Rants

Predator in Chief

As headlines once again describe a rich old man assaulting young women, I feel this blog post is necessary…

Watching the news the morning after the election, I wept. Not a pretty cry; a soul draining, exhausting cry. Not because a Republican won, after all, can we actually call him a Republican? I think no more than we can call Bernie Sanders a Democrat. No, in all my voting years, I’ve never cried over a loss in politics. I didn’t cry because I’m a sensitive snowflake who can’t handle the truth; or an elitist who can’t relate to common folks. I didn’t cry because yet another old, white man would be directing our country. I didn’t even cry because a blatantly racist internet bully who uses bankruptcies like an ATM would be representing us to the world. Even the combination of all of those issues didn’t make me cry.

I cried because the results of this election taught our children that admitted sexual predators could win elections as long as they had enough money and power to convince people they were on the side of “hard working Americans”. I cried because even churches were supporting someone of such weak moral character, because of potential Supreme Court nominations.

Donald Trump is an admitted sexual predator. Feel free to be angry at me for that statement, I will not apologize. Here are his words, his “locker room talk” that broadcast throughout the country for our children to hear:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

This statement triggered me like nothing ever has in my entire life. You see, when I was 9, an old, white man tried to grab me by the pussy. One day, Grandpa’s long time neighbor offered me a Flintstones Push Pop, as he frequently did with all of the neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, this time the sweet was accompanied by a hand reaching up my dress. I froze. Then kicked. Then ran. Then screamed. After the police interview, more kids came forward. I wasn’t the first, but I was the last.

How is the description Mr. Trump made any different? Oh wait, I know… it’s not sexual assault if she’s a grown woman? That doesn’t make sense. We are teaching our son any uninvited touching is unacceptable. Surely the president is held to the same standard as a 4 year-old I know! It’s because we can’t prove he actually did it. It’s just “locker room talk”. Seriously?!? So he LIED about sexually assaulting women?? What does it say about him if he thinks sexually molesting women makes him look good? If my son spoke that way, EVER, I would scrub his mouth with soap and make him volunteer at a domestic violence shelter–cleaning the toilets. I have trouble believing a rich, famous man felt the need to lie about that. In all likelihood, the actual lie is recanting the statement. There are also the multiple women who have accused him of sexual assault to consider. Oh, that’s right, they can’t be telling the truth, they just want his money. What if one of those women was your mother, daughter, sister, cousin? Wouldn’t you want her to have the same opportunity I had? To speak my truth? To punish the man who tried to harm me?

How then is he any different from my attacker? Now I know… It’s the number of zeros in his bank account. He’s rich, so he must be good for the country and couldn’t possibly be as bad as that old man who reached up a 9 year-old’s dress. Obviously, I disagree. As I sobbed my way through the day after the election, I thought of all the young girls who learned reporting their attackers wouldn’t prevent them from taking over the country. My heart broke more as I thought of all the young boys who learned that morals and righteousness were disposable traits for a leader. I cried for my own son who asked me why a man who said such bad things and hurt people could run our country and not be arrested. My sweet boy who asked if he was pale enough so that Mr. Trump and the people he favors wouldn’t dislike him.

After that day, I haven’t cried about the election, but each day I read more and more about the insidious effects of this presidency. As I see peaceful protestors cursed at and racists openly marching through the streets, I pray can still recognize our country after this train wreck. I pray that the generation of boys and girls growing up under this regime don’t learn that their victimization is acceptable as long as their attacker is wealthy and white.

And each time I see that horrible excuse for a human being in the news, I have to mute the sound as nausea rises up and I remember a hand reaching up my skirt, trying to grab me by the pussy.

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Until next time….

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Parenting

When your body is not your own…

Today I want to scream…no seriously, I want to scream. My body feels like it’s under attack by the small wonders that I call my children. Sometimes it seems like every minute of every day my body belongs to someone else…and I HATE that. As a naturally introverted person, it really freaks me out to be touched ALL THE TIME. Tonight, my husband took one of the kids off to pick up dinner, unfortunately, the other child, who was asked by his dad to put together a Lego set in his absence decided that instead he would fasten himself to may side and demand to know what I was reading on the internet. Then he started making demands about which websites I should go to. Then he wanted to know why I didn’t have an Instagram account. Finally, I had enough, “I love you but I just want to not have anyone touching my body. PLEASE read your magazine or a book.”. Somehow, this worked. It was the third time I asked, but somehow it worked. Small miracles, I know. He is periodically looking at me and saying “harrumph” and telling me which books to buy him, but still…small victory.

Do those of you who are parents ever have days like this? I miss writing. I miss reading. I miss THINKING. I miss NOT BEING TOUCHED. These are all things that go to the wayside when you are surrounded by tiny dictators throughout the day. For those of you who miss my blog (I hope there are some of you out there), please be patient. Someday I will have the opportunity to put all these ideas in my head on paper. Unfortunately, I have no idea when that will be. My goal is soon…soon being at some point within the next 30 day period, but you never know. In the meantime, I have to go. The tiny dictator has reattached himself to my arm and is demanding to know what I am typing. If only he knew 😉

Until next time…

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Kitchen Creations

Kladdkaka – Chocolate Cake At Its Best

As a devout lover of chocolate, I have a dirty little secret… I don’t actually enjoy chocolate cake. In my experience, most chocolate cakes are dry with icing that is too sweet. The box mix stuff is pretty good (I do like the kind with the added pudding) and my own homemade cake is tasty, but it still isn’t my favorite. If I am really craving chocolate baked goods, 9 times out of 10 I will whip up a pan of brownies. That remaining time I generally make chocolate chip cookies… Chocolate cake is reserved for birthdays and other celebrations, not for simple enjoyment.

Moving to Sweden changed my relationship with chocolate cake. Seriously, did I just write that? How many of you (who aren’t Swedish) knew about Swedes’ obsession with kladdkaka (aka mud cake)? Kladdkaka is like a brownie/cake combo that is just undercooked enough to be gooey and amazing. It is also a staple for easy entertaining. Why? Because it is EASY and it is DELICIOUS!

Image from http://ljuvligmat.blogg.se/

Sharing this recipe with you is my way of adding a little joy to your lives. You’re welcome.

Kladdkaka

Ingredients:

2 eggs
3 dl sugar (approximately 1.5 cups)
4 Tbsp cocoa
1.5 dl flour (approximately 3/4 cups)
1 dl melted butter (approximately 1/2 cup)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 (180 C)

Whisk together eggs and sugar.
Mix together cocoa and flour.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir gently.
Add melted butter to mixture and stir until combined.

Grease a 9 inch cake pan or spring form pan and then line it with baking paper.
Transfer batter to your prepared pan and cook for up to 30 minutes (maximum).

My friend recommends checking the cake after 20 minutes to see if it is ready. I cooked mine for 30 minutes exactly and the edges were a bit too cooked but the center was perfect.

Crust should form on the top, but the cake should still be wobbly when removed from the oven. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream (I added a dash of my homemade vanilla to the whipped cream—yum!).

Special thanks to my lovely friend who shared this recipe. My relationship with chocolate cake has never been better 😉

Until next time…

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Parenting

Mom Level: Expert

Hi all! Did you think I disappeared? Nah… nothing so drastic. I just popped a kid out and that took a bit out of me. Apparently this parenting business is just as hard the second time around as it is the first. Perhaps even harder because toddlers don’t come with a handy off switch. I love my boy, but he has a LOT of energy and also carries around every virus known to humankind. His life goals include simultaneously smothering me with love, running me into the ground, and giving me the flu—all out of love. It’s baffling.

Moving on… for my first blog post pregnancy, I decided to write about something happy, empowering, and downright awesome. I hope you enjoy it. 😉

Some days as a parent, even as a second time around parent, I feel like a complete newb. When that small creature shrieks for what feels like hours on end while I grasp frantically for solutions, it is disheartening. Then suddenly, the clouds part, something goes right and I think… oh yeah, I’ve got this. No problem.

Let’s talk about that parenting win today. The past three months, it has been a bit chilly in our apartment. Not exactly sweater temperatures, but nothing I would want a naked baby subjected to for long periods of time. Consequently, our new arrival has been diapered and dressed almost all of the time (showers and baths excluded). This does not leave many opportunities for airing out “down there” if you get my drift. So, what is a mom to do when a rash starts to develop and creams and oils just don’t cut it? Naked booty time. That’s right, the kid needed some diaper free time to relax around the apartment. Thankfully, the sun is now shining high (most days) in the Swedish sky (from before 6am until after 9pm…) so the apartment is quite a bit warmer during the day.

Unfortunately, we do not have a washer and dryer in our apartment and I have an aversion to washing linens more than once a week. Exceptions are made if it cannot be avoided, but I do everything I can to avoid it. The hubs even carries our sleeping 4 year old to the toilet each night to ensure there is no wet bedding in the morning. As many of you know, babies pee at their leisure and seem unaffected by such small details as dirtying the linens. In fact, something about a bit of fresh air almost ensures bladder release.

As Plato said (though probably not in English), “Necessity is the mother of invention”. My extreme desire to avoid doing a 7th load of laundry each week brought me to the kind of super mom “AHA” moment that I had previously only dreamt about… PIDDLE PADS! Also known as puppy training pads, pee pads, and urine absorption pads. That’s right, I decided to lay my kid on a puppy pad. Some of you are jumping up and down thinking, “why didn’t I think of that???” Still others think I am a complete and total jerk to my kid. That’s cool, to each his or her own. I feel like a genius.

How did this little experiment go? Swimmingly 😃 Thanks to my lovely aunt, I am the proud owner of a 7 pack of piddle pads and after 3 naked baby sessions, my little one has yet to actually pee outside of her diaper. Clearly she is attempting to lull me into a false sense of security… My only regret is that we bought relatively small piddle pads. In the future, I will probably purchase the extra large ones to guarantee more room for the wee one to roll around. If I’m going to do it, I might as well do it right.

So, for you parents out there suffering the dilemma of either doing an extra load of laundry or keeping your baby in diapers, give this a try. Let me know how it goes 😉

Until next time…

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Travel Adventures

Liseberg Christmas

Last time I posted about Liseberg (the most awesome amusement park ever), it was to share the spectacular Halloween celebration that takes place throughout much of October. A couple of months has passed and things have changed drastically at this local, city owned amusement park. Liseberg has shed the horror visage and transformed into a winter wonderland, replete with lights, music, trees, and snowmen. It is the embodiment of the holiday season, in the middle of Göteborg.

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As my pregnancy nears completion, I’m working hard to stay active, no matter how much I would rather curl up in a ball of jersey cotton and nap. In addition to keeping moving, I also want to make as many memories as possible with my husband and son of this final season as a family of 3. Soon enough, we will have an extra member and new memories to make. To that end, this past weekend, after a good nap, we all bundled up and headed for the tram to Liseberg.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, one of the features that makes Liseberg stand out for me is the ease of arrival. Visiting this park doesn’t require a car or parking permit.  If you are in the city of Göteborg, you can access the park via many tram and bus lines. They are literally across the street from the park entrance. There is even a train that drops passengers off nearby.

When you add to that an extremely reasonable yearly entry pass, that costs 5% of the annual Disney California pass, that costs 5% of the annual Disney California pass and has no blackout dates; it is a place the entire family can enjoy year round. Most rides do require tickets, which is a change from many US amusement parks, but those are also reasonably priced. Parents with small children will appreciate that many rides are free for children under 110 cm in height and there are free shows and attractions taking place each day.

Now that I powered through the nitty gritty details, let’s talk about the magic of the season. Approaching Liseberg, my attention was initially caught by the beautiful trees and lights. As at Halloween, the exterior of the park was transformed to match the season. After a reasonable 5 minute wait in line (this is not always the case at busy times), we were all excited to see the holiday displays. Walking through the entry gates, a large tree decorated in brilliant lights captured everyone’s attention. Giant snowmen were scattered all along the path, waiting for their photo ops with grinning park goers. Children young and old posed excitedly with the life-sized decorations.

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Holiday music in both English and Svenska surrounded us thanks to speakers hidden throughout the park. At each turn there were “snow” flocked trees and bright lights. In addition to beautiful displays, we found one indoor Christmas market and two outdoor Christmas markets. Having been to many of these markets over the years, I thought I had seen all the types of gifts to be seen. I was wrong! Sweden definitely has it’s own traditions to enjoy.

There were medieval style gifts, gorgeous hand carved horses, jewelry, hand blown glass ornaments and more.

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Even the chocolate gifts were works of art.

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Glögg was available everywhere (spiced red wine) and for snacks you could grab a wide variety including läppkaka med smör (hot buttered flat bread with butter) and even läppkaka med ren (reindeer). I stuck with the butter, but the hubs said the reindeer was awesome. I did have a taste and it reminded me of venison, which I find quite nice.

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We didn’t stick to one area for long, but I couldn’t help but notice they were preparing for a complimentary Nutcracker on Ice show. Looking over the events calendar, they even have a medieval fun show to entertain guests. These are just some of the reasons why I love this park!

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Holiday events will take place through the 30th of December, after which the park will close for the season with the exception of paid events (concerts, plays, etc…).

Rather than wear your eyes out with my long winded descriptions of everything there is to see and do at Liseberg during the holiday season, I hope the pictures included in this blog will inspire you to visit.

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Until next time…

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Newbie Guide to Sweden

Newbie Guide Endorsed!

Hey guys!

I’m thrilled to share that The Newbie Guide to Sweden likes my writing enough to officially give me a seal of approval and endorse my blog on The Newbie Guide website. We will soon be adding a new section to the blog that provides links to my articles in The Newbie Guide. It would be awesome if you checked them out. Also, if you are living in Sweden, or considering moving here, it really is a great resource for all sorts of topics. You never know what you will find when you take the time to scan through the wealth of articles available at The Newbie Guide to Sweden.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time…

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Rants

The abortion I didn’t realize I had

I’m not supposed to be writing this blog. My goal tonight was sleep. There is a nice, happy blog in the works in my head and I fully intended to share it with you. Unfortunately, my sleep deprived eyes won’t shut and my brain is racing. It all began tonight during a conversation with my husband. Having been raised Catholic, this article infuriated him. He knows that women are autonomous beings, completely capable of making their own decisions. He also knows that in the United States, if a child is viable, labor is induced rather than abortions. Finally, he knows that as a rule, the majority of women do not take the issue of abortion lightly.

Now that you understand his personality a little, what is it that he could possibly say that would keep me from sleeping half the night? “That’s what we did, isn’t it?” He was referring to abortion…and when I thought about it, he was right. Let me explain.

After more than a year of trying to get pregnant, we finally succeeded in early 2012. We had just moved to California for new job opportunities and we were both so excited!! New home, new jobs, new baby! We weren’t quite sure what took so long, but suspected it had a lot to do with my stress levels at work, and possibly my endometriosis. Who knows really. Thankfully, things were finally looking up. I knew I was pregnant right away because of the awful nausea and the breast tenderness. A home pregnancy test (or three…) confirmed and at around 5 weeks I went to the doctor for official verification. After an initial ultrasound (deemed too early for a heartbeat) and later a sonogram with no heartbeat, the nurse practitioner determined that I was probably less pregnant than expected. Just to be sure, she scheduled me to go to the hospital for a more in depth ultrasound at around 8 weeks.

I researched like crazy, trying to figure out why we wouldn’t have found the heartbeat yet. Hours on the internet had me 99% convinced that I was just wrong about the conception date. Finally, the day came where we would see our baby via a traumatizing vaginal ultrasound. Deep down I was terrified something was wrong, but I held out so much hope. That hope began to dwindle as I saw the look on the radiologist’s face. I asked if there was anything wrong and she said she wanted a second opinion from the doctor, leaving us alone in the room. Shortly thereafter, an abrupt man in a white lab coat entered the room. He casually told my husband and I that the baby had not developed past five weeks, most likely due to an abnormality. He called it a “missed miscarriage” and said my body just hadn’t flushed itself out yet. He then offered to schedule a dilation and curettage (D&C) that would remove the remains of the fetus. I was shocked. Traumatized. Angry. How could this man so casually crush my dreams?? I declined to schedule the D&C and went home to research missed miscarriages and call my obstetrician. She assured me that I didn’t have to make a decision right away.  If we did go through with the D&C, we would be able to start trying for another baby in a few months. If on the other hand I naturally miscarried, then we could safely get pregnant right away. Still holding out hope, I continued to read message boards and blogs about women with the same experience. Several discussed cases of misdiagnosed missed miscarriages, which buoyed my hope.

Unfortunately, hope is sometimes pointless.  After about two weeks, my symptoms began to fade. The ever present nausea wasn’t so bad. My breasts no longer hurt. A small spot of old blood appeared on my panty liner. After 3 weeks, I accepted the inevitable. Rather than go back to the hospital for more trauma, I approached a trusted acupuncturist and asked for help.

30 minutes after we began, the needles were removed and I prepared to head home. Before exiting the building, pain started in my back and I thought I needed to use the bathroom. By the time I arrived home, the pain was excruciating. My husband went to the pharmacy to get me hot packs, and I received an unexpected text from a highly empathic friend who always seems to know when I am in trouble. She stayed with me for the next hour as I clung to the toilet and vomited over and over from the pain. She stayed with me as the blood poured from my body and the cherished dream of a completed family that I held so dear literally ended up in the toilet. By the time my husband was able to get back with the hot packs, it was finished. Our baby was gone.

The trauma from that night lasted for months and likely contributed to a relatively short stay in California. I never forgave the doctor at the hospital and even though we were able to get pregnant again within another month (quite unexpectedly), I remained angry and depressed. That stage of grief was one I couldn’t get over. I wanted to go back home, to the state I trusted, the people I trusted, and the doctors I trusted. At the beginning of my last trimester, we returned home and at exactly 40 weeks, I received the gift of a healthy baby boy.

It never occurred to me to think of my action that day as an abortion, but in reading current legislation being passed in Texas and other states, I realized that under new laws, my actions would constitute aborting a baby. In fact, in Texas after December 19, 2016, hospitals will have to cremate or bury the remains of any D&C to remove a missed miscarriage.  The same remains that were flushed down my toilet.  If on the other hand, women choose to experience the horrific pain that I went through at home, without any medication or support, there are no new regulations.  As far as I can tell, the sole purpose of this law is to make providing a basic, necessary, legal health service more complicated.   In case you are wondering, I am not the only person who came to this conclusion.  This editorial sums it up well.

I am pro-choice because I believe women should have the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies. This includes condemning adding unnecessary and often traumatizing hurdles for women to overcome when making this type of decision. I am pro-life because I believe that we should do everything we can to support ALL children who are born into this world. I am also pro-life because I believe the women carrying babies have as much right to life as the lives growing within them.

Increased sexual education, family planning resources, higher wages, and better medical care are all ways in which we can reduce unnecessary abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies. Women should not have to decide on abortion because they cannot afford food, shelter, or housing. Women should not have to decide on abortion because some horrible person rapes them and they know their state may give that rapist visitation privileges if they carry through with the pregnancy. It’s time for our lawmakers to do their jobs and move on from the issue of abortion. Laws are in place to ensure safe abortion procedures are available for women who want or need them and those laws also prevent the loss of sustainable life. Chipping away at these protections while reducing safety net programs does not save more lives. It encourages more unsafe abortions, child abandonment, suffering, and often mental distress.

This isn’t the happy post I wanted to share with you, but it is the one I needed to share. Maybe now I can sleep. Maybe now my mind will calm, my blood pressure will lower, and my eyes will finally close. Then again, maybe not.

 

Blighted Ovum / Image from http://funkygenes.blogspot.se/2011/11/jen-answers-your-questions-i.html

Blighted Ovum / Image from http://funkygenes.blogspot.se/2011/11/jen-answers-your-questions-i.html

Until next time…

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Travel Adventures

Liseberg Halloween

After the morning I’ve had, I really need a pick me up. Many of you are probably feeling the same way right about now. In the absence of silly cat videos (though thankfully, someone did text me kitten pictures), I decided to write about our first Halloween in Sweden. Yes, Sweden—a gorgeous, snow-filled country populated with amazingly tall people and overflowing with delicious pastries. What Sweden does not have is a very clear understanding of Halloween. On Halloween night, we had no trick or treaters.   The next night we had two. On the 4th of November quite a few children were going around the neighbourhood in costume…intriguing. Despite this seeming confusion about when Halloween is celebrated, our city did have one really amazing Halloween celebration that lasted for two full weeks. That celebration took place at Liseberg; a grand amusement park located within the city of Göteborg that decks itself in full regalia for Halloween and Christmas. Today’s post will focus on Halloween.  Hopefully reading brings you to this fair city for a visit…or a relocation.

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Before I go into the details about Halloween, let me tell you a little bit about Liseberg. This park is actually owned by the city of Göteborg and has been operating since 1923! Perhaps because of it’s unique ownership, the park is not open year round and seems to be a bit less commercialized than other amusement parks. Open season lasts from April through October.  Limited hours are available in November and during the Christmas season, after which it closes again until April. Full details of open hours/days are available on the site I linked to this blog. Make sure to check before you book your tickets to visit 😉

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There are a numerous reasons why this is now my favorite amusement park ever. Keep in mind, I have been to three Disney parks, two Universal Studios, Enchanted Village, and Silverwood. While this does not make me an amusement park aficionado, it does mean I am not a complete newbie. Liseberg rises above all these parks for several reasons. The first is easy access. Liseberg is truly in the city. There are multiple tram and bus routes that stop directly outside the park. Anyone, local and tourist alike, can easily get to this park. Another awesome perk is that you are able to buy a yearly gate pass for about $30. Admittedly, it does not cover rides; but they have discount tickets for that and there is a lot to do without going on rides. There is a huge children’s play area as well as quite a few games you can play using coins when you get into the park. Those of you who will only be in town for a short time, don’t worry. They have single admission tickets that are even cheaper. As a plus for those of us with young (short) children, there is no entry fee for anyone under 110 cm and many rides are free for them as well. Oh, and those games I mentioned? Quite a few of them result in you bringing home 2kg of quality chocolate. Nothing wrong with that…

Upon approaching Liseberg at Halloween, you will immediately notice the giant Halloween display covering the front entrance. Huge replica jack o’lanterns and tree roots seem to swallow the walls. After buying your ticket, you will hear creepy music and see spookily lit waterfalls and scarecrows. These decorations are not for the faint of heart! Thankfully, it’s not all scary. There are also numerous displays of overflowing pumpkins, gourds, and other winter vegetables. Even the rides are lit up with mood enhancing lights. Halloween is truly alive at Liseberg.

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I recommend initially bringing young children during the daytime, because they do a very good job of setting the Halloween mood at night. Our first visit started during daylight hours and we were able to explain to our almost 4 year old that the displays were all plastic and the sounds were piped in over the speakers. This ensured that after night fell, he was confident and comfortable, even with the most realistic decorations. Thrill seekers will find terrifying haunted houses, but people who aren’t quite ready to risk a heart attack have plenty of options as well. Our little family stuck to the child friendly zones on both our visits. One highlight was an impromptu dance party started by a parade of people in costume that included a massive speaker blaring “In the Navy” and “Mambo #5”. It was HILARIOUS. Being an awesome Halloween crowd, adults were dancing along just as much as children.

Unsurprisingly, people who come earlier in the day will find extremely short lines that tend to swell after nightfall. Our first visit for Halloween started at 3pm. Entry took about one minute and the line for the big wheel was only 6 people long. Our second visit started after dark and it took us 10 minutes just to get into the park. We didn’t even attempt any rides that appealed to the masses. Thankfully, the child friendly rides didn’t have huge lines as night fell. I recommend arriving early and leaving after dark to get the full benefit of easy ride access and proper Halloween ambience.

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I know they aren’t silly cat videos, but I hope you enjoy the pictures from our visits. Hopefully they convey the full awesomeness that is Liseberg at Halloween. If you decide to visit or are relocating here, I hope you make the time to spend at least a day at this awesome local amusement park.

Until next time…

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Travel Adventures

My First Swedish Fall

Fall has come to Sweden and following my last post, I thought some of you may want to know more about this country that provides free lunch to all school children…

I love fall.  Not for the pumpkin spice latte’s…I don’t drink coffee 😉

Fall is my favorite season because temperatures start to cool, but you still get to enjoy the beautiful sunny days. Cold, but sunny. There is also a certain stark beauty in trees that have shed their leaves. After months of green bounty, seeing them stripped to their base refreshes my senses.

Göteborg in the fall reminds me a lot of the Pacific Northwest (PNW), where I grew up. In the morning, it is crisp and cold. My breath billows out in front of me and I bundle up in a shirt, sweater, coat, and hat. By afternoon, the sun is high in the sky and a shirt and and coat suffice. It’s still crisp and cold, but not numbingly cold. Back home, there tends to be a bit more rain, a little less wind, and the temperatures aren’t quite as chilling this early in the season. Checking the 5 day forecast this week in Seattle, I saw lows in the 50’s (Fahrenheit) and highs in the 60’s. There were also several days with rain showers. Göteborg’s lows were in the mid 30’s with high’s in the mid 50’s.

Needless to say, morning and afternoon require different wardrobes. The sun rose high in the sky each day this week, fooling some new arrivals into thinking it was much warmer. My husband included…apparently he thought 30 degrees was good sandal weather. His frozen feet proved him wrong.

I’m not the only one who loves this weather. My little guy is also quite content. Usually he fights to not wear a jacket or sweater, but he is happily layering up and heading out each day. His time outside is a bit more comfortable without all the sweat. Clothing here for children is also a different from that of PNW children in October. Rather than a pair of pants, long sleeved shirt, and a warm jacket; he wears multiple layers. Generally, on top he wears a long sleeved shirt, fleece jacket, and warm puffy jacket. On bottom, he has on one layer of wool and one layer of cotton. He also has on wool socks. As the weather chills further, I will add a second layer of wool, and a fully insulated snowsuit. On the playground at his school, they ensure all the children are wearing rugged waterproof overalls to maximize heat retention. Remember, children in Sweden don’t just spend a half hour here and there outside. They spend at least half of the day outside during their younger years.

His only complaint is that he misses all the water features in Göteborg (splash pads and kiddie play features) that have been shut off. We had actually wondered about this, but now that the weather hits near freezing temperatures each night, it makes perfect sense.
Rather than splash about town, we are finding pine cones, crunching up brown leaves, and climbing trees. A pine cone collection is even amassing in the house, in preparation for an at home cinnamon pine cone project (like the ones you find Stateside in the grocery stores).

My goal is to recreate a few of the experiences I savor each year, here in Sweden. Hot apple cider is a must, as are pumpkin donuts and all things sweet potato. Since the customs here are not quite the same (Swedes love coffee and rather than donuts love cinnamon rolls), creativity is necessary.

Living in Göteborg in the fall is not quite the same as living in the PNW. Despite needing to improvise to enjoy longstanding traditions, I’m happy. Living in a society where having a healthy, happy family is the focus means this is one fall I will always remember.

Gothenburg, Sweden (by Petri Olderhvit) via 500px

Gothenburg, Sweden (by Petri Olderhvit)

Until next time…

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Rants

The Value of Our Children

Today I asked my son what he had for for lunch at his Swedish preschool. Initially he was a bit confused and explained that he had a sandwich (open faced with lactose free butter, cheese, and some ham) as well as fruit and some lactose free milk. In case you are wondering, we did ask them to keep him lactose free — they listen! Once I clarified that I was talking about his lunch and not his afternoon snack, he told me he had a really tasty pasta with a vegetarian sauce. There was also a morning snack of fresh fruit around 10am and often there is a fresh smoothie or homemade applesauce with cream. You may wonder just how much I pay for this bounty of healthy and delicious food that my son happily eats throughout the day. Truthfully, it is all included in the $120 or so that we pay each month for his spot in preschool. Once children enter elementary school, all schooling and meals are free.

How then does this opening paragraph relate to the title of this blog?

Well, let’s talk about it. I read this article recently about a young man in the United States who at the age of 14 took a carton of milk from the lunchroom without paying. Before opening it, he was intercepted by the school resource officer who tried to make him take the carton to the principal and confess to stealing it. He tossed it back in the case and resisted going to the principal. His contention? He didn’t steal it. He is enrolled in the need based free lunch program and simply forgot to pick up his milk when he went through the line. Rather than queuing back up, he popped into the line, grabbed the milk, and went back to his seat.

Unfortunately, rather than let the boy have the milk and move on, the school decided to pursue punishment of the boy (who never did get to drink that milk). They did not give him after school detention that day, but instead had him “arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and petit larceny”. He was then offered an alternative, non judicial punishment. His mother, appropriately in my opinion, disagreed. She argued that no punishment was acceptable because he is entitled to a carton of milk with his free lunch. I ask you, how is this okay? Just for arguments sake, even if he did lie and was taking a second carton of milk, why make it into such a big deal? Why make a teenager, who had purportedly never been in trouble before, a criminal?

Schools are supposed to be a safe haven where we provide youth with the information and skills they need to help them succeed. How does that ideal fit into this scenario? It doesn’t.

Now, I don’t have all the facts on this and I don’t know any of the involved parties. However, as a citizen of the United States, I would rather provide that boy with a carton of milk free of charge than pay for a trial. I would rather he get a bit of extra calcium than decide that our justice system is against him and schools are not to be trusted. The teen years are a scary time. Life is changing rapidly for these kids. We should support them at times like this, not penalize them.

I should add that this article isn’t the only one I read involving lunches in the past week that made me angry. The first article, which you can read here, involved a school lunch room employee who quit her job after being forced to take away a hot lunch from an elementary school child whose parents had an outstanding lunch bill with the school. After taking away his hot lunch, she had to provide him with a cold cheese sandwich, piece of fruit, and a milk. On the surface, this is not a bad lunch, but it is not a lunch available to the other children. This makes it readily apparent to everyone that these children have parents that owe the school money. To add insult to injury, in this particular instance, the employee had to throw the hot lunch in the trash because it could not be served to another child. So, rather than allow the child to have the food that was mistakenly given, the school directed her to waste it. To throw it away… The trash bin was seen as a better option than a child’s stomach.

Something is going wrong in our public schools. This is just not right. Children should not be treated as pariahs in a place that is supposed to help them grow and they certainly should not be arrested for taking a carton of milk.

Now contrast this with my son’s experience at his preschool and the experience of all school students in Sweden. According to this article, the law mandates that children must be provided a lunch, free of charge.  Clearly someone in Sweden read articles like this one that report eating a healthy lunch helps children learn. Every day, students in this country are provided with freshly cooked, healthy meals that help them to grow and learn. Meals that are free of charge to their parents.

Why is it acceptable in our country for billionaire’s to exploit tax loopholes, but unacceptable to provide children with healthy, free meals at school?  What will become of these kids for whom food is a privilege and not a right?  What will become of our country when we value money more than helping our children grow into healthy, productive citizens?  I tried to research myself to find out how much it would cost our country to provide free lunches to all school children.  Unfortunately, I found out that school lunch prices are set by individual school districts, so there is no set price to base my calculations.

If we truly are a pro-life society, it’s time to value the lives of the children who come into the world, rather than criminals over a carton of milk. End of rant.

 

School lunch picture from Huffington Post

School lunch picture from Huffington Post

Until next time…

 

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