Saturday, 30 May 2009

Multi-tasking breakdown!

I thought I could multi-task but kids have a way of sometimes breaking down those assumptions...

Take a look at these two photos. Let's call them exhibit A and B - on the left and right respectively.

Exhibit A is a bottle of shower gel and a some moisturising lotion. Exhibit B is a Pippi Lånstrump (Longstocking) doll.

Yesterday was like any other school day around breakfast - trying to fit in the odd chore whilst ensuring all are getting fed, dressed and generally being happy. So, when Alice and Emily settled down to watch a little children's TV I decided to nip in for a quick shower.

Just after getting into the shower Emily comes into the bathroom to check what's going on. She has the doll, holding it out and gesturing. This is a request/demand. It means she wants a song. So I give a couple of verses of pippi långstrump whilst getting the shower gel.

Multi-tasking breakdown!

After giving the song a couple of times Emily wants more. But then I realise that I'm not getting the usual soapy lather from the shower gel -> Exhibit A. Yes, of course I've somehow picked up the moisturising lotion during the singing and rubbed copious amounts into my hair!

This reminds me of a story when I was supposed to give Alice a bath before they were having their photo taken at nursery. For one reason or another the shampoo got missed and the hair washing was done with the bath water - which contained baby oil. So the photos that year were with lank and greasy hair. Good photos, although I was taken off pre-photo bathtime duty the year after!

So then I was trying to wash the moisturising lotion out of my hair. Emily had grown impatient with the pause... I caught her with the toilet lid open and Pippi about to be dropped into the bowl - I don't know if this was a threat or just some opportunist behaviour. My semi-shriek saved the day and I continued the singing whilst trying to get the moisturiser out of my hair.

Multi-tasker again!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Who lives in a house like this?

Just a regular everyday morning. We're all having a breakfast of turkish yoghurt, walnuts and honey. All enjoying it - especially Emily who has decided that it must some sort of combined face cream and hair mousse - you get the picture....

Then I get a phone call - "look out of the window at Globen." Globen is our local spherical building - doesn't everyone have one? Well I take a look, then call for Alice to check it out.

Something different, but I can't quite work out what.

Let's take a closer look....

Ah yes, the neighbours have left all their windows shut. Their cat won't be able to get back in....

Now breakfast is finished and Emily has finshed her facial and hair treatment. Just another regular day.

Title of the post? That was a bit of Lloyd Grossman nostalgia....

Monday, 18 May 2009

Dummies for the kittens...

Traditions are good to keep going. The other weekend we made our first trip of the year to Skansen. There were two reasons, (1) to give Alice's old dummies to the new baby animals and (2) to see the new baby bears.

The Climbing Frame
Limbering up

One of the rituals about visiting Skansen is that Alice enjoys warming up on the climbing frame. This is about 14ft/4.5m tall and she gets up to the top without any trouble.

That's progress. It was only just over 1 year ago that she climbed this and got stuck near the top. Well it was down to me to go up and fetch her - a bit tricky higher up as it's only designed for children.

Emily is following in Alice's footsteps so I'm just wondering how long before I need to fetch her.


There's a small children's zoo in Skansen - this has kittens, rabbits, chicken, kid goats and guinea pigs. Some can be petted. Well, there's a tradition of handing over dummies to the newborn animals.

The Wishing Well for Dummies
It's partly a transition for kids - they've done with their dummies and now they're handing them over to the animals that might need them. 

Quite a good idea and a talking point for children to discuss when they want to stop using them.

Alice made a present, tied up with a ribbon, for the kittens. 

The package was placed in the wishing well - with the hundreds of other dummies.

Alice hasn't used a dummy in a long time, but then we haven't been to Skansen in a long time either.


It was a glorious day. The seals were a favorite, the new born brown bears (out of hibernation in the last month) looked very cuddly, the moose looked lethargic and  the bison huge and hairy. All very photogenic.

However, the animal that got the most interaction from Alice was a squirrel. 

{{Potd/2008-04-27 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

Near the bear enclosure a semi-tame red squirrel came by to look at the people. Alice offered her hand and it came up to her for a sniff, retreating when there was no food on show. 

This was interpretted as a game of tag. The transition from semi-tame, semi-calm to semi-scared-witless squirrel was very quick. 

It was a close thing but it did manage to get away in the end!

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Friday, 15 May 2009

"Miss Dad" for the day...

Another step into the unknown.

Thursday was the local area nursery day when all the nurseries in the area had a "hat parade" to a local field and a show was put on for all. I was invited (as an "at home" parent) to help keep an eye on the kids - maybe to spot any runaways.

I was happy to go along and get involved - especially as it didn't expect much from me! It was suggested that Alice would have to call me "Fröken Pappa" (Miss Dad) for the day...

The hat parade took us in a snaking slow march to the field where several other nurseries were assembled to see a 2-man band perform a 45minute show. 36 kids from Alice's nursery plus all the other nurseries added up to a lot of children.


The performers had a bubble machine - this was appreciated by the kids. They had a burst at the start of the show. No problems sending a load of bubbles over a crowd of kids when they weren't "warmed up".

The show got the kids more active in all sorts of different action songs. Towards the end of the show they were very "warmed up" and maybe on the limits of their attention spans. 

Then off goes the bubble machine again.

Off go quite a lot of 4, 5 and 6 year-olds - in several directions - trying to catch the bubbles. 

It was like a scene from "The Great Escape" where the prisoners are going in all directions to evade capture. 

In the case of the kids it was more innocent - the wind was swirling the bubbles every which way - into the trees, across fields and into the distance. Lots of frantic shouting from various teachers - children aren't so responsive when their attention span has been stretched. 

I could almost hear the cursing under the breath "who's stupid idea was it to set off the bubble machine now..."

I did my bit - keeping track of the different directions in which the kids were disappearing - rugby tackles from me were not needed....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Inflation, Economics and the road to Superdad


"I'm a celebrity get me out of here....." Well not quite, more like "I've come home with three kids, what do I do?" This was the scenario the other day - Alice's best friend came home with us. 

I had semi-mentally prepared for this - how to do a Kofi Annan when hostilities breaks out, keep them ineterested, fed, happy and alive...

I know that to kids in the 4yr+ bracket it's a bit of a status symbol to bring someone home or go home with someone. Alice had wanted this for a while but it hadn't quite fitted (bad timing and lots of illness) - until now!

So, we were on the way home, the phone call had been made to mum not to be late - in case things turned ugly...

Economics for Kids

It's all about supply and demand. My job (in their eyes) is to supply what they demand. First request: "Can we jump on the bed with Emily" - I had to turn this one down and it probably leads to Emily being bounced off the bed....

For most of the time they were fairly self-sufficient and more inventive than I could've been - putting on makeup to become prowling tigers - with blue stripes! Being prey to the tigers was a given demand.

The food/dinnertime wasn't so stunning - there was more time spent over who sits where than acutal eating. This discussion was done during an interupted dressing-up session - one was complete with ballgown, high heels and sparkly earrings and the other in just underwear. 

The food wasn't so interesting - maybe due to a dodgy food combination (later post.) They wanted desert...

Superdad & Opinion Polls

We all have to have the odd trick up the sleeve. The type that's dished out now and again - either to keep the voters (children) happy, keeping the approval rating up, in times of emergency (the break glass in case of...) or the occasional arm-twister.

Yes, there'd be a smoothie if the food went down. 

This didn't get the expected resonse from friend that I was used to - even Emily was getting excited at the sight of the blender. "What was in it?" After explaining the contents: yoghurt, banana, raspberry and blueberry - and with Alice chipping in that's it's almost like ice cream - still a glum face.

Mmm, what was it? "I don't like blueberries...", "Ok, then no blueberries". Easier said than done - as the berries were frozen and mixed together. Oh well, this dad was going to have to work for his ratings! After painstakingly separating frozen berries and extracting one type for the blender, the smoothies were made and presented. Of course, the went down like a treat.

The Show

When Alice and friend are together the visit is always rounded off with a bit of circus performance. Today was no exception - bring on the lion tamer to tame the rabbits...

So, I escaped the first "follow-home" without too much physical or psychological damage - a few steps outside the comfort zone always makes things more interesting!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Double decker tripping

{{en}}Storstockholms Lokaltrafik no. 4505, a L...Image via Wikipedia

Transport Paella

A couple of weeks ago we had a full day out - drama school, lunch, ferry, museum, shopping and restaurant. 

The museum was the spårvägmuseet (Transport and Toy Museum.)  Everyone in the family had been here before - except me - it was a first for me.

Hot sunny day outside; cool and quiet inside. Very nice for a break (fika.) But first I had a go on the miniture railway - actually a miniture tunnelbana (underground) - with Alice. As the place was so empty we had the trip to ourselves.

Alice had been on the thing many times and so I got a running commentary from Alice on what to see and look out for. "Oh, there's a man that's fallen onto the tracks..."

The really interesting part though was after coming out of the museum. We were comtemplating how to get to a different part of Södermalm - which bus to get and when - when up pulled an old bus (maybe not so surprising outside a tram & bus museum.) Well, let's ask the driver if he knows the best way to Slussen.

Hey presto, he was going there. 

The only problem was this was a bus from the 60's and we had a modern pram that was designed for modern buses (or vice-versa). So we crammed the pram between the gangway after the back door - blocking off access to the back of the bus (luckily no-one was there) - and upstairs we went. Even better it was free.

Top floor at a Leyland Atlantean in Stockholm ...Image via Wikipedia

What's so special about a double-decker bus?

Well, they haven't run in Stockholm since 1976 - so it's a very odd sight - so for a bus to pull up just as we come out of the museum and to be heading to our destination was a bit of luck. 

For me it was a bit nostalgic as it was just like the buses I remember from the 70's - before they got modern...

We sat upstairs at the back window (the front upstairs seats were occupied) and waved at passers-by (who were waving back at this unusual sight - both the bus and enthusiastic wavers!)

For the bus-nerds in the audience it was a Leyland Atlantean from 1967....

Favourite Toy

The toy part of the museum was filled with very old toys - old dolls houses, teddy bears, train sets, tin soldiers etc. 

Alice's favourite toy in  the museum was a Nintendo - probably because it was the only one that was touchable!
Emily's favourite toy was a crayon - probably because she could eat it!

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Friday, 8 May 2009

Wakey, wakey! (part 4)

Sometimes getting Alice out of bed is a real struggle. The other day Emily stepped in to help out...

Emily climbs onto Alice's bed - no mean achievement climbing onto a full-size bed.

First she begins with a bit of gentle trampling... No response.

Emily then limbers up with her WWF manoeuvres - this seems like fun (for Emily) - moving round the bed stumbling over legs and body. No real response.

The bookshelf above the bed now looks interesting. Assorted books start coming down onto the bed. Finally she finds something she'd like to look at more closely - a toy make-up set. But then back to the task in hand...

The exercise is finished by sitting on Alice's head. It's the full-nappy effect again. Alice is up and awake, if a little bit grumpy...

Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Crocodile Taming on the Chickenpox Run

For the last 3 weeks there has been chickenpox going around at dagis. One by one (sometimes in batches of 3 or 4) Alice's classmates have fallen victim. 

We haven't been worried about her getting it - as I'm currently at home we don't have to make special working arrangements, and she'd probably get it more leniently at this age (even better if Emily got it at the same time!)

So, when we found out that one of Alice's best friends had got chickenpox we were round there like a flash. The instructions were clear: "Do as much hugging as you like and be generally infectious and infectable..."

We're currently awaiting the results.

Circus Act

Well Alice and friend are no stangers to play-acting, dressing-up and generally performing in one way or another. Whilst they were together, trying to be infectious they put on a circus routine.

It began in the usual manner, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome...". Then we were treated to various animals in a lion-tamer act (apart from lion) - there was crocodile, tiger, seal and shark taming.

Occasional intervention from the ring-master was required to save the audience....

Alice managed to show her mischievous side again. Whilst outside she wanted to help hosing down some garden furniture. Well, sometimes you have to learn by experience - and when the hose was handed over to Alice the people in the firing line were the ones without the necessary experience - and got a "little wet". "Ooops!" 

I, having seen this before, was at a safe distance!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Hurt feelings of the un-hugged child?

Amateur psycho-analysis on 4 yr olds doesn't work!

What happens when you break a promise? No matter how innocently done - even if you didn't make the promise - it was made on your behalf by your daughter? 

Does that count that you broke a promise you didn't make? Of course it does!

Alice's friend didn't get a hug on Friday (see "You can hug my dad on Friday"). It wasn't my fault - but I don't think that will stand up in child court guv...

This was complicated by the fact that a different friend of Alice gave me a hug the week after whilst I was saying goodbye to Alice. Freaked-out! What if the first friend saw that?

I had this foreboding that once either Alice, friend or both remember this then one of several things will happen. 
  1. They'll laugh it off and say I'm "snurrig i huvudet" ("messed-up in the head"), 
  2. They'll think I'm mean, or 
  3. Things move on and it's not relevant anymore.

Well, for a combination of reasons I didn't see the first friend for most of the following week - bad timing and chickenpox (see later post). By then, I was obviously the only one remembering this....

All this analysis... I felt bad because the friend's dad wasn't around - he was "away with the elephants" - hence the reason for wanting the hug.

Conclusion: Don't over-analyse - at this age it's nearly always option (1) or (3)!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Goodbye April Fool, Hello May Twit

The April fool is gone, welcome the May twit!

We've had a month of Alice's  April fool gags (There's an elephant behind you!) - accompanied by the appropriate rhyme ("April, April, din dumma sil, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill" - "April fool, I can fool you as I like").

This marks an interesting development - recognizing when your leg's being pulled (I get the comment, "pappa, you're joking aren't you?" - usually in response to some exaggerated statement or even some nonsense said with a straight face) and also trying it out yourself.

I think it also demonstrates imagination and inventiveness, maybe sometimes bordering on the bizarre.

Now we're into May. No more April fools rhyme. Or??? 

No, now a new one starts - "Maj, Maj, Måne, Jag kan lura dig till Skåne" - back to that obsession with Skåne! This is really just an alternative to the first rhyme (again only meant for 1st April) - but it looks like this is the May verse now.

I don't think there are any rhymes with June in them...

Monday, 4 May 2009

Storage solutions of the friendly little poltergeist!

The friendly little poltergeist?

Yes, we have the activity constantly going on around the home.

Objects move, contents of boxes are emptied, empty boxes are filled, clothing ends up on the floor, keys go missing and underwear disappears...

This is Emily at work - and she gets very busy with it too! An all-day activity.

A lot of effort goes into this - there is always something to move, whether it's taking a book from a table and placing it in a different room. It might be a sock going walkabout or even a shoe - but never a pair!

This isn't normally a problem - except for when it's needed - usually in a rush before going out!

After some experience I'm now beginning to see things from Emily's perspective.

If my keys go missing I'll now check the contents of the shoes in the hallway. 

If a pair of Alice's underwear goes walkabout then I'll check the toilet bowl - probably still there as Emily can't flush the toilet yet!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Tightrope walking at the hairdressers (without a safety net!)

Neanderthal man and the missing link. I needed a haircut. 

It's quite difficult to get a haircut these days when looking after Emily - she's not likely to stay still whilst I'm in the chair and timing my haircut with her sleeping is tricky. So, it has to be a weekend - this makes things only marginally easier - fitting in with Alice's drama class and sweet shopping.

Well, two Sundays ago all the balls fell into place, the planets lined up and there was even the odd 4-leaf clover to be had. Yes, there was a bit of free time for me to get away and have the barnet sorted - a quick trip to my Jordanian hairdresser (hence being open on a Sunday) - especially if I took Alice with me.

Alice was keen to follow along and even have a haircut too. This was a slight complication!

Her last visit to a hairdresser had been nearly a year ago. What was supposed to be a trim turned out to be a WWII German helmet. Not possible to do pig/pony tails. Not a happy bunny.

So, I was under a bit of pressure.... Don't mess it up and don't bring her home in tears! This was going to be a bit of tightrope walking - without a safety net!

When we got there the place was empty and he was talking on the phone. He waved us to sit down.

Alice being observant and curious listened carefully to him on the phone. "Is he speaking Skånska?", "No", "Is it English?", "No", "But it's not Swedish!", "No I think it's Arabic."

I like my hairdresser. We're both immigrants (pseudo-underdogs), we speak Swedish to each other - even though we both speak English better than Swedish. However, there was the problem of avoiding the German helmet!

With the aid of some verbal gymnastics and several hand gestures the requirements were communicated - important that she can still have a pony tail!

Alice kept perfectly still in the chair - aided by sweets from the hairdresser, a Disney smock and maybe a bit of praying from me.

After 10 minutes of careful attention the work was over. The pony tail ability was demonstrated. Alice had a very good frisör (acceptable to Alice and mum!) and I avoid the doghouse  - everyone a winner...

Alice was oblivious to my concerns and only had two things in mind afterwards...
  1. She was very conscious of the hairdo when we were cycling home - and messing about with the helmets - "ooh, mind my frisör" was heard a couple of times!
  2. "We got sweets! Can we have some more?"

Friday, 1 May 2009

Swine flu -> web2.0

Inetersting that the swine flu has a wiki, forum and twitter page already.
First case in Denmark today...

Wakey, wakey! (part 3)

19th century gun-boat diplomacy springs to mind!

Yesterday morning Emily had got up with mum anf after a while she started to do the rounds. 

She started with the usual pleasantries (the first diplomatic exchange) - a bit of murmuring and gurgling - the usual "good morning" and "it's time to get up now". I responded with my own brand of murmuring and gurgling. She left.

A few minutes later she returns with a fire engine in hand. I saw this and know that it's not far off half a kilo in weight. She's getting nearer to my head....

Did a quick calculation. Got out of bed straightaway! (To appreciate this calculation read part 1 & part 2.)

This was obviously an escalation (in diplomatic stakes) and I didn't want to call any bluff!

Fire-engine diplomacy! What's next???