As long as there’s no ice outside, we’re calling it summer. That’s what we’ve decided at my day job. And it fits, too, in a strange logical way. Although September is coming up fast, in Sweden the summer feels wonderfully long because of the amount of time everyone gets to enjoy it. Many who live here take advantage of that time. Expats return home to various countries, or perhaps visit a popular vacation spot. Swedes almost always travel to a warm sunny place. After a while, Stockholm begins to feel deserted. It’s not uncommon to walk past darkened storefronts and see the ‘summer notice’ posted on the door, and, for once, you’re able to find parking spaces.
In Sweden, as long as you’ve worked the prior year to build up your summer fund, you receive 20 paid vacation days during the summer and five extra unpaid days, should you need them. Compare that to the 10 vacation/sick days I received while working at the paper in California. I hope you also notice how I marked those days in the states as vacation and sick days. Each sick day ate into our vacation time. I’m not sure if anything has changed on that front, but most Swedes are shocked when I explain this system.
As long as the summers here normally are, ours feels like it has been extended longer than usual this year. As most of you know, our children are on the spectrum. That makes life challenging and adventurous at the same time. Our daughter had a rough time at the end of the school year last year and ended up missing school for most of the months of May and June. Which means my husband and I have been juggling days off and various doctor appointments since then. When summer officially came along, we split our vacation days. He stayed home half of the week while I worked, and then he worked while I stayed at home. As a solution, it served our needs, but it also feels like we haven’t had a long period of time where we didn’t have to think about work, or we could go on an extended trip.
We have taken advantage of the summer to do small things:
- We booked a weekend trip away at the zoo, where both kids acted like they were in heaven, especially once we bought them giant funny-shaped bottles of ice dipped in syrup (have you tasted a slushie lately? do they really need to be that sweet?).
- We pulled off a Pokemon birthday party, complete with a flying Pikachu.
- The kids spent some time at the local amusement park.
- Our daughter braved her fears to venture out for a week at camp (huge!).
- On top of all that, we’ve had ping pong games, fishing excursions and quite a few days of intense lego building.
It might not seem that intense, but this level of activity is perfect for our children, and at times, may even have been too much.
On the writing front, I’ve written the final scenes for a novella I’ve been working on since last year and subjected it through several rounds of revisions. Most of the changes are complete and it’s almost ready to go out. The current version is in the hands of reviewers. This weekend I’ll make the last round of changes to it based on their feedback. By Sunday, I hope to begin submitting it to editors. I am so excited! I’ll keep you posted on the details.
I’ve also had two poems published in the latest edition of Star*Line, “The Kingdom’s Apprentice” and “If I Ask”. The latter poem was attributed to the wrong poet, so they’ll republish it along with an erratum in the next edition.
Finally, I’ve cleaned up a few more chapters in Flameborne. I’m happy with where the story is going, but I’d love to speed up the revisions.
The kids have two more weeks before school starts up again and soon we’ll all be back on our normal routine. Our schedule is already filling up with more doctor visits, education sessions, and other meetings and we haven’t even added the parent teacher meetings or school fikas yet!
Our son doesn’t experience any major changes this year, but our daughter will enter a new phase of school — her classmates will shift around, she’ll get a new teacher (in Sweden, the kids keep the same teacher and classmates until the fourth grade), and her after-school activities will change. Those are quite a few changes for someone on the spectrum and we’re not sure how that’s going to play out, so we’ll take each day as it comes.
I’ve been thinking about the blog here and what I want to do with it. The truth is, it’s hard to say. I’d love to stick to guidelines or have a schedule with pre-planned posts — trust me, I used to get all excited when I heard the words ‘plan’ and ‘structure’. Those times are long behind me. Our days change from day to day and the one word I’ve had to embrace over the past few years is flexibility. If I think about all the expectations I need to have when our lives are in the midst of chaos most of the time, I’ll go crazy.
For now, I’ll keep the blog as it is. I’ll pop on from time to time and discuss what I’m working on, or upcoming exciting events. Maybe I’ll write about some of the author talks I hope to attend this year. Or relay my thoughts on whatever book I happen to be reading (just ordered a new shipment of books!). Maybe I’ll chat about trying to write amidst the challenges and joys of raising special needs children. I’d love to have you stick around, and I could certainly use the encouragement if you do.
Until next time.