Author: Line West

Live, Laugh, Love – Truths of Happiness from Children

Sometimes the deep truths of life are pretty simple and cliché like, yet we often forget them. I was having a stressed out day trying to be five steps, or actually months, ahead of myself when a displaced coloring book with the title “Just Breathe” suddenly popped up on the children’s book shelves in Walmart. Normally I would have thought it a little to cheesy but on this day I was desperate for any means of relaxation and I justified the purchase with that it was also for my daughter. When my daughter came home from a long day in kindergarten I let her choose a couple of pages to color and out of all the life wisdom quotes this is what she picked out: There you go. It is that simple. That got me thinking about how good children are at making themselves happy when we give them the chance. If we give children time and freedom to do what they want (within reasonable and safe limits of course;) they will just go out and …

Interview with Iben Sandahl: Play – The Danish Way

It is a beautiful sunny day in August and I am going to meet bestselling author Iben Sandahl for cafe hygge and an interview about her new book Play – The Danish Way. Excited to finally meet one of the two authors behind The Danish Way of Parenting I show up early at Cafe Mig og Annie in Lyngby, Denmark. Before I even begin to get nervous if she has forgotten about me, I see her arrive outside right on time. Even though I have never met her before I just know it is her. There is something radiant about her – the way she carries herself. She is stylish and beautiful yet relaxed and friendly and I immediately feel comfortable knowing that this is going to be a pleasant and interesting interview. We find a table outside in the late-summer sun. While we warm up on big cups of cafe latte and green tea we start talking. Mostly about me. Iben is so engaging and warm that I almost forget that we are also …

Realization upon Returning from Denmark

  Just returned from Denmark and I wish I could have brought back all the people and places I love there, the beautiful design and local foods. But upon recovering from travel fatigue I realize that I am bringing home something far more important… a realization you can call it. That every place has its qualities and weaknesses and that being in Denmark is no guarantee for happiness. In fact, I feel happy to see my home in America again, my friends and my town that welcomes me back. Maybe the most important thing I am bringing home is this realization that the perfect country does not exist anywhere. Happiness is more of an attitude to life. An appreciation of what we have and a letting go of the yearning for what we do not have. This is something the Danes, generally speaking, are pretty good at. Taking time to enjoy things and people they love. Doing something joyful and relaxing is important to people of all kinds and ages. It clears our minds, we …

Weekend Cake: Brunsviger from Fyn

My husband’s absolute favorite cake is a Danish cake called “Brunsviger” originating from the small southern Danish island Fyn (Funen) where Hans Christian Andersen is from. I have no idea how to translate this name into English. It is a yeast bread with a caramelized brown sugar topping. You can find it in most Danish bakeries but there is a big difference between the Copenhagen version and the one from Fyn. Actually, it was not until my husband took me to Fyn where his family is from that I discovered how good brunsviger can be. Of course brunsviger is also delicious in Copenhagen but the version from Fyn tops everything. In Copenhagen the brown sugar topping is thick and sugary whereas on Fyn it is like a sirup-caramel topping. Apparently, it is so unique to Fyn that my husband told me to think of the rolling hills of Fyn when I shaped the cake. As you can hear he is very passionate about this cake and Fyn. This southern Danish island sure is beautiful with …

Fairies, Merpups and Finding Joy When Things Don’t Go as Planned

In my last post I promised to give you an update on my use of the playguide in the book Play – The Danish Way by Iben Sandahl. I am not sure what happened but we went on vacation to Cape Cod and now suddenly half the summer has gone by. I am so excited that we have been electronics free for two entire weeks now (two hours after I published this post my kids were watching “Chuggington”… oops)! The absence of electronics has definitely made room for a greater imaginary universe but the summer still has not been as perfect as I imagined: me sitting in a garden chair, reading books while my children would play joyously for hours by themselves. A lot of times, I have had to dig deep in order not to get (too) frustrated with constant requests for help, questions about every possible thing (“why do people have swimsuits?”) and cleaning in 95 degrees fahrenheit with what seems like max air humidity (Maryland summers are tough for a Dane!). But I …

Review: Play -The Danish Way

Iben Dissing Sandahl, one of the authors behind the international bestseller The Danish Way of Parenting, is out with a new book Play – The Danish Way. This book follows up on the wide interest in how to help children enjoy unstructured free play. It is such a great book to read here at the beginning of the summer holiday where children have what seems like endless time. It provides the readers with a great opportunity to encourage free play both for the sake of their children’s healthy and happy development and for the sanity of their parents! Free play is so much more important to children’s development than many of us parents realize! I have to admit that before I read this book I viewed play as a way children pass their time. Just fun or maybe even waste of time compared to going to a sports class or storytime. I did not take it as seriously as I should. In fact, play is so much more than passing time. It is one of …

A Summer of Free Imagination – Let the Kids Be Bored and Play

  “Mom I’m bored, can I watch something?” says my five year old like it is the most terrible thing that could have happened to her. We have just been out for a kid event and now five minutes later she is already bored. I feel highly tempted to turn on that pony show so I can get half an hour to get some stuff done. But I stand firm and say “No, it is good to be bored – now you can come up with something yourself.” She looks at me perplexed but leaves the kitchen. Sure enough, ten minutes later I hear her singing and talking while she plays with her dolls in the family room. Yet every time she catches a glimpse of me she tries to talk me into entertaining her and I have to neglect all my feelings of guilt and let go of my inner pressure to constantly stimulate her. It helps me to know that letting children be bored and play by themselves, or with other children, is …