A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, for the 3rd year of his life.
Anakin: Bath time, bed time… these rituals we’ve had since you were born that have slowly evolved, slowly (yet way too fast) seen you grow up and more independent. I know, I say this a lot, but you’re growing up so fast. But it is also at night-time I most often see how little you still are and how much you are still my baby. Too tired, too overwhelmed, you sometimes fall to pieces and the only thing in the whole wide world that will soothe you is being wrapped up in my arms while we ride it out together. I think we both need those moments just as much as we need the laughs, the hugs and all the good times. Perhaps it is in those fragile moments I grow the most as a mother.
I started writing a bit this week, but I’ve been too tired to finish anything. By nap time in the afternoon all my good intentions vanish and I’ve just needed to relax and catch up on rest. I’m not very good at resting or taking it easy, but the past few weeks have been brutal and made me realise I can’t keep this up. It means things slow down and take time, but I just can’t keep pushing myself. I’ve tried to keep activities local and to half days. I try not to do too much housework, which is hard when everything desperately needs a good clean. I’ll vacuum two rooms and have to lie down because I’m just out of breath. It so different this time around. The baby is much more active than I can remember Anakin being. Perhaps it is just that I feel it better this time around, but it’s always on the move. It’s so far down that I can pull my shirt up and see the pokes from the outside already. Driving back and forth to Bendigo today to take down my show was hard. The baby was pushing down and making it so uncomfortable to sit that I started wondering how on earth it will feel by the end. Please, little baby, use the space that’s there while you have it. You can’t stay doubled up at the bottom all the time!
I’ve been having this strange feeling of things moving too fast lately. As if something is slipping away from me. I look at you and I can’t believe all the things you can do and say, the level of things you understand and how refined your interactions with the world are. And you’re only two. All the clichés are true, time goes too fast. There are so many first and lasts. And I am finding myself scared of forgetting them all, and terrified of missing any of them.
I want to remember these things.
Like how you love to nibble on parsley and rosemary, and how you pronounce rosemary (rosmarin in Norwegian) Ros-atte-min.
Like how you call a police man a police car man (politibilmann).
Like how last night was the first time you let your pappa put you to bed since you were a tiny baby. We made a deal that I would feed and cuddle you in your room and then you and pappa would read and sing in our bed. And it went as smooth as if it was something you’d always done.
Like how today after a day of highs and lows you decided to forgo your normal bath and go to bed early. And it was the first time you didn’t ask for milk, and I didn’t offer. I want to remember how sad and happy that made me at the same time. I want to remember how you asked me to put my head on your tummy and sing while you stroked my hair and how you laid next to me for close to an hour just snuggling. Your little hands touching my face, feeling my eyebrows and the contours of my lips. How you laid there looking into my eyes for ages with a slight smile. As if you knew the significance of it all and wanted to make sure I felt just as loved as before.
Like how your face absolutely lit up when I hang your paintings on our wall and how you kept looking at them, so proud and so stoked that your art means something, that it means enough to be hung on the wall next to our art.
Like how your imagination is running so free now. You make up songs and change lyrics. How you can sit completely still for 40 minutes listening to an audio book and how you start acting it out afterwards. Your vocabulary, in both languages, is far beyond your age.
I so desperately want to remember you like you are right now. I feel I have already forgotten so much of how you were when you were smaller. I want to remember it all.
You truly are a magnificent person. I can only imagine what an amazing man you’ll grow up to be. I hope that when you do you’ll remember some of these things too, and remember that you were loved so deeply, so completely and so unconditionally.
Yours always, Mamma xx
Superheroes aren’t that rare. In fact, I’d say they’re quite common when you start to think about it, if superheroes are people with superpowers that is. I’m not talking about people who can fly or shoot lasers through their eyes, I’m talking about people who do extraordinary things as part of their everyday life. Like this guy.
Just an everyday superhero. Helping out as much as he can in his own way, bringing sunshine on the darkest day and showering everyone he comes across in unconditional love. Because making people feel great and beautiful for being exactly who they are is a superpower.
Golden cape Panda Boy. What a guy.
The small joys, the big discoveries.
You love listening to music. Probably even more so of late than before. Now you ask for very specific songs or albums, the same ones again and again and again. I let you borrow my headset one day and for a while you were lost to the world, just sitting there looking out the window, listening to music and taking it all in. I saw myself sitting there, a smaller version, but still me.
Life before you was one where I never left the house without music glued to my ears. It was my protection, my bubble, like an extra skin I wore to shelter myself from the world. I used to love just sitting somewhere, preferably on a train or a tram, just looking out the window while listening to music, lost in thoughts, trying to be temporarily invisible.
These days I’d rather listen to the world when I have a moment alone.
Your latest song infatuations are: Bjørk- Play Dead, Bjørk- Unravel, Bonobo- First Fires and Moomin songs.
There just isn’t enough time these days. (I feel like I always say that, but it’s never not true.) I’ve stepped away from blogging for a bit, not from posting photographs, but from writing. Mostly because I have needed to focus on writing my thesis and planning the remaining shoots, and also because I have been busy trying to get my homemade micro brand of kids stuff, Little Horrors, off the ground. It is all just taking a very long time to set up a shop, sew stock and photograph it when juggling with a full-time toddler and a terrible summer on top of my Masters.
But alongside all of those reasons there were some trolls (not the large, hairy kind) that made things less pleasurable and just made me tired of the whole thing for a while. But I’ll get back into it.
Anyways, as I mentioned in my previous 52 post I had a really hard time choosing between photos last week. I figured I’d show you the ones that got away, plus some from the weeks before.
Week 4: Taking a pause from playing guitar.
Week 4: The days are too hot for us to go outside, but once the sun goes down we come out to run around and drench ourselves.
Week 6: Looking at reflections
Week 6: Eating a snack and thinking hard about something.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not possible to have too many photos of your children. Particularly the good ones.
Happy Friday! xx
The sun finally came back today to warm our faces after a week of rain. We spent the day recharging our batteries playing outside, feeding and chasing ducks, and doing a bit of healthy cooking (and eating).
In a couple of weeks we head off on a much needed family holiday. This week we’ll have to start planning it and start making lists over what to bring and what we need to get before we go. I can’t wait for a week of fun in the sun with my boys. Beach, sand, pools and blue skies!
Hanging with Anakin is (almost) always an adventure. I’m reminded of how full of magic the world is through young eyes and how much the little things are what matter the most.
I think I’m falling in love with our new neighbourhood, with our house and with spring.
I love the flowering trees in our yard, the curious little boy who stops to smell all the flowers (and tries to eat them) and the feeling of a fresh start.
I love the warmer days, and the sound of the wind and the birds. I love how everyone we meet says hello and smiles.
I love taking walks with Anakin around our neighbourhood. I love how he picks up small things, acorns and twigs, clasping them in his little hands like small treasures and carries them home.
I’m falling in love all over again. An overwhelming feeling of being in the right place, at the right time, with just the right people.
Have I told you how much I dislike moving?
It’s not that I don’t like settling in to a new place, that’s the exciting bit. It’s the packing and the unpacking, and the constant clutter and tripping over boxes that goes on for weeks that really gets me. It’s the boxes and bags with things that just don’t belong in any specific place, the homeless in a home. I particularly don’t like those. They’re almost impossible to get rid of. You know the ones, the ones that got packed the very last with small bits and pieces from all over the house, the ones with all that stuff from that drawer full of all kinds of things, the one you just kept stuffing things into that you didn’t know where else to put or that didn’t get packed with the rest of the things from that “area”. Those. They drive me crazy.
Then there’s reorganising and re-hanging all your clothes. The new wardrobe smaller than the one you used to have. So many clothes that don’t fit anymore, but you can’t bring yourself to throw them all away because maybe, just maybe one day you might be able to squeeze back into that amazing dress you bought and had altered to fit perfectly just before you got pregnant and rose like a dough. Before your lungs expanded to be able to take in more oxygen for your growing peanut, before your hips got wider and your bum decided to migrate south. That dress. The one that taunts you because you love it so.
I did good this time, I threw out three garbage bags full of gems. Dresses, oh so many dresses, just gone, out of my life forever. And shoes, a garbage bag full of shoes. My mum would be proud.
Then there’s all the artworks, gently wrapped and stacked on tables and shelves. Just waiting to be hung, but they’ll have to keep waiting because as a renter you have to apply for every hook and nail you want to put in, for every tiny alteration you may make there has to be a negotiation and a promise to fork out the cash if you ever so slightly stray from the agreed path. So they sit there, taking up space for all those other things that live on shelves and tables, who then have to find themselves other temporary places. And so it snowballs creating an unsightly and mind-boggling mess.
And why is there never any storage space? Don’t all people have stuff to store? Who are these minimalists who don’t need these things? For the love of sanity, make more storage space! Then perhaps I could hide those damn boxes…
There’s the back and forth from the old house to the new house. Oh we forgot this and that, and where is this thing? Have you seen my, I can’t find my… Is it clean? What needs to be done? Why is this over here? How did that break? What do you mean the cleaners don’t clean blinds?
Then there’s the little boy who discovers that climbing boxes is a great way to get attention and to fall down, again and again. There’s so much to discover! Look at this box, it’s not closed, oh it’s full of washing things and other poisonous stuff that mummy and daddy have temporarily forgot that they put somewhere he might climb and get to. Good thing he likes to show off when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to. Then climbing and getting forbidden stuff becomes old, but no one really has any time to play or do anything fun because there are more boxes to move, more packing and unpacking. Better throw a tantrum to get some proper attention. And then nighttime arrives and finally there is time to be close.
Moving is sort of a gamble isn’t it? You see a house, you think “yeah, this is the one. I like this one.” Then you apply and get it and whoopdedo, right? But then comes all the things you didn’t see when you looked at it and couldn’t know before you lived there. Like the shelves not having vinyl on them or that the vinyl is really old and peeling, because you didn’t have time to open every cupboard and play house detective. Or that the drawers were full of dust, or that the floor is really cold, or that the washing machine has live outside on the patio.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love our new house even with all those bits I didn’t know and that may not be ideal. I just don’t like the process of moving. It takes too long and those boxes are driving me crazy.
Just give me a few more days to get over myself… and those boxes, and I’ll show you our new house. Right now I just need to put my face in a glass of wine (or two) and see if ignoring said boxes will make them go away.
I don’t know about you, but jet lag really does my head in. I’ve never been one of those people who bounce back within a couple of days. It takes me at least a week when heading to Europe and closer to two when heading back to Australia. Needless to say I was dreading what jet lag would do to a 19 month old toddler. Here’s how that went down.
Before we left I did as much research as I could about how to deal with kids and jet lag. There isn’t all that much tangible information out there, but I found a few things here and there that gave me a few ideas to try. At least I was preparing myself for a potential chaos. Right? umm… yes.
Australia to Norway
From Australia to Norway the time difference currently sits at 8 hours. I had read that young children could take as many days to adjust as there is hours in difference between home and the destination. I tried my best to be aware of Australian time as much as I could during the first days to better understand how Anakin was experiencing his days.
Of course, all routines went out the window the first day never to return. Yes, i cried on the inside. Coping with new sleeping spaces and bright summer nights was hard. The first few nights Anakin would wake up around 3-4 am. I was prepared for this and knew he was probably hungry, so we got up and had a bite to eat. I kept him up for a little bit (1-2 hours) playing very quietly before going back to bed to have a bit more sleep. This worked surprisingly well.
Local meal times
Once we got to Norway we immediately switched to local meal times. We obviously adjusted a bit the first few days by offering bigger snacks between, but made sure dinner happened as close to local dinner time as possible. This definitely helped us adjust faster. Anakin is used to eating at the same times every day so his body clock needed to work out this new schedule in a bigger way than we did.
New sleep spaces
Our bedtime in Australia had a very specific routine. Once we got to Norway this vanished and Anakin was faced with new sleeping spaces all the time. This was less than ideal and had a huge impact on him. I thought it was hard myself, and I’m supposed to be an “adaptable” adult, for him it was terrible. We tried as best we could to replicate as much as possible of our old routines, like bath before bed and bedtime breastfeeding, but the shit still hit the fan in a big way most nights in the first week. It was impossible to get him down in a portacot so we started co-sleeping full-time. This helped make Anakin feel safe when he woke up at night and found me next to him. Naps were equally impossible and would only occur in a car or in the stroller. Needless to say there was a lot of walking.
Milk supply and comfort
The first days in Norway Anakin would feed a lot during the night and not much during the day. This was partly due to his days being upside down still, but also because my milk supply needed time to adjust. Anakin would seek out the breast for comfort the whole trip and would feed more frequently than he did before we left. We also started doing the feeding lying down at nighttime, which he, for better and worse, loves. It was a big adjustment for me to go back to night feeds and I can honestly say it was the trip that nearly broke my will to continue breastfeeding.
It’s a huge adjustment for a small child to travel far and be exposed to all new things and people. We were more or less constantly on the go and Anakin was surrounded by new people wanting to engage him all the time. The first few days he rejected both me and my partner except at nighttime, everything was exciting and it was all systems go constantly. By the end of the 5th day he had reached a peak and had a massive three-hour meltdown at bedtime. It wasn’t pretty and I’ve never seen anything like it. After this Anakin became very clingy and would stay close to me most of the time.
Norway to Australia
I was really nervous about how coming back would play out. We landed in Melbourne at 1am and Anakin had slept quite a bit on the last stretch here. By the time we went to bed at home it was 4am and I was only expecting a couple of hours of sleep. Everything I had been told and had read said it would take longer to adjust coming home than it did going over.
The first morning we slept from 4am to 12.30. Anakin fell asleep without trouble next to me and happily snoozed for hours. There were no naps that day and we kept bedtime to the same time as usual. At 7pm he was asleep again and slept for just over 2 hours before waking up as I went to bed. After being awake for an hour, but staying in bed the whole time, he fell back asleep and slept all the way until 12.30 the next day again, as did I. I can honestly say he’s never slept for that long in his entire life.
After the initial sleepathon was over we started to see the other side of the jet lag. Anakin would go to sleep at his normal time, but wake again 1-2 hours later. He would then stay awake anything from 1-4 hours. We didn’t get him out of bed, but stayed there with him until he fell back asleep. This continued for over a week.
Night feedings and wake up times
Anakin started feeding at night again, and would wake up around 4am for a feed. He’d then go back to sleep. For the first few days he would sleep until 8.30-9, then it became 7.30-8, then 6.30-7, and now, almost 4 weeks later he still wakes at 4 demanding boob, which he does not get, and then sleeps on and off until 5.30 when he decides it’s time to start the day. Our hopes of maybe getting a somewhat normal start time of 6.30 has vanished. After Anakin started demanding boob every hour from 4, I decided it was time to stop his night feed as it did not look as if he would stop on his own. We’re still working on getting rid of the 4am wake up, but with no luck so far.
Naps coming back was a big issue I wanted resolved quickly. Anakin does not sleep well in the pram and will only do short naps if you keep him on the move constantly. And I do mean constantly. No stopping for anything and no going indoors anywhere as this will wake him up. I tried co-sleeping for naps, but that simply did not work. I then decided to give the cot a go again, making sure to wind him down with a bit of a feed beforehand. I discovered that his baby call has music it plays for about 10 minutes before stopping. I put this on and laid next to his cot holding his hand. Surprisingly this worked from the first day and is still the way we do nap times now. I guess the boy deserves credit for being more adaptable than I thought!
Coming back definitely wasn’t as bad as I feared. And co-sleeping full-time is something I really enjoy doing. Anakin goes to sleep content, generally stays asleep, except his 4am boob alarm, and wakes up happier than ever. The difference in him is quite noticeable. I also sleep better knowing that he is right there, there is no baby call to listen to and no need to get out of bed. Besides, I love getting night hugs and feeling his warm body next to me. We have been bedsharing part-time for a while, but I much prefer it the way it is now.
(All images are Instagrams @didajenta)