Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why do we buy presents?

...when the box is always so much more fun?
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Me: What are you up to guys?
Anna: Oh, we're just sitting in this box and I'm reading Amaia a story.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Humans of New York

If you've read me before, you know I'm a big fan of Humans of New York. Once again, Brandon's left New York and is currently interviewing families of refugees from Iraq and Syria. By putting a face to these people, you can see that the only reason that they are in that situation instead of you, is simply the postcode lottery of birth. I defy anyone to read their stories and not feel a connection.

And if you have a moment, please read 'Aya's story' and help Brandon with his call for her to be helped.

Danish Xmas in Scotland

Last week we went to Ikea's Xmas party to celebrate St Lucia in true Scandinavian style. The kids had a ball as always, as they danced round the tree, in a way you just don't in Scotland - our trees tend to be found in the corners of rooms or against a window with no room to dance at all. We try to attend it every year, in a vague attempt at Scandinavianizing our Xmas!

A Danish Xmas treeAt the weekend Charlotte helped the little ones make Danish Xmas biscuits. After all she has been part Danish since she was just six years old. She's even introduced her own personal touch (coconut pandan from the Chinese supermarket) and that has added a streak of green through everything. But it is weird really, when you consider that this is our tenth Xmas as part of a Danish family, and we have never spent Xmas in Denmark. Thomas's parents don't tend to spend Xmas there so there's no home base to return to. Thomas does his best to tell us of their traditions and we do our version: we bake the cookies, we make gingerbread houses, the kids make Scandinavian decorations for our tree. The kids watch their daily episodes of their own imported Julekalender DVDs and have hand-wrapped gifts every day unlike their classmates whole tend to have a chocolate calendar. We have real candles on our real tree while all the neighbours cower in terror at the thought of naked flames on a tree. We have no Santa and we give our gifts on the 24th, not the 25th. The children have always known there's no Santa so spend their childhood keeping their guilty secret from schoolmates, neighbours and even the cousins they see on Xmas day. Their eyes twinkle when they greet them with the question: What did Santa bring you? and they play along, knowingly. In fact we sleep late on Xmas morning when every other house in the street has been up and bouncing since the wee small hours. Half tenish is a normal enough time for us to stir on Xmas morning and that is a whole lot more civilized than the 5ams my friends report! We force down the obligatory herring and rye bread with Schnapps for lunch on the 24th, because Thomas assures us that's what we're meant to do, though only so we can secretly get to the duck as that tastes a whole lot better! But is that what Scandinavian Xmas is like? I don't really know because I've never tried it. All dreams of a log cabin in the snow are just that - only dreams.

I wonder if he has managed to make it real enough for the kids to carry these traditions on into their families when they are older or if the fact that we never made it to Denmark during their childhood will eventually lead to them losing that connection? It would be a real shame given the huge effort Thomas has put in over the years, but will they manage to connect it to their roots in a country they sadly rarely visit or will they simply see our traditions as one family's idiosyncrasies?

Ikea Xmas party


As honorary Scandinavians, we made our annual pilgrimage to Ikea canteen last week for salmon, meatballs and a selection of Swedish desserts, topped off with Swedish entertainment and gingerbread tree biscuit decorating for the kids. It's funny how many of the other guests you start to recognize when you go every year (both to that and their August crayfish party) - from some of the staff from Charlotte's school to Glaswegian Chinese woman with possibly the most ostentatious specs in the West! Even the lady who sells the Xmas trees greeted us with 'Oh hello, you're the Danes who come every year!' - creatures of habit, that's us. If our kids have as many kids as we did, we'll be able to fill their ticket quota single-handedly in about 25 years time!







Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Monday, December 07, 2015

Kids will be kids

Happy New Year 2015

Thomas: Come on kids, let's tidy up, granny will be here soon! 
3,4&5: Awwwwh! 
Thomas: Don't you want granny to come? 
3,4&5: Yes we want her to come... we just want her to come to messy!

Friday, December 04, 2015

A child's view of our world

Lily doing cute

Anna: Mummy, you know how Lily is a Syrian hamster?
Me: Yes.
Anna: Are the hamsters going to be ok? I heard there was a war in Syria. Will there be no more hamsters any more? Are Lily's family going to be ok?

Where do you begin?

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Birthday planner

Birthday cake

Children really know how to make you feel guilty! 

Today Anna came bouncing up to me: I think it's probably about time I stopped coming into your bedroom without knocking!
Me (searching my recent memory for any time we might have been a bit too loud and terrified to ask!): Really?
Anna: Of course, I'd hate to walk in and find (Gulp, what's she going to say!?) you in the middle of wrapping all my birthday presents. I figured you must have everything bought and organized since it's December now!
Me: (I'm not sure this one has sussed her parents' organizational skills! If it isn't birthday eve (ie 18/12) then the chances of anything being wrapped, or even bought are slim, and slimmer still with poor Anna as her birthday is way too close to Christmas for comfort!) Oh yes, Anna, good idea!

Suggestions on what you buy an 8 year old whose main interest at the moment seems to be human anatomy on a postcard please?!