What's New at the Pålssons'

 

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

December 17, 2001—Our first visit to the emergency room

Max has been in high spirits for quite awhile now. He's also talking a lot more and using more English words with me. He catches himself using Swedish with me and corrects himself sometimes. And he tells us what he likes—I like that. Like when I wore a new blouse made of (fake) suede. Max felt the fabric and said, "Nice!" And when I modelled a new skirt and blouse for him and Bengt, Max liked the bright blue color enough to comment on it.

Saturday evening I was making dinner and Max was sitting on the counter "helping" me. He has spent countless hours on the counter without even coming close to falling off, but this time he leaned over the edge to get a dishcloth that was hanging on a hook on the side and lost his balance. It's funny because he was just reminding himself to be careful not to fall off and hurt himself, and two seconds later, BONK! He had a bad fall and hit his head. I felt soooooo guilty!!! So don't lecture me please...

Anyway, he didn't black out or anything, but of course he cried a lot, and he threw up. After an hour of rocking and resting, he was no longer crying but threw up again, so I called a quick-care clinic and they said to take him to the ER.

So off we went, but darned if Max didn't perk right up when he heard we were going for a ride in the car. And when we got to the ER, he was happy as could be, anxious to run around and explore the place. The nurse who examined him quickly couldn't even find a bump on his head and was skeptical that we even needed to be there. "This boy seems fine." But there was going to be a 2-3 hour wait, she said, so we might as well stick around for awhile and see how he did.

We fed Max and he didn't throw up again. After an hour of Max charging around the corridors, pushing elevator buttons, greeting everybody and playing with the other kids (none of whom were in as good shape as he was), it was clear to all that there was no reason for us to waste the doctor's time. We drove home and that was the end of it.

Side note: I saw a teenager holding a broken wrist walk into a room and come out no more than five minutes later with a cast on it. I didn't know it was so easy to do casts. That's what I call efficient!

Max was very upset by his fall. He talked about it a lot yesterday (Sunday) and used his doll to act it out. He is even more careful on the stairs and other places he could fall from now, and though he wants to sit on the counter, he seems to understand perfectly when I explain that he had a bad fall that scared mamma and pappa and Max, and we need to be more careful so it doesn't happen again.

Well, at least we know where the ER is now, in case of a real emergency...


December 2, 2001

Hi there. We hope you've all had a nice weekend. Ours went quickly. We all have colds, but Max is in top form regardless. Today I took him over to Bögs Gård, the farm that's open to the public. We saw all kinds of animals and Max got acquainted with all of them. Highlights:

  • Max leaning over a railing to look at some sows. One came up and put her snout right up in Max's face and snorted. Max just laughed. He thought it was Babe from the movie.

  • Max "driving" a tractor. These ancient tractors they have positioned all over the place seemed like just the thing for kids to play on. I noticed keys in the ignition but it didn't seem possible that such old tractors were actually in use... until Max turned the key and pushed the ignition button and the motor turned over! He was thrilled but I quickly got the key out of there! Max wasn't happy about that and kept asking for it back... "Peeze Mama, peeze. Max have key?" Not a chance. He'll have to be just a few years older before I let him start up a tractor!

  • When I was humming a song, Max recognized it from one of his videos. I went through the reportoire and realized he now recognizes all the songs from those videos. (It's nice to know he's not tone deaf.) (But not so nice to realize that I myself know all those silly songs by heart.) He also knows the motions to "Itsy Bitsy spider" and tries to sing it.

  • Afterwards we went to a local shopping center for a snack at a café, since the cafés at the farm still weren't open when we left. (Max woke up at 6:30 this morning, so we were out and about too early for a Sunday morning.) Max had a hard time sitting still for his snack. He wanted to ride the escalators and the elevators and run back and forth through the automatic doors.

  • Max running up to a poster advertizing VCRs in front of an electronics store. Max pushed the Start button on the picture and wondered if he could watch "Babe".

  • Finally I realized he was ready for a nap when he collapsed on a beanbag chair at a furniture store and said "Nice! Sleep here?" Ha!

I took a whole roll of film, so I hope we'll have some decent pictures to update the website with in the near future.

Today Max asked about Birgitta and wondered if we were going over there today. He hasn't mentioned his dagmamma in a long time, except to mention that he didn't feel like going there. I'm so happy that he enjoys being with Birgitta and the kids there.

I had a doctor's appointment on Friday, so I took the opportunity to ask whether she thinks it's ok to let kids Max's age have a little bit of coffee now and then. I told her how much I give him (really just a shot in a cup with lots of milk, when he asks for it, which is only once every few weeks). She said there's no harm in that at all. Same with beer and cola and most other things—no problem as long as it's just a little. I was relieved, because several people have reacted strongly when they've seen (or I've mentioned) that Max likes a little of these beverages now and then.

Her opinion was that we should be pleased that Max is curious about different tastes and wants to be like the adults around him, and why discourage him if there's no harm. Of course he gets only minimal amounts. So I'm not going to doubt my instinct on this anymore. (I don't mean this like "I told you so" to those who were concerned about it. I just want you to know that I at least checked it out with one doctor after being warned...)

As far as food goes, Max has gotten a lot more picky than he was as a one-year-old, but he can almost always be convinced to try something new. If he doesn't like it, he's allowed to spit it out and we don't push it. Max's favorite food is pasta (pasta wheels or macaroni is easiest for him to eat himself) with just about any kind of sauce. Fruit juice is still his favorite beverage, but he'll also drink water, milk, cider, and so on. Candy is something we rarely offer him, though he's allowed to eat it if someone else offers it. He enjoys ice cream when someone else is having some but never asks for it.

Max hasn't gained any weight in months but has grown taller. I guess that kind of thing goes in spurts. (His weight is about 37 pounds and he was exactly 3 feet tall when we measured him yesterday.) So he's thinned out a bit. As Helena put it, he was "short for his weight" for awhile. :-) He's still a large and very sturdy kid. His thigh muscles are defined (no doubt from his much-enjoyed nightly routine of jumping on the bed until he collapses) and even his stomach muscles stand out sometimes.

Rereading this, I see you could get the impression that Max is pretty articulate. Actually, most consonants are "t" to him (if he pronounces them at all), and the majority of his words are in Swedish. Most people don't understand him, except from the context. Often Bengt and I don't understand him, either. But he's working on it. And he understands us quite well, regardless of which language we use.


November 26

Bengt and Max got home yesterday (Sunday) around 4 p.m. By 8 p.m. there were toys scattered on the floor throughout the house, lights on in every unoccupied room, macaroni on the kitchen floor, dishes piled in the sink, a pile of laundry in the laundry room, bags of stuff from Sven and Anna-Brita in the hallway... In other words, the place was trashed.

On the other hand, the front hall was vacuumed. Max's intense love affair with vacuum cleaners of all shapes and sizes continues. He's absolutely mental about vacuuming. The first thing he wanted when he got home was to get out the vacuum cleaner. (Never mind hugging or kissing Mama, whom he hadn't seen for days. ;-)

Max made definite progress in his ability to speak Swedish while he was in Perstorp. I don't know if it was the intense verbal attention from Sven and Anna-Brita (and Anders, who was also in Perstorp on Saturday), or the fact that the Swedish was undiluted with English. In any case, the difference was striking--and in just three days!

At 8 p.m. Max was sitting on his new tricycle watching TV. Bengt was catching up on his e-mail. And I was...well, glad to see my guys, in spite of the awesome weekend I got to spend all by myself. I did a lot of work around here, and I didn't mind it one bit. I also did a lot of relaxing, and I slept in both Saturday and Sunday.

The last of Max's chicken pox scabs are flaking off. It doesn't look like he'll have any scars. He notices the scabs and asks me to take them off, but he doesn't pick at them.

Birgitta came down with a terrible cold, so Max is back with Helena again this week! Sigh. I don't mind him being with Helena, but all this moving around makes me worry for Max's sake. This morning Max whined and hid his face against my shoulder when it was time to drop him off, and with his lip trembling he asked me to go in with him. Of course I did. I only had to stay for ten minutes, and then Max was fine saying good-bye. But either he's going through some new timid stage, or the lack of continuity is taking its toll on him.

Once again, thank heavens for such flexible work hours! I would absolutely hate to leave Max crying! He's always been so laid back about separations that when it upsets him, I feel something's wrong, no matter what the daycare workers say (that it's normal and I should just run out the door to make the separation quick and clean). I would have (and could have, easily) stayed for an hour if necessary.

Actually, for my own reference I just want to add that I did leave Max crying last Wednesday. Max was reluctant to go to daycare, and then he sobbed and called out to me when I said good-bye. I allowed myself to be talked into leaving quickly, and I felt terrible about it. Birgitta called me on my cell phone five minutes later to tell me that Max was fine, but I still felt I'd given Max the wrong message.

Then Birgitta called again around noon saying that Max had gone into the bedroom where the little ones nap and pulled down "his" mattress, laid down and fell asleep before having lunch. She mentioned that Max had been upset again once before that. Anyway, she let him sleep as long as he wanted, and when he woke up crying she called Bengt to go pick him up early. (Bengt was working from home.) Max was unhappy and threw up when he got home. We don't know what the deal was. Too bad he couldn't tell us. He might have eaten something that disagreed with him, or he was just very upset at being left totally against his will, or there was something else. At any rate, I learned my lesson. I'm not leaving an unhappy Max at daycare.

I don't think it's categorically wrong to leave a crying child. But Max is Max (who doesn't cry about being left unless something's up) and my work hours are extremely flexible. So it's wrong for us. I apologized to Max when I got home from work last Wednesday. It felt good.


Star Date November 19, 2001

Doctor: Please state the nature of the medical emergency.

Eileen: Doc, I'd like you to put this boy into stasis until his chicken pox has completely run its course.

Doctor: Crewman Pålsson, I can give your son something for the itching, but I hardly think that a little discomfort justifies putting a two-year-old into stasis. He's not in any danger.

Eileen: On the contrary, doctor, he's in immediate danger of being stuffed into the sonic shower and left there by his frazzled mom.

Toddler's loud, penetrating voice In the background: Mama? Mama? MAMA? Titta på Toy Tory igen? [Translation: Watch Toy Story for the 40th time this week?] Maaaammmmmaaaaaa!

Doctor: Now, now, Crewman Pålsson. I'm sure we can work out another solution.

Eileen: Or beamed out into empty space. YES!

Doctor: I can give you a cortical tranquilizer that will increase your seratonin level by 2000%.

Eileen: Four thousand percent, and you've got yourself a deal.

Doctor: Just give me a moment to synthesize the compound.

Eileen: Hurry, doctor.

Doctor: Paris, hand me that hypospray.

Eileen: Max, get your fingers out of those cultures of Borg nanoprobes! Right now!

Psssshhhhhhht.

Doctor: All right, little fellow, I think your mother will be amenable to watching Toy Story again now. Keep the sound down so she can doze while she fixes your lunch. And no, you may not take that medical tricorder with you.

And back on Earth...

Max is finally going back to his dagmamma Birgitta tomorrow. All of his sores are scabbed over and some have even lost their scabs. (Here they say the kids aren't contagious after the last sore turns into a scab.) He's climbing the walls here, no matter what Bengt and I do with him. Today we were out for three hours. I took him on the bus and the train, just to get out of the house, and on the spur of the moment we got his hair cut. All this time at home makes me appreciate again how good it is for all of us that Max is in daycare. He really gets a lot out of it. And that kid wears me out when we're together all day!

We have a guitar here, and Max likes to strum it and "sing" like they do at daycare. Too bad I can't play! I bet Max will want to learn someday.

Max is acting out more and more silly and imaginative ideas. As Bengt said this evening, he's turning quite mischievous. For instance, when Max takes a bath he'll sometimes throw a cupful of water at me. I can grab the cup and retreat to the door, but Max has perfected the art of splashing and can aim tidal waves that reach me all the way over there. He knows I won't leave the room as long as he's in the bathtub. I can't get near enough to yank him out, either, without getting soaked. Usually I just resign myself to changing clothes after giving Max a bath. I guess it's not a big deal.

His antics are sometimes hilarious. This evening he was running around here, and suddenly he'd leap and land in a frozen position that reminded me of a wrestler (shoulders rounded, arms in a big circle hanging down, knees slightly bent, legs apart). Then he'd run and jump and freeze-land again. Bengt and I were laughing and scratching our heads. Where in the heck did he get that? Later it occurred to me: Tarzan! That's one of his favorite movies right now (the Disney animated version). He's pretending to be Tarzan or an ape!

Another entertaining thing was after Bengt tore the closet out of our hall. It was a free-standing thing that had been built up against/into the wall. Bengt laid it down on its back, so you could imagine it like a very large, long box with the open side up. Max immediately wanted to be lifted inside. He had a lot of fun just running back and forth in it, shrieking with delight. I held a teddy bear out of sight at one end, and every time Max got close, I'd pop it up and say "Boo!" Max would scream and run back to the other side. Then back to me again. (Easy game for me, and it wore Max out completely!) Then Bengt turned the closet on its side, and it's a very cool spot for Max to play. He gets on top of it, too. I'm thinking of painting and stenciling some designs on it and putting it in his bedroom. He could even sleep in it. I imagine he'll get tired of it soon, though, and the thing is huge.

Max's most important new word is "Peeze?". It's hard to resist his requests when he asks so nicely.

Max has been eating very little this past week, but he seems chunkier than ever. It makes me wonder if he's somehow getting his hands on food that I don't know about.

Come to think of it, I've been feeding Maja more than usual lately... Ha ha! Just kidding!

Speaking of food, Max is no longer the toddler who will eat anything (including moss and cat food). He's become a lot more discerning. And desperation has taught us that the way to get Max to eat something new and strange is to put dabs of ketchup on it. Then over the course of 5 to 10 bites you progressively reduce the ketchup, and ta-da, he's eating curry shrimp (or whatever).


November 14—First child in history to get chicken pox twice?

Yeah, right. Max was diagnosed with chicken pox on October 12 last year, but that was obviously not correct, because now he definitely has chicken pox. He came down with it yesterday morning and has been whining ever since. He has a fever and he won't each much. He sleeps a lot (but fitfully) and the only other things he wants to do are watch TV and use the vacuum cleaner. And above all, he has those little water blisters all over his body (including the diaper area—that's got to itch like mad, the poor guy), and they seem to be multiplying exponentially.

He got it at daycare, where it's been making the rounds.

Max was to start back with Birgitta on Monday, but I doubt the blisters will be scabbed over by then.

Bengt and I are working in shifts. So much for our redecorating project.


November 9—It's NO-ing!

Howdy. We got our first pile of snow yesterday. First there was some on the ground when we got up. Max was one happy camper, let me tell you. He thought that was exciting. Then we got a blizzard in the late afternoon. Fortunately, Bengt and Max made it home from daycare and into the house before it started. I was attending a party at work, and traffic even in Sollentuna was at a total standstill. For awhile I was afraid we'd all be stuck there for the night, but the traffic cleared up late in the evening and we all got home.

This morning there was lots more snow on the ground, and I pulled Max to daycare on his sled. He really enjoyed that, and I plan to make a habit of it because it's good exercize and then I can take the bus to work rather than the car, which I've relied on lately. Anyway, right when we got to daycare the kids were on their way outside to go to the hill nearby and go sledding. But one boy got a messy diaper and we waited outside for him to be changed.

While we waited, another round of snow flurries started. There was very heavy snow and high winds. Max didn't like having that blow in his face, and I think he was also alarmed at what was happening. By the time the others got outside, Max was screaming and couldn't say why. I tried to comfort him but he wouldn't calm down. Helena put him in a stroller facing backwards against the wind, but Max screamed even more and tried to climb out. Finally Helena asked me to just leave and she would take care of Max. She reassured me that if he didn't stop soon, she'd take him back inside.

I sure hated to leave Max while he was upset, but I obviously wasn't helping, so I said good-bye and walked to the bus stop. A few minutes later one of the women who'd been waiting by us with her own group of kids walked by. She gave me thumbs up, and I heard later that he stopped crying pretty quickly. I tried to talk to Max about it this evening, but he either didn't understand what I was asking about or couldn't explain. Oh well. I guess he's not scarred for life.

It took me awhile to figure out that Max is saying "no" for "snow". (I kept thinking he was saying "No! No!", and I couldn't figure out what he was objecting to!) I tried to get him to say "ssssssssnow", but instead he'll sometimes say, "sssssss...no."

The other day we asked Helena to start waking Max up from his nap after two hours. (He was sleeping three hours and she still had to wake him.) Since then he's been protesting less at bedtime (9 p.m.) and sleeping through the night. Whew!

Max's whining and automatic defiance seem to have stopped suddenly (knock on wood). We got our charming puppy back, but with a sudden leap in maturity. Now all of a sudden we can let him do just about anything, knowing he'll stop when we say he must (because he's about to break something or do something dangerous). He can talk more and especially understand more of our explanations and requests. He also plays by himself more and doesn't demand so much undivided attention. That's really exciting—though of course I still give him a lot of undivided attention.

Thursday evening I suddenly found myself fed up with waiting and planning on redecorating our downstairs. So I tore into the playroom--cleaned out and boxed up the stuff on "my" shelves in there (that will go into new shelves later), moved all the toys into the guest room, and ripped off most of the wallpaper. This evening I took down all the ceiling trim and some of the baseboards. Will head out tomorrow to pick out new flooring, wallpaper, paint, etc. If Bengt doesn't have the energy to come with me, then I get to pick it out myself!

As soon as that's done, we'll move our "office" into the former playroom, and then the real work starts. We have to rip up the floors in our current office and in the "media room", right down to the foundation. Then we have to get some heavy-duty fans and dry out the cement, which is waterlogged but not (yet) moldy or dangerous. Then we redecorate both those rooms and also redo the hall.

We've been planning this work for so long (basically since we moved in!) and not gotten any closer to actually doing it. The shabbiness of our 1970's wallpaper and worrying about our wet foundation finally motivated me to quit trying to organize it and just do it. Of course, now I'm worried about ending up with flooring, wallpaper, paint, and furnishings that don't go together. What we need is a decorator!

Since Max is in this new, more reasonable stage, he can help redecorate. I had him peeling wallpaper off the walls and even "helping" me hammer nails out of the ceiling trim. He loves to climb on the ladder and I can depend on him to do it safely and carefully (which is really amazing, I think, considering how young he is). He fetches tools for me and I think he's just enjoying this new, interesting activity. Letting him "help" slows my work, but then of course it's a valuable and fun experience for Max, and no one has to take him somewhere else, out of the way.

Oh, I forgot to mention last time that Max was "riding" the safety gate at the top of the stairs and broke it. So we went ahead and removed the gates from the top and bottom of the stairs. I sat Max down and pointed out that there are no more gates, because now he knows how to be careful and he can decide for himself when and how he uses the stairs. He listened intently and actually repeated back to me some of what I'd told him.

And he's been great! He's even more careful on the stairs than before. He either holds someone's hand when he walks down the stairs or he backs down now on his hands and knees, even though he's been able to go up and down stairs without holding on literally for months already. It's like now he understands what can happen if he loses his balance, and he accepts full responsibility. I don't worry about him on stairs at all anymore.

Now you're going to freak out, but I also let him sit on counters without guarding him every minute. He has a very well- developed awareness of his body in relation to other objects. He doesn't get many bumps or bruises, and he has excellent balance. He can sit on the counter, watching and fiddling with things, while I make dinner or fold laundry. I remind him now and then (mostly to reassure myself) that he's sitting up high and has to make sure he doesn't fall down. Am I fooling myself into a sense of security? We've been doing this for a couple of months, with no close calls. I don't want to limit him by not believing in what he's already demonstrated he can do. But I also don't want to make a trip to the emergency room...

I'm looking forward to a cold weekend with snow play and redecorating. Hope you have a good one ahead, too.


November 5

Hey, we actually got one group of trick-or-treaters on Saturday! Unfortunately, since we weren't expecting them, we didn't have any candy on hand. I handed out money, and the kids didn't seem disappointed...

This weekend Max tried to sit on the potty we bought him, and it's too small! It has a splash guard in the front and is built up slightly in the back, and he has to wiggle his torso down into the potty so that his penis is wedged in. Of course he's not going to relax and pee like that. DOH! I also got one of those plastic seats that you slap on top of the regular toilet seat. It is a "universal" model, but on our toilet it slides around and Max can easily nudge it right into the toilet. Lovely. I have another idea, though...

Of course I know Max isn't ready to use the potty. I just wanted to be prepared.

Max has been acting more agreeable and sleeping marginally better. He's taken a huge leap verbally, which in itself makes our life a little easier, but I get the impression that it's hard for him to slow his train of thought and settle down when it's time to sleep. In addition, he definitely wants a light on and his bedroom door open. He wants repeated assurance that mommy and daddy are nearby. Last night he called me into his room to tell me that NOW he's going to sleep, after an hour of protests and adjustments and so on. But first he had some serious reflections to share with me about our busy day. After I listened attentively to these, he did indeed fall asleep.

Have a good week, everyone!


October 31—Happy Halloween!

Too bad we don't have trick-or-treaters here. We would have enjoyed handing out candy to the kids.

Life with Max has really been "interesting" since he hit this new stage with all the gusto we're used to with him. Some days he drives us (or at least me) to the brink with his insistent demands and constant testing of limits. Other days he's wonderfully cooperative and we can enjoy his new words and brand new level of understanding.

Bengt was in Paris on business Monday and Tuesday, so I had to deal with Max by myself, with no respite. Once he became so impossible that I retreated in tears. Max immediately turned all concerned and asked (in Swedish), "Mama fall down? Max kiss it?" It was so sweet that my anger evaporated.

He has started talking even more, and he's becoming easier to understand. One thing I've noticed is that he often uses an "ie" ending instead of "er". For example, instead of "lawn mower" he says "law mowie". Too cute!

The other day we were at a mall where they have a little fire engine kids can ride. Max raced over, climbed on, and demanded "Momey!" (Money to make the ride go.)

When it was time to go (actually it was way past time to go, as I'd told him repeatedly), Max wouldn't cooperate. I had to pick him up and carry him to the car. He tolerated that calmly, but as soon as I put him down to unlock the car, he shot off like a rocket back into the mall, his little arms and legs pumping like pistons, with Mama in hot pursuit. I didn't catch him until he got all the way inside to the grocery store. It was all I could do not to yell "Stop that boy!" to other shoppers while charging after him. (I would have if he'd been in danger, like in the parking lot.) Quite a few shoppers enjoyed the spectacle.

The down side to this new phase is more than Max's continous and tireless efforts to get what he wants. Our previously fearless little boy is now afraid being left alone in his dark bedroom. He now sleeps (when he sleeps) with a little lamp on and his bedroom door open, and we have to stay close by for awhile after he goes down, because he calls out repeatedly for reassurance and to let us know that he doesn't want to go to sleep. It takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes for him to get to sleep, even when he's clearly exhausted, and he wakes up several times each night. This is such a switch for him, since we've enjoyed many months of his settling down by himself with not a word of protest, and he slept through the night for several weeks once we got him off that early morning bottle. It feels like he's regressed a year in his sleep habits. :-(

In addition, he's suddenly shy around people he doesn't know well, startles easily, won't share his toys, etc. We had friends over last weekend and it bothered Max when I held the little girl in my lap, when she borrowed his highchair, and when she shrieked with delight. (Last time we saw these friends, just a few weeks ago, he was fascinated with her, shared his food and toys with her, etc.) Max couldn't take it and retreated downstairs intermittently throughout the afternoon to watch TV or play by himself. At first I tried to keep him with us, not wanting him to act rude by leaving the room, but then I figured it would be more rude to have a temper tantrum! I felt proud of Max for taking much-needed breaks with no prompting.

Another weird thing is Max's fear of spiders. I don't know that he's ever had a bad experience with spiders or witnessed anyone else's fear of them, but he's definitely afraid of spiders—even unrealistic fake ones. In fact, he has never been a big fan of insects of any kind. He's never had a bee sting but will try to escape bees if they fly near him. He needs constant reminding that bees don't sting if you don't bother them.

I keep having the weirdest dreams. In many of them, I'm shopping, buying things for Max. I pay huge amounts of money for clothes and toys for him, like $100 for a pair of top-quality pants, and I really enjoy it.

And in fact lately I've had to fight the impulse to buy all kinds of stuff for him that he doesn't need. I love to buy his clothes. I'm always in the mood to shop, so I've started to ration out my purchases so I can buy something we "need" every day rather than useless stuff we could do without. Any time Bengt mentions he needs something (contact lens solution, a new keychain, whatever), I volunteer to go buy it during my lunch hour. Yesterday I bought a present for a one-year-old whose birthday party we're going to on Sunday. Today I bought socks for myself. (I needed the socks yesterday, too, but I postponed that purchase so I'd have something to buy today.) Tomorrow I want to shop for a kids' movie that has rabbits, since Max has been saying he wants to watch rabbits on TV and we don't have anything to show him. Every day it's something.

Maybe part of it is that work is so stressful. The first person to be laid off in my department left today. The atmosphere is tense and I feel even more inclined than usual to hole up in my office with my nose to the grindstone. Shopping is a way of rewarding myself for earning money, I guess. I've also been cutting back on smoking. I was up to 3-4 cigarettes per day. Now I'm back to 1-2. I want to quit completely this winter. Or at least not smoke daily. Then there's my chocolate habit—but let's not go there.

Here you see ads for an actual sandwich offered by McDonald's now. Seriously! Something tells me this sandwich is only available in Sweden.


October 21

Hello! Max and I had a relaxing weekend in Perstorp. Farmor & Farfar gave Max a tricycle and a big toy tractor. Max rode the tricycle a lot but mostly used his feet on the ground to propel it. He's getting the hang of using the pedals, though.

Among other things, on Saturday Max got to go with Farmor & Farfar to Bengts Gård, a farm. He saw lots of animals and played on lots of equipment. Unfortunately he fell asleep in the car five minutes before they got home, and the rest of the evening he was pretty fragile.

Max slept well in Perstorp. He went down each time without complaint, except on Thursday when we didn't even try to put him down since he had such momentum going. It's clear he feels at home there.

I got out of meal preparation for the whole weekend and was able to relax and read a lot more than I usually do on weekends. It was a good break for me.

Sven & Anna-Brita noticed right away that Max was more determined to express his will and get his way. He wasn't nasty, though, and I think he had relaxed in that respect by the end of the weekend. I think all the intense attention from the grandparents and our willingness to be flexible actually helped him. It'll be interesting for me and Bengt to see how he acts this week, when we get back to our usual routine.

Saturday night, just before bed, Max ran over to Sven and gave him a big hug. He threw his arms around Sven, rested his head on his shoulder and patted his back. I don't think I've ever seen Max give someone such a long hug. I felt really proud of him showing his affection like that.

Bengt picked Max and me up at the airport, and we got home early this afternoon. Max had slept about 15 minutes on the plane rather than his usual two-hour nap (when he naps), so he was pretty tired--as was I. I took a nap this afternoon but Max wasn't able or willing to settle down. But at 5:30 he fell asleep while watching TV. Yikes. I hope he can sleep through the night.

Hope everyone else had a good weekend, as well!


October 17

So far it's been a very "interesting" week with Max. He's definitely hit the defiance phase. He wants what he wants, and he wants it NOW! Anything that goes against his wishes is cause for tears, insistent whining, or angry shouts of frustration. (And I'm about ready to scream with frustration myself.) He bounces back and forth like a superball between elation and dissatisfaction.

He has napped at daycare, thank heavens. Even so, last night he asked to go to bed at 7:30 and then slept until 9 a.m. Discovering one's own will and learning how to assert it is apparently exhausting. ;-)

Max and I fly to Perstorp tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see how things develop there. Will he nap? Will he be as difficult with the extended family as he is with me and Bengt?

I forgot to tell you that a couple of weeks ago Max switched from calling himself "Ma" (Max without the "x") to "Maps". It sounded really cute. I made the mistake of telling Bengt about it in Max's presence, and laughing about it. Max got embarrassed but tried again to say his name right: "Mac", he said. But just a few days later he was saying "Max". He must have been practicing.

Here's another one from a couple of weeks ago: Max started saying, "Beep, beep, beep!" while walking backwards. Where did he get that, you ask? He's being a truck! I remember Lin telling me that Ben did that. Maybe that's a common thing.

I went to a parents' meeting at our daycare last night. At one point when we were just visiting, we were talking about young children's interest in poop. I had fun telling the story of when Lin and Ben and I were on a car trip, and we stopped at a fast-food restaurant to get a bite to eat and use the bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom, Ben called out from our table on the other side of the restaurant: "DID YOU POOP??" I almost collapsed laughing.


October 14—I hardly recognize my own son

Hello! We hope everyone has had a good weekend. We did!

Here's Max's big news: No more naps! Yesterday we put him down for one at the usual time, and he said no, but he's protested before and then slept 2-3 hours, so we didn't think anything of it. But this time he hung out in his crib for 1 1/2 hours without falling asleep. Finally he called out and stated that he wasn't going to sleep. No kidding!

Max stayed up the rest of the afternoon, and at 7 p.m. he asked to go to bed. He went down without a peep and didn't wake up until 8:45 this morning (Sunday).

Then when I went into his room to get him out of bed, he scowled and me and told me to get out! Imagine my surprise--he usually calls out to us and is really happy when we come in and he sees it's time to start the day.

But two minutes later he called me in again and was perfectly pleasant. That's the first time I can remember that he actually requested to be left alone.

This afternoon we had plans at 2:30, so I was hoping that Max would either take his nap a bit early (if yesterday was a fluke) or skip it. He skipped it. I kept asking whether he wanted to lie down and nap, and he kept saying no. So at 2:00 we left for our activity, and Max was perfectly fine all day. Amazing! This evening he didn't ask to go to bed, but he was obviously tired so we put him down at 7:00. It will be interesting to see how long he sleeps tomorrow morning. I can't let him sleep until 8:45 again because we usually leave the house around 9:00.

Up until yesterday Max has pretty consistently slept 11 hours every night and 2-3 hours after lunch. It's wild that he's now gone from such a long nap to none at all.

While it will (if this keeps up) be nice for Bengt and me to have more time to ourselves in the evenings, I was really hoping that Max would keep napping during the day. That way he sleeps two hours at daycare and we have more time to interact in the evenings. There's nothing wrong with Max being awake at daycare, of course, but Bengt and I are supposed to be raising him, not Helena.

Our activity today was meeting the mothers and kids from the group that was run by the clinic for first-time moms starting in January 2000. I think all the babies were born in December, except one or two in November. I came across the address list for that group about six weeks ago, and me and another mom thought it might be fun to get everybody together again. I sent letters to all the moms, and some had moved so it took a little detective work, but I got ahold of them all. All of them showed up except one mom & kid who were out of town this weekend.

Anyway, we met at that farm I've told you about before, because we could see all the animals and there was plenty of room for the kids to run around and we could get some coffee and a bite to eat. There were eight moms and eight children. It was interesting to hear the moms tell how things had been going for them, and it was great to see all the toddlers.

Now brace yourself for some shameless bragging: Max was the biggest, strongest and best coordinated kid there, though he's also the youngest. One other boy might have been as coordinated as Max, and another boy might have been a cm taller than Max, but Max was clearly the one you would have guessed was oldest. Some of the kids seemed more like babies than toddlers.

Also it seemed to me that Max was the most independent and at the same time the most outgoing of the kids. Most of them were shy, some clung to their mothers, and one even shunned Max's friendly attempts at interaction. (Of course maybe that boy was simply having a bad day.) I felt proud of Max's clever efforts to make contact with the other kids and play. He has two obvious tactics:

One is to copy whatever the other kid is doing, and then make eye contact and smile. The message is clear: "That looks like a fun game—can I play too?"

The other is to go up to another kid and do something that he (Max) thinks is fun. Then he pauses, looks at the other kid and smiles. If no response, he repeats it once or twice. There again, the message is clear: "Hey, here's a game! Want to play it with me?"

I don't know why I find it so pleasing that Max is so big and strong. Why rush him to grow up—he'll (hopefully) be grown up for a very long time, right? I don't think that I push Max to be a big boy, but of course I encourage him to cooperate and praise him when he succeeds at something he's worked at. I guess I associate big & strong with healthy, which may be true in some parts of the world, but in the western world it's probably more due to genes than anything else. Height and muscle mass don't mean Max is healthier than the other kids.

Then there are his social skills. I'm proud of how he interacts with the other kids and of how independent he is, but that doesn't mean he's going to be a more successful adult or anything. Who cares if he can do something a month or two earlier than some other kids? Well, I can't help it, I just admire him. He's better at engaging other people than I am! I hope that he'll make some good friends in life and have wonderful relationships, and why not start now? :-)

Birgitta and her daughter Lina were there today. We were in the same group. I've seen and heard pretty much of Lina, so I can't be objective about her, but I know that she has a completely different personality from Max and that her talents lie in different areas. Her verbal skills are at least 6 months ahead of Max's, and she has drive. I see Lina as being very much in charge of herself and envision her as a very successful adult. It's pretty cool to see the contrasts even at this tender age and hopefully be able to see them develop on their parallel paths into adulthood, to get the whole picture.

Surely the other kids have their talents and strengths just like Max and Lina. You can't get to know any person—and especially not a toddler—in just a few hours. Actually I have to say that most of those kids were better talkers than Max. So of course objectively Max isn't "better" than other kids. I'm just sooo proud of what Max is good at and not worried if he takes longer to get the hang of other things. To me he'll always be the best. You could put Max in the same room as a toddler Mozart, Van Gogh and Arnold S. and I'd still think Max was number one!

Here's a sad thing: Of the eight moms that were there, three are now separated from their child's father. That's pretty terrible odds!

Max's regular caregiver, Birgitta, is starting back to work tomorrow, but on a trial basis with the older kids only. Not Max. She'll see how that goes and how long it takes for her shoulder to heal completely. So Max will be with Helena indefinitely. I'm not sure he'll ever go back to Birgitta. There's nothing wrong with Helena, but for some reason I am really attached to Birgitta--as Max seemed to be. One advantage to Helena's is that Johan (still Max's best playmate) is there.

Back to work tomorrow morning. My colleagues and I had a very hectic week last week, trying to get things ready on time for a beta release, but the week ended well: I finished a project I was hoping to finish by Friday, and when I started checking my other colleague's project, I found it was excellent work and there wasn't much to correct. Anthony just started in March, so he doesn't have much experience yet, but he sure learns fast! I think he took to heart every tip I have him on his last project, and this one really reflects that experience. I was so happy to hear that he'll probably be spared from the layoffs at ReadSoft. I'm only working 75% and the other writer in Sollentuna is on extended parental leave. If Anthony had to go, I'd be spread so thin that the quality of our documentation would go right down the tubes, and work wouldn't be fun anymore.

Well, that was a long report! More than I intended to write. But I probably won't update again for awhile, because on Thursday Max and I are flying down to Perstorp to see Bengt's parents--and Anders will come by to see us there. Bengt is staying home for a long weekend of R&R. Next month it will be my turn. Isn't it great that I/we can go there without Bengt? I feel perfectly at ease and always enjoy myself. Max loves it, too. They are wonderful people--THE BEST.

We wish everyone a good week!


October 7

Another weekend is over. I can't believe it.

We had friends over yesterday. We all had a very enjoyable afternoon and evening—especially Max and five-year-old Miranda! They played with toys and watched some TV, but the most fun was crawling around in Max's two tents and tunnel, and chasing each other around the house, shrieking with delight. We didn't have the heart to put Max to bed at his usual time. He stayed up an extra hour and a half. I think 9:30 is the latest he's ever been up. He was pretty wound up, but still did a good job relaxing in his crib (talking over the events of the evening with Bunny) and falling asleep by himself. Amazing, really.

Last week I bought Max a new vacuum cleaner. He wore out the motor on the one Uncle Anders got him, so this time I bought a very sturdy one that I hope will last many more hours of toddler vacuuming. This one is actually made by Miele. It looks exactly like their full-sized vacuum cleaner, and all the buttons work, except the cord rectractor because the toy runs on batteries. You can adjust the sucking strength, empty the vacuum cleaner bag, and even hook the tube into the side of the canister! Max was so excited as we opened the box that he was jumping up and down and opening and closing his hands. He vacuumed for hours that first day, with his shoulders back and a proud little smile on his face. Charming! The motor has a fairly pleasant sound, so we don't mind at all. He still vacuums every day. :-)

This past week was a tough one at work. ReadSoft announced they are laying off 80 people worldwide, including about 35 from the Swedish offices. We were all shocked and sad. Things had slowed down and we had a hiring freeze, and we probably would have gotten by with that if it hadn't been for the events of September 11. Now orders have slowed to a trickle, and according to management we have to cut costs to ensure our future.

I don't fear for my job in the short term, since I've been with ReadSoft for over five years, but it's awful knowing that some people are going to have to leave and that the company is in such a state. They can't announce who's going to go until the end of this coming week, or maybe even the following week. Everyone at work is suffering some degree of fear, shock or sadness. The atmosphere is thick with tension, and the stock price is rock bottom. I just hope that these layoffs will keep us in the black until the economy picks up again. It would be very sad indeed if the company went under. Not to mention expensive—we've invested in ReadSoft.


September 29

We're having a good weekend. Anders is here, and it's his birthday today. This morning I took Max to a farm that is open to the public, to see the animals and just run around. A man let Max ride along in his tractor/bulldozer! That was exciting.

Nothing much is new. Bengt and I are going to a party this evening. Anders will stay with Max. I think it will be nice to visit with adults without also having to keep an eye on Max.

We are having cold but clear weather. It was barely above freezing this morning.

I think I forgot to write that last time Max was sick, I took him to see the doctor to rule out an ear infection, just in case. I understand they're not easy to detect in small children. The funny part that I wanted to tell you was that before we went, I taught Max to stick out his tongue and say "Ahh". We each did it and looked into each other's mouths, and I told Max that the doctor would be looking into his mouth the same way.

Well, when we were in the doctor's office and she wanted to look in his throat, I prompted him to stick out his tongue like we'd practiced. But this time what he did was purse his lips tightly shut and stick out the tip of his tongue! It was very funny. The doctor laughed, too.


September 26

Well, the pacifier thing is working pretty well. Max is already down to drinking only about half his usual amount of välling aaaaaaand (super-duper bonus!) he's stopped waking us up for that early morning bottle!! Let's hope that keeps up! He definitely likes the pacifiers. I got him a couple of new ones.

Some people sent comments and advice about the bottle thing, and I appreciated that. It seemed obvious from the messages that Swedes are much less worried about older kids drinking from a bottle or being fed välling (which, by the way, is fortified and we give him the whole wheat version for 12 months and up). I've seen plenty of even three-year-olds drink from bottles here, but that doesn't seem to be acceptable in the U.S. Of course sippy-cups are better, but they didn't have good sippy-cups (with valves) here in Sweden until recently. I had forgotten that drinking a bottle in bed can increase the likelihood of ear infections. Fortunately, Max hasn't yet had an ear infection (knock on wood).

At any rate, Max seems to be fine with switching to a pacifier. Actually, he doesn't use it that much. I check on him after he's asleep, and I've never found him with one in his mouth. And sometimes in the morning it's on the floor next to his crib, and he doesn't seem to mind that it's out of reach.

We rode the bus again this evening...

Helena is ill herself now, so Max is back with Linda. I think Bengt and I mind all this switching around more than Max does.

Here are some new pictures of Max.


September 22—I'm starting to get "bus-sick"

Riding the bus has become a downright obsession with Max. The first thing he says in the morning, even before he's really awake, is "Ride the bus? Ride the bus?" Sometimes he continues repeating this and calling out louder and louder, not "Mama, I want to get out of bed!" but "Ride the bus! Ride the bus!"

We do ride the bus quite often, and I keep hoping he'll get tired of it. I certainly am! And if I say we can't ride the bus, we have to go through a whole list of other vehicles. Ride Mama's car? (The Volvo is Mama's car.) No... Ride Pappa's car? No... Ride a tractor? No... Ride an excavator? No, no, no! ARGH!

On the brighter side, Max has tired of TV to a certain extent. He's no longer interested in watching it at all most mornings. Instead, Max and I listen to music, drink coffee in the livingroom (Max's has his own coffee cup, from which he drinks 90% milk and 10% coffee), play with toys, "read" the paper, etc. It's more work but less tedious than watching Babe or There Goes a Fire Truck for the hundredth time.

Last evening Bengt and I were having a rough-n-tumble with Max in our bed. Max was jumping like mad, Bengt was throwing him up in the air, we tickled him and tossed him around. Max laughed and shrieked non-stop for what seemed like a very long time. It was such fun!

Then, quite suddenly, Max threw up what looked like at least three meals. It squirted out his nose and soaked all of our bedding. Max was pretty unhappy for a couple of minutes, but as soon as we got the bed stripped and his pajamas changed, he was once again bouncing like a maniac on the bed... Good grief! At least we knew he wasn't sick, just over-exerted. We had an aerobic session this evening, too, but we stopped it a lot sooner by distracting him with a new book. (Max loves the books we get him.)

Max's friendship with Johan is still exclusive but seems a little less intense. They don't go into fits of ecstacy when they see each other in the morning, but they still always go straight to each other and immediately start running around and playing and laughing. It's really something.

Max's major motor skills are improving by leaps and bounds. Already he can do jumping-jack type jumps (not including the arm movements), balance on one leg surprisingly steadily, jump from high places without assistance (into sand), jump very energetically on the bed without falling off, jump on the bed (or couch, unfortunately) and purposefully land on his bottom, pump a swing (!), go down looooong slides by himself, walk up and down steep hills without help, run fast, jump while spinning around, etc. Much of this I think he got from Johan, who is about 10 months older and has always been extremely good at stuff like this. But I feel comfortable letting Max decide what he can do, because he rarely gets hurt. When he does fall and get a scrape or bruise, it's when he's doing something he's good at, and he gets careless.

He's not as good a climber as you might think, probably because he's not as stringy and flexible as many toddlers but very strong and compact. I mean, he's got more of a weight-lifter's build than a gymnast's. I've never seen Max sit comfortably in contorted positions like other kids do. He can't (or doesn't dare, for fear of falling) climb into or out of his crib like other toddlers.

I mentioned that Max likes books. The best ones right now are from a Swedish series of board books for toddlers. For example, there's The Little Book About the Body, My First Picture Book, and (hands-down favorite) The Little Book About Vehicles. The pictures are realistic and interesting, and there's so much to talk about. Sometimes Max talks and sometimes I talk. Sometimes I ask Max to pick a certain item out of a group. Like I might ask him to find the penguin among ten or so animals, or the ball among a dozen toys, or the chisel among a lot of tools. It pleases me immensely that he doesn't just give up after a couple of seconds but will really study the spread until he finds the thing I asked him about or is ready to wager a guess. As physically oriented as he is, it wouldn't have surprised or worried me if he didn't have the patience for that, but I think it's just great that he does.

Today we took Max to visit our friends, Gunilla and Mats, who just adopted a girl from India. Hanna is now 9 months old and really unique and totally different from Max. It was wonderful and fascinating to meet her! Compared to Max at that age, she's totally uninterested in mobility and much more interested in observing. She stares intently at new faces and seems to take them in in a way I don't know that I've ever seen Max do. She can sit fingering and examining a button or small toy or whatever for a very long time. She interacts, but she's definitely more interested in observing than being in the center of it all. She gives the impression of being extremely intelligent. Really fascinating to see!

Max, though just a little shy at first, edged his way around to Hanna and was quite interested in her and kind to her. He got jealous when I held her on my lap, though. Not too bad, but you could tell he wasn't going to share his Mama with anyone for very long. He might not want to sit on my lap for more than a couple of minutes, but no one else gets to, either!

Max has been drinking more and more välling in the evenings before bed, then again at around 5 a.m., then as soon as he wakes up. He can get quite hysterical if we don't comply and bring him a bottle when he asks for one. But I don't think it's the nourishment he needs. He's learning to talk now, and realizing that there are things to be afraid of, and the bottle seems to provide extra security. He wants to suck while he's falling asleep or when he feels vulnerable, is what I think.

I don't like giving him so much of that stuff. He should be eating more regular food, and I worry about his teeth, since he likes to have the bottles in bed. But whenever we try to reduce the amount of välling we give Max, he goes berserk and ends up getting even more than before.

So this evening Bengt and I discussed it, and we rounded up the pacifiers that we've had ever since Max was a little baby. Up until now he's just used them as toys. But we're going to encourage him to use those when he wants to suck. We figure it's the lesser of the two evils. (Right??) I stuck one in my own mouth and pretended to fall asleep. We played this game for awhile. Then after his (small) bottle this evening in my lap, I popped a pacifier into Max's mouth as soon as he pulled the empty bottle out. He actually kept it in his mouth and sucked on it as I put him in his crib and said good night, and for awhile longer. Later we could hear him chatting with Bunny, but it did seem like he got the idea with the pacifier. At any rate, he didn't call us upstairs for another bottle to fall asleep with. We'll see how it goes. (Comments & suggestions welcome.)

This afternoon Max wanted very much to take a nap with me in my bed. He hadn't fallen asleep with me since that one time about Sept. 1, so we did crawl into bed together. Lovely! Max slept without moving for almost three hours. Of course, the first thing he said when he woke up was... "Ride the bus!"

He's such an angel when he's sleeping! I like to sniff his hair. :-)

Here's what Bengt wrote to friends about his experience of September 11:

Incredible ... I was in the car on my way to an indoor playground with Max when I heard it in the radio. Didn't believe it at first, thought it was another "war of the worlds" type show on the radio. When I got there I called Eileen who was watching the news at work and she confirmed it all. Felt physically ill when it dawned on me, could only stay at the playground for about an hour (kids playing, not knowing, almost all parents talking on their mobile phones), then I had to get home to see it for myself on TV.

Don't know if that reaction caused it but I was then subsequently out for 2 days with high fever (over 40 degrees C), feeling really nasty.

Eileen flew down to Frankfurt Friday to visit Bernhard (planned since a while back), felt uneasy to have her fly but realistically we are (so far,) more sheltered here in Europe from this insanity.

Security remains beefed up at the airport and the US embassy is closed and surrounded by police still.

Swedish airforce is on alert and gave all of Stockholm heart attacks when they flew low over Stockholm in the middle of the night a few days ago.

So far only one Swede is unaccounted for in the disaster. A 25 year old man who worked in one of the towers.

Peter Forsberg and the entire Colorado Avalanche hockey team has been here in Sweden for a week for training camp, they were scheduled to play 2 games against local teams but both those have been canceled by the NHL.

... damn, what evil !

We're thinking of you. (Especially you, Mom and Dad, who haven't gotten much e-mail from me lately! Sorry about that! I was away last weekend, and both this week and last were exceptionally busy, but now that I've got the website updated...)


September 11—We're in shock

We're horrified and appalled at what happened in New York, Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh today. I heard about it at work pretty directly, and my colleagues and I gathered around a TV to watch things unfold. Just awful! My head is full of all sorts of scenes I've seen on TV, sorrow for victims and families, imagined scenerios, and questions about the future.

Max is better today and we'll try daycare again tomorrow. He's still not eating properly and has lost several pounds, but his energy level is almost normal and he seems anxious for more stimulation. He hasn't had a fever since Saturday. Helena's son now has the same thing Max had, so Max will have to go to Linda again. Sigh.

The other day I saw Max drop something behind the headboard of our bed, and when I looked back there I found a nest of miscellaneous items: barrettes, earrings, facial tissues, small toys, etc.—even my pajama bottoms that had been missing for a couple of weeks! I think it's really funny that he's been dropping things back there. Why my pajamas? I even told him I was looking for my pajama bottoms. He went and fetched the pajama top for me, so obviously he understood what I meant.

When Max wants me to get up in the morning, he hands me my glasses, my barrette, and my pajamas. (I sleep in a T-shirt but put the pajamas on over it when I get up.) It's so cute that it makes getting up early less of a drag.


September 9—First illness in months

Poor little Max has a sore throat. Yesterday he had a fever, but today his fever's lower or already gone. He still has a sore throat, though, and isn't eating or drinking much. He's very crabby, too, which of course isn't like him. We'll stay home with him tomorrow (Monday). That is, Bengt will come home around 1 p.m. and take over so I can go work "the late shift".

Since Max wasn't feeling well, we watched quite a lot of TV with him this weekend. It was just about the only way to keep him calm and relatively content. You can only read so many books in a row, but the number of times you can watch "Babe" and "The Tigger Movie" and "There Goes a Fire Truck" is just about unlimited. I've never been one to watch a movie over and over, but I'm beginning to see why some people do that. You get interested in a character's mannerisms or way of talking or the way scenes are cut or whatever, and it becomes really enjoyable and even relaxing to watch the same scenes over and over.

Anyway, Max has his favorite scenes in every video (or DVD) he has, and I can see him looking forward to those scenes. Sometimes I play them over and over for him. Like when Babe falls off the woodpile or the entrance to the chicken coop, or when Mrs. Hoggett rides a bus (!), or when Mr. Hoggett dances a Scottish dance, or when Tigger bounces his "whoopdy-dooper-loopdy-looper-alley-ooper bounce"—and so on. You get the idea.

Max still really enjoys his "Baby Van Gogh", "Baby Mozart", Baby Einstein, and "Baby Beethoven" videos. I myself am pretty irritated by certain scenes, just because the woman behind the videos kind of gets on my nerves, but Max has gotten so many hours of enjoyment out of the tapes that I don't mind too much. There's really nothing to object to, the way I object to Max watching Tigger (it's a bit too fast-paced for toddlers, in my opinion) and especially Toy Story, which Bengt lets Max watch but I don't. (There's nothing terrible in Toy Story movies, but they're too fast and loud for the littlest kids.) I worry that Max will become numb watching fast-paced movies. Too much input makes us shut down or have some other undesireable reaction, I think.

In my last entry I wrote about Max's friend Johan. The next day when I took Max to daycare, Johan shot out of the house when Helena told him Max had arrived. He went over to Max and they hugged—a nice tender hug! Then they stepped apart, gazed at each other, and hugged again! It was really amazing and heartwarming. Another dagmamma (not Helena) who happened to be standing nearby said to me, "Those two only have eyes for each other. They don't even see the other kids around them right now. They have so much fun together!" I'm so glad Max has a little friend he enjoys so much. I'm going to get in touch with Johan's parents and invite them over for coffee or something some weekend. (With Johan and their other kids, of course. I think Johan has two older siblings.)

This afternoon I went out to lunch with a friend, Liz. Then we shopped at two stores, one of which was Gray's American Food Store in Stockholm. I bought one large bag of stuff that you normally can't get here—two boxes of Cheerios, brown sugar, a bag of Doritos, a can of yams, a box of fruit wraps, and some other small things. Cost me $40! At any rate, it was really nice to get out of the house for a few hours and talk with Liz.

Next weekend I'm flying to Frankfurt to visit Bernhard. Bengt and Max are staying home. When Bernhard asked what I wanted to do, my spontaneous reply was that I wanted to drink wine! Doh!

Well, wish us luck this coming week. It would be nice if Max could go back to daycare on Tuesday...


September 3, 2001

Things are so-so here. I had a migraine headache from Sat. night until this morning (Wed.). That's the longest one I ever had. It wasn't excruciating this time because I took Tylenol #3 (with codeine) the whole time. But I still had to stay home from work, and as a result of the medicine I'm still feeling somewhat disoriented and tired. I did manage to work today, though. Phew! I guess I'll feel more normal tomorrow.

Max is doing just great. He talks more every day, and his speech is becoming more and more Swedish. He understands everything I say but rarely speaks English himself. Right now that doesn't bother me. I'm just happy to be able to understand more and more of what he says. It's great to be able to "talk" with him and understand things that he asks for. I hope that our visit to the U.S. in December makes his English more active, though.

Max's regular caregiver, Birgitta, is off work until at least September 17 and probably longer. He has been going to Helena and is doing just fine there. But Helena's son got sick last week, so Max had to switch again—to Linda. He did fine there, as well, but I felt that he was stressed. It's got to be confusing, switching around like that so often, even if he does "know" all of the kids and all of the caregivers, more or less.

When I took him back to Helena's on Monday, we walked in and the first person Max saw was a little boy named Johan. Max's face lit up and he cried, "Johan!" Johan broke out in a huge grin and said, "Max!" They immediately moved towards each other and started playing. Helena told me that those two have the best time together. "They have the same sense of humor: primitive!" A few minutes later I could see them bouncing side by side on hippity-hops (remember those?). They kept falling off on purpose, and it looked like they could amuse themselves for hours doing this...

I've had my eye on Johan ever since Max and I started going to Öppna förskolan, the open daycare. He seemed like an older version of Max (he's about a year older)—very active and very secure in himself. He was surprisingly kind to Max, as well—even way back then. He would come up to Max and give him cars. Once he patted Max. I was hoping that someday they'd be friends. Max has good taste! :-)

The other day Max ate so much pasta that he threw up. He was absolutely not sick—he just stuffed himself too full. Good grief!

Yesterday Max got to talk with Pappa on the phone. Pappa planted the idea in his head that we were going to ride the bus (one of Max's favorite activities). Max handed the phone back to me and said (in Swedish): "Ride the bus? Ride the bus! Ride the bus! RIDE THE BUS!!" he demanded louder and louder as I tried to end the call with Bengt. That gave Bengt a good chuckle...

Max and I do ride the bus quite often. We don't go anywhere. We just get on and ride wherever the bus happens to be going. Max says "Hi!" to everyone who boards. If they respond, he tries to engage them by saying "Ride the bus?" or some such thing. It's kind of funny. What can be a bit embarrassing is when we meet neighbors and they ask where we're off to, and I have to tell them we're not going anywhere—we're just out riding the bus! Or when we reach the end station but don't get off the bus, and the driver asks us if we missed our stop or what, and I say, "No, we're just waiting for you to turn around and drive back. We're just riding around." Some of the drivers are really friendly and start showing Max the controls and stuff.

Bengt took Max to the grocery store the other day. He told me that Max called out "Hello!" to everyone in the store. He also said it was Max who "found" the raspberries they bought—by sticking his fist into a pint of them. He really loves berries of all kinds.

Max has started telling us when he's soiled his diaper. He points to his rear end and says, "Poop" (in Swedish). This doesn't mean he wants his diaper changed, however. Max is reluctant to lie still long enough for that.

Speaking of diapers, I don't know what the current American trends are on toilet training, but here in Sweden they rarely "train" the kids at all. Parents may buy a potty and let the toddler get acquainted with it, but otherwise they just wait until the kid decides he wants to use it, and then show him how. This means that Swedish kids are in diapers a lot longer than they used to be (when Swedes potty trained their kids). But it also means that toddlers stop using diapers totally by their own choice, with no threats or rewards and very little discussion. Bengt and I are not in any particular hurry to have Max use the potty, so I guess we'll just go with that "method".

Max still loves to take baths and help with any kind of cleaning or straightening up. He would love to "help" cook, but that's where I draw the line—I can't stand the mess.

And here's a "first": Max fell asleep in bed with me the other night. We've been working on that, because (A) he wanted to and (B) I thought it would be good for us if he were able to fall asleep with me, for practical reasons, like for when we're on trips. We relaxed in bed together several evenings at Max's bedtime, but he wasn't able to settle down enough to go to sleep, though he really did try. He got better at it, though, and finally last night he fell asleep after about 15 minutes. I waited awhile and then carried him over to his crib, and he didn't wake up when I moved him—also a first!

Boy, it seems like many parents have to work to get their kids to sleep in their own beds, and here we had the opposite problem. And Max has always woken up when we moved him. Now I feel that his bedtime routine is more flexible, which makes me feel more confident about traveling with him, making him comfortable in our bed if he gets sick, or whatever. It's also just nice for him to be capable of sleeping close to other people, don't you think? Flexibility is good for all of us.

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