I have been reading the Song of Ice and Fire series recently. About a month ago I caught up with what’s been published, by finishing book 5.

It all started with the HBO series, which was awesome. Halfway through the first season I bought the books, because I wanted more. By squeezing a fat book into a single season of a TV series inevitably things get cut, especially back stories. Also the movie can show you what happens but mostly cannot tell you why the characters do what they do – you cannot hear what’s going on in their heads.

Book one (A Game of Thrones) was a great read – as good as the TV series and then some. Things that had passed too quickly to make sense on the screen, started making sense. People I had mixed up because they looked and sounded too similar and were only occasionally referred to by name, got distinct identities.

Book two (A Clash of Kings) was a good follow-up. Things got more complicated, events had consequences, trouble spread, characters got fleshed out while new characters entered the scene. It wasn’t as powerful as book 1 but that is normal – now that events had been put in motion, they needed time to grow and mature. The book promised great things to come.

Book three (A Storm of Swords, parts 1 and 2) was noticeably weaker. Martin has now spun off so many plot threads that he cannot even keep them all aloft at the same time: book 3 is split into two volumes, each of which follows half of the crowd. So much is going on that I lose track of things. After the build-up of book two, I wanted this one to up the pace again, but it didn’t happen.

Book four (A Feast for Crows) is more of the same. The progress is so slow that I literally don’t even notice that one plot thread, which had initially seemed to be a most essential one, is not even included in this book.

Book five (A Dance of Dragons) is even worse. All the pieces are in motion, heading for something or someplace, but no one ever actually arrives anywhere. They travel, they dither, their plot threads are temporarily suspended… Instead new people are introduced, and unlike the old ones I do not feel any connection to these newcomers, and cannot bring myself to care much about them. Give me the Starks, not some psychopathic torturer of a lordling!

While I was riveted at first, I gradually became less and less enamoured of the series. I won’t buy the next book until the series has been completed, so that I can know that there is an actual ending and a resolution to look forward to. It is as if Martin himself has lost his passion. It is just a job at this point. The language becomes repetitive, the events uninteresting.

Apart from the sprawling muchness of it all, there thing that really annoys me is the seeming lack of master plan. Events and circumstances that seem really portentous later appear to have no particular meaning. Hints of a grand structure vanish into nothing. For example, there are the five plus one direwolves for the five plus one Starks – and then one is killed already in book 1. It is presented so as to sound important, that one of the Stark children now does not have her wolf, and during all the following books I am kept waiting to see why it matters… and it seems it doesn’t.

Events happen randomly. Out of nowhere, magic appears, when Martin needs it to solve a problem. Out of nowhere, characters that had until then seemed central to the story, get killed off. Out of nowhere, some characters get brought back to life. And literally brought back to life, not just “oh he looked dead but had simply fainted”. By now I don’t take any death seriously because I know that Martin could change his mind at any time.

Oh, and I am by now also really annoyed by the recurring soulless listings of what people wear and what heraldic devices they have on their shields and banners.

The childless me, from before kids, could probably have imagined having lunch in an Oriental restaurant with two kids, 6 and 2 years old.

I would probably have been able to picture the six-year-old being bored, sliding from the chair down to the floor and climbing back up, then folding the wrapping paper from around the chopsticks into an accordion shape, then pretending to shoot all the villains and the dragons in the picture on the wall, and all the while asking “when will the food come” again and again.

But I don’t think I’d have imagined myself nursing the two-year-old.

Who, by the way, is dressed in pyjamas (because that’s what he wanted to wear this day).

In a green dinosaur-themed pyjama top combined with pastel pink pyjama bottoms with flowers.

Some interesting weather seems to be heading our way.

… and two women. (In reality there are a few more women in our office but on this day they must have been camouflaged.)

Compared to last month, the flood of inte! (“not!”) has abated somewhat, although we still hear it quite a lot. Adrian can say Inte äta pannkakor! Jaaa! Pannkakor! in one breath. (“Not eat pancakes! YES! Pancakes!”). It seems like a reflex.

But in general he definitely is more positively disposed towards the word. He has learned to both nod and say Jaa! to agree with things. But he doesn’t always remember that option, so generally I interpret silence as assent, and I am usually right.

He can also say tycka om det (“[I] like this”) and uses it widely, for example tycka om det banan and tycka om det tiss (about bananas and boobs) and about Pippi, favourite books etc.

He constructs more complex sentences now, with more component parts. Jag vill inte äta, and också gå ut. In particular he’s learned to make sentences that describe what he is doing: jag sitter här, jag klättrar här, etc. He also comments on what others do: Ingrid ledsen (“Ingrid sad”) or pappa bakar (“pappa is baking”, when he felt the smell of freshly baked bread in the house) or tädi jookseb.

He asks questions. Probably the most common one is nonu gör?, “man doing?” (mixing Estonian and Swedish) which means “what is that man doing?”. Another frequent one is var är emme?, “where is emme?”. That one has now also developed into a primitive hide-and-seek: he crawls under the kitchen table and suggests that I ask “where is Adrian?”. I do that a few times and then he bursts out, här är Adrian!

He makes jokes. He points at my breast and tells me he will eat it; he points at a glass/my skirt/a fork/a pen and says “sandwich!” and laughs. He likes me to make the same kind of jokes – to call things with the wrong name, to joke about eating obviously non-edible things.

Speaking of eating, he has had some major eating phases this month, putting away 6 potatoes for dinner, or 4 large pancakes – more than what Ingrid eats. As usual, his appetite waxes and wanes, and some days he eats close to nothing. His is still quite conservative when it comes to food and will especially not touch any unknown vegetables, or any food where things are mixed together, such as casseroles or soups (apart from porridge). Although there was one week when he tested a fruit smoothie, and some soup, and a piece of roasted parsnip, and a bit of persimmon. There is hope for him yet, I guess.

Adrian is still very fond of music and often asks me or Eric to sing for him. He himself sings, too, and knows large chunks of many songs by heart – and sings them clearly enough that I can recognize the melody. He has definite favourites and often asks for specific songs – and vice versa, often asks me to skip other songs that I try to sing for him. All the Pippi songs are his absolute favourites: above all the main Pippi theme song but also Mors lilla lathund and Sjörövar-Fabbe. That last one we have on a CD, and that song has been playing for what feels like hours every day recently. Nevertheless the Pippi theme song is best of them all. He asks for it when he is bored, he asks for it when I change his nappy, he asks for it as a lullaby.

Because of Pippi he also likes pirates (because in one movie Pippi goes on a trip to rescue her father from pirates). Anything with a skull he calls a pirate (such as other kids’ socks and rubber boots). Likewise any man with a bushy beard is a pirate, such as the guy on the Turkish yogurt pots (who, by the way, is in fact a Greek).

Another favourite song is “Tingelingelinge tåget far”. This is a song where, at a specific place, you insert the name of a person – usually when singing for a child you use the child’s name. We (meaning I) sing it in endless variations: for each family member, for Adrian’s friends and for Ingrid’s friends, and so on. He also likes “Trollmor”, “Gumman i lådan”, “Jag hamrar och spikar”, “Lille katt” and many others.

He likes “bouncing” songs that involve me bouncing him on my knees – “Sõit, sõit linna” and “Prästens lilla kråka”. Ingrid has also rediscovered the joy of these songs and sometimes I end up bouncing both on my knees at the same time.

As for toys, he plays with the Brio train set quite often. He doesn’t usually build any tracks himself but will happily push his trains along when someone else puts down the tracks. But he can also play with the trains and other pieces on their own, without any tracks.

And sometimes he takes the two large crates of trains, tracks and accessories, happily exclaims jättemycket! (“a lot!”) and pours it all out on the floor. He seems to get some special sort of satisfaction out of that, and has tried the same with my sewing stuff (both my dressmakers’ pins, and my box of spare buttons).

He also plays with toy food, especially while I am preparing dinner, and often offers me food that he has “cooked”. Sometimes he offers me an empty pot, or even an empty hand, and says it’s sweetcorn (or whatever) – he can pretend that nothing is something, which I think is pretty advanced.

He can cut with scissors, with some effort. The kids’ scissors we have are a bit stiff so he needs to use both hands to open them, but can then close them using the proper grip. But I have to hold whatever he is cutting, because he can’t manage both. First he cut some ribbon, then he cut some paper; then he went around and wanted to cut just about everything (his trousers, a door handle, my thimble, and so on). So he only gets to use scissors under very close supervision.

He likes trains, and train rides to town. I don’t know which part he really likes most – the physical train or the fact that we’re taking the train. Or both. In any case he is really happy when we say we’re going on the train, and ecstatically shouts out “TRAIN!” when the train arrives at the platform.

Adrian’s monthly post will have to wait until tomorrow, because the object of said post is still awake and showing no signs of wanting to go to bed, at 10 pm. Instead he is sitting on my knee, making funny noises, poking at my boobs, and voicing opinions about what I should be doing on my computer instead of typing (looking at a Pippi movie, or at pictures of him or Eric or dolphins).

An ordinary month with mostly smooth sailing.

School fills most of Ingrid’s day, and still I don’t really know what they do all day. I know that in “language play” they have advanced from rhymes and rhyming to sentences, and in math play they now work with shapes.

In her Estonian lessons I know she is working on vocabulary (because I notice it improving), and writing and spelling. She gets actual homework from those lessons so I get to be a part of the process. We work especially on long and short sounds (which work differently in Estonian and Swedish) and on the O, U, Ü sounds where the spelling differs most from Swedish – those same three sounds would be spelt Å, O, U in Swedish. Her handwriting is also improving a lot, with the letters much more even in size.

After school she rarely wants to go home. School has friends. Home is boring. I pick her up at around 4:30 not because that’s the earliest I can get there, but because that’s the earliest I have a chance of getting her to come home with me. At home after school she often defaults to watching a movie or playing on the iPad, but recently I have asked her to wait with those activities after dinner so we get at least some time together. And once she starts playing, she happily goes on doing it, even after dinner – it’s just a matter of not taking the easy option when we first get home.

Before dinner she mostly plays with Adrian, which usually means some sort of general fooling around, often repeating old games, or trying to teach Adrian some silliness (silly noises, silly faces, crawling under my skirt, etc).

Ingrid enjoys Adrian’s company and told me that she’d like to marry him – “but I won’t because then we would have children who are not healthy”. She tells me she is in love with three people now: Anton who she will marry, Elin who is her best friend, and Adrian. She helps him with his clothes when we get home; she sings for him when he is upset; she keeps him company.

After dinner she likes to play games with me or Eric. Reversi, a simple version of war, Chinese checkers etc.

She also reads. Now it’s not only Bamse but also more and more actual books. While she prefers to listen to me read, she will read herself when I am busy with other things. I’ve been bringing home books from the library for her – Helena Bross’s books in the “easy to read” series seem to work quite well. Bamse might be losing some of its charm: she no longer spends all of her weekly allowance on old Bamse issues, within hours of getting the money.

She’s also played quite a lot with the Brio train set that she and Adrian got for her birthday. She builds long snaking tracks and usually wants to include all the special features: the bridge, the tunnel, the station, the ferry, the branchings and so on. She loves the battery-powered train engines, and especially the ambulance train. She also likes making the trains collide both heads-on and where two branches of the track come together.

She sings nonsense songs that she and her friends at school make up and then make more and more elaborate, with clapping, movements, variations etc. The songs usually consist of catchy-sounding snippets of other songs: “a rikki tikki taa taa” and then some “bom chicka bom chicka bom bom bom”, and then perhaps a snatch of “I’m singing in the rain”.

At the end of last month she stopped sucking her thumb at bedtime. And that was that. She still sleeps with a glove on her right hand, out of habit I think. In the middle of the night (when we take her to the toilet) I occasionally notice the thumb starting to move towards the mouth but it stops before it gets there.

She likes me to rub her back or her tummy at bedtime, because it helps her calm down and go to sleep.

Her favourite colours nowadays are pink and turquoise, not fuchsia (“lilarosa”) or purple.

She now sometimes wears skirts and tops again, after a long period of only wearing dresses almost all the time.

Here’s what we have had hanging on our front door, as decorations: a selection of Ingrid’s beading projects from preschool, hung up on pieces of string.

This is also a summary of how Ingrid’s taste in decoration has developed in sophistication over the last couple of years.

The oldest works here are the random ones, where Ingrid has just filled the shape with breads of pretty colours.

The next phase was the striped shapes, and those with alternating colours.

Then came the more complex geometrical patterns.

She has consistently preferred geometrical shapes. In her years of beading she’s done a single figurative design (the black face) and never picked a non-geometrical shape – the bunny rabbit was a gift from her friend Elin.



Office toilets are weird.

I’m OK with the toilets in my home. I know the bottoms that sit on them, and have seen them all naked countless times.

I’m OK with public toilets, too. They are so impersonal that I never think of the other people who sit on them. Those people are distant, they leave no trace of personality behind. It is as if they were never there, especially if the toilet is not busy and I never see whoever else was there before me.

But it feels strange to share a toilet with people that I kind of know, but not really: office toilets, toilets at friends’ homes, etc. Suddenly I am strongly reminded that other people have used that toilet. That those other people have bottoms, and that they pull their pants down, and then sit where I sat. Which is not the kind of thoughts that I normally have about my bosses, colleagues and neighbours.

It is interesting that we have become so far removed from our animal backgrounds that I can actually forget that other people have bodies and bodily functions, too – and feel weirded out when I’m reminded of them.