This is going to be another photo-rich and text-poor month: another photo course began this week.

Today was the first day of noticeably below-freezing temperatures for this season, and thus the first day of snow suits. Adrian loved his. “Yay! Snow suit! I will put it on right now!”

In the evening he climbed out of it but left the boots still attached to it, so it’s all ready and waiting for him tomorrow morning.

Week three of the photography course focused on shutter speed.

During week four we worked on white balance, both outdoors with natural light and indoors with artificial light. This was quite interesting.

Most of the “living” rooms in our house are lit by multiple small lamps with weak light bulbs – some few are 40W or equivalent, and many are in the 15-25W range. (Incandescent light bulbs are on the way out, but still we have a stash at home, because the alternatives were pretty unsatisfactory when the phase-out started. They’re better now but we still have incandescent bulbs in many of our lamps.)

If there is a ceiling lamp, we have a dimmer switch on it and usually keep the light quite dim, especially after the kids go to bed.

My mum always complains that it’s dark here. It is – but that’s because we like it that way! I don’t want my evenings to feel like daytime. I want a quiet, warm nest.

It turns out that the dimmer the light bulb, the warmer its light. So our indoor lighting is off-the-charts warm. Normal household light bulbs are around 2800-3000K according to most sources. Not ours! My photo editing software can go down to 2400 on the Kelvin scale, and that was still not low enough.

This week I take a break, and next week I start the next course, on composition.

Another month of mood swings and frustration. Adrian really wants to decide, decide everything, and finds it immensely frustrating that there are all these things that he cannot decide. He wants everybody to do things his way.

“No, don’t hold the fork like that! No you can’t sit here, you have to sit there! I want to have that! No, emme must blow on the porridge!”

I am heartily tired of being yelled at. And when I get angry because of this, he’s all tears – and while he may then grudgingly let me hold the fork my way, he still doesn’t understand that I want to decide over my own doings.

Sometimes he gets so angry that he doesn’t even want to be with us. He goes and hides behind a door and sulks.

Sometimes he just moans vaaarfööör (“whyyyyy”) like a frustrated teenager.

He’s so verbal and can express himself so well in most situations that it’s easy for me to think of him as older than he is. But then he does something that reminds me how little he understands about the world, even the simple physical aspects of it.

Things he does not understand or know yet:
That you cannot roll up a napkin around a fork if the fork is at a right angle to the edge you’re rolling from.
How to make an A from three sticks. (He could make an H, or a very very flat “roof” so the middle bar didn’t reach from side to side, but couldn’t adjust either of those to a real A.)
That the water will fall out if you hold a bottle sideways, or shake it without a lid.

He likes certain things to be done the same way every day. Every day as we leave the nursery, he wants to walk on the same two benches the same way. Then we always go to Konsum for groceries. There he always sits in the trolley and eats a fruit. For a long time that was always a banana, but recently he’s been having an apple instead.

He gets carsick more easily than he used to, I think. He cannot say that he’s carsick but when he starts sounding really miserable and says that he wants to sleep, or wants his dummy, or to go home, then we know that he’s about to get sick.

He likes mirrors, and very easily gets stuck in front of one, so occupied with what he sees that he cannot move on. Eric’s sunglasses are very fascinating that way: he gets very close, with his nose almost touching the sunglasses, and looks at his reflection. When he is upset and then sees himself in the mirror, he gets in a feedback loop of upsetness: the harder he sees himself cry, the worse it gets.

Favourite movie: Despicable me. Adrian loves the minions! Papoy! and Bee doo bee doo…

The movie is called Dumma mig in Swedish, i.e. roughly “Stupid me”. Since this summer, when Ingrid first started speaking about “Stupid me”, Adrian has insisted on calling this movie “Stupid Ingrid”, or possibly “Stupid you” – not as a joke but because he simply and naturally converted Ingrid’s “me” to his “you”. Only very recently did he understand that “Stupid me” is actually the name of the movie, regardless of who is talking.

Favourite books: Alfons Åberg. Also he’s asked me to read several mildly scary books: some with ghosts, and also Underbara familjen Kanin. Halfway through he gets scared and hides his eyes and gets really really close to me, but he still wants to hear the rest.

Favourite clothes: a new dress, green, with pockets. Woollen mittens.

If he could choose, he’d probably wear more purple, more glitter, and more dresses. Unfortunately we don’t have many purple clothes in his size.

Favourite food: porridge. He eats a large portion every morning, with jam or chopped apples, banana, kiwi, etc.

Apart from the trip to Tenerife, this has been a most ordinary month.

Ingrid goes to school, does well and loves it, and stays for as long as she can. She doesn’t want to go home in the afternoon until most of her friends are gone.

At home she reads. She got a bunch of Daisy Meadows fairy books for her birthday and was overjoyed, and now reads them a lot. Bamse and Kalle Anka make up the rest. Sometimes she reads out loud for Adrian; some of the library books are fun for both of them (at least for one reading).

She has become addicted to the iPad again, not even trying to come up with any other activity in the evenings. I have announced an iPad detox of unspecified duration.

Within a few weeks she lost three of her front teeth. One on the day of her birthday party (the “birthday tooth”), one on top of Mount Teide (the “volcano tooth”) and one last Sunday evening. That last one was really really loose all day and then finally got kicked out in the evening while she was roughhousing with Adrian.

She loves Adrian but now sometimes also loves to annoy him in a passive-aggressive way. When Adrian wants to be first to somewhere, she just casually runs ahead of him – not necessarily because she wants to be first but because she doesn’t want him to have that joy. Or because she wants that feeling of being better, faster, stronger than him? When Adrian wants to sit on one side of the sofa, she lays herself in his way to block him.

Both of them really, really like being first.

What Ingrid wants most of all, if a fairy could grant her any wish: (1) to get to decide everything (because adults get to decide way too much she thinks), and (2) to have a mini car or a self-driving chair on wheels, so she wouldn’t have to walk anywhere. (And ideally it would have wings, too.)

No, what she would really want to wish for is that the fairy would grant her ALL her wishes, but she guesses that the fairy wouldn’t agree to that. (She’s seen Aladdin, after all, and knows how genies think.) She’s kind of disappointed that fairies don’t exist.

She’s pretty sure that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist and that it’s me putting coins under her pillow. Regardless, she did not want to put her 3 latest teeth under her pillow for the tooth fairy for 10 kr apiece – she’d rather keep them, she said.

Ingrid may not like walking but she cycles well. Today we cycled to Vällingby together to go to the cinema, about 3 km each way, without a problem.

She also swims well, and this Friday she participated in her first swimming “competition”. She normally has a swimming lesson every Friday, and twice a term the ordinary lessons are replaced by a competition. This doesn’t apply to the very youngest kids, but Ingrid has advanced far enough that she’s in the deep pool and doing real swimming, so her group is included. The swimmers don’t compete against each other, only against themselves and against a set of target times. Ingrid swam 25m backstroke.

So we spent a week on Tenerife, with sun, splashing and relaxation.

Adrian and Ingrid are still young enough that we wanted a hotel with enough activities that we could just stay in when we wanted an easy day. So we stayed at one of those family resorts with a large pool area including a kids’ pool, and a children’s club with a variety of activities. This was just right for Ingrid who loved every minute of it, and did everything from children’s water aerobics to a Halloween “ghost hunt” (complete with candy).

The hotel was in Las Americas, which turned out to be a really good area for us. Very close to decent beaches, and with lots of good restaurants. Our favourite restaurants: Monkey Bravo (Italian, very uneven service but excellent food) and Thai Botanico.

We spent a few days just around Las Americas – at the beach, at a mini golf course, just walking around – but also went on three trips.

One day we went to Aqualand, a nearby water park. This again was paradise for Ingrid. She’s old enough to wander around inside the park on her own: she can find her way around (and back) without getting lost, judge which slides are appropriate for her, make friends with other kids (with or without a common language). And she’s a good enough swimmer that I am comfortable with her being unsupervised in even the deepest children’s pools (but not yet in pools where the water is above her head).

We’d read mixed reviews about Aqualand (that it was dilapidated, and bad service, and bad food, and having to pay extra for all sorts of things). So maybe it wasn’t all brand new and shiny, but it was fun, and in totally decent enough shape – and we brought our own food so we avoided their expensive crappy offering.

Another day we went to Loro Parque, an animal park. (They also served crappy lunches, almost inedible.) It was sort of like Kolmården, but denser, smaller and more “managed”. The animal exhibits were so-so and the enclosures were all so small that I felt sorry for all of the birds and animals. Kolmården really beats them on every front except one: Loro Parque had excellent animal shows. We saw dolphins, sea lions, and orcas, and they also had a parrot show. The shows were impressive, and (unlike at Kolmården) they ran lots of times throughout the day so it was easy to get a seat without any advance booking.

Finally we also took a trip to Mount Teide, the world’s 3rd tallest volcano. Volcanos are pretty darn cool things, even when dormant. Lava fields are a bizarre sight: this wide expanse of fresh black rock that nothing grows on, rock that looks all hostile and “hellish” even hundreds of years later – right there for me to touch. This was a place that I really would have preferred to visit with fewer crowds and more time, and without kids who think a volcano is kind of cool but then feel done with it after 5 minutes (“been there, done that”) and thereafter keep asking “can we go back now”.

As I said, Ingrid loved the whole experience, and it was a welcome week of rest for Eric and myself. Adrian on the other hand would have been happier at home, I suspect. He didn’t really complain but you could see he wasn’t comfortable with the whole thing. He likes playing in water but hates splashing, so he didn’t enjoy the pool or Aqualand, and the waves in the sea were also more scary than fun. And the house was wrong, the bed was wrong, the meatballs were wrong… the poor boy effectively lived on bread and french fries and fruit and nuts all week.

On top of the world

This house normally contains, for two adults and two kids:

  • One stationary computer
  • Two broadband Internet connections
  • Three laptops
  • Three iPads
  • Four mobile phones

This past week, week 2 of the photography course I’m taking, we worked on aperture and depth of field. I found this a lot more challenging than the first week’s material – normally I use wide apertures almost exclusively, and trying to find appropriate subjects for narrow apertures took some work.

Here is Mount Teide, the world’s third highest volcano.