And So There Were Four…

My husband and I are people who love to go out and experience things. See new places, meet new people, do new things. But with four children, so far our experiences have been limited to mini local trips or splitting the family in to smaller groups.

However, now that Ted is now 6 weeks old, we felt the time for a bigger trip had come. The problem was where? In these days of deep cold snow and many minus degrees, outside time is limited to winter sports, and despite enjoying a bit of sledging or ski-ing, it’s not really appropriate for a newborn – and not always for a newly three year old! For the same reason, ice-skating, swimming, bowling and the cinema are out. And if you don’t want to go to an inside kid’s play place – what’s to do?

Museums. Obviously. There are so many excellent museums in Stockholm. However, many are small, and many are popular, especially during the Christmas holidays – so which one?

And for that reason, we found ourselves at the ‘Sea History Museum’ (Sjöhistoriska Museet).

It felt like a mission. Getting all the kids in the car through the freezing snow, getting them out again and in to the museum. Richard did an excellent job of leading the older three through the new exhibition ‘Shipping and Shopping’, answering the questions throughout the museum, and finding the hidden treasure chests and the objects inside. The kids learnt which products came to Sweden by ship from different parts of the world – excellent learning for the older two, and even Alfie enthusiastically ran from treasure chest to treasure chest with a smile on his face.

So far so good. Mummy during this time was feeding , changing and rocking Ted. In various parts of the museum, catching up the family where I could. Occasionally popping off to change an item of clothing (on the baby, not me!).

Next. The play area. A bunch of wooden boats and a play shop on a fake lake. Maya and Alfie rushed in. Sign post “For children 8 and under”. Leon is 9 – and takes rules VERY seriously. Hmmm. So after perhaps 20 minutes of convincing him that it was okay, and a game of hide ‘n’ seek that looked too good to miss – he joined in.

Step three. Lunch. All good. And expensive. Must try to get Alfie to eat more lunch though. Properly.

Step four. The craft room. Leon was happy to draw – that’s fine. Alfie walked in and out again – it all looked too scary for him, with all those people and tricky crafts – plus the play area was much more fun. And Maya chose the most complicated and time consuming craft to make – and having myself as a mother, I couldn’t say no. So there we sat, holding two sticks of wood (masts) upright (VERY still) to dry in a cardboard cut out model of a ship. Meanwhile, Alfie, having not eaten enough lunch, proceeded to have a tantrum. And Ted, needed feeding. Or was it to sleep?

Hurriedly we finished Maya’s craft, rushing to the car through the snow, hoping the model boat wouldn’t fall apart on the way, and that our tired three year old wouldn’t fall over in the cold snow.

So there you have it – our first big trip out with four kids of four different ages – 9, 6, 3 and 6 weeks.

And I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Beautiful Building

In these days of aprés Christmas spirit, when it’s almost too cold to play outside, the kids have been enjoying their new toys  – and with it comes lots of building…

The above is a combination of ‘Kapla’ building bricks given to Maya, and a ‘Domino Rally’ game, given to Leon. Both are fantastic wooden toys, excellent for creativity and imagination – and both have been mixed to make obstacle courses, and design games and buildings by the kids and their friends.

Also good for housing animals…

As are different types of sorting containers…

Anyone who knows me will understand how much I absolutely LOVE child initiated role-play, so in my eyes, this is just fascinating to watch!

Our Christmas 2010

A wonderful Christmas was had by all…

A french speaking Father Christmas - sussed by my oldest child!

Oldest cousin meeting youngest cousin

Big cousins, little cousins, grandmothers...

... aunties and uncles

Essential porridge eating (Swedish Christmas dessert!)

Homemade gifts (Leon and Maya spent two days painting, baking, weaving, whittling, drawing and writing, making presents for close and extended family)

A much loved tree...

... and a much loved 'Tomten'

A tiny sleeping 'Tomten'...

... joined by another.

We hope yours was as fun!

Happy Christmas 2010 🙂

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree…

The kids all loved decorating the Christmas tree this year. When we bought it, Alfie was most upset that “they didn’t give us any decorations on it mummy!” – so he, in particular, took great joy in sorting through the decorations, having realised we have to decorate it ourselves!

Leon, who can be quite the designer at times, decided one side of the tree should be rainbow coloured, and the other side silver!

And Maya decided to design her own little scene under the tree, using her ‘viking doll’, a Swedish bock (goat), some pine branches, bricks and cheerios. I’m not quite sure who it was for, or what it means, but it’s very sweet!

And so some Christmas tree crafts took place…

Firstly, a giant cardboard tree, painted, and decorated with Christmas stickers….

Secondly, a renovation of Maya’s original 3D cardboard tree (note the ingenious green paper ‘hooks’)…

Thirdly, construction paper Christmas trees (the baubles being the ‘holes’ from inside used hole punches)…

And fourthly, some rather tasty Christmas trees (and presents), made from a sponge cake shaped in to triangles and squares, decorated with coloured icing and smarties or baubles, and using chocolate finger biscuits for tree trunks…

Snow Dens Galore!

It’s so much fun to wake up to SO much snow!

Here are Leon and Alfie enjoying the depth of the snow, while making some kind of a path for the cat to walk down…

And here is the snow ‘light’ my husband made (sprayed with blue coloured water). Not quite finished yet, but when you put a candle in it, it looks magical. We’re just waiting for it to freeze overnight.

But the most fun we had was when Leon and I made our snow dens out of the HUGE piles of snow…!

And here Leon is, round the back of the den, having made a second entrance, now making a tunnel…

And then of course, mummy had to join in…

Ans so last night, after dinner, Richard and the kids were all outside building dens and tunnels, and lighting lanterns in the dark. Wonderful!

Even More Number Exploration!

And so my 3 year old son’s obsession with numbers continues….

Now we have numbers stuck all over the walls where he decides to ‘zoom’ matching numbers on to them with bluetack…

And I pulled out this wonderful counting book…

Which has BIG numbers in it – and lots of scope to count, place and EAT the cheerios!

And while this obsession is currently driving me crazy, I just couldn’t help but make up a house for the ‘Numberjacks‘ (and those of you who know the television series will know the characters, and the set up). It has BIG numbers, shapes from tape, ‘buddy blocks’ for counting, and lots of scope for role play – including a ‘brain gain’ button!

It has been VERY much enjoyed!

Lucia 2010

The Lucia celebrations were yesterday, and in all of the churches, shopping centers and schools there were ‘Lucia trains’ led by children dressed up as Lucia (and the odd ‘Tomten’ or ‘Pepparkaksgubbar’ – Father Christmas or Gingerbread man for the english speaking among you!).

Leon and Maya took part in a private Lucia concert at their school – and unfortunately ‘private’ meant no parents allowed!

However, on Sunday we were very lucky to see the worlds longest Lucia train at Stockholm’s ‘Globen’ – and I actually managed to find this YouTube link!  So watch, and enjoy the beautiful music – and although it can’t be seen easily, please remember that all those little lights are candles held by lots of children dressed as Lucia. A truly magical sight!

Check out this book, or read and learn all about ‘Lucia’ on Gingerbread Snowflakes wonderful post – and don’t forget to make those delicious ‘saffrons bullar‘, a truly traditional Lucia recipe.


Reindeer Fun

Rudolph has always been a favourite in our house, especially with Maya – you can see him here this year (at the end of the post), and here last year.

Having read this lovely book all about reindeer and how they live (suitable for age 5 and up I would suggest)…

… we went on to do other activities…

Making our own Rudoph from drawing around our hands…

Making a Rudolph snack (peanut butter on a triangle of bread, using a tomato for the nose, raisins for the eyes and pretzels for the horns)…

As well as eating some Rudolph treats (melted chocolate spooned on to wax paper, a glace cherry for a nose, silver baubles for eyes, almonds for ears and pretzels for antlers – all added before the chocolate has time to cool)….

(I left mine in the fridge to harden and they were ready within half an hour)

And of course this couldn’t go without watching the film – which Maya in particular loved!

My Son Won The Nobel Peace Prize!

Yep! It’s true!

For his class.

This years theme at school is ‘Alfred Nobel’.

The term started with a ‘faux’ Nobel Prize dinner, acted out by the teachers, in which Pippi Longstocking gatecrashed. Now for the last few months the kids have been learning about the Nobel Prize, whom invented it and why, and about previous winners. They have also been experimenting, inventing and writing stories in preparation.

Today, to tie in with the real thing, the school had a Nobel Prize day. The children all got dressed up, attended an outstanding banquet in a beautifully decorated dining hall, served by children in the older classes, and learnt to dance the waltz.


(My kids are not quite used to posing for pictures!)

Two prizes per class were available – the literacy prize, and the peace prize. Leon had very much hoped to win the literacy prize, and spent 7 hours (from 3.30pm until 10pm!) typing up his own story the other day. I was so proud of him for working so hard, but alas he came second.

However, no-one could be more proud than me today, because Leon actually did win a  prize – the peace prize!

And in my opinion – what could be better?

What a star!

Fun With ‘The Snowman’

Year after year we have read this fantastic book

… and every Christmas season we watch the beautiful film. It never ceases to lose its charm and always brings a tear to my eye – truly a magical story.

Of course this couldn’t go without  a bunch of snowman activities.

Snowmen big…

And snowmen small….

Some to eat….

(Melt a tablespoon of butter, then melt 20 big marshmallows in to the butter on a low heat, take off heat and mix in 3 cups of rice krispies cereal, mould into snowman balls with buttered hands, and pin together with toothpick. Add smarties for eyes and buttons, pretzel sticks for arms, and sprinkle with grated coconut for snow.)

And some for the wall …

Lots of role play happened too, with the story of ‘The Snowman’ being played out. Those of you who know the story might recognise the layout!