Thursday, January 26, 2017

The rest of 2016 (and the beginning of 2017)

I've been away for so long that it took me a few minutes to remember my username and password to log in and even longer to remember how to upload a photo and write a post here. Given my absence, I let the domain renewal slipped by unaddressed (so there'll be lots of dead ends if you click through the archives) and speaking of those archives, they seem to have been attacked by spam, so be forewarned that some tasteless sites may pop up.

Anyway, here's what we've been up to since I last posted:

We spent a month at the beginning of fall in New York (with a day-long stopover in Iceland) to celebrate birthdays, weddings, and RF's baptism. And I have to say, after our 5-week-vacation-but-not-entirely in Sicily with a baby over the summer, it took some doing to prepare myself for the slog to the U.S.

But, we made it—eventually. And then we spent our trip catching up with friends and family, avoiding the subway as much as humanly possible (it seems to have gotten even more icky since we left...or else we've just become pampered by Stockholm's much cleaner one), eating lots of Mexican food, revelling in the ease and economics of ordering English-language baby books, yarn and spirits online and having them delivered right to our door to take back to Sweden with us, and enjoying some of the many other conveniences of being on that side of the Atlantic.

I also continued to work part-time while we were there, since the job I started in August is with a company that has an office in Manhattan.

When we came back to Stockholm in the middle of October we had a few visitors and then spent the rest of fall and early winter gearing up for our big move...

...to a house! We bought it the week we left for NYC (making the pre-trans-Atlantic-trip days even more chaotic and celebratory).

It took three bidding shenanigans before we came out the "winners" but the relief at having finally secured a permanent place for us to live so we could avoid the Swedish nomad syndrome made us quickly forget the ordeal.

As the year wound down I began working a few more days a month, we bought a car (since we were moving out to what could technically be classified as "the countryside") and we prepared for RF's first birthday party (!!!) and another Christmas at our place with family from New York and Sicily joining us.

Since we had already started to pack, though, it was going to be a bit more of a low-key, minimalistic holiday than last year, but when I woke up on the 24th and drowsily headed to the kitchen, I ran smack into a tree that R had brought home the night before while I was sleeping. So, it was a festive and cheery Christmas after all.

Then came the first week of the new year and a huge snowstorm—which made moving with a walking one-year old quite the adventure.

But we're slowly getting settled into our new home in the country (it's an hour-long commute on public transit from the city, about 40 minutes by car...and 25 by motorcycle). I haven't lived in a two-story house since my childhood in Virginia and while I love the separation between living areas, it's taking some getting used to climbing up and down stairs all day. Other than the daily burn in my legs (and a teensy twinge of anxiety over being "isolated", since I can't drive the car (legally) right now and we're no longer in walking distance from anything, really), I love, love, love being in a house again and knowing that it's ours.

Our little place is situated on the edge of a large forest so we've got a ton of privacy and have traded in our water views/proximity and sailboat sounds (which I've had for a decade now) for birdcalls and birch and pine trees as far as we can see. I can already imagine tromping through the woods with RF on the hunt for sticks, pinecones, bird feathers and wild flowers, just as I used to do when I was little.

So that's what's been keeping us busy recently. How are you? (Assuming there's still someone left checking this site...).

I hope as we settle into our new routine (and if RF ever gets around to sleeping through the night on a regular basis) I'll be able to pop in here a little more regularly, but no promises.
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Thursday, September 1, 2016

This summer


I hadn't planned to stop posting for quite so long—but, it happened anyway. So here's a quick recap of the last few months:

The summer began with an extended vacation in Sicily, although, I use "vacation" lightly, as turns out that taking a 6-month-old baby to a "foreign" country during a heat wave and mosquito infestation isn't exactly relaxing (do you know how much gear a baby at the beach requires?). But, off we went and got our fill of sun and gelato and seafood and we even (somehow) managed to fit in a road trip.

We spent a week driving around the island, first renting a house on the northern coast in Scopello and then on the southern coast in Marina di Ragusa. The rest of our 5 weeks were spent in R's hometown, introducing RF to his Sicilian family and R's childhood haunts.

When we returned with our 23094820394 pieces of luggage, I would have loved to relax a bit and enjoy a truly spectacular Swedish summer (warm, sunny, and hallelujah, no humidity!), but we jumped right into house hunting because nothing has changed on the crazy Swedish real estate market front and as our apartment rental contract is ending soon, we decided we needed to get serious about buying so we wouldn't have the stress of possibly being kicked out at any time weighing down on us. So rather than spend days picnicking on the waterfront for the last few weeks of R's paternity leave, we borrowed a car to explore neighborhoods and visit open houses that coincided with RF's nap time.

Then, as if that wasn't enough to keep us from lazing about this summer, I went back to work part-time just as RF turned 8 months old and could be away from me for longer periods of time (a concept that was simultaneously liberating and devastating), and now both R and I each work part-time and stay home to take care of RF part-time, which we'll hopefully be able to continue doing until it's time for our little munchkin to start förskola/dagis (pre-school) next spring.

And that—with walks, fika's, baby playdates, baby-proofing the house to keep our crawling / standing / cruising little guy safe, a bit of knitting here and there, and the return of cocktail hour—was our summer. How was yours?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Untethered

Djurgården & Strandvägen, Stockholm, Swdeden  |  Untethered on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
There were times at the beginning of this year when I really thought I had lost my mind.

A newborn baby and no sleep for days during the depths of a Swedish winter (which I had naively thought would be "cozy" with a cuddly wee one, but was actually debilitating and isolating), plus some physical problems we were having all combined into a Very Heavy and Overwhelming Period.

But then the combination of surpassing (and barely surviving) RF's 4-Month Sleep Regression, his ability to space out his mealtimes, his increased curiosity and awareness of the world around him (so much so that we did an early switch from the carry cot to the sit-up seat attachment of his stroller), and springtime finally rolling around meant that we were finally free to go on long, beautiful walks around the city with a contented baby and a less-stressed mamma who no longer had to constantly search for suitable places to nurse (and change diapers) in anticipation of a hungry baby's wails.


And let me tell you, this period right now is so, so good. Most days the sun is shining brilliantly and it's a delightful 70F outside, meaning we've been spending hours and hours walking, meeting friends, fika'ing, and playing outside the walls of our apparently very-boring-to-a-baby apartment.

Plus, this lovely weather means al fresco nursing and diaper changes are a breeze and has greatly reduced my anxiety when we're away from home. Below the stroller I've stashed blankets, toys, a bottle of water and an emergency chocolate bar (because you just never know), so we're always ready to stretch out in a patch of sun-dappled shade to play and relax in between running errands and strolling around the city.


We've been taking long walks along the edges of Kungsholmen, across the bridge to the grounds of the Karlbergs Castle park / Military Academy near Saint Eriksplan, all around Djurgården, winding through Vasastan, Odenplan (with obligatory stops at Cafè Pascal), and Norrmalm, and even hopping on a bus to go to Drottningholm, one of the palaces, to play on some royal grounds.

And much like our after-work pizza picnics in Vasapark last summer, this year we're doing a riff on that with early afternoon (because of someone's bedtime) barbecues in our backyard in Minneberg.


All this to say, someone's starting to get her groove back.

(Said groove will probably not be completely back until someone else starts sleeping for more than 2.5 hours in a row at night, but a partial groove is better than no groove at all.)

One year ago: Leaving Vasastan & An unwelcome lull & 365 days ago

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The day I became an Italian citizen

Stadshuset Kungsholmen Riddarholmen, Stockholm, Sweden  |  The day I became an Italian citizen on afeathery*nest  |  http://afeatherynest.com
My (at times excruciatingly) long journey to becoming an Italian / E.U. citizen is finally complete—a few days ago we went to the Italian Consulate on Djurgården so I could pledge my allegiance to the Italian Republic and officially become one of her citizens.

At the end of last year, three and a half years after I applied for citizenship, a certified letter arrived with the news that citizenship had been conferred upon me and I just needed to do a few final things to make it officially official, like, re-submitting translated and notarized documents from U.S. agencies that were included in my original application (yes, again), swearing my oath, and (naturally) paying another fee.

When R became an American citizen, he did so with a certain amount of pomp and circumstance (which I enjoyed in my exhausted and anxious state)—to be fair, he took his oath along with about a hundred other people in America.

I became an Italian citizen while living in Sweden and did so in a "ceremony" just for me.

The ceremony being: arriving at a very, very sad little building where nary an Italian flag was waving, waiting for one hour past our scheduled appointment time to be ushered up a rickety pair of stairs to an office filled with boxes of documents and lined with shelves of rubber stamp doohickeys, and reading the one-line oath off of a printout twice (as it took two separate tries to assemble the required number of witnesses).

That was it.

No Italian paraphernalia. No anthems. No miniature flag handed to me on my way out (R received a miniature American one in NYC and RF received one here in Stockholm when we took him to the US Consulate to register him as an American citizen).

When we walked out of the gloomy building, not even the gorgeous day on Djurgården (one of my favorite places in Stockholm) and RF's adorable drool-y smile as he looked up at us happily from his stroller could shake me out of the funk brought on after such a long-awaited day ended up being so disappointing.

But then R told me he had booked a celebratory lunch for us at Villa Godthem on the northern side of Djurgården, where we had a tasty, typically-Swedish lunch on the waterfront (which included the gifting of a very nice little gift). Afterwards we strolled across the lane to Flickorna Helin & Voltaire for dessert on the terrace (which was obviously a ridiculous slice of their decadent carrot cake for me).

Then, since the day was just so supremely sunny and beautiful (and because I had stashed you-never-know blankets in the stroller), we laid them out under a tree with a view of my favorite villa on Norra Djurgården and spent the rest of the afternoon lolling about lazily while watching RF practice his rolling over skills.

Turns out I had my very own personal Italian(s) to provide me with all the fanfare italiano I so desperately wanted.


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Friday, April 15, 2016

Stitch by stitch

Rhino Romper knit baby onesie  |  Stitch by stitch on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.com
While some things have noticeably gone missing from my daily routine—and will most likely stay missing for quite some time to come—since this handsome fellow arrived (e.g., I haven't done any yoga since just before I gave birth and a proper cocktail is a distant memory...as is a full night of sleep), one thing that has resurfaced is my knitting bag.

With the mental fogginess and physical exhaustion that comes with caring for a wee, helpless, and infinitely adorable baby, knitting is my only form of "meditation" right now—a more involved alternative to my calming (and frantically-executed on steamy NYC subway platforms) practice.

It's my (very necessary) way of taming the frazzled, sleep-deprived brainwaves jolting through my mind. Of rinsing the day's small trials and losses of patience from my conscience while replaying its spectacular moments of delight in baby laughs and gummy smiles, in a rounded tummy and a sweet little tush.

Rhino Romper knit baby onesie  |  Stitch by stitch on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.com

Stitch by stitch, breath in by breath out.

It's also much easier to manage than rolling out my yoga mat and contorting myself into positions that are now precarious thanks to my new lack of coordination (thanks to my new lack of sleep).

Rather than sitting on the sofa after dinner while watching something with R and knitting away as I used to, I find my crafty moments during the day when RF is napping snugly in a wrap tied around my chest and I can peer over the curve of his cheeks to see what I'm doing. It's the coziest thing to listen to his little snuffles while I rock back and forth and click my needles in rhythm.

Dulaan Baby Jumper  |  Stitch by stitch on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.com

Dulaan Baby Jumper  |  Stitch by stitch on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.com


I came across this recently and it perfectly encapsulates why, aside from ensuring a small measure of sanity for myself, I knit:
"For many knitters, the small act of creating a sock, a hat, or a scarf is an act of love. Of community. Of creativity, of soul saving, sometimes a rebellion against the constraints of everyday life. Knitting is an escape, a haven, a hidey hole that restores us and gives us a bit of control when many things in life are beyond our reach."

As does this:
"The essential thing about knitting that I will never get over is here you have these sticks and this string, and then you look down and you have this object. It’s a very small act of hope, especially when the person you’re knitting for isn’t even here yet."
It's true, I can't control when we'll find a new, more permanent place to live or when RF will learn to connect his sleep cycles or where we'll be able enroll him in dagis. But I can choose the right needles and yarn and pattern, and I can choose to spend a few quiet moments at the end of the day with yarn gliding through my fingers as I create something from nothing—my own small act of hope that all will be well.

Dulaan Baby Jumper  |  Stitch by stitch on afeathery*nest  |  afeatherynest.com
Lately I've been working on a little "spring collection" for my winter baby, although I think it will begin and end with these two pieces. I've realized after much newborn knitting that perhaps it's better to knit garments for a baby that can sit up and crawl, or for a toddler that can toddle, because knits (even non-bulky ones), aren't as easy to maneuver onto a baby and when said baby is picked up and carried quite a bit or spends most of his time prostrate, thicker textiles that can bunch up is probably a little irritating for him, as well as for the person who is constantly tugging his clothes into place.

...Which is why I had the idea to knit a onesie, but even so, I'm going to start knitting a few sizes up from now on and have a nice little wardrobe ready for him for this coming autumn and winter.

P.S. The onesie was originally a romper, as seen in the first picture, but I didn't like how the shorts legs looked when I finished so I unraveled the hem and reknit it as a onesie (as seen in the second picture).

P.P.S. Ravelry notes here and here.


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