What's New at the Pålssons'


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

June 27, 2007

Yesterday the R&D Department at ReadSoft had a really good party. It started out with a tipsrunda (a combined open-air walking and quiz competition). The destination was our boss's house here in Sollentuna. The house is right on a lake and the weather was beautiful. We sat around having snacks and beverages and playing games for awhile, then boarded a large boat which took us on a four-hour cruise in the archipelago. On board we were served an exceptionally tasty dinner. It was really a good party. Here's me enjoying it.

Good thing we didn't have the party today, because the weather deteriorated and it rained all day today. Poor Max looked like a drowned hamster when I picked him up from track & field day camp this afternoon. I laughed out loud when I saw him. He had a raincoat on, but he had forgotten to button it (doh!) until his shirt was completely soaked underneath. He was wearing nylon all-weather pants, but those had leaked and he hadn't bothered to change into the shorts and rubber rain pants that he had in his backpack. His shoes were so soaked that they shirted water with every step he took. (I guess that couldn't be helped. You can't go do track & field in rubber boots.) I think we will have a little talk about using common sense.

His group leader said lots of kids had called their parents to come pick them up, but not Max. He was a patient little trooper.

We had a good Midsummer's Eve last week. We didn't celebrate at all the last couple of years, but this year we were invited to a big outdoor party by some Americans who live out in the country close to Vallentuna. Bengt wasn't feeling up to it, but Max and I had a blast. We didn't get home until after 11 p.m. I think that's the latest Max has ever been out. And we won't be doing that too often in the future -- boy was he whiny and restless the next day. "Please take a nap!" I begged. But no.

I'm still having trouble with the finger I sliced into awhile back. Only just today was I able to go without a bandage. The scab seems stable and thick enough, but it still hurts underneath when I type (among other things). However it is getting better, slowly but surely.

Max's birthday party is coming up on Saturday. Bengt booked a magician. No idea whether he's good or not, but it'll be interesting! Only two of the 18 friends Max invited have said they can't come. Yikes! It's going to be crazy. Still, we're all looking forward to it.

Sunday, June 17

Bengt played with his band (The Push) last weekend. Apparently it went well, and he says he enjoyed it. The weather cooperated, too.

On Friday I went to a laser clinic in Stockholm to have a burst blood vessel on my face treated with a couple of laser pulses. Max has had a similar burst blood vessel on his cheek since he was about a year old, and I wanted him to see how it can be treated so he can decide for himself whether he wants to undergo the procedure. It wasn't bad at all, but he chose not to do it yet.

Max made motor sounds all the way home. Brrrrrm, brrrrrrrrrrm! What a weird kid.

I basically sliced off the tip of my right index finger yesterday while wrestling with a stubborn picture frame that didn't want to let go of its picture. I can just barely type, with a soft touch, wearing a stiff bandage. I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow.

Bengt and I are busy planning Max's 7 1/2-year birthday party. Max has a lot of friends to invite. But we scheduled it for June 30, and I think many families will have already left for vacation.

Friday, June 8 – allergies

By now Bengt is, of course, completely recovered from his throat surgery, and he has completely stopped snoring. Even when he's had a few beers he doesn't snore a bit, as far as I've noticed. What a relief to both of us!

Despite penicillin, Max's stuffy nose didn't go away. I called the clinic and they said to try antihistamines, which are now finally available over the counter here in Sweden. So I gave him some, and his stuffy nose cleared up. So apparently he is allergic to something, though his only symptom is the plugged-up nose.

Now we're to wait until fall before going in for tests to see what he's reacting to. They said they don't do allergy tests when the air is full of allergens.

Wednesday night I came down with a terrible cold (I thought). But in addition to the usual cold symptoms, my lips felt strangely chapped and my eyes were watery and stinging. It was bad. I've never had any allergies, but I tried the antihistamines, too. Cleared right up! (Well, I'm not symptom free, but relatively comfortable and able to function.) So now there are two of us that will be having allergy tests in the fall.

I heard there was an incredible explosion of grass pollen the last few days, so I guess I'm allergic to grass. Terrific. I don't know about Max. He'd had that plugged-up nose literally for months.

On Monday Max was in a play at school. It went pretty well. I think he missed a line once but was successfully prompted. The main character had to be prompted constantly. He had way too many lines, though, if you ask me. 

On Tuesday Max played in a piano recital. I was happy with the way he voluntarily put in extra practice time before the recital. Knowing the piece well seemed to calm him. (Yep, that'll make you feel more confident!) He was a bit nervous, because it was in a real auditorium with a sizeable audience of friendly parents and relatives. But it went well, and he was pleased afterwards.

One teenage girl started her piece three times and then left the stage in distress, saying she couldn't play it. It was very strange, because I thought she started out great. The audience applauded her as she left the stage, despite the fact that she hadn't gotten more than 15 or 20 bars into her piece. I keep thinking about how upset she must have been with herself afterwards. Hope the experience didn't scar her.

Wednesday was a holiday here (Sweden's national holiday, like the Fourth of July), and we had people over for dinner. Bengt grilled some scallops, salmon, and chicken. I bought some crab cakes with little Swedish flags in them for an appetizer. Some guests brought ice cream and strawberries for dessert. It was all delicious. A fun afternoon/evening.

That was a hot day – the first really hot summer day we've had this year. Earlier in the day, Max got to go to Gröna Lund amusement park with some friends. The kids seemed to do fine, but the parents were pretty ragged afterwards. :-) I would not take kids to an amusement park on a hot national holiday. (I don't think they will again, either.)

Thursday it was back to work & school, and man I couldn't get it through my head that it wasn't Monday! And today feels like Tuesday! I guess tomorrow when I don't go to work, it'll finally sink in that it's Saturday.

Last week Max and I finally finished up our four Calvin and Hobbes collections (two of which were borrowed). We were only reading a few strips every other night, but now I kind of miss it. We'd been doing it for months. I think when we go to the US this summer we'll get a FoxTrot collection and see if we like that. Our friends Becki and Aaron recommended that strip. 

A bookstore in Stockholm had Star Trek DS9 DVDs on sale, so Bengt surprised me with the first season box a few weeks ago. Max and I started watching it, and we are enjoying watching an episode together every other evening or so. For Mother's Day the two of them gave me the second season. By the time Max and I have watched that, it'll be my birthday so maybe I'll get the third season then....

We really like the theme song that plays right after the opening scene in all of the series. But the DS9 one is best, Max and I agree.

Max surprised me the other night by quickly naming all the main characters in all of the Star Trek series. I thought it would all be a jumble to him, but he knows them all and which series they belong in. He enjoys playing with his Star Trek toys here, too. His friend Kristina told me on Wednesday that she wants a Star Trek tricorder like Max's. :-)

Bengt is in Perstorp again this weekend. The band is performing tomorrow night. Good luck, Bengt and The Push!

Sunday, May 13 – strep

Max had a very stuffy nose for at least two months. He finally asked to be taken to the doctor. (You know it's bad then!) I put it off a few days because he didn't have any other symptoms. But I finally took him in on Thursday. They did a nasal culture and found he had a bad strep infection in there. He has probably been passing this to kids at school without getting sick himself. Doh! We started him on antibiotics immediately.

When the doctor saw Max's impenetrable plug of snot, she also recommended nasal irrigation. So I bought saline solution and dug out the neti pot that Anders gave me a few years ago. I know nasal irrigation works really well – why didn't I think of it myself? We're too used to taking pills for everything!

Max has been irrigating his nasal passages twice a day, at his own initiative. He pours the water into one nostril and it comes out the other or he spits it out as it starts down his throat. Then he blows his nose. He says it really clears out the gunk, and he quickly got used to the feeling of salt water in his nose.

I feel really lucky that Max is a kid who does stuff like this willingly. He takes his horse pills without complaint, too, and tolerated the swab that the nurse stuck up his nose without a fuss. What an easy kid (at least in this respect).

I should have asked the doctor about antibiotics for me and Bengt, too. Because yesterday I came down with a bad sore throat and fever. I was going to wait until Monday and call the clinic, but I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning with terrible burning throat pain. So I started on some antibiotics (the same kind Max is taking) that I had left over from a few years ago, when I had to switch antibiotic in the middle of a course. I know you're not supposed to start up without consulting a doctor, but I wasn't waiting until Monday for it when I'm pretty darn sure I have strep!

Bengt doesn't seem to have gotten the strep (yet), but I'm going to talk to the doctor about it tomorrow. He is in some pain, though. He seemed ok the first few days after his operation, but then the pain increased despite the pain meds. That lasted for a few days. Now he has stopped taking the pain meds out of consideration for his liver. So his throat hurts but he's up and about (more or less). He says he's going to try going to work tomorrow. Hmm. I think it seems too early.

Max woke me up the other morning at 3:30 a.m. and asked me to help him change his guitar string. What the - ???

"Max, you're dreaming. Go pee," I said.

"Oh yeah, I have to pee, too." He went off to the bathroom. I had a devil of a time getting back to sleep.

We gave Max a new skateboard today. (Anything to encourage him to be outside rather than indoors in front of his computer or Playstation.) He was overjoyed. He and a neighbor kid have been outside a lot, practicing skateboard tricks. Max has been using an adult-sized board that I picked up at a flea market. This one is much nicer. It was meant to be a birthday present (his 7 1/2-year birthday is coming up, and we celebrate his half-year birthday instead of his real one, which is December 30). But as Bengt pointed out, Max wouldn't have much time to use it before we leave for the U.S.

Saturday, May 5 – Bengt's tonsils are history

Bengt had his tonsils removed on Thursday and is doing really well. He was woozy and pale when I picked him up (just hours after the operation), but he has been able to eat soft foods and drink enough liquids. I've been making milkshakes and smoothies for him (and for Max and myself).

He says he's not in pain, and I'm sure that's thanks to the heavy-duty medication he's on. He follows the hospital's pain relief instructions religiously. That's probably smart. I think that if you let the pain of something like that get to you, then you're sensitized to it and it's more difficult to keep it under control. (I don't know where I got that idea, but that's what I think.)

I got my tonsils out when I was three years old, and I remember a lot more pain than Bengt is feeling.

Anyway, he's been dozing most of the time but is perfectly willing and able to get up and watch TV, read, fix himself a little meal, etc. Here I thought I was going to be taking care of an invalid for a couple of weeks....

Max and I looked down his throat, and it looks awful. It makes me feel weak and lightheaded just looking at it. The surgeon not only removed his tonsils, but also made incisions on each side of his uvula, folded the skin back and sewed it up onto his throat. (That's how Bengt described it, anyway.) Aaaaaaaaaagggghhhh! All in an effort to make his throat wider to reduce his snoring and apnea. I sure hope it works!!

Here's a picture of Max, taken on the balcony today. Max has been healthy and agreeable lately. He has thinned out a little bit, and a couple of his permanent teeth are finally growing in. He lost the corresponding baby teeth months ago.

His school has given him a reading assignment, where he's supposed to read out loud every day for around 15 minutes. It's no problem—he reads well in both English and Swedish—and he does it with very little grumbling. (He'd still prefer we read to him.) A few weeks ago his English teacher called us up and told us that Max is a pleasure to have in her English class. He participates fully (despite being the youngest) and his English is very good. What a pleasure to have a teacher call and tell you that about your kid.

Max is making jokes and playing little tricks on us, too. And asking interesting theoretical questions. And becoming more aware of himself and how he "works." (Like today when he was butchering a piano piece, he stopped and said, "Ok, I'm gonna start over. I wasn't concentrating.") I can see his little mind at work every waking moment. All of a sudden it seems like he's growing up quick!

On the other hand, last night he woke up crying and came to sleep in our bed (a rare occurrence). I guess we still have our little boy. :-)

Have a good weekend!

April 18

We hope everyone had a good Easter. We just took it easy after having been sick.

This past weekend we had beautiful weather, almost like summer. I spent a couple of hours outside reading a book. Bengt was a good boy and did yard work.

On Monday Max was an extra in a commercial that was recorded in a fake grocery store set up in a warehouse. I was recruited on the spot, since they needed more cashiers than they thought. There were three other kids there, and Max had a blast. The best part was doing something different and making new friends, according to Max. Recording the commercial was also pretty fun, but not the best part. We each got paid, too.

When this was arranged by phone, I was told that there would be two adults there to take care of the kids and that Max would be fine by himself. For Max's sake I stayed with him for an hour, until he seemed to feel comfortable with the people and the situation (which was kind of hard to judge, because we were being completely ignored and nothing was happening). There was another mom there who said she would keep an eye on Max, just in case. So I left to go to work.

But I only got halfway to the office when Max called me from his cell phone. He was worried and crying, and he begged me to come back. So I did, and therefore I missed a whole day of work. But I was glad I did, because the day was chaotic.

They didn't start filming until 11:30 (we'd been there since 8:30), and they broke for lunch without telling us where and when the catered lunch would show up.

There was no one to look after the kids. On the contrary, the woman in charge of the extras told us moms to watch the kids – that's why we were there. (???)

There was a large balcony-type area where the kids were running around, and it wasn't until I checked the area that I noticed that an approximately 6-foot-long section of the railing was missing. The kids could have literally run out into thin air and fallen about 12 feet to a concrete floor.

Needless to say, we won't be working with that company again!

Someone mentioned Amy Diamond recently. Max stopped listening to her, as well as Darin, ages go. Even Lordi is on the way out. Max's current music interests:

He is still playing piano and still practicing almost every day, though only for 5 or 10 minutes per day.

And we are still working through the two Calvin & Hobbes collections that we borrowed.

Max's latest off-the-wall speculation: "Mom, wouldn't it be weird if the world were made out of pizza boxes? Everything would be brown, and if you put too much weight on anything, it would break...."

I realized yesterday that I'm actually pretty worn out. I need a break from the daily grind and am really looking forward to vacation this summer. We didn't take our usual spring break, and I'm feeling the effects now. I hope we have a nice, long summer.

Bengt has purchased a bass guitar. His old band (The Push) is thinking about getting back together. He is driving down to Perstorp this weekend to practice with them one day, so they can see if they can make it work. If so, they'll have more practice sessions and rehearsals before performing at some specific upcoming "gig".

April 4 – sick

You wouldn't want to visit us this week. Bengt has had a bad cold, hacking cough and (to top it all off) pinkeye for about a week. He got it from Max, who got over it (at least the pinkeye) in a day.

I didn't catch what Bengt got (yet), but unfortunately I got what the Swedes delicately call "winter vomiting disease". I think we just call it stomach flu or the Norwalk virus. Whatever you call it, it hit me Sunday evening and I was in bed (and completely miserable, I might add) all day Monday. I felt much better yesterday, but today I feel worse again, probably because I got dehydrated and got a UTI. I can still barely eat, but I'm trying to drink a lot.

I think Bengt and I will both be home sick again tomorrow. (One of my colleagues got this stomach flu, as well, and we've received orders not to return to work until at least two full days after symptoms subside, since calicivirus is extremely contagious.) Friday and Monday are both holidays. That's a lot of time to be away from the office!

Only Max is still healthy (knock on wood). It's a drag for him not to be able to bring his friends home to play. I feel uneasy about letting him play with other kids or even going to school – who knows when he'll come down with this crud. He could be passing it to others as we speak. But you can't keep a kid home because of that, can you?

Oh yeah, Max has a few plantar warts that we are treating nightly. Right now we're using that stinky Compound W, but I've read that banana peel and duct tape work great, too. Both remedies are mentioned frequently on the Web, but I'm not sure what to believe – you can find claims backing up almost any bogus remedy. Anybody who has personal experience on how to get rid of them (short of surgery), please let me know.

Max and I are planning a visit to Michigan again this summer. Our family rented this four-bedroom house on Lake Michigan, where we can spend a week together. Doesn't it look beautiful? Max and I are reeeeeally looking forward to this. We didn't get our sun & beach fix during spring break. Hopefully this will make up for it.

March 30

Max had a semi-annual checkup on Monday. Stats:

Height: 135.3 cm (just over 4' 5")
Weight: 36 kg (79.4 lbs.)
Still no glasses necessary (we check that every time because I can tell already that he's a little nearsighted)

His weight was almost exactly the same as last fall, while his height has taken off. Yay! I guess our efforts to eat smaller & fewer portions has had an effect on Max, as well! (I've lost 19 lbs., myself.)

When we were at the doctor's office, the slightly ditzy doctor had trouble figuring out how to enter Max's info on the computer. She was fooling around with that for several minutes, and I let her handle it because I didn't want to embarrass her. Max has no such reservations. He went over to her side of the desk, looked briefly at the screen and pointed to a button. "Edit," he said. Doh! :-)

March 24

I hope this finds all our family and friends healthy and happy!

I have lots to tell this time (but nothing monumental) and some pictures to share....

Max participated in his first tennis tournament last Saturday. He lost every match and was quite discouraged. Every kid who participated got a gold-colored medal and a T-shirt, but he still felt like a loser.

However, afterwards he conceded that he learned a lot about the rules of the game and would probably do better next time. He also admitted to having some fun: "I made new friends. I heard a boy say that he had broken the same leg twice, so I asked him what it was like to have a broken leg and what happened when he broke it. I make new friends wherever I go! I just open my mouth and I make friends!"

Kind of like a certain grandpa I know..... :-D

Max knows that the ability to make friends is more important than the ability to win tennis matches – though it would have been fun to win.

Max during the fun part of the tennis tournament.

We had two deer in our back yard today. This is right behind our house, where we keep the grill in the summer.

Today at a little neighborhood flea market I noticed this electric guitar, perfectly functional and incredibly cheap, so I got it for Max. Background: Bengt has two electric guitars and an amp here, on permanent loan from a friend. Max loves to play them but is rarely allowed to. Now he has his own!

As an added bonus, Bengt checked out this guitar on the Internet and found that it is worth a good deal more than I paid for it. So that made my day. I just love a good deal – especially when it makes my son jump for joy and my husband say, "Good buy!"

Did you notice that Max is wearing his Star Trek T-shirt?

We turn our clocks forward tonight. I'm not looking forward to Monday morning, when it will feel like I'm getting up at 5 a.m. Daylight savings time – what a nutty idea!

It's still cold here – around 40 degrees F. I think we're going to go way out on a limb and have our summer tires put on this coming week, though. (Last year we had snow on April 20.)

Max and I have been enjoying Calvin and Hobbes in English every other night. (They have it in Swedish, too: Kalle och Hobbe.) I had one collection, and we got started on that for some reason. We enjoyed it, and then I found another at a flea market. I mentioned our new interest to an American colleague and he dug out two more collections from his storage space for us to enjoy! That should keep us going for awhile.

Do you remember what it's like reading Calvin & Hobbes? I have to say that despite the subject matter (the antics of a six-year-old boy and his stuffed/living tiger), the language is very advanced. Even I don't understand every strip; a few are simply over my head. Others are too complicated to explain to Max, or just beyond him. It's a little frustrating sometimes. But other strips are simply hilarious, and that makes up for it. Once or twice they've left us laughing uncontrollably. It's a fun way to end the day.

Here are a few strips! Hope I'm not breaking copyright laws here....

Max has been playing with his cars again – little metal ones. He lost interest in them for awhile, just about when he got a Playstation, but now they're back. At the moment we have parking lots, at least 30 yards of plastic track, and about 100 cars all over the living room. (His playroom wasn't big enough???)

March 11

Our friend Nancy visited us Feb. 27 - March 8. I took some time off work, and I don't think I've socialized that intensely since I left the U.S. We also walked around in Stockholm's old town, visited the National Museum (great!), made the rounds to a few flea markets, took in an IMAX film at Cosmonova (Max enjoyed that, too), and watched a bit of Star Trek. We all enjoyed Nancy's visit and were sad to see her go.

Too bad we forgot to take pictures. Argh!

When Max and I were waiting for Nancy's plane to arrive, I explained that it was coming in from Amsterdam because Nancy had flown with KLM. Max thought she was coming from "Hamster Dam." Hee-hee!

Nancy had a Star Trek Playstation game and M&M's for Max. They were instant friends.

Max has been a gem lately. He's in a new and intense phase of asking questions, and he is also more creative now than I can remember him being in awhile. Since Christmas he has been playing a lot of Playstation (up to the limit Bengt and I set for him), but this morning he got up and played with his cars for a couple of hours. He also likes to play board games and just hang out and discuss things.

It can drive me a little crazy on weekends because he starts yakking and asking questions the minute he gets up. He follows you around, wanting answers to all his questions and your reaction to just about every idea that occurs to him. I try to help him be a little more independent by asking, "What do you think?" But it doesn't stop until bedtime. Oh. My. God. I have to specifically ask him to please stop talking when I can't take any more. I've heard Bengt say, "Stop hovering!" – I'm going to start using that (except possibly with a "please" in front of it, if I can remember that when I'm bugged). Whew!

Yesterday Max asked about the authenticity of Easter Bunny. I tried to avoid it, but finally I ended up admitting that the adults put out the Easter candy. He was a bit disappointed. But hey, you ask Mom a direct question, you get a straight answer!

Max still plays piano every day – on weekends several times a day without prompting (!). He likes to make up little songs and play around with modifying the pieces he has learned from his lessons. I've noticed real improvement. He's less shy about playing in front of people, too.

We had our piano tuned a few weeks ago, and Max didn't like it! Strange. "Fortunately", it went out of tune again almost immediately, and Max thought it sounded better. I'm probably supposed to be alarmed, but what can you do? You can't have the piano tuned every other week.

I blew my salary on furniture last month. Here is what I bought:

A hideabed from Ikea for Max's playroom:

A rug for our front hall, about 2 meters long:

A bench for our front hall (one that Bengt and I have had our eye on for years), solid oak, found in the bargain corner of a furniture store:

And, from the same series, a coat hanger thingie for our front hall, also found in the bargain corner at the same furniture store, but a week later.

Now all we need is a new rug for Max's room. Max and I know what we want – now we just have to drag Bengt (kicking and screaming) to the carpet store to get his approval.

While Nancy was here, I sold two pairs of used J.Jill pants on Ebay for $46. Good grief, I never dreamed I'd get that much for them! Nancy took them back with her to send from Michigan. Good thinking, huh?

February 19

Today Max sat with me in the car while the car was being washed. This was a big deal, and he shrieked with glee like he does on a rollercoaster. He went through a car wash with Aunt Lin and his cousins a few years back, and for some reason that was ok, but he has refused to be in a car wash with me ever since he freaked out in one in August 2002. Since then I've offered him chances to go in a car wash, but he's always been too afraid and chosen to stay outside. Today, finally, he overcame his fear.

Now you can see the ad Max was in, if you're interested. Click the QuickTime link at the bottom of the page. The ad is only about a minute long, and the three kids are only visible (with their actress mom) for a second, but you can't miss them.

February 18

Max and I went ice skating this morning on Norrviken, the lake closest to us. I have långfärdsskridskor (long-distance skates, if that's the correct translation) and Max used his regular skates. I've hardly skated since Max was born, and I was only doing it because I felt guilty he's been spending so much time playing Playstation games, but it turned out to be FUN!

We had a blast and skated almost around the entire lake. The perimeter is 14 km, and I'd say we did 10 km. (We took the last shortcut across, probably bout 1.5 km from the end of the lake.) The surface is smooth and easy skating, where they (the county?) resurfaced a path with a Zamboni. Really enjoyable! Max and I agreed we want to go every weekend as long as there's ice, plus we'll try to go once during the week after school/work. (That may be overly ambitious, though.) We tried to get Bengt excited about it. HA.

I've been shopping a lot this weekend. I was looking for a hideabed, and I finally bought one at Ikea — ordered it online, that is. It didn't look like "our style" in the picture, but when I saw it in person at Ikea, I realized it would be almost perfect. (Usually it's the other way around with Ikea stuff, I find.... You think it looks great online, but in person it looks tacky or just not what you expected.)

I've also been shopping for some rugs. There's a GREAT carpet place about 10 miles from here. We bought a nice rug from them previously and have been really happy with it. Saturday they loaned me two nice rugs with no deposit. We are trying them in our upstairs hall to see which one we like. (Maja clawed up the other one we had up there. It was ancient, anyway.) I want a big carpet for Max's play room, too, but so far no luck. (The price has to be right.)

When I was looking for a hideabed, I happened to find an oak bench for our front hall in the "bargain department" at a furniture store. It's in almost-perfect condition and I got it for about 60% of the normal price. I'd had my eye out for that bench ever since we bought the house, so needless to say I was pleased. (In retrospect, maybe I should have bought it at regular price when we first wanted it. I take my "never pay full price" motto too far sometimes.)

February 8 – an early start

I feel sorry for the birds and wild animals. We had such a mild winter up until a few weeks ago. Then after our recent cold snap we had a thaw. The birds were singing and it felt like spring. But yesterday the temperature plummeted again – down to about -16° C. (0° F.). We got a bit more snow, too. I can't imagine the local wildlife is finding much to eat. We have some birdfeeders out, for what it's worth.

Max woke me up at 3:30 this morning to help him with something, and I never got back to sleep. Three-thirty is right at that limit for me: If I wake up before then, I can usually get back to sleep, but if I wake up after 3:30, it's doubtful. Some little part of me snaps awake after a minute or two (I can actually feel the limit being crossed) and won't let me get back to sleep. Might as well get up and do something useful or interesting. I won't get tired again until this evening.

So I ate breakfast and drank coffee while reading the paper. I really enjoy that. Then I sorted laundry, and now I'll just say good morning to you. Good morning!

Recently a professional photographer came to ReadSoft and took pictures of each member of R&D. I was really pleased with this one of me! It is completely unretouched, I might add.

Sunday, February 4

We had a very laid-back weekend. Max's buddy Nils spent most of Saturday with us, and then spent the night. Bengt and I had no special plans, so we mostly puttered around the house.

Max's dentist appointment last Thursday went fine. Scilla filled the last little cavity, for which no anesthetic was needed. She put anesthetic salve around the base of the tooth that she wanted to pull, and there were a few tense moments when she went to pull the tooth. But it came out with no problem – there was no root left on it at all – and we were very relieved.

I wrote down the name of the anesthetic that Max got at our last visit, so I could request it again in the future. The anesthetic he got a year ago had no effect (or not nearly enough, anyway). Apparently my aunt doesn't respond well to some local anesthetics, either, so Max might have inherited that. The dentist agreed that it is good to know what works.

Now I'm relieved that Max's cavities are finally filled and he has no more teeth sticking out at weird angles. We don't have to go back until next January.

January 31 – of grapes and rats

We love grapes at our house, and our grocery store has just started selling a new type of grape (no doubt gene manipulated) that is very firm and tasty. I've been buying a lot of them.

Max is very particular about his grapes. He likes them to be perfect, which is why this new sort is a boon to him. (For all I know, they may have been harvested months ago, but they're in very good condition when they reach the grocery store.) This morning he came to me with a grape that had two tiny spots on it. He asked me if it's ok to eat a grape with those spots on it. I said. "Sure!" He said, "Then you eat it." I popped it into my mouth. But as he was walking away, just as a little joke I said, "Oooh, a worm!"

I didn't say it very loudly or anything, I just sounded surprised and maybe slightly alarmed. But Max screamed, started crying, and threw his arms around my legs and hid his face, as he does if he's very frightened (which doesn't happen more than once or twice a year). I felt so bad! Yet it was so funny! I kept apologizing (sincerely), but I also couldn't stop laughing. As he hugged my legs for comfort, he also gave me a kick to demonstrate how angry he was.

I have a feeling Max is going to be telling his therapist about this someday.

On Monday I took Max into Stockholm to screen for that photo shoot. It went fine, but I guess he didn't get that job, because the ad agency didn't call. It's a relief, though. It would have taken four hours, which could have been rough on Max. Plus I would have had to cancel tomorrow's dentist appointment, and it is difficult to reschedule.

Today I had lunch with three tech writer colleagues. One of them was talking about how much he admires some actors' work. The actors can memorize lots of lines, get all the motions down right, and really convince you that they are this fictional character. It's amazing, he said.

Because of something my friend Wendy wrote me the other day, it popped into my head, "Yeah, but I bet they can't spell." What I meant was simply that people have different strengths. Those actors may be good at what they do, but so are we tech writers. And I think (or hope) my colleagues got it, but it also struck us how anyone else it would heard it – like something completely out of the blue, like "Yeah, but I bet they can't balance a shoe on their nose" or something equally useless. (Who needs to know how to spell, when there are spell checkers?) We roared.

Yesterday Max started in about rats again – for the past year he has been wanting pet rats. He asked me, "If we get rats, is it ok if I kiss them?"

He's worried about worms in his grapes, but he wants to kiss rats?? (My colleague Dave pointed out the irony of this. I am incapable of making such keen observations.) (I'm a good speller, though!)

Sunday, January 28

Winter finally arrived in Sweden, about two months late. Max and I were in Perstorp last weekend, visiting Bengt's parents, and we had a snowstorm. There was even more snow here in Stockholm, and it got pretty cold. It's been cold and icy ever since. Max was happy about it – for about two days. Now he's longing for summer, as are the rest of us – although he did enjoy sledding yesterday.

Max had two of his three cavities filled last week. It started out badly: The dentist had him lie horizontally in the chair, and he immediately broke down in tears. But she was great – she raised the chair again and said, "Let's talk about this."

She gave Max a glass of water and they discussed what they were going to do and how. He got to choose whether or not to have some salve rubbed on his gums before the injection. He got to choose a hand signal to use whenever he wanted to say something. She agreed to stop for a break whenever he gave the signal. Max was reassured and they took it one slow step at a time. And fortunately the anesthetic "took" this time. (Must find out which one she used.)

Because they took their time, the dentist didn't get all the work done, but Max had a good experience (afterward he exclaimed, "That didn't hurt at all!"), and I think next time will be a lot easier. We have to go back Thursday for the third filling and to have an extremely crooked baby tooth pulled. (Max managed to yank one out last week, fortunately.)

Max went to a Harry Potter-themed birthday party today. He came home with a cape with a Gryffindor sticker and a wand. I think it suits him! All that's missing is the glasses and the scar.

We got another call from an ad agency, and I agreed to take Max in for another screen test tomorrow. If he's chosen, he'll be pictured in a newspaper ad. The session would take four hours and Max would be paid well.

I don't know what to think. I guess he's got a look that these agencies can use. Maybe he stands out in the sea of slender, blond Swedish kids, without looking foreign. The casting director (or whatever you call her) asked, for safety's sake, if he still has short brown hair. Yep!

Today is Bengt's 46th birthday. Max made him a nice drawing. I got him some books that he wanted. I can't believe we're this old!

January 15

We had a bad windstorm yesterday. Trees down and roofs blown off, three people killed. Bengt's brother and his partner, who were visiting for the weekend, were supposed to take the train home, but all the trains running south and west from Stockholm were cancelled. Initially they rescheduled to this morning and stayed an extra night, but this mornings' trains were cancelled, as well. Finally they flew home this afternoon.

Sunday, January 14

We went and shot the commercial on Wednesday. The people were very friendly. We spent a lot of time waiting around. They also adjusted the kids' clothes a bit. Then they did about eight takes of "his" scene.

Max was one of three siblings, shown here, walking through a mall (closed to the public during shooting) with an actress mother. I thought it was a bit strange that they chose three kids the same size to be siblings. And the one girl didn't look the least bit like a sibling to the other two, in my opinion. But whatever...

I was grateful that they took the kids' scene first. The rest of the actors and extras in the commercial were there filming until 6 a.m.! We were out of there by 10:20 p.m.

Max's one tooth got knocked out (painlessly) the other day. But there are two more that need to come out ASAP. He could pull them out himself if he set his mind to it.

Lately Max has taken to saying, "Curious: ....." just like Tuvok on Star Trek Voyager. For example, the other day he said to me, "Curious: You're 44 years old, and Papa is almost 46. He's older, but you have more hair."

We got our car back after repairs. Both rear wheel bearings had to be replaced, plus one ABS sensor and another part that I don't know the name of in English. It didn't cost as much as I feared. Could have been worse. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Today I'm happy about one thing and bummed about another.

First the good news: Max was one of three kids chosen to be an extra in that commercial he screened for. He is pretty excited.

The commercial is for some new computer game (or new in Sweden) called Limbo. Filming is tomorrow evening, and they say it will take two hours at most.

His persona or role is "cool suburban kid" and he will be walking with an actress playing his mom. The commercial will air on national television, but I don't know when they'll start showing it. Max will be paid 300 kronor (about $40).

Now the bad news: I took Max to the dentist today because of that snaggle tooth he has, which is now sticking out at a 90 degree angle. It looks ridiculous and is no looser than three months ago. Well, we found out:

  • There is yet another snaggle tooth that we hadn't even noticed. An eye tooth is pointing towards the back of his jaw at a crazy angle. We were so fixated on that wacky front tooth that we hadn't even noticed this other one! And both have to come out.

  • The filling that Max got last March, and paid for dearly in tears and stress, is gone. The tooth has to be filled again.

  • And he has two new cavities! Argh!!!

I'm really dismayed about the cavities. The whole family (including Max) has been diligent in taking care of his teeth. Either Bengt or I brush his teeth for him carefully every evening. (He brushes himself, quite thoroughly I think, every morning after breakfast.) He uses fluoride lozenges twice a day. What else are we supposed to do???

The dentist suggested that snacking between meals can cause cavities. I don't think he snacks more than other kids, but ok, I guess that's the next thing to cut.

But couldn't it be that he simply inherited soft teeth? Bengt had a mouthful of cavities as a kid, too. Bengt blames a money-hungry dentist for that, but I'm not so sure. I'm going to ask about this when we see the dentist again next week, and research it online at the earliest opportunity.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I hope your year has gotten off to a good start.

Our New Years celebration was fun. We had our friends over (with two kids) and had dinner, cake to celebrate Max's 7th birthday, the NY countdown (at 9 p.m.), champagne (strawberry pop for the kids), noise makers, sparklers, and fireworks – same as the last two years. It's a fun tradition.

Max gets to light all the fireworks, closely supervised by Bengt. Max uses a long-handled lighter and runs like mad as soon as they are lit.

Max took lots of pictures. It is always interesting to see the things he deems worthy of photographing. On NYE it was:

  • Champagne bottles

  • Whisky bottles

  • A can of glitter hairspray

  • His advent calendar

  • An extreme close-up of December 24 (the big day here) on his advent calendar

  • A close-up of Gunilla's very surprised face

  • Bengt's crotch

The new heat pump

Our new heat pump was finally installed this week. We need to get used to it, learn all its functions and "dial it in". It's not pretty, but so far we really like it. We have turned off all the heating elements in the house except the ones on the bathrooms, and the heat pump is quietly heating and humidifying the entire house at a lower cost. The bedrooms don't get very warm, but we don't want them warm. We will need to turn those other elements back on when it gets really cold, though (how cold, we don't know). In the summer we can reverse it so it works as an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier.

Here you can see the indoor unit, installed in the staircase, and the outdoor unit, installed on our balcony. Unfortunately the outdoor unit is still connected by extension cord since no electrician showed up for the installation. Doh!

Screen test to be an extra in a commercial

On Friday we got a phonecall from an ad agency. They wondered if Max was interested in screening to be an extra in a commercial. (I had registered him on a website for extras, at his request.) This agency needed three kids for their commercial.

Max was definitely interested, so we drove into Stockholm the next morning for the screen test. They took some pictures of him and filmed him for about a minute. I doubt they will choose him, because:

  • He still has that tooth sticking out at a bizarre angle (we're going to the dentist's office for that on Thursday).

  • The guy told Max not to look into the camera, but he did.

  • Probably at least 100 kids "tried out".

But it was an experience! Maybe next time.


I mentioned that we took care of three cats over the holidays. Two were picked up by their owner on January 3, and the third one, Harper (black cat, left, relaxing among Max's stuffed animals) was picked up today. He is a wonderful, unassuming little cat.

Bengt couldn't keep track of Harper's name – kept calling him Garfield, Harvey, or just "the black cat." Bengt acted detached, but I think he really liked Harper. I have the cutest picture of the two of them napping together! But Bengt wouldn't let me post it.

The cat shown below is Bimbo, a very large mix. He is so big that he couldn't fit into the cat bed that we still have here from Maja. He liked using it, but he had to hang out over the side, as you can see.

Bimbo's tummy is ticklish, and one time when Max was petting him, Bimbo got tickled and suddenly swatted Max with his claw. The sudden swipe, without warning, seemed so unfair. Max grabbed his bunny and threw it at Bimbo. Bimbo trotted away. Max said angrily, "He deserved to have a bunny thrown at him! Stupid cat!"

When Harper showed up, we were nervous that Bimbo wouldn't tolerate him. But Bimbo is very secure in his rank. I don't think any other cats would dare challenge him, and Harper certainly didn't. So all Bimbo did was blink at Harper in mild greeting. After that he completely ignored Harper.

Ali, on the other hand (below), was already behind Bimbo in rank and wasn't willing to risk losing status to Harper. Until Bimbo and Ali were picked up on the 3rd, Ali made Harper's visit a rather tense one. Harper generally stayed downstairs, and the other two cats upstairs. We even fed Harper downstairs. I like that picture of Ali because it shows his mean streak.

Ali and Bimbo were outside when the fireworks started. (That was stupid of me.) Then they wouldn't come in when I called them. I was very worried that they'd be traumatized by all the noise, which was coming from everywhere. Or that they'd run into someone's garage and get locked in. I kept calling them long after midnight, but they didn't come. Finally Ali showed up at 2:15 a.m., and he seemed fine – what a relief! The next time I woke up was at 5:00, and that's when Bimbo was waiting to come in. He also seemed fine, and at that point Ali was ready to go back out again. So they can't have been that scared, I guess.

The house sure feels empty without cats!


The other day Max told me: "You know, Mom, lots of times if I smell something interesting, if I open my mouth I can taste it, too." What a weird kid.

For his birthday (sort of), Max got a his first cell phone. (It was one we had but we weren't using, and we simply bought an extra cash card for it.) Many of his friends have cell phones. He is really enjoying it. He called me three times from his friend's house yesterday.

We missed Sollentuna's annual domestic animal exhibition this year. (That's where we saw the rats last year. I think we've gone every year since Max was a year old.) Bummer. We simply forgot to put it on the calendar.

But Bengt took Max to Disney on Ice today (along with a friend, Kristina, and Kristina's dad). I guess they had fun, although this year's princess theme made it less interesting for Max. Kristina loved it! :-)

On the way home (I heard later), the car made a sudden noise and then didn't handle right. There was a banging noise from the back end and a nasty smell. Yikes! They were afraid they wouldn't make it back to Sollentuna. After we all had dinner at our friends' house, Bengt managed to drive the car to the garage. The rest of us, following behind in another car for safety's sake, could see the wheel wobbling a little. The nuts are in place and tight, though. Probably something wrong with the suspension. Great. $$$$$ Well, I guess we needed something to spend our money on, now that the heat pump is going to be saving on our heating bill.... (No, there's still the front steps to save for.... Don't get me started!)




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