Recovering from Sjöbo Fair

Friday 18 July 2014

Since I was a little child, I have been an annual visitor at the fair in either Kivik or Sjöbo. Since we got very disappointed years ago, over how Kivik had gone to the pits, becoming just a place where they sell Asian articles of garbage, we have imageinstead headed to Sjöbo. But since Sjöbo is smaller with more narrow rows, we have had to change our yearly visits drastically. No small children get to go. Which means, I go one day, with one or two daughters, or like most years, I go alone. And then the second day of the fair, my husband goes with D. and two daughters. They prefer to go with Daddy, since Daddy will buy them all sorts of silly things, if they beg hard enough. And of course Daddy will buy them donuts, Berliners,…

I am persona non grata, since I hold my fist tight around the purse strings and will not buy things which have no value or which I see will last too short of a time, to be worth the purchase price. True, Sjöbo has more ordinary things and not just the Asian fluff. Some sellers have actually got over a lot of Converse shoes costing just a 100:-/8.55 Pounds/€10.79/$14.59.  But if many stalls sell the same thing, saying it is the genuine thing, the original, I am afraid that it is copies they are selling and I have had really bad experiences with copies. Perhaps I am becoming more and more of a snob, but you really do not get more than you pay for.

Going out to Sjöbo this year, was a lonely affair for  me, since E. has not spoken to me for almost four weeks now. Reason? I told her that you can’t stand with one foot in the world and one in our religion. That you can’t say that only the things you like, are true and the uncomfortable parts, not being so, because they are not fun to keep. There is no grey zone in our religion, either you believe or you do not. We don’t get to pick and choose which laws we want to follow, just like it is in the world. You can’t choose which laws in your country, that you want to follow, and then break the rest, not expecting any consequences. She did not like what she heard. Or that I had the gall to discuss it with her. So she ignores me now, doesn’t say a word to me, and sits in her room upstairs watching TV on her school’s computer or chats with friends on Facebook, all day. She only comes down for dinner and helps out with absolutely nothing. She is mean and screams at all her siblings, including “Gubby”, who has never done a thing to hurt her or her things. While the others accept that she is the way she is, he doesn’t understand this diva behaviour of hers, so he gets really SAD. I’ve had to tell him to stay away from her.

But, I headed to Sjöbo and actually thought it was nice to not have her come along. Last year she conned me in to buying her pumps, earrings, 2 T-shirts, a bra (which the lady ended up giving us for free because E. said she did not like them because they would show her teets) and at least 6 pair of knickers. This year, I did not have to make any such purchases. I left it all for T. to handle today instead. He has three nagging kids with him! Ha! All the same, I have a difficult time relaxing and being selfish. Wherever I go, I end up looking for things for the children. I tried to ignore things that would have been fun for D., E., and “Cookie”, deciding in my mind that “they will see it tomorrow and can make a decision then”. Instead I concentrated on the three who would not get to go at all. For those of you, who contemplated going there this year, and did not: My first shock came as I arrived. The fair had shrunk. It used to cover up all grass available, but now a big part of the grass had been taken over as parking for maybe the owners of all the rides and carousels? Or the ones standing in the stalls, could park there? Whichever, I felt somewhat cheated, since I had just paid 40:-/ 3.42 Pounds/ € 4.32/$ 5.84 in parking, up by the windmill. My ordinary parking place, on the lawn outside a school, was not available this year, so maybe they did not expect as many visitors this year? (But I was disappointed, in this as well, since it forced me to stay a long time, in order to be able to get out. My car being so huge and not having any room to manoeuvre in a created parking lot, on a sloping grass knoll. )Please don’t say that fairs are dying out? It is a highlight of July, even if a lot of the merchandise is “crap”. Third disappointment was the fact that all the sellers were late. I always see to that I am there at 11:00 to make sure I get good parking, close, and some things sell quickly. But half of the stalls were not even up by then and it took hours for them to unpack. They seemed tired from Kivik and it was not fun to kill time at the supermarket and in small shops on the walking street.

What is “crap”? Well, all the Philippine stalls with mobile phone shells and wallets. I doubt the covers last more than a week, and they are not really value for the money. I did buy something like it, from an Amazon seller actually, saying that it was real leather and everything. By the end of the month, the entire plastic frame that the iPhone goes in to, had crumbled in to small pieces in my handbag. And the real leather was indeed real plastic. When I wrote this in my  review, Amazon removed the review! I was not allowed to be honest! So I am very weary now when I purchase a mobile phone wallet. Another thing to walk past are all the stalls with clothing, owned by an array of foreign sellers. All the clothes are weird and most of them one size fits all. Well, we are not all of the same size so… And why would I buy a shirt for 200:-/ 17.10 Pounds/ € 21.58/$29.18 at a fair, when I can get something much more stylish and pretty, at a local shop in the mall? If it breaks, I can go back with it, which I can not with a fair item. Because these fair stalls, do not have shops, they are just, I don’t know, travellers?

Then we come down to the level of “semi-crap”. The places that sell things which we can find out in the shops, but which are cheaper at the fair and claimed to still be the original thing. A pair of Converse for 100:-, a pair of Crocs or what in Sweden is called “Foppa” clogs after the ice hockey player Peter Forsberg. (Don’t know what he has to do with them, unless he introduced them to Sweden?) These “Foppa clogs” in plastic, could be had from anywhere between 60-100:-/ 5.13 – 8.55 Pounds/ € 6.47 – 10.79/ $8.75 – 14.59 , yesterday, and since “Kitty’s” are broken, I bought him a pair for 60:-. What is the use of getting the original, when they all last equally long? Kids grow out of them and don’t usually wear them out. His could have been continued to be worn, but the strap broke, which one doesn’t really need. Other semi-crap things are the wonder bras, “as seen on TV” and they all claim to sell the original, yet, I noticed none of them are of the same brand. Last year, E. and I went home with one each, but none of us were impressed. They rolled up under the breasts! Everyone who has worn stockings or a shaper girdle, to get that perfect figure, knows that they go a little bit over the waist and when you sit down and then stand up, they have both rolled down to below your waist. Like the commercial, with the woman who tries to adjust her sanitary napkin between her legs, in public, wiggling around,  you stand up and try to discretely adjust or unroll your stockings and the girdle so they both sit where they should sit. Don’t get a nice figure with a roll around your waist do you? Well, with this “wonder bra which you can sleep in, which you can’t feel when you are wearing it, that lifts your breasts without discomfort of a wire”, we were forced to stand and unroll it from under our breasts as well, which can’t be done discretely! In E.’s case, she needed it for support of her big bosom and I who have an almost non-existent bosom, wanted what little I have, to be lifted up without a wire. Hm! No, what one should really go for, are shops selling off surplus things or trying to show that they exist on the market, by having fair bargains.

Before I get to this part, I must mention, some things, that some of us fall for, because we have small children, who we know will appreciate things, not common on the Swedish market. I am not going to call them crap, because theseimage are items that actually stand the test of time, but at the same time, some people might turn their noses at the things. The first thing, are T-shirts from Asia, made out of some sort of polyester. I love them for three reasons: 1) I don’t have to iron them. You just wash them in 40 degrees, hang them up and they are dry in no time. 2) They come in bright colours that make children look happy and healthy and children are drawn to these like flies. 3) They come with illustrations that children love! Every year I have carried these home for the three youngest, with Spiderman, Bob Squarepants and Lightning McQueen. And this year, I even found one with “Gubby’s” beloved “Toystory”. Disney’s “Cars” might be old by now, but children still love the films and they want them on shirts! The chain stores fail to see this in many cases, or they put a print on a regular cotton T-shirt and then it comes off in a couple of washes. These fair T-shirts are indestructible, I pass them on from son to son. The print is built-in to the T-shirt and covers all of it, not just a little piece in the front!

imageThe second funny child item, is the one that is greets you in every Peruvian stall. Actually the very first real fair stall that greets you, is one of them. They have these knitted beanies/caps/woolies. In years past, it has mainly been animal ones but then when the Smurf film came out, suddenly all Peruvian stalls, had smurf beanies. The year “Cookie” and I went there together, we laughed at these grown men who were intoxicated and walked around with a beer can in one hand and a smurf beanie on their heads. Thoughts next morning? No, idea but I can see them asking their mates “why did you not stop me?”. This year’s beanie, brought a smile to my face again, since it was the minions from “Despicable me”. We LOVE the minions and have decided they make the entire two films! I wanted to get one for “Gubby”, who is the only one who keeps track of his clothes. No point in wasting money on the other two, who just lose all mittens and beanies. But by the time, I was ready to purchase a beanie, my feet were so sore, I could no longer enjoy the fair. I headed for the car in pain, and realized on my way home, that I had forgot to buy, what I had intended to buy. So, a list was sent with T. this morning, with among other things to buy, a minion beanie. (The one “Gubby” chose, from the selection his daddy sent via e-mail, so he could choose from the picture, was the one on the lower right. He is such a smart little boy though, when daddy came home with it, and he put it on to see what it looked like, on him , he said to me “it’s for when it is snow outside, not now!”. He is absolutely right, which was one of the reasons why I did not buy it early on yesterday. It was sooooo hot, and I felt dizzy part of the day since there was no way for me to keep hydrated. The last thing I wanted to do, was to put on a beanie for size! Today, “Cookie” had to do the honour, since they have the same size of head, sort of.)

But I promised to talk about the quality stalls, which are shops coming to Sjöbo, for two days, from all over the country, to sell you things which you can never get otherwise. Not even knowing they exist in some cases. Like the different paper stalls, who stand and sell thick rolls of Birthday- and Christmas paper, as well as ribbons for them and cards. Let’s say, in these rolls, with much more fun motifs than the ones you find at the supermarket, you get at least four times as much paper, than in the supermarket ones, and at a fraction of the price. They are heavy to carry around, so I finally walked back to the car when my elbows started aching, but this is definitely the place to get paper at, every summer, for the seasons to come.

Other purchases I made, was a British blanket, of the smoothest, softest,image warmest fabric I have ever felt. I am not going to say that I look forward to the winter, but when winter comes against my will, I am prepared for it! I have the best blanket to snuggle under with my Reynaud’s Syndrome cold feet, hands and body. Having the Union Jack on one side, was a definite bonus for an Anglophile like myself! :) The stall had many other nice and quirky items for sale, but I had decided to spend as little as possible this day, so I had to resist the temptation. My husband has bought the most ugly kitchen wall clock, from a shop known for ugly items at a cheap price. I detest it! Here in this stall, I saw some funny kitchen clocks looking like old-fashioned coca cola bottle caps, with Roman numerals, in a painted worn-look. Colours were green, barn red or teal. I stood for the longest time, trying to decide whether to get one of them. They were made out of metal and heavy. I was already fighting the rolls of gift wrapping paper. So I decided to leave it to my husband, for today. And of course, he did not buy one for me. So I will have to live with the disgusting looking black plastic clock on the wall. I doubt he even looked at the clocks, even though I had put it on his to-do list. But D. and E. have a propensity of talking his ears off and let’s face it, he does not know how to multi-task!

Another purchase, was actually a mobile phone wallet, but from a reputable place. It’s a bunch of young men who have started the company, they sell over the net, and the frame where your iPhone goes, is in a rubbery material which is not going to crumble. I stood there forever looking at them, before I made the purchase, because the news channel came and wanted to film, the only young man standing there around noon. He had so many colours to choose from, that it was difficult to decide. I finally settled on a mint green wallet with black frame and closure. He was sweet and threw in a mint green “pen”. If I find the web address, I’ll put it in, before I publish. His mobile wallets did not cost much more than the garbage Philippine ones, but of course lacked images and messages, that teenagers might prefer.

The toughest part for me, going to this fair, are all the stalls selling baby items and adorable baby clothing. To not be in that market anymore, hurts. It really hurts! Some clothes looked big enough for “Gubby” but then I saw the labels saying, they were only for a 3-4-year-old and it broke my heart. For people who choose that they have had enough children, it is probably just alright to see all these stalls. But for someone who did not feel done with that part of my life, who has tried and tried to rectify fate, well, it made me immensely depressed. I did walk in to one of the stalls though, with clothes called “Snoozy”, which was set up as a tent, because it looked like perhaps some things were bigger. And lo and behold, I found this adorable soft T-shirt hoodie jacket, with little owls all over it.image In “Gubby’s” size. One woman was circling around me the entire time, giving me dirty looks and for the life of me, I could not understand why. I stood with the jacket in my hand, and tried to see if there was not a single cute T-shirt in his size. The only thing I could see, was a long-sleeved one with moose all over it. I am sure he would have loved it, but the price tag on the jacket said 249:- ( 21.28 Pounds / € 26.87 / $ 36.34) and I felt it had to be one or the other. A T-shirt that he can wear one, maximum two days and then throw in the dirty clothes. Or a jacket, which he can wear for weeks without dirtying it down, unless they bring him out in the pre-school garden. That is when I discovered why the older woman was looking angrily at me. The other jackets, did not have owls on them, like I had thought. It was monkeys! I was holding the ONLY owl jacket! When I snubbed her and walked to pay for it, instead of hanging it back so she could buy it for a grandchild, I wouldn’t believe my ears when they told me it cost only 100:- (see your own currency above). I still decided to not get the moose T-shirt. Don’t know why, because now I regret it and he would have loved it. On the positive side, the shop is supposed to exist in Malmö. No webshop, but a physical one. Maybe in the future, I can head there and see if there are more things his size than what was available at the fair?

One second-hand bookshop from Österlen somewhere, had a large book stall, but it seemed like what they sold most of, were chilled drinks. I stood there for a long time, looking at all the world war two books, they had brought. I know I should not have, but there was one book which was hard to resist. It might be a highlyimage speculative book, a book full of non-sense, since I have never heard of it before, and usually I have heard of world war two books, one way or another. But, I will give it a go, because it does sound like it has an interesting angle on Hitler and his bizarre personality. (“Hitler’s Secret: The double life of a dictator”) The seller was very happy that finally a customer actually bought one of his books and not just the drinks that he had stocked up on. He declared that he had lots and lots of books out in… But I missed the name. A new law has come about, which force all fair sellers to give a receipt for purchases. It has never been like that before. But, if I can find my receipt from that shop, in one of the plastic bags I brought home, then I should find out the name of the shop and the location. It could be a fun place to go look at, if one is in the vicinity of it. Can’t resist books!

The very first item I bought, was actually none of the above, but was found in a stall which keeps on coming back every year. Most of their items are sewing things, but now and then, they keep a wicker basket with yarn by the till. And I imagecould not resist these big yarn balls, priced at half their value, since I guess they had already tried to sell them out at Kivik’s fair, at the beginning of the week. I bought the only two blue ones left and the pink. One ball is supposed to be enough for a head band and a scarf. None of us wear headbands so why not just make the scarf wider? My first thought was to make scarves for the girls, for Christmas. But at a sleep over, at a class mate’s house, E. sat and knitted a sleeve, out of yarn her class mate handed her, just for the fun of it. So she CAN knit. Last year, she had me buy a purple yarn, at this exact stall, and had ME knit the cap. This year, she can actually knit the scarf herself!!!! So, I will make a scarf for “Cookie” and one for myself. The yarn seems funny to knit with and I am sure the different colouring, will make a fun effect.

My final purchase that I want to bring up in this post, is one which was not made in a fair stall at all. As you can imagine, the shops in the town of Sjöbo, take advantage of the two-day influx of possible customers! They put things on sale or have special fair prices on some things, and of course, people will go in to the shops as well, if they are situated on one of the streets, leading from the parking areas, created just for the fair. One shop that has been on one of these streets in the past, has been the jewelry shop which also sells watches. They usually bring sale watches out on the pavement, to have their own little stall there, and also some cheap earrings or rings, they want to get rid of, from their stock. We have always walked by that shop since the parking facility used by us in the past, has always forced us to walk on this street. But, this year, two parking places close by that street, had not been opened for visitors, so noone walked by the little watch and jewelry shop. When I had dropped off, my gift wrapping paper rolls, I walked by the street, saw how empty it looked, and decided to just go down to the shop to have a peek. Usually two ladies work in the shop and they are funny. Two years ago, E. and I was in there and bought a ring for E. on sale, from the Danish Spinning company. The ladies were really sad over not having sold the rings and over how conservative and narrow-minded people are in Sjöbo. Unfortunately a popular town for neo-nazis and xenophobic people. Those parties were out full force at the fair, handing out their propaganda. Targeting young men of course, of D.’s age. But of course they did not hassle D. and co. today, since they want a foreigner free-Sweden, and there my entire family was, speaking English! Anyway, the ladies at the shop, told us how people in Sjöbo doesn’t want modern, “different”-looking, jewelry, so Spinning’s innovative style did not sell at all.

This year, the ladies were not there but there was a funny older lady standing outside the shop calling out to the few people walking by, “Don’t you want to go home with a new watch today?”. I stood and chatted a little with her, over how sad it was, with the parking changing so much, and not all shops getting an advantage from the fair, this year. While talking to her, I glanced at the stand of watches and one stood out, among the rest. Because it was tiny, square, different looking from all the rest. In other words, the sort of watch I am always drawn to. I took a stroll in the shop next, because it was so hot and I wanted a little air conditioning, before I headed back to the fair. Leaving, not having looked at anything in particular, because it was too hot in the shop as well, air conditioning not functioning I suppose or being off. I halted by the watches again. Took out the watch and held it on my arm. “Oh, that is a really expensive imageSTORM watch!” the lady said to me, “It has cost 935:- /80 Pounds/ € 101.03 / $136.59″. Thanks, I KNOW how much STORM watches cost, but I thought that it was just lower quality watches being sold out there. Who in their right mind brings out a STORM watch on the side-walk? I had to get my reading glasses out now, to see if she was really right about the brand of the watch. Yes, sure enough. They were selling an 80 pound STORM watch for 189:-/16.16 Pounds/ €16.07/ $ 27.57 ! Let’s say, I did not have to think any further. I was too hot for comfort, but headed in to the shop, to pay for the watch. My wrist was too swollen to try it out for size, so I had to bring it home, and let my body go back to its regular shape and size, before I could see that it was too big for me, and T. had to take it to be shortened today. But what a bargain to make! Thanks to the Sjöbo habitants being “backwards”! This sort of fair purchase, is why I go year after year. When you find that little extra, when you do that wonderful bargain, on an item which you could only have drooled at, at another time and place, then it all feels worth it! Going through row after row, of awful stalls with Asian plastic and T-shirts with ghastly messages, and then finding a little gem… That is what going to a fair is all about. That and the special fair candy and “gräddbullar”!


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Snail Day: Meet “Flagge” and “Skralle”

7 June 2014:

In the personal progress program (a church thing for young women really, between 12-18, but a friend of mine persuaded me to do the program as well, since she is, and she is 50+), E. and I was supposed to come up with a ten-hour project, in the category ‘choice and accountability’. It feels like I have spent almost two entire days out in the flower bed beside our house, next to the entrance door. It was in a state of disgrace, so the project came as a good excuse for making it look more decent. The problem always being, that if I go out and do garden work, hell breaks loose inside. But yesterday being National Day, and today being a Saturday, it meant one more grown up to keep the troops in order. But, “Gubby” who is used to always being with me, didn’t want to be so far away from me. If I am outside, he is outside… At first he was bored but then to his delight, he noticed that me pulling weeds and disturbing the peace of the flower bed, meant unearthing tons of snails. I don’t think I have ever seen so many snails in one place, in my entire life.

I can’t say, that I appreciate snails. As a matter of fact, I find them quite disgusting. But “Gubby” finds them VERY funny, interesting and exciting. He couldn’t get enough of them. As a matter of fact, now when I reminisce, my grandmother’s garden, south of here, also had a lot of snails. Or rather, the remains of them. Me and my friend used to collect the empty, abandoned “houses” because we thought they were pretty and liked the intricate pattern on the shell. My mum was not as thrilled though. So perhaps all children go through snail phases?

Yesterday, all his attention was to one snail. Someone asked him, “What is his name?” and he immediately had an answer. He did not even have to think. “Flagge”.  I think I spent four hours in total out there yesterday, and he spent as many hours with that snail. He was carrying it around all over, so I hope the poor thing did not suffer from vertigo??! I guess “Gubby” wanted to broaden “Flagge’s” horizons? Not just get to see the boring flower bed? He kept him on the bicycle route just outside our house. I had to take a photo of him playing with the snail and I could not keep from laughing  when I got there with the camera and “Gubby” told the snail “Say cheese!”.

I must say that this is a new experience for me. In the past, when I was buying stocks for my scrapbooking, all boy sticker sheets always had stickers that said “snips and snails” and had pictures of frogs etc. on them. I bought them, since there is not that much for boys, in the way of scrapbooking, but I did not really use them, because they did not fit for my first four boys. They have never been that interested in insects, animals and so forth. Except for in picture books and when we have gone to the zoo. But “Gubby”, he is an all together different person. Perhaps he will become a vet one day? He loves animals and I have the sneaky feeling that I will finally be able to use all those stickers.

Today, I was weeding closer to the door, where there were even more snails, and “Gubby” rescued two out of the flower bed. He thought it was the same one, he played with yesterday, but unfortunately, I saw a mean little boy drive over poor “Flagge” yesterday, just to be spiteful I suppose, because he saw how fun “Gubby” had with it. I have never seen the boy before, but he stood on his bicycle, watching “Gubby” for probably over half an hour. Weird.

imageAnyway, today “Gubby” stayed at the front stairs with his two snails. He immediately named them “Flagge” and “Skralle”. Wherever he got the names from, I have no idea. “Cookie” thought it was hilarious, but I actually thought them very good snail names. He sat and played with the poor snails all the hours I was out there working. Since he is Autistic, my mind once again, went to the testing of him. The special ed teacher who tested him, said he can’t do imaginary play. Well, why did she not bother come and see him in action, at home? It is one thing to play with a psychologist, who keeps to a manuscript and where you are not allowed to play with anything but the toys they put in front of you. I have described it all in another post, but there was no way to imagine a thing really. At home, he is relaxed, and he is himself. He does imaginary play, even though he, as an Autistic child, is not supposed to be able to do this. He gives the snails their own voices and it is a lot of fun, listening to him.

One thing I have learned weeding the flower beds, is that I think I have to read up on snails and all sorts of other gross things. My son has hundreds of questions and even though my general knowledge of things have never fallen short before, I feel it does now. I really don’t know anything about snails. The slime they left behind them, when they slithered across our stairs, is disgusting and he wanted to know what it was. He was totally fascinated and studied the process in detail. And  the only thing I could come up with was, “I think they are pooping”.

Later addition: You are never too old to learn things! Next time “Gubby” points out the slime and asks what it is, I will NOT answer poop, but tell him that it helps the snail crawl. I guess they have little feet, believe it or not, and the feet produces the slime, to help crawl on and protect the soft tissue from getting hurt. But it also works as glue, so they can crawl vertically and not fall down. Wow! Just proves that noone knows everything, even if they think they do!!! ((Not that I ever thought I did! )


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Autism – Not the end of the world

Have your child just been diagnosed with Autism and for the life of  you, you have no understanding how they got to this conclusion? Does it feel like your life has just come to an end? Do you sit and look at your child, who you up till yesterday, thought was just as normal as everyone else, and can’t keep back the tears, because now it seems he/she is not the same person anymore? Do you sit and wonder, “Quid Nunc”, what now?

At the end of the 1980s, an acquaintance had a baby girl. She was a strange little baby, because if you were asked to hold her, you were also instructed that you must not let her see your face, you had to carry her so she looked outwards, at people. Carrying her, with her back against your chest, you were warned, “do not let her see her mother, and realize it is not her mother carrying her!” Things got more bizarre. On Sundays I visited the family, and she would be in a walker, but she did not move in it, and her head would tip backwards at times, but she had no strength, to lift it up. You had to help her. Likewise when it tipped forward. I left the country, but a few years later, I came back for a visit and went to visit the family. She had been diagnosed with Autism and she would not stay in the house when people came to visit, but run out and sit in the family car, listening to the radio. Or she would sit in her room and scream. Strange people upset her world. She had no language. She was the girl-in-the-bubble.

This is all the experience with Autism that I have personally had, up till now, you could say. When I studied at an US University, my teacher in psychology devoted one lesson, to Autism. I will never forget it. His final words were, after letting us see a film with children sitting banging their heads with their hands or against the wall, that “Autistic children belong in institutions! You can’t have a child like that at home. No parent have the strength and energy, to take care of such a child, 24 hours a day. Professionals are needed because they come in and do a shift, and then go home! They are trained to look after such a child for a few hours, and in an institution you can keep furniture and routines in the same place and way. You can’t do that at home, ever.”

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was petrified throughout, that I would receive a child with Down’s Syndrome or Autism. I could not imagine a worse fate! And I have felt the same way, with every child. In retrospect, and with all the knowledge I now have, I know that I more or less have raised one child, already with Autism or within the Autism spectra. But he never was tested nor diagnosed, I was just told that something was wrong with him. Then one son was diagnosed with ADHD, and I realized that even if you hold a newborn baby in your arms, who looks just normal, things can appear later on, and by then, the baby or child has won your heart and you have already learned to cope.

In March, I sat in front of a psychologist and a special ed teacher and was told that my little sweet pea, who we have never considered abnormal in any way, except that his speech has been very late (But then his two brothers have also been late. He has been the latest, but his 7-year-old brother was later and his brother with ADHD was late. ), is in fact Autistic according to their tests. I could not believe what I heard and that there was basically no hope for him, but that he will just need all sorts of help. I went home depressed and felt entirely gloomy about it all. His siblings just shook their heads and said, it was all a mistake and that the people at BUP are insane or something. Because they really have not seen what we see here at home.

Perhaps he has Autism according to all the new criteria? How do I know? And fine, if it helps to have a diagnosis in order to receive extra help in school, he can have the diagnosis. Because I know my child. He is the sweetest little angel. He is always happy. He gives me the only happiness I have in life. And nothing heals better than his hugs and kisses! The last two weeks I have come to the realization that the diagnosis, is just what we make it! First of all, they have declared that he can not speak, that he is just like a parrot, and only repeats what he has heard said, before. That he has no deeper understanding of language. If anyone heard him talk, they would ask for the personnel at BUP and the speech therapist to have their heads examined. He does talk, he does keep conversations, and he does come up with the most clever statements that noone has conveyed to him, so they are the result of his own thinking. They said that since he does not understand language and what it is for, colours mean nothing to him. I bring up colours, because yesterday I sat and observed him in church. I have been keeping him busy in church with a quiet book, tiny smurfs, sticker books, but a week ago, he wanted to colour. He did not want to colour in his brothers’ “Spiderman” colouring books, and finally he settled on a boring “Curious George” one while “Boo” sat and coloured in “Cookie’s” ‘Hello Kitty’ one. That one has simpler drawings in it and strong black lines, so when “Boo” abandoned it, “Gubby” asked me if he was allowed to colour in it as well. I nodded my head, since she doesn’t use it. But I realized that it would be more fun, to have something more boyish, to colour. “Hello Kitty” after all is just white, so not much to colour there.

Last time, I was with “Cookie” at the dentist, we bought these amazing coloured pencils for him, since I have noticed that he doesn’t have the right pressure when colouring with coloured pencils. When you don’t press, you don’t get colour, and it is not very fulfilling to colour in a picture and not see a colourful result! This one brand, is very expensive, but you do not have to press at all, and you get a lush creamy colourful look at once. Never felt or seen anything like it. It is made by “Stabilo”. The effect resemble oil crayons. You can buy a box, for an arm and a leg, or just do what I did, get three for a rebated price. I bought six primary colours and knew this would suffice for his needs. The other day, I went in at the local toy shop and bought him a colouring book with strong outlines, called “Lorries and other vehicles that move”. Yesterday, Sunday, was inauguration day. He sat so quietly and fully concentrated on the floor, in front of me, and coloured in the first picture of his choice and I made the following reflection: He might not know that imagethe colour red is called red, and the colour blue is called blue BUT look at his picture! First of all, his two-year older brother can not stay inside the lines like this. Secondly, his brother does not fill out the space. Thirdly, his brother will make everything in just one colour. But “Gubby”, as you can tell, fills the things in and look at it: He KNOWS that the tree trunk is brown, the leaves are green, the sun is yellow, the water is blue. Alright, he can’t go in to a shop and try on a red shirt and ask “do you have this in blue instead?” but he is five years old and what do they know at BUP about his learning abilities? And can he not function anyway? Can he not just point at something and say, do you have that colour instead? (Above, you can see the pencils. They are thick, so you have to use a special sharpener for them, and it does not show how thick they are here but let’s say, they are really easy for a child to hold! He holds them like one should hold a pencil, not the weird grip that he uses, when the pencils are skinny and gives him no strength to put pressure on the paper.) He was frustrated when he did not have the right colour for the bird, so he turned to me and asked me “can I use this for the bird?”, showing the skin colour pencil I bought so he could colour humans. I nodded. I guess I will have to save up for grey, maybe purple and orange?

Another thing which has happened this past week, is that he has found his oldest brother’s animal book. I bought it 24 years ago and someone left it outside years ago. So it got wet. I was on my way to throwing it away last year, when the children opposed such an action. So we kept it, even though it is all warped and some pages had stuck together, and when I opened them, they got rip marks. He crawled up beside me one day, opened the first page and pointed at the first imageanimal and said: Cat, second: Dog, third: horse. While he did this, he made the sounds. Then on the fourth picture he said: “Hen and you get eggs from it!” I could not believe my ears, and pointed at the next picture of the cow. What is that? “A cow”. What can you get from her? “Milk!”. One part of the IQ-test that he failed was when the psychologist asked “What do you get from a cow? What do you get from a hen?”. “Gubby” was not even paying attention to the questions. Had the psychologist showed him PICTURES he would have been able to say what animal is what and what you get from them!!!! So what is the point with IQ-tests? Is there something wrong with seeing life in pictures instead of in abstract terms? What F. and L. will never know, is that my son full well knows that a cow gives us milk and a hen gives us eggs. And sitting with this book now, every day, he is learning that a chicken can not fly even though it is a bird and that most animals are pretty boring. We actually have some funny conversations which I wish I could have recorded! His favourite pages are the two following imageones. If you look at the bottom left, you notice a moose. This animal fascinates “Gubby”. He likes it a lot and would like to be one, he says. He asks me all sorts of questions. “Mamma was does he do? What does he sound like?”. This last question is a favourite of his, since I haven’t got a clue but I have told him, I think it sort of sounds like a cow so we do a deep cow sound. (He actually want to know what all animals sound like and some we just sort of wiggle our noses for, since they are silent.) Yes, what does a moose do? “He is King of the Forest and he just walks around and checks out his domains and eat leaves from bushes. He is not very exciting I’m afraid!” Another favourite on this spread is the reindeer. “Can he fly, mamma?”. Hmmmm! I have decided to not break his heart, so my answer has so far been “Santa Claus has a couple of these living with him, and THEY can fly, but all the others can just walk and run.” What do they do? “They are boring and just eat!”

imageWhy is the above spread such a favourite? He laughs with delight and with rascalness in his eyes when we get to this part, because I tell him to quickly close the book. “Mamma doesn’t like animals like that! Snakes make my skin crawl and gives me goose bumps, frogs are gross, I can’t stand the mouse’s disgusting tail and lizards are creepy!”. He laughs and wants to know what they do? What they eat? Well, “the snake is sunning himself and will eat the mouse”. And “Gubby” told me himself that the mouse eats cheese and the frog eats flies, so he has that under control! When he has studied the book by himself for a while, and I am doing something, he comes up behind me, and pushes this page on my body, giggles and says “I am putting the snake on you, mamma!” and every time it is the same thing: I scream since I can’t stand to look at the picture, having snake-phobia, and I definitely do not want the picture to touch me, because it makes me think of the real, horrible things!!!! But he thinks it is soooooo funny! Silly mamma!  (Can’t even believe I put the picture on my blog and in my post, I feel like I am going to hyperventilate!)

Every evening, my husband takes the children to the council pool. He, D. and “Cookie”, swims 200 meters every day, so one of them might win a towel. Every week they do a lottery, with everyone in it, who have swam 200 meters. The more days you swim, the more chances to win the towel! “Gubby” so much wants to be with his dad who is hardly ever home, so he sticks to him. Our five-year old can not swim. But he is not afraid of water. And since noone is in the middle pool, he doesn’t want to be there. He goes in with the rest in the deep pool where he can’t touch the bottom on either end. Friday and Saturday, T. came home and said, “Gubby” has dog paddled all of 200 meters today, so we have signed him up for a towel. All ways to move are good ways, right?”. I can’t say that I am excited about him being in the deep pool. But he loves water just like the other fish in the family. And I must say that I am all amazement. 200 meters is far. 8 times back and forth in the 25 meter pool. Dog paddling!

What do I want to say with this post? For all of you out there, with children diagnosed with Autism, who thinks the child’s life just ended with the diagnosis: Look at my son! Never underestimate what your Autistic child can do! More and more I am coming to think that: Isn’t Autism just another way of doing things? Choosing one’s own path? “Gubby” sure is! He knows the colours in his own way. He knows what species an animal is when he sees one and he knows what they do or produce. And he can dog paddle all of 200 meters which makes him entitled to both a towel and a badge. (Last year’s badge, no picture of 2014′s yet on the internet.)imageNot bad for a child who has been declared having a low IQ by the special ed teacher at BUP (psychologist did not confirm this)!!! And you know what,  his development is by no means standing still. New things happen every day.


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A miracle called a Giraffe

Many, many years ago, I decided to follow my heart and my convictions, and join a church and religion that my family did not approve of, nor were interested in joining themselves. My sister declared one day out of the blue, don’t know why (maybe she thought I would try to convert her?), that she is an atheist and believe that we come from monkeys. I did not take the bait and ask who created them then? I just thought it strange that two sisters can believe such different things. Now, my son, who recently graduated from gymnasium, have had to sit in a classroom, with atheists for three years and listen to all their anti-religion propaganda and accusations. But why am I bringing all this up?

I slept in this morning, but when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I decided that the best way to start the day, was to get the Sunday school lesson out-of-the-way. We keep my gigantic church bag which contains everything from crayons, folders for all the pupils in the class, lesson book and so on, in the corner, out-of-the-way, in the sitting room. I walked over and started digging for note-book, Sunday school book, a picture of Samson tearing down the building to kill the Philistines in it, my pen and finally grabbing my scripture bag. But while I was doing this, a children’s documentary came on TV. And I started listening in. It was all about giraffes. When they mentioned how far, the little giraffe baby has to fall when being born, I turned around because this I wanted to see. It looked imageawful, the poor thing dropping several meters and then trying to stand up, just falling straight over with the long neck. I sat there and said “oh, poor thing”. “Gubby” who had been doing his little gallop on the deck outside, came in to see what I was “oh-ing and ah-ing” about. So, we both sat down on the sofa, he on my lap, and we commented on everything.

They sure are absolutely amazing. At first, the baby spends all the time in seclusion with its mother, but then the narrator said that it joins “the day care” imagewhere all the mothers help watching out for dangers, protecting the babies in a group. He called it the baby’s “skyscraper family”. Funny description. They also showed the absent father, who abandons all his ladies, after the “romantic” act, in search of new females. It showed how they only sleep, for ten minutes at a time, because nothing else is safe. Some giraffes sleep, laying down, while others guard. All very interesting but here comes the most interesting part of all:

All long-necked animals have 7 vertebrates. Even the giraffes. They are just longer, more stretched out. When they need to drink, they have to bend somehow and it is not enough to bend the long neck, they still do not reach the water, so they have to almost go down in a split. Bending down like they do, ought to give them a severe head ache, the voice said, since all the blood rush to your head when you do that, BUT in the case of the giraffe, there are breaks all along, for this not to happen. The blood does not rush at all, because of these built-in breaks. They do not stay down drinking for long though, they do not feel imagesafe enough for that, so they soon have to stand up again, to check what is going on around them. This takes enormous effort, according to narrator. According to nature, the giraffe would pass out, raising its head and neck, BUT once again, it does not happen because its extra big heart, will pump extra hard and give the body a boost, so it can do it without harm. The heart weighing all of 11,5 kilos! Imagine! That is a lot. And the only reason for it being so big, is in order for the giraffe to be able to stand up again after drinking. If that is not amazing, what is? That is when I started to think about these atheists who say that the Earth and everything on it, was NOT created by a God.

Who else could have thought out such a genius thing except a God? If nature had been allowed to rule, the giraffe would have got a head ache out of this world, every time it needed to drink and it would have fainted after every sip of water, when it needed to look for dangers. But that is not at all what happens, is it? Everything is thought of in close detail, everything works perfectly to save that species, just like with every other species on this planet. How can one say that this just happened by co-incidence? Things like this, do not! There is a great plan behind it.

If this had not impressed me and “Gubby”, the next thing certainly did. It talked imageabout the Acacia tree, that is their main food. The tree has thorns, to protect it from animals eating on it. But I guess it is supposed to be food for giraffes, because their fur, work like a shield, and their lips have extra thick texture to the, so the thorns don’t hurt. And their long tongues easily avoid the thorns, going around them. But the tree has more protection. The leaves, contain gall acid, that would give you and me, terrible indigestion and stomach cramps. And not only that, the trees communicate. If a giraffe starts eating leaves on one tree, the leaves go more acid on that tree. To protect itself, it steps up the acid production. It also sends out a gas to warn the other trees, so they can step up the production of acid as well, protecting themselves from eaters. Has anyone noticed how giraffes drool? They even have built-in protection against the Acacia tree’s second defense mechanism. Their saliva contains exactly what they need to break down that gall acid, in the leaves, in order to safely eat them and walk off happily and content, without indigestion and pain.

As a little side note, they also know that eating the leaves, will not give their imagebodies all the nutrition, they need. They also need minerals, so if they find a bone, on the ground, they will pick it up and suck on it, to get the minerals. And if there are no bones to suck on, they will lick the ground! No nutritionist tells them what they need, to stay healthy, they just know and do it. Perfect!

“Gubby” sat and watched everything closely, and got upset when it looked like imagethe thorns were hurting the giraffes or when the birds who landed on them and ate ticks, also looked like they were hurting them. He did not really understand what the narrator said, and just looked at the film, so I had to act interpreter for what was happening the entire time. But even he, who is so young, realized that this is all very fantastic. The ways the animal world exist and goes on year after year. He thought it was terrible when the giraffe kicked a lion, till I explained, that the lion wanted to eat her baby, and by kicking the lion, she made the lion go away.

So, if you ever start doubting that there is a God and that he created the world and everything on it, start studying one of his creations, like the giraffe, and you will soon understand that this was no accident, this was no coincident, this was made by a master architect with intimate knowledge of how everything in the world functions and is connected, organs, bodies, nature…

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Doddington Hall and the Antiques Road Trip

At around 18:00 every evening, my husband comes home from work and takes off for the council pool with the children. Come rain, come shine. No weather bothers them, as long as they get to be in water. I do NOT go swim at that hour! The sun no longer is out to heat up the pool water, nor does it shine so hard that I am perspiring. I stay home, unless it is a Saturday and we go in the middle of the day. Which is something D. does not like, since he does not want anyone else in the exercise lane of the pool, and T. prefers going late when hardly anyone is in the pool for the same reason plus there is fewer children for our children to get in to fights with. Because all children at the pool fight over big “toys” in the pool, to sit on, jump from etc. And some children, just like at the playground, seem to go there just to find someone to pick a fight with. That is why, I do not go alone with the children earlier in the day, when it would have been nice to cool off. Because T. speaks English with the children, the retards of this village, avoid him. They are NOT going to try to talk English to him. Nor will they ball him out for having awful children, in Swedish, since they assume he will not understand anyway. But me. That is another matter. I speak Swedish with the children, so they come and bite my head off with a worse than better than thou attitude. So much one would want them napalmed on the spot!!! The things, especially mothers in their 40s, have screamed at me! They go to the pool in fancy hairdos and make up and show how good parents they are since they scream at me. They of course have to prove themselves to be such since they always work night and day. At the pool the chance to prove themselves suddenly opens up, when their sweet angels get in to brawls. What has happened to people in Sweden? What makes people think that social rules no longer apply? Or is it this age group, who feels that they by age are now beyond social rules and can do as they please? Age gives privileges? They even stand up and defend their big fat teenagers against that wild 10-year-old boy or the wild 7-year-old. Telling their awful mother who should have known better than bringing such children to the pool, one thing and another. The more they rail in to me, the better they feel about themselves!!!

No, I stay home, so that those cows can give my family dirty looks, but nothing more. And I have discovered a fun TV program to watch while they are gone. The Antique Road Trip, where two antique experts or even auctioneers, travel around Britain in vintage cars, buying antiques. They start each week with a new couple and they each have 200 pounds to spend. They stop in little villages and towns, on a stretch of country, in one of the shires. It seems like they are allowed to make as many or as few purchases as they like. And boy do they haggle over the prices. I could never do something like that. Today this woman wanted 225 pounds for a sugar shaker in silver filigree with a blue glass inside of it. (Sorry, difficult to describe things.) Charlie something, haggled and walked out with having paid 70 pounds for it! At the end of the program, they arrive at an auction house and they sell all their items there. Sometimes at a loss, sometimes they earn lots. And that is where the competition comes in, to see who has won that episode, and at the end of the week, you have a final winner.

I like the program because you get to see some of the most amazing items. And I always sit wondering why people go to auctions, when they could have gone to the antique markets or shops, and bought the items, much cheaper. Like the man who walked away having paid 80 pounds for a 1918 Trench Watch with a spring that did not work, when the expert Paul had bought it for 11 pounds! His fellow competitor, Tom, made some bad purchases though. He always fell for jewelry which he paid an arm and a leg for, and then women or men, walked off with them for 10-20 pounds. THEN it was better buying the jewelry at auction than in the shops!!!

imageToday, the antiques bought were not the most interesting items on the show though, but the Elizabethan country house Doddington Hall. Beautiful house which has always been in private ownership, the show said. The current owner, showed the older Charlie competitor around, and she showed the most amazing catalogue an ancestor had made. He loved buying tea cups, it seemed, and every time he bought a new one for his collection, he painted it in this sort of diary, always on the left sides, and wrote the details of the purchase on the right side of the spread. Just beautiful artwork! Funnier to have than the actual cups, in my view! Unfortunately, I can’t find any pictures at all, from what she showed Charlie. Sad that they have not put it up on the internet.

She then took him to a funny room the family had always called the forgotten room. Things they did not know what to do with, things they did not need anymore but did not want to throw away. He loved the room and so did I! She took out the funniest looking vacuum cleaner which must have been the first on the market. It looked like one of those things you pump up an air mattress with! Charlie laughed and so did I, because it would have been a nightmare even to vacuum one room with one of those things. What a pity I can’t find a photo of that either! And she showed a pair of Victorian or Edwardian roller skates. Think, that they even dared to get on one of those things! Scarier than being on ice skates, and you tied them on your feet. No picture I found on the internet matched what she showed and she assured him, that she had never tried them, since she was sure they would kill her.

I have no idea if they let you see all those funny and quirky items, they showed on the TV-program, if you go for a visit, but if they do, it sure would be a funny place to visit. I actually went in on their home page and it seems to be a quite large enterprise. A big garden, which looked just lovely on the photos, and a nice shop selling all sort of foods, clothes and interior design things. I know what I would have looked for: A copy of that catalogue with the hand painted teacups on every other page!  One of these days, maybe when the boys are older and wiser, I would like to go on a road trip to Britain and drive around and see all the fantastic gardens and country houses, I have dreamt of visiting and have on a mental wish list. Like Vita Sackville-West’s white garden in Kent in full bloom, and …

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Thoughts on family and who has the right to family photos and documents?

I woke up this morning feeling upset. It has been so warm in the bedroom that I have been up a couple of times, to the loo, between nightmares and sleeping uncomfortably. The girls have stolen every single hair elastic in the house, even though I have bought several packages for myself. There is no respect for my belongings at all, including the Atkins bar, which E. has stolen from the cupboard, since she is the only person who would do such a thing. I had been looking forward to eating that this morning and my husband just sent me an SMS that he had been tempted all week but made sure not to rob me of the pleasure. Right, it is in my daughter’s belly!

As if that is not bad, that I am raising a thief who will not understand, even after all the lessons on honesty and that “thou shalt not steal” and that we follow the ten commandments in our religion, then my thoughts wandered to my aunt. Don’t know why. I did translate her horrid letter, on this blog, back at the beginning of the year, when I had had the audacity of sending another family photo with a Christmas card and also had included a little letter telling her what we are all up to. Finally the truth came out, that she hates children, meaning she has no interest in seeing mine grow every year, and that she is sick and tired of being asked to help out, by family members. She especially has resented my mother all these years.

Yes, I am HSP, I admit it. In other words, I am a highly Sensitive Person, one of those people who do not really fit in to this world, one of those who feels deeper than others and who can not let go. Not to say that I hold grudges. That is not the same thing at all. No, the pain felt when someone hurts you, doesn’t go away. And you keep on moling the thing over and over and over in your mind. You can’t let go of the thoughts. Why did she write that letter? Why now? Talk about passive aggressiveness. Not telling my mother how she really felt about her actions in the 1950s, 1960s and finally in the 1970s. And all the years after that. If you really dislike a person that much and hold so much resentment, why not tell the person to get out of your life for good? I grew up not ever meeting this aunt of mine. My dad did not want to see her, nor his older sister, until he had had his accident. At this point, I realize that he had his reasons. His family always were a nasty lot.

But my thoughts this morning have not really concerned my aunt’s feelings for her sister-in-law. That is something between them. None of my business really. I am not going to defend any of my mother’s actions since she has always been the worse passive-aggressive person I have ever known. She has messed up my entire life with it, thank you. These two old women will go to their graves with their weirdo personalities and never sort out their differences. Both of them having talked garbage about each other to other people, but not to each other’s faces. Which they ought to have done. Cleared the air once and for all, and then they could have decided what to do next. Never see each other again or try to build something on mutual respect?

No, my feelings this morning concerned the fact of Christmas cards. Do I send one to her this year? After what she said? She obviously sees an enemy in all her extended family, not realizing that with all her illnesses, she has not been able to help ANYONE with anything ever. For heavens sake, she has been retired during all the years I have known her, and that is 35 years. And why? Because she has never ever recovered from childhood polio. All these years she has been on what is called sick retiredness. Quite different from ordinary retirement since you have been declared unfit for all sort of work. So what makes her think that she has  been helping people all these years and that she has been abused by us all? It is just beyond me. What is it she is supposed to have helped us with? And more over, why is sending a family photo and a newsletter, asking for help and being abusive?

What has she helped us with? She has set foot in our house, all of three. The first time, we invited her to spend Christmas with us since I thought it ghastly for someone to have to sit alone on Christmas Eve, when everyone celebrate with their families. But I could tell she was uncomfortable. She enjoyed the food alright. But the children receiving Christmas presents from “Tomten”, was too much for her to handle. Her never having had children of her own and her not knowing that many presents doesn’t have to mean having spent a fortune, depending on HOW one shops and WHERE  and at WHAT time of the year. She was horrified. In her mind, she was still living her childhood Christmases after her dad had abandoned the family and refusing to pay alimony. They were dirt poor and of course hardly received anything at Christmas. But you can not compare can you? Other times, other values. Sad but that is how things are. I regretted having invited her, since I wanted it to be a happy day and evening and I am not happy when someone makes me feel guilty over trying to spoil my children a little at Christmas, trying to satisfy their deepest wishes on a very, very slim budget. I wanted to see their faces light up with surprise and happiness, not look at her disapproving one. We decided to not repeat the invitation for Christmas Eve again, but invited her for Christmas Day, the following year, which she declined.

The second time, she came, she did so uninvited. She just came walking down the street one day and I was in shock. The house was not cleaned and I do like to prepare for someone’s visit. We sat and talked. She had sewn a ball for E. which she kept throwing to E. and I thought she was having a nice time. Till a year later when she phoned us and asked if we wanted an old cupboard of my grandmother’s, which she was going to throw away. She was moving and did not want to bring it along. We drove up to her place and met her ex-husband. A man she divorced over 40 years ago. He was mentally unstable, so she did not want to be married to him, which is understandable, but they did socialize from time to time, picking berries together and making “saft” from them. I had always been curious about him, since I had never met him before, but I was not impressed. As soon as we walked in, T., the children and I, he and my aunt put on helmets. He turned to E. and said “so you are the one who hits people on the head!”. E. looked at me and I had no idea what they were talking about. She was only about four at the time, and from the discussion that ensued, I found out that E. had hit my aunt on the head with a toy, to get attention. A year earlier. And they put on helmets! Honestly, she wasn’t seriously injured but people do get odd when they have never had children of their own.

The last time we saw my aunt, was when she came home to us, to help us build stairs leading in to the house. T. had bought all the material, with the help of expert advice at the local hardware shop. They had counted out everything for him. He had rented the tools. And why? Well, we had used building gratings for years, since we never had the money to pay for ready-made, two steps entrance stairs, in stone. She had suggested she come and help, since she had built many stairs before. So that time she did help. A little. She stood beside T. as moral support, as he did all the work. And this she calls abusing her? And all the while she stood there, she wore her helmet. After that visit, she never came here again and we have never gone down to see her, since she does not want to catch anything from our children. She lives in a two room flat, crowded with furniture, so it is not really the sort of place that you bring active children to either.

imageThe only thing I have ever asked her for help with, is answering questions about the family. When I asked if I could borrow some photos to have them copied, she would not allow it. She told me she would have them copied which has not happened. And of course she has strange ideas about family. I just wrote to my British penfriend who doesn’t own a computer even, that when my grandmother died, she left behind her a very big correspondence. Something she had kept because she wanted it saved right? At the probate, Alva asked that she get all the letters and my mother, being there as my guardian and frankly was not looking out for my sister’s and my interests, did not oppose, nor did the two sisters. So Alva took the letters, ripped off the stamps and threw away ALL the letters because my grandmother’s life “was noone else’s business!”. I will never forgive her for that, nor will her mother beyond the grave! My grandmother cared for history and to preserve the old. She had saved the letters for a purpose! Her whole life was thrown away by a daughter who believes in re-incarnation and says she has lived eight of her nine lives as a nun. Yes, Alva definitely has a screw loose.

Maybe I have started to think about all this since I just finished Nurse Edith Appleton’s diaries from the WWI war front. If she and others had not written diaries, that war would have been just numbers of dead and strategies during the different campaigns or battles. Noone would have know what the soldiers really went through and how they felt about things. Nor would anyone had known what women felt about men dying like flies around them, creating a new social situation never seen before. At the end of her diary, her family begs people to send them missing parts of the diaries, if they happen to have them among their belongings. I can understand them. Nurse Appleton never had children of her own, marrying at the age of 49, but her siblings’ children and grandchildren see the value of her experiences and her diaries. Their parents and grandparents might not have left a trace of themselves, but she did, and she becomes the link to their own families.

That is why Alva did not have the right to throw away those letters. My imagegrandmother is a great mystery to me. As a trained professional genealogist, I know that dates of births, marriages and deaths means nothing. It does not say a thing about the person. What we all want to know, is what that ancestor of ours was really like. What they felt, believed in, what they tought about things happening in their own lives but also in the world around them. As a genealogist I know that we are always grabbing at straws. Some have proliferate ancestors who have left diaries and letters behind. Others have struggled through life and not bothered to write down the slightest thing. They will only ever be a name in the statistics of a country, a name on a paper. Nothing more. A lot of us want to be more than that.

So, the only thing I ever asked of Alva, she did not help me with. And yet she accused me in her letter to be just like the others. Abusing her kindness. Every time I put out sausage and macaronies, a standard dish in all Swedish homes, her words ring in my ears, how my mother had the gall to feed her with this food, that lacks all nutrition. So the entire Swedish population is feeding their children food without nutrition. Every week those words come back to me and then the rest of the letter and my offended feelings. What am I to do? How do I get it off my chest? Write her a letter back? What is the point? She is set in her mind. Her helmet-clad head was proof of that if nothing else. Perhaps she is not as lonely as I thought. Perhaps she quite hates the rest of the world and just wants to be alone? Maybe letters and cards from relatives are offensive to her, because she does not want to receive anything from anyone? Is she a martyr who wants to sit and feel sorry for herself, for being abandoned, and if we send her things, then we ruin her image of herself?

I just can’t understand how someone can miss the spirit of Christmas, so utterly and entirely? People who have no contact with each other during the rest of the year, dig out their address books and start writing Christmas cards to those old friends from the past and family members. It is a family oriented holiday. We, most of us, is filled with a happy feeling, the waiting for Christmas is almost over. The time of the year, when God so loved his children that he sent his only Son to us, as a gift. Without him and his life, his sacrifice, we would never be able to come back and live with God. And even if most of the Swedish population does not even believe in this anymore, or sadly enough, are clueless about it, we all share this warm happy feeling. We do know that it is a time of sharing. A time to show love for our neighbour. And it starts with those Christmas cards, the simplest way to say that we are not so fully absorbed in the Christmas shopping, the making of the ham or turkey, the baking, the concert going… that we do not have time to think about our fellow-man and sending them a thought. Such a small gesture. It doesn’t cost very much. A good deed in many cases. And even if someone has gone through a lot of trouble picking the right card, or even making one, a simple card off the supermarket bargain bin, still is saying something. I care about you.

So how can Alva think that a Christmas card is a burden? A demand for help? How can she read something ugly in to a Christmas card, a family photo and a newsletter? How is it possible to read anything in to it except a niece caring for her, wanting to tell her that she is not alone in the world, that some people actually think about her, and that family is the most important thing we have here on earth. Our family is so small. It was never close. My sister lives in Australia, and I can’t really accuse her of caring for us more than her friends. She even wrote me an e-mail two-three days before D. graduated (11 June) and said she was coming to Sweden the day before his graduation, to see if my mum has had a stroke. She added that she would contact me. That was almost a month ago now. We all assume that she did not come after all, that she came to her senses, and made some phone calls instead. After all, they would have contacted me if something had happened and they have not. But it is just typical for our family. People avoid each other, do things out of duty instead of genuine love, and why? What makes some families close-knit and others like strangers? Our prophet says, or one of the ones now deceased, “a family that prays together stays together”. I don’t know if it is that simple? But I do know that my mum has a sister and two nieces and two nephews. And all contact with them was basically broken in 1992. My dad had three sisters, one niece and three nephews, and there has not been any contact with them since 1979, when my dad and grandmother passed away, except with the above mentioned Alva. Some family.

But, we did not pray together, that is for sure. And, nor is my new British penfriend, who contacted me through an ad I put in on a penfriend site, a year ago. The problem of family history and who has the right to documents and photos, is not a problem restricted to my family. She is fighting hard to become the custodian of the family photos, since she is the only one interested in family history and genealogy. Why it is, that people do not understand that ONE person interested in preserving the family heritage, should be appointed to be the guardian of the family “heirlooms”, is beyond me. It doesn’t mean that the person becomes the owner of the items. A custodian, a guardian, a safe-keeper, that means something quite different. It means a preserver of things which are intended to be passed on to future generations! The things should not go to someone who throws things away. Nor should it go to a “Gollum”-like person who sits on the items, treasuring them and not sharing them with the world. In this day and age, a custodian of heritage items, really has no excuse for not putting them on the internet for all to see. Photos, diaries and letters are there for sharing. Nurse Appleton’s siblings’ descendents have the right idea, when they have set up a site for her. The history of our ancestors, do not belong to one person. It belongs to everyone in the extended family and in some cases, to the world.

My husband’s mother was of the opinion that all family photos belonged to her. Months before she died, she wrote a testament which cut my husband out of inheriting a single thing from her. Him being the only son, the only remaining family of hers, except her mother’s siblings, made this a very tragic thing. Every little thing of hers, went to her stockbrokers Jeff and Kathryn Hobgood.  They took what was of value for them and then had a car boot sale. All family photos went in to a bin, no doubt, because why would anyone have bought them? People in church, found out too late, so they could not help my husband and go and save the photos or buy them for us. All gone. No photos of his family nor his dad, remain as far as we know. Is this right? And when my maternal grandmother died, the two daughters split the albums between them. Is that right, since we now have no contact, so the photos can’t be shared? And my sister having secretly ripped out some photos from my mum’s share of the albums, to make copies for herself. Are the originals back in the albums? Haven’t a clue! It seems, that I am not one of them who are going to be able to write my family’s history, because my family consist of possessive people, who rather own, than share our shared heritage, and who more and more remind me of the seagulls in “Finding Nemo”: MINE! MINE! MINE!



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“Boo” with the BUP doctor: Which letter combination does he have?

Time had come to visit the doctor this morning, so he could try to figure out what letter combination “Boo” has or if it is Autism. The appointment paper, sent to us, said it would take an hour and I put on parking for 75 minutes just to make sure I would not get a parking ticket. Once again, I was asked all the questions, and I really feel like the worse mother. I finally told the doctor, had I known that I would be asked all these questions over and over again, for child after child, I would have kept notebook after notebook for every child. I would have recorded every single little thing. Date of crawling, date of walking, date of first word, what that word was, if he picks his nose with his left hand, if he points and looks at you at the same time, if he put cars in a row beside each other when he was interested in cars, if small details interested him …

It is all a blur after seven children and three miscarriages. After years of unhealth and terrible fatigue. My husband’s malignant melanoma. Our “sick” oldest son who at 24 is still a teenage rebel with every symptom of Autism. LIFE! If your child does not act weird or learns things eventually, you just do not memorize them. And I did keep records of things, on loose little pieces of paper, that have spread like the wind in our over-crowded two-floor house. And what does it really, really matter if he picks his nose with his left hand? Or what his first word was? How does it help him in social situations to know those things? What does it solve? Nothing! After an hour, “Boo” was bored stiff and interrupting more and more. And I had to take off suddenly to put more money in to the machine, since the appointment was for TWO hours instead of the one stated. I missed some of the physical examination, but everything was alright body wise. The problems started when he had to do coordinated things. Like skipping in an Indian dance, with left leg, right arm up and the reverse. He couldn’t do it and I had to tell him that “Boo” had a tough time learning how to bicycle and he still does not have the swimming down, since it is tough for him to coordinate arms and legs to do two different things at the same time.

I also had to tell him that he is extremely sensitive in his red hair, screaming b-y murder when we give him a hair cut. And that he can not feel when he has put the shoes on the wrong feet, the trousers backwards and shirt likewise. And he can not smell when he has peed on himself during the night! His smelling sense is really poor.

It is difficult to make an assessment of how it went at the meeting and the physical examination. The doctor, asked him to play in his office, while we spoke outside the door, and he asked me straight out, if I had considered a diagnosis of some kind. If I suspect something. I had to say that I haven’t got a clue. If anything, ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. But the psychologist said that it is a symptom of something deeper. That you don’t just have that and nothing else.  And he doesn’t fully fit in on all the symptoms for that either. The doctor doesn’t feel he fits in entirely on ADHD either, so the testing will go on. Is he just a late developer? A typical hotheaded redhead? He is not easily diagnosed. The doctor says that he is developmentally late but he did not seem overly worried that he will not be able to do things in time. I guess we will just have to see what is being said on the 11 September when he gets his diagnosis. I did point out that they really should go and observe him in action, at school. Talk to his teachers, see how he interacts in the classroom, look at what it is that makes him stand up and leave the room or that forces him to wear headphones in the classroom. So far, the psychologist has not mentioned doing this at all. And I who thought it was standard and part of all testing?!

While, the doctor and I talked, “Boo”, soon eight years old, made this picture of ME for me. Yes, what a perfect portrait. Me to a T. Just how I feel I look. No wonder I can’t stand to look at myself in a mirror.


On a happier note, we drove to the shopping mall, for some miniature smurfs “Cookie” is coveting. They are on a super sale and I bought a set for “Gubby” to play with in church, since they are so tiny and can be easily packed. But she sits and steals them from him so that he squeals.Not the effect I wanted, in a room full of people, trying to get spiritually uplifted with what is said from the “pulpit”.  I bought them for him to sit still and be quietly happy, playing with them. When we got to the toy shop, “Boo” started showing me what he wants for his Birthday in little over a month. Poor “Boo”! You don’t play with toys! He showed a Cowboy hat, a cowboy pistol and holster etc. I don’t know. It feels so hopeless. At the same time, one must give him something to unwrap. In one way one should just give him active things. A scooter? Bubbles to blow? Crafty things? The wish list grew as I picked up some Birthday presents on sale, for his little brother, whose Birthday is not until September. But after all, when they are on sale NOW, why should I not take advantage of that? Especially since they sell them for an arm and a leg on eBay and not at all at Swedish Tradera. So, here is part of what “Gubby” will receive since he just loooooves these right now! His beloved “Postman Pat”, the cat (not pictured), “Selby the policeman” and “Ted Glen”. It will really make his day. So, at least one thing went well today.



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