Thursday, January 28, 2016

Anders and Torben turn 6

This week, Anders and Torben turned 6 years old. It is hard to believe they are getting so big! The night before their birthday, we talked about resolutions and they came up with one each that they would focus on. Anders' resolution was to not get quite so angry about inconsequential things -he has a tendency to get upset very quickly about things that are only mild irritants. Torben's resolution was to be good about going to bed -he has a tendency to stall and come up with excuses for a long time, and get very hyper as soon as the words "get ready for bed" are spoken. Anders said I needed a resolution too, and that mine should be to run more. Probably a good idea, but I don't see it happening. Although "more" than nothing doesn't necessarily mean much, so maybe I could handle it. So far, Anders has gotten upset only once, and Torben has three nights straight of going to bed well. So, maybe we're on to something!

We started off their birthday morning with Kaj cupcakes. We got one for Svea too, because she's too little to understand that it wasn't her birthday too. The green stuff was sort of strange, but the strawberry frosting and cupcake underneath were delicious! And everyone loves to start off their birthday with a cupcake!

 The tradition here is that you put up flags for your birthday. Even on the calendar you put a flag sticker on a date for someone's birthday. So we bought a package of flags for them to put up in the house.

 Turns out the window bars are an excellent place to mount a flag! It made the living room look festive, too, so that was fun.
 At about 9:15am, their friends from preschool arrived...16 of them! It was cute watching all these kids try to get their boots and warm suits off in the entryway before coming into the house. Two teachers, Ane and Pia, came with them and stayed during the party.

 What was so amazing to us, was that the kids arrived, took off their outside warm clothes, and then came right in and started playing. They didn't need any direction from adults, and though we had some games that you might play at an "American" birthday party, they didn't seem to need them. We had set out perler beads and plates on both of the tables, and kids wandered in and out making different things, some played with Lego out on the porch, others found some toys in the toy room. The two teachers and Jeff and I sat down and had coffee! The kids played for a little over an hour, then we brought out bowls of carrots (about 4 pounds!) and cucumbers (4) and they devoured those while we were finishing up the lunch preparations.
 When it was time to eat, they all found a chair and we brought out tacos -Anders' favourite. They could assemble tacos themselves, mostly, and I don't think it's a typical food to eat here so that was fun also.
 They all sat so patiently while food was being set out and waited for help when they needed it for putting stuff in their tacos. It was calm and fun!
 One teacher and one birthday boy sat at each table, with several friends. They drank over a gallon of softvand -juice mixed with water.

 After they'd eaten tacos and cake, played, and sung the birthday song, it was time for the kids to go back to school. We thought this was a fun picture of all of them who came. The boys had such a fun time! And it seems all the kids like the field trip you get to take for someone's birthday, and getting to play with someone else's toys is always fun!
 And then the parade back to the school. It probably took them 10-15 minutes with all the kids. With my fitbit, I've counted that it's about 2,000 adult steps to the school and back, so it's really not very far away. Makes for a fun outing.
On their birthdays, the kids often stay at home the whole day, so the boys opted not to go back with their friends in the afternoon. Instead, we stayed here and played with more beads (so many perler beads! They got about 15,000 more beads for their birthday!). They also got some mini canvases to paint, and Anders got a hedgehog clock to paint, and Torben got a foamcore dumptruck, so we brought out the paints they got for Christmas and they played with those also.

We went to the folk school for dinner, and they sang them the birthday song there too. We couldn't get them to stand up on their chairs like you're supposed to do, but they enjoyed having the song anyway.

All in all, they had a fun birthday.

We all seem to have a bit of a cold now, and that night Torben was awake for about 90 minutes in the middle of the night (consequently, so was I), so I decided to let them stay home the next day as well. Torben slept until 9:15! Anders and Svea slept until about 8, and we all pretty much relaxed on the couch for most of the day. Sometimes, you just have to give your body a rest. We figured out how to use one of my hair clips as a substitute mini screwdriver to finally put together the Doodle Robot that Torben got for Anders for Christmas, so the boys played with that while Svea was sleeping. It's pretty cool! They are excited that this week is "bring a toy" day at school, so they can bring it with them tomorrow.

Today they both made sure to go to school, because it is their turn to go swimming. Though they are a bit sad that they don't get to play outside on swimming days, they love that they don't have to do any of the cleaning up either! We had a dozen of the students from Jeff's floor here for breakfast this morning. That's always a bit chaotic when we're trying to get the kids off to school, but it was a fun time. The kitchen prepares rolls, and we brought eggs here to cook, and brought over coffee and all the plates and utensils. Jeff (all the teachers, actually) goes to the floor and starts knocking on doors at 7:15 to wake the students up, yelling "breakfast at Jeff's in 15 minutes!" or something equivalent, in Danish of course, and the students all get dressed and head over to a teacher's house for surprise breakfast. There's not much talking when they come for breakfast; I think most of them would prefer to be sleeping still.

Svea has started walking to the folk school for some of the meals. She is so proud of herself for being a big girl! She talks the whole time, "I walkin!" and "I big girl!" and the days when it was just her and I on our way to meet Jeff, she kept calling "Daddy! I comin! I walkin!" which was pretty fun.

Jeff asked me last night what's on the list of things/activities I want to accomplish while we're here. I probably better think thoroughly about that. Though we're just past half-way through our trip, the spring is coming and time is going to go by very quickly, and before we know it we will be on our way back home. We have visitors planned for April -at least two different visits-, May, and June, plus we have our makeup trip to Copenhagen from the fall. Jeff gave a talk last week at the church here in town, and as a thank-you gift they gave him tickets for all of us to go to Legoland! What a fun surprise! We were planning to go at least once, once it opens again in the spring. There is an option on the tickets to upgrade them to a season pass for less than the cost of a single ticket, so we are going to do that, and that way we can go several times. We know the grandparents will want to go with them, and if we have season passes, we can go for just a short time sometimes as well. It's about 45 minutes or an hour from here, so, not too bad. The kids don't know yet about that part, so it will be a fun surprise for them.

Though we are all missing various aspects of home from time to time, this has been an amazing trip so far for us. The boys especially are having a great experience with their school - play and learning the Danish language. Svea is at a really fun age for being home with her, and I'm enjoying having time off to pursue hobbies and read. Jeff is having fun being immersed in the folk school experience, and it's neat that the two semesters are so different with there being twice as many kids here this spring as there were in the fall.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Twenty-fourth weekend

We woke up Saturday morning to about 4 more inches of snow. It was so beautiful! The temperature was quite a bit warmer, too, so it wasn't too difficult to convince the boys to go outside to play in it. By the afternoon, it was almost 40 degrees, and so by Sunday most of the snow was gone again. There were no discussions about bringing sleds to school today! Everything is wet mud now. But it's so much warmer. It was so cold last week, that a few times I even got Svea to wear a hat, coat, and mittens at the same time!
 I also spent some time over the weekend making a hat for her. I was following a pattern for a hat with pigtails and bangs, but somehow made a mistake around row 6, so it wasn't going to work out. So I adapted it and made this one instead. I think it's pretty cute. She likes it, but also doesn't like to wear it.
 She is turning into our little fashionista! She picked out her own clothes, the long-underwear shirt with flowers, hearts, and owls, together with the blue skirt with pink polka dots. She also had leggings on, but while she was running around, they got cuffed up around her knees. She loves pictures, and will stand still -albeit briefly- to get a picture taken. You have to be fast, though, because she wants to see the picture immediately and will start walking toward the camera as soon as she thinks you've taken it.
 While the boys were getting ready for school this morning, she thought she should too. So she got her shoes on, and found her backpack and was all ready for more pictures. I can't believe how big she's getting! She has started screaming a lot when she doesn't get her way, so we're hoping that phase doesn't last very long. It's pretty hard on the ears. High-pitched, shrill, just does it to be annoying.

Jeff was the on-duty teacher this weekend, so we had to stick around in case any issues arose, and also had to be at all the meals. It was a "blue" weekend, so the students could go home if they wanted to, or they could stay here. About 1/3 left, so there were still lots of people. We didn't know that this semester, when there are this many students, there is a full time kitchen staff on weekends as well! Last fall, on the weekends Jeff was on duty, he had to go make sure all the food got made as well. This time, he just had to make sure the students who were supposed to help in the kitchen showed up. The weekend planning committee had decided this weekend would be their "gender bender" theme... It was interesting trying to explain that to our kids. Saturday night, dinner was a bit late, and when we got there the boys said "it's a fancy dinner!" Since we don't usually go to fancy dinners, they were slightly concerned. I told them it wasn't, and they said "but everyone is dressed up!" and indeed they were...all the girls were wearing clothes to look like "men" and the boys were wearing clothes to look like "women" -and I use both of those terms in quotes because their ideas were somewhat interesting. We were discussing with a couple of other teachers during dinner that it's interesting to see how the concept of gender plays out. There weren't any "classy" people, either male or female. We decided that it must be that if they dressed classy, they'd have to act classy too, and that wasn't what they were particularly interested in this weekend. Svea thought it was fun because there was music and people were being silly and loud. The boys were a bit confused, and did quite a bit of laughing. The dinner itself was amazing. We had baked chicken with something like cayenne on it -though not quite as spicy-; tomato, feta, and red onion salad; roasted potatoes; green salad. All delicious. Then they had a catwalk for the best costumes. The kids thought it was too loud in there, so we went home shortly after that.

Friday afternoon, Jeff picked the boys up from school and they went sledding for a bit at the hill across the street. I didn't get any pictures of them this time, though! They haven't wanted to be quite so photogenic this week, I guess.

Tomorrow Anders and Torben will be 6! Time goes by so fast! They are so excited for their birthday party, and spent the whole weekend trying to convince us that when it's your birthday, you get to stay at home until your friends come over from the preschool. Turns out that that is quite common...and whether they go back after the party is up to them. We'll see what they want to do. There will be 20 people coming for lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


The kids must all have sung the snow song again, because Monday night we got a few inches and woke up to the fabulous swirling of still-falling snow in the wind. The just-before-sunrise time seems to be perfect light for photos of the snow, plus it hasn't yet been walked on much or started to melt so it's very serene and beautiful. Jeff went over to the folk school while I walked the boys to school so we could get a couple of pictures. They don't get much snow here, so you have to really take advantage of it when it's here.
 I love this image walking up to the kids' school. Each morning, it's just a little bit lighter (plus, we are a bit later...but that's a whole other issue) but I love the look of the lights glowing out the windows while the sky is still semi-dark. It just feels comforting. Torben was playing in the snow on the picnic table, and Anders was running into the school. So, it was a pretty typical morning arrival.

We didn't realize that the preschool kids often brought sleds to school when it's snowy like this, so the boys were quite sad when we got there and there were many sleds lined up against the wall outside. Anders didn't even want to stay at school he was so upset. But, Jeff saved the day! He went home and brought back two sleds before it was time to play outside, and they had a blast playing with their friends and sledding down the hills. It's hard to believe how much speed you can build up from that small hill you see below the windows in that picture above. Torben went half-way across the field!

Coming up in February is Fastelavn. I haven't quite figured out what the holiday is, but it is quite a bit deal around here. There are special "boller" (buns) they make; we saw some at the bakery yesterday and there were different varieties, some with nuts, some filled with cream, some just plain, others with chocolate. Another excuse to eat a delicious pastry, I guess! The children all dress up in costumes for this, just like at Halloween. I was a bit concerned that if we waited too long to find something for the kids, they'd miss getting costumes and I didn't want that. I could already feel the mommy guilt about them missing out on something, when they (a) are more than two weeks out from the festival, (b) had no idea what Fastelavn even was or even that there was a festival coming up, and (c) hadn't looked for costumes yet to know whether they'd have them. Sigh. So while the boys were at school yesterday, Jeff and Svea and I went to the recycle shop where there were several racks of costumes, all for 10Kr each! We found a superhero (one of the Avengers, I's yellow and blue), and a ninja, plus a Winnie the Pooh for Svea, complete with suit and hat. All for about $4 or $5. And now the kids are set. We are going to go to the festival at the rec center, where the kids also get a bag of candy and there are games and such. We haven't yet figured out if there is door-to-door candy-asking for this, but I guess we have a little while to find out.

My writing has to be short today. I spent the morning looking up other things, like the application for teaching at WIU again this fall in addition to my regular job, and finding out my interest payments for the 2015 year for my student loans, in preparation for doing our taxes. Then worked a bit on getting some presents ready for the boys' birthday next week. Hard to believe they will be 6!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Twenty-third weekend - Midpoint

This past weekend was our twenty-third here...and the midpoint of our trip. It's gone by so quickly already! It really sounds like a lot when you say it's been "twenty-three weekends". It's amazing how much the kids have learned so far -and even I have learned some. Last week some kids came over to play with the boys, and I was able to ask them, in Danish, if they wanted half a pancake as well. We weren't sure when they were coming, and I had just finished making the last two pancakes for the boys when they knocked on the door, so, we cut them in half. It was funny, actually, I asked in Danish if they wanted half a pancake, and the little girl answered in English, "yes, please." She's working on her English, and probably is better than I am at Danish. But oh well. I was proud of myself for knowing an entire sentence that was actually necessary at the time. This morning at the boys' school, I read the whiteboard of the activities they have planned for the week, and I knew what they all said. So, though it's slow, I am making progress with the language. It's phenomenal how much the boys know. Jeff is shocked, often, at the sentences they come up with and how they are using verbs in correct tense, and know words that it wouldn't seem likely a preschooler would know. They "argue" with him back and forth about why they do or don't want to do something, and provide very justified answers in Danish. It's really fun to listen to! And when they are playing, just the two of them, they talk to each other in Danish most of the time as well. Svea has picked up some words, but since she spends most of the day with me, mostly she speaks in English. She does seem to have mastered "nej" and we laugh when she says "ooooooh......nej" when something is going to happen. She also knows "kartoffler" -potato- but most of her food words are in English.

The sun has been bright the last couple of days, but it's quite cold out, so the kids haven't really wanted to play outside. They're also getting bored being inside, though, so it's sort of a difficult time in that respect. We went to the store this weekend, and the boys used their own money to buy some more Lego sets, so they have been playing with those and having fun too. I'm looking forward to spring when it's a bit warmer and the sun shines more of the day. It's very hard to get up in the morning and get moving. I'm sure I've written that several times now this winter! It is clear that it's brighter than it was a few weeks ago, and the sky is still light-ish at about 5 now, rather than being nighttime dark at 4. The planner I bought when we got here actually shows the sunrise and sunset times on Wednesday of each week so it's easy to keep track. This week the sunrise is 8:25 and sunset is week you get ten minutes on each side. By Svea's birthday in the beginning of March, the sunrise is 6:23 and the sunset is 6:14! So it happens fast.

The boys are getting very excited for their birthday party next Tuesday. Each morning they wake up and verify how many days it is until they are 6. Anders says "I'm really 6 already" since it's so close now. We bought balloons and Danish flags for their party when we were at the store this weekend. So now we just have to come up with what to feed them all. We are thinking taco boats might be fun.

We have quite a few visitors planned for the spring, so it's fun to talk with all of them and figure out the schedules of who's coming! Once April starts, the rest of our time here is just going to fly by, with visitors more of the time than not during those last three months. We are also trying to work out our trip to Copenhagen that we need to make up from when I was sick the time we were supposed to go in the fall. The boys are very excited about Copenhagen -partly because we will get to take a train when we're there. So, lots of fun things to look forward to during the second half of our stay!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Dining with Friends

We eat almost all of our meals communally in the dining hall, which is fun. This week the boys decided it would be nice to sit in a different spot -rather than our end of the "staff" table, they wanted to sit with the new students. There are a lot more staff and more than twice as many students as there were last fall, so the dining room is much fuller this time around. It's kind of fun when there are that many people.

Tuesday morning this week there was another morgen kaffe at the Friskole, so Svea and I stopped by that for a few minutes when we got the boys to school. Jeff was doing a talk at the folk school, so he wasn't able to come with us, and I didn't understand that the boys were invited to eat bread with us so they played with their friends instead. It's sort of an open, come-when-you-can time, for two hours one morning so parents can stop in before they head to work. Kind of nice. Most of the parents speak some English, so I can talk to them. I try to follow the conversations in Danish, but only catch a few of the words when they are speaking quickly, so I have a hard time following. A picture of Svea and me made it onto the Facebook page for the Friskole, though, which was fun.

The new group of students for the spring arrived over the weekend, so there have been lots of activities for them getting to know each other. Last night we had thirteen of them over for dinner. We had thought there might be twenty, and were wondering where we might put them all! The idea of this dinner is for the students to make at least part of it, and work together and get to know one another as well. There were a lot of people in the kitchen! We made pesto pasta and baked chicken, with cheesy garlic bread and salad. The chef here at the folk school makes an amazing pesto sauce so we had asked for that again this time around. He said pine nuts have gotten very expensive here, so he makes it with either pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, and mixes in parsley with the basil, and uses very high quality parmesan cheese and oil. It is so delicious! I think we will need to get the precise recipe before we go home. The students assigned to cut vegetables for salad were very meticulous about it, and we ended up with a fabulous chopped salad with every piece the same size. There was quite a bit leftover, but not enough to send back to the kitchen for the 100+ people that eat meals together, so I kept it here and put some of it in my eggs this morning. We had also sauteed some peppers and onions to put in the pasta, so I added some of those leftovers to my eggs as well. Mostly I had hot salad, with a bit of eggs. But it sure was good! Svea, who will usually eat anything, has started an "I don't yike it" phase, and she wouldn't try them. Probably a few weeks ago she would have. 

It's obvious to see, now, that the days are getting longer again. It's still dark for a long time, but last night at 5:15, the sky was still turquoise where the sun was setting rather than nighttime dark so that is a definite improvement. And it was just about light when we left to take the kids to school in the morning. It's still pretty difficult to get up when it's super dark out, and we've been a bit slower to get moving in the morning because it feels like it's still night -plus we have been staying up too late. But, being this far north means that the minutes added to the beginning and ending of daylight each day accrue quickly, more than the one minute on either side like at home. So that makes it go by faster.

It's been hovering in the + and - 3 degrees Celsius range for several days, so we've had a bit of snow, and then rain, and this morning there is ice. Torben slipped while trying to run to school, so we've had to remind the boys that right now is not such a good time for running outside -especially in the not-quite-light of the morning. The sun has risen now, as I write, and though there are lots of clouds, they're bright and it feels like a sunny day. The weather is interesting, here. You can see and smell snow, and the air is cold to breathe and smells crisp, but also smells of wet dirt and new grass. So you're constantly wondering whether it's fall, winter, or spring. I think many of the plants are confused as well, because there are buds on some of them, and grass seems to be growing in many places, but other things look forlorn like it's the middle of winter.

The boys are getting very excited to have their friends come for their birthday in a couple of weeks. They've been talking about it a lot at school, too, apparently because one of the teachers asked me about it the other morning, and mentioned they were very excited. We are still trying to figure out what to serve them for that. Often they will bring a small lunch, but we inadvertently told them they didn't have to bring any, so we will have to think of something! I remember the boys being very excited when they had sword toothpicks with various bite sized foods on them, so maybe that would be a good idea. It needs to be reasonably healthy, and I think there are fifteen little kids coming! We invited the blue and green groups (roughly, the 5 and 4 year olds, respectively) so their friend Rolf could come, and it turns out he will be on vacation that day. Ah well. They will have fun!

There is often a campfire in the afternoon once a week at the Friskole when the weather permits it (there is very little weather that would render it not possible, apparently), and yesterday the boys had another one. They ate some sort of soup. I couldn't get the whole, real story of the soup because they didn't agree on what it was. They were trying to tell my dad, and we decided that with them, you never get the whole story, but you might get three halves! It was orange soup (evidence all over Torben's face) and there were peas in it for sure. Torben is sure there were green beans in it, too, but Anders says no. Anders had two bowls, and Torben claims he and Emilia had eight! They could eat as much as they wanted until it was gone, but I still find it hard to believe he ate eight servings of soup. He had his lunch box open and was eating when I got there to pick them up, too. All three of the kids seem to be gearing up to grow again, they eat all the time!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lots of Reading Time

I've finished reading two more books this week, which is fun. It's better to read than to sit and play candy crush, I suppose. Though that is pretty fun also. Hopefully I can get back into my writing habit now, too, that things seem to be back to a regular pattern again. It was sort of a mess there for all of November and December! I did lots of writing in November, trying to get that nanowrimo project completed, but then not much other writing, and by December I was out of the habit so it was hard to get going again. The new year didn't work as far as getting started with new things. I've never really been big on making resolutions to start in January anyway. I figure if I think of a good idea to make a change, best to just start it then rather than waiting until some arbitrary date. Finally today on the 11th of January I found an app for my phone that will let me access various Bible studies, so I am pretty excited about that. I forgot my Bible at home, and it's proven quite difficult to find an English one here (I would be able to handle French, too, but haven't seen one of those either).

I just remembered that in my post about starting the new year, I neglected to write about the amazing fireworks that rung in the new year here! Originally we were planning to go somewhere for the Christmas break with Murray and Vickie, but for various reasons that didn't work out and we decided to stay here instead. The fireworks went off on and off for about an entire week before New Years, at random times of the day and night. Sometimes we could see them, but mostly we heard them from time to time. Then, on New Year's Eve, there was a knock on the door. When Jeff opened it, several junior-high or high-school age kids were outside, and started lighting off fireworks in the driveway! Then, they just sort of stood there. Waiting. Apparently there is a tradition similar to trick-or-treating where they light off fireworks and you give them candy. We didn't know about this tradition, though, so we had no candy ready. Jeff gave them some coins -probably too much!- and that seemed to suffice. But we decided not to answer the door any more that day. It was kind of fun for the kids, though, to see fireworks right there in the driveway! In the afternoon, we went for a walk to show Vickie around town. Kids were all over the place knocking on doors and lighting fireworks. So it was kind of fun. Late in the afternoon, the fireworks started going in earnest, all over town. And as it got dark (which was afternoon), the kids were really enjoying running to the windows to see if they could find them. Svea would hear one and yell "quick! quick! pretty!" or "oooh! more pretty!" every time. It was so fun to see their excitement!

There was a shortcourse at the folk school over New Year's, and they were going to have a mini fireworks display at 10:30 for any of them that didn't think they could stay up until midnight. So we decided to let the kids stay up for that, and we walked over there just after 10. No one was out, so we walked around looking for where they might be, and came upon lots of fireworks going off all over town. The short course folks were dancing, so the fireworks were delayed. Then they wanted to have dessert. So the fireworks were cancelled since they were going to have the big display at midnight. The boys were disappointed, but on our walk home we passed a group of kids who had several big ones and they got to see those up close, so they were glad about that. Then they all went to bed, but Svea was so not interested in sleeping. Every time there was a boom (every 40 seconds or so), she would sit up and yell "quick! quick! pretty!" so we got her up again. No point trying to force a toddler to sleep through that. The boys were exhausted, though, and fell fast asleep very quickly. Just before midnight, we tried to turn on the tv online to watch the countdown, but it wouldn't load because everyone in Denmark was trying to watch the countdown online. Then we heard a lot of fireworks -ah, it must be midnight- so instead we went to the front door and looked outside. They were everywhere! Svea got a bit scared by the noise, so we went to the porch and looked out those windows. Then we went upstairs to the window in the boys room -I thought I heard them awake, and wanted them to see the fireworks if they were- and it was the most amazing display I've seen in a long time (aside from the Festival of Fire on the barges in Canada. That couldn't be topped.) Everywhere you looked, there were huge fireworks going off. We tried several times to wake the boys up, and even though Svea was in their room yelling "oooh! Pretty!" "oooh! more pretty!" over and over again, they slept soundly through it. At one point, Torben was sort of awake so I lifted him up to the door so he could watch, and he said "what are you doing mom?" so sleepily that I just put him back in his bed and he was fast asleep once again. Unfortunately, the boys missed it. And I kept thinking it was going to be done soon, so I didn't get my camera out. But the show lasted a good 40 minutes! Constant fireworks, 360 degrees around town, for 40 minutes. It was so fun! There were a few renegades after that, but by 1am most of it had settled down and people had gone inside for the rest of their parties.

Starting the New Year

Jeff's mom arrived on December 30 to surprise the kids with a visit. It was fun watching their very confused expressions when she knocked on the door! Anders opened it first, and looked very curious about how it could be that Grandma was here looking at him, and he got a bit shy before being excited. Torben was in the bathroom, so she got to surprise him when he came out. He was equally confused before he was excited. And Svea was sleeping, so Grandma got to surprise her when she woke up. It was really fun.
 Up until this first week of January, it's been quite mild weather-wise, and the kids have been playing outside. Torben and Anders always ask to go out and ride the bikes. Right now, the second bike has a flat tire, so Torben rides the tricycle. He seems to think it's fun. And he couldn't find the other kids helmet, so he's wearing the riding helmet. Makes for some goofy pictures!

 Anders is really getting good at riding a 2-wheeler. He has such a good time with it, too, and rides at school whenever he can.

 The three of them really play together well, even if they did bring all the kitchen pans out to play restaurant. There were lots of "cooked" apples and carrots over the break.
If anyone who knows how to play chess tried to play it with the boys, they would probably be utterly confused. There is an unwritten-yet-agreed-upon-and-also-constantly-changing set of rules the boys came up with, and they had quite a fun time with it.
My parents sent a few "prizes" for Christmas, so the kids all had something to open. Jeff and I each got one too, though somehow the pants, which should have been Jeff's size, were very massive. The boys each fit in one leg and decided to try to hop out to the livingroom. I think there was still some space left in the pants, too. I got a new pickle t-shirt, which is excellent because I'm pretty sure I had to get rid of my old one before we came, as it was showing its years of love.
Since our Christmas Eve attempt at taking a nice family picture, Svea has really taken to the camera. She will say "picture! picture!" or "quick! quick!" and get the stepstool and put it in the doorway, and sit for a picture. If we don't have the camera out, she will either wait or come take our hand to bring us to where the camera is so we can take her picture.
I like this one of the three of them being sort of goofy. Torben's wearing Jeff's new sweatpants again, pulled up like a jumpsuit.
This picture makes me smile. Aside from the orange face (was it pizza sauce? spaghetti? don't remember, but she'd run away before I could wash it), this photo sort of looks to me like a hair commercial from the 1970s.
"Picture! Picture!" she says. Almost daily.
Love the grins on these two. Svea loves her daddy!
Torben is just a fun-loving kid. I don't remember what he was laughing about here, but he was really having a good time.

The boys decided to go outside and play a few times (maybe not enough times!) over break. This day, they made a firepit out of a metal bowl and some dirt, and then roasted marshmallows (made of styrofoam pieces that came with the pez in their stockings, I later learned). They can be quite creative when left to their own devices!
Svea got a new Elmo book, as well as mini Elmo and Big Bird toys from Grandma Vickie, so she was showing off her book. "Picture!"
It gets tiring waiting for your brothers all the time, and a little girl sometimes just needs to put her head down.
The first week of January, one set of Jeff's hostparents from when he lived here 20 years ago came to visit. Per and Jytte are a delightful couple and we had a lot of fun having dinner with them.

The boys went back to school on January 4, and were very glad to see their friends again. We tried to have some visits over the break, but it didn't work out, so it had been almost three weeks since they'd seen anyone.
On the 5th, Vickie, Jeff, Svea, and I went to Ribe even though it was quite cold out. We didn't realize exactly how cold until we got there, though! Jeff found a coupon online for Burger King, and we were able to get four meals for about $20...a definite bargain here! It's only the second time we have had fast food, and the third (fourth for me, since I went for sushi) time we've eaten out since we've been here. Svea loved being a big girl, sitting in a big girl chair and eating a cheeseburger. I can't believe how much she's growing!

We went to the Dom Kirke -Cathedral- to look around. It's absolutely gorgeous!

Jeff and Vickie also climbed the tower to look out over Ribe. I decided that climbing hundreds-year-old steps while carrying Svea didn't sound like that fun of an idea, so we stayed down at the bottom. There were 248 stairs, differing heights and widths. They said it was probably could I didn't try to navigate them. Despite the ferocious wind, the view was breathtaking.

 Jeff and Vickie took their first selfie up here.

 The sun was already this low in the sky, and it was about noon. They aren't kidding around about short winter days here!

Due to the wind being so strong and cold, we walked over to see the Jacob Riis house that Jeff had been trying to find in Ribe, and then we went home. It was just too cold that day for site seeing.
Wednesday was Vickie's last day here, so she took Jeff and Svea and I to lunch at the Burger Barn outside the ABC before we did our grocery shopping. It gets expensive to eat here when the folkschool is closed! The new kids arrive this weekend, so the kitchen will be open again. Whew!

Torben lost his third front tooth this week. Three in a row across the bottom. It was loose for over a week before it finally came out when Jeff pulled it. Torben decided he didn't want it to fall out in in sleep and he might accidentally swallow it. He still has not put any of his teeth under his pillow for the tooth fairy. Must be holding out for one big present! Anders has not put his under his pillow either, but at present they are misplaced in a closet at home, so it will be a while. He talked about writing a nice note to the tooth fairy explaining that his teeth got misplaced and would she please have pity on him. So we'll see how that goes.

Last Thursday at school, the kids all sang a song to bring snow. It was fun to hear all the stories of kids who said "it worked!" when they woke up Friday morning to a blanket of a few inches of powdery white. It looks so beautiful! At school they got to make snowmen and sled down the hill and had a great time enjoying the winter weather that finally arrived.

We wanted to try to get a family picture outside of the folkschool building. It took a few tries...the name above the door on the big white building in back is quite high, so getting us in focus and still being able to read it was a challenge. I like this one, though. Maybe if we crop it a bit it will turn out perfectly.