Thursday, August 25, 2016

Strange things in France - Instructions and Warnings - Baby Instructions

Don't put a baby in a corner.  Just don't.

Actually, I found this warning on the packaging that came with my giant 200x200 duvet that I bought for my giant bed.  It was not French, but instead came from a British Company.  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Strange things in France - Instructions and Warnings - Bong Box

Do you have special shipping needs?  Fortunately this box exists and allows you to ship things either on a hand truck, in an actual truck, or on an airplane.  It's size L, so it can hold a lot of stuff.  

What will you put inside?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Strange things in France - Instructions and Warnings - McFlurry

So for a while in the United States, we had started to notice that the McFlurries at McDonalds didn't seem quite as mixed as they had been in the past.  The strange spoons that were designed to lock into a McFlurry stirring device were still included in the McFlurry, but didn't seem to be actually used to mix the treat.  It took us going to France to finally get an answer: 

Go Flurr It Yourself!

My guess is that it was more cost effective to re-brand the McFlurry as an interactive experience than it was to maintain the McFlurry machines and pay employees to use them.  I'm sure there was a business process study about what item it took employees the longest to prepare and McFlurry came out on top.

An awesome thing about the McFlurries in France right now is that you can not only pick the candy mix that you want in it (peanut M&Ms, Oreos, Daim, Kit Kat ball), but you also get to pick a liquid topping (chocolate, caramel, strawberry).  Plus, this summer, they have expanded the base offering to include not only vanilla ice cream, but also chocolate.  It's quite delicious and calorie filled!

Denmark - Copenhagen - Part 2

Don't tell the kids there is a 7-11 just past the decorative fountain!

Our second day of Copenhagen was spent doing more kid-unapproved tourist activities.  

Still on Scooters to reduce walking fatigue

We went to Rundetaarn which is a round tower.  It is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe, built in the 17th century.  

Definitely Round and a Tower

The church next to it had a big pipe organ as you can see here.

Large Organs are Everywhere

Rather than care about an organ, the kids were more interested in the spiral walk that led to the top of the tower.

Around and Around we go

As you can tell by observing Will sitting in the window seat, the kids took breaks often as they walked up.  Alex was a little dramatic about it.  
Oh!  The drama!
In the center of the tower is a glass floor about 25 meters above the ground level.  Will pointed toward it.  Alex, being a little more daring, stood on it and looked way down.

Not impressed at the level of danger

After checking out the tower, we figured it was time to balance out the activities with a visit to a cool Copenhagen park.  It also contained the tower, but on a smaller scale.

More Satisfactory Level of Danger

Next to the F√¶lledparken, as the park of towers was called, was a skate park.  Fortunately, the kids had their scooters!  

Helmet for Safety, Shorts for Danger

Helmet for Safety!  What?! I should have worn pants?

Not that lack of scooters stops Alex!

For dinner, we took the boys out for "American" food at Hard Rock Cafe.  They absolutely loved it.  Alex engaged in the dangerous activity of headbanging to the song, "Another one bites the Dust" and knocked his head on the table.

Should have kept the helmet on for dinner

Monday, August 15, 2016

Denmark - Copenhagen Part 1

Going to Copenhagen

The last part of our Denmark Trip was spent in Copenhagen.  To get there, we traveled across the beautiful countryside via multiple methods.  We walked from our Air B&B to the Bus Stop.  We took a bus from Billund to Vejile.  We took a train from Vejle to Copenhagen.  

Denmark is pretty...

...and somewhat rural.

The boys kept themselves busy on the bus and the train.

Spinning Tops on the Bus

Video Games on the Train

Once we arrived in Copenhagen, we took another bus from the train station to our Air BnB.  We were having a little bit of trouble finding a place in Copenhagen.  One of the options was to stay on a boat!  But the boys voted that down.  Until... we arrived at our super cute garden house... that did not have wifi!  The boys found something to do, but notified us that above all Air BnB preferences, they would like wifi the most.  Even if it is on a boat.  Now we know.

This game is called: Play Outside Until You Wack Your Brother in the Face

Boat Tour
Copenhagen is a fascinating place.  It's on the water, so we spent some time taking a boat tour.  You can tell how much the kids love boats in these pics.

Alex on a Boat

Will is even more bored on board

The boat tour was pretty cool. We got to see the cool buildings by way of the sea.  

Dan enjoying the view

It even rained while we were on the boat.  Will and Alex became much less bored as they tried to put on the crazy rain ponchos while also ducking under low bridges.

Alex, still unhappy.  Will, prudently donning his helmet in case of low bridges.

In typical tour fashion, the boat went over to Copenhagen's most famous sight, The Little Mermaid Sculpture.  Of course, the boys had no reason to understand why this was interesting.  It's not like they had grown up playing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" like me.  

The Statue has been returned after a woman-hunt across Europe!

You may notice that the mermaid picture was taken, not from the boat tour perspective, but from the land perspective.  This is due to the fact that after the boat tour, we made the children walk all over Copenhagen.  Ok, not really, they got to take their scooters, we walked.  We saw the mermaid and some other sculptures.  The Gefjun Scupture is of a norse goddess who turned her sons into oxen so that she could obtain land promised to her by the Swedish king.  As much as she plowed, she could have.  

Gefjun Sculpture

The other sculpture of note is this one...

Exhausted Mother and Son

I believe this one represents a mother who was on a tour of Copenhagen with her son.  They did a lot of walking, the son did a lot of whining, and they sat down for a moment to rest.  Don't get me wrong, my kids were scootering, so they weren't whining about walking, but then, they weren't also willing to pose with me by the sculpture.  

We did let them take a break.  There was a park that had some resting places.

We want rest!

And it also had some climbing places.


After more walking around, we went to dinner, back near the water.  We had promised the boys salmon, one of their five acceptable foods fit for consumption.  I had this beautifully prepared steak and Dan had five kinds of herring.


5 Herrings

We returned to our wifi-free lodging where the kids played some electronic games that didn't involve an internet connection (oh the suffering)!  But, we still had one more day in Copenhagen to enjoy.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Denmark - Lalandia

The Aquadome

Day 2 of our Billund adventure was spent in Lalandia's indoor water park.  Lalandia is a resort.  I think it's made up of residences, sort of like timeshares, that people own and then visit or rent out  It has a huge facility with restaurants, an arcade, sports, and an indoor water park.  Because Denmark is chilly, even in the summer.

As we spent the day in swimsuits, I didn't take many pictures.  Even without photo evidence to prove it, I contend that the boys had a great time.  This day of our vacation was Alex's favorite one.  If Will and Alex were to select a vacation on their own, they would spend it floating around on a lazy river all day.  Of course, Lalandia had more to offer than just a lazy river.  It also had a wild river.


I have taken the boys to a waterpark before.  Last August/September, we went to Soak City at Knott's Berry Farm.  In the wave pool, there were about 6 lifeguards.  At the top of each water slide, there was at least one lifeguard on duty who was providing instructions and making sure everyone was the proper height for the ride.  There were bunches of lifeguards around the lazy river.  This was helpful for when Alex decided to put his face on the bottom of the lazy river and scrape up his nose.  (Although, we still find it strange that there are no water proof band-aids at Soak City's first aid station.)

2015 Lazy River + Face Incident

In Billund, at Lalandia, there were far fewer life guards.  It's as if people need to be responsible for themselves.  It seems the rule is: Don't act stupid and when you do, don't sue someone for your stupidity.  Lalandia's web site says, 
"The whole family can swim safely at the Lalandia Aquadome, although your visit is at your own risk – safety is always top of the agenda! ...At the Lalandia Aquadome, there are always at least 3 professional lifeguards on duty to keep an eye on our happy bathing guests."
Three lifeguards!  For hundreds of people.  

The Wild River

Back to the wild river.  It's a really long water slide that starts and ends inside, but goes outside also.  It is split into two parts.  There is a slight pause pool in the middle.  

At the top, there is no lifeguard.  There are some general instructions about letting people have their space and only go feet first.  Neither of these guidelines is adhered to.  Here is a picture of the top of the slide.  It is tricky to see exactly what is going on in the picture since there are so many people starting the slide all at once, barely spaced, sometimes two at a time.  

Crowded Slide Entry

This next picture shows a few things.  You can see one of the outdoor pools that are part of the Aquadrome and also a hot tub.  You can see that the weather was kind of windy, rainy, and cold for the middle part of the day.  And, you can see just past the pool, the dark blue wild river slide and the middle pause part.  At this part, you can get out if you like, or you can get in for the second part of the slide.  This is one of the only places there was (almost) always a life guard.  I think it's because the first part of the slide deposits you into a churning pool of water.  You have to climb up to the other side of the slide to do the second part.  During the busy time of the day, there can be quite the traffic jam.  And when smaller kids are crashing down into the churning part of the slide, it gets a little crazy.  

Wild River Slide Pause Pool

The next photo is the end of the slide.  You can see Alex in the green suit and Will in the orange shirt.  Yes, they are not properly spaced out.  Alex is about to land, feet-first, in the back of the girl in front of him.  Will is about to land on top of Alex.  And the kid behind them is going to complete the pile.

End of the Slide

I, personally, got pretty bruised up from this slide.  Whether it was crashing through the middle part or getting hit in the legs from behind at the bottom, I took a beating.  The kids loved it though.  They probably rode the slide more than 20 times.

This Photo

And then there was also this:

Consider the play of light and the angle of the "stair" dimension on the left

I know, it looks super cool, like a modern painting that is on display in a museum.  But no. In my efforts to go up and take a picture of the top of the wild river, I climbed the stairs to take the photo, then went to return down the stairs (As I could not go down the slide with my phone).  This is not the correct direction to go.  I slippped down about 4 stairs on my back and forearm.  Fortunately I grabbed the hand rail with my right hand and held onto my phone with my left while falling.  The phone thought it would be good to capture its near demise and snapped the artistic picture.  

Resulting Bruise

Taking vacations with kids is rough.  After two days of completely kid-focused activities, we were done.  It was time to get back to boring, touristy activities.  Onward to the Copenhagen part of the adventure!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Denmark - Lego Land

In France, there is much vacationing during the month of August.  We booked a trip to Denmark.

The first full day of our trip was spent in Billund.  Billund isn't terribly big, it doesn't have a lot of non-bike traffic, and it is home to Lego world headquarters!

An office building, oddly not made out of Lego

Near the Lego world headquarters, is, of course, the original Lego Land which opened in 1968.

Buildings inside Lego Land, made completely out of Lego

The kids actually had fun.  We rode the rides, we ate the food, we looked at all of the Lego creations.  It was great!

Early Arrival & Ninjas

In anticipation of crowds that might appear as the day went on, we arrived before Legoland opened, then went directly to Ninjago Wold since it was new.  We rode "Ninjago: The Ride" where we used our hands to shoot targets by waving them around.

Alex won the first round.  Dan figured out the proper technique after much ninjago studying and won the last round of the day.

Spastic Waving Hands, Alex Wins

Disciplined Waving Hands, Dan Wins

Laser Maze

Alex also had the best time in the Laser maze.  I attribute this to his smallness and stealthy ninja skills, of course.

Alex's ninja portrait

I am the green ninja!  But in ORANGE!


How do we know that Will actually had a good time?  When he tends to never have fun?  I present photographic evidence...

More fun than being eaten by a shark

Mini Boats

Will didn't let nearly being eating by a shark deter him from the mini-boats ride.

Our parents are gaining on us!

We will escape from you!
Alex taunts while Will drives

Selfie-Dan is focused on driving to keep up with the children.

We have escaped past the US Capitol!

Now we celebrate our victory by sticking our tongues out at you!

Something Exciting?

The boys used to enjoy the "Jumpin' Jelly Fish" ride at Disney Land's California Adventure.  Lego Land has a similar ride called "Frog Hopper."  Althought the boy in the yellow rain poncho looks concerned about this frog-themed ride, Alex and Will sit calmly waiting for it to start.

No biggie!

As you can tell, while our boys are "bored," they also appear un-amused.  The screaming that you hear in the background is actually the ride next to them where some girls were also frog jumping.  However, they found it a little more exciting than the boys.

Giant Programmable Robot Arm Ride!

Fortunately, there was a ride at Lego Land that was more exciting than a jumping frog.

Giant Robot Arm

Arm in Action

It's called "Ice Pilots School."  There is a giant robot arm.  It has a place for two people to sit on the end of it.  First, you choose ride options.  You can select the intensity, and the different types of moves that the arm will make.  Then, it does something like this:

Alex experienced a range of emotions about this ride.  He was trepidatious, excited, annoyed, interested, and thrilled.  As for Will, he is convinced that there should be many more amusement park rides where you get to program the experience.  This was the highlight of his trip.


As you may know, Legoland does have some roller coasters.  The boys are just not interested.  So, we only rode two of them.  The first was without the boys.  We rode on the Polar X-plorer which reaches speeds of up to 65... kph.  It also has a "sheer drop" of 5 meters.  Not the most intense roller coaster ever, but cool since I had never been on one that has the dropping action.  So, it was interesting.  And there were live penguins.  (Not on the ride, but near the ride as part of the Polar X-Plorer Tour.)

Adult Fun!

We bribed the boys to go on the quintessential Lego Land rollercoaster, "The Dragon."  Promises of future sugar were made.  It would have been silly for them to go to Lego Land and not go on a decently simple roller coaster.  They were not impressed really.  Although I think Alex is starting to like the slight bit of adrenaline he experiences on rides.  

Every flavor is awesome!

Lego Land was a bit chilly, a bit rainy, but overall quite awesome!  Maybe we should go to the one in California now?  Or England?  Or Japan?