Monday, August 23, 2010

The World Cup of the Tiny People

Christopher's team of 03-boys participated in their first tournament yesterday. They are a tiny team - both in height and number, and it was a bit touch and go on whether they would have enough boys to field a 5-man team. 7 is pretty much the minimum, but they made do with 6 in the first two matches, and then Oscar H joined them for the third.

Their "world cup" team ended up being pretty international... Christopher (an American born in Sweden) and Ziggy (a Swede born in America) were just a start. They also had Juan-chi (from Argentina), Borg (from Holland), Balash (from Hungary), Kanto (from Japan) - and of course, Oscar, the only true Swede.

The first game, they started off 0-2 in the first minutes. We were a bit worried... until they came back and pulled off a 4-2 win. The second game went much better, and they really came together as a team. It did get a bit embarrassing when the final score was 17-1... and aside from Kanto (the amazing goalie), every boy scored at least one goal. Christopher scored 3 goals! By the third game, they were a bit tired, but they still managed a 10-0 win. (David and Kanto's father were drafted in to coach the final match - and did a great job!)

The practices really came into the game - they have been working on positions and not just playing "every-kid-after-the-ball" football. And we parents found that we were cheering more for the passing and assists than for the actual goals.

Well done, team - and awesome job, Christopher!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Stickiness of Som and Fast

Christopher has such a hard time making the transition between English and Swedish. He is now 7, and still manages to rarely say a sentence correctly in English. "Som" (which, who, that) and "fast" (except, but) slip into his English and refuse to be corrected. He also says such charming things. "Mamma, right..." he says before he launches into a lengthy description of some scientific reality, from his perspective.

I decided to write down a few of his more charming turns of phrase:
  • When asking about his upcoming soccer tournament - "Mamma, when is the World Cup of the Tiny People?"
  • On the function of a hairbrush - "You know when your hair stick together and make it really fat - this is for like breaking them."
  • On death - "When I die, am I like dead for my whole entire life? Is that bad?"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad...

unless your stats are:

Two head wounds requiring the attention of the school nurse in the first three days of school. And yes, my first phone call from the nurse was on Day 2 of first grade.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of School

The kids started school today - and here are some stats.

  • Age: 10 years old, turning 11 in 5 days
  • School year: starting 5th grade at Stocksundskolan (5A)
  • Best friends: Astrid, Elsa, Malla
  • Currently reading: Warriors (about supernatural cats)
  • Favorite TV show: Glee
  • Favorite activity: riding, soccer
  • Age: 9 years old
  • School year: starting 2nd grade at Vasaskolan
  • Best friends: Will, Felix, Rikard
  • Currently reading: The Dragon in the Driveway (I'm reading to him)
  • Favorite TV show: Avatar, The Last Airbender
  • Collects: Pokemon
  • Favorite activity: fishing, watching TV
  • Age: 7 years old
  • School year: starting 1st grade at Stocksundskolan (1A)
  • Best friends: Marcus, Hugo, Luke
  • Favorite activity: soccer, bandy
  • Collects: Bakugan and marbles

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Benjamin Drawing

I so love Benjamin's drawings. The details are all there - and in such creative ways. This one is typical of him - and note:
  • The whale is a true filter feeder - he has even drawn the brush-like mouth - and the krill who are on their way in. I guess he was listening...
  • The fish are swimming in a school.
  • The sailboat has ballast(!)
  • The pirates have a hammock to sleep on and a toilet with a light and a waste pipe down to the sea (Benjamin is never one to forget the poop-element of any occasion).
  • Sea urchins, a sea star and a crab/crayfish/lobster are roaming the ocean floor.
  • There are a few shark fins swimming around, especially close to the poor guy in the rowboat.
  • And a little green turtle is swimming towards the surface.
One last note - as willing as he is to draw the details of the scene, he has decided to change his name to BEN - so that he can avoid writing the JAMIN.

Letters from Camp

These letters will have to be in the "to save" box for future generations. Benjamin's letter was the first I have ever received from him. It was completely him - written in Swedish, in a mix of cases.

Hej Hu(r) mår du mama (Hi - how are you, Mom)
Mama lägär är kul (Mom, camp is fun)
Mama jag har kul (Mom, I am having fun)
Mama hur må'n (???)

And a great drawing. I think the text says "ni simmar" (you swim) in the upper drawing and "ni most joba" (ni måste jobba - you must work) in the bottom one. A keeper!

Annika's letter was a bit more legible, and also equally charming. This was my letter - she also included a card each for Benjamin and Christopher, complete with drawings, since she knew they couldn't read. Her spelling has made great strides - it is only her nationality (Amirican) that she can't spell. Not bad for no instruction in English. And her style mirrors that on her Facebook page - lots of !!!! and smiley faces.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Petty People

I survived another apartment owner meeting in Switzerland, or rather, the other participants survived - without bloodshed. I can't believe the issues that are brought up...
  • X thinks the flower boxes have too many colors this year... Y likes them. Decision? The florist decides with NO input from the residents. Brilliant.
  • C thinks D uses the common washing machine too often, so much so that his friend E can't get a slot. C's solution? Raise the rates so that D gets "punished" for overuse. My solution? Get real, people. Let E tell D that he wants a time slot.
  • Some of the plants didn't survive the winter and late arrival of spring. How should we replace them? With plants that would have a good chance of survival at this climate? The solution - demand an immediate meeting with the landscaper to discuss the replacement plan.
  • Should we spend 2000 CHF per apartment for a remote-by-phone heating adjustment system for each building? No.
And then there were many issues we discussed at length which have no solution... at least among the group present...
  • Will the pitch-n-put golf course continue to be supported by the Crans golf club?
  • Will the house that is planned for the new lot be attractive?
  • Will somebody buy the remaining lots in the valley?
  • Will the ski resort build better access to the valley?
Oh, and we set the date for next year's meeting. Don't know if I will make such an effort to be there... unless Annika will come with me!

Life as an Almost-11-Year-Old

I got a great opportunity to spend a weekend in Switzerland - with Annika. She's not a huge fan of Switzerland, but since I had to be there for our apartment meeting, I asked if she would like to go and - surprisingly - she agreed. We had a great weekend, despite terrible weather. We did no cooking, but enjoyed all sorts of restaurants. A few highlights...
  • After camp, Annika decided to become a vegetarian. But when faced with the possibility of a dinner at Le Thai (and chicken satay) she was forced to rethink her philosophy. We're still working on the details of a "sometime vegetarian"...
  • She was stunned that I had a song she likes on my iPhone... one that she doesn't have on her phone. She kept saying, "I can't believe you have it" - like I was incapable of being more cool than her - in this one tiny area.
  • We got to discuss many upcoming 5th grade issues - make-up (which she hopes to refuse to wear at all, despite what the others do), birthday parties (which she wants to have... but she's not sure she wants to be the first to admit that it is still fun...), smoking (stats say that the most common age for Swedish girls to start is 11 - but she cannot understand why - thank goodness), friends, etc.
  • She still managed to get a shopping bee in her bonnet... but we escaped with a purse and wallet (sunglasses were also on her list).
  • She charmed the waiters, getting a free raclette appetizer (which she loved)
In general, it was just plain nice to spend time with her.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Tree Experts

We took a one-day tour of Yosemite with Ranger Roger - a retired park ranger who has dreamed of working in Yosemite since he was 7. I always find it so fun to be with someone who has such an all-encompassing interest - and his stories were wonderful. We started with the giant sequoia trees, and are all now tree experts.

Annika can spot the difference in a fir tree, a ponderosa pine, a sugar pine and a giant sequoia with ease. And the boys are almost as proficient.

Annika sat in front with Ranger Roger and absorbed every bit of his stories, even remembering Teddy Roosevelt and his role in establishing national parks. Wow.

The scenery was amazing, truly breathtaking. And it was relaxing to have someone else battle the crowds - Yosemite on a Saturday in July is kind of like the mall at Christmas... but despite the crowds, we had a great time. Choosing the best Christmas card picture will be a challenge!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Are We... or Aren't We...

from Sweden, that is. We were at a campfire sing-a-long last night, and of course, the event starts with a "Where is everybody from?" question. And yes, we were the only Europeans. I don't really want to stand out, or attract attention... nor do I want to be "cheating" since David and I are really Texans at heart. But I rationalized it - since the kids were born in Sweden and a campfire sing-a-long would be new to them, or so I thought.

As the sing-a-long progressed, it became clear that Annika knew more of the songs than David and I did - from camp. Seems as though they do a lot of singing there, and in her "advanced hiking" van, the driver liked to play Elvis.

"These songs are more fun than Lady Gaga," she remarked, as she sang along with "Red River Valley", "America the Beautiful", and a few Elvis tunes. I knew there was something great about summer camp!