Transitions

The sweetest, softest, cuddliest, funniest little girl is beginning barnehage next week. I’m excited about going back to work. But I don’t want to leave her. I don’t want her to cry. She’s going to cry.

I arrived to pick up Felix a bit early today and we played together in the playground with Antonia. Antonia climbed up onto the tray on the back of one of the tricycles, and stood there, holding on, so Felix jumped on and cycled her around, saying ‘look at my baby! It’s her first bike ride!’ It was the cutest thing ever. He cycled her around to the back of the barnehage and gave her a swing. Much higher than I would. She laughed and laughed. Yesterday I picked him up even earlier and they were still inside, so Felix showed Antonia one of the baby toys with little slides to roll balls down. She loves the barnehage. She’s going to be ok.

And today I met one of her new carers, and I already know the leader of her class because she had Felix for much of last year. So. I am cultivating calm. I want Antonia to know that I know she’s going to be alright there. I really wish the two of them were going to be together outside because it would be so nice for Antonia to see a familiar face, but from next week Felix will be in the big kids section and she’ll be in the baby section, which have separate buildings and playgrounds, so their paths will rarely cross.

Today was my last official day of maternity leave. Michael took Felix to barnehage in the morning. Antonia and I pottered around after breakfast. I folded half a load of washing before she demanded that I read books with her. So I read books with her. I trailed behind her as she climbed the stairs. We played in Felix’s room for a bit. I had a cup of tea and she squashed some strawberries. I fed her to sleep upstairs. My good friend dropped in on her last day of her holidays and we had a brief and lovely kid-free chat. Antonia woke up and cuddled with me for a good ten minutes, peeping cheekily over at my friend. I walked into town for an eye exam and Michael took Antonia to a cafe and a playground. I met them and gave her a feed in the park, looked for a new lunchbox for her but couldn’t decide, bought some broccoli for dinner and cucumber for her snacks, let her play in the playroom at the shopping centre for a bit, then went to pick up Felix. A simple day, a good day. There will be others.

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Antonia: a girl after my own heart. She loves to climb up onto Felix’s little chair, select a book, then sit down and ‘read’.

Felix: Mum snapped this photo of him sailing his sea plane on our recent holiday on the Swedish coast.

It has been so lovely having my parents around. We stayed down on the Swedish coast for a few nights – a gorgeous place of rocky outcrops and boat-filled harbours. It was a perfect summer holiday. The weather has not been brilliant this summer, so I felt spoilt with two days of sunshine by the sea – playing in the garden behind the B&B, clambering on the rocks at the beach, eating ice cream, cake, fish and pizza at the wharf, mini golf, bouncy castles, and a beautiful watercolour museum.

In one week I go back to work and Antonia starts barnehage. Can you believe it? My parents are off on a trip through Europe for ten days, coming back for the weekend of Antonia’s birthday. So I have some time now to focus on the transition. There are a few things left to sort out – making sure Antonia has all the gear she needs – rain clothes, shoes (she’s never worn shoes!), lunch box, rain boots etc. Not to mention locating all of Felix’s stuff too. I am excited and a little apprehensive, and I hope my dear sweet cuddly Antonia will be ok. I have been mentally preparing for this moment all year, and it is so close now that there is no time for hesitation – merely a few deep breaths before we all plunge in.

But here are some more glimpses of our trip.

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Summer holidays (29/52)

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I’m not sure why traveling around the UK with the two of them is relatively easy, even fun, but staying at home for a week with them feels, at times, like sticking pins into my eyes. Well, I sort of know. The travel thing is exciting and novel and there’s always lots to do. Here we do stuff in the mornings and I spend the early afternoon trying to get Antonia to have her nap, and the late afternoon letting her have it, and Felix gets a bit overwrought despite trampolines and craft supplies. But today we had a very nice morning in the newly upgraded playground in town, and on Monday (when I took these photos) we enjoyed going out for a piece of cake at the bakery in the shopping centre.

Michael couldn’t understand why I found the above photo so amusing, but for me it sums up a lot of my days. Antonia: what have you go there, Mummy? Can I have it? Felix: Twirling about in his own little world, covered in cake crumbs, planning his next antic/question/project/point of discussion. The other day we ended up talking about what people looked like in the nineteenth century, because he wanted to know. (He doesn’t know about the nineteenth century, really, but he knows about ‘when there were steam trains’).

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Today Antonia got a huge bruise on her head from falling off Felix’s wicker chair, and Felix had a massive melt-down at dinner time, exactly as Michael walked in the door, because he couldn’t stick together the little sticks he was pretending were logs in exactly the way he intended. Good thing they are cute.

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Felix: narrating as always as he explores the kids farm at Nordens Ark – a big animal park about an hour south of us. We went with some friends on Sunday and it was great. There were real tigers and panthers in the other part, but Felix was most enamoured with a wooden cow that you could milk and it squirted out water. He filled a bucket and then tried to give it to the cow to drink!

Antonia: tired out at the end of the day. She was asleep moments later.

I took hardly any photos this week as we were just settling back into life at home. Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week in 2015.

Ten months, Eleven

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Dear child, you are so soft. You are all softness. Your hair, your cheeks, your skin. Especially after your bath. Last night when you wouldn’t sleep I stroked and stroked you and you didn’t mind. And neither did I. You give the best, best hugs. When we said goodbye to my cousins in Edinburgh, you leant over from my arms and snuggled your face into each of their chests.

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Today you are eleven months old. As soon as you were ten months, you seemed so much older. You mastered waving. You learnt to clap, and clap you did – for me, for your brother, for anyone who smiled at you, and above all for yourself, every time you did something clever and new, such as climbing up Felix’s wicker chair and pulling out all the books from the shelf. Just this past week you have started passing us things and waiting for us to give them back.

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You love to read and sing about ducks. We have a book that goes along with the song ‘Five little ducks’ and you are so good at it now, I sing: ‘and mother duck said’, and you pipe up: ‘goh! goh! goh!’, which is a pretty good attempt at a quack. You have since decided that all animals say ‘goh goh goh’, and you are very pleased to pick up a duplo animal, wave it in the air and make your animal sound.

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You adore our cat Whitby. You try to kiss him every time he comes close to you. We have a book with a picture of a cat with a furry tummy, and you kiss that, too. You have just started ‘reading’ books instead of merely eating them, and you have an impressive amount of concentration. The other day I found you on Felix’s chair turning the pages of a book, babbling, and pointing at the pictures.

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Even more than your cat, you love your people. You greet Felix and Michael every morning with a very pleased smile. When grandma calls us on skype, you wriggle your arms and legs and beam with joy. In the coffee shop the other day Michael called us on skype (I had the computer out cos our internet at home was broken) and you were amazed, you couldn’t stop laughing.

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You are brave, and fast, and intrepid. If there are stairs, you must climb them. If there are chairs, you must climb them. If there are stones, you must eat them. If there is a table, you reach up on tippy toes, holding on, to look over it. You can stand on your own for brief seconds. You cruise around clutching the furniture. On the trampoline, you bounce yourself on your knees, saying awah awah awah. If Felix jumps next to you and topples you over you laugh and laugh and get up again.

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If you are hungry or tired, you climb on top of me and rest your head on my chest. Breastmilk is still your primary form of sustenance. You often eat a good dinner, but apart from that, snack on cucumbers and me.

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On Sunday afternoon we all sat out in the garden, happy to be home and together. It was hot. We remembered Felix lying under the very same trees, only a few months old. I wonder if we would remember that, said Michael, if we hadn’t taken the photos. All the same, I didn’t get out the camera. It was good to just be. You were wearing a navy blue cotton dress covered in white flowers and you sat on the picnic rug for ages, totally engrossed in placing wooden rings and duplo people in and out of a box. Felix wanted us to bounce on trampoline but we persuaded him to blow bubbles instead, and so, for a few moments, we were totally content, watching the colours of the bubbles, trying to catch them. Then you were hungry, so you rested your head on me and I obliged. ‘Nom nom!’ you said affirmingly, before getting down to business.

You are so lovely. We adore you.

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Felix: playing hide and seek with his big girl cousins at the Edinburgh castle playground. So small. So determined.

Antonia: getting covered in muddy sand at Portobello beach.

And that’s it. Five days in Edinburgh staying with my cousin and his family, and we’re back in Norway. My kids had the time of their lives hanging out with their second cousins, but that deserves a post of its own. The trip – two and a half weeks in the UK sole parenting the two of them – was excellent in every way. Now for a precious month of summer at home as a family of four before beginning work in August. Bring it on.

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