Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

This is it, time to turn another page. A brand new year is in front of us, full of new, exciting adventures! It feels good..!
Catch you on the flip side!

Happy New Year everybody!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

MIssion impossible

Today I went about to do some last-minute shopping around town before our NY-party tomorrow, and ended up driving from place to place for over four hours without finding much of what I needed!
It seems like New Years is kind of a non-event here. I couldn't get any fireworks, no streamers, no funny hats - all I got was some very annoying horns, so at least we can make some noise with them at midnight!

Bugger. Next year we will have to plan in advance, and stock up on fireworks when they sell them at Raya I guess!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The 2009 Chronicles

January: We kicked this year off with some visitors from Sweden, the Wellanders; with them we went to the Temburong National Park for the first time. Lucas turned 5, and we got two puppies. We celebrated the Year of the Ox and the Chinese New Year both in school and at the Kids Hash. There was big floodings and strange weather, and Linnea quit her dummies.

February: We had another visitor from Sweden, Erika; she came along to Linnea's school trip to the HM Sultan's Flight's hangar. The Dam family from Hong Kong also came to see us, and I went to the stadium to celebrate Brunei's 25th National Day.

March: In March they had Arts Week at school and we went on a short trip to Hong Kong to participate in Brett & Dordor's wedding. We also got visitors from Denmark, Uncle Thomas and family. Lucas got a new shelf for all his Lego and I took a Japanese cooking class. March was also the month of the Indiana Jones Hash and the St Patricks Hash, and we took the family to Singapore Zoo.

April: We went on our first Away-day-at-the-Spit and Lucas had a school excursion to the fish market. We celebrated Easter, and lost a friend in an unnecessary accident. Linnea and I went to KL for a few days and the kids had Book Week at school.

May: In May they had Athletics Day at school, and we spent a few days in Thailand with the Dehlis, at lovely Koh Samet. The kids' cousins and family came to stay on their way to Scotland and we got a new neighbour, Oliver Rose.

June: June brought on endless parties: numerous birthday parties, the big royal birthday party at the polo field and the 007 Summer Ball. I also got a new camera and Anna and I celebrated Swedish Midsummer in Singapore. Linnea went on a school trip to the fire station and we went to see the kids perform in their end of year Celebration Evening at school. Nathan also took part in his first bike race.

July: In July the quick spread of the H1N1 flu here in Brunei made us a bit nervous, and school was closed for a week. The kids finished Nursery and Reception, and we left for Sweden. The weather wasn't very good in Sweden, but I still managed to start jogging and the kids did their usual stuff with Mormor and Morfar. Daddy turned up, and we went to Denmark - Copenhagen, Legoland & Kolding was on the schedule.

August: Vacation continued with stops in Bildø and Odsherred before we went on to Sweden, and more visits of friends in Helsingborg, Vinslöv & Nyköping. We saw a Viking ship and had a crayfish party. Back in Brunei school started again and this blog turned two!

September: In September Linnea turned into a pretty ballerina, Lucas became a footballer and I got my handle at the hash and passed my first 50 runs. We celebrated Nathan's birthday with a curry night, and went to a few open houses for Hari Raya. We got a trampoline and discovered Linnea could write her name.

October: This month Lucas lost both his front teeth and his hair (...), Linnea turned 4 and got celebrated with a big birthday bash at home. We had our first big snake (a python) in the garden and the kids and I went to Miri for a few days. Nathan bought a fogger and both kids and adults celebrated Halloween.

November: Anna and I went to Singapore for the day, to stock up for Christmas. I took up squash again and we celebrated Bonfire Night at the beach and International Day at school. We had a cobra in the garden and I got the "Most hashits of the year"-award at our Hash Founders Day. We went to New Zealand and Nathan did great in the Lake Taupo race.

December: We started the month still in New Zealand, getting colder and colder. Only had 3 days back at school before Christmas holidays. Spent the holidays with cinema visits, Jungle Gym, kids hash and playdates. Lucas learned to bike; and we geared up to Christmas with baking, decorating and watching Swedish lucia over the internet. We had a lovely Christmas and met Santa a few times.

Now we are looking forward to another fun and exciting year -
bring on 2010!

2009 in 100 photos

Monday, 28 December 2009

The human bicycle chain

Yesterday morning Nathan and his buddies took part in yet another bike race. This one was a local 50k ride, in support of HIV awareness.
According to the Borneo Bulletin, around 180 cyclists completed the ride, and the objective was "to promote a healthier lifestyle and give the public a chance to appreciate riding as a sport".
Out of the four boys, three of them were also lucky to win prizes in the lucky draw; Jeremy and Matt both won a mountain bike each and Nathan won a cash voucher! Joppie!

Here is the front page of the newspaper this morning, with a huge picture of the first "human and bicycle chain"-red ribbon (the boys are in white shirts in the upper left corner):

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The finished result

Finally I have the books in my hands that I spent many late evenings working on this fall - my blog in published form. I had two books made, the first year and second year separately. They turned out great!
Yes, it was rather time consuming, but that's because I'm such a perfectionist when it comes to layouts, designs and the written word etc.

Here are a few spreads from them, I'm very pleased:

You could also do photos as full-bleed all over the page:

Another couple of different layouts:

The first page:

The front:

Post-Christmas thoughts

Christmas is now over for this year, and I'm already looking at my tree pondering when I'll pack it down..! It'll be before New Years, that's for sure! (I definitely don't do this Swedish tradition with keeping it until twenty days after Christmas, oh no!)

Although I am a self-confessed Christmas nutter, I am very happy now it's all over for this year. I like routine, and I'm already looking forward to next week when school will start again and everything will go back to "normal".

So, how was our Christmas this year?
Well, as I wrote in previous posts, we have had a lovely Christmas down here in the tropics, this year too. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were celebrated amongst friends, with all the festive food and decorations you could wish for - and lots of presents not to forget!

But, I still had my moments when I felt a bit down during these past few days. Mostly because it didn't seem like the kids could feel the magic, and they didn't seem to appreciate Christmas in that "it's such a special day"-way I so would like them to.
F.e, after Lucas opened his presents one of the days, he just left them on the floor, threw himself on the sofa and asked to watch Cartoon Network, like it was just any other day. Both the kids threw tantrums and were moody at times, and I was just not having it, not on Christmas!
One of my friends reminded me that it's all so different now to when we were kids. We didn't have 24 hr children's TV and we only saw cartoons at the cinema so "Kalle Anka's Julafton" was really special! You couldn't get mandarins f.e, and many other foods all year around, so the Christmas food felt very seasonal and special too. Plus, the kids are probably more spoiled now, so Christmas presents are not that special anymore either...

I don't know. I just want to infuse this magical feeling into them, and I feel I failed. I'm sure they've had a lovely Christmas time, and I can only keep doing all that I'm doing around Christmas, keep creating beautiful memories for them and enforce our traditions. Maybe when they grow slightly older, they will appreciate my efforts a bit more...

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Christmas Lunch

This was our third Christmas in Brunei. Two years ago we did the Yacht Club on Christmas Day and last year the Empire. This year, we decided to do a "homely" Christmas Lunch and I must say, we couldn't have had a better Christmas Day!
We had lovely company, the Saaps, Roses and McLeans; we had absolutely amazing food - turkey, ham, pork and lamb with all the trimmings, roasted and steamed veggies galore, Christmas pudding with brandy custard, pavlova, chocolate cake, Ferrero Rochers in hundreds and other home made goodies, and... lots of tasty sparkling wine! We had such a good time, the day was fantastic!
Thank you guys!

Christmas Day

We were all slightly tired waking up on Christmas Day, Mummy and Daddy mostly thanks to the Morris' traditional Christmas Eve bash (although this year we were sensible and got home before midnight even!); but also the kids after all the Christmas Eve excitement. But once awake, the kids had only one thing on their mind: more presents!
Santa (the real one!) had been, drunk his beer and eaten his cookies. Linnea was slightly disappointed that the reindeers hadn't eaten her reindeer food (*note to self: brush it away next year!!*), but quickly forgot about it when she saw all the presents under the tree.

The kids got so many lovely gifts. There has been packages arriving both from the family in Sweden and in Scotland, and we also had the gifts from the family in NZ hidden away in our cupboard since we were down there. So the children really got so spoiled!

Santa's visit Xmas 2009

After we came back home from the Christmas lunch on Christmas Eve, it was time for Santa to visit - as tradition is in Sweden. We had managed to borrow a Santa suit, but it had no proper mask unfortunately, so poor Matt (who we'd asked to do us the favour) got busted the minute he walked through the door! :)

It was rather funny though, because although Linnea could see that it was Matt, she wasn't 100% convinced. She seemed to think she'd better play along when he asked her to sit on Santa's lap, and ended up having a bit of a chat. To Lucas, it didn't matter either that it was Matt, because as he said: he knows people dress up as Santa to help him, cause he is sooo busy - and he knew that the real Santa would come back in the night anyway!
Well, Mummy got some nice photos at least!


On the 24th, which is the big day for us Scandinavians, we celebrated at the Scott's house with a traditional Swedish Christmas lunch. Anna had done most of the cooking, but I contributed with a Janssons (potatoe dish), the meatballs, lingonsylt (=lingonberry jam) and rödbetssallad (=beetroot salad). We also had herring, ham, salmon, mushroom omelette and other things. Mmm!

The Scott kids had presents for all the children and had also organized a bunch of games for them to play, so they were well entertained all afternoon. Anna gave all the adults gifts too! A very nice Christmas Eve celebration!

Our Christmas 2009

The Christmas photos will have to come on here little by little, there are hundreds and I will try and choose only the best ones.
We've had a superb Christmas this year! We've been so spoiled with great company, amazing food and lovely gifts too!

I'm starting with a little slide show from the Swedish Christmas, Christmas Eve, in the morning. The kids opened their last present on their Advent calendars, and it was a treasure hunt. So off they went through the whole house, following clues - taking them up and down the stairs several times until they found a little present each in their stocking.
Lucas got a Transformer, and Linnea a Snow White-doll.

More photos to follow later!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Naughty or nice?

The kids were playing whoopty-doo while we were out and about yesterday doing the last errands before Christmas, so we felt it necessary to call Santa on the phone and tell him about the naughty kids:

At least one of them showed a little bit of remorse... or was it the fear of no presents that provoked the tears..?

On the radio

You can listen to the radio show now here. Click under DENNA VECKA on the black symbol next to onsdag. (If you are reading this in the week 28th December to 3rd January, click under FÖRRA VECKAN, and after that it's not online anymore). My interview is a little over halfway into the program, and rather long.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Dan före dan

(=the day before the day)
Today is the day before it all breaks loose! Kids are very excited, they only have one more present to open on their calendars, so they know tomorrow it's Christmas!

So, I will leave you all my readers with this little Christmas greeting, hoping that your Christmas is magical and exciting too!

A very Merry Christmas to all!
Riktigt God Jul till alla!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cool connections

Tonight I'm going to take part in a Swedish-Danish radio show, in Spain! How? And why - you might wonder.

Well, I know this girl Anna from an internet forum I've been taking part in for the last six years. It's a forum for Swedish mums living abroad, I've written about it before here for example. Anna lives on Costa del Sol in Spain and I've actually met her and her son in person, very briefly nearly four years ago when we were in Malaga on holiday. You can read a recent interview with her here!

She works as a radio journalist at this Scandinavian radio station they have down there; and when she had an idea of a different angle of what an expat Christmas could be - she contacted me!
So tonight at 6 pm she will Skype me, and we will have a little chat about how I celebrate Christmas here in Brunei, how I continue my traditions with my children, how I've adapted to all the different influences and different Christmases and other things. It's going to be really fun!

She has sent me the questions in advance, for me to prepare a little bit (so I don't ramble too much!) - and we are not live on air. The show will be transmitted on Wednesday 3-4 pm Swedish/Danish/Spanish time, from this radio station.
(After a few days, you will also be able to listen to the show on the web page for two weeks after it's been sent.)

I just love cool connections like this!
And - be sure to tune in to hear my first radio apperance!

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Linnea and I spend the morning doing some more Christmas baking today. Time for lussebullar (=saffron buns)! We made some in the traditional s-shape, and some filled with white chocolate - mmm!

I totally had enough of our gas oven the other day and went out and bought a new electrical table top oven. Such a difference! I can now bake, and trust the temperature is what I set it to be; trust that the time in the recipes will be enough and not burn everything from the bottom!
Baking has become fun again!

Here I am (and you can see the new oven!), slightly blurry but that's down to the not so experienced photographer! :)

The mamarazzi and the babyrazzi

Kids Christmas hash

Today it was time for the monthly kids hash, and just like last year, it was at one of the Chinese families' house. It was a nice, easy little "run" through the jungle and afterward the kids could swim in the pool; although I had forgotten our swimmers since we ran a bit late getting there so my two couldn't go swimming.

Santa also made an appearance, just like last year. Although both Lucas and Linnea do believe in Santa, they do know the difference between the pretend Santas they keep meeting, and the real one. This one definitely was a pretend one, he looked a bit weird!

But - he came bearing gifts, so all good!

Happy Birthday Gemma!

Today's Gemma's 4th birthday - hourray, hourray, hourray!

Nordic Christmas party

Our Danish friends the Dehlis arranged a traditional 'Julefrokost' (=Christmas dinner) at their house this year, and Anna and I contributed with some Swedish Christmas food. So we called it a Nordic Christmas party!

There was so much yummy food, I really enjoyed every bit of it! Mmmmmm! We had flaeskesteg, köttbullar, Janssons Frestelse, brune kartofler, rödkål, rågbröd, sill and much more. So delicious!

Even the snaps seemed to be popular!

It was a really nice evening, and now it feels like Christmas!

A fun afternoon

This week started pretty slowly, with the thought of "three whole weeks left of the holidays...". It seemed like a very long time, considering many are away for this long break, everything slows down here and in all honesty - there is not that much to do here.
But as the week went on, we all really got into holiday mode and started to appreciate having easy days, enjoying the sleep-ins and not being bound by pick-up times or homework or other obligations. We've had quite a few playdates this week, the kids have been to the movies to see "The Princess and the frog", we've done some baking and just hung out and taken it easy.
Now it rather feels "Wow, only two weeks left now"!

Yesterday afternoon was spent at the Yacht Club, at the lovely birthday party for our little friend Gemma, who turned four. Her parents had arranged lots of games and fun things, so the kids had a ball!

Games on the beach:


Linnea, Daniel & Ben:

Linnea swimming with Prince Wakeel and Princess Ameerah:

Playing with the parachute:

This is what happens when you shout "Cake time":

Birthday girl getting a hand cutting the cake:

Cake time: