Summer days

It’s our last couple of days in Adelaide before we fly home to the cold again. Christmas was magical. The first couple of weeks here were a bit of a slog as I was on my own this year with the kids, my parents were working and we were battling jetlag, coughs, and then a fever for Antonia. But since Christmas it has been lovely – my parents have been on holidays and I’m in the swing of it now! The past week Felix has been having swimming lessons everyday as part of the vacswim programme. We’ve been going to a really sweet little outdoor pool. It’s so relaxing to have a splash then hang out on the grass eating paddle pops. Felix has learnt a lot and can now navigate deep water by himself (only just, but he is so confident and determined!). Antonia has watched the level one courses with fascination, and practises blowing bubbles and kicking her legs.

It’s been crazy hot the past couple of days but it’s toned down to pleasant today. Yesterday evening we spent half an hour (or more) pumping up a new paddling pool shaped like a shark. We had to use a bike pump and it took forever but the kids (especially Felix) insisted on helping and the process of putting it together was almost as engaging as the finished product.

Mum and Dad have taken the kids grocery shopping and I’m suppose to be doing the final edits to an article but gosh it is hard to concentrate on that right now. I will get it done somehow, it’s very close. We’re planning on going to Glenelg later, so Felix can have another go on these monstrous blow up waterslides, and Antonia can have a play in the playground.

We’ve caught up with friends, hung out with family, picked cherries, gone to the museum, the beach, the pool. I’m bracing myself for the transition back home – the cold, the jetlag, needing to leave the kids at barnehage (normally they don’t mind, but Antonia has made it very clear she prefers the current lifestyle), work, having to cook dinner… Best not to think about it too much.

We spent the morning on the deck today, puddling about on the swings, and pumping air into the paddling pool. Felix found a stretchy strap that had fallen off Mum’s bathers and announced he would use it to make a sling shot. After the early efforts were unsuccessful Dad cut him out a wooden one with holes, and Mum threaded the elastic through. He shot frozen peas and apricot stones off the deck. The peas didn’t work so well but Antonia ate up the ones he didn’t need.

Antonia wants to be a dinosaur. After some quiet reflection in the car the other day, she announced wistfully: ‘I don’t even talk like a dinosaur.’ I told her she could practice.

 

Settling in

So the new house has lots of outside spaces to play in. One morning shortly after we moved in I walked into the hallway to find Felix solicitously putting Antonia’s shoes on so they could play together outside. We’ve been here two weeks now and the weather has been gorgeous and we’ve been outside a lot. And we’ve instituted a new rule of not leaving our computers lying around and not having them turned on when the kids are around. (Screen time was getting a bit out of control.) After just a couple of days they’ve completely stopped asking to watch anything, and as well as hanging out outside a lot we’re reading more books and making more puzzles, and it is good.

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

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

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

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

But here are some more glimpses of our trip.

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Summer holidays (29/52)

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

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

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

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Felix: 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: 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.

Happy new year!

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I want to wish a rich and lovely new year to all who still stop by to read here.

We had a BBQ in the park on New Year’s Day. It was a pretty perfect day for Felix, involving a babyccino with his grandparents in the morning, sausages and ice cream and his ‘twin’ second cousin to play with in the adventure playground at lunch time, and another BBQ in the evening with even more ‘little guys’ (the kids of my old uni friends), a paddling pool, backyard swings and plastic trains. In this photo my two are laughing and loving and trying to eat each other up.

On New Years Day last year we walked along the causeway to Granite Island and I ate a huge piece of chocolate cake. Antonia was just a tiny flicker within me. I was exhausted, queazy, nervous and relieved, and looking forward to the year ahead. And what a year it has been. Time for another.

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A walk

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Last weekend we had the most gorgeous picnic and walk around a little lake. It was so sweet watching Michael and Felix race ahead of me, ‘discovering’ engines trapped in the ‘mines’ under the big rocks, and ringing the rescue service to come and save them.

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I’m 37 weeks in this photo, but you can’t see much cos of what I’m wearing.

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It was a truly perfect outing, topped off by plenty of blueberries.

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Sun enough to last

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A week and a half ago, just after my parents and grandparents left to make their way back home, I felt the first hint of autumn in the air. The whole of July was just the most blissful, glorious summer, and it won’t be forgotten. I’ve been very busy since they left preparing for teaching which starts on Monday. There are a couple of nerves of course and a crazy amount of stuff to do, which won’t let up till late December, but I am so excited about it all. More later. But I wanted to share some of my favourite photos. There will be more to come, if I manage to squeeze some time out of my evenings to post them.

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We had the best time with my parents and grandparents. One of the sweetest things to see was Felix’s reaction when he saw my Mum. ‘Damma!’ (Grandma!) he exclaimed, and raced into the lift which she hadn’t even had the time to step out of, and gave her the most enormous hug. Felix only ever hugs his favourite people. I was so pleased that weekly skype chats are enough to ensure my Mum is one of them.

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The place pictured above had the most amazing play area.

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Poppa was also a huge favourite – especially his carefully chosen bag of tricks that was raided every time we went out to dinner. Here they are watching a digger.

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Summer rain

It’s raining and still a little light at 10pm. I’m sitting in my office room, which has been recently cleared of more than a hundred exam papers, and is calm, white, inviting. Today was my last day at work at the barnehage for a while. Summer holidays start tomorrow, and then I have six months leave in order to take up a full-time temporary post at the University College in my town. I’m excited and a little nervous. Before my summer holidays start for real, I need to finish off a very important job application, due Monday, but here I am, writing on my blog instead.

I felt a little strange at work today, because I didn’t know whether I was saying goodbye or not. The afternoon was warm with a threat of rain so the kids wore their rain trousers and boots and peddled madly on the tricycles and bounced on the bouncy balls and splashed in the puddles and dug in the sand. There are two job applications in the works, and if either of them comes through (far from a certainty) I won’t be coming back to work in the barnehage. I’ve been away a lot this semester, due largely (though not entirely) to my teaching commitments, so I felt less in tune with the place than I would have liked. In any case, I have good friends there, and Felix will continue to go there, so I’ll maintain a connection with the staff and the children. Several of the children in my class have just turned four, and I’ve been working with them for three years. To see them grow up from babies to chatty, clever little people who can write their own names in the role book is quite extraordinary.

Michael has been away this week but it is much less exhausting being alone with Felix now he is a little older. Can’t wait to spend more time with my little man throughout July. He’s so incredibly entertaining at the moment, and loves acting out scenes from his favourite Thomas the Tank Engine stories with his trains and buses, complete with snippets of dialogue and renditions of the theme song.

Back to the beach

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We had such a lovely day today. We met Mala (and parents) at a beautiful beach in the morning. Felix spent a long time building a wall. Mala helped, and fetched water, and danced about, and sat on the wall and dived over it, but Felix’s concentration could not be broken!

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Then we all went out for lunch and reminisced about eating pizza in Berlin all that time ago. We stayed out way past Felix’s nap time and it didn’t matter at all. He and Mala held hands and practiced their jumping, and Mala let Felix drink her babycino as well as his own and it was just the loveliest day.

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Mat- og Trebåtfestivalen

Today we took Felix out to the food and wooden boat festival down at the harbour.

The weather was perfect for fluttering flags.

There were plenty of other food options, but Michael had to take a photo of the ubiquitous caravan selling hotdogs.

We went for fish soup. Felix insisted on feeding himself whilst sitting on my lap. The results were … interesting. Here he is tucking into passionfruit panna cotta for dessert.

It was fun to get out and see other families enjoying the first day of the summer holidays.

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I am trying to put up lots of beach photos, so I have something to remind me of all this sun when we are settling in to a currently unfathomable Norwegian winter in, gulp, a week’s time.

Last weekend we went down to Port Elliot with my parents on Sunday, and spent a lovely couple of hours splashing around, before devouring the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted.

Happy New Year!

I have been looking back at the snow-filled posts of last December, and this year is so different for us! (Apparently the winter in Norway is much milder this year anyway, so we haven’t actually missed out on much snow after all.)

2011 has been busy and brilliant as predicted. We have traveled to some amazing places, met some excellent people and weathered some sleepless nights,

but the most wondrous thing has been seeing our little guy grow up before our very eyes.

We are enjoying our two months in the sun before we go back to Norway to resume everyday life. I imagine that will be an adventure in itself with an almost one year old on board. To all my regular readers – thanks so much for stopping by and sharing the journey – I really appreciate having you around. We wish you all the very best for 2012!

Go West

In the weeks before we left Norway to come to America, Michael listened to ‘Go West‘ as he walked to work every day. Going west was an adventure, with wonderful parts and difficult parts. It is strange, in the days before we leave here, to be in a place which so soon will only exist for us as memories. I think Michael’s favourite part of being here was all the photo opportunities. The images take on lives of their own, often more resonant with suggestiveness than the moments themselves had been. The dogs panting at the Interstate Oasis, the fierce red rock of Moab, the cross-hatched textures of earth in the Kennecot Copper Mine, and the mountain-tops, lakes and deep forests of the Glacier National Park. Below the fold are images that didn’t make it into earlier posts – a montage of doorways, cars, characters, creatures, and, always, the open road.

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Sunshine

Just so much warm beautiful shiny sun. Because of the altitude, the sun is quite fierce here – even when the temperature drops a little, in the sun it’s hot. I’m just loving these slightly milder fall days. This feels like the first real summer I’ve had since leaving Australia eight years ago. Apparently the fall can be fickle here – winter can hit with a bang at the beginning of October. But last year it was long and mild, and it looks like this year will be the same.

This morning I went for a walk along the river with the mother’s group. There was about eight of us, all with strollers (several with double strollers!). We stopped at the park half way along for the kids to play. One of the little one and a half year old girls has taken a shine to Felix – she keeps coming up to him and saying his name. He loves it. He is such a social creature. And talking to the other mothers is just so great. It’s such a brilliant group.

Felix prompts conversations wherever we go. He flirts with everyone. This morning an old lady stopped to say hello in town, and then she spotted us again in the bookshop this afternoon. Felix stared and stared at the man setting up his computer at the table next to us, until he relented and started showing us pictures of his family. Felix’s favourite regular acquaintance is one of the barristas in Barnes and Noble. (She loves him too.) He looks forward to seeing her so much that as soon as we stand in line to order drinks he grins and jiggles his legs in anticipation.

I’ve had a madly busy week trying to put the final edits into an article, in between caring for the little guy. The days have been pretty exhausting. But it’s done now. And the sun just shines and shines.