Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Neil Family News, December 2007

Is It Dangerous?

We went through a whole spring with Benjamin’s favorite question, "Is it dangerous to…?" I almost didn’t sleep during our winter holiday, wondering if Benjamin would test our assertion that it was indeed dangerous to fall off a ski lift. But he survived, and the question finally moved on to other things, like whether it was Saturday (the day you get candy in Sweden) or where thieves come from.

At 6, Benjamin is taking an extra year at daycare before starting zero class in the fall. He also started soccer, and still enjoys hockey and gymnastics.

He loves money, especially coins of any type, and routinely sets up shop, reselling our household items (to us!). Fortunately, quantity is still more important than quality, and a prize item can be had for a handful of pocket change.

Benjamin became a fisherman this summer. Armed with a net and a bucket, he managed to single-handedly impact the local minnow population. In one weekend, he caught over 100 tiny fish, feeding them and petting them, until we finally convinced him to let them go. He would like a pet of any kind for Christmas, preferably a polar bear or a dolphin.

Growing Too Fast

After being introduced to High School Musical in January, Annika hasn’t stopped dancing. She is ready to go to East High, despite being only 8. The highlight of her year was when HSM 2 came out!
She has grown up so much this year - toys are now passé, and she wants a mobile phone for Christmas... though what she would do with one is a mystery to us, since none of her friends have one.
Annika spent two weeks at a summer camp in Colorado this year – with a bit of separation anxiety, mostly from us. She had a great time, and is ready to try a longer stay next summer, if David and I can handle it.
Annika loves skating, riding, football and gymnastics, and can often be found upside-down, practicing her handstand. She loves school and computer games. She is the family member who figures out how to program the latest device!

A Big Four
Christopher is excelling in his ability not to master language. We start speech therapy in January, when we will begin to understand how we can help him to be understood. His favorite word is "happen", which sneaks its way into all possible sentences, and consonants appear to be interchangeable. Truthfully, he really isn’t bothered about who understands him – he just sails through life with a grin and a high five.
Christopher loves games of any kind. Sleeping Queens (leeping tweens) is a current favorite. He also loves skiing, despite straining his knee at the ripe old age of three. He is now four, by the way, a fact that he won’t let you forget, and is eagerly awaiting his fifth birthday, a mere six months away.
He is a bit confused by the whole Santa thing, mixing Santa Lucia (a Swedish tradition) with Santa Claus. At the Lucia celebrations on December 13th, he chose not to be a "star boy", an elf or a gingerbread man, all traditional costumes, but preferred to dress as Superman (until convinced otherwise).
His stubbornness is legendary, showing itself most in his abject refusal to eat anything green. Grapes, cucumbers and peas are cause for total meltdown.

Lessons from 2007
We have learned a lot over the past year... important things like which head wounds require stitches, that ski boots are machine washable, and that a small crack in the ceiling can lead to major home repairs. We have mastered flight schedules to Helsinki (David’s second home) and Geneva (the family’s second home), and actually managed to take our first, real, stroller-free vacation. We even survived Disneyland Paris without losing a child!
When things at ABC Leksaker (Leigh’s internet toy business) began to get crazy a few weeks ago, Annika suggested I shut down before Christmas so it wouldn’t be so busy. But I kept going, and ABC Leksaker has had a great year - hopefully facing imminent profitability.
David’s company Genesta launched two property funds and purchased six buildings, giving David something to crow about, and something to keep him from sleeping 8 hours a night.
We wish you a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year!
The Neils

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