Sunday, 29 July 2012

Henry's quilt

My sister-in-law, the children's 'faster' (father's sister) made Freddy a lovely patchwork quilt (which you can see here) when he was a baby and now it's Henry's turn to be given one!
As usual it's not even 7 o'clock in the morning and the boys are on the deck.  They love being in a 'boat' on the water - it's probably Freddy's most played game.
Thanks so much Mia, it will be treasured.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cruising the stairs

Our little 10 month old cruiser has been busy practicing going up and down stairs for the last few weeks.

When he crawls he goes head first down the stairs no matter how much we try to teach him to go backwards.  It results in everyone around him holding their breath and leaning in as if ready to catch him as he slips but you know what, his technique seems to be working.

After the anguish of watching him neartly fall down the stairs on many occasions I was relieved to see his next endeavor was to tackle them standing up.  He went up and down a step or two - just enough to see if it was easier or harder than his existing method.
It's been really fun watching Henry develop so far because he is so different to Freddy.  He will not be rushed into doing anything he isn't ready for and my claims to the family that he would be walking this month have been met with utter indifference on his part; that'll teach me :) 

You take your time little chubby legs, we've got all the time in the world. x

Friday, 27 July 2012

Redcurrant cordial

It's that time of year again to strip the redcurrants and blackcurrants from the bushes and make a batch of tasty cordial.
We made saft (cordial) last year from a mixture of black and red berries so this year we chose the same combination.
I was a bit disappointed that this year we didn't use the ceiling light to hang the dripping juice from but we've got to start being careful what we demonstrate to Freddy, especially if it involves hanging scolding hot fruit from a dangling wire. 
The three berry bushes in the garden yielded enough fruit for nearly about 1.5 litres of cordial (which is diluted with water to be drunk).  That's a lot of goodness packed into a simple drink. 

By the way, I tried the cordial before Farfar added sugar to it and I thought it was absolutely delicious.  I would have been more than happy to not add any sugar at all but Farfar scoffed at the thought of it - not on his watch!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Busy Farfar

I've written many times about Farfar and his carpentry skills - he always has a project in mind and I don't think I've ever seen him just take it easy all day.  If we were in England I would describe Farfar as having 'ants in his pants' but I'm not sure what the Swedish equivalent saying is.

Here's his latest project:
He had already built a Fika deck but suddenly decided to expand it.

What a great excuse it was for Freddy to get his little tools out. 
This photo makes me laugh because I had just bought a new camera (to replace all the other cameras that get saliva or sand in them) and I inadvertently selected the 'pop' photo setting so that all pictures are given a slight technicolour uplift to make them more funky.  Perhaps it's not so obvious here but I had the setting going for 2 weeks so some of my pictures are a bit harsh on the eye :).  You might have noticed it when I photographed my husbands secret stash of sweets.
And then it was finished!  A new and improved place to have a fika and a perfect place for the children to play. 
The new wood colour will change to match the old after a few years of snows and ice.

The wide steps have been great for Henry to practice crawling up and down them.  I shall have to post some pictures of his technique as it's quite funny.

IKEA Undercover - Choklad Bollar

Have you ever tried these delicious little goodies?  We used to buy them at IKEA every time we visited but they are so easy to make yourself.
Here is proud little Freddy (31 months) showing off his coconut covered chocolate balls that he made (and ate) with Farfar.   You can find out how to make them by reading this post.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Stenkulor (stone balls)

We recently visited an industrial museum - I'm going to write a few posts about it because it was so amazing. It was during this visit that I discovered Stenkulor (stone marbles) Aren't they beautiful?

To an untrained eye these little balls look like normal marbles but they are very different.


Stenkulors are made using the same principle of making a snowball.  A small stone is thrown into a cement mixer filled with sand, cement and a natural colour pigment and the mixture is spun until the kulors reach the desired size.


They began to be sold in Sweden in the 1920s and back then there were many manufacturers.  Now though it's just this guy on his own making them (15 million each year) which are sold all around the world.  Oh and isn't is fantastic that his jacket mirrors the colours of the balls being made in the background!

You can find out about some games to play with kulors on the Stenkulor website - there's a section in English too.

Here's Freddy using them to play a traditional game of bagatelle - a really great game for little hands.

[Stenkulor photo source]

Monday, 23 July 2012

Clearing the mind

Yesterday's post was a bit unusual for me but helped me a lot in a strange kind of way. 

When I started my blog I thought that I was just going to post about all the fun things we get up to as a family but sometimes other topics bubble up to the surface and beg to be written about.
 
There is no better way to clear the mind than to be in a boat.

The weather here in Sweden has been extremely unfavorable recently so the slightest hint of a thunder and lightning free afternoon and we were in the boat in seconds sailing around the little islands here.
This was Henry's first taste of being on a boat.  I wouldn't say that it was his best day ever - he prefers to be at home playing with the toilet seat or his favourite puddle of water in the garden.
Freddy on the other hand really found his sea legs!  He even steered the boat for a few minutes.   

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Getting into gear

Well it seems that I have been on a minor blogging hiatus.

I have so many half finished posts that I just don't know where to start. So much I want to write about but then I keep changing my mind. And if I'm honest there is something bothering me. I just need to write it and move on.

In 6 weeks time I am due to go back to work. I worry every day about my little babies being without me but then I feel bad for wanting to write about it because, let's be honest, they aren't exactly babies anymore. I'm an attachment parent (if a label is needed) and I'd love to stay at home with them all the time - our lives seem so idyllic now but I have had a year off so it's time to face the music.

Before I had Freddy I was a career woman. Then I met my husband and everything fell into place. I finally found out what is important in life, what makes me happy, what I need and what I can give. He taught me so much about shaping one's own life and about how there is never a better time than right away to do something that you have always dreamed about.
We started our family and I took 2 years maternity leave, 1 for Freddy and 1 for Henry with just a few months of working in France in between. Since then we have been working hard to find out what our dreams are for our family and starting to put them into place. That's why this seems like such a difficult moment for me. Because going back to work (even though it won't be for very long) is not what I have been dreaming about. But it does fit in with our longer term plan which you will soon see I hope :)

I am not the type of person to have to go to work for my own sanity or in search of adult conversation - I am quite happy at home with my babies and my husband. I am never ever bored. I have a million projects and business ideas in my head that I want to try and the full support of my husband to do them. So why am I going back to work?
let's hope that by writing this I can remove the mental blockage that has been clogging up my mind and normal service can once again resume.

Thank you for bearing with me :)

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Dalahästs

One of the most recognisable symbols of Sweden is probably the dalahäst, a painted wooden horse from the province of Dalarna.

You can find these horses all over Sweden and most have similar traditional paint jobs although some are quite modern and funky.  Farfar even painted his own!

Here's Faster Mia's collection - I especially like the big one on the left hand side of the bottom shelf.
During a recent visit to a park in Stockholm we got to see some even bigger ones.  Freddy (31 months) sat on the big one.....


And Farmor and Farfar climbed on the smaller one :)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

IKEA undercover: The worlds biggest IKEA!

We are back from the countryside and staying at Farmor and Farfar's place in Stockholm for a few days so we thought that we would visit a few local attractions.

Top of my list was to visit the worlds biggest IKEA store which boasts 55 000 square metres of floorspace. It was the second store ever built (the first was in Småland where the founder of IKEA was from).

Originally it was just this round building but it was burnt down almost completely when the owners left two advertising signs on overnight instead of just one as they should have done.

Neither Freddy nor Henry shared my enthusiasm for the visit but thankfully we had backup with us in the form of Farfar (Freddy's Father's Father), Farmor (Freddy's Father's Mother), Faster Mia (Freddy's Father's Sister Mia) and Ingift Farbror Håkan (Freddy's Father's Sister's husband Håkan).
 
The entrance has a huge escalator to take you to the top of the original circular building then you just walk down following the corkscrew floors until you get to the new and extended market hall building at the bottom.
 
Inside it looked pretty much like another other IKEA which I was a little disappointed about. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting but to come to the home of IKEA, and the biggest one in the world at that, I thought it might be filled with Dalahästs and Swedish souvenirs that I could use for my culture swap packages.

Henry loved the projected signs.

And it's pretty cool that you can buy screws if you lose (or if your child eats) any.

Note that my children always end up trouserless no matter where we go.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Toddler Wobbler

Henry (9.5 momths) is having a lot of fun at the moment with his toddler wobbler despite the unbelievable spate of wet weather that we have been experiencing [in the middle of summer].
He loses concentration now and then and takes a bit of a tumble.
 But he doesn't stay down for long!
 
Go get'um Lilla Plutten!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Swedish goodies

Is it liqouice or licorice?  Who knows.  But here in Sweden it's called lakrits.
Swedish people LOVE lakrits - you can tell because when you buy sweets and treats ('godis' in Swedish) there is always a lakrits variety.  It goes in chocolate, on cakes, it flavours drinks, sweets and teas; you can even buy licorice flavoured ice-cream!

My extensive Google based research suggests that the reason Swedes love licorice so much is because they have a naturally salty palette from centuries of eating salt preserved fish and meat during the long cold winters.

I don't know for sure but I can tell you that when you eat with my Swedish family you can tell they are very partial to adding salt.

There is even an annual Licorice Festival in Stockholm which boasts over 600 square metres of licorice on display each year.

I had intended just to write about licorice here but I'm afraid I just can't help myself; My childish sense of humour must point out something that I find funny about Swedish sweets..... their names!
Call me crazy but I can't help but notice that Swedish sweets are often named after the British words for bodily functions and underwear...

And who can't resist a......
What about me?  I can't stand it.  I have fully embraced many many aspects of Swedish culture but lakrits is just not my cup of tea.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Where it all started

Last year it was Freddy being pulled around the garden by Farfar.  This year he has a little brother along for the ride too!
It's great to find some common ground for them - something that they both enjoy doing that doesn't (usually) end up with Henry being jumped on or pushed over.
It didn't take long for Henry to learn from his big brother that it's fun to make 'brrrrrrrr' sounds whilst being driven either.  He uses the same noise when he drives a fork across the table or a sock on the floor too!
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