Category Archives: Blessings

Goodbye, Gran

Last night, my grandmother passed away.

It was a quiet passing; my dad says that she’d slipped into a comatose state, and died about twenty-four hours later. She was exactly one month short of her ninety-ninth birthday.

We started losing her a while ago, though. Her memory became less and less sharp until she lost most of her short-term memory, and the most recent of the long-term stuff began to disintegrate as well. She ceased recognising people. She had to ask over and over who my dad was when he flew out to visit her.

When I was little, she kept two very special things in her handbag for me to play with if we had to wait somewhere. One was tiny crocheted blue doll with a silky printed Asian-style face, and the other was a tape measure. Oh, that tape measure. I don’t recall the colour, but it was one of the cased ones that would lock when you stopped pulling the tape, and had a button to press when you wanted to retract the tape again. It fascinated me, and scared me a little too, because the tape would snap back pretty sharply. My mother had regular cotton tape measures, so this one was extra-special. When I bought my first retractable tape measure last year, I was pretty excited to own one of my very own. I think of her every time I use it.

I can’t find the box with all my photo albums in it. When my parents went out to Vancouver to help her downsize in preparation for eventually moving into the care home, my dad couriered me a box full of photo albums and keepsakes. She’d kept a series of albums with pictures of me from birth onward. I found one to include below in a box of my own photos, so that will have to do for now.

She worked at the Valois library for a time (possibly when it was first opened?), right around the corner from where I now have my orchestra rehearsals, and around the corner from where friends now live. One of the houses my dad’s family lived in was right around the corner from the apartment blocks where I lived for several years in Dorval, too. She was always tickled to know I was living steps away from where she’d lived, decades and decades before.

She lived in West Vancouver for most of my life, though, with my granddad until he passed away when I was a teenager. We visited them about once a year, though. They lived in an apartment building that had an elevator and a pool, both very exciting to a small child. When we visited, I used to love paging through her huge hardcover Royal Doulton figurine collectible book, sitting next to her tea cart. You could look right out over the water from the windows of their apartment, and walk along the seawalk to the little beaches, where we’d sort through rocks and driftwood. Some days we’d go to Ambleside Park and feed the ducks, which was always terrific fun. Right at the base of the apartment building we could sit and wave at the Royal Hudson as it steamed by in the morning, and the engineers would wave back. (When I was older I finally got to ride the Royal Hudson on its excursion up to Squamish.) My first trip alone as an unaccompanied minor was flying out to see them when I was in high school.

My gran was always there for my graduations (and probably most of the plays I was in, too, although I don’t remember), right at the front, snapping photos with her camera. While I smile at it now, it was mortifying at the time. (Notably, she left the lens cap on at my high school grad ceremony, so it was all for naught.) She followed me around the dance floor at my high school grad dance and snapped photos, too. There’s a hilarious one of me with my head twisted away and my poor date caught looking open-mouthed at the camera. She thought it was just wonderful that I danced a box waltz for a while with one of my friends, too; fortunately that escaped photographic immortalization, because we were both staring at our feet and counting. This is Gran and I at my graduation from John Abbott College in the spring of 1990.

For my high school graduation, she took me on a cruise to Mexico. Somewhere (probably with that box of photo albums) is the souvenir album we put together, full of formal shipboard photos, maps, tour flyers, and various other memorabilia. The cruise experience was probably mostly wasted on a painfully shy and socially terrified barely-sixteen-year-old like myself, but it was my first time outside of Canada or the United States, and I did love the sun and the sea, and seeing the historic sites the tours took us to.

When I turned… sixteen? eighteen? Anyway, one of those, she gave me the ruby ring she’d had made after I was born (the ruby is my birthstone). I wore it for years and years, although now it lives in my jewellery box. A couple of years after Sparky was born, she sent me her sapphire ring, as well, which lives in my jewellery box because it’s absolutely enormous (the stones, not the band) and again, where would I wear it? (I’m rather minimalist when it comes to jewellery, in case you hadn’t figured it out.) When I graduated from university (the first time, so after my BA), she gave me her pearl necklace. I love their shade of aged ivory; I’ve never worn them, though, because I’m terrified I’d lose them. (Besides, where would I wear all these; the grocery store?)

Also in that box of albums and memorabilia were stacks of programmes from my various theatre performances. I can’t remember which she saw and which she didn’t — Dad used to send her copies of the ones she couldn’t fly down to see — but she kept absolutely everything. She had a slightly crazy-making habit of underlining our names in printed materials. I have her copy of a privately printed large family history book called The Book of Menzies (also known as the “Red and White Book of Menzies,” written in 1894 by D.P. Menzie, the original printing limited to 100 copies; it belonged to her grandfather, one of the original subscribers who funded the book) in which she’s underlined several names. (She also used awful, cheap, sticky tape to helpfully mend part of the spine. My antiquarian book-lover side cringes at both.) I sent a signed and inscribed copy of each of my books to her as they were published; I wonder if she underlined my name on those title pages? Gran passed her copies of Emily Carr’s series of books on to me when I was an early teenager, which introduced me to a very different idea of Canada and Canadian art (yes, before I discovered the Group of Seven).

About ten years ago, I tried to record a couple of orchestra concerts for her, but my poor minidisc recorder was just too overwhelmed by the amount of noise and it never worked properly. But on one trip out to see her, my parents took her to the local library and set her up at a computer terminal. She fussed, because she had no idea why they were doing it. But then Dad brought up the link to one of the videos someone had made of one of our concerts, and gave her the headphones. When he told her who it was and pointed me out on the screen, she beamed.

The last time I saw her in person was in the summer of 2007, when Sparky was two years old and we all went to visit my parents so she could meet him. When Dad last showed her a picture of us, some time after Owlet had been born, she said, “Oh, what lovely children!”, but she didn’t understand that they were her great-grandchildren. Whenever I’d suggest sending her a current photo, my parents would quietly say, “Don’t bother. She doesn’t know. She can’t remember.” Telling her who everyone in the photograph was would entail an awful lots of explaining and backstory, and it was challenging enough to explain who my mum and dad were when they went to see her.

The saying I will forever associate with her in various forms is “You can take your education everywhere; no one can take your education away from you.” She repeated this frequently, with various wordings. She thought it was just great that I kept on going to school and collecting diplomas. It alternately amused me and made me want to roll my eyes. I loved my gran, but she exasperated me a lot, too. The generational gap was just so large, and the way she saw the world was not the way I saw it. She also gushed a lot, and I am very bad at handling gushing, particularly when it is directed at me.

I know that she was very frustrated and angry with life when her memory started to erode, and who can blame her? I remember feeling relieved when my mother told me Gran had reached a point where she was living almost entirely in the moment, just admiring the same flowers in the park over and over as they encountered them while they walked around the park. This post has been hard, not because I’ve lost someone dear to me, but because I no longer know that person. Or rather, the person who I knew and loved was gone long ago, and I’ve been able to mourn that loss bit by bit as my parents return from visits and update me on her decline. I’m grateful for the time we were able to spend together throughout her life, and for the opportunities she enabled me to have.

I am so very glad that she is at peace now.

Catching Up

December was, predictably, somewhat frenzied.

Work:

I edited a math book (or rather, a parent guide to math from pre-K through grade 5), and found a case of plagiarism in the second chapter, plagiarism so glaring that the author had even copied the mistakes and misspellings from the website. This is not the way to my heart. I documented it thoroughly, finished copyediting it, and sent it along to the editor, whose problem it is. It took me a while to calm down, though.

When I handed that in, I got another project immediately, which I edited over Christmas. It wasn’t as intense a schedule as last Christmas when I worked on a manuscript three times as long (with issues, oh, there were issues with that one), but it was enough to keep me busy. (And stressed out during yesterday’s ice storm that had our power flickering as I raced my deadline. Fun times.)

Just before Christmas, I also got a very interesting query from a major game studio concerning my availability at certain points in 2015 and wondering if I’d be interested in talking about handling some copyediting work for them. Of course I was. Am. Whatever. Let’s see what happens. Today I had my small panicky meltdown when I was asked what my rates were, and now I’m fine. It just needs to go through the contracts people in HR or whoever it is, now.

Music:

My teacher’s studio recital was a couple of weeks later than usual this year, taking place on December 21 instead of the first weekend of the month.

I am very happy with how my piece went. HRH filmed it with his iPhone for me, and I finally watched it a couple of days ago. While it sounded like the intonation was a bit odd overall, I suspect that is more due to the church and the poor wee iPhone striving mightily to record me seventy-five feet away, because it sounded fine under my fingers. Did I mention how happy I was with how it went? As in, no qualms or destructive self-criticism whatsoever? I don’t think that’s ever happened. I think doing this Wagner piece was very good for me. I’m sure my teacher will have comments when we view her (much better) video of it this weekend at my first lesson of the year, of course, but I am sure she will also be very excited about how well it went.

Christmas break:

We hosted Christmas at our house this year again, and both sets of grandparents joined us. Dinner was lovely, and we even managed to get the good china out this year. (We didn’t go so far as to dig out the good cutlery. Let’s focus on the small victories, though.)

I think the gift we were the most excited about receiving (apart from watching our kids be thrilled about everything they unwrapped) was our set of Paderno pots and pans. We gleefully stripped all the mismatched and bent stuff off the pot rack and hung all the new shiny ones. Cooking with them is a dream: they’re heavy but well-balanced, they sit level on the elements, and they clean up in a breeze. We adore them. The other big thing was that HRH designed and built Owlet a dollhouse for Christmas:

More details about that will come in her 41-months/January post, whenever that happens, since the 40-month/December post isn’t even up yet. Maybe I should declare amnesty on that one and just jump to the January post.

HRH and I took Sparky out to see Big Hero 6 after Christmas, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Two days later, HRH’s parents came to spend the afternoon with Sparky and Owlet while we went out for lunch and to see the last Hobbit film. It was so unusual for the two of us to be out together, let alone without kids, and the experience was very enjoyable. Sparky told us how lucky we were to see two films in one week, and I had to point out that since HRH and I only see two or three films in a theatre each year, it was more like we were just fitting them in before the calendar restarted.

Sparky:

Sparky completed his first session of art classes in mid-December. Before it ended I asked if he’d be interested in registering for the next session, and he said ehn, not really. I gently pointed out that we’d have to figure out another extracurricular activity, then, and he buried himself in a book and ignored the situation. But when he brought all his art home the following week and we went through it, we saw some really good stuff, and told him so. We hung the canvas he’d painted, and framed a beautiful multi-media piece he called “Birch Trees in Winter” that he’d done at school, and suddenly he was very excited about going back to art. He got a pile of art supplies for Christmas from us, too (thank you, Michaels, for your crazy sales and decent-quality student stuff) and was thrilled. This year he also told us (repeatedly, in whispered asides) that he knew we were Santa. We’ve never really perpetuated the Santa thing; we’ve always told the kids that Santa is an idea, a representation of love and generosity and sharing, one of the spirits of Christmas. So this wasn’t a disappointment or a betrayal; it was more like he was confirming that he knew he was part of it, consciously helping to spread the joy and love associated with the season. He’s growing up.

Solstice also celebrated his one-year anniversary with us. We call it his birthday to keep it simple, even though we know he’s actually eight weeks older. Happy birthday, fuzzybunny Solstice!

March Break Date

I’ve been struggling with a really bad bout of depression this past week, so I’ve been pretty quiet. Most of the time I’m fighting bursting into tears for no apparent reason, and just feeling really, deeply sad.

I handed in a project yesterday, and today Sparky and I went out on a date day, as it’s his March break week. We dropped off a bag of cloth diapers I sold, I deposited my paycheque (yet again, gone as soon as it hit my account — someday I will be able to enjoy it being there for more than a minute or two), and then I took him to our bookstore, ostensibly to pick up the next book in a series we’re reading together, but my ulterior motive was the 20% off Lego sale they were running. I thought his eyes were going to fall out of his head when he read the poster. So since I’d encouraged him to bring the twenty dollars he’d saved up, he had a $25 gift card, and he had a $10 reward for one hundred practice sessions of cello (we keep track!), he walked out with two books, one each from a series he’s reading, and two Lego kits.

Then we went into the adjacent Starbucks and I bought him a hot chocolate and a Rice Krispie square, and he read one of his new books while having his treat. Seeing him so happy was really nice.

I had a wonderful moment while we were in the bookstore. We’d gone through the Lego and the younger chapter book section, and had ended up in the 9-12 area. We were both sitting on the floor, our coats open, and he was reading aloud to me from one of the books he had chosen. I sat there, smiling at him, not really hearing what he was reading — he was reading way too quickly, so I couldn’t understand the individual words. He does that when he’s super excited and eager to share something, and usually I rein him in, but this time I didn’t worry about it. I just listened to his voice, and watched him bend over the hardcover book, holding it open with one hand and gesturing with the other as he read aloud to me. I didn’t have to worry about rushing him anywhere since we had the whole day together, and I didn’t feel like nagging him about his reading. I just enjoyed sitting there with my son, listening to him read a book aloud to me, both of us being happy about being there together. It was a very special moment, and I have no idea how long we sat there, to be honest. I only suggested we move on when another mum and her daughter came along and I felt like we were in their way. I wish we had more time for things like this together.

Christmas 2013

Christmas was busy, and it was snow, and it was family. And it was tiny new additions to the family. More on that later.

We decorated the tree the same day we had the photos with Santa done. The only drawback was that the tree we’d chosen (all tied upon the lot, of course) was lovely and full and bushy. So full, in fact, that it took up a quarter of our tiny living room. My spinning wheel needed to be moved into the hallway for the holidays, and the furniture had to be Tetris-ed in. But as ginormous as the tree is, it smelled and looked fabulous! And there was plenty of room for all our lovely ornaments.

On the night before the winter solstice we told the kids they’d each get a Yule present to open the next day, and we talked about welcoming back the sun. We talked about how it was the longest night, and how once upon a time people must have despaired that the sun would ever come back as the nights got longer and longer. We said that we lit candles to shine like little suns to help the sun find its way through the dark on that longest night and return to us the next dawn. Then we lit our candles before they went to bed and said a prayer for the sun to be strong and brave, and Owlet was terribly excited. I’d forgotten how much Sparky loved doing candles for things when he was her age. (She was so excited that she asked to do it for her nap the next day, and the next two nights at bedtime, as well.)

The next morning, we all got up, blew out the candles and said “Yay, sun! You did it! Thank you, sun!” and Owlet wandered around while we made breakfast, randomly shouting, “Yay, sun!” and “Thank you, sun!”

After breakfast Sparky asked if they could open their presents. They each had a wrapped book under the tree. Owlet got a Sandra Boynton Christmas book (with Pookie in it! Well, it isn’t identified as Pookie, but it’s totally Pookie). Sparky got a handbook for taking care of rabbits. He was very pleased, saying that now he could be ready when he got his rabbit once he turned ten, which was the going deal.

But I asked him if he thought he could read it in five minutes instead, to be ready. He looked at me, not understanding. So we told him he was going to visit one of HRH’s students to choose a rabbit of his very own, and he couldn’t quite believe it. We all piled in the car and drove over, and we all sat on the floor with a litter of ten eight-week-old dwarf Netherland bunnies hopping around and over us, grey and cinnamon and black and tan, and it was the best fun. They were so very well socialized that they hopped right into our laps and cuddled, and didn’t freak out a bit when Owlet picked them up and carried them around the way toddlers all pick up four-legged beasties, around the chest and tummy. After much deliberation and interacting with each one to see whose temperament was best suited to him, Sparky came home with this one, who was the smallest of them all.

Meet Solstice, everyone. His back is dark like the night, and his tummy is light like the sun. He is calm and loving, and I don’t think Sparky put him down all day after we got home. Which is fine by Solstice, apparently, who is happy to snuggle.

We’d been sitting on this secret for over a month, buying a huge secondhand cage and the supplies required bit by bit, so we’re pretty thrilled at how it went over. Sparky was warned that because this big present was so big, he wasn’t to expect any of the big things on his Christmas list, and he was so happy it didn’t even make him pause. Sparky and Solstice were pretty much inseparable for the entire Christmas break. If the rabbit wasn’t in his arms or lap, it was next to him in a laundry basket with some toys and hay while Sparky played video games. The rabbit met everyone at the door as soon as they walked in, held out by an excited Sparky who was eager to share his new buddy. He’s a bright and cheerful little thing, who loves to do that neat jump/kick thing happy bunnies do, and to scamper from one end of the bed to the other as fast as he can. He’s fine with the cats, although Minerva is a bit overeager with him, wanting to tussle roughly like she would with a kitten, and Gryff is kind of a bit scared, to be honest. He has visibly grown in just a couple of weeks, and now has a little cinnamon patch between his shoulder blades at the back of his neck, like a little sun. It’s adorable. And Solstice loves just hanging out.

He is very patient, too.

Christmas Day was great. We had both sets of grandparents with us, and it was a genuinely lovely day. I forgot to brine the turkey, but it was acceptably tender despite that. There were new clothes, and books, and video games (including the new Skylanders Swap Force set that Sparky had wanted but had figured wasn’t going to happen since he’d gotten Solstice instead, and which he’d already finished by the end of the holidays, yikes). And Her Owletship’s big gift was a lovely soft cloth doll from Pottery Barn Kids, and a doll bed HRH built for her, with bedding that I sewed for it:

It’s a miniature of her own bed, see?

I was spoiled with cookbooks and new knitting needles and a lovely sweater, a miraculous thermal tumbler that keeps tea hot for hours, and gift certificates for more books and tea. It was hard to focus on things and keep up with the unwrapping, since I spent most of my time facilitating the kids’ experiences, and I ended up with a small pile of gifts to open on my own at the end. One that wasn’t under the tree was the Apple TV that HRH and I bought ourselves on crazy sale halfway through December. We are very impressed with the home network streaming, the cleaner interface with Netflix, and the ability to rent movies from iTunes. It works very well for our needs.

The weather was clear, sunny, and cold, so there were no walks through the neighbourhood, but the company was wonderful, the food supplied by everyone was delicious, the day rolled along smoothly, and we feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with both sides of the family like this. And then we had a few friends over on the Saturday, which was lovely, too, and on the Sunday we gathered with the Preston-LeBlancs in their new house for our annual Yule singalong, and all our wonderful holiday traditions were complete. We feel very, very blessed.

Fourteen!

On this day fourteen years ago (really?), in the company of family and dear chosen family on a spectacular autumn day, I married my best friend.

Fourteen years later, we have not only owned our house for three years, complete with HRH-directed and -tailored renos, but we have two absolutely wonderful children who remind us daily that life is spectacular in so many ways.

Today also marks the fifteenth anniversary of HRH and I doing our first road trip together, one of the joys I have continued to experience with him throughout our marriage. Doing them with not one but two children has stretched the associated definition of “joy,” but it’s only getting better! A new car makes the upcoming trips feel even more exciting.

We don’t usually give ourselves anniversary presents, but this year I bought HRH a new coffeemaker, a fancy one that you can program the night before so that he can have coffee as soon as he gets up. These days it’s been hard for him to find the time to finish his first cup let alone pour a second, with two kids to get moving and breakfasts to make. And he is buying me a subscription to the new Ply magazine for spinners. Let’s tally up this year’s celebrations:

  • ordered sushi from our favourite restaurant last night, during which we
  • watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere, followed immediately by
  • watching the first episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey
  • a new coffeemaker for HRH
  • a new spinning magazine for me

That summarizes our relationship rather nicely, doesn’t it?

I love you, HRH. I’m looking forward to many more years together of joy, love, laughter, supporting one another, and sharing our lives.

Balance

Balance is what I’m trying to maintain. I have had so many ups and downs this past month or so.

About three weeks ago the car started sounding throatier. It went from ‘somewhat throaty’ to Yikes That Sounds Expensive two weeks ago when Sparky and I were coming home from the doctor. HRH dug about under the car and discovered that the flex joint that connected the exhaust system to the engine had rotted through, so I was essentially driving a car with no muffler, despite the fact that there was a lovely, healthy muffler system there. It was a fix HRH couldn’t do, so it had to go to the car doctor last Thursday morning. This was the most recent in a series of small things going wrong with the car. We paid it off this past spring, and we wanted to get through the winter with it before looking at a slightly larger car. If this pattern continued, I wasn’t going to feel comfortable trusting the car over the winter. It was ten years old, and there was nothing immediately wrong with it apart from the fact that things were starting to wear out, and constantly replacing them and not knowing how much it was going to be was stressful. We’d rather get a new-to-us car and know that a set fifty dollars a week is going to pay it off. So we started researching cars in earnest instead of idly, as we’d been doing for a few months.

I had Thursday off since my deadline had been Wednesday night, and HRH booked the day off work to take the car in to the garage. Right next door to our garage is the used car dealership that we’ve dealt with forever. And they had two SUV/crossover cars in stock that we’d been researching for the past few months. So we got to go kind-of car shopping together and take test drives! Part of me just wanted to trade the current one in right then before something else happened to decrease its value any further, and drive home in a new-to-us Saturn Vue or Dodge Journey. Well, we tested the Vue first, and we liked it so much that we only took the Journey out to confirm how much we liked the Vue. (The huge blind spots in the Journey were dreadful, and the engine just wasn’t big enough to haul the weight of the vehicle around without straining — no, thank you.) We sat down with the salesman and we discussed options and trade-in value, and we ended up deciding to buy it, doing the pre-sale paperwork right there. The Ion wouldn’t be ready before we had to leave to pick up the kids — the job was bigger than the garage had initially thought, which made us a bit anxious about the cost — so the dealership gave us a loaner car, and we agreed to pick up the new car Saturday morning.

Saturday morning came, and we took the whole family over to pick up the new car. And we discovered that the garage had comped the job on the Ion. Hadn’t we traded it in, the garage manager said? So it wasn’t our problem. Happy new car. We were completely blown away and are now trying to figure out a way to give both the dealers and the garage guy a treat to say thank you.

New car!

We took it over to Grandma and Papa’s house to show it to them and have lunch together. The next day we took it out on its first road trip, to spend the day at Upper Canada Village with t! and Jan. It was a lovely day, despite the chill and the showers and the lack of a real nap on Owlet’s part.

And another joy is that the first accelerated government payment for Owlet’s daycare tax credit came in last week. Here in Quebec we have 7$ a day subsidized daycare, and if you’re in a private non-subsidized daycare you can apply for a monthly refund for a portion of your costs, calculated using the cost of the private fees and your family income. The idea is that since the subsidized 7$/day daycare spaces are hard to come by, the government will now subsidize the cost of the private ones. Well, my refund was awfully large — larger than my fees, in fact — so I did some math and it turns out that the information the government is using is based on the cost of a full-time place, not part-time, and they’re overpaying me. So unless I wanted to get dinged at tax-time and have to pay half of this money back, I needed to do something. Well, I talked to HRH, and we decided to ask if we could send Owlet full-time, because we knew there was room, and with this monthly refund it works out to $7 a day exactly, which I can totally afford! The daycare director e-mailed me inviting me to switch Owlet to full-time just as I was sitting down to write to her, and so it’s all set: Owlet is now full-time in daycare, and everyone is thrilled, especially her. (Well, no. The lady at the deli counter in the supermarket today was disappointed that Owlet wasn’t with me. Owlet is her favourite customer, she tells me.)

I dyed Mum’s luxury yarn last week, and it looks AWESOME. It’s a stunning rust/terra cotta colour that just glows in the sunlight. I’ve never dyed so much yarn — remember, we’re talking 1700 yards, and about 13 oz of fibre! — or used so much dye at one time. It took 10 g of dye powder, when the most I’d used at one go before was 1 or 2 g, and I mixed the colour myself from two others. I hope she likes it. I have some touch-ups to do where the dye didn’t quite penetrate past figure-eight ties, and then I shall post pictures.

And a friend who is moving back to the UK has given me a pile of games, electronic equipment, books, and toys. I’m feeling particularly spoiled by life in general these days, and so very, very grateful for all our good fortune. I know we’ve been putting in our time this past year, and everything comes to those who work and wait, but the harvest — if that is the correct word, seeing as how that’s the time of year? — is so very appreciated.

Twenty-Four Months Old – Happy Second Birthday, Owlet!

Two years ago, after two or three weeks of extremely frustrating prodromal labour, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning with the usual contractions, got up to walk around as always, then realized that finally, this was the real thing. Four hours later, we had a beautiful little daughter.

And then she turned one…

And now she is TWO!

She is a chipper, physical little girl who loves to climb and run and roll around. She enjoys singing, reading, colouring, playing with the wooden train set, pouring tea and making sandwiches for her toys, eating tomatoes and berries and carrots right out of the garden, and following her big brother around. She has taken to kissing things she loves, so she kissed her birthday balloons yesterday, and her pony figures before we went out shopping today, and drops random kisses on the cats when she feels like it. (I do that, too, so I can’t blame her. They are so soft, after all.) She kissed my spinning wheel goodnight for the first time tonight. I suspect this was a delaying tactic on the way to bed, rather than done out of love.

She has become fascinated with shadows over the past month. She always stops on the stairs going down to the family room and points out Mummy’s shadow, and then her own shadow. She also stops while going up the stairs to pat the new banister HRH put in, saying, “Daddy build!” (It’s a good thing she wasn’t really aware that HRH painted the stairwell the other day, otherwise there would have been a lot of washing of paint-smeared hands as she approved of his ongoing work.)

She has also become obsessed with pockets, tucking balls and wooden puzzle pieces and small toys into pockets belonging to other people. If she can’t find an actual pocket, she will tuck it into the waistband of your pants or down the front of your shirt. Sometimes when we call her, she stands up and a little cascade of tiny things fall out from under her own shirt, because she’d put them all in her own “pocket,” which means she stuffed them into the neckline of her top.

She is past thirty pounds, wears 3T tops and bottoms, size 5 disposable diapers at night, size L training pants, and size 6 to 7 shoes depending on the fit. Her curls are turning into true ringlets. HRH showed me how long her hair is when it’s wet, and it reaches down her back almost to the bottom of her shoulder blades! But curls being curls, they end up sproinging much, much shorter:

Big milestones this past month include cutting her bangs (both she and we were getting fed up with the ends in her eyes, so we trimmed them, and the curl makes them sproing up past eye level now), and turning her car seat around to face forward. I was ready to keep her facing the back — the research and safety ratings is more than convincing enough — but a friend mentioned turning their car seat around because there was a rear-facing weight limit of thirty pounds on it. Hmm, I thought, Owlet is awfully close to that; I should check, too. Lo and behold, our rear-facing weight limit was also thirty pounds, and when we weighed Owlet she was past that. So around it went, and she was very pleased indeed:

(Does anyone remember Sparky’s Calvin face, the weird twisted facial expression he’d give when you asked him to smile? Owlet has one, too. Whenever you ask her to smile, this is what she does:

We have to start telling her to look happy instead, as we did with Sparky.)

Dipping and licking are her newest food-related discoveries. She will eat through an alarming number of carrots if there is a dish of dip with them, and a small puddle of gravy on her plate sends her into a state of bliss. This also means that if you’re not paying attention, she will dip her fingers into your drink and lick them, then again and again until you catch her. I discovered this a couple of days ago when I had made myself a tea latte with vanilla syrup and frothed milk in it. HRH taught her how to eat Freezie-style juice popsicle this month, and now as soon as she sees someone with anything that remotely resembles one she says, “Lick? Lick?” Except she latches onto the popsicle and sucks it until all the flavouring is gone from the end, which isn’t exactly licking. But semantics aren’t big in a two-year-old’s world when juice pops are involved. She had blueberry iced tea from Davids Tea one day, too — the server thought she was cute, demanding sips of my little tea-of-the-day sample glasses, and he gave her a whole cup of the blueberry for free — and now she will pester me for “Tea? Tea? Ice tea? ICE TEA?”

She is currently crazy for beebugs (ladybugs) and bees (actual bees), so those are what HRH and I made to put on her birthday cupcakes:

I committed the cardinal sin of trying a new cake recipe for a birthday, which can always backfire, but I’m enshrining this one. The cupcakes were light but moist, and the flavour was great. HRH bought her a birthday balloon with ladybugs on it, too, and she was terribly excited. While shopping today I found a cup with a ladybug on it, so I picked it up for her and she was so excited at supper. (Consider that part of your birthday present to her, MLG!) Her party was lovely. We had family and godfamilies over, and my mother handled most of the food, bless her, with contributions from my mother-in-law, and the weather cooperated. We got to see people we hadn’t seen in person for ages.

As for our present to her, we were a little stumped for a while. She didn’t need anything; grandparents and godfamilies were covering little things she’d enjoy playing with, and we’re not fans of buying things for the sake of having something to give. And then I thought back to a wonderful, wonderful trip we took to Ottawa in late July, to meet two of my online friends who both had little girls who were born around when Owlet was. (They’re part of my brilliant online mums group, who all had babies due in July ’11.) Both the little girls wore amber necklaces, which are said to help soothe teething pain as well as providing other benefits (heck, I wore a large amber drop for over a year when my back was really bad just after I left retail and I was dealing with a lot of murky social interaction; it’s not like I don’t know the associated energies of the stone). There were play necklaces there, too, and Owlet had fun with those, as she doesn’t have play jewellery. So I thought that perhaps we could buy her an amber necklace. I asked her if she’d like that, and she considered it. “Like Sylvie and Audrey were wearing,” I added, and then she nodded very firmly. “Yes, please. Neckliss?” she said. So today after her nap we headed out to a local shop and looked at them. She chose a multicoloured one right away, over the lemon or cherry amber. “This! This neckliss, Mummy. For me. My neckliss.” She picked another one up and held it out to me, and said, “Mummy neckliss? Too?” I am not one to refuse amber (ever), so we found a Mummy-length one in the same multicoloured amber as hers, and we bought the two. And when we got home we both put them on and looked in the mirror together, and she was very happy indeed. She took it off for a bit, but then she asked to put it back on. She was unhappy when we said she had to take it off at bedtime (it was just a bit too long for our comfort level, and we didn’t want her chewing it), but I found a special little dish for her to put it in and we promised she could put it on again first thing in the morning. After HRH read to her I went in for my little cuddle, and she fussed at my necklace, wanting hers on again, but I took mine off and put it with her necklace, promising her that she could put it on for me when she put hers on the next day.

I had an ulterior motive for acquiescing to the matching necklaces. Tomorrow morning Owlet has her very first half-day at daycare, or “cool,” as she calls it. I wanted her to have something from me that she could see in a mirror or touch, and remember that I had one, too, and that when I touched mine or saw it I would be thinking of her as well.

She is terribly excited about “cool.” She has asked at least once a day to go for the past two weeks, sometimes going so far as to put on her hat and get her bunny and stand at the front door before asking. Her little head and shoulders would droop with disappointment when I’d tell her no, not today, there were still however many days to go until the big day. “Oh,” she would say, her little voice echoing with the pathos of crushed hopes and dreams. But tomorrow is the big day at last, and I was excited as I packed her bag tonight. I’m a little worried about the nap issue, but we won’t address that till Wednesday since they’re only doing the half-day tomorrow. She’s attending part-time, and normally she’d go on Tuesday, but she has a doctor’s appointment that day and so she’s going tomorrow as an exception.

Recently she’s had some hard nights. Her two-year-old molars are doing their thing, and sometimes it’s just difficult to fall asleep. The other night I was in her room cuddling her, and then I stood up to put her back in bed. She clasped her arms around my neck and swayed back and forth, mumbling something as she did. It took me a moment to understand her. She was saying, “I love you and love you; and love you and love you; and love you and love you.” It’s from the end of Night-Night, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton, and it just about made my heart explode. I teared up as I kissed her curls, and I whispered, “I love you and love you, too.”

Because who can’t love this character?

(Dramatic? Nah.)