Travels

Our journey began in Umeå. One short flight to Göteborg on the west coast of Sweden and a few days of family time with my parents. 3 hours of driving to Malmö and one night on a camping site. I am still amazed that both the kids and the dog were so easy to travel with! D-day arrived and it was time for the final leg of our journey: crossing the Atlantic! We made sure to be at the airport in good time, well before our flight. Departure was at 12.20 pm, and at 10.30 we checked in Tashi, our dog. He got some ice cubes from Starbucks which would ensure he had access to water during the entire flight. I had some concerns about the amount of time he would have to stay in the kennel before we would be able to get him out again, but once he was rolled away by the SAS-crew there was really nothing I could do but hope that he would be ok.

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The flight went well. The girls and I watched too many movies to kill time and as we arrived at Dulles International Airport in Washington, all we wanted to do was see Tashi and more importantly, dad!! He had been driving 5-6 hours to pick us up. That way we wouldn’t need to have Tashi go through a second flight. All that was between a complete family reunion now was US customs and immigrations…

We landed on time, at 3 pm (local time). That means for us, it was around 9 pm in Sweden. The girls were starting to get tired and so was I. Now enter US immigration. 2,5 hours waiting in line with two tired kids and a dog waiting just outside…  (He had now been in his kennel for almost 14 hours!!) We tried to keep our spirits up as best we could, repeating our mantra ”all things pass”… And finally it was our turn! 5 minutes of chatting with the CBP (Customs Border Police) officer and he then utters the magic words: Welcome to the United States!

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Moving day

We left Umeå (north of Sweden) 10 days ago. After a short stop visiting my parents on the West coast of Sweden, we continued south to Denmark and Kastrup airport. We had a lot of luggage! My dad ended up renting a big van to be able to fit everything: 6 big trunks, 3 medium sized hand luggage and a a huge kennel for the dog. Still, it is not all that much considering that this is all we bring with us to the US!

Our home in Umeå is now rented out to a nice couple with a cat. I trust they will take good care of things while we are gone. It was a crazy couple of days in the end, when everything was to get sorted: what stays, what goes up on the attic, what can we throw away… The girls were surprisingly calm about the whole process. I thought they would find it more difficult and hard to clean out their rooms and decide what to bring. They were given one smaller bag each that they could fill with what ever they wanted to bring. When it was full, it was full and any additional things they wanted to take with them ment that they would have to take some other stuff out of the bag. It worked very well!

The last week was filled with goodbyes and lots of hugs and tears. Even though I feel very confident that this experience will be a good one, it is still hard to leave a place filled with memories and very good friends.

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Busy doing nothing at all…

Feels like this is the first time I have been able to sit down for the last four weeks. My husband has now moved and is getting adjusted to life over seas. As anticipated, lots of minor set-backs and problems have presented them selves, but over all he seems to be doing good. After almost one month, he finally had some furniture (besides a bed) delivered and can now eat at a table.

As for the rest of the family, we focus on the day-to-day things; school, the girl’s activities outside of school, work, my PhD-studies and keeping Tashi (the labrador) occupied with non-damaging activities… In the back of my mind I know that I have lots of practical things I will need to attend to within the next 4-6 weeks, but at the moment I can’t do any of them. Frustrating!

The girls miss their dad. I miss him too, but as we get older I guess we can handle longing and separation in more constructive ways. Time is also a very strange concept! For me, 3 months is a very small proportion of my total life spann. For an 8-year old, it is 3% of her entire life!

Being apart also seems to be hardest for our youngest girl. She makes daily comments on missing her dad and sleeps with his t-shirt on her pillow at night. The older one (9½), the one who normally verbalizes everything extremely well, seems more at ease with the whole situation. She misses him also, but she can see the benefits of him being away and getting settled in before we arrive: ”Then we will have furniture and dad will know where to go for food and I hope he can find a stable where I can go horseback riding!”

Kids really are incredibly vise and I am so grateful to be able to share some of the thoughts and feelings of these two wonderful girls! This morning R (the youngest) said to me (after we had the usual ”finish-your-breakfast-so-you-will-be-in-time-for-school argument): ”It’s ok mum, it is not easy being a single parent you know…”

She is so right! I have only done this for 4 weeks, and the thought of doing this permanently is not appealing! I miss the conversations, the team-work and the closeness of being a together. I guess that is a good sign… The alternative would have been worse! 🙂

So, we continue our lives on different sides of the Atlantic for another two months. 1/3 of the time has already passed. We are getting closer to D-day!

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Setting a date

Things are moving rapidly now. I just got confirmation that the first part of our move is scheduled to June 17. On that day the girls, the dog and I will leave for Gothenburg where my parents live to drop off the dog. We wanted to get settled in first before we bring him along, so my parents have been kind enough to let Tashi (the labrador) stay with them for a few weeks before we ship him over. You can follow him on Instagram as well: @tashi_the_labrador

This way we get to do a test run for all of us. Tashi will fly cargo for the first time and I have never had a dog with me when I fly, so it will be a new experience for me as well…  I will probably be super nervous and having all sorts of catastrophic thoughts about what might go wrong and how horrible the experience will be for him down in the cargo hold! In my mind he will be traumatized for life once I pick him up after 1,5 hours… In reality I am pretty sure he will sleep the whole time and not give the process much thought at all. We humans tend to overthink things a little more than dogs do…

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Visas have arrived

Small update on our trip to the embassy…

Well, let’s just say that it was a very time consuming procedure that ended up in a 5 minute conversation at the consulate, after which our visas were approved. In all, we left home on Sunday evening, arriving in Stockholm late Sunday night. At 7.45 we stood in line at the embassy waiting to get in. The queue filled up quickly, so we were glad to have been there early. After passing through the security gate we, like Dorothy, followed the yellow line to the consulate. (Don’t think that’s where she ended up, but it kind of had a similar feel to it…). Another long wait, at least in doors this time, until we were called to the counter. The clerk asked my husband a few questions about the company, made a comment about us being married and having two daughters and that was it. I have no idea what I was doing there, since the whole thing most likely could have been done without my presence. Anyway. We have our visas and now it is just a few days until my husband starts his new job on the other side of the Atlantic! I suspect we will both be a little bit lonely during the coming three months. As for me, I will have the girls and the dog to keep me occupied, not mentioning work! I still work full time as a neuropsychologist, but the last month or so I will work part-time to give myself a chance to prepare for the big move in June!

We have a home!

Finally. We have a home away from home! Our realtor e-mailed us to let us know he had found a house we could lease within the right school district and in a neighborhood that he thought we would like. He showed us some pictures and Google Maps Street view is just a wonderful tool when trying to imagine where we might end up living for a few years. I have cruised up and down the streets so many times now, it feels like I have lived on that street for ages… Still, it is hard to get an idea how you will feel once you open the car door and step into your new home for the first time. What will this house smell like? What sounds will we have to get used to? How will the girls like it? Who will our new neighbors be?

Apparently the community has a club house and a shared pool. That made the girls happy at least… We are used to rather cool summer temperatures where we live, just hours away from the polar circle. +40C, or 104F is not something we normally experience other than when on holiday in southern Europe or during our trip to Malawi and Zambia last year. We will have to adapt rapidly! But we have a home!!

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Visas, and the art of patience

We all know about this. We all know it will be difficult and a trying time. Still, we are never prepared for it.

Applying for a visa to the US is not a painless procedure. We actually had a rather smooth ride, since the company my husband will work for helped us with some of the practical details, such as trying to figure out what kind of visa we should apply for. There are plenty of options, let me tell you! As for me, I pretty much participated as a spectator of the whole thing. As for the husband, I am amazed he stayed somewhat sane during the whole thing! I think he spent a full working week trying to get all the paperwork in order and filling out forms. Finally we are approved for an interview at the embassy. Since we have to go to Stockholm to do the interview,  we had to find a solution for the girls and the dog. We are scheduled at the embassy Monday morning at 8.15 am. There are no flights from where we live that will make it possible for us to be there that early! Flexibility doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to these matters, so we have to leave Sunday evening and stay one night at a hotel in the capital. Things could be worse…

Good thing we have a wonderful grandfather that offered to come stay with us and take care of the girls and the dog. The girls are easy-going, but the 10 month labrador is pumped with hormones and has forgotten what ever manners he used to have. I think he actually is a rottweiler disguised as a lab, trying to blend in with all the other retrievers…

Next week the girls will have winter holiday and no school for one week. Since their grandfather is already here, he will take them with him to one of our favourite places in the world! Skiing, ice-fishing, exploring or just do nothing while resting your eyes on the mountains. That is how the batteries of the soul are charged!

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