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Felix: contemplating something, crumbs and all, in a playground in Luxembourg.

Antonia: so excited to try out the baby back pack. Felix never really got into it, but she was so very pleased with her new view that she sat there smiling to the point of laughter for half an hour, then fell asleep.

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

Nine Months

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You have learnt to wave and say bye bye. This sounds like a simple thing. It is not, it is not. On Sunday night, I ducked inside from Richard and Polina’s dinner table to fetch a glass of water. When I came back, Polina and her mother told me – ‘she said goodbye when you left’. ‘What?’ I said, astounded. Shortly after that, I picked you up to take you upstairs to bed. I held you on my hip and you looked at everyone, grinning broadly. ‘Bye bye’, they all said. And you waved. You lifted one of your arms, and you waved at them. ‘Ba – bye’, you said hesitantly. And grinned some more.

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You waved at your Oma and Opa today, too, when we left. I gave you plenty of time. You smiled and smiled. And then lifted one arm and waved, and my heart flipped over.

You are so very pleased and proud to be learning this social convention. It feels like entering a whole new world. You have to think about it, hard, and you seem a little amazed yourself.

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You love to giggle and bounce – I wake every morning to the round and cheerful face of a gambolling baby who dive-bombs my face to plant huge kisses, and then tries to climb on top of me. If you wake in the night and there is not a nipple in your mouth within seconds you give a cry of such desolation – you would think we had abandoned you in a mouldering cave. But you are easily soothed. You are squidgy and soft and never stop exploring. As your Oma says, you have new curls every day. I sing to you: ‘I love you ba-aby, and if it’s quite alright I need you ba-aby’. Felix consoles you in the car if you every get upset: ‘Anti-Banti it’s not so bad.’ Your father calls you Anti-Banti and Bubble Delicious. Dear, dear baby. We love you so.

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Felix: leaning on huge stone ball he discovered in front of a palace in a park in Kassel, Germany.

Antonia: I just love this photo. She was completely blissed out, humming quietly to herself – hhhhhhhhnnnnnnn – and gazing at her Daddy as we explored Luxembourg. Just so happy and relaxed. This weekend, for the first time, she waved and said bye bye.

We are one week in to a three week stint away from home. We are spending most of it in Kassel, with Michael’s parents, but we just returned from a weekend in Luxembourg, staying with my cousin Richard and his family. Richard moved to London from Australia almost exactly the same time I moved to the UK, about 12 years ago. I remember wandering some London markets with him before I started my masters in York. He visited me in York many times and I stayed with him in London frequently – Stansted airport was my main route out of the country and I made full use of the mattress on his floor. We would go out for an indian meal and then stay up late discussing life, love, and everything.  We both met our partners in the UK and now he’s based in Luxembourg and I’m in Norway. Last night we had a BBQ on his balcony and our boys capered around playing hide and seek and ghostbusters as we sipped red wine and Antonia chewed on asparagus. ‘It must have been a bit like this for our parents when we were small’, he said, and it was a funny thought. And a nice one. Watching our sons walking along, holding hands, is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.

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The secret path (20/52)

walk Okay it’s not really a secret path, it was only a secret from me, not being a particularly avid map reader. I am in fact a terrible map reader, to the great and recurring frustration of a certain nearest and dearest. But Michael got a book of family friendly walks for his birthday, and I am determined to use it. The first one starts a mere five minute walk from our door, and follows a hidden valley down into town, so we can end up in our favourite cafe. I had never noticed noticed the beginning of the footpath sneaking past a garden, although I have walked past it so many times. walk2 After initially being nervous that it would ‘take too long’, Felix thought ‘oh, come one’ (his words) and decided to join the adventure. We first walked it yesterday and got drenched by a sudden downpour half way down (part of the adventure, I assured Felix). We spotted the waterfall but couldn’t walk past it, as the path there was steep, narrow and muddy, and I had the stroller with me. Luckily there was a way out back to the main road at that point. Today we walked it again, taking Antonia in the ergo carrier instead. walk5 Felix was impressed the stream criss-crossed the path via a series of pipes. walk6 I couldn’t believe this was all just here, so close to the road we drive up and down daily. It felt a little bit like I’d stumbled through a fairy door to a magical forest. Which is romanticising things considerably, but, well, that’s me. walk3walk9 We nearly didn’t take the steep muddy path after all (I had visions of one or other of us tumbling down the slope, and how was I to rescue Felix with Antonia strapped to my chest), but after Felix’s howl of disappointment I thought why not give it a go. It wasn’t as bad as it looked and the scary bit didn’t last for long. We were very proud of ourselves to come out the other side. I can’t wait to explore some more! walk4

Barnas Dag II

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Looking back on this post from last year made me so nostalgic. Who is that little boy clutching his raggedy bear, nervous about meeting the police? Bear still sleeps with Felix but he is not essential and never leaves the house. Felix wears the same overalls but we don’t need to roll them up any more. This year at Barnas Dag, we met up with some friends and had a gorgeous day. Felix played the piano in our favourite cafe, examined the tulips, bounced on a bouncy castle, got to try a fire hose, and queued impatiently to sit in the fire engine.

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Once it was his turn he efficiently tried every switch he could get his hands on, until he actually managed to turn on the siren! Luckily he managed to turn it off again just as fast.

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We didn’t succeed in getting a fireman’s hat this time as we were at the shopping centre at the wrong time, but Felix did spot two men dressed as what he assumed to be ghost-busters, and as we walked back, he didn’t stop asking me what the ghost-busters were doing there, because he thought ghosts didn’t come out during the day. Maybe ghosts are real, Mummy, he said.

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Felix: off for an adventure, umbrella in hand, prancing along the wall of a ruined Norwegian farm house on our way to find some bronze age stone carvings. We were cooped up at home on Monday and Tuesday as Felix was sick, so by Wednesday we were ready to explore.

Antonia: Nine months old yesterday, gleefully showing off her newest skill, covered in strawberry stains from breakfast. Everyone tells me she’ll be walking soon. I tell her there’s no rush!

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

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Munchkins by the sea

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It’s the tail-end of a long weekend here and I’m pleased to report that we did something fun outside every day. On Friday we went to an outdoor kids day in the forest with some friends, and Felix got to shoot an airgun. (With some help from me and careful supervision from the experts.) There were other activities as well, mostly aimed at slightly older kids. It was a little stressful as we weren’t sure how it all worked and to be honest we have a preference for quiet trips to the forest, but I’m glad we went, and I’d be game to go again next year. We took the camera but didn’t have the right card in it, so no photos.

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Yesterday I took the kids to the harbour in the morning (see previous post), and today we went with some German friends to a beach in Sweden. I had tried to meet them there nearly two years ago and got lost on the way, so this time I made sure we followed them.

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Felix had a wonderful time hopping on the rocks, peering at the shrimp that our friends caught in the net, and trying to build a dam in a little stream.

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It was also a good weekend for baking: waffles, scones, pancakes and ANZAC biscuits, as well as a delicious vegetarian shepherd’s pie, and Michael mowed the lawn.

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We tend to fall into a rut and just do the same old things, so I’m glad with a little encouragement from our friends we tried out a couple of different things. I also managed to play with Felix a couple of times – this doesn’t sound like much but too often I get to the end of a day which has been punctuated by repeated requests to play with him, and find that I have not. So during Antonia’s first nap this morning instead of saying immediately ‘no I can’t – I need to do this first…’, I said ‘ok’, when he told me we would play with the digger and the truck. He drove the tiny digger around on the mini truck, and it was my job to dig the holes. ‘What are you going to dig, Mummy?’ ‘A foundation for the new town hall,’ I said, remembering Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, which Mum has read to Felix lots of times. So we dug lots of foundations and used the magnet shapes to build buildings on top of them, and it was lovely. rosso3

I felt a bit flat and aimless at the beginning of last week, but I managed to turn it around, making sure I spent time with friends and their children. On Thursday I took Antonia to an ‘open’ barnehage – a place with kindergarten facilities but you can’t leave kids there – you have to stay and play with them. She was badly in need of some new stimulation and she had a ball – I’ll definitely go again this week. Everyone keeps saying to enjoy this time before I go back to work, so I have decided that I will. And it is so nice on a Sunday evening to have the memories of the silvery light on the water and the little balls of seaweed, and the clear air all around.

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My boy, bearing a gift. Felix loves flowers. A couple of weeks ago, when we were in Fredrikstad, he picked six different kinds of brand new spring flowers on the way from the park to the car, and was devastated that they had mostly died by the time we got home. Just under a year ago in Fredrikstad he managed to badly cut his finger on a rose thorn, and still talks about how some pink flowers are spiky.

We took his bike into town today and he rode around the harbour, like this time last year. After a cinnamon roll at our favourite cafe Felix rode around and around the harbour – it was a golden, expansive, perfect five minutes and he picked a flower for me. Then he realised the outing was not going to include a toy shop and suddenly he ran out of energy and the ride back to the car was not so relaxing. But you get to choose which five minutes to hold on to, right?

Dear Antonia. The photo I wish I took of her happened yesterday: Antonia sitting in a tiny island of space in the midst of a sea of ALL the wooden trains and train tracks strewn about her, grinning up at me, cheerfully chewing on the tail of a plastic stegosaurus. Felix had decided to tip all the trains out while we were busy packing a picnic lunch (and to visualise this properly, you probably need to be familiar with quite how many trains live here), but we couldn’t be annoyed – the two of them were so delightfully content, sifting through the trains and tracks together.

But the camera was not nearby. So here is my darling in the cafe at the harbour today, just before we went out there with Felix’s bike. Some of my friends have said all along she reminds them of my Mum, and in this photo I see it.

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

And now I have to show you all the other photos I took of Felix, because they are just too adorable. The dandelion is now wilting in my bag, after I rescued it from being eaten by Antonia in the park. But who could resist?

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