What's New at the Pålssons'


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

December 30, 2002: Max's third birthday

Today Max turned three, and he got yet another pile of presents. He could get used to this! He got a kids' CD player from Aunt Lin and Uncle Mark, a very nice stuffed kitty (now named Simba) from Ben and Elliot, a Lego vehicle from me and Bengt, Lofty the Crane (from the Bob the Builder series) from Farmor and Farfar, a neat game with bunnies from Uncle Anders, and some books from Grandpa. He was very pleased!

Bengt took Max sledding early this afternoon with another boy (Nils) and his father. It wasn't one of their more successful outings. Bengt sent Max down the hill and the sled went extremely fast and then hit a bump right at the bottom of the hill. Max went flying, landed on his forehead and started hollering. Bengt, dashing down the hill to comfort Max, took a belly dive himself and is still (hours later) in mild pain. 

Later the two boys were riding a teeter-totter type of thing at the playground. Max's end hit the ground and he wasn't holding on tightly enough, so he went flying off and hit the back of his head this time. Poor little guy! But there was no serious damage, thank heavens.

Nils and his parents came over for cheesecake and coffee, etc. The boys played together and we got to sit at the dining room table for a couple of hours. That was nice, and I think Max felt like it was a little party for him, even though it was nothing unusual. (Max and I were over at their house for sweets and coffee a couple of days ago.) It really tired him out, too. He fell asleep in record time this evening—under 30 seconds. He can fall asleep practically in the middle of a sentence, if he's lying down. Funny little kid!

Lina's family got back to town today and I hope they want to get together tomorrow. Max is much more content when he has another kid to play with. Yesterday there was no one to play with, so Max and I went out to do some grocery shopping. We stopped at McDonald's for a snack and ended up staying for three hours because Max found a 5-year-old boy that he really enjoyed playing with. The other mom was there with her friend, so they appreciated being able to talk while the boys played, and I got to read the entire Sunday paper—a luxury! Max and Elias really did play well together. They stuck together the whole time at McDonald's and were so kind to each other. They ate ice cream together and Max asked Elias if he could come over and play. When it was time to go Max hugged the boy. The boy's mother can't speak English or Swedish (they're from Somalia), and they live in another town, but I gave the friend my name and phone number and we hope to get the boys together again. 

That evening when Max was turning off our reading lamp before going to sleep, he accidentally touched the hot halogen bulb. (He knows it gets hot and has turned it on and off zillions of times and never burnt himself. His hand must have slipped or something.) He burned two fingers and screamed bloody murder for about a half hour before falling asleep out of sheer exhaustion. Bengt and I felt so sorry for him. We didn't have any anesthetic ointment at home (I'm getting some next time I pass a pharmacy!), and ice and cold water didn't help. I put aloe vera on it and then (in desperation) Baby Oral Gel, which seemed to help a bit. By this morning there was a big blister covering the whole pad of Max's middle finger, but he hasn't complained of any pain.

I haven't working over the holidays, and of course Max has noticed I've been at home a lot. He asked me the other day, "Mama, do you like staying at home with me?" That was an unexpected question. I said that of course I do, although I don't like playing with cars as often as he does. In response he hugged me and said he loved me.

Another time before we fell asleep he told me, "You're my mama. If I would lose you, I'd be sad." Awww. I hastened to assure him that he if he lost me, I would find him so we wouldn't be sad anymore.

Bengt and I don't have any plans for NYE tomorrow. We don't really care about it. Maybe we will watch a movie together. We have some champaign to share, anyway.

Happy New Year to all of our friends and family! 
We wish you all the best in 2003.

December 27

We hope everyone had a very nice Christmas. Ours was pretty laid back. Sven and Anna-Brita and Anders arrived on Sunday and we spend a few days mostly eating, watching TV, and playing with Max. Unfortunately Sven had some alarming urinary tract problems on Christmas Eve, so they left a day early so they could go to the hospital down in Skåne rather than here. We were sad to see them go! In addition, Bengt has been sick off and on since Sunday. It's been a real rollercoaster of bouts of fever and chills mixed with periods of feeling relatively well. It doesn't seem to be anything like what Max had last week, but it's bad enough to keep Bengt in bed much of the time. :-(

We did have a delightful time on Christmas Eve, though. Sven went down to the garage and dressed up as Santa, then took all the presents up to the porch in a big sack and rang the doorbell. Max ran to the door to answer it, and the first few seconds he seemed taken aback. But then came the question he was expecting, "Are there any nice children here?" Max said, "Yes, me, I'm nice." 

Santa (looking nothing like Sven) trudged in and we led him into the TV room, where he started pulling presents out of his bag. He pretended not to know who everyone was and asked Max to help him. He read the tag on each present and let Max deliver it to the right person. Many of them were, of course, for Max himself, and soon he had a gigantic pile of presents. 

When the presents had been distributed, Santa asked for and received hugs from Max. Max felt Santa's fluffy beard and said that he liked something (we couldn't hear exactly what). Santa said, "You like my beard?" Max replied, "No, I like all of you." We gave Santa an apple and some chocolate and then he left. Max dashed into the TV room and hugged his pile of presents. ;-) Soon after, Sven came up from the garage, but in all the excitement Max hadn't even noticed he'd been gone. Being Max's Santa was a big deal for Sven, so I'm glad it went well! Max had no clue who it was and wasn't scared, either.

Sven and Anna-Brita and Anders had so many presents for Max that Bengt and I didn't bother giving him the ones we had for him (including the presents from family and friends). That was way too many presents for one little boy! He got (among other things):

  • A gigantic three-level garage with various accessories.

  • An equally gigantic dump truck with various truck noises.

  • A realistic model car with all moving parts (doors, trunk, hood, steering wheel).

  • A realistic Volvo tractor with various accessories so it can be used as a cruncher, snowplow, bulldozer, forklift, and tow truck. This matches the Volvo dump truck he got from the Pålssons earlier.

  • Numerous videos and books.

  • A big bucket of Lego blocks, which is really nice because up until now we often ran out of pieces at inopportune times.

There are still more Christmas and birthday presents hidden in the cupboard in the laundry room, a big bag of birthday presents in the garage, and at least three packages still on route from the U.S.! I hope people don't mind if we spread them out a bit. We can prolong his joy by giving him a couple of new things a week.

Bengt and I enjoyed giving and receiving some nice things, too. We got (among other things) a toaster, a boot dryer (like a blow dryer for wet boots—very useful), books, money (even more useful), and various DVD boxes such as Simpsons, Lord of the Rings, and (my favorite) Star Trek Next Generation. Nice!!!

We let Max stay up and play with his new presents as long as he wanted. About 10 p.m. he dragged his poor little sagging body upstairs and said he wanted to go to bed. He was asleep in under a minute. :-)

The first thing he said the next morning was, "Mama, Santa brought me many presents! I got many many many many presents!" He still sounded awed. I doubt he'll ever forget it.

The next day (on Christmas Day) Anders and I took Max ice skating for the first time. I had bought Max a pair of used skates at a flea market last fall. I guessed he'd still be too little, but for $2, why not give it a whirl? We tried them on here at home and found that they fit and that Max was able to stand and even walk across the floor in them, which surprised me. So we walked down to the lake and gave it a try. There was no way Max could stay on his feet for even a few seconds without Anders and me on each side of him. Still, we praised him for doing a reasonable job of keeping his feet under him, and after a short rest he asked to try again. 

Today he wanted to try skating again, but Bengt still isn't well and didn't want to go with us, so I went by myself. I'm pretty wobbly on the skates! My right ankle is clearly weaker after having been sprained this fall. I'll try to get down there and skate just a mile or two every day for a week. Maybe I'll feel steadier then, and ready to skate all the way around the lake (5.2 miles), instead of cutting across halfway around.

Yesterday Max wanted to play with someone closer to his age. We called three friends but none of them were available to play. In desperation I took him over to the mall and dropped him off in the play area there (which is really very nice). He played there for an hour before having the personnel call me on my cell phone. In that time I wandered around the mall (really relaxing, actually) and bought myself a really nice pair of Ecco slippers. They were about the only thing in the store that was not on sale, but I bought them anyway. :-) Then we had dinner at Burger King, bought some groceries, and drove home. 

I drove a different way around the mall on the way out, and for some reason this really upset Max. He said I was going the wrong way and cried all the way home, even though he could see the familiar roads and landmarks. When we got home, he cried on Bengt's shoulder because Mama drove the wrong way. How bizarre! Well, I've learned my lesson. I now know which way is the Right Way to drive around the mall! 

We got a lot of cards this year. I enjoyed that. I love it when people include pictures, notes, letters, or newsletters with their card. It makes me feel closer to them, even if I haven't seen them in years. Thank you, everyone.

December 19

World's Best Early Christmas Present #1: Max got what in Sweden they are calling Winter Barf Bug (approximate translation). It was horrible and awful, but it's over now and Bengt and I didn't get it! The incubation time is 24 hours, and Max came down with it Thursday morning, so today (Sunday) I think it's safe to say that Bengt and I are both immune. (They say that 20% of adults are immune, so those weren't good odds.) Christmas can proceed as planned!

World's Best Early Christmas Present #2: Suddenly Pappa is almost as good as Mama, as far as Max is concerned—meaning that with a minimum of resistance, and even if I'm home, Max will allow Pappa to play with him, put him to bed, watch TV with him, even rock him when he's sick! What a relief! Suddenly it is possible for me to do some household chore or work on my PC without knowing for a fact that I have to choose from these alternatives: 

  • Include Max. 

  • Invest in a campaign to get Max and Pappa involved in something together. 

  • Endure Max's constant interruptions and requests for attention

  • Ask Bengt to remove Max and then endure a short fit of crying & begging (and a sizeable dose of guilt) as Pappa carries Max away from me.

Suddenly I can sleep in a separate room from Max and know that if he should wake up, I won't necessarily be called upon. I can just put a pillow over my head and get on with a good night's sleep! What a luxury.

Bengt told me that Friday when the two of them were lying on the couch together, Max suddenly told him, "I love you, Pappa." I don't know who was more pleased by that—me or Bengt.

World's Best Early Christmas Present #3: Suddenly Max has done an almost complete about-face and turned affectionate. He used to squirm to get away if you tried to hug and kiss him, or at best put up with it and then run away when released. Recently he's been offering hugs and kisses. Now all of a sudden he tells us that we are a fine/nice/good mama and pappa and that he loves us. It's so nice to hear! He asked me the other day if I love him, and I realized I haven't been saying it very often because it didn't seem to mean anything to him or to be welcome. Since then I've been telling him several times a day, and he likes it and says it back. Wow! He also tells us thoughtfully that he loves other people, like Birgitta, Sven, Anna-Brita and Anders. I think it'll take a little longer to extend this to people he doesn't see very often, like his American family, but that'll come.

Runner-up for World's Best Early Christmas Present: At daycare Max (obviously with Birgitta's help) made and wrapped two presents for Bengt and me. He is so proud of these. He gave us one to open right away and told us that we could open the other on Christmas Eve (which is when presents are opened in Sweden). We opened the first one, a small decorative cloth that Max had stamped stars on, and it was fun watching him watch us open it. I think he'd forgotten what was inside, and when he saw it he exclaimed, "I made that! I made that for you!" Of course we doled out the praise. The other present we are saving for Christmas Eve.

Another excellent development: Max suddenly likes to drink water. He got pretty dehydrated when he was sick, and suddenly water became a very satisfying beverage. He's still drinking lots of water and often looks at it in surprise, like, "Wow, I really like this! How come I never realized that water tastes so good?"

Important parenting lesson of the month: Never give a three-year-old Coca-Cola (even a little) at 7 p.m., even if he is complaining of an upset stomach. Max got about 1/2 cup Friday evening and was up until 2:40 a.m., bouncing off the walls and talking non-stop! As luck would have it, Bengt was out with friends that night and didn't come in until 3:30—less than 1 hour after we'd finally fallen asleep. By that time I was completely "Maxed out", although I have to say it was kind of fun once I realized and accepted the fact that we weren't going to get much sleep that night. Max had literally just recovered from his brutal but short-lived Winter Barf Bug, and he was in extremely high spirits. Among other things, we had fun making and eating "breakfast" at 1 a.m.

By the way, I've switched to FrontPage now. Let me know if you notice any problems. This wouldn't be entirely unexpected. See http//www.fourmilab.ch/webtools/demoroniser/ if you want to find out what I mean (Wendy, I think you'd enjoy this). 

The Pålssons are arriving today, so Christmas is on the doorstep. I bounced out of bed this morning like I haven't done in years, excited at what lies ahead today and this week. Wanted to write this final update before Christmas (sorry it's so one-sided: Max Max Max) and above all wish all of you a

Very Merry Christmas!!!

Enjoy the holidays, and take good care. Love, Eileen

December 18

Three things that Max learned this evening:

  • Green Play-Doh sticks to your teeth.

  • Green Play-Doh is easily removed using an electric toothbrush and lots of toothpaste.

  • Juice tastes really gross right after you brush your teeth.

Max's latest constant question, posed right after performing some feat that he wants to be praised for:

Max: Can babies do what I just did?
Mama: No.
Max: Why not?
Mama: Because they're not big/strong/experienced enough and they can't.
Max: But I'm a big boy, so I can do it. Only big boys can do this.

This Fisher Price house is one of Max's favorite toys right now. We got it used at a place where I sell Max's outgrown toys on consignment. It was one of the last items I thought he'd go for when we walked in, but once he got his hands on it, no other toy would do. Among other things, he likes to pretend that the house is on fire, and one of his fleet of fire trucks rushes to put it out. (Of course vehicles must be involved in any story that Max acts out... :-) He also likes the fact that its kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator whose door actually opens, and the toilet in the bathroom has a lid that he can raise and lower. The dolls fit on the toilet. Excellent.

Max had his 3-year checkup at the clinic on December 2. It was interesting because they did a few developmental tests. Of course Max performed them perfectly. :-) They also weighed and measured him, and he is still a very large boy for his age. Height: 102 cm (3'4"). Weight: 20.2 kg (44 1/2 lbs.). He's near the top of the curve for height and even higher for weight. The midwife said, "He likes to eat, doesn't he." Yep! No problems there!

Max's language proficiency is still improving by leaps and bounds. I don't think he's far behind other kids his age. Things I've noticed recently:

  • He asks increasing often what a word is in Swedish (if he heard it in English) or English (if he heard it in Swedish).

  • He has been using modifiers more often, like "very" and "a little".

  • He can count up to ten in both languages.

  • He sings constantly and is getting better at imitating the melody and getting the words right.

  • He very often uses reasoning as a way to try to get what he wants (which often succeeds, at least with me). For example, recently I had a picture trimmer on my desk (it's like a miniature cutting board—very sharp). Max wanted to use it and I said no because it is too sharp. Max said he would be careful, but I still said no. Instead of whining or crying, like he might have done just a couple of months ago, he said: "Mama, listen to me. I said I would be careful. I will be very careful and not cut myself." Well, what could I say to that? I let him use it—under very close supervision, of course.

Recently Max farted in the bathtub. I know he's done it before, but he must not have really been aware of it, because this time he looked very surprised and exclaimed, "Mama, my body is blowing bubbles!" Ha ha!

Lately Max has been asking me for these two stories (true stories) every single night:

  1. "What happened to Grandpa's foot?" I have to tell that story over and over. Today I bought a toy motorcycle that one of his toy guys fits on, so we can act it out. I thought this might help him process it.

  2. The story of when my family went camping, and we took our cat with us, and a snake bit the cat's tail and wouldn't let go. Marlin chopped the snake in half, but even though the snake was dead the head half was still clamped on the cat's tail. Marlin had to use pliers to pry the snake's mouth off the cat's tail.

Lordy, I wonder what kind of dreams he has after bedtime stories like that!

For the past couple of months I've really enjoyed playing backgammon on the Internet. Bengt set it up for me at http://www.netgammon.com/. It's a blast! If you ever go there to play, you can look for me. My screen name there is Maja!

We're gearing up for Christmas here, and I'm really looking forward to it. I look forward to Sven & Anna-Brita & Anders' visit, because I always enjoy that. And I look forward to Max meeting Santa (Sven in disguise) on Christmas Eve as per Swedish tradition. We've been talking about it, and at first Max said he was afraid of Santa, but as soon as I said Santa would be bringing a bag of presents for him, he seemed ok with it! I'm a bit worried that Max will recognize that it's Sven, but no one else thinks he will. I think Max will recognize Sven's voice/smell/mannerisms/whatever. He's nobody's fool! Well, we'll see.

By the way, I'll soon be authoring this website using Microsoft FrontPage, rather than directly in text files. Keep this in mind, and if you notice any problems reading it once I get going on that, just email me and I'll see what I can do differently.

November 30

Max and I had our first "real" conversation about death last week. This is how it came about: I was dead tired and wanted to do nothing but watch TV for once. Bengt tried in vain to distract Max from me, but Max insisted on watching with me. I said he could *if* he could watch what *I* wanted, and sit still and not talk. I didn't believe he would last more than two minutes. But it was late and he leaned up against my legs and fell asleep—I thought. I couldn't see his face, but he was perfectly still and didn't say a word for 15 minutes, so I was sure he was asleep.

Then there was a scene in my movie where a couple got mugged in a park on a snowy winter evening. The thief wasn't particularly brutal, but a scuffle occurred when the young woman didn't want to give up her new engagement ring, and the mugger's pistol went off and hit the woman in the chest and killed her. The man then became distraught.

Well, as soon as this scene was over, Max bounced up and said, "Mama, what happened there?" So I turned the movie off and we had a talk about it. I had to do some quick thinking, because I hadn't counted on having a conversation like this with Max so soon. (And of course I would have skipped the scene if I'd suspected Max was awake.) It went something like this:

Max: Mama, what happened? Why is the man so sad?
Eileen: He's sad because the woman got hurt and died.
M: She died?
E: Yes, the gun made a hole in her and she died.
M: The doctor could help her.
E: No. The doctor can help us with lots of things, but he can't help if someone gets a big hole in them.
M: I want to see the hole!
E (rewinding and pausing): Here, you can't see the hole, but you can see the blood behind her in the snow. See, that's a lot of blood, not just a little like when we cut ourselves.
M: And the man is sad.
E: Yes, he's sad because the woman's gone.
M: She's not gone—she's right there!
E: No, that's just her body. She had to leave her body. Her body got a big hole in it, so she couldn't live in it anymore. That's what dying is.
M: So she went away?
E: Yes, she left her body behind and went away.
M: Where did she go?
E (thinking quickly): Well, no one knows for sure where we go when we die, but I think we go up in the sky and fly around and look down, and then go someplace even nicer to live. But the people who are left behind are sad, because they can't see us anymore.
M: Oh. Let's watch it again.
E (thinking, well, the damage is done and I'd rather he see it again, if he wants to, instead of fantasizing about what he thinks he saw): Hmm. Ok... There. Do you feel afraid or sad watching that?
M: No. Do you?
E: No.

That was it. Then we watched more of the movie, which was uninteresting to Max, until he got bored and wandered off. Phew! He hasn't said any more about it since, and neither have I. If there's one thing you can count on Max to do, it's to bring up whatever's on his mind. I'll keep away from that can of worms until Max opens it again!

Max got over his night fears (of dragons, ghosts, etc.) quite awhile ago and falls asleep much easier these days—often within say, 15 seconds! It's hilarious to watch. He will argue and insist that he doesn't want to go to bed. "Not tired! Not at all!" We force him into bed, he's pissed but he grabs his bunny and turns over on his side, maybe says a few incomprehensible words and BOOM, he's out. HELLO! Party time for me and Bengt.

Other times, he says himself that he's tired. If we don't want him to sleep (because, for instance, it's 5 p.m. and if he naps he'll be up until midnight, or from 1:30 to 5 a.m. like not too long ago), he'll sneak off and try to get in a few winks. Yesterday Bengt wouldn't let him lie down in front of the TV, and then found him trying to crawl into one of his toy shelves (which have doors) to nap! He has been known to fall asleep sprawled out on the floor among his cars, vehicle prints on his cheek. (Ha! Just kidding about the vehicle prints.)

Other times, if it's close to bedtime, of course we let Max go to bed. He says he wants to "rest a little while". He crawls into bed, sighs "Ahhhhh! Nice!" and is asleep within minutes. Sometimes.

Of course, other nights he's just as tired but flops around like a fish out of water and can't settle down. Wants stories, games, gets angry when we insist on staying in bed, etc. Ugh.

Other weirdness: When we prepare food together, Max likes to try all foods, including ingredients, batter, spices, and things he already knows he didn't like last time. Tonight he tasted pure lemon juice, and I was looking forward to seeing the sour mouth that we've all seen little kids make when they taste lemons. But he loved it! At his insistence, I put a couple of tablespoons in a cup for him, and he drank it right down. Didn't even make the sourpuss mouth. Just like Bengt! I couldn't believe my eyes. I wonder if those two have something wrong with their taste buds...?

November 13

Lately I've been letting Max stay at those places that some stores have for kids to play while their parents shop, even though they are usually for 3 years and up. He just loves the one at Stinsen (a mall), where they have lots of interesting toys, a ball pit, and an actual small movie theater for the kids.

Last weekend I left him at the play area at Ikea. They have a slide that ends right in a gigantic two-foot-deep ball pit. After 1/2 hours I walked by and looked in the Plexiglas window and watched Max having a wonderful time. After a few minutes he spotted me and started throwing balls at me. Then he seemed to lose interest in me and I went to the café to have a snack before picking him up.

But Max didn't like me disappearing like that, and he told the personnel that he wanted his mama. They paged me and I was there within one minute. I thought it was great that Max wasn't crying or anything and had calmly asked the personnel to get me. He trusts that adults will help him with his needs, and I trust Max to let them know when he's unhappy and not just cower in a corner or cry, like I think I did as a child.

Another development is the ongoing realization that English and Swedish are separate languages. He still mixes quite a bit, but sometimes he will ask me (when I'm speaking English, which is always) what something is in Swedish. He is expressing more complex ideas, and if I don't understand what he's saying, he'll sometimes offer the word or phrase in the other language. It's cool.

Max has been singing quite a lot (see links below), and as I result I usually have some silly song or other running through my head, driving me nuts. So today I made up an alternate song. At least this one's about something more interesting than a twinkling star or whether sheep have wool. It's about our cat, Maja, and I sing this to the tune of Baa baa, black sheep (English version):

Meow meow, striped cat
Have you any claws?
Yes Max, yes Max, on my paws.
One for the carpet
One for the tree
One for the little boy who jumps on me!

November 4

Well, letting Max sleep at 5:30 had the worst possible result: He was awake from 1:30 to 5:30 a.m. Bengt tried to keep Max company, but only Mama would do (argh!). Max did understand that it was nighttime and made quite an effort to sleep, but he just couldn't. I stayed in bed most of the time he was awake, dozing off and on. He managed to play by himself downstairs while I slept, but only for 20 minutes or so.

Finally he crawled back into bed with me and slept until 8 or 9 o'clock. I had a nasty headache from sleeping so fitfully, so I stayed home from the birthday party. Lina was sick, so our plans with her were off anyway.

I don't know how we managed to forget to teach Max his whole name, but it was just last week that Max heard that his name is Maximilian Anders Pålsson. It took him many tries before he learned to say "Maximilian". Now he goes around saying, "My name is Maximilian! I like my name Maximilian!"

Bengt has posted some new pictures of Max, and here are some selected sounds of Max:

Have a good week!

November 2

Hope everyone had a good Halloween. We didn't get a single trick-or-treater! Bummer. But Bengt and Max had fun carving a pumpkin. It was waiting for me on the porch, with a candle in it, when I came home from work. Cute.

Marlin got off just fine and seems to have had a good trip home. We enjoyed his visit. I can tell Max's English has improved a little bit, too. I mean, he's saying more words in English instead of only Swedish.

We're having a good weekend so far. Max and I got up early and hung out. Then Bengt got up and I did the grocery shopping. Just when I got home, some friends (Saeed and Radin) called and asked if we wanted to go swimming with them and their baby daughter. So Max and I drove to another town where they have a heated pool for the little ones. I thought it might be just a tiny kiddie pool, but it turned out to be just right for Max. It was large and shallow, and at the deepest part it was up to Max's chin. The temperature was nice and there was a little slide, too. Max went on the slide about a hundred times, and he also enjoyed walking around in the pool and going up and down the stairs. We stayed until the place closed!

Then of course Max fell asleep in the car on the way home and refused to stay up when we got home. The poor guy was completely exhausted. So he went to bed at 5:30 p.m. and it's now 9:20. Bengt and I are hoping he won't wake up at 2 a.m. and want attention. It's ok if he gets up for a few hours before 1 a.m., but after that time it's torture staying up with him. We'll see. Maybe he can watch a video by himself or something he if wakes up.

I saw a fox in our back yard a few days ago! I told Bengt and he says he's seen them before. That was news to me! He says they usually look pretty scruffy, but this one looked healthy and perky. Maja took off after it and followed it, but at a respectful distance...

While out grocery shopping, I stopped at a store that sells used children's clothing. I bought three pairs of pants and some Oshkosh overalls for Max, all in good condition, for $15. I was really pleased. I love getting a good deal. Now I will also get him a fleece sweater that I saw (new) that has a big green dragon sewn on the front. Max will love that. Anything with dragons on it... And guess what it costs: $15. Funny. Good Christmas present, though.

The other day Max discovered a few skin tags that I have on my neck. He asked what they are and I said people tend to get those as they get older. He asked me if I was getting old, and when I said yes, he said something about buying a new mama! I said, "No, you can't buy a new mama. I'm your mama forever and ever, even when I get old and even when YOU get old." Just out of curiosity (and a little insecurity), I asked, "Would you like to get a new mama, if you could?" Fortunately, he said he definitely would not. Whew!

Tomorrow Birgitta and I are getting Max and Lina together. Max called up Lina the other day (I dialed) and invited her over. Lina said yes, so I assume they're coming over here. Later in the afternoon we have a birthday party to attend. Little Hanna is two years old. I never thought I'd say this, but I really like taking Max to birthday parties. I always have fun, too. It's always a bit of an adventure.

Take care.

October 26

Marlin is here and we are enjoying his visit. He is easy to entertain (flea markets, going along on errands) and makes himself useful (helping to paint our upstairs hall). For some mysterious reason Max has been a bit skeptical about interacting with him. Lately I'm finding it difficult to understand what goes on in the mind of an almost-three-year-old.

Yep, we painted upstairs... Painting the walls and ceiling high over the stairs was a challenge. It wasn't possible to balance a ladder on the stairs, so we hauled up some planks and our old kitchen counter from the garage and rigged up a makeshift floor over the stairs. Then we put the step ladder on that. It was a bit precarious, but we did it without mishap. We also replaced the shelf that housed the phone and various knick-knacks with a different one that Bengt put together, and hung a new lamp over the stairs. Now we need to touch up the woodwork and hang the pictures, and it'll be done. Very satisfying.

The other morning I woke up with my entire respiratory system clogged with phlegm. Trying to explain to Max in words he can understand why I felt so crappy, I said that my nose, throat and chest were filled up with "buggers". Max told me to lie down and hold still, and he'd dig them out for me. He came at me with a finger ready to do the job, and when I objected he said, "Don't worry, it won't hurt! It'll just take a minute. I can get the buggers out." Good grief!

Max and I both have colds which had rather severe symptoms for one day but since then have been tolerable. So far Bengt and Marlin have been spared.

I'm not sure to what extent kids go trick-or-treating here. Bengt says some kids came by last year (I wasn't home, I guess), so I have some candy ready. Max tried on and liked the Spiderman pajamas that he got from Ben & Elliot, but it is too cold to go out in just those, and there's no room under them for other clothes. I don't think Max is interested, anyway. (I described the process to him and he stated quite clearly that he didn't want to do it.) It would be more fun for him to open the door and hand out candy. Next year perhaps...

October 16

On Monday we got word of exactly which ReadSoft employees are likely to be affected by the upcoming layoffs. I'll be losing two of my technical writer colleagues, both of which have been with us for almost two years. It's horrible to see your trusted and respected colleagues go, especially when you can't imagine how the remaining writers are going to handle the workload. The atmosphere is tense at work, and there are many discussions going on regarding how the newly trimmed-down organization will function. It's not a fun place to be right now.

Fortunately (?!) I was sick today. I have a sore throat and cold that Max and Bengt brought back with them from Perstorp. I hope mine passes as quickly as their did, so I don't give it to Marlin, who arrives on Friday. Anyway, it's not all that bad. I worked most of the day on a document that I brought home with me.

October 8

Max is not completely recovered from his adenoidectomy and is still breathing very well. We've barely spoken of his operation, but at some point a few days ago the conversation turned to his nose (don't ask me how), and I pointed out, "Hey, that doctor fixed your nose, didn't he! You can breathe a lot better now." Max looked a little pensive for a few seconds and then said, "I was a little scared." I said, "Yeah, that's understandable. But we got through it together!" "Yay!" said Max, "We did it together!"

I wrote a month ago that Max was being very bossy. He's gotten even worse now. Sometimes it's downright comical. This evening we were going to play with his cars in his playroom, but he had earlier moved them over to the TV room. Now he told me,

"I want those cars in the playroom now. You can move them over here."
"You can do that."
"No, you can do that."
"Well, we can do it together. I'll help you."
"No, you do it yourself."

For heaven's sake! And I'm ashamed to admit it, but I went ahead and did it. It only took one minute, and I preferred just doing it to dealing with the consequences if I didn't (mind-bogglingly persistent nagging and possibly tears). I know, I shouldn't have done it! I'll need to come up with some strategies for dealing with his bossiness. Is simply saying "no" and dealing with the annoying consequences the only solution? If you have suggestions, please send them.

As an aside, Birgitta reports the same behavior from Lina, but even worse. The other day Lina fetched her mother and father into the workroom, saying, "I'm going to do a puzzle." She closed the door behind them and sat down to her puzzle. Birgitta and Kristian stood next to her for a little while, and finally Kristian asked, "Ok, you're going to do a puzzle, but what are we supposed to do?" Lina replied without looking up, "You just stand there." Doh! So Max is not the only very determined toddler who needs to be cured of the belief that Mamma & Pappa exist solely to fulfill his every whim.

Max is so into cars right now that today he accidentally referred to his playroom as "my car room". Every available surface is covered with cars, plus garages and car washes built with blocks. We've got to broaden this kid's horizons...

October 3—Max's adenoidectomy

Max had his operation on Tuesday (Oct 1). Bengt and Max and I arrived at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. but Max was unfortunately the last child to be operated on that day, so we had to wait around until 11:00. It wasn't too bad, but it would have been a lot less stressful if we'd been first. I got to stay with Max until he got the anesthetic by IV (which he didn't complain about) and went to sleep.

About a half hour later they wheeled him out. All the other kids were still out cold when they were wheeled out, but Max was thrashing around like an injured animal trying to get away from a predator. A nurse and I tried to hold him still and calm him down, but Max was very strong and very upset and it was no use. He was bleeding from his nose, the IV tube kept getting tangled up, and we kept losing the oxygen tube, too. It wasn't a pretty sight. Finally they gave him more pain killer and a sedative by IV. Even then, he didn't really calm down until I climbed up on the bed myself and clamped Max down on top of me with his head on my chest. There he slept for 1 1/2 hours, and then another hour next to me. Finally the nurse made me wake him. Max was groggy but didn't seem to be in much pain. He ate a Popsicle by himself, got his IV out, and submitted to being dressed so we could take him home.

Max threw up in the car on the way home, and when we got here he headed straight for the couch, where he slept for the rest of the afternoon and evening. He woke up around 8 p.m. and ate three Popsicles and a jar of chilled pureed blueberries. (He asked for a fourth Popsicle but Bengt and I thought he'd had enough!) He played with his cars for awhile, but moving around seemed to make him feel ill and he said he wanted to go to bed. He walked up the stairs and threw up, then went to bed and slept through the night. Since then he's slept more than usual and is a little hoarse but seems fine otherwise.

In spite of the swelling which I imagine he has in his throat, Max is clearly breathing easier than he has in a long time. Even that first night he was breathing quietly, and he hasn't snored at all or woken up at night since the operation. So I think it's safe to say the operation was a success. What a relief! I think we'll all be getting more sleep from now on.

I don't know if Max remembers what a wreck he was right after the operation. He hasn't mentioned the ordeal since we got home, and neither have we, except to ask if he has any pain (which he says he doesn't) and remind him that he's supposed to take it easy for a few days. We won't let him jump on the bed or run around like a maniac until next week, because they said it's possible the wound could open up again.

I went back to work on Wednesday, only to be met by the news that ReadSoft is laying off another 25 people in Sweden. It was a terrible surprise to all of us—even those of us who aren't in any immediate danger of losing our jobs. We had a big meeting a 10 a.m., after which I burst into tears in front of the boss—argh, how embarrassing and unprofessional! It really sucked, and the atmosphere at work was tense and sad. No one felt like working.

So today I'm taking a mental health day. I've been feeling like I'm coming down with a cold for about 10 days now, anyway, and I slept poorly last night because of Bengt's snoring. (Maybe he should have the same operation!) Max and I went out exploring for a couple of hours this morning, and now I'm getting caught up on some stuff while he rests. Bengt is puttering.

Recently Max suddenly started to sing the ABC song in English. It startled me because I'd never sung it to him. I asked him where he learned it and he pointed to the computer. Then I remembered that one of his toddler computer games includes the alphabet song. Wow!

The PC game has also taught Max to count. I taught him to count three or four items, but suddenly he started counting up to 8 or 9 in English, though I never got that far with him. I think he really enjoys surprising us with things he's learned. He likes to remind us that he's a big boy now, and I really am amazed at the things a two-year-old can learn to do and the way he soaks up knowledge like a sponge. He certainly is mature—for someone who still poops his pants!!

We're enjoying beautiful fall weather—cold and clear.

We hope all is well with our friends and family!




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