July 30th, 2014
Readers outside of Sweden may not be aware, but last week we were subject to a heatwave of the likes that nobody within the country could have failed to notice. The national weather service issued its first ever warning for extreme temperatures, and here up north we were under a class 2 warning, meaning that the daytime temperature was expected to meet or exceed 30°C/86°F for at least five days in a row. That may not seem too high a temp to many of you, and indeed it would not have seemed especially high to me not so many years ago, but it gives some perspective to note that the highest recorded temperature in Sweden is 38°C/100°F, reached some fifty years ago. Not only that, but we go through plenty of summers without having one day that reaches 30°, let alone five of them in a row.
Those days of extreme temperatures appear to be past now, but the memory of the exhausting, sweat-soaked days and nights will linger for a while longer. The weather is much more reasonable now, and it’s a good thing because we’re loading up with car with all the kids, save Lydia, to head up to Byske for three days of beach camping. We’ve rented a little cabin for my mom and me, but Olof and the four kids will be “roughing it” in a big six-person tent. That tent has been the focus of much longing and planning for weeks and weeks now, and the kids are beside themselves that it’s actually going to happen tomorrow. Poor Olof isn’t on vacation anymore, so not only will he be sleeping in a tent, he’ll be getting up early and commuting back to Skellefteå on Thursday and Friday to put in a full day’s work. Me, I’ll be trying to get as much sleep as possible during those precious hours that I’m (sort of) kid-free.
July 24th, 2014
So my mom and I arrived here in Bureå a week ago, after a few days of driving and sight-seeing through this beautiful country. Unfortunately, I didn’t take very many pictures on those days, but I may poke through my mom’s flickr one of these times and choose some to share here. We saw a lot of really great things every single day, and I really ought to have recorded them better.
The first two days we were in Uppsala, where we visited, among other things, Uppsala Castle with its sixteenth-century dungeons and the treasury at Uppsala Cathedral, which houses a number of astonishing and astonishingly well preserved artifacts that are centuries and centuries old. On our our way out of town, we stopped by Gamla Uppsala, where we got a terrific tour through the church and walked along the burial mounds of ancient kings. Despite all the time I’ve spent in Uppsala the past couple of years, I hadn’t visited any of those places before, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to do it in the company of someone who appreciated them every bit as much as I did.
After leaving Uppsala, we mostly meandered along in a homewardly direction, stopping at a couple of flea markets and visiting this and that café when the mood struck us. We did make time for a leisurely trip through IKEA in Sundsvall, but otherwise kept the shopping to a minimum. Our last night on the road we spent in Örnsköldsvik, where we had this gorgeous view of the harbor outside our hotel-room window:
Since we’ve been home, the kids have been basking in my mom’s presence, talking her ear off and showing off all their various treasures. And, of course, they’ve gotten plenty of new goodies to add to their troves. The best treasure of all, though, is surely a whole month of Onock.
July 23rd, 2014
(Yes, I’m aware that I’m painfully overdue to write some actual words here, but I’m hoping you all will be distracted from that by my adorable baby.)
July 19th, 2014
It’s Petra’s birthday today, and we spent the whole day celebrating. Her cake was a “chocolate pizza” that obviously met with her approval:
July 14th, 2014
I had meant to write a post a few days ago, but I forgot my password and after countless fruitless attempts to sort that out, I had to resort to putting my techie husband on the case. He spent a good chunk of time doing server- and webhost-type stuff today, and managed to restore my access this afternoon. I have a couple of pictures of a nice sunset we had the other evening at home that I’d been going to put here, but now I’ve moved on to other things and will leave that for another day.
Yesterday afternoon I flew down to Arlanda airport outside Stockholm, where I met up with my mom. We picked up our rental car then drove to Uppsala, where we’re staying now. We spent the whole day today sightseeing, and checked out some cool things I hadn’t managed to see before in addition to visiting the university areas where I spend most of my time when I’m down here. We also met up in the afternoon with a school friend of mine and had a quick fika before retiring back to the hotel for a bit and resting our feet some.
We’re staying another night here, and heading north in the late morning or early afternoon. The weather is supposed to be a bit iffy tomorrow, and I’m hoping the worst of it will pass late tonight or early in the morning. Either way, though, it won’t be more than a bit of rain, and we can surely manage that. We’ll be staying one night in Hudiksvall, but other than the hotel reservation, we have no firm plans other than just seeing what there is to see. I haven’t done more than drive through there myself, so it will be nice to explore some at our leisure.
July 5th, 2014
We’ve reached the halfway point in Olof’s four-week vacation and so far we’ve done pretty much a whole lot of nothing. That’s not a complaint, however, as I always think the best vacations are those that let you relax and unwind. The couple of times that we’ve filled up our vacation days with plans and activities have always left me feeling harried and worn out, rather than recharged. For my part, I’ve been watching a lot of baseball these last few weeks, and for the past thirty-odd years of my life, I haven’t found a better way to pass a summer. After a pretty dismal couple of weeks the Braves are playing good ball again, and that certainly adds to the enjoyment.
The next couple of weeks look to be more action-packed, but mostly in a good way. I failed miserably in my ambitions to get the house in shape at the beginning of June, so I really need to whip this family into shape and get that sorted as much as possible in the the coming week. Additionally, Lydia is in the thick of switching bedrooms, and she’s painting and wallpapering and chomping on the bit to put new flooring in. I’m trying to stay out of it as much as possible, but I know the wallpaper part will be on me, and I’ll have to try to wrangle a reluctant Olof into duty when we get to the flooring.
On Thursday, Olof and I are sending the kids to a camp-out at his parents’ place while we take an overnight trip up to Luleå, where we’ll finally have the chance to see my favorite Swedish band, Bo Kaspers Orkester, play live. We’ll get home on Friday evening, then I’ll have a day to get everything organized before heading down Stockholm way on the 13th to meet up with my mom and embark on our road-trip adventure.
I’m ridiculously excited to get back to Uppsala and show my mom around the place that’s come to mean so much to me in the past couple of years. The rest of the trip should be a lot of fun, too, especially because we haven’t really planned any of the details apart from where we’ll sleep. We’ll just take everything as it comes, stopping when we want and exploring the byways as suits our fancy.
We’ll get back to Bureå on Thursday evening, then it will be right into Petra’s birthday goings-on over the weekend. Her actual birthday is on that Saturday, and we’ll celebrate with just us here at home, saving her party with her friends for the next day. I won’t have time to deal with any of that after my mom and I get here, so I’ll have to try to get most everything for that arranged before I go. Petra has given me a long list of games and activities she wants to include, so I might have to work with her on whittling that down some. Also, summer birthday parties are always a bit of an uncertainty here, as quite a lot of people travel then and we never seem to know for sure which of the kids’ friends will be in town on any given date.
After all of that, Olof is back to work on the 21st, and he’ll probably be a little relieved to get back to it and escape some of the madness of our full house. In his shoes, I know I would be.
July 1st, 2014
Last week Petra went to a daycamp run by the church, where she got to sing and play and splash in the water and go to a zoo, among other things. There was some indoctrination too, of course, but of the very gentle, Swedish-church variety, and she had a very good time. On Sunday, the whole thing was wrapped up with a family service in the church, after which we were treated to ice cream and a slide show of the week’s highlights.
When I walked through the park on the way to the church, I spotted this familiar figure on a rock near the river:
I told her that she should go on home, but being a cat, she had her own ideas. She followed me the rest of the way to the church, deciding only at the doors that it wasn’t really her cup of tea.
Oh, and I did get a picture of Petra as well, as she was the real star of the show. It was also her name day, so it’s only fitting that she get a special mention.
June 25th, 2014
For once I have a legitimate excuse for my radio silence — our internet went down on Sunday evening and we were offline until late this afternoon. I don’t mind telling you that those days left me feeling more than a little cut off from the world.
In any case, after our late-night visit to the ER, Yrsa was able to get a better night’s sleep, which helped us all tremendously. The next morning her cough was significantly better, and she’s right as rain now.
Sunday evening, Olof and I went for another late-night drive, but this one was purely for recreation. After the littler kids were asleep, we left Lydia and Tage in charge and drove the five miles or so up to Bureberget, our local “mountain”, to take in the combination sunrise-sunset we get this time of year. It was just a couple of minutes past midnight when I took these pictures, the first looking over our little town, Bureå, and the remaining two looking in the other direction, out over the Baltic. Pictures, of course, can’t do justice to the beauty of it all, but they’re pretty all the same. Give ‘em a click for a larger view.
June 18th, 2014
Yrsa’s been nursing a summer cold for the past week or two, and a couple of nights ago she started coughing quite a bit throughout the night. Other than disturbing her sleep–and ours–however, the cough didn’t seem to be bothering her. Last night, though, around ten o’clock, she started with that barky cough that usually means croup, but can also be a sign of something worse. After she’d been at it for about a half-hour, Olof called the healthcare helpline and they told him that we should probably take her to the emergency room, just to be on the safe side.
Because Olof had to go to work this morning, I packed our girl up in the car and drove her cough-racked self to the hospital, where the diagnosis was indeed croup. After she saw a doctor, a nurse administered a breathing treatment and gave her a dose of cough medicine, as well as a bouncy ball for her trouble, and sent us on our way. The cough did get some better after all that, but it was still a pretty rough night. Except for a couple of hours, Yrsa was in our bed the whole night, restless and coughing and thrashing around. It was bad enough for me (and no doubt Yrsa), but the one I really felt for is Olof, who had to drag himself out of bed after a mere five or six hours of less than restful sleep and go to work. I suggested that he take a “sick kid” day, but since his vacation starts on Friday, he figured he could tough it out. He did get a new video game in the mail today, though, and that should cheer him up when he gets home.
Yrsa is sounding better today, thank goodness. She’s still got a cough, but it’s more of a normal-sounding dry cough than that wracking, wheezing kind that hurts just to hear. Whether or not she’s actually feeling better I can’t say, because she never seemed to be feeling too bad in the first place, as you can see:
June 14th, 2014
Petra had to be at the field this morning at 8:45 for a soccer tournament, which meant we were up at 7:30 on a Saturday. The first game started at 9:30 and the last one ended around 2:00, so it was a pretty full day. I have surprised myself by turning out to be the most avid fan in our family, by far. I don’t guess I’ll ever be a full-on enthusiast, but I do have a good time watching these girls play. I’m especially enjoying watching Petra, who seems to be improving with every game. She’s always been a hesitant player, but she’s getting more confident and more focused all the time. She still complains like crazy before every practice and every game, but she does enjoy playing when she’s there, so we’re making her stick with it for the foreseeable future.
The only downside of today, really, is that it was one of those tricky chilly days with a sun that’s hotter than you realize, and Olof and I came home pretty sunburned. Petra and Brynja both refused sunscreen on their faces, so they’re a little pinker than they ought to be as well, but it’s nothing serious. Every time one of my kids gets even the tiniest burn, though, I can’t help feeling like a bad mother. At least Yrsa escaped unscathed — mostly because she’s still small enough for us to hold down and forcibly slather with sunblock.