Felix woke up this morning with his loud voice. I could hear it from my bedroom as he bossed my Mum around: ‘Gwanma!’ When Mum left for work he brought his loud voice into my bedroom, cheerfully waking Antonia and flopping on our bed.
‘I want to go to Marion Bridge!’ he announced. ‘Murray Bridge’, I said, ‘Why?’ (Knowing full well it was just because Mum was working there today.) ‘To go over the bridge,’ he said.
And the darlings are finally asleep and I should be too but it is too tempting to stay up and breathe. The success of my days is measured in smiles and cuddles and windswept playgrounds but sometimes I lift my head.
The tiny achievements of the small beings closest to me are endlessly fascinating to me. My heart skips a little to see Antonia edge closer and closer to crawling. The moments I want to remember are those when they are ‘in the groove’, doing their thing, curious, content. Antonia singing to us – ‘bababababa!’ Felix deciding to pick mint, basil and tomatoes for dinner, and finding appropriate bowls for them from the cupboard. He can do it unsupervised, knowing to leave the green ones to ripen.
Like I said, endlessly fascinating – to me and Mum and Dad and Michael, and hardly anyone else.
And of course there are the other moments which I don’t particularly want to remember at all.
And apart from that, here, there’s my family, and my old old friends, and parks and gorgeous sunshine, and I’ll be leaving it all soon and that’s ok. Somewhere in the air and the light here is the self I was twelve and fifteen and thirty years ago, and if I look sideways briefly I can almost see her. And somewhere, I guess, is the self I would have been if I never had left. I see her in playgrounds and in libraries and I wonder.
But an aeroplane and a white house and cold air and a tightly coiled spring await me, and I’m coming.
Felix licks the spoon, Antonia has to content herself with the unused juicer.
I took these pictures on Tuesday in my Grandma’s kitchen. We turned up unannounced early Tuesday morning, and Grandma declared delightedly – ‘well, that sorts out my morning for me! I’m not going to the gym after all.’ We played on the lawn for a while while Granddad worked in the garden, and Felix made a duplo train track outside. Antonia had a short nap. Felix flicked through one of Grandma’s fancy cook-books, and asked ‘can we make these?’ ‘They look a bit too complicated’, said Grandma, ‘but we could make muffins.’
Felix carefully mashed the bananas and measured out the chocolate chips. He was entranced by the special drawers Grandma has for flour and sugar, just as I had been as a child.
When Antonia woke up, Grandma gave her some cups and things to play with, just has she had for Felix, three years ago.
As the muffins cooked, the pair of them capered about on the floor for a bit. One of the worst things about living in Norway is being so far away from here, but right now, for another week, we are soaking it in.
Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children each week in 2015.
Happy birthday to my dearest four year old, who whoops with delight at his bright green ice cream cake, then blows each candle out gently, one by one, then insists that everyone tastes it, and checks that we can save a piece for Grandma. Who makes friends with ‘little guys’ in playgrounds and cafes in two seconds flat, but is nearly too scared to listen to a picture book about little chicks and a fox, and then listens anyway, his hands over his ears. We couldn’t have invented you. We love you so.
We had pretty much the perfect day on Felix’s birthday last Friday. I stayed up past midnight the night before re-building the trackmaster Thomas tracks he received for Christmas, as his most dearly held wish for his birthday was more ‘plastic trains’, and he would need to be able to try them out immediately. (This is a feat about 20 times as complicated as it sounds, but I can say that now I’m a pro.) He unwrapped his presents on the steps in the morning. ‘Plastic Charlie! . . . ‘Plastic Emily!’
Mum had most of the day off so we took him to the Royal Copenhagen ice cream shop in Brighton for a pancake and ice cream breakfast. ‘We should come here again’, he said, whilst polishing off substantial portions of his chocolate smeared crepe, strawberries and chocolate ice cream. He then made friends with a little girl and sat in the window seat with her pushing his little car back and forth.
It was then time for sandcastles, a swim and a wander on the jetty, before lunch and heading back home to play. My Grandparents came over for a simple dinner. Felix was absolutely adorable the entire time. He didn’t even kick up a fuss when he realised he had received his final present. After dinner we were all sitting downstairs and he said to my Grandparents: ‘Will you come to my birthday next year in Norway?’ My Granddad started to explain that it was a bit far away, but Grandma interrupted: ‘Peter, don’t say that. Of course.’
Felix, four this week, meeting a parrot at the zoo. When I showed him the photo he said – ‘so cute! It looks just like Klara!’ Did I ever tell you about Klara? Remind me to tell you about Klara.
Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children every week in 2015.
Today, my beautiful girl, you are six months old. This week you have cut your first two teeth. I’m unaccountably but predictably proud of you, and relieved that there was a reason behind a night three times as restless as usual. You’ve spent a lot of the past week chewing on your hands.
Your head is still so soft and smells so sweet. It gets plenty of kisses.
Over the past month you’ve tried lots of new food, most of which ends up all over you, your high chair and the floor, but you love to chew on it. Broccoli and cucumber, peach and plum, pumpkin and asparagus.
You’ve perfected scooting backwards along the floor and can even get up onto your knees but haven’t worked out how to go forward yet, meaning that you often end up under tables and chairs.
You’ve done lots of playing with your brother,
smiling at your Daddy,
and snuggling with me. We love you so. x
‘The colour of the sea should have astounded, but the boy was seldom astounded. . . Nevertheless, the colours had entered into him, printing a brilliant memory.’
Randolph Stow, The Merry-go-round in the Sea
Exploring: above and below.
Felix, despite being a bit nervous about heights, decided he needed to make it to the top of the complicated climbing structure in the playground. He did.
Antonia spends her days scooting along backwards. Here she was exploring my Dad’s workroom.
(edited: I changed my mind about which portraits to include this week!)
Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.
Felix: making echoes.
Antonia: Eyebrows raised, wriggling off the picnic rug onto the grass.
Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week.