Thursday, 26 June 2008


Feels like I am surrounded by fear -
  • fear of being sued if I have an accident that is my fault
  • fear of West Nile Virus and other mosquito carrying disease
  • fear of e coli in the water - 7+ died at Walkerton in May 2000
  • fear of salmonella in the tomatoes - 10 people died in the States last year
  • fear of theft, burglary, and personal injury - lock all doors and windows at all times
  • fear of kidnappers and pedofiles - take extreme care of children
  • fear of teachers touching young children at the risk of being sued
  • fear of lightening and storms
Let me add to this list as the days go on.
It seems to be in the air, a part of life. Or is it just me??

Please correct me if I am wrong.

A new hair-do

Judy (MIL) and I went to the hairdressers yesterday and I had my hair professionally colored for the first time in my life - got to get rid of the greys!! Had it straightened too - just so the kids wouldn't recognise me. It was a nice luxury.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Grandma's Garden

is a haven for blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, goldfinches, cardinals, chipmunks, squirrels
and kids!

Banning the bottle

Last autumn saw a major move against bottled water in Sweden due to the environmental impact. I know I now think more than twice before buying bottled water.

It seems that Ontario is next in line and the banning of plastic bottles is on everyones lips. I haven't been able to find out who has banned what but there is plenty of discussion about it and it seems that school kids are no longer allowed to have plastic bottles in school. I was impressed to find an organisation and website dedicated to the issue and equally impressed to hear about the local ban, threatening the sales of bottled water.


Sunday was a day of visitors, Ty's sister, nephew, and three of his aunts.

Monday was a day at home.

Tuesday was shopping.
The Levis factory outlet, the Rockport factory outlet, the optometrist for contact lenses, Chapters for books, to the Future Shop for an adapter, to Bell for a SMS card (they don't have them).

The kids were a nightmare and were threatened several times, tears were all part of the circus - who on earth takes kids shopping?

Monday, 23 June 2008

Sentimental VRS Minimalistic

I am sentimental, and have always had a hard time letting go. It comes from losing my father at an early age and clinging to anything that had anything to do with him. It also comes from my optimistic nature and all the possibilities that lie ahead.

Ty is minimalistic. He is forever cursing me for saving stuff, for having too much stuff, for taking up so much room in our little apartment.

Yet I cant' help but wonder if we just a product of, or a reaction to our parents?

My mum is minimalistic, getting rid of anything that is no longer needed, useful or of the highest sentimental value. She is very practical by nature.

Ty's parents are very sentimental, saving anything and everything. And now, as we go through his father's things, we can only wonder why some of this stuff was not thrown out years ago. It will be worse when the time comes to clean out his mother's place.

What will our kids be? Sentimental or minimalistic, or one of each?
Perhaps, hopefully, they will be balanced......

Organic products and enviromental awareness

Popped in to the supermarket yesterday to pick up a few things and came to the conclusion that there just is not the range of organic products here that there is at home.

On the other hand there are some great products and brands, particularly when it comes to personal hygiene, like Kiss My Face, Tom's of Maine and Burt's Bees. Not to mention the Boiron range of homeopathic products.
There is also a great range of non-gluten products as well as rice, kamut and spelt products.
It is however frustrating that these "alternative" products have their own department in the supermarket, rather than side-by-side with the mainstream products, making them more easily comparable.

But as for organic coffee? I didn't find any, and there was no mention anywhere of Fair Trade.......

There is no doubt that the range of products here runs circles around what we have in Sweden, but then again I'm not so sure we need "low acid apple juice" or "vitamin enriched bread", or the extensive range of pre-fabricated products that are available.

I did hear some good news yesterday though, that the Provincial government are finally banning the use of pesticides. Every year I am stunned to see the "do not go on the grass, pesticide in use" signs on the front lawns around the neighourhood. It is not a popular decision, but not before time! Environmental awareness is slowly creeping in to the legislation and affecting the masses.

My kids love flying

The turtle suitcases are very popular and get lots of attention.

Movies are great!

But tiredness got the better of him in the end....

And then he slept most of the flight, leaving me with little room on which to sit.
Unfortunately his sister did not follow his example - she hardly slept the entire flight (a mere 30 mins)!

Robin picked us up and we left home at 7.30am, arriving at Grandma's at 10pm that night, or 4am Swedish time - so it was a 21 hour journey.

We all slept through the night and woke at 6 am. Makaila fell in to bed at 6 tonight, Kieran at least had a snooze during the day.

We'll see what tonight brings.

Friday, 20 June 2008


Today is Midsummer Eve - a very low key one for us but I hope that all those here in Sweden had a great, warm, fun, festive Midsommar!!

We went out to Riddersvik and saw traditional dancing around the Midsommar pole. There were lots of people in traditional dress, the weather was lovely and it was a great break from the packing and organising. And it gave Judy and the kids a good dose of Swedish culture!

raising the Midsommar pole
We didn't quite get a traditional Midsommar meal but ate cured salmon, boiled potatoes and salad - so it was close.

My Aunt

is visiting and it is lovely to have her here!!

It has only been about 10 years since I last saw her.....

MidsommarEnjoying her Midsommar snaps while watching us packEarly morning hugs with the kids before we left.

Judy is staying on for the World Dog Show to be hosted in Stockholm 3-6 July. She will also be showing her one of her babies "Rage" at the show, who she exported to Sweden a few years ago.

It has been wonderful to spend some time with her - can't help wondering if there was a mix-up at my birth and that it is really her who is my mother (just kidding mum!!).

Now we have to make sure that another 10 years does not go by before we see each other again.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

One less thing to think about

Got a letter from the insurance company today and they are paying out for the car, no premium or excess. Not a word about my licence but then they did have it on record that I had a non-Swedish drivers licence. And I had heard stories about 5000kr fines and no insurance payout - so I am relieved.

Now I just have to fight with them about how much they are going to give me for my old beast, which they will undoubtedly want to write off.

And then do something about our licences.

Forever Young

Dena's site is up and it looks great. Very professional and very vibrant.
Well done Dena!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Big Brother is more than just a reality show

On Wednesday the Swedish government will decide if the FRA is to be given the right to monitor and archive all emails, telephone calls and internet activity that crosses the national borders. The pressure is on politicians to be loyal to the party, and not to the voters.

Read the report in The Local, and take a look at their opinion.

In Sweden we are used to information being public and widely available (everything from our address, phone numberS, birthday and salary is available online), but this is taking things too far.
Protest at Stop the FRA law now!

Monday, 16 June 2008

My beautiful children

I have my camera back. Yey! Here are some shot's from Robert's graduation day.

it is not uncommon to find them curled up together in the morning

It started with a dream....

a dream that is, not a vision :D

I dreamt last night that Mel was offered a chance to take over a huge ladies fashion shop that was a bit out of town. She decided to take it on and strangely enough it was 10 years down the track so we were all 40 something and the clothes in this huge shop were classical and aimed at professional women.

I got involved and we decided to revolutionize the place - not the actual contents because they were all well-established brands but perhaps not so widely available in today's world of young fashion, but their way of working.

The first thing we did is start a fashion blog - not like all the popular ones out there today but in contrast to them, very tongue in cheek you might say. We would have "daily outfit" like all these young Swedish girls have on their blogs but we would do it with humor. The other thing we would do is start an internet shop and get this stuff out to a wider public.

It was fun, ambitious and cheeky. And a direct response to reading about the Sex in the City team in Sunday's newspaper!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Passion for Business

Somewhere along the line I was sent a special offer to subscribe to the new magazine Passion for Business, even before it came out. Curious as I was I accepted the offer.

Founded by Silverback's (Swedish TV production company) Anna Carrfors Bråkenhielm and Mama's (very successful parenting magazine) Carin Nunstedt it is aimed at career women. In fact they say it is the first business magazine aimed exclusively at women.

The mag's main headings are tactics, fashion, balance, wellness and toplist and it includes interviews with Antonia Ax:son Johnson (Sweden's only contributer to Forbes list of 100 most powerful women in the world) and media magnate Robert Murdoch's daughter Elizabeth.

Now the magazine just so happens to coincide with me starting up a business and surrounding myself with others in a similar situation but I have to say I find it the most inspiring thing I have read in a long time.

I have tried to find out when the next issue is due but they haven't published that info on their website - I was hoping to get the next one to take away with me but I'm running out of time....

Get yourself a copy, it is great! So inspiring!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Dena & Forever Young

After getting a reminder yesterday from Shenet about their mingle with an IT and webshop focus, I shot off an email to a couple of the girls in Våga Språnget thinking that it would be something for them. It was only after I went back and read through the reminder that I saw that Dena was to be a speaker.

Chuckling at my own silliness, I decided I would go along, after all I had been meaning to go to one of their mingles for the longest time. But why didn't she tell us? I'm sure the entire group would have come along to see her!

There were a couple of speakers and then they brought the three entrepreneurs up on stage to talk about their webshops. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with how they conducted the whole thing but none-the-less it was great marketing for Dena's new website.

You can't help but like Dena, you can't help but feel her enthusiasm. She is no ordinary 25 year old, but rather a self-confident, passionate and gutsy girl of Iranian descent - and a very good looking one at that! We chatted afterwards and she shared her frustrations over the response she is getting from others. It is not totally easy to be young and to go out on a limb like she is and I suspect she is met by jealousy, curiosity and awe, as well as a whole lot of patting on the head.

She has had a lot of hiccups along the way, but it seems her site will finally open on Tuesday, the long awaited launch!

I will promote this lovely person again and again, I'm proud to be able to say I know her! Both Dena and Mimmi are a constant source of inspiration for me, somehow their courage gives me courage. After all, I have spent my entire life being the youngest in everything I do, now I'm happy to watch and learn from the other direction.

Make sure you check out Forever Young after Tuesday, I had a sneak preview and the site reflects her vibrancy!

Paying to pee

One of the pet peeves of people, foreigners in particular, is having to pay to pee. And yesterday was the peak, with the pee issue peeving me more than ever before.

The kids had their check-up at the maternal health nurse, which included an eye-test for Makaila and a vaccination for Kieran - previous encounters had made me somewhat apprehensive about how both of these events would pan out, so I bribed them with a visit to the toy store. It worked.

Trouble is that in the midst of browsing around Kalikå at Skanstull Kieran needed to pee. It is a small shop and they had a loo, but the lady working there said that as they have to clean the toilet themselves they do not allow customers to use it!! I pointed out it was my son that needed it, and that little kids can't hold on for long. But no, in good Swedish style she stated that rules are rules and he could not use the toilet. I was furious, to say the least. Through clenched teeth I assured her that she had lost a sale and that we would NOT be back.

She directed me to Åhlens, a couple of shops away, and we raced in there looking for a toilet, only to be told they did not have one either. WHAT?! A big department store does NOT have a public toilet? Do these stupid people have any clue about customer service?? By this stage I was ready to blow my top, a rare occurrence from me in a public place. But I was just anticipating the trickling down Kieran's leg. I dragged them out of there, cursing at the idiocy of such poor service, when a kindly fellow-customer directed me to the blood bank.

In I went, imploring the staff to let my son use their toilet. And they did. I thanked them profusely, explaining how difficult it had been to find a public toilet in a short amount of time.

If I had been asking for myself, I could understand that a shop has a policy, and I wouldn't be thrilled about cleaning toilets others have used (mind you I have done it many times in my pub work). But I was in a toy store, buying something for my children, when one of them needed to use the toilet. Is it not common sense to let that child use it - do they not want to make money? I walked across the road and spent over 600 kr (100 dollars) on my kids and a birthday present. How stubborn and short-sighted can people be?

The other pet peeve with this whole toilet business is that it costs to use a toilet!! We were in the midst of a busy shopping district and if we had been over at Ringen, the Mall or shopping centre, we could have used the public toilet for the cost of 5kr (about a dollar). Again I say, customer service, do they not know what that is? I am there spending my money, can the shops not go together to pay for the cleaning??

It even blows me away that Åhlens in town do not have a service where they allow Åhlens card-holders to use the toilets free of charge - are they just not thinking or do Swedes have a toilet issue??

I often spend my days working at the State Library in Odenplan - I can be there most of the day and it costs me 5kr every time I need to use the loo!!! It just eats away at you. I'm happy to contribute to their costs - but let me do it in some other way than fulfilling one of our basic human needs!!

I remember when the Australian government of the time passed a law that no-one could ever be denied access to a public toilet, nor was it any longer legal to charge for their usage. I remember going in to the public loos in Bourke street, outside Myer, I was a teen and I clearly remember the relief - I no longer needed to try and hold it because I didn't have change on me.

Sweden wants the tourists, they want to attract professionals and businesses, but they are missing some of the basics. Despite the common habits of the locals - it is NOT OK for men to pee on the street, in lifts, or in any corner they can hide, it is NOT OK for teens to spit big globs on the pavement, it is NOT OK to spit out tobacco on the street, it is NOT OK to charge to go to the toilet and it is NOT OK to have so few public toilets.

It is time they cleaned up their act!!
Ok, I will get off my loo, ooops, I mean soap box!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Websites and blogging

I just spent two days doing a pre-study for my website. If all goes well then these guys will most likely build the website for me over the next couple of months. The process involved going through the plan, discussing exactly what I want on every page and how I want it to look. I really enjoyed it and it makes me feel very excited about what I am doing!!! I'll hear back from them later on in the week with a more detailed quote of what it is going to cost me........

I feel kind of lost this morning. Where was I and what was I doing before I was thinking about the car, the kids picnic tomorrow, their check-up at the doctors this afternoon, leaving for Canada, my aunt's approaching visit, the cat 's summer retreat, wireless internet and all the other things that are going on at the moment.

I didn't manage to find myself or my direction so I played around with some features to add to my blog - a visiter counter and a tricky little live traffic map. Fun and easy to install, I surprised myself by working it out. My interest in the internet and all it's little finesses is surprising me too.

Time for lunch, then off to pick the kids up.

Tonight I am going to my first Shenet mingle - I decided to go once I found out that Dena from Våga Språnget is one of the guest speakers. Now I'm really looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

It's raining, it's pouring

the old man is snoring
went to bed and bumped his head
couldn't get up in the morning!

It was funny to see the school girls in town today with their summer dresses on, some of them didn't even seem to have jackets with them - it was a mere ten degrees at breakfast this morning.
And I thought I was an optimist....

Rain, rain, go away
come again another day.

Is surely what they were singing later in the afternoon as it bucketed down.
I know I was.
Hair dripping, mascara running, jeans and shoes soaked.
Looked like a drowned rat.
Nothing like a the summer rains. And according to Aftonbladet we can expect another 10-11 days of rain this month.

Wonder how the girls were doing in their summer dresses.....

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Wireless Internet in Canada

Ever since Zak told me about his new wireless internet for his laptop I have been on a mission to see if I can get wireless internet in Canada.

We are going to be there for six weeks and we will spend most of our time at the cottage just outside of Wiarton. We have no telephone line hooked up anymore and I am going to need to work. The guys will be building my website while I am away and I want to be able to talk to them as they progress.

Unfortunately Sweden is a whole world away from Canada when it comes to internet and mobile phones (they still pay for incoming calls!!!). Ty and I have searched high and low on the net for info, his mum has been ringing around and last night he got on the phone and rang a couple of service providers. I have emailed a couple of website companies to see if they can help and last night I emailed a bed-n-breakfast in Wiarton, here's what I said:

Hi - I don't live in the country but I will be in Wiarton for 6 weeks over the summer. I am going to need internet access while I am there - we have a cottage but we don't even have a telephone line. Is there ANY chance I could rent some space from you - come over a couple of times a week and check my email etc. I know this is an odd request but I seem to be coming to a dead end everywhere else I turn. Much appreciation for your time. Sincerely

This was her response:

It's not that an unusual request. I have a few people doing this. So yes, I can accommodate you. Will you bring a laptop or do you need my computer? I do not expect rent for this, I offer it as a courtesy.

What a very nice person!! I was thrilled by her response, needless to say!!

She runs the Gadd-About Bed & Breakfast in Wiarton - if ever you are in the neighborhood and not staying with us........

Creatures of the north & the desert

Freshwater crocodile

Blue tongued lizard snatching rays of sunshine (is it Swedish?)

Lace Monitor - my favorite!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Australia's top end

Mum sent some fabulous photos from their recent trip to the Top End, they arrived on a CD in the mail today. Will my life be so tranquil, yet adventurous and enjoyable when I am 60? I look forward to it!

Enjoy these few shots.

Take a look at these goodies: Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Katherine, Alice Springs and The Ghan. They experienced them all and more! Talk about eye-candy!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Another day at the beach

Today we went to the beach at Kärsögården (to the right of Brostugan) on the way out to Drottningholm, with Yona, Christian, Noa and Zach. We took a picnic and the kids had a great time playing in the water, on the beach and in the playground. Good weather and lots to do outdoors - what more do they need?
The sun had a real bite to it today and we spent a fair bit of time in the shade. I am pink and after 3 days of great weather we are guessing that a lot of people will be back at work tomorrow sporting sunburn.

We picked up Thai take-away on the way home and sat on Yona & Christian's balcony savouring the warm evening, it was still high 20s at 7pm. We toasted to a long hot summer!

I just wish I had my camera!!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Castles, ducks and a cool breeze

After having put in a couple of hours this morning it was time to leave Ty at home this afternoon to get some work done.

Guess where we headed?

Can you spot our local beach? It is almost dead centre in the middle of this picture.
Funnily enough it was not as busy this afternoon and as we plonked ourselves down on the sand I realised why - the breeze was much cooler today and the sun did not quite have the same bite to it.

While that kept me out of the water it did not stop my crazy kids - on the otherhand once was enough for them and they were freezing for ages afterwards. Makaila dealt with it by busily building herself a sandcastle, moat included. Kieran lay cutely beside me on his towel, lapping up the sun.

In the midst of the castle building Makaila dropped her bickie in the sand, which Kieran eagerly retrieved. He welcomed my suggestion to feed it to the duck but the trouble is he didn't let go of it, getting bit in the process. Well, pecked at least. While he has a great love of anything that moves he also has much respect. It both hurt him and scared him, sending him crying in to my arms.

Another sunny summer afternoon. The worst part is I left my camera at Helena and Patrik's the other night so you will have to wait for the photos!!

Friday, 6 June 2008

National Day - summer is here!!

After getting the kids in to bed after 11pm last night we weren't too fast moving this morning, but we did manage to get out the door and down to Hässelby Castle for the National Day celebrations by about 11.30.

We met up with Sandee and Cat, who each had two kids with them, amidst the jumping castles and the ridiculously expensive kiddie rides. After a ration of one ride per child we sat down in the shade with hotdogs, cinnamon buns, juice and coffee. The five kids ran around in the hedge maze while Kieran went off to sleep in the pram. But it was too hot to be out in the sun for too long so Sandee and Cat each headed home to put the youngest ones to bed.

Makaila and I sat under the shade of a tree and listened to music and watched some teens acting out their own version of Snow White (interesting...).

We got home and watered the ever-drying grass while the Makaila and the now awake Kieran fooled around under the sprinkler. But enough was enough and I decided I wanted to get wet too! We headed down to the local beach admist the trees and all three of us went for a swim!! Everyone in the neighborhood was there and one of the dads I know thought the water was about 17-18oC. It was pretty chilly, needless to say we weren't in long. Well, at least I wasn't.

The kids ran in and out of the water, with shouts of glee! They were thrilled with their first swim for the season, thawing out on the hot sun in-between their dips. With boats on the water and ducks running around on the beach, kids everywhere and lots of sand toys there was plenty to keep them entertained. They had a great time playing in the sand and as always protested as best they could when it was time to go home. Even the knowledge that daddy was back from his camping trip was hardly enough to entice them away from this sparkling paradise.

Summer is here!! Yay!!

Swedish High School Graduation

is a little different to what I experienced.............
Robert started his day with photos at 7.30am, followed by a champage breakfast at a friend's, lunch, speaches and the handing out of grades. At 3pm they all came out of school, one group at a time and found their families who were eagerly gathered around waiting. They reassembled and all walked in to town as a group with the families flanking them on either side. Once they got in to town they jumped on the back of trucks and trailers pulled by tractors and did laps of the town. With music blasting and the alcohol flowing these singing, shouting, waving teenagers smiled at their families and friends standing on the sidewalk around the town.

After dragging two kids to a meeting in a cafe this morning, we bought some flowers and a leopard to hang around Robert's neck and jumped on the train headed for Strängnäs. Trouble is that a goods train decided to collide with something somewhere and that closed down the system for about 40 minutes. We sat just outside of Strängnäs for 40 minutes, waiting and waiting - impatiently I might add. Consequently, we missed him coming out of school and we missed the procession down to the centre of town. But we did get to see him in the parade - kind of like drunk kids all standing on floats waiving - just not as fancy.

It was a dream for Kieran, watching all the trucks and tractors. And as for Makaila, well she's up for a party kind of atmosphere ANYTIME! She loves the people, the activity, the music - she just loves a party!

We watched them do several laps of the town, waited for Robert and his girlfriend and took them home for more partying.

This is not just a big day for the student, but also for the family. Guests are invited and food and refreshments are laid out in honor of the graduating teen. Flowers, stuffed toys and presents are given and this day is much more of a celebration than when they turn 18 or 21! Gratuating students have an honorary position in the family, at least for a few days!

Helena and Patrik had prepared an Italian style buffet and her parents, his brother and family, his aunt and her husband, a friend and the girlfriends were all there to help celebrate. It was quite a feast and quite a gathering of people who don't see each other except on very special occasions.
And as Robert opened his presents the message became loud and clear: saucepans, a garlic press, a picnic basket, an Ikea gift voucher, a cook book..............
But as he plans on studying aeronautical engineering I don't think he will be going anywhere too soon......

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Robert's graduation

Today we are going to see Robert graduate from High School - and enjoy the celebration afterwards!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Be careful what you wish for

You think you want something, and then you get it.
And you realise that perhaps you don't really want it after all.

But it is easy to want something you don't think you will ever get.

Be careful what you wish for, someone once said to me.
A long time ago.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Swedish Drivers Licence

Am I to be an example to all expats as to why you should make an effort to get that Swedish drivers licence sorted out and NOT continue to drive on your home licence??

Time will tell........

Sunday, 1 June 2008

A good start, a less-than-good ending

I helped Lynessa move today from a run-down apartment in a divey area to a really nice, clean, modern place in a great location. It was a good feeling, and a relief to see that change in her life. It will make a big difference to her, in a positive way, and she deserves that.

I dropped Yvonne home after we spent most of the day lifting and carrying, and just had to drop in to McDonalds. I was hungry and knew there was no food at home and I had to go to a board meeting for our housing association as soon as I got home.

Got my trash food and was heading home when BANG! Another car smacked in to the back of me. Shakily we both got out of the car, exchanged details and she apologised profusely, taking full responsibility. If I had have gone through the stop sign like she expected, she would have too and then have been totaled by a big bus coming through.

Now I have to deal with the car, the chance that they might write it off, giving us a lot less than it would cost to replace it, and I need to go to the docs and get checked out - my neck is sore tonight. Such a hassle, not something we need in our lives right now.

And the thought of getting back in the car again tomorrow is scary, especially as it is the second accident I have had in the last 12 months - even if it wasn't my fault this time.

And we still have no food in the house..........