Recently Enjoyed Things

We watched the Superbowl last weekend. Disclaimer #1: I do not understand, do not care about, do not watch, and do not give the tiniest regard to pro-football. Thus I gladly relinquish any claim to a legitimate title of “fan”. But, I do acquiesce each year for one notable exception – the Superbowl. Disclaimer #2: I cannot, nor have I ever been able to, watch a sporting event as a neutral party. [It’s like cucumbers – I never eat them without vinegar. Hello, there tangent! ] Typically the decision is easy: I pick Canada for all Olympic sports or, as a default, any team playing against the Americans (no offense to my family in America, let’s chalk it up to a friendly rivalry). The problem with football is I don’t know anything. About anyone. Or any team. If my husband’s team makes it in to the finals, it’s smooth sailing…but no dice this year. So, I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I went for the team with the nicer uniforms. An objective choice to be sure.  We won. And despite the fact that I have no real attachment to the team, my stomach was in knots and I felt like vomiting in the final few minutes. What can I say – no neutrality here.

*****

While we watched the Superbowl, we had a feast. Homemade sushi. I crave this stuff. Almost daily. It’s that good. I must give credit where credit is due – this is the hubby’s domain. My first attempt at sushi resulted in burned rice, soggy seaweed, and a trip to the garbage can. But we’ve (mostly, he) got it down to a delicious science.

sushi3

Too young for sushi, Abby still gets in on the action by asking for wasabi – or “sabi”. She devours the stuff, and even insisted on dipping her biscuit in the spicy, green goodness last week.

sushi4

After the blizzard this weekend put the kibosh on our plans to attend a “Date Night Challenge” at church, we decided to treat ourselves to an in-home date, complete with…you guessed it, homemade sushi.

*****

There has been lots of snow around these parts and we’ve been putting it to good use. There is never enough outdoor time for our little munchkin, and she seems oblivious to the cold.

sushi5

sushi1

*****

We’ve been watching our way through this years Best Picture nominations.  Despite adamant critic reviews to the contrary, we thought Les Miserables was fantastic (including Russell Crowe’s widely criticized portrayal of Javert). 

Argo – the frontrunner for Best Picture – was a big disappointment in our mind; the acting was sub-par, the movie was “forgettable” and their deviation from the true events of the story was frustrating (in particular their depiction of Canada’s involvement). Django Unchained was too gritty for my liking, so I only saw a few small chunks of the movie, but I will admit the cinematography and character development was expertly crafted by Tarantino. Life of Pi was underwhelming (although extremely true-to-the-book, which I did appreciate).

*****

And finally, we’re all enjoying the extra boost of enthusiasm after a restful, productive weekend cooped up inside. We’ve vacuumed every room in the house, cleaned out clutter, and organized the 8,546 Post-It notes floating around the office (condensing all the information into a single spreadsheet). We’ve done laundry and cooked banana bread and potato and carrot fritters. We’ve lugged snow into the bathtub and had a mini snowball fight (using these as snowball mold), created playdough masterpieces, and dyed pasta all the colours of the rainbow. We’ve lit candles and sipped warm beverages, and read books and worked out. While I can’t wait for spring and sun and clear sidewalks…this blast of winter has been gratefully enjoyed.

Denmark Adventures: Day 13

Something about the setting of a dark, cold and snowy February evening (with the Superbowl playing in the background) to put me in the mood for another Denmark recap.

The first stop on Day 13 was Fælledparken. Located a mere five minutes from the apartment, this expansive green space has something for everyone. Exercise venues, various unique playgrounds, soccer nets and other sports paraphernalia, and a massive skateboarding park. Perhaps most unique, to me at least, was Trafiklegepladsen – a location where Danish children can safely learn “traffic laws.” Although it’s not overly clear from the picture, everything is scaled to child-size, including all signs and benches.

day131

There are relatively distinctive sections to the park, including a water area, complete with small lakes and fountains. This park is also bordered by Parken, the large city stadium (where we looked longingly at the Coldplay concertgoers).

day132

We’d visited the park once before, but there were 25,000 runners competing in a race for charity – so we hadn’t been able to truly appreciate all the park had to offer. Next we headed to Thorvaldsens Museum – Thorvaldsen being the sculptor behind the gorgeous Twelve Apostles installation in the Church of Our Lady.

day133

True to typical frugal form, we elected to attend the museum on the specified day when entrance fees were waived. Despite having lived in Copenhagen over a year, Tim had yet to visit the museum, so it was a learning experience for us all. Most of the sculptures were original plaster casts, used in preparation for the final marble versions. Many were commissioned by political/religious leaders, and all were impressive in regard to both sheer size and attention to detail.

day134

The architecture of the building was as impressive as the sculptures; the employee conscripted to provide a brief blurb upon our entrance, was refreshingly passionate about the venue and insisted we remember to look up. The intricate paintings/etchings on the ceilings were spectacular. In some locations, we passed below scaffolding where we could observe artists reconstructing ceiling panels to their former glory.

day135

The museum housed the plaster casts of the Twelve Apostles; interestingly, Thorvaldsen had an apprentice work on a variety of casts but was unhappy with the end product two of the casts and ended up re-doing much of the work himself. Casts by both Thorvalden and his apprentice were on display for comparison, and it was clear why Thorvaldsen was the instructor! Much less impressive in their plaster form and in cramped quarters, but beautiful nonetheless.

day136

A statue of the artist, who is buried in the central courtyard of the museum.

day137

There was a special exhibit in the basement including a variety of Alexander the Great pieces but Abby had reached the end of her patience for sculpture observation.  So I headed outside with her in search of some source of distraction. A handful of rocks worked their magic.

day138

This picture captures her personality so well…

day139

I’ll admit, so many months removed from the events, I’m at a loss as to the agenda of that particular afternoon, but I’m suspecting it involved lunch (likely sandwiches on some delish Danish bread) and naps. Then we headed off for another highlight of our trip – a visit to Tivoli.

The second oldest amusement park in the world (we had visited the oldest amusement park a week earlier), it welcomes nearly 4 million visitors every year. Right in the heart of Copenhagen, Tivoli is like a whole different world – arcade games, restaurants galore (Hillary Clinton ate at one of the park restaurants when she was in the city), and a variety of rides (too expensive for our taste, and far less impressive in scale than Canada’s Wonderland).

day1310

After the Deer Park, I would say Tivoli was my second favourite outing while in Denmark. Partly, I suppose, because Abby was perfectly content the entire evening. There was no lack of interesting sights and sounds.

day1313

A floating restaurant.

day1314

Another famous restaurant in the park.

day1325

One of the “streets” within the park, including various food stands and arcade booths.

day1318

Our second taste of churros didn’t disappoint – fresh from the frier, these were delicious.

day1319

There was a great little playground in the heart of the park. The entire base of the playground was covered in a soft rubber to make it easier to withstand bumps and falls. Before we could actually make it into the playground proper, we got side-tracked by the musical opportunities.

day1315

As we’d noticed throughout our stay, everything was child-friendly. And for good reason – kids are everywhere. Playing happily on their own most of the time, while parents observe from a distance. Children seem happy, active, and obedient. On a brief tangent – the same attributes seemed common among Danish pets!

day1316

Lots of fun playground to explore. I suspect another time we visit, this will hold even more appeal.

day1317

Another event that endeared the park to me – a heated, luxurious changing room for kids, complete with complimentary (good quality) diapers and wipes!

day1321

We finished the evening by watching a pantomime show. It was a hilarious performance, and was a perfect end to the evening.

day1323

And thus ended another great day in Denmark – complete with a snazzy railing.

day1326

Some Parenting Inspiration – On a Dreary Wednesday

It must have something to do with early onset second-birthday-syndrome. Maybe I’m in denial that this little creature, once so tiny and dependent, is growing leaps and bounds every day.

This all makes me even more grateful for all the hard-working parents before me, and the ideas they have so kindly left in their wake. Periodically, I thought I might highlight a few of the new insights I’ve picked up. Most of the things I take note of aren’t yet applicable in our own parenting adventures, but I jot down fun traditions, practical discipline tips, and everything in between as it crosses my path.

Here are a few things that have piqued my interest lately. These are completely random in nature, so bear that in mind as you read!

Sweeping Guide: Tape off a small kitchen tile with coloured/patterned tape, and have your child sweep dirt (or, if they’re younger, maybe something more exciting like toy blocks) in to that area.

Praise Report: Each evening at supper, go around the table and give a “praise report”, noting something positive you’ve noticed another sibling/parent do throughout the day.

Pirate Supper: Cover the table with newspaper, and make a “hands-only” supper (pizza, finger foods) – no plates, no cutlery. How COOL would that be for the kids and such an easy clean-up for the parents.

Practice Birthdays: On a random day, at breakfast, bring your child a mini-cupcake with a lit candle. Tell them it’s to help them hone their candle-blowing techniques before their real birthday.

Half-Birthdays: Along the same lines…celebrate half birthdays with half a cake and a half-used candle.

Memorizing Numbers: If you want your child to remember your phone number, make it the pass code on a smart-phone/tablet device. For addresses, take some index cards and write the number, street name, city, province/state, postal code, country etc., on different cards. Mix them up and have the children learn to put them in order.

Fair Doesn’t Mean Equal: While we don’t have any sibling rivalries to deal with yet, I remember complaining about “fairness” and “equality” lots when I was a little girl. One Mom used a simple object lesson to show that fairness doesn’t always mean “equal-ness”. She picked a favourite family recipe and had the children all add the same amount…of every ingredient. Same of sugar, flour…baking soda…salt. It’s a pretty powerful lesson that sometimes fair doesn’t mean equal, and being equal in all things (maybe having the same bedtime as an older sister) doesn’t always give a favorable result.

Indoor Campouts: No electricity, no TV, no microwaves, and everyone sleeps on air mattresses in the living room. I loved camping out in the backyard as a kid, but this option would work year-round!

Banana Sushi: A banana, covered in peanut butter, rolled in Rice Krispies. You could take this to a whole new level with melted chocolate for wasabi. Adorable.

Birthday Interview Book: Ask your child the same set of questions (there are templates ALL over the web) on their birthday from ages 3-18 (favourite colour, what they want to be when they grow up), and watch how they change!

I have a whole notebook full of more ideas, and I’ll post some more in the near future!