Play

One of Antonia’s favourite things is a rectangular duplo plate and a stack of square little duplo blocks. She systematically fills the plate with blocks, takes them off, and does it again. She tries various strategies. ‘Look! All around the edge!’, she tells me, when she has covered the edge of the rectangle like a frame. As she’s sticking them on she sometimes assigns them to people: ‘this one’s for Daddy, this one’s for Felix’. Sometimes I am allowed to help. ‘You can choose the brown one, Mummy, and I’ll do the white.’ Yesterday as she took them all off she lined them up carefully on the sofa. ‘They’re going to sing a song,’ she told me. Later in the hallway, she arranged them into two piles. ‘The boys can sit here, and the girls can sit here.’ There is something enchanting and oddly familiar to me about all this.

In the bath she invents games and instructs me to join in. We have to pretend that we’re sleeping, complete with fake snores, and then we take it in turns to be the ‘wake up master’, and wake each other up. Usually this involves: ‘wake up, it’s morning!’ Sometimes it’s even more elaborate: ‘wake up, it’s Christmas day!’ We then have to pretend to give each other presents and unwrap them. Usually they are teddy bears.

Things I liked today

  1. Hiking in Ystehede.
  2. Drawing robots.
  3. Preparing a lentil shepherd’s pie.
  4. Eating it, with a glass of wine.

We went for a walk today on the other side of our little fjord (which is really an inlet from the main fjord). We had a picnic there last week with Michael’s parents, and Felix and Michael had managed to explore the hiking track a bit, but today was the first time Antonia and I went there. It is just so lovely there. We climbed up the hill through the forest and were able to look over the water to our house, and had a little picnic a bit further on. Antonia acquiesced to sitting in the ergo backpack if I galloped along like a horse now and then to cheer her up. We let her walk some of the way but she kept stopping to sample blueberries and the weather was rather threatening so we didn’t want to take hours. She was bitterly disappointed that I wouldn’t let her scramble over all the rocky beaches on the way back (it was raining lightly, and they were slippery). She managed to negotiate for an icecream once we got home to make up for it.

Once we got home the kids and I practiced drawing robots. It was a good thing to do with Felix as robots are quite doable and rather fun. ‘Too scary robots’ are a thing in our house now. We saw a man dressed up as a robot outside the science museum in London a few weeks ago, and Felix loved him but Antonia did not. She was in tears a day later when we accidentally sat next to a life size toy robot in the Victoria and Albert museum of childhood. Felix of course is delighted and has decided he loves robots. But Antonia is warming to them, and it was her idea to draw them today.

Then I made my pie in response to the slight hint of autumn in the air, and it was good. It was very good.

I made a list because various other parts of the day were scrappy and challenging, but these bits were so nice. I do that a lot, I think – collate the best bits to remember. Life is gradually returning to routine after the summer holidays – classes start in two weeks. I often think of writing here in the evening but end up tidying or sorting laundry instead.

Also Felix today asked me if rocks could be big enough to reach another galaxy. Well, I said, lots of rocks float around. No, he said, from here. No, I said, they can’t. What if you stacked them up? They’d fall over. But what if they were really flat ones? 

 

Adventures

We had pretty much the perfect evening. After dinner on our deck (mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, meatballs for the kids and yesterday’s pasta sauce – supplies are running low) Michael suggested we put the picnic rug down on the lawn and soak up the sun. So we did. And Felix ran and jumped off our big rock – watch me! Look at my new trick! And Antonia tried the same – watch me! My new trick! She couldn’t manage to jump off the rock (thankfully) but climbed up and slid down on her bum. And then we all ran races back and forth and the kids were stralende (glowing, radiant – not sure if this is the correct way to use it but for some reason this word seems perfect). Ah so so nice.

And tomorrow I’m off to Stockholm with my baby girl, for a conference, along with one of my favourite colleagues, and I’m going to meet my Mum there! Michael’s excited about a boy’s week at home (has never happened before). My conference paper has had great difficulty attracting my attention over the past couple of weeks (and still does), but it’s not till Friday, so all will be well. Happy. Happy. Happy. 11 pm and the sky is still pink. But yeah, better finish packing my bag.

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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A very nice birthday

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Even my garden gave me a birthday present – all its flowers opened up over the past week, just in time. Michael got afternoon tea ready. Antonia learned how to sing happy birthday (she likes to sing it to me as long as I sing it to her too), and Felix reminded everyone that we needed to sing it, and insisted that I have the first piece of cake. My gorgeous friends threw a surprise picnic for me last weekend, no less. I’m feeling fortunate, and feeling loved.

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

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

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

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Spring

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

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

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

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

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Felix: so thrilled to be five.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antonia wobbling towards me.

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

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

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Antonia: walking with her brother. She got so many comments that day on her curls, her shoes, her woollen dress.

Felix: sunglasses and ghostbusters, what can I say. He would only acquiesce to being in the photos because I promised that he could take some himself, afterwards.

I took these at an autumn market in the gardens of a local manor house on Saturday. I only remembered about photos when it was almost time to leave. We’ll have to go back one day and take some more. It was so gorgeous. The light, the trees. The harbour glittering in the background. This time of year is just to very beautiful. It’s getting dark earlier each day and even sunny days have a brisk edge to them, but we have been ridiculously lucky recently when it comes to sunshine. I love the misty mornings too, and Felix has been commenting on the pink, pink clouds on the way to barnehage in the mornings. It is so lovely and so fleeting. One can almost – almost – forget about November.

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And these are Felix’s photos.

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This last one is blurry but I love it anyway – the light reminds me of an impressionist painting, and Antonia is so happy waving her oak branch.

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

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Felix: my dear beautiful talking thinking boy. We went to a children’s festival in Fredrikstad with some friends today. It’s a 50 minute drive. My boy hardly drew breath the entire way, telling me about the robot he would invent to protect himself if there was a crocodile in his barnehage. And how very strong the robot would be, and how he could throw houses and even signs up to the moon, and how he would give the bad guys to the police but if they were really really bad guys he would step on them and just squash them. He asked me if I would be frightened of the robot and I said yes. ‘But you wouldn’t need to be, Mummy, he wouldn’t do anything to you. You’re not a bad guy. We’re not bad guys at all.’

Antonia: walking. Walking! Just a few steps at a time but more every day. And her soft soft cheeks and big cuddles. On Monday at work I ache for them.

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

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

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

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

York

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Made it to York. Nostalgia plus. Such pivotal years of my life were spent here. It rained this afternoon, so I bought a fancy sticker book about London for Felix and a bath book about rainy days for Antonia in Waterstones, then took them both to the cinema cafe for hot chocolate and hot chips. Travelling solo with two children is not always the most relaxing of endeavours. But on the way to Sainsburys, Felix in the stroller, Antonia in the carrier, a woman noticed I had my hands full and stopped to admire Antonia’s curls. And Felix, too. ‘They are lovely’, she said. And they are. And now they are sleeping, and I have, thanks to Sainsburys, raspberries, creme brulee, tea, chocolate and wine, and all is right in the world.

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At the library

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These photos taken at the library didn’t quite work out but I love them all the same. I have so enjoyed taking Felix up here to story time once a week, and Antonia has enjoyed watching the other children and playing with these bead things.

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After a month of coming to story time once a week I was starting to get to know some of the parents, and last week a few of them said ‘see you next week’, and I had to say, no, actually, you won’t, we’ll be in another world by then.

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Felix’s summer (three and a half)

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My darling boy,

I am so very much enjoying you at the moment. This week has been so special – we have been to the beach every day, meeting up with friends for a couple of hours most days, and generally enjoying the summer and each other.

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Felix got me a tray of wooden food from his kitchen this morning, and then very earnestly went and fetched two tiny glasses of water for us to share.

One of the things I am most enjoying at the moment is his developing sense of initiative – rather than waiting or demanding that I do things he will more often than not quietly sort them out himself. Pull chair to trampoline, climb up. Pull chair to kitchen sink, pour a glass of water. He likes to demand that we build train tracks for him but these days I rarely comply – it is so much more fun to see what he comes up with himself, and he is more than capable.

Today when he woke at 6.30 I got him some milk and sultanas and propped him in front of a play-list of Thomas and Friends while I napped for another hour on the sofa. (I am incredibly good at this at the moment.) Then he turned off the computer and built himself a train-track (I assisted with the long bridge) and entertained himself beautifully for ages. He turned a wooded block into a ‘platform’, and sat the passengers on it while they waited for the train. I looked over at one point and he was squatting on the ground, balancing goggly eyes on his toes (he just adores goggly eyes), eating pita bread and surveying his trains.

After some trampoline hopping outside I bundled him into the car and we drove to the Swedish coastal town of Stromstad for some cake and a walk. He decided he wanted to dangle his feet in the water and was so disappointed by the fact that wherever he sat they wouldn’t reach, so I directed him to the fountain and he tried it there.

summer2On the way back to the car I bought him a gigantic inflatable fish from the toyshop – his friend Linnea had been floating around on an inflatable crocodile the day before, and I thought it might be a good idea. He was pretty tired by the time we drove back home but didn’t sleep a wink because he was so excited about his fish.

At home we ate lunch and I had another short Thomas the Tank Engine enabled nap on the sofa.

Around 3 we went back to our local beach with some of our best friends, and swam, and floated on the fish, and threw stones, and filled holes with water, and ran up and down the beach completely naked (him not me).summer4

We stopped at our favourite pizza place on the way home for dinner. All in all, the most perfect summer holiday day imaginable.

When I asked him what his favourite thing about the day was when I was putting him to bed, he said – ‘playing with Mummy’.

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Vote for Kate today!!!

Many of you will be familiar with the wonderful Kate Shrewsday, who is a regular commenter here. She’s in the running to become a Penguin Wayfarer – wandering the UK and sharing her experiences – but she needs your votes to get there! She’s already in the top twenty and is just hovering in 10-11th place – she needs to be in the top ten to get through to the next stage. Voting closes today and only takes a minute – click HERE and vote for the only Kate on the page. Thank you thank you thank you!

 

Update: Thanks everyone who voted! Kate steamed into the top ten, finishing in second place, but didn’t end up winning. You can see the winning entry, Sarah Thomas, here. It looks like her ramblings will provide some lovely viewing and reading over the next two months. (And we’ll just have to keep reading Kate Shrewsday’s stories on her own blog.)

A swim

I lie in the water. I close my eyes. I float. The sun sets behind me and all around me, sliding on the water.

This was one of the things that cracked open my grief into wracking sobs – the thought that I wouldn’t swim in the sea while I was pregnant. I had looked forward to it. So now, on the last day, I have come.

I duck my head under. I kick. I drift. I think of the little creature, floating inside me, as I float in all the ocean.

I do this one, small thing.

I think of the day I got baptized, at this very beach. They said it was about death and birth. When you go down, you die; when you rise up, you are born anew. You die to your old self, they said.

I think of it differently now. I don’t see it as a free ticket past death, or as the key to some exclusive community, or some way of erasing self. Birth and death are pretty universal.

But it is a potent symbol. Going down, coming up. Death and birth. Birth and death. The vulnerability of it all. Water clinging to you.

And that is what this world is. That’s just how it is.

I press my face into the waves.

And tomorrow, we will both go down, but this little one won’t come up again. It will die. And that death will be part of me, then.

I float. I am held.

We are held.

I freeze this moment, so that I can always come back here, to the last light shining all over us.

Goodbye, little one, I say.

And I climb out of the water. It’s getting cold.

I think all my problems stem from this

Your result for The Perception Personality Image Test…

NBPC – The Daydreamer

Nature, Background, Big Picture, and Color

You perceive the world with particular attention to nature. You focus on the hidden treasures of life (the background) and how that fits into the larger picture. You are also particularly drawn towards the colors around you. Because of the value you place on nature, you tend to find comfort in more subdued settings and find energy in solitude. You like to ponder ideas and imagine the many possibilities of your life without worrying about the details or specifics. You are in tune with all that is around you and understand your life as part of a larger whole. You are a down-to-earth person who enjoys going with the flow.

The Perception Personality Types:

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Take The Perception Personality Image Test at HelloQuizzy