Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Northern...Western Canada

So I traveled back from Sweden on Friday the 11th. I was home for all of five days before work asked me to take a trip. It was unexpected to say the least. Before that though I was able to fit in a lot of time with my family. Everyone was in town, so it was a lot of fun. We went to Scofield, shot guns at Newton ranch, Owen went on a horse ride. Ate out, and ate in. Went to a movie. And had a nice breakfast with my grandparents.
Us on the four-wheeler, isn't my wife cute?
It was quite fun. I spent the next week working with Greg on our house. I learned a lot and am very appreciative of him and his talents in helping me out. He is a wonderful contractor and I would recommend him to anyone (

So I am currently in Calgary Alberta. I was asked to visit an operation we have in Alberta, and I made mention of going to "Northern Canada" around one of our executives in the office who is from Canada, and he corrected me and said you are going to "Western Canada". You be the judge.

Northern Sunrise County

When I got here on Monday, it was beautiful 70 degrees. I woke up this morning to a bad snowstorm. It was just like Utah.

My first trip to Canada four years ago had mixed reviews. I went to Montreal, meh, and Nova Scotia, nice place. I was too young and inexperienced to notice really cultural differences. After being in Sweden though I am more sensitive to it. this trip was better. Canadians really are some of the nicest people I have met. I was surprised as I observed how they interacted with people. Coming from Sweden where if you got another person to acknowledge your presence was a good day, to Canada where everyone is so interested in you has been refreshing. 

For example, today I was flying from Grand Prairie to Calgary. Grand Prairie is pretty small and the airport only has two gates and all the planes are prop planes. When I got to security there was a line, and I was shocked and thought, okay who is holding this thing up and I peered around everyone. There was a physically and mentally handicapped person at the front of the line going through security. I quickly relaxed and made a note not to get upset, but what really changed me was how everyone else was reacting. Especially the security folks. This woman had a roller bag and a backpack. She was incredibly excited to be flying and by the time I arrived the security guard had helped her get her bags in the plastic bins. Then the security guard and this lady had this exchange.

SG: "Do you have any liquids, a laptop, or anything in your pockets?"
W: "No....wait I have this in my pocket" pulls out a receipt
SG: "Thats okay, do you have any liquids or a laptop?" there is a laptop visible sticking out of the backpack
W: "No...wait I have a laptop"
SG: "K, let's put that in a bin. Do you have any liquids?"
W: "No" proceeds to the metal detector, "Wait, yes I do"
SG: "K, let's put them in a bin."
W: Pulls out a red makeup bag, and says "what about this?"
SG: "We'll just put it in a bin to be safe."

The entire time being completely calm and friendly. The women then proceeds through security, the person in front of me, and then I do. As our bins go through the scanner, the security guard grabs this woman's bins and starts helping her get put back together. Then she holds up this makeup case and shows it to the lady on the X-ray machine, and says "isn't this pretty?", "Oh my yes that is beautiful". When we got to the gate and sat down I was seated near this lady and she was beaming, and telling her friend how the security guards liked her bag. 

Now maybe it is the cynic in me, but I cannot see any American TSA person ever taking the time to help someone through security like that or have the patience with them. At first I didn't even have the patience to wait in a line. It was humbling to see people care for complete strangers. When I was in Sweden I learned to appreciate other cultures. I am by no means bashing on America, but I feel like there are some things that other cultures do better. I feel like Swedes have a better work-life balance to a point. 

I am hoping to be a little kinder, and more patient after this trip. 

I can't wait to come home to these two. Aren't they just the cutest?

Monday, April 7, 2014


3 years ago today this was us. In the past three years we have gone through a lot. Shortly before we were engaged, I received a job offer from a company in Chicago. The plan was for the first two years to be in a management training program. I was the only person from BYU to receive a flyback and it was a pretty sweet gig. We would have lived 6 months just outside Chicago, moved to a manufacturing facility in the South (a friend of mine from interviews ended up in South Carolina, if I knew then what I know now about that place, it would have been a much harder decision), and then move back to Chicago for 6 more months. Depending on how those three jobs went I could end up anywhere but would most likely move one more time at the end of the two years. Gini and I talked and we said that is just a little too much moving for us, 4 moves in 2 years. Funny how we ended up moving just as much, and MANY more miles.

If it hadn't been for her, I probably would have taken that job. I can honestly say that without her helping me to be the best person I can be, I would not be the man I am today. Happy Anniversary dear. I will be home soon.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Swedish Miracle

So I have been back in Sweden now for a week. It has been fun, and it is nice knowing that I will be home in Utah soon. This past week at work has been EXTREMELY slow. I am just here for questions and discussions so work occupies about 2 hours of my day. It has been fun.

With me being the last one here I have the joy of tying up all the loose ends, closing apartments, selling cars, and changing addresses. Really fun and exciting work. To preface this story I will explain something about Swedish culture. People in Sweden are very private and keep to themselves. They aren't very talkative to strangers. For example, no one holds the door for each other, and if you do hold the door it is seen as weird. My co-worker was using the stairs in his apartment building one day, and as he was walking down them he looked out to the entrance and he saw a woman and a man struggling to carry a couch inside. So he walked down and grabbed the door for them. Right behind them was another Swede. The guy started to chuckle as my co-worker held the door open, and asked if he was American. My co-work said, "Yes, why do you ask?" "I can tell because a Swede wouldn't have done that."

So last night I decided I was going to clean out one of our apartments instead of paying someone to do it. So I had just finished boxing everything up and was starting to load it into my car to take to the Red Cross. As I get my car half-loaded this other car pulls up to the front door and two 18-20 year old kids starting moving in. Seeing an opportunity I pounce.

"Are you two moving in?"
"Yes, we are, to the 6th floor."
"Do you guys have furniture and other stuff?"
They look at each other, "we have beds."
"Would you like some more stuff?"
Look at me, look at each other, "Sure."

So I tell them what apartment I am in and tell them to come on up. They both look so lost and confused. Mind you, this apartment was used the least of all the ones we had here in Sweden. So all the stuff was still really new and had a lot of life left in it. When they walked in they were still waiting for a catch, and finally I said what do you guys want and they listed off some really small things. So I grabbed them and started moving them to their apartment. When I went in their apartment they had two beds and only clothes. Poor college students. So I let them pick what they wanted. It ended up instead of me spending all day Saturday running back and forth to the Red Cross, I was able to cut it down to one trip. It was one of those situations where it is beneficial for both parties. Their apartment is now stocked with more stuff than they would ever need, and I am not killing myself moving all that stuff.

They were really funny the whole time and kept saying things like; this is a joke, are you sure we can have this, do you want any money. When I would say do you guys want that, they would say, we would love it but would be too timid to say anything. My favorites though were,

"I feel like I am on Extreme Home Makeover"

"Is there a hidden camera somewhere?"

"This is only cool because you are an American."
"Why is that cool?"
"Because if it were anyone else, we wouldn't believe them. If you were a Swede we wouldn't even believe this."

It was like a dream come true. I am so glad I was able to find someone to take all this stuff. It really was one of those small things, that reminded me I am not alone here in Sweden.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Moving Day

So on the 28th we had movers come and pick up our shipment back to the US. Even though we don't know when we will come back exactly and where we will go, we wanted to get a jump on the 6 - 10 weeks it takes for our items to get to Utah.

Being in Sweden has definitely given us a different view on life. We had two movers show up at 8 AM. It was about an hour earlier than we were anticipating. It isn't uncommon for Swedes to start their days early, like having construction crews starting work at 6:30 AM. Well these two guys showed up and got after it. I had taken the whole day off of work, and was totally surprised when they started packing things up at 11 AM.

The upstairs getting boxed up

Our downstairs waiting to be loaded onto the truck

Our load on the truck

Since it is so expensive to ship things across the seas when we moved here we only shipped some bare essentials, mostly decorations to make this place feel like home. So now our apartment is bare. It is really sinking in that we are moving home.

It has been kinda interesting to reflect on the past 14 months. Today, Gini was released from her calling in the branch, so it is becoming more and more real. The longest our family has lived in any home has been this apartment. When I went home to pick up Gini and Owen at the end of January, we went to church in Salt Lake and heard a couple introduce themselves. They had been on the Romney campaign for the past 16 months and moved around swing states, staying for 3 - 6 weeks. Yikes. At least we aren't like them.

While it is still up in the air where we be going next, and when we will be going we know that we will be moving back to North America by April 29th, hopefully sometime before then. Until then, we are going to be enjoying whatever time we have left here in Sweden.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Sorry I haven't written since October. A lot has happened, and I mean A LOT. If you read Gini's blog this will be a quick recap, see her blog for pictures of these events.

1. November saw winter come here to Sweden, it got really dark really fast. We went to the Canary Islands for Thanksgiving. It was quite a bit of fun. We saw some old sites, beaches, buffets, and other wonderful island scenery.

2. December had us traveling to Disneyland Paris and a wonderful Christmas vacation in Utah.

3. January was spent apart. I was in Sweden working and Gini was in Utah enjoying the sun. It was a long month but was really good. I was lucky enough to come home and fly back with her so she didn't have to fly back by herself. We also found out we are going to have a baby in July in January. It was really exciting.

4. February has been good, it has been quite warm, I think the coldest it got was like 15 or 20, and it is getting brighter each and every day. Today I actually stopped and felt the sun's warmth on my face at lunch. It was incredible I can't remember the last time I felt the sun's warmth.

So now for the big news, last week my worked informed me that we wouldn't be spending the entire 3 years here in Sweden. We would be coming home sooner. My boss, and two others will be leaving in two weeks, and I will be leaving after them. I get to stay around and train the people replacing us, and get to arrange for the closing of all our accounts and other things over here. So sometime the end of March, to the beginning of April we will be returning to North America.

It is bittersweet. While we are excited to be nearer to family, friends, and familiar surroundings; we are really going to miss living in Sweden and enjoying life here. Especially since we just suffered through a winter and we don't even get to enjoy the summer. We are going to miss going on bike rides every day after dinner, swimming in the rivers here, and enjoying the midnight sun. We will also miss traveling through Europe and seeing the sites. However, I won't miss not hunting.

The best part of all of this, is we don't know where we are going to go next. It is like we are playing one of those spinning wheel games they have at the fair. Right now it is spinning really good, and it will start to slow down but really we have no idea where we could end up. This change has come so sudden that I don't think even my company knows exactly where I'll end up. This is causing some anxiety for us, as it could be someplace wonderful like Houston, or Salt Lake City, but it could also be North Dakota, or Southern California.

We will keep you up to date on how this progresses. Until then enjoy this picture of Owen.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

House Hunters International

So we found out today through a friend when our episode will be airing. November 10th at 8:30 PM on HGTV.

This is the preview:

"The Phillips family is leaving the security of their perfect life and big house in Utah to move to a small town in Sweden near the Arctic Circle. Eric will realize his dream of working internationally, while his wife Gini will have to quit her job and become a stay at home mom. Along with their one year old baby, they'll have to adjust their new lifestyle near the Arctic Circle, with its long, dark winters."

Stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Wedding and Fun

So I haven't blogged in a while and I apologize in advance that I don't have hardly any pictures. Anyways, a lot has happened. Gini and I returned to Sweden on the 22nd of September after spending 10 days in the US. We both realized that 10 days isn't enough. We got back and had a fun time with Mallory's wedding, Cache Valley, and Reese's blessing. In that order. Then the following week, I proceeded to work on our house. I was able to remove who-knows-how-many-years worth of english ivy from our front flower bed, and did some work on the roof. I had to hire out the last of the roof because I just couldn't do it anymore and I was beat. This desk job is really making me soft.

Anyways, we left on Sunday evening and then we had a long trip. Owen and I were both getting sick on the way, so it made it that much better. When we landed in Minneapolis we were able to grab the last three seats in business class for the flight to Amsterdam. That helped us all get a few extra hours of sleep and it was nice. However, any sleep we may have gotten on the flight was quickly erased when we came home with a sick, jet-lagged baby. Owen usually struggles for a week getting up at midnight until 4 am. Since he was sick we wouldn't know why he was awake and so we would go and check on him. So of course that would just let him know all he has to do is cry and he will get Mom and Dad out of bed. It has been a long week. At least now that Gini and I are getting over the jet lag we can go back to sleep if he wakes us up. Before we both would get up at midnight and just be up until 7 or 8.

With all the free time I have had in the dead of the night I have asked myself the same question a lot. WHAT ARE WE DOING IN SWEDEN?!?!? I don't know what it was about this trip, but it really made me homesick. I have been one who has always enjoyed an adventure and loved new things, and so far I have just been pretty happy-go-lucky about this move. Then I started to think what it would feel like if this adventure ended and we moved back to the US. It would be really sad for me. I miss a number of things in Utah, especially the hunting and fishing, but it is a great time being here. And won't it just seem like a breeze if we live on the East coast and have to take, heaven forbid, TWO flights home from Grandma and Grandpas, or even drive home! Anyways, this adventure is still fun, we are just gearing up for winter. The high the other day was 40, it is getting dark earlier and earlier. We lose about 30 minutes of daylight a week for the next 10 weeks.
The mountain pass between Norway and Sweden.

The Port of Narvik.

These are just two pictures from work. I am going to Norway again next week, and will take some more. We'll see if it looks different.