Thursday, 28 August 2008

1001 unique visitors

I've reached a milestone!!

Not sure who all these people are or how they found me, I don't have that many friends.

Feels kinda fun....

WOW!! Eco Shopping made easy

Went grocery shopping last night for the first time in a couple of weeks and could not believe all the new organic products on the shelves - it was a sight for sore eyes!! And the list included products that you just wouldn't expect to be organic.

Beans of all kinds.More beans.Tortillas.Taco Mix.

About half my groceries were organic, which is not bad for the supermarket - considering I didn't get any fruit or veggies. Things have come a long way in a short time and the prices usually don't vary that much - although it is without doubt more expensive to buy organic.

And then today, when checking out Internet World's blog I discovered this great site: Eco Shopping, designed to make shopping with a conscience easy! I'm thrilled they exist - it is exactly what I was thinking about in the supermarket last night - someone should be getting this info out - and they are!

Why buy Organic, Fair Trade or Locally Produced products?
Organic is a more sustainable choice for the farmers/producers, gives you a better tasting, healthier product free from nasty chemicals and a higher vitamin content.
Fair Trade is a better choice for the local farmers/producers, giving them a fair income and conditions for their output.
Locally produced is a better environmental choice and gives jobs to your local community.

If you don't really care about any of this, then watch this:

(click on the picture, then press "play")


I signed a contract a week or so ago and took on the role as Going-There's Destination Consultant for Stockholm. They are expanding their services in to our great city and luckily for me they rang an old friend and ex-colleague now living in England to see if she knew someone who might be interested.

My job is to spend a couple of days with each client, helping them get acquainted with Stockholm, find somewhere to live, sign a contract, get everything set up and write themselves into the Swedish system. I help them sign up for Swedish classes and guide them so they can get a social network. Relocations services in other words.

I figured I would start working with this again, I just that I didn't expect it to happen this soon.

It fits perfectly.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

E-commerce in full swing

All round the place I seem to be hearing about the growth of e-commerce, on the radio, in the papers and in conversations with people. You need to be there, have web presence....

There was an interesting article in SvD yesterday which gave some basic tips - keep the site simple, easy to navigate, have a lot of pictures of the product and gives lots of product information. Finally it is important to offer several payment options and make sure the customer receives their order as soon as possible, always informing them of the delivery date. Their final tip - get yourself some satisfied customers - they are your best marketing tool.

Things are looking good for my Våga Språnget friend Mimmi. Her Collection of Designers should do well, at least if the e-commerce growth reported in the article is anything to go by. A 21% increase compared to the same quarter last year says a whole lot about the growth of the internet as a market place. And Mimmi provides a great opportunity for those starting off in e-commerce, or those wanting to reach a wider audience.

Our neighbor in Canada, Cindy, is a designer of products that are more suited to the Scandinavian market than the Canadian. C.O.D. would be perfect for her, she could just put them in the post and send them off to customers around the world. As it would be for Carrie of Sling Sisters, whose audience has predominantly been through the local expat scene. I hope both these girls, and others, decide to give C.O.D. a chance.

And it seems Mimmi has been interviewed by P1 and will be on their Style program on Friday morning. Go Mimmi Go!!!

Monday, 25 August 2008

August in Stockholm

means fruit, blueberries, raspberries, red & black currants, apples, plums and more.

Blueberries growing under our balcony.

Every year we go to Ulla's in Spånga to help lighten her load. She has 8 fruit trees, 6 are apple trees.
We make apple must (juice) out at Rosenhill, apple butter, apple crisp and apple rings.

It is a great time of year if you like fruit - veggies too.
There are lots of places where you can pick your own.

Mischa the hunter

He might be thirteen, he might have cancer, he might be on his death-bed and he might have just thrown up his breakfast, but he will be a hunter until the bitter end.
He just got a magpie on our balcony!!!
I had to pick him up, bird in mouth, take him back out on the balcony and holding on to the back of his neck give him a little shake until he let go of it!!!

It flew off as fast as it could, it all happened so fast I can hardly believe it did happen.
Those cheeky birds - what are they doing on our balcony, they know he lives here.

Friday, 22 August 2008


Went to the vet today. She suspected back in February that he has cancer. He has lost almost 2kg since then. Everything is pointing in that direction.We have a couple of weeks to spoil him and then she wants to see him again, for he last time.... Before he starts to suffer too much.

Makaila took these phtotos herself.....

Thursday, 21 August 2008


The little path leading to the forest at the back
(more than half their play area is forest with big boulders to climb on).

Looking down towards the sandpit.

A big sandpit and a path of stumps.

The cubby house.

Looking towards the forest at the back - they are either in the forest,
the sandpit or running around.

Doesn't even come close to Suparb's but it is a great environment for them to be in.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Aussies are best

Not only are we raking in the medals at this year's Olympics but we are also good at sorting rubbish (at least the Kelpies are!).

Heard a great story on the radio this morning about the rubbish-sorting Aussie kelpies giving demonstrations at the Malmö festival. They can take a pile of rubbish and sort out the metals, plastics (even soft plastics), batteries, glass, food scraps etc. By correctly sorting the rubbish the items can be recycled, including the food scraps which are either used to produce Biogas or compost.

The message is:
They know how to sort out the rubbish so it can all be recycled -
if a dog can do it then we can too!!

Read more here - you can even see them in action:
Malmö stad
Sorry, only Swedish news articles - hope they get some media coverage abroad, there are lots of places that could benefit from the knowledge - it took just three months to train them!!

It was funny to listen to the Mallory Beach Property owners complain about recycling - they just sort it, put it in a box and leave it out on the road for the truck to pick up!! The local Mayor could not believe we have to take it to recycling stations ourselves. And Australians don't even have to sort theirs!

Time for people to take responsibility. Time for people to take the time to do it!!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Another year begins

another school year at least. Ty is at his kick-off tonight and the kids have had their first two days back. They are loving it, thank goodness!

Kieran has a new room and a couple of new friends. And he has Jofes.

Joseph has been with us all summer, he has been Kieran's imaginary friend. They do everything together and Jofes has everything. That big truck over there, that's Jofes' and we just went for a big drive in it, down the hill really fast and crashed at the bottom, bang! It was really fun! And he laughs and waves his arms about and rolls his eyes as he feels the story, he lives in his stories.

Kieran is a story-teller, like his father, and his father before him. They are long, they are elaborate and he is very expressive.

And he is very happy to be back playing with Joseph. They are older, the big boys of the group, Kieran can communicate better and there is no longer any competition for Joseph's friendship. He laughed tonight as he told me what the two of them did together today. He has settled. He no longer runs to his sister when they are all outside together. It is a relief to see him enjoying himself so much.


Makaila is very happy to be back at Lillgården. She is getting big now, and she knows it. She is almost six now, and she knows it. She is getting a real attitude.

She knows she is one of the oldest kids there, she knows they will be doing special activities this year, she knows she will start school next year, the year she turns 7. Actually there isn't much she doesn't know (and she's not even 13 yet!!)

Most of her peers are starting school this year, but in the Waldorf daycares they tend to do the preparation for school at daycare and that is good for her, having only done one full year there so far. Her confidence can afford another year, even if we then have the attitude to contend with. It is a good, safe environment for her to continue learning Swedish, and to come out of her shell.

She has friends, she is settled, she is proud of herself and her achievements, she is a happy girl and that makes me a happy mum.


And I am happy because daycare brings with it such a lovely community.


I just stumbled across the blog My Cancer, written by journalist Leroy Sievers about his struggle with a brain tumor and lung cancer. He lost the battle just three days ago. His last post was just two days before his death.

What a gift, to be able to express yourself until the bitter end.
A gift to yourself, to your family and to your friends.

Having nursed Paul until his final hour, and watching mum nurse John until the end of his days, the memories of cancer will stay embedded in my mind forever. I'm sure there are more to come.....

But to be able to follow that person through their journey, what a gift. What a privilege to be able to write along the path .....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Stockholm's Technical Museum

After a late night with our dear neighbours, drinking, snacking and talking the hours away, we braved the rain today and went to Tekniska Museet with Helena and Patrik.

We were there for the afternoon, but could easily have spent several more hours looking at all there is to see. It is a haven for kids, big and small...

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Friday night at Bryggan

What better way to spend a sunny Friday evening than at Bryggan in Åhlsten?

We had hamburgers, chips, saganaki, beer and finished with ice-cream all before the posh crowd started rolling in in BMWs, boats or on bikes. It is a great spot to enjoy the sun. The kids loved watching the boat traffic as they came in to fill up their tanks (it was originally just a petrol station) or come in to the restaurant.

If you look towards town you see the tree-line shore and the apartments. There are fancy houses behind the forested shoreline, built around the 1920s.

If you look in the other direction you see the posh houses built mostly in the 40s when this area was suburbinised.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Kangaroo Care

My niece was born in week 28 of my sister's pregnancy, 12 weeks premature. I was here in Sweden at the time and mum sent me multitudes of photos so I could follow what was happening. I have an album here that the kids look at occasionally.

I can hardly look at the photos.....

To see this infant, my niece, so tiny, so fragile. Weighted down those first hours so she would not do damage to herself.

But as you flip the pages of the album you can follow her growth, her development. She went from this "thing" clinging to the edge of life, to the strong, healthy girl she is today, almost 10 years later.

My niece is a strong, determined, stubborn person. Her mother is the same. And she owes her life to these very qualities, without them she would not be here.

Ellandi was born to dedicated parents who spent every possible minute with her. They gave up their lives, their friends and their income, to care for their daughter. They sat with her day and night, her tiny hands gripping their fingers. They sang for her, told her stories and read to her. Their devotion was unconditional.

Tears will well in Athena's eyes as she reads this, that much I am sure of. Naturally it was a life-altering experience, even more so than most of us experience with the birth of our first child.

She attributes the success, not only of Ellandi's survival, but also her strong health, to two things - Kangaroo Care and good nutrition as she got older. She touched her daughter in some way, every moment during the 10-12 hour days with her. They made sure Ellandi knew her parents were there for her.

So of course the article about the Kangaroo Pouch and method, caught my attention this morning as I read the paper. I was also surprised and pleased to read about the first ever European Conference on Kangaroo Mother Care being held this October - here is Sweden!
The conference is being hosted by The Academic Hospital in Uppsala, who according to the article, are one of the forerunners in using the method in Sweden.

It seems the method, having been first used in Colombia in the '70s, and introduced to Sweden in the late '80s, is experiencing a revival worldwide. Research has shown that it is as successful than the incubator, in some cases, better. The skin to skin contact enables the infant to maintain a steady temperature, pulse, breathing and oxygen intake. Research shows that breast-feeding is established much faster and the child is more harmonious. They cry less and have a higher pain tolerance than infants cared for by traditional methods, separated from thier parents.

It is good news all round. It goes to show, machines just can't replace people, at least not in every case. We sure are glad that Ellandi is a Kangaroo baby!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Swimming, playing and eating

Today we decided to go to Vällingby indoor pool (and it won't be the last time).

On the way there we decided that it was such a nice sunny day, and warm in the car, that we should actually go to the beach instead. So we turned off and headed towards Ängbybadet instead. Luckily the sand toys were still in the car. As we parked and walked along the path to the beach I wondered why there was no-one on the beach, just a couple of kids on the swings and they seemed to be fully dressed. Strange for such a nice day. As we turned the corner and the wind hit us the air temperature dropped. A few more tentative steps and we decided there was no way we would be swimming here - the wind was too cold. So headed back to the car, and off to the pool. As originally planned.

The kids were not disappointed, they loved it. Not the warmest water, and as I sat looking at the sun shining outside I wished there was some way we could have both. Where are the high ceilinged swimming pools of Oz - the ones that let all the light and sunshine in? None-the-less it kept the kids busy and ensured they got plenty of exercise. And when we all got too cold we ducked into the sauna to warm up (M loves the sauna - just like her mamma). Kieran also learnt today about deep water as he stepped off the bottom step in the deeper kids pool into water over his head!

We got home in time for my lovely neighbour to take the kids while I waited for a phone call (I needed to be undisturbed for this one). I went later to pick them up but all the kids were too busy playing to notice us chatting. With Ty being at a work dinner we were treated to a delicious BBQ dinner so we stayed a lot longer than the hour I asked her watch them for. We hadn't talked since our return and it was a good chance for me to practice my French with Yona's mum, who is visiting from Montreal (I wish!!).

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Lost in Transition

between holiday and normality.....
Ty went back to work today, leaving the three of us at home wondering what to do with ourselves.

We did the washing, cleaned up (at least I did - they played) and hung out, until we rode all the way to the park in Abrahamsberg to meet Sandee and the boys. It was Makaila's first big ride and she has several scrapes to prove it!

Everyone is at work, in daycare, with grandparents or still holidaying - what are we going to do tomorrow??

We could go to the park, but hanging around in a park with a bunch of parents who don't speak to each other unless they have seen each other at least 100 times before, is just no fun....

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Happy Birthday Athena!

It was my little sister's birthday today.

And I am so pleased to hear that life is being good to her these days. She deserves that!
Happy Birthday Teen, glad to hear it was a great day.
Where's my glass of champers?

A lovely weekend

was had by me!

After a slow morning (altho K was at least up by 10 and M by 11) we left daddy bear at home on his own and went to visit Mel and Luca.
The kids played and had a great time, dodging the occasional raindrop. It was the first time the two boys have actually really enjoyed each others company.


I couldn't believe it! We had lots of catching up to do - and obviously a lot of things to talk about.
It was LOVELY, we had to drag ourselves away.

After another slow start on Sunday Ty and I rode (dragging kids along in the Chariot) down to visit Klara & Tobias and the girls. We had a lovely time there too, staying for dinner and emptying a bottle or two of wine.... Kids played really well together and that got M & K back in to the swing of speaking Swedish again (and me too).

'Tis lovely to be home and catching up with people....

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The first few days

have been spent at home, and I mean at home. And after three days it at home it is time to get out of here, to be social, to go somewhere, to do something. I'm sick of cleaning up, tidying up and putting things away! The walls are closing in on me.....

I walked to the shop twice yesterday, and rode to the local bike store today - tomorrow I (we) will venture further afield, just not sure where yet.

We put Kieran's new bike together yesterday but when we went to pump up Makaila's tires they wouldn't hold the air. After much cursing, frustration and disappointment, we gave up, one by one, and the kids had to be content with just playing outside on the swings. Today I went and got a new valve and she was back on her bike - no training wheels, no handle, no nothing! I think she feels a great sense of freedom now she can ride on her own.

While she practised Ty changed the flat tire, that neither our house-guests nor our neighbours had been able to get off. Christian did the trick and sprayed some stuff on
When I went out to get a new tire valve today I got the nicest surprise - the guy handed me a new one and said - here this was floating around and we don't get much demand for them, you can take it!! I couldn't believe it. Even in a country where customer service is hardly understood, let along considered important or implemented, there are some really nice people around - and smart ones too! I will remember their store and speak positively of them for that matter!

When I went out to get a new tire valve today I got the nicest surprise - the guy handed me a new one and said - here this was floating around and we don't get much demand for them, you can take it!! I couldn't believe it. Even in a country where customer service is hardly understood, let along considered important or implemented, there are some really nice people around - and smart ones too! I will remember their store and speak positively of them for that matter! Need a new bike? Check out

P.S. Got the kids to sleep by midnight tonight. Will wake them a little earlier tomorrow. Slowly does it....

Friday, 8 August 2008

Departures and Arrivals

Getting in and out of Canada is never that easy - of the 20 or so international airports I've gone through Toronto's Pearson is by far the worst. Arrival for me has meant climbing off a long flight with two tired children, walking the long passageways to Immigration, dragging 2 kids and 3 carry-ons behind me without travelators or trolleys. And don't even get me started on Immigration - travelling alone with children in to that country is a nightmare - the only country I have been in where I have to have documented permission from the father that I can travel alone with my children. Sure - it is in the interest of the child in the event that it has been kidnapped - but as I said to the woman last year - do you seriously think I would bring them to their father's country if I was kidnapping them?? "I decide whether or not you enter this country" she curtly advised me. In my mind it is just another of the many fears that one seems to face in the great space of North America.

Anyway, all that is another story - even if it will remain etched in my memory forever.

Our departure this year was a little more eventful (or less) than it usually is. Once we checked in all 8 suitcases, all of which had been strategically balanced to ensure none weighed more than the allowed 23kg, and paid for our oversized piece (one of our checked in pieces was a framed picture that Ty inherited last year but that didn't make it home with us and was carefully packed in miles of bubble-rap, pillows and towels) we headed to the gate. It cost us 120 dollars (720 kr) to take an oversized piece with us - about the same as it would have cost to send it surface mail. This check-in procedure is always a little nerve-racking and the tension is there until everything has been accepted. You never know if the scales at home will be the same as those at the airport - although this year Tyler went out at the last minute and bought new ones when the two we had borrowed were giving different readings (that spiced up the situation a little - let me tell you!!).

Despite being there the required three hours beforehand (somewhat different to Swedish regulations of an hour), time seemed to go quickly and after discovering that Canada no longer provides a tax-back service meaning there is no duty-free shopping (!!) we headed to the gate and boarded the Air Canada flight heading for Frankfurt.

Little did we know that the thunderstorm and the huge bolt of lightening that seemed to hit the tarmac itself, had actually closed down the airport and we sat on the runway for nothing short of two hours before finally taking off. We were number 20 in the line-up and judging by the long line behind us I can only guess that there were at least 20 planes behind us - it is cool to see them all lined up like that - waiting to take off.

I can only say that I am so glad I bought the kids a milkshake each and that I had a ribbit sandwich and boiled egg in my bag - all of them despite protests from my other half - we would all have starved to death otherwise - particularly the boys.

The rest of the flight was uneventful - the kids slept some of the way but not much of the 7 or so hours (K 4 and M 2 or so) and upon arrival in Frankfort we and two others were quickly and efficiently escorted through the airport to our flight to Stockholm, which we made much to our surprise and appreciation - another 4+ hours in the airport would not have been a barrel of laughs.....

Needless to say that not all our luggage made the flight - 3 pieces were left behind but were delivered to us later in the evening. I thought that it would be a miracle in disguise and that we were not going to need the large taxi (which costs more) to get us home. Alas we had the over-sized picture frame with us and needed the over-sized vehicle. Unfortunately, I did not heed all the warnings and ask the driver what the charge would be but rather assumed it was the price advertised on the vehicle - small print said otherwise - oversized vehicles carry and oversized price. The whopping 750kr (125 dollars for a 40 min drive) came as a shock and the driver and his company representative at the end of his phone, got to hear my fury - even my Canadian neghbour who saw that we had arrived came out and argued with him. In the end I gave in (she later told me she would have ripped it up and said- I'll pay you the advertised 495 kr and nothing else - I only wish I was a sassy as she is).

Still, here we are, safely at home and all our possessions arrived unscathed. Shame I didn't take any photos of the chaos either before our departure or upon our arrival - at home. Eight suitcases and five carry-ons is a lot of luggage and the packing and unpacking of it is quite an event. Poor Grandma had to endure the full extent of the chaos for the first time and despite the appearance of the situation we are experts and this year's packing was a lot less stressful than it has been in the past - it was mostly clothes, a car seat (for the car we don't have!), some inherited pottery, a few food items, toiletries and some toys and books (including M's birthday present) - all of which now fight for space of their own in our mansion of an apartment.

Despite forgetting some of the things we like to buy we did come home with Mac&Cheese (not for me I hate the stuff), Mandarine Salad dressing, Ranch dressing, smoked almonds, Brown sugar BBQ sauce, chocolate chips (unobtainable in Sweden!) and peanut butter - what I just discovered, much to my dismay, is that they are almost all Kraft Products - oh how I hate to support the multi-nationals - give me the little guys any day.

And now, at 3 am, it is time for me to try and get some sleep - although I might ring my mum first - I only wish I had stayed up when she rang and woke me at 11am this morning. The kids went to bed a mere 30mins ago and Ty is watching a movie. Tomorrow is going to be ugly! I'll have to drag them up much earlier than they want to be - whoever said that kids don't get jet-lag has obviously never travelled with kids - it is no fun to force their little bodies to adjust to another time schedule. We'll have to find someone to be social with tomorrow - that should make it easier.....


Thursday, 7 August 2008

We're all messed up

It is 11.15pm and we have only been up since 3pm (we were awake half the night) - not sure what time bedtime will be tonight - I took the kids for a long walk but I think they still have a few hours left in them. Will have to be tough in the morning and make sure we are up at a decent time - by midday at least.....

Not that there is any reason to be up during the day - rain and 14oC - is this summer??? And no we don't want to hear that the weather has been beautiful here until now - we don't believe you!!!

Goodbye Canada, Hello Sweden

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Saying Goodbye

to the cottage - to the canoe, the boat, the bikes, the humming birds, the chipmunks, the trees, the water, the garden, and to the neighbours and Judy's cousin Cindy and her Paul (who have a place down the road), to Mark and Gabriele, his kids and to Cura the dog (they all stayed on for a couple more days).

Our last few days were busy, with lots of people around and lots of last minute things to be done. We will all miss our time up there.

Makaila can ride a bike!!

Just before we headed up to the cottage for our last week I walked across the road and bought a bike at a garage sale - talk about luck! It was exactly what I had been hoping for. 20 dollars later it was in the car and we were on our way.

Once we got to the cottage Kaila and Ty were out practising and they did so for the next couple of days. Then upon my insistance we took the pedals off the bike and she had a go at scooting along. I have always wanted to get a Like Bike and we looked at them before we got here, but they are expensive. This worked in the same way.

Over the next couple of days she was less than enthusiastic, and refused to get on her bike. But on Thursday I convinced her to give it a go and it was really nice, I walked and she pushed herself along getting a feel for it. We headed out again Friday too, she now thought it was fun and could push herself along lifting her feet off the ground.

Today Mark was trying to help us pack up and kindly put the pedals back on her bike - both she and I were disappointed. Ty convinced her to give it a go with the pedals to both our amazement she rode along on her own!!! We couldn't believe it!!!

I can't believe how proud I felt as I watched her ride up and down the road - unassisted. And she was so proud of herself too. She went out with Ty, then with me and finally when she went out with cousin Kaylee she could even take off on her own.

It feels like such a huge milestone - I just wish I knew how to upload the video that I took!

Friday, 1 August 2008

A final boat trip to get some holey rocks

Kieran is often sedated by the bumby ride.
And generally sleeps anywhere!

Always work to be done

The humming birds are loving our new bee-bombs!