Saturday, November 29, 2008


Benjamin: Mom, when you bleed, does blood run out of you?
Me: Yes.
Benjamin: And it never comes back?!?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Benjamin's Homework

Benjamin's homework this week is to learn his Christmas songs. I have just about got the one about the gingerbreadmen (I can handle cookies) but some of them are pretty difficult - words from long ago that I don't even know... or even a verse in Italian. Please. But one of them is "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" - I've got that one down!

And we had a meeting with Benjamin's school doctor - a standard thing for all the new zero-class kids. She wanted to know...
  • Why he didn't get enough sleep (because we have to wake him up most mornings)
  • Why we don't let him watch more Swedish TV (because, as she put it, a little input might help his language skills)
  • Whether we have fully appreciated the difficulty of being a middle child
  • Whether we are seeing a doctor sufficiently often for his glasses (like we have much say in that one - I think his appointment times are issued by the state)
  • Why he can't read yet

I must say, the last one really surprised me. Reading is not a given for preschoolers here, and if I tell a Swede that I learned to read when I was 5, they get a look of sorrow on their face and say something like, "oh, I'm so sorry." Because of course, by learning to read, I clearly must have missed out on some important playing time. So, we have been sort of hanging out, waiting for the kids to show interest, and not pushing the reading thing along until the school starts working on it. (Of course, if he had shown the least interest, I would have jumped on it!) Anyway, I now have a 7-year-old who can't read, and isn't expected to do so before next year. Scary.

So now I'm blogging while the kids are in front of Swedish Disney channel, watching dubbed American cartoons. Does that make me a better mother... or a worse one...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When a Phone Just Won't Do...

...but unfortunately, that was all we had. Yes, I had misplaced the camera... Though I usually carry it in my purse all the time, at some point I decided that the weight and space was just too much, so I took it out and put it... well... that was the problem. Where? So we spent the weekend without the camera. Here's what we missed (but captured on our camera phones) -

Benjamin's first innebandy match - and really, his first match ever. He won't play a "real" match in soccer/football for another year, so this was it. His team played a mini-tournament, and won the first two of three games. And an important note - he is actually wearing the safety glasses. Way to go!

And Annika's 9th birthday party. Somehow with the start of school and all the other activities, we missed organizing a birthday party for Annika, so we had it this weekend. It was a disco party for her class - soooo grown up! The highlights -
  • For a disco party, nobody really wanted to dance all that much. A tip I got from the web proved to be the saving element of the dancing - we hooked up our (rarely used) video camera to the TV so the kids could see themselves dance, real-time. Very cool, even though it was only in black-and-white (for some unknown technical reason).

  • The best game turned out to be a "guess who I am" game with cards stuck in headbands. The kids had to guess who was on their foreheads by asking questions of others - am I an animal? Am I a boy or girl? Do I have special powers? etc. I think it got off to a good start when one of the girls got Harry Potter and one of the boys got Tingaling (Tinkerbell).

  • Annika's presents were not toys - a real first. She got Hello Kitty makeup and perfume (strawberry and blueberry scent - sounds sticky to me) and Snoopy bath soap. Plus a few Hello Kitty t-shirts and a couple of books (Kitty = Nancy Drew).
So... that's it for the pics. Just goes to show you that a camera-phone is no match (yet) for a real camera, though it is better than nothing. (And I have now found my phone - so we're good to go!)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Weather... or Clothing

I am so glad the kids are growing up with the Swedish mentality of weather - there's no such thing as bad weather... it's just bad clothing. Last Saturday, the boys and I were out and about, and I felt the need to get some outside time. Yes, it was nearly dark (at 3pm), and yes, it was cold and nearly raining. But when I stopped at the lake for a walk/play, the boys didn't even blink. They just put on their jackets, ran outside and started climbing the highest thing they could find.

It's Hard to Get Mad When...

...they are working together so well to avoid bedtime. It was a bit too quiet upstairs, after a bit of bumping around, so I checked and found them drawing away. Of course, the moment I turn up, they both smile innocently, hold out their half-finished works of art, and say, "For you, Mama." Frankly, I find it hard to halt Benjamin's efforts - he draws and writes so rarely, I want to encourage it!

Incidentally, Christopher has now mastered the 11 letters of his name, but Benjamin (who is two years older) refuses to write all 9 of his. He now wants to be known as Benji, spelled BEN-G.
And now it is time to turn out the lights...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Creative One

All kids are different... and all have special skills. It's just that sometimes Benjamin's skills are not the ones that are appreciated. It is easy to praise a child for writing, reading, or excelling in school, but it is harder to put a measure on creativity. Whatever the measure, Benjamin must have it in spades. A couple of examples -

At lunch at a pizza restaurant, Benjamin fashioned a beautiful bracelet for me - out of two toothpicks, a rubber band and a Coke bottle label.

The boys got very quiet - too quiet - this afternoon. I found them in my scrapbooking supplies, and Benjamin had created and taped (!) a Darth Vader mask to his head.

As the resident toy expert, I can say that it is almost impossible to shop for him because he doesn't do anything "traditional" or in the way in which it was anticipated. I think for Christmas, he would be happiest with a pile of couch cushions and some string...

I remember these creativity classes from my time at Stanford - I didn't take one, but they always sounded like fun - like when you get three drinking straws, some string, a rubber band and an egg, and then you have to make something that moves by itself... or when you have to make something that dynamically creates a work of art. Benjamin will be the guy you want on your team - you might even want to sign him up right now!