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!

Our Brady Bunch

And now for something completely different, a cultural reference lesson for the non-American readers among us…
“The Brady Bunch” was a very popular TV sitcom back in the early 70’s that portrayed the trials and tributions of a blended family from two separate marriages. Three girls on one side and three boys on the other, learning to live together over five years of predictable sitcom life.
” … There’s the story of a lovely lady with three very lovely girls… lalalala…. and a man named Brady with three boys of his own, this group formed a family and that’s how they all became the Brady bunch…. lalalala…
If this still doesn’t ring a bell, check out this link:

Per and I have our own spin on the Brady bunch here in Oslo. Our amazing circle of friends has become our blended family in this first month of newborn bliss. (And by “bliss” I of course mean every emotion from tears of joy to tears of frustation…) With our much wiser and more experienced parents residing in faraway locales like Sri Lanka and South Carolina, our friends have stepped in to fill the gap. “Our friends are our family,” is a saying often repeated these past few weeks in the Svensend household.

Our friends have entertained us, fed us, walked with us, cleaned our floors and pushed our child around grocery stores ever since Day One. They have held Per Christian when mommy & pappa needed a break, and they have lavished so much love upon him that the poor child is miserable when his lackluster  parents are the only ones around. Per Christian already bears the typical Svendsen mark of never being able to miss a party – he refuses to sleep when there are visitors in the house for fear that he might miss one more cuddle or one exciting moment. Such is the Svendsen cross he’s born to bear….

So this post is an Ode of Joy to all our friends out there that have ushered Per Christian into being this first month. Thank you for caring for our newborn and his parents. Thank you for being our own personal Brady bunch family.

And now, some photos…. 

Winning the Lottery

We have a good friend who once said that being born in Norway was like winning the lottery. As a newly-minted beneficiary of the Norwegian “permisjon” system (i.e. – maternity leave), I must agree.  As of yesterday, I am now offically excused from work until March 2012. With full benefits. Plus  full vacation time. Plus 80% salary. Plus a guaranteed job when I return.

Lottery, indeed!

Now I know there are some heated opinions on the topic, but let me say this – I challenge any mother (or father, for that matter) to choose lower tax rates over having the first 12 months at home with their newborns. In Norway, there’s no need to choose between surviving on one salary or paying for expensive daycare. You have full rights to stay at home for 42-52 weeks and then make your child care decision at a more civilized age.

I get these benefits not because I’m married to a Norwegian but because I’ve worked here and paid into the system for at least the past six months. And pappas are also required to participate – they must use at least 10 of the 42 weeks or else lose them completely. In Oslo, it’s not an unfamiliar site to see fathers and baby strollers filling the cafes during the weekday lunch hour while mommy goes back to work. Of course, these poor children are usually dressed in mismatched clothing that daddy didn’t see a problem blending together, but the fashion trauma doesn’t seem to leave any lasting impact…

It’s also quite common for both parents to take their leave at the same time, thereby allowing the entire family to rent a house in the south of Spain for a month or two on the government’s dime. I know one set of parents who just returned from three weeks in the Alps with their one-year old daughter, another set of parents went off for six weeks to Australia (with their little one as well – no leaving them behind for a child-free holiday).

I also haven’t paid a single penny towards my prenatal care and won’t have to pay anything for the delivery at the hospital. You won’t find any insurance debates about what gets covered or who pays if something goes wrong. It’s all included, thank-you-very-much. We will have to pay for Per’s room & board at the post-delivery hotel with me and the Melon, but I suppose we can swallow that goverment-subsidized pill without too much complaint. 

This isn’t to say that the system is flawless, and I know a lot of people take advantage of the benefits that we all pay to receive. But for the Svendsen family –  right here and now – it is indeed a winning lottery ticket.

Next time I’ll update you on what I’m actually doing with the time “off” this month before the Melon arrives — nursery photos are on the way!