Archive for November, 2012

Oh, friends.

Do you know what I’d be thankful for this year?

Some consistency in maintaining perspective.

Because then I’d maybe really be able to write a ”What I’m Thankful For” post like I have the last couple of years and feel it was actually truthful.

As it stands now, I haven’t been very thankful in 2012. Probably because I have too much time on my hands to think about the things I wish I could be doing or the people I wish I could be helping but not quite enought time/energy/gumption to DO anything. Or because I like to blame people/things for that lack of time/energy/gumption. Things like cultures and inconsistent hours of daylight. People like those who make up said cultures, and occasionally my innocent husband. (I really do try to steer away from that one, albeit with varying degrees of success.)

But let’s give it a go anyway.

1) I am thankful for my (usually innocent) husband. I just composed a paragraph in my head as follow-up to that statement, but for the sake of maintaining some  sense privacy on the world wide web, just trust me when I say I’m right to be thankful for this.

2) I am thankful for my children, who can make me laugh and cry, turn me into my best possible self and my worst possible self, all within the span of a day…or a few minutes. I am thankful for the ages they are at — that Emilian is in that early 2-year stage where he takes pride in putting things in their place and following instructions, and that Karel is in that 4-year stage that makes me close my eyes and pray for patience more than ever.

3) I am thankful for books on parenting/kids, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics ”The Complete and Authoritative Guide: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child.” One day not long ago I was so thankful for this passage: ”Before you know it, the somewhat clam child of three becomes a dynamo of energy, drive, bossiness, belligerence, and generally out-of-bounds behavior. ….chasing off in all directions…difficult age to handle…emotional highs and lows,” (pp. 356-57)  that I wanted to find someone from the American Academy of Pediatrics and knock him/her over with a gigantic bear hug, just for letting me know that if I were to be experiencing any of those behaviors with my 4 year old, it would be normal and would not (necessarily) mean I failed in some crucial step of parenting somewhere along the line.

4) I am thankful for my small kitchen. This is only because I did a thorough cleaning of it the other day.

5) I am thankful the kids eat carrots.

6) I am thankful that we see family/friends from the U.S. at least once a year. A couple of my friends here will be seeing their families in or near their home countries for the first time in three years. Doesn’t make being far any easier for me, but at least keeps some perspective.

I am thankful we see family here in Norway frequently, and that we LIKE to see them. Believe me, this is not something I take for granted. God be praised for the blessing of a loving family, both near and far.

7) I will be thankful when this year is over. Because it’s been another one of those skin-shifting, expectation-wrangling, comfort-zone-stretching, growing-while-feeling-like-failing years. But the end is in sight, and I’m hoping to enter the next year standing a little taller and looking a little less confused.

8) I am thankful for the kindness of people. I am thankful that in appreciating their non-judgementalness I am reminded to not be judgemental. I am thankful to be reminded by an act of kindness shown to me,  the importance of showing acts of kindness to others.

9) Don’t feel neglected, little growing one ”in mama’s tummy.” I’m very thankful for you. You’re the one I know how to take care of. Those pictures of you last week have kept us on a high ever since. As long as you come out knowing how to hold on, we’ll be just fine.

Okay. That wasn’t so bad. It’s just one of those falls where instead of gushing we give high-fives and keep on keeping on.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you all, as you sit together in the peace that passes all understanding, hearts and minds kept in our Lord Christ Jesus.
Now go eat some pie!


*** Oh, for pete’s sake. That was kind of a depressing Thanksgiving post, wasn’t it?? Those holiday twinges of homesickness must have made it to the overflow point yesterday. Please forgive the lack of holiday cheer at that particular moment in time, and thank you for being vent-ees. 🙂 The midwife today mentioned the emotional ups-and-downs that occur in pregnancy…and I just laughed.  ***

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Today it was seeing each perfect, tiny little vertebra in our baby’s back.

I don’t think I will ever get over the marvel of an ultrasound. Showing me, inside me, what this little life is up to. Reassuring us that so far, so far, everything looks fine. Looked better than fine to me — ”s/he’s perfect,” I kept thinking.  I don’t know why it was so dramatic this time around; maybe even though I think about this baby a lot, it’s sometimes laced with insecurity over my ability to take care of another one. (Seriously, Emil Birk wakes up wrestling with Karel.) But seeing her face, a tiny thumb pointing up saying ”it’s all good, mama,” a leg squirming away from the waves of the ultrasound; felt a lot like those minutes after birth, when you just know that it’s going to be fine because your baby is fine. Better than fine, actually. As close to perfect as one can get on this side.

(Little one’s gender shall not be revealed…. so pronouns are arbitrary!)

So that was a definite bright spot in this week of single-parenting. And great to confirm how many babes are in there, a matter I’ve spent WAY too much time googling in the last months. The boys are ready for pappa to come home, I think. Their differences have been highlighted in the last few days, especially in the mornings and evenings. You know, when we actually need to get somewhere. Like bed. Emil goes into hyper-crazy-whirlwind mode, which CAN be funny when it involves cheerleader stances and enthusiasm for random food items (”PINE- APPLE!!! PINE- APPLE!!!), but is NOT funny when it involves refusing to lie still in bed. Karel, on the other hand reverts to deaf turtle mode. Meaning a decreased capacity to hear instructions and total incapacity to follow through on those instructions once they DO penetrate. There is something about taking 20 minutes to wash hands that makes me crazy.

I’m sure that there is some very calm, collected way to embrace their individuals styles and channel them into the directions I’d like them to go, but I just haven’t stumbled upon that little zen pocket of understanding yet.

Anyway, at least they usually like each other. (she types over shouts of ”NEII!!! Nei!!)

Gotta go. Here’s a pic of belly just shy of 20 weeks — late at night, after a plate of nachos. And one of Emilian who likes to put things on his head.

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…but, trust me, the pictures don’t do him justice. This was the cutest Halloween turtle ever.

Our friends and neighbors invited us to their annual Halloween party last weekend.

I have a little bit of guilt about Halloween. It’s an up-and-coming holiday around here, with more and more kids out trick-or-treating etc. One American friend of ours hosts a very cool, all-out Halloween party for her kids’ classmates, complete with a haunted house and games and imported candy.

This year I didn’t even manage to get a pumpkin carved. My guys are a bit too young to care, and I’m a bit too un-energetic lately to single-handedly make it happen. So anyway, to me, Halloween = work, and we all know how I feel about more work.

ANYWAY, we were invited to the neighbors for pumpkin soup and trick-or-treating, an invitation we very gladly accepted. However, despite all my best intentions, as of the morning of the party no constumes had been decided on. Which was maybe for the best — four-year-olds can be fickle. So at breakfast I asked Karel what he wanted to dress up as for the Halloween party (and then held my breath and did not make eye contact because the night before when I asked him he’d said ”a camel.”). ”A turtle. Are turtles the slowest animal in the wuh-ruhld?”

Insert sigh of relief. From two humps down to one. A turtle I could handle.

Incidentally, while Emil really is into drawing (or having us draw things — lately he wants us to draw people he knows, which, um challenges our artistic abilities), Karel has very limited interest in all things crafty. Every once in a while I’ll try to be a good mom and initiate a craft project, just to be the only one who finishes it. So while I had a vision of us working on this costume together, I was very well aware that that was more of a delusion than anything.

Anyway, we cut, colored, and pasted and magically had a turtle shell. He was so excited about green face paint that he was giggling while I put it on.

As it turned out, dressing up as a turtle was a pretty good choice for our first-born. He wasn’t well acquainted with some of the other kids at the party, so played the part and crouched under his shell, observing. While out trick-or-treating, he occasionally lagged behind which just looked really appropriate — Pokemon, princess, and witch, with a contemplative tortoise following ten steps behind.

Anyway, the kids were excited to be out and Karel was over the moon about all his candy. (”Mama, I am super-duper happy about all my candy!”) I was explaining to the other moms about how it is in the States — how the candy has to be individually wrapped, etc., etc. One man didn’t have any candy so he distributed bananas. We can’t give out fruit any more, can we?

The banana-man didn’t feel good about it either, apparently; 15 minutes later as the kids were standing on another doorstep on the same street, we see a car pull up. ”That’s the banana-man!!” I whispered to the mom next to me, who had no idea what I was talking about. Turns out he’d driven down to the store as soon as we left to pick up some candy, and was now delivering it. 🙂 ”But make sure to brush your teeth — I’m a dentist, so I’m a bit concerned about that!”

He can rest assured that the bananas were eaten, and the remaining candy is in a bowl on top of the fridge, where it could possible remain for eternity.

Emil wore the dinosaur costume we inherited from the Ramseys, and it seemed to suit him well. He didn’t join in trick-or-treating, but I think being around the big kids and playing with balloons pretty much made his night.  I accepted the oohs and ahs of ”you made that turtle shell yourself?? This morning? Using a berry-sorter?” WITHOUT bringing to attention the fact that that was the ONLY costume I had made, as Bjørn and I were the only adults not in costume, and Emil’s was pulled from a hanger in the closet. There are some weeks you just don’t look gift-praise in the mouth.


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My favorite parts of the day lately are when I lay back on the couch and just wait to feel the baby move.

This part of pregnancy is the part that I like, the part I think fondly of after those God-given hormones of attachment have over-ridden the memories of first-trimester fatigue and labor.

This is the part where your belly sticks out on its own– due to an enlarged uterus instead of bloatedness.  (Right, so there IS the frustration of not having appropriate maternity-sized long underwear, and the embarrassment of forgetting to rebutton your jeans after you’ve unbuttoned them to sit more comfortably…but let’s just ignore that for the time being.)

This is the part when you can actually feel that you’re never alone. The kicks and somersaults and punches won’t let you forget; won’t let you be lonely. Sometimes Bjørn and I like to play ”guess that move.”

This is the part that is still far enough away from the baby’s actual arrival that you can be excited and glowy about this kicking-spinning little one inside you without needing to begin to strategize about how/what/when/HOW you’re going to manage three when at the moment you maybe feel like you’re failing the two that you already have.

Did I mention we’re pregnant? Emil Birk enters into middle-child- syndrome as of April 2013.

Anyone know a good therapist?

Really though, it is so great to be past those first 14 weeks. The faTIGUE. Seriously. Maybe those of you I’ve talked to thought I was kidding when I said that during those weeks the thought of a 3rd child was terrifying… I wasn’t. As the boys were rolling and wrestling all over the couch, I would just stand there with a presumably glazed-over look, imagining that same scene except holding a tiny fragile newborn.

(Do you know what I would like to see once? Just once? I would like to see another mom here have that glazed-over look of completely lost control on her face. They’ve got to be feeling it, but maybe just better at concealing it. Right? Right???)

And who knew that those uncomfortable side effects of baby-hosting would show up MONTHS earlier the third time around? Yeah, probably all of you who have had 2+ kids. I didn’t get the memo. Or I did get the memo, and dug out my extremely attractive compressive stockings to keep those veins in check already at week six. (Every time I wash them out I flash back to working at the nursing home. Anyway.)

ANYWAY — we made it through, thanks to Bjørn, who picked up meters and meters of slack, and barnehage, who entertained the boys much more than I did/could. I assume with less yelling. And we’re totally stoked — thankfully the terror subsided as expected with an increase in energy.

So yay for babies in 2013!! Anyone else joining in?


(I really tried right now to take a ”bump” photo despite the fact that I’m still in my pajamas, but it just didn’t work. Maybe later.)


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