Day Trips

So, it’s been a couple months since my last post….again.
Life has been continuing as “normal” here. The girls are still in school but COVID-19 continues to create issues across Denmark. The borders are pretty much closed unless you have a worthy purpose and a negative COVID-19 test to travel here. Travel is still unadvised and a strict 10-day quarantine policy is in place if you do travel (can be shortened if you test negative on day 4 of quarantine).
But Denmark is starting to open up! Many stores have opened and after Easter, hairdressers (and the like) were allowed to open. The reopening is expected to continue over the coming weeks if cases remain down and vaccinations continue. The only “but” is that everyone over the age of 15 must prove a negative test, antigens to COVID0 or vaccination to be able to enjoy many activities. Enter: the digital Coronapas. This app is the hope that the country can open up more and potentially allow more travel in the upcoming summer across Europe. *fingers crossed*

As in my last post, we really haven’t been able to travel that much as a family. But we have taken some daytrips around Denmark seeing trolls, snow and sea.

Day Trip #1

At the end of January, we decided to make a trip to Fanø, an island off the west coast of Jutland. Fanø is a very popular destination in the summer time for Danes and Germans.
The only way to reach Fanø is by ferry. We didn’t think it would be that busy (due to the time of year) so we arrived 15 minutes before departure. But many Danes must have had the same idea as us as the ferry lanes were full. We missed our original departure time but were on the next one about 30 minutes later.
Our first stop was to a local farm shop to get some meat. Next, we went to a playground. We have found that we are touring more playgrounds across Europe then actual historical sights. Anything to keep the girls entertained for an hour or so.
It was a cute playground in the forest. It had an obstacle type course, a wooden stacking game that four people controlled with ropes, and a huge, twirling green net (a favorite for the girls).

There were also wooden H.C. Andersen themed sculptures all around the park. We spotted the Little Mermaid, Thumbelina and the Princess and the pea.

It was rainy and chilly. The girls were warm running around the playground but mom and dad were ready to go after an hour of play. Next stop, the beach!
Ok…the beach wasn’t a great idea. It is the west coast of Denmark which usually means strong winds and cold. And it was definitely cold. We were able to drive on the beach and we found a good spot with a view of the ocean. With all our gear on, Claire and I got out of the car and explored the beach just a bit. But like I said, it was a brisk day so we walked to the ocean and back to the car before breaking out the hot chocolate I had packed.
The girls also witnessed their first wild seal pup.
Seal pups are very common in Denmark and are frequently seen along the northern and western coast. There are usually signs posted on the beach stating to give them space and to not worry, mom is usually out in the ocean waiting for them.
We kept our distance and I snapped a quick pic of the little guy.

Our next and last stop brought us geocaching and troll hunting. As I wrote in my last post, we have been searching for the Thomas Dambo troll statues. We found Anker Drømmefanger or Anchor Dreamcatcher at the top of a hill overlooking part of Fanø. Beautiful!

Day Trip #2

Our second trip brought us to another island, Fur.
Fur is located in the northern part of Jutland and is in Limfjord. It is a small island, only around 14 square miles. We had heard wonderful reviews from friends about the cliffs on Fur (and the brewery).

As with Fanø, Fur is only reachable by ferry. It was a much smaller ferry than Fanø but ran quickly as the distance is very short from the mainland to the island.
First, we drove to the brewery. We arrived here (not for the beer because it was closed due to COVID) but for a parking spot close to the cliffs and beach. As soon as we pulled in, it started snowing huge flakes. It was the prettiest snowfall we had seen in Denmark since arriving here. The girls immediately started playing in the snow and a snowball fight ensued.

After a good fight, we made our way through the trees towards Knudeklinterne (a cliff). The snow really offered a beautiful walk and it truly felt like a winter wonderland.

Finally, we reached the cliff. It was a bit blustery near the cliff so we were sure to keep the girls back off the ledge.

We then headed south along the coast. We were trying to find a safe descent down to the beach. It was quite a walk but we eventually found a safe trail on the SW corner of the island.
The beach offered a different view of the cliffs. They looked especially gorgeous with the snow along their faces.

After a long while on the beach looking for shells and rocks, we started making our way back towards the car. The sky really opened up at this point and it was snowing hard by the time we got back.

We then decided to drive to the Molermand statue. This area provides a look out over a mining sight on Fur that mines for lime/chalk. According to the sign posted next to the statue, mining in Fur started in 1925 and still continues today. It is on a raised spot and looks down towards what is called the Bispehuen (the bishop hat). The Bispehuen is a reference to show how deep miners have cut into the earth. It shows the stratification of the soil.

We drove next to the northside of the island and parked at Steilklippe. The sun was out and most of the snow had melted. Avery decided she was too cold so Claire and I headed out to find two geocaches in this location. The setting sun really offered an awesome view of the the northern cliffs of Fur. It was a great view to end the day.

Day Trip #3

Our next trip was to Ebeltoft. Ebeltoft sits along the sea on Ebeltoft fjord. We could tell it is a tourist town but pretty much everything was closed (thanks COVID).
Before we arrived in Ebeltoft though, we went troll hunting. We stopped in the town of Mørke. Thomas Dambo has a giant AND troll here. First, we found “Sigurd, the Bird and the Red Thing” sitting in the middle of a tall hill. Since there was snow on the ground we also tried to sled down it on cardboard. (Side note: we forgot to bring our sleds to Denmark due to the fact there is usually little snowfall here. When it did snow, sleds were sold out across Denmark. So cardboard was our fill in (it worked ok).)

After a few trips up and down the hill, we made our way over to Mørkemanden/Ben Chiller (the giant).
We could tell Ben must have been one of the original sculptures by Thomas Dambo; he was in rough shape. Pieces of wood were missing and many boards were broken. But we were still happy to see in on that crisp morning.

Next, we made our way to Ebeltoft.
We found a parking spot (and a toilet) before making our way down to the harbor.
We were hoping the Maltfabrikken was open. It is an old malt factory that has been transformed into a cultural center full of restaurants, stores and a library. But again, due to COVID, it was closed. So we just walked around the outside of it looking at its structure and the view of the harbor.
Down at the harbor, we walked by the Fregatten Jylland, an old warship launched in 1860. It sits restored in Ebeltoft harbor and is part of a museum that offers many activities for families especially in the summer.

We then found a playground (always a must).
The girls played and the adults watched the ducks and people around the harbor.
Finally we decided that Ebeltoft didn’t have much else to offer us so we headed east out of town to Jernhatten, another cliff located on the east coast of Jutland.
The hike to Jernhatten reminded us a lot of Møns Klint. It required a lot of hiking, steep steps and offered a wonderful look over the sea. We even enjoyed some hot chocolate at the top of the cliff.

We were exhausted by the time we made it back to the car to drive home.

Day(s) Trip #4

This trip is actually a few days over the Easter vacation. In Denmark, many days around Easter are considered national holidays. Shops and businesses are typically closed down.
We decided to rent a little vacation home near a beach to get our fill of sand and sun. Another reason, it has a tub; a whirlpool to be exact. Oh how I miss a bathtub….
We spent three nights at the little house about 500 meters from the beach; Købingsmark Strand on the island of Als. For the kids, it had a loft with beanbag chairs, a swing/slide set and sand box.

When we arrived, we first read the meters. It is very common in Danish vacation homes to be charged on the amount of electricity and water you use. While unpacking, we heard a jingle down the road. Low and behold, the ice cream truck was making its way down our drive. The girls were so excited that they flagged him down and he pulled right up into our parking lot.
The ice cream man is a little bit different than back home. He’s more of a Schwan’s man. You pick out a combination of ice cream treats you would like and you receive an entire box of it. And you can pay electronically. It is never too cold for ice cream.
When we finished unpacking, we picked out our ice cream treat and made our way down to the beach to enjoy the sunset.

The next day was windy and chilly. After lunch, we walked to see a nearby lighthouse: Augustenhof Fyr.
It was only about a half mile from our vacation home. Luckily for us grown-ups, we ran in to a playground complete with an inflatable jump pad and tame cat.
We eventually reached the lighthouse after traversing through a field.

We walked back along the beach picking up rocks to paint and numerous seashells.
The rest of the day, I worked on a puzzle, the husband watched videos and the girls played.
That evening, Claire and I went back to the beach to watch the sunset. It was windy and cold but we had a good time sitting on the dock and hanging our feet over the edge to see if the waves would reach them (it did…twice).

The next day, I had to pull teeth to get my family out the door. The girls just wanted to play at the house while I wanted to go check out Nordborg. Saturday is one of the days that the shops are open during the Easter holidays (although they close early). So I was trying to get us out the door.

Our first stop was Nordborg Castle. It is now an efterskole (a type of boarding school). Unfortunately for us, the grounds were closed so we couldn’t even walk around outside it. But there is a great lake to walk around, IF you have the legs for it (my children do not).

We spent the rest of the time there pursuing the thrift store (we found a scooter, æbleskiver pan and pint glasses) and grocery store. Claire and the husband had decided they wanted to make a special meal that evening so they needed to get a few supplies.
We returned home and spent the rest of the day enjoying the sunshine (which can be rare in Denmark). The girls got their fill of sun and swings.

After a delicious meal that I didn’t have to cook, we went to enjoy our last sunset at the beach. It was the best night so far with the water so calm you could see the bottom of the seabed.

A beautiful ending to our short vacation away.

Gråvejr

The gray gloomy weather has settled over Denmark and I haven’t written a blog post in quite awhile.
The reasoning for this is well…COVID-19. (If you’re tired of COVID news, skip on down a few paragraphs.)

My family has not been infected but it has made a significant impact in Denmark…again. The second wave of the infection has hit. It first started with my daughters’ school.
There was a case, then another, and then the school closed for two weeks to allow the infection chain to break. Everyone who was a close contact was tested twice or instructed to stay isolated for seven days to see if symptoms developed. My oldest was tested and she was negative. Then the kindergartner staff was hit and my youngest was home for a total of 3 1/2 weeks. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Denmark so we were keeping her home because she had a runny nose, then her sister’s class closed, then her class was impacted. It was a long month but they were able to attend school for at least one week before Christmas.

Before the holidays though, the infection rate had been on the increase. The government first started introducing restrictions to the capital region and to two bigger cities. Then a week later it was expanded to more municipalities. Eventually it included the whole country. These restrictions were put in place December 20th:
-All restaurants, bars and cafes closed. Takeaway allowed
-All cultural institutions (museums, theaters, etc.) closed
-Youth sports and recreations must stop but professional may continue
-All grades above 0 (1st grade) must move to online learning. This includes adult education and university.
-Stores should make unification lines (moving in same direction in aisles) and allow only a certain number of customers depending on the size of the store
-Mask enforcement and limited number of people at gatherings continues
-Public gatherings must be under 10 people and outdoors if possible.

They also made strong recommendations that family members stay home for the holidays to avoid spreading the virus to older family members.

Unfortunately, around the holidays, the UK strain (B117) was discovered to be circulating in Denmark. That prompted more restrictions that went into effect on January 3rd. In addition to the above, restrictions now include:
-Gatherings should now be under 5 people even in private homes
-2 meters (6 ft) distance should now be maintained in public (it was 1 meter)
-No one is allowed to come into the country without a negative COVID test. The test must be less than 24 hours old from departure (at least by air).
-There are different restrictions for neighboring countries like northern Germany and Sweden but I think it only applies to those who need to commute on a daily bases (not entirely sure)

Which concludes why I haven’t written a blog post. When we’re not doing online learning with either Danish or my daughters’ class, we’re doing a different activity like playing a game or crafts. So I honestly haven’t had a chance to jump on the computer and write a long post.

We also haven’t traveled anywhere since Germany. Almost every country in Europe has closed or put in mandatory 10 or 14-day quarantine. We opted to stay in Denmark instead of traveling to the USA. It was an extremely difficult decision with lots of headaches from dealing with the airline agency and homesickness. But we feel it was the safest choice for our family and our older relatives.

So what have we been filling our times with?
Crafts, baking and some geocaching.

Since my last post, we’ve celebrated a couple of holidays. We had a unicorn and penguin for Halloween. There was no trick or treating this year but the school had a little celebration. I also did a little scavenger hunt for the girls (meaning I printed off someone’s template online). We even managed to spend a day at Legoland (before the stricter shutdown) to participate in Brick or Treat (you go from a little cabin to another in Legoland and pick up special treats).

The next holiday was Thanksgiving. We had to wait until the weekend to celebrate it since Denmark doesn’t celebrate this American holiday. We were able to find cranberries and a turkey. Everything on the table was homemade except the Jell-O and stuffing (my husband loves Stove Top; had to have it imported). We also put up the Christmas tree that day.

In between Thanksgiving and Christmas is when the restrictions really started to ramp up here in Denmark. So we spent the time outdoors geocaching in many forests across Denmark. Below are just a few pictures of all we’ve seen:

We have found a LOT of geocaches over the last couple months. It has also been getting colder. Not Midwest cold but just below freezing cold. The cooler temperatures allowed me to witness an ice phenomenon on one of our geocaching tours, frost flowers:

We also went looking for trolls! Thomas Dambo is a Danish artist and is known to make artwork from recycled materials or trash. During the past summer, he hid these giants trolls across Denmark naming it “The Journey to The Giant Troldefolkefest”. So we decided to go find a few. Here are the four we found:

Looking for Stærke Storm brought us on an art/sculpture walk in Silkeborg. We found some really amazing sculptures (including one that reminded me of the USA) and the girls had a great time playing some music on some outdoor percussion instruments.


We also explored a bunch of WWII bunkers. The Bunker Museum was closed for the winter months but many of the bunkers were open for us to explore. According to the Bunker Museum website, the Germans were becoming increasingly worried about an invasion from allied forces on the west coast of Denmark. So on November 5, 1943, around 350 officers, soldiers and personnel were ordered to move from Copenhagen to Silkeborg Bad. This location picked because it was close enough to control defenses on the coast but far enough away to be out of combat. Twenty-four bunkers were built by around 600 Danes in the span of eight months.

Finally, we stopped at the highest natural point in Denmark; Ejer Bavnehøj (which may actually be the 2nd highest; Møllehøj is 500 meters away and very close to the same height). On a clear day, one can possibly see the island of Samsø and the Little Belt Bridge that connects Jutland to Fyn.
Bad news: it was very foggy when we showed up. So we couldn’t see ANYTHING from the top of the tower. Good news: it had snowed! The girls were so excited to play a bit in the snow and throw snowballs at their parents.

And before we knew it, it was Christmas!
It wasn’t an easy Christmas. We missed family so very much. I missed a lot of my family traditions, seeing my extended family and so much more.
We did our best to keep some traditions going, most of it food related. We made Christmas candy, Wassil, and cookies. We also merged in some Danish foods like risalamande, pebernødder and æbleskiver. We ate well over the break (maybe too well).

Then it was New Years. We didn’t go anywhere because well…COVID but we did enjoy some family time. The girls made crafts, drank bubbly juice, watched a movie and tried to stay up to midnight (the eldest succeeded). We watched fireworks all night (they had been going off since 5 pm) and waited for the big show at midnight. Unfortunately, it was foggy and the town was trapped in smoke by 12:10 am. We couldn’t see a thing which seems like the correct ending to 2020. What a year!?!

Now Denmark remains in lockdown but cases are continuing to fall so there is hope. Here’s hoping for a better 2021.

Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Skole og Dagsture

So…it’s been awhile huh? We haven’t really traveled too much due to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. This post will fill you in on what’s been going on in our Danish lives.

First, the girls started school!

They are so happy to be back in school. They missed their friends and all the activities they get to do at school. I missed hearing their school stories.

As for my news, I’ve started language school.

I was already taking lessons but I wanted a bigger challenge. So I decided to dive head first into the language.
The teacher speaks 70% Danish the whole lesson so it’s been a tough. I find the listening and pronunciation of Danish very difficult.
For example, the above word “hyggelig” is pronounced ‘who-ga-ly’ (sort of). There are soft ds (pronounced as ls), ds you simply ignore completely and words that make no sense. “Nogle” is pronounced ‘noon’.

Yeah. It’s been frustrating and taking up a lot of my time.
I have homework and have been studying for my first test.
I’m happy to say I passed it but it was HARD. The written part was easy for me but the interview was difficult. I felt slow trying to translate the question in my head then repeat the answer back in Danish. I also didn’t use complete sentences and accidently answered in English a couple times. Oopss!
But hey; I still passed!

Due to my Danish lessons, I’ve been getting to know the Danish countryside more. I’ve been going on hikes/walks to pass the time while waiting for the girls to get out of school.
Below are just a few pictures I’ve taken on said hikes.

The stone columns in one of the pictures is from a German petrol pipeline that ran 8.5 km (around 5 miles) during WWII. Only these three columns remain.

We’ve also been busy harvesting the fruits around our place. It was one of the coldest July’s on record so my poor vegetable garden did not do well. I have a few tomatoes but everything else has suffered greatly.
But the fruit has been amazing.
We picked Aronia berries and I made some syrup from them. We used the syrup for ice cream and cocktails. My husband was a big fan of a whiskey sour I made with it.

We also picked our apple trees. The first thing I made was apple pie. I’ve also made several apple crisps. I made 11.5 pints of applesauce from 20 lbs of apples. We also spent some time with some Danish acquaintances and made 8 quarts of apple cider. Luckily, I had such enthusiastic helpers.

As for travel, we’ve stuck mostly to Denmark.
Now that the crowds have dwindled, we spent a day at Legoland. Claire was very excited to get back on a roller coaster and Avery wanted to go on all the rides all by herself. I had to beg to go on a few with her. She is Miss Independent (or stubborn).

We also made an escape to the west coast of Denmark.
We looked around at the WWII bunkers scattered across the beach. They are old concrete bunkers that were built by the Germans. One we looked at had housed a radar to find Allied planes coming from the west. Now they sit graffiti-ed and dilapidated on the beach.

We also took a short trip as a family to Tirslundstenen (the Tirslund Rock).

It’s a BIG rock! From what we translated (and I looked up online), it is the 7th biggest rock in Denmark. It is estimated to have been dropped off in Denmark during the last Ice Age. Legend has it that Harald Blåtand wanted the rock to use as a memorial for his mother and father. Unfortunately, he was unable to get the rock due to enemies and war. The legend continues that the iron sled that was to be used to haul it north is buried underground along with treasure. (Side note: Blåtand translates to Bluetooth. Bluetooth technology was named after Harald because he was known has a great communicator who helped unify the kingdom of Denmark.)
In 1792, a local priest tried to blow it up. He failed miserably. He only managed to blow a small piece off the top.
A lot of history from one big rock!

And speaking of rocks, we took a trip to Jelling to visit the most famous rocks of Denmark; the Jelling Stones.

Why are these rocks so famous? One rock, Gorm’s stone, mentions the name Denmark for the first time in history. It was believed to have been placed there around 950 AD by Gorm the Old in memory of his wife, Queen Thyra.

The second, Harald’s Stone, states that Harald Blåtand is king of all the land and that Christianity is the official religion of the Danes. It is also known as Denmark’s birth certificate and was carved around 965 AD.

And it’s not just some important runes, the museum has free entrance and is amazing! The first floor offers interactive graphics with artifacts and lot of history (and English as well). The stories are told with what looks like chalk art being drawn on a blackboard in real time. It’s really quite amazing. There’s also some interactive parts for kids to keep them interested too. Claire especially loved a part that illustrates your journey to Valhalla.

The second floor has more history and the history of the museum and archeological sight. You are also able to walk to the roof of the museum and look out to the area that was likely the center of the Viking burial ground (where a church is now located). It was shaped like a ship and known as the ship of death to carry the souls to Valhalla. There are actually several of these noted throughout Denmark in other Viking settlements. The one in Jelling is marked out by some white steel beams to indicate how it may have looked back in King Blåtand’s day.

Under the church, lies what could be the bones of Gorm the Old. They were discovered in 1978. Now a small silver strip in the floor marks the spot where these bones now lie.

We all had a great time and I HIGHLY recommend visiting the Jelling stones and museum if you are in the area!

That about sums up our trips around Denmark before fall break.
We are currently ending fall break here and we actually made a trip to Germany (since it is one of the 5 countries that are open to travel for Danes).
Hopefully that blog post will be written before the end of this month…

Staycations

I haven’t written in a while. It’s odd how I feel like it’s been a busy month yet looking at what we’ve done, we really haven’t done that much.

Here in Denmark all the ferries, museums and many other tourist attractions are at a huge reduced value. Public transportation is cheaper than usual. All of this is to try to get Danes to stay in Denmark during this pandemic. The border may be open to many in the European Union but a lot of Danes have decided to take full advantage of these deal.

My family, well, we have not. We’ve decided that public transportation is probably not the safest option and crowded museums don’t sound all that fun to us. Or maybe it’s because we don’t want to get sick before our one trip out of the country (coming soon). So we have been playing it fairly safe mainly staying around home. But we have ventured out to a few spots so I thought I could at least share those.

Our first trip took us to one of our favorite locations, the Lego House. We’ve been there multiple times but it is always a must with kids. To help prevent the spread of COVID, the number of guests allowed in has been reduced significantly. Hand sanitizer is everywhere and encouraged at every building station (even employees walk around with a Lego backpack of just sanitzer). The bricks are sprayed with disinfectant and employees are constantly cleaning. It was a short day but the girls had a great time (as always).

We then spent a wonderful day with friends of Avery’s class at Engelsholm Castle.

I don’t know much about the history of this castle but I can tell you it is definitely settled in a secluded, beautiful piece of Denmark. A lake is located to its west and it is surrounded by forest. It is currently a folk high school which I think means it offers specific college-type classes. Engelsholm appears to specialize in music and visual arts.

Wednesday, we jumped over to Odense. We ran some quick errands (one including my husband getting lost in Ikea) before we parked near the harbor. There was a carnival going on but we (the parents) decided to continue on walking around the harbor. We enjoyed a little bit of time taking in the sights of the harbor. There was some striking imagery near the North Atlantic House. And we found a little area for the girls to jump around. But before long we were reminded of Denmark’s always changing weather and it started to pour. Of course, we were prepared with waterproof gear and umbrellas but we decided to find some shelter.

We sheltered in Storms Pakhus.

Storms Pakhus is like a glorified food court. No McDonalds; local resturants. The girls were on the hunt for a bathroom and ice cream. Us parents were looking for drinks and good food. All of us were successful in finding what we were searching for. The girls got HUGE bowls of ice cream loaded with sprinkles; the husband found beer with fish and chips and I tried a burrito bowl with a glass of wine. Yum!

With full bellies, Avery played hopscotch for awhile before we headed back home.

Our next adventure brought us to the island of Mandø.

Mandø is a very unique island. 1) It is small. It only has an area of around 3 square miles. 2) It is located on the Wadden Sea, a national park and where the husband went oyster hunting last year. 3) It is only reachable by one road during low tide. You need to know the tide charts to visit this island. Companies also offer a tractor bus ride for tourists who want to just spend a day in Mandø. We went for this option.

We got to share the experience with some friends so as soon as we arrived, the girls were chatting and joking. The ride is a double-decker bus so, of course, all the children wanted to be on the top. As we started going, Avery did get a little chilly and I was happy she came to sit with me. Honestly, it was windy and her looking over the edge of the bus gave me the heebie jeebies. So she snuggled up right next to me.

The tide was definitely low when we went across the mainly one lane road. Many cars were traversing it as well as our tractor slowly crept towards the island. We saw sheep, cows and many flowers going in to Mandø.

When we reached the island, we headed straight for a picnic table for lunch. I mean my kids hadn’t eaten for like two hours. They were starving!

After lunch, we hit the beach. The beach was not very sandy or at least we didn’t venture very far to look. There appeared to be one portion where we were at that was protected by a bigger sandbar in the distance. We decided that the sandbar to the west was likely where the seals would be. Unfortunately, it was cold and we didn’t feel like traversing knee deep water to get to the sandy beach unsure if we’d actually see any seals. So we happily plopped down in one sandy-ish area and let the kids play.

Boy did they have fun! We all brought an extra pair of clothes which was a very good idea. The children were jumping around puddles, looking for crabs and other treasures along the shores. Avery sat down immediately and started digging in the sand. Claire waded out into the ocean as far as I would let her go. Everyone was exhausted and soaked by the time we left. We were at the beach for two hours! The time always flies when one is at the beach.

After a quick stop for much needed ice cream, we hopped back on the tractor bus. The children decided it was too cold to be on top again so we took seats in the protected bottom. The tide was coming in…and FAST!

There were many sections on our road back to mainland Denmark where it was completely covered in water. My inner meteorologist was not happy driving through a flooded road and I had to remind myself that they do this on a daily basis; the driver knew what he was doing. The kids (and adults) took a few trips to the top of the bus to see the tractor go through the water. It was neat to see the water creeping in over the green landscape. Imagine living on the island knowing you’re trapped during certain parts of the day. Dream vacation destination or not?

Avery did get a little terrified as she thought it was flooding all of Denmark including our home. I had to reassure her it was all ok; that our home was not flooding.

It was a longer trip back to the cars due to the water covered roads but we all had a good time.

Coronavirus

I thought I would end this post with what is going on here as some of you may be wondering.

Denmark is part of the European Union so travel is open between most countries in the Union along with a few more (Britan, Norway, etc.) The following map shows areas where traveling is not advised and when quarantining must done when arriving home. It is Norway’s version but Denmark is pretty much adhering to the same: map here. However, tourists from other countries are blocked including the USA and even parts of Sweden (Denmark’s neighbor). The rule is that a country must have sufficient testing and have one week of less than 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Germany and Spain have recently been toeing this line so there is a chance that travel may not be advised there.

We have not been tested as we have not been ill or have been in contact with anyone that has tested positive. But we can get tested whenever we want. There is a website that anyone (without symptoms) can go to to sign up for a test. If you have symptoms, you are instructed to call your GP who will refer you to a special testing site. Airports are also set up with corona tests to test anyone who arrives from a quarantine required country. If you test negative, you do not have to stay in quarantine. Ambulance vans are also parking in popular tourist locations to test anyone (without symptoms) who wants one. All tests are free. Results for most tests (I’ve heard) takes 24-72 hours.

Face masks are not required here…yet. A few news articles have hinted towards the use of masks becoming necessary in October as we head into flu season along with the pandemic. Face mask buying has increased here and it seems Danes may be preparing themselves for it.

As for numbers, there has been an uptick in cases. The average is around 50 a day. However, community spread is low. Hospitalization is only at 23 patients while only three remain on respirators (as of 7/27). It may also change quickly like we’re starting to see in some European cities where cases are again starting to climb, but I’m happy we live in a rural part of Denmark.

As for the Danish summer…it’s been rainy, chilly and cloudy. A little sun and an 80°F day is desperately needed.

But do I miss the 100°F days?

One Year

What!?!

That can’t be right…

We’ve been living in Denmark for one year!

Seriously. It sounds so cliche but where has the time gone?

When we moved here, we didn’t really know what to expect. We definitely didn’t expect a pandemic to trap us in our new country but it hasn’t been a horrible experience.

We’ve made friends; traveled more (especially within Denmark); visited the ocean on multiple occasions; experienced a new culture.

I’ve loved the many family trips we’ve made and I can’t narrow it down to a favorite. The international community around the school has been a huge blessing in helping me not feel so alone as a foreigner in another country. I love all the nature parks around this country and how a fun hike is literally just around the corner. The Danes and foreigners in our area care for one another and it feels a lot like the Midwest spirit; neighbors helping neighbors.

But I do miss home. I miss easy shopping. Reading labels is a HUGE part of my life as I’m looking for wheat ingredients. While I have figured out the Danish words for said ingredients I must avoid, I don’t always catch it. Luckily, I’ve caught it all before getting sick.

I miss the memories that are being made with my family at home. My girls miss their cousins and grandparents dearly.

I also miss my old job. I’m honestly surprised I do because the work hours were a bit ridiculous at times. But the weather here is straight forward. I definitely miss the four seasons of the Midwest (yes, even snowstorms).

While I’m sad we couldn’t make it home this year due to COVID-19, I do not regret us moving here to this little country.

I may not speak the language yet (or at all) but there are moments I dread having to leave. We are definitely making some fond memories here.

What do my kids think about the last year? Well I asked Claire a few questions in the video below:

Her answers did surprise me a bit. And she’s a ham, like her mom was/is.

So to celebrate our one year in Denmark, where did we go?

Kolding botanical gardens.

You may remember (or not) but we have been here before. We went back in early October to participate in a little get together with other foreigners new to the area. I had been disappointed but not surprised (it was early fall after all) that the award winning rose garden was barren. So when I saw their Facebook account announce that the roses were blooming, I told the family it was going to be our next (repeat) trip.

It was a pretty dreary day when we went. It was the day after a cold front passed and kicked the heatwave out of Denmark. There had been a lot of rain the night before so I was sure the girls were dressed in rain gear and the umbrellas were packed.

We started the experience by following the path through the garden. We started in Chinese foliage and made our way through a bamboo forest to some caves. The girls spent quite a bit of time climbing up and down the caves exploring all the nooks and crannies.

Next, we made our way through Japanese foliage, to northern Europe foliage and North American. We found many flowers along the way.

After walking through a small patch of climbing roses, we entered the rose garden.

It was beautiful!
There were so many different types of roses and every one had blooms as big (if not bigger) than my hand. We may have missed the peak of the bloom as it seemed a lot of petals had accumulated on the ground. But we still had an excellent experience.
I walked from aisle to aisle taking in the smell, the sounds of the pollinators and all the colors. So many colors!

The girls did get bored quickly so I handed over my phone to them and ended up with some of these treasures:

The husband and girls headed off to the playground while I took in the last aisle of roses.

As I walked over to them, well, it had started to rain. Typical Danish weather. But after a year of living here, I was prepared with the umbrellas.
We finished the day with a picnic and a viewing of the animals. Avery was in love with the bunnies so we spent a long time with them before we called it a day.

I’m unsure what the next year will bring us. Will we be able to travel as USA citizens within Europe? Will it be safe to travel home in the next year? We’ve had three trips we have planned canceled so far due to travel restrictions and uncertainty.

There are still so many unknowns but whatever the next year brings us, we have each other to experience it with.

Q&A

I’m sitting here at a car workshop waiting to get the oil changed on our car so I figured it’s a good time to tackle some of these questions a few of you have had. Maybe even throw a couple more in…

One of the most frequent questions I get is about the weather. What is the weather like in Denmark? How does it differ from the Midwest?

The main difference: extremes in temperature. Denmark lacks the extremes or roller coaster type weather that we get in the Midwest. In the Midwest, we can have thunderstorms one day then snow the next. An 80 degree high one day and 40 degree high all in the same week. That does not happen here. This is all thanks to the fact Denmark is small and surrounded by ocean. The ocean currents keep the temperatures fairly steady. We have just seen a gradual increase in highs over the past couple of weeks heading into summer. The winter highs rarely get below freezing and the summer highs tend to be below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
But that doesn’t mean the weather forecasting is easy here. Temperatures might not be too difficult but forecasting rain is. Again because of the abundant amount of moisture in that ocean next to us, there is a chance of rain nearly every day it seems. Even when the forecast says 10% chance, we’ll likely have a quick downpour. We have a good amount of dreary days as well, especially in the winter. The winters here are very comparable to the Pacific Northwest. A HUGE lack of sun.
Happily, the sun is back and I’m really seeing Denmark wake up.

Another question I’ve gotten is about prices on goods and how stores look here.

European vs American Paper Towels

Stores here are very similar to the USA. They are smaller. You do not see a Walmart sized store in every town but there is a store called Bilka that is probably the most similar to Walmart. It has it all; electronics, food, clothing, garden supplies, etc. Shopping malls are also scattered across the country and are actually thriving unlike malls in the US (at least before COVID-19).
Prices depend on the goods. Fresh produce seems to be very comparable to the US. Just like the US, produce is cheaper when you buy in season. There are also a lot of roadside produce stands that sell potatoes, strawberries, flowers and apples. I really enjoy picking up fresh fruit during the summer.
Sweets and alcohol are a bit more expensive. There is a higher tax called the “sugar tax”. A kilo of chocolate or sweets is subjected to a $3.25-4 tax depending on the sugar content. It’s seen as a way to curb obesity and is also the reason many Danes cross the German border to obtain sweets. Alcohol on the other hand is subjected to a $7.49 tax per liter of 100% alcohol. So good wine is a bit more expensive here…
I know clothing is more expensive here but I really don’t have a great handle on it. I rarely buy new clothes. I mainly shop at the second hand stores if I’m in need of clothes. If I do need new clothes, I typically go to H&M as it is a cheaper option and they are also located throughout much of Denmark. Or I use pricerunner.dk which compares different prices at different stores.
There really aren’t many “dollar stores” here. There are a few companies that do sell cheaper items but they are small and their product is constantly changing.

Speaking of food (I’m gettin hungry), one question I got was about seafood. Is it readily available?

Yes, at least much more available than it is in the Midwest. We have fish at least once a week. Claire loves salmon now (still working on Avery). Smoked fish is also very popular and we found a variety we like in Rømø .
The husband went oyster hunting last fall and there are also shrimp tours that occur in the spring/summer. There is even a meal box company that specializes in fish meals for costumers.

Taxes. That is another question I get.

How high are taxes in Denmark?

High. Denmark is a welfare state. The income tax rate is 12.16% for the lower bracket (income above $6,794.02) and 15% for upper bracket (income above $75,499). One that really tends to shock folks is the tax on a new car. Vehicle registration tax is 150% for cars newer than 2017. This is likely the reason why many Danes bike or live very close to work…
There are also many different taxes that I don’t have the knowledge or experience on. Wikipedia has a great breakdown if you’re interested.

What do Danes think about this?

We’ve talked to a handful of Danes about the taxes. Like Americans, they are resourceful in finding loop holes or cross the border to Germany to avoid the high tax.
However, all have stated they don’t mind paying higher taxes than other countries. The reason? They know they are taken care of. Danes have free (or subsidized) childcare, education (through college level), healthcare and assistance if they should become unemployed.
The maternity leave policy here is absolutely outstanding. Parents can receive a total of 52 weeks of paid leave from the government. Few families have to decide between a career and raising a family due to childcare costs. Therefore, most members of the household work. A stay at home mom is sort of seen as an abnormality.
Are there issues with the system? Of course. There may be longer waits for healthcare in bigger cities. You are not allowed to see a specialist unless your GP refers you which means you may have to fight more for your health. You can change doctors but it costs a fee (you typically stay with the one in your municipality). The emergency room is only for true emergencies and you must call ahead.
My experience has been small here but it has all been pleasant so far. Our doctor has happily talked English to us. We have made same day appointments (one including pulling a bead out of a screaming toddler’s nose). We have called the on call doctor in the evening to get a next day appointment at an urgent care. It has all been pretty seamless…so far.

What is driving like in Denmark?

Just like Iowa; or should I say we drive on the same side. This is not Britain. The terrain is the same and you pretty much just need to learn the signs so you know exactly what they’re telling you.

I was asked if we visited Tivoli. Twice: here and here.

I was also asked about the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen. It is probably one of Denmark’s most famous statues and has been vandalized many times. Her head has been sawed off twice, she has lost an arm and she’s been painted on several times. The latest vandalism was to show support for Hong Kong.

I was also asked if COVID-19 is widespread through Denmark. It is widespread in Copenhagen and its island. As of today (6/8) the border remains partially closed. German, Norwegian and Icelander tourist may now visit Denmark if they can prove an overnight stay of at least 6 nights. They are not allowed to stay in Copenhagen.
Schools are open completely and businesses are opening as well. The assembly ban has been raised from 10 to 50. Everything has strong restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. You can check out all my lock down posts for our experience with the lock down.

And the final and likely most frequent question: how long are you staying in Denmark?

We will be here for at least another year. Our visa allows us to be here for a total of five. So somewhere in between…

Lock Down Continued

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post and figured it was time for a bit of an update on life here in Denmark.

First day back to school!

The girls are back in school! They are so happy to be back but everything is different. The class sizes have been split in half for the older classes (primary/elementary). The classes are not to intermingle with other classes during the school day. Students are to maintain a 2 meter (6 ft) distance from each other during class and lunch. The lunch hall has flowed into another room to accommodate this. Library books are put in quarantine for three days. Lunch is now served by the teachers to each student. It is no longer buffet style. Toilets and playgrounds are dedicated to one class. Claire says she washes her hands seven times a day and everything is constantly wiped down. Avery’s toys are cleaned and dried outside. Hugs are strongly discouraged although kids will be kids and Avery has admitted to lots of hugs with her classmates. Parents are no longer allowed in the school. The video below does an excellent job explaining how Denmark schools opened and the new policies in place.

Things are beginning to roll here in Denmark as well. We are currently in phase 2 of reopening (total of 4 phases).

-Phase 1 was the opening of daycares, preschools and elementary/primary schools. Businesses such as hair salons and tattoo parlors and the like were allowed to open with certain precautions.

-Phase 2 started this week and continues into next week. Older kids (6th-10th) will join the schools. The 2 meter rule will be reduced to 1 meter and the 10 person ban will not apply to schools anymore. Claire will be back with her entire class but they are still not allowed to play with students in other classes. This will continue to mean dedicated toilets and playgrounds for each class.
Sports, without spectators, were allowed to begin along with club sports that are done outdoors. Many private companies could open. Zoo safaris were allowed to open but guests must stay in their cars. Retail and department stores were opened but huge sales to drive in customers were strongly discouraged. Restaurants, cafes and bars could open with limits on operating hours, physical distancing and the number of guests. Vocational schools, libraries, churches and after-school education are allowed to open as long as social distancing is continued.

-Phase 3 is set to start June 8th but the prime minister has stated that there is a chance it may be set in to motion earlier since the infection rate appears to be holding steady here. It is currently at 0.7 and the goal is to keep it below 1.
The group size limit is expected to be raised from 10 to 30-50 in June.
Opening June 8th (or earlier), will be culture and activity centers, amusement parks, zoos, summer camps/activities for all ages, the public sector, adult education, colleges and indoor sports.
DR and TV2 (the main media in Denmark) will be allowed to open if the infection rate continues to be low.
Of course, guidelines are to be enforced.

-Phase 4 will not occur until the beginning of August. Night club life will be allowed to open, all gyms and indoor sports and leisure facilities may open and the ban on events of over 500 people may be lifted at the end of the month.

What I’m probably watching the closest is the border situation. The border remains closed in Denmark. However, Sweden remains open and never closed (they also have the highest infection rate and death in the Nordic countries). Germany desperately wants to open the border before the summer holidays as lots of Germans have holiday homes in Denmark. Germany also wants to get tourists into Germany. As a result, Germany announced it was ready to open the borders on Friday. Denmark said no; it was not ready and wanted to coordinate with others.

Norway has said no travel at all. It has strongly advised all citizens to stay in Norway this summer and foreigners are not allowed in unless they own a home or have family in Norway.

The Danish government has announced it will make a decision on or before June 1st about travel to and from Denmark. We are patiently waiting…

So what have we been doing?

Exploring Denmark’s nature.

Happily, Denmark is full of national parks and surrounded by sea. When the two combine, it makes for one amazing trip. I truly find the sea so relaxing and I love escaping to it whenever we have a chance.

One weekend, we decided to go Sønderskov on a Sunday as it had plenty of geocaches and sat right next to the sea. To be correct, it’s a strait called Little Belt (Lillebælt). We found several geocaches on our walk towards it.
When we came upon it, we found a camping area. There were multiple picnic tables, a shelter and even an ax for chopping wood to burn in one of the fire pits. There was also a bench on the edge of a small cliff that was questionable to sit on. It honestly looked like it could tumble down at any moment as many of the surrounding trees had already done.
The girls decided it was a good time to have a snack.
We then made our way down to the shore and looked for sea shells, remains of crabs and anything else we could find. I found a neat looking piece of driftwood that I was tempted to pull home.
After a while at the beach, we headed back to the car. We left finding all 10 geocaches.

I also snapped a picture of the beautiful yellow flowers on the rapeseed plants. It is a cash crop here in Denmark. I really like the smell of the flowers and the striking yellow against the typical green fields.

At home, the husband and I had a talk. We decided we needed a weekend somewhere else. Somewhere near the ocean. The girls had a Friday off of school so we decided to book a rental home near Aabenraa for a long weekend.

It’s funny how sometimes you don’t know you need something until you get it? I needed this. It was so relaxing. First off, the view was spectacular. This whole area is mainly just vacation homes and quite a few Danes were enjoying the long weekend as well. The houses sit on a bluff with all the houses facing the sea. So pretty much every house has the same, pretty view.

From the deck, we were able to watch bulk carrier ships to little fishing boats. Aabenraa Fjord is 45 meters (~147 feet) deep. It is one of the deepest in Denmark so a coal storage facility is located in Aabenraa. Big bulk carriers bring the coal in then smaller bulk carrier will ship it across Denmark.

We could also see the little tiny strip of sand that was formed just off the main land that I think is called Løjt Land (do not quote me). We saw many attempting to fish from it in the mornings.

View from beach

We spent the first day jumping on the trampoline. Us parents were then reminded on why we don’t have a trampoline. Claire got hurt because too many people were jumping on the trampoline at once.
After some cuddles and a back massage, we made our way down to the beach to explore.
We counted sail boats as they came in and out of the fjord. We hunted for shells, crab skeletons and colorful rocks. We found dead jellyfish and attempted to play in the sand. It was a rocky beach so there wasn’t much sand that was good for building castles so we switched to just digging holes.

That afternoon, we played some games we found in the house. One was a Christmas themed yahtzee and the other was called Shut the Box. We then read some books, played ladder golf and jumped on the trampoline some more.

That evening, we took a walk to visit some friends who were staying in a beach house nearby.

The next day, we slept in. Late.
Claire and I decided to walk down to the beach while the husband and Avery stayed at the house.
Claire and I went the opposite direction that we had gone the day before. We found more shells and washed up crabs. It was another sunny, calm day along the beach.

After lunch, we all loaded up in the car and headed to Jørgensgård Skov to…you guessed it…geocache.
Unfortunately, my GPS decided not to work on my phone and my husband didn’t have his on him. So we had to abandon the hunt and just enjoy the hike.

It was a great hike though! Claire found a message in a bottle. It was put there by a young child named Ester. There was even a bracelet that Claire could have taken. Claire however wanted to keep it there because she thought it would be fun for someone else to find it too.

We then found a rope swing. The girls absolutely loved it. They spent a long time swinging back and forth with help from the husband giving big pushes.

What I enjoyed from this spot was the view! I could see Aabenraa from this spot. The water was also very clear. We spotted tons of little jellyfish along the shore and reminded the girls that jellyfish sting and that we should leave them alone. The girls were quite content on the swing anyway.

We finally decided it was time to head back. I’m pretty sure the girls were getting hungry which is likely the only reason I was able to pull them off the swing.
On the walk back, we spotted cows, a viking carving, and plenty of dandelion seeds to blow. The walk back took much longer because Avery had to be sure to blow as many seeds as possible.

Even the drive back to the rental was adventurous. We found a gorgeous restaurant called Restaurant Knapp. It was nestled into the woods and looked completely secluded. We also went under a tunnel and again found the beautiful yellow flowers. It was our last full day in the beach rental and we had had a great day!

The last day we cleaned the rental and spent one last time at the beach. We walked out on to the dock and watched the morning boats. I was sad to leave but left feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world again.

And that’s about the biggest adventures we’ve had.
We’re waiting to see what the next few weeks bring especially with the announcement on border control happening soon. We don’t think we’ll be traveling back to the USA though. It makes me sad to realize I won’t be able to see family physically in person for another 6-12 months. But the risk of bringing the virus home with us to our loved ones is enough to keep us in Denmark (plus the uncertainty of flights too).
If the border opens, we may travel. Or we may explore more of Denmark. We really don’t know yet.

Until then, I’ve decided to do a post to answer any questions you have about Denmark that I haven’t answered. A few I’ve gotten have been:
-What are food prices like in Denmark?
-What is the weather like?
-Is seafood more available?

If you have any, feel free to drop a comment here or on any of my social media accounts. Until then, stay healthy!

Week 5 & 6 of Lock Down

Are the days/weeks running together for anyone else yet?
Because they are for me.
This post’s format will be a bit shorter because honestly, it’s becoming a lot of the same old, same old stuff. Elearning, playing and cleaning. But there have been some highlights.

Highlights:
-A lot of foam clay creations were made. Claire and Avery even produced a stop motion video with it on Day 30. Claire wrote the script and did the directing and camera work. Avery directed the characters. I stood in for Avery for the final voice over work.

-Day 32 was Easter! We made an Easter cake the night before, watched the movie “Hop” and had an egg hunt in the morning. We had a fulfilling lunch of lamb (which is typical at a Danish Easter lunch), potatoes and green beans (+ cake).

-Day 34 was spent in the forest geocaching (see this post on what geocaching is if you missed it). It was a bit chilly but sunny with light winds. We walked around a lake for around two hours. We even did some hiking off trail which got one little girl’s shoe stuck in some mud. I also packed our toddler carrier that I had previously planned to use in Italy with Avery. It worked great!
By the end of the walk, we had found seven geocaches! Score!

-Day 36 was an excellent elearning day. Claire dressed up as Captain Claire with her sidekick Vipey. They zap litter away with their eyes and grow trees really fast with laser eyes. Pretty hilarious (she’s 100% me).

She also spent that day racing a car she had made and measuring how far it went. It was a great activity for her and her sister to use some math.

-After a week of elearning, we again hiked off to the forest to geocache. We went to another lake surrounded by forest. This area was surrounded by walking trails and off-roading bike trails.
This time, Avery walked most of the way. It was a very fun geocache as all the geocaches were pretty easy to find and had themes. The girls loved guessing what the next one would look like. We also found a sinkhole and Viking mound.
Claire and the husband climbed up a huge hill to find our 2nd to last geocache. Claire was absolutely covered in dirt by the time she made it but was grinning from ear to ear. She was super proud of herself.
By the end of the day, we had walked 2.5 hours and had found 14 geocaches.

-The next day (day 39) we played a lot of ladder golf and climbed into the “tree house”. Another glorious sunny day in Denmark and it was also noted as historical by the Danish Meteorological Institute or DMI. Only 5.2 mm of rain had fallen in April throughout the country (normal rainfall for April is 41 mm). If the month ends with no rain, it would be the driest April since 1974. It could also be one of the sunniest Aprils on record.

-Day 41 I taught the girls how to climb the apple trees in our yard. We also put together our mini greenhouse and had a three legged race. All important life skills.

-Day 44 we went to visit daddy at work and helped grab some wood for our fireplace. We also visited a stunning tulip field.
It was gorgeous and Claire was enjoying running down the rows. But it was also very windy and chilly so Avery ducked out quickly. We picked a bouquet and made our way home.

-The next day we went fishing near Ribe. It was another gorgeous, sunny day and we hoped the fish were biting. We fished for two hours and almost caught one. It was a big one and snapped Claire’s line. Avery lost interest after the first hour and played at the park the rest of the time.
With no fish in hand, we decided we deserved ice cream.
Restaurants are still not open here in Denmark but take away is allowed. We were able to order ice cream through a window and were served it in a different one. Very little contact with anyone although it was pretty busy around the shop.
We took our ice cream (I had hot chocolate) and walked around Ribe. It was sad to see most of Ribe shut down. It is a touristy town and almost all of the shops were closed due to COVID-19.
It was still a beautiful walk along the canal.

As for Denmark’s handling of COVID-19, the country is starting to open. In my previous post I mentioned how the lower elementary students and day cares were allowed to open with restrictions. Some schools have struggled to open due to lack of space, cleaning supplies and/or staff. Most however have opened across the country.

Now select businesses have been allowed to open. Mainly hair dressers, dentist offices, massage parlors, etc. have opened. There are many new restrictions they all must follow. This includes more time between clients, face shields when necessary and lots of cleaning.
Cafes, restaurants, public institutions and a lot of retail spaces remain closed.

Other parts of the healthcare system have also been allowed to open to prevent a bottleneck of surgeries or procedures. Clinics are open but with less seating in the waiting room, more time between patients for cleaning and contact being a last option (video conferencing preferred).

White tents have also begun to pop up across Denmark. They will become testing facilities for the virus and antibody tests. I’m not sure if they are operational yet but they will likely be soon.

Zoos and theme parks are ready to open and were going to open on May 1st but health officials said it was unwise. Plus there is a ban on events of over 500 until September 1st and a 10 person ban in place until May 11th. Many have now decided to stay closed out of safety.

Unfortunately because of the gradual opening, some people are starting to become complacent. The police are issuing fines and now closing down outdoor areas where people have congregated. The daily reminder is that the COVID-19 threat is not over and we must continue to keep our distance. The next few weeks are going determine a lot on how the reopening is effecting the spread of the virus and if the healthcare system can handle it.

Thoughts
It’s been a long ride. And it’s only been a month and a half. I find myself having a short fuse. I’m anxious about the news, my childrens’ mental health, their education, our health and the health of those I love back home. The what ifs also get to me a lot. Will we make it back to the USA? Will we ever be able to travel again while we are here?

I know. Worrying is pointless and gets me nowhere. I need to enjoy the everyday moments. However, when day 1 moments are the same tantrums as day 43 moments, it gets old.

But there is a big change coming tomorrow.
The girls start school! I’m starting them a week before I planned. This is because I saw all the precautions that have been put in place by the school. I think everything is as safe as they can make it. I truly feel that going back will be better for them mentally and emotionally. They so badly miss interacting with people their own age and seeing their friends.
We are all so ready for a change.

Week Four of Lock Down

Day 22
Avery had story time again! She was so excited and this time it was much more organized. Mics were muted and songs were sung. The kids were allowed to talk when their names were called. It was a good time for her.
Claire finished her elearning early so I introduced her to Pinterest. She spent much of the afternoon using the glue gun and creating different figures using plastic Easter eggs. She made a bee, frog, minion, Easter bunny and so much more. Avery discovered the read along Disney book+CD sets in my closet and spent most of the afternoon listening to those.
It was a good hands off day.

It was also a milestone for the world. Over one million were infected with COVID-19. The good news was that 97% of Danes were surviving this infection. The island that includes Copenhagen was reporting that they expected there would be enough hospital beds for those needing hospitalization. A tent was built with the purpose to test more Danes.
Italy was now asking Denmark for materials and medical professionals and the Health Department was considering it.
Churches stated they would not open for worship on Easter.
All pregnant nursing students in their third trimester were told to work from home.
New laws were put in place. If a foreigner was caught breaking the law related to the coronavirus, they could be expelled from the country.

The numbers on Day 22: 3386 infected, 525 hospitalized, 153 intensive care, 123 deaths.

Day 23
Friday was the day before Easter break so elearning was really just one big project. Claire had to come up with some sort of BIG climate project. Something to showcase what she has learned and how to teach environmental issues to others.
It took her a while to think of something. We brainstormed together on some of it too. She knew exactly what she wanted to do but wasn’t sure on how to showcase it. I suggested a presentation and she went for it.

She also had to share a song that was 20 seconds long. The teachers announced they were sick of Happy Birthday. Luckily, we had come up with a song earlier in the week that she was more than happy to share.

After elearning was completed, we went outside. We played some soccer and Avery was a bit of a sore sport. She was very upset when mommy wouldn’t let her score every goal she wanted. So we quickly switched to cartwheels. Claire decided she wanted to learn cartwheels so I tried to give her some lessons. It is now one of her quarantine goals; master the cartwheel.

With cold (and somewhat sore) toes, we came into the house. I decided we needed a dessert for the weekend so we made gluten free vanilla wafer bars. Yum!

There wasn’t a lot of new news heading into the break. Danes were reminded to continue to social distance and keep gatherings under 10 people. The concern for adequate PPE continued.

The numbers on Day 23: 3757 infected, 517 hospitalized, 143 intensive care, 139 deaths.

Day 24
Yeah! Saturday….or really any day over the last few weeks. The only difference is that the husband is home most of the day and there is no elearning.
Our Saturday was spent inventing new games, cleaning rooms, knocking down mole holes in the backyard and some online math.
That evening we had a special event.
The girls decided we needed a fancy meal. It involved us all getting dressed up (the husband even wore a tie), using fancy glasses (wine glasses) and talking “fancy”.
The husband and Claire even decided to act like servers. Avery and I were walked to the table and they served the meal to us.
We were sure to drink with our pinky fingers up.
The meal served was stegt flæsk, potatoes and green beans. The dessert was blueberries, vanilla cake and a drizzling of chocolate.
Oh so fancy…

More statistics were released by Statens Serum Institut (SSI). They reported that most of those killed by coronavirus were above 60 years old. Only four had died under the age of 60. ICUs were finding the patients on respirators are typically on one for over a week and also had an increased risk of dying. A Japanese heartburn medicine was beginning to be tested along with antibody sampling for those recovered from the virus.
Beer was poured into the sewers from some local bars due to expiration date.
Danes were asked to not hoard before Easter as grocery stores were asked to stay open over the Easter holiday (typically most stores are closed from Thursday thru Monday).
5999 Danes had been tested the day before for the virus.

The numbers on Day 24: 4077 infected, 507 hospitalized, 142 intensive care, 161 deaths.

Day 25
Absolutely beautiful day! The sun was shining much of the day. We even got the hammock out. We spent much of the day fighting over it.
We also tried to play outside as much as possible. We went for a bike ride and practiced our cartwheels.

It was announced that there would be a big press conference by the prime minister the next day. Many rumors stated that the prime minister was likely to announce how Denmark would start to reopen. It was reiterated that Denmark could only open if Danes continued to social distance over the break and Easter. The media also stated that it would be a long time until (or if) life could return to “normal”.
Health authorities announced that a 30 minute test would be available after Easter. The goal would then be to test 15,000 Danes a day.

The numbers on Day 25: 4369 infected, 504 hospitalized, 144 intensive care, 179 deaths.

Day 26
Monday. The start of Easter break. We slept in and enjoyed another gorgeous day. I set up a schedule for the girls and man, Claire really likes a schedule. We learned about the oceans using Scholastic learning, did online math and Danish, had an online play date and made multiple crafts.
We played more outside and the girls were sure to water the pavement…

BIG PRESS CONFERENCE!
The prime minister announced that it was time to slowly open Denmark. Very slowly. Day cares, preschools and elementary (K-5th) were being allowed to open. Many stipulations were to be added to this opening and more was to follow the next day. All other students would continue online.
All other closings and gathering bans were to stay in place until May 10th.
All large festivals and events are now banned until September.
Healthcare facilities will now be allowed to open back up to other surgeries to limit the bottleneck that will likely occur because of the focus on coronavirus.
A lot of questions and concerns followed into the evening…

The numbers on Day 26: 4681 infected, 503 hospitalized, 139 intensive care, 187 deaths.

Day 27
We started the morning with a special delivery. I had ordered some craft kits from a local hobby shop in Denmark. I bought a clay craft, sewing craft, sidewalk chalk and foam clay.
I told them they could only choose one project per day and they chose the clay one. Claire created an ugly monster (that she did all on her own) and Avery made a unicorn (that I mostly did).
They were very happy with the results.

After our craft time and learning about hand-washing and hygiene care from Scholastics, we went outside.
It was a great day! Highs were around 70°F and winds were light. The sun was also shining bright.
We passed and dribbled a basketball for awhile until the girls decided it was warm enough to change into their swimsuits. Their mission=water balloon fight!
I thought it was WAY too cold to participate but I certainly enjoyed taking pictures and seeing their reactions.

It was a tumultuous day in Denmark. Many Danes either supported the school reopening or hated it. The ones who hated it stated that it was too soon and that the children should not be guinea pigs. The other side stated the lack of children hospitalized and how children were less likely to be severely sick from COVID-19. That it would help to build herd immunity in the country.

The rules for reopening were as followed:
1) Toys must be washable and washed twice a day (no toys from home)
2) Lunch, if possible, should be held outside
3) Desks should be 2 meters apart and preschoolers should try to sit 4 square meters apart
4) Hands should be washed at least every two hours (and entering school and bathroom breaks)
5) kids should play with the same small group of kids and interaction with other groups must be limited

There was also a lot of concern among households of children with or living with someone in the high risk group. The Health Department said these children could still attend school.
There were also questions on if a child who has a COVID-19 positive person in the same household should be allowed in school. SSI figured yes because family members should be cut off from the rest of the family if they are sick.
There was a lot of confusion for most of Denmark on this day.

Some good news was that the homeless were being given needed prescription drugs for free and 24 aircraft were delivering PPE from China. The National Guard was also called into the help direct traffic at recycling sites as so many Danes were turning up to recycle.

The numbers on Day 27: 5071 infected, 472 hospitalized, 127 intensive care, 203 deaths.

Day 28
Today we learned about gravity. Avery had a hard time grasping it but Claire had the general idea.
They also picked out another craft that I had purchased. Monster dolls!
It took them over an hour to “sew” their monsters and it was awesome! The project let them work on their fine motor skills. It also taught them a little about patience.

It was also another wonderful day so we played outside, had an outdoor picnic and exploded a ziplock bag with baking soda and vinegar. Good day!

Denmark finally gave one unified statement on at risk children and those they interact with in their home environment. Ask your doctor. If your doctor says to stay home, keep the children home.
A new app was launched to help track the spread of COVID-19 through the country. A new study also suggested that the infection number could be 30-80 times higher. But it appeared the curve was flattening so Denmark decided to send help to Italy. They sent respirators, a field hospital and over one million dollars to the Italian Red Cross.
Concern for health professionals was continuing as 189 doctors and nurses in one area of Denmark had been infected. Lack of PPE continued to be a concern.

The numbers on Day 28: 5402 infected, 453 hospitalized, 127 intensive care, 218 deaths.

Thoughts
I mean….we’ve been in self quarantine so long the days all start to run together. We continue to keep the girls at home and hardly escape our property. If we do, it is to the beach or forest where it is easy to keep our distance from others.
The girls miss school so much. I miss them being in school. Mom does not make a good teacher along with being a housekeeper and chef (and now gardener).
I’m happy to hear that the curve is flattening here. We’re lucky it is a small country and there is a good amount of trust in the government and the scientist. Most Danes are following the restrictions. Yes, there are full hardware/outdoor stores. Some people do break the ban. However, most Danes are happy to look out for one another.
I have found online grocery shopping so that decreases my stress a bit. I’m just trying to figure out the groceries I need in Danish (no, not an expert yet).
Be safe friends! Social distancing works!

Link to the curve and statistics in Denmark: https://www.sst.dk/da/corona-eng/COVID-19-update_-statistics-and-charts

Week Three of Lock Down

The saga continues…

Day 15
Today was a low day. I was in a bad mood; Claire didn’t want to do her elearning and Avery was her normal stubborn self. I had little patience for the whining about the same stuff and bickering. I did not win the “mom of the year” award for this day.
Avery did get to see her classmates for a crazy story time. It’s actually very hard to have three to five year olds sit still and video chat. There was a lot of talking and story telling from the kids. You could definitely tell they were all excited to see each other.
We also built a fort, watched more Mo Willems and watched the Cedar Falls Library story time.
We played outside a little bit because it was sunny but there was a brisk wind.

PPE donations from China arrived in Denmark; 5,000 visors, 5,000 suits and 500,000 masks. Research began on a drug called Senicapoc. It is being researched to see if it can inhibit ARD and lung damage caused by COVID-19. The National Board of Health also announced it wants to begin testing 10,000 citizens a day. It is a huge increase from the only 3,000 a day Denmark is currently hitting. Universities and researchers across the country were also reaching out to the government to say they can conduct more tests and faster. An article stated that some researchers believed they could test the entire population in four weeks.
Unfortunately, there were reports that health care workers were being told to go to work while sick. Even if they had a cough and hadn’t been tested. With the dwindling PPE supply, this was a huge concern for many.

The numbers on Day 15: 1877 infected, 386 hospitalized, 94 intensive care, 41 deaths.

Day 16
Fridays=short school days. Claire finished her elearning early and had a blast doing her math games online. She absolutely loves them!
She also got to video chat with one of her teachers. I think these chats are very important to her and I’m thankful her teachers found the time.
Unfortunately, the girls did not like the rest of the day because it was…CLEANING DAY!!!
The mean mom made them clean their rooms. One may have snuck into my bathroom and found the lipstick…

SSI (sort of health institute) announced it had developed a faster coronavirus test and planned to deploy it ASAP. The Danish Health Authorities stated that they had made mistakes and will continue to do so since this is such a new and confusing time. Over 115 charges were posted for congregations of over 10 people in 24 hours. Danes must stay separated!

The numbers on Day 16: 2046 infected, 430 hospitalized, 109 intensive care, 52 deaths.

Day 17
We escaped our home! It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The winds were light and the sun was shining. We ran to the forest.
A lot of other Danes thought the same thing we did but everyone was sure to keep their distance.
It was just me and the girls so I was a little paranoid (especially about the electric fence along the trail). But we did have a great time being away from home and in the outdoors. The girls climbed a tree, swung on some makeshift swings and found the perfect walking sticks. It was so lovely to get out.

I did not check the news this day. I needed a break. While I think it’s important for myself to document what is going on and staying up to date, I felt this was a good day to relax. We enjoyed the outdoors and a movie that night. A well deserved break from the happenings of the world.

The numbers on Day 17: Did not record.

Day 18
A cold front had tracked through (see that KWWL viewers. I still say tracked). It was a chilly day and it was breezy. We decided to spend it baking! We made gluten free sugar cookies. While the dough solidified, I cleaned and the girls played together. Another mellow day.

There wasn’t much to report on with the news. Volunteers and donations have been supporting local hospitals and health departments throughout Denmark. The police also reported that speeding had increased by about 10% across the country. So we were all reminded to slow down.

The numbers on Day 18: 2395 infected, 499 hospitalized, 131 intensive care, 72 deaths.

Day 19
A day of video chats. Avery had her class story time. Claire had a class meet up and a play chat with a friend who had recently moved from Denmark. The elearning continued just fine. Avery learned about ladybugs and we made a hilarious hat for her.
After her elearning, Claire turned on the hot glue gun and made her own little craft. It is a sock puppet named Vipey.
The girls also ended the day with a sleepover together.

Big press conference! The prime minister announced that the curve appeared to be flattening in Denmark. The infection rate had been halved. However, the Department of Health said restrictions must remain in place to keep this successful flattening curve going. If the numbers continued this way, a gradual reopening of Denmark would be possible after Easter. A very structured and gradual reopening.
Hospital patients were starting to be redistributed across Denmark to ease Copenhagen hospital which is the hardest hit. Health staff were expected to begin antibody tests.

The numbers on Day 19: 2577 infected, 533 hospitalized, 137 intensive care, 77 deaths.

Day 20
Today’s elearning consisted of me being interviewed by Claire. I had to share three things about myself and they were: I broke (or tied) numerous track records at my school in high school; I was an on-air meteorologist; I have seen three tornadoes (all in Iowa I might add).
Avery learned about the dentist and how to care for her teeth. She also partook in animal yoga.
The fort was put back up and they spent a lot of time reading in it.

I did not take many notes on this day. I guess the day after the big press conference didn’t have a lot of news.

The numbers on Day 20 : 2860 infected, 529 hospitalized, 145 intensive care, 90 deaths.

Day 21
Art day at school. Claire hates art day. She is critical of her artwork and doesn’t believe it is good enough. So yeah…it was a rough day.
BUT! Something amazing also happened today. You see, we have this bar in our house. Lately the girls had just been using it as their “coffee” shop. Avery has a toy that dispenses water into a little cup, very similar to a Keurig. The girls add M&Ms to the water and like to make their dad and I colored “coffee”.
Avery was running around with our remote control (from Iowa) and talking on it like it was a phone. When she walked over to the bar, she pushed some buttons on the TV remote control and managed to turn on some LED lights that we had, up till this moment, been unable to turn on. The girls spent the rest of the day pushing the buttons and changing the colors of the lights. Disco anyone?

Claire also learned about a Danish Easter tradition. It involves making gækkebreve or snowdrop letters. In the USA, we would call it a paper snowflake. On the snowflake, one writes a poem. Instead of signing your name, you write dots that correspond with the number of letters in your name. The letter is then delivered (anonymously) to a neighbor, friend or family member. They, in turn, must guess who sent it. If they can’t, they owe the sender candy. If they do guess correctly, the sender owes them candy.
Unfortunately, we don’t really know our neighbors and live quite a distance from the school and classmates. So Claire dropped it into our mailbox for her dad to find. He was pleasantly surprised but guessed it was from her right away. She doesn’t have to give him chocolate though…

Translation: My name is very sweet, like sugar but not quite.

I also received a head and foot massage that night from two little helpers so Day 21 turned out to be a pretty alright day.

A video app was introduced to Denmark for general practitioners to see patients in need of non-emergency care. Danes were urged to continue to call their doctors for non-coronavirus issues as well. The health department had noted a significant decrease in phone calls. Many health professionals were concerned other diseases were going unchecked.
A lack of PPE continued to be a concern.
Danes with mild symptoms were told they could be tested especially:
-people with close relationships with others in risk group
-people who can not isolate
-large households
-those in contact with infected
-people with key functions to society

The numbers on Day 21: 3355 infected, 525 hospitalized, 146 intensive care, 104 deaths.

Thoughts
So this blog is a week behind. I’m actually finishing it up right before Easter. But a huge press conference happened this week that announced Denmark will be sending all elementary and younger children back to school. There will be stricter rules in place that schools must follow. The 10 person ban also remains in place so schools are planning to adjust. I’ll have a lot more in my next post but I know family members may be reading this and wondering about our girls.
The school they attend has decided to continue with the option to do online learning for the next few weeks. We have decided to go that route. Avery’s class will not do online learning but I hope I can continue to supplement at home.
In the coming weeks, I really need to hammer home personal space. Claire is a huge hugger and I am telling her every day that she can only hug her family. I sing “Happy Birthday” over and over with Avery as we wash our hands. I try to explain how everything will be different once they go back.
I’ll have much more detail on how different in my next post….