at the Pålssons'
August 28, 2000—Just returned from USA
We had the most amazing trip to Michigan and Ohio this month. It was Max's first vacation, and it was definitely a memorable one, at least for mommy and daddy.
Max was really great throughout the trip. He never showed any fear of the people he was meeting for the first time, and he smiled and laughed so much! I think he really had a good time. Bengt and I enjoyed showing off our little boy, and I am glad he got to meet all those people and be exposed to all those new things, even if he won't remember later.
In public I would often catch people pointing to Max and commenting to each other, "What a cute baby." That made me feel so good. People asked us things like, "Is he always this happy?" and "Does he always smile this much?" He makes a lot of eye contact and mimics sounds that people say to him. He smiles at them and laughs when they try to entertain him. It is very reassuring that Max is so content and easy to please.
One time Max got over-tired and started laughing hysterically at nothing at all, just like I do sometimes when I'm tired. He and I were lying in bed and he just started laughing his head off. Well, it's better than crying!
Now that we're home, Max seems less apt to stick everything in his mouth. I don't know what prompted this change. Maybe he tasted a few things he didn't like, like sand and dirt! We've also noticed an increase in the amount of food he's eating. Towards the end of our trip, Max was eating less and less solid food, preferring to nurse or drink warm välling from a bottle. I chalk it up to a mild case of overstimulation. He was probably ready to come home. (Speaking of food, the American baby foods were very watery! They have water added! I didn't like that at all. If I want water in Max's food, I can add it myself. Plus, the runny food runs right off the spoon.)
Anyway, I guess that baby food (bottle or nursing) made Max feel safe and secure. Now he's ready for big boy food again. Hopefully he'll soon be ready for big boy sleeping habits, as well! He hasn't been sleeping well since we got home. So far he's been going down about 10 p.m. and waking up repeatedly until about 1 or 1:30 a.m. Then he is wide awake at 6 a.m., but takes a three-hour nap starting before 8:00. Argh! This doesn't seem to correspond to the time in the U.S., so I don't know what's going on here, except that his schedule is way off. I guess I should be grateful he's sleeping at night at all. Other friends who recently returned from the U.S. have an infant daughter who stayed up all night for several nights after their return. The poor parents were exhausted. Anyway, this evening we denied Max his late afternoon/early evening nap and then let him fall asleep around 8:20 p.m. We'll see how that works...
Here's another funny thing: Somehow Max has learned to smile when someone points a camera at him! I was thinking that it could be because I've said words that he thinks are funny right before holding a camera in front of my face. So now he associates the camera with funny words. Or it could be because he's looking forward to the flash. At any rate, it's pretty handy that he smiles whenever we go to take a picture of him!
Another change is that Max definitely says, "Mama-mama-mama" when he is tired or hungry or upset, and it's pretty apparent that he means me. That's pretty cool.
This is a great time to be a mommy. Bengt and I have a lot of fun with Max. It makes the boring chores and the sleep problems much easier to take.
We got a lot of good loot in Michigan. Lots of toys and clothes for Max—many used, from Max's cousins. I don't know how I managed to fit all that stuff into the suitcases for the trip home. I think I broke the laws of physics or something.
Sven and Anna-Brita and Anders came the day Max and I got home (Friday). On Saturday (my birthday), we went to the family reunion for Anna-Brita's side of the family. That was fun and interesting, and the weather was fantastic. It has been good to have activities to keep us awake during daytime and evening hours.
The men left this morning, but A-B is staying through the week so that Bengt and I can go out on Friday. We have tickets to Steely Dan. It is nice to have her around to help take care of Max. I can get some extra rest and do some other things (such as write this).
I've been very busy and haven't had time to write. We're gearing up to go to the U.S., and I have a list of things to take that is a mile long—and I'm trying to pare it down to the bare minimum! Ha. I'd better have my parents bring a U-Haul to the airport when they pick us up.
Nothing earth-shattering has happened here. We've had lots of rain, and we just keep plugging along. Max is fine and hasn't had any major leaps in development this past week, though he does seem more "plugged in" each day. He is wearing out my arms with all his jumping. We sold his jumping thingy (hoppgunga) to a family with a child who is one week older but weighs 3 kg less than Max. That thing was so tight on Max that getting him out of it was like peeling a banana! It was almost impossible for one person to do alone. In addition, he had passed the weight limit for it. We sure miss that thing!
If Max were a cat, I might consider having him declawed. He has learned how to operate his thumb and index finger, and he is pinching everything, including people. And if his nails are more than a millionth of an inch long (which of course they always are), that hurts! I keep saying "Ouch!" and moving his hand away from me when he pinches, but he's way too young to understand that. I'm going to have to warn everybody, especially his little cousins, when we get to Michigan.
Food: Max is now eating three meals a day, including breakfast which consists of hot cereal with fruit in it. He seems to like just about everything except green vegetables. I have yet to find a green vegetable that he likes. No, I take that back—he liked the strained peas that they used to sell here, but I haven't seen them on the shelves in months. He doesn't like the ones I make myself, unfortunately. Also, Max doesn't like beans, but I think it's the consistency that's the problem rather than the taste. When we mix them with potatoes, he doesn't notice.
Max loves all kinds of fruits and fruit juices. His favorite is purple grape juice. If I let him, he'd drink that until he popped!
I also still breastfeed Max. Up until a few days ago, we were doing it 4-5 times a day, but now I think we're down to 3 times a day, and that feels fine. I wonder how long the milk will keep coming, though.
So now you know Max isn't starving... He's a very sturdy, very active, very strong little boy! And almost always happy. He can entertain himself for relatively long periods while I take a bath, clean the kitchen, or whatever. Monday evening I managed to mow the entire lawn while Max sat on an air mattress in the driveway, happily pinching his toys.
I think Max is starting to understand certain words, or at least respond to them appropriately. Today someone else was holding Max. They were "talking" and looking at each other, and suddenly the guy said, "Where's mama?" Max immediately turned toward me. So I'm starting to check which other words he might know. I leaned over his crib talking to him after his nap this afternoon, and after a minute or so I asked whether he wanted to get UP. He arched his back like he does when he wants to get up. Seems like a pretty clear "yes" to me. I guess it's high time to stop swearing!
Max has been sleeping pretty well. Some nights he wakes up just once, around 3 or 4, for a feeding and then sleeps until 7:30 or so. Other nights he wakes up a second time around 6 a.m. but then falls back asleep until 8:00 or 8:30. Occasionally he wakes up (barely) around midnight or so to be tucked in again or have his bed jiggled.
I'm really worried about how Max will do with the time difference when we go to the U.S. Some friends of ours just got back from California a couple of days ago, and their daughter (slightly older than Max) is still on California time, in spite of her parents' efforts to get her back on a Swedish schedule. She goes "down for the night" at about 6 a.m.!
The weather happens to be beautiful today, so we're heading out of here as soon as Max wakes up from his nap. A good weekend to everyone who's reading this!
July 21—There are some nice people in this world!
I can't believe what happened to me yesterday. I was out on the town shopping and then attending a meeting, and when I was riding the subway home, I suddenly realized I could get off at an earlier stop than I had planned, and take the commuter train home from a different point. I grabbed my bag, hopped up and jumped off the train just as the doors closed, only to realize that my handbag was still sitting on the seat! (I had two bags with me.) I turned around to get back on, but it was too late—the train was pulling out of the station. ARGH!
I considered for a moment and then ran up to the ticket collector's both and asked him to call "wherever" and see if someone could get my purse before it disappeared. He did that, but obviously the conductor was not going to stop the train and go looking for my purse. I'd have to wait half an hour for the train to arrive at its final destination, and then he or she could go look for it. Or maybe someone would turn it in. "Fat chance!" I thought. But it was my only chance.
With my lips quivering, I turned to go sit down on a bench and spend my waiting time preparing a mental list of all the cards I was going to have to have cancelled, the cell phone I was going to have to replace, the telephone company I'd have to call, the new things I was going to have to buy, the pocket calendar containing data that it had taken me years to collect (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.), and so on. And our insurance was not going to cover any cost incurred, since I had been careless enough to simply leave the bag on the train! It's not as if I'd been the victim of a purse-snatching. In short, I was ready to contemplate the consequences of a moment's inattention.
But lo and behold, just as I turned around a couple of teenagers came running up the steps—with my purse! Having seen what happened, they had hopped off the train at the next station and then taken another train back to return my bag! Can you believe that? They looked so pleased that I was still there, but that was nothing compared to how glad I was to see them. I couldn't believe my good fortune! I tried to give them a reward (money), but they wouldn't accept it. They just took off back down the stairs to catch the next train in their original direction. And of course all my money, cards, phone, etc. were still in the purse.
Those two teenagers went out of their way to return my bag. They could have just given it to the conductor and had a good conscience. I would have been happy with that. But they saved me so much worry and a substantial amount of time by coming back with it. I hope someone does a similar favor for them someday. One thing's for sure—next time I see something like that that I can do for someone without too much trouble, I will! What comes around goes around.
Yesterday when I gave Max a bath, I didn't use the part to his tub that holds him in a half-sitting position. It was the first time Max got to sit upright in the tub. The first thing he did was start pummelling the water with his hands. It looked to me sort of like he was trying to catch the water. He kept it up for minutes on end, paused briefly to catch his breath and blink the water out of his eyes, and then continued pounding the water. He must have been at it for 10 minutes or so! He wasn't smiling but very earnest. He wasn't just having fun; it was a serious bit of exploration, and it was priceless. I had to hide my laughs behind my hand, and I was so bummed that I didn't have the video camera in the bathroom with us!
Max's sweet little baby smell seems to be giving way to a new active-little-boy-on-a-hot-summer's-day smell. You know, that dusty, ripe smell. Only his head still smells like a baby's head.
Ran into the neighbors today who have 14-month-old twin boys. Those boys are BOYS with very distinct personalities! Not babies anymore! I can hardly believe that our little Max will be a big boy like that in just 8 months. I can't imagine him any other way than the way he is today—even though that's different from what he was like yesterday.
Those boys, Felix and Martin, were fascinated with Max, and the feeling was mutual. They made sounds at each other and reached out from their respective strollers to touch each other. It is neat to see the kids becoming aware of each other in new ways.
July 19—Twerp alert!
For awhile I was feeling guilty because Bengt and I haven't stuck with the bedtime routine we agreed on. (All the books say that a regular bedtime routine is important.) But the other day I realized that we do have a bedtime routine. When it's Max's bedtime, I do the following:
If that's not a routine, I don't know what is. It may be a little short, but with Max taking three naps a day, it wouldn't be practical to have a longer bedtime routine.
This morning Max "called me" (with his special whining cry that I recognize) back into his room after I'd put him down. He had his blankie on top of his face and I lifted it off and tucked it into his arm. Max has required this service of me pretty often, even though I know perfectly well that he can move his blankie himself. I assumed that he was half asleep and therefore too out of it to realize he could move it himself. But today I saw him hide a grin when I moved the blankie. Twerp alert! He's been manipulating me, the little rascal!
I made some beans for Max's dinner last night. While talking about them, Bengt and I discovered that the word "beans" amuses Max. So Bengt kept repeating it to Max, who cracked up. Bengt said, "Beans! Beans! Beans!" and Max laughed harder and harder, slapping Bengt's shoulder! (Wonder where he got shoulder-slapping? Or could gentle slapping somehow be a natural reaction when someone is making you laugh?) What a weird kid.
I went to sleep at 10 p.m. last night. Max got me up at 11:00, midnight, 1:00, 3:00, 4:00, 6:00 and finally for good at 7:45. UGH! He only needed to be fed once—all the other times he was either crying in his sleep from a bad dream or his blanket was down by his feet, out of reach. It takes one minute to take care of him at those times but at least 15 minutes for me to get back to sleep! So I'm tired, and I'm afraid this is going to be a long day.
July 16—What a nice weekend in Perstorp!
Bengt and Max and I just got home from a very nice weekend in Perstorp with Bengt's parents. Anders came over on Saturday, as well. Everyone wanted to see Max. He was the star of the show, as usual. He had smiles for everyone, and enjoyed "talking", jumping, and mouthing everything in sight.
Max slept pretty well in Perstorp. The first night it took him a long time (like an hour) to calm down and get to sleep, but after that it wasn't a problem. Even naps were fine—partly because Anna-Brita spoiled him by taking him for long walks in the stroller while he slept! Whew! That's not something I'm willing to do. But she seems to enjoy it, and she said Max woke up smiling at her!
Even the car trips went well. We had Bengt's brand new company car, a Toyota Camry, and Max had his new big-boy carseat. On the way down, Max took a two-hour nap and then later another one-hour nap. The rest of the time I entertained him in the back seat. When he seemed fidgety, which he did twice, we stopped for awhile. He never fussed. In all the trip took 6 1/2 hours.
On the way back, Max fell asleep for almost four hours, in spite of the fact that he'd just had a nap before we left! He must have been exhausted from all that visiting. And the rest of the time he was mellow and easy to entertain. We got away with driving straight through, with the exception of a five-minute stop to change a poopy diaper. That trip took only 5 hours and 20 minutes.
When we got back, Max ate like a hog, jumped around and roughhoused like a madman, and then suddenly and unexpectedly fell asleep. I left him on our bed and went to get him a bottle, and when I got back about two minutes later, he was fast asleep! I couldn't believe my eyes.
While I very much enjoyed visiting everyone, for me the high point was getting to swim laps by myself at the huge outdoor pool, Ugglebadet (click on "Foto" on their website to see pictures), that's just a 15-minute walk from the Pålssons' house. I went both Saturday and today (Sunday). I'd been longing to swim, and swimming outdoors in such a large and almost empty pool is downright luxurious! Bengt suggested that when we get back from the U.S., I should pick which evening I want to go to the local pool every week, and then Bengt will come home in time to let me go. YES!
Our next trip will be to Michigan. We hope that longer trip goes as smoothly.
By the way, in Perstorp we gave Max some pretty sour raspberries and a lemon wedge to suck on, and he liked them! He didn't make a sour face like you would expect. He just smacked his lips extra long! I guess he gets that from Bengt. As you may know, Bengt loves very sour fruits.
Also, I could mention that the other night, the night of July 12 (see below), Max didn't wake up again until 5:30 a.m. I really think it was due to Bengt's great calming effect on Max. Bengt is really able to comfort him. He is so calm and reassuring. If I'd tried to nurse Max to sleep, I believe he would have woken up distraught again and again.
July 12 again—the night isn't starting out well
Poor Max! After 1 1/2 hours of sleep he woke up sobbing! It seems clear to me that he's not hungry or in physical pain but distressed from all the events of the day. He is over-stimulated or overwhelmed by all he is learning. (Bengt isn't so sure he's not in pain.)
I decided not to nurse Max when he woke up. It always gets him to stop crying, but if he's emotionally upset, that's not really addressing his upset. I don't think that stuffing a nipple in his mouth is always the best comfort, even if it's easiest for us.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to comfort Max. Bengt came and soothed him back to sleep. I watched from behind the door, trying to get some tips for next time. Bengt is so good at soothing people—including me!
I wonder how many more times he will wake up tonight... Better get some sleep while I can!
July 12—Max's brain is in overdrive
Max is going through some kind of mental growth spurt. He is 110% "with it", and he won't tolerate any interruptions in his total mental presence and physical activity, such as sleep or eating.
Sunday night (two nights ago) was AWFUL. Max woke up again and again, and he resisted going back to sleep. Monday night he slept through the night, except for his usual 5:30 feeding, but then last night was worse than ever! He tossed and turned and was awake for long periods, "talking", whining, and wanting to get up. I got very little sleep, and he can't have gotten much, either. He had a two-hour nap this morning (which isn't unusual), but his next nap was only 20 minutes, and he skipped his third nap altogether. Now it's 8:15 p.m. and he's totally hyper, completely wound up.
He's not eating well, either—too distracted. By his behavior you can tell that he's just so fascinated by everything that he can't be bothered to sleep. Suddenly he can sit up by himself and play, stand very steadily by holding an adult's finger in each hand, and use his pincer grip to explore his toys (and our faces) in a brand new way. Today he tried to taste my tongue! He also jammed his whole arm into his carrots while I was trying to give him dinner. He pulls my hair whenever he gets a chance, and Maja fears for her life.
A little while ago I was half-jokingingly feeling around on Max's head to find the pressure point that's supposed to relax us. Max got even more hyper, and Bengt said, "I think you just found his TURBO button!"
Ok, now it's 8:35. Bengt managed to get Max calm by bouncing him to the Sarah McLachlan CD. He loves that singing. Then we put him down next to me to nurse, but it was no use—he was comatose within seconds. But I don't expect he'll be asleep for very long... Just long enough to get a minimum of juice in those batteries.
Yesterday another mom and baby came over. The little girl, Lina, is only a week older than Max and is also suddenly having MAJOR problems sleeping. The mother is at her wits' end. She was spoiled because that baby had been sleeping great for months.
Lina has this high croaking sound that she makes when delighted. To Max it sounds like distress, and he cries when he hears it. :-(
Both Max and Lina have recently discovered how to cough on purpose. They do it constantly, smiling all the time. Max also smiles when he really coughs, and when he sneezes. (Actually, sneezing is kind of fun, isn't it? I remember thinking so as a child, too.) Lina has also figured out how to make this terrible choking sound that brings her mother running. Then she laughs when her mother gets there. I'm glad Max doesn't do that!
July 9 (later)—Pictures of a different sort!
I had some fun today! Here are some pictures of Max with hair. Oh, I'm such a mean mom!
July 9—Yard work
I'm having trouble finding the time to write!!! But yesterday I managed to pull weeds in the yard and mow the grass while Bengt took care of Max. It felt really good to do some work outside rather than inside the house. It felt good to do something useful that was unrelated to Max. I've been pulling weeds off and on for weeks now, and a couple of weeks ago I spread some combination fertilizer/moss killer. The heap of dirt that we spread out on the lawn to even it out now has nice grass growing on it. So our front yard is looking much nicer now.
In addition, the grassy patch we planted on the south side of our house last year really took off after I fertilized it. For some reason it is moss- and weed-free; I would call it a luxurious patch of lawn, in a protected spot between the house and a wall of rock. Max and I spend a lot of time there during the week. Last week I took Max's plastic bathtub back there and filled it with water. (I added two big pans of boiling water to make it warm enough.) Max loved playing in it but got cold a lot faster than in our warm bathroom.
We are in the process of replacing all the heating elements in our house. Many of the old ones are not working, and the ones that are working get too hot—we don't want Max to burn himself. Of course he has to learn not to touch hot things, but he shouldn't have to learn by getting blisters! Besides being much more energy efficient, the new radiators are oil-filled, so they radiate a more even, comfortable heat. And they have programmable thermostats so that we can change the temperature automatically certain hours of the day.
Figuring out all the details like what brand of radiator to get, and from whom, and the cost, and what size and wattage we need for each room, etc. consumed MANY hours of my time! What a project!
July 6—Late-night thoughts
I am feeling strangely awake at this late hour of 11 p.m. I should be in bed. I feel like I am changing almost as fast as Max—with new feelings, realizations, and practical knowledge every day. So far, I feel satisfied with the kind of mother I am being. I think that I tend to Max's needs, watch for his signals, am "there in the moment" (rather than preoccupied) often enough, etc. I am kind of surprised that I haven't yet done anything I regret.
Sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting for failure. Waiting to lose my temper or drop him or something. "Failure"—I need to change my definition of that. I won't be a failure the first time I lose my temper or accidentally hurt my son. It's hard for me to call myself "a good mom". Maybe that's because it's still hard for me to comprehend that I'm a mom at all!
Max is still smiling a lot. I just love his little grin! His whole face lights up! He's so unspoiled by worries, stress, rules, and complicated thoughts. His emotions look so pure to me.
Max's latest thing is the raspberry sound. He does the "th-th-th-th" version, the "p-p-p-p" version, and the "b-b-b-b" version. Lots of saliva flying around this house... Another sound he makes all the time is the little popping sound that happens when you open your mouth when your lips were just slightly sealed together. Almost a kissing sound, but without the pursing of the lips—a little pop. He starts doing this as soon as he wakes up on the morning, and I can hear him doing it after I put him to bed. :-)
He also loves playing peek-a-boo, banging things together or banging toys on the tray of his exer-saucer, and exploring with his hands and mouth. He loves toys that make any sound, but especially a crinkling noise. When I give him a piece of soft paper (like the stuff that ads are printed on, that's almost impossible to get a paper cut from), he rips it to shreds in seconds and really seems to enjoy the sound of it ripping. And as always, he loooooooves to stand and jump!
I guess I will go to bed.
July 5—What a night!
Yesterday we had a cleaning person come and clean our house for the first time! What luxury! When he and I were discussing what he would do, he pointed out a few things that we had been neglecting. (Embarrassing.) So he did a major cleaning, and from now on it will just be maintenance and any other special requests we come up with.
Wendy left yesterday. We had a good visit. High points for me were the planetarium at the Museum of Natural History and the Bird & Butterfly House. They both had neat gift shops, too. :-)
Wendy got out just in time, because last night was our worst night in a long time. For one thing, it was hot and muggy, so none of us slept well. For another thing, I had tried to give Max lentils for dinner. He hated them and I didn't think any of them got down his throat, but a few must have made it because I think he had some gas pain. He repeatedly woke up crying the same way he used to when awakened by pain. Maja woke me up once with her hoarking—I put her out. Then she woke me up meowing to get in. Later she woke me up again, meowing to get in! In my dazed state, I looked around for the other cat I must have let in. (Our neighbor has a cat that looks an awful lot like Maja, and I know that Maja has been in their house. Also, we have had other people's cats come in our house before.) But I didn't find any other cat. Maja must have jumped out the bedroom window after being let in the first time. Between Max and Maja, I don't think I slept more than 60 minutes consecutively. ARGH!
If today is as warm as yesterday, I'm going to haul Max's plastic bathtub outside and fill it with warm water and let him play in it! Wouldn't that be fun!
The other night we showed Wendy the video from Max's birth and the following couple of months. What a revelation for me. I didn't think I'd see anything new, but I was surprised by how different my feelings and my perspective are now than what I remember them being at that time. I'm so much more attached to our little guy now! Compared to now, I think the first couple of months were (for me, at least) dominated by shock and the struggle to adjust. And Max is now, of course, so much bigger, sturdier, full of personality, and fun to take care of. Taking care of him is a heck of a lot of work and I get awfully tired by evening, but I'm feeling a lot more confident as a mom, and I laugh many times every day. It is really rewarding. I'm glad I watched that video again. It was like reading an old diary and realizing how far you've come since you wrote it.
Wendy pointed out that with a child named Maximillian, Bengt and are are millianaires! Good one, Wendy!!
Hello! Things are fine here. Our little guy is maturing every day, quickly becoming less baby-like and more boy-like. Suddenly, he can sit up by himself! He sits and plays with his toys and with his feet. He can lean way forward to get something without falling over. And he's so aware of his surroundings! He's so interested that it is often difficult to nurse him. Staring into my armpit is boring, and he'd rather look around than eat. I'm trying all kinds of tricks to get him to hold still.
Max is really fun to play with now. We're making up all kinds of games. He loves jumping, being tossed up into the air, playing "airplane", jumping, peek-a-boo games, tickling, jumping, and little word games. And did I mention jumping? He plays with and chews on his toys, and he is becoming bored with the toys he's had all along so we're having to come up with new ones. (Of course we don't run out and buy a bunch of new toys but find household items that are appropriate for him to play with.)
He likes to make noises by pounding his toys on hard surfaces, shaking rattles, splashing in his bath water, etc. Of course he makes lots of noises with his mouth, too. He has a whole range of sounds he can make. His favorite is the raspberry sound. (The first raspberry sound he made, using just his lips, has now been replaced by the "th" raspberry sound, with his tongue between his lips, for maximum saliva dispersion.) He has also discovered that he can move his voice up and down the register. I've heard him test how far up the register he can go. It's really neat to hear him experiment with his voice.
Max is particularly interested in Maja. He watches her intently when she's around, and his little fist opens and closes—just itching to wrap around Maja's tail, we have to assume! Heaven help Maja when Max gets mobile!
Speaking of Maja, I had a terrible scare two days ago when I noticed Maja trying to pee every couple of minutes. Each time, she only got a couple of drops out, and she was licking herself continuously. I read in my cat book that if she can't pee, it's an emergency. I called the vet and they happened to have a cancellation just a half hour later, so I high-tailed it over there with her. I was scared to death she had something terribly wrong and we'd have to decide between an operation and putting her to sleep. But the vet felt her bladder and it was empty, so obviously Maja was able to pee. The vet couldn't even get a sample out. She said that Maja might have a urinary tract infection or an inflammation and that it would probably get better by itself. The vet also suggested that Maja's behavior might be due to jealousy, since we've had guests lately and Maja was already demoted a rung on the totem pole when Max arrived. The vet showed me how to feel Maja's bladder and tell if it's full. If Maja can't urinate and her bladder's full, then it's an emergency.
Typically, as soon as I got her home from the vet, her unusual behavior stopped. And here I was imagining the worst!
Yesterday morning we heard a classical jazz piano piece on the radio, and Max stopped jumping and playing, and just listened for the entire duration of the piece. Bengt is going to get some jazz piano out of his collection and we'll test if Max really prefers that kind of music or if it was just that particular piece he liked.
I made an important discovery this week: We've been letting Max sleep with his bedroom window open, and he's been waking up at around 3:30 every morning because the birds sing when the sun rises! ARGH! I happened to notice one morning when I entered his room that the birds were singing loudly. By the time I put him back to bed after his feeding, they had stopped. Doh! I'd wondered why his wake-up time had gradually moved from 4:30 to 3:30, and now I know! (Up until June 21, the sun had been rising earlier and earlier.)
Since then, I've been closing his window when I go to bed, and he hasn't woken up at that time since. He woke up once at 4:30, since then he's been sleeping until 5:30, after about eight hours of sleep, which as far as I know is about the most consecutive sleep you can expect from a 6-month-old. After a feed he goes back down for another couple of hours.
At Max's six-month check-up, I asked the midwife about Max's fear of sudden loud noises, and she confirmed it is a temporary stage. She said not to purposefully expose him to more stimulation, nor to protect him from it, but just to let it happen and try to comfort him when he gets upset. However, Max now seems to have outgrown his fear. At least, we haven't had that problem in awhile.
Max and Wendy and I went to the butterfly and bird house at Haga park the other day. They have a tropical atmosphere in there year-round, with hundreds of interesting birds, butterflies and plants to look at. Max rode quietly in his stroller the entire time we were there. He was very observant, and of course the sounds were all new, too.
Bengt and Wendy and I ate surströmming (an extremely foul-smelling type of herring) yesterday. I was sure the smell would bother Max, but it didn't. We even held the can up to his nose, and it was clear he could smell it, but he didn't wrinkle his nose or complain, the way he does in the elevators in Stockholm that smell like urine.
It is now clear that Max's eyes aren't going to be blue. I don't know what color they're going to end up, but it's not blue. Right now they're gray with some green in them.
June 28—Max's six-month checkup
At his 6-month checkup yesterday Max was 70.8 cm (almost 28") long and weighed 9810 g (21 1/2 lbs.). His length and height are way above average, at least for Swedish children. But he is very healthy and developing just as he should. There was only good news (just as we expected). Excellent.
He had his booster shot (or whatever it's called), as well, for the same five illnesses as two months ago. Since he screamed his head off the evening after his last vaccine, we gave him baby Tylenol as a preventative measure three hours after the shot and repeated it four hours later. Good thing we did, too. He didn't scream like last time, but he was obviously in distress until he fell deeply asleep late last night.
Max has been eating well. He eats a fair amount of fruit and cereal every day, and just yesterday we started with this other kind of liquid warm cereal (välling) that all Swedish babies get but doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in the world. He drinks it out of a bottle once a day and likes it. He's not drinking much formula anymore—doesn't need it. Partly because of the food he's eating and partly because my milk supply has (oddly) increased. Just a month ago he was getting 1/2 liter of formula per day. Now most days he doesn't need any at all. I nurse him 4 to 5 times a day.
Vegetables are another matter. Max would rather not eat vegetables. I can still get some into him most days, but not every day. He likes corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots from a jar (but not the ones I prepare myself). Broccoli is ok, too. Next I'm going to try beans and lentils. Anyone know how to cook them to minimize gas-building qualities? I know I've heard it before, but I've forgotten...
I am sorry I haven't been updating this site so often lately. Bernhard was here from Germany, and we really enjoyed that visit! And now Wendy is here from Michigan. Today is a beautiful day and we are going to Vaxholm after Max's first nap. I'll have to get caught up later.
We have Nancy Glass foremost in our thoughts today and in the coming days as she undergoes hip replacement surgery and begins recovery!
June 18—Max recognizes his name
Hi! Hope you are all well and have had a good weekend!
Today I made a lot of baby food. I peeled, cooked, and pureed potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. (Didn't peel the broccoli, of course...) Then I froze it all in small portions for Max. It was a lot of work. But the variety of vegetarian baby food in Sweden leaves a lot to be desired. There are plenty of fruits but few vegetables that aren't mixed with meat or fish. Isn't that strange? I haven't been able to find sweet potatoes or broccoli at all.
I give Max two foods at each meal, and this evening I had pureed avocado on the menu. When I asked Bengt what would go with avocado (thinking of potatoes or something), Bengt considered a moment and then said, "Nachos." Ha!
By the way, Max hated the avocado! He gagged and made some pretty horrific noises, and he wouldn't open his mouth for more. I gave that up pretty quickly. I tried carrots but those weren't popular today, either. So I gave him cereal since he didn't eat his cereal earlier today. Then I gave him blueberries for dessert and you wouldn't believe how fast those blueberries went down. I couldn't shovel them in fast enough! His mouth was purple and his little tummy was bloated from blueberries and Bengt took pictures. Bet my dad will enjoy that...
In the last few days Bengt and I have noticed Max responding when we say his name to get his attention. He looks toward the voice and makes eye contact and often smiles. It seems clear he knows his attention is being requested. Or at least he has learned that he will be rewarded with a toy or a bite of food or whatever if he responds.
Today I was holding Max at the kitchen door and Bengt was standing by the grill, about 20 feet away. Bengt called to Max, and at first Max just looked around confusedly, not seeing Bengt. Then Bengt waved his arm and Max saw him, recognized him, and smiled. Apparently 20 feet is at the edge of Max's awareness of space. Interesting! It must confuse him to see Papa so tiny! Usually he sees Papa's face close up.
This evening Bengt and I actually sat down and watched a movie together after Max went to sleep a little earlier than usual. We had the monitor on him, and after awhile it kept switching on and off but we couldn't hear what was triggering it. This usually means he's stirring, waking up. I went up to take care of him and found that his snoring was triggering the monitor! Ha ha! He was making these cute piglet noises. It's because he has a slight cold.
The cold has meant a setback in sleep habits. Max has woken us up 3-4 times the last few nights. Boo hoo!!
So I need to get to bed right away!
On Wednesday our dear old friend Bernhard is coming from Frankfurt. He stays until Sunday, and Wendy is arriving on Sunday. We will drop off Bernhard and pick up Wendy during the same trip to the airport! We are really looking forward to both visits.
Friday is Midsummer's Eve, Sweden's biggest holiday. We will have a small party—organized at the last minute. I hope Bengt has got it under control, because I know I don't!
June 15—Max's first soccer game
Today I took Max into town for an appointment and then over to Bengt's office so he could show off his son. I stayed in town, leaving Max for Bengt to take home, because I had an ACA board meeting in the evening. Max's naps were totally screwed up by our active day, and he was exhausted when I left him with Bengt.
Max slept in the car on the way home, but then he stayed awake until I got home. I couldn't believe it! With a total nap time of about 1 hour and 45 minutes all day! Bengt said Max cried whenever he tried to put him down, so Max got to stay up. (Now we know who's boss around here!!) I found them sitting together on the couch, watching a soccer game! Max was sitting up on the couch, wedged between Bengt and the arm of the couch. Too cute!! I had to take some pictures. He was mesmerized by the television—I could hardly get him to look at me, much less interact.
I was actually glad to find him awake. I took him upstairs, nursed him, and put him in his crib. He scrabbled around desperately looking for his blankie. When I stuck it in his hand, he buried his face in it and fell asleep instantaneously. :-)
One other detail from today: On the way over to Bengt's office I was entertaining Max while driving by saying "gubba-gubba-gubba-gubba", which for some reason cracks him up. Then for variety I said it in a very low voice and a very high voice. When I used the high voice, Max started crying! When I switched back to the low or normal voice, Max laughed. What the - ? We have a weird boy.
June 14—Look out Maja, here comes Max!
It looks like we are getting into a routine, at least in the mornings. Hurrah! Max very often wakes up for good about 6:30. I bring him to bed and nurse him, and we "talk" and/or snooze there for a little while, then we get up just in time for me to listen to the 7:45 news while eating my own breakfast. And Max has consistently been going down for a nap at 9 a.m.
Yesterday Max's afternoon nap was interrupted and he was cranky in the evening. Bengt wasn't home from work yet, so I held Max against my shoulder and bounced him a little while listening to music. He settled into a catatonic calm within about a minute, then slowly drifted off to sleep! I was gratified. Up until now, only Bengt has had that effect on Max.
Max and Maja have been eyeing each other lately. Max is definitely interested in this furry creature who moves and meows. Up until now Maja has enjoyed lying against Max's back when he was on his side facing me, because Max is warm and was not able to grab her. But the other day he manage to bury his little hand in her fur and pull out a handful, so I guess those days are over! Maja did not scratch him or anything, but just moved away. I could see that Maja didn't have any inclination to hurt Max but just keep her distance until he can learn to be gentle with her. I make sure Max can see how I pet her. Hopefully he will learn to treat her with respect and not pull her tail or try to dress her in doll clothes or anything like that.
Well, our long weekend is over. I had so many plans for getting things done around here, but of course only about half of it got done. The lawn is fertilized and more weeds have been pulled, more grass seed is sowed (that word looks strange), the shopping got done, the laundry room is clean, etc. The most important task that didn't get done is the summer tires put on the car! We still have the winter tires on it! I just realized this the other day! Doh! I guess these things happen when you have too many things to keep track of.
We had some wonderful dinner guests over on Sunday. It was a high school friend of Bengt's, his wife, and their two children. The youngest one, Wilhelm, was exactly one year old and very cute. It was interesting to see at approximately what level Max will be in six or seven months. Wow! The older one, Viktor, was almost ten years old, very pleasant, and a wonder with his brother and with Max! Max was enchanted with Viktor! It was great fun to watch them.
So far (it's 9 a.m.) the day is cloudy and cool, but it's supposed to get warm and sunny later. Max and I are meeting another mom & baby for coffee this afternoon.
The friends I told you about that were in labor had a baby girl. The baby got into trouble about an hour after I wrote, and she was rescued by an emergency C-section. All are fine now. The baby is cuuuuuuuuute! Looks just like her mother already!!
Max and I had a stressful day yesterday but a great one today! Yesterday after only very short naps I finally got Max to sleep at 4:15 p.m. and he slept almost constantly until 7:15 a.m.! This morning Max woke up very happy. And he fell asleep twice by himself today. The first time he slept 2.5 hours and the second time 1 hour. He is still in a terrific mood. Life is so much easier when he sleeps well and is content!
Our friends Bengt and Liz just called us (7 p.m. our time). Liz is in labor and they are at the hospital. Our thoughts are with them! Please send out a good wish to them, even if you don't know them. It is easy to get teary-eyed thinking of what they are going through right now, since we went through a similar experience ourselves so recently.
Solid foods are going down better now. Max really likes corn. But fruits are even better. And today when he had a bottle of formula and I had a pear, he kept looking jealously at my pear. I let him suck on it and he went to town. So I switched the formula for some baby pear juice that I happened to have in the cupboard. He sucked that down in no time!
Monday is a holiday here. I am so glad this is a long weekend. I've been longing to spend some time with Bengt. He works so many hours!
Have a good weekend, everyone!
Max had his final swim lesson yesterday, and I'm happy to say it seems to have been very worthwhile. He had a great time, and he went under water six times with barely a reaction. He got a little diploma (rolling eyes). His first of many, I assume.
Max was so docile and quiet yesterday that Bengt and I were worried he was sick or something. Then suddenly in the late afternoon he turned into a total spaz, jumping and talking non-stop! He continued until well past his usual bedtime, so we were hoping he would be extra tired and sleep through the night. WRONG! He woke up at 11 p.m. (? he never wakes up at that time!), 3:30, and 5:30, and then the spazmo-boy got up for good at 6:30 and immediately commenced jumping!
I had gone to sleep around 10:30, and I got up each of those times, so needless to say, this morning I was exhausted. I avoided coffee so I could sleep while Max had his morning nap, but he only slept a half hour! Boo-hoo! I could have slept for hours! We invited another mom and her baby over for lunch to keep ourselves occupied.
Max is eating "solid" foods (i.e. pureed or mashed) twice a day, but he still hasn't really gotten the hang of it yet. I don't worry about getting large amounts into him. That would take too long! Fruits definitely go down easier than vegetables and cereals ... hmm. I try to let him enjoy the taste and have fun. He's still fine with formula and breastmilk anyway.
We're having some great weather—sunny but cool. Over the weekend I pulled weeds for hours at a time. We have the kind of monster dandelions in our lawn that make me wonder if there's been some kind of nuclear accident that they're not telling us about. I only got up a small fraction of them, in spite of a great weed-pulling tool that I discovered.
Now every time I close my eyes, I see weeds. And you know that multi-colored vinyl flooring that doesn't have any pattern but just a lot of specks? I see weeds in that, too. (Usually I see letters of the alphabet.) It reminds me of the early 80's when I was spending a lot of time playing the video game Asteroids. I saw asteroids everywhere!
June 3—Signing Max up for daycare and (gulp) elementary school
I'm in the process of signing Max up at various daycare centers, ten months before he's supposed to start. We plan to start him at daycare in April 2001, and it's not at all certain that we'll get our first choice since I waited this long. So I'm not going to make the same mistake when it comes to schools. I heard some bad things about our neighborhood elementary school. In Sollentuna county you can send your kid to any school, public or private, as long as there's room there. Each school has its own waiting list. So I'm getting Max signed up at the Montessori school in our neighborhood and the other private school over by ReadSoft that I heard was very good. I hope that our neighborhood elementary school has shaped up again by the time it's time for Max to attend. But if it hasn't, I want to have some options.
The plan is for Max to start first grade in the fall of 2006, when he's 6 years and 9 months old. Swedish kids generally start first grade during the calendar year they turn 7, so Max will be among the youngest. If he doesn't seem ready in 2006, we can send him the following year. (And if he'd been born two days later, that would have been Plan A.) It would seem strange for us Americans to send an almost-8-year-old to first grade, wouldn't it! I want to send him in 2006.
For some reason, it doesn't seem strange at all to be planning for Max's future like this. I have no problem envisioning him as a six-year-old, going off to school. We have already made some long-term investments for him to (hopefully) benefit from as an adult, and starting school is much closer.
Max fell asleep last night at 6 p.m. and I was really worried that he would wake up at 4 a.m. and be ready to rock and roll. I woke him up for a feed at 11 p.m., then he woke up for another (Bengt gave him a bottle) at 3:30, and then he slept until 7:15! Hurrah!! I got a great night's sleep!
June 2, 2000—Max suddenly talking more
When I last wrote on May 30, Max had refused to go to sleep for his naps in his crib. I was expecting the same struggle when I put him to bed that night, but it was no problem! I do not understand what is going on! Sometimes he falls asleep willingly by himself, and other times he needs company.
In any case, Max is still not sleeping as well as before we went to Perstorp. No more travels until his sleep patterns are fixed!
I forgot to tell you that when we were in Perstorp, Bengt called and asked to speak to Max. I held the phone up to Max's ear, and when he heard Papa's voice he suddenly held still and his eyes registered that he was listening. Then he turned his head to look at the phone. "What's Papa doing in there?" We did this twice, with exactly the same result each time. For some reason I was surprised. I guess I didn't think he'd be able to understand that someone's voice was coming from the phone. He understands more than I give him credit for sometimes.
Yesterday Max discovered new ways to use his voice! We were lying in bed all relaxed, and out of nowhere he started making all these new sounds, mostly vowels, and using his voice all up and down the register. It went on and on and on! Bengt, attracted by the sounds, came in and took some video footage.
I wondered what he was trying to say. Bengt speculated, "'Feed me, you morons!'" Ha ha!
Max was so excited that he skipped his afternoon nap. I was wondering how the evening was going to go. I found out when I tried to feed him at 6 p.m. Suddenly he turned his head from side to side a few times, whined a little, and abruptly fell asleep! Good grief!
Unfortunately, he woke up lots of times during the night. And each time he had a poopy diaper to change! ARGH! I didn't get much sleep. This morning he was a spazmaster. I put him in his exer-saucer with a bazillion toys on the tray, and he systematically picked up each one and dropped it over the edge onto the floor. Then he jumped up and down like a maniac until I came and loaded up the tray again. If he does that again, I'm going to fill up the tray with a whole bag of plastic picnic spoons I have. That ought to keep him busy for awhile! :-)
Max is definitely reacting to other babies' cries. He cries right along with them. I don't imagine that he's actually feeling sympathy with the other babies. It's much more egocentrical, isn't it? Just like when other people laugh and it puts him in touch with his own humor and he laughs right along. Right? We now go to lengths to avoid crying babies.
Yesterday Bengt and I went to the hardware store to buy a saw to cut down dead trees (which Bengt promptly used to cut his hand open) and a part for our toilet. Then we went to Babyland and looked at highchairs and carseats but only bought a couple of little things. Also toured Stockholm's new Toys R Us, which as far as I can tell is identical to the American version except the prices are higher! Didn't buy anything there, but Bengt and I agreed we're going to have lots of fun buying toys for Max when he's a little older!!
Then we came home and did some weed-pulling (Eileen) and some garage-sweeping and hand-cutting (Bengt). Bengt came in with blood pouring out of his hand from THREE cuts he managed to make with the saw (all in one swipe). I will spare you the gory details, 'cause it's okay now and he didn't need stitches. Will this be a handy excuse to get out of changing diapers?? :-(
The other day I was talking with Bengt about what a full-time-and-more job it is to take care of Max (even with his help), and how this is taking its toll on me. Bengt said that after Max is weaned, I can go away for a weekend by myself, or he and Max can go away for a weekend and leave me alone at home. I hadn't even thought of that! I am so grateful! I can really look forward to that.
One roll of film is almost full, so I expect we'll have new pictures in the coming week... Stay tuned and have a good weekend!