Friday, September 30, 2011

Photo fun!

I just uploaded a bunch of pictures onto the computer, so in honour of that, a post must be made!

Henry was given a high chair from my aunt Johanna, and he loves it! I thought he might still be a bit little for it, but Johanna mentioned that she always had a cushion or two padding out the seat, and that worked perfectly.


Okay, so he looks slightly unimpressed here, but he's developed this habit of grinning at me like a fool, then stopping as soon as I point the camera at him.

He really seems to enjoy hanging out on our level, especially while we're eating dinner:

how to make gif


And here's another present from Johanna, a lovely quilt for tummy time:



I am constantly trying to convince the dog that tummy time is not really for her, but to no avail. I guess it's nice that she wants to be involved.

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Henry's also been spending a bit of time in his walker - propped up with pillows yet again.



He looks so professional with his toys on the little table in front of him, and he always seems so serious about playing. It's very important business. I guess that hair is pretty unprofessional, though.

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Andy is here at the moment, we've pretty much just being hanging out and relaxing. We did some hardcore reminiscing last night over dinner, trying to recall every song we ever played, and all the interesting shows we did. We had some pretty awesome times, that's for sure.

Anyway, we will probably do a bit of touristy stuff over the weekend - go to the swimming pool in Hofsos, maybe have some nice dinner in Siglufjordur if we can be bothered driving that far. Otherwise it'll just be more relaxing and doing not much. I will take photos, though, I promise!

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Ooh, I finally figured out how to get the photos off of my iPod, so for comparison's sake, here's how very tiny the dude used to be:


Yup, he was not very big.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It takes a village to raise a child...

I always read A Cup of Jo, and she has this regular series called Motherhood Mondays. And of course she writes questions at the end of each post, and I think about commenting, but then I click on the bit where it says 314 comments, and I think, what's the point? Surely she doesn't read them all. So when she does ask something that I have an opinion on, maybe I'll just post it here.

This week, she talks about where you want to raise your kids. At the moment, she is in New York, which is a totally exciting and awesome place, but she and her husband both seem to be questioning whether it's a good place to say, teach a five year old to ride a bike. And I guess my only comment would have been 'hey, I totally did this thing, too! I was living in a fun-and-exciting place to live, but I just traded it in for a not-so-exciting-but-hopefully-safer-and-happier place to live.'

I vividly remember* having a conversation with my cousin Maja when we were both living here in 2002. We were both just seeing the world and enjoying being free, and I couldn't possibly imagine why anyone would move to Sauðárkrókur (and stay here) on purpose... I mean, there are only 3000ish people here in total, and most of the younger ones have moved away, and many of those who haven't moved away have never even gone anywhere else. Ever!

* Hey Maja, if we never actually had this conversation, feel free to disillusion me. It's entirely possible that I imagined it.

But I guess the point is that it totally depends on what you're looking for; yes, if you are young and want to have a varied social life, then perhaps a tiny town with one bar (and two shitty cover bands that play there) is not for you. But if you're looking for a quiet little place where everyone tends to look out for each other, where there's a tonne of relatives and old school friends and friends of friends around to give advice (and baby clothes), and where it'll be pretty easy to teach a kid to ride a bike without getting run over, then maybe this is a pretty okay place to be.


Monday, September 26, 2011

o.o

Here's an awesome thing that exists:

The Boardgame Remix Kit - do you own Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and Cluedo? Are you sick to death of all those games? This kit has a bunch of tweaks and mash ups to make them interesting again - such a neat idea.

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Sorry it has been seven hundred and fifteen years* since my last post... I don't have any specific excuse for not posting, not that excuses make much of a difference, anyway. So let's move on!
* No, it hasn't.

What is new? Henry had his first swimming lesson last Tuesday, it went pretty well overall. It's not so much teaching him to swim on his own, it's more like exercises and just getting used to being in the water. I think eventually he does go underwater, but that won't be for a while yet. (I explained all this to my grandma, from her questions it seems like she thought we would just throw him in the water and see how he went.)

The class turned out to be about nine mothers, and one other dad apart from Ross. Since we were up at the (indoor) hospital swimming pool, the change rooms are really small, so the teacher recommended that dads take babies into their change room wherever possible. So Ross and the other dude Einar had to figure out how to shower themselves and the little dudes without hurting anyone, while me and Einar's wife breezed through and waited in the pool for everyone else.

Henry was a bit nonplussed at first, which I wasn't expecting, as he's been really engaging with everything lately. I guess the newness of the whole experience overwhelmed him a little bit to start with. After a little while in the pool, he splashed around a bit and seemed happier. 
The exercises were just floating the babies around in different positions, moving them in all sorts of directions (including straight up out of the water, ouch my weak arms!) and just generally letting them flop about the place. After we went over all the moves, we did them again, but this time in song form - I don't know many Icelandic kids' songs, but luckily they're mostly familiar tunes, so you can pretty much just make up your own words.

We also did that neat thing where you grab the baby's feet and boost them out of the water, so they end up standing up on your hand. I must take a photo once we get that one perfected!
I'm going to go and buy a disposable underwater camera today, so tomorrow I can take pictures while still being involved in the lesson.

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Ross helped out at the farm yesterday, as Andres was weighing sheep for slaughter this week. Henry, Amma and I also popped up for a visit and to give Henry his first taste (and smell) of the farm. He seemed pretty interested in the sheep, but then again, he's pretty interested in the cushions on the couch, so let's not jump to conclusions about his future as a farmer.
This has made for the third weekend in a row where Ross is not exactly resting or relaxing - true, some of the weekends have been filled with fun and excitement, but I still imagine it must be a bit exhausting. Anyway, I'm sure he will soldier on as usual, and there'll definitely be a weekend or two in October when we will do NOTHING at all.

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Oh man, I nearly forgot. Saturday night, Henry went to sleep at around 8pm, a pretty usual occurrence. He then woke up at 10pm and was awake and insane and hyper for three and a half hours (NOT a usual occurrence, thank goodness!) It was so bizarre, Ross managed to put him down again around midnight, but he woke up with a scream about three minutes later, then was nothing but wild eyes and darting arms until he finally dropped at half past one. I don't remember eating or drinking anything unusual, unless somebody slipped some crack into my coffee that morning... Totally weird.

Anyway, we got a bit terrified last night that it would happen again, but thankfully, no. Just regular old sleepiness and a couple of midnight cuddles. Yay for sleep! Also, yay for the fact that the not sleeping happened on a Saturday night, which is about the only time I don't feel guilty about making Ross get up with the baby.

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What else? Andy arrives on Wednesday, and he's getting a flight to Akureyri that night so Vicki and I are going to do a big shop and then pick him up. It'll be really good to see him, I think he's looking forward to a relaxing holiday with us and the dude. 

And I think that's it for now. I'm off to buy a new wine-making kit and a disposable camera. Plus, judging by the noises that just emanated from my son, it might be time for a nappy change.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sausages and sheep. And sleep.

Tuesday was sausage making day at the Di Blasio house* - it may not have run exactly according to plan, but I think it demonstrated how very resourceful we are.

* that's our house, by the way. Just in case that wasn't obvious. Y'know, just on the off chance that everyone else is as confused as I am these days... The Icelandic term for it is 'breast fog' - the vagueness of mind that comes with breastfeeding. But I digress.


First the meat grinder wouldn't turn on, turned out someone (thanks, Vicki!) had to push down on the power cable to make it work - like an added emergency stop button.

Then the casings we were using turned out to be really skinny and inelastic (damn you, slaugherhouse, why couldn't you just sell me lamb intestines?), so Ross did a bit of traipsing around to try and find a nozzle that fitted right. 

It ended up working fine after that, and we made these:


We've got a whole bunch hanging in the basement to dry, and because they're so skinny, I think they'll be salami-esque pretty soon - exciting times!

 Irma also went to the trouble of learning how to make a fried pizza dough that is Ross' Nonna's specialty. I'm not even going to try to spell it, but it is delicious...


Oh my gosh, deep fried anything is totally my favourite.


Unfortunately, the recipe Irma got was totally old school: you know, about this much yeast, this much water... maybe more water... about this much flour, and so on. Vicki and I took photos of every step, so hopefully we'll be able to recreate it with a bit of practice.

Nonno explains to Henry the beauty of a good piece of salami.

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We had a pretty chilled out week after that; I went to some hot springs with Vicki and Irma, and we all (bar Ross) went to Holar University for a bit of a look see. Apart from that, Henry just got to spend lots of quality time with his Nonno and Zia Irma, which was lovely.

They left this morning in a hire car, and I assume their trip went well - they haven't driven back here, anyway! 
Ross had to say goodbye last night, as he went on göngur today. I must admit that I'm very glad I got to skip it this year, since last year was pretty traumatic (although in hindsight, I realised that I was a little bit pregnant at the time, so being hyper emotional and cranky from hunger were totally acceptable reactions to the day's exertions). 

Apparently it all went well, Ross and Sigga both had pretty good horses and managed to not fall off too much. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm with hardly any wind - it's a shame they were both dressed for the cold. I'm sure there'll be a more detailed description over at Sigga's blog sometime soon...

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And that's about it. Tomorrow will be a day of rest, methinks - here's hoping the dude agrees with this decision and has a proper sleep-in!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Travellers ahoy!

What's up, folks?

Our visitors have arrived (and in Joe's case, gone again - this post has been a draft since last week sometime, sorry)! Joe got here last Thursday, and it has been fairly exciting and also surreal - we haven't actually seen each other in person for nearly a year. I guess Skype makes it easier to stay in touch, and it definitely makes a difference being able to see people's faces, but nothing compares to actually having your friend just sitting in your loungeroom. Fun times!

I don't think I mentioned it here, but Joe will be Henry's (fairy?) godfather. I feel like we should have some sort of ceremony or event celebrating the fact, but I'm continuing to go off the idea of a christening... It would just feel a little bit hypocritical, given that I'm not going to take him to church every Sunday, and also I don't believe in a God that would send a baby to hell*.

On a less controversial note, it'd be hard logistically to have a big celebration, as Henry's godmother Anja lives in Germany, so I don't think we'll manage to have everyone together anytime soon. Oh well, we'll just celebrate individually and be happy with that. 

*Heck, I don't even think I believe in hell.

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Nick and Irma arrived late on Friday night after an epic trip north. Their bus broke down along the way; it was still running, but reeeeeally slowly. Another bus eventually arrived to take them onwards, but this bus driver was so enthusiastic that he drove straight to Akureyri - a bummer, because they were supposed to get off at Varmahlið, an hour and a half before Akureyri.

When they got to Akureyri, they discovered that the bus driver spoke absolutely no English, so he took them to the police station (as you do). Meanwhile, Nick phoned Ross (who was still waiting in Varmahlið) and asked him to come pick them up.
Then it turned out the bus driver felt quite bad about the whole situation, so he offered to drive them halfway, to shorten the trip for Ross and Joe. They met up without any major hassles, and even got to see the northern lights when they stopped - Ross said they were the best ones he's seen so far, I imagine that being out in the middle of nowhere with no street lights helped.

So there's always a bright side, even if your trip to our little town takes about five hours longer than it's supposed to.

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And surely it's worth it all for them to meet the main (short) man! Henry has been so good meeting all these new people, he seems quite happy to be passed around from hug to hug.

Henry and his Nonno Nikola


With Zia Irma


And godpapa Joe


Joe seems quite taken with Henry, and Henry gave him a huge smile when they first met (and then a million more after that). Awesome. This is the first time Joe has seen us in parent mode, after he's known us for all of our early adult lives. His quote? It's so bizarre, you guys are still living like teenagers, only there's a baby here now. So being parents hasn't changed us too much - we are still the people we have always been.

We're definitely going to be taking advantage of having a photographer around - we still don't have any really nice shots of all three of us (four including Nina?), and it's good to have an outsider's perspective...


Although it must be said, we are not exactly geniuses at being in photos...


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Unfortunately, our friend Andy has been tied up in red tape, so he won't be able to make it for this trip. He's been trying to get a Schengen visa through the Danish Embassy in London, and it just hasn't happened quickly enough. I think the visa has gone through now, though, so he'll be along sometime this month or next. It is a bummer that we couldn't all be together in the same place, but it'll just make it more awesome next time it happens. Plus, as Sigga pointed out to Andy, this way he gets to have more one on one time with the little dude!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tree party!

So the little man has finally been added to the national register, and he has therefore made his way onto Íslendingabók - the collected genealogical info for pretty much all Icelanders! I don't know if I've told you how much I love that site, it is so neat to be able to trace back all your family members for generations! The earliest relative I've found was my great (x8) grandfather on my Dad's side, Bjarni Nikulásson, born around 1605. He was a farmer in Dýrafjörður, don't you know. I guess this is kind of (almost definitely) completely useless information, but it makes me feel all connected and stuff...

I especially love the way it highlights the Icelandic tradition of naming your kids after your parents. This, combined with the way the surnames work - your dad's name plus son or daughter - leads to awesome lines that look like this:

See, Unnur Magnúsdóttir (born in 1833) named her firstborn son Magnús, after her dad. He then named his firstborn daughter after his mum, making her also Unnur Magnúsdóttir. She then named her son after her dad, who named his daughter after his mum, hence, another Unnur Magnúsdóttir. That last one is my mum, by the way! I love it.

Then if you just follow the male sides, there's lots of switched names alternating along the line. Einar Magnusson will name his son Magnús after his dad, Magnús Einarsson. He calls his son Einar Magnússon, who calls his son Magnús Einarsson. It just keeps going!

Ross was included on the site after we got married, although unfortunately there isn't really a process for adding foreigners' information on there. I know Ross' mum has done lots of research into her family tree, so we could probably make up quite a nice book or chart for Henry one day... Anyway, since they only base it on Icelanders, this is what his tree looks like on the site:



But I like that he's there. And let's face it, if your dad was Ross, what more could you ask for?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blog-a-day?

Well then. The answer to: will I post every day this month? is a resounding NO! Sorry dudes, I meant well, honest.

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Anyway, we had an awesome day yesterday. We pottered around in the morning, then I went to the Red Cross as soon as it opened and got a bag of bargains. I did find some black jeans that fitted perfectly around the waist, but when I tried them on at home (and in front of a mirror) I discovered that they were in fact hideously bootlegged. I'm not anti-bootleg in all cases, but these just looked like weird triangles on the end of my pants. No good.

We then went up the hill to visit Gerry and Edda, and had a nice afternoon there. I mentioned the op shopping to Edda, and she said that she had always meant to go, but never got around to it. Given that I cared exactly zero much about the soccer result, we decided to head back down and have a look around. Of course I managed to buy another bag of stuff, in this case including a dark blue pair of jeans that are much less weird. And by less weird, I mean pretty awesome. They are what I would describe as 'Mum jeans', but I think that's more to do with the fact that my childhood happened in the eighties when women wore high waisted jeans, than any inherent mum-ness of the jeans themselves.

I think I'd like to have a go at altering clothes, such as the aforementioned weird black jeans - sewing skills would be so good to have... Like knitting, only you don't have to make the fabric from scratch! Vicki has promised me the use of her sewing machine PLUS babysitting while I figure out how to use it. Good deal!

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Today we had a very lazy morning, then a bacon and egg breakfast, followed by mega clean up times. It feels lovely to have a tidy place, and now we just have to finish setting up the beds for our guests who arrive this week! Exciting!

There are no new photos of Henry, so unfortunately I won't be posting anything of the sort today. I tried again to post a video, but I must need to compress them more before they'll work. Maybe that'll be my mission tomorrow...

Ooh, and finally Happy Fathers' Day to my dad, your dad and of course my lovely husband Ross who is celebrating it for the first time... Although it's not a really big deal over here, so I didn't realise it was happening, and therefore had nothing awesome planned. Oops. Sorry, my love.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Woo!

We decided to try letting the dude sleep in his cot in his room last night. He grew out of the bassinet ages ago, and he's been sleeping in the cot in our room for a while now. He hasn't been sleeping that well, though, I think because I've been picking him up too much. I know there's no harm in just leaving him to faff about, as long as he's not crying. But then I worry that if I leave him, Ross will think that he has to get up - we have an agreement that while he's working, I do the bulk of the nighttime stuff whenever possible.

Anyway, long story short: the dude hasn't really had a chance to prove how good he can be at sleeping, as I keep interrupting him. Until now...
So of course, he proved that he continues to be awesome in every way. He slept from about eight thirty last night until four this morning. I had the monitor, and I heard him wake up a few times, but then he just settled all by himself. Not bad for a short man!

P.S. Until now I had never considered sleeping a skill... I guess mostly because it isn't. Or is it?

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What else? The Red Cross is open tomorrow for the first time in MONTHS, or so it seems. I am so incredibly excited, which is kind of funny and lame, but mostly funny. I really want some new jeans, but I hate the process of trying on jeans at the best of times, and op shops are not really the best of times... I think the last time I bought pants from an op shop was when I was fifteen, so I will cross my fingers and try not to get my hopes up.

Then after I'm done shopping to my heart's content, we're going to a friend's house to watch a football game. Gerry is a Scottish guy that Ross met at Icelandic class, and his wife Edda is lovely and friendly. Our situations are so similar, it's kind of uncanny: Edda is half Icelandic, but has lived most of her life in Scotland, except for a few summers spent here in Sauðárkrókur with her grandparents - I think her Icelandic skills may be about the same as mine, i.e. coherent, but rarely grammatically correct. They had never really considered moving to Iceland, but then decided it would be the ideal place to raise kids, so here we all are!

Edda is nearly four months pregnant, which of course is totally exciting for her, and as an additional bonus I get to impart all my newfound baby wisdom to someone who cares. And she's yet another person who gets seriously gooey around Henry (but then again who doesn't?).  Since I've never been the most sociable crayon in the box (yep, I see nothing wrong with that metaphor), it's pretty cool to just randomly find a potential friend so easily.

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Aaaaand that's it for now. Do you think two posts in a row is enough that I may as well to commit to a NaBloPoMo? I think so... Or maybe not. Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Argh, blogger looks different, what do I do? Okay, deep calming breaths, I should be able to cope with a little bit of change.

Speaking of change, here's a picture with me in it for once! Exciting times.

 
So, what is up?

I have been trying to get into the habit of taking both the boy and the puppy out for a walk every day. So far I've been pleasantly surprised by how good Nina is on the leash. I guess it's easier to remember to heel when there's a big old pram in the way of your wandering.

She got a little bit bummed out when I went to the mothers' meeting on Tuesday. She got all excited while I was getting the pram out*, because she was convinced that she was coming too. It wasn't until I closed the front door on her that she finally got it, whereupon she whined piteously. Poor little love.

* Which, by the way is about a seven step process - I picked out the pram I wanted on the internet, and Dad picked it up in Reykjavik. He made sure that the pram fitted in the boot of the car, but unfortunately I forgot that old houses like ours have really narrow front doors. So the pram lives in the basement, but it's too steep to just drive it out with Henry inside.

So our leaving process goes like this:
Step one: Take pram outside.
Step two: Bring dog back inside after she chased you out when you took the pram.
Step three: Take Henry outside.
Step four: Bring Nina back inside again so you can put a leash on her.
Step five: Take Nina outside.
Step six: Realise that Henry has just messed up his nappy, take him back in, change him, and repeat steps three to five.

I'm not really complaining, the whole process is worth it once you're outside in the fresh air. I just find it kind of comical how long it actually takes me to leave the house nowadays. So long, punctuality. But then again, hello best excuse ever for non-punctuality!

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In other news, Henry has been a bit fussy lately - today he cried nonstop for what felt like hours but was probably only one... Okay, okay, maybe half of one. I definitely count myself lucky that that happens so rarely so as to be a major event when it does happen. But still, crying sucks. I think it's a combination of a bellyache and maybe even teething? Three months is pretty early for teething, but it does happen, and he's doing things like drooling and trying to chew on stuff like, say, your fingers.  Or his own fingers. Or his bear.


I need to go out and buy him a teething ring of some description - I keep wanting to say chew toy, but no, that'd be the dog version. Maybe he and Nina could share? Sharing is a good skill to learn, so the earlier the better, right?

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We'll be getting some more guests soon - Joe and Andy both booked cheap flights, and Ross' dad and aunt will be here at the same time! We're going to try to make sausages while we have the expertise available, although it's been a bit of a hassle trying to source intestines and pig meat in bulk. I talked to the butcher they other day, but he only had marinated spare ribs (ew) and plastic sausage casings (double ew).
I finally called the slaughterhouse direct, and the guy was really helpful - apparently they do process lamb intestines, but only for export purposes, and while they aren't slaughtering pigs anytime soon, they have some meat on hand. So if I phone back next week, he should be able to help us out on both counts. Yay!

Apart from that, we haven't got too much planned for their visit. I'm guessing Henry can provide a bit of entertainment, and then we'll just wing it and see what everyone feels like doing. I think regardless of what we do, it'll just be awesome to hang out and catch up.

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And finally I had to share this, because I realised it wasn't apparent on the previous bear photo:


The bear suit has paws. Oh man, so cute... Also, way more convenient than mittens!