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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How to survive travelling with children

As the summer season approaches, we’ve started planning our holidays. We love to travel and explore new places. Our trips have not always been without incident though. I thought I’d share what we have learned (often the hard way) about travelling with children, so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes as us.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: travelling with children asleep in car airport travel trunkis

Travelling with children at the airport
  • Pack more spare clothes, nappies, wipes, etc in your hand luggage than you think you will need. Seriously. It just isn’t worth having to take your child off a plane dressed only in their pants, or worse.
  • If you’ve got a long connection between flights, check out the airport’s website beforehand for facilities. For a long stopover in Frankfurt, we researched beforehand and found there was a large play area. This kept the boys entertained for a good long while.
  • Take snacks with you, bagged up in batches – some for the airport, some for the flight, some for trains, buses, taxis etc after you arrive.
  • If you’re travelling with very little ones and need to take milk or formula with you, check the security rules for the airport(s). These can differ. Some airports they will want you to test the milk/formula. In these cases it’s a good idea to take a spare container so that you can pour the liquid over to that to taste it and avoid contaminating the bottle you’ll be giving to your little one.
  • Explain to your children beforehand that you might need to queue a lot at the airport. Although sometimes a wailing toddler can get you and your family moved to the front of the queue pronto – thanks E!
Travelling with children on a flight
  • Sometimes I buy a couple of small new toys or games for flights. The novelty of something new can pay off. If you rotate toys, then you can always bring along toys that have been away for a while. Again, the novelty works.
  • I always keep a spare packet of crayons in my bag. If you don’t have paper with you, the inflight magazine or the sick bag (!!) can make good places to get creative.
  • If your children look at an iPad or tablet, why not load a couple of new free apps on beforehand. Again, novelty is everything.
  • On longer flights, we change the boys into PJs early on, so they can get comfy. It makes the flight seem like a sleepover adventure and is much easier than having to wrangle them into sleeping outfits once they’re tired and irritable. This also works if you’ll be arriving at your destination late or during the time they’d normally be sleeping.
  • If you have a little one and you’re making up formula on the flight, ask for both hot and cold water. The water from the galley only comes in two temperatures: cold and scalding. There is nothing worse than having to wait for milk to cool down when you have a hungry, tired (screaming) baby.
Travelling with children in a car/on a bus, train or boat
  • One thing we’ve definitely learned the hard way is to be equipped for car sickness. E is particularly susceptible and has to be facing forwards in the car. We’re also particularly aware of the temperature inside the car and you’ll often find us on the sunniest days wearing jumpers with the air con on high. Anything to stop him vomiting in a hire car. These days we equip ourselves with plenty of water bottles, wet wipes, an extra towel and spare clothes to hand. We also take the precaution of putting down plastic bags across the footwell that can simply be thrown out if the worse comes to the worst.
  • We also use travel sickness wristbands to try and combat the problem. You need to put them on around 15 minutes beforehand though – something we have been known to forget. Peppermints to suck on can also help.
  • The potential for travel sickness means that books and many toys are not an option for us in cars and on buses, so we rely on games like a variation on I Spy, who can spot a certain item first, or certain colours of cars. Or we put music on – they boys love to sing. When we are outside the car, the boys have packs of travel cards with different games to play and pictures to draw. Magnetic travel games are a good option to keep older children entertained.
  • We make frequent stops for food and snacks, the toilet, leg stretching and so on. I tend to pre-plan all routes and research places at which we can stop and visit along the way. Sometimes, having control issues can be a bonus.

The most important thing we’ve found to take on our travels though? A sense of humour. That incident in the car with the exploding packet of crisps might not seem so funny at the time, but having a laugh about it afterwards is the key.

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Oasis reversible shopper: double the fun

You know that adage “If you love something, buy it twice”? That is an actual motto, isn’t it? Well, it should be, and especially when it applies to this Oasis reversible shopper.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: oasis reversible shopper

I bought this shopper a month or so ago in this beige/bright yellowy-green and have been getting my money’s worth from it. It’s bright and spring-like and is perfect for perking up both an outfit and my mood (the weather has been terrible, with the country recording the wettest May in 200 years).

The Oasis reversible shopper includes an inner bag, in the bright yellowy-green in this case, as well as a small purse on a strap that can be clipped on either to the shopper or the inner bag.

At the time I had umm-ed and ahh-ed over whether to buy this colour or the beige/bright pink version. In the end, I think I made the better choice. But the idea of a pink one lingered on.

Roll on a month or so, to last week, and I popped into the Oasis store here in the city on my lunch break and what did I find? A beige/light dusky pink version. And add a 20% off discount for everything in store that day: perfect.

I know that I am going to get so much use out of this shopper on summer holidays too. You can throw so much in it, and by using the inner bag can keep purses, phones, keys etc away from swimming costumes, towels and all of the other summer paraphernalia that you tend to throw into your bag on a day out. I think too that this could make a good nappy/diaper bag if you don’t need too many different compartments and pockets.

Verdict: the Oasis reversible shopper is an all-round brilliant summer bag. So good that I had to buy it twice.

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Creative Market

My recent discovery of Creative Market has actually coincided with the site reaching its 1,000,000th member, although I cannot claim any credit for this success, other than telling people about the site. The site is a brilliant one-stop-shop for photos, website templates, fonts and blog themes. I’ve used it for both fonts and photos for this blog and I’ve also downloaded a fantastic CV template to use.

An added bonus with Creative Market is that you can download six items for free each week. And there are some brilliant things among those six and some fantastic ones that cost very little. All in all, I’m so impressed with the site and just a bit sad that I have not discovered it before. What a resource.

As part of the celebration of their millionth member, you can get 15% off your next purchase by sharing about the site – just like I’m doing here.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: creative market million users

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Insta moments

Instagram certainly has a knack for making things look that little bit better than they are. I love that it can even make people running in the rain look like peaceful and calming as I learned this week.

Instagram moments this week

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments stockholm marathon rye bread den building

We spent the weekend hanging out at home, watching the Stockholm Marathon in the rain (and feeling so sorry for the runners in that weather) and building dens – a pretty productive time, really. A trip into the city centre also coincided with a vintage car rally. E was fascinated by each and every car that drove past and could have spent hours watching them.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments vintage car rally stockholm

If you’d like to see more of what we’ve been up, hop on over to Instagram and take a look. See you there!

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos

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Training Tuesday

You know those weeks when you know that you should train, but life just gets in the way? Well, that was why there was no Training Tuesday last week. I don’t really have any excuses why I didn’t train; but suddenly, it was Monday again and time for my hour with D, my trainer, and I had done nothing, nowt, nada for a week.

Incredibly, despite that, I managed a good session: five separate pull-ups between rounds of thrusters, which was a record. And I even managed to get up to 33kg with my barbell thrusters – a personal best. I had been so worried that I would struggle after a week without training, but it turned out fine. But I was determined not to let the same thing happen this past week. These Training Tuesday posts are where I hold myself accountable, so I need to actually have something to wrote about…

Sunday: I managed a shortened Bikini Body Guide session. I would have liked to do more but the boys were getting twitchy and I was struggling hard with the exercises. I think this is where the lack of training for a week hit me.

Monday: I didn’t have my weekly PT session, so instead I popped to the work gym and did a round of five pull-ups with rests of 15-20 secs in between, ran for a while (3x 5 mins at 12kph and 1x 3 mins at 12kph) and then another round with five pull-ups. I couldn’t believe that I managed a total of ten pull-ups. And I realised that when I train with D on Mondays, I’m at CrossFit Nordic and everyone else there can easily rock the pull-ups. At the work gym, I’m in the minority. And that’s the kind of push that I need. A terrible kind of competitiveness, but if it means I push myself more, then I guess you can say that it works. I’ve also signed up for a 30-day ab challenge on Facebook. So when I got home, I did day 1 of that, even though my glutes were so sore from the running and the BBG the day before. I upped the plank from 10 secs to 20 secs, as I often do a plank during training session.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday quantum online personal urban physique 30 day ab challenge

Tuesday: Day 2 of the ab challenge. Again I upped the plank, from 12 secs to 20 secs again.

Training Tuesday goals

My plan for the next seven days is to go training early tomorrow morning before work and do a bit of weight training. I have my PT session on Thursday this week instead, so I’ll take Wednesday as my rest day. At the weekend, I want to get in one home session – probably BBG again. Then on Monday next week I have my regular PT session with D again. I’ll be interested to see, if we do barbell thrusters, what weight I can do. Thanks to all those pull-ups and the running, I am feeling pretty strong at the moment.

What are your fitness goals for the week?

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

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Save the Children’s Den Day

When you think about it, £5 isn’t really much, is it? And neither is £20 when it comes down to it. With £5, Save the Children can give five books to refugee children, and with £20, they can provide a month’s worth of healthy, nutritious food for a child. And a donation of just £33 could give a family five sheets of tarpaulin to build a shelter. Even now, in the 21st century, millions of children around the world don’t have proper homes to live or shelter to protect them.

Save the Children’s Den Day aims to highlight this. The idea is that over the next few days (until 6 June), you can raise money by building a den. The site features some great fundraising ideas.

We decided to use O’s bed to build our den. He’s just graduated from the toddler bed of the Rocky, to the normal bed, without a guard rail. And the brilliant part is that there is now a cubby hole under the bed. Perfect for building a den.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day

We furnished the den with a foam mat as a “carpet” and then used a blanket to make a bed/sofa and finished off with an old Ikea floor mat, tucked in, to make a door.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day bed

O even let his brother have a turn inside the den.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day inside

After we had built the den, we talked a bit about how some children don’t have homes to live in and what we could do to help them. Clearly, giving money isn’t a concept that they are aware of just yet, but they did think that maybe other children would like the toys that they no longer play with. We would usually sneak these out to Myrorna under cover of darkness but it might now be time for the boys to be involved with this.

If you would like to build a den and raise some money for Save the Children, you can sign up here or simply donate here. You can share your dens using the #denday hashtag. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Insta moments

This has been the year that Instagram has taken off and, coincidentally, also the year that I’ve been much better at recording our comings and goings there. More and more people I know are now on Instagram and it’s a friendly community of beautiful shots (even if artificially so). I like the simplicity and look of the app so much, especially with all the new filters recently (seriously, I barely scroll much past the first seven or eight now, I love them so much). So I’ve managed to create some good Instagram moments for us to look back on.

Instagram moments this week

This past week we’ve been struggling a bit with the boys’ sleep. The evenings are so light these days that they simply don’t want to sleep, but since it’s light early in the morning, they wake early too. And some days it is just too much to stay awake…

An English Mamma in Stockholm: sleepy sleeping boy crafting plusplus bricks flowers dancing boys

O has discovered crafting and creating, which is wonderful. A few weeks ago he made a volcano from coloured paper, complete with spurting lava. And the other day, he sat with PlusPlus bricks for about half an hour before producing this flower. He was so proud of it.

The weekend was busy: during the day on Saturday, the boys and I headed into the city to see the cars ahead of the start of Gumball3000 the next day. They entertained me greatly by dancing to an old 1990s’ dance classic that I used to love.

The evening was even better as Husband and I headed out to dinner to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. We rolled home a little bit tipsy at midnight and then stayed up to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Heja Måns!

An English Mamma in Stockholm: sixth wedding anniversary shoes date night restaurant dinner

The following day, between football sessions, we headed back into the city and took a walk along the waterfront of Gamla Stan. I love everything about Gamla Stan (if you avoid the main street), so much so that I created a Steller story about it. And this time we saw a three-masted Russian sailing ship docked there.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: insta moments ship boat ferry bunny ears instagram collage

And the past few days have been filled with sunshine and a garden party at the preschool and, most importantly, the promise of summer.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos

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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.