After rain comes sunshine!!!

After the appointment, I am completely drained. Driving home after an entire day at the hospital with our young daughter yet again in a bed hooked up to IVs, is like a fog. The baby boy sure hated the experience as well. But with no childcare available I had to bring him. What an absolutely exhausting experience. Entering the freeway I’m pretty sure I hit an innocent squirrel- just pile it on right (I really really hope I didn’t but am afraid I did).

This whole winter/early spring has really not been the best, as far as springs go. I have had better starts of years…
I know I’m an incredible lucky and blessed person so I try to look at the positives, and look forward. I really am!

My brother comes to visit in late spring with his family and his brand new baby boy (first time auntie over here holla!!!) and makes it to my littlest’s first Birthday party. We have a ton of fun, I haven’t seen my brother in so long and to see him as a dad is truly special. I have a busy schedule during the weekdays with my kids but we manage to meet up with my brother and sister in law for dinner everyday. We also grab the occasional coffe or lunch and make a couple impromptu shopping trips. We cook together, drink wine on the patio, share stories, splash in the pool and enjoy the kids-the sweetest little cousins!

Since my three kids all have birthdays in a row-the spring pretty much disappeared in some semi-chaotic (but totally fun) party planning and execution!

Our baby boy gets a big jungle celebration (just like his brother did when he turned one) with jungle music, decorations, cakes, cupcakes and fun gift bags! We have a bouncy castle, yummy sandwiches and tons of snacks…and bubbles…plenty of bubbles. Our baby loves himself some bubbles after all (second to food only). I can’t believe he is one, how did this happen? Stop robbing me of precious baby time already (why do the years get shorter not only the older you get but apparently the more kiddos you have?).

Our princess just wanted her birthday with family, a low key day playing with her new toys (first barbie and first lipgloss-did I mention the years are rolling by way too rapidly) and then dinner, ice cream and balloon animals (flower) at her favorite restaurant. Only three years ago, I was terrified that she would be okay and just look at her now! A smarter, more charismatic, pretty, little decisive three-nager you may never see!! The following day is a Minnie Mouse theme day, spent with grandparents and a BBQ and princess cake very fitting for our very special sassy girl!

Our big boy is turning 6 (did I mentioned somebody messed with the time..turning the dial onto rapid…I know I did and I know it’s cliche BUT how IS he six?). He has requested a “creepy crawler” party and the NAT (Natural History) museum gets to host us and 12 of his classmates plus six other friends and a handful of siblings. All these kinder kids were so great for about 30 of the 45 minutes planned lecture about lizards and snakes but then they decided (apparently telepathically) to hit the dessert table, run into the projector screen, and draw on the white board-all at the same time. No worries though, after a dessert break (having dessert before sandwiches) we got to pet some live (gasp) animals, play some games (competed crawling in snakeskin anyone!?). Then we sang for and had cake/s with the lucky six year old. Excitedly he told us after the party that he made “a new awesome best friend”. Thinking it was a classmate we asked him whom this might be as he proudly announced that it was the museum employee that had helped with the party!

Summer is fast approaching (what happened to spring? But as I said the winter months leading up to spring were arguably sucky…I will share but am just not quite there yet…) so moving on feels now kinda great!

We have some graduations coming up after all our birthdays! And then our summer can officially start!!

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!

 

Quite Chaotic

Thanksgiving comes and goes in that rushed end of the year frenzy. I’m feeling calm and happy and yes, since you ask; just a little bit glowing!
I’m reaching the middle of this journey and can’t believe I made it this far and hoping that the worst is behind me; that from now on it will be an “easy” (never is, is it?) “normal” (ha), healthy adventure!

I feel hopeful and joyful and although life has taught me to be cautious I’m also allowing myself to think that maybe what people say is true; the third IS the easy one!

I feel grounded in the life plan (gift from above!?) to have another child and I feel better about my ability to do this with the help of my family and support of my friends. Yes, it will be difficult and yes I don’t have much help but I finally feel like I landed in the feeling that I can do this and that everything will be okay- good even. Kids are challenging but they are also quite awesome (I’m glad you didn’t ask me during my first trimester). I’m starting a better routine for my children and myself and start planning for a stricter (!) schedule for after the holidays and for the new year! Darling daughter will have to get a functional bedtime routine, a “big girl bed” and she will also have to sleep in it…alone…and all through the night!
Darling son will have to start eating FOOD…with real utensils…at meal times…
And drink out of a BIG boy cup (aka real glass…is anyone else out there tired of sippy cups!?)
Those are just examples and tip of the iceberg but you have to start somewhere!

Yes I know I will simultaneously have a kindergartener, a terrible two “potty trainer” AND a newborn (how is that for a plan)…so what?!? It will all be fine because it WILL- because it HAS to.

Jump forward from those very “small” concerns to the real stuff; my 20 week’s ultrasound!

My sister came as a wonderful birthday wish for a long weekend. Too bad we had to squish in some less than wonderful shoots (not the fun kind- the long needle kind) with some very unfriendly side effects (don’t ask…) and the big anatomy scan.
We are also currently in a state of chaos because someone decide to randomly put our house on the market just to “see what happens” (well we have a PLAN …sort of…) in the middle of pregnancy, a major trip to Sweden, CHRISTMAS and with two kiddos and a dog! You have no idea the work it entails to make your house ready for photos and a “virtual tour” as well as open houses! We have lived here over five years of puppyhood, babyhood, toddlerhood and preschool…eh hood!? After all…

It is a very very nice house but still the little fixes and to schedule them in the midst of cleaning, sorting and throwing while planning, hosting and attending holiday parties, dinners and functions is less than ideal. Did I tell you darling husband is out of town during this ?! Noo?? Well our planning is impeccable isn’t it! Did I also mention the trip to another continent?…and that I’m pregnant with worries such as preeclampsia, UTIs and “fluid level issues”. Yes, well okay… Maybe now you get it!? At least kind of/sort of!

Anyways I do my very best to welcome my sister “auntie” with open arms as do my children who are delighted that she is here for some fun and snuggle time. Little girl is finally ready for other arms to hold her (no more “only mommy” which is totally bittersweet) and little boy is an excited ball of energy (what else is new). We laugh, we eat and we do get some sister time to just re-connect, talk and be us which is quite amazing and totally worth the short trip (hopefully for both of us) in the middle of all the “life stuff” (we do use her as a sitter, drag her to doctor’s appointments and even to look at a house).

I’m worried about this big ultrasound, especially since no one can come with me and I feel vulnerable somehow doing it alone (I mean even my husband attended my other ones because this is the big important one where they check that everything is really okay! And sis who I would have loved to bring has to watch the kids who are not under any circumstances allowed…hmm) but shouldn’t have any reasons to. They have never seen anything (other than “IT”) before and my fluid level has been acceptable and cervix length good (again, if you don’t get it- no need to ask for clarification…no really!)
I still go in slightly anxious about it all but at the same time preoccupied with my sister being here, a house we are about to look at with great potential and all the holiday stuff (loving this time of year). Not preparing for anything our of the ordinary really…

Unfortunately it isn’t the underlying fears for what could show up at the ultrasound (as not seeing certain features or body parts clearly as my daughter’s spine or the fluid being too low) but something extremely unexpected- something a lot different…

Sisterly Love and Adulthood

Last week we made (the long overdue) trip to see my little sister (in my eyes she is still 15…or more like 5…but she is not anymore..). So much has happened in her life lately and is seems like I’m missing so much. Actually we are missing so much in each other’s lives and I can’t help feeling sad about it. I mean I know that is what happens and that its natural and even a normal, healthy progression of life but it doesn’t mean it’s easy.

We were once so close and I now treasure those years that we both took for granted, looking back we seemed to have it all but of course we were then too young and dumb to realize that. We grew up close but with 4 and a half years between us, she was always so much younger. In our twenties however the gap wasn’t so big and we started enjoying the same things.

The moment my sister decided to extend her summer trip in the sun visiting me to actually starting school here and moving in with me was one of my luckiest! We had years of fun, bonding time that neither one of us will ever forget. Sure it was the heartaches and the lack of money and the exams and some hardcore studying (partying) and numerous disappointments but overall it was our years in paradise. Basically no responsibilities, we were in our prime, pretty, blonde, smart, tanned, carefree and overall happy. Our biggest problems included “when will that cute guy call?” “where should we go out tonight?” “how to ace the next test”, “what movie should we watch?” “this dress or that one?” and “what to eat for dinner?”

It’s not like we just fluttered around supported and without ambition and goals, we were both in school full time and we both worked having rent and bills and “hobbies” to pay for (with tremendous help from our parents of course). How lucky were we to have each other? Sisters who didn’t only love each other because we were family, but honestly best friends! We seriously were almost always on the same page and got along better than anyone could or would have expected. We made new friends, bought and sold cars, saved up for special shopping trips, spent holidays in a foreign country away from the rest of our family, lived on little, cooked for each other and helped each other out with everything from school work to nannying to being the “designated driver”.

I went from completing my Masters program to starting my journey towards becoming a doctor of psychology while my sister worked on completing her bachelor degree in business by both working at the school and nannying. I went from nannying to internships to actually small but legit psychology jobs. We shared everything from food to jobs to laughs and most importantly friendship (and in some cases boys… kidding…sort of…).

Now we have been a part for well over five years first surviving her moving back to Sweden for a while and then to a completely different state- very far away while I met my man (had to stay for this one…) here and put down roots-becoming an American myself and everything!

My sister has been here of course but when you work and is a horse and dog mommy (read that right: my sister is not a horse…) you have REAL responsibilities you all of a sudden can’t ignore, it gets more difficult to leave your life for constant trips back and forth. When you get married, get a house, a dog and kid(s) – forget about it. We haven’t missed the huge stuff like her moving into a new house, my firstborn’s homecoming, my bed rest as well as random celebrations of Christmas and birthdays but it’s not the same as seeing each other and being there for each other every single day!

I get sad when I know I’m about to miss some crucial milestones in her life (me being older I know I pretty much have the big ones out of the way!) I was devastated that it took us a year to introduce my sister to my baby daughter… but I know that is life. As an adult you have to work and be responsible and you can’t just drop everything at the drop of a hat. I appreciate my adult life, I really do(wouldn’t change it for the world) and as a big sister, I’m immensely proud of hers!

I’ve always felt some responsibility in being the older sister and before I had kids (and even now I must admit) I worry about my little sister a lot, and I think about her and I naturally only want what is best for her! I can’t believe she made herself into the strong, ambitious and beautiful woman that she is today. Quite the careers lady with a horse and a dog to take care of, a house and a huge white truck!

She had planned an amazing stay for us in one of  the coziest and most charming little village part of her big city, where she now lives. With boat and bus tours for the kids downtown, amazing restaurants, yummy ice cream and treats and endless entertainment. We really, truly had a wonderful time (even the kids “semi” behaved. Me and my husband joked that a couple of days are plenty and very much enough with our kids- maybe you will even still like them at the end of the stay!).
The constant diaper changes (and blow-outs), car seats and strollers, wants and needs, potty breaks (and potty humor), picky eating, toys and tantrums wear you down after a while (but it’s good practice guys!)

Asking my little sister if she was ready for babies (and don’t you just love mine!!? – as they were running like crazy at a rather fancy restaurant) she looked at me with a (very) hesitant look, taking her time to answer…
– well maybe, I think….it’s different when you have your own!

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I just hope I can be there for her now as she embarks on the journey of “real” adulthood and all the huge and great milestones that lay ahead!

Love you Sis!

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