Monday, March 30, 2009

Expanding his Vocabulary

I hadn't realized how sheltered my children are - in English. Benjamin and I are on a ski weekend with my friend Gaelle and her two boys, one a few months older than he is, one a few months younger.

As we drove from the airport to the house (2+ hours) the boys got acquainted in the back seat. After exploring DS games and comparing levels, talk soon turned (as it does with little boys) to bodily functions. After much discussion, they determined that what Benjamin calls a "toot" (a word chosen by David and myself) is really a "fart". However, the descriptions of that particular bodily function so that all could understand and agree on the concept were quite hysterical.

I am pleased to report that by the end of the weekend, Benjamin's English vocabulary will surely include fart, testicle and vagina. Precisely what any self-respecting 7-year-old needs to know!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


We love Crans-Montana, and all that it gives us - time to be together as a family, time to get away from the day-to-day, time to forget about TV (sometimes) and play some games. But the diet is getting to me. The kids are slowly (slowly, slowly) trying new things, but the staple is still pasta in all forms. Pasta bolognese, pasta marinara, pasta natur (Benjamin's favorite)... And yes, that is pasta sauce all the way up to Christopher's eye.
We're also working on instilling a love for French pastries - something that is harder than I thought it would be. David and I love the croissants, pain au chocolat, chausson au pommes - but the kids spend their time dreaming of a kardamum kringla or kanelbulle. C'est la vie!

Skiing with Cousins

This year, we made a real point of being in Switzerland at the same time as our Texas cousins. Their spring break always falls somewhere between our sportlov and Easter, but we haven't seem them in two years and it was time to make an effort. And since Benjamin and Christopher aren't required to be in school - this year - we took a few days off. Here are a few pictures of the kids and cousins -

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Clearly Ahead of the Season

Mother Nature was not pleased. The boys and I decided to take a little pre-season bike ride down to the harbor to watch the boats "hibernate". Even though the roads were covered with gravel - and there were some icy patches - we managed to enjoy the ride without injury. But as soon as we got home, it started to snow, and didn't stop for three days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The First of Many..., I mean. Victories, I wish.

Annika had her first "cup" match, where several teams compete, have play-offs and receive awards, all in one afternoon. Efficient but long. It started at 2 on a gray Sunday afternoon and finished at 8. Six hours of 15-minute matches. Whew.

I was hoping they wouldn't be in last place... so hoping that they would at least win one game... and they did! They won their first match and got off to a good start, finishing in third place. (Annika is reading the post as I write, and points out that there were eight total teams, just so you readers wouldn't think there were only three!) She came home proudly wearing her first football (soccer) medal and a big smile. (Annika is the one in the middle.)

David and I did half duty each - I watched the first half of the day, and then we traded places. We have another cup in three weeks, and then an "overnight" football camp - all pre-season. I hate to think what our schedule will be in May, and what it will be a few years from now, when all three children are involved. But for now, it is fun to figure out the system and great to have a winning team!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

End of the Season

No, not the end of the winter season, as we still have a couple of months to go... but since the kommun only subsidizes the outdoor ice rink for three months, there's no more ice for general skating and hockey.
We said farewell to hockey yesterday, on a typically gray Saturday in March, with Abba's Mamma Mia belting out of the ice rink's loudspeakers.

As much as I have dreaded hockey each Wednesday and early on Saturday mornings, I will miss it. I'm getting better at getting the boys dressed - in the proper order and with the skates on the right feet - and they're getting better at moving the dressing process forward as well. As much as Benjamin has complained before each and every hockey practice, he has improved in his skating and seems to actually enjoy his time on the ice. And David and the boys have found Jeff and William, an American dad and son from Benjamin's school, that they can play with after Saturday practices. David even bought himself a hockey helmet and stick for their games.

I will also miss the social aspect of hockey practice. There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee at the rink to get parents to chat with each other... and though 9am on Saturday is not my first choice of practice time, it does get us up and out of the house on some of the most dreary days of the winter season.

But I am truly afraid that Benjamin's hockey days may be permanently over. I have now read Outliers, and have learned that the first key to being a great hockey player is having a birthday early in the year - almost all of the professional hockey players are born in January, February and March. With two June birthdays, my boys are not the biggest or the most skilled on the ice, compared to kids who are four to six months older then they are. Benjamin's hockey group has already been "picked over" by the real team, and the better players have already moved on - this at age 7. Christopher has at one to two years of hockey to go before things get selective, but I'm not sure where Benjamin will fit in next year.
That said, I don't really want to have a hockey kid, nor do I want to be a hockey mom. When I hear of hockey practices starting in August for elementary school age kids... 14-year-olds who spend 20 hours a week in hockey practice... 8am ice times on both Saturday and Sunday... matches in distant towns with wintery road conditions... I just want them to continue having fun on the ice a couple of times a week. I hope we can find that next year.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Bästis come... bästis go...

There's a book on my list - Queen Bees and Wannabes - that I think I need to start. There's just something about girls that they have to find that "best friend" and lock themselves in... and the manipulation and strategy that goes into being at the top of the social structure is truly amazing.

Annika was part of a threesome, as the third, and was miserable. Then she gave up on the threesome and negotiated a "bästis" deal with another girl, but when it came right down to it, this girl was never Annika's first choice of playmate. It was like the proverbial light bulb when we discussed how you actually have to WANT to play with / spend time with your bästis (or best friend).

And then Annika ended up playing more with M, who is also without a "bästis" - and they really hit it off - a "bästis" possibility! Both love to ride, and like being at the stables. It has been a real bonus for me because they go to Annika's riding lesson together, and I no longer have to help with the horse - or even be there. And then they joined at the hip, playing together every day at school, after school, etc.

But then yesterday... the two of them wanted to walk to the stables after school together, and hang out with the horses. This seems to be a generally ok thing to do, so I agreed. But somewhere along the way, K joined in the group, and then... somehow... M and K locked Annika into a horse stall with a horse that was known to be unfriendly - a biter. A reported 20 minutes later (which was probably more like 5) they returned to let her out. She was in tears (understandably), and called me to come and pick her up.

Now, a day later, they're friends again, but I think Annika will be more hesitant about giving away her "bästis" stamp of approval. And we have discussed the fact that it is perhaps better to have many friends, and not fall into an "exclusive" relationship.

Happy Anavursy

well, close enough - and yes, we have now been married 11 years! David and I were actually apart on the actual day, since he had taken Annika skiing with his friend Simon and our godson Daniel. But we made up for it - with this nice table setting that Annika prepared for our family dinner, and later in the week with a massage and dinner at the best restaurant in Crans-Montana.
Not to get sappy, but I must say that after 11 years, my husband is still surprising me in new and wonderful ways. I look forward to many more years together!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ski Lift

With three kids trapped in the ski lift, I managed to snap a few photos. Of course, this was the best of the 10 I took... with both Annika and Benjamin with nearly natural smiles, and Christopher at least looking at the camera. And you can see the remnants of a spaghetti lunch...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Homework, Please...

"Mom, I go homework school efter sommaren?" Christopher asks, with his usual Swenglish.

"Yes, next fall, you will start at the big school, and then you will have some homework." I answer.

"Mom, you BUY me homework soon?" he asks, apparently not willing to wait for the fall.

I only hope he is so interested in homework when it finally comes!

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Best Invention

"Mom, I have the best idea ever - one that will make everyone in the world soooo happy!" Benjamin says.

"It's gonna be a machine that takes that stuff... from dead people... what's that stuff that floats around again..."

"Their soul?" I suggest.

"Yeah - the soul. The machine is gonna suck up all the souls from all the dead people and squirt them into new humans."

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Feast or Famine

Annika reads... occasionally... but not usually with a passion. She likes fantasy, and I think if she was a couple of years older, Harry Potter would have been her series, the one that would take her from being an every-now-and-again reader to a when-is-the-next-one-coming-out reader. "Bella, the Bunny Fairy" and the other fairy books held her interest for a while, but nothing compelling.

Last week, we were on holiday in Switzerland, and I handed her a new book - Inkheart - that I had found online. I was pretty doubtful she would get past the first page... it is over 500 pages, and in English, which is not her reading language of choice. And the grade level was listed as 4-8, a bit ahead of where she is. But once she read the first page, she was hooked. She enjoyed the skiing, but longed to get home and read again. She took the book to bed with her, and came out every half hour to report on her progress. She has now finished about a third of the book, and is so proud of herself - and I'm proud of her, too. Even better - there are two more in the series, and several others by the same author - so we're set for a while.