Monday, November 28, 2011

Dad's week in Sweden

As many of you may already know, my dad came to visit me this past week! It was so great to have him here with me in Sweden, especially during the start of the holiday season. As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving blog, I’ve been here 3 full months now, and it’s around this time that I’m really starting to miss the luxuries of home. I’ve managed to luck out thus far with the weather – its managed to stay in the upper 30’s and mostly in the 40’s this whole month. I never thought in a million years that I would be thankful for such weather, but after a while you start getting used to how to dress in layers, and I’ve managed to get by unscathed. But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about my dad’s trip here.

Dad arrived in Copenhagen the morning of November 19. We spent the first weekend in Copenhagen, managing to see all the sights in his first day (check out the Copenhagen blog for information about our time in Denmark). Sunday night we made it back to Ljungby, and we would be spending the rest of our time together in Sweden!
Monday was fairly low key as Jo and I had workouts in the morning, and would be coaching the B-team before having our pre-match team meeting and our own practice that evening. I gave Dad a town map and pointed him in a semi-direction so he could enjoy the first of many morning runs – he would go on to run about an hour every morning. 
Dad chilling in Maxi
After showering and going to Maxi for a quick grocery run, Dad was able to have his first Hotel Terrazza experience. Every time someone “new” comes to eat lunch with us, Jo and I have to introduce them to our system: first the salad plate (complete with pizza salad and Rhode Island dressing) and a piece of buttered bread; second you are allowed to get your main course. It’s become a routine for us, and it kind of stresses us out when people don’t follow it properly. Also, since we’re pretty much regulars, we have a table; it’s the one closest to the buffet station and we sit there every day. That evening would start a 5-hour volleyball practice, split between us coaching the B-team, a pregame meeting, and our own 2-hour practice. Poor dad would have to sit through it all! Luckily Malin’s mom was there and gave him someone to talk to.
Tuesday after lunch, we walked over to Astradskolan to get Daniel’s car so we could spend the afternoon in Växjö. We were going to look at some of the larger electronics stores to see if there was a connector/convertor that could somehow allow us to play our movies and TV shows that are on our computers on the TV. Unfortunately, we have an old-school analogue TV and Mac computers, so there would be a lot of wires and convertors needed to get this magic to happen. 
Fixing the new DVD player
Dad, being the president of the Geek Squad, was able to figure out what kind of plugs and wires we needed, and found a DVD/USB player that can not only play multi-region DVDs (because the Euro-DVD players can’t read North American DVDs—who knew??) but also connect my external hard drive!! Before leaving Växjö, we stopped at City Gross (one of the grocery stores) to look for a turkey to eat for thanksgiving.
Gobble gobble!!
Some of my teammates had mentioned that there was a “world foods” section in this store—which we found—and stocked up on pancake batter, syrup, butter lover’s popcorn, and hot cocoa! I clutched each item to my chest as if letting them go would make them disappear. It’s the little things in life. 
Instead of going to practice that night, dad stayed at home to hook up the DVD player and convert my external hard drive so that it could be properly formatted to play movies.
Wednesday, both Jo and I were feeling a little under the weather, so instead of doing too many activities, we went for a walk into the woods near Sunnerbohallen (our volleyball gym). Dad had seen many small Christmas trees that were cut and just lying around in the woods—his idea was that we could steal one and put it up in our apartment! Naturally, we did just that. 
Assembling the Christmas tree
A quick trip to Maxi for some necessary Christmas tree supplies and we were in business. Later that day, I introduced my dad to Swedish chocolate balls at a local coffee shop and bakery called Roddy’s. 
Chocolate Balls at Roddy's
That evening we drove over to Ångelholm to watch an elite series match between Engelholm (the team spelled their name differently than the town, don’t ask anyone why as they have no idea) and Hylte/Halmstad. On Saturday, we would be playing Engelholm at home, so it was a good chance for a few of us to watch them play. Daniel drove Dad, Jo, Selma and I over to the match where we met Jocke and Malin’s parents. It was fun to watch a match with dad, since usually he is in the stands cheering me on instead of us both being observers. The match ended within an hour, and we headed to McDonald’s for quick food on the way back home.
Thursday, we did not eat thanksgiving food. Since our practice is so late, we decided it would be best for us to eat our big meal on Friday. We instead made fajitas!! Jo and I coached the B-team, this time Dad was able to help a little more with some of the instruction. He was especially helpful with Stefan, one of the parents standing in as coach and chaperone. That night at our practice, a few guys were able to come and scrimmage against us in preparation for the weekend’s match. I wish I had known to tell dad to bring his shoes, because I’m sure he would much rather have played against us then sit and watch in the stands.
Friday, Dad and I went to Astradskolan to help in the Advanced English class. It was a cool experience to share with him, as this is something Jo and I do quite often. Basically all we talked about was Thanksgiving and how huge of a holiday it is in America. We then broke the class into two groups, and dad took one while I took the other. 
Dad outside of Astradskolan
From school, I went on to workout while Dad went for a run. We met back at home to start up laundry – an interesting experience to say the least. Most of you have seen the pictures of our laundry facility, but, according to Dad, until you actually experience it firsthand, you can’t possibly imagine how different it truly is from America. 
It's laundry day!!
We made a last minute shopping trip at Maxi to make sure we had all our cooking supplies for tonight’s feast before it was time for Jo and I to head off to practice. Dad stayed in again, this time cooking up all the yummy food. It was finally time for Thanksgiving!!! We watched our first Christmas movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas while enjoying green bean casserole, corn casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, of course, TURKEY!
Cooking some num nums

Carving the turkey breast
Saturday, we had our regular match schedule of 10:30 morning practice, showers and pregame meal in the yellow house. Dad was invited to eat lunch with the team, so he was able to go for his morning run. This would be the first match Dad has seen me play in since my senior season at Tampa, so I was really excited to have him in the stands cheering me on. He went crazy with the action photos, and got a real international volleyball experience, complete with the Swedish national anthem. Unfortunately, our team lost in 4: 20-25, 25-20, 16-25, and 23-25. The first and second sets, we managed to hang in throughout the game, gradually gaining our composure as the match went on. In set 3, Engelholm came alive, and we struggled to keep up; however, it was the 4th set that we showed how great Ljungby Volleyball really could be. We led 8-1, then 16-5, and were up 20-8 before Engelholm went on their first run. We appeared to be in control at 23-13, but then the 2010 Swedish champions showed their strength, beating us 23-25.
That night, Daniel drove Dad and I to the Värnamo train station. It was finally time to say our goodbyes and send Dad on his way back to Copenhagen, where he would spend the night at Chelsea’s before flying home Sunday morning. His train was initially supposed to leave at 6:30, but was 45-minutes late. It had hit a moose!!! After a goodbye hug, he boarded the train and was on his way. It was sad to see him leave, but we had a great, relaxing week together in Sweden.
Happy Thanksgiving :)
My dad is now officially the only person in the world with whom I have spent EVERY Thanksgiving. Quite an honor, if you ask me.

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