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)