Thursday, August 21, 2008

The End of an Era

Back at our house in Eugene two years later!!!!!!!!!!!

This will be our last post. We are going to bind these experiences into a book for the kids to keep. A little to relay since our last entry. We spent a fabulous time with my mom in L.A. We also visited with our friends, Eleanor and Brian, and their great kids, Molly and Tess. After a weekend with them at the beach we were relaxed and readied ourselves to deal with the innerworkings of American culture....or not. The next weekend we went to Las Vegas to visit our friends, Heather and Josh, and their two also great kids, Conner and Aidan. While there, Saniya and Rowan's had their first try at bowling. Also, they were able to check out and get in a real police helicopter. So fun. We also went to Disneyland with Grandma. Rowan's favorite ride was the train and Saniya's was Dumbo.

We left my mom's on the 2nd and drove to Eugene in one day. What a long day. But, the kids were great. Our house is good. We are feeling settled and loving the simplicity of small town familiarity.....oh, here is Rob...butting in my entry...I guess I can share this entry with him, after all I do say to the kids, "our family shares, that is what we do...Ahhhhh hummm...Rob the floor is yours.....

First though, I will post these pixs:

Here is Saniya, Rowan, Tess and Molly having a bubble bath.

Grandma, Saniya and me at Disneyland.

Yeah! Dumbo ride!

Bowling with Conner, Aidan, Saniya and Rowan in Las Vegas.

Back in Eugene at the County Fair with Saniya, Rowan and great friends Sam and Ben.

It's hard to believe it's over. A little over 2 years has gone by since we started this blog. As you can see so much has happened. It has been good to return to the familiar as well as bad. The most striking thing for me has been seeing the homeless. In Sweden, there are almost none. It has me questioning our society. Particularly about how we take care of the least fortunate. Do we embrace and lift them up or ignore and focus on entertaining ourselves with trivial matters? It is always easier to avoid the hard questions. I find myself doing just this when I contemplate the fate of the poor in the US. I can easily think about many other things as I'm not sure I'm ready to grapple with this question. Certainly not in this blog. I purposefully kept it relatively free of politics and policy to focus on just our time in Sweden.
As you can see the Culture Shock is ongoing and will likely continue for some time. I don't know how many times we've had artificial sweetener since we've returned but it seems like an excessive amount. It really isn't something you get there. I want my sugar! You have to look at the packaging closely here to see if it's got the fake sugar in it.
Onto other important things such as swimming. Saniya and Rowan are becoming fish. Saniya just started a swim class and is having a blast. She really loves the water and going every day to the pool is a lot of fun for her. Nana is visiting right now and we're going to the pool with her. Saniya spent the night with Nana at her hotel so we'll hear tomorrow how that went.
It went fantastically and the ducks are a little fatter.

All good things must come to an end! It's been fun. Maybe we'll start another blog to document the next chapter. Until then, hej då!

Rob, Yasmiene, Saniya and Rowan

Friday, July 18, 2008

We're Back!

After braving numerous security checks and 3 flights we arrived in LA a couple days ago. The flights were surprisingly uneventful which was very good from a parents perspective. We'll have a better description of all the adventures of the past few weeks in a little bit.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Midnight Sun

We'll be off to see the midnight sun tomorrow morning. Everything is pretty much taken care of. I was looking at the baby black rabbits outside and thinking about what a great time it has been. It is hard to believe it has been 2 years. The time has gone by so quickly.

I would type about nostalgia, but I'm finding it impossible to come up with words. I've looked at past entries of this blog and smiled at the wonder and fascination with Sweden. This excitement still exists and we'll get to experience a different episode over the next 2 weeks.

The camping will be fun and full of interesting times I'm certain. Then it's back to the states. This is where most of the conflicting thoughts enter my mind. I am excited to return to the culture I am most familiar with, but know that culture shock will certainly hit. It will be interesting to see what I find the most strange. I'll also get to see it through the eyes of Saniya and Rowan, who probably relate closer to Sweden than the US.

At least we'll be coming back to low gas prices. It is about $8.30/gallon here. :)

Tomorrow...the top of the world

Tomorrow we are off to the north of Sweden. Rob is mopping the apartment right now and we are just finishing the last cleaning before we go in the morning. Our trip to the north will be filled with light, literally. Sunset in Stockholm is about 10:45 right now. So, as we go north it will be lighter and lighter. I think there is no darkness, that will be weird. Rob's friend said do not expect your kids to sleep very much with so much daylight. That will be special for the parents. But, really we are looking forward to our time together. We have no big plans, other than a route and a few things we want to see. Other than that, it will be just enjoying the wilderness, the wildlife and giving Sweden a proper goodbye.

See you all soon! The next we will write, we will be back in the States. That will be a big change. I guess the blog days might be coming to an end. We will see....but these writings have been fun and I think will be great for Saniya and Rowan to peruse when older.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Last Week,,,,

We just returned from 4 days in Uto. We cut it short by a day to get back and sell some stuff. But, the island we beautiful. It reminds me of the Gulf Islands in British Columbia. There were no people on the ferry or camping which was fabulous for us. This is the benefit of unemployment, you get to go when everone else is working. Her is our time in Uto, one of the southern islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

This is a view from the windmill, which is the highest point on the island. That is the ferry leaving. It goes direct from Stockholm once a day and is a 3 and 1/2 hour ride. It is beautiful to sit and gaze at the islands and the tons of boats in the water. Swedes love their boating.

Saniya watching the ferry as it leaves us on Uto.

Kisses while crossing...the archipelago that is. There isn't really a "sea" to cross but you get the jist.

Saniya and me. Girl power! Saniya is very into the "girls" sticking together.

We took our packpacks, bikes and camped. So, this was it on Rob's back and I had the same with Saniya on my bike.

Very Swedish Uto shot. Note the windmill in the bachground. It was built in 1791. Uto was a big mining island for 800 years. It has a long history and was a significant island at different times in history. But, it is most known for it's mining and a "to be seen" place in the 1800's. Today it is lots of fields and forest with nice beaches. Half of the island is used for military training. This is undeveloped natural areas that we rode through. There are signs saying they are done for the summer can use the space. Thank you Swedish military for sharing! Also, there are 400 full-time residents that live on the island and there were quite a few farms.

This is the Uto church. Very beautiful, on the lake. We tried to fly a kite near there, but the wind was not cooperating. We tend to hang out by churches since we came to Sweden. They are open spaces that are groomed, usually fenced (good for Rowan) and usually quiet and peaceful. Interesting .

Saniya and Rowan playing in the water in front of our tent. We had a great view and the campground almost to ourselves. Ahhh...

Swimming, splashing and general activity. Need I say more.

Sleeping tegether. Thanks Rob for the beautiful Yasmiene shot. But, it is cozy with mom and daughter.

We decided to do a family photo. Why not...!

It's all about the lollipops when asking for cooperation. The small bribe can go a long way.

Today is Midsommar and we will go to Skansen. We thought it was appropriate as it is what we did for Midsommar when we first arrived. This is the raising of the Maypole with dancing and singing. I think one of the biggest holidays for Scandinavia. I am sure I will have more pixs of that in a few days.

We have the next week in Stockholm and we will leave our apartment for good. We will then begin a two week driving trip to the north before heading back to L.A. visit family anf friends.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lingering last moments

Ok, last week I was feeling very upbeat and positive. This week, it is sinking in how hard it is to leave. We are selling all of our things and packing our suitcases to weigh them. We have so little we can bring on the plane, we are giving all of their toys and any clothes the kids are not wearing right now. I feel so depressed about this. I think it is harder on me than the kids. They kind of don't care. Saniya is really sad about school and says she wants to go back and see her friends.

The good part is that we have gone through this before. The hard part is that it sucks everytime we do it. Changing cultures is not to be taken lightly, and every change is like a huge shift in mindset and general lonilness of not fitting in for a very long time. I feel it is important for all of us to embrace this reality and know that we will be stronger after the transition subsides. But, for now, when in transit, it really sucks and is so sad to leave this great culture and great experience we have had.

Oddly, enough the least of our concerns is our lack of income right now. I think if career was more of a value in our family it would feel like our status as "independent and productive people" have waned, but because experience and diversity takes more precedence for us, I still feel confident the income will work itself out. This is not to say that is is not stressful. Rob is working all day everyday looking for a good position. It is draining and we really wish we could know where we were going and then settle in there. But, it is not so for now.

On that note, we go to the island of Uto for 5 days next week. We will camp and ride bikes and go to the beach. It is one of the southern, outer islands in the archipelago. The archipelago has 14,000 - 24,000 islands. There is a dispute as to the exact number. But, for us we get to take a cool ferry boat and it is quiet and peaceful. That is really our enjoyment before the tides of change overwhelm us again.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

June play

June has brought many changes for us. I am feeling nostalgic and sad about leaving. This is such a great place for children. They are so well revered here. I hate to leave it. But, it is time to go. This month we are all home. We are doing day trips to our favorite places around the city and visiting some areas outside of the city that we did not get to, but want to before going. Today, we will go to Langholmen. This is the little island in the middle of the city with a great beach and an old prison that is now a hotel. Over the weekend we went to Sigtuna. It is the 2nd oldest town in Sweden. Next week we plan to go to Uppsala for the day. It is an hour north and has the oldest university in Europe. Hoorah!
We are selling our things in a moving sale right now. I am feeling nostalgic about this. It is nice to lighten the load, but hard to let go. We are selling our Swedish stroller. It was such a significant part of our time here. The sale of this item is more about the loss of Rowan and his babyness than the stroller. We are returning with so few items to what we brought. We came with so much baby stuff. Also, we came with so many toys. I now realize how many toys American kids have. I know chilcren have lots of toys here, but what they consider alot here is nothing to what the average Americna kid has. Weird.
Ok, we are doing well for the time being. We are in a weird state of limbo, but enjoying the time off and the excursions.

Saniya saying more goodbyes to her classmates.

Rowan saying goodbye to his friend, Oscar.

Saniya and Rowan in Djurgarden.

I think this one is self explanatory.

Our means of transport around the city.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Last of the Last

Today is the last day of daycare for Saniya and Rowan, and the last day of work for Rob. I sit here and keep thinking, ahhh this is the last few hours of quiet for me for the next few months. There will be constant activity and noise from now on. So, I sit here in my quiet and cherish the silence. Rob is still working away. Although it is his last day of work, he will work this weekend on his paper. He is excited about it. I am not. I am ready to have a co-parent and partner back to share life. The kids will have a party at school to say goodbye. Saniya is feeling festive and happy. She has two friends coming over after school to play in the wading pool by our house. So, it does not feel like a sad day for them, at least. I am thankful Saniya's personality is so mellow and even. She does not really dramatize issues or change. She will say how she feels and can move in or out of a mood easily. I wish I were more like her in this way. Rowan is more dramatic but we will see if it his age or his personality as he matures. Here are some photos from when I dropped them off this morning:

Affe is the giraffe on Saniya's head. Each child gets to take him home on the weekend and then we write about all of the events that occur with our family. Then on Monday, they tell the class about "Affe's weekend".

Saniya with Asa, her favorite teacher.

Saniya with Sophie and Michael. Sophie was Saniya's teacher last year and part of this year. Michael is one of her favorite friends and will be one of the kids to come and play today after school.

This is Max and Saniya. I found out the other day they are kind of "in love" with each other. Who would have thought....

Rowan was not cooperating for photos. I will try later today with his friends and teachers.