Speaking of clothes sizing… here we have two baby bodies, both size 56, i.e. supposed to fit a baby that is 56 cm long. No age-based fuzzy sizing like in some places, we’re talking hard measurements here!

And the reality?

Some fresh bookmarks from delicious.com

Isn’t it bizarre that the online edition of a newspaper can publish an article about an online phenomenon, and yet not post a link to the site they talk about?

We now have a name: our son is called Adrian Felix. He is now a week old (minus a few hours).

Not only did the birth go very smoothly, everything else is going unexpectedly smoothly as well. Adrian falls asleep easily, and actually likes to sleep lying down. Breastfeeding is going well, too. It’s all so easy.

With Ingrid I was lost, overwhelmed, and exhausted for several weeks. Now within the first week Eric and I already been to IKEA, I’ve taken Ingrid to her dance group, etc, with Adrian hanging along. Eric’s actually going back to work on Monday already, since I feel I’ve got things under control here.

For us, going from one child to two was a much smaller step than going from zero to one. I know it’s not the case for every family. Perhaps it’s because Ingrid is already quite a big girl, and more mature than the average child of her age? She’s been very tolerant of the disruption to her life, and quite understanding of my inability to, for example, read her good night story when Adrian demands to be fed. (The birth hasn’t just brought inconvenience to her: now that the belly is out of the way, there’s room for Ingrid to sit properly on my lap again, and I can actually lift and hold her again.) She’s also very proud of being a big sister, and shows off “her baby” to anyone who will listen.

A reporter (Miriam Beckstein) stumbles upon evidence of a money laundering scheme. This quickly leads to her being fired, getting death threats – and being transported to a parallel Earth. That other Earth appears mostly medieval, but Miriam quickly discovers that the knights are equipped with very modern rifles. Turns out that some people, including Miriam and her family, can travel between the two Earths, and that’s a powerful asset to have.

Miriam spends the rest of the book getting to know the habits and rules of that other world, and the family politics – and then trying to change them. Lots of intrigue, plotting, more close calls with death, a love affairs etc.

It’s got all the right ingredients – a sensible woman protagonist, discussions of socioeconomic development, suspenseful plot, lots of ideas – but some essential spark is missing. I think it’s the delivery: Stross has great ideas but the writing is lifeless. I wasn’t exactly disappointed with the book but when I put it down and looked at it, I realized I felt no particular need to read book 2 in the series. So I’m not going to.

Amazon UK, Amazon US, Adlibris.

Some fresh bookmarks from delicious.com

  • Några få röster kan vända valet – DN.se – Just 298 votes – for the right party, in the right districts – could give the Moderates a majority.
  • Distantsilt: pildikesi Eestist – Eesti Päevaleht – (In Estonian.) A Spaniard living in Estonia comments on Estonians' un-service-mindedness and their general habit of not being particularly nice to strangers. This is why I am not even considering moving back to Estonia.
  • Design Thinking vs. Data Thinking – “Data thinking”: present the problem as a mathematical formula like any other, come up with systematic solutions, then employ testing until a final result is produced. What's pointedly missing from this approach is the human factor: there is no empathy in the process. It lives or dies entirely by the “sword of data”.
  • TED Talks: Barry Schwartz on the paradox of choice – Why more choice does not lead to more happiness

The baby – a boy – was born on Friday evening, at home as planned. Everybody is doing well. Details to follow later.

On Wednesday I had another midwife’s appointment, hopefully my last one. Everything was looking good, as usual. She also confirmed that my application for a home birth has been approved, so we’re hopefully having a home birth this time again. (In Sweden women do have the right for a home birth, but you’ve got to pay for it out of your own pocket. Stockholm is the only region that compensates your costs, as long as you fulfil certain criteria – most notably they won’t cover a home birth for your first pregnancy.)

The practicalities are generally sorted. Work tasks have been finished or parked, I have emptied my drawers, and we had my farewell lunch today. We have a birth pool in the basement (unassembled). My mum has agreed to take care of Ingrid. The phone numbers to both midwives are on the fridge. Teensy nappies lie waiting in the bathroom.

It has been an unusually ordinary month. Or perhaps I have not been paying enough attention?

There has been a lot of talk about the baby, of course: about what s/he will be able to do (sleep and drink milk) and will not be able to do (walk, play), things that Ingrid is allowed to do but the baby won’t (help cook dinner, play with daddy’s iPad), things Ingrid will help the baby with (teach her songs), and so on. Ingrid is taking a long view of things and is already planning for how she will help carry the balance bike down the garden stairs when the baby is old enough to use it. I guess she finds it easiest to relate to her own age, so she imagines the baby in her place.

Eric’s iPad, by the way, has been a very appreciated toy. (I agree, I like it too.) It made its way into her life during a longer car trip we undertook, and has since then been almost a daily fixture. Eric has found a bunch of apps for her: finger painting, dress-up, jigsaw puzzles, simple connect-the-dots, memory (find the pairs) and so on. She can manage all of them on her own, because the interface is so simple. The touch screen is perfect for her – so much easier and more natural than using a mouse or a stylus – and the small size is also a big plus.

iPad use counts towards the one-hour screen time limit I try to keep to, so there hasn’t been much movie-watching this month. Not much reading, either, although I don’t think that’s because of the iPad. In fact I don’t know where all our time goes. She hardly plays with any toys, rarely touches her jigsaw puzzles, hasn’t drawn much… we’ve played some board games now and again but not much of that either.

Every week she spends one or two afternoons with friends, either here or at their place. A few afternoons are filled with errands, and since I don’t walk very fast nowadays we get home so late that it’s time to cook dinner. She usually helps me with that, or just potters around.

If she could, I think she’d have a friend over every single afternoon. She loves company. She also loves novelty: other kids’ toys are far more interesting than her own. And now she and her friends often play together on their own for long stretches of time, which means that I am more than happy to have her friends here, and I don’t feel like she’s too much of a burden for their parents either.

I don’t really know what she and her friends do together. “Mummy daddy baby” is one game that I’ve heard them play. Various sorts of dress-up, too: whenever I arrive to pick her up, she’s wearing fairy wings, flouncy skirts and such. There are also games with rules: “if you step on the gray ones then you die, if you step on the green ones then you win, and on the red ones nothing happens”. Death is a common part of such games. Stepping on certain stones in the street, touching a certain part of the rug, etc, all lead to death. Not very seriously, though: she’s not concerned at all when she does happen to step on them. There’s a general focus on the bad things in life – perhaps an effort to conquer them? When drawing with Majken she told me they were drawing “things that you can die of, and stinging nettles”.

She thinks a lot about her friends when they’re not together, too. She draws pictures, or takes home drawings from nursery, and tells me that this one is for Elin, or for Julia or Majken, and wants to take them with her when she next meets them. Since Julia lives in our street, just two houses further up, she sometimes walks to their house to put the drawing in their letterbox.

At first it was just the drawings; now it’s growing into a whole exchange of letters: the drawing is either folded and taped or put in an envelope, and then we have to write “FROM INGRID TO JULIA” on it (me spelling it out, her drawing the letters), and then she delivers it. Apparently Julia likes this too, because sometimes we find similar letters in our letterbox, which always makes Ingrid very happy. She checks the mail every day and inspects all the envelopes to see who they’re addressed to. (She can spell her own name all the way, and knows the first letters of mine and Erics. She’s viewed I as her letter for a long time; now all the letters in her name are “hers”. “R as in Ingrid!”)

During the first few “mail runs” I kept watch from the garden; now I just let her do it on her own. It’s a quiet street where cars are few and drivers are careful. Ingrid walks very carefully along the side of the street, looks to both sides when crossing, and shows a great sense of responsibility altogether – far more so than when we’re out walking together.

During weekends we’ve been to the circus (twice) and to the swimming pool (twice). Now that the school term has started, various organized activities are also starting up, including our Estonian playgroup. We’ve tried to find some more organized activities for her, since her hours at nursery will be shorter during our parental leave – now she’s there about 8 hours a day, but she’s only allowed 6 when one parent is staying at home. I looked for swimming lessons, but there weren’t any groups that took children under 5. Eric and Ingrid tried out “family judo” but she didn’t like that.

Today we tried out a dance group, since Ingrid has been talking a lot about dancing recently, and every nice dress is a “dance princess dress”, and her favourite thing by a mile is a pair of purple “dance slippers” with Hello Kitty. Really there was very little dancing involved and a lot running around with music, and some music-related games (Head, shoulders, knees and toes, Follow the leader, Freeze dance etc.) – just right for Ingrid, it seems.

Other minor points:

  • We’re back to using nappies at night, full time. Every time we try to make it without, there’s a puddle in the bed.
  • Ingrid has realized that some mushrooms actually taste good, and will not poke them to the side. I guess all our talk about tasting food before rejecting has not fallen on deaf ears. Still doesn’t eat onions or “leaves” (which covers everything from lettuce to spinach to herbs).
  • Other things she likes: Cake dough. Picking flowers. Opening surprise parcels and packages. Pink clothes. Cuddly blankets.

Some fresh bookmarks from delicious.com