the journal of an american au-pair in sweden.
  • Oh Morning…

    This is probably totally inappropriate, but I laughed so, so hard I wanted to share with you all.. whoever you are.

    'M' woke up this morning and went immediately into the bathroom. After realizing she'd been in there for quite awhile with the door locked and sink running, I decided to check on her. It took her awhile to get the courage to unlock the door, but once she did, I saw this sight:

    When I asked her why she did that, she said, “I wanted to look like Mommy at school today but I can’t do it like her.” I just have to say thank goodness for my ‘magic’ face wipes…. 

    Happy Wednesday, everyone!

  • Oh hey… There is love in this house after all.

  • Playtime. #threekids

  • She was so impressed with my braiding skills this morning. I think it was more Hello Kitty than me… ;)

  • Sometimes Life Gives You Lemons…

    I would never want to paint an untrue picture of what my life is like, so this post is about a bad day. This one to be exact. This morning was ugly and I’m going to write about it. I’m not here to ruin your day, but I’ve had a less-than-perfect one and I’m here to vent.

    The littlest has been home from school since he was sent home Monday with goopey eyes. It’s just a cold- nothing major, but he’s not allowed back until it clears up in case it’s contagious. He’s always a happy-go-lucky kid and never really cries or fusses at all, even amidst the sickness he’s fighting off. I thank God every day for that.

    The girls on the other hand are driving me straight b o n k e r s this week. They are 3.5 and almost 5 and they are at ages where everything is a competition. One can’t have the pink bowl without the other getting upset… One can’t have more strawberry yogurt than the other… One can’t wear the other’s favorite dress… One can’t have cuddle time with mommy or daddy without the other screaming and throwing a fit… & the list goes on and on.

    If you’re a parent I’m sure you’ve experienced similar situations with your kids and if you’re not a parent but are planning to have kids someday… get ready. I had absolutely NO IDEA what I was getting into by signing up to be an au-pair. While I’m not TECHNICALLY a parent, I’m getting a very big taste of what parenthood is like and let’s just say I’m glad this is a test run.

    Back to the girls: This morning, since D was still sick, my host dad stayed home to be with him (I had class today). This meant that our normal morning routine was thrown off. I gave them more time to wake up since I had a partner-in-crime, Dad, to help out. This was a bad idea. Both girls fought tooth and nail on what they were going to wear to school. A simple selection turned into a kicking and screaming match. Literal kicking. and. screaming.

    M, the oldest, refuses on most days to wear anything but a dress. Normally I don’t fight her, but because today was her field trip, I told her she must wear pants. That was not a popular suggestion. She proceeded to stomp her feet, cross her arms and tell me frankly, “You’re not my mom… OR my boss and so I can do what I WANT!”

    *Cue the steam from my ears.*

    I tried and tried and tried again to speak to her in a calm and collected voice and explain to her why she needed to wear pants. It went nowhere.

    Ironically, I had a long talk with God last night about patience and I asked him for some extra because this week has been rough in general. He must be trying to show me something… They say The Lord only gives you what you can handle… right? He must think I’m SuperWoman. NEWSFLASH!

    For fear of boring you to death with a play-by-play of my morning, I’ll sum it up with this: I ended up leaving Dad to finish up because I was going to be late for class, rushing out the door *steam still billowing* and heading to class with a less than chipper attitude.

    All day I’ve been thinking about this. I’ll admit I’ve let it eat at me a bit, but I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that’s making the girls act out in this way. I’ve learned that we (humans) are simple creatures. When we act out in irrational ways, it’s because we are in need of something we are not getting. Hmmm.. 

    My only thought is that they are missing alone time with their parents. I was able to talk to their Dad tonight. We shared our feelings about this morning and I shared my theory. They are planning a trip to grandma’s country house this weekend as a family (sans me) so I hope that this is the magic medicine those girls need to get everything put back into working order. If you’re reading this please pray on this. Pray that Monday morning not only starts a new week, but new attitudes as well.

    I’m not asking for perfect, I’m just asking for happy.

    {C}

  • Kräftskiva 2014

    Monday has arrived again… only not as sunny as last week. The bleak weather calls for some hot tea and a blanket, but first I want to share a bit about my kräftskiva experience from last night. {Click on the word to learn more about it.}

    What made this event so special was that it was hosted by the Bååthe’s in Saltsjö-Dunväs. My family rented their home when we lived here from 2006-2008, so it was like deja-vú going back and seeing my old Swedish neighborhood.

    I was so excited when they invited me to share in one of the most Swedish of Swedish traditions… “the crayfish party.” For the last 5 years in Indiana since we moved back home my parents have hosted a kräftskiva for the Swedish community living in Columbus so the concept is not new to me. I’ve seen crayfish before, but have to admit to all of you that last night was the first time I’ve ever actually eaten one.

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    {The table… set and designed by the Bååthe boys.}

    I felt comfort in the fact that I was not the only newbie. The Bååthe’s had invited two Americans and a Japanese woman to the party as well so there were plenty of crayfish cracking tutorials to go around.

    There were three different types available and if you’ve never tried a crayfish before, it’s got a taste and texture similar to that of lobster or crab. They are delicious, but a lot of work for little meat! There was also traditional Swedish cheese pie, salad, warm bread and plenty of aquavit (Swedish flavored spirit).

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    {My first crayfish.}

    The idea of the crayfish party is to welcome the start of crayfish harvest and is often the last big party of the Summer and really, just an excuse to wear crazy hats, eat lots of great food and drink lots of aquavit and schnapps. Oh, and sing lots of crazy songs too. Even though I can’t sing without the help of the songbook, It’s always fun to learn the favorites of each party and share in the “SKÅL!” part, of course. (This means cheers-ing).

    My goal for this year is to experience or re-experience in some cases Swedish culture and so I was happy to have had this opportunity. BIG thanks to Olle & Karin for inviting me to be a part of such a stellar celebration.

    {Me in my crazy hat provided by the Bååthe’s.}

    SKÅL!

  • Saturday Adventure With Two of the Littles

    Saturday was a “Parents Day Out,” so while M+J played golf, I took the two youngest kids out on a special day with me. (Molly was with her grandma for a sleepover.)

    There was a special Dora event at one of the local malls and Clara is absolutely infatuated with her and so I packed up the stroller and carted the kids off to meet the explorer herself.

    The mall was packed full of kids and parents awaiting just seconds with her… basically just enough time for a hug and maybe a picture. We didn’t bother to wait in line. The kids were star-struck just from watching from a distance… The ice cream that came after helped as well.image

    I decided to treat myself too… Magnum Classic is too yummy not to pass up. If you haven’t tried one, I think most U.S. grocery stores are now selling these. They are so worth every penny.

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    Tonight I’m invited to a traditional Swedish kräftskiva (crayfish party) which signifies the end of the summer season. More to come later // Stay tuned.

    {C}

  • "Catie, we went to a FOREST! And we saw a tree that was FALLEN DOWN!," she said after her first field trip from school. She didn’t have many stories, but had big smiles for me, so I guess she had a great time! :)

  • IU-Grad Goes Back to School…

    Swedish school, that is. I’m taking a language course as part of my au-pair requirements and it started today! I have to admit, I was über-nervous as I walked into the classroom… and as I bought my “school supplies” (i.e. notebook and pen) yesterday.

    BUT.

    Much to my surprise, I had absolutely nothing to be worried about. *Prayer works, people.* My class consists of about 10 girls, 8 of which are au-pairs in my same situation and there’s even 1 American girl from California. Our teacher is a little loopy, but she’ll do just fine.

    She told us today she has a “fling” with Antonio Banderas and they have four children together —- (what?) But hey… as my Gram always tells me, “You must learn to live with the eccentricities of others.”

    Enough for today. I’m officially wiped out.

    Oh and here’s a cool picture:

    {iPhone image, taken on bridge to Gamla Stan.}

    Goodnight,

    {C}

  • Mondays Aren’t So Bad After All…

    Hey There. Happy Monday to you. I spent the day in town (Stockholm) first on a mission to find my school as Swedish language course starts tomorrow and second, just to enjoy the beautiful weather. We finally had some sunshine and that warmed things up a bit more than last week which makes me a VERY happy girl.

    First up is a picture of my school followed by some pictures from my walk around town. Seriously, check out that SKY!

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  • Little munchkin ready and excited for her first field trip today!

  • Little Work, Mostly Play

    I realize more and more each day, how blessed I am to have this experience.

    If you were at all curious, as an au-pair my normal weekday consists of getting kids up and dressed and to dagis (daycare) and making them breakfast before they go. They are then out of my care from 9am until 3:30/4 in our case, meaning I have full days to do whatever I’d like. Around 4pm I pick up the kids, we play for a bit then I make dinner and feed them before m+j get home. Most weekends, I’m off-duty unless my host parents have something to do, then I’m here as a babysitter.

    Last night I went to a music festival called Popaganda with an old friend. There were lots of Swedish bands playing with headlines from Icona Pop, First Aid Kit and Veronica Maggio! Although it got really cold after the sun went down and we definitely should have dressed in more layers, it was so great to be there and the atmosphere was amazing!

    Check out some of the pictures:

    I really can’t think of another job on the planet that I’d rather be doing right now… especially since I’m able to shoot alongside this. At 23, I think it’s pretty perfect + I’m so happy to be back in Stockholm.

    Location of Popaganda 2014, Eriksdalsbadet

    My good friend, Karin and I last night at the festival.

  • While The Parents Are Away the Kids Will Play

    Thank you to everyone who has requested new blog posts from me.. It’s nice to know I have lots of friends + family wanting to stay up to date on the latest from Sweden.

    I’m writing this one from my phone in bed tonight. It’s my host parents’ anniversary so they are out on a date night and I promised the girls they could watch a movie in my room as a treat. They are cheap dates ;)

    I have to admit I was kind of bumming out that I had to “work” tonight because I’ve been battling some pretty severe allergies the last few days and am feeling really under the weather. I was blessed however with happy, happy kids and am seeing major improvement in their behavior with limiting the time they spend with technology.

    Today, Molly (the oldest, she’s almost 5) came home from school in a foul mood. I knew she was hungry but she was too stubborn to eat at first. She cried that she didn’t want to eat anything on her plate and frankly told me that it “wasn’t her favorite.” (that’s her new go-to line). She cried for TV also but I stayed strong. I said she needed to try 2 bites and I would then make her something that sounded good if she didn’t want to finish it.

    She continued to scream and I felt like joining her.

    Finally. She realized that I wasn’t backing down so she gave in and are her whole plate and then some. *We all did a happy dance.*

    The rest of the evening was a big success! Molly found my keys that had been “lost” for over a week and has been in the best mood since dinner. Typically she’s allowed to have phone time for games, but today I told her it was charging and needed to “sleep” for a bit. She didn’t whine and was content playing alone in her room for several hours while I cleaned up from dinner and gave the others a bath.

    Now, we are watching The Swan Princess on Netflix and little man is asleep. Girls night —- onward!

    {C}

  • Downtown Stockholm. 8/25/14.

  • Downtown Stockholm. 8/25/14.