Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lexi turns 5!

On March 25th, our little Lexi had her 5th birthday. Can you believe it? It's so hard to believe that it's been 5 years since she made her crazy, scary entrance into our lives. We are so happy and blessed to have her.She's been so excited about her birthday for months. Constantly asking how many more days until she would turn 5. Needless to say, the morning of her birthday was very exciting for her. We got rides to church, so it was nice to not have to spend 7 hours on going to and from church. We were able to really enjoy the day. She received some fun presents, including new nightgowns, 2 watches, a baby doll, umbrella and her favorite, a musical jewelry box. She chose Lasagna for her birthday dinner and I made a cake and frosting from scratch. It turned out well and she was very excited. She was happy to talk to all of her Grandparents that night and have them wish her Happy Birthday. She was a little sad that none of them could be here with her for her Birthday. Dad also played Twister with the kids. They all really loved that. At age 5, Lexi still loves the color Pink, her favorite food is Lasagne and Spaghetti, she loves kitties, ponies, unicorns and dolphins. She absolutely adores Myra and barely tolerates Noah. She loves to throw her arms around you and give you a hug and a kiss. We love this little girl so much!
Lexi also got to start school this week! She will be going to a special "Kindergarten", where they will teach her Danish. She started today and was so excited and maybe a little nervous. She was so happy that there were several girls in her class. I think it will be a really great experience for her. I think she'll pick up Danish really quickly and I'm glad that she will have the opportunity to make some friends. What was funny though, is when I went to pick her up, the head leader over the school, came and started asking me a bunch of questions about Lexi's birthday and how old she is. They all thought that because she is so small, she couldn't possibly be 5 yet.

March 25, 2007
1 Years Old
2 Years Old
3 Years Old
4 Years Old
5 Years Old

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lexi's Birthday Outing

With Lexi's birthday being on a Sunday this year, we decided that yesterday, Saturday, we should go do something fun for her birthday. So, we headed back into Copenhagen to do a little more site seeing. We went to the National Museum, toured through the Europa exhibit, which was very interesting, but the kids were mostly anxious to get to the Children's Museum. It was great for the kids. Very hands-on. There were a bunch of rooms that were all decorated to look like a boat, a classroom, a kitchen, a castle, an Indian food market, a Sultan's palace and more. The kids were in Heaven. We mostly just followed Noah around helped him out, while the girls went crazy. It was a lot of fun. When we were done there, we ate our PB&J sandwiches that we had brought. This was the first outing we've done that, and it was such a smart move. Food here is very expensive, so this helped us out a lot. After we left the museum, we just started walking. We went back to the Christiansborg Palace. Last time we just took a few pictures from the front gate, but this time we walked right through the middle of it. It is such a large building. We want to go back when it is a little warmer, so we can tour the Castle Ruins underneath the palace. After that we walked over to the Strøget.It was fun walking through there today, there were so many people and the streets just hummed with energy. There were street musicians and food vendors out and even a street entertainer. Lexi walked up first to put a coin in the slot, but as soon as the guy moved, she freaked out. But of course, Myra had no qualms about running up and posing next to him. After that, our destination was the National Cathedral of Denmark, Church of our Lady. This church was originally built in 1187, but was burnt down and rebuilt many times over the years. The building as it is now was rebuilt in the 1820's after it was destroyed during the Napoleonic Wars. Something I thought was interesting about the church's design is that it is built in the neo-classical design, which didn't include a tower. This design upset a lot of the local citizens, so as an afterthought, a medieval-style tower was added. Now, the thing that drew us to the Church of our Lady was the statues that are in it. Bertel Thorvaldsen was commissioned to decorate the interior with sculptures of Christ and the 12 apostles. They are absolutely AMAZING!!!! The cathedral was so quiet and peaceful as we walked up the side aisles viewing the apostle statues and then you get to the front. Towards the front is a baptismal font, sculpted in the design of an angel and behind that, in all it's glory is the Christus Statue. If you are thinking it looks familiar, you've probably been to the Salt Lake Temple's visitor center and viewed the Christus statue there. That's right, the Christus statue in Salt Lake is a replica of the Christus statue in the Church of our Lady in Copenhagen Denmark! This was such a great place to be. I came across a blog that talks a lot more about the church and gives information on each of the statues. I found it interesting. You can view it here. Our next destination was another church, St. Peter's church. Unfortunately, it was closed, but the outside was beautiful. Very old, it is said to be the oldest building in central Copenhagen. We'll have to go back to take a tour sometime. After that, we were tentatively headed back to the train to go home, but we came across the Rundetårn, or The Round Tower. We've passed by it before, but this time, we thought we should go in. The tower was built in the 17th century as an astronomical observation tower. It is a very unique building. It was an architectural project of King Christian IV. The tower was built as part of the Copenhagen University Trinitatis Complex, which included the tower, University Chapel and Academic Library. You enter the tower at ground level and a paved ramp takes you around and around and around all the way up to the top of the tower. It is said that the reason it was built as a ramp instead of stairs is so that the King could ride a horse to the top, instead of walk. Along the way you pass what use to be the Academic library, which is now an art exhibition center. We also got a view of the Tower Privy. Myra was a bit shocked when I explained to her what it was. So, after going up to the top of the tower, there is a tiny spiral staircase that takes you out to the observation deck. The stairs were seriously narrow and scary, especially since people were going both up and down them at the same time. It was crazy. But, the trip up was so worth it. We were able to get an amazing view of all Copenhagen. We were able to see spires of many churches and several castles. And they say, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Sweden. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a foggy day, so we didn't get that view. Maybe next time. It was great. After leaving the tower, the kids ran back down. I was worried someone was going to fall, but we all made it safely down. Every year they have a unicycle race to the top of the tower and back. I bet that's quite the thing to watch. Well, after that, we bought Danish pancakes (crepes) from a street vendor and then made out way fun. It was a fun outing!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Does size really matter?

Last Saturday we made a family trip to IKEA, it was one of our smoothest journeys yet. We got to the first bus right on time without having to run, we didn't have to wait long for the train and the second bus showed up right as we stepped up to bus stop. We didn't have to look up directions before we left and we recognized which stop we need to get off at. Shannon and I congratulated each other on how much our travel skills are improving. The trip there took about 40min, not too bad for such a major outing.

On a side note, we really like going to IKEA because they have a childcare place, so Shannon and I can drop the kids of for an hour and have a little date - at least we would have if they hadn't kept calling us to come because our kids needed something.

Our reason for going was to get cross bar slates for the bunk bed (I don't really know what the thing I am trying to describe is called, it is the boards that hold the mattress up as seen here). Of course we ended up getting way more than we had intended but did not realize until after we checked out and were trying to fit everything in our backpacks. The trip home was only slightly more awkward. The biggest disapointmet came when we got home and realized that I had bought the wrong size boards for the bed and was going to have to take them back and exchange them.

Instead of taking the buses and train again I decided to try and strap it on Shannon's bike and ride there; this worked out really well. The biggest surprise was that it only took me 15 min to get to IKEA on a bike, hauling a heavy load, on a windy day. This of course makes sense since we only live 3 miles from IKEA.

I tell this experience as an example of how much our perspective of distance has changed since moving to Denmark. When I go to work we talk about my commute to the city, when in reality we live closer to my work now than we did living in Hyrum and driving to Logan.

Denmark is really small. My theory is that "they" have intentially designed the transportation system so that it takes a long time to get places and that way you feel like it's bigger than it really is.

I created the map below (it might not be completely accurate but it is pretty close). Utah is 5 times larger than Denmark (Utah = 84,899 sq mi, Denmark = 16,641 sq mi). Yet Denmark has more than double the number of people (Population: Denmark =5,671,050  Utah =2,817,222). Crazy how distince is really just a matter of perspective.

Green is Utah, Red is Denmark
Interesting fact (by fact I mean something people have told me and I choose to repeat without verifying): Despite being so small Denmark has more coast line than India, the seventh biggest country in the world.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jack and Jill ran up the hill....

The weather has started to get warmer, flowers are out and things are begining to show signs of turning green. We just passed the point in the year when the days are now longer than the nights (we have daylight savings on the 25th, I'm looking forward to the kids possibly not getting up a 6:30am every morning because it's light outside).

Shannon took the kids for a walk the other day and found a hill, of course the kids had to climb it and then roll down...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So...I don't really even want to post about this, but Chad has insisted that it is something we want to remember. So, here goes. Yesterday morning, I walked out on our back porch/balcony to trim my nails. We have a really strange sliding door. You have to push this button in to pull the handle down to open it and then you have to pull really hard to get it open. To shut it, you have to push the button in again. I'd noticed that there wasn't a handle on the outside, but I didn't think that it could be locked without pushing in the button. But, I wasn't sure. Because it was cold outside, I didn't want to leave the door all the way open, so I started pushing it closed attempting to leave it open just a couple of inches, but as I was slowly trying to shut it, it all of a sudden caught and slammed all the way shut! I was locked out! I knocked on the door to get Lexi to come over, but I knew that she wouldn’t be able to help. The door is difficult even for me to open. I was trying to get her to hang on the handle, hoping she’d be able to pull it down enough so that I might be able to slide the door open, but she’s such a lightweight, she couldn’t get it to budge. By then, she’s crying and upset that I’m outside and can’t get in. So, I realized I was going to have to climb down. Luckily we are on the bottom level, but our porch is still about 6 feet off the ground and our balcony is surrounded by bushes, so to jump down I would have had to jump out about 3 feet to clear the bushes and then land around 6 feet on the ground. To many people this would have been no big deal, but it was not doable for me. I have serious problems with my bad ankle and have been told not to jump from any height onto it. So, the thought of me jumping and reinjuring my foot was not appealing. I wasn’t sure if I would have any other option, but then I realized up against the side of the porch, behind all the bushes was a rickety old shelf. Without any hesitation, I shimmied over the side of the porch and lowered myself down onto the shelf. I was immediately concerned that the shelf would just tip over or fall apart on me. But, luckily it held and I was able to get on the ground. Then, I realized my next obstacle. I was trapped behind the bushes and they were full of thorns! The bushes are so thick, I was literally pushed right up against the side of the building and I couldn’t move side to side at all without getting tangled in them. I decided I would have to climb through them at the bottom. I bent down to get on my hands and knees which resulted in a burst of pain when I realized that the ground was covered in a thick layer of fallen thorns. What to do?!? Looking back, I’m so glad I had my shoes on and a hoodie. I really had no other options, so I gritted my teeth and knelt back on the ground and pushed my way through the 1 ½ foot opening along the ground and then I was free! I ran around back to the front of the building where Lexi was able to let me back into the apartment. I immediately went to shower and to survey the damage. My hands and legs were covered with little slivers from the thorns. After pulling then all out, I spent the rest of the day just hanging around because my legs and hands were on fire. They feel much better today, with the exception of a few tender spots, but they look awful. The picture doesn’t really even show how bad they look. I hope that tomorrow all the little spots will start to clear up. Anyway, that took me a really long time to retell. What frustrates me the most is knowing that if Chad had been the one to get locked out, he would have just jumped over the balcony in about 2 seconds and probably never even told me about it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Bike

So for the first couple of weeks that I had my green bike my commute was great; I felt so fast, and it was so much fun to weave in and out of cars, bikers, and people I almost look forward to coming and going from work. Sure after the first couple of day the front derailleur had broken, but I hardly noticed, as you don’t really need to shift much in Demark – the highest point after all is only 560 ft above sea level and I don’t have to deal with that hill on my ride. The real problems started when I noticed that the previous bike owner had used generous amounts of WD40 to lubricate the chain and gears. I don’t know much about bikes or bike maintenance but I know this is discouraged among cyclists. The result left my chain cake in oil and dirt with pieces of grass sticking out that would get all over the bottom of my pant legs (which would have left me self-conscious all day if I hadn’t also had a wet butt from wheels flipping water up to worry about). 
To remedy the problem I decided I need to clean the chain and gears off. Easy job right? For some reason whenever I try to fix something it always seems to end up a little worse. All I did was take the back wheel, rear derailleur and chain off, wiped them down with an old rag and tried to put it back together. Three hours later I was coved up to my elbows in grease and still could not figure out how to put everything right so that it would shift again. Out of desperation I decided to settle for a draw, and I put it together so that it at least worked as a single gear, meaning I could ride without shifting.
This seemed like a good solution at first; again I rationalized “who needs to shift in Denmark”. But then after a few days the chain fell off, that’s weird I thought as I put it back on and went on my way. Then it started falling off more often. Then I noticed that when I would stop peddling the gears did not stop turning, so the chain would get all bunched up and jammed in between the gears. Eventually it got so bad that couldn’t even get started moving on the bike without the chain falling off and jamming.
Now it is at this point in the story that those reading that know anything about bikes are probably thinking “well it’s obvious what’s wrong, he just has to fix the ______(insert technical term) and voilà everything should be good”.  But for me, at this point in the story, I thought “I don’t know how to fix this problem, I’m pushing my bike more than ridding it, I could probably pay someone to fix it but that will likely cost more than I bought it for and then something else will probably break. Maybe I should just look for a new bike”. And so I started searching through the classifieds again.
And that’s when I came across this beauty. (For some reason in this picture it looks small, but it is a normal size men’s bike).

I call it “My Yellow Bike” (I am not very creative with names). The first thing most of you probably noticed after seeing the picture is that it does not have a front or rear derailleur, nor does it have multiple gears or a shifter. That’s because this is what is known as a “fixie”. This basically means that if the bike is in motion the pedals are also turning . There is only one gear, and it’s fixed to the wheel.  If I peddle backwards the bike goes backwards, if I go down a hill really fast, then the pedals, and hopefully my feet, go really fast. Most fixie’s don’t have any breaks; you just break by slowing the pedals down, but luckily this one does (it is illegal to ride a bike in Copenhagen without breaks). The reason this one has breaks is that if I want I can flip the rear wheel around and there is another sprocket that is not fixed so it can be a single speed free-wheel, but I’m not ready to do that.
There is a whole cult-like fixie following that I am not really sure what it’s all about (or why I felt the need to join them). When you read about fixies most of the touted advantages are pretty weak in my opinion; things like “you feel more at-one with the bike”, I’m not sure what that is supposed to mean but if I ever feel “at-one” with my bike I’ll let you know; or “if you’re coasting then you don’t benefit from your ride (healthwise)”, come on, now riding your bike is not enough. The main advantage that resonated with me is that “a fixie is much easier to maintain because there are less parts to deal with”, sound like the perfect bike for me.
I have been riding it for a week now. The first time I got on it, I had a hard time getting started and it almost bucked me off when I tried to stop – it felt very unnaturally to have to keep my feet moving even when I was trying to stop. The pedals have toe clips for your feet, which I’ve like on my other bikes but I find very difficult to get my feet into when you can’t stop the pedals from going around. At first I thought to just trade the pedals with my those on my green bike, but after reading about fixies I realized it is good idea if they are strapped in because if you get going down a hill and your feet come of the pedals it can be difficult to get them back on. I am getting better at flipping my feet in now.  I do have to admit that riding a fixie is a workout, now going downhill is harder than going up, and stopping is a is way harder than starting.  I have quickly learned to anticipate what is coming up, to try to time lights and intersections so I don’t have to stop and start.  All the same, I’ve complained to Shannon every night about how much my legs hurt. Despite the pain, and awkwardness of feeling (and appearing to others) like I am just learning to ride a bike, I really enjoy my new bike. Even though it is cold and wet, I look forward to my ride every day. One of my favorite things about the bike is how light it is.

p.s. Shannon made fun of me for writing such a long blog about my bike. In her words this blog should have said “My old bike sucked so I got a new one. Woohoo, look how I can hold it with one hand”. I apologize to anyone who also would have preferred an abbreviated version.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Little Mermaid

One of the things that the kids have been the most excited to see with coming to Denmark was The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. On Saturday, with nothing to do and temperatures set to be in the mid 40's, we decided to venture again into the city. We missed the bus and didn't want to wait for the next one, so we walked into the train station. Not really the best way to start the day, it's not a short walk and Lexi mumbled and whined pretty much the entire way. Oh well, things were better once we started on the train. Chad had decided to purchase a new bike, since the one he bought a few weeks ago was just too trashed to be reliable, so we picked that up first. Then, hopped onto the bus to take us to our destination. We had to change buses at one point, and since we were already on foot, we decided to look around a bit before catching the next bus. Glad we did, because we had stopped off right at the gates of Rosenborg Castle! We wandered around through the gardens for a bit and even watched the changing of the guards, albeit from a distance.
This castle was pretty cool, we were able to walk across the bridge, over the moat, right up to the castle. We walked around it taking a few pictures, but decided against a tour, since our main objective today was The Little Mermaid. Still, the castle was beautiful. It was built in 1606 as a summer house, going through some expansions until by 1624 it was at it's current condition. Wow, for the past 388 years, it's remained virtually unchanged! You can read more about it here.
We once again hopped on a bus and headed towards our destination. At our stop, we weren't sure where to go, but we saw a lot of people headed in one direction and figured that was our best bet. This course of action took us to Kastellet, also known as The Citadel. This was something I hadn't known about before, but was really neat!
Shaped in a pentagram, it's one of the best preserved fortifications in all of Europe. Basically, it's a military fort. It's kind of hard to explain what exactly it looks like, but I found an aerial picture online, so you can see it better. It's basically an island, with a raised hill all the way around. We entered through one of the gates, walked around for a while up on one of the hills and then exited through the other entrance. I wish we had walked all the way around to get a good view of the Windmill on the other side, but while we were on top, we noticed our destination! The Little Mermaid!
So, we headed down, passing this beautiful church! We passed several other statues, The Gefion Fountain - we'll definitely head back this way to see this in working order! We also walked down the Langelinie and passed by the Ivar Huitfeldt Column before coming upon The Little Mermaid statue. It's interesting that it's such an iconic tourist attraction in Copenhagen. The author of the Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen, was from Denmark, so I think that's part of the reason it's so popular. Honestly, there are many more amazing sculptures we've seen that were much more eye-catching, but I guess in it's simplicity, the Little Mermaid statue was cool. It was hard to get a decent picture since there were so many people climbing on and around it. Needless to say, it was fun to see. After we left there, we came across this interesting statue - I think he looks like he's shaving his legs. And then we next passed by this awesome Angel statue. It was huge! I couldn't find out any information about it, bummer. I would have liked to have known more about it.
Look at all the flowers that are out!

Well, after leaving the area here by the ocean, we decided it was past time to get something to eat, so we headed into the Strøget area - the part of the city where there are no cars. It was super crowded, mostly due to construction in the area, but we were able to enjoy some hot roasted almonds and got a quick glimpse of the Round Tower. Another place on our list to go back to. After a quick box dinner of chicken curry, rice and noodles, we decided that everyone was ready to head home. It was a very fun day!