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!

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