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All of a sudden, summer. On Saturday night we got back from a few days in Kristiansand. We’d never been there before, and it was gorgeous. It’s Norway’s favourite holiday town, and has a very famous zoo and kid’s theme park, which has been a national treasure for fifty years now. Michael took the kids one day while I was at a conference. The conference was great, and a real thrill for me – I got to present a paper on my current favourite poet, and she was actually there, listening! She even laughed in the right places.

We took the ferry from Stromstad to Sandefjord, and that was lovely too, all sparkling sea and low granite islands. We didn’t get any photos of the trip, but on Sunday, once we got back, I was lucky enough to go with some friends to a rocky, granite outcrop, complete with tiny islands, not far away from here. Felix tried crab fishing for the first time – he was very intrigued, but a little too nervous to pull them in without help. Antonia jumped at the chance to sample the local mud.

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I’m cheating a little, because I took these photos last Sunday, not the week before. I meant to take some the week before, but couldn’t get the camera operational in time. It would have been the same photo but in better light (evening, not morning), and the kids were wearing their fleece-lined raincoats. It’s gone from really quite cold to really quite hot over night.

Antonia is obsessed with Felix right now and wants him to do everything for her. Strap her into the stroller. Push her in the swing. ‘Gegick, push!’ she cries. ‘Gegick, come!’

Today it is two weeks until we get the keys to our new house. Soon we need to start packing. This weekend, I suppose. I am very excited about our new place but it is strange to think we will leave here. The blossoms are out in our garden. We’ve been hanging out outside a lot – having pretend picnics on the lawn, complete with friends and mini tea sets, digging in the sandpit, swinging, bouncing on the trampoline, sliding down the little plastic slide. This evening Felix climbed up the slide, grabbed hold of the dangling branches of the tree, and swung down onto the ground. Practicing paragliding, he said.

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One of those Sunday mornings where everything goes right. We made an apple cake early in the morning and Felix insisted on peeling and coring the apples himself. Antonia helped me make the cake batter and put the apple pieces on. Then my dear friend came over with her two children, and the apple cake and cream went down a treat, and then somehow we ended up with play-doh and matchsticks out and the kids played happily for ages.

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Saturday was nice too – we played in the park for hours and hours, and had lunch in the cafe across the street. We kept bumping into people we knew. Felix had an icecream with his best friend while Antonia napped in her stroller, and when she woke up she was ready for action once again.

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Just for fun here’s Felix, just a little younger than Antonia is now, riding the same horse. (From this post from July 2012.)

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Feeling tired, but good-tired, after a weekend packed with friends and kids riding bikes. We even did some work in our yard this morning. We often lament the fact that we haven’t done outdoor work, so decided it was time to stop lamenting and just all go outside together and have a go. It was nice.

It’s not exactly warm yet but it is light well into the evening, and a lot more pleasant outside than it was last month.

The kids were absolutely gorgeous last night, climbing up onto the armchair together and spontaneously reading a book.

And they’re both loving their bikes. We got Antonia a balance bike at Easter in Germany and spent quite a lot of time waddling after her giving her little pushes and stopping her falling over. Very hard on our backs. But now she’s able to walk it along by herself. She doesn’t glide along yet but it’s a start! She insisted on ‘riding’ it nearly all the way to the park from the carpark at Michael’s work today. She wanted to ride it back, too, afterwards, and was very sad when I had to trap her in the stroller as we didn’t have time…

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We took these photos just before bath time tonight when I realised I didn’t have any photos from the week. Come into the hallway where the best light is, said Michael, after I snapped a blurry one of Felix at the dining room table. Both photos feature Michael’s new toy, lego TARDIS. Both children are entranced. Antonia is not really allowed to play with it, but I noticed she was being very quiet and when I went to check on her she was sitting up to the table, making the little lego Dr Who figures climb up and down the TARDIS stairs.

This weekend was considerably better than last weekend, but I am STILL SICK with sinus pain, headache, a nasty sore throat, and a low grade fever. I am somewhat fed up and steeling myself to get some writing done this week despite feeling groggy. I managed to take the kids swimming on Saturday morning which they enjoyed. Antonia was happy to wear her floaties around her arms (like Felix does) but refused to go in her ring. She did manage to swim around for a little while on her own with the floaties on, even twisting in a circle, before getting a mouthful of water and needing assistance. After her nap we went to the local shopping centre and had a coffee, bought some photo frames and a few groceries. Felix found the shopping cart shaped like a car and was gracious enough to let Antonia sit in it, when I warned him that was not negotiable. The only problem was trying to get her out of it, later.

Today some friends came over in the afternoon, and my achievement for the day was this black forest inspired chocolate sponge cake, with cream, cherries, and cream mixed with chocolate. I used this recipe for the sponge and it was delicious.

Now it’s nine o’clock and I’m going to bed, to see if an early night can help me kick this thing. Good night!

 

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Not a week I’m in a hurry to repeat, coloured by upsetting news from far away, ferocious colds and slushy snow. We’ve all had colds but Antonia and I have been the worst hit. Managed to take the kids out to the cafe yesterday which was the highlight of Felix’s day. He drew two Thomas the tank engines, complete with smiley faces and yellow number 1s, and a more abstract looking drawing which he said represented a ladder falling apart. I didn’t get time to aim for better photos as they both wanted to commandeer the camera. Felix took the one below of me drawing a ‘wow wow’ for Antonia. Looking at the photos on the camera, Antonia pointed out ‘Tonya’ and ‘Bebix’ for the first time. I was so proud.

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Felix: making echoes.

Antonia: very pleased with our matching hats, as we wander around the roof of the Opera house in Oslo. It’s very cool and looks a bit like an iceberg.

I took these photos on Tuesday, when we arrived back in Oslo from a mini-cruise to Copenhagen. Our friends invited us to come with them, and it was so much fun! We slept on the ferry on Sunday and Monday nights, and had a day in Copenhagen on Monday. Copenhagen was lovely. I think my family was most enamoured with the lego shop. Michael got a Dr Who Tardis set, Felix got a Jurassic World dinosaur, and Antonia got a duplo whale and an igloo. These were cute enough to get past my no-more-duplo-in-the-house-we-have-nowhere-to-put-it rule.

This week the sun has come back and today we went to the forest with some friends. I had promised Felix he could ride his new bike. When we got there I discovered the path was still basically pack ice with a light sprinkling of snow on top. Up and down two kilometres of hills. Too late to say no. Off he went. I am proud and relieved to say he was absolutely fine and only fell over three times and did not complain or break any limbs. I didn’t get any photos because I was trying not to slide down said hills while pushing Antonia in the stroller. It was quite invigorating but never again.

Here are some bonus photos of the two of them hitting the musical dance floor in the science museum in Copenhagen.

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Spiderman and the snow princess. Getting ready for Carnival at barnehage. Sorry for the dreadful quality of the photos but it’s all I can manage at the moment. Felix adores his spiderman costume and Antonia even attempted a couple of twirls in her dress. It was her first day back at barnehage after nearly a week home with a fever.

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Felix: so thrilled to be five.

Antonia: in her party dress. It was so hard to get a photo as she wouldn’t say still!

I’m very late adding these photos. We were so tired after Felix’s party last weekend, but it was pretty special. I made the cake this year (with help from the two of them). Felix had been planning a ‘Connor’ cake (friend of Thomas the Tank Engine) for a whole year.

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It rained all weekend. Here is Felix drawing in the cafe, and Antonia in her play kitchen wearing her floaty ring. As you do. We went to the pool yesterday and they loved it. I think we’ll start doing that more.

We also made pumpkin scones this weekend out of the kids cookbook Felix got for Christmas. They were yum and really fun to make. Antonia now insists on getting in on the act so they both perched on a kitchen chair and stirred with a wooden spoon each. My favourite mental image is Antonia’s soft little paw enthusiastically patting the dough.

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Not the best quality images, but evidence that I dragged them outside this afternoon to muck around in the remaining snow… We had a week and a half hovering around -15 and it was too cold to be outside much but ah so beautiful. The whole world was frosted white and the sky was clear most days apart from little gauzy wisps of cloud, varying shades of pink and gold and pearly blue. Now the world is grey and soggy. But we had a nice weekend all the same.

I think my snowman building skills need work though. In the photo below Felix is about to start wailing because Antonia is tipping the snowman’s head off – which he had planned to do!

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And my dear, dear, puffball Antonia is about the sweetest thing in the world right now.

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Felix: haircut!!! His first at a hairdresser. A big deal. He chose the style himself, to match Michael. He’s very particular about applying wax to make it stick up… I’m a little sad but think he looks gorgeous and it’s easier to kiss his cheeks now.

Antonia: my happy, happy, bundle of squish. She’s just loving it here.

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This week has been quite a blur, preparing to leave for Australia, looking after the kids on my own, and a lot of workshops on at work. Plus my students’ exams. Plus, you know, three days of fever from the littlest. But my eye is on the prize, now, we are nearly there.

I took these last weekend. I love how Felix looks still like a little boy in this shot, sometimes he seems so big to me I have to remind myself he is small. And Antonia was cooking up a storm.

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Felix hanging out with one of his best buddies and one of mine at the fortress playground on Sunday afternoon.

Antonia wobbling towards me.

I didn’t get a photo of the two of them painting together on Tuesday morning (Felix was home with a fever) but it was very sweet. Felix wanted to paint and as soon as I got the paint and brushes out Antonia was pointing at them and tugging her highchair – no chance of her getting left out of the action!

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

November garden (45/52)

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Michael is away again this weekend. We went into town yesterday and had some friends over for dinner in the evening. Today the sun was shining but Felix didn’t feel like going anywhere. It was actually really nice not to hop in the car all day. We played lego, changed all the bed sheets, did a craft kit while Antonia had her nap, went outside for a bit in the afternoon, and baked scones at Felix’s insistence after our scrambled eggs for dinner. Work is getting really busy at the moment, and I’ve noticed a certain end of semester fatigue setting in, but after this weekend I feel ready to power through the final through weeks to exams.

Yesterday, Felix mopped the floor for me. The mop was *cough* quite a novelty. Today Antonia let me brush her teeth without screaming the house down. This was quite a novelty, too. I sang a teeth brushing song instead. At the end, I said ‘well done Antonia, high five!’, hoping to distract her from her tiny bit of protest at the end. She beamed, took the tooth brush out of my hand, and gave me a high five. I’ve never done this before – they must do it at barnehage. Felix hopped out of his bath without complaining and they spent the next five minutes high-fiving each other and giggling their heads off, before Antonia insisted on handing out the baby pine cones that Felix and I had collected. It totally made up for Felix’s mini tantrum earlier when he decided that he did want to go out after all once it was too late.

Love. Love. Love.

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

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Felix: concentrating.

Antonia: grinning, clambering over me. (I actually have a series of photos of that smile.)

Yesterday was a lot quieter than planned as we had to cancel hanging out with Felix’s best friend as Antonia was sick. Felix was sad. But he played with his sister, all the same. I love these two.

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

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Felix: swinging high.

Antonia: under the weather and over-tired, at last submits to being strapped into the stroller. Felix took this. Michael has taken to calling her Beethoven, because of the curls. ‘What’s Beethoven’, asks Felix. It has led to some sweet moments of the two of them sitting on his lap, watching a performance of Ode to Joy on youtube.

It’s almost exactly a year since I took these photos in the old town in Fredrikstad. I thought to myself – I’ll go back and take another one of the pair of them on that sofa in that cafe. We met up with a good friend and her two year old and went to the train museum, but our favourite cafe was completely packed, so no sofa photo. Antonia has been in poor shape, but I enjoyed the misty autumn afternoon anyway. The kids were tired after half an hour in the playground, so no time for landscape photos either, but that little town is so pretty this time of year, it’s good for the soul.

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

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I almost didn’t bother with a post this week, because I already had two portraits I love in this post from Wednesday. But then Michael snapped this sweet one of Antonia wearing a box. On Friday we went for a walk in the forest with some friends and ended up an an awesome playground. Felix was in heaven. We went there with his best friend and two other boys their age, and they did not stop racing about together for nearly three hours. Felix was so enraptured with the place he begged us to take him back there on Sunday, so we did.

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

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And here are a couple of the four boys all together. I love how they show how energetic and connected they all are, tearing about in their own little world.

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Felix: thinking about something, sporting his new cap from the fire station. Autumn is a good time for kids’ activities around here – yesterday there was the annual Høstmarked in town, complete with baby chicks, sheep, calves, plastic tractors for the kids to ride around a make-shift race course (they both had a turn – Felix cycled his tractor himself but I pushed Antonia). The fire station was open too and Felix got to practice with a fire hose and picked up his cap. On top of all that there was a fun fair as well.

Antonia: loving being left to her own devices with her yoghurt.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children every week in 2015. I’m so pleased to have the good camera back in action again.

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We had a truly gorgeous weekend, but I have been negligent with photos. The only one I have in which Felix makes an appearance is the top one, where he’s scrambling up to the trampoline in the background. It rained on Saturday but on Sunday morning the sun blazed despite a cold wind. The littlest one is just so happy in the sandpit.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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Felix: the boy loves his trains. And grass and stones and stories and running and jumping, and the giggles of his baby sister.

Antonia: she loves the grass and stones and dirt and sticks and leaves and space to crawl and rocks to climb and oh she loves her brother.

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

I took these pictures in the museum gardens in York this afternoon. It’s our last day here. We’ve done everything I hoped to. We even made it to the second birthday party of the son of a dear friend yesterday, and it was fabulous. We went back to the train museum today, and later, when the weather cleared, chilled out in the museum gardens. When we arrived I was so utterly tired that when Felix asked me to play with him I sent him off to make friends with random children, left Antonia in the stroller for a minute, and stretched out on the lawn. This could not last long – Antonia insisted on crawling around and I had to watch them both, but I noticed after half an hour or so, I didn’t feel so weary. I did play with Felix, and after a brief battle, the train and the cars went to the supermarket together, and swimming in the sea, and had a sleepover, and it was all rather sweet. There’s no playground in this park but it’s conducive to play anyway – with ruins to jump from and lawns to run about. It was a lovely afternoon.

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And I couldn’t resist posting this one too, although it’s crooked. My little barefoot pudding in the grass – I could just eat her up. Her clothes get filthy at the moment but I have to let her play.

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Felix: asleep with his mouse and his London bus.

Antonia: swinging with my brother. Antonia is discerning with new people but she loved Jon immediately.

I spent this week in London with the kids while Michael was in America. We stayed in a hostel near Hyde Park and visited my brother and his girlfriend, went to six different playgrounds, five museums, and went on the underground, a London bus, taxis, an a boat on the Thames. And walked and walked and walked.

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Felix: at the beach on our last day in Germany.

Antonia: learned to clap this week! What an achievement this is! She is so so pleased with herself. She’s wearing the most gorgeous cardigan here that my Nanna made for her. I took this photo up at the lawns of the fortress where we spent the day with my aunt and uncle, visiting from Australia.

Linking with Jodi for a portrait of my children once a week (a little late, this time) in 2015.

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Felix: posing at a mock castle with Michael’s SLR – Felix had such fun taking photos on our holiday (another post to follow soon, hopefully).

Antonia: loving the beach at Schonberg Strand, near Kiel, on our last day in Germany.

We had a fabulous time in Germany (or Deutchland, as Felix insists), and got home last Sunday. I have so many photos to share with you but our internet is broken! I am snatching ten minutes of internet time in a cafe while Antonia naps in her stroller.

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

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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.

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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

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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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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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Felix: his latest creation: squares inside cubes. These magnet shapes were his birthday present from my Grandma, and he has played with them so much.

Antonia: crawling at great speed across the hallway, curly as anything after her bath.

Today was Michael’s birthday and we invited some friends over and had a lovely but busy time eating marzipan cake and ANZAC biscuits. I’ve been finding it hard to keep up the photographs recently, so I snapped these just before bedtime this evening (a bit like last week). But I don’t mind the very ordinary moments they capture  – the kids’ scatty energy at 6.30pm, the open dishwasher, the hallway. We won’t always live here, I guess, and I do love this house – its squareness, its snugness, its windows. Antonia is so very pleased that she can open the door from the lounge to the hall herself, and crawl all the way across it and into the bathroom. And Felix, these days, is a non-stop creator – rockets and balls out of magnet shapes, drawings of trees and flags, geometric patterns with his little plastic beads.

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

And I couldn’t resist a couple of extra shots of the curls.

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Felix: chilling out on a Sunday evening after a busy weekend of baking, socialising, and bouncing in the sun.

Antonia: doing the same.

Often there’s a sweet spot after dinner in which the kids are happy enough to bumble around for a while and we can even drink a cup of tea. This evening Felix was a little overwrought after a full afternoon playing with Michael and our visitors – he was still demanding loudly that we play with him,  but we all needed quiet, so Thomas the Tank Engine and pita bread pizza came to the rescue. There is quite a lot of satisfaction in giving your kid exactly what they need when they need it. Antonia had more energy to play after a big drink of milk. Now both munchkins are asleep (for the moment at least) and we are savouring the quiet. Happy Sunday evening to you all. x

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

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Today we went to the Inspiria Science Center for the birthday party of one of Felix’s classmates. Felix could not get enough. He was still scampering around, testing out the various exhibits four hours after we arrived, when everyone else had gone home. His favourite was a magnetic parachute launcher, but these giant amber coloured beads gave me the best photo. Antonia enjoyed herself as well – after a long nap in the ergo she was pretty excited to clamber all the way to the end of this tunnel and out again.

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

More fun below.

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Felix, sporting a new crooked haircut (it always takes me a few days to straighten up the ends), lets me take photos of him in the window of the harbour cafe as he gleefully repeats some nonsense phrase that appeals to him for some reason or another, probably concerning planes or cars. He immediately wants to look at the pictures of him saying whatever it was. We’ve just been to the dentist, next door, and are having a coffee (me) and a bun (him) before I take him back to barnehage. I have a fever (and will be so very unwell for most of the week) but it is a nice morning all the same.

Antonia, unapologetic, has crawled into the centre of Felix’s train track. Felix has tried a variety of strategies to thwart her efforts, such as barricades of toys and chairs, but nothing works. ‘Mummy! Watch her! She’s getting there! Stop her!’ Luckily she’s not so destructive as she was during her first few successful encounters with it, now she’s explored it thoroughly already.

It’s been so enchanting watching the little crawling bundle exploring her space. I watched her realise she could crawl round corners. ‘Heh! Hah!’ puff puff puff ‘Dadadadada!’ as she engines along towards Felix’s play kitchen. I plopped her in the kitchen the other day when I was making breakfast, so she would stay away from the aforementioned train track. She bumbled around a little bit, and then she noticed the doorway. She looked through the doorway, to Felix playing. Norwegian doorways all have a bit of raised wood that you need to step over to go through them (I’m not really sure why, maybe something to do with heat retention), and up till now it had visually contained her within a room. But I could see her thinking – hang on, I could get over that. ‘Hah!’ she said, ‘heh!’ And then ‘maaaaeh!’, when after five minutes it still didn’t work. To begin with she couldn’t get her knees over, but later in the day she mastered it, spending a good half an hour crawling back and forth over it once she’d figured it out. I’m so proud of my clambering explorer, and I dearly wish I could let her loose in my Grandma’s kitchen.

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

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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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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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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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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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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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