I know they say everything is bigger in Texas, but when it comes to ant beds, I think Sweden is in the lead.
These are what ant beds look like in Sweden. They are all over the forest. Mainly made with pine needles. If you go up close, you can hear all the ants moving around (as well as adjusting your eyes to realize that the entire pile is covered and moving with ants). It’s fascinating and replusive at the same time.
A little nature lesson today. This is what ant beds look like in Sweden. They are made from pine needles in the forest and are enormous!
“Someday, when the weather is better…” began my son the other day.
“Um, the weather is sunny and beautiful outside,” I replied before he finished his sentence.
A surprised look and then a smile came over his face. “Oh!”
Living in Sweden, “Someday when the weather is better…” is a stock phrase that I have to use about 9 months out of the year. “…you can ride your bike”, “…we can go swimming”, “…you can wear sandals”, etc.
I feel we use this phrase as much as people say, “Someday, when I win the lottery..” or “Someday, when we save enough money…”.
It takes a while to adjust to actually having nice weather after such a long winter. I sent the kids out on their bikes yesterday and they didn’t come back for over an hour. And they didn’t even need to wear a jacket! For many of us here in Sweden, this is way better than winning the lottery.
Today’s news story in The Local about police letting a suspect go ‘because it’s Friday’ has inspired me to go back and put a list of other news stories (yes, all true) illustrating just a few things that make Sweden pretty awesome:
If they can invent shoes where you can pop out wheels to roller skate, why can’t they invent winter boots where you can pop out blades to ice skate? It would be so much more useful in my neighborhood.
As my kids are going to school this morning, it is -18c here in Stockholm, Sweden. We haven’t seen temperatures this low for about 3 years when I was last convinced we lived on planet Hoth (I swear I saw a man riding a TaunTaun to work). The buses barely ran, there were subway problems and it was total chaos in the city. One would think places located in the Arctic Circle would be prepared for these things, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Stockholm.
For the past week, the evening dinner conversation has revolved around the question of why people would ever settle in Sweden in the first place. I can only think that they discovered the place during the summer and then it became dark and cold so fast that they all experienced mass hibernation and never left.
This leads me to my ongoing argument that people living in northern countries should all hibernate during January and February. We practically do anyway since the darkness makes us all so tired. Why not take it up a notch? Most of us would get the same amount done as we do when we are awake in the winter.
No, this time it’s not drunken moose, but a sledding contest at the nearby ski hill happening on January 30 that many people would like to stop.
It’s called Fullka. Full = drunk. Pulka = sledding. See what they did there?
I wouldn’t dare sled down that particular ski hill sober, so I can understand people’s reactions to a drunk sledding contest. However, you gotta love the picture they use to advertise it.
Happy Halloween all! We had a Halloween dinner last night at a friends’ house and the kids got to go trick-or-treating. That’s right – LAST NIGHT, October 30. But this is Sweden where no one is quite sure if Halloween is only one day or which one it is, so they tend to celebrate for a week or two.
Now what made our Halloween last night so extremely Swedish (besides some people being confused and giving the kids money – better than last year when they got loose potato chips), was the first house we went to. There was a 3 year old boy jumping up and down on a bed in the window. Oh yeah, and he was completely naked. The boys had already rung the doorbell and we thought perhaps the parents would be embarassed, but wait… this is Sweden and you’re always going to run into nudity somewhere. The parents and kid came to the door to hand out candy and the kid stayed completely naked just dropping the candy into our kids bags. Our kids were in hysterics. I’ll give that kid best costume of the night – it was shocking for sure. 🙂
(Don’t worry, kid not shown in this picture.)
Here is the newest song from the government run kids channel. Hip Hip Hurrah for Periods! Complete with dancing tampons!
Special lyrics – drippity drip, droppity drop, Here it comes and You’re on Top!
Don’t worry, it has English subtitles so you can follow along!
(It sure beats Dora the Explorer)
I work two
part-time extra time jobs here in Stockholm, so sometimes I check to see if there might be a third extra time job I might be able to do. Checking job ads here gets very distracting though. Let me give you today’s examples along with my comments:
German-speaking debt collection agent (“Geld! Schnell!” I think I can get this one)
Professional Dog Walker (Professional? )
Chinese nail therapist (1. Why Chinese? 2. Do I just help nails to deal with their social issues?)
Thai Massage (No thanks)
Team member for food truck “The Good Gringo” The Good Gringo is on a mission to share with you what a burrito should be.
( I fully support this mission)
Answer: They go to Ikea of course!
(ok, not really a riddle… more of a question…. and pretty lame, I know.)
We made our bi-annual, required by Swedish law, trip to Ikea this past weekend on a rainy day. Of course, so did all other Stockholmers. I think we did well this time. With only 4 things on our list, we managed to escape the maze of stylish furniture and accessories with just 16 items. I think that’s a new record for us.
The rest of the afternoon was spent building furniture, of course. I tried to tell my son it was like building Legos, but he didn’t really fall for it. He did manage to hit a few nails and play with a box cutter in the toolbox while my back was turned before wandering to something way more interesting and computerized in his room, leaving me in a pile of screwdrivers and wooden pegs.
But everything has now been built and our apartment will have that lovely new furniture Ikea smell for a couple of days. I think it’s just a matter of time before someone bottles that smell. I’d buy it. I bought “new car smell,” so why not “new furniture smell.” I think I’m onto something here.
Yes, we take a lot of trips. At the moment, we are in Paris. You may say, “How come you can travel so much? Don’t people work in Sweden?”
The short answer is, “Not all that much.”
The longer answer is that we have lots of fun holidays and we are good at doing our work while having plenty of free time, which keeps everyone quite happy and pretty productive. This particular week, we have 2 days off. One for April 30, Valborg, in which we are all required to stand around a bonfire singing songs and freezing to death while pretending spring is here. The other holiday is May 1, on which you get a day off of work to protest about work, or human rights, war, or pickles if you like.
By taking a vacation during this week, the kids don’t miss much school and we don’t miss much work. The only drawback is that Paris also celebrates May 1 tomorrow and many things are closed for protesting. I might go out and protest that things are closed. Who knows? We will see.
Many people in Texas are often surprised when we visit at how seriously our kids take the commercials. When we’ve been there, they’ve told me things like, “Mamma! You should buy this cereal because they said on t.v. that it’s really good for you!” or “Mamma, you have to take us to Chuck E Cheese because the t.v. says that awesome parents take their kids there!”
In Sweden, it is against the law to advertise to children under the age of 12. So my kids only see kid commercials when we visit the states.
It’s actually pretty nice. For Christmas, they mostly ask for things they are truly interested in and not what advertisers tell them is the hottest toy. We give them the toy store catalogue and they simply mark what looks good to them or they also ask for a lot of books or games they’ve played at school.
Here is a bit from Wikipedia if you are interested:
In Quebec, Sweden and Norway, advertising to children under the age of 12 is illegal.
Advertising shall not cause moral or physical detriment to minors, and shall therefore comply with the following criteria for their protection:
- a. it shall not directly exhort minors to buy a product or a service by exploiting their inexperience orcredulity;
- b. it shall not directly encourage minors to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised;
- c. it shall not exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons;
- d. it shall not unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations
- e. Children’s programs may only be interrupted if the scheduled duration is longer than 30 minutes
- f. Product placement is not allowed in children’s programs.