Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's like The Scream, somehow, but Peaceful and in Color

So yes, there are 490 pictures from May alone stuck in undownload-able limbo, it is confirmed, and we will wiggle around it somehow. But in the mean time, here is another just cool shot SwedeDaddy took when the SwedeBabe was newly born...The babe in our friend Jessi's maya wrap sling.
Gratuitous Baby Shots!
I have some good ones from yesterday evening's trip to the beach I promise to upload, but for now, I'll post these and hope to satisfy my poor mom who does not get to see the baby since we moved so far, far away! I promise to get more up soon! This pretty much sums up her life at 12 weeks though- sleep, nurse, lay around and bat at things, be held, and sleep some more.... I do wish I could get a decent video of her baby babble/ cooing. It's too cute. At least to me, her mom. And probably would be to her grandma, too.

I think her hairy ears are troll like and darling..

Weekend Project Two: Garden!

I used to think of myself as having a green thumb, due to one very successful plant I had in the second grade. One day a branch of our classroom plant fell off when it was being watered and Mrs. Risley selected me to be the lucky kid who got to take the branch home. With great importance, I rooted it in water, and transplanted it to soil, and it became the biggest lushest plant on our patio for the longest time. It was the only one of its type that ever flowered in our home. I am sure it was the love of a child that made that plant so happy. And I felt like a successful gardener! I want my daughter to know the magic of watching things grow. I want her to know food comes from the earth, and that even the tiniest seeds planted can turn into the most wonderful things.
I have been working on envisioning what we want in our dream life, and hoping to do what we can to make that a reality. In my dream life I am definitely a gardener. In real life, my gardening experience involves a lush veggie garden my father grew at our home in Kansas before we moved away to Florida when I was 4, then the meek little harvest of a few peas from the garden we planted when we moved to sandy acidic soil of Florida, in 4th grade I grew some teensy mangled dry sprouts from the radish seeds given out in science class for the county fair competition, and then my attempt at an herb garden with one thriving tarragon plant sticking up in my suburban lawn during high school. When in midwifery school, I did work for a while on an organic farm, and mostly seeded and thinned greens in the greenhouse. It gave me confidence I can indeed make things grow, but also made me aware of how much I do not know about soil and things like fish emulsion, and nitrogen balance. I have been looking into all this, and instead of getting too overwhelmed with how much I do not know about gardening, I decided to just start this season. Rather than await perfection, and do soil testing and make crop rotation plans and companion plant and create a virtula permaculture mini eco-system....well, you see my point....we decided to just get some plants in the ground. We will learn as we go along- we had to just make a move or the planting season was going to pass us by.
So we started with a raised bed, some sprouted plants, and a plan for a strawberry patch.
We have high hopes for our dream garden. And our dream life. We do need to get some deer fencing up pretty quick here, or these guys are going to munching on some very special salad greens at our expense.

So grow, little plants grow!!!

More Neighborhood Forest Walks My camera is still not uploading- thus the startling lack of new baby pictures in a home with a new baby- but I will play bloggie catch up and put up pictures from Swede Daddy's phone camera....we were playing with panorama to capture the canopy and height of the trees.
Weekend Project One: The New Swing Set
The weather is just great now, and so we are all looking for ways to spend more time outside.

So, this addition to the yard is big news in SwedeGirl's world. She had taken to telling everyone there was were "No KID's TOYs" in her yard, and so when we saw this swingset at a close out hardware store, it became the weekend project. The yard is fenced, so we are living the dream of sending the kid into the yard by herself to go play and not worrying where she will wander off.
She is often lucky enough to be joined by her cousin who lives three houses up, or her new little girl play buddy who lives right across the street and is her new favorite biking companion.

Hooray for Swedish Springtime!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Morning.
All I want is a proper Cup of Coffee.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hi There, Bloggie Visitors!!

Who from Ouagadougou, Kadiogo has a link to me?
Just curious, I see you stop by all the time!

Still working out camera trouble. More pictures to come, when upload is working smoothly again!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cherry Blossom Family Picnic
We had visitors from Florida! The Carlsson's from our hometown of Sarasota, Florida paid us a visit. Like me, Kollene grew up in Sarasota, but married a man from Skåne. They stopped by during their annual trip to visit his parents, and we took a hike to the cherry valley for a picnic.
You want to know what brave is? Taking two fairly new families of four- that is two families with 3 or 4 year olds and new babies- and hiking up a steep muddy hill just after a hail storm, when it is already past dinnertime (so older kids are on the brink of meltdown), in order to have a picnic amongst the cherry blossoms, when the sun will soon go down and the chilly winds will begin to blow. And it will be past bedtime....
The view, and the company, will still make it worth the while. Especially if there is lignon berry cake, hot cocoa, and the what is likely the last fire of the season waiting for you when you return home.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Bonked Noggin and Test Driving the Swedish Hospital System I had my first mom medical panic moment, and an opportunity to test out the Swedish hospital care. As I am blogging retroactively, I'll tell you this happened Monday April 27th.

We have a ladder/staircase in the front hall, and after rehashing just the weekend before the potential safety concerns, and questioning the likelihood of the stairs posing a problem, the Swedegirl took a tumble from them- about 6 feet down to a tile floor. She was feeling quite sleepy from a weekend of late nights, and we'd ominously just finished a good round of "London bridge is falling down...falling down....falling down..." when I heard her make the first two steps and then a big crash.

I found her laying on the ground, not making noise, with her pupils large like saucers, which spoke to my inner biological programing to read, as bad, real bad....Of course she had JUST been to the eye doctor and had her pupils dilated that morning, so my ability to get a neurological reading from her pupils was all messed up, but let me say, finding a unresponsive kid with eyes wide open and dilated with a bit of drool coming out and making no noise is NOT REASSURING at all.

I thought it was bad right off, and my maternal instinct was to call for help even before going to comfort her. I fumbled with the phone, and got SwedeDaddy on the phone who sent his sister, who is a nurse and our neighbor, over. In the mean time, I called the emergency number, but they were no help at all. They took too long asking dumb questions when I needed to go be with the SwedeGirl, and clearly were not planning on sending an ambulance right now. I became pretty sure I could get help faster on my own than via any help they planned to offer, so I just hung up.
Long story short, she came to quickly and cried. I assessed there were no broken bones, and she moved her head/ neck on her own. She cried long and hard, and then went on to say how sleeeeeepy she was. It is not great to hear a kid with a head injury beg to go to bed. Then she puked, twice. This made me feel really freaked out, like we may be having a Natasha Richardson moment.
SwedeAunt drove us to the hospital. I fumbled getting car seats in, and made enough time to grab a 'snuggle thing' per the SwedeGirl's request, which was a good move as Tigger and a Care Bear brought her much comfort during her stay. All along the drive, the SwedeGirl was asking- "Where are we going?" The hospital, I'd answer. 'Why?" You bonked your head, I'd say. Then we would repeat this conversation every two minutes for the half hour drive. She did not remember the details of the morning- going to the eye doctor or school, or that she had fallen, or thrown up.
SwedeDaddy came from work and made it to the hospital before us, and briefed the nurse. He got a chuckle out of the fact that there is a "take a number" thing in the waiting room, but no obvious reception person. So Swedish- they love to have you take a number here! So he said he knocked on a nurse's office window, and just started talking instead. When I arrived with the Swedegirl, they had the emergency room all ready- we by passed the waiting room and went right to the room that looks like an OR. A quick check of vital signs showed she was stable, and not bleeding. She was still soooooo sleepy and having amnesia. The doctor told her it was OK to go to sleep now. I asked why people with concussions are supposed to be kept awake, and the doctor replied it is because they do not want you going into a deep coma at home. Oh. Now we were at the hospital that was apparently OK... Great...... Anyway, I asked the doctor- if she goes to sleep, all I want to know is that she will wake up. She will, the doctor reassured me. She said children with head injuries often just need to go to sleep and reset themselves a bit, and get distance from the injury. Sure enough, after a short sleep, the Swedegirl woke up. Not long after, she began talking and making clever observations. Slowly, we got reassurance her brain still worked just fine. But after two hours -at least- of not being so sure she'd be okay. I've never had a mom panic moment before that. Blood- after being a midwife it doesn't phase me- and I know you can lose quite a lot before it's an issue! Pain- I know how to handle people voicing pain! But brains- I don't like messing with the brain. Bleeding and broken bones, those you can fix. But brains, once broken, can't be fixed. So head injuries actually scare me. In the end, we ordered pizza in the ER room and Swedegirl got invited to stay the night for observation. By the time we got checked into her room, she was super-excited about the blue PJs they brought her, the free toothpaste and tooth brush, and the remote control bed. I was so happy to see her up and at 'em I did nothing to stop her from making the bed go up, down, up, down, chair position, flat....and over and over again, despite the fact that it may have been bothering the roommate on the other side of the curtain. I was feeling good it was not the beginning of the end....that she did in fact wake up, as promised. So she could play with the remote control bed all she wanted, as far as I was concerned.

Overall, the Swedish hospital made a few good impressions. One, somehow I felt less grossed out by the whole place than I am in American hospitals. It just seemed cleaner. The modern Scandinavian decor made it seem more like an art museum than a hospital. Second, I loved that there is a dedicated children's ER- no waiting with all the drunk accident victims, like in the American ER. Mostly just kids with fevers, in a kid friendly environment. And because we were in the kids' ward, every person was good at dealing with kids, and was kind and reassuring to us and our daughter. And lastly, in this land of socialized medicine, there was no one making decisions based on what our insurance would cover, or judging us or anyone else there for having or not having medical coverage. This was huge, I realized, as in the USA the staff will look down upon people with no insurance, medicaid, or the wrong health policy. It sets them up to think it's okay to treat patients differently- some people they treat well, and others they have a carte blanche to treat poorly. They even treat them to less medical care if it is not covered, and do so with a punitive, you deserve less attitude. So it was nice to notice that with out that variable of 'coverage', the medical staff had no experience treating anyone badly, and expected to offer everyone the treatment they needed and to do it with a good attitude. It was a relief to make the trip with out worry about what it would cost, if we were going to the right hospital for our health plan, or if we were going to have to pay a big deductible on our insurance policy. Or pay it all out of pocket if we were uninsured. We got settled in the big room, and I tucked the Swedegirl into bed, and headed home with the new baby. Her dad had a nice big comfy bed built right into the room so he could keep her company overnight. They even brought him a free toothbrush (no PJs, though)! They both had breakfast from a buffet in the morning, and then when I picked them up, she was playing in a really nicely decorated play room with a wooden kitchen and big tractors that rivaled the best preschools for decor and selection of toys. We were sent home with no special instructions, but decided to keep her from jumping, flipping, bike riding, and otherwise jostling her noggin for a good week. And all seems well.
Sometimes you are reminded it is just nice to have you and your loved ones alive and well in one properly functioning piece.
Walpurg Night
This amazing bonfire was held right in the middle of Lund's City Park on the last of April. The last day of April is known as Sista April/ Valborgsmässoafton, and the following day May Day/ Valborgs dag is an official holiday in Sweden. It is a celebration of the end of the darkness. The fire is meant to drive away all aspects of the darkness, including any bad spirits, witches, and ghosts that may be hanging around. The holiday has its roots in old Scandinavian traditions, but to integrate the observance by the locals into the Catholic calendar, it was renamed Valborg/ Walpurg as a tribute to a woman named Valborg who born in 710 was later sainted on May 1st.
My prior knowledge of May 1st celebrations is based on what I know about Beltane (which means Bright Fire), the cross quarter day between Spring Equinox and summer solstice. It was the beginning of pastural season, and here in Sweden there are still rituals for the releasing of the cattle into the pastures at this time of year. I know Beltane as a time for bonfires, and as an eve to celebrate fertility. It is said that on Beltane it was good to take to the fields and have a literal romp in the hay, right there on mother earth to really drum up her creative potential. Coupling rules were suspended on Beltane, so you were invited to break convention and get physical with whoever you pleased. I'd bet any vestige of that tradition went out with the Catholic renaming of the day. At any rate, we keep getting really excited about all the holidays in Sweden and welcomed another a three day weekend! I picked up the SwedeDaddy at 4:00 Thursday April 30th at work, and the parking lot was nearly empty, just about everyone had departed early. So we learned the main way people celebrate Sista April- by cutting out early and getting the most you can from a three day weekend.

Otherwise, as we drove through the countryside, we saw many farms with large bonfires. Traditionally, the old branches and debris left from winter are burned on Sista April, and everyone revels in the light of a big old bonfire. We choose to head into Lund for the bonfire and check that out, after reading that Uppsala and Lund have the best Walpurg celebrations, as they are the big student meccas. Well, student holiday= drinking, duh. City park in Lund was PACKED, and smelled like one big beer breath. We did our best to clear space by changing a baby diaper midairs in the middle of the crowd- nothing like a nearly newborn baby with a nakey butt to send the drunken college boys back a step. We ended up with a great spot to see the enormous fire, which was most impressive! We passed up the local smaller fire in the village to attend the one in Lund. In the future, I think we will choose something more local. My friend in Torna Hallestad said there was a lovely procession of children from the town square to a fire, and the kids all got a chance to throw branches on the pile to be burned. Sounds a little more our speed. And our friends in Ystad had a nice fire on the beach. In Malmo the celebrations are city scale, but there is a good children program I hear. But if you are 19, drunk, and looking for a raging fire, I can say Lund is the place to be! As for us, we got outta the park in Lund as fast as we could, and had a good time spotting many fires that were blazing on farmland as we drove home across the countryside. I think the ideal place to be Walpurg night would be alongside a family and friends at one of the farmland fires.

Another Visit from Uncle Geologist
Uncle John from Bristol came for another visit, and brought his lovely girlfriend Sarah. We had a fun visit, and a hike through the woods just as the first green was appearing, and the vitsippa flowers on the forest floor were still going strong.
We had a picnic on a hill top of preserved pasture land, with a nice view over the hilltops.
There is nothing like the fresh, first bright green leaves on the birch trees.