Adrian is growing. He eats like a horse. Truly, some days he eats more than anyone else in this family. He is also a slow eater, often forgetting to eat and instead thinking about other things, so meals can take a long while. Sometimes the rest of us run out of patience and leave the table before he is done. (We can’t just sit there and talk to each other, because then he will join us in our conversation and make no progress at all with the eating, and we’ll all sit there forever.) But he doesn’t seem to mind.

He is growing stronger. The hikes of nearly 10 km that we did in Mercantour were hard but there was no question about whether he could do it.

He is also growing braver, bit by bit. He’s always been much more cautious than Ingrid, both physically and otherwise. Case in point: both learned to ride the balance bike at an early age, and were then offered the chance to try a pedal bike. Ingrid rode off on her bike after 30 seconds of practice (around her 4th birthday). Adrian has been afraid of falling and hasn’t really wanted to try even. He did learn to cycle this month – on a bike that is way too small for him, because on this one the ground wasn’t so far. He still prefers it to another bike we have that is actually in his size.

Here I am, describing how cautious he is… but he has become significantly braver, or perhaps more comfortable in the large and dangerous world around him. It used to be that whenever we went for a forest walk, he’d always stay really close by my side, ideally holding my hand all the time. I don’t mind holding hands, but on uneven ground or narrow paths it really makes walking uncomfortable, so I often asked him to let go. A minute later I’d notice he was holding my hand again.

But now when we’ve been walking, both in Mercantour and in Tyresta (the blog post about that one will come soon) I suddenly realized he wasn’t doing that any more. He was ranging ahead, no longer anxious about the situation.

I wonder if he isn’t mainly worried about getting lost or left behind. In restaurants for example, if it’s just me and him and I need to go to the toilet, he would never stay at the table and wait for me, he always wants to join me. He also trusts Ingrid: at the buffet on the ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, Ingrid and I took turns going to get food so one of us could stay with Adrian. But now at least he doesn’t need me immediately next to me. He even felt OK going to get another drink for himself at the buffet, on his own. Today he was OK staying in the car while I went up to our apartment to get some stuff, for the first time ever, and in a strange city to boot. Baby steps…

Favourite fruit: raspberries and apples.

Current bedtime story: Harry Potter (inspired by Ingrid).

We took a dip in a lake. The water was cold; even the kids did not stay in water very long.

We went to the Ahhaa science centre. The kids mostly ran around on their own, with friends, but somehow towards the end of the day we all ended up in a construction play area with foam bricks. Adrian wanted to build a house with me.

We each brought different things to the process. Adrian decided the overall shape and size of the house. I made sure it stood up, by setting the bricks in a bond – on his own Adrian would have just piled them up in straight stacks. Together we decided where to put doors and windows. Finally Adrian added an element of randomness by adding odd pieces here and there when he felt like it.

Initially it was just us two in a corner of the construction area, while other groups of kids were building elsewhere. There was some competition for bricks and several times it looked like we would have to stop because we were out of materials. But over time kids left and new ones arrived. Whenever someone left, everyone who stayed had a new opportunity to grab more bricks from the ruins of their buildings, so we kept going. In the end we had an impressively-sized house, large enough for Adrian to walk in, incorporating all the bricks in the area.

Ingrid made a Totoro hoodie

Bits and pieces:

  • Saving money for a robot dog. Volunteers for emptying the dishwasher, doing grocery shopping etc to earn extra money. Vacuuming the floors is her favourite job.
  • Really likes listening to music. Turns on music before sitting down for breakfast, or starting to cook dinner, etc.
  • Favourite artist/group, according to herself: Little Mix.
  • Favourite food, according to herself: ketchup.
  • Favourite summer activity, according to me: swimming. At home she was in and out of the pool all day every day, and any time we’ve gone swimming here in Estonia, she’s the first one in and the last one out. Diving, jumping, splashing, swimming – anything.
  • Has started reading a book – an actual, real book, with no pictures, instead of the endless Kalle Anka comics. I bought the book for her, read it myself and loved it, and now she is reading it on her own. It’s The Iron Trial from the Magisterium series.

Carving stuff out of pine tree bark

(I’m in Estonia with the kids. Our days are full and our evenings are late, so I have neither time nor energy for more than a very brief post. And I left all my photos at home on my external hard drive so I only have pictures from the last week with me.)

Two views from the top of Estonia’s tallest “mountain”, Suur Munam├Ągi. The name could be translated as Great Egg Mountain but it is neither particularly great nor really a mountain, more of a Big Egg Hill. It is all of 318 metres high, but only 60 metres relative to the land around it, and even those 60 are a really gentle slope. (It is called the Big Egg Hill because there is also a Little Egg Hill.)

We happened to be nearby so we drove there and climbed all those 60 metres to its top. The viewing tower adds another 30 metres so you can at least see past all the tree tops. Not that the view is particularly exciting, anyway.

It was more fun looking straight down. There was a cross-country cycling competition going on while we there and the route passed right across the top of the hill. In a way it should be kind of impressive for the race to pass the top of the country’s highest mountain but I am pretty sure that the cyclists had much tougher and steeper sections elsewhere.

We went for a bog/forest walk with our Estonian friends, in Meenikunno bog.

I wanted to take the kids to somewhere typically Estonian. We’ve seen enough forests in Sweden, but there are no bogs around Stockholm.

The first half of the walk went through a bog along a plank path. In the forest it was an ordinary path on the ground. The ground was waterlogged so funnily enough we got through the bog with completely dry feet but got them rather wet and muddy in the forest.

Everywhere in Estonia there are small locally-grown cucumbers for sale. The kids eat them like fruit, instead of apples or bananas.

We’re in Tartu. After a day of driving, grocery shopping and unpacking, I needed some fresh air in the evening. By turning the walk into a geocaching walk, I got Adrian to join me. It was a good thing I had him with me – one of the caches was so high up in a tree that I couldn’t have done it on my own, but with him on my shoulders we were able to reach it.

The second cache was hidden next to a decrepit old house. To my eyes it was picturesque decay; to Adrian it looked so old that he was afraid to go near it in case it fell down.

We’re staying in an apartment in Tigutorn, “the snail tower”. The convenient location is good, but even nicer is the parking spot that’s included in the deal! Last year I spent so much mental energy daily on finding a place for the car. It’s nice to not have to think about it at all.

Taking the ferry to Estonia for our annual two-week trip. Queueing at the harbour was boring. The kids got out their iPads, I got out my camera. (The photo shows the edge of the harbour quay, the boat, and the water in between.)

This year’s second major home improvement project – we’re having the house repainted. It was last repainted 12 years ago and is definitely due a fresh coat of paint by now.

The paint has cracked and loosened in some places, creating little pockets moisture. Peeling off that loose paint has exposed the siding boards behind, and there are spots where they are not at all in a good shape. (The crosses mean that these boards will be replaced.)

The parts where the loose paint has fallen off completely are actually in much better shape. Exposure to rain is not a problem; never drying out is.