Lots of new photos in the gallery. The albums are dated as of today (because that’s when I finally got the pictures uploaded) but the photos themselves vary in age; some were taken as long ago as February.

There’s a small eatery on our street, about a third of the way from home to the T-bana station. Ingrid passes it several times a week, if not quite daily. For the first few weeks of April, just after we’d moved here, we would often see a big shaggy dog sit just outside the entrance. Perhaps it belonged to a friend of the owner? Who knows.

Ingrid was very interested in the dog. She hadn’t seen many dogs or cats in England, so the multitudes of animals she could see everywhere in Stockholm really caught her attention, and this one was better than most because it was so big. She’d point it out every time we passed.

After those few weeks we didn’t see the dog there again, but every time we come home from the T-bana, she still points at the spot where the dog used to sit, and says “auh” (which is the sound that Estonian dogs make). Two months later she still hasn’t forgotten about it! And people say young children have short memories.

Rare goods

I like comfortable things. I never buy clothes that feel scratchy or stiff – no jeans, no crackly polyester fabrics. I cut off labels from t-shirts. And I use cotton hankies instead of paper tissues. They are softer and more pleasant for everyday use, and so much gentler than paper on tender skin when I have a cold.

In the Soviet Union cloth hankies were the standard solution – there was nothing else. The habit also seems fairly common in England: it wasn’t too hard to find hankies when I needed new ones. But in Sweden, apparently, people don’t use them.

NK, the upmarket department store in central Stockholm, used to be the place to go for ladies’ hankies. One went to NK’s ladies’ accessories department and asked for them: the demand was so low that they weren’t even on display. Now even NK has stopped selling them. When I asked why, I was told that for years NK kept stocking hankies as a service to people who had come to rely on them – it wasn’t really worth it economically.

So now I am buying cloth hankies online. It’s ridiculous… It’s the cheapest, simplest accessory you could possibly imagine – a simple square of thin cotton cloth – and they are being shipped to me from England. Eric is going to England soon and I have asked him to buy me some more, since almost all hankies I found on eBay were embroidered and I’d rather have plain ones.

By the way, I still have and use several of my Soviet hankies. No holes, all seams are intact, and the fabric is softer than ever. How’s that for quality?

We don’t have many toys, and most of the ones we have are baby toys. Buying toys for her has been a hit-and-miss affair, with generally more misses than hits. Things we expect her to really like are totally ignored, while she plays with empty cornflakes boxes instead. And then for almost half a year Ingrid had very little interest in any toys: she’d rather climb or slide or swing, or read books, or play with things she found around the house. So we bought almost nothing for several months.

Earlier this spring we got her a little bucket and a shovel, and both have actually been used. Encouraged by this experience, as well as her gradually growing interest in building blocks (which we have) and dolls (which she has played with in playgroup), we decided to get her a few more toys. So yesterday we went toy shopping, and it looks like the money wasn’t totally wasted.

She got her first doll, and she seems to like it. At least she keeps bringing the doll with her, so they both sit on my knees, or the doll gets to sit in her highchair. I was surprised by how hard it was to find a normal, plain doll, that requires no batteries, does not talk, pee, or do other tricks. Almost all dolls advertised “9 different functions!” and had labels saying “don’t forget the batteries!”. But I succeeded, and we came home with a pleasantly normal old-fashioned doll that does nothing except close its eyes when it lies down.

We also bought a Duplo set. She’s done no building yet, but she likes to hand me blocks one by one while I build, and then methodically tear my buildings apart. It’s also fun to pour all the blocks out of the box onto the floor, with a huge clattering noise.

Any favourite toy tips for an almost-two-year-old?