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Photo 366 challenge – week 12

We’ve just arrived back from a very last-minute trip down to southern Sweden, which has been totally draining. So I am afraid that this week’s photos are accompanied by very brief captions only.

Day 79:

Little O demonstrates the new way to wear a bib

Day 80:

Reading nook

Day 81:

Wedding day memories found in a magazine

Day 82:

Look, no boots!

Day 83:

Just before attempting "the transfer"

Day 84: No photo this day, I’m afraid.

Day 85:

Now boarding at gate 2

So that has been this week… Head on over to The Boy & Me to check out what others have been up to this week

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Brain drain

I think the packing up of most of our possessions ahead of the photos being taken for the brochure to sell our apartment is getting to me… I just searched on Google for “home stagging”. Luckily, Google understood what I meant and directed me to sites on home staging, but I think it is a sign that I should take myself off to bed.

Today, I am just so happy that for the past three nights, Baby E has gone seven hours between night feeds – woo hoooooooo! Otherwise I think I would be curled up in a little ball in the corner, rocking backwards and forwards.

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Photo 366 challenge – week 11

Well, this has certainly been a big week for us. After waiting impatiently all last Sunday, biting my metaphorical nails to the quick, 10.30am on Monday rolled around and Husband and I headed off to the real estate agents to sign the papers – and the deal was done and we bought a new apartment! It’s actually only a couple of blocks from where we lived before, an area of the city that we really love, and so we’re very excited about the move. The place needs some work on it, so we’ll get the electrics, painting and plastering done after we get the keys in July, which means we should be able to move in mid-August. Now, we just have the small task of selling our current apartment…

Day 72:

Exciting times

Day 73:

I’m outta here!

On Tuesday, we checked our what will be our local little park when we move. Little O was less interested in the playground after we discovered that it is a dog walking park. He could not believe his luck, especially when he was taught how to throw a ball for the dogs to fetch. I think we’re going to be spending many happy hours there!

Day 74:

The view from above

Can you spot the difference between this photo and those last week? Yep, no more snowsuit! The weather has improved dramatically and so now we’re only in a vest, long-sleeved top, hoodie and padded jacket… Yes, that is an improvement!

Day 75:

Organised chaos?

I think I have a lot of work to do to get just my desk cleared so the real estate agent can take the photos of our apartment. It really is a daunting prospect.

Day 76:

Boys meets (poisonous) frog

Little O’s preschool was closed on Friday for a planning day, so we spent the morning at Fjärilshuset, the butterfly house in Haga Park. He was not so interested in the butterflies themselves but once he had managed to spot the brightly coloured little poisonous Amazonian frogs, he was fascinated. Luckily, there were a good few thick sheets of glass between them and us.

Day 77:

Day 1 and still a long way to go

Yesterday marked day one of Operation Get-The-Apartment-Tidy. It’s going to be a very big task!

Day 78:

Armed with a stor vanilj latte med laktos-fri mjölk

Today we visited Moderna Museet, the city’s modern art museum, for the first time. I would love to show you a picture of the wonderful view of the waterfront from the museum’s restaurant but unfortunately I had my hands full trying to feed Baby E, entertain Little O and keep him from pulling the shawl from my shoulder and reveal “Mimi” (his name for Baby E) to the world… Instead, here’s a photo from our trip out earlier in the day with our trusty (and beautiful) iCandy Peach Blossom stroller and my beloved “stor vanilj latte med laktos-fri mjölk” (large vanilla latte with lactose-free milk).

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Birthday meme

Kate over at The Five Fs blog has started a birthday meme with the idea of collecting information on everyones’ birthdays. She has posed a few questions about your birthday that you can find the answers to on Wikipedia, among other sites. She hopes to be able to get at least one post for each day of the year – wouldn’t that be great?

birthday meme

Photo by 3liz4 (via Flickr Creative Commons)

So, here is my contribution. I actually found out quite a lot about my birthday, including that something I had always told people about the day (that Chairman Mao died on the same day that I was born) was not actually true.

When is your birthday? 18 June

Pick three people who share your birthday and share what you know about them. Until I looked at Wikipedia, I had not realised the Grand Duchess Anastasia, one of the daughters of the last tsar of Russia, was born on 18 June. She is one of the few on the extensive list that I know something about – she tragically died in 1918, shot in a basement by the Bolshevik secret police. Another was Paul Eddington, the actor who played next door neighbor Jerry Leadbetter in The Good Life and politician Jim Hacker in Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. And a third was Paul McCartney, from the Beatles obviously. (In addition, Fabio Capello, Isabella Rossellini and Alison Moyet.)

Is anyone listed as being born on the same day as you (ie the same year)? If so, what do you know about them? Three people in fact, but I have not heard of any of them: Alana de la Garza (who stared in Law & Order), Blake Shelton (an American country singer) and Witte Wartena (a Dutch artist).

List three people who died on your birthday and tell us what you know about them. My first choice is maybe not totally accurate as 18 June is listed as the day that Roald Amundsen went missing – nobody knows for sure when he actually died. All I know about him is that he was the first to the North Pole and that he also went on an expedition to the South Pole (here I got a bit confused when reading Wikipedia – I had thought he beat Captain Scott there, but it does not say that – am I mistaken?). The airplane he was in disappeared on a rescue mission in 1928. Second, Ethel Barrymore died on 18 June 1959. She was part of the Barrymore acting family and would have been great aunt to Drew Barrymore. And third, Nancy Marchand who died in 2000. Something made me click on the link to her page on Wikipedia and I am glad that I did because it turns out that she played Livia Soprano, Tony’s mother, in The Sopranos. Have a look at her Wikipedia page as there is a lovely picture of her there when younger.

List three notable events that took place on your birthday. On 18 June 1965, the government announced that a drink-drive alcohol limit was to be introduced in the UK. In 1999, the anti-capitalist demonstrations in London turned violent – I remember this as I worked in the City at the time and we were all asked to come into work wearing very casual clothing so that we would not be targeted by protesters. And one of the most famous battles of the 19th century was fought on 18 June: the Battle of Waterloo when General Wellington defeated Napoleon.

Tell us about a holiday that falls on your birthday. 18 June is Autistic Pride Day as well as National Day in the Seychelles.

So, there you go: a little snapshot of 18 June. Let’s hope that Kate can collect at least one for every day of the year – join in and give her a helping hand!
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Photo 366 challenge – week 10

Into double figures with the weeks now – and spring seems to be on its way in Stockholm. We’ve had some lovely sunny days this week and the temperature has even reached 9 degrees. Bliss! However, this week has been about real life getting in the way and I’ve not been able to concentrate so much on taking photos. We’re waiting for some big news and I am counting down the hours until mid-morning on Monday…

Day 65:

The latest issue of Gurgle magazine

Gurgle magazine arrived! I got very excited and read half of it within the first hour after opening the plastic. I love this magazine and turn down the corners of so many pages – filled with lovely things and great ideas.

Day 66:

A wall just crying out for a picture

This wall has been, literally, a blank canvas for the past three and a half years. But no more! We’ve bought a picture for it at last. I marked its potential position with some masking tape to give us an idea of how much space we’re filling. Cannot wait for it to arrive now.

Day 67:

Polishusparken, Stockholm

On Wednesday, after collecting Little O from preschool, we headed to the main city police station with Baby E to pick up his brand spanking new passport. Since the beginning of March, if you live in Stockholm, you have been able to book a time to order a passport online on the police website. We booked a time for last Saturday and on Tuesday I received an sms informing me that it was ready for collection. Really great service!

Day 68:

Seems we just missed the wolves' feeding time...

Little O was a bit under the weather on Wednesday evening, so we decided to keep him home from preschool on Thursday. In the morning, we visited our favourite playground and in the afternoon we took the tram to Djurgården to visit Skansen, the open air museum. Skansen has a zoo of animals native to the Nordic countries, including wolves. Apparently, the wolves had been fed earlier in the day and this was a little of their leftovers…

Day 69:

Learning to hold the spade properly

A big day for Little O as he learned how to hold a spade properly. Now he is far more efficient at moving the sand from bucket to bucket!

Day 70:

Concentration

On Saturday, Little O got a crash course in using the iPhone from Husband. I am not sure how wise a move this really is…

Day 71:

The last snow of the year (hopefully!)

Little O, Baby E and I went for a long walk in the sunshine this afternoon and Little O managed to find the last patch of (filthy-looking) snow to play on. We also had fun picking up the melting ice from the ice skating rink in the city centre and watching it melt in our hands. And then Little O had his photo taken by a group of Chinese tourists, who declared him “cute” – yes, of course he is!

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So that was the week that was. As I said, a little bit boring this week as there were too many other things going on with real life… Now head over to The Boy and Me and check out what others have been up to this week!

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Baby E’s birth story

So, I thought that I should probably be more punctual in writing up Baby E’s birth story than I was with Little O’s (written about 15 months after the event). Although he is now six and a half week old, it feels as if Baby E has been part of our family for so long that my memories of his birth are probably just as they were of Little O’s 15 months on.

Our little gyermek (child in Hungarian) was due on 25 January but as Little O had arrived 9 days after his due date, I was convinced that it would be about the same with our second.

The Thursday before my due date three mamma friends came round for dinner at our place, our excuse for a girls night being that they had all volunteered to help out with looking after Little O when the time came for Husband and I to go to the hospital. Of course they needed to come round for dinner and see the spare room and hear about Little O’s routine. And so what if that part of the plan actually happened at 1am, shortly before they left… We spent the large part of the evening discussing birth stories and perhaps also indulging in a very little bit of gossip. And I clearly remember telling them that I knew that this baby would not come on time, that I was settling down for a long wait and that maybe I would even get to the same stage as with Little O and have to be discussing the option of the dreaded inducing of the little one.

Fast forward to the next evening and Husband and I decided that it really was time to practice some of the Lamaze breathing exercises, seeing as we’d had our refresher course a month before, just before Christmas. Just before going to bed we ran through the three different breathing exercises. We’d been warned that the third one could make you feel a bit light-headed, so when I started feeling a bit funny immediately afterwards, I imagined that was the reason.

But then I started feeling even odder and it started to feel familiar. Off to the bathroom I went, and that was it, my waters broke. And immediately the contractions started. They were probably about 30 seconds long and about 3 minutes apart. I immediately sent a text message to my three mamma friends and let them know that all systems were go. It was around 10.30pm at this point and one of them had just finished having a meal with colleagues in the city and so she was able to be with us within 10 minutes.

While I waited for her to arrive, I wrote up Little O’s breakfast details and anything else that I could think of that she needed to know. Because, of course, this baby was going to arrive late, so I had not done any of this yet… I called our chosen hospital, BB Stockholm, a privately-run ward at Danderyd Hospital, where Little O was born, and let them know that we were heading in. (A privately-run ward sounds so very posh, but it isn’t really – you pay a small fee and it is all just a bit nicer and less hospital-like.)

Husband called a taxi and I ran through the instructions with my friend and put the final bits and pieces into my hospital bag (yeah, yeah, of course, I hadn’t fully packed that either – don’t you know, this baby is going to be late…). By this time the contractions were still about 30 seconds long but were now coming every couple of minutes. A quick discussion with Husband and we changed plans and decided to head for our nearest maternity ward, at Karolinska Hospital, instead, as BB Stockholm was a 25-minute drive away and Karolinska was just 10 minutes down the road. Karolinska were more than happy for me to come in – especially when I said how close the contractions were and that Little O had been born in around five hours (from when my waters broke).

The taxi journey was were things started to get a bit surreal. As I was having a contraction at the time, I’m not sure how it happened but the next thing I knew Husband and the taxi driver were chatting away in Hungarian, while I sat in the back wondering whether I should be doing the first stage of Lamaze breathing or the second…

At the hospital, we were taken into an examination room and the midwife waited while the contractions abated so she could check me. By this time, which was around 11.40pm, they were less than a minute apart and unfortunately she wasn’t quick enough examining me between the end of the last the beginning of the next. Blooooooody hell, that hurt. On the upside though, I was at 9.5cm.

At this point I knew which breathing pattern I should be doing and switched to the third, as I was feeling the urge to push. I let the midwife know this and also that I would really, really like to use gas and air. She obliged and suggested I kneel up on the bed and hold on to the headboard as that was where the mask was.

The next part is a bit of a blur. I remember breathing very deeply in and out when the gas came through and starting to feel its effects. Some more people came into the room and I was feeling the gas fully then, so in my confused state, I became convinced that they were surgeons and that I need to have a C-section. They started to undress me and asked me to hold out my arms and at that point I may or may not have grabbed one of them on the boob – sorry to whichever one it was! It got more surreal from there and I started to think that I had full understanding of everything – you know, life, the universe and everything. I remember thinking “I need to ask Husband for a paper and pencil when this is over, as I need to write all this fantastic insight down”. Oh yes… powerful stuff that nitrous oxide. The only thing that was distracting me from these amazing thoughts was the woman screaming in the next room – I really wanted her to shut up. I took the mask off for a short while to ask for a glass of water and found that the screaming had stopped. As the gas began to clear from my system in that brief period, I had an even clearer realization: that the woman screaming was me…

Two sips of the water, another urge to push, mask back on, two pushes more and Baby E was born at 00.01 on Saturday 21 January.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: Baby E's birth story

Baby E – a few minutes old

So, it was a pretty intense experience all said and done – an hour and a half from waters breaking to Baby E’s arrival, beating Little O’s five hour delivery by some margin. I know they say that subsequent births are quicker than the first, but this really was cutting it fine, as he born just 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. I am so very glad that we made the decision to take the nearest hospital, rather than risk Baby E having been born at the side of the motorway on a cold January night!