Monday, April 23, 2012

Around the House

The other night we had the missionaries over for dinner (they usually eat over about once a week), as part of a causal conversation they asked what we usually did for fun around the house.

At the moment, having not really thought about it, it didn't seem like we did very much - we answered, "just normal stuff like: watch movies, read books, play games, you know nothing too exciting". Thinking back, our kids are pretty good at keeping themselves entertained. I thought I would post a bunch of "around the house photos" that otherwise probably won't get posted in a blog, just to share some of the things that we have done.
Obstacle course on Noah's bike - surprisingly Lexi was the fastest, I came in last.

At dinner the other night Lexi said, "Let's have a contest! Whoever has the cleanest area around there place at the table wins." Things did not go quite how I think she had imagined, after teaming up and sabotaging each other, I think Noah won.
Noah loves to find places to hide.

 Noah loves to stack stuff
 Sleep over in Myra's bed
 I have no idea what is going on in this picture
 Wrestling or tickle fight (they look so similar)
 Twister (much harder than I remember)
 Noah loves jumping on our bed, a lot of times he just goes in there by himself for a little jumping time.
He also enjoys jumping over people.

 One of Myra's favorite things to do is take self is a good thing we have a large SD card, we often find it full of her pictures
Noah (and the girls) love to sing and pretend they are on American Idol. Noah has gotten quite good at dancing and making up songs.

Shannon has done a lot of cooking since we got here, she makes all of our bread  (we go through about 4 loafs a week), and she has created a lot of the ingredients we are used to having pre-made for meals from scratch, including: enchilada sauce, cream of chicken soup, cakes, brownies, taco and guacamole seasoning, pancake batter, corn bread and many more. Since she is spending so much time in the kitchen she has also learned to read and cook at the same time.

And we'll end with Noah trying his new underwear on. He really enjoyed the freedom for about 5 minutes and then proceeded to empty his bladder on our floor.  Too bad we didn't keep the video rolling. The girls are really jealous that his "panties" have a "pocket".

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Visit

Last Saturday, we were so excited to get together with our friends, Ben and Camille Pedersen, from Logan! Ben's dad is from Denmark and both of his parents have been here in Denmark the past few months working in the temple. So, Ben and Camille came over to visit them and we were lucky enough to get to spend a day with them. I can't even adequately describe how nice it was to get to see familiar faces from home. We met them on Saturday morning and visited with them for a while. They were so nice to bring over an entire suitcase filled with stuff that my mom had gathered and sent over to us. It was like Christmas! We then headed over to the temple to do a session with them and Ben's parents. Ben's mom was so kind to set up a babysitter for us! It was so nice to make it to the temple. We both really enjoyed the peaceful spirit we experienced there. The Copenhagen temple is really neat. Dedicated in 2004, it is only the 2nd temple to be built from an existing building. It use to be a church building that was built in 1931. There are some beautiful murals inside the temple that we were able to see.  After leaving the temple, we collected the kids and set out to do a little exploring.  It was kind of late in the day and since everything seems to close so early here, we didn't have too many options, but we had heard that Fredricksberg Park is very nice, so thats where we headed.  We didn't have a lot of time to really explore, but what we saw was beautiful.  Frederiksberg Palace was built in the early 1700's and the park was established in conjunction with the building of the palace.  It was very scenic.  We definitely have plans to head back here again to do a bit more exploring.  The palace now holds the Royal Danish Army Officers Academy and I don't think there is any part of it that is open to the public.  That I know of.  But, the park was built to resemble the English countryside, complete with canals, small islands and winding walkways.
 It was very picturesque.  If you want to read more about Frederiksberg Palace, click here or about Frederiksberg Park, click here.
One of the little quirks in the park is what is known as the Pacifier Tree. In Denmark, when a child reaches the age of 3, they are no longer considered a baby, which includes getting rid of babyish things, such as their pacifier.  (It is very common to see older kids here with pacifiers, seriously, kids that are much older than 3!)  Anyway, they have this tradition, where the family makes a big outing to the Pacifier tree, leaving their pacifiers and often a little note or other gift to the Pacifier Fairy.  I guess many children also receive gifts back from the Pacifier Fairy.  Anyway, it was interesting.  I wish we knew more Danish, it would have been fun to read some of the letters.
By this time, we were pretty hungry, so we decided to head back to Albertslund for Kebab's(yum!), and then back to our apartment to visit for a while.  It was a very fun visit, and  we were so sad to say good-bye to Camille and Ben.  It was just so nice to see someone from home, so if anyone else wants to come and visit, we would love it!  Thanks again Camille and Ben for visiting!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Good-bye Grandpa Keyser

There have been a lot of challenges with moving to Denmark, several times while we were preparing we wondered if we really were making the right decision. Even after being here for 2 months 3 weeks and 4 days we question whether we are really strong enough to cope with all the changes we have to make. There are lots of things that we worry about, things like: are our kids going to be behind in their schooling (we don’t really know what Myra does at school but it seems like they play with dolls and watch English cartoons), how do Shannon and I make friends when getting together socially with three small kids and no car is more than difficult, how can we feel less of a burden to our church congregation that has to find translators for every meeting, will Noah’s head be permanently bruised from his constant tripping and smacking it on the hard floors (seriously, the kid falls at least once a day and never manages to catch himself)? I don’t mean to complain, we are starting to find a routine and most of the time we are content being in Denmark, and a lot of the time we still can’t believe we live so close to so many cool things; but adapting to something new is never easy.
Outwardly we probably complain the most about the things that we miss, e.g., kitchen aid, Crockpot, Wal-Mart, etc., but inwardly the hardest part has been leaving our family and friends. My Grandpa Keyser passed away last Wednesday; I feel sad that we cannot be there for the funeral. We knew when we decided to move here that it would mean we might not see some of our grandparents again. My Grandpa had been bedridden for several years, his passing does not come as a surprise (actually most people are shocked he continued living as long as he did, his nurses have been telling us he had weeks left for at least a year), yet, I still feel a sense of loss knowing he is not there.
Four generations of Altons
My Grandpa was a great man and a great example for me. My grandma is the most selfless person I know; she is constantly look for and finding ways to serve everybody around her, thinking nothing of herself. It is impossible to stop by for a visit without my Grandma preparing a full banquet of food – she lives to serve others. My Grandpa, on the other hand, lived to served her – which meant he often was involved in my grandma’s projects. The love and friendship I saw between my grandparents is exactly what I hope to achieve in my own family.
I am not an emotional person, my kids usually laugh at me if I get teary eyed, reminding me that “Dad’s don’t cry”. However when we said goodbye to my Grandpa in December, and he cried knowing that we wouldn’t see him again, I struggled and failed to suppress my own tears (luckily I don’t think the kids saw). I am grateful for families and the hope of being with him again. When we were saying goodbye before leaving he made the comment that when he was feeling better maybe he and grandma could come visit us –
Here is his obituary:
Richad Alton Keyser
1926 ~ 2012
A loving husband, father, and grandfather Richard Alton Keyser of West Valley City, passed away peacefully in his home on April 11, 2012 surrounded by his family. Richard was Born March 29, 1926 in Salt Lake City, Utah the oldest of 3 children of William and Thelma Keyser. He graduated from West High school in 1944 and served in the Navy for 2 years. Upon his return from military service during
World War II, he met and then married his eternal companion, Erma Elsie Plewe. He adored Erma in a loving marriage for 62 wonderful years. In a gospel centered home Richard and Erma raised 7 children Shauna Hubbard (Von), Craig (Nancy), Teri Clement (Harold, deceased), Kent (Judi), Mike (Claire), Brad (Tammy), and Scott (Georgia) who to this day have high regard, deep appreciation, and abiding love for a Father who was always an example and inspiration of Fatherhood. Richard is also the proud grandfather to 29 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
After attending the University of Utah for one year, Richard worked at the US Postal Service and then retired after 40 years as a Manager in Procurement. Richard was recognized for years of hard work and dependability and was a good friend to many he worked with.
Richard served valiantly in various callings in the church including Bishop of the Cannon 4th ward in the Cannon Stake. He is remembered by those he served as one who truly cared and fulfilled assignments given. He lived life to its fullest and left a legacy of love to all who knew him.
A viewing will be held in his honor on Monday April 16, 2012 from 6-8 p.m. at Redwood Memorial Mortuary, located at 6500 South Redwood Road. Funeral services will be held on Tuesday April 17, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. at the Hunter Village Ward located on 3443 South 6400 West, West Valley City. Prior to the service a viewing will be available at the church, where Friends and family may visit from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., your attendance is welcomed.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring Break

It’s amazing to me how much time off the Danes have. This week is Spring Break and Myra had an entire week and 1 day off from school. Chad also had 3 days off from work – paid time off! What’s really weird to me though is that on Thursday, Friday and Monday (not Saturday - and everything is usually closed on Sunday anyway), almost the entire country shuts down. All the stores are closed and most people have time off from work. That’s right, no grocery stores were open on Thursday, Friday and Monday of this week. Weird, huh?!? Anyway, we had originally thought we were going to plan a big trip for the weekend, complete with a hotel stay and a car rental. But, it was just not meant to be. We were a little hesitant to begin with, because of the cost, but then things just didn’t seem to want to come together. We couldn’t find a car rental that would hold all of our car seats, without paying a fortune. Then we couldn’t find a hotel to stay in. So, we decided we would just kind of have a staycation. We would stay at home, but go out every day into Copenhagen to do some sightseeing. Even this idea hasn’t worked out as planned. We made it out on Thursday, which I’ll write about in a minute. But, Friday, the weather was crappy and the kids were super grumpy, so we just decided to stay home and rest. Then on Saturday, the weather was even crappier, complete with some snow flurries. And it was cold, we decided we didn’t want to drag the kids around in it, so we stayed home yet again. So, maybe on Monday, we’ll make it to somewhere fun. Anyway, I’ll go back to Thursday.

Thursday was a beautiful day, one of the best we’ve had here so far. Still cold enough though, to need coats. We had originally planned on going into Copenhagen’s Central Train Station and taking a fast train up to the northern part of Zealand, so we could go to Helsingør Castle. But, because of the Holiday, the fast trains weren’t running in that area. So, after much wandering around the Train station, we finally decided on an alternate plan. First, we needed a map of Copenhagen, so we walked back to the National Museum. They have great, free tourist maps and a nice lunch room, so we ate lunch there and let the kids play at the Children’s Museum again for just a few minutes. We tentatively decided we would walk up and go through Rosenborg Castle. But, after leaving the museum, we once again found ourselves walking through Christiansborg Palace again. We decided to find out exactly what the Castle had to offer tourists and how much. We entered the Royal Stables and our kids were begging us to go and see the horses. So, after finding out that Christiansborg Palace is only open from October to April, we figured this would be a good time to visit it.

First, I want to give a short history of Christiansborg Palace. There have actually been many castles that have been in this area. Starting with Absalon’s Castle back in 1167. For many years, there was a lot of fighting that erupted between the kings and bishops of the time, and it was eventually torn down, stone by stone in about 1369. After a few years, Copenhagen Castle was built on the same grounds. It stood there for close to 400 years, going through multiple renovations, until it was eventually pulled down because it was too unstable to continue using and in 1733, the first Christiansborg Palace was started. It burnt down in 1794, claiming many lives and destroying many great works for art. The second Christiansborg Palace was started in 1803 and finished by 1828 and can you imagine how sad it had to have been to have it burn down also in 1884. The 3rd and current Christiansborg Palace was built in 1907, and hopefully it won’t burn down anytime soon. I think they have put in a lot more fire safety measures this time around. Christiansborg Palace now houses all three branches of government. It is the only building in the world that houses all 3 branches of a country’s government. Several parts of the palace are also used by members of the Monarchy. I find the historical aspects of the places we visit very fascinating. If you want to read more, click here.

We began by touring the Royal Stables. The Riding Ground Complex is all that is left of the 1st Christiansborg Palace. So, they date back to 1738. The stables were actually quite magnificent and the horses we saw were very beautiful. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get good pictures through the bars. The stables also had a wonderful collection of old carriages. Some of them were several hundred years old. Very neat!

After leaving the stables, we headed over to the Royal Reception Rooms. (Sorry, the pictures aren't great, apparently you aren't even suppose to take pictures in here, so Chad, being the sneak he his, sneakily snapped a few pictures with no flash.) As we walked through these rooms, I just found myself constantly gasping in awe, or something like that. They were so beautiful and so much of the artwork was just amazing! We were lucky to be there on a non-busy day. We were able to wander through the rooms, almost by ourselves. The kids got a little bored of it after a while, and ended up entertaining themselves walking from room to room pretending to be princesses. Of course Lexi’s favorite was the “pink” room, but I loved the Library. Myra favored the “ball room.” It was really a great experience.

After that, we went under the Palace to tour the Castle Ruins. When they were working on building the 3rd Christiansborg Palace, they came across ruins from Absalon Castle and Copenhagen Castle that date back to 1167. Instead of covering them over, they built them into a room and they have been opened for visitors since the 1920’s. They were a little creepy, not lit very brightly, but I thought they were great. It was fun walking through them and seeing these structures that were so old. I always feel this way when walking through old places, I can’t help but wonder who once walked the same paths as I am.

We thoroughly enjoyed walking through Christiansborg Palace. It was a fun activity. When we left there, we briefly peeked into Christiansborg Chapel. It was very beautiful and simple. Across from the Palace and Chapel is a canal and as we were crossing it, we noticed something different. We've crossed this way many times, but this was the first time we saw that there was a statue in the water! The statue is called the Merman and his 7 Sons. I looked it up when I got home and apparently the statue is based on a Danish folk story: Agnete was a young peasant girl who was walking by the shore as a merman emerged from the waves and offered her his hand. Agnete fell in love with him immediately and went to the bottom of the sea with him, where she gave birth to his seven sons. After eight years, however, as she was sitting by the crib of her youngest son, Agnete heard the sound of churchbells ringing from her old village, and she felt homesick. She got permission from the merman to go to church, on the one condition that she would come back to him after mass. But of course, once on land again, Agnete found that she missed the church and her family too much, and she wouldn’t return.

The statue is a depiction of the Merman and the 7 sons facing toward land, in despair, begging Agnete to come back to them.

(I found this picture online, you can see it a little better.)

Kind of a sad little tale, huh? I thought it was a neat sculpture though! After that, we ended up on the Strøget again. There were a lot of people there, but it was eerily quiet, given that all the shops were closed, except for a few food venues and the Danish Pancake Carts. We walked down to Nyhavn. Nyhavn is a waterfront, canal, and entertainment district that was built in 1670. It was actually dug by Swedish prisoners of War. Apparently it was notorious for beer, sailors and prostitution. There are a bunch of historic boats lined up against the harbor and with the colored buildings in the background, it looks amazing! We walked the length of it though, and I found it a bit lacking. Almost every building is now a restaurant/bar of some sort. The street is lined with tables, filled with glammed up people sipping their champagne, or something of the sort. Definitely not much of a family destination. Still, it was neat to see.

After leaving there, we headed back to the train, to head home. We went out to eat, for the first time since being here in Denmark. (with the exception of street vendor food/bakeries.) There’s a restaurant here called Mr. Chicken. It’s been highly recommended by our missionaries, who eat there 2 or 3 times a week. (We’ve seen them.) It was nice to not have to cook dinner! Fun ending to a fun day.