let me just say -

i have some things that are really annoying me these days and i feel the need to (publicly) share them. if any of them apply to you, sorry.

1. people who love their dogs so much that they take them everywhere. the store, to dinner, on the train, to your home even though there's children present that are terrified of it, and pretty much anywhere that doesn't have a 'no dogs allowed' sign. they are ANIMALS, people.

2. women with mouths like truckers. be a lady.

3. clubs in Stockholm. you literally have to be on a list to get into them during 'payday weekend', which is once a month. i'm not much for clubs, and this just confirms why. i stood outside of the new hip one, Village, this past Saturday night for almost an hour. and we didn't even get in.

4. bagging MY OWN GROCERIES. Grocery Store Managers of Stockholm, this is highly unintelligent of you as it creates chaos and cluster whenever someone has more than 2 bags of groceries (which isn't often as everyone goes to the store, like, once a day. but still). and it's highly, highly rude and disrespectful to the elderly.

5. private blogs. whatever, if people want them, then fine. but seriously. it annoys me still.

aaaand to balance that off, here's a few things i'm loving these days -

1. strawberry banana smoothies w/low fat, low sugar vanilla yogurt
2. bracelets - i just bought my first two today! a package of skinny gold bangles and a chunky round brushed gold and blue one. both at H&M, duh
3. curling my hair with a wide barrel curling iron
4. this ring....yes, i am looking. a girl should know what she wants, right?
5. roasted apple chips and Pink Lady apples (can you tell my favorite fruit...)

speaking of food, i had a veggie burger tonight that was surprisingly really good. so good i checked the box to make sure it really was made of soy...you can never be too sure when you don't speak the language.

oh, and by the way, tomorrow is a big holiday in Sweden, apparently - they burn wood from trees and have a big bonfire and cookout. two things i love...perfect.


all is clear...

...on my front, these days. in other words, there's not a whole heck of a lot going on in my life right now. my daily routine is (typically) to get up in the mornings around 9 or 9.30am - yes, i am slightly ashamed of this so you need not get uppity about it - do my stuff in the house (you know, my Housewife-in-Training things...laundry, dishes, making beds, etc), eat some lunch, and then head to my new hangout, the Princess Konditori. AKA the Princess Bakery. i go there every day, take my you-will-be-glared-at-and-hated-out-of-this-place-if-you-don't-take-one number, get my latte-in-a-glass (that's how they serve them here, weird), and sit and journal and read my bible. then i go pick up the kids, play with them for a million hours outside cause seriously, they've just now gotten to where they love me and want to play with me all.the.time. i love it, and yet i cannot express how sick i am of jumping on the trampoline...although i suppose it justifies my new minimal cardio circuit training workout i'm doing?

after lots of searching and deliberation and discussion, i finally booked my flight and and hotel for my trip to Malaga, Spain/Tangier, Morocco. should be an interesting trip, as i'll be BY MYSELF for the first 3 days...i'm actually really looking forward to spending the time with just me, myself and i. it was a huge relief to get at least the first portion of the trip taken care of - my hotel in Malaga is definitely not the Hilton, but it met my two requirements of being 1) on the beach and 2) close to the airport. all the really good hotels were like, 100kilometers away from the airport! paying for that in Euros would've been, oh, i don't know, my food budget for the week? while we're talking money, though, i managed to book my flight and hotel for 3 nights - which includes breakfast and dinner - for $542 USD. by the way, when i came to Sweden, $1 was equal to almost 7SEK...now it's $1 for 5.9SEK. only good thing i can see there is that i'll be sittin' good when i come home, if i can manage to save a few dollars...


welcome to the world!

two sisters

two baby girls

two months apart


Isabella Amaya
March 7th, 2008
8lbs 12 oz

Makenna Nichole
April 13, 2008
8lbs 4oz

congrats, Brooke and Heather! auntie seanna can't wait to hold her girls!

it's about time

yesterday in Stockholm it was 57 degrees and sunny...definitely unprecedented! i went to church in the morning and then spent the afternoon walking around the city (in the single-handed most uncomfortable shoes ever created, by the way...i'm hurtin' today) and seriously, it was like people were coming out the woodwork. everybody in the city decided to get out and sit in the sun and walk around, and might i add, some people here are WEIRD. i'm walking around in a 3/4 length sleeve cardigan and jeans, and i was pretty warm in the sun - there were people still walking around in wool coats, scarves and gloves. no kidding. this is definitely one of the things that annoy me here; people way overdress for the weather. the children have been in their snowpants up until a couple weeks ago, and we've not even had any snow on the ground.

i'm doing laundry at the moment...it's a never-ending job with a family of 5. did i mention that the washer takes about one hour to do a load, and the dryer takes almost 3 hours? something to do with water and energy conservation, or something like that. all i know is that its annoying.

nikki and i found the place we're staying at in Bali! it's called Villa Casis, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. can't wait for that trip.

alright...there's laundry that needs to be folded and a hungry girl that needs some food. hope everyone had a great weekend!


3 months, 12 days

that's how long until i come home...yes, you can be assured that i have a countdown going. someone told me recently that it seems like all i do is travel, go on these great adventures, have all this international, ridiculous, non-working fun, and i would agree. but i want everyone to know, being thousands of miles away from home, having a 6 or 7 hour time difference to the people you're used to talking to on a daily basis, and naming fewer friends than i could count on one hand, definitely makes life a lot lonelier than i think people realize. i can't express how many days and hours i sit in my cottage, wondering what on earth to do...and just WISHING it would be 8pm, cause that's when i can usually reach people on their lunch hour at home.

don't get me wrong, i get out and see and do things...but still, nothing is like being home, and lately it feels like all i do is miss it.

well, i'm going to have a 'wine and cheese' night with a couple of my girlfriends here...problem right now is that we have 1 bottle of wine between the three of us because the liquor stores close at 3pm here and i couldn't get over there cause my car was being cleaned. so, we'll see how that goes :) oh, and here's something pretty crazy - the girl's house that we're meeting at? the parents have a private jet. yeah, that's how these families roll...


THIS is why i came to Europe

my friend, Nikki, told me this weekend that you know you're a chronic traveler when you come home from one vacation and immediately begin planning the next. that is definitely me! i've always loved going places and seeing new things, but ever since i've been living in Europe and seeing all different parts of the world, it's like i can't get enough...i am always thinking about where i want to go next.

the next trip i'm planning is the first week of June, to Malaga, Spain. all i can say is, TAKE ME TO THE BEACH, BABY. i'm actually planning to go alone for the first part of the week and over the weekend, Brad is going to meet me with some of his buddies, cause they'll just be finishing up a bike tour through Europe. After we all meet up we're going to hop the ferry over to Tangier, Morocco, cause it's only a 1.5 hour ride from Algeciras, Spain, which isn't far from Malaga.

anyway, i've been looking up flights and hotels for the first part of the week, and i've figured that i can fly to Spain and stay at a beachside hotel for 4 nights for around $600. AND the hotel includes 3 meals - apparently this is called 'Full Board'. i'm stoked for this trip - a week on the beach, all by myself...Lordy, bring on the books and trashy magazines!

SIDE NOTE - um, did everyone hear about the earthquake in Illinois?? random. actually, the state is situated on a huge fault line...but it's evidently not supposed to shift often. glad everyone's okay!


Adoro Barcelona!

i guess that means, 'i love Barcelona!'...and I DO. seriously, i have already began making plans to move back there and ride bikes on the beach and drink Sangria everyday. out of the handful of European cities i've visited this year, Barcelona easily trumps them all. everywhere you look there's a beautiful building, or a statue, or a giant sculpture/artwork...the food is amazing, there's palm trees everywhere, the shopping was great, the nightlife was great. there's not many places i would say that i would go back to so soon, but i'm not kidding, i would go back there TOMORROW.

so, can you tell i had a great time? :) the three of us - me, nikki and philly - got in on friday evening, had a huge fiasco at the airport that entailed going to the wrong baggage claim terminal, and then having to exit the ENTIRE airport and go back through security just to get to the correct one, but once we (finally) got our bags and made our way outside into the warm weather, the trip was uphill from there.

nikki, philly and me at Rosa Negra, where i had margaritas, fresh guac and burritos! i was in calorie heaven

in front of Sagrada Familia...i hate standing alone in front of landmarks, feels goofy. brad calls that my '80's Euro vest' - it was CUTE

these guys operate a company that runs these bicycles all over Barcelona - we grabbed some sangria and took a ride up and down the beach

nikki and me in front of the Colom statue - Christopher Columbus. i always forget he was Spanish. please note my high-waisted jeans that i rocked with a skinny silver belt and tucked in white shirt. i am so fashionable.

so - Barcelona was incredible, and it quickly became my favorite European city. i would definitely recommend visiting it...it's one of those cities that you can just walk around in all day and experience the culture and the atmosphere - you don't have to pay to go into places or go to all the typical landmarks.

next up - Legoland in Denmark. strangely, i am so much less excited for that trip...



last year at this time, i had not ever stepped foot out of the US, except to go to Mexico (which i'm not sure counts cause it was only about 40 miles from California) and to spend one night in the Bahamas on a 4 day cruise.

but in the last 11 months, i have gone to:

*London, England
*Nairobi, Kenya
*Mbale, Uganda
*Mt.Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (climbed to the top of that sucker, too)
*Stockholm, Sweden
*Paris, France
*Phuket, Thailand
*Sicily, Italy
*Chamonix, France

and tomorrow afternoon i leave for Barcelona, Spain. it was my Christmas present from my family, so they booked me and my friend, Nikki (who works for the family that my family travels with a lot) on a flight and got us a hotel right in the middle of the city. Our other American friend, Philly, is also coming along, so it should be a ton of fun. all i know is, i'm ready for some WARM WEATHER!!

in a couple short days, i'll be seeing this amazing church - the Sagrada Familia:

talk to y'all when i get back!


i've gotta get these dance moves down

let me just say, New Kids on the Block were my reason for LIVING when i was about 10 (or so...4th grade, i think). i owned a VHS copy of their documentary (i use this term very loosely), i think it was called Step by Step. i watched it over and over and over again, and even to this very day, i can't get enough of the above music video...how cute is Joey when he's dancing in his tuxedo??

oh, and i'm well aware of their 'reunion'...i've heard the new song over at Mr.Paparazzi, and while it isn't bad, i'll still take the good 'ol vintage NKOTB over the new group anyday :)


he's my wild frontier

today is a day of gratitude, as God has so incredibly answered some fervent prayers of mine...i won't go into details cause they're not necessary, but all i can say is, i have never, ever, ever been more thankful to be a part of this man's life -

i'm sure you've guessed it, but this is brad. this boy has my HEART like you wouldn't believe, and i just wanted to make sure that he knew this for sure today...and let the rest of you guys know :)

he is truly, completely my best friend in the whole world

he's my wild adventurer who isn't afraid to tell me when i'm being ridiculous...or tell me
he loves me
he makes me feel like the prettiest girl in the entire world. seriously. he notices things like new clothes, new haircuts, and has a knack for making me feel beautiful when i feel like trash

one of my best memories with him is the night we decided to buy Coronas, limes, chips and salsa, and build a campfire...we talked all night out in the woods with our drinks and warm fire

he always buys me the BEST gifts...my Tiffany's bracelet i had to have, my fantastic DKNY silver mesh watch, Philosophy perfume, my red Wellies, and most recently...Adobe Lightroom, the photo editing software he knew i was dying to have

he is adventurous and outgoing where i'm hesitant and reserved, thoughtful and kind where i'm grouchy and snappy, generous where i'm selfish, and he always knows how to make me laugh when i'm in a bad mood

baby, i love you more and more every moment...and again, i can't wait for our life together.


the week of redemption!

maybe that's being a bit dramatic, but seriously, after all these visitors i was SO READY to get to France and spend some time skiing and seeing a change of scenery. mainly seeing a change of scenery, cause as i said before, i'm not so much a skiier.

we left for France on a Thursday morning and flew into Geneva, Switzerland and then made the one hour drive to Chamonix, the resort town that the family has a house in. at night we couldn't see anything, so i was a little disappointed to get there and have no idea of what it looked like. however, the next morning, this is what i woke up to:

the view from my room

down the little road that the house was on

beautiful, gorgeous mountains everywhere

see the two little people skiing down the hill? the farthest is Kasper, the nearest Sixten - note his wide-legged snowplow stance...his legs always hurt cause of it :)

kasper, the speed demon. he was always the first one down on the black slopes

this was actually IN Chamonix...i only saw it once, unfortunately

the family's chalet. it was BEAUTIFUL inside

a view of the valley below

these kids get so much attention wherever they go, seriously. they're too cute, i think

sixten, the youngest skiier in the family to ski the black piste

klara having a Klara Moment - she freaks out when she can't help herself...in this situation, apparently couldn't get up cause she fell

a picture of klara trying to 'wear' her backpack. i don't know, it was funny...

So, that's the extent of my pictures. there's more, but in all honesty, we really didn't do much but ski and eat/sleep. i didn't leave the house much, only to go for occasional walks...it was a very low key trip. we're actually going back in July, so it should be interesting to see it with no snow. they got around 100cm of snow when we were there! it was crazy. made the skiing great, though.

i'm all caught up now on my pictures, FINALLY...but i'll have more coming up cause this Friday i leave for BARCELONA!! it's my Christmas present from the family and i'm going with my two American girls, Philly and Nikki. it should be crazy fun...and a wonderful escape from the 40's-50's-ish weather we've been having here. believe me, i can't WAIT!

the final two

as i had mentioned, my life had been pretty crazy since, well, February 9th, when Brad came to visit. i had four visitors from the February 9th to March 19th, and while i loved seeing every single one of them, it was a little hectic. the final two was my stepdad, who i just refer to as my dad, and my little sister.

it was interesting having them here cause it's just a funny thing to entertain people in someone else's home. my little cottage isn't big at all, so having the three of us squeezed in there every night for dinner got to be a little much, but it's a good thing we all love each other SO MUCH. right, jeff? :)

out of all my visitors, i'm pretty sure i saw more of stockholm with them than anyone else. my dad wanted to see all there was - every museum, old historical building, palace, etc. so that's what we did - we took a boat tour of Stockholm, went to a couple different history museums, went to the Old Town, went to the Vasa Museum, which is the home of the recovered Vasa warship from the 14th or 15th Century (i'm so bad with dates...). needless to say, i have seen enough of Stockholm in the last month to last me for the REST of my life.

here's some (unedited, grrr) pictures of their trip:

this is jeff, my dad. his midlife crisis purchase was dark-rimmed glasses, and i love to tease him :)

this is Victoria, AKA Tori. she's 14 and a sassy pants. i love her.

this is at Skansen, an outdoor museum

also at Skansen - the sky was AMAZING that day

me and my peanut - i looked a lot like her at her age

again, at Skansen

the Changing of the Guards at the Royal Palace

a view of Stockholm from the boat tour

they were very patient with me and my need to take pictures of EVERYTHING

a tower in the middle of the city - a landmark, of sorts

i took a lot more pictures, but these are just a few of their visit. THANKS for coming, guys!


grudgingly posting...

all these un-edited pictures! i've been using the free trial (over and over again) of Adobe Lightroom, and it's once again ran out on me. so, these pictures will unfortunately be un-edited...i was telling brad last night that putting a photo on my website that's not edited is comparable to me going outside naked. seriously. and he said, 'what's wrong with THAT?'

KIDDING! he didn't say that. he's always completely respectful, and never makes dirty, wrong jokes EVER. right, brad? ;) (okay, i'll quit. he really is not like that. he is the greatest.)

anyway. i have about a bajillion pictures to post, and i'll try to get them in order here of how things occurred. i'm not joking, my life has been so ridiculously crazy for the last month and a half. it's finally slowing down and i'm so, so thankful for that. oh, and i forgot to mention, i am coming home in FOUR months from yesterday! yes, i love it here. but that doesn't mean i don't miss home. quite the contrary.

SO. first order of business, a few weeks ago my Texas chica in Paris, Connie, came to visit me. to her i owe my decision to purchase my amazing Canon dSLR camera, and to spend lots and lots of time taking photo after photo after photo....this is what we do when we're together. take lots and lots of pictures. let me illustrate -

meet connie -

this is her Ralph Lauren shot - i told her she looks like an ad model here

this is Steninge Slött - you know Marie Antoinette? if you recall from the movie, she had an affair with a Swedish man. this is his home that we visited -

a statue of a woman in the facade of the house

from the entryway. i love shots like these...notice the star on the urn/vase and in the top of the house? that was the family crest.

this 'palace' was ridiculously old...i believe from the 1700's. connie's better with the history :)

we had a 'photo shoot' in front of this great old barn

one of my better manual shots - this is connie's expertise. she tutors me.

she's a pretty girl :)

this post literally took almost an hour and a half! i swear, sometimes posting these pictures can take way too long. due to that, i'm wiped. but i do have more pictures coming of my visit with my dad and my sister, AND France. hopefully those will come sooner than later ;)