Adrian has discovered face painting. He likes being painted, and he likes to paint. Sometimes Adrian and Ingrid paint each other. Ingrid paints flowers, strawberries, hearts, or just colours that Adrian chooses. Adrian also very kindly asks which colours Ingrid or I want, and then applies them with great care, concentration and tenderness.

Yes, I am wearing the same fleece jacket as in my previous self-portrait, AND the one before that. I do own other clothes, and even other fleece jackets, but this one is a favourite.

The pansies I planted in April? They got eaten by deer.


I am seriously annoyed. They don’t just nibble at the flowers, either – when the deer come, they eat every blossom bigger than the tip of my thumb. The destruction they leave behind may be small in size but it still looks quite depressing afterwards.

On the plus side, deer apparently do not eat French marigolds (tagetes), garden cosmos, or petunias, so my plantings behind the house have been left in peace.

So much is going on in Adrian’s life. His life is full, and he is full of life. So much energy, so much feeling! He is childhood embodied.

This month brought warm weather and Adrian has really enjoyed spring. We’ve been out on playgrounds, tried cycling, and even the inflatable pool has been in use. On playgrounds Adrian loves swings best and he can swing (or rather, have me push the swing) for half an hour before he tires.

It took a while for him to get used to spring weather and new clothes. He insisted on wearing his rubber boots with warm lining, and the “furry” jacket, and taking his mittens to nursery every day. Gradually he came to accept normal shoes and fleece jackets instead, but he’s still a bit suspicious of his Crocs shoes.

Even now he loves wearing a jersey hat, sometimes even indoors. He doesn’t like wind in his hair, he says, and when it gets windy he always puts on a hat. Also he never goes out without shoes, even though he loves being barefoot indoors.

Ingrid’s old tank tops were instant favourites. Not because they were tank tops but because he loved the pictures: a tiger on one, an elephant on the other. The novelty of no sleeves is so great that he points it out to people he meets – inga armar!

Adrian is usually happy to be around strangers but crowds make him uncomfortable. When we went to the Valborg bonfire, he was really bothered by the masses of people, and asked to go home. Det är jättemycket barn. Och mycket tädi och mycket onu. Jag vill inte vara här. (“There is very much kids. And much woman and much man. I don’t want to be here.”) The bonfire itself was scary, too.

He is also afraid of animals, especially if they are running loose and he thinks that they could come close. He doesn’t want to visit his best friend Hanna because they have cats. He pulls back when he sees a dog, and ideally wants to go to the other side of the street. I’ve been explaining to him how the dog is tied to a leash and cannot come closer. One day we saw a hare, and even though it was in a garden across the street Adrian closed his eyes and wouldn’t look.

Cuddly furry animals are scary, and he would never go pet one. But chickens, for example, are less scary than guinea pigs. And tortoises are not too scary at all, and a crocodile (a small one, and behind glass) was more interesting than scary, as we found out at this year’s Djurexpo.

Language-wise he has obviously decided that Swedish is his language. He understands Estonian perfectly well, and knows the names of many things in both languages. But when he speaks, he always chooses Swedish, and only uses an Estonian word when he cannot remember the Swedish one.

He is learning about similarity and groupings, and I often hear him use words like “same”, “similar”, “together”, “only”. He is also interested in amounts, especially jättemycket! and supermycket!. When we pour a drink for him he often asks for supermycket, which I think means that he wants a full glass, not half like I usually pour for him.

He has entered a “can do” phase. He wants to do things on his own without any help. When he drops a grape on the floor, instead of asking me to pick it up (as he used to) he now says Bara jag ska hämta!, “Only I will get it”, sometimes explicitly instructing me not to touch it. I am also not allowed to help him put on his sandals or hat, or to set the table for him, and sometimes even to open my nursing t-shirt for him.

I have made some attempts at getting him to use the potty but had no success. He knows what it’s for and he is perfectly aware that we all do our thing at the toilet. But he has no interest in trying it out himself. When I get him to sit on the potty he produces nothing, and then he gets up and less than a minute later makes a puddle on the floor.

He is aware of his own peeing and pooping, and often tells us afterwards that he needs a clean nappy, but it still seems to take him by surprise every time and he doesn’t seem to have any “premonition” in advance.

He still needs a nap during the day, almost always, but then often stays awake quite late, falling asleep around 9 together with Ingrid. It isn’t rare for Ingrid to fall asleep before him.

He still nurses about as much as he used to: when we wake, when we get home in the afternoon, frequently during the evening, at bedtime, and once or twice during the small hours.

Odds and ends:

  • When he is happy, he often runs with his tongue out. So when he falls, the part that feels most discomfort is his tongue, which is then all covered with sand. He then tries to wipe it off with his hand which is also sandy, and doesn’t understand why it gets no better.
  • Even when he is upset, angry or sad, he still says thank you. He can be fighting with Ingrid about a toy, crying with frustration, and when Ingrid gives it to him, he chokes out a “thank you” through his tears.
  • He watched Rise of the Guardians with Ingrid and Eric and is now looking forward to Christmas. Idag är det jul! Nu kommer jultomten! – “Today is Christmas! Now Santa Claus will come” he says. My explanations about seasons, and having to wait for winter and snow, don’t really make sense to him. He still doesn’t quite understand “tomorrow” so the wait until winter is an unimaginable eternity.


Pippi Longstocking is Adrian’s favourite character, and Ingrid loves many of Astrid Lindgren’s stories, too. So yesterday we went to Astrid Lindgren’s World, a Lindgren theme park, together with another family.

Most of the park consisted of recreations of environments from the books. There was Pippi’s house of course (and a pirate ship next to it), as well as copies of Bullerby, Mattis’s fort, Thorn Rose Valley, and so on. Most things were scaled down to child size, with small houses, narrow streets, even scaled-down cobblestones.

I found the park itself a bit underwhelming. Many of the environments were just façades: the doors and windows couldn’t be opened. In others you could go inside but there was hardly anything there, just bare walls and a bare floor. Cute to look at from afar but there wasn’t much to actually do there.

Mattis’s fort was at least large enough so we could walk around on the walls and climb up and down in the towers, and Karlsson’s roof had some slides. There were also some other bits and pieces where the kids could climb, including a large “don’t touch the ground” trail that Ingrid enjoyed a lot.

There were performances throughout the day, and we saw two of them: one Pippi show, and one sing-along show. The actors also sang and performed between the main shows. I think Pippi and her crew were out and interacting with the crowd almost all day.

Ingrid loved hanging out around the Pippi house with Pippi and her sailors and pirates. She’s now independent enough that we could just sit at a café nearby while she wandered around. Apart from the shows, her favourite attraction was a little knee-deep pond with two cable ferries. She kept going back and forth across the pond, on her own, with Adrian, with random other kids, for around half an hour I think, and only quit after she accidentally stepped into the pond and got rather wet.

Adrian just enjoyed hanging around the park with Ingrid and his friend Hanna, and looking at stuff.

The park was extremely family-friendly. There were picnic tables, toilets, cafés and restaurants everywhere. At times it felt like there were more cafés than attractions there. But it was very convenient, with almost no queueing anywhere. The restaurants served locally sourced food, and it was real food, with no hot dogs or hamburgers in sight. But expensive… 75 kr for a kids’ portion of meatballs and two potatoes is a bit extreme.

We were lucky to be at ALV on a Friday during the off season. The park wasn’t empty but not too crowded either. As we drove past this morning we saw many more people heading that way so avoiding the weekend was a good thing. I can imagine that it could get awfully busy there during the main season which starts in early June. On the other hand it is probably also more fun then, with many more shows during the day, and more characters from the books just walking around in the park.

I don’t think we’ll be going back there next year. Maybe in a few years’ time, when Adrian is as old as Ingrid is now. And in that case probably at the very beginning or end of the high season, so we catch more of the action but (hopefully) not much more of the crowds.

A new kind of independence is developing in Ingrid: she has started experimenting with being completely on her own. It began with an afternoon at the playground, after school. Adrian wanted to stay; Ingrid wanted to go home. I handed my keys to Ingrid and she went on home on her own.

This took me by surprise, because when she last tried being home alone, she didn’t hold out many minutes. Now she was totally cool with it.

So we did it a couple more times. Sometimes she’s gone home from the playground to pick up some stuff. Once I did the opposite and left her at the playground with Adrian while I went back home to pick up something. Sometimes she’s gone to a friend’s place to ask if they can play. A few times she has just gone out to ride her kickbike or skateboard on her own for a while.

She likes staying up late, usually reading. She can usually still get up the next morning, but by the afternoon the lack of sleep catches up with her and she is tired and whiny. So now I try to send her off to bed by 9 at the latest. But sometimes no arguments work, not even the threat of missing the bedtime story (because after 9 we are usually both so tired that I don’t want to tell a story).

When we do have time for a story, she often asks for something that has things (inanimate objects) that come to life and can talk: toys, or the inhabitants of the kitchen, or the numbers one to nine. And preferrably their talking should be arguments about which one of them is the best. A reflection of her daily reality at school perhaps.

Sleeping is just so utterly boring, it seems. “Who came up with the idea of sleeping, anyway?” she asked today. “And why do we have to eat? And poop?” Not really wondering, but just expressing her frustration with these stupid wastes of time.

At mealtimes, too, it is clear that she would rather not have to eat. Whenever she is snacking, she will bring some Bamse magazines to read. At the dinner table she often forgets that she is supposed to be eating, and plays or talks instead, and we remind her to eat. Sometimes she gets bored with eating and leaves the table before she is full, and then realizes an hour later that she is actually still hungry.

At home this isn’t much of an issue, but at school it causes more problems. Their lunch break is short, and she is basically so distracted at mealtimes that she doesn’t have time to eat. And then the break ends and she wolfs down the food that is still on her plate.

For a long time Ingrid had been complaining of stomach aches, off and on, especially after school lunches. But she wasn’t very consistent in reporting them, so it took months for us to figure out the pattern. Finally we realized that the aches usually came when she had had to eat too fast. Now she moved to another table at school, closer to the teachers who can remind her to actually eat. And I don’t think she’s had any stomach aches since then.


  • She is letting her hair grow long and it is now often in her face. This seems to bother her more than me. She doesn’t like hair clips, but will accept soft hair bands.
  • She likes playing with words, especially names, and turning them backwards.
  • Favourite game: vändtia (which seems to correspond to the English Shithead – I’m glad it’s not called that in Swedish!)

We’ve gone from winter to summer in less than a month. Dandelions, daffodils, cherry trees and the first lawn daisies all blooming at the same time as the last scillas and anemones. Weird. I feel like I have been cheated out of a spring.

During winter, when there isn’t much to be done in the garden, I spend more time on crafts. Last winter season I made an advent calendar in felt and started knitting a cardigan. The cardigan is still not done, because during this winter season I focused more on interior decorating. Time to finally make some curtains for this house!

We have nine sets of windows that “need” curtains. (I don’t think the storage closet needs any, and the glass wall in the living room is not going to get curtains either.) The bathroom window already had one, which leaves eight. I managed to sew curtains for four of them, so I’m halfway there. Perhaps next winter I will get the rest done.

The “office” was first in line because I wanted to be able to get rid of the glare on our computer screens. Thick, lined, but otherwise un-fancy curtains in a fabric that matches the art nouveau and early-1900s inspiration I’ve generally been following in this house: Sandberg’s Lily of the Valley.

The curtains for our bedroom are similar in style and construction. If your memory is really sharp, you may recognize the fabric: this is the curtain I made for the balcony door back in 2008. Back then I expected it to hang there for the next 15 or 20 years. The door itself only survived for less than three more years, but the curtain got a second life. I removed the tabs at the top, made a twin for it, and now it hangs in our bedroom. I am hesitant to make another prediction about its expected life, but I hope it will be long. The fabric: Sandberg’s Louise.

Actually, the twin is not quite a twin. Or maybe it’s a fraternal twin. The new fabric I ordered did not quite match the old one: one is more beige and the other is more gray. Maybe the old one changed colour in the sun? Maybe in a couple of years they will be indistinguishable. But during the day the curtains are apart, and at night nobody looks at them, so the mismatch doesn’t bother me at all.

The curtains in Ingrid’s bedroom are of a very different style… We looked at photos of curtains online and Ingrid had a very clear idea about what hers should look like. Patterned, but with a small pattern, “like maybe hearts or rings”. Ideally violet or lilac or something like that, or maybe blue. And tied back with nice bows, and with a valance. It took a while to find the fabric because this is not exactly in line with current decorating trends, but Ingrid was very happy with the result. She likes to untie the bows for the night.

And finally, some cushions. We had a set of three old cushions in dark green linen that I sewed in 1997 when I moved in with Eric, and they were really at the end of their life. There were actual holes in the fabric. These new ones are in dark brown wool felt, decorated with fabric in traditional Estonian patterns. My working name for the set is “Rebel yellow”. One of them I made after Ingrid’s wishes – can you guess which one?

PS: If you can’t make the numbers add up – office + bedroom + Ingrid’s room equals three, not four, right? – it’s because the office has two large windows which I count as two, not one.

The oddest things turn out to have 3-year age limits because they are “choking hazards due to small parts”:

I have never hesitated about letting Adrian play with any of these since before he was even two. To me, these are great toddler toys. And marble runs, too.

Well, I would not give marbles or felt tip pens to 6-month babies who still explore the world with their mouths. But surely two-year-olds are well past that stage? It makes me wonder what sort of kids these safety standards are based on.

And how are these toys even choking hazards? The caps on felt tip pens, yes. But noodle water guns? For them to become a choking risk, the kid would first have to tear off a piece. That’s not going to happen easily in normal play. Does the average toddler behave like a wild animal, attacking everything with their teeth and claws?