Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Wedding of the Century (again!)

We had serious doubts that “Apple David” (Rebecka’s 2-year-old version of “Uncle David”) would ever get hitched. I mean he is after all 15 years older than little brother Todd was when we got married. But nevertheless, a couple of weekends ago, it happened with a bang!

Friday, November 2 – Fairly calm morning. Slept late, went for my first outdoors job in a loooong time, helped Todd pick up tuxedo (very handsome). In short, this day was very different from the craziness of the day before the last Wedding of the Century.

Around 3:30 PM or so, we headed over to the church for the rehearsal. Both Todd (Best Man) and Rebecka (Jr. Bridesmaid) were in the wedding, so obviously they needed to be there. The members of the wedding party started dropping in one by one. I just sat back, relaxed, and took it all in.

Around 4:45 PM, I drove our rental car (yay for Hertz rewards!) over to the venue for the rehearsal dinner to help with the “technical” setup (i.e. hook up DVD player to projector). The venue was an ice skating complex adjacent to a mall. I wandered around for a while searching for Party Room #2 (“The Den”). I got a little lost. Then I found it and met aunt of Caroline, retired educator and owner of Bed and Breakfast in Vermont. We had some good conversation around whether school systems around the country focus too much on children with special needs (below average and over average) to the point that the “average” kid gets lost or if more funds should be spent on our extra talented kids (as is the point of view of a recent TIME magazine cover story). We were rudely interrupted by the arrival of the rest of the rehearsal dinner guests (I guess that was after all the main point of the evening).

Dinner went well with a good mix of salad, wine, and Swedish fish. When dinner was over, Rebecka talked me into going skating with her on one of the skating rinks. I was concerned about getting cold, but I submitted to her will (as is fairly common). It was fantastic! It had been a really, really long time since I went ice skating and I forgot how much fun it is. Rebecka progressed from clinging onto me and the side of the rink to independent skating in a matter of 30 minutes. We had an enthusiastic audience as the rehearsal dinner was directly above the rink. Then Rebecka got tired and left. I kept skating. I eventually made it back upstairs and joined the relatives until it was time to go home.

Saturday, November 3 – Again, a freakishly calm morning, considering we were at the house of the groom, the day of the wedding. Apparently, Apple D had taken care of everything the previous evening. So organized! I went for another 45 minute jog on the “Four mile” trail. It was crisp and refreshing. Then we began the beautification process (at least for me and Rebecka) with blow dryers and flattening irons galore. Brush, brush, brush that hair and those teeth. Arrive at church way ahead of time for further beautification, bonding, and behind the scenes pictures. Rebecka was on look-out duty to make sure the groom did not catch a glimpse of his bride before it was time. She also had the opportunity to sneak in some Nintendo DS time…


Caroline was like a dream:



All of a sudden, it was time and I found myself sitting in church next to brother-in-law #1. David, Todd and the rest of the groomspeople (yes – there was a groomswoman) stood at the front of the church eagerly awaiting the bride’s party to enter. When Caroline finally made her entrance walking between her parents, the look on David’s face made half of the congregation have to pull out their Kleenex (crap – I forgot to stuff some into my miniature wedding purse!). It was overwhelming love, extreme happiness and excitement all rolled into one. It’s making me tear up now, just thinking about it.

I have to say, Rebecka did a fantastic job as Jr. Bridesmaid. For large portions of the ceremony, she had to hold both her and Caroline’s bouquet. It was heavy! She didn’t fidget and stood there the whole time like a little lady. Good job! Todd was obviously kick-ass too. He didn’t drop the ring or anything crazy like that. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smoother ring-from-pocket-to-groom delivery.

Once all the wedding guests had cleared out, it was picture time (boring! - for innocent bystanders like me, at least). The photographer was very bossy. I told her as much. She ignored me.

Once all that nonsense was done, we headed over to the reception at the Hilton. We caught the end of the cocktail hour (thank God!). The cocktails for the evening were Green-tinis (so clever…). I opted for wine. I spent some time chatting with Todd’s Uncle Mike. He has a ponytail. He’s not cutting his hair until the war ends. I have increased respect for the man. We asked him to take a picture of us:


The evening proceeded according to schedule (which Todd kept close to his heart in the interior pocket of his tuxedo). Todd was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. He did a fabulous job. He introduced the first dance at the right time…


…and the “Best Man Toast” was perfect. There was much dancing and rejoicing. This wedding was indeed a worthy candidate for the Wedding of the Century title. I think we have a tie!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm back... once again

So the last few weeks have been absolutely insane!!! I don't quite know where to start.

Looking at my calendar, it appears as though these are some of the events which transpired:

10/20/07 - Eyebrow wax with Nicole. Ouch!!!! I'm not sure why we put ourselves through this pain... This time I asked for no waxing above the eyebrow which greatly reduced outbreak. Yes!

10/22/07 - Drive down to Atlanta in the morning and then fly out to Wisconsin the same evening.

10/23/07 - Sign up for an additional cell phone line and order pink phone. Yes, my 10-year-old now has a cell pone.

10/26/07 - Attend wedding in Wisconsin. It was beautiful. It was also beautiful that we got to ride to and from the various venues in a limo. Good thing since I have never tried to find my way around in downtown Milwaukee.

10/31/07 - Back home and time for Halloween! Rebecka and I dressed up as each other. At least one person recognized her as an executive (success!). And I got a "That's cool!" from one of her friends (double success!). Trick-or-treating was fun. Especially with Sophie. Although, I'm not sure how thrilled she was with her pumpkin outfit.

11/1/07 - Eye doctor appointment. I'm completely out of contacts (except for the ones I'm wearing). I left my insurance card there. It's still there.

11/1/07 - Head to Washington DC for wedding #2. Getting to the plane was an adventure in itself. In my infinite travel wisdom, I had decided we would leave the house 90 minutes prior to departure which should give us plenty of time to get to the airport (20 minutes), park in the economy lot (10 minutes) and be at the check-in desk an hour ahead of time (luxurious!). We set off perhaps 6-7 minutes later than planned, but I didn't worry about it. However, we soon realized traffic was slightly worse than normal. Actually, not slightly, rather a lot worse than normal. As we crept towards the airport, we wavered between hope and despair. Ultimately, we decided we were going to go for it. I came up with the following plan:

1. Tabita to drop off Todd, Rebecka and all check-in bags at terminal.

2. Tabita to drive to short term parking and park the car.

3. Todd and Rebecka to beg to skip to the front of the line and check in bags at Southwest counter.

4. Tabita to grab remaining bags and sprint to security line.

5. Todd and Rebecka to go to same security line.

6. All to run to the gate (which happened to be very, very far away).

It worked!!! We were the last people on the plane and we didn't all get seats together, but we made it.

11/2/07 - 11/3/07 - Wedding stuff. Separate post to come.

11/4/07 - Say bye to family and fly to Boston for a day of UIE conference. Fantastic and inspiring!

11/5/07 - Fly back to Wisconsin. Get sick with sore throat, etc. Sick!?!?!? I don't get sick.

11/7/07 - Fly home. Home sweet home. Still not feeling well.

11/10/07 - Make it back to the gym after one whole week of no exercise. Panic. Decide to work out every day until New Years. Play Brain Age for first time in three weeks (the computerized Dr. was not pleased with me). Clean entire downstairs (with much help from Todd). It feels so good!!! Blog.

Yep - that's pretty much it. Time to freshen up before company arrives in 38 minutes. Todd has already started working on the chili. I should probably get going.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tired...

Tired, tired, tired... Really tired. I'm going to go lie in bed and watch LOTR III (take three). It takes me about six evenings to get through that movie. Because I fall asleep. Because I'm exhausted. I need help.

Todd wants everybody to know that he is officially "spot worthy." Apparently some big muscle man asked Todd to spot him at the gym yesterday. He was about to lift more than he had ever lifted before. Todd was really glad the guy didn't drop the bar. Todd was even happier the guy picked him above all the other people at the gym for the spotting honor. Babe, next time, I'll let you spot me!

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Monday, October 15, 2007

My 500th post...

Just signed on and Blogger informed me I have previously written 499 posts. I'm not sure that I've even paid attention to that count before, but there you have it.

I think I also have blogging anniversary right about now. Yes indeed, I just passed my 3 year blogging anniversary on 10/11. Good times.

I ran 3 1/2 miles today!!! I haven't had this good of a workout in a long time. Elliptical is just not the same. It took 38 minutes, but who cares!?!? My knee didn't even hurt that badly afterwards. I'm excited. I've really, really missed running. I think it's been bad for my mental health.

This afternoon, I took Rebecka to see The Game Plan. It was cute. I left my phone at home. I still don't have my phone (I'm at Panera now). It's weird and panicky and kind of liberating. I am also not able to get to my email. Hopefully, the world has not ended. I guess I'll find out when I get home.


I guess technology (or lack thereof) and my airheadedness are coming together to force me to take my vacation day seriously.

Time to browse some usability articles!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sweden - a welcoming country

Apparently, Sweden is the top country when it comes to welcoming immigrants.

Read more here: BBC Article

Church at the Lake

This morning, we decided to worship at the lake. It was a fabulously religious experience.

Up close and personal.

Serenity...

Shhh - don't disturb the rest of the congregation.

Thank God for Sundays and nature and life.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New stuff...

My new backpack arrived this week. No more carrying my backpack backwards through the airport because the right shoulder strap is broken. :)

I also replaced my sunglasses today. The old pair broke last week. I generally don't replace stuff until the previous item breaks or becomes useless in some way (like goes out of style...). My new shades are even more movie star like. (yes!)

Today, I purchased a new dress for the autumn wedding lineup. Yes, I am going to re-wear it, because the two weddings are mutually exclusive (aside from Todd). This dress is different. It is black. Apparently these days it's OK to wear black to weddings as long as it is "festive." This is festive alright - in a very "witchy" way.

We also received a box full of shoes from Zappos. One of the pairs worked. Yay! They're cute.

Rebecka also got a pair for the wedding she is going to be in (Apple David and Care Bear). Everything is coming together... (amazing)

Hmmm - what else? Sophie got a pumpkin outfit for Halloween. It was too big. I'll have to exchange it for a size small.

I feel like I have fallen into the pits of consumerism... I better not buy anything for at least a week to make up for it.

I'm back!

Sorry about the blogging hiatus. It's realease time in my world, which is like finals week. The difference is that your entire grade depends on this one program and it is a group project (eek!).

Anyway, I know it's been hard for you, my faithful audience (of 3).

Sad things today:

- I ate the last of my favorite Swedish cereal (Crunchy). I've had it since June. That is what I call rationing!
- Todd bit his tongue. It is still bleeding.
- Rebecka beat me severely in Dance Dance Revolution.

Happy things today:

- We're going shopping.
- I'm still in my pjs.
- I get to spend time with my favorite people.

Bye now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Workout Notes

There is a new, fancy, flat-screen TV in the hotel workout room.

I turned it on and automatically turned to channel 34 (VH1) hoping for the best. This channel hasn't been working for several weeks, so last week I filed a complaint about it (I can't workout properly without VH1!). Now it works! I'd like to think it's all because of me, so that's what I'll think.

Some favorites that were played today:

"Nolita Fairytale" by Vanessa Carlton
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day
"Waiting On The World To Change" by John Mayer

I'll have to ask Rebecka to download these. She is my iTunes manager. I buy the cards and she finds the music and magically puts it on my red iPod. It's a wonderful thing.

So I decided to get on the treadmill to see how long I could go before my knee started complaining. It ended up being the traditional 15 minutes. What the heck!?! I can't keep going like this. So I took a 15 minute elliptical "break" and got back on the treadmill. I was able to go for 20 more minutes!

I would have gotten back on the elliptical after that, except a slightly pregnant young woman reading Parenting Magazine (cute!) had stolen it. So, I returned to my room for some strength training and stretching.

Life is good when I can workout.

PS. I have been in a consistently happy/content/relaxed state for 48 consecutive hours. I'm not sure what I'm doing right, but I'm going to keep doing it...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Guest of the Day...

...once again. At my hotel, that is. I get an extra drink token to add to my ever-growing collection!

This place is really like my second home. I've been coming here for over a year now. Last week when I went straight from the airport to trivia and stayed out past my bedtime, the hotel actually called to check on me... So sweet!

I feel loved.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Memories...

For the past couple of days, I've been playing a Swedish piano piece called "Sommarsång" by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. I once had to memorize this piece over one of my summer vacations.

When I first picked it up yesterday, I started out by reading the music and got a little frustrated that I wasn't able to play it very well. The piece has a lot of jumps and fast scales so a lot of attention must be paid to fingering. After a while, I decided to stop looking at the music and just go by memory. Aha! It was one of those procedural memory moments. The memory of how to play that piece was in my fingers - not my in eyes translating notes to my brain to pass on to my fingers.

Made me think of the movie "The Pianist." It is such an incredible scene when Wladyslaw Szpilman finds the piano at the end and just starts playing like he never stopped... Hopefully, I didn't just ruin that for someone who has this movie on their "Must See" list. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, it is amazing!

Procedural memory is also the mechanism which allows me to ride a bicycle every time I go home to Sweden. I once went probably six years without riding a bike. Nuts!

I used to be the Queen of hands-free bike riding. Once, I risked my life (by passing through an intersection without stopping) to ride hands-free all the way home from school. It was an amazing feat!

I'm looking into buying a bike so I can go riding with Rebecka. I've said for two weekends in a row that I would go out looking for one. Maybe this coming weekend will be it. I'm just paranoid about buying expensive stuff without conducting proper research. And I don't really have time to do the research. So I'll just have to trust whoever is selling it to me (probably a really bad idea) and go with the flow.

Now I am being summoned for TV watching. Sounds important. Chao!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Laptop bag dilema...

My not-so-old laptop backpack is falling apart. One strap has come off and there is a hole at the top of the bag. Don't get this bag (Pacific Design Ruckus Laptop Backpack):


For the second weekend in a row, I have failed to replace it. This is because I can't decide if I should follow the advice of one of my trusted colleagues and get a more "professional looking bag":


Or stick with the backpack solution (probably better for the back...):


I travel a lot! Mostly it is not to customer sites. Maybe once a month. However, when entering an important meeting with a suit, nice shoes, and styled hair, the backpack thing just doesn't work too well.

Hmmm, maybe I'll just have to get both...

Domesticity continues...

Cooked pancakes for me and Becka this morning (whole wheat).

Fixed lunch (chicken and rice).

OK - maybe that was all on the domestic front.

I also went to my favorite lake with some of my favorite people/dogs.

I sang a lot. And played the piano.

I checked my brain age: 23.

In other words, I had a life this weekend.

It's freaking me out!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Domestic Tabita - Part II

Cooked breakfast for two sleepy girls.

Three more loads of laundry. It's all put up (Todd and Rebecka helped). All our clothes are officially clean.

Grocery store - twice.

Properly cut up a fresh pineapple.

Baking bread as I type (this is called multi-tasking)... Unfortunately, it isn't rising as it should, so it may be more like a fiasco than a domestic success.

Cooking dinner as I type (more multi-tasking).

That's it... For the next six months.

Benevolent Tabita

Today, when going through the mail stack, I decided to donate to all the charities in the pile.

It felt good.

Domestic Tabita

I'm being domestic today. I'm on my third load of laundry and I have gone through the massive pile of mail from the past week of being out of town. And it's only 10:47 AM!!

Granted, I haven't worked out yet. I should probably do that now. More on my domesticity to come...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Forgot...

...to bring a change of shoes to the gym this morning. I've been wearing my sweaty Brooks Glycerin 5 running shoes (without socks) all day. Pretty gross. Oh well...

I love these shoes so much. Last time, the evil people at the running store tried to get me to buy some other size "WW" shoes. I gave in. One week later, I was back to exchange them for my trusted Brooks. And sure enough - the toe box has expanded nicely to fit my "special" feet.

It's Friday. That's exciting. I'm really exhausted. I'm ready for a leisurely dinner followed by a movie in bed. That is my idea of a perfect Friday night.

I need to get out of these shoes... so I can lace them back up tomorrow morning for an awesome two-hour workout.

I love weekends.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tribute to Todd

This is in appreciation of my husband...

For washing our clothes.

For doing homework with Rebecka.

For taking Sophie out to do her business.

For being the most disciplined person I know.

For taking me out on dates.

For cutting the grass in the summer heat.

For telling me that I am beautiful.

For making sure Rebecka gets to school every day.

For embracing my country.

For seeing me when I was invisible. (yes - corny reference to The Princess Diaries)

For teaching me how to write proper English.

For your enduring support and encouragement.

I love you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Things that annoy me...

Improperly racked weights at the gym. How hard is to do number matching? Isn't that a preschool level skill?

When Panera employees put my Soy Chai in a to-go cup instead of a cozy mug.

Underachievers.

Returning to my locker at the gym to find that someone's parked right next to mine with 25 other open lockers available.

Poor writing. I would strongly suggest the US school system start putting more emphasis on communication in general.

Novice travelers. They need a frequent traveler fast lane in the airports. Actually, apparently there is some special card you can buy to get through security quicker in some airports: Story here. I doubt MKE and BNA are part of that...

Indecisiveness. Just make a decision and move on. How can you learn how to make good decisions if you don't make a few bad ones first?

The western world's view of the "ideal" female body (i.e. Barbie). It's not real! Women who look like that do not eat. Actually, they don't even exist.

George Bush.

Promises that are not kept. Yes - sometimes I annoy myself.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stream of consciousness...

The internet password at my hotel this week is "jailorange."

I like oranges. They make me feel healthy.

What do you think about Hillary's mandatory health insurance idea? Makes sense to me. If you have a car, you must have car insurance. If you have a body, you should have health insurance. Are cars more important than people?

Do you know what the world's most sold car is? It's the Swedish candy car:


When I was in Jr. High, I used to stop by the store on the way home from school and buy a bag of "Bilar" (Cars), go home, curl up on the couch and read a good book while munching on the yummy cars. That was not so healthy.

That was then. This is now.

My family thinks I'm a health freak. I think they secretly buy junk food while I'm gone on business trips. Although... Todd is being really healthy right now. I'm impressed. He stopped putting cheese on pasta. This is a BIG deal.

I'm losing 5 lbs in 4 weeks. Yep. My jeans are tight. I need them to be non-tight. I have this picture on my desktop for motivation:


I don't really want to be this skinny (not even sure if it is physiologically possible considering my viking build), but I think the concept is helping.

I realized I needed to lose an inch or so when I went shopping for jeans this weekend and realized I didn't comfortably fit into a size 6 anymore. I don't really feel like replacing my entire wardrobe.

It's hard to maintain weight when traveling. Really hard. Best way is not to go out for dinner. But going out for dinner is fun and relaxing. Solution: Go out for dinner and eat a salad.

I've had salad two days in a row. I feel good.

I'm working out in the morning. I'm excited.

This means I should wrap up work and sleep soon.

This means I should stop this stream of consciousness.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Day in the Life of Tabita

4:30 AM - Hear the vibrating sound which slightly precedes the very annoying alarm on my phone.
4:45 AM - Get in the car and start driving toward the YMCA.
5:00 AM - Arrive at the YMCA and start working out.
6:30 AM - Leave the YMCA after 1 1/2 hours of running(2.5 miles today!)/lifting/stretching.
6:45 AM - Eat breakfast in one of the cozy chairs in the Reading Room with Sophie on my lap.
7:00 AM - Hit the shower and start the beautification process.
7:45 AM - Frantically pack for three days in Wisconsin.
8:10 AM - Leave for the airport.
8:35 AM - Check in at the very empty Midwest counter.
9:15 AM - Take off.
11:30 AM - Get my bag and car and jump on the first conference call of the day.
12:00 PM - Reach the local Pick N Save and pick up a fresh salad from the salad bar.
12:27 PM - Arrive at the WI office and start eating the fresh salad.
12:30 PM - Conference call #2 (I'm still eating).
Blah, blah, blah...
6:00 PM - Check to see if anybody needs pizza (yes, there are some takers).
6:15 PM - Order pizza.
7:15 PM - Pay for pizza.
7:20 PM - Socialize with pizza-eating developers.
8:00 PM - Register for Usability Conference and book travel for the same.
8:30 PM - Start getting tired.
9:00 PM - Decide it's time to go check into the hotel.
9:01 PM - Start blogging (even though it's really time to go to bed).
9:10 PM - Finish blogging.
9:15 PM - Leave the office and head over to the hotel.
9:20 PM - Stop at gas station to pick up water bottles and Balance bars (for morning workouts).
9:30 PM - Find out what my room of the week is.
9:45 PM - Hopefully sleep.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's your brain age?

This year, I decided that I would scrap the traditional shirt-tie combo and buy Todd a toy for his birthday instead. So Rebecka and I got him a Nintendo DS Lite. He received this gift with a mixture of shock and guilt. Obviously, he is not used to getting toys (I'll have to do better in that area going forward).

However, he quickly warmed up to the idea and went out and bought himself (and the rest of us) a game called "Brain Age." It is the coolest game ever! Basically, you take a series of quick tests to see how old (or young) your brain is. The lowest age you can get is 20. The main goal is to keep your age lower than your real age.

Today, I managed to get my brain age down to 20 during a practice round (I selected the games I wanted to play). I.e., I don't quite have this machine beat, but I'm working on it. It's amazing what kind of brain boost you get from just a few minutes with this game.

On a similar note, Todd mentioned the other day that he saw a segment on the Today Show which described a series of tests one can take (if one has lots of money) which determine your "inside" age. I.e. how old are your organs, bones, etc. It's called a Body Age Assessment. Here is an article about the same.

It's interesting we spend so much time focusing on the outside when the inside is really what is important if you want to live long and feel good. Although, I think someone who is healthy (physically and mentally) on the inside will automatically gain beauty on the outside. It's all connected... in the great circle of life. Or something like that.

What Would Darwin Say?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

More things that make me happy...

Ice cream
Working hard
High quality wine
Bubble baths (with high quality wine)
New clothes
Tiramisu
Balance bars (esp. Chocolate Peanut Butter)
Heineken
Shoes which fit my "special" feet
Snuggling
Falling asleep to movies
Other things I cannot mention here due to my partially puritanical audience...

What makes you happy?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

161

The number of emails I have in my Inbox for follow-up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Things that make me happy...

Sushi
Running
Family
Singing
Good conversation
Popcorn Jelly Bellies
Responsible people
My red iPod
Learning
Friends
Movies
Oatmeal

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Email breakthrough

Today, I decided to stop filing my email into different folders in my archive and instead rely on Outlook's ever-improving search capabilities to find old emails. I know this is not a novel concept, but for "Miss Organized", it's a big step.

I'm hoping this will increase my productivity dramatically. I read an article about this over a year ago where the main point was that just because we file papers into folders doesn't mean that we need to file electronic files such as email into folders. The heavy, black filing cabinet does not have search capabilities - the computer does. Use it!

All I have now is a "Processed" folder indicating I have looked at the email and taken required action. All other emails remain in the Inbox.

I feel liberated...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Relaxing...

I forgot how relaxing it is in Mobile, AL. Yep - we're here for the long weekend. The trip down (almost 9 hours due to bad traffic) was not that fun, but sleeping in until after 9AM, working out forever, and spending time on recreational activities is really fun!

Tonight it's dinner with the whole family. My mother-in-law has been cooking since before I woke up. I have a feeling it's gonna be good - yummy.

Well, I'm off to Target to buy makeup. Not that you care...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Everyone else gets it...

One of the headlines on BBC NEWS today talks about how a "little known Indian hill tribe" is honoring Al Gore for "promoting awareness on climate change."

Apparently, things are not going so well for this part of the world due to the climate changes. Go figure.

How is it that people in remote parts of the world get it and well-educated, "civilized" Americans have no clue or choose to pretend that all is well?

Oh wait - maybe because of money...?

Yeah - because dollar bills and credit cards really help quench your thirst and make things grow.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Travel fopah of the week

After walking through the rain and getting completely soaked to get from my car to the airport long term parking shuttle, sitting on a cold flight with wet shoes, and waiting 45+ minutes for my one small piece of luggage...

I get on the Hertz shuttle, give them my name, get no confirmation, think about it, realize I might be with National, get off the shuttle, walk over to National, get confirmation that I am with National, walk to the National shuttle, get on the shuttle, and find a cute red car waiting just for me. Aaaaahhhhh...

Yes - it is a glamorous life I lead indeed.

Btw, if you ever need a stopwatch while you're traveling and have Internet connection: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/

It works great!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Making progress...

1 mile!

Also, I baked bread tonight. I wore an apron and I had my hair pulled up. Rebecka said I looked like a mom. I took that as a compliment.

My Aveeno Stress Relief Body Wash...


... makes me happy.

I get five minutes of calm bliss everyday until I have to step out into the stressful reality that is my life. I may have to look into Stress Relief air fresheners or something to keep the calm with me throughout the day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Say a Prayer...

...for those who lost loved ones in the Hyderabad bombings this weekend.

How well do we know each other?

Recently, Rebecka invented a new game called "The person_name Quiz". The way the game works is that the person whose person_name was inserted in the quiz name asks the rest of the group questions about him/herself. It is a good way of revealing who really knows the history and current state of the person in question.

I learned that I am very bad at "The Rebecka Quiz" when she starts getting into stuff about her school (like what was the name of her Kindergarten teacher). I also learned that her favorite color is periwinkle. Interesting.

I actually did pretty good on "The Todd Quiz". I knew his mother's maiden name and eventually even remembered that his grandfather's name was Thirstin (he had to give me the first letter). Some of this information I memorized before our infamous interview at the Swedish Embassy
over 13 years ago where we had to prove that we weren't just pretending to be engaged so that Todd could sneak into Sweden... Good times.

I also rocked at "The Fluffy Quiz":

"Who do I hate most in the world?" Answer: Tabita
"Who do I wish would go to 'H-E-Double Hockey Sticks'?"
Answer: Tabita

etc, etc...

Sophie (our dog - yes, she talks) really stumped us with this one:

"What is my favorite toy this week?"

Apparently, it is the snake, not the ferret, which is what I guessed. I did however know that Sophie's favorite place to lick "Miss Tabita" is "On her feet and ankles!" and that Sophie's favorite thing to do when we are trying to brush her is "Bite!".

Anyway, in all seriousness, it is a very good exercise in discovering the areas where you might need to invest some more time to get to know your friends and family better (if that is what you want).

Ask questions - it makes people feel good and you get to know them better at the same time.

I'm really preaching to myself here. This is a skill that I am constantly trying to improve. Sometimes my attempts go nowhere (like last Sunday at church when I tried to ask the people at our table about their summer - "We sat in the basement all summer." - OK...). However, sometimes it opens up a new world of interesting experiences, connections, and
intimacy.

It's worth a shot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No News is Good News?

For me, news has been really good for a really long time. This is because I have received no news since they stopped showing the news in the YMCA Cardio Cinema in the mornings.

I don't read papers, I don't surf the web, I don't watch TV (other than VH1 while I'm working out), I don't listen to news on the radio. The only news I get is what I am able to scan as I step over the USA Today lying outside my hotel door every morning.

Lately, I have sensed that my lack of news (good or bad) is hampering my ability to participate in various conversations. Not good. So...

...this week I decided to make strides towards getting more news:

  1. I started picking up the newspaper outside my door and glanced at the headlines a little more closely than is possible when just stepping over it.
  2. I made my browser home-page CNN.com. However, after a couple of days I realized that it didn't really have the kind of news that I was interested in. I really don't care if Amy Winehouse was injured by herself or by her husband. Just leave the poor girl alone - obviously she has issues (but a great sound!).
  3. So I switched to svt.se, a Swedish media site. But it was all plastered with sports - again, not really my thing.
  4. Now I'm trying BBC. I will let you know how that goes.

I have this fear that eventually, I will end up settling on a geek news site. Maybe it's my destiny.

Who is this Vick guy anyway?

Back up and running...

So for those of you who don't know (maybe there is one of my three readers that I have not told), I've had knee problems ever since the half marathon back in April. This is completely my fault since I ran the whole race knowing very well that I probably shouldn't.

Anyway, I finally broke down and went to see my doctor. "Runner's Knee," she said... Makes sense. She also prescribed physical therapy. So I paid $100 to go twice and find out that I'm in rather "good shape" and as long as I do some stupid leg exercises every day and gradually ease back into running, I'll be OK. Cool!

So that is what I did. This week I've run 1/2 mile three times. Seems like it's going OK. Being in high heels all day yesterday didn't help, but whatever.

I have realized once again that I have to run. I'm a total emotional wreck without running. I get cranky, frustrated, anxious, overly stressed - you name it. Yay for running!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

315

That is the number of my WI hotel room this week. I actually requested it. It's a nice room. It has a king bed. It has a bench at the end of the bed for my suitcase. It is not pool side. It has a flat screen TV.

I forgot to bring my deodorant this week. (Better than last week when I forgot some very vital pieces of undergarments and ended up having to go to Victoria's Secret for an emergency shopping spree - actually, not really a bad thing...) Anyway, I probably stink after being in "Hotlanta" all day. I also just noticed that I left my brand new facial cleanser at the Buckhead Courtyard where I stayed last night. Great... At least now I have a compelling reason to go to the grocery store and get these things. It would be difficult to muster up the energy for only one item. Regardless, I need to get some Swedish salt licorice fish for my German friend (just found out she's a fanatic as well), so I guess I am destined for the grocery store tomorrow.

Swedish salt licorice fish are very nice in that I can walk around the whole office offering them to everybody and still have them all to myself. (I know, that's not very nice, but I never claimed to be very nice.)

Speaking of the grocery store, last week I actually let the nice grocery store lady talk me into getting a PickNSave card. She has been asking me for the past year if I have one and if I want to get one and finally last week I broke down. Why not? Not that they ever do promotions on Swedish salt licorice fish... But they do on oatmeal every now and then.

OK - I think it's time to devour the pillow mint. All this writing about food is making me "sugen".

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Todd Party

Saturday, August 18, 2007:

7:00 AM - Get up and go to the gym in order to be back home in time to get everything ready for the party.

9:00 AM - Arrive at the grocery store to pick up last-minute purchases such as ham, liver pate, pickled herring, more eggs, etc.

9:30 AM - Arrive at home and bake a buttery cake.

10:15 AM - Start getting ready for bread baking by melting butter. Move on to the dry ingredients to get ready for the warm liquid ingredients...

10:17 AM - Realize that there is not enough yeast. Quickly stop the butter melting and let out a yelp for help that sends the Birthday Boy to the grocery store (again...).

10:19 AM - Shift gears and start boiling 2 dozen eggs.

10:40 AM - Todd returns with yeast. Continue with the butter melting process and proceed with the dough for the bread.

11:05 AM - Start peeling boiled eggs. A very difficult task this time for some reason. I probably should have read this article on boiled eggs. Apparently fresh eggs are harder to peel. I knew that. I have a cousin who keeps hens in her backyard. Her husband explained all this to me once.

11:30 AM - Still peeling boiled eggs even though it is time to take care of the rising dough. Driving me crazy!!!! I guess the dough can wait...

11:50 AM - Finally get to the dough to knead, roll, and use a tumbler to make dough circles. Try to drag Rebecka from playing Todd's new Nintendo DS to help poke little holes in the bread. No success...


12:10 - Eat something.

12:30 - Start the process of decorating my famous Swedish birthday cake while intermittently pulling bread out of the oven and sticking new bread into the oven. Magically, the cake turned out alright:


2:00 PM - Greet in-laws who drove all the way from Mobile to attend The Todd Party.

2:30 PM - Start meatball factory. Mix breadcrumbs, potato flour, and milk. Wait 10 minutes. Mix in ground beef and salt. Mix in shredded onion, black pepper, and eggs. Get Todd and Becka to start rolling meatballs and heat up the griddle. Fry lots of meatballs. Give Becka taste tests after each batch (she is the "poison checker")...

4:00 PM - What? We're actually done with everything!?!? Wow - extra time to make the house perfect-looking (Todd did 99% of the work towards that goal).

4:30 PM - Jump in the shower.

5:30 PM - Descend down the stairs fully dressed and groomed and ready to frantically get all the food out for the Smörgåsbord before guests arrive.

6:00 PM - Start the process of graciously greeting the stream of guests coming to celebrate Todd's Ph.D. (and birthday) with us. Explain why there is caviar in a tube. Hand out napkins (since there was no room for them on the buffet). Chat with friends. Check on the kids. Make sure there is still plenty of food for all. Lead the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday to You." Cut the cake. Encourage guests to sign the guest book before they leave. Say "Bye!" and "Thanks for coming." Collect trash and throw it in the container outside. Wash glasses. Sit down and rest. Watch Todd open his presents. Fall asleep next to the Birthday Boy.

Thanks to everybody who came, everybody who intended to come, everybody who wished they could come but lived too far away, and everybody who did not come (we might have run out of cake...). It was a good time.

The Todd Gallery:

Todd posing...

Todd (and friends) being silly...

Todd socializing...

Todd opening presents...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aaaahhhhhh!!!!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Almost missed my flight today because the status never changed on the monitors from "Delayed" to "Boarding". I was working happily in the Best Care Club when I realized that it was just minutes until the departure time so I decided to go check on it. Sure enough - final boarding call.

Tomorrow is Todd's 35th birthday.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Todd.
Happy Birthday to you!

We're going to the Cheesecake Factory for the birthday dinner. It's his new favorite restaurant. I like it too, so that works.

Later.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

travel stuff

1. Travel Safety and "Save the Cookie"

On the way back from Milwaukee this past Sunday with the family, I had the pleasure of riding in an airplane that was literally held together by duct tape and napkins:


Before we took off, they announced from the loud speakers that we were delayed because they were replacing a light bulb. I was thinking, maybe they should replace the aircraft! Gotta love Northwest!

I say: "Save the cookie"!

2. Fancy Norwegian Water

As I was picking up my to-go Grilled Salmon Salad from Monsoon in Brookfield, WI, I asked if I could have a couple of bottles of water. "Still or sparkling?" they ask. "Still."

They pull out two VOSS canisters. $4.00 each. Ouch! But oh so good.


3. "It's All About Me" Fortune

Today's fortune from the Grilled Salmon Salad dinner: "You will be happiest if you please yourself first." AMEN!

4. Hotel Improvements

This week, my standard hotel, the "Squirrelly Moose" aka Comfort Inn and Suites, started putting mints on the pillows like fancy hotels. It made my day!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Project Planet

I admit. I throw my used towels on the hotel room bathroom floor every morning after I take a shower. I do it because it is fun, convenient, and it provides employment for somebody else. For years now, I have been ignoring the environmental signs that hang on the towel bar saying: "PLEASE REUSE THE TOWELS"

Some other week...

The way that I always think about it is: "This is really the hotel wanting to save money on laundry... What the heck?? Am I not paying for the luxury of being able to throw my towel on the floor?"

Anyway, last night I had a conversion experience. As I looked at the Project Planet sign in the bathroom, I thought: "Not hanging my towel up really goes against my otherwise green/liberal outlook on life. I need consistency here, so I don't feel like a hypocrite."

Thus, henceforth, I will hang up my towels for reuse the next day and be a good steward of Planet Earth.

(I'm sure it will last a whole whopping week... We all have our faults, don't we?)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tribute...

Ingmar Bergman is dead. Just like that. After 89 years of brilliance, more than 50 films, and never ending madness. No films have made a greater impression on me than his. Some that come to mind are... "Smultronstället" or "Wild Strawberries," "Cries and Whispers," and, of course, "Fanny and Alexander."

I was interested to read that Ingmar Bergman was actually scared of dying. It seems that in order to create films like he did, you would have to be completely free of fear. Or perhaps so full of fear that those are the only kind of films that can be conceived...?

I am sad. A Swedish icon is gone. This is almost as traumatic as the death of Greta Garbo. Not quite, but almost. I'm sure they will be showing Bergman films non-stop on TV in Sweden now. I won't be there to see them.

We'll have to scour the foreign-language section of Blockbuster and hope for the best.

"Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls." -- Ingmar Bergman

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hairspray...

...rocks!!!! I love dancing and singing movies. Makes me want to be a dancer. (I've got to work on that...)

Anyway, I took Rebecka and one of her little friends to see the movie today. Rebecka and Todd had already seen it and Rebecka had downloaded some of the music onto her iPod, so I had an idea about what I was about to experience. After being turned down at one movie theater (3:15 PM show sold out... WT...?), we rushed to the less stylish, less clean, but, on the upside, less populated Regal Hollywood 27 at a dying mall north of our house and managed to catch the 3:30 PM show. We loaded up on popcorn, drinks, and Milk Duds and spent the next 1 1/2 hours in pure bliss. As Todd later stated, "This is the most up-beat movie I have ever seen." It is pure joy. Go see it.

Other than that, we have been doing a massive amount of socializing this weekend (for us). On Saturday night, we had Todd's professor/advisor and his wife over for Swedish meatballs and other Swedish food. They are descendants of Swedes, so they enjoyed it very much. I also sang some traditional Swedish songs for them and they hummed along when they recognized the tune. It was a very pleasant evening indeed.

Today, one of Todd's friends from college and her family stopped by on their way from Missouri to Alabama. We had a nice lunch with them and also played Apples to Apples (our favorite game). At the end, I went upstairs and continued to read Harry Potter (nope - haven't gotten through it yet), so that the rest of the gang could discuss the book. I'm on page 107 of 700 something. Every time I start reading, I fall asleep because I'm so exhausted. I was supposed to read it all this weekend, but that didn't quite happen. I'm going to give it another shot right now. Let's see how it goes.

[singing] Without love... Life is like the seasons with no summer. Without love... Life is rock 'n' roll without a drummer...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coffee Houses

Sitting at Panera... I guess it doesn't quite qualify as a "Coffee House" but it is the only decent one in close proximity to our house (other than Starbucks). The past couple of weeks we've been testing out different coffee shops in town:

The Frothy Monkey was very pleasant. Not big, but had good Chai Tea and good music.

The Portland Brew was some jail version of a coffee house. Not very cozy and the bathroom was apparently "disgusting!" (as per Becka). Supposedly good if you drink coffee, which I don't.

I just like to go to coffee houses for the atmosphere, the Chai Tea or Hot Chocolate, and the coolness of it. It is also much easier to get work done when Sophie is not jumping up on me every 5 minutes and scratching my thighs (which is the case most of the time at home).

Anyway, the quest continues, but today we decided to settle for the familiar and the close... and the bagels are pretty darn good.

Todd is reading Harry Potter #7. Rebecka is "working" (i.e. blogging).

I guess I should get back to my fun-filled design activities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Running...

I went for a good run today. It was pretty fast (for me). I went with a person who was in better shape than I was. This does not happen very often. Probably because I mostly run alone. It made my face red (or more like speckled). It made me want to become a faster runner.

I have a Dr. appointment on Friday (courtesy of my new personal assistant, Dr. Green) for my knee. Hopefully she will wave her magic medicine wand over me and make it all better.

Because I want to run more and faster and better. Now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Usability woes

Isn't it sad when websites deploy a new, hip look and feel and the usability is worse than before. Amsouth.com did just that this week. As an example, they used to have this nice "Quick Transfer" feature that allowed a one-click transfer of funds from one account to another.

Now, you have to select the date you want (it doesn't default to today's date) and you have to select from a drop-down that it is a one-time transfer (again, no default).

Guh... I'll be writing their web master with a link to http://www.uie.com/events/uiconf/2007/

Goodbye Reverend Green


Hello Doctor Green!!!!


Yep, Todd defended his dissertation today (boy, did he defend!). Five years of grueling work and anguish over at last! He did an awesome job in that room with all his brilliant professors asking him challenging questions. Todd showed them that he knew what he was talking about and he will not accept the theory that secularization is inevitable. No, no, no!

I'm so proud. :)

Now what fun things can I come up with for him to do with his new found free time? (evil laugh...)

You know you travel too much...

...when the nice, elderly man that works the night shift at the front desk of the "Squirrely-Moose" hotel exclaims:

"There she is! We were getting worried about you."

Good thing I have people worrying about me. I need it!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Home

Since so many of my friends/relatives have never had the chance to come visit us, I thought I'd put some pictures up so that people can see what our home looks like:

Formal living/dining

The heart of the home (where I am sitting right now typing this up).

Kitchen at a different angle (Todd would like to point out the lack of trans fats and high fructose corn syrup in our pantry).

The "Reading Room," which is also "Sophie play room," "Stretching room," Sit-in-front-of-the-fire room," and much, much more.

This is where the princess lives (when she is around).

Sleepover headquarters (aka Bonus Room).

Rebecka's office.

Looking out the front door.

I left out the master bedroom, the bathrooms (why would you want to see our bathrooms?), the guest bedroom, and the office for various reasons:

1) They were too messy.
2) It takes so darn long to upload pictures and I have to go get ready for church.
3) This way you will have to come visit to see the rest of the house.

All are welcome (please call ahead so we can stock up on junk food, soda, and other foods that we may not typically keep in our pantry)!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday night...

Hmmm.... I can't believe the weekend is already here - again. I guess this sensation is magnified since we had a mini-weekend just a couple of days ago. I was totally convinced the whole day that it was a Saturday. I told Todd that this is a sign of my newfound ability to relax enough to treat a holiday as a day off as opposed to another work day having the added benefit of nobody else working.

Nevertheless, we had a very productive day from a workout, shopping, and organizing perspective. I mounted a broom/mop hanger that we had owned for 18 months or so. It required the use of a drill. We don't drill very often. We can actually see the floor of the "under-the-stairs" closet now:


We also cleaned out the coat closet and filled our new china cabinet with, well, china (and other pretty things):


Once we were all done with our objectives, we settled down on the bed with crackers, cheese, and wine to watch the fireworks from our bedroom window. It was a good feeling.

Now it's time to embark on my very unrealistic quest to re-read Harry Potter #6 in preparation for the release of Harry Potter #7. Sleep well.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Can you teach a Bichon Frise to pace herself?

Sophie has started running with me and Rebecka when we do our weekly run/bike in the neighborhood. She starts off with an amazing sprint (impossible to keep up with) and slowly loses her energy throughout the run to the point where her little head is drooping and her tongue is hanging so far out of her mouth that I feel compelled to carry her.

Today, she went with me as I did an easy run to warm up for weightlifting. Same thing: crazy sprint -> tired Sophie. So, the question is:

Can you teach a Bichon Frise to pace herself?

The only thing I could find on the www (granted I spent tops 5 1/2 minutes looking) was that you can teach dogs to pace themselves on the agility course. That's encouraging. (Hmmm, I think taking Sophie for agility training was one of my goals for 2007. I'd better get on that.)

I also found out that there is a dog running company in New York called Running Paws. They run dogs as a service. In fact, they train dogs to be better runners (and better dogs). Can you imagine getting paid while running!?!?

Actually, I read about a psychologist who offers to see his clients during a run instead of on the couch. My guess is that the simple act of running takes care of 50% of his clients' problems. When I told Todd about this, he said that he is thinking about having some of his office hours on the track once he becomes a professor. I can just see Todd running with a crowd of college students around him, discussing the latest on the secularization theory...

Maybe I can do running design sessions...?

Ultimately, I learned that Bichons don't really need that much exercise. Oh well. We'll still bring her along. When the day comes that she does not jump for joy at the sight of the leash, we'll know that she has over trained. Until then, it's hill workouts and interval training for Sophie every week. Hopefully, she is smart enough eventually to realize that going all out at the beginning of a run is not the best of strategies.

PS. She is currently lying next to me on the floor on her side and breathing contently. It's good to be a runner.

Happy 4th of July!

Todd and I started this Independence Day by lying in bed and singing at least the first verse of all the patriotic songs we kind of know the words to (including God Bless America, Todd's favorite).

Todd sang very much out of tune (in honor of Fluffy, Rebecka's stuffed cat). I sang very much in tune (although I'm sure Simon would have claimed that it was kinda' "pitchy" - it was only 6 AM after all).

It was a surreal (but nice) experience.

Oh - and Happy Birthday to my lil' sis Miriam - 22 years old today!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Summerfest

You may not know this, but Milwaukee is currently hosting what they claim to be "The World's Largest Music Festival," Summerfest.

I had the privilege of attending last night with some of my favorite pals from my second hometown. The main attraction was the band Social Distortion. I must confess I had never heard of them, but it was good music to move to. I didn't actually see the band, but we sure could hear it (and I also got extra effects from a guy with a very long beard standing behind me on the picnic table, wailing at the top of his lungs and playing air guitar).

What we did see was lots of interesting people of all shapes and sizes and hair styles and such. It was like being in the London Tube. I miss London. I haven't been in six whole months. It's a crime!

Anyway, I had fun. Tonight should be fun. Tomorrow should be fun. And on and on it goes...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dancing to Everything...

I have a long list of goals that I want to accomplish as part of my Half Year Resolution. One is to dance more. I danced a lot at Priscilla and Fredrik's wedding and realized how much I love to dance. I've always been self conscious about dancing - especially club-type dancing. We had our share of ballroom dancing lessons in Jr. High, but there is just not many opportunities for this style...

Anyway, today I followed this resolution to the tunes of "Everything" by Michael Bublé. I've been watching this video on VH1 during my runs and today I discovered that I could watch it on YouTube...

Video

So I started to listen to it and realized I just had to dance. I was wearing a full-length skirt from India, so that made it even better. I danced by myself, I danced with Todd, I danced with Rebecka, and I danced with Sophie. Todd learned some new steps. Rebecka danced like a monkey with a funny little monkey face. And Sophie, well she danced like a dog.

This is one of the happiest songs I've ever heard! If you're feeling down, please click on this video, kick off your shoes, and start dancing.

As for my other Half Year Resolutions, I'm sure you'll read about them here little by little.

One is definitely close (found a voice coach today...). More to come. Time to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

It is completed...

Our house that is... At least when it comes to furniture. We received the missing piece of the puzzle today: Dining room furniture. It is sooooooo nice! I feel like an adult now. I think I kind of feel like God did on the 6th day of creation when he saw that it was good (once again).

Here is the picture from the catalog (except we got a glass china cabinet on top of a credenza):


It's kind of squeezed into our little dining room, but still awesome! Now we just need to go get a tablecloth that will cover this thing. Should be fun.

So what's next on the home improvement front?

Oh, there's always closets to organize. That's the plan for 4th of July. We are such fun people.

Now it's time to rest, because it's about to be the 7th day.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Travel Day

Flight is 2 hours delayed. Reach Atlanta around 1 AM local time. Reach my hotel around 2 AM local time.

"Anna Green? She's booked for tomorrow night."

What the &$*%?

I storm out. It's not really the guy's fault, but he wasn't very sympathetic either... Try the hotel across the street. Nope, they are full too. But at least willing to help me find an alternative. Country Inn and Suites. OK. Sounds good.

285 North -> 75 North -> Exit 260.

Behind the McDonald's, they said. It looks really shady. At this point, I don't really care. The place is under construction. There is a big leak in the ceiling with a trashcan catching the water. The attendant is hunched over a makeshift desk with a credit card machine and a computer. Two rough-looking guys are in front of me. They're not happy. The credit card machine is not working.

Finally, it's my turn. "What hotel is this?" I ask. "Windy Hills Suites," is the response. Thank God! I'm at the wrong hotel. I get in my car and drive around the block until I find the entrance to the correct hotel. It is big and shiny. It has a security guard. It has wireless. It has available rooms!!!

It's 3:10 AM. I'm happy.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fact:

More people have joined LinkedIn than live in Sweden.


Yep, at least according to the little blurb at the bottom of one of the LinkedIn invitations I received over the weekend.

Interesting...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The wedding of the decade (thus far)

The big day started at 6:45 AM with a quick run in the woods. We figured we would be eating a lot of junk that day, so we needed to burn at least some calories. Once back at the house, I declared that I was available to perform required manual labor until 10:30 AM at which time I needed to jump in the shower in order to be ready for departure to the church at 12:30 PM. The offer was much appreciated by my frantic mother who had an appointment with her hair dresser at 9:30 AM.

First task: Pick up frozen bread, high chairs, and microphone stands at Södertälje Baptist Kyrka in the closest “big” city of Södertälje. I decided to drag my brother Tobias along for fun (and because he had escaped much of the wedding prep by conveniently leaving town). We managed to navigate to the church, unlock (very tricky), and find all the items. It felt like a very bizarre scavenger hunt.

Second task: Haul drinks and other food/cakes/stuff to the reception hall and also check on my sister Miriam who was already there decorating with wild flowers that some of the girls had picked the previous day. Miriam was still working on the flowers when we arrived, so we helped her by cleaning up the mess in the kitchen (flowers and water everywhere!).

Third task: Once we were done with the flowers, it was time to put all the roast beef (not sure how many kilos, but a lot!) on serving platters. We worked out a pretty good system where the guys (Todd and Tobias) were in charge of opening the vacuum-packed meat and wrapping completed platters in plastic foil while Miriam and I were in charge of artistically placing the meat on the platters. It was a bloody and time-consuming activity. At one point Todd mentioned that we had reached the 10:30 AM cutoff, but I was determined to complete the task. And we did!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t make it into the shower until after 11:30 AM. It was a very quick one, because I had to dry my hair and then walk over to the location where my sister was getting ready to use a flat iron (yes, I had left mine at home). I made it over there only to realize that it takes Swedish flat irons a LONG time to warm up and – well, it never did get warm enough to straighten my hair. Oh well. I did get some snaps of the bride makeup session, so it was worth the trip.

Getting ready...

At the same time, my mom had returned from her hair appointment and learned from her hair dresser that Red Bull will give you energy. Thus, she stopped by the local grocery store and picked up a four-pack. My mom has an amazing amount of energy without stimulants other than coffee, so the added dose sure made her a close runner-up to the Energizer Bunny. Whew!

I managed to gather all of our stuff (bouquets, wreathes, dresses, brush, extra shoes, party purse, etc, etc) and get off to the church only 10 minutes late. The old Lutheran church was beautifully situated by a lake in the small village of Hölö.

We met the other little members of the bridal party there and practiced walking down the aisle a couple of times (no formal rehearsal here!). Once the children were all settled, I slipped into my new silk dress, strapped on my new shoes, and put on my new jewelry. Aaaaaahhhhhhh – now we just had to wait for the bride and groom to show up.

Waiting for the bride and groom.

After a while, the host and hostess nervously asked me: “Have you heard from them?” “Nope,” I replied. “This wedding couple will definitely be late,” I added with a smile. I told the priest the same thing. Who cares? People are having fun chatting and waiting with anticipation.

Then finally: “Here they are!” OK, get the kids ready. “You are so amazingly beautiful!” my sis-in-law Emily squealed with delight when she saw the bride. And she was striking indeed. Probably taller than 6 feet in her golden high-heeled sandals, decked in a cream-colored tango-style dress, and with peacock feathers in her hair and bouquet, she gracefully strode into the church with her long-haired hippie husband-to-be by her side.

Singing a hymn.

The wedding service was very long and very musical in traditional Åhlén fashion. Some of the members of the wedding party were fairly fidgety (I won’t name any names), but Rebecka handled everything very well, especially guiding the little ones back out of the church when it was all over. A fun little detail is that the priest actually used my first name rather than my sister’s in the ceremony. Fortunately, we both go by our second names. Nobody knows where that came from or had the heart to tell the sweet priest that he royally messed up.

The organ is too loud!

After the service, the wedding party gathered in a small room at the back of the church to regroup and get ready to face the crowd outside the church. We hugged and took pictures and breathed big sighs of relief. Fredrik just stared at his new wife in awe:

After the wedding ceremony, we tried to take as many pictures as possible knowing that we would not all be dressed up like this in the same place at the same time for years to come.

Bride, bride's maids, and mothers.

This could've been our 2007 Christmas card if Sophie had been present.

The wedding reception was a blast! I was immediately placed in charged of serving punch. People came back for seconds and thirds until we simply ran out of juice concentrate. Then we moved to an ad hoc concoction of soda, ice cream, and frozen raspberries. Somehow it worked!

The friends and family concert was awesome. As one of my uncles exclaimed: "This is better entertainment than on TV!"

Punch, food, friends, family, laughter, concert, coffee, speech, cake, dancing, heat, fresh air, and many, many hours later we finally drove home around 1 AM in the morning. We had danced our hearts (and legs) out to the music from my cousin’s record collection. It sure is cool to have a DJ in the family. I’m feeling that he is very much underutilized.

When we came back the next morning to clean up the reception hall and kitchen (oh yes, it was not over yet), we met some of the guests that had spent the night there. They reinforced the feeling that we all had that this really was the wedding of the decade – or as one girl said: “This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to – ever”. Let’s see what Apple D and his bride-to-be can come up with this fall… ;)

The partying didn't end just because the wedding was over. In the afternoon, we all gathered in the backyard for more food and fun and pictures to watch the newly weds open their presents and also take a few more family pictures. In the chaos of the "after church" time, we had managed not to capture everybody in one picture. Thus, we managed to organize a not-so-well-dressed family picture time with a camera on a tripod. Here is one of them:

Bye for now friends. More Sweden to come, but now I have to go to Target and buy luggage tags.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

wedding prep II

Once the fun of the möhippa (see previous post) was over, it was time to get back to the extensive wedding preparations. Our family was in charge of the wedding party and preparing ALL the food for it. The wedding dinner was to be served buffet style with cold cuts (ham and roast beef) along with two types of potato salad, green salad, two types of salad dressing, home-made dinner rolls, and a variety of cheeses. This would be followed by coffee, chocolate chip cookies, and dinner mints. Later in the evening, we would serve the wedding cake (and backup cakes) along with my dad's famous cinnamon rolls ("bullar"), more cookies, and of course more coffee and drinks. My parents had been baking and cooking for weeks, but there were still many outstanding items as some foods could not be prepared in advance.

So, my dad printed out a large, blank calendar for the week and my mom filled in all the tasks that needed to be accomplished in order for us to meet our deadline (who needs Microsoft Project?). Owners were assigned to the tasks as appropriate.

Rebecka helped with cookie baking and "Fortune Flower" creation. Priscilla had decided that she wanted all of the guests to leave with a little personal something. Hence, the "Fortune Flower" idea was born. We would create flowers out of tissue paper and glue a little motivational message into each one. To make things even more interesting, we would let Rebecka come up with the messages. Here are some samples:

- May the Force be with you
- You're beautiful, that's for sure
- You are a truly good person
- You are wise as an owl
- Du är söt som en gris (You are cute as a pig - inside joke)
- You are the winner! You may kiss the bride (only one of these)

This is what the dining room table looked like for several days.

I was in charge of the following: Help with massive grocery shopping, make 80 servings of French potato salad (included boiling and peeling the potatoes), mix small apple pieces into store-bought potato salad, make salad dressing, bake and frost three cakes that we had brought with us from the US, pick-up frozen bread and high chairs from my parents' church (we had frozen food in four or five different locations), etc, etc, etc... I was on my feet so much those days that working out became almost obsolete. However, somehow we (Todd and I) managed to keep that up even on the day of the wedding, when we left the house while everybody was still sleeping so that we would not get assigned any tasks that would prevent us from our run in the woods.

One of my creations...

Todd got stuck with lots of "man tasks" like hauling stuff, cutting down "björkar" (birch trees) to decorate the church and reception hall, hauling more stuff, grocery runs, hauling even more stuff (you get the picture).

Cutting down trees is fun!

On the eve of the wedding, all the girls decided to take a time-out and create our own spa to beautify ourselves before the big day. We gave our very tired feet a good soaking and then proceeded to the feet filing step. Ahhhhh - it felt so good! We painted our nails and relaxed out on the patio. I made some punch to demonstrate the superiority of the US ice cream punch and get approval to serve it at the reception. Everybody approved (as did the wedding guests the following day - we actually ran out!).

Champagne was the color of choice for the members of the wedding party. I chose wine red and my sister Miriam ended up with turquoise after a slight misunderstanding involving a turquoise iPod.

Priscilla, Rebecka, and some of our guests also spent some time in the steamy sauna before turning in for the night. I don't do saunas because...

a) Breathing in makes my nose hurt.
b) I once burned by arm badly on a sauna heater.
c) It's too hot!

Anyway, after the spa experience, we all crashed fairly early to get ready for the wedding of the decade...