When the Clock Strikes…

When the Clock Strikes…

 What happens in your house when the clock strikes twelve on Halloween?  Did you like this story? If you want to know when a hard copy is published (most likely in board book format) then sign up here and I'll let you know. @import url(https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Open+Sans:400,400italic,700,700italic);/* LOADER */ .ml-form-embedSubmitLoad { display: inline-block; width: 20px; height: 20px; } .ml-form-embedSubmitLoad:after { content: " "; display: block; width: 11px; height: 11px; margin: 1px; border-radius: 50%; border: 4px solid #fff; border-color: #ffffff #ffffff #ffffff transparent; animation: ml-form-embedSubmitLoad 1.2s linear infinite; } @keyframes ml-form-embedSubmitLoad { 0% { transform: rotate(0deg); } 100% { transform: rotate(360deg); } } ...
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This Year’s Midsummer Actually Falls Mid-Summer

This Year’s Midsummer Actually Falls Mid-Summer

Midsommar is usually a bitter-sweet celebration for Swedes. The weather is just starting to warm up and it finally starts to feel like summer weather after a long May of cold, dreary rain with average temperatures in the 6-11 C (43-52 F) range.What's worse is that every Swede you talk to has some sort of Farmer's Almanac approach of predicting how nice or cold a summer will be based on the weather experienced during the winter. How that makes any sense at all is beyond my comprehension."Well, if we have a really hard winter, we'll have a nice summer. If we have a warm winter, the summer will be bad."My eyes narrow skeptically. Umm...ok.Swedish weather is like playing roulette. You look for patterns but there are none. Something has to make sense but it doesn't.The events from the past are totally independent from the events in the future. There is zero influence between summer and winter weather but nonetheless, Swedes need to hang...
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Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Växtförsäljning’s Christmas Market Review

Don't try to say "växtförsäljning" three times fast unless you are from a Scandinavian country or unless you want a tongue twister challenge.Växtförsäljning translates simply into "plant nursery" and our local nursery sells wonderful plants, bushes, and trees during the year and converts into a Yuletide haven during the third Advent weekend.This Christmas Market was the last in our Christmas Market Marathon and the kids were feeling the holiday fatigue. Too much Christmas cheer, perhaps? You know it's been a few long weeks in a row when the promise of warm waffles and pony rides stirs little excitement in this bunch.But they dug deep and somehow mustered the strength in their little bodies to hop on a cute pony and ride around a few laps.The restaurant/cafe on site at Växtförsäljning is one of those hidden gems that not many people know about in our sleepy town of Åkersberga. I know that because whenever I head there for a casual lunch...
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The Gävle Goat Survives

The Gävle Goat Survives

Gävle, Sweden is famous for this oversized straw goat. It's only famous because vandals burn it down every year much to the sadness of the townspeople of Gävle.Or are they really sad when the goat burns down? It is hard to tell, exactly, because on one hand, the goat is a main tourist attraction. On the other hand, they sang fire-related "burn it down" songs during the opening ceremony which left this tourist feeling a bit conflicted.So...do they want it burned down or not?My guess is, they want to keep the goat for as long as possible but it is somewhat of a foregone conclusion that the goat will eventually meet it's fiery fate.We traveled the two hours to Gävle and saw this big goat for ourselves. Frankly, it's not much to write home about. The town of Gävle itself is somewhat of a normal place, which means it's kind of boring.It's a place where people live and work—the only...
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My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

My Review of Steninge Slott’s Christmas Market

Steninge Slott's Julmarknad is always a fun trip out to Sigtuna, Sweden.The Christmas market is housed in the stone barn behind the 17th Century palace and the interior is stunning.The vaulted ceilings of the barn give it an airy atmosphere and illuminated advent stars hang from the ceiling begging to go home with you.Our favorite purchases usually involve buying a paper sack of candied almonds and some warm glögg while we walk around the property among the tree-lined pathways.However, Steninge Slott's rustic charm is undergoing a bit of a renovation and the grounds are currently under construction with new housing development on the property.No longer do you feel like you are on a large estate property but now you feel a bit like you're intruding on people's backyard.Another change from years past is that Steninge Slott now sells furniture and home decorations year round. The inventory for this new business has pushed the crafts and local vendors who participate...
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Celebrating Holidays When Living Abroad

Celebrating Holidays When Living Abroad

Holidays have a special place in our hearts. We grow up with certain traditions—some wacky, some practical, and some that sound crazy when we try to explain them to outsiders. Regardless of how we choose to celebrate our special holidays, celebrating a special occasion outside of the country of origin may make things a bit more complicated.For one, there are no seasonal reminders that the holiday is approaching. As Sundae mentions in our podcast discussion, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, there are no changing colors of the leaves to indicate the traditional autumn season is upon us. It can create some last minute scrambling if you have to source food or decorations or have to make things from scratch, as one often has to.We have dropped many US traditions except for a few—Thanksgiving being the one that we've held onto the tightest. Thanksgiving isn't celebrated in Sweden like it is in the US—or at all, really. Technically Tacksgiving is a day...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves.The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts.Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids OnlyIt's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides.The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am."You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions. Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour.Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
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Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Celebrating A Lagom Swedish National Day

Blue skies, swings hanging beneath leafy trees, blooming flowers, and a bright sun with a slight breeze—the setting was perfect for a typical Swedish holiday. The temperature was lagom—not too hot, not too cold—and the sun felt just right against our sunscreened, sunglassed faces.All of the doors to the house were open allowing all seven children and the breeze to freely circulate. Adults chatted in the white sunlit spacious kitchen as they prepared the food. A Swedish pop music Spotify playlist played in the background. Outside, the grill was fired up with cheeseburgers and hot dogs sizzling.  This year, Swedish National Day had extra special meaning for us as newly minted Swedish citizens. In comparison to US citizenship, Swedish citizenship had been very easy to acquire.I'd say, given our limited time (five years isn't that long), we deserve a B-B+ in integration. There's still room for improvement, but we're doing a good job. But we know that some things we can only learn with...
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Here Come the Easter Witches

Here Come the Easter Witches

When you think about Easter, you immediately think "witch."No?Me neither.Probably the funniest Scandinavian tradition is the Easter witch. In Sweden and Finland—young children hit the streets the Thursday before Easter dressed as peasants (or in their finest witchy costumes) that their parents bought during the post-Halloween sales the year before. Is this like Halloween in the spring?Yes.Kids make handmade Glad Påsk cards (Happy Easter) and hand them out door to door in exchange for candy.This trick-or-treating type activity was new to me and caught me off guard when we first moved to Sweden. I heard tiny, gentle knocks on my door and not surprisingly, didn't happen to have any loose candy in the house to hand out. Having to improvise, I gave a few kronor as payment to each disappointed child.Don't be like Lisa. Be prepared and always have loose candy around your house at all times.Last year, I swore I was going to get it right. After years of forgetting...
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