Life

We’re moving to Ireland!

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Yep, you heard right. We’re moving again!

I know – why can’t they just settle down already! – right?

Well, Marcus got an amazing job in Dublin and we’re leaving in January. It’s a great career move for him and is with a company that he’ll absolutely love working for. The last couple of months we’ve been on the edge of our seats hoping against hope that we would get this unbelievable opportunity – how often do you get a chance to live in Ireland?
Our first thought when we realized we were going was how much we hate leaving Stockholm. We have such a good life here close to Marcus’ parents. It’s going to be tough being away from family again.

But we feel really good about it and are sure it’s the right thing to do for our family. It’s going to be scary since we don’t know anyone there and since now that we have a daughter we can’t just fill up our three old suitcases and hop on a plane like we usually do. This time it’ll be very different.

Personally, I think it’s the most exciting move we’ll have done so far. I can’t wait to see what Dublin has in store for our little family!

Time to pray

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We have a lot going on right now in our family and have a lot of decisions to make (It seems like we always do – is that ever gonna stop?). It’s one of those times in adult life when I have the sudden urge to call my parents and ask them to tell me what to do.

Just the other day I was sitting down for a quickly prepared lunch with our little girl and despite her reaching eagerly for the bread I tried to get her to settle down and fold her hands so I could say a prayer to bless the food. I kept it short and skipped through the words to try to finish before her patience would run out and the silence would end. And it made me wonder why I was doing it and if it really was worth it. Would she understand? Even if I thought prayer was important couldn’t I just wait and teach her when she was big enough to understand why?

I pondered that for a few days. The most obvious reason I guessed was that toddlers pick up on everything and learn from example. In just the last couple of weeks, mine has picked up on new words, brushing her hair out and for some reason she always knows when to wave goodbye even before we do or ask her to. All because she pays attention to everything we do! So obviously, if I want for prayer to be a part of her life, now is probably a good time to show her how to.

But I arrived at another conclusion as well – a maybe less obvious one. And it has to do with the reason that I pray myself. I’m sure there may be plenty of reasonable reasons why one should not pray. But one of my main reasons for kneeling down is the feeling that immediately fills the room when I do. Peace. ‘Peace’ is such a short and easily overlooked word. Let’s just take a minute and really think about what it means – especially in an everyday setting with things to do in every direction. A pleasant warm feeling that pushes out worry and stress. That one feeling that we all go our entire lives searching to keep with us.
And in that atmosphere I can shut the world out for a moment and focus on myself. What I’m grateful for and what I really need help with.

I love the person I become when I pray. I become humble and submissive. It becomes easier for me to forget my faults and my pride. And more than anything the things I think I need but maybe really don’t. It makes me feel kinder and full of love. It makes me want to keep praying. To pray for help so I can keep being that person when I open my eyes, stand up and get back to my day. To have that feeling of peace stay with me.

And to share that feeling with my family. My daughter.

That’s why.

If I can teach her anything in life it will be where to turn for peace.


 

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God – it changes me. – CS Lewis

Family time

A couple of times now Marcus has surprised me by walking in the door an hour or two earlier than I expected him. It’s literally Christmas morning. From that moment and until the second when Baby goes from being on fire with energy to uselessly sleepy, it’s family time. And it only lasts for 2-3 hours.

I hope that in a future life the world will be run by people who work from home. If only that would work!

It’s an overwhelming feeling, having a family. Because you realize (hopefully) that the only thing you want in life is to be with them. And all your major decisions are based on how to best support them. I guess I can only speak for myself though.
I definitely have other dreams too. I’d love love love to write and publish a book some day! I would absolutely love to run a family business with Marcus! And I want so bad to finish a good education. But I don’t want any of these more than I want to just spend happy days with my family. Happy blissful days in a green field, under warm blankets, out seeing the world. Does life really get any happier than that?

These pictures are from our family time last night. The grass was newly cut and the sun was out. It was amazing! And what better place to let a baby run wild than a wide open lawn? She was in heaven!

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Just had to throw this one in here too. Look who’s standing up (for a few seconds) all on her own!

My breastfeeding story

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Being a survivor of getting pregnant, morning sickness, evolving into a whale, contractions, labor and then the whole dewhaling process, I have experienced many things that have left me thinking, “why didn’t anyone tell me this??”.

Breastfeeding is on that list.

I’ve always known that I wanted to breastfeed, that wasn’t a big decision for me. Throughout my childhood I’ve watched my mom breastfeed my four younger siblings and heard her speak of what a wonderful thing it was. So, naturally, I wanted to do it too.

I say that there were things that I wish someone had told me. I wish I’d known or at least to some extent been more prepared for how hard breastfeeding would be. Having said that, I don’t think my mother lied to me or tried to keep the truth from me. But I really think that mothers are designed to focus on the beautiful things and to forget a little about just how hard the hard times were (thank goodness for that!).

So, I’m writing it all down – putting it all out there while it’s still fresh in my memory, to any expecting mama out there who wants to read a true story.

Here is my true breastfeeding story.

I think the first question I asked after I became a mom was to my mother just a few minutes after giving birth, “should I just try to feed her right away?”. It wasn’t asking permission so much as asking for a confirmation that my instinct was correct. Our newborn baby seemed to latch on pretty perfectly right away, and I leaned back, exhausted, and soaked up that first real moment of motherhood.

Other than bringing on a bit of pain in my healing abdomen, breastfeeding proceeded quite effortlessly the next couple of days. In the evening of the third day we were having take-out with both of our parents and I started noticing that my breasts were hurting a bit. After they left we went to bed and one of the hardest nights of my life began. My milk was coming in – fast! My breasts were swelling to the size of melons and they were so sore that I couldn’t even lie on my side. By morning they looked like balloons that had been blow up way more than they were supposed to and they just hurt so bad. I quickly found out that the nipples were stretched so tight that the baby was having a hard time getting it far enough into her mouth to eat.

That and the next couple of days I had to call my mom and midwives several times to help me feed my baby. After trying several techniques, the best one we found required me to use both of my hands to squeeze the tip of my boob into a more pointy shape, and someone else to jam the baby’s open mouth onto the nipple until she latched. Once she had latched, all there was to do was keep her on there and endure the burning pain from my now bleeding nipples. – I’m very sorry for being so bold and illustrative, but it really hurt so bad that I shut my eyes, let the tears run down my face and rocked backwards and forwards rapidly to keep from crying out.

It was really bad like that for about two weeks. Then it was only bad. After about a month it was painless.

Those first weeks were tough. I don’t think I hardly wore a bra – or a shirt. I remember getting out of bed at night when the baby woke up and doing the two-man breastfeeding maneuver on the couch in the livingroom where there was more light. I would always wake up in a puddle of milk – nursing pads are pretty useless when you leak about a cup of milk at night, I slept wrapped in a cloth diaper. I felt pretty weak in those days and there was only so much I could do to not start crying or knock someone silly when they said, “make sure to enjoy these first weeks!”.

Then it got better. Do not underestimate nipple butter, or the element of time. And for goodness sakes, trust the annoying women who keep telling you that it’ll get easier than breathing if you just hang in there!

Because they’re right. A good month after giving birth it was over. And painless.

Then came all the figuring out how to integrate breastfeeding in my daily routines. I had to make sure to have a cloth diaper on me at all times, and a blanket to cover up, I had to wear practical clothes (which meant no dresses in church) and develop a skill for locating corners and secluded areas in public places.

I really tried to enjoy breastfeeding. But I realize now that I was a bit traumatized from those first weeks. Breastfeeding wasn’t fun, it was a chore. About a month in, our doctor informed us that Baby hadn’t put on enough weight in here first month and suggested that I supplement with formula until she gained her weight back. It was a little discouraging. I’d slaved for weeks to get food into this child and now it seemed it hadn’t been enough. I wasn’t about to give up though. I asked the doctor if we could have another week to try to get her weight up on my own. She said that was okay and we scheduled a weigh in the week after. For that next week I felt like I fed her more than not. When in doubt of what to do, feed the baby. Up until then I’d been bad at keeping her on the boob for very long at a time due to pain, so I did my best to keep her on for as long as possible to make sure she got the fat milk. Also, I’m not a huge fan of feeding schedules. If I learned anything back then it was that newborns don’t have routines. If she wanted food, I fed her.

The week after she was back to a normal weight and we haven’t had any major problems since.

We started her on solids about two months ago and I’m still figuring out how to balance that with breastfeeding. My plan is to keep breastfeeding till her first birthday. Since she turned 6 months I’ve started to dread that day. When I won’t be nursing anymore. Because yes, now I love breastfeeding. I think I just had to learn to enjoy it despite all the hard times. I realize it’s probably like that with many things with your first baby. I expect that things will be much more enjoyable with the second when I know what is coming and how I and my body will react.

These days I actually mostly breastfeed lying down when possible. I find that Baby can better relax and get comfortable that way? She often puts a hand on my face or squeezes one of my fingers while she eats. I love it. I feel like those are our own little special moments just for us.

I’m not gonna lie. There have been so many times when I’ve wished I had chosen to bottle-feed instead. The freedom of leaving her with someone else for more than a couple of hours or even letting Marcus feed her for a change. It would certainly have made my first month less dramatic. But now that I’m on the other side I can truly say that I’m glad I hung in there. Glad that I don’t have to drag bottles and formula around everywhere I go. I’m also really thankful that I haven’t had trouble lactating or had any major latching problems.

I’m sorry for rambling on for so long, and if you made it to this part I’m truly thankful that you let me finish. Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and I just wish to encourage anyone who wants to or is struggling to stick with it.

Because it really gets better. 

We moved again

For our little family it became that time of year once again. That time of year when we pack up our lives and move to a new home. This is only the fifth move since we got married. There should be some sort of record book for this. The longest we’ve stayed in one place was 6 months. The shortest 3,5. 5 apartments. 4 cities. 3 countries. 1 little tiny student family.

You’d think it’d be over soon. But it’s not! We’re only staying in this apartment for 4 months. Another big move coming up this summer! You might also think that we’re getting pretty tired of it. Well, we’re definitely getting there, but it’s still a bit exciting! I like that I don’t know where my life will take me and that I don’t live the same place I’ll be in 40 years. I guess I hope my life will never stop being exciting that way – that we’ll always be working toward the next chapter in our lives. On the other hand, I am beginning to daydream about shopping for plates and curtains and decorating our own home. To have a home that’s ours.

The good thing about not owning much is that it makes it really easy to move quickly. Last week it just took a few car rides back and forth to move our entire lives from one address to another. Moving frequently has really taught me to enjoy having a simple life. I don’t think I’ll ever be a collector. Up until now, the principle has been that if it didn’t fit into three suitcases it didn’t go.

There’s also something wonderful about starting over again once in a while. It’s like New Years Resolutions three times a year. Some of my “resolutions” for this apartment involve getting up earlier and cleaning up before I go to bed. It’s kind of fun fitting into a new life: getting a new local grocery store, new neighbors, new places to go for walks etc…

You also learn a thing or two about what it means to create a home. Especially when the furniture is not your own. I guess for me it doesn’t feel like home till there’s a picture of a temple (preferably the one in Stockholm where we were married) and a picture of Jesus Christ. – I know you might be thinking I’m a little cheesy for saying that… but I’m not. I’m just honest. Well, I guess it’s up to you what you think.

This apartment is like our sixth chance at being the best we can be!

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Being a mom the way I want

I often wonder if our marriage will keep having as many planning sessions as it does now in these early years. I hope it will. At least I hope that life won’t teach me that I’m naive if I think I can plan it. That I’ll have to do it the way everyone else does it and that the current is too strong to fight.

So here’s our plan: We want for Marcus to be able to someday work from home. We want for me to be at home with our kids. Why? Because we want to be with our family. We want to put our family first. That’s why we decided to have one. So essentially our plan is to have the happiest family possible. And that’s the way we think we can best achieve that.

Is that naive? Is that dream a tiny bit too big?

Because it scares me that most people around me are doing it differently. I’ve already had people give me a weird look for saying that I don’t intend to put my daughter in daycare if I can avoid it. Does that mean my plan won’t work? Or does it just mean that we all have different paths to make our families happy? Because I guess we do. I’m just not sure I’m willing to let that fact crush my plan. And what about the government? It seems that most often it makes life a little easier for people who aren’t trying to follow a plan like mine. I’ll just have to live with that though. I don’t really think benefits are more valuable than our plan.

I’ve always known I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. My mom fought the current and did it and I knew that someday I would do the same. Because I loved having her there growing up. It’s taught and prepared me for being a mother and quite frankly I think it’s prepared her to be a better grandmother and to help and support her children establishing their own homes. So I always knew this was what I wanted to do. But it hurts me a little to think that a lot of people might think I’m lazy for it. Like I could do more in my life. Or like I could be a better citizen, be more beneficial to society. But I think the best thing I can do for my community is to raise a happy family. A happy, ambitious, hard-working, kind family.

And I know my plan might be a lot to plan for. I may be naive. And for many people this sort of plan just might not be an option. But I like to think that it is an option for me. To live life the way I want. Because I planned it that way. And we may be poor in the beginning. Heck! We may be poor for a very very long time. But, again, I don’t think the dog, the car, the yearly summer vacation, the new clothes every month, etc. are more valuable. I became a mom because I want to be a mom. And I think I should be able to do it the way that I think is best for my family.image

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Going home for Christmas

Yesterday was the longest day in.. a long time.
Geographically, Stockholm is not really that far away, but for a small student family during the holidays who are trying to save money, we may as well have been celebrating Christmas in China.

We got up early, cause we were leaving at 6. My dear father picked us up, and off we went. Baby has never been much for car rides so we had been a little nervous about how her first drive out of town would go. Fortunately, she had only slept 6 hours so she was out like a light – we didn’t even have to sing or do the fairytale voices. Almost an hour later we arrived at the ferry terminal.

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It was a good feeling walking into the terminal that Marcus and I have both been at countless times over the last two and a half years. Dating, engaged, married, and now with a little baby on the arm. Despite having boarded that ferry so many times, I am still surprised every single time how long the trip across to Sweden takes. We had packed a lunch (or rather breakfast, dinner and lunch) … (made a LOT of tuna salad Tuesday night) which we took out as soon as we were settled in our seats at the front. Then the hours passed remarkably fast. Marcus got a little seasick, so Baby and I went exploring. We looked at all the other passengers (Baby not as discretely as me), looked out the window at all the water and did a few diaper changes. Later Baby took a nice long nap on Dad’s chest and I did some sudokus. By the time we reached Gothenburg Baby was awake and happy.

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The tram ride to Gothenburg central station was fun. Marcus who was holding Baby got talking to a very friendly lady. Always nice to meet friendly strangers!

We only had to wait for the bus to the airport for about 15 minutes. It was comfortable with not too many people. But Baby got a little annoyed that we couldn’t walk her around all of a sudden. So nursing it was!

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We arrived at the airport about 6 hours before our flight would depart. We checked in and tried to check in our baggage, but were unsuccessful. So we settled down in some uncomfortable airport chairs to wait out the time. We had some more tuna salad, nursed, we started reading A Christmas Carol, did some more sudokus, nursed again. It’s funny how, despite hard airport chairs, baby poop and no snacks, time flies when you’re with your best friend. I’m grateful to have had those hours with Marcus to just do whatever, people watch and laugh. I really want to prioritize always having time for that. Finally we could check our baggage and go through security. It was a fun experience doing all of this with a baby for the first time. Never have I been so thankful for being able to breastfeed! Don’t know how we would have survived that day dragging around bottles and formula.

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The flight was the part I had dreaded the most. Didn’t want to be stuck in a tiny crammed seat with a baby with painful ears. For that reason we had agreed to wait to feed her when we were on the plane, so she would be hungry enough to keep eating until we were in the air. Unfortunately, we weren’t permitted to board for 25 minutes and Baby was crying impatiently. Other than that the plan worked! She stayed on the boob for the entire flight and was the happiest little squirt when we got off.

Now, all that was left was the car ride back to Marcus’ parents’. It was a happy reunion in the airport with Marcus’ mom. It makes me so happy that our other family members are so happy to see Baby and seem to love her (if possible) as much as we do. Baby got packed good and snug in her car seat and off we went. She did great for the first 15 minutes due to my holding her hands and talking and singing in my high-pitched now well-trained mommy voice. Then she’d had enough. She screamed and screamed for about 10 minutes until she got tired of that. She settled for giving me ugly looks until she fell asleep.

And then we were there! After a 15 hour journey we arrived at the lightly snow-coated house shining with Christmas lights. Welcome to Sweden, Baby!

Baby, what are you looking at?

Baby and I had a few hours to ourselves tonight. Since she was happy I thought why not put on Pride and Prejudice and have our first mother-daughter movie night. It was glorious for the first half hour but then she fell asleep and so I’m seizing this rare opportunity of being alone on a quiet evening to write a blog post.

It’s incredible how enchanting the feeling is to sit here calmly, the only sounds being the ticking of the clock on the wall and my baby’s soft snores in my lap. That’s where she fell asleep during her third dinner with drop of milk stopped in its tracks on her bulging cheek. She has grown about 10cm in the last two months since she was born. I can’t believe how much she’s changed already.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that she is just a newborn child with only two months of experience. I’ve never had an actual conversation with her and still I feel like I know her personality and to some extent even her thoughts. But when she gazes up at me with those big eyes I can’t help but sense that there’s some deeper wisdom in them, a depth that extends far beyond the time that she has been part of my life. Sometimes I even feel a little intimidated, like she is the one teaching me and overseeing my every move and not the other way around. As if she is here to teach me of things that are yet unknown to me.

I remember when she was only a few days old and we were so desperately excited that we would try for several minutes at a time to even catch her eye. But she never seemed to find us interesting enough. As if there was something else in the room that was far more worth her attention. And it made me wonder. Cause I found it hard to imagine that she could be focusing so intently on something meaningless when I, her mother, was so near. What thoughts could be passing through that inexperienced mind?

Even now when she is lying deep asleep in my lap I watch her little face closely. I see different moods flash across her face. Furrowed eyebrows with pursed lips, to the biggest most beautiful smile, to a heartbreaking trembling lower lip. What pictures is she dreaming? What memories are inspiring her subconsciousness? Is she thinking about the last time her dad pulled a funny expression or do they belong to a time previous even to the first time she first saw his face?

I have learned so much since she joined our family. Not because I’m acquiring skills relating to changing diapers and breastfeeding, but I feel that I somehow am filled with a deeper knowledge of life. Almost as if I understand myself better and even the meaning of my existence – maybe because I better understand my own priorities and goals in life. To have a happy family. There is really nothing I want more. And she teaches me that that is possible.

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Around here lately

It is late afternoon. Just got back from my walk of the day and I’m now enjoying the warm summer breeze coming through the window, sitting right here, with my feet up, in my spot. My spot.

This is my spot.

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This is where it happens. All my blogging the last few weeks and just about everything else I do. This is my pregnancy nest. Feet up and two pillows to support my back. Usually there’ll be a cup of ice, a new shoe or a handy little snack sitting on the back of the couch. I’ll do pretty much anything here. Eat, read books, fold clothes, run my blog, ignore that I have to pee again.. you get the idea.

Lately, I’ve gotten the question a lot, “what do you do all day?”. I always feel like the explanation would take much longer than the questioner maybe intended my answer to be. So I figured that was a good sign that I should share more of that kind of stuff on here.

So what DO I do all day? Well… I try to keep myself busy. Because it passes time, and to me it’s such a sickening and demotivating feeling to go to bed and feel like I’ve done absolutely zilch today. But mostly, I try to keep busy… so I can stay awake all day. Oh, dilemma of the week! You know those nights when you crawl into bed and snuggle up for the night, but for some reason you just feel restless. All of a sudden you feel like you have all this energy, so much that you have a really hard time lying still – and it is therefore completely impossible to fall asleep. Yes?

Well lately that has been every single night for me. I’m starting to think it may have something to do with my being pregnant. But why? Are hormones making me feel this way? Cause honestly it’s gonna have to take more than a big belly to keep me from sleeping through the night. And yes, sometimes I do wake up and baby is shamelessly kicking me in the gut like she owns the place, but that is not every night. Explanations anyone? Mystery unresolved.

So anyway… the only way I’ve found to (almost) ensure a good night’s sleep is getting up with Marcus at 5.30 and staying awake till bed time. And for the first few days it’s easy enough! My early morning responsibilities are making my hub breakfast, which usually consists of a green smoothie and oatmeal with blueberries, and then packing his lunch, another smoothie, a sandwich and baby carrots. So by the time all that is fixed I feel pretty alert and awake. Or fresh as a fish, as you might say in my home country…. ….

But when I hit day 3 of this procedure I’m dead. Like red eyed dead.

And then I nap. And the cycle starts over.

Third trimester already seems a hoot!

So you understand that I need to busy myself with something. Usually when I hit that desperate time of day, when all I want to do is close my eyes for juuuust a second, I go for a walk. To Temple Square. Here is proof.

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But it’s starting to get reeeaally hot here in Salt Lake. And Almost-Mommy here already has a hard time walking very far without the sweltering heat knocking her out. So I bring ice! Oh I’m gonna miss having an ice machine sooo bad! I seriously can get Christmas-level excited about walking down our hallway (that also smells AMAZING, I must say!) down two flights of stairs (still smells AMAZING!) and down to our ice machine where clean cups and as much ice as I have ever ever wanted are at my disposal. And there is also never anyone down there to watch my little mischievous act – which for some reason makes the entire experience all the more pleasurable.

Seriously.. just made myself want to go get more ice.

Be right back.

So when I’ve got my ice I go for my walk. It has over time become “my walk” because I walk the same route every time. Past the Reflection Pool, South Visitors Center, Assembly Hall, Tabernacle, North Visitors Center, Conference Center… and home. Sometimes I’ll stop to take pictures, read or watch tourists. And smell the flowers of course.  Why, of course!

And then comes the best part. When my man comes home from work. And he is so happy! And so tired. He works so many hours every day but still he manages to be so excited about what he does. I treasure this so much because I can’t take for granted that he’s always gonna come home from work happy. I just count my lucky stars that God created me a woman and thereby granting me the odds of not having to be the main provider for my family. Can I just say once again what an amazing husband I, for some reason, am lucky enough to have.

Well, that’s my day, folks! In case you were one of the many people who have asked me and have gotten a far from satisfying or justifying answer, there you have it. It’s not much, but I must say I’m pretty content.

 

What would Pam Beesly do?

4878a9f65d2c51689b4d9e0f217dc402Just a couple of hours ago we finished for the second time in our marriage one of my new favorite shows: The Office.

I have to thank my husband for talking me into watching the show with him. He has a thing for easy-to-watch funny shows, whereas I prefer shows with more of a story and deeper meaning. After watching a couple of episodes I had decided that the humor of The Office was not my cup of tea. Thank goodness that Marcus was so persistent and managed to persuade me to sit through the first two seasons. I must say, it wasn’t easy. And definitely not funny. But after I reached that mark I was sold. And now I love it! (more…)