Local Explorations – June Edition

This space has been a little lonely and neglected lately. It seems that the seasons when I have the most to write about are the same seasons when I find very little time and energy to actually sit down and write. There’s a very simple explanation for this. We are out and about, exploring, learning and trying to live in the moment. The days get long, we’re out after bedtime night after night (I’m not sure why we even call it bedtime anymore since they haven’t been anywhere near their beds at ‘bedtime’ in recent weeks) and then by the time we’ve settled in for the evening, I’m tired. Curling up with a book, or popping in a DVD together seems to win every time over pulling out my computer, reflecting on life and sharing it with the world (or the very small part of the world that reads this blog).

But I do believe that taking the time to reflect is an important part of living intentionally and I’m trying to get better. So here I am.

Recently I posted about our plans to stick closer to home this summer and how we intend to explore and learn in our own backyard, even if we’re not flying off to new and exciting destinations right now. If you missed it you can read it here. I thought I’d post a little update on how that’s been going.

First of all, summer is late to arrive to northern Sweden. Even later than usual, actually. I’m trying hard not to be bitter about it, but you’ll notice jackets, hats and gloves in many of the pictures. No, I’m not cheating and using events from March or April. So far, we’re pretending that it’s warm, acting accordingly, but then dressing for the weather as it actually is.

Farfar’s Potato Patch

Early in June, we stopped by Farfar’s house on the day he was planting his potato field. The kids got to see how potatoes are planted and helped set a row or two each. Since he rotates his fields, there was a nice fallow field to play in when planting potatoes started to seem less like a game and more like work.

digging in dirt

Last Day of Preschool

Emelie’s early weeks of June were filled with extra special activities at preschool because she is turning 6 and “graduating”. (They don’t call it that here, by the way, and I’m extremely grateful for that! Lots of fun ways to recognize and celebrate the kids, but without the pomp and circumstance. Thumbs up!)

None of this counts as exploring locally as a family, but it is a milestone for our girl and we’re so proud of her. Next year, she’ll be homeschooled full-time, so it’s kind of a milestone for me too.

last day of preschool

Obligatory last day of preschool picture… the “normal pose” version. 

Sagofesten! (Story Festival)

Every year, the library and other local organizations sponsor a Story Festival day. They choose a specific book as the theme for the day, and then plan diverse and abundant activities for kids around the theme. There is always drama, singing, dancing, characters in costumes, art, crafts, and tons of other things to see and do. We love it. It’s about 4 hours long and we’ve never managed to see and do everything. And it’s all free. My favorite admission price.

car painting
Hands-down Peter’s favorite part of the day. They actually had an old junk car (without seats or interior) that the kids could paint and put stickers on. First, Peter was very upset when he saw kids painting the car. “Look what they’re doing, Mamma!” Then he found out it was allowed and he was REALLY into it!

sagofesten art

One of many arts and crafts activities… the illustrator of the book was there to help the kids make lift-the-flap paintings of their very own. Emelie’s picture is titled “Germs and a Bureau.” Lifting the flaps that she cut into her germs showed what’s inside them that makes us sick. 

sagofesten art 2

Sadly I forget what Peter’s painting was about, but he really loved making the little windows in the paper too. 

Joypeak Festival

Another free event, this time planned and organized by a group of local churches, which I guess fits because I’m pretty sure this was my kids’ definition of heaven. Every kind of bouncy-house, inflatable obstacle course or giant inflatable slide was available in the same place. I’ve never seen so many in one place before. They were also pony cart rides, face painting, hair braiding, and live music. The police, ambulance and fire department were also there, so they got to pretend to drive the different vehicles, climb around inside, explore and ask questions. There were tons of people and a lot of lines, and it occasionally rained on us, but it was still an amazing day.

inflatable obstacles

One of many inflatable obstacle courses. Emelie was just barely tall enough to try this one, and though she didn’t make it all the way without falling down, I loved how brave she was to try!

pony cartGiddyup Pony! So much fun!

Emelie firetruck
Driving the fire truck, complete with butterfly face paint!

Peter firetruck
What a handsome little fireman! 

Barefoot ambulance driver

Midsommar Holiday and Chicken Pox

It seemed June was a month of festivals. So when Midsommar rolled around, the idea of fighting crowds to dance around the midsommar pole made us feel more tired than excited. We opted out of most of the traditional celebrations and instead took a long walk. We walked to the place where the crowds and the dancing had been and sat and ate a picnic lunch there. It was still crowded, and we still got to see a lot of people and be a part of the community aspect of it, but we didn’t stress to get there at the same time as everyone else and it was nice to just take it easy and be relaxed on a major holiday like this. In fact, I was so relaxed that I didn’t even remember to take any pictures that day.

That night, we discovered chicken pox on both kids as we changed them into pajamas. So the rest of the weekend was slightly less social and a lot more itchy than we’d anticipated. It was rough on them in a lot of ways, but they were saddest about missing a train ride that had been planned for after church on Sunday. Thankfully, we could pull some strings and we got to take an extra ride by ourselves after everyone else was finished.

midsommar train
Chicken pox definitely itch less when you’re having fun!

In General…

After Emelie’s last day at preschool, we moved our family into the camper again for the summer. We have it parked at a (former and soon to be again) campground on the grounds of our church, so Staffan has a pretty reasonable commute to work these days. It’s nice that he can come out and eat lunch with us, we can surprise interrupt him with an ice cream break, and it frees me up to be able to volunteer more than I would otherwise be able to do. There’s a good playground here, a swimming pond just down the road, and plenty of woods and fields all around. Hopefully soon there will be good enough weather that we can better take advantage of that. But being near the church also gives us somewhere to come inside when all the bad weather starts to make the camper feel a little too small.

We spent all of last summer in the camper too, but then we were traveling most of the time and usually moved every few days. Staying in one place this much is new for us and it’s taking some getting used to. We have different routines and things to think about. It’s not as much vacation as everyday life in our hometown, just not in our apartment. It’s a new experience offering us plenty of chances to learn.

Otherwise, we’re taking advantage of the library and enjoying some great books, visiting with friends and family, and learning a lot from the natural world all around us. We still want to travel the world and see fascinating, exotic places, but it also feels good to find the simple pleasures in our own backyard.

Anyone else exploring locally this summer? How is it going so far?

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