What's New at the Pålssons'

 

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

Tuesday, December 28

We had a great Christmas with Anna-Brita and Anders. Very low key and laid back, yet of course way more interesting than when Bengt and Max and I celebrate by ourselves. It was very relaxing and pleasant. We missed Sven, and shed a few tears, yet were able to enjoy ourselves a lot. We played games, watched movies, did a puzzle, ate, and sat around and read and chatted. Max got LOTS of loot. He spent a lot of time running around with his new Nerf gun, but I know he will also enjoy the other things a lot, especially the new Foxtrot compilations.

They left yesterday evening, so Bengt and I worked today. Bengt will be off the rest of the week, but I'll be working. It's pretty quiet at work, so I'm getting a lot of backlogged tasks done, which feels nice.

Max had a funny slip of the tongue here the other day: He want O'Boy, which is a brand of chocolate powder for chocolate milk here in Sweden. Max said that he wanted some "Cowboy." I loved that.

Another recent mistake: We were watching an episode on Big Bang Theory where Howard Wolowitz says, as an excuse for not going to Texas, something like, "My people have already crossed the desert once – I'm done." Max laughed, so I paused the episode to ask if he knew what Howard was referring to. Max said, "Yes, it was Mexicans!" He'd seen Mexicans crossing the desert to get to the U.S. on some documentary. Doh! Guess we need to review our Bible stories....

On the other hand, he redeemed himself during a recent Star Trek episode in which one character had tried and failed to manipulate another. He commented, "That's right, reverse psychology doesn't work!" And he was correct – the manipulator had attempted reverse psychology. I asked him where he learned that concept (because it certainly wasn't from me J). It was from comic books – Calvin & Hobbes and Foxtrot.


Sunday, December 19

Picked up some new skis for Max last weekend. After school on Wednesday he wanted to go skiing, but no one was home to organize it for him. So after getting the ok and a few instructions from me on the phone, he gathered all the necessary equipment (helmet, goggles, ski pass, ski bag, money, long underwear...) and took the bus! For us that's a big step forward in the area of initiative and self-reliance. I was pleased.

We'd neglected one detail, though: When he should be home. Nine p.m. came around and Bengt and I were saying to each other, "Where the heck is Max?" I couldn't get him on his cell phone but sent him a text message: "Call home immediately! We want you home." Fortunately we got the call five minutes later and agreed on a meeting point, so he was home by 9:15.

Then we discovered he had unfinished homework....

Here's Max playing a 3D game on his computer.


Tuesday, December 7

Got an android phone the other day, to replace my "ancient" cell phone that was only a cell phone. Max (who had never seen this phone before) showed me how to use it. (To him, it was very intuitive. To me, not so much.) Last night I asked him how to do something with the phone. "Mama, we went over that yesterday...." J

I've been discovering how useful the new features are. Most useful so far: The main screen shows the time and temperature in Stockholm. When I touch the screen, I get the weather report for the next five days. Love that! Most fun: Downloading nerdy Star Trek sounds and backgrounds.


Thursday, December 2

It's crazy cold here, -15 degrees C. (5 degrees F.). This morning I read in the paper that we'd had our coldest November in recorded history. Our local ski hill is scheduled to open early – on December 13 (unless we get an unexpected thaw).

Do you ever dream yourself into TV shows, or dream about fictional TV characters? I dreamt the other night that I was traveling with Sheldon Cooper (of Big Bang Theory). We were trying to get settled in a hotel and, predictably, he was being fussy. I often dream that I'm living on a starship and that Star Trek characters are part of my life. (Of course, they actually are. J)


Friday, November 19

Yesterday as Max was getting ready for school he said, "This is the best kind of school day!" When I asked why, he said that it was National Book Day and they would get to read all day. That's my boy. He's reading a science fiction book in English, Found, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

We had more snow this week, but I have to say I don't mind as much now that I can park in the garage and don't have to scrape car windows early every morning. Yay! The next big thing I'm looking forward to is our new garage door, with electric garage door opener and remote control – woo-hoo! It's supposed to be installed the second week in December. I will not miss that heavy, retractable (up-and-over) garage door one bit.

Guess what – I get to go to a kick-off in Athens in January! (Ok, January isn't going to be the best time to enjoy Athens, but still....) I'm flying down a day early and staying an extra day to take it all in. So I'll be gone almost a week. I tried to get Bengt and Max to go along, but they were barely interested. ?!

As I reported last weekend, I've been coughing for weeks, but when I called the clinic they didn't think it sounded like anything they needed to see me for. Well, this week my cough got even worse, and I've started feeling run down. People have been asking me if I've started smoking again. (Never!) So today I called the clinic that ReadSoft has a contract with. I got an appointment this afternoon and what do you know, I have pneumonia. The doctor said, "Good thing you came in!" I said, "I called the [name withheld to protect the guilty] clinic and they didn't think I needed to be seen." He said, "Well, that clinic doesn't want to see patients." Great. I wonder how many brain cells I killed with all that hacking, not to mention how many people I might have passed my bug on to.

Anyway, now I have antibiotics (drat) and a morphine-like cough medicine (yessss) to help me—help the whole family, actually, since I've been keeping them awake—sleep at night. When I came home and told Max that I'd probably stop coughing within a few days, he started singing the Hallelujah Chorus. J

Still, we have a busy weekend planned. I don't have a fever and can still function, and we didn't want to cancel our plans. I might take a day or two off work to rest if I'm still coughing like this on Monday.

Next weekend we're hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, so that will be another busy weekend.


Sunday, November 14

Today Bengt and I finally got the garage cleaned out sufficiently that I can actually park in it. Phew! What a mess that was. We were just dumping stuff in there during home improvement projects, and it got out of hand.

I forgot to write about Max sleepwalking awhile back, and now I can't remember the details. He came in to our bedroom, woke me up, and asked me some normal, trivial question that he would have asked me during the day but that was totally inappropriate to ask in the middle of the night. I gave him a brief answer, and when he wanted to continue the conversation I said, "Let's discuss it in the morning." He seemed confused. "It's the middle of the night," I said. "Oh." "Go back to bed." "Ok." He had no recollection of it the next morning.

This past Wednesday I gave my first speech at Stockholm International Toastmasters. It went pretty well, since I'd prepared thoroughly and memorized the entire speech. I got a lot of good feedback, including several points to work on (which is why I'm there). I have two goals: (a) To present a session at the annual Society for Technical Communication Summit in a competent, professional manner. This is part of my professional development. (b) To be able to give a decent toast, eulogy, or other special-occasion speech. When I went to a good friend's 50th birthday party in June, I was embarrassed that I didn't feel up to the task of proposing a toast. That's ridiculous. Time to remedy that.

Recently Max got a casting call for a Kleenex commercial that is to be shown in the US, Canada and Mexico. He and I visited the ad agency and he tried out for the part. Then we had dinner in the city. It was a fun evening. He didn't get the part, though. (If he had, for one day of shooting he would have been paid as much as I make in a month!)

I don't get casting calls very often, but in August I got a call from an agency that was interested in casting me as captain of a spaceship in a Norwegian TV ad! Doesn't that sound hilarious? That would have been a riot. Unfortunately, we were heading to Russia on the filming date. (Of course, visiting Russia was fun. But it would have been nice to do both.)

Soccer season is over, but Max continues to go to floorball practice twice a week, and there are matches every weekend. He seems to really enjoy it, and I'm no expert but it looks like he plays pretty well. The last game I watched (yesterday) they won 15-3. Woo-hoo! (He said, "That was banana-crazy!") It's fun to shop for the clothes and equipment, too. J Here's a picture of him in his goalie outfit.

A new boy started in Max's class at school, which was exciting for him. Also, some condos are being built in our part of town. They've barely started construction, but all of the units are already sold. Max's first question: "Do you think there might be any new kids my age moving in?" He really enjoys meeting new people. I'm glad for him!

He was over at a friend's house all day today. Now he and Bengt are watching a Lord of the Rings movie.

Wish I could get rid of this persistent cough I picked up in Egypt. Everyone (including me) is tired of hearing me hack. I called the clinic on Friday but they said that it sounds like a virus (no fever, etc.), that many people have it right now, and that it can take a month or more to get rid of it. Grrr.


Saturday, November 6

Finally got my pictures from last month's trip to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt posted. I had a great time – spent a lot of time reading and listening to podcasts by the pool. It felt luxurious to do every single thing on my own terms, in my own time, without discussion or negotiation, and without considering anyone else's needs.

A really great thing on the way down was last part of the 4½-hour flight, coming in over the Sinai Peninsula, with Israel on the left (east) and endless desert on the right, as far as the eye could see. Not empty, flat desert but full of contours, lines from flooding (?!), the occasional road, coastline, etc. That was fascinating! I was riveted to the window and so bummed I hadn't taken my camera with me on the plane.

During this trip I discovered snorkeling. I never understood the attraction before, but I could see the fish easily from the beach, so I dug out Max's snorkel and mask that I had with me and waded out. Before I even got out knee deep there were exotic fish circling my legs. Then, about 20-50 meters out from the beach there were various areas roped off with buoys. As you approach them, the number of colorful fish multiplies, until you get to the ropes and see that they enclose a shelf of coral, teeming with all kinds of marine life! I saw the most amazing fish – tiny ones, huge ones, black ones with purple spots and purple eyes, bright orange ones, bright red, bright yellow, striped, spotted, one kind of fish that looks like a skeleton. Spiky fish, snub-nosed bulbous fish, slithery, slimy fish, sting rays, you name it. I could not believe my eyes. I was thunderstruck. There's a whole different world down there, full of color and diversity – and easily accessible!

After viewing it all for about an hour, I went back to my beach chair for a rest. But I couldn't resist – after five minutes I went right back out. And this time I took the underwater camera I'd brought. I took all 27 pictures at once. Went back to my chair, rested for another five minutes, and went out again. After that I went straight out and bought myself my own snorkel and mask (that fit me better than Max's old set), plus a fish and coral chart.

Since I was by myself on this trip, I couldn't apply sunscreen to my back, so I burned my back that first day of snorkeling. The new day I wore a tank top over my bathing suit. But a fish swam up my shirt, which was a little freaky. After that I got inventive and applied sunscreen by squirting it over my shoulder and then smearing it around with a strip of plastic ripped from a plastic bag. J

I will definitely be going back for more awesome snorkeling, and I know Max will want to go with me. Maybe we'll try diving, too.


Tuesday, October 26 – crazy car day

This morning Bengt was driving our Ford to the garage for routine service, when he was rear-ended on the highway. The damage wasn't bad to our car; I just thought it was funny that he was on his way to the garage.

I had the Audi today, and I'm not used to it. When I went to drive home from work, I couldn't get it started. I called Bengt and asked if there was some trick to it, and I tried all kinds of things but we couldn't think why it wouldn't start. A colleague strolled by and I asked him to give it a try. So he was sitting there trying to turn the key, while I was looking around the garage, getting bored with the whole predicament. And then it hit me: It was the wrong car! I had unlocked another colleague's Volkswagen with my Audi key and had been trying to start it for the last ten minutes! Whoa.


Monday, September 27

Bengt's father died a few days ago after a long illness. Bengt and Anna-Brita were with him. It's both gut-wrenchingly sad and a relief that Sven's suffering is over and he can be at peace. He was a wonderful father, father-in-law, grandfather, husband, and friend to many, and we'll never forget him.

The leaves are turning and falling, and the Capri pants have been put away for the year. However, I've booked a trip for myself – a week in Egypt, starting October 12. It'll be my first solitary vacation in many years. I'm going to take a whole pile of books with me. And when I get tired of reading, there will be plenty for me to see. I'm really looking forward to an extra week of summer, all by myself, with no responsibilities. I've been feeling really worn out, I'm not sure whether from grief, chores, or what.

I'd like to congratulate the folks at AXE, makes of Twist deodorant body spray, for their extremely successful marketing campaign. They've totally brainwashed my 10-year-old into thinking he has to have this spray. I thought, whatever, it's only a few bucks, so we went and bought some yesterday. It smells like citrus + chemicals. Standing in line at the store, Max was deeply satisfied. "I feel like a man now." I grabbed him and kissed him. Then he wasn't so satisfied. "Now I'm humiliated. I feel like a weak pussy." It's no longer ok to kiss Max in public, I've been given to understand.

Bengt gave me a present yesterday: Big Bang Theory, season three. Max and I had just been saying how much we missed it, after having watched seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. Well, now we have season 3 and we just love that show!

Check out this pizza cutter. Looks like something every self-respecting trekkie should have, doesn't it? Max and I also want the Star Trek communicator garage door opener. Of course, that won't be any good to us until we actually get an electric garage door opener. J


Sunday, September 12

Last weekend the three of us had a long weekend (Thursday through Sunday) in St. Petersburg, Russia. We visited our friends there and did some sightseeing. Highlights: The Hermitage, Khram Spasa na Krovi (Church on Spilled Blood), and above all meals with our friends. We stayed at a decent hotel and had a lot of fun! And of course we took a few pictures.

It's hard to find the time to write these days! Max has started school, both sports, and piano. The tempo at work has picked up, and I've joined Toastmasters International. Then we have our usual activities, and it seems like the chores (laundry, yard work, cleaning, etc.) never end. When I have a little precious spare time, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of my computer.

A couple of weeks ago I went out and bought a piece of black leather. (A whole cow hide, actually.) I'm upholstering some dining room chairs with it. Guess where I learned how: On YouTube! It took me five minutes to find it and watch the video, and each chair takes 15 minutes to finish. The result is great, don't you think? I'm hoping leather will be much easier to clean spilled food and sticky fingerprints off of, from certain small children who often eat with us. J


Wednesday, August 18

We had Max's vision tested in the U.S. I knew he was nearsighted but didn't expect the abyssmal score of 20/200. He refuses to wear glasses—we got him some two years ago that he's barely worn—so he got contact lenses. Getting them in the first time was an ordeal; we had to go back to the optician three times. But Max stuck with it and eventually succeeded, and since them he's been wearing them every day. Now he complains that things are blurry when he's not wearing them.

It's a bit sad that our summer is nearing an end. Max starts school on Tuesday. Soccer practice has already started up, and floorball and piano will be starting soon, as well.

I came down with a summer cold on Monday (actually first got the symptoms Sunday night). Felt really crappy yesterday but am already feeling a lot better today.


Monday, August 16

When we got back from the US, Bengt had a surprise for us: The last guppy in our aquarium had died, but the platy fishes had reproduced! We found several cute little orange fish in there.

We realized it was time to get a bigger aquarium, so over the weekend I got on Blocket and found a used one right here in Sollentuna, twice as big as our old one and a lot nicer looking, and cheap. Today I moved all the fish over (even found a number of teeny ones that looked like they had just been born today—wouldn't have undertaken the transfer if I'd seen them before I started).

Picked about a quart of blueberries off our American blueberry bushes this evening! The leaves are already turning for fall, but the berries are delicious. Bengt and Max love them, too.

I remember when we were in the US during blueberry season in 2004. We went blueberry picking, each with our own bucket. When we were done, Max only had a few berries to show for himself – he'd spent the whole time eating what he picked! J His tongue was blue.

 
One of our bushes; and Max (age 4) after picking blueberries.


Friday, August 6

Max and I had a great time in Michigan and Ohio. As usual, time was at a premium, and we travelled around. In Ohio we visited 98-year-old Grandma in the nursing home, watched Max's second cousin Mackenzie compete in a horse show, spent a day at my cousin's house, had a relaxed dinner at my uncle's house, and toured a cheese factory, among other things.

Back in Michigan, we rented the house on the lake again. It was mostly hot and muggy this year, but we really enjoyed the beach!

And we spent more time in Kalamazoo than we usually do; Max attended fishing day camp, and we visited with Marlin, Jackie, Nancy, and Bobbie. And we got to see dear friends in Ann Arbor, not to mention family in Saline. Max particularly enjoyed hanging out with his cousin Elliot.

There are pictures here.

We enjoyed blueberry season in Michigan, and now, back in Sollentuna, our own blueberries are just coming in. Bonus!

(That's right, there were no blog entries for July.)

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