Monday, December 28, 2009

Flying in 2010...

I don't even want to think about the effects of the latest airplane terrorist attempt for flying passengers...

After the shoe bomber incident we all had to start remove our shoes when going through security... the terrorist plot in London restricted our liquids to 3oz containers in a quart size zip lock bag...

But this terrorist hid explosives in his underwear...

One thing is clear. If you thought it was hard work flying after 911 - it's going to be even worse. Security is going to be worse than worse. The latest news says that all books, blankets, other hand luggage in your lap will be prohibited during the last part of the trip.   Imagine not having anything to entertain your kids with for one hour after an 11-hour cross-Atlantic flight except the in flight magazine? You will start seeing some very creative toys being built out of ripped out pages... 

I doubt there is a way where you can find all possible dangerous items no matter how much effort you put into security. There just is too many people flying and too many bags. In the end - the only thing we can really rely on - is fellow brave and quick thinking passengers, willing to do something, should some bastard terrorist try something. Kudos to the passengers on Flight Northwest 253 on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Report drunk drivers

When driving home from Christmas celebrations signs like this one is everywhere along the highways (the huge traffic signs are also used for regular traffic information and Amber alerts).Are there signs like this in Sweden these days? And what would the sign say? "Om du ser någon som kör bil berusad, ring 112?".

I guess all that glögg drinking at Christmas time should be a good reason to have the signs up in Sweden too. ;-)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa came!

Swedish kids get a personal visit by Santa on Christmas Eve. And even though our kids were born here - the Santa still found them on Christmas Eve. Must be the Swedish parents...
It's Swedish tradition mixed with American since the kids do have their stockings too - and we wonder how long we can keep it going until the kids are totally confused and their peers think they are crazy when they claim that Santa came in person to deliver gifts...  one day ahead of everyone else. But for now we just let him come and ask the traditional question "Are there any nice kids here?" (and imagine - the answer is always "yes!!!").

It's too bad the Husband always miss Santa's arrival...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

The most common Christmas card we get from our American friends is a nice family picture with a printed greeting - the whole family or just the kids. The most common Christmas card we get from our Swedish friends is a painted card with snow and old fashioned Santas and a hand written greeting. I like both versions - it's nice to get Christmas cards.

Our Christmas card this year was done in August when the Daughter suddenly out of the blue drew this picture on our big white board in the office - we took a picture and added words and a frame. And the funny thing is that Santa really assembles the Husband...

(and no - I might live in California like Anna Anka and other Hollywood wifes - but I do not have botox in my lips...).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas magic

When I grew up, Christmas was magic. Or - at least that's how I remember them - so that means my parents did something right. Now being a parent myself, I work hard to create magic Christmases for my own kids. December, one of the darkest months even here in California,  should be a month of magic and recurring traditions. It's a lonely job, my Husband would be happy with a Christmas magnet on the refrigerator and if he didn't hear a single Christmas song he wouldn't even care.

It's not that I'm over-decorating the house or play the music non-stop - but I have a few pieces that are put up under ceremonies and I do have a Christmas playlist ready to go. But creating a magic Christmas is all about the details, not necessarily the quantities.

And creating days that are special and magic is not just about Christmas, it goes for birthdays and other days too.

When you are grown-up, you don't remember all those regular days - but those days that were made special and magic. And that's what I want my kids to remember when they are grown-up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sales, sales, sales

There is always a sale going on here. If you have enough patience - you can get anything you want when it's on sale... Why would you ever buy something at regular price, when it might be with 20, 30 och 50% off the next week. Makes shopping a bit stressful  - even though you can save tons of money if you shop smart.

If you sign up for the stores' news mail - you'll get heads up information on when a sale is coming up. I think I've gotten all of my Christmas gifts this year on sales - the exact items that I planned - but at a heavy discount.

And all those sales makes you wonder... if they can sell these items at such discounts - then buying at ordinary prices really must be a rip-off....

Happy Sales!

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Man tager vad man haver"

Lucia is one of my favorite festivities - love the music, the candles. When I lived in Stockholm, I used to go watch the music schools performance in the big sports arena, Globen, with hundreds of kids singing and catch one or two Lucia processions at different places.

When you live far from Sweden - you have to take what you have - to translate a Swedish saying, and in our case that means IKEA.

Sometime around Lucia - but for some reason usually not on the actual Lucia day, December 13, the little Swedish school is performing a Lucia procession in the IKEA restaurant, among people eating $1 meatballs. It's really cute and nice to hear those songs - but hm... maybe not so... serene...

Monday, December 07, 2009

What?? Snow?

For the first time since I got here - I've seen snow in our city. An unusually cold storm passed by over night dumping lots of snow up in the mountains and cooling down the valley enough for very rare snow to fall. I was up over night with a coughing son and could inspect the pretty heavy snow fall. The ground is still warm and the temperatures go up during the day, so there was hardly anything left this morning after sunrise. But still.

Lot's of excitement. The news sent snow reports all night long and the weather people who normally hardly have any weather to report about were going crazy.

Since snow means freezing temperatures, or as they say "sub-zero temperatures", there is a "freeze alert" in place. Which is kind of funny coming from Sweden and trekking to school through feets of snow. The media has guides to how to cope with the cold weather - and maybe they are needed. If you are totally unused to freezing temperatures, you might have to be reminded to wear warm mittens instead of gloves.

But the last warning in today's paper below, "Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs" might be something I would think would be more useful in... say Siberia or... Antarctica... Not at -2C (or 28F).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Decorating the Christmas tree early

When I grew up we always decorated the tree the day before Christmas Eve, December 23. And then we kept the tree until the beginning of January. In the US, you decorate your tree way earlier, usually in early December and I've changed my "tradition" too. I really enjoy December and want to enjoy the tree before Christmas. Now I usually I clean out Christmas between Christmas and New Year's. So today we got our tree and decorated it and now it is being enjoyed in the living room!

Getting a Christmas tree here is way easier than I remember it was in Sweden. They are all perfectly shaped and almost all the same length. Can you mutate Christmas trees?

Before and after...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Relax". Yeah right.

Right before Thanksgiving we got a notice from our health provider, Kaiser Permanente. "Relax - there is nothing you need to do", was the headline with a smiling woman under the headline.

THAT got us worried...

And when reading on, we realized that they, with the message, was increasing our monthly payments with $114 (which is something like an increase of 23%) ($114 is approximately SEK 800) and doubling the deductible from $3000 to $6000 (meaning we now have to pay for all health costs up to $6000 a year before the insurance kick in...) ($6000 is approximately SEK 42000). All this with 30 days notice. And for those who had tried to get or switch insurance you know that 30 days isn't enough to research, apply, get approved for another insurance.

"Relax - there is nothing you need to do"...  Well - is there anything we CAN do? The message should have been "Relax - there is nothing you could do - we're going to skim you off your money and you have no say".

We have a private insurance - since we're both self-employed - so there really isn't that much we can do. But to agree that this country sure needs to take a serious look at health insurance - regardless of what the solution is.

As a communicator, I sure wonder about the headline message - but I guess that was the only good thing they could come up with. That you don't have to do anything to get the rate hike, they're just plainly going to take our money.