Now that the weather’s nice, we get multiple requests for “Ousside? Ousside?” each day. When we are ousside, she mucks about in the dirt of the garden, inspects every flower (or “flowerfly,” if you are Owlet), giggles on the swing till she hiccoughs, picks up rocks and carries them to new places, and picks up as many sticks as she can till her hands are full. And then she stands and stares at the ones in her hands, wondering what to do with them, because there’s another stick on the ground, right there, and if she lets go of the bouquet of sticks with one hand to reach for it the ones she’s holding will fall, and that will be a crisis of unimaginable proportion.
She adores pine cones, dandelions, standing on manhole covers and crouching down to poke her fingers in the grooves and holes, and stopping to talk to random people on the sidewalk. One of her latest obsessions is the small bell tower around the corner. We can see it from our back porch, as a matter of fact. Every day as we pull into the driveway she asks two things: “Flowerflies?” If I tell her no, we can’t spend half an hour in the front garden examining every single flower that is currently in bloom, she asks, “Bayels?” We walked once to the church to look at the bells, and now she asks to do it several times a day. Most of the time it’s a nice way to kill twenty minutes, especially in the early morning after we’re back from dropping Sparky off at school, but sometimes I have stuff to do, and it’s not a convenient time.
She is also currently enthralled with bugs of all kinds. She is especially fond of bees; bee-bugs (which are ladybugs); fufferfies (we get this one mixed up with flowerflies a lot, to her frustration); and nails (snails: she pointed at the spiral in Ceri’s seal tattoo the other day and informed her that there was a snail in it). We have recently managed to get her to understand that the buzzing sound in the sky is not a bee, but a plane. Mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumber are the best snacks ever. Unless there are goldfish crackers in the house. Then all bets are off.
New words are too numerous to keep track of any more. Monster, snail, loom, sit, sauce, pizza, dip, snack, bite (“Bite?” she says hopefully when she sees you eating something, and she offers you bites of whatever she is eating, too… also to the cat, whether he is there or not), diaper, people, sure (it is hilarious to ask her if she wants something and to hear a laid-back “Shuuuure!” in reply), and phrases like “here you go” chirped every time she puts something down by you. About six weeks ago she started calling me Mummy instead of Mama, and it’s rarely once at a time; it’s usually Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Today I asked her, “Do you want to help me?” “Help you? Shuuuure!” she said. That’s huge, being able to turn the pronoun around from “me” to “you” and use it correctly like that.
She wakes up around 6:30, has lunch around 11:30, and has a nap from roughly noon till 2:00. Then we go get Sparky at school for 3:45, have supper around 6:00, and she’s in bed by 7:00. When she wakes up from naps she calls for Gryff (“Maow! Maow!”) and I open the door for him. He runs in and they get all excited, because the next thing I do is lift the cat into the crib, and the two of them lie there and talk to one another. Owlet covers him with blankets, asks me for some books and reads to him, or just lies down and cuddles with him until he’s had enough. It’s really sweet. The two of them play an odd game of Marco Polo in the house, too. If Gryff is somewhere and meows, Owlet will meow back, and the Gryff will reply, and they’ll carry on like that for a while.
We cut out the bottle or cup before her nap entirely; now it’s just snuggling with the soother till she’s asleep, which is usually in about five minutes, and then I slip her into the crib. (We do the opposite at bedtime: a couple of ounces of milk still, then into bed awake, although we need to switch that milk over to a cup of water now). Over this summer we need to start weaning her off the soother before naps, because she won’t have it at daycare.
She’s still incredibly social. When we drive to or from school, she waves to bus drivers (“Hello, peoples!”), and blows kisses to the drivers around us as we pull away from red lights. She’s cheerful, likes to make sure everyone gets hugs and kisses when people leave (family hugs are particularly important before Daddy goes to work in the morning), and shares everything with everyone, but expects the same in return. (You weren’t going to eat half that bowl of pasta, were you? Or that scone? Or drink that cup of tea?).
Yesterday marked eleven years of owlyblogging.
I’ve been having trouble wrapping my mind around units of time recently. Ninety percent of my CD collection dates from college and university, for example (and not because I embraced the digital form of albums, but rather because the money had somewhere else to go, I wasn’t in record shops as often, or I just wasn’t as excited by new releases as I used to be). Most of my bookcases date from the same era, the contents of said bookcases covering twenty-five years of purchases (again, book buying has taken a severe hit recently, in the last five to seven years). The majority of furniture in any given room is either secondhand (donated or, more rarely, purchased), and the few pieces that were purchased new were done so over seven to ten years ago.
And then I realised that Sparky has only another four years in elementary school (mind = blown), and my concept of time took another sucker punch. I’m sure yours just has, too. You’re welcome.
I have met some wonderful, wonderful people through blogging, people whom I consider good friends even though we have not met in real life. I have even been fortunate enough to meet a handful face to face and tell them what they mean to me. I am thankful for this mode of journaling, and for this method of communication, even though I do it primarily for myself. Thank you, dear readers, for journeying along with me, some of you for the entire eleven years, some of you only for a few days, weeks, or months so far. It is lovely to have you here.
Owlet napped while we decorated the Christmas tree, and when she came out she stood there and gazed at it for a while. Then she took a deep breath, and said, “Wow!” I taught her how to lie under it and look up through the branches to see all the lights twinkling off the ornaments, and she and Sparky did that for a while together. She tried to reach out and touch an ornament with a finger, but I said, “No, we look with our eyes, not our fingers.” She put both hands behind her back and leaned forward as far as she could, as if she was trying to touch it with her nose instead of a finger, and repeated, “Wow,” very reverently. She put together her first word combo while looking at the tree later, too. “Purple ball,” she said, pointing into the branches at the single tiny purple bauble we have. I’d never even heard her say purple before. And a few days after Christmas she pointed at the top branches and said, “Buhd.” As we have about four birds in close proximity up there, we’re pretty sure that’s what she was saying.
Oh, the words. The words are tumbling out of her at a surprising rate. (Well, okay, it’s surprising to me because Sparky was atypically talking up a storm at ten months, remember.) Apart from “purple ball,” we had “purple bottle” (also unprompted, while looking at a book), “haus” (“Bye-bye, haus,” she said one day as we were heading out), and “awl” (her pronunciation of “owl”) has become “ah-wuh-ull.” She has become obsessed with pretending things are telephones, and holds random things up to her ear and says, “Haow, Dad-eh! Haow!” She can say “Ada,” and suddenly started saying “Papa” very clearly on New Year’s Day over at her grandparents’ house. She started saying “peese” and “ah! oo!” or “tans” voluntarily at the correct times (although she still needs prompting if she moves directly to stuffing whatever she’s asked for into her mouth), pointed to the moon in a new picture book and said “moon!”, and says “cookie” very clearly (sigh – fortunately, graham crackers are her cookies). And there are others that I am completely forgetting because I don’t write them down quickly enough and my mind goes blank when I sit down to write these posts. Physically, she’s getting better and better at controlling her body. She has started colouring reliably with crayons instead of eating them, and finally managed to stack two blocks carefully instead of banging the top one down on the bottom one and sending them both flying. Her use of forks and spoons is improving. She learned how to say “cheers!” and clink her glass, right in time for New Year’s Eve. She can now climb up on the living room chesterfield, the last seat she was having difficulty with.
One morning she was trying to yank open the child-locked pantry door and getting frustrated. HRH said, “Come away from there, you’ve already had your breakfast.” She wound up a whine, stopped; started a frustrated cry, stopped; made a grr sound; then stood there and looked at him, and said, ”Peeeeeese?” He opened the cupboard and gave her three goldfish crackers. She was very pleased with herself, and said “ah oo” when prompted.
There are still moments where she is all toddler, though. While waiting in line at a store before Christmas, she was saying, “eh, eh, eh” and making her little grabby-hand signal to get me to give her some more corn puffs. I prompted her for the please, I got a muffled “pss,” and gave her a couple of puffs. As I did, I said, “What do you say?” Her enthusiastic response was, “YAY!”
We’ve had a couple of toddler meltdowns these past couple of weeks, too. I think I’ve finally figured out the root of it. After not showing any desire to help, Owlet suddenly and out of the blue wants to hold everything and feed herself. First it was holding both the container of yoghurt and the spoon, and feeding herself. Then it was holding the little bag of crackers and feeding herself, instead of me putting some in her bowl a little at a time. She’s never had real tantrums before, and these are full-blown screaming, red-faced, throwing things, arching the back breakdowns. She’s getting more aggressive about demanding snacks from the pantry, too, and melting down when I try to portion it out one serving at a time. I can’t give her the entire box of crackers or Cheerios, or the entire carton of juice, though.
One of the adorable milestones this past month: first ponytails!
The weekend we saw Santa, she had a three-hour nap in the middle of the day instead of two naps lasting a hour and a half each. This could be a very useful development, giving me more time to get things done both when she’s awake and asleep, making it easier to schedule stuff, and actually allowing her a bit more sleep since I won’t be trying to get her down by two, having her fuss till two-thirty, then waking her up at three-thirty to go get Sparky after school. That said, attempts to shift her morning nap later for a midday nap start time worked, but she still only slept an hour and a half, which made for a wholly strung out toddler come about four o’clock. So we’ll stick to the two-nap schedule for a bit longer.
What bit of nursing that has remained has been decreasing bit by bit, at Owlet’s pace, and is for comfort only. She dropped her good-morning nursing session about a month ago, though she’d beetle over and ask to nurse after HRH left for work every couple of days or so, but that stopped in the middle of December. She usually snuggles and comfort nurses to sleep for a couple of minutes before her morning nap, but she dropped that a few times over the holiday, and I suspect it’s not long now before she just snuggles with her soother till she’s in a doze. We settle down to do the same thing for her afternoon nap, but lately she’s refused to nurse and asked for a bottle, and even then she hasn’t been able to get to a doze on my lap and I’ve had to put her down awake, which she grizzles about for a few minutes before banging around and then falling asleep. (Did I ever share what she calls nursing? She asks for “neyneyney.” I don’t know where she got it from, because we always called it just milk (or “the milks”). But she’s called it that for a few months now.) The holiday schedule has been really distracting, to say the least; wake-up times are a bit different, and everyone’s home, and Sparky is watching cartoons or playing video games or running around with her, and she’s very stimulated. Naps have been frustrating for everyone.
Now that her last molar is in (and a weary parental huzzah for that), we need to start switching that night bottle to a cup. We tried it about six weeks ago, but the molar gave her too much trouble both with the drinking motion and the unsettled being-on-edge mood. The bottle was more familiar and soothing.
The only thing better than reading in a laundry basket is sharing the laundry basket with the cat, right?
The other day she was feeding Gryffindor with the small wooden spoon I’d given her for her kitchen, after stirring something up in a little bowl. I’d noticed that the mums in my online group were talking about how their children were developing nurturing relationships with their dolls, feeding them and changing them and so forth, and just yesterday I kind of shrugged and said to myself that maybe Owlet just hasn’t clicked like that yet. Most of her preferred toys are animals, and while she sometimes undresses her girl doll or giggles at the belly button on the little boy doll she inherited from Sparky, she doesn’t seem to have a specific connection to them. And then I saw this happening, and thought that it was just adorable. And the cat was being so patient with her. He is also very patient with her full-body hugs, and her attempts to hold her pretend phones to his ears.
I am so glad we decided on giving her a play kitchen. She has spent a significant amount of time at it since Christmas. So has Sparky, who does little crazy cooking shows. So much so that we have to remind him not to crowd Owlet out and to let her play in her own way with it, even if it’s wrong according to how he knows a kitchen works or according to his plans for whatever he’s ‘making.’
And finally, here is the first use of the full snowsuit, in the situation for which it was designed:
There’s a lot to catch up on, so please bear with me over the next couple of days, gentle readers.
Christmas was lovely. We had a wonderful day with our families. I received books and gift cards and chocolate as gifts, plus new baking sheets and silicone muffin pans and little kitchen things. The children adored all their gifts and were beautifully behaved. The food was excellent and the turkey much complimented. At the end of it all I was tired, and I’d done something to my lower back, but I was very pleased indeed with how the day was managed. Making Christmas for others is really special.
I have felt very peaceful and happy this Christmas. We seem to be between colds, we have had good snow and now it’s bright and clear, we weren’t scrambling at the last minute for anything, and all the food was planned. I remembered to pick up sausage meat and peas this year, and I remembered to set a batch of dough for rolls to rise when I got up on Christmas Eve morning. I think Owlet’s kitchen has had a lot to do with how much I was looking forward to it all this year. It has been so much fun planning and executing it. (What? Have I not mentioned Owlet’s kitchen here? HRH built her a play kitchen. We designed it and he started putting it together after classes ended at school and the workshop was pretty much empty. Read on for pictures!)
In our house we are heartless and cruel, and no one opens gifts on Christmas morning until the grandparents get here late in the morning, after Owlet’s nap. (We’ve always done it that way, so Sparky doesn’t know that other kids wake up before dawn, heh heh.) Owlet’s kitchen had been placed in our kitchen, but she hadn’t seen it because HRH whisked her right downstairs to open her stocking on our bed when she woke up. (Sparky does that, too; he wakes up and his stocking is hanging on his doorknob, and he can open that and play with whatever’s inside it; the candy is fair game to snack on, too. Although he came down at 5:45 to excitedly catalogue everything that had been inside it, and then again to make sure that it was okay to eat some of the jellybeans.)
There was a chaise longue waiting in my attic office Christmas morning. Apparently HRH didn’t want me to be jealous of Owlet’s kitchen, so he built a chaise longue for me.
I just. You know? Words failed me. And then I think I started to laugh, and laughed for a while. I adore chaises longues, and we toyed with the idea of getting one for the living room when we bought the house, but they were all too big for the space and expensive. He’s been building this on and off with scrap bits of wood at work for over a year, and keeping it a magnificent secret. He hid it in the shed after bringing it home, and wrestled it up the stairs on Christmas Eve. Sparky must be commended for keeping the secret, too, because he was with HRH when he bought the goosefeather-filled linen pillows for it at Ikea when they got the Christmas tree.
More pictures! Owlet meets her kitchen! It was her first gift of the day. She looks so serene. And yes, those are owls in the shelf brackets.
She wanted to start messing about with it right away, pointing up at our pot rack and making imperious little “ah! ah!” sounds, so I gave her the little saucepan and wooden spoon she usually plays with on the floor while I work in the kitchen. She got lots of felt and wooden food throughout the morning as various gifts, plus a set of pots and ladles afterwards, so it’s very well stocked now.
And the last gift, a co-present from both sets of grandparents: the Wheely Bug. It’s the bee, not that you can tell because it’s hidden by the skirt of her lovely velvet dress. (That’s a tiny purse hooked on the antennae.)
I love this age at Christmas. Owlet kept picking up random presents from under the tree and bringing them to people with a beautiful smile. And she wanted to examine and play with everything she opened, bless her, but we had to keep going.
I think we have a picture of Sparky immersed in a book he’s just unwrapped every year, don’t we?
Sparky was very efficient without being careless, was terribly excited about everything he opened, and dashed off to put each thing in his room as it was unwrapped. His list was pretty much checked off, thanks to cooperation between parents, grandparents, and Santa. Not that it was horrendously long; we set him a limit of five items for the list, five special things he particularly wants, and we remind him that he may not get all of them. This year’s theme was Skylanders, a video game designed for kids that he was introduced to by his best friend at school. He asked for both the original game and the new release, but his grandparents co-gifted him with the original starter set, we actually found a set of original figures, and a guidebook (he adores guidebooks, and pretty much memorizes them). He was over the moon.
I think all round, it was a successful day indeed, and we are all very, very grateful for the generosity of our loved ones.
No, we still have no decorations up. But the candles I am burning daily have frankincense oil in them. I have a bag of pine cones from Jan and t!, a spool of Christmas ribbon, and a glue gun; who knows what can happen. Sparky has been enjoying his Christmas playlist. And HRH and the boy are currently off selecting our tree, which will wait patiently outside till Saturday when we can put it up and decorate it. The handmade gifts are almost complete (the play kitchen HRH is building for Owlet is to die for), the previously purchased ones are all tucked away in the attic cupboard, and other than picking up gifts for a last couple of children once HRH gets paid this coming Thursday, we are just about done.
In the meantime, we had a visit to Santa:
Wow, does this slight upshot from the photographer ever make the kids look more like one another than any other photo I’ve seen, although Sparky still looks more like me and Owlet looks more like her dad. The angle of the shot rounds out Sparky’s face the way it isn’t in real life; he looks younger here. And how serious does Owlet look? She walked across the red carpet toward Santa with her arms out, but paused when she got to his chair and then wasn’t as excited to actually be with him as she’d seemed to be before she got there.
It was a new Santa at a new mall, and we are always very nervous about new places since we are so sensitive to energy, but the VERY RED redesign of the Christmas set at our previous mall of choice was so offputting that we needed another option. A friend recommended this one out here on the south shore, and we loved it. We got there just before the awesome Santa went on duty, and he was walking slowly through the mall in his long cloak with brown fur trim, sprigs of holly in his hat, saying hello to children. And the mall had the old-fashioned moving scenes inside little cottages as decorations, the way they were when I was a kid. The photo was printed right there when you left Santa, and you could choose which photo of about five you wanted done; none of this waiting an hour for development and having to go with whatever the photographer caught or decided on him/herself. We’re definitely going back next year. Hurrah!
We were actually on our way out to see Santa yesterday morning when Sparky’s old preschool/daycare director called and asked if we wanted in on a breakfast with Santa party that was starting in half an hour, as she had an extra ticket. A bunch of his old friends were going, too, so we said sure! The kids had a blast colouring and eating pancakes. The Santa was… well, he tried hard, but the suit was patched with duct tape, and the pillow in his jacket was very obvious, and his blue-tinted transition lenses weren’t standard Santa issue. But he was very jolly, and Sparky hugged him, and Owlet wasn’t scared at all. And it was marvellous to see some of the old parents we used to see when Sparky was there for two years, and to see the fresh batch of babies, and the toddlers Owlet will be pals with when she starts there next fall, who are the little brothers and sisters of kids who were there when Sparky was. The preschool alumni were running around together afterwards, and it was interesting to observe how they’ve all grown and become big six-and seven-year-olds, but you can still remember and see the little three- and four-year-olds you knew.
We had an early Christmas present this year, too:
When I got back from taking Nixie to the vet for the last time, there was a digital piano waiting for me. We inherited it from Ron’s aunt, who is destashing various things from her daughter’s childhood, and my in-laws brought it over when they came to stay with Owlet while I went out. It’s a Roland ep-7, so it’s technically a digital piano and not a keyboard. I’m actually impressed at how much more like a piano it sounds and feels like than the keyboards I’ve messed around with in the past. We’re pretty excited. Both kids love it, and both play on it often. I can even play a version of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ on it, complete with what I want to call left-hand double stops, but which are really I-III chords missing the V. It’s got surprisingly good tone for a digital, and the keys are weighted. It has 76 keys, so it’s short one octave, but I’m not complaining! We are very, very grateful.
And so we enter the final week before Christmas. I leave you with some photos of the Christmas cookies that Sparky made yesterday: