Tuesday, December 11, 2012

happy holidays

We are leaving tomorrow afternoon for a long awaited trip back to Denmark and Iceland for Christmas. Weeh! We are so excited to see everyone. Silja woke up with a fever today, so fingers crossed she is better tomorrow. In addition to all the for us usual Christmas traditions, we have spent the last week also celebrating and learning more about Hannukah through our sweet neighbors who invited us for latkes and lightening of the Hannukah Menorah, and Silja's daycare which threw a party and provided goodie bags with a dreidel and Hannukah chocolate-gelt. 
Now we are packing up our suitcases, stuffing them with Christmas presents and warm socks and are looking forward to catching up with dear ones, relaxing, eating æbleskiver in Denmark and Icelandic lamb in Northern Iceland. Lucky us.

Whatever you are celebrating, we wish you happy happy holidays!
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

troublemaking baby

I was unable to keep it a secret for anyone I knew over here, and quickly shared the exciting news of an addition to our family back in the hot days of summer to all the other moms I knew on the playgrounds. I was nauseous and dead tired, but it was a happy surprise that we would add another little one to this unit of ours.  Having had an easy first pregnancy I was confident all would go smooth with this second one, and just curious to experience how the whole process would be in America compared to my experience in Austria.
The second trimester started off with an ultrasound that showed abnormalities in the fetus, which resulted in what seemed like endless screenings, ultrasounds, blood tests, meetings with specialists and genetic counselors, and beyond all a lot of worry. Ugh!
We are by default connected to a Harvard affiliated hospital, and they have been amazing and extremely thorough in the whole process.  We have undergone a lot of genetic and other tests, some of which are still unavailable in Denmark, Iceland or Austria. This is both good and bad, because they have looked into so many details that could potentially be something (hello worry…!) but then turned out to be nothing. As the cardiologist, who saw us at Boston Children’s Hospital said, we end up having a healthy baby, but the two of us have lost our mind in this whole process from everything the doctors (with their best intentions) have put us through.
They have ruled out known genetics disorders (after initially standing with 50-30% risk for Downs etc.), they have detected a strange chromosome 2, which turned out to be inherited from me (and hence not dangerous), they were concerned about the kidneys, which later turned to out to be okay, and they found a bad heart defect at 20 weeks, which made us schedule a time for an abortion (which was just heartbreaking). The abortion was canceled one day before scheduled, because the heart to the cardiologist’s big surprise looked healthy and normal one week after the initial finding.
All in all it’s been such a rollercoaster ride between happy excitement and extreme worry, about either preparing for a baby, who was not entirely normal and healthy or having to decide if the outlooks were so bad that we were not going to continue.
But here we are now on the doorstep to the final trimester with a rapidly growing bump that has been examined to the extreme, and which valuable inside now looks like it should according to the doctors. We have been left alone for a month, and it’s been a month of searching for and finding trust in the fact that everything is indeed all right, and letting happiness and excitement out rule worry and anxiety. It's a gradual process, but we are getting there... 
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I keep wanting to update this space with our pretty amazing American daycare experience, a growing bump and a little brother on his way to our family (!), HSSPA and just the ordinary details of life in general. I know from earlier that this way of keeping track of our experiences and thoughts abroad is fun to have later on, but time keeps running away from me. Our camera is currently - and sadly - out of order, so in order not to completely neglect this space, here's some outtakes until I return with more words. 
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

two years, three languages

I got myself a notebook and started making notes about Silja's management of several languages. I'm not one (yet) to make a lot of parental notes, but having grown up in a monolingual environment myself it's fascinating to see how all these languages affect her linguistic development. Probably this will be of interest to her too one day. I thought I would share some of it here.
Her vocabulary has exploded over the last half a year or so. She continues to speak mostly Danish, but is mixing in Icelandic words and expressions.
Sýna far klistermærkerne (show dad the stickers)
Tiger búrningur (tiger costume)
Hvor biða? (wait where?) 
Some of the words I don't always understand, and I'm trying to make sense of what she is trying to say. Hvor er der biler?! Tiger børn?! Hvad snakker du om...? So I'm slowly expanding my Icelandic vocabulary as well, although she is clearly already ahead of me (to my defense I'm not read to in Icelandic).

After she started daycare, English words are also popping up daily, and are thrown into sentences. Wash your hands, cow, jumping, let's go, sit down, please. Almost every time she returns, she will say something new. Today was the word tissue. She doesn't always get it completely right, as it is with words in Danish and Icelandic, and it sometimes takes time for us to figure out what she is trying to say. She came home a few weeks back and was singing the same sentence over and over again Shalom, how are you? Shalom, how are you? Shalom, how are you? It was extended a couple of days later to How are you TODAY? One day when I was making dinner, she was playing daycare with her stuffed animals, her current favorite role play game. She had organized a little pretend circle-time and was singing over and over again I fain, hahlaba-tju, I fain, hahlaba-tju. And, of course, I realized after hearing it repeated again and again, it was the next line in the song. Shalom, how are you, how are you today? I'm fine, how about you? We still don't know how the rest of the song goes...

This clip has horrible light, but as you can see we continue to hear and occasionally participate in pretend circle time and the daycare song. See video here.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

hurricane and halloween

We made it safely through the hurricane. Thankfully it didn't turn out to be too bad here, although it was incredibly stormy. The whole city was more or less shut down so the three of us stayed in following the news, cooking, playing, and looking out the window. I thought Alex' comment in the previous post about nothing better than sitting around the house, watching wild weather exploding safely outside, and confidently knowing you've got plenty of pie, was excellent advice, so we woke up and made apple pie! We were afraid power would go out, but luckily that didn't happen. It's fun how such out of the ordinary events bring you closer to the people that live around you. We had neighbors knocking on our door to check if we owned the car that was stuck underneath the fallen tree that was dangling on top of some power lines (we didn't), and another neighbor came to borrow an egg. Everybody was stuck at home and had plenty of time to chat.

Today we've been celebrating Halloween, or I guess it's been building up over the last couple of days with monster cup cakes and jack o'lanterns. I couldn't figure out the trick or treating part though. I didn't know if Silja was too young, so I ended up sending an email to the organizers of a local city-organized event explaining we are these Halloween-clueless Europeans and would it be appropriate for a toddler? I got a long email back explaining it would be everything between tiny babies in costumes to grand parents partaking in the event, and we should please show up and join the fun. So we went trick or treating with lots of other big and small kids and parents and dogs down the local main street, and the highlight was clearly the police station that had someone dressed up as dogs. Silja kept petting and following the bull dog and didn't want to leave him. I guess the highlight for the rest of us has been eating some of all that candy she got...
Happy Halloween!

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

head of the charles

We went to see the Head of the Charles Regatta last weekend with rowing boats going up and down the Charles River. It had been raining and lightning like it was the end of the world during the night, but then it cleared up in the morning and was such a pretty day with fall colors and rowing boats on the river. 
At the moment we are trying to figure out to what degree to prepare for hurricane Sandy. Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency, and our electricity company and Harvard have sent emails about the importance of stocking up on water, flash lights, food, and medicine if needed. Apparently the power might go out for several days. The whole scenario is completely foreign to a Dane and an Icelander, and I suppose quite unusual for the locals here too. Fingers crossed it won't be too bad for this region or for all those further south.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the cape

When you live in Boston, you hear a lot about "the Cape", which seems to be the desired vacation spot for the Bostonians. A couple of weekends ago we finally made it to the long sandy beaches and the little New England villages, and I totally get the hype of Cape Cod. It was such a neat place, and we MUST go back next summer, although I can only imagine it is then jampacked with overheated city people.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

foliage and pumpkins

It seems like every other weather forecast at the moment brings the latest on the foliage situation around New England -- the region is famed for fall leaf viewing, and just about now is apparently the time to go on scenic drives around this corner of New England. We have slowly seen the transition from green to red, yellow and brown. There is still a lot of green, but still it's oh so pretty.
We spent the weekend walking through parts of downtown Boston and driving up to the Topsfield Fair to meet up with friends. The agricultural fair was very American with country music and fried food (including fried chocolate bars), but hot cider (much better than pumpkin spiced coffee!) lots of pumpkins plus a temperature drop of 10 degrees made it feel very fall'ish. Today I got the sore throat to prove my lack of appropriate fall clothing. 
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'happy yom kippur!'

I overheard the others saying it when leaving Silja's new daycare center yesterday and when the receptionist at the front desk answered the phone, and so we also left the place wishing the staff Happy Yom Kippur. Last week the daycare was closed two days for Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish new year. Besides a lot of Boston College students our new neighborhood is influenced by a large Jewish community. The local supermarket has in addition to an extremely large selection of hummus and pickles, a section with Shabbat candles, gefilte fish, matzo bread, and so on. Some of it gives me flashback to the time I spent in Israel working in a kibbutz way back.
On Saturdays the streets are busy with families rushing to and from the many synagogues in the area.  Men in black suits and black hats, little boys in black suits, women in long skirts and girls in dresses.
The anthropologists in me can't help of taking mental notes of what I observe, and it really makes me want to understand the religion and the culture is encompasses it in much more detail. 

I had to go back to Cambridge tonight for a meeting, and when going back there I instantly miss it. It's just so nice, and I guess it still feels much like home compared to this place, but the Jewish trait that characterizes our new area, is a definitely on the plus side. I'm ready to learn more. 
Shalom and l'chaim (the kibbutz volunteer vocabulary...)

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Monday, September 24, 2012

fall weekend

The weekend started out with grey skies and alone time for me to get familiar with a new friend: a sewing machine. It was accompanied by a real fall treat: pumpkin spice latte, which unfortunately sounds much better than it actually is. Ew, I'm not a fan -- yet...  We took a walk around our neighborhood lake to visit Boston college, which old tower we can spot from our side of the lake. It ended with a lot of sunshine, apple picking and catching up with friends from both Los Angeles and Michigan. A good weekend indeed!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

catching up

At the moment one day is taking the other, and although I continue to think about blogging I lack the time to sit down and do so. So catching up from last post: From the basement in an upscale neighborhood in Cambridge we are readjusting to a 2nd floor apartment with lots of light and a new neighborhood in Brighton. It hasn't exactly been an easy move. I never shared the process of finding an apartment in Boston, but it was such a pain I didn't bother to go into the details here. In brief the availability of rental apartments in Boston/Cambridge have dropped from 10% to 1% this year resulting in a limited market and very high prices (although it is already expensive). We were looking on our own, through (recommended) real estate agents and via hints from friends and acquaintances. Everything we saw was in such poor condition and it was so discouraging see our requirements go lower and lower as we saw what was available. Because we were looking for something from September 1st, the biggest move-in date of the year in Boston, the market was extremely aggressive, and we were advised to be quick if we saw something we liked as it might otherwise be taken by others. So we came to this place in Brighton, and it look more decent than anything else we'd seen. There was a balcony, a good layout of the apartment and other little kids in the building. We were told another couple was going to look at the apartment in the afternoon. On our way home we decided to take it. Bjarni was biking down to Brighton to pay the deposit, while I went to see one last apartment in Somerville. Before he paid the security deposit he called me, who was inspecting another really crappy place, and I could tell him to just go ahead with the check.
We then got the place two weeks ago. It was so dirty and things which they promised would be fixed were still broken... Ugh! For a little while we were trying to figure out how to get out of our one year contract, because we were so disappointed with the place. Since then we have been scrubbing it all down thoroughly, complained to the landlord who have sent cleaners and carpet guys. And now it's slowly coming together. It's far from perfect, but it's our home now and man are we going to make the best of it!
I'll be back again soon. With updates about our new Jewish neighborhood, our American child care experience, pictures of this new home of ours and more. See you soon. :)
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

packing again

Just as Cambridge and the Harvard area is filling up with students, who are either returning or arriving for the first time with proud parents and stuff to fill a dorm room, we are getting ready to leave our temporary, first home here in the Boston area. Ay, we are going to miss it here: Hanging out at Harvard Yard, the playground by Cambridge Common, the good coffee shop down at Mt Auburn, the library, the friends around the corner and so on, but we can't fit into this apartment anymore. Our boxes from Vienna have arrived waiting to be unpacked, all the knick knacks and pots and pans from Boston's only IKEA are standing around (unpacked) in the living room, and this afternoon a couch we bought 2nd hand from two Icelandic girls arrived and hardly fits in. Over the weekend we'll be moving, and I'm so excited to get to unpack everything properly and create a proper home for the three of us. Silja will for the first time have her own room. Hoorray. That extra room really has been long underway.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012


Summer has seeped into this space, and although there are many things to share, my time in front of a computer is currently minimal... Hence the silence. I don't remember when was the last time a summer seemed to last this long. Apart from the occasional downpour and thunderstorm it feels like it has been warm, sunny sandal-weather for three months straight. Even the locals comment on how great this summer apparently is. And since I'm mostly hanging out with a toddler, we are outside pretty much all the time. Pretty amazing when the weather is so good, although I must admit I am sort of ready for next season to come. Most weeks looks like each other this summer: While Bjarni is at work, the rest of us are out and about, hanging out with friends, going to different playgrounds, and when the humidity and heat gets too high stay inside. We've got the hang of renting a car on weekends, to get out of the city and explore. We went to New Hampshire in the area by Lake Winnipesaukee a couple of weekends back, which was so relaxing and different from our own little neighborhood we have come so accustomed to by now. Some pretty exciting things are brewing though: an upcoming move to our own place (double yay!), our last many boxes of stuff finally on their way from Iceland, Silja starting daycare and some projects I'm working on to balance out my current career as a homemaker.
Until September though we will continue this full on summer mode. So see you later, later...

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