Saturday, November 29, 2008

Halloween the school version

I love this look on Lars' face from his school's halloween parade - he is so cute I could just mush him. His two buddies in his class are also in this shot: Jonah Cooper is in the back as Lightning McQueen As Sponsored by Dinoco, and Noah is the pirate just ahead of our Buzz Lightyear.
Now, this one does require some explanation, beyond the tarty pose...

Cecilie's school "celebrates" Christian Heroes day on Oct 31, which is all very honorable, with the added benefit for her of getting two outfits for dress up - so where most of her class mates went for a version of an angel she went for the ethnic choice of Santa Lucia (Scandinavians and Southern Italians have more in common than you think...) After all, she does have a long history in the role - what the vampy pose is for on this occasion, I really have no answer...
She really has no tartyness in her at all, just super sweetness
As I said, a bunch of angels mostly, which is sweet - my favorite angel is Gabriel (back row, left), but my overall favorite was Aslan (hidden by the fuzzy halo at center).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Quest continiues...

You might have noticed a distinct lack of Nilsen Family photos in the archives. There was one back in '05, when Lars was 3 months old, and then a slightly dodgy one around Christmas 06 with Torbjorn making an odd face, but in general we have had very little luck in getting everyone to look at the camera at the same time, much less look cute while doing it. And so, without further ado, we bring you........

Our Latest Failure

We're not talking abject failure: as individual photos, each element is pretty good. Yes, Cecilie looks like she took too much Ritalin, and Annika could look less terrified, but it's.... ok. But as a group photo? What a train wreck. It looks like we tried to make the outfits fight with each other! And excuse me, I know I have the cheeks in the family, but honestly, my head is not 4 times the size of Torbjorn's in real life.

The best part of this photo is the back story. This was intended as a photo for the church directory, and as such the 'studio' was set up at the church office. We forgot to show up for our 10am appointment, as we were in the middle of our Big Yard Sale, so they rescheduled us for 4.30. [I ask you: is there a parent out there who thinks they'll get great photos of kids at 4.30 in the afternoon? That is official Crazy Time around our place.]

So after a morning of Yard Sale-ing (from 6am to 2pm!), we try to get the kids down for a nap (big failure). We jump in the shower, we throw on some clothes. I slap on the makeup as we make the 3 minute drive to church. We are ushered in, and hoo wah, the circus begins.

Annika screams and lunges towards Mommy with every 'Say Cheese!'. Cecilie gives the Super Grin (specialty of most Eldest Children in the world) every time, alternating with fits of giggles. Lars does his best Kung Fu Panda pose every time we're asked to stand still. After 20 minutes of this, the photographer gives up, suggests maybe just trying Torbjorn & Kirsten together. We set Annika down carefully, propping her up on the back of a tiny bench. Little did we know, the bench was unsecured and before the flash can pop, she's fallen on her head w/ the bench on top of her, screaming bloody murder. To calm her requires an extended nursing session, with all the Olan Mills photo guys carefully looking the other way. We then get all lined up again, and in a big effort to stand the right way Cecilie manages to wipe out in a big dramatic fashion, taking half of the set props with her. Once she is calmed & checked over for broken limbs, we regroup and try One Last Time. We stand still, we watch Photographer do his best Silly Act to make the kids smile, Lars goes for the best Kung Fu Panda ever, and BAM. There goes Kid #3 on his head. By this point, Torbjorn & I are weeping tears of laughter, the photographer is completely bewildered by parents who laugh at their kids' misfortunes, and the kids are a mess. Time to call it quits.

Turns out, the pictures were as bad as we thought they were. The poor salesman trying to do the upsell ended up giving me a 'Military Discount' (I guess for my bravery in everyday combat?), and the photo above was the best of a very bad bunch. Even Olan Mills had to admit defeat in the face of the Nilsens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Halloween preparations

The Friday before Halloween we were invited to our neighbors, the Steffens, for some Halloween preparation and their famous spaghetti chili - we normally only get treated to this on Snow days...

Judging from this picture it would appear that we live way out in the country, not in the thicket of the Baltimore suburbs, our house is directly out of frame on the left here - I promise...
Stuffing scarecrows is not for the fashionista, she sat there watching, singing and telling tall tales
This one is suffering from a teeny tiny attention deficit...

...but the boys finished it off
Finished product - let me assure you, there are NO crows left on our street

Annika's baptism

The family gathered to celebrate the baptism of Annika on October 19

Serious business this baptism stuff... (Kirsten is hiding in the wings with the [wiggly] star of the show)
The Star took it all in stride...
...and was on her very best behavior throughout, when it was over she even gave the crowd a big smile and clapped her hands enthusiastically.

Pastor Ken and daddy agreed that the holding of baby would be one person's responsibility and that worked out just fine... (but you can see Annika giving him her suspicious look)

Sadly, no photos of the brunch afterward. Farmor & Grandma did a beautiful job of catering things, the flowers were gorgeous, the food delicious. There was a minor drama: the electricity went out just as guests started arriving, and that meant our main entrees weren't baking quite like they should. Luckily, we have friendly neighbors with gas ovens, and they were happy to bake the eggs for us. Sadly, this minor hiccup led to warm Prosecco and so we had to skip the bubbly.

I like to imagine that when we get through an event without any photos, it means that people are so busy living in the moment that they simply forget their cameras. The day was very happy, very meaningful for us as parents as well as for Annika, and just a lovely time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hangin' with daddy

Oh to be 10 months old, with not a care in the world, but the hanging on the monkey bars like big sister

How topsy turvy fabulous it is to be free bird

OK daddy, THAT was a lot of fun - let's do it again...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Company Picnic

To mix it up a little again, we now take you back to the second weekend of October and the company picnic.
Don't let this seemingly civilized group of people fool you...
...we all go nuts in the bouncy castle...

...and on the volleyball court...
...but we get wildest of all on the dance floor!

Rocking out!!!

The Macarena can be a challenge for even the cleverest...
Rocking out with face paint...

...and we never tire of TRYING to have a family portrait taken...

Friday, November 14, 2008


It is easy to take family for granted. That your mom will call every morning to check in. That your Auntie Deb who sends you Mallowcreme Pumpkins every Halloween will always get the sugar in the mail. That your niece out in California will always melt your heart when she calls you 'The Mom', instead of Auntie Kirsten. That your Uncle John is consistently able to charm a roomful of people, and then when saying goodbye will always sidle up to the dishwasher and say 'oh Honey, leave that, I'll do it when I get back.' That your Aunt Karen makes the best roast beef in all of creation - seriously, you remember it from when you were 8 years old. That your brother & his wife would be delighted to see you if you should call in the morning & ask if they want visitors in say, 2 hours.

What I took for granted most recently was that I would have the chance to invite my cousin Ben over for a movie night. That I would seize on the fact that he lived less than 5 miles away, and get him over here for a dinner or something. Right after I got this nose wiped, that dishwasher unloaded, this kid picked up from a friend's house.

And then on Tuesday I got the news that Ben had died in the night. Very suddenly, very unexpectedly. And just like that, all of the chances are gone.

So with a heavy heart, I prepare for the funeral tomorrow. I believe very much in the Ecclesiastical version of a 'Season for All Things', but I don't believe that there is ever a season for parents to bury their children. As a mother, my heart will break for my Aunt Karen and Jim, and for Larry Rochester & his wife. My heart will break for my cousins, Ben's brothers & sister, as they hug their kids tight and mourn the loss of sharing those kids' lives with Ben. My heart will break for my dad & his brother, as they mourn for their nephew who was so gentle, so funny, so smart. And in my own small way, my heart will break for me, for this week I lost a cousin. A cousin I didn't see enough, didn't know well enough, but yet knew so well he was a literal part of my life's fabric. And now, always, there will be a hole.

Got Milk?

Spoiler Alert: This post may be just a little Too Much Detail for those of you who don't care to reflect on the nutritive value of my mammary glands. I'm just saying...


Every kid is different, I know this. I have learned enough in this parenting gig to know that I don't know much, but I do know this.

Cecilie was a slow starter, but OH, once she got going? A champion feeder. That kid fed EVERYWHERE, anytime, all the time. My most vivid memory is of feeding her - standing up - on a bus in Rome, at Christmastime. (To be fair to the Romans, a nice gentleman did stand up & give me his seat, despite having the Best View On the Bus.)

I went back to work when Cecilie was 6 months old, and at that point she was eating huge amounts of food, all kinds of food, drinking out of adult cups (with mixed results) but refusing all formula, all bottles. She accepted no substitutes. All the Mommy-book chapters on 'Back to Work' essentially advise just staying the course, that eventually they'll come around. Not my girl. I faithfully pumped, with a hand pump, in a front lobby bathroom (as it was the only private restroom in the building!). Twice a day, EVERY day, I pumped. And nary a drop was drunk. But at night, hoo boy. Cecilie had an all evening feeding frenzy. When I got home at 6, she'd feedfeedfeed for 30 mins, and then eat her supper, and then feedfeedfeed for another 30 minutes at least as she drifted off.

Needless to say, I was able to nurse this crazy special girl for a long long time. 13 months long, ending the very week we moved back to the States.

Then there was Lars. A good size baby, a great feeder from the start. We had a few issues, but quickly figured them out & I was pretty confident I'd cracked this whole nursing lark. Clearest memory feeding him? On a speedboat, in the middle of Deep Creek Lake, in a rainstorm.

And happy it was, right up until 8 months when I went back to work suddenly. Another kid who wouldn't take a bottle, didn't think formula was The Formula for him. But being the easy going Middle Child he is, Grandma pretty quickly convinced him that bottles were the only drinks he'd be getting. Lucky for everyone, because I worked L-O-N-G retail hours and barely got home by 7 to feed him to sleep at night.

Again, there was the twice a day pumping. On the upside, at least this time I had an electric pump. On the downside, I was pumping in the backroom of a v-e-r-y chic furniture store. And then schlepping all this gear back and forth on Metro. Faithfully faithfully I did this, even in the face of ridicule from the young & fabulous gay guy I worked with. And then, by accident, someone at home spilled the beans: Lars was actually drinking formula for most of the day. There just wasn't enough milk. So much for bringing home the bacon....

From that day, it got harder and harder to keep giving it the old college try. Combine that with the profound guilt of being at work full time? Breastfeeding was a program that got Canceled Due to Lack of General Interest (on Lars' part).

Annika was going to be the Golden Feeder. The full-size, hit-the-ground-running, 3rd-time-around-Mom-must-be-an-Expert! Feeder. Again, a few hiccups to start, but we did pretty good. I didn't have the endless hours to sit & nurse like I did with Cecilie, I didn't have the 24/7 support of living with grandparents like I did with Lars, but we muddled through. It meant early-morning feeds with kids climbing all over the rest of me, it meant buying some unneeded toys at Target to ensure they stayed in one place whilst feeding in the cafe, it meant occasional total mayhem in the bathtub while I tried to nurse Annika at night.

No crazy Extreme Breastfeeding stories for her, I don't think, unless you count the sheer VOLUME of places I've fed her over the last 10 months.

There was the whole Allergy Drama, but even that didn't really put a damper on things. I was truly okay with giving up the eggs & dairy, because it helped me learn what I'll need to do for Annika. (Didn't hurt that I lost a fair few pounds skipping the cheese omelets either.)

To cut a rambling & pointless story short-ish, we did ok, my Baby and me. I didn't go back to work, I've been around to feed her whenever. But she's our third: a bottle is no big deal, being left with Grandma/Farmor is not that unusual, if Mom is out of time & can't nurse before we pick up Cecilie, then I'll just have to wait for another 20 minutes. As any experienced mama will tell you, when you stop paying attention, things start to slide. She started waking up - lots - at night, and losing interest in nursing in the day.

I'll be honest, I know she's my last one, so I was ready to feed her for as long as she wanted. However, there comes a time where I won't win any awards for being up all night with her. So I'm throwing in the towel, folks.

This has made for a bittersweet season for me. Every time I can get her to nurse, I try to memorize every detail, in case this might be my very last memory of nursing my kids. I'm making every effort to be present in this shift from mothering babies to mothering Big Kids, and treasuring for the last few days that tiny hand pat-patting my chest or reaching up to stroke my hair as she drifts off.

What the fridge said

Since last time, the fridge has been focusing on the season -

It didn't scan very well, but the Rossetti quote reads:
Before green apples blush,
Before green nuts embrown,
Why, one day in the country
Is worth a month in town...

-Lars' entry in to torn paper and gluestick...

Next time, prepare for the christmas clean up...

Monday, November 10, 2008

The littlest princess

Annika is gaining in confidence and before long she will be off and running on her own
I was lucky to come across one day at the bottom of the stairs, being just simply gorgeous...
Posted by Picasa

Waterford Fair

Our faithful readers will know that checking in on Nilsen Life is like travelling through time. Today we'll take you to the first weekend of October...

One of our most favorite family traditions is the Waterford Fair that in it's 66th year provides for "the best three day country weekend ever!". The event consists of 155 artisans, many of national recognition, demonstrating techniques of traditional craftsmanship. Additionally, many of the village's federal brick houses, spacious Victorian homes, simple Quaker buildings, barns, Civil War and Quaker cemeteries, an old mill and a one-room schoolhouse are open to the public. (Yes, I ripped that off the website...)

The kids got to hone their rug weaving... decoration painting...
...and miniature broom making skills...
And also got to try their hand at some old fashioned grinding...
...and tractor riding
It is hard work living on a farm in the the 1930s... even need two to operate the equipment sometimes
...other times all you need are stilts

The picnic was almost as idyllic as the woodwind quintet in the background would suggest
For all I know the kids will have absolutely no recollection of all this when they grow old, except an embarrassing blog entry - so be it!
Related Posts with Thumbnails