Fabulous, Funny & Fierce — Old People, Swedish Style

Göteborg tram at night

While riding into town one day, my tram slammed to an unexpected stop. The two tram cars and all the riders within lurched backward and forward, some riders nearly falling to the floor. The cause of this sudden disturbance? A very old man decided he could outrun a tram. As I saw him skip across the last tram track and heave his walker up on to the sidewalk, I couldn’t help but grin. This cheeky fellow is a perfect example of the average over 70 in Göteborg.

Public transportation in Göteborg is a melting pot of nationalities, income levels, and ages. The youngest I’ve seen? 1 day…my own newborn. The oldest? I swear he had to have been 90. Today I want to focus on the older generation using trams and buses in Göteborg. Walkers, canes, and wheelchairs are everywhere. Older people are just as active and adventurous in Göteborg as the younger generation. Not only are they physically present, they also interact heavily with their fellow riders.

Older Swedish men (in my experience) are both hilarious and polite. If my baby’s hat falls or my son drops his toy, they often come to the rescue with twinkling eyes. These same men will readily scold a child for chasing the birds. They are friendly with but firm. Just the other day, my daughter amused herself yanking on the finger and nose of a particularly dour looking older fellow. She thought his scruffy cheeks and papery skin were the best thing ever. He played along, letting her have her way for the entirety of his tram ride. They parted reluctantly at our mutual stop…after 15 minutes of silliness.

Older Swedish women are outspoken and equal parts helpful and ornery. The beauty of these women is their lack of fear. They know their rights and are unafraid to speak up. They are hilarious and a little bit scary. As someone without a car, I spend time each day on trams and buses. One day, I boarded a standing room only tram while baby-wearing. Two seated youths were focused on their phones and didn’t notice me; other nearby passengers avoided eye contact. Thankfully, a 20-something woman offered me her window seat. After she moved towards the door, an older (70+) Swedish woman began to address me, loudly, over the head of the man in the seat to my right. I explained my limited svenska and she switched to english. Still loud, she bemoaned that men and youth are so rude these days that they won’t even move for a woman with a baby strapped to her chest. The man next to me was visibly uncomfortable and the youths in front finally tuned in. I was amused and impressed with her gumption. At the next stop, the youths jumped up to allow another person a seat and the man next to me hopped off.

Three weeks later, I boarded a bus and sat in the section for people with limited mobility when I saw no further seats available. Having a baby strapped on my chest and a sleepy toddler at my hip certainly qualifies me for that section. The man across from me had one leg, crutches, and a backpack in the adjoining seat. An older woman approached and asked him to move his bag. He told her to make me move to the buggy/wheelchair section. She scolded him and pointed out the baby on my chest and my young son. She got louder as he continually refused. I began to stand and she brusquely ordered me back to my seat while heading to the buggy section. Just as she arrived, a man in an automatic wheelchair boarded the bus. She came back to our section and demanded that bag be moved. He moved it. She sat. All was well with the world.

These scenarios perfectly illustrate the personality of many older Swedish women. They are powerful, outspoken, and occasionally a bit cranky (they won’t hesitate to tell you off for having feet on the seats). At the same time, even the most impressively coifed older woman will smile at my baby and allow her to touch their jackets or play with their fingers. As someone who appreciates slightly cranky people, I am quite enamored of these women. And yes, they have also taken me to task when they felt I was deserving of the scolding (I probably was…).

Obviously, not all older people in Sweden fit these descriptions. Some are quite ornery and others are visibly uncomfortable with the cultural melting pot they find themselves inhabiting. However, in my experience the majority are good people, living life to the fullest.

To those Swedes who bemoan their cranky older generation, I encourage you to sit back and enjoy the show. Some day you too can take others to task and live while testing the limits of the trams’ brakes and drivers’ reflexes.

Until next time…


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…

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.



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)


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…


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…

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.


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.


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.


Even the chocolate gifts were works of art.


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.


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!


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…

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…


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…


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…



Today’s Win

Today was a great day. My back hurt, I was tired, and it was still a great day. Why? Well, I got the best news today. Not really news so much as a revelation. As many of you know, we recently switched preschools to be a bit closer to home and also expose our son to more of the Swedish language. Lo and behold, that decision paid off.

Midday, just as I was debating on whether I really had time for a nap, a notification popped up on my phone screen. It was from Pluttra, the program the preschool uses to send pictures and videos from the school day. We don’t get a notification every day, but whenever we do, it is always a surprise. Today’s notification related to a video featuring our son introducing lunch to his classmates. You see, each day one of the students rings the bell signaling lunch and then tells the others what they will be eating. Today was our son’s turn.

As the video began, we heard the teacher asking a question in Svenska (presumably asking our son to introduce the meal). The little guy promptly responded by making eye contact with his table mates and then pointing to each dish in turn and providing the Svenska name for the food. There were about five different foods on the table. He correctly listed all but one in Svenska, correcting the last after prompting from his teacher. Following his presentation he said “varsågod”. This is “you are welcome” in Svenska. It is also the same phrase used when you are provided just about any service or item. He definitely used it in the correct context.

I cheered! Aloud…by myself. Couldn’t help it really.

It’s been two weeks now that his teachers’ have been speaking Svenska exclusively with him and already the progress is astounding. Children have the most amazing minds. When I was younger I had no idea of my capabilities. Now I truly understand why we use the phrase “limitless potential”. Watching that video, I was reminded that the entire world is open to my child, to our children. We just have to give them the opportunity to discover it.

Image from http://www.smakeats.com/

Image from http://www.smakeats.com/

Until next time…



New Term, New School

Pre-school has begun again for our little guy and I am so excited to share this new experience with you. As you know from my previous blog, we were excited to have the little man try out school in Sweden. While the teachers in our last school were AWESOME, we wanted to find a school closer to home and also one where the students were primarily Swedish. The logic behind this is that if we stay in Sweden long term, the short one will need to be fluent in Svenska. Thus began the search for a new school. I applied to many schools, a few local public schools, and several cooperatives. The one I was most excited about was a Montessori cooperative. Those of you familiar with the Montessori pedagogy know that the emphasis is on helping children to develop their life skills through self-guided play (massive simplification, I know). Needless to say, my fingers were crossed. A couple of months passed while we waited to be notified about school, but finally we found out there was availability in three of the schools we had contacted. Two we were very excited about and those two were narrowed to one after we considered ease of commute.

That is how just three weeks ago I found myself bringing the little man for his first day of Montessori pre-school in a primarily Svenska speaking school. It was such a good decision. Not only is this a Montessori pre-school, it also has a huge outdoor play area with a giant sand pit, vegetable and flower gardens, and even a little play house. Indoors, the children are separated by age into three distinct classrooms that only mingle when outdoors (a big plus for my little guy who doesn’t always enjoy the company of the littlest children). The teachers are lovely, and the students are most definitely the nicest group of kids I have come across.

Each week, the children will be going on a hike in the nearby woods with their teachers. They also take walks around the neighborhood, visit local museums and theaters, and eat some amazing, freshly prepared meals. Yesterday when I arrived they were eating apple sauce they made with apples foraged from a local yard (freely given by the homeowner) and today they had sandwiches made on freshly made bread rolls by the awesome cook who prepares tasty meals each day. My experience with the food at both the previous school and this current school is that the quality is so much higher than what I was accustomed to back home. As someone who has been sick and disinclined to make strongly flavorful foods for the past few months, it is wonderful to know that my child is eating things like freshly prepared salmon cakes and homemade stews during his school day.

This school is a cooperative in addition to being Montessori, which means that we as parents have a responsibility to assist with the smooth running of the school. There are cleaning duties, committee duties, and in general an expectation that we will be active in the goings on at the school. While this can be daunting for some, in a place like Sweden, where parental leave is generous, and people work to live rather than live to work, it is completely reasonable. It’s not all work though, in addition to those responsibilities come certain privileges. After picking up children from school, it’s not unheard of for parents to stick around and play on the playground out back with the children. I wouldn’t even have considered this at our previous school, as the playground was in the middle of an apartment complex and I felt it would be impolite to stick around. Since this playground belongs to the school, it makes perfect sense to let the children continue playing and to join in ourselves.

My biggest concern joining this school was that my limited Svenska would be problematic for the other parents. Thus far, my fears have proven completely unfounded. The parents are friendly and inclusive, some have even been helping me to add to my Svenska vocabulary bit by bit. One mom even made me a homemade natural deodorant that is much better than the store bought one I’ve been using. My other concern was that my son would have trouble adjusting to being the only English speaking child. That concern turned out to be entirely unfounded. The other children have completely accepted him and gone out of there way to include him in their play. Hopefully eventually he will even be able to understand what they are saying.

Until next time…