10 Years

Today it is 10 years since Susanna and I became a couple. I’m so happy for these years, they have been filled with so many good things, like us getting married, our children and the move to the country side. The best part is you Susanna, all the other things wouldn’t be without you.

Now we have a year of celebrations ahead of us, next up our 10 year engagement in June, hope we can have that on Bornholm like you though would be a good idea. Later comes my 40th birthday and as a grand final the wedding anniversary next January.

Susanna; You are the best!

2016 and 2017 in pictures

I have finally managed to get the pictures from 2016 and 2017 sorted.

Here some highlights from 2016:

Canoeing on a calm day, the lake is like a painting.
Canoeing on a calm day, the lake is like a painting.
Right after we got home, Johannes had a study-trip with work to Madrid.

Here you find the pictures of 2016: wolfmaier.se/2016-in-pictures/

And some highlights from 2017:

This is one of my favourite places, the view is just beautiful and you can really see the end of the open land and the start of the forest north of the lake.
Our daughter practising to ride a bicycle this summer.

Here you find the pictures from 2017: wolfmaier.se/2017-in-picutres/

Enjoy!

How did 2018 go so fast?

It’s been a long time since I wrote here. Sure, there was the Christmas greeting and the advent calendar, but I think it was back in august 2017 I made a real update. And there have been happening things since.

First; I’ve been busy, like really busy, having three kids isn’t good on the spare time account (or any other account for that matter). Second; sitting at the computer writing stuff isn’t easy when three kids want to use said computer when I use it. Third; my computer is sick, it needs a safety override to start and if I run any program that runs it warm (like most games, sketch-up and such) it shuts down. This resulting in only really necessary things being done on the computer. Blogging wasn’t one of them I suppose. Actually I just recently realised that I hadn’t transferred pictures form my phones and camera to the computer (and the subsequent backup’s thereof). If I had lost my phone I would have lost all pictures from January to November. That would have been sad.

This year has been really nice though. Last year (2017) we were learning to be a family of five. Learning to deal with a sick child and just cope. Dealing with broken cars and the hassle of getting a new one. Having a broken heating system, and disappearing plumbers. Just not a year to enjoy.

This year was so much better. It was decided that our little one didn’t need surgery. Work was good. Life was much more balanced. We had low expectations and got good results. The new car exceeded our expectations. We got our heating system fixed after more than a year of living with it only partially working.

We also got some other good things going.

First: Our garden.

Even though there was (is) an epic drought in Sweden, we had a wonderful garden this year. We also got our greenhouse done last winter. This resulting in us getting our own cucumbers, tomatoes (they would have grown outside too), chillies, paprika, water-melons and some other things that usually doesn’t grow here.

Our garden with the greenhouse in the back.

The garden provided us with abundance of mangold, carrots, potatoes, onions, beetroots and herbs. We also had squash, corn, strawberries, salad, cabbage and broccoli, just not as much. And we actually took care of most of it. We still enjoy our own carrots (and they will last some time still), beetroots, potatoes and onions. We have some frozen mangold and herbs left too.

Our apples were also in abundance, we couldn’t take care of them all. But there will be apples for a long time still. Plums and cherries were also plenty, we have made some marmalades and chutneys with them. The blackberries didn’t really like the drought though, and we didn’t water them, we got some but not that many.

And the best part; almost no mowing of the lawn and snails.

Second: Our kids.

Our kids enjoy each other. We get time to do other things, while they are playing. Our daughter is now in school for real, learning new things every day in first grade. Our sons are still at home with us.

We are not burdened with our youngest’s condition any more, as he doesn’t have any symptoms and doesn’t need medication now. He is still monitored though, once every half year there are some tests to be made, and once a year an ultrasound. For you that doesn’t know more: He was diagnosed with gall-stones when he was just a little over 3 months old. About the same time we ordered our new car. It took a few days till they found out what it was. Then some more to figure out what to do. First medication and later surgery. The surgery was to be done in Stockholm but was postponed many times. About one year ago we were told that his values were good enough to not do surgery, but they will monitor him, if it comes back.

Our kids at the Zoo playing with water

And he is a talker. We aren’t used to that. Both our daughter and our older son didn’t really make sense before they were almost three. But he astonishes us with his speech.

Maybe I should have put our kids first…

Thirdly: Our house.

Last spring, (you see the pattern) we lost pressure in our heating system. Like there was a leak somewhere. The problem was just we didn’t find any leak. So we hired a plumber. He didn’t find any leak either. But when he tested the system there wasn’t any leak any more. A few months later (after summer was over) the pressure disappeared again. And the plumber too… So we called a different one. And he didn’t come when he said he would. So I added a few taps to get our heating system working in parts of the house. So we had central heating in our bedroom, storage, hall and laundry/shower-room. The rest of the building had to rely on small electric furnaces and our wood furnace in the living room. It was cold in the mornings.

A few months later the plumber did come and they didn’t find the leak either. Now it was leaking after testing though. He said he would figure something out after new-year. And he disappeared again. Later he told us he couldn’t help us. So we called our insurance again and they referred us to him… Luckily they had a backup. Now a third plumber came, and they performed the same inspection as the previous ones and didn’t find anything. They also dyed the water in the pipes green to see if there was any green water somewhere, but no. They did know a guy though that could test the system with gas (no not the American kind) and he pressurised our system and found that the leak was probably below the newer (1994) part of the house. He couldn’t tell what pipe it was, there were two going that way, so he recommended us to reroute the pipes going under the new part of the house. So we asked the previous plumber for a price. And it was hefty. So we asked a different plumber (one that had repaired a radiator right after we moved in) and it was a bit better. So we went with that guy. And he fixed it. In the middle of the summer we had heating again. And we tested it, as good as one can test a heating system on a day with 30° C outside.

We did have a minor leak later but only affecting our hall and laundry/shower-room, this we had fixed by our guy just before Christmas.

We always had a slow pressure decrees in our heating system, but I thought it was due to a faulty valve in the boiler room, but it was probably just the pre-stages of the big leak. Now we don’t have that problem anymore.

The truck with the insulation pumping into our house.

We also got some extra insulation under our roof, so now we have a much nicer climate on the upper floor.

Fourth: Our cars.

We have two cars, like we’ve had all the time we have lived here. Last year we needed a new one, because our old had an accident. So we did some calculations and realised that a new electric car would cost us about the same as a used ICE. We are very pleased with our ZOE, not just the new-car feel but mainly the running costs. We have been driving it a bit more than we thought we would. Basically it’s our first car now and our Megane is just if the ZOE is busy or we need the bigger trunk or roof-rails for shopping. Sadly neither has a hook for trailers, but we might get one some time. I just hope we can keep the Megan alive until we can afford a second electric. In a couple of years there should be a few more to choose from.

Charging our ZOE in Germany

In spring we did a trip to Germany. We decided to use the ZOE, it would be so much cheaper and we need plenty of stops anyway. It went really well. I guess that it won’t be as cheap in the future though, more than half of the charging posts didn’t charge for the electricity. We learned that using charging posts is easy in Germany and Denmark, in the Netherlands you need to do some planning first, but thanks to Tesla (and a free and open destination charger) we got to our destination there too.

Fifth: The summer.

This last one is with a bit of ambivalence. It was a great summer, I love the high temperatures and sunny days. I’m not as happy about the drought it brought. We still have much less water in the lake than usually, maybe 80 cm lower than it normally is in December, even if it has risen maybe 20 cm from its lowest. Our lawn stopped growing, except for some weeds. It wasn’t entirely yellow though, probably because of the proximity of the lake. We got some good time at the sea too, both the Baltic and the Westcoast.

Sand castle at the beach

Looking back on this year is good. Looking forward is exiting. I will be home with the kids while Susanna has a new job (that she will find soon I hope). It will be different then the last times. There will be strict daily routines, the oldest has to be at school in the morning and picked up afterwards. There will be many more activities during the weekdays for the boys. But I think it will work well.

A new car

On Tuesday we finally got our new car. It’s a Renault Zoe, a small electric car. We ordered it in the beginning of April after we had an accident with our Škoda and it had to be scrapped. It took some time for it to be delivered, but it was worth the wait and we had another car (a Renault Kadjar) from the dealer until it arrived.

Here is a picture of the car (sorry for the quality of the picture):

Picture of the new car

Here is a picture of the loaner:

Picutre of the car we loaned

Here is a picture of the damage on the Škoda, it wasn’t a bad accident, airbags didn’t deploy, but the insurance company rather traded in the car then letting us fix it:

Picture of the crashed car

5 years passed just like that.

Last Saturday our daughter had her fifth birthday. It was a nice summer day this time, good for us as we had her kindergarten class over for a party in the afternoon.

It’s amazing how fast time flies. It feels like it wasn’t that long ago we were at the hospital in Stockholm enjoying our little miracle. Now she is so big, knows so many things and is learning and becoming more independent every day. That day back then was a nice day too. It wasn’t as warm as now though.

Evening bicycling

Here are some of the neighbourhood kids bicycling along the lake. (Ours is the one with the flag).

That leads me to my next rambling, on Sunday we went to the beach. It isn’t quite common to go to the beach to enjoy the sun and the sea mid-September here in Sweden. This year it is possible though. (It was even warmer today). The water was a bit chilly but in the sun it was nice and even when a cloud (there were a few sadly) covered it, it was still nice enough not to drape oneself in towels or clothes like so many times during Swedish summers.

Püff is on its way

Today was a very special day. And no, it wasn’t the fact that I’m back at work after more than a year of parental leave that made it special.

Today we saw Püff for the first time. Püff is scheduled to be born in the beginning of January and will be our third kid.

Ultrasound picutre of Püff

Here is a picture from the ultrasound. We are looking forward to become a family of five!

Reap what you sow.

I just have to tell you about our garden. We had a bit more time to put into it because I was at home with the kids. So we got it looking really good.

Our Garden

Now we are earning the reward for the hard work. Today we gathered all this food in our garden. (Sure the work effort to get plums isn’t that much, basically just gathering them before they all fall to the ground).

The harvest

Today we collected squash, plums, blackberries, beetroots, two kinds of onions, potatoes, parsley, dill and carrots. It’s such a joy to have all these good things to gather in the garden.

How can dinner be anything other than good?

The food

Sorry I started eating before I took the picture, it was just so good. Almost everything came from our garden, just the meet and the small stuff you can’t see isn’t home grown.

 

Bicycling!

I just have to tell you all like the proud father I am: My daughter now knows how to bicycle all by her herself. For a week or so she has known how to bicycle with the little exception of that she couldn’t start herself. Today our evening walk started the same way as most, I held her to start and then she was off. When we were almost home again, she didn’t want to wait for us to catch up with her so she tried to start herself and did. Back home she waited for us at the entrance to the driveway, she wanted to show us how she had started herself and she did. So now she knows how to bicycle, from start to stop.

Here is a picture of her on the way last week.

Bicycling Daughter

Golden Fun

We have finally bought a new car. It is really difficult to buy a car, first we had a budget, then there was a thought of what kind of car we wanted, then we started looking at ads. There are so many cars out there matching our criteria. We had to look at some cars.

If you want the quick version, just scroll to the end of the post, there is some good portion of rambling in the middle.

So, the new car should not be too old, we had a limit of how much we could put, and preferably not driven that far. That makes a tricky combination. We looked at Hyundais, first. Then we realised we didn’t want something as wind sensitive as the Yellow Danger. There are some other models there too. We also looked at VW-Polo and Golf and siblings from Seat and Skoda. Na, either they were Stone Age (or at least from the previous millennium) or they had been driving something like 300 000 km. At this point we realised we need to broaden our search and start actually looking at cars not only browsing ads.

So Susanna’s parents came to take care of our kids and we went for a tour de used-car-dealers. At the first place we had a rather shocking encounter with a Hyundai Getz, (I think it was), not that old, just not taken care of. There we also saw a Ford Focus that kind of opened our eyes to the Fords. The second place was closed (or just not answering the phone), the third place had grass growing out of the car so we decided that we didn’t really think that was proper treatment for a car to be sold.

After a much needed lunch we continued up the coast to look at some other cars. Two Hyundai Accent were the lures. We took one for a test drive. Not our car. And it wasn’t that nice either. We looked at some Fords again, but neither one of them was better than the one in the morning.

Off to the next place. We were greeted by an eager salesman (probably the owner of the place). After letting him know what we wanted he started showing us cars. It was a bit confusing at first; he was showing all kind of cars kind of at once. But we wanted to look closer at a few of them. Here we first came in touch with the French cars. We realised that a Citroën C4 wasn’t our cup of tea, centre speedometers should be banned. The C3 wasn’t that nice and lacked some features, I was really hoping for car with cruise-control. We looked at some Opels here too but they were a bit over our budget.

A Renault Mégane was a nice surprise tough. Coming in a bit below our budget it caught our eyes. So we asked for a test-drive. It was a pleasant surprise. Quiet, smooth and comfortable. We really liked it. Still we weren’t convinced. Renault isn’t a brand we were familiar with. It had some things that needed tending but that wasn’t a problem the salesman said, they would fix it.

Off to the next place, the last place in our tour. Here we had high hopes. Boy did they fail. The cars were in lesser shape than at the previous place and seemingly higher in price. We didn’t even test-drive any car there.

On the way home Susanna researched a bit about Renaults. The gathered info convinced us that a Renault could actually be a feasible choice for us. We still liked the Ford Focus though. Back home we did some background check on the most interesting cars we had looked at. 7 owners on both the Ford from the morning and the Mégane. But wait; the first owner of the Mégane was a car rental company. So that’s why it was so cheap. Some more research on owning a former rental crossed that car off our list. Now we were back to the Ford Focus. It had been rolling a bit far so we decided to look at some more.

As we didn’t want to ask someone to watch our kids again Markus and I drove to Kristianstad to check out some Fords we had seen ads for. The first one was sold. Going to the next one. At first it looked okay, but a closer look revealed rust, and plenty of it. It was actually more rusty than the Yellow Danger. And that isn’t a good sign for a car almost 4 years younger. It had some parts almost falling off. We still took it for a test-drive. It didn’t feel good either and made some funny noises.

Disappointed we looked around in the store. There was a Renault Mégane there too. It looked really nice. So we took a closer look. I asked if we could take it for a test-drive. It felt good. We looked at it, no rust to be found except for a bit on the break disks in the back. (One of them needs replacement in a not too distant future). Just below our budget but without winter tires. Winter tires could be included though. So we went home thinking this might be the car. Back home we did the background check. Only one user and nothing other showing up.

So, today (Monday) we went back there to buy it. Susanna hadn’t seen it before but she liked it too. Here it is, the Golden Fun. A bit bigger than needed, but it could double as family car in case we need to. Now I only have to install a phone-holder.

Golden Fun, Renault Mégane Combi

Here is a picture of the car.

We already made use of the fact that we have two cars again. Susanna went shopping while I picked up our daughter from a friend.

The Yellow Danger is doomed

Today I handed over the keys of the Yellow danger to the mechanic getting it scrapped. Sadly it’s too expensive to repair any more.

It is always hard to let go of things for me, somehow cars more so than other things. I think it has to do with all the memories I have with them. I really liked this one; it was charming in some strange kind of way. And it needed some planning to not block everybody on the motorway while overtaking.

We have repaired it a few times, but this time it was just too expensive to be feasible. Still it has been a cheap car doing a good job getting us to work and back.

The brakes have made strange noises for some time, so I decided to change them, I had ordered the parts and just about when I got the message that they arrived Susanna called me telling me she had a problem, the car just wouldn’t go forward anymore. So we had to get a tow truck to get the car to a mechanic. It wasn’t just the brakes but also some other parts that had to be replaced to get the car moving again, all in all it would have come to just below 2½ times the price we paid for the car to fix it. Sometimes one has to realise one’s defeat.

Here is one of the last pictures of the car.

Yellow Danger doomed

And here is the first good one I have from it.

Yellow Danger as "new"

Spring is coming

I just wanted to share some pictures of the flowers of our garden at this time of year. (Sorry for the bad quality of some of the pictures).

It started early, here some of the first, these Snowdrops came already in the beginning of February.

Snowdrops without snow

Just a few days later it looked like this instead:

Snowdrops with snow

They are still in bloom, and we have plenty of them around our place.

Then there was this little yellow thing. Our neighbour have many of them, we just have this one: (I have no clue what it is).

Yellow little thing

This lonely Crocus showed up in the beginning of this week:

Crocus one

There are more coming, but most of them I dug up clearing for the expansion of our vegetable garden. Susanna replanted them later and now they are growing in the round flowerbed, not really blooming yet.

Yesterday these two started just next to our house: I really like the colour of them.

Crocus two and three

Then we have these little ones, they are blooming a little now and then. I don’t know their name either. There was one in January and I saw one late last year, must be a special resilient kind.

Resilient little thing

Last weekend my brother and I took the kids on the lake. There was no wind at all.

Mirror lake

I also managed to make a selfie; it’s kind of crammed on the canoe, but it was fun.

Canoe selfie

Now I’m just hoping it gets a bit warmer soon.

A380

Today we picked up my brother from the airport. We went a bit early so that we could see the plane he came in with landing.

Emirates A380

It’s a big bird the Airbus A380, here just before touchdown at Copenhagen airport. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen it, both in Frankfurt and Dubai they are everything other than rare, but here it’s the only one coming in. And this time I knew someone on it.

Enough with the plane nerding now.

 

Sugar wedding

Today six years ago she said yes! I did too and we were wed. Time really flies. She is really something, wonderful to live with, great to have by my side. I’m so happy and lucky that it is us.

So the sixth wedding day is the sugar wedding, at least in Sweden or the English tradition. I like that.

Susanna

Here she is.

We celebrated today by going to the movies and tea after without our kids. It’s the first time we have done something like this since our son was born.

Father daughter time

Last Thursday our son should have had his first swimming class. We had our daughter at swimming classes back when we still lived in Stockholm and before our son was born here in Höör too. Inconveniently he got a bad cold with a slight fever too, so no swimming for him. We had promised our daughter to go swimming at the same time though so that had to be honoured.

So I went with her to the sports-centre so she would get some water time. It was really great, just me and her. We enjoyed both the big pool, she swam 25 meters (with a floating device) and the kids’ pool, were we played. I dived all the way across; she mostly jumped from the edge.

After the pool we went to one of the pizza places we have in Höör. It is nice to sometimes do something special like that. Having conversations with a four-year old is a lot more rewarding than with a smaller kid. Interesting things are going on in her head now. Even though I try to be attentive to what she is saying normally it’s not that easy to zoom out after a while in the everyday setting, especially when there is another kid, wife or other person trying to get your attention too.

Bird-feeder

We have a bird feeder in our apple tree next to our house. Today I decided to look a little more careful to see what kind of birds there are. Here are my findings, with translations to Swedish and German. I didn’t get all of them on photo, I wasn’t thinking about taking pictures first, here the ones that did end up on camera:

Goldfinch Steglits Stieglitz

Goldfinch

This morning I first saw this little bird at our feeder, probably the reason I’m writing this blog post.

Nuthatch Nötväcka Kleiber

NuthatchHere the Goldfinch has gotten company by a much more common visitor at the feeder. (I’m sorry for the dark pictures, not so easy to get them right they really move fast.

Great tit Talgoxe Kohlmeise

Great tit

This is the most common bird at our feeder, here one is picking up seeds from the ground.

F 2016-01-20-14-20-48

Here it is competing with the Gold Finch.

Great tit liftoff

And a lucky shot of one just after lift-off.

Common blackbird Koltrast Amsel

Common blackbird I love this bird for their songs in spring and early summertime. Here it looked a bit cold. There are not that many of them here, but they are coming regularly.

Blue tit Blåmes Blaumeise

F 2016-01-20-14-22-40

This small bird is also fairly common and normally one of the first to come to the feeder.

Marsh tit Entita Sumpfmeise

Marsh tit

I’m not entirely sure I’m right with this one; it could also be a Willow tit (Talltita Weidenmeise). This is in my guess the smallest bird we have here.

Here a list of birds I didn’t get pictures of:

Magpie Skata Elster

Jackdaw Kaja Dohle, I’m usually trying to chase them away, as they empty the feeder within minutes.

House sparrow Gråsparv Haussperling

There are also Pheasant Fasan Fasan visiting the feeder, but I haven’t seen it today. I did see the tracks though. We also found tracks from European rabbit Europeisk kanin Wildkaninchen by the feeder. I followed the tracks around our place and it seems they do not live in the pile of rocks we have but somewhere else, probably closer to the lake.