Sunday, January 24, 2010

X-Country X-2

According to our neighbors, our role as parents must include teaching our kids to swim, skate and bicycle. Well... that was last week. This week, skiing is on the list. So how are we doing? Ice skating - check. Biking - check. Swimming - almost check, but still some work to do. Downhill skiing - check + (does it count if they are better than their parents?) Cross-country skiing... well, that was this week's goal.

Adopting divide-and-conquer as a strategy, I took Christopher to do that "snow country thing" on Friday. He put his own skis on before I had even tied my boots, and left me behind in the parking lot. He attacked the trail and managed admirably with zero instruction. Falls were fun and uphills were his way to shine (by leaving me behind). He was ready to go again this morning, so we did our 2,5 k trail in -13C - piece of cake. One down...

So Benjamin and I decided to give it a try this afternoon - though I didn't expect it to go quite as smoothly. But in the first 5 minutes, he said "Wow - this is fun!" TWICE. Not once did he get frustrated, not once did he get angry. In fact, it was a truly awesome loop - 2,5k again, in a more reasonable -8C. Two down...

One to go...

Luggage? What luggage?

So what does it take for a family of five to travel? Let's complicate things a bit... and go first to Santa Fe (freezing temps and snow), then to Hawaii (warm and sunny swimsuit weather), then to San Francisco (somewhere in between). Oh - and let's make it Christmas, so that we have to move all the presents from Sweden to Santa Fe and Maui and back to Sweden via San Francisco. Then throw in a 10-year-old who refuses to share a suitcase with her brothers and the proceeds to pack her entire closet... and a 6-year-old who managed to sneak the household emergency flashlight into the suitcase (for emergencies, of course). Just to give you an idea...
  • 8 pieces of checked luggage (which are - amazingly - all on this luggage cart)
  • 4 backpacks
  • 1 roll-on bag
  • 2 computers
  • 7 iPods
  • 3 mobile phones
  • 4 nintendo DS consoles
  • 2 electronic books
And yes, you can see the boys upon arrival in Maui, t-shirts, leis - and winter boots. Where were those Crocs?

Why We Went Halfway Around the World

I think this says it all - the thousand words of picture. A few of those thousand spring to mind at once - sunshine, water, waves, surf, heat, laughter, togetherness, siblings. And a few... well, you just had to be there. Like... Swimsuits that just fell apart in the waves. Red days where the surf was way too big. Red-yellow days where a wave slammed Benjamin so hard that he had a scrape on his face from the sand. Whales that were so close you could hear them breathe. The wettest and driest places on earth. We can't wait to go back!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slowly Posting Our Holiday

When we went on holiday, I vowed to blog about the trip. At the same time, I promised to spend the minimum possible time on the computer. I guess you see what won out - and now I'm doing a bit of catch-up at the end of January.

Christopher wasn't too sure about the surfing lessons. Annika and Benjamin had a great time (and pics to prove it will be blogged at a later date). But the boogie board was just Christopher's style, and he loved it!

The Eyeball Police

Jet lag really sucks. I - personally - am usually not that bothered, but throw three kids in the mix and it really starts to take a toll on the family. Benjamin seems to have the worst time coming back to Sweden - I guess he has such an easy time falling asleep that he's not used to working on it in the middle of the night. He is so exhausted - has woken up at 2 or 3 am for the past 5 days. Last night was a record - 3.30. Of course, by 6 or 7pm he is totally wiped out, and keeping him awake is a struggle. So here I sit, blogging, but keeping an eye on the eyes - no closed ones allowed.

Jet lag does have its benefits - never before have my children literally begged to go to bed as they have this past week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Neil Family 2008

Click here to view this photo book larger

A Milestone Reached

As we tucked into our first dinner in San Francisco, it happened. Christopher's loose tooth (toof?) that has been bothering him for the past two weeks finally fell out. It isn't his first tooth, but this one seems symbolic - my baby, who now looks very "six", is growing up. Here he is in all his toothless glory, silly smile, ketchup smeared on his face, shark-tooth necklace, wearing his "twin" shirt (David has a matching one), proudly clutching his tooth.

And he really wanted the tooth fairy to bring him a credit card...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ones that Got Away

We had a wonderful time in Hawaii - 12 glorious, sunny days full of sun and activities. We took a lot of pictures, but missed getting some of the best shots...
  1. Double Humpback Breech 50 Yards from Boat - wow, wouldn't that be a great title for the picture? We had no idea how cool it would be to be on a boat during whale season. We were happy to miss some of the snorkeling just to have a chance to see more of these amazing creatures. And yes, while we were out sailing, two large (adult) whales did breech just 50 yards from our boat - it doesn't get much better than that... unless your camera is ready, which ours was not.
  2. Christopher befriending a whale - one of the whales was slapping his pectoral fins not too far from our snorkeling boat. Christopher would wave to him, he would slap, C would wave, he would slap - and this went on for a while. Again, no pics.
  3. Swimming in breaking waves - as I watched Annika and Benjamin playing in the surf (pretty heavy during our stay) they had a great time jumping waves. If they were in just the right position, just before the wave broke, you could see their legs kicking madly away, backlit by the sun in the green of the wave, clouds of sand washing up from the bottom. But as many times as I tried, I couldn't make it happen.
  4. Helicopter Tour - we took a long and windy road to Hana, then caught the helicopter back - and it was awesome! The helicopter tour came with a DVD that you could buy at the end of your trip, but of course, it didn't work... Just as we took off, we saw two humpback whales swimming together, just below the surface. I tried a picture, but just got the water, now whales.

I guess I'll just have the memories... and all the other pictures I did manage to take!