Monday, October 6, 2014

Amsterdam: Family Life

I decided to dedicate a separate post to questions about our family life here in Amsterdam. Here goes!

What is your favorite aspect of family life there?
Biking. Biking. Biking.

They have the most amazing ways of transporting entire families on bikes. It's truly fascinating. I need to collect some pics and do an entire post on just that. And I will.

Biking is easily one of my favorite things about living here. The bike culture is truly unbelievable and unlike any other city in the world. It was hard not riding a bike for the first 9 months after Ebba was born, but we are back on 2 wheels and it feels amazing! Using public transport - so inconvenient. Ha! Amsterdam really is a small city, and from where we live in the center it hardly ever takes more than 20 minutes to get anywhere. I biked to IKEA once and that took 40 minutes (and I was 6 months pregnant!).

How do you feel about your children having a different childhood than your own?
This is how I think about it. My childhood happened in the past. It's done. I would love to take my children to Trout Lake every weekend in the summer, but Ed's Bait Box isn't there. It never could be the same, even if we spent it in all the same places. Like most parents, I am figuring out what childhood I want for my children. 

I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. Not for a passport full of stamps or spring breaks in Florida (via airplane, nontheless). My childhood was truly magical.
My perfect day, age 11
So maybe their childhood won't be so different from mine afterall. There will be road trips, camping, and lots of swimming. But most importantly, there will be magic. How do I know? Because they are children and they have parents that love them. That's where the magic happens, as far as I can tell.

How baby/children friendly is it? Are there changing tables everywhere you go? Do you see lots of strollers? 
Hmmmm....well it is not as baby friendly as I had expected. We live in the Center, so it's quite busy and I do not think it's convenient with a large stroller. You might have trouble fitting into shops and will most likely have problems bringing a big stroller into a lot of restaurants in the center. I am also now discovering that many of the restaurants in the center do not have high chairs...a subtle way to keep the kids out. 

What's worse is that traveling by tram with a stroller can be a real problem. There is an often enforced quota of 2 strollers per tram! I have heard of moms who have had multiple trams pass and refuse to let them on because there were already other strollers on board. And they were probably just trying to get their baby to a doctor's appointment! Extremely frustrating!

Which is why everyone rides a bike...

There are also lots of great playgrounds all over the city. We mostly go to the big one by our house (across from the Heineken brewery), but before I had Ebba we had explored the city a bit more. 

Built-in trampoline!
We also found that there are a number of petting zoos in the city, a great way to spend an afternoon with a toddler.

Are there adult/kids friendly activities? 
Yes! So many! There are some great museums here that are great for kids, especially in the winter months or on a soggy day (there are many). NEMO (science museum), Het Scheepvaarmusuem (ship museum), and Naturalis (natural history) to name a few. And for just €25 you can get a one year pass to these museums (and about 40 more). An amazing value!

Can't go wrong with bubbles at NEMO
We recently discovered the mini disco!
In the spring and summer months, hopefully when the sun is shining, there is LOTS to do in Amsterdam that is fun for the whole family. Picnicking in one of the many large parks is always a popular option. I like going to some of the weekend markets that pop up around the city, offering local foods, arts and crafts. (Pure markt, NeighborFood Market, Sunday Market) Sometimes there's music and rides for the kids. Maybe face painting. I find that this city always has a lot to offer families, and I love it. Just hop on your bike and you're sure to find something fun to do

Are you happy with their education system for your kids? Daycare?
I really don't have a lot of experience with either yet. Simon just started school in March, and he was only in daycare 2 days/week for 6 months. Daycare is quite expensive, and government subsidies were greatly reduced in recent years. The Dutch, who have an extremely high number of part-time workers, are likely to share childcare responsibilities between spouses, grandparents, and daycare. That makes it more affordable. 

As for school, from everything I have heard about the Dutch education system I think it's great. I guess I will have to keep you posted on that one....

Also do pregnant/ nursing moms smoke weed? Or drink?

I do not think pregnant moms smoke weed here. Or at least I didn't when I was pregnant.

As for drinking, my midwife told me that the recommendation is to completely abstain from alcohol. That said, I do think that there is a more liberal view of drinking later in pregnancy than in the US. When I was in Belgium at the start of my 3rd trimester, we had dinner at the B&B where we were staying. The host could not stop offering me wine, and eying me very suspiciously when I kept declining. He did not seem to think that being pregnant was a valid reason to decline a glass of red wine with a delicious duck dinner.
I'd like to read about what you eat- what snacks kids love (ie goldfish, fruit snacks here)? Are the terms "organic/local"meaningful? 
One of the things I love about not raising my kids in the US is that there are no goldfish. Or fruit snacks. Kids eat a lot more real, whole food here than what I am used to in the US. (Gross generalization....moan. Get over it.) For example, at Simon's school you have to bring your own lunch and snack (there's not even a cafeteria!). No sugar or treats are allowed. Like most kids, Simon brings a fruit for snack and a sandwich and fruit or veggie and milk for lunch. If you pack something that's unacceptable (such as raisins!?!), it will simply be sent home.

Monster sandwich! Scary! 
But, I should probably mention chocolate sprinkles. I wrote about them here before. They use chocolate sprinkles as a sandwich topping. Incidentally, this sandwich topping is accepted at schools, too. It's very integrated into the Dutch culture. 

To be perfectly honest, a Dutch mom would probably have a totally different answer. Because I didn't grow up here, and they don't have goldfish and fruit snacks, I don't know what to turn to for "typical" kids snacks. As a result, snacks around our house are mostly fruits and veggies and home baked goods. When we're out and about, we love fresh stroopwafels (syrupy waffle cookies) and the gelato place around the corner.    

Bio (organic) and local is definitely "in" here. As I discussed in my previous post about finding food, there are quality local and organic products out there. But it has been quite challenging to navigate the food system here and find those special products. It's a work in progress.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Amsterdam: One Year Later

Amazingly, we have been living in Amsterdam for over a year already. Wow.

It's hard to reflect on a year in a new place, because there is just so much to reflect on. New country, new language, new baby! So I decided to field questions from friends on FB. I enjoyed this process because, naturally, people asked questions that I hadn't considered. It has been fun to think back on all that has happened this past year.

I decided to do a separate post on questions related to family life.

What are the biggest differences between living in Germany and the Netherlands?* 

One of the things I love about Europe is how quickly and entirely things change when you cross a border. Culture, language, the type of bread in a bakery, or the availability of peanut butter in the grocery store. Dusseldorf and Amsterdam are like night and day. Here are a few quick examples:

Beer selection
The Germans love beer and are very proud of their beer culture. It's cheap, you can drink it anywhere, any time. But it must be German beer. And probably local beer. In Düsseldorf you drink Altbier, while in Köln (Cologne) you drink Kölsch. Needless to say, there is a serious lack of beer diversity.

In the Netherlands, on the other hand they have local beers such as Heineken or Amstel, and a huge selection Belgian beers. And beers that simply aren't Dutch. Both big beer drinking countries, but totally different cultures around it.

There's a huge difference in the way that Dutch and Germans approach speaking English with foreigners/expats. I cover it below.

Things to do
There is so much more to do in Amsterdam! Festivals all summer long for kids, families, or just adults. We love the Sunday Food Market, have seen a great performance of the Gruffalo at Vondelpark, and just this week went to the theater festival Parade. There is always something going on! And of course there are parks, swimming pools, and petting zoos to keep us busy when there's not something more major going on.
Fun at a local festival
Best of all - it's Amsterdam. Even after 1.5 years here, the city is itself an attraction. Just a bike ride or a stroll along the canals to a nice coffee shop is still such a pleasure.

I really enjoyed living in Düsseldorf, but it's a much quieter place with much less going on. There are lots of things I miss about it, but I really love Amsterdam!

*Disclaimer: The cities we have lived in may not be representative of the entire countries. Just sayin'.

How did you think it would be and how is it "really"?

When I first moved here, I was definitely excited about it. I had certain expectations of what life would be like here, and how I would like it. I was optimistic. And I have not been disappointed.

What has been the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise for me has probably been how much I need the support of other expats. This doesn't apply only to our move to Amsterdam, it was something that I slowly learned in Germany and have been reminded of as we settle into a new city again.

When I first learned that we were moving abroad, I pictured myself a year later sipping coffee and chatting fluently with my new German friends. I figured if I was going to live in Germany, that was the way you do it. Two months after moving to Germany, I literally stalked a young couple with a small child speaking English in the street because I realized I needed to meet people that I could talk to. People that would talk to me. Turns out those people are other expats.

When we moved to Amsterdam I knew that I was going to be part of the expat community here, and I knew that forums like Amsterdam Mamas were going to offer me great support. And I was right. It's FB page is a place where you can ask questions about where to find things that would be so easy find back home, or just ask for advice on dealing with your difficult child.

BFing group friends and babies.
This sequence of events pretty much sums it up. I found out about a cloth diaper meet up through Amsterdam Mamas. I attended and met some other expat moms who told me about an upcoming event on giving birth in the Netherlands, and I was 7 months pregnant. I attended that info session, and met a Canadian doula who would be my doula for Ebba's birth 3 weeks later. When I had breastfeeding issues, she suggested I contact a former LLL leader for some help. She helped me out and I started attending breastfeeding/mother support groups, where I have met lots of new moms with babies and made new friends.
Ebba and her buddy, Nico
I have probably made it sound too easy and idyllic. It glosses over the first 8 months we lived here when I hardly made any friends at all, because I was pregnant and just didn't have the energy. When you move to a new city you are always starting over. I had just left behind a great group of friends in Düsseldorf and really didn't want to do it again. But I've started over, and I'm building again. It feels good!

Do you miss speaking English with other native speakers? How much stress do you have around language?
I get to speak to plenty of native English speakers. English seems to be the "other" language here in Amsterdam. My favorite brunch place is run by Kiwis, and the menu is in English and the servers speak English, not Dutch. Dutch people have to switch to English to order. It's quite strange, really.

This is quite a change from living in Germany, where you really had to speak German in your daily life. I NEVER speak Dutch. And I will admit that I am not proud of that fact. Being already familiar with German, I have picked up quite a bit through listening and reading, but I never really attempt to speak it. Except to small children. It's just not necessary. Which doesn't mean I shouldn't try harder. I really should. I will.

How many tranny hookers did you see?

I have passed by the windows in the Red Light District a few times, but I can't be sure how many were tranny hookers. Hard to put a number on that one, sorry. (There are some good Asian supermarkets in that neighborhood, ok?)

What did you dislike most about your first year in Amsterdam?

I know this might sound odd, but I have been having a hard time finding food. In Düsseldorf, we had a lovely Farmer's Market in our neighborhood every Wednesday and Saturday with all locally produced, high quality products. It was small yet it had everything you needed and I never questioned the quality of what I was buying for my family. I rarely purchased vegetables, eggs, chicken, or meat from a grocery store.

Here I have been largely shopping at the chain grocery store, because it's convenient. Part of the it just the logistics. By the time we moved here Simon was done with the nice big stroller, which also served as my "trunk" equiavalent for hauling things around. I can't really carry more than 2 grocery bags, especially with 1 or 2 kids in tow, or while pregnant.

Of course there are nice markets here as well, but it has taken me a long time to sort them out. The Saturday Noordermarkt is great and has lots of organic options, but it's packed. The Albert Cuyp Market is walking distance from our house, but it doesn't seem very high quality. I have finally settled on the zuiderMRKT in Oud Zuid, a quick bike ride away. It's reminds me of my German market, except the it serves fresh crepes (bonus!). It's perfect. Except for when it rains, like this past Saturday, and I just can't bring myself to get over there. But I found good food, and that's important.

It's funny, but writing this post has reminded me what a hard year it has been. I had honestly kind of forgotten, now that we are over the hump of making new friends and figuring our shit out. Moving to a new city, especially a new country, sounds exciting and romantic. And it is, or it can be. But it's also a lot of hard work and emotionally exhausting. I'm glad we've passed that year mark, and don't plan on moving again any time soon. 

Hola from Mallorca!

We just got back from our first real vacation as a family of four. We decided to keep it simple and do a beach vacation in Mallorca, Spain. Turns out it wasn't exactly a beach vacation, as we were staying a ways from the beach. In addition, Simon was sick and not allowed to swim for the first half and Ebba is a mess at the beach with her serious rock and sand eating disorder. But, in the end, it was a success!

Our house was located just outside the small mountain village of Bunyola. It seems like it's on no one's radar, which suited us just fine. We went into town every morning and had coffee, fresh orange juice, ensaimadas (the local breakfast pastry), and bocadillos.

Add caption
We went to the same place every morning, where they knew Simon's name and he insisted on paying. The first time he paid came out, quite proud of himself, and told us, "I said danke schön." Not sure how he managed to say thank you in German rather than Spanish, but it was pretty amusing. He did stick to gracias after that.

Mallorca is quite a hot spot in Europe. Beautiful beaches and warm weather bring throngs of tourists to the island. Lucky for us we stayed to the west among the Serra de Tramantuna mountains, which caters to a more laid back, outdoorsy crowd. The drives were stunning (and challenging and sort of terrifying) as we had to descend from 700 meters directly down to beaches below. One hairpin turn was 270 degree, with the road winding under itself. But the drives were worth it with beautiful cove beaches surrounded by forested mountains.

Cala Tuent 
Cala Deia
We also loved having a house as our home base. We enjoyed lazy days by the pool, sometimes while both kids napped (or watched a movie) inside. It also gave both kids plenty of space to move around. Simon earned his keep as big brother by keeping Ebba away from the stairs and making sure she didn't get outside without one of us. She sure tried.
Best big brother. Lucky little sister.
In the end it felt like a vacation, even with 2 kids, and one of them sick. We were away from the monotony of our daily lives, away from work, away from school pick-ups and drop-offs, and the endless "to-do" list that is always there when you are in your own house.
This was a really good first vacation for this family of 4. Can't wait for the next one! 

And Ebba got her first 2 teeth!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Week 1 = Success

We are already one week into our visit to Minnesota. Jet lag is behind us, and the unbearable heat and humidity is upon us. So we're off to a good start!
At the airport in MN - we made it!!

We are each experiencing this trip to Minnesota very differently. For Ebba, it's her first time in the US and she's enjoying lots of new experiences and new people. She thrives under the extra attention and seems to have grown tremendously in just a week. She hates her car seat but it's a fact of life here, so she's going to have to learn to live with it. We started solids here and she has eaten apples, asparagus, green beans, chicken, banana, sweet potatoes, and carrots. She loves it! Well, if not the taste, then the process.

For Simon, Minnesota is the place where Mormor and Grandpa live. I can see how much he loves getting attention all for himself, not having to share an adult with his little sister all the time. I can't blame I'm. And you wouldn't guess that he doesn't see his grandparents very often because he is soooo happy with them.

The last time Simon was here he was 2, so it's likely he doesn't really remember much. So this trip is making a big impression, and it's fun (and funny) to watch what he experiences here. For example, when he woke up the first morning he couldn't get out of him room and began knocking loudly and calling for Mormor. We don't have door knobs, we have levers so this whole door mechanism is entirely new to him.

After his visit to the toilet Simon informed me that there was no way to flush the toilet. The levers found on most US toilets are different from the large buttons on most European toilets.

And when we passed my old college (Go Mac!!), he asked me the greatest question. "Mama, was your school in English or Dutch?" I replied that my school was in English. In a rather begrudging tone, he responded, "Oh, at my school they only speak Dutch." That was not the last I heard of it that day. I think he continues to mull over the fact that there are schools in English.

And for me? Well it feels good to be home. The bacon and the donuts are as good as I remembered them.

Somehow I haven't had Mexican food yet, but I hope to remedy that soon. I was extremely disappointed while grocery shopping at Whole Foods to suddenly realize that a pound is about half of a kilo. Doh! I have done a bit of shopping, something I almost never do in Amsterdam. The abundance of crap available at incredible clearance is overwhelming. But I bought a pair of Nike running shoes for $6.80. Gotta love America!

And with grandparents around I feel a great sense of relief. That extra set of hands has been amazingly helpful. As I write this, Simon and Mormor are at a play at the Children's Theater while Ebba naps. We have been to Minnehaha Falls, the Arboretum, and the Como Zoo.

At Minnehaha Falls

Week 1 = Success


Friday, March 14, 2014

Simon's 4....and it's a REALLY Big Deal!

How did this happen? When did this happen? Just yesterday I swear I had this cute little toddler, and now I am the mama of a real little boy. Who is 4 YEARS OLD!!
Birthday morning...cakes and pressies!
And it really is a big deal. I am not just saying it in that mama way that every birthday is a big deal. Which it is. I mean it's a REALLY BIG DEAL. Why? Because we live in the Netherlands. And what does that have to do with anything? Well, in the Netherlands kids start school at age 4. At age 4. The day after they turn 4 they start school. So, yes. Throughout the year, there are kids starting all the time, as they turn 4.

Birthday boy biking home! (1.5 miles)
So let me explain a few things as I understand them. First, let's just talk about the word school. I have found that every country has a different system, they have different words for the same things, but in the end they are all quite similar. In the US, it seems everyone is sending their kids to "school" from about age 1. Fine. In Germany, kids go to Kindergarten from 3-6. And in Sweden, kids attend dagis up until they turn 6. But in all of these systems, around the age of 6, kids start what would be considered the formal education system and something like 1st Grade.
Ready for school!
It's really the same here. Simon is in Groep 1-2. This means that Groeps 1 and 2 are combined, so it includes kids from 4-6. It is similar to preschool or kindergarten, and focuses on playing, social interaction, and introducing the kids to a bit more structure. But here, it's school. Simon's school, De Kleine Reus (The Little Giant), has more than 500 students up to the age of 12. It's the real deal.

I have to admit that leading up to Simon starting school, I was a bit nervous. I am always telling other mamas not to worry about their kids learning the language, it's so easy for young children, etc. But I found when it came to my own little man, I had some anxiety. Admittedly I am projecting my adult conscious onto his experience, trying to imagine being thrown into a room of nearly 30 peers who I really want to like me, but with whom I cannot verbally communicate. It sounds so intimidating, and it has given me a whole new respect as to how brave my little man is.
First day!!
That isn't to say that has been easy, but Simon seems quite happy. He had been going to a Dutch creche two days a week for 6 months, so I know that he has some understanding of the language. We are a week and a half into school right now, and he isn't so keen on me leaving him. But he does let me leave. And when I pick him up he is happy and full of energy, so I know that it's a happy place for him. Kids are so resilient, and I hear him saying new words every day. Wow. He is so strong and brave. I admire him so much.

But I can see that it's not easy for him. When I picked him up on Tuesday I saw a sad little boy. When his eyes met mine he burst into the saddest tears I can ever remember seeing. I, too, was close to tears on seeing this. But when I bent down to find out what had happened, he told me, "I can't find my pink star." So while that is quite sad, it was a lot better than, "Some boy pushed me on the playground" or "They were mean to me today." Of course, I can see how losing this pink star could be symbolic of deeper challenges. Did he show it to someone who took and didn't give it back? And then he didn't know how to ask for it back? Oh how the mind wonders...

And he also hasn't gone to the bathroom at school. And I am not talking #2. Just potty. I ask him every day and he says, "I don't speak Dutch," or, "I don't know how to ask." That's tough. But he'll learn. He is so strong and brave.

I am proud of my son. So very proud of him. And so I took him to Kirmes on Wednesday, our day off for now, and spoiled him rotten.

 Oh, and Ebba is doing just fine. Thanks for asking. She's 4.5 months - and quite a cute little peanut.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sint Maarten, Sinter Klaas, and Zwarte Piet: New Traditions in the Netherlands

One of the best parts of living abroad is learning about, and participating in the holidays and traditions that your new home celebrates. And one of the challenges of living abroad is hanging on to and finding ways to celebrate holidays and traditions that exist in your homeland. Immediately following Ebba's birth was a whirlwind of holidays, old and new. For Simon, they were all new. He's finally at an age (and we're not traveling SEA) to really participate in and enjoy the holidays.


Given Simon's love for Mike Wazowski (MW), it's not surprising that we kicked off the fall holiday season with Simon dressed as MW for Halloween. I had of course expected to go trick-or-treating with Simon for the first time in October, but Ebba's arrival meant that I stayed home while Martin took him out. I was disappointed, especially as I had made a little Baby Wazowski costume to cover my pregnant belly that I was never able to put to use.

Amazingly, the expat community has organized a trick-or-treating route in one of the central neighborhoods of Amsterdam. Hundreds of kids participated and Simon was giddy to come home with a small pile of candy.

Sint Maarten

Sint Maarten, on November 11, could be considered the Dutch equivalent of Halloween, just based on the fact that it involves going house to house and collecting candy. The children don't dress up, rather they make lanterns that they use to guide their way through the street as they sing traditional Sint Maarten songs in order to receive their candy. Simon had learned a few of the songs at creche, but he couldn't keep up with how quickly the Dutch kids sang. Still, he was happy to be collecting candy again. (This was also Ebba's first venture out of the house!)

Simon and his lantern

Sinter Klaas

As if Simon hadn't had enough sweets and treats, Halloween and Sint Maartens were peanuts compared to what was next to come. SINTER KLAAS!!! I would have guessed that Sinterklaas was some Dutch equivalent to Santa Claus, and I would have been wrong.

Sinter Klaas is actually Saint Nicholas, which I was familiar with as I used to leave my shoe out on December 5 so that Saint Nick would fill it with a pack of starbursts or skittles. It was a small, fun little thing leading up to the main event - Christmas! But not here...not at all.

I still don't have the story completely straight, but I do know that Sinterklaas arrives from Spain in November, a few weeks before December 6, which is actually the day that he leaves. He arrives by boat to great fanfare and has a grand parade around the city, which conveniently passed just a few blocks from our flat.

Waiting for Sinterklaas

Here he comes!
While he's in the Netherlands he spends his time leaving gifts in children's shoes around the country. How often and what kind of gifts depends entirely on the family. Given that he is in town for several weeks, it's not likely that he comes every night. December 5 is pakjes avond (present night), and is usually a time for Dutch families to celebrate together and exchange gifts.

Conveniently for us, Sinter Klaas passed by our local pub on pakjes avond with gifts (prearranged by parents) for all the kids that attended. As foreigners it was the perfect way to celebrate this new holiday. Simon was a little intimidated by Sinterklaas in the beginning, but once he warmed up he was so excited. He was also impressed that Sinterklaas spoke English! How lucky for us.

And one other detail, that I am not going to get into right now, is that Zwarte Piet (or Black Pete) accompanies Sinter Klaas. He is dressed in blackface....but the Dutch will assure that it's not offensive or racist in the least. It just happens to make the rest of the world extremely uncomfortable. I will let David Sedaris enlighten you a bit and we can discuss again at some future point.


What's amazing about living in the Netherlands is that we have FAMILY here. While my roots are Dutch, that's not where this family comes from. My sister's husband's cousins live here, and they are now my cousins. It's wonderful to have family around, and since they are half American we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It was a little unorthodox, as we went for spaghetti and meatballs instead of turkey, but Ebba was just a few weeks old and we decided simple was better. We hosted at our house but I didn't cook or clean. That's why family is amazing!
My cousin Lena with Ebba.


After Sinterklaas departed on December 6, we started gearing up for the next big thing - Christmas. This also meant the arrival of Grandma, or Mormor

Simon got to meet Santa Claus, who was impressed with his two Christmas wishes, which were a book and a dog bone for his soft toy dog. Needless to say, Simon's list grew as he realized he could just add any item to his list.

Having Grandma in town was a HUGE help. Like a mama who has been there before, she didn't mind holding a crying baby and giving this mama a nice break. Ebba was still really fussy during this period, so it was much needed. Grandma is also a lot of FUN, and Simon couldn't get enough of his new roommate.

But we didn't just sit around the house, we took a trip to Brussels to check out the Christmas market there. For Simon it was a little piece of heaven. He got to ride the carousel over and over, a ferris wheel, and the alpine slide. (He even snuck a free ride on the alpine slide - proud Mama!) He got to see Mannekin Pis (boy going potty) in person, something he had seen in his new Maps book and was quite looking forward to. Dinner was waffles followed by an ice cream cone. What a life!
Most amazing carousel EVER. This rocket ship went through the roof!!!
We celebrated Christmas at home, small and quiet. It was the first time we (Martin and I) have ever had a Christmas tree. We enjoyed not traveling for the holidays, and Martin took nearly 2 weeks off of work.

Needless to say, Ebba's birthday kicks off a pretty serious holidays season in our house. And that doesn't even include Santa Lucia, a Swedish holiday on December 13. I guess we'll add that to the mix next year, though!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's not you, It's me

Lately I have been getting very fed up with Simon. When it's time to go get out the door, he won't come. When it's time for bed, he's slow to put on his pajamas and prefers silly antics to brushing his teeth. I feel like getting to do anything or listen to anything I say is like pulling teeth. Maybe it's just his way of adjusting to life with Ebba. Of course his world has been turned upside down. He's not getting the attention he used to...

German Alps - October 2010
But then one day last week I was trying to help him get ready for bed and I grabbed him (hard) and brought him back to his bed. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Oww, Mom. You pushed me."
Sienna, Italy - September 2012
That's when I realized that it wasn't him at all, it was me. My whole world has been turned upside down too. I am not able to give him the attention I am used to being able to give to him. I struggle to find the patience that I once had for him. He struggles to see the mother he knew.
Hoi An, Vietnam - December 2012
He's been my one and only for so long, it's hard for both of us to adapt to all of the changes in our lives.

I have only just realized what has been the hardest part about adjusting from 1 to 2 kiddos. It's Simon. I miss him terribly. He's still here with me almost every day, but I miss him.
Amsterdam - November 2013 (Ebba's there too, just tucked away)
I know that this is a personal struggle for a lot of moms. I have been getting out my trusty Love and Logic book to help me find my empathetic words, rather than my angry words. I'll be happy to read you a story once you've brushed your teeth and put on your pajamas. And I remind myself that he is just acting his age, and it is unfair for my expectations to change overnight. 

But at the end of the day, Simon still wants snuggles and hugs and kisses from his Mama. I have no illusion that he loves me less, he just wants more of me. And I can't blame him.