Because both my parents and Chris's parents are in the States this year, we had the opportunity to have our "own" Christmas and invite whoever we wanted and do whatever we wanted for it. We choose to have the missionaries over plus a couple friends who were away from family. It was one of the best Christmases we've had. Unfortunately, our camera was low on batteries, so we don't have that many pictures and no pictures of Christmas Day...:(
We have the best of two worlds here and got to celebrate a Swedish-style Christmas the 24th with a huge smorgasbord of food quipped with all the swedish favorites of meatballs, prinskorv, janssons frestelse, cold ham and brussels sprouts. We enjoyed eating together then after everything was cleared away, our friend Erik said he was going out to get the newspaper, and we heard a knock on the door. It was Santa (or rather, Santa's helper...the kids are catching on)!!! He had come bearing gifts. We all sat around as he, Samuel and Sofia helped hand them all out. Everyone was excited and had a good time. After he left, we played the White Elephant Game where Sofia got a flashlight (exactly what she wanted...seriously...no one dared steal it from here because she really, really, really wanted it) and Samuel walked away with 3 Donald Duck comic books!!!
After desserts and games, the kids went excitedly to bed because as soon as they feel asleep, they knew that the American Santa (or as the kids say, the real santa) would come and leave the rest of their presents. Christmas morning, we woke up to a tree full of presents and we all took turns opening.
Christmas has been good this year as I've been trying extra hard to focus on the true reason for the season.
Last Tuesday we got a note in our mailbox letting us know that Santa had come to town and that on Thursday everyone who wanted to could meet at a certain point, and walk with torches into the forest to find him and leave their Christmas wish-lists! So exciting! (I guess there's some neighborhood organization that does it.) The kids were thrilled and excited and filled with wonderment to see if it really was the real Santa. We spent all afternoon baking sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies to take to him along with their wish-lists.
Emmy wasn't such a fan, and didn't even dare look at him when he tried saying hi. She was quiet content staying in her stroller, holding her dolly.
Afterwards Samuel and Sofia had a long drawn-out conversation about whether or not it was the real Santa. Sofia was sure it was but Samuel wasn't so sold. He thought it must've been one of his helpers because he saw him play with his beard and it moved a little and because he asked what their names were ("the real Santa obviously knows our names, right mom?")...smart kid.
Our bathroom is now DONE!!! (albiet, the toilet doesn't flush without leaking...). These poor guys. We've had some Polish workers here for the past 3 weeks working 10 hour-days trying to get this done before they head back to Poland for Christmas. They've been excellent, but today, as they were finishing up, they ran into one minor detail. When they flushed the toilet, it leaked a tad in the back!!! You can imagine how frustrated they were, minutes away from jumping in the car back to their family and homeland and then stuck. Because they were pressured for time, we decided it'd be okay to have some "other guys" come look at it on Saturday. So, although our bathroom is done, it's not quiet usable until after that minor problem is fixed :-) But, doesn't it look nice?! It's been a pretty interesting experience, especially for me since Chris has been in India for the past week. I've been running around to stores I never knew existed trying to find parts for them I never knew existed (with three kids in tow...). But, now it's done and we're happy.
Luciatåg (Lucia train). Happy Lucia everyone!!! Yep, the 13th of December is already upon us. We got to go to Sofia's preschool and watch them put on a little performance...and despite Sofia's unenthusiastic face in these pictures, she actually was very excited to be a part of it and spent many-a-days practicing all the different little Swedish songs they sang!
I promise, this is the best shot I got...what is so difficult with standing next to a tree, looking at mommy all at the same time and smiling?!?!? Come on, guys!!!
Sorry it's so fuzzy, lighting wasn't the best, but at least you get a little taste of it...
This is our 6 year old! Because his birthday's in December, he's the youngest in his class (unlike the States where the cut off date for school kids is sept, here the cut off date is December. Which means all kids born the same year start school the same time...ie. all kids born 2004 start kindergarten sept 2010 (the year you turn 6)). So, he was super excited when it was FINALLY his turn to turn six!!! Everyone in his kindergarten class is now 6 and that's pretty cool.
Samuel is a great kid, full of energy and imagination! Being the oldest of two sisters, can sometimes be a bit rough, but he's pretty good at convincing Sofia to play Star Wars and Legos, so it works out okay (I wonder how it'll be when little Emmy gets a little older and the girls will want to start playing "girly" things together...!)
His birthday cake wish was a candy cake, so that's what he got!
Everyone waiting patiently for a piece of it! (You can't really see it very well, but his shirt is a Star Wars shirt sent by Grandma and he is just in LOVE with it! So, thank you Grandma!!!)
And this picture I just thought was cute. The longer we wait to wash Emmy's hair, the curlier it gets :)
Hilarious! The kid must've been high from all the julmust or maybe he's just got a hidden talent. Samuel stood on that stage for a good 20 minutes, shamelessly dancing his little heart out. It was awesome!
This past weekend has been full of parties for us.
Friday we got to go to Chris's Christmas work party. This if the first time in 11 years that spouses (or significant others) got to come, so we were quiet excited to get all dressed up fancy and get out (with no kids!). Chris wore a suit and tie and I had on a black dress, and we felt pretty sheek. The party was held at this amazing castle owned by SKF (Chris's company) and is grand and brilliant in every regard. It made us feel even more important. When we came, we were served "glögg"-alcohol free (no idea what that is in English, sorry, some type of wine I think) by waitresses in black and white and got to mingle until everyone had arrived. Around 8pm, we were brought into the dinner area where there was a long white table placed with nice china and silverware and candles all around. I felt like we were in some sort of movie. We ate, all very properly...Chris and I faked it pretty well. While we were eating, we got to experience "shots". Everyone got a little shot glass and every now and then our toast master would announce that we needed to sing a song, and then everyone would take a shot. It was fun to be a part of...we happily took our "julmust" (type of soda) while everyone was getting more and more tipsy. We even got to be entertained by a professional opera singer! Afterwards, we went into another magnificent room and had coffee and wine (again, we took julmust) while just mingling with each other. You could tell as the evening went on, that people were getting more and more loose. They had all ordered a taxi to pick them up and asked if we needed one, but we simply said that we had driven, and we were okay. The whole evening was new and exciting and so interesting to me. I'm glad we were a part of it.
The next night, we went to our ward party. Talk about night and day!!! Kids running around, busy RS members running back and forth from the kitchen, people coming in jeans and sweaters, bringing casseroles and cakes, cute primary children singing Christmas songs and sweet Christmas plays. It was so heart-warming to see how everyone helped out. The night before, I felt like we were being pampered, first-class, and yes, I'm not going to lie, it was nice. But, Saturdays party was more economy class and although it's not as "fancy", for some reason, I couldn't help but feel more at home there and happy to be a part of it.
How cold is it where you are? Here we've been averaging 20-25F for like the past week. It's freezing and it's started early this year. Which is perfect cause it makes it that much easier to get into the Christmas spirit of things when it's white all around! Hopefully because it started early, it'll end early (wishful thinking...). Here are some pictures on our way to school the other day.
I feel like such a viking trudging up this hill twice every day with two kids and a stroller. The kids are awesome to walk so much, especially when it's cold and windy.
Sofia outside Samuel's school just after we dropped him off.
Emmy wanting to walk instead of sit in the stroller.
Right outside our house (the yellow one in the background with the new entrance (no, we're not done yet, but we're getting there!)
Again, one great thing about living overseas is that you can pick and choose when to celebrate American holidays. Kind of what ever's convenient for you, you know?! So, this year, our Thanksgiving celebrations have already come and gone. We gathered yesterday at our American friends place with two American/Swedish families and had a GREAT T-Day Feast! So now, for us, at least, we have given our respects to the bird, and can put our focus and energy into CHRISTMAS, which is just around the corner!
Swedes, like most Europeans, are a little unsure how/when to celebrate when it comes to true, American holidays, like Halloween. Not that this particular holiday is anything to be proud of, but it seems every year it gets bigger and bigger over here. Most people think Halloween is a floating holiday like Thanksgiving and isn't on the same day every year. I think mostly because there's a similar holiday called "The Day of the Saints" which is not always on the same day, but is always within a week or so of Halloween, so Swedes tend to get these two holidays mixed up, and it results in about a week long trick-or-treating episode. You never know when you could get a knock on the door. That combined with only every fourth house or so actually having candy to give to the kids, always makes trick-or-treating exciting.
So, this year we decided to do a trunk-or-treat at the church. SO MUCH FUN! Granted there were only 6 families that showed up (4 of which being Chris's siblings), but it was great and I really think it could be the beginning of a great tradition! The kids loved dressing up, and running from car to car and the parents had fun being a part of it knowing everyone was prepared instead of having to follow your child timidly to your neighbors house and hope they had something to give :)
But, we're lucky because we get double-whammy over here. Friday we're heading over to some American friends where they have a huge Halloween party every year. They've prepared the neighbors and sent out flyers weeks in advance warning people that anyone who wants a knock at the door should put out a little candle or pumpkin so the kids know where to go. Smart! I remember so clearly last year, walking up and down the streets (freezing our tails off!) with my kids in hand going from door to door (nearly every other house was in on it!) and I felt such a nostalgic feeling come over me. When I do real American things over here, it's hard for the tears not to come and I feel grateful I can give my kids a small taste of my childhood.
We'll post pictures after Friday's festivities. :)
Last Sunday (yes, on Halloween Day) Per Gustav Christoffer Malm celebrated 30 years of life on this earth as we know it!!! We got to celebrate two nights! One with friends and one with family (not to say that family isn't friends...there were just too many of both). Although Chris isn't a huge fan of being center of attention, he did great and everyone had a great time! We love you Chris!