It's been over a week since we returned from Öland, a week during which I started back at work and The Swede and Jambo have enjoyed more summer break. Sarianne, Julia, Jamie and I drove to the island on a beautiful, sunny Sunday, making stops at a gorgeous church and McDonald's along the way.
When we arrived, however, it was raining cats and dogs, a grim start to what we had hoped would be a few days of island sun. The rain did let up eventually, though, and we were able to enjoy the camping site and lovely views.
The first night, we played minigolf and Julia creamed the rest of us. We also played a lot of games and cards in the cabin, played bocce and badminton in the yard, Julia taught herself how to do a cartwheel, and Sarianne and I enjoyed one or two glasses of champagne. The clouds even parted for a couple hours so that we could go swimming.
The second night we were there, we had gone to the camping site's grocery store to get ice cream, when who should walk in but The Swede! He was supposed to be working that week, but had taken the five-plus hour drive to surprise us! Jambo and I were overjoyed, obvs.
The next day, we drove up the coast to the northermost tip of the island, passing a medieval fort and dozens of old, wooden windmills along the way. We also stopped by a touristy sand beach and dipped our feet in the Baltic, and visited a petting zoo and camel farm where Julia was the only one brave enough to ride one.
The other significant thing we did was plan another trip to Öland next summer, we had such a good time!
Our second week of vacation started on an awesome note when we discovered that a KFC was opening about an hour from our house! The Swede kindly pulled off the highway for an unplanned, early lunch as soon as we saw the sign. We ordered a bucket and decided just a few pieces into it that we didn't need to do that again for awhile.
We continued on toward Skara Sommarland amusement park, where we met up with Erin and Svante and the kids. It was fun, but very crowded and exhausting, as evidenced by these images.
The week since we got home from Skara Sommarland has been a blur of sixth birthday preparation and celebration, with a trip to Parken Zoo and an overnight at the summer cabin thrown in.
Jamie had a great birthday, got lots of presents, ate a ton of cake and candy, and spent lots of time with his friends.
His Pokémon-themed party was a huge success, with bingo and a piñata being the high points.
We had the pleasure of The Johansson's company again yesterday when they came over to our place for dinner. The Swede took us all fishing and made sure that each of the boys caught something. It's been a nice, relaxing week around the house, which was necessary because on Saturday Jamie and I are heading off for a week in a tiny cabin with Sarianne, Elin, Julia, and Elin's boyfriend. It promises to be intense. You'll hear from me again soon!
This kid, you guys. Obviously I love him more than life itself, but I also really, really like him. He is a true pleasure to be around. He's clever and funny, making jokes (in both Swedish and English) that are so spot-on it sometimes blows The Swede and me away. The way Jamie sees the world is endlessly fascinating and I'm trying to learn as much about it - about him - as I can. I love to fika with this kid and to put him to bed; this is when he does all his best talking and I find out so much about what's on his mind, what he's curious about, what he cares about. (The Swede wrote this while Mara was away, i Love Mara sooo much. Best mom and best wife ever.) He has an incredible memory and our family loves reminding each other of things that we've done and Jamie often brings up events that we had forgotten about or can't believe that he can remember because he was so little. He's also incredibly good at math, adding and subtracting two and three digit numbers easily in his head, stuff The Swede and I couldn't do until we were much older than he is. We're both useless with numbers, so this ability and enthusiasm is particularly surprising. If you don't know him, I wish you did. He's cuddly, loud, and open with us, a bit more careful with everybody else, but his sweet soul shines through wherever he goes. I feel so lucky that we got this particular kid, that he's our family. I daresay this is the coolest six-year-old alive.
Here we are on Sunday evening, just finishing up the laundry before we head out on the next leg of our summer break. It began last Sunday when we drove up to the ski village of Sälen where we had rented a cabin for four nights. It was very cold and rainy up there, so much so that we were forced to buy new jackets. We spent a lot of time chilling in the cabin, playing cards and video games, but also swam a ton and spent some time bundled up out in nature.
Jamie and I painted dalahästar, which was basically a dream come true. The best activity with the best company.
One day, we took a short drive to the Norwegian border and stood in two places at once.
The Swede finally got to break in his fly fishing gear and I'm pretty sure it was his good-time equivalent of my painting dalahästar.
We also took a hike to Sweden's highest waterfall, the majestic Njupeskär, and it was the highlight of the week.
On the way home, we spent a night in Tällberg, per tradition, and it was as lovely as ever.
And no trip to Dalarna is complete without a stop at the knäckebröd factory.
Yesterday, back home and in the thick of unpacking and repacking, we took a break and headed into the city to catch some Pokémon. The day before was the crown princess's 40th birthday so the castle was decked out in fresh flowers. Also, there were people EVERYWHERE. Somehow I had forgotten how packed with tourists Stockholm becomes in the summer. In some spots it was difficult to even get around, but we enjoyed it regardless.
Stay tuned later in the week for a report from our next adventure!