Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daily Jamie


My grandparents sent Jamie a package for his birthday and enclosed was this spread from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about LeBron James' return to Cleveland. The Swede was thrilled and devoured the entire four-page article immediately. I thought it was so thoughtful that they sent something that The Swede would so clearly appreciate until I looked at it a little more closely today and discovered that it was actually meant to be something for both of us: an awesome (and likely expensive - it's sharing a section with LeBron) ad for Swagelok! And it's thanking Swagelok associates - that's us! - for making Swagelok such a great place to work. Well thank YOU, Swagelok, as you are directly responsible for some of the best things in my life. And thanks, Grandma and Grandpa, for the article AND the ad! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Daily Jamie

July 26th
July 27th

Happy Birthday Time

Sunday afternoon we threw up some balloons, fixed some snacks, and invited over some friends for Jamie's birthday party. It couldn't have come soon enough, according to Jamie, who has been talking about his party for literally months. "Balloons? Bubbles?" he'd ask. Check, check. "CAKE?!?!" Two cakes. World's Best Mom, I know.
"PRESENTS???" You know it, kid. Most of Jamie's classmates are on vacation, but his best bud Axel got to come, plus a bunch of other friends whose parents happen to also by my friends. It was a loud, crazy, fun afternoon and at least one of us is already looking forward to next year. Indeed, Jamie asked me on the way to school today if it was "happy birthday time" again yet. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Daily Jamie

Three Years Old

Oh, this Jambo. Yesterday he turned three and I can't believe it. I'm quite sure no parents have ever loved a child as much as we love him. They couldn't possibly. It takes my breath away every day. He is a singing, dancing chatterbox of enthusiasm, observation, and curiosity. Sure, being three years old necessarily makes you egocentric and willful, but other than that hitch, Jamie is living life the way it should be, taking joy and finding humor in practically everything. As much as his world has grown to include his friendships and his own world at school, The Swede and I continue to be the center of his life just as he is the center of ours. He doesn't fault us for our flaws and mistakes and there's nothing better to him than being, as he says, "together". Jamie understands essentially everything I say to him in English, but only uses the language for some colors and numbers and to say "I love you." Otherwise he speaks Swedish so well that sometimes I have to ask The Swede to translate for me. This is so unexpected since as recently as spring he was seeing a specialist to develop his vocabulary. It probably helps that now that he really can, he absolutely loves to talk. I guess we know where he got that from. He is a dirty, sticky, rough-and-tumble little boy who loves helicopters, motorcycles, and airplanes. He asks me to read the same three books every night before bed and still twirls my hair in his fingers as he falls asleep. He is a challenge and a joy and being his mom is the most fun I've ever had.

Summer Vacay Part Three - Tylösand

The last leg of our vacation was a couple of days at the beach in Tylösand. Wow, what a place. We stayed in a hotel right on the shore where hundreds of young, tan, blonde Swedes were sunning during the day, partying at night, and looking gorgeous the whole time.
It had long been a dream of The Swede's to go to the After Beach party at our hotel and he wasn't about to let his age and family situation stop him. Actually, I think Jamie helped make the whole experience; he was approached by several young ladies asking to take a picture of the hot dad and his cute kid. I guess I was in the bathroom.
The last night we were there we went to a seafood restaurant and pigged out on shellfish while Jamie ate aoli, straight-up, with a spoon instead of his burger. We took a walk on the beach at sunset and the boys did some skinny dipping and trampled a sand sculpture before the tide could get to it. The perfect way to end the week. It seems like ages ago now, but it was such an awesome vacation and I'll remember it forever. Thank you, Sweden, for the generous holiday laws and all the wonderful things to see and do!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daily Jamie

July 21st
July 22nd

Summer Vacay Part Two - Göteborg

Our next stop was Göteborg! It's a five-hour-plus drive from home, so we needed to stretch our legs along the way, and what better place than the polkagris factory where they make tons of flavors of thick candy canes. Naturally we picked up a few and The Swede had to listen to Jamie and I slobbering in the back seat for the rest of the trip. 
Once in the Göteborg area, we stayed in a rented room in Jesper and Isa's new neighborhood and finally got to spend some time with them, August and their new little one Frans after almost three years. Jamie and August were like long-lost besties and got along better than I even knew two toddlers could. We all went to the amusement park, Liseberg, on Wednesday and the boys rode and rode till almost eleven at night.

August helping Jamie look at the camera.

The next day, while Frans napped at home with his mama, Jesper took us to the shore to do some crab fishing.
I had forgotten how amazing the ocean smells and Jamie loved all the new things there were to see between the rocks and under the water.
After a very earnest effort, the papas managed to catch five crabs, which were totally fascinating, skittering around in their bucket, until we tossed them back out to sea.

Later that afternoon, we drove to Varbergs fästning, a thirteenth-century fortress that faces the North Sea on one side and the town of Varberg on the other.
They had a water-skiing competition going on in the mote and a great playground so there was plenty to see and do, which made for another satisfying day and late bedtime.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Daily Jamie

July 12th
July 13th
July 14th
July 15th
July 16th
July 17th

July 18th
July 19th
July 20th

Summer Vacay Part One - Dalarna

Our family's summer vacation started last Saturday, a warm, sunny day that happened to be my Five-Year Swediversary. In January, we planned a long weekend in Dalarna with Ingvor and Roland where we would stay in our favorite cabin and go to an opera concert at Dalhalla amphitheater. After six months of waiting, the trip was finally here.
On the way to our destination, we stopped by Ingvor's sister's where we were treated to lunch on their dock? Their boat? Well, it was a floating deck with a motor attached that we rode around on the lake during our meal. After lunch and a quick dip in the water, we were back on our way.
Moskogen, the hotel/cabin village where we stayed, was hosting a classic car conference and we all enjoyed checking out the fancy cars. Jamie posed with Lightning McQueen...
...Doc Hudson...
... and McQueen's grandma, among others.
 We spent most of Saturday and Sunday at the pool and on the trampoline, then left Jambo with our friends, Per and Caro, and headed to the concert with Ingvor and Roland. The amphitheater was breathtaking and despite the fact that it poured rain during the entire concert, we had a great time.
We drove home on Monday, making a stop at an ostrich farm along the way, then re-packed our bags for our next adventure on Sweden's west coast! More to come!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Jamie

July 9th
July 10th

Game Changer

After years of jealously scrolling by Facebook friends' slow cooker recipes and ignoring pins for 33 Easy Crock Pot Freezer Meals on my Pinterest feed, I finally found one in this country for a reasonable price. ("Reasonable," incidentally, is still approximately three times the cost of one in the States. You know, in case you were wondering why shopping is third on my list of stuff to do whenever I visit, after hugging my mom and eating fried chicken.) I ordered that puppy faster than you can say "Don't pay till August!!!" and was pleased to receive it the very next day. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, but I have envisioned an entirely new life for myself. One simplified by a couple of hours of prep every Sunday, followed by dumping a bag of frozen food into this baby in the morning, and coming home to a fragrant, succulent meal at the end of my work day. Anything less than a total revolution is going to be a huge disappointment so cross your fingers that I'm ambitious enough to do my part and put in the food and turn the knob.