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As one who doesn’t work outside my home (or really inside my home either, judging by its current state), the energy, ingenuity, and creative thinking that would normally be concentrated on a very important, world-saving, economically reimbursed real-world problem is instead diverted to situations slightly less far reaching.

Like carneval costumes.

I used a fair amount of mental energy on these, people. Enough mental energy that I started to feel a tiny little bit silly. Silly enough that I started to come up with justifications (ahem, see above).

To what end, you ask? What was the success rate of the energies, mental and otherwise?

One ‘oh-wange ninja tuw-tul’ (that’d be Michaelangelo, for all you non- 80s babies), who was excited and happy and proud about his mask and shell and green face paint for the first two minutes of barnehage until he realized I was leaving him with all these other people in costumes. Turns out when you’re 3, costumes on other people can kind of freak you out.

And one tiger, crying. Please note that I did not make the tiger costume. I made a shark costume. What is slightly more crazy is that I made a shark costume with the full realization it probably would not be worn. I made it for the challenge. And for future costume wearers in the family. So there.

Anyway, Karel chose the tiger, after days/WEEKS of indecisiveness that manifests itself in full body gesticulating (that, come to think of it, looks a lot like a shark out of water) and ”instruction” drawing. Days and weeks of coming up with his own ideas that were brilliant…but out of my scope. A turtle shell one could crawl inside, for example, complete with a blanket and small t.v. to make it cozy. A crocodile that has is constrolled by levers and buttons you push from the inside. There is no room for artistic interpretation. When in costume, he takes on the role of the chosen animal and the costume MUST REFLECT THAT REALNESS.

Oh my goodness.

The lack of orange face paint almost triggered another melt down, but blending white and red and yellow was thankfully acceptable.

Oh my goodness.

Everyone in the car, all costume pieces accounted for, no more tears…and a very tentative sigh of relief from the two of us in the front seats.

On another note, and for the record, the tiredness level after weeks of varying health in the grown-ups of the family has reached a new level. Emil peed in our bed during the night, and despite feeling the warm wetness on my pajama leg (he’s started sleeping in the center of the bed, with his head at my knee level), I slept on.  I felt it, woke up, and consciously decided to sleep. in the puddle. of pee.

There must be some kind of recognition for graduating (sinking?) to this level in the game of parenting.

Anyway, here’s the Ninja Turtle. The Discontented Tiger was not available for photographs.

eb karneval

(brilliant design for turtle shell found at The Almost Perfectionist )

Also: MANDY IS COMING TOMORROW!!!! NORWAY, ARE YOU READY??!!??!!??

 

 

 

 

 

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christmas 2013 104‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house; All the Lyngstads were dressed, no pajamas to be found…

(more…)

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I’m projecting right now. Projecting to 15 years or so down the road. I’m assuming all of my boys will be potty-trained by them, but motherhood by necessity fosters delusions, so we’ll see.

Anyway, in my projection, Christmas-time 15 years from now, my boys are healthy and content, secure and gracious. They are funny, helpers, teachers, ruckus-makers, and forgivers. Our mealtimes are noisy, but everyone remembers to sit on their bottoms and keep their feet off the table. In my projection, I haven’t screwed them up too much, and there is still a glimmer of the complete trust that fills their eyes now.

Why do we project, class? As a verb, not a noun?

To remind ourselves of the goal when the way there starts to become overgrown.

To clear our brains and refocus.

Last but not least, we project when the here-and-now looks pretty much nothing like the goal.

Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the here and now. I don’t get the ”it goes so fast” comment so often, but I did this week on the plane. It doesn’t irritate me, that comment. I know this stage is going to go by fast. It IS going by fast. I like the chaos. I’m probably going to be sad when my ‘normal’ no longer includes a dinosaur head on our bedroom floor and the toilet paper roll on the 3rd step. Who doesn’t want a tiger in boots the size of a 5-year-old waving goodbye at the airport? The visual lunacy of a house  with small kids is what gets me through the day. I should probably start taking photos and then compile them for a coffee table book to browse through when our coffee table is no longer a race track or a lego building site or a boat or a hiding space. Maybe life is going to be too easy when no one takes 10 seconds too long to finish their snack and now the baby is awake and the phone rings and shouts of ”Mammmmaaaaa can you wipe me??” coincide with tired hungry 3 year old screams. What’s the fun in cooking when I won’t have to clean up the milk in the fridge that I spilled (saved in a cup from this morning’s breakfast when it was demanded but not drunk) and then half the beaten eggs off the floor, tipped out of the bowl by an eager helper? How much weight will I gain when I actually sit and eat the sandwich I started to make instead of being sidetracked by the dirty dishes? But if I have the time to eat the sandwich, maybe there won’t be so many crazy searches for chocolate throughout the course of the day. Huh.

How will we cope with all the sleep we’re going to get when there are not two small rocket ships richoceting around the bedroom, saying things like ”Noooo this rocket ship can’t land!!” How much more t.v. am I going to have to watch when the live entertainment moves out?

What will drive me to prayer like the attention seeking statements, or the complete lack of statements, or the midnight crying and congested nose? Please, God, help me know how to help them. When do I wait-and-see? When do I act now?

One day at a time, not counting on the promise of tomorrow…but really really hoping for it.

Ummm, speaking of tomorrows… if anyone is tempted by the wildly entertaining, inventive redecorators that live here, we’re game for a barter. For the small cost of a couple of hours of sleep, you too could have a dinosaur head on your bedroom floor. Just think about it.

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It’s late late late local time, and I can’t sleep.

I’ve made a meal plan for the boys while I’m gone next week, added items to various lists, eaten ice cream and pepperkake, and browsed Facebook and old blog posts for the past 1.5 hours. All four men in the house are asleep, but it’s only a question of time before one or more of them start the nightly migration from their rooms to ours, making it even more of a shame that I’m not sleeping while they are.

It’s okay. It’s Thanksgiving. I’ll pretend that I’m high on pie and coffee. And try to record the tones of gratefulness of 2013 before sleep descends.

A List Of Thankfulness, Numbered:

7 is for the seven plus months we’ve had with Cai Ruben. Both chaos and joy increased exponentially as we increased to a family of five. We are humbly, humbly thankful for another safe arrival of a healthy baby. I am convinced that this one is never going to grow up, but will be my baby forever. Why he’s working on crawling is totally throwing me for a loop.

p.s. Did I ever write up a birth story for him? Have I done that for ANY of them? Remind me to do that one day.

6 is for the number of years we’ve been married. Thankful, as always, for a caring husband and fantastic co-parent. These little-kid years are not easy on a relationship, but with luckily for us, our shared trait of stubborness is working in our favor. As is a mutual love of beer and select crime series. Six years down, many more to go.

5 is for the number of years we’ve had with Karel Magne. He’s reading now. Did I mention that? Just single words, not sentences, not books, but words. The first step in entering that world of independent magic. I don’t know if I’m ready for it. What happens when your heart grows up and doesn’t need you anymore? Five is for our oldest brother, the ”storste bukkene Bruse” (biggest billy goat Gruff). He charms us, impresses us, exasperates us, he doesn’t eat meat…par for the course with a billy goat, I guess.

4 is the number of Thanksgivings we’ve had in Steinkjer. Almost four years in the same place means I meet people I know almost every time we’re out. It means that when newer arrivals are working through the emotional contortions of a new/old/different place, I can’t commiserate so much anymore. No one wants to hear ”just give it time”… so I don’t say so much of anything. Four is also the number of screens I access daily to stave off tiredness and feign connectedness with the outside world. Thankful for technology, and as always, Skype.

3 is the number of years we’ve had with Emil Birk. Or rather, Emilian Birk Lyngstad, as he calls himself now. Three months as a three year old…I just don’t even have the words. Two is a piece of cake compared to three. For my own sake, let me repeat it: I am thankful for Emilian Birk Lyngstad. I am thankful for the funny things he says and his soft cheek  snuggles. I love the medley of cartoon theme songs he sings every morning. I would love it more if it weren’t at 6:30 a.m. and accompanied by flailing legs, but you can’t have it all. I love that in the midst of throwing a fit about something, if you explain the situation to him, he will eventually heave a big sigh and say ”okay, maybe.” Right now I love that he will not be three forever…but when he’s five I’ll probably wish that he was. Sigh. So irritating.

2 is…what time it is right now? the number of liters of coffee I’m going to need tomorrow? Two is the number of days until I’m boarding a plane with the baby to Spain to meet Catie. So two represents our thankfulness for the friends we have throughout the world, the friends who travel the world, the friends who love us and keep us in their hearts even when we’re elsewhere in the world. The shrinking of the planet has it’s drawbacks. Small enough to cross paths, but still too wide to hold hands.

1. There is one roof sheltering our five heads. One roof that we sleep, eat, play, talk, shout, and irritate each other under. We know many families for whom this is not so. Or for whom it is now but wasn’t before. However great the joy of being reunited might be, I am thankful for not bearing the weight of being separated.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

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Recently I’ve been lamenting/bewildered by the boys’ complete CRAZINESS and total lack of manners when we’re out. Honestly, the way they’ve been behaving when we’re guests makes it look like they’ve been trained to sit on (not at) the table, eating with one hand and reaching for the farthest possible item with the other, with food bits dropping from their gaping, talking mouths.

Really.

After a couple of (failed) rounds of hissed instructions I just give up and accept the judgement.

This morning, however, I felt a glimmer of hope as I was standing with Karel in the bathroom, he on the step-stool facing the mirror and I behind him.

K: ”Mama, can you please move to the side?”

me: ”Okay…” (well, THAT was nice asking! yay!)

PPPPPPFFFFFFFFFffffffffttttttttttt. (That, friends, is the phonetic spelling of a grown up sized fart.)

K: ”I had to gas.”

me: ”Did you ask me to move out of the way so you wouldn’t gas on me?”

K: ”Yeah.”

me: pause. ”Thank you.”

 

Happy Friday, yo.

 

 

 

 

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Who’s  six months old already?

oktober 2013 cai 6 months

This guy.

Our peanut isn’t winning any prizes for size, but let me tell you: this kiddo is going to give us a run for our money once he’s mobile. Good thing we’re practiced at toddler interception. Bad thing we’re often too slow and tired to make those interceptions successfully.

But really — 6 months already? Wasn’t I just pregnant with him? Weren’t the boys and I using my belly as a book-reading rest while snuggled up in their bed? Tonight I had to save the book from  being eaten by the wriggling mass of excited-and-probably-teething babyness.

And who are my superheros?

oktober 2013 super hero planoktober 2013 super karelThese guys.

With baby blankets as capes, and the magic power of the birthday crown — bad guys beware. Although I’m pretty sure these supermen were more interested in flying than warding off not-niceness. I stood outside the door to their bedroom listening for a while, something I do more and more as they need/want less adult intrusion in their play.

”Here comes Super Kanin!!” (rabbit) Cue launching of stuffed rabbit from the top bunk.

”Here comes Super Monkey!!!” I watch Monkey fly by.

Duck’s turn: ”Here comes Super And!!!

”HERE COMES SUPER-KAREL!!!!!”

A flurry of blond hair and light blue cape arcs from the highest point of the bed to the carefully placed extra mattress on the floor, followed closely by a second ball of cape and crown from a not-quite-as-high point on the bed. Emil Birk — currently our mixture of sweet-and-terror — remembered the rule of where he’s allowed to jump from, and my heart melted a bit more. Even through the tantrums, he’s showing a strong grasp of basic logic.

With new babies arriving in my newsfeed and in real-life, we’ve been thinking back to what it was like with the first one. Being a new mom was the hardest thing I’d ever done and the happiest I’d ever been. Now that our first one is growing up, the weight of the responsibility doesn’t change, but the focus does. Is he secure? Are we modelling our values?

After our second, I don’t remember thinking so much about how hard this work is, but I suspect that has more to do with being used to it than anything.

With three… the saving grace was that awfully tiring pregnancy. Life with two preschoolers and a baby is a million times easier than two preschoolers and being pregnant. Our third has brought a different level of happiness and contentedness to our/my life. Friends that know me well enough to see the difference have confirmed it. With three, no one expects me to do anymore than take care of my family, which is all I’ve wanted to do the last couple of years anyway. Now, when anybody asks me if I’ve started working yet it’s quickly followed by, ”but you’ve got three small kids.” If I start in on expectations I have or things I think I should be doing, they tell me, ”but you’ve got three small kids.”

Turns out three is a magic number. But who neeeds magic when I have resident superheroes? (insert beaming-smiley-yet-extremely-tired face)

Love, Kim and boys

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Happy Friday, friends. 🙂 I started out thinking I’d write out a quick week in review, because it’s gone so fast and I can’t quite remember what happened on what day, only a string of moments triggering intense emotions or thoughts or images.

Then I read the comment section of this, and became confused. And watched this, and was sad. And then this and got a little bit scared because I’ve probably done something wrong. And scanned headlines about Westgate in Kenya, earthquakes and bombings in Pakistan, the ongoing Syrian crisis… and wondered about the balance of being informed but not anxious.

Which means it’s time to do what I have learned to do best: retract and refocus, filling in the remaining space with prayers. So back we shall go to fulfilling my task as family record-keeper, with the bright points of the week.

  • It’s autumn now. We’re digging out fleece and wool — which was actually put away this summer. The shifting of gear throws the growth rate of the boys into an all too bright light. What fits, what doesn’t, what can make do until an upgrade; remembering that as incredible as it seems now, the boots that are too small for Emil Birk should be saved for Cai Ruben. I usually love autumn, especially here. In the past, when it finally got to be September and October I felt we could stop  the daily cycle of hoping for/being dissapointed by summer weather that never really came. So autumn was a relief, in a way. But this year we had sun and warmth. I had a sandal tan for the first time in years. I dipped into the fjord, not once but TWICE this summer, for the first time since living here. That’s an indicator of heat right there, folks. The convenience of wearing only one layer and not worrying about finding socks — I’m not quite ready to go into the darkness and long undewear yet. On the flip side, I’ve been waiting all summer to dive into autumn cooking and baking. Squash, apples, berries — never quite enough time to pick or find as many as I’d like.
  • This week the house has been filled with animals. I’m never quite sure what or whom I’m going to find when I leave the room and come back. Last night we had a dinosaur and a wolf; a couple of days earlier Karel spent the day as the family’s cat; an elephant with a pretty realistic trumpet-call shows up most days, as does an assortment of baby animals at bedtime. In real animal news, I flushed our first fish casualty last week. Emil picked out a new one yesterday, and while she will never read this, I would like to thank the kind pet-store-lady for scooping out the exact fish that Emil pointed out. There’s not too much cuter in my little world than EB’s dimpled trying-not-to-smile face.
  • The boys have also been in varying states of health this week. Karel was home through Wednesday with a low fever and headache. Cai was fussy and warm the first part of the week as well. The combination of a rash, a low fever, and a bulging fontanelle was enough to book an appointment with our family doctor, who in turn referred us to the hospital so a pediatrician could have a look. Several hours later, after a thorough exam and an ultrasound of his little head checked out, we were on our way back home. I’m happy to say that our smiley snuggly baby is back to normal. There’s not too much cuter in my little world than Cai-baby giggles.
  • With at least two kids home everyday (but today) this week, there are always the ”i-didn’t-really-see-that-coming” moments which I now proudly meet without batting an eye. I’d already cleaned up a broken glass (I can’t remember which running Emil-animal it was that caused it) when I went downstairs to change Cai’s diaper. Emil Birk standing in the middle of a small sea of fish food is what I found when I came back up. A thorough explanation of how he-held-it-upside-down-but-the-cap-wasn’t-on-and-now-he’s-trying-to-clean-it-up convinced me it wasn’t one of his ”let’s see how gravity works” dumping out antics, so we calmly scooped up fish food together. Which raised the question of which is messier? A 3 year old spilling the fish food  or a 3 year old cleaning up the fish food? Jury is still out.
  • This week I went to my very first parent meeting at barnehage. Bjørn has always gone in the past, since, you know, he could understand things. Oh, and someone needed to be home with the kids. This time there were some issues raised that I was interested in, so I figured it was probably about time to pull my head out of the sand, face my conflict fears, and wander into the world of opinioned parenting. Ann Inger came to stay with the big boys while we went to the meeting with Cai Ruben. Being in the thick of the parenting business was hit home, once again, as we realized that walking to barnehage in the evening, with only the baby, in order to go to a parent meeting felt suspiciously like a date. I also realized that continuing to be involved in parent meetings is going to be a very good opportunity for me to practice keeping my heart rate in check when people/friends give strongly worded differences of opinion. Because, wait a minute — you mean we can disagree on a very concrete issue but still be friends? And I’m the only one that’s stressed by this slight lack of concord?? Get out of town, and behold the light.
  • In addition to going to parent meetings, we continued on our reluctant journey to adulthood by purchasing a dining room table. Buying things that are actually what we want instead of making do with what we have (usually obtained for free) still feels kind of weird, but we’re dealing with it. There’s not too much sweeter in my little world than Karel making his little excitement-in-every-day observations: ”this is the first dinner we’re eating on our new table!’
  • We had lovely visits this week –the previous weekend found us both in Verdal and Frosta, visiting great-grandparents and the Bolstad-Laugen clan withour 6 combined kids, repsectively; Ann Inger had dinner with us Wednesday and took the crazy task of putting the boys to bed; our friend Morten stopped by with muffins made by his lovely wife Heidi after Monday’s facebook plea for comfort food/drink; Silje and her beautiful ever growing belly spent the afternoon with us on Thursday; and today we’ll just have to see. The community of friends we’re building is becoming strong enough to withstand last-minute dinner invitations (as often we feel we have the energy to give them), an aspect of our Minneapolis life we’ve missed.

There we have it — the week in a much too detailed review for the likes of a commercial blog, but perfect for the purposes of ours. Today is gray and drizzly, the type of day I usually use as an excuse to bake and baby-snuggle, write here and clean far to little. Greetings and love to our friends and family, and blessings on the weekend.

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