a sneak peek

here's a little look at what's been going on in sweden lately...


I believe in you

i heard a song the other night on a christmas program that i now love: jag tror pä dig, i believe in you. i wanna share it, so here it is. enjoy! even if you don't understand the swedish, just listen.
who do you believe in?

my love, i believe in you.

christmas eve is christmas day

ready for christmas eve!!

christmas eve morning sunrise. lovely.

julbord (the christmas table is prepared!)

yummy food...meatballs, cocktail sausages, potatoes, bread, cheese, eggs, salad

Santa (Tomten) has arrived!


glögg, christmas candy, cookies...awesome fika!

merry christmas!!

merry christmas, world!

It's been a cozy Swedish Christmas so far... The big celebration is on Christmas Eve here in Sweden. Yesterday we woke up mid-morning, ate a traditional breakfast including ham, porridge, and coffee. We had candles lit, Christmas music playing, & made last minute preparations for the day. We headed out into the snow and to my love's sisters' family for the afternoon. There we ate aaaallll day (love it!), watched traditional Donald Duck cartoons. Yes, the whole population of Sweden gathers around the tv at 3 to watch Disney cartoons. We had fika & then the highlight... Santa Claus (Tomten) came bringing gifts for everyone! The kids (and me) were so excited!! More candy & food, and then more laughing, Christmas music, candles, and cozy times. We ended the day with a traditional American Christmas movie and some wine & chips. Me like! It was a fantastic day!! Today... Christmas Day!! I called my parents at 1(7am in the states). It was a little weird to wake up & not run downstairs to open gifts, but there was more to look forward to here. And it's really good to experience something new. We have had a good dinner again today, and are soon gonna watch a movie. It's snowing, candles are lit, & music is playing. Another cozy Swedish day. Pictures to come later! Merry Christmas to you all!! Love from Liz & Lina.

a snowy swedish christmas

as promised, here are some pictures of what's going here in sweden as we prepare for christmas (better late than never. hehe.)

i am so happy and excited to be here! it is amazing to experience christmas in another culture where many things are the same (but with a swedish twist) and a few things are different. the most wonderful thing is to be able to spend christmas with the one you love.

here we go...

the tram stop...it's how we get downtown. icy and snowy.

a beautiful winter scene downtown.

a church downtown...we went to a christmas concert there monday evening.

typical swedish window candles. you can see them in windows all over the city. beautiful!

the view from the window at home. love it!

the christmas tree lot around the corner. that's our tree being baled!

a cozy dinner with my love.

almost done decorating!

i can hardly believe the life that i have and how much love i feel. my friends, soak in every moment. enjoy every second that takes your breath away. remember to be true to yourself and to give love...give generously, and what you will receive back is immeasurable!


home for christmas

i'm listening to amy grant's home for christmas album right now...one of my favorites. and i am enjoying the beginning of my christmas in sweden! yes, i am away from nc and my family there, but this year it's our turn to be in sweden. back to nc next year. anyway, here's an update on my adventure getting here...

it began thursday morning with the threat of a snow and ice storm in nc. i went to work, kept checking the weather forecast, and decided i needed to leave early. so, i booked a flight out of charlotte on thursday (my original plan was to leave friday). i ran home and packed like a crazy person, and headed off to charlotte. i must have snatched up the very last seat on the flight to newark, new jersey, because i was in the middle on the back row, and the plan was completely full! i wondered if we would make it, because i worry waaaay too much on flights, but the woman (who turned out to be a man) sitting beside me with her hood up had her ipod playing the whole time we took off - and you are not supposed to do that! thankfully, i landed safely and headed off to my hotel at the airport to rest...yeah right...too excited!

my almost-24-hour stay in nj was quite pleasant. i had my own, private driver to my hotel, a fantastic room, and time to relax! i slept in friday morning, checked my bag in on friday afternoon, and then hung out for some hours in the airport. everywhere i went, there were cheerful, pleasant, friendly people. not the cold, unfriendly, holiday-crazed people you always hear about. maybe i was just lucky.

i boarded the plane at 5, and sat there for 2 and a half hours before we took off!!! yep. 2 and a half hours. there was a "mechanical problem"...WHAT?!?! i was an emotional wreck. after finally leaving nj, the flight was pretty uneventful (whew) and i think i even slept a little. however, arriving one and a half hours late, was not exactly what i'd hoped for. but, arriving safely was definitely a good thing.

i LOVE airport reunions!!! after our traditional hello rituals, my love and i hopped on a train to stockholm central, and then on to the bus to norrköping. it was snowing and a winter wonderland all around. yay! i took a shower, ate some chinese for dinner, and then rested. it was a quiet, cozy night and so good to be with my love again!

today we were up early and headed to church. lina was singing in a choir (and singing solo too. yes, i am proud!) we came back home and had fika with more friends and family. now, it's wrapping gifts (lina's doing it. hehe. i'm writing this) and christmas music time. later on we're planning to watch a movie. cozy, cozy, cozy!

i know i don't have any pictures to show you now. i will have some tomorrow! so many things to show you americans...swedish traditions and celebrations. we have a full list of things to do, so there will be many opportunities for picture-taking!

until then...peace to you all.

my new "home"

here's a little look at the room i will call "home" for the next 6 months. i have tried to make it as cozy as possible. and it feels good to have things from our asheville home all around me... just missing my love.

monday monday

i don't usually like mondays, but when i am obsessed with getting to friday/saturday, monday becomes my friend!
here's how monday has treated me so far:

a surprise phone call on my  way to school
a classroom full of pleasant, calm students
a chance to watch some "romeo and juliet"
an unexpected meeting (started out not so good, but ended up being like a pat on the back)
60 degree F, sunny weather!
webcam time! (my favorite part of the day)
up next: dinner, movie, packing list...

i wonder if my attitude/mood has anything to do with feeling like i've had a good day... hmm... maybe our attitudes really do make a difference.

one track mind

i've got only one thing on my mind... friday! friday! friday! that's when i leave for sweden to see my love and celebrate the holidays for a few weeks and i can't wait!! the only thing standing in my way is a 4-day work week. it'll probably go pretty fast, so much to do this week! can't wait! can't wait! can't wait! (if you haven't noticed...i'm a little excited!). i've got a one track mind.

a few pics

cozy fire...
zola exploring a crazy, singing christmas dog...
putting on the final touches on the hippie christmas tree (i call it that because the lights are so crazy bright! hihi.)

hanukkah & advent

well, it was a crappy, crappy week at school. the kids are going freakin' crazy... which leads the teachers to be crazy too. not fun to be around anyone. meetings, meetings, meetings, tests, and more tests, and more hoops to jump through because the education system in the states in far from perfect! and, i'm about to jump out of my skin waiting for my plane to take off on the 18...

but, today was saturday. yay. a day to breathe... i thought.

i took a student to a jewish synagogue (i am his mentor for his high school graduation project - he is comparing religions, and basically coming to the conclusion that there is not that big of a difference in what we all believe. if only more people could realize/learn that.) the service lasted 3 hours because it was the first day of hanukkah. we sang psalms in hebrew (ok i followed along), listened to scripture sung in hebrew (this time i read the english), and heard a sermon reminding us that when we feel success, to not let it go to our heads. perhaps part of the human problem is our desire to be successful, and then to use that power for selfish reasons, instead of ones that lead to peace, justice, and equality. today i worshipped the God of the old testament (the same one Christians worship) - who reminds us that there will be a day when all tears a dried, peace rules the land, and each person feels love, lives in justice, and has hope. so, like the jews waiting for their messiah to usher in this time of peace, we christians, spend the advent season waiting for exactly the same things. yes, during advent, i celebrated hanukkah and it fit perfectly with advent. it was amazing.

christmas concert
this afternoon, i attended the 3rd of 3 concerts at lake junaluska. the music was so good, i am sure i annoyed the poor lady in front of me who had to hear me sing along with the choir. hehe. oops.

phone calls & webcams
i had multiple opportunities to talk with my love today. i love that so much!! we're gonna be together next weekend! can't stop thinking of that.

smoke smoke smoke
earlier this evening, i was upstairs and i smelled some smoke. i went down to check it out, and what i found was terrifying! smoke had filled the whole downstairs and was on it's way upstairs. i ran around trying to close the wood stove and stop the smoke from pouring out of it. i grabbed pillows and waved them all through the air. i opened every window and door. zola was hiding under the bed. it was crazy!  but, i managed to get the smoke out after about 45 minutes. still, it was some scary moments.

think i'll head to bed now. gonna enjoy some calm, quiet moments before i get all snuggly under our cozy covers. good night. peace.

second week in advent

what is the longing of every one's heart? what is it we truly want? fame? wealth? security? happiness? peace? maybe deep inside we all really want to be free. but i cannot talk about freedom without mentioning love because i believe they go hand in hand. we want to be free. free to just be ourselves. free to be loved and to love...and when we do, when we truly feel love, then we are set free. i'm not talking about freedom to do whatever we want. that's surface freedom. sure, it's nice, but it gets old. the kind of freedom i'm talkin' about is the kind that has us twirling with our arms in the air, face to the sun and not caring what anyone thinks. it's the kind of freedom that doesn't mean that we are worry-free, but that even with all of our worries and fears, we can feel life, real life (and real love) burning and growing inside us. the love that sets us free teaches us to live with hope.. before we realize it, when we feel that amazing love, and we live life with the freedom to simply to be ourselves, then begin to believe that hope is alive. tonight i have been thinking about the love that i have in my life these days, and how that love has changed me and given me an amazing gift of freedom, the freedom to have the courage to just be me. perhaps if we lived with a little more love in our lives, we would promote the possibility of freedom for others, giving hope to all, and working toward peace. but, it all begins with love. love is there for everyone, and needed by everyone. my love is gonna sing for the third sunday in advent next week. she is dedicating one of the songs to the women she works with at a treatment center for addicts of drugs and alcohol. these women have had tough, difficult lives, but they are working to get back the lives that they almost lost. what all of them really want is to simply be loved and to be set free. so, my love is gonna sing for them. maybe we can't all sing, but we can all love someone who needs it. love. peace. freedom.

a snowy december day

here's what's going on today:
snowy, windy, and cold outside
christmas market downstairs in the apartment lobby
upstairs, i am packing away...
while zola sleeps.
happy second weekend in advent!!

2 december

my advent calendar
(24 days of symbols and a tiny piece of chocolate! yummy.)
and a classic christmas tv show...rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (link) that i'm watching tonight. love it.
  • had starbucks this morning (shhh...some people i care about can't get starbucks at all right now)
  • talked to my love (early) this morning and later this afternoon. (we could talk forever & never get bored. love that.)
  • celebrated that a large number of my students brought their grades up on their report card. i am so proud!
  • had a meeting on one of my kids who is in and out of jail. we are actually planning to take away some of his restrictions because his behavior is improving in some ways...yay!
  • seriously need to get some boxes tomorrow and start packing!
  • going to bed early (after rudolph, of course)
peace. g'night.

i'm back for advent!

yes, i've been gone from here for a month. needed a break, i think, to adjust to living on my own again. how did i do? well, it is not possible to adjust to living on your own when the one who is your home is not with you. i'm ok, though. making it through the days, living as best i can without my love right beside me. but, i can never really be used to living alone again. we may be separated by miles for a while, but she is always with me.
my november days were spent working, enjoying the thanksgiving holiday with my american family at the beach, and making plans for december. things are gonna be changing for me in the next month...
  • moving out of our apartment this weekend (lease is up)
  • moving back to lake junaluska (gonna save some money...big time. me like.)
  • gonna have a long commute to school/work every morning & afternoon again. gaaah.
  • headed to sweden in 17 days for a 2 week, very special, amazingly cozy holiday!! my heart is bursting!
  • all of this is because i am beginning a wonderful, new part of my life!
  • but...still teaching at t.c. roberson in asheville

i love this time of year. we know something is coming... we're full of anticipation, traditions both new and old, cozy nights, christmas lights everywhere, a feeling of hope and excitement. during advent we impatiently wait for the coming of christmas. we spend our time in the long, dark, winter nights longing for the bright hope that comes with the christmas season. there is a feeling that something big is gonna happen. we wait with hope. and somehow, during this time of year, even in the middle of all of the dark, we believe a little bit more that anything is possible, that we are not alone, that love really does win.

so, this advent, this countdown to christmas, i am gonna wait, anticipate, and celebrate with images. i'm not promising perfection (meaning i cannot promise to post something every day), but i want to share my advent through images in my life. images of hope, light, joy, peace, love. i want to capture and share the things i believe are possible...as we wait together.

tonight, i lit this candle in my window as a symbol of hope. even on the darkest, loneliest, hopeless nights one candle burns bright enough to offer a glimmer of light. the dark is never the end. there is always light, hope, love. always.

welcome, advent!