all-american girl

i'm back in the U.S. of A...and it couldn't feel better.


saying goodbye

i'm saying goodbye to the kids tonight because we're leaving before they wake up in the morning for the airport. and i've - stupidly - been thinking all week that i wouldn't have a hard time with it at all. but here i am, bawling like a baby at the thought of going to say goodbye to them.

these three children were my reason for coming to Sweden, and while there were many times that they drove me crazy, i could never escape the fact that they are the sweetest, brightest, most fun children i've ever met. i realized tonight that i've seen them almost every single day this year, and spent so many days getting them ready for bed, making their breakfast, their dinners, driving them to school and to activities, holding them when they're hurt or crying, jumping with them on the trampoline, reading to them, cooking with them, drawing endless imaginative pictures, and just being their friend. i know the curve of Sixten's head, the softness of Klara's skin and the smallness of Kasper's hand. i know the foods they love (not too many) and the foods they hate (the list is ridiculous). i know that Klara hates lots of toothpaste on her toothbrush, and Sixten loves being tickled. Kasper has an imagination that's greater than mine will ever be.

love is such a crazy thing - it grabs you in unlikely places, and it's almost painful to experience the fullness of it...but yet, it leaves you wanting more.

all i can think of, as i get ready to head into their house and tell them goodnight for the very last time, is that i love these children. i love them fiercely, deeply and protectively. and thinking about how much i will miss them breaks my very heart.


is this legal?

went to pay my credit card this morning and saw a charge for $7.06. any guesses to what it was for? there's a lot of things you can get for 7 dollars...a Chipotle burrito, 2 small lattes from Caribou (two of the first purchases i will make this Friday).

but nope. i paid $7.06 for a BOTTLE OF COKE IN FRANCE. the price was around 5 Euros, which was astronomical, but i didn't so much care at that point cause i was about on the floor out of breath. but still - SEVEN dollars. for a bottle of Coke. ridiculous.

home in two days!


'a coke is always better with a view!'

that's what the waiter at the mountain-top restaurant said happily to me as i collapsed on his patio and ordered a Coke while gasping for breath after climbing UP the mountain for 30 minutes. and once i had drank half of the bottle, i was able to agree. the scenery in Chamonix, France - home of Mont Blanc, Europe's tallest mountain - is breathtakingly gorgeous.

here's some photos from the trip - all done in black and white. we all went rock climbing the last day, and the kids were outfitted for it in tiny little climbing shoes and harnesses. might have been the cutest darn thing i've seen all year.

and, on that note, my final trip with the family has come and gone. it was tons of fun, and reminded me yet again how blessed i am to be with such wonderful people. HOWEVER - i'm ready for home! just 3 more days :)



okay, ya'll...i'm about to DIE from the anticipation of going home! it's getting so bad...i actually have to keep asking the Lord to help me feel some sadness over leaving, cause i'm just so dang excited to get back. i'm sure i will be sad about a week after i get home.

today was one of those days where i was low on patience with the kids...Klara refused to sit by me at lunch cause my salad was 'stinky' - apparently the balsamic vinaigrette didn't agree with her. that was directly after - when making her lunch - she told me that she didn't like hot dogs anymore. i asked her when she stopped liking them, and her response? 'yesterday.' but, not to worry, it's only French hot dogs that she doesn't like. oh, of course.

(French food does have an interesting taste to it...not bad, just different. ketchup is different, their yogurt tastes different. and evidently, so do their hot dogs).

tomorrow is our last full day in France, and it should be a busy one. we're starting out the day by doing a High-Ropes course in the mountains, which will be followed by lunch, which will be followed by rock climbing, on actual rocks. no, i am not kidding. they really are this active...sometimes i wonder how i got in this family??

here's some recent photos i took of the tigers at the zoo in Sweden a few weeks ago...

all day long

as promised, here are a couple pictures of the french cows that graze in the field behind the house (it's actually the ski slope in the winter, funny, right?). they're pretty small, all black, and they wear these bells around their necks, as you can see in the first picture, that jangle all.day.long. i really enjoyed it at first, found it to be authentic and endearing. now it's more of a nuisance, actually. it reminds me of this video game that Kasper played over and over again in Bali that would have a 'whistle blowing' sound, and he played it so much that i swear i started hearing it in my sleep. that's how it is with these cows, i swear i've started to hear the bells in my sleep.

and speaking of sleep, the beds here have got to be the most comfortable beds i've ever slept in. like, ever. my bed is huge, has a big, thick feather bed on the mattress, and a big, giant down comforter with big, soft pillows. i practically get euphoric chills just laying in it at night.

anyway. my kiddos need a snack and i need some more french bread with brie....ah, the life. i will miss it :)


the final countdown

that's right....T-7 days. this is my final week in Europe...my final Friday, my final weekend, everything. and while i know i will miss my family here like crazy, i can't help but be THRILLED to be going home!

the plan, as of now, is to get in next Thursday into Minneapolis at 10:45pm, where i'll be picked up by Bobbie, my MPLS bff, and be whisked away to Applebees for a Perfect Margarita! yes, seriously, that is the first thing i want upon touching down in the United States. a margarita from Applebees. low class, perhaps. do i care? not at all. besides, my first choice would be a Chipotle burrito, but they close at 10pm. unfortunately. oh, and let's not forget the American-sized appetizer nachos from Applebees. those were a staple in college, and i love them to this day.

Friday i'm hoping to get something done with this mop of mine that barely passes as 'hair' right now...on the wishlist, a good cut and color from the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon. expensive and definitely more $$ than i would want to spend, but it's worth it. they do a great job. i just may not be eating for the next month. that night, my wonderful, amazing, sweet, handsome, manly boyfriend is taking me to dinner at Maggiano's, a fabulous Italian restaurant, and then taking me back to Hayward, Wisconsin, his hometown, which is soon to be my new residence!

alright, klara's taken over my lap and demanded we have a picnic outside...next to the French cows. cute, right? the bells were nice the first day, now they're just borderline annoying.

hope everyone has a great weekend!


min familj

'my family'...in Swedish.

i spent the day with the family at Grona Lund, an amusement park here in Stockholm. it's actually in a very beautiful location - right on the Baltic Sea. all of the rides have these amazing views of the sea, and the Old Town, Sodermalm, and Djurgarden...all the prettiest parts of Stockholm. anyway, it was pretty fun, we took the kids this afternoon and rode all of the kiddy rides, and me and Joakim and Annelie took turns going on the 'big' rides, like the Free Fall ride, and the Broomstick roller coaster. i love amusement parks, but Annelie and Joakim kept telling me, 'this isn't much compared to America's amusement parks!' and they were right...the US has some ridiculous roller coasters. but it was still a ton of fun.

after being at Grona Lund (i think it means Green Forest), we went to dinner at Pontus by the Sea, which is one of the nicest restaurants in Stockholm. it's situated right on the sea side, and today was a gorgeous day, so we spent the meal watching the boats come in and out of the harbor, and it was fabulous. the family - from the kids, of course - got me a necklace that's called 'Kisses' and it has 2 little silver 'X's that dangle off a big 'X', and it's supposed to signify a kiss from each kid. it's beautiful and delicate, and i love it.

let me just say, i will miss these days of having champagne BEFORE the meal, having a starter, a huge meal, followed by dessert and a latte. in 9 days it will be back to the world of 2 for 1 appetizers at Applebees...

i have to get packing for my trip to France tomorrow (the taxi is coming at 6AM - ugh), but here's a couple pictures from the night -


help me, Jesus! help me, Tom Cruise!

'help me, Oprah!'

those are one of my favorite lines in the Southern Classic movie, Talladega Nights. Will Ferrell, he's a funny man.

anyway, i'm at my new home, Wayne's Coffee, in Stockholm, and i'm tying to work on my resume. for some reason, i have absolutely no motivation to do so (even though this girl is very unemployed once i get home, and am going to need a job, STAT)...i decided that, after a year of working with 3 children - and those said children having a low level of English comprehension, thus making my communication with them extremely simple and basic - i have forgotten how to write professionally and intelligently. seriously. i have been working on my resume for TWO WEEKS and i'm still struggling.

for the countdown - NINE DAYS til i'm home! i only have three full days left in Stockholm...tomorrow, and then the two days after we get home from France before i fly back. it's so crazy to think about...my weekends in Sweden are all up. speaking of which, a few people have asked me what's going to happen to the blog here once i get home - i've been thinking it over...do i keep it up, shut it down...and i'm leaning towards keeping it up. i've really gotten into this whole thing! but the 'angle' will be a surprise, how about that? it'll be fun one, probably similar to this particular 'american girl in a new country' theme.

anyway. i need to work on the resume/CV...but i'll leave you with a few pictures i took at the summer house.


i could do this

this morning we went to the golf course to hit some balls at the driving range and then have lunch (cause we all hate cooking). this was our second time this week going, and maybe my....i don't know, 5th or 6th time going to the driving range? and while i never really seem to improve, i am finally managing to hit the ball every time, which puts me right on par with klara's abilities. but anyway.

so here we are, at the golf course, and i'm whacking balls about 50 feet away with the driver (that's bad, right?), and everyone around me is wearing khaki shorts, or pants, tennis shoes, sensible polos and nylon jackets. ew. not like what i'm wearing is much better: white shorts, navy-and-white striped shirt, flip flops (i'm not even sure these are allowed), and my standard big dangly earrings and big sunglasses. it was cute, if not completely impractical.

i'm really getting into the whole golfing thing, minus the over-60 'golf uniform', when we go to eat lunch at the clubhouse and i see her. the young golfer girl who has redeemed the fashion of the golf world.... she's wearing long, skinny black shorts, a bright pink tank top, a gray and bright pink argyle sweater, and black and pink Puma golf shoes. And, in a nod to N.M.B (i thought of you today!), giant pearl earrings. she topped the whole outfit off with a skinny pink headband.

i was sold, and decided then and there that, when i get home, i'm picking up golf. AND a cute argyle sweater.


the summer house

here's a few pictures from the last few days here at the sommarhuset (summer house). i love taking pictures of klara because, to me, she is everything that a little girl just IS. and the other two pictures are of the lake behind the house, and some of the brightly colored boats that dot the shoreline. i wish we had one of those belonged to us...across the lake is an old castle that, while you can't see it, the landscape of it looks absolutely beautiful...pastures, big trees, and old servant houses are visible from our side of the lake.

it actually looks a lot like the state of Wisconsin out here...which is where i'll be moving home to in just two weeks. more about that adventure later :)


the middle of nowhere

that's where i am right now - in the middle of Nowhere, Sweden. we spent 2 days at the big Zoo here, Kolmorden, and then have spent the remaining week at Farmor's (Joakim's mom's) summer house out in the boonies. it's been interesting, being in this farm country-rolling meadows-lakes-and-more-lakes area. it's actually very beautiful, and probably everything i imagine when i think of rural Sweden. only drawback is, there's very limited entertainment. my days consist of playing with the kids, laying out at the lake and reading, eating, and running in the evenings. it's been slightly bittersweet, cause every sweet word or goofy thing that the kids do that would normally go un-noticed has been that much sweeter and sillier cause i know that i'm leaving them in just two weeks.

we're here for two more days, and then back to Stockholm for one week, and next Thursday we'll take off for France for five days. that should be really cool, i hear that the ski slopes next to their French chalet turn into cow pastures in the summer with authentic French cows donning cowbells grazing in the Alps. Is that a photo op, or what??


beautiful bali

here's some pictures from my recent trip to Bali, Indonesia. they were taken in various locations, but these should give you a good idea of the culture. they're very into hinduism (check out the picture of the palm-leaf offerings, complete with a Ritz cracker), art (see the scary statue that was posted outside of our villa, and the two men playing those pipe things), and nature (i love the rice paddy and the volcano photos, but my favorite is of the mama monkey and her baby...i'm not an animal person so much, but you gotta admit, it's a sweet picture).


i think she'll need a band-aid...

this little booger here?

...gave me the SCARE of my life yesterday. like, horrible, bad, shook-me-up-for-hours scare.

so, i'm watching the kids while annelie is out playing golf, and i'm up in the kitchen emptying the dishwasher. the kids were all downstairs in the family's lower basement playing in the theater room. typical.

all of a sudden, i hear a bloodcurdling, 'SEANNA!!!!'

well. if you're a mom, or ever watched children, when you hear a kid scream like that...it's like your blood freezes and suddenly you're in overdrive; on a one-track mind to GET TO THE KIDS. i race down to find them, practically falling down the stairs, and Kasper meets me in the hallway, his eyes as big as pies. i start frantically asking, 'What?? What? What's wrong?'

he tries to tell me what is wrong, but he's so shook up that the poor thing couldn't even get it out in English, but all i heard him say was 'Klara, Klara...'

i'm still on my trek to the basement (it's actually a good distance from the kitchen) and i can hear klara screaming and crying. my heart is absolutely pounding at this point. i bust into the room and my heart drops -

my sweet little 5 year old is sitting on the floor crying, and her whole entire face is covered in blood. her hair is matted with it, it's on her clothes, it's everywhere. i scoop her up and am trying to find out what happened as i run her upstairs, blood just dripping all over the place.

getting her up to the kitchen, i locate the wound - on the corner of her forehead, and it is gushing blood. i'm trying to get her to tell me what happened, but she said she didn't know what it was 'in English'. how thoughtful of her...although at this point i think i probably would have understood in Swedish. she stops crying and actually settles down, and i'm putting on wads of paper towels on her head to try and slow the bleeding, but it isn't working.

call Annelie, can't get ahold of her. the bleeding isn't stopping, so i do the only thing i can think of...run over to the neighbors. they've got 3 kids themselves, and actually had a similar crisis about a month ago. the dad sees me running up the yard, also covered in blood and holding a crying child, and immediately runs over and takes klara from me.

klara's settled down (i think she was actually in shock) and is telling them what happened, and it turns out that this family's 5 year old daughter was playing with klara in the basement and pushed her as she was standing on the couch. klara then fell off and hit her head on the corner of the table.

these wonderful parents end up taking klara to the emergency room and i had finally gotten ahold of annelie at this point, so she was going to meet them. in the end, it turned out that they only had to glue her wound together (did anyone else know they did that?!?) and put a Band Aid on it.

so, klara came home from the doctor with a band aid and a popsicle, and she was just fine, thank God.

my favorite white shirt i was wearing? notsomuch.


a travesty

it should be absolutely illegal to be wearing jeans, a long sleeved shirt, rain boots AND a trench coat anytime in the month of JULY.

geez...no wonder the whole city is dead right now. everyone has to leave Stockholm to get to some warm weather. it's been raining for the past few days, and we're on our way to the summer house in a few days here...did i mention there's no internet, no phone and it's in the middle of nowhere? another reason why i'm counting down the days - 23 - until i come home.


you'll be in my heart

when i came to Sweden back in September, i remember praying all the time that i would make just one friend. just one. that was all i knew i would need to survive the year. because the Lord loves to answer our prayers, i was blessed with many great friends who i know that i'll be in touch with long after i've left Sweden.

however, there's two girls that i've spent hours upon hours with, and i've had some of the funnest and craziest times of my life with these two:

meet Philly and Nikki.

Nikki is from Texas and is very much a southern girl - loves partying, sports, looking pretty, and boys. Philly (Philippa, actually - how beautiful is that?!?) comes from New York City and is as much a city girl as you'll ever meet. She's smart as a whip, can talk to anybody with an ease i could only hope to have, and is one of the classiest and naturally beautiful girls i've ever met.

i can't even begin to imagine what this year would have been like without the two of them...i have laughed with them, cried with them, traveled with them, experienced life in a brand new city, country and continent, and most importantly, made two really, really great friends.

so, girls - here's to us, and this amazing year! i love you both, and can't wait for our reunion!


this is pitiful.

as i write this, i'm sitting in the terminal pictured above, which is actually Stockholm's main train station. no, i'm not going anywhere...I'M JUST USING THE INTERNET. cause we don't have it at our house right now. that includes a working telephone line.

(sounds like i live in the ghetto, or the boondocks. however, i live just 5km from Stockholm...but because the area that we live in is slightly rural in that it's on a lake and a dirt road, apparently the internet and the phone service has a tendency to get interrupted. don't even get me started on the service providers complete lack of service. another thing i hate, hate about Europe).

see, i've noticed that, the more and more my time winds down here, the more and more i could care less to be here. this reflects nothing of my life here, or my family, or anything, and has everything to do with the fact that i've got a case of 'senioritis', or 'au-pair-itis'. i'm absolutely itching to get home. so what do i do? spend all my time on the internet looking at jobs, places to live when i get home, making plans to meet up with friends, etc.

the fact that i'm having to use the Internet at the train station this morning has put me in an I HATE STOCKHOLM mood. i cannot even express how freaking annoying it is that coffee shops - coffee shops, for the love of God - don't open until 11am here. please just imagine my disbelief when i took the train and walked through town at 8AM to find one. i ended up at McDonalds, the only place open. i ordered a bagel and coffee and prayed that the Internet would work. nope...so then i walked, and walked, and walked and finally someone recommended that i try the train station.

good thing i have church in 45 minutes, cause i NEED an attitude adjustment....


lazy saturday

made it back to Stockholm safely this morning after a looong flight - as i said below, it was a 10 hour flight, but it left Bangkok at 1am (you can only imagine the bright, cheerful kiddos we were hauling through 8 concourses at 12:55am...my family here tends to wait til the last minute), so once they served our meals, which took about an hour and a half, they shut the lights off for the rest of the flight. sounds ideal, right? but seriously, i have such a hard time sleeping on airplanes, especially when the random man behind me is snoring loud enough for the entire plane to hear him. add to that about 3 straight hours of steady turbulence - no matter how much i fly, i still think the plane is crashing when it starts to shake - and sleeping is just not an easy thing.

but i suffered through, and here i am, sitting at a coffee shop in downtown Stockholm and charging the internet to my cell phone. which i don't pay for. but the internet is again broken at the house, so that leaves me few options.

anyway, let's see...here's a few pictures from Bali -

the villa - everything was outdoors, except the bedrooms

this is me being really, really excited at the great big bathtub that awaits me :)

there really were palm trees growing out of the ceiling in our bathroom

sixten in his swimming goggles

me and my Swedes. i love them. even klara, when she refuses to smile, or even look at the camera.

this is at the monkey forest - the humidity was ridiculous...which leads me to the question, why am i wearing my hair down??

me with the little men - sixten would not quit making kung fu moves during this picture

annelie with klara. she's a great mom.

these men were playing for a group of young Balinese dancers

a woman carrying her daily offering to the Hindu god through the market

i have more pictures, but these are the ones on my computer. all in all, it was a great trip, but i think i liked Thailand a lot more. i'm a beach girl to the core, and the beaches in Bali were nowhere near as beautiful as those in Thailand.

well, i need to wrap it up here. my hair is seriously about to commit a mutiny on my head if i don't get the ends trimmed, so that's my goal for the weekend. and to get my resume/cover letter/transcripts/references together...ugh. i hate doing stuff like that.

hope everyone had a great 4th of July!