Christmas 2010

Here is a random compilations of videos we took on Christmas.

Funny story as follow up about Michael saying "Jesus" - I was so impressed with how well Michael could point out Jesus in any random picture. At church all over the walls he can see a new picture of him in any context and happily proclaim that it was Jesus. But, then we were at a pool the other day and in comes a man with long hair, a beard and moustache. You can already see where this is going. Michael points and excitedly proclaims "Jee-sah! Jee-sah!". The guy totally notices and smiles, so then Michael vigorously tries to wiggle free from us to go over to the man (as we hold him back, laughing), excited beyond belief to see him in the flesh.


It's been cold and snowy

While I haven't give up on commuting by bike, mother nature hasn't been making it easy.
Sweden is apparently in the middle of the coldest December in 100 years!  Global warming - ha!  My usual 20-25 minute ride without snow has been taking about 40-45 minutes with snow.  Oh well.


Christmas Spirit

This is why I love Anna and Jeff.
If I had thought of this first, maybe I would have sent out family picture Christmas cards this year.



I am thankful for:



And most definitely this.

And that I am going to eat crab instead of turkey today. 


Mad Skills...

Climbing on things:  check.
Figuring out the sorter:  not quite.



Traveling with a one-year-old can be, uh, interesting. But I think that in the end we had a good enough time to make it worth it....right Rob? Right???
The best parts of the trip were visiting one of Rob's best friends, Cuddy, his wife Nicole and their cute twin babies; checking out the Heidelberg Castle; and all the moments like this -

I won't go in to all the not-so-shining moments, but let's just say we are reconsidering our Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation options. Anyone have any good advice for vacationing with a crazy one-year-old? Where? What? How? And do you actually come home feeling like, ahhhhhhh, that was nice? 

Just outside the Heidelberg Castle



Waking up at 3:00am to watch baseball never felt so good.


Halloween and Giants

I bought this dog at a thrift store so I could cut off an ear and use it for Rob's Swedish Chef eyebrows and moustache. Now, much to my amusement, this one-eared second-hand dog seems to be his favorite stuffed animal. Such compassion.


King Baby, Pippi Longstocking, Swedish Chef
At the American Embassy halloween party

My friend Krista and her cute kids, the lady bug and monkey

 This next photo series is Rob cleaning Smalls ears. Smalls really likes to admire what we find (he would also really like us to let him eat it). I meant to just take some pictures of them in their Giants jerseys, but this is what was going on.
It would be nice if the Giants win the World Series in 4 straight so that Rob doesn't have to keep getting up in the middle of the night to watch.

Sorry I didn't wipe his nose before I snapped sort of just want to wipe a rag right over the picture, don't you?


Early Winter

Ironically, I took this picture the day after my "Fall" post. 
I'm going to take pictures of the beautiful, white winter. I will take Smalls out for all sorts of fun in the snow and cold, bundled up in our appropriate gear to make any outing possible. I will get excited about the ski kit conversion to the stroller. But truthfully, this is a "fake it to make it" thing. I'm a California girl who totally misses her flip-flops. And mexican food, while I'm at it.



I'm pretty stoked about the rain pants/jacket I got him (and boots from Carin - thanks, David, for your enormous feet and growing out of them way early). Not because it allows him to play on a rainy or wet day, but because now that I bought it I feel pretty much required. He loves it. I love it. Love all around.
Now that it is getting into the sub-freezing temperatures, I was starting to search out toys and stuff I should buy him to make indoors more entertaining through the long winter. But that is not it. I just need to make sure we have the right equipment to just keep getting outdoors.
Sweden tidbit: In their daycare and school (government sponsored starting at 18 months) there is almost no such thing as a "rainy day schedule" or "snow schedule". They all have to have their special snowsuits, boots, etc. at the school at all times and the kids HAVE to go outside to play, almost no matter what. Last year was a rather harsh winter, even for Sweden, and I guess there was only one day they got to stay inside. According to a kid I talked to. I love that mentality.
Now I am just rambling, but when Michael was an infant and not sleeping well, a neighbor gave me the hint to bundle him up and sleep him out on the balcony for naps. All through the winter. This is what they did at the daycare her son went to and she said they slept wonderfully.
I love learning random things like that from them.


Costume Idea

The killer thing is that you just never know how they are going to turn out.
I had this idea for us all to dress up as something Swedish. Rob - the Muppets Swedish Chef, Smalls - a swedish king (perfect since he is "King Baby"), and me - Pippi Longstocking. I was browsing the internet for ideas on how to put these costumes together and many pictures I saw of Pippi really got me going on the idea. But then I came to one that now has me scared that perhaps this is not a costume for adults. Scroll and see. I am laughing so hard, but considering I might do it anyway, I should probably cry.
darling as can be



Tjur Ruset (The Bull Run)

Last Saturday I ran in one of the most fun races ever, Tjur Ruset.
We ran through rivers, streams, ponds, swamps, mud, marshes, man-made obstacles, a motor-cross course with tires and pipes, over dumpsters, etc. It was a muddy, messy, freezing mess.

It was supposed to be a 10k, but then I guess the course ran a little long (I heard someone say 11.5k), and then out of the 5000 participants, of course I happened to be in the group of about 40 women who went off course and ran around for an extra 2k or so. So my total was something more like 13k. They had the ladies run first, and the race leader missed a turn and everyone just followed blindly until we knew something went wrong. Somewhere behind us someone must've had their head up and gotten everyone else back on track, because then by the time we made our way back there were hundreds of women ahead of us.

In a way it was kind of nice because 1. I was having a really fun time, so I really didn't mind the extra distance. 2. It messed up the arrangement of faster to slower, and since it was trail running it was difficult to pass. This meant that I was usually slowed down and didn't have to endure the physical discomfort of pushing myself. When it was impossible to pass, I just enjoyed that aspect guilt-free! 3. It was probably safer to go at a relaxed pace anyway. There was one section probably about 1.5k long through a freezing cold marsh (anytime I tried to pass people and went off the beaten path, I was cracking through a thin layer of ice). So, after about 15 mins or so of running through ice-water, you could not feel your feet and when we hit solid ground again everyone was falling over. I twisted my ankle a bit but it never hurt or swelled, I suppose because it was already frozen anyway. But the point is, I was glad to take it easy until I could feel my feet again. I think if I hadn't already thrashed my time by going off course then I likely would have injured myself in that section. 4. It is mentally nicer to pass than to be passed.

I don't have any actual pictures of myself, because I was a mean-ol' wife and told Rob not to come with Smalls and cheer me on. Smalls had been rather cranky and whiny for three days straight and I just wanted the time to relax on the car ride over, all to myself, listening to the radio and singing along and being free.

Getting muddy from head to toe and wearing yourself out is really, really good for the soul.

Who's coming to do this with me again next year? So far I've got Rob, his dad, and I'm working on Krista. Who else? Bueller? Bueller?


Michael at 13 months

Here is a summary of Michael at nearly 13 months. He is so cute at this age I don't ever want it to end. Kind of.

He was being awfully quiet while I was in the kitchen doing dishes....Rob has now learned to better protect his cookies.
Eye color: mysterious. But I think they sort of match the rug in this picture, don't they? I can now rule out blue, but they don't really look like my brown color just yet. So either brown or hazel, I suppose, but they are still sort of this mystery color. When he was younger there were many days I thought they looked like they were going to be blue. But that hue has disappeared.

Favorite word: titta. It's swedish for "look!", and he goes around all day pointing at everything and saying, "teeeee-tah! tee-tah!".

Other words: dada, mama (although today he was looking at my (Lorena) picture and proclaimed "dada!", so we still have some ground to cover...), Jesus (we have a little Christus statue that he is fascinated with lately and he points and says "jzzzz-ah".), and just yesterday - goose (ghhhzzzzz). He thinks that word is hilarious for some reason and would laugh with glee the first 30 or so times I said it.

Comfort item: his Bear Suit (the brown sleep sack), although he'll sort of snuggle up to almost any fuzzy blanket or stuffed animal. He makes these sweet sounding gurgly gggggggghhhhh and mmmmmmmm sounds when he grabs it and puts it to his face, and I can tell without even looking that he must've found his Bear Suit.

Bedtime books: The Going to Bed Book, by Sandra Boynton - this has been read to him literally every night almost since his birth.
Rob also reads him a pop-up version of "Guess How Much I Love You" before bed, which is one of the cutest books on the planet, I believe. At least it is when Rob reads it to Smalls. Oh, and Karl the Chicken.

Favorite toy: books. He just can't get enough of books. If it was almost anything else I might be worried, but I guess no one ever read too many books. If it is not him wanting to be read to, then it is him pulling them off the shelves, or sliding them across the floor, or flipping through them himself. I guess to be more general, he just loves pictures. Because he always begs to look at the pictures on the walls also.

New interesting activity: dropping stuff off the second floor opening to the bottom floor and watching it crash. Today he did it with an apple and that became a bit messy.

Favorite things to find and point at: fans and lights. Last week we went to visit Rob's office and Smalls made his way around every room finding and pointing to every fan on the whole floor. The other day we were at a friend's house, he wandered off, and sure enough I found him in her bedroom pointing at the fan and yelling "teee-tah! teee-tah!". There are many more examples.

Other random fascinations: sewer caps, drain grates, and plant pots. He will find them all and pick away at them. It's not so much the plant pot, per se, but the dirt or rocks that are inevitably in the pot. He loves flowers too, but that is obvious. Who wouldn't.

Signs: butterfly* and slide. He surprised me yesterday when he did the slide sign back for the first time. I was pretty excited. Both totally useless, but it is fun, which is the whole point of it to me anyway.  The ones that would be potentially more useful, like "more", "food", "all-done", or "I'm bored - entertain me!", I usually have no mistake interpreting from him anyway. Usually.**

Favorite playground activity: the slide. The swing lost best-thing-ever status once he learned to walk.

Favorite food: grapes. He practically levitates with excitement when he sees these at the grocery store.

Funny new development: likes to feed us his food. Soooo cute. When he gets really into it he starts to take the food out of his own mouth to feed me. I tell him, "no, I want this" and I hand him another piece of food from his tray for him to put in my mouth. But then he puts that piece in his mouth too, before he takes it out to feed me. Gross. But I don't really care because he's my boy and it's fun.

And, finally, Rob and I both think it is pretty awesome that he drinks from our sports bottles. For a while he refused sippy cups and bottles and would only use our sports bottles. Now he'll drink from whatever, but we think it's pretty cute with the sports bottle and we have like a million of them from my biking days. He has refused milk ever since he was weaned at 12 months, so it's just water. I have to make sure he gets plenty of cheese and yogurt.

*credit to Roxanne for teaching him that. :)
**This leads me to a random question. Suppose, hypothetically, that Rob and I were bad parents and forgot to give him his snack right on time because we were trying to get us out the door for our little outing. And Smalls was being WAY whiny. And it took me several minutes to remember that it was because he was well overdue for his snack.
Okay, now here is the question:  If he was capable of saying "I'm hungry - feed me!", would he have? Do you think that at 13 months, he would even have enough bodily awareness to know that he was being whiny because he was hungry and wanted food? Of course he eagerly ate his food as soon as I presented it to him and was immediately in a better mood. But I just wonder. Because even as an adult I am prone to certain moods from things like fasting (fast Sunday yesterday), or an achy back, or a case of "the pmmms" (as Rob calls it), and I don't even realize the root cause until later. So I wonder if a kid could say "I'm hungry" at that age, if it would even do any good. I sort of doubt it, barring the extreme. I feel like there might have to be some real neglect - way past the whiny mood stage - before they thought "I'm hungry". But I obviously don't really know. Just curious for any thoughts. Perhaps from the owner of a 3 year old who is capable of saying it. Do they? Or do they still just act whiny?



Cuddles. Ahhhhh.
Sadly, he wouldn't do this if it was just me, minus the bear suit (the brown sleepsack) and minus a hurtful accident.
Before I entered motherhood, I hadn't stopped to consider just how nice it would feel to comfort to my monkey.
p.s. Thanks for the pic, Anna. It relaxes me just to look at it.


Grandma and Grandpa Candrian's Visit

...been meaning to post some pictures from Rob's parents visit.
It was great to have them here. I think they are so enamored with Mr. Smalls that they could not have cared less if the rest of us were around. But who could blame 'em?

We all cheered on Rob's dad as he ran the Stockholm Half Marathon. How many grandpas can claim that?

Three generations of Candrian men: Robert Michael Candrian, Michael Candrian, and Michael Robert Candrian. Is it any wonder that I accidentally wrote Smalls name incorrectly on his birth certificate? Luckily Rob caught it in time before we sent it in.

Grandpa Candrian was STOKED to see Biggie Smalls cheering for him as he ran past, and picked him up like he was a trophy at the end of the race.
Fun with grandma.

Small's first birthday.

No one makes him laugh like his gramps.
Basking in every minute of attention from his grandma. (Behind them is an old church in Sigtuna, from the 1200's.)



I don't have a facebook account.  I'm not going to get one.  I am 31 years old.  Does that mean that I am an old curmudgeon?  In 20 years will Michael laugh at me like I'm one of those people who refuses to get a cell phone.  Perhaps.  Or maybe I subscribe more to what Malcom Gladwell says in this article.  


Mt. Kebnekaise

Starting out on our way to those mountains waaay in the distance.
Last week my bff Anna and her husband Jeff visited us at the same time as Rob's parents, leaving us with the magnificent opportunity to leave Smalls behind for the first time since his birth and go on an adventure together. 
We hiked the highest peak in Sweden, Mt. Kebnekaise. It is way up north, within the Arctic Circle. I had a wonderful time - I LOVE that sort of thing and this was the first time I've ever done a hike that required multiple days of backpacking in, staying at a base camp, and doing a climb that was more what I would think of as mountaineering than hiking. It was so revitalizing for my entire being. But sometimes I wish I could get that from a hobby like, say, scrapbooking. Why I am so drawn to outdoor things that make me so sore and tired and cold and uncomfortable and fearing for my life?

Anna, jazzed up on life and likely singing camp songs.
A Sami hut. Or at least I like to believe that is what it is.
Anna's trusty old hiking shoes...not so trusty. The soles started coming off several miles into day 1. Luckily Jeff is a pretty clever engineer and came up with a pretty clever trick of threading them on. Worked well enough to get her to base camp where she borrowed some boots for the summit.

Rain clouds moving in...uh-oh
Super Best Friends Club
Thick fog moving in
Getting higher...and colder...and at a couple points we were getting pelted hard in the face with hail. If I was Smalls I would have cried.
No more trail. It was pretty tricky finding the markers for the path to the top in this thick fog. We were glad to have met up with a few others who also made the summit that day and form our own little "international expedition group". Four Americans, two Swedes, and two Kiwis. Together we found our way to the top, but we all agreed none would have made it on their own. We were like our own little organism, sending our feelers out till we found our way to the peak.
Oh...there is the marker. Try finding that little red spot when it is covered in snow and thick, thick fog among all the other rocks.
We made it! It was surreal near the top - the fog was so dense and white you literally could not tell the difference between the white air and the snow covered ground. It gave a few of us a feeling of vertigo. We had to be very careful - if you didn't pay close attention you could walk right off a ledge thinking the air was ground. Five of the eight of us actually stopped several meters short of the small tip-top (yay for GPS!), as it was a glacier and quite slippery and dangerous. Rob was one of the three who went to the top, but when he had a scary slip on his way up it sealed my decision that I was close enough to call it good....

"I'm Anna and I'm awesome!"
Beautiful vistas on our hike back down.
We were past that mtn behind us, up an even taller one!
Add caption
The happy honeymooners. A one year delayed honeymoon, hiking Sweden's highest peak, sharing a tiny little nook of a room with Rob and I in the base camp lodge. They are so cool.
The shoelace remedy for Anna's boots gave out a couple miles before the end of the trip, making her rugged boots look more like elf shoes. Not even that could wipe the smile off of Anna's face. Just gave us more amo to giggle about.


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