Sunday, 28 June 2009

Making a killing

As a foreigner in Denmark, I have made many language mistakes - some of which I am aware of and some I am sure I am luckily blissfully unaware of.
My Danish family are always very kind and forgiving about my Danish. There was the time when I told my mother-in-law that we were having roast kitten for dinner; the Danish word for chicken (kylling) being very close to the word for kitten (killing).
And the time where I mixed up the word for pillow with another very rude word that can't be written here. I have also told people at a very formal dinner party that I didn't want anything else to eat because I was too drunk ( I wasn't - I was full - which sounds the same as the Danish word for drunk.) I know I am not the only one to make these mistakes.
I have an English friend here who once cheerfully explained that her husband had caught, killed and barbecued a goat in their backgarden (she was really talking about a type of fish, a Pike, which is very similar to the word for goat in Danish).
My sister-in-law recently sent in an article to a Danish newspaper that they published. It was about a telegram that my father-in-law received when he graduated (in 1949). His English uncle, keen to congratulate him and having had an interest in language, particularly the scandinavian languages, since he had shared a trench with a Norwegian soldier in WWI, decided to write the telegram in Danish. And so he used an English-Danish dictionary to look up the words. When he looked up the word for "well-done" he found "gennemkogt" - which in Danish means "thoroughly boiled or cooked" (or well-done in the context of a steak). And this is what it says on the telegram.
Google-translate, eat your heart out!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Tales from the farm

Anna is officially on Summer Holidays and the weather is co-operating - it is hot, hot, hot! I managed to meet my work deadline and in theory should be relaxing, but really as any parent of small kids knows, any relaxation can only take place when they are sleeping. And since Aksel is currently hob-nobbing in the south of France, picking up awards at the advertising festival, I have been playing at being a single mother for the last few days. So, even less time than usual to do anything other than mother.
So that post about Samuel's words? Need to update that. A few days ago he said his first sentence: " Daddy havre" - admittedly a mixture of English and Danish, but clearly stating that he needed his Daddy to make him his porridge quick smart. And since then his language has really taken off. Just today he said 4 new words : Bubble, Go, Pitter-patter, and More (which all totally make sense if you saw what Anna, Sam & I were doing this afternoon - but you kind of had to be there).

And I haven't even mentioned his Tractor obsession, which at one point meant that he didn't want lunch because he had just got a new tractor to play with. I guess it is not so surprising that Samuel shares this thrill about farm vehicles with just about every other little boy. But he is able to have a whole conversation only using the word "tractor", just by changing his intonation. We are lucky enough to see tractors quite a bit now that we live in the countryside and he can go from hopeful expectation that we might see one (tractor.. tractor?) to total happiness (TRACTOR!) when one comes our way to slightly concerned (as the tractor passes us and keeps going, trac-tor??) and finally to desperation that the experience is over (Traaa-c-tooorR!)

We have been playing lots of games of farms, and in an attempt to find some way to make it more bearable for me (there are only so many times I can fix the fence and pretend to feed the cows before my mind starts wandering off) I tried to include Anna in them. She enthusiastically obliged but then I somehow found myself, in addition to the Samuel-level game of beep beep, tractor, moo, baa-a, also playing a complicated love-triangle saga involving three polly-pockets taking riding lessons at the farm, Jeremy (the teenage son of the farmer who was rather lazy and forgetful but hopelessly in love with polly pocket no. 1), and a dramatic fall complete with broken legs and ambulances. Talk about going from one extreme to another.

Aksel's back tomorrow. Yippee! I'm looking forward to some adult conversation.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Too busy to blog

What is it about the end of the school year? We are heading in a frenzy towards the last week of Grade 1 and in the past few days I have attended or been invited to attend:
  • A football match, Anna was a defender and was very pleased with the silver medal awarded to the runners up ( they lost 3-4)
  • The Lucky Viking - A musical performance staring all the school - Anna was middle of the middle row of the chorus, singing the first and last songs. Could just glimpse her through the small K1 children and the ambitious lighting. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. And as an aside, think the teachers were really brave for putting this on.
  • Grade 1 open house - this was yesterday, the children recited their poems etc about the vikings. I just made it with about 30 seconds to spare - literally grabbed Sam up from his nap and threw him in the car. Fed him handfuls of raisins throughout the whole thing to keep him quiet.
  • Activity Day - this is tomorrow, another middle of the day one - running around, cheering on the School houses and dressing in the appropriate colours. Even providing snacks in the right colours (red - I'm thinking watermelon, if I manage to get to the supermarket today).
  • Grade 1 end of year party - on the weekend this one, more running around, more snacks - wouldn't be so bad schedule wise, only I've double-booked myself and I'm not sure how to get out of it!
  • Another whole school end of year party - on the beach, running around, more food platters to be conjured up

Even Sam's nursery is getting in on the act and we are supposed to participate in an Arbejdsdag, the Sommerfest, the Bondegårdstur, the fælles frokost, and so on. Not to mention the forældresamtale, where they tell you what a harmonious and advanced baby you have (as if we didn't already know that).

In reality I think these events are less to do with the children and more to do with the parents. But they often have little respect for the working parent's schedules (even those part-time-flexible-schedule-working-from-home-types) or those with extra little children running around.. and in these last few weeks it has been tough for me to keep up. And I don't think I am the only one...not all the parents managed to make it to this open house thing and it must be hard to be the little girl or boy who is one of the only ones in the class not showing off their folder to an adoring adult.

All these things really eat into the little time I have available to work. Might be also to do with the fact that I have a work project going on at the moment that is giving me a headache and it isn't helping that my PC seems to have caught some major infestation that makes it go so slow that I feel like I am back in 1990 (remember that, when it was normal to wait minutes for pages to load?).

Anyway, all I have to do is find those errant reading books and get Anna to return them to school before her last day. Figure out some time to get to the physiotherapist appointments (to fix my messed up arms - a result of trying to do much of all this one-handed with Sam on my hip). And plan delicious dish(es) to take with me to all these events (do you think I can get away with a packet of biscuits? No, I think not).

Oh, and throw some clothes in the washing machine, unless it is appropriate to turn up half dressed.

(I obviously have no time to blog. Oh, that's right. It's called procrastinating.)

Saturday, 13 June 2009


We've just had really torrential rain. All day yesterday and all night it rained. I got soaked to the skin just running to the car to pick up Anna from school. And it has gone all cold too. Since we have more or less decided that we are not going anywhere for the summer holidays, I am hoping that this is not an indicator of the summer to come.
It is hard to imagine that just last weekend we were doing this:

And this:
And this:

This was taken at the beach up in Hornbæk. Anna was actually very brave because the water was still really cold.

And they've also been doing this:They were talking about the stuff that they like. Which inspired Aksel and I to do this:

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark?

We've been up to Elsinore Castle, Kronbørg, to visit the royal opening of Farmor's exhibition Pomp and Propaganda. And when we say "Royal opening" we mean the Danish Queen was there. Making a speech. Talking to my mother-in-law about her tapestry. Enjoying the exhibition, wandering around amongst the ordinary folk. It was all very relaxed. I was quite surprised by the lack of security. I mean, the event was by invitation only, but really ours was barely looked at at the door and we were allowed to take many bags and a pushchair into the building. If someone had wanted to make a scene, or attempt something terrible, it would have been fairly easy to pull off.

I think it was partly the location that got me thinking along these lines... afterall, Kronborg is the true location of Shakespeare's Hamlet and that had plenty of murdererous goings on within that royal family. You'd think in today's modern world, there would be more security around the Danish monarch. It is not as though Denmark hasn't made itself some enemies lately...

Anyway, something was definitely not rotten in the state of Denmark - at least not yesterday. The exhibition was really great and one my mother-in-law can feel very proud of.

When we decided it was time to bundle ourselves home as Samuel and Anna probably had about 5 minutes of good behaviour left between them, we tried to find Farmor to say goodbye.

We found out that she was not available because at that moment she was in one of Kronborg's towers, weaving for the queen.

Sounds like something out of a fairytale.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Grandma is visiting

And she is a big hit with Samuel. Not least because she has lots of patience to play ball, drive cars, play peek-a-boo, and read stories. One of the best things about Grandma's visit (according to Samuel) is the book she bought with her - Tom's Cat by Charlotte Voake. The front cover features a cat on a motorbike - A Cat on a Motorbike - In Samuel's world things don't get much better than that. We are already on about the 1000'th reading.

Mi-aow! V-room!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

What I am reading

I just finished reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It was a really fantastic, terrifying, traumatic, and harrowing read that I just could not put down. It reminds you to hold on to to the people you love just a little tighter and to appreciate that beauty and goodness are all around us. It is a haunting book.

Before this one, I just finished The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

Other than that, work wise I am reading some extremely tricky descriptions of paintings and sculptures that I am trying to translate.

And I am dipping in and out of Anna's Harry Potter book again along with her. We're just getting to the big finale.

And I am reading What Shall We Do Blue Kangaroo? by Emma Chichester Clark to Samuel many many times. Along with I love you, Blue Kangaroo, they are definite favourites. He loves them. Especially the part when the baby says "Goo goo, boo gangaloo!"

Waiting by my bed is The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. I loved the Lovely Bones, so I hope this is just as good.

Edited to add that I just got The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz in the fat parcel that arrived from Amazon today. Along with The Angel's Game (from the author of Shadow of the Wind) and a Jaqueline Wilson something for Anna that she has already started. Now all I need is some uninterrupted hours for reading.

Monday, 1 June 2009

What Anna is reading

Anna is a prolific reader and really this post deserves a whole blog of its own!This picture was taken a week or so ago when Anna was reading the 6th Harry Potter. As you can see she was nearly finished with it. She is currently about half way through the final book. I keep asking her if she understands what is going on and she seems to be really getting it and enjoying the story and the characters. Occasionally she will ask me what a word means, but not very often. Anna loves reading. She describes it herself as "diving in" to a book and she will gladly get "lost" for hours on end, immersed in a story. It is a great pleasure for me to see her enjoying books that I have really enjoyed too and remember as a child.
She has several books on the go at the same time. And can often be found enjoying Aksel's comic books too, including Viggo and TinTin.
She also loves the Roald Dahl books and has read and re-read many of them. I just asked her which one is her favourite and she said Matilde.