Thursday, March 31, 2011

Week Twenty-Six

For weeks now this baby has been embarassing me in front of The Swede.  It would kick around in there so hard that I could feel and see it from the outside, so I'd wait a bit to establish that there was an ongoing gymnastics session in progress and only then ask The Swede to put his hand on my belly and try to feel something.  Time is money and I'm not trying to waste resources here.  Despite my best efforts to be judicious with The Swede's precious time and not pester him constantly with the goings-on inside of me, the little bugger would quit moving every time The Swede would get anywhere near me.  Until this week!  Finally he got to feel a good, strong kick and the look on his face was one of the best things I've ever seen.  I guess it's probably pretty easy for expectant fathers to forget or feel left out of the day-to-day of pregnancy, so I'm glad The Swede got to experience that at long last.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Teeny Tiny Cons Part II: The Green Mile

The glut of child criminals in Sweden was made apparent again along this path behind our office building.  I'm pleased to report, however, that all the hand-holding, hugging and singing that I witnessed from this particular chain gang proved to me that even the most hardened, corrupt thugs have a soft side.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Take A Number

I witnessed something EXTRA Swedish this evening, folks.  I went into the city to get photos taken for my new passport ('cause, you know, I have a new name) and there was public transport chaos in progress.  Apparently there was some problem with the electricity on the subway signals so a large portion of two different subway lines on the north side of the city were closed down, leaving a huge overflow of commuters to the busses.  As I approached Central Station to catch the train home I noted that even amidst the pandemonium the Swedes were being their typical, unobjectionable selves and actually queuing at a bus stop.  Heaven forbid someone should board the bus ahead of someone else who had been there longer.  If that electrical thing doesn't get resolved pronto I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see numbered ticket systems installed in the bus stops just to keep things as fair and orderly as we've all come to expect.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Bit Of Green And Purple

Every day while I'm nuking some delicious treat in the microwave at work, I flip through the morning paper.  And not to be a total philistine here, but I really only care about the weather.  After what feels like years of looking at the map of Sweden and seeing only blue, which represents all temperatures below freezing, I am pleased to say that the forecast has been delightfully green lately, meaning that spring is definitely on the way.  More proof:  little purple buds poking through the end-of-winter grit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

City Lunch Date

Today I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my friend Sepideh.  We had lunch at Kulturhuset, sat by the window overlooking Sergels Torg and watched the political demonstrations below.  It was a reasonably warm, sunny day, plus it's the day after payday so there were tons of people out and about.  We fought the crowds to do a little shopping at Gallerian and then went to NK because Sepideh wanted to buy me flowers as congratulations on the wedding and baby.  Our schedules don't allow it very often anymore, but I love spending time with this sweet, classy lady. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Working Like A Dog

Check out the cute neighbors in our office building!  If I had known this was allowed, Nelson and Saba would have been carpooling with us every day 'cause it's been super busy at work lately.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Week Twenty-Five

Look!  It's light enough to take a picture outside when we get home from work!  Yippee!  But, dudes. Ouch. My back is killing me.  It hurts so badly and so perpetually that I'm having trouble breathing.  Or maybe that's my lungs being squished because I do believe my passenger has grown up into my chest as far as possible and now only has the option to grow out.  Despite my mom thinking I look like I'm carrying a moose (totally not possible, though, since we didn't go past first base), I thought my bump was pretty reasonable for five months and some change.  Well, whatever it looks like, it feels majorly uncomfortable all of a sudden.  And it all started on Tuesday afternoon.  I was cruising right along until then and now it's backache city.  Good thing there are only three or so months left and it can't possibly get any worse.  Heh.  Excuse me while I go lie down.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grease Monkey

Nothing like a midday, business casual, mall parking lot oil check to let you know you married the right man.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Matchy Matchy

Nelsi loves the crevasse.  And he blends in there so well that once The Swede panicked thinking he was lost, but actually he was just taking a nap.


I'm jealous of my unborn child.  That's right.  See, yesterday on our lunch break The Swede and I went to Big Baby to order our stroller since it has a long delivery time and I was offered a free box full of goodies for preggos.  Or so I thought.  At home that evening I tore the lid off and did an inventory of the contents and everything was for the baby except a lousy magazine which I've already read three times in the midwife's waiting room and a sample of stretch mark oil.  Um, hello?  It says "pregnant" on the box not "baby".  I have to admit that two pacifiers, newborn diapers, wipes, washes and lotions galor, a forehead thermometer (humanity has come a long way since 1982), and lots more - ALL FREE! - is pretty sweet, but would a coupon for a massage and maybe some jewelry for the lady doing all the work have killed them? 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Latrine Dreams

As I mentioned when we signed the papers, our new home is pretty much perfect for us.  Nevertheless, The Swede has dreams of a deluxe bathroom with a jacuzzi, a sauna, a shower with a radio and a port for his iPhone, heated floors, and so on.  I don't think I need to clarify that our new home does not have any of these things nor does it have the space required to install them.  One can dream, though.  Which is just what we did on Sunday at Bauhaus.  We strolled slowly through the bathroom department, opening and closing shower doors and ooing and ahing over tubs big enough to host a pool party.  The luxury of two bathrooms, which I assure you has not been lost on us, will have to do for now, though.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Wedding Day

Now, for a few pictures of our wedding day!  We got married on Friday afternoon at Kungsängen's city hall in front of Mama and Papa Swede, Sarianne, Magnus, Elin and Julia, who were all dressed to the nines.  When we first got engaged we thought we might have a wedding here in Sweden this spring and then another in the States during the summer, but Baby Swede came onto the scene and threw a wrench in that plan.  Since travel was out of the question for us and because it would have been nigh impossible to get all my loved ones here, we opted to keep it simple, which is much more our style anyway.  It's a good thing we did, too, because even as low-key as it was, we were both pretty nervous.  The ceremony only took about two minutes, though, then we signed our names in a book and dropped the little girls off at the sitter and headed into the city.
We had arranged for the six of us to stay at a hotel overnight so we checked in and gathered for champagne in one of rooms before dinner.  And dinner - wow - it was right up my alley.  We went to Wallmans Salonger and saw "Thank You For The Music", a tribute to the music of Björn and Benny of ABBA!  Just like the ceremony, we didn't know what to expect from the evening, but it tuned out to be perfect. 
 As tends to happen at these sort of things, they involved the audience in the show a bit and Papa Swede was lucky enough to be serenaded.
 And they announced our marriage with balloons and a special cake.  Swedes don't typically like to be the center of attention, but as you can see The Swede made an exception on this occasion. 
After the show, they cleared all the tables away to reveal a dancefloor and pumped all the greatest dance hits, including the classic American wedding song, the Village People's "YMCA".  We were exhausted - it was several hours past my pregnancy bedtime - but The Swede took me for a spin on the dancefloor as the perfect end to our perfect day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

As Long As We Both Shall Live

In the summer of 2008 I was in my last months of working in customer service and logistics at Swagelok Company in Cleveland.  I loved my job, but I had wanted to go back to school for a Masters of Theology for years and it felt like the right time.  That last summer at Swagelok was especially fun, probably because I was able to really enjoy and appreciate the positive aspects of my job knowing that there was an expiration date on my time there.  Also, the customer service department was hosting a group of European distributorship associates and my favorite part of that job was sharing meals and going shopping with visiting customers during the week that they were in Cleveland. 

One evening our department held a carnival-themed event for the group, an event that I was not signed up to attend but which, at the last minute, I decided to crash.  I spent the evening schmoozing with the Germans and the Italians and the Scottish without so much as a word exchanged with the Swede whose name nobody could pronounce.  I get a little shy around tall, well-dressed, smoking-hot foreigners, so I wasn't about to approach him.  At the end of the evening, though, when the crowd was thinning as the corporate employees headed home and left the Europeans to their own devices, the Swede came over to introduce himself.  "Hi," he said, "I'm The Swede, but you may know me as Carl from my emails."  I totally knew Carl from his emails.  He was the one who always said to have a great day or enjoy your weekend where most of my other customers were strictly business.  "You're Carl?" I said in disbelief.  "I thought Carl was old and fat!"  Maybe not my most professional moment, but I couldn't believe this tall, well-dressed, smoking-hot foreigner standing in front of me was good ol' reliable Carl, our favorite contact in Stockholm.  "Well I thought Damara was very boring," he answered and I fell in love.  He was in Cleveland for three more days, days full of meetings and a trip to Niagara Falls, but we spent every moment we could together in that time.  I couldn't wait to hear the next thing that was going to come out of his mouth.  We talked about getting married in Vegas dressed up as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.  I loved the way he said my name.  He told me not to touch the hair.  I still don't know if he was kidding or not.  And after I dropped him off at the airport for his flight back to Stockholm I sobbed in my car until I made myself snap out of it since I would clearly never see him again and what, was I going to mourn a relationship that never actually was?

My friend Kate and I drove to Nashville to meet my new roommate and visit the Vanderbilt Divinity School campus that same day.  I tried to put The Swede out of my mind but then he called.  And he kept calling every day, and emailing, and then he bought a ticket to come spend a week with me at my new home in Nashville.  We visited Graceland and laid by the pool and went to the movies and watched a couple seasons of Entourage and bought inexpensive American clothes and ate good food.  He set up Skype on my laptop and we talked about me visiting him in Sweden at Christmastime.  And then he went home and I didn't feel like I'd never see him again this time, but I also knew that it was possible that this long distance, with four months before I'd see him again, may never work.  But we kept emailing.  We sent each other long messages every single day; if I didn't get an email one day I would have thought he had died, he was that reliable, that trustworthy.  He told me he loved me.  Despite the huge time difference, we Skyped whenever we could and I cannot begin to explain how important that was.  There were times when I missed him so much I felt like I couldn't breathe and then, when I heard his voice and saw his face, I was revived in the fullest sense of the word. 
Meanwhile, divinity school was knocking the religion right out of me.  I was disenchanted in a way I never could have predicted and made the decision in the middle of my first semester that I had no interest in spending tens of thousands of dollars to finish an education in something that I likely wouldn't want to be associated with when all was said and done.  I finished the semester and then withdrew; one of the best decisions I've ever made and one which led to another of the best decisions I've ever made.  The Swede and I started talking about me moving to Sweden.  He had a great job at the Swagelok distributorship and owned his home, while I was a grad school drop-out with a lease ending in June.  After visiting Stockholm during the last week of December in 2008, I knew it was someplace I could picture myself.  Scratch that.  Any place with The Swede was a place I could picture myself. 
When I got back to the States we started the process of applying for a Swedish residence permit, an undertaking that required a ton of paperwork on both ends, a trip to St. Louis for an interview with the embassy and a lot of waiting.  After four months, a FedEx envelope arrived on my doorstep with my passport inside and on one page was my new residence permit, one of the most beautiful and terrifying things I've ever seen.  I Skyped The Swede, my hands shaking and tears in my eyes, and we set a date for the big move.  But first he came back to the US one more time to meet my Cleveland and Nashville family and friends, who all approved.  Big time. 
In July 2009, one year and three weeks after we met and after only about 20 full days together, I moved to Sweden with two suitcases and have not stopped laughing.  The next summer we got engaged.  The following fall we got pregnant.  And yesterday we got married.  And I cannot wait to hear the next thing that is going to come out of his mouth.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week Twenty-Four

It's week twenty-four and I'm in love.  The baby is moving around a lot these days and as strange as it sometimes feels, it's like a little greeting from within and it makes my heart burst every time.  Like the other day at our big business meeting in Switzerland I wanted to ask a question during a presentation and I got really nervous that I would sound stupid or trip over my words.  My heart was pounding so hard as I got ready to speak up until the baby patted me softly three times as if to say, "Calm down, Mom.  It's gonna be a-okay."  And it worked.  Settled me right down.  Then, last night as I lay down for bed, the baby stuck out its little leg and just held it out.  I flipped on the light to look at my belly and there was totally a lump on one side where its foot was and I cracked up.  Baby Swede wanted to get in one more chuckle before bed.  What a ham, this kid.  I think it's going to fit in just fine.   

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Labors Of Love

At Emerson Elementary School in Bozeman, Montana, the 2nd graders celebrated being able to count all the way to 100 with One Hundred Day.  I was in Mrs. Pool's class and we were told to bring in 100 of something - anything - on One Hundred Day.  Some kids brought 100 pennies, others brought baggies of food like raisins or Cap'n Crunch, but my mom sewed 100 different buttons onto the front of a blue sweatshirt for me to wear that day.  Just a little side project while raising 3 kids and studying nursing full-time at Montana State University.  And, no kidding, it looked cool.  In school on One Hundred Day, when we all gathered on the rug at the front of the room to share with Mrs. Pool and our classmates the 100 things we had brought, I knew in the unassuming way that a 7-year-old experiences pride that my 100-button-sweatshirt was the best.  I wore that shirt again and again until I grew out of it and I wish I still had it.  So here's to you, Mom, for those 100 buttons, on my 500th blog post.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fancy Feet

The Swede and I have both recently been shopping for some fancy new shoes, having a fancy-shoes-required event coming up and all.  We went looking for his on a lunch break and I got some mom practice in, running back and forth between The Swede and the saleslady with different pairs and different sizes.  I skipped pinching the toe to make sure there's room to grow, though, since I'm pretty sure he's all done.  At least I hope so.  Fancy shoes aren't cheap so these need to last.  See, I sound like a mom already.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lone Star

I didn't mention this in my big travel post from yesterday because it deserves a post all its own.  Oh, Arlanda Starbucks, lonely though you may be, you represent your brand so well.  I only get to have a Grande Decaf Skinny Vanilla Latte when I fly somewhere, but the three times this year have been such a delight and worth the wait every time.  Even The Swede, who hates coffee, agreed that the one I had on Thursday evening while waiting for our flight to take off was a work of art.  I am, however, still salty that this is the only location in the entire country, and even saltier that flying directly after consuming my delicious beverage means that I can only enjoy a grande otherwise I'm pretty sure my neighbors on the plane would resent my constant bathroom trips.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Swiss Bliss

I guess I should have mentioned that I was going to be away for a few days, but I always imagine that I may have internet access and the energy to blog at the end of a long day of international superstardom.  Alas, I had neither on this past weekend's trip to Switzerland.  Our company has a factory in Lachen, which The Swede and the rest of our colleagues visited on Friday after flying to Zurich and spending the evening at the swankest hotel of my life on Thursday night.  Two bathrooms, you guys.  More square footage than our apartment.  We were only in Lachen one night, though, and took a bus up through the Alps to Engelberg on Friday afternoon.
That evening we had a long, lively dinner at a sweet little Swiss lodge whose specialty was a cheese fondue so stinky that its partakers were relegated to an entirely different floor than the rest of the restaurant.  The meat fondue, however, was a big hit at our table.  As was the ever-flowing wine.
Even after that late night, most of our group was up with the sun to strap on their skis and tackle Mount Titlis.  The five of us who didn't ski spent the morning at a reasonable elevation, enjoying the warm spring sun in the valley below. 
Later, though, we took the Rotair rotating lift all the way up over 10,000 feet to the peak of Titlis and had lunch at the highest restaurant in Europe.  I thought Flat Destini might like it up there too, and she surely didn't have as much trouble breathing the thin air as I did.  'Cause, you know, she has thin lungs.  Heh.
We flew home yesterday evening, but not before visiting the cheese factory at the monestary in Engelberg where we endured even more stinky fondue.  Made me appreciate bland ol' hushålsost, that's for sure.
It was awesome to get to travel somewhere I've never been before and spend time getting to know my colleagues better.  Our flight arrived back in Stockholm after 10:00 last night so we were all incredibly tired at work today, but it was absolutely worth it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mamma Sushi

There are certain foods one is not supposed to eat when with child, all of them delicious and all of a sudden immeasurably more appealing than they ever were before when you could eat them whenever you felt like it.  Lucky us whose pregnancies are spanning Lent, making our sacrifices of deli meat, soft cheese, alcohol and juicy, rare steak a given.  Sushi, too, is under scrutiny and there's lots of varying information about whether or not it's safe to eat.  These days the general concensus seems to be that it's okay if you eat it the same day that it's made, but in case you want to be extra careful you can order "mamma sushi".  I've never seen this in the States and I ate a lot of sushi over there but every sushi restaurant I've been to in Sweden has a selection of vegetarian and cooked fish on the menu especially for those of use carrying chopsticks for two.  That's Sweden's Japanese looking out for our tiniest citizens. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Something New

Of all the reasons a shotgun wedding may not be the most desirable option - no champagne being the most important, obviously - lack of availability of cute bridalwear is seldom mentioned.  It should be, though, let me tell you, because there really aren't that many options for the knocked-up bride.  Especially if she doesn't want long or white or too formal and the temperature is barely above freezing.  So I've been pounding the pavement and placing orders online and having no luck at all.  Today, however, a dress that I ordered from Nordstrom in the US arrived and it was exactly what I wanted.  I'm so relieved and super pumped to raise a glass in this little number, which you will see more of soon enough.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Everybody knows that Swedish is a silly language.  One of the sillier features, in my opinion, is the interchangeable usage and pronunciation of the letters v and w.  I'm mystified as to why both are pronounced with the v sound in Swedish (why even have w in the alphabet in that case, am I right?) and never fail to get a chuckle when I hear Swedes pronouncing an English v-word with the w sound.  Wiking, for example, or wolleyball.  Womit is another of my favorites.  Their English is still significantly better than my Swedish, but c'mon, I can't just let it slide.  That wouldn't be very American.  Anyway, I've grown accustomed to this silliness over the past 19 months, but nothing prepared me for the name of the nail polish I purchased at H&M today.  It's called Wawawoom.  It took me a second to even figure out just what I was reading and when it hit me it literally took my breath away.  Because obviously wawawoom is a far superior word to vavavoom. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Medalist

Somebody in this family is a champion and his name is The Swede.  Today my betrothed woke up early and headed out to the lake to compete in yet another ice-fishing competition and apparently the practice has paid off because he won in his demographic and, even more impressive, beat Papa Swede, Master Fisherman.  So along with smelly laundry, The Swede brought home 100 kronor, a medal and oodles of glory.  Just one more reason I'm a lucky lady.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Week Twenty-Two

If you've ever been pregnant during the internet age, you're probably aware that there are any number of pregnancy websites that will describe, week-by-week, how your baby is developing.  Beyond details about organ development and how it's looking (ours has eyebrows now!), the sites often compare its size to that of supermarket produce.  So this week, at about 10 inches and 1 pound, Baby Swede is the size of a spaghetti squash.  Now, I enjoy a good gourd as much as the next guy, but I don't know a spaghetti squash from a hole in the ground.  What I DO know is burritos.  I didn't get out a scale or a ruler or anything, but I imagine 10 inches and 1 pound are the approximate specifications of tonight's Serrano burrito dinner.  Which means I fit TWO items of those dimensions in my gut this evening and I probably deserve a pat on the back.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baking Some Breakfast

I don't feel like cooking especially often these days, let alone get a hankering to try making something for the first time, so when I got it in my head to try baking biscuits today I figured I'd better go with it.  There are plenty of things that biscuits go well with, of course, but they felt like part of breakfast in this case so I picked up some potatoes, eggs and bacon on the way home and fixed a big American breakfast for dinner.  The biscuit recipe promised that they'd turn out like KFC's, which I can assure you they did not, but I can also assure you they weren't half bad for my first attempt.  And now my conscience is relieved a little if I decide to skip cooking the next couple of dinners.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More On The Topic Of Cheese

Hushållsost = household cheese.  Like household cleaner or household budget.  Something that every household requires that you don't necessarily need specifics on.  Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this is funny, that there is apparently not a better way to describe just, you know, cheese.  Because that's all hushållsost is, really.  Not brie, nor cheddar, nor gouda.  Boring, generic and yet something that no household should be without.