April Currently

Brought to you from our RV in Moab, Utah.

READING AAA travel books on Southern Utah. My mom is a member and we picked them up for our trip. Surprisingly good. They cover everything with just a little detail, which is just enough for me.

WATCHING the light and shadows across the red rock landscape throughout the day. They are constantly changing and so gorgeous.

ANTICIPATING our arrival in CPH in a few weeks... although, it's a very fleeting thought.

LISTENING to This American Life. A favorite for long drives.

EATING basics. Whatever we can make in our little kitchenette, which for two nights has been spaghetti and meatballs. Sandwiches for lunch. Eggs and pancakes for breakfast. Let me tell you that it's glorious to have a fridge stocked with cold beverages when we get back from hiking or are deep into a long drive.

WORKING ON finding our next RV site for Thursday and Friday nights! We spent the last few at the Moab Valley RV Resort, which I got because it has a pool but didn't end up swimming!

WANTING nothing.

LEARNING about salt, silt and erosion.

CSB and the RV.

We picked up our RV yesterday and drove straight to the most beautiful place on earth... Southern Utah. CSB is a total fan. He loves the bed and windows in the back, which let him bounce around and look outside at a scene that changes every time we stop. I'm serious, he loves it. Every time. (He also loves his sponge.)

We spent today in Arches National Park. If you have never been, I implore you to go. GO! It is so unbelievably gorgeous. We lucked out with moderate, but warm weather. And we couldn't have picked a better form of transportation for visiting with a 9-month-old. Whenever CSB needed to nap today, we slipped him into the car seat and hopped from viewpoint to viewpoint, taking turns getting out of the rig when we stopped. Whenever CSB was awake, we got out to hike around together. We had meals and snacks with us at all times. It was a lovely day.

Not quite on vacation.

We're in Utah right now... not quite on vacation, not quite at home. Although Edward Sharpe's lyrics "Home is whenever I'm with you" have come to mind many times!

It's been really nice to have furniture and home-cooked meals. The weather has been amazing. And it is especially nice to have CSB get some more time with his grandparents! We've been here a lot this year and I'm sad that we won't be able to come as often going forward.

CSB always seems to be learning something new when he's here... this week it is, I kid you not, walking. Assisted walking, but walking nonetheless. This guy is a mover and a shaker and cannot be stopped!

A letter, a snapshot.

I write letters to CSB every once in a while and I wanted to share this one here.

Dear CSB,

The movers came today and hoovered everything out of our condo that wasn't cordoned off with blue tape. We'd been working furiously to get ready, sorting and sifting our possessions into three categories: get rid of it, move it, take it with us. I felt prepared enough when the movers arrived this morning... Of course, the first question from the movers was, "Do you guys need more boxes?" We were very confused because none of our stuff was in boxes. We expected the movers to be packing everything for us! After a little heart attack, everything was sorted out, and the movers indeed spent the majority of the day packing up our things into boxes they provided!

You spent the day with Katie. It's your last week together, and everybody is very sad about that. Over the last few weeks, your mood seemed to match Katie's (and mine and Scott's)... very melancholy and generally sad. She talked about long, teary rocking sessions during your naps. And generally clingy, chill play times together. You can't possibly know what is going on right now, but you have absolutely picked up on the mood. Perceptive, and a reminder of our connection with each other.

With the final week finally here, you and Katie are both in better spirits though and have spent the time celebrating and having fun. (I can't say the same for myself, as it's been really stressful.) Yesterday you spent over an hour at Volunteer Park, watching the older kids play and eating mulch (much to Katie's dismay!). You had big, big smiles while riding the swing! And it sounded like a ton of fun.

Katie's last day is tomorrow. We have plans for a takeout sushi dinner, picnic style in our empty condo, together after work. We bought Katie an iPad as a going away and thank you gift. And while I think she'll like it a lot, it doesn't make up for how sad everyone is about our arrangement ending. She's loved you so deeply and openly, and been such a trusted adviser and partner to me and Scott in our first months of parenthood. That's a relationship and moment that we will never have again... I'm so happy to have been able to experience it in the way that we did together.

While we prepped for the move today, our "take it with us" pile kept growing and growing with the realization that these few items would be our only worldly possessions for the next three months. We have a lot on our agenda -- from visiting relatives in suburbia, to frolicking in the red rock desert of Southern Utah, to attending business meetings in Europe. I'm sure I brought more clothes than is necessary, but it made me feel better to err on the side of excess. (Like a good American.) We also, of course, will have you in tow. You warrant your own suitcase and backpack! I've squirreled away some of your favorite toys over the last month, hoping to reintroduce them to you on our journey. I'm hoping that they are comforting and give you some grounding as our routine is not a routine and the landscape changes in front of our eyes from day to day. 

CSB, we had a great snuggle session last night. Scott stayed up late after I went to bed, and it was another night where he took one look at us sleeping and decided to sleep on the couch! Sometimes we get so comfy, we take up the entire bed. It was just one of those night where we felt very in sync. You woke a few times and wanted to nurse or just be pat back to sleep, which was easy. There wasn't a whole lot of fussing... And this morning, I could tell you were waking up, but also wanting to revel in the last moments of sleep. You smiled and stretched, eyes closed, snuggling closer. Sweet thing.

That's all for now, my love. 

Your mama. Allison

Copenhagen FAQ

USDenmarkFlags.jpg

Scott and I put together this FAQ for our going away party in hopes that it would thwart having to answer the same questions over-and-over and allow us to really say goodbye, thank you, and we love you to our people in Seattle.

COPENHAGEN FAQ

Why Copenhagen?
We have been wanting to move to Scandinavia since the first Obama election in 2008. We were on vacation in Norway, Sweden and Denmark when Washington Mutual (where Allison was working at the time) crashed. With so much upheaval and uncertainty happening at home, the Scandinavian contrast was stark. We saw countries that are not (yet) operated by corporations, where the citizens take care of each other, where happy families are ubiquitous, and where religion just isn’t a big deal. Plus, Vikings. We vowed to live there at some point in the future. Allison needed to finish her MBA program first, and Scott started work at best-job-ever Bungie, which delayed us… We decided to pull the trigger now because (a) we both have strong work prospects and (b) we want CSB to grow up speaking multiple languages.

When do you leave?
Tomorrow! Monday we fly out to Salt Lake and spend time with Allison’s family for a week. Then we rent an RV and take our sweet time driving down to Phoenix to see her 91 year old grandmother, checking out some of the incredible southern Utah sights. Then we fly to Asheville NC to hang out with Scott’s dad and partner for a week. Then it’s adios muchachos and off to Copenhagen on April 27.

What are you doing with your condo?
We are renting it out using Windermere as our management company. We hope to retire there, so stay tuned for more Sangria Sundowners in 2035.

What are you doing with Chunk the Glorious Leader?
The Danish system of taxes and fees amounts to 180% of the car’s value. Many Danes think this is far too low – they really don’t want people driving. So Chunk got sold to a wholesaler. Sob! We miss him. And we’ll be going back to what life was like before Chunk, when we happily lived car-free for five years. Except this time, we’ll be in a place that really supports it. Only 30% of Copenhagen residents own a car, and most people commute by bike.

Is Luke going with you?
The Fatburger is going to stay with his uncle in Utah for the short term, while we find permanent housing and get settled. We’ll be back to pick him up later this year. CSB and Fatburger are BFF’s, so they can’t be kept apart for too long.

What will you be doing for work? How did you find your jobs?
Scott will be working at Unity (a video game tech company), and Allison has already started with GameAnalytics. Both are based in central Copenhagen. Scott’s known the Unity guys for a long time through the industry, and Allison made a bunch of contacts in Denmark during our trip there last spring. This pretty much what decided Copenhagen vs. Oslo or Stockholm.

What will Scott be working on at Unity?
No idea other than it’s probably going to require making like a dinosaur and writing C++. He starts work on May 1.

What’s Allison doing at GameAnalytics?
She’s Vice President of Product, so she’ll be presiding over several productive vices.

What are you doing for childcare for CSB?
Allison’s little sister is going to join us for a month while we get settled and figure out childcare. We’ll eventually be sending CSB to “nursery”, which is much like American daycare. He’ll be in a group of other children between the ages of 1 and 3. There’s a 6-month waiting list for most nurseries, however, so we’ll likely be starting with an in-home nanny or “daycare”, which in Denmark is actually care in someone else’s home with a smaller group of children.

Where are you going to live?
We will be in temporary housing for a couple of months as we look for a place to live. We plan to live in the city and are eyeing the neighborhoods (or “communes”) of Østerbro, Christianshavn and Vesterbro. Regardless, we’ll always be close to green space… “It is official municipal policy in Copenhagen that by 2015 all citizens must be able to reach a park or beach on foot in less than 15 minutes.”

What are you doing with all of your stuff?
We sold and purged a lot of it, then movers came last Wednesday to take everything else away and put it on a boat. (Yes, the Love Pod made the cut and will be meeting us over there!) The journey takes about 4-8 weeks.

How long are you going to stay in Copenhagen?
Could be a couple years, could be forever! Depends on how much we like it there. After five years, the nice expat tax break we get (flat 32%) expires, and then we’ll have to make a financial decision to stay or come back to America or go somewhere else!

When will you be back to visit Seattle?
We don’t know, but hopefully next year!

Are you going to learn Dutch?
We are going to learn Danish.

Isn’t Copenhagen cold? What’s it like there?
Copenhagen is about as far north as Northern British Columbia (55°41′N), so it is quite cold. Its metropolitan area has a population of 1.9M compared to Seattle’s 3.5M. Its urban population is denser however, with 1.2M compared to Seattle’s 635K.

What kind of food do they have?
Copenhagen is a fish and potatoes kind of place. They enjoy open sandwiches (smørrebrød) on rye bread and meatballs. Their national beers are Carlsberg and Tuborg, and akvavit is a popular hard liquor.

Aren’t taxes really high there?
Yes, but the money goes to good causes like health care, public transit, subsidized child care, and free education through college. The tax situation is very favorable for families. Denmark also doesn’t invade a lot of countries (anymore) so most of that money goes where it’s intended.

Can I come and visit?
YES! Please do. May through September are the best times! And don’t book hotels, it’s crazy expensive there. We will likely have a much bigger place than we do now, with plenty of room for guests.

 

OTHER THINGS TO TALK ABOUT

  • What is your favorite memory of Scott, Allison, CSB and/or Luke?
  • Your plans for world domination.
  • What is your favorite place in America?
  • What is your favorite place in Europe?

This is the place...

Where I met Scott.

Where I developed deep friendships over sangria and margaritas and sunsets.

Where I've stumbled to after imbibing maybe a little too much.

Where I've crashed after long bouts of travel.

Where I struggled to get through business school.

Where I've concocted career moves.

Where I came back to and cultivated my crafty side.

Where I left a religion, for good.

Where Scott and I developed our house specialties of Tacos Juntos and Pizza de Amor.

Where I recovered from multiple oral surgeries, a c-section, head aches, coughs and other maladies.

Where I stayed up late nights with my first child.

Where I hope to return.

The place.
The place.

Odd Documentation of Household Items

We are purging, purging, purging as we prepare for movers to come and suck everything else out of our condo next Wednesday.

We've been able to sell a lot of stuff to friends, coworkers and a few strangers via Craigslist. And in the process, we've documented and memorialized a lot of our household items in photos. It's kind of odd, but also kind of nice. I can imagine someday we'll look back at these and laugh at the design or the functionality as things like wine racks become obsolete. (I'm predicting now that boxed wine will overcome its stigma and reign supreme in 25 years.)

humidifier.jpg
carcooler.jpg
winerack
cabinet
sideboardtable

Enjoy Everyday Layout

I had some time last week to visit Anandi and we, of course, spent the time in her new craft room playing with paper. This is one of two layouts I was able to make in the short 2 hours that I spent there... I'm always amazed at the creativity that flows when my supplies are limited. This layout came together from a mish mash of things I had on hand. I love the muted gray/green with pops of red.

Enjoy Everyday by Allison Bilas

Enjoy Everyday by Allison Bilas

p.s. I'm saving my second layout for the next month of challenges over at Two by Two (my family's scrapbooking blog). Stay tuned for it over there!

Scrapbooking Reference Books

We are purging, purging, purging as we prepare to move to Copenhagen. I had already winnowed down my physical books, opting to read solely on my Kindle and in e-book format, when we moved to Peru for 6-months. My collection has grown again in the last five years, and I'm back up to about 40. So, purging, purging, purging again.

Some of the books that I will not be purging are my scrapbooking reference books. I go to these books for inspiration on topics/stories. Aaand, I just love them.

My collection of reference books for scrapbooking.

My collection of reference books for scrapbooking.

These really break down in to two types of books: list prompts and question prompts. 

List Prompt Example:

"List Your Guilty Pleasures". For this type of a prompt I could literally include my list of guilty pleasures, or more generally I could use the prompt to think about photos or stories around my guilty pleasures. (Just so you know, my main guilty pleasure is Taco Bell and I have plenty of photos to go along with that!)

List Prompt Books: Listography Series (I have three of them, but also am coveting their travel, "my future" and friend ones); To-Do List

Q&A Prompt Example:

These books have more open ended prompts in the form of a question, but they work the same way. Example: "What makes you feel free?" Oh! So many ways to interpret this, right? I could look back at my photos for moments where I felt free, or think of people or things who help me me feel free and use photos of those people or things. The possibilities are there!

Q&A Prompt Books: Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire, The Oral History Workshop, Legacy, All About Us, 344 Questions, Q&A a Day for Kids, Q&A a Day

Some notes on each book:

Listography: Aah! This is the book and series that really started and inspired my collection. I just love lists. And, obviously, I have three of these (Listography, Parenthood and Love). I'm also coveting three more: travel, "my future" and friends.

Vanity Fair's Proust Questionnaire: I loved the premise of this book: the same questionnaire filled out by lots of different famous people. I believe someone gave this to me... Heather, was that you? Likely! The questions themselves are great prompts (e.g. "What is your deepest regret?"), but reading how others have answered the questions is also inspiring.

To-Do List: The description very appropriately says that this book is "voyeuristic and interactive", and it's inspiring for scrapbook layouts exactly because of that!

Oral History Workshop + Legacy: I bought these two books as I was preparing for a visit from my grandmother, who was coming to Seattle from Phoenix to teach me how to paint. The painting didn't stick, but the conversations we had during her visit definitely did! I would peek at these books to help me think of things to ask her. Their prompts would make wonderful layouts for stories of other people.

All About Us: This is a book about relationships and one that a friend gave me when Scott and I got engaged. It's meant for each of you to fill out together, and we have done that on occasion.

344 Questions: This is a fun book (meant for creatives) that has a series of questions in a flow chart format, where each question builds on the one before it. Example: What do you do to get inspired? What are hte places where ideas come to you more readily? WHo does what you want to do, or does what you already do, just much better? Are they inspiring you? Or frustrating you? Or both? Where do you draw the line between inspiration and imitation?... Etc!

Q&A a Day + Q&A a Day for Kids: Anandi recommended these two books, so they are my newest additions to the collection. They have prompts meant to be filled out each day for 5 years so you can go back and review what you wrote before. It's a fun concept that I will never do, but I love being inspired by the prompts anyway!