April, 2008

We have suddenly become real residents of London. In the past six weeks we've been in to London three times which is certainly a record for our time here. It's great to actually feel like we can do that... the kids can now handle a whole day out, and can even roll with the punches enough to make it an overall good experience. Yes, there are still blips here and there, but for the most part, it's good for us, and good for them. Today's outing was especially tricky as there was train trouble-- a signal fire stopped all trains to and from Waterloo, so travel took much longer than it would have otherwise. Our goal today was to try the bike with the box. And try it we did, finally, after a rather scary pizza buffet lunch in Victoria station. The verdict... well, the kids liked it for the most part, although Nina got cranky towards the end of each leg, but she does that with most forms of transportation. It was a pretty long ride each way to and from the Princess Diana Playground in Hyde Park, our destination for the outing, and the weather was cold with scattered rain and even snow, so those factors were against us. It was definitely a workout and would take some getting used to, but it felt much, much safer than the trailer or even the bike seat. Plus Nina is getting to the point where she's nearly too big for the bike seat. She has had quite a growth spurt lately, all her trousers are a bit short now... The biggest problems with the Christiania would be: cost, parking, and fitness level-- biking that up Richmond Hill would certainly qualify as a good workout. But I really like the idea of biking much more than the idea of a second car. The cars pretty much stand still on the way in to school anyway. Plus my recent run-in with a post that resulted in knocking out, but luckily not breaking, the side-view mirror when I swerved in one of those "this is a ridiculously tight street and there's an SUV headed straight for me" moments made me feel even more sketchy about driving. It was good to try the bike out anyway, as now I have considered all the options. You can get one with two benches which would also work better for the kids, although they'd have to take turns with who sat where, but they're getting pretty used to taking turns now.
One thing that's making it easier to do day trips is that Nina is now very good about using the potty. It is really wonderful to have the diaper-change era behind us.
Nina has been doing much better at Pebbles. We have decided to keep her there for next year after all. I like the woman who runs it, and maybe more importantly, she likes Nina. Nina clearly likes several of the staff there and is generally enjoying story and circle time, although she has had some trouble with turn-taking, but she seems to be getting the idea. Another good thing is that we had a home visit by the same OT that sees Sam at school, and she is going to visit Pebbles after the break. That is really exciting because maybe she will be able to help them make it a more suitable environment for Nina. Nina seems to have had a growth spurt mentally lately as well and seems much more her own person now. I always think it's neat when they turn that corner-- when you suddenly look at them and think, "Ah, so that's you!"
Sam finally saw an ENT who felt that is was too early to consider tonsillectomy. However, he did find that Sam has fluid in his ears, with reduced hearing as a result. That explains why it has been even harder to get Sam's attention. Sam continues to be very into dinosaurs. We had a very good play date with a boy from his class, Alexander, who is also into dinosaurs, so that was nice.
We also had a very good Easter weekend. The Saturday before Easter Sunday we went to the Barretts and had a lovely time with their family and another woman and her two kids coloring Easter eggs and doing an egg hunt. That night Sam came down with a stomach bug, but we thought he was better enough by Monday to go ahead and host the Swedish get-together we had planned... of course it turned out that Nina came down with the same bug just before people started arriving, so I missed much of it as I was upstairs changing her clothes, but Håkan and Sam had fun meeting some Swedish families we hadn't met before and a couple that we'd met only briefly. It was a full house!
In general we're feeling much more settled in the area now which is really good for us all. It does take time to get to that point. Now if only spring would come....

The big news over the last couple weeks is that Nina now has her own room. We had an "own room" party last Friday and the front room was officially converted, complete with single bed. We had been dragging our feet on making that change for many reasons. I have felt very ambivalent about Nina being expected to sleep on her own after having slept with me for such a long time. I had entertained hopes that the bunk bed in Sam's room would prove to be a good option for the two of them, that way neither of them would be alone, but Sam has recently gotten really good at sleeping on his own without calling for help. He also has recently said that he likes to sleep on his own. Plus he has decided on how to decorate his room and what toys would be in there. Those factors made it apparent that Nina would have to have her own space. So now she does and her little ponies have found a new home. This is all very well and good. Of course there is adjustment that has to be made by the adults as well: Håkan had to order books so that he could tolerate going to bed much earlier and I will have to find a sleeping cap to tolerate the drafts on the third floor. Nina is generally pleased to have her own room.
There is also the nursing issue. I myself feel 90% ready to be completely done with nursing. However, Nina feels only about 40% ready. When we made the decision to change the rooms, I thought what would make sense was to have the third floor be a no-nursing zone. After the health visitor's visit on Monday I also decided that her suggestion made sense-- Nina wouldn't be able to learn how to go back to sleep in the middle of the night without nursing until she had learned to go to sleep without nursing period. So starting on Monday night we nursed until I thought she was ready to go to sleep and then stopped. But she was not able to finish going to sleep very easily on her own. The first night she didn't fall asleep till 9:30. That night and the following night she ended up falling asleep listening to H. read a story. The next two nights it was still about 9 but it was listening to me read a story. Meanwhile in the middle of the night I was ending up in her single bed. That had to stop, so last night she joined us on the third floor when she woke up at 1. Tonight we started again with the same approach as the last few nights but tonight it didn't work. She got very upset and wouldn't be distracted or consoled. Because she is at this point sleep-deprived and has been tired all day, and because if H. and I had switched kids and then I had had to leave Sam's room Sam would have gotten very upset, I caved, and nursed her to sleep. And you know what, that is what was right for her tonight. As one of my dear friends put it-- this will not go on forever. It really won't... I feel quite sure she will be done nursing by 4 at the latest, and that is not really all that far away. Until then, we will just have to take it slow but steady with our eyes on the prize of a whole night's sleep.
Nina had her first ballet lesson and Sam had his first afterschool tennis lesson yesterday. Both lessons went well. Nina was fantastically cute in her excitement and Sam seems to be really taking to tennis which is great. He has also been enjoying swimming on Tuesday nights.