Ingrid’s preparations for an afternoon snack of yoghurt. Apricot, strawberry, banana.

Ingrid’s toothbrush.

For some reason, this toothbrush came with a loop of string and a knob that you’re supposed to attach by suction to some surface in the bathroom. I’m not sure what surface they had in mind – mirror? wall? bathtub? – but Ingrid’s toothbrush now hangs from the sink. Because if you have a knob and a string then of course you have to use them.

And my brain just cannot get used to this. Every time I look for Ingrid’s toothbrush (which I don’t do very often, and that’s of course why my brain doesn’t learn it) I look for it in the cup with all the other toothbrushes. Then I think, it’s not there, how can we have misplaced a toothbrush? before I finally find it.

For a long time Ingrid used an electric toothbrush but now for some reason she’s gone back to old school brushing. She does a decent job but is too impatient to keep it up for as long as she should, so I try to remember to do some supplemental brushing once in a while, which is why I occasionally look for her toothbrush.

Ingrid was bored and came up with the idea of baking a cake. She didn’t want to follow a recipe, though, because then baking would have become work instead of play. Instead she made what she called a hittepå-kaka, a made-up cake.

She has a reasonably good idea of what goes into a cake batter, and roughly what the result should look like. Eggs, sugar, flour, some milk. And she wanted chocolate in it, and some coconut, too. And then Adrian tasted the batter and said it was “too sour”, meaning it didn’t have enough sugar, so she added some more. And then the finished cake needed some icing sugar on top.

The result was surprisingly good, given the amount of thought that went into it.

Adrian has done a lot of growing up recently. There’s little left of the anger we saw so much of last month.

Actually… I wonder how much is due to him growing up and out of it, and how much is us providing him with better preconditions. We might simply be more adept at parrying his moods, because otherwise his anger wears us all down.

Also, we pay more attention to his sleep. We’re stricter about getting him into bed earlier, and we let him sleep longer in the mornings. Everybody else gets up together at 7, and Adrian sleeps another 20-30 minutes.

He still thinks that he can order people around and they should do as he wants. “Mummy, you will read for me now, because I want it!” And yet at the same time when we tell him he as to do something, he can argue that “you don’t have to do things that you don’t want”, man behöver inte göra det om man inte vill.

He talks a lot; at times almost constantly. The level of his talking varies, of course: sometimes it’s just his mouth moving because it has nothing better to do; other times he is actually talking to us.

Mostly it is about the here and now. Quite often at breakfast he talks about shapes he sees in his half-eaten slice of toast.

Sometimes he talks about strange scenarios that come into his mind. What if the house was hungry, too? What if it was raining stones instead of water? What if we went out at night?

He is also learning the art of conversation. (Interestingly, this is something Ingrid has never done as far as I can remember.) He asks us how our day was and what we did at work. When the extended family was here to celebrate the kids’ birthday, he spoke to his grandfather and wanted to hear what he had done when he was a kid.

He plays with words and rhymes. He makes up nonsense words, and twists existing words into new shapes. Language play must really occupy a large chunk of his brain: he comes up with impressively creative rhymes sometimes. A few weeks ago we had just read a cartoon adaptation of Treasure Island by Mauri Kunnas, and he rhymed “åt det hållet” with “Captain Smollett”. I was pretty impressed.

He’s trying to figure out reading. He’s known his letters for a long time already, and recognised his own name. Now he sometimes tries to follow along when I read for him, and figure out where that word is that I just said.

Adrian wants to be a big kid. He wants to be as big as Ingrid, he says. Anything that Ingrid can do, he also wants. He wants to have a rucksack for his things when he goes to preschool, like Ingrid does. He wants to sit on a big kitchen chair, not a kids’ chair.

Sometimes he still wants to be a baby, too. Mostly he asks if we can play mummy daddy baby, and I can be the mummy and he can be the baby, and it’s time for the baby to go to sleep. Which means he wants me to carry him to the bathroom and then upstairs, like I did when he was a baby.

He isn’t entirely happy about going to preschool and often asks if he can stay at home instead. I’ve thought about taking a day off now and again to spend the day with him, but it’s not going to happen, because he would take that as the new normal and demand it all the time. He is completely unable to handle rules with exceptions.

We used to have slightly sweeter “weekend cereal” at home – not honey-coated sugar bombs but sweeter than what I think is suitable for everyday breakfasts. We had to stop that because he wouldn’t accept that he couldn’t get them every day.

He gets a Numbert book every Saturday, and he complains bitterly about the waiting almost every day, and cries that he wants it now.

Random fact: Adrian likes soft, plush, warm fabrics like fleece and velour. His dream garment would be a fleece one-piece or zip-up pyjamas. I found one on Tradera that was almost what he wanted but it has feet, and while he likes it for its soft fleecy warmth, it’s not quite what he wished for.

Random fact #2: He really likes to eat with his hands. If we insist, he can use his fork and knife passably well, but given a choice, he’d rather use his fingers. He doesn’t eat messy food like casseroles and mashed potatoes, anyway – and for the kinds of food he likes, such as pasta, boiled potatoes, fish fingers, broccoli, or corn fritters, hands work as well as cutlery.

We saw a ballet evening titled Bill at the Stockholm Royal Opera.

The first piece, Artifact Suite by William Forsythe, consisted of two parts. The first part, with violin music by Bach, has a focus on solo performances with the rest of the dancers more in the background. Nice but not particularly exciting.

The second part of this piece, with piano music described as “baroque fantasies”, is more of an ensemble performance. The dancers move in geometrical patterns. They follow, imitate and echo each other. Both the music and the dancers’ movements have a very rhythmic quality. It reminded me of Gurdjieff Movements, both in the geometrical, pattern-based movements of the group as a whole, and the minimalist, somewhat angular movements of the dancers, with an emphasis on arms. Mesmerizing – not just figuratively but also literally. I got so entranced by the movement and the music that I found myself drifting off into a dream several times, without even feeling sleepy.

The second piece, The Other You, I found less interesting. A man and his shadow/mirror image/doppelgänger, struggling. Too little dance, too much “concept” and mime show.

The third piece was more interesting again. Bill (which was also the name of the ballet evening as a whole) was set to rave music, performed by dancers in skin-tight colourless bodysuits, on a smoke-filled blue scene. The choreography felt organic, forceful and wild, but also rather chaotic.

There was one dancer who really excelled during this performance. Jérôme Marchand was easy to pick out from the ensemble not only because he was taller than the others and had a shaved head. He also moved as if the piece had been written with him in mind: fluidly, softly, almost seeming non-human at times. He made me think of Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen comics.

The opera house have a short video clip, but no good photos unfortunately, so the photos here are from Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of Artifact Suite.

Stockholm’s Royal Opera. I left my camera at home so I borrowed Eric’s iPhone for this.

I have been feeling very uncultured recently, or perhaps cultureless is a better word. I haven’t been to the theatre, I have visited no exhibitions, gone to no concerts, read no new books. I skip the culture section in the newspaper because I have no time for any of it anyway. I have all sorts of excuses for this, mostly coming down to lack of both time and babysitters.

But today Eric and I went to a ballet evening at the Stockholm Royal Opera. What a wonderful feeling it was.

I promise myself more culture from now on. At the very least I will pick up a book, and browse the culture pages so I have a clue about what is happening.

There are still party leftovers all over the house: garlands, serpentines, balloons, paper ghosts…

I set out yesterday to photograph one of our cherry trees in its autumn colour. What I got is not at all what I had hoped for.

Here’s what the tree looked like a year ago, almost to the day. That was what I wanted to capture again but from a different angle. And next to it, what it looked like yesterday:

Compared to last year, the tree looks rather unimpressive. Where’s that fabulous fiery red gone? The top of the tree is already starting to look sparse so waiting will not help.

I thought that the colours we see in autumn leaves are always there, but hidden by the strong green of chlorophyll. In autumn they become visible as the chlorophyll is broken down before the leaves fall. But if that was really the case then a tree should look pretty much the same year to year.

I’d noticed already last year that there was more red on the side of the tree that faces the sun, and mostly yellow in the shadier parts. So there’s obviously some dependence on sunlight.

Now I did some reading and found out that the schoolbook explanation for autumn colours is only half of the truth at best.

The orange and yellow pigments (carotenoids) are indeed there all year round, as the schoolbooks say. But the red pigments (anthocyanins) are only produced in autumn when chlorophyll starts breaking down. And some kinds of autumn weather lead to more anthocyanins than other kinds:

The range and intensity of autumn colors is greatly influenced by the weather. Low temperatures destroy chlorophyll, and if they stay above freezing, promote the formation of anthocyanins. Bright sunshine also destroys chlorophyll and enhances anthocyanin production. Dry weather, by increasing sugar concentration in sap, also increases the amount of anthocyanin. So the brightest autumn colors are produced when dry, sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights.


Additionally I learned that anthocyanins are also the pigments in cherries, but also eggplant skin, blueberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, apples and all sorts of other red and purple fruit and vegetables. And the dependence on sunlight explains why often only one side of the apple is red while the other is greener.

Cherry tree in autumn colours.

I don’t know where this month has gone. It’s all been so busy I feel like I’ve hardly had any time together with Ingrid.

During weekends we’ve had birthday parties. The best thing and the worst thing about parties is waiting for them. Ingrid spends a lot of time looking forward to the next big thing.

Another important part of birthday parties is getting presents. Here again anticipation is an important part of it, and the opening of presents. But the happiness about the actual things usually dissipates fast. It’s like when she buys toys for herself: she often has more fun choosing and buying a toy than actually playing with it.

This year’s top present was a radio controlled car. She’s been asking for one for a long time and was really happy to get one. After previous presents, I don’t really have high expectations when it comes to actual usage.

One weekend she also had a scout hike – her first one with an overnight stay. She was very excited and just a teeny bit anxious, but in the end managed it without a hitch.

Weekdays are full of school and after-school activities. Estonian lesson and scouts on Tuesdays; riding on Thursdays; fredagsmys on Fridays. Of the remaining two afternoons/evenings Ingrid usually spends one with a friend, either here or at the friend’s home.

Friend E, whom Ingrid thinks of as her best friend, likes Ingrid well enough but not best, so they don’t play as often as Ingrid would like. Instead she’s reconnected with her friend M, also one of the “original four” whom Ingrid got to know at nursery. M spent two years abroad and came back this summer, kind of out of touch with the others. So now M and Ingrid found each other again. They are kind of similar in character: both a bit bossy, a bit tougher than the average girl. Both like reading and are good at English. They play with their stuffed animals and Littlest Pet Shop figures, and they’ve been swapping iPad app tips with each other.

Ingrid has several pet-raising games now: the kind where you buy pets, feed them, care for them, and breed them to get more pets. And the pets generate in-game money of some sort so you can buy more stuff and more pets. One thing this type of games have in common is waiting. It takes time to grow food, to breed the pets, etc., and in between there’s not much you can do. So Ingrid sometimes switches between several such games, feeding the pets in one while waiting for the others to become hungry, etc.

She’s also discovered Minecraft. She uses Minecraft like she uses Lego: for building houses. The key features of a house are doors, windows, a bed – and bookcases.

Today we had this term’s parent-teacher meeting for Ingrid. She is, not surprisingly, way ahead of the goals in maths, reading, writing and English.

One evening when she was bored she started doubling numbers, in her head. Two, four, eight, … all the way to 8192. Then it got hard to keep the numbers in her head.