Weekend Report: Not Much

April 27, 2008

cate\'s card for hoperevo

Cate’s hopecard for Rwanda reads: Rwandanese girls; you are the power behind your country. Someone who learns is the one who knows best. American girls are supporting you!

Hello All! It’s been a long and boring weekend here and not much to report. Paul and I are vaguely grumpy in that way you are when the work week is starting again and you didn’t get to do anything fun. (doyaknowwhatimean?)

It was a productive weekend though and we are finally all the way unpacked. The new matress came, so we no longer have to sleep on mold. Ikea showed up with our lime green sofa (not kidding). And, the insurance company finally gave us the go-ahead to toss all the ruined items. It’s just in time too, because we are having a housewarming party with Paul’s work friends next weekend. All we have to do now is hang up a couple of paintings and some photos.

Today Cate and I made some postcards to send to Rwanda with my dear friend, Jen Lemen. Jen and her soulsister Odette, a Rwandan genocide survivor, are working on an empowerment program for school girls in Rwanda. You can send messages of hope too! My pal Krystyn is also in on it and you can find out how to say nice things in two languages by clicking here. (Deadline: postmarked cards by May1st) I’ve been teaching the kids how to stand in their own power lately (and learning how to stand in my own), so this project really struck a cord with strong-willed Cate!


I Went to Denmark to Visit the Queen!

April 23, 2008

As dictated by Eden Chapman.

“One day I went to skole. Just one lesson before lunch, my teacher told me that we were going to go to the Queen’s Castle!  After lunch, we went and stood in the courtyard of Ammelienborg Slot (castle). At exactly 12:05 Queen Margrethe came out with her son, daughter-in-law, two grandchildren, and husband. They all waved at us. We waved paper Danish flags and said “Hurah! Hurah! Hurah!.” (Danish spelling)  It was the Queen’s birthday!

.

Many people in Denmark came. All of her royal guards wore red and white shirts, blue pants, and tall  bearskin hats and marched in a parade with instruments. We marched behind them. It was really cool and fun. The End.”

Mom would like to add the following editorial comments: Eden also told me that they learned the Danish birthday song, but that they did not sing it at the Slot. Only the Danish Reception class (the class for non-English speakers) got to go on this outing. The rest of the skole stayed behind, so it really was a special treat.

Margrethe’s family has been the monarchy for over a thousand years, going back to the time of the Vikings. She was born in Amalienborg Slot in downtown Copenhagen, which is actually 4 palatial manor houses connected by gates and gardens. Her parents had no male children, and the monarchy was going to pass to an uncle, when the country changed the constitution to allow female heirs to take succession of the throne. Queen Margrethe is the first woman to be crowned queen by blood, and not by marriage in Denmark. She is much loved by the people, and goes progression throughout the country, wintering in one part and spending the summer in another so that she can be near all her people.  (She moves from one palace to the other in her royal yacht! In spite of all the palaces, the monarchs here seem to be pretty low-key. For her birthday she appeared in a business suit, not a gown. This even handedness is common in Denmark because of the Jante Law which basically says “we are all equal. no one should act like they are above the other.”

If you like to read things online, there is an English-language paper that comes out once a week, the Copenhagen Post


Sweden!

April 22, 2008

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just keep me where the light is…

This weekend, we took the ferry across the water to Sweden. We had lunch in Helsingborg, then went to Lund for the day. There we saw a Catholic-turned-Lutheran church built in the 1100’s with a fabulous animated clock; a beautiful, mysterious crypt; and awesome Roman architecture.

I especially loved the ancient, chipped, stone baptismal. It was about 3-4 ft tall and easily big enough to bathe twins. Eden and I sat in the batismal chapel and talked about the font and the chalice as symbols of the feminine divine. She really has a lot of spiritual insight — although this means that you can’t pull the wool over her eyes either! No softshoe answers for this girl! She’s really got some tough ones about theodicy (the problem of evil.)

The church was dedicated to St. Lawrence. When the Roman emperor asked him where the church valuables were, Lawrence brought him the poor and the blind. He had spent all the church’s money on them, and told the Emperor “Christ says, these are the treasure of the church.”

Yeah. We killed him for it. You’ve gotta love our history.

On a more chipper note, we also went to Kulture, an outdoor living-history type of museum. It had tiny old homes with grass roofs and root cellars. There was even a church that was built right after the pagan era faded. (Think Vikings and you’ll get the general vibe.) The kids got to go in and out of all of them and basicall “play house” in a genuine historic village. It was cold and we got there late, so we want to go again and really see all of it. I kept thinking how much the grandparentals would like it, especially Margaret as it had interesting medieval medicinal and kitchen gardens as well.

Lund is a University town — one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. Historic, beautiful, and buzzing with an energy that only comes in a place where so many young people are so eagerly seeking knowledge. Paul and I were especially tickled that the philosophy department is housed in the King’s old palace. How cool is that?

Our batteries died on the camera, but here are some pics from the cell phone. Sorry this isn’t more poetically written, but I’m afraid if I don’t just get it out, it will never happen at all. You can click here to read a poetic bit I wrote about one of the churches on my other site.

Ps. If you visit, please leave us a note in the comments! Even if you just say “Hi! I was here.” These posts, even though they are simply written, take a long time. This one took over an hour to edit the photos, write, and upload. So, we’re more movitvated to keep it up and keep you in touch if we know that our family is actually reading this… tak!

 [prayer candles at the cathedral

lighting a candle for great grandma

Eden rides a vintage rocking horse

Eden rides a vintage horse in the toy gallery

the midnight ride of Cate Shalom 

the girls read, color, and snack while riding the rails EU style


So by 9am you mean….what?

April 22, 2008

So apparently the Danish thing about being right on time, not early, not late–meh, not so much. Every single Dane we have had interaction with has inevitably showed up early — way early. Like for instance when the guy came to pick up our moving boxes and the moving company said between 9-12. Yeah, he came at 8:30. While I was in the shower. ‘Cuz nothing says desperate housewife like answering the door in your bathrobe while you’re toweling off your hair.

It was worth the embarassment though — because this:

The \'Before\' Shot (with half the boxes already hauled away!)

transformed to this:

Cate\'s Cozy Corner

Catie took charge of this little nook and set it up with thier favorite books, all thier board games, and blankets and pillows from various parts of the house. I still want to get them a cozy little rug — oh, and the desk lamp? It lives here now. Sammy likes it too and we often find him curled up on one of the circular labyrinth pillows. He loves to be by Catie. So sweet!

Through the stair railing.


Moving Day

April 9, 2008

Last Monday, we took possession of the apartment. Tuesday, the guys from the moving company arrived to unpack our semi-truck sized shipping container into the flat. That’s when we found out about the hole.

In the roof of the shipping container.

The one with all of our earthly possessions that had been sitting outside in the customs yard for a week.

While it rained.

Paul got to the apartment early to meet the movers, so he was able to break the bad news to me before I arrived with the kids. Still, it was disheartening to see water pouring out of the corner of the cardboard boxes the movers were carrying up the stairs. (Oh, the building association is gonna luuuuuv us!)

Now there is a stack of soggy books in the living room – several of which are out of print. Not to mention the oil painting from Paul’s grandmother, a box of the girl’s toys, the cross Amber sculpted for Eden’s dedication, the handmade bookends from Andrew, our moldy sleep-number mattress, the waterlogged foot board from our bed, the down comforter, our best set of sheets, and the middle section of our bookshelf system.

Ugh.

Thankfully, we have insurance, and once we research the cost of repairing or replacing everything, they will cut us a check. This is hard to do in an unfamiliar place, especially the wood work that needs to be done. But Paul has started a spread sheet and is trying to get the numbers a bit at a time. He’s half way through the book list. It looks like it’s going to be about $1,500 in books alone. Plus they have to cover VAT (taxes), shipping, and import fees.

Other than that the move has gone fine. Our kitchen is awesome, there are tons of closets, so storage hasn’t been a problem, and the girls love their room. Yesterday Paul and Eden rode to the store and bought a vacuum cleaner – which Paul carried home on his bike! Eden carried bags of flour and sugar in her bike baskets and learned that it’s challenging to ride with an uneven load. She was a real trooper and didn’t even panic when she tipped over into a parked car. Go Eden, Go Eden!

Now every box has been opened, if not unpacked. All that’s left to find homes for is Paul’s enormous stack of computer paraphernalia. They come tomorrow to pick up all the empty boxes, which pretty much fill up one small room – even though they are collapsed. We are waiting for our couch, which is on back order. Then we’ll have a housewarming party, which is Danish is “Housewarming Parti.” (Ooooh! So exotic! J)

We’ll post pictures soon!


New Skole

April 9, 2008

Today we finally got the girls registered at their new skole. The main teacher has been out sick (eye surgery) and the headmistress didn’t want them to start until she was back. But the girls have been out of school for two weeks and they are DRIVING US CRAZY. So today, when the assistant teacher said, ‘I think we are just having a tur today and then they will come when the senior teacher is back.’ I rebelled and insisted, nicely, that they start today (as per the headmistress’s phone call the day before.) She rolled with it and got them set up with desks and workbooks. Hurrah!

Much to Eden’s chagrin, she and Cate are in the same class. They have a different program here. At their old skole the children stayed in the Danish reception class for up to three years. They did some of their day in Danish and some in English. But at Bülwosvej Skole they start mainstreaming into the regular Danish classes as soon as possible. So in a few weeks, Eden could be doing Sports with kids her age in the ‘regular’ class, and then some Creativ, Math, etc. and finally on to being in full time Danish in about 18 months. Cate will do the same, but perhaps a little slower given her age and reading level.

The Danish Reception class is small – 9 children all together. A brother and sister from Somalia. A girl from Brazil. At least one student from Turkey…..I can’t remember the others. One girl, Hannah, from Brazil was SO excited to see the girls come into the classroom. It was clear they were going to get a very warm reception. When I picked them up today Eden said they played with everyone except the kids from Somalia, who are also newly arrived. I’ve asked Eden to try and make an extra effort to connect with the Somali girl. I’ve noticed that Somali children sometimes have trouble connecting here, especially the girls who wear the hijab and tend to be socially isolated. Eden felt pretty overwhelmed by just getting used to the new skole and didn’t feel like she has any energy left over for ‘extra efforts.’ But I’m hoping in time, we’ll be able to connect with everyone in their class.

Skole gets out very early here – 1pm on the latest days. Because of this, the girls will start in the after school program, which is called SFO here, and I will pick them up around 3pm. We went to get registered to day, and Sammy-dog proved to be a great ambassador. We met two girls in particular; Zainab (who beamed when I told her that was one of my favorite names – the girls have had a Zainab in every school they’ve ever been at), and Kira who has perfect English because her Fa speaks English at home. Both of them loved Sam, and I promised to bring him every day.

Unfortunately, Eden is right at the edge of the ages the SFO attached to the skole takes. In a week, all of the kids in her klasse will start visiting a neighboring SFO (down the street). May first, everyone going into 4th grade (the grades are one year below ours because of the way they count kindergarten) will start going to the outside SFO. The kids here have a lot more freedom b/c crimes against children are so rare in Denmark. So the kids just walk from the skole to the SFO by themselves. A lot of very young kids have mobile phones, and the teacher asked if Eden had one. Maybe we’ll need to get her one when she switches to the off-site SFO? At any rate, Eden will have gone to two skoles and three after-school programs by June! Thankfully, she is surprisingly adaptable these days and I think after a few tired days, she’ll adjust.


Clara’s Advice

April 9, 2008

Me: (yawning) Sorry, I’m so wiped out from yesterday.

Clara: What did you do yesterday.

Me: Well, we took the kids to meet the headmistress at the new skole. Then she said we had to fill out paperwork at a field office, as well as at the skole, and that we could walk there. So we walked 3 kilometers to the office and spent an hour there doing paperwork.

(Clara makes appropriate empathetic expression.)

Me: Then we went to IKEA.

Clara: WHAT!?!!? You went to IKEA?!?!? On the SAME DAY?!?!?  You don’t do ANYTHING ELSE on the day you go to IKEA!!! Do you need to sit down???

 

I guess that’s why I fell asleep here while Paul was assembling furniture with an allen wrench….