The big news this past month is that we are now reading chapter books together at bedtime!
Last Christmas I gave her a picture book based on a chapter or two of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and she ignored it for months. At the beginning of October she finally pulled it out and asked to read it. We read it three nights in a row, and she was particularly interested in the churning. Why could Mary churn to help Ma, but not Laura? So we discussed the physical demands of churning and the physiological limitations of little people versus bigger people. “You know,” I said, “there’s a whole chapter book about Laura and Mary and their family. Would you like to try reading some of it?” Yes, please, she did, and so I read the first chapter of Little House in the Big Woods to her the next evening. She asked to hear another chapter at her next bedtime, and just like that, chapter books were a go! As I read I realized I had to be prepared for lots of questions. Big Woods goes right into pig butchering and setting traps in the woods and shooting at bears. Fortunately, Owlet is mostly interested in the house and the chores.
She desperately wanted to churn butter after we read that chapter, which expands on the picture book experience. Sure, we could toss cream in the stand mixer and make butter (as my eldest goddaughter and I once did by accident while whipping cream for a tea party), but it’s not exactly authentic. I could put cream in a Mason jar and get her to shake it, except it’s the churn she’s really interested in. (And the wee wooden mould that makes pats of butter with the strawberry shape on top; that was very interesting, too.) It turns out that my awesome friend Megan owns an antique crank churn, so she brought that and a litre of organic cream over one Saturday after our daughters had art class together, I baked scones, and we made the best butter ever to top them with.
(It is worth noting for posterity that Owlet turned the crank for maybe two minutes before running off to play. You’d never have lasted in pioneer days, child.)
The kids found me watching an episode of the BBC Edwardian Farm series and got very excited about that, too, asking to watch the first two episodes in a row a couple of weekends ago. Okay, children! Here, let us appreciate our running water and refrigerator! (My children will never say meat originates in the supermarket, thank you very much.) It is worth noting that they both start speaking with British accents after watching BBC programmes. I find this terribly amusing.
Owlet dressed as Belle for Halloween, much to her joy. (Much to mine, she didn’t want the yellow ballgown, thank goodness. Belle-as-reader with her basket was much more interesting to her. I agree, kid.) The spangly chiffon overlay was the best thing ever. I made it nice and long so she can wear it for dressup as she grows, too.
Even princesses brush their teeth.
They had a Halloween party at school, where the most exciting part was apparently bobbing for apples. “My glasses got wet, so I took them off and Miss June held them for me,” Owlet reported. The Halloween decorations didn’t scare her as much as they did last year, too.
The little girl who used to pick up handfuls of sticks on walks as a toddler, then collected rocks, is now on leaf patrol; she will crouch to pick up almost any leaf she passes. We’ve had a handful of frosts recently, and when we get out of the car at preschool she crouches down to explore it, looking at leaves that are half in a sunbeam and half in shadow with frost in some places but not others, and examining blades of grass or twigs that are frosted. “Can I bring it inside?” she wants to know, and is sad when I explain that no, if she brings it inside, the ice crystals will melt, and it will just be a wet leaf.
Her October art consisted of lots of apple- and fall-themed things and Halloween-themed projects:
She’s still capricious with food; one day I gave her pot roast and she had three helpings, declaring it the best thing ever; I made it an week later and she insisted she didn’t like it, which she has done the last three times I have made it now. She still doesn’t like noodles or pasta unless it’s homemade macaroni and cheese, although she now eats tortellini at school. She loves pork chops (most of the time), but is right off chicken. Her dinners are still mostly vegetarian: cheese, tomatoes, cucumber… although now she has expanded her repertoire to include rolled-up slices of ham.
She sings a lot, just ongoing story songs that incorporate bits of other songs or tunes, describing what she’s doing or making up a story as she goes. Right now her very favourite album is the Broadway cast recording of Beauty and the Beast. In the car she is enjoying They Might Be Giants, especially Here Come the 123s (at last!), although No! has had a few playthroughs and she has rewritten “Robot Parade” to be “Kitten Parade,” which makes her giggle. TV shows she is into at the moment are Charlie and Lola (Sparky is enjoying that, too, which is great; to offset the times when he is irritated with Owlet, I can point out the times when he is supportive and helpful by saying “That a very Charlie thing to do; thank you,” which gets a smile), and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom.
We have started giving her an allowance, which means a chore chart. She makes her bed, sets the table, and tidies up her room and craft table if they need it; we also have things like “get ready to go” on there so we can remind her it’s a job if she dawdles. Being reminded that she doesn’t get “her moneys” if she doesn’t do her tasks is often a good motivator. And we try to give her as many coins to make up her dollar as possible, because slipping coins through the slot on her owl bank is a joy that she likes to make last as long as possible.
She’s wearing size 5 clothes, and shoes between size 9 and 10 depending on the brand and style. And I think we’re growing her bangs out, to be able to sweep them to the side more easily, as her glasses make bangs trickier than they were before. The next couple of months will be a challenge, but then they’ll be long enough to do something with. Christmas photos ought to be interesting…