Sunday, July 29, 2012

celebrating two

Silja turned two earlier this week, and has been celebrated with several cakes, birthday songs in different languages, balloons and presents - including a bike helmet which she loves. We had her little friends over this weekend, and it was like seven little monkeys were let loose in the apartment, but it was fun and absolutely great to have a proper birthday party for her.
At two she speaks mostly Danish, but understands everything Bjarni says to her in Icelandic. There is a couple of words she always says in Icelandic: lika (also) and labba (walk). Her English vocabulary is slowly expanding: She will sometimes say thank you to us, instead of tak/takk, she walks around and tries to count to ten by herself, which goes well until four and then she continues in Danish, and she sings parts of English/American songs she has learned in music class: twinkle twinkle, ABC, ring around the rosie, bah bah black sheep, old macdonald (ol mafonal). We never hear her say any German words anymore, which is obviously quite understandable, but still a little sad, because Bjarni and I really liked those little German words coming from her. In September she'll start day care (just two days a week), and it'll be interesting to see how that affects her language.
She loves being with other kids and is not shy of walking up to them to say hello or give them a hug, she constantly has scratches and blue marks because of running everywhere (so wearing a helmet is not a bad idea). Lately we've also said hello to this little crazy kid that demands we HAVE to leave the stroller outside instead of inside, and she HAS to have that dirty stick with her, because otherwise it's the end of the world and she will lay down and screeeam. Ah yes.. those are fun times.
But in the end she is of course the cutest, brightest, funniest little person, which her mamma and far can't stop squeezing all day long.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

our impossible names

Names like Dorte and Bjarni, are just not working well in American English, which became obvious quite fast when we first arrived to Los Angeles. When Bjarni’s name was called in class it was Beejarney, and my name, well that without fail always creates its own little stir. ‘Now how do you pronounce it?’, ‘Can you spell that please?’ I should probably be better to introduce myself as Dortaah, and then we can perhaps move on, but it just feels so wrong, although I in fact find it charming to be Dorti, Dorta, Dorotey, and all those other versions.

So, it’s totally fine and surely a good conversation starter, when we first need to discuss and settle that whole name issue. However, sometimes a name is just something that needs to communicated fast, so we can move on to what really matters; like ordering a coffee. When you order coffee at Starbucks in America they ask for a name, and in those cases we have become John and Dora. Smooth and easy. Always. Bjarni used to be a Will in LA (after his last name Vilhjalmsson), but has now changed to John (close to his middle name Johan). I stick to Dora, which also ended up being what I was called in two of the jobs I had in LA. It felt very strange in the beginning, but now I don't even think about it.
I guess it’s bit of a paradox then that although we ourselves are always confronted with our strange names we have chosen a last name for our daughter that is hard to pronounce in anywhere but Iceland. Her last name is Bjarnadottir (daughter of Bjarni), which is in accordance with the Icelandic naming tradition. In Vienna they always just called out Anna in the pediatrician’s office, and we would pass by giggling nurses, who apologized and said they just couldn’t figure out that last name. I can soon spell that last name both forwards and backwards, because I do it all the time over here. But in the end there is a lot more in a name than just to clarify spelling or pronunciation. And in the case of the impossible Bjarnadottir it has to do with tradition and about a concrete sign of some roots, which I think is valuable when growing with more than one point of cultural reference.  

What's your experience with impossible names?

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

independence day

Yesterday we ventured into the city center along with thousands and thousands of other people to celebrate the American Independence Day. I was rooting for a real American 4th of July parade, when trying to make plans for the day the night before. We saw one when we lived in LA, and I figured firetrucks on parade, music, and little kids dressed in red, white and blue would be fun for Silja (and me!). Well, turns out Boston is the 'Olympics of 4th of July' according to a TV announcer, and they don't just do a parade. They have a whole festival spreading out over a week culminating in the 4th of July, which is packed with events ending with a massive firework show over Charles River. It was a beautiful summer evening, which unfortunately ended in a downpour. At that time we were luckily already home, watching the fireworks on TV. Happy 4th of July!

... and P.S. I spotted the dance walker by City Hall. Do you know him? If not, you need to see this and this clip. I promise it'll make you smile. I'm building up confidence to try it out. 
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Monday, July 2, 2012

thirty one

We spent yesterday touring around the coast north of Boston hanging out at Crane Beach and eating fresh seafood and ice cream in Rockport. I don't remember when was the last time my birthday felt so incredibly summerly. Hopefully 31 has good things in store for me -- it certainly started off nicely.
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