Jul i Den Gamle By

Parents lounge at school

Thursday, I started my morning taking the kids to school as usual. This time however, I decided to try out the new Parents’ Lounge while waiting to meet up with a friend, Thefloridane. Our little school is growing by leaps and bounds and this little loungy spot near the office is fabulous! I had a cup of coffee and chats with other moms. Great start to the day.

After coffee and chats we headed up to Århus to explore Den Gamle By  with Christmas trimmings.

widdows house kitchen

Den Gamle By is full of historic homes and structures from around Denmark. The houses and buildings have been relocated to this historical park where you can see people living and speaking the way they would in each era you visit. The first home we went into was once a widow’s’ home in Odense. It was originally located across the street from the Childhood home of Hans Christian Anderson. Here, the 1790’s woman told Thefloridane and I about the home for widowed women.  We stood in the small smoky kitchen as she told us about the early form of socialism. Women who lost their husband and had no family would normally have no place to go. In Denmark, they collected from the wealthy to help house these women.

From there we walked along the cobbled street. The park was full of children on field trips and adults on holiday parties. Slipping down a less busy street we walked along the back of a garden. The same one that was bursting with blooms this summer is now barren and trimmed back. I did enjoy seeing the stacks of flower pots though.

 

After wandering around a bit our tummies were growling like crazy since we missed having breakfast. We popped into a 1920’s general store where the owner filled us in on all sorts of 1920’s information… though he was unable to tell us where to get lunch. We ate here, at Cafeen (the cafe). We should have taken photos of our beautiful lunches and white glogg! (mulled wine)

cafeen entrance

After a long lunch break we walked around a bit more.  Walking into the 60’s and 70’s Disco era we laughed that between the glogg and the disco in the basement we sort of had a MNO (mom’s night out) on a Thursday morning! haha- wooo! Living on the edge…

Despite being a dreary day, we had a nice day exploring old Denmark decked out for Christmas. If you’re visiting Central Denmark, Århus is a great way to spend a good part of a day exploring Danish history from the 1700’s to recent decades.

jule vindu

 

Until next time-

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Border Run

IMG_8297Denmark/German Border

A Brit, Aussie, American, and Korean walk into a mall… haha! No, not a bad joke, just time for another Billund to border run for turkey, booze, and over the counter meds.

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We hit up Citti-Park in hopes of finding just the right snow boots, turkey for American Thanksgiving, cut-rate alcohol, possibly stocking stuffers, and more. We did well. Thankfully, the turkey we came for was purchased. Sadly we didn’t find the cute snowboots half of us were after.

I do recall several flats of Christmas Beer and an obscene amount of nutella.

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Here we are, headed down the escalator with our goods. Had to check the top floor and try out more boots.

Oh geeze! Look at the time! We have to leave Germany and get back to school to pick up the kids!

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I had a fun day with the gals. Racing and riding carts through the parking garage may or may not have happened with cheers and squeals. Looking forward to another girls day shopping no matter which country we’re in.

xo

 

Odense Zoo

tiger boys 2

Yesterday, the boys and I headed to Odense to check out the zoo. They had gotten free tickets in a kids meal one day while shopping, and I figured that it was a good way to knock out a summer day. I planned to get there between rain storms. It sort of worked.

We arrived a pretty soggy bit, but fared ok during the day. Thankfully, I wore galoshes and managed to convince the kids (well, forced them) to wear waterproof jackets. They REFUSE to wear “rain trousers”…  I think rain trousers would make playing FUN… I get it though, the word trousers freaks me out… but saying pants around English folk is confusing. “Put on your rain pants” translates to “put on your rain undies”! But I digress… Back to the zoo.

First we saw tigers. One tiger by himself, and then as we circled around, we saw cubs! Naturally, when I went to take a picture, momma tiger had to go potty… But I managed another without her. Seriously though, poor tiger. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go, and because of her cute kids, there are always people standing around.

mom tiger poops

tiger cubs playingSo here are the cute kids. A third was sweetly peering over a felled tree at a safe distance.

Next, we came to the giraffe house. We were about to pass through because it was empty, but this wall of pacifiers caught my attention. What IS this?!?! I read one of the postcards attached to one of the germ garlands ,and my suspicions were correct. Danish tots donated their binkies to the baby giraffes for when they are feeling brave enough to be a big boy/girl.

binkies for giraffe baby

Later in the day, the sky-water stopped long enough for my two less-furry apes to climb on what looked like something designed for the chimp house. Every zoo should incorporate playground structures throughout. It really helps kids to stay interested and not complain about being tired. (So does food… E munched lots of carrots along the way)

boys outside manatee houseThis gorgeous mural was at the entry to where the tapirs lived. Beyond that, a structure that contained a tropical house with manatees, tiny monkeys, a sloth and more, as well as an arctic penguin house! We had to do this one twice. Perfect because the first time was super-crowded, and the second time we were nearly the only ones there. Cool!

max and tapir

Manatee Menagerie

 Monkey, Monkey, Sloth, Monkey

During our first trip to the manatee tank, we saw a lot of bubbles. Our suspicions when we went back! I missed the photo proof, but here’s a shot of the residual bubbles. Take our word for it when we say we *know* that those bubbles are in fact manatee farts. Have you SEEN how much cauliflower they can eat? M felt that this was important to share here, by the way. Note the bubbles raising from the underside of the manatee. I think it noticed our talking and stares and giggles because it turned and swam away. Sorry manatee.

manatee 8 last of the fart bubbles

The kids really loved the penguin exhibit. The walk from the warm tropic environment toward the penguins was dark, and the temperatures plummeted. We wound our way up the dark ramp where we found a wall of ice. The kids thought that was pretty awesome. How is it here? WHY is it here? It was apparently great fun to touch the ice as long as you could then slap your cold wet hand onto your brother’s face or neck to see if they would let out a shrill cry. Yep, worked every time.

Inside the penguin house, there were boulders for the kids to climb on and slide down. Penguin life seems pretty cool to kids. Clamber up, lay on your belly and slide down the cold bumpy rocks. I noted some funny behavior between two penguins. One was sitting on a “nest” and seemed uncomfortable. The other penguin, a bit smaller (male?) seemed to be a nervous wreck. You could tell that they wanted to do SOMETHING, but weren’t sure what to do. Maybe they wanted to be on the egg?

Then the penguin on the next nest moved to reveal a teeny baby penguin! It seemed unsure of what to do with this thing that was no longer in an egg. It wasn’t still. She/he waddled a foot over a bit and stretched its beak down to push an egg toward their feet and the chick. It was the empty egg shell! It seemed in shock. (I can totally relate.) Now what?!

The kids stopped rock surfing a moment to see the baby penguin. They seemed less impressed than I was. LOOK! Look at it! It’s a baby penguin! In real life! Just a few feet away behind that glass! Isn’t it cool?! Amazing!?! …. All I got was ” mom, watch this!” and “Watch ME mom, watch ME!”….”Yeah mom, its cute… WATCH THIS” (slides down faux boulders complete with painted on penguin poop)

monkey house aka butt house

Lastly, we hit up the monkey house. M was more interested in the climbing wall and curious as to why there were butts on the wall. Butts? Half of this monkey house was in fact dedicated to hineys! Looks like I missed the 3D butts in jeans and Odense zoo t-shirts. There were adult, child and tot sizes… I’m not sure if you were meant to compare those to the little monkeys in the glass house? Oh well, no time like the monkey house to expose your kids to a pimpled hairy man-butt in a thong.

So during this rainy afternoon at the zoo, we learned a lot of answers. Let us take a moment to recap…

  • Does a tiger cover their potty like a house cat? Yes. Yes they do. With 20 onlookers and pouncing cubs. Even tiger moms can’t go to the bathroom without kids interrupting.
  • If a manatee farts in water, will anyone know? Yes. Yes they will. Particularly if they are 8, 5, or 38 years old.
  • If a fussy tot drops her binky in the waterfall that leads to the manatee pool, will she been seen with the same binky again later that afternoon? Yes. Yes she will. IN. HER. MOUTH. Someone didn’t have a successful trip to the giraffe house! ;D
  • Butts are funny until they are in your face unexpectedly.

American Section at (some of) the Shops

American section have recently appeared in some of the markets around the area. It’s generally a funny combination of American and British staples, and although we have embraced Danish products and food, we are still happy to see them.

Generally, the sections include American pancake mix (ours are thicker), cake mix (Betty Crocker in boxes we’ve never seen before!), Dr. Pepper (OMG YESSSS!), and mac ‘n cheese. There is usually BBQ sauce too, but Stubbs (one of our favorites) seems to be everywhere now anyway. so it’s not “new” here. The funny thing is, both American and British products are mixed on the shelves. Grab your cake mix and lemon custard, or McDonalds ketchup (I’m really tempted to buy it now since local ketchup is so different), or try some of the UK’s breakfast treat – baked beans… no thanks.

Someone on the Americans in Denmark page posted this photo:

american aisle

See that? Left side, 4th row down?! Libby’s Pumpkin!!!!!! Yay! I’m guessing this shop was near Copenhagen, but maybe by November, the passion for pumpkin will spread to Jutland. Let’s hope so! Our local Super Brugsen has a similar endcap (maybe a tad smaller?) I plan to scout it out regularly to watch for pumpkin!

What would YOU stock on the American section shelves? Given this selection, what would you buy? I’m so curious because the U.S. is so big and the tastes are regional.

I’m looking forward to be overwhelmed by choices when I’m in the U.S. this fall. Happy shopping y’all!

Connect Billund

Connect Billund kickoff meeting rachel

This spring, I began to wonder… what will be doing in Denmark? J is enjoying work, the kids were settled into school. I had us moved in. Now what? I couldn’t just shuttle the family about. I need a job.

My former neighbor and I had been chatting via Facebook Messenger, and she told me about WeWork.com and said maybe I could do something similar. Fantastic idea! I spoke to my friend and neighbor about it. She too was looking for some work, but was applying to summer season jobs to start bringing in some additional income. A couple of weeks later, she spoke to me about an idea a mutual friend had about applying for government funding in our area to assist those settling into the area.

The next thing I know, the three of us are putting together an application for funding to be awarded to a group or organization that helps newcomers integrate and find work. That’s exactly the focus of our group. There are so many supporting partners in our community that desire to feel more connected with the community, and of course to find gainful employment.

We were fortunate (and super stoked!) to receive a good portion of the funding, and that has allowed us to move forward with our desire to connect our lovely community further. There are so many resources here. Danes are big on joining clubs, and you can find a club for just about any interest. It’s fantastic! However, finding those clubs isn’t always so easy when you’re new and do not speak the language.

Connect Billund has been well received in the community as we have been planning and organizing. Local community staffers have been helpful in connecting us with the right people, providing information and help whenever possible, and showing up to events to help out. We are so thankful. Things have been falling into place. There has been a need to connect newcomers to the community, and the community is quite open to it. Connect Billund serves to bring everyone together.

We currently have 110 members on our facebook page and generally have about 20 people show up to our starter meetings. July is pretty quiet here with people on holiday so we have planned our first events in August.

We have an excellent autumn and early winter schedule planned, with events from a society fair (come see what all those clubs are and join up!), an HR talk covering CVs and help updating them, how to buy a house, how to pay your taxes, how to use the electronic mail box you’re assigned, a cultural talk, and more. Each month will also have some drop-in sessions that may follow up on the earlier topic that month or just provide a place for folks to come together to work on projects, socialize, work on CVs, applications, or any other work.

Our long term goal includes having a place like WeWork here in Billund. Something easy for locals to join, and available for the working travelers who may need a space to work or to have meetings other than their hotel or the offices they are visiting.

We have kept quite busy in the last couple of months with meetings in the kommune, LEGO, and working with other resources to line up guest speakers, help with our set up, etc. It’s a great time to be new in Billund. There is a lot of growth and improvement in the works from so many angles, and it’s great to see communication happening.

So, while I’m still on my quest to find out what it is I will do in Denmark, I have plenty to keep me busy, active, and involved. I love the gals I get to work with, and together we get to meet all sorts of interesting people from around the globe.

If you happen across this and you are living in the Billund area, search for Connect Billund on Facebook and join our group.

New place in town: REFBORG

The old Billund Kro has recently been remodeled and is now called REFBORG. The new design is tastefully done, adding rustic and contemporary elements. It feels fresh and cozy at the same time.

One day after a Connect Billund meeting, I popped in with my colleagues to see what the new place looked like. (I’ve since been back for a couple of meals) On one side of the hotel is a shop, or ‘butik’ in Danish. This butik carries wonderful gift items like food and home accents. The choices are beautiful, and many of the foods are specialty items not found in our local markets.

We enjoyed a nice coffee break and were given samples of some of the shop’s treats.

If you’re in town, definitely pop in and do some shopping. There are great gifts for hosts and hostesses. I’ve done a little shopping there myself.

The restaurant, or spiseri, has also been remodeled, and is a lovely place for a cozy lunch with a friend or a nice dinner out. I’ve had a lovely cheese plate for lunch with a new friend. The cheese plate was beautifully done. Dinner with friends was cozy and service was friendly and helpful. We drank lots of their bubbly and enjoyed a nice dinner together. The atmosphere helps make the night with friends feel more special.

Eating out in Denmark is not inexpensive, so having a place with beautiful decor and nice food makes it feel more worthwhile when heading out to eat. I’m happy we have an aesthetically pleasing place in Billund.  I wish them well and am excited for what they have accomplished.

Summer in Denmark

This is our first summer here. I use the term “summer” loosely. We’ve had approximately 5 warm days this year and its mid-freaking July. J-U-L-Y, y’all!

We kept hearing that the weather would turn nice in May. Soon it was, hmmm, this is unusual weather. Then as June was approaching, it was hey, hang in there, we will have summer eventually…. Having moved here during the last couple of days of October last year, it feels like the weather has been pretty much the same all year, except now the days are thankfully MUCH longer. The one day it got pretty roasty, I didn’t complain. I was so thrilled to have SUN and heat! Real: “I wish I were in the shade” kind of heat! It was awesome.

The other thing about summer in these parts is that the majority of people take 3 week summer holidays. Both partners in a family typically work and since everyone is gone, there is little to send your kids to, as far as summer camp is concerned. What are the job-seeking parents to do?!

Fortunately, the kids have been fairly happy spending their summer break on the trampoline and building LEGO. Sometimes they even do it simultaneously! It doesn’t take much to keep them happy and entertained – it would just be nice to have something to look forward to and friends to meet with. Hopefully in the coming weeks there will be other kids to mix it up with.

While I’m sitting at the computer, a kid from M’s class came by, so that’s been a great diversion for the boys. We will find some little daytrips to take and see what other kids are around to play with to fill up our time between grandparent visits. (yay for grandparents visiting!)

Things are nice and green here. There are still some flowers blooming. Maybe some warm summer-like weather will come eventually. (I hope!)

Here’s to finding work, having holiday time next summer, and hopefully warm summer weather ahead. Cheers!

A few summery things…

Our first guest visits!

Last week we had our first visitor! Shane came to see us. J and Shane met 15 years ago in Phoenix when J first moved there. Though we have all moved around a lot since then, we’ve always managed to keep in touch. It was really nice of him to extend his Europe trip to come see us. It meant a lot to us and the kids.

We tried to pack in as much as we could in a couple of days’ time. It was cold and rainy when Shane arrived, but some of the NorCal sunshine followed him here. (yay!)

We had Shane jump right into life in Billund. On his first morning here, we showed him the kids’ school and he joined me at the FIRST Connect Billund meeting. After the meeting he and J went to lunch in town (J wanted to take him to the hot dog stand!) and in the afternoon, I took the big boys to LEGOLand Billund! That’s J and Shane, not the kids – they were still in school 🙂

The little boys were somewhat disappointed that we went with out them but seemed to understand that Uncle Shane should see the park while here. (It closes fairly early).

After collecting the kids, we headed to Vejle to show Shane around and had a bite to eat.

Since it stays light for a long time, we were able to drive around and found a strand (beach) down by the fjord.  We chatted with a local mom there with a cute pup and her kids. There were some boys and their scout troop there fishing, and she was filling us in on the types of scouts in Denmark. Maybe our boys will try it in the fall – M did Cub Scouts in California and J was one of the den leaders. It was FREEZING and windy at the fjord, so we didn’t stay long. Plus it was late for a school night! Whoops.

The next day J had meetings at work and Evan didn’t want to go on a road trip, so he went to school while M and I took Shane on a short drive to Ribe. The weather was lovely (thankfully), though we still had to wear our coats. I’m convinced that everyone has been tricking us and there isn’t actually a summer in Denmark. We had sunshine so that made the day nice.

Ribe is a neat old town to explore. There are various styles of architecture, a Viking museum, and great spots to eat local food!

Did you see it?! I ate herring! And it was pretty darn good – so it must be amazing. The ham was from a nearby island. (Tania, I was thinking of you.) The cheese and homemade cracker were nice too. Both fish portions were good. Shane and I aren’t big mayo eaters and found the sauces to be a bit much for our tastes, but I had some and they were nice. If you are a mayo fan you’d enjoy them! The apple dessert was nice too. Yum. Ok, here is the photo again.

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There could be a whole post based on this photo.

Moving along – after our huge lunch, Shane wanted to see the shore. Great plan! I just didn’t have experience on anywhere to go near Ribe. So I looked on google maps and found a National Park. Cool! Let’s go there! We started to drive and enjoyed the views. The canola flowers right now are incredible! We came across a beautiful village too.

The funny thing about Google maps is…  you don’t always get ALL the info you need…

The road ended in the sea. THE SEA, I tell you! What? Oh yeah, high tide. No drive. We drove to another spot out of curiosity. There, the sign said no cars or motorcycles. Ah! NOW we know what the big tractors and bus-like trailers were for! Getting to the National Park! Someone commented on how dumb tourists get stranded all the time…

Well, that’s the funny thing about Denmark. You’re just supposed to KNOW things. I’d have gotten a bit nervous with a road where the sea laps up to its edge, but may not have thought about a tide coming in and taking the road out… I’m not accustomed to driving on roads that are often underwater! Haha. You learn something new every day. Like, I may have a fear of riding in a tractor bus. I kind of feel we got the real experience at the water’s edge…

The pole that you see Shane and M standing next to has markers indicating the water levels in years past. I may have to Google that too. Crazy high tides or big storm surges? I’m not sure. There was a berm there and old illustrations noting that the seawall had been compromised in the past and washed people away. Glad things were tame when we arrived. I’m also glad that we didn’t drive down the road and get stuck in high tide. Whew.

That was Shane’s last day. That evening we got home and J put on a slideshow of photos from the last decade or so. What fun! We saw so many familiar faces and relived our lives in Phoenix for a few moments.

Thanks for visiting Shane! We enjoyed having you!

Slugs and Snails – A Kid Post

I went for a walk with my mom on Sunday. We headed towards the woods and I let the wind push me on my scooter.

We saw lots of snails and slugs on the ground in the forest.

We collected some sticks on our walk for making a teepee – beans will grow on it in our garden!

On the way back, we saw a BIG snail about 5 inches long with a big white shell.

By:M

Rainy Spring Walk

This morning I took a walk between rain showers to explore some of the same spots I walked when we first arrived. I wanted to compare the autumn dampness to the spring. If you remember some of the pics I snapped last autumn, it may be fun to compare the brown, feathery foliage to the fresh and bright greens that are finally making an appearance.

Today is about 50*F and rainy. We are enjoying a cozy day inside, other than a walk or two. Happy weekend!