Saturday, January 21, 2012

Welcome, Isidore!

I gave birth to our fourth son, Isidore Felix Heckman, on Tuesday, January 17.  The birth was amazing.  It was such a different experience from giving birth in the US.  Here in Norway, natural childbirth is much more supported and encouraged than it tends to be in the US.  I was attended to exclusively by midwives (the Norwegian word for midwife literally means "earth mother"), who listened to the baby's heart with a wooden instrument rather than an electronic fetal monitor, and who, rather than constantly measuring my "progress," told me that I know better than anyone what's happening with my body and should let them know when I feel close to giving birth.

I labored in a tub of warm water.  I loved it--it was relaxing and provided wonderful pain relief.  I ended up giving birth in the water as well--it was such a beautiful experience.


The boys are thrilled about their new brother.  They adore little Izzy and, though Sergio still has some things to learn about babies, Jonah and Oscar are both amazingly sweet and gentle with him.  They both spend long stretches of time just holding him quietly and admiring him.



My parents are here from Minnesota.  They planned to come in time to watch the kids while the baby was being born, but they arrived from the airport just minutes after a very helpful neighbor had already rushed over to watch our boys and we had already rushed off to the clinic.  We were really surprised that arriving two days before my due date didn't get my mom and dad here in plenty of time...My other babies had all been born about two weeks late, so I just figured that my oven baked at a lower temperature and that this baby would also come well after my due date.  At any rate, Grandma and Grandpa are very happy to have gotten here in time to meet Isidore, their 18th grandchild:

Thanks to all of you who sent us congratulations and good wishes.  Baby Isidore sends you a big "Hello!"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Best Birthday Ever!

Jonah had a fantastic 8th birthday yesterday.  He kept saying, "This is the best birthday ever!"

I made him a cake on Friday that he was very pleased with.  We decorated it with characters that I cut from a Super Mario poster and that Davin laminated:

Super Mario Bros. Cake
Jonah's big day started with the breakfast he had requested--all-you-can-eat pancakes and bacon.  I'd been up late the night before making dozens and dozens and dozens of pancakes, but it was well worth it--Jonah deemed it "the best breakfast ever."  

Next we went to an amazing water park called Vannkanten.  We swam and played for nearly eight hours straight, stopping only for a really fun lunch ("the best pizza ever," Jonah thought):

Lunch at Peppe's Pizza
The water park was an extremely good time:

Sergio put in nearly a full day's work in this kiddie pool...

...Though he did take some time off to go on water slides with Davin.
Oscar and Davin (barely visible through the steam) in an OUTDOOR POOL (Brrr!)

One of the slides spits you out onto a giant disk where you spin around and around until falling through a hole in the center (only Davin got to try it--no little kids or pregnant ladies allowed).
A friendly dancing dolphin gave the kids guns...We weren't sure if anyone would believe us, but it's true!

The Birthday Boy with his Brothers
When we got home, we had dinner and cake and Jonah opened his presents, including a ream of paper which he declared "the best present ever!" (he loves drawing and is constantly running out of paper).  After spending a few minutes playing with his new gifts and drawing, we all went to bed and slept like LOGS.

Happy Birthday, Jonah!

The next birthday will be Baby Heckman's...I'm just four days away from my due date!

Friday, January 6, 2012

More Celebrations

We've been doing a lot of celebrating lately.  December 29 was my 35th birthday.  We went to the University Museum of Bergen.  Its Cultural History Collections include a super fun activity room for kids.  It's full of costumes and props, including a boat, a tent, a trolley car, a grocery store, and a big castle where kids can play:

Jonah in the Desert

Oscar Slaying a Dragon

Polynesians at Sea

A Horrible Witch

On New Year's Eve day, Jonah and Oscar, who are currently obsessed with Super Mario Bros., fashioned themselves really cute Mario and Luigi costumes (I helped with the mustaches).

Mario & Luigi

 This inspired Davin to bake them a pizza in the shape of a Power Up mushroom:

Power Up!

A neighbor girl came by to let us know that New Year's Eve is the night kids here dress in costume and go house to house singing Christmas carols and collecting candy.  She said that she and lots of other kids would be coming by later and that we should be ready with candy for them.  We weren't...Davin had to run to the store.  Luckily (and by bizarre coincidence), Jonah and Oscar were ready with their costumes, so when the girl came back later with her sister I sent the boys out singing with them.

An Important Norwegian Holiday Tradition:  Trick-or-Treating by Singing Christmas Carols on New Year's Eve
We got a total of about 50 costumed carolers, and only two little girls came singing a Norwegian Christmas song.  All the rest sang the first verse of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (in English).

We had a countdown to what the kids assumed was midnight, but was actually 9:52pm.  We made noise and shouted "Happy New Year" and kissed and drank saft out of fancy glasses.  Then we put the kids to bed.  It was perfect.  But a few minutes after we got them all to bed some neighbors came over and invited us to light fireworks with them, and that was even more perfect.  The boys just pulled coats and boots on over their pajamas and went out and had a really good time (although Sergio did excuse himself after a couple of sparklers and walk back home--he said it was time to go to sleep).

Davin and I saw a great fireworks display right out out our window when the real midnight rolled around.  It was a really nice way to welcome the New Year.

Yesterday was Sergio's 3rd birthday.  He's getting to be so grown up--he can already wink!

He's been planning himself an orange-themed birthday for months now.  Here's a photo of the all-orange dinner we served him:

Sergio's Birthday Dinner - Mac & Cheese, Clementines, Cheese, and Carrot Stars

And this is the cake I baked him according to his specifications (he asked for a yellow cake with white frosting and orange jelly beans):


We'll have tons more to celebrate soon.  Jonah's 8th birthday is coming up on January 14, my parents will be visiting again starting January 17, and the new baby is due January 19!