Sunday, December 31, 2017

Two Thousand and Seventeen

Good evening from Chicken Pox City, Sweden! Jamie picked up the virus at school before Christmas and has been covered in pox for the past few days, so needless to say we are not going out tonight, which is pretty much the way I'd want it anyway. Minus the itching.

Since I've been so bad at blogging this year, I sourced most of the following pictures from my phone instead of the blog. Scrolling through all of them was a good reminder of a lot of lovely things that happened in 2017. But this will always be the year that we lost my stepdad Ray. We started the year knowing it would probably be his last, and so I was able to say everything I wanted to say to him, and to my mom about him, before he passed away in October. But I don't know what to say here, and I guess that's okay, but I can't write about this year without mentioning the most significant thing that happened, even if it was also the worst.

Grandpa Ray and Jamie, September 2011

Now that we're a few years into The Swede's passion for ice fishing, we've gotten into a routine during the winter months. In January, we took advantage of one competition-free day by checking out the Natural History Museum. Another weekend, Jamie and I went to cheer The Swede on when one of his competitions was close-by and ended up having a blast pretending to chase dinosaurs in the tall grass along the shore.
 In February, I was the only one who didn't do any fishing.
 In March, Annemor, Matt and Jody came from London for the Melodifestivalen final...
 ...and our family looked into new hobbies as the ice melted.
Also, ALICE!!! In March, Selah gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who is already one of my all-time favorite ladies and I haven't even met her in person yet. Her smile brightens my day every time I get to see a picture or Skype with them, and it's been so cool to see Selah and Andy as parents.
In April, Jamie, Mama Swede, and I flew to London to spend Easter weekend with Annemor and Matt...
... and got back in time for an Easter Sunday pancake brunch with the Johanssons.
 Also, The Swede had a significant birthday which we celebrated with a spontaneous ski trip...
...and a cruise to Helsinki!

May started off right with a trip to our favorite zoo.
The weather was warm enough to take out Papa Swede's boat on the Mälaren...
...and our boy graduated from preschool!
In June, we got to test out some instruments at the local culture school...
...went back to the zoo a couple more times...
...and enjoyed the warm weather and long evenings with an al fresco McDonald's dinner.
For our summer break in July, we headed up north to a cabin in Sälen.
It was cold and rainy and we had to buy jackets when we got there. I will say, though, that drinking coffee outside while painting dalahästar with my kid, even in the pouring rain, was one of the high points of my life.
 And hike up to this incredible waterfall wasn't bad either.
Plus, I'm married to this guy, which you might say is THE high point of my life.
Later in July, we met up with Erin, Svante, and their boys at Skara Sommarland for a day of chaos fun.
 And this guy turned SIX YEARS OLD!
Did I mention The Swede likes fishing? In August, he shared the joy with Jamie, Ossian, and Rio and managed to make sure that every one of them caught a fish in the lake by our house.
Sarianne, Julia, Jamie, and I rented a cabin on Öland and The Swede surprised us by coming down to join us when we thought he had to be at work.
At the end of August, Jambo started kindergarten. It was a big transition and he was a champ.
Oh! And another future best girlfriend arrived! Erin and Svante had Eija, a teeny little angel who we're all pretty obsessed with.

In September, I had a conference in Cleveland, so I flew in a few days early to spend time with Mom, Ray, and the grandparents. Mom and I went to try on wedding dresses for the fun of it, since we never got to before I got married. We had so much fun, I would do it every single day if I could.
I was lucky enough that my best girls came from all over Ohio to have breakfast together and, as always, it was like we hadn't missed a day.
A few days after I arrived home from the States, I hopped back on a plane to Belgrade with my choir.
It was like nowhere I've ever been before and I feel very grateful that I got to experience a bit of Serbia...
...get to know the members of my choir better...
...and sing in one of the most incredible churches I've ever been in.
In October, I volunteered to tag along with Jamie's class on a field trip to Skansen.
One beautiful October day, we drove out to the country and found a church with huge piles of buckeyes that made us happier than they probably should have.
Jamie also attended a Halloween party at school with a bunch of his buddies.
In November, I turned 35 and, together with my colleague who turned 30 the day before me, threw an 80's-themed party. Some of my guests went all-in and I couldn't have been prouder.
Later in November, we went to the baptism of one of The Swede's childhood friend's baby.
We also had a work trip to Åland, an island halfway between Sweden and Finland, to collaborate with our colleagues in Helsinki. "Work trip" = beer tasting.
And, per tradition, we hosted the Johanssons for Thanksgiving.
December was packed with cozy events like a mini-Christmas Eve with Annemore and Matt a few weeks before the real deal...
...the sixth annual Christmas craft day with Linda and her girls...
...and a visit to the aquarium and butterfly house with the Johanssons.
And, of course, there was the main event!
Jamie said it was his best Christmas ever, which is about all you could ask for.
And now, I wish you all a very happy new year, full of love and hope.

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