Some fresh bookmarks from

I’m still keeping quiet about my pregnancy. From what I understand, the whole thing isn’t really “solid” until after the first trimester. And I wouldn’t like to spread the good news, only to have to tell everyone a few weeks later that, oops, we’re not having a baby after all. So I’m going to wait another month.

But of course I myself think about it all the time. When I was trying to conceive, my thoughts kept coming back to the topic of babies all the time. Daily, several times over. I was counting days, and thinking about my pills, and sex, and so on. I have to say, it’s nicer to ruminate about a baby than about wanting a baby. Now I think about the time of year when Blump the Second will be born, and how big I will be in February when we’ll be attending a wedding, and what will Ingrid think, and will I need to buy new clothes again because last time I mostly needed summer clothes, and who will take care of Ingrid while I’m giving birth, and how long will I stay home with the baby, and so on.

Lies beget lies, and hiding one thing leads to having to hide other things, too. Since I haven’t told people I’m pregnant, I can’t explain at work why I need to take a morning off (to have that first meeting with the pre-natal care clinic). I can’t mention my flu shot (which I got yesterday, together with Ingrid) because they’re only available for risk groups and children at this point, and I got mine only because I was pregnant. Gah, I wish this month could pass faster.

At around three years of age, the public health care system here in Sweden likes to check up on kids’ development. Ingrid had her 3-year check yesterday. It was quite interesting.

There was the weighing and measuring, of course, plus some talk about eating habits and physical activity. (92.5cm and 15.5kg, which is a bit too chubby, so we’re going to keep a strict eye on sweets here, and try to find more ways to encourage physical activity.)

Then there was a very quick evaluation of gross motor ability – kick a ball (to check her balance) and jump up and down (to check the Achilles tendons).

The rest of the time was spent on cognitive and language skills.

First she was asked to draw something, and then to explain what she drew. (Ingrid’s drawing had some rather shapeless blobs that she said were a snail, a snail’s house, and a sun.)

Then six photos were put on the table in front of her, face down. She chose one at a time, turned it over, said what it was, and then had to answer a few questions about the picture. For example, when she picked up a photo of a mug, she was asked what goes in a mug (“a drink!”), what she likes to drink (“juice”) and what mum drinks (“she prefers milk”), and more in that vein.

She had some trouble giving the “right” answers about a photo of a woollen hat.
“Where does the hat go?”
“On the shelf.”
… at which point the nurse looked quit puzzled so I explained that indeed Ingrid’s hats mostly lie on the shelf because she’s so warm-blooded and rarely wears a hat, so the nurse could adjust her questions. (“Where do we put the hat when it’s really cold? On the foot?” – “No! On the head!”)

It was interesting to see what kind of things the questions aimed to uncover. General language skills were part of it – understanding spoken language and being able to respond – but also making sense of the world, understanding relationships between things, rules, how things “usually” work, etc.

It was also interesting to see how clearly Ingrid was aware that the nurse had specific expectations, and how uncomfortable she got when she couldn’t figure out the “right” answer. There was a photo of a ball, and the nurse asked her what we do with balls. “Throw them,” Ingrid said. What else? What can we do with our feet? The answer she wanted was “kick”, and Ingrid didn’t understand that that’s what she was fishing for, and got visibly squirmy and tense.

The verdict was, not unexpectedly, that her language skills were just fine. Not that there was any doubt about that.

Some fresh bookmarks from

Books bought, not yet read

Books read, not yet blogged


now available in the gallery.

I found out this Friday that I’m pregnant again. Since I’d undergone all sorts of examinations last time around, I knew what parts of the system were not working properly, so the process went a lot more quickly this time. Instead of years of waiting and investigations, it took less than half a year (and some pills).

I’m already thinking of how I will manage two children, where they will sleep, the clothes I will have to buy for myself, what it will feel like to breast-feed again, etc. I wish it didn’t have to take so long!

Hanteringen av odöda (“The handling of undead”) is the third book for me by John Ajvide Lindqvist (having already read Låt den rätte komma in and Människohamn).

After hours of increasing tension and a strengthening electric field in the Stockholm area, leading to excruciating headaches and malfunctioning appliances, something snaps, and the dead come back from death. Not all of them, just the ones who died in the past two months, but that’s more than enough to shock society.

Unlike classical zombies, these ones are far from violent and have no interest in eating us. All they want is to go home. Instead of a battle to survive, we have a society struggling to somehow manage hundreds of rambling undead, and people trying to get to grips with their own reactions to the undead.

For some relatives of the recently dead, this seems like a good thing at first: your beloved wife/son/grandpa is back! But while the awakened ones may not be dead, they’re far from alive, which turns out to be harder for the living to cope with than proper death. When the body is broken, perhaps partly decayed, and the mind is in no better shape, what do you do? How do you react?

Turning the zombie story upside down is an interesting idea, and Lindqvist tells a good story. His realistic, quiet tone suits the story well. The yuck factor, while present, was relatively low, and there was enough suspense to make me want to keep reading.

I found it hard to read about the grief and the stories of loss, especially since two of the main threads were about deaths in a parent/child relationship. I have great difficulty dealing with such stories. But that’s just me, and even so, I liked the book.

Some fresh bookmarks from

Thirty-six months; three years. This morning we had a cupcake with candles, and a present, and the Swedish “happy birthday” song. There was more hoopla about her birthday at nursery (the birthday song again, plus wearing a gold crown during their morning music session, plus her photo on the door, plus balloons). Then in the evening various sets of friends and relatives phoned us to wish her happy birthday. And we have two birthday parties planned for this weekend – one for family, one for her friends.

Ingrid’s number one focus this month has been her friends. She loves playing with Julia and Elin, more than any other activity, and would happily spend every single afternoon at their houses. For a month now I’ve been wanting to take her to the library, but the days when the library is open longer in the evening always happen to be the same ones when we run into Julia when leaving the nursery, and inevitably she chooses playing with Julia over visiting the library. So we still haven’t been to the library.

Sometimes she just wants to be with them, not necessarily to do anything together with them. It’s enough to be in the same room and listen to me read the same book. Or perhaps it’s just fun to play with someone else’s toys, and read someone else’s books.

She likes Julia best, but she plays better with Elin. Last time we visited Elin, they ran off together for long enough to make me wish I had brought a book. They went outside on their own, and then came back and played with their toy china and food, and then something else.

Clearly she is becoming more independent – the first inklings I noticed two months ago were not a false dawn. When I cook dinner (and she isn’t in the mood for helping me) she doesn’t just hang around next to me but goes off and plays on her own. And she won’t always follow me when I tell her I’m off to do something or other in another part of the house.

But quite often she is interested in helping me cook. Tasting the ingredients, handing me things, turning on the kettle, putting chopped veggies in the pot, stirring. Pouring things where the quantity doesn’t have to be precise, and the liquid is thick: cream, oil, vegetable broth. Serving food when it’s done – she especially enjoys ladling up soups and sauces. She’s even started to learn how to use a real sharp knife, with relatively soft stuff like cheese, tomatoes, leeks etc, under close supervision, and with my hands over hers. At dinnertime she really enjoys taking out a match for me to light the candle. I can see that she longs to be allowed to strike the match herself, but she makes no attempts to actually do it. That’s one of the advantages of her not being very independent: I can let her practice with knives and matches without having to worry that she will get a chance to try them on her own.

There’s a lot of make believe going on when she’s playing on her own, or by my side while I do something else. “We’ll pretend that I am a mouse” or “it’s your birthday, and you will get a present” and so on. A common theme is reversing our roles: she pretends that she is my mummy, and tells me what she will help me do. She also pretend sings: makes loud nonsense noises in something that is supposed to resemble a melody. (She can sing for real, too – this is different.)

Little Miss Medicine Man

When we play together, it is almost always one of two things: doctor, or shop. I don’t think there’s been a single evening without these two. The doctor game still follows a stable template, but the template has been mutating. Now it’s her foot that’s ill, more often than the stomach. And the patient (whether it’s me or her) needs to get a cuddly animal to hug, and a piece of toy candy when the doctor is done.

A few weeks ago I bought some toy money for her, and since then, playing shop has been another huge favourite. This game is slightly more varied than the doctor game. We have toy shops, and food shops, and cuddly animal shops. We even have shops that sell doctor’s equipment. We take turns being shopkeeper and customer, and we make up prices for the stuff we sell. We have a stool as counter, and a bowl for the shopkeeper to put money in, and a little purse for the customer. When the customer runs out of money she just grabs some more from the shopkeeper’s bowl.

When Ingrid is shopkeeper, most things tend to cost one, two, or maybe rarely three kronor. Sometimes she cannot come up with a price and I can pretty much name my own price. “Does this cost 5 kronor, perhaps?” She’s noticed that the coins have numbers on them, and I’ve been suggesting prices that are either 1, 5 or 10 kronor (one coin) or a few 1-krona coins, to hint that there is some logic behind the whole thing.

Speaking of counting, we still talk about weekdays and time of day, but not at all as much as last month.

Fine dining: meatballs at IKEA

I don’t think we’ve done any drawing at all this month, and barely any painting or crafts. We hardly sing at all, although she has played with her triangle a few times. We do still read and watch movies. Favourite books: Pettson får julbesök, Apan Nicke och Raffi Giraff and Vem ska trösta knyttet?. Favourite movie for the last two weeks: Mickey’s birthday party.

A few days ago, Ingrid visited the dentist for the first time in her life. The dentist confirmed that all twenty milk teeth were present (the last two appeared during this past month) and spent the rest of the time telling me about all the things we shouldn’t do. I think ideally dentists would like people to live on water only.

Quite independently of the dentist we (or rather, me) are making an effort to cut down on the amount of sweet stuff she eats. Her afternoon snacks used to be pretty healthy but then somehow she got into the habit of eating her fill of biscuits every afternoon. I thought it would be a temporary thing, as with most her preferences, but it’s gone on for longer than I like, so I’ve put an end to it.

She no longer takes any daytime naps at home at all. I’ve been trying to convince the nursery staff to not let her nap there, either, but without much luck. As a result she usually won’t fall asleep until 9 or 9:30 in the evening, which leaves her tired most mornings. Weekends, she is very fond of lying in the bed for a long time after waking, cuddling up close to me.