move her fingers in the "come here" fashion, and say "Mommy, come." She would walk a short way, then say "this way!" and turn to go look at something else. She found a little ramp leading up to one of the residence doorways, and walked up and down, up and down, for several minutes. Then "this way..." to the pumpkins, then "this way..." to the flowers, and on and on all around the courtyard. She has so many words now! I wrote them down about a month ago, and she had 60 words she used regularly, and I know there are many more now. She talks all the time.
For late afternoon, Jeff and the boys went to the folk school and watched The Great Pumpkin with the students who wanted to join in. Jeff also made rice krispie bars, some with orange coloured frosting, some with Nutella, and some plain. That was a fun way to show them all a bit of American halloween tradition as well. Svea was napping so she and I did not join in the movie.
The stores are starting to get ready for Christmas here, and it's a lot of fun to see the decorations starting to pop up. Even though it's still two months away, it is exciting. We bought a Nisse (gnome) door kit at the store this weekend. It has a door, a ladder, a door mat, and mail box. That will be a fun little tradition to start with the kids. Funny that I was just looking at some fairy doors on Pinterest last week, and we came across this at the store and Jeff said it was a very common tradition here in Denmark. It's fun to mingle our own traditions with some new ones here. I really like the Friday night Disney Sjov one...we get home from dinner, the kids put on their jammies (we do too!), we pull out the big bean bag chair, get some popcorn and maybe hot chocolate, and settle in to watch an hour of Disney cartoons. I guess the common tradition here is that each child gets 100g of candy on Fridays for Disney Sjov night, but, we have decided on popcorn instead. We buy a bag of pre-popped "American Snacks" popcorn for about fifty to eighty cents, depending on whether it's on sale or not, and sit together and eat it while we watch. This week Svea went to bed right after Disney, but the boys started watching Versus, a game show where the audience participants vote on whether the A act or the B act will win in some sort of contest, and if they guess correctly they stay in the game, but if they guess incorrectly they are out. The winners get 100,000 Kr. We weren't planning to let them stay up for the whole hour of the show, but it was a fun one and they enjoyed watching it. They really are getting so grown up sometimes.
The pumpkin fairy showed up on our doorstep this week, dropping off three perfect little pumpkins. Our weekend was a bit too busy to carve them, and now that the sun sets early the evenings are very short for working outside. So the plan is to to them first thing after school today.