Monthly Archives: August 2013

School Again

Today was Sparky’s first half-day of school. He didn’t sleep well last night, didn’t eat very much this morning, and had worried himself into a low-grade temperature and chills. We dropped Owlet off at daycare half an hour early (more on that in a moment) and drove to school, parked, and joined the throngs of parents and children walking to the schoolyard together. There were about five hundred people milling about, meeting up with friends and awaiting the morning bell that announced the arrival of the teachers with their class list posters decorated to reflect their chosen themes for the year, which they taped up on the walls of the school building so the kids could crowd around and figure out who was in which class. The boys were thrilled to find three of the four who generally hang out together were in the same class. (I feel a bit sorry for the fourth, who was missing his first day and who will be without his mates in a different class tomorrow.)

It was interesting to watch how Sparky’s body language changed over the half-hour I was with him. He started off a bit huddled into himself, holding my hand now and again. When he saw people he knew he relaxed a bit, waving and saying hi oh, so casually, though he still held himself guardedly. And when he saw his very best school friend, he called out, and I could see his body open up and relax completely. He hung around with them, laughing and talking about Minecraft, and it was as if the summer hadn’t happened at all.

His teacher seems very nice. He told me with great excitement that there’s a book on Star Wars vehicles from Episode One in the class library. (Dear Mlle Sophie: You scored a win with that one.) They did a self-evaluation exercise where they were asked to write something they’d had trouble with last year on a small card, then fold it up and hand it in. Sparky wrote ‘math: subtraction,’ which I find interesting, because I’ve never seen him have a problem with that; his difficulty in math lies in mainly in thinking through word problems. He thinks his teacher will keep the cards and bring them out near the end of the year so they can see how far they’ve come. This is the first year of Cycle Two, and they do the first half of the year in French and the second half in English. (After this, I believe it’s just about 50/50 all year long through the rest of Cycle Two and Three.)

Owlet is in her fourth week of daycare, or “cool,” as she calls it. Day one was such a success that the only way I could lure her home was by promising her a bagel. (She has recently become obsessed with fresh bagels. This is both good and bad, as we liv around the corner from a bagel bakery.) The second day I dropped her off, I hung around talking to the educator. After a minute she pointed to the stairs and said, “Shoes. Stairs, Mummy.” The message was very clear: Shoo, lady, you’re cramping my style. When I picked her up that afternoon, we got in the door at home and she started to cry, “No, play more, play….” I comforted her and told her she’d go back to “cool” again tomorrow. “Oh kay,” she said, somewhat suspiciously and grudgingly, like I might be trying to fool her. Napping has been successful, they started potty training the second week they were there because everyone had settled so well, and in general everything is going so well that it’s like she’s been doing daycare all her life. There has been a teacher switch, however, because the educator who was initially slotted to handle this small private daycare (a satellite one to the main daycare the director runs) pulled out in the second week. Fortunately, the director was already talking to someone who had worked with her before, negotiating to bring her in as a swing teacher, and she just stepped in to be full time instead. Owlet loves her, and loves all her little friends there, and it’s only a bit odd to think that she has a social life outside our sphere of responsibility now. She brings home art, and talks randomly about her friends, and in general is thoroughly in love with “cool.”

It’s terrific that school and daycare are only four minutes apart by car in the same neighbourhood. My round trip takes about fifteen minutes, including drop-offs. And it’s a relief to be able to focus on work during the day, all the more so because I’ve been working on back-to-back projects, the last couple of them rush jobs.

Sparky’s Summer So Far

[ED NOTE on 19 AUG 2013: This was originally written two weeks ago. No, three, since it was when Sparky had just begun his second two-week session of camp, and he has been done with camp for a week. Sigh. In my own defence, I was working on a project that ate up all the time ever, because it needed tonnes of fact checking. (Not because things were wrong, I hasten to point out. Just because there were lots of real-world facts, and part of my job is to make sure the author hasn’t mixed things up or misremembered something, especially if those facts affect key plot points.) Anyway, that project is now done, and I will get a nice big cheque for it late next month.

So I’m backdating this instead of updating it. The update is basically that “Yay, Sparky adored camp, and I got to go to the last parents’ day with HRH while HRH’s parents stayed with Owlet, and then we took him out for ice cream. The end.”)]


Sparky is in his second two-week session of day camp, and is loving it. We have impromptu little songs about, “Oooh, I love camp, I love camp, I’m going to camp” in the car on the ten-minute drive there in the morning.

At the end of each two-week session there’s a presentation for the parents on Friday afternoon. Each class has a fifteen-minute block in which to demonstrate their new skills or talk about what they did and learned in the class, and then the bell rings (they use a huge old-fashioned school handbell, and it has a glorious sound) and everyone moves to their next class. At the end, there’s a half-hour concert where the whole camp population sings whatever songs they’ve chosen to work on over the session in choir. As the parents’ afternoon takes place the very same time Owlet’s nap does, I stayed home this time and HRH went. He recorded a couple of Sparky’s demonstrations for me, though.

Sparky chose to do piano this summer as his music class at camp. He learned a two-hand scale and some finger exercises in the first two weeks. We were expecting him to play the scale for his presentation, which is what he told us he was doing, and that’s what he did. There was applause… but then he went right into something else, a simple piece that he played with both hands and read from the music on the piano in front of him. We were so excited. After only two weeks! He really, really enjoys piano, he says. I am slightly anxious, because I want to ask him if he likes it more than cello and would prefer to study it instead, but I don’t know if I want to hear the answer. On one hand, a local teacher for an instrument we didn’t need to lug around would be great. On the other hand, we’d have to prepay a season’s worth of lessons, and we don’t have that kind of available money. Our cello teacher asks for a month’s worth of lessons at a time. And cello is something that we do together, and he benefits from a parent who has a different understanding of the instrument than one who doesn’t play can offer. If he ends up doing Suzuki piano I will end up learning it with him, which is not a bad thing, but also perhaps one more thing I do not need on my plate right now. It is to be seriously ruminated upon, however.

The next thing HRH recorded for me was Sparky’s martial arts demonstration. They did different kicks and punches to break practice boards, which was fun, but the best part was the last bit. Sparky was first in the lineup for this one. The teacher braced, held out his hand with what looked like a pencil upright in it, and Sparky clapped his hands around the instructor’s hand and the pencil thing flipped away. When he was showing me, HRH was excited and said, “Did you see that? That was amazing!” It was filmed far away, so I couldn’t see any detail and had no idea why this was so fantastic. I had to ask a couple of times for it to be explained properly. Turns out the teacher was holding a practice knife, and Sparky hit the tendons in his wrist with one hand and the back of the instructor’s hand with the other, which forces the gripping hand to snap open in reflex. And he did it so well that the practice knife spun up and halfway across the room. So my kid knows the rudiments of disarming someone with a knife. Holy wow.

I finally finished his Gryffindor socks. He loves them, in case you can’t tell.

And since we’re talking about feet… he has worn through his fourth pair of shoes this year. School hasn’t even started yet.

He is very excited about water and pools these days. But he’s resisting actually trusting himself, the water, and the parent teaching him to swim, which is so argh-inducing from the parental POV that we’re pretty much at our wits’ end. It may be time to register him in lessons this fall, at an indoor civic pool. His French is good enough now, which was the main stumbling point before.

He’s currently in love with my Calvin and Hobbes books, and the Mutts collections as well. At least one goes with him everywhere. They’re getting a bit tattered, but since it’s from love, my rule about with keeping books pristine is somewhat relaxed.

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.)