Exploring Stockholm

We spent today exploring Stockholm, its history, its food and its drink.  Our day started with a wonderful and real authentic continental breakfast.  It wasn’t the paltry continental breakfast every hotel at a hockey tournament tries to sell you.  This breakfast was legit.  There were no watery eggs or overcooked bacon to be had.  The only similarity is that this breakfast also had a waffle maker, which we definitely enjoyed.

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Our time here in Stockholm is short, so we wanted to maximize our time and see as much of the city as possible.  The best way to do this, especially in the winter, is the hop on and hop off buses.  They run continuously throughout the day with several stops and a narrated tour to boot.  If the weather were a bit warmer and my ankle/foot completely healed, this would be a perfect walking city.  Truly, if my foot was better, we’d probably have walked most of the city.

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We grabbed the bus at Stockholm’s Central nation, which is super nice.  We somehow managed to missed it twice.  Once it was our fault, the second time it just drove by.  When the third bus came by, we were sure to be first in line.  We sat atop the bus and rode for about half the tour before realizing we should have grabbed the headphones downstairs.   The bus takes you through all the major neighborhoods in Sweden and provides a lot of great information about the sites.

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We rode the thing throughout the complete loop before deciding to hop off at Gamle Stan near the Royal Palace.  As soon as I exited the bus, I was cold.  We were dropped off right across from the palace and not far from the water.  The wind was whipping off the water with no buildings to slow it.  I was getting cold fast!  We made our way up the palace stairs to check it out.   Our timing was sublime as we entered the courtyard right before they started the changing of the guard.   I filmed it in its entirety, but I almost froze my fingers off!

As soon as the ceremony ended, we made our way into the Palace to check out the Royal Apartments, the museum and find a bathroom.  The Palace is stunning and a beautiful example of the baroque design style.  Throughout the palace, the artwork was sublime.  At every turn, every room there were a myriad of paintings, sculptures and tapestries.   There was one drawing room in particular that was full of portraits of the royal family.  It reminded me of Harry Potter and a couple of other movies where the eyes in the portraits follow you as you move through the room.

After exploring the palace grounds, we headed to find food.  We explored the palace while past the lunch hour, so we decided to go for dinner.   At the recommendation of our bartender last night, we headed to Aifur.  It was an adventure through Gamle Stan to find it with two pit stops at Stortoget, the oldest square in Stockholm, to get coffee and mittens.  Finally, we headed down the hill to Västerlånggatan, the main thoroughfare, to find Aifur.   I tried to behave, but couldn’t help perusing a few of the stores along the way.  Humorously, when we finally found the restaurant it wasn’t opened yet.  Naturally, we killed the half hour at Corner Bar enjoyed  a few drinks.

Dinner at Aifur was quite the experience.  The restaurant is an homage to Scandinavia’s Viking heritage in its decor, its food, and its staff.  Consequently, the dining room was set up with several long tables with benches on both sides.   On the tables, there were candelabra, silverware and glassware in keeping with the theme.  Each of the dishes on the menu were inspired by the Vikings.

We started our meal with a charcuterie board inspired by Ragnor himself.  Largely, it was compiled of different types of sausages, including reindeer heart.  Surprisingly, the reindeer heart sausage was tasty.  I enjoyed the reindeer sausage with some cheddar chess on a cracker.  While I had the elk sausage on bread with cheddar and boiled apples. It was a nice exploration of the different types of sausages from the region.

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Our main courses were just as yummy.  Jon and I enjoyed venison with hash browns on root vegetables served on a creamy mushroom sauce.  Jake had the porcini risotto, which he thought was okay.  I really enjoyed it!  Brandi had the dwarf chicken also served with the risotto, which was also quite tasty.  We accompanied our dinner with Mead from Poland.

The best part of dinner, aside from the company and the food, was the atmosphere.  Every time new guests would arrive, the host/hostess would announce them to the dining room sharing both their party name and where they’re from. It was fun to guess where our other dinners guests hailed from.  I’d be lying if I said we were good at that game.  Nonetheless, it made for a fun night.  Lastly, as we ate, we enjoyed live traditional Scandinavian music keeping with the restaurant’s theme.

Post dinner we walked back to the hotel and then headed up to The Capitol Bar at the Scandic for the first of two night caps.  I ended my night out at the bar downstairs with a great apple beer from Belgium.  While I got ready for bed, the rest of the party closed down the bar and went on a fast food run.  Sadly, there were no Doritos burgers tonight only zombie burgers from Burger King.

Tomorrow we’re off to Helsinki for several days.  Stockholm has been a blast and we’ll definitely be back!

If you go:

Sightseeing bus: Hop On Hop Off Bus

The Palace: Royal Palace Complex: 

The Dinner: Aifur

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Back to Back

Wow, it feels like forever since I’ve actually had the time to post on back to back days.  We had a busy day of hockey and hockey related activities.  The morning started with the Mayor’s team fundraising at a Publix in Coconut Creek.  Thanks to the store’s generous patrons, his squad raised over $800.  Fortunately, he and the hubby were back in time to leave right way for Goalielock’s games.

Goalielock’s and his squad split the day dropping the first contest to the Hawks, but winning their second against the Toros.  I had a blast in the box with Tonya and DB during the first game.  Reunited and it felt so good!  Unfortunately, during he warmups for game two Goalielock’s left leg slid out on him and he pulled his groin.  Long story short, I walked out to hit the restroom pre-game and when I came back he was on the bench in a different jersey.  It only took me almost the entire first period to figure it out.  Needless to say, Goalielocks has been on solid regimen of ice for 20 and heat for 20 since he got home.

I’ve gotta give a shout to fellow hockey mom D. Green for the amazing ribbon she gave me.  I freaking love it.  It makes me wonder how the crafty gene skipped me entirely.  Truly, I have not one crafty bone in my body.  When I try to be crafty, it ends up looking like something you’d see on Netflix’s Nailed It. (love that show!) Nonetheless, since I don’t possess that skillset at all, I’m in awe of those who do it so well.

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Between Goalielock’s game, the Mayor had a four hour clinic.  We sent Goalielock’s to John’s house with the team, while we drove to Palm Beach to drop him off.   After dropping him off, we headed over to meet the team for some grub.  As for my Mayor, he’s completely exhausted after the craziness of his day.   It’s not often that he puts himself to bed this early!  Speaking of which, it’s time for me to head off  to practice my Swedish, read a bit and head to bed.

P.S.  Don’t forget to join Team Deb Force Five!

TMinus Seven

It’s tminus seven until Jake, and my brother and his wife head to Scandinavia for an epic adventure.  Jake and I spent our morning picking up a few last-minute items from Kohl’s. It’s going to be in the 40s-50s, so a light jacket should suffice.  Since we live in Florida our fall wardrobe for Scandinavian weather isn’t quite up to par.

After Kohl’s we headed to Barnes and Noble.  I’ve been reading book after book as I work my way through the top 500 fiction and non-fiction books.  I’m currently reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, but should finish it in the coming days.  It’s delightful this far, quite the departures from Tolstoy’s Resurrection.  I’d highly recommend both novels.  For the trip, I bought Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since paperbacks were 3 for $30, I was seriously tempted to by several books.  I behaved and walked out with only two.

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In addition to Larsson’s novel, I picked up a book on Swedish grammar.  I love DuoLingo, but I needed to read through the grammatical rules.  Every night I try to spend at least 30 minutes practicing Swedish before reading for the last hour before bed.  I don’t expect to be fluent, but I hope to at least be able to communicate in Swedish while in Stockholm.  As an aside, there isn’t DuoLingo for Finnish or Finnish grammar books at our Barnes and Noble.    Please see video below for what I imagine I’ll sound like.

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I am super excited, not just for the trip, but for November’s Purple Stride.  This year I’m unable to run due to my left ankle, so I’m taking on a different role.  For this year’s event, I’m happy to announce that I am the Team Chair.  I’ll be in charge to driving team results and recruitment.  Those of you on the fence of joining team Deb Force Five – now it the time to join.   If you’re not in Florida that’s okay!  You can join us as a virtual strider.   Join by clicking here.  I’ll leave you with one of Freddy Mercury’s iconic live performances.  I, for one, cannot wait to see the Queen movie coming out next week.

 

It’s Been Crazy

It’s been crazy around these parts hence the several month hiatus from the blog.  While the kids went north this summer, the hubby and I worked.  Oh and I tore my posterior tibial tendon, which has been so much fun.  Needless to say I didn’t do much this summer but work and elevate my leg.  Now I’m bootless, scooterless and ready to write!

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I did take on a new, super girl like identity as the summer ended: Scooter Girl.  You know like Avril Lavigne’s skater boi just older, with a boot and a lot less coordination.  I spent eight weeks in a boot and on my glorious scooter.  Whoever invented the scooter, also known by its significantly less sexy name as a knee walker, is my hero.  I can’t imagine having to spent eight weeks in a boot and on crutches – I wouldn’t have gone anywhere.  The scooter was a complete lifesaver.  It helped, of course, that my scooter was pimped out with a basket, a cup holder (how else would I carry my coffee), a memory foam padded knee pad cover and a bell (thank you KB.)

While I was on the scooter, I noticed that people were much nicer and helpful.  Even the snowbirds near me were sweet – amazing.  It was, however, a little demoralizing when a woman in her 80s told me she had been in the same boat and that I’d be okay.   She was so sweet.  Seriously, the snowbirds were sweet and if you lived in S. Florida you’d understand how amazing that really is.  It also sucked having to put on a cast bag to go outside or take a shower.  Having a cast during rainy season isn’t awesome.

The scooter also got us VIP entrance and upgrades at a couple of concert.  I definitely was not  looking forward to being on the law at an amphitheater with my scooter.  However, nothing was going to stop me from seeing the Imagine Dragons or Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence.   I think maybe that’s the lesson in all of this.  No matter what life throws at you, don’t stop living.  P.S. The Imagine Dragons with shirtless Dan is a must see show!

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Thankfully, I’m off the scooter as the craziness of hockey season is in full swing. I did have a scooter buddy at the beginning of the season, but I’m happy to report we’re both off our scooters!   It was a challenge to fit my scooter and their gear in the car.  Not too mention it’s tough to navigate the rink and find a comfortable viewing place for the games. I’ll admit that the bell prevented several potential collisions as I glided down the ramps at Ice Den.  Fortunately, the breaks on the scooter were quite effective.

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Perhaps the hardest part of the boot life is the inability to really exercise.  For eight weeks I was relegated to water workouts only.  We don’t have a pool at home, so I was at the mercy of traffic and the weather.  It’s been tough to be outside my normal workout habits.  It’s also tough to be passed in the pool by a geriatric swimmer, but I digress.  I’m still not cleared to run or do Zumba, but spent sometime on my TRX this past week.  It felt amazing.

At any rate, it feels good to back at the blog and bootless!

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While I won’t be able to run this year’s Purple Stride, I am still captain of Team Deb Force Five and am taking on an expanded role at the event.  Please join the Fight by joining Team Deb Force Five as a participant, donor or virtual strider!  Together we can help PanCan double survival rates by 2020.  Here’s the link:  Join Team Deb Force Five

Moving On

Today was Goalielocks’ moving on ceremony marking the end of a fantastic three years at Logger’s Run Middle School.  Since day one he has flourished in Middle School enjoying the academic offerings and his many friends.  It was apparent tonight how much he enjoyed his school and how well he got along with his classmates.  Of course, for me, it was bittersweet as it marks the end of one stage and the beginning of another stage.  It seems like just yesterday he was graduated from preschool and now he’s off to high school.

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The ceremony itself was at his future high school in West Boca.  We found out yesterday that he has been offered a spot in the medical academy at West Boca with all of his friends.  He was absolutely ecstatic to learn that he’ll be continuing his school journey with the vast majority of his school friends.  We waited until tonight at dinner to give him the good news.

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We waited patiently in the hot, sauna of a gym for ceremony to start.  They started “Pomp and Circumstance” as the graduates filed into the gym.  Maybe it was the contacts or both our bad vision, but we didn’t see Goalielocks walk into the gym at all.  Once they had sat down, we didn’t seem him either.  Naturally, we started to panic a bit.  After a few minutes of concern, my hubby decided to go down and see if we could find him.

He headed down towards the entrance and start chatting with the principal and the police officers working the event, who assured him he was there.  The hubby headed up the other bleachers to try and find him to no avail.  Finally, the principal let him walk down the side and he found him.   Now we could relax and enjoy the show.

As I watched the video with Goalielocks tonight, he quickly pointed out that we actually got him on video.  How we missed him in the first place is beyond me.  Like I said it could be the contacts or the blonde hair.  Nonetheless, it was a fabulous night to celebrate the accomplishments of middle school while looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of high school.  

 

Awkward

Awkward… What a word and a what a stage in life.  When I think of an awkward stage, I think back to junior high.   Junior high, a.k.a middle school, seemed to be the epitome of awkwardness for me.  On the other hand, it seems to be much less awkward for my boys, but that could be because their boys.  Junior high/middle school can be hellacious for a girl.  If there was one period in life I wouldn’t want to revisit, that’s probably it.

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In other news, tonight as I finished my workout on my TRX I was confronted with quite the incredible site.  I only wish a camera had been filming me as Goalielocks ran into my room, net in hand shouting how he found a baby bird while searching for his kayak paddle.  Yes, that’s right.  My boy ran into my room with the poor baby bird he found in a fishing net.  Apparently, the baby became separated from its mother and siblings and was laying by itself in the middle of the grass.  Honestly, my expression had to be priceless.  How else could one reasonably react while mid chest press on the TRX?  If I had to imagine what it looked like, I think it looked something like this…

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Needless to say, I’ll be calling Busch Wildlife center or another wildlife rescue organization in the morning to make sure this sweet bird gets a proper upbringing.  We did identify it as a common moorhen. It’s cute enough.   However, it belongs with an animal rescue organization that can raise it/rehabilitate it, so it can return to the wild.

Before this happened, Goalielocks came into my room urgently asking where his kayak was and that someone had stolen it.  Or at least that’s what I heard as  was running desperately out of breath on the treadmill.  Turns out he had only misplaced the kayak paddle not the entire kayak.  Boy, what a relief that was…  And then of course on the way to kayaking he rescued the baby bird.

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There was a couple funny awkward incidents this weekend too.  First, while we waited for our Shift shopper to arrive, he sat on my empty wall ball box falling into him getting stuck.  He was captive, so I was able to get a pic of him pretty easily.  Then there was Sunday.  We had dry rock and marine life shipped to us last week, so we had 3 huge boxes with biodegradable packing peanuts in them. I wanted to reuse the boxes for our charitable donations, so I asked him to dump the peanuts into the trash.  Unfortunately, he only heard three words of the sentence “dump the peanuts.”  Consequently, the packing peanuts littered the upper portion of our driveway around the garbage can.

When he came back inside so quickly, I was pretty confident that he had missed a key phrase in my request “in the garbage.”  So I asked him to go back out and clean it up.  Undoubtedly, he waited it out as long as he could until we forced him back out.  Unfortunately for him, the peanuts had already started to breakdown making it infinitely more difficult to clean them up.

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No more than five minutes passed by than he came to the door freaking out because the peanuts had encased and were sticking to his feet.  It was truly one of the funniest things I had ever seen.  I told him to hold on because I had to grab my phone.  I quickly grabbed my phone and headed out to check out both his feet and the mess he had created.  He had put a dent in his mess, but his packing peanuts shoes had me in hysterics.  I had to grab a pic! Now I can remind him if he had done it right the first time, his feet wouldn’t be encased in packing peanuts.  Talk about instant karma and a cautionary tale all wrapped in one or wrapped in packing peanuts.

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As I’ve been writing this, Goalielocks has already set the bird up with a nice temporary home.  The bird has everything it needs including a heat bulb.  This will ensure it doesn’t get too cold while in our care.  He clearly was, again, channeling his inner Gerry Durrell bringing home yet another creature for our menagerie.  I can only imagine how happy the hubby will be when he finds out.

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Exploring The World

There’s nothing I enjoy more than exploring the world with my family and friends.  Last month, we were in the Bahamas for a fun and relaxing trip with family.  This weekend the Hubby is headed West for an adult hockey tournament with Goalielocks, while the Mayor will head to Epcot with school.  Jake will be working, which means I’ll have an entire Saturday to myself!  (Say what!?!?!)  If I didn’t have all these blisters on my feet from starting to run again, I’d probably go get a long over due pedicure.  I’m just a little concerned about picking up an infection with the blisters, so I’ll probably go shoe shopping instead.

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Before I get to my super Saturday, I have a 5K on Thursday night.  It’s all about the preparation with these races, which means I’m facing an uphill battle.   I’ve trained pretty steadily for the past two weeks, but it isn’t going to be sufficient to yield favorable results.  My goal is to get back under 30 minutes, but I don’t think this will be that race.  Nevertheless, it feels great to be running again.  To be clear, it feels good after I’m done running not while I’m running.

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Next weekend I’m headed to the islands for a well deserved momcation.  I can’t wait to be on a beautiful island with incredible women and incredible beaches.  Its been a hell of a first quarter and this is the perfect way to recharge my battery for the second quarter.   Honestly, I cannot wait to disconnect for a few days while in the company of great people.   Plus, you cannot beat the beaches in Turks and Caicos!

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One of my goals has always been to travel more and see different places.  The trips don’t have to be long, but just enough to get away for a bit and explore a new city.  Consequently, I’ve been thinking that for the boys’ birthdays, it would be better to take them on a weekend getaway than buy them something.   I love the idea of shared experiences over material goods.  I’ll let you know how that goes.  Lastly, Goalielocks hit the ice for the first time in earnest since his injury almost two months ago!

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter to the blogosphere. I don’t know about you guys, but I started my day with a sensible breakfast of eggs. While the breakfast of eggs part was true, the sensible not so much. Unless, of course, your breakfast of eggs was made up of Cadbury eggs.

Our egg/basket hunt was a bit disjointed as Jake had to leave for work before Goalielocks woke up. While we could have woken him up to hunt the hunt, it’s better to let sleeping beasts lie. Though shall not wake up a teenager unnecessarily. We’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

The boys enjoyed their baskets. Admittedly, they were quite simple, but we’re trying to move towards a less is more kind of lifestyle. Fortunately, I planned the candy but well so as to leave enough extra Cadbury Eggs for the hubby and I to enjoy.

For the majority of the day, we chilled at home binge watching the Trailer Park Boys. If you’ve never watched this show, you’re missing out. The show follows the unbelievable antics of three friends in a trailer park. Unfortunately, for these guys the park provides a pretty toxic environment.

We also made so progress on the remodel project we’re starting in our family room and kitchen. After some debate over paint colors, we narrowed it down to three choices. Consequently, we headed to Home Depot to get some samples. Afterwards, the Hubby painted the sample on to the wall in two areas, so we could make an intelligent case. Here are the colors? What are your thoughts?

Lastly, the Piggie and I got in a good four mile run this afternoon. Admittedly, neither my speed nor my endurance is where I’d like it to be heading into Thursday’s race. While I’d love to finish the corporate run (5K) below thirty minutes, I don’t think I’m there yet. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes on Friday.

The Pain

Oh the pain of a great vacation ending. Naturally, I felt this pain wholeheartedly when I returned from the Bahamas last week. It was hardest to leave the world paradise that is Atlantis. I’ve always thought the first day back at work post vacation was the hardest. After all, there’s nobody to deliver delicious strawberry daiquiris to your desk.

Today left me questioning my preconceived notion. See this vacation was a little bit different than most of our vacation. Usually we all go back to work or school at the same time or there is a protracted period before the boys return to school. This time Hubby and I went back to work last Thursday while the boys chilled at home until today.

Based on the mood of my youngest children today, I’m thinking that the first day back to school may be the hardest. They’re clearly overtired or overstimulated. I’m sure they’re equally upset that nobody’s delivering virgin daiquiris to their desks. All in all, it’s made for an interesting night and an early bed time for both of them.

Lesson learned my friends. Next time to our collective return to reality aligns like this, I’m planning a happy hour. That’s right I’ll be commiserating with my girls over work as the boys drive themselves crazy over their return to normalcy. Seems like a solid plan and I bet most happy hour places even serve delicious daiquiris.

Difficult Day

It was a difficult day.  Sadly, today marks the year anniversary of Debbie’s passing.  I’ve written before about how grief alters how we experience time.  Truly, time is on a weird continuum when you’re dealing with grief and loss.  It feels like both a day ago and a decade ago since Debbie left us.  I remember waking up the morning after she had passed and thinking how cruel it was that the world kept going as if nothing had happened.  Meanwhile, for all of us that loved Debbie and held her dear, our world was completely devastated.  I sat in my car lamenting this fact when a beautiful cardinal flew next to my car window, stayed there for a bit and then quickly flew off.  It was an amazing moment.

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Grief is an interesting animal itself.  Its sneaks up on you and catches you unexpectedly.   Today brought back a flood of memories both good and bad.  I was at work when I first heard she was going into hospice.  My amazing friends and co-workers comforted and supported me.  Moreover, I was reminded of how much we all miss her.  Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy day.

As I ruminated over my day (typical Monday) and our dear friend Debbie, I quickly realized how lucky I am to be aggravated by inane emails or missed meetings.  At the end of the day, life is a gift that some times includes more than your average dose of aggravation.  The truth is without life’s lows or aggravations we wouldn’t fully appreciate life’s highs and truly happy moments.  So today, in the face of aggravation and insipidness, I chose to live like Debbie.  In fact, I even got in a nice run tonight.  She’d definitely be quite proud of me for continuing to run and not giving it up after the ankle injury.   Life may give us lemons, but that’s nothing some ice cubes, Grey Goose and sugar can’t solve.  #carpediem

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Debbie was diagnosed in 2015 with Stage IV pancreatic cancer after ending up in an ER with severe back pain.  The 5 year survival rate for this diagnosis is 1%, which is unacceptable.  Even in the midst of her battle against this disease, Debbie stood as a beacon of hope.  In fact, she served as the key note speaker at the 2016 Purple Stride Event in Boca Raton.  In her honor, please consider donating to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  No family should have to endure the pain of losing their loved one to this insidious disease.  You can donate here: Pancreatic Action Network