A new job, a new home and new schools in a new country mean new beginnings for our family having moved  from the of Europe to Stockholm.

Still learning a new job, we have a whole new house to move into and settle down into while the boys have started their new schools. So yes, it all keeps me quite busy. But in a good way. 🙂

This summer was like no summer before, but I learnt a lot of things. Especially that life is fragile, so all of you please live now, do not postpone to a later time. All that really matters is here and now!
 

 

 

 

You know those thank you speeches at the Oscars? Well, that is what I feel like giving right here and now instead of a recap of all the things that have happened since I last posted.

First of all, thank you dear readers who are sticking with me and checking for new posts. I know that there are a few of you; due both to the blog statistics and personal e-mails I have been receiving this spring.

Then I would like to make it offficial, even though I have of course said it many times in person as well, a BIG THANK YOU to my dear hubby for holding the fortress at home while I have moved away and taken up duty in a different country. I know firsthand that it is quite a chore to keep up with everything both at work and at home. You are doing a great job! 🙂

Then another thank you to our children who are putting up with having mommy away for such a long time. We are fortunate to be able to keep in touch through all the different types of communication technology, but still it is not the same thing as in real life. I do manage to fly home to be with them every other weekend, but family life is far from normal right now! We will get back to it eventually. Love you.

Yet another thank you to all our friends – and colleagues – in Belgium who have been wonderful to us in so many ways. I had better also mention our amazing neighbours, although I do consider them our friends now after 16 years next door. There have been different ways of saying farewell, and I know that it will of course only be a SEE YOU SOON instead! 🙂 We have still not said properly goodbye to many of you, but do not count us out just yet. We still have a couple of months…

Then a HUGE thank you to my dear family in the USA who gave me and the boys a fantastic break from the moving frenzy in April. You were all wonderful hosts – as usual – and showed us an incredible hospitality and we got to see the best of your ‘hoods whether in NY, Alabama or Tennessee. Thank you once again for taking so good care of us. A trip to treasure forever.

And then there are so many wonderful people who have been so welcoming to me after having taken the plunge. After nearly 21 years in Brussels it is of course totally life-altering coming to Stockholm, a move of 1700 km:

First of all my dear friend M; who lets me stay in his guestroom and  makes me feel like I am at home. We have had a great few weeks together and I am sure we will be good friends even after these two months.

I am so grateful for all family and friends in Stockholm who agreed to be in my closed FB-support group to help me out with all my practical questions about the move. Thank you all for your input. And thank you for your kind dinner invitations and other fun stuff you have suggested. I will take you up on some of them soon, so far I have only “accepted” a few, but that is only because of my packed agenda.

Another big thank you and I love you go to my immediate family in Åland; my brothers and sisters-in-law have been extremely helpful with providing all sorts of support at Tallgläntan – and elsewhere – so that I have been able to go there and enjoy its proximity to Stockholm, almost every second weekend. Amazing.

Other family-members and friends in Åland also deserve a big thank you; it has been a sheer pleasure to meet the new babies who have been born since Christmas – and I am forever grateful to all of you who showed up for the outdoor spring-cleaning at Tallgläntan a few weekends back.

Last but not least I feel very welcome into my new job and want to extend my warmest gratitude to all my new colleagues. I feel like I am in the middle of making new friends. The same actually goes for the couple renting us their house. They are taking the plunge this coming week leaving for Australia and we will be trying to look after their house like our own from mid-August! 🙂

Please forgive me if I have forgot to mention some of you wonderful people out there. There is just a lot going on in my life right now, but I am definitely back blogging. And you might see some changes around here before too long! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a picture can tell more than a thousand words; right?

Winterbreak

Work

Luxembourg with Best of Friends

Sure Signs of Spring

 

Yep, that will be it for this time – take care out there, wherever you are! 🙂

Two notebooks are my big crutches in life right now; one bigger in green for my new job and a smaller bluetiful one for our big move to Stockholm.

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This is me trying to compartmentalize* my packed life right now. Trying to sort out and keep track of what it is going on and what needs to be done in an orderly manner.

So far the green notebook is filling up more quickly – I am attending a lot of useful courses in view of my new job and there are a lot of workrelated dates to keep track of for it. Meetings, seminars and other events that I will need to attend here in Brussels and Luxembourg, and plan for when on location in Stockholm. There are also other tasks that will have to be done before even taking up the position, i.e. planning events, both hands on and administrative routines. Let me tell you my head is packed with new impressions every day.

The blue notebook is coming along nicely also: all the flights for my commute between Stockholm and Brussels during the first two months have been bought. In principle I will be going home to my family at least every two weeks.

Then there is, of course, the move to Sweden, the physical one. I have already started the paperwork for that, but I know there will be a lot of planning for this also. Different removal companies I have to meet with. Decisions to make. Dates to decide on… But right now I am more focused on trying to get started on sorting through all our things here; we will most certainly not move the things that we could rather give away or throw out…

There is a lot of school-meetings in the pipeline right now; different teachers wanting to see us for different reasons… I am also trying to see as many friends as possible, even though I need to speed things up a little in that compartment. I will be seeing all my friends in Luxembourg in the next few weeks, and need to plan some type of get-together for the ones here in Brussels as well. I still am undecided what to do for my colleagues…

The vacation for the whole year has also been planned – and I must say I am pretty excited about it all. Two trips to the US have been booked and paid for, one in April and the other in October. And a long summerbreak has been approved so we can manage both the physical move from Brussels to Stockholm as well as have a few weeks off at our very own slice of heaven on earth in the bluetiful Åland Islands.

But this is of course only the beginning. The real work start when I get to Stockholm; not only having to learn the new job during the first month but also finding the family a home in only two months – on a tight housing-market…

So yes compartmentalizing it all works wonders for me. I deal with one thing at a time, but use the notebooks to keep track of everything. And helping me with all of this is not only the notebooks but also the fact that starting Monday I will be working halftime the rest of my time in Brussels… Let the countdown begin!

* According to Merriam Webster’s definition of compartmentalize the word simply means to separate into isolated compartments or categories. I know that there is also a negative connotation to the word meaning that one blocks stuff out of one’s life in order to avoid dealing with the difficult stuff… That is not I!

Hi there in French, just a short note to let you know that all is well with us. We have a few busy months ahead of us now, and I do try to keep track of everything that needs to get done before I move to Stockholm on 1 May. I am writing lists like never before, and also jotting down different appointments and dates in the family calendar on the fridge door. Some things are still open, we know that the boys will follow after the school is out on 7 July whereas it is still open when Dear Hubby will follow.

Still house-hunting in Stockholm – and I have no clue what I am getting myself into… In the end we might not rent anything before I am all settled in, or at least on location. I am so fortunate to have got offers to stay with two good friends, so at least I will not have to look for a first dwelling. I can thus put all efforts into finding a house for the family instead. 🙂 Thank you M – and K – for your kind offers.

It feels like life is full of making plans right now. At work I have been asked to take courses that will help me in my new position in Stockholm, and due to the great variety of tasks that I will be doing there,  the spread of courses I will attend in the near future is great, for instance Public Speaking, Writing for the Web, Social Media, Financial Files… And believe me it is like a new start, a real kickoff to something new, I can hardly wait! 🙂

At home we are also busy getting things done not only around the house but also different medical visits. We have seen two roof-layers, the water-filter guy and others. We will also be seeing our dentist, ophthalmologist and other specialists before moving… Then there are the boys birthday-parties that need to be planned plenty of time ahead taking into account what weekends I will be flying in from Stockholm since I will be commuting between Brussels and Stockholm during my two first months on the new job.

We are also trying to keep somewhat of a social agenda, but are not doing so great in that department yet. Hopefully we will improve a lot in order to see so many of our friends here as possible before we leave…

Last but not least we are planning our overseas trip during the Easter holidays; a trip to see loved ones over there. New York and the South is on the travel agenda. And I also try to plan ahead for receiving American family in Åland this summer, so yes I can testify to life not being boring – at all. But rest assured, this all makes me happy, happy, happy! 🙂

We have a new president in the USA, the Trump. I will not get into his politics other than that I am not a fan. But what do get my spirits up are definitely all Women’s Marches around the USA and in Europe, and elsewhere as well. Only in Washington DC, where both my American Big Sisters are marching with their daughters, half a million women have hit the streets. Impressive.

Myself, well I chickened out from the Women’s March downtown Brussels. I know, one should not be intimidated, but I am, I still try to avoid big crowds of people, especially in Belgium.

More courageous family-members and friends have marched all over the globe last evening and today:

Way to go, gals, I am so proud of you! ❤

 

Yes, dreams do come true, 2017 is the year we will move to Stockholm, Venice of the North. After 21 good years in the  of Europe, I have now got a new job in the capital of Sweden, which means we will then be only a few hours away from my family and friends in the Åland Islands. On the plus side we also already have both family and friends in Stockholm and vicinity.

Having said all of the above, the details of our move are still being worked out, so do have patience with me. I will try to fill you in along the way. In the meantime I will leave you with this photo I took flying over downtown Stockholm in June 2o14.

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Already late summer we go the nicest of party invitations…

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I just knew I had to go to this party where two of my best friends would be celebrating their big birthdays of ’66 together. I just had to go. Dear Hubby was kind enough to stay behind in the  of Europe since the boys had compulsory school and there is no way we could be making it back and forth to Åland in only 48 h…

Like in the good old days we started the party off with a pre-party at another Dear Friend’s, but due to illness that party – or luncheon rather – was cut a bit short. But that did not stop me who was already in the party mood. So there I was after a wonderful lunch at Dear G’s, all alone with a beer in the sauna with a view to kill for…

Then it was PARTYTIME! Knowing B&T aka Padam I knew we were in for a treat. And boy did they deliver!

 

I am far from a mingler – I am anything but great at meeting new people in masses. On the other hand I love meeting new people in smaller parties, but here the combination was just perfect, even though the party was indeed HUGE. In the end, I think we were around 130 people at this party.

We were seated at “smaller” tables of about 8 guests; at my table I only knew three people. But again I knew I could trust Padam. I do not know how much time they had put into the seating order, but I must say I think nobody complained after that evening. It was definitely not only at our table we were laughing all night long. The table next to ours must have been the loudest from all the laughter, even though they too did not know each other from the start…

The menu was fantastic and the glasses never ran empty. There was a lot of singing – and only a few speeches although a lot of toasts! 😉 There was live music – and Ålanders my age still know how to dance, so we danced all night loooooong.

 

And then there was night food; yes, an old Åland tradition is that after the main menu there will also be nightfood….

And spirits were maintained high all evening, until the last half hour when some went too low…15065165_10154494936411005_1035992969_o

You might already have deducted that I had way too much fun at this party to remember to take loads of pictures, thus most of these photos are courtesy of Annica, Tove’s sister.

 

After more than 20 years of living abroad it has been almost as long since I visited the Åland Islands in October… What a beautiful place our archipelago is even in the autumn – or fall like I prefer to call it… The Finns have a special word for the time of year when the leaves first turn very bright before falling to the ground, ruska. I just love the ruska times! 🙂

 

The seawater level was also among the lowest I have ever seen it at Tallgläntan. Yes, it can go very low in the weeks of truly beautiful summer weather a few weeks per yaer, but I cannot remember having seen it this low. The photo below is a picture for comparison: the top photo from the morning when we left – with fresh ice laying in the bay – and the bottom one more than three weeks earlier…

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Then more photos from various beaches from the same fall period…

Westside Tallgläntan

Eastside Tallgläntan

North tip of Tallören

 

 

I never tell you much about my work, do I? I am about to receive a 20 years of service medal, so I guess it is ok for me to mention that I work as a translator for the European Commission. It has been a dream come true for such a long time; and I am very grateful for having got this wonderful opportunity to contribute to the European Union. I will keep it at that.

Thanks to my employer I had a chance to go back and visit my old schools in the Åland Islands in the annual Back-to-School drive, where we are invited to go back to our schools and give firsthand accounts of what it is like to be working for the European Commission. I have planned to do this a long time already, but I did not go through with it before this year. I got good support in view of the visits, so I followed a short course and also got a lot of information material and more for distribution to the students. Still it was a bit overwhelming when I went and picked up all the material upon my arrival in the islands:


First out was my old primary school with grades 1-6.  It is still as tiny as when I grew up. Some 30 pupils in the school, with two grades in the three classrooms. I visited grades 3-4 and 5-6.


This was the school where the interaction with the pupils was the most intense; they were such sweethearts with lots of questions, but I did not mind being interrupted all the time! 🙂 The school has been redone since I went there many years ago, so I was very glad to be shown around the new facilites.

Then I went back to my junior high school for the first time since I left there in 1981. And I am so glad I did, because all my bad memories from those three years were replaced with only new good experiences. The teachers, pupils and staff as well as the facilities were really uplifting. Such a good atmosphere and so much great energy!

I visited all four ninth grade classes. I also stumbled upon my first German teacher, who was now retired but still substitutes in the school from time to time… And one of my bossom friends works in that very school since many years, so she gave the grand tour of all the facilities.

Last school out was my senior high school which has changed so much since I graduated in 1985. It has almost doubled in size and there are so many more programmes the students can choose from. This visit was the biggest challenge, but that I already knew from the start, since the students were so diversified. I met with two bigger crowds in the auditorium, the first one a mix of all language students, and the other the students who were taking a course on the EU right now… Lastly I met with a group of students for a more general get-together in the library. Since there still is only one senior high school in the Åland Islands, it did not come as a big surprise that I got to meet both relatives and children of my friends who attend te school. But it was not only the kids I know who came up to talk to me,  also other students did.

All in all I met with more than 200 pupils/students, in groups of 10-60 in the ages of 9-19… I am very happy with my visits; the exchanges were inspirational both for me and, I hope, the students! 🙂

 

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