dear peter and amy,

lately i've been in a slightly gripey mood regarding Stockholm, so i will just take the blame for the fact that i have just now received your gift. rather than blaming it on the post office for failing to notify me.


1.) i REALLY miss you guys.

2.) can you come visit me? with your new baby? i'll talk to my family about flying you over. they can afford it.

3.) you two are genuinely some of the greatest people God ever created, and i am so, so thankful to have friends like you in my life.

thank you, thank you, thank you for my gift! i was beyond thrilled to get those Kashi pumpkin flax granola bars. and Coca-Cola :) you must've remembered how much i loved them...could it have been that i drank 12 of them after coming down from Kili?

all my love,

ps - i LOVE my slippers!


give me a Valium and Super Wal-Mart

i think that if you ask any American housewife what her least favorite errand to run is, i am almost certain that she would say going to the grocery store. and since i am currently working as An-American-Housewife-In-Training (oh, you thought i was an au pair? that just takes care of children? silly you), i have decided that i also HATE going to the grocery store.

back when God was creating the heavens and the earth and the days of the week, He decided that Mondays should be a universally hated day. He succeeded in this, and now, even on the other side of the world in a job that i don't have to put on heels or makeup for, drive to work in a panic or sit at a computer all day, i still hate Mondays. read my previous blog to get a rundown of what an average day looks like for me. now, add taking the kids to school, going to the grocery store AND the dry cleaners in there...somewhere. that is my Monday.

so, every Monday Annelie gives me a grocery list, and every Monday i make the trek to the Lidingö Centrum to purchase said groceries. and all i can say is....America DEFINITELY has a leg up on Sweden in the food shopping industry.

i'm guessing that everybody in our town waits until Monday mornings to go grocery shopping, because every Monday morning when i arrive at the Centrum, there is a line of about 8 cars all trying to get into the parking lot. the Centrum is not THE grocery store, it's the center that holds the grocery store, along with the ever-present H&M, post office, liquor store, etc. the grocery store is one very small, tiny part of the Centrum. emphasis on small and tiny.

i think i've decided that most Swedish families (possibly all Europeans, cause i've seen this in Paris...right, Connie? and evidently in my mind Swedes and Frenchies constitute all of Europe) go to the grocery store on a daily basis to buy their food, rather than making two trips a month, like most people in America. when you walk into the grocery store here (the name of it is Vi...weird, right?), the carts are tucked away in a back corner next to the registers, so you have to enter into the exit of the store in order to get a cart. they only put the little baskets next to the entrance. since i am shopping for a family of FIVE, i need more than a tiny basket.

so i get my cart and off i go...and here's my random observations:

* the bread is at the BEGINNING of the store, so that when you throw your loaves into your
cart they inevitably are smushed and cold from having the frozen hamburgers and milk thrown on them
* every Monday i purchase around 6 or 7 cartons of milk because, for some unknown reason, they come in little cartons here rather than the gallon jugs. and since there's 5 people in the family, and these 5 people require 3 different varieties, that equals lots of milk
* there are only 2 aisles of the "freezer section", and a HUGE (okay, comparatively huge) produce section
* there's only about 4 aisles of dry/canned goods. take an average aisle at the grocery store in America, cut in half and put them back-to-back, and that would be the size of one aisle here
* there's about 3 aisles dedicated solely to candy

so, after i've done all my shopping i get to the check out lanes, which i think is the part that everyone around the world hates. but believe me, if anybody has reason to hate it, it's ME. people in America, here is my advice for you: BE THANKFUL FOR 18 CHECKOUT LANES. because here in Sweden, there is five. FIVE checkout lanes. this isn't usually a bad thing cause, like i said, most people here are buying their groceries for the night's dinner, rather than a week's supply of food for five people, like me.

i haul my cart that's packed to the top full of food into the shortest lane, and then proceed to unload all the groceries onto the belt, which is about 10 centimeters long. i pick up about 7 bags because YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THEM HERE and then run down to the other end to bag them all as they're being scanned. this is by FAR my least favorite part of shopping - paying and bagging the groceries. i always have an insane amount of groceries, and people are always staring at me cause i look like i've just bought out the store's entire supply of milk and bread. but i bag my groceries and go, and here's my second least-favorite part of grocery shopping:

THE EVIL CARTS. someone thought it would be a great idea to make the carts have wheels that turn a full circle, but really, this just makes me want to steer my cart into the nearest parked car. there is no sense of control at all with them, and yet, i appear to be the only person in Sweden who is unable to maneuver them. i see 85 year old women easily pushing their carts along. why do i have such a hard time?? i don't know.

do you now see why i hate grocery shopping? it is the bane of my existence these days. so, to make us all feel better over my misfortune, here's some pretty pictures for your enjoyment:

the top photo was taken at the Opera House (operahuset)
the bottom photo was taken in Stockholm overlooking the Baltic Sea


this could be embarrassing

i've been thinking lately that i wanted to do a post on here, but these days my life is pretty boring now that all the holidays and traveling is over with. in that case, i decided to share my life with you, from the moment i wake up til the moment i go to bed. sorta like a "day in the life"...of me. so, here it goes:

08:30 - alarm goes off. wake up to room FREEZING cold cause i open the window at night due to stuffiness. become momentarily annoyed at being woken up AND being cold. pull the covers up to my neck and go back to sleep. with the window still open.

11:30 - wake up for real this time. annoyed that i went back to sleep and only have 3.5 hours til i have to get kids. crawl out of bed, throw on the nearest articles of clothing, stuff my feet in nearest pair of shoes and trudge over to the Big House.

11:32 - walk into kitchen. per usual, it's a Disaster. unrecognizable. fall on the floor and cry for 10 minutes while asking myself why i took this job.

11:42 - spend 30 minutes unloading dishwasher. load dishwasher with last night's AND this morning's dishes. step on squishy macaroni from last night's dinner. take a deep breath. wipe down counters, put away butter and yogurt left out from the morning's breakfast. hope nobody gets sick.

12:15 - go around house and pick up Star Wars light sabers, mini Lego men, and various items from Klara's closet. head upstairs.

12:30 - make beds in all three rooms. pick up clothes from the night before (yes, ALL clothes for ALL family members, sometimes this grosses me out). sort laundry from clean and put in respective places. almost die when climbing up into the miniature loft that Klara sleeps in.

13:15 - go to the basement and start laundry, which i refer to as the Never Ending Pit of Despair. i HATE laundry. load washer. fold clothes. sort clothes. trudge BACK upstairs to put away clothes.

14:00 - walk back through the house to make sure everything's done. sigh when the dishwasher beeps (over and over and over) to tell me it's done. roll my eyes and think "i never get a break" and then think, "i'm definitely going to have a housekeeper one day" and THEN i am reminded that this is my JOB and at least some of it has to be work.

14:15 - sit down at table to surf the Internet. think about getting dressed. stare out the window at all the people walking by who always stop and stare at OUR house. eat an apple. or chocolate.

15:00 - frantically get dressed (finally). go pick up klara and sixten at daycare.

15:05 - ask klara and sixten to get their snowpants on.

15:10 - tell klara and sixten to get their snowpants on.

15:15 - threaten to leave them at daycare if they don't put their snowpants on NOW.

15:20 - walk outside without kids. forget to take plastic shoe booties off. klara and sixten watch me from inside and laugh.

15:30 - wrangle kids into their fleeces, snowpants, hats and mittens. finally get them out the door. remember to take booties off.

15:35 - listen to the SAME Sheryl Crow song from the Car's Soundtrack that we listen to every.single.day. go pick up kasper.

15:45 - collect kasper from school, who never wants to come home, and load everyone back into my Flintstones (read: MINIATURE. TOY-LIKE) car where putting seatbelts on is entirely too stressful. least favorite part of my day. briefly consider not making children wear seatbelts.

16:00 - arrive back home. go through reverse process of getting everyone out of winter gear. fold more laundry. load washer with load no. 3948573.

17:00 - make dinner for kids. this switches between meatballs and macaroni, hot dogs and macaroni, falukorv (a type of swedish sausage) and macaroni. occasionally throw in potatoes when the kids are feeling adventurous.

17:30 - annelie comes home. hallelujah thank you JESUS.

18:00 - head back to my cottage. sit on the bed for an hour. send emails. check facebook for the 24th time in 3 hours.

19:00 - drag myself out the door to the gym. arrive at gym and ask myself if i REALLY want to go inside.

19:15 - go inside. work out. cuss in my head the whole time.

20:15 - get back home. make dinner, usually fish and vegetables or low-fat meatballs. eat dinner on my bed. check facebook, hotmail, and perez hilton. maybe turn on the TV. call brad/steph/queenie/sherri/jeff.

22:00 - get ready for bed. become annoyed at messiness of my cottage. never feel like cleaning my own place.

22:30 - check facebook.

23:00 - read in bed. wonder if anyone emailed me.

00:00 - pass out and dream of laundry, meatballs and...facebook.


1 august 2008

yep, that's when i'm heading back to the good 'ol US of A! you never realize how much you LOVE it til you're not living there...

but anyway, i will be leaving Stockholm on 31 august (i'm so Euro, i know, what with the number first and all) and arriving in....


i'm going to spend a few days there with Nikki and (hopefully) Philly, and am planning to meet up with another friend and spend his birthday there.

after that, i'll most likely head back to IL for a little while and then down to the Deep South (Georgia, specifically). sooo...that's what's going on with me.

6 months and 2 weeks til i'm back!


back to reality

we finally made it back to sweden this past weekend after a looong flight (overnight, thankfully) and while it's nice to come back, the weather is definitely nothing to be thankful for. it's cold, gray and icky. the funniest thing is, there's not even been any snow yet! i think they had some while we were gone, but it all melted. it's been around 5 degrees Celsius the past few days, which is in the low 40's (F). i actually think it's supposed to get colder these next few days, but still...how odd. everyone thought i was practically moving to Antarctica before i came here. hard to believe that Minneapolis is colder right now than it is here. i'm not complaining, though :)

i have LOTS of pictures from Thailand that i want to post, but i think the easiest thing to do is to post the link to my Picasa album where you can see them all HERE. but if you're not into linking, here's a few to tickle your fancy...


to b.p.h -

you know me well, from the stripes to the brand (j.crew)...makes me miss you all the more.

thanks :)


money can't buy it all

for the past two weeks i've been staying at a gorgeous Sheraton resort, complete with a 300 meter pool, six restaurants, beautiful rooms, endless staff members, and their own trio of elephants. i've had elaborate meals ranging from foie gras to authentic paad thai, the best wine the hotel has to offer (sometimes TWO glasses, one red and one white to complement whatever we're eating), and have literally no limit to what i choose to purchase for food or drinks or room service when i'm on my own (which is really special, because who has ever longingly looked at the drinks and snacks in the minibar and known you can't have them cause they're too expensive?? i know i'm not the only one).

but tonight was probably the best night i've had the whole time i've been in thailand and it only cost me 60 baht, which is roughly $2 USD.

nikki and i borrowed the bikes from our families' villa and rode about 4 miles away to a beautiful beach tucked in the corner of a big cove, where fishing boats and tailboats floated offshore and small little bars happily played Bob Marley. we got there around 4pm and spent an hour or two just dozing on the beach while listening to our iPods, and then watched the sunset - one of the prettiest i've ever seen - while drinking iced mochas and agreeing that God really does orchestrate everything in nature to be beautiful. afterwards we rode our bikes - on a gorgeous beach front road - back to the hotel and went to have dinner at a nearby italian restaurant.

so, money can buy lots and lots and lots, but i would take evenings like these - just a bike, a friend, some good music, and a beach - over five course meals anyday.

we're heading back home on friday night, so there's only 2 days left here. tomorrow the plans are to play tennis in the morning and maybe kayak afterwards, and then get one last massage on the beach. they're ridiculously cheap and so wonderful...

i think i want to move here.


phuket - it's not the way it sounds

poo-ket. not the other way that i'm sure most of you are thinking, cause it's what i thought at one point in my life before i was introduced to the greatness that is Chino Latino, a really cool restaurant in minneapolis. i distinctly recall going there my freshman year of college (Bible college, no less) and being horrified at the t-shirts that the bus boys were wearing that all had different phrases using the word "phuket"...

so - THAILAND! it's amazing. gorgeous. JUST like my pictures below. seriously, i can't say enough about the beauty and just plain romanticism of this place. there's so much i could talk about but i hate spending my time inside while the sun is brightly shining outside and there's snow waiting for me back in Stockholm. basically, here's the rundown -

we left last saturday afternoon, and to my surprise, i found out at the airport that we were flying Premium Economy on Thai Airways, which essentially is business class. i think it's one of the most wonderful, luxurious things i have ever done in my life and i'm sure to be a spoiled brat by the end of this year. but for now, i will take my wine-in-a-GLASS-glass and glass utensils for dinner and big, comfy seats. we had a 10 hour flight from Stockholm to Bangkok and connected to Phuket from there. the resort that we're staying at is huge and beautiful and has all the great amenities that i have come to love on someone else's budget, such as robes and slippers in the rooms and down comforters and endless staff members to assist your every need. nikki and i are staying in a regular room, and our families are renting a big villa on the golf course.

as far as seeing Thailand, in all honesty, it's hard to do. i've gone on a bike ride out to some more of the rural areas, which was actually really, really neat. me and nikki went on a boat tour and snorkeling out to Phi Phi Island, which is where they filmed the movie "The Beach". THAT was the most.beautiful.place.ever. no kidding - the water is about 4 shades of green...it changes between that electric, neon turquoise all the way to deep, emerald green. snorkeling was incredible...i've never seen such beauty in my life: each one was a different design with bright, tropical colors. there was even lots of coral reef to check out.

i've spent some time in Patong Beach, which is a beach area in Phuket that's well-known for shopping, bars and prostitutes. it's really sad, actually...nikki and i have done some shopping there (where i scored with a CUTE black Chanel handbag and a black Louis Vuitton small duffel) and literally almost everywhere you look is a young Thai woman (or man) prostituting themselves. you're constantly being stopped on the street by men and women asking you if you want to go to sex shows, basically. it's an area of town that we've tried our hardest to stay away from.

my days here are mainly spent either watching the kids in the morning while the parents are golfing and then having evenings free, or hanging out at the beach during the morning/early afternoon and then watching the kids while all the parents work out and then going to dinner with everyone. some nights we have the kids after dinner, too, while the parents are out and about. and, we're scheduled every single day. so...lest you think i'm laying on the beach all day, please know that i AM working ;) in the lightest sense of the word, of course.

so, that's my trip so far. it's crazy to think that we've been here for over a week, and we still have five full days left here. i'm doing pretty good with the tan and have only burned myself one time on the whole trip, and even then it wasn't bad. that's an accomplishment for me, unfortunately...

we get home this weekend and i'll definitely be sure to post lots of pictures, and i'll try and get some from christmas on here.

Happy Belated New Year!