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Archive for February, 2008

As we are becoming more and more settled, I find myself trying to figure out what I am going to do here. In Sweden, I had a very full schedule which included a lot of volunteering, teaching piano and music classes, and time spent on the bus. But now, my calender isn’t that full.

With all of that time, I decided to visit the library. It was great walking around, seeing all the wonderful English titles. It was rather funny though because when I tried to sign up for a library card, I only had bills with my husband’s name on them, so we had to do this elaborate system of “we’ll mail you a card and if it doesn’t come back then we know you really live there, and you can check out books today, but only 3 or 4.” So here I am, after years of library famine, going to the feast only able to limit myself to a few books.

 Anyhow, I noticed a sign for a book club which meets once a month to discuss literature. I was directed to the reference librarian and began to ask her some questions. Keep in mind that while I was talking to her, my baby was complaining because she is grumpy because she a rash from her antibiotics (not serious, but she’s grumpy), while my son who is four keeps picking on his sister. The librarian says to me, “This is a pretty serious book group. We like to approach our discussions from a scholarly viewpoint. We are very focused on actually discussing the book” She didn’t say this in a condescending manner at all, and it was clear from her comments that not all people approached the book club in that manner and were disappointed. When I responded that I have a degree in English literature and that the book choice looked great, her attitude changed a bit. She became more enthusiastic, explaining what a great group it was. I ended up checking out the book and am planning on my babysitting swap strategy.

The incident left me thinking, why do some people think that mothers can’t contribute seriously to a good discussion or are more interested in gossip than in literature? Okay, sorry this is not well-constructed. Is it the fact that children hang on us like monkeys that seems to diminish our intellect in the eyes of others? I’m not sure. Maybe I am over-reacting. I just wonder if other mothers have noticed this.

Sorry, I need to think about this a little more. I would appreciate any thoughts you might have.

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Reverse currency conversion

As any person who has lived abroad knows, a great deal of one’s time shopping is spent converting the local currency to the home currency to determine if the price is reasonable. I spent a good five years doing this. When we lived in Israel, it became really complex juggling three currencies in my head. Eventually we came to a point where we stopped automatically converting every price. But it did take a long time.

So tonight, Dh and I were discussing the bag of shredded mozzarella cheese I bought from Costco. I told him how much I paid per pound and he says out of the blue, “that’s 35 kronor per kilo”. I stared at him, calculated in my head, contradicted him and then ran to the computer to check out the currency rates. Turns out I was thinking price per pound and he was going by kilos. He was right and so was I.

It was so strange to realize that we are now doing a conversion game which involves converting U.S. currency to Swedish currency to determine if the prices are reasonable. And it isn’t only the money, I find myself using kilometers, Celsius, and kilograms.

I wonder if I’ll ever get this stuff straight in my head.

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Out of the mouths of babes

Or something like that. I don’t write about my kids a lot because, frankly, this blog is about me. It’s kind of my space to explore my thoughts, feelings and experiences. But this experience is too funny not to share.

 So today sons #1 and #2 were involved in a pretty intense argument over a dime. After several neverending rounds, it seemed that the dispute had been solved. We were sitting as a family eating ice cream. Seeing a moment when the kids were actually gathered together, sitting still, I grabbed my scriptures and started reading to them. We were talking about Joseph of Egypt and I reminded my boys that Joseph had been sold by his brothers to some slave traders. Dh and I had a side discussion about the amount, when DH, trying to “liken the scriptures” tells the boys “Joseph’s brothers sold him for a dime.” Like all attempts to moralize after a fight with scripture, the kids totally turned it on us. Son #2 says, “What did they buy with their dime?”

Dh and I exchanged glances. There were no words. Sigh.

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My favorite things

Since moving back to the U.S., I keep feeling like a foreigner in my own country. I have discovered some fabulous things that I do love deeply about my home country. So here is my list.

1. clorox disinfectant wipes: I love being able to quickly clean up the pee on the floor by the toilet.

2. Ziploc bags: ever tried to live without them? I have. . . it’s a tough thing. Thank heavens that I don’t have to do that again!

3. Trader Joe’s chips: went into my first Trader Joe’s last week. I bought some chips for my dh. Ended up eating a bunch. They were so good, and I’m not really a chip eater.

4. DVR: I love being able to record shows I want to watch and then watching them on my own time and fast forwarding through the commercials!

5. Snow on trees: okay so they definitely have snow on trees in Sweden. It’s just that we had this great snowstorm today and the trees are so pretty with snow.

6. Doctors: I hated dealing with the medical system in Sweden. It was so refreshing this week to call for an appointment for my kids and actually get it. (But I am sure I am going to hate the insurance system in the U.S.)

7. Granola bars: I like the ones with the chocolate chips.

 So what are your favorite things?

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The best laid plans. . .

I had plans yesterday. Big plans. I was going to tackle and conquer that mountain of laundry. Crumbs on the kitchen counters and table were cowering with dread as I faced them with a washcloth. I prepared to do battle with the sticky spots on the kitchen floor. My home was going to be an oasis of tidiness, serenity and order.

So that was the plan. But it sort of fell apart as son #3 lay helpless in my bed with 104 degree temperature. After getting him settled, I tried to tackle my plans when my baby kept dissolving in tears whenever I put her down on the floor or walked two feet away from her.

I kept rushing around, trying to cross tasks off my list, feeling more stressed every minute, when I had a bit of a prayerful epiphany. I was praying for help and that was when the most freeing thought came to me that my to-do list wasn’t important. I had kids that needed me more than we needed clean countertops.

And so, I carried my son downstairs and laid him on the couch. The baby followed me and we snuggled on the couch watching movies. I ordered pizza and we all relaxed.

Isn’t it marvelous how a change of perspective can really help?

Well it turns out that all four kids have strep. So I think so more lazy days are in order.

Sometimes the best laid plans aren’t so great after all.

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Ah, the joys of paperwork

Or not.

It seems it doesn’t matter if you live in Sweden or the U.S., bureaucracy sucks! In Sweden it sucks because you could really screw up something with a misunderstanding. In the U.S. it sucks because jumping through hoops to get your kids into school is awful.

On the bright side of things, I can read all of the labels at the grocery store and understand it. Okay, I could understand the labels in Sweden too, just not for the first year or so.

Driving is crazy too. After five years of using public transportation, I find that I am more comfortable with it than driving. But driving is what I gotta do, so I will get it figured out!

The landmarks are all funny as well. In Sweden, I took my cues from the churches that dotted the countryside, the ancient buildings, the sloping landscape. Here I am judging distances by lots of chain stores. Different. . .

 Okay, so this entry had not point. I just thought I should post. . .

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Deep in unpacking the boxes. . .

It’s actually pretty entertaining as I discover the things I treasured enough to keep. Among my treasures are boxes of journals I kept as a teenager and in the early days of marriage (before all four kids came along and I no longer have time to pour my heart out on paper–takes too long and I’m tired anyway). Needing a diversion from the piles of stuff screaming to be put away, I browsed through my journals and discovered the following entry:

January 5, 1992

I never leave my room undressed. I never leave my bed undressed. A home reflects on its owner.

That’s the entire entry. And I am left wondering why on earth I felt to write that particular entry. The entry comes from the journal that I had dedicated to writing about my Family History. I wrote the following as I dedicated it to the purpose of recording family history: “This is my Family History Journal. I know this will become a record of great value in time.”

I wonder why I thought my comments about leaving my bedroom and bed dressed were of such eternal significance? Perhaps I was tired or dealing with nasty teenage hormones. Or perhaps I ran out of my room undressed and surprised a visitor. I will never know. But at least the entry amused me 16 years later.

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