Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cold mornings and warm days

"Winter" season is tricky here. We might wake up to pretty cool temperatures in the early morning hours, but as soon as the sun has been up for a bit, it heats up the temperature and we have Swedish summer temperatures all through the day. This year it feels as if the cold nights came earlier than usual (or then, my memory is really becoming more foggy so who knows... maybe we're just on target).

When you are heading out from the house in the morning you have to take into consideration that you might be sweltering hot in those socks, long pants and warm sweater that felt so cozy at 7 am. Dressing in smart layers is the key. Like not wearing a long sleeved sweater, but rather a top with a hoodie that you can unzip and eventually take off. Or not having a quilted jacket, but a layering wind jacket with a hoodie underneath.

I'm so glad Polarn O. Pyret, the Swedish clothings store has opened up their online store in the US. Their stuff is the best - love it! This morning I realized my Daughter's PoP jacket suddenly was too small (she hasn't been wearing it since this summer in Sweden - we haven't exactly had jacket weather here since then and she must have grown two inches since then). I went online and found one and hep - a fig colored, stretch jacket, perfect for layering is on it's way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

School food

Never again will I ever say one harsh words on the Swedish school cafeteria food (skolmaten). I didn't know what I was talking about. Now with my own kid in school I suddenly miss that school cafeteria food a lot... (and being an alien I find myself missing the weird stuff - like "lapskojs"...).

In most American schools, kids bring their own lunch. If you're bringing you own lunch with no cooling or heating opportunities - it's pretty tricky to pack a nutritious, healthy lunch. And I think we have a harder time since we always have had a "cooked" lunch and it's hard to go from a fully cooked lunch to something that will work in a food box that a 6-year old must be able to handle. Every time I pack a cheese sandwich in my Daughters lunch box, I shudder a bit... (but then, if I was Norweigan - I would be doing fine right?).

There is a "cafeteria" in school, and if you buy lunch cupons in advance, the kids can get the food of the cafeteria. We just got the "menu" for November. And it's a constant reminder that the lunch box my daughter bring to school is pretty nutritious and healthy after all. It's just a matter of what you compare with....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why isn't there a

My Daughter cracked the reading code at 4,5 years, she now at 6 reads fluently (for her level) in both Swedish and English. Since it is so much easier (and cheaper...) to find "Beginning reader" books in English and we have fewer Swedish books - she has tended to read much more English than Swedish lately - a trend we don't like (a 50-50 ratio would be great). But with the start of the weekly Swedish school this September she has gone back to read Swedish much more. Swedish is actually easier to read and she can read longer without getting tired.

So suddenly she has gone through almost all of the "easy to read" Swedish books and I've been desperately trying to go online to see what I can order from Sweden. Books that are made for beginning readers that not necessarily are about football or horse riding. We have a whole box with "beginning reader" books in English - you can find them at your local bookstore - divided by reading level and they usually cost about $3-5. Not hardback books - but hey - they will soon move to a new level - so we don't mind.

I'm used to browse books using online stores such as where you can search and get review, good descriptions and recommendations - and are at total loss at some of the Swedish book sites that seem to lack any decent search function at all. Some books at only have a small picture of the book, it's name and author and price - and that's about it. For the price of buying it and having it shipped over here - that can be pretty bad purchase if you haven't done your research... Seems you have to know what you're looking for - before you go online on Swedish websites.

I'm assuming Swedish children who are beginning readers do read books? Or is the beginning reader an English phenomena? Maybe you just read any regular book that you happen to have in Sweden? Here you do have to learn "sight words" - words that you can never sound out and you just have to learn them. So beginning reader books are focused on different levels of sight words - thus divided into different reading levels. Makes it easier and don't discourage early readers to have a go at reading.

So maybe I'm looking for something that just isn't there in any major extent... But if there was an - I would know for sure...

Example from - the only info about a book... A picture and the
 title and the price... but you can share the info on Facebook and Twitter! ;-)

Exampel from You get 55 pages (!) to click through when you click
their link Books for 6-9 year olds... not even a "Next" or "Previous" function...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Today it happened...

I was going to write a date - in a Swedish text - and suddenly had to stop and think hard... Is today 102009 or 091020... It took me a couple of seconds to get it right (the right way in Swedish (and like most European countries and according to standard...) is 091020 as in year-month-date). I'm I loosing my European heritage! "Ve och fasa"! Why can't the whole world just keep to the standard... 

Found a long discussion on the topic on a Yahoo Answer site - doesn't make the thing more clear - but it was kind of fun to read.

And my Daughter, the little American, is very firm with me "The week starts with Sunday"....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Fun Theory - from Stockholm

I love this video - testing the theory if making things fun will get people to change their behavior. One thing for sure - I would love to have stairs like that at home - if you could turn them off now and then...

Fun thing is - the experiments are done in downtowns Stockholm! The escalator pictured in the movie is one at Odenplan, not far from where I lived. I've gone up and down this entrance to the subway over and over again when I lived in Stockholm.

They have three more movies at the site "" - all from Stockholm.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gone with the Wind

When I was in 6th Grade in Sweden, I found a book at the library that hadn't been checked out for about 10 years (those were the times when you got a stamp in your book with the date you checked it out).  I was an early and avid reader, way ahead my class mates in types of books I was reading. I checked out the book and started reading. It was called Borta med vinden - Gone with the Wind and I was hooked... I was so hooked that I decided that I would not return it... Obviously it wasn't a very frequently checked out book so maybe they wouldn't really miss it.. It's the only thing I've stolen... *blushing*...

I guess the librarian would be sort of happy - because I  read that book so many times I can't even count them. So at least it came to good use. It was one of the books that I actually brought with me all the way here to California. It's actually right next to me, in the bookshelf.

So during my visit to Atlanta - I just HAD to go to the Margaret Mitchell House. The house where she wrote the book between 1925 and 1930.  It's not very big (the tour takes 15 minutes - including a visit to the gift shop). and not much is authentic (actually the whole house burned down right before the Olympic Games and have been rebuilt.

But it was still very nice to visit - I really like these "on site" museums (like the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas, the Ellis Island Museum in New York, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam etc).

And I picked up a replica of the original version of the book. And paid for it...

Monday, October 12, 2009

This big country

Going from the west coast to the east cost is a loooong way to go. It takes almost a full day to travel - and with the 3 hour time difference you loose hours going east. In order to get to Atlanta I had to do a stop over in Denver. The flight to Denver is about 2,5 hours and the flight from Denver to Atlanta is about 3,5 hours. And you're not even right at the east coast...

I was dressed and packed for Atlanta weather (mid 70s and partly cloudy) and not for Denver's 20F and snowing... I was freezing when I got off the plane in Denver... And when the plane was delayed for 2 hours on the tarmac not knowing it we would get to start - I was preparing for a very cold stay in Denver. But luckly - after a total of 3 hours delay we took off.

If you fly for 6 hours south from Stockholm (which is almost the only direction you can go), were would you end up - northern parts of Africa? And you would still be in the same timezone.

This country is huge.

According to Google Maps it would take 1 day and 17 hours to drive to Atlanta. That is if you would great and not take any bathroom breaks...

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I've been busy the last week - preparing to be gone for a couple of days, visiting Atlanta for a conference. It was my first visit - I never set my foot in Georgia before. I knew the conference would be intense and all spare time would be spent working in the hotel room - so I left two days early to get some sightseeing done.

I didn't see as much I would have liked - but got the main idea of the city, visiting both downtown, midtown and Buckhead (where I stayed for my conference). I had a very nice dinner with Fia - a Swedish alien blogging from Georgia who drove in to Buckhead to see me.

I toured the CNN Center and got a picture of myself being a news anchor (not sure who would want that - but it was kind of cool to try it out), walked the Centennial Park and around downtown, took the MARTA to Midtown and visited the Atlanta History Center i Buckhead. I liked Atlanta - even though I only saw a tiny, tiny bit of it...

Downtown Atlanta.

Downtown Atlanta.

The CNN Center.

The brick ground in Centennial Park.

The Olympic Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta

The Olympic Rings in Atlanta.

Mix of buildings in Midtown.

My view of Atlanta from my Buckhead hotel window.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Swedish Midsummer with Luke Perry

I had not heard about this movie until I read the major Swedish daily online this morning with my tea. An American, played by Luke Perry (how on earth did he end up in Sweden doing this movie) comes to celebrate Midsummer with a bunch of Swedish friends with all sorts of issues... It got a grade 1 out of 5 by the newspaper (5 being excellent and 1 being... well... not so good). And after watching the trailer I'm not sure what to think...

It seems to mix English and Swedish (with subtitles in Swedish when they speak English). But then - it's always nice to watch TV-series and movies with Swedish nature - red houses, pine and birch trees. So maybe I'll pick up a copy when it comes on DVD in the future.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Early local traffic jam...

We're lucky enough to live withing walking distance of an elementary school. So we have the Daughter walk to and from school every day - unless it's over +33C or pouring rain (it's more likely that's it above +33C than pouring rain). I like the fact that she gets a sense of walking to places.

But Tuesdays and Thursdays we have to drive her. 1st Grade and Preschool starts within 10 minutes of each other - and even though both are within walking distance - they are too far apart to be able to make it in time to both walking.

So those are the days when we get stuck in the local traffic jam outside the school. The school, a K-5 Elementary school (which means they have classes from Kindergarten to grade 5) is located in the middle of a residential area, with regular houses across the street. Despite the fact that hundreds of kids are to be dropped off and picked up, the street isn't wider or there are no real "drop of" areas - except for school busses (which there hardly are any these days due to the major budget deficit in California which hits public schools especially hard). And Thursdays are extra busy since those are garbage days. Outside each house there are two major garbage cans - one for regular garbage and one for either recycle or garden garbage. They each have to be a couple of feet apart for the garbage truck, meaning that each set of garbage cans blocks one potential parking lot each. And since all the houses around the school comes with three door garages, parking spaces were limited in the first place. Let's just say it's a mess... and this is a small school... try to pass by the high school around 3 pm on a regular weekday...

I'm happy the Daughter is a "late bird" because at least then it's not as busy as with the early birds drop off... and that we only have to do this twice a week...