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.

Efterårsferie

Efterårsferie, autumn holiday, as mentioned in my previous post has come and gone.

We started it off with a trip to Egeskov Slot and the rest of the week was just the girls and I. So here’s a brief summary of how it went…

Monday, I had Danish lessons. I’ve been taking them over Skype so the time is more flexible and more one on one. This time the girls had to sit in. Our girls seem to have this switch. As soon as video chat comes on, they go into hyper-drive. Everything must be louder, toilet jokes every other sentence and all around silliness. Happens EVERY. TIME. WE. VIDEO. CHAT.

My Danish instructor was very understanding. He was able to get Claire involved by having her draw a picture of herself and have her help me name body parts in Danish. Claire’s attention span only lasted an hour so my meeting was cut a little shorter than usual. Avery (the shy one) did not like being asked questions by him so she quickly sulked away to color and play.

Tuesday brought us to Lego House and Legoland. These are absolute must sees if you have children and come to Denmark. In fact, if you’ve ever played with Legos, go experience it! It is 100% worth the money.

Lego House involves many different aspects. First, you get a wristband that has a special chip in it. It gives you access to the house. It will also be used to store all your memories/Lego creations online for you to download later. A few examples below:

There are so many different areas. We cruised the Lego creations made by people around the world, we made our own Lego figures, we made critter creations, a stop-motion movie, saved the mammoths, dived into a Duplo pit, etc. So so so many adventures. This time of year the Lego house is also dressed up for Halloween so the girls loved pointing out the Lego Jack O’Lanterns or black cats.

They also got to “shake the rats” out of an exhibit. It pretty much involved them removing pieces that had been in a spot for too long. They loved being given that responsibility.

We spent most of the day at Lego House so we made it to Legoland pretty late. Most of the rides were closing down but we were able to ride a few and spend the rest of the time in Duplo Playground.

The reason I was okay with us being late to Legoland was that there were going to be fireworks just after sunset. Since we had missed the 4th of July fireworks, I figured this could be a good substitute.

When the banging started, Avery started screaming. She and I slipped into a hallway while Claire watched the fireworks outside. They were loud but Claire was having a great time. While covering Avery’s ears, I tried to watch the fireworks. Next year, I’m bringing sound earmuffs for her.

The next day was again another Danish lesson then a trip to a friend’s house. She was someone I had been in contact with before the move and I couldn’t wait to actually meet her in person. It’s just hard to make the time work with us both having busy families and our own schudels. Luckily, Wednesday worked out and we were able to meet up.

Our kids had a fun time playing together and it was so nice to talk face to face instead of through chat. She has been so extremely helpful. So very lucky to have someone answer all my questions no matter how silly they may be! When we left their house, Claire was asking when we can come back or invite them to our house. We had a great Wednesday!

Thursday was a trip to Kolding. They have a cute little park where I figured the girls could run around and let out some energy. But I did forget we were in Denmark (sarcasm) and that it rains a lot and had been raining a lot. It was a muddy mess. While I did make the girls wear their waterproof gear, they both refused to listen to me about wearing their boots. So let’s just say we didn’t play on the equipment as much as we would have like.

BUT we did get to ride around the lake in a paddle boat. We had rowed around the lake before but Claire really wanted to try the paddle boat. The park offers life jackets for free so we put them on and had a great time.

Friday came with a new experience. Claire got sick. Fever, sore throat and chills. I noticed some sores in her throat and immediately thought strep. I was nervous calling the doctors office. In Denmark, you are assigned an office. You can change but there is a fee. I had seen a doctor once for my driver’s license but this was a new ballgame, I had a sick child. I called the office first and was connected to a message, in Danish. I waited a bit to see if it would connect to another line but then hung up. Was I suppose to enter Claire’s CPR number (special number given to every resident of Denmark, think SS#)? What did it say? This was the first moment I really felt like a foreigner.

After a few deep breaths and a venting phone call to my husband, I tried again and was connect to someone on the other line.

Me: Taler du engelsk?

Answer: Ja? Yes?

I explained my daughter’s symptoms and was told to come ASAP.

No waiting line. Swiped her CPR card at the front and headed for the waiting room. We were seen in ten minutes (just at closing I may add).

There was no nurse. No weighing, checking of blood pressure, complete history work up. Nothing like what I experience in the states.

Claire was in tears because 1) she was tired and sick 2) she hates being sick. The doctor spoke to us in English and told Claire it was going to be ok. She was as kind as possible to Claire. She looked at Claire’s mouth and ears. She then did a swab to check for strep. And she did the test right in front of us.

No lab here. The lab was right on the table and it just involved a few drops of some liquid and the swab.

Happily, Claire tested negative for strep and the doctor told us it was likely viral. Rest and liquids were what we were told to do. And that was that. No copay or additional forms. Probably one of the quickest doctor visits I’ve been to.

Claire did “rest” all weekend (as much as a kid can) and was fever free all weekend too. She has been her happy self all week.

I, on the other hand, caught food poisoning Friday night. I was preparing seafood and must not have cleaned my hands well enough as I was the only one who worshiped the porcelain throne most of the night (TMI?).

So when the husband went oyster hunting Sunday, I was less than enthused to cook seafood so soon.

He had a great time though and learned some valuable facts about oysters. He learned that the oyster they hunted for (Pacific oyster) has become an invasive species after being introduced to the area in the mid nineties after the European oyster died out over 100 years ago. Therefore, oyster picking is not really regulated in Denmark. He learned where and when to hunt for oysters. That oysters are good in the fridge for one week. If an oyster shell is open, don’t eat it.

He brought home two buckets and set to work cleaning them and shucking some. He was brave enough to fry some up while I watched (still a bit queasy).

It was fun watching him schuck them and try something we likely would never have experienced in Iowa.

When Monday started, we were ready. Claire was so excited to go back to school. Avery was a bit hesitate but after some bribing was willing to let me leave at drop off. I was happy to have a couple hours to myself again at home, even if it was to catch up on laundry and wash dishes. Mom life.

Play and get some sun

Fall is in full swing and the days are getting noticeably shorter here in Denmark. We’ve been trying to fill our days with more outdoor adventures before the sun starts setting before 4 PM. Eeekkk!

So we’ve been fairly mellow the last couple of weeks just trying to soak in some sun.

We have five apple trees on our rental property. I know five apple trees sounds like a lot but we waited too long to pick one tree and most of its apples were on the ground; mushy. The other trees didn’t produce much so we only came up with about 30 lbs or so of apples.

I was able to make around 11 quarts of applesauce, 24 apples muffins, gluten free apple cake (US version) and æblekage (apple cake: Danish version). Æblekage is more of a trifle dessert that requires no baking. Basically, you cook some peeled apples down to applesauce type consistency. Next, make a type of crumble/crisp mixture. I used gluten free breadcrumbs, sugar and butter.

After it all has cooled a bit, it’s time to layer! Apples, crumble, whipped cream and repeat.

Very simple to make (and delicious to eat).

To get more sun, we also spent a day at a botanical garden in Kolding, Geografisk Have. Its rose garden is rated one of the most beautiful in the world. Unfortunately when we went, all the roses were long past bloom.

However, some other flower were blooming so I was able to see some other beautiful blooms. The garden was also busy with worker bees and the girls were able to learn about pollinators and pollinator hotels from a gardener. Claire now wants to build one.

The garden also had a complex hiking trail through different vegetation that originates not just in Europe but Asia and the Americas.

It also had little book nooks with books for children and adults (most in Danish, of course), a few playgrounds, a mini town, petting zoo and pony rides. A great way to get out and enjoy some sunshine!

We’ve also enjoyed a few hikes around our area. I think it’s worth noting that even though we are separated by an ocean, rural Iowa and rural Denmark look a lot alike. Judge for yourself:

The girls really enjoy hiking and geocaching. Don’t know what geocaching is? It’s basically a scavenger hunt out in nature almost anywhere in the world. It is a free app but if you pay, you’ll see more geocaches. You just need a cell phone signal, GPS locator on, bug spray and good hiking shoes. We’ve had a ball finding different geocaches and marking “Found” on the app.

As you can see, Claire absolutely loves it.

Avery is still on the fence about it.

Oh and one more BIG thing happened! We celebrated Claire’s birthday!

In Denmark, birthdays are a BIG deal. The Danish flag is typically flown at your household to signify an important day. Claire was serenaded in class with the Danish version of Happy Birthday, they all gave her cards and she provided donuts to her classmates.

Her gifts included geodes and some books. She also got to go on a very special trip. Those details coming in another post very soon…stay tuned!