This year’s renovation project is the roof. Out go the concrete tiles, to be replaced with clay tiles, continuing on the path of giving the house back more of its original character.

The roofers arrived at around 7 in the morning and worked until around 7 in the evening. They’ve already removed all the old tiles from the main roof (but not yet the laundry room roof) as well as most of the battens, and laid new roofing felt on half of it. For the night, the roof got snugly wrapped in a huge green tarp.



The ultimate crumble recipe still rules supreme. It works not only with rhubarb but also with rhubarb + raspberries, apples, apples + blackberries, plums, and probably any other fruit. (I just finished off the apple and blackberry crumble so I could wash up the pie dish for a plum crumble, which is in the oven now.)

It is easy and fast to prepare. I can make one even when the kids don’t fall asleep until 10 o’clock.

It’s a crumble rather than a pie or a cake, so the fruit is at centre stage and the crumble is there to bring out the best of the fruit.

It is both crunchy and juicy.

It is not sweet. In fact you could almost serve it for breakfast: the crumble part (i.e. not counting the fruit) contains 50g of sugar, or about 15%. Not as good as having oatmeal for breakfast, but on par with most breakfast cereals, and way better than Kellogg’s Frosties.

It has oats and seeds and almonds.

In fact the only thing missing from it, the one thing that could possibly make it better, would be chocolate. But even that would not be an obvious improvement, because it would take attention away from the fruit.

Ingrid has had an activity-filled month.

She still loves swimming and playing in water. I got her a new two-piece swimsuit in June, to make it easier for her to get it on and off, and it already looks like it’s been through some serious abuse. The snorkel and mask we bought have also been in constant use.

Other favourite physical activities include driving (go-carts, electric cars, and pretty much anything else you can imagine) and horseback riding, but also climbing (like those indoor climbing walls, or adventure trails, or just large playground climbing structures) and jumping, such as bouncy castles and trampolines.

All this moving around, much of it outdoors, has made her strong. It’s been a long time since she complained about her legs being tired, which used to be a never-ending complaint in this house.

She’s also quite fearless. Speed, heights, water, you name it: she dares more than many others at her age. At the beach she goes deeper and deeper until the water reaches her chin and she is almost on the tips of her toes, and still she tries to go further. At any playground climbing structure she never stops until she’s at the top. At the adventure park in Tartu she never even seemed to notice the height, or consider being cautious about it. At driving tracks etc she always looks for the fast cars and tries to overtake any other kids.

Meanwhile her helpful, friendly mood continues. She has helped me cook dinner on several occasions. And not just joined me for a few moments and then disappeared when the novelty wore off, but actually helped me cook entire meals.

One evening she decided she wanted mashed potatoes, and it was way past dinnertime. (I can’t remember what happened to her actual dinner.) So she proceeded to make mashed potatoes for herself from scratch, with me only guiding her but not doing any actual work. Well, I did the mashing, because she didn’t have the arm strength. But she took care of all the peeling, boiling, mixing, seasoning, etc.

Then she proceeded to pour ketchup on top of it and mixing it together until the lovely freshly-made mashed potatoes were a red mess… but she loved them nevertheless.

We have given up on letting her go to bed when she is tired, because she just won’t. Instead we now have set a 21:30 deadline for her for getting into bed. In practice she often goes to bed earlier than that, so she can fall asleep together with Adrian. Often she is already asleep shortly after nine o’clock.

She continues to devour Bamse magazines and Kalle Anka Pockets. (Kalle Anka is Donald Duck’s Swedish name.)

She has discovered air hockey.

She still does not see any point in keeping her hair out of her face, and I have to keep reminding her to at least put a headband on while she is eating.

This month’s big news: Adrian speaks Estonian! Half of this past month we spent in Estonia, and it made a huge difference for him.

For the first few days he only spoke to us, in Swedish, and effectively didn’t open his mouth in the company of strangers. Slowly he began to find his words, and then gradually he became more and more comfortable with speaking Estonian. By the end of our two-week stay he had no trouble at all, playing with the other kids in Estonian without me participating at all.

Much of that remained after we got home. He speaks more Estonian than he has ever done. Often he reminds me, cheerfully: Räägin sinuga eesti keelt! – “I’m speaking Estonian with you!” In fact he speaks more Estonian than Ingrid does, and more freely. He doesn’t yet worry about not getting it completely right, unlike Ingrid.

Somehow I was expecting him to begin at zero, as if he was a baby learning Estonian from scratch, speaking in simple sentences of a few words. But of course it was nothing like that – his Estonian is at the same level of maturity as his Swedish. It was all in there and he just needed to let it out.

His Estonian vocabulary is a bit more limited than Swedish, and he struggles with some of the idiosyncrasies of Estonian grammar. But he uses words and grammatical forms that I had no idea he knew. He translated “favorit” (Swedish) to “lemmik” (Estonian) without batting an eye; he is familiar with both the -ma and -da infinitive forms, etc.

During our stay in Estonia Adrian also learned something completely different: to love playing in water. He’s been to the beach with us, and to the paddling pool at our local playground, but always been cautious, always at a distance from the water, never really enjoying the splashing much.

Now he was in there, running around, sitting in the water, digging holes in the sand and mud, carrying water in buckets and pouring it around – you name it. And happy about it!

In other news, Adrian has tried eating new things. Vegetables, even! He has eaten bell peppers, when Ingrid offers them to him, and carrots, too (both raw) and once some string beans. Progress.

I have also started to insist that he tastes the cooked food that the rest of us eat, at least one proper bite. To my surprise he has accepted this and not protested much at all. Afterwards he politely says Det var jättegott, “it was really good”, but he almost never asks for a second piece. The string beans were an exception.

Meanwhile I have cut down a lot on breastfeeding. Once just after he wakes, and once before he falls asleep – and once at 5:30 or 6:00 so we can all sleep another hour or two. He doesn’t like this and tells me almost every day that he would really like to nurse more, but usually he is not too upset about it either.

He has rediscovered the iPad, after losing interest in it for a while. He explores new apps, games that Ingrid played years ago, pokes around, investigates. But unlike Ingrid he doesn’t get absorbed for hours, neither in iPad games nor in movies. After a short while he usually wanders off and does something else instead, preferably in the company of other people.

He has lost some of his interest in Pippi and Bamse and doesn’t always go straight for the Pippi shirt when choosing clothes in the morning.

He likes shopping. The best thing each afternoon is our trip to the supermarket and the veggie stand at Spånga torg.

He hates it when somebody gets ahead of him, outruns him, goes up or down the stairs ahead of him. He absolutely needs to be first.

Du får inte prata med mig!, “you mustn’t talk to me!” is still his usual way of telling us that he is angry with us.

The new MacBook is awesome. Saving a photo in Capture NX (Nikon’s editor for RAW files) went from about 15 seconds to 2. My workflow used to be “edit, press save, browse the Internet for a while, come back”. Not any more!

After four and a half years of dedicated service, I have now retired my old MacBook Pro and bought a new one, of roughly the same kind. (The battery on the old one has warped with time and is now so bent out of shape that it puts pressure on the trackpad from underneath, so after about an hour of use the trackpad stops working properly.)

In addition to a working trackpad, unaffected by a misbehaving battery, the new one has one really cool thing: a Retina display.

The Retina display seemed like an unnecessary luxury. I was pretty happy with the old screen. But the model with Retina display had other things that I wanted (more memory compared to the non-retina one, and Flash storage instead of a hard drive) so I bought it anyway.

And now I am in love with the new display. Everything looks so crisp. It’s a pleasure to look at, and especially to read – or write.

PS: If anyone is interested in buying a cheap 5-year-old 15″ MacBook Pro with a badly warped battery, then let me know. The battery can be replaced, I’m sure.

Things that a two-year-old can learn from a big sister, who definitely did not do this kind of things when she was two years old:

  • lördagsgodis and fredagsmys (Saturday candy and Friday evening movies with snacks)
  • drinking straws, and using them to blow bubbles in milk
  • chewing gum
  • face painting
  • putting pasta on his fingers, or raspberries

663 photos from our trip to Estonia await triage and editing. Sigh.

I have trouble finding Estonian fiction to read. Last summer I bought Indrek Hargla’s “Apteeker Melchior” series (the first three books), and quite enjoyed them.

Melchior is the town apothecary in Tallinn in the beginning of the 15th century. He has a strong sense of justice and a keen brain, and therefore cannot help but get involved in solving the occasional mysterious murder.

The books are a nice combination of well-crafted murder mystery and historical novel. Hargla’s descriptions of everyday life in medieval Tallinn are evocative and appear to be thoroughly researched: we get to read about everything from meals to bathing habits.

I wish the books had a better map of the city, ideally with an overlay of Tallinn’s current geography. The streets that Melchior walks, the houses and the back yards are all described very vividly, but since I am not a native of Tallinn this is rather a wasted effort without a map.

I read the three books out of order (just grabbing one randomly from the shelf when I wanted a book to read) but looking back now I can see a trend from a slightly teacherly manner to “wilder” stories. Book 1 dealt with the murder of a master builder and mostly takes place among worthy guild members. Book 2 had adulterous monks and sightings of ghosts; book 3 had a gambling den, more adultery, amnesiac foreigners etc.

All in all: nice, entertaining, well written.