Thursday, December 26, 2013

our december

This year our december has been filled to the brim with everything Christmas related, and as much as I have soaked up and loved the baking, crafting, listening to and watching Christmas music and TV shows, I'm very much ready to pack away the decorations now, and return to normal. So a quick Christmas-filled look back on our December.
When I look at the pictures we took this month, Silja seems to be in every single one of them. And for good reason I guess, since she was so stocked about all the extra surprises and sugar December is full of, which made it all the more fun for the rest of us. As is the tradition in many Danish families we had an elf (nisse) visiting us this year, who occasionally made tricks in our home, while we slept at night (a tea party for the teddys and dolls, turning our milk green, setting a festive table for breakfast etc.) and who put little surprises in Silja's stocking too. We had two snow storms during December, which covered everything in white and meant snow falling while decorating our (first!) Christmas tree as well as sled rides and snow angels. All the snow melted away a couple of days before Christmas eve, but it was fun while it lasted.
Christmas Eve was celebrated like we are used to: after extensive search we managed to find a duck for our dinner. We danced around the tree (as we do in Denmark) and opened presents. As an American twist Silja did what American kids do: She put out cookies and a glass of milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeers, and then we went to bed on the 24th, curious to see if Santa would stop by while we slept. And he did!! And how lucky he knew that what Silja wanted most of all was a scooter. Apparently he also knew that Jonas, who otherwise only babbles, wanted a train set. We hope both the elf and Santa figures out we will be on a different continent by next Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you!
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

a thanksgiving birthday

This year Thanksgiving collided with Bjarni's birthday, so it was a good excuse to have people over. It all fell into place the day before: four families with eight adults, four little girls and three babies. A Jewish American family, two Israeli families and us, so of course our get together also called upon a celebration of Hanukkah, which is going on now until December 5th.
We started out with pancakes for breakfast, saw the big Macy's Thanksgiving parade from New York on TV, and spent most of the afternoon preparing all the side dishes to the Turkey that was already cooking in the oven. As if there wasn't enough to celebrate already Jonas started crawling. He is obsessed with Bjarni's guitar, and it was when Bjarni left it on the floor he decided to move over crawling-style to get his hands on it. 
Silja couldn't wait for four little friends to come over for dinner, so by 3:45, 15 minutes before the guests arrived, she passed out on the floor (5th picture), and was very confused when they were all here, and we had to wake her up to head downstairs to our friends and guests shortly to light the Menorah/Hannukah candles. In addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dishes we had latkes, potato pancakes, which are usually eaten for Hanukkah, and Bjarni had the best cake I have had for a long long time, made by our friend Dafna. 
It was such a great afternoon and night, and when I look at the pictures now, I can't believe we managed to actually fit all of us into our tiny kitchen area at the same time. 

Now we are gearing up for Christmas, which we will spent just us, for the first time over here. So some American traditions are probably sneaking into our own mix of Danish and Icelandic.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

from her perspective

On growing up between languages and cultures:
Silja is starting to get some awareness about her roots and her background of living in different countries and knowing languages others around her don't understand, and it's interesting to see how her understanding of all this develops. She prefers Danish and English, and is not too keen on speaking Icelandic, although she understands most things said to her.
At the moment she is our little third culture kid (for info look here and here), with Icelandic and Danish parents, who was born in Austria and who now lives in America (and goes to school with Hebrew speaking kids, who celebrate different religious holidays than us). I can totally understand if that is confusing for her. It is for me too at times. 

From a conversation earlier this month:

Me: Can you hear in what language the song is?

Her: Icelandic.

Me: Yes! Good job.

Her: I can only say one thing in Icelandic: þú. What can you say?

Me: I can say: Ég heitir Dorte, ég er frá Danmörku. It means 'My name is Dorte. I'm from Denmark'.

Her: Are you from Denmark? (… long silence … ) Mom, where am I from?

Me: well…

Her: From Germany?

On moving and friends moving 
Because Bjarni and I have random conversations on issues related to our move to Denmark, she has heard we are planning to move there sometime next year. I suppose such news to her fall under the same category as "you will be a big sister". It's something she can make sense of in little bits (like we are going to live much closer to all the fun cousins, which means we can see them more often), but how much it will affect our daily life, and how she is moving far far away from her friends here, she has no idea. So we talk about it when it pops up, sometimes with a lot of detail and sometimes just briefly.
I guess it's no surprise that many of her little friends are in similar situations as herself, which means they are here temporarily. Her good friend Eli, who used to live in our building left this summer, and Linnea another friend is leaving this winter. It's still a little tricky to understand they are not coming back.

Her: Where is Eli?

Me: He left. Now he lives in Israel.

Her: Why did he do that?

Me: Because his parents found work there, and because that is where the rest of his family lives. It is like we will be moving to Denmark.

Her: Then we won't be living here anymore?

Me: No

Her: Can we come visit?

Me: I think so. Would you like that?

Her: Yes. Then I want to give Alberte (cousin, who lives in Denmark) a hug.

Me: Okay.

Her: When is Eli coming?

Who knows what will happen with our family in the future. I hope we really are able to settle down and stick to one place and then our kids will "only" have to manage two cultures and languages: Danish and Icelandic. And then Austria and America will mostly be stories Bjarni and I will tell. But I also hope that Silja's beginning and exposure to many different ways of being and doing things, will instill some core and life-long values of curiosity, tolerance and open-mindedness to people and life in general. Needless to say that would make her mama endlessly proud.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013


I fell asleep on the couch last week in front of the TV -- yes that's me now, mother of two and sleep deprived -- and woke up with a big knot of worry in the stomach, thinking I was still pregnant, and how would it all go with the baby (who throughout the pregnancy continued with big and small mishaps.) It lasted only a couple of seconds before I realized I had drifted off and the baby is fine! It's strange how I haven't had any particular reaction to all the worry that was part of the pregnancy after he was born, and then all this time after, I have this little moment where I'm reminded about the almost paralyzing worry that filled last fall and winter. 
Back in September we went to Children's Hospital for a follow-up appointment with his heart, and the cardiologist concluded his heart is normal and healthy. So although this is what we expected, it was such a relief definitively to be released from the health concerns we have had for him so early on.
That pregnancy has without doubt been the hardest time during our time abroad, and it reinforced my desire to go back home. Although we have been lucky to quickly develop an amazing network here, it just cannot compare with those who we (and probably me in particular) have known for years and years, and whose support you become so reliant on during a time like that. 

In a couple of days he will be eight months old, and he is developing so quickly at the moment. He is not crawling, but moving around everywhere on his butt and stomach, he pulls himself up, sits up by himself and prefers sweet potatoes and Cheerios (our little American). He has one tooth and the funniest person around is his big sister. He is such an easy-going little guy, who goes with the flow and doesn't complain much, and although it's just been eight months since he arrived (and brought peace along because of his healthy condition) it already feels like he has been around much longer. Lucky us to have him.
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Friday, November 1, 2013

happy halloween

The halloween celebrations have been going on over the past few weeks, and ended last night in a candy explosion, jack o'lanterns, kids (and grown ups) in costumes. Unlike last year where we barely knew if a toddler could go trick or treating, we were better prepared this time around. 
Over the weekend we met up with friends at Boston Common for a halloween pumpkin fest, and brought a carved pumpkin along that would be lit along with many others on the Frog Pond. It ended up freezing cold and windy, so we hurried home before the parade. Yesterday we went to Cambridge to join another Danish family for dinner and trick or treating. I so regret we didn't bring the real camera (I only had my phone with me), because it was so cute to see all the little kids with their costumes and all the amazing and elaborate decorations people had put up. Wauw! I didn't even manage to get a proper picture of the kids in their costumes. Silja had practiced to do trick or treat with a neighbor: Knock knock, 'trick or treat' and 'thank you', when something went in the bucket, so she was ready and very very excited. She was a little shy and not much a roaring tiger once it was the real deal though.  This morning she asked when it is Halloween again, so she is totally hooked. 
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Sunday, October 13, 2013

picking pumpkins (and where's next)

You guys, it is so so pretty around here right now. So many colors, still a lot of sun, crisp air, and then these American fall traditions, which we find ourselves adjusting to and finding excitement in. Hot apple cider, gearing up for Halloween, baking apple crumble and then of course getting a pumpkin or two. You can buy them in them in every store at the moment, but that isn't half as fun as driving to the country side to pick them yourself on a pumpkin patch. That's what I thought, because I had never tried it. But this weekend we went, and it was just as I had hoped.

And making the most of these American traditions and experiences has started to feel more valuable after we found out our stay in Boston is coming to an end. Bjarni got a grant and we will therefore move to Denmark (Aarhus). As it looks now, the move will probably happen by the end of next summer. We are so relieved to find out what's going to happen next, and I'm beyond excited to be in close proximity to everyone at home. Although nothing can beat the excitement of all that, we know we will miss this place terribly and hope to make the most of it until it's time to go. Pumpkin patches, halloween, thanksgiving and so on included...

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

picking up a teddy

This past weekend Silja traded off her pacifiers with a pink stuffed teddy bear from Build a Bear in downtown Boston. Picking up the teddy was a good excuse to stroll around the city center and enjoy the beautiful fall weather (and bringing along the camera for once). As for the lack of pacifiers she handles it surprisingly well. Our little girl is getting so big! It was a great ending to a for us very happy week with some good news. I will share more soon. 

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