Pronounced BAH-CHEW-CHEE, it was a nickname my sister called her first-ever niece, Miss C-Jaz. According to urbandictionary.dom, this term is used to express "an absolutely wonderful bum". And that she is, myBachoochie, my little bum cheeks.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Miss C-Jaz Is Ready for Halloween in Sweden: a Butterfly and a "Risky Business" Playboy Playmate

"Wake up, BumCheeks."  Lying on my left side, I opened my eyes to a wide-eyed, sunlit, smiley face Miss C-Jaz staring at me.  I closed my eyes thinking that maybe she would let me sleep a little longer.

I felt little fingers stroking my right cheek (of my face).  "Wake up, BumCheeks," she said again with a giggle and a grin.  We broke out in laughter.

In our family of four (J, me, Miss C-Jaz, and Bo), we have many nicknames for each other.  One of Daddy's nicknames for Miss C-Jaz is 'Nana BumCheeks'.  When I ask her, "Who calls you 'Nana BumCheeks'?"  She always smiles and says, "Daddy."

It was definitely a bright and sunny day early in the morning when we woke up, which usually means that most of the day in Hammarby has the potential to be just as bright - not necessarily warm but sunny.  We had our usual morning of washing up and breakfast, then we headed out the door to walk to Sickla Galleria, but of course we didn't make it out as quickly as it sounds.

I think I found the quickest most direct route to Sickla Galleria with as minimal gravel routes as possible.  We had a really good day, and Miss C-Jaz stayed awake the whole time, though it meant that she would have a later nap.  We walked the mall, which was unusually busy with kids and parents because this week is Fall Break for the schools in Stockholm.  I guess it's like a Spring Break.  The whole education and school system here is a whole other story for another day.

The weather made for a really nice walk, and we even played a rhyming game on our walk, which was a first for Miss C-Jaz.  I'd give her a clue then she'd point to the object or name it aloud.

"I spy with my little eye something that is blue."  (A street sign.)
"I spy with my little eye the letter P." (A parking sign.)
"I spy with my little eye something that is green and purple."   (A store sign.)
"I spy with my little eye something that is orange."  (Leaves on the ground.)

Miss C-Jaz was really good at it.  Of course, I kept it simple enough giving her clues about what she knows well: colors, shapes, letters, and numbers.

On our Sickla adventure we had our treats for the day.  When we arrived at the gallerian, Miss C-Jaz and I had our Shake It! smoothie, then we had a chicken nugget Happy Meal that came with a book (so much better than a toy) before we left.  We went in and out of stores, walked out to Willy's, and we even found for Miss C-Jaz 2 cute outfits for Halloween at H&M: a pink blouse for her Guitar Hero 5: Playboy Playmates' "Risky Business" character and a fairy-like pink and white skirt of layered toule flower petals and glittery butterfly wings with a matching wand for her butterfly character.  I just have to make her a Guitar Hero 5 guitar.

It will be a quiet Halloween with family and friends far away, but it will still be a festive one.  We've been decorating our place and making crafts, and I've got a candy hunt planned for her.  I don't think Halloween is all that big of a deal here in Sweden, but I want her to be able to have some Halloween fun.  I was excited last night because I thought today was Halloween, but that's tomorrow.  Stay tuned for pictures.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cooking Swedish Food and Learning the Swedish Language

So, the Kryddiga Kycklingspett that I made last night was actually pretty good, or as Nana would say copying me, "Not bad.  Is not bad, Mommy."  I did, however, have "two Swedish fails" that wasn't so good.  One was a salad that had cabbage, pineapple, and parsley.  It sounds different, but the flavours worked well together, so it wasn't entirely all that bad.  I also tried making Raggmunkar, which looks better in the picture.  It's like a potato pancake to be eaten with lingonberries served along side a beef dish.  The Raggmunkar was actually really good with the Spicy Chicken.

Anyway, this morning we had our second Swedish class, and we got into pronunciation and the basics of the ABCs and 123s.  It was very interesting, and better than I expected this class to be.  It's a language still changing and adapting influenced by other languages such as French.  It has 3 extra letters, which are also vowels, and the 'W' is not officially part of the ABCs.  Some letters are pretty straightforward, but the letter 'H' is more like a grunt, which is pronounced like 'hooh'.  The numbers are also interesting.  Twenty is pronounced like saying 'shoe-go'.

Miss C-Jaz behaved very nicely during the class.  She didn't fall asleep like last week, but she played with her mini sticker book, whispering whenever she had a question, and she read her Swedish pop-up book, Är du trött Krokodil?, played a blowfish game on my iTouch, then had her milk near the end.

It was still cloudy today but less likely to rain so we ventured to Sture Gallerian for a little visit to Zara and my favorite bakery that I found during our May visit.  I bought the yummiest chocolate cookies and vanilla cookies.  They're crispy, thin, and sweet, but Miss C-Jaz doesn't like it as much as her Oreo Thincrisps (Thanks, Nang!). 

J had to stay at work, which makes Wednesdays harder because we have to leave him behind.  Whenever I tell Miss C-Jaz how much I miss Daddy or ask her where he is, she always says, "Don't worry, Mommy.  Daddy be home soon.  He at 'wok'."  I respond with an okay and a thank you, then she says, "Mommy, now say it to Nana."  So, I tell her what she tells me.  It's so cute.  Oh the things Miss C-Jaz says, even if sometimes what she says may sound mean.  Just after her nap today, we were cuddling for a bit under the covers pretending to be cold.  I was squeezing and hugging her, the she said, "Mommy, don't hug Nana."  So, I stop but then she says, "I 'yove' my Mommy!" with the biggest grin ever and a Tyra Bank smize.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A 7-Day Run-Down of Miss C-Jaz in Sweden

It was a 'misty moisty morning', and Miss C-Jaz and I trekked through it to get to ICA.  While I did not mind our little adventure, I also did not totally enjoy it either, especially when we lost Bo minutes from home.  He was lost, gone, out of sight for 2 minutes.  From a distance I saw that little elephant with big ears and his yellow hat lying on the ground picked up by a little Swedish girl on a walk with her grandma.  I panicked a little, wondering if they'd take it or leave it by the side of the road like I had seen many times for little mittens or toques.  I had to pick up my pace from speed walking to a jog.  The only reason why Bo fell out of Miss C-Jaz's grasp is because I had put on her little mittens to keep her hands warm, and I suppose she thought she still had him.  I was finally able to breathe when I watched the grandma sit Bo down on the damp grass by the pathway.  The entire time I couldn't even think about what I would do if Bo was gone.  What would Miss C-Jaz do?  There's no Disney store here in Sweden! 

We had a home day, Miss C-Jaz and I, and I attempted to make Sinigang, a.k.a. Tamarind Soup.  This wasn't the first time I made it, but it had been awhile.  I used spareribs rather than salmon, which is my favorite, and I must say that it was 'mmm mmm good'.  I didn't make a lot, but we did finish it.

J and I searched and searched and searched for new winter coats at Nacka Forum, and with Miss C-Jaz napping, we struck gold.   Both of us found exactly what we were looking for at stores that we would never have gone into back home even though the selections are probably very different between Sweden and Vancouver.  J found his coat from Esprit de Corp., and I found my A-line pea-coat
with over-sized collar/hood at Zara.  Is it possible to be ecstatic about a coat?  I love it!

We found Miss C-Jaz a Swedish pop-up book that her and I had seen at the local Bibliotek, Molly Bakar, and it's the cutest!  She loves pulling the flaps making Molly move: washing hands and sifting icing sugar.  Last week we got her Är du trött Krokodil?, which is just as charming.

We had a great lazy day of playing and snacking and cuddling.  For breakfast I made Aunt Jemima pancakes that we had with Canadian maple syrup, then at dinner we broiled steaks that we had with potato gratin.  Soooo good!

It was a cloudy day in Hammarby, but Miss C-Jaz and I went for a walk and ended up Toy store hopping.  There was nothing to buy, but she had so much fun seeing and touching all kinds of toys.  "Mommy, 'yook'!  Wow nice.  So 'piiiity'!"

One of her favorite toy stores has a little set-up of a wooden store that has a little canopy.  It has wooden food and products like ice cream on cones, bananas, watermelons, ketchup, and lollipops.  It even has a cash register.  The wooden store set-up runs for about 2500.00 SEK.  Pricey but very unique.

Today's been a usual day.  We've just gone back an hour for daylight savings so it's darker till late in the morning and starts earlier in the evening.  It's also been pretty cloudy so there's not too much light during the day, and today was one of these days.  We went for a walk to the COOP, and she pushed her cart as usual.  I needed to buy ingredients to make Kryddiga Kycklingspett, a.k.a. Spicy Chicken Skewers.  We shall see what it tastes like later, but the marinade for it looked interesting and smells good.

On our walk home I tried avoiding Miss C-Jaz's toy store that has the wooden store set-up, but even though she didn't see it she was adamant about going to a toy store.  We backtracked and I took her to the toy store, otherwise we would've never made it home.

The best thing today was how Miss C-Jaz almost recited her ABCs 'byself'.  I was straightening my hair in the washroom, and I heard her singing from the bed just outside the door.


She tried it again then stopped after D and asked, "Mommy, what's that sound again?"

Should be soon enough until she gets it all.  A few more times singing with Molly from The Big Comfy Couch, and I should be able to capture her on video. ;)

Tomorrow is our second Swedish class.  I've got a little homework to do, but translating Swedish recipes has been helpful, for cooking anyway.  Here's a few words I've been running into.

ugn = oven
eller = or
tsk = tsp
msk = tbsp
paprikapulver = paprika
honung = honey
kajennpeppar = cayenne pepper

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'UNkid-Friendly Adventures' Made Kid-Friendly: Vasamuseet and Sweden's Transit in Rush-Hour

It's been a week since I've been able to write, and I really can't put a finger as to why.

We've been busy with a few new adventures and neither have been kid-friendly, but we made it work.  In the end, Miss C-Jaz had a great time.  Parents are supposed to take the short end of the stick and absorb the sacrifices for their children, right?

Saturday was a family day with J's work.  The goal was to visit Skansen and see the Nordic animals at the zoo, which would have been great, but the day started cloudy and never let the sun come out.  Instead, we detoured to the Vasamuseet, and as we walked about 10 minutes after lunch to the museum the dreary day brought more rain, which was not fun to walk in.  This tells me I probably need a wardrobe update: rain coat with a hood and a pair of awesome rainboots.  I've never walked so much to get from one place to another as I have in Sweden than in my twenty-nine years at home in Canada.  I suppose dressing weather-appropriate would make a walk in the rain much more pleasant.

Miss C-Jaz had a great time walking in the rain.  She had her runners on and was bundled up in her toque and comfy Nautica coat.  I struggled with trying to get her to sit in her stroller, which she absolutely did not want to do, so we walked, but her tiny steps made for a slower walk in the rain that did not want to let up.  And yes, Mita, she was warm enough and covered from head-to-toe: Juliet tights under her jeans, layers of shirts, mittens, toque, and hood.

We finally reached the Vasamuseet, which houses the Vasa ship, 'the world's only surviving 17th-century ship'.  It set sail in 1628 built as a warship with 64 guns and 300 soldiers.  It literally sank minutes after leaving the dock with one of the causes being the weight of 24-pound guns concentrated on the upper gundeck - "Swedish engineering" as J would say or thumbs up with a bent thumb.  The ship sunk in its entirety and was not brought to surface until 1961, 333 years after sinking.

It was amazing to see a warship from the 1600's, and its history was both intriguing and dumbfounding, but it is definitely not a place for infants, toddlers, and young children who are unable to comprehend such an artifact.  There's lots of space in the museum, if it's not too busy, and while there are elevators, there are also several floors and areas not easily accessible for strollers. 

Miss C-Jaz, nonetheless, had a great time playing and running in the museum as she followed around her new friends, 4 and a half-year old Juliana* and 3-year old Liam*.  Miss C-Jaz did not listen to me one bit if it had anything to do with being away from her new-found friends, and I tried endlessly to get her to stop running around and climbing on things.  Call me uptight, but running around in public and climbing on things, especially in a museum, was something I did not want Miss C-Jaz to do.  Regardless, she had fun with Juliana who was gentle and kind with Miss C-Jaz, holding her hand and taking her around, even though she couldn't speak much English.  Miss C-Jaz wasn't loud or obnoxious by any means, but I couldn't stop her so all I could do was anticipate where she could get hurt so that at least I could help her around while trying to seem nonchalant and not over-bearing.

I wasn't sure how I was going to get Miss C-Jaz to cooperate with me when it was time to leave but since her friends had to get ready to go, she understood that she had to say bye, which meant she too had to get in her stroller to go.  On her own accord, Miss C-Jaz made a point to say goodbye to Juliana and Liam one-by-one, and we said 'Thank you' and 'See you soon'.  As we left the museet the rain had stopped, and it was a nice walk by the water in Ostermalm.  Miss C-Jaz was comfy cozy and within minutes was asleep.  It wasn't the most kid-friendly day, but we made it work, just like this morning's little adventure.

It's Wednesday, and we had our first Swedish class at J's work, which is 2 trains from home and a few short walks, but traveling first thing in the morning through 'rush-hour' on the train with a toddler and stroller can be a little work out.  Miss C-Jaz was bundled as always, which makes her heavier.  Our Zooper umbrella stroller is definitely more compact than our Peg Perego Uno stroller back in Canada, so it was easy enough to fold and carry around for J while I carried Miss C-Jaz.  As parents we do what we have to do and endure things that we may not always want to.  I know I'm exaggerating, but at one point I felt like my arms were going to fall off from carrying her, but a seat opened up and we were able to sit.  It wasn't ideal, but it wasn't too difficult either.  Transit in Sweden with a toddler during rush-hour was definitely more manageable with one of us carrying the stroller and the other carrying the toddler.  It's also more considerate for passengers who are most likely traveling to work.

After our mini-adventure, we arrived downtown at J's work, and during our first class in a meeting room called Marzipan, Miss C-Jaz fell asleep.  Poor thing - I woke her up at 07:20, much earlier than her 09:30 wake-up time.  It wasn't the most kid-friendly morning, but we made it work.  I suppose that's what parenting is all about, whether it's in Sweden or Canada or anywhere else in the world.  Miss C-Jaz may never remember these adventures, but there's nothing we wouldn't do for her.

* names changed

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Like Daddy Like Daughter: Strong Gagging Reflex

Miss C-Jaz is still in diapers.  She's 28 months.  Some may say it's ok, keep working on it with her.  Others may say you should've worked on it much earlier.

She's head strong.  I've said it before, but she knows what she wants, and when her mind is set there is no convincing her otherwise.  Trying to trick her or finding ways to convince her about anything is not as easy as it once was, which feels like only last week.

Miss C-Jaz knows what diapers do for her.  She knows what the potty is and what its purpose is.  She's interested in it but still holds back.

My current 'bargaining chip' for her, if you will, is that whenever I change her poopy diaper, she gags, and gags, and gags.  For a while her gagging wasn't that bad.  She covers her nose then gags a few times, but in the last week, she's gagged once so much that she puked a bit.  I try to get her cleaned up as fast as possible and tell her she's ok.  It helps a little.

I remind Miss C-Jaz as often as I can that if she poops in the potty then she won't have to smell it as much, and maybe she won't gag either.   She has a strong sense of smell like her Daddy, always asking, "What smell?  What dat smell?"

Miss C-Jaz gets the whole potty thing.  I suppose I could try a method that I've heard a few friends say work.  I'm just not sure I could manage diapers and/or no bottoms for a few days or a week during the day so that the potty-trainee would feel leakage and know that would mean going to the potty.  

I've tried what I call 'coincidental' training, which is taking her to the 'wa-hoom' first thing in the morning then every 2 or 3 hours, but she was always non-compliant to take off her diaper and sit on the potty.

Back at home in Canada we had the Summer Infant Step-by-Step Potty Trainer and Step Stool, and she sat on it when I did.  She knew how to wipe her bum but never intentionally did her business in it.  She accidentally pooped in it once, but when she stood up suddenly, because the poop was stuck to her bum, it fell to the floor.

I suppose for now I must continue to persevere and be patient and perhaps ponder 'bare-bottoms' potty training.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Miss C-Jaz From Moody to Nice Part 2: Moderation and 'Ba-yence'

Have you ever tried to hold in laughter so that you don't wake someone near you?  As I started writing this blog earlier I was trying to hold in my laughter watching the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory while Miss C-Jaz was napping.  It left a song running through my mind the entire day, even until now as I try to finish writing...Survivor - Eye of the Tiger.  Listen to it.  I dare you to get it stuck in your head.

I wished Miss C-Jaz a restful sleep this afternoon in hopes of an improved attitude from Miss C-Jaz.  Yesterday was the hardest day that I've had with her in a long long time.  When she woke from yesterday's nap with a smile, a "Hi, Mommy!", and a couple of silly farts, I thought the rest of the day would be fine.  I was wrong.  It continued: whining, mood swings, crying, clinging - "Mommy, pick up me!", 'uncooperativeness'.  At least by dinnertime she was a little bit back to her bubbly pleasant self.

This morning was better than yesterday but still with a little bit of whining and clinging, not so much the crying and mood swings.  After some pondering, I think her unlikely behaviors could be contributed to her 'obsession' with the 'yittle girl' from 'Monsta Inc.'  She watches it often on her SONY 'DVDV Paya' (the best, most used electronic device I've ever purchased at a great deal).
Over the past few days, since we've had to stay home, Miss C-Jaz watches Monsters Inc. in the morning as background noise, and she usually watches it again in the evening then maybe several more times in between.  It makes her laugh.  She asks questions about the plot.  She recalls what she knows.  She giggles.  We talk about colors.  She points out characters.  She restates phrases she hears or actions she sees.  It's cute, but while she copies Sully and the little girl putting his and her finger up to the their lips in a 'shushing' motion, I think she was copying the little girl's sounds of crying and whining, which were by no means words.
I also think that maybe, and it's a big maybe, Miss C-Jaz was re-enacting herself as a baby from watching 'Nana Movie', the 'bestest' most memorable video documenting 'Love Without A Limit' - J and I "meeting at the altar in my white dress" - and documenting Miss C-Jaz's birth and first year for her First Birthday.  Thanks, Ninang 'Yanta'!  Miss C-Jaz loves seeing everybody and naming them, but sometimes while watching, if she's moody, she gets mad and cries when she sees other people carrying her.  It's odd to watch, but still cute. 

We've been home for the past few days, mainly because Miss C-Jaz was sick, then I didn't want to take her out until she was completely better, so I hoped after her nap we would go out for a walk, and we did regrettably.  I knew it was icy cold outside, but the breeze cut into my bare skin like what knives might have been like, and it was just insane - good thing Miss C-Jaz was all bundled up.  Maybe over the past few days being at home, Miss C-Jaz's been tuned-in to Monsters Inc. a little too much, so starting last night I did what I could to distract her from watching 'Monsta Inc'.  When we were back home in Canada, she loved shows like Word World and The Big Comfy Couch.  Last night we watched her Word World DVD, and this morning I had on YouTube episodes of The Big Comfy Couch.  It's early to tell, but she has been less whiny this morning.  We shall see.

I've been scanning an article about How TV Affects Your Child (for kids young and old) on, and there's an overload of details and suggestions that sound useful.  I know that although Miss C-Jaz moderately watched  TV in her first couple of years, it did not get "in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting" with myself, J, or others.  We're aware and active on ways to help her learn and develop physically and socially and as healthy as possible.

According to the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics made in the article from, "those older than 2 (should) watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming".  Miss C-Jaz is older than 2 now, and her usual routine includes different activites: books, games, puzzles, blocks, walking, playing, lots of talking - it's a good mix.  In the end, she watches about 2 hours a day of quality programming, and sometimes more, but like with anything that can have advantages and disadvantages, it's all about moderation.

Overall, Miss C-Jaz had a good day, and she only watched 'Monsta Inc' twice and not even in it's entirety.  The disk is actually starting to skip now, which is not a good thing in a country where their DVDs cannot be played by Miss C-Jaz's 'DVDV Paya', but I do know which scenes have less baby talk but show enough of the 'yittle girl'.  We made some progress today.  We shall continue with the moderation of Monster's Inc. and "Nana Movie" (as I do not want that to skip).  Moderation is the key, or in Miss C-Jaz's expression..."ba-yence" (balance).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miss C-Jaz From Moody to Nice: Speech and Language Development

Whining.  Mood swings.  Crying.  Clinging - "Mommy, pick up me!"  'Uncooperativeness'.

Miss C-Jaz's 'off' behavior all morning could not be helped with routines, limited choices, limits, tantrums, safe environments, and time-outs.  Nothing changed.  Not much was different though it didn't help that she was startled by the loud drilling she heard in the apartment next door.  The sound didn't last, and I turned on her favorite song, Kiss the Girl by Ashley Tisdale, to cover up the sound, but the first time Miss C-Jaz heard the drill she ran-jumped onto me, her voice shook and she cried.  It was cute and funny, but I felt bad for her.  I remember feelings like that.

The only thing I could think of that contributed to a rough morning was her off night of crying.  Crying because she thought I was asking her to say sorry about something.  It took awhile before she let herself fall asleep so that I could put her down without more crying.  I guess some things are just hard to understand when it comes to toddlers who can have difficulties expressing themselves though Miss C-Jaz can express herself very well.

Each person from birth to adulthood develop differently, and early child development have important milestones that can be identified.  Growth and development, especially for children, are specific to each individual.  An article I was reading on by Cathie Sondergaard on Speech and Language Development in Infants and Young Children describes milestones from birth to 5 years.  It has interesting examples that I've done unconsciously to help build Miss C-Jaz's speech and language development since birth. 

At 24 months, children may be speaking in two- and three-word phrases.  For Miss C-Jaz, according to the article, she's actually exhibiting milestones at the 3 year old mark.  She's talking in 5-word sentences or more.  She asks lots of questions, and her speaking is fairly clear.  She may say things like 'hangaber' for hamburger or leave out certain letters in words like 'peety' for pretty', but a good listener can understand her.  She definitely understands a lot of what adults say to her though she might not respond right away because of shyness.  She can also point, label, and describe pictures of people and things that she knows whether in books or out in public.

This is actually reassuring to know that what I do with Miss C-Jaz and how we do things with her is helping her grow as she needs.  Thankfully, she's napping as I write, and hopefully she gets a good rest so that the afternoon and evening are less like this morning and more of how our days are usually like: fun, pleasant, productive, outgoing, silly....  Maybe I can catch a zzz or two after last night's restlessness.  (Nevermind...she just woke with a, "Hi, Mommy!"  Not to mention a couple of her farts that she laughed at.)

Resources for "Speech and Language Development":
Language Development CHART: 6 months to 8 years
Speech and Langauge Development Milestones: Q&A and Interactive Checklists (Birth to 5 years)
Dalyed Speech or Language Development SCENARIO

Monday, October 12, 2009

RANDOM ~ Miss C-Jaz: chopsticks and shoes

Today is Thanksgiving holiday in Canada, and though we're 2 plane rides away from home, we still celebrated Thanksgiving in Sweden.  I missed my writing time today during Miss C-Jaz's nap time - she was still a bit under the weather and anytime I moved away from her she'd start to wake.  If she goes to bed without fail tonight, then I shall share our Canadian Thanksgiving feast that we celebrated in Sweden.

For now, two Miss C-Jaz randoms to be remembered...

She has these cute Nike water slippers that we use as house slippers because the rubber non-mark soles give her good grip while running and jumping.  For the first time ever, she put on her shoes by herself including the velcro closures, and she put each shoe on the correct foot!!!

Just a few moments ago, we started eating noodles with peas and carrots.  I gave her chopsticks and a fork.  (I used her chopsticks that had green training 'wheels' because she didn't want to use it.)  Apparently, she really didn't need it.  She used chopsticks by herself, and she even picked up a pea!!!



Saturday, October 10, 2009

RANDOM ~ Miss C-Jaz's First Pretend Phone Conversation

I made a great breakfast this morning, not so much healthy, but a big breakfast like Mita or Ganma made back home: fried eggs with crisp edges, baked bacon, and hot steamed rice.   It's a beautiful Saturday morning, and we'll be out in the afternoon, but after breakfast we went up into the loft to lounge as Miss C-Jaz's nap time would soon be approaching, and Daddy's too.  J and I were hiding under the blankets as Miss C-Jaz was playing and pretending with my phone: texting Ganma, Mita, and Wowo.  If only I had my camera, she pinned the phone between her left shoulder and ear and began her usual conversation that used to only last 5 seconds, but this one was longer and cuter.

"Hi!  My name Nana.


Oh!  I see.

This Monday.

Oh, yah.  (Laughs).  Oh!  I see.

See you soon.


When we asked her who she was talking to she said Nang, and that Nang says Hi.

This one is for you Ate Ninang ;)  Miss You!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Limited Choices for Miss C-Jaz to "Eeny Miny Mo": Building Decision-Making Skills, Good Manners, and Social Graces through Listening

"She has a fairly regular ROUTINE so she knows what to expect each day.  I give her LIMITED CHOICES to help her practice making decisions." - from 'Terrible Twos'

Miss C-Jaz's routine continues to be consistent.  We get up around 08:00.  She has one nap usually after lunch.  We try to enjoy a few hours out when there's sunshine.  We do our daily chores, play games, read books, watch movies, 'Monsta Inc' in repetition to be specific.  By the end of the day, she's in bed by 21:00, ideally.  In a few weeks, though, some mornings will change as we attempt Swedish classes at J's work a couple of times a week at 09:00.  That should be interesting.  I've been working on a few phrases using my Swedish CD, but the intonations of the language are what makes it challenging.  It'll be another language to have...collect 'em all.  English is my first language, but I was exposed to Tagalog at home and French at school, which I teach the basics of at work.

With routines regular, Miss C-Jaz's day can go like clockwork.  It's in the opportunities I give her to practice making her own decisions through LIMITED CHOICES that can be challenging.  She's currently in the whining phase, but thankfully it only surfaces when she's cranky for food or a nap which is easily rectifiable.

I usually give her two choices, and if I'm bold, maybe three or four.

1. Which diaper do you want to wear?
She chooses between the dog, cat, koala, giraffe, and monkey pictures.  She avoids the caterpillar and individual children.  I have to get sneaky and make a switch to use her least favorite diapers mid-change, so that I don't use up the one or two diapers with the dog picture. 

2.  What do you want to wear today?
I choose 2 outfits, and she usually looks forward to "Eeny Miny Mo" it.  It's hilarious to watch. 

3. What do you want to eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal or toast?  Cereal or toast?  Then, we follow with fruit and/or juice, maybe a Shake-a-Shake-a-Shake-a-Mango.

4. If she inserts herself into preparing lunch or dinner, I find ways for her to help that keeps her safe.  If we boil pasta, she's far from the stove top, and I give her a bowl and a handful of fresh pasta, usually linguine-like, so that she can pull it apart into smaller pieces.   If we're going to have string beans, I'd show her how to break the ends off, and when that was too difficult I had her break it into halves.  If we were preparing salads she'd tear the romaine lettuce or I'd get her to put the cut cucumbers into the bowl (after she takes a bite out of the centers).

5. What pajamas do you want to wear?
This can be tricky because she often can't make up her mind.  There are some patterns she just doesn't like, but if I can get excited about it then sometimes that's the deal-breaker for her.

This stage in Miss C-Jaz's life is about trying to convince her to do or choose something, and it's about trying to make compromises with her.  I stay away from bribes and using food as reinforcement.   I've always talked to her with as little baby talk as possible but with plenty of hugs and kisses.  I give her verbal reinforcement to praise her actions.  When necessary I use a firm voice and a stern look to try and negate unacceptable comments or actions.  I avoid taking things away from her as a disciplinary tool.  Lately, if she throws things on the floor, I remind her that's not what we do to take care of the things we have.  This hits home for her especially if she's thrown down Bo or her bottle.  She's usually pretty receptive.  The important thing is deciphering between tired behavior and acting out.  Kimberly L. Keith listed 8 easy steps on How To Listen To Your Child.  I believe this is the key to avoiding power struggles and whining.  Practice and patience ;)

With Miss C-Jaz, and especially with my students in the classroom, I'm big on manners - please, thank you, excuse me - and etiquette - covering the mouth when coughing, blocking the nose when sneezing, not yelling or running around in public areas like restaurants.  There's a lot of social skills that people forget have to be taught and learned.  It can be tedious but it's important to J and I, and we try to stay consistent with Miss C-Jaz.  One article by Robin McClure has a few tips that can be useful to help you get started or just to reinforce what you may be doing already to build good manners and social graces.  Good luck and be willing! 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Open Preschools near Hammarby Sjostad are Few and Far Between

I've researched and researched online for "international dagis" (kindergarten), then realized I should be looking for "open preschool" where I can go anytime during specified hours with Miss C-Jaz so she can socialize with other kids.  The key thing is that I get to be there with her.  Ideally, I was hoping for a place where Miss C-Jaz could interact with both English and Swedish speaking children.  She's just over 2 now, and I've felt as though she needs to be around other kids, but maybe I'm worrying too much.  She doesn't have any problems socializing, in fact, as soon as she's comfortable with anyone new, she talks non-stop.  At first, she might sit very quietly and completely still with her hands on her lap, but if she likes you, like "Andoo" a.k.a. "Daddy's Friend", she's playing and pinching and laughing and talking.  It's important to remember that if you do get on her good graces, pay attention if she's talking to you.  Otherwise, you'll hear her sigh saying, "Ay nako po!"  (Tagalog for a phrase like, "Oh my goodness.")

On our adventures today we found the closest open preschool I could find online, just over Hammarby Lake via the free boat ride.  From a distance it was nice and open.  Unfortunately, up close, it was more like a zoo with kids everywhere in chaos though there were supervising adults and smaller groups off on their own.  It was supposed to be for kids between a few months to 6 years of age, but it seemed like mostly older kids.  There were 2 reddish buildings like in the photo, and looking in through the windows it seemed un-kept.  It wasn't what I was hoping for, but if we start our Swedish classes downtown then I hope to take Miss C-Jaz to the open preschool in Segels Torg (photo from Hellbom's Weblog).  This is where we were for the Outdoor Food Market of International Flavours.

Miss C-Jaz may not have been able to play with other kids today, as she was also asleep, but we enjoyed the weather and walking around.  From our boat ride across Hammarby Lake to walking by the water, we enjoyed the amazing sunshine, which by no means emits heat.  We're lucky and blessed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No Terrible Twos Here...Just Terribly Wonderful Phrases From My Two-Year Old!

This morning is one for the memory book after a night of interrupted sleep reminiscent of Miss C-Jaz in year one...feedings throughout the middle of the night.  I don't know why she was restless.  Maybe she had a bad dream and needed comfort or her nose had a stubborn booger in it so she couldn't breath easily.

I didn't realize it was 09:45.  Miss C-Jaz was waking as i was trying to go back to sleep amidst the construction right outside the patio door.  The loft was brightly lit from the morning sunshine, but she was wide awake and a happy kind of awake.

"It's sunny, Mommy.  Sunshine!"

"Yah, babe."  (Go back to sleep i thought to myself.)

"I farted."  I laughed inside. "Mommy, say 'ewww'."


"Mommy, I farted again."  I gave her no response; this wasn't anything new.  Usually I laugh then ask her if it smells, and I remind her to say, 'excuse me'.  "Say, 'ewww', Mommy."


Then, she got distracted as always, but the next few moments are moments I will never forget.

"Mommy...I love my Mommy (and here comes the clencher) SOOO MUCH!"

I was awake.  "I love my Nana sooo much too!"

"I love Daddy...SOOO MUCH!"

"Ohhh.  I love Daddy sooo much too!"

"I love Bo...SOOOO MUCH!

"I love Bo sooo much too!"  That was the bestest...ever!  But those rays of sunshine didn't end there.  There were a couple more moments that were just as interesting. 

After we got out of bed, Miss C-Jaz and I were in the 'wahoom'.  She was washing her face with her face towel and I was straightening my hair; then, she said, "Mommy, I want to poo poo in the potty."  I was so excited for her - this could be it.  I sat her on the Dora the Explorer Folding Potty Seat that rests on our toilet seat (as the little potty systems are like toys to Miss C-Jaz) and she sat there, talking.  "Mommy, I farted again."

"Good, now poo poo."

Well, after several minutes, nothing happened, but she tried, and I praised her for that, encouraged her for next time.  She'll be ready soon, and I think for Miss C-Jaz, as stubborn as she can be and knowing exactly what she wants to do, it will happen on her time, soon.

As we finished getting ready for our day, I was putting Miss C-Jaz's jeans on her, and as she stood on the bed at eye level she said again, "I love my Mommy SOOO MUCH!"  She touched my cheeks with her hands, and she said, "My Mommy is 'key-oot'."  She kissed me.  My heart melted.  How do you argue with that?  Then, I got a hug.

What a great morning!  Now, only if it was the weekend and we had Daddy home...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Mini-Adventure on the Hammarby Sjostad Ferry

Miss C-Jaz and I had our muffin this morning and I had my hasselnot latte - not pronounced hazelnut but 'hassel-noot' - at our waterside Cafe Spoon Nautica.  Since we've been here I've always noticed the Hammarby Sjostad boat that goes back and forth between Hammarby Sjostad and Sodermalm.  Watching the boat today I figured it goes back and forth every 15 minutes or so.  Miss C-Jaz agreed with me that we should venture across the water, and she loved it.  She wanted to just sit on the boat and go back and forth.

As we stepped off in Sodermalm, I realized I was just across the canal from Texas Longhorn, the
'restaurang' where I had my 'Ladies' Steak our first night in Sweden.

We didn't spend too long on the other side at Sodermalm as it was getting close to her nap-time, and we still needed to stop by the COOP.  We found a park area that was nice and open, Barnangsparken.  We walked by lots of ships, but the ground was cobblestone which made for a little bit of a bumpy stroller ride.

Miss C-Jaz was eager to get back on her ferry, so we hopped on, and as we headed for the COOP before home, she fell asleep as per her nap-time schedule.  With my curiosity of the Hammarby Sjostad boat ride satisfied, time to address the next on  my list - finding International 'Dagis' (play/preschool) close by.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Miss C-Jaz's First (Food) Discovery/Creation

I'm back and ready to write after last week's blockage: Miss C-Jaz was sick, then J and I got sick (still recovering), then I got 'Batman Syndrome' that was the most painful ever - maybe it was a pinched nerve.

This past weekend was another simple and great 'Home-Bound Weekend', especially with J home on Friday though it was because he was sick. I even cooked and J might just admit that it was 'mmm-mmm good': fried eggs with baked lamb sausages and piping hot rice, Aunt Jemima pancakes with syrup, (great sushi lunch from Tezukuri Sushi), baked wild salmon topped with light mayo and onion soup mix served with rice, and though not from scratch, last night's dinner was Swedish meatballs in mushroom soup sauce, baked potato gratin, and steamed rice.

It was a fun weekend filled with Miss C-Jaz's antics and discoveries. Sometimes she's my little shadow and sometimes she's a little copycat. Saturday we awoke from a family nap to her holding up her right hand telling us, "Don't move guys. I gonna get some-ting. Don't move okay? I be back." We're usually telling her the same thing when we want her to sit still on the couch or the bed or the kitchen table if we need to get something.

Miss C-Jaz always blows us away, especially with her phrases and actions that shows us what she learns or picks up from observations. For some time now she would point to things and to people asking, "Wha deese? Wha deese?" In other words, what's this? In trying to teach her how to use 'what' and 'who', I'd point to an object that she could name and ask her, "What's this?" Then, I'd point to her or myself and ask, "Who's this?" I guess after a few teachable moments, she just got it. She pointed to her Bo and asked me, "Mommy, who deese?" Then, she pointed to her book and asked, "Wha deese?" Then, she pointed to herself and asked, "Who deese?" It was so cute and so unbelievable, but not as amazing and amusing as her first food creation.

There's no avoiding Miss C-Jaz's love for 'Ka', a.k.a milk.   She also loves ice cream and sugar or waffle cones.  I recently found Swedish wafers at the COOP, which is great with jams or other toppings.  Yesterday, we were all snacking on wafers.  Miss C-Jaz had her Ka in one hand and a wafer in another.  While J ate his wafer he looked at me and said in code how the wafers would taste good with ice cream.  Just then, we looked over at Miss C-Jaz who took a bite of her wafer, looked at her milk, then took a sip.  Her eyes lit up, then she realized we were watching her and were quietly laughing.  She smiled, then turned around and continued to combine her wafer and milk.  I was only able to catch the end of her little experiment.  (The rule with her and a camera is that you only get the first chance to take her picture or record a video clip.)