I have a certain personality trait that everyone around me has always known. Everyone except myself, that is, until recently.

I’m a 100% type-A outta-control Control Freak.

That’s me. And, as I repeat daily to my husband, you have to love ALL of me…

So all you punks out there reading this and thinking “duh…..,” I have to admit that this really is a recent revelation for me. Maybe part of me still imagined myself barefoot in the rain at yoga camp. Or maybe since I’ve lived in six countries over the last 12 years I still imaged myself as some peaceful vagabond hippie-type. Or maybe since my hair is curly I thought my personality naturally followed suit.

But then I became a mommy, and all those assumptions came smack up against reality. Because the truth is, when it comes right down to it, I much rather prefer order, precision and cleanliness to spontaneity and clutter.

This is not necessarily a desirable trait for a mother of a seven-month-old baby boy.

I really do wish I were one of those ultra-cool, ultra-relaxed Earth mommies I see everywhere, sipping coffee calmly in the café while their little angels sleep soundly in their strollers. But that’s just not been my experience thus far. For better or for worse, I’m the mommy giving her little one his bottles at precisely 08.00, 12.00 and 18.00, plus feeding him puréed fruit/veg/porridge mush at precisely 09.00, 13.00 and 16.00.

If we’re late, I get nervous. If Per Christian is still sleeping, I start pacing the floors. If we’re out and about and there’s no suitable feeding area nearby, I start to panic. I literally start to crawl out of my skin when a feeding time approaches and something gets in the way.

Per Christian probably couldn’t care less – I’ve never once heard this kid cry out of hunger, even when he was a newborn. I always jumped up and popped him onto my boob before we got to an actual cry. In fact, I don’t even know what his “hunger cry” sounds like.

So now – picture this Control Freak Mommy in a foreign country on her first major pantry-stocking shopping trip. This is an always an important event in any country you move to, both as an interesting adventure to see what new goodies might be available and, at the same time, as a potential nightmare if you are a CFM like me.

Imagine this scenario…. I’ve been advised to start PC on chicken and fish at 7 months of age. That’s in two days. Not before, not after (see how the CFM already rears her ugly head???).

So we’re at the ginormous Carrefour in Canary and I’m looking for boneless chicken breasts for his first real meat-lovers meal. It’s getting close to 16.00 (see timetable above), we still have 17 aisles of grocery store madness to cover, and I can’t find the f*cking chicken breasts.

I start to panic.

I’m thinking: “My son needs to start eating chicken in exactly two days and I can’t find the right stuff. I’m a horrible mother!!! I can’t feed my son properly!!! He will remember pangs of hunger caused by lack of chicken in his diet, and he’ll have to cope with his mother’s negligence during his therapy sessions in 20 years!

Of course, I couldn’t actually vocalize all of that intelligently in the middle of Carrefour. So what I did instead was give my husband the shock of his life when he turned around in the deli section and confronted a CFM rocking back and forth with a tear-stained and utterly distressed look on her face.

I’m not kidding, folks. I cried over chicken breasts.

I’m so lucky to have the husband I have because he immediately hugged me, discovered the trigger point of my CFM madness, and made me see the humor in the entire situation.

And then we both laughed, and we did actually find the chicken breasts.

On the way home, I realized I might potentially be a 100% type-A outta-control Control Freak. Or maybe I’m just a a mother of a seven-month-old baby boy.

You decide.



If you’re a regular follower of P&P or in any way connected to the Svendsen family, then you know we’ve just relocated from Oslo, Norway to Grand Canary, Spain. We’ve apparently moved at the perfect time – right before the fall chill and rain really settled in Oslo, and several months before the heavy-duty heat hits us here.

The moving company came last Thursday to pack and ship all 78 (yes, 78!!!) boxes of personal items. We also gave away about three carloads full of stuff, so I honestly have no idea what’s left in those 78 boxes. Clearly, it’s Per Christian’s fault we can no longer travel with two suitcases each.

The golden child was a huge hit on our SAS flight from Oslo-Las Palmas, and I don’t only say that because he’s my son and therefore perfect in every way. I mean that he was a serious entertainer, thriving on attention from strangers and really hamming it up for their enjoyment. There were numerous occasions when, right before complete overtired-meltdown-time arrived, a flight attendant would walk past us and goo-goo over our son, thereby renewing his will to live for another few moments.

I don’t know where he inherited these social skills. Really, it’s a mystery folks….

Now that we’ve landed, our first task is of course to find housing. That’s apparently a tricky situation in our southern part of the island, where retirees from all over Europe spend their winter months. We’ve been told that the best housing gems were snagged several months ago, leaving us with very few leftovers to pick through.

So, we have temporary housing at the moment, something we’re “test driving” for a week to see if we’d like to rent it long-term. It’s an okay option for us but of course not perfect. The positives include the huge terrace, the sea views, the great light and the simple interior. The downsides are the miniscule kitchen, the cheap IKEA outfitting and the large staircases separating us from the town’s center (definitely not a stroller-friendly option). We’d also prefer to have an additional bedroom for all the guests we expect to visit… So which is more important – the terrace and sea view, or the third bedroom and larger kitchen?

Decisions, decisions…

Our local town of Arguineguin is definitely different from I expected. It’s more residential than the tourist centers of Puerto Rico and Maspalomas, so there’s a greater range of local life within reach here. At the same time, it’s also where the majority of Norwegian residents spend their winter months. I kid you not – there are 11,000 Norwegians on the island and most of them live in our backyard. The local SPAR store sells our must-have Mills mayonnaise and Friele coffee (if you can suck up the 7 EUR price tag), and the coffee shop sells the daily edition of Norway’s VG newspaper.

So we have a mini-Norway here in Spain… the jury is still out on how we’re going to like that over the next few years.

We met our Norwegian neighbors on the very first evening – one invited us over for drinks and the other invited us to hire her 13-year-old daughters as babysitters. I’m still shocked at this behavior, and here’s why – I lived for three years in Norway and never once met any of my neighbors. Apparently, Norwegians in the tropics are a different breed than in the homeland, more inclined to chat over their fences or rent out their children to newly-arrived strangers.

Per Christian seems to be adapting well to the change – in fact, I don’t even think he notices the difference. I’m sure he loves the absence of the “lua” (winter hat) he was made to endure in Oslo, and he has a lot more space in the main room for his coming-and-going’s. His recent achievements include semi-skilled push-ups, downward dog yoga poses and full 360 degree belly rotations. He’s clearly getting frustrated by his little body’s limitations, so I think his movements are going to get wider and wilder by the day now.

So, in short, the Svendsen family is transitioning pretty well thus far. We won’t have internet in the house until next week, so updates to P&P may be irregular in the nearest future. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some photos of our trip south and our current house.

All you potential visitors out there, feel free to comment below — should we stay here or keep looking???

Some photos from the plane ride to Grand Canary:

Views from our current house, Calle Nayra 83:

Time-lapse photography of Per Christian’s full belly rotation:

Brain fail #1,269

As both my father and father-in-law have pointed out, I need to take a refresher course on scientific history.

This post should of course have referred to Murphy (anything that can go wrong – will), rather than to Newton (gravity and apple-on-the-head).

Damn. Sorry folks.

In an attempt to hide my utter embarrassment and avoid any further blunders, here are some recent photos of our precious little meatball. Current favorite activities include grabbing at anything within arm’s reach and throwing them across the room/table/jet plane. I’ve heard this is typical Boy behavior, as opposed to Girl behavior that includes playing quietly with minimum destruction (sugar and spice and all that….)

He’s teething badly enough to drive mommy to distraction. Thank goodness pappa returns home from Gran Canaria tonight.

One week left in countdown to the Big Move – wish us luck everyone!


Uh oh…. I think there’s another bar-loving Svendsen in the house:

Playdate with girlfriend Nina, Auntie Eline and Auntie Larissa:

Traveling like a big boy to the airport:

Excellent promotional material for Norwegian Airlines (en route to Auntie Gøril in Tromsø):

Classic Nordic baby-style:

Look everyone…. up on all fours!

Taking stock

There’s something about the process of moving that makes me a bit reflective – it’s excitement with a side order of nostalgia. We always put together inventory lists for the movers, and that forces you to take stock of what you have and what you’ve gathered/accumulated/produced since the last move. Our upcoming move to Gran Canaria is no different.

I’ve been moving every 2-3 years ever since my first journey to Russia back in 1999. If I had actually kept all those inventory lists over the years, they would probably look something like this:

We have yet to finalize our inventory list this time around, but here’s what I’ve put together so far:

What do you think – am I missing anything?

My superhero self

There are hundreds of articles and pieces of advice out there about what to expect from your post-baby body. Changes in hip and waist sizes (ugh!), changes in bra sizes (fabulous!), hair loss, tender joints and sore lady parts…. You name it, someone out there is postpartum and feelin’ it.

But nobody told me about Mommy Ears. Not visible to the naked eye, Mommy Ears is a curious phenomena that only newly-minted mothers can appreciate. (Fathers are, apparently, immune.)

It results in a heightened sense of sonic abilities – some are so powerful they could land you on the cast of Heroes or X-Men. You can hear the tiniest peep from your little one several rooms away and at all hours of the day or night. You can instantly distinguish your little one’s cries amid all the other noise at the shopping mall or your mommy group meeting. You can sleep through earthquakes and natural disasters, but never through your little one crying.

This is some serious Superhero stuff.

Take, for example, my experiences over the last several nights. Lille Per Christian is teething up a storm, so everything I knew about his sleeping and eating habits has flown out the window. Damn.

So I’m deep in an exhausted sleep and wake suddenly for no reason at 2:50 am.

I lay in bed, body tense, holding my breath.

30 seconds…. 90 seconds…. three minutes….

Whew. Nothing. Roll back over to sleep.

But NO! There it is. A small whimper from the nursery. A pint-sized stirring that warns me my son is awakening at a most unappreciated hour. I leave him for a few more minutes to make sure, during which time his small murmurings become much louder and more insistent. A few more minutes to make double-y sure…. Yep. The little guy is up.

How is it possible that those tiny sounds can travel through walls and sealed doors to snatch me so abruptly from Slumberville? I can sleep through all manner of drunken debauchery on the streets outside my bedroom window, but I wake at this?!

Mommy ears, I’m telling’ ya.

I’m unsure if these abilities will intensify or weaken as Per Christian gets older and I grow more comfortable with my Superhero powers. I half-expect he’ll be a 27-year-old Peace Corps volunteer in the Zambian outback and I’ll still be laying awake at night for the sound of him waking.

But I guess that’s all part of being a Mommy (aka Superhero).

Note: This image is NOT representative of Per Christian during teething.

Newton’s law

NOTE: This post has been updated on 14 October due to my embarrassing blunder in scientific history. Blerg! See here for full disclosure…

I remember when I was young(er) and my father would travel quite often for business. This was always, always the time when something went wrong in our house and my mother would have to deal with it alone. It was inevitable – the plumbing would rupture, the toilet would overflow, the car would break down, the dog would get sick, the kids would get arrested (kidding).

Of course, this was also inevitably the time when my mother would wallpaper the bathroom or paint the kitchen. I guess Newton’s Murphy’s law worked both ways in my house.

Now that Pappa Svendsen is gone for two weeks getting set up in Gran Canaria (check out our new locale here), I’m discovering a new-found sympathy for my mother’s former plights. He’s only been gone for four days and already Newton Murphy is in full swing.

The computer breaks down and I don’t know what to do (we recently purchased a MacBook Air which I both love and hate in equal intervals).

Lille Per discovers the joys of the television remote and now you can just guess what doesn’t work anymore.

Teething pains descend and Lille Per is at maximum levels of fussiness until – miraculously – tooth number two made an appearance.

And days like this happen that make me wonder how single mothers ever survive.

We’re only renting our place here in Oslo, so I’m not following in my mother’s wallpaper/painting footsteps quite yet. But I am doing my own version of pet projects during my quiet nights at home – writing on this blog, trying out some new recipes (since I’m the only potential victim), looking over a few Spanish lessons, taking a quick farewell trip to a friend up North…. Whatever it takes to get out of the house and avoid as many versions of Newton-ness Murphy-ness as possible.

Let’s just hope the kids don’t get arrested while he’s gone (kidding).

At least he’s not a vegetarian *

Poor Sophie.

* Please note, I don’t have anything against vegetarians. In fact, I was one myself for about a decade. But then I met a Norwegian. And that was the end of that.

Mission impossible

Mission for the day:
1. Leave house
2. Buy new jeans
3. Buy sugar

Plan of attack:
12.00     Wake, feed and dress PC
12.15     Depart home
14.00     Return home

 What happened in reality:

11.30     Baby starts stirring in bed. Mommy gets herself dressed and food packed so everyone’s ready to leave.

11.40     Baby wakes, is dressed for the day and hangs out a bit with Mommy.

11.45     Baby spits up apple-avocado breakfast on his clothes.

Oh s***… Maybe damage isn’t too bad. I think we can get away without another costume change.

12.00     Baby gets his bottle (see here for why we’re not breastfeeding anymore).
Baby doesn’t burp, decides instead to vomit all over Mommy.

Oh s***. Can’t go out like this. Mommy rushes to change clothes while PC chills in the crib.

12.05     Mommy is dressed and ready to go again. 
Baby is dressed in hat and coat (amid piercing screams on his part).
Unmistakable smell of dirty diaper-ness reaches Mommy’s nose.

Oh s***. Can’t take him out like this. Might as well change his apple-avocado pants while we’re at it.

12.10     Diaper off but trashcan out of liners. 
Mommy replaces liners while Baby chills on the changing table (diaper-less)
Mommy feels drops of liquid on her head, looks up, receives well-placed shot of baby urine in the eyeball.

Oh s***. Are you kidding me?!?!

12.15     Mommy dries off face, hair and changing table, takes a deep breath and wishes Pappa weren’t out of town.

12.20     Diaper pail re-lined, Baby re-diapered and re-dressed in non-apple-avocado-covered pants.

12.30     Assorted keys, phones, wallets, food containers, bottles, burp cloths and other baby paraphernalia gathered. We’re out the door.

Oh s***. It’s raining. How did I not know that?!

12.32     Family returns inside for stroller’s rain cover. Cover attached and we’re out the door again.

Final result:
Comedy of errors continued throughout the day, leaving mother and son to return home at 14.00 without either the jeans or the sugar in hand.