Wednesdsay night

Ten past eight on Wednesday night, mist outside, the candle on the table from dinner still burning. Sleeping children upstairs. In a moment I will finish tidying the kitchen (Michael’s done most of it), have a shower, and read the end of the novel I am teaching tomorrow, making notes as I go. Any and all of that may be interrupted by dear Antonia, but I have already settled her once this evening, so she might sleep for a while. Antonia has been doing better at barnehage this week but she was so tired this evening I wish I had picked her up just a little earlier. Next time.

Our day started at 4 this morning when she wouldn’t go back to sleep. Thankfully we both squeezed in an hour’s nap between 6 and 7 before we had to leave.

My parents left on Monday and it was sad. A full day teaching sonnets on Tuesday cheered me up, and we are doing ok. I had a swim at lunchtime with a friend (I have a pool at work! And one of my best friends works in the exams office and can come swimming with me!), and now my shoulders are pleasantly sore. Oh, the laundry. I forgot about the laundry. Maybe I’ll fold a load of washing before I get to the novel… Maybe not.

Things Fall Apart. It is a quick read and powerful and I’ll never forget how much it moved me when I encountered it as one of the first texts I studied at Adelaide University. This time as I re-read it it touched me differently. As a mother of two children, the description of the loving sibling relationship between Nwoye and the doomed Ikemefuna just about undid me. I actually had to rush out of my office for a breath of different air.

This is my fourth week back at work and I am just about used to it. I’m teaching two literature classes and it’s busy but manageable. It could unravel fast if (when) the kids get sick. I’m sure I will stumble on through.

As I walked back to my car this afternoon it struck me – this is my job now, mine. And it was a nice nice thought.

Antonia took a couple of unassisted steps yesterday – she hardly noticed – she just wanted to get to the door to go outside. It was raining, so I didn’t open it. This evening I acquiesced and we had a little walk together up our driveway and onto the quiet road. She held my hands and stepped and stepped, occasionally getting down on hands and knees, drenching her jeans in the process, to investigate stones or weeds. She was just so excited when we encountered people walking by. ‘Ah! Ah!’ she called to make them look at her, and then she beamed. ‘So flink du er å gå!’ They all said.

I put her to bed a little early then made some promised custard for Felix which we ate together before we cleaned his teeth, and as he chatted away I thought – how lovely he is. How lucky am I.

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Felix: a moment of calm between jumping, balancing, climbing, splashing.

Antonia: on the go as ever!

The sun has not stopped shining for the past two weeks and it has been so lovely. Every evening we’ve been out in the garden, capering about on the trampoline and rolling around in the baby tent (the little ones, at any rate). Today was my parents’ last day before they fly back to Australia, so we had a picnic in the sunshine and then they put up some blinds for me in my bedroom – a job that’s been waiting around for months. Yesterday Dad put up a gate at the bottom of our stairs which means Antonia now has freedom to crawl around the hallway and play with our shoes. Mum was with us all of last week while Dad visited some of his old haunts in Lancashire. It was so excellent to have her around – she picked up the kids from barnehage, giving Antonia half days which I’m sure were much appreciated, cooked, and sorted stuff out for us, like our sandpit and the cupboard under the stairs. It’s very sad to say goodbye but I feel so lucky to have them and to see so much of them. We’re already planning to visit in December, so it’s not goodbye for long.

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

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Had the most gorgeous day in Fredrikstad with Mum and the kids last Sunday. We stopped at some bronze-age stone circles on the way – we’d driven past the sign so many times it was great to finally have a look. Both kids decided stones are for climbing. Felix discovered some blueberries in the forest. Then we drove on to the old town of Fredrikstad and after lunch and a play at the playground and feeding the goats (Antonia wanted so badly to jump over the fence to give them a kiss) we ended up at the bottom of a grassy slope. We all practiced rolling down – first Felix, then Mum, then me, and then, of course, Antonia – she refused to be left out! We only let her roll down the lowest bit but she was game. I’d forgotten how giddy it makes you feel. And we just lay on the grass and the sun shone and shone and Felix rolled and Antonia picked bits of grass and chewed on them and it was about as perfect as an afternoon can get.

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Antonia turns 1 (32/52)

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My beautiful baby turned one on Sunday. My adorable, affectionate, adventurous Antonia. Felix was there to open her presents and eat her cake. It brought back memories of Felix’s first birthday. (That party was a little quieter, because of the lack of four year olds tearing around.) But Antonia’s was as lovely as could be. Here’s a photo from the archives, exactly one year earlier, the day Antonia was born:

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Felix was shy of her, to start with, but wanted to give her her bear.

A year. A year with these two beautiful creatures. Antonia has started daycare now and it is hard to be apart, especially from her perspective. When I pick her up we hug and hug and she relaxes quickly, then demands to go scoot around on the bikes outside. She loves to stand on the platform on the back of a tricycle while Felix rides it around.

As ever, she wakes frequently at night to feed, and I stroke her hair and breathe her in. In the morning, I wake to her smile, her earnest wet kisses, her soft soft cheeks.

Felix wants to know when she will turn proper 1, when she will start to talk. He was a little surprised that she didn’t seem much different from the day before.

More from the archives. When Antonia was tiny, all she wanted was to snuggle in close.

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Dear sweet Antonia, at exactly one year old you adore your family and we adore you. You love to be outside and bounce and zoom around, and you love to be on our laps reading books. You have kisses for all of us. You can mmmmmm like a cow, buzz like a bee, meow like a cat, and rah like a lion. When you don’t want something (food, a person) you wave it away fervently. When you do want something you point with great insistence and say eh eh! When I pick you up from barnehage you sing quietly to yourself, ‘mamamamama’. I am so very glad you’re here. We love you. We love you. We love you so.

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And more pictures from her party. xxx

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Felix: requesting a photo as he swung with Antonia in the playground in town.

Antonia: playing with Michael on our bed. Felix took this – he decided he wanted to take a photo of Michael and Antonia, so he did. I just adore her curls. This age is so much fun. This evening she insisted I put on her shoes (slightly too big for her, saved from when Felix was one), so she could climb the stairs in them. It took me a while to cotton on to her request but she persisted until I understood. She proceeded to crawl around so very pleased with herself, every little while looking back to check that they were still there.

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