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.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Don't Say No

I went to a meeting at Inara's preschool tonight thinking that it would just be a review of what the kids have been doing, but it turned out to be more of a parenting class. I was really pleased because the speaker brought up some points that I've been reading about, but still had a bit of a hard time picturing. 

She primarily talked about the importance of positive reinforcement and that the more you acknowledge the good things your child does, the less you have to use negative words, such as "no". It's so easy to always recognize bad behavior and take the good behavior for granted, but it can prevent many "less desirable" acts to let the kid know when they do something well. 

What I was really interested in, was when she discussed the difference between giving actual praise, such as "what a pretty picture" vs. offering positive reinforcement by saying something like: "I see that you've used lots of different colors in this picture and look at that long line over in the corner!" The former is ok in small doses, but makes the child feel as if he or she is always judged based on the quality of their work, while the second gives them a deeper sense that their parents are interested in what they are doing regardless of whether it's pretty or not and can simply enjoy the activity. It's a great way to build self confidence. 

It's also important to take time to sit down and pay 100 percent attention to your child for at least a little while everyday. If you want to read the newspaper, explain that to the kid, finish and then sit down with them. Doing both (as you notice pretty quickly) just isn't worth it for either one of you.

Finally, she touched on how it's better to express your feelings in terms of "I" when setting boundaries. An example would be: "I feel scared that you're going to fall down that tree if you climb up it, so I don't want you to do it."

I think that we use all of this when we're parenting, but that I would like to get much better at. Especially when it comes to giving positive reinforcement without praise. Lately, I've had an issue with Inara hitting me when she's tired and doesn't know what else to do. She's also been putting up a huge fight when getting dressed, so those are things to work on while keeping all this in mind. 

I would love to read what your thoughts are on this.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


This just melts my heart:

Monday, October 8, 2012


Inara really enjoys washing her own face and hands. She'll do it for 15 minutes straight and gets very upset if you suggest she's done.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I’m on my way back to the island. The interview went ok. Not a catastrophe and not a shoe in. On the plus side was that the interviewer was from the island and on the minus side that she wasn’t expecting me. Turns out she didn’t ever get my email confirming that I would be there and because I didn’t want to be a pest, I didn’t double check. So, I got there at 1.00 pm and rescheduled for 5.00 pm. Although it offered an opportunity to see my beloved cousin Cajsa for a little while, it also gave me a chance to get super nervous. I’ll find out how it went at the beginning of the week. 

Oh, and she asked me what animal I would be. I said orca whale. Not sure if that was good or bad.

Other than that I had a great trip. I stayed with my friend Ragnhild and her son, saw a couple of other old friends for dinner and two cousins separately. It was really strange to be away from Inara for so long for the first time ever. I missed her terribly, but also enjoyed just being me for a few days. Not just somebody’s mom. It’s such a large part of my identity and I think it’s good to be reminded of who else I am. When I talked to Inara on the phone, she actually said "kolla" (check it out) several times, rather than just breathing into the receiver and pressing random keys.

Unfortunately, the trip ended on an extremely negative note. As I was waiting for the bus to the boat, I realized that I wasn’t wearing my ring. I felt sick. It’s like losing your wallet times ten. I knew I had it at the coffee shop I was at last, but they hadn’t seen it. This meant that I had lost it either on the street, or in the subway. Gone forever in other words. I’ve been really mad at myself since I knew it was too big and I shouldn’t have worn it anymore.

After a few hours of mourning, I'm trying to focus on the positive. It's pretty difficult, but there is something. When I told the people I saw while I was there, they all rallied around me and asked what they could do to help find it. It’s amazing to know that I have such great friends and family. The same thing happened when I found out on short notice that I was going to Stockholm. Andrew, my mom, my friend and even a lady who hemmed my pants two hours before I needed to go, all made my trip possible.

I didn’t have my camera and I’m the owner of a dumb phone (about the only one left in this hemisphere), so I don’t have any pictures from the trip. Instead, I’ll give you this very sentimental shot:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

This Just In!

Last night, I got an email about an interview in Stockholm tomorrow, so here I am on the boat. Please keep all fingers and toes crossed for me!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


If the weather is nice (not raining), we usually spend the afternoon at a nearby park.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Orchard Dreams

The finished product of our cider making efforts. Here's some of the non-alcoholic variety:

I also decided to dry some apples, which I've only done in a dehydrator before, so we'll see how it works out. Inara seemed to think it was pretty interesting.

We've pretty much realized that we need to buy an orchard and start our own cidery. So, if anyone has one for sale, let us know. Cheap is a definite plus.

I also may have gotten a part time job which will turn into a full time position early next year. I'll give some more information soon, as I'm still considering my options.