Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season

I  love Christmasy time, don't you? We got all the decorations up the 2nd last weekend of November and have been enjoying bright lights and relaxing by the glow of the fake tree ever since. We've been to and had our share of parties and though I swore we were "done" until 2012, I managed to invite the neighbours over for some holiday cheer this Wednesday night. Well the families of the three little kiddies the little man enjoys playing with.

We will not be "home" for Christmas this year but I'm ok with it. After a month spent in Canada this summer, I'm still running on family steam and am just as happy to relax cozily here in our home away from home, Sweden. We'll spend Christmas Eve (which is the day they really celebrate here) with our Swedish "family" and then feast on our turkey Christmas Day.

Temps have been unseasonably mild the past few months with only two baby snowfalls. A request to Santa via Facebook status to please send us some snow for Christmas was met with snowfall #2, thanks Santa. And with sticky snow, my uber creative husband gets his hands wet. And voila! Most people build snowmen, hubby creates snowangels :-).

Hope you're all enjoying the very best of the season: family, friends and food!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Two weeks with Mary Poppins!

I've been silent over the past 2 weeks and for good reason:

On October 23rd, a special reunion took place between these two:

For two weeks, we all enjoyed her company, her love. She was Joseph's Nanny for the first two and a half years of his life in Montenegro. We were blessed. We are blessed. She celebrated my 35th with us.

She saw and experienced Sweden for the first time, and some Canadian traditions too!

We hosted a Halloween party here for little man's class..16 kids! Couldn't have done it without her.

There's a lot I couldn't have done without her.

Or my darling husband for that matter: Master Pumpkin Carver and Costume Maker.

From Uppsala to Stockholm to parties and The Butterfly House, we couldn't have asked for a more fun-filled 2 weeks with our dear Tanja.

Whether on-the-go or relaxing, she was what we all needed...a good dose of family.

And today we didn't say Goodbye, we said, "See you soon." Thank you Tanja for two wonderful weeks. xo

Friday, October 21, 2011

Joy Pockets in October

Glad to be participating in Joy Pockets this week. Want to share your joy pockets? Head on over to Mon at Holistic Mama and join in the fun. We all need to find the joy in our lives, no matter how cleverly hidden at times.

Here are mine this week:

A little boy learning to read by sounding out the sounds

A diminishing cough (taken directly from Mon's pockets but also my Joy Pocket)


2 more sleeps until this:

Grateful to have the power and desire to give someone the warmth and love they deserve.

Red leaves and crisp air

Share with me your Joy Pockets
Jenn xo

Sunday, October 16, 2011


MIA due to combo of insanely busy with work and nastily ill with a dreaded head, chest cold. In between, been planning a Halloween party for the little guy's class (that kind of crazy must the result of this nasty cold), the arrival in 1 week of our dearest Tanja from Serbia and my 35th Birthday Party! Plus decorating for Halloween and wishing my niece Audrey a Happy 1st Birthday. She's awesome. Suck a beautiful little girl. Bro's stingy with the pics but generous lately with video. So here's one of Baby Girl eating peas for Thanksgiving Dinner (Canadian Thanksgiving, was last week). And a few pics of us enjoying our meal for 3 here at the house. Did I mention that our turkey kicked some serious butt this year? Hubby said it was the best he's ever had and he never enjoyed white meat until this meal. SCORE!

So there's a little recap of what's been goin' on here. Now excuse me now while I go blow my nose and collect my kid from the neighbours. Have a fab week readers (all 5 of you!) xo

And the little Birthday Girl!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Joy Pockets again

Glad to be participating in Joy Pockets this week. Want to share your joy pockets? Head on over to Mon at Holistic Mama and join in the fun. We all need to find the joy in our lives, no matter how cleverly hidden at times.

Belly laughs shared over creme brulee with two special ladies.

Having my cappuccino unknowingly spiked with salt.

Some long overdue Daddy & Little Man time involving a waterslide, with no Mommy in sight.

Working so hard my eyes close in sweet defeat, mere moments after my head hits the pillow.

Canadian Thanksgiving!

Finding the box of Halloween decorations.

Have a great week! xo

Monday, October 3, 2011

Baby Blues

So we're sitting in McDonald's the other day...yes, we do go to the Evil Empire on occasion and make up for it during the week by my recent, step-by-step transition to organic and local foods (more on that in another post). Had to at least attempt to justify McDonald's ;-).

And Little Man, with his Happy Meal, is sitting directly across from a whispy blonde-haired baby boy, about 5 months old I'd say. And a cutie.

Little Man, assuming a very serious tone, states, loud enough for the parents of said cherub to hear: "Mommy, David (little boy the same age in his class) HATES babies."

Aghast and immediately on damage control, "Why does David hate babies?"

And to kick me when I'm down, the loud confession follows, "Actually, David AND I hate babies."

Snickering ensues from Mommy of the baby victim.

And words start pouring from my mouth simultaneously trying to figure out and quell the Baby Hate.

Mortified I am.

Turns out the "babies" (about 2 years old) at his school "chase us and we don't like it."

It was embarrassing and funny at the same time. But the other Mommy got it and so did I. He's newly five, at the age where he's questioning almost everything and sorting out his feelings on nearly everything. Hubby and I tried to explain that Little Man was once a baby and that babies don't know how to play with big boys but they want to and that's why they're chasing you around the park. etc. etc.

The next night at a party for a friend's older son, two babies (2 and 2.5) were present. And Little Man had a ball with them. About halfway through the evening, I found our Little Man in a corner crying. "The big kids are angry at me." My little baby was interrupting a video game session.

Sometimes you're the baby and sometimes you're the big boy.

Back to McDonald's. I was sitting directly across from Little Man (and right beside the Baby). "Mommy, why are you sitting THERE?"
"So I can see your gorgeous face."
Quite matter-of-factly he replies, "But you can see my gorgeous face if you sit beside me too."
You win.
I smiled, supressed a belly laugh and moved my hamburger and baby carrots to the empty seat next to my Baby/Boy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yay for small parenting victories

Today we went to gympa. One of the local gyms has a Parent/Child class that we used to frequent last year. 1/2 hour of "exercises" with the kid and then the parents leave for half an hour or so to exercise themselves. The latter part is newish as before, you could stay and watch the kids. We started going on the recommendation of a few parents at the little man's school.

Today, none of his classmates were in attendance and Little Man was pretty upset about it. I proceeded to hop around by myself with a sullen faced son looking on, complaining and saying he wanted to go home. My initial reaction would have been to storm out of there, child in town, stewing and slightly angered. I stayed calm long enough to assess that a little distraction, some joking around and a huge smile could be enough turn him around. Ten minutes later and victory. He even asked me to leave once the parent part was over. I obliged, grabbed some fruit and spied from above.

The whole scenario may not seem like a big deal, but for me, it was. See this post for background. If I had truly believed we would have been better off leaving, I have faith that I would have been able to do it in a constructive way. In taking a step back and taking a few deep breaths, I was able to resist my knee-jerk reaction and try something new.

I'm proud of myself. One day at a time.

My little monkey swingin' on the rings

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Crazy in Candyland

Boy the Swedes take their candy seriously. Did you know Swedes eat the most loose candy in the world? Pretty sure I've posted about the Swedish Candy Obsession in one of my earlier posts but it bears repeating. If there's one thing that's relatively cheap here in this country, it's candy.

Every grocery store has a wall of candy bins. The idea is to take a bag and fill up on loose candy from said bins, everything from Swedish fish to chocolate, gummies and more. The stuff's delicious I gotta say. The germs, with so many hands reaching in and out, are overlooked. Especially on Saturdays. Known as "Lördagsgodis" (Candy Saturdays), it's the day of the week set aside for kids (and their parents) to indulge guilt-free.

Candy is typically priced at around 79 SEK / kg (Thanks to Thomas for the correction in measurement). I've seen it on sale for 49. Well, today, they were celebrating something at our local supermarket. On a neighbour's referral, we took a trip for some shopping, pony rides and face painting (though Little Man decided at the last minute the make-up wasn't for him). Cheap Saturday entertainment. Little did I know that as part of the celebration, candy was on sale for a record 29.20 SEK/ kg. This is big folks.

People were swarming the candy bins, multiple bags in hand. Shuffling quickly back and forth between the scale to ensure they weren't over the 5kg limit per household. Staff were trying to keep supply in line with demand. It was insanity. Ok, insanity as far as a candy sale is concerned. Certainly not on the riotous scale of the recent sale at Target for some brand name that I think begins with the letter "M". But it was chaos as far as orderly Sweden is concerned.

Karamell Kungen (Candy King) is the name of arguably the best loose candy company here in Sweden. Actually, looks like this phenomena isn't a Sweden-only thing. I see the company also operates in Ireland, the UK and other Scandinavian countries.

Well time to pick some more plastiky goodness out of my teeth.

Glad Godis Lordag!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Behave Yourself! Part 1 of 2

If you're a perfect Mother, please raise your hand. Since no hands have gone up, happy to see I'm among friends.

I was raised by a mother whose love, I felt, was conditional upon how well I behaved.  If I minded my Ps & Qs, respected my elders (always addressed as Mr. & Mrs. no matter what they told me to call them), made exemplary grades and well, was a continued source of pride, all was right with the world. If I really thought hard about it, I could likely count each and every instance she told me, "I love you." Though the frequency has increased as she ages, it still sounds like a foreign language on the rare occasions when she utters those three little words. And I always cringe a little. I love my mother dearly and have accepted who she is. That said, I told myself I did not want to raise a son whose primary concern in life was to please his parents. Somedays I feel like I'm failing him.

Not everyday. Not on the days when I take him in my arms at the most unexpected moments and shower him with kisses and "I love yous". Not on the days when we're just plain silly together. Not on the days when I indulge happily in his love of animal books or sing "Thriller" at the top of my lungs in the car.

But on the day he broke down in tears when he spilled his glass of milk on the table, I knew I had failed him. "Mommy, don't be angry with me." It took everything I had not to break down into tears of shame at that moment. My loving, inquisitive, beautiful little being was upset because his automatic reaction to the spilled milk was "Mommy will be mad." I did that. I created that reaction. I know I did. And it makes me sad and disappointed in myself.

The other day, when riled up by the antics of the not-so-well-behaved neighbour boy, he pitched a toy at a painting on the wall. I cracked and suddenly let the stern "J-o-s-e-p-h!!!" fly from my mouth complete with face-tightening. He cowered and was on the verge of tears, apologies flying from his mouth. I recovered, quickly, asking him to please calm down (while asking myself the same question) and "we don't throw toys like that do we (insert rationale)?". The damage, however, had been done. To be VERY clear, he was not anticipating any physical reaction from me, but the fear of verbal disapproval.

Here's the deal: Throwing toys at things (the way he did) is not acceptable in this house. In fact, there are many behaviours that are unacceptable, particularly those that pose safety hazards. Bolting out into the street, running into a neighbour's house without knocking first, throwing a tantrum if he doesn't get what he wants (though we've never really had that issue), hitting/punching/biting other children/people in anger. I could go on.

However, I need to learn to teach/model behavior so that my child does not make decisions solely from a fear of disapproval. I have created that. I need help undoing it. Can you help me?

I love the little man my son is becoming but I want him to be his own little man, not the little man Mommy expects him to be. Even if it means he's not "well behaved". I don't want his primary motivation in life to be "gaining acceptance/approval". Not the way mine was for so long. And still is, to a certain extent. How is he going to have confidence to break the rules and take risks when he's older if he's afraid to do it now? Where do we draw the line between teaching them right from wrong (developing some form of moral compass) and giving them some freedom to grow? Ultimately, I need him to know to the depths of his soul that his Mommy does and will love him unconditionally.

This is part 1. Best to take this topic in baby steps...
ps. I keep reading this over and over again and wondering if I'm even making any sense or if I'm asking the right questions.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Joy Pockets #2

I really have to dig deep for Mon's Joy Pockets this week. It's been one of those hell weeks with the business and that usually translates to marriage strain as we work together to try and build up our little empire. But as usual, we always come through...that is a joy pocket itself!

The randomness and innocence of a 5-year old brain, "Why did God make Chinese people?" followed up immediately with, "Do hedgehogs live in Sweden?"

Pride (mine and his) in perfecting an Anteater drawing (with a sloth on his back!)
Great job little man!

Sitting through a two-hour parents meeting at preschool and understanding well over half of it!

Resisting the temptation of the junk shelf at home AND the apple pie and ice cream at the parents meeting.

My little boy's genuine excitement at new clothes, meticulously arranging them on the floor for display.

A friend's positive reaction to her family's sudden and severe financial loss.

The gift our dear Nanny T gave to herself (and to us!) by booking herself for a 2-week trip here.

Little Man pictured with his Montenegrin Nanny and her granddaughter, blowing out candles for her birthday, exactly 1 year and 2 days ago today :-)

 Share your joy pockets this week with me. And sign-up to participate in Joy Pockets.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

People of Sweden: Please Pick up your Sh*t

Any dog owners out there? Any dog owners who pick up their dog's poop on a daily basis? What about those of you who don't and leave other dog owners to grumble about it? I see lots of virtual hands going up.

Luckily, in most urban cities in developed countries, popular walking paths have little poop stops and even free poop bags, making the smelly minefields of years gone by practically a thing of the past.

Practically...You see, there's a huge, growing stink here in Sweden. And it ain't comin' from our four-legged back archers. My friends, please take a few deep breaths while you let this stink sink in...

People of Sweden: Pick up your own poop. If you read that literally, you read that right. Apparently, walk just slightly off the beaten path here and you could quite easily step in the poop of "animals" that (supposedly) have been potty trained.

And as you sit there and shake your head at the screen in disbelief, you've automatically rationalized that "these poor homeless people..." WRONG.

(Cue Sesame Street tune) These are the people in your neighbourhood. The people that you meet when you're walking down the street. The people that you meet each day.

The guy whizzing by in his super awesome Nike jogging ensemble. The girl with the tight uh, abs,  her long blonde pony-tail bouncing in step with her jiggle. That's right folks.

These people are pooping all over Sweden.

These are likely the same people that stoop and scoop their dog's logs but apparently don't brown bag their own.

"Honey, please make sure you use the potty before we go." This no longer only applies to those under 5. If you live here, you know how fit Swedes are. You see them biking, jogging, running and cross-country skiing. It's in their DNA. And apparently that DNA is forming fertilizer as I type.

I'm obviously not saying every health nut in Sweden has a newspaper and a wet wipe at the ready for their daily 10k. But enough of them do that it's a problem, so much so that signs have actually been posted in a certain park to remind people to "mind the dogs (who are eating and rolling around in it) and to please pick up their poop." Irony?

I heard about this phenomena from an old friend of mine over dinner this weekend. Not the kind of dinner conversation one hopes to be engaged in. Running can have that affect on people. Ok, I get it. When you gotta go, you gotta go. But for the love of all that is "normal", at least bring a bag! He said there was an article. He said he would send it to me. I'm waiting for it. When I get it, I will update this post. I could have waited. No, this was too juicy, to unbelievable to keep to myself.

Until then, the proof is in the pooping. And please, People of Sweden: Pick up your Sh*t. And People from countries where pooping is confined to porcelain, you're welcome for the public service announcement.

ps. If you know about this, please comment. I'm still in a state of disbelief until I get the brown envelope.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Joy Pockets: My Very First!

I really enjoy reading Mon's Joy Pockets over at Bohemian Twilight.

joy pockets

To quote my favourite Guru Mon, "No matter what is going on in our lives finding the little moments that bring us some joy reminds us what we are here for...

to love life.

I find that on a tough week, reminding myself of the pockets of joy puts everything into perspective.
On the great weeks, it's worth doubling the joy with a look back."

So here are my first, coming at a great time after a rough week.

Pride, from preparing my husband's newly favourite meal for his 51st birthday
Realizing I'm relying less and less on Google Translate to read and write Swedish

The pitter patter of sleepy feet entering our room at 5 every morning

Fresh flowers delivered by happy eyes

Sweet cinnamon tea with a sweet friend

Saying No to an unnecessary expense

And finally, This:

Share your Joy Pockets!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Over the Hill

In so many ways. Hubby turned 51. I told him he was officially over the hill and that we were gonna enjoy the ride "down" together :-). So far, it's been rather bumpy. I struggle to remember all of those motivational quotes that resonate with me lately. Try to figure out how I can apply them to our life. Don't get me wrong here. We have a great one. We're all healthy, we have what we need (and even some stuff we don't), a beautiful place to live, two great sons and a supportive extended family, and a job we're passionate about.

But sometimes it feels as though we're chasing that always elusive toy mouse. Just when we think we've caught up to him, he darts under the couch. How long will it take for that thing's battery to run out anyway? Because it seems like we're waiting for just that. For us, lately, it's been about the destination, not the journey. I need some perspective. I need a lightbulb or an Oprah-esque AHA! moment. Care to be the catalyst?

Not sure how much hard work has to do with "success" these days. No one I know works harder than my husband. Ok, I'm sure there are people but seriously, this man is a machine. Unfortunately, if he keeps going at this rate, the screws will loosen and the machine will malfunction. I feel helpless. No wisdom to impart, no real "help" to offer in the ways he really needs it (ok, I suppose I could be writing and editing some docs right now but I need my blog therapy).

My husband is passionate about what we're doing. He can get people excited and motivated. He will do whatever it takes. He's smart. He's charming. But he also can't do it all. He needs help and I feel lost as to how to help him. At the end of the day, I want the good guy to win. To get what he deserves. To be able to put his feet up (not fully, cuz he goes mad when he has nothing to do), to relax a little and to be able to say to himself, "I did it!" He has accomplished so much already and under crazy circumstances but he's not there yet. And I'm not referring to money.

Entrepreneurs are like Parents,  the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing your baby grow up and blossom into a wonderful adult. You know that you were instrumental in its development, its success, its beauty. You nurtured it, spent countless sleepless nights worrying about it, you were there when it took its first baby steps, watched as it hit milestone after milestone.

I want my husband, the Dad, the Entrepreneur to see his baby graduate, to swell with emotion as he looks back with pride. To know all the sacrifices he made, the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. He has done it as the Dad, he will do it again and he WILL do it as the Entrepreneur.

Faith, Hope and Love, Jenn xo

Monday, August 22, 2011

Kraftskiva: Crayfish Party and Shit Fish

Since my blog is titled "A Blonde in Sweden", thought I'd move past the blonde moments and focus a bit on the Swedish ones for this post.

Boy you Swedes sure have invented plenty of excuses to drink yourselves (and your foreign guests) into oblivion. From The King's Birthday to Midsummer, the summer itself of course, every weekend and now we have discovered The Chaos of Crayfish that descends upon Sweden just as everyone returns from the summer hiatus of July.

I still consider ourselves newbies here but this past weekend, we were invited to not one but TWO "kräftskiva's"...that's Crayfish for you non-Swedes. These parties involve a) Bringing and eating your own crayfish, pre-packaged and available at all the grocery stores b) Wearing funny hats and c) Singing Swedish drinking songs (for which lyrics are provided!) and shooting Swedish schnapps. d) Getting really drunk, and likely equally sick, which according to Swedes is due to the crayfish juice and whatever alcoholic beverage you're consuming not getting along in your tummy.

Me and the friend having a crayfish fight. Silly hats..check.

Optional: Cheese pie. But a special kind of cheese pie called Vasterbotten (sp?). It's yummy.

WARNING!!!!!! Please be advised that should you be attending a proper Kraftskiva, there will another "special" dish on the table. And it's not "special" in the nice way either. It's "special" in that other way. You'll know it. Not when you see it, but when you smell it. It's fermented herring "surströmming" and its scent is likely extracted from the EXCREMENT plant. "Eau de SHIT". As my hubby so lovingly commented, "The only good thing about this is that you can fart within a 50 meter radius and noone would know it was you." If someone says to you, "This is the shit." when referring to this traditional fish, they mean it literally.

One of these things is not like the other. I'll give you a hint. It's in the red can!!!!!!!!!

It was pouring rain during this first Kräftskiva and under normal circumstances I would consider the walled-in tent protecting us from the elements a welcome solution. Unfortunately, it was keeping the element in. Sorry, elementS as there were six cans of this whoop ass (again, take that literally) strategically placed on the long tables for all to uhmmm...enjoy?

Being the sports we are and no thanks to hubby's rationale of "There's no way it can taste as bad as it smells", we tried it. The idea is to grease up two pieces of flat brad, load some potatoes onto it and sandwich the fermented herring between them. Let's just say I will forever question hubby's rationalization skills from that moment forward. It.was.awful. So horrific that I had to spit it into my napkin, unapologetically I might add. I spent the next ten minutes flushing the taste sensation from my abused mouth with copious amounts of alcohol.

To be fair, according to Swedes, you either Love it or you Hate it. In my humble opinion, they need to bring back Fear Factor and put this on the menu in place of cockroaches and larvae. If I had the choice, bring on the bull testicles!

So, this was Crayfish Party #1. I refused to enter Crayfish Party #2 the next evening until I was absolutely certain red cans were nowhere in sight. I'm still having flashbacks...

You're welcome for the warning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bad Friend

It's been called to my attention recently, and rightfully so, that I've been a bad friend. And that got me thinking about all of you. Granted, I really don't know how many of you are out there but this January, I disappeared. And those of you who know me personally, reached out to me via Facebook asking what was up. I can only imagine how that must have felt, you regular readers getting a nice little "Access Denied" when loading my blog page. I know my first thought would have been, "Have I done something wrong?" The answer is "Nothing, I'm the one that did something wrong." I know fellow bloggers who announce an absence. I did not.

I owe you all an explanation AND an apology. I panicked when I found out that my well-meaning husband shared my blog address with a group of people this blog was not intended for and well, I shut it down until the smoke cleared. And then kept it shut down for 8 long months with nary an explanation or thought to those friendships I had developed here in cyberspace. And I have realized, thanks to this dear friend, that just because I can't see or speak to you personally, does not mean that you haven't been actual friends to me since I started this blog two or so years ago.

Many of you have cried with me, laughed with me and been there for me. And I too, had attempted to do the same for many of you. And then, one day, I discarded you all. And I'm so sorry.

The friend who called attention to my bad friend status had been a friendship that blossomed in cyberspace but also a person I had a physical friendship with. We had met, shared a wonderful day together and then for almost a year, we had little contact. My initial reaction when I read her email was to say, "Well, you didn't reach out to me either!" but if the shoe were on the other foot, I likely would have had her same reaction. "Is it something I said/did?" The answer is an honest "No." But the truth is, I left a beautiful, blossoming friendship without the nurturing it deserved and then I had the nerve to wonder how it could have died. And worse, try to "explain it away."

I've been thinking long and hard about how I could have let this happen. "I've been busy with work/parenting, etc." "They never reached out to me." "Sometimes you just drift apart". "Real friends can go long periods of time without speaking but when they do, it's like no time has passed." Excuses, excuses.

Having lived in two different countries in the last five years, I've gone through periods of loneliness, complaining about my lack of flesh and blood friends. You've all read the posts. Well, after 2 and a half years here in Sweden, I have developed some dear physical friendships but have ignored those more "virtual ones", the ones that sustained me and held me up during those periods of loneliness. And that's wrong and makes me feel sad, guilty and shallow. But it's not about "me, me, me" and how I feel and I don't expect anyone to pat me on the back and say "there, there". Not after this long absence. I don't expect anything in return for this post. But it is an apology. And it's up to all of you if you accept it or not.

I am asking for your forgiveness but do not expect it. Today I will reach out to those bloggy friends individually, who have been there for me and apologize personally.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your friendship.
Sincerity, Honesty and Love, SwedishJenn

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A letter to my son on his 5th Birthday

It seems kind of fitting that after an 8th month absence, I'm opening my blog back up with this post. The past several months I have been contemplating dusting off my little shelf in cyberspace but just couldn't seem to bring myself to do it. Until today. I'll try to explain my absence in my next post but until then...

My baby turned 5 on July 30 and this time, we were surrounded by our family back "home" in Canada to celebrate. In fact, we had two parties. One with hubby's extended family of Aunts and cousins on my stepson's 25th where we co-celebrated and another with the small group of us and my Aunt and Uncle on his actual birthday. Both days were filled with cake, presents, photos and lots of laughter.

You're a whole hand now. 5 years old. The past year has featured so many highlights including our Summer 2010 trip to your homeland in Montenegro for 3 weeks, Christmas spent in Sweden, a visit from our Russian friends, a slew of birthday parties, a weekly music class, another move to a better neighbourhood with some friendly friends, your very first performance at your school's end of the year concert (ask me if I cried with pride) and a month-long holiday in Canada (from Ontario to Nova Scotia, PEI and back to Ontario). And just a day after our arrival back home, Daddy and I surprised you by taking you to a beautiful zoo, Kolmården, here in Sweden. We told you we were going to the library and when we arrived you proclaimed, "But this is not a LIBAWEE!!!"

You're so much taller, your hair is getting darker (well except in the summertime when it lightens up), you still love anything chocolate and your passion for animals is stronger than ever. Everybody who has the pleasure of knowing or meeting you says the same thing, "He's such a great little boy!"

This year you've developed your own little spirit. You will tell someone if what they're doing bothers you. You cry only when your little heart has been injured, if a favourite toy is broken or if a friend hurts your feelings. It's hard not to cry when you do because your tears come from genuine sadness.

You surprise me with your sincere and unexpected proclamations, "Mommy, I like you." and are constantly questioning the universe so that I'm running to Google at least a few times a day. "Why does the wind blow the clouds?"

In so many ways, you're fearless. After a long time out of the water, you jumped right in to Nanny and Papa's pool and let me teach you how to doggy paddle, flat out refusing a floating device. When we took you to Canada's Wonderland with Nana, you went on every thrill ride they'd let you on. While I was screaming, you were laughing and shouting, "I want to go AGAIN!" I hope this quality stays with you as you grow so that you're never afraid to try something new. And I also hope I can learn to watch without being that freaked out helicoper Mom.

Our little Picasso. You have developed a love for drawing. It started with depictions of stick people with big heads and has progressed to full-out monsters and now farm animals. You get your artistic ability from your Dad, trust me on that. A year ago, we couldn't get you to make a line on a piece of paper and now you're colouring is even better than mine!

You're loving and thoughtful, often insisting on stopping off at the store to buy flowers for Mommy and hiding them behind your back for a big unveiling. Daddy can count on the doorbell ringing at around 4:30 when you arrive home from school for a big hello hug when he opens the door.

I love playing outside with your new neighbourhood friends and you definitely take after both of us with your outgoing nature. And still, we can always count on your sleepy body making its way into our bedroom early every morning for a few hours of snuggly sleep.

It's like I'm trying to remember every small detail, gesture, facial expression or new skill you've picked up just so that I can hold onto these memories and maybe, somehow, keep your fleeting smallness in my pocket for a little while longer. Your the best little boy in the whole wide world and we're so privileged to be the two people you call "Mommy" and "Daddy".

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's have a chat Nanny

It struck me today after chatting with my mother and my Grandmother via Skype: I've never had a proper conversation with my Grandmother. And she likely won't be on this planet for much longer. She's not ill. She's just old. When my grandfather passed in 2005, she moved out East to be closer to my mother and truth be told, to give my Aunt & Uncle a much needed rest from years of looking after them.

I have scattered memories of her:
- Her standing by the stove stirring a pot of chilli in the duplex she and my Grandfather shared for years. She always made chilli for us when we came to visit.
- "Jenny, looks like you've gained some weight." Yup, she ALWAYS commented on weight gain or weight loss. I used to resent it. Now, I just look back and laugh. She always tells it like it is.
- Her sitting by silently and dutifully while my Grandfather "talked politics".
- Blatantly ignoring a lady friend at her home, an old teacher I used to have. In fact, in mid-conversation, she came over, interrupted us and said above her, "Jenny, why are you here talking to HER? The dining room's about to open for lunch." I was mortified.
- How she handed me a pair of tweezers and asked me to pluck her mustache because, "Jenny dear, your old Nanny doesn't see so well anymore"...on my wedding day.
- Hearing how she was telling everyone at my brother's wedding that I was gorgeous and should have gone to Hollywood.
- Sears. She used to work at Sears for years. The sound those crinkly blue Sears bags used to make.
- Her smell. A waft of floral perfume mixed with baby powder.
- The $25 cheques we'd get in the mail for our birthdays.
- Hip replacements.
- The confused look on her face when, on the day of my grandfather's funeral, Hubby announced to my family that I was pregnant. She didn't have her hearing aid turned up and missed the whole thing. I had to go over and tell her while everyone was jumping up and down screaming.
- She's funny. I'm trying with all my might to remember some good Nanny quotes but they're escaping me. She's witty that's for sure. Oh, here's one, to my mother: "You better put down that piece of fudge...your waist is bigger than mine."
- Basking in the glow of victory as home resident after home resident stopped by our lunch table to comment on how well-behaved my 2 and a half year old was.
- Cheap and generous. They both lived through the depression and scrimped and saved to the point where they'd recycle coffee grounds and miss out on trips to save pennies. When my grandfather died, he had left her a small fortune. She made sure each of her children and grandchildren got some cash.
- Some kind of nervous breakdown she had back when her three children were young. For a time, they lived with a friend. My mother doesn't talk about it. I found out from my cousin.

She lived a life of servitude, to her husband and her Church primarily. And she's still going. And as each day passes, I miss another chance to sit her down and have a talk. Ask her questions. Find out more about her childhood, her life. God willing, I'll see her again in July. And at that time, I will take her aside, away from the joyful chaos that will be our family reunion, and I will have a chat with my Grandmother. Because after 34 years, I'd like to get to know her a bit better.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back at er'

This is the last official day of the holiday season here in Sweden. The kids go back to school tomorrow and that means Mommy goes back to work full-throttle. I'm so behind, I don't think I'll know where to begin. Been thoroughly enjoying the sleep-ins till 9 every morning too. Waking up at 6:45 is gonna be murder on all of us tomorrow that's for sure. But truth be told, I'm actually looking forward to getting back to the grind. Too much lazy time. Too many carbs, not all of which I've enjoyed.

In 2011, I have a lot to look forward to. A potential visit from Joe's dear Nanny. Another visit from our dear Russian friends and a long overdue trip home to celebrate my parents' 40th wedding anniversary with the whole fam-damily, which I am praying will include my first meeting with my new niece. Living far away from the homestead has its challenges, especially when both families live in different parts of the country as is the case with both my bro and I. Add a family wedding in September to the mix (for them) and coming home in July for our 'rents poses a logistical issue and some family tensions. Praying for them on that one.

My Creative Hubby has been playing in the snow an awful lot, as evidenced by THIS:

and well, THIS:

And the dragon has since acquired wings and the castle, flags cuz Little Man wondered out loud why each had neither.

The TON of snow we've accumulated in these parts since November is in meltdown mode right now, signaling the Christmas meltdown.

All good things must come to an end, to make room for the start of other good things.
Happy 2011 everyone! xo