My body is wider than it really is.

There is this concept of personal space: the space around you that psychologically “belongs” to you. If people get inside that space, you feel uncomfortable.

I’ve noticed that my physical body also extends outside of itself. When people walk towards me in a tight place, such as a narrow pavement, I often misjudge the space we have.

They walk towards me. I walk straight ahead, and I’m right up against the wall on my other side, and I can’t get out of their way.

I am sure we will walk right into each other. I brace for impact.

And then: nothing. Maybe our elbows brush, barely. Maybe not even that.

We went bowling today. It was the kids’ first time bowling, and I can’t say I’m an expert either – I think I’ve tried bowling maybe 5 times in my life.

I would have thought that Ingrid is too young for this (not to mention Adrian). But Ingrid mentioned at some point that one of her classmates had had his birthday party at a bowling alley. It turns out that many bowling alleys do kids’ birthday parties. The thing that makes it work is a technical fix: the kids get bumpers that make sure the ball doesn’t end up in the gutter.

So we tried bowling, and it worked out quite well. Adrian of course didn’t really understand any of it but was just happy to be on the show. He liked the balls with all their pretty colours, and wearing shoes that looked just like mine.

But he did try some bowling too. First with a ramp, but then he chose to play like us, with muscle power only. But his muscle power is pretty limited, especially when it comes to explosive strength… Once his ball actually ran out of speed completely and got stuck, close to the end of the lane, and a staff member had to go and poke it out. The best technique we came up with for him had him standing with his feet wide apart, with the ball on the floor in front of him, and then pushing the ball sort of kind of roughly straight ahead. Maybe.

Ingrid managed quite well and enjoyed it. She couldn’t roll the ball straight, so after a while she gave up and just planned her zig-zags. “If I zig to the left then it will probably bounce twice against the bumpers and end up at the left again,” that kind of calculations. It worked surprisingly well.

In the end we were all quite evenly matched, actually. Eric and I are both beginners with pretty unpredictable results: anything from total misses to the occasional strike. Ingrid had the bumpers to help her out. Adrian also had the bumpers and got very random results to begin with. But when he tired, Eric and I took turns bowling for him as well, when his turn came up, which further evened out the results.

I had a most liberating haircut this week. I love having my hair short.

Haircuts are tricky things. For a long time I was more or less unhappy with all the salon haircuts I got. Some just had no skill; some did not listen at all to what I asked for.

I got a good haircut at a hairdressing school in 2008. Then I tried out the various salons around Odenplan which is where I worked at that time. When I found a good one, I stayed, and I hope she never retires. So now I take the train to Odenplan whenever I need a haircut.

This has been a most unwintery winter. Almost no snow, and no cold weather either. We’ve been able to go out sledding just once.

Two weeks ago we were lucky to get loads of fresh snow on Friday and then warmish weather (meaning wet sticky snow) on Saturday, so we seized the opportunity and stayed out in the snow for hours. We built two forts and had a snowball fight, made two snowmen, one sofa for the snowmen and one lantern. By the next morning it was all half melted.


This night we got a fresh load of wet snow. Soft, heavy snow and no wind: it made for a very pretty view in the morning when we woke. And again by the evening it was already melting.

It’s like winter never happened and what we had was a soft segue from November straight into March. Gray and wet.

On the plus side, the neighbours have been reporting snowdrops and eranthis flowering already.

Ingrid and Adrian have their occasional loud disagreements – mostly when both want to have the same thing, or when Adrian messes up some activity of Ingrid’s. This often happens because he cannot understand what is important to Ingrid. This piece of paper that she was drawing on? Surely it’s OK if Adrian also makes some squiggles on it, too? He has no idea that Ingrid was making a story book and definitely does not want his squiggles on it.

But the root cause is that he wants to do the same as her, because he looks up to her so much. Anything that Ingrid does, Adrain wants to do as well. He may not be able to express it well, but he loves her. And Ingrid understands that, and sometimes even says things like “wouldn’t it be boring for Adrian if he didn’t have a big sister” (and I agree).

I am not entirely sure if she quite understands how much emptier her own life would be without him, because she is more aware of the frustrations. She is old enough to sometimes want to play with her friends without Adrian being around all the time. But most of the time she enjoys his company as well.

Last month’s themes continue.

Adrian is often angry and wants to decide everything, not only about his own life but about others as well. Who sits where, who is allowed to eat what breakfast, etc.

He has a firm idea about how life should be, and if the world doesn’t conform, he has a hard time dealing with it. Man får inte göra så, “this is not allowed”, is a frequent comment. He says this about real life situations, and in that case “not allowed” is a synonym for “I don’t want you to do this” – and I suspect he says it this way because that is the way he hears adults express their wishes.

But he is also quick to point out things that are done wrong outside of his own life. If book has a funny drawing of a lemon in a shoe, he tells me man får inte göra så!. But because it’s not for real, he’s a bit more relaxed about this and doesn’t actually get angry, and when I tell him that in books anything is allowed, he’s OK with that.

He contains an endless stream of why’s. Why is there a tree here? Why do we live in Spånga? Why is he standing there? Why are you walking so fast? Why do I need to go to nursery?

With most of these I can understand or at least imagine his interest. But then sometimes his questions come from some part of his brain that I really cannot relate to.

He asks if we can buy blueberries. I say yes, and put a carton of blueberries in our shopping basket. “Why are we buying those?” he asks.

Adrian is still very interested in letters (especially) and numbers (a little bit less). He reads out letters he sees. He picks out the first letters of words, and sometimes the next one, too. He wants to know how words are spelled.

He wants to write but he cannot draw any letters himself because his hands are not steady enough.

He draws more than he used to, but mostly just susapusa, a circular tangle. His hand is not steady enough, and maybe his fingers are not strong enough, to control a finer movement. One day at the Estonian playgroup the kids were all going to draw snow men. I held my hand around his just to steady it but didn’t guide it at all, and he drew a beautiful snow man, but with very faint lines.

I wondered how much of it was my doing and how much he did. But then I realised that when we drew the little round buttons he drew some of them clockwise and some anti-clockwise, which I would never have done if it was my hand doing the drawing, so it must have been mostly him.

Many of his drawings represent slides (of the playground kind), or roller coasters, according to his own descriptions. He often cuts them out. When he cuts, he likes to crop tightly: he is more bothered by excess paper that’s left around his drawing than by the occasional clipped edge.

So he cannot write any letters by hand, but sometimes he types on my computer, with me spelling out the words for him. At this age Ingrid liked to just make lots of letters on the screen. Adrian wants to write words.

When he types numbers, he wants them to be in the right order, and just one of each: if he by accident gets two of the number 4, he makes sure to erase one.

6 and 9 are tricky to tell apart.

He is learning the mapping of number words between Swedish and Estonian. Kas kolm on tre? he asks me. Due to the wonderful world of YouTube, he is actually learning number words in English, too, all the way up to seven. But while he can actually understand the meaning of number words in Swedish, and the first few in Estonian too, in English I think it’s just a pretty sequence of sounds for him.

A crispbread sandwich with tomato soup

He is just about understood the concept of days of week. We’ve talked about how it is Monday in the morning and Monday at lunchtime and Monday in the afternoon and Monday at night too. And it’s Monday at school and Monday at nursery. And then comes Tuesday. And then other days, and then Monday again. And I think he knows that certain activities always come on certain days of the week.

This is mostly due to Ingrid’s influence. If it wasn’t for Ingrid, most of our weekdays would look very similar. But now we have to pick up Ingrid at the other school on Tuesdays because of her Estonian lesson; riding lessons on Thursdays; swimming on Fridays; scout meetings on Sundays.

Adrian comes along to both Ingrid’s riding and swimming lessons. Sometimes I feel sorry for him: he has to trail Ingrid and gets no activity that is really his own. But he doesn’t mind. Especially with the swimming, when given a choice he always wants to come along rather than stay at home with the other parent.

He hasn’t been that happy about the riding lessons, because he’s been afraid of animals for a long time. The first couple of times he hung on hard to me and I could hardly put him down in the stable. But he’s now getting used to it. He no longer holds on to my leg all the time. (There’s also a pillar in the middle of the stable that was a sort of a safe place where he was at a safe distance from all the horses and not at risk of being stepped on.) He doesn’t quite wander off (which is good) but last time I actually had to look for him because he’d gone around a corner to look at some thing, which was definitely a first. And he’s started talking about riding a pony himself. The smallest one, about as tall as he is, and only if it doesn’t walk, just stands still.

Inspired by Ingrid, Adrian also wants pocket money. He’s not getting any, though.

Random facts:

  • Adrian can turn his tongue to the side.
  • He had a haircut. Not his first, I think, but the first in a very long time. There are recurring problems with lice at the nursery, and his hair was hard to comb through, so we chopped much of it off. He looks more boyish way, so when he wears a dress (which he does quite regularly) the contrast is now even stronger.
  • Favourite books: Liten skär, especially the one about letters. Ahmed Anka och Ödlan Örjan.
  • Favourite foods: few, as ever. Fruit, porridge, cereal, bread, potatoes, pasta, meatballs, fish fingers, a few select vegetables. But now he also eats tomato soup, and the last one I made had lentils in it and he ate it without blinking. And the other day he drank some of my fruit smoothie, on his own initiative. But then at dinner he refused to eat a piece of potato that had some infinitesimal orange spots on it because it had been in contact with a piece of sweet potato.

Horses. This month’s big thing is definitely horses. In Ingrid’s own words, she has become “hästtokig”, horse obsessed.

She tried horseback riding once last summer and loved it. She’s been talking about riding since then, and now this spring term she finally got a chance to do it again, with riding lessons every Thursday.

I sort of thought it might have been just a one-off, a passing fancy. But she absolutely loves it. Even on the one occasion when the riding lesson turned out to be a theory lesson (the basics of saddling and bridling and grooming) with no actual riding, she came away happy.

Ingrid has had 4 actual riding lessons now I think. For the first few lessons the kids all had someone holding a lead rope but now they’re mostly managing things themselves, at least most of the time. They’re working on the basics: halting and steering, and some trotting.

Ingrid has also discovered that the horse won’t always listen to her or do what she wants.

She feels reasonably confident when she’s sitting in the saddle, but on the ground she’s not yet very comfortable near horses. Well, they’re ponies, really, but still quite a lot larger than her. She’s afraid that she’ll be stepped on, or crushed against the wall when the pony steps sideways. Or bitten; there’s one pony there at the stables who seems to enjoy nipping people’s arms, or at least threatening to.

And she’s not very fond of the messy side of it. When a horse nuzzles her chest her first instinct is to go and clean it off. Horse manure on the ground is “eugh!”, and rinsing horse saliva from the bit is yucky.

It’s not just the riding. She borrows horse-themed books at the school library. She buys horse-themed magazines instead of Bamse. She took down all her Bamse posters from the wall above her bed and put up three horse posters instead. She’s been looking at stuffed plush horses on the internet and is thinking of saving up to buy a big one. And she’s told me she’d like to decorate her whole room with a horse theme, curtains and rug and bed sheets and everything.

Apart from horses, the main theme in Ingrid’s life is independence. When she is bored at home, she now sometimes goes for a walk on her own, or maybe goes to the supermarket.

Twice she went skating on her own. The sports field is about 2 km from here, so she took the bus. (We practiced this together a few times first.) When she got there she got some random parent to help her put on her skates. She’s pretty good at asking for help from adults, doesn’t really feel shy about it or anything. And she found other kids to play and skate around with.

Once she got a lift home with some kid who lived roughly in this direction. (I guess the parent didn’t feel comfortable about Ingrid alone on the bus.) The other time she took the bus home afterwards, and that was really the only part of the whole experience that went less well. She just barely missed one bus, waited 10 minutes, and then the next bus went right past and didn’t stop for her. But she got home on the next bus.

For those trips she borrowed my bus card and my mobile phone (and phoned home several times, for help or advice or just to check in). But now we’ve bought her both a bus card of her own and a mobile phone as well. They might not get much use yet but there’ll be more and more of this kind of thing.

Favourite movie: Bamse och tjuvstaden. Also, Lou!. And Melodifestivalen, the song contest.

Favourite books: Daisy Meadows’ fairy books, still. She’s outgrowing Bamse and mostly reading Kalle Anka now.

Favourite things: YooHoo plush toys, which Ingrid has started collecting. She has five. I’m glad she has her pocket money for this kind of stuff.

New skill she’s learning: writing in cursive.

Ingrid’s photo of all her YooHoos

The macro workshop is done and ordinary life can resume. This was a great course, maybe less obviously “useful” and educational than the previous ones but on the other hand more relaxed and fun. Macro photography is definitely something I will be doing more of.

Meanwhile, here are some photos I took during the past two weeks.

Of plants and nature:

And of various everyday objects:

If you’re a regular reader, you will have noticed that the blog was unreachable for a few days. This was because the blog got hacked.

Really, to be honest, it looks like the blog got hacked a long time ago already, but nobody noticed. This isn’t a high-profile blog that someone would hack for its own sake, so there were no visible signs. It was probably just added to some list of p0wned sites. But now someone somewhere decided to use it to start sending out spam. Alarm bells rang at my hosting provider, they blocked access to the blog, and I started disinfecting.

I think I have now found and removed all the stuff that didn’t belong, so I’m letting you all back in. As part of the cleanup I deleted all plugins, so some of the extras are missing (notably the links to related posts).

The cleanup process was really not trivial. I’m not even sure that everything is 100% clean now, so I will be extra vigilant for some time. Without knowing both PHP and SQL, this would have been hopeless. I am glad I am a web developer.