Thursday, August 23, 2012

What I did on my Summer Vacation

 If you didn’t know, I was able to take 6 weeks off this summer, combining Swedish parental leave with some vacation time.  I haven’t had 6 weeks off in awhile – maybe 2002?  So when my boss “highly recommended” that I take the time, I figured out a way.  (It was really fun for me when a US coworker emailed me halfway through, and when he saw my out-of-office email that I wouldn’t be back for 3 weeks he was shocked.  He didn’t realize that the message had already been up for 3 weeks!)

Going back this Monday felt like the first week of school from grade school days. Everyone was just getting back from at least 4 weeks vacation (even now we are only at about 80% back), and catching up with folks about what they did, where they went and how much they want to go on vacation again.

During the series of fika’s I had to catch up with people, I realized that 1) I never want to work in July again, and 2) I had a pretty action packed summer vacation (each week could EASILY be it’s own blog).  So, channeling my grade school assignment, I tried to think through “What I Did on My Summer Vacation”.

Week 1 – Rhody

Not the way I anticipated starting off my parental leave, but after getting a call Monday afternoon, I hopped on a plane Wednesday morning for my Grandpa’s funeral.  It was definitely an emotional few days, but much more uplifting than I would have expected.  As sad as it was, it was enjoyable getting together with the whole Ferland side of the family and telling all the old stories about such a great guy.  The other difficult part was that I had to wave to my Julie and Don somewhere between Iceland and Sweden – they trip that they planned matched up almost perfectly for when I had to depart,  but luckily Lisa and Calvin showed them how fourth of July was celebrated, Swedish-style.

Week 2 – Dwyer’s

I got back to Sweden about halfway through the Dwyer’s trip.  That gave me plenty of time to wow them with reindeer meatballs (or was it moose – I can’t remember) and do a little exploring.  They did a great job of highlighting everything in their blog, but it was a really fun week and we got to see some new museums and beautiful parts of Sweden.  Obviously the best part was seeing how much fun they had with Calvin (and visa versa).  It was too bad that I couldn’t be there for the first half of their trip, but I think we more than made up for it during the 2nd half. 

Week 3 – Moving
Once we said goodbye to Don and Julie, we had to start pulling ourselves together to move.  Luckily, our apartment was really, really tiny, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle, but we were definitely surprised how much we had acquired over the last 6 months.  Probably the most shocking thing was that we have been here for 6 MONTHS!  That went REALLY fast

The actual move was interesting, the first day over we loaded up the essentials for Calvin and Bessie, fit some stuff for us in whatever other room was available, then jumped on the subway to get to our new home. 

(I think the best part of our new place is how different it is from where Lisa and I have lived in the past.  Since at least 2007, we have lived in the middle of a city.  Now, we are 100 yards away from a huge nature reserve with lakes, forests, horse/sheep farms and deer roaming around.  This would normally have you in the middle of nowhere, but we are still 20 minutes from the heart of Stockholm on public transportation, and we have a historic café 10 minutes away walking.  It kind of reminds us of living in Maine, if Maine had a T stop.)

The next day I picked up our rental car while Lisa let in the movers.  Throughout the day I made 3-4 trips to grab everything from our apartment, while Lisa led the unpacking efforts.  I remember making a ton of trips to salvation army and throwing out or giving away a lot of things, but WOW – we still have a lot of stuff. 

It was definitely “Christmas-like”, with us just spending time opening random boxes to see what treasures were there.  Calvin loved it, finding dozens of books and toys that he hadn’t seen in while. 

The last thing we did was to put up all our wedding pictures, travel souvenirs and other things that made it feel like home.

Those stayed up for 12 hours…

Week 4 – Filming

The next day filming for House Hunters International began (sorry if this ruined your pristine image of reality tv).  The first section we filmed at our house was the “after”, showing how much we loved it.  During lunch they had a moving company come in, take photos of how the house looked, and move EVERYTHING out.  By the time my pad thai was finished, the house looked like we had never moved in at all.  When the next segment was finished filming, they put EVERYTHING back, exactly like we had it.  Really weird, yet impressive.

The rest of the week shooting was a lot of fun.  Definitely more tiring than I expected – not sure how Laura does it all the time!  I am really glad we did it though, I think it will give a good perspective to folks about our lives out here, and I know that a lot of people are really excited about the show, so hopefully they see a huge rating spike in NY, RI and GA. 

One interesting thing was that a general assumption they use is that 1 hour of film is required for 1 minute of footage.  So with commercials, they have about 22-24 minutes to fill I think.  Judging from the percentage of the time that the camera was on Calvin, I think he is going to be a star!

Week 5 – Sam & Kyle

Once filming wrapped up, we had another group of visitors!  Our friends made their way over to Europe and were wrapping up a one week backpacking trip through Amsterdam and Brussels when we met them in Copenhagen.  We then spent a week in Stockholm (Samantha for a 2nd time), so they could see how we did things over here. 

Copenhagen was great – although I definitely like Stockholm more (yes I am biased, and yes, they have a lil bit of a rivalry going on).  The part of our weekend I liked most though was getting out of the city to visit a castle on the water, which is where Hamlet was set.  The major negative is that, as a fictional character, there wasn’t much Hamlet history (also -  I actually don’t remember much of the play).  The major positive was that the castle had a sweet dungeon and is definitely haunted.  Also it had my new favorite statue – the Danish Hulk.  The castle, being really old, wasn’t really stroller accessible.  Calvin was sleeping, so we decided to split up – Kyle and I went in for the tour first and then the girls would go in after we were done.  After coming out, I told Lisa (who had the camera), that she NEEDED to get good photos of my new favorite statue.  I refused to tell her which one, only saying that if she couldn’t figure it out, she doesn’t know me at all.  She nailed the pics obviously.

The rest of Denmark was good – and we had fun eating in, hanging out and watching the Olympics – danes LOVE handball!

Week 6 – Nature!

No offense to everyone that I hung out with over the previous 5 weeks, but my last week of parental leave was definitely my favorite.  We had nothing at all to do, so Lisa, Calvin and I spent each day just walking/jogging through the forest, eating berries, finding playgrounds and swimming in the lakes or the Baltic. Calvin loved it, and I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed a week so much.

Definitely the perfect way to end my parental leave…

The 6 weeks FLEW by – and I’m already excited for next July!

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