June 24th, 2015

Bon voyage

Olof’s delivering the kids, the dogs, and absolute mountains of the kids’ stuff down to his parents’ place, and we’re soon off to Uppsala. The kids are going to be camping out in our big tent for the next three nights, something they’ve been anticipating with glee for the past few weeks, and Olof and I will have three nights to ourselves at my place in Uppsala. I’m looking forward to showing off my apartment and my fancy office with my name on the door, but most of all to having some time with my husband when every other sentence we say isn’t interrupted by some small person or other.

We’ve actually got a pretty packed schedule down south, including meet-ups with friends and the thing I keep forgetting to mention–the real reason I scheduled this trip in the first place–the Paolo Nutini concert in Stockholm tomorrow night. I have loved him for years and years, so when I found out a couple of months ago that he was coming to Sweden, I knew there was no way I could miss it. I confess that I’m not nearly so fond of his most recent album as I am of the first two, but it should be a good time nonetheless. I’ve just put the new album on my phone (legally purchased, thank you very much), and I plan to spend the next couple of days letting it grow on me. I still really hope he’ll sing “These Streets,” though.

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June 18th, 2015

Memory Lane

Olof’s sister, Anna, wrote to me last night saying that she’d be over at her parents’ place today with a big box of clothes that their youngest daughter, who’s 11, has outgrown, and that I could take my girls over to “shop” a little before she took the leftovers to the charity box. We found more than I thought we might–my kids can be pretty picky about clothes–and some of the best pieces, for me, were a few things that were Lydia’s back in the day. I took even the ones that my kids said they didn’t want, purely for nostalgia’s sake.

Speaking of the Lydia, she’s home now and staying over at least a night or two, which I’m glad for. Even before she moved out, she spent so many days and nights away that it wasn’t really much of an adjustment to have her gone pretty much all the time, but I’ve still noticed that when she’s here everything feels much more as it should be. I know we’ve got plenty of years left with kids in the house, but I can already tell that it’s going to be a strange, strange thing when Olof and I are empty-nesters.

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June 11th, 2015

No rest for the weary

I got home from Liverpool early on Monday afternoon and jumped back into the fray of family life with scarcely a moment to exhale. That evening Petra’s class had an end-of-year grill party out at the local beach, where we spent a couple of hours fending off mosquitoes and biting gnats while the kids ran around and roasted hot dogs. Tuesday morning was the last day of school for everyone, so I dealt with all that morning craziness–for which I am seriously out of practice–before coming back home to try to catch up a bit on email and the like for the few hours I had to myself. Later on, I multi-tasked getting dinner ready and fighting with Petra about whether or not she was going to soccer practice. I was victorious on both fronts and after dinner I took Petra to the soccer field then stopped for ice cream with her on the way home.

Yesterday was the “official” end of school, with the singing and ceremony in the church. I know I’m a terrible grinch for saying so, but skolavslutning is not a particular favorite of mine, probably mostly because I didn’t grow up in Sweden and don’t have any connection to the tradition or the music. In any case, it didn’t last too long, and when all that was done I went over to the school to rummage through the lost and found for any clothes and whatnot that the kids might have left there over the course of the year. The mountains of forgotten items were formidable and I was left wondering how so many parents had missed new, good quality rain- and snow-wear. Some of the stuff was so nice that I was tempted to do a little “shopping”, but in the end I left with just the one (?) rainboot of Brynja’s that is our rightful property (for all the good it will do us; who knows where the other one has ended up).

All of that finally concluded, I made a quick trip to town for lunch with my friend, Debbie, who’s heading off to the States next week and will be gone for most of the summer. It’s kind of weird to think back on the earlier years of our friendship, when we were both at-home moms with a bunch of little kids. We used to have a lot more time for baking and coffee-drinking back then, but now that we’re both productive members of society–and still with a bunch of kids–we don’t get to see each other so much. We keep saying that we’re going to rectify that, but our schedules just don’t want to cooperate. I guess one of these days we’ll both retire, then we can catch up at last.

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June 3rd, 2015

A little bit of a rant

I’m getting the last of my stuff packed to go to Liverpool for a few days and absolutely the most irksome part of it is that I have to pack every. single. thing. I’m going to need while I’m gone. I’ve got so used to having my apartment in Uppsala that I completely forgot the annoyance of have to take along all my toiletries, my phone charger, and all of the little necessities that I keep on hand at both of my homes. I had also forgotten just how much room those “little” things can take up in a suitcase. Plus, even though my bag is carry-on size, I’m going to have to check it because I need more than tiny bottles of conditioner and gel, and there’s no way I’m going to fill up five or ten security-approved bottles.

Anyway, I’ve got all that stuff gathered up, plus a couple of books and assorted papers and I suppose the bright side is that getting myself organized to travel has completely taken my mind off of being nervous about my upcoming presentation on Friday.

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May 24th, 2015

New week

After an all-too-brief weekend home, I arrived back at my Uppsala apartment a couple of hours ago. I left home before dinnertime and neglected to eat anything en route, so after I unpacked my suitcase I made some very basic macaroni and cheese with some of that Laughing Cow soft cheese. It actually wasn’t so bad; it reminded me a bit of the way I used to make macaroni and cheese with Velveeta back in the States, but milder. With the liberal addition of salt and pepper, it was a totally acceptable dinner.

The rest of the evening I’ve spent with half an eye on the Braves game while trying to catch up a little on some reading for this coming week. This will be my last week at work for a while, as next week I’m going to Liverpool for a few days and after that, I’m planning to be out of the office until September. I’ll still be working for part of that time, of course, but as I don’t have any courses going on in the summer, I can work from home. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that; I very much need a break from the traveling.

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May 18th, 2015

Bon voyage

I’m getting ready to head down to Uppsala again, for what should be only a three-day trip. However, the looming threat of a pilots’ strike to start on Thursday, when I’m supposed to come home, has me wondering a little if I’ll make it home as scheduled. I actually feel fairly confident that the negotiations will work out before then and it will be business as usual come Thursday, but I’m feeling a little extra glad now that I have an apartment in Uppsala and that having to stay over wouldn’t be too big a deal. The worst of it would be that I’d have to stay an extra week, as I’m already scheduled to go back on Sunday night and won’t be back until next Friday, the 29th. I’m not too thrilled about the prospect of being away from home for nearly two weeks, though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t come to that.

It’s been a nice week-plus home, with not nearly as much work being done as I’d planned, but also not as little as I’d feared. The weather has been mostly nice, so the kids have been out getting plenty of fresh air and exercise, and it’s finally, finally, starting to look like spring in our front yard.

I had to make a quick run to town this afternoon to pick up dog food (we buy our dogs’ food from the vet’s office, so we have to work around their opening hours), and while I was there I also got a table-top grill/griddle that Olof’s been wanting. He’s busy now making hamburgers for his and the kids’ dinner, and after that’s all squared away, he’ll run me out to the airport to catch my flight. After all my years as a housewife and full-time mom, it still feels a little weird that the tables have turned and he’s the one keeping the home fires burning while I jet away to work. Not bad, but weird.

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May 15th, 2015

My husband thinks I need to get a grip

I saw a set of wooden animals in a shop window in Uppsala a couple of months ago and I was immediately taken with them. I fully intended to buy them at the next available opportunity, but that opportunity never presented itself and I never saw them again. After thinking about them more than I should probably admit to, I finally searched them out online last week and had them delivered to my door.

They’re exquisite little figures, and I love the lot of them, but it’s the rhinoceros that has really taken hold of me.

There’s something about the look on his face and the way he’s just sitting there that practically overwhelms me. Seriously, it’s almost more than I can take. In fact, this rhinoceros makes me feel a little bit like Kristen Bell in this best YouTube clip of all time:

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May 13th, 2015


It had been close to two weeks since I’d seen Lydia, so I jumped at the chance when she suggested yesterday that we have lunch in town today. Tage joined us as well, but between Lydia and me I don’t think the poor guy got more than two words in the whole time. After we ate, we made a quick trip to the mall for some odds and ends, and also met up with Olof, who had a short work day due to tomorrow’s being a holiday. On our way back home, we dropped Lydia off at her place, then got back here just as the three littler girls were wrapping up their school days.

Over the course of the past few years, Lydia has been spending less and less time at home, but it’s still a strange adjustment having her not really show up here at all. She does still drop in from time to time, but it’s nearly always when I’m away in Uppsala, so I feel more disconnected from her than usual. Thank goodness for text messaging and Facebook; otherwise I’d have hardly any contact with her. She’s doing well, though, and it was fun to be able to catch up face to face. Once summer comes along in a few weeks, we should be able to see more of each other, and I’m looking forward to that.

Speaking of seeing more of each other, I’m very much enjoying being at home with my family (and my dogs and cats!) for an extended period. The last time I was home for this long at a stretch was at the end of March. Even better than just being home, this is a long weekend, with everybody home through Monday (which, coincidentally, is when I leave again for Uppsala). Olof does have to work on Monday, but he always works from home on Mondays, so we can all just sort of take it easy until next week.

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May 6th, 2015


I took this picture last week, at our Valborg bonfire. Spring is coming to northern Sweden, slowly but surely.


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May 4th, 2015

Up, up, and away

This last little while I have felt like a true weekly commuter. I haven’t yet been gone an entire week at one stretch, but it’s been close a couple of times, and in April I was away from home fourteen nights (to be fair, one of those nights was in Umeå for Petra’s soccer tournament, but still). This month I’ll be away for twelve nights, but I am managing to work in a ten-day period starting this Friday when I won’t have to travel at all. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that.

Honestly, between all the travel and the holidays–spring in Sweden is very holiday-heavy–I can hardly keep track of what day it is. Apart from a couple of classes, my schedule isn’t fixed at all and I find myself having a tough time staying on top of where I’m supposed to be, and when. This evening after dinner I’ll go down to Uppsala, then tomorrow I’m off for an all-day workshop at Lövstabruk, about an hour outside Uppsala. Thursday and Friday I’ll be at an 18th-century conference in Uppsala, as well as a Ph.D. seminar, Latin class, and history classics class–all with their attendant reading–to squeeze in there between workshopping and conferencing. After all that, I’ll arrive back at my own house late Friday evening. Then I’ll be home for ten days! Did I mention that?

It’s a good thing I love this, or else I’d really hate it.

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