On this day...
3 years ago: Slope, planted

I ask myself for the N:th time why I am still staying at my current job. I guess I’m still hoping for a turnaround. I give it until September, and if the situation is no better then, I will give up.

The team is trying to complete three priority 1 projects at the same time, all of which require constant attention, all of which must be done before midsummer. I’m like a juggler with too many balls, and more are being hefted at me. Other projects that we should prepare are getting no attention, so the next couple of months will be singularly unproductive because we’ll be picking upp all the dropped balls.

I am accumulating overtime daily, frequently catching up with work late at night at home. I sleep badly. I’ve missed breakfast twice in a week, and I haven’t gone to the gym in two weeks.

I’m walking precariously close to the line where I will break, but I’ve been doing it for so long now that I know the signs that mean I’m getting too close. When I cannot fall asleep at night, or when I wake up from weird dreams again and again, or when I wake up and yesterday’s stomach ache is still there.

I am so used to feeling constantly stressed – faster, faster! – that I don’t remember how to relax and slow down any more. Yesterday I had to tell myself to pretend I was not in a hurry, so that I could try and figure out how I might behave in that scenario.

By Sunday evening, after two days of focused effort on slowing down, I feel somewhat like a normal human being again. And tomorrow it’s back into the fray again.

The sweetest thing he said all month: “I love it when I make you laugh.”

Some wonderfully interesting random thoughts that he has had:

  • What if kissing made your teeth clean [so you wouldn’t need to brush them]?
  • How come the clock’s hands don’t fall down when they are pointing at, say, eleven?
  • Why is it called the Eiffel tower, and what is an Eiffel anyway?
  • You cannot take back what you did, because you already did it. But you also cannot change what you will do, because it hasn’t happened yet.

All these ideas and questions are frantically spinning around in his head all the time. And they all need to come out, so he talks all the time, until I feel like my ears are going to fall off. Anything else he is doing – laying the table, eating dinner, getting ready for bedtime – can take forever because he has so much more interesting things to think about.

Bedtime in particular is something he struggles with. While I read and sing for him, he interrupts all the time, and climbs around in his bed. Then, after we turn off the light, he keeps talking and moving around – and then suddenly it’s like a switch is flicked and he’s asleep. Whereas I gradually drift off, he goes straight from talking to such deep sleep that a minute later I can walk around and drop things and loudly close the door, and he doesn’t notice anything.


  • Fidget spinners. (No surprise there.)
  • Words that sound funny. Pikadoll. Puerto Rico.
  • Pokemons. I think they occupy at least half his brain all the time, and all of his brain half of the time. The Pokemon animated series is all he watches on his iPad, and he can tell me endless facts about which type evolves into which other type, and what attacks they have. He is saving up his allowance to buy more Pokemon cards. He throws imaginary Pokeballs at real pigeons to pretend that he is catching a Pidgey.
  • Maths. He now understands both multiplication and division, and can happily inform me that eight divided by four is two. He doesn’t know the actual times table by heart though, so he can only do it with small numbers. But he has a strong instinctive feel for how these things work. He asked me what nine times six is (because he had already calculated that a Rubik’s cube has nine tiles on each side, and six sides) and when I said that it’s ten times six, minus one six, he figured it in his head out straight away. He challenges himself to not use his fingers at all – he said that he sometimes doesn’t actually move them but thinks of moving them instead.
  • Reading Bamse. It’s the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing he does at night. He finds it very frustrating that new issues only come out once every three week, while Ingrid’s Kalle Anka comes every week.
  • Singing bits and pieces of his favourite songs even though he doesn’t understand the lyrics. Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the feeling, Sia’s Cheap thrills (“Hit the dance floor, hit the dance floor…”)

Packing for a five-day scout camp.

She has a 30-litre junior-sized backpack. That’s the largest model I could find that fits her not-so-tall body. It doesn’t really fit all her stuff for a week. We usually end up strapping the sleeping bag to the bag on the outside, which makes it a bit clumsy.

It’s summer break and Ingrid is bored. The only parts of summer worth having are all the camps and trips. She knows exactly how many days between the first camp and the Estonia trip (eight), and she has precise plans for how much money she will save up for each trip for souvenirs and such.

The rest of summer sounded nice in theory – no homework! – but now that the freedom is here, she doesn’t know what to do with it. She needs people around her, but most of her friends are also at camp or such, and school doesn’t provide any kind of care during the summer for kids her age, so she doesn’t have anyone. She’s been home on her own a few days. The other days I’ve worked from home to keep her company.

  • Bedtime story: The Iron Trial
  • Favourite foods: drinking yoghurt, Rice Krispies, scrambled eggs, “flat” peaches, peanut butter sandwiches
  • A favourite moment: when we go to pick up Adrian at school or summer care. I stay on the sidelines; she goes and finds Adrian. Both like it best this way.
  • A favourite app: Draw Something, where you take turns drawing things and guessing what the other player has drawn
  • A memorable event: toning her hair pink-purple-blue, mermaid style

Working from home can feel pretty pleasant on a day like this. Fresh air, a nice view, a light breeze, birdsong…

The first poppy flowers have opened.

Being the lazy gardener that I am, last year’s seed capsules are still there.

For another two weeks, Adrian spends his days in summer care. Too bad grown-ups don’t get 10 weeks of summer break.

Ingrid is too old for that, so she has to simply stay at home. I’m working from home some days to keep her company, and leaving her on her own for some days. Today was one of the latter. She of course stays inside all day, even though it’s a beautiful day. So when I get home, I chase her off the sofa to go with me to pick up Adrian.

Summer care is in a different location than normal school, and it’s a slightly longer trip. Still no more than 10 minutes by bike, even at the kids’ leisurely place.

There is a large, fun climbing structure in that schoolyard, so instead of cycling straight home, we stayed and climbed for a while. (It was large enough to support mums, too.)

Boredom often turns both Ingrid and Adrian into worms who wriggle around on the closest flat surface.

Adrian loves building things, and has been asking me for a long time to build something in wood together with him. He’s also been asking for a bed for one of his toys. Today we had a woodworking day when we got both projects done.

I built a minimalist four-poster doll bed. The four-poster bit was essential and actually what got this project started – Adrian had a bunch of small bead projects that he wanted to hang over the doll, so it can look at them while it’s waiting for sleep.

Adrian built a boat. He did the design, we measured together, I cut and drilled, and finally Adrian screwed all the pieces together. Then he ran off with it before I got a chance to photograph the final result.

I like the way Adrian’s imagination works. He takes a piece of thick plank for the bottom, adds a section of square rod as a mast, and there’s his boat! He did add more detail to this one (two more pieces of rod for railings, a little post with a wooden button for a wheel, a block as a cabin) but in his mind it was already a boat without those. If I was asked to build a boat, I would probably aim for something more clearly boat-shaped, which would be a lot more work.

I have so little time to just be in the garden, especially recently. Or to just be, period. So I make sure we take our meals outside when possible. Sometimes the kids (especially Adrian) grumble over the extra distance they have to carry everything (at least 10 extra metres each way, poor kids!) or about the sun or the heat, but I overrule them.

The deck on the east side of the house gets sunshine in the morning, and it usually isn’t too hot at that time of the day. By lunchtime we get shade from the cherry tree so we don’t get baked. We’ve arranged furniture in such a way that we can get the juice and butter out of the sun, and we have a power outlet so we can plug in the toaster as well, so we have all we need.