Friday, October 30, 2009

Getting Ready for Halloween!

We are preparing for Halloween today and are keeping it simple, as overall most of my energy is focused on trip planning for our upcoming 3 month 'Escape the Winter and Take Swedish Parent Leave Trip' to the USA and Florida.

But that's okay. One great thing about 4 year olds is they are all for the simple things. Swedegirl woke up ready to carve pumpkins first thing, but we are waiting for her dad to get home from work, so we had to fill the day with other Halloween-y things. I was going to see what was out there by searching the internet, but there so many choices and complex crafts to find , it's easy to get overwhelmed and just not do anything at all. So we reached for the paper and paint and kept it real simple, doing what was in our minds instead of looking for some fancy craft instructions. And it was super fun, she was more than happy to just play with creating paper pumpkins. I feel a need to enculturate her with certain American things associated with Halloween she is not exposed to here. I got on youtube to try to play her the Monster Mash Song, but the visuals were too scary. She started asking for "Princess Halloween' stuff- code for not scary, please! So I found tamer, more appropriate things to offer her...

Instead of Monster Mash with pictures of scary monster lab pictures, KidSongs One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People eater was more up our alley this year.

And while SwedeGirl also finds Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin too scary and weird, this part is okay:

We decided on our costumes late in the game. I thought we were simply going to raid the princess dress up costumes and leave it at that. But inspired by the creepy crawly baby, we thought SwedeBaby should be the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Soon the copy cat SwedeGirl wanted to be a spider too, and then she wanted us to be a WHOLE SPIDER FAMILY... so alas I got sewing, and sacrificed every pair on black panty hose or tights in the house to make spider legs. I have to say I felt almost virtuous making a homemade costume when I had expected to throw a store made on the kid and not dress up myself.

Getting into The Spirit of Things, we decided to make magic wands/ power sticks/ dream catchers. To keep away the evil spirits, ward of bad dreams, channel good ones, and use our spide-y talents as weavers of the web. SwedeGirl got into this...I used a birch we had recently cut down and made a base, and she wove pink and purple thread through hers while I covered mine in red thread. We talked about the Day of the Dead and our ancestors as we did this.  I told her about all the people who came before us that make our life possible, and talked some dead relatives. She even was able to think of a few to honor I had forgotten to mention.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New Friends, New Spot, New Moon, New Medicine
I had the chance to host a new moon circle in Sweden. I had three wonderful wise women who could hold the space, so we took the chance to have a New Moon Circle as I have most moons since 2000. The new Moon is a powerful time to align your thoughts with the present moment, consider the cycle that has past, and set intentions for the cycle to come. I have circled with women on the new moon since 2000, after being inspired by a teacher who was charged with the task of bringing women's lost medicine rites into the present time by the Sioux Native American elder Archie Lame Deer. I usually lead with a waivering voice, and the strange feeling that comes when I feel I am coming out of the closet as a woo-woo weirdo. Well, I have embodied that energy long enough that it is no longer strange, thanks to my sisters at home in Florida. This moon I was at ease setting the circle with a group who was new to the idea. I was sitting in the direction of west- sunset, completion, and Fall. Right where we are on the wheel of the year.

Sitting in the east was the momma-sister friend that helped motivate me to get the circle going for real this moon. She is moving back to her home in Holland, so we had to do a circle this moon or not anytime soon. By chance she sat in the direction of east, new beginnings.

Here she is modeling chocolate sprinkles from Holland- the best in the world! See how they suggest on the box that you eat them on toast? Yum!

We became freinds in the spring. I am grateful someone recognized from my posts on an forum that we would likely make good friends. She made an initial effort to seek me out and meet me, and I am so thankful. We found in each other kindred spirits in a country away from our homelands- she from Holland most recently by way of UK, me from USA. We were the perfect 'mom' friends. Her kids are 4 and 2. She was an ecology major, but not working a job while busy parenting, with an gentle/ attachment parent kind of philosophy. Her kids were not in Dagis, so she was the rare totally stay at home mom like my friends and I in Florida were. That is unusual in Sweden since free/ cheap Dagis/preschool usually starts by a year to 18 months here. Coming from Holland where 30% of birth is at home, she understands and shares my passion for home birth. But she also had a crappy birth experience like I did with my first. And since she trained as a breastfeeding counselor in the UK we had that in common as well- nursing our own for a long time as well as helping others get started. We share a background in energy work/awareness, have a preference for Waldorf schools, can talk baby carriers, and have fun loving science geek husbands. We cook the same kinds of food. But they moved back to Holland last week.

It was fun while it lasted, and our friendship gave me hope I can find someone of my tribe even here in Sweden. And now we have friends to go visit in Holland!

They had the best homemade wooden kitchen, made of wine boxes and baskets.

We had a great last play day together the week the cold came. We went exploring the 'Troll Forest' near her home, and I enjoyed seeing the favorite spots she had found in the year they were here in Sweden for a PhD post doc position.

It was a frosty morning in mid-October!

Which meant it was time to bundle SwedeBaby up in her snowsuit for her second big outdoor adventure. As a Floridian who knows nothing about babies and cold, I was prepared having learned on venture #1 with baby in cold that babies need mittens.

SwedeBaby in her Snow Suit! The kids all bundled up, ready to go on an adventure! They live in Torna Hallestad, the village nearby with a forest of special rare and protected birches that grow in twists and turnsThere are many magical play spaces in that forest, and chanterelles, too! We found a bunch of ripe elderberries just in time for flu season!

We easily and quickly picked 4 pounds/ 2 kilos, and left plenty for the birds

Once home, SwedeGirl destemmed most of them, and I boiled them up to make jam and syrup for medicine. Elderberry keeps viruses from replicating and is an excellent remedy for viral illness like flu.

I am feeling grateful for moons, mamas, magic forests, medicines, and the many gifts our time here has brought.

We have just one moon to prepare for a long journey. Next moon we depart on a three month trip back to the USA. So for now we welcome the frost and longer darker nights (it was dark by 5 tonight!), because with plans to be in Florida for two whole months for Christmas and beyond, we will elude most of winter this year.

The SwedeBaby Update
Age: 7 months 18 days
Weight: 18 1/2 lbs
Can say: Baba's/ Amma (mother's milk), Mama, Papa
Teeth: Two bottom, two top with one more prominent than the other
Enjoys: Her sister, mama, and papa, , tasting things,- ie putting every thing she finds on the floor righ into her mouth, her toy 'bugaboo' when driving in the car, watching the laundry spin cycle, and pulling books off shelves.
Latest talents: Crawling, pulling up to stand, pushing the laundry basket around, saying 'Ba-bas' when she wants to nurse, leaning over the changing table to reach for the toilet and flushing it on her own. Avoiding diaper changes by standing up. Using the potty with "elimination communication' whenever she gets the chance, doing most of her poo's on the potty .

Show your Nanny&Pa your new toofers:

Strong Girl:

Trouble: Watching the Wheels Go Round and Round....

Perfect Combination: A 4 year old that likes to do shows, and a 7 month old that will laugh at silly tricks

Crawling, and the sound of her fuss voice

“If I can't dance - I don't want to be part of your revolution”
- Emma Goldman

What thoughts will you finance with your energy?

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.”- Etty Hillesum (link)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dedication of the Harvest
The trees are ablaze with their full colors, and both the leaves and temperatures are dropping. There is something sacred about such a dramatic change. It was nice to find the Swedish church has a ritual to celebrate the harvest and remember the cycle of life. It is no wonder people all over choose to give thanks for the harvests and honor the dead at this time of year. Walking in the graveyard near the church, with leaves blowing and trees glowing orange, I am reminded that soon it is Halloween/ Dia De Los Muerte/ Day of the Dead/ All Saints Day.

Swedish church holy days are still very tied to the wheel of the year. Each season is marked by a celebration- Santa Lucia in winter, Easter in Spring, Midsummer, and in the fall it is the dedication of the Harvest, called Skördegudstjänst. We were amongst the very few who attended the Skördegudstjänst service in Vomb this weekend, and it was a time of Thanksgiving. The choir surprised us with a cheery chorus of "Muchas Gracias". After our first year in Sweden, I have say yes, indeed.

The world reminds us once a year that everything dies. And that we are, in fact, still alive, and able make the most of it.
The Reaper And The Flowers
There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
and, with his sickle keen,
He reaps the bearded grain at a breath,
And the flowers that grow between.
"Shall I have nought that is fair?'' saith he;
"Have nought but the bearded grain?
Though the breath of these flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again.'' He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves;
It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
"My Lord has need of these flowerets gay,''
The Reaper said, and smiled;
"Dear tokens of the earth are they",
Where he was once a child. "They shall all bloom in fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
And saints, upon their garments white,
These sacred blossoms wear.''
And the mother gave, in tears and pain,
The flowers she most did love;
She knew she should find them all again
In the fields of light above. O, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day;
'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Forest Colors The BirchesSnow Berries

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our (first ever) Garden Grew

Speaking of pumpkins and harvests, this is what our end of season garden looks like now on October 5th:

Our sunflowers bloomed on the first day of fall!

The wind toppled it over this weekend, but this is how tall it was September 9th, two weeks before it opened. SwedeDaddy is 6 feet tall.

We will plant everything earlier next year. Swedegirl has been having fun picking sunflower seeds from the flowers at school.

Here was the garden in Mid-August when the peas ripened up.

The peas produced very few pods for the glory of the plants, and got a powerdy mildew they spread to the zucchinis, which put a damper on their go-go-go production. The zukes were definantly the most prolific and rewarding part of the garden. They produce plenty of somthing you can eat for dinner.

Our late planted garden really got producing tomatoes about the middle of September!

Duly noted, we will plant future tomatoes earlier than early June! The yellow pear shaped tomatoes got hit by a sudden wilting disease and is just about to croak.

The peppers were planted in the wrong place and were quickly eclipsed by the tomatoes. They did not grow. Ditto for the corn.

Our pumpkins made many flowers, but created three substantial pumpkins that are still waiting to be harvested. Two smalls, one biggie. They were not the big orange jack-o-lantern kind we thougth they were! But they are probably bound for carving anyway. Maybe I can convince Swedegirl to let me make soup with one of them. With the air threatening to get frosty at night, we may have to pick the green tomatoes and try this recipe. We still have one yellow rose in the garden holding on to the last but of summer.