Denmark Adventures: Day 6

As mentioned in my last post, Day 6 contained my highlight of our Denmark trip (John’s favourite adventure was later in our stay). Funny enough, the day didn’t start out too well…

The weather forecast was favourable – bright and sunny all day – the night before, so we decided we would prioritize a water tour the following morning. Armed with specific instructions from Tim as to what boat to take, we planned to reach the dock early for the first tour of the morning – 10:00 AM. Unfortunately, given our repeated middle-of-the-night wakings from Abby, we didn’t leave the house until well after 10:00. We walked the 20 minute distance, and by the time we got there…the boat was nearly full and the lineup long for the 11:00 departure. To add insult to injury, Abby was squawking – unhappily – on my back (we had to bring her in the carrier since we would be going on a small tour boat) and my clean clothes hadn’t dried properly (so I smelled like musty, stale water). My mood was precarious.

We did manage to get aboard the 11:00 boat, but weren’t able to sit as a family. The weather was gorgeous, though, and for the first 30 minutes of the boat tour, Abby was happy as a clam.

The tour starts in Nyhavn:

And then passes out into the central harbour, passing by many of the major landmarks including:

The Copenhagen Opera House

The Royal Yacht

The Little Mermaid

The Marble Church

About this stage, Abby started losing her enthusiasm. The first half of the trip is spent in open water, speeding along at a fairly good pace, but the second half consists of slow maneuvering through a horseshoe-shaped lock system. In desperation (no one wants to be holding – or sitting next to – the full-on-tantrum-toddler on a cramped boat) I whipped out my iPhone, coaxed her in to looking at pictures of “Gree (Grampie)” and she was good to go.

I thought the laundry hung out to dry on this boat was hilarious – not your average North American clothesline.

This is a picture of the Royal Library (called the Black Diamond by locals); this modern building actually connects to the original Royal Library via a walkway over a busy Copenhagen street. It is quite the juxtaposition of young-and-old architecture, but the modern building is undeniably stunning, especially on sunny days when the reflection makes the “Black Diamond” reference vividly apparent to onlookers.

The tide was unusually high the day we took a boat tour, and the guide warned us at the beginning of our trip to be very careful on our approach to low-lying bridges. Invariably, though, some poor sap at the back of the boat would be unaware of impending danger and would stand, craning to take that perfect shot before being loudly chastened back to their seat by a lawsuit-fearing tour guide.

We ended up back to Nyhavn (total travel time ~ 1 hour) where the tour started. Given a better nights rest, better smelling clothes, and an older toddler in tow, I can see this being the highlight of many tourists trip, but I’ll admit leaving the boat feeling frazzled and exhausted.

After a hurried lunch, I succumbed to my deepest need – sleep – and took a much deserved nap. When I woke groggily 2.5 hours later, John announced that Tim had planned an evening outing. Time was limited as we had to meet Johanne at the train station to guide us through the intricacies of the public transit setup, and a picnic supper needed to be prepared. We managed to pull together everything needed for a proper Danish picnic and headed off, rather gingerly, on our bikes.

The train station was our first obstacle. Tim’s directions told us to meet Johanne on such and such a platform…but of course we didn’t know how to distinguish the platform.s Thankfully, as we were about to board the elevator going to the WRONG platform, Johanne spotted us. During the few minutes before our train arrived, Johanne managed to have us familiarized with the remarkably simple, effective train schedule (see Tim’s posts on the subject).

We arrived in Klampenborg minutes before Tim arrived (coming straight from work). Our destination was the Deer Park (Dyrehaven) – traditional royal hunting grounds (since the 1600’s), home to ~2,000 deer, and a popular tourist destination. Our evening there was simply perfect. The weather was ideal- sunny and warm. The park is about 1000 hectares, but it didn’t take long to spot our first deer.

Abby was enamored – she took it all in so passively (although every time we saw a deer she would point, squeal and say “Deer, Deer”…we have the sweetest video of this).

This was Eremitageslottet or Eremitage Castle – where royalty would typically stay while hunting. I think Tim mentioned this being opened to the public occasionally, but it was battened down when we passed through.

We biked around a large portion of the perimeter; one section passing through a heavily wooded path that seemed like a scene right out of Robin Hood. The trees were the most vibrant green, and the late afternoon light was a perfect golden hue. That particular moment in that particular spot (of which, of course, I have no pictures), was the happiest part of the trip for me. I wish everyone could visit this one spot at some point in their life, because it really was priceless beauty.

Mid-way through our trek we decided the rumbles in our stomach were too pressing to ignore, so we stopped to feast. The following is my favourite picture from our trip, Abby toddling along with Tim and Johanne – she was such a trooper, taking everything in stride.

We picnicked near a golf course, and had stunning scenery.

Abby spent most of the meal running around gleefully; she was particularly fond of the plastic bag in which Johanne had transported apples.

At one point a horse and buggy passed by our picnic site. How lovely would that ride have been?

And then we were off again, encountering field after field of deer along the way. To add to the atmosphere, there was a gorgeous full moon, officially pushing this evening over into pure perfection territory.

One of the exits of the park leads into Bakken – the worlds oldest amusement park (dating from 1583).

We were lucky enough to arrive in the final weeks of the park season. Again, although at this point long past her bedtime, Abby didn’t stop smiling the whole time we were in the park. That might have been, at least in part, due to the churros (deep fried batter, served with soft serve ice cream) .

When we left Bakken it was already nearly dark. After a quick discussion, we settled on a leisurely bike along the coast to get home. We biked for about 30 minutes, during which, you guessed it – Abby didn’t make. a. peep! We stopped about half-way to home and spotted this castle (now used as government offices, I believe), and took a train the rest of the way home.

And thus ended one of our most pleasurable evenings in Denmark!

See previous adventures here.


One Thousand Gifts

Working late tonight, away from the house for a few peaceful hours. And, while I anxiously await being able to return home to my best friend and our sweet slumbering baby girl (and some homemade cake with peanut butter frosting), I will admit appreciating this {rare} chance to just relax. And so I thought I’d take these last few minutes of time, and share about a book I recently read that has been resonating with me.

It’s called One Thousand Gifts, written by a Christian mother-of-six from Ontario, Canada (you can read her daily blog entries here). I first heard of the book months ago, but will admit being slightly put off by it’s rather high standing on the New York Times List. If the masses like it, I suspected there would be little substance. Finally, after noticing I could request it free from my local library, I took the plunge.

This book was, quite simply, phenomenal. Although, I suppose, geared toward women, the principles within apply to young and old, regardless of gender, race, or class. The tag line of the book states it is a Dare to live fully – but it much more than that. It is a message of the true meaning of Christianity: gratitude – for salvation, for trials (James 1:2-3), and simply each day of life and breath we are granted on this earth.

Her writing style is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered – haunting, insightful, and beautiful in form and function.

Enjoy a few quotes from the first few chapters of her book that stuck with me (quoted from Ann Voskamp’s book to the best of my ability, these are from notes I jotted down while reading the library copy…a personal copy is on my Christmas wish list):

“Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Ever were simply, painfully ungrateful for what God gave. Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.”

The common theme of her book is Eucharisteo – the idea of giving thanks in everything. She puts this into practice by chronicling 1000 gifts – common things she encounters each day that are blessings from God.

She says: “To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.”

She continues: “[Thanksgiving] is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven.” “With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all important? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19)”

“When I realize it is not God who is in my debt, but I…all becomes a gift.”

“Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow down before something else.”

“Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things.”

“Any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down.”

“The only way to see God manifested in the world around is with the eyes of Jesus within.”

“Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks.”

“He gave us Jesus. If we have only one memory, isn’t this enough? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems right and best? He’s already given us the incomprehensible.” and “The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One.”

“Humility is the only posture that can receive the wondrous grace gifts from God…God needs knees more than hands.”

I’ll end there for tonight, as the last minutes of time slip away here…but I encourage you to read her book. It is humbling, Christ-centered, and challenging.

One final quote from her book, this one by Martin Luther:

“God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us.”


Abby: 18 months in Pictures

A few more “recent-ish” pictures of Abby below. But first I want to write down a few of her developmental milestones from this past month. Abby is now 19 months old, and closer to “2” than “1.” Since she was about 9 months old (the first 8 or so months of her life were just a blur of sleep exhaustion), each month I’ve exclaimed “this is my favourite month yet.” And so, yet again, I have to claim that her 18th month was my favourite so far. A few milestones for interested grandparents!
Speech: Her vocabulary has exploded: words like cinnamon, sushi, and ketchup are pronounced with shocking clarity. Notice how well she communicates food wants! And then there are the possessives: “Mommy’s chair, Daddy’s soap, Abby’s raisins.” She recognizes and loudly announces various actions too, like “washing hands” and “making da bed.” She has an incredible memory for numbers as well, and will sometimes pick out and announce a number she sees on a civic sign or in a picture over her change table saying “numbers, numbers – six, zero” and pointing to the corresponding number. It really continues to astound me how she learns and remembers these things. One of my favourite things (and something I REALLY need to video asap) is how she finishes the lines to songs/nursery rhymes. Her favourite is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (sometimes she’ll recite it by herself like this: “tinkle ittle star,  whirl, igh, dimo, sky!” It is soooo cute, and I will video it soon. Another favourite was learned at the Library story time called “Zoom, Zoom” which ends with her flying up into the air. Her favourite word is “blastoff” because she loves going up in the air, so when we count back from 5, she’ll usually try to jump down to 2 or 1…or even just scream blastoff because she can’t stand the anticipation! She also loves kisses, and will run back and forth between rooms giving me a kiss, then running to John, and back and forth saying ” kiss mama, kiss daddy.” Another favourite is saying “Amen” at the end of grace (before meals and at nap/mealtimes); she also did it at the top of her lungs in church the other day when the elder finished praying. Hilarious.We love hearing each little word, and it warms our heart.

Motor Skills:Largely unchanged. She learned how to climb on and off the couch this month, but doesn’t do so regularly. She also can take larger steps down/up herself, but still isn’t confident in doing so without support.

Sleep: She sleeps 11-13ish hours per night, and naps 2-3 hours each day. She LOVES bed because: a) she gets her “soggy” or soother and b) she gets to play with/mercilessly beat her stuffed animals. She wakes up most mornings talking to her stuffed animals saying things like “Bless you Achoo” (which is her stuffed penguin), OR reciting random colours at the top of her lungs like “YELLOW, ELLOW, PINK, RED.” Or, fake coughing and then saying “Cough, cough, bless you.” John and I just lay in bed and laugh and laugh.

Favourite things: She loves to eat: raisins, anything sweet, hummus, fritters (spinach/zucchini), beans, corn, yogurt, cheese, pickles, chicken…but really she eats everything we eat and generally enjoys it.

She loves reading, and will often spend 30 minutes in a corner by herself just flipping through books. She also loves watching the Number Train and other videos in that series on YouTube.

Her favourite thing of all, though, I think is being outside. She loves running and playing and even just rolling around on the ground. She is so happy to be outside, and doesn’t seem to mind the rain or cold!

Without further ado…enjoy some more pictures!

A nearby field; Abby loves to play soccer here with Daddy…

A trip to a local petting zoo/farmer’s market. Abby LOVED looking at the animals (and didn’t refuse the ice cream we purchased either)…

Playing outside with her beloved lawnmower. She will push this up and down the sidewalk for hours.

LOVE this picture (you can also see the scar on her right cheek from the chicken attack in Denmark…more on that in a later post if you haven’t already heard the story).

This was the first time I ever gave her a whole apple to eat, and she carried this around for an hour. Finally she got tired of eating it and proceeded to throw it down on the ground over and over again. Aforementioned throwing killed another 1/2 hour… it’s the small things in life that really satisfy!

Love the grins…

Little Miss Serious eating her applesauce (homemade from Grammie and Grampie), she LOVES her “sauce.”