Speaking of children and eating, I find their food preferences quite puzzling sometimes.

Today’s dinner included roast sweet potatoes. (The little curly thing in the photo is a sliver of lemon zest.)

Both Ingrid and Adrian love roast potatoes, and potatoes in general in almost any shape and form. Both also love most sweet vegetables, such as carrots, peppers, and corn. But sweet potatoes – no.

And at the same time they can be quite fond of things that are not at all as “eager to please” the palate as most vegetables. Garlic bread, for example, is one of their great favourites, and I’ve never heard them complain about too much garlic in the food. (As long as it isn’t raw.)

Ingrid is gradually outgrowing the age of general food scepticism and is usually happy to try most meals I cook. She even ate some feta cheese recently, quite voluntarily. Adrian is more conservative – his sandwiches are all still just bread and butter, and I have to coax him to try a piece of tomato.

Sometimes one of their friends stays for dinner, and then I’m reminded just how much I challenge the kids’ taste buds. Whenever another kid eats with us, I know I have to cook the dullest food I can stomach. Even then, I see the other children separate the food on their plate and push it around and leave half of it. “I’m not so fond of this or that.” “I’m not very hungry.”


Lemon merengue pie, for Ingrid’s birthday party.

Twelve eleven-year-olds were an interesting party crowd to have. Mostly of the time they seem so grown. They eat lemon merengue pie instead of ice cream with sugar sprinkles. They have party decorations in silver and black. They mostly don’t need adults to entertain them or to arbitrate in their games, unlike younger kids. There are no tears because a piece of cake fell over, or because someone got a pink straw but wanted a green one.

But there were times when I was clearly reminded that they are still children. Especially when they get tired. When they couldn’t agree on whose turn it was to hold the pen for some part of the treasure hunt, or when someone thought that the others were doing it wrong, they really weren’t that different from a bunch of pre-schoolers – they still needed an adult to coax them through it, so the party could end without fights and tears.


In the evening, when they’ve done their things and run out of screen time and bedtime is approaching, the kids often come to me, looking for company. Often I am tired at that hour. Sometimes too tired to want any company, but not always. So then we do something quiet. With Adrian, it’s often reading. Sometimes with Ingrid as well. Or we may work on a jigsaw puzzle, or colour together.


This is what the hallway looks like when Ingrid has a few friends over.

We’ve trained Ingrid and Adrian to at least put their shoes, bags and clothes to one side of the hallway, so it’s possible to get inside without stepping on stuff. But I guess they only do it because we keep nagging at them, not because they actually agree that it makes sense to do things this way. Apparently it doesn’t bother kids at all to have stuff lying around all over everywhere. Ingrid’s room is the same – there are things spread out over the floor and I have to watch where I step when crossing the room.


Already from a distance I could see that Ingrid was tired from the hike. She tends to get too little sleep on these things – can’t fall asleep, too cold during the night, has to get up for a trip to the loo, wakes up too early… I remind her every time to pack extra warm sleeping clothes, and every time she ignores the advice.

This afternoon she was close to collapsing, physically and mentally. She also insists that she is unable to fall asleep during the day. Well, I got Miss Unable To Sleep to lie down at least. She was fast asleep in ten minutes, and slept until I woke her three hours later.



Stacks of sacks of fertilizer make a perfect playground for kids with too much energy and no fear of getting dirty.

 
 
A simple breakfast can take a long time when the world around you is so full of much more important things to think about. Such as all the text on each package on the kitchen table. (Learning to read definitely did not help make meals go faster.) And the ceiling. And whatever is happening outside the window. And just about everything else.




I am tired, and especially tired of organising and managing things for other people, including my kids. But a birthday is a birthday, so I dredge up some energy and do my best to make it a fun day for Adrian. I don’t think he’ll remember it as his best birthday ever.

Admiring the view from the east side of Kärsön, towards Nockeby…

… and doing the same from the west side of Kärsön, towards Drottningholm.

Kärsön is a small island in lake Mälaren, mostly covered with forest. It is easy to get to by car, has a lot of walkable paths, and offers nice views in all directions. All set for a day of great walking.

The kids weren’t super excited about the idea of walking to begin with, but also did not want to stay at home, which was an option for Ingrid at least. They got markedly less excited the longer we walked. So instead of a relaxing nature walk I got about three hours of “are we done yet”. (The first hour was OK, with little to no complaining.) The net effect was a slight negative. So I still need my dose of peace and quiet and nature, so will be going for a new hike next weekend, with no kids.




Taevaskoda, “Heaven’s Hall”, one of the most scenic spots in Estonia with sandstone cliffs next to a winding river. Do the kids spend any time appreciating the view? No. They found a Pokestop.