Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tough Lessons and a Mom on the Warpath

I wrote earlier about Annika's lack of mobile phone money... that she went through it in a matter of days. Well, seems as though I was mistaken about her usage. Apparently, she answered an SMS on the 21st of August, and since then she has been bombarded with SMS:s from a company (Funmobile - SMS 72238) with a monthly fee and a per-SMS cost that she has been paying, without realizing it.

She got a new phone on Friday (numbers were falling off the old one) and we brought it with us to Switzerland on Saturday. We scared her so much about SMSing and calling from foreign countries that we know she hasn't made a single call, or sent a single SMS. Suddenly, she got a "low money on account" warning, and was in floods of tears. "I haven't done anything" she kept saying. She had 189 kr on Saturday... 17 kr today. I checked her SMS list, and she had received more than 5 from that number, each with a cost. That makes more than 400 SEK ($57) that she has lost over the past two months.

So, I called (pity the poor customer service person who has to answer my call) and they have supposedly cancelled the service. I have also written to them to ask for my/her money back, and have reported them to Konsumentverket and Etiskarådet. She is only 10 years old. ARRRGGGGHHH!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Swimming, Take 2

We finished simskola with Christopher, the expensive one, level 2. He made progress, but not enough, so it is back to level 2 again. And of course, the not-so-expensive one is full, so we're back where we started. But he needs a stronger kick, so we'll keep going. Hopefully by Christmas he'll be swimming like a fish - one that can take a breath on the way from point A to B!

He is truly amazing - he can be outside in a t-shirt in all kinds of weather, and hates wearing a jacket. However, one look at Mörby badet and he starts to shiver and turn blue. The 40 minutes of simskola are about all he can take.

Blueberry Dressage

Annika did her first "blåbärs dressyr" or blueberry dressage competition on Sunday. I was completely impressed -

  • She found about it by herself and checked dates with me before signing herself up
  • She worked with her friends at the stable to figure out exactly what she was supposed to do
  • She laid out a course in the basement to practice the path the horse would travel
  • She chose her horse and worked with a friend to fix its mane
All I had to do was provide the financing - the outfit and the entry fee - and show up. Remember that this is a kid who - last spring - couldn't remember to take her gym bag to school from the car. Amazing.

Of course, things didn't go as well as planned. The horse she chose, Mulle, wasn't in the mood to trot on Sunday, and she had a hard time keeping him going. She did, however, remember the path, and exactly what she was supposed to do at each place. In the end, she got the second lowest number of points of all the competitors.

OK... it's not so bad -
  • one girl scored lower (and I was secretly happy that Annika didn't have to be the worst at the one thing she loves more than anything else.)
  • the other rider that had Mulle for a horse also didn't score high enough for a ribbon because Mulle was being difficult
  • we know what to expect next time, and almost nobody "qualifies" on their first time
  • we have the outfit

and there's always next time!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Car Features

Just got back from a weekend at INSEAD, a 15-year reunion. Seems as if the 5 year was weddings, 10 was new babies, and now we are comparing notes on our 5-10 year olds. I mentioned to one friend that it was so nice to have kids who can fasten their own seatbelts in the car - just think back to the days when I had to buckle in three in various car seats. She agreed, with one of the best quotes -

"Yes, my car is now SELF-LOADING"

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

So Not Ready for a Tweenie

Annika came down this morning, wearing pink leggings with lace, a pair of large-ish black athletic shorts and a large black t-shirt.

"What do you think, mamma?"
"Way to go!", I say, "You remembered it was gym class, and you're supposed to go already dressed."
"No! This is what I'm wearing during the day, not at gym class."

Hmmm... well... no really good way to dig myself out of that one.

Officially Ten

Annika finally got her birthday party - her whole (new) class at the Laserdome in Stockholm. All 22 of them (plus David and the boys) battled it out in a dark arena for 2 goes of 20 minutes each. Everyone seemed to have fun, and the party was deemed a success. The only downside - I didn't really meet any of the kids I didn't already know - about half the class. But there's still the rest of the year...

Monday, October 05, 2009


We're getting there... slowly, slowly... Benjamin is now a big first grader, and doesn't quite seem to have come into his academic side. His ability to procrastinate, however, is extraordinary. Each week we have homework - a bit of math (not much), 3 pages in a very basic reader, and 10 sentences to write. The math is ok. The reading... well, he does it, but I'm not sure how much is looking at the pictures... And then the writing, which ranks somewhere up there with pulling teeth. I left him alone to write his name - all by himself - and this is what we have. BNEJMAMIN, in all caps, despite having spent the past few weeks working on lower case. But it does have a nice ring to it!

Yet when I look at Annika's 4th grade class, a mere three years of schooling later, I am amazed at how quickly things come along. Her social studies book challenges me - though since it is in Swedish, that's not so surprising. And she happily works away on math, somewhere between fortress and tower, hoping never have to do the remedial... dungeon... or something like that. I can't remember my math books having a story (hers has a family with a pet dragon) to hold their interest. But anyway, her class has come this far... so there's hope yet!

Thursday, October 01, 2009


A few months ago, we lost a set of car keys... my set, to be exact. I'm sure it wasn't me, however, who lost them. Really.

Anyway, we survived for many months with one set, but it was a problem. David seems to put things in his pockets and forget about them. The next day, pocket contents shift from one pair of pants to the other - say Sunday jeans to Monday business suits - and with those contents went the car keys, several times. The car keys were very well travelled, taking at least three Monday morning trips to Helsinki in David's pockets. Of course, I would go out on these Monday mornings, ready to load the threesome in the car for the three-school drop-off... only to find myself without keys. The kids thought it was quite exciting to be dropped off by taxi, and then I would pop over to the local Statoil to find the cheapest rental possible to get us through pick-up.

Getting a new set of keys wasn't easy. I don't technically own the car, for no really good reason, but that means I don't have the right to request new keys. And getting David to find the time to go to the dealer took months. But finally, in August, we managed to get a new set of two keys - one each.

So last night, we were looking for extra toothbrushes in the basket under the bathroom sink... and there it was, the missing key. How it found its way there is beyond me... and of course, now it serves no purpose since the car has been rekeyed. But it is nice to know that what's lost is found.