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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Post

Before I left the states, a friend of mine said that no matter what, I had to keep blogging, 'Your going to be overwhelmed and exhausted, but write and post it even if it isn't good!'  So here is what is more like a journal entry to myself to capture life in a random moment. Because what is life if not a string of random moments. ~K

Week Eight in Sweden.  I am sitting at an outdoor cafe across from the Radmansgaten Tunnelbannen hiss, (the elevator the leads to the Radmansgaten subway stop), sipping a hot cup of tea.  Also across the street is the park that has the Observatorielunden, the Handelshogskolan i Stockholm, and a reflecting pool surrounded by benches. The grace of the area puts the green spaces of Philadelphia to shame without even lifting its pinky.

Kendall is blessedly asleep in her stroller.  Worn out after our visit to the bank to pick up my Swedish ID card, and the shopping for, and purchasing of, the most hideous shoes I have ever spent $70 on, for any of my daughters.  But hey, they are made in Sweden.  It could have been worse.  The five other styles that the store had to choose from, were all priced well over $100 dollars.  Let's just say shopping for kids clothes is 'different' here.

The first week of school (week 6) kicked our a*%#@s.  Along with adjusting to early mornings and an arduous commute, the first Swedish virus rolled through the house.  KC was the first to fall to the wicked cold, and everyone followed suit.  Kat muscled through each school day, not wanting to miss anything.  She even survived her first Swedish gym class which was 3 hours and consisted of a with a 6 kilometer cross country run, while fighting the virus.  KC had numerous meltdowns on the train, subway, PTA, and 'Welcome to Stockholm' meeting we attended together.  Beanie held out till the weekend, then spent most of it miserably horizontal.  Each day the girls would leave the house at 7:15 for a 15 minute walk to the 20 minute train ride, followed by 2 subway trains, and finished with another 5-10 minute walk to school. A little under an hour door to door.  The days that Kendall and I brought them and picked them up, we spent over 4 hours commuting back and forth. Somehow we made it, but how is a blur.

Week two of School, we made some tweaks to the routine, Nick dropping off in the morning, KC and I picking up in the afternoon. Kat was away on a 4 day class trip to Gotland, so Beanie needed a parental escort on both ends of the commute. We found that with the occasionally use of the car, to cut off the final train ride and 15 minute walk home, we were in much better shape when Friday rolled around. 

In Sweden children under 4 are not eligible for preschool unless both parents are working or studying at University.  I'm doing neither, and not even private Swedish pre-schools will accept  who don't meet the criteria. This is not the states, you can't pay your way into the system.  It is Sweden and her you politely take a number and wait your turn.  We got lucky that KC will soon be turning 4, and that makes her eligible for about 30 hours a week of care, which is plenty.  Until she comes of age (later this month), and the officials find her a spot, she will continue to be my constant companion.

So we are settling into the new rhythm of our lives, and where a couple weeks ago the we were being swept along by its hasty cadence, we are now managing to strike a sporadic beat in time....

Yesterday we found a bike trail that leads into the Naturereservet (Nature Reserve).  There are miles, and miles of paths, that lead to every community on the island.  About 3 miles into our ride, we weren't sure of where we were, and had to give Finance Guy a call to pick up Beanie, (her bike,) and Kendall, who were running out of steam.  Kat and I rode on, another few miles home.  The path we found, wound along the edge of a lake, through woods, over bridges, and past the public baths (closed for the season). All the trails were dedicated for pedestrians, and bikes so we could ride safely with no worries, all the way to our front gate.  

I tell ya, these Swedes know how to live.  The initiation to life here has felt a little like boot camp, both physically and mentally.  Confusing, exhausting, disorienting, and emotionally taxing.  But at some point, my feet started to toughen up, my flabby western physique began to firm, and the repetition of the days made the routine start to feel more natural.  I'm  beginning to wonder if this might not be the life this body was built for, unassuming and Swedish designed.  Now if I could only crack the Swedish fashion code...but no time for that today. It's time to pick up the girls, and make our way home to our Dream House.  No one ever said, living a dream would be easy, but I'm willing to pay my dues.


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