Sarah received a typical Swedish box of chocolate from her great aunt Helene during our vacation. She has been fascinated by this box of chocolate containing 52 pieces of chocolate. It contains everything from milk to dark chocolate, and everything from nut truffle to marzipan. She has touched the box, looked at the pictures of the different pieces, wondering how each of them will taste. There are two layers in the chocolate box, so you know when you have finished the first layer that you can start indulging once again!
As Sarah explained the different choices to her dad, and what would be her first pick in the chocolate box, we started to think back on our memorable week in Stockholm as a box of chocolate.
Both Sarah and I really loved being surrounded by the Swedish language for two full weeks. I loved to hear new vocabulary, I loved to speak the language all the time, and I loved stocking up on Swedish pocket books in the bookstore. Most of all I loved that Sarah really got into speaking Swedish after about a week, and we will do our best to really get Sarah to continue enjoying her Swedish as she is back in Denver again. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Friends across languages
It’s great to see kids play across cultures and languages. There are no barriers when it comes to play. It was really fun to see evolving friendships between Sarah and Swedish friends and relatives.
I loved sleeping in! I realized that neither Sarah or I ever do that. Most mornings I am always up no later than 6 am to start my day. It was nice to get a break from morning medications, pulmonary toileting, and antibiotics nebulizer treatments, and simply sleep as long as we wanted.
The City of Stockholm is situated on fourteen islands and on the banks to the archipelago where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. The archipelago itself contains of 24,000 islands. We made it a priority to visit one of the thousand islands. There is nothing like taking a ferry from the middle of the city out to a little island. We decided to visit Fjäderholmarna this time, which is only about 30 minutes from the city. We enjoyed some smoked shrimps and mackerel, and Sarah took a dip in the water! She also loved collecting sea glass in all kinds of colors. Spending the day with the good old friends made the day extra special.
Mosebacke Torg is a beautiful spot in the city center where you have beautiful views of the city. In addition, you have a delicious brunch with everything from herring, Swedish sausages, breads, fruit pies, and everything in between. The best part of Mosebacke was to share the morning with good food, live jazz music, and old friends. Some I hadn’t seen in six years or longer. We chatted, and caught up on our lives. A memorable morning, and definitely a place to come back to.
Swedes are very particular about “fika”. You need a friend (or two), some coffee or tea, and something sweet to nibble on. Sarah really got the hang of it, and saw it as the perfect opportunity to try different kinds of Swedish pastry. We did have a feast, and her favorite is “chokladboll”, chocolate ball.
I still very much have a sweet tooth. In Sweden, they have something called lösgodis, where you buy your candy by the kilo. You have a wide selection of different candies – chocolate, licorice, sweet, and sour – and you pick and choose and fill up your bag to your own desire. Sarah and I made it a daily routine to pick up some lösgodis. Our friends also made sure that they had stocked up on lösgodis when we came over for dinner! I can’t think of a better dessert!
We got to spend time with my mom’s best friend and her husband this past week. Amanda has always made an effort to stay in touch with me after my mom passed away 21 years ago. She has also established a relationship with Sarah through regular mail throughout the years, so it was great for them to meet for the first time since Sarah’s baptism when she was only a few months old. Amanda and her husband John gave me a stuffed animal, a bird called Ludvig, when I moved in with Joakim 17 years ago. Ludvig is now sitting on Sarah’s bed here in Denver. Sarah got to meet Ludvig’s cousin when she was in Stockholm, and that was a fun encounter!
Tea on the balcony
I got to spend a lot of time with my little sister Hanna. My dad and her followed us on our journey from Oslo to Vojmån to Stockholm. We got to catch up once again, and one of my favorite moments was when we had tea on my cousin’s balcony one evening. It is this tiny balcony, but we brought out our tea cups, and it was the perfect spot for good conversations.
My old apartment
My dear uncle Matti has an apartment in the middle of Stockholm, but since he lives in Helsinki, Finland, the grandkids have all rented this apartment over the years. It was my first apartment when I moved away from home. I have many fond memories from this apartment. My sister currently lives in his apartment, and I got to visit with her, and it was great to sit at the table once again having lunch. One of the best parts of this place except it being in the middle of Stockholm is that it has this yard in between all the apartments. People leave their apartments, and bring their cup of coffee or glass of wine out in the yard, and simply chat with their neighbors. What a nice concept in a big city! I got to enjoy some time with Jenny in this yard, and very much enjoyed it.
One of the great things in Stockholm is that you can walk to wherever you want to go. Sarah and I went to pick up warm bread from a bakery several mornings as the coffee was brewing in the apartment. That brought back many nice memories from living in this city.
Finnish church and heritage
I am Swedish, but have strong roots from both Germany and Finland. My mom was born in Finland, and came to Sweden by the end of the Second World War. She told me many stories from her first time in Sweden as a foreigner. I had no idea that I would put myself into her shoes, and live abroad later in life. I was brought up with the opinion that Finns were just a tiny touch better than Swedes. My grandma was an expert on pointing out the difference between Finns and Swedes, and the Finns always won! Somehow something stuck with me, so when it was time to pick the church for Joakim and me to get married, the natural choice was the Finnish church where my parents and grandparents got married. We later baptized Sarah in the Finnish church, and said our final farewell to my grandma in this beautiful little church. It was great to show Sarah this tiny little church opposite the large royal castle in Stockholm, and tell her our family history related to this church. We also lit a candle for our friend Samantha who passed away a year ago on this day.
Best of all the chocolate pieces was to see my family once again. I got to spend quite a bit of time with my closest family. They followed us from Norway to Vojmån to Stockholm. It was a treat to spend so much time with my dad. I also got to see uncles, aunts, cousins, and my great aunt. For the same reason my family made the trip very special, my family here in Denver made it really nice to be home again. We sure missed Jacob and Joakim tons, and are very happy to be back home with them again. Jacob did perfectly ok the whole time we were gone. Maybe he tried to tell us that it is ok for us to once in a while go out and explore the world?