Saturday, April 30, 2011


Since today is Valborg we got half a day off of work yesterday and I turned it into a full day by taking the morning off to run another errand at the tax office in the city.  I don't get into Stockholm that often, and probably will less now that we live further away, so I decided that while I was there I'd better swing by Kungsträdgården and see the cherry blossoms that I knew were in bloom this week.  Just like my visit last year, it was a beautiful day and there were a ton of people out enjoying the sunshine and photographing the blossoms.  It was Facebook profile picture city out there.  

Friday, April 29, 2011


Today some new young couple will move into our apartment and it won't be our apartment anymore.  They will never know that it was the first home I ever set foot in in Sweden, the first place I ever lived with a boyfriend, the first place The Swede and I made a home together, where we put on our wedding clothes and took pictures of our baby growing inside my belly.  They'll never know how the laughter bounced off the walls of their new apartment, but I hope they have it just as good here as we did.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Week Thirty

… and the hormones are clearly a’rampagin'.

So, wow, we’re in the thirties and Baby Swede’s arrival is closing in. It has felt so far away for so long but now, in the final quarter, I'm starting to feel a bit panicky about all that we need to do to get ready. And then there’s the reality that we probably still won’t be ready even after the nursery walls are painted and the diapers purchased. There’s the fear, for one thing. Last night as I was falling asleep I realized that the baby hadn’t moved in hours, even while I was lying in a position it typically loves (or hates, who knows) based on the action in my belly. I lay there willing the baby to wake up and poke me so I would know it was okay in there and feeling overwhelmed already by my concern about the wellbeing of this child that I haven’t even met yet. Imagine how it’s going to be when I actually get to hold it, when it gets a personality, when it becomes a he or a she. My mom has always told me when I would say, frustrated, that I understood that she worried about me that, no, I couldn’t understand nor would I until I was a mother. I think I’m starting to get the slightest inkling of what she meant and I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that kind of fear. Maybe in eight to ten weeks, though. Here’s hoping. Oh, and there's been a sommersault training session in there all day so no worries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes

I've been so excited to have a kitchen with some natural light (though, we did have some pretty sweet artificial lighting going on in the old kitchen) so that I could grew some of my own herbs.  You know, for all the gourmet cooking I do.  Pssht.  Anyway, I got a kit to grow basil, parsley and chives and set them in the windowsill about a week ago.  Yesterday morning I noticed that tiny little basil leaves had sprouted and then today it looked like this!  We're going to be eating fresh caprese salad before we know it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Wedding Ring Saga

I had a fellow choir and theatre dork in college who has since become an incredibly talented photographer.  I love browsing the wedding and engagement photos on her website and am always especially impressed with the creative shots she does of the couples' rings, sometimes balanced precariously between the brides shoes or mingling with some other tiny detail of the wedding or sitting in a beautiful bloom.  Well, this is the ghetto version a la Damara.  I snapped about a dozen of these shots and this is the best and the rings are still a little fuzzy.  Obviously I'm no pro, but you get the idea right?  Okay, now that we've established why I've posted a picture of a couple of rings straight chilling on an orchid, let me tell you about them.  When we got engaged, The Swede and I searched high and low for the right ring and found my sweet little ring at a private jeweler in Cleveland.  Or rather, it found me.  I saw it in the glass case and it winked and ask to share its life with me.  It was exactly what I wanted, even though I'd never seen anything quite like it: understated, gold, low-profile so it wouldn't get caught on stuff, and with secure settings for the stones because I worry about things like that.  Finding a wedding ring to go with it proved to be a bit of a challenge, though.  I didn't want anything that would overwhelm the engagement ring and I couldn't find a simple gold band that matched.  When we actually got married, we just exchanged the rings we already had and I wouldn't have minded never having a second ring.  But then I hit and found this artist who seemed to have made the perfect complement.  I placed an order, got it in the mail a few weeks later and I was right, it was perfect.  It's smaller than my engagement ring and sits right up against it like they were made for each other.  And now we're a sweet little trio.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sarianne's Samples

On Friday we went over the Mama and Papa Swede's to enjoy Easter dinner with the family and got a little bonus in the form of a presentation on toothpaste by market researcher Sarianne.  She is on board with an organization that sends out samples of new products for her to introduce and distribute to friends and family and then gather information from them on what they think about the products.  Friday's sample was Pepsodent White Now whitening toothpaste.  I'm hoping the next one is jewelry.  Or cars.  Either would be fine, really.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sun Day

What a beautiful Easter!  It was like the most perfect summer day you could ask for, smack in the middle of spring, so The Swede and I took advantage by heading to the golf course and met up with his friend Emil and Emil's mom.  They played nine holes while those of us with no skills played dogsitter.  That would be me.
Afterward we went to Emil's mom's beautiful home for lunch.  She has the most amazing back yard overlooking a lake, which Emil and The Swede hit a couple dozen balls into.
Lunch wasn't free, though, so The Swede had to earn it for us by climbing a ladder and sawing a branch off of a tree while simultaneously giving me a panic attack.  It was much higher than it looks like in this picture, trust me.
We've been working on our home for the rest of the day, organizing our closets and storage shed, and right now The Swede is banging around upstairs building our new Ikea bed.  It feels great to have gotten so much done today and still have had time to enjoy the sunshine.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Waffle Love

We spent a lovely day outside planting flowerbeds in our new yard, grilling burgers and spending time with family and friends in the 60-something degree sunshine and I was a terrible blogger and didn't take even one picture.  What I did manage to remember to photograph, however, was yesterday's leisurely breakfast.  The Swede had gone over to a friend's house early to help build a garden shed and I couldn't make myself begin unpacking and organizing our many boxes of clothes so I spent the morning breaking in some new appliances instead.  We had received a Jamie Oliver food processor from the Segerstens as a wedding gift and a waffle iron from family friends Gurra and Gunilla as a housewarming gift so I used the processor to grind some coffee beans and made my first ever waffles with the iron.  The waffles weren't as pretty as they could have been, but they'll get better with practice.  So I guess it's going to be waffles for breakfast till I get my skills up to par.  Bummer, right? 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week Twenty-Nine

I know that there's been a pregnant woman for literally ever single human who's ever graced the planet, but I still feel like a member of a super exclusive club sometimes.  I used to think that preggos walked funny because of all that weight in front of them and now that I'm a club member I know that it's because our backs are killing us.  And why were pregnant ladies always rubbing their bellies?  I now understand that it's because it is impossible to keep your hands off a huge new body part that is growing more rapidly than a person's body has taught them to expect.  During this past week I've been so focused on the move and the new place that I've almost forgotten that I'm pregnant at times, but now that things will be settling down a bit I'm going to try to relish my finite membership in Club Waddle.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

It's Skärtorsdagen and the witches are out and about in our neighborhood.  I decorated a bush in our front yard with blue and yellow feathers and we bought a ton of candy in anticipation of all the kiddos we expected to ring our doorbell.  I couldn't wait for that, though, and ran out to meet them when I saw a group approaching.  They gave me drawings of chicks and bunnies and Easter eggs and I gave them baggies of candy tied up with ribbon and I got to meet their moms, our new neighbors.  It's all significantly less solemn than the Maundy Thursday I became accustomed to back at church in Cleveland, but they don't trick-or-treat here and kids need their candy, right?  Speaking of which, The Swede and I are earnestly observing the adult Halloween tradition of hoping that few enough kids show up to leave some candy for us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Couple of Peter Pan Complexes

Guess who was the fastest in the neighborhood to run to the ice cream truck when it pulled up outside our house the other day?  Me, duh.  I wasn't trying to let the kids buy up all the good stuff.  My enthusiasm could only be matched by my husband who alerted me to its arrival by shouting, "The ice cream truck is here!  Get your wallet!  IT'S FUN!"  It is indeed.  Fun and dangerous.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Downstairs

Okay, let's begin the house tour, shall we?  I'm going to take you around the downstairs today since the upstairs is really just a pile of boxes and a mattress on the floor at the moment.  Oh, and I apologize that these pictures aren't especially well-lit as they were taken early this morning before the sun was really shining.  Which it actually does quite regularly now, God bless spring!
So, you saw a bit of the kitchen from moving day and this shot gives you an idea of how the laundry room fits into the floorplan, but I'll skip a photo of that because it's cat stuff and cleaning stuff and the furnace and (WOOHOO!) a washing machine. 
Here is the hallway from just inside the front door, with the kitchen to the right and the living room straight ahead.  We're not sure what we'll do with the great space under that staircase once the boxes are gone.  It is one of a few areas of the house that feel particularly luxurious because we don't have to fill it with something out of necessity.  Stroller parking, maybe.  Oh, and the previous owners had a toddler and generously left safety gates for both the top and the bottom of the staircase. 
Here's "my" bathroom.  Before we moved in we decided on a bathroom splitsky that was pretty arbitrary, but turned out perfect because The Swede is too tall to see himself in the downstairs bathroom mirror.  Plus, the upstairs one is much more macho.  You'll see that later in the upstairs post.
The living room is about the size of our entire old apartment, however it's so long and narrow that our sofa can only fit in this spot, which gives us a bit of a TV placement challenge, especially since we're getting a longer media cabinet.  I feel confident we'll figure it out, though.  Not to brag, but in general we're pretty clever.  And, hey, if you have any ideas let me know!
And here is the other side of the living room, which I think would be a perfect spot for some tall shelves where we can keep baby toys and whatnot.  Geez, don't those pictures that looked so huge in our old place seem teeny tiny now?  And speaking of huge, the last bit from the downstairs tour is our backyard terrace and our beast of a grill.

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's The Swede's birthday!  If there's one holiday I can get behind it's one that recognizes and celebrates this fine specimen of a man.  We decided we'd celebrate by inviting his folks over, along with Elin and Julia who are staying with their grandparents for spring break, and grilling out.  The previous owners had left behind a small charcoal grill that The Swede fired up in our front yard and cooked up some delicious hot dogs.  Then, when dinner was just about ready, Mama and Papa Swede pulled up with a birthday present:  The World's Biggest Grill.  It took The Swede and his pops over an hour to put together and it's too dark now to photograph the final product, but let me assure you this picture of the contruction-in-progress does not do this beast justice.  It's downright industrial.  So you're all invited over for burgers and dogs.  I guarantee we can accomodate you, if not in seating, certainly in cooking surface.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Now From Kungsängen

Dudes, I am so exhausted after moving yesterday, a terrible night's sleep due to the cats' stressed-out state, and this whole day spent unpacking, cleaning, decorating and shopping, all I can do is post some pictures of friends, family and neighbors helping out yesterday.  And, obviously, tell you that that's all I'm doing. 
I promise to post more new home photos as we get each room furnished and functioning.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just The Beginning

Geez, what a long day it's been so far.  We went into the city this morning to get the keys to our new place, which took over two hours somehow, then out to see our home for the first time since those few minutes we popped in during the open house months ago.  We did a thorough inspection and determined that we needed to stock the fridge then head to Ikea.  Lots of driving and hauling and many hours later, we're back in our apartment in Sundbyberg for the last night, totally pooped, but still needing to do some more packing.  Hopefully the internet will be up and working in the new place tomorrow and I won't be too exhausted to upload some photos, but for now I need to get my bubble wrap on.  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Big Brother

It's a gorgeous day here, but I've spent most of it indoors packing and underground in the subway.  I took the day off of work to pack up our kitchen and closets and also decided to use the available weekday to go into the city and apply for an ID card with my new last name at Skatteverket, the Swedish tax agency.  It may sound like a pain of a task, but since Skatteverket knows everything about everyone in this country, it was incredibly simple and took less than ten minutes.  I basically just had to walk in with some proof of something about myself and they could look me up in their computer system and know my life story, which is a little creepy but also very convenient considering there's never any paperwork to fill out and I could file my taxes via text message.  I think we Americans feel more comfortable thinking that the government doesn't know everything about us, but c'mon, of course they do, and it sure simplifies things when everyone admits it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week Twenty-Eight

You're getting your weekly bump update a day early because The Swede is jetting off to Amsterdam this evening and won't be back in time to take a photo tomorrow.  And speaking of tomorrow, it is exactly three months from my due date, a fact that I find a little troublesome since I think we can all agree that I couldn't possibly get any bigger.  I am as wide front-to-back now as I am side-to-side and therefore have no way of squeezing through tight spaces, plus I frequently require a shove from behind from my sweet husband in order to get up off the couch.  This does not bode well for the next three months. tells me that the baby is the size of a Chinese cabbage and since I'm headed for a pumpkin I guess I've got a long way to go.  The Swede is following along on his own site,, in order to find out how he's supposed to be treating me.  His hilarious words.  Apparently they've made no mention of foot massages yet, but there's always week twenty-nine to look forward to. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It's The Little Things

Are you interested to find out exactly how lame I am?  Well, get ready.  Today on our lunch break, The Swede and I ran some errands and one of them brought us to the grocery store.  When we pulled into the parking lot there was a row of only blue cars and one empty space.  I forbid The Swede to park there as our car is clearly not blue, but he brushed off my ruling and ruined the uniformity.  Still, though, there just aren't that many blue cars out there so witnessing them all lined up like that made me full-on giddy for the next seven or so minutes.  And now you know.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cuteness From Colorado

A package from Baby Swede's Aunt Selah came today.  And then came the tears.  Selah made a sweet baby quilt for our little Viking!  With her bare hands, you guys.  Come now.  As if that weren't enough, she also sent some adorable gender-neutral and holiday-themed clothes and was clever enough to get them in the sizes that the baby will be when Halloween and Christmas arrive.  It makes me feel so good to know that this baby already has so much love coming from all over the globe.  Thank you, Selah!!! 
UPDATE:  After I published this post I noticed that the quilt matches the blog.  Coincidence?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Epic Battle of Wits

Considering that a nice cardboard box is the feline furniture of choice around here, our moving has made for quite a few new relaxation spots for Nelson and Saba.  I thought I'd try stacking a few of the moving boxes while packing this weekend since they already have several single boxes to loaf around on, but Nelson managed to find a way to the top of the tower and hasn't come down in hours.  In fact, I'm not 100% certain he can come down.  Heh, that'd teach him to try to outsmart me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grill Drill

It was the first grilling of the season at Mama and Papa Swede's yesterday.  Sure, there was a nip in the air, but the sun was shining, the daffodils were in bloom and the pork chops were marinated to perfection.  We're finally moving next weekend and since we'll have a yard at the new place I expect I'll be seeing the sight of my dreamy husband with a beer in his hand and flipping meat over an open fire much more in the coming months.  And that's just fine by me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Week Twenty-Seven

My apologies for the coif.  The beginning of tornado season and the third trimester are apparently syncronized.  That's right, depending on which website you believe, either this week or next week starts the final leg to babyland.  I'm going with this week because, even though the second trimester was good to me, I'm getting really excited to meet our baby and will take this opportunity to feel a little closer to that moment.  Meanwhile, a lot is going on in there.  Baby Swede's eyes are open now and he or she can experience light and darkness.  He or she can also hear what's going on in the outside world and recognize our voices so The Swede has been singing to my belly and playing songs from his iPhone with the word "baby" in the title.  It's a lot of fun having this kid inside me, actually, so I probably shouldn't wish it to go by any faster.  See you next week, in that case, at the beginning of the third trimester. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flat Destini Roundup

Well, Flat Destini headed home to North Carolina today and we're going to miss the little gal.  As a tribute to her time with us, I'm publishing the letter she wrote about her time here to take back with her.

Dear Destini,
I’ve sure missed you, but I had a great time in Europe with my hosts Mara and The Swede. They live in a suburb of Stockholm, which is the capital of Sweden. They took me into the city to see Stadshuset, or the City Hall, which has 3 crowns on top. The 3 crowns are a Swedish symbol that goes so far back in history that nobody knows for sure what each crown represents.
I also got to see Sergels Torg, or Sergel's Square, another Stockholm landmark.
Here is a picture of me in front of part of the Stockholm skyline. As you can see from the buildings, it is a very old city that was founded around 1250. That means it is more than 700 years old!
I got to ride the tunnelbana, or subway, a couple of times too! The Swedish people care a lot about the environment so they use public transportation like trains and busses a lot. Many Swedes don’t even have cars at all!
I went on a skiing trip with Mara and The Swede and got to see some of the Swedish countryside as well.  Here I am in Sälen, one of the ski resorts in the mountains of northern Sweden. It was really cold and I wished I had packed my winter coat!
We even went to Norway for the weekend! It looked exactly like Sweden to me, but we took a picture at the border to prove we had been there.
Did you think I went to China too? No, this is just Dragon Gate, a business center for Chinese and Swedish businesspeople to meet.
My favorite thing about Sweden was the Dalahästar, or Dala horses. They are wooden horses painted in beautiful colors and patterns and they are one of the big symbols of Sweden. Have you heard of them? Usually they are pretty small – smaller than me even – but we visited the Dalahäst factory and got to see some huge ones that are big enough for even you or Ms. Kilcourse to ride if you wanted to!
I also got to go to Switzerland! It was much warmer there because it’s further south, so even in the mountains we could lounge outside.
Here’s a picture of my host Mara and me at the top of Titlis, one of the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps. It was beautiful but very windy and hard to breathe because the air is super thin that high in the sky.
Destini, I loved visiting Europe, but it’s nice to be back home again. I brought back a couple of gifts from Sweden – a moose notepad for taking notes in Ms. Kilcourse’s class because Sweden is famous for having lots of moose (even though I didn’t see any) and a Viking luggage tag for your suitcase so that next time I travel you can come too!
Sincerely, Flat Destini

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Heart Spring

Spring is nigh and I'm obviously not the only person who's loving it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Men Who Hate Girls With Dragon Tattoos

My friend Selah has been telling me to read Män Som Hatar Kvinnor for ages.  Well, actually she's been telling me to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the English version which became huge in America last year.  I'd seen bits and pieces of the Swedish film series over The Swede's shoulder when I first moved here and I didn't really understand what was going on, which turns out to be awesome because I'd be pretty bummed out if I knew what was going to happen ahead of time now that I'm finally getting around to reading it.  Because the thing is, this book is incredible and I want every page that's coming to captivate me as much as every single one I've already read.  So good call, Selah.  Now we know you have impeccable taste in friends and books.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Trysil Ski Weekend

We've just arrived home from a long weekend in Trysil, Norway at our friends Jesper and Isa's family's ski cabin.  We headed out early from work on Thursday afternoon, the backseat of the car all packed up with blankets and pillows because there's nothing cozier to The Swede than a backseat full of blankets and pillows on a long roadtrip even if we never, ever use them or even notice that they're there.  Yeah, I just go along with it.  Since he's doing all the driving he gets his surroundings as cozy as he wants.
It was about a seven hour drive from Stockholm so we arrived late that evening, settled in and headed to bed almost straight away.  But first we had to admire Isa's perfect, eight-months-pregnant belly.  We were up early the next morning so that the guys could get as much time as possible on the slopes and after they bundled up and headed out, we ladies spent the rest of the day talking, reading and napping.  Isa also spent a lot of time cooking delicious food for us all. 
On Saturday, The Swede and Jesper headed out again, despite a lot of fog and some extra chilly weather.  When they were nearing the end of their skiing for the day, they called us so that we could come out and admire their skills.  It was the first time I'd ever seen my husband ski and admire his skills I did.  Even just standing there with all his equipment he was impressive. 
We spent that evening watching movies, playing couples Trivial Pursuit, followed by totally winning at couples Trivial Pursuit, eating junk food and generally taking it majorly easy.  This morning we cleaned up the cabin, packed up the cars and headed for home.  The Dalahäst factory was on the way, so we planned to pop in there and get our whittle on, but sadly it's closed on Sundays.  Obviously that didn't stop us from indulging in a little photoshoot with my favorite animal.  It was my kind of weekend, for sure, spent with a great couple and, yet, it's just as nice to be home again.