Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We're HERE!

Well . . . we actually did it!  I still can't believe it!  We moved back to Stockholm and in some ways it feels like it took forever (remodeling the kitchen, decluttering the house, painting rooms, staging, selling the house, a never ending to do list, etc) and in other ways it feels like it happened in a blink of an eye.  The blink of an eye thing is mostly the being here part.  Once we landed it was like "welp, we're here . . . how did that happen?"  We've been in Stockholm about 3.5 weeks and it has been good.  I'd say great but even though we wanted to move I still struggle with change.  It took a little while to get our apartment set up in a way that made things flow easily.  I like systems and routines and I "think" we are finally finding ours.  Here are some details about our flights here and what we've been up to since we landed.  I'm hoping to get back to blogging now that I'm back in a place that creatively inspires me!

We made it to Stockholm on Tuesday, March 28th around 12:30.


Our flights were pretty good.  Our first one was delayed about 45 minutes but thankfully we had a long layover (on purpose) in Chicago and we didn't have to worry about missing our flight.

Linnea made good on her promise of "Airplane, Nap, Dada" and she also slept on me which was great!

 We landed in Chicago and found an awesome playground to let Linnea run around a bit.
 Then we headed to our terminal and had a sit down meal at our favorite restaurant in the Chicago airport, Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless and then we boarded the plane for Stockholm.
 Cheers!
We actually had an empty seat next to us but felt like the guy claimed his half of the seat so we just had Linnea sleep on us.  Linnea did great on both flights.  The hour and a half flight from KC to Chicago was about 2 hours after her nap time which meant she was tired enough that she didn't put up much of a fight and napped for most of it.  The Chicago to Stockholm leg was also 2 hours after her bedtime so she was able to fall asleep pretty easily then too.  She took turns sleeping on Jake and on me so all 3 of us were able to get some sleep.

We tried really hard to pack light with our bags that we were carrying on the plane but I still over packed.  Since Linnea slept on both flights we literally used 1 toy that we packed.  I realize it is better to have the toys and not need them then to not have them but lugging around extra stuff isn't fun either.

Jake's boss picked us up at their airport which was awesome.  I'm not sure what was a bigger miracle that we landed with all our bags or that they all fit into Jake's boss's car ;).
 After unpacking we went on a walk and then to dinner.  Linnea was looking all around . . .
 and then we saw this.  Jet lag!

The first week back was a bit harder than I expected it to be.  We've lived here before so I didn't think we'd have much culture shock to deal with and I don't really think it was the culture shock that made things hard but I'm sure it was a factor.  Our apartment was supposed to be furnished and according to my definition (and comparing it to the 2 other furnished apartments we've rented in Stockholm) it wasn't.  We had 3 pots for the stove but zero utensils to stir or scoop things out of said pots.  We had 3 spoons that didn't match (which is fine) but then our 2 forks and 2 knives were both plastic . . . like from a takeout restaurant.  We didn't have any baking dishes that could go in the oven but we also didn't have any hot pads to take them out either so I guess at least those things go together. Ha!

We rented a furnished apartment for several reasons but the main reason was so we could land with just our suitcases and not have to deal with buying things right away.  Several of these items are being shipped from the US and they will arrive in 8-10 weeks so we don't want to buy them.  We made dp with what we had from Tuesday until Saturday and then we made a trip to Ikea and borrowed some things from a friend and now we are pretty much good to go.  We did buy a broom, vacuum and swiffer and that definitely helped my stress level.
She's excited about shopping at the world's largest Ikea.
Ikea play kitchen
When you buy bigger items you have to get kind of creative when carrying them home.  I hooked the broom onto the stroller to carry it home.  

Another fun adjustment was our bed.  Our bed is 47 inches wide which is 7 inches narrower than a full size bed.  We knew it was going to be small and really the size hasn't been that bad but . . . the sheets we borrowed from a friend while we were waiting for our sheets were a bit small.  Technically the top she was exactly the same size as the bed so as soon as one person was under it it was too short so two people under the sheet made it so we were both uncovered.  We arranged a few blankets and made it work until our sheets arrived.  Not just any sheets, sheets my Aunt Carmen gave us for Christmas.  She knows sheets.  I LOVE staying at her house because her sheets are so soft!
Now that we have sheets, serving utensils for the pots on the stove and actual silverware we are good to go!

Linnea loves running up and down the hallway outside our apartment and pushing the elevator button when we go up or down.
 Reading some English (Engelska) books at the library.  The book she is reading we have in English which was fun to see.
 Waiting for the bus.  Linnea likes riding the bus and guessing which color it will be but her favorite is riding the metro. #justlikehermama
Kebab Special Pizza from "our" pizza place.

Linnea did pretty well adjusting to the time difference.  It took 4-5 days and then she was back to putting herself to sleep at night without any trouble.  She is sleeping in a walk in closet.  For the first 3 weeks she was sleeping in a Baby Bjorn travel cot/pack n play but now she is in a crib!  Actually . . . we even took her paci away over a week ago and that went way better than we/I was expecting.  It was cracking (because she bites and pulls on it) and they don't sell the kind here that she likes so Jake cut it and just told her it was "different" and that she could still cuddle with her monkey, which the paci was attached to, and so far she hasn't seem to miss it too much.

Monkey, different

We've been able to see friends, go to the park, walk everywhere and just enjoy being back in Stockholm.  Jake started back to work 2 days after we arrived and he can walk there in about 10 minutes.  We are still actively looking for an apartment and we've already toured one daycare for Linnea (which was great) and sent in our top 5 choices for daycares in the area.  She is guaranteed a spot in 3 months but we've asked for her to be placed as soon as possible.  We shall see how long it takes!

I'm sure I'll be sad leaving Linnea at daycare the first few times but man am I excited for her!  She is going to LOVE it!  They play outside at least an hour a day if not more.  She will make new friends and learn Swedish.  She'll sing songs, make crafts and so much more!  I feel like she is at a perfect age to go to daycare/preschool/förskolan/dagis/kindergarten (there are so many names thrown around - I typically say preschool since the Swedish word is förskolan).  She is independent and is learning things so quickly.  I can't wait to hear her start speaking Swedish.  I'm going to need to get my butt in gear because she will pass me . . . it is only a matter of when, not if.

 Sept 2016 vs April 2017
Florian and Linnea.  She wasn't so sure about him being in her box when they first met but I have a feeling these two will become best buds . . . but she might need to cut back on hugging him!  #ican'tbelieveIbirthedahugger #imightbeahuggertoonow  

 She likes big slides but this one was a little too big for her to go down by herself.  Sit, Mama!

 Lego bin at a toy store.
 Blurry but a cute picture of her holding her baby and owl and wrapped up in the blanket her Grandma Janzen made her.

 Park play date and then a long walk with friends while all 5 kids slept in strollers AT THE SAME TIME!!!
 The view on our walk around Långholmen
 Linnea has been really interested in putting on her own clothes . . . and our clothes.  These are Jake's shorts.  


 Yoda towel!

We bought some used outside pants for Linnea and Google Maps gave us directions that lead us down this path.


 Easter dinner with friends!
Horn goes beep, beep, beep!
 Pushing! Me!

A pretend gas station at the park including a keyboard and 10 key pad.  The keys don't move because they are both filled with sand and have been sitting outside year round but it is still so fun for kids to play with!

Hope you enjoyed a little peek into our lives the last 3.5 weeks!  I have all kinds of posts swirling around in my head and now that we don't have a to do list for our house that is a mile long I might actually get to post more!

And just as a friendly reminder, you can call or text me at my regular US number for free.  Just remember I'm 7 hours ahead of you so at 12 pm in Kansas it is 7 pm in Stockholm, which means if you are driving to work (no matter how early it is) and want to chat I'm your girl! Does this make me a morning person? I mean I am talking to someone and it is really early in the morning? ;)

*I've been posting short videos and pictures on Insta Stories of our every day lives if you are interested check them out!  If you don't know how to watch insta stories let me know and I can tell you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Janzens In Sweden Take 3 . . . Indefinitely!!!!

That's right, we are moving back to Stockholm!

A couple of our friends have said that if you follow me on social media and you are surprised about this move then maybe you haven't been paying attention ;).  Ha!  Apparently, I like to post about our love of Stockholm.

Here are a few answers to questions you might have:

When are you moving?
Great question! We don't have a date yet but we are thinking Februaryish!  We need to sell our house first.  You are selling your house?!?!?! Yep!  It turns out living in a one bedroom apartment in Stockholm and then moving back into a 5 bedroom, 4 bath house shows you that less is actually more and that more is just more.  We are OVER living in a big house.  We are different people than we were when we bought this house 7 years ago.  This was going to be our forever home because I thought I'd always live in Kansas.  And then we moved to Stockholm and I realized that it is okay to live in different places.

We don't have a date set because it kind of depends on the house.  Plus we need to figure out living arrangements in Stockholm.  We are thinking we will rent a furnished apartment for a few months and then buy an apartment.  It will take 7-10 weeks for our things to arrive so we should have some time.  We are mostly taking clothes, some toys for Linnea and only a few other things.  We are really excited to "start over" and not take all the clutter we've accumulated over the years.

How did all of this happen?
The short story is that after living in Stockholm on an expat assignment for Jake's job we accidentally fell in love with the city and the way they live life there.  About 72 hours after moving back in October 2015 we realized we wish we would have stayed.  We loved it there.  I had a hard time picturing myself living in a place where I didn't grow up but then I realized that it is okay.  It is okay to live in a place you never imagined yourself living.

We took a few months to try and get used to our "new" normal of living in our house and being back in the States.  Eventually we realized we were just so dang happy in Stockholm why shouldn't we try to move back if we could pull it off.  While we were in Stockholm this summer we heard that we would be able to transfer back.  Once we got back to the US in September we started checking off a LONG list of projects to get the house ready to sell and we are finally seeing the light at the end of that very long tunnel!

How long will you be there?
Great question . . . no idea!  I used to love time lines and set plans but now I kind of like having things open ended.  I don't want to be locked into something if I'm ready for a change but I also don't want to leave if we aren't ready.  (Who the heck am I these days?)

What will we be doing?
Jake will be employed through the Swedish side of his company.  His job won't change all that much.

I am planning on going back to teaching!  As long as we are talking about things I "always thought I'd do" we can throw being a stay at home mom in there.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Linnea but I miss teaching and I'm just not sure staying at home full time is for me.  I miss adult or at least actual conversations that involve two people who can speak in sentences ("book, pease" doesn't count).  I LOVE teaching.  I've been struggling with knowing what to do with Linnea while we are home all day.  I'm not crafty and I struggle with being creative with her age range.  I feel like my passion is teaching older kids.

Other people have a passion for working with younger kids which brings us to Linnea's plans.  She will be going to a Swedish daycare/preschool which we are pumped about!  She will probably be speaking Swedish circles around us in no time.  The daycares/preschools there are awesome and so affordable (about $150 a month including diapers and food).  It is definitely going to be an adjustment and I'm not naive enough to think that we won't have some bumps in the road but I am excited!  All three of us are :).

Will we visit the US?
We are planning on visiting the US twice a year and we would LOVE visitors.  Cough, cough . . . all of you who said you would visit us last time and didn't (most likely because you were having babies) you now have another chance!  We will show you all of the things that made us want to move back and maybe we could even go on a side trip together!  Who's in?!?!?!

We will be busy finishing our list of projects while keeping Linnea from eating soap or any of the other crazy things she's tried recently.  She is into EVERYTHING! Then we will list our house (anyone need a house in Olathe?) and figure out where we will be living in Stockholm.

We're so thankful for our friends and family who have supported this dream of ours.  I know it isn't always easy and we all wish Stockholm was closer (I have thought about that SO MANY TIMES) but we are so excited about this next chapter in our lives!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Linnea 17-18 Months!

Sweet Girl,
You are a year and a half.  I cannot believe it and yet I can barely remember what our days were like before you were here.  I mean I know they involved more sleep and downtime . . . but who needs that anyway :).

You are funny, happy, silly and the best little girl.  I feel like you are no longer a baby.  That makes me a bit sad until I remember how much fun you are as a toddler.  Here are some things you've been up to the last two months:


Stats
At your 18 month well baby check up you weighed 20 lbs 10 oz which was in the 7th percentile and you were 31.5 inches long which was in the 50th percentile.  Still long and lean :).  Your head was 18.5 inches around which was in the 70th percentile.  You got your last shot that you will need until you are in Kindergarten!

Eating
You will still pretty much eat anything.  Your dad feeds you every meal when you are both together.  Man that is such a blessing.  I usually dish up what you are eating but he is in charge of feeding you.  I used to (and sometimes still do) feel guilty about it and then I realized that is stupid.  You need to be fed and you have two parents that are capable of doing that.  Why should every need you have be met by me if your dad is also right there.  (And all the moms said Amen!)  Plus, we all know your dad is a more adventurous eater than I am (although I am getting better) which means you get exposure to spicy foods, fish and other things I don't care for ;).  You like adding pepper to your food (you'll even ask for it) and you recently discovered hot sauce.  Two things I wouldn't have given you.
This video doesn't have much to do with food but she was eating while I filmed it so if you don't like watching kids eat skip this one.

We have started giving you a few sweets here and there.  You are a fan of anything sweet but you also do a great job when we tell you it is all gone.
Corn on the Cob
Sometimes you will say no to a food and then immediately shove it into your mouth.  You used to be pretty good at saying "all done" but recently it has been hit or miss.

You like to "cheers" during dinner.  Jake said one of my cousins taught you how to do that.  It is pretty cute!

You've had more practice with a fork and a spoon recently and sometimes they end up being "all done" after you throw them on the floor :).

Sleeping
You are still an awesome sleeper.  Exhibit A: You had your first pretty bad cold (runny nose, cough, etc) and you still slept 12 hours at night (7:30 pm -7:30 am).  You nap once a day around 1 and it lasts at least 2 hours but sometimes 2.5 or 3 hours.  Over Christmas break you even slept in until 8:30 or 9 a couple of times.  We hit the sleeping jackpot with you!

This is going to potentially sound braggy but I want to write it down so I remember because I know not all kids are great sleepers.  First of all you fall asleep by yourself.  We lay you down when you appear to be wide awake and happy and then you grab your "nigh nigh" (you call your paci your night night because we've told you that you can only have it at night night time) roll to your side and fall asleep.  Sometimes you will talk to yourself for 15-30 minutes and other times you are out in less than 5 minutes.

You can also easily fall asleep in strange places (at other people's houses, in a stroller, as an infant in your car seat under a table or next to the table at a restaurant, etc) and then when we move you to your car seat or your bed you might wake up or you might keep sleeping.  If you do wake up you usually stay awake through the car ride home and then you lay right back down and go to sleep.  No fussing, rocking you to sleep, etc and we don't hear from you again until the next morning.  Every time it happens I am impressed with you.  At Christmas we put you to sleep at your Grandparents' house and then moved you to your Great Grandparents' house next door where we were sleeping.  You barely noticed the first night and had no idea the other two nights.

One night we put you to sleep at your Grandma and Grandpa Janzen's house and then moved you to your other grandparents' house.  You woke up and were fussing in the car.  You started crying pretty hard so I crawled back there with you.  As soon as I got back there you said "book, book".  Apparently you wanted me to read you a book at 11 pm on the way home.  I told you no and that it was time to sleep.  Silly girl.

Your dad is the one who gets you back to sleep the best in the middle of the night.  He has slept with you twice in the chair in your whole life.  I like to give your Finnish Baby Box credit for being such a great sleeper.  Plus we read The Baby Sleep Solution several times before you were born and I think that helped.  Anyway, bottom line is you are a rock star sleeper.

Clothes
You are in 18 month tops and bottoms.  I found lots of cute Christmas outfits.  Most of them were pajamas and I plan on having you wear them for a few more weeks.  Seeing you in Santa and Elf pajamas makes me smile every time.

I also found a super cute dress.  I think it is an elf dress but it also kind of looks like Mrs. Claus.  Either way it is adorable.
You have a few shirts with animals on them (dog) and you really like those shirts.  I need to find one with an owl on it.  You LOVE owls!

You've started wearing bows again which I LOVE!  You often ask for them and like to put them on by yourself.  You also insist that your dad and I wear them as well.

Playtime
You LOVE Yoda (Yodo).



Over Thanksgiving she "watched" Star Wars - aka saw Yoda on the screen.  She was excited and so was her dad :).

Playtime has been so fun to see.  You love to draw and color.  You've also started playing with stickers more.
I walked into our bedroom and found you sitting on/in this box.  It was pretty funny.  You had a hard time getting out of it though.

Cousin time with Paislee!

Cousins!
You like reading about construction equipment so you got a few of those for Christmas.  Your dad gave you a dump truck that you can put together with a screw driver.  Your Grandma Janzen gave you a bulldozer.  You also got an airplane and a helicopter from your Uncle Bob.
I gave you a baby doll.  You like pushing your baby around and I wanted to give you a doll that I picked out.  I LOVED baby dolls as a little girl.  It was really fun to have my own little girl to give a doll to.  It took a while to find one that was cute, with eyes that can open and close and a mouth that you can put a bottle in . . . you know the essentials in baby doll purchasing :).

You love playing with duplos.  This makes your dad so excited!

You love playing with your friends Everly and Lydia.  And us mamas like to hang out :).

Linnea, Lydia and Everly

I love that you picked the squirrel ride on toy at the Matt Ross Community Center!

You've had a great time cooking in your play kitchen.  Your Grandma Jones gave you some wooden food you can cut apart and that has been a fun new toy.
You LOVE to read.  I don't know how many books (or how many times) we read each day but I'm guessing at least 15 books.  After you wake up from your nap I pick you up to cuddle and as soon as we sit down you say "book, pease".  I tell you we have to cuddle first ;).  Then we read one book or two books several times before getting a snack.  I am always impressed when we read a book and you recognize a word or an object.  Often times you will hop down to go get the item or find it in another book.  Text to text connections at such a young age! ;)



You can walk backwards but you don't like to stop until you run into something.

One day I was resting on the couch and your dad was home.  You walked over to me and bit my toe out of the blue.  I was asleep.  It surprised me so much.  I picked you up and immediately carried you into your room and put you in your bed.  Jake commented that he didn't hear much love and logic being used, ha!  You could say I was surprised to wake up to find your teeth sinking into my toe!

Our friends Kevin and Gwen visited us with their foster daughter Katelyn.  She made a picture for you that you love but it belongs on this chair.  You like to sit on it.  I don't know why but I tried to move it from the chair and you were not happy about that.

You love sweeping.
You've started dancing and it is the cutest thing!

 We try to go to parks when the weather isn't super cold.  The sun is going down pretty early so sometimes we get to watch it set at the park.

While we were in Dallas for Thanksgiving you figured out how to swing on your belly.

  At the park with Papa!
You carried this hedge apple all around the park.




We had lots of bad oak mites this year so we weren't able to play in the leaves with you like we wanted to.  Once we had a good freeze we decided it was time to take you out.  We bundled you up in your monkey suit that came in your Finnish Baby Box and we had a great time playing in the leaves!




Your dad had the brilliant idea to have you ride on the rake through the leaves.  You LOVED it!

Our Days
We have been keeping ourselves busy!  We go to a workout class twice a week, MOPS three times a month and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) every week.  Plus we have playdates with friends and other things throughout the week
Activities and Outings
We celebrated Thanksgiving in Dallas.  We've done this for as long as I can remember.  It is probably my favorite holiday.  I love all of the food, family time, fall weather and no stress with presents to buy :).  Plus my mom and uncle still do all the cooking which is always amazing!

A very "Bright" Thanksgiving ;)
Watching your Papa and Uncle Brad do some work in the laundry room.
 My new favorite family photo!












We had lots of fun celebrating Christmas in Olathe and Wichita.  If you didn't read the Christmas blog click here to read it and see lots of pictures of a cute girl in Christmas pjs or a cute dress.  Here are a few just because I couldn't resist.



Your Grandma Janzen taught you that angels say "Gloooria" so whenever you see one you sing like an angel . . . well you try to at least.


 We went to Botanica in December to look at all the lights.  It was COLD!



She loved walking under these lights.

My step-grandma Marilynn passed away this month.  We went to Hill City for the funeral.  She never got to meet you but she loved looking at pictures of you on Facebook.  (I struggle with funerals, other than the obvious reason that someone you love just passed away, because I hate that people from all over will come to a funeral but they probably wouldn't have done that the week before just to have dinner together.  It bothers me that Marilynn never got to meet Linnea.  We kept missing each other at family get togethers.  I just wish there was a way to have a celebration before someone passes away so you can see them and celebrate their life with them.)

My aunt Susan taught you how to give a high five plus 1.  It is really cute!
High five plus 1

The library didn't have regular story times during the month of December but they did have other fun activities like Artsy Baby, Musical Baby and Brain Building Baby.


Painting at the library.  It looks like Lydia might need to teach Linnea a few things about how to hold her paintbrush.  Impressive!

Firsts and New Skills
I would say the biggest skill in the last two months has been your language.  You often try to repeat what we are saying.  There are several words that you can say that I feel like anyone could understand (bye bye, night night, hello, mama, dada, book, milk, again, moon, owl, etc) and then there are some that might be a little tricky but that we understand (I love you - my favorite, apple, shoes, tree, hot dog, abcs, light, star, heart, the list could really go on and on).

You can recognize lots of things in books and in real life.  Often times for animals instead of saying their names (cat, dog, etc) you make the sound (woof woof, meow).  My favorite is when you see an elephant in a book.  The first time your grandmas heard you make a sound like an elephant they both laughed really hard.

You spent your first two nights away from me and your dad.  Man, that was harder than I thought it would be.  I felt perfectly fine having my parents and your dad's parents take care of you but I didn't like the idea of being so far away from you in case something happened.  Once I knew you were in Wichita I was good.  Plus it was the first time your dad and I have both been away from you at the same time overnight.

You found your shadow.  It was the cutest thing ever!

First ponytail!

Apparently you get your sense of adventure from your dad.  You are a little daredevil.  Being with your dad for 15+ years has apparently helped prepared me to be the mother of his kids because I don't freak out as much as I thought I would.

You figured out how to climb onto chairs and the piano bench.  We figured out you could get on the piano bench one day when your dad came home from work. I was in the family room and you were in the front room playing.  I couldn't see you but I could hear you playing the piano (which you can do from the floor) and then your dad walks in.  He looks at me and then you and then his jaw drops.  He asked me if I knew what you were doing and I said "playing the piano?"  You were standing on the piano bench with a pen in your mouth.  I obviously didn't know what you were doing.


Uh oh . . . fell down . . . stuck. . . dat fun.

You have the best dad.


That laugh when you are doing something dangerous.
Remember
I want to remember the first time I heard you say "I love you."  I want to remember how now sometimes when your dad tells you he loves you that you say "I love you . . . mama" and look for me.

I want to remember the way you help your dad with projects.  You are his little shadow.  You use his tools and get so excited.


I want to remember your hugs.  They are the best.  Sometimes you will give us a good squeeze and other times we get lots of pats.  I can't get enough of either one.

When I pick you up and carry you on my left hip you grab my bra strap through my shirt and hold on to it like a handle.

I want to remember your face and little hand holding up one finger saying "one more."  It melts me every time.

Your dad wants to remember how every time he cradles you like a baby you ask him to sing "ABB's" (ABC's).

You are still just the sweetest little girl.  We feel so blessed to call you ours.
Love,
Mama
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