She’s lying on her belly here on the couch next to me, staring me down. I guess she’s waiting for me to turn around and make a funny sound or something. At least right now she is. In a minuteshe’ll have rolled back on her back. Then she’ll get sad that her toys are so far away and she’ll crunch up and try to roll back to her tummy. And eventually she will and she’ll get that surprised look on her face, like she still can’t believe she can do that.
We just gave her an evening bath before bed time. She still really doesn’t like the water, but we’re trying our best to go slow and take our time to play with her and splash around. We’re also still working on car rides. Really hope she gets over that one soon.
Those are however just about the only things besides being hungry that she cries about. She’s the happiest little baby most of the time and has learned that it doesn’t take more than a few calls to get her parents’ attention if she needs something. Which is niiice! On the other hand, now she’ll call us for just about anything. I can’t reach my toy! I want more milk! Keep talking to me!
She’s becoming her own little person more than ever. She loves talking and being social. She doesn’t really seem to mind being with people she doesn’t know either. She has started giving us “kisses” (snarling and attacking our faces if we get too close). She has begun to laugh a little too. Sometimes if she’s in the right mood and we’re being REALLY funny she’ll scrunch up her face as if she’s about to burst with happiness, only she doesn’t quite know how to express it. Eventually a tiny squeak or even a giggle will escape. She wants to touch everything, especially faces. Whenever we carry her around now she’ll keep one hand on our faces or grab my hair as if to make sure we’re still there.
I like to think she’s learning to bond in other ways than through nursing now. I love watching her touch and examine Marcus’ face. I’m glad that he gets to feel a lot closer to her now that she’s responding more to him. As social as she can be in crowds, we can tell a huge difference when we come home and it’s just the three of us again. She clearly shows how comfortable she is by either going straight to sleep or lighting up and starting the party. It’s the best thing ever to feel that we are truly a little family and that she loves being with us as much as we love being with her.
For our little family it became that time of year once again. That time of year when we pack up our lives and move to a new home. This is only the fifth move since we got married. There should be some sort of record book for this. The longest we’ve stayed in one place was 6 months. The shortest 3,5. 5 apartments. 4 cities. 3 countries. 1 little tiny student family.
You’d think it’d be over soon. But it’s not! We’re only staying in this apartment for 4 months. Another big move coming up this summer! You might also think that we’re getting pretty tired of it. Well, we’re definitely getting there, but it’s still a bit exciting! I like that I don’t know where my life will take me and that I don’t live the same place I’ll be in 40 years. I guess I hope my life will never stop being exciting that way – that we’ll always be working toward the next chapter in our lives. On the other hand, I am beginning to daydream about shopping for plates and curtains and decorating our own home. To have a home that’s ours.
The good thing about not owning much is that it makes it really easy to move quickly. Last week it just took a few car rides back and forth to move our entire lives from one address to another. Moving frequently has really taught me to enjoy having a simple life. I don’t think I’ll ever be a collector. Up until now, the principle has been that if it didn’t fit into three suitcases it didn’t go.
There’s also something wonderful about starting over again once in a while. It’s like New Years Resolutions three times a year. Some of my “resolutions” for this apartment involve getting up earlier and cleaning up before I go to bed. It’s kind of fun fitting into a new life: getting a new local grocery store, new neighbors, new places to go for walks etc…
You also learn a thing or two about what it means to create a home. Especially when the furniture is not your own. I guess for me it doesn’t feel like home till there’s a picture of a temple (preferably the one in Stockholm where we were married) and a picture of Jesus Christ. – I know you might be thinking I’m a little cheesy for saying that… but I’m not. I’m just honest. Well, I guess it’s up to you what you think.
This apartment is like our sixth chance at being the best we can be!
Another year has already gone. Marcus and I were just talking the other day about how crazy it is that we’ve already been together for 2,5 years! On the other hand I can’t believe my own family has only been in existence for that little time.
Goodness, this year has been eventful! Only 6 days into it I decided to confront my late period by taking a pregnancy test. Shortly after taking the first one I took another. After staring at the mirror for a few minutes and taking a few deep breaths I went to our bedroom and told Marcus that he was going to be a father. Within the week the two toughest months of the year began. During that period I can count on two hands the amount of times that I left out little apartment in Hawaii.
Soon after Marcus was offered a summer internship with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City and we were forced to decide to leave Hawaii to go to Utah and then to spend five weeks apart in order for me to return to Denmark before I got too pregnant. It was sad to leave beautiful Hawaii and our new friends there, but that was not nearly as hard as saying goodbye to Marcus one morning in June and making the journey home without him.
I had a fun summer at home with my family. It was fantastic to have a few calm yet lonely weeks to prepare our new home in Denmark and for our little baby to come into the world. Finally it was time to go up to Stockholm to meet Marcus and have a couple of weeks with our Swedish family. Picking up Marcus at the airport felt like getting married all over again – if the pink’ness seems to be fading just try spending five weeks in different continents – … – actually, don’t.
We returned to Denmark, moved into our apartment, and just a few weeks later I woke up one very early morning knowing that that was the day I would find out what labor felt like. It didn’t feel that nice. But all the pain was worth how great it felt once it was over. Honestly, I was way too shaken to understand what a miracle we had witnessed. That came gradually over the next few weeks. Her first smiles in her sleep, the first time we all were able to sleep at the same time, the first time she really looked at us, the first time it didn’t hurt to feed her, the first time she talked to us, the first time she slept all night…
And that is the high that we are ending this year on. That we can lean back after a year of hard work and enjoy the miracle of our happy family. Hope next year will end the same way.
Couldn’t believe it so I had to take another.
One of my very first meals out of the house after two months of morning sickness
Loved the few weeks I could “randomly” run into my little sister in Salt Lake City. Can’t believe she’s coming home so soon!
Back together after five long weeks apart – as pinkly in love as ever.
The most intense day of my life, and I got to bring home this beauty.
Yesterday was the longest day in.. a long time.
Geographically, Stockholm is not really that far away, but for a small student family during the holidays who are trying to save money, we may as well have been celebrating Christmas in China.
We got up early, cause we were leaving at 6. My dear father picked us up, and off we went. Baby has never been much for car rides so we had been a little nervous about how her first drive out of town would go. Fortunately, she had only slept 6 hours so she was out like a light – we didn’t even have to sing or do the fairytale voices. Almost an hour later we arrived at the ferry terminal.
It was a good feeling walking into the terminal that Marcus and I have both been at countless times over the last two and a half years. Dating, engaged, married, and now with a little baby on the arm. Despite having boarded that ferry so many times, I am still surprised every single time how long the trip across to Sweden takes. We had packed a lunch (or rather breakfast, dinner and lunch) … (made a LOT of tuna salad Tuesday night) which we took out as soon as we were settled in our seats at the front. Then the hours passed remarkably fast. Marcus got a little seasick, so Baby and I went exploring. We looked at all the other passengers (Baby not as discretely as me), looked out the window at all the water and did a few diaper changes. Later Baby took a nice long nap on Dad’s chest and I did some sudokus. By the time we reached Gothenburg Baby was awake and happy.
The tram ride to Gothenburg central station was fun. Marcus who was holding Baby got talking to a very friendly lady. Always nice to meet friendly strangers!
We only had to wait for the bus to the airport for about 15 minutes. It was comfortable with not too many people. But Baby got a little annoyed that we couldn’t walk her around all of a sudden. So nursing it was!
We arrived at the airport about 6 hours before our flight would depart. We checked in and tried to check in our baggage, but were unsuccessful. So we settled down in some uncomfortable airport chairs to wait out the time. We had some more tuna salad, nursed, we started reading A Christmas Carol, did some more sudokus, nursed again. It’s funny how, despite hard airport chairs, baby poop and no snacks, time flies when you’re with your best friend. I’m grateful to have had those hours with Marcus to just do whatever, people watch and laugh. I really want to prioritize always having time for that. Finally we could check our baggage and go through security. It was a fun experience doing all of this with a baby for the first time. Never have I been so thankful for being able to breastfeed! Don’t know how we would have survived that day dragging around bottles and formula.
The flight was the part I had dreaded the most. Didn’t want to be stuck in a tiny crammed seat with a baby with painful ears. For that reason we had agreed to wait to feed her when we were on the plane, so she would be hungry enough to keep eating until we were in the air. Unfortunately, we weren’t permitted to board for 25 minutes and Baby was crying impatiently. Other than that the plan worked! She stayed on the boob for the entire flight and was the happiest little squirt when we got off.
Now, all that was left was the car ride back to Marcus’ parents’. It was a happy reunion in the airport with Marcus’ mom. It makes me so happy that our other family members are so happy to see Baby and seem to love her (if possible) as much as we do. Baby got packed good and snug in her car seat and off we went. She did great for the first 15 minutes due to my holding her hands and talking and singing in my high-pitched now well-trained mommy voice. Then she’d had enough. She screamed and screamed for about 10 minutes until she got tired of that. She settled for giving me ugly looks until she fell asleep.
And then we were there! After a 15 hour journey we arrived at the lightly snow-coated house shining with Christmas lights. Welcome to Sweden, Baby!
Since we celebrated Christmas last year in Hawaii – meaning no snow, no cold, no gloves, no scarves, no coats, no boots, no toasty thick socks, no snuggling up with a blanket on the couch .. you get the picture – I have been looking very VERY much forward to Christmas back here at home in Scandinavia. I’ve basically been talking about it for about a year… so now that 1 December finally came we planned a family night with hot chocolate, Christmas decorations, blankets and plenty of snuggles! Baby fell asleep pretty fast though, so Marcus and I ended up chatting for most of the time.
First, let me just say that I love Christmas – I know that’s very unique right? But every year when its over I feel like I could have done more to enjoy it and I promise myself that next Christmas I will make more of an effort. So I’ve been giving that some thought for a few weeks now, and so that is what we came to talk about tonight sipping our hot chocolate. How to get the most out of Christmas this year.
And it guess it really comes down to why you celebrate Christmas. There could be many reasons for that – gifts, family, FOOD! – but for me, as for many of you I’m sure, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. Or rather, it is about celebrating Christ and the spirit that He brings.
And it made me think of the things that I think make Christmas special. For one, I can’t help but notice how people become a little happier during Christmas time. You’ll get more smiles back on the street, you’ll be more likely to see gestures of kindness, and more than anything you see many more examples of service.
Oh my goodness! That’s what it comes down to! Christmas Spirit is really one happy circle of being excited and happy, leading to feeling thankful, leading to feeling humble, leading to serving others, leading back to feeling even more happy!
(Get a load of those cheeks!!)
So to me it was quite simple. The way that we could get the most out of this month of Christmas is by enhancing and feeding that process. So for one thing we need to get happy and excited about Christmas – I’m putting up the last decorations while listening to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album tonight! We need to feel thankful and humble – it’s hard not to with that extremely cute baby lying asleep on the couch right there! And we need to try to serve others…
Now, great ways of doing that is finding a soup kitchen somewhere or making a Christmas donation… but since we’re poor young students and .. well I’m sure the soup kitchen thing would work for 45 minutes before the baby needed feeding again… I just really felt like we could be of service in smaller ways that might even make more of a difference – to others but maybe even more to ourselves. I mean the small unexpected ways that are just enough to light up someone’s day, like leaving a happy sticky note on someone’s wind shield, or smiling at everyone you pass on the street, or simply just making an effort to be happy and friendly when you’re around other people.
That way we would also reach our goal of getting the most out of our Christmas – because this would teach us to constantly be on the look-out for things we could do to serve. It would teach us to see other people through less judging and skeptical eyes. It would teach us to think happier thoughts and to stop wasting energy on gossiping and thinking angry thoughts. We would learn to just expect all people to have good intentions. Basically, it would teach us to be friendlier and happier people.
If I may be so selfish, I believe then we would be giving ourselves a better gift than any we would be giving away.
To get us in the right spirit we watched this short Youtube video.
Please, feel free to hit ‘play’ for instant Christmas spirit!
Ever since five months ago when we left beautiful Hawaii, I have had a deal with Marcus that he would write a guest blog post tributing our stay there. Well, as time goes by and other things come up some things tend to be forgotten. Among which this blog post. So it is my pleasure to finally pass the laptop over to my beloved husband. Marcus – everyone. Everyone — Marcus!
As you read this I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you – not for reading this specific blog post, but for being so kind and encouraging to my wife who truly is a great writer and who finds so much joy in your kind comments and interest in her blog. This post won’t quite be as sophisticated, funny or well written as those you are used to by my beautiful better half – but I’ll give it a try.
When Rebecca and I were engaged we decided that it would be a good idea to move abroad and finish my undergraduate studies. I especially liked that idea as I had spent most of my life in Stockholm and felt that a move would be a fresh start and would increase my motivation to focus more on school. We both felt that studying at one of the BYU schools would be great, and it did not take long for us to decide that Brigham Young University Hawaii was the place where we wanted to go.
In the end of August 2013 we left Sweden and arrived in the beautiful Hawaiian islands. Some friends picked us up at the airport in Honolulu at about 5 in the morning and I remember how my mind was blown as we saw the most beautiful sunrise of our lives when we drove up the windward coast on Kamehameha Highway. You could say it was love at first sight, and despite the fact that we only spent a school year there Hawaii has a very special place in our hearts and definitely feels like a home away from home.
I could probably write a book about Hawaii, but I am going to try to keep this fairly brief and just tell you why we miss it.
1. The BYU Hawaii campus is amazing
In Hawaii I woke up every morning thinking about how blessed we were to live in such a beautiful place. Even just walking on campus is a treat. I’ve had some of my favorite conversations with Rebecca as we’ve walked home from a late night in the library as the starry pacific sky inspires to deep and meaningful thoughts. I wish everyone could experience a night on the North Shore of Hawaii.
The flag circle at BYU Hawaii campus
The new building for the Business School and Entrepreneurship Center
2. We will never have better neighbors
Our first semester we lived in a little house just off of Hukilau Beach, but after New Year we moved into Temple View Apartments (TVA) as the apartment complex for married students is called. Living in TVA means that all your neighbors are also young married couples. I don’t think we will ever live in such a safe and friendly neighborhood ever again.
A Sunday afternoon BBQ with our TVA neigbors
3. Acai-bowls are the best thing ever
Acai bowls originally come from Brazil, but the strong connection to the surf culture has made them extremely popular in Hawaii. They basically consist of a layer of mixed frozen acai berries, granola, and topped with fresh fruits of your choice. Simply delicious!
Acai bowls at our favorite place in Haleiwa
4. Laie is the most beautiful little community you’ll ever visit
Laie really is a tiny little town but when you have a grocery store, a burger joint, and the most rad little movie theatre you’ll ever see why would you need more? One of our favorite things in Hawaii was that we learned how to enjoy a very simple lifestyle. If we ever had aspirations for fancy things we definitely learned that you don’t need stuff to be happy. I guess that’s what wearing flip-flops seven days a week does to you…
Hukilau Beach in Laie
Laie Temple seen from Hale Laa Boulevard
5. BYU Hawaii has professors that truly care
When I went to high school I didn’t really care about the academics, I was more interested in sports and preferred to spend my time playing soccer. At BYU Hawaii we met professors that truly changed our lives. Rebecca and I met weekly with a professor whom we now consider a good friend who guided and mentored us in our endeavors in learning more about internet marketing, social media, blogging and anything internet related.
Another professor helped me realize that I could achieve things I did not think I could, and taught me more about strategy, case-studies and management than anyone else. He essentially opened my eyes to a world I thought I was not good enough to succeed in. Professors like these two inspire you to work hard in school, inspire you to get good grades and not just care about sports like I used to.
6. The Laie temple grounds are simply stunning
Just go there and see for yourself. No pictures or words can do it justice.
7. The wildlife is rad
How many other places let’s you surf and swim among sea turtles and dolphins?
8. Kahuku Grill and Seven Brothers make the best food
You would think you’d get bored with the food when you really only have these two places that make good quality food in town, but oh no. We still dream of the Coconut Macadamia Nut Shrimp from Kahuku Grill and the burgers and fries from Seven Brothers.
9. The beaches are beyond amazing
Whether you wanna surf, snorkel or just take a casual swim, Hawaii is the place to be.
In conclusion, Hawaii will always be our home away from home. It is the place where we spent the first year of our marriage and where we set most of our family goals. It really is a pearl in the pacific, but the beauty of the island is just a tiny part of why we miss and love the place so much. The Aloha spirit of the people is something I hope we can keep in our family for the rest of our lives. The dreams and goals we set, and the friendships and memories we made will truly live forever.
It has been a very memorable summer. In some ways a summer that I hope we’ll never have to experience ever again. And in other ways a summer with so many happy times that I wouldn’t want to miss for the world.
Among these happy times are first of all being reunited with Marcus. Fortunately, and for what reason I have no idea, the five weeks apart went faster and to some extent smoother than I ever thought possible. Despite stressful days and smaller pregnancy problems I managed to survive without too many tears and with all the comfort I needed from my family. My philosophy of keeping busy actually worked and in the end I was almost sad that my alone-time with my family was over so soon. Whether Marcus found our time apart as easy I can’t say but I think we can agree that as much as it is an experience we have learned a lot from it is not one we wish to ever have to repeat.
I went with his parents to the airport to pick him up. It was the best feeling ever to see him crossing the parking lot. Not like back in the way when we were dating and I picked him up at the ferry. Not the same kind of butterflies of seeing your crush, but a much more powerful longing to be with the person that you love more than anyone else in the entire world. There was even a split-second when I realized that I had actually been without my other half for a month – as if for a month I had been helped to not notice – and how that hole seemed to fill as I gave him that first hug on the curb. It just felt right. And that is the best feeling in the world.
The other most happy experience this summer has been being reunited with family. I really think it was good for Marcus and I to get away early in our marriage and to learn to establish ourselves as our own family and to learn to make hard decisions together. While we were in Salt Lake, I remember thinking that being away from home really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and that we could easily spend some more years on the other side of the world if necessary. I still think so, but boy! had I forgotten the comfort of being around family. Again, it just feels right. The definition of ’family’ may be different to different people, but one thing is true for all – Families are meant to be together.
I now realize just how big a blessing it was to spend my time away from Marcus with my own family. To go home and be back in the ’eldest daughter’s shoes’ again. To have a second chance at my last month with my family. I don’t think I took full advantage of that rare opportunity but it really opened my eyes a little more not only to the kind of daughter I wish I was and plan to be in the future, but also to what kind of daughter I hope to raise myself.
Also, I love my in-laws. I mean, how lucky do you get to both have an awesome family of your own and to marry a guy who also has an awesome family. Seriously, my life is too happy. I’m expecting to be struck by the worst evil any day now – it’s just too good to be true. (Knock on wood!!). But coming back to Marcus’ family’s house really felt like walking into my second home. Yes, I said it. The Dane feels at home in Sweden.
I have to give a shout-out to friends and distant family as well. From the friends and family that have helped and supported us before this summer when we were far away from home to the friends and family who have been there for us to welcome us back home – I just have to throw in here that I was lucky enough to have two baby showers thrown for me. Each were attended by family, close and distant, and dear friends. You guys, I’m not the type of person who loves being the center of attention, but I do love being surrounded by people I love. I really really appreciate it!
You really notice how many treasures you have in your life when you go through hard times and this summer I’ve discovered gold mines. My heart is so full of gratitude for the people I have in my life. I can rest assured that counting my blessings will comfort me in any hard time to come. For they are many.
The hard days are over! Marcus came home a few days ago and we’re both in Stockholm on vacation with his family.
This means the last week has been full of Daddy’s oohs and aahs at how big my belly has gotten, how much and how hard she kicks and the all over again realization that it’s so soon.
Especially since I had my baby shower this week. My sweet aunt and cousins threw it and it was such a fun night. The weather was so nice and we had fruit, ice cream and pink cake pops! Well the point is I got a lot of really cute baby girl clothes and throughout the night I could tell that for each new present I opened and each new cute little item falling into my lap I started picturing holding a little baby in those clothes and thinking about which outfit to put her in to go home from the hospital and which to put her in on her first Sunday in church and which she’ll be wearing when I nurse her in the middle of the night.
Well so far I’ve gotten my baby equipment pretty much sorted. I’ve got to borrow a cute little crib – so cute, CUTE! – and a stroller – the kind with a bassinet. That’s just about as close I’ll get to designing a nursery in this round. But I’m excited to get back, move into our apartment in Aalborg and make do with what I have! Being poor students is pretty fun!
Baby girl – whose name is still pretty much unknown – weighs a little more than 2 kg by now and I can’t believe she won’t get much longer before she’s ready to come out!
Baby is almost fully baked!
My baby shower souvenir: a baby picture of myself. Look how fat..! Hope (hope hope hope!) that my baby will be just as plump!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.