Journey of a lifetime! We are So happy to be here, exploring, relaxing and visiting with family!

Seems we have done a lot but yet had some relaxing, lazy days in between. "Going home" is a wonderful thing and being able to show the children where I grew up is very special. After 18 years abroad I realize how lucky I was to grow up in the Karlstad area, seeing things from a different angle now and how I took things for granted when living here. That is always the case, not realizing how special things are around you when living with it daily.

I am certainly a lucky girl to be able to call two of the best countries in the world "HOME"!

Enjoy our ride...

First off.... Taking off!

We have arrived safe and sound, after a long over night flight and three flights later!

The jet-lag was a bit tricky due to the 6 hour time difference. We are still catching up on sleep and are forcing ourselves to get up early in the morning in order to fall asleep at night....

Tuesday June 6 was Swedes national day and the weather was beautiful! We took advantage of the day and headed downtown to a couple at beautiful spots with parks. It was a great day for the kids, but unfortunately my uncle passed away on this day. He was a wonderful man and will be deeply missed my so many.

Sweden is almost 500 years old (compare that to Canada's 150!). The date, June 6, came about 1523 when "Gustaf Eriksson Vasa" was elected King after breaking the union with Norway and Denmark.

Karlstad, the city we're in is turning 450 in 2034. "King Karl the IX" (9th) was the founder of Karlstad. The name means "Karl's City".

On Thursday (June 8) we visited an elementary school for three hours. It was fun to see the differences between schools here and in Canada. First we got to help the students in a grade 5 class (which would be grade 6 in Canada as they start grade 1 at age 7 here) with an English project that they were working in in groups. Then we got a tour of the school, the library, the gym, the "shop glass (woodworking, sewing and cooking/home knowledge glasses are mandatory here in certain grades, my husband say "thus explains a lot"....), the dining hall (yes! the student don't have to bring a lunch to school here, they get fed home-cooked, hot meals everyday and we got to eat with them!). After lunch we headed out for recess, played hide and seek, soccer and four-square (which is called "King" here). After recess it was time for us to present our slideshow about Canada, Ottawa and St. Luke. It took us about 20 minutes to present it, following some questions from the students. We did it twice, for both grade 5 classes. Then the school day was over, at 2:00. Their days are shorter but not always the same everyday. The start time in the morning is always the same, but the end-time is different everyday. Some days they and at 2:00, some at 3:30, etc.

We are enjoying family time, great food - meatballs of course, and are obviously driving a Volvo :)

End of school and graduation was on June 15 and 16. We went to my cousin's children's year end celebration. They don't actually have school on the last day of school. They dress up in nice summer clothes, sing songs for the parents/relatives and then usually have a picnic, or similar, with family afterwards to kick off the summer break!

Graduating high school students exit their schools and are greeted by family who have made a fun sign, with a photo of their child at a younger age, and gives them flowers. Then they get on a decorated float that is driven around town for an hour or so. It is a lot of fun, they sing songs and cheer. They all wear white "sailer looking hats".