Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31st

Happy Last Day of January!

So I realize it's been a long while since I've updated my blog. Life over in Denmark has been just a bit crazy lately. ^_^ crazy in a good way though.

I'm still going to Danish Language classes and  so far- so good. I do realize I'm the worst in the class but I'm working on the remedy.  I will say, in general I pretty much zone everything I hear- out. So having ''danish'' tv in the backrground to help me get used to the language is a bit unhelpful because I don't pay any attention to it anyway. So despite being here for 2+ months I don't know near as much as I should. However, one of my classmates I sit next to DOES know her Danish and she's totally the best at helping me out when I need it. So I'm not completely drowning! The whole class is taught in Danish so you really do have to pay some attention. Soon I will be speaking in Danish. And things have been clicking better and better each time I do go to class. So it's definitely helping!

The weather here is getting very cold. I've seen snow flurries floating around when I'm on my way to school. I am looking forward to seeing Denmark in the Summertime. I hear it's nice and I'd like to believe it. And I just recently heard how much daylight Denmark gets when it's not winter and I can't wait! Sounds like the sun doesn't really go down till 11ish and comes back up at 4ish. I know my Mom would live here now. ;)

I went to Copenhagen last weekend and met up with four other au pairs from Finland, Germany, Poland, and Iceland. It was a nice get-away. :D And somewhat profound to be in Denmark with 4 girls from countries other then Denmark. All here working as au pairs. I take the train about 1.5 hours to get into Copenhagen so it's not something I do all the time. Transportation here is super expensive! But going to Copenhagen is worth it. :D

Copenhagen's Fashion week is coming up. I don't know if I'll be able to participate but it sounds like fun. I'd love to see a runway show someday and I'm sure I will.

And now the kids will be back soon- I'll update with a real post next time! :D This was just a pseudo post because it's been awhile and I don't have time to really put thought into what I say.

Take advantage of this being the last day of January and do something absolutely crazy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Budapest, Coffee, and Wine

I had my first real European adventure this last weekend. Around the end of December I decided it was time to start touring the European countries around me- I really didn't have a preference as to where I was going to go, I just had to be able to afford it. Fast forward two weeks- Budapest, Hungary. Absolutely beautiful city. There's an energy to it that I really like and I have a feeling that it has something to do with the many coffee shops everywhere. You see, the coffee culture hasn't hit Denmark yet. I'll give them 10 years. 

Honestly- I love being in Denmark but I don't quite understand how a coffee addict like myself ended up in a country with no Starbucks. The only Starbucks that exists in my area is in the Copenhagen airport.  How much do you want to bet that I had a ''real'' coffee before my flight? 

If you ever have a chance to see Budapest, I'd definitely recommend it. Here's a couple pics of me in Budapest that my photographer friend took. 

To get back home I had to take almost every form of transportation available besides a boat. 3 metro trains, 2 buses, one plane, and 2 trains. Sunday was a long day. :D

My home state is Washington and I just want to give a shout out to our wine there. Apparently it MUST be good because they served it at Obama's big State dinner where none other then Jackie Chan attended! And of course, the Chinese President Hu Jintao... And from the Washington Examiner:

"Obama repeatedly stressed that he is seeking "a level playing field" for U.S. companies doing business with China. The White House has been pressuring China on economic issues that include monetary policy and trade imbalance."

That's all very well to want a level playing field but in my opinion, when you owe someone a large sum of money you pretty much lose your chance at a level playing field. Just saying. It is a nice picture to dream about. However, I don't think the Chinese politicians like Americans too much. I seem to recall Sha Zukang saying just that at one point. I think he had too much to drink before he said that though- but I can't quite remember. 

But all of that really won't matter by December 2012 seeing as we will all be dead.. Or at least George Lucas thinks we'll be dead. At least we have until 2012- Dr. Kermit Gosnell made it so quite a few wouldn't ever even have the chance of dying on 2012.  From we have:

“I am aware that abortion is a hot-button topic,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “But as district attorney, my job is to carry out the law. A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law. A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law.”

I really don't care what your opinion on abortion is... the whole thing is really awful and I hope he gets the full extent of whatever they can give him when it comes to the law. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Reflection Two


Understanding vs. Agreeing


The other day I was loading the dishwasher and the silverware caught my eye. I have always wondered and I STILL want to know what is the proper way to load silverware. A lot of people load ''face'' side up and I don't understand that for two reason- 1) When the clean forks/knives/spoons are used, essentially someone's grimy fingers have been all over what you are about to put in your mouth. 2) When you are unloading you are more likely to ''accidentally'' stab yourself with the face up knives then if they were face down.

So, do you load silverware ''face up'' or ''face down?" And why? Because in my experience I see more people loading it face up then face down.  

That being said- usually I don't think any less of a person who puts silverware in the ''wrong'' way but sometimes in life we automatically think people who do things in a different manner then what we are used to are doing things the wrong way. And it's easy to get annoyed because they are obviously just not getting it!  

And you can face something like that two ways. One- get extremely frusterated (which sometimes there is no way around that one). Two- make a choice not to get extremely frusterated. 

Sometimes people do things differently and instead of automatically pushing the way you do things onto them- first, understand why they do what they do. Not always, but usually, there is a reason for it - even if the reason seems silly at least you are aware of it. Second, there's always something you can take away and learn- even if it's "I will never ever do that." Three, if you criticize and tell people how wrong they are- they will not listen to you and you will lose any sort of positive influence. And why should they listen to you? You have succeeded in raising their defenses. 

So in conclusion, sometimes open communcation and being willing to compromise just a  little makes all the difference in the world. You can actually walk away learning something that you wouldn't have if you had not been willing to see another's view point. And I did not say agree. Understanding and Agreeing are two completely different subjects. 

And not to rehash everything over and over- I have taken the liberty to copy and paste a section from an article in the Hawaiian Reporter. I found the breakdown of what the money was spent on to be interesting:

Obama’s trip to Oahu has proved much pricier to state and federal taxpayers.
In a Hawaii Reporter story published last week, some of the cost estimates included:
  • Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One: $1 million (GAO estimates)
  • Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)
  • Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800
  • Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs
  • Local police overtime: $250,000 (2009 costs reported by Honolulu Police Department)
  • Ambulance: $10,000 (City Spokesperson)
  • TOTAL COST: $1,474,200
  • Rental of office building in Kailua on canal
  • Security upgrades and additional phone lines to private homes where Obama and friends are staying
  • Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel
  • Surveillance before the President arrives
  • Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President

 Beyond the Obama's though- let's explore your cellphone. Police now have the right to search through your phone if you are arrested. I don't even think it matters what you are arrested for- they still have the liberty to go look through all your emails/text messages/ etc... I find that somewhat disturbing. Not because I have anything to hide but because it's an invasion of my personal property. So, go ahead and start password protecting your cellphone. You never know when it might come in handy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year 2011

            Happy New Year everyone! 

"Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it." 
— L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

Same can be said for 2011- so let's make it a good one! Take advantage of it being a new year and instead of writing a list of everything you want to do better/new/differently - start doing them! We don't get to the top of the mountain if we spend all our time planning on it. Sometimes you just have to go for it, one step at a time. 

So this month in my au pair household we are trying something new. We have a set amount we can spend on grocceries for the next 3 months. We are in competition with another family to not spend more then that. But how exactly does one keep track of everything they spend?  That question had me thinking today because I will most likely be the person responsible for keeping track of where the money goes. On my last computer I had the program Quicken which can be fantastic if you are really into finances and keeping track of things. My current computer does not have Quicken and I was thinking of something a little bit simpler because all I'm doing is keeping track of receipts. Today I started looking online for a bit of help and came up with a solution.

It wasn't my first choice but due to living outside the USA I couldn't be picky. A lot of free software has restrictions as to where it is used and living in Denmark makes it difficult to find something. This site allows you to log how much you spend or receive in particular categories. All I need it to do is keep track of groceries and it looks just about perfect for that. I'll still have to investigate it more though and try it out. 

Now, the first part to tracking and saving money is usually finding out what you are spending it on. Often times it's the little things that add up- kind of like, going shopping and buying a bottle of water while you are out. It doesn't cost much, but multiply it by how many times you do that a week, x52 weeks.  So the first two weeks of January will likely entail finding out where the money goes. The second two will be used to figure out how to cut back. 

One other site that looked interesting was:

You can't use it outside the US as far as I know- however it would have been my first choice. 

I don't think my host family and I are the only one's who could learn how to become more money concious. I read a quote the other day which talked about the Obama's Christmas vacation costing us about $1.5 million. OUCH? Like really? Maybe we all have to try to do things a bit less expensively. A few less trips to Hawaii.... a few less golfing days.... but hey, you're only president/president's wife/president's kids for a few years, so why not take advantage of it? And have you ever noticed how much easier it is to spend someone elses money and how you usually think twice when it comes to spending your own money? Maybe if they pulled the money out of their own pockets they would spend less. 

CHEERS for the new year!