Our bird feeder continues to feed (birds) and entertain (us). This year the sparrows and nuthatches have been few, and I don’t think I’ve seen a single siskin. The magpies dominated during the early part of the season but are now rare. The Great Tits and Blue Tits are there, as always. The Great Spotted Woodpecker has been here a bit more frequently than last year, and occasionally we get visits from squirrels, too. Their climbing ability, seen up close like this, is awesome.

It seems we’re mostly feeding blackbirds this year. They were just a couple last year, but this year there are at least five. I wonder if last year’s continuous food supply led more of them to decide to spend this winter here and not migrate to warmer climes. They are still struggling to hold on to the feeder. At least one of them is somewhat more confident about its acrobatic abilities, and flies up and hangs on while flapping wildly. The others tend to feed on what falls on the ground instead. Often the snow is completely covered in their footprints.

They seem to be quite dependent on our feeder. Often several blackbirds are hanging around the feeder already before dawn. When I go out to fill up their food, sometimes they don’t even bother to flee, and once I had to shoo one of them away from the feeder to be able to open it.

By far the most frequently used word in Adrian’s vocabulary right now is min, “mine”. Everything is “mine!” and there is a constant stream of min emme!, min tallrik!, min skor!, min vagn!. Sometimes we make a game of it – he goes min emme! and Ingrid says min emme! and he says min emme! once more and then I go min Adrian! and Ingrid says min pappa! and so on. Or maybe it turns into min fot! and min lampa! and mitt träd! until anything and everything is ours.

It is partly a game, partly a habit, but partly also a manifestation of his intense possessive jealousy right now. When he says min stol! he means it, and will not let Ingrid touch his chair. He tries to push away Ingrid’s hand when she holds on to the stroller while we walk home from school; he won’t let Ingrid use the same glass as he.

He is mostly jealous towards Ingrid, and probably all the kids at nursery. Not towards me, but I suspect that is because I fall in the category of “possessions” rather than “competitors”. He sometimes doesn’t want to allow Ingrid to sit next to me, because I am min mamma!

There also seems to be a streak of actual anxiety about separation and strangers. The proclamations of min mamma are most frequent when we are with people he doesn’t know well. When we go to pick up Ingrid at school, he doesn’t really want to walk in through the door, and when he does, he hugs my leg, hides his face, and says min mamma! to anybody who comes close or even looks in his direction. He does the same when some friendly stranger on the train starts talking to him, or a neighbour says hi to me. A few months ago he would have gladly said hi to them all and then shown off some bag or toy or something.

It’s not just me he wants to keep close. He gets anxious when the family is out walking together and one of us falls behind or gets too far ahead. When we’re all home and suddenly he cannot see Eric, Adrian asks where he is. The one day when I took him to nursery in the morning and we did NOT have Ingrid with us, he checked several times, var är Ingrid? and I kept telling him that Ingrid is at home. He is in a herd phase and, like a good sheep dog, he wants to keep the herd together. (I remember Ingrid doing the same at about the same age I believe, but with more tears. Maybe those are yet to come.)

Adrian likes:

  • Helmets. A few weeks ago, just before the onset of real winter weather, we bought a new bike helmet for Ingrid, because she outgrew the old one. At first he wouldn’t let her have it but when we gave him her old helmet he wore it every day. Not while riding a bike, because he doesn’t have one, but while sitting in the stroller on the way to nursery. Luckily winter came and he no longer saw Ingrid wear her helmet and we could hide the helmets so he forgot about them.
  • Routine. Things should be done the same way they always are. He likes taking the same route to nursery every day, and in the afternoon going to the supermarket and then to Ingrid’s school.
  • Music and singing. It is often he and not Ingrid walking up to the CD player and asking for some music. He sings for himself when he sits in the stroller, or when he is playing with some toy. He always sings a recognizable melody and sometimes does several verses. Currently it’s mostly Christmas songs. And we actually don’t sing the Pippi song constantly any more.
  • Everything Christmas-themed. He points out all the Santas and elves and Christmas trees and Christmas lights and advent displays and St. Lucy figures he sees.
  • Monsters and growling. His favourite clothes is his tiger suit, and his favourite socks are the ones with small monsters on. He likes to pretend he’s a tiger and roar and growl and show us his claws. And then the tiger becomes a lion, här kommer lejonet, roar!, and then a giraffe, roar!, and then a zebra, roar! and then här kommer Sankta Lucia, roar!. Everything roars.
  • Playing with toy food and our toy stove. Sometimes he cooks on his own, but he also likes cooking for me. He often serves me food that he himself wouldn’t eat for real, such as broccoli, soup, and cheese sandwiches.
  • Playing with dress-up toys, where he can choose clothes and accessories for a magnetic doll figure for example. He often ends up creating wild combinations with two pairs of trousers on the doll, shoes on her hands and a flower pot on her head.
  • Doing everything that Ingrid does. That ranges from “shallalooba” to drinking with a straw and reading Bamse.
  • Feeding the birds and especially the squirrels. A few weeks ago we saw a squirrel visit our bird feeder and he was very excited by that. Since then when I go out to fill up the feeder, he comes with me to “feed the squirrel”.
  • Gingerbread cookies and raisins, but not saffron buns. Those he just tears into small pieces, looking for any hidden raisins.

Adrian has learned:

  • The letter A for Adrian.
  • How to say that we do one thing after another. He simplifies “first X, then Y” to “then X, then Y” but has definitely grasped the concept.

He is learning:

  • How the telephone works. He knows that Eric’s voice can come out of the phone and understands that it is indeed Eric speaking, and finds it quite fascinating.
  • Dressing and undressing himself. He could pull zippers up and down last month already (except for the end bit) but now he also practises taking off his socks, top and trousers, and sometimes tries putting them on as well. With trousers he actually has some occasional halfway successes. He can put his hat on (but usually ends up with an ear flap in his face) and his boots as well.

Other small stuff:

  • He calls small dogs “dog” and large dogs “wolf”. Large in this case is any dog whose back reaches to my knee or thereabouts.
  • I notice him talking about things that have happened a lot more than he used to. He mentions things that have happened earlier and seems to be thinking more about such things, remembering more.
  • He actually says thank you when given things.
  • He is totally not a vegetarian. Several mornings he has chosen to eat fish fingers for breakfast. When he gets to choose lunch, he chooses meatballs or fish fingers.
  • Often he eats more than Ingrid. Ingrid is distracted at mealtimes; he shovels in the food with both hands and barely pauses to breathe. For breakfast he can eat a whole portion of porridge made from half a cup of oatmeal.
  • When there is an L or R sound before another consonant, he swaps them around. “Korv” becomes “kovr”, he drops things “på govlet”, the food is “küml”, the time is “tovl”, and the Skalman figure on his toothpaste tube is “Kamlan”.

Sometimes she seems like such a big girl, and at other times she is still so young and innocent. Her top idea of “fun” right now is the shallalooba game, which means getting naked and then wiggling her bottom at me (or whoever else is there) while shouting “shallalooba!”, accompanied by uncontrollable giggling.

Otherwise much of the past month has been focused on waiting for Christmas: the advent calendar, and the Christmas show they had at school, and of course Christmas itself. For at least two weeks up until the 1st of December she was talking about the advent calendar, worrying whether I would get it ready in time, asking if I could wrap the presents already, then inspecting the calendar and looking at the shapes of the different gifts.

I think the calendar (and Christmas Eve as well) are so important to her because she loves surprises. The important thing is not the gift, nor the act of giving and receiving, but the surprise. Anything gets better when wrapped in a surprise – and there is nothing that makes her as sad as a surprise revealed. This goes for dinner , for everyday things that I buy for her, goodnight stories, etc. Nowadays I never tell her in advance what I’m cooking, and instead let her lift the lid and uncover the surprise. And when I buy new socks for her, I do not say to her, “I bought some socks for you, here they are”. Instead I say that I bought her something today, or let her see the bag. Then we wait until we get home, and then she gets to open the bag.

The Christmas show was sort of the opposite – a surprise that she wanted to prepare for us. We knew about the show itself, of course, but she would not sing any of the songs for me in advance, even though they practiced them a lot at school. When she happened to hum a snatch of a Christmas song, she sometimes tried to cover it up and pretend she didn’t. Then she made sure to tell me that this was not all of it, and they will sing more of it during the show. In the end I got her to understand that the actual songs didn’t need to be surprises: it is OK to know what songs will be sung, it is the performance that matters. I think it was a bit of a relief for her when the show was over.

She actually had to stay home from school the day before the show, because she was knocked out by a fever. The day of the show she was still at home but feeling well enough that we went to school for the show itself, which was at 3pm. There was lots of singing and a bit of reciting of poems. Ingrid is, frankly, not much of a singer – she either doesn’t pay attention to or cannot really hear the details of the melody. She gets the lyrics right but sometimes sings them to some random tune. But her reciting stood out (to me at least) because unlike most kids her age, she speaks loudly and clearly and doesn’t rush, even when she is a bit nervous.

At home life is mostly unexciting. She plays with Adrian, watches movies and YouTube clips (quite a lot of Pingu recently), reads books and Bamse comics. She doesn’t ever play on her own.

Most of the time she is really patient with Adrian. She holds his hand when walking down slippery icy stairs; sings to him when he is upset; helps him get his clothes off when we get home. Other times she seems to enjoy winding him up and goading him with small things: repeatedly putting her foot on his chair even when he pushes it away again and again, etc.

Ingrid is a fast reader now and doesn’t even move her mouth while reading. She easily reads books of 30-40 pages, as long as each page is no more than a few paragraphs and has pictures. She does not like books without pictures. Even with books that she can and does read herself, she likes me to read them for her afterwards. Usually she reads each book once and then loses interest – she wants the surprise, again. I try to make a trip to the library every week or two.

On a few occasions I borrowed books for beginner readers, “Lätt att läsa”, but those were aimed at older readers and often dealt with topics she was less interested in (school, kids falling out and becoming friends again, etc). Now I choose kids’ books, with more fanciful stories and more adventure in them. These are really meant to be read aloud so they are longer and have more text on each page, but that’s not much of an obstacle for her, and she enjoys them much more.

I don’t think she’s been playing many iPad games recently. Perhaps because she has tired of the games we have – maybe it’s time to find some new ones. She did try Drop 7 one day when she saw me play it, and actually understood the game mechanics. When I last showed it to her, maybe a year ago, she didn’t get it at all.

Another game that she has learned is Yatzy. Yatzy and War (the card game) are her favourite games right now. War is totally luck-based but she still seems to enjoy it (and while this puzzles my adult self, I remember doing it myself when I was a kid). Yatzy is great maths practice, at just the right level for her: adding up numbers 1 to 6, up to 30. She has understood the concept and the purpose of grouping the points by fives and tens, to make the adding up easier.

First we made lussebullar, saffron buns. We started off making those mainstream S-shaped buns (kuse) but quickly got bored with those and switched to making B-shaped buns (lussekatt), crossed S’s (julvagn) and other such traditional shapes. (The internets seem to have only one decent image of those shapes.) Then we got tired of those as well and branched out into more creative shapes: twists and braids and spirals of twists… and palm trees and swans and snails. And then we poked in lots of raisins in them all.

Later we baked gingerbread cookies. We have dozens of cookie cutters of all kinds of shapes, so the cookies ended up quite varied. Every year I start off making different kinds of cookies but then end up making mostly Christmas trees, hearts and pigs. They offer the best combination of efficient dough use (not much scrap dough left over between them), easy handling (unlike the reindeer and men with their long fiddly legs that break off), Christmas-themed imagery, and a good shape for later decorating.

Ingrid was making buns and cookies like a pro this year: rolling, kneading, shaping, decorating… Adrian liked playing with the bun dough and adding the raisins (and eating the raisins). Otherwise he wasn’t very interested.

Adrian has chickenpox. Luckily it doesn’t seem to affect him much – he is feeling more bored than ill. At least now… I see I said the same thing when Ingrid fell ill with chickenpox, and then a day later she was as miserable as she had ever been.

And Ingrid is also at home, keeping us company, with a fever. It feels quite weird – she is so rarely ill nowadays.

Yesterday I learned what light pillars are and how they arise. According to the news, these could be seen in several areas in northern Stockholm yesterday – and, luckily for us, also from our living room window. Quite cool, and pretty as well. I only managed to catch the brightest ones in the photo but in reality we saw several more. They came and went, brighter and weaker, as the air moved.

(It may seem from the photo as if the pillars are above the street light, but that’s just because they were in the same direction – in reality they were much farther away, above some unknown light source.)

Tuesday: rain, +5
Wednesday: rain gradually turning into sleet, 0
Thursday: snow, -2
Friday: snow, -2
Saturday: clear, -5
Sunday: clear, -13