Monday, 29 May 2017

Smile!

It was a big day for Lucas yesterday, after 1 1/2 years he was finally getting rid of his braces!


He had a canine which didn't come down properly, so he had braces fitted in October 2015. He has been so good with them, never complained or whined; brushed really well, sorted out his bands himself and always happily went to the orthodontist at each checkup.


He was really excited to finally see his teeth again, and a bit surprised about how it felt in his mouth without the braces.


He hadn't told anyone at school as he was excited to see today if anyone noticed, hence why I had to wait a day to blog about it..! He was so proud checking out his new smile, made my heart swell.


One down, one to go. Once we get back after the summer holiday, Linnea needs to get fitted too as this stubborn canine seems to run in the family. Although as she has a one-sided cross bite, we need to adjust out first, before the actual braces can be fitted to sort out the canine.

Grand is an understatement

Today I would like to repost one of my best shots of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of my absolute favourite places here in Abu Dhabi:


I just read yesterday that the Grand Mosque was just announced to be ranked, once again, second on the popular travel site TripAdvisors Travelers' Choice list of most popular landmarks around the world. (It was only beaten out by Angkor Wat in Cambodia.)

Every year TripAdvisor let their users vote on the worlds' top hotels, airlines, beaches, museums, restaurants, attractions etc; and according to their users, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the 2017 second most popular landmark IN THE WORLD.

So what are you waiting for? Book a flight, come stay in our guest room and go visit the most beautiful mosque in the world!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Returning home

I arrived in Sweden with a suitcase weighing 11 kg but when I left it weighed 29,3 kg! Just on the limit! Full of Swedish food and goodies, a few gifts, some new clothes (for me!), and other things I had stocked up on.

I really enjoyed my drive back up to Arlanda airport, even though it was a long four plus hours. It's a bit boring when you are all on your own and have nobody to talk to, but the scenery was breathtaking. I kept "fueling up" on all the green hills and the yellow fields along the way. So pretty!


I also made a pit stop in Västerås to catch up with an old friend of mine, Maud. I went to Paris those 25 years ago, after I had graduated, to become an Au Pair. I took over a family from Maud, and as she stayed on in Paris with another family, we spent most our weekends together that whole year.


It was great to catch up again, so lovely to see the fabulous apartment where she lives now and meet her family. I hadn't even met her 8-year old son before, and her now 14-year old daughter was a toddler last time we met!

For this trip I had booked with Qatar Airways for the first time. The advantage with Qatar is that you get to fly from and to Abu Dhabi, the disadvantage is that you have to transit in Doha. On the way there I only had a little over an hour there, which made the trip about as long as when we use Emirates out of Dubai. On the way back I had over three hours though... Bleeerrghh... Anyway, gave me time to have some proper coffee, and check out the famous giant teddy bear:


This is actually a sculpture, made out of cast bronze. This sculpture called 'Lamp Bear' was designed by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. It is 7m tall, weighs approximately 20 tons and it was acquired by the Qatari Royal family at an auction at Christie's for $6,8 million! Don't miss it if you travel through Doha, it's quite impressive!

Anyhow, it is good to be home again even though it is only for another four weeks, then it is time for summer holidays!

Meanwhile back home

For me to be gone a whole week was only made possible by Nathan having his four days off all together, and also by the help of some friends. Both kids had to go with friends on sleepovers on the Thursday when Nathan was flying, and again when he was gone the whole day to Kathmandu on the  Saturday. They were super lucky to be taken out on a boat with by neighbours.

It was also the last normal week at school before Ramadan, and as with that the shorter school days start; so many things were scheduled to happen this week.
Nathan went to both the kids' Student Led Conferences, a sort of Parent-Teacher meet, but without too much actual interference by the teachers. Mixed results... a bit of talking/disturbing in class, a bit of only making minimal effort, a bit of this and a bit of that... Hmm, nothing new really.

Linnea had a class party to celebrate their successful Grade 5 Exhibition, and the start of Ramadan. Only four weeks to go of this school year now, and it's no secret that the attendance at school really takes a dive as soon as Ramadan starts...

Linnea also participated in the PYP Sports Award Ceremony, and came home with three lovely certificates:


Well done Sporty Spice! Super proud of you!

Happy Birthday

The actual birthday started with singing and gifts for the birthday girl before getting out of bed, as per tradition in our family.


We then took off on an all-day excursion in the sunshine, around Kinnekulle. We went up to the top and had coffee at Kinnekullegården. Such an amazing view!





We also did a stop at Falkängen Hantverksby. Super pittoresque:



We took a walk at Munkängarna, which is a nature reserve area. It has long been custom to visit here for recreational purposes, it is one of the most visited sites around here today. We were just a tad early to see the wild garlic/ramsom bloom, any day now there will be a sea of white flowers across this area. I still enjoyed the greenery though, so pretty.






We did spot a few little ramsons:


We finished off our day out with yummy dinner in Lidköping in the evening sun. Such a good day!

Shopping time

Monday it was time for a last round of the shops. Normally in the summer by the time I arrive in July, the sales have already started. Good of course, cause things are cheap, but you don't always have the full selection anymore. I really looked forward to browsing all the Swedish brands and shops.
City chic on the way to the "big" city Skövde:


I had asked the kids if there was anything specific they wanted me to bring back from Sweden. Lucas wanted mainly candy and 'kassler' (=smoked pork loin, his favourite), maybe new shorts and his favourite bread if I had space.
Linnea, well, she sent me this:


I braced myself.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The birthday party

My Mum thought she was working all weekend, little did she know that I had organized (with the help of my cousin) so that she would have the days off while I was there. He he he!
I had also invited the whole family and a few friends to come and celebrate her on the Sunday afternoon. She got just a little bit surprised when car after car pulled up..!



There was no preparations needed, I had (well, my cousin Emma again...) ordered a couple of huge cakes. A traditional Swedish 'smörgåstårta' (=sandwichcake), and a 'Prinsesstårta'.


Mmmmmmm...










We were so lucky that the good weather had finally turned up, so that we could sit outside. So nice with a proper garden party!



I had to take a selfie to prove that I was there too!

Student -92

So in the evening I had agreed with one of my old class mates, Karin, to join in the celebrations of the rest of the 'Student -92'-gang.  Rather than go to the official dinner with the association, there had been a special dinner organized just for us at one of the restaurants in town.


Sure it was a good night with old traditions, good food and nice encounters; although I was utterly disappointed that out of 400 graduates - only 14 managed to join the dinner!! I guess May is a busy month for many, with weddings and confirmations etc; and people like me who live abroad, can rarely travel before the summer holidays, but still, disappointing.

At least I got to catch up with my friend Karin, which was really lovely, and I really, really enjoyed the traditional concert in Botan by the 'Musikens Vänner' choir. This choir was started in 1886, and they still sing many of the same songs as they did back then.



As per tradition, during the second part of their concert they called upon any previous members:


It was so lovely to listen to all the familiar songs, gave me goose bumps.




After the concert in Botan, they did the traditional march to Krabbelund and on to the official festivities at Stadshotellet. 


Us -92s continued the party with our own dinner party: