Archive for the ‘birthdays’ Category

Today I’m 35.

Thirty-five! I had to check with my Mom to hear if that is middle-aged or not. Evidently it’s not. Yet. Getting rougher around the edges with every year… and also accumulating nicer clothing. I suspect the two are related.

Anyway, today the sun was shining, Cai Ruben was the only boy home, and I was the only one sick. So after *our* nap, we spent the afternoon outside.

Honestly, after the past month of revolving door sickdom, having a few moments of walking down the road hand-in-hand with CR (in between the moments he was running towards any available incline) was one of those flashes of perfection God slips us every so often. The bright spots your soul stores up to keep you from hitting rock bottom when things are not so harmonious. The beauty of having made it to this lovely non-middle-age of 35 is knowing that when you get a moment like that, you enjoy it right then and there. I don’t expect it to last. He’s gonna run up someone’s driveway in about 5 seconds. And laugh and run faster when I call him back.

Or like when your four-year-old falls asleep on top of you in a way that is lovely and sweet and flashes you back to when his toes hit your belly button instead of your knees. Just. Enjoy it.  He’s going to wake up and start pounding his brother on the head (WHERE DID HE LEARN THAT??).

Or when our 6 year old knew that I meant it when I said that all I wanted for my birthday was hugs from my boys, and gave them to me all day long. He’s going to air-guitar with a chair  when he’s supposed to be brushing his teeth (no, I don’t have a photo, and no, I can’t describe it any better than that) and ”forget” that we put on pajamas every single night. But before that, for some reason, he’s going to suddenly think he needs to make me a present, and get the scissors and ask for glue and make this:

bilde (8)

which I love so much I can hardly stand it. From the bilingual phonetics to the self-cut hearts, to the scrap of paper is was wrapped up in. My mother-in-law told me I was allowed to cry.

I don’t know how he would react if he knew I pasted this heart-gift all over the internet out of maternal pride. But somehow, despite starting out my 35th year with bouts of sneezing and running eyes. Karel has set the tone for the next 12 months, and I think it’s going to be pretty allright.

Read Full Post »

Okay — it’s only a couple of weeks late –wait, no 1.5 weeks late, but here are some pictures from Emil Birk’s 4th birthday:

Hahahahaha — just kidding! We didn’t take any pictures!!! Wait that’s a lie — we took one!!! But he wasn’t in it!!!! Hahahahaha….!!!!!!!!!!!

If that’s not the hitting the fast-forward button to a future middle-child-therapy session, I don’t know what is. (insert eye roll)  Sorry Emil. Remember, mama’s love language is food, not photos. I spent weeks planning your cake… which is interesting because right now I canNOT for the life of me remember what it was.


ANYWAY, Emil is a very proud four-year-old. He is in the big-kid room at barnehage, is obsessed with the word poop, has had one accident since he (miraculously) agreed to wear underwear, likes bugs, animals, secrets, and ninja turtles.

That child can push all of my buttons in the amount of time it takes me to pee. He makes me pray out loud while sitting on the toilet. (Are you getting that that happened this morning?) He laughs (literally) in the face of all discipline, but is completely gutted if a big kid he looks up to is angy with him. He hits and throws things at Karel, but somehow not at Cai. His four year old world still has trouble embracing the existance of ”bad guys” in play (E: ”This is a nice thief.” K: ”But he can’t be nice if he’s a thief.” E: ”oh. But he is.” etc. etc. cueing distress and the swooping in of the mama with the solution that if the thief says he’s sorry then he’s nice.)

Emil is not shy. Emil is not small. Emil will chase the neighbor boy out of our yard if he doesn’t want him there. He is a defender of pre-school justice.  As Emil shouted ”Du er dum!!” (”you are silly!”) from the veranda to a random boy riding his bike down the street, I realised that Emil and his big brother put us in the interesting position of being parents to one child who may have a tendency toward being teased, and one who may have a tendency toward being the teaser.

His stubborness is inherited on both sides. Hah! THAT’S where he’s underestimated us. I can out-stubborn him. Push all you want, buddy. I’m still gonna love you.

A tribute to four years with our little man of many names:

eb: sleepy baby with so much hair! :)

eb: sleepy baby with so much hair! 🙂

eb: Six months old, all cheeks.

eb: Six months old, all cheeks.

eb: food enthusiast

eb: food enthusiast

eb: comedian

eb: comedian

eb: 2 years

eb: 2 years

eb: monster trapped in a cage.... just kidding.

eb: monster trapped in a cage…. just kidding.

eb: artist

eb: artist

eb: Selfie!

eb: Selfie!

eb: big brother

eb: big brother

eb: little brother

eb: little brother

eb: Ninja turtle!

eb: Ninja turtle!

eb: proficient baker

eb: proficient baker

eb: FOUR!!!

eb: FOUR!!!


Emil, Emil Birk, Emilian, Emiis, Birkelus… still not too big to be our baby. xoxo


P.S: I remembered about the cake now! One cake with plums that he picked with our friend Heidi, per his request, generously decorated by the birthday boy himself with sprinkles and M&Ms (or ”emili-ems”, as he — and now we– call them), and surprise spider cupcakes which miraculously turned out like they were supposed to. AND pizza roll ”snails.” We share a foodie heart, me and my Emis, so I think he was pleased. eb review 011

Read Full Post »


karel birthday crop


This is the face of a six-year-old.

This is the day of chocolate chip pancakes and ice cream cake. The day of new swimming trunks and LEGOs.

This is the day we see that you are centimeter taller than when you were five.

This is the age that puts a dash of bashfulness in your pride.

This is the day I need to remember to make about you, not about me. Not about my baby born late in the afternoon five days overdue on a hot hot day in July. Not about our one year old, learning to walk, or our two year old, kicking a soccer ball. Not about our three year old, running non stop, or our four year old, talking and rhyming and building nonstop. It’s not even about our five year old, cycling and reading, reflecting, air-guitaring, big-brothering.

Today is about our six-year-old.

Six! More fingers than one hand can hold. One step further from us and towards the world.

This is the face of the boy that we loved exactly as he was, and more importantly, exactly as he is. Today.

Happy Birthday, Karel!  We promise to do our best to help you keep shining your six- year- old light into this new-old world.

3 boys karel birthday


Read Full Post »

We have a birthday party to prep for.

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this circled square on the calendar telling me our baby is one. It’s been a whole year since his stormy entrance on a typical April Sunday. Blue skies one minute, snowstorm the next.

Everyday for the past week or so I’ve been thinking back to what we were doing this time a year ago. Waiting….but not so impatiently. Meeting friends at the Easter Sunday church service, hoping the baby would come so we could name him Pascal. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.) Visiting Bjørn’s grandma in the hospital when I was there for my standard ”low measurements” ultrasound on my due date. Running errands later in the week, enjoying saying ”two days ago” when asked when the baby was due. Predicting ”maybe on Sunday,” to the moms at barnehage. Visiting friends on Saturday, because life does not slow down for number three. And during all these days, through all the Braxton Hicks contractions and sore back muscles and fatigue, thinking ”I’ll know when it’s the real thing.”


Sunday morning (as predicted, ahem) I woke up around 5:30 with a contraction. And another one about 10 minutes later. And then still another one, about 12 minutes later, even after I’d peed. And then 10 minutes, then maybe 15… but they didn’t go away. So around 7:00 I woke Bjørn up and told him maybe we should call his mom. So we called his mom at 7:30. By 8:00 I’d had like one more contraction, and I told him to call her back and say never mind.

What WAS this??? All these long and irregular intervals… I flashed back 4 1/2 years ago to a hot Wednesday in July, sitting and timing contractions with my mom at our apartment in Minneapolis. This time, blessed woman that I am, I timed them out with my mother-in-law, while fielding questions from the boys and trying not to feel stupid when Karel asked if the baby was coming today and I had to say, ”I don’t know.” (He promptly pushed both of his hands forward in the direction of where the baby would eventually exit, to keep him from popping out on the couch, I guess.)

We called, they said to time them for an hour. We did, there was no change. We called again, and those kind kind midwives asked me if I wanted to come in. Even though they were having one of their busiest days. I said yes.

Forty minutes to the hospital, folks. I had a measly three contractions.

Anyway, they received us, talked to us, examined me, listened to my perplexedness at this whole situation, and then told me that sometimes, with the third one, labor starts and then stops and then starts again.

Please now envision the ”are you serious?” face.

Three centimeters dilated after 7 hours of irregular contractions. I started giving the ”are you serious?” face in my head to all the people who told me how fast the third one was going to go.

Because they were so busy, we were giving a room way way WAY down, two hallways away from the labor rooms. No big deal. We’re easy going. We’re just going to wait and see if anything is happening, anyway.

We ate lunch. I was just back at the hospital a few weeks ago, eating lunch, and I sat in the same spot. This time I did not grip the arms of the chair and lift myself off of it everyone five minutes because of intense pain, however.

We walked to the atrium of the hospital, bought some rolls and a magazine. Stopping next to a wall to breathe every five minutes.

We took the elevator back up, back to the room, waited for someone to come. The next midwife came on shift and asked if I wanted to be examined, so we walked down the two hallways, slowly, stopping to breathe through contractions, trying not to wonder if this woman has ever seen a laboring woman in her LIFE because if she had, would she really ask me if the contractions are painful? Do I seem like I want to walk this slowly and take this many breaks?

Three hours of hard contractions every 5-7 minutes.

Four centimeters.

When she asked ”Disappointed?” I did not respond. (Please re-ask the question above)  When she asked if I wanted some pain pills, I said yes.

Slowly, painfully, back down our two hallways to our room. I managed to convince myself that if we needed to do this the long, hard way, I was going to do it the long, hard way. It was 4:30 p.m when we got back to the room and I swallowed the pills. ‘Baby by midnight’ was the new slogan.

And then the contractions sped up again. Every three minutes or so. I couldn’t do anything other than wait for/ dread them. I figured I wouldn’t be in the tub this time, like I’d been for the first two, and vaguely wondered when that transition happens of going from the clothes you came in to the much-more-appropriate-to-give-birth-in hospital gown.

But dude, the stretchy pants had to go. So there was one item of clothing off.

Fifteen minutes later, I put the call light on.  I was all about doing this the long hard way, but if it was going to be that long and this hard, I was going to need some help.

Ten minutes later no one had come, and my nice light flowy tunic top had become TOO MUCH and was now on the floor. Right before the top came off there had been a contraction so long, and so painful, that I started laughing, because really, the pain was ridiculous.

I had it in my head, friends, that this baby wasn’t coming before midnight. It did not occur to me that I might be in transition stage RIGHT NOW, meaning imminent BIRTH.

It did not occur to me until 5 minutes after I had adopted my standard, lean-on-the-back-of-the-bed, on-all-fours birthing stance AND STARTED TO DO THE LABOR SHOUT that he was coming now. Which is what I shouted. There are probably children on neighboring pediatrics ward that had their dinner interrupted by the echoes of my ”HE’S COMING!!!!!”

Which is when Bjørn took his first active role in the arrival of his son and sprinted down the hallway to find someone. Anyone.

I, in the meantime, really thought I was going to have to catch this baby by myself. As in, with the next contraction (somehow my underwear were also gone…answering the question of how one undresses to have a baby: in spastic, desperate stages), I had my hand — the one not gripping the bed — ready to catch him.

Thankfully, he did not come just then, but the midwife did. With another set of ”are you serious?” questions. ”You didn’t think to let us know [this was happening]?” ” Do you want to have the baby here?” (”I don’t care!”) ”No, no, I don’t have any equipment.”

Then came my favorite. Please remember I have on a bra and tank top (sorry Dad) and am kneeling on a hospital bed with blood on my hand from trying to catch my own son.

”Can you walk?”


I’m doing the blank stare right now.



So they took the bed. With Bjørn at the helm, the midwife and the baby nurse (who kindly covered my naked bum with a blanket) wheeled the bed down one hallway, then another, to the delivery room. While I concentrated on not pushing I wondered if they actually knew that both beds would fit in the room. They must have, because in we went. I transferred to the other bed, there was a flurry of cloths and pads and whatever other birthing paraphernalia was necessary, but I got the green light to push. Water broke on the second push. Cai Ruben was born on the third. Time of birth: 5:18 p.m.

It was a bit stressful then. I was still on my hands and knees. The baby was still connected by umbilical cord, which had wrapped itself around his neck a couple of times. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t  hear him. I couldn’t reposition myself. I just had to wait, until we could maneuver leg over cord, bottom below belly, clean sheets in place of bloody ones…but then. Then we had him. Then he was there, on my chest, where he was supposed to be. Our third son. With round ears and dark wisps of hair, and eyes that we could already see were not going to be blue. And we three sat there, laughing with wonder and disbelief, through the shaking and stitching, the surrealness enhanced by the snowflakes pouring down from the skies that had just been blue.

We decided on his name that same day, I think. I wanted a name reflecting how we felt the day 20 weeks ago when the midwife slipped up at the ultrasound and told us we were having another boy. ”Cai” is from the Latin ”Caius,” which is thought to mean ”to rejoice.” And Ruben, of course, from the Hebrew Reuben:

”Behold, a son.”



Read Full Post »

Oh my goodness. I know all moms say this, but how on earth did our middle child get to be THREE already? Karel was 5 in my head for months before his actual birthday, so that was okay (because time would stop and his birthday wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t okay, obviously) (insert eye roll), but this three year old thing is throwing me for a loop.

Emil Birk is our/my gauge of how long we’ve been in Norway, so I guess that kind of explains why it’s so weird to me that he’s getting bigger. I mean, didn’t we just move here? If I’ve lived here long enough to have two babies (WHAT?!?!), that means I should have the language down, right? (Whatever. That’s crazy talk. Living somewhere long enough to have two babies means you have at least two babies, which means basic communication in any language is a challenge. Choosing to not beat myself up over that one.)

Anyway, poor EB has been waiting for his birthday for a loooooong time. Karel had kind of a super-extended celebration, with cake and presents on multiple occasions, and Emil just kept asking when it was going to be HIS birthday. One night he totally busted out denial as a coping mechanism and told me –complete with crossed arms and tears — it was never going to be his birthday (Æ skal aldri har bursdagen min).  So when it finally came around the whole extended family on both sides of the ocean have been very keyed into making Emil’s day very special, too.

So, of course, i was on the verge of being a tiny bit stressed, because I wanted this long awaited event to live up to his expectations. And, as usual, when I overestimate what can be done, things get a little bit ridiculous. The upside is  that there is nowhere better than the brink of failure to reevaluate what is actually important.

”Brink of failure” being, in this case, decorating african animal cut out cookies with frosting the color of caviar. I’d bought the cookie cutters in the States and was really excited to make pretty animal cookies for our little nature lover. Totally aware of how long sugar cookies take, I started the process early in the week. I kind of forgot to figure out how to make the appropriate color for lion and giraffe fur. Unfortunately for them, the last time I checked, ”tawny” and ”roe” where not the same color.

It’s crazy how easy it is to get sucked into the world of showing love through stuff. It was seriously like the devil/angel on the shoulder scenario when I was at the shopping center this past week. ”Is he getting a toy? Maybe we should get him another toy. So he’ll be happy,” — and I almost literally felt my brain being pulled into the black hole of stuff, which is an extremely stressful location. Evaluate what toy is going to make my 3 year old happy? Please. Why not decode the thought processes of insert-dicatator’s-name-here? It’d be easier. Which is where we cue the voice of love and light on the other shoulder, reassuringly whispering, ”if we just spend time with him and let him know how much we love him, he’ll be okay.” Full. Confident. Maybe even peaceful.

THAT we can do.  We went for a ”vawwk” (Emil-speak for ”walk”) in the the woods the morning before his party. He skipped over tree roots and pointed out and counted all the mushrooms the forest had to offer that day. We heard a woodpecker, and it was the 3 year old set of eyes that located the bird first.

”I hope,” I’d said to a wary Bjørn at 11 p.m. two nights before, surrounded by ridiculous animal cookies, ”that when the kids grow up and look back on these little birthday parties they’ll know that I really tried. And that they realize my love language is food.”

Which means that I’m asking the future Emil Birk to look back on these sugar cookie lions with the Alec Baldwin manes and fish-egg colored fur and know that it means that we love him. Stubborn, sweet, strong, LOUD, artistic, curious, unafraid, and so, so funny — you might have been sent to your room even on your birthday, but if you look at those lumpy elephant cookies and the frosting snails, you’ll know how much we love you.

cookies red

Funny how the image of something you see in your head never meets reality.

Funny how the image of something you see in your head never meets reality.

birthday breakfast red

King for the day with a breakfast burrito. What else?

birthday cakes red

Happy Birthday, little man

blowing candles red
Three candles? Piece of cake…(or raspberry tart, as the case may be, for our berry loving boy)

hele gjengen red.

BM EB tent red.

Pappa and the birthday boy in his new tent.

Read Full Post »