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Newsletter 2007!

New Year’s greetings to you all!

Thank you for taking the time to enter my website and sorry for writing you in this untraditional matter. I have really appreciated all your Christmas greetings so very much! I have received many and am really sorry for not writing you all in person. But instead you will get a loooong letter here with lots of pictures from the two past years! Click on the pictures for enlargements (most of them are clickable).

______

Dear friends, dear family!

How did it happen - another year gone and I am again sitting here in front of the computer, trying to recapture all the events

It’s been yet an eventful year in our life, and it doesn’t exactly help that I never wrote the annual Christmas letter last year, because now there are two years that need to be accounted for!!

Ok,
here goes:

T
he most significant change since Nissedalen, the new residence for Damon & Fink-Jensen ;-) Click for enlargementlast is probably that Jens and I bought a house together. We signed the papers in the spring of 2006, and got the keys August 1 the same year. It’s a lovely little yellow brick house build in the 1960’s and located in the town of Skovlunde where we were already living before in my apartment. Benjamin was already so well adjusted here with school, sports and friends and it’s also very close to my work as well. However, any
 house within ½ hr from Copenhagen does not come cheap, not even with the current situation on the real estate market, and ours was no exception. But we are very happy and
enjoy our house tremendously.

We have been very busy fixing up our new home –
not that it was in bad shape, but there are always so many things you want to do, isn't there? We’ve torn down wall paper, painted ceilings, added another room, built in closets, blinded a window, etc. Jens also put insulation and a new floor in the attic which took a long time and still isn’t quite done. We’re hoping the "extra padding" will help reduce the
costs of heating
. We still have many things that we’d like to do but for now we are relaxing a little and only doing smaller projects.


Left: The making of a (very small) master bedroom!
Right: And voila, not only do we now have one more
bedroom, but also a library hall - and a small office section!

Benjamin is doing great. He turned 9 on January 19 2008 and is in 2nd grade in school. He does well in all his subjects, especially math and Danish. He will start learning English which his American family is very thrilled about. But he can already speak and understand quite a lot of English and has no problem spending time alone with his American family.



Benjamin loves to read, he reads several books a week. He still loves to have stories read to him also, fortunately, and I hope that we can continue to have our goodnight reading session every night for a long time to come! Benjamin started taking swimming lessons this year and enjoys it a lot, although no sports can really compete with soccer, which he just loves. He has improved greatly in soccer and in a recent match he scored a genuine hattrick, 3 consecutive goals, in less than 7 minutes!


Headed for the goal!


Get out of my way!

Benjamin has many friends, including a couple of long time, close ones and is, according to his teachers, a very well respected and well liked kid.


Left: Benjamin's good friend Jonathan often sleeps over, or vice versa. Benjamin has a bunk bed so there's always an extra bed ready, but they sometimes only need one - at least for goodnight reading ;-)

Right: Last spring Benjamin's hair was VERY long as you can see! It drove Jens crazy!  


What we also love about Benjamin is that he still
loves to goof around and be silly but at the same time he is also extremely curious and thoughtful which always makes it so interesting and rewarding taking him to a museum or exhibit, anything really except for shopping which he intensely hates!

In March, Benjaimin's father David and his wife Sandy are expecting the birth of their twin boys, so Benjamin is going to be a big brother.
  

Jens
has had a very, very busy year
(what's new?!). Besides his job at the University, he has, as mentioned, also done quite a lot of work around the house. His book projects currently include his third children’s book about the boy Jonas. The manuscript is done, the drawings are done and now all he needs is a publisher. Not easy in a time where you have to be a famous actor or musician or former model to have a chance to get a book published, it seems. Anyway, Jens’ persistency has lead him to a small publishing house on the island of Fyn (Funen) but he still needs to find supplementary funding. I’m sure he’ll succeed eventually. His coastal book which I've described in previous annual letters, is a baby of his that has taken longer to conceive than an elephant as it has now been about 4 years on the
way
! The book, in photos as well as text,

Jens reading poetry at Rosenborg Castle Gardens
(commonly referred to as the King's Gardens), August 2007.

recaptures Jens’ travels and impressions along the West Coast of Europe. He went to three publishers and the third offered to publish it. Jens signed the contract right before Christmas and the book is scheduled for release in April 2008. You can read more about the book and see some of his great photos on his newly established website www.coast-line.eu  (or on his regular website www.jensfink.dk (in Danish), and www.jensfink.com (in English). In December 2006, Jens turned a sharp corner (50) and in January we had a big party with about the same number of people attending. In summer 2007 Jens also took a CAE (Certificate in Advanced English) at University of Cambridge - taking the exam here in Copenhagen. In January and February 2008 Jens is touring around with his poetry show to 10 high schools in all parts of Denmark.

Karen graduated from public school last year and started High School in the fall of 2007. She is quite fond of it and have recently received one of the highest grades in her class in the Natural Science exam. She has also, like her father, developed a flavor for photography, and she seems to be quite good at it too, and is already juggling with different editorial programs.

I am still working with Air Liquide (industrial and medical gases) where I am responsible for our market communication in Denmark – which covers everything from press, advertising, events and internet to mention just a few. I enjoy it a lot and still find it fun and challenging to work in a Nordic “environment” with colleagues from Norway, Finland and Sweden. I often
attend meetings and courses in Sweden (usually in Gothenburg, Malmoe and Stockholm) and last year I also visited one of our big plants near Düsseldorf in Germany. Besides Air Liquide, I have also been "head hunted" for the very prestigious position of manager for one of the most promising soccer teams in Denmark, and this I say with complete objectivism of course, since that soccer team also happens to be Benjamin's soccer team ;-) It may be a while before I can quit my day time job and make a living from it, or before Benjamin can support us all from his soccer talents. But actually, Benjamin already decided to become a professional soccer player and I've accepted that he pursues this career on only one condition; that he plays for a British club and buys us a cottage there so that we always have a place ready when we want to go and watch him play. Anyway, as the team manager I sign the team up for matches and tournaments, get them sponsorships, and maintain the team's website, which you can see here: http://www.123hjemmeside.dk/sifdrenge99 (in Danish unfortunately but there are many pictures!)

Last spring I signed up at the local fitness club - where Jens was already a member - and I go at least once a week, sometimes even twice and on a really good week three times. I ride the bike, run, and use the rowing machine a lot, and recently I've become very fond of using all the great machines for weight lifting etc.  I'll spare you pictures of my endavours the the club and instead move on to
something far more pittoresque, travels:

As far as travels go, we haven’t done as much as we would have liked to – money and ambitions don’t always go hand in hand, do they?! But in the summer of 2006 (remember I am still trying to cover 2 years of events!) we all four of us went to England where we stayed with our dear friend Neil Tolley, who is always ready to open his home for us. He even lent us his car and we drove out to a very lovely area in the heart of England called the Cotswolds. We also went to see Warwick Castle and Shakespeare’s town Stratford. Stayed in and old inn and also a traditional B&B. Besides the Cotswolds, we spend some days in London as well, of course. I think the four of us are just about equally smitten with London. I just never get tired of going there.

Everywhere you look, there,s a picture waiting to be taken in Cotswolds, England. Click for enlargement
Cotswolds, everywhere you look there's a picture.


Fish and chips at the pub ;-)

Anne-Mette and Benjamin was generously invited to Florida by Benjamin’s American Grandparents, Joan and Paul. So off we went, in October 2006. The first week we stayed at the Mariott Resort at Orlando and spent five great days in Disney World – and also saw the Kennedy Space Centre and even witnessed the launch of a shuttle!

The weather was very pleasant, not too hot, and the lines at Disney were short – I can highly recommend to go off season!


Left: We're here: Magic Kingdom!

Right: Waiting for a parade at Animal Kingdom.
From left: Anne-Mette, grandpa Paul, Grandma Joan,
Uncle Chris and in the front Benjamin.


We went to all 4 parks (Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and MGM) and tried an abundance of many great rides, saw every possible show and parade, and in the evening we rested our tired bodies in the Jacuzzi in our hotel room. Ahhhh


Jacuzzi in the bedroom, how about that?



As if that wasn’t enough luxury, we then went on to Sanibel Island, a tropical paradise on the southwestern coast of Florida (near Fort Myers). It couldn’t have been any better to finish off our vacation in such calm and beautiful surroundings. The Damons’ condo is located right next to the Mexican Gulf with its beautiful white sandy beaches, coconut palm trees, pelicans and herons, dolphins, and last but not least, an amazing abundance of beautiful sea shells literally in piles everywhere.


Benjamin's grandparents' condo is where the circle is - you
have a great view over the Mexican Gulf from there.


Sanibel is among the best places in the world to go shelling, and I would usually be up early every morning to go for a walk on the beach and get the best ones – also if you plan to do some walking, you better do it early before it gets too hot. What a way to start a November day and what a huge contrast to the grey- and darkness of Denmark at this time of year – I wouldn’t mind doing this every year! Joan and Paul took us to all their favourite restaurants on the island, and Sanibel really has many excellent restaurants, the fried Grouper sandwich at Granma Dot’s for example, yummy.

Fried Grouper sandwich at gramma Dot's - Sanibel Island, Florida.

In the summer of 2007, Benjamin and I also went to America, but "only" to New Jersey this time. Nevertheless we had a very nice time with Benjamin's family. I always take the advantage of being close to New York and always take some trips there on my own.


Grand moment: Benjamin reading a book - in English. 


Left: Benjamin tries Dad's lawn mower.
Right: "Grandmor" is chasing Benjamin.

What else? Well, a few trips to Legoland we’ve
had,
and a few trips to Sweden also. Furthermore,
Jens and I spent a weekend in London last winter and this coming February, we will go again. Jens is taking me there to celebrate my 40th birthday (phew, the big 4-0, huh?). We will as usual go to the Old Vic Theatre to see a play with Kevin Spacey, this will be our 3rd performance. He is always amazing on stage.  

Right: Neil gives Jens a cooking lesson
(visit to England, December 2006)

This summer we went to Sweden for 10 days. After a few days at Astrid Lindgren’s World (a theme park in Southern Sweden. Astrid Lindgren is a Swedish author of children’s books and her stories are known and loved by all Scandinavian kids). My colleague in Stockholm, Alexandra, kindly let us use their lovely house while they themselves were away on vacation.


A walk in Stockholm...


Left: Benjamin and Jens relaxing in the Swedish "Skärgård"
Right: Benjamin and Anne-Mette


We also went a little
further North in Sweden than we normally do which was a great decision. We saw lots of reindeer in the wild and picked blueberries. Anne-Mette and Benjamin also got to do some fishing. But the best part, the SCOOP of the entire trip, was the day we rented canoes and went downstream on a small river. All of a sudden, in front of us standing at the water's edge, was a moose cow with her two calves!! We have tried for YEARS to see wild moose, it’s sort of become an obsession with us. And every time we’ve been in Sweden, we’ve looked for them but never really seen them. So this was amazing. Later, as we drove by the same river, we saw the same family, and not too far away, also a young male. Amazing! We were equally psyched, all 4 of us.
   

"All of a sudden,
in front of us standing at the water's edge,
was a moose cow with her two calves!!
"

Last trip of the year was just finished a few days ago, a short two day cruise to Oslo, Norway. We were hoping to find lots of snow to go sleding and skiing, unfortunately the weather was extremely poor there, but it didn’t stop us from sleding anyway – I’ve never tried to do that in rain and it’s not something I’d recommend either. But at least there was a little snow left, enough to ride on anyway, and Benjamin had fun!

Well, I hope this gave you an idea of some of the things we've been up to these past few years. Hopefully everyone of you found at least a little bit of new information here!

Again, thanks for all your wonderful greetings and sorry this comes too late, it took a bit longer than expected to do this!!

Love Anne-Mette (Jens + Benjamin + Karen)