Weeknights

We’ve had a couple of nice evenings this week. Nothing spectacular, but nice all the same. It’s dark by 5 o’clock. Felix has found a bit of a groove cutting things up and colouring them in. He showed me how his friend taught him to draw a snake. Last night we got the craft box out and he made a helicopter and a boat out of egg cartons and paddle-pop sticks. All the while Antonia bumbled around on the floor reading herself books and building towers. Felix asked when he could learn to knit, so I made him a tomboy knitting thing out of a toilet roll. Tonight the glue was dry so I taught him how to make the stitches, and he could do it! I’m so proud of him. He’s pretty pleased with the grey and blue snake he produced.

I’d been worried about how much screen time he was having, but for some reason it wasn’t difficult to reduce it this week, and it appears to have paid dividends. Probably he’s just in a good mood but I’ll take it!

I’ve been reading up on eco-criticism and writing a conference paper on my latest literary crush – Kathleen Jamie. I have so many ideas, though writing is, most of the time, a slow slow thing. But honestly, do yourself a favour and get a copy of Sightlines.

Antonia has settled again at the barnehage this week which is an enormous relief. They told me she’s really getting into the music.

Domestic life between the adults in the house has been pretty harmonious too. There’s lots of good stuff coming together at M’s work.

Felix is learning about planets and solar systems in the barnehage so there are lots of discussions about how the moon relates to the earth, and which planets we could travel to, and how long would it take to get to the sun, and are rockets really clean, and what button do you need to press, and what about the other solar systems. Antonia is enchanted with the moon. ‘Ball!’ she declares enthusiastically whenever she sees it.

 

One day

day1

These photos were all taken on one very full day at the end of June. We started out bright and early – around 6 – with trains, coffee beans and blocks. Felix had seen a picture of a wooden train track and a wooden-block town in one of his picture books the night before, and as soon as he woke up he demanded we head downstairs and get to work.

day2

After that we made scones for breakfast.

day3

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and Felix cuddled the baby.
day7

Then I took him on a trip to the University College, because he’s always asking to visit my work. I didn’t take any photos there but he met some of my colleagues, at his sandwiches in our lunch spot, did some photocopying and stapling and made a little book including some colouring-in pictures that one of my colleagues kindly printed out for him. Then we went home and he coloured them in.

day8

Afternoon snack time – I finished my baby blanket and Felix made a duplo train track, and bricked up one of his engines in a huge shed.

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He was so proud of himself!

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The digger had to come and rescue the engine.

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Then it was time to cook dinner. Felix made his own ‘chocolate and raspberry cake’ on the kitchen floor. And I bet he went jumping on the trampoline later. So many things…

day12

Before I was Felix I missed you

This evening I sat outside with Felix for half an hour before bedtime. I sat on the steps and knitted a baby blanket. He sped around riding his tricycle on the deck. It was pretty cold – I had to swap to my winter coat, but it was nowhere near dark. Michael had taken him outside to drive the remote control car, and then Felix asked for his bike, and we swapped. Felix is pretty good at pedalling now – he’s been practicing in the barnehage. He’s very proud of himself. He would ride up to me, stop, then say ‘goodbye Mummy, see you later!’ and do another round. It was one of those perfect moments – the grey-gold light between the still bare trees and the houses and the green green lawns, the tiny beginnings of new leaves on the hedges, the first rows of the baby blanket under my fingers, and Felix coasting around and around, chatting as he passed. And he said: ‘Mummy, before I was Felix I missed you soooooo many time’.

And it seemed as if time was centred in this moment, everything before and after pointed to now.

We have been talking a fair bit lately about where people come from, and about things that happened before Felix was born (he always says, but where was I?). He says, ‘When I was a baby…’ And he says, ‘When you were a baby…’ He says, ‘Who’s tummy was Daddy inside?’ He says, ‘how do you make a Felix?’ (Ask your father.) Once in the car he said: ‘When you were a little guy… Are you going to be little again?’ ‘No, I’ll never be little again.’ ‘But I want you to be small like me!’ ‘But I can’t be small because then I couldn’t look after you.’ ‘I want you to look after me.’

When we first started talking about the baby, he said, ‘There’s a baby in your tummy? And it’s not me?’ And later, we were walking by a busy road, and I said ‘be careful Felix and listen to Mummy otherwise a car might crash into you and there won’t be any more Felix.’ ‘Yes there will,’ he said, ‘in your tummy.’

He talks about the baby nearly every day. Last night we all sat on the sofa. He pointed at my leg. ‘One,’ he said. Then at Michael’s leg – ‘two.’ Then at himself – ‘three’, and then at my belly – ‘four’.

Truly his curiosity has been one of the nicest things about this pregnancy so far. It is a pregnancy I have longed for for more than two years, since Felix was a baby himself. I was not sure it would happen again, and I feel so utterly lucky. It is strange to think that the probability is very high now indeed that I will have a baby at the end of this. Things will change. And I am trying, in these last three months in which there are only three of us, to soak my little boy in, to listen to him, to be present for him.

As he rode around he talked to himself and to me. ‘The baby doesn’t like to sykler?’ he said. ‘No, it’s not so safe. But I’ll ride again later when the baby has come out.’ ‘When the baby’s bigger…’ He rode some more. ‘Do more stitches!’ He demanded, when I paused to look up over the trees. (A welcome change from his customary demands that I stop.) ‘I’m going to take care of you,’ he said. ‘And Daddy. And the baby.’ And then he told me he missed me before he was born.

Mushroom hunting

mushroom_hunting

We went to the forest, and Felix hunted for mushrooms.

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We found hundreds, all shapes, big and small, but I didn’t think to photograph them. I’m wearing a t-shirt I knitted myself in the summer holidays. It reminds me of sunshine and honey.

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We told Felix not to pick the mushrooms because the moose needed to eat them.

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And the crocodiles, he said.

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Yellow

I finally finished another jumper for Felix, the aptly-named ‘troublemaker sweater‘. I worked on in all autumn, while the leaves on the birch trees turned exactly that yellow, and then fell away, one by one. Now all the leaves have gone. It is November and November is grim. Maybe the yellow jumper will brighten our days a little. It is huge; it will fit him next winter, too. I love it: it is knit in alpaca and is super-soft, super-stretchy, super-warm. I am particularly pleased with the casting-off around the neck – I had to unpick my first attempt as there was no way it would fit over his head, but now that I have mastered the surprisingly stretchy bind-off, it would probably fit over mine! Felix is a creature of habit and did not want to try it on. ‘Green!’ he begged, ‘green!’ (He wears his green jumper every day.) I hope he’ll get used to it soon.

20 months

20 months sounds very close to two years old – how did that happen? I don’t have time to write much this month, but you are gorgeous, sweet, gentle, funny, cheeky, chatty little thing, and I love you to bits. (That’s the jumper I knitted, btw – you wear it most days!)

You really love drawing and riding your bobby car, preferably at the same time.

You have strong opinions and prefer your shoes and socks to have stars on them. Whenever someone leaves the room (or hangs up on skype), you say: ‘more Grandma/Poppa/Garry/Linda/Robert/Nea/Charlie?’ Every Wednesday and Saturday morning you ask to see ‘Dama’ and ‘Poppa’ on the computer, and you squeal with delight when they appear.

You talk a lot and your memory is amazing. It’s so funny to hear about what’s going on in your head. You’re getting proficient at doing simple puzzles and putting duplo blocks together. As always, you love water, which is lucky because there’s a lot of it around at the moment.

You love to make a mess (inside and out), and then declare with concern: ‘messy!’ Last week the first thing you said when you woke up was: ‘Clean the floor! Clean the bath! Clean the bed!’ I can hardly keep up with you, but you certainly make me laugh.

Mountains

Still alive, still knitting, and therefore not blogging much. And I can’t even find my camera just at the moment so I can’t show you my more than half finished jumper – only one sleeve and a collar to go. I’m ridiculously pleased with it, but it won’t be cold enough for Felix to wear it for several months, unless he were, say, on the top of a mountain. The weather has been gorgeous here over the weekend and we’re making the most of the last summer days. Michael took these mountain photos in Austria and I’ve been meaning to put them up for a while. We took three legs of a cable car to get up there, and the landscape was so bleak and rocky, it was like visiting the moon.

Little artist

I’ve been sitting on these photos for nearly a month now, but Felix was doing some lying on his tummy on the floor, drawing, again today, so I thought it was a good time to post them.

Felix and I survived the first week back but we are so happy it’s the weekend now. August in Norway and the autumn is just around the corner – there is a chill in the air most evenings. It’s rekindled my enthusiasm in knitting, which is severely cutting into my blog time. I’ve discovered two-colour knitting and I’m hooked. I’ll see if I can convince the photographer to take a picture of my work in progress tomorrow, although I can’t promise anything because I think he finds few things as boring as knitting. Anyway, awwww. Isn’t my little guy sweet.

Here

I’m afraid I’m going to regale you with yet more pictures of you know who. We’re going to Germany next week so maybe we’ll get the inspiration to take a photo of something else. Michael took these in the garden on Saturday. We were out there for hours, on Sunday too. You can follow the progress of the weather by the gradual reduction in Felix’s outdoor wear over the last few posts!

It’s pretty fun watching Felix gather up the courage to explore the garden. It reminds me of watching our kittens discover it, nearly two years ago. By Sunday he was crawling all around, pulling the little pine cones off the sticks, turning around to check whether he was allowed to eat them or not. His favourite thing is to crawl up and down the stairs to the deck. He’s getting pretty adept at it. He’s also pretty happy with the swing that Michael strung up on our tree.

I think all the sun we’ve been getting lately has done something funny to my head, because despite the even more dreadful than usual night’s sleep we got last night, I feel so happy. I have been enjoying work lately and Felix has really adjusted well to being in the barnehage. I often get to see him during the day for short periods, and he’s even beginning to get used to that, and is not crying quite so much when he spots me.

In other news I recently had an article published in Bøygen, a journal put together by some Masters students at the University of Oslo (ooh, and I just discovered that the title refers to a great troll-snake, from the Peer Gynt story). It is a really beautiful little journal. The theme of this issue was ‘place’, and they have essays in Norwegian and English about the role on place in literature in places as diverse as Norway, Israel, Australia. The essays are interspersed with black and white photographs, mainly of Oslo. It really is lovely and it’s a bit of a thrill to be a part of it.

In the small pockets of time between child-rearing, working, and folding laundry, I have been reading Anne Enright’s Making Babies, a very beautiful collection of essays, recommended by Blue Milk. And I have been knitting. I’ve started one more vest for the little guy. It’s quite addictive. It was in this cabin, just outside the Glacier National Park in Montana, that I decided I absolutely needed to learn to knit. It was something about the self-sufficiency of the little cabin in the woods that didn’t even have electricity, and seeing Felix wearing a cardigan knitted by my Nanna. I thought it would be a satisfying thing to do. I was right. It has exactly the right balance between challenging and soothing; it is heartening to see your progress even if it is slow, the texture and colour of the yarn between your fingers is lovely, and there is something entirely wonderful about seeing your own child all snug in a jumper you made for him.

Wednesday

I was going to write a post entitled ‘slog’, and it was going to be about how hard we have been working. Clearing out the spare room in the evenings once Felix has gone to sleep (after we have worked all day) has been tough. There is still more to do, but we have cleared out enough now to get him in there. And then of course the poor fellow starts teething again, so settling him into the new sleeping arrangements has been more difficult than it otherwise would have been, and we are still not getting nearly enough sleep. So we are tired. But I have changed my day off from Friday to Wednesday, and that is better, much better. This afternoon the sun shone and Felix and I had a picnic on the lawn.

Lying for half an hour in the sun with my favourite boy and my favourite creatures was more than enough to restore my spirits.

Also I’m very proud of myself because I knitted the little vest Felix is wearing, all on my own. The pattern is here. I started it a few weeks back, when I had my ear infection, at which point I knitted all night because I was in too much pain to sleep. It took me a while because I had to undo bits when I did them wrong – if I do another one I’ll be much faster. But isn’t it great! I’ll try to show you some pictures sans bib another time.

Felix chased the cats around for a bit, bounced on the trampoline with me, then made some calls. It was a very nice afternoon indeed.

A little birthday party

Today some close friends came over and we had a little birthday party for Felix. Good friends are so precious. In this photo you can also see: Felix’s lion, which was a hand-me-down from a very lovely lady in Idaho Falls, who has a son a couple of years older than Felix (Felix adores this lion, so my cake was an attempt to approximate it); the curtains my Grandma gave us; the coffee cups and milk jug my Nanna gave us for our wedding; tulips which reminded me of the ones you can see here; a vase which was a birthday present from the barnehage; a delicious cheesecake made by my lovely Norwegian friend; a colourful bowl that my parents gave me when I moved to York; a candle holder that Michael acquired many many years ago, long before I met him; and the gorgeous cardigan that my Mum knitted for me while we were in Australia, shortly after these photos were taken. So although we are a long way away from our families, we were pretty much surrounded by love. And Felix seemed to like the cake.

The little guy had a good time playing with his birthday presents and his new friend Pearce.

In the background in this one you can see the walker that we spied in a shop in Adelaide, but Michael’s parents bought for Felix in Germany. It was a happy day. Surrounded by love, indeed.

The week you turned one

You fed yourself porridge, spoonful by heaped spoonful.

The sun shone on our little house and we were happy inside it.

The tracks I made pulling you on a little sled around the tree stayed there all week.

You watched schnappi with your father.

You patted the cat, and chased him around the house, and squealed with glee every time you saw him. (Sorry that Mermos just looks like a black blob – it’s really hard to get a picture of him. It’s even harder to get a picture of Felix and Whitby together because every time Whitby hears Felix make a sound, he’s out of there.)

You slept in your pram.

You walked up and down our living room, clutching your new walker. You stood by yourself with your hands in the air and a grin on your face. You had your first full days in barnehage, which just about broke my heart. You really liked it until you were smitten with a nasty cold. You held up your lion blanky and whispered ‘raaa!’ You pointed to the sheep in you books and said ‘baa!’ You pointed out the doors, and exclaiming ‘door!’ everywhere you went. The image of you crawling up to a new doorway and peering around the corner is one I never want to forget. You looked very sweet in your new winter wardrobe. (And yes, that’s the green jumper I knitted. I am so pleased with it.) You woke me up many times, every night. But I adore you.

I am teaching myself to knit

You may never hear from me ever again. (Go have a look at Michael’s awesome Rodeo photos instead.) But yes, knitting. I am reminded of a picture book I had as a child, about a girl who wouldn’t stop knitting. Eventually she knit an entire circus tent. I’m not that far gone yet but after a shaky start I’ve figured out the basics of knit and purl. Then I tried to do that ribbed stitch, where you have to keep alternating them, and failed miserably. Now I am knitting Felix a scarf. It’s not quite living up to my ambitions, but I guess you’ve got to start somewhere.