Biting in the Night

Last night, at approximately 1 AM, Sarah and I awoke to screaming. Hoping that our 6 year old, Milan, had not fallen out of bed with her broken wrist currently healing in a giant purple cast – we raced to the source of the commotion…

5 hours earlier, we happily noted how cute our 5 year old twins were, sleeping next to one another in a queen sized bed. Normally they sleep in their own bed. Mostly because they fight each other like Lisa and Bart Simpson. A week ago, I heard grunting and thumping at bedtime. Walking into their room, I discovered the 2 of them, on the floor, tangled up in sheets and blankets. Maren in her underpants, Hendrick deflecting blows to the head. Both hissing at one another. But until we get them new beds, sharing is caring.

And wouldn’t you know it, the screaming was coming from the twins room. So, while we were happy to see Milan had not fallen out of bed, finding Hendrick wailing like a stuck pig and Maren pouting was not how I envisioned REM sleep. When queried on the source of his pain, the conversation went like this…

Hendrick: Maren bited me!

Me: (stifling a laugh) Maren, did you bite your brother?

Maren: (growling) mmm, YES, but he bited me too!

The use of “bited” of course made me laugh but even more so was my immediate thought that one of them started the fight in their sleep. I can only assume that a hand or foot got flung astray and the offending twin then lashed out with a firm chomping. Which of course was retaliated upon with more teeth. And it’s not out of the question that Hendrick was hungry, the boy never stops eating.

 

They normally share a room and Hendrick is normally the first one asleep. Maren then stays up, singing in French or harassing her brother – throwing “dou dou’s” at him  and insisting he wake up. If she does rouse him, he greets her with mumbled threats and groaning.

 

So my theory is that one of them was rolling around in their sleep which pissed off the other enough to trigger a feeding frenzy. Once my initial frustration of being blasted out of deep sleep went away, I couldn’t stop laughing at these 2 tiny humans biting each other in their sleep.

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A Day in the Life of Perfect Parenting

I had the pleasure of reading this hilarity from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency thanks to my favorite sister-in-law Erin. I highly recommend it for anyone who dabbles in the meditative-chakra-Non GMO-fermented-bountiful universe-wheatgrass smoothie lifestyle. I felt that a response to this article was necessary in the form of how perfect our family is. Specifically regarding the act of our perfect parenting and positive thinking.

 

At 5:30 in the morning, I breathe deeply through my nose as a 5 year old human, named Milan, taps my forehead. The perfect alarm clock. While she claps her hands at me to signal feeding time at the zoo, I spring out of bed and blissfully stroll to the kitchen for breakfast prep. I attribute the fact that my daughter treats me like a trained circus animal to our reverse-helicopter parenting approach. Let them run free and reap what you sow!

 

To start the day off on the right foot I begin to scramble 3 farm fresh, cage free, extra happy, unvaccinated eggs from chickens that roam the alpine pastures of Switzerland. Mid-scramble, the male half of our 4 year old twins – Hendrick – appears. In typical fashion, he is grinning ear-to-ear and gives me a warm hug followed by his morning refrain “Good morning Daddy, I love you, I would like rice, apple fritters and kale chips for breakfast.” To which I reply “Morning CHAMP! You got it!” During this exchange with my son, Milan is informing me that she will be having meatballs and porridge for her morning meal.

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Swiss Family Stender – The Opportunity

My friend Dave made a great suggestion recently regarding this blog. It can be hard to take a step back and think on it, but the past year has been an eventful one for our family. We moved from America with 3 kids under the age of 5 to Switzerland. A lot of words come to mind as I think about the last 12 months – fun, insane, exciting, exhausting but mostly awesome. Dave’s point was that our situation is relatively unusual and there might be other folks out there contemplating something similar. So why not share how it’s gone thus far, how we did it and all the other things that come with it? I love it, so I’ll kick it off with The Opportunity.

Open Door

There’s a book titled The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that at first glance seems a little hokey – ok, a LOT hokey – but once you get past that it’s solid. The content is serious and deep. My brother Tyler and I listened to the audiobook version on a cross country road trip. In and of itself this is a regular coup d’état for us given the time not listening to it was spent blasting BPM house music on XM Radio, leaning out the window and screaming or discussing the finer points of how much your head spins from an 11% barrel aged imperial stout. We weren’t exactly reciting Shakespeare.

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Viking Quest!

Buried in a family photo album there exists a Stender ancestor caught on film. From my admittedly weak memory, he was a Danish ship captain from the late 1800’s who was lost at sea. Then there is my brother, Tyler, who can sprout the bushiest red beard you have ever seen. In fact, his business card reads Tyler “Captain Redbeard” Stender. As well, the spelling of my first name is typical in Denmark. (Not in the States however, where my school teachers liked to correct it for me.) And last but definitely not least is the fact that both Sarah and I have a large percentage of DNA that traces back to Scandinavia. SCIENCE!

DSC03186 Small

“I am Viking Captain Redbeard and I demand BEER! And meat! And also BREAD!”

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What’s a HD?

house-dad

“Hey, look at me! I’m a PARENT!”

What do you suppose the abbreviation HD stands for? Being a car guy, I would first go with Heavy Duty, as in pickup truck. Next, Hi Def television. Then maybe Hodor Hodor Hodor. But in the context of an English-Speaking-Parents Facebook group I belong to here in Switzerland, it means House Dad.

As in “Oh yeah, I have a HD, he’s looking for a drinking buddy too.”
Or “My neighbor is a HD, he looks like he’s always wearing pajamas.”

It turns out I’m a HD, well sort of a part time HD. Like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, but speaking Frenglish and threatening to beat my children with noodles.

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Swiss Coffee

nescafe

I even have the mug!

I used to daydream about surfing in Polynesia and howling Ferrari V12’s. Today, I still fantasize of such wonderful things but the daily wandering thoughts are DOMINATED by something much more critical to my survival. Coffee. Falling asleep at night, I think about my first cup in the morning. In the morning, I ponder if I’ll have 3 or 4 cups on this day. At lunch time, my tongue lolls at the thought of après-lunch liquid gold.

There’s a great saying, represented most commonly in hashtag form, floating around social media – But First Coffee. This mentality can be applied to anything, much like adding “in bed” to the end of fortune cookie wisdom.

“I have to go to work.” But first coffee.

“I have to feed the children.” But first coffee.

“I have to breathe oxygen.” But first coffee.

You get the idea.

Or at least I do. Because this is my reality. I’m addicted to it and I love it. Not a love/hate sort of thing, just true love. I may be the worst Catholic of all time based on my record of attending mass (because never) but I have my own goddess and her name is Coffee. I worship at her temple 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I do have limits which is why I don’t say 24 hours a day but certainly it’s more than a doctor likely recommends.

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International Parties

pariets

They look so calm here…

This past weekend made us 1-for-2 on attending international birthday parties. Two Sunday’s ago we were skunked on our car rental meaning no party for the children. Which was exceptionally awful considering we had rented helmets and purchased sleds for the kiddos. Though I should be saying sledging as that is how the Swiss refer to it. Of course, watching Hendrick rocket down a hill on a plastic disc – trying to crash into his friends no doubt – is not exactly what I would imagine as a stress-free afternoon so perhaps it was for the best.

 

We had better luck this past Sunday since we needed only ride the train 1 stop and walk to our destination in La Tour De Peilz. The birthday girl’s parents did a great job on the party site. Basically a room with some tables and a snugly closed door meant the pack of 4 year old asylum patients were completely contained and ready to bounce off the walls while the parents sipped wine and chatted.

 

It was a strange déjà vu moment for me. 16 odd years ago, I was spending a college semester in Budapest taking in the culture and, uh, studying. We had an apartment that was also basically a room with some tables and a pack of wild inmates. Only in this hazy memory, there were no parents present and the wine being consumed was by the bottle instead of by the Dixie cup. I don’t recall if it was a birthday party but we did play games and certainly bounced off the walls.

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