What Made You Happy Today?

Seriously, think about it for a while. It is so easy to get caught up in all the negative stuff that happens around us. Especially when the everyday is rolling away and chores and errends and jobs and tasks and demands and what-not fills up our days. We get stressed. We get tired. We get grumpy. Sometimes we get bored. I get bored a lot. Then the negativity spiral takes off. Damn it.

Negativity breeds negativity

I read this article explaining how emotions are contagious, the negative once even more so:

“Many experts believe that negative emotions are a lot easier to catch than positive ones. Some believe this is reflective of our evolutionary past wherein being highly attuned to other people’s negative emotions (pain, fear, and disgust) was directly linked to survival. Those who could pick up on someone else’s pain, fear, and disgust were more likely to survive than those who could not.

But – positivity also breeds positivity. Phew!

It most definitely does. Take it from the experts and take it from me, the self-acclaimed negative/positive expert that I am.

Saying positive things. Doing positive things. It spreads positive vibes.

So, am I positve all day everyday? Hell no. I am often the opposite. I am prone to dwelving in my own missery, but that is exactly why I need to do something active and conscious to force the positivity into my life – otherwise it all gets too dark and dull to handle. Worst of all, I can give my negative vibe onto my kiddos.

My bag of little tricks to boost my own and my family’s positive spirit is pretty jam packed. I think I need to use it even more, ay?

Well, this particular trick is a family one, because our family needs to calm the fuck down and be postive every night – we can be such a bunch of whingers otherwise.

What is it we do?

It is pretty simple and something everyone can do every day. We eat dinner together every night and while eating we take turns in telling the other which three things that made us happy during the day. Simple.

Does it really work?

Yes! Focusing on some positive things that we experienced during the day help us to:

1. Start good conversations about the day around the table.

3. Give everyone a chance to get a word in and be heard.

2. Focus on the positives and go to bed with that in mind – or at least we can remind us self that life isn’t that bad afterall.

It might sound basic, but, as you know, back to basic is the new black. Some days it is really easy. Some days it can actually be pretty hard. On all days it is a good idea.

Here are some examples from our dinner table:

Today it made me happy (kids edition)…

…to play with my friends.

…to eat pizza here with you right now.

…to play in the sandpit.

…that I love my whole family.

…to get lollies.

…to swim in the pool.

…to play games together.

And the adult edition…

to paint the bathroom.

…to have a nap.

…to see Lulu take her first steps.

…when you girls played nicely together.

…to finish my assignment.

…to hear back from that job.

…to get the shopping done.

And one that very often goes again around the table:

Right now, eating dinner together.

As you can see, it does not have to be huge magnificent things. It can be, but it can also be tiny little things that made your day better in some way or another.

Have a go yourselves tonight and let me know how you go. Also, be a bit patient. It somehow gets better over time. At least that is my experience.

What has made you happy today?

❤️

Sunday Blues and My Empathy Super Heroes

I have been a bit down this weekend. Especially today I basically just wanted to go back to bed. I have had no energy and everything has been a struggle. It might sound relatively normal for a mum with a teething baby, but for me it is an alarm bell I have to take seriously. If not, things can get a lot worse – I am planning on writing more about my mental health, but it takes time and curage, so for now I’ll just tell you my little Sunday story. It’s actually a feel good one, if you stay ’til the end 🙂

Mummy is just gonna paint a wall

Luckily Josh caught me before I really fell – he took the girls and sent me to bed in the airconditioned bedroom. A nap and a cool down (it’s bloody hot here atm.) gave me enough energy to go and paint the bathroom. As you do, right? Maybe not your average stress-down activity, but when I struggle in my mind it helps me to focus on a specific hands-on task. This bathroom has been a running project for weeks now. Stressful in itself.

I sweated and painted for four hours.

Meanwhile I could hear the girls play together in the garden. Play. Not fight.

Then, at one point I could hear screaming from the living room. Billie fell down the stairs and bled from her lip. Apparently Abby “accidentally” pushed her. Well, I went out to save, what I thought was, the sinking ship. While I gave Billie a cuddle, Abby came over and said sorry, gave her a kiss and they shook hands (that’s Billie’s thing these days) and hugged each other. Then all was good and they went outside to play happily together again.

Wait, what just happened?

A little later Abby came and slit a drawing under the bathroom door. She made it to make me feel better. You see, when I don’t feel good we let the girls know that mummy is tired or maybe even a bit sad. Then they accept that I need a break and they, somehow, get extra loving and caring towards me – but also towards each other. It’s like some kind of “family above all”- thing is happening.

My Emphatic Super Heroes

While I was wrapping up my painting I could hear the girls talking to Josh:

“Mummy has painted a lot today. I think she’s trying to make us proud of her. I am proud of her, but she doesn’t need to paint so much. I am always proud of her”

Oh, my heart!

I am so proud of them. They often drive me nuts, but their intuition of when they need to step up is (almost always) spot on. It becomes so obvious that they do have loads of empathy hiding underneath their cheeky, rascal surfaces.

The Flower Dilemma

Actually Abby is in quite a dilemma due to her emphatic nature. It can be hard to have loads of empathy and be an aspiring scientist at the same time, I tell ya.

So, Abby wants to find out if flowers have feelings (don’t ask). Josh set an experiement idea up for her: get two similar flowers. Plant them in similar pots, place them next to each other and give them exactly the same amount of water. Then, one flower you keep telling how much you love and the other you keep telling how much you hate. Then, if flowers do have feelings, the loved one will flourish and the hated one will die. Logic.

Abby gets the idea and really wants to try the experiment. However, she is very worried about doing the experiement in case flowers actually DO have feelings – because she doesn’t want to make any flowers sad. Oh dear.

Mummy, are you okay?

At dinner Billie said to me: “now mummy, you don’t have to paint anymore” and gave me a kiss and a cuddle. I think it was her way of saying “mummy, are you okay? I hope you are feeling better.

And I do feel better. Exhausted, but better. Fingers crossed for a good nights sleep. Ready for the Monday rush in the morning.

Oh, and I actually do have to paint some more. The little sucker of a bathroom needs another coat. Exciting when that’s going to happen.

❤️

How (and why) We Are Raising Our Kids Bilingual

One of the most frequent questions I get in regards to us living in Australia is: “Do the girls speak both Australian and Danish?” followed by “do you speak Danish with them?”

The short answer is yes. They are, what you would call, bilingual. They understand Danish fluently and can switch back and forth between Australian and Danish effortlessly. However, they don’t actually speak much Danish when we are in Australia.

I guess it makes sense. Here in Australia it’s only me who speaks and understands it, but they know that I fully understand them if they speak Australian back to me. So why bother? That’s what it seems like they are thinking. However, in Denmark they learned that especially other kids don’t understand them unless they speak to them in Danish. This has been a huge eye opener for Abby, especially. She’s such a social little butterfly.

On our recent trip to Denmark magic happened and Abby started to actually speak a lot of Danish. Those 6 weeks we were there made such a difference in her Danish vocabulary and her pronunciation and it is obvious that the words are in there – she just has to practice using them.

And she does practice at home with me now. We speak Danish together daily and I love it. Billie is also tagging along as she does and says pretty much everything that Abby does. She is still mixing the two languages a lot, but she’s getting there and Danglish is so damn cute – and even if it is not perfect, it is so amazing hearing my children speak my language. It just matters.

How do we do it?

I am being very consistent, persistent and determined. Otherwise it wouldn’t work with me being the only Danish speaking parent. At home I only speak Danish unless we are having a group conversation involving Josh. I even speak Danish when Josh is present sometimes. It can make the communication in our house a bit messy, but Josh actually understands quite a lot of Danish by now and he can usually follow our conversations enough to join in if he wants to.

I also read Danish books to them, sing Danish songs, they watch Danish cartoons and we have started doing some easy Danish exercises with Abby, now that she can read and write a bit.

An added bonus is our Danish friends here in Brisbane, who gives us just that extra little bit of Danish almost every week. I do believe that makes a difference to get inputs from others than me.

The girls making our friends happy in Denmark 🙂

Then, of course, we visit Denmark regularly. Every time we do so their Danish evolves with the speed of light. Kids can adapt and learn so much, so fast. It is amazing.

Why do we even bother?

I mean, Danish is not exactly a language they can use many places in the world. In fact, they can only use it in Denmark and in Denmark everyone over the age of 10 speaks English pretty fluently.

Well, first of all I would be sad if my children didn’t understand my language and my culture – which I believe is closely connected to language. It means a lot to me that they, not only know, but also understand where they come from.

Then, of course, there is the practicality of it. That they can actually speak the native language when we are in Denmark makes it both easier and more fun for them to be there. Especially now, when they are playing with cousins and friends there who have not yet learned English. I guess it’s also another way of better understanding the culture. To be completely integrated when we are there and not have a language barrier, makes a huge difference.

There are also other more, lets call them, intellectual benefits connected with bilingualism. They are not the direct reason why we do it, but they definitely are added bonuses. Being bilingual is supposedly a great way to train childrens’ brains and make learning easier for them in the future. Not only new languages but also other subjects. And it can potentially help them fight off brain diseases such as dementia in the future.

There really isn’t any downside to bilingualism, as I see it, so we will keep on doing my very best to keep them bilingual. No matter where we’ll live in the world in the future, we will speak both Danish and Australian in our home. At a minimum.

Actually, Abby has started learning Japanese in school now. I think that’s pretty cool, but it might be a Danish thing. Learning Japanese in Denmark is quite exotic, here it’s more common I guess. Anyways, learning a third language by the age of five is cool no matter what – and I have already started dreaming of a trip to Japan sometime soon-ish. To support my child’s education, of course 🙂

Billie learning about Danish culture.

Have a nice day / ha’ en god dag / konichiwa (that’s all I know in Japanese)❤️


In Other News

It’s back to reality around here. The University of Queensland is back on this week. Josh started on Monday and I am going there tomorrow – I only have to go once a week, every Thursday from 9am. – 6pm. Making a day of it, you know.

We still haven’t really figured out the logistics of it all but that will come. Right?

Besides uni, both Josh and I are currently looking for part-time jobs to pay our rent and our camping trips. It’s been a bit harder than expected, to be honest. It’s not easy finding a job in a city where your network is tiny and when your last real job was 6 years ago in Denmark.

Last weekend I actually took a 5 hour barista course to get a little bit more on my CV. If it will lead to an actual barista job time will show. No matter what, it was fun to learn something new and I now know the actual difference on a cappuccino, a latte and a flat white.

And yes, I dream of going camping a lot more. Once we’re all settled in with uni and jobs and what-not we’ll start planning. Straddie, Byron and somewhere up north is definitely on the list. Fresh air, sandy feet and surf beaches are a must.

We still haven’t finished painting our bathroom.

The weather has cooled down a bit here. We can really feel the autumn coming our way – today it’s only 27 degrees and I am actually wearing a long sleeve as I type.

Today is my mother’s 75. birthday. I really wish we were in Denmark to help celebrate her. It sucks being so far away on these occasions. Thankfully we have FaceTime and we will sing her a little song later tonight.

Ohh, and Abby just lost her first tooth in school today. My little trooper didn’t even tell her teacher, because she was scared of getting in trouble. The tooth fell our in the middle of a lesson where she was “supposed to be learning stuff, not play with her tooth”. We assured her she would never get in trouble for loosing a tooth – or the teacher would be in trouble with us.

We have started a family tradition around our dinner table each night. Everyone has to say three things that made them happy during the day. It can be big or small. Billie usually says something in the line of “I was happy in the sand pit” and “I just love my whole family”. Tonight I will definitely say, that I am happy to see so many people have tuned into my little blog lately.

Thank you!

❤️

Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Coming to Brisbane

…And we are going to their concert. Tonight. On a Monday. How rock’n’roll. Yeah, that’s just the kinda people we are. No worries in the world. Going out to rock concerts on random weekdays. Drinking a beer even. A(!) beer. Because we need to drive home – and pick our baby up on the way. Ohh, and tomorrow it’s Tuesday btw. School, preschool and uni day. Ain’t no sleep for the wicked.

It is the first time Lulu is being babysat by other than my parents for a couple of hours back in Denmark. Today we dropped her off at a friend’s house. A friend who is home “alone” with her own three kids tonight, but still happily takes on another (ours) – such a legend!

We just left there and the drop off went so much better than expected. I did worry a bit about it. Afterall, Lulu has never been with anyone else than us and she’s been a bit mummy and daddy sick lately. So far so good! To be honest I am mainly concerned that Lulu will be quite a handfull for Sophie the Legend if she gets sad. Having a crying baby is never fun, let alone if it’s not yours. I mean, I know Lulu will be absolutely fine – even if she cries. She will be cuddled and kissed all night long, I’m sure. Fingers crossed they will all have a hyggelig time

Meanwhile Abby and Billie are being looked after at home by our neighbour who is a such a darling. She’s a stewardesse and only got back from an overseas flight this afternoon. Thank God the “horrible” cyclone buggered off, so she could fly in today. The girls are loving her and they could not be happier being there.

Our Brissy village might be small, but it’s a good one.

So yeah, Red Hot Chili Peppers – at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Brisbane Entertainment Centre. That sounds like it would be a venue in, like, Brisbane, right?

We thought so. It kinda is and then again not. It’s a 30 minutes drive north of the city, so we have just legt our bikes at home and jumped in our trusty, golden people mover instead.

So wild & free!

The tickets for the concert is actually my birthday present to Josh. He has always been a huge fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers, so it was a pretty safe buy. And a present that I benefit from as well. See, I’m clever like that.

We need this tiny break. We haven’t been out together without the girls since NYE, where we went out for dinner and were back before 10pm. Before that we hadn’t been out for years. Literally. Our last concert was Mø in Sydney while I was pregnant with Billie. That’s too long.

Now, I just hope the girls are all doing great and that their babysitters aren’t reaching breaking point anytime soon.

Soon we’ll be singing along to some hits from my teenage years. Can’t fault that. It will be good. Rock on!

❤️

Helicopter Parents In The Making

We felt like naughty, little school kids getting sent to the office, but we did it. We went to the principal’s office to have a chat to her about Abby’s class situation as we will like her to change classes. We have been talking about doing it for a while – basically since Abby started school. Yet, we doubted it a lot during the past weeks. Were we over-concerned? Or over-controlling? Should we just let it go?

Having children is such a constant learning process. As soon as you have adapted to their current development stage they change and their circumstances change as well.

We have never had a school child before and we know that she will have to learn to act withing the immediate school setting she gets put in – she can’t just change teachers or class mates whenever she (or we) feels like it.

However, this is only prep and getting a good start to her school life is so important, so we decided to follow our gut feelings and take action. And I am glad we did.

We Have Tried it Before

Last year, when we just moved to Brisbane, we put Abby and Billie into a preschool which they absolutely hated – not from the word go, but after a short while. It was horrible. Still, we could have said “it will probably get better soon”. We considered doing so. Thinking we were overreacting and that it’s normal that kids are sad when starting a new place.

But it just felt wrong and we had to trust our gut feelings. We moved them to another preschool and it was the best thing we have done for them. The new preschool – the one where Billie is in now – is amazing and the girls immediately blossomed there.

Abby hasn’t been miserable in her current class. She’s doing okay, but she’s not loving it either. Especially socially. She hasn’t really connected with the other children yet – and to be honest, I think there’s already a bit of a toxic environment going on there. A couple of, apparently popular, girls already teaming up ignoring the other girls when they feel like it. Girls! Seriously, they are five years old!

In the other class Abby has a couple of friends already and the girls seem pretty chilled – as well as the teacher.

The chemistry between us and her current teacher could be better. Her way of teaching is quite conservative and old fashioned and I hope the other teacher will suit us and Abby better. You see, to really florish Abby needs to be set free a bit. She is so true to authorities that it almost becomes a hindrance, if you ask me. She will do anything to please the teacher, so if the teacher is very strickt, Abby won’t try to think “out of the box” or follow her own creativity – she will just sit straight up and down (with her hands on her knees, because that’s “the rule”) and “always do as the teacher asks – also when the other kids are being little chatter boxes”.

That ability probably will be a general advantage in this rather conservative australian school system, but if we can push her a bit in the other direction we will. Afterall, I did write a post only this week about how being scared of making mistakes has always been a huge disadvange for me and still is to this very day.

So, Will She Move or Stay?

Anyway, the final decision whether to move her or not will be taken next Friday, when we go there for a follow-up meeting.

The principal took us very serious and her and the two prep teacher will observe Abby during next week and then make a decision based on their findings – together with our informations about Abby’s behaviour before and after school (she has complained about stomach pains a couple of mornings).

No matter what, just the fact that we acted on our concerns feels good. And even if she stays in her current class I hope that her teacher, now being aware of our concerns, will be encouraged to integrate the kids better socially.

School should be fun when you’re only five years old❤️

Being Perfectly Average

I have been struggling with some major, lets call them, self definition issues lately. “Just a mom” doesn’t cut it anymore, but who am I, these days? Well, maybe I just need to get a hobby. Who knows.

I just feel like I am standing at a cross road – and I cannot move. I just stand here like a fool. But I want to move. I want to go somewhere. Anywhere, really. And then again…I want to lead the way. But I feel lost. And it frustrates me. Mainly because I do have some ideas I wish to follow. E.G. I want to give this little blogging adventure of mine a real go, but I hit the wall again and again. Ouch! Here’s why. Or at least here’s a bit of the ‘why’…

I am a perfectionist.

Yeah right, what a silly statement from someone who’s clothes are cringled and who’s house is a mess. Hang in there…

I also have a relatively intelligent head put on to my body. Ohh! An even more ridiculous statement to throw out into the open, from someone who never even managed to pass her studies back in the day. Well, we’re not talking mensa smart here, but I get around, right… (even if Josh did score higher in the intelligence test we took a while back. Yes we did).

Sounds like a great combo, ay. Unfortunately it can be a troubled one. You see, I am a smart, lazy perfectionist.

True story, I don’t make this shit up – I have it from my psychiatrist. He was very convincing.

So, what does it even mean? A smart, lazy perfectionist. Well, it means that I can do almost anyything I set my mind to. In theory. In reality, it often means that I don’t even get started on my projects or tasks. I get overwhelmed – because I know that getting it perfect will demand a shit load of work from me. And then I give up beforehand.

A side-effect, or a side order, of this mind of mine is that I am ridiculously scared of mistakes and failure. This being my biggest issue, really. Because we all know that you learn from mistakes – and constantly trying to avoid them or hide from them doesn’t do anyone any good. Ain’t no exciting future in that, I can tell you.

So, bottom line is that I am very aware of my weak points when it comes to self development and I do know what it takes to get somewhere. Anywhere. Unfortunately there’s sometimes an extremely long way from knowing to doing for me – hence me writing this right now.

Old mate psychiatrist also went on with something in the line of “you can do anything if you learn to manage this chaos inside you – but are you really willing? Do you dare?”

Hmmm. I AM willing. And I think I do dare. I am working on this, guys. I have learned that it is okay not to be the best at EVERYTHING. kinda. I have not yet learned to love that I am not good at everything I touch – at first try. But slowly getting there…

My studies commence next week. Last semester I studied two courses; Media & Society and Public Relations. I did fairly good at both and I have come to terms with that being okay. Afterall, I did also have a newborn baby and two additional kids to look after so barely made it to any lectures.

Putting my achievements into context like that is important for me even if it shouldn’t have to be, I guess. For now it makes it easier to have some kind of “excuse”.

I am practicing. I try to not always compare myself to the best. I try to aim less at being the best, but instead doing my best.

I am practicing and I am pretty sure it will take a life time to master. This is in my blood, guys. Hey – my brother have a custom made painting in his house saying “number one, number one, number one, no-one cares about the rest” – it’s two meters high. And red. And there’s a photo of himself in it too. Yeah, that’s where I am coming from. Haha!

Shit man.

Sure, I am in it to win it. Always will be – but I will also try my best to be in it just to have a good time. And learn from my mistakes. No matter what I get into, I hope. So please bare with me if I more consistently spam you with blog posts that aren’t ground breaking, amazingly, fantastic, ‘share it with all of your thousands of besties on Facebook’-good. It’s just me trying to find my way and practicing being okay with being average. Context and excuses, you know.

And just for the record, average can be pretty perfect.

❤️