Saturday, May 31, 2008

Notes from Sweden

We're interupting our normal programming (that is, Soren) for a brief word from our sponsor (that is, me). Sweden has been great so far. We wrapped up the conference on Friday morning. It was a good meeting. Makes me very happy that I've joined this new company.

On Friday, I moved to a hotel downtown Gothenburg. We have one last day of meetings on Monday and so have the full weekend to explore. It has been gorgeous weather - sunny and about 85 degrees! It has been ages since I've been to Europe in the summer. I'm going to need to rethink that in the future - the past two years we've come in the Fall. The off season is much less crowded and also less expensive. But the summer is awesome! All the little sidewalk cafes are such a delight. I don't think I've eaten inside all weekend!

I spent Saturday exploring Gothenburg. I took a boat out to visit Alvsborg Fortress, went on a tour on the canals of the city, and then did an open top bus tour around the city! It was a great day!

It seems that we weren't the only boat heading out on such a great early summer day. Look at all the boats pouring out of the Gothenburg harbor:

You'll see in this photo that some of the bridges on the canal tour are quite low. At one point we went under a bridge called The Cheese Slicer. The guide announced that we'd all need to get down on the floor of the boat so that we didn't hit our heads. I just started laughing - you can see in the photo that the boat was packed! I didn't think there was any way they'd do a tour where all the participants actually had to get down on the floor. But, sure enough, all the people just dropped down to the floor, ducked their heads, and we passed safely under the bridge.
This is a retired ship that is now a restaurant.
Here's the fortress.
Funny story: on the way back from the fortress we were waiting for our ferry which was due in any minute. Sure enough, a boat pulls in and people started getting aboard. We jumped on and then as our ship was pulling away from the dock we noticed that our original boat was also pulling in and loading passengers. Hmm, we wondered...exactly where are we going? We asked one of the employees and she said "Aren't you with the car company?" Seems we had crashed a company party! Anyway, they were able to drop us off back on the mainlaind where we caught a tram back to our original destination!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Modern Communication

I arrived in Sweden today. It was a long but uneventful trip. I tried a new technique of fasting for 16 hours and then having my first real meal at the same time as it would be breakfast in Sweden. I heard about it on NPR on Friday and thought I may as well try it. The fact that I am typing this at 3 a.m. gives you an indication of how effective it was. Sigh. I was awake for about 24 hours for the trip, slept for about 3 hours and am now wide awake.

It appears to be starting to get light already and I even hear the birds starting to sing outside my window. Looks like they have some long summer days here!

Peter and Soren went to visit my family in Michigan while I'm gone. I'm so glad they are there. It is going to be very hard to be away from Soren (and Peter, of course!) for 8 days while I'm here. So, knowing that they are in Michigan having so much fun with grandpa and grandma makes it much easier for me to be away.

Peter bought me a Web cam for my birthday so that we can talk via video while I'm gone. It is awesome! One of the benefits of jet lag too is that I happened to be online at the same time they were I could say good night to Soren before bed.

Soren thinks it is really fun to watch himself on the video (he can see a window of himself, as well as a window of me). He pops his head up and down to appear and disappear.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now Accepting Applications to Soren's School of Charm

I put Soren to bed the other night as usual. Peter was out mowing the lawn and I went to work on the computer. About an hour later Peter drives the lawn mower into the garage and finds Soren out playing with his cars and chalk in the driveway! Soren immediately went up to Peter and said, "Thanks for mowing the lawn, Dad. You did a really great job!"

Peter, of course, was wondering just what Soren was doing wandering around outside and asked, "Er, buddy, aren't you supposed to be in bed?"

Soren continued smiling and complimenting his Dad. "Dad, it is very helpful when you mow the lawn. Sometimes I trip when the grass is long, but now I won't trip."

Peter wasn't distracted quite so easily. "Soren, shall we go ask your mom what's going on here?"

And Soren knew that absolutely no good could come of mom getting into this discussion. "No, Dad, I think I'll just stay playing right out here!"

Good-bye Teacher Jane!

Today was Soren's last day of his Toddler Time class. He's been going once a week all year. The class is about 2-1/2hours and the parents stay during the class. They do lots of free playing, and some crafts and songs. He loved it! The playing and activities were lots of fun, but mostly he just loved Teacher Jane.

Peter took Soren to most of the classes, but I did have a chance to go a few times. I was stunned at what a little Teacher's Pet he was! LOL! Most of the kids would play independently or stay close to their mom. But Soren during circle time Soren would rush right up so he could sit next to the teacher. Whenever she called for volunteers, he'd be the first to volunteer. He adored her!

I'm sure he's going to love his next teacher, but I think Teacher Jane will always hold a place in his heart as his first teacher.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

One of the Many Reasons Dads are Great

Whenever we see a police car, ambulance or fire truck zooming down the road with lights flashing and sirens blasting, Soren will always ask the same question. And here is how it plays out when I answer it versus when Peter answers it.

Soren: Mom, who is that fire truck going to help?
Me (after thoroughly looking around for signs of smoke, accidents, or other random emergencies): Sorry buddy, I can't see anything. Maybe there is a building that is on fire somewhere.

And here's the Daddy version.

Soren: Dad, who is that fire truck going to help?
Peter: What? Oh that fire truck, he's going to help a man who was burning a big pile of leaves and then the wind came and blew it all over the place so there's a big fire blazing in the field.
Soren: Oh, and then who is he going to help?
Peter: Well, after he's done with that he's going to go across the street and help a very tiny cat who fell into a hole. He's going to scoop her up and wrap her in a blanket and give her a big bowl of cat food because she's really hungry.
Soren: Oh, and then who else is he going to help?
Peter: Well, after that he's probably going to start heading back to the station, but he might see a tree that is starting to tip. So he'll stop the fire engine and help a man cut the tree down safely so that it doesn't fall into the road and smash a car.
Soren: Ok. Then who else is he going to help?
Peter: Then he'll probably go past a big truck that smashed into a building. He'll help the man out of the truck and make sure that he isn't hurt too badly. Then he'll help the other men pull the big truck to a safe place.
Soren: Oh. And then who is he going to help...
(you get the idea...)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Soren's Three Year Pictures

I took Soren to get his 3-year old pictures this weekend. Calling them his 3-year old pictures implies that I'm remotely systematic about getting these done annually, which is certainly not the case. I think the last time we did it we did the 20.5-month pictures (and we all know what a big occasion that is. LOL.)

Peter jokes a bit whenever I take Soren to get these photos done - "Do you really think he needs more photos taken of him?" (If you haven't noticed I tend to take kind of a lot of photos of the kid.) But I just love getting them done professionally every now and then.
You'll have to forgive the giant ZAZZLE across the middle of the images...that is just on the pictures to keep me from stealing them and printing them myself I suppose.
He was so helpful with the photographer. He'd move and pose however she told him to. It usually resulted in a really oddball pose (arms wrapped around shoulders and such) but he'd finally get to something that looked pretty decent in the shot.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Asparagus Season!

Oh happiness, it is asparagus season! Peter insists that this is the year that his supply will outpace my demand. I said it isn't possible. I love aspargus! But I'm actually starting to wonder if he might be right. Today I had asparagus for lunch. Only asparagus. I'm stuffed, and we still have a pile of it left. The below photos show how much asparagus we had today, and this is after giving away everything on Friday. It has been incredibly hot here lately and it is growing 6 inches a day!
You'll see how enormous some of the stalks are. Surprisingly they aren't woody at all. They are just thick and juicy! Wow. The fat ones have become my favorites.
Soren loves to prepare it. We lay it all out on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil and garlic salt (that's the part he likes to help with) and then bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes. Perfection!
If anyone wants to harvest a batch come on over! We have plenty to share.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How Germs Work

Soren and I have a cold. Actually, it is good news, because on Sunday when I saw his runny nose I was sure that he was showing signs of seasonal allergies. So, it being a cold at least means he's likely off the allergy hook for a little while longer. (I've heard that kids who have both parents with seasonal allergies have like a 70% chance of getting them. Sigh.)

Anyway, we've explained to him a little bit about how germs work. They come in your body and make you a little bit sick, then when you eat good foods or take medicine those things go in your body and say "scram you germs!"

Here is this morning's breakfast conversation:
Soren: Mom, are those germs having a party in my mouth?
Me: Yes, I think they are. We've got to get those germs out of there so that you don't have a cold any more.
Soren: How did they get there?
Me: Well, germs get there lots of ways...sometimes when you touch things and don't wash your hands before you eat the germs might come in on your hands. Or when people sneeze but don't cover their mouth, they might blow germs in the air. Or by kissing, sometimes germs come by kissing.
Soren: Oh. We kiss a lot.
Me: Yes, we do.
Soren: Maybe we should kiss only one time.
Me: But I love kissing you lots and lots. Every day. I don't mind if I get some germs because I want to kiss you so much!
Soren: Want to play trains?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ode to O’Hare

I’m actually onboard at the moment. Flying home from Chicago. Business trip. I’m comfortably ensconced, cross-legged actually, with my lap top on my lap. I’ve just had tasty breakfast of fresh fruit and have finally decided that there just really isn’t one other thing that this amazingly attentive flight attendant could provide me. I’m in first class. Ah.

The wonder that is O’Hare airport came through again today. Another overbooked flight. Another call for volunteers willing to give up their seats. Me stepping up to the counter (ok, flying across the room shouting “pick me! pick me!”) and walking away with a few hours of delay in terms of getting home, but a first class upgrade for my flight, plus a free United ticket voucher.

This is something like the 4th or 5th consecutive time through O’Hare where we’ve come away with a slight delay rewarded with free tickets. And, now more than ever, I’m so grateful for them. My new job looks like it will have me travelling more than before and I’d like Soren and Peter to accompany me on as many of those trips as possible. Free tickets here and there really cut down on our travel costs. Thank you so much United!

First class is always nice of course, but I have to say that I appreciate it so much as a mother of a young child. Some quiet time, with people just wanting to serve me tasty snacks is so appreciated nowadays.

Actually, this whole trip has been like that. It was a fairly last minute trip (i.e., expensive flights) and short (i.e., not really worth paying for Peter and Soren to come) so I came by myself. And while I of course do miss them and I have really worked my tail off while I’ve been here, I have to admit that having two days all to myself has been heavenly. (I see all my mom friends nodding along!)

I stayed in a gorgeous hotel and had a suite all to myself. My first impulse was to wish that Soren and Peter were with me to enjoy it, but then I decided to just revel in the alone time. I ordered room service for breakfast (which came with lovely flowers on the tray), I ate out in a charming sidewalk café on a warm sunny evening before heading to the theater. I picked up an excellent seat for Wicked and was awed by the talent of the Wicked Witch. Spectacular.

So, I’m on my home to my beloved boys now. I’m tired from the long work days, and yet also refreshed from all the time just being by myself. Now, maybe I’ll just trouble that flight attendant for one more cup of tea.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

Remember how I said that Soren loves the Sound of Music soundtrack? Here are some samples:

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Perfect Sunday Afternoon "Hike"

Soren likes "hiking", even if it is only in the hills of our neighborhood. It is times like this when I can so clearly see that he is his father's son. Love it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Soren's Fake Birthday

Well, you'll see that I posted Soren's Happy Birthday video two days after his "real" birthday. This year we moved his birthday! We had his party planned for May 1st and thought it might be confusing to have two different birthdays, so when April 29 rolled around we just didn't tell him it was his birthday. I have to say that felt pretty crummy to have this special day and not even mention it, but yesterday it was all worth it. It was great to wake up and start all the fun birthday events and conversations. To start off the day I borrowed a tradition from my friend Katie - I told him the story of the day he was born. Here's the story:

Once upon a time Daddy said "Mommy, I think we need to have a boy in our family." So, mommy thought about it and said, "Yes, Daddy, let's have a boy."

So a tiny, tiny baby started growing in mommy's tummy. It got bigger and bigger. Every day daddy would ask "Mommy, is today the day for Soren to come out? I am so excited to see him!"

But, babies take a very long time to get big enough to come out and so Mommy would answer "Sorry, Daddy, not today."

The next day Daddy asked, "Mommy, how about today? Is today the day for Soren to come?"

But Mommy said, "No, sorry, today is still not the day for Soren to come."

The next day Daddy, who was so very excited to play with his boy, asked again "Mommy, is Soren going to come today?"

And this time Mommy answered "Yes, today is the day. I think Soren is going to come today."

"Yippee!" shouted Daddy.

"Hurrah!" shouted Mommy.

They were both so happy that Soren would be coming to their family that day. Daddy drove Mommy to the hospital to see the doctor so that she could help Soren be born.

"Doctor," said Mommy, "Today is the day for Soren to come out. Will you please help him?"

So the Doctor helped Mommy, and Soren came out! Everyone was so happy and so excited!

"Look," said Mommy "My wonderful baby boy Soren is here!" And she held him close and snuggled him up.

"Oh, I love him so much," said Daddy. And he leaned over and gave Soren a big hug and kiss.

"Welcome, Soren," said Mommy and Daddy. "We are so glad you came to our family!"

Thursday, May 01, 2008