Daily Archives: November 16, 2015

Owlet: 51 Months!

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…

Adventures With Jiji

Jiji is no longer a kitten, and I am sad. This photo was taken almost two months ago; look at the size of him compared to Gryffindor. Gryffindor is not a small cat. And now Jiji is even bigger.

Now Jiji is a teenage cat, and he is a jerk. He torments the other cats (especially Minerva), eats anything he can get his mouth around, drinks anything he can stick his head into, climbs into any bag he can (including schoolbags and grocery bags full of groceries), and pulls the ziplocked bag of bread off the counter to drag it around the house and gnaw at it through the plastic. You’d think we were starving him. (“Mummy,” Owlet said this morning, holding up the bag in question as she came into the kitchen, “I found a bread in my room.”)

Example: This past week I started making nice coffee for myself after dropping the kids off at school, to help me slog through my last project.

Jiji: Too late!
*cue caramel pawprints on the work papers all over my desk*
Me: …
Me: Guess I’m making myself another salted caramel latte.
Jiji: Those pawprints I licked up were delicious. Make it two.

And apparently neither of us learned, because two days later…

Jiji: Well, I didn’t stick my paw in it this time.
Me: No, you stuck your HEAD in.
JIji: Good job on the caramel latte, Mum. Two whiskers up.
Me: I wouldn’t know. I haven’t even tasted it yet.

I’m really looking forward to Jiji getting past this stage and mellowing into a proper adult cat. It’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, however.

Halloween 2015

I’m emerging from under a pile of work to polish and publish posts that have been sitting in draft form.

Halloween was fun!

Sparky designed his own costume his year (he’s a supernatural creature tracker and protector, complete with a homemade handbook and an “ivory flute so I can play music to soothe savage beasts”), and Owlet is Belle. I still can’t believe that I found the perfect dress to modify for her; it was a size 10 fancy sleeveless dress that I cut down and took in. It has a crinoline and a spangled chiffon overlay. She adores it, and to be honest, so do I.

The best part of the night? When a fire engine rolled up and firemen jumped out in full gear, carrying buckets of candy to pass out to trick or treaters! Although Owlet certainly enjoyed charging up stairs and banging on the doors with her mittened hand. “Mummy!” she exclaimed, running back each time, “I said bonjour! And merci!”

Speaking of basic common courtesy, I was really cross at a bunch of kids while we were doing the rounds. I teach my kids to wait at the bottom of the stairs or at the end of the path to the door so as not to crowd the kids currently receiving candy, and to go up the stairs on the right and descend on the left to make a clear path for others. There were droves of kids just shoving up and crowding the adults distributing candy with no thought for anyone else around them or order of arrival. It meant my kids had to stop being as respectful as I (and they) wanted them to be, because they were being run over. We eventually chose a different, quieter area to cover. I don’t think I’m expecting too much if I want kids to learn to be polite, consider others around them, and respect taking turns, even in an exciting situation like trick or treating.

Whatever; they enjoyed themselves immensely, loved their costumes, loved going to school in them, and that’s what counts.