On this day...
1 year ago: Kullagården
3 years ago: Leaky

We have some work to be done in the garden that requires a professional, with some professional machinery. I’ve been looking for contractors so that I can request bids from them. I searched at tradgardsanlaggarna.se, made a shortlist of about 8 contractors, and then looked at their web sites to confirm that they can do what we need.

Some companies have modern web sites. The done ranges from corporate to personal, the design from boxy to modern, but they all look like they belong in the 21st century.

Other companies’ web sites inspire less confidence. One of the contractors had no web site at all and only a swipnet email address, which is sort of like a Swedish hotmail equivalent. One had a web site consisting of a single page which had been saved from Photoshop and contained their logo and an email address and nothing more.

I work with the web; I cannot help but be prejudiced against companies who in this day and age still have not understood its importance as a marketing channel. If the company’s web site is not professional, how professional are they going to be in other aspects? So there is a strong temptation to let the surface appearance affect my judgement of the company.

But I suspect that the web site is probably not at all a good predictor of a company’s ability to do a good job in the garden. I have no difficulty imagining a bunch of 50-year-old guys, in the business for 30+ years, who simply prioritise doing their job ahead of marketing the firm.

And in a way, maybe my logic should be the opposite. If a firm has a butt-ugly web site but they’re still in business after a decade or two, then obviously they’re doing something right.

We just had our vintage sewing machine serviced and a broken gear wheel replaced. Most of the machine now works better than ever, smoother and quieter. But winding the bobbin didn’t work so well. Eric investigates.

Adrian had a bad fall at preschool yesterday, hitting his head on asphalt in two places. Massive swelling on the side of his head and lots of skin scraped off, and a painful bump above one eyebrow. I washed the big wound and he had totally had enough after that, so I didn’t get to do anything about the dried blood on bump on his brow.

He didn’t allow me to photograph it yesterday but this morning he was feeling better about the whole thing.

I was served garlic bread, fish and chips, and coffee and cake in the playhouse.

Adrian’s head is so full of thoughts. Thoughts are spinning, flying, spinning off new thoughts, all the time. The activity seems to be constant.

What if our house had feet? And what if it was like a robot, and it went off at night and bought something and then in the morning we would find it and ask, where did that come from? What if the bicycle had, like, a little roof so we wouldn’t get wet when it rains? Look, our shadow is cycling with us!

Our bodies are endlessly fascinating, and food and digestion in particular. What colour is the brain? How did we get teeth? How does food go to all parts of my body? Is the poop coming out now the food that I ate for lunch an hour ago? Poop is still fascinating as well as funny.

How does a four-year-old boy explore spelling? One day he told me that there are three letters in “kiss” and four in “bajs”.

All this thinking and talking makes him very distractible. Getting dressed in the morning and getting into bed at night takes ages, because the moment I turn my back, he starts thinking about something else. Same with calming down and falling asleep.

Even reading a nighttime story and singing for him is an exercise in frustration. He climbs around in the bed, starts talking about other things, and then asks me “did you sing Trollmor already? I didn’t hear it, can you sing it again?” Gaah!

Meals take an eternity and a half. Everybody else is finished (and I am a slow eater, if anything) and he’s still only halfway through his meal. And if we leave the table without waiting for him he is angry and in tears, and if we stay there then Ingrid squirms restlessly, out of her mind with boredom.

He’s getting sort of lazy with reading now, or perhaps overconfident. Often he reads the first two or three letters of a word and then makes a wild guess.

Favourite toy: Lego. Building is fun, and so is playing with the finished things. The least fun part is looking for the pieces he needs. We’ve upgraded our Lego storage so we now have a wide, shallow bin, and we often pour it all out on the floor for easier access – and still he hates looking through the pile. When he’s building something random he just adapts his construction to the pieces he finds, but sometimes he wants to build something based on instructions, and then he needs that tiny white piece of which there are exactly four in our giant pile of Lego… He really appreciates it when I help him build, which mostly means helping him find the pieces he needs.

Favourite stuff: pirates, and dinosaurs.
Favourite books: Bamse.

Not favourite activity: washing hands, especially if soap is involved. But because he plays outside in the sandbox at preschool I make him wash his hands when we get home, and because he often eats with his hands, and quite messily, I make him wash them again after most meals.

He has also started helping me cook, and that means more hand-washing… He likes stirring and pouring, but also chopping: carrots, potatoes, bananas.

Unrelated to the hand-washing (I believe) he has really dry skin on the backs of his hands, rough and almost cracking. We apply creams and ointments, it gets better for a while, and then worse again.

Baths, which he used to hate, are a mixed experience now. I only force him to bathe once a week. He objects, and he postpones, and he yells at me when I say there will be no more postponing – but once he’s in the bath he’s quite happy.

Odd habit: Wearing shoes without socks, with the velcro straps very loosely closed so he can take them off and on without undoing them. I don’t understand how he can do it without getting blisters.

The boy who only wore velour for half a year has started wearing jeans. At preschool they have to put on “outdoor trousers” over their indoor clothes when they go out, but not if they’re wearing jeans. (An understandable policy: even if I personally wouldn’t be too bothered if Adrian wore holes in his trousers, most parents probably would.) Adrian doesn’t like the extra layer, so he’s opted for jeans instead.

Magma, with lava coming out of it

The perennials I planted last summer in the slope between the garage and the root cellar have woken and started growing, almost fast enough so you can see it.

I am very happy I planted so much last year. Finally the garden is turning into a place that can surprise me. After our very first year here, when I was discovering the wild flowers in the garden, I’ve really missed the element of surprise in our garden: being able to go out and actually find something new happening. (Apart from the very obvious, that is, like the cherry trees blossoming, or the strawberries ripening.)

Potted summer flowers can be very decorative, but they don’t surprise. Perennials on the other hand are so rewarding.

I had really planned to focus on more bushes this season, but maybe I’ll have to make a detour and do another planting with perennials.

The patched knee of Ingrid’s trousers. I think all her jeansy trousers have patched knees. The non-jeansy ones are mostly beyond rescue when they get wholes in their knees.

Ingrid is fascinated with words and expressions right now. She likes using big, complicated words and idioms. Things are not bad, they’re “katastrof!”. Things are not good, they are “fabulous” (yes, in English).

Du har min eviga tacksamhet (“you have my eternal gratitude”), o grymma värld (“oh cruel world”), ingen är den andre lik (“not one like the other”) etc.

Sometimes she gets them wrong, especially with words that sound similar or seem interchangeable. Kan du beslagta den här (instead of ta); godta utmaningen (instead of anta).

She pays attention to idiomatic expressions when we read, and proverbs too – and uses them when she can. Övning ger färdighet. Var sak på sin plats. She doesn’t really live by them, though!

She likes speaking English with a strong fake Swedish accent. She is shockingly good at English.

Picking out a splinter

Speaking of speaking, we’re working on her habit of being negative and contrarian. In conversation she often finds something to disagree with, almost automatically, out of habit. If someone says something that is not 100% factually correct, she feels like she must correct it. And if she disagrees with someone’s opinion, she must express it. It gets really tiresome.

But now she’s working on thinking before talking, which does not come easily to her, and especially thinking about whether it’s worth saying what she’s about to say. What she’s about to say may be correct, but does it actually benefit anybody?

She has discovered and understood the concept of bets. It took her a bit of time to understand what works and what doesn’t, to understand that a bet needs to be balanced and be acceptable to both parties. Now we have a bet going on: she bet me 30 kronor that she can be without sweets for two weeks. She’s on her way to win.

The highlight of Ingrid’s life right now is this weekend’s upcoming scout hike, and then the “spring hike” at the end of May, and then summer camp in August. They’re all overnight hikes/camps and she is excited by them all. Scouting is the perfect activity for her. There are activities, there are other kids, and there are exciting weekend events.

She likes receiving mail, and Kalle Anka day is the best day of the week. And Saturday is best because it’s weekend, and Friday is good as well. But she’s not so fond of Sundays because that means the weekend is almost over. She’s always living in the future, worrying about it or looking forward to it…

In the evenings, she plays Minecraft with her friend M while talking to her on Skype. And at night, after Adrian has gone to bed, she and I have been playing The Room together. We just finished part two, so maybe we’ll find some other game to take its place.