Two very co-operative subjects: one of Ingrid’s stuffed animals, and one of mine. My mum made the elephant for me when I was a kid.

I’ve been spending more time and attention on photography: practising more intentionally, following a blog or two, joining a forum. Starting this week I’m also taking an online course to get a better grip on the technical stuff. (The course is titled “Mastering Manual Exposure”.)

By the way, I can strongly recommend the forum if you want to improve your photography. Clickin’ Moms is a very informative and active photography forum. It is also a very friendly place, which really sets it apart from many other places on the Internet, including some other photography-related sites I’ve looked at.

The assignment for the first week is to take three photos of the same object in different settings, aiming for consistent exposure.

Today I practised on my gloves. They are reasonably close to me all day long, so I can spread out my photos over the day and the evening.

First the gloves took the train from the city to the suburbs. The gloves got a few drops of rain on them, and spent a few minutes waiting for the train.

When the gloves got off the train, it was raining more, and the umbrella was not an option because the gloves had to cycle around in the rain for a while, ferrying children back and forth. By the time the gloves got home they were quite wet.

The gloves spent the rest of the evening drying in the hall.

A turbulent month full of stormy feelings. Adrian is angry, upset, distressed, frustrated… Not all the time, not at all, but frequently enough for these feelings to dominate my impressions of this past month.

Life just doesn’t seem to be the way he wants it to be. The world does not cooperate. Nobody does things the way he wants them to be, because nobody can read his mind.

I set the table for breakfast and bring a saucepan with porridge to him. “No! Not here! On the stove! I want to get it myself!” he cries. He doesn’t even try talking to me – he goes straight to yelling or angry crying. As if this was the umpteenth frustrating experience that makes his cup run over – and the poor boy only awoke half an hour ago. He is so frustrated and he doesn’t really know how to cope with it.

And there is an awful lot of things that can go wrong in just a day, an awful lot of setbacks to cope with. Sometimes he is upset that I offer to help him; other times he is upset that I don’t. Sometimes he is angry that I talk to him. Sometimes he cries because we only have the wrong mittens at nursery and the right ones are at home. Sometimes he cries because we have mittens at all. At times I feel like I’m walking in a minefield: whatever I choose, whatever I do or say (or don’t do, or don’t say) might set off an explosion. There is no safe path.

Not being first is generally a very frustrating experience. Other people going out through the door before him is bad. Other people going up the stairs before him is bad. Other people serving food before him, opening the fridge before him, getting an apple before him – bad.

Sharing is difficult. Not just sharing toys but in general accepting other people’s right to do things, decide, hold and use objects. Sharing the world with other people. Not being allowed to grab the Bamse that Ingrid just took. The fact that I want to sit on the chair next to his.

At nursery when his will collides with the other kids’, he doesn’t really understand what’s happening. Say some kid makes a sand cake, and Adrian stomps on it – because he likes stomping on sand cakes, not because he wants to destroy it. The other kid gets upset, and the teacher tells him so. Adrian understands that people are not happy with him but does not quite understand why, or what to do about it, so he cries. He wants to get along, and he really does his best, but especially with other kids it’s not so easy.

Well, luckily there are also happier moments.

When Adrian is in a happy mood, he is sweet and talkative and funny. He speaks very well now, with long sentences. He is working on figuring out irregular verbs: this evening he tried to say “I haven’t drunk anything” and tried Jag har inte drack… Jag har inte drickit… and then gave up and just said Jag ska dricka.

He makes jokes. He pretends to be things (a rabbit, or a horse, or a tiger). He pretends his food is things (boats, shoes, trains). He pretends that he is a baby and walks around saying “dadda gaggu gaggu” etc.

He talks about days of the week quite a lot, and asks me almost every day what day it is. Also he is still working on the concepts of “yesterday” and “today” and “tomorrow”.

He is interested in letters – or perhaps names? He points out the other kids’ boxes in the hallway at nursery, and is especially interested in the ones that begin with the same letter. Duru’s name begins with Darin’s letter. Elin, Erik och Elias all have E. Not all words that begin with A say “Adrian”. Etc.

He can count up to 5 things, I think. He doesn’t do it very often.

He likes playing with whatever Ingrid plays with, or the other kids at nursery. He likes our train track, and Lego. He has adopted Ingrid’s soft Sipsik doll, tells me that Sipsik is his baby, and likes to carry Sipsik with him from room to room.

He likes sticks. Preferably about as long as his leg, and the thickness of a finger.

We stopped (or rather, I stopped) nursing completely. It took him a long while to accept this, and sometimes he still tells me he would like to nurse. But I felt done.

This didn’t lead to him sleeping any better. He kept waking at around 5, pretty much every night, and then tossing and turning and half-sleeping for an hour or so before sinking back into deeper sleep. And while he was “seeking” that sleep, he kept kicking me, pushing me with his feet or legs, head-butting me, lying on top of me…

So I moved out of our bedroom. Adrian and Eric now have the big 3-bed combo to themselves, and I sleep on a mattress in Ingrid’s room. For the first few nights it looked like this made no difference, but after a while he actually started sleeping through the night, more or less. Maybe waking a bit in the early hours of the morning, cuddling up closer to Eric, and then just going straight back to sleep.

He has been quite tired recently and going to bed early, some evenings as early as 19:00. Usually he’s pretty good at realising that he is tired and saying so.

He has also been hungry. He eats a large portion of porridge at breakfast. I don’t know what he does at nursery, but the first thing we do after nursery is go to the supermarket, where he gets a banana. (He likes eating it while he’s sitting inside the trolley, with all the food piled up around him.) Then we get home and he wants to eat straight away, lots. I’ve now started cutting his snack short and making dinner earlier again (aiming at 18:00), otherwise he can snack on bananas and bread and yogurt for an hour, and then have no appetite for dinner.

Favourite food: fish fingers. And dark chocolate. But he now tries the veggies I serve to him, almost without argument, and sometimes actually eats some (broccoli, sugar snap peas, raw carrots, raw bell peppers).

Favourite clothes: pyjamas. Sometimes he spends all day in pyjamas, and occasionally I think he’s gone to nursery in pyjamas. We bought three new one-piece pyjamas for him because he keeps sticking his hands inside his nappy at night, which leads to leakage. The pyjamas block that very effectively. But it was hard to find any one-piece pyjamas in his size – only one shop had anything larger than size 92.

He does not like wearing socks, and his favourite footwear is a pair of rubber boots lined with wool. He says his shoes are “hard”. He likes woollen mittens, too.

Favourite song: Kalle Theodor.

Ingrid liked my tripod and remote release and has been borrowing my camera on a few occasions. Here she did a series of self-portraits with a range of moods, from angry through neutral to happy.

After last month’s changes, this has been a stable month, almost eventless. Well, except for all the birthday celebrations of course. Ingrid has been thinking about them almost all the time, I think.

The best things with birthdays are presents and sweets: the more, the better. Those are the things she talks about most. She finally settled on waffles for her actual birthday, and for her party a Swiss roll – with ice cream or whipped cream, so the kids can put sprinkles on top.

As for gifts, she has been talking a lot about stuff that the other girls in her class have: My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Lego Friends. We got her some Lego Friends; she’s thinking of buying some My Little Pony toys for her pocket money.

Ingrid gets pocket money every week, and my expectation is that she should pay for her own toys. Otherwise she will be insatiable and never consider the cost. Now she is hyper-aware of the cost. When she realizes that buying this advent calendar would cost half her money, and that pony castle set would cost ALL her money, she really doesn’t want to part with her money. Not because she has her sights set on something else, but because she doesn’t like handing over the money.

On the other hand, not getting pocket money doesn’t bother her too much: she bought a Bamse subscription and paid for it in instalments, i.e. she did not get any pocket money until it was paid off. That was no big deal. The endowment effect in action…

Other kids’ opinions matter not only for toys. She is discovering self-consciousness and embarrassment. Not that she hasn’t felt these things in the past, but now she knows what she’s feeling and has the words for it.

She wanted to buy a onesie (the thing that looks like loose zip-up pyjamas). We found one that was in a pretty fabric, but tight rather than loose, more like a dance suit. Ingrid thought about it and then said she wouldn’t want to wear that to school, it would be too embarrassing. But a few other kids have loose onesies, so she felt more comfortable with that.

Otherwise her taste in clothing is refreshingly individualistic. No blue jeans for her, no frilly skirts and tights, no t-shirts with kittens or glittery hearts. No – Ingrid wears dresses and tunics, and tights or leggings. There was one week when she wore skirts for some reason, skirts that I’ve bought for her at some point and that normally lie unused in her dresser. That week in the afternoons I could hardly find her at school – I almost didn’t recognise her at a distance.

All her clothes should be soft and stretchy and preferably tight. Especially when it comes to trousers she really doesn’t want any loose jeansy ones, only leggings. And everything should be colourful and patterned, preferably in floral patterns. Molo’s crazy flowers-and-rabbits-and-clouds style patterns are her particular favourites. She happily combines different strongly patterned items that almost make my eyes water. But she also has definite colour preferences, so the end result may be eye-catching but usually isn’t totally uncoordinated.

She has asked me to braid her hair several times now. It’s shortish, especially at the front, so a plain braid would leave much of it still loose. Therefore I’ve tried my hand at French braids and Dutch braids, with the help of YouTube. (The trick is to moisten the hair first, with a spray bottle.) She’s been surprisingly patient, and liked the results – and also liked the wavy hair she gets when we unbraid the hair.

Ingrid has been interested in telling time again. She learned it this spring but then kind of forgot about it, and has now relearned it again. When we’re near a clock she often just tells me the time, because she can.

The quarter hours are particularly tricky because they work differently in Estonian and Swedish. In Swedish it’s the same as in English: quarter to, quarter past. In Estonian, as soon as you’re past the hour, you start thinking about the next one: a quarter past six becomes “quarter [of] seven” and then a quarter to seven is “three quarters [of] seven”.

(And while we’re at it, half-hours work the same in Swedish and Estonian: both are forward-looking, unlike English. So the English “half past six” becomes “half seven” in both Estonian and Swedish.)

Last week we were invited to the school for the parent-teacher meeting for the autumn term. The English name is misleading, really: it’s a “development discussion” in Swedish, and it’s definitely not just for the parents and the teacher: the student is present and an important part of the discussion. Also the meeting is both backward- and forward-looking, and results in a plan for the student’s learning for the rest of the term.

Ingrid is still well ahead of the school’s expectations in reading, writing, maths and English. Her learning plan included practising block letters (as opposed to the all-uppercase they all started out with), and beginning to read in English.

At home she mostly plays with Adrian, or plays on the iPad, or reads the usual stuff: Bamse, Kalle Anka, Daisy Meadows’ fairy books. She borrows new Daisy Meadows books at the school library every week, never anything else, and will probably keep this up until she’s read all they have.

I am drawn to autumn colours. When I buy clothes, I gravitate towards orange, brown, warm red, moss green, yellow. Our home is decorated in similar colours. Now the outside of the house is also in tune with this.

The cherry trees that dominate our garden are in their most wondrous autumn colours right now. Just like their spring bloom, the autumn colours last maybe a week at most. By this weekend most of the leaves will be gone.

The house and the trees match each other perfectly, as if they were made to be next to each other. The cherry tree, just like the house, is red at the top where it gets the most sun, and yellow towards the north where it’s mostly in the shade. The fiery red and the bright yellow leaves in the photo below are all on the same tree, just on different sides.



Tiring of cows and giraffes (and limited in our zoological creativity by the fact that almost all chestnuts were the same size this year), both Ingrid and I also made some more abstract constructions.

I now have both a tripod and a remote. This evening we tried them out for the first time.

This feels very representative of our evenings. Me trying to do something; Adrian hanging on to me; Ingrid turning everything up to 11; Eric seeking peace and quiet in another room.