Category Archives: Family

In one week, you can…

Things are happening and time is flying. Maybe I am being secretly filmed for a game show on how many things you can do in a week or how many states you can find yourself in within the space of a few days. The past four days especially have been insane. From our home base in Maryland, we have been to Columbus (OH), Philadelphia, and DC within the last four days.

In Columbus for Simon's first football game... with true fan apparel, thanks to my Dad, a loyal Buckeyes fan.

We had planned the trip to Columbus with my parents way earlier this summer, before we had even moved, to go see my grandma. Then she got the chance to move to a nursing home close to my parents in Maryland, so we decided to go to Columbus anyway, revisit my dad’s childhood haunts, and go to an OSU game — Simon’s first football game.

We arrived home around 11 pm Sunday night, and on Monday we were on our way to Philadelphia to celebrate my sister’s birthday with my parents, my grandmother, Simon and me in the car. I brought my computer and my notes to finish up a freelance project on the ride and sent it five minutes after we had parked in the Italian market district. Then it was off to Distrito for a ridiculously good birthday dinner for Emily. (Happy 23rd, Emily!!)

Emily blows out the churro. (A couple of margaritas and a tequila tasting, the photography was a little blurrier than usual.)

We arrived home around 11 again and went straight to bed, where I had a fitful night of not sleeping because I was too worried that we weren’t going to wake up to our alarm the next morning. Why do we do that? I’m not the only one who does that. It’s strange. When the alarm finally started playing the “magical wake up” song or whatever our ridiculous alarm ring tone is called, I did something I have never done at an unholy hour of the morning: I bounced out of bed, turned off the alarm, and said, “Thank God that’s over!” because I was so sick of quietly trying to go back to sleep. Yes, I am a strange gal.

Tuesday was moving day and from my bizarre morning proclamation onward we were packing, lifting, loading, driving, unloading, lifting, dragging, unpacking and finally unwinding after two couches, one bed, one bike, and a Uhaul full of boxes. And a fruitless cross-city rush to a seminar at the Swedish Embassy for me, which was totally victorious for about thirty seconds. Got to the Embassy with five minutes to spare, knocked on the door to be let in, was promptly informed by the security guard that there were only five minutes left in the lecture but I could go down if I wanted. A valiant attempt sabotaged by my own incompetence. Oh man.

Now we’re back in Maryland for two days, returning the Uhaul and my parents’ car before heading back on Friday (and paying a visit to Ikea). Nothing like some good Swedish interior decorating…


Last news for now — the English part of my company website has now launched. I’d love it if you took a look! Stay tuned for the Swedish version if you know any Swedes who might be in need of some Business English consulting/translation services. :)


Fika with Farmor and Midsummer in Stockholm

Our Midsummer in Stockholm was really fun and far from the typical! I’m still working on the post for my blog at, but you can get a little advance peek at the Photo Blog because we met up with Lola and her family for a picnic just outside of Skansen!

Follow the link to see Scenes from Midsummer at Skansen.

Besides Simon’s successful interview at the US Embassy and a lovely Midsummer at Skansen, we had the chance to really spend time with Simon’s relatives in Stockholm, most of whom I’ve only met a few times. We stayed with Simon’s aunt and his grandmother came over twice while we were there to spend time with us over a fika.

Simon and his farmor (grandmother).

Simon’s grandmother is the kindest and most loving person I’ve ever met. No matter what we told her, her reaction was to praise us for how smart and capable we were, or how brave, or how exciting, or how wonderful… She would interrupt a thought to look at one of us and send us a kiss.

Simon said it best when he said that she is an Astrid Lindgren mother and grandmother.

Internationally, Astrid Lindgren is best known as the author of Pippi Longstocking and other children’s books, but she was also an activist for children’s rights and animal rights as well as against corporeal punishment and nuclear energy, plus an active participant in social critique through stories she published in prominent Swedish newspapers.

In Sweden, Astrid Lindgren is revered as the paradigm of unconditional motherly love. This particular quotation seems like a pretty good encapsulation of both her philosophy and Simon’s grandmother’s:

“Give the children love, more love and still more love – and the common sense will come by itself.”

Astrid Lindgren’s comment in a debate concerning children’s rights

I think we’ll get to see Simon’s grandmother again soon at the family’s summer cottage, and I’m really glad. I’ve married into a fantastic family, and the opportunities to hang out with the Stockholm residents come too far and few between.

Life in Sweden, as usual? | The Expat Blog

When I think about the events of 2012 so far, what strikes me most is how normal it all feels. A friend asked me recently when you stop being an expat and start being something else. I’m not sure that I have a good answer to that yet, but I think I’m on my way to whatever that is.

Everyday life doesn’t feel weird anymore. I have a full time job, friends (both Swedish and international), and a family, if not the one I was born to. I speak passable Swedish. I eat weird Swedish snacks, like leverpastej on Wasa crackers, without thinking twice.

When I think about my life here, I don’t measure successes and failures in terms of whether the move to Sweden “was worth it” anymore. It just is that way now.

Read the full post on the Expat Blog at

Biggest news of 2012 so far: the arrival of little Luna to our friends Sofie and Adam.

Luna is so adorable that after a couple of hours in her presence, I *almost* wanted a baby of my own. For the meantime, though, being Aunt Kate is perfect.

You’re Celebrating on the Wrong Day!—and other things you didn’t know about Christmas in Sweden

It’s the night before Christmas, and all through the mouse, not a beach chair is stirring, not even a louse.

Wait, what!?!

Celebrating Christmas abroad can make you feel like things are, well, a little topsy-turvy.

You may have read about the way people celebrate in the country you’re living in, or you might be going into the day free of any knowledge or misconceptions. Regardless of which category you fall under, there will come a point in the day when you look around you and think to yourself:

Now what exactly is going on here?

Last week, I was invited to be on a radio show with two Swedish comedians to talk about the differences between American and Swedish Christmas traditions as I perceived them. I had some thoughts at that time, but now that I’ve actually experienced my first Christmas in Sweden, I’m ready to tell it like it is.

Click here to read the full post on the Expat Blog at

“You’re Celebrating on the Wrong Day!—and other things you didn’t know about Christmas in Sweden.”

Below, I present to you, the ring dance. Very serious business.

Click here to read the full post on the Expat Blog at

My Swedish Christmas!

First Christmas in Sweden! I survived… and even better, although I missed my family and the traditions I grew up with, I had a really amazing time with my husband, his (our) family, and friends.

It felt a little odd to celebrate in the afternoon, and if I could compare it to anything, I would say that the way Simon’s family celebrated was pretty similar to an American Thanksgiving. Lots of food, lots of family, and—of course—the scheduled TV events. Only this time, instead of NFL and It’s a Wonderful Life, it was Kalle Anka and Karl-Bertil Johansson, two time-honored Swedish cartoons.

I’m glad I finally got the chance to experience Christmas in Sweden firsthand since I’ve been hearing and reading about it for so long, and this morning I got to debrief with Simon later about the highlights of the day. The thing I like talking about the most, though, is how we’ll be blending our traditions together and making our own new ones in the Christmasses to come… no matter where we are.

There will be lots more to come soon, but for now, here are a few photos from Julafton (Christmas Eve) and the days leading up to the holiday.

Hope you all are with loved ones, whether you’re at home or not, and are enjoying a little rest in the last few days left in 2011!

Happy One Month Anniversary to Us!

When I came home from work tonight, there were two boxes of pizza, bouquet of roses, and a new episode from one of the TV shows we’re watching downloaded and ready to be watched. What a man!

So very, very happy and so very, very in love.

Wishing everyone in the whole world all the best from Lund. :)


A Very Expat Thanksgiving | the Expat Blog

To read the whole post, follow this link to A Very Expat Thanksgiving on the Expat Blog at

In my opinion, it’s all about the stuffing.

Actually, it’s all about the stuffing in most Americans’ opinions and yet, paradoxically, the stuffing is the part that is least appreciated and/or understood by the Swedes I’ve shared Thanksgiving with.

You put it where? Really?! Why?

Yes, we put it there.

To read the whole post, follow this link to A Very Expat Thanksgiving on the Expat Blog at

Thanksgiving Greetings from Japan!

Beth, my youngest sister, is studying abroad in Japan right now, and she sent me a video of appropriate holiday phrases in Japanese. It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!!!

As she wrote:

happii sankusu gibingu! ima, toukyou de ito izu chauu taimu desu! dakara, motto pai kudasai!
happy thanksgiving! now, toukyou-in ‘it is chow time’ is! so, more pie please!

I got it all except the toukyo-in part. So cool!

I miss you, Beth!!! Stora kramar från Sverige!!! xoxoxoxo

The Thanksgiving Phone Call

My parents called and I got to talk to them, two of my cousins, and my aunt. I would have gotten to talk to my middle sister, but she was sleeping… she’s a Teach for America teacher, so I think that’s what she generally does when she’s home. Although my parents said that she made them some ridic whole wheat pancakes with buttermilk and nutmeg as well as an apple cider hot toddy last night, so it could be the exertion from cooking as well.

I have to give Silvia and Daisy, my two little cousins in the picture below, because they’re totally taking the pressure off me to have kids (not that there was any pressure in the first place, but still…). This still captures the moment at which my mom has just wrapped up a story recounting how the girls said she looks old because she has lines on her face and my dad looks old because he has a bald spot! The girls were giggling madly throughout the whole story. My dad (as you can see) retreated to a happy place. Probably one with sailboats.

All joking aside, my mom said that the girls have been totally helpful in the kitchen, so let that stand on record. And my parents seemed pretty amused by their straight talking.

Happy Thanksgiving to my wonderful family!! I wish I could be there, but having seen my parents so recently really takes the sting out of what would otherwise be a pretty sad day without my family. LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

My Big Fat Swedish Wedding! | The Expat Blog

Love of planning and unhurried, deliberate journey to the altar be damned. The big day came and went, and my Swede and I tied the knot!

Since then, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the wedding: what it was like, what we did, and so on. It was a long, exciting, joyful day full of activities… follow the link to read all about the day’s activities and look at more photos!

Right after the ceremony, so happy and finally relaxed! Photo: Elaine Hargrove

rain and cold
are not conducive to fun.