Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spite and Skip-Bo

In the Crans-Montana grocery store, I had a moment of inspiration and tossed Skip-Bo in the cart. "By the makers of Uno" it said on the package, so I went for it. Brought it back, and Annika and I started to play... but the instructions were in German, Dutch, Italian and French. Thank goodness for wireless and Wiki-How. And then I read the intro - "Based on Spite and Malice"... and the memories came rushing in.

When my parents were away, we often stayed with my mom's mom, Meme, a grandmother of a different sort. She wasn't at all interested in babies or toddlers, and really didn't have much time for us until we could play cards. Then the real fun started. As soon as my brother was asleep, Meme and I would sneak downstairs for our mixed drinks - vodka tonic for her, 7-up with lime for me (I think I was in college when it finally dawned on me that we weren't drinking the same thing), then back to the card table. We had running matches of S&M, and her card table was littered with scores from her matches - with her daughter Lou, with a few of my cousins, and with me. The matches were cutthroat, full of the spite and malice the name promised. I loved those times, and loved the game.

And Skip-Bo didn't disappoint - yes, the cards were a bit more colorful than Meme's standard 2-decks, but the game was the same. Annika and I didn't keep score, but so far, I'm winning, 2 games to 0. I'm sure it is the experience factor!

Monday, February 22, 2010


I hate to say it, but I'm a bit disappointed in the Swedes. This is supposed to be the no-bad-weather-only-bad-clothing place. We turned up for Benjamin's class sledding event on Saturday in high winds, blowing snow and -15C, only to find that only 3 other families braved the elements. Score one for the Texans.

And today, with the thermometer reading a balmy -23C, the city has fallen apart. Commuter trains are not running over ground, only the tunnelbana is going, and even that is late, at best. No replacement busses. No trains to Göteborg. No trains from Uppsala. You can't get through to the taxis.

Benjamin's class should have had an ice skating event this morning, but when we turned up, we were the only ones there. Cancelled, due to the cold. Score two for the Texans (who bought the good clothing).

I must say, I am surprised - I thought this would be normal for the Swedes (though there is an unusual amount of snow on the ground).

Spring should be interesting... we may have to shovel our backyard to avoid a flood. When all this snow melts - and the ground is still frozen - I don't know where it will go. With the amount they have salted and sanded, we will all be sitting in one giant mud puddle.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Definitely My Child

Benjamin got glasses a couple of years ago, a slight correction to his left eye, no correction on the right. Then there was a missed follow-up appointment last year (my fault that we missed it, but then I couldn't find the little piece of paper which had the two "telephone hours" during which I could call each week to rebook so I just gave up - gotta love Sweden sometimes)... then he quit wearing his glasses. The school nurse called me last week to report that he should really be wearing glasses so I made the booking. But now that he is a big 8 years old, I no longer have to go to the 2-hour-phone-time-eye-doctor, but can make an appointment with the mall store, the one that does answer the phone.

Benjamin was a real trooper, trying so hard to see what he just couldn't see. At first, they started with the right eye, and he was a bit thrown by the eye chart - thought he should be reading the words, not just the letters, and HVOR didn't make much sense. But then he sailed through with only a slight correction. Then she started on the left eye...

"That eye is broken," he said. "I don't use it." (WHAT??? Why didn't he say something to me?)

And the dials started moving.

"Can you read the letters?"


"How about now?" (more dials moving)


"How about now?" (more turning and whirring)


"How about now?" (more dials moving)

And finally he could make out the letters, the bigger ones. His prescription at that point was -3.5, a fair bit worse than the -.75 he had before. But when she put his eyes together, his brain couldn't handle the correction, so he ended up with his left eye only moving to -1.5, the level that didn't leave him dizzy, and the right at -1.

Nearsightedness runs in families, apparently. He's not quite up to my -5s, but he is certainly moving in that direction. I hope he got some good genes from me somewhere else, since I seem to have short-changed him in the short-sighted department...

And here's hoping he will wear the new glasses in the future. We pick them up next week. If he looks at me and says, "Mamma, I can see!" then the circle will be complete (since that's what I said to my mom when I got my first pair of glasses).

Friday, February 05, 2010

Home Alone

What would you do if you were home alone for 5 whole days? For moms, this has a special meaning - no dinners, no dishes, no bedtimes, no sharing the tv... just 5 peaceful days to do whatever you want. Well, I got my wish, sort of.

It wasn't the plan. Right now, I should be spending 4 days at the toy fair in Germany, monitoring industry trends, finding new suppliers - and my personal favorite - finding the worst toy of 2010. Since I was going to be gone, David planned to take the kids skiing. Part 2 of this plan is underway... but Part 1...
Somehow, I ended up with a serious back problem that stated last week, and doesn't look likely to go away any time soon. The diagnosis is a "cervical herniated disc" which means a very sore back and shoulder area, with pain radiating down my arm. My Sit-on-It beanbag chair is my saviour, and I have spent more nights on it than in bed. Days are spent watching reruns and favorite films.
I guess I should get used to taking it easy - seems as though I will be doing a lot of that over the next few weeks... and spend my time planning how to avoid this problem in the future!