Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Magical Musical Tuesday Mornings

A big challenge that came with moving to Denmark was for Riley and I to not become isolated. Staying home with a little baby is inherently isolating and moving to a city where we knew nobody was a risk. What if I was miserable and lonely? Let's be honest, there were some days in DC when I was staying home with Riley and was miserable and lonely. Being Riley's mom is the best thing I have ever done and staying home with him for this little while is the best decision I have ever made, but it's also harder than any job I have ever had. So, why not move to a foreign country in the midst of the hardest job of my life? Why not leave our wonderful network of friends and our family across the ocean? Hmm...

Since we've been here, finding activities for Riley and I, and finding new friends here have been my top priorities. I will not be lonely. I will have plans every day. We're going to have fun even if the trying to have fun is a bit exhausting at the start.

I have been to several playgroups and new mom groups and have been collecting tips. Based on the number of recommended activities and groups, Denmark sounds like a paradise for children and parents of young children. One of the recommendations that came out of an early meeting I attended was a sing along session for small children at a church north of Copenhagen. It was described as having delicious food and fun songs for kids and being all in Danish. The all in Danish part was a bit intimidating, but otherwise, it sounded pretty great. I have been looking for music classes for Riley and this seemed close.

My new friend Daniella (a Colombian who came to Copenhagen via college in the US and a stint in London) and I tried to go to the musical church two weeks ago, but the session was canceled that week because of a school holiday neither of us knew about.

When we returned this week we walked into the church and were greeted by the smell of fresh-baked bread. We found our way upstairs where a room full of moms and little kids between Riley's age and around 3 or 4 were eating the fresh-baked bread and a variety of other food while seated around several round tables. An older woman greeted us and upon learning we spoke English, quickly switched to English and proceeded to give us a tour of the cleanest baby changing station I have ever seen. She then told us it was 20 kroner (about $4) for adults and free for kids and we could eat all we want. She promised fresh bread every week and explained that she and her husband lead the singing. Light was streaming into the eating room and little kids were frolicking around. Everyone had taken their shoes off at the door and we were standing on the cleanest, shiniest wood floors. At some point our hostess's husband began ringing a little bell and everyone filed into the next room, a fabulous space decorated with all kinds of twinkling lights, toys and one large paper lantern.

Then the music began. The husband and wife sang beautifully in harmony and played guitar along with one other man playing guitar. The leaders were very animated and captured the attention of their young audience. All of the kids and moms sang along and knew the proper hand motions to go with the words. Riley sat in awe as watching other kids and singing are two of his most favorite things. My expression probably mirrored his.

When possible, our hosts told us in English what the songs meant. There was one about chores, one about Sleeping Beauty and a surprising number of songs that I sang as a child. (Only I sang them in English). Children in Denmark also sing the Hokey Pokey, The Wheels on The Bus, and Where is Thumbkin. It got me wondering about the origins of children's songs. Were those songs in English first or Danish? As they sang them, I thought, "Hey, that's an American song," and then realized that more likely it was a song from somewhere else.

After a half hour of singing there was a short coffee break and then another 20 minutes of singing and movement. About two hours after we arrived, the music was over and it was time to go home.

It's hard to explain, but there was really something magical about the entire morning. It could have been a fresh-baked-bread-induced euphoria, or it could have been my friend Daniella using her British-isms and saying how brilliant it was quite a few times, but I suspect it was something else. There was just a joy in the entire experience. From the perfection of the space, to the well-chosen kid-friendly decoration, the fresh bread to the animated singing, the spirit of the Tuesday morning music is hard to miss.  I'm looking forward to returning every Tuesday morning that I can.


  1. Love, love, LOVE the blog! You will have a book when you're done. Miss you guys!

  2. I'm not sure if it's just my mood today, but your post just made me cry. Eric's talking on the phone with his brother who lives in Germany, and I just got off the phone with my sister in Colorado. The rest of our families are dispersed in various cities around the U.S. and Europe, the closest being about 1,000 miles away. We are making friends here, and we love Seattle, but as you mentioned, being at home with a baby is definitely the hardest job I have ever had. Your musical Tuesday mornings do indeed sound magical. It's so wonderful to stumble on fun, inviting, affordable and, in this case, delicious activities like these for parents and children.

  3. This sounds like so much fun!
    I hope we can check it out with you guys when we visit. Reuben would love it!