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Here is Felix in Berlin as he prepares to go down the steepest slide I have ever seen. The boy has no fear.

And Antonia not appreciating being made to pose looking into the sun. She has the sweetest little lips. Antonia has mastered crawling forwards this week and cut a top tooth (and nearly a second one). I meant to try to take some photos of her crawling to reach her brother’s train track, but I have not been well at all this weekend, so will try another time.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.

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What was I saying about spring?

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We’re back in Norway. I spent Antonia’s midday nap today shovelling snow.

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It’s pretty cosy inside though. Here’s our toy storage space in our living room, with an added box of baby toys. It’s been fun revisiting the things Felix used to play with. The two wicker baskets are still stuffed to the top with wooden trains and tracks, in use almost daily. This week Antonia has perfected crawling forward, so the tracks are frequently in peril.

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I finally managed to hang up a picture of the two of them that I took last year. ‘Do what you love.’

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More love in the park

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I just love this photo Michael snapped of the three of us. Felix is showing me a triangular stone. We went back there today and he found a stone shaped like the tail of a plane. He insisted I actually look at it instead of just saying ‘hmmmm, that’s great’, and it really was!

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We are in Germany at the moment and Oma and Opa have been soaking in their grandchildren.

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Felix and Antonia: having the best time ever in a park in Germany this week. It was Antonia’s first proper swing. (Here’s a post about one of Felix’s first swings In those photos he’s a month older than Antonia is now). Felix insisted on pushing her high. She could not stop chuckling and Felix had a ball. They kept it up for ages. Just the sweetest things. These two adore each other. Tonight in the bath Antonia was laughing and laughing at Felix saying ‘monster!’ in a silly voice and splashing water around.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children every week in 2015. Bonus photos below.

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Spring

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It feels a little cheeky, having entirely skipped the winter, but I am marvelling at spring all the same. The bulbs in the park in town are piercing through the earth, nothing can stop them.

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The buds of baby pine cones on our tree are barely visible, but they are there.

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Felix picked handfuls of the old pinecones yesterday as we picnicked in the garden.

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It was the first time we’ve got out there this year. Antonia slept.

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Whitby came to join the party.

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Felix was so pleased when Antonia woke up again, wearing his old red coat. I thought of all our other springs in this place. Baby Felix peering up at blossoms. Toddler Felix helping build the sandbox. Or playing with the pinecones. Three year old Felix cycling round the deck, thinking about the baby inside me, telling me he missed me before he was born. And now there is another spring, a new one, and I am glad.

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11/52

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Felix: Fireman’s hat on, so proud of the towers he built while I attempted to put Antonia to sleep. He told me the tallest tower fell over several times but he didn’t mind, he just tried again. He discovered it worked best if he saves the lightest blocks for the top. I’m so proud of him.

Antonia: Recovering from a nasty cold; entranced by her hands.

I took both of these photos on Friday, a good and jam-packed day, despite Antonia being awake for several hours the night before with a fever. Felix goes to barnehage four days a week and stays home with me for one. We had Felix’s four year check-up (a bit of a non-event, but we discovered his eyesight is quite good), ate buns in our favourite cafe, swung on the swings outside the library while we waited for it for open, read books there for an hour, walked back through town, came home for lunch, made block towers, baked ANZAC biscuits, had a picnic on the lawn while Antonia napped in the stroller, bounced on the trampoline, cooked and ate dinner and even cleaned up the kitchen before I tipped the two little ones into the bath. I’m channeling my Aunty Anne these days – she said to me recently, reminiscing on raising her four children: ‘I remember thinking: I don’t need to sit down now, even though I wish I could, there will be time enough for that once they have grown up. And there is.’

I love the concentration on Antonia’s face in the photo above, but I just have to include this one, too.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.

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Seven months

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Being seven months old with a big, adoring, bouncy brother is quite an experience. This evening Antonia laughed and laughed at Felix’s game of throwing a balloon to Michael and me, and then trying to catch it himself. This morning when she started complaining in her highchair while I was getting Felix’s lunchbox ready, Felix found a board book about a snowman and ‘read’ it to her to keep her happy.

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I’ve been enjoying kicking around the house with her once again. At seven months Antonia loves to chat, loves to smile at strangers, loves to wriggle around, give slobby kisses, snatch glasses, do downward dogs and get up on her hands and knees, but she still hasn’t figured out crawling forwards. In the car, she still sings herself to sleep. She’s been enjoying talking to my Mum on skype – now she starts smiling already the moment I log in.

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She is our cheeky gorgeous babe and we love her so.

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Felix: Jet-lagged and tired after a day at barnehage, but concentrating hard on ‘cooking’ dinner in his mini kitchen. I love the light in our house on sunny afternoons. Felix has been enjoying systematically reacquainting himself with his old toys. It has been delightful to see how easily he’s transitioned to being back here, though today he insisted that we ring both Grandma and Grandma Ruth. Also this week, for the first time in his life, he’s told us three nights in a row: ‘I want to go to bed now’. Which, I must admit, I do too.

Antonia: Trying to get the camera strap. Many people offer comments about Antonia when I’m out and about. ‘Look at her arms’, said a florist in Adelaide – ‘she’s a Michelin baby!’ ‘It doesn’t look like she skips any meals’, said a Norwegian lady in a cafe last year. My favourite was from a mother at a paddling pool in Adelaide – ‘Oh, is that your baby? She’s spectacular.’ And somebody else, I can’t remember who, said – ‘she has possibly – no, definitely – the best baby cheeks I have ever seen.’ And she is truly delicious. How lucky am I, to kiss those cheeks all day.

I suspect Antonia’s eyes may go hazel-green like Felix’s and my own, but for the moment they are blue as blue, especially around the edges. I love this deep blue cardigan we bought in Australia, and it matches our favourite nick-name for her, Bubble.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.

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Back

I need to write some of this down before it fades. The flight back went very well, despite some anxiety about boarding passes in Kuala Lumpur airport. The kids slept well and played well and were generally agreeable, and did not get sick which was appreciated. I got some motion sickness tablets for Felix and who knows if he needs them or not but every other long haul flight over the past two years has ended in vomit, so I’ll definitely be packing them from now on. Felix was a little bored sitting around on the plane but he entertained himself admirably. I didn’t even have an ipad for him. He was absolutely gorgeous in the airports, insisting on walking himself and pulling his little suitcase, but quite happily going as fast as I asked him to in order to find our gate. In Doha airport by the time they announced boarding for families with small children and business class passengers, everyone else had already started queuing, so I decided to barge past them all. ‘Excuse me!’ I said. Felix piped up gleefully: ‘Coming through! We have a baby and a little guy, coming through!’

We were all so happy to see Michael again. We arrived at 7.30 in the morning and Felix did not stop talking all day, not even napping in the car on the way back to Halden, until he crashed into bed at 6pm. Antonia chuckled and wriggled whenever Michael looked at her, and when we went to our favourite cafe in the afternoon, was only interested in tasting Michael’s bun, not mine.

Driving into Halden felt so strange. Michael said it had felt strange to him to – in your mind are still all the roads and paths and light and routines of the place you have left, and you have to let them go and replace them with those of this place, but you are reluctant at first, you try to hold on. Norway has obliged by making it as easy as possible for me with a week of cold sunshine and frosted grass. Yesterday morning I looked out of the window and there were four young deer stepping carefully across our lawn.

Our friends are eager to see us. We feel welcomed. Felix has slotted back into barnehage life without a hiccup. I haven’t quite got enough winter things for Antonia to wear, but we are getting by. The days are light-filled. It was very clever of me to skip February.

When I walked in the door to our little house I thought – how is it possible to live in a house so small? It is perfectly possible, of course, and very lovely even, as long as you stay on top of all the cleaning and putting stuff away, so I have been attacking those things with gusto, making the small changes to our living space needed for a nearly seven month old baby instead of a three month one. An extra box of toys on the shelf instead of the box of changes of clothes we had down here before. The difference in Antonia and in the shape of our family after a space of three months is significant. She sits at the table with us now in her highchair. We need four glasses for water at dinner, so I pulled out a jug for water for us all, and it felt special. Antonia loves to drink water from a glass – she flaps her arms out wide with excitement, then grips the top of the glass and takes a couple of sips before blowing raspberries in it. Soon the novelty of all this will collapse into the every day, but I hope some of the specialness can stay.

At the library

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These photos taken at the library didn’t quite work out but I love them all the same. I have so enjoyed taking Felix up here to story time once a week, and Antonia has enjoyed watching the other children and playing with these bead things.

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After a month of coming to story time once a week I was starting to get to know some of the parents, and last week a few of them said ‘see you next week’, and I had to say, no, actually, you won’t, we’ll be in another world by then.

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9/52

today

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Felix: trying to blow bubbles outside my Grandma’s house. The bubbles weren’t working too well by now but I love his patient concentration and the way the light reflects up at him from the sunny pavement.

Antonia: cheeky smiles in the park. Bonus photos below. Tomorrow we hop on a plane (well, three planes) back to the cold.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.

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