Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Big Hill

Denmark is Flat.  Really flat.  Except for a few of these hills that seem to pop up here and there.  Come to find out, they are basically covered over dumps.  We kept hearing everyone talk about this Hill we should go to, where you can see all around the area.  The girls had both gone with their school groups, but we had yet to go as a family.  So, one Saturday, we set out to find the big hill.  It was a beautiful ride through the surrounding forest, then the land opens up into just grassy fields and the hill.  It's gated all the way around it because they graze sheep on the land.  They were pretty friendly sheep, letting us go up to them, pet them and feed them.  We made quick time up to the top and enjoyed the view for a while.  It was super windy!  But, it was fun to be able to see all the way into Copenhagen and even across the channel to Sweden.  We didn't stay up the hill too long, because of the storm moving in, but it was a fun little outing.  We have really enjoyed exploring the area right around us.

View into Copenhagen

So Windy and the Best we could Get

Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Slow Cooker Heaven

When we moved to Denmark, I was shocked to find out that they have NO SLOW COOKERS HERE!  What??????!!!!!!!??????  I was pretty bummed because I use my slow cooker a lot!  In the past 6 months, I've said over and over again, "life would be so much easier with a Slow Cooker."  I guess my constant complaints finally wore Chad down, because he started looking around and found that Amazon.UK sells Slow Cookers and ships them to Denmark!  Yay!!!  Within minutes, we had one purchased and on its way.  Well, guess what showed up today!  My brand new, straight from England, Slow Cooker!  And I've already got dinner in it cooking!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

6 Months In

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since we moved to Denmark.  Looking back is an interesting thing.  Sometimes it seems like the time has flown by and at other times, it seems like it’s been an eternity.  In all honesty, it has been a really hard 6 months.  Maybe the hardest 6 months I’ve ever experienced.  We have come a long way and accomplished a lot during that time though.  I cringe thinking back about those first few weeks and the trials we went through trying to get settled in.  Numberless are the times I’ve wondered what in the world we are doing here and wishing we could just go back home.  But now, 6 months in, we feel much more settled and are finding that for the most part, we like Denmark.

  Chad’s schooling is going well.  The program he is in is great and the faculty he works with are wonderful.  As far as schooling goes, I don’t think he could have come across a better opportunity.  Myra is her usual cheerful self and has learned a lot of Danish.  She now tells people here not to speak to her in English anymore.  Lexi is coming out of her shell more and more.  She really likes her teachers and is starting to make some friends in her class.  She uses what Danish she knows the most out of any of us.  Noah is talking more and more, although I worry about him having a speech impediment.  He uses the Danish word for no (nej) about 99% of the time.  He loves his Nursery class.  And I’m starting to learn more and more Danish, finding that it’s already starting to come in handy.  I’ve been able to re-invent my Etsy business and once again find myself busy with work.  Although the past 6 months have been a struggle, we have been very blessed in many ways.  Although I often feel that I have a love/hate relationship with Denmark, I know that we will look back on these 3 years with much gratitude for the experience.

I thought it would be fun to post a list of things we miss from the States and a list of things we like about Denmark.  It will be interesting to see if and how much this list changes during out time here.

Things we miss:
* Our Family and Friends!  Desperately!  I’m so grateful for skyping and internet communications, but it is not the same.  I often feel quite depressed at how long it will be before we see our loved ones again. 
*Nena, our dog.  At least every couple of days, Noah will randomly blurt out, “I miss Nena.”
*A Car!  Public Transportation sucks!  Enough said!
*A garbage disposal.  We actually have to separate all of our garbage, including food garbage, and it’s just gross sometimes!
*A crockpot.  Yes, they do not make crockpots in Denmark.  I could probably make a fortune if I were able to import them.
*Walmart, yes, Walmart.  One stop shopping that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.  Here, you still end up with the crappy made in China junk, but it’ll cost a fortune.
*Some foods, like sticks of butter, cans of creamed soups, brownie/cake/muffin mixes, peanut butter cups, butterfingers, pudding, jello, chocolate chips, etc.
*American Restaurants and American Restaurant pricing!  It’s so expensive to eat out here!  The cheapest “fast food” place we’ve found still sets us back over $20 for a couple of hamburgers and fries.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a Taco Bell, Wingers and Café Sabor!
*Warm Weather!  Seriously, it’s July 19th and the weather has only gotten out of the 60’s this year for about 5 days.  I have to wear my jacket whenever I leave the house. 
Unfortunately, this list could probably go on and on.  I find that I miss things, not just because I miss them, but because they were what I was used to.  I’m sure someone moving to Utah from Denmark would feel the same way.
So, here are some of the things I love about Denmark:
*The People!  We have met some really fantastic people.  Especially our ward.  They have been so kind and welcoming.  It’s been a real blessing.
*The bike paths.  They are everywhere and they often go through some really pretty areas around the city.  I have probably ridden my bike more the past 6 months than ever before in my life.
*Saft.  I’m not sure why they don’t have this in the US.  They are concentrated drinks that come in a variety of flavors.  Just add water.  It’s great.
*The Sight-Seeing!  Denmark is beautiful and so full of such rich and old history.  In 6 months, we have been to so many amazing places and I feel like we are just touching the surface.  I’m so excited to explore more of this country and Europe in general.
*Pastries.  Yum!  No, they do not make “Danishes” in Denmark, but the pastries they do have are amazing!  And you can find little bakeries all over the place.
*The Rain.  Yes, it rains a lot and often I just want it to stop, but, it makes the area so beautiful!  Everywhere we go, it’s so green and lush.  I really like that.

So, here's to another 2 1/2 years.  We are 1/6th of the way done!  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Visit from the States

We were so excited to have Chad's parents, Grammy and Grandad come to visit us!  We've all missed family so much, it was so wonderful to have them visit us.  It was a whirlwind vacation.  They were here for 11 days and we were busy, busy, busy!  We saw so many things, it was crazy.  Vacation in numbers:  2 Countries, 6 Castles, 3 Castle Ruins, 1 Fortress, 2 Museums, 8 days of rain, 1 Cathedral and who knows how many Medieval Churches, not to mention over 2500 pictures!  It was Great!  We were all so very sad to see them go.  Here is a summation of the 11 days we got to spend with them.  Thank you for visiting us Grammy and Grandad!

Day 1 - Grammy and Grandad Arrive. Hugs.  Kisses.  Tears.  Unpack.  Breakfast.  City Hall Building.  Strøget.  Crazy.  Rosenborg Castle. 

Day 2 - Rental Car.  Church.  Nice! Chad's Work.  Temple.  Fredricksberg Park.  Elephants.  Castle.  Chasing Geese.  Binky Tree.  

Day 3 - Kronborg Castle.  Casemates.  Climbing the tower.  Noah Dancing on tower.  Silly Kids.  Drive up Zealand Coast.  Beach.  Cold.  Windy.  Medieval Church.  View.  Asserbo Castle Ruins.  Beautiful. 

Day 4 - Copenhagen.  Church of our Lady.  Christus Statue.  Peaceful.  Round Tower.  What a view!  Christiansborg Palace.  National Museum.

Day 5 - Sweden.  Beautiful.  Rainy.  Myra & Throw-up + Car.  Dr. Pepper.  Bohus Castle Ruins.  Favorite!  So old.  Marstrand.  Archipelago.  Amazing.  Carlsten Fortress.  Dark.  Dungeon.  What a view!  Moose.  Late night.


Day 6 - Lazy Morning.  Guys Golfing.  Roskilde.  Cathedral.  Love it.  Kabobs. Creepy Bathroom.  Viking Museum.  Grumpy Noah.  Baby Ducks. 

Day 7 - Copenhagen.  Driving through Copenhagen.  Scary.  The Marble Church.  Scaffolding. =(  Still beautiful.  Amalienborg Palace.  No Queen.  Changing of the Guards.  The Little Mermaid.  Underwhelming.  Crowded.  Kastellet.

Day 8 - Relaxing.  Tour Albertslund.  Medieval Church.  Cemetary.  Squirrel.  Driving on the Bike Path.  Kongholmsparken.  The Hill.

Day 9 - Rental Car.  Church.  Still nice!  Nothing.  Relaxing.  No Pictures.

Day 10 - Vordingborg Castle Ruins.  Chad on Scary Wall.  Looking for Viking Burial Mounds.  Antique Shop.  Møns Klint.  Rain.  A lot of Rain. 494 Steps down.  Fossils.  494 Steps up.  Stege.  Dinner.  Islands.  Damsholte Church.

Day 11 - Hillerød.  Fredricksborg Castle.  Picturesque.  Museum of National History.  Lots of Paintings.  Rooms and Rooms of Paintings.  And some more Paintings.  Dressing Up.  Baroque Gardens.  Boat Ride.  Ice Cream.  Crazy Guy Singing. Playground. Dizzy. Swings.  Zipline.  Til 10pm.  Sad Night.  Goodbyes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bedroom Experiment

Warning: This post might lower your opinion of us as parents - read with caution.

Some families have very clean houses, and seem to effortlessly maintain said cleanliness - this is not our house. As parents Shannon and I sometimes feel like all we do is ask our kids to clean up their stuff, especially in their bedroom. From our perspective we viewed these requests as teaching opportunities and expect our kids to responded dutifully; our kids however feel that we are actually implementing an ancient form a torture and resist with all their will power. This usually leads to tension, escalating voices, and finally tears (note: the desired outcome, "a clean room", is not always achieved).

A couple of weeks ago I had a proverbial "light-bulb" moment: "maybe our kids don't need us to tell them to clean their room so much, maybe if we gave them a little more freedom they would make the choice themselves, and keep their room at least at an acceptable level of clean". The possibilities seemed endless, I could already see a home where parent and child interact as equals treating each other with respect and understanding, yelling would be a thing of the past, peace and harmony would abound, cats and dogs would play together, and conversation would often spontaneous erupt into song (actually spontaneous singing does occurs almost daily in our home). All this could be ours if only we as parents could relinquish our need to control and dictate our kids' lives - it was so simple.

I decided to set up an experiment, and Shannon was willing to participate. We agreed that for the next week we would not say anything to the kids about cleaning their room. This included not asking them to: put dirty clothes in the laundry room, make their beds, or remove the piles of hoarded toys that always seem to accumulate on their beds. We also would not do anything ourselves to mess up the room (e.g., throwing toys in their room that were left out in the family room).

To start the experiment I spent the afternoon with the kids cleaning up the room really well, which included: organizing books, pulling stuff out from under the beds, removing the drawers and getting the clothes that had fallen behind out, etc. And then we stepped back and waited for the magic to begin.

To document the progress of the experiment we took pictures each day.

 Day 0
 Day 1
Unfortunate they decided to get the doll house out on the first day
This was a hard day for us as parents, we had put a lot of effort in to getting the room really clean, it would have only take a few words and maybe 10 minutes to get the room cleaned up - but we resisted.

Day 2
Entropy begins to take over

Day 3

Day 4
Notice the blue bag in the left center of the room, Myra took the initiative to clean up the clothes, and began filling the bag - but she got distracted and abandoned the effort.

 Day 5
The doll house now serves as a bridge to help bypass some of the mess
 Day 6
 Day 7

Day 8
Our feelings after the first weeks was that things were not going in the right direction. On day 8, still not admitting to our experiment (nor did the kids seem to notice that we had not asked them to clean up, but they did ask why I was always taking pictures of their room), we instituted a program to reward them for doing certain acts around the house, many of which focused on their room. As a result a modest effort was made to clean up some of the mess.

Day 9
So much for cleaning
Day 12  
Last day

We did not quite make it to two weeks, the room got so bad that we had to terminate the experiment due to safety concerns. There were several times during the experiment that the kids hurt their feet by stepping on toys, however this did not motivate them to clean up the mess, I think more it just encouraged them to avoid going in their room.

Based on the results of this experiment we have to reject our hypothesis. Our conclusion is that kids, at least our kids, are not capable of managing their own living space in, what we consider, a reasonable manner without parental guidance.

On the last day I put together a slideshow of the pictures from each day of the experiment. We told them what we had done and then flipped through the pictures together. The kids were pretty shocked to see how bad the room had gotten in such a short time, when we got to the last picture (which represented the current state of the room) we sat and talked a while about their impressions and how they felt about their room. They were extremely uncomfortable with the messy picture and did not want to look at it, even asking to go back to the picture of the clean room.

Unfortunately the peace and harmony that I had hoped for did not materialize (as parents, once we got past our inclination to nag them to clean their room it was kind of nice not having to worry about it, but alas it was not meant to be). We are now back to where we stared, a nightly volley of "clean your room up" and "awwwhh, do we have to" or "mmmggg" (that is suppose to sound like a very annoyed guttural grunt that Lexi has perfected which is accompanied by a foot stomp).  But at least now we know that our parental efforts are needed, and our kids can't argue that they don't want a clean room.