Ten Days

It was the 10 days I had been dreading. Ten days alone with the kids. Ten days with little support on the home front. Ten days with my husband out of the country.

So…how did it go?

I would say we had more ups than downs.

It started with Thanksgiving. My husband left on Wednesday and the girls and I “celebrated” Thanksgiving. By “celebrated”, I mean we had leftover soup and said “Happy Thanksgiving” to each other and a few other Americans at the international school.

I did do some shopping on Black Friday. It was definitely not as crazy as Black Friday in the USA though. The first store I purchased a snowsuit for Avery at 30% off. I was also the only one in the store. No pushing or grabbing here.

The next store was a hardware store. I was just looking for an extension cord and light bulbs. I know, I’m a crazy shopper. This store did have a line. It was quite busy for the small town but still nothing comparable to what we would see in the USA. There were no stores in our area open at ridiculous times and everyone was very cordial to each other. The store even served coffee. It was actually quite enjoyable as far as Black Friday shopping goes.

Saturday was my birthday! Wooo!! But after turning 21, I don’t feel like birthdays are quite as exciting as they were in my youth. The girls did sing me “Happy Birthday” and Claire gave me a card. We spent the day with some friends. We enjoyed lunch at the Lego House and attended a very Danish Christmas gathering. It involved making traditional Danish ornaments (including the Danish hearts), eating copious amounts of fresh æbleskiver and pebernodder (girls loved it), drinking gløgg and singing a Danish Christmas song while holding hands and dancing around the Christmas tree. Dancing around the tree is a big tradition in Denmark and I’ve already done it twice so far.

And the sun shone with little cloud cover for two full days!!!!!

The next week started off with lighting of the advent candle and opening the advent calendar. You can find both of these things at practically every store in Denmark. Hardware store, grocery store, Lego store, etc. Which is (of course) why our advent calendar is Lego Harry Potter.

Tuesday was a BIG day! First, Claire had a bake sale at school. I made banana bars with cream cheese frosting. They were all gone by the time I picked her up and her class raised a good amount of money to donate to the Red Cross. That evening, Claire had a karate test. She’s been going to karate twice a week and continues to enjoy it. Tuesday was the day to put all her knowledge to the test. And……SHE PASSED! We are so proud of her!

The next afternoon we got to participate in a nisser (elves) hunt. The girls had a blast racing around the town and trying to find all the nisser. There was also a prize at the end along with more æbleskiver, pebernodder and gløgg. They had a great time.

Friday came with another evening to hangout with friends. We enjoyed pizza and the Kolding light festival. It was not quite what I expected. I was expecting more Christmas type lights and scenes like what is common in the states. This was mainly projections and strobe type lighting. The girls LOVED it. We strolled around downtown Kolding first checking out all the projections. There was a giant tree in the center of the festival that also had a type of light show going on. The projection matched the windows of the building and it showed a story of something ongoing within the building. Due to the amount of people in the area and running children, I didn’t quite get to see the whole show.

Claire’s favorite spot was by the Spanish stairs. It involved different colored spotlights changing and moving to the beat of music. She had a blast dancing around and getting lost in the lights. Avery, on the other hand, was not a big fan and stayed by my side until our friend was able to coax her out to dance with her.

We walked around the shopping areas which were also lit up as well before we made our way to the Koldinghus castle. The castle was lit up in changing colors. When we arrived, there was a fire breathing show but we only caught the very end of it. The kids were a bit disappointed about that. We then ventured into the castle and started climbing the stairs. I did not count how many stairs we climbed but by the end I was out of breath. It was a LOT of stairs. And I had to carry my three year old for half of it. Cardio workout!

But the view was awesome! We were at the very top of the castle which is also on one of the highest points in Kolding. We were able to lookout over the city and lake. Avery, who had to do little work to get to the top, was ready to go back down to the bottom after about one minute at the top. She was cold! So ready in fact, she just started walking down the stairs without an adult. Stubborn, that one.

Back down the stairs we went. By the time we reached the bottom, we decided to call it a night. It was late for the kids and us parents were pretty tired as well. The weather was also rainy and cold.

That night we had the biggest down moment of the 10 days. Avery got sick. Throw up sick. It started at 3 AM. I heard it and immediately ran to her room. Why does it always seem to happen in the middle of the night? WHY??

Well to make this story funnier, I lifted her up and started carrying her to the bathroom. Unfortunately, she regurgitated on the tile floor resulting in me slipping on her vomit and falling into it. Excellent.

The rest of the night was spent with clean up, laundry and a few more episodes of sickness.

The next morning, she was fine. She was running around the house with clean underwear on her head chasing her sister. Since her sister ate the same thing she did, I have no idea why she was sick. She just had a lower appetite the rest of the weekend but seemed perfectly normal. *shrug*

On Sunday afternoon, the husband arrived back at home. We showered him with homemade drawings, a welcome back sign and kisses.

We’re so happy to have him back on Denmark soil!

Vejret and the past week

Vejr means weather in Danish and the “et” means “the”.

“The Weather”

The weather is one of the topics I get asked the most about when comparing Iowa to Denmark. Recently, the weather has been less than great here.

I follow DMI or Danish Meteorological Institute (USA comparison: NOAA and NWS) on Twitter. I had felt like November was a dreary month. Drearier than it should be for fall in November even in this maritime nation. Turns out it was. According to DMI on November 26, Denmark had only averaged 25 hours of sunshine. Twenty-five hours for an entire month!!!!! Yikes! The unofficial November 2019 total looks to be around 34.7 hours (average November is 52 hours of sunshine). The record is actually 19 hours set in 1993 so I guess it could be worse.

When the sun finally came out for almost 30 minutes one day, I was super excited. I almost rolled down the windows in the car before I remembered it was only a balmy 40°F out.

A good thing about the clouds and rain is that the temperatures have stayed above freezing most days. The temperatures don’t roller coaster as much as they do in the Midwest. Our area has been stuck around 40°F most days (give or take 5°F). The lows and highs are typically always within 10°F. For example, this week’s forecast (in °F):

Monday: 41°/32°
Tuesday: 46°/42°
Wednesday: 47°/43°
Thursday: 46°/44°
Friday: 49°/43°

Chance of rain almost everyday.

My husband and I also joke about how the percentage chance of rain seems to mean something entirely different here. Ten percent chance seems to mean it’ll rain but just not all day. The higher the chance of rain the longer it’ll last. But there is always a chance of rain. Again, it’s a maritime nation, makes complete sense.

So to beat the already settling in winter blues, we decided to venture to an outdoor skating rink in Esbjerg.

The rink was nestled in downtown Esbjerg and we were there just after it opened. It definitely had a wonderful Christmas vibe going with the little Christmas shops, shopping mall and huge tree with lights.

I was excited to get on the ice again. Before you go thinking I’m a figure skater, I am not. I would say I’m more of a speedskater. Oh. And I don’t know how to stop. My stopping is the nearest wall or body. But I do know how to stay upright on skates and turn. I figured the rink would have a lot of newbies like the rest of my family.

This was Claire’s first time skating. She tends to struggle with things she is not immediately good at. After just five minutes, she wanted to give up. We tried to coach her, give her support, some tough love and encouragement. Finally, we just left her alone. That did the trick. She ventured out on her own a little bit and by the time we left, she was smiling and saying she had a great time.

Avery, on the other hand, tried it once. There were little whale ice skating aids and she made herself very comfortable on one. She enjoyed having her parents push her around the rink. There was even a little slide and we went down it multiple times.

Over an hour later, we called it a day. Claire had fallen a few too many times and Avery was SSSSSOOOOO hungry. The girls had noticed the McDonald’s right next to the rink so that was the place we decided to eat lunch. It was a quick lunch as we needed to get back to our car before our time expired on our spot.

After lunch, we drove to the Men at Sea statues. As the name suggests, it is a statue that sits in Esbjerg harbor. It is four males staring out to sea. Four 30 foot tall men. Apparently, ships can see the monument 6 miles out at sea on a clear day.

Claire was in awe of them and enjoyed climbing under them. She also liked seeing the ocean again and found many sea shells before we left (Avery was not interested and did not get out of the car).

We then stopped at an open thrift store and the girls got some roller skates. They were so excited to learn to ice skate we decided we should start teaching them to skate on wheels. We lucked out that the thrift store had skates in their shoe sizes (and mine).

As soon as we got home, they wanted to skate so we went out and gave them a try. Nobody took too big of a tumble…

The next day, we went to our first Danish Christmas market. It was fairly small but the girls were able to do some crafts. They made paper snowmen, foam clay snowmen and ate Pebernødder, a traditional Danish Christmas cookie. We weren’t sure if it was worth the drive to the market but the girls had a great time and we decided that it was a fun day.

The Christmas market was just the start of Christmas celebrations in Denmark. We’ve danced around the Christmas tree twice so far, eaten Christmas food and made Danish Christmas decorations. And with only 44 hours of average sunlight expected in December, I understand how Danes embrace the Christmas season so enthusiastically. Now we’ll just have to see if we get a white Christmas (chance of a nationwide Denmark white Christmas is only 8%).