In other news, we were able to go to our midwife yesterday and find out the sex of our little baby...looks like Samuel and Sofia will be getting a little sister! We are thrilled! Of course we'd be thrilled either way, but two little girls is exciting, especially for me. :) Samuel and Sofia got to come with us, and on the way home, Samuel's only comment was, "but, I said I wanted a little brother". However, he quickly changed his mind, and 5 minutes later added "Oh, wait, no, I guess I really did want a little sister, that's okay". Sofia's suggestion for names is of course "little sister" Any suggestions from your guys's side? We're having a tough time deciding. Anyway, we're excited! Only 3 months to go!
Here are some highlight-pictures from our Christmas this year.
We started it off by having a huge birthday bash for our cousin Josef (3) on the 23rd. He lives in Switzerland, and we don't get to see them very often, so it was great being able to send some time with them! They had rented this huge ball-hall place and invited all the cousins. They had a lot of fun there!
On the 24th, we went to gamla morfar's (great-grandpa) at his nuring home during the day, so we could celebrate a little Christmas with him. Santa Clause even showed up there and handed out some presents for the kids (try not to notice, the bulging pillows coming out of his coat and his mop-beard) :) Samuel was pretty sure he wasn't the real Santa, but reassured us that the real Santa was probably out getting ready for his big night. It was fun being able to bring a little Christmas to gamla morfar.
That night, we all met up at farmor and farfar's for Christmas Eve dinner and celebration. Swedes celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve, opening all their presents that night. Santa comes to their house in the evening and hands out all their presents while they get to open them right then and there. It was fun for us this year, because we decided to just have Santa hand out one present to each family, and then do the rest at our own homes, which allowed us to go home that evening, all excited that when we woke up Santa will have been here and left presents under our tree! It was fun being able to combine the two traditions. This year, Uncle Ulf was Santa and handed out the presents at farfar and farmor's. Two years ago, Samuel was so afraid of Santa, but this year, he got right into it. Loving every minute. Sofia loved it as well and gave him hug after hug!
When we did get home, we layed out cookies and a carrot (for Rudolf) and our stockings. That night, Chris and I enjoyed being able to stay up and wrap all the presents and place them under the tree. I think I was almost as excited as the kids were for them to see it the next morning. When they woke up, they were thrilled and ran to our bedroom. We let daddy go out first and turn on the lights. It was so fun opening presents with our own little family and see the kids' eyes light up with each little gift they got! Samuel says his favorite toy is two Star Wars action figures that grandma and grandpa Alder gave him. Sofia's is hands down her dolly she got from them! She is in love with her new baby and has named her "little sister". So, thank you grandma and grandpa!!! We couldn't have had as good of a Christmas without their thoughtfulness!
We've spent the past week or so relaxing, playing games, watching movies, ice-skating, and simply enjoying having daddy home for so long (Chris got 2 1/2 weeks off work!!!) So, all in all, it's been a great Christmas for us! There's only been a skiff of snow, but hopefully more will come. We're looking forward to a new year!
Chris grew up with waiting until the 23rd to put up the tree...the night before Christmas Eve! I grew up with putting it up Dec 1st! So, we've compromised and decided to put it up after Samuel's birthday every year. (That way, Samuel can feel like it's actually his birthday, and not Christmas with a birthday on the side) and I can enjoy the tree a bit longer than a couple of days.
Of course real trees are best...the look, the smell, the quality, however, when Samuel was first born we bought ourselves a little plastic tree (because we couldn't afford a real one), and since then, we feel that while the kids are young, and we have a smaller apartment, this little plastic tree is perfect for us! The kids don't know it's small or plastic (or that half the decorations are home-made). So, we put our Christmas music on (American songs this time), waited for daddy to put the tree together, and let the kids go wild. Everyone got into it and had so much fun. t brought a little more of that magical Christmas feeling into our home. After the kids had gone to bed, I just sat in our little living room with the Christmas lights on and our candles in the window and just sat. I love the feeling of Christmas!
The 13th of December is Lucia Day. The tradition of Lucia is that she is a saint who brings light to a darkened world. (The actual history is a little more gruesome and that we'll take another day.) The tradition is that kids line up and go from door to door dressed as Lucia (in along white dress with a red sash carrying a crown with 4 lights on their head and a candle in their hand), "gingerbread men", "santa clauses", and other swedish christmas figures. I guess kind of like caroling, but not as fun and hyped-up.
Samuel had a little program at his preschool last Friday. All week he's been going around the house singing at the top of his lungs all these little swedish christmas songs (i'm trying to learn them, so I can sing along). It's been so fun, and we were so excited to go see his little performance at school, but when Friday rolled around, he got a bit nervous with all the other parents there, and ended up sitting next to us the whole time...maybe next year...
Then Saturday evening, we got together with all the cousins and went to visit "gamla morfar" (great-grandpa) at his nursing home and brought him gingerbread cookies and rolls and sang to him, then we went to farfar and farmor (grandma and grandpa Malm) and sang for them. I really love this tradition...especially because it is so dark these days over here (sunrise: 8:54 sunset:3:26!), and seeing all the lights and seeing all the children dress up in white dresses with candles visiting others is so heart-warming. Here are some pictures, so you can get a little taste of it.
Samuel's birthday was last Monday. Tuesday, he got to celebrate at school and today we had a big birthday bash for him, so it's been a birthday week for us! (Samuel thought that because he turned 4 on Monday, that today, with his "other birthday" (his party) he'd be turning 5. I had to explain an entire year has to go by before he gets to turn 5. For some reason 5 is a magical age :)) Monday morning we woke Samuel up with presents and birthday cake in bed (although, we didn't eat the cake until after dinner of course). He was really excited about it, especially since we've made a count-down-chain to his birthday/christmas/sofia's birthday.
After presents in bed, we had a late breakfast of swedish pancakes (samuel's choice of course). Then mommy, Samuel and Sofia headed off the shark museum and then McDonalds for lunch (daddy had to work). McDonalds was pretty exciting...we never go out to eat, so that was a huge treat! When we got home, Sofia took her nap and Samuel and mommy had two hours of play time where we got to play with all his new toys. I think it was pretty exciting to think that he'd get mommy all to himself and that he didn't have to have quiet-time :).
Wonderful Grandma Alder sent a package of a couple books, a shirt and some DRAGONS!!! Those dragons have been a HUGE hit (especially since each dragon has a baby dragon to go with it...Samuel's been in heaven!) and we had fun playing with them, along with his small-legos he got from mommy and daddy.
That night, we got to have tacos and then chocolate cake with sprinkles and then some more play time with the whole family. It was a fun day for Samuel. He is such a sweet boy and has thanked us over and over again for his presents and that it can be his birthday.
Today we had his birthday party with all his friends. We invited 10 friends (half of which were cousins), but most of them had little siblings that got to tag along, so we ended up with 18 kids running around here. I have to admit, I was a bit worried about how we'd manage...our apt. is not huge. But surprisingly, it went really well. Four of the moms stayed and were a big help and daddy even took a couple hours off work to be here. Samuel loved all his presents and thought it was so fun to have so many people here for him! I'm still amazed at how little fighting there were with 18 kids here. Everyone just played so well together. I feel grateful to have such good friends for Samuel.
Anyway, here's a slideshow of some of the pictures of the event! We love Samuel so much and are so glad he's in our family! Crazy that he's been with us for 4 years already!!!
So, my cousin's wife, (Vicki Lewis) is this amazing artist and has come up with a great toy/puzzle for children. They're called puzzlekins and are newly out on the market. They're puzzles, but on the back side of each piece is an actual "character or thing" that the kids can play with that go along with the puzzles. They're really cute and are quiet educational.
Here's a link to her blog Puzzlekins that explains her idea more detailed.
In the spirit of Christmas, we started early and made gingerbread men (and women, and candy-cans, and trees...). It was so fun having kids old enough to actually be able to roll out the dough themselves and take the cookie cutters and go wild! I think everyone enjoyed it, especially after when they came out of the oven and we got to taste them! Yums!!! I LOVE CHRISTMAS TIME!!! (ps. don't ask about Sofia's clown outfit...as you've noticed, I don't decide what she wears these days. As for Samuel's santa get-up, he's been wearing that for 3 days straight, ever since we got it out of storage)
Samuel's (and hence the rest of us) been cooped up inside for the past 4 days because he's been sick, so we were more than happy when aunt Sofia called and wanted to know if we wanted to go to the park with them and some of our other cousins. Here's the lot of them (the half that's not in school anyway). Although it was freezing (literally 30F), we managed to stay out for a good two hours! (And now I'm enjoying a nice quiet time while Samuel and Sofia are zonked out in their beds!) Having so many cousins so close has been so fun for us!
Because we'll be needing Sofia's crib soon and because we there's not a whole lot of space in the kids' room (and because, come on, bunk-beds are FUN!) we decided to buy Samuel and Sofia bunk beds! We bought them off the internet Saturday evening, and by the time, daddy came home with them, it was too late to set them up. The next day, Samuel was sick and couldn't go to church, but it was totally okay with him because that meant he got to stay home with daddy and put together his new bed!!! When Sofia and I came home, he ran quickly and excitedly to me and wanted to show me the new beds immediately! (He loves that he gets to sleep on top). So, last night was the big debut. We were a little skeptical, but after only having to go in their room one time after we said good-night, it was quiet and we were totally impressed that Sofia would sleep there so easily. However, when we walked in to check on them this is what we saw :). (Notice her dolly on her bed that she had put to sleep so carefully). Needless to say, we picked her up and she made it through the first night without coming up again. We'll see if it works as well tonight. :)
Pippi (Ida), Power Ranger (Samuel) and Princess getting into the spirit of the day
(not so sure what's up with Samuel's hand...:))
Halloween hasn't been very big over here in Sweden, however it is growing and more and more people are catching onto the idea. There's a family in our ward who's husband is American and therefore have taken it upon themselves to spread the Halloween tradition to the world! Every year, they send out flyers to people in their neighborhood saying that those who want to be a part of Halloween can set a lantern outside their house so the kids know which houses to knock on and which not to. This was the first year we went because the kids have always been too young (and the 31st just happens to be Chris's birthday as well, so we haven't really put much emphasis on Halloween).
Samuel and Sofia don't eat candy, but we told them because it was Halloween they could each choose one piece to eat that night and then one to eat the next day (since it was Saturday). They thought they were in Heaven. So, we drove out to the Murphy's and started door-knocking. Only about 1 in every 5th house or so had a lantern out, so it took a bit longer. And only 4 houses later the kids were freezing and ready to go in. But they each had about half a small zip-lock baggie full and they were completely satisfied. I'm glad the kids could get a little taste of Halloween and these American traditions!
This is back at the Murphy's. All the kids enjoying their earnings and watching the Wizard of Oz. (notice how many black witches and goblins there are!)
We got home around 8:30pm and I guess the festivities were too much for our little clown. She feel asleep in the car, and didn't even wake up when we got home, undressed her and put her pajamas on!
Yes, it's true, we are expecting our third child and are absolutely thrilled!!! I've gone 14 weeks now...which puts the due date somewhere in the beginning of April. I thought I'd just make it official and announce it to all you out in cyberspace :). I haven't been feeling so hot, but hopefully I'm nearing the end of the morning sickness part (whoever named it "morning sickness" was totally off! It's pretty much an all-day-sickness). But, we are excited. When i first told Samuel, he asked directly if he could see it. A bit disappointed, he found out he had to wait for mommy's tummy got big and fat to be able to see it. Samuel's rooting for a boy. Honestly with one of each, it'd be fun either way! Most Swedes don't find out the sex at all and because it's our third and we do have one each, we're contemplating that surprise approach. It's not very common at all, and in fact if you do want to find out the sex, you have to pay (all other medical costs are free) and you have to wait until week 27! But, we'll see. Anyway, now it's official!!! :)
General Conference weekend was excellent this year! We get all sessions broadcast over here except for Sunday Afternoon. Our Saturday night, they broadcast the Saturday Morning session live via satellite at our church. It was from 6-8pm. Chris and I both knew the kids wouldn't make it two hours of sitting so late in the evening, so Chris went to the church and I decided to set up a little "prophet movie" (as Samuel called it) for us at home! Thank goodness for BYU-broadcasting!!! We hooked up our computer to the tv, got a little Satruday-candy (the kids can only eat candy on Saturday...hence the name), crayons and paper, blankets and pillows and were ready to go! Samuel lasted a surprisingly 45 min. However, as soon as Sofia's candy was gone, she was up and down and everywhere. Made it difficult to consentrate. By 6:50, we called it quits, brushed teeth, and I put the kids down. By 7:00, I could enjoy the last hour in peace and quiet in the comfort of my own home. It brought back memories of growing up and staying home and watching it on tv and all the little things mom had for us to keep us busy. :) It was sweet.
Grandma and Grandpa left last Friday after a 2 week visit. We were so sad to say good-bye and hope to be able to see them again soon. We had a great time while they were here. The kids loved having them around and it was so good for me to have 4 extra hands to help around the house and with the kids. My dad's been out once before right after Samuel was born and mom was here with Samuel was born as well as after Sofia was born. But both times have been in the dead of winter right after births. We didn't get out much, and they've been left with this dark, cold, gray image of Sweden ever since. But, this time was different! The weather was perfect for us...a lot of sunny days and beautiful fall colors everywhere. We got out quite a bit and they were able to see Sweden in it's true beauty. It was so nice being able to share a bit of our life with them and it meant a lot for us that they took the time and money to come visit us! Here are some highlights of their trip. Enjoy!
Last Friday was Farfar's (grandpa, literally: "dad's dad") birthday. The kids had school and the husbands had work during the day, so we decided to gather at the ambitious hour of 5:50 am and surprise him with a birthday wake-up call and then breakfast together. Samuel thought it was so exciting to be woken up and go outside when it was still dark outside and all the kids loved creeping up the stairs and waking farfar up with a grand old birthday song! Per was great and so happy to be woken up by his 9 grandchildren (3 were missing and the other 6 live out of the country). So fun to be gathered with so many small cousins!
A couple Saturdays ago, Chris went up to Oslo to do his first triathlon! He was really excited about it and a bit nervous because he has this inner-thigh problem thing. But, it went really well and he was quite pleased. He ended with a time of 2h31m. As you can see the swimming was a bit cold and a bit crowded. The first 500 meters, he felt like he was just kicking to stay above the water as a hundred other arms came pounding down around him. His next goal is the iron-man 2009!!!
Somehow it never gets easier...Heidi just left after a weeks visit. She flew in last Sunday afternoon and left yesterday morning. Although short, it was so nice to be with her again and have the kids get to know my favorite sister a bit better. It was fun to just relax and be together and spend some good quality time together. Samuel was so excited that she came and asked every night if Heidi was going to sleep on our couch for "lots and lots of nights". The last night, she was here, he was quite disappointed that it was her last night, and in the middle of the night, he got up and slept-walked over to the couch and crawled right into bed with her :) Sofia loved having her here as well. It was fun for Heidi because we think Sofia's probably a lot like how Heidi was when she was little...petit and determined! It was a great week for me and I'm so happy she could come out. (Now only 3 weeks until grandma and grandpa come!)
Yesterday we got our monthly package from Grandma Alder. This is what we got this month. Samuel is in LOVE with those spider man socks and both kids insisted on sleeping with their bears and their new books! The kids really look forward to getting these packages. Thank you Grandma!!! (It's a little confusing for Samuel to realize the packages actually come from Grandma. When we go and pick them up he always thinks it's from the post man and always tells him thank you. He'll get it one day)
Yesterday we were driving to church and Chris and I were talking to each other when suddenly Samuel cuts in and says "What?! Daddy can speak English?!" He was honestly, totally surprised (despite the fact that Chris and I have been speaking English with each other Samuel's entire existence). It was like he had just clued into the fact that Chris does in fact speak English. Up until now, it's only been mommy who knows English, but lo and behold daddy knows English too :). Silly boy.
Sofia has such a determined little personality. Samuel plays by the rules. When you tell him he can't do something, he'll either not do it, or fight and try his hardest to get us to change our mind. However, Sofia...when we tell her not to do something, she puts on this mischievous little smile, tilts her head, and slowly and deliberately goes about doing exactly what we just told her not to. So, the other day we were coloring with markers (first mistake) and Sofia wanted to sit on the "big-kids-chair" instead of her high chair (second mistake), so she climbed up, and I gave her a handful of markers (she refused to use the color pencils or crayons...they don't have fun lids you can take on and off). So, Samuel, Sofia and I sat there coloring, when Samuel needed help with something, so I went to help him and not two seconds later, I look over at Sofia and half of the tip of the purple marker is missing and her entire mouth is covered with purple drool. She literally bit off the the tip of the marker. Her teeth and tongue looked almost stained. This is the picture we took, after we got mad and brought her to the bathroom to scrub her teeth as well as we could. Luckily, she woke up this morning, and it was nearly all disappeared! I can tell this is just the beginning of Sofia's little experiments.
These pictures are a bit fuzzy and don't do it justice at all, but at least it gives you a feel of how purple it was
I've always been a fan of camping. From family summer camping trips to girls camp, I've always enjoyed being in the outdoors, not having to worry about life and just living in the wild. Unfortunately, we haven't been camping yet this year (considering the great rainy summer we've had...yes, after two solid weeks of pure sun-shine, the rain is back :( And I'm afraid our summer in Sweden has come to an end...let's hope not). A bit frustrated, I finally decided to just put up the tent in the grass in front of our apartment and Friday night, Samuel and I slept in our tent. It was really fun and cozy, (although Samuel didn't drift of to sleep until 11:30 and then woke up promptly with the sun at 5:30!) It was fun to spend some mommy and Samuel time together. We even brought in our laptop and got to watch a movie :) Next year, we're going to have to do the real-deal!!!
The next day our neighbors came to play and had a blast in their little "house"