I’ve been holding on to this one for a while. But there’s no prolonging the inevitable. So with a bit of sadness, a lot of pride and some relief, here is the last instalment of our very first 365 project.
You’re a little man with a lot of style. It’s funny watching you become aware of the things you like and see how you choose them, like hats. A lot of kids refuse to wear hats, but you love them. You like getting new shoes and trying on new clothes. I’ve always tried to dress you less like a generic baby and more like an individual. I find most baby and toddler clothes too cute or just boring, but I reckon we’ve done quite alright in letting you have your own style.
It is images of moments like these that make me so grateful that we are a family that takes a lot of photos. To see you and your pappa so happy, so totally in love with each other makes me happier than I can ever express.
The past few months you’ve insisted on bringing various things for our walks. Sometimes it’s a toy car, other times it’s two or three cars, a train, a stick or a teddy (or baby as you call two of them). At times you can hardly carry it all, but you never leave them behind or throw them away in frustration.
I love a good dress up. Slowly you seem to be gravitating towards it too. I’ve put small things like bunny ears and swim goggles in your toy trunk and some days you’ll insist on wearing them wherever we go. I hope you grow up to be the kind of kid who will wear a cape and a mask, or a tutu and a tiara to the supermarket if you feel like it and not care what anyone thinks. Who knows, I might just wear one too.
Wow. A year in images. I can hardly believe it. One image every day and now it’s come to an end. How suiting it is that this last image is of you and your pappa together, the two people who are the very light of my life, the sun I gravitate around. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without either one of you. Thank you for loving me and thank you for letting me love you back. Always and forever.
It’s a bit bizarre to think that this project has come to an end. Despite being a couple of months behind in editing I must say it has been an incredibly rewarding project to do. Looking at the first image now blows my mind. From this little baby to this big boy in just one year. To refresh your memory, here is the very first 365 image:
Until next time, thanks for coming along on our journey so far. xx Dida
Oh captain, my captain, ruler of the tent with wide eyes and electric hair. Sometimes you’re so cute I fear I might eat you.
We had a play date with some friends in a new park. You were high and low, too excited to stay in one place for very long. There was a big play tractor there, an immediate hit with your vehicle obsession.
A walk during a brisk winter afternoon. We had started house hunting, but had no idea we would be moving as soon as we did and leave the place we brought you home from the hospital to behind.
It was almost an overnight thing that you started to care about stuffed toys. We got you this in Norway after a day in the animal park. You named him Mikka after Mikkel Rev (a common name kids use for fox in Norway) and he came just about everywhere. You were so gentle, so sweet.
There’s usually a couple of empty coffee cups floating around our house. Once you finish pretending to drink coffee like we do, it finds other uses. Sometimes it’s a hat.
whoa… there’s only 5 images left!!!
We didn’t do much those first few days back in Melbourne unless you count rolling around on the floor or in bed. We did a lot of that. We let jetlag run its course and did our best to adjust to everyday life again.
You just loved watching the big boys at the construction site next to our old house. They drove big trucks, played with big, noisy toys and sometimes lifted things high up into the air. That was by far your favourite bit. Our walks would usually come to a halt here and you would just stand there in awe watching.
You got your own little house, a small tent I picked up at the store. You were ecstatic! It was barely big enough to fit you and your pappa, but it didn’t matter. Your face was beaming and you kept laughing as you poked your head out the door to see if I was still there watching. We had already planned to get you a bigger one, but first we needed to find a bigger house for all of us.
During every bath time for a while you would “wash” hair by taking the foam and rubbing it on your head. Most of it would get on your face and you’d soon look like a little yeti. (Thank goodness for no tear, soap free bath products.)
What were you thinking as I stood over you with the camera? Your eyes have that special look, focused yet far away. I could look at you forever. You must be as close to an angel as they come.
These two. They both hold very special places in my heart. My nephew came to say a final goodbye on our last day in Norway. In some ways this was the hardest goodbye of them all. 7 years ago I left him as a little boy crying on the floor of his mum’s living room before going back to Australia, both of us heartbroken and unaware of how long it would be until we would see each other again. This year, after hugging him goodbye as many times as I could, I watched him walk down the street while I fought against every instinct telling me to run after. It better not be 7 years until next time. Please.
And then we were off again. To you it was just another day. Unaware of final goodbyes and the distance we were about to put between us and our families. There were more airports to run around in, new things to explore. Your happiness is so infectious it was hard to stay sad for very long.
You were running on fumes once we got to Kuala Lumpur. Your pappa and I were both exhausted, but you, you just kept running. I couldn’t be prouder of how you handled the long journey. Despite one massive meltdown you were a champion (as was I for being your human pacifier most of the time).
(iphone photo) Once we got home we slept and slept and slept. It was so nice to have our big family bed back. You surprised me again by sleeping for hours when I was sure of the opposite. Who would ever want to get up with you holding their hand?
(iPhone photo) After three weeks in the summer sun it was back to winter and woollen jumpers. We were so groggy, barely getting out of bed before crawling back in. Pappa went straight back to work for the Melbourne Webfest while we slept. When we finally woke and dragged ourselves out of bed he was back with us.
So because my metadata was on Australian date and time while we were in Norway I got confused and ended up with two images from the same day posted as two different days. So here’s the real 341 image.
Poor little man. You were eaten alive by mosquitos while we were at the cabin. I counted the bites on your face while you nursed, 60 just there. But you didn’t mind. You were still all smiles. My heart broke a little seeing you eaten alive, but with only more night to go we stayed on because to you it was all the same.
The three musketeers, the dog, your cousin and you. Like peas in a pod.
(Photo by Odd) Your grandpa P has wanted a photo with all his kids and grandkids for a long time. We’ve never been gathered all at once before and managed to pile together for a few frames. Out of all of them this is one of my favourites. We only got to spend two days at his farm, but it was two beautiful days with so many great faces.
Your face was beaming when your grandpa P let you sit in his tractor. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more. You were blissfully unaware, but I could see how heartbroken he was that we had to go in only a few hours. If he could I’m sure he’d let you sit there all day, he’d take you for a ride and spoil you rotten.
On our second last day in Norway we had already begun to say our many goodbyes. We tried to squeeze in as many hugs as we could. You took a ride on your great grandma Ruddi’s lap, finally overcoming the fear and making her your friend.
(More snapshots from our trip to Norway coming soon!)
After a hectic week in Kongsberg it was a relief to get in the car and drive to our cabin. You were so content roaming around outside, digging in the dirt, playing with the dog, and with your family, both Norwegian and Australians visiting. Besides millions of mosquitos, it was pure heaven.
So many new adventures to be had in new places. You watched intently as the boat was being put in the water. Waiting to see what would happen next, if you could join in or if it was safer to keep a distance and observe.
This is one of my favourite photos from this project and from our trip to Norway. It captures so well the love between you and your grandma M. My heart bursts a little just looking at it. Your face so serene, so full of joy in the arms of my mum. Two of the most important people in my life captured in a perfect moment.
You and your cousin are so different, yet so similar. He’s loud where you’re quiet and vice versa, kind of like your uncle and I. Which makes perfect sense seeing how you’re our boys. You played so well together, stopping to share a cuddle with each other and with the dog along the way.
You run when you’re happy and you’re so happy when you run. Your face shines with this particular smile that stops me in my tracks every time. Perhaps it’s the freedom of being outdoors, of feeling the grass beneath your feet and the wind on your face. I see this beaming smile so often, but it never fades, never gets old and it always makes my heart swell with more love than I ever thought possible.
You’re probably wondering why it’s taking me so long to finish the posting and editing of this project when the actual shooting ended in August… or you may not wonder at all. The answer, anyhow, is a lot. There simply isn’t enough hours in the day, but I’ll get there, eventually.
I love it when I capture you taking a moment. When you’re completely unaware of the camera, or simply don’t care that it’s there, just enjoying the feel of a shark (or a dolphin?) between your teeth and whatever your current view is.
The days were long and full of action while we were in Norway. You were still battling jet lag, always caught up in all the excitement. In between visits and new faces we did our best to make sure you had some much needed down time. Id’ sit in the back with you, sometimes holding your head to stop it from bopping around too much, and we’d drive around for as long as it took for you to have a good sleep. I think your pappa and I needed that time too, to tune out, to talk or to just listen to the radio.
Your first meeting with your great grandma, Ruddi. It was a bit exciting and a bit scary. You kept your distance for most of the visit, briefly getting close to check out her watch or her wheel chair. I’m so happy we got to spend some time with her, and thrilled that you two had a chance to get acquainted.
It was yet another first meeting. Grandpa PH popped up to say hello during the jazz festival in Kongsberg to treat you to a balloon, some cuddles and a big ice cream. You are so easy-going with new people, so trusting, but sometimes things are best enjoyed in the safety of pappa’s arms.
Grandma M’s yoghurt and muesli was so good you had to stick your entire face in the bowl to get the very last bits out. When the food’s really good I do the same.
We’d finally made it to Frankfurt on our way to Norway. You were being such an amazing little man despite having travelled far and not had much sleep. I was so impressed by you. We were all completely exhausted by this stage, but somehow you mustered up energy to run around while we waited to board the plane and make our way to what used to be our home town.
We live so far away from your grandparents. One of the things we enjoyed the most was watching you with them while we were in Norway. It’s a different kind of love, the one you share with them, and it’s beautiful.
We tried our best to ease into our time in Norway by spending a couple of days at a cabin in the woods. You were sick and jet lagged, we were all exhausted, but happy. And I finally got to introduce you to one of the people who mean the most to me, my oldest and dearest friend. And she loved you.
Having a quiet moment, hidden away in a corner. I adore watching you in moments like these, there is something about it I can’t quite put my finger on.
I remember my late granddad Bessa so well. I wish you could have met him. He was something special, he was one of the kindest, most amazing men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He made me a better person just for knowing him and being loved by him. You’re lucky, you have three granddads, all different, but all totally infatuated with you.
Little monkey boy. I’ve taken thousands of photos of you already, but every day there is something new, something slightly different. I occasionally wonder what you’ll think of the enormous image library we have of you when you grow older. Will you look at it with curious amazement? Will you think it is too much?
I now that face. It’s the cheeky face, the Ops, I didn’t see you there. I swear wasn’t doing anything…
“Bok. Bok, mamma.” (Bok is book in Norwegian.) I try my best to take the time to read to you as often as I can. You’ll pick a book and bring it to me, “Bok, mamma”, holding it up while looking at me with that little face that says please. You sit down on my lap and we read. Some books you’ll skip to your favourite part, particularly if we’ve made a funny voice for something. Most of them we have to read twice, and one is never enough.
I took you to the one of the local stores one day before our trip to Norway to get some things to bring on the plane. On the way in you spotted this weird looking tiger with huge eyes. You desperately wanted it and I thought it was a good size to bring on the plane. A few days before you’d been calling Hedda (one of our cats) Mammis and I suggested the tiger could be called that instead. I’m not sure what it was about this odd looking toy, but since then Mammis has been one of your trusted friends.
We were finally on our way to Norway. Our first stop was in Dubai. We had a bite to eat and spent the rest of the time running around, burning energy in hopes of a quiet trip ahead. (Post on traveling with a toddler here.)
You go quiet. Quiet worries me, it often means trouble, but not this time. This time I find you in deep concentration trying to put the Babushkas back together again.
Climbing everything is the new big thing. It seems that every time I turn around I find you climbing something else. It’s your own personal extreme sport. It doesn’t matter how often you fall down or how much you hurt yourself, seconds later you’re back on the horse.
Busy trying to get things ready for a photo shoot, I stop in my tracks as I see you standing at the upstairs window. The taxi driving the people next door to and from work has arrived. You watch them intently as they make their way inside before you spring back to life.
Your cheeks are still rosy from the cold air outside. I’ve stripped you down to your Slugs and Snails tights for dinner. It’s just you and me at home. You tell me all about your day between bites of food even though I’ve spent the whole day with you.
There are three kinds of family; the one you’re born into, the one you partner up with and the one you choose. Being Norwegian expats the two first are oceans away, but the third one is spread all over, with a large part living right here. Your family is as much Australian as it is Norwegian, and I’m so happy you get to grow up surrounded by so much love.
Nighttime is our time. As soon as you finish your bath, it’s all about you and me. Your little hands pull me closer and hold me tight. You drink my milk and for a while we just quietly smell each other in the dark.
Waking up from an afternoon nap, like a teddy bear coming out from hibernation. Seeing you in your little pram cocoon it’s easy to forget you’re no longer a little baby.
This big thing I keep pointing at your face, what is it really? It keeps popping up everywhere, making funny sounds, obscuring familiar faces. You peek at the photos on the little screen, completely enthralled by the magic it holds.
You wake up as the car pulls up in front of our house. It was nearing the end of a big day out. The light hitting you perfectly, pulling you out of that sleepy darkness.
Your little bushy head poking up from the sofa just in time to spot a truck passing. Your face still wearing that sleepy bliss from the nap you just had, so full of excitement.
(seems there was a bit of sleepy theme to this one!)
You’re a cool dude with ‘tude. Despite feeling desperate for time to slow down, perhaps even to stop for a bit, I can’t wait to discover the little man you’ll grow into.
It’s incredible the amount of joy you bring. I adore watching you capture the hearts of my friends, drawing them closer and making them your own.
We spent an afternoon running around Darebin parklands for another location scout. The sun was warm and low, the remnants of a flood still pinned to the landscape.
One of my favourite times of day is when we all get down on the floor to roll around, laugh and be silly. Forgetting about dirt, dust or chores, forgetting the difference between big and small, to meet right in the middle.
Next time the zombie shuffle rolls into Melbourne we should take you. You could totally pull off doing your own makeup. I wonder if you’ll grow up to love zombie movies, if you’ll enjoy creating, if you’ll want to discover the world of everything art.
You look like a true Norseman roaming the hood on a Melbourne winter day in the knitted outfit one of your aunties sent. People often stop to comment on it, unfamiliar with the traditional Norwegian Marius jumper.
I’m still in awe of the fact that you came from me. That I grew someone so wonderful and so incredibly beautiful as you. I never tire of watching you and I’m constantly amazed by the things you do. This is it, this is what it’s all about, this is what true unconditional love feels like.
At your friend’s house you found a necklace and a pink stroller that immediately captured your attention. I watched you play with them, thinking to myself how wonderful it is that you are still too young to care about stereotypes. Then it was time to sample someone else’s lunch.
You went though this phase where you wanted to wear swim goggles every time you had a bath. You were Captain of the bath, captor of great white sharks and commander of bubbles.
Your dog, your personal time out pal. Always there and ready for a hug. You often stop to have a break and give it a cuddle. We haven’t given it a name yet, perhaps it’s time we did.
The road from high to low is usually a short one. One moment you’re all smiles and laughter, the next your world crumbles. It’s not always easy understanding why things sometimes turn so quickly, and I bet it’s not easy when you lack the words to explain.
(Note: There’s been a lot of debate around photographing and publishing images of children crying. I never photograph my son when he is sick, hurt or in any real distress. As this is a documentary project of a year in my son’s life, and of our journey with him as his parents, I feel that it would not be very accurate nor true if I never showed him crying. The images of him crying are almost always taken from a set, in which most times the frame before he was not. I do not go out of my way to photograph him when he cries, nor do I ever make him cry for the camera. I do not in any way feel that this image ridicules, belittles or taunts him, nor is it an attempt to embarrass him.)
The vacuum is quickly becoming a new favourite toy. It’s rarely found where we left it and now answers to horse, car and, very occasionally also, the vacuum.
Never the one to miss an opportunity to practice your charms on the ladies. You wait impatiently to get within reach, ready to tilt your head and show those pearly whites. You’re perfecting the art of wrapping people around your finger. I should know, I’m often the first to go.
I remember this day so well. Frustrated and tired, we battled our way on and off through the day. And then this happened. You were looking out the window so intently, the light fell so perfectly on your face. I shot a series of images, almost all of which came out amazing in one way or another. In these moments what happened before was forgotten, all I saw was perfection, your perfection.
The older you get, the funnier you are. You clearly have jokes you play on us, though we sometimes don’t understand them. You’ve learnt how to control a room full of people, that your laughter is infectious and that most of the time the immediate world revolves around you.
You’re a funny little jedi. You never stop seeking some reciprocation in your play with Quincey, always seeking him out, hoping that today might be the day he plays along.
We went for a long stroll through the park in the winter sun. The very best bit is the small gathering of trees right at the edge. It’s almost like a miniature forest, just your size.
A surprise Sunday visit from some friends. We had a play outside, went for a long walk and finished off with a lunch.
I draw an M for Mamma, a heart and an A for Anakin while I say “Mamma elsker Anakin!”. You listen and watch. You start drawing and I can hear you doing your best to repeat my words, but they’re hard to say. “Mamma… elske… mamma…” My heart melts.
We walk the neighbourhood drawing cats and hearts in different coloured chalk. The afternoon light is warm and spectacular.
Sometimes the best course of action after a long week is to have a nap and let you run around while gambling that the other one of us will pick up the slack. It’s called responsible parenting. One day we’ll tell you all about it.
These things called hats go on your head. I often say “Må ha på hatten” when we go out and you know this means that the hat stays on your head. You’ve started trying on our things; shoes, clothes, hats. They don’t often go where they’re supposed to, but you sure rank high on every adorable scale while trying.
Lover of all books. We read every book in the shelf, some days the same one over and over and over again. Some books you read to us. Some are better than others. Some are so good you can recognise it by looking at the spines of all your books for just the right one.
Things aren’t always what we see them as, or at least they don’t have to be. I see a clothes rack, you see a make-believe horse you can ride or perhaps it’s a car or a bike. You sit there making sounds pretending to do whatever it is you’re doing and I envy your devotion to the fantasy.
There’s nothing better than the three of us. There is no place I would rather be, nothing I would rather do and no one I would rather spend my days with than the two of you.
It’s a rare thing that you say no, thanks to any sort of home cooked food. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled so far, most of the time you happily chow down the most surprising things. But this time it was a no, thank you to blueberry pancakes.
We wander the neighbourhood. You inspect every nook and cranny, excitedly pointing out little treasures you discover. I wonder what attracts you to every hole or every bit of trash, and what turns it into such a treasure.
Quincey is becoming an elderly man. What in the beginning was mutual affection and excitement is becoming more and more one-sided as you struggle to learn how to control and restrain yourself.
You can’t understand why your dear Quincey would give you the cold shoulder. You look at me and ask me, in your own little way, to please fix it. But I can’t fix it, only you can.
Sometimes the simplest things are the ones that give you the most joy. A takeaway coffee cup. You pretend to drink coffee like we do. You walk around, stop and take big pretend sips.
We were kissed by summer for a few short days after the cold had sunk its teeth into our flesh.
Judging by the look on your face you’re pondering something. Quincey awaits his brush, his favourite thing, but I doubt he’ll get it this time.
Vacuuming has become a task that takes three times as long, but is equally three times as fun to do with you around.
It was mother’s day and you were doing your bit to help pappa clean the outside furniture and get it ready and packed away for winter.
We watch the hail, safe inside in the warmth. You put your hand on the glass, eager to get out, yet apprehensive of this thing you’ve never experienced before.
I love the Australian landscape. We took you location scouting to Laughing Waters and you were a little Norwegian bear roaming the Australian bush.
Ben Salter played a gig at our friend’s house during his backyard tour. It was your first ever concert. Ben was mightily impressed by your name and your hats, you were fascinated by his music for a few minutes and then found an open door somewhere.
Come here, let me hug you and tell you all my secrets.
First time finger painting. Just as I said “I’m impressed he’s only gone for the paper”, your hands found a new canvas on your head and your face. Just as they’re supposed to.
After winter set in summer came back to visit us for a brief couple of days. We made the most of it and threw off our woollen beanies and thick jackets, and soaked up the sun.
Since having you I’ve changed in so many ways. My awareness of how what I say or do effects you grows bigger with every day. And the way you look at me changes how I see myself. (Read my reflections on self-image here.)
One day soon you’ll find the words to tell me what you’re thinking about. I can’t wait to hear all the things you have to say.
Your love for old Quincey is so adorable, and to him so overwhelming.
By next summer your feet will reach the pedals on your trike. Some days I look at you and all I see is my baby, and other days all I see is my boy who suddenly looks so big.
I’m sure you two will make good friends very soon. You just need to learn that Quincey is not for sitting on, planking, kicking or hitting. All he needs is love, all you need is patience.
When you were a baby I used to think you looked more like me than your pappa. As you grow older I think you look more like just you, with the best from both of us.
Sometimes I miss how easy things were before you mastered the art of walking and running. Everywhere is more exciting than just where we are, there’s always something to explore around the next corner.
It’s only fair that you should get to brush your pappa’s teeth when he gets to brush yours.
You’ve discovered that there’s someone in the house you’re bigger than. An added bonus is that he’s fluffy and cuddly, but you need to be gentle.
Another night, another successful mexican (dinner) face.
A walk after dinner, exploring the neighbourhood and doing some train spotting. (See the rest of the series here.)
Your “I love Mexican” face. It gets me every time. A face full of black beans, guacamole and salsa, and a smile as bright as the sun. What’s not to love?
You were waiting for the train to pass. You’d heard it in the distance. You didn’t know it, but you had this special look on your face. I pressed the shutter knowing that I had captured something pure.
“Let me show you where the dummy goes.” You sit down to help your friend put the dummy back in his mouth. A cuddle and a pat on the back and you reckon he’s good to go.
The look of awe on your face when we took you to see the penguins at the aquarium. I want to remember that glowing look forever. You were so excited, pointing and laughing. For ten minutes it was the best thing you’d ever seen. Then you discovered a door that went nowhere.
In a sea of blue there is you. A little big man, exploring a new jungle, mapping out new territory.
Having a bit of a sand drink. They say it’s dry and earth-like. You give it 4 out of 5.
Sunday football with the Spartans. Your uncle Bubbles holding you up so you can see what’s going on out on the pitch. So many boys! So much happening!
That look that says “But why can’t I take all your stuff out of the drawers? You keep all the good things in here. Credit cards, keys, oh I love keys. Headphones, receipts, pens, sunglasses… Have you seen how those sunglasses bend? Let me show you… ”
Tiny dancer in the alleyway, floating on air, dancing in the dark.
I have the best view from up here when I look down at you holding my legs asking to be picked up. I have an even better view when I pick you up.
You, me and a purple toy car at the playground. We all go down the slide, roll in the grass and soak up the sun.
You keep amazing me with your love of good food and the variety of what you eat. As long as it’s fresh, wholesome food packed with flavour you’ll eat it. You are truly a joy to cook for.
I love old photo booths. The tangibility of the whole process from capture to print. The streaks and smell of the chemicals, the odd spots and discolouration. I remember how exciting I thought having my photo taken in one was when I was younger. I hope that by taking you to have ours taken together as often as I can we’re extending the life expectancy of these soon to be relics while also creating some different photographic keepsakes for ourselves.
You’re king of the castle, ruler of the household, captor of my heart.