Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 on 30

today is this lovely guy's birthday... 

we celebrated in the morning by opening all of his presents, which from us was a big chocolate bar with hazlenuts and an old book i found called nordamerika: natur og dyreliv (nature and wildlife) published, and probably purchased, in 1964.  

and also this little guy's half-birthday (if you don't care that september doesn't have a 31st day)... 

on friday after class i walked into three of four kids' clothing stores until i finally found the little man a belt, which he has wanted for some time now.  and he got half a big chocolate bar with peppermint.  

and a birthday card, now six months belated because denmark sent it back to his great grandma in the u.s. once, but perfectly timed for today...

later, dinner with a few friends.  a menu of chicken, stuffing with pumpkin and apples, potatoes, gravy, brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie, a turkish pudding, wine, beer, and danish chocolates... 



henry thoroughly enjoyed the desserts.  as the pudding was set on the table next to the pie and the chocolates he became so excited he applauded, much to the merriment of ahu, the dessert's creator.


after everyone left, as henry was being put to bed and dishes were being washed, william fell asleep on the couch, lego helicopter in hand...

a happy birthday and a half.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

saturday

last night i rode my bike in copenhagen-- a first!  i bought it (the bike) a ticket, and took it on the train  with me (another first).  i met nancy, the editor/translator i had lunch with a couple weeks ago, to go to an english (language) book club she's had with friends for the last ten or twelve years.  biking in copenhagen was fun because there wasn't so much traffic at night that i got run over, but enough traffic that i got a feel for what riding with a lot of other bicyclists was like.  and, it was also fun because she did all the navigating, so all i had to do was follow and look around at the city.  and as something of an eavesdropper on a group of four close friends, it was fascinating to learn, through their conversations, about how they'd redone educations, reinvented careers, become bilingual, created families who know only denmark as home.  basically become completely integrated, yet still seem completely a part of their pre-denmark history.  one chapter, completely unaffected, unknowing about the next.  the next, completely affected and knowing about the former.  i guess that's true about all of us, it's just that for some people, the chapter breaks are more well-defined than for others.  

today one of william's classmates and friends had his fifth birthday party.  we went to the farmer's market in the morning and william wanted to ride his bike, but a bike ride to town and back is a bit far for a novice with short legs, so instead, he rode to his friend's house in the afternoon.  the invitation said to bring outdoor clothing, which in denmark means rain boots, rain pants, rain coat, and probably a sweater.  so i packed his and my rain pants (because i didn't know how willing he'd be to have me leave).  just as we were about to walk out the door the rain began pouring down.  out from the backpack came the rain pants and we rode out in a downpour.  by the time we were halfway there though, it had stopped.  william was not the only child who wanted a parent to stay close, but of those children, he was the only one (almost) ignoring and not clinging to his parent.  so eventually i said goodbye and william attended his second danish classmate's birthday party (and his first birthday party ever... i think) without one of his parents.  


growing up...


still little... 


 farmer's market...




indoor toys outside... and what to do with those hostas?  anything?


w. with his new hand-me-down scooter from a moving neighbor... thank you moving neighbor!


dinnertime...


bedtime.  goodnight! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

donna's story

okay.  before the month ends, i have to share something i've been reading and heartbroken over, for childhood cancer awareness month.

sheila quirke's story about her daughter, donna.  she's been posting about each of donna's 31 months of treatment everyday this month on huffington post parents.

heartbreaking and beautifully told and when she talks about her daughter being a light so bright, you can really see it, and also just how much cancer sucks, and how we need to support cancer research and support the people who are affected by cancer, which in all likelihood, is all of us, at some point.

so, please read it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

thursday

so tired.  i'm really going to do it this time.  post a couple of pictures and then say goodnight.  i'll put up a video from tonight too, so you can get a little dose of the 1 and 4 year old inhabitants of the house.  



william spent 45 kroner on a box of pistachio-chocolate ice pops today from the ice cream truck that drove down our street.  and he shared one with me.  such a kind son...



here's the 47 second short film...
video

goodnight! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

wednesday

once it began, it never stopped raining raining today.  i don't think.  i busied myself with chores i'd been neglecting prior to yesterday's test.  like cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming under things, rather than simply around them, and even going so far as to plug the cord into spots so that the vacuum could reach the far corners of rooms.  i know.  homemaker extraordinaire.  and laundry too.  though as my mother-in-law will correctly guess, i did not make it to the folding part.  homemaker so-so.  

i had to take our stand-by bike to drop the guys off at school today, with mine 'in the shop.'  it is a very typical 'danish' bike.  basically like this, but you can picture my jeans being a little bit longer and my shoes a few inches flatter.  it was my first time riding it.  my first time riding a typical danish bike at all.  i can imagine it being a lovely thing to ride on very flat terrain.  it's only a three-speeder and you sit completely upright.  when you are riding on flat ground, you feel very much like you're taking a nice ride through holland's countryside (which is quite flat, according to hans brinker).  but to pull a burley up a hill, was quite impractical.  i had to stand up to get enough power, which led william to offer a suggestion as to how to get up the hill more easily: "you just have to go faster, mama."  yes.  i will get right on that.  

anyway, easier on the wrists, and the back, as you're not always in racer mode, but given the ups and downs of our town, i was happy to be reunited with my regular bike this afternoon.  

and i was not the only one hopping onto a bike after some time apart.  

the typical after-school activity these days... 


oops.  the proper fitting boots stayed at school.... 


chili for dinner.  as you can see, henry going back for a few more bites before bed... 
blurry.

time to blow out the candles...


the skeptic...
blurry.

oh, just filling in a few blanks to the crossword puzzle...


 and now, i'm looking at the pile of laundry.  i'm seeing it in my future.  just not my immediate one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

modul 1 and etc.

i woke up to danish in my head and i felt nervous all morning.  it's amazing how nervous i could get over an exam where no one else's future depended on my preparation and performance, and where the examiner was a good-hearted, almost goofy, danish man and not a person sitting high above me in a black robe.  

but the morning was beautiful after lots of rain and wind last night, and not so cold (which is good, because i have lost my ear muffs)...


and on my way to class i ran into greg who had taken the guys to school so i could look up this word or that word one last time. and it is always nice to see my guy's face when i am worried over something... 


i was the second person to class, which is typical.  ever since my fall of 2012 i have always gotten to class early and i have never been tempted to cut that corner again.  

soon the class was buzzing with the energy that surrounds a test.  

'are you nervous?' 

'yes.'

'no.'

'i don't care about the exam.  but i want to go first to get it over with.'... our young friend and classmate from poland.

so she went first, while the rest of us stayed back and tried to not learn the new vocabulary we were being taught so as not to lose any of the words we might need during the exam.  

15 minutes later, she was back with a big smile...  she'd passed... and a revelation to us all-- we'd learn whether we passed or failed, immediately after the test.  so this would be awkward, i thought, if i came back looking a little glum...

after our trailblazer, the examiner decided to have us pair up... perhaps to make things go faster.  after the second pair left, my friend from england whispered to me that she couldn't put it off any longer.  she needed to get it over with.  

"i'll go with you," i quickly volunteered.  

so when the next pair came back, we jumped up before anyone else had the chance, easy readers in hand.  oy.

down to the examiner's office.  

since i was the more "meget nervos' of the two of us, he had me go first.  six cards, placed face-down: 'book 1' 'book 2' 'book 3' 'topic 1' 'topic 2' 'blank topic' (to give the 'topics' the same chance of being picked as the 'books').  i picked: 'book 1'.... which happened to be 'far'... you remember... henrik and marie... henrik, too busy with his studies to pay any attention to his sweetheart... and then she discovers she's pregnant and he breaks up with her, but in the end decides to do the right thing... 

i had to talk about it for one minute (i know! that's it... just one minute) and then answer questions about it for three.  

deep breath in, then launch into the story in my best basic danish.  i am happy to report that my brain did not fail me as i recited the plot and answered the questions.  then my friend's turn.  then ten pictures, face down.  i chose one.  the idea here is that we would ask the examiner questions about the picture and he would answer and we would go back and forth, question and answer. dialogue.  but instead he had me and my classmate ask and answer the questions... a slightly easier task perhaps or maybe just the feeling like you're in this with someone else.  i turned up a picture of a woman sitting at a desk in a library and we made up a story about how she was a teacher at our language school, with three kids, i presumed grown, but we didn't get that far.  he apparently felt confident enough in our danish to stop the q&a and give us passing marks.  

relief.  on the way back up to the classroom, my friend joked that we should enter it looking gloomy.  

"i don't think i can!" i said, unable to bend the huge smile on my face into a grimace.  

in the end, we all came back smiling.  

of course, just because you pass a test you weren't so sure about, doesn't mean you're not going to have a flat tire when you go back out to your bike.  one good event in the day doesn't immunize you from other mishaps.  and so i found myself walking my bike into town with a flat front tire.  it's amazing how many car shops you pass when you're trying to find a bike shop.  finally, right off the pedestrian street i found one.  

"we can replace the tube," said the bicycle repair man.  

"can you try to patch it?" i asked, thinking this would be the cheaper option.

"no. we only replace tubes here."  

i thought about it.  

"well, okay, better than walking (the full 5.6 kilometers) home."

"fine. we can get it to you later this afternoon."

"oh.  when is the soonest you can get it done?" i asked.

"mmm... an hour and a half," he said.

eh. i decide i can walk it home in that time and decide to pass.  (my second pass of the day!)  

at the next bike store i come to, they cannot get it back to me until 4:30.  nope.  i will walk home.  greg and i talk on the way and agree that it's probably time i replace my now treadless tires anyway, so i'll take it to our local bike shop and have them work on it.

anyway, the long walk gives me time to highlight the setup of our bike paths here-- the ones that run along main streets...

note how you have someone's yard on the far right (here, actually, i think, church property, bordered with hedges).  next the sidewalk... so far, similar to what you'd find in the u.s.  but then, to the left of the sidewalk, you don't find another little patch of grass, like you often have in the u.s.  instead you have the bike path, which is raised up from the road by a curb.  other than at  intersections (where the bike paths are marked by bright blue strips), you don't see buses or parked cars getting in the way of the bike path to drop people off or make right turns.  this is not always true for every path-- occasionally a bike path will spit you out into the right turn lane-- but it's generally true, and it makes for very easy commuting.  so now take this very simple idea back to your city's next council meeting and somehow convince them to find the money and implement this and then the u.s. will be well on its way to creating bike-friendly (or friendlier) cities.  actually, i have no idea how that patch of lawn between the sidewalk and the street works-- does the homeowner own it?  the city?  i'm sure it's all more complicated than ripping out the grass and turning it into a bike path.

okay, back to the task at hand-- getting my bike fixed and getting home.  i'm hungry for lunch at this point!

an hour and twenty minutes after class gets out, i am in the super best parking lot, and head to the bike shop two doors down.  

we agree on what is to be done and i ask him when they'll have it completed.  

"tomorrow," he tells me.  

so that is not an hour and a half later, or even four-thirty.  but at some point, when you establish your loyalty to and put your trust in a place, you will suddenly find yourself settling for tomorrow.  i leave my bike, make a quick stop at the grocery store, and walk the rest of the way home.  

it's 10:30, so let's end with a picture of two matching polar bears, wrestling with their dad before bed tonight...


vi ses i morgen!

Monday, September 24, 2012

day before eksamen

tomorrow i must speak in danish to a person who will be grading my performance.  it's one of those things i never considered i might be doing with my life, but there you have it.  however, the going into a language exam feeling unprepared thing... will literally be a dream come true.  sigh.

i think perhaps i'll study and/or try to go to bed early, so that i feel like i tried to help myself out just a little bit.

i will leave you with some pictures. but first, a couple quotes from william today:

on what he ate for lunch at school: "oh, i had rice pudding and some sugar things and some sugar."

(which might explain this next quote)

on riding his bike: "i'm going faster than a flying, blaring kite string!!!"

upon catching him drinking out of the milk carton: "that's how heathcliff (the cartoon cat) drinks it."

and now a few pictures...


where is big brother?


racing! i can't beat a kite string.  there's no way i'm beating this guy...


our little scarecrow...


battling against grandpa on skype...



henry says hello...


 and a hyggeligt bedtime...

goodnight! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

today

the morning was full of blue skies and oatmeal and bacon (for the littlest carnivores) and biscuits and gravy and coffee.  but no tea, because we were all out.  and coloring and sparkle stories and crossword puzzles and a walk... 



to the church down the street, because there was rumor (in the form of a flyer poorly translated by us) that there might be knights and horses mulling about from ten to twelve-thirty.

but when we arrived, all was quiet.  everyone was inside (at the ten o'clock service)...
spiritual knights and horses perhaps?





a clue?


we walked back.  when greg walked over to the super best later, he spotted some kids at the church wearing knight costumes (and a couple of adults), but otherwise, no horses, no professional medieval knights.  still though, a nice morning for our walk...



in the afternoon... trying to sneak in a few more glances at the crossword puzzle (from that newspaper we got so long ago)...


then time to prepare for my danish test, so greg took the guys on another adventure. today, to the obstacle course park...











henry going to greet a cat...


who promptly ran into the woods...


back to the slide...


back to the cat...


in the woods...


not sure if this is an official obstacle...





tire swinging...


riding home...

(bellies full of blackberries. pockets full of little apples.)

to make apple sauce and pizza (and green beans)...

the little brother, doing what he can to keep up with the big brother
and now, to sleep.