The Next Chapter

If I wrote a book about the past few years of my life, it would look something like this:

Chapter 1 – Marguerite Meets her Match: A Love Story with Fruit (aka Per) in Azerbaijan

Chapter 2 – Marguerite Gets Schooled: Beer-Stained Spreadsheets in Oxford

Chapter 3 – Marguerite Moves North: Separating “Titte” from “Tisse” in Norway

Chapter 4 – Marguerite Births Fidel: A History in the Making

Chapter 5 – Marguerite Takes a Time-Out: Adjusting to Mommy-hood in Gran Canaria

And now… !

Chapter 6 – Marguerite Gets Her Groove Back: Moving the Family to Istanbul

Yep. Istanbul. Can and get a “WTF?” from my dear readers, please?

It’s hard to even imagine the changes in store for Family Svendsen as we move from relaxing, peaceful Gran Canaria to the buzz and chaos of Istanbul. But I’m somehow irrationally excited about returning to an urban address after two years of beach living. Most people hear the news and think we’re insane, giving up our easy existence here for a big, fat Turkish-speaking question mark. And I get your point, really I do.

But I have this song running on replay in my head these days, courtesy of living with a two-year-old who adores Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, too)…

Eeyore: Well I’m not sure.
Tigger: Oh stop that gloomy roomynation
All you need is a little bit of Tiggerization
Tigger: Why wait? Don’t you see it’s gonna be great?
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!

Strike me down! Give me all ya got!
Bounce me! Trounce me! Flounce me! Pounce me!
Do it! Do it! Do it!
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be….

I suppose quoting Tigger is perhaps not the most auspicious beginning for this next chapter of the book called My Life. Maybe my senses are dulled by the fumes of moving boxes already filling the house, or the weariness of researching Istanbul’s numerous neighborhoods online in an effort to focus our impending house hut.

Surely the fact that I’m writing this at 4:36am has nothing to do with it.

But the wheels are set in motion and momentum is building. Over the next month, I’ll be dis-assembling the house we spent two years putting together (which, let’s be honest, mostly involves negotiating with my husband on whether we really need to take that unused cord plug or unwatched DVD with us). And I’ll be emptying the freezer of our totally unnecessary stockpile of food, trying to assure my family that we can live on frozen chicken, peas and beer for a few weeks (plus about 24 bottles of duty-free Prosecco our friends just delivered, but nobody’s complaining about that one.)

And I’ll slowly be saying good-bye to Gran Canaria, a place that looks amazingly attractive now that we’re leaving.

But hey –

It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!

Just like Pappa

I seem to remember something from high school psychology class about an Oedipus complex among young boys – how they’re subconsciously in love with their mothers and therefore jealous and vengeful towards their fathers.

My son, apparently, has skipped that lesson. I wrote here about how Per Christian loves his morning bathroom time with Pappa. More recently, he’s started waving bye-bye and giving kisses to Pappa as he leaves the house every morning (kisses are apparently exclusively reserved for Pappa – Mommy gets no such lovin’).

And now, here’s the latest Pappa-pantomine to come into our little one’s head…..

Even more impressive is how Per Christian’s already following Pappa’s lead about where to put the underwear when he’s finished with it…

(NOTE – my husband does actually place his underwear in the laundry basket on a daily basis. But someone’s mischievous little hands have recently started pulling clothes OUT of the basket and spreading them around the house for Mommy to pick up again. Is the father or son to blame here….? You be the judge.)

The maybe game

Are you still looking for the perfect holiday gift for new parents? Or are you a new parent yourself and looking for ways to entertain you and your partner over the holiday season? (Because – let’s face it – your childless friends will be out on the town, but you will absolutely be home alone with a baby and multiple bottles of bubbly…)

Then I recommend this year’s hottest new item – The Maybe Game (designed exclusively for P&P fans worldwide). This exciting mystery puzzle takes a modern spin on the age-old activity of trying to guess what the f* is wrong with your kid.

To play this game, simply gather a group of parents around the table and select a card from one of the decks labeled “Sleepless Nights,” Mysterious Crying,” or “Parental Karma.” Read the situation on the back of the card and discuss. At length. And repeatedly.

Example #1:

You select a card from the Mysterious Crying deck that reads:

“Your baby is crying.
Maybe it is gas.
Maybe it is hunger.
Maybe it is tiredness.
What do you do?”

At this point, you and your partner sit on opposite sides of the table and discuss possible solutions ad naseum.

Winners do not exist because there are in fact no correct answers. (What – you thought you had the answers?! HA! You over-confident schmuck, you must go directly to the Jailhouse of Dirty Diapers for the next three turns. Do not pass Go and definitely do not look at your partner for assistance.)

Example #2:

You select a card from the Parental Karma deck that reads:

Your baby slept like an angel on your cross-country flight to grandmother’s house.
You should therefore expect either:
A. Continued angelic behavior
B. Total meltdown

(Hint – the answer is not A.)

The Maybe Game never ends. Repeat the same cards in another 20 minutes and enjoy all the fun you have trying to figure them out the second time. The possibilities are endless!

Recommended Players: 2 or more (partial ownership of at least child is required in order to participate)

Time Required: 30+ years

Goal: Survival

Give the perfect gift to all the dazed and confused parents on your list this year!

An open letter to all the daddies in the world

Dear Pappa(s),

We know you’re doing the best you can. We know you’re just as dazed and confused as we are. But you’re so much better at hiding it. Your calm, rational ways fall under the shadow of our Mamma Bear personas and tend to get lost in the shuffle.

So please forgive us when we lose our tempers after you don’t have an immediate solution to X (insert given infant ailment here – sleeping, teething, eating, etc etc etc….). It´s not that we necessarily expect you to have the answers, it´s just that we´re so exhausted at not having them ourselves. Our poor darlings are crying and “oh my god please just make it stop, it´s making my heart bleed and my boobs leak…..“!

We don´t say it often enough, but we do appreciate you being here. We really don´t know what we´d do if you weren’t here. Because you´re still the guy who helped make this family and who helps keep it together. You´re the guy who makes mommy coffee and sandwiches before you leave for work. You´re the guy who races home every day to try and make the evening bath and bottle. You´re the guy who fills our wine glasses after the babies are asleep. And you´re the guy who quietly steps in and provides relief when mommy needs it most.

But, you know, if you could have a few more of the answers, that would be good too.

Thanks for stickin´ around, pappa(s).

Three generations of Svendsen pappas that have managed to stick around :

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.

Daddy Diaries, Vol. 1: Per Speaks

(Editor’s note: In an effort to include thoughts from both members of the Svendsen family while still requiring minimal effort from the male member, we’re launching a series of interviews with our favorite husband and pappa-to-be. The thoughts below are exclusively from Per, but the typing and witty editorial comments are courtesy of the author herself.)

M:  How did you react when the big announcement first came your way….
P: Marguerite told me about the pregnancy over the phone from Stavanger. She was still commuting at the time and couldn’t wait to tell me face-to-face. (NB: this is true, I can’t deny my inability to keep secrets from my husband….). I sent her the photos below to illustrate emotions I found hard to put into words:

Per's reaction to the Big News

It was really a surreal moment, kind of like falling in love – you know you’re happy, but not really sure WHAT you’re happy about yet. I felt a kind of victory but, at the same time, I wondered – what am I actually cheering for?

M: Has it hit you yet that there’s going to be a B-A-B-Y in the house?
P: Not really. We’re still in “chores-mode” at this point. I was raised as an only child and I’m quite selfish, so it’s good that I’ve had nine months to adjust. I think most fathers-to-be feel a bit disconnected from the whole pregnancy thing – we see our partners growing and we get excited at the ultrasounds, but it’s not as much “in our face” all the time as it is for our partners. The hardest struggle for me is to put aside my selfishness and try to empathize with what you’re feeling everyday. (NB: Per’s being too hard on himself here – he’s been an outstanding source of support for the author, even waking to tuck her back into bed after her midnight waddles to the toilet.)

M: Any thoughts about the pregnancy thus far?
P: I think I’ve gotten off a bit easy actually – not too much sickness or emotional outbursts, and no forced trips to London to satisfy cravings for Marks & Spencer egg salad. Maybe I’ve missed out on something there, but still I feel lucky that we’ve had a pretty easy go of it. (NB: In all fairness, the M&S egg salad is definitely crave-worthy. Trust me, I know all about it….)

M: Tell everyone about the new car….
P: I love it! It’s got all the gadgets a man could ever want, plus now also the (somewhat strange) addition of a baby seat in the back. It’s a typical Svendsen purchase made with the heart rather than the head, but driving is now a pleasure rather than a chore.

M: What are you most looking forward to right now?
P: I’ll admit that I’m a bit scared of the actual birth. My father managed to escape my own birth and I’d probably prefer to follow in his footsteps and get pissed in a pub somewhere. But I can appreciate the effort involved in holding hands with your wife and giving support when it’s needed the most. I’m really looking forward to bringing the chap home and having him sleep on my chest for the first time. (NB: A collective “ahhhh, how cute….” will be heard from women around the world at such an image.)

M: Any thoughts on actual parenting?
P: I assume I’ll make it up as I go along. I’d much rather prefer a few “pee-in-the-face” moments rather than attending a diaper course or having some nanny tell me what to do. I want to bring some of the strengths of my own father into the mix — leading from my heart and the rest will fall into place. (NB: This is a welcome balance to the author’s own approach, which involves a stack of baby books with highlighted passages and sticky notes throughout…)

M: So where do you fall on the Prosecco vs. Pampers spectrum?
P: Right now I’m unfortunately limiting my Prosecco intake in preparation for an emergency drive to the delivery ward. Following the birth, we’ll just have to wait and see….