My first full day in Sweden was simultaneously tiring and exciting. While I was completely exhausted, I still only managed to sleep for four or five hours, because my body was still on American time in some sense, and fighting the acclimation to European time. It’s strange, because it is the first time in the past two years that I’ve experienced jetlag upon arrival. Usually it hits me when I get back home after having traveled for weeks.
Unfortunately, I woke up at 4 a.m., and despite attempts to fall back asleep, knowing full well the children would be up between 6 and 7, I still was unable to do so. So I finally gave in just past 6 a.m., and greeted the day with a hot shower, which made me feel slightly human again.
The next few hours were filled with playing with the kids and breakfast, which was maybe a three hour affair. Swedish breakfast is super delicious and kind of elaborate, and I wish I could have a spread like that every morning (although admittedly I don’t typically eat breakfast simply because I am not awake early enough, or I’m in a hurry). But I ended up having coffee (Gevalia, and made strong – just how I like it), orange juice, fruit (grapes, bananas), bread and crackers with various cheeses, and muesli with yogurt.
A couple hours later, we all got ready to go out, which is a show for sure, because not only does the Swedish winter weather require layers upon layers, but of course the children were anything but cooperative, and there were multiple instances of little naked children running around and avoiding capture, for capture meant they had to get dressed.
Our first adventure was out to the nearby school (where both Filip and Tilde attend Kindergarten). It’s a short walk from the house – maybe five minutes total. In the yard there is a giant slope, so we jumped the fence with our sleds and spent some time sliding down the hills, until Tilde decided she was done and wanted to go home. I found the snow to be just perfect: not too icy so I wasn’t sliding around (since the traction on my boots is only so-so). Instead, it was powdery and light and conducive for sledding and walking.
Once back in the house, we had lunch, which consisted of veg chicken stuff called Quorn. It was so so good; the texture was dead on, and even though I don’t like mushrooms, it didn’t even taste like them! Lunch was followed by an afternoon snack of pastries and coffee. I haven’t mentioned it before, but I love this European habit of setting aside a time for having sweets and coffee in the afternoon.
We decided after snacks to go on a walk, but Filip’s friend ended up coming over, so Magnus stayed home with him while the kids played in the snow, and I joined Linda on a walk through the neighborhood with the stroller. The goal of it was to get Tilde to fall asleep, and it was successful, as by the time we got back home, she was sound asleep. The walk was nice because I got to see a lot of things, like the nearby lake, the sports center where the Kållered Icebears play, and a whole herd of rådjur (or roe deer).
Later in the evening we had dinner, at which point I was privy to a special event, which Magnus refers to as the Östberg Circus. This entails a unique but variable combination of things. One is the excitement of the holidays and the visitors it brings, which makes for riled-up children. Another is because of the snow, which keeps the kids cooped inside more often than they might like or need (and getting ready to go out is a whole other experience in an of itself). And finally, last night’s key component was a parsnip, corn and carrot soup, which both Filip and Tilde decided before even trying that they didn’t like. Getting them to eat was a struggle which involved them trying to eat as much bread as possible (“not until you eat some soup”), pretending to eat the soup but faking it, grimacing when they had to eat some, and running away from the table (Filip excused himself to the bathroom, where he remained for some 15 minutes and amused himself [and us] by singing the song “Manboy” to himself, while Tilde decided to run upstairs and play with her toys because they were far more interesting than dinner). Eventually a compromise was made, which allowed for the children to have some sausages and bread in lieu of finishing their soup. I think more than anything, it was a bit of victory for the children, but any way you slice it, it was quite entertaining to watch.
Dinner also included some wine, so by the time 9 p.m. rolled around, I was exhausted, and made it to bed by then, giving myself a good nine hours of sleep before I had to get up to leave for Germany.