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.