Friday, August 31, 2012

far and fire

i received my three novellas for class today.  i started reading one called 'far'-- 'dad' in english.  so far it's about a guy named henrik, who i can only assume will be the far in the story.  he's studying to be a doctor.  he's a bad cook.  he's got an exam coming up in two weeks and his girlfriend marie isn't too happy they won't be seeing each other until after it's over.  you sense discord when she asks him if the exam is more important than she is and he doesn't answer, but you know these people are going to end up with a kid in common.  oh boy.

i actually love the idea (and the reality) that we get to read books for class.  before today i felt like books, real books (even if they are written at a third grade level), weren't something i could do yet.  but i can, even though in reading 'far' i am also simultaneously reading my dansk-engelsk dictionary.  it is a pretty painful process to watch and to think i'm going to get through three of these books in the next two weeks feels dubious.  still though, it has me "excited about learning"-- though not excited about the exam.

after a repeat dinner of scrambled eggs and kale, greg made a fire outside, with william and henry's help...

and careful observation...

and i noticed these little tomatillo-like fellows, but i'm not sure what the plant is.  any ideas?

later, the first fire in the fireplace...

william's been very excited about this, but unfortunately it was made after the guys were asleep, because greg took a burning log from the fire outside and brought it into the house via a ceramic pot.  there are just some things you don't want your children to emulate.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

apple chicken snail adventures

i needed to buy a cd player today so that i didn't go to class tomorrow saying that, once again (okay twice now), i hadn't really done the homework because i had no way to listen to the cds.

it was too early for the stores to be open, but i rode down the pedestrian street looking for the apple store i knew was there.  i couldn't find it.  had i imagined it?  some other pedestrian street in some other town maybe?  i took a long and confusing way to one of the big grocery chains, near the bus station, sure that if nothing else, i could get a cd player there.  but when i got there and looked at what they had and the prices they offered for them, i couldn't justify the expense.  the plugs and outlets are different here.  the only things we brought over that needed to be plugged in were our computers, and i can't imagine bringing anything more back, though by now we've accumulated lamps, a hair dryer, an iron, and an electric kettle.  still, i don't need to add 'cd player' to that list.

so i left the store and searched on my smurf phone (oh yeah, and smurf phone chargers) for an apple store in roskilde.  sure enough, it was listed on the pedestrian street.  so i went back, and this time i found the little, silver, unobtrusive apple symbol, on a building near the beginning of the street, hardly before you'd have a chance to keep your eyes out for it.  but at that point it's still not ten, so i park my bike and look to see if the coffee shop with the best desserts is open.  it's not-- until ten.  so i walk to a bakery and ask for a kanel snegl.  a cinnamon snail.  basically, a danish.  over-the-top sweet without a cup of coffee to give the taste buds something else to focus on, but i finish the entire thing against my better judgment.  i wait for the store to open.  at ten i decide to first go into my phone company's store to have them tell me to go back to katie's cell phone company's store in order to try to solve the mystery of why my phone cannot communicate with hers.  i go back to hers (we'd been there together yesterday).

"they sent me back to you.  should i just give up?"

"no, no, you shouldn't give up," said the store clerk, whose looks makes me think he'd be happier touring around with a punk band than working in a cell phone store with the same coldplay songs repeating each day.  "but i don't know what the solution is.  and so we have to make a case to our technicians.  either i can do that or you can do that." and in the way he goes on i realize he would rather have me make the case than him.  so i agree.  i'll go online, relieve him of this mystery.  see if the technicians have anything to say about it.

i go over to the apple store, i buy an external cd player for as much as the most expensive cd player offered at the grocery store, but here at least it will feel more useful being attached to a piece of technology we already use on a regular basis.

on my way home i witness the undramatic aftermath of a fender bender between a motorized chair and a van.  i contemplate picking the guys up early to meet greg at the airport.  when i get home i look at the train and bus schedules.  i'd risk waking henry up from his nap.  i'd cut short my danish studies (i'm to give a short presentation tomorrow, which i haven't prepared).  but... how much more fun would it be for all of us if we were there when he's getting off the plane?

in the end, i decide to do it.  i like the idea of an adventure more than the idea of sitting in one place.  like when i rode around this morning getting lost and discovering new parts of town, and thinking, 'if only this were some other town, not the one i already live in... it would be that much more exciting.'

i got the guys, much earlier than i needed to, but thankfully henry was already up from his nap. we were 30 minutes early for the bus, but the bus was two minutes late to the train station. i watched the clock as we sat in traffic a block away from the station thinking, 'now we have three minutes to catch our train.... now we have two.'  we ran into the station, henry on my back, to see which track it left from, then ran down the stairs, then up, to track six.  the train was still there, but the doors were closed.  i pushed the button to open one, but no luck. it slowly began moving on down the tracks, without us in it.  then i felt a warmth on my lower back and realized henry was peeing, somehow through his diaper, onto me.  william was waving his hand over the sensor of the glowing blue 'check in' bollard over and over.  "chicken! chicken!" he yelled.

adventure.  yes.

but we made it to the airport in time to see greg walk out of the terminal and to wave our danish flags at him.  adventure.  yes.

we ate hamburgers in copenhagen and took a train and bus home.  the pictures i managed to take of our adventure are not uploading for some reason, but you can imagine a little paper danish flag in the hands of a little boy going down an escalator with his dad... that same boy drinking a glass of milk poured by someone who probably doesn't have children to know how much milk is safe to put in a glass given to a child (though actually he did drink all however many large number of ounces he received, and no spills)... another of two little ones and their dad looking out the train window... and me, wearing a long, maroon skirt-- my gift from mexico.

and now?  now i have to work on my presentation for tomorrow, while all adventurers sleep.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

sunglasses, handprints, novellas, desserts, kale, planes, trains, and automobiles

got the guys off to school.  here... these make me smile...

then, vacuumed up while katie graciously cleaned greasy handprints from windows.  i suppose i could have kept the old lentils and other scruff on the floor, as well as the handprints on the glass, to make the house that much less appealing to the eye, but even when it means a person might buy a house right out from under you, you still sort of want to make a good impression.

then katie and i headed into town, walked around the pedestrian street.  we went into a bookstore and i bought a danish-english (and vice versa) dictionary.  google translate is just too unpredictable and part of the requirements for my new class-- and well, for the test in two weeks, is to read three "short" danish books (i would call them novellas).

after, we had lunch at the coffee shop with the best desserts, and so, of course, we had dessert as well, and talked about our shared experience living in denmark.

in the afternoon we picked up the guys.  katie went back to copenhagen.  william, henry, and i had scrambled eggs and kale for dinner, and amazingly they both ate up all of their kale, happily.

tomorrow night, as long as three planes, a train, and a bus all head out on time, we should have greg home for dinner.  he's already begun his journey.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


i will always do this until i'm no longer sleep deprived, and i'm too tired to work out an equation as to when that might be...

i get the time screwed up.

i have 8:30 in my head. something needs to happen by 8:30 on the days of my new class.  without thinking, i am confident that i must leave the house, absolutely no later than 8:30... until i find myself leaving the house at 8:38 and i suddenly do the math and realize i have 22 minutes to cycle to the guys' school, pry henry from me, as he is now no longer happy to see me go after a week of vacation, give a quick, yet caring goodbye to william, get across town, park my bike, walk into the building and up the stairs, into my classroom, waiting like a good student for class to begin at 9 a.m.

as i'm prying henry from me at 8:55, i'm confident i will be late.

i bike quickly.

i see a guy ahead of me turn into a pedestrian entrance to a parking lot, from the sidewalk, something another bicyclist had done yesterday.  "there must be a trick," i thought.  "they're cutting the corner.  i'll do it too."

but from the bike path to the sidewalk there is a little curb.  i'm going fast and i don't turn my tire as much as i should and so the right side of me is suddenly in an intimate meeting with the sidewalk.  my first bike spill, six months in.  i get up quickly. i'm still in a hurry.  i think that my fall must be eons better than going over the handlebars or meeting a car or both.  the only injury being a large scrape under my right elbow.

i arrive at class at 9:07.


here is something else i repeat...

"the owner's trying to sell it, but i don't think he's trying to actively sell it.  there's no sign out front.  i don't think the realtor is going to hold regular open houses or anything."

this is something i tell katie (houseguest!) today.

two hours later i'm on the phone... "this is blah blah blah, the realtor... i'm wondering if i can show the house to someone tomorrow at 11."

he comes to pick up the key.  "well," i say.  "i hope they like it... but not so much that they want to buy it... we just moved in... cleaned and painted the whole thing... can tell them it's new paint," i say as i hand him the key.

as much as i had to be dragged into this house, i can't fathom moving out right now.  how would it all work?  too tired to figure it out.

i'll go to bed and think about it tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2012


there was a long stretch this morning... actually the 5.8 kilometers it takes to get from the language school to home... and for a few hours after that... that i felt like it might as well have been day one in denmark.  bordering on overwhelmed.  new class.  new teacher. new books.  classmates far ahead of me in their danish skills.  the first test two weeks from now... apparently all oral... the weakest link in my floundering abilities.  and the cold, penetrating my fleece.

despite my need to catch up quick, i found ways to put off doing my homework for the few hours i was back at home before picking up the guys, which leaves me with right now to try to get some of tomorrow's homework done.  the other stuff requires listening to a cd... something i have no means to do until i can go out and buy a cd player.

so, i'll try to turn my brain back on, at least for a little while, and work on danish.  but i'll leave you with some pictures from dinner... where both i and the salad and lentils were powerless to keep the guys at the table...

yes... unfortunately, he walked into the table.  no... it really didn't bother him.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


i made some false assumptions today...

... that burritos wouldn't be a messy meal.

... that i could let a one and a half year old walk around with a cup of milk and not end up with milk in between the drawers of the refrigerator.

... that a little boy who indicated he was tired at 7 would take less than an hour and half to finally fall asleep.

... that a bigger boy would clean up all his toys with as much zeal as he did last night when ice cream was part of the equation.

but i also didn't assume some very fine things...

... like that we'd get to skype with greg three times (thrice!)... once to keep william company while henry napped and i showered... once while i attempted to get those ultimately sloppy burritos made.

... that some old neighbors would stop by to pick up some borrowed items and stay for coffee and tea and hot chocolate.

... that henry and william would have so many successful, independent moments, playing well together, while i did whatever it was i thought needed to be done to keep the house in roughly one piece.

w, h, and a random pair of superhero underwear 
but of course, there were plenty of these moments as well...

now, two sleepers later, and it's time for me to figure out how to get to the language school tomorrow and to study up a bit so i don't feel as completely clueless then as i feel now.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012


a morning that began bright and early with goodbyes.  everyone was up and out the door by six, greg included.  the guys and i hung out on the couch for awhile and then i dove into getting the guest room readied again and vacuuming and staying on top of dishes, in between breakfast, snacks, diapers, getting  henry and myself dressed (william took initiative for getting himself dressed), playing outside, looking at books, lunch, naps, etc.  oh, and monitoring the dryer.  a new dryer to figure out and just as confusing as the one at our old place.  the best i've discovered is to run it on the timed 40 minute cycle.  it worked today for a bunch of sheets, or maybe it was towels, in less than two cycles, but i feel like i've been running this last load since early afternoon.  i really hope those responsible for coming up with the symbols on these scandinavian machines are not also the ones in charge of coming up with the danger symbols at radiation sites that are supposed to clue people in thousands of years from now to stay away from the radioactivity.

it was overcast, cool, and on-again, off-again rainy.  we stopped by to say hi to some of our old neighbors this afternoon and my friend, sarah, said you can feel it in the air... summer is over.  when i pulled green beans from the fridge tonight for dinner, i thought, 'oh, this CSA...  never giving us seasonal produce..." and then i realized that it really is the season for green beans... and eggplant... and red peppers... the things we got in our box last week... it just completely doesn't feel like it today.  last saturday-- yes.  today... no. maybe not again until next year.  i'm not feeling so devastated about it though.  we had some good days, especially earlier in the week.  this season, call it summer if you like, hasn't been a total bust by any means.

right now i'm sitting in the living room listening to the bass of some loud dance music coming from some nearby house.  for living on basically the most suburban block you can imagine, it is amazing how much it reminds me of college (except that i think we're talking about high schoolers here)... it's like teen lane and the party and the teenagers just shift from one house to another on any given (though usually weekend) night.  i don't know where the parents are and why they're not insisting they turn the music down just a bit or talk with "quiet voices" after 9 p.m. while walking down the street in a large mass because there might be little sleeping children, and parents who want them to remain asleep, just inside of any given house on this block.  yes, i sound like i'm not in college anymore.  i know it.

okay, time to feed myself.  this single parenting thing doesn't allow you to linger over your dinner, go back for seconds or not spend half of dinner under the table, picking up rice from the floor. so, despite the ice cream william and i enjoyed after henry went to bed, i'm still hungry.  maybe i'll have two very good sleepers (henry's been up once already), at least while i'm eating!


Friday, August 24, 2012

snail dance

back at home... for a day where lists were made, bathrooms were cleaned, laundry was done, toys were played with, and a bag was packed... for a trip to cancun.  greg's trip.  a work conference.

tomorrow too, family leaves, and so it will be a (doing some mindfulness here) easy, enjoyable weekend, just me and the guys.  (during the week we will have new house guests.)

but today, family rented a car and drove to one of denmark's islands south of us.  because of our impending temporary shift to single parent household status, we stayed back to check things off of aforementioned lists... none of which included the directive to study danish.  my danish lessons are changing.  they finally found a class i could fit into at the language school, so i'm upping my lessons from one and a half hours per class, twice a week, to two and a half hours per class, thrice a week!  (why don't we use thrice more often?  it's a fun word that rhymes with twice.)  apparently this class uses different books than my current class (even though it's through the same school)... so i can't do any homework until i attend the first class, which i could have done beginning this week, but because this was our vacation week, i didn't, which means i'm seven and a half hours behind, instead of three.  yikes!

i had a dream last night, a recurring theme, the subject of which changes, depending on my current area of study, that i was hopelessly behind in danish lessons, and we were being tested, which in this dream included performing a choreographed dance routine that i did not know.  i felt like a complete slacker.

i think i'll study this weekend in between henry putting legos in the toilet and william power washing the house.  i'm sure i'll show up for my first class completely prepared.


here's a picture of william with a snail friend today...

until tomorrow!

sweden to denmark

strangely enough, the ease of public transportation might actually have everyone appreciating their cars by the end of this trip.  12 hours and we got ourselves, our luggage, and three little kids on and off a bus, a train, a ferry, a train, a metro, a train, and another bus, with plenty of foot travel in between.  i think we're all worn out.  
walking to the bus stop

we stopped in varberg, as promised from the last post, but only stayed long enough to eat lunch.  no pictures. not much to say about it, except that if you find the kebab shack we went to, the pizzas are big enough to split between two people.

instead we decided to make our way to helsingør, denmark and see the kronborg castle.  so we got off the train at helsingborg, sweden and onto the ferry for a quick voyage back to denmark.

on a ferry from helsingborg, sweden to helsingør, denmark

view of one ferry from another ferry

entering helsingør... kronborg castle on the right... the setting for hamlet.  (helsingør... elsinore)

in helsingør...

flowers, plus a stranger

down a side street

and another



under construction...


the kids found their favorite part of the castle...

pictures from underground, in the 'casements'...

holger dansk... who will rise up to save denmark, should it ever need saving...

new sword... new shields... thanks to j & d!

ah, and that's where my pictures stop, and it's after 12 a.m. here and my eyes are only willing to stay open long enough to get this published, so i will say goodnight. goodnight! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

change of plans

in sweden.  i chose a place that would be close to a beach because i figured three kids and a beach equals a successful trip.  so when we woke up to (a cold) rain and greg checked the forecast and found it would be raining every hour for the next three days (we go home tomorrow), the equation had to be refigured in such a way that we would still come up with the same answer.  

only three out of eight on this trip had any sort of rain gear, which eliminated the idea of embracing scandinavian weather that did not pour down sunshine upon us.  we needed some indoor options.  and being in the countryside, we needed a town.

should we go 60 miles or so north to göteborg, sweden's second largest city, or go into the nearest town, varberg, which was apparently described in 1826 as the least appealing place in sweden, but which is now a "charming and popular summer resort" (all according to wikipedia)? 

we settle on göteborg and a science museum and aquarium to keep little hands and feet and eyes busy.  

we borrow umbrellas for the 1.8 kilometer walk to the bus stop, and set out.

rainy morning view... 

to göteborg...

on the bus...

on the train...

on the metro...

to the museum...

playing around...

cousin helping another cousin out...

rock climbing...


from up high...

street views... 

a very tired litte boy and his dad... 

rainy train ride home view...

tomorrow-- the least appealing place in sweden! stay tuned!