Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summer Vacation Begins

Portfolios have been brought home, report cards received (all very good, thank you), the backpack has been emptied, and we are on summer hols here in the dollhouse. We’re bumping against one another a bit while we find our summer rhythm.

In a nutshell:

It is hot. And humid. And stormy.

HRH demolished the old, rotting fence on the north-west side of the property and built a new one — in three days. This is it, only halfway done:

Owlet has a cold, a nose-streaming, whiny, sneezy cold. She must have caught it at the daycare get-to-know-you picnic party. Ah, the joys of challenging the immune system.

I have a concert in four days. That would be July 1, if you missed it. We’re playing Dvorak Slavic Dances, and Strauss, and Warlock’s Capriol suite, among others. Nice stompy and swingy stuff.

I finished spinning the undyed BFL/silk single and plied it with the waiting single I spun from the lavender/green/chestnut braid of My Own Fibre Club BFL/silk I dyed in April. And I completely misjudged the weight. (Not the mass, the diameter of the yarn.) So now I have 1100 yards of light silk laceweight, which does not work for what I was spinning it for at all. (Which was a lace shawlette calling for 475 yards of sock weight yarn. Yeah, I really blew it. I should have chain-plied the dyed single and skipped the other ply entirely.)

For my June edition of My Own Fibre Club, I dyed some silk hankies to spin in the upcoming Tour de Fleece. I did a two-part process, dyeing them with yellow, purple, blue, and green in the first step, then overdyeing them with blue in the second, and ended up with some truly lovely Peacock hankies.

Last weekend Sparky had his birthday party #3, the Friends From School edition, and it went very well indeed. HRH scratch-built a Minecraft cake landscape from cubes of fondant that he painted. It was a big hit.

Books… I read Elizabeth Bear’s The Shattered Pillars and it was very good, managing to not fall victim to middle-book-of-a-trilogy syndrome. I read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which was so very, very perfect and bright and sharp. I am rereading Possession, because I have to do that every five years or so.

No work coming in, which is both worrisome and welcome. My fibro meds aren’t settling the way I was hoping they would; maybe it will take another couple of weeks to adjust.

The kitten is settling in very, very well. She loves playing with the children, purrs loudly when she snuggles into your lap, and has quite the personality. Gryff approves.

That’s what’s happening. Back into the fray.

Recent Excitement

1. We have a new kitten. She’s three months old, and it only took our big orange cat Gryffindor two days of suspicion before he started romping with her. His hisses were half-hearted, though. I think they were mostly for show.

Gryff has been clingy and needy since Cricket left us. He’s always been one of a multiple-cat household, and very social; he was miserable without another cat around. The original plan was to get another cat at the end of the summer, when Owlet turned two. Well, that plan was moved up for Gryff’s sake. Last Sunday afternoon we visited the city shelter, and came home with a wee brown and grey tabby. Meet Minerva (McGonagall, of course):

She’s zippy and so energetic that she may tire out both the kids and Gryff, now that he acknowledges that she exists in his own reality. The first evening, she raced laps in our bedroom, under the bed, up one side, running across under my knees, throwing herself off the other side, then repeating the whole thing. She’s three months old, is slim and tiny, and has wee kitten claws and wee kitten teeth. We put her carrier in a quiet part of the living room when we got her home, and I found Owlet pushing the straw of her water bottle and goldfish crackers in through the wire door to share with the kitten on two different occasions while we made supper.

We all had a really good feeling about this. We wouldn’t have brought her home otherwise, as disappointed as everyone would have been to come home kitten-less. We’re good at judging personalities and energy and estimating how they’ll fit into the energy of the family and house. Minerva was grounded, forthright and self-assured without being aggressive, and wasn’t afraid of the children. She fit in right away.

2. Sparky turned eight last Tuesday, and we celebrated his birthday this weekend en famille. My parents came in from out of town and HRH’s parents came over, too. The birthday boy requested cheeseburgers and ice cream cake for his birthday feast, which also doubled as our Father’s Day celebration, so that’s what we had for lunch on Sunday. He specified ice cream cake with an Oreo crust, a bottom layer of chocolate ice cream, and a top layer of peanut butter ice cream, so I made that Sunday morning. We had it with whipped cream and homemade hot fudge sauce, and it was really good. My mother, who does not eat desserts, had a slice and enjoyed it immensely, which was all I needed to know it was really good. (I knew everyone else would like it, and I’m glad they did. It’s just that Mum doesn’t eat desserts, so wow.)

3. Sunday afternoon Sparky and I had our end-of-year cello recital. Sparky played “Song of the Wind” extremely well, clearly, in tune, and in tempo. I had the pleasure of accompanying him again. I did a “Chanson Triste” that people thought was excellent, but I knew had been better in rehearsal. And then we played lots of good movie music as an ensemble, and we totally killed our teacher’s original four-cello-part arrangement of “Skyfall,” which we segued into after playing the James Bond theme. (I don’t know about the audience, but most of the students up on stage had goosebumps!) My teacher now has twenty students, so it made for a long afternoon, but it was good. It was great to have Marc M and Marc L in the audience, and both HRH’s parents and my parents this time; my parents haven’t heard me play for years.

My teacher is raising her lesson fees for the first time in ages next year, so it looks like I’ll have to stick to my biweekly schedule instead of returning to a weekly lesson. (Assuming I ever work again. It’s been six weeks since the publisher sent me a project. Feast or famine, that’s what this is, and I know it. Still, work would be nice, what with Owlet’s private daycare costs about to begin in August. Especially since the whole point in putting her into daycare was so that I could get work done without making myself sicker.)

4. The Tour de Fleece is coming up! This is a for-fun spinning event that runs concurrent with the Tour de France. I was so excited that I cleared my wheels two weeks ago, which was kind of a dumb move. So I’m doing my vanilla spinning now to get it out of the way and fill my time before the TdF begins at the end of June. I’ve got an undyed BFL and BFL/silk blend going on my Symphony to ply with a bobbin of dyed BFL/silk I’ve already spun, and I’m doing some longdraw singles from heathered plum roving on my Baynes Colonial to get used to woollen spinning on it.

5. It’s the last week of school for Sparky. (We got next year’s supply and fee lists today, and I’m having trouble parsing the fact that he’ll be in grade three in September.) He has a final birthday party coming up next Sunday for five friends. Then after that it’s the Canada Day concert, two weeks off for everyone, and then day camp begins for Sparky. I’ve made it through the past two weeks; I just need to make it through the next couple.

Sparky: Eight Years Old!

These birthday photo posts are getting very long. Hmm…

There was a wave of “no way he’s eight!” going around Twitter and Facebook this morning, and really, we’re right there with you all.

Eight years ago today, during a humid heatwave, we unexpectedly found ourselves with someone who wasn’t scheduled to arrive till after the Wicca book proofs were handed in um till after the first draft of the green witch book had been handed in er till the nursery was ready well till we were fully unpacked from the move for another nine weeks.

One…

Two…

Three…

Four…

Five…

Six…

Seven…

EIGHT!

Eight years ago he was born nine weeks early, and we’ve been trying to keep up with him ever since. (That thing about preemies sometimes being slower at milestones and having to adjust gestational/chronological age expectations? Totally untrue in our case.)

I love his vocabulary, I love his weird sense of humour, I love how he tells stories that go on and on (and on… and even when I am exasperated because he can’t draw them to a close, I love his imagination). I love how he can look at something two-dimensional and turn it into a three-dimensional structure with Lego or another building medium. He’s really into plasticine and modelling compounds right now.

I don’t know what level he’s reading at any more. He just reads, and reads anything and everything, and in both English and French. HRH had to put the kibosh on Sparky looking at the open Harry Potter book they’re reading together at night, because Sparky is reading silently to himself and is going much faster than HRH reads aloud. I’ve come in for my turn reading to him a couple of times recently and found him reading a few chapters ahead in The Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, the chapter book we’re reading together right now, too.

He’s wearing size 7-8 shirts, and size 7 pants for length (but his size 6 shorts are fitting him just fine in the waist, and even some of his old size 5 ones). He’s in size 13 or youth size 1 shoes, depending on the style.

This year has been absolutely wonderful for him at school. It was hard at the beginning, but his teacher has been excellent, and he’s worked hard both in class and at home, and he’s now pretty much bilingual. We are super proud of him, and I have no doubt that his end-of-year report card will blow us away just like his last one did. He’s worked hard at cello, too, and he’s excited about the recital this weekend. This summer he has four weeks of his arts day camp, and he’s lookig forward to that.

He is thoughtful, sensitive, loving, and enjoys sharing what he loves with other people. He and Owlet play together wonderfully, and it has been such a privilege to watch him grow and learn. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that he’ll be in Grade Three in a couple of months.

Owlet:Twenty-Two Months Old!

Real conversations are what are making us stop and think about how far we’ve come these days. “No milk, thank you. Outside, please? Outside?” Owlet says when we offer her a drink. She is starting to do that singsong “reading along” thing when we read her stories, and wordless “singing along” with music in the car, shaping the sounds of the lyrics without actually saying the precise words themselves. “Tight,” she reminds me when I unbuckle her from her seat in the car, squeezing her stuffed rabbit in her arms, promising me that she’ll not drop it or lose with while we’re out. “Squeeeeeeeze!” she says suddenly when she’s sitting on my lap to get her shoes on, catching my arms and pulling them around her so I can give her a hug.

This month produced the first unprompted “I love you, Mummy” (and only the second time she’d said it ever). One weekend morning, she wandered up to me and leaned her head on my knee (not easy, as I was cross-legged on the settee so she had to bend at the waist to get to the proper level) and said, “I love you, Mummy.” Then she stood up and wandered off again. HRH looked at me and said, “And if anything was wrong, all is now forgiven!”

She had her first visit to a farm when we spent Victoria Day weekend with my parents. Here is a summary of the day:

    PONIES ARE AWESOME.
    No, wait; TRACTORS ARE AWESOME.
    Why are we leaving the farm? Why are you taking me away from my FAVOURITEST THINGS EVER?

In other words, it was an enormous success. There were three vintage and antique tractors that she could climb on, and she had great fun doing that. She went for a tractor-drawn wagon ride around the farm, and we saw turkeys, rabbits, chickens, and goats. “Goats! Goats!” she kept telling people. She even took the farmer’s hand and tried to get him to come over to see the goats, as if he was unfamiliar with his own livestock. While we were there, Sparky rode a pony for the first time, and she was fascinated. She had to think about it for a bit and watch other people before asking, “Poheys? Poheys? Neigh neigh?” So we gave her a ride, too, and she sat there very proudly while being led around the paddock. At the third corner, she looked at the spectators and said very primly, “Yeehaw.” She just about killed everyone.

While we were visiting my parents, Owlet also had her first real large playground experience. (Because I keep my kids locked up, you know. Actually, there just aren’t very many around us.) She’s at a great age to watch the other kids and figure out what to do that way. She had some fun with the swings, seriously considered the climbing wall, and entertained herself by picking up handfuls of the hot, fine sand and dumping them into my hands, until she decided that pouring it into my shoes was more fun. She did the small slide a couple of times with her Granddad helping her, then decided she wanted to do the big slide, thank you very much. So I got her up there through the climbing structure while Granddad waited at the bottom. Except she’s not heavy enough to keep up her momentum, and she stopped halfway down! In the end she compromised on the curved slide with Sparky, and had a wonderful time. Appropriately, when it was time to go, we told her she could go down the slide “once more for the Queen,” as it was Victoria Day. After that we went down to the lakeside and sat on the rocks, throwing stones into the breakers of Lake Ontario. This was the best thing ever. (Tractors? What tractors? There are rocks here. And water.)

She really enjoyed her hour exploring the new daycare last week. She was a little unsure of the toys that made noise – I think we have all of one toy that makes noise when you press buttons, and it is mercifully very quiet – but she was very interested in all the different play stations, and already has her own little hook and cubby with her name on them, all ready for when it opens at the beginning of August.

She loves exploring her environment. Dandelions were her biggest thing this past month. She picked them on walks, and on the way to meet Sparky after school, carrying handfuls of them and trying to blow dandelion clocks. Or rather, we’re working on actually blowing on them instead of snorting them too close to the nose and ending up with a sputtering toddler. We had some terrific rainstorms this past month, too, and she became fascinated by puddles, particularly in combination with her beloved sticks, rocks, and pinecones, stirring them up or dropping them in to see what happens. HRH built a proper sandbox this past weekend, because Owlet plunked herself in the garden and started piling dirt on her legs one day. We put veggies in the garden right after that, so the sandbox will hopefully redirect her enthusiastic digging efforts.

She just invented a little game that she finds hilarious. You have to sit on her bench by the window at one end of the bookcase while she wedges herself into the corner between the wall and the other end of the bookcase and clears her throat. Then you count aloud, “One, two, THREE!” and both of you pop out to look at one another around the bookcase, and she giggles wildly. Then she sobers, looks at you seriously, holds up a finger or two, and says, “Times?” which means, “Can we do this again?”

All of us are having fun with her. She’s of an age where she can romp with Sparky now, who isn’t exactly the most dexterous of kids at the best of times, so sometimes he accidentally bounces her off corners or furniture because they’re going too fast or cut a corner too closely. But they play together with various toys and pillows, and hug one another, and share books, too. It’s so much fun to see them together.