On childhood innocence

An English Mamma in Stockholm: on childhood innocence

Both boys seem to have taken after me and love to chat, chat, chat away. I love talking to them about the things that interest them and O especially is so curious about language, the differences between Swedish and English and what words mean.

On the bus, he repeats the names of the coming bus stop after they are announced. And this caused a bit of a problem this week.

We were sitting near to two slightly older boys (aged maybe 8) with the mother of one of them, sitting alongside looking on her phone.

Every time that O said anything, they copied it in loud baby voices and laughed.

I looked over at them.

They laughed.

O said something else.

They laughed again.

I looked over again and glared at them. They carried on mimicking him.

I tried to concentrate on what he was saying to me. I spotted his best friend from preschool out of the window and pointed him out to O. We tried to wave to him.

The boys carried on mimicking O and laughing.

The mother carried on looking at her phone.

I looked over again and glared again.

The mimicking continued.

The mother lent forward and said something to one of them.

They carried on mimicking O and laughing.

We pressed the button for our stop.

O said the name of it. He loves that the bus stop has the same name as our address.

They mimicked him again.

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Training Tuesday

Another decent week on the fitness front for me. I didn’t achieve all of my goals but the training that I did was successful. I fell short on my home training – not managing to do any of the Bikini Body Guide – but the running went well and I am well on my way towards joining the FBI (just joking, but wouldn’t that be exciting?).

The week’s training

Wednesday: I followed D’s advice and did a session of running, but decided to mix it up with a bit of strength too, so I started with a couple of pull-ups: two back-to-back (a new personal record), then 300m sprint and 2.4km of running, timed, to see if I am cut out for the FBI. Nailed it! After the running, I finished off with three more pull-ups but with a 30 sec rest between each one and then push-ups. This is where I fell short on the FBI challenge, only managing six. But I’m going to work on it.

Today: I couldn’t make my PT session yesterday, so we rescheduled for today. Unfortunately, the buses decided to switch to a go-slow as it started to rain, so I was running (literally) late and managed to pull a muscle in my thigh as I hurried to the gym. Just marvellous. However, I still managed five rounds of barbell thrusters, progressing up to 34kg on the last round. As long as I was doing them properly, my thigh felt fine. We finished off with three rounds of wide grip barbell deadlifts (34kg), alternating with push-ups. An easier session because of my thigh, but one that left me feeling strong.

Training Tuesday goals

No running on the cards this week to give my thigh a chance to recover, so I will focus instead on push-ups, pull-ups and strength training. I am targeting at least one session in the gym at work and one home session with the Bikini Body Guide. Holiday season is drawing near and I really want to get bikini body ready…

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday bikini body ready huffington post

Source: Huffington Post

What are your fitness goals this week? Are you bikini body ready? ;)

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday fitness workouts gym exercise

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Steller storytelling

Have you heard of Steller? It’s a fantastic visual site where you create small photo-based “stories” to share with others. There are some truly beautiful stories to flip through on there.

This weekend, I contributed my first story to the Steller storytelling site: a tour through my favourite area of the city – the narrow, cobbled streets of Stockholm’s Gamla Stan and a visit to my favourite restaurant in the Old Town: Den Gyldene Freden (which you might have seen on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago).

An English Mamma in Stockholm: gamla stan steller visual storytelling stockholm old town

I am quite excited about the potential of Steller and I know I’ll be adding new stories there in the weeks to come. Why not join me there and check out the stunning photos that others have curated.

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Training Tuesday

The Swedes have a few words that defy easy translation into English, and träningsvärk is one of them. Officially, it translates into English as “delayed onset muscle soreness” and literally as “training pain”, but that one, compact Swedish word for muscle soreness a day or so after you’ve trained sums it up far better.

Because when my legs gave way as I got out of bed this morning, I was not thinking “Oh, damn that delayed onset muscle soreness!”

The week’s training

Last Wednesday: Preparing for the birthday party on Sunday meant that I didn’t get in as much training as I would have liked but I did manage to return to the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide and get one session in mid-week. I have a love/hate relationship with burpees. I hate doing them but I love when I succeed with them (and when they are over). I’ve found the best way to get through them is to put on Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name LOUD and screaming out the lyrics while doing the burpees (especially from 4:10 onwards). It works. Seriously. Try it. (Side note: my neighbours must love me.)

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Training Tuesday

Of course, having decided to make myself accountable, I had a terrible week on the training front and managed precisely nothing until yesterday when I had my regular session with my trainer. Not really the start that I was planning for Training Tuesday.

Which all means that the only training I have to report – other than ferrying the boys backwards and forwards to football on the back of my bike on Sunday – is yesterday’s PT session.

Monday: Even though I managed to do precisely zero training in the preceding week, my trainer, D, still added 3kg to my barbell front squats. And I managed five rounds of five squats, alternating with a pull-up. I love it when I feel like I’ve succeeded with something new at the start of the hour; my confidence for the rest of the session is so much higher. After that we did some kettlebell swings, but the pain in my wrist from last week returned, so then it was box step-ups with a 8kg kettlebell on my shoulder, ten on each leg, with ten shoulder presses on each side and ten box jumps in between, for good measure. Four rounds of that and I was done – especially as there was a guy waiting for the box, so D decided I should do the last round in 1.5 mins. Phewh.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday trainers reebok crossfit nike

After last week’s washout, I’m determined to make this week count. As soon as I finish up here, I’m going to pack my gym bag. My plan is a weightlifting session at work tomorrow, treadmill running on Friday and a short home workout session on Saturday. If I can manage that, I’ll be pretty pleased.

Right, goals set. What are your training targets for the week?

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday fitness workouts gym exercise

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The Year in Books – May

Last week I was wondering whether I should join in May’s The Year in Books. Reading books, or more accurately, finishing them, has not been my forte recently. So, wasn’t it a little hypocritical to join in and then fail, yet again, to complete my read for the month?

You see, yet again last month I failed to finish my monthly read. And I had such high hopes for Dinner: A Love Story. I did really the first half of the book as Jenny Rosenstrach has a wonderful storytelling style and it made me laugh out loud to hear about their trials and tribulations when trying to get their youngest to eat. It was oh-so-familiar.

But then real life got in the way and the evenings got lighter, which meant the boys got wilder and less willing to go to sleep, and time just slipped away.

I’ve realised though, that a desire to read more was precisely the reason why I started participating in The Year in Books: to start reading again a little more, as I used to pre-children; to learn something new; to take back that valuable “me time” in the evenings and on my lunch break at work and whenever I had the opportunity.

The Year in Books – May

But I have still struggled to find a book to read this month, probably because I really want one that I feel I can finish before the 30th.

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Training Tuesday

Inspiration has struck thanks to a few different bloggers, mainly Kimberly at Manifest Yourself. I’m talking about my training. I want to make myself more accountable on here by posting about my training on a weekly basis. And the added bonus is that it gives me a record of my progress.

Welcome to Training Tuesday.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday fitness workouts gym exercise

Last Monday: An easy session – I had not trained much the previous week and my shoulder was giving me some trouble. A mixture of barbell push presses (10kg), barbell front squats (20kg), pull-ups (did four across the course of the session – a personal record) and sumo deadlifts (50kg) and back extension sets on the bench. My lower back feels weak at the moment, so we’re working on getting that stronger.

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11 tip-top editing and proofing tips

Despite what Mark Twain said (“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made proof-readers.”),  becoming a better proofreader can have an enormous impact on your writing.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: editing and proofing tips

Two key editing and proofing tips

The two main tips for editing and proofing that I swear by are:

  • Print out your work and read it on paper. You can spot far more errors this way than you would just by reading it on screen.
  • Read your work out loud. This helps you hear the flow of the text and is a brilliant way to decide what goes where. (Often you’ll see my lips moving while I am sitting at my desk at work as I quietly read out the text that I’m working on.)

These are the ones I do if pushed for time and want to brush up my text. But if you want to weed out the errors and get your text into tip-top shape, then I have other tips to bring out the best in your writing. I hate nothing more than spotting a horrid, glaring typo right in the middle of my post and, being the terrible grammar snob that I am, it puts me off reading more of an article online or in print if I spot an error (I know, I know…).

More editing and proofing tips
  • Find a quiet spot to work in. And if you cannot, stick your headphones on to block out some of the background noise.
  • First read your text through with your editor hat on, looking at the flow and style of it and identifying ways to make the text more succinct and easier to understand. After that, it’s time to put on that proofreader hat and spot spelling and grammatical errors, typos, erroneous commas etc.
  • Keep on proofreading until you no longer spot an errors.
  • Most text programs have a spell checker. These are definitely not fullproof but they are a good place to start. So run your text through the spell checker but don’t rely on them alone. (I find the grammar checkers even less reliable than spell checkers and take most of what they say with more than a pinch of salt.)
  • If you have the time, edit and proof your work the following day, so that you are coming to it fresh. If you edit immediately after writing, you will overlook errors or areas that can be improved as the text will be too “familiar” to you.
  • Use your finger or a pen to follow along with the text as you read. This concentrates your mind and helps you not get distracted by text you are yet to read.
  • Have a thesaurus to hand, or a list of handy descriptive words that you can use to brighten your text.
  • Write a list of the mistakes that you find yourself repeating.
  • Keep on proofing, proof each article or post, even if you don’t love doing it and find it a chore. It will be easier over time and eventually you might even learn to love it. (Okay, maybe you need to be a special kind of crazy for that to happen, but you never know.)

Weekly wishes – week 15

Another week with sickness, but another week where I got things done, strangely enough, and my weekly wishes list has a few ticks against it.

Weekly wishes last week
  • Send out the invitations to O’s birthday party. YEP – and we’ve started to get back some RSVPs too.
  • Buy dinosaur bits and pieces for the party. YEP – pinata ordered, printables bought, a few other bits and pieces left to source.
  • Collect the boys’ football strips. NOPE – we’ve not had the confirmation that E has a place at football, so I’m waiting until I receive that.
The week

Last week was a washout, with E sick for the whole of the working week. Luckily, though, he was on the mend by the weekend, so we were able to get out and enjoy the city a bit. And he was able to eat and eat and eat and get back that lovely chubby belly of his. He may have skinny arms and legs like his big brother but his beer belly is something he is very proud of.

O told us about a brilliant park that he had visited with preschool and brilliant Uggleparken (at the Kristineberg end of Kungsholmen) proved to be.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: weekly wishes uggleparken kungsholmen playground

Now I’m just hoping that we can be germ-, bacteria- or virus-free for a while. It’s not too much to ask, is it?

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Weekly wishes – week 14

Guess what? It’s been sickness, sickness, sickness again. And then, just when we thought it was over, the sickness reared its ugly head again. Speaking as the only member of the family not really struck by it (so far, she says, crossing fingers and toes), I have to say that I am well and truly sick of the rest of the family being sick.

Weekly wishes last week
  • Finalise invitation for O’s birthday party. YEP – all ready to be sent out shortly.
  • Buy dinosaur bits and pieces for the party. HALF DONE – most of the items sourced, but not yet bought.
  • Wear glasses all week. YEP, but then I had no choice really.
  • Investigate swimming/dance/football classes for the boys. YEP – O signed up for football class again, and then, just when I was wondering what to do for E, we got an invite from O’s football group for E to start too. He is so incredibly excited about it.

I don’t know whether it is just that I have made my goals more manageable or if I actually do get more done when I have less time, but it was another good weekly wises week.

The week

Last week was one of on and off sickness, topped off with both good and bad news at my eye appointment. The bad news is that I cannot have laser eye surgery to correct my horrendous eyesight. The good news is that I can have some type of surgery. Unfortunately, it is the really hardcore one that involves incisions and the insertion of an extra lens into each eye. Bleurgh. But I have decided that, as long as I get the all clear from the eye doc at the end of this week, I’m just going to go for it. I’m just not going to google it. Or talk about it too much. Or think about it.

Our weekend was the same: good and bad. We spent a lovely day in the city centre on Saturday, visiting Livrustkammaren (Royal Armoury) again and then having a traditional Swedish lunch at Den Gyldene Freden in Gamla Stan, followed by wandering around the old town. Each time I am there, I am reminded what an amazing city this is to live in.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: gamla stan old town stockholm ochre buildings medieval


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The Year in Books – April

Having been so enthusiastic about my book for March, I am actually quite surprised at myself that I am only halfway through. A week away skiing, going to bed before 9pm each night and sleeping for nine hours doesn’t make for much reading time. I am still loving 10% Happier though.

Reading about Dan Harris’ journey from a sceptic to a meditation fan is particular resonant for me at the moment since I am exploring ways that I can minimise stress (or, more accurately, my reaction to it) and find ways to carve out a little peaceful time each week.

The Year in Books – April’s read

Since I have not yet finished it though, I am going to give myself an easier read for April (also as the days have flown past and it is already 10 April. How? Just how?). I have chosen Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach for this month’s read for The Year in Books.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: the year in books  dinner a love story jenny rosenstrach

I read a hilarious excerpt from the book about trying to encourage their younger daughter to eat when she did not want to. And it struck a chord with me immediately, because it mirrored exactly the dinner time issues we’re having with E at the moment (he will only eat sausages). I knew I needed to read this book.

And if that was not enough, this is one of the reviews for it:

Dinner: A Love Story gives me hope that one day my family will also assemble around an actual table and eat an actual meal that was actually cooked by me;
a meal not solely comprised of animal shaped cheese crackers dipped in peanut butter. Although those are good too.”
SAMANTHA BEE, correspondent, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

What’s not to like about a book like that? I am hopeful for three in a row – three great reads in a row for The Year in Books would be a feat for me.

Linking up with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees

Circle of Pine Trees