at the Pålssons'
June 22, 2003
Hello! Here's a picture of me and Max working in the flowerbed along the driveway last weekend. (Notice how Max has mobilized several construction vehicles to assist us...)
And the one below is from our new project, the kitchen. A few of those old pine green tiles from the 70's fell off the wall recently. One broke, so we couldn't just glue them back on. We decided to go ahead and replace them. Bengt (with a tiny bit of help from Max) has cleaned off the wall, and we're trying to agree on tile. What I want is soft white marble. I saw some in the store today and it's beautiful. It's also about four times more expensive than other tile, but we're only doing 2 sq. meters, so what the heck!
Max and I went to the beach today. He didn’t seem to be in top form before we left, but when I suggested that we go some other time, he insisted that he was fine. So first we went on the waterslide, but after a half hour Max said he’d had enough. (Huh?!?!) We went aside to rest and warm up, but Max kept shivering. I bought him a hot dog, but he barely finished it, much less ask for a second one (as he usually does). That set my warning bells off, and I dragged him to the car. By the time we got home, he had chills and was clearly miserable. I gave him some Tylenol and he crawled right into bed. I wish I had trusted my instincts this noon and not taken him to the beach!
So he's sick as a dog. He's been sleeping pretty much all afternoon and evening, flushed, his breathing fast and shallow. This doesn't prevent him from waking up to pee, drink water (thank heavens), and ask questions and make observations such as:
Nothing can make this kid stop talking—he even talks in his sleep. I often hear him ask, "Why? Why?" in his sleep.
We’re revving up for summer activities now. This Wed-Sat Nancy’s parents will be in Stockholm. I will see them Friday, and Saturday they’ll come here for lunch. Sunday is Max’s 3½-year birthday party. The following Tuesday some friends from California will be with us for five days. They have a daughter exactly Max’s age, so I think we’ll all have fun. The day after they leave, Bengt and Max fly down to Skåne and I get my annual week of R&R and project-catch-up frenzy. (This year my concentration will be on scrapbooking, which I've been longing to get caught up on.) Then I fly down and it’s Bengt’s turn to be home alone. Then for two more weeks Bengt and I will work approximately every other day (alternate days) because Max’s daycare is closed. (Birgitta takes off four weeks every summer.) I look forward to doing some fun stuff with Max. Too bad we can’t be together more, all three of us. (Well, I suppose we could, but we prioritize each getting a week home alone.)
Work is very interesting just now. My tech-writer partner and I have a new project to work on. It’s pretty challenging and interesting to create product documentation for new software from scratch. And it’s a great opportunity to correct all the mistakes we’ve made in last projects!
We hope all of our friends and relatives are having a great summer so far!
By the way, Bengt has moved and updated the picture site.
Call us terrible parents, but Bengt and I think this picture his hilarious! Max and I went to Skansen on Sunday. We had a blast looking at animals and birds and other people. He got to ride various bumper cars and merry-go-rounds... and then there was this fiasko. He was very frightened because he thought he was actually steering this car (like he had controlled the bumper cars), but there were no brakes and he was afraid he'd drive off the "road"! He was gripping the steering wheel hard and crying for help. Poor little guy! Obviously I should have explained it before he got on.
This week is my week on the "late shift", meaning it's Bengt's turn to get up at 5:30 a.m. I get to sleep longer, but then I have to work later and don't have that afternoon time with Max. This morning we had such a lovely time together, though. What a wonderful boy he is.
And today Max reached another milestone: On our way to the bathroom this morning for "number two", I reminded him of my promise to buy him the toy weed whacker he coveted (with obnoxious sounds and flashing lights) if he pooped in the regular toilet (rather than the little potty).
Max: Okay, then I'll do that. [climbs up and assumes pooping position]
I'm a little scared.
He didn't waste any time demanding payment, did he? :-) But it doesn't matter. We are so pleased with our big boy. He hasn't used diapers in weeks now (even at night).
Of course he had to call Papa at work and tell him the news. And he wanted to call Sven & Anna-Brita, but I thought it was too early.
I mentioned before that my friend Gunilla told me about a book she has with pictures of the 100 most common birds in Sweden, with a CD so you can listen to each bird. We borrowed that from her recently. Now at Max's initiative, almost every day we look in the bird book, read about where various birds live and what they eat and what kind of odd behavior they exhibit (like the one that eats by flying with its mouth open to catch flying beetles!), and listen to their calls. He has a serious interest in birds! Huh, what a surprise! A future ornitholigist??
Here's Max playing with the police helicopter that he got from the Nichols. This is the one that motivated Max to say the longest sentence I ever heard him utter in English: Lin called a few days before I left for Michigan, because she was planning a garage sale and wondered what she should put aside for Max. When Max got on the line, Aunt Lin told him about this helicopter, which has flashing lights and an exciting variety of loud sounds. She played some of the sounds for him over the phone, and Max got pretty excited. I suggested what he could say, and normally he can't get more than a couple of English words out, because they get translated in his head automatically, but this time he stuttered out to Lin: I would like to have that!
Max loves this helicopter and ambulance, as well as all of the other things he got from Grandma, Grandpa, Ben, Elliot, Lin & Mark. I've been rationing the presents, and today I gave him the bag of little cars and cool Duplo parts from Marlin. He loved them!
Then I gave him the box of rubber insects from Grandma. At first he was a little afraid of them, since they look so real. I have to admit I enjoyed scaring him with the spiders a couple of times. Couldn't resist! Then we came and showed them to Pappa, who promptly threw them on the floor and stomped on them. :-) We had a good laugh. Anyway, Duplo and insects are both favorites, not too far after vehicles. A big thank you all of you who sent along presents for Max!!
Speaking of presents, who gave Max that blue crane from the Bob the Builder series? It was a Christmas present, but I can't remember who it was from. (Donna & gang?) He wasn't interested for the longest time—until he started watching Bob the Builder tapes recently and realized that he himself is the proud owner of the crane from that show.
This next picture shows Max and his friend Nils eating dinner at our house last weekend. They fight a fair amount but seem very fond of each other anyway and can be surprisingly kind to each other. Max asks for Nils constantly on weekends. Last weekend they spent much of the weekend together. Max wants Nils to sleep over—haven't tried that yet.
Max has been dry every night and diaper-free all week! Wow, it's true what they say: Let it go long enough and they'll potty train themselves.
Yesterday I cut Max's hair with the Flowbee that I bought in the U.S. It worked great! It's a little too loud for us, but it's tolerable and we'll save a lot of time and money. I'm glad I got it.
Max continues to talk positively non-stop. The other day I picked him up early from Birgitta to take him to the doctor (a little eye infection - nothing serious). He talked and asked questions without a break all afternoon, from 2:45 on. It was so extreme that people in the waiting room at the clinic laughed and rolled their eyes. Then Max marched into the doctor's office like he owned the place. He reached out for her stethoscope and asked what it was for, explored her office, etc. When she pulled the paper down over the examination table, he asked why she was doing that. She asked him why he was visiting her (good for her!), and Max told her about his red eye, and showed her. She looked at it and asked whether he preferred eyedrops or salve, and he said eyedrops, so she wrote a prescription for the drops and gave it to him. The doctor commented that he certainly is an alert little boy, and a "prize specimen" (praktexemplar)! And when we were leaving, Max glanced back as she picked up her dictaphone, so he doubled back and asked who she was calling!
On and on it went—at the pharmacy as well. I am soooo proud of him for his self-confidence and competence, but he never lets up! He has to be involved in everything, and nothing escapes his attention! I look at other toddlers who ride contentedly in their strollers, just observing the world, when their parents take them out, and I have to laugh. We haven't used our stroller in about a year—and even then he usually didn't sit in it when we took it along.
He can really wear me out.
Max is still substituting "t" and "d" for "k" and "g". I got some tips from Lin on how to teach him to say k/g, and they worked! He still says "k-k-k-tat" (trying to say "cat"), but we'll get to that...
The other day I asked Max if he would like to take piano lessons, and explained how it would work. He said yes and acted very interested. Today I asked again, just to see if I'd get the same response, and he was still interested. So I guess I'm now looking for a Suzuki piano teacher.
Cute thing Max said shortly before my trip to the U.S.:
Max: Mama, you're the best mama...and Pappa's the best
I returned from the US yesterday after almost two weeks. (I had a conference in Dallas and then took a week in Michigan.) I really missed Max and Bengt while I was gone. They were very glad to see me, too. But I had a great time. Did a lot of shopping—including a digital camera, finally. It was good to see my family and some friends, at least briefly.
Much has happened with Max these last couple of weeks. Bengt kept a diary while I was gone, so I'd know what went on. Isn't that great?! I really appreciated that. You can read it (below), if you're interested.
Last night Max initially insisted on wearing underwear to bed instead of a diaper. I was willing to let him try but put rubberized fabric under the fitted sheet just in case. At the last minute he worried that he might pee in his sleep and switched to a diaper. But this morning the diaper was dry! He was so proud, and so was I. It looks like he'll soon be out of diapers for good.
There is lots of yard work at home now, but I find myself enjoying it more than I ever imagined. Even weeding is rewarding. We have done a lot with our property, and there is still so much more we could do. It looks like we'll have a lot of strawberries and blueberries this year. Our apple tree isn't doing so well, though. I think I pruned it too late.
While Mom was away...
Max had no problem with leaving you at the airport. He kept asking for a short while when you’d be back and then switched over to asking when Farmor and Farfar was coming (about once every 10 minutes). When they arrived we were outside and he was acting a bit shy, hiding behind me etc. I think he was just so exited to see them that he didn’t know what to do. Of course he got a big present (a crane, bulldozer construction set) and of course Mom and Dad told him that they had another present for him. But I got them to hold off on that one until the next day.
He soon had them both in shifts in his playroom building garages and generally dictating how things should be. Talking non-stop!
We ate dinner (mom had brought a casserole) and Max was very well behaved. Bedtime was normal, he woke up once during the night and I went in there to sleep with him.
Normal wake up (7’ish) and breakfast routine. Dad played hide and seek with Max for a while then I took him to Birgitta’s. Mom will pick him up this afternoon.
We worked some in the yard with Max running around and getting into things and getting dirty. Mom and Dad had done some small work outside in the back during the day. Max had gotten his second present from Mom and Dad another truck-like object. Night time was smooth and he fell asleep very tired after a book and some välling.
Max woke up around 7 a.m. in a good mood. Laid in bed with Mom and Dad for a while with Dad telling him stories. Played hide and seek again and innebandy [floor hockey] with Dad. Managed to shoot the ball into Maja’s water dish. Came home late so we ate dinner and then played for a while and put Max to bed. Dad had gone into town for short while by himself. I’ve been crossing off the days you’ve been gone on the calendar that you made so that Max can count down the days until you return. Took some stuff from the garage to the recycling center down by Hamarahims with Dad. Max has been really good about wearing underwear and telling when he has to pee. Still no poop on the potty though.
Woke up around 7 again. Max has woken up every single night so far wondering where I am. So I have gone into his room to sleep until we wake up in the morning. I went in early to work so Mom took Max to Öppna förskolan. Tua came home with Max and Mom said they were jumping on the beds and having a blast (as usual). Took some stuff from the garage and the yard to the dump. Max and Dad came along.
Usual wake up routine. Max and Dad spend some time in the morning reading "Curious George" together. Mom and Dad are going to town today so I’ll pick up Max from Birgitta’s. Had a tired boy all afternoon, he was ready to go to sleep at 4 p.m. but I managed to rouse his interest in playing with cars so it was OK. Mom and Dad had a good time at the art show at Waldemarsudde and met the artist there as well (he’s from Perstorp originally). After we ate it was the same thing but then Dad took over and played innebandy with him for a while downstairs. At bedtime Max was out in seconds flat. Max has been asking for you again a few times, especially when he’s very tired and whiny.
Woke up around 7:30 and Max had välling in bed with Mom and Dad. Max did a good attempt at pooping on the small potty this morning. And he went off to Birgitta’s wearing underwear again. He’s progressing very nicely in that area and is getting very good at peeing on the potty, not by himself yet but that’s not far away.
This evening Max pooped on the small potty by himself! He was clearly proud, and it of course activated the "present clause." He’ll get to pick out a present for himself soon. The ReadSoft party was on today but I had made other plans to go to see a band with Johan and Anders, so I just went out for a few hours while Mom stayed with Max. Dad was off on his class reunion earlier in the day.
Mom, Max and I went shipping for plants at Bergianska down by Ulriksdal. We bought about two dozen plants that Mom planted when we got home. We also went and got some groceries, and Max got to pick out a toy truck at ICA. I feel like I’m coming down with something, don’t really feel like having company but it’ll be alright. Mom and I spent the rest of the afternoon prepping for dinner. Grilled salmon, potatoes, sallad, and fruit salad + ice cream for dessert.
After waiting for an hour for Kenneth & company to arrive he calls and says that Ara had gotten into so much pain after having a tooth extracted earlier in the week that they wouldn’t come. So it was the three of us plus Max and a load of food (prob still be some leftovers when you get home). Luckily I hadn’t grilled all the salmon, so I froze some of the already marinated fish. After Max went to bed I watched the Eurovision song contest. Turkey won, Sweden came in 5th.
I felt slightly better today, Mom and Dad left around 8 and Max and I spent most of the day outside over at the playground and then over at Nils’ house. Mom and Dad had arrived safely in Perstorp around 3:15. By the end of the day I was pretty wiped out.
Stayed home and slept most of the day except for during a violent thunderstorm. Power went out a few times, and I was getting drenched running outside saving some of the plants in pots from being washed away. Need to clean out the drains as well, I noticed.
Stayed home again and rested some more, haven’t slept well during the night either for the past several days. After I picked up Max we went to the playground on his new bike (which I adjusted). He rode around with another boy the same age as him and he’s already pretty good at it, except he forgets to look where he’s going all the time.
Back to work.. Birgitta’s mother-in-law (I think it was) had taken ill so Max got to stay with Ami today. Which he totally refused when I first told him. But once he got used to the idea and once we got there, Nils arrived at the same time, it was fine and I left him there with no problem.
Spent the day at home, doing some work outside. Went to the playground and for a longer walk. While I was on the roof cleaning out the gutters, Max played with his cars down below, occasionally saying "Pappa, come down from there, it’s dangerous". Watered all the new plants outside.
Max was at Kersti’s today which went without problems. We came home and ate and then went to the playground where he met a "friend", a kid his age that he played with for a long time (and very well).
I'm starting to gear up for my travels. I'm really looking forward to the STC Conference in Dallas. I got really excited when I saw all the interesting technical sessions there are to choose from. And then spending a week in Michigan, that will be great.
We had gorgeous weather this past week and weekend. Got a lot done in the yard. Among other things, I planted 50 flowering plants that I bought from the nursery. Unfortunately, I also did something to my back. It was so sore yesterday that one time I literally couldn't get out of bed without Bengt's assistance. Today it's a bit better.
Max and his little friends have been imitating the older kids at daycare, wanting to go home with each other at the end of the day. Bengt and I don't mind having other kids over. It's fun getting to know the other kids better and seeing them interact. And taking care of other people's kids doesn't make me feel incompetent like it used to sometimes. This evening Nils stayed over for dinner, and the two boys had such a blast. I don't know how they managed to finish their food, because they were laughing heartily throughout the entire meal.
Food... When Max tries a new food, his first reaction is to say he likes it. Then you can sometimes tell by the look on his face that he didn't really care for it, but he rarely says he doesn't like it. Instead, he revises his statement from I like it! to I like it a little bit. If it's pretty bad, he'll say I like it just a little tiny bit."
"BLAH!" is reserved for pineapple, mustard, and a certain medicine that he detests (adult Nyquil, which we let him taste once).
He'll also almost always try food again even when he's tasted it before and knows he only liked it "a little bit." I get the impression that tasting unfamiliar things is rather exciting to him. It's not unpleasant when something doesn't strike his fancy—just interesting. We've always let him spit out things he's tasted, if he doesn't like them. He has, of course, also tasted moss, dirt, cat food, and so on. (He threw up the moss.)
I want to write this down before I forget: About a month ago I was waiting for Max to fall asleep so I could sneak out and watch TV. We were facing each other in bed and had been chatting in the dark. Normally he talks constantly, so when he had been quiet for a few minutes and was breathing regularly, I thought he'd drifted off. Suddenly he reached out and squeezed my nose twice. Nyp nyp! he said. (Nyp means pinch, but it's funny in the same way it would be if an American kid said, Beep beep!) I just cracked up. That's exactly the type of thing Bengt might do! (Maybe you had to be there?)
Timeout has worked great for us. Max doesn't seem to have any objection to it. He stays put and calms down. Two minutes seems just right. He needed two timeouts this past weekend, just like the weekend before.
Max has always been interested in birds, but Bengt and I are pitifully ignorant of the names of the different birds and what they sound like, so we haven't been able to teach Max what he wants to know. This weekend my friend Gunilla told me about a book she has with pictures of the 100 most common birds in Sweden. It comes with a CD so you can listen to each bird. I told Max about that book and that we want to get it for him, and he got all excited, just like if I'd told him we were buying him a bulldozer or something. It was neat to see.
Then I checked at the bookstore and it costs about $120, for heaven's sake! I think we will borrow Gunilla's copy and see how interested Max really is, and then possibly try to get it used.
I bought a Flowbee! Yes, the one you know from infomercials. Max's haircuts cost about $20 a shot, so the thing will pay for itself pretty quickly if it results in a decent cut. (Max may wear used clothing much of the time and have many used toys, but I insist that he have a respectable haircut.) And if it works on Max, maybe Bengt will use it, too! ;-) I showed the Flowbee to Max on the website. He thinks it's neat and looks forward to trying it. I know he'll cooperate. (I'll pick it up from Lin in two weeks.)
I was up at 5 a.m., so I have to get some sleep now. I hope all of our friends and family are well!
Hi! I want to be brief because I don't have much time. (What else is new?) Marlin is here for a 6-day visit. It is good to see him, and he has helped us out a lot with the yard work! Max enjoys him, too, but he has been a pistol lately. (He was a pistol last time Marlin was here, too. Marlin probably thinks he's a terrorist in the making.)
Bengt and Max also caught my bug, but they got over it fairly quickly. I had it the worst and still cough every morning.
Bengt recently started a temporary job at ReadSoft, where I work. It will last until about September. He is programming, which he hasn't done in years. The pay isn't good, but it's better than unemployment compensation and it's more stimulating. Bengt says he's happy to hang out and converse with adults on topics that concerns IT related things, not just Max's daily topics of cars, toys, presents, death, farting and playmates.
As I mentioned, Max has been a pistol lately. He tries to insist on doing whatever he wants, and he blatantly disobeys us. Yesterday he got his first timeout ever, for spitting in my face—twice! This afternoon he got another timeout, this time for hitting me repeatedly. This timeout thing is a good deal. I was getting so angry with him and yelling. Timeout puts a stop to bad behavior before I hit the roof. So far he has behaved perfectly after his timeout. It's almost like he was asking for it.
Max's big thing lately is death. He is very concerned about it and asks questions constantly. I told him that people who die leave their bodies behind, which freaked him out the first time he heard it. He got so upset that he cried and almost threw up. "Oh no! I don't want to be a ghost!!!! What should I do?"
He asks what he and Bengt would do if I died, and I say he and Papa would be sad, but would have each other and take care of each other. He asked if I'd be sad if he (Max) died, and I said yes. Why would I be sad? Because I like to be with my little guy every day and I wouldn't be able to do that if he died. (Wrong answer??) That got him very upset, too—the thought of me being sad and missing him.
He wants to know where people go when they die, and as we haven't been following the traditional Christian line, I say that no one knows for sure, but *I* believe... (good stuff). That's too complicated for a three-year-old, so I try to keep it as simple and honest as I can. But he wants a reassuring pat answer and I don't have one for him. He clings to me in the rocking chair and then has bad dreams.
Next time we get into it, I'm going to follow Bobbie's suggestion. I thought this was so good. She wrote:
I think he might be able to grasp most of this.
Here's the other big strain lately: Max feels positively compelled to tell me whenever he farts, burps or pees. He farts quite a lot (all those fruits and vegetables, I guess), so I hear this constantly—sometimes several times a minute for an hour or so at a time. Initially I simply asked him to stop telling me. When that didn't work, I asked why he tells me. He says he needs me to know. He can't explain it any better than that, and he can't be talked out of it. He can't stop telling me, even if it irritates me and even if Papa commands him to stop. (It's annoying to all of the rest of us.) We haven't punished him for it, because I don't think it's voluntary behavior in the usual sense.
Then this afternoon he started telling me every time he swallowed! I think I managed to nip that in the bud immediately, simply by being aghast that he would bother telling me such a thing.
I remember telling my own mother every time I peed and her telling me repeatedly that I didn't need to. I remember that I understood the logic in what she said, but I still needed her to know, for some reason. But what Max is doing seems more extreme.
Any ideas on what all this is about?!? I'm really starting to wonder whether this stuff is part of a normal childhood phase, or a symptom of a mental disorder. I read about childhood OCD on the Internet but it didn't seem like a good match. I don't know what else to look for.
Bengt and I have an appointment with Birgitta (Max's caregiver) tomorrow evening, to discuss all this stuff that's going on with him. Marlin will stay here with Max.
Other stuff is going on, as well. For instance, yesterday was his first full day wearing underwear instead of a diaper. He only asked for a diaper when he had to poop. Same thing today. No accidents.
At the same time, there are a lot of things about Max that I'm very pleased about. He talks and ask questions and tells you stuff and sings positively NON-STOP, which drives us insane but seems positive in some ways. He thrives on social interaction and makes friends everywhere he goes. (Shades of Marlin there!) He knows a lot about feelings and how to handle them (his and other people's). I love to watch him with other people, and it's fun helping him learn skills that he's clearly interested in acquiring. He's open and confident, with a good sense of humor, and won't let other kids (even bigger ones) push him around or talk him into anything. I actually know of adults who don't have the social skills that Max has. I can't imagine him not being happy & successful in life.
Here's something funny that Max said the other day. Marlin and I had worked hard in the yard on Friday while Bengt worked, and Marlin managed to dig up an old concrete flagpole base that Bengt had been working on. I expressed me surprise and appreciation to Marlin, and at the dinner table that night Max repeated this to Bengt: Papa, Grandpa got that flagpole out that you worked on for three weeks! I burst out laughing, while Bengt asked dryly, Max, do you know how long three weeks is? [Max held up four fingers.] Do you know how long five minutes is? [Max held up two fingers.] It was hysterical! (Actually, Max knows his numbers fairly well, but it's true he has only very tenuous ideas about time.)
Speaking of working in the yard, Max is wild about earthworms. Our topsoil is just crawling with them, and Max shrieks with joy every time he finds one—even if it's the hundredth one. He says they're cute and makes little nests for them in the soil or grass and gives them baths with the garden sprayer.
Max loves small cute things, he says. Worms, ladybugs, snails, small animals, flowers, Maja, and so on.
I have to go to bed now, but Bengt has updated the site with pictures. See http://max.palssons.com.