Friday, September 19, 2014

Sweden- Playground and Rainboots

With all the upcoming changes in our lives right now,  I think that I really need to get a move on catching up on our Summer trip to Sweden, otherwise it will never be done! So bare with me, if there is a lot of posts from Sweden over the weekend! So, lets start from the beginning...

When we first came to Sweden on June 18th, we stayed with my dear friend Linda and her family in Vasteras for a little over a week. It was wonderful to see her and her family again, it was way too many years ago. And even if we have seen our youngest additions to our lives in person once before, her youngest Victor, was then just about 6 months old and when Linda came to visit us in Kansas, the twins were only 2 months old. So a lot has changed obviously!!

After picking us up and treating us to a great brunch, that the kids hardly were able to eat due to being tired, Linda went to work and her husband and kids left the house for a few hours to let us sleep. It was hard to sleep, but after falling asleep, it was even harder to wake up!

But after getting into the showers, it was nice to enjoy their garden and the kids had fun playing there until the family all came back again.

Isabella was delighted to see that they had this wonderful playhouse in the yard!

Tired, but very happy to be with my friend again.

None of us would have guessed that we would have 6 children among us 20 years down the road of our friendship! Pretty amazing and pretty good looking kids too!

Here they are, on the trampoline!

The next day, they had to work, and we hung out at home for a while, and then went across the street to get to the playground. Love this aspect with Sweden, there are playgrounds EVERYWHERE, and you can walk to them!! :) Quite a big change for my kids, coming from the US, where first you have to drive to everything, and then there isn't the same "typical" playground equipment. They had a blast to say the least!! And as you can see, it was a bit chilly so long pants and fleece jackets were needed! What a change, and how great to play outside for hours without getting too hot!

Isabella trying out the big swing.

Ben found the standard digging equipment, but for him it was all new and very cool!!

Later in the day it was raining, and after dinner when it had stopped, I took the kids over to the playground again, and let them use their new rain boots that we brought with us from the US. What a treat this was!! Most Swedish kids don't think much of this, but my kids that have hardly seen rain after 3 years in the desert, loved it, even if they thought it was a bit cold...:)

Jumping in rain puddles!!

Dirty, wet and happy!!

The bigger kids joined us at the playground, and then the little ones got a ride on the big swing. What a fun thing to finish off this day with! Walking home, the kids found these seeds. I had to show them what we used to do as little kids, and they thought it was so much fun! Small things...but unusual things were so appreciated!

Haven't we all done this as kids??

Thursday, September 18, 2014

We Are Moving To...

...Okinawa, Japan!!

Look at the picture above, in the bottom left corner of the picture, you see the island Okinawa. We did not expect to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) here, and it's a very pleasant surprise. We knew that some change would come up after my husband's Staff Academy and that he maybe get another job, if not yet promoted, but some kind of change at least. Well, change we got. An earlier and bigger change than we had expected! Despite the first scare of "My goodness, we are going where??", the joy and excitement is starting to bubble under the first chock and scare.

It's not that we have a choice anyway. Where the Marine Corps need my husband, that's where we will be going. That's the way it is, and even if you sometimes do have choices, and in some cases even can request where you want to go, that has never happened to us, so we didn't expect it now either. But really, it's going to be an incredibly adventure!

Friends and family that know me well, know that I have always been dreaming of going on a vacation to a beautiful island somewhere. We didn't go on a Honeymoon to Hawaii or any other paradise island like so many others do. We haven't been able to afford those kind of travels, so for me to call this my home for the next couple of years, is pretty amazing. We will be living on this beautiful island, and I can't wait to have everything organized and ready to go and to put all the troubles with paperwork and packing far behind me. I can't wait to take the kids to the beach the first time and just enjoy! And the best part will be, that we might just go to the beach as often as we like....Just look, what is there not to love????

So now you all know where we are going in February 2015. Who is coming for a visit?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Paperwork And More Paperwork...

I'm drowning in paperwork and phone calls right now. There isn't much that is going my way either and I feel so upset, hopeless and like I'm fighting against everyone and everything...sigh. Our dining room table is covered in notes, important paperwork, copies and more papers...And it's just the beginning.

As I have been spending my time over the phone, online researching and getting appointments, it's very hard to not go crazy. So frustrating and so annoying that one never can get the answers that you need, that everything you seem to ask is either impossible to answer as "it all depends on the individual situation". I don't care about others situation in this particular moment, I'd like to find answers to my situation, but the response I get is very upsetting and I just feel very tired.

The last couple of days I have spent hours and endless hours over the computer and on the phone calling different numbers to:

-USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
-Customer Service to assist the military
-Military One Source
-Para Legal on base
-Swedish Consulate in Phoenix

I have also recruited my brother to call the Swedish Tax Agency for me to order updated forms of my Extract of the population register (Personbevis). For me to call them in Sweden myself, with the 9 hours time difference plus calling from the cellphone, didn't seem like a great option. You might wonder why I just didn't get the forms sent to me online? The forms I need, need to be signed and stamped (VERY important). My brother had luck and should get the documents sent to him soon.

Why all this trouble you might think??

-Well, it's obviously due to our upcoming move. As you now are guessing, it's a bigger move than just to another's a bit further away than just across the country..

-It's a move that makes it difficult for me to complete the Naturalization process in time, as one can wait for months before getting an interview. Time that we don't have. That's why I'm trying to get my application being sent in with an expedited stamp on it due to military orders. Still, they can't promise or give any guarantees if it will be done in time before the move!

-The main reason to why it's important to me to get it done before leaving, is that I then can apply for my American Passport. As our Swedish Passports will expire in 2016, it will be difficult and costly to apply for new ones. Last time, we had to go to Dallas, TX when we lived in KS to renew them. Not around the corner to say the least...if it came down to the same this time around, it would be even harder and a longer trip to renew the passports...Plus, it's very expensive to send the application off to the USCIS and not have it finished and they can't continue processing my application from our new duty station, so I've found out.

Now most of you have figured out that we are not packing our belongings and like our previous moves, driving to our new duty station. This time we're leaving on an airplane.....

Hoping that this post will make some people call me that I haven't been able to get in touch with yet!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Morning At Preschool

Last week, I arranged with the teacher at their Preschool to stay a little bit longer as I had a dentist appointment at 10am, and it's just down the street from their school. It was no problem, and the kids thought it was fun that I was actually staying around for awhile, to see what they were doing. I had seen the morning routines before, but after breakfast and table toys, I had not really understood how the schedule looked like, so it was fun to get an insight in their morning!

First Breakfast, then "Pledge of Allegiance", then clean up and then it was time to move over to the other tables for some Table Toys.

Reading is of course an important part of the day, here and at home, and to make it very easy for children that might not go to the library as often as we do, they have bins with books that the kids can check out for a few days, both in Spanish and in English. 

After this, it was time for Group Time. This activity was held at the floor in front of the white board. They were counting, talking about the letter E this day, and then they were singing a song in Spanish and then in English and they were signing the song at the same time. Even if I haven't worked at all with sign language with my kids, they have picked up a lot already and did very well.

A typical day in their Preschool!
 Easy for kids to know what's coming up next, easy to follow with time and pictures plus that it's written in both English and Spanish.

When the teachers came home for their home visit before school started, the kids were given the activities to make an "All About Me" booklet. I have taken some pictures of theirs before we gave them to the teacher at the first day, I will try to find them later to post here to remember. Here anyway, the kids were listening to the girl in blue shirt standing up to the very left, who is talking about her family, what she likes to eat, her favorite color etc. 

Every child had a job to do for a week (?) in the classroom. It was everything between being the "weather person" to check the weather. (Here in Yuma it's not hard to be the meteorologist..). It was also other responsibilities as making sure the table toys were put away, that everyone cleaned their breakfast away, that the cart with some toys were pushed out for playtime outside etc etc. Isabella's job this week was to be the person pointing to the board and calling out what everyone's job was! She seemed to like that part...telling others what to do...:)

Here she is telling her brother that he doesn't have a job today, as his job on the board was to be a substitute for anyone that wasn't there. Which means that he could fill in anywhere were someone was missing. BUT, as everyone was there this day, Ben asked what he then should be doing?! He was very pleased to hear that he actually got to be on VACATION! Great save there Ms. S.!! That was an answer that he liked instead of being upset that he didn't get to do anything.

Outside then, they started off singing and making movements to a song about their emotions. Learning about how important it is to let people know how we feel, how we then look like, that we tell our friends that we feel angry or sad if they destroy or take our toys, but hitting or screaming. Putting words to feelings is something that we have talked a lot about here at home too, so I think that they liked this song!

After this it was free playtime!

 Ben found some buckets with ropes to walk on and he was good at it too and when he was done, he just let go and jumped off! 

 Isabella was playing with a friend K. running around with these ribbons in the wind.

Ben has been telling me about how fun it is in school when he can play baseball and how good the teacher thinks that he is at it. I soon had to leave, but I really wanted to see him hit first! He was eager to show me!!

 And yes, he hit it seconds after this, and I had to duck after snapping the picture!!
After throwing the ball a few times and he was really good, hitting the ball like he has done it forever, and hard too, I had to get going to my appointment. Said goodbye to Ben and went to find Isabella by the slide. She was still playing around with the ribbons, staying in the shade of the big tree!

Walking out of the gate, I turned around and saw that Ben already had recruited one of the teacher assistants to play ball with him! He was laughing so hard when she got so surprised how well he hit the ball! Proud boy!!

After my appointment, it was time to pick them up again, and I was a little earlier than just to pick them up from the classroom, so I went through the office to sign in as a visitor to get my sticker. The picture below of the school's mascot animal the bobcat I took in the office signing out again.

 Cassie is a Wolf at her school and now I have two little Bobcats too!! <3 <3

Monday, September 15, 2014

School Dance

The school dance last week was the first of the year and very special ofcourse. They always are and I must say that it's a lot of fun with all their Spirit Weeks and dances that goes with it. Lots of fun for the kids, and why not make the most out of it when you can!?

I don't think my girl has ever missed one school dance, she loves to dress up and get ready and I'm very happy that I'm still the "go to person" for helping her with hair and make-up. I'm very aware of that this will most likely  not last very long and I'm soaking it up and enjoying it as much as I can with her.

The theme was anything between "50's to present time", where everything and anything goes. The kids certainly had a big mix of styles there, but Cassie had already set out to be a "Grease" inspired "Rocker-Girl". Living in the desert, where no jackets are needed atleast not for another couple of months, she got to take any opportunity of wearing her new leather jacket that she bought in Sweden!! So funny when we were there btw. In the end of June when it was still pretty chilly, every other teenage girl in Sweden was wearing one of these black leather jackets!!

Her cousins advised her on where she'd find one, and she was very happy when we finally found one that she liked!! :)

 It's all about the eyeliner...:)

Her best friend Emma came over to the house and I drove them to the dance. There she ran into her other friend K and I was able to get a quick picture before more girls were coming up left and right and wanting to pull her away. Before they went out on the dance floor, I got her to get in a picture with a few of her friends! These shots will be put into a memory album from her time in Yuma, that's for sure!

The friends!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Got Orders..

Very accurate...:)

If you have read my blog for awhile, you know that we've been in Arizona for almost 3 years now. And as you might know,  the tours are about 3 years in each duty station. So that my dear friends, means that we are soon going to our end our stay here in Yuma.

Well, we didn't know that for sure until this week. As this is not a typical tour, like the recruiting duty was, there you had a date when it was over, here it could just as well be extended longer, depending on where and when they need you. It has also been very difficult with my husbands work for a very long time now, he has been wanting to go to the Staff Academy in San Diego, where he is now for the total of 7 weeks, for about a year now, but it's always been pushed forward due to some circumstance at work..

With that in mind, we didn't think that we were expected to go anywhere soon. Boy, were we wrong...

This week we got orders. I have spent many hours researching since Wednesday when we got the word, planning and starting to make lists of things that needs to be done asap, soon and later.. As I haven't been able to reach all my family yet, I will wait to tell you where we are going, but I can tell you this much - it's going to be an adventure!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Picture Day!

The same day as my little ones were getting ready in the morning for their first day in school, I had to help my oldest with her hair. She likes to get some help to curl her hair and as it's very long it's not that easy to do on your own, and it takes some time. Even if we should have had more time to curl more in the back, it still came out nice. And as always, Cassie looked just amazing before heading to picture day. My own pictures didn't come out too great as the battery died after taking pictures of the kids getting ready for their first day, and all I had was to take pictures inside with, was the phone.

She looked so pretty and I can't wait for the school pictures to come back. It's very important of course for the kids, as the picture that comes home, is also the one that comes out printed in the yearbook!!