On this day...
5 years ago: Ethnic
10 years ago: Today: filming

  • Summer homework: reading 200-ish pages in Estonian. She’s reading Roosi ja Liisu seiklused. Doing it on her own is boring, so she reads it out loud to me.
  • Favourite book: Ut i det vilda, from the “Warriors” series. Clans of warrior cats. I hardly believed my eyes when I saw the book and thought it must be a joke, but no, it’s for real, and Ingrid is mesmerized.
  • Favourite word: kummaline.
  • Favourite thing overall: Harry Potter. Suddenly she decided that she was super interested in everything Harry Potter. Now half her wall is plastered with Harry Potter posters, there is a wand and a set of “potion flasks” on the bookshelf, her birthday wishlist only contains one item – “Harry Potter things” – and she’s making plans for redoing her room with a Ravenclaw theme. Blue and gray curtains, that kind of thing.
  • Favourite new thing: her new Iphone. The old one was barely functional, so we bought a new (second hand) one. I was willing to pay for a model 5 but she wanted a 5S, so she is paying the difference out of her allowance. She’s paying down the debt by 10 kr each week.
  • Favourite toys: one little cuddly owl and one cuddly hedgehog. The hedgehog has sort of become her mascot. I’m not entirely sure how it got started, but it has to do with her nickname being Iggi/Iggy and hedgehogs being igelkott in Swedish.

1. I’m pushing Adrian to go to the men’s room on his own, rather than to the ladies’ room with me.

2. He hates the hand dryers in public restrooms because of the noise they make, and shakes his hands dry instead.

The old school dryers weren’t too bad, but modern ones are often way too loud even for my ears. The Dyson Airblades are the worst ones I’ve encountered. We both flee when someone starts using one nearby. I understand that they are good for the environment but I truly wish they didn’t exist.

Our traditional annual visit to the Ahhaa science centre. In between other attractions, we attended a workshop about blood pressure (and tried measuring each other’s blood pressure, with varying results), and the kids saw a chick hatch. The most fun they had was, I think, the building area, just like last year. Adrian took it very, very seriously.

Ingrid joined her friend for her riding lesson, while Adrian and I waited and watched.

It rained.

Adrian found a bench to climb and balance on.

With friends in Tartu, playing Potion Explosion.

The kids like to do things together with us adults, naturally. But they are not too fond of the adult activities that feel too much like work (such as cooking) whereas I’m not too fond of playing with their toys. I can build with Legos or other construction toys for a while, but when the building turns into playing with what we built, I just feel like I’m going to die of boredom.

I’m glad that both kids are now of an age that we can play board games together. It’s an activity that we can do together and really enjoy, all of us. For some harder games, Adrian teams up with someone else, but quite often he can hold his own.

I recently bought a bunch of new games; Potion Explosion was one of them. It was easy to get started with (the age recommendation of 14 years is ludicrous) and quite a lot of fun, so we brought it with us to Estonia to play with friends here as well.

For the first time in decades, I went to a song festival. It’s an Estonian tradition going back almost 150 years, and an amazing experience. This year’s event was not the “full” festival but the youth festival, with a particular focus on young composers, conductors and performers. (The full one is a bit larger.) Even so, there was a choir of 10,000+ singers and 50,000 people in the audience. Awe-inspiring, quite literally.

We were a bit late to the venue so we ended up sitting further back that I had hoped, among the trees at the top of the slope, and didn’t quite get the full impact of the ten thousand voices. So we’ll have to attend the next one again and be there earlier, to get an even better experience.

I have vague, distant memories of attending the festival as a small child. Somewhat more strongly I remember the extraordinary (in all senses of the word) “Song of Estonia” festival in 1988, attended according to some claims by a quarter of the population of Estonia. I was a callow child, uninterested in current affairs, but even I could feel history being made on that day.

Due to strong headwinds and unspecified “technical issues”, the ferry was over two hours late arriving to Tallinn.

There isn’t much to do on a ferry other than eat/drink or browse the tax free shops, neither of which we are interested in. The cabins are tiny and claustrophobic. The seats in the lounge areas are all full. At the Tallinn end of the trip, there isn’t even a view to be had from the lounges – just dull gray seas. (Meanwhile at the Stockholm end the views of the archipelago are almost worth a trip of their own.)

Luckily the ferries sometimes convert a café or a conference centre into a play area during summer. This one had a small ball pit, some building blocks, and ride-on cars and ball hoppers.

On the ferry on our way to Estonia, for the annual visit.

I sewed Poke balls for Adrian, so he can throw them at imaginary Pokemons to catch them all.

Meanwhile, Ingrid is looking for a new phone. The old one is sort of broken (she has to put it in loudspeaker mode to hear anything) but almost more importantly it’s too old for playing Pokemon Go.

Now that I’m on vacation I can start catching up on all the things I had no time for during most of June. Such as buying clothes for the kids. And digging a trench for the hedge.

One edge of the trench is easy to dig because it was recently moved, when the retaining wall was built. Along the other edge, after less than the depth of the spade, I’m already digging down in hard-packed, dead-looking, gravelly soil untouched by any grass roots, and prying out rocks of various sizes.

In the middle, there is an area that is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you get. It looks like the soil hasn’t been touched in decades. But it has been moved at some point, probably either when the house was built, or when the extension was added. I’m leaning towards the former, because among rusty tools (such as this rake) and building materials (broken bricks, chunks of concrete, bent and rusted L-bars) I find pieces of animal bones. The extension was built in the 70s and I’m kind of guessing that people did not throw bones in the garden at that time. But in the 1900s they might have thrown them on a compost heap in some corner of the garden.