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Getting Lucia right

It is not always easy being the kid of a foreigner. As much as the parent tries to blend in there are certain cultural subtleties that get lost on them. One of these things is not coming dressed appropriately at certain events that make no sense to their parent. You would think having a Norwegian dad should save you from this embarrassment but for some reason this particular dad didn’t seem to have a clue either what the appropriate Saint Lucy’s attire was.

Last year was the first year we were to participate in a Lucia parade at Kindergarten. Saint Lucy is referred to as Lucia here in the Nordic. There were mails floating around that mentioned wearing something white over their winter clothes and bringing a white t-shirt. The detail that got lost on me was that this was referring to two different events. So I bought a large white t-shirt and told my daughter to put it on for Lucia. Then we headed off to Kindergarten only to discover that everyone else was wearing white long dresses or robes over their winter dresses. Thankfully my daughter was only three so I don’t think this will leave a permanent mark on her. I was however very embarrassed and reminded that we are not from here. Thankfully we got beaten in embarrassment by another foreigner dad that had put a giant light headpiece on his son’s head. One that was even larger than what the Lucia girl was wearing.

So I promised myself to do it right this year! When we were reading a book we found a picture of an angel that was wearing a white dress with golden stripes. She said she wanted a dress like that for Lucia. So I set to work planning. I found a pattern in Ottobre that fit her measurements wearing her winter suit (158). I extended the sleeves and adjusted it a little. I bought some cheap fabric that I don’t know the English name of at Jysk (nervøs fløyel in Norwegian) and golden ribbons at Panduro. Voilà!

Lucia

Lucia

She seemed pretty happy with her dress after giving some feedback that she also wanted golden ribbons on the sleeves. So mom made some last minute adjustments and we headed off to the parade and even got couple of comments that it looked nice! I now feel I have set Lucia in balance again even if I still don’t have a clue what it is all about. Cannot even be bothered reading the Wikipedia page.

The pictures are very poor but as this isn’t exactly high quality work I will leave it at that for this time!

Happy Lucia girl

Happy Lucia girl

Size is relative

Size is relative I have learned. After I came home from the hospital with a tiny little boy I was convinced my daughter must have had a growth spurt. She seemed huge. I insisted that we needed to measure her length and I was surprised to find that she was only 1/2 cm taller than last time. As it turned out it was only in comparison to her little brother that she felt so huge.

It makes me sad in one way. She is no longer my little baby girl with tiny hands and feet. She is now a little determined girl and a big sister. An absolutely wonderful big sister, might I add. She has taken her little brother with open arms despite him eating into her time and our attention. She wants to cuddle and hold him all the time and is really patient and helpful. So proud as well and wants to show him off to everyone.

I might not be able to look at her as my baby any longer and her hand might no longer be a baby hand but I still love holding it when walking home from Kindergarten. It is really the sweetest, warmest feeling there is. I dread the day when she is too old to hold my hand.

Big sisters need clothes as well and I wanted to make her something useful this time so I made her a hoodie in pretty bold colors. Or I feel these are insanely bold colors. I am the person that only has black, grey, brown and white in my wardrobe. Colors really frighten me and picking out the orange cuffs and bias tape was a real agony but I like the end results. Kids clothes should be in happy colors. I bought the Znok jersey knit from Olivias (great store with fast shipping). The lining, zipper, and rib knit are from Sydilla. Pattern is Organic Star from Ottobre 1/2014. In hindsight I see that I should have done pattern matching on the hood but my brain wasn’t fully functional when I cut this and I probably didn’t have enough fabric either… That is my excuse at least!

This is model pose mom!

This is model pose mom!

My not so little girl modelled it for me. Not sure who taught her those poses but she was dead set on this being how you model.

Another pose

Another pose

Back

Back

The real rascal

The real rascal

Soft and easy to play in

Soft and easy to play in

Our little boy Jónatan was finally born 11th of November! 52 cm and 4 kg. Again I was overwhelmed with the same instant happiness and love that I experienced when I had Silja. It is a little bit different this time. Everything is more relaxed and yet I am panicking. I know this is my last one and I feel like I need to enjoy every moment and carve every detail of him and this time into my mind. Time is flying by and I can almost see him grow while nuzzling his adorable little baby feet and breathing in his baby scent.

When I had Silja, I had quite a few friends that didn’t have babies and I still remembered how annoying those parents that only talked about their babies were. I tried to be a bit careful not showing how completely taken I was with my baby. This time around most people around me have kids and I don’t really give a damn if I drive them and the rest insane! I am gonna enjoy every minute of this and talk as much about baby things as I want. Life is too short and harsh to not enjoy every single moment that brings you pleasure. The path to my two perfect children wasn’t easy and miracles should be celebrated!

I had lots of dreams during my pregnancy to sew up bunch of miniature baby clothes. Unfortunately, I was unable to. I simply couldn’t sit in front of the sewing machine more than few minutes at a time. I however set my mind to making at least one thing: the newcomer in the baby gadget world, a baby nest. I guess it was that nesting instinct that strikes you so hard during pregnancy. I really wanted to tidy, clean and shine every corner of my house. I was physically unable to do any of that so I spent the last of my energy making this little baby nest for Jónatan.

Anyways, this baby nest thing is new since I had Silja and it is really brilliant baby “technology”. A little nest that keeps my little boy cuddled up wherever he is lying. As swaddling is frowned upon in Norway this is the second best option to give him a little bit of womb feeling. He is easier to move around while lying in it and it feels safer to let him sleep in our bed in it. Easy to put him on the couch next to us and it gives him some protection from his active four year old big sister that cannot sit still for a minute. Its size can be adjusted so it will hopefully last for the first few months.

The pattern is from Stoff og Stil. Monkey fabric is from Joann and the other material is from Stoff og Stil.

Isn’t he adorable?

It is snowing and I am panicking. Will I be forced to wear socks the last four days of this pregnancy? It has been so warm this year that I am able to count on one hand how often I have had to wear them since beginning of June. Right now putting on socks is a major undertaking. Everything is really. I can’t even remember what being comfortable feels like. The closest thing I come to comfort is comfort food and in most cases that is an unattainable goal as I have problems standing while making dinner. Except for this one dish I am blogging about now. Delicious and brilliant comfort food. Quick and easy! What more can you ask for?

Being pregnant is hard for some of us and we look nothing like the happy glowing pregnant characters portrayed in literature and films. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful that I am pregnant but having to endure 8 months of pain has a tendency to get to you and dull out any glow and happiness you have in you.

What I suffer from is pelvic girdle pain (bekkenløsning in Norwegian). I had it during the second half of my last pregnancy as well but this time it started even before got a positive test and has gotten gradually worse. Technically, I never got rid of it since last time but I really only felt it if I jogged too far.

If I were to sum it up I would say it feels like walking with two sharp knives sticking into your groins. It feels like someone is using a jimmy to split your symphysis in two. You have something that feels like a severe toothache in your lower back when sitting. This pain gives you nausea that doesn’t go away until long after you have stopped sitting. One of the most excruciating pain is when you turn in bed. Something you have to do quite often as you hips stiffen up and start aching. The turn is heavy and you feel like you get ripped in two pieces while doing it. You soon stop turning in your sleep as you tend to wake up yourself (and your partner) when you scream out in pain. After that you start waking up every half hour or so to do a controlled turn. A little bit less painful but it means you don’t get any decent sleep.

The rest of your body reacts as well with locked up muscles. I had to have a physiotherapist loosen my jaw quite a few time because I have been biting my teeth to endure the pain. Then there are the times when you hips give in and you better be holding onto something or you might fall. Or the times when you simply cannot get up because something is locked and the pain overwhelms you. The pain exhausts you and don’t get me started on how horrible it feels like having to ask for help all the time.

For some people it helps to do light exercise in a warm swimming pool. Mine was so bad that it just got worse doing it. So I hobble around on crutches and try to survive each day. Want a challenge, try chasing a 4 year old on crutches…

My extra stylish crutches

My extra stylish crutches

Just to be clear, I am not writing this to get sympathy. I am writing this so that I will never forget it. While I am pretty sure I only want two kids I better be safe then sorry here :) . Maybe it also helps someone understand how bad it is. It is really impossible to understand it unless you have experienced it but it does help tremendously when people around you understand what you are going through.

Anyways, we were technically talking about comfort food. I found this dish on an Icelandic blog and even if the thought of all the calories in it gives me the creeps I can’t stop making it regularly. It is so delicious, so full of taste and yet so simple!

Hot dogs, mashed potatoes and salad

Hot dogs, mashed potatoes and salad


Creamy Hot Dog Stew

Adapted from

8-10 hot dogs (I usually use wieners)
1 package bacon (approx. 120 grams)
3 dl cream
1 dl crème fraiche
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
Black pepper

Cut the hots dogs into 1-2 cm pieces and chop up the bacon in similar pieces. Fry the hot dogs and bacon on a pan in a little bit of oil. Add the cream, crème fraiche, soy sauce, and sweet chili sauce and stir well. Let it simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until the sauce starts getting flavour from the bacon and the hot dogs. Season with black pepper according to your taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes and salat.

Easy as it gets

Easy as it gets

The Elsa dress

If I were I princess I would be the Princess and the Pea right now. Except I don’t really need a pea to feel all battered. Just existing takes care of that right now. I am 8 months pregnant and I am an absolute mess. I have problems walking, standing, sitting and lying (though lying is better than the rest). Yeah that doesn’t leave a lot of options for comfort. I am pretty sure no prince in their right mind would want me in this shape but then again I don’t really get it why the prince in that story would want someone that sensitive?

I really don’t get princess stories at all. What kind message is it sending when the stepmothers get away with letting their step daughters live in dirty rags and boss them around. Or send them to the forest to be killed? None of the dads seem to notice and react. Yeah those stories portray great father images for our daughters. The most disturbing story of all is probably Snow White. A prince that decides he wants to bring her corpse home with him because she is so beautiful. What the hell was his intention? Yuck! And she then marries that guy?

The stories we read are already the toned down versions and yet they are horrible. Thankfully the modern day princess fairy tales are getting a little bit better. Sadly one cannot say that the same applies to real life princesses. One of the Norwegian princesses uses her princess title to lure gullible people to shell out lots of cash for practices that one would assume were outdated in today’s educated society.

Elsa from Frozen

Elsa from Frozen

Dancing Elsa

Dancing Elsa

Anyways, despite my hate of princesses my life is heavily infiltrated by them. We have been watching a lot of Frozen this summer like most other parents with little girls. Not the worst fairy tale and I am eternally grateful that blue clothes are now approved and not just pink. I promised my daughter I would make her an Elsa dress at the beginning of summer and I did finally manage to finish it hours before her birthday. It took me all summer thanks to my exhausting pregnancy. It took me almost equally long to blog about it thanks to me not being able to sit in front of a computer for more than 10 minutes without me experiencing nausea from back pain. A mediumgeek’s worst nightmare.

Royal Highness Queen Elsa

Royal Highness Queen Elsa

I used the following tutorial to make the dress with some minor alterations. All the fabrics were from Joann. She wore it on her Frozen birthday and was a true little princess. It was worth all the pain that went into making it and I might even get to reap the benefit of it on Halloween.

The cape

The cape

Running to the mountains

Running to the mountains

Elsa

Elsa

Frozen

Ironically my daughters Frozen 4 year old birthday bash wouldn’t have happened without the help of my freezer. Not that I made a lot of frozen treats but rather that I started preparing couple of weeks in advance to be sure I could make it happen.

Frozen Birthday

I am 6 months pregnant right now and in terrible shape. As I have spent every single evening on the couch for what seems as long as I can remember things go slowly here. I however said I would throw a Frozen party and you don’t break promises like that! Even if it means you can barely walk afterwards. So I started few weeks in advance preparing and managed to pull it together in the end with lots of help from the dad.

The table

The table

The Frozen movie was an obvious choice for theme as it has been playing constantly all summer in our household! You can say a lot of things about those stick-to-your-brain songs but I must admit that it really isn’t the worst thing coming from Disney. I really want to thank them for making Elsa’s dress blue! Helps a little bit toning down the pink/blue gender stereotyping this generation has enforced on their kids. Now if they could just make a superhero with a pink cape, the world would be a better place!

No party without Olaf!

No party without Olaf!

So I made some snowflake cookies, Olaf cake, cupcake drizzled with snowflakes and snow-corn (popcorn). I also made a magical Elsa drink that supposedly gave you magic powers. Big hit with the little girls! It was our first full blown Kindergarten birthday so I was a bit nervous. Would I manage to keep track of all these little girls running around the house? Thankfully, all went well and none were lost! Think I might prepare some birthday hats for next year with inbuilt tracking devices to save me some agony.

A drink that gives you magical powers

A drink that gives you magical powers

My cake decorating skills are still pretty lame but I can see that I am getting a little bit better everytime. Posting things with flaws is all a part of my master plan of daring to do new things. Supposedly this will boost your confidence and help you learn new skills… or so some books say…

Snowflake Cookies

Snowflake Cookies

And my sweet little four year old in her Elsa dress! Will blog about that one soon. As my productivity on the sewing front is at an all time low, it better get its own entry!

The little "Elsa"

The little “Elsa”

I guess all parents have a truckload of photos from their children’s first year and then significantly less of their second year and onwards. That first year is special. You spend a lot of time looking down at them with the camera at easy reach. Then you get busy after going back to work. Your target start moving around (fast) and the camera is rarely anywhere close. If you can actually be bothered expending energy on getting the camera, 90% of the photos you take are bound to be blurry due to you target never staying still.

You cannot help but panic that you aren’t getting enough photos. Then again, you never have time to look at them… You no longer spend the time they are sleeping looking at photos of them with love struck eyes. You however realise that you need those photos for when they get old and move away from home.

I am a bit glad that I occasionally sew things because that means I at least attempt to take some additional photos of her wearing the garments I make. It gives an additional incentive to drag the camera around and you try harder to catch them at a Kodak moment (also know as standing still when it comes to children).

I made my daughter a quick last minute dress before I went on vacation. After not making much for the last few months I felt I had to make something. Luckily I picked a really easy pattern, which made this possible. Things were insanely busy right before vacation and I wasn’t feeling well but more on that later.

I picked the Lulu pattern by Craftiness is not Optional. Very straightforward pattern and yet quite versatile. The fit is perfect as well. I made a size four for her which is a bit on the larger side but that is not a problem. The fabric is a beautiful, soft Birch Organic Fabrics called Poppies Sun.

Fashionable in Boston

Fashionable in Boston

We have just spent a nice vacation in Gloucester, Massachusetts and at Hamarøy in North of Norway. Thanks to the fact I was trying to get some photos of the dress and that we usually take more photos during summer vacation we know have a lot of photos of her wearing this dress. I guess the dress will be a bit representative of this vacation. It almost feels like she was wearing it all the time judging by the photos. She seemed to really like it as well. It is very comfortable and allows her to get into all the trouble she wants. I also think it is really stylish in a simplistic way. I am 100% sure that I will use this pattern again!

Enjoying an ocean view

Enjoying an ocean view

In Rockport

In Rockport

Tree climbing

Tree climbing

In North of Norway

In North of Norway

Chasing Squirrel in Boston

Chasing Squirrel in Boston

I tend to get strange ideas that are not always so well thought through. Sometimes I actually go ahead with those ideas causing lots of chaos and stress.

When planning my fiancés 40th Birthday party I wondered why there were no nerdy RAM (computer parts) cookies to be found online. And why there were only few Commodore 64 cakes that had been posted. When I started making them, last minute I might add, I quickly understood why. It wasn’t quite as straightforward as I thought. I case anyone is wondering why anyone would attempt to make cakes in the shape of computers and computer parts, my boyfriend has always been into computers and hardware. I am a bit of a geek myself (also known as mediumgeek) so this computer theme felt quite natural for both of us.

After spending approx. a half hour on one practice RAM cookie I realized this wasn’t gonna happen. The kitchen was covered in dark royal icing and I even had couple of warrior stripes underneath my eyes. I tried few techniques before I gave up but got nowhere close. I had colored the cookie dough I made green, which was fine, but getting royal icing black enough required quite excessive amount of food coloring and it became difficult to work with. The little silver sugar balls I wanted to resemble the wiring under the chips was a pain to work with as the only way to make them look even was by placing them one by one with a tweezer onto the edges of the royal icing.

RAM Cookies

RAM Cookies

The Commodore cake went a bit better though I can’t really say that I am happy with it. It was a marzipan cake with a marzipan cover that was too thin so it came out all bubbly.

Commodore 64

Commodore 64

Oh well, I want to post photos of it anyway. I don’t think I will ever attempt this again even if I enjoyed trying it. I might as well document it.

So I might not have been that happy with them but my dear birthday kid seemed happy with it which was all what mattered. Despite becoming 40 in few days he is really still a kid at heart. On the day of his party I all of a sudden saw him out on the street on this skateboard! I can’t help to rub it in a bit though since I have few years left of my thirties. Hey, I am so young that I have never actually seen a Commodore 64 in real life.

Making sure you can type correctly

Making sure you can type correctly

So now I need to start planning the next birthday party. This time I swear I am not waiting until the last minute to get started. And I swear I will only make sensible plans…

The first to go when life get hectic is always hobbies. I thought for a while that I had absolutely nothing to write about as I have pretty much been in survival mode for the last few months. Everything has evolved around taking care of my kid, working, and simply surviving. Then I realized that one of my hobbies actually falls under surviving as well. Making food! How convenient is that. Now if only I could convince myself that cleaning or all the other stuff I tend to postphone was a hobby as well…

It seems that no matter how busy I am I always take time to make food. It might not always be the fanciest food but as every other thought I have revolves around food, I can rarely resist not at least trying something new once in a while or adding some extra touch to my food.

So Friday many weeks ago might only have been a quick taco dinner but after a co-worker mentioned pickled red onion at lunch I couldn’t resist giving it a try. It was a quick one and it turned out so tasty that I have made it quite a few times since then. Give it a try next time you make tacos.

pickled_red_onion

Pickled Red Onion

Adapted from Godt.no

1,5 dl water
1 dl sugar
0,5 dl vinegar ( I use brown 7% but I think any generic type will work)
1 sliced red onion

Bring water, sugar, and vinegar to boil. Leave it boiling just long enough for the sugar to melt. This is very quick. Now pour this in a bowl over your red onion and let it sit for approx. 30 minutes or while you prepare the rest of your Mexcian food. It is better if you let it sit a bit longer but not really necessary. It can sit in a closed jar for at least few days in the fridge if you want to use it later.

Pickled Red Onion really brings your tacos to another level of sophistication. It can be used as a side dish for burritos, chilli con carne or fajitas as well.

It starts as a hangover every morning. A hangover without you having enjoyed a fun night out the night before. It gradually gets worse. Ever been to the airport really early in the morning? Remember how your tummy ached and you felt severely dehydrated? That is exactly how I felt every single morning. After a while your muscles starts aching mildly. At some point you get to a point where you think, I have gotten used to this. You think I can do this. You start getting a bit delusional. Then your muscles start aching more. You can barely get up in the morning because you are stiff all over. It becomes painful to wear clothes and you start picking out the ones that don’t sit tightly. A tight waistband feels like some is strapping a belt as hard as they can around your waist.

Then you start having memory lapses. You are trying to pay for something and you cannot remember a single pin code for any of your credit cards. You end up in strange places when driving with no recollection of how you ended up there. Then things start happening that you don’t like to talk about. You are constantly sick, cannot get rid of the simplest cold and you look like shit. You can see that you are aging rapidly. At last your eyesight starts deteriorating and one morning you find yourself trying to get to work half blind.

This is how I experienced severe sleep deprivation.

Now I want to ask you a question. Have you ever felt bad when you say you sleep 8 hours at night? Have you ever said you have slept less than you actually did to seem a bit tougher? Because your friends and co-worker always state they have only slept 4-5 hours. Because they will look at you like you are weak when you complain having only gotten six hours. This is at least the case in the tech industry. It is generally seen as an act of toughness if you are able to function on little sleep and people talk about those people in awe.

What it really is just pure stupidity that needs to stop.

Thanks to this trend of trying to be tough by needing little sleep I didn’t really understand how bad things were until it was too late. I thought I was supposed to be able to cope with not sleeping. It all started when she was 7 months old and she started standing up. The next night she would have problems sleeping because she would instinctively get up when she woke up just a little. She has a lot of energy in her and when she got up she just wanted to stay up. Let me be clear here, we are not just talking about waking up 2-3 times a night to eat like babies do. We are talking about something a lot more extreme like every half hour on some nights or simply staying up for long periods at night. Pure torture!

It went on for a year and half. Then it got a bit better but she didn’t really start sleeping through most of the night until she was 3 years and 2 months.

It is difficult to state that I could have done things differently afterwards. We felt pretty helpless in the middle of this situation. There was really no help to get anywhere and no matter what sleeping trick we tried nothing worked.

We still don’t really know why she was such a bad sleeper. The conclusion is that she is just a restless kid. Added to that are some allergies, and then she was picking up a bit of my stress and sleeping less because of that.

In hindsight I know that I should have taken better care of myself. I shouldn’t have just kept going never getting anywhere near enough sleep. Just to be clear, I am not really writing this to get sympathy. I am hoping that someone reads this and realizes that bragging about how little they sleep is not smart. It is dangerous.

Here are few reasons backed up by science:
Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep makes you have the cognitive abilities of someone that is drunk. You just don’t realize it. Yeah, you really shouldn’t be driving when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Other studies have shown that chemical gathers in your brain that can cause long-term damage such as Alzheimer’s. Then there is weight gain. They have found that hormones that control your appetite don’t function as well when you are not getting enough sleep.

The latest study I came across shows that you can kill neurons in you brain by not getting enough sleep. I could go on and on but I will just point you to the Wikipedia article.

There really isn’t any good reason to sacrifice sleep. It is socially acceptable to use time on exercising to be healthy. Why isn’t it accepted that you make sure you get enough sleep as well?

These days I am quite religious about my sleep and try to make sure that I never sleep less than 7 hours. Yet, I still feel embarrassed admitting that I went to bed at 10 o’clock instead of answering work e-mails. I also feel quite bad every time I refuse to watch a movie or do something social because it will mean I wont get enough sleep. I am hoping I can reverse the effect of the damage I did. I just really hope my daughter doesn’t pay the price for her lack of sleep as a baby.

I am writing this in hope that at least few people read it and learn what I didn’t know before. Enough sleep is important. Make sure you get your 7-8 hours sleep and be proud that you do! Teach your kids that sleep is important. Point people that brag about getting little sleep to some of these studies. You might just be doing them a big favor.

On to something different. A while back I made two nightdresses for my daughter. Thought this was an excellent opportunity to finally show them off. Pattern from Ottobre and nothing fancy really. Just comfy nightgowns.

Sleeping?

Sleeping?

More fun to dance into the night

More fun to dance into the night

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