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

 

Bring on the Blahs

Today it’s cold, damp, and the sky is the color of a dirty sock. It’s been that way all day. Yesterday too. Blah. So here, then, are some pics of what it looked like around Billund this summer, when we did have pleasant weather…

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…when everything was in bloom…

…when we would ride our bikes after dinner and explore the trails and fields around town…

…and when it didn’t look like this until 11:00 at night…

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Meh. I’m gonna go make a cup of tea.

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.

6 Months in Denmark!

Wow, how has it been 6+ months already? After more than a year of wondering, hoping, planning, packing, and then finally moving over in October, we have settled into our new life here in the small Danish town of Billund, and we are happy we made the leap. There were challenges at first, of course, but you expect that whenever you move somewhere new.

It also helps that we are now into the best time of year here in Denmark – green grass, buds on the trees, daffodils and tulips popping up everywhere, and blue skies on most days. (Well, sometimes). The sun doesn’t go down until around 10pm, and in midsummer it will be even later! Quite the change from when we arrived in late fall and all through the winter, when it quickly turned gray and gloomy, with lots of rain and wind and hail – and unfortunately not as much snow (which helps to brighten things up for the short time it remains on the ground.)

I’ll be honest, it’s not pretty around here in the dark season – everything is drab and mucky and it’s just cold and meh. The Danish tradition of hygge certainly helps – we really got into the feeling of “coziness” that the Danes use to ward off the winter blues: warm drinks, rich foods (roast pork, herring w/ curry sauce, caramel potatoes, æbleskiver w/ powdered sugar and jam), time spent with friends, and lots of candlelight glowing off of white walls. Still, all of that is months away, so we are going to enjoy the summer for as long as it’s here. It never gets hot, at least not compared to Pennsylvania, Texas, or certainly not Arizona. Right now it’s in the mid 60s and breezy, which is perfect.

We’re finally settled into our house, which we’ve also fixed up to be nice and hygge (though the boys’ rooms need serious organization). We purged most of our furniture and belongings when we left California, but we’re still getting rid of stuff. No closets and limited storage, but to be honest, we are finally happy to have less stuff weighing us down. (We still have more to get rid of!)

The house is also a short bike ride from the kids’ school and my office. I haven’t even driven a car since we left California, since we have a manual and somehow I’ve made it to manhood without ever learning how to drive one. No matter, as I really enjoy going to and fro on the bike – much more enjoyable than being stuck and crowded on the BART from San Francisco to the East Bay. Plus it takes all of 10 minutes to get home from work – which promptly ends at 4. (Work/life balance is a big deal here.)

I can’t say too much about my job at LEGO, but I will say that I am loving it and it is everything I hoped it would be. Working on a few very exciting game projects, one of which will hopefully be announced soon. Love my team – lots of bright, funny, passionate and experienced professionals from all areas of the videogame industry and from within LEGO. We’re all super busy juggling the LEGO games portfolio and are rarely all in the office together. I’ve traveled more in the past 6 months for work than I ever did at any of my previous jobs: trips to New York, LA, Munich, Manchester (5 times so far), and Helsinki, with more trips planned for London, Oslo, and New York (again). However, we all still make time to hang out, do the occasional group building project, and play games online (current fave: Helldivers), or our Friday lunch at the pizzeria down the street, which is affectionately called “going dirty.”

B, the boys and I have also done some travel and exploring together, mostly within driving distance so far: Hamburg, Aarhus, Ribe, Copenhagen, plus our trip to Spain over Christmas. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve already seen all of that.

I’m also really happy to see how quickly B and the boys have settled in as well. We’ve moved a lot in the past 10 years (3 houses in Phoenix, then to Boulder, then to San Francisco), but this was the easiest transition so far – despite being by far the largest move. This is not only because we’re in the “Expat Bubble” here, but also in the “LEGO Expat Billund Bubble.” Life is smoother in the bubble than it would be had we moved to a small town without many internationals around. It’s been very easy to make friends here, since most people here are also from elsewhere. We regularly hang out with friends from Iceland, Australia, South Korea, the UK, a few Americans, and some Danes of course, and the boys have made lots of pals as well.

They also really enjoy school – sometimes it is difficult to get them out of there at the end of the day! They are always deep into some kind of art or design project, getting completely filthy out on the playground, or inside building LEGO (the company sponsors the school and there’s a heavy LEGO/Mindstorms presence in the classrooms).

It took B and I a bit to adjust to the curriculum and education philosophy at the school, since it’s not only a Danish school, but also an International Baccalaureate program as well (which I did during my jr/sr years in high school, so at least I was a bit familiar). It’s similar to the Montessori school of thought where kids are encouraged to pursue interests and do hands-on projects, within an overall structure that the entire school follows.

The kids have done units of inquiry (as they are called) on signs and symbols, housing through the ages, and are now focusing on lifecycles and biology. Each UoI presents opportunity for discussions, lessons, and projects in a variety of disciplines, so that the kids get a more holistic experience rather than switching between individual subjects. Hardest thing for us to get used to is the lack of homework – we appreciated the organized structure and weekly homework folders at the boys’ school in California (which was in an advanced and competitive school district). It let us stay informed on what M was doing each week, and gave us opportunities to track his progress and help him out. Here, the academic pace is more relaxed, and there’s no homework at all – it’s all handled at the end of the school day. We do receive emails about the weekly class lessons and projects though, so that helps us stay involved at home with discussions and supplementary reading or videos.

As for B, I’ll let her cover her days in her own post, but she has good friends she hangs out with often. She frequently gets out and about, popping over to nearby cities like Vejle, Kolding, or sometimes Odense. (IKEA!) Although she has only just started to look for work, she has recently started a networking group in town with two friends, and it’s already getting a big response. Go B!

Finally, we are both taking Danish classes twice a week. It is correctly considered one of the world’s most difficult languages – omg why don’t they pronounce half of their consonants? We are doing well, though. We have the same teacher, who we love, but B goes in the mornings twice a week and I go in the evenings. Usually only 6 to 8 people in class, and we are all from different countries: Iran, India, Greece, Portugal, Australia, S Korea, the UK, and two of us from the States (and we both grew up 30 min away from each other!) I don’t know that B and I will ever be fully conversant – plus we never get the chance, as the Danes like to switch to English as soon as they hear you mangling their words. Maybe within a year I will at least be able to translate most of the mail I get from the kommune (local government) and the bank without painstakingly typing it into Google Translate.

There are of course things we miss from life back home – convenience stores, take-out Chinese, closet space, a garbage disposal, being able to shop on a Saturday past 3pm, a tax rate below 50% – but those are small prices to pay for adventure, travel, a quiet, clean, and safe place to live, and the experiencing of being part of an international community. (Oh, and 50% off LEGO at the employee shop.) We miss our family and friends of course (and our dog!), but Facebook and FaceTime have made that very easy to stay in touch and talk often. And hey look, we’ve even kept up this blog for 6 months! (Though I am overdue on a few other entries).

After work today, I rode my bike over to LEGOLAND to meet up with B and the boys and some of our friends. On the way home (they drove), I stopped and took some pics of our town, so here’s a little tour:

Morning Hike

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Life has been busy in the way that it was busy back home. Normal life things fill up time, but with an expat twist. The kids are in a school routine, then come home to play LEGO or enjoy time with friends. Jordan goes to a job he loves. I scoot everyone around to their events, grocery shop, and find time with friends. It’s all fairly similar – but not.

Some things are easier, and many are harder, though Jordan’s commute has been cut down to next to nothing. You can’t even call it a commute, really. 5 minutes and he’s home, plus work lets out at 4pm. It’s a drastic change from San Francisco and Phoenix, where commutes, work schedules, or both kept him away from home for long hours. We are able to spend more time as a family and the boys LOVE having him around to play LEGO and Minecraft.

The boys go to school and play, but here their friends speak Icelandic, Korean, German, and Danish on top of English. They have loads of unstructured time and they love it. They miss old friends and old activities, but seem pretty happy with what they’ve got and who they get to do it with.

Me? I get to meet new friends from Iceland, Australia, South Korea, the UK and more! It’s such a fun mix of outgoing and friendly people. We are all going through the same experiences and yet differently in some ways, because we come from different places. Though it seems Australia, Iceland, and South Korea have loads of shopping and dining out experiences like the US so we are all dealing with the reduced choices here.

Various activities have kept me busy, and I’ve been forever trying to get back into regular walks and such. This morning, three of us gals finally were able to get in a nice hike on a path I’d not yet tried. One of the things I love about Denmark is the ability to find a trail through nature just about anywhere. Today’s hike started at the golf clubhouse. I’d have never guessed you could hike out of a golf course, but here its possible!

We got in a good hour’s hike. Hopefully in time we can add in more jogging and exercises. Today we were uncertain about the path, its distance and such. Walking briskly through the trees was nice on a cold and cloudy day. I think the zipline was the highlight!. Weeeeeee!

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Cykling til Bageren

One recent Sunday we decided it was nice enough to hop on our bikes and ride down to the bakery in town for breakfast. ‘Nice enough’ means “not gray and miserable out” and also “not so cold that our ears won’t freeze and fall off of our heads,” like it is outside right now. Not that this stops most folks around here – getting around on your bike is a way of life, no matter what the weather. We’ve just been too soft to deal with it until now.

Anyway, Billund is not that big, and it’s criss-crossed with bike trails that cut through parks and forests and through all of the neighborhoods. Part of the fun of our ride was figuring out the optimal way to get to the center of town.

E hasn’t started riding his own bike yet, so he trailed along behind B. Max was off and zooming around, no problem. Both boys like their new mohawk helmets! It was a pretty short ride. Maybe 10-15 minutes?


Town, of course, was dead quiet on a Sunday morning, but the bakery was open – and very warm and cozy. And yes, we got “Danish” – though here it’s just called wienerbrød, or “Viennese bread.” And yes, it is delicious – soft and flaky outside, dense and gooey in the center. Not sure what the boys got but it disappeared quickly.

Anyway, it’s fun to live somewhere so small and bike-friendly that we can get around this easily. (In fact, B rode her bike to the bar last night… but that’s a different post 🙂

We found a place to live!

The last couple of weeks, we have been trying to figure out our housing situation here. It’s been a bit stressful trying to work out what we should or even could do. We knew rentals in Billund were very scarce, so we had planned on buying a house instead, so that we could have a place to call our own after living a gypsy life for the last several years. However, we had to wait a month for J’s first paycheck to come through so we could have a bank appointment to even discuss the purchase process.

Meanwhile, the time left in our temporary housing is ticking away. Hear that? It gets louder with each passing week… So does the pounding in my chest…

Buying a home means that we need to submit the contract to the government each time we are serious about a house, and prove that we intend to use the property as our full-time home. Not a problem – that’s what we want too! Denmark, being a small country, needs to protect itself from too many outside investors buying up property and sending prices soaring (sound familiar, America?!). Therefore, the submission for permission is required. Though I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just receive permission once to say you may buy ONE home, rather than submit an application each time… Anyway, Denmark suffered the same economic bust that the US did, and while I won’t get into the differences about the aftermath, the housing dropped here just like portions of the US did. And that means that it’s a great time to buy if you are living in Denmark.

Anyhoo! While working out the whole purchasing thing, we took a peek at a couple of rentals. There was a small but super-lovely place in town, but it was more than we could spend right now. There was also a VERY charming place at the right price, about 10-15 minutes outside of town. It was a big possibility and is on the oldest road in Denmark. It even has soldiers from long ago buried in the field behind the house in burial mounds! It was adorable and lovely! (Locals… if you are looking or have newcomers looking – let us know! It’s available in Feb!) Too bad though, the timing for us was going to be iffy and would likely not work for us. THEN – out of nowhere – I found a house not far from where we live now. It’s a good size and it’s IN Billund, and the price is right. J jumped on it.

I still had house appointments scheduled so I attended those and met great Realtors. The one I met yesterday is SO informative and helpful! There is a vast range in prices, locations, and styles. SO much to consider. I now feel like I’d bark less at the folks on House Hunters International (and MORE at the people on House Hunters in the US). They are actually lucky to have a camera crew documenting – they could have pics to look back at and remember! It gets overwhelming.

Many things to consider, mixed with cultural differences and unfamiliar areas… but the communities where I’ve looked are safe and friendly. I now know too that some of the smaller communities are actually more social and welcoming than the larger ones. (New people stand out there!) They come together for activities and to protect their community. It’s quite refreshing.

We have keys to the new place already, but are waiting for the furniture to be removed and for painting to be completed. In Denmark, landlords are required to hire painters between tenants. SO – we will have fresh white paint when we move in, which should be around the New Year.

I’m looking forward to getting settled and figuring out what we need to adjust our home to life in Denmark.

Cheers! Come visit soon!

(We have only visited the house in the dark, so pics when we have better ones)

x

City Mouse, Country Mouse

My commute sure is different these days…

Billund, Denmark is a far cry from the Bay Area, and even though we live at the far south end of town, my entire commute to work now takes about 10 minutes. A 5 minute drive and then a 5 minute walk.

First though, let’s look at what it took to get from our house in the Moraga hills (East Bay, on the other side of the ridge/redwoods from Oakland) to my office in San Francisco.

This was the view outside our front door every morning. Our house was high up on a hill overlooking the rest of the neighborhood. Pretty great way to start each day! Sometimes the deer would be out there to stare at me. Bastards ate all of our flowers. Or I’d have to avoid stepping on big fat orange-bellied newts after it rained.

Then I would drive 10 minutes north to the next town, Orinda. Some days I parked in the BART lot, but if I got there later than 7:30, the spots would be gone! (Dear BART, expand your parking lots!) Luckily, there was a little-known Park and Ride lot a bit further in Orinda, tucked behind the police station. After that, it was a 10 minute walk to the train station.

Some days, I would skip the train and do Casual Commute instead, which is a unique Bay Area arrangement. It’s essentially organized hitchhiking.

Riders line up at a designated spot – in this case, the local Starbucks. Drivers come by and pick us up, 2 at a time. Yes, you get in a complete stranger’s car each morning. You say hi, they say hi, you all buckle up, and off you go. Drivers get to use the HOV lane and skip the horrific lines at the tolls going over the Bay Bridge. Riders get a free trip to the city, and sometimes get to listen to NPR, or Enya’s Greatest Hits if you wound up with the Mitt Romney lookalike in the white Lexus.

This sort of thing probably wouldn’t be safe in every city, but it worked great here, and was a much nicer way to get to work than smushing into a crowded BART train.

Oh, and best reason to do casual commute? This view every morning:

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Anyway, today we’re taking the train. Total ride time, about 30 minutes.

Get off at Embarcadero station, press in with all the other cattle/commuters up the escalators, and then out onto the street. Foggy and gray many days in the city, but this day it was beautiful weather.

After that, a 10-15 minute walk north through the Financial District and to the Waterfront District, which is tucked in just east of Chinatown and southeast of North Beach. The area used to be part of the notorious Barbary Coast in the 1860s – gambling houses, brothels, opium dens, and places to get your head caved in by thugs and criminals – but now it’s just a nice place to get Blue Bottle Coffee, good burritos from the food truck on Sansome, or cheap sandwiches from the two Chinese women (we called them Smiley and the Judge) at the hole-in-the-wall deli on Pacific.

One thing I loved about working in San Francisco is that you get to experience city life at eye-level. You pass people on the street, often the same ones every day. You pay attention to what people are wearing. You listen in on snatches of conversation. Peek in store windows. Keep an eye out for dog (or human) poop land mines. You enjoy being in a big city. I missed that when we lived in Phoenix and I was sitting in traffic most days.

And then here’s the office. Total commute time, a little more than an hour. Plus I was usually one of the first ones there…

Here in Billund, it’s much easier getting to work – it’s just hard getting out of the house! It’s dark in the morning, so the kids don’t like to wake up. B just bought a natural light alarm clock which makes it a bit easier for the two of us (complete with cheerful bird recordings that loop over and over and over). Finally, we get everyone dressed, fed, bundled up, and out the door.

Then a short 5 minute drive north through sleepy neighborhoods to get to the town center, where the boys’ school is located.

Say goodbye to B, who drives back home. I walk the boys into the school, get E situated in his classroom, and then walk to the office. Note the creepy statue of a boy making friends with a giant schnauzer.

The town center is small. I mean really small. And right now it’s dominated by a big construction site, which will eventually be the new LEGO Idea House, a super-modern, gorgeous visitors’ center. You can read more about it here: http://aboutus.lego.com/en-us/news-room/2014/august/lego-house-foundation-stone-2014

Cut through a plaza behind a bank, and walk past one of the many LEGO buildings that make up the east part of town, and then there’s my office. And that’s as far as we go, because you know, secrets.

So yeah, I miss the excitement of the city (and those views of the city when I’d catch a ride across the Bay Bridge!) but on the other hand: 10 minute commute! Maybe when we get another clear day we’ll do some more pics around Billund so you can see what the rest of our new town looks like.

LEGOLAND

 

This is a bit delayed – but life happens.

Oddly enough, we never made it to LEGOLAND in California. It took moving to the actual land of LEGO to finally make our first trip to a LEGOLAND theme park/resort. Just in time too! Only a few days left before its closed for the season.

The park opened at 10 about the time we pulled into the parking lot in almost the first row! Woo hoo! Definitely going to be a fun day! M had me grab him a map right off the bat and he quickly got to work looking for the attractions he wanted to see.

First things first, we needed to go into the little tower that resembled Seattle’s Space Needle… well, sort of. But I didn’t take photos here – I was busy taking in the view (and the groans of the equipment)… Slow heights aren’t my thing…I mean – Wow – We can see all of Billund! Look how tiny the cities and villages are below! (we’re in LEGOLAND… get it?)

I thought we would check out all the villages and towns created in LEGO, but the kids were ready to start going on rides. I let them lead, so off we went to wander explore. The first thing we came upon, ride-wise, was this Haunted Mansion. COOL, we said! It’s like Disneyland! This is a new attraction to the park. We jumped into the short line and headed up to the door. Out came the man with the measure stick and told us that E was too small. Boo. Sorry M – E can’t go. You can wait until another time or you can go ahead and go on your own. It’s up to you… And off he went! I couldn’t believe it! He was prepared to just go on in with strangers (other families). He is growing independent and confident! E and I waited at the exit.

I was amazed at M’s bravery to go alone! I was also wracked with fear that HE would be scared, and I wasn’t there for him… Then I remembered that he went in with a bunch of other moms and kids. But now I was worried that it was a roller coaster… Turns out it’s similar to Tower of Terror at Disneyland… Only without the terror part. A much milder version.

On a return trip that weekend, J and I were able to go through the Ghost house quickly. There is actually a neat mirror maze funhouse inside, and some little busy activities if you’re waiting in line. It’s unfortunate that they do not allow the younger ones through the funhouse portion and check their size before the ride. Particularly on slow days such as this one. I’m sure in the summer it would not be possible with the crowds. Eh, oh well.  “When I’m 5, I’ll do it” E says. Too cute.

Anyway, the ride was cute. The theme sort of made me giggle. I suppose it’s like the Haunted Mansion with sort of an American/Western thing, since this Haunted Mansion sits on the edge of the Western (Cowboy) themed portion of the park. The attendants wear boots and bandanas and plaid shirts. The ride portion of the Haunted Mansion has to do with a mad scientist and his invention of “float,” which is explained to you by two ghosts. It’s cute really. I just sort of giggled thinking of a cowboy-mad scientist-haunted house. It was amusing to me.

The majority of the day seemed to be spent on the same 3 rides over and over and over: The Caterpillar, Safari, and Boats.

See how quickly M is jumping off the Caterpillar ride? The boys would run, quick as they could, to the head of the line and then jumped on immediately again. And again… Fine by me, they were having a blast and getting along!

The caterpillar ride was one of those circular “coasters” that goes up and down and in a circle really fast pushing you into your seatmate. The boys decided to ride separately after the first round. It was such a quiet day they could have their own car again and again.

Safari seemed to be E’s favorite. They “drove” little zebra striped jeeps through a cute jungle and happened across African animals. They at one point never had to get off- just went around and around a few times in their little jeeps. They began making silly pictures for the camera. THEN M wanted to jump off- go see his shot – then run and jump on another jeep until he perfected his photo op. Too funny!

The Boats were cute. A gentle little ride down a quiet river passing large and beautiful landmarks re-created in zillions of LEGO.

It didn’t take long for E to discover the Pirate area. I convinced them to eat lunch prior to the ride.  (I love when I remember before they get crabby!) There were actually good foods to choose from. We ordered two kids’ meals for the 3 of us to share. It worked out perfectly. Roast chicken, carrots, fries, apples & water. Yum. The warm chicken and fries helped us cozy up in the cool air. The carrots were perfect for some energy. Yum! Ok, let’s go see some pirates!

E enjoyed the Pirates ride, but both boys were lured toward the big Castle. There we found the Dragon coaster. It’s a fun, quick intro coaster that all 3 of us could enjoy. M was so good about riding in a car solo, since E’s height often required that I ride with him. I sent them together when I could. I think they enjoyed the freedom that day. The park was quite slow and I could let them sort of run ahead and choose what they wanted to ride.

Eventually, we got to explore the actual LEGO lands. They were fascinating to see. The boys even helped film a robot moving on a Hollywood set. E wanted to walk through the Star Wars area again before we headed to Atlantis (also an aquarium!). It was a good place to settle down a bit and wait for J to meet us for supper after he got out of the office (right down the street!)

The boys wanted to show their daddy all of the rides they loved, but we only had time for hot dogs before the park closed for the day. Luckily, we were able to return again that Saturday to try out the rest of the rollercoasters before the park closed for the season! Woo hoo!

I think our favorite ride was the Yeti-themed coaster, the Polar X-Plorer. Fun ride! There could be a few things we still have to try out, particularly in the Western area. We can cook bread on a stick over an open fire while listening to Willie Nelson (appropriate) and Jimmy Buffet (amusing). I’d love to help the park with their “country & western” soundtrack! There’s also a “log ride,” but with canoes rather than logs. Now we’ve also learned for next time that people pack picnics, coffee, and hot water, and use a wagon if they no longer have their kids in strollers. We will be prepared for LEGOLAND 2015. We will be prepared. Hopefully, E will be an inch taller too, he says.

That was fun! We can’t wait to take some of our visitors!

Happy Weekend!