Friday, October 3, 2014

The adventure so far... part 1.5 or how I cried during a haircut

Before M posted the last post we discussed the purpose of the blog.  The main goal is to help us communicate with our friends and family about our journey but it is also a way for us to keep a record of this experience and this includes how we are doing emotionally so that in a year we can look back and see how we have or haven't changed. SO be prepared this is me being emotional.

I have started this post several times in my head: while wandering the aisles of Ikea, walking towards the playground, on the bus to this location or that, etc but I have 
1. Not sat down and started it
2. Am not necessarily sure how I am feeling
3. Get distracted a lot 

BUT I thought today would be a good day to sit down and write the post, this time here between my Spotify Partners Relocation Seminar (SPRS) and my first Spotify Swedish lesson (post on learning Swedish to come).  SIDE NOTE: Sadly I didn't finish the post until a couple of days later but I think that was for the better. I was really caffeinated Wednesday.   

G hanging in there
So HOW am I doing?  I am doing ok.  At the SPRS, we briefly touched on how to deal with a transition like this.  With each transition there is an ending, or a change from your reality like going from being single to being partnered, a neutral zone, where we adjust, and the new beginnings, where the new reality is the new normal. An analogue was giving that is like a trapeze swing, the ending is the initial bar where you start the swing, while you float through the air you are in the neutral zone and when you grab the next bar that is the new beginning. I don't think this Trapeze act is a linear processes but one that ebbs and flows and is more circular in nature and you find yourself at continually at endings and new beginnings.  It's how you handle the process that is important. ANYWAYS...
A visual of a transition

We were asked to think about what we left behind and then reflect on where we were in our transition. I even figured out where G and M are.  SO right now right here  M is holding on to the first bar with one hand, G is swinging at new beginnings and I am somewhere between the neutral zone and new beginnings. I am enjoying exploring Stockholm and everything this opportunity has to offer us and the experience we are having.  I am loving watching how G has just embraced the Swedish way. But I am struggling to help Marc see the glory that Stockholm, Sweden and the world has to offer us.

I am not saying that I don't miss Seattle and everything we have there, I do. I think it is a testament to what a wonderful life we had in there that we do miss it and are having a hard time letting go. We left for the opportunity and experience not as a way to escape.  We decided to come here and by golly I am going to try to find the positive in everything, even if it kills me.

I am not always successful at this, this is why I cried at my haircut on Friday.  The guy asked me questions like what do I want done with my hair and how short, and all I could think 'I don't know can we phone Fran and she will tell you.'
My first post-Fran hair cut....
Or walking down the street I see something and think you know who would enjoy this, INSERT YOUR NAME HERE. I then get sad and lonely that NAME isn't here.

BUT by golly I am going to find the positive in everything. (To every negative there is an equal and opposite positive.) Yes we have to climb 5 flights of stairs to get to our flat BUT I am back in my pre pregnancy jeans without any extra effort!  Yes our bathroom is a little quirky BUT when G pees on the floor I can just hose it down and squeegee it into the shower without getting out the mop.  

In El Salvador, I tried to live by my saying "Home is where you keep your underwear."  Here is where our underwear is and here is where we are creating our home.

The swing of G.  Look up, laugh and enjoy the ride!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The adventure so far... part 1

Marc shares how he is feeling so far...

how am I doing? Well, good and bad. Some things are just harder than I expected them to be.

Unlike Rachel, this is my first time living abroad. We dreamed about living abroad for a while. We love Seattle! We love our house, our friends and just the overall vibe of Seattle so of course it wasn't easy to leave. But this adventure presented itself and we couldn't turn it down. Our friends and family (except Rachel's mom) said we were crazy not to go and most said just go and do this, don't even think about it. I mean Christopher Columbus wouldn't have discovered America if he had not gone on an adventure.

Apparently I was a little over confident in myself before we moved. I thought I would be able to handle the changes no problem. As I said, I love Seattle but life there had gotten somewhat routine and now we get to go an adventure in a world class city and I get to work at my dream company. I knew that the European apartment standards would be different and it would never compare to
our house in Seattle. I knew we were going to have less space. I knew we wouldn't have instantly have a group of friends. I knew it was all going to be unfamiliar and weird. But I just felt I was ready for this change.

Well, it has been harder than I thought. What has been hard? I miss everything I thought I was fine leaving. I miss our house and my car. I miss familiarity. I miss the ease of life where most things are understandable and easy to figure out. On top of all that I struggle to be ok with the uncertainty.

When will Rachel get a job? What happens when we want to move back to Seattle? And why am I even thinking about moving back so soon?  Even though everyone assures us not to worry, Rach will get a good job and it will be pretty easy for us to go back. I still let the uncertainty get the better of me.

The good part of course is I am loving Spotify. It's fun exploring Stockholm. We have a nice apartment. Gaby and Rachel are having a ball. And with each day Stockholm is starting to feel more and more like home

I am not trying to sound like a complainer and have you think that life just plain sucks.  (Rachel thought this might be good for me, too.)

I also know that if we didn't do this, I would always regret it. Seattle isn't going anywhere and I expect we'll be back, eventually. But we're here and going to take Stockholm by storm and see where this adventure leads because "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

In-Schooling...Settling in

We have survived our first week in our Stockholm apartment.  I think I average climbing the 5 flights of stairs about 2x a day, luckily I usually only carry G up them once.  Both M and I are feeling the walking and the climbing in our legs and it makes us wonder when will it just be natural to do all the climbing and not so much work.  But all of this is really for another post since the main focus this week was getting G settled into daycare.  

A little background

Every kid has the right to go to förskola (daycare) from 1 years old.  (Paternal leave is about 1.5 years here at 85% pay so for the first year the parents, both mom and dad, are able to take time and care for the baby.) The cost of förskola is a percentage of the combined income based on amount of kids with a maximum fee per month.  In order to get into a center you apply to either the municipality centers or there are private centers that have their own queuing system. The only difference I was able to find in public vs private was the queuing system and even that is changing and the private schools are being placed in the municipal system.   

As I mentioned previously, we got into a förskola very quickly.  As part of the helping parent and child adjust to this new environment and routine there is a period of time called in-schooling.  For the first 3 days, parent and child attend the school from about 9:30am- 3pm.  The parent acts as the child's guide through the days activities. On the first day though if the child doesn't take a nap, you go home early and try again the next day. If those three days went well then the following 2 days are still short days but the child attends the school alone.  

G Amazes us all

G and I started in-schooling on Monday.  When we arrived the first day there was circle time where there was singing and greeting the new kids, another child started too that day.  After which was some free play followed by fruit and lunch.  It was looking pretty good but then all fell apart at nap time.  The school has a room dedicated to napping where there are pads, blankets and pillows for each kid that sleeps.  The kids are assigned a spot so each day they go to the same pad and for the most part lie down and fall asleep.  WELL not my kid.  She kept looking around and sitting up and refused to nap.  I decided rather than fight her we would leave and the teachers were all very sympathetic and said "new place, tomorrow will be better." (G fell fast asleep the moment we left the building.)

The next day went about the same BUT this time I was talking to one of the teachers about how G doesn't fall asleep with me and that I need to just leave the room.  And that is exactly what we did.  I put G down for a nap, she whimpered and then slept for 1.5 hours. The teacher exclaimed that she had never seen a kid fall asleep like that on the 2nd day of being there.  

The third day was a little bit of a mess.  M came with us and that was all well and good. The kids started out playing outside which G loves and she barely looked up to see where we were once she got out. It was when we had to go inside that her whole world fell apart and from that moment on she was a bit of a mess.  Luckily the teachers saw that G was very independent and didn't need me around so the rest of the week she went by herself.  On the first day when I showed up I could hear her giggling from down the hall and was greeted with hugs and laughter.  

All and all I think G will do just fine in school, leaving me time to get a job, learn swedish and catch up on some reading. ;)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Well what do you know..

You know when you are working on a puzzle and it seems like it is taking forever but then you get this one piece figured out and everything falls into place. Well that is how August has been for us.

If you will indulge me for a second:

1. The residents card for G and I got lost in the mail.  Without this we couldn't get our personal identification number which means, we couldn't apply for daycare, get a doctor, apply for swedish class, etc.  You really can't do much of anything here without that number.  

2. The ship with our stuff got delayed, then delayed, and then delayed again.  So we had this great apartment in Vasastan but nothing but the bookshelves.  Luckily we were able to stay in our temporary housing but our Ikea showcase apartment in Nacka was starting to wear on us.  

Well in order to get our residents card, G and I ventured out to the migration office to get printed and photographed. This time though we got the card sent to the migration office with a phone number to call to see if the card was ready.  And this is when things started to fall into place.  A week later I called and our cards were ready.  Third trip out to the migration board.  To make it interesting I decided that G and I should venture back on the light rail.  We did find a very fun playground and G spent most of the time squealing and laughing at all the Swedish kids.  

With this we were able to go apply for our number on Monday. The same day that we did this Marc got an email saying that our stuff is in Stockholm and will clear customs this week. Our stuff would be delivered on SOON!
our stuff is off the truck ready for the 5 flights of stairs!
See what I mean about the puzzle.  It seemed as though once we got our card everything else seemed to fall into place.  And to make a long story shorter, as the movers moved our stuff into our apartment, the mailman came and delivered our personal numbers. AND if this isn't enough G and I went to one of the 1000000000 daycares/preschools near our house. They have openings and we are going to go do an "in-schooling*" on Monday!!! 

Well, tonight is our last night in our Temporary housing.  Tomorrow we move into our place.  It will be interesting since the movers unpacked most of the boxes and so every vertical surface is covered.  I figured 1. we won't have to deal with the boxes since the movers took them away,  and 2. it will be motivating to get things organized.  We are pretty excited though and it will be nice to start our new normal.  

*in-schooling is a period of time that allows the parent and child to adjust to being in daycare. Parent and child spend 3 days at the school together for short days doing the routine together. This period lets the parent know what is going on in the school and the child starts to learn the routine while still having the comforts of mom.  

Friday, August 15, 2014


Well...we are still in our temporary housing.  Maybe our stuff has arrived and we might get it next week but maybe not.  The hope is that by next weekend we will be in Stockholm with all of our stuff, getting a good workout. For now we are hanging out, enjoying the cable and trying to have daily adventures (they wear out G and she sleeps like a baby ;)).

One of the positives about starting out our adventure in Nacka-Boo is we really get to experience how well the public transportation system works.  For the most part we journey back and forth to Stockholm, for this journey we take a bus to the Slussen where we can either get on another bus or get onto the subway.  Here are some of my general impressions

1. That a majority of the population needs public transportation

I feel that what makes the system work so well is that they assume that everyone needs to ride the bus. Assuming that, there needs to be a good quantity of buses at a regular frequency and these buses need to have varying routes in order to make it convenient for passengers to use.  At our initial stop there are at least 5 buses that leave every 15-20 minutes and 1 commuter bus that runs during the morning rush and the afternoon drive home.  Each route ends in the same place and have several stops in common but they vary in amount of stops and directness.  The commuter bus for instance stays on the highway until our stop which makes the trip efficient.  

What time does the bus come?

2. Clear communication for the riders

Each stop has a reader board letting passengers know how long until their bus arrives. Another amazing wayfinding is the change of paving at the bus stops. Where the bus stops on the street is marked with white pavers that run the length of the bus next to the curb. Where the door opens the pavers are changed to 2 textured pavers perpendicular to the curb and a black paver that aligns with the white pavers. This clearly marks where the door is going to be which leads us to 3.
Where the bus is going to stop

3. Queueing 

The one thing that can be said about Swedes is they love their queues and getting on the bus is no exception and this can be seen most evident at high traffic times. People line up to get on the bus as soon as more than 3 people are waiting for the bus. 

4. No cash

Buses don't accept cash, you have to have an Access Card that has one of the many passes on it, travel cash or you must buy a single ride ticket at a kiosk in the metro or the gas station. Another method is to go onto the SL website and buy a ticket that is then loaded to your phone. It makes getting on the bus that much quicker not having to wait for someone to look for the last dime.  
Priority Seating

5. Priority Seating

Each bus has priority seating for the handicap and strollers. It is a special area were 3 good size strollers can be parked with a little bit of room for standing. I should mention here that you enter at the front of the bus and pay and in order to exit the bus you use one of the backdoors. WELL, if you are traveling with a stroller, no matter the size you get to enter at the back, getting a free ride so you don't have to leave your kid to pay. This makes it easy to get on and off the bus, plus there is no need to remove the kid from their seat which if you're lucky the baby will be fast asleep like most good Swedish babies, but that is for another post.
G taking a snooze 

These are just 5 reasons that I like the public transportation system here and I haven't even delved into the subway or light rail. But that I believe is for another day.