Last Sunday I took the boys swimming on what would be the last weekend of the season for our local outdoor swimming pool.
The weather had been patchy, but the morning was warm and sunny and we were there early enough to have the entire kiddie pool to ourselves. The boys were having a great time running along the concrete deck and jumping into the pool, swimming along the side to the stairs, climbing out, and doing it again.
It was lovely. We were all relaxed and having a nice time, and I thought to myself, see? You are doing it. You are a fun mom, you are doing a great job.
And then came the backwards jump. First, Niko, who spun around and landed with a satisfying sploosh in the pool. And then, Odin.
Backwards jumps are always a terrible idea. I know this from a decade-and-a-half on the pool deck, and yet, I didn't react quite quickly enough when I realized that little Odin was going to attempt the same backwards spin jump as his older brother had.
I saw him land awkwardly, and one of his water wings came off so he was flailing, struggling to keep his head above the water. When I grabbed him a few seconds later and lifted him up, blood started pouring out of his chin. So. Much. Blood.
In Sweden, which is a much less litigious culture than North America, there are usually lifeguards in the building, but they don't vigilantly patrol the pool deck. Or local pool is a massive facility that was built in a past bid for the summer Olympics, and the outdoor section has four different pools.
The kiddie pool we were in was quiet enough (we were literally the only people in it at that stage) that there was no lifeguard in sight of it, so I rushed out of the pool cupping Odin's chin with my hand, and tailed by a hysterical Niko. When I walked far enough towards the lap pool to spot the lifeguard sitting on the tower there, I raised my hand in the universal (to me) lifeguard signal that means, "hey, I need you."
He did nothing.
After a few moments I pivoted and started walking in the other direction, where there were two other lifeguards sitting at the exit to the facility, which apparently needs to be monitored now due to covid protocols. You'd think that a woman carrying a screaming child, tailed by another screaming child, and waving a blood-covered hand would be enough to prompt a reaction, but still no.
Finally another parent rushed over to me and asked if I needed help and I said, yes, I need A LIFEGUARD. He sprinted to the exit guards and directed them to me, and when they arrived they seemed unsure of what to do.
Listen, I know that as a former lifeguard, and someone to trained people to work as lifeguards, my standards are probably higher than average. I used to be a recert examiner, which meant I'd have four hours to run a group of guards through skills sessions and rescue simulations and determine from their performance whether they could maintain their certifications.
Let me tell you, without knowing what the standards are for lifeguards in Sweden, I would have failed every one of them. Failure to respond, failure to have primary equipment on their person (we always had a pocket face mask, gloves, and gauze in a fanny pack so we could start treatment immediately), failure to have an adequately stocked first aid kid, inconsistent and inaccurate follow-up advice.
Don't get me wrong, they were very nice and they were as helpful as they could be, but they were woefully underprepared. I had to send Niko running to get our towels as they didn't seem to have any emergency blankets or think that it was necessary to cover up a shivering child lying on the grass. I had to ask them if they could maybe check the first aid supplies in the indoor pool if they were missing what they needed outside, and, once they finally returned with some steri-strips, I had to tape his chin up myself as they seemed unsure of how to do it.
Odin is fine now, by the way. After a whole lot of drama at the pool, and a full 30 minutes of trying to calm down a completely hysterical Niko, we left with Odin's chin taped together and I towed the kids to an appointment at the emergency clinic in the bike chariot while Niko unleashed a litany of complaints; there was no one to watch him so he had to come to the clinic, we don't have a car, we don't have a balcony, we don't have a summer house, he doesn't have a green Lego boat and on on and on and on.
He had his chin glued shut by a lovely doctor who also checked to make sure his jaw wasn't broken, gave him a sticker, and sent us on our way. I took the boys home and parked them in front of the TV with a bowl of chips, just absolutely cooked.
The whole thing was relatively minor, really, but it was at the beginning of a long-ish stretch of solo parenting (Paul was away on a trip) and it settled over me like a dark cloud.
Most of the time, like a solid 80% or so, I'm extremely happy living in Sweden. Especially now, with all of the chaos in the world, I am thankful to live in a place with a real sense of normalcy.
And yet, there are times when I feel very, very far away from home. Or, very very far away from, I don't know, everyone?
For some reason (hormones? pandemic? separation?) a lot of little things added up this week and I found myself in a right funk by mid-way through the week. I knew I'd be alone all weekend, and so tried to make some plans to stave off the inevitable loneliness but came up empty even after a thorough scour through the depths of my contact list.
How is that possible? Is it just this life phase where people are so busy with escalating careers and small kids and second homes and apple picking and crayfish parties? Or is this pervasive loneliness something one should just expect going forward?
Asking for a friend.
I've decided that I'm going to get a blade of kale tattooed on my arm. First off, my little tattoo with the boys' names feels lonely, and I want to anchor it to something, like a string on a helium balloon.
And if the thing I want to anchor it to is me, well I think a blade of kale is a fine thing to do that with. Kale is tough, but when handled correctly it becomes tender and soft. It's nutritious, and hardy.
Kale is a survivor, and so am I.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This week we kicked things off with a re-boot of an old favourite, the Vegetarian Nicoise Salad. Be sure to snap this one up while the local green beans are still going strong at the farmer's market!
And next, since it's back to school / back to work time for many of us, I'm sharing my favourite recipe for Chickpea Salad Sandwich. I first published this recipe in 2011 and it was long overdue for a glow-up. You'll find one of the original photos at the bottom of the post if you want a good laugh.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is trending.
1. How to Cook Mung Beans. Heyyyy-o.
2. Chia Fresca. Mmmm. So tasty and hydrating.
3. Turmeric Latte Mix. Love this one.
4. Chocolate Black Bean Smoothie. Oh hey! Welcome back to the top 5!
5. Peanut Butter Oat Bars. Such a great snack.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Maria left the following comment and 5-star review on my Homemade Pumpkin Seed Butter recipe:
This turned out great. It took me about 30 minutes to get it to the desired consistency in my food processor (not sure why since I made pistachio nut butter a while back and it took me 15 minutes), but worth it! I used 1 ½ cups pumpkin seeds (toasted them first) & then at the end added ¼ teaspoon salt. I’m looking forward to using it often! Thanks!
I hear you, Maria. I made almond butter yesterday and it was ready in 10 minutes. For some reason pumpkin seeds take a LOT longer to break down, but the result is definitely worth it!
THIS WEEK’S MENU
One of the things I learned last week is that even if I've planned a super simple recipe, cooking dinner after we get home from school pick up leads to a very late dinner. Which leads to cranky kids, which leads to cranky mom. So we're keeping things a bit more simple this week.
Also, I spent much of this weekend shooting recipes for the blog, so we've got a LOT of food ready to go in the fridge. Here's what's on the menu this week:
Sunday: Homemade pizza using some of my Spelt Pizza Dough from the freezer.
Monday: It's just me on Monday, so probably leftovers.
Tuesday: We're having a baked halloumi thing I'm photographing for the blog.
Wednesday: This is a day I'm doing both drop-off and pick-up, which always means we're short on time. We're keeping it simple with a meal I've dubbed "Beans and Baguettes".
Thursday: It's just me, so leftovers.
Friday: I have a fancy pants dinner out with friends that I'm really looking forward to.
Saturday: Snack dinner! I'll make a Vegetarian Cheese Board, and probably some chicken nuggets for the kids.
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
3. What's the point of an onion?