On this day...
3 years ago: Practising
5 years ago: Speed limit
10 years ago: Today: Freewheel

School has started and Adrian is in first grade. And seven years old. It strikes me how big he is, how much he’s grown, both physically and mentally.

He’s grown a lot over the summer and outgrown all his trousers. All the new ones we bought had to be soft and “not too tight, not too loose”. He agreed that it was good to have one pair of more durable trousers, for outdoors activities, but those had to have a soft jersey lining.

At school he is way ahead of the curriculum. At that personal development meeting, the questions the teacher asked to ascertain his maths skills were on the level of “how many fingers am I holding up” while he practices adding two-digit numbers in his head. The teacher asked if he could write his name, and at home he is reading chapter books.

In addition to school, swim school has started up again. The group he used to be in has its class way too late on Sunday evening so we switched him to a different one. He doesn’t like the new teachers and he doesn’t like the new pool so he’s not super happy about this.

A new addition this term is scouting. He’s been hearing about all the fun that Ingrid has for years, and has been looking forward to it for a long time. He had to admit he didn’t know exactly what scouts did… but he definitely wanted to do it. Now he is finally old enough to join the beaver scouts himself.

He is still full of restless energy. Unless he is focusing on something he is interested in, he talks all the time and fidgets all the time. At the “personal development meeting” at school, he was talking constantly and climbing around in the chair until he actually fell out of it. At swim school likewise the one voice that can be heard chattering loudly, almost without a pause, is Adrian’s. It is tiring. Sometimes when it gets too much I tell him to stop saying each thought out loud, but he soon starts again. I hadn’t noticed how much I had gotten used this noise until one of Ingrid’s friends spent the weekend with us and had to ask him several times to stop talking because she couldn’t hear herself think.

He talks because he cannot help it; all those thoughts need to come out. But he is also interested in words. He asks us about uncommon words he encounters – such as ish (yes, that word made its way into Swedish, too) and omfamna (“to embrace”) and anamma (which also happens to mean “to embrace” but in the non-physical sense, like you might embrace an idea, and which came up for discussion because it is part of one of Captain Haddock’s curses in Swedish) and genomskåda (“to penetrate, to see through”). And afterwards he tries to actually use them in sentences. Instead of asking me for a hug, he now says he would like to embrace me.

Scars from an active life, and a juice moustache.
  • Favourite birthday present: two Nerf guns.
  • Favourite fruit: after half a year of almost nothing but Pink Lady apples, he now prefers clementines.
  • Favourite book: Beast Quest and Bamse are still best, but he is also really enjoying the book about Nordic myths and legends he got for his birthday.
  • Lessening interest: Pokemons, believe it or not.

School has started. Ingrid looked forward to it, but after about a week she was kind of tired of it already. Homework, sitting still in a classroom, listening to boring lessons… Luckily there’s sports class to look forward to, and music, art, and crafts.

School has also already had their “personal development meetings” where the kids think about what they need or want to focus on this term. Ingrid wanted to work on expanding her vocabulary in Swedish and English. She’s borrowed The Hunger Games from the school library, in English – because she wants to read it and not because it will help grow her vocabulary, but it should certainly do that as well.

After school, there’s scouting and dancing. She’s dropped street dance (it wasn’t her style at all) and focused her ambitions on disco. She continues with the disco class she’s been doing for some while now, and to that she added “preparatory competitive dance” at the same dance studio.

We sorted through her wardrobe and then went shopping for clothes because she had outgrown almost everything, and most of the (few) things that fit had too much colour or patterns or decorations. The clothes we bought were almost all plain skinny jeans and plain tops in discreet colours. Plus, interestingly, one or two tops in what I think of as “US sports sweater style”: a word or two, and some large digits.

  • Favourite songs: Symphony (by Clean Bandit w. Zara Larsson), Instructions (by Jax Jones), Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor Swift)
  • Favourite book series: Harry Potter and Warriors
  • Favourite snack: peanut butter, straight out of the jar
  • Other favourite things, according to herself: Overwatch (the game – which she has tried at a friend’s place and now has at the top of her birthday wish list) and sushi
  • A recent interest: IQ tests

The night train towards Åre.

All the passengers waiting on the platform were wearing backpacks and hiking clothes.

Three breakfasts, the best parts of three dinners (most flavour for least weight), plus cooking oil and spices.

I am wondering if the coconut cream is worth the weight.

Adrian has been asking for fingerless gloves for a long time – since last winter I believe. I haven’t seen any in shops. Maybe I could find something online, but he also has very specific wishes regarding the gloves, so I decided to knit a pair for him.

Plus, I want to knit something anyway. I have the cardigan project that I spent so much time on and then had to rip up because it didn’t fit… and while I do want that cardigan, I feel a resistance. What if it won’t fit this time either? Maybe I should pick a different pattern? It’s easier to work up my courage with a small and simple project first.

Adrian picked the yarn. A variegated one, with blue, red and dark yellow. It’s woolly and warm and soft, but it doesn’t look that way when I see it up close like in this photo. It looks all scratchy.

I have made hyperbolic paraboloids in my oven!

I’m preparing for a four-day hike in the Swedish mountains. The early preparations are already done, especially all purchases – train tickets, map, some extra equipment. What’s left is packing – and food preparations.

I’ll be hiking hut-to-hut and the huts all sell some food, and I could make do with what they have. But I know from experience that if I only have dull, unvaried food to eat, I will have little appetite and will struggle to eat enough. I could do it for a day or two, but probably not four. So I intend to buy the heavy ingredients at the hut shops (pasta/rice, lentils, tomato sauce etc) and then “spice up” my meals with, well, spices and other extras that I bring with me.

The internet says that if you want variety in the meals during your hike, and don’t want to lug a heavy pack, then drying your own food is the way to go. It sounded complicated and inconvenient, so I wasn’t too excited about this idea at first. But it turned out that it only sounded that way because people have (of course) found ways to make money out of it – by selling books and dehydrators and whatnot. I just chopped up my food and dried it in the oven, and it was the easiest thing in the world. Hardly any effort at all. And the weight after drying is just a tiny fraction of the original.

The strips of bell peppers dried into wrinkled strips. The leeks turned papery and fragile. But the carrot slices came out really cool. The outside edge barely shrank at all, which turned the carrot slices into these interesting paraboloids. I wonder if it was because I didn’t peel the carrots first.

Adrian learning to cut his own toenails.

Back when I was learning this, we used scissors. I still remember the frustration of trying to cut the fingernails of using my left hand. Nail clippers are a nice invention. But Adrian has little fingers (and a limited understanding of the principle of leverage) so he still struggles.

Adrian fell in the schoolyard the other day and hit his forehead. It looked like a spill of sprinkles, or a child’s picture of a starry sky – a dense cloud of little red dots.

Mysterium: our current favourite board game. I bought on recommendation of some random online source (like maybe Reddit) as it was supposed to be a good family game, and it was a bulls-eye hit. We all love it.

The rules seemed complicated when we first read through them, but turned out to be quite intuitive and simple once we got going. (That is my one quibble with this game: they really need to rewrite the rulebook and explain the rules more simply and clearly.) It requires no reading or counting or memorizing or strategizing, and there is very little time pressure, so Adrian can join in without any handicapping or special rules. It’s social and non-competitive and relaxed and fun. It’s akin to Dixit but even better. Plus it’s beautiful!