Sunday, December 16, 2012


I'm now gainfully employed! Well, starting on the 7th anyways. I'll be working as an "investigator" at the Swedish social security administration (Forsakringskassan). I'm really excited, but a little sad about being away from Inara full-time. Andrew also got extended until June at his job and passed his Swedish exam to move on to the next level. He'll work part-time and take classes part-time.

Happy times over here, just in time for Christmas and as an extra bonus neither one of us starts going to work until January.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Inside Snow

When it started snowing about a week or so ago, we brought some snow inside for Inara to play with:

She was still pretty standoffish, repeating "kall" (cold) and "usch" (yuck) over and over. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Poor Man's Merry-Go-Round

Who needs those fancy-shmancy amusement parks, anyhow?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spare the Child

In light of an image that's been circulating on facebook promoting spanking, I can't help but write a post on the subject. So, if you're looking for lighthearted news of Inara's latest and greatest, you might want to wait for the next post. 

The picture I mentioned suggests that a lack of spanking leads kids to become teenage delinquents. The reasoning behind this blows my mind; how does using violence on your children teach them not to use violence? Ok, I get that there is a difference between punching your kid in the throat and spanking, but a parent who punishes their child by using violence should not be surprised when the child uses violence in his or her daily interactions with others. Children who are spanked are not taught to use words to solve conflict and have to resort to the only method they know. 

I have also heard proponents of spanking say that this form of punishment should never be carried out in anger. This is probably a good idea, seeing that kids could get seriously hurt otherwise, but somehow I find it even more disturbing that a parent would in complete calm decide to start spanking. 

I was never spanked and I would never spank Inara. There are several reasons for this; I want our family to solve our problems by talking about them, I want her to know that nobody ever has the right to be violent (physically and emotionally) towards her, I feel that it's our obligation to collectively steer our children away from violence, and lastly, I could never freaking bring myself to hurt her. I feel that spanking would be a betrayal of trust between us and discourage us from forming the sort of relationship that I hope we will have. 

As a side note commenting on that particular image I've been mentioning, spanking has been banned in Sweden for over 30 years and in 2010 there were 12996 intentional homicides in the U.S. per 100 000 people, while that number was 91 per 100 000 people in Sweden the same year (numbers according to the U.N.). I realize this is highly unscientific and doesn't provide any evidence that spanking leads to homicides (the issues facing the U.S. are much more complex), but still sort of interesting.

Please feel free to offer up your thought on the subject, I'm always curious to hear other people's views on these things. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


It began snowing two days ago and hasn't really stopped since. Everything outside our window looks like a picture perfect postcard and I just hope it will last until Christmas. Inara was pretty excited when she looked outside in the morning, yelling: "bug!" at the top of her lungs and pointing at all the snowflakes coming down. Outside, her enthusiasm has been lukewarm. She seems to think it's unnecessarily difficult to walk and she doesn't like getting snow on her gloves. The word "kallt" (cold) comes up a lot. Here she is walking in the snow for the first time:

Friday, November 30, 2012


Inara enjoys painting and often says "mool?" (paint). A couple of days ago, I asked what she was painting and she said "pish" which is her word for fish. Is it just me, or do you also see a couple of sea creatures:

It started snowing a little bit, so we're heading out to explore. It's not sticking yet, but enough to catch on your tongue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Mountain too High

Inara loves the ipod, but there might be one thing that rivals this love: Climbing. Everything. All the time. Often her adventures are prefaced by a matter of fact statement of "klättra" (climb).
One of her favorite spots for the last week has been the pantry. She climbs a chair, takes everything out of the cupboard and then climbs in.

She never sits still for more than a few seconds, but why should she? Use your energy while you have it, I say. None of that left for her poor, old parents. 

As a bonus, she's has been exceedingly polite as of late. She says "tack, tack" (thanks, thanks) 50 to 100 times a day. She thanks us for holding the door, giving her things she wants, helping her and even says thank you when she gives us something. Although we have not trained her to do this, I was beaming after she thanked the swim teacher at the end of class. 

I've been meaning to post her preschool picture for a while, but haven't really been in the mood to blog lately. Here it is finally:
Otherwise everything's well with us. The last few weeks have mostly consisted of seeing lots of people and starting to get ready for Christmas. I had my second interview yesterday and it might take about a month before they get back to me, so I'm probably just going to try not to think about it too much until I know. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Call of the Wild

Inara loves the ipod. So much, in fact, that every morning she wakes Andrew up by taping his chest, saying: "ipa, ipa, ipa" until she gets what she wants. We limit her time with it, but I don't see anything wrong with her using it a little bit. Andrew has an app where she can scroll through a bunch of animals and touch the screen to hear their sounds. She's getting pretty good at imitating them and it's fun to see her attempt the blue whale or the rattle snake. It's really dificult to catch her on camera nowadays, because every time she sees it, she just wants to watch videos of herself on it. This time, I managed to sneak up on her while she was talking to granpa Barney on skype:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Challenges

The other day, I realized that Inara has entered a new stage in her development where she's able to do all kinds of big kid stuff, while she's not necessarily very aware of the importance of being careful with others and other people's belongings. I took her to an "open preschool" we hadn't been to for about 6 months and she was the oldest kid there. As I was sitting in the other room talking, I saw out of the corner of my eye how Inara was throwing a ball at a two month old laying on the floor. Luckily, the baby's mom was right there to catch it, but I ran in to explain to Inara that babies are too little to play and that you can't throw stuff around them etc. She listened (it seemed) and I got her interested in something else at the other end of the room. 

A little later, she went back over to where the baby was and chucked a plastic apple right at the baby's head. It bounced off with a little "clunk" and although she was fine, I felt really bad. I don't think Inara meant to be mean, she just wanted to play, but I again tried to explain and showed her that the baby was sad. She seemed to be taking it in, agreeing that throwing stuff at people was bad, but who knows. 

The point of this story is that it was the first time I had to protect other kids from her and the first time she really did something that was not ok. On top of it all, about ten other parents were watching me as I did so. All of them had younger babies, so I'm sure they were thinking that they were going to do it totally different when their kid reached Inara's age (or better yet, that their kid would never behave like that). So, an older Inara brings a whole new set of concerns, but also a lot of fun. I have to say this has been the best age so far. 

Inara's language has just exploded in the last few weeks and I can't list all the words she knows now. A couple of new ones sprout up every day and she's getting much better at mimicking. If I say: "Do you want a tomato?" she says "I want a tomato." If I say: "Is your carseat tight?" she says "is tight." She also had a few days when she, in her cutest voice, would say "mamma, pappa" about 300 times a day. Just as a statement of fact. 

Here's the little rascal:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Under the Surface

Another round of swimming lessons and here she is again, this time all by herself:

As usual, I'm a little irritated to have seen Christmas decorations in stores for weeks now, but I'm also very excited this year. I normally adopt a "take it or leave it" kind of an approach to the holidays, but this year, I'm just so happy for Inara and about all the fun we're going to have. I can't help but think about what she'll experience this Christmas and for years to come. I'm also super happy that she's going to get to see grandma and grandpa Kartchner in just a few weeks. Finally those faces she's got used to seeing on the computer screen will be here in real life. Like last year, we'll give people almost all homemade gifts. This year, I've got an early start on making everything, so hopefully I'll get it all done with some time to spare. 

My interview went pretty well, I think. I'll find out in a couple of weeks weather I get a second interview. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Inara Style

I guess this is what goes on at home while I'm at work:

In all honesty, she's watched this video way too much since BEFORE it became popular (like back when it only had 40 million views). She is a total hipster.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Good News

We're pretty excited to say that Andrew got a part time position at the university! This works out pretty well since he'll also be able to continue his Swedish classes part time.    

I'm borrowing most of these pictures from our friend Reagan who really made our impromptu Halloween celebration by bringing decorations and the cutest little gnome.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Stubborn Lion

I've been a little out of the blogosphere (what a funny word) the last week, since I've been kinda busy helping my dad move, working on my Swedish driver's license (a ridiculously long and expensive process), looking for jobs, working on craft stuff that I've been wanting to do for a long time, and of course, spending time with Inara. 

Today, I actually had the benefit of taking a lion to preschool. She wanted to wear her costume (which was part gift and part my mom's quick creation), but refused to have her picture taken. Since I have a personal rule of not messing with lions (especially not in the morning), no picture was taken. One of our friends and her son is coming over for some last minute pumpkin carving this afternoon, so hopefully I'll be able to sneak one then. 

Things are moving a little bit on the work front. Andrew might have a prospect, but it's not completely sure yet, so I can't say more right now.  I'm going to work extra at a hotel in town this weekend and we'll see where that leads. I also have an interview next week (please keep your fingers crossed) and I'm hoping to get another interview for a job that I really, really want. So, that's the update. Since I don't have any Halloween pictures yet, you'll have to make due with this taken the other day:

Monday, October 22, 2012


Inara, me and my mom spent a couple of hours by the ocean this afternoon. Inara quite enjoyed tossing rocks in the water and gazing out at the horizon.


What are you dreaming of, my sweetheart?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oh, the colors!

It's been an absolutely beautiful fall day here. I do believe the leaves are especially vibrant this year, but maybe I think that every year. I wish I would have brought my camera with me outside, but we had to make due with the ipod, not even getting close to capturing all the pretty.

Inara had just been scared out of her wits by a tiny dog in the first picture, thereby the apprehensive look. 

Speaking of cameras, on Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with photographer and writer Nina Ruthström, who I discovered through her blog just a few weeks ago. Since I've been wanting to learn more about photography for quite some time, I wrote her and asked if by chance she was in need of a photography assistant and she actually said that she might be. I guess you've got to ask to get answers!  She turned out not only to be an awesome photographer, but one of those people you feel completely at ease with right away. It's currently the low season for photography, but hopefully I'll get to come along on some jobs later on and in exchange I'll learn how she operates and perhaps some "tricks" of the trade.

On Friday, we visited some friends for fika and despite (or because of) two kids running around and trying to decide whether to speak English, Swedish, or Spanish it was a super nice little visit. 

These two meetings made me think about how important it is to spend your time with people who leave you energized and empowered and leave the rest by the wayside.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Oh, just remembered to post the link to Andrew's latest step in his climb to become a national celebrity. You can listen to him on the local radio here.

He's in the middle of the segment, about a minute and a half in.

What's next? Local TV, reality shows, a new hit single? Only time will tell.


When I walked into the kitchen yesterday evening, I saw this:

Other particularly humorous things she's doing nowadays:

- Fake snoring. She lays her head down anywhere and snores with a huge grin on her face. 
- Roaring. When asked what the lion or tiger says, she leans her head all the way back, opens her mouth wide and roars. Well, more like meows and it's probably one of the funniest and sweetest things I've seen. Andrew and I fell over laughing the first time she did it.

Also, I went to a follow-up meeting at her preschool last week and the teacher I talked to had only positive things to say about Inara (can't really imagine her saying anything negative about anyone, but still). She plays well with the others, but is very independent and when she makes up her mind to do something, she gets it done. Go Inara! She rarely cries during the day and if she does it's because she's hurt herself. The only thing she's had to work on is waiting her turn, which she's apparently gotten a lot better at. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shapes of a Mother

Mammaformer is the name of a website created by Anna who runs the blog Apan Satt i Granen, where mothers can see and share images of their bodies post pregnancy (keep in min that there obviously are a lot of nude women on this page, just in case that offends you). There's also a U.S. site called The Shape of a Mother and I'm not sure who inspired who, but they are both such great initiatives! 

I know that I’ve touched on this before, but it makes me so sad that many women have such a negative self image after having a baby. I’m definitely not entirely comfortable myself, but I have chosen to focus more on health than looks. I want to exercise, not in hopes of one day looking like a bikini model, but to be healthy enough that I’ll have the energy to keep up with Inara and do everything else that I want to do in life. I also hope to stay strong enough that I’ll one day be able to chase after her potential kids. I just wish that’s where we would focus our efforts. I don’t agree with letting yourself disintegrate just because you have kids, but I also want mothers to love themselves more. Instead of opting for plastic surgery, which is only a temporary external fix, let’s focus on our internal and emotional health.

Here’s a picture of what my body is capable of creating:

She's a very serious child. For about 15 seconds at a time. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Famous Again

As you may recall, Inara and I made fame in the local newspaper almost a year ago and now the turn has come to Andrew. He definitely outdid us though, appearing in no less than three pictures and getting quoted just as many times. The local newspaper, Gotlands Allehanda, did a story on a program he's participating in through his Swedish language courses. It's meant to welcome immigrants and teach them about Gotland and its history. A pretty neat incentive if you ask me.

They're asking Andrew what he thinks is the weirdest thing about Gotland. He answered that he thinks it's weird how people don't pick the apples and walnuts that grow everywhere and that he picks blue strawberries, blueberries, everything. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Inara: Putting the Poo in Pool Since 2011!

So today I went with Inara to her baby swim.  Ostensibly to have my picture taken under water with her.  I will refer you back to my prior post on Inara's nature as to why I don't put my mouth/eyes under the water in that pool. Maria strongly encouraged me to go though, so I went.

They took the pictures of Inara only (under the water) so things were looking good with a few minutes to go.  Then I started to notice a bit of a bubbling from Inara's vicinity. Then it stopped. We moved to an area near one of the pool walls and I checked her by giving her swim trunks a small squeeze. At that point I thought she'd turned into an octopus based on the "ink" stream that was released., but it was too chunky for ink.

Being an old pro at this I quickly left the pool before people would understand they were swimming in Inara's effluent and cleaned up my progeny.

There were at least two classes after ours. Another baby swim and then an old lady swim. They say the pool is cleaned by UV lights and as such don't have much in the way of chlorination. I would just like to note that I don't think there is enough UV light anywhere to deal with what I saw released into the pool today.

Also Maria wants me to mention this is Andrew.  Not someone else who takes our daughter random places and has experience cleaning up her poop blowouts. There are tons of people who do those things, I guess.

There is no shame in those eyes.


I can't help but brag a little. The article I co-wrote after my second Kenya trip has now been published in the Journal of African Ornithology! You can't read it here, but I doubt you would really want to unless you are very interested in conservation, ecology, or birds. Still, feels neat to see my name there. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Winter is Coming

Conversation tonight as we're getting ready to put Inara to bed:

Andrew: "Someone is sure playing their music loud tonight" (referring to the neighbors).
Me: "Hm. Well, today's..... Saturday? Isn't it?"
Andrew: "I think so. I guess that's the day when people with jobs feel that they need to celebrate."

We didn't find any walnuts, but Inara found a pretty neat throne.

Andrew instructed me to do this and told me it would be funny. Something about Game of thrones.

Beautiful Life

I read the other day that the my alma mater, University of Washington, is ranked 23rd in the world. Guess I'm still waiting to see that reflected in my career development. I didn't get that job I interviewed for, in case you're wondering.

But hey, the sun is shining, we're going walnut hunting this afternoon, Inara just went down for her nap and I plan to enjoy a cup of coffee shortly. Life's still beautiful. 

Besides, how can you not smile when this little person wakes you up by giving you huge, slobbery, snotty kisses, patting your head reassuringly. 


Friday, October 12, 2012


This is what I came home to yesterday. Not only do I have a husband who makes cookies, I have a husband who puts said cookies in a pretty jar. Is that awesome or what?

The No-Cry Method

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m always weary of giving parental advice, but I just feel that I want to share this. It’s a long post by the way.

I’m not sure I’m actually a believer of “methods” when it comes to parenting. I believe more in doing what feels right and what you think will be best for your child, yourself and your family. However, this is something that has worked great for us. I’m not saying this is for everyone and granted, I only have the experience of one child who has her own unique personality, but nonetheless I think it’s worth considering. Especially if the “crying-it-out” method doesn’t feel right for you. Personally, it would make me physically ill to listen to Inara cry if there was something I could do to help her. But that’s just how I feel.

This is what we have done since the day she was born (with a few tweaks):

She goes to bed at the same time every night (except on the rare occasion that we’ve brought her with us to a dinner or if we’re travelling). Now that she’s older, she helps clean up her toys at 6.45, has some porridge, washes her face and hands (we’ve given up on brushing her teeth for now) and picks a couple of books to read before bed. When she was younger, I would nurse her and then we would interact with her for about 15 minutes before starting the bedtime routine. We change her diaper and put her pajamas on while winding down with a bedtime song (the same one every night but Andrew has a different song). We then read her books and turn the light in the room off, keeping the one in the hallway on.

We lay her on our bed and quietly sing another song (also the same one every night), get in really close to her face, pet her hair and snuggle her. At this point, she usually looks pretty sleepy, but when we put her in her crib, she’s still awake. I tell her goodnight and walk out of the room. Nowadays she usually just falls asleep without as much as a peep, but when she was younger she would sometimes cry out just as we left. We then go right back in, i.e. don’t let her cry at all, and tell her in a gentle, but firm, voice to lay down if she’s standing, pat her back a few times a go: “Shh.” Then we walk out. If she cries again, we do the same thing until she falls asleep. Sometimes it took up to ten times, but usually a few was enough.

The way I see it, it creates a great sense of security for her. Since small babies can’t use words, it’s like she says “hey, are you there?” when she first cries out. When we come in, we are responding to her question by saying, “yes, we’re right here.” Because of this, she actually likes her bed and rarely fusses about going to sleep. I also feel that I want her to know that we listen to her and that there is no need to yell. Naturally, there have been a times that she’s cried really hard after we put her down, probably due to new teeth or a belly ache. Then, it wasn’t a matter of “hey, are you there?”, it was “something is wrong! Help me!”. Then we pick her up, rock her and try to calm her down. This has never seemed to make her think that she should be rocked to sleep the next night.

Even though she sleeps through the night now, she's had some rough patches of waking up a lot later in the night, which is sometimes difficult. We try to pick her up for a little while and then put her back, but if we have to do that too many times, we lay down next to her in our bed. Neither one of us have the energy to keep going after a little while. The problem is that I don’t sleep well when she’s squirming around, laying on my head and twirling my hair. In other words, the nights are not always perfect, but I’m very happy about the bedtime routine and recommend it. If anyone uses a similar method, I would love to hear about it and also get tips on how to use the same philosophy during the night.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I often get the feeling that I’m not where I should be. Not in terms of a career, that’s a whole different matter, but in a more geographical sense. I love the island, but I can’t help but think about all those amazing, wonderful and beautiful mountaintops, beaches and forests out there that I could be discovering right now. My wise friend Ragnhild put it really well when she said that life's sometimes just like an endless Tuesday. I like my life, but it seems as if I’m just shuffling around in one spot and that there is more to be had. I want to live in such a way that I get to spend more time with my family than away from them, more time having fun than having obligations, and even though it's important to me to know about and take action when it comes to injustice and suffering, I want more time enjoying the beauty of the world than worrying about the negative and evil. I wonder if anyone feels that they are completely comfortable where they are at. If so, I would be very curious to find out how they got there.