Friday, December 31, 2010

The one where I pat myself on the back and make some resolutions

The holiday season sort of officially ends the day after tomorrow and not-so-coincidentally so does 2010. As much as we missed our families this Christmas, I amazed myself by giving our family a great Christmas. I did it! I threw a huge party, I baked some amazing holiday treats, I made us and some friends a traditional Christmas feast with all the trimmings and I was organized enough to get most of my shopping done well before Christmas Eve (thank you amazon). I'm not just patting myself on the back, I'm slapping myself! But I can't take all the credit..nope. Hubby was there through it all, mainly in the role of cleaning up after me and doing the ahem "manly" jobs like erecting the tree, stringing the lights and mopping up after the flash flood that occurred in our kitchen an hour before the big bash.

And now 2011 is looming. We're celebrating tonight at a house party with the little man in tow. I swear next year I'm gonna slap a TAXI sign on our VW for Christmas Eve. Trying to book a taxi (which you can apparently do here with a handful of cab companies) was a fruitless endeavor as I left that to the last minute. I even resorted to calling "companies" that I believe were fronts for other ahem businesses. Nobody wants to drive us. So I might be the only sober chick at the party. Meh...I'm telling myself I don't need to drink to have a good time...ha!

Poor Little Man has been asking to go to school nearly every day this past week. Being an only child, hubby and I are his only playmates on "off days" so feeling bad, I got out the school directory and invited some of his little girlfriends over for a playdate. They arrived with their lovely Mommy and we took to the hills with our sleds. A few lectures about sharing later and we were on our way back to the house for some fika. The 3. 4 and 5 year olds played well together. Little Man was obviously upset when they had to leave so asked for a parting hug..which he received twice. Like father like son: He went in for the kiss. The 5-year old wasn't so sure but the 3-year old came up to Little Man, pushed him up against the wall and planted a HUGE smacker right on his kisser. Careful what you wish for. Stunned for a moment, he then proceeded to do what most little boys do, he wiped it off. It was priceless.

So, 2011. I have resolved to make no resolutions. But maybe I will make a few, you know, to make some. But they will all revolve around Health & Happiness for 2011. Quitting bad habits and replacing them with good ones and one I know for damn sure....Getting back to learning Swedish. I slacked off the last half of 2010 and lately, I have realized just how important it is for me to have command of this language. So there's a concrete resolution: To learn Swedish, no matter what it takes.

What are your resolutions for 2011? How are you ringing in the New Year? My last post received no comments and I blame that on two things: 1) It's Christmas and bloggers are taking some much needed time away from their screens and 2) I've been one lazy blogger the last few months. Not that I will resolve to blog more often but I will resolve to blog when the urge hits. As it did this morning. Now off to scrub, launder and have a much-needed shower.

Love and Peace to you all! Jenn and fam.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas to you and yours

Well hello there strangers. Yes, it's been forever, well since December 3rd actually. Truth be told: Been way too busy to blog: planning parties, hosting parties, going to parties, baking, eating, drinking and more eating. I have 2.5 extra kilos to show for it folks...but so worth every yummy bite. Here's a recap of what we've been up to, so we can catch up properly.
- We celebrated hubby's 2nd 50th Birthday party here at home. I stressed over it for weeks but a big pot of homemade chilli, some dips and a lot of good folks and it was a success.
- There was no "home for the holidays" this year. Instead, we opted to stay put in snowy Sweden and buy and bake Christmas. Yup, I baked. This is rather monumental for me. As many of our memories are wrapped up in food, I got busy baking the squares and shortbreads my Mom was famous for. They turned out great! We were invited to celebrate December 24th (Christmas Day here in Sweden) with our "foster family" and feasted on traditional Julbord (that's Christmas table). Pickled herring, Christmas ham, meatballs, Janssons (this yummy potatoe dish to die for), salads, etc. DELISH.

And then it was time  to leave cookies, milk, carrots and sugar out for Santa and his reindeer. Noone told me that they make special reindeer food to sprinkle outside...we'll get some for next year.
 Little man must have been really good this year cuz Santa left quite the haul for him. I tried something nouveau this year and did 80% of my shopping online and boy was that a bright idea. Not as much stressing around at the last minute, that's for sure and I was also able to buy a lot of English-language stuff. I guess the one thing I hadn't counted on was that because I was ordering from, that English-language stuff is actually "British English". So I'm sitting next to the 4-year old right now whose repeating words from his Little Einstein's DVD with the cutest accent, "Zehbras" vs. "Zeeeebras".
On Christmas Day, instead of slaving over a hot stove, we opted to spend the day chatting with our dear family on Skype. I'd like to thank whoever it was who invented it..we'd never have lasted as long as we have overseas without it.

And so, on the 26th, we invited some friends over to join us in celebrating Canadian Christmas: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, carrots, salad and more. Pretty scary preparing it all myself but I did it! With a lot of help from the hubby.

The only thing missing this year was a visit to church but we kept Christ in Christmas in our hearts.

So that's the play-by-play on our Christmas month. Now we get ready to celebrate New Year's Eve and I try my darndest to work off these extra 5lbs by the time 2011 rings in.

Hope you're all enjoying your time with family and friends. I hope to get back into the swing of things come 2011. Thanks for being patient with me while on my hiatus. Oh and I'm feeling much better..digestive thing almost solved :-).

Lots of love to you all, Jenn xo

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter's been here for awhile now

Well friends. The other day, we woke up to a balmy -18 here in Uppsala. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Well, except for those poor Australian kids. How they manage to get into the Christmas spirit with +25 and a Santa in a Hawaii shirt, I'll never know. In this season of giving, I'd like to propose an exchange program. I would begrudgingly, in the name of all that is good and right, force my teary-eyed boys onto an airplane this December to switch places with one of those poor, deprived Aussie families. It's the right thing to do. So please, if you know of a family in need, get in touch.

"Little Man, you're not supposed to hit Mommy." "I didn't do it, you did," he fires back with full confidence. Geez, maybe I did? No, wait.  little fibber! Have had to find a way to explain "lying" to a 4-year old. Still working on different analogies.

Been a busy season for us what with all the decorating, visiting, eating and turning up and down the heat. Oh and the online shopping of course. Yup, this year I decided to get all technical and stuff. Even had the fams send through some gift cards for Amazing how much time you can spend sitting on your ass clicking around for Christmas prezzies (still half the time and stress involved running around with a zillion other shoppers). Because I couldn't very well leave online shopping to the last minute, I made sure I had everything ordered yesterday with a guarantee on the website that my parcels would arrive before Christmas. phewf.

And because I know my way around the site now, I made sure everything I ordered was both "in stock" and direct from Amazon (as opposed to some 3rd party merchant). So I get some emails last night to confirm that my orders had already been dispatched. They took my bulk order and split into two shipments. No matter, I was eligible for Free Super Saver Shipping, delivery between 7 and 10 working days. Hip, hip, hurray. And then...Only to sit in horror while processing the following line of text for one of my two shipments: "Expected delivery date: December 31st". WTF?????????????????? (the other one said December Cue scathing email to customer service with words like "misleading" and "you better" and "asap" and "angry".

So I get a response back to the effect that yes, there was a mistake in the estimated delivery time and a guarantee that my parcel will arrive before December 31st... but no guarantee that it will arrive before Christmas. So I will now spend a significant portion of my already busy day yelling at some poor customer service professional.

Ahhh...the joys of the season. Speaking of such joys, we decided to throw a Christmas party/Hubby's 50th Birthday party here in Uppsala at the house on December 18th. The idea being to replace our disappointment in not getting home with festive cheer and presents! Well, we actually know a few more ppl. then we thought we did and with a guest list of 25 and ALL 25 CONFIRMED (and a few stragglers we feel so bad about not inviting that we may have to), we're sorta screwed. Especially if they bring their kids.  Our 2-level townhouse will not fit that many revelers. So what now? It's Christmas. It's not like we have extra cash to hold it at some hall. So instead, we squish everyone together and pray no one notices their body is pressed up against some stranger's ass.  Oh and the kids. You see in this country, if you have small children and you're invited to a house party, you usually bring said small children. I was worried about this so stated somewhere in the invite that the party is for big kids but if you want to bring your little kids, you can (as my little kid ain't goin' nowhere). What I should have said is: If you can't leave your kids at home, don't bother coming. Insert F-word.

And instead of having it catered, which costs a bloody fortune, I'll be sweatin' in the kitchen most of the time. And they don't have any of those wonderful little stores in Canada that sell frozen, boxed and yummy hors d'oeuvres so I have to make such things myself. Say hello to one freaked out Canadian woman.

If someone, anyone has even the tiniest suggestion for my party dilemma, please, please share it now. I'll owe you one.

I'll get it all figured out. Just breathe Jenn. Breathe.
Happy decorating and entertaining and gift purchasing and stressing Merry Ones! xoxo

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's been awhile...Merry Christmas!

So we've decided we are not headed home for the holidays this year. Cue pity party. Instead, we went out and bought Christmas today. Thank you IKEA for the ornaments and Bauhaus for the fake tree. And 300 bucks later....Christmas! Yes, our tree is up and fully decorated along with the rest of the house. Well...almost.

We always start early but this year was the earliest. We usually wait until next weekend at least, American Thanksgiving. But maybe cuz' we're already sad about not flying home to be with our family we're placating ourselves with early Christmas cheer.

And we are likely the first family in Uppsala to have everything up, as confirmed by a few Facebook friends and the neighbour lady who I overheard exclaim in Swedish as I was taking the garbage out and she, bringing her groceries in, "Wow. Christmas!"

So I've been a bit absent lately cuz I've had some stuff on my mind. Not feeling the greatest health-wise these days, something with my esophagus but noone is sure exactly what. So the ENT specialist has me on some GERD medication which woke me up from a comfy slumber TWICE this morning with a raging case of the runs. TMI? You betcha.

So we'll see what happens in a month or so. Either I'll be close to death from dehydration and all better or the former and not the latter. So now you know why I've been MIA. And I've been avoiding exercising too because I'm afraid that the neck tightness I've been experiencing recently could be because I injured myself somehow. urghhh....

Back to Christmas. Well we've already been invited to spend the holidays with two sets of friends, so that will at least take the edge off. No sooner had I figured out what I'm getting hubby for Christmas and he announces today that he's getting himself a Christmas present and it's OF COURSE the exact thing I was all excited to get him...grrrr. I even checked in with all my expert friends and have it all picked out. So I think I'll order it anyway and when he proclaims he's on his way out to purchase it, I'll tell him it's too late.

Most of my holiday shopping will take place online this year. As it's so damn expensive to ship gifts from Canada, I've advised the grandparents to purchase gift certificates for and I'll shop there. What a modern holiday shopper I am.

It's getting dark early here now. Try 2:45pm. After the clocks went back I dealt with a very shoked and saddened Little Man, "Mommy, I don't want the sun to go down," he sobbed.  Neither do any of us. It's depressing.

Not much else in the way of news. Little Man and I made a trip to the library yesterday to return and borrow some more books and were pleasantly surprised to run into a friend of his from daycare and her Mom. And then even more thrilled to discover there was a Children's Fun Hour scheduled. We joined in with about 20 other kids and sets of parents and shook our bodies to some Swedish kiddie tunes. I faked my way through the words by displaying some expert "So You Think You Can Dance"-style routine mastery. I discovered Little Man is quite the lady killer...dragging his betrothed along by the hand in between hugs. So cute. He really has become a little Swedish kid with friends proclaiming that he speaks with absolutely no accent. How proud am I? And a little sad at the thought of leaving this country, and the language, behind one day. But only a little...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Little Man Wednesdays

The drive home from daycare just got 5 minutes longer (again), for a total of 20ish minutes. This is all thanks to the kiddies in town being back from a week off on Fall Break. Yes, they already had a week-long break...imagine. So how do we entertain ourselves in stop and go traffic? Endless loops of AC/DC..that's how.

And the only time I've ever wished for an iPhone to replace my 3-year old pink Samsung came as Little Man belted out the entire first verse to "Shook Me All Night Long". Ok so his version goes something like, "She was a fast machee. She kep her moto keen...." which made it the ultimate YouTube video. But alas, I wasn't able to capture the rare footage on "film"....just in my brain. And because Little Man is anything but a performing monkey, asking him to do it again will always result in him almost never doing it again.

It snowed. Actually it snowSTORMED here yesterday. 2 feet of the sticky white stuff. Someone was just a tad bit excited and ready to make a snowman. Unfortunately shopping for a snowsuit obviously took precedence. I would like to thank the Swedish Mothers Association for forgetting to send me the memo that says, "Shopping for children's snowsuits starts and ends in October." By the time we got to my two favourite stores, they had the wrong colours and the wrong sizes and no sign of new shipments until next year. So instead, we spent the same amount of money on an awesome faux fur lumberjack-inspired hat, gloves and a dicky at  my most favouritest (and obviously most expensive) kids store in Sweden, Polarn o Pyret...ahhhhhhhhhhhh.........So, hand-me-down snowsuit until I find the one I want, which MUST be a red one.

And today Little Man and Dad were out the door to start building a snowman when 2 minutes later they were back inside, "My tummy hurts. I'm gonna throwed up." Great. He was pale but no fever and in an hour, just fine. And no barfing either. But that certainly didn't stop him from yelling it multiple times from upstairs, trying to get out of bedtime, "Mommy, I wanna throwed up." He got me once but I quickly caught onto his little game. Of course, I could very well be eating my words in an hour or two. Smart kid though.

Speaking of smart kid, he's baking bread at school and oh so proud of his little self. And apparently, he's been tracing his letters in Swedish too. And you should hear the kid speak. We actually have to work more proactively on his English cuz while his Swedish is unbelievable, he's a bit behind on the native tongue front.

And the new favourite movie, "How to train your dragon". He insists on watching it once a day. Actually, he insists on 3x a day, I insist on once, while I'm making dinner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God grant me the strength to make choices

A Wise Friend of mine once told me that life is all about choices. Sometimes we find ourselves saying, "But I don't have a choice." Like take for instance parents who say that phrase in relation to going out into the workforce as opposed to what they really want to do, which is stay at home with their kids. The argument could be that the extra income is needed to support the family. But you could choose to stay at home. You could cut back, move from your big house to an apartment, etc. But perhaps you value the big house and trips and well, food, so you make the choice to go to work.  Ok, so getting an illness is NOT a choice but how we deal with Some choices are certainly much harder to make than others and I think this all depends on your reality. Am I making sense here?

Well lately we are questioning our choices as a family. We are being taken advantage of and we feel boxed into our current situation, like we really don't have a choice as we do what we do and sacrifice what we sacrifice in the name of long-term security. But I have come to realize, thanks to thinking back on the philosophizing (made that word up i think) of Wise Friend, that we do have a choice. We can stand up for Us, what We want as a family and make a choice. We can choose to take back control over our lives and deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. Or we can choose the "easier" path, the one where we do nothing and wait with our fingers crossed. Where every day that goes by, a little bit of our patience, compassion, innocence and confidence is stripped away.

I can choose to say NO to continuing down a path I am not comfortable walking down. We can choose to demand respect. We can decide to pack up and leave this country tomorrow. We can. But every choice comes with its risks and rewards and each of those must be carefully weighed. But at the end of the day, it's simply a choice that you make. I think making the choice and as Wise Friend says, shouting it out to the Universe, is just as hard as dealing with the aftermath. Because if your choice is a difficult one to make, you likely already know the consequences and are mentally/physically preparing yourselves to deal with them. To summon the courage to say, "That's it. This is what we're doing. End of story," is as intimidating as it is liberating.

If you're now living out your latest choice and it's making you feel a combination of stressed, guilty, overworked, undervalued, bitter, resentful, angry, lonely, sad, confused, lost, little, weak, demeaned, lied to, etc. well, I bet it's time you made a different choice. And now I hear this verse in my head, an appropriate anthem really: "We're not gonna take it. No, we ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it, anymore."

ps. I just found out from hubby that the song lyrics I referenced are from a song by Twisted Sister. I NEVER would have guessed that in a million years. So, how cosmic do you think it is that the Wise Friend I'm referring to has a blog called, "Spiral Sisters" and that her post today prompted this essay?! Cue that weird music that plays when something is just plain freaky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween in Sweden: Showin' em' how it's done!

I am officially a heroine in my neighbourhood of young, hip Mommies. Just call me Martha Stewart.

Hubby and I decided on a whim that we were gonna throw a Halloween party for Little Man and the neighbourhood kiddies. I'll be honest: It was epic. Now if you were to transplant our Spooky Fest into Any Town, North America, it would have been mediocre at best. In fact there wasn't anything we did that hasn't already been done North America that is.

You see here in Sweden, Halloween is a relatively new phenomenon, slowly growing in popularity over just the past 10 years or so. Pumpkin carvings a la cave man days, 30% of any given neighbourhood actually participating in trick or treating and the only costumes you'll find on the kiddies are of the scary variety.  No Buzz Lightyears to be found. And how about going trick or treating and receiving a handful of loose chips or 1 piece of candy? Now that's a fright.

So when we announced to the street that we were having a Halloween party, well everyone was excited to come and discover "what exactly do you do at a Halloween party"? I spent the week collecting Halloween-inspired recipes from family, friends and the Net and just when I thought I'd have to break out the construction paper and pipe cleaners, I discovered the new Toys R Us in town had a whole entire aisle of Halloween decor...woohooo!

Hubby is the creative one in the family so before you knew it, we had a poor, stuffed dude being crushed by Little Man's ride-on tractor, a front lawn full of tombstones, a floating witches hat and other spooky bits and bobs.

See for yourself!

We almost lost a few little party animals, however. You see, it took a few of them a good 15 minutes to make it to our door they were so scared, having never seen anything like this before. And then there were the activities. Nothing too inventive about cupcake decorating, bobbing for apples or sticking your hand in peeled grapes right? Wrong. "Jennifer, where did you come up with the idea to decorate "muffins"? "This is so creative." "I just got so much inspiration." Yes, my ego expanded to the size of a hot-air balloon. But I had to fess up, "We just do these things back home."

The one comment posted on facebook that sent me shuddering in terror, "You have just set the standard for all future Halloween parties." F-word. How the hell are we gonna outdo ourselves next year?!

Happy Halloween All! Love Marta Stewartsson, Buzz Lightyear (he was in costume for a record 10 minutes) and The King of Creativity, my hubby.

Now to work off the 2 kilos gained in the span of 5 days...Thank you birthday cake and Halloween candy! Oh, I almost forgot Hubby's handcarved, no stencils involved, pumpkins:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Birthday Love

My birthday unfolded just as I expected. At noon, I get a call from Little Man's school to tell me that his eyes are red, he's tired and is complaining that his "brain is broken". I rush over to pick him up, take one look at the pathetic little mess of tears and fatigue and with no fever, I'm worried. I rush him over to emergency, where, no word of a lie, I'm in and out in 30 minutes. Imagine THAT in North America...Kudos to the Swedish healthcare system on that one.

Check of his ears, nose, throat and a simple pinprick blood test and we're outta there with "It's just a virus." Thank God. But boy did I feel like a dolt. 30 minutes later and my son is back to normal. I figured out last night it was likely hayfever. dolt. But no girls over for cake as catching a virus was not on their to-do list.

And because I wanted to be around to field birthday calls, of which there were many and I'm so grateful, we made a quick trip to the mall for mall food and shopping for all the babies in my life. Came home to chocolate cake. And last night, we went out for sushi and topped the evening off with wine and a movie. Another birthday come and gone.

After returning home from the birthday trip to the ER, I noticed a bouquet of flowers all wrapped up on the kitchen table. They were sent from my dear friend in Russia. An unexpected surprise. I am humbled and grateful for my family and friends and that's the best thing about a birthday


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

34 Years on the Planet Tomorrow

Yup, it's the most wonderful time of the birthday tomorrow! Waaaahoooo! I'm full of it. I'm really not that excited. I'm 34, not 19! A time for reflection? Most likely. But meh, I'll wait to do that when I hit 40. What would I like to do for my birthday? Let's see. How about a nice dinner out, expensive food and wine and maybe something sinful for dessert? Yes! What will I actually be doing?

Well hubby declared today that he and Little Man would be baking a cake in my honour. So of course that meant I had to look up the easiest chocolate cake recipe I could find online and then head out to the grocery store to try and decipher the Swedish equivalents for all the English things on my list. Like bittersweet chocolate is obviously NOT called that here, or anywhere near that. Instead there are all these percentages of cocoa in the chocolate. And I never bake. And think I could find Vanilla extract, like in liquid form in a bottle? Nope. But lots of powdered vanilla extracts. weird. And after spending exactly 20 mins in the baking aisle reading and rereading packages and moaning and asking complete strangers for advice (which is SUCH a no-no here), I simultaneously want to jump for joy and kick myself when I see CAKE MIX! Just add water and butter. SCORE!

Then I rush to a meeting and rush to pick up the Little Man and throw together an ultra fast supper and then proceed to translate the simple cake baking directions into English for my simpletons, get the ingredients and measuring utensils together and let the men make the cake themselves. What a production! They had fun, especially the licking of the beaters part, while I vacuumed. Because a birthday isn't a birthday without someone, or in this case, my friend and her 3 daughters and two cousins, coming over to eat said cake, which by now is burning in the oven. And because I don't have a maid (now there's what I should have asked for) and have to work tomorrow, ie. field birthday calls all day, I need to clean my house for my impromptu party.

Yes, the birthday calls. Let's run down the list shall we?
1. My brother, wife and new baby Audrey
2. My parents
3. Hubby's Mom, sis-in-law and family
4. Hubby's Dad and wife
5. BFF Jody
6. DFF Diana
7. DFF Connie
8. "Nanny" Tanja
9. Our oldest son
10. An assortment of friends around here
11. Facebook. There's over 300 messages right there. But I love those, don't you? Feeling the love from family, friends and friends you never should have friended.
12. Oh and maybe my Godparents and their whole gaggle
13. Co-workers

And since time zones vary, I will literally be on the phone most of the day while trying to tidy up for the Birthday Troupe arrival while checking email halfhazardly. And because when you're a Mom, your birthday is no longer about you. The cheesecake or white chocolate cake or ice cream cake (they don't have those awesome Dairy Queen cakes here) I crave will instead be replaced by a slightly burnt chocolate boxed cake made lovingly by my two sweethearts and decorated with an insane amount of sprinkles. And my birthday meal will be at McDonald's. I've already started ingesting carbs in anticipation. So the day after my birthday, I get to stare at a not-so-pretty number on the scale and maybe get a few pimples too.

So I am writing this post the day before my birthday because tomorrow, I will literally have no me-time. And although the sarcasm dripping from this post might lead you to believe I am complaining about the Fiasco that will be my birthday tomorrow, I'm not. I love birthday love, even if it means having to move the stack of papers cluttering the kitchen table and dining at the golden arches. Oh and I think Little Man might be coming down with something. So Happy Birthday to Me!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Heard from the House

Haven't been very active in the blogosphere lately. A little too much on the brain.

Little man's upstairs in bed. And I hear, "Daddy?" "Yes Little Man?" "I'm 4 years old. Not three years old. Four years old." "Ok, Little Man."

Since Daddy has been going into the office more frequently these days, he's picking Little Man up from school more frequently. On the odd occasion that he would pick him up before, I'd hear the annoying blast of our door buzzer around 4:20 and look through the fogged out window to see Little Red Man on tippy toes reaching for the blasted bell. I'd swing the door open wide to a smirking kid, "Mommy, I got a surprise for you! Taaadaaa!" And from behind his back, he'd produce a bouquet of flowers. Say it with me: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

This past Thursday, annoying door buzzer and beautiful flowers. A few days later, hubby had to go into the office again. Annoying door buzzer and beautiful flowers again. Problem was, the last bunch were still fresh! This was working out great before. Just when I was ready to throw out the flowers, a new bunch arrived. When I whispered this to hubby, he replied that driving home after their usual pit stop to pick up juice, Little Man exclaimed, "Daddy, we forgot Mommy's flowers!!" He tried in vain to explain that they had just got flowers a few days ago that were still good and Mommy didn't need flowers this time. There was no reasoning with him. The tears of a broken-hearted little man were enough for Daddy to pull into the nearest gas station. So "Taaadaa!", more flowers.

Lucky I was able to convince Little Man on our way home today that Daddy likes chocolate more than flowers. Not that I want to break this habit. I love that our Little Man enjoys the gift of giving.

I've crossed over to the dark side people. I am officially a Mac user. By force, not by choice. And I gotta say, it's growing on me.

Well time to strip down for some butt blasting and ab crunching. Happy Thursday!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To my dearest little bro

I mean, I knew for the last 7 months or so it was coming but when I got the call at 5:30 this morning, it really hit me.

My little brother is a Daddy to a little girl.

And I'm just so emotional about it all, in the proudest big sister way possible.

Because I remember what it felt like when I became a Mom.

And because I have that photo of us, you: 3, me: 6 or 7, snuggling in a bed against a backdrop of floral wallpaper on Logan Street.

And because I know you. And it makes me laugh. I chuckle to think that my anal retentive, color-coordinated sock drawer, organized-to-a-fault, sleep-coveting baby brother is going to have his world turned upside down.

That this new world will be filled with power washing the poop of cloth diapers. Losing sleep even when his days-old daughter is fast asleep, just checking to make sure that she is, in fact, breathing. Stumbling outside at 4am to take his two terribly confused dogs for a pee. Doing Balki's dance for joy after she finally falls asleep after countless trips around the living room in the stroller. Falling in love with his wife all over again as she nurses the precious life you created together. Baby-proofing the baby-proofing. Hovering like a lunatic when anyone dares to pick her up. Policing the phone lines so as not to disturb his best girls while they're resting (and cursing whoever it is who dares to call).

And that's just the beginning.

And I have some advice for you dear brother of mine. Take noone's advice. Do what YOU feel is best. You will pour over "the books", you will drive yourself mad trying to weigh conflicting advice from well-meaning grandparents/siblings/friends on everything from how often to breastfeed, when/if to start sleep training, the colour of her poo, how to dress her for X weather, etc.

But in the end, you will do what's right for your daughter and your family. Every time. And I know this because I've been there and I know this because I know you.

And I love you. And I'm just so proud of both of you. And I can't wait to meet my niece and cuddle her and make silly faces at her and buy an overabundance of pink, frilly things and be her ONLY and most favouritest Auntie Jenny.

And that's just the beginning.

I love you already baby doll Audrey xo

Friday, October 15, 2010

My baby brother is a Daddy...

And it's a GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh how excited am I to run out and buy pink, frilly, bow-laden dresses and skirts and hats and...PINK!

8lbs 14 oz and delivered completely naturally on October 14th 7:48pm in Terrace, BC. No drugs. Quite the contrast to MY birthing experience. You name the drug, it was in my system and then? c-section. But it's the end result that matters. can't say that I'm not super impressed and proud of my sis-in-law and her coach though.

WE HAVE NO NAME YET! This is driving all of us bonkers. Will it be a classic name, a crunchy name, a nouveau name, a stupid name? ha! Time will tell. Hurry up clock.

The bottom line is this: I have a niece. She will be beautiful. I will love her to pieces and my baby brother is now a Daddy and I am so proud of him and his wife. They will make THE best parents. And now to wait an agonizing 10 months to meet her. Thank God for Skype. 

Welcome to the world Baby Girl and to a family who loves you. All my love, Auntie Jenn xo

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gonna be an Aunty!

My brother and his wife are on their way into the hospital to welcome their 1st born. I am already an Aunty to my husband's sister's daughter but this is a bit different. My baby brother is having a baby. Well, his wife is but you get it. How excited am I? And we don't know the sex OR the name choices yet...triple the excitement. Praying for them and a safe delivery and a healthy baby. Love, Aunty Jenn

Monday, October 11, 2010

Little Man Mondays

In case you haven't noticed, I've scrapped Weigh-In Wednesdays. #1: Because I've sorta reached my goal, hovering between 69ish and 70ish with weekly exercise and #2: Because I'm tired of focusing so much on my pant size. But that said, I may resurrect it one day ;-).

So to replace it, I'm launching Little Man Mondays! Just a way for me to more actively journal my four year-old's growth, my parenting, etc so I can look back in years to come. Wish I woulda thought about this sooner but since I'm not-so-good at the keeping his Baby Book up-to-date, this will be my little place.

He wanted to go to the library this weekend, so off we trotted to Literary Land, where the basement is reserved as a NO QUIET zone complete with toys, costumes, book reading nooks, tears, breastfeeding, snot, screaming and well, you get the picture.

Some little boys are into cars. Others into dolls. Mine LOVES animals. The front of the librarian's desk is actually a whole bunch of drawers. The minute we arrive, he's yanking them open to discover where the plastic animals (of which he has zillions at home already) are hiding. It always turns into a lesson of sharing as he hoardes them and polices their use when unfortunate toddlers come bounding around in hopes of snagging one or two.

 "Mommy, what do anteaters do?" I can't count the number of Google searches I've done trying to figure out what X animal eats, where it lives and sometimes, what it looks like. We left armed with enough animal ammunition for a couple of weeks.

Lately I've noticed little man is "playing in Swedish". And to my surprise, when I joined in the other day, he didn't stop abruptly and scold me for speaking in his language. So we played along, me the Swedish camel, him the Swedish crocodile. He's the best teacher really. But that's really where it ends. And that's fine by me.

His English skills however, compared to native English speakers his age, are behind and understandably so. He has difficulty expressing himself fully in English and translating from his school environment to his home environment. When I ask him about his day, he finds it hard to respond. The words are all there but they're in Swedish. Though we had a little breakthrough the other day. As we were driving home, he said in a low voice, filled with pride, in Swenglish, "I bakad bröd today." Translation: I baked bread today. I think he was proud of both what he had done and that he was able to tell me. I was so excited for him on both counts.

They have a program in Sweden called "Home Speak" where he can meet once/week with other English-speaking children for a few hours of English play. I will be signing him up so am hoping this will help him.

I signed him up for a "sports academy" here in Uppsala. It sounded perfect: a club that introduces young children to a variety of sporting activities that meets once/week for an hour. He doesn't like it. Maybe it's because I signed him up for Mondays. After a relaxing weekend, Monday is the first day back to a full day at school and he's likely pretty tired to be rushed through supper and out the door for 6pm. Maybe it's because the kids spend more time standing around than actually doing anything. Maybe it's because the class is too big with only two "leaders". Maybe it's because the leaders spend most of their time shushing the kids. Maybe he's too young. It seems like  waste of 798 SEK but I will drag him there again tonight and if he wants to leave, I'll take him home without a fuss.

Well off to pick up the little man soon and tell him we're headed to sports class tonight. Poor kid :-(.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Public Service Announcement: NEVER GIVE THE FINGER!

Driving home from a lovely Fall afternoon feeding the ducks and hitting the library with the little man. Someone cut me off so I was forced to go up a street reserved for buses and taxis only. What i was doing was illegal. A man driving a white truck/van coming in the opposite direction started to gesture wildly at me, shaking his finger and likely screaming through is windshield.

In the interest of descriptive purposes, the man was of Arab decent. His little boy was sitting in the seat next to him. I thought: You fker. And I gave him the finger, made my left turn and proceeded to drive. Glancing back in my rearview mirror I noticed the man pull a fast U-turn and come speeding up behind me, inches from rear-ending me. Uh-Oh. He was right on my tail. He then proceeded to pull another illegal maneover, passed me and stopped his truck dead in my tracks. Now I had moved from irritation to fear. I went up over the sidewalk and into a parking lot. He hopped out of his truck and proceeded to come barrelling towards me on foot. I put the window down a crack just enough to yell out, "If you don't stop following me, I will call the police." I noticed him taking down my license plate and running back to his car.

I proceeded to drive and sure enough, he was on my tail again. Following closely and menacingly. No matter where I turned, he was right there waiting/daring me to stop. I was close to our friends' very big house wherein her very big and intimidating husband resides. As I pulled into the driveway and my pursuer pulled next to the curb, I called and told her to send her husband out immediately as I was being harassed. As he came out, I briefly explained what had happened and ran in with my son.

When he came back inside, he told me the man was upset because I gave him the finger in front of his child and had made a traffic violation. My friend said he told the man that didn't make it ok to harrass me.
So I guess it was ok for said man to scream like a raving lunatic at my mistake and then proceed to make countless traffic violations of his own and chase me down like a mad man in front of his son.

I am still shaking, wondering what a man who had just made numerous traffic violations himself, needs with my license plate. I can't imagine he would be calling the cops as he would get in just as much trouble. In my fear-striken and panicked state, I did not get his license plate number. I regret this.

One could assume that this man, after being disrespected by a woman, wanted to teach his son a lesson. Or perhaps he was having a really bad day and I was the icing on the cake.

I know one thing for sure, I will never again in my life give the finger to a stranger, no matter how justified I feel in doing so. You never know what kind of crazy people are capable of. And now, for a short while at least, I will leave in fear.

I'll be home for Christmas?

Not sure sure about that. I checked the flight prices...almost $3000 for us to fly from Sweden to Toronto and I have serious doubts the prices are going down...if anything they'll go up. Considering I paid about half that amount this time last year to book our flights. And in further comparison, I spent less than this amount for all of us to fly to Montenegro AND pay for an apartment for 3 weeks.

We were really hoping to make it home for the holidays but this seems out of our reach right now. When we originally moved overseas, we were guaranteed 2 trips home/year...paid. But since we moved to Sweden, we've had to finance these trips ourselves. Besides selling a vital organ, I really don't  know how we're going to swing it.

And it's a depressing reality. We're missing our families dearly and the thought of spending the holidays, here, alone, well....Yes, we have each other and we should be grateful for that. And we are. Especially this being Thanksgiving weekend in Canada.

On that note, Thank you. Thank you God for our continued good health, a roof over our heads, and all the usual. And thank you for showing me this weekend just how much we truly love our families and how much of a sacrifice we continue to make.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A tad busy

Can't believe it's been this long since I've posted. Nope, not on vacation in some exotic land. Working my tail off is what I'm doing. Miss you all though but still reading your posts. Let's hope all this hard work and sacrifice pays off and soon. Sure, the joy should be in the process but it's not. And yes, that should tell you something. Though we have made some decisions lately that have resulted in us taking some control back over our lives. So here's to that!
Off to pick up the little man from daycare. Nana's parcel arrived today and someone will sure be excited about it! Will be forced to listen to "Back in Black" and "Highway to Hell" on the way home on repeat...thanks to his father. No more Gaga or Robyn for me for awhile. Not that I mind the rockn roll, love it! But my vocal chords are aching from trying to sound like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson.
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Can one email change my world?

I don't know but I gave it a shot today.
I emailed one of the wealthiest, most influential people not only in our industry, but in the world.
I pitched our company and our product in the most no-holds barred, vulnerable and honest way I could think of.
It was pretty raw but it came from the heart, from passion and from desperation and frustration.

First of all, I emailed his company cuz I know no one who would have the guy's actual email address. Actually, I sorta do, but I couldn't bring myself to ask.
Secondly, I am dead sure this company receives thousands of "please fund our venture" emails
Thirdly, I am sure one out of every 10 was worded in just the kind of way mine was...making it about as unique as a mosquito. There's nothing unique about those f'ers.

Sometimes you just have to take risks, no matter the consequences.
Like, what if the guy or one of his cronies writes me back with, "WTF is this? Are you serious? Did you actually just tell me that you're rambling and are tired of churning out BS?" Yes, Yes, I did.
Or what if they report me to my superiors (which would be my husband I guess).
Or maybe they think it's hilarious and make it public.
Or maybe they really don't find it funny at all and somehow, someway it intercepts a business deal. "Oh, yeah, I know that company. They're a buncho whack jobs over there. Look at this email some girl sent me."
But in that moment, I really didn't give a damn. In that moment, I felt compelled to reach out, take a risk and throw caution to the wind as they say.

What's the worst that could happen? See above. What's the best case scenario? We get a meeting...and more. What's my dream scenario? HE happens to be in the office that day. Cup of Joe in hand, he's bored and decides to peruse-on-through the email inquiries. He's in a good mood. He happens upon my email. He doesn't care that it's 3:30am my time, cuz why should he? You take a call from this guy if you're having a kidney removed. He calls. I answer. He tells me who he is. I say something predictable like, "Yeah right." He proceeds to prove to me that he is who he says he is. It doesn't take much really. He tells me he's sending his jet to pick me up in the morning and to be at the airport. And the rest is legendary.

What's the likely scenario? I get a form letter back or no letter at all. I already got a "Thank you for your submission. We get gazillions a day. If we like what we see, we'll get back to you." auto-response.
That could be all I ever get. But hey, I tried. And you can't fault a girl for trying.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


So they're shooting a number of scenes for the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster version of The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson here in Uppsala. So exciting! In case you live in a hole, this book/movie is one of a trilogy and it's awesome. I discovered it a few years ago, before the Swedish version of the movies were made and now Hollywood. So that makes me cool, edgy and avant-garde. Unfortunately, at the time, they only had the first book translated so I had to wait rather impatiently over the course of two years for the remaining two to come out in English.

Kind of sad though because the poor author died after handing the trilogy to his publisher. He never lived to see the success it had become. Did I mention Daniel Craig is playing the lead, Mikael Blomqvist, and the leading lady was a role sought-after by a number of Hollywood starlets but secured by a relative new-comer? Good for her! Anyway, the buses all have signs on the back saying Drottninggatan (a street in the old town) will be closed between such and such a date for filming the movie. Cool. The other day I forgot and had to detour but seeing some 1930s cars parked along said street was reward enough for the extra 10 minutes it took me to get to little man's school. Waiting to run into Daniel Craig now. I have a feeling we're gonna be BFFs.

Went to a Swedish kid's birthday party the other day. Another low-key affair. Hot dogs, ice cream and cookies for five kiddies. Such a stark contrast to the excess in the Americas.

My desire to learn the language has waned. I definitely feel guilty for being here for almost two years and not having progressed much. I'm also consistently reminded of this character deficiency when groups of acquaintances no longer speak to me in English, figuring I MUST know the language by now. Geesh. And I should really. But I'm just not "into it". My mind and my heart are elsewhere. Kind of like I'm subconsciously checking off days on the calendar until I can leave.

You really need to check the labels on meat here when you're out grocery shopping. They leave dangerously-close-to-expiring meat on in the fridges. I dig to the bottom for the good stuff. And what's with Stina's Chicken anyway? Seasoned frozen chicken pieces in an oven-proof tray that make dinnertime a cinch and are pretty popular here. But to open it up and still find a few feather bits hanging off your meal? Not cool Stina, not cool.

If you believe election results and the media, apparently at least 300,000 Swedes are racist. Big election here a few weeks ago and "shockingly" enough, an openly racist (some may argue this point) political party called the Sweden Democrats got a little over 5% of the vote and now have a few seats in parliament (they needed a minimum of 4% I think). The government is unfortunately a minority government so the ruling party or the opposition actually need to cooperate with this other party if they want to get anything done over the next four years (which both have said they wouldn't). Anyway, there's been a huge uproar in Sweden over this, everyone "shocked" and "dismayed" that this could happen in Sweden. "Everyone" banding together to condemn this "horrific" result and many are very embarassed. Basically, this party wants to put an end to immigration or extremely tight sanctions on it claiming Sweden is no longer Swedish, immigrants are stealing jobs from Swedes, etc.

According to many, Sweden has had a very lax immigration policy. There are actually towns here where Middle Eastern immigrants outnumber Swedes by huge margins and people feel that integration within society is virtually non-existent as immigrants tend to reside in certain areas, areas that "Swedes" avoid. I will say that every time our company has posted a job opening, 95% of the applicants are of Middle Eastern decent. To me, that says they're having a tough time.

I've read a lot of blogs and English media coverage on this subject and have come to the following conclusion: 5% of your voting population actually voted for this party. It seems you have a problem with immigration and no other party is addressing it so those that have a problem with it are turning to this "openly racist" party as they have no other options. Maybe you could do something about it? To the benefit of Swedes and immigrants alike? I'm not smart enough to know what "it" is but smart enough to know that something needs to be done. In case you're interested, have a look at Hairy Swede's blog and read through the comments to see how heated this issue is:

Now I remember what I wanted to focus on in this blog post, but gotta get to work, so next time: IKEA!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Honestly Speaking....

Mild warning: The following content is filter-free and might contain some cringe-worthy passages and a whole lot of T.M.I.

Why do women have unwanted body hair? And by "unwanted" I mean, unwanted by ME. According to scholars, we've evolved from apes and well, I guess the body hair is supposed to protect us from the elements. And to credit evolution, we have a whole lot less of it now. But we also have clothes. Last I checked, my jeans did a great job of protecting my ass from frostbite. So what's with the hair there? Yes, I realize I just gave you a nasty visual of a hairy hairy ass. I am a white chick, a pale white chick. So therefore, by the grace of the Creator, my ass is not covered in hair. But still, there shouldn't be ANY there. Dear God: Do you own a laser? Of course you do, you own like everything. Cuz you doing the job would be a heckuva lot cheaper. And because it would be a miracle, the experience might involve a choir of singing angels. That would be nice.

In an attempt to expand my literary horizons, I'm reading this Erotica book. Some collection of "the best" erotic stories. I'm not sure a story about a girl who likes to masturbate against steel road signs is erotic to me. Nor is the one about the chick who lives in a cage waiting for a new master to collar her and take her home. How about the girl who can only get off to extreme pain and dies at the hands of some lunatic she paid to shoot her with steel arrows. Takes all kinds doesn't it?

I found out the other day that the reason my 4-year old will wait as many days as he possibly can to poop is because he believes a baby might come out of his bum. Never too early to start sex education.

A funny thing happened while I was dancing my heinie (sp?) off at a club in Montenegro: My boob fell out. Actually, it wasn't my boob. It was a piece of boob-shaped silicone I strategically place inside my dress to give the illusion of big boobs. I sat down with my dear friends for drinks that evening and K says to me, "Uhmmm Jenn, nice boobs. What's going on in there?" Guess it was pretty obvious. I divulged my dirty little secret and we chuckled. At one point, I was close to pulling one out for her to see as she had never seen one before. Turns out, I didn't need to. As I was hopping about in the club with Dear Friend #2, FLING! And to my utter horror, a chick next to me reached down to pick it up and hand it back to me. Pretty sure my hubby was more horrified than I was. We left shortly afterwards...boob in purse.

I had a mouth orgasm the other day. Definition: Something food-related hits your mouth and your mouth doesn't know what hit it. You cannot believe what you're tasting. It's.that.good. It came in the form of a new Greek co-worker (the food...THE FOOD!!!) who escaped for a few minutes to meet her Greek aunt and returned with a box filled with golf-ball sized packages wrapped in muted foil. My mouth was turned on immediately upon undressing it because the chocolate was WHITE. My fave. The Easter bunny always made sure to leave a big white chocolate bunny for my brother and I. I expected sickeningly sweet. I was oh-so pleasantly disappointed as my teeth melted in.

Tongue captured my most favouritest topping in the world....CARAMEL. fyi: I never go for the chocolate topping on my sundaes.I was so excited by this surprising taste sensation that I was almost angry. "What the heck is THIS? Oh my God this is so good. No, I mean, this is seriously really good. Have any of you tasted anything so good before? There's no way it could be THIS good. Oh.My.God" And yes, I was talking my way through this experience and with each sentence the pace picked up, my body tensed until finally, release. When I came to, three computer programmers, the new Web girl and hubby were gaping at me. And she said the only thing she could say to me in that moment, "Would you like some more?" No. I couldn't bring myself to cheapen the experience. I would never reach those heights again. Nothing beats the first time.

The End.
Ps. Arentcha glad you stopped by?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I have a confession to make: I'm not smart. I'm not stupid. But I'm not smart. I can't pull a quote out of the air to suit an occasion from "one of the greats". Heck, I have no idea who the greats even are. Put me on the spot. I dare ya. Ok, "What goes around, comes around." Have no idea who said it.

Please don't ask me for my stance on INSERT ANY GIVEN ISSUE. I may have one but you'll be able to slice up my rationale like one of those Japanese chefs at those restaurants who do all that fancy chopping while you sit there and watch, hungry as hell and waiting for the acrobatics to stop so you can freakn eat Gosh Darnit! Also, I do not sit and mull over a soul-delving question and research. and sleep on it. and talk about it and mull some more. My reactions are usually knee-jerk.

Protons and neutrons make up an atom, right? Is the nucleus the centre? What about a that made up of atoms? The capital of Bolivia is...? Wait...or is Bolivia the capital of another country? I think it's in South America. But look Yugoslav parents, I do NOT believe that eating ice cream in the winter will cause a sore throat. So there.

My depth is limited. There's only so far I can go people. I cannot take a beautiful moment in my day and equate it to some profound truth in life. Or at least, I cannot express it eloquently in prose. I'm terrible with numbers. We are sworn enemies, me and numbers (or numbers and I). We've never gotten along. I thought words and I were BFFs but I'm not so sure anymore. When I read some of the beautiful (see? what an overused word), awe-inspiring (cliche alert), message-ridden (that sounds diseased) posts of yours, I want to cry. For two reasons. 1) I'm proud of y'all and sincerely joyful to read your works of art 2) I feel so unworthy and out of my league. To be sharing the blogosphere with some of you? I mean, seriously. Feel free to kick me out of this club anytime now. Membership expired.

Maybe if I smartened up? Started going ape-shit on Wikipedia. Memorized a quote each day. Took a few night classes in astrophysics, Women's Studies, Something Century Literature, "The Greats", I could catch up. But who am I kidding? I'm 34 and really don't have the desire to be smartened up in the schoolroom sense. Meh.

And no, this is not a "Fill my sails with wind" attempt at "You are the wind beneath my wings" sympathy plea. It's just me realizing how great you all are. And it WAS also a "how shit I am in comparison" revelation but now, it's not. Because hubby sent me an article titled, "Are you the next Steve Jobbs?" And for the record, the guy is an arse. He's a lucky, genius-in-many-ways arse but an arse just the same. And here's an excerpt from said article:

Virtually every ambitious business leader sees themselves as the next Steve Jobs -- and virtually all of them are dead wrong, writes Dan Pallotta. It's fine to try to channel Jobs' creativity and managerial prowess, Pallotta argues, but there's nothing to be gained from weighing your own skills against someone who's clearly out of your league. "Such comparisons spiral you into depression. They demotivate you, demoralize you, and generally suck every last bit of enthusiasm and aliveness out of you," Pallotta writes.

So, I may not be "one of you" (aka: my greats) but you all inspire me so much that I have the courage to keep puking all over this little, not-at-all-enlightening space. And maybe someday I won't be so cold in your shadow and have sunlight on my face.

Did you get that up there? That was going to be the end. And it was my attempt at a clever sign-off to this post. Maybe you'll get it if I point up higher to the "wind beneath my wings" reference??? I guess it doesn't work so well when the "writer" has to explain it...

So, after describing to hubby how great you all are and making a matter-of-fact declaration that "I'm not as good or good enough to be a 'writer'," he basically told me off. But in the "stop comparing yourself to Steve Jobbs" way. And then he offered me some advice in a warm and fuzzy, supportive husband kind of way. So now, I say to me and to you, I'm a gunna stick around and see what a 34-year old, not as "learned", rough-round-the-edges, cliche-lovin', shallow (cuz I said I wasn't "deep"), ADD (that's attention deficit disorder) person-who-likes-to-write can do with and for herself.

Somewhere over the rainbow there's a t-shirt slogan/bumper sticker that hasn't yet been written. I vow to you, on this day, that like Forrest Gump accidentally found the happy face t-shirt design by wiping his dirty face on someone's shirt while running across the country all hairy, I will find and write that slogan and they will shout it from the rooftops. Or, I'll just keep on keepin' on.

The End.
ps. Thanks honey. Love you. Oh and...You Complete Me xoxo
pps. You all ARE really great.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life lately

Movies meant 3D glasses with an unhealthy does of candy and popcorn. Toy Story 3 was great and worth the carb crash I experienced later that night. My favourite part of the movie was the preview of The Last Airbender...some kid who can bend air I guess and saves mankind? At the end of the trailer, my little man belts out in his loudest voice, "Mommy, I want to be like that boy." The move theater proceeded to erupt in laughter.

Little man has been uhmmm "discovering" his new uhmmm "best friend", uhmmm, you know...the one in his pants. Any advice here? Dad has been saying, "It's not a toy." But uhmmm, it is isn't it? How do we curb this behavior or do we? Advice from folks with older boys? Michelle?

Decided not to head out to the girls' weekend. My reason is purely finance-related to be perfectly honest. If we plan to head home for the holidays AND throw hubby a 50th Birthday Bash, me spending money on outfits both before and during said excurision (not to mention accomodations and meals and drinks), well, I know myself and so this weekend is better left until AFTER Christmas.

Been thinking about starting my own little business. More on that later. A hint: It has to do with Engrish. Yup, EngRish.

Still doing my exercises but with a nasty monthly visit, I've had to postpone to every other night.

Gotta run and figure out what to do today...crappy weather since we returned.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Different strokes for Different folks

These aren't the friendships I'm referring to in my last post, Axing Friends. Here in Sweden, I've found that one of the reasons I haven't been able to cultivate good friendships is due to the lifestyle differences between me and my potential friend(s). And that's ok. I pride myself in surrounding myself with folks that are inherently different than myself. I take great joy in the learning, growth and excitement that comes from meeting and forming friendships with those that hold different beliefs, practice other religions, live completely different lives or even dress or eat differently than I do. Variety is the spice of life after all.

On the surface, many of the people I've met look just like me. We have the same age kids, both work outside the home, wear the same kind of clothes, drive the same cars (Volvo station wagons are all the rage in Sweden) and have many of the same "issues". But there's one fundamental difference that quickly puts the brakes on a budding friendship: The relationship she has with her spouse/partner/family vs. the one I have with mine.

"The girls and I are heading out to drink and dance tomorrow night. Wanna come with?"

1. My husband is a 50-year old Italian man. Perhaps that says something stereotypical to you. If not, let me spell it out. He's a tad bit of a jealous one. And again, I'm ok with that. I knew it when I married him and I married him just the same :-).
2. We have no family here to look after our little guy should WE wish to have a night on the town. Hubby does go out on occasion and I practically kick him out the door when he has an opportunity because he works too damn hard.

So here's the deal: I would much rather go out WITH my hubby than without. But when I am invited out, I carefully weigh the pros and cons. Cons are obviously dealing with a jealous hubby because even when he tells me to go and have a good time, he doesn't always really mean it. God love him.

Nobody here accepts or understands this. They look at me like I'm stuck in the 40s, sporting a poodle skirt and matching apron pulling a yummy roast out of the oven 5 minutes before hubby arrives home from his hard day at the office. It is sooo common for ladies my age to go out once a weekend, all dolled up and get plastered. The men too. They take turns. There's lots of bonding that goes on when you're holding your friend's hair back in a ponytail as she regurgitates a plate of tapas into a shitstained public toilet. And then there's the reminiscing over the course of the next week about how Linda slurred and dryhumped her way into a pack of sloshed college guys. Oh that Linda, she'll never learn. ok, so this is an extreme picture I'm painting.

No matter how much I try to convince hubby that we'll be sitting with our legs crossed in a quaint, female-only jazz bar quipping about laundry detergent brands and diaper rash, I just know I'll end up hopping in and out of taxis in increasing states of inebriation...or at least following those that are.

So I miss out on the bonding and the stories but frankly, I don't know that I need that kind of entertainment at the age of almost 34. A cup of coffee at the local indoor playpark is more my speed. And that's not to say that I never leave the house without the Italian in tow. In fact, I have gone back home to Canada without him for extended periods, twice. And I visit the gals for coffee and we take the kiddies places, etc. And not so long ago, I did take up a new friend on an offer for a ladies night out. We had a ball, laughing, chatting and drinking . And hubby picked me up just in the nick of time.

Back "home" in Monty, my dearest friend and I had plenty of chances to laugh, drink and bond...while our hubbies did their own kind, just feet away. You see, when I arrived, the first thing I did the next day was get my hair did. For 40 euro, I had it coloured, cut and styled. I get the same done here for 200. I digress. Well, when I showed up to my appointment, who was waiting for me outside to surprise me but said dear friend. She was by herself and I knew this was a big deal as her hubby is far more "protective" than mine. She sat with me while the hair stylist applied the foils and we gabbed incessantly while they were setting. Then she looked at her watch and I instinctively told her to run along and we'd catch up, the four of us, later that night.

We get each other her and I. We are cut from the same cloth in many ways. And that day, we talked a lot about our respective relationships and the special friendship we have because of the similarities in our hubbies.

All this is not to say that I don't respect the relationships Swedish women (yes, I'm generalizing) have with their hubbies. I just expect the same respect for mine. Because I don't live like they do, I understand that I won't be able to participate completely in the Swedish Friendship Building Process and that's ok.

And now I've been invited to a Spa Weekend in November with a new friend and her pack of friends. She sort of knows the deal between hubby and I but God Bless her for including me. I don't know that I can or want to leave little man and hubby behind for an entire weekend and I'm not quite sure how to explain this to her. Unlike a night of heavy drinking and debauchery, this weekend seems to be more about R&R so that sounds good. We all need a bit of pampering a massage or cold cucumbers can provide. So I'm trying to decide if the risk is worth the reward. I do like this friend very much. She's a real riot. And my last experience with her and her best friend was great. So we shall see.

But if I do decide not to go and she stops inviting me, I won't blame her or me. That's just the way it goes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Axing Friends

Being in Montenegro for three glorious weeks, we were surrounded by some true, blue friends. It felt good. It felt great. And it made me question my "friendships". A few in particular. I realized I don't have the time or patience to continue friendships with fairweather friends or friends where a jumble of strings are attached.

I refuse to pretend anymore or reach out to those that rarely reach back. I AM a good friend and I AM a good person. I will no longer be a doormat or let my spouse be one. The more you give, sometimes, the more people expect. And it sucks when all some people do is take...from your heart, your home and your life and yet, somehow, make you feel as though you owe them. But I accept responsibility here. We have let this happen.

And a lot of it has to do with both hubby and I's mutual need to be liked by everyone.

But I'm done. I know who my friends are and I know where they live. Some are across oceans but they're the best friends we'll ever have.

I will continue to live and work in this country where friendships are few and far between and that's ok by me. I no longer have a yearning to make friends nor will I complain about how hard it is to make friends. I have friends who fill me completely. My cup runneth over. For the most part, I have to hop on a plane to get a refill and that's a journey I'm willing to make until such time (when the time comes) that we're in the same country again.

Yes, I realize I've mixed "I" and "We" quite a bit here. Sometimes you're not only standing up for yourself but for someone else who doesn't have the energy to do it for themselves.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

If Home is Where the Heart is...

Mine is NOT in Sweden.

Welcome back to! I've missed you all stopping in and missed reading your posts on a regular basis. And I've missed writing. But not as much as I miss what I left behind yesterday...

And you can't imagine the reunion between our son and his nanny. The way his face lit up when her beaming face appeared at the door to our apartment a mere 5 minutes after we arrived. Even without seeing his face, I know you can sense his sheer glee.

To be surrounded by love for a full 3 weeks. It reawakened, recharged and sustained us. It was the food our souls have been craving. My son's dearest Baka and her granddaughter, our truest friends C and N, our adopted family the B's and my long lost Russian sister D...The warmth and hospitality shown to us can never be repaid.

 To be fulfilled in mind, body and spirit the way we have been for the past 3 weeks has been so uplifting and inspirational and motivational. Our dear friends, our 2nd family, not only opened their hearts to us but their kitchens. And there is NO kitchen on earth quite like the Montenegrin one, whether on a rooftop terrace, a secluded beach, a rustic mountaintop or a quaint apartment.

Surely there can't be more. Oh, but there is. Now add the backdrop. Where turquoise sea meets Tolkien-like mountains, ancient villages and rock-bottomed beaches lay together basking in 35 degrees and seemingly perpetual sunshine. That is Montenegro.

And all the lovely moments in between...

We don't know where the remainder of 2010 will take us but thanks to three weeks of bliss (I'm not counting the few days each of us battled the 24-hour stomach flu), we have the strength to continue and a newfound clarity and purpose.

Yes, I made it up to Mon's! We had a wonderful morning chit-chatting in her mountaintop retreat while the kiddies wrestled and the men walked around exploring IN the clouds. It was serene and heart-warming and just so easy watching her in her element, whipping up delicious food and emptying her mind. It was like a year and a half hadn't passed and we were just catching up. I felt genuine happiness in that home.

My one regret was not being able to visit Den and Steve up at Camp Full Monte :-(. With the illnesses plaguing us and them and the time eventually running short, our trip up to their labour of love for some good food, laughs and serenity was denied. But there is always a next time. And there WILL be.

Now for the moment some of you may have been waiting for. No, I did not forget the journey I was on leading up to this momentous trip. My weight loss journey. Well friends, I did it! I went from 73.5 to 70.5 and despite a little up and down throughout the trip (I couldn't deny myself see the food!), I reached my goal and was so damn proud of myself. This is me on Day #5 of our trip. My hubby promises there was no photoshopping...LOL! But I do believe the lighting and the pose worked in my favour. And two days ago, I fit into my skinny jeans! Wahoooo! I have been a bit naughty the past few days but nothing felt as good as I did those few weeks so that will be my motivation to continue. Drum roll please....

So that's it and that's all. I hope to provide another few posts on some details of our trip but this should satiate your appetite and mine.

Lots of love, Jenn xoxo