Hejdå, Svenska; G’day Australia!

The days, you guys. They are just packed. Newsflash: it is kind of a lot of work to plan a summer-long camp where you switch countries every week. I’m really wishing that I’d had this brainstorm back in, like, February or something, because for one thing, it would have given me something to focus on besides how much I HATE WINTER (it must always be capitalized), and for another, maybe I wouldn’t feel so scrambly every weekend. Or actually sort of all the time. Sweden week was pretty good, although I feel like it could have been better. I was out-of-commission sick one day, and we never did get to the Swedish Institute; nor did we manage to bake off the ginger thins dough we got at IKEA, or eat any swedish pancakes. My stepmom suggested teaching the girls Swedish massage, which is a GENIUS idea, but again: didn’t get to it. Things we did get to: dancing to ABBA, eating meatballs and swedish fish (separately; we’re not cretins), making adorable flower wreaths for Midsommar, reading Maj Lindman and Astrid Lindgren books, coloring dala horses and making Viking paper crafts, and increasing our knowledge of Thor. Which looks pretty good all written out like that, and probably definitely I should just let it go, but it didn’t feel very organized or coherent.

We’re still navigating the camp/play balance – after all, this isn’t really a camp, and all of their friends have other schedules and activities, and we dearly love our friends and want to see them as much as possible. My tendency is to immediately jump on any proposed playdate activity – Yes! Things for the kids to do! Socializing! The potential for adult conversation! Whooo! But then again, one of the supposed reasons for doing this camp thing in the first place was to give some structure to our days and weeks, and I think I haven’t been paying enough attention to that. I mean, we will survive if we only have one playdate in a given day, you know? We don’t have to spend the whole day out of the house. This week I’m trying to be more intentional about planning specific activities for each day and not over-scheduling. We shall see how it works.

So: AUSTRALIA! Yep, we’re going to the land down under. Where women glow and men plunder. Or so I am reliably informed. It’s already been a learning experience for me, as I would have sworn that Sydney was the capital of Australia. But no. Canberra. It’s like finding out Sacramento is the capital of California: a vague sense of being conned coupled with strong geographical embarrassment.

Anyway, today we listened to “Waltzing Matilda,” which is basically all about this vagrant who KILLS HIMSELF rather than face prosecution for stealing a sheep. So, you know. Excellent kid’s song. (This version has a great explanation of the jargon):

And we learned all the verses of “Kookaburra” which apparently has a fucked up fourth verse? Wherein the Kookaburra sits on a rusty nail? And THEN THE SONG ENDS?!!? I mean, I guess it’s not too surprising that the descendants of a former penal colony would not come up with the most lighthearted ditties, but good god. Maybe I’ll have to teach them “Tie Me Kangaroo Down,” only now that I think about it that’s probably about animal cruelty so I guess I JUST CAN’T WIN. I also tried to show them the video for “Land Down Under,” because it is awesome and Colin Hay is the man, but I think it was too weird for them. Maybe we’ll sneak it into a dance party session between Kylie tracks.

In addition to embracing the native music of Oz, we also read the book on this cute site (and then took the quiz, which Ellie rocked) and watched a brief video on Aboriginal Rock Art. So I think we’ve made a good start. Tomorrow we’re library bound to pick up some Mem Fox books (she is one of my absolute favorite picture book authors, and I didn’t even know she was Australian until this week. Research! Learning!) Plans for later in the week include doing our own aboriginal dot paintings, eating Granny Smith apples and macadamia nuts (both Australian! Who knew? Well, beside Australians, presumably) and dramatic readings of “Benjamin Bandicoot”, because “bandicoot” is just a fun word to say no matter how you slice it. Also we might watch some episodes of The Crocodile Hunter.

After which I will head up to my twentieth goddamn college reunion, because christ, I am old. Stay tuned for further updates.

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