Felix learns to count

One of my old friends from when we were both doing a masters in York (and a blog-reader!) made Felix some felt numbers and a wonderful quilted mat covered in wild animals. He loves them. Thank you so so much!

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Tired

Since we got back from Montana, it’s all been go here. Michael had a lot of deadlines, and I had one big one. At the same time Michael had a workshop which meant he was home late every night. And then he went away for four days. And now there is a lot to sort out as Michael leaves for a week in Norway this weekend, and Felix and I are flying to Seattle to stay with a blogfriend! I am very much looking forward to that. But the past few days I’ve been so tired I’ve felt like I’ve been walking through treacle. Oh, and Felix decided he wanted to grow two teeth. Which I hope explains his new habit of staying awake for an hour and a half in the early hours of the morning. And I hope it stops soon, too.

It’s sort of cathartic to write it all out – I feel better already. I’ve been enjoying the gorgeous fall weather here in Idaho Falls – it’s cool (and sometimes cold) first thing in the morning, but the sun shines brightly every day and it warms up quickly to the mid-twenties. The mother’s group has continued to be great. Apart from that, I’m just getting a tiny bit bored of the four or five activities I have to choose between to keep Felix happy every day (two coffee shops, a bakery, a walk along the river and the park). Sometimes I try to do them in a different order just to spice things up a bit. He still loves the trains at Barnes and Noble. And he loves the toddler girls in the mothers’ group. They love him too. It’s very rare that I can spend a whole awake period (three hours or so) at home with him – he just gets so restless, but perks up the moment I put him in the stroller.

But we get a new adventure next week! (I am so so so glad – I would have gone completely nuts on my own for a week). And just two months until we leave for two months in Australia. Cannot wait. After that it’s back to Norway and back to work for the tail end of winter. So I must not wish these last two months in the US away – life will be so different once the little guy starts in the barnehage. I have a feeling he will not be very impressed at me leaving him, but I think he’ll like it a lot once he gets used to it – he’s pretty keen on social interaction. Well, better get back to folding the laundry to facilitate our packing…

In the toybox

A month or so back Michael bought this toybox, and it’s been one of our best purchases. Felix loves to sit next to it and scratch at the mesh, or pull down the sides to reach the toys he wants to play with. The other day he even put my mobile phone in there.

Love

Last week you turned seven months old. And I just love you so much. (Though sometimes I am ragged with tiredness and just want someone else to take you for an hour.) I feed you to sleep for most of your sleeps. And when you fall asleep, I just gaze at you, your lashes and your soft cheeks. You are so beautiful. Michael took these photos at a lake in Montana. Usually you are too distracted to feed when we are out anywhere, but this time you were hungry, and relaxed, and you fed for a long time, making sure I kept looking at you.

You can sit like a pro now. You are nowhere near crawling, but you have grown adept at sort of launching yourself from sitting towards the direction you would like to go. You are also very good at letting me know what you think about things. Tonight after your bath we read a book together, and you were having a fabulous time chewing and scratching and whacking it. Then I could see you were tired so I said ok, lets go to sleep now, and you smiled at me so sweetly. Then I started putting you in your sleeping bag and you cried with such bitter disappointment and rage, before snuggling in for your evening feed and drifting off to sleep.

At the moment you love to click you tongue, blow raspberries, and shake your head rapidly from side to side. I tried it, and it actually makes the world look quite funny – I wonder if you do it for the thrill of it, as well as to show us how clever you are. You love when I sing ‘open, shut them’ and ‘insy winsy spider’.

This morning we walked along the river, and stopped in the coffee shop before storytime at the library. This is pretty much routine, and a good one. Since you’ve gotten into eating solids you don’t need to feed as much when we’re out, but you seemed to want it. I realised you hadn’t had any since 5.30, and it was nearly 10, so we cuddled together in the corner of the sofa and you fed for a long time. I guess it felt special because normally when we’re out you have about two sips and then wriggle around to see if you’re missing anything. But walking over to the library, both of us satisfied with our morning drink, I just felt so happy.

I am teaching myself to knit

You may never hear from me ever again. (Go have a look at Michael’s awesome Rodeo photos instead.) But yes, knitting. I am reminded of a picture book I had as a child, about a girl who wouldn’t stop knitting. Eventually she knit an entire circus tent. I’m not that far gone yet but after a shaky start I’ve figured out the basics of knit and purl. Then I tried to do that ribbed stitch, where you have to keep alternating them, and failed miserably. Now I am knitting Felix a scarf. It’s not quite living up to my ambitions, but I guess you’ve got to start somewhere.

Sunshine

Just so much warm beautiful shiny sun. Because of the altitude, the sun is quite fierce here – even when the temperature drops a little, in the sun it’s hot. I’m just loving these slightly milder fall days. This feels like the first real summer I’ve had since leaving Australia eight years ago. Apparently the fall can be fickle here – winter can hit with a bang at the beginning of October. But last year it was long and mild, and it looks like this year will be the same.

This morning I went for a walk along the river with the mother’s group. There was about eight of us, all with strollers (several with double strollers!). We stopped at the park half way along for the kids to play. One of the little one and a half year old girls has taken a shine to Felix – she keeps coming up to him and saying his name. He loves it. He is such a social creature. And talking to the other mothers is just so great. It’s such a brilliant group.

Felix prompts conversations wherever we go. He flirts with everyone. This morning an old lady stopped to say hello in town, and then she spotted us again in the bookshop this afternoon. Felix stared and stared at the man setting up his computer at the table next to us, until he relented and started showing us pictures of his family. Felix’s favourite regular acquaintance is one of the barristas in Barnes and Noble. (She loves him too.) He looks forward to seeing her so much that as soon as we stand in line to order drinks he grins and jiggles his legs in anticipation.

I’ve had a madly busy week trying to put the final edits into an article, in between caring for the little guy. The days have been pretty exhausting. But it’s done now. And the sun just shines and shines.

Symphony in the park

Felix and I went to a concert in the park this evening. Michael went to a demolition derby instead. I think we had more fun. The Idaho Falls symphony orchestra played Strauss, Grieg, and Elgar, as well as a couple of American classics. If Strauss counts as Germanic, Felix had a good proportion of his adopted nationalities represented! They just needed a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.The Star Spangled Banner was oddly moving as everyone stood up and put their hand on their heart. I felt conspicuous not doing it (I stood, but left my heart alone). The Land of Hope and Glory could have done with a couple of thousand Brits madly waving Union Jacks Flags, but it was uplifting all the same (apparently here they play it at high school graduations!). The Firefighter’s pipe band also played a few tunes in honour of September 11. If that wasn’t emotional enough the orchestra moved straight onto Grieg. (They love Grieg here, it’s always on the Classical radio station.) So I was on the verge of tears several times but it was a fabulous night. The trees were glowing in the late sunlight, just getting ready to turn golden. Felix thoroughly enjoyed his picnic, eating two rice crackers, two crusts of bread, half a jar of butternut squash and half a jar of pear, making a grand mess. He met a white fluffy dog and a ten month old baby called John. We managed to stay right till then end – an encore of In the Hall of the Mountain King. Just awesome.

A cabin in the woods

Sigh. We had such a great trip! It’s a bit sad to be home again.

We stayed in a cabin just outside of Polebridge, affiliated with the North Fork Hostel. It didn’t have any electricity, which was a really welcome break from the outside world.

Square Peg North Cabin, to be precise. It was awesome. High ceiling, plenty of windows, a loft area, and a fireplace.

Felix had a great time, but was quite concerned about the strange bright crackling creature.

Polebridge itself was tiny but surprisingly lovely.

The Polebridge Mercantile doubled as a bakery, serving a bewildering array of freshly baked pastries (our favourite was the ‘bear claw’).

The Northern Lights Saloon, next door, offered tasty meals, beer in jars, and huckleberry pie.

We were pretty much in heaven.

Another County Fair

Did I mention I am loving Montana? On our way back from the Glacier National Park we are stopping for a few nights in Hamilton, just south of Missoula. It’s a lively farming town with a sweet main street and an awesome microbrewery (we can recommend not only the beer but the black bean burger and the veggie burrito). Our visit happens to coincide with their annual fair, so Michael had a ball of a time snapping up the action.

The animals were beautiful. I felt a little sorry for the shiny fat pigs being auctioned off by their young owners, but it was hard not to get into the spirit of things.

In the Beef pavilion I stopped to read a poster which told the story of the breech birth of a calf – after it stuck its feet out they tried to pull its legs, then they tried chains, and eventually some sort of ‘cow wrench’ did the trick. A teenage boy asked if we had cows too. ‘No,’ I said, ‘but we have a baby’. He didn’t immediately make the connection.

The produce halls and the young people’s exhibits were also entertaining.

I enjoyed strolling past all the side-shows and the rides, reminiscing about my childhood.

My old favourite the Zipper was there in action but I wasn’t tempted. I must be getting old. Michael went back in the evening to see the rodeo and take photos of the shiny lights.

North

We drove a long way north, almost to the Canadian border, to the Glacier National Park.

The mountains, flowers and lakes were stunning

and there were little critters at every turn

(and bigger critters too).

There were seriously big creatures, bears, but we didn’t see any. I didn’t mind. But it made everything just a little bit spooky, knowing there were bears around. There were signs everywhere advising caution, and saying people had been killed in this park. I felt alright in the big open areas, but we did a couple of short walks along some remote lakes off the main tourist trail. The forest was so dense that a bear could have been three feet away and you might not have known it. Apparently a grizzly bear can kill a moose with a single swipe. And I had very precious cargo.

The whole place felt very wild. Like a whole world with its own laws and inhabitants getting on with things. We were only visitors. The deer eyed us calmly.

The squirrel scampered away with its nut.

At Logan pass, the rangers had a telescope out for visitors to look through. I observed the exact same conversation several times (and participated in it once). ‘Is there a bear?’ ‘No, there are Bighorn sheep on the mountain over there.’ ‘Oh’. With the naked eye you could barely pick out the white dots of the sheep’s tails. Disappointed, but unable to resist a telescope, we looked anyway. ‘Oh! Oh wow!’ Because the Bighorn sheep were stunning, sitting completely still, munching sagely – five of them, like statues, like ancient gods.