Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last Night in Denmark

Wow ...

Its crazy to think that this is my last night in Denmark.

That tomorrow night we will be back in the US.

That we have an 8 1/2 hour flight with 2 little kids.

And that life will change alot in the next day.

We have been BUSY the last few weeks. Of course we were packing, packing, packing. And Brad was gone all last week in Germany for work. They had to drive to Munich because of the volcano ash problem, but he was lucky enough to get a flight home. While he was gone I was trying to get the house as ready as I could to move. Of course the problem with moving is that some of the stuff you can't do until the last day or two ... like kitchen things, bedding, clothes.
And Anika didn't make it easy to get things done. She loved to climb into whatever suitcase or box I was working on and pull everything out. She thought she was so funny. =)

We did get everything packed up thanks to help from some good friends and tuesday morning we got the container packed in only a couple hours.
Brad was able to recruit some good friends from work to help us out. Thank you guys!

One last picture in front of our house. It was an emotional week, so many lasts, so many goodbyes, so many tears ... and so little sleep.

Our flight left for Copenhagen tuesday evening and we were EXHAUSTED!!! I haven't been this tired in a long time, but I think for the last couple weeks, I've been going, going, going and when we finally got it all done, my body crashed. So we slept good last night. And the hotel we are staying at gave us an extra room for the kids ... SO nice!

Today is Brad's birthday. 2 years ago on his birthday we were in Denmark for the first time and he moved here in June. Now we are celebrating our last day here on his birthday. Happy Birthday babe!!! We hope you had a great day. It was nice to have a day between shipping the container and making the trek home to catch our breath and catch up on sleep.

We had a relaxing day and visited Kronborg Castle north of Copenhagen. This is the castle from Hamlet, if any of you have read the book (probably way back in high school).

We had a simple dinner at an American restaurant near our hotel ... hey -we have to get back in the American mode, right?
Overall, this has been a great experience and we have made memories that we will never forget and have made friendships that will last a lifetime. We have learned a lot about ourselves and have definitely grown - having to get out of your comfort zone does that to you.

We will miss Denmark a lot and miss the people a ton, but as I sit here in our hotel room, I'm excited to come home. I'm excited to see everyone again, get settled into our new house, and start new again.

We are excited to see family and especially for the kids to be by cousins and grandparents. I am excited to be somewhere where everyone speaks English all the time. Brad is excited for more space ... you know everything is bigger in America! (I think he's mostly excited for bigger parking spaces for his car.)

I have tons of pictures and stories from the last few weeks, but I needed to keep this fairly breif. I need to get to bed so I'm rested for tomorrow. Pray for the kiddos on the flight ... in particular Anika. She's not known to be a fan of sitting still.

And next time you hear from me, we'll be stateside .... so look out, because here we come!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What we've been up to ...

This is what we've been busy doing ...
Only 2.5 weeks until we are residents of the US once more. I can't believe how fast it is. We are busy these last few weeks, but so many people we want to see, and SO much we need to get done.

One last holiday

Over Easter, we took one last holiday before we leave Europe. We took a flight to London and headed west to a great holiday center called Centerparc at Longleat Forest. It was a really great place with tons to do with the children. On the way, we passed Stonehenge, so of course we had to stop there.

The resort is like its own little village. Cars aren't allowed in there, so we had to walk or ride bikes everywhere we went. The kids loved riding behind the bikes and it was nice not having to worry about traffic and it gave us good exercise ... you would not believe the hills. Ouch!

I didn't get many pictures when we were there, too busy riding bikes and playing with the kiddos.
There were kid's clubs for the kids. Broderick loved it.
They had an Easter egg hunt also. Broderick was thrilled with the Easter bunny, and ran up to hold his hand when he saw him.
There were several different good restaurants within the village.
But when I order a fish, I prefer to not have the skin, head and eyeballs still attached. I wasn't even sure how to eat it. I had to cover up the eyeball, I couldn't handle that.
We visited Longleat Palace nearby our resort.

After we left Longleat, we had one day until our flight went back to Denmark. (There's only 2 flights perweek.) We stayed at a charming bed and breakfast. They had sheep there and Broderick loved chasing after them.
Our last day, we visited Salisbury Cathedral. It houses one of the original Magna Cartas, but you're not allowed ot take pictures. of it.
It also has the oldest working clock in the world, from the 1300s. It doesn't actually tell time, but chimes every hour. Brad the engineer was quite enthralled with figuring out how it worked.
And here's Broderick burning some energy before the trek back to the airport.
We love England. Its beautiful countryside, people are friendly, and they speak English. Can I just say I love the way they talk? Love it, can't always understand what they're saying (even though its English), but I love it!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anika's 1st Birthday

Happy Birthday to our little girl. Now I realize I'm a little late since her birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but I still wanted to share her celebration. Here she is on her big day....
She's come a long way in one year.
She is a fun little girl who we enjoy so much and lovingly refer to as Destructo.


Well, because she destroys everything. She likes to empty ever drawer or cabinet she can get into, which is quite a bit. She is a climber too. Amazing the things she is able to get on top of.

I know we should child proof things, but its not our house and we are leaving so soon. So right now she keeps me busy and gets me to exercise by chasing her around.

She's not walking yet, only a couple of steps at a time ... IF you can convince her to try.
Our drawers are no longer organized, things come out and we just toss back in.
She's obsessed with Brodrick's shoe basket. Pulls it out and throws every shoe out. She could do this all day.
And heaven forbid she gets a hold of a tissue or paper of any sort. She will shred it.


But, even with her destructive tendencies, we still love her to pieces and can't imagine life without her. She adores her big brother, even when he steals toys out of her hands and pushes her over. I guess that's what big brothers are for.

Since we didn't have any real family to celebrate with, we invited some of our Danish family over for a small party.
Here's Broderick and Sanne (our babysitter) helping with the cake. She ate it very ladylike, just a little piece at a time, not making a mess at all .... until she threw it on the floor.
Here's the cake, this is the first cake that I decorated and cut out myself. It was a lot of fun and you could even tell what it was supposed to be. What? You can't tell? Its a dog people!

Here's Anika's little cake:
The Danes liked the tradition of giving the 1 year old their own cake to destroy.

Our neighbors were at the party. Anika loved their baby and kept pulling out the pacifier and gently putting it back in.
Broderick was right there to help her with her gifts, and you can see Grandma and Grandpa Schmidgall made it to the party via skype (on the computer in the background).
Here she is with Kirstine (her danish Grandma).
She loves riding her wheely bug. Her legs aren't quite long enough, so we have to push her around on it.
(hey - more exercise)

She has had quite the first year...

Born in a foreign country, she has already been to 11 different countries. (What?????) She has been such a trooper with all the travel and strange beds, and it is such a tragedy she won't remember any of it.
She has been a healthy little girl too, she has never had to go to the doctor for an illness. (mommy is very thankful for this, since our doctor doesn't won't speak English to me).
Anika, we love you so much. We are so thankful God has given you to us. You brighten our days with all of your smiles and giggles and we can't imagine life without you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Difficult Language

Since living here, I regret not learning the language better. I mean, I can survive when I'm forced to speak the language, but by no means am I fluent. Brad is WAY better than me, but even he has difficulty understanding when people speak. Broderick is doing well. He'll suprise us often with new phrases and words and his teachers say he understands everything they say to him.

Its not because we're slackers or we haven't tried .... this language is hard. They talk like they have potatoes in their mouth, and I'm not being mean when I say that. Even danes say they talk like that.

Its extremely difficult to pronounce and things that I think I'm saying perfect, they give you a blank stare. They correct me and I'm thinking ... yeah, that's what I said. Clearly (or unclearly), its not what I said.

Let me give you some examples:

In our phonetic English, we would say: Bron-der-slev ... exactly like its written
How its really said: Broin-er-sleu ... or something like that because apparently I still can't say this name.
This is a grocery store here.
Looks like: love-berg
Correction: Lyoo-bee-ya ... again - or something like that because I'm probably still saying that wrong.

This is where Brad works.
Looks like: PETER-shobb
Correction: Pellers-HOPE
... and the accent is on the hope - very important.

And as far as this street sign is concerned ...
we won't even go there.

See, so there are some difficulties - correction, there are a lot of difficulties. But - it has been fun learning a new language. And we have been so fortunate that so many danes speak great English.

Sadly, after all this work... in a matter of weeks, we won't need this language again.

I have fantasies of working in the hospital again and suddenly there will be a patient who only speaks danish --- then it will be Megan to the rescue. But lets be honest ... the chances are very slim. Like I said before, most of them speak great English.

So my danish friends ... you'll have to help us keep up our skills.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Grocery Shopping

Before we leave here, I thought I would share a little about grocery shopping over here. In a lot of ways, its very similar and you can find many of the same things that we would have in the states.

In other ways, it is very different. Things are overall healthier here. Not nearly so many preservatives, not very many "convenience" foods, and things aren't as processed. What does this mean? Well, on the up side, it means we eat healthier overall. Obviously, things are more organic, less additives, this is better for you. On the down side ... you have to go grocery shopping every couple of days. Things just don't have the shelf life that they do back home. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I mean, do you really want bread that is still soft and fresh after a week? When you think about it, its just not right. BUT, it is convenient, and its sometimes annoying when things go bad so fast.

I've had to learn to make a lot more things from scratch too. This has been really good for me. Simple things like cream soups they don't have, I never realized how many recipes have this in there. So I either make them from scratch or don't use the recipe (which usually aren't the healthiest anyways). Ranch dressing ... pumpkin pie ... cranberry sauce ... yellow birthday cake ... stuffing  ... the list goes on. I've been forced to be more adventurous in my cooking which I may have never done if I wasn't forced too. But I've learned some things aren't that hard at all and like with the soups, you can control the sodium and things like that.

Let me introduce you to, what I think is the Danes' national food ...

This is rugbrød. A very heavy, dense, fiber-filled, earth tasting, disgusting, healthy rye bread. Danes live for this bread. I mean they really live for this bread. The love it, they defend it, and they are highly offended when us white bread loving americans aren't crazy about it. (Admit it danes, deep down, you are offended). They give you this look and pause and say, "BUT, its SO healthy." That may be, but I really do think you have to grow up on it  to love it. I try to defend myself by explaining we like to eat something called whole wheat, but I don't think that counts. To them its either rugbrød or white bread.

Ok, Ok, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on it. When Oprah was in Copenhagen, she loved it. And my parents are crazy for it too. I will admit, If you get it fresh from the bakery, its a lot better than the regular stuff at the grocery store.

They have some produce here that we don't have (or at least where we're from). Here's a few examples ...
This is sharon fruit, it comes from Israel.
Honning melon - Broderick LOVES this.

We have a lot of produce from Cuba. I think this is strange for me to see since nothing from Cuba is allowed in the states.

I think one of the biggest differences would be the cereal aisle. There's not near the choices here.
Above, here is the cereal at one of our larger grocery stores.
Below, a portion of a typical cereal aisle in the USA.
And the majority are corn flakes. They only have a few sugared cereals. The equivalent of frosted flakes, Smacks, and cocoa pebbles.

Check out the difference in our snack food aisles.
And we wonder why americans are overweight. haha.

Groceries are a bit more expensive here as well. I would say we spend about double of what groceries cost back in Iowa. For example, when you're buying milk, you're lucky if you can get it on sale for about 1$ for a liter, that would be about 4$ for 1 gallon.

But its still much cheaper than going out to eat. If you want one of these:

You'll spend about 8-10$ and there's no free refills.(ahhh, we miss those.)
They want you to eat healthy, so they make you pay for unhealthy choices. But its not like, drink water, it's free. No, they charge you for water too. So we eat at home much more than we did in the states, also a much healthier option typically.

Just like they tax you for unhealthy eating choices, they tax you for non eco-friendly choices. You have to buy your grocery bags at the store, so (if I remember) I bring reusable bags to the store with me.

I hope I don't sound negative on Denmark. We love it ... but is not an inexpensive place to live.

Valentine's Date ... a little late

We finally got to have a date last night to celebrate Valentine's day. Brad was in the US on the actual holiday. Last week we had a babysitter lined up but there was a snowstorm, so we finally got to go out last night. It was so nice to have a night out with my sweetheart. I love you Brad!