One Month

We’ve been in Denmark over one month. Here are a few things I’ve learned written in my dad’s favorite western movie format:

The Good
Denmark is beautiful. They encourage getting out and enjoying nature. Our town has nature trails that run through a forest, next to a stream and bridges are placed throughout the town. Everything is also very green (due to the chance of rain nearly everyday). Plants seem to be constantly blooming.

The houses are colorful and many have hollyhocks or climbing roses on the front. Every windowsill has knick-knacks or plants. Orchids are a common sight. The windows are typically open to enjoy the fresh air.

We are able to walk to the bakery, park, grocery store, pharmacy, etc. After living in the country for three years, it is nice to be able to stroll through town and get items I need without doing the car seat struggle with the girls and driving all the way to town.

The beach is also not too far away so we are able to enjoy that on warm, sunny days (doesn’t happen often).

Speaking of the weather, it was a pretty nice summer. I am not a fan of hot, humid weather(=Midwest summers). Typical days here have been a mix of sun and clouds with a chance for rain. Highs are right around 70°F. We did have a heatwave in July and while it was warm, it wasn’t the humidity we experience in the Midwest. We were able to get through it with a fan and beach trip.

Ice cream saved us from the heat

Every Dane we converse with has been friendly. English is a second language here (the first being Danish). We are able to get through most conversations and everyone has been nice. No eye rolls or attitude. Lots of patience and helpfulness.

There also seems to be a lot of thought on the environment here as well. Plastic bags are not available in stores unless you purchase them. Most people seem to have reusable tote bags. Recycling containers are provided by the municipality. Wind turbines are everywhere and solar panels are seen on a lot of houses and in the countryside. Bike lanes are in every town with extensive trails through the country. Public transportation is also widely available even in the countryside.

A major plus is that the girls also LOVE their school. They get to make new friends from many different backgrounds and cultures. I am excited as well to meet new international parents. Fingers crossed I don’t say something stupid. Kids have it so much easier. They just say “Do you want to play?” BAM! Instant friend. I get in my head too much and worry about what I’m saying. Doing my best to relax and just be myself!

The Bad

Obviously, there is a language gap. Everything is written in Danish. So with my celiac disease, I have to look carefully at the ingredients list for the Danish words for wheat, rye, barley, etc. Grocery items are also packaged smaller than their US counterparts. I miss being able to buy grocery items in bulk sizes. I am lucky the grocery store is nearby because I’m running there every other day.

Denmark paper towel vs. USA paper towel

Small. Everything is smaller than items compared to the USA. A few of my pans don’t fit in the oven. The washer and dryers are smaller. The cars are small. Not a huge issue but it has taken some getting use to.

The weather can be an issue with the rain. But one of the sayings to live by in Denmark is that “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” (Alfred Wainwright). There’s even a book written about it (There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Åkeson McGurk). This is taking some getting used to for us especially my youngest. She also complains about walking more than 100 meters (working on my metric). And walking is what you need to do in Europe to sight see and get around. That is our never ending battle right now.

Again. Metric. Trips me up constantly.

The Ugly

Paperwork.

So much paperwork.

I feel like there is a never ending checklist. Once we check one item off the list, there is another item. A lot of waiting has happened in July and it’s continuing into this month. We’ve had our photos taken, seen our doctors, visited citizen services multiple times and waited. I’m hoping this part of moving abroad will end this month or the next. I may be dreaming…

I do miss my career. Moving over here, I had to abandon my career completely. Although I was only part-time/fill-in at the station, it did give me a little more sense of purpose. I know…I know. Being a mom is an important job and probably the most important one I’ll ever have. But it’s also pretty thankless and monotonous with the constant cleaning, prepping for school and taxi work. Working at KWWL gave me a break from that. I also miss my chats with my friends in the weather department and tracking severe weather.

Homesickness is starting. We miss family greatly. I’m sad we can’t share these experiences with our family in person. My girls won’t get to have both sets of grandparents at their events. We’re doing what we can with video chats but it’s just not the same. Avery will still ask if we can go to grandma’s house or the cousins’ houses after we video chat. It’s hard to explain to a three year old that it’s harder to visit family now.

And finally:

The days are getting shorter. By the winter solstice, we’ll have just seven hours of daytime with the sun rising around 8:40 and setting at 15:40. Yikes. I’ve been warned that the winters are gray, dreary and dark. Yippee!

I’m going to go enjoy some sunshine now before winter arrives….

First Day of School

WWWWOOOOOOOOOHHHOOOO!!!!!

School has officially started in Denmark.

We were sssssoooooo ready for school to start in our household. The night before the first day of school, Claire could hardly sleep because she was excited and scared. I just laid down beside her and explained that mommy was a bit scared too. I would be meeting new parents and I absolutely did not want to make a fool of myself. We both said we would be brave.

Avery said she was scared but luckily for her, parents are allowed to be at school the first day for as long as they want. It is seen as a way to ease kindergartners into the school schedule.

We arrived right on time and Claire was just jumping up and down. This girl loves school! She gave me a hug and went on her way to her classroom.

Avery was a little different. She gets to spend the first 30-45 minutes outside in the playground. The playground consists of sand toys, tire swings, jungle gym and even a little road for tricycles/bikes. I had to figure out the morning routine of checking in and learning the rules of the school. We said hi to many teachers who informed me of the typical school day, after school care and the flexibility of it all. For example, you do not have to pick up your child at a set time every day. I was told to feel free to just pick them up when I’m able to as long as it’s before 5 PM.

All the parents were friendly. We were all in the same boat together. The boat of easing our children into school and then slowly backing out the door.

After playground time, we took off her rain gear (raining again) and changed in to her indoor shoes. No dirt in these classrooms!

First was circle time with the book “Knuffle Bunny” by one of our favorites authors, Mo Willems.

Then it was SNACK TIME! We sat down to eat and Avery turned to me and said “Mom, leave.”

Welp. I guess this wasn’t so hard. I asked her again if she was sure she wanted me to leave and again she told me to go. So off I went to explore the town. Avery had an early out for the first day so I didn’t want to drive all the way home for just a couple hours.

The rain had ended and I found a coffee shop and the thrift shops. I’m on the hunt for a mixer as we don’t want to buy new appliances since our stay here is for a limited time.

At noon, I went and picked Avery up and she greeted me with a smile. We actually swung at the playground for another 30 minutes or so. We then found a little indoor play area with (of course) Legos.

Claire was let out at 2 PM. She talked all afternoon about the friends she made, the Danish she learned, her teachers and all the neat activities.

Needless to say, the first day was a success.

The rest of the week has been great too. I’ve learned the Danish school system is very laid back. Less on tests, more on a child’s happiness. Learning through playing. Parents don’t have to have a set schedule for drop off and pick up. The official school day runs from 8 AM to 2 PM. The rest of the time, a child can be picked up or stay for some additional activities throughout the afternoon. Claire has begged me for her to stay longer so they will likely be staying later once or twice a week.

Avery has also been doing better each day. Drop off is still tough. She wants mommy to stay with her until they go into the classroom. And let’s be honest, I don’t mind the additional love either. By pick up, she doesn’t want to leave and is fighting me out the door to stay. Toddlers <eyeroll>…

What have I been doing?

Unpacking.

Our sea shipment arrived from the states and I’ve realized we brought too much stuff. I’m trying to find places to put everything and the endless amount of toys. A literal box mountain is in our house now.

I’ve also started learning Danish. It is considered to be one of the hardest languages to learn. I find the grammar ok but the dialect and vowels are going to trip me up. It will definitely be a challenge.

Below is a little sketch done by some Norwegian comedians about the Danish language and it’s dialect. (It’s in English and does contain some language)

Hav en goddag! (I think that’s right…)

Family Trip #2 + Claire’s Thoughts

Playing catch up here so the next few posts will be about our trips we’ve taken before I forget the details of each one.

While our house was still empty, we decided to make another weekend trip. This time we headed to the northern tip of Denmark, Grenen.

The town of Skagen is just south of there and is a big draw for tourist and weekenders. The reason Grenen is so popular is because it has an interesting feature. It is where the Skagerrak and Kattegat Seas meet. They crash together at the most northern tip and are constantly changing the landscape there. It is an awesome site to visit and this was my second time experiencing it.

This time was much more enjoyable because 1) it was warm & sunny compared to the the windy, rainy time we had previously and 2) it was also the first time the girls saw the ocean.

As you can see, they loved it. BUT they hated the sand. Sand. In. Everything.

Skagen Grå Fyr to the south
Notice the big ships in the distance. Waiting to come to port from off shore oil rigs.

After Skagen, we headed south to catch a few more sites.

The next was Den Tilsandede Kirke or the sand buried church. The church was built some time in the 14th century. Unfortunately by the 18th century, sand began to overtake the church and the congregation had to dig it out to be able to attend services. In 1795, the sand won and the church was closed. Now only the tower is accessible.

We decided to climb the stairs to the top and looked out over the horizon.

View from the church window

Not going to lie, I was a bit nervous with my 3 year old walking/climbing up the steep steps. She did fine of course but a mom always worries.

After a quick stop at the playground, which had a slide version of the church, we headed west to Bindslev.

Bindslev has a picture perfect fish ladder and power station. I did not know what a fish ladder was but man, it is beautiful.

Our girls were still angels at the point and quietly enjoying the scenery (NOT). They were complaining about being starved and how bad their feet hurt and how boring it was to just look at water. *sigh*

I didn’t get to quietly enjoy this scenic stop as much as I would have liked.

We headed to Burger King for supper (gluten free buns!!!).
After a potty accident in the Burger King ball pit (life with kids), we made our way to our last destination. Another monument being threatened by sand. Rubjerg Knude Fyr.

Wow! This was well worth the drive and 15-20 minute hike with a 3 year old on your back.

This is a lighthouse that is being threatened by the wind and sea. The lighthouse sits on the edge of a cliff and the sea is eroding the shore and the wind is shifting the sand farther inland. There will be an attempt this month to move the lighthouse as it will likely crash into the sea if it is not moved.

Walking up to the lighthouse, you see lush, green fields. Sheep were grazing nearby. Then all of a sudden, it’s like the Sahara Dessert. Sand is taking over the vegetation.

Climbing to the top of the lighthouse did test how brave we were. The girls and I were a little shaky. The winds were very powerful at the top and the cliff is just…right there. It is a LLLLOOONNNNGGG way down. While it was a breathtaking view, I was ready to climb back down.

Me realizing I do have a fear of heights….

Claire’s Thoughts on Denmark

Hej! My thoughts on Denmark are pretty good. I miss my friends and family a lot sometimes. The sights are very nice. It. Rains. A. Lot. I have mostly been playing Hatchimals and going on walks. I loooooooove Denmark! Hej hej!