Saturday, July 12, 2014

Parental Leave - three week update!

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

These have been the fastest three weeks of my life.  It seems like only yesterday that I was saying “hej då!” to work and it’s already been almost a month!  So to make sure that I don’t end up on January 4th looking back at a blur of time, I wanted to jot down a few top  lists from the time so far.

  • Favorite Moments –
    • Walking in the Forest:  At the end of a rainy, nap-filled day, Calvin had a full battery after dinner.  We decided that it would be a good idea for me to take him out to the forest right behind our house for a quick walk.  It might have actually been the best idea we ever had.  He was so fired up, he talked a mile a minute for half an hour straight.  I was DYING.  It was so much fun to see how much of a little boy he is now, and I was able to piece together about 10 minutes of video from the walk too. 

    • Don’t wake the trolls!:  The four of us went for a fun walk through the big forest one day.  We made sure to stop and have calvin check for trolls under every bridge we found.  On one, he found a troll, but luckily it was asleep.  For fun when I walked over the bridge my last step was LOUD.  Loud enough to wake the troll!  Hours later after bath time, he grabs my face with both of his hands, stares deep into my eyes and says “ DADDY – do NOT do that again.  DO NOT wake up the trolls!!”. 

    • Seeing Lucy crawl for the first time:  Lucy and I have had a lot of fun over the last few weeks.  She loves playing a game where she just hands you stuff, then you give it back and the cycle repeats.  We’ve played this for hours, in addition to reading tons of books, building blocks and eating grass (tastier than you would think).  But the best part is that she has been teasing us with crawling for SO LONG.  One week BEFORE my leave started, Lis said it was a shame that I would  likely miss her first crawl because it would be happening any day.  THREE WEEKS after that we were still waiting.  She would get really, really close to doing it but then change her mind at the last minute.  It was only because we were both around her constantly that eventually we were both able to see her crawl for the first time in person.  Now we wait a few months and then start the 1st step countdown. 

    • Car Show – Lisa found out about an American Car show in the newspaper a few weeks before it happened.  Plopped it up on the fridge and Calvin stared at it every day.  When we were there it was insane – Calvin was just running up and down the aisle and couldn’t stop chattering about each and every car.

  • Biggest Surprises –
    • How early dinner prep needs to get started for us to stay on schedule.  Working backwards, we want to have both kids in bed by 7.  That means we need to start bathtime by at least 630.  Which means that dinner needs to be ready by 545-600.  Everything takes about 20-30 minutes of cooking time, plus 20 minutes of prep (we are heavily veggie now, so a lot of cutting), so that’s a 5pm start at the latest? Just so that we can all have dinner together?  How are any families able to do this with both parents working at an office?? 
    • How much laundry we have.  Dinner prep and cleanup is a never ending cycle too, but at least food is TASTY and eating is FUN.  Clothes are not fun.  I don’t even know why we insist on putting Calvin in clean clothes every day – they only last that way for 5 minutes!!
    • How much our Swedish has improved.  Lisa mentioned this in a former blog, but we are doing our best to spend 30 minutes each a day using Memrise and I think it’s really working out well.  I’m actually having fun learning now and am able to pre-plan a few sentences of any conversation I anticipate having.  It’s something we work together on and I’m excited about seeing how far we get with this. 
  • Biggest Challenges –
    • Not calling in the electronic babysitter from the bullpen all the time.  Calvin loves watching 10-20 minute youtube movies.  I love having 10-20 minutes to play with Lucy, shower, find out what is happening in the world, etc.  It would be SO EASY to just rely on movies all the time.  But that’s not best for anyone. Not as big of a deal right now when the weather is GORGEOUS, but I see you Swedish weather and I know what we in store for ourselves starting mid-September.  Hopefully I can stay strong….
    • Getting good Lucy time.  I love playing with Calvin.  Love it.  We spent hours the other day just playing wiffle-ball pepper, where I just hit the ball and he runs, gets it and brings it back to me. Then we built a T-ball set the other day (#expatsolutions!).  There is nothing better.  BUT I also know that Lucy is also at a really fun stage.  The hard part is that Calvin requires 100% attention from at least one of us the vast majority of the time.  I remember when we first moved to Stockholm and Calvin was the same age that Lucy is now – we would spend hours together then just playing every day.  It’s a challenge to make sure that I get that quality play time with Lucy as well, even though I’m here all the time.  But it’s so important and fun, I’m going to make sure that it is a constant priority for us. 

    • Anytime that Lisa isn’t around to help.  The biggest “cheat” that we have right now is that, for traditional Swedes, only one parent can be on leave at any one time.  So once the father takes the leave, the mother goes back to work.  For us though, Lisa’s work is project based from home through the internet.  So she is still around for the majority of our time every day.  The times that she isn’t, everything changes.  It is such a different game with just me and two kids – I have no idea how she (or any other stay at home parent) manages it effectively.  I’m sure I’ll continue to get more comfortable with it as time goes on, but it’s no joke!
  • Parental leave is NOT a vacation.  Until it is

So as I said up top, this has been an action packed 3 weeks.  We are entering into our “travel season” soon, so I’m just really grateful that this first phase of the parental leave has gone as well.  As I told Calvin this morning when we were playing at the beach – this is the very definition of “living the dream”, and I still can’t believe how lucky we are and how much more fun we will have in the coming weeks and months. 

Now I just need time to slow down a bit!

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