August 23rd, 2015
I know that when I last wrote I said that summer was on the wane, but it’s looking like Mother Nature forgot to pencil that in on her calendar. After a largely unremarkable June and July, during which we had a goodly portion of rain and temperature mostly topping out at the high teens Celsius (mid-sixties F), I figured that was as good as we were likely to get (though, truth be told, that was good enough for me; I’m no fan of the heat and we did get a good bit of sunshine). The last couple of days before my mom went were sunny and warm-ish, but there was a definite nip in the air telling us that fall was soon on its way.
A little over a week ago, however, all of that changed and we’ve had a long stretch of cloudless blue skies and HOT temperatures. For each of the past nine or ten days the mercury has risen to at least 25° C (77° F), with some days getting even hotter. Now that may not seem like much to many of you, but believe me when I say that it’s very warm up here in northern Sweden, even at high summer, and for late August it’s nearly unheard of. Not only that, but there has been no hint of an autumn chill in the air and we’ve seen nary a drop of rain for going on two weeks.
Yesterday Petra had a soccer game in a town about a half-hour north of here, and those poor girls were positively roasting. They had a large bucket of cold water on the sidelines and they took turns dipping sponges in it and mopping themselves down when they weren’t out on the field. Their usual energy was very obviously sapped by the heat and by the looks on their faces, none of them was enjoying herself too much. After Petra and I came home, we loaded everybody in the car and drove out to the beach, where the kids spent a good two hours just lounging around in the water.
Today I offered to let Yrsa take her bath in the tub out on the porch, but she immediately declined what is usually a great treat with the explanation that the sun was just too hot. Poor Olof, who’s in the middle of dismantling said porch so that we can have the drainage re-done on the house later this fall, can manage only short periods of time working out in the direct sun before he’s totally exhausted.
It’s really too bad that none of this happened during the actual summer, when everybody was on vacation, but you take what you can get. At least, when it does come along, we won’t spend the autumn bemoaning our lack of real summer.
August 16th, 2015
I suppose I’ve been neglecting this space long enough, and now that the summer is winding down it’s time to get back into (semi-)regular posting. After spending five weeks with us, my mom left on Friday evening to go back home to Texas. The kids start school this coming Thursday, and in a couple of weeks I’ll go back to Uppsala for the first time in nearly two months. Even though I’m not especially looking forward to the chaos of getting us all back into the swing of things, I’m eager to get back to a more organized work schedule and start making some progress on my research.
While my mom was here we didn’t do as much as we often do, partly because the weather hasn’t exactly been fantastic, but mostly because we had other chores keeping us busy. I know I’ve been remiss in not mentioning it earlier, but at the beginning of the summer, my mom and her husband bought a vacation house just a couple of blocks from our place! It’s a nice little house, built in 1930 and mostly not updated since then, which of course means that it needs a fair bit of work. The Swedish summer shut-down was a source of some frustration to my mom when we were trying to get workmen out to look at various things and give us estimates, but we did manage to get an electrician, a roofer/carpenter, and a chimney guy in during the last few days she was here. We’re hoping to be able to get all the big stuff done before her visit next summer, and seeing as we have nearly a year I don’t imagine it will be too much trouble. Nothing much happens in Sweden in July, but most people are plenty productive the rest of the year.
July 27th, 2015
It appears I’m taking something of a vacation from my blog. In case you’re wondering, this is the sort of thing we’ve been up to, weather permitting.
July 19th, 2015
Petra made her entry into the world, eleven days past her estimated due date and weighing in at a hefty 9 pounds, 1 ounce (4135 grams). We celebrated her day with presents in the morning, a family bowling excursion in the afternoon, and two Splatoon cakes served with homemade peanut butter ice cream in the evening. She told me just before she went to bed that she thinks it may be the best birthday she ever had.
July 10th, 2015
So Tage will be thirteen next month (I know, I can’t even with the passage of time) and that means, according to family tradition and Swedish law, that he’ll be able to open his own bank account. To do so, he needs to have an ID card, so Olof and I took him to the police station this afternoon to apply for one. He’s very much looking forward to being able to handle his own banking, as well as to the rather significant increase in allowance he’ll be getting. Up until they’re teenagers, our kids get a small weekly allowance that gets slightly larger at each birthday, but once they get their own accounts, we switch to giving them a larger monthly allowance and making it their responsibility to buy more of their own “necessities”.
In Lydia’s case, most of those necessities were related to clothing and cosmetics, but I’m guessing that Tage’s money will go mostly toward electronics and assorted game paraphernalia. He’s not at all into clothes, and we do continue to provide the basics as far as wardrobe and toiletries are concerned, so I can’t really think of anything that we buy for him now that we won’t keep on buying. He’s always been a pretty good saver, so maybe he’ll stash away some cash and be able to buy himself something extra good before too long. I know that he’s got his eye on a new Android phone, among other things.
July 6th, 2015
In one week I’ll be down in Uppsala again, this time with my mom. She arrives next Sunday for her yearly month in Sweden, and we’ll be meeting at the Stockholm airport like we did last year and taking a leisurely five-day road trip to get us home. Since I have my place in Uppsala this year, we’ll stay there the first couple of nights and save on hotel costs, then pick up a rental car and head for parts north.
We had a lot of fun doing this last year and I’m pretty excited that we’ll be doing it again. It gives us a chance to have a good chunk of time just for us before the horde of eager children descends upon her and monopolizes all of her time, and it’s also nice for her to see more of the country where she’s spent rather a lot of time the past several years. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is missing five nights of our glorious northern daylight. I just can’t get enough of it, and I’m sad that there are only a few weeks left before it starts getting dark again. I took this picture just a few minutes ago, not long before one in the morning. I will never stop marveling at this.
June 24th, 2015
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.
June 18th, 2015
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.
June 11th, 2015
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.
June 3rd, 2015
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.