New Years Resolutions

Dearest readers,

Happy New Year! I am so excited about the new year. It is always a chance to start afresh and make some plans and goals for the year ahead. What are your resolutions for 2014? Here are a few of mine…

1. Keep Healthy

In 2013, there was a lot of sickness in my family – colds, flu, stomach bugs you name it. I now swear by vitamins and have been doling them out daily to the kids. But it’s also important to look after myself!

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Custom dietary supplements: you can create your own vitamins!

4. Read with my kids

Too often when it gets to bedtime, my husband and I are exhausted and ready to swiftly put their pj’s on, clean their teeth and get them to bed so we can have time alone, but I really want us to make an effort to spend more time doing bedtime stories with the kids. Our kids LOVE to read (WE love to read) so it really has to be a priority to do it – despite our fatigue (and laziness).

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We purchased and received some lovely books for our kids this Christmas and I really look forward to starting to work through these books with them.

3. Get organised.

While people think of me as a relatively organised person, really only my husband can attest to the fact that my workspace and personal filing system is a huge mess. I’ve resolved to try to keep things more ordered and sorted this year and with the help of some cute notebooks and labels, I hope that this resolution will outlast the week!

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Useful and eye-catching stickers to label all our things! (they have a Danish site)

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Adorable notebook I picked up in Hamburg

My personal highlights of 2013

I thought I’d share something more personal than my usual rant on this blog. I thought I’d share the things that made my year special (and please friends and family, if I have forgotten something or someone, don’t judge me,  I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones I just happened to come up with late one evening).

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Spending time with my first born son and watching him learn, grow and develop into a wonderful little guy. I’m so proud of how he’s coped with moving countries, changing schools, learning a foreign language, different routines, making friends and adjusting to a new life here in Denmark.

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A highlight was my week away in England with #2 son taking him to spend time with his grandparents and meet the English side of his extended family.

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Another highlight was backpacking around Germany with the two boys. It was hard work but lots of fun and definitely an amazing bonding experience that we’ll never forget.

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I have loved watching the boys relationship grow this year. They probably spend more time together than other siblings due to the lack of family and many friends around. They are inseparable and I just love seeing how well (on the most part!) they play and discover the world together. My hope and prayer is that they will continue to grow up to be good friends caring, loving and looking out for each other.

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Spending quality time with this guy has been a highlight of 2013. He has just got so much character, wit and charm. He cracks us up and drives us crazy, is fiercely independent yet so in tune with how others are feeling. I love how he corrects my udtale, translates for us and patiently teaches us new words (he is without a doubt the best at Danish in our family!) I can’t wait to see how he continues to grow next year.

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This guy is always a highlight. A particular high point for me was our 36 hours together ALONE in Copenhagen. We had SUCH a good time. I am just so utterly thankful for him being in my life and love how our relationship continues to grow and get stronger each day.

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A highlight for me was this day at Louisiana – a stunning, unique art gallery outside Copenhagen. It was a day without my boys and a day with a new friend. It was such a relaxing, wonderful day and I’m am so thankful for that and for the friends I have made this year in Odense – they are few, but I hold them close to my heart!

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Hospitality in our apartment has been a highlight for me from the crazy family dinners with hundreds of noisy children running around to the quiet late evenings with just a couple of friends over, sharing a meal or a drink, spending time together.

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Our road trip over to Jutland and particularly our days in Aarhus were a highlight for me. Not only was the weather amazing but the city is such a fun place and it came at such a perfect time for us to have some good quality family time.

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The moment while in Heidelberg when the boys were fed up of my demanding we see another church during a sweltering hot day and we stepped outside, found some sprinklers and to the amusement of many tourist had the time of their life getting drenched.

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The hot day in Berlin when we’d had ALL had enough of being tourists in a big city and we searched for the nearest beach and grabbed the first train there. We were all in heaven. #2 lounged in the water for 6 hours, the other two built sandcastles and made friends and I lay back and read a book. After that day we promised each other: no more city holidays in summer.

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Finally, a funny one: but a highlight for me that after 11 1/2 years of being with M, I have finally convinced him that sushi is delicious and worth spending a date-night eating!

What are your personal highlights of 2013? What are you thankful for this year?

In love with Paris

Since my husband and I toyed with the idea of a trip to Paris in 2014, my three year old suddenly developed an obsession with this amazing city. He talks about it constantly. His lego plans he makes fly only to there. His imaginary games involve him travelling there and climbing the Eiffel Tower. He even dreams about it. Luckily, we booked a holiday there for February and so his dreams will become reality (I hope he won’t be disappointed). I came across this wonderful Paris based online store, Smallable where there are so many wonderful items for the Paris loving child. Here are some of my favourites.

Picture 3Colourable place mat - perfect for airplane rides or ‘quiet’ restaurant mealsPicture 4Water proof, child-resistant city map - perfect for the 3 year old to clutch in his hands

Picture 6Simple wooden blocks with city shapes, a small toy that can come out upon arrival

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Walking tours for kids – perfect for my 6 year old to practice his reading and gives him the initiative

2013 in review

2013. Wow, the year is almost over. It’s been a year of high and lows, growth and maturity (for all of us!) and a lot of fun!

It’s been a year of so much variety: from extremely hot, sunny days to freezing cold, dark days.

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There has of course been four lovely birthdays to celebrate

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Special experiences for each of the the boys (including falling in love, riding an elephant, starting preschool, learning to stride ride and celebrating Halloween)

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A lot of travelling for M,

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but thankfully lots of travel together as a family in Europe (winter in the north of England, spring in Rome, fall on Mallorca)

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as well as our wonderful summer backpacking around Germany

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and lovely trips within Denmark (Langeland, Louisiana, CopenhagenVoersåAarhusMøn, Egeskov slot and Assens)

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visits from grandparents

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and well, everyday life – whether it be grocery shopping at the farmers markets, endless hours playing with trains and lego, studying Danish, hygge time or working: 2013 has most certainly been a wonderful year!

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Top 5 play areas in Odense

In Denmark, playgrounds are not neccessarily conventional playgrounds we see elsewhere in the world – there are often no swings/slides. Children are encouraged to be creative and make use of the space they’re offered – especially if like us, you are without a car and live downtown! Here’s our favourite play areas from this year

1. Brandts Passage – a stones throw from our apartment this pedestrian area has some fun climbing structures, slopes to ride your bike down and in the summertime, a huge sandpit. There is often something going on there as well as lovely boutiques, coffee shops and cafes.

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2. Munke Mose – a  long, winding, large park in the centrum, Munke Mose has endless areas of entertainment for kids including ducks to feed, paths to bike ride or walk along, a gorgeous river, bridges to wander over and a few lovely playgrounds.

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3. Fruens Bøge - We were stoked when we first rode our bikes along the river for 20 or so minutes out of the centrum and came across this fantastic spot: a huge lake, an ice-cream stand and an amazing forest full of fantastic climbing trees and interesting structures. This has been a definite favourite area for my boys.

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4. Musikrummet – while this playground is further out of town, it is well worth the visit. It is a huge space with a variety of musical instruments mainly made up of recycled pieces. It is so unique and the children spend ages entertaining themselves and you!

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5. Stige  Ø - north of Odense is a windy and ‘hilly’ (for Denmark) area that has fantastic slides for the children as well as an ice-cream stand and some simple hikes you can do as a family.

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These have been our family favourites this year, I’m sure there are many more. We are just so thankful for these creative spaces for our children to play!

How to plan a lego party…

… if you’re a very busy Mom who gets totally frazzled by those pinterest Mommies who spend way too much time (and money) on creating the PERFECT party for their child (when in my opinion, the child would rather you spend 15 minutes sitting on the floor playing with them). I really think birthday parties have to be simple. The age-old rule of invite as many kids as the child is turning turned out to be perfect. We had six kids come (plus my two) and it was a great number. The weather was fine so we spent as much time outside as possible and I kept it to two hours that way we could really plan lots of short activities, they wouldn’t go too wild and we could still feed them a meal in that time (11-1 was perfect). Here’s some more tips for the Mum who like me isn’t the most practical, clever or willing to spend a ton of money…

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 I was not going to send the kids home with lego in their gift bags, so these candies were brilliant! (we bought 5 kgs worth!)

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#1 and made a ton of these crayon lego men and when the guests arrived, we had a colouring competiton (lego pictures of course)
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No-brainer decorations.

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Many games (always involving prizes as we all well know: males LOVE competition) eg. a duplo scavenger hunt, a speed-building game and guessing the number of lego pieces in a jar (guesses ranged from 30-900?!?), IMG_3682

I divided his lego into colours and split the boys into pairs. Using one box per pair, they then had to make the highest lego tower in 10 minutes. IMG_3701

They worked so hard…

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Of course the team Dad was on won!

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Vegetarian pizza and garlic bread was served for lunch alongside a paper aeroplane contest (off theme but who cares?!)

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And of course cake!

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I totally recommend leaving present opening to the end of the party (even if the birthday boy is impatient!)

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Also, I really loved getting the guests to give their gifts in turn so they could learn about giving, saying thankyous etc: they were all so lovely. IMG_3785

Birthday parties are exhausting! Make sure you get some rest time afterwards!

Happy 3rd birthday!

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My newborn!

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1st birthday at Qualicum

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2nd birthday (also at Qualicum)

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present day.. permanently attached to his strider bike

Happy 3rd Birthday to my precious #2!

You came as a bit of a surprise to us, threw our plans off course a bit but we couldn’t be happier with you. You are a wonderful, caring, affectionate, sweet person who breaks hearts wherever you go. You are such a gentle soul but such a messy, dirty, smell boy at the same time. You are so thoughtful and wise, kind and generous. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for you. Happy Birthday my little handsome man!

interior inspiration

Have recently come across this wonderful site. After 5 months of living here, our apartment is still mostly empty. We need to add things but we probably are choosing to spend our money on life and travel right now so the house is missing out. Still, I like to be inspired and while I’ll never be as cool as these Parisian parents, I’d love to think that I could at least try to be! Picture 18 Picture 20Picture 19Picture 21Picture 12Picture 11 Picture 13 Picture 9