Saturday, May 30, 2009

there's a tivoli in town

there's a summerfest in our town this weekend and that means a little carnival has come to town. we call that a tivoli. i don't even really think that's a danish word for it, i think it might come from italian and is used all over europe for what we call a little carnival--like with rides and booths where you can win a teddy and food that's really bad for you.

here are some scenes from our visit...

there was the coolest bouncy bungie ride thingie (that's the technical name for it)---

the eastern european dude who speaks no known language straps you in
you do a little test bounce
then higher
and higher
and then you use up all of your ride coupons doing this 4x
far got a bit green in the gills from this one.
in fact, he's having a lie down right now.
mom took about 100 pictures of this one
but we didn't go on it.
she likes colorful stuff.
then there was cotton candy.
extra large size, apparently.
it was also the girl's first time making it.
it was suitable for a game of hide 'n seek.

in all, an awesome afternoon.
and there's two more days left of the weekend
since monday's a holiday.
we love all those spring holidays.

hope you're having a fabulous weekend too!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Celebrating Life

Like you Sabin, Addie was a twin.
Picture of Alyse and Addie
drawn from a picture taken in
the delivery room

She had a sister who passed away before birth too.
Her story is quite similar to yours.
Where as your mom fell ill,
Addie's sister's umbilical cord got tangled
in my tummy during the pregnancy.

How she has grown!
Addie comparing hand prints
with Alyse's - taken in the hospital

At least once a year we head to the cemetery.
We go in good spirits.
To celebrate Addie's life.
She too could have easily not made it.

The cemetery is about 2 hours from Addie's house.
It is in the country on a dirt road.
It is a very old Finnish cemetery- for the Finnish settlers to America

There are flowers scattered everywhere.
Lilac bushes surround the yard, and are here and there through out.
Alyse's grave is under one of these lilac bushes

Years ago we put a birdhouse in the lilac bush.
Every spring we clean it out for a new birdy to take residence.
This year it was suspiciously packed full up with sticks and fluff.
When I pulled out the "nest" this little fellow fell out.
It was a cold day and he was non to happy to have his house disrupted!

Although it is a sad occasion to think of a child's life lost
We know that we have to celebrate the life
that was given to us-

dreaming of summer vacation

mt. rushmore - summer 2005

with summer vacation on the horizon, sabin and i got to talking about vacation destinations last evening. we have established a tradition in our family that when you turn 10, you get to pick where we go on vacation. we got the idea from a girl from my hometown who did that with her family and when her son turned 10, she asked me for advice on how to travel with kids in egypt. we loved the idea so much that we began the tradition too. big sisters karoline and mathilde both (with gentle pushing) chose the US as their vacation destination when they each turned 10. although ten is a little over a year and a half away, sabin likes to talk about where she will choose to go.

dipping our toes in the aegean in thessaloniki

of course choosing where to go brings up thoughts of where we've already been. so we end up talking about turkey and barcelona and iowa and south dakota and london and legoland and læsø (an island here in denmark) and munich and macedonia and singapore and greece and oslo and ljubljana. but it always comes back to the philippines. sabin loves the philippines. and although her decision isn't yet sealed, i suspect that's where she will choose.

thanks to my work, she's already been there four times. she had such a great time on her first visit that it has sealed it for her..she adores it. the people are so friendly and nice, the weather is warm (tho' it can be rainy), the shopping is good, the food inexpensive and delicious, the hotels divine and the beaches fabulous. what more can you ask from a destination?

she got to sleep on the way there:

there were chocolates waiting for her in our room when we arrived:

she got to collect shells and sea glass on the beach at grande island, subic bay.

she saw a wonderful show with trained seals at ocean adventure park, also in subic.

she spent lots of time in the swimming pool, which was fun even tho' there was a pesky fly that kept landing on her nose.

and she stayed for the first time at the heavenly manila peninsula hotel during our time in manila.

far actually got to come along on that first trip, which was really cool. the other three times, it was just me and one time aunt monica was there too, which was super fun. since i was working, i would arrange a nanny for sabin--sweet young filipino girls who played with her and took her shopping all day long. one day she came back from the mall with six new pairs of shoes. and she hadn't even spent $20!

the watermelon shakes are heaven.

and a pedicure with warm paraffin is just the thing when you're feeling jetlagged.

the sushi is fantastic and that's one of sabin's favorite foods.

and they serve it to you here in this wonderful room, where there is a live pianist playing all day long and late into the evening:

tho' there were a few crazy late nights hanging out with a bunch of adults. (click to enlarge and see fabulous manicure w/little bows.)

and the long flight's not so bad if you've got your iPod along and new clothes to wear on the way home.

yup, i suspect that sabin's 10 year old destination is going to be the philippines. and probably more specifically, boracay, where sabin's big sister mathilde got to go with me last fall:

but as for this summer, we don't really know...perhaps we'll go visit sabin's grandparents in the US in the early autumn.

where do your vacation dreams take you, addie?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

mermaids and castles and swans, oh my

after reading your post on minnesota's official state bird and the like, we did a bit of research. we can't really find that there are so many officially designated things that are danish national symbols, but a couple of things come to mind.

the swan is one of the few things we could find that has official designation as the national bird.

this was as close as we wanted to get to the swans, as despite their beauty, they're really pretty mean.

the other national symbol that comes to mind is the little mermaid. she originated in hans christian andersen's fairytale and there is a statue of her in copenhagen harbor that people come from around the world to see. i always imagine they're rather disappointed because it isn't a very large statue--but it's not really false advertising since it is called the little mermaid.  but, as you can see, whole boatloads of tourists are there to see it.  this picture was taken last year when my cousin was in town, so it's sabin and my cousin gisel.

and here's one of just sabin, so you get the idea of how little the mermaid really is.

there is something elegant and wistful about her. but it is somehow a testament to the marketing genius of the danes that such a little statue is such a big attraction. she's actually going to be sent to china to be part of the world exposition and she'll be there for about a year. we think that's pretty cool that the little mermaid gets to travel.

denmark has had kings and queens for over a thousand years, so that means that there are castles around. the danes never had ostentatious castles on the scale of the english or the russians, but there is one famous castle in particular--kronborg. it's famous as the hamlet castle, because after all, hamlet was a danish prince.

we were on TOP of kronborg when this picture was taken
another important castle is called rosenborg. it's a little bitty very dark (on the inside) castle in the center of copenhagen. it's where they keep the crown jewels. it's fun to be there and read that it was once considered to be on the outskirts of copenhagen, when today it's really in the center.

looking up at the tower at rosenborg
other distinctively danish symbols include bright red mailboxes:

the colorful houses along nyhavn:

which you can also find immortalized at legoland in billund:

and which is, of course, one of sabin's favorite places to visit:

and lastly, the main danish symbol we can think of is the red and white danish flag. it's used quite a lot. people have flagpoles and fly the flag in their yards on holidays and special occasions. people line their driveways with little paper flags when there's a birthday in the house. danes love their flag.

danish sandwiches

i've been meaning to share what the sandwiches that go into sabin's lunch box look like. of course, you can encounter sandwiches in denmark that look like you know them to look--with bread, something in the middle and another piece of bread on top. but, most sandwiches in denmark are open-faced. it's called smørrebrød, which literally translates as buttered bread.

this is a batch i made for lunch eaten out in the garden one day. the farthest ones are skinkesalat--ham salad. the two reddish-colored ones with a dollop of mayo on them are makrel i tomat--mackerel fish that comes in a can in tomato sauce (it's delicious). the lone white one at the back had two circles of goat cheese w/salt & pepper (that was for me, nobody else around here likes goat cheese). the ones with crispy fried onions on top (a bit like those french's kind you put on a green bean casserole at thanksgiving, only smaller pieces) are leverpostej, which is arguably the danish national pålæg. pålæg is anything that you put on bread--it can be anything from paté (which is what leverpostej is--a pork liver-based paté) to salami to ham to chicken to dried fruit concoctions (kind of like fruit-leathers in sandwich-size) to chocolate. yes, you can buy chocolate in thin pieces that are specially made for eating on bread--we'll send you some when we send early back to you.

as you can see above, i generally serve some veggies--tomato, cucumber, carrots, corn--on the side and that particular day, i had used the juicer and made up an orange-carrot-apple juice to go with our lunch.

the bread the sandwiches are placed on is a delicious, dark rye bread that has a lots of body. danes know how to do good bread. and it's healthy too. there is a whole set of unwritten rules about what kind of topping goes on which bread, but i'll save that for another day.

on a more normal everyday basis, sabin has one of each of these sandwiches in her lunch box:

that's a good hard sausage called spegepølse (would we call it summer sausage?) on the left and again leverpostej with a drizzle of mayo (ours comes in a squeeze bottle) and some of those ristetløg (crispy onions) on top. those are favorites. i generally give her four sandwiches of this size--one of each of these, sometimes one with the chocolate, sometimes mackerel, sometimes tuna, chicken or just cheese. we have a tupperware in the fridge where we keep all of the pålæg and i try to buy a good variety so her lunches don't get too boring, because although it's possible for her to buy lunch at school, they changed the provider around christmas and she doesn't like the new one, so we never order the school lunch. most kids bring their own lunch from home. they eat in their own classroom and we order milk for her on a semester-basis, so she gets a little half-pint of milk with her lunch every day.

one last picture. it's not really of a lunch box lunch, but sabin wanted me to share it. it's a brunch she got one day at a cafe down by the harbor and she thought you'd like to see it.

honeyed walnuts, brie, a crepe-style pancake (that's the one that's sticking up in the center), bacon & scrambled eggs, plus a bowl of yogurt with museli. sabin wanted me to let you know she ate it all! as you can see, she drank a coke with it. it was more lunch time than breakfast, so we decided that was ok.

and that's how our lunches go on this side of the pond. :-)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

State Symbols

Each state in the United States has a list of "symbols". Things that represent each state. Anything from state bird to state flower - even state drink have been named. I have included a list of these for you and your mom to look over.

This was brought to my attention because the eerie sound of the loons at night can once again be heard. They have returned for the summer and are just starting to nest down. Soon we will see little loon babies riding on their mother's back.

Does Denmark have anything like this?

Common Loon

Common Loon carrying baby
(they carry them on their back
to protect them from fish called
Northern Pike- which will eat
the baby)

Lady Slipper

32nd State
May 11, 1858


The Midwest

Flag of the State of Minnesota

State Abbreviation: MN

Nickname: North Star State and Land of 10,000 Lakes

Origin of Name: minisota, based on the Dakota Sioux Indian word "sky-tinted waters." Centuries ago, that is what the Dakota named the river now called the Minnesota River.

Minnesota State:

Capital: St. Paul
Motto: The Star of the North
Minnesota State Seal
Beverage: Milk
Bird: Common Loon
Butterfly: Monarch Butterfly
Flower: Pink and White Lady Slipper
Fish: Walleye
Gemstone Lake Superior Agate
Grain Wild Rice
Muffin: Blueberry
Mushroom: Morel
Song: Hail! Minnesota
Tree: Red (or Norway) pine

Sunday, May 17, 2009

it's a family tradition

in addition to all that digging in our family, another family tradition involves building dams on creeks. we have a creek right across from our house and last weekend, sabin and her big sisters spent well over an hour stacking rocks and lining their dam with large leaves. it was pretty cool.

it's something that sabin's far did as a child and which he has helped the girls do on many a beach visit--several beaches we frequent have little creeks emptying into the sea. but the dam above the three girls did all alone. and then they even came home for the camera and took these pictures. pretty cool.

addie, we know there are lots of lakes in minnesota, do you ever build stuff with your brothers? sand castles perhaps? or dams?