What's New at the Pålssons'


What's New at the Pålssons'
Self-absorbed rambling, useless trivia and shameless bragging

April 30, 2001—Why can't we all be healthy for just a single solid month?

Anders was here this weekend, and both Max and Anders (and of course Bengt and I) really enjoyed that. It's neat to see Max light up whenever Anders comes into the room. And he recognized Anders in the family book that Lin made for him! They were looking at it together, and when they got to the picture of Anders, Max turned around and pointed at him. I think that's super neat!

We took Max to Skansen (the zoo) on Sunday, and Max enjoyed certain things, but watching the animals without being able to touch them just wasn't as interesting to him as we'd hoped. I guess we need to wait a few more months or a year, or wait until the children's pet-the-animals section opens.

Anders brought Max a child's vacuum cleaner. It really works. It actually sucks up tiny pieces of paper or whatever (though the vacuum isn't very strong, obviously), and best of all, it makes almost as much noise as a real vacuum cleaner! ;-O Max is just as reluctant to push the "on" button on this toy as on the real thing. The hose is manageable, though (as opposed to the real thing), so he can vacuum things up like a big boy.

I had to take Max to see the doctor this morning, because the rash he picked up in Cozumel had gotten out of control. I took him a week ago and they thought it looked like a fungus, so we put anti-fungal cream on it for a week. The rash changed in character and then suddenly became much worse. Now he has very raw, oozing skin all around his scrotum and under his penis, and it's obviously painful. They did a culture and found strep in it, so now we have antibacterial cream. Poor Max!

They didn't put Max on oral antibiotics because he doesn't have any other symptoms. But I wonder if Max's infection could have anything to do with the nasty sore throat that Bengt came down with two days ago... Doh! After we found out about Max's strep, I tried to get Bengt to have a throat culture taken, but as usual he's reluctant visit the doctor. If I get strep throat from Bengt because he's not taking care of it, I'm not gonna be happy!

In the meantime, I've been nauseous three days in a row. I'm fine as long as I'm lying down, but it's "iffy" when I sit up, and when I walk around I can (but don't always) get so dizzy that I nearly faint and/or throw up. No other symptoms except fatigue. Weird!

Tomorrow is a holiday, which makes today a half-day at most businesses. So I took the day off. I'd planned to do some shopping (this was before I got sick), but as it turned out I spent quite a bit of time with Max over at the clinic. Then after I dropped Max off at Birgitta's, I came home and locked myself out. Argh! I called Bengt on my cell phone, and he very kindly drove home to let me in. He didn't even berate me for locking myself out. Actually, he couldn't figure out how I did it. It's not easy to lock yourself out of our house. (What I did was open the garage door with my keys, throw the keys on the dashboard as I drove the car in, then flip the lock on the garage door before I closed it to go up the outside steps to the front door—without taking the house keys from the car. Doh!) When I told Bengt how I did it, he said, "Clever!"

Anyway, we promptly fell asleep until it was time to collect Max. I think I'll be spending a good part of today in a horizontal position.

April 22

Hello. Hope everyone's well and had a good weekend. We had a decent weekend. The high point was visiting my colleague Birgitta and her daughter Lina today. Max and Lina really played together for the first time. I mean really played rather than just doing their own thing in the same room. It was neat to see.

Yesterday I drove over the home of an American acquaintance whose family is moving back to the U.S. They had some children's things to sell. I did get some things for Max, but the big surprise was that her downhill ski boots fit me perfectly. They have never been used, and she sold me the boots, skis and poles for 600 kronor (about $60)! I haven't been skiing in years, and normally I wouldn't bother, but we have a small ski hill about 1/2 mile from our house, and I know I'll ski there if I have my own equipment (I don't think you can rent stuff there). Especially once Max gets old enough to go with me. We can take beginning ski lessons together! As an added bonus, Bengt and I have the same shoe size, so the ski stuff should work for him, too (the boots are men's), if he ever decides he wants to stop being a couch potato.

And that's not all. They have a jungle gym in their back yard that they described in the ad as simply "child's playset" and asked $220 for, so I wasn't interested (nor was anyone else, obviously). But I caught sight of it when I was there, and it's a wonderful Little Tykes jungle gym with two slides! It cost $470 new in the US, and I don't think you can buy it here (and even if you could, it would cost twice that). So I bought that, as well as their Little Tykes sandbox with the lid and all the sandbox toys for $15. They won't be ready to part with those things until they leave (probably June), but Max is still too little for that stuff anyway. He may be ready this fall or next spring, and then we'll be prepared! We'll put the stuff on the south side of the house, that flat, protected spot that Max can't "escape" from. Perfect!!! It'll be very practical to have an interesting playground right in our own yard, for Max and for his little friends (read: my friends with their kids) when they come over.

Bengt has updated the website with Max's pictures.

April 15—We're home!

Helloooooo! We all made it home from our vacation in one piece. I didn't want to write much about our plans before, since anyone could have read about it and broken into our house while we were away. As it turns out, our home alarm was tripped twice! The security people came to check it out, but they couldn't figure out what had happened, as there were no signs of a break-in. Hmm. Well, so far we haven't noticed anything missing. I did find a pack of Marlboro cigarettes on our property, though.

I'm going to write a rough chronological account of our trip, mostly for our own future reference. Just skip it if you're not interested!

March 30: The hideous flight to Mexico City

We had a truly awful flight to Mexico City. Max was no longer feverish, but his nose was completely stuffed up, so every time he fell asleep (which he did about 10-12 times), he woke up gasping for air. If we'd been at home, I think he would have squirmed around until he found a position that propped his mouth open or just struggled through the night, but being on the plane, he wasn't as comfortable, and he cried pitifully.

There were a few good moments with the new toys we'd brought along and new people, buttons to push, etc. But overall it was an experience we'd prefer not to repeat.

So we were completely exhausted and frazzled when we arrived in Mexico City. But the fun didn't stop there. It turned out that our luggage was checked through to Cozumel (despite assurances to the contrary at the check-in counter in Stockholm), and as we were spending the night in Mexico City, we had to send someone over to the other airline to dig it out for us. That took "ten minutes" Mexican time or 45 minutes by my watch. This is after we stood around waiting in vain for our bags to come off the regular baggage claim. Argh!

By the time we got our bags, the terminal was positively packed with people arriving from all over the world, and there was only one way out and very few people covering the customs end of things. It took what seemed like an eternity to get out of there. Max was again crying pitifully, wanting to either get out of his stroller and run around (which I couldn't let him do in that zoo), or finally get some sleep! I felt so bad. We were all dead tired.

Then there was the 30-minute wait for the Holiday Inn shuttle. We should have just taken a cab.

However, once we got to the hotel, things started looking up. The hotel was very comfortable and clean, and all three of us slept well. We got up, had a leisurely breakfast, packed up, and went back to the airport for our short flight to Cozumel. That went well. Max was flirting wildly with all the other passengers and the flight attendants.

One funny thing happened at the airport: While we were wandering around waiting for our flight to start boarding, we came across a row of bronze busts of famous Mexicans. Max insisted on being lifted up to see them. He tweaked the nose of the first bust and then pointed to the next one, tweaked that nose and then pointed to the next. In the end, Max had seen and tweaked the noses of 15-20 bronze busts! Too bad we didn't think of video-taping this! It was hilarious.

Incidentally, the three Mexican airports we saw during our vacation were all very modern and extremely clean.

March 31: Our first day in Cozumel

We arrived at El Cozumeleno Beach Resort at about 4:00 p.m. and fell in love with the place at first sight. We completely unpacked in our room (no. 1318) within 15 minutes and headed straight down to the pool that was just below our balcony. (There were several pools.) The weather was fabulous, everything was clean, the people were friendly, and the water was just cool enough to be refreshing.

Then we had dinner, after which Bengt and Max immediately fell asleep for the night. I stayed up to wait for the rest of the family to arrive—which they did around 10:30 p.m. It was great to see them! I had a drink outside with my parents and then went to bed myself.

April 1 - 7: Fun in Cozumel

The rest of the week can only be described as a luxury vacation. We spent as much time as possible outdoors. It was so warm that we sat in the shade usually under an umbrella) whenever possible. (We still got tan, in spite of gallons of sunscreen.) I went snorkeling for the first time and really enjoyed it. I saw a lot of exotic fish the second time around, and I'm grateful I didn't run into any barracudas, as Lin did.

The place was a paradise for all of us, including Max and his cousins. Max and I went barefoot most of the time. Max enjoyed:

  • Going up and down all the steps in the place (and there were many!). By the end of the vacation, Max could walk up and down most stairs by himself. In fact, today for the first time Max walked down the stairs in our house by himself, with no hands and no help. (Of course I walked backwards below him, just in case.)

  • "Swimming" in the ocean for the first time. He really liked it, especially after his cousin Ben showed him how to jump in the waves.

  • Playing in the pools. He would often point to the pool to let me know he wanted to go in. He put his own face in the water, and by the time the week was over he was jumping into my arms from the side of the pool. I'd let him go under and then pull him back up. In Florida he struggled to get out of my arms, even though he wasn't wearing a life jacket or any kind of floatation device (he apparently can't stand those things). So I let him go. He sunk like a rock and I had to haul him back up, but he came out smiling! He also loved watching other kids (especially his cousins) jump and swim.

  • Playing on the beach, pushing the elevator buttons, and so on.

  • Just running around, exploring and making friends. He smiled at everyone. The guests at the resort, mostly Americans and Canadians, were constantly saying to me how cute and charming he was. The Mexicans, too, who seem to love all children, were very kind to him. It was embarrassing that people started recognizing me because of Max, when there was no way I could remember everyone whom Max had charmed—especially since I wasn't always with him when he did it.

Max had such a good time, in fact, that he woke up very early every morning and would not go back to sleep (like Christmas morning every morning). At home he usually wakes up once around 5:30 and then goes back to sleep, but while on vacation he was too excited to go back to sleep. So the latest he got up was 6:20 a.m. The earliest was 3:20 a.m.—ugh! Bengt and I quickly learned that it was hopeless to try to get Max back to sleep, and it was best to just take him outside for a little adventure. Our neighbors at the hotel in Cozumel helped us realize this by calling us at 5:00 a.m. one morning and saying, "Could you please take care of your baby?" Yikes.

The breakfast buffet opened at 7 a.m., so Max and whoever had him that morning were always first in line! But after breakfast Max took a lengthy nap, as did (sometimes) the early-bird parent. We had help from the rest of the family, too. Grandma and Grandpa stayed in the room with him while he slept a couple of times. Grandpa spent a lot of time following Max around on his adventures and protecting him from harm. Lin and Mark also took care of Max sometimes, when we needed a break. Even cousin Ben helped Max get around!

The best part, of course, was sharing the time with our family (Mom & Dad, Lin & Mark, Ben & Elliot). Just talking, lounging or playing on the beach, or eating. It definitely wouldn't have been the same without the whole family.

The only low point was when all of us except Bengt took a tour on a glass-bottom boat. Max threw up right away (on me). He hated being on the boat and cried almost continuously. We had to go up on deck, and even then he was miserable. Fortunately, he was himself again as soon as we went ashore.

April 8: The flight to Orlando

While the rest of the family left late on April 7, Bengt and Max and I had another night at the resort. Our departure, the flight to Orlando via Cancun, and our arrival at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort were utterly uneventful. After dinner, I did two loads of laundry at the hotel's laundromat. The hotel was very nice, but it didn't have nearly the character that El Cozumeleno did. We were spoiled!

April 9 - 11: Fun at Disney parks

Since there was a two-hour time difference, Bengt and I had looked forward to Max getting up at a more normal time for a toddler. But this was not to be. He adjusted immediately and continued waking up no later than 6 a.m. Since Bengt was attending his conference, I got in the habit of giving Max breakfast in the room and then taking him outside to wander around the grounds and swim in one of the pools. Two of the pools were heated, so we didn't get chilled even though the mornings were cooler than the sweltering afternoons and evenings.

An enduring memory is the vision of Max reclining on a big lounge chair after a swim, his face relaxed and full of pleasure, immensely enjoying the morning sun, Mama's company, and a banana and juice. It's such a gift to see your beloved kid so happy.

I got a two-day pass and took Max to both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. He was generally interested and had a good time, although there weren't many rides for toddlers.

But by far the most exciting thing for Max was meeting Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and Chip and Dale!! I had to hold on to Max while we waited for our turn, because he was squirming and wiggling to get to the characters. Fortunately, the lines weren't long. As soon as I let him go, he shot out of my arms and ran over and threw himself on the characters. If they weren't kneeling down already, he hugged their legs. They all bent down and put their arms around him, and Max just loved that. Two of them started patting and rocking Max, and he stayed buried in their arms for so long that I was a bit embarrassed that he was taking such a long turn.

There was a park ranger near each Disney character, to guide the line and so on. Tigger's ranger had to tell Tigger that it was time to put Max down and let another child have a turn. Tigger shook his head and held Max even tighter! When I went to take Max from his arms, Tigger turned away and indicated that he was keeping Max! It was hilarious.

Other people around us would look at Max and say things like, "Oh, look at that darling little boy hugging Winnie the Pooh!" and "Oh, look at that, isn't that sweet?!" Many of them took pictures or filmed Max hugging the characters. Of course, I took pictures, too, but I really wish I'd had the video camera with me, to get the full effect. A picture of a hug isn't going to convey the same intensity as if you could see Max rushing over there and spending half a minute or more wrapped in the arms of a huge furry Disney character.

I know the crew members aren't supposed to pick up the children, but Tigger and Eeyore did. When I thought about it later, I realized it must be really rewarding for the "cast members" when a little child is as excited as Max to meet them. Almost all of the other kids were collecting autographs and then having their pictures taken beside the Disney characters. I didn't see any other kid run up to the characters, so obviously excited and only interested in hugging them. A park ranger told me, too, that it's rare for such a small child to run up and hug a character. Most range from cautious to terrified. (As Bengt pointed out, to them Mickey Mouse is just a big rat!)

Max was reluctant to be taken away from the characters, but he didn't complain or cry. He just waved bye-bye and then stood at a distance for a little while, watching.

Another memorable event was when we happened to be having ice cream in a restaurant when a show started. We only stayed for the first part, which consisted of a cowboy/sheriff singing and interacting with the guests. The guy got most of the kids to come forward and line up along one wall of the restaurant. He swore them in as deputies and got them to do funny things.

At one point they were singing a song with motions, and Max struggled out of my arms to go join them. As we were right down in front and I could grab him if necessary, I let him go. He went and stood in front of the line of children and tried to copy the motions. It was too cute!!!! People pointed, laughed, and took movies of him. But when the song ended with a resounding "YEE-HAAA!!", Max got alarmed and scurried back to my lap. It was really precious.

Another fun thing we did was go to the Disney store in the hotel. Max loved looking at all the colorful things, especially the stuffed animals. The simple look of joy in his face and his shriek of delight as he clutched a giant Winnie the Pooh nearly caused me to shell out 45 bucks for the thing. However, he soon tossed it aside and lurched for the next Piglet in line. I chased after him, picking up the trail of stuffed animals he left behind him. In the end, all we bought was a pair of Mickey Mouse ears for Max. He doesn't like them, but I do!

April 12: Visited Aunt Ella in St. Petersburg

On the 12th we rented a car and drove over to St. Petersburg to see Aunt Ella. (It was about a two-hour drive, and Max slept most of the way.) I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, and she'd never met Bengt or Max. She kindly treated us to lunch, and afterwards we hung out at the pool at her complex. Max and I swam there, and we all enjoyed the mild weather. Then we sat in a shady garden for a little while before heading back to Orlando. Max fell asleep in his carseat before we even got out of the parking lot. It was a good visit, and it was really good to see Ella.

April 13: Time to go home!

Well, it was an awesome vacation, but Bengt and I both felt ready to get home. Even Max seemed "vacationed out". The trip went fairly well, although Max couldn't seem to get comfortable and thus didn't sleep much. (So Bengt and I didn't sleep, either.)

The low point was when the older man next to me, at first not realizing that I understood Swedish, complained to the SAS flight attendant about being seated next to a baby and called him a "little terror". What a jerk! Later he offered his version of an "apology" (ha!), saying that he has two children of his own and likes children, but they should not be allowed to act like Max on a plane. He said, "If I as an adult would act like that, I'd be handcuffed and fined." ?!?!? Duh! No one expects a one-year-old to act like an adult! That man may think he likes children, but what he likes is tiny adults. I was really P-O'ed, especially since he turned down an offer to be re-seated and barely used the earplugs that were handed out to all passengers. Max certainly wasn't on his best behavior, but he wasn't awful, and no one else complained (that we know of).

April 14 - 15: Adjusting just fine...

We arrived home early on Saturday morning, and we've all been sleeping unusual times but slowly getting back on schedule. (I slept 12 hours per night the last two nights!) Max obviously recognizes his home and his neighborhood, and he seems fine but not overly excited to be back or play with his toys. Mostly he wants to run around outside. Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day, sunny and cool—a nice break from the sweltering heat in Cozumel and Orlando.

Max has these strange sores that I thought at first were diaper rash. Now I think that some kind of insect must have gotten into his diaper or swimsuit in Cozumel and bitten or stung him. The sores don't seem to improve with various anti-diaper-rash creams, but now they're finally blistering and scabbing over. They don't seem to bother Max, but if they don't start receding in another couple of days, or if they get infected, I guess we'll have to take him to a doctor.

The shoes I took with us for Max, which fit just fine when we left, can't even be crammed on his feet anymore (not that I'd let him run around in shoes that are too small). He seems to have grown quite a bit while we were gone. He also looks very healthy and lightly tanned, and now that we're back in our usual environment we can see how much he has learned in just two weeks. Yesterday he carefully stacked TEN one-notch Duplo blocks. Plus now he's much steadier on his feet and can do stairs by himself.

Max's dagmamma stopped by today while we were outside, and Max smiled wide and called her by name ("Gitta", he said—her name's Birgitta). I guess it will be fine to take him back to her tomorrow, when Bengt and I go back to work. Today, Monday, was a holiday.

A huge thank-you to my wonderful parents for a vacation we will never forget!

March 27—Oh noooooooo!

Poor Max has had a relapse. Birgitta called me at work this morning and said Max had gotten whiny and then started crying inconsolably. When I got there to pick him up, he was asleep on her lap. I took him home and put him straight to bed.

Then I called the doctor, who looked at his lab report and said that he had tested positive for I think it was three different bacteria. Two of them are known to be resistant to the penicillin we're giving him. So she wrote him a new prescription, which Bengt is out picking up as I write this. So now we start over with 7 more days of antibiotics. I sure hope he's feeling up to snuff for our trip!

I guess we'll be keeping him home tomorrow, as well.

Nothing else is new. You all take care.

March 23

Oops, I originally wrote the wrong date on that last entry. I've corrected it now.

Max is still not up to snuff, but he's not sick anymore. Still doesn't eat much, still sleeping a lot.

This weekend we have a friend over from Ann Arbor. That'll be fun. I hope he doesn't get the bug that's going around here.

Max is sleeping now, and I have to go do laundry, eat lunch, and shower before I go off to work when Bengt gets home. Have a good weekend, everyone!

March 21

Max is still very tired. I took him outside at 10 a.m. (at his request), but he was so tired that mostly he just stood in the driveway crying. Took him back in, gave him a bottle, and he took a record-breaking 4 1/2-hour nap. Then he was tired again at bedtime. So we'll keep him home from daycare at least tomorrow, and possibly Friday, as well.

He has barely eaten since Saturday. And I really mean barely. He drinks enough, but he's utterly uninterested in food. You can really see he's lost weight. But I'm not worried (yet)—he had plenty of reserves.

In case you haven't looked recently, there are a few new pictures on the other website. The brown stuff dribbling down his chin in one of the pictures was from his first cookie—the one that made him break out in hives a few hours later.

March 20—Much better now, thank you

Poor Max was really sick last night. His temp spiked up even higher. He had chills and was trembling all over. As you know, I'm not one to panic and run to the doctor, but I called the 24-hour medical hotline in the middle of the night to consult with a nurse and reassure myself that I wasn't being negligent by not rushing him to the ER. She reassured me, and I gave Max extra Tylenol and he settled down. Whew!

We had a doctor's appointment today at 2:00, and we got antibiotics. Afterwards, I went off to work. Max had been extremely tired, whiny, and emotionally fragile all day (when he wasn't sleeping), and he had vomitted and had diarrhea, so I was worn out. By the time I got home at 8:20 p.m., he'd gotten his antibiotics and had another nap, and he was rockin' and rollin'! Our happy little boy was back! It's hard to believe that antibiotics can work so fast, but this happened the last two times, as well—dramatic improvement within just hours.

I just put Max to bed, and boy is he P.O.'ed. He was all excited about rediscovering everything, and sleeping is the last thing he feels like doing. But those bags under his eyes tell another story.

I can't believe we're leaving for vacation in just over a week. We haven't even started to think about packing. Seems like it's still months off, but it's definitely not!

March 18—DOH!

Bad bad bad, Eileen! Yesterday I wrote, "I'm grateful Max isn't sick..." and sure enough, last last night he woke up with a high fever and puked up what was left of his dinner. He was up at least once an hour for the rest of the night. Poor little gubben!!

Max has been very sick all day. His body obviously aches badly, and he's spent a lot of time sitting on our laps or laying on us, watching TV, listening to music, rocking, looking at books, and getting massages. His temperature has been over 103 degrees without Tylenol, so we've been pushing the limit of how much we can give him. (Personally, I think that fever serves a purpose, but Bengt feels strongly about giving Tylenol, and it does seem to make him feel better, so...)

Max hasn't been able to keep down any solids, but fortunately he keeps down juice and water, and he doesn't have diarrhea, so I'm not really worried about him. This afternoon I called Max's dagmamma, Birgitta, to tell her that Max would be staying home tomorrow, and she mentioned that blueberry soup is good for sick little ones. So I went and bought some, and sure enough Max drank a big cup full and kept it down.

One of the books we looked at was one of his favorites: Ben and Elliot's book of baby faces. Max usually flips through the pages quickly, sometimes pausing on the last page ("silly") because there's a baby with what looks like Max's Bedtime Bunny on her head. This time, however, Max stopped at "sad" and seemed for the first time to really see the sad babies. I talked about how maybe those babies are sick just like Max, and how Max is sad like them, because he doesn't feel well. He pointed to those babies and made comments that I couldn't understand. (Sounded like agreement, though!)

Max is asleep now (8 p.m.), but I don't expect he'll sleep all night without comfort and more Tylenol. Bengt and I are doing damage control—washing soiled clothing and so forth—before hitting the hay ourselves. Phew!

March 17—Max's first salon haircut

We had a pretty good week. I'm grateful Max isn't sick, considering how many colds and flus are going around. He's been coughing for a couple of weeks, but not too bad, and he has no fever, and he seems to feel fine. Bengt, on the other hand, had a pretty bad cold this week. He even stayed home on Thursday.

There's lots happening with Max right now. I don't know what to attribute to influences outside the home and what is just natural development. I guess it doesn't matter.

For one thing, he's suddenly expressing very strong preferences about what he wants to do, and when. He hasn't been eating much, because he often doesn't happen to want to eat at the usual times, or he doesn't feel like eating what's on the menu. When he's done, he throws his cup or spoon on the floor, and he's also not above going "th-b-th-b-th-b" and spraying whatever he had in his mouth all over the place. That's when Mama says This meal is over.

Sometimes he doesn't want to go to sleep when we think he should (and can see he's tired). He protests very loudly, which we haven't seen in many months. When we go in to comfort him, he's really howling, but there's not a tear in sight! To me this means he's not afraid or in any discomfort. He simply doesn't want to sleep. While I respect his yelling as a way of letting us know what he wants, it doesn't mean we're to give in...

Max also seems to know just what activity he prefers and which toys he wants to play with. If the toy isn't available or it's not convenient to go outside or whatever, Max can be very persistent and get very angry when he doesn't get what he wants. It's almost impossible to distract him with something else, and it's really tiring. I realized very quickly that I need to choose my battles carefully. If I can let him do what he wants without too much inconvenience or danger, I do. If I decide to say no, I have to be ready for a lot of whining, pointing, yanking on my pants, crying, or whatever. I really have a difficult time with this. I try to reason with him, but of course he can't understand. I really hate hearing him whine and cry. Sometimes I say Aaarrrrrggggghhhhhhh!! Max thinks this is interesting, and he says it himself sometimes.

Then there's good stuff, too. For instance, when I drop him off at daycare, he comes to collect a hug and kiss when it's time to say good-bye. (We're always hugging and kissing him, so we've never made a point of hugging and kissing before bye-bye or when it's time for bed. So he's obviously gotten this from the other kids.)

Also, when we start talking about going outside, and when Bengt picks Max up from daycare, Max fetches his boots and sits down by the door, waiting for us to dress him. This makes it much easier than his previous squirmy behavior!

Max is also interested in undressing himself. He can pull his arms out of the sleeves and kick off his boots if we loosen them. And what a proud little smile when we praise him!

We had guests over for dinner last night, and Max enjoyed all the extra attention. At one point he was running up and down the hall, skipping and jumping for pure joy! It was really a sight to see.

Max is still not afraid of strangers. He smiles and sometimes waves when new people approach, and they can pick him up if they're not too sudden about it. He's also not afraid of animals. The huge dog down the street, Trudi, runs right up to him (with my permission) and licks his face, and Max just laughs. He laughs with delight when Trudi sneezes or shakes herself.

Max had his first real haircut this morning. I took him over to the salon, and due to a misunderstanding we had to wait a half hour. At first I was dismayed, but in retrospect I think it was good, because Max got to wander around and see other people (including other little kids) getting their hair cut. When it was his turn, he didn't complain too much. I asked the guy to cut it as quickly as possible, and count on us having to depart on short notice, because I wasn't going to let Max sit there and scream. His haircut's not that important.

I ended up having to hold his head still for a few minutes, but he didn't protest as strongly as I thought he would. He didn't mind having the trimmer used on him, either. The guy showed it to him first. Max watched the process in the mirror. But after 8-10 minutes he'd had just about enough, thank you! The haircut turned out a little shorter than I expected, but it looks pretty good. Now it's my turn. I haven't had a haircut since August!

March 9

I can see that this website has turned into a bragging forum for me. I'm sorry it's so extreme! Maybe I should try to tone it down. I've been feeling so in love with Max lately. Like most moms, I imagine, I think my kid is the most fascinating and wonderful person. I can't help it. This is such a wonderful age, and I'm working hard at being a good mom and nurturing him and keeping him safe and healthy, so I'm totally wrapped up in my son. At the same time, I see older kids and think, "I can't wait until Max is that old" because his personality is unfolding more and more, and that's exciting.

This morning I was combing my hair and something struck Max as funny about that. He started laughing and laughing. The more I combed, the more he laughed. It was very strange, since he's seen me comb my hair probably a hundred times. Finally he was laughing so hard that he toppled over and hit his head on the bathroom floor. He started crying about that, yet he still couldn't stop laughing! What a weird kid.

Max is going through a fat phase. When I gave him a bath this evening, I noticed he'd gotten chubbier. And his belly really sticks out after he's had his dinner! He can really put it away.

Today after work I went to Ikea and picked up a reserve bunny for Max. Good thing they still had the same one. This way he can still have one while we wash the other, if need be. I wonder what he'd think if I showed him both at the same time? Not going to try that.

Now that we have a new bunny, I can see how ratty the first one has become. Max isn't exactly gentle with him.

This morning when I handed Max off to Birgitta, he went to her very willingly. He seems very comfortable with her. That's nice to see. I also notice that he sometimes follows the older kids around and imitates them. I point out to them that Max admires them, which I hope will lessen any irritation they might feel.

March 8—Happy Birthday, Bobbie!

We hope you're all happy and warm (especially you grandparents with your new furnace).

My little thrill today was that I finally found some glasses frames that I really like. I've been looking for quite awhile, but the current fashion (small, narrow frames) generally doesn't look good on my large, wide face. Yet I don't want to get big frames, because I don't want to deviate too far from the current trend. However, today I think I found just the right frames. They're made by Gucci, the same company that made my all-time favorites from 1993. They cost a fortune, but it's worth it to have something really nice sitting on your nose 16 hours a day. The color they had (black) didn't suit me too well, but they ordered a couple of other colors for me, so I can have my choice on Monday. I feel like a kid at Christmas.

I'm constantly amazed (as you know) by Max. He's such a clever kid! I can't believe that one-year-olds do the stuff that he does. His speech is still incomprehensible, but his motor skills and dexterity are fabulous. He runs around just as stably and safely as (I think) most two-year-olds. In the mornings, I can let him out on the porch while I'm getting my things on and count on him not to start going down the stairs without me. Outside, he stays away from patches of slippery ice if I point them out to him. He can go up and down inclines, and he can judge which ones are too steep for him. He picks up his sled (and other heavy things) without tipping over. He walks backwards, crouches, goes up curbs by himself, runs, and is now starting to jump.

His hand-eye coordination is good, too. He pounds the balls into his "Castle Pounder" with intense accuracy. Plops the balls into their holes and then "Wham, wham, wham, wham!" one by one he sends them rolling down. He also hits his xylophone with the stick, and boy does he go to town! He really pounds that thing. I never knew a child's xylophone could be so deafening.

Interestingly, I've noticed him using his left hand for lots of things, such as eating and pushing buttons. I don't know when children's "handedness" is supposed to be fixed. Do you? He doesn't seem to favor either hand consistently.

This evening Max barfed just after we put him to bed. He got it all over his bed, himself, his bunny, etc. We had to change him, tear the bed apart, find a substitute stuffed animal, start the laundry, get Max calmed down again, etc. I don't know why he barfed. But a safe guess would be that it was the salami Bengt gave him for a snack this afternoon. Doh!

Max has continued to do well with Birgitta. No complaints when I leave him. Sleeping well (slept through the night last night) and napping well. Eating very well. :-) Starting to feed himself with a spoon. That's pretty messy, but he does manage to get some food into his mouth that way.

I've noticed that often Max gets cranky when I come home from work, even if he's been fine with Bengt. And when he does act cranky then, he gets over it quickly if I pay intense attention to him for a few minutes, making lots of eye contact and repeating back to him what I think he's trying to communicate. Usually it's something he wants to do with me, and we go do it for a little while. Then often he hugs me! It's really gratifying. He's such a great little kid!

Have a good weekend!

March 4—Much better today

Hello all, and many thanks for the ideas, Donna! (Donna is a nurse working at a pediatrician's office.) We are in agreement that Max's rash was most likely due to something new that he ate. (We haven't switched laundry detergents or soaps, and Max doesn't have any new clothes or lotions or anything else.) Today Max still has a few of those same patches off and on, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. I'm just happy they haven't been itching too badly.

This weekend Max spent many hours playing with the vacuum cleaner. It's his new favorite toy. The first thing he wants to do in the morning is go downstairs and play with it. He pulls it around by the hose, sits on it, tries to pick it up, tips it over to look underneath, opens the lid to where the attachments are stored, pulls them out and tries to put them back in (like a puzzle), pulls out the cord and then pushes the button to retract it, pretends he's vacuuming the floor and walls, etc. etc. There seems to be no end to the variety of things you can do with a vacuum cleaner!

I think part of the fascination with the vacuum cleaner is that Max is a little bit frightened by it. When we vacuum, Max watches from a respectful distance. When we turn it on low, it takes some coaxing to get him to come close and put his hand on the hose. Probably playing with it makes him feel less afraid.

We had a lovely weekend with Sven & Anna-Brita. They spent many hours playing with Max, and it was a good break for Bengt and me. We got some other things done, including resting. Which was sorely needed—I forgot to mention that I had the flu on Friday. I had no business going to work, as I was sore all over. It really hurt to move, and since I don't have to move around much at work, it wasn't too bad, but I sure hope I didn't infect any of my colleagues. Friday evening I went to bed directly after dinner. By Saturday it was almost gone, thank heavens.

Sven & Anna-Brita leave tomorrow morning. I'll drive them to the station. It will be a miracle if they get through the next week without coming down with any of our illnesses or infections.

March 3—What in the blazes—?

Max was in distress when he woke up from his nap today. He couldn't be comforted, and he kept grabbing at his diaper, so we took off the diaper and pulled up his shirt. There was a large red warm patch of skin on his torso. In this warm patch there were numerous tiny white raised spots in a dense, even pattern. Holy smokes!

We then had the dubious pleasure of seeing smaller but otherwise identical patches pop up all over his body, right before our eyes. Patches about the size of a silver dollar appeared on each ankle, on one thigh, on an arm, etc. Max didn't have a fever, but he was crying and couldn't be distracted for more than a minute.

We put corn starch on the patches to reduce friction, and Bengt called the urgent care telephone hotline to see if they knew what it could be. They didn't have any idea.

Eventually Max calmed down and started feeling better (or just forgot about his discomfort). The patches didn't seem to itch after we put the corn starch on them.

This evening when we undressed him for his bath, the patches had lost their red background, and the tiny spots had turned red. But he had new red patches with the same white spots, in completely different places. Very bizarre.

He doesn't seem sick, so the thing that comes to mind is sensitivity to something he ate. He actually ate four new things yesterday evening:

  • a nickel-sized piece of chocolate cookie

  • a sip of beer

  • soft tofu spread on his bread

  • He tried an Indian tikki dish that the rest of us were eating, with aubergine and red pepper. It was rather spicy, and he didn't like it, so he didn't eat much.

If what he has is a food reaction, then I would guess it was that Indian dish. What do you think? Donna, have you ever seen a rash like this?

March 1—All better!

Max was in top form today. His eyes are almost completely clear, too. When I took him to daycare, I stayed with him for a little while, but he ignored me, and he didn't get distressed when I left.

When I came home from work, Bengt was vacuuming, and Max was walking along behind him with a mop (dry), imitating his sweeping motions. Very cute.

Max has been wanting to feed himself with a spoon more and more. He's very good at sticking the spoon into the food and then putting it in his mouth, but he turns the spoon every which way, so it works best when the food is sticky enough to stay on the spoon, like mashed potatoes. Peas would be hopeless.

I can't believe how fast this week has gone. I'm swamped at work, so that's pretty intense (but still enjoyable), and the days just fly by. Tomorrow is Friday, and Sven and Anna-Brita will arrive for a weekend visit. We'll all enjoy that.

Have a good weekend!

February 28—Pinkeye

Max wasn't sick for long. He was much better by Tuesday, and I thought he'd go back to daycare today. However, he woke up with his eyes crusted shut, so we're still doing our at-home thing. Which doesn't actually mean we stay at home... Yesterday I took him over to my office, where he got lots of attention from my colleagues. He also spent awhile petting one colleague's dog and running around in the underground garage. Today we were outside for about 90 minutes. We had a very leisurely walk to the grocery store, and then I pushed Max (and the groceries) home in the stroller.

Yesterday Max was awake when I left for work, and he cried even though Bengt was there to take care of him. So I guess his natural separation anxiety kicking in, and not entirely due to the daycare situation. Rats. I thought he was going to skip the separation anxiety completely.

February 26—Our baby's sick!

Poor Max woke up very unhappy about 1 a.m. this morning. He had a high fever. He drank a half bottle of välling, but then when we tried to give him some Baby Tylenol on top of that, he threw up all over the place. Since we had to change his jammies after that, we gave him a suppository. Then he whined and complained for another ten minutes before dousing us with another blast of vomit. Another change of jammies (with Max sobbing throughout), and we were able to rock him to sleep—but not for long. He was up several more times.

When he got up at 7:15 this morning his fever was down, but his mood was very fragile. The slightest thing made him burst into tears. He was obviously feeling cruddy. I managed to keep him relatively still by reading him stories and listening to music with him, but it was hard work. I tried putting him back down at 10 a.m., and he seemed willing but not able to sleep. Same thing at 11. I gave him another suppository and then rocked & sang him to sleep. Poor little guy!

I'm home with him until 1:30 p.m. and will put in my six hours at the office after Bengt comes home. So that's why I haven't got the time to answer your e-mails yet, Mom! But thanks for yours!

February 25

Max isn't doing quite as well with his new dagmamma as he was with Kim. On Friday he cried most of the way there, then tried to "escape" out the door, and then cried when I left. He stopped crying a minute after I left, but I still felt bad leaving him.

It's tempting to assume that becoming upset when he's left is just a phase that Max is finally going through, but another "symptom" is that he's become frustrated when he doesn't get what he wants at home. Up until now he's been pretty easy-going. This week he started throwing his toys when he gets frustrated with them, crying angrily when he doesn't get what he wants, and he even threw himself on the floor a couple of times, like he was going to throw a major tantrum! It didn't turn out to be serious tantrums, but it was still alarming. He's too young for the "terrible twos", so I kind of suspect he's frustrated at daycare and is acting out at home. It could still be just a coincidence, I guess, but I'm really keeping my eye on him. If things don't improve, and if the problem seems to be daycare, then I think we'll try to work out something long-term with Kim, even though it's less convenient and more expensive for us. The main thing is that Max wants to be there. After all, he has to spend hours at daycare every day.

Bengt says that when he picks Max up from the new place, Max is like a spring-loaded rubber ball. Very hyper. Hmm.

I know that daycare is different from being at home or with another mom and one other kid. Rules and routines are imposed out of necessity, and there isn't as much flexibility. I heard that kids react to this in different ways. Maybe Max is reacting to having to do things someone else's way for once, and he'll get used to it, and it'll be good for him. How am I supposed to know if it's something like this that's causing his frustration, or if there's something else that's not good for Max? I don't want to spoil him or overreact, but I also don't want to risk leaving him someplace where he feels unhappy or frustrated so often that it affects his general well-being.

I guess what it boils down to is whether we trust the caregiver. And I have to say that in my contact with Birgitta and the others at open daycare, I think they're great and I like the way they treat the kids. Things can get a little wild at the open daycare when there are a lot of kids there (and in fact some three-year-old bit Max on the back there the other day, so hard that it broke the skin), but they are always available and generally keep things under control. Normally, Max will be there with his group only one morning per week, but this week, due to various circumstances, he was there three mornings. He and I used to go there 3-4 times a week, but for max. 1 1/2 hours each time.

Birgitta told me that Max disappeared for a couple of minutes at open daycare, and when she went looking for him, she found him in the bathroom, "cleaning" the toilet bowl with the toilet brush!

This morning while I was reading the paper, Max came to me from the kitchen with a mischievous grin on his face. It was obvious that he'd done something he shouldn't, and he needed to check the consequences. He was drooling (which he doesn't do so much anymore), so I swiped my finger through his mouth and there was dry cat food in there! Yuck!! I know a little cat food won't hurt him, but I hate the thought of that disgusting stuff in his mouth. Blech.

Yep, you gotta be on your toes around Max!

Another thing Bengt told me is that when he picks Max up from daycare, Max is in the habit of grabbing his (Bengt's) nose. He grabs it and hangs on, laughing, and Bengt stands there like that talking to Birgitta, getting the report for the day! Ha ha! I like the thought of that.

On Friday Bedtime Bunny got left at daycare by accident, and Max wouldn't go to sleep without it! Yikes. Bengt was just trying to figure out how to get back there to pick up Bunny, when another parent stopped by and dropped him off. Whew!

Max has started working on his pronunciation, which I'm happy about. He listens carefully to how I say a word, especially when I say it very slowly and exaggerate all the sounds, and he tries to imitate it. He's not very good at it yet (and of course he shouldn't be, at his age), but good enough that I can tell he's trying. Cool.

February 20—Back from Malaga

Well, I'm almost back in the swing of things again, after being away last week. Everything went just fine while I was gone (of course). I talked with Bengt and Max each afternoon. I didn't get home until about 1:30 a.m. Monday morning, and when Max woke up he didn't seem surprised to see me or anxious to stay close to me. It was pretty much business as usual! That was kind of surprising, since he's a bit clingy some evenings after not seeing me since 10 a.m. Bengt is clingier than Max! :-)

Max seems to have changed a little bit just in those few days I was gone. His teeth grew in noticeably, and he's "talking" even more. His pronunciation isn't any better, but he talks to other people (and to himself) constantly, and his speech "melody" and tone of voice clearly express what kind of stuff he's trying to communicate. Also, he watches people intensely, which I don't think he did before I left. I mean, he'll just stand there for several minutes, without moving, watching someone go about their business in the kitchen or their yard.

Our daycare provider, Birgitta, was sick Wed-Fri last week, which was when Max was supposed to be gradually left longer and longer. I stayed with him for about an hour yesterday, but today I left after only a few minutes. He's been just fine with her, and with the other four children. Bengt said that when he picked Max up today, he was "like a spring-loaded rubber ball", bouncing off the walls. He's been in a really good mood for days now. He's sleeping well, too. Goes down without a peep of protest. Still usually wakes up once for a bottle, but otherwise sleeps 11-12 hours and wakes up happy. We can't complain.

My trip to Malaga (to get back to that) was worthwhile. After all those meetings and social events, I really feel back in the swing of things at work, even though I was out of the loop for a year. In addition, the weather was wonderful. My documentation colleagues and I had an afternoon meeting out in the hotel's seaside garden, and during our free time I got a fair amount of fresh air and sun (without getting burned).

The city and the hotel itself were a bit of a disappointment. The town seemed rather scrappy and run-down, and the hotel (and the beach it was on) wasn't quite as pristine as the picture on the website would lead you to believe. The outdoor pools were not in use. There wasn't much vegetarian food available, and there was a lot of smoking everywhere. In short, there are a lot of places I would visit again before Malaga.

On Friday we had a scavenger hunt of sorts. There were 28 teams, with about 10 members each, and I was team leader of my team. The first thing I asked when we set out was check how important it was to the other team members that we win. We could divide up the list and split up into smaller groups to cover the list faster, or just wander around together and see what we happened to come up with, or we could even blow it off and just go to a bar. The chance of beating 27 other teams, even if we did our very best, seemed remote to me. We agreed that we would keep our eyes open, and put some effort into writing a ReadSoft 10-year anniversary song (which was part of the competition, and which we were all interested in doing & performing), but the main thing was to have fun. As it turned out, we missed first place by one measly point! Doh! It would have been cool to win, on top of having fun.

February 11

Max just woke up after a 3-hour nap, and he's in a goooood mood. I'm letting Bengt enjoy his company...

We might be phasing out the bottle we give Max at bedtimes. He often pushes it away before it's finished and goes into his crib without a peep. I think he's moving towards just skipping the bottle and maybe just reading a book or rocking or something.

Max has been trying to talk more and more. He's noticed that his mommy and daddy say things differently. Mama says "lamp" and Pappa says "lampa". Mama says "bye-bye" and Pappa says "hej då." I wouldn't surprise me if it took him awhile to start talking in a comprehensible way. But he sure does understand us well! He listens actively, stopping what he's doing to watch our mouths and consider what we're saying—you can see it in his expression. He follows all kinds of instructions. I'm really looking forward to his being able to express himself in words.

Lately I've been playing the same Mozart CD that I used to play all the time during Max's first months. I notice that Max plays more contentedly when it's on. Whether it's part of the so-called Mozart effect or he just enjoys the music, I don't know, but he's definitely calmer and more concentrated, especially during the complicated, fast-moving sections of the music. He can also just lay on the couch with me, listening to it, for quite awhile. I'm really amazed. It's the longest he's ever been still with me—he's usually in constant motion, except when he watches those music videos we have (Mozart and Bach).

This particular CD happens to have relatively long pauses in between pieces (up to 10 seconds), and Max notices the silence and looks up at the stereo until the next piece starts. I've seen him smile in anticipation of a favorite section. I'm really happy about this interest of his and the effect is has on him. There's another CD I'll get for him next time we're in the U.S.

Yesterday morning I went to a place that sells used kids' clothes and got Max a pair of boots in good shape for about $4. I was really happy about that. New ones cost upwards of $30 here, and the spring sales haven't started yet. Max needed new boots immediately.

In the afternoon I met a friend in Stockholm for coffee. She also has a baby, and we were both glad to get away from home for a few hours of chatting.

Tomorrow we start with the new dagmamma (child care provider) Birgitta. I feel kind of sorry to switch Max from daycare with Kim, since that was going extremely well. On the other hand, it will be nice to have him closer to home, and he may enjoy the increased stimulation of more kids and being able to run around outside with them. In addition, I can start taking the bus to work again, instead of driving every day.

Wednesday morning I'm off to Malaga, Spain, with work. On Friday I finally got around to checking what kind of hotel we'll be staying at, and it's a 5-star hotel right on the beach! (See their website, if you're interested.) We'll be spending a lot of time at meetings and events, but there ought to be some time to visit the beach. The forecast for the next few days calls for sunny weather, with highs between 66 and 71 degrees. I don't care so much about the temperature—it'll be much warmer than here in any case—but I hope the clear weather holds. I've been having dreams about being on the beach with the sun shining on me!

Because of my trip, I won't be updating this website for at least 8 days. Happy Valentine's Day!

February 7—Heat wave!

This morning when I got up, it was still -20 degrees C. Two hours later, it was only -4! Heat wave!

Max's feet seem to have grown an inch in the past couple of weeks. All of a sudden his boots are too small. Must go get him some new ones on Saturday.

February 6

Lately Max has been not at all adverse to going to bed at night. He sometimes points to his bed and goes down without the slightest protest. Last night was the greatest: He pushed away his half-finished bottle and reached for his bed. After I covered him up, a little hand reached out from under the covers and pulled Bunny under. Heartwarming.

We're having a cold snap. It's been around -20 degrees C. for several days. I don't know what that is in F., but it's pretty nippy. Yesterday a record was broken for the amount of electricity used in the country. We took Max outside for a little while on Sunday, but his cheeks quickly got too cold and he let us know he was uncomfortable. The wind's not bad, but any exposed skin gets stung right away. Next winter I'll get Max one of those ski mask things that covers your whole head, with just holes for the eyes.

This is Max's last week with Kim and Jonah. That seems so strange. It's gone so well that we hate to move him, though it will be nice to have daycare closer to home. I just hope the change doesn't upset him.

Max is becoming interested in the content of his books. He'll sit through several readings of the same book, and he clearly enjoys some books more than others. Also, he reaches up to the fridge when he wants a drink,

February 1—Max's vaccination

Max had his third dose of vaccine this morning. As before, this was a single injection to protect him against:

  • Diphtheria

  • Tetanus

  • Whooping cough

  • Polio

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B

When he got the shot, he stiffened a little and gave a soft little grunt, and that was it! Not a single tear. I was so glad it didn't hurt him.

We were observing Max for a reaction to the vaccine. He was fine the rest of the morning, but he wouldn't go down for a nap early this afternoon the way he usually does, and he was whiny, so Bengt gave him Tylenol and later he fell asleep. This evening he seemed fine, and he went to bed with no protests.

Last night Max slept through the night until a reasonable hour with no bottle in the middle of the night. First time in quite a while. (Occasionally he doesn't wake up for his bottle, but then he wakes up exceptionally early—like at six or even earlier—and won't go back to sleep.) I hope this is a new trend.

Max's new fascination is opening and closing small containers and boxes. Large ones are no fun—they have to be small or even tiny. This goes right along with the challenge of turning pages in a book, which really takes some fine coordination, when you think about it. At the moment Max still doesn't care about the content of books. He just wants to sit and turn the pages. I tell him, hey, knock yourself out!

Max now thinks it's hilarious when he burbs, and he tries to do it even when he doesn't need to. He also tries to immitate yawning. Coughing is easy. His fake sneezes sound like coughs.

I continue to be amazed at how much Max understands. He is really getting good at following instructions, and he seems to enjoy it. (Bet that won't last long!) The other day he was playing with a fork while I was feeding him, and I suggested once that he scoop up some food with the fork and put it in his mouth. He listened and then proceeded to do exactly that. Of course I was delighted and praised him like crazy.

Max has seen himself in the mirror before, but yesterday he seemed to view it in a different way. He spent many minutes in front of the mirror, making faces, tilting his head, and so on. He clearly had a new understanding of what he was seeing. Whether he really understands that this is what he looks like to other people is doubtful, though.

January 28—Bengt turned 40!

Max is still doing great at daycare (with Kim and Jonah). When we get to their house, Max gets out of the car and walks up the stairs to their house with my help, then goes to the door himself. We're so happy that it's working out so well.

These days, Max runs as much as he walks. He's often in a hurry to get someplace. The funniest is when we go outside. We often go down through the garage, and when I open the outside door for Max, he shoots off down the driveway, his little legs pumping like pistons! It's so funny! Indoors, I think Max looks big and strong, but when he's running down the driveway I see him as a tiny little boy, setting out at top speed, full of curiosity and trust and excitement.

Max has been walking around with his lower jaw sticking out. I think he's feeling his new teeth with his tongue or something.

Bengt took Max to Perstorp to see his parents this weekend, giving me my first weekend off in over a year. It was a wonderful and much-needed break for me. I could do whatever I wanted all weekend, without a thought to anybody's needs but my own. I did a lot of organizing around the house, and little tasks that had been left undone for months for lack of time. I enjoyed doing them because I wasn't hurried or distracted. I also watched five movies, played the piano, drafted an article for ParentNet, read a book, and so on.

Bengt says he and Max had a good time in Perstorp and a good trip, except Max didn't sleep much in the car and got whiny towards the end of each trip. (I don't blame him. I get whiny in the car, too. :-) When they got home, Max's top priority was getting reacquainted with our stairs. However, I got a lot of really sweet hugs during the course of the evening and it was gratifying that he was so glad to see me.

Max can now back down the entire flight of stairs feet first. He's quite steady going up and down and I don't feel he needs intense "spotting"—though I still always stand below him if I'm not holding his hands.

Max needs his second vaccination this week and I'm just dreading it. He cried a lot after the last one—not immediately afterwards but hours later. I hate to see him so miserable. I'll keep a close eye on him and give him Tylenol at the first sign of discomfort.

Today was Bengt's 40th birthday. Old fart! He was on the road with Max a good part of the day, but when he got home there was a present waiting. I got him a good juicer. He has been wanting one for a long time, and I remember he used his 110V juicer a lot when we were still in the States. Bengt made some juice as soon as he'd unpacked the thing, so I guess it's a hit.

You all have a good week!

January 21—Finally, more teeth!

Max's second tooth finally poked through the other day, a full three months after the first one. Then today we noticed another one peeking through his upper gum. They still barely show, and he looks a lot younger than the other kids his age (even though he's by far the biggest) because he's so toothless. Still, he can eat pretty well. We give him big chunks of things like bananas, oranges, and cheese, and he gobbles them right down, making chewing motions. I guess he's gumming them.

The more Max reacts to what I say, the more I've noticed that he misunderstands me. For instance, I talk about "coffee" and Max demonstrates "coughing". I said something about "over there" and Max pointed to his "hair". I mentioned "fighting" and Max play-bit me ("biting"). I talked about "fans" and Max clapped his "hands". All rhyming pairs. I guess it's natural to misunderstand when you're first starting to understand a lot of speech. Right? As far as talking goes, he hasn't been practicing the words I heard him say months ago. However, he's started calling his bottle "baba", and I did hear him insist that he wanted to "Do that!" (Well, what he actually said was, "Do dat!") Who knows what else he's saying—but so inarticulately that we're missing it. He babbles constantly.

But I think he's more interested in concentrating all his energy on motor skills. He's now running down the driveway, going up and down stairs obsessively, and actively seeking out the challenge of walking on steep or uneven surfaces like the frozen lawn. He also practices fine-motor tasks with his fingers, like turning the pages of books one by one. He doesn't even care about the books at the moment—just wants to turn the pages.

The last two mornings Max woke up with the hair on his forehead teased—like what women did to their hair in the 60's. I don't know how he's managing to do this, but it's very difficult to comb out, and it looks ridiculous! Bengt and I cut his hair today rather than keep combing it out. And believe me, it wasn't easy to cut the hair of that squirmy boy. I almost jabbed him with the scissors a couple of times.

Yesterday I took Max to ReadSoft's post-Christmas party for kids. It was mobbed with kids of all ages and their parents, and Max is too small for all the activities they had, but he had a ball running around, and he got one last present from Santa. I don't know who was more exhausted when we got home—me or Max.

Today I grabbed my long-distance skates and walked down to the lake for some exercize. There's nothing like being out there on skates in that big, open area. It's nothing like a skating rink. This is the first time I've been out in two years. Last winter I was hugely pregnant and then post-partum, and this winter the ice wasn't thick enough until recently. I want to go every weekend. I was away from home for less than an hour.

January 16—Sick again, fer cryin' out loud!

Holy comoley (or however you spell it)! Somehow we managed to pick up the stomach virus that our friends recently brought back from Australia. I don't see how, because they should not have been contagious anymore, and besides, I don't think we had any physical contact with them. Maybe I picked up the little boy and that's how it happened.

At any rate, I started feeling queasy at work yesterday, and within 1/2 hour I was barfing in the bathroom. I barely got myself home before another wave hit, and I was absolutely sick as a dog for 6 hours. I don't think I've ever been that sick in my life, and if I hadn't known what it was I would have been very alarmed. I won't go into the nasty details, but I will tell you that I fainted twice on the bathroom floor. (Pity, please!) Poor Max wanted to be with Mama, but all I could manage was to give him a quick hug and send him off with Bengt.

By 10 p.m. I'd stopped losing my body fluids and was able to drink some Coke and water. I felt completely wrung out and dizzy. In the morning, I couldn't stand up for more than about a minute without getting lightheaded. Normally I would have stayed home from work, but sitting at my desk seemed much more doable than running around with Max. So I took Max over to Kim's and went on ahead to work.

In the meantime, Bengt had also thrown up once in the evening, but he was in good shape compared to me. He went off to work early in the morning as usual, but turned around and drove home after two hours. He slept for awhile and then went and picked up Max and then they both slept for 3 more hours. Bengt feels exhausted and is having hot & cold sweats, and he called me at work and had me come home early in case Max woke up. He couldn't have kept up with Max, who is not yet showing any symptoms. (No doubt that's just a day or two away. Sigh.)

At least this thing is short-lived. Poor Kim and Ulf had it on the plane on the way back from Australia! Ulf fainted and had to have oxygen. I can't imagine being that sick on a plane! What a nightmare. I hope we didn't give it to anyone else—like people at work. But as contagious as it seems to be, I wouldn't be surprised. Not a good way to win friends and influence people, is it?

Max has been enjoying his time with Kim and Jonah. (Jonah just turned one year old last Friday.) Kim says he never seems tired (though I know he must be) and doesn't whine. He also eats well, and when Kim called me at work once to ask me a question, I heard Max babbling cheerfully in the background. Kim said that when the two boys sit in their highchairs to eat, one of them will bang on the table, and then the other will do it, and they'll imitate each other. One will blow a raspberry, and the other will smile and do it, too. The two boys definitely look cute together crammed into the double stroller. We'll be sure to get some pictures.

Kim is just great with them, and I'm so glad we decided to have Max start with her, even though he'll be switching to Birgitta next month. I was a little worried (but not very) about how Max would deal with being left for hours at a time, but so far it has been no problem whatsoever. He walks right into their house by himself, and he just watches calmly when I say good-bye and leave. I'm so proud of him! And a little proud of me and Bengt, too, since I think we must've contributed to his feeling so secure. I hope this keeps up.

Now I'm going to bed and hope to be fully recuperated by morning.

January 13—The pleasures of new appliances

I'm getting such a charge out of our new dryer. It has many advantages over the old one: It's quieter, it has a light inside, it doesn't generate much heat (so we can close the door to the laundry room while it's running), it has a bigger opening for getting the laundry in and out, and more. Best of all, you can up four favorite programs with various options and save them, so starting the dryer involves only two quick button pushes. Today I did three loads of laundry and actually enjoyed it because of this new toy! I almost wish the washer would conk out, too, so we could justify getting a new one. :-)

When the two guys came to deliver and install the dryer, Max made a beeline for their toolbox every time we set him down. He couldn't keep away from it. And he was fascinated with their work. I bet those guys don't often have such a tiny admirer.

Today I took Max to the last Swedish Christmas party of the year, julgransplundring, put on by the neighborhood association. There were mobs of people there. After dancing around the Christmas tree to live music, we sat at a very, very long table for coffee & juice & home-baked cookies. It was fun. Even better, it wore Max out!

I had Max's sippy cup full of juice with us, and I opened a juice box for myself instead of taking coffee. Max kept reaching for the juice box, so I let him put the straw in his mouth, thinking he didn't know how to drink from a straw. Well, about ten seconds later he handed the juice box back to me, and it was empty! The little twerp. So I opened another juice box. I had drunk about half of it when Max grabbed it. He gave it a firm squeeze, and a fountain of grape juice shot out of the straw, all over both of us. And of course he didn't stop squeezing when we started getting doused, as an adult would. He just kept squeezing until I got ahold of the now almost empty box. Doh! We had sticky juice all over us.

Max refused to go to bed a few nights in a row this week. I mean he would just stand in his crib in a rage. We got him up again and he didn't go to sleep until 9:30 or 10:00 those nights. Yikes! And if you think he got up any later because of that, you're mistaken—he woke up earlier. He didn't seem afraid to sleep. He just seemed very determined to play and run around and make mommy & daddy long for a goddamn half hour of peace and quiet before our own bedtimes so we could relax!! Excuse my French.

But today he went down for a three-hour nap without a peep of complaint, and ditto his 7:30 bedtime this evening. Thank heavens! I gave him a lot of control over the process—maybe that helped. I asked him a few times if he would like to go upstairs, have a bottle, and get into bed with Bunny. Max doesn't know how to answer yet, but he understood what I said. He went over to the stairs and waited for me to open the gate. Then he climbed upstairs, petting Maja on the way, and picked Bunny up off the floor. He waited while I made the bottle and sat down in the rocker, and then he walked up to me and held out his arms to be picked up. By the time he was through with the bottle, he was half asleep. Excellent.

January 9

Well, I think we're all healthy again, finally! Bengt and I finished our course of antibiotics the other day, and Max is no longer coughing, either. I certainly hope that the evil bacteria is gone for good. It was sure tenacious.

All of our snow has melted away, which is too bad because Max keeps pointing to his sled and making his "I want that" sound. on the other hand, he's also enjoying walking around outside with Mama tagging along behind him—which is easier when there's no snow or ice. He walks down the driveway and takes off down the street in search of porch steps to climb or dogs to get acquainted with.

Bengt told me that when I was out shopping for a new clothes dryer on Saturday, Max was playing with a little flashlight. He was fascinated with the way a circle of light appeared everywhere he pointed it. Then he marched into the bathroom, and before Bengt could stop him Max had dropped the flashlight into the toilet! The flashlight was still on, and the inside of the toilet bowl was nicely illuminated, according to Bengt.

Yes, we decided to buy a new dryer because our old one keeps triggering the ground fault protector we installed. We could replace the motor and the belt, but that would cost over half of what a new dryer will cost, and then who knows when it will break down again. It gives me a very bad conscience to throw away a working dryer, but finances win out in this case. It just didn't make sense to put that much money into our 12-year-old dryer. We ended up buying a nice Cylinda dryer that's like the American ones where the air is blown out of the house, rather than the typical European one where the water is condensed and emptied from a canister after every load. It will be delivered on Thursday.

Max has been having "night terrors", where he wakes up an hour or two after falling asleep and sobs inconsolably. There's nothing we can do to comfort him. He's not interested in being held, he doesn't want a drink, and he seems very "out of it". His behavior matches the description in the Ferber book I have pretty closely. It's supposedly quite common, and there's nothing you can do except watch and make sure they don't hurt themselves by thrashing around. After a little while a kid will wake up briefly and then go right back to sleep. It's no fun for Bengt and me to see Max sobbing, but apparently Max is still sleeping and has no memory of the incident the next day. During the day he seems happy, and he's not afraid to go to sleep.

Work is going great. I'm really enjoying my time at the office and have to tear myself away when it's time to go home. But then once I'm home I enjoy it more than before I started back. Working four hours a day, I haven't really accomplished much except for going through 1100 e-mails, interviewing two candidates for our vacant tech writer positions, and chatting a little bit with my colleagues.

Our friends returned from Australia yesterday, so we will start Max there tomorrow. Hopefully by next week Max will be secure enough there that I can get away long enough to work six hours per day instead of just four.

We hope everyone is getting a good start on the new year!

January 2—Mom goes back to work!

Today was my first day back at ReadSoft. I can't tell you how great it felt to walk out the door, leaving Max in good hands with Bengt for a few hours, off to do adult-type things with other adult-type people. I got a warm welcome at the office and got started catching up on things. A lot has changed, mostly for the better. I had a meeting with the other tech writers and agreed on a couple of tasks I can get started on. Then I got a good start sorting through the 975 e-mails that I'd received. (Got through 600 in two hours! Most of them I was able to throw away without reading, or after only glancing at.)

I really enjoyed being at the office, and after four hours I felt good about going home to Max and Bengt.

I did have one moment of melancholy during a meeting in the conference room. It seemed like just yesterday I was sitting there daydreaming about maternity leave. I couldn't imagine what my year of maternity leave would be like, and I knew I couldn't predict it, but I know that I expected to have more unadulterated fun. While there were many fun and happy moments, and it was rewarding in various ways, I can't say overall that I thought maternity leave was fun!

In addition, I would have liked to relax more and at the same time get some more household projects done. Ha ha! Dream on!

Well, the melancholy passed quickly with the comforting thought that we now have a wonderful little boy in our lives that we gave the best start we could! It was worth it.

Max has suddenly gotten very good at backing down the stairs and getting down from furniture feet first. What a good boy! It's nice that he can be up on the bed or something without me having to spot him every second. He has progressed verbally, as well. He doesn't say many recognizeable words, but he answers correctly by pointing when we ask him, "Where's Mama/Pappa/Tigger the Tiger/Maja/[various body parts]/etc. etc."? He brings things to us when we ask him, and he manages to make very clear what he wants and doesn't want, in spite of his lack of correct pronunciation. He immitates various animal sounds.

I found the remote control to the stereo! But I don't want to tell you where I found it, because then you'll know how seldom we clean there... :-)

Yesterday Max had the worst diarrhea I've ever seen or smelled, and he had a bright red, warm spot on his check about the size of a quarter. It was rather alarming, and we showed it to the midwife but she didn't know what it was and just told us to keep our eye on it.

On that occasion we also had Max weighed and measured. He weighs 11.56 kg (25 1/2 pounds) and is 79.5 cm (2' 7 1/4") tall. His height has progressed exactly according to the curve, while his weight lagged slightly behind—nothing to worry about, of course.

January 1, 2001

Happy New Year! Bengt and I had a peaceful evening. We didn't do anything special until about 11:45, when we went out on our balcony with a bottle of champaign to watch the fireworks. There were quite a lot of them in our neighborhood this year. Max slept through even the loudest blasts.

We got quite a lot of snow last week, and Max and I have been outside at least once a day. He has gotten used to wearing his boots and can walk in them quite well. He likes to walk down the driveway and down the street, then back and up the driveway. Walking on uneven surfaces, with all his snow gear on, is a new challenge. He also enjoys being pulled around on his sled. The best part is when we run into people walking their dogs.

Max is sleeping pretty well nowadays. We usually rock him for a few minutes and give him a bottle before he goes down, but he can do without it, and he's always awake when we put him in his crib. He falls asleep by himself, with little or no protest. He consistently sleeps 12-13 hours every night, with one interruption for a bottle, and he takes a two- to three-hour nap in the early afternoon, usually 4 1/2 hours after he wakes up in the morning. So it's pretty predictable. Nice! We still have the occasional bad night, but that's when there's something bothering him, like a bad dream or stuffy nose. When he wakes up in the mornings, he's generally in a good mood. He starts talking or calling out, and I enter his room to find him just sitting there calmly, holding his bunny.

Now Max sometimes wants his bunny outside his crib, as well. He keeps it with him when I take him out, or he'll sometimes reach in and try to pull it through the slats, or point so I know to get Bunny for him. Max hands Bunny to me when he wants me to make it come alive (it's a puppet), and he really likes seeing it move.

Max is talking a lot, making all kinds of new sounds. He talks almost constantly, even when no one's with him but his bunny. Remember Max's two syllables like "Dee-do! Dee-do!" which used to mean I was supposed to chase him? Now he's using them in order to get me to follow him to another room so he can show me something he wants help with. I think that's pretty clever.

Anna-Brita called yesterday and is feeling so ill that she's not coming up here today as planned. She was to take care of Max this week when I started work, since there is no daycare available this week. So I'll be home most of this week, as well—just going in for a few hours per day after Bengt gets home around 2 p.m.




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