Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Would This Song Make the Charts in Lubbock, Texas?

Doubtful. And I can't even believe it is on the playlist here, but I have actually heard it more than once. The song title - and most of the words in the song - are "You've got the sweetest ass in the world" - and pretty much nothing else. Go figure.

(I feel I should apologize for objectionable content, but if you really want confirmation that the song exists, you will find it - where else? - on YouTube.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Say It BooZoo

After spending a bit of time in Switzerland, the kids have picked up a few words of French. Annika can count to five, Benjamin knows the response to "Ca va?" (which is, of course, "Ca va!"), and Christopher... well.... let's just say he's not a linguist. We have worked on "Bonjour" (Good morning) and he's getting there... A couple of days ago he kept asking me "How say it BooZoo", and got increasingly frustrated at my failure to understand. Finally we figured it out. What he meant was "How do you say it in French", which he calls "Bonjour" - or "BooZoo". Now we know.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Harbor Day!

Every year, Stocksund has its harbor day celebration. Weather can be iffy, but there's usually a good crowd and lots of exciting things to see - fire trucks, police boats, coast guard cruisers, helicopters and more. The kids had a blast this year and the weather cooperated. We just let the kids have free reign while we socialized with the neighbors, and the kids came and found us from time to time, mostly when they wanted money. We ended up taking 5, our three plus two from the neighborhood. Annika was really excited about getting to drive a real boat - I guess she doesn't remember driving ours last summer... Christopher loved the helicopter, and Benjamin was on a hunt for fish.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Conversation Opener

Annika's school class had a garden party this evening, with parents and siblings included. When we arrived, Benjamin immediately struck up a conversation with two of the moms. "Are there any snakes here" he asked. "No, not here. Why?" they replied. "Because I want to find them and kill them." When the moms patiently explained that we don't usually hunt for snakes, Benjamin asked, "Well, what is there here that we can kill?" Really - he's actually a very sweet little guy...

Difficult Choices

Sometimes it is hard to take a slower road. I chose to give up consulting when I had children - it didn't really fit with what David and I wanted for a home life. Starting ABC Leksaker seemed like a great opportunity... though different from the path I had pursued up until now. Don't get me wrong - I love what I'm doing, and it fits the family perfectly. I can generally work from home, the hours are flexible, and what doesn't get done... well, it just doesn't.

But even at ABC Leksaker, I have made some strategic choices. First, no store. I just can't see how I could fit in the time to manage a store, and still pick the kids up by 3 (ok.. 4...) And trying to handle inventory between what's out on the web and what's in the shop - a coordination nightmare that I haven't even begun to deal with. And time? It takes time to make the warehouse ready for company - it is still a warehouse - and it takes time to provide good customer service. And time is the thing I just don't have. So no store. But... when people do come in to shop, they always leave with much more than if they shop online. And now an on-line competitor is opening up a shop just around the corner from the house (and office)...

Second, no catalog. I priced it once, and tried to calculate how large the print run would have to be to generate enough orders to cover the cost. Even at a conservative print run, we would still have to several times the orders that we currently fill, and we don't even have the stock to make that happen. But another competitor just sent out their summer catalog last week, and it was awesome. There were even things in there that I wanted to order...

So what can I do? I guess I can enjoy the results of the choices I have made - more time with the kids, but a smaller (and less profitable) company.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Djursholm Uniform

Odd Molly is the hottest thing going in Sweden - or at least in Djursholm. I broke down and bought this "Granny sweater" (though I might not have bought it if I had known what it was called). Odd Molly isn't cheap, but it does feel wonderful to wear. And I can even imagine that I look this good in it - though my sweater is a somewhat larger size...

And then I go out to pick up the kids at some activity and three other moms are wearing the same sweater. Or until I go to Täby centrum and pass three other people in the same sweater. At least it comes in different colors! I always wondered how long it would take me to fit in here - nine years and counting!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Cabbage Problem

I would like to do my part to save the world. Of course, driving around in our mini-van probably isn't helping... so when I heard about Årstiderna (, fresh ecological produce delivered to your door, I signed up. I even relished the challenge of using the weekly recipies to find new family favorites.

Now for the reality. I can always manage to get through the kilo of carrots, and with planning, can make the two kilos of potatoes disappear. The occasional cucumber and bell pepper are gone before they even make it to the fridge. Apples - easy peasy. But then there are those mysterious black roots that look like dirt, that have to be cleaned and then soaked with lemon so they won't look like dirt again...

And then there's the Cabbage. I don't mind cabbage, really, I don't. But every week? I never knew there were so many different kinds. In my fridge right now, we have the past months' leftovers - a roundish pale cabbage, a pointy green cabbage, a purple and green cabbage, and half of a greenish one. Yes, folks - half a cabbage a month is about my consumption rate, but the delivery seems to be weekly.

Last week, I switched to a different box - more ready-to-eat veggies and less cabbage (I hope). We'll see how we do!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being a Soccer Mom

Actually, I'm thrilled to be one. All three kids are in our local Stockan football and seem to really enjoy it. Well, actually, I'm not, and would like to be, but there's no place for 42-year-olds who missed the soccer boat in Lubbock, Texas.

I can remember Rob playing soccer - going to the games with three-year-old teams, and over-excited parents screaming things like, "Stop picking the flowers and kick the ball!" At the time, I was glad to miss out, and considered myself lucky to not be a part of it. But now, I long to be as good as David (though even if I had played as a three-year-old, I guess that isn't too likely). At a minimum, it would be nice to have some idea of what's going on in the game.

So, I now own my very first pair of soccer cleats, and am working on dribbling. Of course, I did what I always do, and searched the net for tips on how to be a good soccer parent. I can highly recommend, which even has video clips for the more clueless among us.

Oh and by the way - next time, I'm ordering myself a Stockan sweatshirt!

"Mom, has it already been summer?"

We have had a week of absolutely stellar weather - "strålande" as they say here. We went from mud to sun almost overnight, and we have thrown off the snowsuits and put on shorts instead. Of course, it is still May, and the forecast for next week is for more of the jackets... but we will take what we can get.

The kids and I have had a wonderful weekend - two days outside with swinging, fishing (with no hooks - strange that we didn't catch anything, but we won't point that out to Benjamin who was sure the fish were nibbling on his line), pic-nic-ing, playing football/soccer, biking, jumping rope, jumping on the trampoline, building/destroying forts in the forest, and just generally hanging out in the sun.

The highlights were:
  • Annika and I managed to play soccer together for nearly two hours without her getting frustrated. I might even be getting a bit better...
  • Benjamin got to fish, after asking about it each and every day of the whole, long winter. Despite a solitary venture to the harbor on Saturday evening (without my knowledge!), we managed to make a more organized fishing mission on Sunday, complete with life jacket.
  • Christopher and I took a bike/run together, which was great fun, great fitness, and pretty much wore us out!
  • The threesome played nicely together for two days in a row at the same park, taking turns doing tricks and "giving fart" on the dish-swing.
  • Benjamin got a new bike - after hours of research on the internet, trying to find exactly what I/he wanted (me - 20 inch, foot brake, 3 gears; him - light blue).
Of course, as I mentioned to the gang that next week's weather might be somewhat cooler than today's balmy 25 C (80ish F), Benjamin - with his gap-smile - asked in all seriousness, "Mom, has it already been summer?"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Dog or the Baby

I went to a parent networking group last night related to elementary school children with speech disorders. Though it was recommended by Christopher's speech therapist, I wasn't actually sure I needed to go to the group, as the boys are still a bit young, and seem to have more of a speech delay than a severe speech disability. I even missed the first hour (another football game - might as well move there) which ended up being about dyslexia. We're not there yet, so I don't know if we'll have problems with reading.

In the end, I did feel a connection, though many of the parents had situations (autism, epilipsy) that made our boys seem lucky. However, at least their children have a word or a diagnosis that allows them to get the help and extra resources they need. I have always been mystified at how we would know the severity of a speech problem - when they couldn't speak, then it was obvious. But now that they are speaking pretty fluently (or at least Benjamin is), it is harder to tell where they are in relation to their peers. The most telling comment of the evening was when we were discussing how a speech delay can make children have a hard time making friends. The back-and-forth of conversation on the playground can make it difficult to stay with the game if you don't understand everything. Children with speech delays are often relegated to playing "the dog or the baby" in games because these are the roles that don't require much - if any - speech. How interesting that the kids on the playground are more aware of our childrens' speech delays than we are ourselves.

The other comments that worried me were around how a delay in speech can impact so much of school later on. As speech progresses, active and passive vocabulary grow. Vocabulary continues to grow with reading, but speech delays tend to go hand in hand with reading difficulties, thus contributing to the problem.

And then I had a chance to feel extremely fortunate with our choice of dagis. Each day, when I drop off the boys, I feel that they are genuinely welcomed, not just tolerated. They have received special attention and assistance, and none of it has ever been presented to me as a burden or a hardship on the part of the personnel (as some of the parents in the group had experienced).

Ah well - bigger kids, bigger problems... and we're just getting started!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Football - Finally!

Christopher starts football today - a year early according to "Stockan", and a year late, according to him. He has been ready since Benjamin started last year, and has been waiting for today. He will soon get his football school uniform in Stockan colors (yellow and black), but in the meantime, he is proudly wearing his new Team Sweden outfit.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Battle of the Brains

After a gorgeous May 1st holiday, the next day (squeeze-day Friday) wasn't so great weather-wise. After joining the hoardes of Americans at the embassy to get Christopher's passport renewed (apparently we weren't the only ones with the idea), the kids and I trooped over to Tekniska Museet.
We tried our hands - or heads - at a new exhibit that measures brain waves. The trick is to be as focused as possible, and as calm as possible, so that your resulting brain waves will move the ball across the table to your opponent. I thought I was awesome when I got the ball on my end the first few times, but before I declared myself the champion, I looked again at the rules and realized that I had lost to Annika - three times! Annika turned out to be the champion, soundly defeating even Christopher, who nearly fell asleep he was so concentrated.
Of course, the kids had the most fun being human guinea pigs in the giant wheel...and Annika especially loved the photo booth that made her look like a bizarre space alien.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Wonderful Surprise

We were invited to Leonor's 30th birthday party on the 1st of May... or at least so we thought. We managed to find a babysitter (amazing - found her on, which hooks up neighbors), and went to the restaurant. We sat down for drinks with Leo, Christer, Christer's mom, Christer's two brothers, and their girlfriends. As they served champagne, Leo and Christer suggested we go out for photos on the water. As we got there, a women from the city hall turned up and commented on the view. For a moment, I thought she was some new guide service from the city, until she announced that she was there to marry Leo and Christer, and opened up her book. We were all so surprised - and happy for them. It was a very beautiful ceremony by the waters' edge. (Annika is now ready for them to have children - hopefully a girl - because of course, that's what automatically happens after you get married.)