November Lights

November weariness hit a couple of weeks early for me this year, and by the time November started I felt that although I was tired and had a lot to do at least I was picking up speed and the end was in sight. It was such a relief to get to the end of teaching a week ago. I love teaching, but the last few weeks felt harried and scrappy, not helped by kids who kept getting sick when Michael was away.

Only one week and a couple of days left till I leave for Australia. I have my fingers crossed that the little ones stay healthy – it’s just been one thing after another. I was looking forward to a quiet week at work finalising some writing projects, sketching out some new ones and putting my exams together, but it’s Wedensday and I’ve only managed one half day so far (fevers and vomiting all round, although I’ve stayed well, touch wood). There has been a range of domestic disasters too. Our dryer broke, and then I broke it more, trying to fix it. Our toaster gave up the ghost spectacularly, flooding the kitchen with smoke and making our house smell like a campfire for a week. A tray in our fridge snapped in half, I don’t know when.

Still. There’s washing drying on the clothes horse. Another load on. We had our tyres changed over to winter tyres today, in the nick of time. The house right now is fairly tidy, the way it only ever is at 10 at night. And I thought I would sneak a little time to write, just for me. And it makes me happy.

Felix and I made a pepperkakehus (gingerbread house) on the weekend. The pepperkaker pieces came in a box, and it was so. much. fun. I’ve always wanted to do one! I did the icing and Felix arranged the sweets. Antonia watched from her high chair. I’m doing Christmas things a little early with them because it’s nice to do them here, in our own house, in a Norwegian winter. The little house looks awesome. I put the christmas tree Felix insisted on buying last year next to it, and decorated all of it with some little snowflake lights. Photo soon.

This evening we made gingerbread shapes (the dough comes in a box, how clever is that) and started decorating them. The boy shares my love of sweet and sparkly things. Antonia even insisted on joining in and managed to stick some sweets onto a gingerbread man. Felix chose the shapes we made very deliberately. Four gingerbread people, to be our family. Some trees. Some bells. No horses. But I like the horse! I said. ‘Ok, but you have to eat it.’ And he thought the angel was a transformer. After his bath, Felix chose a tree to eat. ‘Isn’t it pretty!’ he said. ‘I’m going to save the transformer for tomorrow. I’m getting into transformers.’

When I picked Felix up from the barnehage this afternoon, it was dark and misty. Often the children go back inside at this point, but his class was still out. I could barely see a thing. ‘Felix!’ I called. ‘Over there’, said his carer. A boy on a tricycle wearing a beloved brand new bright blue and dark blue snow suit with little zips careered towards me through the mist. ‘Just one more round!’ he said, and pedalled off furiously to do a lap of the barnehage. I stood in the cloudy dark, holding Antonia, getting cold. ‘Felix!’ I called again. Surely he would be back by now. And then I looked up and he came round the corner triumphantly, riding quite fast, backwards! Like one of his favourite characters from the movie Cars. ‘Wow, Felix, backwards driving!‘ I couldn’t see his face through the mist but I knew his grin would be as big as mine.

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Four

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Happy birthday to my dearest four year old, who whoops with delight at his bright green ice cream cake, then blows each candle out gently, one by one, then insists that everyone tastes it, and checks that we can save a piece for Grandma. Who makes friends with ‘little guys’ in playgrounds and cafes in two seconds flat, but is nearly too scared to listen to a picture book about little chicks and a fox, and then listens anyway, his hands over his ears. We couldn’t have invented you. We love you so.

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We had pretty much the perfect day on Felix’s birthday last Friday. I stayed up past midnight the night before re-building the trackmaster Thomas tracks he received for Christmas, as his most dearly held wish for his birthday was more ‘plastic trains’, and he would need to be able to try them out immediately. (This is a feat about 20 times as complicated as it sounds, but I can say that now I’m a pro.) He unwrapped his presents on the steps in the morning. ‘Plastic Charlie! . . . ‘Plastic Emily!’

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Mum had most of the day off so we took him to the Royal Copenhagen ice cream shop in Brighton for a pancake and ice cream breakfast. ‘We should come here again’, he said, whilst polishing off substantial portions of his chocolate smeared crepe, strawberries and chocolate ice cream. He then made friends with a little girl and sat in the window seat with her pushing his little car back and forth.

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It was then time for sandcastles, a swim and a wander on the jetty, before lunch and heading back home to play. My Grandparents came over for a simple dinner. Felix was absolutely adorable the entire time. He didn’t even kick up a fuss when he realised he had received his final present. After dinner we were all sitting downstairs and he said to my Grandparents: ‘Will you come to my birthday next year in Norway?’ My Granddad started to explain that it was a bit far away, but Grandma interrupted: ‘Peter, don’t say that. Of course.’

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Jungle Boy

Saturday-17Michael took these gorgeous photos one weekend while Mum worked in the garden. Felix had helped her for a while, and then discovered this broom handle and the need to tear around the lawn with it, racing and whooping. A Felix at three and a half is a lovely thing, if challenging at times. He is reflective and feels things very deeply, and never forgets anything. He knows how to make magic with language.

Saturday-12He likes the baby. He likes to bounce. He likes ‘sweet stuff’. (As I do. We are working on it.) He loves to cook. I had to rush out of the kitchen to settle Antonia back to sleep the other day, and when I returned he’d located his (not so sharp) knife and chopped up a carrot. He likes you to play with him.

Saturday-26He likes building things – a couple of days before Mum left he built the most amazing extenstive airport out of duplo blocks, spread over two duplo plates, complete with a control tower and a luggage belt. He loves the craft cupboard I put together in the summer before Antonia arrived. He’s an ace negotiator. The afternoon Mum left, I was madly tidying whilst Antonia slept. Felix looked at me. ‘How many things,’ he said, ‘how many things do I need to put away before I can paint?’ ‘Ummmm’ I said. But he continued to tidy up all his toys so thoroughly that I couldn’t refuse him, and he spent the next hour very carefuly covering sheets of paper in one colour each. Later, he tried to build a huge duplo bridge and it kept falling down. ‘It’s a bit unpleasant building this bridge’, he said.

Saturday-24Sometimes he whines and wails, and these are our least favourite times. Other times he can have a thoughtful conversation with you about nearly anything. He rarely stops asking questions.

Saturday-15He gives us so many hugs and kisses. He doesn’t love his ‘bear’ as much any more – he still likes him, but doesn’t notice if he’s not in his bed. He has a lot of other ‘friends’ to cuddle, and his beloved ‘echidna pillow’. Only two months ago he was asking us why grown-ups don’t have bears, and assuring us that he would still have his bear when he was a grown-up.

Saturday-14He is beginning to play more with his friends – he’s just at the cusp of a new stage. He comes home from barnehage now and tells us about a ‘shop’ he runs in the playground, where his friends come and buy toys from him. Recently we went to playground with his best friend and his mother, and it was not his day and everything went wrong and they just argued and fought and couldn’t agree who’s turn it was to drive the boat. But there were some funny moments. ‘Come up here on the deck,’ I said to Felix, ‘we need to be on the look-out for animals!’ ‘I see some fish!’ He said. ‘What kind of fish?’ ‘Blue fish!’ ‘I see some yellow fish!’ said his friend. ‘Nooooooo’, screamed Felix, ‘there are no yellow fish, they are blue fish!’

Saturday-19To us, all these things seem utterly remarkable. He knows about kings and queens and death now.

Saturday-20Sometimes his face looks suddenly older to me, and other times he’s still my baby. He is a tiny baby, he assures me.

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Two years, four months

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Lovely Felix, I’m so behind on these monthly letters that I don’t know where to start! Which means I haven’t. When you turned two I decided to cut back to every three months, and then didn’t even write one. But right now (as always, I guess) you are funny and cheeky and clever. This week you stopped wearing diapers except for sleeping, which has made me so proud! You’ve done brilliantly. And last night, when we were out in the playground in the centre of town just before bed time, you climbed up the climbing wall to get into the play structure all by yourself. I’d tried to teach you how to do this a few weeks ago, but hadn’t tried again, and suddenly you just did it! For a year I’ve been helping you up there.

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Since we arrived back in Norway after Christmas, you’ve really got into singing songs. To start with they were fairly tuneless numbers despite the words being right, but for two or three months you’ve mastered the tunes as well. This year you’ve really loved music in the barnehage, which is a big change from last year when you were scared of the music teacher. These days you even make up your own songs while riding in the car or entertaining yourself in the cot in the morning. Once I came in to pick you up and you said – ‘singing a song about a funny thing!’

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You’re obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine right now, and especially his friend Gordon. You still love planes and you like to ask us – ‘what’s this one called’ if you don’t know the word for something. You are a cheeky little monster and love wordplay (your father is right on board with this one). You have invented a word that sounds like ‘hoot’, and inject it into songs and stories to get a laugh. ‘Baa baa black sheep have you any – HOOT!’ (cue helpless laughter).

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It’s sometimes a bit of an effort to convince you to leave places (whether home or out) but we usually talk you around in the end. You have strong ideas about everything but like to listen to our explanations of things too (and parrot them back to us). ‘This one just for grown ups. When I’m a bit bigger I can have wine and beer and coffee…’ You’ve also learnt to say ‘I want it now‘, which is getting a fair bit of airplay at the moment. We don’t always oblige, but we love you to bits.

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23 Months

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You have had a beautiful month here in Australia. You recognised my parents, brother and grandparents immediately from seeing them on Skype, and you have felt at home here from the moment you stepped off the plane. You are talking so much now it amazes me, and you come out with new phrases every day.

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This months has been filled with playgrounds,

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family,

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cake,

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sun,

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beaches, friends, and babycinos.

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You’re so impressed with the babycinos that you sometimes talk about them immediately upon waking. You’ve grazed your poor knees over and over but like to point at them and reassure us that they are ‘all better now’. You like to talk about how Grandma goes to work to make ‘other people better’. You are obsessed with water, doors, cars and all your favourite people.

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When we get out of the car you say – ‘careful! lots of cars. hold mama’s hand!’ You chatter away to yourself and us nearly constantly and make me laugh and laugh. You’ve also recently suddenly got interested in giving us huge cuddles and it is quite adorable.

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Everyone here is going to miss you terribly, but I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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The deep dark wood (21 months)

A Felix took a stroll through a deep dark wood, he saw some mud and the mud looked good.

These days Felix loves the forest. He often asks for ‘more forest’, or tries to run off into the forest behind the barnehage carpark. But the other day we were reading The Gruffalo, and we got to the page where the little mouse in the deep dark wood finally meets the gruffalo, ‘with terrible tusks and terrible claws and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws’. ‘Do you think he’s going to eat the mouse?’ I said. The little body in my lap went very still. ‘No – o…’ he said quietly. He looked at the mouse. ‘No – o. Oh no. No – o.’ It’s the first time something in a book has frightened him. He still wants to read about it, but every time he sees the mouse, he says ‘oh no…’

Also, he has learnt all his colours. I am absurdly proud of him.

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.

19 months

I wrote the bulk of this post several weeks ago when you actually turned 19 months, but it is only now I’ve managed to slot in the photos, courtesy of my Dad.

This month has been all about talking. And buns from the local cafe. You love your buns. You’ve taken to parroting what we say, and you have really a lot of words now: ‘blue bus’, ‘big tractor’, ‘dinner’, ‘warm milk’, ‘Mama more cheese’. And when my Mum was supervising you climbing the stairs yesterday, you pointed to a little crack: ‘It’s a hole! Bit dirt… bit dirty.’ (!!!)  You’ve started saying people’s names: Dama (Grandma), Poppa (what you decided to call my Dad – we were saying Grenville and Granddad but Poppa it is), you say the names of all your carers at the barnehage and insist on saying goodbye to them when we pick you up. You’ve also half toilet trained yourself this month and do most of your poos (at least when you’re at home) on the potty now.

You have reveled in having my parents around and were pretty excited to visit your Oma and Opa in Kassel again, too. Unfortunately this time we didn’t get many photos.

A couple of weeks ago an old friend of mine from Australia visited with her husband and two year old son and you had a fabulous time playing with him. On Saturday afternoon your friend Linnea came over, and the three of you bounced and flopped and scampered over the trampoline while we stood in a ring around it to make sure you didn’t tumble off. It was just about the sweetest thing ever, but we couldn’t get a photo of it because we had to keep catching you!

You spent the first few days of being 19 months in a hospital in Kassel. You were terrified of the doctors and nurses but liked the cleaning lady. ‘Floor’, you said, ‘clean floor’. It was a bit scary but you coped really well and now even remind me to give you your ‘special air’ (ventolin puffer). I so loved having my parents around to share in your antics and your language explosion. You’ve also been pretty obsessed with slides this month. There were some rather huge slides in Kassel which you flew down fearlessly on your own, over and over, but here you are in Halden before we left, warming up.

18 months

Today, my darling, you are 18 months old, which is a pretty adorable age, and you are a pretty adorable boy. (These photos are from a trip to the park with Michael and your Opa during our recent trip to Germany.) You’re sleeping very well now, but more often than not you end up in our bed at some point over night, which means we wake around 6 with a little monkey bouncing up and down between us, saying ‘ogur?’ (yoghurt), ‘bow?’ (bowl). Luckily you’re content to bounce around a little while before we acquiesce and take you downstairs. The other day you were so excited on the way down the stairs that you said ‘ogur?’ ‘bow?’ ‘chair?’ ‘moo?’ (spoon). It’s very funny getting these insights into what’s going on in your head.

You’re really into sitting on things at the moment (unfortunately, including the cat) and have worked out how to climb up onto your little plastic deck chair. You come out with new words all the time. Recent acquisitions include scissors, shampoo, floor, food, knee, shop, walk, poopoo, away. You can say blue and yellow and green and you love it when I talk about the colours but I don’t think you can distinguish them yet. When we ask you ‘how many’ you try to count things. (You say two and four but not one.) It’s very cute when a bee or a fly flies close to you, and you say ‘bee! away!’, while waving your arms around enthusiastically. You are quite good at little two word phrases now, like ‘more nana’ and ‘dadda shoes’. When we were driving up the hill to the barnehage this morning (which is the same road we take to the swedish shopping centre, you said imploringly: ‘shop! more shop!’ You were very disappointed when I didn’t change our plans to suit you. I wish I could have.

Your favourite activity is to sit in the driver’s seat of the car with the car keys, playing with the steering wheel and all the buttons. Pretty much every time you see the car you want to do this. You also love busses, and point them out whenever you see one, saying ‘busss!’ Sometimes you say it when there isn’t a bus. ‘Can you see a bus, Felix’, I ask. ‘No!’ you shake your head and grin at me.

You are a sweet and cuddly little thing and love reading books with me. You are happiest when both Michael and I are around. Ah… It’s so hard to capture exactly what you’re like right now. I love when you smile and nod and meet our eyes, and when you trot around naked in our lounge room after your bath.

Seventeen months

We are in Austria right now with your Oma and Opa. When we arrived, on a rainy afternoon, we went straight to the supermarket for supplies. While Michael was putting our shopping bags into the car, I noticed some horses walking through a nearby playground, and I showed them to you. ‘Neigh neigh!’ you said. Up till now you’d only ever seen them in books and in the ‘Old Macdonald had a Farm’ song on youtube. When you woke up the next morning, before we even got you out of your crib, the very first thing you said was ‘neigh neigh!’, and pointed desperately at the window. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘there are some horses around, we’ll visit them later’. Requests to visit the ‘neigh neighs’ haven’t let up yet. Every time we take you to see them you want to see them again immediately.

Your favourite word right now is ‘more’. You want more yoghurt, more songs, more peas, more spins in the air, more horses, more cows, more tunnels, more raspberries in your bath water, more tickles, more little trecks around whatever strange thing has caught your interest. It’s not always a request, sometimes it’s just a statement that you’re going to do something again, or even checking with us if you should do something again. When we were stuck in traffic on the way down here, you were trying on my sunglasses, peeping out of them, saying ‘daaaa!’, and then, when we laughed at you, ‘more?’ And you would do it again.

It’s very cute to hear you say ‘peas!’ The word always seems to be exclaimed. Some of your new words, apart from ‘more’, are ‘bubble’, ‘turtle’, ‘key’, ‘moon’, ‘star’, and ‘yoghurt’. You’re favourite song right now is ‘Tiny Tim’ (a song about turtles and bubbles), and you are getting very good at the actions.

You’ve got very good at bossing us around. You like to sit on a step, and point to the spot next to you to indicate that I should sit down too. Or you stand up, point at the floor until I stand up too, take my hand and lead me to where you want to go.

You had your last breastfeed the day before you turned 17 months. It was more my idea than yours, I’m afraid, but you took it in your stride, which I’m pretty sure you would not have done a month earlier. I miss it a little but you are sleeping so much better now, and we still have lots and lots of snuggles.

When we were staying in the B&B in Denmark we had to wait until 7.30 for breakfast. Given that you woke up at 4.30, you were none too impressed with this. For the last ten minutes before we went in, you clutched your bib and your spoon, saying ‘yoghurt? Mama? Yoghurt?’ Again and again and again. And when we finally got in there and poured you a bowl of yoghurt, you burst into inconsolable tears, because it wasn’t in a little pot like you were used to. I had to take you outside and calm you down, and stop talking about yoghurt and offer you some cheese, before you were happy to sit in your chair again, at which point you contentedly put away about three bowls worth of yoghurt, after all.

Apart from the horses, your favourite thing about Austria were all the cable cars. The first time we took you on one you were amazed every time a carriage went past in the other direction. ‘More?’ You would ask. And sure enough, another one would show up. After that, if we were walking or driving anywhere, as soon as you spotted a cable car you would point and complain urgently, letting us know that you wanted to get on it immediately. As long as you had a banana or a piece of apple strudel to munch on on the way back down, you were pretty much in heaven.

This month has been all about connections, between things, pictures, words and people. It has been such a delight to see you form such a strong bond with your German grandparents, and you’ve also had a wonderful time lately playing with our neighbour’s daughters and some of our friends’ children. When we read your books at bedtime, one of them has a picture of a sippy cup, and you always excitedly point at the picture of the cup and then at your own cup, and at the picture of the bed and at your own bed. When we were out for dinner this evening, you were fingering the buttons on my shirt. ‘Buttons’, I said, at which point you hastily pulled up your top and pointed at your belly button. When Michael returned from America with a t-shirt for you with a picture of a tyrannosaurus on it, the first thing you did was rush to your bookshelf and pull out the book about the Gruffalo, and say ‘argh!’ They did look quite alike. Then you dug around in your duplo box until you found your duplo dinosaur. You are so much fun to be around right now.

Sixteen months: brought to you by balls, bubbles, puddles

In a couple of days, my darling, you will turn sixteen months old. You amaze us every day. You make us laugh. A couple of times this week you stretched your normal 6am wakeup to 4.30 am, which we weren’t exactly thrilled about, but as you smiled at us sweetly, your father had to ask ‘could you be any cuter?’ You took your first steps over a month ago but it has only been in the past couple of days that you’ve been comfortable just walking around everywhere without having to think about it too much. I think it’s made you much more relaxed in general. Today you were running in circles around your father in the kitchen, giggling.

Your latest words are ‘shut’, and ‘keys’. You are quite frustrated when doors are shut, but at least you have a word for it now. You are pretty much obsessed by songs with actions, and there are several we watch together on youtube every day, in addition to songs that go with your boardbooks, songs you learn in barnehage, and songs we sing in the car and in the bath. Some of your favourites right now are ‘Down at the station’, ‘Insy Wincy Spider’, and a very silly one on youtube called ‘Uh-huh’ (actually you really like all the youtube clips from Super Simple Songs). You adore your books and have taken to toddling off to pick the one you want to read next and bringing it back to me. Your favourites at the moment are any with flaps to lift, and any about trains. You love pointing out animals and practicing your animal sounds.

This weekend your parents were a bit grumpy and tired, but together we turned it all around. As it was raining today and we couldn’t think of anything else to do, we went across to the big shopping centre in Sweden again. Your father bought you hundreds of balls. When you discovered them after your nap, you couldn’t believe it. ‘Ba! ba!’ you said, tottering over to them and plonking yourself in.

Later I made us a cake. I turned 33 this week and took two of these cakes to work on my birthday, but I decided we needed one all to ourselves. It turns out a family of three can demolish a sponge roll in one sitting, even if one family member is less than a meter tall. (It’s also probably time a sponge roll featured on my blog again. Our new oven is better for baking than our old one. I’m always tempted to try out variations such as chocolate and raspberries, but I will record here for posterity that you cannot beat a sponge roll with strawberries and cream.) You insisted on eating your piece with a spoon. Mermos was also impressed and snuck in through the kitchen window to lick up the cream.

Just before your bedtime, the sun finally came out, so we headed into the garden. You ran around the trampoline for a while and had a poke in the sandpit, but got frustrated trying to walk on the lawn in your gumboots so I took you over to the driveway. Oh my. We have the best puddles. The cats couldn’t quite work out why you wanted to stand in the middle of them.

I remember a card my Mum had sent me half way through my pregnancy, with a photo of a little boy toddling down a lane. And it’s hard to say exactly what I felt, except that it was somehow momentous, seeing you stamp around your very first chain of perfect puddles, and pick yourself up when you fell.

Fifteen months

Sometimes I am astonished at how quickly you change, but you are still you. You still calm down when I sing about the animals in the bus while we’re driving, exactly like you did when you were five months old. You have the same delight when you show us a new skill as you did in the beginning. You still want to nurse every couple of hours overnight, a trait that I am not quite so keen on. You learnt to walk this month, but you still prefer to crawl.

This month has been about songs. You have learnt some of the actions to the songs in the barnehage, and you love to clasp your hands and wave them about for the bumble bee song, and point your index fingers together to make a little diamond for twinkle twinkle little star. That’s my favourite one, I think, because it’s so careful and deliberate and quiet – you do it, and wait for us to notice. The other day we were driving and you pressed the button on your little elmo to make the ‘twinkle twinkle’ song, and then made the diamond with your fingers. You also do it when you hear any other music you like. It’s just adorable. You also sing little songs to yourself, and have a good go at saying ‘baby bumble bee’ – it comes out ‘baby bee’, which is pretty close.

You’re still using all the words I mentioned last month, and have added ‘switch’ (one of your favourite things), ‘cheek’, ‘toe’, and ‘hole’. I sometimes wonder about all the Norwegian whirling around in your head…It’s funny to think about how your erratically expanding vocabulary reflects your interests. We talk about toes a lot at the moment, partly when reading ‘Ten Little Fingers, Ten Little Toes’, but mostly it’s when I want to wrangle you into your pyjamas without the tears. ‘Look’, I say, ‘I wonder if the toes are going to come out the end this time. No, there are no toes there, I can’t see any toes, I don’t think it’s going to work this time. Oh… there they are!’ You laugh and laugh.

You love the bath and never want to get out. One night I let you stay in for ages and ages, and I could tell you were tired of it. ‘Do you want to get out now?’ ‘No!’ ‘Well, do you want to stay in?’ You looked very confused.

You dramatically say ‘fffff’ and hold out your hand as to say ‘stop’, to mean something is hot. You do this to the oven, to lights, to food in bowls. You are very earnest about this and seem quite pleased with yourself. You’re excited when you get to eat hot food. Just the past few days you’ve decided that you are interested in eating a variety of food after all and the anticipation when you’re about to tuck into dinner with your spoon is just priceless. The other week when we were having a picnic in the garden, Whitby came up and tried to eat our falafels. You looked straight at him with great concern and warned: ‘ffff! ffff!’

Whitby is your best friend. It is just delightful to see the two of you together, patting and head-butting each other. I am so grateful we have a cat like that for you to hang out with. He’s very selective and is afraid of strangers, especially other children, but he adores you and always comes to visit if you’re in the sandbox. You look out for him too and tell me if you see him outside, waiting to come in.

Fourteen months

This month has all been about ‘Mamma’ and ‘Dadda’. Mostly ‘Mamma’, to be precise, but you are pretty enthralled with your ‘Dadda’ too. When we are out shopping, if Michael disappears for a few moments, you scan the scene and crane your neck until you spot him, and then you point and pronounce enthusiastically: ‘Dadda!’ If I disappear or leave the room even for a moment it is another matter altogether and within seconds you are in tears.

The middle of this month was a little challenging as you were feverish again and seemed to have terrible pains in your gums. Unfortunately there are no new teeth to show for all that suffering – I really hope they make it through next time, if that’s what that was about.

You’ve got quite a few words now:

Mamma
Dadda
Door
Bye bye
Se (look, see – I think this is your first Norwegian word)
No (accompanied by head-shaking)
Nom nom (breastfeed, food, yum)
Baa (sheep)
Ba (ball)
Ba (bath)
Bow (bowl)
Nana (banana)
Nawwww (cat, cuddle)
Aaaah! (sort of screetched. cat, meow)
Rah (lion)
Woof woof (dog)
Broom (car)
Toot toot (train)
Dom (down)
Do (stop)
Daaa (there)
Du (duck)
No (nose)
Mou (mouth)
Ah (eye)
Shoe

You’ve also made some very passable attempts at saying ‘waffle’

You take great pleasure in naming the world. Sometimes I think you point things out merely for the satisfaction of naming them. You say bye bye to everything right now, including toys and computers. You are very nearly walking. You’ve started initiating peekaboo games – hiding things behind your back, or hiding yourself, and jumping out, grinning your head off, saying ‘Aha!’ It’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

Thirteen months

Well, it’s been a challenging month for all of us, little guy, but you seem to have come through it with your cheeky grin intact. You’ve made great friends with the kitties. Whitby, who was very suspicious of you to begin with, has nominated himself as your special friend, and often comes up for snuggles. For a while there you were being very sweet indeed and saying nawwwwwww as you buried your head in their fur. Now you are a little more confident however, your displays of affection are more animated, and I am not sure how long the cats will put up with you.

The weather has been unseasonably nice for this time of year, and we are spending more and more time outside. You were pretty impressed with the trampoline.

You like zooming around on your walker. You love cars now – both toy and real varieties. In the playground the other day, you pointed at a car going past, and said ‘brrrmm!’ You’ve started holding telephones up to your ear. You love chatting with my parents on skype – you are so excited when I start the call that you clap your hands with anticipation. It is very sweet to see.

You eat grapes, strawberries, bananas, porridge, pasta with tomato sauce, bread with mackerel paste, plenty of breast-milk, and not much else. Sleep at night is still a challenge, and I have been working so hard to clear out the spare room so we can move you in there. Hopefully this weekend. Just today I noticed a new tooth coming through – your seventh, and your first for nearly four months. I was so relieved to see it because I had no idea why you had been screaming for hours.

As far as I’m concerned, you are pretty much the loveliest thing in the whole world.

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.

Words

As we walk through the supermarket, you spot the fruit and vegetables. ‘Nom nom nom!’ You declare enthusiastically. When we walk past the dog food aisle you point and squeal in delight at the pictures of the dogs.

***

‘Shall I make you breakfast now?’ I ask one morning.

‘Nom nom nom!’ you agree.

***

Your slow tumble into language makes my belly flip over. Yesterday morning we played with a little trumpet your great grandma gave you for christmas. You made me blow into it, then you worked out how to blow into it yourself. Later that day, you spot it on your mat. ‘Brrrrrr!’ you say, and go to fetch it.

***

You are playing next to the safety gate on the stairs, sticking your fingers through the slats.

‘Where’s your ball?’ asks Aunty Anne.

‘Ba!’ you say, and turn around to find it, your face awash with pleasure. It’s hard to describe just how happy you look in these moments – it was the same when you had just learnt to clap, and clapped whenever we said the word. I understand you and you understand me, your eyes say, look! For a moment you are as amazed as I am.

I am so impressed with your new word for ball that I try to tell the story to Michael. ‘And then he turned around, and said b-‘ But I am stuck. ‘Ba’ is not a word I am used to saying, and it gets stuck in my stammer. There is a small pause. You sit at my feet, watching me not speaking. ‘Ba!’ you say, before I can get it out. ‘Oh no!’ I say, ‘it’s starting already!’

We laugh and laugh.

Eleven months

It’s been a big month. About three weeks ago, Michael said to me – you’d better start writing that post now, or you’ll forget things. I didn’t start writing it then. But I will try to remember. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but even four weeks ago you just seemed different. Older. More deliberate in your interactions. And then everything started coming together.

You have learnt to feed yourself with a spoon, with great concentration and determination, and hysterical tears if we interrupt you. You’ve got the basic motion sorted out and are very good at putting the spoon in your mouth, but you haven’t managed to get too much food onto it yet.

You’ve started waving and saying ‘bye bye’. You don’t do it very often, but it is just about the cutest thing in the whole world.You’ve started pointing at absolutely everything. You also point when you want something, like blueberries, or water, or my drink (after becoming bored with your own!). You had your first Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. My family showered you with presents.

‘Dardle ardle’ is still your favourite sound, and sometimes you use it as a greeting. You babble almost constantly and try pretty hard to imitate our words. Mum reckons you have at least five words already – ‘bye bye’, ‘door’, a garbled version of ‘hello’, ‘da’ for ‘there’, and ‘dadda’, which is morphing into ‘daddy’.

It’s been so much fun watching you work out how to crawl. You were on the brink of it for so long, and were getting pretty frustrated. But you just started leaning further and further out onto your hands (when you were sitting up), eventually tipping over onto your knees. After a few face-plants you got the hang of this. For a long time you’d be up on one knee with your other foot in front, so you couldn’t get anywhere. Then you got over properly, and spent about one day wobbling back and forth on your knees before you gathered the courage to take little crawling steps. Just amazing. It’s a pretty big shift to go from virtually stationary to being the master of your own movement throughout the world! It took you a while to work out that you can actually crawl to places. You started off by throwing a toy a couple of feet away and crawling off to get it – expanding your little realm through slowly increasing circles of movement. Now however you’ve realised you can go wherever you like which delights you.

To cap of your crawling skills you have mastered clapping, just out of the blue! You are so pleased with yourself. You clap when we say ‘clap’, you clap when we say ‘clever boy’, and you clap when you want to entertain us. Your eyes light up, you beam at us, and you clap clap clap!

Ten months

At ten months, Felix, you are a pretty awesome little chap. You seem to have learnt about a hundred things since arriving in Australia two weeks ago (in addition to growing four new teeth, bringing your total to six!). After understandably bursting into tears upon meeting my family in the airport, you’ve grown quite fond of them. You are very happy to hang out with your grandparents, and you save some very sweet smiles for your great-grandparents.

Towers of blocks appear to offend you and must be destroyed and scattered instantly. You spend a lot of time putting things into other things. You’ve started throwing your blocks around with gusto.You adore your mega-blocks truck. You play with it for hours every day, spinning the wheels, and opening and closing the lid and putting the blocks and the little man in and out of it.

You chatter just about all the time. Your favourite sound is now ‘dawdle awdle’, but you also experiment with many others – you can quack like a duck and cough like your granddad, and you love to imitate whatever sounds we make.

You have very clear ideas about the way you want things done, and you let us know immediately if we get it wrong. You love strawberries. You reach your arms out to people you want to go to. The swing on your grandparents’ deck is a big hit.

You had a few (more than usual) wakeful nights while you were pushing out those four teeth. After about an hour of wakefulness early one morning, Michael was singing lullabies to you and we thought you were about to drift off, when we suddenly heard a sweet, cheeky, high-pitched ‘dawdle awdle!’ Any other time of the day it would have been cute.

You are impressed with my new ergo sling (thanks Mum!) and the stroller is becoming less and less popular as a result. You are not crawling yet but you are becoming increasingly mobile – rolling around your crib and pulling yourself up onto your knees. It’s getting tough to strap you into your car seat as you can just about wriggle out of it. All in all you are relishing all the attention and the new sights and sounds, though your favourite spot to view the world is from my arms.

We’ve taken you to the beach a few times now and you love it. Yesterday we sat you in the water and you thought that was pretty fabulous. The first time we put you down on the sand you were amazed. After several minutes of silence and intense concentration as you dug and scattered and curled your fingers around the stuff, you delivered your verdict: ‘heh!’

Nine months

You are nine months and three days old. That’s closer to a year than it is to six months. How strange. Your little personality shines out so strongly now. When you were just a few weeks old, I took you to a baby group in Norway. You were the littlest one there. I looked at all the big babies and thought that you were so special because you were so small. But now you are a big baby, and I love having a big baby best of all.

You love to play.

You love to laugh. And you love to dance. You have perfected the most gorgeous ‘jiggle wriggle’, which you perform with gusto whenever we say those words. Your father has taught you to give high fives.

You love to babble. You say dadadada and bawawa and tch tch tch. I think yesterday you invented your first little word: ‘da!’, meaning ‘that one!’, or ‘take me there!’. You said it when we passed the duplo table in the Barnes and Noble, and later when you spied my mobile phone, and again when you saw me get out a jar of fruit.

You are very dextrous now and like to feed yourself peas and bread-crumbs. You like to drink from a big water bottle instead of your sippy cup.

You love to snuggle. You invented a game the other day of holding onto the couch then flopping into my arms, giggling madly, over and over and over. When I got tired of it and sat you on the floor with a water bottle to play with, you thought the game was still going, and were very disappointed when you flopped down and landed on the floor.

Every night before you go to sleep, after your evening feed, we read about your friend the owl in The Book of Sleep. You smile and point at little details in the illustrations. Then you cuddle your lion and start to yawn, and once I zip you into your sleeping back and sing ‘hush little baby’, you are well on your way to snoozy land.

Eight months

Last week you turned eight months. You are getting chubbier by the day and you are still as sweet as ever. Sometimes you play with concentration so intense you don’t look up when we speak to you. (Most of the time you’re pretty interested in social interaction though.) I had you weighed last week and you are now 9.6 kilos and 76 cm – so you’ve put on five kilos and grown twenty centimetres since you were born! I had to buy you 18 month pajamas.

You are growing so fast that it’s hard keeping up with you – I think you’re ready for a bit of a shift in your routines, which I’m trialling today – three breastfeeds instead of four and an earlier morning nap. People had told me this is how it is – you think you’ve worked it all out, and suddenly it changes.

This month you grew two teeth and learnt how to babble. It’s so funny hearing your enthusiastic sentences: ‘dadadada, blablablabla, babababa’. You also like to mouth them silently, especially when you are concentrating. You look like a little fish.

You still blow plenty of raspberries. You are getting much more dextrous and can now pick up things which used to cause you difficulties with ease. You can pick up a mini pumpkin in one hand. Yesterday in the bath you were so pleased with yourself. You grasped your little sheep bath toy, and used it to whack all the shampoo bottles sitting on the rim of the bath onto the floor. You then tried to peer over the edge to see where they’d gone!

You still charm the world every time I take you out the door. I have such fun getting you dressed for the day – you have a red outfit, green tops and jeans, and a very sweet pale blue and white combo. I used to avoid blue and white, searching for neutral colours, but a couple of purchases from your father have revealed just how sweet you look in those colours. Baby blue really is a sweet sweet colour and you totally rock it.

A couple of days ago when your father came in to say goodmorning you discovered his ear, and, even more excitingly, that your finger could fit inside it. You spent the next ten minutes quite roughly clutching at his hair to turn his head around so that you could get to it again. You’re pretty keen on our mouths and noses too.

You love the yellow blanket from Jo and you always point to the lion.

You love your new book with photos of kittens.

You certainly know what you want and are good at communicating it to us. On the weekend you were happily munching away on some pieces of vegetarian lasagna, having poo-pooed the puree I had first offered you. When you were finished with that I offered you a rice cracker which you didn’t even deign to look at. But Michael noticed you staring pointedly at the jar of baby food, as if you were saying ‘aren’t I getting any of that, too?’

Yesterday I took you for a swing on my lap in the park. A little four year old boy was swinging next to us, pushed by his grandfather. You were having such a grand time smiling at them and swinging back and forth. When I jumped off the swing you were inconsolable, so we got back on.

This evening you happily rolled around on the floor for ages, finally mastering the art of rolling from your tummy to your back on purpose, glancing up at us the whole time. Watching you explore the world is such a joy, little man.

Love

Last week you turned seven months old. And I just love you so much. (Though sometimes I am ragged with tiredness and just want someone else to take you for an hour.) I feed you to sleep for most of your sleeps. And when you fall asleep, I just gaze at you, your lashes and your soft cheeks. You are so beautiful. Michael took these photos at a lake in Montana. Usually you are too distracted to feed when we are out anywhere, but this time you were hungry, and relaxed, and you fed for a long time, making sure I kept looking at you.

You can sit like a pro now. You are nowhere near crawling, but you have grown adept at sort of launching yourself from sitting towards the direction you would like to go. You are also very good at letting me know what you think about things. Tonight after your bath we read a book together, and you were having a fabulous time chewing and scratching and whacking it. Then I could see you were tired so I said ok, lets go to sleep now, and you smiled at me so sweetly. Then I started putting you in your sleeping bag and you cried with such bitter disappointment and rage, before snuggling in for your evening feed and drifting off to sleep.

At the moment you love to click you tongue, blow raspberries, and shake your head rapidly from side to side. I tried it, and it actually makes the world look quite funny – I wonder if you do it for the thrill of it, as well as to show us how clever you are. You love when I sing ‘open, shut them’ and ‘insy winsy spider’.

This morning we walked along the river, and stopped in the coffee shop before storytime at the library. This is pretty much routine, and a good one. Since you’ve gotten into eating solids you don’t need to feed as much when we’re out, but you seemed to want it. I realised you hadn’t had any since 5.30, and it was nearly 10, so we cuddled together in the corner of the sofa and you fed for a long time. I guess it felt special because normally when we’re out you have about two sips and then wriggle around to see if you’re missing anything. But walking over to the library, both of us satisfied with our morning drink, I just felt so happy.

Six months

Well, my dear sweet boy, it seems tonight you have forgotten how to sleep (or, more precisely, sleep without me by your side), which means composing this post is taking longer than I had anticipated. We do however persist in lugging you all over the country, so it’s perfectly understandable if it takes you a couple of days to get back to normal. I’ve left you snoozing in my bed, which you’ve made abundantly clear is more palatable than your crib this evening. It is your half-birthday, after all.

You were weighed and measured two weeks ago, and you are a very tall and healthy guy. You were 8.4 kilos and 71cm, which puts you at the 99th percentile for height and 78th percentile for weight, and means you’ve grown on average three centimetres a month! At six months, you love water bottles, paper cups, and, most of all, plastic cups with icy drinks inside.

You also love cameras, the TV remote, and our computers. You would quite like to eat them all. You will also happily gnaw away on a stick of sweet potato or a pizza crust. You are not so keen on any form of goo.

You really are a charming little fellow, and whenever we are out and about (which is often, as you insist upon it), you are constantly scanning the environment for new people to entrance. When we were out at a pizza restaurant in Boise, the waitress was trying to tell us the specials, but you kept interrupting with your own monologue: ‘aha! aha! aha!’ You looked very pleased with yourself and had the rest of us in stitches.

Your hair is getting fairer and thicker. Your eyes are going greyish in the middle – I don’t know if they’ll end up grey-green like mine or grey-blue like you father’s. You are learning to sit up and can manage it for a couple of seconds at a time. You’ve discovered you can rest your feet on the tray on your stroller.

You are very clear about what you want, and if we suggest you might like to chew on one of your toys instead of the TV remote, for example, you are not easily convinced. You have also just worked out that if you throw something on the floor we will pick it up for you. You think this highly entertaining.

You love your baths. You especially want to eat the flannel. You look for it as soon as we get in. I do not encourage this. You love getting dried off after your baths by your father. He’s invented a game where he drops a little towel on top of your face, saying ‘where’s my baby?’ and you pull it off and you laugh at each other.

You are still a snuggly little guy. When you are tired you cling to my shoulders and bury your face in my neck.

Today we walked with you along the river, hung out with you in the coffee shop, and played with trains for the first time in the Barnes and Noble. We didn’t buy you a train yet but we bought you some farm animals to play with in the bath. We celebrated with cupcakes after you went to bed (six months is quite an achievement for us, too).

You are the sweetest and funniest person we know. You’ve changed everything. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dear Felix (a guest post)

Dear Felix,

It’s just over 2 weeks ago your Granddad and I boarded a plane in Adelaide to visit you and your parents. We were very excited.

It’s been so special to spend time with you while you are still a baby, though not so small as when I first met you.  We’ve played and cuddled, talked and watched you eagerly explore your world. You are particularly fascinated by patterns, edges and textures, and delight in reaching out to scritch-scratch a new surface, especially if it makes a sound.  The puzzle in your eyes is obvious as you attempt to put together what you can see with what your fingers feel, moving them back and forth curiously over whatever has caught your eye, such as a smooth table top with a woodgrain pattern that looks as if it should feel rough. You also love to watch your fingers and hands and move them slowly and seemingly deliberately, 1 finger at a time and then altogether, as if you are trying to memorize how to move each one.

Your shining eyes, cheeky grin and infectious chuckle charm not only us, but many passers-by at whom you beam when you catch their eye. “What a cute baby!” they say, and you smile again. You are constantly talking to us all: squeals of delight, and strongly expressed protest or frustration intermingle with the intonation of your own special language, sung to yourself, or in a commentary to whoever is near. Within a day or two of us arriving you were making a very passable copy of your granddad’s chronic cough, and seeming very pleased with yourself when you tried it out!

And so we have watched and joined in the endless fascination with the everyday details of your eager learning and connection with those who love you, especially of course your Mum and Dad, (who are doing such a wonderful job of caring for you).  It has been such a delight to re-enter that time, first experienced as new parents ourselves, and to also see your Mum, our first baby, experiencing the same delight with you, that she brought to us.

This chance to dip into your new world brings so many thoughts and memories flooding in. We are already so in love with the unique little person that is you, and I marvel at this ever repeating miracle of each baby with their unique new life bringing new promise, joy and love into families across the generations and around the world. It’s mind-blowing.

But for us, the particular miracle that is unfolding in our family right now is you, and we are so glad to be welcoming you into our lives.

With ever so much love, your grandma Robi, and granddad Gren xx

Four and a half months

Yesterday, my little guy, you were nineteen weeks old. That’s a lot of weeks. The photo above was actually taken at seventeen weeks, but it is too sweet not to stick in here somewhere. You are changing and growing so fast, and I wanted to write some of it down.

Last Friday you perfected rolling over onto your tummy. You’ve been doing it for a week or two, but your arm always got stuck beneath you. You’ve worked out how to extract it now, and it is so sweet to see your pleasure in your new skill. You want to do it again and again, until you get tired and stuck. You haven’t quite worked out how to flip back the other way, although you’ve been giving it a good try.

Two weeks ago, when I first took you to storytime at the library, you were entranced by the baby girl sitting on her mother’s lap next to us. She liked you too, and you ended up holding hands. Very very cute.

One of your favourite things is to lie on your back looking up at a tree. You find them endlessly fascinating. Actually, you’re finding everything pretty fascinating right now: our noses, my hair, the gilt frame on the mirror in the hall, table-tops, plates, our food, the TV, your toys. You have been grasping at things for a while but for the past week or so I’ve noticed a new care and deliberation – you slow your little fingers down in order to get a good grip on your little owl. You still love your baths and you especially love it when we plant kisses on your naked belly as we’re getting you ready. It always makes you laugh.

You adore your father. He plays this little marching game with you, where you lie on the floor and he stands in front of you and marches and waves his arms around and you try to copy. It is your favourite thing in the world. Once you start, you do not want to stop. Woebetide the adult who tires of it before you do. If you are lying on the floor and your father walks past, you initiate the game with a grin and a wriggle.

Sixteen weeks

You’ve certainly had a big week, little guy. Yesterday we tried you out in your new hiking backpack at Mesa falls – you’re only just big enough, but you were ok for a short walk, and you liked looking around.

This week you’ve discovered so many new sounds to make – and you speak to us in indecipherable baby sentences, complete with intonation. You’re particularly impressed with a sort of squeak you’ve learnt to make. With much concentrated effort, you’ve also learnt to grab hold of your toes, and even to roll over onto your belly! You are very serious about these accomplishments, and practice them assiduously. You make us laugh and you laugh right back at us. We are flabbergasted at your new skills. I know it’s the same for parents everywhere, and not particularly exciting for anyone else to hear about, but you truly give us so much joy.

You’re not so keen on sleeping for long stretches over night any more, however. Michael says: ‘It will get better. Don’t worry, I had a great sleep last night.’ ‘Oh’, I said, ‘I’m glad to hear it.’

Three months

My dear, you are so adorable right at the moment that your father says you can stay this size forever. ‘He’ll be cute when he’s bigger too’, I say. ‘But look at him!’ He says. And you truly are pretty gorgeous – such a sweet, smily little guy.

You had your first lot of immunisations today and it was a bit horrible to hold you still while the nurse jabbed both your legs. Now you’re having a long long sleep to recover. They weighed and measured you today, and you’re 65 and a half cm long, and six and a half kilos, which means you’re tall and slim – just like me.

Yesterday we lugged you up to Oslo to apply for our American visas. You sat patiently in the car for nearly two and a half hours, even in the traffic jam, and you waited in line with me outside for half an hour very happily too. By the time we got inside though, you’d had enough and you screamed and screamed. (You were starving but couldn’t calm down enough to eat.) Afterwards I found a nice quiet doorstep (heh) and you had a long long feed and then were happy again during the drive home. Next week you have your first trans-atlantic flight, so i’m crossing my fingers that you find an aeroplane a little more relaxing than an embassy waiting room…

But we’re still finding time to sit under the birch trees in the garden, enjoying the sunshine of your very first spring.

Two months

Feel free to ignore this endless stream of Felix photos if you’re not family or otherwise smitten… With one set of grandparents in Germany and the other in Australia, I feel justified showing you all his little face several times a week. And then there’s all the rest of my family in Adelaide, quite a lot of them. So…

Here are few more smiles for you all! On Wednesday the little guy will be exactly two months old. It’s such a sweet age as he’s smiling and interacting so much more, but he is still a very small baby. It’s so strange to think that two months ago we hadn’t met him yet.

This is his latest trick – sticking his legs up in the air.

And here he is late in the afternoon, worn out from a long day’s playing, sitting in his little chair watching me cook dinner.

Four weeks

I cannot really believe four weeks have gone past so quickly. I will not say it feels like he has been with us forever, because it doesn’t. He still feels new. But we love him dearly and shaping our lives around him is no problem at all. I think Michael and I have both been impressed by the ways in which we have stepped up to the challenges.

And because this is a reflective post it gives me an opportunity to put up two lovely photographs that I missed at the time. This, of the little man folding his hands aged one day old:

And this, a few hours after we first arrived home, when Felix was three days old:

Little Felix has grown so much since then. We had him weighed last Thursday, and he was already 4.7 kilos, and 57cm! No wonder he didn’t fit into his little 56cm suits anymore. He now makes little cooing noises: hnnnnn, and ooooo and ahhh. He loves to wriggle around on his mat. He loves a cuddle, he loves his koala, he loves his milk, and he love his bath. He is still a very tiny man.

Most challenging has been:

  • About three occasions when I really found I had not had enough sleep (including this afternoon!). The only solution for this is sleep. An hour and a half nap seems to solve it.
  • Mastitis. Urgh. I caved and started taking antibiotics a week ago which I’m pretty sure was necessary. I hope I keep it under control from here on in.
  • One day last week when Felix decided that the newly fast flow of my milk was terrifying and he didn’t want to feed anymore, but was hungry. He went all sleepy and floppy. I worked out that he was happy to feed lying down so got through that ok too. He’s got the hang of it again now.
  • The air is really dry here because of all the heating, and it’s meant his poor little nose has gets blocked up easily. The first time we noticed it we gave him a bath in desperation at 4am (the steam helps). Mum went to the pharmacy for us the next day and got these little vials of salt water to drip into his nose which solve the problem. He doesn’t mind it too much.
  • Not being able to have a cup tea whenever I like. No way am I prepared to have a hot drink while holding him…

He’s not quite as sleepy as he was for the first two weeks, and every day is different, but he still sleeps pretty well at night. He wakes at least once every night but has got good at going back to sleep quickly. We are constantly learning new tricks to calm him down when needed – he loves being on the change table for some reason, and getting the hang of handling him more competently. He loves flopping over our shoulders. It has been just amazing having Mum with us for all this time (she goes back this Wednesday), but I will write more about that later.

It is hard to make a list about what is most lovely about him because he is pure loveliness.

  • His little gooos and aaahs and hnnns.
  • His utter earnestness.
  • His delight.
  • Actually, the immediacy and intensity of all his emotions. If feeding isn’t going the way he wants he will yell in frustration and a split-second later rearrange his features into eager anticipation. Or if he is very tired he will cry loudly in your arms and then very suddenly be asleep.
  • His warm soft head.
  • His beautiful eyes on my face.
  • The way he kicks his legs in the bath.
  • His warm body sleeping in my lap.

Eleven days old

I love…

The little high whinnying sound you make when you’re distressed. Actually, I haven’t heard you make it for a few days, so I guess already it is a thing of the past. It was pretty cute though.

Your cry, when it decreases from your utter pitch of anger to slightly calmer but still energetic. It sounds exactly like: ‘waa, waa, waa!’ I thought in the hospital in the first couple of days: even your cry is gorgeous. Is it just because I’m your mother, or do you have a particularly lovely voice? Fortunately for us we don’t get to hear you cry all that much. But I do love your voice.

The little sighs you have started to make over the past day or so. Tonight there was even a bit of a gurgle.

I love when you look straight at me.

How when you wake up, you don’t cry, but just snuffle and root around for a feed. You’ll do it for ages and ages if I am too tired to pick you up quickly.

How excited you are when you are hungry and trying to latch on. You fling your head around pant and pant patiently but after a while if it doesn’t work you screw up your face and let out a ‘waa!’ Which of course is a perfect opportunity to plop in the nipple.

How limp and satisfied you are after a feed. Your shoulders droop, your arms and legs hang down, your hands are completely relaxed. (The rest of the time they wave and fuss around.)

How when I stroke your belly downwards you stretch yourself out like a little soldier.

Cuddling in bed in the morning with you and Michael after your feed.

The way you always startle yourself at the end of a yawn.

Overnight you pretty much seem to sleep in three and a half hour blocks, with an hour waking in between. So this really isn’t too bad.

How after their first terrified reaction the kittens have accepted you. Mermos stands beside your basinet and purrs. Whitby brings you his toy mouse and wants you to throw it for him.

How healthy you are. We got you weighed today and you are already over your birth-weight and doing great.

The way you’ve rearranged and centred our lives.

How much Michael loves you.

Michael says I look both older and younger. He says I have a new energy about me, a new purpose. He does too.

Beginnings

Three in the morning. I look down in a sleepy haze at the little creature feeding at my side, feeding from my side, and I think incoherently – ‘but there’s only one of you! There isn’t two? I thought there were two.’ And then I realize that there are always two – him and me.

Or him and Michael. Michael took so many wonderful photos of Felix and me in the hospital, but I took hardly any of him. And he is so beautiful with him. I will try to take more.

The days are passing in a beautiful haze. Finally I understand why everyone warns you that with a newborn time slides and it is hard to do anything apart from the essentials. I get to the end of the day and realize I have not had the time to even look out the window. After all those weeks of waiting and gazing out windows. Mum is here with us and Michael has two weeks off work and we are doing so well, taking care of each other.

I feel so blessed that everything is going so well. There is so much to say but the words are hard to catch. Yesterday afternoon I lay in bed while Felix napped, too exhausted to sleep, writing in my head but too tired to fetch my computer or even a pen. Something about how I also understand now how everyone says – about poo and vomit and that sort of thing – that it’s different when it’s your own child. I always thought it would just be because you liked them better than anyone else’s child. But it’s not that. It’s that, at the moment, Felix feels like a sort of physical extension of myself. He is his own person. But when he vomited in my face on our first night home, I truly didn’t mind, because it’s like his physical functions are an extension of my own. The fluid he spat back at me had come from my own breasts. And then I wanted to write about how at the moment it feels that the borders of identity are permeable. Everything is leaking.

But now if I want to finish this post  (for which I have forsaken my chance to have a shower), I’d better just stick to a few more photos.

Yes he is here!

Felix Jonathan Hildebrandt

Born 11pm, 13 February 2011.

3.9 kilos, 54 cm.

Felix for happiness, Jonathan for my brother, Hildebrandt for my beloved.

The birth went well. Will tell more later, because, um, sleep has become a bit more of a priority than it used to be. And yes, we have about a thousand photographs already, so there might be a few more of them too.

We arrived home from hospital today. We are happy indeed. About this happy:

Or maybe this happy:

Or possibly, even, this happy: