It’s Father’s Day and Constitution Day here in Denmark, so some people (including Scott and the staff at our vuggestue) have the day off. Scott chose to spend the day going on an epic bike ride with Calvin. He has a checklist a mile long to prepare for all uncertainties, and he’s scoped a route that includes stops at parks and Calvin-friendly features along the way. This is the kind of father that Scott just is… naturally, without prompting. Involved, loving, positive, supportive, encouraging, direct, concerned and fun-seeking.
I've been traveling so much for work that today I left for the airport without any credit or bank cards in my wallet. Just cash and my ID. There's a Danske Bank office in the airport, so I took enough money out of my account for my trip down today, and back tomorrow. No big deal. Just another day traveling in space.
Sometimes, mostly when I'm feeling how very far away I am from my family and friends, I don't want to live here anymore. But then I go to work and really enjoy an interaction with a coworker. And when I get home, I realize that Calvin is babbling in something that sounds like Danish. And when I look out the window at midnight the sky still has blue in it. So tonight I'm going to sleep anticipating having a pastry that taste like butter with chocolate on top for breakfast.
1. We capped off grandparent's week with a trip to Tivoli today, with highlights being going on new rides with Calvin (who especially loved riding "Veteran Bilerne" or "The Old Cars") and the parents going on rides while he napped.
2. Mom and I walked to the ATM tonight at 9:30pm... it was still light out and the street lights were not on yet.
3. I've been so immersed in THIS week that I'm just now remembering that LAST week was insane -- solo parenting as well as attending and speaking at a conference across the water in Malmo.
4. I'm sad that my parents are leaving tomorrow and wish we lived closer together.
5. I love seeing them with Calvin -- time with grandparents is just special.
Three themes this month: Cal, data security and surveillance, Danish, work.
Watching: Person of Interest. Scott introduced me to the show, and I have to say that after the 1st episode I was NOT sold. Too geeky and far fetched... but it's grown on me. I've been loading up my iPad with them for my long haul flights. For those of you who don't know, the premise of the show is about a government surveillance system that can also predict crimes.
Anticipating: Warmer weather! It's coming. We had a few days of it last week, and next week is supposed to be sunny.
Listening: To my Danish lessons. I'm trying to double down on learning Danish, so I've been popping in my ear buds with repeating Danish over and over for the last week or so. The lesson this week is on the morning routing, so:
Klokken halv syv ringer altid vækkeuret om morgenen. Jeg vågner og står op. Min mand vœkker min søn og jeg tager brusebad, børster tœnder og tager tøj på. Mens Scott tager brusebad, jeg tager tøj på min søn. Vi spiser sammen morgenmad, normalt Cheerios. Scott tager af sted hjemmefra klokken halv otte. Calvin og jeg spiller i 30 minutter hjemme. Vi tager på vuggestuen klokken otte.
Først jeg drikker kaffe på arbejde. Jeg skriver email og taler med min kollegaer. Klokken tolv spiser altid vi frokost. Jeg tager hjem klokken fems.
Efter arbejde jeg køber ind mens min mand henter vores søn. Sammen vi laver mad og spiser aftensmad. Jeg vasker op og min mand og min søn spiller sammen. Klokken nitten Calvin går i seng. Så vi slapper af. Jeg lœser tit en bog og Scott spiller tit videogames. Klokken elleve vi går i seng og sover.
Reading: "Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World". Okay, the title is a bit sensational. I'd heard a lot about Bruce Schneier both through Scott and the ACLU. Two institutions I respect. :) The book is timely for me at work, and by the way do you see a theme here with what I'm also watching?
Eating: We made tacos this weekend and Calvin said "TACO" out loud, honest to goodness. He said it! Momentous.
Working On: Work. Work. Worked my butt off last week... I worked so hard that I hit the weekend and have not looked back for a full 48 hours.
Loving: Our new weekend activity: SWIMMING! Well, I shouldn't really say "we" because it's more of a Cal and Scott thing. I feel like an interloper when I go. It's really adorable though. Cal really likes the water. Each time has been a little different. The first time was just a big adventure. The second time was all about kicking around in the deeper water. And today it was all about the water toys. Good stuff.
Playing: My Horse. Again, work related. :) It's kind of fun though. Except for cleaning out the stalls.
Watching: Mighty Machines playlist on YouTube.
Anticipating: A week in San Francisco for GDC. I was in South Africa for #smithsiswk last week, I'm here in Denmark this week and then I'm off again. Kind of brutal, so I'm mostly anticipating being done. I always appreciate the time in the U.S. though. I'm prepared with my shopping list.
Listening: Fresh Air, with Terry Gross. I wax and wane on this particular podcast, but am currently really liking it. And actually, I'm listening to a LOT of podcasts now because of my new headphones. I LOVE THEM. I'm also attributing my uptick in listening to the new podcast app that I'm using called Pocket Casts. It had a great interface and controls, so I can easily manage the 20 or so that I listen to without becoming overwhelmed. (Note: I don't listen to every episode that comes out for every podcast.)
Reading: "The Almost Nearly Perfect People", a book about Scandinavia. The author (originally from the UK) has spent most of his time in Denmark because he's married to a Dane. So his commentary really centers around Denmark, even when he's covering the other countries. It is GREAT. Scathing, loving, admiring... and pretty hilarious at times.
Eating: After a week of wine and cheese in South Africa last week, I'm scaling it back to toddler food this week. Breakfast = Cheerios. Dinner = blueberries and a slice of cheese.
Working On: My phone usage. Another podcast I follow (New Tech City) had a week of challenges examining how our cell phones don't allow us to be bored anymore. While some of the challenges didn't resonate with me, I really liked the idea of detaching a bit from the constant connection. During the time leading up to the challenge I used an app to track my usage, and was appalled on some days, and delighted on others. The days where I was appalled were work related -- one day I was working from home, sick. The other I was at a conference for work. So, both reasonable (in particular the one where the challenge was to NOT take any photos that day. Just did not agree with the premise there.)
Loving: Project Life. Just really love it. I've been printing and cutting cards from digital files lately, because I feel low on supply. It's been fun. I have plans to stock up on supplies next week in the US, including some more page protectors and basic blank cards.
Playing: With Calvin as much as possible this week. His teacher at vuggestue told me today that she could tell that I was gone last week because Calvin walked around saying "mama, mama". Seriously, she told me this! I'm sure she was meaning to be nice and intended to emphasize that he missed me. I wish she hadn't though. The thought is heart breaking!
Watching: Up and Star Trek, the original series remastered on Blu-Ray. One of the nice things about vacation is the extra time to relax and watch TV. We don't watch much at home, so it's an indulgence when we're at my parents house. I gave Scott the Star Trek DVDs for Christmas, which he'd mentioned wanting in passing more than a year ago. I'd say I did pretty well, huh?
Anticipating: Getting back home and back to work. Our vacation has been really, really nice, all things considered. Okay, there's really only one thing to consider: an 8-hour time zone change with a toddler who had an ear infection and who broke out of chicken pox two days after we arrived. We had a rough landing here in Utah, but are making the best of it!
Listening: To everything using my new, wireless bluetooth earbuds. I've been wanting a pair of these for a long time and got them for Christmas! My favorite feature is that the ear buds have magnets in them, and you can snap them together around your neck when you're not using them.
Reading: Continuing to read through the New York Times Best of 2014 book list... I blew through the fiction section and really liked 4 of the 5 books. I read the books without really thinking about what they were about, having remembered the advice from Gretchin Ruben about how a book becomes less interesting to her if someone describes it. I have to agree... I don't think I would have read 3 of the books had I read the descriptions about them beforehand. My favorite was "All the Light We Cannot See", followed by "Euphoria"... and then "Redeployment". My least favorite, and one that I ended up skimming at the end, was "Dept. of Speculation".
Eating: As much fast food as possible... I forgot just how much fast food is available in the US. I'm especially happy to eat Taco Bell and Taco Time, but have also had Del Taco on this trip. If you're not into tacos, there are burgers: Apollo, Arctic Circle, Crown, Burger King, McDonalds, In-and-Out, Sonic, Smash, Astro, Five Guys, Wendy's, Salt City Burger, Carl's Junior and Iceberg to name a few.
Working On: A summary of a customer survey that I got the results for before leaving on vacation. I'd like to have it done by the time I get back, but am finding it hard to find the motivation.
Loving: My new sweater from Kohl's. I found some nice wardrobe gems shopping with my sister and mom yesterday.
Playing: With Calvin to keep him as occupied as possible. We need to keep him isolated because he's contagious, so that means breaking out all of our tricks! The dog and cat here help!
It's time again to choose a defining word for the coming year.
Last year, we were approaching our international move to Copenhagen, and all of the major life changes that come with that. So the word I chose was "big". And it was a big year. A huge one... and I learned a lot about myself not only because of all of the big changes but also in trying to be a bigger person overall. It felt appropriate.
So, as 2015 is approaching, I'm thinking about what I'd like to learn and reflect on and the word "lightly" keeps coming to mind. In particular, I'm inspired by this quote from Aldous Huxley's Island:
“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
Two people walk into a bakery, person A is very clearly in front of person B. Person A walks straight to the counter, person B takes a number from the automated machine. The person behind the counter calls the next number. Person B gets served first because person A did not have a number hands, and nobody balks at this. Person B knew and followed the rules of this particular bakery. Person A turns around to get an automated number for himself, but at this point there's another person who arrived as this was happening and took a number. Person A gets served dead last.
I was already being served when this happened. I'd walked in before all of them and even though nobody was there at the time, I took a number and waited to be called on... you know, because the rules.
Danes are all at once very independent, critically thinking people but also orderly, traditional, law abiding folk. Their rule following is ubiquitous, and I've often noticed it in subtle situations like this one. If I were person B in this situation, I would have demurred and insisted that person A go before me. If I were person B, I would have expected that... but that behaviour would be awkward and confusing here.
Watching: The BBC version of "House of Cards". Someone recommended that we watch it before the US version, and still not yet having seen the US version, I completely agree with them. The BBC version is from the 90's, and the production value is just very hard to watch. The storyline is great though, so within an episode or two you forget about the terrible outfits and muted colors. We're on Season 2.
Anticipating: Our 3-week vacation for Christmas and New Year. We'll be in Berlin and Salt Lake City. I'm not looking forward to managing the time zone change with Calvin, but am really happy for him to see his grandparents, who are extremely excited to see him! (They're so giddy with excitement that they broke into singing Christmas carols to Calvin on our last Skype call together. I am no longer of interest to them... "BRING ME THE GRANDCHILD".) We're also planning to pick up Luke to bring him back to Denmark with us. YES!
Listening: To myself give a presentation at a conference. Horrifying? Not really. I did an okay job. Almost put myself to sleep though. Next time, more oomph!
Reading: "All the Light we Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. It is very, very good. And a reminder that horrifying things happen in the world. Related side note: I love this time of year because all of the "Best of 2014" book lists come out. This one was on the New York Time's list. I've bookmarked many of them and hope to do some serious reading on our holiday vacation!
Eating: Homemade Indian food! We have a new arrangement with a woman to come and clean our house and do some food prep for us on Mondays. It's a glorious evening to come home to food, and Indian food for that matter! Amazing, fortunate.
Working On: Getting my Christmas postcards out the door. Yeah, they're going to be late to the US, but they will have cool Denmark postage on them!
Loving: (I’ve decided to change “Wanting” to “Loving”, like sister, like sister.) Life here in Denmark is pretty good these days. You could say that I'm loving it, maybe for the first time since moving here in May. November was a bit of a horrific month, with everyone getting sick, and the days (if you can call them that) getting really stinking dark. I was sick for two weeks straight, and in the middle of it, on Thanksgiving night, I fell down some stairs and dislocated my shoulder. There's nothing like dislocating your shoulder to slow you down a little... having one arm out of commission makes you think a little more about putting on your shoes, blow drying your hair, and more importantly, picking up your son. I put up our Christmas decorations, and have been making a point of lighting candles and playing Christmas music every night. I've been drinking lots of tea (with honey and rum, as prescribed by my doc to clear my cough). I clearly needed a bit of a crash to slow myself down and focus on the making things cozy. Things have been pretty relaxed and happy since.
Playing: Zombie Catchers, Best Fiends, Crossy Road and a bunch of other games that are using GameAnalytics and just killing it right now. It's exciting times at work.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America and this is my first time celebrating it outside of the country. I'm sad about that. We are going to dinner at another expat's house, but without the day off, and without my family and American friends around me, it's not the same.
To cheer myself up, or maybe to distract myself, I decided to focus on finding the necessary ingredients for my holiday baking. Calvin and I were both home sick earlier this week, but the weather was glorious and sunny. So I bundled both of us up and walked to the Super Best grocery store, which has the best selection of American foods. Calvin napped on the way, but woke when we got to the store and was not happy to be there. In a huge rush, I found all three of these very important items, bought them and left. Looking back on the experience, it was as if the ingredients found me!
The sweetened condensed milk, in particular... so excited to have found this! I don't know if I could go back tomorrow and find it again. Oddly, I think it was near the bread.
Do you know what holiday food each of these ingredients is for? If so, you're American, and I miss you.
To refresh this blog a little bit.