Monthly Archives: December 2013

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.

Santa 2013!

Hey, guess what? Owlet’s 28-month post is still not up, because I need pictures that are on HRH’s phone and we are never with it enough when we have a moment to actually download and transfer them from his computer to mine. Yes, that’s right; we have no lives, and are brain-dead a lot of the time when we do have a second to sit down.

In its place, please enjoy the annual Santa photo!

(“What are you going to ask Santa for?” we inquired of Owlet before the visit. “Tea,” she said. Thumbs up, kid.)

For the purposes of comparison and exclaiming at how the children have grown:

The 2012 Santa photo
The 2011 Santa photo

Early December

We have just lost all our snow to a warm spell and some rain. The children are not happy at all. Neither am I, really; I need snow to get into the spirit of the season. HRH hung up our Christmas lights two weeks ago on a beautifully warm 15 C day, and we plugged them in on the first day of December. After this moderately insane weekend of dress rehearsal, rescheduled piano rehearsal, and cello recital, we will bring in the boxes of Christmas stuff and start decorating. That will help.

We are pretty much set, gift-wise. The kids are covered, or we are in the process of collecting the very last little things we need (there is a surprise coming for Sparky, oh, yes there is, one that is just about equivalent to the HO scale train set he got a couple of years ago). One of our goddaughters is done; the other two will be done in a week or so. My parents are covered; HRH is in charge of figuring out what’s happening for his parents.

As for one another… I paid for half his new leather jacket at Thanksgiving as my early Yule gift to him, and he bought me a set of knitting needles that I have been tracking from the sender for over a week now. And today the Canada Post website told me that my needles are in the city! The people who thought up parcel tracking via website were either geniuses or evil individuals who liked to torture others. The parcel is so close, but it’s Friday and it’s not marked as out for delivery, so now I have to wait all weekend for them to arrive, which will probably happen next Monday. And if the seller wrapped them in Christmas paper, liked she joked she would, it will be even worse, because then they will be in the house but I will feel badly about opening a wrapped Christmas gift before Christmas itself. Because yes, of course I will want to look at them, and even use them.

Owlet’s monthly post is a couple of days late and will go up this weekend, because I wanted to include the very exciting Move To a Big Girl Bed that is happening tomorrow. I’m washing her new sheets and coverlet right now.

Owlet: Twenty-Eight Months Old!

(Yay, finally! I’ll backdate this in a day or two.)

Owlet is two, and we’re seeing that in her behaviour. There are sudden leaps in vocabulary and creative thinking, and wonderful personality quirks emerging, and there are sudden stormy breakdowns over what we think are minor things.

One of her current quirks that I just love is her interest in writing down words. Sometimes she just dictates letters to me and I write them down for her, but other times she will bring a pencil and paper over, hoist herself up on the chesterfield next to me, and say, “Gandma and Papa,” and point to the paper. So I write down Grandma and Papa. Then she says, “Mirva.” And I write down Minerva. “Giffindar,” she says next. I write Gryffindor. “Daddy!” she says, pleased. “Mummy! Nana! Gandad! Eeeyam! Blue! Geen! Pupple!” Then she takes the paper and slides off the chesterfield and carries it around with her for a while. It’s her way of taking the things she loves with her.

Potty training has really taken off, so well that we can pretty much say that she’s done. We keep finding the little potty full of stuff, which means she’s trotting off and taking care of things on her own without telling us. One of her newest phrases is “Clean all day!” And in fact, we have had a couple of dry nights as well, which is pretty awesome.

Also in the line of common two-year-old behaviour, we get lots of “SELF!” She insists on getting dressed on her own (even her socks, which amazes me, because Sparky could not get the hang of putting socks on until he was almost four). She does her own shoes and boots, and her Robeez slippers, and when we have come home from school and she has put her own slippers on she enthusiastically puts mine on for me, too. Of course, I have to raise my foot to her eye level, which is kind of hard on my lower back, but it’s worth it to see how proud she is of getting them on my feet.

Bedtime this past month has been a challenge. There has been some raging crying some nights at bedtime, and I’ve had to sit next to her bed and hold her hand until she’s asleep. It’s like Jekyll and Hyde; you don’t know which Owlet you’ll get when you start the bedtime routine. We recently caught on to part of it; she thinks she’s missing something when we put her to bed. So we showed her Sparky in his pyjamas in bed, we got into our jammies early to say goodnight to her, and we turned off all the lights so when she peeks out of her room she sees that the house has gone to bed. It has mostly worked, so I think we finally figured it out. In the weeks leading up to the switch to the big bed we’ve been having a lot of “Sit Mummy, sit” when I put her to bed; she wanted company while she fell asleep. That would have been fine, except when she has company she thinks it’s playtime. It’s one of the reasons we figured it was time for the switch to the bed from the crib. It was kind of a reset of the bedtime routine. Now we curl up in her bed to read together, and snuggle and sing, and she knows she has a defined cuddle time after that.

The biggest news, and the reason this post was delayed a few days, was the introduction of the big girl bed. Owlet is in complete and utter head-over-heels love with it.

The first nap was a bit rough, but after that everything has gone swimmingly. Once we’ve finished stories, songs, and cuddle and we leave, we can hear her patter across the floor and crack open the door to peek out, but then she closes the door and races back and goes to sleep. In fact, we have to wake her up most mornings. She’s sleeping so hard that not even opening her blind and letting in the cat wakes her up…

We are seeing more sudden toddler breakdowns resulting from things like telling her she has to sit at the table to eat peanut butter and crackers, like we always have. No, she wants to eat them on the chesterfield, right here, right now, and the world will end if she does not. Do you want the world to end, Mummy? Of course you don’t. So bring the crackers HERE. Except we keep calmly telling her that if she wants PB crackers she has to come to the table for them, and it’s like we’re telling her that we have to cut off one of her arms before she gets that snack.

Since we’re talking about food, I’ll mention that like Sparky did at her age, she loves gravy on everything. “Dips? Dips?” she’ll ask when she gets served food. Grandma and Papa served applesauce with the ribs the last time we were over for dinner and she was all for it. Maybe we can get away with warming up some applesauce and putting it on her plate to dip everything into, because making quick pan gravy at just about every meal is getting old fast. (I remember making a large batch of gravy and freezing it in an ice cube tray when Sparky was at this stage; maybe Ill have to do that again.) I introduced her to mayonnaise the other day when she demanded dips for her carrot sticks, and I had to give her more three times during that meal alone.

At the end of November my rehearsal with my accompanist was cancelled on a Saturday morning, so I bundled all my equipment back inside, and Owlet decided she needed to come upstairs and that I should play my cello for her. She’s never asked this before. So up we went. I played my recital piece for her, and she was so good! She sat on the chaise longue exactly where I told her she’d have to sit, and I let her hold my Hermione doll while she did. When I was done she slipped down and came over and said, “Help?” So I let her put her hand on my bow hand and push the bow back and forth on the strings, which got her very excited. Then she wanted to do it alone, but I said no. So she grabbed Sparky’s bow and crouched over his cello, trying to play it. I managed to stop her in time there, too. Then I thought… why not?

I asked if she wanted to play her own cello. Yes, yes, Mummy, Owlet cello! So I got her installed in the living room again and went down into the storage room to get the old clunker viola Sparky used to use as his cello. We sat her in one of her tiny chairs, put a box in front of her to rest the viola on, and now we apparently have another cellist in the family.

It’s okay, I don’t think we have to look for a teacher just yet. Besides, we’re still hoping she chooses violin or piano or flute when she’s five and it’s time for music lessons.

As she gains more autonomy, life gets easier. Even with the slowdowns when SELF has to do it, it’s wonderful to be able to give her a direction and let her handle something. And the older she gets, the more easily she plays with Sparky, to both their enjoyment. They love one another very much, and even when they get frustrated with one another, it blows past quickly.