Sparkling Allison

American expat in Denmark, mom, lover of sparkles and staplers, avid book club member.

[Week in the Life] 2017 Album Walk Through

CurrentlySparkling Allison2 Comments

I love so many things about this project!

I commented on the WITL Facebook page that the week itself just so happened to be a really good one. It went really smoothly, and I have to attribute some of that to the mindfulness that comes with doing this project. I observed more than I reacted. And it was nice. 

Putting the project together was also super fun! I've been away from scrapbooking for almost a year, and thought WITL might be a good entry back in. It definitely was! The 6x8 size was really approachable. Each of my 7 days of the week is almost identical, and I repeated motifs a lot (e.g. circles cut out of journaling pages, gold star stickers, a few variants of black dot washi tape, and of course, the Ali Edwards WITL supplies themselves). I tried not to deviate too much, and having fewer decisions meant the album came together quickly.

Gold stars and black dot washi tape!

All of my journaling is copy/pasted from Evernote, into a Word document that I formatted for the 6x8 size. I included a box to adhere the square chipboard embellishments, and I think this turned out to be really nice.

Journaling edited and formatted in Word, printed on cardstock, glued back to back and inserted directly into album.

If there was enough room at the end of the journaling, I included a photo or embellishments. If there was too much journaling, and if it made sense, I sometimes added it to photos. I also copy/pasted and Google Translated the notes from Calvin's bornehave/daycare that we get each day onto the front and back of 4x6 cards. This was a last minute add, and I love it very much!

Journaling on photos, and special 4x6 inserts with Cal's bornehave notes.

As I commented in my post on Lightroom organization for WITL, I generally had the same number of photos for each day in page protectors. (I had one of the 4x6 page protectors, one of the 3x4 page protectors and one of the 6x8 page protectors for each day.) If there were photos that I wanted to include beyond this, that didn't fit on the journaling, I printed them separately, glued them back-to-back and hole punched them to include in the album.

I love, love, love the see through 3x4 pockets. I cut out the days of the week using my Silhouette, adhere the circles to them, and popped them in to the pocket. I had a hard time deciding what to do with these empty pockets, so it was the last thing I did. And I love how they turned out.

See through pockets, with days of the week and gold star embellishments.

I also love the black and white photos at the end of each day. Each one includes a favorite quote/sentiment on strips of paper.

Favorite quotes on black and white photos at the end of each day.

I'm left wondering if I dare do December Daily. I'll have an itty bitty baby at that point, so... we'll see how ambitious I'm feeling!

Organizing Week in the Life Photos in Lightroom

Sparkling Allison5 Comments

I loved participating in Ali Edwards' Week in the Life project last week! I have words and photos still to post here for Saturday and Sunday. In addition to writing throughout the day in Evernote, I also spent about 30 minutes a day organizing and editing my photos in Lightroom. This helped me to get down from the 619 total photos I took throughout the week, to about 40 edited photos each day. I will print a subset of them (probably 10 to 12) for my album.

Organizing and editing photos for Week in the Life:

(1) I set up a folder on my hard drive specifically for Week in the Life. (I store all of my photos on this drive, and they are religiously backed up. Thank you, Scott.) Each night I would clean off my phone and memory card, dumping all photos into this one file.

(2) On the first night, I imported the folder into Lightroom. Otherwise, I would synchronize the folder each night to add in the new photos that were taken. (Right click > Synchronize.) 

Note: You can also import the photos directly from your phone or memory card, versus drag/dropping them into the folder and synchronizing it in Lightroom. I prefer first putting them in the folder, manually, because I like to completely clean off my memory card/phone at the same time. Synchronizing also puts the photos you've just synchronized into a catalog that you can work from.

(3)  Then I ranked all of the photos I took throughout the day with my typical rating scale, adapted from Stacy Julian's Photo Freedom system. I do this doing keyboard shortcuts (you just type a 3, 4 or 5), so it goes very quickly. 

3 = I don't want to lose this photo. Most of these are either kind of blurry, but good content, OR they add some context to a story (e.g. photos of landscapes, buildings, etc.)
4 = I really like this photo.
5 = This is the best photo I've ever taken!

Side note: Stacy Julian's Photo Freedom is aaawwweeesome! I adapted it to my Lightroom workflow years and years ago, and just love it. Some resources are at the end of this post.

(4) Then I edit the photos very lightly, using Lightroom's tools and some presets I have set up for my different cameras / lighting situations.

Note: There was some discussion on the WITL Facebook page about editing out dust on table tops. :) To de-crumb or not to de-crumb? That is up to you. I de-crumb. I also typically fix the white balance, exposure and adjust the curves for contract/shadows/highlights. I know these tools, so it can go really quickly.

The presets I have set up do these things automatically, making it even faster. I made one for my camera phone that sharpens the photos and adjusts their highlights/blacks. I also have one for the raw setting on my DSLR that enhances the color and brightness, for the most part. 

Done. This took me about 30 minutes each night.

Choosing and printing photos for Week in the Life:

Now that WITL is over, I want to go through the best photos and choose which ones to print. I'm doing this with the help of Smart Collections.

(1) I set up a Smart Collection for each day of the week that filtered out any un-ranked photos, leaving me with only the 3s, 4s and 5s.

(2) I print from home directly from Lightroom, so my next step was to set up a print template. I set up cells with the standard printing sizes I wanted for my album, and then added the number of each cell needed for one day. This came out to:

4 - 4x6
5 - 3x4
1 - 6x8
1 - 2.75x2.75

(3) Once the template was ready, I went to my Smart Collection for a particular day, and then dragged/dropped the photos into the corresponding cells. I did this really haphazardly, mostly matching the cell to the photo orientation. If I ran out of cells on my template, I would add more... I'll be adding a few photos as miscellaneous inserts.

I also went back and did some more editing on photos that I felt needed it, or cropped them to different orientations if desired. 

That's pretty much it! I'm curious how others are organizing their photos?! There were so many gems this week.

Resources:

[Week in the Life] Friday

CurrentlySparkling Allison

Today was fewer pictures, but more screenshots of social media and texting. (Note to self: Get Scott's Facebook post re: ducks and his bike ride home last night.) Also planning to include the daily journal entries from Cal's bornehave.

Morning:

Wake up! Scott is with Calvin in the other room, and I hear them chatting. I hadn't noticed Scott coming home last night, I'd gone to sleep pretty early! Also didn't notice what happened to make him go sleep with Calvin. Zzzzz!

Cal spends a little time snuggling with Scott, then comes in to see me. He starts talking to my belly, saying hi to his little brother, then drumming on my belly to make sure he got the message.

Belly drummin'.

Belly drummin'.

At some point Cal changes his mind on what to call the thing in my belly: "Ikke little brother. Han er racer-baby."

Get myself ready, and for some reason feel like putting on a little red lipstick today. It won't last past breakfast. Nonetheless, feeling better after such an achey day yesterday.

We lingered a little longer in bed this morning, so it was a quick breakfast, then out the door. Lots of construction activity to stop and look at on the way to børnehave. Calvin's drawer was overflowing with toys, so I had him pick out two that he wanted to keep and stowed the rest in his locker to be taken home.

Stopping at the corner to look for cars.

Stopping at the corner to look for cars.

What felt like a quick bus and metro ride, then on to work. Ran into Bjarke, who bought me a chai latte on our way in, commenting that order a chai latte is "exactly my segment". You mean the 30-something-year-old-pregnant-woman-segment? Yes! That's me.

A sea of black on the metro. Was lucky to find a seat today.

A sea of black on the metro. Was lucky to find a seat today.

I kicked off my heavy, loop script right when I got in the door today, and am hoping it finishes by the end of the day! Would be great to have it wrapped up over the weekend. Spent most of the morning rescheduling meetings, prepping for afternoon meetings, giving feedback on a marketing project and monitoring my script! Also, finally had a chance to talk with Teis today about salary negotiations, and found out that I got a raise. Yay! That's always nice.

Afternoon:

Another great, early lunch. One of my favorite coworkers, Martin, sat with us. We talked about competitive activities/sports for kids, the status of Martin's kitchen remodel, baseball in Japan and the upcoming Sakura festival next weekend. Scott and I are planning to go as part of our weekend juntos.

My old boss, Morten, came to MSP for a visit. I hadn't had a conversation longer than 2 minutes with him in a long time. It was weird, but also nice to catch up and talk game analytics!

Perler beads! And I'm reminded that Cal really needs a haircut.

Perler beads! And I'm reminded that Cal really needs a haircut.

I got the notice from Cal's børnehave that there was a new diary and photos posted. Looks like he participated in doing perler beads today. How fun! So in love with this boy, who is growing, changing, being himself. And one of the photos showed him reading a book with Alina. Love that! They seem to be getting along really well.

Tonight is date night! We do this every Friday, and it's an integral part of our relationship. Scott and I stayed chatting about where we should meet tonight. I love date night. Scott loves it. Calvin loves spending time with Signe, who picks him up from bornehave, and usually goes directly to the store to get an ice cream or candy! I love that they have their own relationship, and that it means that Scott and I can rest easy and have our own relationship as well! I adamently recommend date nights to anyone who will listen, and actually haven't known anyone to take me up on the challenge.

Was rainy leaving work and getting to metro. Got a notice about Cal from Signe. Another accident and couldn't find bike keys. That means Calvin made it just 1 day this week without an accident all day. Definitely bringing this up on Monday! We'll pick up his bike sometime this weekend. Met Scott at Frederiksberg Center. We stopped first for a pastery from Holms because Scott was starving, then went on to buy a few shirts for Calvin at H&M (he's been needing them), browsed a home goods store, and wandered a little bit.

Evening:

We ate dinner at Wagamama's. Funny side note: When we walked in, the place was nearly empty. The server asked us if we had a reservation, and when we said no, she furrowed her brow and said: "Let me see if I can find a space." This has only ever happened to me in Copenhagen, and it's weird. My guess is that people take longer than the typical American to eat here. By the time we left there was indeed a line at the door, and the tables were mostly full.

Room for 2?

Room for 2?

Scott had ramen and a peach iced tea and I had a curry dish with a Pepsi, which felt exotic to me as I have been trying not to drink very much caffeine. At dinner we talked about maternity/paternity leave, how we might want to spend the time. We have different views on it. I want a long period away from Copenhagen. He wants shorter stints away, so that we don't have to orchestrate a long leave. It makes sense and I think we'll be able to find some compromise here. We moved the conversation to the Espresso House afterward, where it morfed into talking about events coming up in the shorter term (e.g. our night off next weekend, visitors we have coming in May and June, and my leave starting). It's going to be a busy next few months!!

Rookie rejsekort user.

Rookie rejsekort user.

Our dates are never super special. Typically dinner and time for talking. Sometimes a movie. Pre-pregnancy we'd go to Tivoli and go on rides quite often! In the summer months, we lay in parks. 

Scott had his bike, so he rode that home while I took the bus. I finally remembered to ask for his rejsekort! I checked on to the bus, but totally forgot to check off... rookie mistake. Someone else at my bus stop did the same thing and we were laughing about it. My text to Scott went something like this: Oh shit, what do I do? He wrote back and told me that he could do it with an app. Phew! Walked home through my favorite elephant gates, in time to see Signe for a minute as she was leaving. I unzipped my bulky coat so she could see my belly! It's big! And it made her tear up a little bit. Love her very much.

Favorite part of the walk home.

Favorite part of the walk home.

Scott and I retreated to the office for the rest of the night. Scott's planning a Legoland trip for him and Calvin, which will happen when I start my leave but before the baby is born. I'm looking forward to having a few days completely to myself!! I spent the time working on photos, writing about the day, and catching up on Facebook.

[Week in the Life] Thursday

CurrentlySparkling Allison

Morning:

Wake up, everybody!

Wake up, everybody!

I was extra tired this morning when Calvin popped in, all happy and ready to go for the day. We played for a bit, and then I got up to take a shower. When I got out, Scott and Calvin were having an argument about Calvin changing his shirt. He really likes his new dino shirt! And did not want to take it off. Scott and I swapped duties -- Scott went to take a shower, and I took on the "let's get dressed" task. I figured a good compromise might be to have Calvin pick out what shirt I wore, and what shirt papa wore. He liked that, and then was fine picking out a new shirt for himself as well. It really works to give Cal some choice and responsibility. It's the best parenting tactic I have... it might be the only tactic I have!

We went down to the big bathroom. Calvin played near my feet while I blow dried my hair and did my makeup. In the process, he took off his shirt and put on the blue neck scarf, which he wears like a tube top! I love that he gets creative with what he's wearing, and wish there were more accessories for boys. I know I shouldn't be so gendered in my thinking, but Calvin would honestly prefer a Batman themed headband with sparkles to a Frozen themed headband, but alas, I can't find items like that for him!

My creations from last night.

My creations from last night.

Tube top antics.

Tube top antics.

Then it was downstairs for breakfast. Scott wanted to head out asap to get to work, so Cal and I were on our own. Two bowls of cereal, and then 10 minutes of play time before getting ready to go. I spent that time unloading and loading the dishwasher.

Cereal, again!

Cereal, again!

Proper Dane.

Proper Dane.

Cal wore the new thermal suit that I bought for him yesterday. It fits great, with some room to grow, and makes him look like a proper Danish kid! Our walk was nice and sunny. We stopped a few times to check out the construction. I've been taking so many pictures this week, that at one point Calvin instructed me to take a picture of a forklift that was passing us. Okaaaay, dude! I'll definitely do that.

I took the bus-metro-walk route to work, passing through the elephant gates, taking the bus to Forum, stopping for a SBUX decaf mocha (which was free because I'd reached 10 drinks on my punch card), metro to DR Byen and a nice walk along the canal to my office building. It's the slowest route to work, I think, but nice to not rush.

My office building, the Mikado House.

My office building, the Mikado House.

Rosa got in about 5 minutes after me and had big news! She and Ryan got engaged over their Easter vacation in Barcelona!! So excited for these two. They're a great people. I can't help but see a little bit of myself in Rosa. She has her own approach to life, of course, and I just really appreciate knowing her and watching it all from my vantage point! There are definitely times when our friendship makes me feel terribly old, but I get a lot from our friend-first/mentor/boss dynamic.

Afternoon:

Lunch was delicious, as usual. I love our katine. Our team always goes to lunch really early because we appreciate having first dibs at the yummy food! We're also super fast eaters. Today I found evidence of that in our Redshift CPU usage chart. I sent this across our Slack channel and got an audible laugh from everyone!

We are data nerds.

We are data nerds.

Speaking of... Had a good talk with my team re: how we move forward with the processing bottleneck issues we've been having... seems like we're on the right track, even if it's all moving much more slowly than I'd like!

A little treat.

A little treat.

Also had a really great chat over Slack with Matt (a PO/game designer) and Rosa. Matt had big compliments for our team... and lots of questions about some data that we were able to explain and elaborate on. This is what I really like about my job. Helping people understand what is going on... meaning, exactly WHY a number is going up or down. It's not important to know that ARPU went up, but it is important to know why! I could rant on and on about this.

The rest of the day was meetings and more data wrangling.

I left work around 4:30pm and reversed course, metro to bus, stopping in at a couple of stores at Fredriksberg Center in between. Almost bought some cute shirts for Calvin at H&M, but the line was ridiculously long and I bailed. Panduro was a dud, as usual. Sosterne Green had some black and teal paperclips that I bought for scrapbooking... I really like the random little things you can find there. It's probably my favorite store in Copenhagen.

Evening:

Fresh pajamas after his bath.

Fresh pajamas after his bath.

I got home to find Calvin in the tub, and Scott watching him in the bathroom. Scott had found Calvin on the playground at bornehave, wet with pee, and was annoyed about it. It's been happening too much... we didn't have the same problem when he was home for Easter break. So... we need to talk with them again about it. It concerns me that he's not getting the attention he needs, not only when an accident has occurred, but also in preventing them.

I started dinner while they finished bath time... taco night! Tacos are so simple to pull together. We have them every couple of weeks, and they're always good. Tonight the shells were soggy though... we'd been holding on to them for too long. It's definitely an item that should be bought on demand, like bread. Calvin even partook in tacos tonight. He put together a crispie shell with cantaloupe pieces inside. Yum?

Tacos for dinner tonight, ready in no time flat.

Tacos for dinner tonight, ready in no time flat.

Cal played in the living room with his cars after dinner, while Scott and I chatted about our days at work and upcoming plans (or lack thereof) for our overnighter next weekend. Then Scott cleaned up the kitchen while I played with Calvin... "playing with Calvin" actually meant feeding him cars that were scattered around the floor so he could put them in his dump truck and drop them into a basket. So, part play, part cleaning! When there were only a few minutes left before bedtime, we started on the McQueen puzzles together. He did the one with McQueen, I did the other Italian car from Cars 2. (We're looking forward to the next Cars movie coming out soon!)

Puzzles before bedtime.

Puzzles before bedtime.

Scott took Cal to his room, and I retreated to the office to check on some work I'd queued up before leaving. Checked email and started in on organizing photos from the last couple of days. Scott left to meet Ryan and Thomas for beers -- I told him to give Ryan a huge hug, and to buy him a beer given the news about him and Rosa! I wrapped up Cal's laundry, crafted a bit and then was off to bed!

If you're counting, loads of laundry this week is at 6 for me! Maybe 5.5, since Scott technically put all of this stuff in the wash. I hung it up to dry.

Side note: I've been super uncomfortable today. Feel like the belly is growing! My pants felt tight, my belly felt stretchy and my back and hips were sore. All. Day. Ugh! Probably a growth spurt.

[Week in the Life] Wednesday

CurrentlySparkling Allison1 Comment

Morning:

Hump day already! It's nice to have the short week.

I have an appointment this morning for a blood glucose test. I didn't set an alarm, never do because Calvin is usually up before is ever required anyway. Ended up waking up at 4:15, 5:15, 5:45 and finally at 6:00, not wanting to miss my appointment at 8:00. A little annoying, but also nice because I got to snuggle with Scott a little more each time I woke up. It felt like sleeping in!

Scott finally got out of bed at 6:30 to take a shower. I stayed in bed, noticing that my stomach was kind of lopsided. I think that when I lay on my side, the baby nestles down into that side as well. I showed Scott when he got back in the room, who called the baby my "little passenger". I love the idea of being this guy's transport for the time being!

Calvin was awake in his bed when Scott opened the doors adjoining our rooms. "Stor hug and kisses, papa." They had their morning moment together, then Calvin sauntered in to say hello to me. So nice.

Before.

Before.

After. Better, but still have a basket to deal with!

After. Better, but still have a basket to deal with!

I spent a little time putting away the clean clothes that had been piling up on my dresser, while Calvin took his time getting dressed and Scott (who has a vacation day today and is no hurry) read on his phone.

Checked my calendar and have no meetings today, so I decided to work from home after my appointment. Messaged my boss to let him know... Definitely feeling like a short timer there. 51 days to go until my leave, according to the widget on my phone. Not that I'm counting.

Since I wasn't going to work later, I foregoed taking a shower. Got dressed and went down to the big bathroom to fix up my hair... Dry shampoo is so nice. Makes life easy. Quick wash of face, moisturizer, SPF, mascara and clear brow gel. I'm done and downstairs to meet the men for breakfast.

I can't eat anything because of the test, but Cal and Scott have the usual cereal. I use the time to clean out my purse, which is full of used tissues, wrappers and a couple salt packets Scott had squirreled away in there during our Lalandia trip. (Scott loves condiments in convenience packaging!) It's quickly time for me to go. Kisses and hugs all around.

Ritual milk pouring.

Ritual milk pouring.

I take the same bus that I usually do for work, the 6A, but all the way to Rigshospitalet today. On the ride I need to update the mobilbilletter app, and I make a note to myself to ask for Scott's rejsekort. He never uses it, and I'm starting to ride public transit more than my bike these days. It might have helped me avoid getting that ticket yesterday too!

There's a bit of a wait to start the test at the hospital... I'm number 15. Gave me some time to go to the bathroom! Once called, I drink the super sweet lemonade and immediately feel like I'm going to throw up. Haven't eaten anything since last night, and the sudden jolt of sugar is jarring. I was able to hold it together, listening to the instructions to go and sit in the waiting room for the next 2 hours. 

So orderly at the hospital. It was funny to see 14 other ladies, all at the same stage of pregnancy, ahead of me in line.

So orderly at the hospital. It was funny to see 14 other ladies, all at the same stage of pregnancy, ahead of me in line.

Afternoon:

I'm surprised at how much time I can fill just browsing blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and playing with photos on my phone in the waiting room! In no time, I’m in having my finger pricked and blood tested. In the end I'm cleared of having diabetes. The 7 minute wait for the bus, however, feels like eternity now that I'm done and very hungry!

Getting myself to the bus, diabetes free!

Getting myself to the bus, diabetes free!

On the way home, I stopped into a kids store and bought Calvin a thermal suit. Scott had noticed that all of the other kids had transitioned from their heavier flyerdragt to these lighter, two piece versions. Thinking it might encourage Calvin to go potty when he needs to, as he won't have to take the whole one piece suit off! I got a bite to eat at Lagekagehuset, my favorite bakery chain in town, and then did a quick walk through Aldi to see if there were any gems to be had. Every once in a while they surprise me with some random thing, like really nice yarn or gardening gloves. I also like to see the Trader Joe's branded food on the shelves. Reminds me of home.

Once home, I fixed myself some more food (I was starving) and got to work at my computer. Scott's also home and busy doing things. He picked up a poster of keyboard shortcuts for some program he uses at work. He said he's going to hang it next to the coffee machine for his team. And then he got all excited and decided to print out a personal one for himself, using our nice printer and some of my nice paper.

Work, eat, work, eat.

Work, eat, work, eat.

The uninterrupted work time went really quickly. It’s great to have to head space to be so productive. I do some more data wrangling, which honestly doesn’t get very far, and prep for our roadmap meeting on Friday.

Then Suddenly it was time to go pick up Calvin! I rode my bike this time so that I could bike with Calvin on the way down. The little guy is getting really fast on the route home, which has a slight decline, and I wanted to be able to keep up with him. I found Calvin on the playground with Lilli and Egon again. LillHe was much more amenable to leaving today, and seemed kind of tired. Had a quick chat with Natasha, who I hadn’t seen since the break. Sounded like he’d had a nice day playing, and had a big play session going with Holden and Egon earlier that included bikes and sand cakes. 

This is how I found Cal at bornehave.

This is how I found Cal at bornehave.

Sure enough, Calvin was a whirlwind biking down the hill, so we were home in about a second. I love living so close to his daycare. It’s incredibly convenient.

Opening his Easter card from Meema.

Opening his Easter card from Meema.

Checked the mail, and Calvin got an Easter card from his Meema. He was pretty excited to open “the book” up, and wanted me to read it to him a few times. Then he repeated what he could back to me: “Hope see you soon!” Sweeeeeet stuff. 

Cal had kept his “bukser” (pants) dry all day, so I gave him a pack of Smarties as a reward. YUM. I actually gave him two, and he gave one back to me to share. He’s done this before, and it’s definitely something he learned at bornehave. Love it.

Evening:

We were just starting on a puzzle when Scott came back from the grocery store. Scott and I unloaded together and started dinner while Calvin continued to play on his own. He got both puzzles together with zero help from us, which is pretty great! Note to self: Get a couple more puzzles for him. 

A few minutes later, Calvin announced that he needed to “lorte” (poop), and wanted his mama to help. We went up together, and… man! That guy takes forever to do his business. He sat and sat for the longest time. I finally left the room and told Calvin to call me when he was done, which he did 4 times, 3 of which were false alarms, so the 4th time I tried to physically remove him from the toilet. He didn’t like that, so I let him sit back down and left the room again. About a second later he announced that he was done and he meant it. Got him cleaned up, and guided over to wash his hands. Having just had him messing around for so long, I didn’t want any antics at the sink, so I washed his hands for him… in cold water! This made him really mad. So… yeah, we went back and forth on the issue for a while, even at one point calling up Papa to help, which Calvin did not like. Papa went back down to tend to dinner, I got Calvin finally back up to the sink and let him wash his hands on his own in warm water. PHEW. Took so long that dinner was ready when we were done!

Prepping dinner with Scott, pre poop saga with Cal!

Prepping dinner with Scott, pre poop saga with Cal!

Dinner was spaghetti, roasted broccoli and bread, although I don’t think anyone actually ate the bread. Scott made the sauce from “scratch”, which is a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, meat crumbles, onions and garlic and seasonings. It’s delicious and we should always do it this way instead of using the pre-seasoned kind out of a jar. The roasted broccoli was delicious. Next time I need to toss it in the olive oil more completely, but otherwise, yum! 

Lining up cars in a line is still a thing!

Lining up cars in a line is still a thing!

Scott and I had long chat about work after everyone was done eating while Calvin played… I really appreciate Scott’s insights into work. With two months left to go before taking a long leave, what lasting impact I have at MSP has been on my mind and weighing heavily. I haven’t done as much as I would have liked during my time there so far, so it’s going to be tough to leave. Just as a side note: I don’t remember my parents having long conversations like that. I’m sure that they did, but I just don’t remember it. It made me wonder if it would make an impression on Calvin at all. 

My finished rock mandalas. These are going in my bathroom.

My finished rock mandalas. These are going in my bathroom.

I left Cal and Scott at 18:30 to meet Melanie for Craftenhagen at the Humleby community house! Yay! She gets there a little early to set up, and I need to be there to let her in. We’ve been doing the Craftenhagen event here for half a year now, and it’s really nice. It’s a great space for it, and I really like that it means the event is literally a block away. It makes me obligated to go, there are no excuses. And it’s always really nice to be there anyway, so win-win! We painted mandalas on rocks tonight. Mine are going in our big jungle/plant themed bathroom, and I think they turned out lovely! Conversation tonight included discussing Charlotte’s job as a window dresser (really fascinating and so different from my own job!!), a lot about babies, maternity leave, healthcare in general here in Denmark, American politics, and how it’s hard to make doc and hair appointments as expats. It was a nice time, as usual!

When I got home, Scott was in the attic playing video games. Apparently Calvin had been really easy at bedtime, and had actually asked to go upstairs before it was technically time. In hindsight, he was pretty mellow this afternoon/evening and must have been tired all along. I got straight into bed, did some computing/writing and off to sleep!

[Week in the Life] Tuesday

CurrentlySparkling Allison

Morning:

Okay, back to our regular routine today, for the most part!

Calvin woke up having peed the bed outside of his diaper, and he was upset about it. He didn't want to, but we got him into the shower with me. I sat on the floor, and he sat on my lap. I tried to make it into a big, warm hug... And he relaxed after just a little bit. Was able to soap him up to get him all clean. Then he didn't want to get out! Count down from 10, and straight into papa's arms with a towel.

Calvin, dressed and peaking in on papa who was getting ready in the bathroom.

Calvin, dressed and peaking in on papa who was getting ready in the bathroom.

I love taking selfies in this mirror.

I love taking selfies in this mirror.

I finished showering, Scott got Calvin dressed. Cal and I went down to the bigger bathroom so I could do my hair and makeup. Calvin played with his bath toys.

While getting ready, Scott asked if I could switch and do pick up instead off drop off today. Works for me, but means I should hustle and get out of the house as soon as possible.

"Vaersgod!"

"Vaersgod!"

Then time for cereal. I eat a bowl, and then leave my two men to finish off their morning together. It's sad leaving them after such a great vacation time, but I'm also relieved. On my commute I feel almost giddy to be out in the world on my own!

Decided to take the bus, as biking is getting hard. It's cold (32 farenheit!) but really sunny. Happy that my puffy jacket still fits over the baby bump. And happy that I remembered my sunglasses.

Before going in my office building, I stopped at Netto to get some supplies for the day. Being pregnant means eating more often, and yogurt/fruit/juice has been my go to!

Netto run.

Netto run.

When I got into work, I had a little gift waiting on my desk. Two knitted baby hats from Mai-Britt! Super sweet of her. She was nearby, so I popped over to say thank you. One of my favorite things to do with baby clothes is overlay them on my belly! haha!

Side note: More than one person commented that my belly had grown over the break! And I definitely believe them. Feeling more "out there" than I had before... very, obviously, pregnant!

Afternoon:

It's a slow day at work, as people are either still on vacation, or laying low after returning from them. I'm doing work that puts a heavy load on our databases, so it's nice to have the place to myself! There are more resources for me!!

Crunching numbers.

Crunching numbers.

I had a really nice chat over coffee with Bjarke. We're "leadership buddies", but also just becoming friends. I really appreciate his perspective on work, and his methodical style of leadership. It doesn't match my style at all, and I think we like that about our relationship. We also chatted about family. His dad is living with cancer, and he had a brother die when he was young. Aaand, he has a 2-year-old. So, we have some commonalities and it's nice to share stories.

Lunch was with some of the other leads. The talk was all about babies and maternity/paternity leave, as both me and Julie are pregnant! I balk a little when the Danes complain about their leave system, which is admittedly complicated and unbalanced, skewing towards the mother. By comparison with the states, however... yeah. I'm really looking forward to my 12 months off to bond with this next little guy! I think it's going to be great for our family.

Calvin doing his thing at bornehave!

Calvin doing his thing at bornehave!

Just after lunch I got a notification on my phone from Bag Elefanterne, saying there were new photos up for the day! I love getting this notification, and always go and look. There's something so special about Calvin forging his own life at bornehave, day after day. I wish I could be a fly on the wall there.

Spent the rest of the afternoon wrangling data, reading work-related articles that I'd bookmarked during vacation, and generally taking it easy.

I left at 3:30pm to allow for enough time on the metro to pick up Calvin. I always cringe at leaving so early, even though I make up the time elsewhere. Today I shouldn't have felt so sheepish, as I ran into my boss on the elevator, who was also on his way out the door. Denmark is awesome like that.

I took a different route on the way home, opting for the metro to Fredriksberg Center and then the bus, which gets me closer to Calvin's bornehave than the but-to-bus connection. (It also lets me walk through the elephant gates at Carlsberg.) 

Oooooops!

Oooooops!

I was stopped by the ticket officers one stop away from FBC, and asked to see my ticket, when I discovered that I actually hadn't bought one! Oooops! I got on at DR Byen, which is in between zones 1 and 3. I'm guessing that when I hit the "buy" button for my ticket, it didn't go through because I first needed to choose a zone or starting destination. The officer was nice, and timely (he got my info and issued me the ticket before I had to get off) and told me that I should just tell customer service what had happened. I will definitely be doing that to try to save myself 750 DKK (about $120)!

Love saying hi to the elephants on this route home!

Love saying hi to the elephants on this route home!

Evening:

Calvin was outside for pick up, already in his flyverdragt (flight suit, aka snowsuit), which was nice! He was playing with Egon, loading sand and gravel onto the slide. Then Egon would slide down, pushing all of the sand off, and they'd do it again!

I had a nice chat with Alina, the new assistant in Calvin's group. She said that Calvin had a good day, but did have two accidents. I wasn't surprised, seeing as it was the first day back after a long vacation, and Calvin's a bit out of practice of the bornehave routine. Alina also mentioned that Calvin is really social, and cares about the other kids... I totally agree with her assessment. He's a nice guy and really liked by his classmates. It's is going to make him a great big brother! 

Calvin, loading the slide with sand, waiting for Egon to come and knock it off.

Calvin, loading the slide with sand, waiting for Egon to come and knock it off.

Seriously blue sky today, but cold!

Seriously blue sky today, but cold!

We stopped by Fotex on the way home to pick up the package I had waiting for me from GAP. Calvin rode his bike, and I hustled along behind him as best I could. He was great at stopping at corners and streets to look for cars, and often exclaimed when reaching them and stopping successfully, "Calvin did it!" We'd had a couple of tense moments this weekend, where we weren't sure if he was going to stop, so it was a relief and really great that he got the message.

We got cookies at Fotex, then picked up some random groceries: peas (the season for fresh, in the shell peas is just beginning!), blueberries, hair mousse, tortillas. Calvin noshed on his cookie and held onto the basket, while I guided him around the store. On our way out, we stopped at the Post area and got the package. The ride home was uneventful... Calvin stopped when he should, and also avoided the "slanger" (snakes), which I figured out were the lines painted on the parking lot.

At home, discovered that Calvin had another accident, either on our trip or before that at bornehave. Helped him take off his wet stuff and started a load of laundry while he went upstairs by himself to get new underwear. "Just underwear, mama?" he called down to me. "Sure, buddy" I responded... funny because if I told him no, he needed to also wear pants, he'd just refuse anyway! He loves running around in just his undies and a t-shirt... even when it's cold in the house.

We spent the next hour and half with Calvin telling stories about his day, opening the GAP package (he wanted his new pajamas and new shirt both on over what he was already wearing), making a video of Calvin doing "fast" moves, spilling milk and running in circles around the main floor (Calvin, not me)! By the time Scott got home at 6pm, I was beat, and a little annoyed that Scott had taken so long! I hadn't realized that his late call was going to keep him so late. Hangry? It was definitely dinner time!

Not my first opportunity to explain that there's no crying over spilled milk.

Not my first opportunity to explain that there's no crying over spilled milk.

Dinner was simple: veggie hot dogs for me/Cal, sausages for Scott, reheated mashed potatoes from this weekend, fresh peas, a can of Gestus peaches (my favorite). Easy enough.

Cal didn't want to come to the dinner table again, this time because he was "fixing his chair". He had his tools out, and was lying underneath his chair working on something. Told him to join us as soon as it was fixed, and it only took him a minute to wrap up. Then he was happy to eat his hot dogs and a few peas. I still stress about his eating, but definitely not as much as I have in the past. Seems like the fight around it is fading, in large part because we typically include things he will eat in our meals. Whatever works.

The makings of dinner.

The makings of dinner.

Chair maintenance.

Chair maintenance.

Scott said he wanted to do bedtime, even though technically it's his "night off". (We each take a day during the week, Scott usually Mondays and me Tuesdays, but this week we're shifted because of the holiday and Craftenhagen tomorrow.) I was grateful that he offered, and relieved! We cleaned up dinner, and then it was time for Cal to go up! I retreated to the office to check on the jobs I'd queued up before leaving work earlier, and to process photos from the day.

Scott came down after Cal was asleep, dressed and ready to go climbing. I thought his shirt was inside out, but he told me that it was just so worn that it's hard to tell! He told me about how when he recently was in Seattle, he met up with his old climbing buddies, who laughed at him because he was wearing the same shirt that he used to wear climbing with them 3 years before. Haha. He gets full use out of his clothing!

A peed bed, a peed flyerdragt and three peeds outfits meant a couple of loads of laundry tonight, bringing the week's total (so far) to 5!

[Week in the Life] Monday

CurrentlySparkling Allison2 Comments

Morning:

Woke up around 8! A nice way to start our last day of Easter vacation. Calvin had a rough night, requiring either me or Scott to be with him because of a dragon and her baby in the room. We moved a couch out of his room yesterday, so the change in his room might have been scary for him. 

I love the morning light in our bedroom.

I love the morning light in our bedroom.

Scott and I got to snuggle for a little while after waking up, while Calvin played and talked about the dragon, and then became a bat. One fun thing... Calvin interrupted his own play to go to the bathroom by himself! Hearing the tinkle and the flush is so rewarding!! He then took his "sove diaper" off by himself, and put his underwear back on. Big guy!

Breakfast was cereal. Our usual. Keeping it simple, since we are going to brunch in a few hours and then on to Tivoli. Cal couldn't wait to eat though, and neither could I!

Now I'm doing laundry in preparation for the week ahead. Calvin is playing by himself in the living and dining room. And Scott is fixing the basket on his bike that I broke yesterday!

3 loads today.

3 loads today.

Side note:

Luke bit Calvin after Calvin touched him while Luke was scratching himself. Although there was no blood drawn, it scared Calvin and he started to cry. Luke sulked of into the other room. Took a while to calm Calvin, and then helped him get an apology from Luke. Feeling it for both of them! It's hard.

Luke love.

Luke love.

Afternoon:

We went to brunch at Cafe Vand og Brød. Calvin really likes the little toy box there. It's really nice to let him play while we eat, drink coffee and chat. Everyone indulged in the bacon, and their kanelsnegl was nice and crispy. 

Cafe Vand og Brod is one of our faves!

Cafe Vand og Brod is one of our faves!

Then we were off to Tivoli. I'm ready for this vacation to be over, but am happy we're finishing strong with a visit here. It's our first of hopefully many this season. And really fun to be here with it decorated for Easter. Calvin and Scott are going on rides together while I hang around, watching and relaxing. Scott does such an awesome job encouraging Calvin to try challenging rides... He knows exactly what's too much, and what Cal can handle. I love him very much for that. If it were up to me, Calvin would live out his life it in a hermetically sealed bubble! Calvin's biggest ride today was Odinekspressen, the train roller coaster that goes 37 mph! And he was totally great. He didn't love it and get all excited and bubbly about it... but he also didn't hate it. When he got off, he seemed to be in his observation mode. Kind of like, "huh..."

It was cold, but Spring flowers are out at Tivoli!

It was cold, but Spring flowers are out at Tivoli!

We spent about an hour and a half at Tivoli, before it was too cold to continue, and Cal was seeming tired. So, we biked home. I popped over to Fotex to try to pick up a package, but they were closed for the holiday. (I should have expected!) The rest of the afternoon was crafting for me and movie watching/video games for Scott and Cal.

Quick jaunt to Fotex, only to find it was closed for the holiday!

Quick jaunt to Fotex, only to find it was closed for the holiday!

"Crafting"

"Crafting"

Evening:

Cal and I had about 15 minutes of tickle time on the love pod after he was done watching Netflix. I was pretending to try to eat his neck, which got some huge giggles. He tried to do the same back to me, which, honestly, totally got me ticklish and laughing as well. Fun dude.

I pulled dinner together while Scott and Calvin played in the living room. Scott was helping put a wheel back on one of Calvin's cars. We had leftover risotto, asparagus and frikadella. Calvin refused to eat until we were putting everything away, and then freaked out and insisted on a tortilla (which he calls "quesadillas"). Evenings can be tough with Cal, as he's hungry and getting tired!

Dinner prep.

Dinner prep.

Scott asked me at dinner if I would put Calvin to bed, and I kind of "harumphed" and made a face. His response: "He's your son." Ha! Way to call me on it, Scott. I've never liked bedtime. Tonight, in particular, I was instantly dreading having to wrangle Calvin to brush his teeth, get him in his diaper and get him settled for reading books! It can be exhausting, and I'm pregnant! I agreed to do bedtime anyway. Scott helped me get Calvin ready, so it was all very easy and a nice compromise on Scott's part.

Diaper on the head is now a thing.

Diaper on the head is now a thing.

We set the light to dim for 10 or 30 minutes, depending on Calvin's mood and state each night. Tonight was a 30 minute night, as he needed some extra time to wind down. Calvin wanted to read Richard Scarry's "Best Word Book Ever", which really is the best word book ever. We did a mix of me reading the words to Calvin, or me quizzing Calvin to see if he could point things out, and Calvin describing the pictures to me. It was cool to hear him describe some of the "things we do" section, like "jump over", and identifying more obscure animals really easily, like camels!

Really, truly, the best word book ever.

Really, truly, the best word book ever.

Once the light was sufficiently dim, I told Cal he could stay in my lap on the chair for 5 more minutes, or he could get into bed. He chose to go straight to bed. (And kind of broke my heart.) I pulled the chair over to sit by his bedside, and we held hands until he fell asleep. The hand-holding is our usual routine, but so sweet. I might not want to do bedtime every night, but I love it when I do.

After bedtime... ice cream, right away! It's our last night of vacation, and why not top it off with that?! I scooped myself a bowl, topped it with Hershey's chocolate sauce (which we recently discovered is available in Fotex), and sat down at my computer to process photos of the day.

Side note:

Calvin woke up with a nightmare about 45 minutes after he fell asleep. Poor guy... took him a while to calm down. His nightmares started around the age of 2 and have continued on and off. He sits up and screams and shakes. There's not much you can do but wait them out with him, as he's not really awake and can't really be soothed. I always hold and rock him anyway. I tell him "mama's here" and try to tell him that it's okay. Once he's out of them, he's immediately back in a deep sleep, which is always really jarring. He goes from freaking out to conked out sleep in 2 seconds flat. It's always a relief though!

[Currently] December 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Star Wars in honor of Carrie Fisher. It's been a sad year of celebrity deaths. Each one leaves me grappling with the fact that as I grow older, loss is inevitable. Hold tight to what you have now.

Anticipating: Travel to the states the first week of February! My sisters both went home to Utah for Christmas, and I've been insanely jealous. We didn't want to travel over the holidays though. It's a nice, cozy time to be in Copenhagen and holiday travel is insanity. We opted to go in February instead, which is one of the worst months to be in Copenhagen. It's relentlessly dreary and depressing from now until mid-March, I would say. So it'll be great to leave for a portion of that.) I'm already writing a list of American comforts that I don't want to forget to do or buy. E.g. Lynn Wilson Burritos!

Listening/Reading: The Idea Driven Organization by Alan Robinson, as part of my work book club. Also, Jonathan Safran Foer's Here I Am. Foer is one of my favorite authors, and he's coming to Copenhagen in February. Unfortunately it overlaps with my trip to the states, so I'm going to miss him! Still inspired to read his latest book.

Eating/Drinking: Not a whole lot. We were all hit with a stomach virus the week before Christmas, and it really knocked me out. I was out of work for 4 days. I almost passed out on my bike. And it's taken a long time to get my appetite back. I've been craving American comfort food in a major way (ahem, Lynn Wilson Burritos!) -- there really isn't a replacement for what I'm craving here in Copenhagen. No restaurants stick out to me as my favorites, no food sticks out to me, no candy even! February can't come soon enough.

Working On: An LTV model for work. Might not sound like a lot, but it's an important project that I'm excited about! :)

Loving: My new (fake) fur ear muffs! I got them for Christmas from Scott, who found them on my wishlist... They're one of those things that I would never buy for myself, so I was really happy that he chose them for me.

Playing: Fairway Solitaire Blast by Big Fish Games. I really liked their original Fairway Solitaire, and for whatever reason looked it up again the other day to find that they had a sequel. It's super addicting and fun!

Happy: This is the last month of "happy" as a category here, as it's been part of my One Little Word project for 2016.

I am happy to have had a nice holiday. We handled it really well, sickness and all, by just relaxing, doing what we could when we could, taking it all as it came. For example, we bought a little Christmas tree, which ended up just having lights and 8 Hama bead ornaments that I made for it one evening. It was very bare bones, but all we could muster!! The holidays are about other things anyway, and I think we took that to heart in a good way this year.

[Currently] November 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Call the Midwife. I had this on repeat in August, and then thought the series ended after a certain character left show. I just didn't check Netflix to see if there were more, until Netflix sent me an email saying Season 4 was just updated. I hadn't yet seen Season 3! So, I'm back to it now.

Anticipating: The election results... tomorrow! #I'mWithHer! Let's get this over with already, for f*cks sake.

Listening/Reading: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. Again for our book club at work, which has really kept me on track for reading this year! I'm also reading a book about potty training... yes, we need to do that. 

Eating/Drinking: Left over Halloween candy. We had another awesome year... We invited some friends over, who have boys a few years older than Calvin. All three went out Trick or Treating, and Calvin had an amazing time wandering around. He was just in awe that he was able to be outside in the dark. So much so that fell multiple times, one of which he toppled his bucket of candy into the street. (One of the boys gave him a big handful of his candy to make up for it. Sweet, sweet stuff.) When they got home, Calvin seemed stunned, but also very happy, that he could just EAT the candy he had in his bucket.

The night made me feel completely American, and I really loved that Calvin could have the same kind of experience that I had growing up. Heart full.

Working On: Christmas prep. My goal is to have all Christmas presents purchased by the first of December, so that I can then focus on celebrating by relaxing, making food, and soaking up all of the decorations.

Loving: My new DriveNow membership! I got a Danish driver's license a few months back, and promptly signed up for DriveNow -- a service where you pay per minute. The cars are parked where ever, and it seems are always within a 5 minute walk from our house. I used on one Saturday to run some errands, and the efficiency a car provides is just nice to have sometimes. I really like our car-free lifestyle, biking to work (even in the currently frigid temps), but I couldn't do it without letting myself splurge on renting a car or taking a taxi every once in a while.

Playing: The New York Times' Daily Mini Crossword. I completed today's crossword in 30 seconds! I think that's my fastest time ever. I'm more typically in the 1-3 minute range. I love it. 

Happy: Scott's out of town this week, then he's home for 2 weeks, then he's gone for 2 weeks. In prepping for him to be away this first time, Scott pointed out how uncomfortable and unhappy I am when I'm left alone with Calvin. And it is true. I dread it. Scott keeps our house in order in so many small ways, that I just know when he leaves, all hell is going to break loose. I guess I'm posting this as a "happiness demerit", in the vein of the Happier podcast. It's something I'm working on! And luckily, have 3 solid weeks this month for practice.

[Currently] September 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Modern Family. It's a little bit of a guilty pleasure, but it makes me laugh out loud at least once an episode. 

Anticipating: The holidays. We had such an epic time last year, with so many visitors over the holidays, that I'm a little worried this year will disappoint. So, I might be starting my planning a little early! We're having friends over for Halloween (which is on a week night, so nothing too crazy). Thanksgiving... is up in the air in terms of which American Expat will be hosting. Not us. Christmas, we'll be in town because Copenhagen is lovely during Christmas time. We're thinking that this year we'll have a bigger Solstice Dinner, like we used to do in Seattle.

Listening/Reading: Torch by Cheryl Strayed. Re-reading Delivering Happiness, the book by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh for our book club at work.

Eating/Drinking: My work is moving offices in November, and the number one thing people are excited about is lunch at a new cantina. (Note: Danes call their shared eating areas "kantine"... pronounced like the Spanish "cantina". It's confusing... but what would you call this in the US? The lunchroom?) I don't have a huge problem with our current lunch situation because I eat the same thing every day: 2 hard boiled eggs, a big dollop of hummus, rugbrod and butter, and piles of veggies. 

Working On: Scott and I took two car loads of junk to the recycling center this weekend, and it was awesome. 

Loving: H&M Home Black Fig scented candle. YUM... while daytime temps in September have been outrageously warm, it gets nippy at night, which means hygge, candles and snuggling. Scented candles make this routine all the better.

Playing: Our neighborhood got a trampoline! Cal and I tried it this morning... it took him a long while to warm up to it, but by the end I could not get him to leave. We walked out with him screaming... will definitely be back there soon!

Happy: I've been crocheting a lot lately, which is a happy thing. It's meditative and productive... my latest project is a yellow and white color blocked blanket made out of a lovely cotton. It's really simple... just single crocheting back and forth, but the colors and texture are turning out really nice.

[Currently] August 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Nothing. We finished Person of Interest! We succeeded at not binge watching the show through its 5 total seasons by limiting ourselves to 2 episodes per sitting. Interestingly, the last season of it aired just a month ago, so we kept pace really nicely to end it as it was ending "in real life". I did NOT successfully NOT binge watch House of Cards, and am caught up with all of that series as well. I also did NOT successfully NOT binge watch Orange Is the New Black, and am caught up with that series as well. What now?!

Anticipating: I'm going to Cologne, Germany for a conference for work and am excited, both for the conference and for the opportunity to sleep in a little!

Listening/Reading: I have a lot of books that I'm part way through right now. I'm listening to Hillbilly Elegy on my commutes, a book that Scott bought on our shared Audible account that I thought looked interesting. I'm also reading It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens for our book club at work. My happiness related books right now are How to Have a Good Day and This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live. So, yeah.

Eating/Drinking: I just want to gloat here that I have our meals planned through October. The plan is a rough sketch, of course, and will likely change a lot as our schedule is always changing. Nonetheless, I have a baseline of meals to work from and it feels good! As a reminder, I'm not much of a chef and I don't love cooking, but there's something fundamental about feeding my family that I really enjoy. The planning is a big part of why I like it (I just like planning), as is the feeling at the beginning of the week, knowing that as things get hectic, at least the food is under control. Now if I could only feel the same about laundry. Hm!

Working On: I'm writing up workouts to take with me to the gym. I wanted to start lifting weights, something I really enjoyed doing in high school when I played competitive sports, so I joined a gym that is on my way home from work. I think it'd be a good addition to my regular biking... which is also my commute and I often take it quite leisurely, so I'm not sure if it should count as a workout or not! 

Loving: Min hombre. He's great.

Playing: Calvin got a couple of new sets of Lego Duplo for his birthday, and it totally renewed his interest in them. So, we're down on the floor playing with Lego most mornings and evenings. Calvin surprised me and Scott by starting to build things according to the constructions he saw on the box of his new Spiderman set. So, we're starting to seed him with pictures of other constructions for him to copy and get inspiration from... it's like his imagination exploded (again), it's so awesome.

Happy: The days are getting cooler, and I'm remembering how much I really love this time of year. Kids are starting back to school. I'm making plans, as reassessing routines. I'm stealing Scott's socks more often. It's happy times.

[Currently] May 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: This is hilarious. Thanks, Heather.

Anticipating: A play date! The mom of one of Calvin's buddies at bornehave asked if they could take Calvin home for a play date one evening next week. Um... yes! YAY! Cal recently transitioned from vuggestue (1 to 3 years old) to bornehave (3 to 6 years old), and is doing really, really well in it. More than ever he looks forward to going in the morning, his friends are excited to see him when he arrives and then he doesn't want to come home in the evening. It's so great.

Listening/Reading: How Proust Can Change Your Life, as recommended by Gretchen Rubin, my happiness guru. I've been trying to stick to books on the theme of happiness, without getting too self-helpy, and this one fit the bill exactly. I'm also most of the way through How to Have a Good Day, which is focused on happiness at work. The book club that I started at work is reading Enchantment this month, which is ironically about similar themes, but I'm less enchanted with it. 

Eating/Drinking: Scott and I went to our favorite cocktail bar last night called Curfew. It is such a gem! The atmosphere is art deco, 1920's, fancy, speakeasy and the cocktails are classic with creative twists. I had "The Brooklyn" which is a take on a Manhattan, but with raisin bitters and something else that made it more woody tasting. Delicious.

Working On:  A big, huge project at work has me occupied and I'm really, really happy with it. The three months of building the case for it, prepping for it and thinking about it is finally coming to fruition and it is so far, so good.

Loving: My Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe. I threw a fit and took 3/4th of my closet downstairs in an attempt to dress more effortlessly. Here's what remained at the end of it (or at least a representation of it... I don't have all of these exact items). I've been using the Polyvore app on my phone to make up outfits, and am snapping a picture of myself every day. It is seriously fun.

I've learned that there are a lot of opinions on how to build a capsule wardrobes... including hard and fast rules for the number of items. I set out trying to keep my total under 35, and really easily ended up with 30 pieces. I'm not including accessories or shoes, when others include them in this count. My accessories and shoes are very limited anyway, so it didn't make sense for me to exclude some of them to stay at a particular number of items. My goal is to use this set of clothes through September, when I'll revisit for Fall/Winter.

Playing: Bejeweled Stars. Aaaah, PopCap made a Bejeweled version that really beautifully combines popular game mechanics like collections and sagas. It's wonderful. *swoon*

Happy: (Note: This is a new category to go along with my One Little Word project for the year.)

I'd say I'm feeling pretty happy these days... I think about "happy" being my word and intention a lot. It's just a nice thing to have in the back of your head. My reading helps to keep it fresh in my mind, and to also give me some ideas for habits or lifestyle changes to incorporate. I've only partly been keeping up with Ali Edwards' class prompts, but recently made this collage to include in my album. Doing it made me feel like I was 13 years old, which was a happiness boost in and of itself.

[Currently] February 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: We're still working our way through Person of Interest. We're on Season 3 and a significant character was just killed off only halfway through the season! OH MY! It's good stuff.

Anticipating: Our US trip in March. It feels very significant. One week with just me and Calvin at home while Scott goes to Montreal. Then Calvin and I fly solo to SLC for a week, while Scott is in San Francisco for GDC. Then the whole fam-damily is meeting up in San Diego for a week (including my siblings and parents). Then a week in Seattle to see old friends and add fuel to any lingering homesickness. 

Listening/Reading: I did indeed move to audiobooks from podcasts for my daily commute this month, starting with The Bees by Laline Paull. I really liked how the story extended across multiple days. I'd arrive at work and have to turn the book off just as something was happening, making my 20 minute commute home something I was excited to get to!

Eating/Drinking: Direct quote from Scott about my recent cooking ventures: "You're on a roll, girlfriend." :) Recent hits have been: vegetable quiche, browned butter risotto with brussel sprouts, and coconut curry soup. Delicious.

Working On: Ironing clothes that have been hanging in my closet, unironed over the Winter. They're all lighter, flowy tops that I would not have worn in the Winter anyway. Seems I may be unconsciously preparing for Spring and better weather by preparing my wardrobe.

Loving: Hama or perl beads! I bought a set of them to make coasters. They are a huge throwback to my teens and tons of fun. Gretchin Ruben recently recommended thinking of things you liked to do when you were 10 to help come up with hobbies to do as an adult. These definitely fit that bill!

Playing: MovieStarPlanet. I made my first movie using its Movie Studio and was very impressed... it also won a challenge we had at work to make a movie based on a fairytale! You can see it here.

(Note: This is a new category to go along with my One Little Word project for the year.) 

Happy: I've committed to flossing my teeth every day this month. I know... adult stuff. This was motivated by Ali Edwwards' One Little Word prompt for the month for building habits, but also harped on in both The Happiness Advantage (a book I read this month, which had been deep in my Audible archives and never listened to) and Gretchin Ruben's podcast Happier. Gretchin calls herself a "happiness bully", and that's how I felt after getting Ali's prompt but initially ignoring it, only to have two other sources drive the point home. So I'm going to do something very achievable, very easy. 

January Books

Sparkling Allison

I got a huge jump on my 2016 reading goal this month, in part by wrapping up some books that I actually started in December. Here's the selection and my picks.

Favorite Book: A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

I read this after devouring his other novel My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, which was just magnificent. A Man Called Ove was similar in tone and themes, but the story was quite different. Beautifully done.

Least Favorite: Mama Tried by Emily Flake

This is supposed to be a humorous book about parenthood, but it missed the mark with me, mostly because it seemed geared towards very new parents as opposed to someone with a toddler. I may have felt differently about the book if I'd read it while breastfeeding, but reading it today it felt ham-fisted.

Honorable Mention: Superhuman Social Skills by Tynan

I took exactly one thing away from this book, and it's the idea that you should "bring something to the party". That thing isn't an actual thing, like wine or flowers, which you should also bring... That thing is something that brings value to your social circle. The idea is to be an active participant by bringing interesting conversation topics, or hosting fun events or whatever suits you, which increases your social value and helps to expand your circle. It's a little thing, but as an introvert it is something I need to keep in the back of my head.

[Currently] January 2016

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Scott and I watched Postman Pat: The Movie with Calvin tonight. We try to do a movie night each weekend, but got off schedule for the holidays. It was fun to get back to it tonight, with popcorn and all. To find age appropriate movies, I scour Common Sense Media and have found them to good. I look at movies for ages 2 through 4, as I think they err a little conservative. Postman Pat kept Calvin's attention, and had enough adult quips to keep Scott and I from wandering too much.

Anticipating: Spring! It's way too early to have Spring on my mind, but I was given some free tulips from a flower vendor on Friday (he was closing) and they've been on my kitchen table beaconing warmer weather all weekend. Copenhagen's winter frigidity will not be deterred by a precocious bunch of tulips, however. This week's highs will be hovering around freezing.

Listening/Reading: I added a new podcast to my playlist this week: Surprisingly Awesome. Heather recommended it, I believe, and with my new 25-minute bike commute I've finally had time to listen to a few episodes. I'm not quite sure if it's going to become a regular. It's good, but not great, and even though I have a lot of time to be listening to podcasts on my commute, I'm considering moving to audio books instead (supporting my goal of reading 36 books this year).

Eating/Drinking: I've successfully made two big meals on each of the last two weekends so that we can have leftovers during the work week. Yesterday I made black bean and butternut squash enchiladas. (I even made the enchilada sauce from scratch.) Today I made a big pot of cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpea curry with coconut rice. Delicious.

Working On: Work, I suppose! The first two weeks at my new job have been great. There's a lot of work to be done. And everyone is extremely nice.

Loving: Weekends. We had a particularly nice one this week.

Playing: Scott brought along one of our favorite card games, Lost Cities, on our last Friday date night. We had reservations for sushi at 7:45, giving us about an hour to kill beforehand, so we plunked ourselves down at a coffeeshop and played a couple of rounds. I won both. :) 

(Note: This is a new category to go along with my One Little Word project for the year.) 
Happy: I discovered a new babysitter option. A 13yo girl posted to our neighborhood Facebook group, saying that she was interested in picking up some babysitting hours. I think 13 is a little young to just throw her in the deep end with Calvin, so I invited her over to play with him while Scott and I did other things around the house. She was a huge hit. Calvin took to her immediately, and she had his full attention for a good 1.5 hours. The time was so productive that I finished everything I needed to do and then snuck upstairs to read. I'm looking forward to hiring her regularly!

2015 Year in Review

Sparkling Allison

I came across Caiti's post at Roots, Wings & Wanderings and loved the format of her year end review, so... copy/paste!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
I went on a trip with both of my sisters. We'd all traveled together separately in pairs, but never as the three of us. We did the wine route in South Africa, and it was super fun. I hope we can find an opportunity to do it again soon!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
The only resolution I made last year was to read 27 books, and I did that. For 2016, I want to wear earrings every day. And I upped the number of books I want to read to 36, which is 3 a month.

Scott and I have also vowed to go to IKEA exactly 0 times this year. We need to get better at shopping in Copenhagen, as odd as that may sound.

3. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
I'm doing Ali Edward's "One Little Word" class this year, and chose the word HAPPY, because who doesn't want to be more happy in their life? I'm not saying that I didn't have happiness in 2015, I just want more of it in 2016. :)

4. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 20th: Sister trip in South Africa.
March 3rd: My trip to the GDC conference in March was the last time I was in the mother country.
May 22nd: Parents arrive! They were our first visitors of many throughout the year. Oh, this was also the same day that I gave a presentation without my slides.
August 3rd: Our Danish road trip begins, with little sister Lou in tow.
September 9th: I turned 35, tipping over into the upper 30's, and am now part of the 35-44 bracket on surveys.
October 1st: The day my 3 months of severance began after being laid off from work.
November 27th: The day I accepted the offer for my new job. 
December 25th: Our first Christmas where Calvin understood the concept of opening gifts.

5. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Securing a new job was a significant achievement, and I'm proud of the way I handled being #funemployed. 

6. What was your biggest failure?
I don't really think of it as a failure, but I'm not proud of all of the work travel I did throughout the year. It felt very disconnected, and after being laid off, it felt like a huge waste of time. One moment when it really hit me how distracted I'd been was when Calvin's vuggestue closed. It was unexpected for us, although the vuggestue said they'd been telling everyone of their financial troubles for some time. There were many other parents who also didn't get the memo and who were also very upset, but regardless it made me realize that I'd been out of the loop when I could have been more engaged.

7. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Lots and lots of viruses were passed on to me by Calvin throughout the year. He's a germ infested little thing, and there were definitely periods of 2015 where I felt like the runny noses were never going to end. Nothing significant though, and I'm grateful for that.

8. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a new bike this year and it's awesome! I'd been commuting on my rusty, pink, tank of a bike, which had started to feel unsafe, especially when carrying my special cargo in the kid seat on back. My new bike is... aaaah, luxury. I can keep up with Scott now without any complaint (although I'm pretty sure he still rides slowly for me) and I'm confident cruising along through mud and muck if needed. I have a 20 minute bike commute to my new job, and I'm so happy to have my new bike to do it with!

9. Where did most of your money go?
Investments/savings. We own our condo back in Seattle, and I classify our spending on it as an investment. So, if you include that with what we put away for Calvin's college, our retirement and short term savings... that's probably the majority of our money right there.

We bought a couch and we moved, which were big expenses. And we traveled. We also paid taxes.

10. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My parents sent a message to our family over WhatsApp, suggesting that we all meet in San Diego sometime. Much to my surprise, everyone got on board with the idea, and we've scheduled a trip for this coming March. It'll be a full year since I've been in the states, and I. AM. EXCITED.

11. What songs will always remind you of 2015?
The entire Parenthood soundtrack will remind me of 2015. The show ended in January 2015, and while in mourning for it, I listened to the soundtrack on repeat for months and months.

15. Did you make any new friendships?
Yes, many. I've already noted that my #funemployment was a really social time for me, and I finally feel like I have some friends here in Copenhagen. I still need to work at it, as I'm not a naturally friendly person, but I have some good momentum right now.

16. Did you go on vacation?
Yes! We started the year by wrapping up a trip to Utah, I went to South Africa with my sisters, we took a road trip around Denmark in the summer, and then we had a surprise 2 week vacation to Singapore. 

17. What do you wish you had done (more and less) of?
More: Celebrations, physical activity, photo taking.
Less: Visits to IKEA, Facebook, Nutella.

18. How did you spend the holidays?
We had the most glorious period of holidays and visitors over the last three months, so I'm going to include Halloween in "the holidays".
October: Halloween and Scott's dad, his partner and his brother. We spent the evening opening our door to over 130 trick or treaters.
November: Thanksgiving and Adrienne/Ajay. We hosted Thanksgiving for all of the American expats we know, plus some Danes and other hooligans. In all there were over 25 people in our little house, and the last guests left after the last American football game ended at 2am local time.
December: Christmas and Heather. We had a whirlwind 2 weeks of everything Christmas while Heather was here, including pre and post shopping, visiting the Christmas markets, drinking glogg, making sugar cookies, opening presents, singing Christmas songs, celebrating the Solstice. It was lovely.

19.  What new food did you discover?
Roasted potatoes are a new specialty of mine. Toss them with dried ranch dressing mix and some olive oil, and delicious. I cooked a lot this year, and have really enjoyed it. I like to say that I enjoy cooking when it's not an obligation, and I'm finding ways to enjoy it even when it is.

20. What was your favorite TV program?
Scott and I have been watching Person of Interest, and I think it's been my favorite over the year. I am also re-watching 90210, which is just... cringe-worthly, but awesome.

21.  What was one of your favorite experiences of the year?
#funemployment. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic for it because I'm starting my new job tomorrow, but it was a really, really nice time.

22. What did you want and get?
My new bike was something I'd been wanting for some time.

23. What did you want and not get?
A particular apartment in Copenhagen K. We made a verbal agreement with the landlord, who backed out on us the next day. It led to us getting the house we're currently renting though, so it turned out to be a major win for the year (and actually, for the next 3 years of our lease).

22. What was the best book you read? 
The Golem and the Jinni is my favorite after a year of reading really great fiction.

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I discovered Leon Bridges this year... I don't remember how. We also got to see him play live here in Copenhagen at the beautiful Vega music venue. Otherwise, Spotify's Discover playlist keeps the new music rolling in for me these days.

24. What was your favorite film of this year?
Mad Max. I didn't see many movies this year, but made a point to see Mad Max in the theaters. It's perfect for the big screen and big sound experience! I could have gone back to see it again.

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 in September while I was at a conference for work. While I was at that particular conference is exactly when my work situation started to disintegrate big time, so it wasn't the best week for me! I don't remember how/if I celebrated!

26. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Skinnies, flowy/oversized top, flats or boots. I used to be all about the cardigans, but I seem to be making a shift to single piece tops. I've also started wearing more dresses.

27. What kept you sane?
100% Scott, who keeps everything chill and copacetic.

28. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
I've been a little bit obsessed with Adele after she came back into the music world in a major way. I mean, good for her to disappear for a while to care for herself and her family and then come back with a crazy mega hit. She seems healthy and happy.

29. What political issue stirred you the most? 
I've been appalled at the gun control issues in the states, including everything from shootings of blacks by cops to mass shootings. It's just disgusting that we can't get a handle on guns in the United States, and one reason why I'm happily living abroad.

30. Who did you miss?
I miss SEATTLE PEOPLE. I am lucky to see at least one member of my family 2x a year or more, but Seattle people are farther in between.

32. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
The Konmari method! I read the book and then konmari'd the @!#$ out of our apartment before we moved in September. I love her entire philosophy, and think of it when I'm shopping, when I'm getting home and putting my scarf away, and when I'm doing laundry. It's a new part of my life and I really like it.

33. Share a quote or song lyric that sums up your year. 
When you're up you're up, and when you're down you're down, and when you're only halfway up you're neither up nor down.

 

Reviewing my 10 Commandments of Unemployment

Sparkling Allison

In the new year, I'll be starting a new job! It's exciting and I'm happy about it. In all, being unemployed was not terrible and thankfully it did not last very long. Before moving on to just regular old #employment, I thought I should review my 10 Commandments of Unemployment to see how I did.

1. Thou shalt get 13,000 steps per day on your FitBit. Yeah, no. I did not do this, but the idea of it did get me out walking on a number of occasions. So... win?

2. Thou shalt get a library card. It turns out that I already had a library card, as it's tied to the Danish CPR system. I love that. Check and check. The real intention of this goal was to actually go to a library though, and I did not do that. 

3. Thou shalt make social arrangements at least 2x per week. I pretty much did this, between coffee dates, guests staying with us, hosting dinners/Thanksgiving, going to parties, etc. It was nice, and overall a really social time for me. 

4. Thou shalt spend Monday mornings, and only Monday mornings, cleaning the house. I definitely didn't clean more often than 1x per week, which was the intention of this commandment. I was concerned that I would feel obligated to be cleaning all of the time, and (surprise!) I did not end up feeling obligated to clean all the time. I'm looking forward to hiring a cleaning person again. For real.

5. Thou shalt start a photo-a-day project called #funemployment. I pretty much did this... and it was fun getting back into Instagram.

6. Thou shalt wash your face and brush your teeth every morning and night. Did it, and started a new face regimen that includes exfoliating. Details you might not care about.

7. Thou shalt read a book a week. Definitely did this, and it's been great. I reached my reading goal of 27 books for the year (which is one every 2 weeks), and am thinking that next year I'll bump it up to 36 (or 3 a month). I got a Kindle for Christmas, so now I have a dedicated reading device, which I think will be really nice. I'm also considering getting an Audible subscription, as my new bike commute is going to be 20 minutes each way, giving me lots of time to listen/read.

8. Thou shalt share an interesting article on Twitter and LinkedIn 1x per day. I did this in the beginning of #funemployment, because I wanted to make sure I was popping up in people's feeds and top of mind. As I started to narrow in on a few opportunities that I was interested in, I didn't feel like I needed to do this as religiously. Nonetheless, a good habit to try to maintain even as I'm employed going forward. Maybe knocking it down to 1x per week.

9. Thou shalt actively show gratitude for the support of your family and friends. I hope I did this! In particular I hope I showed gratitude to Scott, who was an awesome sounding board as I weighed options and went through negotiations.

10. Thou shalt go to a museum on free admission day. Didn't do it! I did go to a few museums, I just did it on days where I had to pay admission. Had my #funemployment been longer, and pressure on finances been greater, this may have kicked in in the long term.

My sister (who is visiting for Christmas) is entering #funemployment at the moment, and is writing her own list of 10 Commandments for Unemployment. We've been talking a lot about what she might include. It's an interesting thought process, as you're setting goals for an indefinite period of time. Although I'm not the biggest goal setter, I really enjoyed having them and felt like they put a little structure to my time.

[Currently] December 2015

Sparkling Allison

Watching: Christmas movies! Or at least I'm planning to watch Christmas movies over the next week or so. I tried to introduce Calvin to The Polar Express, but the train was a little scary and the other parts couldn't keep his attention. I watched Arthur last night, but fell asleep. Others on my list are: The Snowman, A Christmas Story and Love Actually.

Anticipating: Christmas. Of course. Scott got into the Christmas spirit on Sunday, and said he needed to "run some errands". He came back with a bunch of packages and set to work wrapping them all. Some of the tags on them read: "To the fam. From Papa." Scott is also giving Calvin separate gifts from the ones that I'm giving him, and we each don't know what the other person is giving. I think it adds some extra fun for the gift opening, and I cannot wait for Christmas morning!

Listening/Reading: The "Best Books of 2015" lists have been coming out at various outlets like the New York Times and Goodreads. I have to say that in general I haven't been as inspired by the lists as I was last year, but there are a few gems on there that I've added to my reading list for the next few months. I started with, and completely loved, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. I loved it so much that now I'm devouring his other book, A Man Called Ove. His writing reminds me of Jonathan Safran Foer, one of my absolute favorite authors, who wrote Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Highly recommended.

Eating/Drinking: I made a vegetarian lasagna yesterday for our Solstice dinner (YAY FOR DAYS GETTING LONGER AGAIN!). We celebrated with two Heathers: my sister and a friend of mine from the MBA program who was passing through town. The lasagna turned out great, and I was reminded again how fulfilling it is to cook for people.

Working On: Buffing up my Tableau skills in preparation for my new job, which starts in January! I'm sad to be ending #funemployment, but also, you know, grateful for getting back to work.

Loving: Christmas in Copenhagen. We left town for Christmas last year, and I think that was a huge mistake! It's just so lovely here in Copenhagen this time of year. The markets, the lights, the hygge. This town really is built for December, and I'm happy to be here.

Playing: The card game that made Kickstarter history as the most backed campaign of all time, Exploding Kittens. Heather gave us a copy and it's silly fun, as I would expect from the guys behind The Oatmeal.

Portal Nesting Baskets

Sparkling Allison

A friend of ours had a Portal birthday party, and in a moment of inspiration I thought to make her some nesting baskets using colors coordinating with the theme.

Oh, and oh yeah, I bought a used sewing machine back in August. It'd been sitting on a shelf gathering dust until I forced myself to attend a meetup that I found on Facebook. There's a group of ladies that get together to sew every month or so, and for this meetup our project was these baskets. I actually didn't make anything at the event... performance anxiety, and so I let someone else use my machine who didn't have one. I learned a lot just by watching, and now I can't stop myself.

There's so much attention to detail needed when sewing... you really cannot zone out, or you will sew the lining in the wrong way. Yes, I did that 2x on this project. And an ironing machine is definitely required as well.

I'm not sure how far I'll pursue the craft, but it is really satisfying to be able to whip up something like this.

 

[Currently] November

Sparkling Allison

Watching: 90210. Yes, I'm re-watching it from the start, and as I'm doing it I'm having a ton of flashbacks to middle school. Episode 2 of the first season is when I discovered my true love, for example... aaaah, DYLAN.

Anticipating: Our trip to Singapore is fast approaching. We're going for the first two weeks of December, and while I'm sad to be missing some of the holiday festivities in Copenhagen, I'm also really excited for the nicer weather.

Listening/Reading: I fell off the reading wagon after trying to get through a book club pick that wasn't clicking with me. Instead I've been keeping up on my RSS feeds and the NY Times, both of which are less fulfilling but... yeah.

Eating/Drinking: Tonight I made a batch of apple cider bourbon drinks (1 part bourbon, 2 parts cider, 2 parts ginger ale over ice) that I wanted to test run for our Thanksgiving festivities. Definitely a winner, and planning on it as our signature cocktail.

Working On: Thanksgiving decorations. I made 40 leaves using my Silhouette, and plan to make a garland out of them for our dining room. I also really like just scattering them all over the place and adoring their colors. So gorgeous.

Loving: Sick Calvin. I got a call from the vuggestue yesterday to come and pick him up because he had a fever. This was totally expected after transferring to the new vuggestue with new germs. Calvin was 100% pathetic (we use the word pathetic very lovingly in our family, and we pronounce is "pah-te-tic") and it was really nice to be able to care for him with all of my attention.

Playing: Lego Duplo with Calvin. We discovered that we could make "aaaaair-paaaaanes" with them, and that is pretty much all we've done for the last 48 hours straight in this household.