Copenhagen by foot

Nyhavn Canal

We are in Copenhagen for a couple weeks and yesterday was our first “real” day here. Jet lag and travel took up the first 48 hours of our get-away but we made up for it walking all over Copenhagen yesterday.

Day 2, Copenhagen sights

We hit up some of the most recognizable sights just to see them, get our bearings, and to help us way-find while we’re still here. We rented a house via Airbnb right around the blue circle region and walked all the way into the heart of Copenhagen and sought out the red-circle area’s on our 8 1/2 mile trek yesterday.

Here’s what we saw:

Copenhagen

We stopped for a to-go coffee from Mad Kaffe and made a mental note to spend more time here in the coming weeks. Tables outside, blankets, candles flickering. A very hyggelig atmosphere. (Hygge – pronounced “HOO-GA”) Hygge isn’t a buzz word here, it’s a way of life … and I am all in.

Streets of Copenhagen

Streets of Copenhagen

We made our way towards the Torvehallerne KBH market for lunch … think Pikes Place in Seattle, only less crowded. There is no throwing fish, but there’s a lot of fish to see. Also an open air farmers market and flower market. THE FLOWERS.

Smørrebrød

Fresh flowers

We walked around to check everything out and settled on trying our first Smørrebrød of the trip, choosing a salmon salad with roe and a chicken salad open-faced sandwich, a couple of strange fruits we had never tried before and a beer for Aaron and I to share, and a locally made pop for the kids to share.

Lunch at Torvehallerne KBH

After lunch, the kids each got a treat from the market. So many treats everywhere. It’s a serious business, from what I read – it’s also part of the Hygge lifestyle; something warm to drink and something sweet to eat, preferably to share. (They’re working on the sharing part 😉 )

Lunch at Torvehallerne KBH

We took their treats to go and walked towards Ørstedparken, a park, on our way to Nyhavn (pronounced “NEW-HOW”) for a canal tour.

Ørstedparken

Ørstedparken

Ørstedparken

We stumbled on some beautiful sights, signs of spring, and play-areas for children. The children are feerer here, people trust each other. And parenting sounds the same in every language.

On our way towards Nyhavn for a canal tour, we walked along the water and found one of the swim harbors.

Swim harbors

You would think it’s too cold to swim, but we saw locals taking a dip on the other side of the harbor – and as we were walking along, we watched a man strip down to his boxers and jump right in. (I’m assuming he just finished working out, as we were next to a gym, but who knows.) Aaron was inspired. There will be polar-dips in our future here.

The water - so clear!

NYHAVN

Nyhavn

Such a gem! We’ll be back here. We took one of the canal tours to see the city by water, it was chilly – but what we noticed about Copenhagen is that people just get on with life. The cold, and even rain, doesn’t stop them from commuting by bike or walking. They carry their babies in baskets if they’re on foot and without a stroller, or on the front of their bikes. Life goes on. And on and on and on. It was beautiful, actually. To see so many people still living and not holed up in their houses, away, because of some chilly weather.

Canal tour

Canal tour out of Nyhavn Canal

On one of the bridges over the canal – there’s Love Locks on the bridge, like in Paris.

Love locks on Nyhavn Canal

After the canal tour we needed to warm-up so we looked for a place to sit inside. We struck out a few times before settling on a Belgian Waffle + ice cream place. Our daughter was looking for a specific place and we couldn’t find it – so we just went here.

Sweet treat :: Nyhavn

Sweet treat :: Nyhavn

By now we were all feeling the 8+ miles we had logged on our feet, a little chilly, tired and ready for a meal. Aaron wanted to get to a Fish market – one of the stops made on Someone Feed Phil (which is a docu-series on Netflix, that if you are curious, you should very much watch. I dare you not to love him.)

But he accidentitally led us all back to where we started at the Torvehallerne KBH. We quickly course-corrected and went straight for DØP, instead.

DØP hot dogs

I have to be honest, we went back for seconds.

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

DØP hot dogs

I regret nothing.

Between all of us, we tried: The roasted hotdog, the French hotdog, the goat hotdog, the spicy beef hotdog, and the pork sausage with garlic.

We’ll be stopping here again and again.

After a good nights rest and still not quite being on Copenhagen time, we’re going very slow today.

Home for a couple weeks - Airbnb

A few tips and things to look forward to:

Traveling with teenagers is still traveling with teenagers 😉 We’re loving this time together as a family, but don’t you worry – we are all still so very human. Even in Copenhagen! HUMAN HUMAN HUMAN.

Thursday we signed up for a Hygge walking tour through Airbnb Experiences. Can’t wait to see parts of Copenhagen from a local’s perspective and get even more ideas and tips of what we should be sure to see/do while here.

We plan on getting Copenhagen Cards so we can sight-see a number of different things while we’re here.

Tivoli opens April 4th – and we will be there with bells on! (We walked past it yesterday on our walk into the center of Copenhagen, I think we’re all equally as excited to experience this gem)

Before we left on our trip, the night before, I finally had a restful nights sleep. (It’s been a while, things have been stressful and up in the air in a variety of different ways, and life was feeling heavy, not in a looming doom sort of way, just responsibility. This trip has been a beacon for us, in more ways than we could even know.) Any way – before I woke up Sunday morning I remember thinking “this trip is going to be two weeks of joy!” and I have to tell you … that’s what I’m getting out of this. A cup that runeth over. Refilled.

As we stop to rest on this trip, or find wifi to check our maps or upload a photo, I’m jotting down little memories of what I see:

“Old men riding bikes while smoking cigarettes. Blankets over chairs, candles flickering, outside bistro seating under low lighting and heaters. Native language that sounds like speaking poetry underwater.”

And I’m so thankful to be here, now.

How to feel softer

The amount of posts I’ve started writing during a storm are probably outnumbered by any other criteria for this space. We are experiencing a good ol’ fashion cleanse from the Winter here in West Michigan, right now. This minute. The skies opened with a crack and she has been pouring it on us for minutes. Which, when you’re still enough, feels like hours.

And. It. Is. Glorious.

I have my “Hallelujah” playlist on Spotify playing in the background. Ok, the foreground. Because it’s LOUD. The rain is the staccato behind everything else.

I can’t tell you why I love the rain so much. I always have. I remember the smell of the rain in Nigeria and the dust rising as it pounded the earth right outside of our screened porch. Everything got dirty, which was funny, because rain usually cleans things off. But in Africa – everything is dirt and dry and still. Until it rains. And then everything is sprayed in the evidence that the earth can still give birth.

So, hi. It’s been awhile since I’ve ripped off a bandaid and bled here. Not that this is what I do here, on the regular. But I miss having a space to chronicle parts of my life I want to remember. The gritty, the dirty, the salvation of it all. I want to see pools of blood to recognize where the healing came from.

Parenting is a constant in my life. We’re raising kids and we went from the Easter-Basket phase to the Barf-On-The-Side-Of-The-Road phase. We are constantly hungover from parenting.

It’s still sublime, I’m obsessed with my kids. I love them so much, it actually hurts. But also? I lose my religion on the daily. I wonder if we’ve done everything wrong, often. I fret over things that are not actually connected to me, but because my kid(s) are experiencing it – I do too. I continue to have weird correlations with their ages, although less and less with such a force of personal reconciliation and more, now, with a reckoning of understanding that I was not ever, nor was I ever going to be, prepared for this.

Sometimes Aaron and I will think back to when we were first married and we just laugh. I had nieces and nephews, I was an avid babysitter and caregiver. We had our shit together, or so we thought. And then we had our own kids – and it’s adorable, really. I’m so glad we were so blind about it, to be completely honest. How pure and unfretted and rare it was to walk into being a mother without fear. It was everything I ever wanted. To be pregnant and have babies and raise a family. God. Yes.

Still is.

Is it harder now because it’s almost over? Because I don’t know who I am, without them, any more? Because I can see down the road and the next exit is college? I know where this is going. They are going to grow up and our of my house. Out of my immediate care. She is going to fall in love and he is going to run so fast towards his goals we won’t know he left until he’s already out the door. They’re going to leave.

I want them to. They need to. This is healthy. This is what we want, what we’re working towards. And they can always come back, oh I hope they come back. But they’re going to leave. They will outgrow this house and our traditions and memories and they’ll brave a new trail and make their own paths and I’ll be the first one on the sidelines to cheer my fool-head off at them. I can’t wait.

It’s going to be so good.

It is.

But it’s going to be so soon. And I’m a mess about it. It’s not over yet and I’m mourning the end. It has been the most delight I’ve ever experienced in all of my life, to be a mother. Their mother.

I wonder if we’ll remember the smell of this rain. How it baptized me from everything still and dry and dirty and left the evidence all over my life that I gave birth …

to them.

Mothers Day 2008

As I end this post the song ‘I Get To Love You‘ by Ruelle is playing, and it’s everything.

xoxo

Thoughts from the polar vortex of 2019

There’ve been a number of different themes floating around my head/heart lately. Boundaries, Permanence, Patience. They’ve been poking around like those little sucker fish that hitch a ride on larger species, just kind of there. Waiting, often annoying me or nagging me or sucking me dry of my limited resources while other times I can go entire days without knowing they’re still there.

But, it’s the sixth snow-day in a row for my kids and I found myself silently saying “just wait til next week.” I have honed my ability to lower my expectations over the years to a bit of a science of Jodi. I know what it feels like to build, build, build until the only thing left is to watch something fall or, maybe, how it feels to latch on to something someone said (leading) and start to think in absolutes about a situation, event, or idea only to feel completely gutted and like I got the wind knocked out of me when things don’t go the way I had imagined.

When our last school-week ended with a snow-day and the weather looked ominous, I started preparing for the whole week home. I figured if they went back to school at any time, that would be a bonus, but mostly I was just ready to hunker down, go very slow, and shovel a ton of snow. Guess how this week turned out?

Home every day, all day. I yelled more than I wanted to, there was way more screen time than I thought I would allow, but there were still playdates, I cleaned and organized my entire kitchen, I watched some fun shows, we played games and as it started to feel less like the apocalypse we started venturing out of the house. To the store, the library, to see the water.

Polar Vortex 2019

I stayed off my phone as much as possible, misery loves company and I was trying so hard to not go down there. I’ve had years where snow-days threw everything off and instead of just slowing down and taking it as it came, I fretted over the things I wasn’t able to do or the places I wasn’t able to go. I didn’t know how to recalibrate. I think I’m still learning, but I also didn’t engage in the practice of complaining.

And those little sucker fish; Boundaries, Permanence, and Patience kept pace with me as I slowed down. I wasn’t gracious about it, like I said, I yelled more than I wanted to – but I also apologized more than I used to and took more deep breaths. I don’t want my kids to remember their days home with me as being an inconvenience for me.

I had to cancel plans I had made, I had to reprioritize my days according to my kids’ needs and wants, every night before I went to bed I had to decide if I was going to get up tomorrow and try again, and not disappear, as is also my M.O. There were a few mid-day cocktails. But there was also a lot of laughter. My kids (and I) finally got bored enough to get curious again.

Last night we watched ‘Patch Adams’ as a family and after the credits rolled we googled Hunter Patch Adams and found his blog and a recent post with a video of Patch talking about books.

He’s in the same league as Bob Goff, for me. When people lead with their passions as publicly and unapologetically as they seem to, I can’t help but be a fan. I am a serious fan-girl of seeing other people’s fires lit and glowing white hot. And I think I like to believe that people are mostly good and that we’re all working something out and that laughter is often the boat that outlasts the storm.

And I went ahead and ordered David Abram’s, ‘The Spell of Sensuous’, from the library that Patch recommends in his video. As well as checked out a small army of books for garden planning and landscaping ideas, because along with my little suckers of Boundaries, Permanence, and Patience … I’ve grown wildly in my ability to rest in Hope.

Update on our No-vember. (A month without spending anything extra)

You can catch up on the how and why here but just in case you’re walking into this post wondering where this is coming from …

What exactly is a no-spend month?

To be overly simple, it’s a month with no extra spending. Keeping the lights on and food in our bellies isn’t part of the “No-November” for us. If we have a bill, we pay it. If we need groceries, we pick them up. If there was a pre-planned event, we attend. It’s not saying no to having fun or being social, it’s just taking a month to recalibrate and evaluate where the funds are going by stopping the flow of all the extra’s.

No coffee’s from Starbucks, no lunch dates or dinners out, no last minute “I’m bored” spending on the weekends. Just, not this month.

And it’s officially over! The last 11 days were more difficult than the first 19. We had a school break in there, a holiday, a snow day. A lot of down time, is what I’m getting at, and while we stuck to our no-spend month … it’s true you can’t buy happiness, but you can delay sadness.

I had guessed we’d be “over” in our grocery budget but we ended the month within $100 of our usual burn rate at the grocery store – and without any eating out, this felt like a feat. But clearly a doable one.

We borrowed puzzles, drank a lot of hot chocolate at home, had friends over, hung out with family, went for walks, and the kids played with the chickens, it was all very lovely in hindsight.

We went a little stir crazy (Aaron and I more than the kids) BUT it was honestly eye-opening to do this and I’m so glad we tried it, for a few reasons:

We spent less than half what we normally would.

Which definitely made the month of no spending worth it, in my book. I’m the numbers person in our family, so it is very interesting to me to see what we went without and how that affects the bottom line. We can get comfortable and stop practicing discernment or patience in our spending, especially this time of year.

We appreciated what we already have.

Games, subscriptions, the library, relationships, natural resources. We definitely made the most of what we had, even though there were days we were tired of being creative or trying to think a different way.

This was more of a mindset change, and one we struggled with as a whole family, than anything else. Which is the true nugget of this month, I think.

One evening my daughter led a workshop for our family on how to make ornaments out of paper. We already had the paper and the string, even though she wanted to go get additional items like stickers or prettier paper or glitter, we all had to think outside the box at different times to just use what we had. And now our house is colorful, and it means something to all of us.

I actually made money.

We had a few things lying around that didn’t work for us any more, either furniture we no longer had a use for or nice items the kids grew out of – and I sold them. I also took a temporary job for part of November and booked multiple photoshoots this month. Which is not something I had planned on or even thought of as a bonus to a month without spending.

What wasn’t included.

You get to make up your own rules and no one is keeping score 😉

For our family – this is what we spent money on this month:
My medications and all the B.S. that goes with being diabetic
Groceries (food and drinks, people. We didn’t eat ramen all month)
Our monthly bills (gas, electric, mortgage, investments, water, trash)
Gas for our cars
And we did use a gift certificate for free pizza one evening

We also had already purchased tickets before November for a few events and even a girls getaway weekend for me and we happily attended.

Now, for the nitty-gritty:

We spent $71.15 that technically we weren’t supposed to which included Aaron’s coffee on the weekends (read more about that here), my oopsie lunch at the beginning of the month, and 2 “breaks” on different weekends for coffee out as a family.

All in all, a good reminder of how much we already have & how little we really need, but most of all, what matters most.

And I would totally do it again! Maybe once a year, but not during the summer 😉

Saturday morning

😍

How and why we’re doing a no-spend month.

I’ve casually mentioned the fact that we are doing a no-spend month on Instagram and gotten some questions about it. I planned to write a recap before the end of the year but thought I could tackle some of the FAQ’s here before the end of the month, while I’m still in the thick of it.

So, What exactly is a no-spend month?

To be overly simple, it’s a month with no extra spending. Keeping the lights on and food in our bellies isn’t part of the “No-November” for us. If we have a bill, we pay it. If we need groceries, we pick them up. If there was a pre-planned event, we attend. It’s not saying no to having fun or being social, it’s just taking a month to recalibrate and evaluate where the funds are going by stopping the flow of all the extra’s.

No coffee’s from Starbucks, no lunch dates or dinners out, no last minute “I’m bored” spending on the weekends. Just, not this month. Not right now. No.

I’ve read about something similar before, doing a spending-ban for a period of time and then Young House Love did a shopping ban for a month on home-related stuff and talked about it on their podcast this summer (or within the last year, I maybe just finally listened to them in the last few months). And that was definitely in the back of my head when coming up with the how’s and why’s for us, too.

Why November? Why now?

For us, it’s when we needed it. We had a couple home updates happen quicker than we anticipated them coming due, even though we were planning ahead for them and we knew the next few months there would be higher-than-normal spending in a few different areas. So, it was basically “can we do this” and “now seems like a good time to try.”

How are you getting your kids on-board with the idea? Are they participating?

The first couple weeks there was a lot of reminding them that this was No-November. As in, they would have ideas for things to do as a family (or even with a friend) and we would have to offer up alternatives because this month, we would remind them, we weren’t spending money on those kinds of things (We wouldn’t be paying for the trampoline park, bowling, going to movies, family dinner out or snacks from the gas station …). Which didn’t mean we couldn’t have any fun or go out or have a social life. It just meant we had to be a little more creative with how we did those things.

With our kids at ages 13 and 10, they get to decide whether or not their personal finances are something they’re limiting this month, as well. So, no, we aren’t making them do it. If they want to get fro-yo with a friend, they absolutely can … if they have the money to pay for it themselves.

This weekend we ventured out to a winter market downtown where we live – most of us just looked and enjoyed being out without buying anything or spending money, but our daughter wanted to purchase some small items, and she did. She was very pleased with her purchases and it was fun to watch her make those decisions with her money.

What are you doing, instead of what you normally would, to save money?

We are having so much fun! Instead of grabbing coffee at a coffee shop (save for Aaron, more on that soon) I’m inviting friends over or meeting up at a park with coffee from home and it’s been SO RICH. Instead of an annual shopping trip with my mom, this year, we did a game-day and baking-day at her house. Instead of restaurant meals we hosted a game night with family & friends. Instead of buying holiday-themed items to decorate, I’m making what I can with what we have, like this wreath. I made it out of what we had laying around in the yard. All of it.

Wreath made from what we have laying around in the yard

Our daughter did a “Chopped Challenge” with a friend one weekend with items we had in our pantry or freezer that needed to be used instead of renting a movie. We are definitely going out on the weekends – we just go to look, if it’s a market or craft show, we go for hikes, we go for drives.

I mentioned earlier that Aaron is still getting his coffee at the coffee shop, here’s why: Monday-Friday this is a business expense but the weekends he still makes his daily stop at the coffee shop and I will never not let him do this. It’s one of the small joys that just doesn’t cost enough to say “we need to do without this” and the whole “No-November” isn’t really a challenge for him. He says no to himself and his wants almost exclusively.

How do you think you’ve done so far? Have you noticed a difference?

Honestly, it’s been fun and not that hard. Now – with that said, I think we probably will end the month spending more in groceries than normal because every. single. meal. is being made at home (maybe the hardest part for me). My kids eat hot lunch at school about 50% of the time between the two of them.

We’ve “messed up” a couple times, too. The very first day of November I went to lunch with a friend and the morning of our son’s 5K this month was a cold and blustery morning and we stopped for to-go coffees for my daughter and I to stay warm. The “whoopsies” totaled less than $30 all together.

I definitely think about what I’m buying, or about to buy, every time I’m standing in a check out lane. Grocery stores sell more than just groceries, which has been a weird loop-hole I keep finding myself in. Somehow I think I can justify extra’s if they end up on the grocery bill … but I think I’ve talked myself out of every one so far. Except for the special trips for the ingredients to queso. I don’t know what to tell you there. It’s probably filling the need I have for a trip through a drive-through or convenient food-grab.

What do you miss the most?

Clearly, I miss convenience. About once a week I would run through Jimmy Johns for an un-wich for lunch, and now I stare into my fridge hoping an arm will just extend with a ready-made option for me. I’m tired of making everything. And it’s been interesting to realize how often we would spend money before we’d think about other, possibly free, options.

However, I’m glad Aaron is usually up for my hair-brained ideas and there wasn’t any arm-twisting involved in setting this month up for success. If a month is too long for you to consider, try one weekend, one week or even something like Monday-Thursday of no spending at all.

If you try it, let me know how it goes for you! I’ll update this post at the end of the month with my final thoughts (and conclusion).