Archive for May, 2007

I should be asleep–or at least trying to get rid of the pounding headache just behind my left eyeball (I’m starting to feel like a borg).

Anyhow, here is a random bit of info about my life.

When dh is gone, I lose all desire to cook, but I still want to eat well. Usually, I try and cook meals that the whole family enjoys.

Tonight: I ate baked salmon (baked in a foil packet with dill, salt, pepper, and lemon juice), fresh oat rolls, asparagus, and mashed potato.

My BOYS ate: pizza

We were all happy.

Not sure what dh ate—probably hot dogs roasted on a camping fire??? He’s a great outdoor cook but he may have been impeded by what was or wasn’t being served.


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Yesterday, while completely wasting my time cruising around on the internet, I came across the Bella Online website. I had fun browsing some of the different articles about parenting. Then I noticed the advertisement for an editor for the parenting section. Basically, you had to post articles with about 400 words once a week, monitor discussions, etc. And for two whole glorious minutes, I revelled in the idea of being an online editor, until reality came crashing down on me. What would I write about? I’m supposed to write about positive things that parents can do, right???? And all I could think of were my gigantic parenting failures. Sure, I could write a smashing article on how to prevent your kids from being reverent during Sacrament meeting, but somehow I don’t think that would quite meet the standards the website owners are looking for. I could write about the chaotic mornings we have every morning as I beg, plead, threaten, and cajole my children to get ready for school on time or I could write about how I consistently do things wrong with one of my children.  And so my dreams faded of being an online editor on parenting.

But somehow, I’m okay with it. Because I find that I’m a little less sure of myself. I thought I knew so much when my first two were little. And now my kids show me repeatedly that parenting isn’t some cookie cutter process. I have to be flexible, patient (more than I ever dreamed) and loving. And when things turn out right, I find myself a little shocked because I know that it wasn’t because of my direct doing.

Each day of parenting reveals to me, in microscopic detail, all my flaws and weaknesses. But with that knowledge, it is also affirmed to me, again and again, that love is one of the most powerful agents which makes up for my weaknesses and flaws. I find that my children are precious gifts that love me in spite of my gigantic weaknesses and failures. And that keeps me going and trying to improve myself.

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Sofiero and Krapperup

A few years ago I went on a day trip organized by the Foreign Students Associaton at the university. I took a ton of pictures, wrote about the experiences, and even philosophized about it. I’ve been dreaming about visiting the places again. So I organized a little morning trip with some women from my ward. We had a lovely morning. And I wasn’t disappointed with visiting again. I wish the rhododenrons would have been blooming a bit more, but otherwise, it was still lovely. At the risk of being redundant, I’m going to post my original journal entry from the first visit.  Feel free to skip it.

A note about the entries. On this most recent journey, we didn’t actually tour the homes, we spent time walking through the gardens. It was a lovely morning and I appreciated sharing it with two friends and my adorable daughter. I’m including the notes about the castles because I think those things are interesting.


We travelled to a penisula north of Lund on the coast. The penisula juts out and makes travel between Denmark and Sweden very convenient. A ferry regularly travels the distance so one can easily get to Denmark. I should note that this is north of the bridge which connects Malmö and Copenhagen.

Before 1658, the southern part of Sweden belonged to Denmark. The fertile lands and short distance between the two countries made it natural that Denmark should possess the land. But then Sweden and Denmark fought a very bloody war over the land and Sweden won. It was a difficult period as there were many Danish nobles who owned land both in Sweden and Denmark. Some nobles, chose to stay in Sweden and became a part of Sweden. The castle we visited–actually more of a noble estate or manor house, belonged to the Krapperup family–a Danish family. At one point, this family owned nearly the entire peninsula. It was a unique property as it borders the ocean but also has wonderful farm land.

The home was bequeathed to a trust in the 1960’s and has been since used for scientific purposes. Many scholars come to the home to study the artifacts that it holds and also to study more about the period. We were given a private tour, therefore, I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of the home. But I did take photos of the gorgeous grounds and of the exterior of the manor.

The home consists  of a main block and then two wings which extend from either side of the house. We were only allowed to see the main portion. The wings are reserved for offices and visiting researchers.

Here are just a few impressions I had of the home. First, it was definitely designed for a family. Every room pointed to that fact. Of course, there was incredibly large dining room which could also be used for dances and entertaining. I imagine that guests were common and appreciated. One of my favorite rooms was the library which contained volumes as old as 1560 and new as 1880. I would have loved to peruse the books but we were only allowed to look from the doorway.

The kitchen was magnificent and HUGE. But of course, cooking in those days required a lot of people and a lot of hard work. The kitchen had been thoroughly modernised in 1880 with an enormous iron stove. I imagine that cooking required a great deal of fuel to make the bread and meal required by the family, guests, and servants. I didn’t see if there was a dumbwaiter which connected the kitchen with the upstairs dining room, but it is quite possible that one was necessary. I can’t imagine carrying up huge platters of food on those stone steps. Maybe their servants were more graceful than myself!

Two other rooms which adjoined the dining room were used for daily family like. These rooms contained portraits and furniture from the last family to own the home. The room felt happy and warm. The portraits were beautiful and showed a happy family.

Two of the owners were quite scientific. The grandfather was a trained biologist and collected many, many specimins of stones and other things of interest. He displayed them in cases specifically designed to protect and show off his samples. The son was a trained archeologist and there some items from Egypt, including small stone figurines–perhaps gods?? and a piece of papyrus with heiroclyphs written on it.

The gardens were breathtaking and encompassed a large area. They have a magnificent rhodendenron walk lined with beautiful flowers. I could just imagine myself in a lovely, flowing dress walking around the gardens. It was delightful. I admit, my 21st century clothes didn’t seem to suit the atmosphere.

Added: The garden has some nice wooded areas with ponds and even a little stream. There are some lovely old trees, shaped and twisted by wind. I saw a variety of different Swedish trees. The Rhododendron alle– if you can call it, was still quite lovely even if the flowers weren’t all out yet. Starting from the back of the house, you walk down through a rhododenron alle–with rhododendrons on both sides. At the bottom is a beautiful, restful fountain with pristine white benches just begging to be sat on to enjoy the beauty.

After enjoying the vivid colors of the rhododendrons, you can wander around a picturesque pond which reflects the back of the castle. I took some nice pictures of the reflections.


This is the last email describing my day trip last Saturday.

We drove to Sofiero, the summer home of Gustaf Adolf and the Crown Princess Margareta. At the time, Gustav was not the king. His eldest son, was to be the king. Gustav was a trained archeologist and was really quite intelligent (a quality, our guide noted, not always possessed by kings and queens!). He married Margareta, an English princess, who was very artistic and intelligent. They were given Sofiero as a wedding present from Gustav’s grandparents in 1905. The home was only level and the grounds were not particularly inspiring. Margareta wrote of Sofiero.

“Yes, once upon a time there was a castle. It was built in Scanialand, in the south of Sweden, and it had one of the loveliest situations in the world. But when my husband and I had it given to us, there was scarecely anything in the way of flowers, and the whole place gave one the impression of being the enchanted forest where the fairy-tale princess still slept.”

Margareta and Gustav were an extremely handsome couple. Margareta actually looked like a princess! She was lovely, charming, friendly, and very gifted. They had a happy marriage. They have five children, four boys and one girl. They spent their time in this home from the 1st of May to the end of September. When I say summer home, I do not mean that this home was entirely used for leisure. On the contrary, all the work was moved from Stockholm to Sofiero.

Margareta was a gifted gardener and artist. She made ambitious plans for a marvelous garden. She enlisted the help of her husband and children. Photographs in the home show the children hoeing away on rows of plants! Margareta and Gustav also published a few books about gardening where they included photographs they had taken of gardening. Their books were groundbreaking in that the language was more personal and interesting rather than textbook dull and dry.

I loved looking at the photos of the family. You could really feel a sense of joy and family togetherness as they worked and played together.

Sadly, Margareta died 18 years later of blood poisoning. She was only 38 years old.

Gustav became the king when his son was killed in an airplane accident in 1947. His grandson, the current king, was only 3 at the time, and so Gustav took the role as king until his grandson was old enough to take his rightful place.

Gustav remarried another English woman, Louise. While not as beautiful as Margareta, she was a good stepmother to Gustav’s children. She proved to be a good companion and queen to Gustav.

Gustav remained passionate about his gardens surround Sofiero. Our guides told us that while in Stockholm, Gustav often called his gardeners at Sofiero and would ask how plant 487 was doing! He bequeathed Sofiero to the town of Helsingborg upon his death in 1972. Helsingborg has maintained the gardens and the home.

The gardens were lovely and wonderful to wander in.

This is definitely a place I would recommend to visitors. While it isn’t as old as other sites I have visited, I felt a connection to the royal family who lived there. The happiness that the family experienced there seems to be a part of the garden itself.

Addition to this entry: Sofiero gardens have more of a woodsy feel than Krapperup. They were designed, in my mind, to imitate the wildness and surprises you expect when wandering through a wood. And yet, from the things I learned about the Margareta and her husband, it was obvious the garden was meticulously designed. Since it is still cold and summer warmth hasn’t really permeated the area, everything was on the cusp of blooming. It was actually an exciting feeling to see things at that moment just before they burst out in all their glory. The best was still yet to come. I still was able to feast visually on lovely colors and flowers. They had designed a beautiful tulip garden that had wonderful color combinations and patterns.

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A test-drive

So I’m test-driving a new title for my blog: A Stranger Here.

The title comes from a line in one of my favorite LDS hymns, “O My Father”.

The line comes from the second verse:

For a wise and glorious purpose

Thou hast placed me here on earth

And withheld the recollection

Of my former friends and birth;

Yet ofttimes a secret something

Whispered, “You’re a stranger here,”

And I felt that I had wandered

From a more exalted sphere.

–I like this poem a lot. And in my current state of life, it is applicable in a not-so-spiritual way. As an ex-pat who has lived abroad for almost five years, I find that the experience has changed me a lot. And everytime I return to the U.S., I feel strange. While much is familar and comfortable, I never feel quite comfortable in it. But the same is true of living in Sweden. I always a bit out of place. Each experience I’ve had in a new country, visiting a new site, or seeing new art work, adds something to my life. And so, I don’t think I can go back to the U.S. the same person I was when I left nearly five years ago. I know I can adjust and be happy. I’ve certainly learned that from living abroad. I’m okay with always feeling a bit different because it’s what pushes me to try new things and experience things. It pushes me to reach outside myself to make connections with people and places.

So, essentially, my blog is about being a stranger in a strange place–seeing new things, trying to work through perplexing questions, and also enjoying the quirks of life.

What do you think of my title??? Comments please!!!!

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Since this blog is essentially about travel experiences we’ve had and my experiences with a different culture, country, and language in Sweden, I don’t post everyday. However, in the past week and a half, we’ve done a lot of exploring. So I have blog updates to write soon. (After I get unpacked, clothes folded and put away, etc.)

 Here’s a preview of things to come.

1. A trip to the gardens of Sofiero and Krapperup

Sofiero and Krapperup are on the west coast of Sweden on a tiny penisula. They have lovely gardens. I took a morning trip there with two friends and the baby.

2. Alles Stenar and Glimmingehus

     a. Alles Stenar is on the southern coast of Sweden. It is a formation of 59 giant stones shaped like a giant ship. It was fantastic.

     b. Glimmingehus is one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Sweden. The man who owned and built is was very cruel and very paranoid. He built all kinds of traps to defend his turf–and then the castle was never attacked.

3. A weekend trip to Amsterdam with my friend where we visited:

    a. The Van Gogh Museum

    b. The Rikjsmuseum

     c. The Canal House Museum

     d. Rembrant’s home

     e. took a canal boat tour

     f. ate Indonesian food (a specialty of Amsterdam and probably Holland in general)

     g. enjoyed a little hideway by the University and enjoyed the quiet and peace of  the area

     h. tried to visit the Corie Ten Boom House in Haarlem

     i. a visit to the charming town of Haarlem

     j. the open air market–charming and fun!

     k. a visit to a church (can’t remember the name at the moment) of an old church with gravestones as the floor, an imbedded cannonball, and an organ that Mozart played on.

     l. Frans Hals museum

     m. Keukenhof gardens

      n. riding bicyles throughout Amsterdam

      o. the portugese synagogue (the trials in finding the blasted building!)

      p. The Anne Frank House/Museum

      q. The Pancake restaurant

     I think that about covers it. I hope to write these soon!

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