Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dec. 12: Arrival!

Mats' brother and dad met us at the airport, waving the Swedish flag. When we walked outside the Copenhagen airport, the cold was shocking - twenty-something degrees. Henrik said, "It's so cold, I can't breathe."

A rented trailer to fit all our bags!

Seeing our house for the first time, snow and all! Mats' parents had made it a home for us- washed sheets on our newly-purchased Ikea beds, towels in the bathrooms, kitchen stocked, and even adorable lights in the windows. And the heat was on, so it was nice and warm. Couldn't have been a better welcome.

The first thing Henrik asked to do was take a bath. The first thing Lucas asked to do was shovel snow. I just walked around and looked at things in the house, and the views from the windows. It seemed unreal.

Dec 11 - 12 : Traveling to Sweden

8 bags each weighing 50 pounds, plus carry-on.
Thankfully Lucas is old enough to push his own cart!

Kids slept pretty well on the plane.

Announcement from Copenhagen airport:
"Attention travelers - there will be a slight delay in luggage delivery as the luggage door is frozen shut."

The Day Before We Leave

Wow, so much to pack, so limited time. The past two days had been spent driving around trying to find an open passport agency as we realized last-minute that Lucas' passport had expired (we'd forgotten that kids' passports are only good for 5 years vs. 10 for adults.) Luckily we had his Swedish passport to use for travel, but we wanted to renew his U.S. one before we left.

The final day had come, and we had a lot to pack. My mom, sister, and brother all came to help. Without them, it would not have gotten done (as well as help from other friends earlier that week!)

My mom arrived with Shadow to give us some pet therapy. She stayed with the kids in the hotel that night so we could finish packing.

Mats helping Henrik with a video game at the hotel, before bedtime.

Move Preparations

Quick update: We've moved to Sweden! After 2 years of debating, we decided to go for it. Here are a few pictures from the past few months.

61 boxes packed and ready to be shipped by boat to Sweden. ETA: 10 - 12 weeks from early November.

Sale pending, phew!

Storage containers arrived:

We shipped the Prius. ETA: 10 - 12 weeks from early December.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Movie Review - Eat, Pray, Love

OK, I’ll admit it up-front: I loved the book. Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey inspired me as she set off to Italy, India, and Bali to discover herself and God, while escaping from the life she’d willingly made with her husband in the box store-loving suburbs. My son was a few years old when I read it. Some days, while reading the book, the travel bug hit so hard I would find myself with my hand on my heart, nearly gasping for breath as I pushed my little guy on the swing in our fenced back yard. I just wanted to sell the house and travel the world with my family. And visit an ashram. In addition to traveling and eating the world’s best pizza, Gilbert was earnestly fumbling toward finding a sustainable connection to God. One of my favorite passages was when she finally broke through her inability to meditate, and basically experienced what it was like to be in the hand of God.

When the movie was announced with Julia Roberts playing Gilbert, I wondered how they could make such an internal journey - though admittedly with beautiful backdrops – into a movie. The answer is that they took the book, and made a movie trying to please the masses, a-la Sex in the City. When I entered the movie theater, the employees were wearing shirts with “Eat Pray Love” on the back, with quotes such as “I’m having an affair with my pizza” written on the front. A sticker on the ice cream window said, “You don’t need a man, you need a Champion! – Eat, Pray, Love.” And buy ice cream.

Though Roberts was great, and really got Gilbert’s personality and spirit, the movie felt long and incongruous as it tried to incorporate the different components of her journey. Perhaps expectedly, it ended up being a Cliff’s Notes version, without the depth of the book. Gilbert’s torment and depression pre-and post-divorce were barely touched on, save her mentioning she didn’t want to be married, and joking with her friend about Xanax. Instead of sobbing on the cold tile in the bathroom night after night, instead she can’t sleep and decides to kneel on the bathroom floor and say an introductory prayer to God. If you weren’t already there sobbing your soul out, why would you choose the bathroom floor to pray?

In Italy, the scenes of Roberts eating into a supposedly larger jean size were beautiful. I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and that was a mistake. I could have tried every one of the dishes she ordered, along with the wine and gelato. My stomach rumbles just thinking about it. But again, the depth of her getting off anti-depressants, and the irony of declaring a year of celibacy and then hearing the nightly romps of her high-heeled upstairs neighbor, was lost. And, speaking of jeans, she and her Swedish friend Sofie decide to buy bigger jeans instead of worrying about their waistlines, but then are shown in a store trying to button some obviously too-small jeans onto their small bodies, and then cheering when they get them on. I thought the idea was to buy bigger jeans to avoid the muffin top and keep eating pasta. The movie got this part so wrong, I had to read to my husband, who came with me to the movie, the Naples and jeans-buying chapters just to set the record straight. What was missing here was Gilbert’s self-effacing humor and descriptions.

India and Bali, similar to Italy, had many of the components of the original story, but skimmed the surface. Her time in God’s palm, the highlight of her Ashram stay, was skipped. Richard from Texas had so many good lines to use in a short amount of time, that he seemed to be a walking one-liner. Ketut the medicine man was sweet, but the complications of trying to buy Wayan a house were omitted. Her meeting and falling in love with Felipe felt contrived, and all the wonderful sex they had was left to one’s imagination as they closed the swinging doors behind them on their way into the bedroom, and let the PG-13 rating stand.

Overall, I think it could have made a better mini-series than trying to fit it into a 133-minute film. I’m glad I saw it, but I could have waited for Netflix.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Penguin Projects, Continued

It's funny the things we end up doing for our kids. Or more specifically, for their schools. The auction fundraiser was coming up, and I wanted to contribute something for the class auction item. So, inspired by the penguin theme, I painted a penguin platter. The kids signed their names on the back.

Guess how much it brought in?


My little prayer for the day: May the future hold less need for fundraising for public schools.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

My mom always made Valentine's Day special. Pastel conversation hearts decorated the table, and we each had a special Valentine card waiting for us at our place at the table. As a mom myself now, I carry on the tradition. This year, we had heart-shaped French toast for breakfast, and then spaghetti for dinner.

Love is all around. And in our tummies.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Will You Be My Penguin?

My son's Kindergarten class' mascot is the penguin. Or penguins, plural, as they learn about all the different types of penguins (Chinstrap, Emperor, Macaroni...) and become penguin addicts. My son will only wear penguin attire if he has his way, and his friends are all penguin crazy too.

So for Valentine's Day, we are making little cards with a penguin stamp.

In general, I love making Valentine's. But when I realized my preschooler wanted the same as his older brother, that meant we needed to make about 50. That's a lot.

Next year, remind me to do store bought. Please.
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Catching Up and Happy 2010!

Oh my poor, poor blog. I’ve neglected you since my son started Kindergarten and my family became a Petri dish for all communicable flues and diseases. Good news- we’ve all been healthy the past month. (Knocking on particle board as I write.)

But I love deadlines, and to jump-start the year, I’m excited to be taking an online class with Lisa Romeo on writing creative non-fiction.

In case you’ve been wondering what I’ve been up to since fall, here are a few highlights:

August 20:

Cried the entire day my son went to Kindergarten. He thankfully did much better than me. My friend’s son just started college. “Just you wait,” she joked. I now feel guilty about “stealing” my husband away from his family in Sweden. My dear in-laws, please forgive me.


A blur of flues, strep, coughs, and sleepless nights in our house. Thanks to all my family members who drove or walked my kids to school when I was too ill to do so. I was thankfully well enough to perform in the Mama Monologues with our guest author Ayelet Waldman, who wrote Bad Mother and The Mommy Track Mysteries. She was honest, funny, and touching. And I also got to get away for a wonderful weekend of writing and fun conversations in Lake Tahoe at the Write by the Lake Retreat with Jennifer Sander, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published and some fifty other titles.


I wrote an article in Bay Area Parent on Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB-Gyn and mother whose touching story includes the loss of one of her triplets. She’s turned pain into publication, and has a book coming out this year, titled The Preemie Primer.


One of the highlights of my writing career, OK, my life, was this past November when I performed at the Mama Monologues fundraiser with Anne Lamott as our guest author. She was amazing, generous, inspiring, and hilarious. The San Francisco Chronicle wrote about it, and I was honored to have my piece mentioned!


My Winter Solstice article was re-published in New York Spirit Magazine, and a personal essay on a roadside memorial was published in the Marin IJ.

Now it’s 2010, how did that happen?

Wishing you all a wonderful start to the new year!