November evening

The big kids are sick this weekend, so I snuck out for a walk around 3.30, when the light was already fading.

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Five months

five months

Julius is very nearly five months old and I am just soaking in having a little baby still, who needs to be carried everywhere and can’t sit up by himself, because it’s not going to last for long. He’s only rolled over completely once in each direction, but he’s very proficient at rolling to his side and twisting around. He is still such a cuddly, friendly, agreeable little thing. Everyone keeps saying how big he’s getting and I suppose they’re right, but he’s still my little baby. He spends time every day strapped to my chest, and often has a nap there, and just adores it.

Felix is thriving at school and Antonia is happy in barnehage, though I can always tell when she’s getting a little tired because the noise levels increase considerably! It’s Saturday today and I had two pregnant friends over for lunch, and we went to a Halloween party with some of the kids’ barnehage friends this evening, and it was a nice day but we were all absolutely shattered by the end of it. I made quiche for the first time in my life (cheated and bought pre-made pastry) and it was delicious. The kids did a lot of watercolour painting on paper bags.

Michael has been away a fair bit. When I have to put all three of them to bed, Julius listens to Antonia’s stories, and I kiss Antonia and leave the room and she falls asleep within a minute, then he listens to Felix’s book chapter, then I feed him to sleep next to Felix in my big bed. It doesn’t work to put him to sleep before the big kids. He’s a pretty patient listener already!

I’ve been taking too many pictures on my phone and just posting them to facebook, I’ll try to get a few more over here soon.

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Sunsets

I’m looking out at the red sunset over the fjord. I meant to go to bed early but suddenly it’s 11 already. Baby J will wake soon, I guess, you never know, and demand some milk. With his arrival it feels like so much is shifting. Sometimes I feel I’m floundering around with little to hold on to, but right now, looking out upon the water, it feels like our house is a big ship, travelling in the right direction, and I’m sailing.

My Mum is here and she is so amazing. It’s meant these past two and a half weeks have been so much smoother than they would have been without her. For the first ten days I did not feel up to much, and did not leave the house or get out of my pyjamas. And then suddenly I felt better, so I have been trialling things. Laundry. Cooking dinner. Picking the kids up from barnehage. I’ve only done that last one once, on Friday last week, and Mum was with me.

We’d just been grocery shopping with Julius. He seemed quite happy so I thought it would be ok, and was looking forward to introducing him to Antonia’s carers. But as soon as we arrived, he started fussing, so I had to take him out of the pram. I carried him into Antonia’s class, and all the little kids rushed to have a look at him, and her carer cooed – oh, she looks like Antonia! But he was crying and wanted milk, so we went out to the hallway, where I perched next to Antonia’s spot, breastfeeding. Meanwhile my Mum had rounded up Felix, who had been around the back outside. He was edgy and tired and wanted to leave immediately. Mum started gathering up some of Antonia’s stuff that I wanted to take home. Then Antonia needed the toilet, so I handed Julius, who started fussing again immediately, to Mum, and went with Antonia back inside. When we came out to the hallway again Felix was complaining loudly about us taking so long. He’d knocked over the neat pile of Antonia’s stuff that Mum had made on the ground. I found a bag to put it all in, and in my enthusiasm accidentally stuffed in another kid’s shoes. (They were the same design as Antonia’s previous pair, and her current pair had been left at home as she’d peed on them yesterday by mistake.) Finally we were ready to leave, and Felix started wailing about how he never got to sit next to Julius in the car, and it wasn’t fair, and I had to threaten to take away the ipad for the evening in order to get him in the car. He then started begging for sweeties, and instead I promised them both an iceblock for when we got home (it was hot). So, yeah. If Mum hadn’t been there to hold the squalling baby it would have been even less pretty.

Today we went the birthday party of a friend of Felix, the son of one of my closest friends. It was at a play-centre a forty minute drive away, and I was quite pleased with myself that I had managed to arrive (I thought) exactly on time. Michael reminded us to take the presents with us (I’d forgotten them when we went to a different kids’ party the week before, and had had to turn around to pick them up). But I had remembered the times wrong and we were AN HOUR LATE! It all turned out ok and Felix was in time for cake and my friends were understanding, but I felt so silly. For a moment I felt like bursting into tears but thankfully I didn’t.

So. Stormy waters now and then. But sailing.

Baby Julius is born

I expected him to come late. Oh, third baby, third babies are tricky, you never know, everyone said. But Mum didn’t book her ticket to arrive until I was 40+2. I went on maternity leave at 37 weeks, and I wasn’t ready for him at that point anyway – there was so much to do! I tidied up the spare room so Mum would have somewhere to sleep, I cleaned up my own room and put the bassinet together. I spent most of my second week painting Felix and Antonia’s room a pearly sky-blue as the walls in there were charcoal grey which was too gloomy. I knitted his baby blanket. I walked most nights past fields and trees and listened to the birds.

Nevertheless, as the due date sails past, you can’t help but get edgy. I had hoped for a quiet week with Mum before he arrived, and I got it, more or less, though two public holidays at the end of the week impacted the level of ‘quiet’. On Friday, when I was 41+1, we all went down to the seaside town of Stromstad in the morning, and had coffee and cake, and walked around the harbour, looking at the boats in the sunshine. It was one of those magic little strolls where both kids were engaged, and they chatted about which boats they wished they had. Antonia said she was going to build a girl boat, only for girls, and she would be the captain. Felix wanted to sit on the sunny bench looking out over the harbour, and we cuddled.

I was tired and uncomfortable. We waited and waited. Finally, on Monday May 29th, at 41+4, it was time for my overdue check-up at the hospital. The CTG was fine. The ultrasound was fine. The doctor examined me, giving me a ‘stretch and sweep’ in the process. It was profoundly uncomfortable. I think with Antonia I’d had the ‘stretch’ but not the ‘sweep’. She told me I was only 2cm dilated. She said it might happen on its own, but it might not happen in time, and booked me in to begin an induction on Wednesday. They would start with a balloon, she said, and probably send me home, and I’d have to come back in for the gel on Thursday morning. I was a little disappointed. At my check with Antonia I’d been four centimetres, and the doctor had been confident that it would start soon, which it did. I had hoped to avoid induction. Partly because the thought of it was a little scary – deliberately beginning all that pain, but mostly because I wanted to experience again that magical moment, the gift, the surprise, the wondering – oh, is it now?

After my overdue check with Antonia, I knew she would come soon. This time I wasn’t sure. After our hospital visit, we called in for lunch with my dear friend Margrethe and her baby boy Alfred. She had baked ‘come out baby’ brownies, as we traditionally eat cake together the day before our babies are born. They were delicious. I had two.

At home I lay down for a bit before the kids came home, and then Antonia came to find me and bounced all over me. In the evening I felt tired and a bit crampy, but this was not entirely new, and I didn’t feel any clear signs. I read Antonia her books and watched her fall asleep. I felt too listless to knit. I rallied myself to go walking again with Mum, past the fields, through the forest, but we didn’t do the whole route. Like every night, the grass was visibly longer, and new flowers had uncurled.

As I went to bed myself, earlier than usual, I wondered if things would start happening, but I was just not sure. Everything seemed to settle, and I went to sleep. I woke a couple of times, as you do when you are pregnant, and there was nothing, so I resolved myself to waking in my own bed in the morning, once again. And then, at quarter to two, the strangest thing happened. I must have been only half asleep, because I felt it so clearly, A very sharp kick, and then a very clear leak. I started awake, shocked. In my last two labours, my waters hadn’t broken till the baby was nearly crowning. This was different. For a moment I contemplated what to do – I was alone, as Michael was sleeping upstairs. Then I lunged for the bathroom, dripping as I went, grabbed two towels and sat down on the floor against the bed. Oh, I thought. Oh.

It felt like a very singular situation. I sent a message to my facebook group of women having babies in May. Some said ring the hospital. Some said wait. I still felt quite sleepy, so I clambered back into bed, clutching my towels. There was a gentle contraction. And another. I decided to time them before I rang the hospital. They weren’t that frequent – six to ten minutes apart, but I remembered how quickly things had happened last time, and the hospital is about forty minutes away, so I rang. By now it was about 2.30. They agreed I should come in, so I went upstairs to wake Michael. He went to make a cup of tea. We’ll have to leave quite soon, I said. After a brief flurry of packing the car, a third of a cup of tea each, and five long minutes to locate Michael’s glasses, we were off.

It was night time, but it wasn’t quite dark. The contractions were not bad yet, and they were well spaced. When they came I tapped at my thighs, as I had when Antonia was born, and they were fine. ‘We’ve got this’, I said to Michael, trying to convince myself more than anything. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘you’ll be fine. You’ll be great.’ I looked out at the shining string of streetlights on the freeway through the haze of the rain.

The hospital carpark was nearly deserted. As Michael went to get the parking ticket, I stood and watched the tiny raindrops glinting and floating in the beams of the car’s headlights. I walked back and forth for a bit. The air smelled so good. We could hear birds singing all around. I would have quite happily stayed there for an hour or so, I think, listening to the birds and walking in the quiet rain, but I took a deep breath, and we went inside.

Because we had left early, this was so different to Antonia’s birth, when I could barely walk and certainly couldn’t speak by the time we got there. We wandered in and chatted to the midwives as they got the room set up for us. It had an antiseptic smell after the lovely rain outside, but I resigned myself to it and felt grateful to be in a place where I was safe. I felt slightly silly to have come so early but the midwives assured me that it was okay to spend a few hours in hospital before the baby was born. They hooked up the CTG and I lay on the bed for half an hour while they checked the baby was ok. When the contractions came I tapped the sheets to distract myself. They were still quite mild. After that they checked my dilation. 4 cm! This cheered me considerably. They recommended I have an enema though, so I lay on my side for another ten minutes while we waited for it to work. I scratched at the edge of the sheets to get through the contractions, breathing through them, focussing on the little stripes on the light on the ceiling. One of my midwives massaged my lower back and it felt blissful.

After that the contractions sped up. But it wasn’t like the other births. Felix’s birth had been a marathon, and Antonia’s had been filled with energy and fierceness. This felt – quiet in comparison, almost gentle, the contractions imperceptibly becoming more formidable – sliding along rather than accosting me. I sat on the fit-ball for a little while and felt myself beginning to vocalise very gently, while I puffed out air through my cheeks. And then I made a dive for the bed, and lay on my side. I was tired. I didn’t want to stand. I was cold too, and the midwives wrapped warm towels around my shoulders. I looked up for the light again but sadly had taken off my glasses at some point so couldn’t focus on it any more. I felt myself getting a bit louder. And then I felt sick. Michael had to help me explain to the midwives that I needed a sick bag – there was some language confusion. Being sick in the middle of a contraction is not the most pleasant thing. After that there were a couple of strong contractions that I Aaaahed and yelled my way through. I was able to remind myself that it wouldn’t be long… And then suddenly they were telling me to push.

I was shocked. I didn’t feel quite ready. Push, they kept saying, you need to push NOW. Later they told me his heart-rate had dropped to 60, hence the rush, but they didn’t tell me at the time. With Antonia they had told me to wait a bit, and she had practically pushed herself out, so I was surprised. ‘I can’t do it!’ I said over and over again. ‘Yes you can! You need to! When you have a contraction, PUSH!’ Michael coached me too. ‘Come ON!’ he said. They flipped me back on to my back. Okay, I thought, if you insist. I could feel a very sharp ring of pain that did not want me to push toward it but I realised there was no way around it. I pushed as hard and as many times as I could through a couple of contractions. Pushing a baby out is strange as it feels so ineffectual. I was concentrating intently but they interrupted me – ‘breathe!’ they reminded. Hah, I thought, I don’t really have time for that, but obliged and took a little breath. Michael said later I was getting a little blue in the face. And then his head came out, and then the rest of him, and he was here.

5.58 am. We’d been at the hospital for a couple of hours, and the entire labour had lasted for four. Julius flopped on my belly and I stroked him while the midwives wiped him and me down as he pooed all over my belly. He made some noises but wasn’t really crying. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his little face. He looked like Felix, he looked like Antonia. After a while they let Michael cut the cord. I cuddled my baby while the midwives stitched up a little tear – it turned out it wasn’t a bad one, but I wondered, as they seemed to take forever. I sang a silly nursery rhyme – one of Antonia’s favourites, about sleeping, hopping bunnies – to distract myself from the stinging. Then they helped Julius latch on, and he had a good drink, and it felt amazing. They moved us to another room, and I held and held him. His movements were so familiar to me from the months he had spent inside me – the shifting of his back, his long feet, his sharp little heels. He was here. He was here. He was here.

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Felix’s birth story is here, and Antonia’s is here.

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