I was doing so well…

I was all on top of this blogging regularly thing, and now I’ve gone and ruined my streak. But it was for a good cause this time! And I don’t mean that I needed the time to moan about things or feel sorry for myself. I mean I was doing something productive!

I’m in a local non-profit organization, LINK. We are all about getting expat women in Copenhagen together. I’ve been on the committee for a while now in the role of co-editor for the newsletter. That means that about once a month, I take all the text and pictures that the other editor worked tirelessly to compile, and all the ads that the advertising co-ordinator worked tirelessly to compile, and I make it look pretty in a newsletter format and then send it to the printer. As of a few days ago, I have also taken on the role of webmaster. That means that after I make the information pretty in a newsletter format, I am now also to make it pretty in a webpage format.

And I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far, ifIdosaysomyself. Here, I’ll give you another chance to take a look.

There’s still soooo much more I want to do in this role, but as with any time you take on a role that was once handled by someone else (who took it on from someone else, and so on), it takes some time to figure everything out, get all the plans in place, etc. I’m excited for the chance to work on this, though.

So, you see, I was working on a site. Just not this site.

As a little bonus for hanging in there, despite a couple days of absence, I hope you will enjoy this picture of my family. Especially for all the people who make claims about who each baby most resembles! What do you think now? Clockwise from top left: daughter Maggie Rose, husband Thomas, daughter Dagmar Lee, and me.

snowsuits

Danes love snowsuits. They come in the smallest little sizes. (I looooove this one! And it was a gift! Thaaaaank yooooou!)

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And they come in adult sizes too. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera when I passed a woman who was at least in her 60s sporting a one-piece snowsuit when it wasn’t even cold out. Granted, that’s a bit unusual, but it seems anyone in the 12 and under crowd needs to be in a snowsuit from about September to April. I think it’s a bit excessive, but I’m rolling with it.

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This has been what I see of my daughter every time we’ve been outside for the past few months. A hot pink blob with a black heiney and purple shoes. The hot pink becomes a bit less ‘hot’ as she keeps kneeling in the dirt, but then I wash it and she glows in the dark again. Amazingly, that little hat didn’t even come with the suit. And neither did this one.

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Duly Noted

One of my awesome friends, in response to my complaint about not getting OS X Server to work on the iMac, reminded me of Dropbox as a means for syncing my junk between multiple computers. It’s not as elegant as having my whole home directory synced, but hey, it’s free, and it works pretty well. I do recommend it!

I recently discovered Evernote, which lets me sync all my random thoughts between multiple computers/phones, and I think this is pretty great too. I guess people have been raving about it for a while, and I’m super late to the game, but whatever. I used to open text files or Sticky Notes to jot down junk I wanted to remember later, but now I can put it in Evernote and access it anywhere. And organize it and tag it and make it pretty. And it has a Chrome extension. And the icon is an elephant. I like elephants.

As an added bonus, it’s in the App Store. I do like the App Store.

One of my notebooks in Evernote is for recipes, because I seem to either bookmark them or leave the tab open in the hopes if using the recipe later. And I often do use the recipe later, but then I can’t find it to make it a second time when Thomas tells me how much he liked it and that I should make it again. Oops. Here’s hoping my (and Thomas’) quality of life is improved a teeny bit by my discovery of this thing.

help me spend money

I said before that I love me some Google Calendar with all its time-zoney goodness. I also love that I can link up my and Thomas’ accounts so that I can add events to his calendar, in case he forgets to do it himself. Not that that EVER happens.

FlyLady partnered up with a site called Cozi that does shared calendars and to-dos, and I really wanted to love it. I tried really hard to see everything in it that FlyLady told me to, but… no. I don’t like that “sharing” means giving the other people in my family their own usernames, but not their own passwords. I think that’s a pretty huge failing, to be honest, and one I don’t understand the need for from a technical standpoint, but I tried to look past it. And when FlyLady told me to pretend that “celebrations” was a person so I could put birthdays on my calendar, I tried to look past that too, even though it’s awfully ridiculous. I also tried to be forgiving that they don’t yet sync with anything other than Outlook and their iPhone app is only available in the US. But it just kept feeling more and more clunky and like it required too much effort to convince myself it wasn’t a lost cause. Other than having a shared to-do list, Google Calendar does everything I was using Cozi for, and it already works right now, already syncs with my Mac, is already accessible on my iPhone, etc.

But… as much time as I spend looking at and modifying my calendar, I want something better than the iPhone’s default calendar. I’ve been googling for info about other calendars, but all the comparisons I’ve seen are already out of date. Some of them have free “lite” versions, but many don’t, and I don’t want to shell out and be disappointed. I don’t mind paying for a good app, but I want to know it’s a good app.

Lite versions I’ve been playing with and my thoughts:

SaiSuke – The Settings… are you kidding me? I love configurability, but how the heck am I even supposed to find anything? Overwhelm much??? I like flicking quickly between months, though, and being able to switch between day, week, month, year, and list (oooo!) view easily. There used to be a split screen, and the bottom part went away and I can’t figure out how to get it back. It loses points for that.

GooCal – Eh, it pretty much looks like the default iPhone app. Yawn.

CCal – It looks promising. It’s pretty, I *love* the drag-and-drop option to move events, and I really love the “scroll” view. I wish I could go landscape though, and it has crashed several times in less than a day, which makes me hesitant to pay. It does let me repeat events in all the various ways I can think of, like every 3rd Wednesday of the month, etc. I really like everything about it except the crashing, I think. Why, why do you have to crash? How do I know you won’t keep doing it?

Anyone out there with an iPhone have a paid calendar app? Thoughts?

when to wean

This isn’t about what’s best, what’s right, or what’s wrong. This is just about what I find confusing. It’s not about thinking people are bad or stupid or whatever. People I love and respect sometimes confuse me too. So please don’t think any of this is a personal attack. I know it can be a sensitive topic, but I’m really, really not mad at anyone or judging anyone. I’m just thinking out loud.

There are lots of different decisions people make when it comes to feeding their children, and whether or not I agree that those choices are always the best thing to do, I usually understand them. I understand not wanting to breastfeed. I understand wanting to breastfeed. I understand being frustrated with it, but trudging forward. I understand being frustrated and giving up. I understand weaning at whatever milestone the mother feels is appropriate to do so. I understand letting the child wean himself.

I don’t understand some of the reasons people give for why they weaned, or why they think other people should wean. Especially the latter. Why people care when other people wean is really beyond me.

Someone once said the most logical time to wean is when solids are introduced. That makes no sense at all. Solids are such a small part of the diet when you first introduce them, that you’d have to switch to formula. If you want to do that, fine, but I certainly wouldn’t say it the most logical thing to do. Logically, doesn’t it make more sense to breastfeed until such time as formula wouldn’t be necessary? Formula was invented specifically to replace breast milk, so if you don’t need or want to stop breastfeeding, LOGICALLY, you would never need any.

Some people make comments like, “if they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to nurse.” Exclusively breast-fed infants ask for it by crying, rooting, seeking the nipple, etc. but they’re obviously not too old. Oh yes, I *know* they mean with spoken words when they say “ask for it,” but that’s not any more logical. First of all, what exactly counts as “asking”? Grunting and pointing? Sign language? Any sound that might be an attempt at a word? A full sentence? There’s nothing about speech development (which happens over a VERY wide age spectrum, btw) that has anything to do with breast milk. And I can’t think of any reason that becoming more and more clear and accurate in the way you ask for it should mean you deserve it less than before.

If it makes YOU uncomfortable to nurse your child after a certain point, then fair enough. If YOU never want to breastfeed at all, or only want to for X months, or whatever, I really don’t care. I just don’t see why that should be a universal rule. Can there be a universal rule? What do you think? If breastfeeding is going fine, if the mother is happy and healthy, if the child is happy and healthy, if both the mother and the child wish to continue, at what point is the child “too old” purely by virtue of their age? And why? I do NOT mean, what did you choose to do, what would you choose to do, or what do you plan to do. I mean, in a totally ideal breastfeeding mom-child pair, is there such a thing as “too old”? Is there a point when what the mother and child want for themselves stops being relevant, and if so, why? And I mean REAL reasons. “I’m not used to seeing children that age nurse” is not a reason.

Thursday Thoughts?

Doesn’t sound ranty enough.

I need a title, people!

Or perhaps it’s a sign I need to stop ranting. Naaaaaah.

Someone please take my cats. I’m so stressed about these stupid cats. There’s just no space for them here. I was SO relieved when they were gone, and then three days later, they’re back at my door because Tycho is “too energetic.” Yeah, he knocked over a plant. Tragic. A-huh.

So yeah, I need to find a new home for them or else they will get put down. Shelters here don’t take cats over 5. Lovely, right? I’ve had it up to here with the whole thing.

Wot chu lookin at, gurl?

Since my Money Monday post ended before Maggie actually got the chance to try out the Jump Jump, I thought it would be fitting for today’s Wardrobe Wednesday to be a sort of follow-up. Does Maggie wear the Jump Jump well?

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Yes, yes she does. Apparently the Jump Jump phase of life coincides with the hand-chewing phase of life for both of my girls. (Compare to Dagmar in the Monday post.) They also both entered the Jump Jump phase before people who make Jump Jumps expected them to. None of these jumping devices seem to think children of this height are going to use them, because they’re always up way too high. But trust me, by the time I don’t need to put an upside-down plastic bin under her feet, she’s not going to give a flying frog fart about the Jump Jump, because she’ll be crawling and/or furniture cruising on her own. At least if she’s ANYTHING like her big sis. We’ll see though. She’s less active than Dagmar was, for sure, but she still seems interested in mobility.

In addition to the Jump Jump and upside-down bin, Miss Magdalena is sporting a one-piece sleeper from some department store in the UK. In the UK, much like in the US, people understand that snaps going down BOTH legs are a good thing. Denmark hasn’t caught on to this. Don’t ask me why. As much money as they charge for baby clothes here, they should put themselves on the baby for me, but instead, they can’t even bother to put snaps on one of the legs. I guess we Anglophones are just spoiled.

Speaking of spoiled, this has nothing to do with wardrobes, but I doubt I’ll have a better post coming up soon that I can include it anyway…

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I used to keep my food in cupboards above my countertop. I’m short. Add these two things together and you get someone who can’t see or find all her food without getting a step stool. And really, who gets a step stool every time they cook or bake? Well, obviously not me. I kept buying stuff that I already had. Over and over. And Over. I had five bags of flour, four bags of granulated sugar, and four boxes of powdered sugar. I had to throw out one bag of flour that had expired, and I was able to do some condensing, pouring half empty bags into one bag and so on. But I still have a bunch of extra. A couple of lucky friends are getting free baking supplies from yours truly.

But never again! Nope, don’t expect more baking supply hand-outs over here! All my food is in lovely drawers now. I can see EVERYTHING. I’m excited. 😀

Keeping up with the @joneses

It seems like everyone has a blog, a Twitter stream, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook profile, a YouTube account, a flickr account… you get the idea. Our online presences can be quite large. So how do you keep up?

No, really. I’m asking. How do you keep up?

I use Socialite, because I had a code for it. I like it a lot, but I have no idea what else is out there. I like that it puts Google Reader and Twitter in one place, and preserves my lists, saves my hashtag searches, lets me do things like star favorites, follow new people, etc. all from within Socialite. I wish it did my email too. I think it’s all basically communication, right? Email is like a DM on Twitter, but potentially longer and with attachments. But it’s still just talking. It can also do Facebook status updates, but I find that I always have a Facebook tab open anyway for other stuff so that’s less exciting to me.

For blogging, I use ecto. I mostly like it. Actually, the only thing I don’t like is that there’s no way to set a different default size for images. I want it to resize images a certain way when I drag them in, and I can’t figure out how to make it do that. It puts the size it wants right in the HTML too, so I can’t just put it in CSS. Boo. But otherwise, I think it’s really nice. I don’t mind blogging in a separate program from the other stuff, even though it is still essentially communication, because it requires categorization and design that things like tweets and email don’t.

I’m curious what other people do, how they like it, what they don’t like about it, and so on. Do you have a unified app for all your communications, or do you prefer lots of separate apps? Or do you just do it all in a web browser, at various sites like gmail and twitter.com? Do tell!

I really need this today.

I’m having a really, truly horrible day.

But I’m not here to blog about that. I’m here to talk about something that makes me happy. I don’t even know what I’m going to write about yet, but I decided to start writing my entry in the hopes that something would come to me. I’m looking around the room for an idea….

OK, here we go.

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The Amby Jump Jump.
I’m glad we bought the Amby Jump Jump. I’ll be honest, we didn’t get a whole lot of use out of the Amby hammock. With Dagmar, there was construction going on above us, so I couldn’t really use anything on the balcony for a long time. Dust and junk kept coming onto the balcony. I bought the hammock specifically for Dagmar to sleep in it on the balcony. Danes think babies need to sleep outside. It started with some well-intentioned doctor saying it was a good idea, and now everyone just does it because that’s how it is, even though there isn’t actually a benefit. There’s also no real downside, so I didn’t fight it. I bought a hammock instead, but that was before the announcement of the construction of penthouses just above us.
Anyway… I didn’t really use it much with Maggie either, probably because I didn’t with Dagmar and it just didn’t come naturally to me, and also because it’s kind of a pain in the butt to dress your kid up in a snowsuit and all this jazz just to put them outside to nap without any benefit, and then when they don’t fall asleep right away, you either have to let them cry, or you have to stand outside in the cold trying to calm them down. I’ve grown to find the entire practice more and more stupid. Anyway, Maggie ended up napping on me or in her crib, and I’m pretty sure she’ll turn out ok. If Dagmar is any indication, the lack of outdoor napping shouldn’t affect her acquisition of the Danish language or Danish mannerisms.
When I bought the hammock, there was the option of getting a bundle with the hammock and all manner of accessories for some bargainy valuey price. So I did that, and thus we got a Jump Jump. It’s like every other baby jumping device out there, except that it hangs on the Amby hammock frame. I’d probably be as happy with any other jumping contraption, but this is the one I have.
Dagmar loved it. She loved it so much, you should invent a new word for how much she loved it. I don’t think it’s possible for a person to be any happier than Dagmar was in her Jump Jump. Maggie is now at Jump Jump age, and I just brought the frame in from the balcony so we could try it out. She’s napping, though. I’ll have to report later how it went. I’m pretty sure she’s going to love it though. She’s addicted to being upright, pretending to walk, and that sort of thing. This is going to be right up her alley. At least, that’s my hypothesis.

the entire Danish school saga

I’ve complained about it a lot, but I can’t blame you if you haven’t been able to keep up. All my complaints are spread out all over the place. So I’ve decided to compile it into one big blog post, just… because.

I have to pass five modules of Danish language in order to stay in the country, which is fine. I went to the language school near me for a laughably short interview during which the school director determined I should be placed in the lowest level. I really felt like she had decided on my level before the interview even began, because I asked her something about how the school works in English, because I wanted to make sure I really, really understood this point. I think she just assumed at that point that my Danish must suck, and she seemed really dismissive after that.

I started module 1, and the way it works is you’re in a module 1 class until you can pass it, and the students start and stop at different times. So the teacher pulled me to the side since it was my first day (and not anyone else’s) to give me books and stuff. Remember this class is for people who don’t speak ANY Danish, but it’s basically immersion-style. He explained the course structure and what the books were for and everything in Danish and asked if I understood. I said, “ja” and he was like, wait… really?! After a bit of talking, he said I should be in at least module 3, but unfortunately he couldn’t change what the director did. He did say I could take the test the next time it was offered instead of after 3 months, which is the usual time. To pass the test, amongst other things, you have to have read three books (the length and difficulty of which depends on the module, so for module 1, I use the term “book” kinda loosely), so even if you’re a star at the language, you need some time to prepare for the test.

I passed modules 1, 2, and 3 in a about month each (though with sick days and vacations and such, it took longer than 3 calendar months). My module 3 teacher recommended me for the module 5 class, because she figured I’d fly through module 4 as well and could just take the test in my own time while studying with the module 5 class, but I requested to be put in a proper module 4 class anyway since I wasn’t in a hurry and module 4 actually has some new-to-me material. I had been in module 4 for about three weeks when I had to stop because my morning sickness was out of hand.

I contacted the school at the beginning of January and asked to restart, and they send me a letter that very day with the details of my new class. I was all set to start right away. When I arrived, I discovered all the other students in the class were in module 2. I wanted to talk to the teacher and find out if there was a particular reason for this placement, but unfortunately she had a sub for the day, and of course the sub didn’t know diddly. I thought I’d stick it out for the day anyway because at least I’d be using Danish and practicing a bit, but once we headed to the computer lab and our assignment was given, I realized I wouldn’t actually be speaking to anyone, and what we were asked to write was so far below my level as to not be helpful at all. Like “See Spot run.” stuff, when I’m supposed to be able to do past, future, conditionals, and subjunctives by now. The guy next to me was looking up every single word in the assignment in a dictionary. I got up and walked out.

I emailed the school and said they had mistakenly placed me in module 2 but I’m actually in module 4. I got a reply just now that my class is for module 3 (not sure why everyone thinks they’re in 2, then, but whatever) and since I haven’t passed module 3 yet, I’m in the right class. BUT I HAVE PASSED MODULE 3. I know I did. I remember it very well. And I remember sitting in a module 4 class and doing module 4 assignments, and I remember turning in all my module 3 books and getting module 4 books.

So, the secretary said she would check with the woman who administers the test to check and see if I passed or not, but test woman was out sick. For some reason, no one else can look. Whatever. After a few days, secretary gets back to me to tell me test woman says I failed. So I asked how it’s possible for me to have failed but then have this very same woman tell me to my face that I passed with high marks, and then to be placed in an advanced class, and for me to have in my possession the books and homework assignments for the next module. I dug up the name of my previous teacher in the hopes they could find out if she remembers me or anything, and I even found the date of the text I sent home saying I passed. (I would not have sent such a text just because I *felt* I passed, kwim? Someone had to have TOLD ME that I passed.)

The secretary didn’t bother trying to explain how this all happened. She just came out with: “Well, we were supposed to do another placement interview anyway since it’s been so long. I didn’t think you needed one, but obviously you do now.” I felt like there’s nothing I could do about this, because it’s what’s “supposed” to happen anyway, so even if I can prove that I passed and was in the middle of module 4, they’re were going to reinterview me to make sure I didn’t forget everything. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but all I could think about was how my first interview had gone. Uuuuugh. I got scheduled for an interview a couple days later.

The interview guy (someone I’d never met before) started out with “do you speak Danish?” I said yes, and he asked, “did you go here?” I said, yeah and actually…. I explained the whole mess, and he volunteered to go get the test for me so we could figure it out. He came back and said there was no test. It was as if I never took it at all. I said I knew I took it and I passed, and he said, how about you take it now? (Just the written part… I think having explained the clusterfudge in Danish was good enough for him.) It’s a two-hour test, I did it in 20 minutes, and he said there were no mistakes, and obviously I should be in module 4! I went in all angry about it but left happy. He was very understanding about the whole thing.

The interview was on a Thursday, so I was expecting to start on the following Tuesday, but I need to get a letter from the school telling me the details and confirming my spot. When I didn’t get my letter by Tuesday afternoon, I asked what was up, and the secretary said that she needed a referral from the municipality. She wrote to them asking for it on Monday, and as soon as they get it, they’ll send me my letter. Don’t ask me why I didn’t need one before. I don’t know.

Yesterday, the secretary emailed me to say she was sending my letter right away, my referral finally came through, and I would start classes on Tuesday. Please let this be the end of the saga. Assuming there are no more glitches, that’s still a whole month wasted when I could have been learning Danish and making progress towards the test I need to pass to stay in the country!