Saturday, August 26, 2006

How Perspectives Change...

Remember when we had one child, Annika, and we thought it was so difficult? Then we had Benjamin and began to realize how easy just one was! Of course, two was difficult, until we had Christopher, and wow - what a breeze it is to just have two! I have often wondered what it would take to make me think three was easy - a fourth?

The past week, we have been back at home after two months away, the bulk of the time spent at the Embassy Suites. Somehow this week has seemed surprisingly easy, and I just can't figure it out. Maybe the kids have gotten that little bit older... Maybe after two months of playing together they have finally figured it out... Maybe being back at home with familiar surroundings has calmed things... Maybe they are just happy to have their toys back... Maybe I'm just happy to be home... Maybe being at the Embassy Suites for 7 weeks was our "fourth child"... Whatever the case, this week has been great! The kids have been playing more together and they have been more cooperative. I have even begun to feel like a parent, rather than a firefighter.

This weekend, I have only Annika and Christopher - David has taken Benjamin to Copenhagen for an overnight with a good friend, but I just couldn't handle the thought of travelling again! Annika and Christopher have been so easy - I even had time to read a bit of a book - WOW!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Cultural Differences

I forgot how big the cultural differences could be between the US and Sweden. Two examples...

1) Critter Fest at the Science Spectrum - a big event, with tons of people, real tigers, snakes and other live things. Of course, with one adult and three kids, somebody was bound to get lost, and this time it was Christopher. I knew he was fine because we were in the basement level, and he wouldn't venture up stairs without me. After five minutes of "lost time", I saw a small crowd gathering behind the door to one of the exhibit halls - no exhibit, so a most unusual place to gather - and I knew Christopher was found.

A couple of days later, we were back at the Science Spectrum (minus critters) and I mentioned how Christopher had been lost in the crowd. Their response was a worried, "Well, we really need to have a policy about lost children - a total lockdown of all exits until the child can be found and returned." I was amazed by the paranoia. My response was that it would be useful to provide a sticky nametag with the parents' cell phone number to put on the kid's back so that somebody could call if they find them. Everyone was amazed when I wrote my cell phone number on each kid's arm... not exactly high tech, but it does wear off after a few days...

2) The Junk Food - We couldn't belive the amount of junk food, EVERYWHERE. Parents who had open drawers full of candy, shelves of cookes at kid level, chips and cokes, amusement parks that don't serve milk as an option... and the most disgusting of all, a hot-dog on a stick, wrapped in a chocolate chip pancake (which calls into question the appropriate condiment - mustard or syrup?) It is so nice to be back to our limited-selection grocery, something I never thought I would say!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Lubbock - a Vacation Paradise

This was not the way I planned the summer - 8 weeks in the Embassy Suites. But... it has actually turned out pretty well for the children despite circumstances. So why is Lubbock a vacation paradise?

1) We can count on hot sunshine, every day, without fail. No rain (despite a public prayer session that attracted national news), no cold weather - just blue skies and sun. I guess that after a few Swedish summers - which can be a contradiction in terms - we forgot to expect heat and sun!

1a) A sauna is not required after a swim. The kids are still looking for the sauna at every pool, just like at home, but with 100+ temps, standing outside is plenty good!

2) Lubbock has great outdoor activities. Outdoor parks like our neighborhood Wagner has been "remodeled" and even includes spinning chairs that work so well, the kids can't stop spinning! Legacy Village is an extensive play area, and there's even a water amusement park that we haven't even tried!

3) The local wildlife is plentiful and interesting. We got to stand in a field surrounded by cows - a first for me, too! I have never felt so watched.

4) And then there's the indoor stuff to do - camps and such, that don't exist in Sweden. I almost forgot about all the summer daycamps I used to do with the museum, church, YWCA, etc., and they're still there. Even better, the Science Spectrum offers exciting classes for kids from 3 to 12 that I would love to sign up for myself. Annika did "The Science of Games" for two days, and the boys did the open days - what fun!