Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why is Nespresso conquering Sweden?

So last weekend we set out to buy a new coffeemaker and every store we went to we were attacked by Nespresso salespeople (and a bunch of other capsule coffee competitors) as soon as we walked through the door. Sure I never say no to free coffee (yes, even during pregnancy), and I appreciated the nice round flavor of the coffee --- but no way am I going to invest in this system for my kitchen and I am kind of shocked at the pace that Nespresso and capsule coffee has conquered the Swedish population.

Why I am surprised:

1) Environmentally unfriendly – I know there is a recycling program for the tiny capsules – I think I took home 8 different coffee pamphlets this weekend – but still, it seems awfully wasteful to use one plastic capsule EVERY time you want a cup of coffee, especially when there is a much more environmentally friendly alternative.

2) It isn’t Swedish mud coffee – It took me 5 years to build up a gut that could tolerate Swedish coffee. OK, so I am used to guzzling down American diner style coffee by the pitcher, and yes, that stuff is like making love in a canoe – but still Swedish coffee is pretty hardcore. I need at least one meal in my stomach before I can digest it without it ripping holes in my stomach. I thought this was a Swedish point of pride. I thought the idea was that you could feel the coffee grinds between your teeth. But Nespresso? It is so smooth, so easy to drink down. Was this what the Swedish people were really longing for all these years?

3) Swedes don’t drink a lot of expensive coffee – Unlike the US where people walk down the street with a 5 dollar Starbucks drink in their hands every chance they get, Swedish latte culture has been much more about socializing than being on the go with your coffee. It’s not like Swedes are saving money and not buying 3 lattes at Starbucks a day and instead having Nespresso. They are doing this instead of having cheap coffee from the pot.

I guess the only things I can think of that make Nespresso so desirable is that the coffeemakers are pretty cool looking, and you can get a pretty nice cup of coffee without a lot of work.

That said, as you can see, we did not get one. We got a nice, old fashioned coffeemaker so that we can brew our rather fancy coffee beans (when we actually have time to get to the fancy coffee store) that we grind ourselves at home. Because one of the things that creeps me out about Nespresso is that annoying little factoid I once read that we consume the most bugs in our diet through our coffee, and because I often wonder way too much about just what is in those damn capsules.

But if my business grows enough to get a little office where I occasionally meet clients, maybe I will reconsider. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Swedes make some big babies

Now I have not had a baby in the US, but wow, they make some big babies in Sweden. And The Swede and I happen to have small babies. And this is an anomaly for the Swedish health care system.

Pregnancy in Sweden is generally a very, very hands off affair. You see your midwife once for the first trimester, not at all in the 2nd trimester, and about every other week until you are 40 weeks pregnant (of course this can vary depending on your age and where you live, and does not include ultrasound visits which are extra).

Pregnancy is treated as a healthy state of being, rather than an illness, as long as you fit within a certain category. And then, well, they go from being hands-off to being all hands on deck.

With my first pregnancy, this scared the crap out of me. Since I apparently don’t have big babies, I ended up in a high-risk category that went from ‘Hey, see you in a couple of weeks to measure the size of your belly’ to ‘see you twice a week to run a variety of ultrasounds and non-stress tests.’ This was pretty scary considering no one ever found anything actually wrong with my pregnancy.

And what is even worse, the Swedes don’t seem to go by the general 5.5 lb border for being a healthy weight baby – they go by 6 lbs. And if your baby is not over 6lbs they want to keep you in the hospital for awhile to monitor everything.

With Little Swede they weighed him right away because, as the midwife said at the time, she was afraid if he went to the bathroom he would fall below the limit. And given the amount of testing we had done in utero, there was really no reason to keep us any longer for observation in a special ward. We made it, by a few oz. Yay!!

This time around, we’ve been to one growth ultrasound so far, and guess what, small baby again. Not in the high-risk group yet, but in the ‘let’s monitor this more closely’ group that we ended up in at the beginning of this nonsense last time around.

I’m trying not to get worked up about this, and just accept the fact that I have small babies. But it is a little scary when a country that is known for few medical interventions, suddenly wants a lot of medical intervention.

But I think everything will be OK. In the newspaper in The Swede’s hometown, when we announced Little Swede’s birth, there was Little Swede and then two babies who were over 10.5 lbs. So I guess I am very grateful I have little babies and not Vikings. Little Swede has since caught up and isn’t such a Little Swede anymore.

And who knows, these growth ultrasounds are notoriously wrong, I could still be having a Viking!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Swedish January meh

It’s January in Sweden. All the Christmas lights are gone, but the nights are still long and I really wish that human hibernation was an actual thing, not just my fantasy. Maybe it is because I am 8 months pregnant and huge, the weather is cold and blustery, and the sun passes over head about 8 hours a week. Maybe it is some kind of seasonal depression. All I know is that I am using the excuse that cups full of vanilla ice cream doused in melted peanut butter calm my insane pregnancy heartburn to down at least one every night.

I always think this time in Sweden is the worst. The cozy Christmas candles are looking pretty worn around the edges. Daylight is starting to last a little longer, but not enough to mean you get to wake up to sunshine. The hours between picking kids up from daycare and darkness are too short to actually do anything outdoors for too long.

And I become a whiney annoying bore.

This is why Swedes obsess about the summer. And have silly optimistic ideas that there is no bad weather. I get it. I do. It is just really hard not to whine.

So instead I will be grateful:  That I have planned to work most of this month at home. That I am still able to walk my dog around the neighborhood without being in too much pregnancy pain. That my family makes me laugh every day and we spend most of those dark evenings having crazy dance parties around the livingroom. That little Swede sings his way through breakfast in a way that is cute enough to snap me out of my morning grumps.

And that in a few weeks I will be way too busy caring for a newborn to even notice any of this.

Also, until then Little Swede still gets to sled to school – and I am still a bit jealous of that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dancing out the Christmas tree

I know, I have been a bad blogger. I was just getting into the swing of writing here regularly, and then I went on a Christmas vacation to nowhere. I just vegetated with my family for two weeks. It was nice.

This weekend we conducted the sad, but slightly merry ritual of dancing our Christmas tree out the door. It was a first for us as a family. I remember doing it occasionally when I was really little and in Sweden celebrating Christmas or via Swedish au pairs, but I don’t remember much other than that we did it. Needless to say that before kids, The Swede and I left out the dancing bit and just chucked the tree.

So we did what we usually do, we created our own tradition.

While we packed up the ornaments and undecorated the tree we listened to Weezer’s Christmas album – Did you know Weezer had a Christmas album? I did not. The things you learn from Spotify trying to find endless versions of We Wish You a Merry Christmas to keep Little Swede happy.

I think there are specific songs you are supposed to sing while dancing around your tree as it is leaving the house, but I could not remember any of them at that moment. And as our entire –get Christmas out of the house- operation was rather spontaneous, I did not Google it first.

So I asked Little Swede what songs he might want to sing and dance to, and the answer was ‘Här kommer Pippi Longstrump’ So we danced around doing our best Pippi dances while singing the first verse of Här kommer Pippi Longstrump (because it is the only verse we all know by heart) over and over again.

It felt pretty Swedish at the time.

Then we waved goodbye to the tree as The Swede dumped it in the Christmas tree collection spot, and Christmas became officially over in our house, except for the Christmas placemats which keep sneaking back into the kitchen.