After the swimming lesson.

Ingrid and a friend of hers baked cookies and then sold them door-to-door. The proceeds (94 kr) went to the Red Cross.

Ingrid listening to Eric reading Harry Potter – wrapped in a fleece blanket, stretched out along the radiator sunk into the floor.

The warm weather got even warmer, so there is not much left of the snowmen.

Eric is reading Harry Potter for Ingrid every other night. (The other nights, I read Supilinna salaselts.) I also listen because Harry Potter is fun, even in Swedish. Several evenings now we’ve heard about about quidditch games.

[I note that my text editor recognizes quidditch as a valid English-language word. Unlike recognizes, which it thinks should be spelled with an S instead of a Z.]

The programmer in me cannot help but wonder about the magic controlling the quidditch balls. I mean, since the balls fly around on their own, they must have some kind of instructions. If you want to control something by magic, you must know precisely what you want it to do.

How could you instruct something to behave the way the Golden Snitch behaves in the books, for example? “Fly around, fast and unpredictably, but not too fast. And keep yourself hidden, but not too hidden – no burrowing into the ground or someone’s pocket!”

After a long time of proper winter cold, the weather has turned warm, almost overnight, and the snow sticks together. Ingrid rushed out as soon as she heard this and made two snowmen before she tired.

It’s Thursday so it was Ingrid’s turn to cook dinner again.

Today we got hajkbomb, which is a meal that probably only those with a background in Swedish scouting will recognize. It’s a meal designed to be cooked over the hot coals of a campfire, but a normal kitchen oven works equally well. A “bomb” is an aluminium foil package filled with any kind of ingredients: chopped vegetables, potatoes, meat if you prefer, etc. (Potatoes and other harder veggies need to be pre-cooked.)

As is often the case, Ingrid likes things to be the same as they normally are, so the hike bombs in our family always consist of potatoes, salmon, bell peppers and one or two other child-friendly vegetables.

It’s a quick and simple meal and would probably take me about half an hour to prepare, plus some time in the oven. Peel and dice the potatoes, chop the rest while the potatoes are cooking, wrap into foil packages, season, done.

It took absolutely forever for Ingrid. 80 minutes, to be precise. I was so bored and itching to actually do something (other than hover around and be ready to help her when needed, remind her to turn off the stove, etc). I was needed often enough that I couldn’t go off and read a book for example, but not often enough to actually keep me busy. I could perhaps have been even more hands off and let her figure more things out on her own, but everybody was so hungry that I felt I needed to direct her a bit to speed things up somewhat.

It was just like watching a junior programmer take an hour to painstakingly solve a task that in my mind should take all of 10 minutes. Excruciating. Frustrating.

But just like a junior programmer can’t get any faster unless they get to spend that hour on a 10-minute task, Ingrid can’t learn to cook unless she gets to practise, on her own, without me interrupting to tell her how to do things faster.

In fact the process of cooking this dinner reminded me of pair programming. The senior programmer takes on the navigator role – keeping an eye on the goal, making sure the pair stays on the right track, warning of upcoming obstacles. The junior programmer does all the actual coding. Just like we cooked: me making sure we are moving in the right direction, Ingrid performing all the actual cooking.

When Ingrid was five, she seemed like such a big girl. Now that Adrian is five, he’s “half Ingrid’s age” and seems so young. Adrian of course sees himself as a big boy. And he is. His growing and development just sort of happen under the radar.

He just had a growth spurt recently when he was eating like a horse and then got hungry again two hours later. I think the peak of it is now behind us, but he can still eat adult-sized portions when he likes the food.

When he eats, he often still eats like a kid: the best pieces first. He eats the noodles first and leaves the veggies till later; picks the apple slices off his grilled sandwich and then eats the bread. And his time discounting is still pretty steep: given the choice between an OK dessert now and a great one later, he picks the former without hesitation.

He is still as curious as Ingrid is not. Space and the human body are two favourite topics, but he’s also interested in other areas of the world. He likes looking at flap books with facts for kids, making small experiments, and just talking about these things. Today at dinner, for example, he asked us if we knew that the human body is made of cells. Then we talked about space elevators, the distance to various planets, how long it would take to fly to Pluto, and how large the Sun is.

At preschool they made ice blocks by filling empty milk cartons with water and putting them outside, so he also experimented with making ice at home. (There are benefits to the ‐14°C weather we’ve been having: the water freezes fast.)

He’s also been spending more time on small crafts: painting and decorating little wooden toys, glueing and taping random objects to other random objects. Four strips of a broken rubber band to a small stone; old chestnuts to a dry stick. I think I might introduce him to the possibilities of a glue gun soon.

The constant Lego building is actually abating. Some days he doesn’t touch his Legos at all. For Christmas he got a long-awaited large Lego Chima set which took him many days of building – maybe he’s taking a brief break after that one. He still likes to browse the latest Lego catalogue and quite often asks when we can buy a new set. Lego Chima is no longer part of the Lego range; the newest thing is Lego Nexo Knights. Conveniently, the Nexo Knights sets are not available in stores yet, so the nagging is less than it might otherwise have been.

There is a Nexo Knights game app, though, which he has tried out. Right now he also likes Marvel Puzzle Quest – the match-three game mechanism is easy to grasp, and it’s got Marvel superheroes! Recently, as we were purging his iPad of apps he no longer uses, he rediscovered Dragon City and now plays it again. He likes breeding new dragons and feeding them as large as possible and ignores all the dull resource management tasks. I’ve been “putting on the food” for him at night so he has some food for his dragons each afternoon.

Making porridge

Ipad and Youtube use leads to learning English. He asks about words or confirms a guess. He is now also aware that he is learning it, and proudly tells me when he’s figured out a new word.

Too bad that English spelling is so hard. Spoken English only takes you so far in the modern, digital world: in order to get further you need to be able to spell so you can search for stuff on Youtube (or Toys R Us, or Google image search, or Spotify). He makes brave efforts (anggribödchAngry Birds) but they are generally doomed from the beginning.

Spelling in Swedish is easier. He may not get it 100% right but he can write so that others can understand what he means, and not just us. Like Ingrid, he masters writing before reading and it is not uncommon for him to write a word but then not be able to read it back again.

He likes numbers and counting. -teens and -ties are hard to keep apart, even though their names in both Estonian and Swedish are more logical than in English. We’ve spoken about how fyrtio means fyra tior and likewise in Estonian; I think it’s sinking in.

A few evenings he’s asked me to count for him instead of singing lullabies. He asked if I could count to one thousand and I promised I would. That day he was asleep by about 330. Today I barely got to 200.

Random tidbits:
Adrian started swim school last week. He was quite hesitant and didn’t really want to go at all. Afterwards he said he thought they would have to be in the deep pool, and I guess he must have been expecting other scary things to happen as well. But in the end of course he was just fine. He’s not like a fish in water, by far, but by the end of the first lesson he was at least blowing a few bubbles and not too bothered by splashes on his face either. It’ll take the time it takes.

When one of us is working late, he sometimes types small sweet messages and asks to send them by email. jag jilar dej and jag älskar dig jätemyke eric and papa jag elskrdej. In our family, he’s by far the one who most often tells others he loves them, or spontaneously hugs them. When I go to work in the morning, his good-bye to me always involves big hugs and at least three kisses (one on each cheek and one on my forehead). But while he loves all of us a lot, he tells me he loves Ingrid the most.


Pleased to have “upgraded” from 32 kg to 40 in kettlebell deadlift.

Adrian likes to glue random things to other random things: pieces of a broken rubber band to a smooth stone, a toothpick to a tube of glue, two wooden sticks to a block of wood.