Showing blog posts tagged with: being a family

Weekend outings

by Hilla Duka - View comments

all my boys by the water

A few weeks ago, following one of Ilir's "I've lived in this country for years and I've still not {insert random experience}" rants, we packed the kids into the car, and headed out to Sigtuna, to go touristing. Being able to just go places as we wanted was one of the main reasons for buying the car, but we haven't really been around that much. Never mind all the romantic ideas I had of going to remote places at our leisure, enjoying hidden gems away from the city, the car is mainly used for transporting kids and groceries. So when Ilir and the kids wanted to go somewhere, I was easily persuaded. Plus, I figured, I could take the camera and get some nice pics of the kids!

Little boathouse in Sigtuna

As we drove there, I realised I hadn't been there before either. We'd planned on going there before Christmas, to see their Christmas market, but time just ran away. We came to a little cafe by the water, which Ilir had looked up and were supposed to serve great waffles. Only the kids didn't want waffles, they wanted ice cream. And I didn't want waffles, I wanted a glass of wine. So Ilir grudgingly ordered one waffle, three ice creams and a glass of wine, all the while mumbling about what a difficult family we made up.

Milo eating ice cream by the water in Sigtuna


Jonathan having ice cream by the water in Sigtuna

And for the first time in his life, Jonathan actually couldn't finish his ice cream. He left it on the table where it was soon consumed by this fearless buggers:

fearless birds at the cafe


Jacob enjoying an ice cream in the sun


After our little fika we went exploring, me with camera in hand, of course. The kids found a tree, and were uncharacteristically happy climbing in it.


Jacob and Milo climbing in a tree

Milo posing on a tree branch

All three boys climbing a tree

They were not thrilled as we tried to coax them to leave their tree and go exploring the little town, but eventually let us persuade them as we started mentioning an old ruin, quite possibly haunted and very old.

Milo with a map to the ruin in Sigtuna

Milo found a map, and the kids started finding their way to the ruin. As none of us really knew where to go, it was quite fun to task the youngest member of our family with the important job of finding our way. He took it most seriously too.

The kids following the map to find the ruin in Sigtuna

No, this wasn't it. It was however a spot where the kids read "Jaguar" on one of the cars, and decided to consult the map to see if there was a zoo nearby.

Exploring quaint little houses in Sigtuna

Both the kids and Ilir fell a bit in love with the cute houses on the way, and eventually forgot about finding old ruins.


By the time we found the ruin, I was too tired to go exploring, and the kids had kind of lost their interest and wanted to go play football instead.

views of Sigtuna in the spring

After playing with the ball for a while we decided on a second fika. Partly because I was tired and the kids needed something to eat and partly because, well - why not?

Jacob having fika

Jonathan enjoying a homemade strawberry drink

And then, the kids high on sugary drinks and sweets and us equally pumped full of caffeine, we headed back to the car, happy and tired.

Ilir happy in the sun

Switching off

by Hilla Duka - View comments

golfängarna lake sundbyberg

Sometimes I have to turn it off. I take a pil and a deep breath and I all let the emotions just fall away.


Like when Jacob hesitantly says “They say you can die from cancer, mum?” And Jonathan - cocky, sure of himself, safe in his knowledge, answers “Not from that type of cancer, maybe from like heart cancer, mum can't die from her cancer, right mum?”


And it's bedtime and I really can't start to tell them horrible truths now, and how would they deal with it anyway and so I mumble some half truth, about how lucky I am to be living in a country with good medicines and how well I'm responding to treatment and how I'm not planning on leaving, and I wait until they're asleep and then I stumble out and can barely see for all the turmoil inside of me, I feel my way until I find my pills, I take a double dose because I need to feel nothing now, nothing at all. Because I feel both like a traitor and like a protector, I feel both very mortal and as if the idea of me dying is ridiculous, I feel everything and everything and I need to feel nothing.

I hate cancer. I hate it so deeply, with a vengeance for how it's hurting the people I love.

tulip closeup

Perfection lost

by Hilla Duka - View comments

fantasy whimsical forrest

I love change. I always have. It saddens me to think that because of everything that’s happened during their childhood, my kids will probably not be so positive towards change, but in my life - new circumstances are exciting! Leaving status quo is exciting. Trying new things, ideas, reading new ideas, learning, growing, all of that to me is life, the essence of living. Life never stays the same. For good or for bad.

Sometimes my family will have a go at me for always changing things interior decorating wise, or for the fact that this site has had a million different looks since I started it two, three years ago. It’s all true, but it’s because I love the change, not because I’m ambivalent. I think there is perhaps nothing more human than trying to achieve better than before, to improve or just try something different.

Lately to my delight there’s been a drawing frenzy at our house, somewhat sparked by me letting the kids order whatever they wanted me to draw and they could colour it. But I felt so deeply sad as I heard Jacob critically examine his latest drawing and axing it, saying “It’s just not perfect”. Of course it’s not! Pursuing perfection is dooming yourself to a life of never being good enough. No line we draw will be perfectly straight, and so what? Long live the wobbly lines, the mistakes, the not-good-enoughs! Why do we teach our kids to go after something that will only cause them unhappiness and doubt?

drawings of a hipster in a city and a girl walking a dog

Two completely imperfect doodlings that I will still say are good enough because they're mine!

So, this site has a new look, and a wobbly hand drawn header. I got to try using an off-canvas menu which I’ve wanted to try for a while, and use something I’ve drawn, and none of it’s perfect - thank heavens! It’s change, and that’s good enough I think.

Edit: this new layout truly is everything but perfect, as I ended up screwing up the editor, and now have to type html and have no way of uploading images... I'll work it out, sooner or later.

Being odd

by Hilla Duka - View comments

Jacob up close

By chance I happened to be at school today as one of my kids had a complete breakdown. As I soothed him, held him in my arms and helped him take deep breaths, the story unfold. Two other kids had made a drawing, of me. An exaggeratedly ugly drawing, showing me fat, with one eyelid hanging and no hair on my head. They were showing it to my son, saying how it was me and how strange I looked, and my son completely broke down.


My heart broke for him. Kids can be so mean, so thoughtless. How much more does he have to go through, this little man of mine, who’s already been through more than a child should have to deal with, when we already know that rougher times are ahead? Does he really have to deal with this as well?


I’m quite used to being the odd one out, but I’ve been spoiled in the sense that I’m not used to this affecting the kids. It’s a horrifying experience.


Fears and consequences

by Hilla Duka - View comments

Flowers in the hospital

The past week I’ve spent in the hospital, in the oncology part that I fear the most. Why was I there? Because I let fear take over my decisionmaking.


A week ago I finally gave up trying to pretend I only had acid reflux and headed to the emergency room, with what turned out to be an inflamed esophagus. A week I was there, hoping that maybe tomorrow I’ll get to go home, maybe tomorrow I could drink something, be in less pain. It was a week of no eating or drinking, anything. Of pain, fever, inflammation and infection, of longing and missing and hoping.

lovely flowers from my coworkers!

It turns out I’m allergic to one of my daily medicines, one I opted for taking as a pill every day rather than have to go in once every three weeks to get as a shot. Because I didn’t want anything that reminded me of doing chemo. My fear of chemo put me in the one place I fear the most, the oncology section.


Apart from how I hate being ill and stuck in a hospital (I actually went into a nervous fit when the nurse I spoke to on the phone said I would have to be committed!) it's been interesting and horrible to see how my absence has affected the kids. I saw them several times, and was even home for an afternoon, and it was subtle but a definite difference in how the kids behaved, the family feeling not really at a high. 


I missed the sensation of water flowing down my throat. I missed eating. I missed being home with my kids, and I missed taking pictures...At night I dreamt about snapping amazing photos, marvelling at the quality of my own pictures, at the sheer luck of being in the right place at the right time. Only to wake up and realise I never took those photos, that I was stuck in a boring and uninspiring room, staring at my own feet and a gray wall. It was a horrible week, one I hope I never have to live through again.

I hope that I will remember not to let fear rule my decisionmaking in the future, and I hope I can remember a bit of how grateful I feel right now, to be home with my kids, to be able to drink some water, eat on my own again. Truly, I'm so thankful to be home, and on the mend again!

Our cat Aidan about to leap

Valentines work

by Hilla Duka - View comments

fifties chair after restoration

You know someone truly loves you when they're prepared to spend Saturday refurbishing an old chair, just to make you happy.fifties chair before renovation

A while back, I bought this little fifties chair, that had definitely seen better days, with the plan to salvage what I could and give it new life. I love refurbishing old furniture, I feel like a detective peeling layer after layer off to see what's revealed underneath, then like a miracle doctor giving new life to a patient. Ilir however, does not share my fascination (obsession as he calls it), so for him to announce on Saturday morning "Right, lets get started then!" meant more to me than any amount of flowers. 

fifties chair legs during restoration

It took us most of the day, the front legs where lose, so we wriggled them out, applied new glue and tied together. 

painting the chair legs black

We scraped layer off of layer of crumbling paint, revealing water stained teak legs, that were then painted a matte black.

removing the fabric and padding from the old chair

Anyway, apart from the ickiness at times, it is now completely refurbished, and will see many more days in our living room! Way better than flowers and a card, right? 

our cat Dee looking suspicious

Our cats haven't really warmed to it yet, but I'm guessing it's just a matter of time before they scratch the new fabric off and find inventive new sleeping positions in/on it. And who knows, next time it might be one of my sons who refurbish it, shaking their heads and wondering what I was thinking...

Six months or fourteen years

by Hilla Duka - View comments


A lifetime ago, or at least fourteen years ago, in a desperate attempt to save a failing relationship, I planned a trip to London for valentines day, and for the occasion I wanted to book a table at my favourite restaurant. So I picked up the phone, and a man working there answered. He had an accent I couldn’t place and a deep softness to his voice, and I hung up feeling strangely overcome with emotions, only I couldn’t place them.


Anyway, I went on that trip, eventually broke up with my then-partner, cried my heart out and thought I would never find happiness or togetherness (in my head they were so intertwined they were practically synonyms), stayed single and learned how to do everything by myself, and it was a long time until I actually met him in real life.


And if someone would have told me that day when I spoke to him on phone, that years later I would marry that man, that he would be the father of my children, that he would end up taking care of me as I have gone through the hardest, most unexpected challenges of my life, that he would be the one who’s always there for me, I would have thought them mad. Sometimes he drives me crazy, but when push comes to shove, he’s home to me. Today we’ve been married for six months.


Life takes unexpected turns.