We spent a day and a half with t! and Jan this weekend. We did a six-hour visit with them at Upper Canada Village and then stayed overnight with them at their homestead, and we had a wonderful time. Owlet didn’t have a morning nap in the car on the way down, despite scheduling things so she would, but I nursed her to sleep mid-afternoon after a picnic, and she slept for forty-five minutes while everyone else went off and did different things. I just zoned out next to her in the shade of some trees and enjoyed the sounds of the wind, water, and horses (partly because it was nice to do, especially because I was fried and crashing, and partly because I’d forgotten both my spindle and my knitting at home). Sparky learned how to milk a cow there (and did well enough that he was using both hands, not just one like the farmer started him off with), how to pump water and slop pigs, and he helped feed the chickens and gather the eggs before supper back at Rowan Tree Farm. He has decided that he is going to be a farmer when he grows up, which I think is a very noble calling in this day and age, considering all the other cool stuff a seven-year-old thinks is awesome and shiny.
Owlet was entranced by all the horses (it was a horse weekend, with various exhibitions and competitions and so forth), and she got to see her first real live baas. I don’t think it really sank in until one came right up to the fence that Sparky was standing on and gave one of those loud, directed BAAAAAAs that sheep can give. She said “Baaaaa! Baaaaaa!” all the way back along the road. She climbed all over Carter, t! and Jan’s husky-collie mix dog, too, who was beautifully patient with her, and kept trying to give him her open-mouthed kisses on his very wet nose. And as a delightful bonus, she slept the whole night through there (yippee! she was certainly tired enough after a long day outside with so many things to see).
I am so thankful that my children have these opportunities, and that we have friends who enable them to experience things like this.
Also, they were selling dyed roving at $10 a pound in the store, wool from the Village sheep carded on site in the woollen mill (the first place we visited, much to Sparky’s excitement — I love this child — and wow, the size of the water-powered carding machines!). So I got to buy myself a treat at a crazy low price! I got some navy and some deep chocolate brown. They were also selling yarn they’d dyed with natural dyes, and I wish they’d been selling some of the lovely soft olivey green or pale purple as roving. Or even some undyed roving, so I could experiment with some food-based dyeing myself.
It was a wonderful way to spend the last weekend of summer. School starts tomorrow for Sparky, his first day of grade two in an 80% French classroom at a brand new school. I’ve been trying for a week to make a ten-minute appointment with his new teacher so he can see that s/he is nice, not intent on making him miserable, and seeing a bit of the school to give him a bit of familiarity, but every time I call the receptionist tells me to call back a day later and they may have the class lists by then. As of today, it turns out that the school board isn’t releasing them until tomorrow, which means I’ve been made a liar to my son for promising him that meeting. Well, we’ll go over after lunch and walk around the outside, anyway, so he has at least that. I’ve left a voicemail with the school principal, whom we know, as she was the principal at Sparky’s school when he was in kindergarten, and if she has a moment maybe we can meet with her, but I know she must be insanely busy today so I’m not holding my breath.
In work news, I am partway through a copy edit for my publisher (an adult novel, very fun, and it’s about an ornithologist so my knowledge of birds is coming in quite useful!), and was asked yesterday to take on another book to edit concurrently because they’re in a bind, on a shorter deadline than usual for the second project, with a higher fee for both projects as a thank you. With Labour Day weekend coming up, plus both Sparky’s and HRH’s schools closed on the 4th for the provincial election, I have more time to work, and so work I will. It’s either feast or famine for a freelancer, and after such a long famine I need all the work I can get. My mother-in-law has also been booked for a Grandma Day here with Owlet that week, too, so I have another day there to finish up the second project. I’ve already been working for two to three hours a night after the kids are in bed, but now I shall edit like a mad editing thing.
I ended up knitting two of those lovely squishy washcloths during the Olympics. They’re seriously awesome to use, so I will knit more. Both my mother and my mother-in-law hinted pretty plainly that they’d like some for Christmas, too, so it’s a good thing I memorized the pattern.
Everyone in my online mum’s group did great stuff during the Olympics, and someone knit their first socks on a whim, which inspired me to consider it as well. I was rummaging through my stash of handspun to find sock yarn, and came to a screeching halt when I realised that I drop double-pointed needles left right and centre, I don’t know how to graft toes, I can’t read a pattern with any kind of reliability, and the phrase “turning a heel” makes me stick my fingers in my ears and go “la la la I can’t hear you.” So in the interests of keeping me excited about knitting instead of running screaming for the hills the way I did when I tried to knit a set of fingerless gloves four years ago, I decided to knit a second washcloth instead. Group enthusiasm is catching. Hanging out with a group of enabling knitters is dangerous in that kind of situation.
I am moving ever closer to socks, though, in baby steps. It’s like gradual exposure this way! First, I am trying Owlet-size legwarmers on double-pointed needles (hereafter referred to as DPNs), because I do not get along with DPNs. So far, I have discovered that I can do 2×2 rib with mostly no mistakes now, and KnitPicks Harmony DPNs make everything easier. But DPNs are still deadly slow as compared to how I knit in the round with circular needles, because I have to fuss with them in the pause between the stitches on each needle. Ceri lent me her full set of Knitpicks DPNs, and I’m going to have to buy my own. I have a single set of bamboo needles dating back from my failed wristwarmers, but they’re so dull that they’re driving me mad. I think I will get the 5″ set, as 6″ is just a wee bit too long for my hands. Practising with the DPNs is required, too, because I won a skein of pretty hand-dyed sock yarn in our Olympic knitting draw, and now everyone wants to see me actually knit socks with it.
I found a box of handspun and fibre at the back of Bria’s closet a few days ago. (It used to be my closet, remember, so that’s not as odd as it sounds. I do not have a secret, magical yarn store the opens out of the back of my daughter’s closet. But if I did, it would be called Yarnia.) In it I found 12 ounces of the wool/bamboo blend I’d ordered when I fell in love after spinning 56 grams that I got from Ariadne Knits a couple of years ago. I also found 4 oz of black Shetland that I ordered after spinning some that Bonnie gave me when she lent me her Schacht-Reeves for a month while she recovered from eye surgery. Two bags of fibre that I adore spinning! Twelve ounces of the wool/bamboo!
I also found two of the ginormous Bernat Handicrafter cotton skeins in a box back there, too, which is fabulous because it’s what I used for both my washcloths, and I was considering buying some and weaving dish towels with it. Now I’ve already got the yarn. (Next, I would like to find a box of misplaced time, in which I could actually spin, weave, knit, read, and nap, please. Writing would be nice, too.)
Finding it was like Christmas! I’m a little upset that I forgot I had it all, though. That does not fill me with confidence. Sure, my stash has split into in two or three different storage places for over a year, and it’s not like I’ve been checking it regularly because I haven’t had time to knit or spin, but still, I’d like to think that my memory is better than that, especially about fibre I was so excited about when I ordered it, because I loved it so much. I also found a couple of braids of indie-dyed spinning fibre, one of which I did miss; I was beginning to doubt the memory I had of buying it. This should be a lesson to me to photograph everything I buy and enter it into my Ravelry stash ASAP. That all came to a grinding halt about eighteen months ago ago (gee, I wonder why), although I can’t use that as an excuse, really, because some of this stuff predates that. More catching up to do, I guess…
Since I failed at going back to keep monthly track of my reading in this journal, I will mention here that I lately reread Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey before reading the sequel Glamour in Glass, which was excellent, and then I read Ally Carter’s fun YA book I’d Tell You I Love You but Then I’d Have to Kill You. I am working my way through Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn as well, and for some reason I put Amanda Downum’s Kingdoms of Dust down a month ago and didn’t pick it up again till today.
After all the drama with having to cancel my trip and the conference and then finding out that I couldn’t buy my iPad two weeks ago… not one but two iPads were offered to me within a space of seven days, both won as prizes by people who won’t/don’t use them. The first was exactly the iPad I was going to buy, given to me at Owlet’s first birthday party with basically an admonition to not refuse it, to think of it as a permanent loan or to pay whatever I thought was fair for it whenever I could. The second was offered via a friend of HRH’s from college who didn’t even know I was looking for one, with the same permanent loan/eventual payment whenever rule. HRH will likely end up with that one, which is great because he’s been exploring trials of drawing and art apps on this one, and is really excited about the possibility of working on the backgrounds for the Sunset Val web comic digitally. I was so blown away. It feels like the universe was apologizing for all the crap that’s been flying around lately. Here, have this new toy, which you can also work on, and also not so coincidentally a reminder that friends absolutely rock.
Sparky and I had optometrist appointments this past week (there, we have now covered his delinquent dentist and eye doctor visits). His eyes are great, as we expected, though there’s a slight imbalance the doctor wants to check up on again in a year. For my eyes, the doctor was a little surprised to discover that there had been almost no change at all in the past ten years. It’s so minute that there’s no reason to get new glasses, which is somewhat disappointing since I’ve had one pair for nine years and the other for four and I was allowing myself to think about new frames, but also a relief because really, where would the money come from? He told me to come back in two years, which is when he wants to see Owlet, too. While I have the glasses for general wear, when I told him that they actually made my eyes a bit worse when I tried to read highway signs he confirmed that they were mostly for reading and up-close daily use. So I took them off to drive home, and it was a relief to do it and know that I wasn’t being irresponsible somehow.
I think I’m growing my hair again. I realized the other day that if I hadn’t been hacking an inch to two inches off every two months for the past year and a half whenever it got to the awkward length, it would be officially long again already, around the bottom of my shoulder blades. We’ll see what happens, and see how long I can stick to “no, I’m growing my hair again, really” this time. I really like how I look in pictures of it at chin length, but I feel I can do more with it long. (Who am I kidding? What do I do with it other than twist it up and clip it?)
I got cheque for the first copy edit I did post-baby! It all has to go places, so I shouldn’t have walked into Reitmans after depositing it at the bank, because I found two tops I loved and couldn’t justify buying them, even though there was a “buy one get 50% off the second” sale. I’m just starting to wear non-nursing clothes, and the last time I wore my regular wardrobe was two summers ago. None of it thrills me, and it fits oddly — too loose, too short, neither of which is really due to body changes but rather to a shift in how I want to look or feel. I should have at least tried the tops on to discover that they looked awful on me so I could get over it, but I had both kids with me and that wasn’t going to fly. I might set myself a budget and take an hour to go through the local thrift store selection of tops to add something new to my basic jeans-and-t-shirts selection.
I’ve had a growing list of notes to blog, so I’m going to separate them into two or three shorter posts. (I know you’re glad about that. My posts tend to be novellas. Well, maybe novelettes.)
About a week ago I found Owlet standing a couple of steps up the stairs. I whisked her down. Half an hour later I found her four or five steps up, trying to hoist herself up to the landing. So the next day HRH built another gate and hinged it to the bottom of the stairs. Walking at eleven months, climbing stairs at twelve. I am so not ready for this.
Having learned how to wave goodbye, Owlet is now applying it to everything that moves. She can point to the door and wave, saying “bye-bye” when we talk about someone leaving, too. The other day her local grandparents came to pick Sparky up for a day out, and when she was told that Grandma had to leave she made a very, very sad face, waved, and said “bye-bye” in a heartbroken tone.
She had a little celebration on her actual birthday with godfamilies and honorary uncles in attendance, and then another a week later for all her grandparents. Both were lovely. She got books and clothes and a couple of toys, some of which we had to put away for when she’s a bit older. Our gift to her at the first one was a stuffed lamb, because she loves baas, and for the second (although I didn’t bother to wrap it, they went right into the china cupboard) was a set of tiny teacups and saucers with a delicate rose pattern. They’re the perfect size for a child’s tea party — an actual tea party, not a dolly party. I found them at a thrift store while seeking a used canning rack. I shall keep my eyes open for little plates to match/complement them. These were the cupcakes at the first party:
Here she is opening some presents at her family birthday dinner:
And this was Her Owletship nomming on ribs at that second party:
I took her for her 12 month vaccinations last Tuesday. It’s three shots here, two in one arm and the last in the other. She didn’t bat an eye at the first two, and just made an “oi, what are you doing?” squawk at the third. Brave girl! Or maybe she just has my crazy high pain tolerance. The nurse was a bit taken aback at how calm she was. She had a reaction to it five days later, spots on her legs that migrated to her torso and arms, but they began fading four days after that. I was warned the spots might happen; they’re less common than the fever and irritability, but they’re also not uncommon. Parents are always warned, but I’ve never actually seen it.
Her molars. Oh good gods, her molars. Earlier this week, there were two nights in a row that were awful. She woke up every hour or two, crying. She’s been whingey and clingy in general, warmish to touch although the thermometer swears she’s normal, her appetite is a wee bit off, and she’s just generally miserable, not wanting to play or read or anything. You can’t put her down to get things done, because she just stands there and wails to be picked up again. Everything’s just wrong, all the time. It’s got to be the molars.
Also, she randomly caught a 12″ diameter ball that Sparky tossed to her in the backyard yesterday. Everyone was surprised. It hasn’t happened again. What has happened again in that Owlet has been bonked with the ball repeatedly as Sparky tries to replicate the experience.
A year ago, after two or three weeks of extremely frustrating prodromal labour, I woke up at 4:00 in the morning with the usual contractions and 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.
We had trouble those first five weeks, what with the undiagnosed tongue-tie and the major feeding issues related to it. And the emotional issues, too, thanks to the CLSC nurses pressuring me about her slow weight gain. On the other hand, we acquired a wonderful pediatrician who said we were doing just fine, who was (and is) thrilled to bits with how we handled things, so I think we came out ahead regardless. And everything was solved, as anyone looking at the terribly plump Owlet in months four through eleven can affirm.
Owlet can walk, do that stumbling toddler run with her arms out in front of her for balance (usually accompanied by a huge grin and a stuttering giggle), wave hi and bye (and has started doing it to things passing on the street and people she sees while she’s out), open the pantry and pull out a sleeve of crackers (and try to eat them through the cellophane, argh), splash some very impressive splashes in the bathtub, climb up two stairs (only if unsupervised, and she can’t get back down yet), slide off the chesterfield by herself (but not climb onto it), and handle sippy cups like a pro. She has darling little baby curls in that nondescript light brown/dark blonde colour, and grey eyes that are sometimes more blue and sometimes more green, like her dad’s eyes. She loves food so much that she stuffs whole handfuls into her mouth at a time at meals. She can use a spoon or fork once or twice at a sitting, but usually ends up accidentally dumping off what it’s carrying as she flips it over on its way to her mouth, and then drops the utensil in favour of her more dexterous fingers. We’re still working on slowing her down so that she doesn’t stuff a billion pieces of something in her mouth at once, then choke when she takes a drink or tries to swallow it all. Sometimes we get so cross that we take her plate away and put a single bit of food down for her at a time, but that frustrates her as well and ensures that no one can eat in peace. She has eight teeth, and we are fairly certain her molars are starting to move. She learned how to blow kisses on her birthday, but she doesn’t kiss her hand; she kisses her pointing finger and then points it at whoever she’s blowing kisses to.
She talks all the time. She’s at that delightful stage where she babbles in a lovely liquidy flow, and it actually sounds like a foreign language, complete with inflections and with facial expressions. She is especially fond of words that begin with the letter B, such as bye, ball, book, and baa. Cat, meow, woof, more, that (da), Mama, and Dada are in regular rotation. Today hat and Gryff joined the lexicon. She doesn’t usually repeat words we give her, but every once in a while she’ll do it out of the blue and it just sounds so odd. She’s better with books than she used to be, but she does turn pages very quickly, so reading the full story isn’t always possible.
She likes to roughhouse with Sparky and her dad and Gryffindor. If they’re piled on top of one another, she throws herself on top of them all, chortling. If anyone is lying down on the floor, she will try to tickle them (and because she is one, and her dexterity is not yet refined, this often means she pummels them with enthusiasm). Gryffindor has the patience of a saint with her, as she buries her fists in his fur and hauls up handfuls of him, chews on the tip of his tail, or drops her whole head into his belly and rubs her face in his fluff. He just lies there and purrs. She watched Sparky play with Gryff a couple of weeks ago, dragging a string around for him and dangling the Little Gryff toy for him to bat at. (Little Gryff is a small crocheted amigurumi Ceri made for Sparky that Gryff appropriated to carry around and sleep with.) The next morning Owlet found the Little Gryff in her box of toys, where it had been tossed during cleanup the night before. She pulled it out and toddled into the kitchen where the cat was sitting under the table. She crouched down and pushed the toy at him. We watched, fascinated, as she worked out how to dangle the toy from the yarn tied to it, then as Gryff finally clued in to what she was doing, and rolled on his back to bat at it. They played together for about ten minutes.
She wears size 4 diapers (we’re using disposables at night because she sleeps through and a cloth diaper just can’t handle eleven hours, no matter how we stuff it; the damp feeling wakes her up), size 4 shoes (although her toes are peeking over the end of her sandals, so it may well be size 5), and size 18-24 months clothes. She loves to eat crackers, cheese, bananas, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, peaches, and anything else I hand her. She loves to drink milk with her lunch and supper just like Sparky, and water during the day. Nursing is down to when she wakes up in the morning, and before her morning and afternoon naps, although occasionally she asks for a quick nosh in the afternoon before supper, or when she is very upset about something. HRH gives her a bottle at night, and that’s their time together. She used to fall asleep in his arms, but now when she’s finished the bottle she squirms, so her puts her down awake in her crib and says good night, and she beetles about and plays with her stuffed rabbits and reads her cloth books until she falls asleep.
The summer camp routine really helped structure her day. Now the day runs roughly like this: She wakes around 6:00, nurses, then has some Cheerios for breakfast while she plays, then has fruit as a second breakfast at the table around 8:30 or 9:00. She goes down for a nap around 9:45, and sleeps about an hour and a half. Lunch is at 12:00, and the afternoon nap happens around 2:30, again for about an hour and a half. Supper is around 6:00, and bedtime routine starts at 7:00. She’s usually asleep by 7:45, and sleeps all the way through the night now, as a rule.
She is great fun to be with, although she seems to be a bit of an accident magnet these days. In the past seven days there have been four incidents of broken glass, three of which have involved her directly somehow (a jar being knocked out of the fridge while she’s standing there looking into it, a floor lamp falling over while she tries to slip past it and the glass shade shattering, and so forth). She loves to pull toys out of boxes, gloves and scarves out of baskets, and dishcloths off rails. She is terribly social and loves to be out and about, especially in grocery stores and shops of any kind because she can people-watch.
We may be her world, but Sparky is her hero. She adores being with him, and will kind of stalk him with a low ongoing giggle and open, eager smile, her hands out to touch him. She wants to do anything he’s doing, and if he plays with her she’s in absolute heaven. We put both of them in the bath together the other night to play, instead of just dipping her in and swishing her around to get her clean, and they splashed one another and played with the stacking cups and giggled for ages. He kept giving her hugs and saying, “You know, having a bath with you is really fun.” He does get a little frustrated when he tries to build a full tower with her blocks for her and she knocks it down three blocks into the endeavour, but we remind him that he used to do the same thing, and that she is having fun no matter what.
The other day I carried Owlet in the ring sling at the library, as it was just a quick visit to drop off books and check the new releases shelf, so getting her into the stroller wasn’t worth it. I grabbed a book and was standing in line to check it out when she waved her hand at it and said, “Boh.” “Yes, book,” I said. “Boh,” she said, a little louder. “Yes, it’s a book,” I said again. Then she slapped the book good and hard, with a crack that echoed through the tiny, silent library, and squawked, “BOO!” with a huge grin.
You can’t shush a baby who has just gleefully identified a book in the library. I’m sure there’s a moral law against it.
(For comparison: Here is Sparky’s twelve-month post.)