Sunday, May 31, 2009

"It's really warm!"

One of the best rewards after a long, exhausting trip to Sweden is to see the kids enjoy themselves so much and meet family and having a real Swedish summer holiday. We were greeted by the most fantastic weather and the kids were running around like happy puppies - and falling over all the time. Walking on uneven surfaces is trick yhen you're not used to it... 

Too keep them awake the second day I took them to the "beach". My daughter claimed the water was warm... 

Saturday, May 30, 2009


After almost 26 hours we're finally arriving to the island in the archipelago
outside Stockholm, greeted by perfect summer weather. No more words necessary. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

Off to Sweden

So - the bags are packed and everything is planned and the son's +40C fever is more or less under control and I'm taking the kids and our nanny to Stockholm for a five week stay. The grandparents are waiting and are ready and the weather report looks good for Saturday morning when we will arrive after our 26 hour door to door trip... 

Let the adventure begin! 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

We might have a great arrival?!

Just reloaded the weather page for Stockholm I have had open the past week and look - with about a day left before arrival on Saturday morning (and yeah, yeah, I know... Swedish weather do change by the hour) it looks pretty good! The last two years the last leg of our trip - the boat ride over to the archipelago island outside Stockholm where we're staying has been done in sunshine and clear skies - a great reward after a long trip. 

It could rain and be stormy and +11C - making the trip with an open boat with 5 suitcases sure pretty bad. But we've been so lucky! 

I'm not taking any chances however. Rain gear and wind jackets are packed in the outside pockets of the suitcases - easy accessible... 


So today I attended the first "skolavslutning" (end of school year ceremony) as a parent and it was a good thing I brought extra Kleenex. I've always been very emotional on a day like this - the end of a school year, last day etc - and it didn't make a difference that it wasn't even mine this time, but the Daughter's. 

She "graduated" from Kindergarten and they sang adorable songs out of tune and were so happy and so cute in all their dresses and nice clothes. The principal was there and they all got certificates and there was enough time for every parent to take pictures of your child with their teacher and the principal. Great organization as always. 

The only thing missing was of course the most beautiful Swedish summer song, Den Blomstertid nu Kommer - the song you always sang on the end of the year ceremonies when I was a kid. I bought a version on iTunes last night so the Daughter at least got to hear it when she got back from school and I made a playlist with Swedish summer songs such as Nu grönskar det, Barfotavisa etc. 

I found this version on YouTube, recorded in Hagaparken in Stockholm - not the best sound quality - but beautiful voices. And - in reality - you should hear the sound of the wind and other outdoor noises when you hear this song - an end of the year ceremony when I was a kid was almost always outside... oh, memories... 

Enjoy! And let the summer holiday begin!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The forgotten husband

So on Friday I’m leaving for Sweden for five weeks. It takes preparation and planning – lot’s of logistics to work out. Our fantastic, wonderful nanny is coming with me and will help out during three weeks while I’m working. The other day we talked about logistics of getting to the airport and I offered for her to stay in our house if she wanted to save some time in the morning on the departure day – but also said that I assumed she wanted to be with her husband as much as possible before leaving. Which of course she wanted – they’re going to be separated for three weeks after all. 

And then I realized that I’m actually leaving mine for five weeks and I haven’t really had time to worry about that or even think about it. Is this what happens a bit into a marriage with kids – that you don’t even think about being away for five weeks, haha!

But it actually might have to do with the fact that the two first years of our relationships we lived on two contents and were separated for months at a time and sort of got used to it (but still hated it). 

Oh, well, I WILL miss him – and this is in reality the way it’s going to be in summer times in our lives as long as we live here. Getting the kids to Sweden to be with grandparents, boosting their Swedish and getting their share of the Bolibompa, Storstrut and Lustiga Huset– separation is the price we have to pay. But hopefully, in the long run, it will pay off dearly. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mrs Husband

I’ve written about this before too and how much it annoys me- the tradition to address a married woman with her husband’s name and this "Mrs" thing. And even though traditions in general can be nice (after all I'm a sucker for Swedish keep Swedish traditions alive and learn American ones), this is one that is just pure way too old fashioned to be kept alive.  Why do you have to differentiate women between married one and not married - when you enver differentiate the men?  I read this article about it the other day - which confirmed how firmly rooted this tradition is here. 

Even though I opted to take my husband’s name when I got married (luckly his was perfectly fine and nice so it wasn’t a too hard of a decision) – I still have my own first name, thank you very much. And just like the author of the article - how are you then supposed to address divorced women? Do you then loose your "Mrs" and become a "Ms"? 

So if you sent me an invitation to Mr and Mrs TheHusbandsFirstandLastName I might now show up just out of pure spite. 


I’m a sucker for "funkis" houses – I think I’ve written about this before. This house, from an article in one of the major dailies in Sweden, is located outside Stockholm – and oh… *dreaming*… 

ONE day I will live in a house like this if so I have to get a custom lot and build one here and totally shock my Californian neighbors…

Monday, May 25, 2009

Packing bags

Instead of taking off for the weekend like most friends did – I sent the family off and had the house to myself. Not to enjoy but to pack. The packing for five weeks in Sweden in June and July needs to include a variety of stuff. Rain boots, swim suit, fleece sweater, shorts. It could be +12C and rainy or +28C and sunny. You just never now – and sometimes the weather changes during the day. In other words – in Stockholm there is actually “weather” compared to summer here – when it’s just sunny all the time. After spreading out stuff all over the house - after four hours I had packed four suitcases (one big, three small - just  so you don’t think I’m over doing it) and all the hand luggage – including tickets, passports etc. 

I have a serious amout of electronics with me - loaded with new movies. After all - a movie is 1,5 hour long - and you need every minute of entertainment for the kids...

Now I only need to add my laptop, work files and the kids' shoes and we’re ready for our 26 hour trip door to door next Friday. Or ready… well, prepared. I’ll be very happy when it’s over. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Meeting a Swedish alien

I decided to "celebrate" Kristihimmelsfärd after all. No one was sending any e-mails from Sweden anyway. I fled the heat and headed to a cool shopping mall on Thursday to get some stuff for my upcoming trip to Sweden. 

The fellow Swedish Alien Paul was in the neighborhood and we met in a empty food court at the mall for a "fika". Not the optimal “fik” – but at least they had coffee. 

It’s always interesting to compare notes with other Swedish aliens – especially those who like me work for a Swedish company and juggle Swedish holidays, phone conferences on strange hours and a usual lack of understanding on how far away California really is...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Long weekend?

This year the Swedish holiday ”Kristihimmelfärd” and Memorial weekend happened to be around the same weekend. Memorial weekend is the official start of summer and a weekend when you remember fallen heroes. Kristihimmelsfärd weekend is when you celebrate… hm… wait a minute… really nothing – but just take a nice break in May. 

When you work for a Swedish company in the US things get tricky… which day should you take off? Kristihimmelfärd (which was on Thursday with Friday as a day in between) or Memorial Day (which is on Monday). Or both…  But that would be using up a lot of vacation day that you might rather spend this summer…

On the Thursday no one will answer the phone in Sweden and on Monday no one will answer here…  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In Sweden there are official "flag days". They are marked in the calenders and they are usually due to a religious holiday (that no one really celebrates any longer, but sure enjoy the time off work) or a royalty's birthday or name day. You are also free to raise the flag for other reasons - and when in the summer house in Sweden, we usually do on someones birthday. You can't raise the flag before sunrise or before 8 am and you have to take it down before sunset or no later than 9 pm (in Summer the sun sets way later than that). 

Here there are no clear flag rules - at least in the Swedish sense. You'll see flags up 24-7 - and here in California, you usually see two flags on the on the flag post, the US flag on top and the Californian flag underneath. 

I like both ways. I like flags. I wouldn't mind having a flag post in the back yard - but that you never see here. If people put op flags it's usually on a small flagpole attached to the wall of the house. I wonder if there is a rule on flag posts in private back yards?  

Flags at my Daughter's Elementary School last Friday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

View from a car

This is a view from our minivan, facing a parked car in the parking lot of Lowe's... 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sandwich, ice cream, coffee - or a "fik"?

Yesterday we biked up to the plaza, thinking we should get some ice cream as reward. We were not alone. It took almost 30 minutes to get an ice cream at ColdStone Creamery. But oh, how good the ice cream is!

This is a pretty common sight in the "food court" area of an American strip mall. A sandwich shop (in this case Quiznos, but could have been ToGo's or Subway), an ice cream bar (in this case Coldstone, but could have been Baskin&Robbins) and the mandatory coffee shop (in this case Starbucks, but could have been Pete's Coffee). 

In Sweden there would probably have been only a  "fik" where you could get a sandwich, a good cup of coffee and an ice cream for dessert...  and none of them would be a franchise. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Mother's Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May in the US (and in a bunch of other countries for that matter - but not Sweden, who celebrate it on the last Sunday in May) is a pretty big thing. Commercial wise of course - but also action wise. For weeks you have been told by ads that you should get something for your mother or wife if she is a mother - jewelery, flowers or slippers. And - then take her out for lunch/dinner so she doesn't have to cook. 

My memories of celebrating "Mors Dag" is drawing a picture for my mom and picking fresh flowers from the garden. Therefor I was so happy when my Daughter, even though very, very early..., initiated preparing breakfast for me, made a drawing and made the Son make a drawing, picked a rose from the backyard and gave me a handmade plate she had made under big secrecy in school (bless these (female?) teachers that let the kids do crafts to surprise their mothers, because I know for sure that a majority of the Husbands sure wouldn't remember/be capable of remembering even the date) (insert smiley here). 

(and then we turned on the Dr Snuggle DVD in the bedroom for the kids and could doze off until a more decent wake up time - i.e. after 7 am...). 

Thursday, May 07, 2009

"Thousands evacuated in the US"

It's always fascinating to check the Swedish news online every morning in the office. You might learn important things. Like that there is a "state of emergency" in California due to the swine flu. 

Today I learned, on the first page of one of the major Swedish newspapers that "thousands have been evacuated in the US". Curiously I read on and read that aha - it's here in California... maybe I should know about this... And once again - the news about "state of emergency" that the governor has declared, this time due to the forest fires down south in the Santa Barbara area. After the last couple of weeks you must think that California is a state on the brink of catastrophe, one "state of emergency" after the other...  

But, once again, in case friends and family are worried - the forest fire and the 5000 homes that have been evacuated are in Santa Barbara, some 4 hours away from here and the rest of the 300 million something Americans are just fine.  

And just to clarify for Swedish speaking people - "state of emergency" and "undantagstillstånd" really has two different strengths . A "state of emergency" here is not the same as if "undantagstillstånd" would be declared in Sweden. Actually, has it ever? I don't know the statistics, but the state of California have "state of emergency" a couple of times a year for all kids of reason, flooding, forest fires and usually the average Californian wouldn't even know there was one in effect. It's just a way to coordinate resources and governing in times of extra ordinary circumstances. 

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Polarn&Pyret in the US

How can I not know about this! Polarn&Pyret opened up an online store in the US in March! Fantastico! Limited number of articles - but still. Pricey - but then it's the same in Sweden - and all PoP stuff I have for the kids have lasted forever, even with American horrible washing machines. 

Check it out here:

Saturday, May 02, 2009


I'm not sure what is turning this swine flu thing such a world wide hysteria.  From the Vice President putting his foot in his mouth to journalists making the most strange conclusions. The past week should communication researchers busy for the rest of the decade.The other day I read in the major Swedish newspaper that "companies need to prepare that half of its employees will get sick for weeks and some will die". ??? My mom, who got a cold after flying home from Washington DC  last week where she had participated in the annual meeting of SWEA (an organization for Swedish women abroad) and might have been close to Swedish women representing Mexico got the full treatment when she came in for an unrelated doctor's visit. She had to wait outside the emergency room where people in full protective gear came out to do her blood work and the doctor who had first seen her was suspended in case mom my was a carrier... she was OF COURSE not infected with the swine flu. Or, H1N1 as it's now called. 

And today I picked up this online question to one of the other newspapers in Sweden: Min fru och jag var i Kalifornien från 6/4 till 19/4 och var båda två förkylda (snuva, huvudvärk och värk i kroppen) under resan, men mår i stort sett bra nu. Bör vi göra något test för svininfluensa?

Translation:Me and my wife were in California between April 6 and April 19 and both had colds (runny nose, headache and body aches) during the the trip but we are ok now. Should we do any Swine flue test?

There are 37 million people in California and I'm pretty sure a lot of them are down with regular colds and flu right now. Just like any regular spring. Actually, according to statistics, 30000 people will die in the flu in the US this year. Regular flu. So far, the death toll from the regular flue is 18000 people (statistics from CNN). Last time I checked there were 24 confirmed cases in California. Is it just me or are people (or actually media) going a bit overboard with this? In Southern California the emergency rooms are crammed with scared people, of which a majority probably perfectly fine...

I'm all for taking precautions and being prepared... but honestly - this is crazy. 

(The journalist answering the question in the newspaper said "it wasn't necessary")