Happy Birthday Elliot

On Friday this handsome young man turned 9 years old. It was still very dark outside as we all got out of bed to start the day off with pancakes, ice cream, and sprinkles. After that, it was time to go to school. Elliot brought a homemade alligator pull-apart-cupcake-cake with him, which all the kids really liked. Upon his return from school there were more surprises. In his room, mormor was hiding in a giant box. She brought Lego and a cool/cute homemade moose. Elliot was also ecstatic to learn about the Apple gift certificate which Farmor had sent (thank you Farmor), and Sienna had crafted a personal greeting card with two of Elliot’s favorite foods, soy sauce and salmon. Finally, Elliot also found the time to color in the greeting card from great grandma in Canada (thank you great grandma). After a lovely and sunny afternoon, we headed downtown to meet up with Shawn for a game of petanque and some juicy burgers.

Fall break with Farmor

October was once again filled with lots of fun and laughter as Farmor came for her yearly visit to Denmark. Pumpkin carving, shrunken apple heads, cookie decorating, and lots of board games were on the menu. In addition we also did some outings; a nice brunch, a fun game of shuffleboard followed by tasty burgers, a trip to the aquarium, the apple orchid, the beach, and of course, the traditional trip to Tivoli. The kids are already counting the days until Farmor returns next year.

Winsor

After a night in a roadside hotel in Michigan, we finally arrived back in Canada at Karen and Rob’s place. The kids were excited to see their cousins, Tessa and Conner, and get some more pool action in. Rob had some scuba gear so Sienna and Elliot got to try out breathing underwater for the first time. We had some great food, played a lot of games, and ended out with a visit to a very nice mini put golf course.  Final stop was back to farmor’s place for one more night before heading back to Denmark.

Chicago

In Chicago we hit the ground running with a family bike tour along the lakefront trail when we first arrived. We drove down to Navy Pier and then back to Millennium park. After the bike ride we did a walking tour of the park and saw some cool sculptures as well as the mandatory Cloud Gate. It was a pretty hot day again so we were happy to finally rest our feet in a nice hotel and take a break before doing a bit more exploring downtown. We found a nice Thai restaurant that was not too busy and had a great dinner. The next day we packed up and headed to the museum of Science and Industry which had some unique exhibits. The favourite was the mind control game where you had to push a ball using the alpha waves generated by your brain. Theoretically these waves should be generated when you are in a relaxed state so the winner would be the person who could relax the most. After a few rounds the undisputed champion was Elliot who beat all of us with not one loss. After the museum we continued our road trip as we headed back towards Canada.

Wisconsin

Since we had all our camping gear with us we decided to try out another couple nights of camping in a Wisconsin state park. Along the way to the park we took a driving break in Madison (capital city of Wisconsin) to visit the Henry Vilas zoo (which is one of the few free admission zoos in the US). After the zoo we continued to the campsite which was about a 40 minute drive outside of Milwaukee. The next day we took a day trip to Milwaukee to visit a water park and afterwards we went downtown to do a tour of the city. We sampled some of the historic areas by the riverfront, visiting an iconic cheese store and a spice store. After a long day of playing in the water and sightseeing we drove back to the campsite for our last night before our next destination.

Minnesota

After another day of driving, another night at a hotel, and another morning of driving, we arrived at Brooke’s house in White Bear, Minnesota (Brooke is my amazing friend/roommate from NYC, she is married to Joe and they have a 3-year old son named Hawkins). We arrived just in time for the July 4th pool party and I was happy to learn that Zach, another old friend from our time in NYC, was also among the guests. Brooke is an amazing hostess and she made sure that everyone had plenty of great food and drinks throughout the day. Other than taking the time to eat, not a minute on dry land was wasted by the kids.  They were in the pool for the most part of 2 days and Sienna broke a record for being in the pool for 6 hours straight. While we were in Minnesota, we stayed at Brooke’s parents house in Forest Lake. Every morning we woke up to a a feast, as Brooke’s mom was whipping up all kinds of yummy Minnesotan breakfast classics for us (thanks again for having us and for all the delicious food, Debbie and Mike). On our last day in Minnesota, we took a trip to White Bear lake and rented a pontoon boat. The weather was great as we toured around in the boat and had a picnic lunch. The kids were really excited to get some fishing in and they had more than they could ask for catching over 20 fish! After the pontoon boat, there was even more swimming, and then we went to a summer street festival with Brooke, Joe, and Hawkins to get some dinner. After 3 sun- and fun-filled days we were ready to head towards our next destination.

The Science Center in Sudbury

During our long drive we planned to make some strategic stops along the way to break up the trip. Since we were driving through Sudbury, we took a couple hours and visited the science center (we thought it was funny that it was located on 100 Ramsey Lake Road). The science center had a lot of cool stuff including some giant bugs from Malaysia which we got to hold. After the science museum we drove by the big nickel and snapped some touristic photos. Then it was a couple more hours driving. Midway between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie there is a city called Elliot Lake and while Elliot would have loved to make a pit stop here, we decided not to. It was too far off our route so instead, we hit a motel in a place called Blind River.

The Georgian Bay

After our successful camping experience, we drove up to the Orsi’s cottage on Georgian Bay to visit Kim, Chris, Lucas, and Matthew. We got lucky that the weather turned a bit warmer so it was straight into the water after a long drive north through traffic. In addition to celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday on the 1st of July, we got a lot of fun activities in; kayaking, paddle boating, fishing, tubing, sea-do riding, and boating. In between the water action we played some games inside and tried to avoid the mosquitoes.  We all kept really busy and before we knew it, it was time to head out on a long drive towards Minnesota.

 

Visiting Gump

A visit to the Aylmer area would not be complete without a visit to the kids’ most active Canadian mail buddy. A visit to Gump’s house is like a trip to a Southwestern Ontario botanical garden, and we got the full summer tour. We also managed to sneak in a load of laundry while doing the tour and chasing some chickens. Thanks again! It’s always fun seeing you!

Copenhagen

While camping we also did some visiting with Farmor in Copenhagen (i.e. the very little village in Ontario, Canada, not the capital city of Denmark). Farmor puts the kids to work painting concrete and they let their creativity loose making some unique paint jobs like Elliot turning an owl into a penguin, and Sienna painting a rainbow serpent (not featured). When they got tired of painting the cousins hung around inside, playing games and relaxing by the TV.

Port Burwell Provincial Park

Our first attempt at family tent camping was in Port Burwell with Angela, Pete, Kenzy, and Logan. Our first night Farmor and Penguin (aunt Suzy) came to visit and hang out by the campfire while Crystal, Derek, Kyle and Owen came to visit on another night. Although the weather was a bit on the cool side, the kids still braved the water and got in a nice day at the beach. We also tried to catch fish along the rocks next to the pier, but the water was too murky and the fish were not biting. To make up for the missing fish the kids toasted a lot of marshmallows and we took turns at telling spooky stories by the campfire. All in all a very successful time where everybody had fun. We are already looking forward to next year!

Milton

Our first stop in Canada was to Jane and Oliver’s place in Milton. We had a lot of fun with Vanessa who was the star of the show. She was very engaged playing with Sienna and Elliot and there was never a dull moment when she was around. We had some fun times at the park and goofing around the house. We also took an afternoon to visit Pakizah, Adam, Ethan, and Cayden. We met at a trampoline park in Toronto and after a lot of jumping we sat down for a nice dinner where the kids had a lively discussion around who their favorite youtuber was. After another night in Milton the weekend was over and we were off to Port Burwell for our first camping adventure.

The 2017 Road Trip

A couple of years ago we started doing yearly road trips and it turns out that this is a way of travelling that the entire family really enjoys. This year we first flew to Toronto and got some time in with the family before we headed north to the Georgian Bay, drove through Saul St. Marie to visit friends in Minnesota and then explored a bit of Wisconsin and Chicago as we headed back east towards Toronto again. We put more than 5,000 km (3,100 miles) of mileage on the car during our trip and in between visiting friends and family we got to see and experience a bunch of new things. Fishing, kayaking, and pontoon boating were all previously untried activities for most of us, and on the “never-seen-before” list we added a giant nickel, a real ass, lots of inukshuks, some poison ivy, and a black bear in the wild … or at least a wild black bear near the highway. All in all it was yet another very successful trip for the diary. What is extraordinary about this trip, though, is that I managed to keep somewhat on top of all the picture taking/sorting along the way. Hence, I am practically done going through the 2,145 pictures I took and I will be posting the approximately 275 which made the cut in the days to come (For those who have been looking in vain for the pictures from our last Canada/US trip in 2016, they have now been posted. Click here and scroll down).

 

Winter break in Denmark

For the past couple of years we have spent our winter breaks in Canada and the Caribbean, but as we will be going on a three week road trip in North America during the summer, we decided to stay in Denmark for the winter (apart from the trip we took to St. Croix in December). We have had very few days with snow here so when it was finally around, we made sure to go to the forest and enjoy it. After that we returned to warm waffles and hot chocolate. It was also Valentine’s Day during the winter break and while Shawn and celebrated the night in a nice hotel, Elliot and Sienna got to spend some quality time with Mormor and BC. Below they are writing some very sweet Valentine’s cards in which they are expressing their gratitude towards their grandparents. Other than that we spend the week baking, playing lots of board games, doing puzzles, playing with Lego, and practicing our head stands. We also went downtown a couple of times. One afternoon we played a fun game of petanque and ate some juicy burgers. Another time we enjoyed a big brunch and also seized the opportunity to pay my good friend Karsten a visit. He owns a very luxurious high end fashion store in Denmark with prices slightly over our budget. The coat Sienna is sporting costs around $20.000.

This and that in January

Three out of four household members have been hit with fever this weekend, so there is not much interesting to tell about. Instead, I am posting some pictures from last weekend, where we had one very nice day of relaxing and another day filled with activities. On the relaxing day we stayed in our pajamas all day long while doing puzzles for hours and lots of crafts and colouring. On the busy day Elliot went to a hockey tournament in Sweden while I drove Sienna a total of 600 km, so that she could do 2½ minutes on ice in the Danish Skating Cup. Slightly crazy if you ask me, but she told me how grateful she was 10 times before we went, 10 times while we were driving across the country, and 10 times after we got back home. Amazing how far gratitude can get you. I did not take the pictures of Elliot and his hockey team below, but I did make the cookies with his hockey jersey, as there was a bake sale at his club this weekend.

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Christmas preps

Our trip to St. Croix set us slightly back with respect to our Christmas traditions/preparations, so as soon as we were back home the kids sat down to craft some things for the tree. I got the best deal ever on the tree. Just $5! Elliot and Sienna complained about the needles being too spiky, but for $5 we can handle a bit of spikiness.

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St. Croix

In December we took an early Christmas vacation to the US Virgin island of St. Croix.  About 100 years ago St. Croix used to be part of Denmark so on top of the sun and sand we got a bit of a historical and cultural experience as well. Left over from Danish colonial times were a couple of forts in the two main cities, Christiansted and Frederiksted. These are fairly well preserved and we took tours of both and got a glimpse of what it was like to be stationed on the islands as a soldier.  We also visited an old sugar plantation turned into museum where the history of the slave trade and life was told. We stayed at a hotel on a small island in the Christiansted harbour which had a pretty quiet beach where we could snorkel and explore for sea creatures. We also visited some of the other beaches on the island and had a lot of fun jumping in the waves. Between dips in the pool and dips in the ocean we enjoyed checking out some of the historical areas of the city as well, and had a very relaxing time soaking up the sun and strolling along the pier going to our favourite restaurant.

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