Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gadefest - IN WHICH Leah attempts to socialize with her neighbors...

Last Saturday was the yearly "gadefest" (block party). I had been looking forward to socializing. I just always forget that all the socializing is done in a language I don't quite understand.

The plans always go something like this:
3:00 - Coffee and cake (it IS Denmark)
4:00 - Family fun
6:00 - Bring meat to grill, a dish to share, wine/beer and eat, drink and be merry
9:00 Bonfire including burning a witch in effigy for Sankt Hans

(The bonfire ready to go)

(The tent where food is consumed)

Our house, along with 2 others, were supposed to provide the family fun. My husband tried to delegate this task to me. One, half English/half Danish, almost entirely misunderstood, conversation with my neighbors relieved me of that responsibility.

Instead, I spent all afternoon making food. I made a pasta salad, marinaded some chicken and decided to give a crockpot chocolate cake a try. (Which went horribly, horribly awry.)

This should NOT have taken me all afternoon. But somehow it did.

I also thought that our children are somewhat, possibly, very nearly, almost able to have fun on their own. I was wrong.

There aren't any kids near the same ages at the party. In fact, most the kids in the neighborhood seem to be teens who use English profanity with impunity. (It's not their language, so it doesn't mean anything to them.)

So, I thought the party was a bust until dinner. It was then that I sat across from a neighbor who was very comfortable chatting in English. We talked at length about the plight of the working mother, since that's what we both are... the wine was flowing and the conversation engaging, so when they asked who would volunteer to plan the party next year, my hand went up. Note to self: no more wine at block parties.

Dina and I couldn't manage to stay for the bonfire. It had started raining with no end in sight. We went back to the house, got in PJs and promptly fell asleep on the couch watching Barbie Island Princess. (How could I fall asleep during that movie, you ask? It's a mystery.)

Lars and Emma stayed to burn the witch...

...and I need to get started planning next year's party.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Today, we are celebrating Dina's "half birthday". No party, no friends, no balloons, just a favorite dinner, a cake and some little presents.

Why do this, you ask (just as my husband did)?

Emma has her birthday in May. A lone nice weather birthday in a house full of wintery birthdays (and don't get me started on the lonely Taurus in a house full of Sagatarians, although I can imagine an entire blog dedicated to it). So, if Dina gets a nice weather half birthday, then Emma will have a half birthday just before the family birthday/christmas craziness starts. And each of them gets something to look forward to when the other is the center of attention.

I did envision a little different evening. I didn't think my Viking husband would be feeling under the weather (he's never, ever, sick). I didn't anticipate that the chiropractor would leave me crying with pain (we'll see how this is tomorrow before I start freaking out). And I did think that if Dina chose her favorite dinner, she would eat it. Dinner was just as painful and full of cajoling, threatening and yelling as it every night. Perhaps even more so. Dina is, after all, still 4 1/2.

Emma's half birthday gifts to Dina were drawings. She made some featuring Winnie-the-Pooh, which is what I am reading to Dina at bedtime. It was quite sweet and thoughtful. Dina even accepted them graciously.

I had also gotten Dina a little wooden cake set which she loved and started playing with right away.

My friend Kristin brought Dina the cutest Hello Kitty shirt and a lovely summer dress. Lars brought her the plush unicorn she has been eyeing in the company store for weeks. She made out pretty well for just a "half" birthday. (Yikes, what will she expect in December?!)

After gifts, we had the cake. Thank you, Betty Crocker. The sad thing is, Betty Crocker cake mix and frosting can only be gotten either in German, by mail order or if some kind person smuggles some in their suitcase when they visit Denmark (hint, hint). So it really is a treat.

I had thought the evening was turning out to be a bit of a bust, but then Emma and Dina starting playing together with the new cake set. And Emma composed and performed a happy half birthday song. Ear splitting, perhaps. But sweet. Very sweet.

- Most likely posted in a mad rush from one device or another...


Saturday, June 09, 2012

Someone's in the kitchen with Dina

"I LOVE chocolate!" declared Dina as I chopped up the chocolate block for cookies.

"Yes, I know." I replied dryly.

"Can I have one of those things you wear when you're cooking? You know, an open?" Dina asked.

"You mean an apron?"

"Yes! I need an apron. Where's an apron? Can I have an apron? Where is it? Can I have it? Please get it. Will you get it, will you get it, will you get?!"

The joys of baking with a four year old.

"Ut-oh. I had Daddy get more chocolate, which we don't need but I didn't ask for brown sugar, which we do need!" Oof. I stop, take off the apron, ready myself and Dina to go out into the rain, and to the store for brown sugar. Meeting Lars on the way out, he informs me that he did, indeed, go back to the store and got brown sugar when he got my panicked text.

"Where is it?!" I asked in my panicky voice.

"See, it's in this bag here, the I-went-back-to-the-store-to-get-sugar bag." He informed me, in the usual voice he uses when I use my panicky voice.

So Dina and I take off the rain coats and boots and put our aprons back on.

When we finish the dough, I say, "Let's try putting the dough in the refrigerator for an hour, making the dough into rolls and slicing bits off to make the cookies. I've never tried that before."

"I don't think that's a good idea." Dina says solemnly.

"We're doing it."

"Ok. Can I clean this?" she asks. Hell yes, I think. "Yes, thank you." I say.

"I'm the cleaner, and you're the baker!" Dina declares. We spend the next 20 minutes calling each other "Baker!" and "Cleaner!" and she's happy as a clam. The benefits of baking with an easily amused 4 year old.

For the next hour, both Emma and Dina come to ask me if the cookies are ready every 5 minutes.


The timer goes off and I check the the tollhouse cookie recipe. After an hour chilling, the dough needs to be shaped and go BACK in the fridge for another half an hour? Screw that.

I make three dozen cookies and put them in the oven.

Meanwhile, Dina wants to clean again. She ends up using most of the bottle of dishwashing liquid on two coffee cups. Yelling ensues. On both sides.

Finally the cookies are done. It only took almost three hours and my entire afternoon...

- Most likely posted in a mad rush from one device or another...


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Work visa

Two things are happening this evening... I'm trying to start blogging again using multiple devices (tonight my iPad makes it's blogging debut) and I'm preparing to spend hours at the Kolding police station tomorrow to renew my work visa.

- Most likely posted in a mad rush...