Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not Exactly What Hermes Intended...

It was quiet, too quiet. The boys were up in their room, playing peacefully. As usual, they were building a fort in and under Benjamin's bed. But when I went upstairs...

There was a time when my dad didn't know what to get me for birthday and Christmas. I was living overseas, so small packages were essential. And I was a Business Consultant, suits and all. So he settled on Hermes scarves. I have quite a collection that I really haven't used in... hmmm... the past 10 years or so.

Anyway, it was quite refreshing to see my scarves again - as walls for Benjamin's and Christopher's fort!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Missing Out on the Muppets

A friend sent through a link on Facebook to two great classic videos from the Muppet Show. I showed them to Annika, but the results were mixed. The first one -

she thought was pretty funny... but the second one -

she didn't get at all.

"He's not speaking Swedish," she said.
"I know - that's kind of the point," I replied.
"But I can't understand him," she insisted.
"I know - that's kind of the point. You're not supposed to understand what he is saying."

At that point, she just said she didn't think it was so funny, and couldn't we click on something else? Oh well, maybe if we had called him the Norwegian Chef...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Day of School

A bit belated, but here it is - the first day of school (in August)... surely a sign of the chaos of the fall that it has taken me almost a month to post the picture.

Notable details:
  • Annika - age 10, starting 4th grade at Stocksundsskolan. Favorite books - anything by Cornelia Funke (author of Inkheart and more). Favorite activity - anything to do with horses. Rides twice a week, taking a course to be a hästskötare (horse carer - responsibility for a horse 2 days a week). Activities - horseback riding, soccer, guitar.
  • Benjamin - age 8, starting 1st grade at Danderyds Montessori. Creativity unleashed. Concentration untamed. Loves watching absolutely anything on TV. Loves fishing. Spends spare time imagining traps for "bad guys". Favorite books - Bernstein Bears on Vacation. Activities - horseback riding, soccer, golf.
  • Christopher - age 6, starting kindergarden (förskoleklassen) at Stocksundsskolan. Loves Star Wars. Training to be a Jedi warrior when not playing football/soccer. Favorite books - Kasper spelar fotboll (Casper plays soccer) and Harold and the Purple Crayon. Activities - soccer, swimming.

Out of Touch

When Annika took over my old phone a few months ago, we had a deal - only "kontantkort" (a pay-as-you-go plan), and I would load up the phone with 100 SEK every month (about $14). Anything else she would have to fund herself. It went pretty well - though the 100 turned into 150 because that's what's easier to do on the website, and things sailed along over the summer. Then September came, school stared, friends came back...

On the 1st of September, I put the usual 150 SEK on her phone. By the 4th, it was gone. It has been hard to wait for a new payment, and we still have 2 weeks to go. And it hasn't just been hard on Annika... Of course, since she has no money on her phone, she doesn't take it with her as she comes home from school and bikes to her various activities. I can't call her to find out where she is, and I have been worried a few times. On the flip side, she can't call me either - 5 times within 5 minutes - to badger me into becoming her personal taxi service. So far it has been a somewhat healthy couple of weeks, and just a couple more to go.

By the way, all the phone companies would like our business. I have tried to tell them that if the came up with a kids' plan that allows unlimited calls to parents, yet operates with a cut-off system like the cash card system, they will get our business. Unfortunately, nobody has figured it out yet...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Made Your Bed...

Yesterday, Benjamin was very angry with us because we wouldn't let him watch tv (typical). He stormed upstairs, and emptied all of his excess playground sand from his pockets... into his own bed. And yes, he did sleep there last night. Learning to live with the consequences!

Monday, September 07, 2009

No Swimming Today

Christopher is so close to swimming... so very, very close... that we decided to sign him up for swimming lessons this fall.

First hurdle - choosing the right level. Can he really float on both front or back (the requirements for level 2) or should he really be in level 1 (which is just one step above having parents in the water with the child). He doesn't willingly float on his back... but he doesn't need me either, so we go for Level 2.

Second hurdle - choosing the class. Do we go for the "max of 5 students per teacher" or the "up to 15 students per teacher"? Option 1 is more than twice the price of option 2... but we go for that, assuming that he will get a better push and more individual instruction.

Then comes the first day. Level 2 is right, but Option 1? Seems as though Option 1 (max 5 kids) has all the ones who really should have been in Level 1, the ones who won't put their heads under the water. And the Option 2 class (at less than half the price) has 6 kids enrolled. Bad choice. But week 2 was better, and he seems to be making progress.

So in typical multitasking, I decide it will be a good time to get a playdate together for Benjamin - a friend to swim with while Christopher is busy in his lessons (and I'm trying a few laps to burn off my extra wine and cheese consumption). Week 3 goes well, and I organize week 4.

Reality intrudes. The boys decide - on Sunday afternoon, while I'm trying to read (a rare event these days) and David is napping on the couch - to play doctor by investigating each other's ears. Christopher comes downstairs in floods of tears, clutching his ear. So no future medical careers...

One doctor's visit later, I am thoroughly impressed by the design of the human body. Why else would the ear canal be s-shaped than to avoid serious damage from small doctor-playing-boys? Anyway, no serious damage, but no swimming for a few days either...

Which leads to a playdate at home, with 4 boys.... still wondering how the house survived.

We'll try it again next week!

All in Perception

We spend a lot of Sunday evenings having dinner with our neighbors at our local restaurant - the Stocksund Hamnkrog. It is perfect - no cooking at the end of the weekend, and we can bike there and back as a family. Even better, there's a park, a dock, boats, a tiny (really tiny) beach (actually it's just a bunch of sand dumped over the rock wall of the harbor, but it works for us) - so the kids can go and play while the adults enjoy adult conversation over a few glasses of wine. Our neighbors have similarly matched kids, so we end up with a table for 9 with two 10-year-old girls, an 8-year-old boy and two 6-year-old boys - high energy, but the kids are outside most of the time. And the restaurant knows us now, and manages to handle kids' orders - hamburgers with nothing on them but ketchup, pasta without vegetables, strawberry juice, Sprite, and ice cream for dessert - what could be better?

Flash back to the beginning of the summer, a rainy evening when the kids couldn't be outside as much as they wanted... and the adults were busy in a heated discussion of something... Anyway, we got COMPLAINTS from the table next to us. Yes, the kids were a bit boistrous, and yes, they weren't always in their seats, but by and large, I had been thinking they were doing really well, playing DS, drawing pictures...

So last night, there we were, our high-energy bunch, racing bikes to the restaurant, and making our entrance with helmets, jackets, etc. The table next to us had two very sedate children, who were sitting nicely, noses plastered to the window, looking longingly at the children (ours) who were playing in the sand and throwing rocks. I started to feel like the bad example... Then as our kids finally bustled into the restaurant for their dinners, dusting sand off, finding places, making sure they had the right drink, ketchup dispensed under supervision, I caught the eye of another elderly couple sitting nearby, and started to worry...

And then Christopher's napkin caught on fire. David performed a great save with a second napkin, and tossed the flaming mess out the door. I dared to glance at the elderly couple... and she was laughing, and trying to explain to her husband what had happened. The waitresses each came by to tell us that it wasn't the first time they had seen a flaming napkin, and that they were impressed with David's quick thinking. And finally, as the kids bustled out again (and we settled in for coffee), the elderly couple came by on their way out. She thanked us for providing so much energy and life to their dinner, and mentioned how much our children reminded us of her grandchildren in Boston. Whew! (and it is nice to be appreciated, even if for all the wrong reasons!) Let me know if you want us to light up a napkin sometime -

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Jedi in Training

Christopher loves Star Wars. I mean he really LOVES it. He has seen all six movies, plus the animated Clone Wars. He rarely chooses to watch anything else. Every opportunity he gets, he "trains" with a pretend light saber, a play sword, or even just a stick. He spends hours working on his moves, and he even provides his own sound effects to go with his training sessions.

On his first day of first grade, he took his Clone Wars book with him - I guess he is hoping to find like-minded Jedi-wannabes in his new class.