28 June, 2013

For the Birds

It's summer, guys. That means that in Sweden (and anyone else who is this far north) gets a LOT of sunshine. A lot. We got a full 18 hours, 37 minutes, and 12 seconds of sun, according to timeanddate.com

The site also says that sunrise is around 3:31am... but for the last couple weeks, it's been getting light out earlier. Like 2:30am. Which means there's lots of birds excited to see the sun and they are loud. I try to make up for that by closing my window. Seems like a simple solution, but alas. For some reason we have yet to understand, our landlord keeps the radiators going day in and day out. Apparently during the summer, that heat usually goes to the swimming pool, but this year he decided not to open the pool... so the heat stays with us. We have our windows open basically 24-7. Lots of spiders... but I digress.

Usually if I manage to get to sleep before V, there's no problem. If I go to sleep after he does though, I lie awake listening to him breathe. It sounds more romantic than it is... ha! I usually have to wait until he starts to snore, then roll him over onto his side - wait for him to go silent, then I can sleep. Not to mention if it's too bright in the bedroom, I have to block it out in order to get to sleep (it's not a problem once I'm asleep), and we only have light, cotton curtains.
Well, for some reason or another, I've not been able to sleep despite going to bed before V - and once he gets to bed I lie awake well past the time when he goes silent, which is when the sun starts to rise and the birds start their songs.
After that it's pretty much impossible to sleep.

For almost a week, I couldn't get to sleep despite my best efforts, before the birds started chirping, and I got to see a few really pretty dawns. I took this video to give you an idea of the mornings (keep in mind this was recorded with my cell phone - make sure to click the sound icon in the corner and turn up your volume):

Since then I've gotten some good sleep though. When I was living in Alaska, we used to tape aluminum foil up in our windows to block out the sun. Klassy, I know... but I'm really thinking about doing it here!

What keeps you up at night?

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26 June, 2013

One Pin More

When discussing the addictive qualities of Pinterest in a text exchange, I told Jessica that I often sing "One Pin More" to the tune of  Les Miserables' song "One Day More". This is what followed that remark:

One more pin
One more tute


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25 June, 2013

Flying in Fordlandia

I finally cleaned out my iTunes of all the music that I ever placed into it for anyone other than myself. I hate when I put my iPod on shuffle and get a bunch of songs I don't really care to hear before I finally find one I like - then repeat. Tons of "blah" songs - one I like - Blah - Like - BLAAAHH - LOVE, etc.

Well now my iTunes is super organised, and I have folders for everything that I'm not sure about yet, and it's pretty great. I always have a selection to listen to and for some reason that feels really freeing. I have discovered a few new albums that got overshadowed by all the crap I kept in my iTunes hoping that when something played, someone would hear it and like me more because of it. How fake! All this stuff I had that I didn't care for just sitting around taking up space on the off chance...

NO MORE. I'm done with all that bologna. Anyways, as I was saying - I have found some new albums lately (more on that in another post) but one in particular is haunting and beautiful. I first heard one of the artist's songs played on RTE radio in Ireland, and through the magic of the Shazam app, discovered Jóhann Jóhannsson - an Icelandic composer. Oh my goodness. I bought his album Fordlandia right away. It's a masterfully written set of pieces for orchestra. I've listened a few times as his songs came up on shuffle, but today I guess I was just in the perfect mindset for his piece entitled "Fordlandia" - for it moved me to tears, about halfway through. Not sobbing, blubbering tears - but goosebumps and heart flutters and awe with a sense that if I closed my eyes I could be flying... I listened to the piece again immediately, of course and got the same feeling, so it was not fluke. I HAD TO SHARE right away!!!

I advise listening to it in headphones or at least somewhere where you can appreciate the fullness of it. Just sit and listen. Let it wash over you.

You can thank me later.

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It was V's parents' 34th wedding anniversary this Sunday. To celebrate, V's sister, Anna, arranged for the Sunday mass at their church (V's parents are devout Roman Catholics) to be held in their honor. 
Anna is really talented in the ways of music but does not play her instrument very often. When she does, it's pretty special though and V's parents usually shed a tear or two of joy. It's sweet.
So we conspired a little together and watched the children on Saturday to allow her time to practice with the organist. On Sunday, my in-laws were none the wiser to what was going on, even though there was chaos all around them! haha!
Anna and I ran around the house trying to get everyone ready and more importantly, out the door to get to the church on time - and thankfully we were successful! Hurrah! After church, I made everyone line up for photos. Mwahaha.

I am the second from the left. Timed photos are always a lot harder to execute than I remember from the previous times I've done them. I should paint a little sign on my camera that reads "timed family portraits are hard - plan accordingly." because I NEVER REMEMBER how difficult it is until afterward. ha! Not so much the set up but getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time, and on and on. Twice, everyone left formation and getting them back into position was like herding cats. It was funny though, and I'm happy we got a photo together.

Sunday was also my nephew, Arthur's first birthday. Every time I see him he's grown in some way, and it's hard to believe that he wasn't around only a little more than a year ago.

And since we were dressed up and pretty - I asked someone to take a photo of us, too. There was much silliness to be had, of course. It's not in focus or anything but I have to say that this is probably one of my most favorite shots of V and I together. Definitely putting that in a photo album!

We all headed back to my in-laws' place to have a glorious lunch full of homemade Polish pierogi and had planned to have a BBQ - but lunch was so filling and perfect that we decided to put a hold on it. Anna made a cake for Arthur, which was absolutely adorable. We all sang "Sto Lat", which is the Polish birthday song, and blew out the candle.

Of course by this time Arthur was completely over so much excitement that he didn't know whether to laugh or cry - so he did a little of both. 

It was a lovely end to the weekend. What were you up to on Sunday?

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24 June, 2013


V and I didn't make any official plans to celebrate Sweden's Midsommar weekend simply because he has been working 10-12 hour days and we wanted to take this time to just enjoy the weekend. Our landlord told us that there was always a festival of sorts on the castle grounds though so V and I walked over to check it out.

There were thousands of people gathered together on the field. It was crazy!

So we had a little lunch:

and walked around a little...

... and found Kanye West (not really)

we decided to sit near the May Pole

and there was much traditional costuming and dancing

the weather could not have been more perfect

these cuties sat next to us

It was great! After a while though, we moved to the shade of a tree and read our Kindles together. Finally, the band started playing and singing the same song over and over and over for the kids to dance around the pole - and we decided to go home. On our way out though, we saw that some people really settle in for the whole day!

and these two were just too cute.

The following morning, it was as if Sweden was deserted. We drove over to babysit and see some friends, and encountered only a handful of other people! It made for some really fast travel on the roads though!

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20 June, 2013

A Bit of Fashion and Self Confidence

Usually when I see photos of myself, I reel in horror. I have been known to untag myself from photos and to hide away from the camera - this from a photographer. My whole job is to capture memories and here I am sneaking into the back of photos. Hypocrite much? Here is one of the only (mostly) full body shots I could find from way before I started my recent weight loss, March 2011

Remember our home smoked meats? This was then! Around that time I was miserable and hated myself but was trying to change for the better. I started my Couch to 5k efforts around this time. All I know is that it was all I could do some mornings to get dressed, because it meant searching through my clothes to find something that fit - which was not always an easy task.

I've been struggling with my weight for a long time, as well as trying to be a little fashionable. Well, at least trying not to allow myself the uniform of jeans and a t-shirt that I had a habit of wearing for years. Seriously.

I used to go out of the house like this!! AHHH!!!
I have come to learn that fashion on a budget brings with it a new wardrobe that takes months and months to build. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither can a new wardrobe be, if you're waiting to find the right pieces to add to it.

Anyways - there is still the problem of the mirror. When I look at the reflection, I almost always focus straightaway on a certain flaw or many flaws, or overall just hate everything I see depending on what mood I'm in. To combat that, I decided several months ago that I have nice teeth (teeth cant get fat!) and resolved to smiling at myself each time I see the mirror. Part of this was to subtly help learn to love myself more - and admittedly, part of it was to check for bits of food. ha!

Thanks to Pinterest and blogs I've had an easier time about knowing where to start on buying the right items that will go with more than one outfit. What's more, is I've had an easier time actually pairing those clothes together on my own - which I never thought I would be able to do. I've learned a lot about how you look is actually in how you dress. I'm so glad that I've finally figured that out, and STOPPED wearing my husband's old t-shirts and my old, ratty jeans. Here are some blogs that have really helped me:

Putting Me Together
Girl with Curves
Wendy's Lookbook

There's a little group of friends online that I can proudly say I'm a part of, that chat every day, give advice, encourage each other, and bolster each other up. I have known many (if not all) of them for almost 8 years now and have mostly only seen them through their profile photos on Facebook.
Over the last couple days, we've started sharing full-body photos just privately within the group to sort of show each other what we really look like - rather than just what the profile photo shows. We've all been brave, as the group is a truly safe place where we don't worry about hate. It's been fun getting to know each other in that way. I felt good about my outfit today, so I took a photo of myself to share with the group.

It was just a quick snap - the light is bad and the pose is bad - but it's me right now. I took this photo expecting to hate it, and to feel bad about myself for the whole rest of the day, actually. Color me surprised when I looked at it only to see progress and good things about myself. When I compare this to the previous photos, to be honest, I don't see a huge difference in my body. What stands out most to me is how I feel about having my picture taken in each photo. Sure my shorts are a little tight, but I could pull them up over my rump which is something I couldn't do when those other photos were taken. I wore them today a little as a symbol of what I can accomplish - and also it's really hot inside our place.

 I've had some setbacks - this winter I gained back almost everything I had lost last year through being careless in my eating habits - but I'm on track again and feeling good about my progress. Down 20 pounds (about 9kg) from when I started! The great thing that's come with progress is how I feel about who I see in the mirror. My self-loathing is all gone now which is a huge, gigantic step in the right direction. It's become less about weight loss and more about loving myself, how I am in the moment.

I'm sure that the photo is nothing really special to many people, but to me - it's a photo of self confidence.

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