You know when you have a big rambly lawn, you think how nice it will be to lie on the lawn and watch your toddler potter around it happily, but then he never feels like it and is unaccountably grumpy for two evenings in a row despite the amazing weather… And then all of a sudden you are out in the sandbox together just before bath-time, and you’ve had a great day despite how clingy he was in the morning and despite the fact that most things you offer him to eat result in outraged tears. And when you’ve made him enough ducks from the little sand-mould, he crawls out of the sandbox and chases the cat all the way to the plum trees. And you lie down next to him and he heaps grass-blades into your hands and places them on the cat’s back. All the dandelions are lit up by the warm slanting sun and you when you put one behind your ear he wants to wear one too, then he tries to give it to the cat. You don’t race inside to find the camera because it is perfect, perfect, you could not ask for anything more.
Category Archives: happy
I’m afraid I’m going to regale you with yet more pictures of you know who. We’re going to Germany next week so maybe we’ll get the inspiration to take a photo of something else. Michael took these in the garden on Saturday. We were out there for hours, on Sunday too. You can follow the progress of the weather by the gradual reduction in Felix’s outdoor wear over the last few posts!
It’s pretty fun watching Felix gather up the courage to explore the garden. It reminds me of watching our kittens discover it, nearly two years ago. By Sunday he was crawling all around, pulling the little pine cones off the sticks, turning around to check whether he was allowed to eat them or not. His favourite thing is to crawl up and down the stairs to the deck. He’s getting pretty adept at it. He’s also pretty happy with the swing that Michael strung up on our tree.
I think all the sun we’ve been getting lately has done something funny to my head, because despite the even more dreadful than usual night’s sleep we got last night, I feel so happy. I have been enjoying work lately and Felix has really adjusted well to being in the barnehage. I often get to see him during the day for short periods, and he’s even beginning to get used to that, and is not crying quite so much when he spots me.
In other news I recently had an article published in Bøygen, a journal put together by some Masters students at the University of Oslo (ooh, and I just discovered that the title refers to a great troll-snake, from the Peer Gynt story). It is a really beautiful little journal. The theme of this issue was ‘place’, and they have essays in Norwegian and English about the role on place in literature in places as diverse as Norway, Israel, Australia. The essays are interspersed with black and white photographs, mainly of Oslo. It really is lovely and it’s a bit of a thrill to be a part of it.
In the small pockets of time between child-rearing, working, and folding laundry, I have been reading Anne Enright’s Making Babies, a very beautiful collection of essays, recommended by Blue Milk. And I have been knitting. I’ve started one more vest for the little guy. It’s quite addictive. It was in this cabin, just outside the Glacier National Park in Montana, that I decided I absolutely needed to learn to knit. It was something about the self-sufficiency of the little cabin in the woods that didn’t even have electricity, and seeing Felix wearing a cardigan knitted by my Nanna. I thought it would be a satisfying thing to do. I was right. It has exactly the right balance between challenging and soothing; it is heartening to see your progress even if it is slow, the texture and colour of the yarn between your fingers is lovely, and there is something entirely wonderful about seeing your own child all snug in a jumper you made for him.
I was going to write a post entitled ‘slog’, and it was going to be about how hard we have been working. Clearing out the spare room in the evenings once Felix has gone to sleep (after we have worked all day) has been tough. There is still more to do, but we have cleared out enough now to get him in there. And then of course the poor fellow starts teething again, so settling him into the new sleeping arrangements has been more difficult than it otherwise would have been, and we are still not getting nearly enough sleep. So we are tired. But I have changed my day off from Friday to Wednesday, and that is better, much better. This afternoon the sun shone and Felix and I had a picnic on the lawn.
Lying for half an hour in the sun with my favourite boy and my favourite creatures was more than enough to restore my spirits.
Also I’m very proud of myself because I knitted the little vest Felix is wearing, all on my own. The pattern is here. I started it a few weeks back, when I had my ear infection, at which point I knitted all night because I was in too much pain to sleep. It took me a while because I had to undo bits when I did them wrong – if I do another one I’ll be much faster. But isn’t it great! I’ll try to show you some pictures sans bib another time.
Felix chased the cats around for a bit, bounced on the trampoline with me, then made some calls. It was a very nice afternoon indeed.
Today some close friends came over and we had a little birthday party for Felix. Good friends are so precious. In this photo you can also see: Felix’s lion, which was a hand-me-down from a very lovely lady in Idaho Falls, who has a son a couple of years older than Felix (Felix adores this lion, so my cake was an attempt to approximate it); the curtains my Grandma gave us; the coffee cups and milk jug my Nanna gave us for our wedding; tulips which reminded me of the ones you can see here; a vase which was a birthday present from the barnehage; a delicious cheesecake made by my lovely Norwegian friend; a colourful bowl that my parents gave me when I moved to York; a candle holder that Michael acquired many many years ago, long before I met him; and the gorgeous cardigan that my Mum knitted for me while we were in Australia, shortly after these photos were taken. So although we are a long way away from our families, we were pretty much surrounded by love. And Felix seemed to like the cake.
The little guy had a good time playing with his birthday presents and his new friend Pearce.
In the background in this one you can see the walker that we spied in a shop in Adelaide, but Michael’s parents bought for Felix in Germany. It was a happy day. Surrounded by love, indeed.
Felix was not happy. He held it together while our friends who will house-sit for us were here for dinner and house-orientation (well, he held it together as he perched on my shoulder while I paced the floor), but once they left, he let us know how sad he really was. I tried feeding him lying down on the sofa, which sometimes works when he’s unsettled. But he kept raising his little face and staring me straight in the eyes, then sticking out his bottom lip, quivering, frowning, and then letting out the most pitiful sobs. He was happy in the sling for half an hour, but once he came out of it the same thing happened. We even tried some baby panadol as he only had his vaccinations the day before, but that didn’t work either.
At ten pm we took him for a walk in the pram. The cool air outside calmed him down immediately, and after a while he fell asleep. Of course he woke up the second we arrived home, so I took him upstairs and we lay on the bed together. He wasn’t upset any more, but wanted to play. After a while I put him in the crib next to the bed. But he kept wriggling over so his head touched the bars, sticking his arm out towards me and just gazing at me. So I picked him up again. We lay on the bed, our faces two inches apart. He wouldn’t take his eyes off mine. ‘Goo’, he said, ‘agoo agoo agoo brrrsh’. And he touched my cheek and even managed to get a handful of my hair at one point, and we lay there for an hour, just smiling and gooing, our eyes locked together. And at last he got sleepy and had a long drink and went to sleep around midnight.
It is a strange thing, to be so needed.
Something about this photo – the positioning of the figures, our paper cut-outness, and Felix’s benedictory gesture – reminds me of a medieval triptych. Also the overblown sky – just imagine it gilded! I was perched on a little table, which I knew wasn’t a good idea when I’m already so tall. I love the photo anyway. You can tell how happy we all are to be there.
It felt so surreal on Monday night when my Grandparents arrived at our door, and I opened it and said ‘come in’. Just amazing. And then they came in and cuddled Felix, and Felix said ‘ooo ooo ooo’. And now I’m afraid I’m about to bore you with some details but we’ve been having such a lovely time that I don’t want to forget any of it. Yesterday, we wandered around town a bit, had lunch at our favourite pizza place, and walked to the shopping centre to get Grandma a new phone. G&G went back to the hotel for a couple of hours to have a rest, and then Michael picked them up again. We cooked salmon and potatoes for tea, and finished with icecream and strawberries.
Today, I picked them up at 10 and drove up to the fortress, where we wandered around and looked at the view. We then met Michael for lunch at my favourite little cafe in town (a very baby-friendly place with space for prams and toys for older kids to play with and a big stack of high-chairs and surprisingly delicious food), and called in at the other shopping centre to replace Grandma’s handbag. Felix was content napping in the pram and feeding in the cafe before we ate. We drove up the hill home again for tea and easter eggs and a skype chat with Mum and my aunty. G&G went for a little walk (they have more energy than me!!!) while we chilled out a bit at the house. We then had such a lovely afternoon sitting on the deck in the sunshine.
I’m wearing the amber earrings my Grandparents bought me in St Petersburg, when they took me there nearly seven years ago. (At that point I was doing my masters in York and I’d just decided Michael was rather nice and I was hoping something would come of it…)
Granddad read the copy of the Guardian that Michael had somehow procured for him. I cooked dinner – fool-proof spinach and ricotta cannelloni followed by delicious brownies – while Michael helped Grandma install phone numbers into her phone. It has just been so lovely having this time with them, and hearing stories of their children and houses and early life together (next year they will have been married 60 years!).
While we ate, Felix cooed and gurgled. And it was the perfect, perfect day.
Felix Jonathan Hildebrandt
Born 11pm, 13 February 2011.
3.9 kilos, 54 cm.
Felix for happiness, Jonathan for my brother, Hildebrandt for my beloved.
The birth went well. Will tell more later, because, um, sleep has become a bit more of a priority than it used to be. And yes, we have about a thousand photographs already, so there might be a few more of them too.
We arrived home from hospital today. We are happy indeed. About this happy:
Or maybe this happy:
Or possibly, even, this happy:
Yep. Got married today.
I didn’t really mean to wear black to my own wedding, but it was the only maternity dress I could find. I like it. And at least it’s got lace on it, right? Michael insisted on buying me a proper bridal bouquet of red roses. I wore the sparkly green jewellery Michael bought me within two weeks of our first kiss, six and a half years ago. (I did think about wearing the little casket of uncut emeralds Mum wore to her own wedding, but I decided I needed the extra sparkle.)
We decided to tie the knot now rather than later not because of bubs (I really don’t think he’ll mind much either way), but more out of visa considerations for next year. All that aside, it felt like a good time to do it. It felt special. The script for the ceremony was perfect. Here’s a link to it in Norwegian. If you copy and paste it into google translate you’ll get an idea of it, allowing for some amusing translation errors. We alternated between listening seriously and glancing across at one another and smiling shyly.
Then there were the rings, and the signing, and it was done! We bought the rings in October, from Robert Feather, who has a workshop in a little town near York. That was special too, because we met in York, and lived together for two years there, and the gold of our rings was like the gold of the leaves on the trees.
The wedding was a more solemn and more joyful experience than I had expected. It was very small – just us and our two witnesses – and was over very very quickly. But we were so happy!
The courthouse was right on the harbour so we trundled out there to get a couple of shots in the snow (thanks to Michael’s best man who was our impromptu photographer).
Then we all had pizza at our favourite restaurant, Spisekroken. These guys make the best pizza I have ever tasted. Nowegians love pizza, but mostly it is barely edible. The owners know us, and were very happy for us, and brought out sparkling wine on the house.
We know our families would have loved to be there, and we would have loved that too. But I hope I can share the moment with you this way! And I hope we can eat cake together at a later date. After eating all that pizza, there was no room for cake anyway!
It was a perfect mini wedding. We even got presents. Kylie came back for a cup of tea and we cracked open the Swiss Glory chocolates my Mum had sent for Christmas while the snow filled the windows and the kittens snoozed.
As I write, there was a knock on the door and more roses arrived, from my parents! They are beautiful, but I will take a photo tomorrow because now I think it’s time for some snoozing of our own.
Ok now this is the main thing. On Monday we drove to Fredrikstad for a scan. I was terrified. On Saturday I was so nervous that I felt nauseous all day. But this time, Michael was with me. He lent me his iphone and I played Stoneloops of Jurassica in the waiting room, which so successful at distracting me that I didn’t even hear them calling my number. Then we went in for the ultrasound. And there’s a little one in there! It’s alive! It doesn’t seem to have the same problem as last time.
I was so relieved I went out of the hospital and I cried. For the little one who will never be born, and the little one who in all likelihood will.
And then we met my parents for coffee and cake in the old town.
After lunch I called my Grandma. Eventually I managed to interrupt the flow of family news.
‘I’ve got some news for you too’, I said. ‘I’m pregnant again!’
‘Oh!’ she said. ‘Someone else is pregnant too!’
Not exactly the response I expected, but anyway… ‘Who?’
‘Well, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell you, but Caitlin rang this evening and she had her scan this morning and she’s twelve weeks!’
‘How – where are you…’
‘I had my scan this morning and I’m twelve weeks!’
Many breathless phonecalls ensued. Caitlin is the wife of my cousin Joseph. They are living in London at the moment. All going well, these babies will be the first great-grandchildren on this side of the family. My Mum and her sister will become grandmothers together. Everyone is ecstatic. Apparently my Grandma was so excited she gave herself a migraine.
I had the scan on Monday. Wednesday was the estimated due date of my previous pregnancy. And on Friday, two of my closest friends in Adelaide had a baby girl. So, for me, it is slightly bittersweet. Yesterday and this morning I felt this piercing, heavy sadness. This new story is wonderful, but it is coloured by the old one. And it feels so unreal. In my (very limited) experience, pregnancy doesn’t mean a baby. My parents have driven off for a few days holiday in the mountains. They will be back next weekend, but then they head back to Australia. I think I also feel sad about that. About living so very far away. But I have learnt, too, that sadness passes. That it is like a thick mist, damp and cold, touching and clouding everything. But it lifts. Already I feel a little better. I made some rather strange but fairly tasty brownies this afternoon, and I go back to work tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting into routines again. I feel rested. I am looking forward to writing and thinking on my Fridays off. And we are looking forward to our new stories, to all their colours.