Spending Easter in Gränna is starting to become a little tradition! For the second year in a row, we have had lovely sunny springtime weather, and it’s just the time of year when all the snowdrops are blooming all over Farmor’s garden. And just the fact that there IS a garden in which to have an Easter egg hunt is reason enough! For several weeks leading up to Easter, Ania asked us daily when it would be time to “pick eggs in Farmor’s garden”, so of course we had to deliver on that. As always, it was really nice to get out of the city, enjoy lovely food and wine with Marianne and Robert, and just slow down for a few days in the picturesque little town.

Unfortunately the weekend ended in a strange stomach flu-type illness for the littlest P, which followed her back to Stockholm and has kept her home all week. Fingers crossed she will be on the mend soon! The forecast shows a nice sunny weekend coming up, so praying we’ll be able to be out and about to enjoy it…

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Carefully picking flowers in the garden...

Carefully picking flowers in the garden…

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She met a postman on a walk around town...

She met a postman on a walk around town…

The hunt begins!

Hunting…

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…. and gathering

 

Examining her loot

Examining her loot

Excursion to the ruins of an ancient convent

Excursion to the ruins of an ancient convent

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Dramatic shadows and a flopsy little girl in her pappa’s arms, at the onset of her tummy troubles :(

...but the sky was stunnung that day!

…but the sky was stunning that day!

 

 

 

 

We’ve had gloriously blue, sunny skies lately! Still pretty chilly, but nobody is complaining because the sun just feels soooo good. It’s that time of year when everyone walks around smiling with their faces turned upwards, soaking up all the precious Vitamin D that we’ve been starved of for so many months. And even though we all know March in Sweden is a big tease and any day now it will probably start snowing again – it’s all good. We enjoy each day as it comes!

The days are noticeably so much longer now too, as we race towards the summer solstice. This means that even if we are having a particularly slow weekend and don’t get out of the house until well after lunch, we don’t have to panic! There are still plenty of daylight hours to do something nice with the day. Here are some photos from last weekend when we had exactly this type of lazy, late day. Though we were all under the weather with colds, the weather was just too nice to ignore – so we bundled up and rolled down to the waterfront to have a little duck feeding session in the late afternoon sun. So nice!

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Ania has learned to write her name! We’re very proud of her, especially because learning the alphabet is particularly tricky when learning the english one and the swedish one at the same time. First of all, a lot of letters sound similar enough to make you think they’re alike, but in reality they aren’t exaaaaactly the same. And on top of that, how to explain why a polar bear is used to illustrate the letter “P” in English, but in Swedish books he shows up under “I”, for “isbjörn”? But amazing as children’s minds are, she’s now started to grasp the separation between the two, and more importantly, thinks putting letters together to make words is fun!

She has also started to draw things that look like…. well, things! And not just scribbly blobs. Of course there are still a lot of scribbly blobs coming out, but there is a lot of intention behind them –  often whole universes and stories living within those blobs if she’s given the opportunity to explain. Here are some recent masterpieces :)

If you look very carefully, you can see "Ania" at the top right. This was her very first attempt :)

If you look very carefully, you can see “Ania” at the top right. This was her very first attempt :)

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“Cat”

 

"Dollan" /"Dolly"

“Dollan” /”Dolly”

 

10 pm on a Saturday night. Stefan and I should be at a friend’s surprise 40th birthday party, but instead we’re home in bed, because a certain little girl came home yesterday with a fever and stomach flu. So typical! It’s literally the one social event we had planned all month. Oh, the glamourous life of parents!

We didn’t sleep much last night so I’m short on words, but thought it was high time to share a few photos. You’d never know she was ill by the looks of these, so you’ll have to take my word for it!

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On Monday, Ania’s cast finally came off! The appointment at the orthopedic clinic was short and sweet – we were scheduled first thing in the morning, and were in and out within half an hour. The most nerve-wrecking part was the menacing little motorized saw that they use to crack open the fibreglass – which Ania faced suspiciously but bravely, while I tried my best to hide my jittery nerves. Watching someone run a spinning metal blade down the length of your child’s little leg is among the more horrifying things that you can do at 9 in the morning! But I meditated silently on the fact that this woman has done this probably thousands of times, so there is no way that she is going to make a mistake. My neurosis came to the surface again when I repeatedly asked the doctor more times than likely was necessary, if she was SURE we did not need to do another x-ray? The answer was yes, she was sure, and together with an examination of the leg, and a standing/walking test, we were cleared to go.

For the first half of the day, Ania understandably was very fearful of walking at all on her “new” leg, and Stefan had to more or less carry her around for awhile, just like when she first got the injury. But by the evening, she was confident enough to walk around on her own and even perform some dance routines, which was a big relief! Yesterday, Day 2, she was still quite wobbly and unsteady, so we kept her home from dagis for another day, not wanting to rush the process. But realizing that this process could actually take a little while, together with the fact that we can’t be home from work forever – today was her debut back to school! I was a bit nervous all day, wondering how she was coping, since she is definitely not walking normally yet. Her leg is still weak and her body needs to “forget” the restrictions of the cast that it has adapted to over the last month. She basically needs to build up strength, and learn to trust the leg again. Stefan was on drop-off duty, so I urged him to be sure to prepare the teachers to keep a close eye. No climbing! No jumping! Make her stay in the sandbox! You know, neurotic mom behaviour.

But when I picked her up, she was beaming and giggling and so happy with all her little friends. Her teachers said the day had gone super well, she managed just fine on the playground, had apparently been talking non-stop, and that we had nothing to worry about. Yay! It was also a beautifully springlike sunny day, which really makes it feel like we’re turning over a new leaf. Onto new (and hopefully safe) adventures!

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Seriously, look at that thing. Oh, my nerves.

 

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They asked if we wanted to keep the cast as a souvenir, which I guess some people do. Yuck! No thank you.

 

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Welcome back, little leg!

 

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Ta-da!

 

 

6 more days to go! Last week with the cast, and I think we are all ready to see that little leg back in action. As we go in for the home stretch, I can honestly say that it’s gone so much more smoothly than we predicted – and luckily we managed to find our silver lining, and sustain the positive outlook for the duration of the month (give or take a few moments here and there, of course!) I can now report that we have done the rounds to most of the museums and cultural institutions in the city: Moderna, Vasamuseet, Östasiatiska, Tekniska, Livrustkammaren, Fotografiska, Kulturhuset – plus the library, the cinema, and lots of cafes and restaurants. The littlest Pollard certainly can’t complain about not having enough stimuli! We have also made about one million beaded necklaces, gone through at least half a dozen activity and colouring books, many pages of stickers, a few kilos of drawing paper, and we’ve also created a small zoo of origami animals.

Aside from the nice excursions and ability to enjoy the city on “off-peak” hours, it was also interesting to get a glimpse into life as a stay-at-home parent. While I often felt like I was on maternity leave again – actually this was different. On maternity/paternity leave, we spent a good deal of time just coping, and learning to function. But this time, it was much more about curating the days – finding ways to fill the hours in a constructive way that was enjoyable for everyone. And having to think about variety, but also consistency. Like – how many times in a week is too much, to have pancakes for lunch? How late can bedtime be pushed, when we don’t have to get up for any particular reason the next day? This “extra” time we ended up spending together turned out to be a gift, in many ways – almost a luxury to really be present, and observe the complexity of development going on – the kind of real presence that you can only get with solid chunks of time together. It was also a testament to how adaptable kids really are – so fascinating in their ability to accept and cope with major incidents with such stoic strength and good humour. (Also fascinating in how breaking a leg can be no big deal at all, but putting on mittens can be like Armageddon)

But that being said – I wouldn’t want to do this full time. This past month was a good balance – especially as we alternated days at home and work. It was great to have more time with Ania, but I also learned to appreciate working life more as well. And much as I think Stefan and I can pat ourselves on the back for our resourcefulness in filling 4 weeks at home – could we do it on a permanent basis? That would be really, really hard. Today I really felt it, as I tried to muster the energy to get really excited about playing pirates, again….Or build a fort, again…. Or play supermarket, again. And much as I do love to do those things with Ania, at a certain point these are things that are actually just more fun for her to do with other kids her age. And that’s what dagis is for. And just as we are ready for a return to normal routine, it’s evident that Ania is too – talking about her friends now daily, and how she misses them, and the conversations they’re going to have when she returns. I think the cast is getting really itchy now too, so even the novelty of her snazzy lilac accessory is wearing thin, and she’s starting to long for the moment it comes off. Soon!!!

Here are some random snapshots from our daily life of late:

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Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s good to have holiday-appropriate clothing.

I found an long-lost abandoned piece of knitting that turned out to be a perfect little mini-scarf for Ania. And also a perfect Valentine's Day gift!

I found an long-lost abandoned piece of knitting that turned out to be a perfect little Valentine’s mini-scarf!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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String is always a good way to liven up the day.

Inspired by an episode of the Swedish cartoon, Alfons Åberg.

Inspired by an episode of the Swedish cartoon, Alfons Åberg.

Sometimes we just like hanging out in our swimsuit...

Sometimes we just like hanging out in our swimsuit…

Out on the town

Out on the town

Vietnamese lunch. Somebody has eaten quite well this past month.

Vietnamese lunch. Somebody has eaten quite well this past month.

We attempted to feed the ducks yesterday. Still a bit too icy on the water, but it was a spectacularly sunny day.

We attempted to feed the ducks. Still a bit too icy so there weren’t many takers, but it was a spectacularly sunny day.

A little bit of attitude, yes.

Colour-coordinated princess with a little bit of attitude, yes.

We’ve managed quite a few nice field trips this past week, which has done wonders for breaking up the routine. Since Ania is not actually “sick”, only just slightly less mobile than normal, we may as well make the most of our days together. So on Wednesday Ania and I returned to one of our regular favourites, Kulturhuset, for painting, sculpting and reading – and pancake lunch of course! Then on Thursday, Stefan took her to Vasamuseet, where they both enjoyed exploring the famously doomed ship that sunk in the Stockholm harbour on its maiden voyage in the 1600s. This was a great excursion for the littlest P, who has recently been very into pirates – and the Vasa is pretty much the closest she’s come so far to anything like a pirate ship! And on Friday, Stefan continued his history lessons by taking her to Livrustkammaren (the Royal Armoury) – where they could look at all kinds of jewels and costumes, and even try on crowns and stuff like that. Here are some photos from Wednesday – our little artist in action!

Painting afternoon at the art workshop at Kulturhuset

One of our favourite activities – painting at Kulturhuset

 

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Double-brush action

Double-brush action

Workshop with a view over the city center

Workshop with a view

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We also sculpted a mold and learned how to mix plaster, which we then poured into the mold.

And here was the result!

And here was the result!

Cleanup area. "Gips" means "plaster" in swedish, but is also the same word for "cast" :)

Cleanup area. “Gips” means “plaster” in swedish, but is also the same word for “cast” :)

 

Digging into a pancake lunch at Kulturhuset

Another good thing about Kulturhuset – they have pancakes!

They also have these irresistible sci-fi reading chairs in the library

They also have these irresistible sci-fi reading chairs in the library.

 

 

 

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