Wednesday, 29 July 2009

And then there were three

My sister and my niece and nephew have been visiting.
The house has been full of Noise and Mischief and Wii Games and Neee Nor Neee Nor, and Water-Ball Games. We've had Day-Trips Out and Rainy-Days In and Board Games and Films and Wine and Wet Clothes and Not Enough Milk.

We visited the Viking Land of Legends, where the children got to try canoeing in a hollowed-out tree trunk. Amazingly, they managed to get back to shore without anyone falling in. (Watching them go round in circles was very funny.) They also tried being archeologists and dug up a skeleton and ground grain to make flour and baked "biscuits" on a fire.
Another day, Samuel practised balancing at the Natur Legeplads.
And James got very wet there:

Nice picture of Louise (taken before the James-got-soaked episode):
Later, they all got soaked, this time it was a bit more fun:
Even Samuel thought so:

Finally, it all came to an end and, as per The Plan, Anna went back to England together with her aunt and cousins. She'll be home again (with Grandma and Grandad) in 10 days. Aksel and I looked at each other as the car drove away: What were we thinking!!!?? Seriously, what on earth were we thinking? It is too long to not have Anna around.

I went from a house with 7 people running around in it to just three. (Actually, only really 2 for most of the day as Aksel is officially Back-to-Work.) The house is Quiet. Too quiet.
Poor Samuel doesn't know what to think. His big playmates have gone and he is wandering around the house saying N-Anna play?!, Jam-es? Ell? Eeeeze? As though it is some never-ending game of hide and seek that they are playing and they will jump out at any moment. Boo!
Just for good measure, he will add in all the other names of family members that he knows:
D-orthe? Bar-bro? MarMor? Ga-ga? D-a-deee? And I explain where everybody is. In England, at her house, at work, at the summer house, in England, at work. Back soon.
Lather, rinse, repeat. It is exhausting.

Then he looks at me, the consolation prize, with a little concern, in case I start to take part in this game too: Mum-mee.

As far as I know, Anna is having a very good time so far and was really very happy about the whole adventure. I have chatted with her on the phone everyday and she has cheerfully told me all about what the passport man said to her at the airport and the film she has watched and how late they had got back and the bike she has already fallen off of. I realised that I hardly ever talk to her on the phone. She sounds so young. Just a little girl. With Anna it is easy to forget sometimes that she is only 7. We are all missing her.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


We all ended up at the summer house today - taking shifts in the hammock.

Anna told me a secret. Names have been changed to protect identities, so I thought I could tell the Internet. Apparently, Nice Little Girl who Anna sits next to at school is in love with Older Boy from football - but I was not to tell anyone, because it is a secret. And OB does not love NLG back. Ah, the trials of romance in the 7-year-old world.

There are lots of secrets floating around the Internet these days.

Have you seen this: ?

It is "an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard."

These secrets can be funny, poignant, tragic, bitchy. They all really give me pause for thought.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Despite the bleeding-head incident this morning (Samuel's), I've had a nice quiet day with Sam, just the two of us, because Anna and Aksel are up in the summer house, building a tree house.
We are having a hard time keeping up with Anna.
If she is not starting her own blog or writing her first best-seller, she is wanting to know how to create a computer game she has designed, or star in and direct her own film, or build a two-storey tree house in the garden, or whiz up a fancy three-tier chocolate cake with hand-painted marzipan-twirled roses.

Things with her are never simple. And they usually involve a project.

Don't get me wrong. She is great. And I am truly amazed by her every day. Her creativeness and ingenuity far surpass anything I could come up with. It's just that I feel that I constantly have to dampen her spirits and lower her expectations. Take, for example, having a couple of friends round to play - give Anna any amount of notice about such an event and she will have danced and somersaulted it into a pirate-themed afternoon, complete with hidden treasure, elaborately made treasure maps, boats, and water fights, and costumes. All for a run-of-the-mill play date on a Tuesday afternoon.

Before I know it, I am being roped in to finding cardboard and teabags (to make the map look authentically old), providing treasure (sweets and chocolates, please) and building genuine pirate ships with space for a crew of 7-year-olds.

The thing is, I appreciate her desire to really "do" things. Properly. On a grand scale. It is not about being spoiled or getting everything she desires - because she is really prepared to work at things and also to make do. She is normally happy with the usually far from ideal solutions or suggestions that I come up with to help with her fabulous plans. But it is just that it seems such a shame to keep having to lower her expectations and let her be disappointed by reality.

And I guess that is really the issue. We want to protect her from disappointments and the fact that in real life there is not always enough cardboard or icing sugar. Or time.

So far, she's taking it really well and it hasn't prevented her from coming up with new projects. All. The. Time. We hope this passion will last a lifetime for her. And that she can realise all her dreams.

Monday, 13 July 2009


We are looking at houses.

Having finally sold our old house a few months ago, Aksel and I are once again house-hunting. It took us 10 months to sell and I got very disheartened, what with all the constant cleaning up that it required and the little or no interest that was shown. In the end, I refused to look at anything that was for sale before we had managed to sell ours. But several bottles of Cillit-Bang! later, we received an offer on the condition that we could move out quickly. No problem, we said. But we couldn't find, fall in love with, place an offer, have it accepted, and move into our dream house in just 14 days, even if we had been the most super organized people (which we are definitely not). So we decided we would rent for a while. And then we were very, very lucky to be able to rent a good friend's awesome house, which she had just finished renovating.

And we have all settled in really well here, but we know it is only temporary and we'd better get looking for something else before the market starts recovering. Knowing us, it will take a while to find the right address.

Aksel and I have a bit of an ongoing competition between us about the number of countries that we have visited. He is waaay ahead of me having managed to sneak in a few good ones in the last few years as part of work trips (for example, Bangladesh and Bulgaria) and on account of a trip to Cuba and a supposed "work" trip snow-boarding in Canada. We have also been known to extend this competition to a list of all the homes we have ever lived in. Considering that neither of us moved around very much as children, we have quite a number of homes on the list. But this one is much less interesting competition-wise, because we've been together for ever and from about 1992 or something, we have had the same address as each other.

So, we are out house hunting tomorrow. By my calculations, this next one will be the tenth address that we have shared together. Hopefully, it will come with that extra bedroom/office space that would be so nice to have. And of course be within our budget, especially in light of the financial crisis.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

How did it get so late so soon?

Aksel and I went out to a proper grown-up dinner party last night. No kids. Eight other adults and plenty of good conversation, food, and drink. We couldn't remember the last time we had done something similar together. It was great fun, and stupidly thrilling to be out of the house at 5pm on a Saturday evening. We left Farmor in charge of Anna and Samuel and all went very well even though it was those horrible hours between 5pm and 8pm when children need feeding and washing and pyjama-ering and everyone, quite frankly, has had enough.

So anyway. Aksel and I left the long list of operating instructions with Farmor, (at least for Samuel. Anna is more self-operating these days.) But then, of course, there was also the DVD player, the TV remote(s), the cat, the tricky bath tap, and the oven, that all needed a little bit of explanation.

And then I needed a bit of extra time to actually make myself appropriate for adult company. Long gone are the days when a dash of lip gloss and splash of perfume will transform me into gorgeous and divine. Nope. We'd been in the garden all day so definitely needed a shower and then the whole what to wear thing rears its head (see the begininning of this post - it has been ages since we've done this - what does one wear?)

So, needless to say, we were running late. Not dreadfully. Just a bit. And we let our hosts know. In the end, we were 19 minutes late to be exact. It bothered Aksel much more than me. It must be a Danish/English difference, I think.

Unfortunately, Samuel didn't get the "sleep late" memo, and woke up as usual, nice and chirpy at 7am. So we have been paying the price for the late night today.
We spent much of the morning picking raspberries in the garden (well, Anna and I were picking, Samuel was eating) and then Anna ate them with icecream after lunch. And we're all on holiday tomorrow, so there's plenty of time to recover.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Please sir, can I have some more?

I have decided that Samuel was, in his previous life, a child from a very poor, large Dickensian family.

Picture the scene: many dirty-looking little urchins all clambering over the last stale bit of bread and the meagre broth that the poor mother manages to produce from nothing. The children have to be fast and fierce to get some food and they never really feel satisfied.

Back at our house, Samuel can sit down to a perfectly lavish feast, plenty to go round and leftovers for tomorrow even, and he'll start ramming food in his mouth with gusto. Then, after a few more bites, he will say to me "More. More?. More!" while thrusting his bowl at me. No amount of telling him will convince him that he does actually have quite a lot more still in his bowl (not to mention his mouth) and if he just chewed nicely and finished what he already had, I would gladly serve him some more.

No, he seems upset by the thought that maybe he won't get any more, so he'd better get some now, straight away, before it’s too late.

I've begun "fake" giving him more - that is, I take his bowl and dramatically tap spoonfuls of nothing much into it before I hand it back to him with exactly the same amount as before in it. He seems happy with this - at least for a few more bites.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Anna: Mummy, what is your favourite thing made out of wood ?

Me: (cautiously, cos I can see where this is going - she is eying up a bit of dowling and Aksel's toolbox) Ummm, a rocking chair, I think.

Anna: Yes, Sam would like that too.... (drifts off to investigate the bit of wood, but evidently decides it is too small - phew!)


Anna: Mummy, how much do toilets cost?

Me: .. ? ? ?.. (turns out she is designing us a new house and saving up for it too. She has 76 DKK, so we might have to abandon the plan for the 6th bathroom and the indoor football arena...)

Anna: Daddy, it is not fair, you two are always talking about the Internet and Blogs and things you've read - and I don't know what you mean.

Aksel: Well, that's because we are adults and sometimes we are talking about things that children aren't interested in or don't understand yet.

Anna: But it is just not fair. (Stomp stomp. Humpf. Goes on for much longer....)

Aksel: (trying to be understanding) It is a bit like driving. You have to be able to reach the pedals before you can drive a car.

Anna: (exasperated) But my legs are long enough to have a blog!

And that is why I helped my seven year old create her very own blog today. And she wrote her first post, which describes this conversation much better than I can, but I won't link to it because she wants to be anonymous to start with.

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Anna's after-school activities have wound down for the summer and we are talking about what she might like to do next year. She has been doing swimming and recorder lessons. She would like to do gymnastics and piano lessons. I think it is always a tricky balance between her doing too much (and me having to taxi her to and from these things) and yet letting her pursue some different interests and also be in a group outside of her school friends.
Also, if she is the next Olympic champion in archery, how will we know unless she has tried it?

A few years ago, Aksel decided he needed a hobby. Something other than work and family. So he took up macro photography, bought himself a fancy camera and has really enjoyed running out early in the morning to catch the light and the bugs and I have got used to him disappearing in a ditch while we are on a walk. As he got more into it, he ordered himself a new lens and more fancy equipment. You can see his great pictures on
Apparently, having a hobby is important in terms of your identity - it is important to define yourself other than just in terms of your job or your family. Perhaps especially in these times when more people are losing their jobs.

When Sam was about 3 months old, we visited Aksel's cousin, a busy doctor with two children of her own. And after hearing about Aksel's photography, she asked me what I did in my free time. Oh, how we laughed.

Free time? A hobby? Time to myself? Ha ha ha.

Seems like women with small children don't have any free time and certainly can't be pursuing a proper hobby. I know this is not exactly true for some super women - but it seems to be true for me in any case. Especially at that stage of baby-hood, when it is all about breastfeeding and not sleeping.

And I am not feeling resentful about this. I enjoy that Aksel has a hobby. And I'm glad he enjoys it. And now Samuel is getting a little older, I can see that I might have a little more available time, at some point. It's just that, if I get a spare moment, I am more likely to use it to lie on the sofa and eat chocolate.

Anyhow, is writing a blog classified as a hobby?