From the Archives

From the very first day, it’s been obvious that Per Christian inherited his good looks from his father. I’m fairly certain that his good humor and obvious intelligence comes from his mother, but we probably won’t know that for sure for a few more years.

I was going through some old photos and found the ones below of both the Per’s. I’d appreciate anyone’s input if you see just the smallest resemblance of myself in this young boy, please!

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2

In other news, Per Christian had his first round of vaccinations this morning. He shed a few tears in the health center during and after the shots, but mommy, on the other hand, was a helpless puddle of tears. Good thing Pappa was there to rescue the family and return us home in one piece.

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Lakenskrekk

Sleep is the Holy Grail of parenthood – highly treasured and yet exceptionally elusive. I’ve heard it exists, but I’m not sure I believe it or know how to find it. I’m speaking specifically about Per Christian’s sleep, not my own (although the two are irrevocably linked). According to the books I have around the house (books that I read and Per ignores…), now that Per Christian has surpassed the 5 kg mark on the scale, he’s theoretically able to sleep through the night.

Able, but not entirely interested.

Like any good Svendsen worthy of his name, this kid hates to miss a party. At two months old, we’re just now starting to establish some kind of a routine and approximate bed time hour. But it’s a bit of a hit-or-miss equation. If we have guests over, then we might as well set up a tent in the middle of the action because there’s no way Per Christian is going to bed. It reminds of me of when I was running track in college and would fall asleep exhausted but fully dressed in the middle of a gathering in my dorm room – I might have been unconscious but at least I was there.

Here are a few examples of how precious Per Christian is when he DOES sleep:

Here are a few examples of how non-precious he is when he DOESN’T sleep:

(Okay, that photo on the far right is actually the famous child crying statue in Oslo’s  Frogner Park, but I think they had Per Christian in mind when it was made.)

I’ve recently learned this fabulous Norwegian word, “lakenskrekk.” Literally, it means “fear of the sheets.” I keep thinking about this word now that we’re experimenting with different methods to encourage longer, deeper hours of infant sleep. Over the past two months, we’ve come up with a few tricks of the trade to conquer our son’s fear of the sheets. None of them work perfectly at all times, but we keep them in our back pockets and pull them out in quick succession on an as-needed basis:

1. Swaddling – this is the King of sleep aids. I didn’t even know what it was until I read it on some parenting forum, but it’s now a well-established routine in our house. At first, our hearts broke at the sight of our poor, defenseless son struggling against being wrapped like a tight burrito. But the alternative is Per Christian punching himself in the face all night with arms he can’t yet control. We chose the lesser of two evils and quickly became converts. By the way – Per is a much better swaddler than I am (which apparently means that he’ll be the bad cop in the parenthood trap and I’ll be the more accommodating one who can’t deny our son a thing and is therefore loved more. Works for me.)

2. White noise – I have two White Noise apps on my iPhone that are supposed to mimic the soothing sounds of being inside the womb and lull my son to sleep. What a load of BS. What Per Christian really loves in reality is when we place our mouth up against his ear and heave loud, breathy “sssssshhhhhh” sounds into his skull until he passes out. He also routinely sleeps in his activity chair in the bathroom while I’m drying my hair in the mornings. So much for the sweet sounds of dolphins and beach waves…

3. The Stroller – My son will be the one in 30 years’ time with an ad on a dating website that says he enjoys long walks though town while lying flat on his back and being serenaded by the sounds of urban life and bumpy sidewalks. Now what’s the possibility that any lovely lady will ever fulfill that desire of his? Seriously though, Per Christian loves our daily constitutionals and I’ve learned to stretch them out as long as possible because he’ll definitely sleep the entire time. He gets a long nap and mommy gets back into her pre-pregnancy jeans. Score!

4. The Smokk – It has a million names around the world, from a pacifier in the US to a “dummy” in the UK. Highly controversial with lots of heated theories about whether or not it’s good for the child or will get them addicted to crack when they get older. Bottom line for us though is that Per Christian seems calmed by it and spits it out when he doesn’t need it anymore. That’s good enough for me.

This coming week, I’ll meet my “barselgruppe” of other new mothers in my neighborhood for the first time. I’m sure they’ll all tell me how they got their perfect children to sleep through the night by the time they were 3 weeks old and now they’re working on potty-training them before they can walk. At least that’s what I’d expect from an uber-competitive mommy’s group in the US. Kidding aside, I’m really hoping they’ll reassure me that we’re doing just fine and are right on track and – my goodness – are those pre-pregnancy jeans you’re wearing?!?!

Score.

365 days ago…

… was Amalfi.

365 days ago, I wore a white gown.

365 days ago, Per overcame his food poisoning and donned a tuxedo.

365 days ago, we made it to the church on time.

365 days ago, I said the following words:
“I, Marguerite, take you, Per, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow, to be your faithful partner for life, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. I promise to trust and respect you, and to love and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.”

365 days ago, we laughed….

… and we kissed.

365 days ago, our friends and family gathered around us in the garden.

365 days ago, I walked through the streets of Amalfi with my new husband.

365 days ago, the sun set over the water while dinner was served.

365 days ago we were serenaded by amusing toasts, skits and musical performances:

365 days ago, I married my best friend and fellow traveller on the road of parenthood.

365 days later, Per and I will have babysitters coming over for the first time so that we can celebrate our first anniversary with Italian food, wine and memories.

It’s a Prosecco day in the Svendsen household – happy first anniversary darling!

17 May

I love the 17th of May in Norway. It’s just like the 4th of July in the US, but swaps out the shorts, t-shirts and barbeques for traditional costumes (bunads), blue suits and brunch. The entire town is covered in Norwegian flags, even the trams and taxis are outfitted in patriotic gear. And until you have school-aged children who march through town in the children’s parade (we still have some years before that…), it’s the perfect excuse to get dressed up and drink Prosecco in the middle of the week.

Our good friends Christian & Eline hosted this year’s brunch at their fabulous new home just outside Oslo’s city centre. Christian worked round-the-clock before the holiday to finish their terrace outside – the weather gods rewarded his efforts and showered us with sunshine on the big day.

It was also Per Christian’s first 17th of May. I hope he will someday forgive his mother for dressing him up like a drunken sailor for the occasion:

Some examples of the bunads on display yesterday are below. These are serious get-ups, quite expensive and usually passed down from generation to generation. Each bunad has colors and patterns that represent a region of the country. They’re only pulled out for the most special of occasions, such as weddings, baptisms, confirmations and the 17th of May. (I have also heard that they are made with expanding waistbands so you can still use them as you get older and fatter. Good call – those crafty Norwegians really know how to make a garment last…)

They even include shoes and tights the remind me on the Jolly Green Giant, but are essential for full bunad correctness:

Per Christian spent the day sleeping on various shoulders and charming the crowd per usual:

So from a happy Svendsen family, surviving our way through early-stage parenthood and still sipping the occasional prosecco along the way, we hope you all had a glorious 17th of May!

Meeting the “Far’s”

This past weekend, little Per Christian met his Farmor & Farfar for the first time (literally translated, “Father’s mother” & “Father’s father,” otherwise known as doting grandparents in the English-speaking world). Like any grandparents around the world, they fell head-over-heels in love with their very first grandchild. Per Christian clearly knows how to turn on the charm and, as a result, he has guaranteed himself many years of Christmas and birthday presents in the future. Smart kid.

An unexpected by-product of the visit was some much-needed R&R for Per Christian’s parents, who took advantage of the visit to get some extra sleep and to enjoy a bit more wine than usual (at least Mommy did – two glasses of red wine on Saturday night and I was back in true form…).

Below is a summary of the weekend’s events in pictures.

Farmor meets Per Christian for the first time:

Farmor utilizes special Jedi mind-tricks to take charge:

Per Christian’s great-grandmother takes a spin as well:

Per Christian gets a bath (okay – not necessarily weekend-related, but still incredibly cute and news-worthy):

Per Christian meets his Nordic lineage – four generations of Svendsen men:

Farmor takes charge again (seriously – the little man has zero ability to resist her powers):

Per Christian smiles (this is apparently an important developmental milestone and, besides that, it’s just so darn cute):

Farfar demonstrates his own calming techniques, which include a cozy lap, wine and/or beer + copious amounts of Pavarotti:

Uncles Thor and Dag also participated:

Per Christian, who never before accepted a bottle, was reduced to putty in Farmor’s experienced hands (Note that Mommy & Pappa are quite happy with this development as it means we can possible dump share our wee one with various babysitters):

Per Christian went for several long walks in the lovely Norwegian countryside:

And he took his first sailing trip too:

Per Christian chilled outside for a little while:

And Mommy relaxed too:

But finally it was time to head back to Oslo (I don’t usually dress my son for the arctic, but it was actually a bit cold and rainy that day – don’t let the sunshine streaming through the windows fool you…):

Thanks for the visit, Farmor & Farfar – see you again in July!

The end of multi-tasking: a new mother’s monologue

As my dear husband will confirm, I am the Queen of Multi-Tasking. Not only am I good at it, I actually thrive on it. Unless I have ten jobs with tight deadlines hanging over my head, I’m bored. My husband admittedly can’t do two things at once (don’t even try talking to him when the TV is on, and when Liverpool is playing – forget it).

I’m the exact opposite. I’m one of those annoying people who has to-do lists all over the house — and when I do something outside of the list I write it down just so I can have the pleasure of crossing it off. I sense that I inherited these traits from my mother who plans Christmas dinner in July.

All of that changed five weeks ago when Per Christian joined the family. Now it’s a day-by-day existence where I plan one day in advance if I’m lucky. Yesterday, for example, was a 3pm deadline to make the train and visit Pappa at work. Tomorrow it’s a 12 noon deadline to (attempt to) get my hair cut. Today we might just make it to the shoe repair guy and the grocery store.

My multitasking prowess certainly comes in handy with these seemingly uncomplicated tasks. I can now successfully take care of an infant AND shower on a daily basis. I can also manage to get us both dressed in a relatively decent fashion and out the door at least once per day. And even now, I can manage to type here while Per Christian sleeps strapped to my chest in his baby carrier.

The surprising part – and one that I didn’t expect – is that I’m not complaining about any of it. As someone who was always focused on my next big project, I find myself actually giving over to being a Mom. This little meatloaf has so entirely captured my heart that each day feels like a triumph rather than a compromise. I’ve (temporarily) traded in my to-do lists for a diaper pail and a breast pump (but just to keep some perspective, you should know that there’s a bottle of champagne chillin’ in the fridge).

This feeling took a few weeks to develop, and during that time I often found myself resenting Per Christian and the changes he demanded in my life. Being a new parent is HARD, and not just in a sleepless-night kind of way. It’s the emotional stuff that really creeps up on you and takes you for a spin. Everyone warns you about that in advance, but you really have no idea until you’re tumbling down the rabbit hole first-hand.

Of course, I can’t say that I’m always 100% blissful in a Joan Cleaver kind of way, or that I’ve mastered parenthood and feel invincible. I doubt and question myself every day…. Am I feeding him too much? too often? not enough? Is he going to bed too late? too early? Are we too strict or too flexible? Will giving him a pacifier now reduce his chances of getting into Oxford in 20 years?

But trust me – once your boobs literally leak at the sound of your child crying, you know that life will never be the same again. The great part is finally accepting and embracing the change – THAT, my friends,  is when things start looking brighter in the Svendsen household.