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The apartment by the train

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Time has flown by and all of a sudden we’ve been Dubliners for six weeks. We’ve passed through the “settling in and buying bare essentials” phase and are now in the “Etsy-shopping for stuff to put on the walls and realizing we only own three different spices” phase. Today I actually bought dried basil without having a specific use for it in mind. I guess this means we’re not moving out any time soon!

It was with a heavy heart that I accepted the fact that we’d have to settle for a one-bedroom apartment this time and not get the two-beds I’d been hoping for. I can’t even imagine what it’ll be like to have an entire room to put toys and baby clothes in, and then to just shut the door and not find myself sitting on The Hungry Caterpillar when I can finally put my feet up in the evening.
But as it usually goes, after the first month the new unfamiliar place that still smells a bit strange has suddenly turned into your home that couldn’t feel more normal. Time heals, and saves money?

So this is our apartment by the train. At least that’s how I imagine we’ll refer to it in the future. It runs right by our building and only reminds us a few times every hour. It’s the topic of many of our conversations each day. And it has an almost magical influence on our daughter! It has the ability to draw away her attention from anything she could be doing, eating, playing, being changed or even crying. It instantly makes her forget time and place. There is only her.. and that train.

Usually I’ll hear it first, a faint building rumble in the distance. It gives me just enough of a head start to turn and watch my daughter’s eyes go blank, grow huge and dart to meet mine. Next will follow the almost unnoticed crash of whatever she dropped to the floor in astonishment. She’ll stick around only long enough to whisper, “toh, toh!” before she’ll run to the window and spend a few silent moments watching the green flash by. Finally she raises her hand, waves and says, “bye-bye” as the train disappears around the corner.

Many many times every day.

I mean, #childhoodunplugged suddenly got a lot more realistic!

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Bye-bye, train!

Time to pray

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We have a lot going on right now in our family and have a lot of decisions to make (It seems like we always do – is that ever gonna stop?). It’s one of those times in adult life when I have the sudden urge to call my parents and ask them to tell me what to do.

Just the other day I was sitting down for a quickly prepared lunch with our little girl and despite her reaching eagerly for the bread I tried to get her to settle down and fold her hands so I could say a prayer to bless the food. I kept it short and skipped through the words to try to finish before her patience would run out and the silence would end. And it made me wonder why I was doing it and if it really was worth it. Would she understand? Even if I thought prayer was important couldn’t I just wait and teach her when she was big enough to understand why?

I pondered that for a few days. The most obvious reason I guessed was that toddlers pick up on everything and learn from example. In just the last couple of weeks, mine has picked up on new words, brushing her hair out and for some reason she always knows when to wave goodbye even before we do or ask her to. All because she pays attention to everything we do! So obviously, if I want for prayer to be a part of her life, now is probably a good time to show her how to.

But I arrived at another conclusion as well – a maybe less obvious one. And it has to do with the reason that I pray myself. I’m sure there may be plenty of reasonable reasons why one should not pray. But one of my main reasons for kneeling down is the feeling that immediately fills the room when I do. Peace. ‘Peace’ is such a short and easily overlooked word. Let’s just take a minute and really think about what it means – especially in an everyday setting with things to do in every direction. A pleasant warm feeling that pushes out worry and stress. That one feeling that we all go our entire lives searching to keep with us.
And in that atmosphere I can shut the world out for a moment and focus on myself. What I’m grateful for and what I really need help with.

I love the person I become when I pray. I become humble and submissive. It becomes easier for me to forget my faults and my pride. And more than anything the things I think I need but maybe really don’t. It makes me feel kinder and full of love. It makes me want to keep praying. To pray for help so I can keep being that person when I open my eyes, stand up and get back to my day. To have that feeling of peace stay with me.

And to share that feeling with my family. My daughter.

That’s why.

If I can teach her anything in life it will be where to turn for peace.


 

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God – it changes me. – CS Lewis

Project cheap changing table

Baby is still not here, so project changing table is finished! And here is the grand result.

I can’t take too much credit for the design, as the only thing I’ve actually put together myself was the banner. It’s partially made from the same cloth as what my mom used to make the cover for the baby duvet in the crib. So I simply cut out triangles and sewed them onto a ribbon. Voilá! The actual changing pad is the cheapest I could find at IKEA. It actually has inflatable sides, but I thought it made it look too huge, so I folded under and taped them. I’ll need to unfold it again though when baby gets bigger. Instead of getting a cover I dug out a pretty cloth diaper I got for a baby shower gift and put over top. The basket is another baby shower souvenir that I just filled with diapers, wipes and salve. I want to get a pretty purple or green bowl to fill up with water for the wipes as well.

I did it! And I did it cheap!
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Baby, we are ready for you!

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I realize I still haven’t put up any pictures of our new apartment. Don’t worry, they’re coming. I just need to clean up a little first, so we’ll look as inhuman as we are definitely not.

This last week we’ve moved in. Though we’ve moved into new apartments five times in our marriage, this was the first time we were actually moving for three people. Baby has got her own bed, closet and shelf in the book case. It’s a really weird feeling waiting for a missing member of your family that you haven’t met yet. Even weirder feeling that that person is the moving bump that’s been kicking me the last few months.

But Baby, I know you said to plan on your arrival in 11 days… but Baby… we’re ready for you now!

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Denmark – idyllic even to a dane

photo (5)Being a dane abroad you get to meet a lot of people. And somehow you always seem to run into people who get excited when you tell them you’re from Denmark.

There’s the ones (the vast majority) that exclaim “Denmark?? No way!! That’s where my ancestors are from! Yes! My family is Danish! We have abelskeevers all the time!” – Cute. And hey! Good pronunciation!

Then there’s the next to largest group that immediately say “Oh Denmark is amazing! It’s so cute with the tulips and the wind mills!” – Bless them. Not much to say to that. … Then they turn to Marcus and say “Sweden looks beautiful too! I’ve always wanted to see the Alps!”

Then there’s the smallest group that seem so hard to find that you actually get as excited about them as they are about you. These are the people who have actually been to Denmark or at least have their facts straight. They may know about Hans Christian Andersen and his stories. They may know about Danish history and may express a desire to visit our medieval castles. They may comment on the Danish nature and even call it “idyllic” and “just like a fairytale”.

Well I’ve never given much thought to the fairytale part myself, but now that I’ve lived abroad for a year and have experienced coming back here.. I have to say Denmark has never seemed as idyllic or fairytalish to me as it does now.

I have taken the liberty to note down a few things that have really stood out to me.

Singing birds

So in Hawaii there were a lot of birds. A lot. And big too. My parents would often ask when we were Skyping whether we’d gotten a bird, because they could hear the big tropical birds just outside our window. So it’s not like we didn’t wake up to choirs of tweeting every morning this past year. But boy, when I came home. And I had to get up every two hours to go to the bathroom and opened my window to cool down the room… there is just nothing like the way birds sing at 4am here. Talk about the most peaceful happy sound you every heard! Like you’re right there walking through the forest with your favorite Disney princess.

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Fresh air

After 8 months in humid Hawaii and 2 months in dry dry Utah, the very first thought that came to my mind when I stepped out of the airport in Copenhagen was how it felt like I was breathing fresh air for the first time in almost a year. I don’t know what it is… maybe the fresh ocean breeze that you can’t escape anywhere in the country… or maybe a perfect balance of humidity.. or maybe just because this is where I grew up. I don’t know, but it is really quite amazing!

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Green

I’ve noticed how a lot of tourists in Denmark comment on how incredibly green it is here. My mom still talks about how beautiful she thinks Denmark is because of this. Growing up I always thought that just made Denmark boring, but after – yes, even after – living in beautiful lush paradise Hawaii I must admit that Denmark is quite beautiful. I can’t quite describe it, but it’s almost as if Hawaii was a wild kind of green and Denmark is more like the King’s gardens compared. And then enjoying it while breathing that fresh fresh air and listening to the birds in the background….!  Mmm!

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Food

Yes, I must bring this up as my last point. I’m sorry folks but Danish food is really the stuff. Oh and especially after being in the states! I thought it would be like Food Heaven in the US – but turned out I hadn’t tried living there yet. No matter what you say – no restaurant meal beats a homemade one made from scratch. It just doesn’t. High-five to Europe!

When people asked me as a kid whether I felt more Danish or American, I would usually answer American. In truth certain elements of the Danish culture do make me feel more American. I always expected and imagined I would get married and move away from here forever and not look back – and I was fine with that. But turns out I just missed being around reserved rough traditional danes that could never dream of uttering the word “whoop”. I have to say I am very surprised that I reacted this way as soon as I was gone.

I guess I love Denmark

 

A little balloon

photo (10)I’ve heard scary stories about pregnant women getting swollen ankles and feet, so I said to myself “not I!” and went online to see what I could do to prevent it from ever happening. Turns out the best thing I can do is to try to keep my feet up. You don’t have to say that twice! So here I am sitting with my feet up in our cool little kick-back chair about to put whatever odd thoughts that may come into my mind in writing, while my dear husband sleeps like a baby in the bedroom. I’ve had a bit of trouble falling asleep lately for some unknown reason – but I highly suspect that little person making my belly look like a popping bag of popcorn right now – and have, for that reason, decided to abstain from oversleeping during the day. Thus my husband now naps alone.

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Decorating for Christmas on a tight budget

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