Turning two

Published on Wednesday August 29th, 2012

I’m back!

And with that preface, I’m just going to dump out the news of our last two months. (Right after I apologize that there isn’t actually any knitting when I promised there would be. I don’t have pictures of Jolly in his cute Baby Surprise Jacket and I’m not even sure it fits anymore, but if you’re a knitter you’ve seen umpteen hundred of them, so just picture one in Noro Silk Garden Sock with a baby filling it up and you’ll have it exactly.)

The children and I had three lovely weeks up home with my parents, with Mr. G in and out as work allowed. Some highlights:

Knitters, note that the Minni jacket in size 6-9 months fits perfectly now!

Our Ada is two! Two means lots of new words and new charm and new willpower, as everyone who’s had a two-year-old could certainly have told me. Two is for somersaults. Two is for near-perfect sentences: “I find purple shell for you, Granny!” Two is for swinging on the big-girl swing that Granddaddy erected on the lawn and holding tightly so you don’t fall down. Two is for “NO!” and “MINE!” Two is for “Ada Lillian do it SELF.” Two is for singing songs. Two is for imaginary cooking and imaginary napping. Two is for running and jumping and throwing sticks in the pond and wiggling your brother’s tiny toes and brushing your teeth with toothpaste: “Eat it? Noooo! Rub teeth. Spit sink!” So many things to practice. So many things to try.

We visited my friend Elsa’s horses. The mustang colt was especially friendly. Ada was unafraid and is still talking about the experience: “Baby horse… tickle you bottom… wiv… whiskers!” The cherries from Elsa’s orchard rank equally high in her memory, it must be said. Later we watched some Olympic dressage; Ada clapped for the dancing horses and fed them peas through the television.

The beach. Our beaches are rocky, not sandy, and there seems to be a general compulsion in small children to send all the pebbles back into the sea. My mother coached Ada on her throwing technique so fewer of them would fly off at surprising angles. My girl waded happily into the frigid water and didn’t mind when her clothes got wet. I think I can safely bet it was the first time anyone ever danced the hula hop in the Salish Sea.

Swimming in the lake with the fish who investigated Mama’s bare toes. To hear Ada tell it, sitting on a towel and eating puffs afterward was just as rewarding. (Do you spot a theme emerging?)

Visiting — all too briefly — with our New York family, who made the arduous flight out with their own two-year-old. The little girls played duets on the piano, alternately shared and argued over toys, and kept the house bright with noise and action. Alas, they didn’t alter each other’s habits for the better in the realms of napping, bathing, eating, or going to sleep at night.

Trips to the farmers’ market for raspberries, tomatoes, snap peas, and pizza, plus music and dancing. A friend told me she’d overheard some tourists asking whether the market was real, apparently thinking it was too folksy to be authentic. Five-week-old Jolly was mistaken for a four-month-old.

Evenings of good food and good chat in the tiny cabin of a friend who’s building a straw bale house, catching up with dear people I see too seldom now.

An expedition to the tank at the marine labs, where Ada got to roll up her sleeves and touch the sea stars and urchins. Our friend Aimee gave her a plum afterward, so you can guess how the narration goes.

A new haircut for Mama.

Many pairs of loving hands to bounce and cradle the baby, who gave me his first smiles on my birthday and will now grin and coo irresistibly at anyone who wants to tell him how handsome he is.

So life is sweet here — not without its maddening moments when I turn to Mr. G and mime a Munch-ish scream over our daughter’s head, but as a sage mother of four grown children pointed out to me, if they were perfectly compliant all the time they’d be bland, and who wants to raise bland people?

Next up: Sewing! With pictures and everything! And then knitting. For real this time.


Published on Monday June 4th, 2012

Little baby things have been flying off the needles around here, as I’ve wanted to be sure this second child would have some special garments created just for him/her. It’s also the only way I know to get ready: make stuff. And a soon-to-be-big sister mustn’t be forgotten in the flurry of preparations, so on a whim I cast on a little top a few weeks ago. It’s a sweet pattern called Neighborly; I snapped a hasty photo before Ada wore it to school in case it came home covered in glittery fingerpaint:

Pardon the bouffant that happens when Daddy gets fired up about brushing those curls. Not my favorite look for her. And yes, apparently we like to pose for photos with spinach — her idea. My little schoolgirl is not often so formally attired, though. When the vest survived its first foray to Montessori nursery (it was a water table day, so Ada’s clothes needed some drying but were otherwise unusually clean) I took some new photographs that show Neighborly as she is more likely to be worn:

(Hair is back to normal, too.)

Now you can see the chief detail, the ’60s-style button at the neck. Since I scaled down in yarn weight but still followed the pattern (it’s a single size intended for a child of 3-5 years, so I just crossed my fingers a DK version would fit a toddler), the button band is less prominent in my version and the neckline is tighter. This was intentional; I wanted a summer-weight vest we could throw on over cotton shirts on cool days, and for someone who’s less than two a big open boatneck would just be slipping off a shoulder or trapping stray food more often than not. I used Manos del Uruguay Serena, an alpaca-cotton blend, in a color called “sea urchin” that I couldn’t resist. It reads as grey, but there are pleasing undertones of purple — just the thing to bring my girl’s burgeoning wardrobe of pink hand-me-downs back into a realm Mama can tolerate. When it came off the needles it looked tiny and I thought we might have to gift it to our wee new friend Ingrid to wear as a dress when she gets to be six months old or so, but it blocked out to the perfect size for Ada.

I’m going to see how it wears before passing judgment on the yarn. It’s sheddy up front, releasing a lot of short alpaca fibers in the bath before blocking and still having enough left over to adhere to a small damp chin at first wearing. But when she wore it today I didn’t notice any problems, so maybe it’s let go of all the fibers it needed to. The drape and hand are undeniably pleasant. And the color range is strong. If the shedding problem doesn’t persist and it doesn’t show a strong tendency to pill at this loose gauge (I used a #5 needle, I think), I’d be tempted to use it to knit myself one of those drapey, open cardigans that seem to be so fashionable.

Oh, my not-so-big big girl. How is it you can count and read letters and load the dishwasher and tell yourself the stories in your favorite books and cross the suspension bridge on the play structure at the park and sing me little tuneless songs about slippery fish while still being so small? Will you suddenly seem like a giant in a few days or a week when you become my eldest child?

I’ve loved your babyhood, dear one. I’ll love your girlhood, too.

A blustery day

Published on Friday March 30th, 2012

Three generations of girls and a couple of happy dogs at the tidal flats:

Thanks to my father for these pictures. There was a cold wind up and Ada had just woken from her nap, but she gradually warmed to peeking under the rocks for crabs and touching the various seaweeds and barnacles and laughing at the dogs sprinting through the shallow water and snapping at the wavelets coming ashore. When she’d explored enough for one chilly afternoon, she firmly took my finger in her little hand and used her newest word: “Home?” She meant we should go back to the house where I grew up. Yes, baby girl. This place is part of your home, too.

Eighteen months

Published on Wednesday February 1st, 2012

DoggieKisses (1 of 1)