Sayonara, Japan; Hej hej Sweden!

Japan Week Collage Well. I do not know WHERE this week has gone. One thing about Camp Nellie Bly is that it’s keeping us ALL busy. In fact, Mama may need to dial it down on the research and presentation aspects of this here camp, because between teaching an online class, blogging, and camp prep I am spending pretty much every moment that I’m not with the girls attached to my computer. The problem is, I enjoy the shit out of researching each country. It’s unexpectedly fun to look at each place from the perspective of what my kids would find interesting or engaging. The nice thing about doing this when they’re so young is that I’m more interested in giving them a little taste of these places than I am in them retaining facts and figures. I know they won’t remember every capital or traditional costume, but I hope they will gain a sense for how diverse and colorful the world is, and how many different ways there are to be a citizen of planet earth. 

Japan Week was a success. The highlight was our visit to the Asian Art wing of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. We brought a friend along as an honorary camp member, and the museum staff gave us a scavenger hunt list to guide us through the exhibits (they had to find things like “a gentle animal,” “a good place to hide,” “a sad person,” etc.), and once they were done they got to go to the gift shop and pick out a free postcard to bring home. That was a big hit. We saw Noh theatre masks and jade carvings and samurai swords and beautiful scroll paintings – it really made the culture come alive. We’ll definitely be going back there for India and Greece.

We also visited the Japanese Peace Garden at Lake Harriet, ate Pocky Sticks, made paper lanterns and fans – and did some non-Japanese summery things, like go to the park, and see a movie, and eat ice cream, and play with friends. The daily tasks like reading and writing and practicing were surprisingly easy to integrate into our mornings or afternoons – here’s hoping that continues! The chores have been a little harder, partly because they have to be taught how to do them before they can do them, and that takes time that Mama would rather be figuring out what tomorrow’s activities will be or, let’s be honest here, catch up on Facebook. I can imagine a time – a beautiful, glorious time – when I can set the girls their tasks and let them get to it while I do my own thing (i.e., read murder mysteries and drink lattes). Alas, that time is not now, but I tell myself that the hours I invest supervising and teaching them now will pay off in opportunities for self-actualization later. A woman can dream.

So! Onward and upward – literally – to Sweden! Living in the land of IKEA, lefse, and ya-you-betcha, I had to put Svenska on the list; not to mention, the girls are each 1/4 scandahoovian, so it was either this or Norway and I know more Swedish kid lit, so that tipped the balance in Sweden’s favor. Also meatballs. You can check out the Sweden Fact Sheet on the Camp Nellie Bly page – I’m still looking for suggestions on Swedish music . . .


ABBA is Swedish, aren’t they? Hang on. (checking internets) YES!! How could I forget ABBA? We could even watch Muriel’s Wedding as a seque from this week to next week (Australia)! ABBA saves the day! Maybe we can learn one of their dance routines! Awesome!

OK. Calming down. ABBA gets me all worked up, y’all. But seriously, the music and the poem were challenges this week. Have you ever investigated Swedish poetry? It’s pretty bleak stuff! It’s all, like, “The winter is long/and my soul is dark./Death can only release me/into the permanent frost of eternity” or whatever. Not exactly kid-friendly. So I’m cheating with Astrid Lindgren’s version of The Tomten unless someone else knows of a better option. We’ll be visiting the Swedish Institute, making Midsommar flower wreaths for our hair, and – naturally – going to IKEA, not least because they have that play area there where I can drop the girls off and go sit in the cafe and drink coffee and read for 45 minutes. So. Awesome. Pippi Longstocking, here we come.

It should be a fun week. Check back for more updates as time allows. Oh, and Happy Father’s Day!

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