Category Archives: Ellen

First one, and then the other

There are, generally speaking, two phases of life. How long each lasts varies on the individual and circumstance, but these two phases and the order in which they come are universal.

During the first phase, one longs for adventure. Predictability is boring, if not oppressive. During this phase the world, as it stands, seems like evidence that previous generations either lacked imagination, or were hopelessly incompetent.

The second phase is the opposite. Experience teaches you, one way or the other, that everything you have might be taken away from you at any time, for no good reason, forever. This is the stage were you’re smart enough to enjoy things you took for granted when you were young, like breakfast. Or going for a walk. Or merely having a reliably affable friend or family member.

At first things can’t change fast enough, and then things change too fast. We spend the first part of our lives looking for a fast forward button, and the second looking for a pause button.

It’s not as though one can’t oscillate a bit. At times when you’re young — if you’re lucky — you cherish the moment and wish things wouldn’t change too fast. And at times when you’re older you get restless or frustrated with aspects of your life, but in general once you enter the second stage you don’t go back.

Perhaps it’s as simple as being restless and greedy when you’re stupid enough to think that you have nothing to lose and are owed more than you’re getting. Read More →

Five years of Ellen

Ellen turned five today, and I couldn't be more proud of the sweet, creative, and sensitive girl she's turning out to be

Two rays of sunshine

Two rays of sunshine on a cold, grey Sunday morning.

June EllenJune Ellen

A cyclist is born

In Febuary, for Ellen’s fourth birthday, we bought her a bike. She picked it out herself, and seemed very pleased. But it soon became clear that her pleasure was mostly derived from ownership itself. She had no real interest in riding it. Every few weekends or so we’d take her out to the street and she would object, and say she couldn’t, and whine about going inside.

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And the, a couple weeks ago — out of nowhere — she asked me if she could ride her bike when we got home. I helped her get it out of the garage, and within ten minutes she was starting and stopping on her own (her balance was learned long ago, on a “running bike”, or bike without pedals.) Now she’s on to experiment with things like balancing while stopped, and making u-turns without putting her feet down.


DSC_2084.JPG DSC_2066.JPG The beach (Elsegårde Strand)

In Denmark there is a efterårsferie (“fall vacation”) — a week in the fall when people often travel or stay at a summer house. This year Lisbeth’s parents rented a house on the beach near Ebeltoft (about an hour from Århus and about four hours from Copenhagen.)

Ellen naps in the rental car On the ferry between Sjællands Odde and Århus On the ferry between Sjællands Odde and Århus

I’ve heard a lot about the whole summer house experience, but this was really the first time I’d tried it for myself. Unfortunately I had a deadline at work that, coupled with a vicious migraine, prevented me from enjoying myself as much as I’d like, but I can see the appeal. Good food, family, leisurely walks — not much to complain about.

Elsegårde Strand Lisbeth A summer house at Elsegårde Strand

One thing that struck me was how much my perception of size has changed. Read More →

Summer Vacation 2013

This summer, our vacation was a little different. Instead of flying directly to the US from Copenhagen, we flew to Frankfurt first, where we had a five hour layover before flying on to Denver.

A five hour layover is something I would have liked to avoid before I had kids, but a layover is your friend when you’re traveling with energetic little people who are used to being able to run around all day long.

Vacation! Waiting in Copenhagen for our flight to Frankfurt Waiting in Frankfurt for our flight to Denver Waiting in Frankfurt for our flight to Denver Waiting in Frankfurt for our flight to Denver Waiting in Frankfurt for our flight to Denver Got a bassinet on the plane (whew!)

Except for a few minutes of icy fear caused by “ESTA” (the for-profit private agency that handles US Visas) when they refused to let Lisbeth board the flight despite the fact that she had a valid visa, it was a pleasant time. But the best part of this itinerary was that once we made the long flight to the US, we were done. That’s a lot nicer than having to face a domestic flight after the Atlantic flight.

Denver, staying with Sarah and Troy Denver, staying with Sarah and Troy Denver, staying with Sarah and Troy
In Denver we stayed with my cousin Sarah and her husband Troy. Read More →

Vacation 2012

This year we did something we’d been meaning to do for a while: on the way to New Mexico we stayed in Annapolis for a few days, where my cousin Desmond and his wife live.

At the marina in Annapolis Isabelle and her mother Irma Lunch in town with Irma and IsabelleDSC_2665.JPG At the mall in Annapolis Isabelle at the mall in Annapolis

Unfortunately Desmond was called away for work prior to our arrival, but we had a great time anyway. Irma is a great hostess (and an amazing cook — she made us Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese dishes, each one delicious) but she’s also just a lot of fun. It was great to have  a chance to get to know her better. Our visit was made even better because Isabelle and Ellen had a great time playing together. Long after we left, Ellen kept asking when we were going back to Isabelle’s house.

Isabelle and Ellen burn off some energy after eating ice cream DSC_2576.JPG DSC_2577.JPG

Desmond and Irma live in Annapolis because it’s near to Washington DC, where Desmond works. So we naturally felt like we had to go into DC and see the sights. And so we did. But there is no way to compare what we saw with what we would have seen had we not had two hot and sticky kids with us. We managed to see the World War II memorial and get a glimpse of the White House, and then we were more than ready to call it a day.

Dragging two kids into DC during 'Rolling Thunder' has a way of melting your brain Ellen at the National World War II Memorial At The White House

So, after a few days on the East Coast, we were ready to take the relatively short flight (four hours) to New Mexico, where we spent the rest of the vacation. Read More →

Spring has sprung

Winter is over! (And to celebrate, I’m shooting two stops overexposed.)

Lisbeth Ellen Ellen

I like to tease the Danes for their exuberance when the sun starts to spend more time in the sky. They act like they’re kids and Christmas has arrived without warning.

Ellen The June-bug The June-bug

They all rush out at once, and stand in parks, on street corners, and on terraces, close their eyes, and bask in the sunlight. On the first warm day of the year, you can’t find a grumpy Dane in the whole of Denmark.

Happy June-bug DSC_1666.JPG Lisbeth

But I have to admit spring in Denmark is fantastic. It comes on so suddenly, and in such sharp contrast to the winter… each year I spend less time teasing and more time quietly soaking up the sunlight.


The current price of thirty minutes of quiet? One piece of paper. (That’s a damn good deal.)

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Ellen turns three

Ellen turns three today. We celebrated her birthday on Sunday, and, despite the fact that she looks a little sad in some of the pictures, she had a good day. Ellen’s cousin Marie also has a birthday in February (she turned 16 on the 9th), so there was plenty to celebrate.

 DSC_1071.JPG The table is set, the guests are on their way... and where are the gifts!? DSC_1119.JPG

This was the first birthday where she understood the concept. She talked about it for weeks in advance. She knew she was going from two to three, and she knew that gifts were going to be part of the deal.

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She also understood (due to the diligent repetition by her parents) Read More →