Christmas Magic

img_2766c1c91bc2-f84e-4545-ae8a-bdecc345a55c51db7a3d-a599-48be-bafd-f1b9ec9a0044img_2808img_2814img_2751img_2759img_2764img_2733img_27359da97ede-a66e-49f9-88e0-fdabc70f9a42img_2772img_2792img_2797img_2767img_2768So it’s Christmas and my oldest is really, really sick, poor guy. He has no energy and is burning up with an especially nasty fever (which is worrisome because we don’t know exactly what is the matter with him).

To top it off, our daughter has morphed into the spawn of… someone eh hm, NOT nice. In my silly naive mind I thought that the random displays of (what I now see was mild) tantruming behavior was IT for her terrible twos (I really thought it wouldn’t get worse). I considering myself lucky but also DUE for an easier two year old this second time around.

I clearly forgot that the worst year is NOT 2-3 but two and a half to three and a half and that the “treenager” (seriously) is way worse than the “terrible-two:er” and that it gets worse and worse (way worse before it get better). 2.5-3.5 is really a year of unnecessary parental exhaustion (read: mental breakdown) dealing with little kid-devils with their main mission being messing with your mind! They are so manipulative, calculated, smart yet evil at the same times as not making any sense…at all. They go from sweet and nice (still being “baby cute” and adorable) to needing an exorcist in a heartbeat.

The baby boy is still NOT sleeping through the night and seem to have been going back to the newborn stage of nursing around the clock and confusing day and night…

You know by now what no sleep DOES to this mama, I’m running on fumes, I need (need, need) my sleep!!!

This is the year that I of course have chosen (completely my own brilliant idea) to host Christmas! And don’t get me wrong I am excited, of course I am…

I want to show my in laws more of my traditions and customs and what I am used to celebrating Christmas growing up and I want to give that to my children as well merging my husband’s family traditions and the “American way” with mine and the Swedish!

To start it all off the stove top stops working and even if I prepped a lot of the food days before Christmas  (lots and lots of meatballs of course), I  still obviously need my STOVE and nobody can come out to fix it because, you know, it’s Christmas Eve…
And then there is a roof leak…in the kitchen. (Hi, welcome; don’t mind the precipitation…inside)…
We are late for church, unable to sit together with family and all three kids fall asleep during the ceremony.

Oh and I almost forgot, not because I’m a selfish, mean b*tch but because I literally have a million…at least a thousand…several hundred things to do (and mouths to feed, or so it seems) but my husband got into a little accident…

Well more of a “fender bender really” (yes the fender; is that what it’s called?? Got really really bent). I guess he had to urgently go get a really important (hmm, yes!) gift last minute (ya think!!??). Because you know he has so many gifts to take care of, so many names on that list, and so little time (read:me) and I just have EVERYONE ELSE (now there is a LIST). But all good, hubby is fine-the car not so much (we also just bought his car off of the lease…) but it didn’t exactly take away from the stress and chaos or add to the Christmas spirit!!!

It all turns out pretty great in the end with tons of Christmas magic with the help of family, Tylenol, many gifts, lots of hands to hold cranky babies and toddlers, an amazing Santa, a Croc Pot (full of meatballs, “prince sausage” and briskets) and a handy grandpa and tons of actually delicious food including great cold items (yes!) like smoked salmon, breads, crackers and cheeses and items that could go IN the oven like glazed ham and Jansson’s temptation (my very own favorite potato dish with breadcrumbs, cream and anchovies…minus the anchovies for me), lots of “glogg” (spiced wine) and yummy and decadent desserts curtesy of grandma!

After Christmas it’s hard not to feel slightly sad and kind of empty even as an adult. Christmas is truly a magical time of year especially for kids. But as a parent I think that you try to recreate that magic you felt yourself as a child. My parents sure bent over backwards to make sure all our Christmases were truly that, amazing, traditional and simply; Magical!!!

As a child I always felt low after holidays (vacations and summer breaks) and now I understand the anticlimax that follows Christmas for my own children. As a mom though you simply don’t have time sitting around feeling blue and as soon as school starts it’s go go go again!

This semester is way more serious than the last one – that becomes apparent right away! No more sweet, cuddly and forgiving teachers, no more “practice homework”, no more “volunteering is optional”. Spring semester in kindergarten here we come! Who is ready to dive in with us!?

Home for the Holidays

Hello, let me introduce myself; I’m …HUGE!

So we are back from our Christmas vacation in Sweden. Let’s just say that it was beyond nice to catch a break from reality and just be in the moment for a while. The moment of family, changed priorities and holiday spirit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always difficult traveling with little kids and the days away weren’t completely free from drama BUT the added grown ups to help and the amazing service of home cooked meals, laundered clothes and set plans were so welcomed and such a huge help I didn’t even want to fly back!

Even the one bedroom (my all pink, “old romance” style girl bedroom) felt like a relief from our house with different bedrooms, beds, bedtimes and major bedtime drama. On this holiday we pretty much went to bed and woke up at the same time- together. There is something said for bed sharing even if you get little feet in your face constantly and have to suffer through major jet lag as well as stuffed noses and lack of nighttime sleep (you see I’d pick that morning sleep over night anytime).

My parents had skillfully crafted fun plans outside the house (per my request not to have my rather wild kiddos destroy my parent’s beautifully and meticulously decorated house, and mine as well as everyone else’s sanity) and let me say they did great (both my parents AND my kids).

At our Glögg (there is that word again…remember the spiced, hot and sweet traditional wine!?) mingle with extended family, uncles and aunts and cousins etc, people actually were surprised how (get this) WELL behaved our kids were (making a lier out of me…boy, shouldn’t I just be satisfied!??)

We enjoyed a Christmas food buffet aka “a real Christmas Table” complete with the traditional glögg (mulled wine), Swedish meatballs (commonly just known as “meatballs”), all kinds of herring, “Jansson’s temptation” (basically potato gratin with anchovies), cheesecake (nothing like the American counter part) with cream and jam and of course ham, cheeses, homemade hard bread, eggs with mayo and shrimp and all kinds of chocolaty desserts!

We also went out in the middle of the pitch black woods (next time we’ll make sure to bring some flashlights) in our search of the real St Nicolas. It was the day before Christmas Eve (which is the day we celebrate Christmas in Sweden) cold, dark and crisp and impossible to even see the person walking in front of you. On our way to find Santa my darling husband thought my dad was joking as he told us he had no idea where we were going. Except it was the truth and all part of the mysterious adventure. There wasn’t any signs anywhere and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We joked that if this would have been where we live there would have been giant neon signs, stroller ramps, (or why not elevators), huge parking lots, fees for everything, souvenirs for sale as well as restrooms (or toilets, let’s call them what they are shall we!?) around every corner!
But this was truly worth every fumbling and stumbling in the darkness due to the excitement of the collective mission to find Santa. The chilled air held anticipation and our 4 year old’s excitement was palpable when we trekked through the deep woods, slipping on ice patches, roots and rocks only accompanied by the wind and the trees (oh and all the other people on the same mission). Our 20 months old wasn’t as upbeat (being carried as not to fall…and not by mommy) until she discovered the cozy cabins, the elves workshops, Santa’s sleigh and all the pretty candles that is!
we found HIM!!!

The old man “playing” Santa Claus (I mean Santa himself) is after all doing this year after year out of the goodness of his heart, only getting paid in candles!
This is one adventure I wouldn’t mind making a permanent family holiday tradition!

Christmas Eve came and went without a hitch with our very own Santa, baby acting as his very own elf, handing everyone their gifts (after the initial fright…well he did have to loose his beard…and tummy) and little boy extremely joyful about all the gifts and attention. Even the “dreaded” wolf dog (seriously), the one my brother lovingly “tricked” my parents to take care of (gave them a task during retirement after all) …behaved (he did have to go stay in the car for awhile…the wrapping paper and Christmas goodies were way too tempting). Everyone was cheerful and the warmth radiated through the house. I mean with three generations of opinions and wishes, two rowdy kids and two even rowdier dogs it’s not the easiest task. But we succeeded brilliantly!

Christmas Day was spent with extended family out in the true “country” where our son got to dig with a real tractor and operate a real crane- oh the joy. Just hanging with all the other boys (you can see how mama wasn’t part of that equation) while the girls did “girl things” inside was probably enough to keep him happy! Little girl was happily playing Barbies and “my little ponies” with my second cousin’s daughter and the adults got to talk and laugh about old times!

Other well -thought out activities included (to my husband’s excitement) an ice hockey game, shopping (actually for his work clothes), a Bamse (swedish cartoon) exhibit and the traditional family turkey dinner of course!.

Just like he got to go to the hockey game with the boys, sonny got to accompany his mom and grandma to the theatre. Even if the first act of Peter Pan was rather “expressive and theatrical” aka terrifying, the second act more than made up for it (as did the front row seats and all the candy). Overall a great evening as the snow slowly started falling outside!

Talking about snow, the kids were beside themselves as they had been waiting since we had landed. My son even had a presentation about all the snow he would play in in Sweden at preschool the day we left. Global warming didn’t help our case and neither did us begging the weather Gods but finally, finally the white fluffy stuff was here and the heavens were cooperating. There was enough for snowballs and half a snowman and tons of fun for kids and dogs alike!

We ended our perfect holiday in my homeland in our beautiful capital of Stockholm. The deep white snow was the backdrop for more adventures of the downtown “zoo” of Swedish animals, (only complaints from the two American “men” were the freezing degrees, despite borrowed Down jackets and last minutes purchased gloves… and a quick trip to the doctor with baby girl’s ears), museums, restaurants, cafes and movie night in my brother’s apartment. Him and his wife had orchestrated some great plans to round up our trip and as we left in the middle of the night in the cold, we did so with a smile!

Two years ago I was pregnant (about the same gestation) with my little girl and home for the Christmas holiday as well (my family joking that I’m always pregnant at Christmas!) and flying back to the chaos that is our reality is now bittersweet. We might move, there might be something wrong going on with this pregnancy and last time it felt like I hadn’t been back long after Christmas before being admitted to the hospital with preterm labor. I worry about the special ultrasound happening Monday, about packing up the house and all our other plans up in the air…

Let’s just say this, I’m happy and grateful about this holiday break from reality and look forward to someday introducing my country and all its traditions to my third baby!

 

Huge Christmas Trees, Potato Tacos and a little bit of life insurance…

We’ve had a busy week after coming home from my sister’s (the heat alone makes everything harder). I asked my son if he missed her and to my surprise he continue to answer no repeatedly (even if he cried when we left). So I ask again and he yells “NO mama, stop asking, it’s too hard to talk about”!!
He also keeps talking abut her house, horse and dog and now he even has a pretend horse and a pretend dog named the same names!

We had to get our dog back, we had to stock up the fridge and pantry, we had play dates and soccer and swimming. On Monday, I had to go to school to hand in grades and return final exams and had to bring both kiddos along, which was interesting with all the questions my son asked EVERYONE and how little my baby girl wanted to hang out in the baby carrier.
I had to go all the way back to get the stroller- turns out she liked that even less!

I manage to get all the paperwork in and books returned with the school still standing (two years ago my son tugged a giant Christmas tree down in the main office while I was still a student hoping to graduate- fortunately no one was hurt- unfortunately the giant tree WITH lots of ornaments took down a desk, a couple of chairs and some paintings off of the walls as it went down- I wonder why they declined our offer to stay and help clean up…!??) and everyone in one piece!

Since everything went so well and since we were starving I decided to make the (very bad) decision that we would have lunch right there in Old Town at an actual restaurant. I don’t know about your kids but mine are certainly not what you would call well behaved at restaurants (or any place where sitting down quietly for an extended period of time is required) so I’m not sure what I was thinking? Wait, yes I do!
You will think I’m crazy…but knowing how much I like potatoes…and Mexican food maybe you would understand! They have these potato tacos that are seriously to die for. I went to this little place several times when I was pregnant with my daughter- it was always like “dinner for two…” Or “two or more sets of plastic ware to go…?) nop! Just for ONE, at least I could indicate my stomach then and blame my pregnancy. Now – not so much but I was really craving them and we were right there…so…

Of course it ended up a disaster, the rice, the salsa…the guacamole… in the water fountain (ehm, yes!) and two kids wilder than ever. It was “check please!” pretty much as soon as we had gotten the food- despite my preparation of “chips right away”, apple juice (any measures) and a brand new dinosaur coloring book…
At least I managed to scarf down one potato taco (hey, they are just not the same heated up).

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On Tuesday I had my appointment with the insurance lady that I have been trying to avoid for quit some time. It just didn’t feel like a very fun thing to do despite the needed end result of life insurance (besides she sounded super rude on the phone- maybe because it was slightly difficult to get me scheduled). There was talk of blood draws and running on the treadmill, urine samples and  blood pressure readings. I guess that is all fine- pretty much what we women do on a regular basis during pregnancy, am I right!? (Well maybe not the treadmill- which in my case was the elliptical we have at home). But this “check-up” seems so nerve-racking like a test you have to pass and it is for something so depressing and unthinkable as life insurance. Who wants to even think of that? Especially when you have young children. But I guess it’s a necessary evil.

So I did schedule with the rude nurse even if I did “white-lie” (also called “flat out lying”…but I did feel bad…at least a little bit, I never lie) telling her we wouldn’t be back from my sisters until today- trying to postpone the inevitable. For a while before, I was convinced they would run all the tests on me and find some incurable disease, I actually could physically feel the fear of having to leave my children. I know I’m being ridiculous and ungrateful and a worry wart but everything is just so good right now (and I am actually extremely grateful) which is always scary… (Am I the only one feeling this way?)

Days before the date I had come to terms with it- I swear I really had (it was something that wasn’t to be avoided and it’s good to get the reassurance that you are healthy and getting life-insurance is the mature, responsible thing to do). So at the time of the appointment I was feeling fine until…I wasn’t

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