I miss hearing the call to prayer before sunrise every morning, the sunshine and the small winding roads in the old city. But I don't miss the olives for breakfast. See my blog entry
The cruise from Stockholm was the highlight. Breathtaking, really. We found Helsinki to be down-to-earth, friendly and a just-right size. See my blog entry
Why on Earth did it take me so long to visit London?! Rivals Paris for best city in Europe. Avoid Oxford Street and Covent Garden, and head to Chelsea and Holborn. See my blog entry
It was my third trip to Paris, but our first while living in Sweden. And, more significantly, our first with a baby in tow. Metro ≠ baby friendly. Centre Pompidou = 10x more fun with a little one. See my blog entry.
bergen and oslo, norway
Think Colorado. Flooded. Oslo is a refreshing little city and the fjords offered beautiful views in all directions. Not love, love. But definitely like, like. See my blog entry.
prague, czech republic
Yes, it has beautiful architecture. But no soul. Skip it and go to Budapest instead.
We only spent a night here, but I could tell immediately that this was a city I could live in. Hope we can get back there sometime soon. Loved the new architecture, friendly people and the gigantic, wooded park.
A great place to relax, see endless fields of daisies, drink sangria and be surrounded by the smell of orange blossoms. See my blog entry.
amsterdam and delft
Amsterdam was one of our favorite European cities and Delft is a little gem you wish you could fit in your pocket and take home. Loved the individual style and easy-going nature of the people. See my blog entry.
Hurry, it's already been discovered. Wonderful cheap food and an outdoorsy mentality. See my blog entry.
Reminds us of home. Really relaxing and laid back. See my blog entry.
hong kong and tai pei
Super friendly people and so romantic. See my blog entry.
Loved Villefranche and the whole area east of Nice. See my blog entry.
Loved the tapas and eating paella on the beach. See my blog entry.
In November 2005, my husband and I moved to Älmhult, Sweden, for my dream job. Five years later, our little family of three moved back. Except, back turned out to be a brand new place called Portland.
One of our neighbors is a backyard beekeeper. He has 5 colonies. One of those colonies decided to escape to the top of another neighbor's tree. It was big news on our block yesterday.
Sophie got to see the swarm up close through some fancy binoculars/telescope that a neighbor set up, and she tasted honey straight from their honeycomb. We had to leave the excitement to go pick up Mathis from preschool. When we got back, Sophie said she had to do something important in the house. I thought she had to go to the bathroom.
While I showed Mathis the bees, Sophie came running out of the house with this very simple drawing that showed how the problem needed to be solved (the bees flying back into their bee hive box). She held it up to the tree so the bees could see it. Such a simple little thing, but it made it one of those my-daughter-is-amazing-and-our-neighbors-are-awesome kind of days.
Also, sunny summer weather is magic.
**Update: Our neighbor gave Sophie a piece of honeycomb to bring into class, and she gave a presentation about the bees. Sophie said her classmates had lots of questions at the end. I told her that was a sign she gave a great talk. :)
I get it now. Why everyone around here has been to Hawaii (and Maui in particular) and keeps going back. Now that we're West Coasters, we decided to do what West Coasters do and get a taste of paradise ourselves. So, right in the middle of a wicked ice storm, and Portland's biggest snowstorm in 10 years or something, we escaped!
Escape indeed. It was 10 days of wonderfulness on Maui's southern coast. With 500 pictures taken and many memorable moments, I'll spare you ALL the details and boil it down to 20-something pictures and a top 10 list:
1. It was like a sibling hugfest the whole time. I love how much they bonded.
2. It is warm enough to wear nothing more than a bathing suit from dawn to dusk.
3. A mama and baby whale hung out right by the side of our whale watching boat. Brought tears to my eyes.
4. Lewis and I took turns stand-up paddle boarding out over the reef. We looked down to see fish swimming around the coral, and we both ran into sea turtles swimming on the surface. No sharks, thank goodness. (We found out later that a shark had bitten into a paddle board the day we arrived.)
5. Hearing the ocean while we slept. Eating dinner on our lanai while watching whales jump was pretty awesome, too.
6. Plumeria. It's my new favorite flower. Leis smell even more amazing than they look.
7. Makena Beach and Golf Resort swept us off our feet the moment we arrived. The nicest place we've ever stayed (we loved the whole Wailea area, too). My favorite beach was Keawakapu because it was beautiful and the waves were mellow. We spent the majority of our vacation at a condo in Kihei, but we continued to spend our days in Makena/Wailea. Can we retire there?!
8. Mango daiquiris. What a wonderful treat at Pacific 'O in Lahaina. I waited until our last day in Hawaii to have one. Why did I want so long?!
9. Splashing in the waves with Sophie. It was nice to be "fun mom." I don't think I ever turned down an invitation from her to play in the water. Well, maybe once when I just wanted a few minutes to bask in the sun. :)
This blog may not show much of a glimpse into our everyday life anymore, but it does show how pathetically far behind I am when it comes to documenting important milestones. It's proof that I'm just barely holding everything together!
Our little Swede turned 6 on January 25. And here I am on February 25 writing about it.
Despite a bout of bronchitis, our girl had a pretty great day surrounded by her new Kindergarten friends. And I survived hosting the princessy event, complete with handmade lace crowns (thanks, Pinterest).
One day in the Fall, one of the moms from Sophie's class that I'm friends with asked me if I was a runner. "No. I used to be." Right around that time, I went back to UVA for a sports reunion weekend (I ran track at UVA). These two moments fueled kind of a crazy idea: to return to Track & Field and compete in Masters Track events.
My crazy training plan started in early November. I've been working with Nike since the summer, so I joined the Nike Track team on Tuesdays for a track workout. Although I felt incredibly out of shape and slow after 20+ years of no real running, it felt great! I jumped back in with both feet, and quickly developed an overuse injury in my left ankle. Then I got back on track and tweaked my hamstring racing my husband on the beach. I started to wonder if this was such a great idea.
On Tuesday, that thought reverberated through my whole body as I prepared for my first track race in 21 years, and the first time racing the 300-meter dash in probably more like 25 years. Yet, although I was terrified, I was also incredibly curious. What would it be like after all these years? How could I sprint after all these years? What are the kids wearing these days?
I walked into the University of Portland's Chiles Center for its open track event, Tuesday Night at the Races, to familiar sights, smells and sounds. Sports cream. Warm-up routines. Start guns going off. It all came back, except I felt clueless. When should I start warming up? Should I start in blocks or standing? At age 43, I had no team or track coach to tell me what to do. So my warm-up was like a combination of running drills and nervous pacing.
Then it was my time to run. The women's 300m was divided into 5 or 6 heats, and I was seeded in heat 3. I looked around, and I was the only one over the age of 20. I wonder if these high schoolers knew they were racing against a mom of two!
The gun went off, and I made up the stagger pretty quickly and was in the lead. I had no idea how far ahead I was. I just ran my mama butt off and hoped I could keep it up and cross the finish line first. And I did! I felt like a grey-haired badass. My time of 49.23 placed me somewhere in the middle of the pack.
I didn't really care how I placed. I did it. I didn't chicken out. I didn't pull a hamstring. I didn't chicken out! And it was a lot of fun to boot.
Maybe I'll wait to color my greys until after the next meet.