Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Interesting Question Asker

Reading time with the kids tonight: the books of choice are Cinderella and I Drive A Bulldozer.

C: Did George Washington have any girls?
M: Ummmmmmm....maybe?
C: Is this Cinderella story set in George Washington's time? Because I think the clothes look the same. Especially Cinderella's dad. I mean father.
Moving on to the bulldozer book then. Should be much more straightforward.

Relatively simple narrative complete, we arrive at the final page, where the reader is required to identify all the parts of the machine, and highlight the 'factoids' about bulldozers.

C: Mommy, what's a hydraulic? How does it work?
M: You know what Cecilie? You have asked a lot of really interesting questions today. I will check it out tonight on the computer so we can learn the answers tomorrow.
L: [in his quiet little way] Well... what I want to know is how those levers makes the hydraulics work.
C: [totally outraged, and genuinely wounded] LAAARS! You are not allowed to ask interesting questions! I'm the Interesting Question Asker!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Suburban Drama #6,793: In Which I Mortify myself entirely

I should have remembered the warm weather before I started swearing.

You may be aware (by Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Pigeon Post, Chinese Whispers or simply me shouting it from the rooftops) that I have a fine new door. It has a fine Baldwin handset on it, complete with a fine Baldwin Full Mortise Lock. What this means is even when one has opened and shut the door from the inside several times, the handle on the outside remains locked unless you press a tricky little button inside the lock mechanism.

I have been stuck outside on my front porch a fair few times, since the door was installed in March. Luckily, we are the sort of family who throw the sashes open with abandon, and as such I can often find a ground floor window to crawl through, or find a husband with a spare set of keys. But last Thursday, when Cecilie locked me out as we prepared to take off for the zoo and I realized the window right next to the front door was open (thereby negating the incredible security of the new lock), I resolved to be better at locking all the windows. And lock lock lock I did - checked the locks on all 12 of the downstairs windows.

This morning Cecilie had to be picked up from school at 10.30 and we were heading straight from school down south to Grandma's house, as she & the kids were headed for dentist's appointments in the afternoon. The timing was tricky - had to keep Annika awake until time to go to school, but then knew she'd sleep just enough on the way down. At 10 I got Lars to turn off the 729th viewing of Robin Hood to get shoes on. At 10.10 an acquaintance called to invite us to a cocktail party. At 10.15 I was hanging up the phone, having put all bags/purses/diaper totes/soft blankets out on the porch during the phone conversation. At 10.17 I slammed the door behind me, went to grab the keys out of my purse, and They. Were. NOT. THERE. Not in the diaper tote. Not in the kids bags. Not on the porch floor.

Really, I should have remembered the warm weather before I started swearing. Because dear reader, I hate to offend your sensibilities, but I did swear. And swear and swear and swear.

And then it started to rain.

Here is what I knew: we would now be late to get Cecilie. The extra car key was also inside the house. The other housekey was in a different state altogether, with Torbjorn. All the ground-floor windows were carefully shut and double-locked. Annika was now very tired and would starting weeping any minute. If I got a ladder out to climb in an upstairs window, my 4-yr old and 16-month old would be right up the ladder behind me. And nope, no neighbors have any extra keys. It's a new door! (ish)

Stopped swearing. Called school, let them know I'd be late and hung up quickly before I could hear Cecilie dramatically lamenting whether we'd ever get into our house ever again? Went around the back of the house to get the ladder, with Little Miss Pink PVC Raincoat Jr. close on my heels. Dug out the extension ladder from the pile of rotting autumn leaves, set it up against the house, and considered my ascent.

Luckily, the ladder set-up was as noisy as my swearing. My kindly but very reserved neighbor (who actually grew up in my house), a man of few words, wandered over to the fence, asking now what's all this racket about? I sheepishly explained my predicament, and in his taciturn way commented, well now, whenever I worked on the roof I always set up on the high side of the house. As in, DUH little lady, you're trying to use your dumb ladder to get in the highest window in the house. So I pick up the ladder, carry it around to the other side of the house, and sure enough, if I set it up against the porch roof, it's a mere ladder & a half high, instead of almost 3 stories. Like physics was ever my best subject.

Meanwhile, the third section of the ladder was left against the side of the house, and I hear my neighbors wife calling through her open window NO ANNIKA! Don't you go climbin' up that ladder! No NO baby, don't you GO up there! Little Miss Raincoat was three steps up in the time it took me to run back around the house and pull her off the rungs. Add that to her list (for the DAY) of narrow misses.

Back to the problem at hand. I have these cute little leather slides on, instead of the usual mom clogs, so I kick those off and bravely insist that I will climb up the ladder, onto the porch roof and attempt to break in to my own bedroom windows. But this then means my neighbor has to hold Annika, who is not at all sure she likes him, no matter that he is our Great White Hope at this point.

So in the rain, in bare feet, I try the first window. Locked. Second window: locked. I start to get a little nervous, and irrationally irritated at our rash & sudden window locking exercise. The third window was mercifully unlocked, and as I folded all six feet of me through the opening and the wood blinds, I thought to myself: surely this scene could not get any more mortifying.

Meet Steve downstairs, he hands over a traumatised Annika, and he says with a dry smile, maybe your first stop should be the hardware store to get some keys cut? I try to be graceful and smile, and he goes around to take down the ladder before Lars can get up on the roof. I thank him profusely, again, and as he wanders up the walk to head home he throws over his shoulder 'yeah, we heard all the swearin' and thought maybe you could use a little help with somethin' or other over here'. I kind of laugh, and then stop short. 'all the swearin'? No. Surely noooooo. Yes indeed. My kindly older neighbors, the ones with grandkids of their own, heard me sharing my own little reading from

And thus completes my mortification.

But you know what Cecilie's take on the day was? I love this. She heard me retell the entire drama on the phone to my mom when we finally got on the road, and she pipes up from the back: "isn't it great Mommy? We got LOTS of people to help us today!" Indeed. It takes a village. Especially if the Village Idiot lives on your street.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays...

...always get a mom down, until she spies a funny 4 year old in his yellow slicker.

Oh definitely, 4 is just such a sweet precious and compliant age.

Spring has sprung

and that means springing for your spiffiest church outfits when the sun warms the morning.

This dress is a stunner, bought for Cecilie but never worn, if you can believe it. What can I say, I had some 'bows & lace' issues, back in the day. Luckily the Costume Designer at the Yellow House got her second chance, and Annika might have to wear this every Sunday to make up for poor judgement in Mommy's past. But oh wait, there are 78 other pretty dresses Cecilie never got to wear that Annika has to wear!
And who says bows & lace keep a girl from getting the job done?

My gorgeous boys - they're keepers, the both of 'em. (Although I will say that 36 is an easier age to live with than 4.)

Know a Superhero who lacks only their trusty cape?

Ladies and Gents, we need a tad more superheroism in our lives. This evening, I have the solution to much of what ails the world: I present The Ellie Bellie Cape. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's....... SUPERKID! I have it on great authority that many neighborhoods are safer places with these capes guarding your streets.

And one can be yours for FREE - that's right, folks, I typed FREE - if you join the Fan Page for Ellie Bellie Kids on Facebook. (Here's your URL:, and let this be the kick in the pants to go ahead and get a FB account for you Luddites out there.)

But if all your superheroes are fully kitted out, why don't you check out the gorgeous tutus or profoundly useful messenger bags instead?

Just tell EBK that Kirsten sent ya.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Larscelieisms - they're thick & fast these days

Cecilie finally, finally realized she could read this week. Now it is non-stop reading street signs, menus, Mom's notes to herself, book titles: anything with the printed word. She offered to read her Grandma & Grandpa an old classic "Are You My Mother?", and, as with most Early-Reader books, there was a great deal of 'he said' going on. She got through about half the book, and after the 46th 'he said' she looked up and asked "do you mind if I just say 'avowed' there, instead of 'said'? It would be so much more interesting!"

Lars got the movie Shrek in his Easter Basket, and evidently the Easter Bunny hadn't been aware of just how scary Lars finds Shrek. After the initial disappointment in the Easter Bunny's lack of omniscience, Lars was happy to agree to exchange. I asked if we should go this week to find a different DVD. He looked up, alarmed, and exclaimed "But we still don't know where the Easter Bunny's Target is!!!"

And finally, on the 40 minute trip south to Grandma's house, we pass the time making up all manner of games. As we get close, the kids play the game of 'spot the things you recognize.' Recently, we spotted "Grandma's" donut shop, "Grandma's" farm store, "Grandma's" stoplights, etc. At the final traffic light, Cecilie looked around her and exclaimed "Well! In all my long life, I have NEVER seen any of these cars before!"

I believe in reincarnation more every day. It's the only explanation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Mommy

Posted by Picasa

Ballet recital

Let's take you in our fabulous Nilsen time machine, to December and Cecilie's Winter ballet recital. Things have improved considerably from the first time around, and our girl continues to enjoy it so much it is absolutely adorable - and next time (is it almost May again?!?!) we might get our act together in a somewhat timely fashion: here's to hoping!
The class in their tap costumes (Cecilie is 2nd from left, BFF Ellie is furthest on right)
The girls dressed for the ballet number - The Nutcracker, natch

Do 6 year olds get any cuter than this?!

Posted by Picasa

Like herding cats

You don't see lots of pictures of my younger brother Jon on here. Um, mainly because all we seem to do is photograph kids kids and more kids. (And cut & paste pictures of Peeps...). But the other reason is that Jon is our family's Make It Happen Guy. Might be the Marine training, might be his job as Aide de Camp to the General [ahem] [forgive me, I'm bragging], might just be the need to step into the - how to say this? - familial organizational void.

So as he gets busy making stuff happen, often the rest of us are able to sit back & enjoy the fruits of his organization. This Easter, our bonnets are off to you, Jon - for getting us all to the venue on time, for finding an on-site egg hunt for the kids, and finally, for (in your own words) "herding a bunch of #$(*&^% cats!"

But look at these angels: wasn't it worth it?? Thanks Jon!

Easter: Picture-Perfect-ish

Monday, April 13, 2009

You are my PEEPS!

I've been musing on this post since Annika's birthday back in December. I had it in mind to do a sort of Academy Awards Ceremony for all those involved in getting her to her 1st birthday in one piece: "and the award for Most Patient Pediatrician EVER goes to...GRANDPA SCHNEIDER!!!" and so on.

Had the potential for great hilarity. But as the awards piled up (in my mind, you understand), and more and more people needed naming, it seemed to me that really, I had my entire world to thank for getting me through that year. Pretty much daily I relied upon someone's kindness, generosity, patience, tolerance, cell phone name it, I needed it.

This past Friday brought me full circle, right back to considering my 'village' that gets me through.

My friend Jen & I were enjoying the spring sunshine, sitting on my front steps and supervising our fractious non-napping 4 year olds and Annika, toddling through the garden beds. Annika suddenly changed course, steering towards the sidewalk and us. Her Stride Rites caught the edge of the sidewalk wrong, and her fall was stopped only by her chin smacking the edge of a plastic storage box on the walk. In the first nanosecond, it seemed she'd just taken a nasty bump. And then the blood started to flow. And flow. And flow.

Now my first instinct is always "I don't need the ER, do I?? (Could be the 11 years of nationalized medicine in the UK that drilled that into me.) So I staunched the flow, staunching staunching staunching - in the name of all that's holy HOW MUCH BLOOD CAN A ONE YEAR OLD LOSE?!?!? But I totally kept my cool.

Second instinct is always to call afore-mentioned Ever Patient Pediatrician Grandfather. The first phone call had to be abandoned due to Howling Infant Background Interference. The second call, confirming that yes, we could see right through the wound, gave me the answer I was hoping not to hear: Go Directly to ER. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200. (instead, plan to give them $200!! Yay!)

Four hours and four stitches later, the story has a happy ending. Well, happier than a lot of kids in the ER anyway. She'll be fine, and maybe get a cool scar to brag about later. But her stitches aren't really the point of this story, anyway. (Flash forward 20 years: yes sweetheart, of course Mom was worried. Of course it was scary and I wanted you to be ok. But you were serving a narrative function for me. Isn't that important too??)
The point of the story is all the people who got us through this mini-drama this particular day. There was Jen, who knew immediately where I keep my rags that would be perfect for sopping up blood, who knew to reassure Cecilie that babies can't die from stitches, and who didn't hesitate to offer to babysit while I drove to the ER. There was Betsy, who immediately ran down the street to see if we needed a babysitter, and who offered the critical information that really, the closest ER was hopeless, and I should go to the one the next county over. There was Jen's husband Dave, hero of the hour for the bigger kids, arriving with pizza for dinner (and dad by proxy until Torbjorn could get through traffic). There was my dad, always calm and always able to detach enough to give me the critical information I need. There was the ER doc who knows my dad, and remembered caring for Lars & his croup a mere THREE years ago.

And this is just four hours' worth of parenting. Admittedly, a pretty dramatic four hours, but I simply can't imagine trying to get through parenting without my peeps.

When Annika was born, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support offered. Neighbors brought meals, hand-crocheted blankets, offered to watch the big kids, returned Lars when he decided to take off on his own, and one kind soul even took Cecilie to school 3 days a week to make sure that she got to school on time at least 60% of the week. Once in the Target bathroom, another mom (total stranger) held a screaming Annika & waited with the big kids just so I could use the facilities. Another time in Costco an older woman (mom of 3 grown kids, total stranger) offered to push my cart to my car & unload it for me just because she "remembers those days, and people did it for me then!" Speaking of Costco, I've not forgotten the scene we made there last spring, and the friends who helped me that day.

So I haven't even covered someone like my mom, who has been so integral to the daily survival of my brood the million ways she helps go almost unnoticed, or my aunt whose care packages are really sent with all the care in the world. Or Torbjorn's mom, who is willing to stay with us for weeks and help and help and help without even hinting that I should be saving for the kids' therapy. Or a sister in law to call who will tell you "yeah, I'm ready to kill them too."

If I could give advice to any new parent (advice that would be really useful, as opposed to 'sleep when the baby sleeps' [pah!]) it would be this: know your village, know your people, and let them be there for you. The grandparents, the extended family, the neighbors, the friends: let them come, let them be part of your living. For the time will come, hopefully, when you can be an integral part of theirs.

And for all of you, my own Peeps, now its my turn to start giving back, even as you all continue to give. And the Oscar goes to............YOU!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tripp Trapping: Do I have a chair for you!

When we got our very first high chair, my friend Katherine laughed and said "only you could find a high chair in taupe!"

The chair in question was the incredibly simple, classic and modern Tripp Trapp, made by Stokke. Now, I'm not the first person to own and love this chair. I'm not even part of the first generation to know and love them: that honor goes to the fabulous moms in 1970s Norway, embracing all-wood, ergonomic and socially progressive chairs that "bring your child to the family table", instead of marooning them in the no-man's land of plastic high chairs.
Norwegians understandably show this chair much love: not only is it good for us, not only will it make us better people, not only is it made of wood, it is *designed by a Norwegian*. Now me? I love it because it isn't a giant plastic PRESENCE in your home, and although it comes in 11 finishes, you can't order any with teddy bears or cutesy safari themes. You can tuck it under the table and it just looks like any other chair. It wears like iron: I have scrubbed Cream of Wheat and mashed sweet potatoes off ours many many nights. And this chair is adjustable, folks: the theory is, you can be sitting in this chair when you announce to your parents that at 35 you will finally be moving out of the family home. And taking your Tripp Trapp with you!

But time for full disclosure: when it came time for Lars to venture into solid foods, I caved and got the traditional high chair. I just really missed that big ol' plastic tray to keep the Cheerios on board. And he used this thing until he was 15 months or so. Farmor arrived for a visit, and wondered if we didn't want a second Tripp Trapp, for him? No, we said, no need for such excess. Cecilie can sit in a big people chair!

Ha. You know those parenting moments where, when you look back, you wonder if it could have been any more obvious? Hmm, hon, I just wish I knew why Cecilie has such a hard time sitting still at meal time. Cecilie! Sit on your bottom! You. must. sit. at. the. table. to. eat! Cecilie! What are you doing standing up again? Finally, after 2 years of hopping around in our big people chairs, we got her back in a Tripp Trapp and ended that particular dinner time battle.

Another battle brewed recently, with Annika refusing, refusing! to sit in her high chair for any length of time, which translated directly into frequent midnight conversations on the subject of why bottles will not be provided to non-dinner eaters. Again, I found myself at wits' end. In a stroke of good fortune, Farmor happened to be in town and watching Annika's resistance to plastic furniture. With great wisdom she offered a simple solution: maybe let's just get Annika her own Tripp Trapp? This time there were no polite refusals. That sucker arrived by UPS 24 hours later.
With her own "Big Kid Chair", this hilarious child is more than happy - in fact delighted - to sit at the table and take her own sweet time with meals. She savours her veggie sausage, she luxuriates in her linguine, she munches her mushrooms. She sits up high and shouts her approval to us, and peforms all manner of silliness for the other kids at the table. All it took was a classy piece of furniture, apparently.

Bonus, extra cute, eat your breakfast reminder...

So there you go folks, my first outright Product Endorsement. Expect ads in my sidebar for Snuggies shortly.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Exuberance of a Child

Robin in the Hood Birthday

At Christmas time Lars and Cecilie saw Disney's Robin Hood for the first time and it took about 30 seconds for Lars to decide what kind of birthday he was going to have...
With some handy help from generous grandmas, not one but 12 Robin kits got prepared for March14... well as one mighty fine Sheriff of Notingham tunic.
There were chases...
...and adventure
Even the littlest ones got involved in weeding out evil.
The banquet was medieval in nature...
...including relatively modern cupcakes
Maid Marion posing for medieval style pinata
Noah even had the sheriff scared
And to top it off -some good old ukulele entertainment...
...for a captive audience
No wonder they all wiped out...

Happy birthday Lars
Related Posts with Thumbnails