i've been up since 4am...i don't know, ever since i've been here i've had this hard time sleeping. i think my body temperature gets all screwed up - i go from hot to cold, cold to hot, and am never comfortable, but can't seem to regulate the temperature to a comfortable one in my little cottage. so i often wake up at odd times and can't fall back asleep, and end up turning on Mtv and checking my email. or writing blogs.

anyway, not too much to report this week. i am going to the opera on thursday with nikki's family, who will be in town for christmas. i'm actually really excited, i've never been to the opera, and am really looking forward to it. i'll have the kids on thursday and friday cause annelie wants to make sure they don't get sick right before we leave for thailand, which is next thursday. speaking of, here's a couple pictures for you guys!

both of these photos are of phuket, the area we're staying

this is the hotel we're staying at - soooo huge!

i'm seriously getting SO excited for this trip! you know, i have to be honest, i'm not even so excited for christmas. i may have said that already, but it's interesting - when you don't have the typical things of christmastime to distract you, i think you do think about the heart of it a little bit more. like, not having my family and friends and the idea of tons of presents awaiting me makes me think more about how this holiday is to celebrate the arrival of Jesus, and the pure beauty and gift in that alone. but believe me, i do miss all of the distractions of friends and family and presents, no matter how philosophical i may get :)

i have the WORST crick in my neck! i don't know what happened, i think it's from watching my tv from my bed. it's at an odd angle, so i usually twist my neck to the right to watch it. i can't even turn it to the right without wincing in pain. i have to turn my whole torso, which makes me feel like a victim of whiplash.

well, i should maybe try and get a little bit of sleep before i have to get up in a couple hours and take the little ones to dagis - their daycare. hope everyone's weeks start off great!


i keep thinking...

...about prosciutto tortellini. seriously, it sounds SO good to me right now. i think i'm going to eat it for lunch.

so, i'm slightly bored today and don't have much to write about, but i'm trying to stay up with blogging for all of my family and friends that check this website once a month ;) there's not been too much going on this week. it's actually probably been my crappiest week i've had since i've gotten here - one of those "can i do anything right??" weeks.

don't get me wrong - i do my work here that's required of me. but i think they expected more from me, and i wasn't aware of it. i had a really good talk with a frieeeend of mine, brad, who seriously has the best work ethic of anyone i've ever met, and he challenged me with the idea of being a good employee vs. a great employee, despite my expectations of the job. it's the great employees who will go above and beyond and do the things that aren't asked of them. i definitely want to be a great employee to this family, especially since they treat me so well. so it's been a bit of a rough week, but it's always good to be reminded of where we can improve.

what else can i tell you about? i got my winter boots (finally!) it's not been snowing here so there's not been much need for them, although i do think that investing in the red rain boots i wanted would have ended up being a good purchase, considering the amount of rain we've had lately. the boots are cute; they're made by Esprit and are pretty simple - sand colored with the top of the boot lined in fur. and the best part is that the insides are lined with fleece. we'll have to see how they hold up in the waterproof department cause they're protected by something called Gartex...yeah, NOT Gortex.

i bought a couple new items for my trip to thailand, which is 2 weeks from today! i bought a new swimsuit from Victoria's Secret, cause i've been wanting a black one for as long as i can remember. here's a picture of it -

it should look exactly like that on me, right? :) but speaking of, i have been on a protein-only diet for the last week, and am going to continue it up until we leave. the idea was to cut out most of my carbs (i still have some every now and then, hence the tortellini that i just ate) since i'm going to be spending every day for two weeks probably in a swimsuit at the pool with the kids. cutting bread/pasta is definitely not my favorite thing to do cause i LOVE pasta, but you really do feel better when you eat lighter foods.

i also purchased this dress for New Years Eve at Charlotte Russe - i thought it was way too cute to pass up, and it was only $26.

kind of different, but i really like it. i bought it online, so hopefully it'll look the same in person.

and finally, i just have to say that i have a new favorite song - it's called "bleeding love" and it's by leona lewis, who was on a show called X-Factor that i think was on in the UK. i don't think she's in the US yet, but you should go listen to this song on her my space. believe me, it'll be huge in the States.

it's almost friday! hope everyone is having a great week ;)


2 weeks to go!

i just checked the calender, and christmas is 2 weeks from today! so hard to believe. in all honesty, i'm not so much looking forward to christmas for the sake of christmas, but for the sake of leaving for phuket, thailand two days afterwards. it's hard to get into christmas when you know you're not going to be with the ones you love.

i had an interesting thing happen the other day that's been circling in my head. this past weekend klara had a dance recital on the WAY other side of Stockholm, and it was just a long, long day for all of the kids. it took a long time to get there, and then after her first show at 1pm, i had to take the little boys back to the house while klara stayed with her grandma (her farmor, it's her father's mother) to perform for the 3pm show. well, it was such a process getting home. on the way there, we all took a taxi and it was fine. on the way back, though, i had to take the boys on the train. i didn't think it would be a problem, but it ended up being planes-trains-and-automobiles ordeal. we took the pendeltag (the trains in the outer parts of town) to T-Centralen, which is the main subway station. From there, we took the tunnelbana (the subway) to our train station on the island here. From THERE we took the bus to our stop near the house. and finally, from there, we walked back to the house. needless to say, my boys were wiped out.
anyway, i was sitting on the bus and kasper, my oldest (7 yrs) was sitting next to me, and throughout the whole ride he kept scooting over closer and closer to me. finally, he just collapsed and tucked his head under my chin and was gripping my hands. i rested my head on his, and at once, i was hit with this overwhelming feeling of love for this little boy. which made me realize that this was the first physical affection of love that i had felt in three months. to most of us, that's not such a big deal because you probably experience it a lot, whether with a boyfriend/husband/friend/sister, etc. but i hadn't felt that way in my heart for months, and when i did, it was intoxicating. this all might sound silly, but i know it will be a moment that i will always remember about being here.

thought i would post a couple pictures of the weekend -

klara and farmor making cookies

these are the gingerbread cookies that Swedes LOVE to eat at christmastime - can't remember the name of them...

her dance recital had a "space" theme to it; she was supposed to be an astronaut, which is her current career choice, coming only before rock star ;)

my peanuts. they really do love each other, i think.


the most wonderful time of the year

while my bout with laziness and sleeping in til 1pm (or kl13, as the Swedes would write - meaning klocken 13...the clocks at 1. i guess that's what it translates to?) is still in full-force - my excuse is the weather, the sun is rising at 8:30am and setting around 2:45pm - i finally dragged my butt into the city last night to do a little bit of shopping and meet up with some friends of mine. it was a GOOD idea - i definitely needed some fresh air and a bit of a city adventure. here on the island it's easy to forget that i actually live in a bustling, metropolitan city cause we're completely in the woods. and it reminded me just how happy i am to be here and just how much i do love stockholm.

i was only in two main parts of the city last night, Sergelstorg and Gamla Stan. There's a big square where the Tunnelbana's (subway train) main station is located, so i jumped out there and got some shots of the square and the surrounding buildings. all the tents set up in the middle are not typically there; it's a Christmas Market, of sorts. they're selling kind of random things, though, like socks, deli meat, purses, alpaca wool sweaters, blankets...kind of reminded me of a market in a third world country.

i went and met up with nikki and another au pair that we're friends with, susanna. susanna is from poland, and has the prettiest skin i've ever seen. i'm jealous. here's some pictures from NK (Nordiska Kompaniet), which is the nicest department store in Stockholm. they're well-known for having a great christmas display in their front store windows.

red noses! me, susanna and nikki

one of the main shopping streets in stockholm - it stretches in both directions from sergelstorg

after seeing the windows and doing some more shopping we headed over to Gamla Stan, which means Old Town. it's the oldest part of Stockholm and is right on the Baltic Sea, which means that it's usually the most photographed area of Stockholm. chances are, if you google Stockholm for images you will Gamla Stan from the water, cause it's beautifully picturesque and old. but anyway, nikki, susanna and i wandered the streets for a bit trying to find a good place to go have a drink, and we came across this whole-in-the-wall pub that was so unique and old. you had to go downstairs to find more seating, and it was basically a hollowed-out cave that had twisting, narrow hallways and seats in every nook and cranny of the place. somehow we ended up sitting next to the of Dungeons and Dragons Game Night table. Odd.

see all those little lights in the windows? those are little candle-like lights, and EVERYONE has them.

this is the dungeons and dragons weekly meeting.

overall, it was a really fun night, and one that i definitely needed. it's easy to forget that i live in this great city, and there's places like this everywhere at my fingertips. i hope that over the next 9 months i can get some better shots of the city, ones that are actually in the daylight. unfortunately, that won't be so easy to accomplish with the sun going down around 2pm...no wonder this country travels so much to warm, sunny places.

oh! speaking of, Thailand is in three weeks from today. and i just found that we're booked to holiday in Bali, Indonesia in June for three weeks. these are the times that i THANK THE LORD for this job ;)

well, i should get to bed. i have the kids all weekend while the parents are in France, and i have to get over there at 6am to get the day going. but for those that are interested, here's a couple pictures of my little Christmas trimmings around my cottage. nothing fancy, but it's cozy.

here's my little star in the window - another traditional Swedish 'jul' decoration.

yes, that is my christmas wreath for the door sitting in the corner.

happy friday!


tre månaden

today signaled my three-month mark here in Stockholm. when i first started this blog, my intention was to look back at each month-mark and share a little bit about what i've been learning since i've been here. well, i could write a blog every day about all the different things i learn about myself, stockholm, the world, and God. making the decision to come here was the second-best one i've ever made, after choosing to leave home to go to college in a different state (not cause i hated home, just cause i think it's always good to move away from what's comfortable). much of what i'm learning about myself these days isn't anything new; i'm just going deeper into who i am and the things in my heart. i know that sounds like a cheesy book, but it's true. something about being outside of your regular, everyday life causes you to see who you are more clearly. and for me, seeing who i am more clearly has given me a new insight into who God is. as much as i loved attending a christian university, there's just some things you can't learn there about your faith. so much if it has to be learned in the real world.

anyway, i'm rambling. i'll tell you one thing i'm learning - my clothes are always dirty. whether it's from getting sticky fingers on my shirt to sixten's pleas for me to carry him from the car to the door every day, thus getting his dirty, muddy boots all over my jeans, my clothes are usually filthy at the end of the day.

and i wouldn't trade it for an office job any day ;)


camera hogs

these kids love a camera. these were taken last weekend after they had a nice, long swim in the hot tub and i had the idea to comb their hair. not too sure that's something that happens too often for them, judging by the way they pranced in their mirror afterwards ;)

please pardon kasper's boogery nose. i swear i'm a good au pair.

the charmer.

my boys ;)

there's not too much going on this week, either at work or personally...i do have the kids again this weekend while the parents are skiing in France. oh! i also decorated for Christmas, i'll post those pictures later this week. i've also got ambitions of getting out into the city and taking some photos of the city, since they've got all their Christmas decorations up. i'm looking forward to visiting the Christmas Markets, which i think are a more traditional European thing.

i also had my hair highlighted this last week, and trimmed. it was my first experience doing so in stockholm, and i have to say, it makes me miss home ;) they just do things differently here...for instance, my hair was a little too blonde for my taste. in the States i could go back to the salon the next day and have it corrected, usually for no charge. however, they don't do that here. so, i'm stuck with this hair color until the roots start showing, which i can't STAND. here's a picture of it -

if i get any paler, i'm going to blend in with the wall...but only for a few more weeks!

hope everyone has a great monday!


reaching that point

okay, i love it here. i really do. i love these kids, i love the family, i LOVE stockholm - it's a much cooler city than most people are aware of - but i think i'm at THAT POINT. where i'm thinking that the great perks of this job really are wonderful - hello, thailand in 26 days? - but yet, being someone that absolutely loves working with children and connecting with them, i'm beginning to feel the strain of the language barrier. my kids speak english, understand it pretty well, but it's not their first language, and being that they're only 3, 5 and 7, they're still learning swedish, for crying out loud. the parents went out tonight with a big group of families, and before they all went out they had a "pre-party" at our house. one family brought their swedish nanny, and once the parents all left, my own kids were picking her over me to sit with, talk to, play with, etc. that's a hard pill to swallow, especially when you know that you're doing everything you can to connect with them. and i usually do, it's not typically an issue. i think they just liked the idea of having a swedish person around to talk to and play with, cause it's less work for them. sometimes getting these kids to use their english is like pulling teeth, so i know they don't like to speak it if they don't have to. it's all just wearisome to me.

plus, i've been missing home a LOT lately. i think it's the holidays; those are always the hardest time of the year to be away from family and friends. so, combining my homesickness with the frustration of tonight just makes me want to crawl under my ridiculously thick and warm IKEA down comforter and just go to bed.

which i think i'll do.


new favorite


she's a photographer. lives in the country. married to a cowboy. and she's so, so funny.

go check out her site - her photos are amazing, and her blog highly entertaining.


quite the weekend

As mentioned before, I kept the barn (swedish for 'children') for the weekend while the parents were having a weekend vacation in London. It definitely wasn't a bad weekend, although it did get a little long after having them nearly every day the past week. Since they had stayed home sick so often I thought it would be best for us to all take it easy, so we spent most of the time watching movies, playing video games, doing puzzles...basically things that require low physical activity. On Saturday, though, Annelie recommended that I take the kids to a small cafe just through the woods for lunch, which I thought was a great idea. We got all bundled up and braved the cold Swedish morning to walk a mile to this small cafe nestled in the forest. It was a beautiful morning - the kind that makes me kick myself for not bringing my camera along - and when we got to the restaurant, I had to smile, cause, see - the Lord knows. I firmly believe that, yes, I serve a great big God who did and does hugely miraculous things, created the universe, and put me here on Earth. But I also believe that the Lord knows even the smallest things about our hearts.

Case in point - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE shabby chic decor style. I could search through antique shops for old quilts, milk bottles, chipped and whitewashed furniture pieces, wrought iron accents spray painted pastel colors, faded floral fabrics in muted, soft shades...I get excited and happy just thinking about it. Well, here I come, off to Sweden, where I've never been and really don't know much about. So how funny is it that there's pretty much two decor styles in Sweden, one being really modern and streamlined and the other being...shabby chic. They definitely have their own version of it and I wouldn't say that it's extremely similar to say, the Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic line, but it's definitely, definitely my style. I had to smile in this little cafe because all the walls were whitewashed a grayish color, the tables were old farmhouse styles that had been painted white, the chairs were all mismatched, straight-back chairs with floral seat cushions tied on, there was an old white fireplace in the corner with little antique knickknacks on the mantel, and all of the furniture pieces, such as the buffet and dessert tables, were mismatched and chipped. It was adorable, and not to mention the food was amazing. See? I think stuff like this just further confirms that there was a Hand in my coming to this country :)

Anyway, on Saturday night I had a few of my friends over for an American Thanksgiving, and it was a lot of fun! There were 3 Americans, 1 Swede and 1 Dutch. We had all the typical Thanksgiving foods - turkey (which is ridiculously expensive in this country and has to be bought at a turkey butcher), potatoes, mac and cheese, stuffing, broccoli cheese casserole, biscuits, and threw in some salmon stuffed with goat cheese. For dessert we had a Swedish "princess cake," which apparently is The Cake of Sweden. Every bakery sells them. It's good, not sure where they get the "princess cake" name, but I suppose it doesn't matter. After we stuffed ourselves with food, wine and cake we watched what I believe to be the new American classic Christmas movie, "Elf." Me, Nikki and Philly were DYING during it, Robert and Alfie (the Swede and the Dutch), not so much :)

That about sums up my weekend. It was pretty un-eventful, but definitely a good one. Here's some pictures -

these beautiful swedish children with their bright blue eyes...

he's a thinker, a dreamer, an imaginer...

i love how sixten is resting his hand on klara's head. these two are my troublemakers :)

i think children have become my favorite subjects to photograph.

see? they love me. most of the time.

nikki was *stoked* for the stuffing

philly loved it that her and klara have "the same haircut"

this is all of us at our thanksgiving dinner. and i'm confused as to why everyone except for me looks bored.

here's robert holding the infamous princess cake. the outside is all sugary fondant, but the inside is heavenly...layers of cake and whipped cream.

that's all i've got for you. this week is looking pretty un-eventful, except for the big haircut on Thursday! nope, not getting it all cut off, just getting it trimmed and maybe some new bangs? i am more than ready for it.

28 days til Christmas! and....
1 month til Thailand!


documentaries, sick kids and...labor laws?

Lest you all think my job is one full of easy days spent gallivanting around Stockholm, free trips to exotic destinations and complimentary Pilates classes at an exclusive studio in town...please. Think again.

I'm now spending the FIFTH day (almost in a row) home with the kids. I've had them every weekday, save for Thursday, since this past Friday. And at least once a week before that, for the past three weeks. Between the past five days, I've worked 40 hours, where I normally don't work more than 25. And, on top of it all, I have the kids all weekend while the parents are vacationing in London. Don't get me wrong, I love these kids and they're pretty well entertained on their own, so it's not like staying home is some horrible part of the job where I spend the day screaming at the kids to quit climbing on the walls.

But still. I haven't seen my friends all week and am beginning to feel strangely like what a mother probably feels like...and I'm not sure it's a feeling I love. I guess "they" (meaning, moms) say it's different when it's your own kids, but I don't know, maybe I'm re-thinking that whole plan of being a stay-at-home-mom? (okay, maybe not. but still. no wonder so many moms join scrapbooking groups, something I vow to never do. never.)

Speaking of being a mom, I have learned over the past couple months that it's craziness to have three kids and two adults in one home! The food that they go through is ridiculous, and there's constant noise coming from every corner of the house. I think of some of my friends who are one member of a family of 10, and I suddenly feel very, very tired. And it makes me want to go on a jcrew.com spending frenzy, since I won't be able to afford anything from there once I have all the multiple children I've always dreamed of. I suppose I had better find that rich man everyone kept telling me I was going to meet while I was in Stockholm :)

To get a little bit somber on you, I wanted to share about a movie that I saw this past week - I was given the opportunity to go see the Stockholm screening of the movie "The Devil Came on Horseback," a film about the the Darfur genocide crisis. There's so many things that I want to write about...but I'm still taking it all in, to be honest. All I can say is, there's a horrible, awful thing going on in Sudan right now, and it deserves an immediate response...one that it's not getting. This film showed pictures of the genocide, which are actually pretty rare as journalists aren't allowed in the region, and they are heartbreaking. These mass killings are indiscriminate; children and women are being killed just as brutally as men. I could write down all the things that we could do as Americans (or just as compassionate humans) to make a difference in the situation, but I'm pretty certain you all wouldn't sit down and write a letter to your senator just at my advice. Instead, go check out www.savedarfur.org and at least learn what's causing the crisis and what's been done in the region to assist those who have been affected by the genocide. Here's some pictures from the movie (disclaimer: some are graphic) -

I ask this not rhetorically, but honestly: how is it that we can see these things and not be moved to action?


it's been a while

Yes, it has been a while since I've blogged, as I was reminded not once, but twice, by my Dad, who felt the need to inform me in his email that he sent me yesterday and then when he called me today. So, here you go, Jeff, here's your blog :)

Life has been pretty busy lately. It's funny, I had a conversation with a good friend from back home and he was saying that it seems like I'm busier here in Stockholm than I was in Minneapolis. That is so, so true. It's a good thing, though - it would be really difficult to be living in a foreign country away from your family and friends and not have much of a social life. I often find myself craving my "nights in" where I can surf the 'Net, read books, call people, and do a facial mask. So, what has been keeping me so busy lately??

I had a fun night with Nikki and Philly, the two other American au pairs that I do lots of stuff with, last weekend. We all went to Nikki's house for the weekend since her family was out of town and had a birthday dinner with the three of us. We had stuffed salmon (laxfile in Swedish) that was SO good, and mashed potatoes, and a sweet potato (or was it a squash? cause that's a lot of potatoes that we ate, which I just now realized). Philly baked me a confetti cake, and we drank some really great wine...all in all, a fun night.

me and nikki...trying to make a '26'

The past few weeks the three of us have developed a week night jaunt in the city with us girls where we'll meet up for a drink at a low-key pub. I really look forward to them, we'll usually randomly pick a night to get together and then meet up in Philly's neighborhood and walk until we find a random, cozy pub. I usually always order a pear cider, which is my favorite. Very sweet, almost like drinking a soda. But we'll spend a couple hours talking and catching up on each others lives, and a lot of times have these deep, meaningful conversations while sitting at the bar :) On a side note, Stockholm is extremely 'warm' and cozy in the winter! Much more than I thought it would be. It's usually pretty cold at night, but lots of places will light candles outside of their establishments, and the window fronts always look so inviting with their low lighting and candles everywhere. There's one pub that we like to go to that's really small and has lots of woodwork inside, and I swear, just going there gives me warm fuzzies cause it's so inviting and intimate and warm.

This last weekend I went to a conference at my church on the arts, it was called Synergy. I helped out on Saturday morning with random things so I missed the opening service, but I was able to attend some workshops on the arts and being a Christian artist. It was really good - I'm not an artistic person, per se, but I do love photography, so that's what I applied everything to. The main speaker was a man named Ellis Potter, who, in my opinion, was an absolute genius. I'm pretty sure he could be classified as an apologist - I attended a workshop where he just talked for an hour about how he converted from Buddhism - he was a Buddhist priest - to Christianity because he said that for him, following Jesus Christ required less faith than Buddhism. Now, to hear him explain it, it's brilliant and I feel like anybody would suddenly decide to follow Jesus just based on his explanations, but that's why he's an apologist and I'm not :) So I won't attempt to explain why he believed what he did, but I was struck by two things while listening to him speak - 1.) he said something so profound that I've never realized. He said, "Relationship precedes identity". He went on to explain that Adam only realized who he really was as a man once Eve was created, and that in the New Testament, Jesus teaches us to pray "OUR Father," rather than "MY Father." I love the idea that we're completed only in our relationships with others - specifically with knowing Jesus - but beyond that, we were created to be in relationship with one another. What a controversial idea in our society of individualists. And, 2.) I was amazed when I was listening to him speak so intellectually and on a level so far above my own, and it made me realize that the beauty of the Kingdom of God - of the good news of Jesus - is that He really is able to meet the needs of such a wide scope of people. This man was so smart and brilliant and such a thinker, and obviously found fulfillment in searching the Scriptures, and thinking about the deep, intellectual concepts of Christianity. But to compare him to a child, or a person that is mentally handicapped and yet has such a simple, basic faith and understanding of God's love, and for both of them - they're satisfied and have exactly what they need. Does that make sense? I doubt that the same could be true in other religions, but that just goes to show the personal nature of the God we serve.

So, that was my weekend. Sunday was a lazy day - I didn't make it to church. I've been on such a WEIRD sleeping schedule lately. On Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30am and couldn't fall back asleep. I came home from the conference on Saturday night around 9pm, crashed in bed and then woke up around 2am, and couldn't fall back asleep until early, early morning. So, Sunday morning I slept right through my alarm. Spent most of Sunday hanging out with Nikki and our friend, Robert.

This week is pretty busy - tomorrow night I'm going to a showing of a documentary about the Darfur crisis that Philly's au pair mom produced. Wednesday night is my first session of Pilates at the Stockholm Pilates Center and then all this weekend I have the kids while the parents are in London. Should be eventful and crazy, as usual :) However, me and the American girls are celebrating Thanksgiving here on Saturday night, so I'm really looking forward to that. We're saving the box of Stove Top Stuffing that my best friend Steph sent me, just for the occasion! I'm also going to attempt to find a turkey, but I'm not sure that whole turkeys would be purchased by these minimalist, eat-like-the-European-Swedes that they are. So, if worst comes to worst, we decided to do fish. Definitely not the same, but hey - you do what you gotta do, right?


two months - are you ready for this?

Cause I have LOTS to write about today. I should probably break this all down into three separate posts, but I think I'm going to try and break out the "outline" format. I haven't done an outline since college...we'll see how it goes. Before I do so, let me keep you posted on the daily happenings of my life - this past weekend was pretty good. Laid back, mainly. I had dinner with the family on Friday night for Joakim's birthday, and that was fun - me and Annelie decorated for Halloween, and they ordered in deer meat (I asked if it was venison, and she said, "Nooo...it's baby deer." So, like...Bambi? I think it was venison, they just don't have a name for that) and these really good mashed potatoes and mushroom soup, and we had the Swedish version of cheesecake for dessert. Saturday I lazed around until the evening when I met up with Philly, my au pair friend from New York, and we met up with a Dutch girl from her church and went to an international film festival...that was Finnish. We thought it was Swedish, and it's not like it'd make a big difference to us, language-wise, but we were still surprised when we found out at the end of the night it was brought in from Finland. It was interesting. We saw a Finnish band play. Then we went to a bar in Stockholm that's out on the water front. Also interesting, had an eclectic group of people. I didn't stay so long...this Sunday morning was church, and then lunch with Philly. Tonight I'm going out for pizza with Anna, the au pair across the street. It's our Sunday-evening ritual.
So - now that that's out of the way...on to the outline.

PART ONE - my current faves

Since I've been in Sweden, I've been discovering products that I didn't know about in the US, and I LOVE them! So I'm going to share them with you.

A.) Dr. Stuart's Tea - Skin Purify

I purchased this tea at Le Grande Epicerie in Paris, and it's just amazing. See, I'm not really a tea drinker; I would much rather drink 4 cups of coffee rather than one cup of tea. But lately I've discovered honey and I can't get enough of either thing - tea OR honey. So I bought this tea cause I thought the packaging was pretty, and I'm a sucker for anything that promises to purify my skin. It needs it, I think. Most teas I've drank have had a bitter taste to them that even the milk and honey can't neutralize, but this tea is incredibly good with just a little bit of honey. And on top of it tasting good, I think it actually works, cause my skin has been pretty glowing and soft lately. But I could also attribute that to my next favorite thing...

B.) LUSH Angels On Bare Skin facial cleanser

No, this is not some kind of weird sushi...this is my new favorite cleanser. I discovered the store this past week, and let me say, it's the perfect place for me to blow my my measly salary. The store sells bath and beauty products that are all-natural, and their stuff seems to live up to their name. They have a huge selection of soaps that smell so sweet - I bought Honey I Shrunk the Kids, a honey and coconut scented soap - and facial products, and hair products, and bath bombs, massage bars...the list is endless. Anyway, I've been looking for a new facial wash, but wasn't sure what to buy, so stumbling onto this product was perfect. The cleanser is for normal skin, and it has rose essence, ground almonds and lavender oil in it. Here's the thing about it that I love - it's a cleanser and an exfoliator, which usually leaves your skin feeling dry and sensitive after using it a couple of times. But this stuff has a thick, almost oily, texture to it that rinses really clean and, after using it for a week, my skin definitely, definitely looks brighter and feels a lot smoother.

C.) Swedish honey, AKA honung

I LOVE THIS STUFF. I never used to like honey in the US, for some reason, but the honey here is so good, I could eat it right out of the jar...just like Winnie the Pooh? I put it in my tea and on my toast, and I think it's responsible for converting me from having my morning coffee to having my morning tea. I asked someone why it's in a jar, and has a different texture than the honey in the US, and they said it's cause it's so fresh. This stuff you literally spoon out of the jar, and it's thick and tastes just like it came off the honeycomb.

So, there you have it...my current 3 Favorite Things. I think you can purchase the tea at GNC in the States, and there are Lush's in the US, but probably only in the big cities. The honey...can't help you with that one.

PART TWO - Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

I spent this past Friday with the kids, since they had just returned from the States and didn't have school this past week. I got a few pictures of our day - not many, just a couple of Sixten and Kasper rough-housing, which is a universal display of love between brothers, I think. We also got a couple shots out on the lake that I took using the timer...some turned out, some didn't.

Kasper's got him in a headlock...

Sixten's going for the stomach...

This kid has COOL written all over him. I mean, what 3-year-old wears jeans that have guitars on them?

Klara and I out on the dock, trying for the 13th time to take a picture.

Our one (and only) attempt at a timed group shot...Klara is obviously sick of them at this point

I also realized I hadn't posted any pictures of my cottage...at least, I don't think I have. I've done some decorating of my own since moving in. It's a small, little place, but it's really cozy and warm, especially when I light the candles and dim the lights...so nice and romantic for me, myself and I.

This is the view from the window in my kitchen, taken just the other day around 2:3o. The sun has been setting here around 4pm, and will just get earlier and earlier...

This is my kitchen...

This is my little bedroom, which is parallel to the kitchen, just up a step.

Last room of the house, the bathroom. Those glass doors resting on each other? That's my shower...they open up to form a box.

So, that's where I've been living for the last two months. Which leads me to...


I've been here 61 days now...hard to believe, although it doesn't necessarily feel like it's gone by quickly. In many ways it feels like I just arrived, and yet it seems as though a lot has happened since I've been here. I've celebrated my 26th birthday, been to northern Sweden and France, ate moose meat and caviar for the first time, celebrated 3 birthdays with the family already, went to a Finnish film festival, drank Swedish beer and British cider, and so much more...made more friends than I can count on two hands (pretty good for only two months in a completely foreign country), found a great church to attend where I'm already part of a Bible study and helping out at events, regularly going to Swedish spinning classes at my gym(I'm the dork in the class straining "up the hill" with my head up cause I don't want to miss the next instructions). The best part about all of this is that I love working for this family - the kids move into my heart a little more every day, and the parents are so thoughtful, kind and generous that I can't help but be overwhelmed at how BLESSED I am. Some would say lucky...I say blessed. Only God could give me such good things.
There's so much that I've been learning about myself since I've been here. The things that I used to pride myself on are being brought down...I am constantly being humbled by the Lord. And it's so good for me. I'm developing this new excitement for my future; a new excitement to the idea that life is WIDE OPEN to me, and that my dreams don't require the prerequisites I once thought I needed to see them fulfilled, like a certain education, or a husband, or being in the ideal location. There's a lot of things that still scare me, and lots of rough spots that I know God is preparing me to make smooth, which is often a hard process. But I'm ready for it, I think.
I will say, every young person should try their hardest to live abroad...it is a life changing experience.

I'm a sleepy head tonight, so I think I'm going to get my pajamas on and hit the sack...read for a while, maybe? I recently discovered the library and there's TWO whole shelves of English books. I was so happy when I left there with my pile of books...that I'm sure I'll return late and have a fee to pay along with my parking ticket :)
Have a great week!