Monday, August 24, 2015

2 Years!

I cannot believe we have lived in Stockholm for two years.  In some ways it feels like we just moved and in other ways like we've been here for years.  I was talking to Jake about our two year anniversary and he asked me how two years felt different than living here after one year.  We both agreed that after one year it felt like we had been on a really long trip but after two years we feel like this is our home.  It feels more like we've lived here.  Stockholm is our home, just for us, that we made together.  We both grew up in Kansas and hadn't ever left so Kansas was home for us but also for all of our family and friends.  Stockholm is just ours which makes it feel extra special.
Looking at these pictures of the day we moved to Stockholm just makes me smile and wish I could have told myself that these next two years were going to be some of the best yet!

In the last year we've gone on a few more trips, had some more adventures together but the most memorable thing was the birth of our daughter.  Here are some pictures of what we've been up to the last year.  I have some thoughts about this experience at the end of the post.

My parents visited in August 2014.  We hung out with them in Stockholm and then went to Switzerland with them for 5 days.
Our time in Stockholm.
Our time in Switzerland.

In September we went to Croatia on probably our favorite trip so far.  We went to Dubrovnik and then Split.
Dubrovnik and Split, Croatia

Jake's friend Dave joined us in Northern Ireland in October.
I was pregnant with Baker during this trip but didn't know it.  It is crazy to think that she was here with us (and it would explain why I fell asleep in a pub).

At the end of October and beginning of November we met Jake's parents in Italy.
We went to Rome, Florence and Venice.  (I knew I was pregnant but we didn't tell his parents because it was really early.  That was a hard secret to keep.)

In February 2015, we went to France and Spain.
We went to Paris, Malaga and Barcelona, Spain.

We went back to the US in April to visit friends and family before Baker arrived.
Feeling so much love for Baker in such a short amount of time!

My Aunt Carmen and Cousin Holly visited us in May.

Our greatest adventure so far started on July 5th, 2015 when Baker finally decided to arrive.
We've spent the last 7 weeks just enjoying our time with her.  It is going by so fast!

We went to the Archipelago to enjoy a true Swedish summer with Jake's coworker Tim and his family.  (I'm hoping to post more pictures later on.)  While we were on one of the islands in the archipelago I was pushing Linnea in the stroller and I told Jake that I couldn't believe I was pushing our daughter.  He said that it is funny that I was more surprised to be pushing our daughter than to be doing it in Stockholm, Sweden.  Had he told me three years ago that I'd be most surprised about having a baby rather than living in Sweden I wouldn't have believed him.

This adventure is coming to a close as we prepared to move back home.  I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.  Living in Stockholm has changed me in more ways than I anticipated before moving here.  I might actually claim to be somewhat adventurous.  Before moving here I would have never said that but after the overseas move and all of our trips I think I can claim that I am now "pretty" adventurous and I really like it.  I'm nowhere near Jake's level but I'm at least on the scale :).

Living in Sweden brought Jake and I so much closer together.  I think there is a lot that contributes to that but the two main things would be relying on each other so much during the move and all of the adventures we've been on together.  There is something about having to rely on only one person that really bonds you.  Before moving I would have told you that Jake and I were pretty independent and didn't rely on our parents or others too much but having him as my only go to person in Sweden changed our relationship.  We had to communicate so much more about our fears and celebrations.  We would joke about not being able to get too mad at each other because we were the only ones in the city . . . country . . . continent that we knew.

All of the adventures definitely help bring us closer together as well.  Jake is very adventurous and with lots of coaxing I can usually be talked in to most things but I still drag my feet and worry about everything that could go wrong.  I like to do things that I know and that are familiar.  Traveling definitely stretched me and I love that is has made me less scared to try new things.  All of the memories we've made on our trips are worth more than I can put into words.

Over the last two years I feel like I've learned a lot about other cultures from visiting new places but also from meeting people in Stockholm from different countries.  I like learning about how different cultures do things.  I feel like it really opens your eyes to realize that the US isn't the end all be all.  There are so many things that other countries do that makes sense now that I've experienced them and I wish the US would get on board with some of them . . .hello parental leave!  I would highly encourage everyone to live in a foreign country for a least a short period of time if you can but I think two years is about the right amount of time :).  Living here now makes me wish I would have done a study abroad in college and I know Jake really regretted not doing one even then.  This was kind of a make up for him.

I can't imagine not living in Sweden now that we've done it.  It just seems like it was meant to be.  I am so thankful I wasn't too scared to say yes.  (And even more thankful that when we called our parents two years ago to tell them about it that they encouraged us to do it.  Jake says I called my parents so I could have my mom tell me I couldn't go . . . but she was so encouraging about it.) I could see us living abroad again, not right away but maybe in 5-10 years.  We would do some things differently like getting plugged in and making friends as soon as we move, learning the language and try to really embrace living there.  I felt like it took me about six months to a year to realize making new friends here didn't mean I was losing friends back home. It is going to be hard to say good bye to the friends we've made here when we move back home but hopefully we will stay in touch.

Writing this blog has made me really realize how much I'm going to miss Stockholm and how hard it is going to be to close this chapter.  I knew it would be hard for Jake.  He would stay another year or indefinitely if I agreed to it.  I didn't expect our moving home date to come with such a lump in my throat.  Don't get me wrong, I am really excited to go home and be with friends and family and introduce Linnea to all of them but leaving is going to be hard.  I think moving back will be harder than moving here.  I knew moving here was temporary and moving back seems so permanent.  So why is the permanent move back home so hard  . . . for the girl who hates change?  I don't know if we will ever live in Stockholm again or out of the country for that matter and that gives me a lump in my throat.  Wasn't expecting that . . . maybe I've changed more than I realized.  I am so thankful for this opportunity and for the friends and family who have supported us through it all.  I couldn't have done it without them!

Thanks for following along on our journey!  Hopefully you have been inspired to reach out of your comfort zone and try a few new things!

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