A Weekend on Samsø

Another Big Event of the summer has passed–Andreas’s and my fifth anniversary!  To think that it was five years ago we held our gummi bear wedding is almost ludicrous, but there it is!

I had originally thought I would plan our anniversary weekend (it fell on a Saturday this year–what luck!) but one day, Andreas told me that he rather had an idea, and not to plan anything.  So we arranged for Theo to spend the whole weekend (two nights!) with his aunt, uncle, and cousins, and we took off on Friday morning to an unknown-to-me destination!

I knew that we had to be wherever it was at a certain time, so I had an inkling that it might be a ferry–and it was!  My First Ferry Ride!  It was so exciting, driving through the countryside, only guessing at where we were headed, with three entire toddler-free days ahead of us.  Enough to make anyone giddy and newly in love!

The ferry ride was windy but really lots of fun–and heading up on deck with some coffee was just the thing to stave off the nigglings of seasickness.

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The ferry was headed to Samsø, a cute little island between Zealand and Jutland, north of Fyn, and apparently quite the tourist destination–and no wonder!  The landscape was amazing, thatched roofed cottages everywhere, and no shortage of Danish charm.

I didn’t get nearly as many pictures of the beautiful flowers (and lots of roses!) that were everywhere, but how cute is that flower tree in front of that house?!

It was so fun to be lovebirds again, and we took lots more selfies together, which I’ll spare you 😉  There was a lot of rambling on the hills, trying to skip stones, and driving from darling town to darling town, stopping in shops, flea markets, and little farmer stands along the way.  Idyllic x20.

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The best part of it all was being able to do exactly as we pleased without planning outings around a naptime, or anxiously pulling small hands away from the many, many breakable objects in the cute, tiny shops.  We went out for a (I was going to say “late” dinner, but it was at seven pm :P) dinner for our anniversary at a place called “The Pearl” which was really lovely.  Especially for me, as I ordered butter-fried fish which came with a bowl of browned butter on the side! We even got fancy dessert, and really delicious sparkling cider!

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Andreas served as primary photographer (and I get the job as multiple-photo-deleter).

All in all, it was a superb trip, only made better by the fact that it was a surprise.  Even the ferry ride home wasn’t all sad, as by that time I missed Theodore something fierce, and was so excited to bring him home again.

I don’t know if we’ll ever top this, but really, we don’t need to–as long as we get to do it all over again!

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Three

Three years ago right now, Andreas and I were out doing this:blog3 (3)

 

We were giddy and nervous, but mostly not nervous at all.  Getting married, to us, was like brushing your teeth before you go to bed–it was the only sensible thing to do.  But if you had to stand up and brush your teeth in front of friends and family, I’m sure you’d have a bit of awkward nerves, too.  And it showed.  We forgot which song we were supposed to walk out into the ceremony to, so we waited–huddled together around the corner through the whole song, wondering, second-guessing, almost-walking-out-but-then-at-the-last-minute-staying-put.  And then the song started again and we realized “yup, that was supposed to be it.” and we came out.

But that’s not all.  The evening before the wedding, we held a quick dress rehearsal.  We chose who would read what, when, and we called it a day–only Andreas’s sister hadn’t been there, and we’d chosen her and her husband to read something, and then quite completely forgotten to tell them.  So, in the middle of the ceremony, suddenly nothing was happening.  Andreas, looking embarrassed, got up from his groom’s chair, walked over to his sister in the middle of the audience, and handed her a reading which she, very sportlingly, read on the spot.  We signed our names, were pronounced, and very nearly forgot to exchange rings.  Then off we trotted, under an (indoor) rain of rice.

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And now we’re here.

It’s been three years, and they haven’t been without challenges.  I thought living in Waukegan was a challenge.  And then I thought having to live apart after only having been married a few months was a challenge.  And then I moved halfway around the world, and I thought that was a challenge.  Then came the empty months waiting, the visa things, and trying to get used to expat life, and that was a challenge.  And then came moving to Denmark, learning Danish, and building our “real” life together, and that was a challenge.  And then came Theo and blew everything else out of the water.

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It’s been three years, but especially during this last one, we’ve gotten to really see what our marriage is made out of, and guys, it’s good stuff.  It’s patience and trust, and never giving up.  It’s loyalty and silliness, and two player games.  It’s compromise, attention, and saying a million thank yous.

I’m about to get real gushy, so I’ll rein myself in a little bit here, but you know what I’m talking about.  Sleep deprivation and stress doesn’t bring out the best in anyone (although if I’m wrong, and it does, that person would be the most awesome parent in the world), and we’ve had a lot of that in the past year.  But quite honestly, working together through what it has brought out, has pulled more strongly together than anything ever has before.

Three years ago, I was the same in love as I am today.  I’m not going to say that I’m more in love because I remember that day, and that 22-year-old girl that I was, and that love I had, and it was every bit as big as the love I have today.  But, the more time goes by, the better life gets, because my life can only be improved by spending more and more of it Andreas.  At every anniversary, a small part of me feels triumph–another month/year under my belt, another happy gem to add to my collection.

After this last year, we’ve seen more and uglier facets of each other than we have before, and we’ve accepted each one helping each other polish the parts that we knew needed polishing.  And in some way, I’m happier now, knowing that Andreas has seen all those parts of me that aren’t the best, and knowing that Andreas loves me anyway.

So, we’re ready for year four.

 

Just before we settle down for our cozy anniversary movie night

Just before we settle down for our cozy anniversary movie night

 

Warm Fuzzies

So, since my last post, there’s something I’ve been doing a lot.  Unfortunately, it isn’t yoga, working on my puzzle, or eating much other than cookies, but it is going through old chat/message archives.

It started with homesickness, which always leads to some level of nostalgia.  This time, I fed the Nostalgia Monster, and went back to the very first messages that Andreas and I sent back and forth.  I’ve read it time, and time again, but for some reason, this time I suddenly very vividly felt like I did the first time I read it.  He’d probably take away my internet access if I posted that message here for the world to see, but it started with “Zeta, please read this when you are alone.”

I got the message when I was visiting my parents for the weekend.  I was sitting on the futon in my little sister’s room, and when I read the first line, I looked up to make sure I was, in fact, alone.  It wasn’t a love letter by any means, but it was the first acknowledgement that there was something there that was strong enough to keep going and to get stronger despite the fact that we wouldn’t see eachother again for nearly a whole year.

Once I ran through all the Facebook messages we sent to each other during that first year apart, I decided to go back and look through our MSN chat logs.  Hey, I might as well take advantage of having as much time to myself as I have at the moment, right?  Anyway, besides reliving the warm fuzzies and the thrills of many of our “firsts,”  I’ve also been getting the thrill of reading something we wished, and realizing that it’s totally coming true.  Like, right now.

We talked so often about how much we looked forward to getting married, how we both wanted to be married young, how we so often thought to ourselves throughout the day “if only _______ were here, this would be at least twice as good.”  Andreas even said at one point, that he was struck with the random thought that he would like to have kids at around the same time as one of his sisters, so they would be around the same age.  It’s like each one of our little thoughts and hopes was actually a mini prophecy.  Getting married was the best thing that’s happened to us so far.  We did get married young.  Grocery shopping, doing puzzles, watching TV, and even cleaning up after dinner is at least twice as good when we’re together.  And why yes, your mom does love me.

But it wasn’t all warm fuzzies.  Rereading our conversations and messages reminded me how tough of a time I had sometimes in school. Being sleep-deprived, overworked, overhomeworked, and dealing with drama between friends was really tough.  I was often depressed, and sadder than I remember being when I think back on my college days in general.  It reminded me that nostalgia is all well and good, but that what I have now is so much better.  Moving to Denmark, dealing with visa issues, language barriers, frustrations, and homesickness has not been easy.  At all.  But sometimes I forget how hard things used to be, when Andreas didn’t come home to me every night.  Things have changed so much in the last few years, and even though I haven’t really made fast friends here yet, or feel very at home, or feel like I’ll ever get over my homesickness, things, on average, are a lot better than they ever were before.

I’m nervous for the next step in our lives.  I’m nervous for my Danish tests, and sometimes sad that I don’t have friends to hang out with, get coffee with, or sit around and do a puzzle with.  But I am so, so thankful to have gone through everything I have, and to be done with it and to have reached where we are now.

I also realized the other day that there is one respect in which this whole moving-overseas thing has been easy for me.  I never, ever think about not having done it.  Maybe it’s just because it was sort of my plan for so long, or because we worked so hard for it, but I never have considered the fact that maybe it was a mistake.  It wasn’t.  This was the best thing we could have done, for Andreas, for me, for us, and for Baby ZA (Zeta+Andreas…also, that’s not actually its name.  Don’t freak out.)  Knowing this helps me get through the hard times, because I can’t really think of anything that, without some sort of magic wand, could be better.

This was longer, and sort of lovey-dovier than I expected, but sometimes you just need a little confirmation, and sometimes you have to type out that confirmation to make sure that you remember it.  Things are actually going really well at the moment, but I’ve been  busy with plans Andreas and I have with others, and starting my new Danish class this week that it’s been a lot overwhelming.

But the sun has started to shine, and one of the high temperatures for the week is 10! (celcius!)!   Also, after a really long 3-4 days of facing my spine and kicking my intestines, the baby has turned around again, and I get to see  and feel it kicking my belly again, which cheers me up considerably.  Also, also, I made really, really delicious peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chip cookies the other the day, and although I’ve been eating way too many (seriously.  I’m not even going to write how many I eat each day because it’s embarrassing.  No, I should.  I’ve eaten like 10 each day.)

I hope everyone else’s spring is springing and they have as much to be thankful for as I do!

Anniversary Post Part 1

So, apparently it’s been 366 days since Andreas and I got married.  Like with everything else, it seems like it was a much shorter time ago…and much longer.  The past year has seen a series of highs and lows, and by the looks of things, the next year will be more difficult, if anything.

But despite all of the visa issues, the six big moves, two months spent apart, and more mood swings than I care to admit, we are more in love than we were a year ago.  I always thought that was just…something that people say, a cliché that you feel obliged to announce every few years, but suddenly, I get it.  I loved Andreas on our wedding day, as much as I could love him.  But now, after a year of tests, trials, and getting through them all together, I know that I can trust him to stand by me through times when almost nothing is easy.  I know we can find ways to comfort each other when things start to fall apart, and that while we wait for a home to call our own, wherever we are together is home for now.

Andreas and I had a long-distance relationship for almost three years, and people used to comment on how difficult that must be.  To tell the truth, it was difficult, but I wouldn’t say it was very difficult.  We both knew what we were holding out for, and since I was in school, I was so busy I hardly had time to miss Andreas.

The truth is that even though school was stressful, balancing classes, work, and a social life (yup, it’s true, I once had one of those!), the year after I graduated was far more stressful.   I am just so grateful that we could be together through everything, and so happy that we’ve learned even more about each other in the past year.  Andreas has witnessed me at my worst and still managed encouraging words.  I’ve learned how happy just doing small favors for someone else can make me.  We’ve learned together how important compromise is, and how to get through a thousand “we’ll see”s without losing all of our patience.

I wouldn’t wish an international relationship on anyone, really.  It’s been really difficult, scary at times, and the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with.  However, I also know that the difficulties have made us more determined as a couple, and when we’ve gotten through them and finally get to be settled, we will appreciate it more and have a stronger relationship as a couple after everything we’ve been through together.

Even though we’re still in the middle of the up-hill road towards being a comfortably settled family, I try to remember that I have what I had wanted every day that we were apart.  I get to see Andreas at the end of every day, even if it is only a few hours after work before he has to go to bed.  I never sleep alone. As taxing as the waiting and guessing can be, I can always be sure that love is the one thing I’ll never be left waiting for.

This post is one of the most difficult things I’ve written, and is definitely not one of the best.  I’m finding it harder than I imagined to seek out the right words, the right phrases, to say everything I want to say without sounding too treacly.  I’ve learned so much in the past year, and despite many things being difficult, I’m glad I got to experience it, and wouldn’t want to do it with or for anyone but Andreas.  I know our challenging days are far from over, and I am just constantly grateful that I have Andreas to help me face them.

A Day Out

Yesterday was the last day of Andreas’s four-day weekend (darn) but the first day of real summer weather (YAY!)!  In the afternoon, Andreas left his Diablo III game to walk with me to Pildammsparken, a large nature-y park nearby that we’ve been meaning to explore.  The sky was blue, the sun was hot and even the wind was warm!  After hearing all about the reports of unseasonably warm Wisconsin weather since March, I’ve been (relatively patiently) waiting for our own here in Sweden and here it comes!  We got ice cream and walked around the whole park which is awesome!  It has meadows and a bit of forest, a lake, and flower gardens–basically anything that anyone would want in a park, with the addition of what seems like thousands of geese and ducks.

We’ve vowed to have at least a couple of picnics here as summer progresses, and when I finally get a pair of running shoes, I’m looking forward to having such a beautiful space to run.  But I’m not kidding anyone, there’s also going to be a whole lot of leisurely knitting in the sunshine and endless pages turned (the park just happens to be really close to the city library).

It’s lovely to have days every once in a while to remind me how lucky I am, and to remind me not to look back wistfully on how I felt a year ago (excited about having graduated, and looking forward to our wedding and seeing so many of our dear friends again) or where I want to be in a year from now, but to concentrate on how wonderful right now just happens to be.  I’ve been aiming more and more for that sought-after “attitude of gratitude” am surprised at how easy it’s been to suddenly feel overwhelmed with happiness and thankfulness, especially after a few hormonal baby-fever meltdowns that may or may not have occurred this weekend.

I’m just grateful that there is more than enough happiness and peacefulness in my life to help me get through tough times and bouts of homesickness.

When life hands you failed cakes…

Yesterday, I decided to be adventurous, brave, and ambitious…in the kitchen.  I decided I was going to make an Exciting Cake!  However, I ended up spending the majority of the day browsing Foodgawker for inspiration and a good idea.  Finally I found a chocolate cake recipe and threw myself into cake-making!  Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be.  I burned the chocolate on my first attempt at melting it, and somehow managed to put the oven 50 degrees (celcius) higher than I meant to which resulted in a high-in-the-middle cracked, slightly too brown cake.

I’ll be honest.  I almost cried.  However, it was time for me to go pick up Andreas from the train station, and I didn’t have time for a meltdown so I threw on my coat and marched out the door, imagining that when I came back home, maybe the cake would be magically healed.

It wasn’t.  However, when I saw him walking towards me in the train station, my heart jumped, just like it always did when I’d see him after being apart for 6 months, and my cake-woes immediately felt solvable again.  On the way home, we stopped by ICA and had a fruit-(and laundry detergent)-buying-spree, and I knew we were headed in the right direction.

These strawberries, and their strawberry smell, were pure inspiration, and it was decided that when life hands you failed cakes…you make trifle.  Andreas even took a break from Diablo to come help me put it all together!  And while I’m on that, he is so much better at balancing video games and real life than I expected!  Even though he squeaks “this game is so FUN!” at frequent intervals, he took a long trifle-making break AND even did yoga with me this morning before he started playing!

The fruit alone looked good enough to gobble up, but we were patient, and our patience was rewarded:

with trifle!  Trifle so good that it made Andreas sing “Come trifle with me…come trifle, let’s trifle awaaaaay” over…and over.  Trifle so good that I didn’t even mind!  Not even a little bit.

So I learned not to be upset over failed cakes, and to be thankful I have a husband who    a) makes me feel better when I do get upset over failed cakes, b) helps me turn them into awesome things, and c) won’t mind that I post the following picture.

Awwww, boys and trifle.

Moving into the new apartment was sort of a “fresh start” for me, and I’ve been feeling so much better!  I wake up early in the mornings and do yoga in an airy, light apartment, have kicked my “addiction” to TV, and get out of the house every day (even if it’s just to walk to the train station).  I’m so grateful for every new beginning (even if having so many new beginnings gets wearing after a very short while).

Little Lemon Cream Pies

One of my more recent discoveries is how easy and simple it is to make lemon/orange/lime curd.  The first time I tried, I mixed and measured gingerly, got frustrated when it didn’t thicken, and sweated my way through.  I’ve made it probably no less than a dozen times since then, and yesterday when I decided to make one of my husband’s favorite desserts, I sort of threw things in the pot, knowing it would turn out in the end.  Because (here comes the secret) lemon curd?  Not hard.

Anyway, the following recipe is one we just sort of made up once.  Now, my husband and I don’t really have “a song” and we fail rather spectacularly at celebrating anniversaries, but we show our love in other ways (for example, he saw me eyeing these ramekins in the store and bought them for me, and for another example, I made these mini-pies for him while he was away at work) and I consider this “our recipe.”

Frozen Lemon-Cream Pie

Crust:
1 cup crushed cookie crumbs (any cookie, really.  In the states, we use graham crackers)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tablespoons sugar

Melt butter, and mix with sugar and cookie crumbs.  Press into the bottom of 6 ramekins, or a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Filing:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
zest from about three lemons
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine lemon juice, zest, sugar, and egg yolks in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat.  Cook, whisking occasionally until mixture thickens (coats the back of a spoon).  Take it off the heat and strain it into a bowl.  Cut butter into chunks and whisk into mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until completely cool.  Whip the cream (adding some powdered sugar if desired).  Fold in cooled lemon curd until well-blended, and divide between the ramekins, or pour into pie crust.  Cover and freeze overnight.  Before serving, let pie stand in the refrigerator for a few minutes to soften slightly.

I garnished mine with some of the zest I strained out of the lemon curd, which I dipped into orange juice and then granulated sugar.

We had cute and delicious dessert, and while I’m a bit disappointed with how my pictures turned out, I’m not disappointed in my little pies (or my beloved ramekins)!