Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fourteenth Weekend

Well, seeing as it's now almost the fifteenth weekend, I thought I should take time away from my novel-writing and get back to the blog for a while! It's funny to feel guilty about not doing something that is entirely my choice to do or not do. I'm slightly ahead of the word count for this time of the month, with 11 days left to go now, so I feel it's ok to take a bit of a break. Yesterday I took a break too, to read some more of the Frances Mayes book I requested via inter-library loan. Because it's from a different library, not the one here in town, I can't renew it as easily and it's due next week. So I've got several ongoing things I'm trying to get done this month!

Our fourteenth weekend was mostly calm and quiet. It started off as usual with Disney Sjov on Friday evening, complete with the huge beanbag and popcorn. I wonder what Friday night tradition we will have at home. I love that we start each weekend this way!

We decided to go to Ribe to the grocery store, as it's quite a bit bigger than the ABC here and has a selection of things in addition to food. We bought a small, live Christmas tree for 60Kr. It's only about 2 feet tall. The tag says it is ten years old already. It's fun, though, and cute. Several weeks ago, when searching for chestnuts, we found a sort of (really!) tacky candle ring with two fake apples (there are spaces for four) and a burgandy and gold ribbon on the plastic greenery. Torben thought it was a good topper for the tree, so there it sits.
 I bought several decorations at the recycle shop; I may have too many for this little tree! We are not going to decorate it until after December 1, though, just on principle. Walking home the other evening from dinner, in the dark, we saw that someone had their tree lit in their living room on the other side of the field. It was beautiful. But it still seems early. Maybe because November is dark and cold, Christmas season begins earlier so there is some brightness to look forward to.

We laughed when I asked Jeff to read the directions for me on the tree. On most packages, there are symbols for Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, etc. and I cannot read any of them very well -though I can figure out ingredient lists on foods, more or less- so I asked Jeff what this said. He got about half-way through reading the description before I realized that Great Britain was one of the languages on the pot. Sigh. I guess I could have figured out how to take care of the tree myself!

The students from the folk school are all away on various trips around the world right now, though the group of refugees were staying in Denmark and going on different tours here. Friday evening, they were in charge of dinner. The cooks had said at lunch -which was only about 15 people- that there would be fixings for making sandwiches for dinner, and the guys asked if they could cook instead.

We arrived at dinner to find the tables set -rather than the wheeled carts of plates sitting next to the foods-
There weren't many of us, so this made more sense than dragging out all of the plates and utensils, and it also looked really nice. It made the dinner even more special, especially considering there were so few of us. I think there were eleven or twelve total. They made rice, and a beef-in-yogurt dish, as well as falafel and salads. It was all very good! They even put everything in the serving dishes before putting it out on the table. Many times, when a meal is more informal and there aren't as many people, the baking dishes find there way out to the serving station instead.

Then we cleaned the house! How exciting! It was nice, though, to have everything put away, the floors swept, vacuumed, and mopped, and everything looking pristine. It sets a good tone for everything else when you have a nice deep clean, in addition to the everyday picking up. The boys were even on board with the plan, and Svea can usually be convinced to put things away if you're putting them away also. She is at that fun age now where she's getting particular about things getting put in their place.

The boys' Danish is just taking off now. It's fun to hear them talking so much, in complete sentences and using the correct grammar forms. I can't always understand them when they talk to me, and sometimes when I tell them to do something they say they won't do it until I tell them in Danish. I wish I picked it up as easily as they did. I try to listen at meals, and when the television is on, but I haven't been to any language classes. They're a ways away, and in the evenings, so it just didn't work out. Just last week Torben really started speaking in full sentences, and answering people when they asked him things in Danish. It's so fun to see. Svea is talking all the time now, too, though it's mostly in English. This makes sense since she spends the day with me. She has mastered "nej!" though, and uses it frequently.

It's just about lunch time now, though it looks like 4pm outside. Probably at 4pm it will be mostly dark. The rain seems to have settled in for the duration of the week. It feels cold in the mornings when we go somewhere, and the wind is crazy. I'm constantly amazed at how fast the clouds go by overhead, or how often it rains sideways because the winds are so strong. It's nice sitting inside with candles and cozy clothes and socks, watching it out the windows.

Friday, November 13, 2015


We have had many, many delightful meals here in Denmark -some of them familiar and others quite different. Most of what we eat at the folk school is delicious. Several times, we've experienced various lasagna recipes. A few vegetarian ones with eggplant or zucchini as the base, a more typical one with tomato sauce and ground beef, another vegetarian one with just cheese and tomatoes, a bacon, pork, and mushroom one with a white, creamy cheese sauce. All have been delightful. So imagine our surprise this week when we arrived at lunch for another lasagna and heard the cook listing off what was for lunch, and her words included "fiskelasagne." My Danish is not very good -understandably, since I am not taking classes because they are far away- but even I know the word "fisk", and I don't believe it should ever be in the same sentence as "lasagna", and yet it was. When you scooped a mouthful of delicious lasagna onto your fork, instead of meeting beef, or zucchini, or tomato, or eggplant, or pork, you see a large chunk of white cod. We ate it. It was best if you removed the fish first, and ate that separate from the lasagna.

Dinner was amazing. There were pork ribs, fried potatoes, tomato and red onion and feta salad with balsamic (leftover from lunch, we ate a lot of it then too). Svea went to town on a pork rib! I think she ate more than I did. The rest of us chowed down on the potatoes, which were more amazing than french fries. They were a take on oven fries, but somehow even more good than that. Ah, redemption.

Jeff was invited to speak at the boys' school yesterday morning to talk a little bit about what it's like to be a kid in the USA. They are learning about the USA right now, so it was fun for the boys to get to share a bit of what it's like for them. Jeff made the rookie mistake of mentioning to the group of 3, 4, and 5 year olds that we had two dogs and a cat...thus prompting all of the children (there are 26 if everyone is there) to talk about what pets they have at home, and some to say "well, I used to have a cat, but it died" and things of that nature. Other than that, it went well. The kids had fun, and the teachers were glad to have Jeff come talk for a bit to the kids. The boys also had swimming in the afternoon. They enjoy that quite a bit. Every other Thursday they get to go for a while during the day and play in the shallow pool next to the larger one at the community center.

I am rather behind with writing about our adventures this month, since I'm spending most of my writing time working on the nanowrimo project. I have over 21,000 words now, and am still on track to finish before November 30. So that is fun. I read a book by the creator of the project, and it mentioned how in the second week you often get bored with the writing, and I have definitely experienced that. The best remedy is just to keep writing, or throw some sort of wrench into the plot to shake things up a bit and see how the characters come out on the other side. As long as I stay on track, I will be able to finish it. Then I can get back to my blogging about our adventures, my knitting projects, and my reading!

I will have to think of another project for December -well, maybe. Perhaps December's project will be Christmas. The boys and I are going to try to make a lot of the ornaments for the tree we will get. It will be a small one, but I really do want to have one. I want to get a few of the traditional Danish ornaments for the tree that we can take home with us also, but mostly we will make them. I like the idea of a homespun Christmas. We are even going to use old knitted socks for stockings. I think I am going to doctor them up a bit, maybe add the kids' initials or something. Yes, it seems that December's project will be Christmas.

For now, it's about time to get ready for lunch. Many of the students have left already on their long trips of the semester -some to Istanbul, some to South Africa, some to Georgia, some to Ghana. It will be a quiet week here next week. But I do hope that because most people are gone, we don't end up with fiskelasagne leftovers...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thirteenth Weekend

For this weekend, we stayed around close to home mostly. But, Jeff has invited several friends to Rødding for an American Thanksgiving meal later this month, so we did leave town in search of some turkeys. He had seen them at the local ABC supermarket where we buy most of our groceries, and they were approximately $4 per pound, which seemed like kind of a lot. He asked one of the cooks, and she said that sounded about right to her. But we did want to go check at a larger store to see if the price was any better. Saturday after lunch, we headed to the Kolding Storcenter to go to Bilka. It's something like deciding to go to the Mall of America on a Saturday afternoon (i.e. a crazy madhouse). We ended up being in the supermarket -the Bilka- for over an hour, spent about 800Kr, and discovered that the turkeys were more expensive, and smaller, than the ones here in town. It seemed all the families in the store who had children with them had at least one child crying or whining, no one seemed to be paying attention to where they were walking or who else might be in the path they were headed. Total chaos. We found a few things that are not available at our little store (obviously, since we spent over a hundred dollars), and delightfully there is a Starbucks right outside the door of the store. So I got a delicious Christmas Blend coffee in one of those "scandalous" red holiday cups. It was about $5, and worth every penny.
I'm thinking of putting the cup on our Christmas tree. I can't believe all the hype around these cups, but I think it will look very festive with my other handmade Christmas ornaments this year.

On Pinterest I found some photos of paper ornaments, and the boys and I tried out a few.

Now they are hanging from the swirly branches with the other decorations the kids have made this fall. It's really fun having that to hang things on. I think I might try to figure out something like that at home as well. The boys really like it too, and have started finding their own ways to hang their art on it when they get home from school. Now we've got some pumpkins, a couple of ghosts, a few drawings, as well as the leaves and chestnuts we had before.

We were amused when we arrived at the mall (the largest in Denmark, supposedly) to see a drive-through Carl's Jr. right by one of the entrances. The full restaurant was in the food court inside, but there was indeed a drive through window outside. We didn't buy any hand-breaded chicken strips, but we looked to see if they were available on the menu, and they were.
Someday maybe we will go back there on a day that isn't a Saturday afternoon, to see what else they have there. We were sort of "done" by the time we finished our grocery shopping that we just headed back home. We did notice several signs for their Black Friday all-day sales. That seems kind of interesting, since they don't do Thanksgiving here like we do back home. Jeff says the Black Friday thing is new here too.

What I cannot believe is all the beautiful flowers still in bloom in November! Svea and I took the long way back from lunch and walked past the garden at the folk school. These pink ones were still very much alive and beautiful.
 There are a few of these yellow ones in the back yard as well. They almost look fake they are still in such pristine condition! Beautiful!
 The walking paths through the garden were a bit tight for the stroller, but we tried anyway. Svea liked being able to reach out and touch the flowers, saying "ooh, pretty!"
 It's nice when the kids start to get old enough to make their own snacks...but they sometimes get carried away! Torben wanted one of these amazing rolls with havarti, and didn't want to wait for help. So, he skipped cutting the roll or the cheese, skipped the toaster, and just put the remaining 1/4 of the havarti on the bottom of his roll. I stopped him just before he took a bite, and helped him cut some. That's about four servings of cheese -at least.
 Svea's first "big kid" drawing. I think I will bring it home and put it in her frame which currently sits empty on the wall. She loves purple!
 I like the idea of hygge ("hoo-ga", more or less) and we have a few candles in the center of the table that we light when we're going to be sitting here for a while. The kids like it too, though Svea says "hot?" and tries to blow them out all the time.
 One of our weekend purchases was a set of two microfiber cleaning cloths. I sewed one of them into a bag filled with rice to make a heating pad. I'm going to sew up the other one too. Warm rice packs are so nice on sore muscles, or when it's cold outside. I kept the one end, that I used to flip it inside out and fill it with rice, sort of messy in the finishing so that I can pretty easily unstitch that part to bring them back home. It seems silly to fill our suitcase weight with rice! These are washcloth size, and folded in half make a perfect size.
Since I decided to participate in national novel writing month this November, I've been spending a lot of my "free" time writing, but still feel behind. Sunday afternoon while Svea was sleeping, Jeff took the boys over to the folks school -they wanted to ride their bikes/scooter anyway- for a hot chocolate so I could have some time to write. They ended up over in the workshop making designs with the perler beads as well -and ran into Thøger as well. I think it was one of their most perfect afternoons. Anders asked us to get him some of those perler beads for his birthday.

A few days ago, Jeff and I were enjoying the gorgeous weather -it's been about 14 degrees, close to 60- and talking about how people kept saying November was the worst month here as far as weather goes, and if that was the truth, if this was how it got, then we could surely handle it! The next day the wind and grey and mist came. Ah. "This is the November I remember" Jeff said. Even though the temperature hasn't gone down much, it was still 13 this morning when we took the kids to school- the wind and rain make it feel cold. I can see why hygge is so important. You just want to curl up inside with a book and a blanket, light some candles, and be with the people who are important to you. Yesterday, I skipped writing entirely and just piled a bunch of pillows in the corner of the couch, made some hot chocolate, got a blanket, and read my novel "Bella Tuscany" the entire time Svea was asleep. It seemed like a good choice, even though I also felt like I was getting behind in the writing both for my blog and for the nanowrimo project. Funny how I feel sort of obligated to those things, even though they are completely my choice and I'm not doing them for anyone except myself! I still feel badly when I don't do them. But it was nice to sit and read. And today I am back at the table, with a couple of candles burning, catching up on the writing.

We've eaten more meals at home the last week or so than we typically do. There were several fancy meals at the folk school, and our kids don't really do fancy meals, and last night they were having some sort of party with yellow pea soup and boiled pork, so we opted out. Jeff saw on the students' facebook group that they were all meeting at 7 to go to the Burger Barn, so, apparently they weren't that impressed with it either. Today he is taking his Immigration class on a walking tour in a nearby town, and won't be around for lunch, so Svea and I are going to stay home too. I think we will have grilled cheese.

Flensburg Germany Bus Trip

On November 4, the students from the folk school were going on another bus trip, this time south a ways to Flensburg Germany. The kids had done so well when we went on the first bus trip of the Jutland area, that we decided to go along on this one as well. The folk school kids had some meetings scheduled at a high school in Flensburg, so we would have a few hours to just walk around and see things that interested us while they were in those meetings.

It was about an hour on the bus to get there, and we immediately started on a walking (maybe running!) tour of the harbour and the city. I had looked at the weather beforehand, but didn't take into account that it always feels colder by the water than the actual temperature is, and hadn't brought along warm enough clothes for any of us. We'd walked from the bus to the sidewalk by the fjord, and already Anders was shivering and I was cold, and Svea was crying. Whew, I thought, this was going to be an incredibly long day! We weren't scheduled to get back on the bus again for about 5 hours! We started walking, though, and as we got into town it didn't feel quite as cold, plus, we were moving quickly through the streets so that helped warm us up.

Our first stop was the large Danish library, and we all went inside -most to use the bathroom. Outside the library the streets were narrow and crowded, and there were shoes hanging from the wires overhead. The story goes, apparently long ago the shoes were hung on the old cable car lines to indicate that these were the locations of stores for questionable substances that the people coming in off the boats could find. It looks fun, though, seeing all the wires of running shoes crossing over the streets above you.

We walked through the walking street fairly quickly -it seems Mads as a tour guide is always walking at a near-run - but saw several places that we wanted to remember so we could come back later when the students were in their meetings.

This picture doesn't quite do the hill justice, but we went up to that building on top of the hill. It was about half stairs and half ramps, so Svea got a few chariot rides as Jeff and one of the other teachers carried her in the stroller up the steps. She thought it was pretty great! The view of the harbour was neat from up there, and would have been better later in the afternoon after the fog had lifted. I'd forgotten how foggy harbours are during the morning!

Up behind that building is a large cemetery with very old stones, several hundred years old, and also this giant statue that's pretty significant in Denmark's history from when this part of the country belonged to them.

By 10:45 we'd all made it up to the high school, and stopped to eat our lunches in the dining room area there. It was early, but everyone was hungry so we all ate. Then it was our free time while the students had their meetings. We left the school, thinking we were taking the way back down the hill to the walking street where the shops were -afterall, if you're on top of a hill, and the streets are heading down, you're going in the right direction. We saw quite a bit of graffiti on the walls of the streets as we walked, and not many people around. It just didn't feel quite right. I did see an amazing little house stuck in a corner with a tiny little courtyard out front with a metal bistro table. It was picturesque like what you'd see in a fairytale, or a romantic comedy. I really wanted to take a picture of it, but there was a man -a neighbor I think- outside and he was walking very close behind us. I kept waiting for him to go inside one of the houses, but he didn't. And then we were too far past the house to get a photo. I will have to try to remember it instead. Even if we returned to Flensburg again -as I suspect we might for the Christmas market- I don't think I'd find it again!

We were a bit turned around by the time we reached the bottom of the hill, and it took a while to get oriented again. We were about four blocks farther down the city than we thought we were, but quickly made our way back to the walking streets we intended to go to. The kids didn't quite understand that we were going there just to walk. They kept asking if we were there yet, and where we were going. We saw a "Everything for 1 Euro" store, and decided to go inside. If nothing else, we could warm up for a bit -though for the most part we weren't feeling too cold anymore. It was a fairly large store, and had more things than I'd expected to see there. We ended up buying some skeins of yarn -they were cheaper than at the recycle shop!-, two hot wheels, some chocolate coins the boys had been asking for since they'd seen them weeks ago, and a calendar of postcards of Germany. Ten Euro. It wasn't such a bad deal.

The bustle of the walking streets was kind of fun. There were a lot of people, but it didn't feel overly crowded. And the shops were small and close together -it seemed one building ran into the next, with very few side streets to break them up. It was nice that we didn't really have to look out for cars, though, except for the occasional delivery truck.
 When we first arrived on the walking street, we could hear music. Then we saw this woman sitting on a stool playing an accordion. Reminded me of the street musicians we heard all the time in Chicago -though those were almost always guitars or buckets, rather than accordions. But still, it was fun.
 In the afternoon, after the students were done with their meetings, we got back on the bus and drove about a half an hour to Schleiswig to see the ruins of the wall that was used back in the war. It used to be 5m tall and 2m thick, and they had cleared all the trees and brush for several kilometers, so they could easily see the enemy coming.
 This picture is the "after" of the one that follows it. Imagine, though, that instead of two boys standing on the edges of that wet stump, there are three children standing there -the smallest one trying to be just like her big brothers.
Just as I was saying "be careful, that is very slippery when it's wet!" Svea disappeared inside the hole in the stump. If you look closely in this bottom one, where just Anders is standing, you can see her hand and forearm reaching out from the center of it. She didn't get hurt, but she was rather irritated about it. Jeff took the picture as I was walking to pick her up. The hole wasn't that deep, but she's still small. That was the end of climbing on stumps for today.

 Torben felt on top of the world, climbing to the tops of these hills. You really could see for miles!

 Here, me and all three kids discus how it's fun to be on top of the hills, but they need to be careful of the edges because the grass is slippery and wet and it's sort of a long way down. The one we're standing on had wooden stairs built into one side so visitors could climb to the top.
 Our kids, as well as several of the students, were really interested in testing their skills of climbing without the aid of steps, though.
 It was about 4:00 in the afternoon when we were here, so the sun was beginning to set. I love this picture of Torben looking out into the world.
 Well, my picture order got a little messed up here! But it was all the same day and it's difficult to move them around, so I'll just go with it. Here is Svea's chariot ride up the steps to that large museum. Jeff and Jakob picked up the stroller and carried her. She thought that was fantastic!
 The high school we visited was a Danish one, even though it's in Germany. Apparently this dining hall area is strictly a Danish invention -there are no such communal places in a typical German school. I thought it was interesting that there were a few random book cases attached to the walls. I'm not sure if they were there so kids could just pick up something to read if they were sitting there, or if it was some sort of exchange "take a book, leave a book" sort of thing, or what. There were only about three shelves, and this was the only one that was full. The cushions on the bench seats against the walls were interesting -there were poles bolted to the bricks, and the poles were threaded through pockets in the cushions, thus keeping them in place. Quite ingenious, really. It was a nice place to stop and eat for a little while.
 This was sort of an interesting fountain we encountered while we were trying to meander our way back to the walking street. The boys asked if it was a fish hatchery, and, really, it looks a lot like the salmon runs I remember from elementary school. Maybe that's where they got the idea. There were no fish it in now.
 I just loved the stone archways in this building. At the far end, just outside of the picture, was a little shop selling backpacks and bags. But on this end, it looks like it could be a tunnel to anywhere.
 We passed this church just at noon, and the bells rang loud and clear. There were also signs for a performance of Dvorak's Requiem coming soon.
 This sign made us laugh, to remember the conversation my mom had on the phone with some of the women from Mexico, when she mentioned over and over "Grande Fiesta!" We decided that "Bergfest" must be somewhat the same.
 Shortly before we left, we decided to walk into the mall rather than along the streets -the kids needed a bathroom before getting back on the bus- and came across the T.K. Maxx store. In Europe, apparently, it's TK rather than TJ -supposedly because there is another store with TJ as the beginning of the name and it would be too confusing- and it took most of my willpower to not go in. I did look through the windows, though. It looks just exactly the same as they do back home -even the stuff inside was the same. That made it a little easier, since I know my suitcases can't carry things from there, and I can most likely find the same things once I get home.

Anders really liked this waterwheel outside the mall.
This scarf was the only thing -other than our purchases at the "Everything for 1 Euro" store and a few postcards- we bought on our trip. I thought it was very pretty, and it was relatively inexpensive also. 
 And here we end the blog post about our trip with Torben climbing the hills once again. He's always been a climber!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Fall Fog

The sky gets lighter as the sun comes up, but this week is foggy, so we still don't see the sky during the day. Yesterday it was sort of a rain-fog. It wasn't raining, exactly, but your hair and jacket got wet if you were outside, and there were water drops on the pumpkins. Oh how Svea loves the pumpkins! She gets so excited every time she sees them! She starts pointing and kicking her feet and yelling "pumkin! pumkin!" For each one.

Last week we inadvertently got up a half-hour early one day because that was the time the kids woke up. We realized, though, that the morning went so much better and calmer when we had a little extra time. The boys even got to watch a little bit of Spiderman before they went to school! So we talked about it, and decided that we should set the alarm for that time every day so we had time to get dressed, eat breakfast, get ready for school, and still have a bit of time for relaxing. Even Torben agreed, and he's definitely not a morning person!

Monday after a weekend was a tough one for the new early-rise plan! But, thankfully, there is a light right next to the pillow where I sleep, so I turned it on immediately when the alarm went off, and then called "God morgen!" to the kids, then got up and turned their lights on as well. It worked out well; everyone felt more relaxed and we left the house even a little bit early! Hoorah!

I decided that this year I was going to actively participate in Nanowrimo, where you attempt to write a 50,000 word fiction novel in the 30 days of November. That's a lot, of course, but it averages out to 1,667 words per day and that's not too difficult for me most of the time. The challenge for me is that I typically have not written a lot of fiction. So coming up with a storyline and plot development will be tough. But I have some vague ideas and will see where the story takes me. On days one and two, I got to just over 4,000 words, so I'm ahead of the recommended average so far. Yahoo!

When we got to the school to pick up the boys, Torben was sitting alone on the tire swing. As soon as he saw us, he pulled off his boots, then his socks, and started to climb the poles again. He loves doing that! And I am glad he waits until we are there to watch rather than doing it on his own! I think maybe they're not allowed to do it during school time. That seems like a good rule. I looked across the yard and saw Anders careening toward us in a moon car, gaining speed because one of the teachers was pushing him. It's nice that they make even cleaning up into a game. Last week it was Torben's turn to ride in the moon car as Mark pushed it into the shed to put it away. Then Anders ran over to us and with twinkling eyes said we had to come inside to see something special. So we went. It is the start of a new unit, and they are studying the USA! They had painted flags -with 15 stripes instead of 13- and painted the letters U - S - A in red, white, and blue and hung them from the ceiling. We saw a chart where they had all written words they thought of when they thought of the USA. It's fun, for the boys to get to talk about where they are from with their new friends.
 For halloween, they had also made lots of pumpkins from orange paper, and ghosts out of thin foam, that were hanging from the various light fixtures and tree branches in the room. It's fun to see how the rooms are decorated throughout the year with the art work of the students. That's one of my favourite parts of young childrens' classrooms. They are always so vibrant and colourful.

Across the street from our house is another preschool, and the driveway to the parking lot is often vacant during the day -especially on weekends when the school is closed. So it is a perfect place for riding bikes and running around. The boys and I headed out there for a while while Svea was taking a nap. They thought it was fun to race each other down the (slight) slope of sidewalk.

We also stopped to look at the many varieties of rocks there are here. Some of them are truly fascinating to me-

They look like your standard rock on the outside, but the inside seems to be an entirely different kind. Almost like a gem that's been covered with a crust.

I also happened on this one, that looks remarkably like a toucan!
It is outside a school, so it's possible that at one point the red end was painted, rather than it being the natural colour of the stone. But it's a pretty good likeness nonetheless!

And when I picked up this one, there were two of the tiniest snails I've ever seen on the underside!

It's fun to take walks with the kids and see new kinds of nature. So much of the landscape looks similar to what we are used to, but then there are very big differences as well. And I love how much they are loving being outside! They spend hours outside every day at school. Many hours.

We learned on Monday when we took them to school and looked at the calendar, that the clown is coming to visit today...I am curious to see how they react to seeing her show a second time in about a week.

Twelfth Weekend

Our twelfth weekend (how is it twelve already!) didn't go quite as we planned. We were intending to go to Copenhagen to visit a friend of Jeff's who lives in the suburbs, and go into the city and do touristy things, like see the changing of the guard. Alas, Thursday in the middle of the night I woke up sick with the flu. So, that derailed our plans entirely. I stayed on the couch all day Friday and Jeff took care of getting the boys to and from school. Grandma Vickie had sent them some Halloween treat bags with stickers and candy and marshmallow ghosts to take to their school, so they brought those on Friday as well. That was fun -for them to be able to share with the kids, and for the other kids to get a treat of American candy. They don't eat nearly as much candy and sweets here as they seem to back home -typically, it seems, they get 100g of candy on Fridays for Disney Sjov, and that's generally it unless it's a special occasion. Our kids have had a bit more than that, and we typically choose popcorn for Disney Friday, but their candy consumption has been quite moderate for the most part. It's amazing (well, not really, if you think about it) how not having things present makes it so much less likely to indulge. They ask for candy sometimes, but when you don't have it in the house, and when the snacks in your house are carrots and cucumbers, or cinnamon hard tack, that's what they eat. And when they're gone, they ask for more...of those. That is the part I like, and that surprises me a little bit. They eat and enjoy the foods that are good for them, and then ask for more of those foods when they're gone, rather than asking for things that aren't as good for them.

Incidentally, there was a large "Christmas" party -yes, on Halloween- planned for this weekend at the højskole, so now Jeff was going to be able to attend that.

Friday we ate dinner at home, then got our jammies on and settled in for Disney Sjov. The game show that came on afterward wasn't the same as "Versus" that often comes on, and this one was too much talking and trivia to be fun for the boys, so they went to bed fairly early. I also went to bed about 8:30! It was glorious. On Saturday, the kids all slept in until after 7:30, and Jeff got up with them and they all went downstairs. Happy Halloween to me -I got to be the last one out of bed! The boys all walked over to the højskole to see what time brunch was this weekend, Jeff let Anders ride the bike and Torben rode the skooter alongside him. Schedule change again! It was breakfast and lunch this weekend. We had already eaten breakfast, so just planned to attend lunch.

For the Christmas party, which they had planned for the last weekend in October because it was the closest one to the holidays when people could still attend and not have other things going on, there were approximately 150 former students from the last five years who came back. They divided all the students -about 200 now, including the current ones- into four teams and had contests Harry Potter style. It was fun to see the dining room all decorated with their team crests, and the chicken wire pillars they made to keep track of points, and it was very fun to see the room so full of people.

We learned at lunch that supper was going to be a rather formal affair -jackets required- so decided then and there that the kids and I would eat dinner at home, and Jeff could go and enjoy the evening. The kids aren't quite at the age where a formal (long) dinner is very enjoyable -for them or us- so it seemed better this way. We went to the grocery store and said they could pick what they wanted us to eat, but then Anders was taking too long and not deciding anything, so I chose some of the gyro-marinated chicken we discovered shortly after we got here, and some fresh spinach fettuccini. Anders then decided on the pancakes -the ones just like we have for brunch. He wanted to have those with raspberry jam for dinner. So, Svea and I ate spinach fettuccine with olive oil, parmesan, and marinated chicken, Torben had a bit of that and a pancake, and Anders had a pancake with raspberry jam. It was delightful!

Jeff left just before 6 to go to dinner, then sent me a message at 6:15 saying that dinner had been moved to 7. At 9:15, I got another message saying they would be starting dessert "soon", and it was about 12:30 when he got home. The party was still going strong. When we went to brunch on Sunday at 11, some of the teachers told us the bar was finally closed just after 7am... we were awake already by the time the party ended! Incidentally, we were quite a bit more awake than the others who made it up for brunch, as well. It was apparently a very good "fest". They had turned part of the dining room area into a room for smashing pumpkins -it was Halloween afterall- and there were still remnants of that as we navigated the brunch tables.

The boys didn't really ask much about trick or treating this year. We had told them they don't really do that here for Halloween, but do something similar in February. Several people were dressed up, though, at various times. There were a few random trick or treaters on Saturday, but when we asked what the process was for that, no one seemed to really know -"there isn't really one"- and the kids seemed OK with that. We bought them each a small bag of gummy coins at the grocery store.