Now that I’ve put it out there, I feel an obligation to write. I said I’d be writing more to anyone reading this and so I feel like I must make that happen. Just because I said I it was a goal of mine.

I’ve heard it said that you share your “do more” goals with friends and keep the “give up” goals to yourself. Or is it the other way around? I sort of think that regardless of the type of goals, we need to share them with someone if we really want to make them happen. For example, we have a goal-setting dinner as a family on New Year’s day. It’s part of our tradition with collards and black-eyed peas and driving to the beach to have a picnic in the freezing cold where we can feel the energy of a fresh start to the year. We each think about what we want to make happen for the year. We write it on a piece of paper and tuck it into these glittery boxes that make the ritual seem extra special. Even Catherine sets some goals.


Usually, we keep the goals private. I’ve never pushed that point with the family as I respect each person’s privacy with their own goals and wishes and dreams. I even wish there were a way Catherine could write goals on her own so she could keep them private if she wants. A couple of times a year, we pull out the boxes at dinner and each look at what we wrote in order to make sure we’re on track to hit them by the end of the year. Sometimes they get discussed. Many times, the goals remain special and private.


This year, we had set a goal to travel internationally, so we made that happen. We had shared that goal with each other and knew it was in our goal boxes. When I left my prior employer and had no income, Brian and I discussed whether to cancel the trip. Knowing it was a goal in our boxes, I thought about it a little differently. There was already an expectation we would make it happen within the family – and so we did. And wow am I so grateful we did!

I am coming to believe that it really is more powerful to share your goals with someone – all of them. People want to help when they hear them. People want to encourage you – hold you accountable – help you make it – all because it seems it’s human nature to want to see people do what they say they want to do. And sharing the goal seems to set an expectation in the mind that it will happen. I wonder if neuroscience can prove that yet?

I think this time, in January, we may do it differently and share our goals with each other. Because a goal shared is much more likely to find its way to accomplishment. Take a risk today. Share one of your goals with someone and see what happens. If it’s too scary to tell your spouse or best friend, then tell a stranger waiting in the grocery line while you’re chatting. Sometimes it’s easier to share the big stuff with someone who isn’t so intimate.

I find that the act of sharing my goals – as wild and “impossible” as some of them are – starts to build hope. And hope builds action. And action brings results. And that gets us past our own disabilities.


Some days, I don’t know what to write. And when I don’t know what to write, I simply don’t. I’m learning that there is a discipline writers follow to write every day – even if they wind up throwing it all away. That’s always seemed remarkable to me. I typically wait to hear God speak and then write down what he says – more or less. Today, I’m trying it the other way to see what happens.

I’m aiming to write several days a week – not always in my blog. Every day seems a bit much right now. And I have other things I want to write, so there are days set aside for those writings. For example, I have been writing to Sarah since she was born. I tell her about what she’s naturally good at doing and what sort of things I want her to know when she grows up about how her early years were so powerful. I always wished I had something like that to reference, so I figured I would give that to her. I don’t know when I’ll give it to her – maybe as a graduation gift? Or maybe there will simply come a time when it seems she needs to read it. I’m open to how that unfolds.

It’s harder to write when you don’t have God whispering in your ear. I may have to get some writing exercises to see how this progresses. I think I have to be open to how all that unfolds as well. And as I think about it, we have to be open to how everything unfolds. Stress seems to come from resisting the way the unfolding is occurring or from trying to make it unfold in a certain way. Reflecting on this metaphor a bit, I think about various things that unfold – a rose bud, the wrapping on a package, a table cloth, a love letter. We don’t usually restrict or try to control the ways those things unfold. So, why do we do it with our lives? God probably just laughs at us.


Can you imagine if you were looking at a rosebud every day trying to get it to unfold and blossom in the way YOU thought was best or that you wanted? Can you imagine opening a package and trying to unfold it exactly how you wanted rather than being focused on whatever was inside the box? What if instead of just opening up the tablecloth and putting it on the table, regardless of how it unfolded, you studied each fold and debated whether it was a good fold or a bad fold in your head? What if you tried to pull it a certain way as you unfolded it only to realize a wrinkle had formed in the middle – deep within the folds you could see? You’d get out the iron, right? (Not if you’re me! My mother will confirm it’s true that the iron doesn’t fit my hand.) And I feel pretty confident in my belief that no one pays attention to the folds when he or she is unfolding a love letter. We just want to see what beautiful words were written to us. We stay focused on the prize at the end – not the process of getting to the prize.

I think God’s prize for us here on earth is abundance and peace. He says that’s why he came to earth. If we focus on that prize, rather than the manner in which he has wrapped those gifts, we can simply observe the glorious unfolding and watch as the gifts appear. Sure, there may be some wrinkles we didn’t know would be in there – maybe even some stains we can’t remove. And we may have to figure out how to deal with those. Overall, though, we’ll get to witness the extraordinary blossoming that is occurring and we’ll get to experience the abundance and peace that are our gifts.

I keep a quote on my desk from Anais Nin. It seems quite relevant today:

It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before… to test your limits… to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful that the risk it took to blossom.

I hope we can all watch with anticipation as our gifts from God unfold before our very eyes without getting too caught up in the manner in which things in our life are unfolding. If we can do that, believing that the gifts will show themselves even if the unfolding is messy or confusing or not as we would have done it, I believe it’s possible to keep hope alive and keep a spirit of thanksgiving in our hearts.

Take this post as an example. I had no idea where it was going. And look what just unfolded.

Teaching the Basics

“Mom, you can teach Catherine the basics while I go play on the playground. OK? I’ll be on the playground. Have fun Catherine!” Sarah’s voice trailed off as she ran across the tennis court to the gate leading to the playground. We had just finished playing some tennis together while Catherine sat under an umbrella shielded from the sun.  For about 5 minutes, we got Catherine on the court also and Sarah tried to hit balls with her. You can probably imagine how that went. 

In Sarah’s mind her sister just needed some more basic info and then they could play together. My mom brain thought it was cute. My mom brain also thought it absurd.

Or was it?

Left alone on the court with Catherine in the hot sun while Sarah bursts off to the playground, I had a few choices. I could pack her up and take her inside for Sarah to come home a little later. I could set the tennis gear aside and go for a quick walk. I could just stand there and wait. Or – like my brilliant daughter suggested – I could teach Catherine the basics. 

I realized how strange it must look when someone walked by and looked at us on the court. I had Catherine’s hands on the racket showing her the shape and size. I dragged her fingertips across the strings explaining that was the part that hit the ball. And then I let her feel the fuzzy ball. She really liked that and kept her normally curled fingers open wide to feel the rough texture of the ball. I even saw her smile. Then I put her hand on the grip and explained the need to shake hands with the racket, just like my mom had when she declared I needed to learn a lifetime sport – either tennis or golf. 

I thought we were done. And then an image flashed before my eyes – hit the ball and let her feel that. I popped a ball into the air and gently tapped it against the strings toward the fence. Catherine smiled again. 

I kind of beat myself up for not being willing to teach Catherine tennis when Sarah suggested it. I have to confess it seemed rather silly and a waste of time. Contrary to many people’s opinion, I do go through times thinking a lot of what we do with Catherine is wasted energy. I get really down on myself for thinking that way. It’s important to be real about it though. It happens. I’m not always the mom so many people think I am. 

So we hit the ball a whole bunch more times as I realized three profound truths – 1. Always start with the basics, 2. A little child would lead me, and 3. Sometimes you just gotta fake it til it’s fun. Who knows where any of these might lead us.  

I’ve researched the top 10 art museums for kids as well as the Baltimore Museum of Art. None of them are creating the environment we experienced at two galleries in Copenhagen. While USA’s museums have scavenger hunts and books and games to suggest related to the art, I found the activities created in Copenhagen to be inspired. In an art museum, what better way to create curiosity about art than to enable kids to make their own art?

The National Gallery in Copenhagen attracted me by highlighting it’s children’s drawing room. Sarah was immediately intrigued and wanted to go. While there wasn’t much for Catherine to do, sometimes a sister simply has to go along. Sarah loved it so much we went back another day and she drew some more. I loved reading what the museum had to say about drawing.

IMG_0096Sarah chose a statue of a little girl carrying kittens to draw. Brian and Catherine went off to explore. I simply watched, captivated, as i watched my 7-year-old daughter hone her sense of observation.

IMG_0095 IMG_0102 IMG_0103 They also had a children’s area where kids could make sculpture with hot glue guns, paint at an easel, or draw some more. Sarah worked hard on her painting of an airplane and her sculpture of a tree house that had a rope swing and a zip line.

IMG_0236IMG_0240IMG_0247IMG_0249IMG_0260In fact, she felt like she’d worked so hard on them, we had to figure out a way to get them back home with us. Fortunately, a mailing tube at the train station was perfect!

At Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, we found an entire Children’s wing. They approached the kids art program a little differently, which I really liked. Instead of just providing materials and hoping to spark creativity, they tied projects into the exhibits in the museum, so the kids would hopefully understand and appreciate the exhibits more. Making things out of sticks and paper like they do in structures in Africa, gave Sarah a greater interest in the Africa exhibit. And Catherine preferred the 3D opportunities in this museum as well.


The inspiration. Architects are building these structures in Africa to create feelings of community.


Sarah’s has the yellow cone top and Catherine’s is just under it to the right on a blue base.

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Peter Doig works with collage so the kids made a collage to add to this wall in the museum.

Peter Doig works with collage so the kids made a collage to add to this wall in the museum.

The sculpture garden inspired these charms. Sarah made a cat and Catherine and I made a 2 tailed critter.

The sculpture garden inspired these charms. Sarah made a cat and Catherine and I made a 2 tailed critter.


A combination of string and a brush enabled me to make this wheelchair with wings moving toward the light. I didn’t even realize the symbolism until I completed it.

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A combination of string and a brush enabled me to make this wheelchair with wings moving toward the light. I didn't even realize the symbolism until I completed it.

A combination of string and a brush enabled me to make this wheelchair with wings moving toward the light. I didn’t even realize the symbolism until I completed it.


I’d love to know where her imagination was taking her. This was another African structure designed to inspire community.


Having just been dismissed from my employment, I found this to speak right to my soul.


Sarah's two favorite pieces.

One of Sarah’s two favorite pieces. The other is the one above this one.

And the final example of making art was watching Catherine compose music with the camera from this computer. When it “saw” her move, it played music and she responded and seemed to know what she was doing immediately. Art comes in many forms and is one of the best ways to reach people with disabilities in my opinion.

Around Town


The “classic” view of Copenhagen – the neighborhood of Nyhavn. This photo was taken from the bus tour the day we arrived and were having a hard time staying awake.


National Gallery – Not to be confused with the National Museum. Sarah’s walking to the middle of the reflecting pool to sit in that chair in the middle. Wouldn’t you?


Showing off the art after drawing all afternoon.


In Denmark, bottles are marked for recycling. You pay a deposit with every bottle you purchase. Then, you can return the bottles for money. We “paid” for a lot of groceries this way. And many people in CPH pull bottles from the trash to make money. About 4 bottles would get you a buck.


We put Sarah’s Fanta bottle in right as they needed to change the crushed bottle container. She found her bottle sitting on top – the one with the orange label.


One of the most interesting things we learned is that people in CPH believe there should be life in the cemetery. So they are often designed like beautiful gardens and on nice days, people go there for picnics and sunbathing and to play games. I like this idea.

Hans Christian Andersen is from Copenhagen and this statue of The Little Mermaid is the most visited tourist attraction in the city. Sarah loved seeing her and we went twice.

Hans Christian Andersen is from Copenhagen and this statue of The Little Mermaid is the most visited tourist attraction in the city. Sarah loved seeing her and we went twice.

What Do They Eat?


Cheers with water the night we arrived. We made it.


Gross Hotdogs. Sarah didn’t even want to try it.


It’s always fun to see how McD’s is the same and different in other countries. Mostly the same, though the burgers tasted different. Probably actually meat!


Salmon Smorbrod (open faced sandwich) and one with Roast Beef. These were really good at Louisiana Art Museum.

IMG_0547 On the Go

This is where we're going. So exciting.

This is where we’re going. So exciting.


All on the plane and ready to take off. Eight hour flight? Piece of cake. The girls did great.


We missed our stop on the bus and had to walk back to the National Gallery. Good shot of the way sidewalks are designed. It took a lot of concentration to keep Catherine’s wheelchair between the cobblestones. The smooth path on the right is bikes only.


They look like seasoned travelers, don’t they?


A great hand in Uno passes the time on the train well.


Waiting for the bus. We traveled low budget which meant lots of busses and trains. Next time, we’ll look into renting a van.


On a hot day, cold air blew up from this grate. Made a cute photo op.


This photo shows an example to anyone who ever wonders why I still adore my husband. Thanks Brian. You could have gotten really irritated, and your quick shift to the escalator made me fall in love all over again.


Love how Sarah is watching to be sure her sister will be safe going down the stairs. “Be careful Daddy!”


Now, this is traveling in style!


Bye Bye Copenhagen! Sarah cried when we left. So glad she had a great time.


Leaving Copenhagen, Sarah wanted to give the passport control officer all the passports. That’s a lot of trust to give a 7 year old! She did a great job and kept them all very safe.

    Sleeping Abroad Is Different


IMG_0060 We stayed in the Urban House – a hostel that had a hip, young vibe with a surprising number of families. Bean bags were welcome the morning we arrived after our long flight.


Woke 3 mornings in the hostel to this little face looking over the top bunk.


Catherine had a hard time adjusting the first morning and slept a lot despite the breakfast and activity surrounding her. She adjusted quickly after the first day.


In the middle of the trip, we went to LegoLand and stayed one night. You probably can’t tell, but the bunk beds are toddler size and Ellen had to sleep there. Good thing I curl up at night.

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The last half of the trip, we stayed in a flat in Fredericksburg that we booked via Airbnb.com. It was neat to see how locals live and to be away from the center of the city of Copenhagen. We relaxed, took day trips and had a much better time out of the city. Yes, I’d use Airbnb again.

Sheer Beauty

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Now that the laundry is done – well, at least clean and in the hampers if not folded and put away – and we’re over the jet lag, we’ve taken a couple of nights to reflect on our journey. Thought you’d like to read our overall impressions of our trip in a superlative kind of way. Thanks so much for reading!

“What’s the best thing you did?”

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art –  unanimous!

A view from the museum to Sweden.

A view from the museum to Sweden.


The museum had supplies for kids to create their own art based on exhibits in the museum.


Everyone worked on a project.

Biggest Waste of Money

Hotdog and Fanta at a street vendor. (Ellen) He charged us over $10 for the Fanta and the hotdog was gross.

I'm not eating THAT!

I’m not eating THAT!


It’s a weird bright red color covered with mustard and “fatty pig parts” (we later called those bacon), mustard, onions and did I mention the pickles? Yuck!

LegoLand hotel (Sarah, though she loved staying there!) It was about $500 for the night. We could have stayed for less and been really close to the park. It was a cute room though.

Look at all the FRIENDS.

Look at all the FRIENDS.

Funniest Moment

Middlefart! (Sarah) – Yes, that’s name of a town and we couldn’t control ourselves laughing about Topfart, Bottomfart and Middlefart. Or Leftfart, Rightfart and Middlefart. Or our favorite – Hotfart, Coldfart and Middlefart!

Can't make this stuff up.

Can’t make this stuff up.

Nine translations for Ketchup on the packet (Ellen) – Look closely at this ketchup packet. There are nine different translations for Ketchup and they all actually say Tomato KETCHUP! Contrast that to the fact that when we were at the train station, we couldn’t find a single sign translated into English and you’ll understand the IRONY of this.

IMG_0304Scariest Moment

Walking down a seedy street looking for dinner (Brian) – We moved past the tatoo parlors and into most likely drug zones before we realized it and turned around. We thought we were following the directions to a restaurant.

Having the Metro doors close on Sarah (Ellen) – She didn’t understand the need to get in quickly or it would be gone. I yelled more sternly than I think I’ve ever yelled at her, “GET IN!”

Haunted Ride at Bakken (Sarah) – A creepy looking girl turned into a ghoul unexpectedly. Yikes!

Runner up – Nearly getting a fine for not having bought the right ticket on the train. Fine would have been $750! Don’t worry – the story will make it to “Most Absurd.”

Most Frustrating Moment

Not being tall enough to ride the spinning ride at Bakken (Sarah)

Walking around pulling the luggage and pushing Catherine on the rough roads (Brian)

Brian pushed/pulled the luggage, we all wore daypacks and Ellen pushed Catherine. Made for a tight parade.

Brian pushed/pulled the luggage, we all wore daypacks and Ellen pushed Catherine. Made for a tight parade.

Closed elevators making us have to push and pull Catherine up and down stairs (Ellen)

Does this even need a caption?

Does this even need a caption?

Best Unique Use of Technology

Door Codes at Urban House (Ellen) – Our hostel didn’t require keys. At check-in, they emailed you a code and room number. You simply went to your door and entered the code. Upon check-out, it reset to a new code for the next person. And it was all managed by a computer at the front desk.

Cameras on the airplane (Sarah) – We could watch take-off and landings as well as see the land beneath us.

Best Travel Magic

Airplane Food (Brian and Sarah) – Yes, they really both loved the beef stew and potatoes.

SAS rep taking us to the lounge (Ellen)

Living the life when our flight was delayed.

Living the life when our flight was delayed.

Most Absurd Moment

Getting Soaking Wet (Sarah) –  When it rained on us in Tivoli, it poured! We were so wet it didn’t really matter that Sarah wanted to splash in puddles all the way home. I can only imagine how a kid must love the freedom to do that.

Moving the Wheelchair to Make Room for Bikes (Ellen) – We bought our tickets for the train to LegoLand and I told the woman we had a wheelchair. When we got on the train in the right car, we parked the chair in the area where seats fold up and took Catherine back to our seats on the train. The train attendant told us her chair couldn’t go there because they needed that room for bikes! When I asked where it should go, she actually made us take it off the train at the next stop and go load it into another car! Thankfully, some nice (non-Danish) guy helped Brian do it.

See all the bikes? Catherine got to stay in her wheelchair this time.

See all the bikes? Catherine got to stay in her wheelchair this time.

Buying a Train Ticket (Brian) – We bought our ticket for zones 1, 2, 3, 4 and while coming back from Louisiana Art Museum, we learned from the train attendant that we were in zone 40 and our ticket was no good. We had read the fines were $750 (making this a runner up for Ellen’s scariest moment!) and fortunately, the attendant showed us some mercy when we expressed utter confusion. You look at this map and tell me if you wouldn’t have been confused! We had so much difficulty on the trains we finally routed ourselves away from Central Station and opted for the Metro. Much easier!

Red is 1, Blue is 2, then Yellow is 30 and Purple is 40. Who can even see that?

Red is 1, Blue is 2, then Yellow north of Red is 30 and Purple north of that is 40. The Blue south of Red is zone 3 and the Yellow south of that is zone 4. What? And who can even see that?

Very Favorite Food

Waffles with Cream (Ellen) – OH – MY – GOSH!!! These are amazing and I wish I had taken a photo for you to see. Imagine 2 crispy waffles, buttery, shaped like a boat with cream in between them. You can’t. That would be one reason to go back. They had made them since the 1800’s.

Chicken Nuggets at Bakken (Sarah) – She said they were something really special and gobbled them up quickly to go ride more rides.

Hamburger Steak and Gravy at Bakken (Brian) – I guess it was worth all the back and forth of “Where shall we eat?” prior to choosing the place. Whew!

Best View

Tivoli from the Skychair Swing Ride (Sarah)

Sweden and the sea from Louisiana Art Museum (Ellen)

Countryside out the Window of the Train (Brian)

The Most Craziest, Awesomest, Interesting, Silly, Cool Thing

Tivoli Show (Sarah) because they made sailboats sail on the stage

Doesn't this look exactly what you imagine Tivoli to be like?

Doesn’t this look exactly what you imagine Tivoli to be like?

Penguins (Sarah) – They were visible from the roller coaster at LegoLand when it went through a tunnel. It really was a pretty cool idea.

Funhouse Bakken (Sarah) – The floors moved and stairs were set at odd angles making it extremely difficult to walk. We walked very slowly initially and then Miss Confident, Sarah, ran through it the second time.

Music Demo at Louisiana Art Museum (Ellen and Brian) – We listened to a 3 piece ensemble on the lawn of the museum overlooking the water to Sweden. We realized one of the men was “playing” his computer. As he moved his body, his computer was producing sounds in parallel. If he waved his arms wildly, the music was fast and loud. If he wiggled his hand, the music might actually be the sound of raindrops. Then he would sweep his arms in large arcs and the music would sound like waves. It was very interesting. Afterward, I asked if he’d ever used the system with kids with disability. He said he’d never thought of that and asked us to bring Catherine over to try it. Sweet success. Catherine moved to make the music herself. Wow. That was worth the price of the airfare. I’ll be looking him up to see if there is a way we can play with a copy of it. Turns out… he is the guy who wrote the software! I love when the world works like that.

Advice to Other Travelers

Go to the amusement parks – especially Bakken. (Sarah)

Stay outside the city – much nicer. (Brian)

Figure out how the transportation system works as soon as you get there. (Ellen) Pick up a map of the whole system at the airport when you arrive. We found it our last day!

Advice for Wheelchair Users

Have patience.

Work out before you go if you’ll be the one pushing the chair.

Embrace the wobblestones.


We believe there is a lot more world to see before we’d head back to Copenhagen. We had a great time and accomplished our 2 objectives, so that makes for an excellent trip. Most important – we learned we can do it again. Where shall we go next??


Nothing like getting your first arrival stamp coming back into the USA!!!

I’m so proud of both these girls!! They got the travel DNA from my grandmommy and did great on our journey. Welcome home girls. We did it!!


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