Perfect Weather Weekend

The weather was crazy-nice here, for a late-September weekend. We sat and played outside both days — M’s never too sure what to make of grass; she tends to stay put and check things out instead of crawling all over the place. I think the out-of-doors will be more interesting to her once she can run around. For now, she prefers to stay inside and read books (and strew them everywhere). It got up to 80F yesterday, and today the high is supposed to be in the 50s, with clouds and rain. I wonder if this was the last ‘nice’ weekend of the year!

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Almost-Toddler

M isn’t technically toddling on her own two feet yet (although she can cruise around pretty nimbly), but she really does seem more and more like a toddler every day. When babies are little, they kind of just do what you do for them. They lie wherever you’ve set them down, they play with whatever you’ve given them, etc. Once they’re mobile, they can pick and choose and find their own fun. Any time I see M sitting in a basket, it cracks me up. She decided to climb in there and then sit down. Why? And of course, you have to bring your sippy with you, in case you get thirsty. She’s been doing some growing up lately, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

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Eleven Months

Wow, we made it eleven months before M totally refused to lie down for her monthly photo! She is just too busy for that sort of thing now, thank you very much! As you can see, though, she continues to be a very happy baby. We’re only a month away from a year, which is both exciting and… bittersweet? When you have such an easy, fun little girl, it’s hard to say goodbye to the baby months. But every new thing she learns is so exciting, and I love watching her grow!

Size: Without a doctor’s appointment any time soon, we’ll have to rely on my measurements, which aren’t perfect. But M is about 20lbs and 28.5” long (probably slightly more for both). Because of all the toddler-y things she does these days, she seems suddenly so much bigger. It’s probably mostly in the way she holds herself and moves around, but her limbs seem so long, and she just looks more like a kid than a baby sometimes.

Likes and Dislikes: M still really loves animals. We got our new kitten, Bear, this month, and M seems to think she’s very cute. She enjoys watching the cats and dogs play, and she likes to give them hugs. Well, I think they’re hugs. They might be kisses or some patented mind-meld thing. She basically just presses her head/face into an animal. She wants to get REALLY close to them! She also likes to watch the deer and cranes and turkeys outside.

M loves her stuffed animals, and of course Kitty Cat Doll is her favorite. I sewed Big Kitty for her recently, and she knew what it was as soon as the head was finished. When I had it all sewed up and showed it to her for the first time, she gave it a big hug.

She likes sitting on sofas and chairs — or maybe I should say CLIMBING on sofas. But I can usually sit her on a chair and trust that she’ll stay put for at least a few seconds. It’s like she understands that it’s a big girl thing, so she tries hard not to wiggle too much.

I don’t think M has any major dislikes. She’s too easy-going for that!

Eating: M’s eating really took off this month. The amount of solid food she eats compared to what she was eating at the beginning of the month is crazy. She doesn’t eat much for breakfast, even though she only gets a couple of ounces in a bottle when she first wakes up. Either she just isn’t very hungry in the morning, or she’s waiting for more milk. Sometimes she’ll have a handful of cereal (she likes it mixed with yogurt), or she’ll nibble on crackers.

Lunch and dinner tend to be bigger meals. M will eat any kind of pasta, often in quite large quantities. It’s nice to have something I can rely on her to eat, and she’s really not picky about the pasta (I usually do brown rice spaghetti or regular wheat pasta) or the sauce (pesto, marinara, Alfredo, etc). And it’s easy to put veggies in the sauce. She likes rice, but it’s getting harder to eat now that she’s trying to eat more, faster. She’s starting to be able to hold big pieces of food and take bites, which she likes to do with strips of grilled cheese.

Milk-wise, she’s drinking a little less than last month, now that she’s eating more solids. She also transitioned to a sippy straw cup. It took a little while to find the right one, but now it’s easy peasy for her. And she really seems to like that she can pick it up and have some when she wants, instead of needing me to hold the bottle. It makes her seem like such a big girl!

Sleeping: Sleep is the same as last month. M sleeps ~7:00pm-5:30am, and then has naps at 9:00am and 1:30pm, which are usually both 1.5hrs long.

Working On / Accomplishments: It’s hard to remember all the new stuff from this month — there was a lot of it! M’s other top front tooth came in, and I think at least one of the lower lateral incisors is about to poke through. Given the way she chews on toys, I wonder if her molars are starting to bug her, too.

She started waving this month, which is downright adorable. She loves to wave at people she knows, and she understands ‘hi’ and ‘wave’ and associates them with the action. She’s usually a little too shy to wave at strangers when we’re out — she’ll wait until we’re in the next aisle to start waving!

She figured out how to put the rings on her stacker toy recently, and she’s gotten better and better very quickly. She gets the concept of putting things where they belong, so it’s just the mechanics that can prove tricky. Sometimes I give her my sunglasses when we’re in the car, and every now and then I’ll glance back to see her trying to put them on her face. And if I hand her her little brush, she’ll brush her stuffed animals or whichever cat or dog is closest. Sometimes, when she’s eating with a fork, she wants to feed food to me, and she thinks it’s SO funny if I actually eat it. She’s also figured out the concept of scooping up food with her spoon/fork, although the way she does it right now isn’t usually super effective. I just love to see her making the connections and trying, though!

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Sofas and More Sofas

I think I mentioned a while ago that we were expecting new sofas for the living room. They finally arrived a couple of weeks ago! They took so long to get here that Rob still hasn’t seen them in person, but I’ve been busy breaking them in. We both really love Chesterfield sofas and were wanting something that would hold up in the long run, since our ‘old’ sofas had so quickly started looking worn. I’ll go ahead and say it’s completely hypocritical to be a vegetarian and still buy leather goods — there’s no real way to justify it. My personal choice is to go with leather when I think it will significantly extend the life of a product (furniture and shoes, basically).

At any rate, the dogs aren’t allowed on the new sofas, a rule which is being voluntarily obeyed most of the time, to my surprise. Nova spent the first few days hiding underneath the sofas, since she thought she was being bad when I had to tell her to get down. But I put a big cushion on the floor with one of the pets’ blankets, and everybody takes turns sleeping on it. Sometimes they share. The cats are still allowed on the sofas — because who has the time to try to teach a cat anything? (That’s not really the reason; they just don’t scuff the leather the way the dogs would, although we’ll have to live with a certain number of little scratches.)

I brought the old sofas downstairs, and now they live in the family room. It’s a shame they didn’t wear very well, because I still really like the shape/style of them. The fabric is quite pilly, though, and it won’t let go of the cat hair that’s been ground into the back cushions. The back cushions that have been permanently smushed out of shape by sleeping animals. They’re still good enough for the family room, though! I’ve been doing SO much furniture shuffling lately. I’ve also made a nice play corner for M:

When she gets her tepee for her birthday, it’ll go in this corner, where the little orange tent currently is (except the tepee is way bigger). M also has a corner up in the living room — you can see her little bookshelf in this photo. She also has three baskets full of toys on the floor, which you can’t see. Both corners slowly expand until M has taken over the entire room, but it’s nice to have a home for everything. When I want to tidy up, I just scoop all the toys and books back into their spots.

So that’s the tale of some sofas! (I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the futon that was in the family room is now upstairs in the office. I would not recommend trying to carry a futon upstairs by yourself.)

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Cotton Friend Dress

M has a new dress! I recently bought two different Cotton Friends from SuperBuzzy (it had been ages since I’d bought a pattern book!). They arrived yesterday, and I was so excited that I had to try a pattern right after dinner. This little dress is from Vol. 35 – Summer 2010, which seems to be sold out now at SuperBuzzy. I also got Vol. 37. I don’t like quite as much, but the child’s coat pattern is one I think I’ll use down the road.

Anyway, this was a really simple design, the type of thing that you almost don’t need a pattern for, although it makes it easier. I used the grey linen-ish material I was going to use for a pair of trousers — changed my mind. I like it better as a dress. I used some bias tape I already had instead of making my own, so it was a little narrower than the pattern called for. And I decided to add the lace trim for a little interest, since the fabric is so plain. I love it! I chose a solid fabric so I can pair the dress with other patterned things — M’s fleecy vest, for instance, is reversible, with a print on the other side. Or she could wear her stripey tights with it. That sort of thing.

I made the 80cm (smallest) size. I assume that refers to height? (The books are all in Japanese, of course, so Arabic numerals are about the only characters I recognize.) M is probably 29″+ tall, and 80cm is 31.5″. So it’s a pretty good fit. I was expecting the kids’ patterns to be for slightly older children, so it’s exciting that I can make some of the patterns to fit M now / this winter.

The shirt under the dress, by the way, is a Gerber onesie. M’s been wearing the 12mos size for quite a while, and the white three-pack I’d bought all had stains around the neck. I was dying some blue jeans with black dye (I bought the jeans on-line, and they’re soooo blue, but they fit perfectly. I tried toning them down with some grey dye, but it didn’t do anything. Now they’re still quite blue, but at least very dark blue.) — what was I saying? Oh yeah, so I threw the onesies into the black dye, figuring anything would be better than stains. I left them in for different lengths of time, but they all came out this dusty lavender color. I love it!

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Bear-Cat

Lookit this cute kitty cat! She’s been pretty good — for a kitten. About half the time I interact with her is spent trying to get her to go away while she wrestles with my hands or feet or elbows or hair. But the other half is quite nice, when she’s asleep or nearly so.

The other animals have been adjusting pretty well. I’ve had both Bear and Beany napping on my lap at the same time, which is how Beany started to warm up to Birdy at first (jealousy-fueled cuddles). Birdy is probably the least interested, but we all know that Birdy has just a few hobbies that she’s devoted to, and she doesn’t really care about anything else. Nova appears to feel harassed by Bear sometimes (which serves her right, frankly — Nova can be a real pill herself), but she also likes to play-fight with her, and they sleep on the same floor cushion from time to time.

What I’m most surprised and pleased about is how well Bear and Henny are getting along! Henny just loves her new little kitten. I don’t know if it’s because she’s reminded of her own puppies or just because Bear is so much smaller than her and therefore less intimidating. Nova has always been a pushy playmate for Henny, but Bear is much better about taking turns at being submissive/dominant. It’s so cute to see them chasing each other around. Henny’s body language is different around Bear, too. She tends to flinch or take a step back when one of the other animals walks by too closely. But with Bear, she just casually watches. They also nap on the same floor cushion (the dogs aren’t allowed on our new sofas, so there’s a nice ‘bed’ on the floor for them now), and I’m hoping they might actually curl up together one of these days.

Oh, and M is still completely enchanted by the kitten. I’m trying to teach her that kitty cats don’t want hugs or kisses (= having a giant face mashed into them) when they’re sleeping. But it’s pretty sweet to see how much she loves animals!

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Almost Autumnal

It’s beginning to look a little like autumn! The smaller maples in the woods are already bright red, and some of the bigger trees are starting to turn, too. We had a few days that were downright chilly (for this time of year), and now it’s pretty much a perfect temperature. The dogs stretched their legs this evening while M and I tried to sneak up on the turtles (you can just barely see one on the rock in the second photo). There were tons of them out, sunning themselves on the rocks, but they all ploop into the water as soon as they see you. Because it was so rainy early in the season, it was difficult to mow close to the pond, so the weeds are extra thick this year.

I’ve probably got something akin to Stockholm syndrome, but I’m almost looking forward to the shorter days and cooler weather ahead. This summer wasn’t great for getting outdoors — too mosquito-y or rainy, etc, etc. And autumn means M’s birthday, which is exciting! I hope we’ll have a lot of opportunities to get out and enjoy this perfect weather — and that winter doesn’t come along TOO early.

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Instacats

Cats on my Instagram. Birdy has been around, too, don’t worry! She’s actually been quite nonchalant about the new kitten. Like, she wouldn’t want Bear to actually TOUCH her, but she’s not opposed to the general idea of her. Beany is very curious, and as long as everybody understands that she’s at the top of totem pole, she’s happy enough. She’s been a little extra cuddly with me, lately, so I won’t forget about her.

M and Bear get along well — a little too well, when it comes to getting into trouble together. M is thrilled to have a little, fuzzy, live-action Kitty Cat Doll (= the ‘name’ of her favorite toy) who actually wants to play with her. In fact, I was having to separate the two of them today because Bear was getting riled up, the way kittens do, and wanted to grab and bite M’s legs. M didn’t seem to care (surprisingly — *I* am quite tired of those little kitten claws and teeth, myself), but that’s not really the sort of thing I want to encourage. Most of the time, though, they just play side by side, which is pretty cute.

The last cat is the head of the kitty cat doll I’m making for M. I haven’t had much time to focus on it, so it’s slower going than usual. I did manage to get the body, tail, and one arm sewn this evening, and it’s going together well, especially considering that I’m just making it up as I go. I showed M the disembodied head, and she thought it was very cute. Well, she did her mini squeal and gave it a hug, which I think means it’s cute.

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Little Bitty Kitty Cat

When I lived in London, I used to imagine what would happen if I spotted an abandoned kitten at one of the stops on my train. I never had a problem catching the stray kitten, in my mind (haha), and then I’d just tuck it into my bag, and away we’d go. This story isn’t quite the same, but it’s better, since it actually happened.

Last Friday, my mom spotted a car driving down their cabin driveway, which is surrounded by woods. It came halfway down, stopped, and then drove slowly away again. Later that day, or maybe the next day, she saw three kittens in the drive! Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it seems likely that somebody in that car was dumping kittens to get rid of them. They ran into the woods after my mom spotted them, but the next day, one of my parents’ dogs caught one (and then dropped it), and my mom managed to track it down and catch it.

They put that kitten in a pet carrier in their shed overnight, with some food and water — and extra food and water outside the carrier (but in the shed, with its door open), in case the other two kittens came by. The food was gone in the morning, but it wasn’t until later that we realized the other two kittens were actually still in the shed, hiding out under the lawnmower.

M and I had gone over to the cabin to watch the Vikings’ game (they won!) on Sunday, so I spent a lot of time playing with the first little kitten that had been in the carrier (which was in my parents’ bathroom by that point). She had started out quite berserk but slowly calmed down and got friendlier. I did some texting with Rob, and we decided the little kitten could come home with me, to see how she’d get on with all the other pets.

I was able to get her into the vet yesterday, and she doesn’t have any of the nasty cat viruses, and no fleas, either. They treat for worms without testing, but she doesn’t have any sign of them. I wanted to name the kitten Bunny, but Rob said that was too close to ‘Beany’, and he thought she should be called Bear. On account of how she was a wild kitten from the woods. So Bear is her name. We’re guessing she’s around six weeks old, and she’s not as well socialized as Birdy was at that age, but she’s warmed up a lot. She’ll jump on my lamp and purr, but she doesn’t want to lie down on me and fall asleep. She definitely doesn’t act like a feral kitten, though.

My parents still have the other two kittens (a grey boy and a black and white girl), in case anybody in MN is looking for a tiny, fuzzy friend!

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Amazing Girl

I know I say it often, but — THIS GIRL! I am convinced that she’s the perfect baby. She does have an endless enthusiasm for opening drawers she shouldn’t and taking the living room heater grate out of the floor, but if she didn’t do those things, she probably wouldn’t be a very curious baby, so I can’t even wish away that stuff. (I can, however, get latches for the drawers and put something heavy on the grate.) I repeatedly dragged her away from my parents’ satellite box, etc. yesterday — literally dragged her by the legs while she flailed her arms, on her tummy, giggling the whole time. It’s all sooo funny to her!

In the back of my mind, I always imagined how I would raise an independent child, happy to play on her own. But I felt it was more the luck of the draw — kids are who they are. And M actually IS very independent. Or maybe I should say she’s very curious and laid back. She wants to figure out how things work but doesn’t care if she can’t. Granted, she’s in a VERY easy-going phase at the moment, but it makes me laugh to see how she’ll try to put a ring on her ring stacker, and when she can’t make it go on (she always wants to put it straight to its place on the stack instead of starting at the top to go over the post), she practically shrugs and moves onto the next item on her agenda.

When Em and Rob were here, they commented on how M is ‘in on the joke’, which is very true. She always knows when somebody is being goofy — see the giggles at being dragged away by her legs. She loves it when I pretend to be scared that she’s going to ‘get’ me. She gets a mischievous glint in her eyes and moves a little faster. I always do a fake scream when she finally attacks (ie, hugs me), and she’s started doing a monster shout at the same time. I’m not sure if she’s trying to mimic my squeal or copy the noise I make when I get her, but it’s super cute.

Food has been going well. I’ve been posting a few things over at Instagram (okay, literally only three meals at the moment), but by no means everything. On Saturday, she had three really good meals, and she ate so much pesto spaghetti for dinner that she slept in the next morning and wasn’t hungry for breakfast when she woke up. Wow! Like so many things, I felt like getting her to eat more was going to be a real challenge, but we waited for the right time, and now it seems stupidly simple. I think M gets the credit for being so easy-going. If I’ve done anything, it’s just been to not push her when she’s shown me she’s not ready for something.

I’ve fallen into the trap of continuously saying, ‘This is the best age!’ — and then the next month, ‘No, THIS is the best age!’ But M has just been so easy and joyful lately. I don’t expect her to be frustration-free forever or to always be so willing to try new foods. Toddlerhood happens eventually. So I’m just totally soaking it up while I can!

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