Monday, July 21, 2008

Rodeo Queen

I picked up Annika at camp, after parents' day. We got there just in time for the rodeo, and all of the kids were barrel racing, followed by barrel weaving. Annika did a brilliant job, especially in barrel racing. She looked like a natural on Wildfire, and had no qualms about urging her into a gallop. Barrel weaving was a little harder, since Wildfire decided on speed, rather than chosing the proper path. But she still won both events for the younger girls... and I wouldn't be surprised if her barrel racing time was as good or better than the older girls. (Moms do get to brag sometimes.)
She would now like to ride every day when she gets back to Sweden, and compete - in barrel racing. Unfortunately, rodeo opportunities are few and far between there...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Poem

Annika wrote me a letter from camp with a poem - and I have had a smile all day!
You ar like the flawors that rest in the grownd
You ar like the birds that fly hi in the sky

Friday, July 18, 2008

Benjamin's Day

Benjamin got to spend a day and a night at camp to check it out. From all reports, it went really well. He did low ropes, fishing (and caught a fish!), soccer... and I'm not sure what else. He did the ropes with Annika, and enjoyed seeing her. I especially love the pics of soccer (courtesy of Rob, Benjamin in green) when he really goes for it, despite the fact that most of the other kids are twice his size.

His only difficulties were in changing his shirt and taking a shower. I am quite sure he would happily spend two weeks at camp in the same shirt. He did, however, help clean the cabin. I'm not sure I would believe it myself if I hadn't seen the evidence!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

His Last Day

Benjamin's last day at dagis - and we baked and decorated sugar cookies for everyone. We will miss his dagis, and it is hard to leave a place where he has had so much security and outstanding care and attention.

A Bit Homesick

Annika has now been at camp for almost two weeks, and tonight - at midnight - she called home. Seems she has been a bit confused about what country we are in, and it also seems as though she hasn't received any of the mail we have sent. Can you imagine? Two weeks of - sniff - mail call and - sniff - nothing - sniff - nothing - for you? Well, all should be better this next week as all the letters and packages we have sent start arriving. Apparently she has to sing in front of everyone if she receives three in one day, so I hope her voice is in good form. Next year --- FedEx!

We did receive two letters from her, and found out that in her first week she did softball (how American!), wonder (I wonder what that is...), nature, yoga (never would have guessed) and cooking. This week she is doing "cheer" - and really enjoying it. Just so she doesn't make it a career choice! Her English spelling is still very Swedish - "ples sej hi to the bojs"

Fish on Holiday

Yep, that's our fish tank. Or lack thereof. And if you look closely, you can see a little wet patch on the floor.

After our fiasco with too much food, we thought it best to move the tank and the eight hearty survivors to the living room. Seems two small boys together can get into trouble when they are supposed to be in bed. Imagine that.

So the aquarium service moved the tank yesterday, and then this evening I noticed a small puddle...

The aquarium service was fantastic - came out within 15 minutes, and in another 15 minutes had the fish packed up and out the door. They even had time to answer Benjamin's many questions - where were the fish going (on holiday), would they feed them (tomorrow), how much would they feed them (just a very little bit), would the same fish come back again (of course). As soon as we are ready, they will move everything back in again... maybe when school starts again.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Most Creative Child

I often wonder what life with an older Benjamin will be like. He is extremely creative, but not necessarily in traditional ways. What does it mean that he is creative? Well...
  • He can look through an entire toy catalog, finding tons of stuff he wants, but all of which he plans to use for some purpose other than what the toy was intended for.
  • He can ignore rooms full of toys in favor of boxes which he uses to build a play station for a cat...
  • His drawings are never entitled "Pirate ship" or "My family" but instead require long sagas to tell how each of the items got there and how each is related to the others...
  • He can look at a "find and seek" book, and instead of finding and seeking, he develops elaborate stories around each of the characters...
  • He has never (to my knowledge) colored in a complete picture or filled in a pattern, but prefers to "wing it". His drawings, though few, are elaborate and painstakingly detailed. (The boys made pärlplattor/bead pictures for Annika. Christopher's was a perfectly executed heart pattern. Benjamin's was a free-form of Annika's camp room.

So what has he done here? He has found a pile of blocks (remnants of a Swedish game) and built a house for a small kitten he saw. In this house, the kitten can find a warm bed and be protected from other predators (as long as they don't jump over the wall). The kitten can even take a shower (if it is raining) with the help of a leaf.

We have been so fortunate to find a daycare with outstanding staff. They really appreciate Benjamin's uniqueness, and allow his creativity full reign (as long as his stories don't get too fanciful). However, his last day there is tomorrow, and in August, he will start "real" school, though he will still officially be in "zero class". I only hope that his new teachers can find a way to channel his creativity into learning basic skills... but without squashing it. I only hope that I can be patient and enjoy his stories and creations...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Goodbye for 3 1/2 (long) Weeks

Annika really wanted to go to summer camp in Colorado this year. She went last year for just under two weeks, and this year, she wanted to stay for the whole 3 1/2 week session. We were a little apprehensive, but since we know the family and the camp so well, and since it is like my brother's second home, we decided to go for it.
So we had an amazing pancake breakfast at the Hungry Bear (This is what an American pancake looks like!) and dropped her off.
Last year, the drop-off was a bit tearful... but what can you do? Say "Gee, I'm sorry. This whole camp idea was a msitake. Forget the plan - she's coming home." Nope. You can't. And I heard that the first 24 hours were a bit rough, but after two weeks, we had to drag her away.

This year, she walked in the door, and a friend from last year said, "Annika! Where have you been? I've been waiting for you all day!" and all was well. We chose a bunk, spent 5 minutes making the bed, and then I started getting what my brother called "The Look" - the one that says enough, mom, you can go. So I went.
Somehow it seems much harder this year. Maybe it is because she is staying longer...maybe because I'm now a whole ocean away from her... maybe because I know I won't hear from her (she will have to write a letter home to get in to Sunday dinner, but by the time we get it on this end, we will already be gone)... but I'm sure she will have a great time, and I will still have to drag her away when it is time to pick her up.

(Blue Mountain Ranch -

A Girl Who Knows What She Wants... or not

Annika got to be a big girl and eat dinner with the grown-ups - Gail (my friend from Texas), Gina (Gail's 18-year-old daughter) and Teresa (Gina's best friend), me and David. Our visitors had heard about the Ice Bar, so we had to try it out. It was actually really fun, except my feet kept freezing to the floor, and it felt like I was walking on tape. We were issued warm capes for the event, and received our drinks (juice or vodka-juice) in glasses made of ice. Cheezy? You bet! Fun? Absolutely (or Absolut-ly).

Then dinner at Berns, which didn't turn out to be nearly as Swedish as we had intended. The restaurant is still notable for the fantastic decor, but Asian? Well, we enjoyed it anyway. For dessert, Annika and I ordered the same - something banana with vanilla ice cream. One bite each and we were convinced that vanilla it was not, so we asked the waitress. She investigated and reported back that the kitchen had run out of vanilla, and they thought to substitute something historical/traditional (yucky) instead, hoping we wouldn't notice. Annika was suitably unimpressed, so the waitress offered to comp the desserts and bring her an ice cream of her choice - what would it be? Peach, rasberry, iced banana or ?? Annika then asked for a taste of each to help her decide - and look what she got! In the end, we weren't crazy about the food, but the waitress got high marks!