Monday, April 28, 2008

Rising to the Occasion

Christopher is in the midst of speech therapy, and most of it has been focused on pronunciation. He can say "s", but tends to drop it when it is combined with another consonant. Thus snow becomes no, spider is pider, and school is cool. (He has other anomolies, like "outkide" for outside, but we haven't gotten there yet...). We have been working on the Swedish S+K, S+N and S+M a lot, but lately he has gotten extremely tired of being corrected - completely understandable. Moreover his "work" from the speech therapist, which was previously so fun and important, is now boring and pushed aside.

I thought we needed to inject some fun - and some English - in the whole scheme of things, so I enlisted Annika to help. First, we made a list of all the English S+consonant nouns we could find (spiderman, snow, screw, sponge), and tried to highlight the ones which were also S+consonant in Swedish (spindelman, snö, skruv, svamp). Then we went on a 5-minute treasure hunt around the house to find objects that we could use in a game. We did pretty well, and managed to assemble enough for a fairly challenging "what is missing" game. Then Annika invited Christopher - fresh from his bath, wet hair and diaper - to play a new game. And Annika was a total star! She was patient, engaging, and fun. She gave soft hints when needed, and kept Christopher focused and interested, and most importantly, not angry or frustrated. And Christopher loved the attention from his sister.

Now the next challenge will be a game for Benjamin tomorrow (he was feeling a bit left out).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Soccer Revisited

and they won! Yes, they played again and won 1-0! The goalie (Ellen) was exceptional, and didn't even cry once. Annika and I have started soccer drills at home to get better... we'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Soccer Trauma

Annika had her first football match...

The team started strong, with Emma as goalie, but then Täby kicked their first goal to lead 1-0. Emma almost saved the second goal, but the ball bounced off her knees, straight back to the kicker who had another go. The ball bounced off Emma again, buth this time it went in to the goal. (2-0 Täby) She dissolved into floods of tears, and was comforted by the team before being replaced by Lydia. After Täby scored their 3rd goal (3-0), Lydia burst into huge sobs, and was replaced by Emma (again). Then early in the second half, Emma stopped a goal with her head, more tears, and Annika stepped in to fill the position. Täby kicked a hard ball, high, and Annika tried to stop it with her thumb. She started crying, partly because her thumb hurt, and partly because she didn't save the goal. (At this point, the coach was looking a bit frustrated.) So finally, Paulina stepped in and managed to survive yet another goal. Final score? 5-0 Täby, and four girls who will not be so eager to play goalie again. Hope the second game goes better!

Sunday, April 13, 2008


What else is there to do on a rainy day? Well, we decided to try bowling. Here are links to the kids' techniques -

Annika races for the line, stops short, then rolls the ball.

Benjamin throws his whole body into it, managing to end up on his knees after every turn.

Christopher just wants the ball to make it to the pins before the computer calls an error (for taking too long) and resets.

It's a good thing the kids had the railings - Annika ended up winning, though she had a railing bounce or two with every turn!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It's Just Not Me

Yes, I do come from Texas. And no, I don't ride. However, the Texas genes may have skipped a generation. You see, Annika loves horses and riding, and I just - well - don't. But that doesn't excuse me from having to help her rein and saddle a horse, which is a frightening prospect for both of us. I really should learn how to do it. I really should believe them that the horse wants the bit in his mouth, that if I put my fingers right by his jaw I won't get bitten, that the whole process is really easy. I should exude confidence as I chase those teeth around with the metal bit, throw the reins over his head, and ensure that he doesn't run away before we get him ready. But I don't. Instead, I look for one of the moms who rides regularly, or as we did today, beg a 9-year-old to help us. Pathetic. Please don't let my lack of enthusiasm affect Annika's enjoyment of the sport...

The Generosity of Sweden

I have always joked about the birthday presents I get from the Swedish government. When I turned 40, I got a mammogram. 41 was a pap smear, and 42 - though a bit belated - was another mammogram. For anyone who has had one, it's not such a great present, giving someone the opportunity to have their breast squished between two plastic plates to the point of intense pain... but it's the thought that counts... even more so yesterday, when I got "recalled" based on last week's pics.

It was a tense night, with an appointment time today, and lots of reassuring chatter from the nurse, saying that many, many women get recalled. So I was back this morning for more pictures, 6 more mammogram shots and two ultrasounds on different machines, and then they decided on a biopsy. Just for reference, it does not feel like the mosquito bite that was promised. And also, just for reference, one is not enough. So just when you thought it was over...

Now for the waiting. And to the dictionary to find out what a "bindvävsknuta" is (something benign - and hopefully what I have).

I was extremely impressed by their thoroughness, but the parting moments were less than reassuring. Though all of the radiologists and nurses had been encouraging, reassuring and exemplary, the receptionist at the end did not give me my promised time with the "breast doctor" next week, and then charged me 200 kr for the analysis of the results. She then presented me with a "high cost" card, to keep track of all these small payments and ensure that my medical bills do not exceed a certain amount. I am so not ready for that card. Please.

(Update - apparently I don't have anything dangerous, just a "friendly change" that they will check again in 9 months. Whew!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Slings and Tooth Fairies

Of course, the last hour of the last day of the ski holiday, Annika managed to fall - hard - on her arm. We had to pick her up and take her in for x-rays, to make sure nothing was broken. The doctor studied the x-rays, took more, and then pronounced her arm as "écrasée", which in my French means crushed. I looked and looked at the x-rays, and tried to clarify that - to me - écrasée meant "petits morceaux" or small pieces. But apparently, it just means "contusion", which I had to look up on the internet when I got home. Bruise. Sling for 10 days (she managed to keep it on for 5 before she got fed up). Whew.

And Benjamin lost a front tooth, and now looks so "six". Of course, David and I were deep into three episodes of 24, and forgot that the tooth fairy should have come. Bad parents. But she came the next night. I promise - we'll do better next time!

The Year of the Mud

I guess the Chinese stick to animals when it comes to years - Year of the Pig, Year of the Cat, stuff like that. However, I will remember the winter of 2007/8 as the Year of the Mud. I'm not actually sure winter came this year, and it certainly didn't spend a lot of time freezing. The boys came home with brown snowsuits every day - though blue was the original color. The amount of mud that has been through our washing machine could surely plant a large tree, and one may even be growing in our drain pipes as we speak. So here I sit, ready for bed, but the washing machine is holding the boys' snowsuits captive for another thirty minutes.

That said, perhaps it is better that winter was mild, since we were missing an outer wall in the kitchen for most of December, January and February. But next year, some freezing weather would be nice...

Who Can You Believe?

As a small internet business owner, I am innundated with junk e-mail. Lately, I have received a couple of bloggers inviting me to "allow" them to write reviews of my products on their well-read blog. Sure, go ahead - write an independent review. But it isn't, is it? Because somewhere in the gist of their message, they surely want me to pay for their review.

So I checked out their blogs, just to see what they were writing that was so popular, and deserving of - what would you call it - unofficial advertising? Bribery? One woman had no kids and a tattoo, and wrote mostly about fashion. How toys would fit in to her readership is a bit of a stretch for me.

The other one was a mom of three, who had a poorly formatted blog which she updates seemingly 3-4 times a day, full of photos of her 3-month old, 4-year-old (and a surprisingly absent 8-year-old) and her shopping experiences. It looked to me like she empties her shopping bags each time she had been out for a major shopping trip (once a week?!?) and took a photo of each item, uploaded it and gave it a title. Her counter said she had 192,000 hits. Amazing. I don't think I get any hits (there must be a counter somewhere), and at least I try to be somewhat interesting. Would I want to be read by 192,000 people? Doubtful. Would my children like their cute/embarassing stories read by that many? Certainly not. Anyway, now to draft a polite but firm no way message, and invite them to review any products they see fit.