Cutie Baby

Oh, this one. Her tongue cannot be contained lately. I’m so glad you can see her tongue in some of our portraits, as it’s become her ‘thing’ for this age. As you can see, she’s sitting up on her own now. Two days ago, she could only manage 5-10 seconds at a time, and then yesterday, when I took these photos, she suddenly was able to go about a minute. And today, she was even better, playing for minutes on end without needing me to catch her. I still wouldn’t plop her on a blanket and walk away, but I’m impressed with how quickly she’s fine-tuning those stabilizing muscles and learning not to quickly lean to one side. She started insisting on being sat upright when she was about two months old, and I predicted that she’d be sitting on her own by six months. I mean, I think that’s a pretty common age, but it’s still amazing that, hey, she can sit up now.

A while back, I commented to somebody that it feels like M and I are the same person, and that the process of her growing up will be her splitting away. I’m surprised I don’t hear this sort of feeling mentioned more often, because it’s SO strong for me. I was thinking about something the other day, something that had happened when I was pregnant or before that, even, and this thought popped into my head: ‘Oh, that was when I was still only one person.’ As though, without being conscious of it, my identity has come to encompass two people. It sounds kind of crazy, but it doesn’t feel unhealthy — I still feel very much like myself, the person I was before I had a baby, and I wholeheartedly look forward to M developing her own interests and passions. The closest similar sentiment I’ve heard is that Elizabeth Stone quote, ‘Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.’ I wish I could capture the feeling and share it with friends who haven’t had children. Not to change their minds or anything, but just because it’s such a peculiar and (I think) unique sensation. Like, it blows my mind that the same blood doesn’t flow in both our veins. How can that be?

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Fezziwig Progress: 3/7

One more skein of yarn down — 3/7ths finished now. I’m holding the next ball, as I misjudged how much I had left, made it halfway through a row, and then had to finish it with the new skein so I could try the sweater on. It looks like it won’t close in front here, but I can’t stretch it out properly while it’s on the circular needle. Last time we checked in on the sweater, I was halfway through the back cables…

…which are now done. I accidentally did an extra set — I had it in mind that it was five repeats of the cable pattern, six for a long torso, but it was actually four and five. Doing six repeats was only an extra four rows, and I think I’ll need them, anyway. I like how they gather the waist in a bit, although you can tell how much extra width there is that I can’t stretch out yet.

I also ‘finished’ the pocket cables, except that I didn’t. The photos of the finished sweater clearly show four repeats in the large cable, and after following the pattern, I only have three. So that’s either an error in the pattern, or I’m really bad at following simple instructions (shhh, ignore the mistake I admitted to making just one paragraph ago). The pockets are supposed to be 6″ long, but the gauge is 16 rows = 4″, and there are only 18 rows in the pocket (3 x the 6-row cable pattern). One ‘extra’ repeat should make it just right. I was psyched to have finished the cables, as then I just have to do the ribbing for the hem to finish the body of the sweater, but I guess I have another few rows to go before I get there.

And because a photo of a baby is better than no photo of a baby:

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JCPenney Portraits

M and I went up to Duluth yesterday to have some portraits taken at JCPenney. It was quick and easy and relatively inexpensive (we got the CD with all the images from the shoot, to do with as we please), and the photographer was great. I usually feel horrible and awkward in front of a camera (I think most people do!), but she told me just how to pose and where, and M was her usual photogenic self. I would have taken ten shots of each pose, where she did only one or two, but they still came out nicely. I’ll never choose a cool-colored backdrop again, though — fixing the color balance has been an impossible task. Some of the poses are kind of hilarious in their pose-edness, but they’re nice photos of M and me, so I love them. But that last one is pretty much a JCPenney ad from the early 90s, right?

p.s. — Sorry about the dirty shoes in a couple of the photos. I didn’t intend for them to be seen!

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Melting

It was so beautiful outside yesterday! Sunny and in the low 60s. The dogs wanted to go running around all day long, but M and I had to get some errands done, so we didn’t get out until around dinnertime. I have a bunch of photos of Nova and none of Henny because Henny doesn’t think she can walk over/through snow (so she sticks close to the house), whereas Nova is usually running so fast that she hardly touches it, anyway. I was amazed by how much melting happened yesterday. Snow that had been taller than my (tall!) rubber boots a couple of days ago was only a few inches high. That rock Nova is standing on has been slowly coming out of hibernation, but it used to be completely covered in snow.

M is the perfect size for the Ergo now (her legs weren’t quite long enough before), so she had a good time hanging out as we walked around. This was the best photo of us out of about ten that I took, and I couldn’t even get it centered properly! I suppose it’s only right that she’s in the middle, since she’s the cutie baby. She looks a lot like my baby photos in this one!

When the snow first started melting around the trees, I could see a big pile of ‘sawdust’ at the base of the dead tree near the pond. I think it’s a pileated woodpecker that’s been coming around. I was finally able to look at the tree up close, and it’s basically been tunneled right through! Pretty cool. I think Rob needs to read up on tree felling and take care of this with his chainsaw.

The pond is going to be FULL when everything is done melting! It’s already spilling out onto the lawn in some areas. The ground is still pretty frozen, so there’s standing water in many parts of the yard, and I think things will be mushy for quite a while. But some of my brave perennials are already coming up! The poor geese keep landing on the pond and then walking around on the ice — probably wondering where all the water went. I can hear them out there right now. I was going to go out yesterday to smash a hole near the shore, but the sun took care of that for me.

Doesn’t Nova look like a brave explorer dog in that second photo? She’s been a really good girl outside so far this year. I had to go out to shut the door on the big barn garage this morning (the handset was locked, but apparently it needs the deadbolt, too, as it was wide open!), and I let Nova come with me. I didn’t think to make sure it was ‘safe’ first, and as we got out the door, a big deer went bounding from the yard into the woods. Since it’s Nova’s greatest dream to take down one of those things (ha!), she started chasing it, but she didn’t get TOO far and eventually came back when I called her. The remaining snow slowed her down, and thank goodness she was hungry for her breakfast! Anyway, it’s a big improvement from this time last year.

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Fezziwig Progress

I finished the second ball of yarn — progress is happening! The edges are curling under a bit, so with them flattened out and the button band added, I think it’ll be the perfect size. Most of what I knit between the last photo and this one was boring stockinette stitch with just the occasional neckline increase (and then not even that). But then I hit the back cables!

Which, granted, you can’t really see. It was really hard trying to take a photo of my back! When I’m finished with the cardigan, I’ll take better shots. I’m using this cable-needle-less method for cabling, which is pretty quick and easy. I’ve done three full sets of the cable pattern, and I’ll probably do another three (the pattern calls for five, I think, with the instructions to add another if you have a long waist — I’m not sure I do, proportionately, but I’m tall, so I figure I’ll need the extra length). Then the next exciting part is the pockets!

P.S. — I would have made the bed, but the cats were all cuddled up on the messy blankets.

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Good Baby

Ah, my sweet baby. When she was really, really little (but not really, really, really little, like a newborn), and she’d play around instead of eating or falling asleep, I used to tell her, ‘I asked for a good baby, but instead I got a GOOF baby! Somebody made a typo!’ Now she’s both — a goof baby AND a good baby (she always has been, really). She wanted to play instead of eat at bedtime tonight, and I made it clear that if she wasn’t going to have her bottle, she’d have to go straight into her crib instead. So in she went, and she was asleep about fifteen minutes later. She stirred after a while, which is normal, and she has no problem getting herself back to sleep, but I crept in, scooped her up, and gave her the rest of her bottle (which she was quite happy to eat by that point). She’s so sweet.

Being a parent is exhausting, and I’m not talking about sleep deprivation. I still go to bed pretty early, so I get more hours of sleep now than I did pre-baby, probably. It’s just quite physical work, keeping a small human happy all day long. I don’t think I reckoned on that before M was born, which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, but it’s just hard to realize how much lifting and carrying and holding goes on until you’re doing it. Soon I’ll have to add chasing into my repertoire, and I don’t suppose the physical aspect gets any better until your child knows enough not to throw herself of cliffs, etc.

I’ve spent so much time lately thinking about having another baby. It’s something I’ve always planned/wanted, but it seemed impossible (or at least very stupid) when M was littler. Now we’re getting to the part where I think, ‘Oh, I want to do THIS again.’ I’m well rested enough to enjoy the fun stuff, and our routine is established enough that I don’t feel like I’m constantly putting M down for a nap and constantly trying to get her eat. It’s so easy to forget the tough early months. Anyway, no extra babies for me for a long while yet, but I’ve been on the fence about it since M was born, and now I’m much closer to falling onto the siblings side.

I got M a pair of 4+mos sippy cups, and I put water in one every now and then and let her play with it. If I set it down right it front of her, she can grab the handles and get the spout into her mouth, and SOMEtimes she even manages to tip it up enough to drink some water (surprisingly, she doesn’t seem to care that it’s not milk). If it’s off to the side, though, she’ll pull it over and start sucking on one of the handles or the bottom of the cup, etc. She seems only slightly less proud of herself, though. Goof baby.

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‘Spring’ Walk

M and the doggies and I went for a little walk around the yard today. The sun and warmer temperatures have been uncovering big patches of grass and driveway — just enough for us to wander around. Those horizontal rails on my garden fence are three feet off the ground, so there’s still a good two feet of snow in lots of places. It’s hard to imagine the ground being tillable in even a month’s time!

On the south side of the house, we discovered a bunch of little rodent tunnels, and the grass seemed… not quite turned over, but you can see how much dirt is scattered around. I wonder if that’s from shrews tunneling around right under the surface. Nova was checking out one of their entries/exits. I put her on her harness and leash but let her run around on her own most of the time, and she was a very good girl. Last spring, she didn’t want anything to do with the slush and muck, but this year, she’s been quite happy to scramble around. It helps that she can walk over the top of most of the snow without breaking through.

M started out in her BOB stroller, and it does a good job of pushing through the mud and shallow snow, but we quickly ran out of stroller-able areas to investigate. So I carried her around the rest of the time, and, as you can see, she was very serious about this being outside business. I can’t wait until we can go for proper walks, etc — this was a nice break from M’s usual set of indoor activities. She’s been getting bored and fussy lately, and nothing makes her more content and contemplative than being wheeled around in her stroller. Nova seems to really like walking alongside it on her leash (we’ve gone out to check the mailbox a few times like that — Henny usually sticks closer to the house), so we should be able to have nice walks when everything melts.

And it’s getting there, even though it doesn’t look like it. I let the dogs out this evening and went out on the patio in bare feet to snap this photo. And I’m not currently having said feet removed due to frostbite. So that’s something. It’s not warm, but it’s not so cold that it’ll maim you. Hooray for spring.

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Fezziwig Progress

This is what 1/7th of a cardigan looks like. I finished the first ball of yarn, and the sweater will take about seven. My gauge is a little smaller than what it’s supposed to be, but it should block out just fine, and it seems to fit the way it should (you know, for a fraction of a cardigan). So far, the pattern has been interesting enough to keep me knitting — getting to the divide for the sleeves was a good goal, and now I’m looking forward to getting to the cables on the back. (Here’s a link to the pattern/photos again.) I think the sleeves will be the most boring part, but at least I probably won’t outgrow the sweater if I set it aside for a while!

‘No, Mama, this is my photo. You get out.’ She’s wearing the Little Baby Sweater from the Purl Bee blog. I had it stuck in my head that it was a 6mos size, and now I see that it’s NB-6mos. That would explain why it barely fits. I didn’t get around to sewing on buttons until this morning, even though I knit it long before she was born. D’oh. (I was so worried about jabbing her with the ends of the knitting needles on my cardigan that I didn’t even realize she could grab one and pull the entire circular needle out. Luckily I stopped her just before she did so.)

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Matinee Coat

Whew, I finally finished M’s matinee coat — just in time for her to outgrow it. Whoops. I started the 3-6mos size right after Christmas (when she was only two months old), and then I… didn’t finish it until now. I had made good progress and thought I’d fly to the finish when I started the sleeves, but stockinette stitch is just so boring. So the project sat unfinished until a few days ago, when I became determined to finish it NOW. And, of course, it didn’t really take very long to knit up the sleeves, block it, and piece it together. The sleeves are just the right length, but it doesn’t quite come together in the middle when the ribbon is tied. Now that I see how cute M is in it, I wish I would have finished it a long time ago, although it’s extra sweet with this dress she’s wearing, which has only begun to fit (it’s a Gap size 6-12mos). She can wear it for a while longer without the ribbon tied, though. (My pal Em gave me both the Debbie Bliss book — I think this is the American version — with the pattern and the yarn for Christmas.)

Now that I’m done with this project, I’ve started my Fezziwig cardigan. I’ve only ever knitted baby sweaters, given my attention problem, but this one is knit with bulky yarn, and the going isn’t too slow. It would be nice to make a good dent in it this weekend, since we’re newly snowed in again, so let’s hope M takes some good naps!

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Quality

I’m in the process of cleaning out my closet. Again. It feels like I’m always doing this. I can’t remember what prompted it, but I’ve made the decision to only buy quality items from now on. No more trying to be thrifty and winding up with stuff that doesn’t last or is ‘only okay’. It started with clothes (hence the closet cleaning), but I want to extend it to all future purchases. We bought a sofa and love seat for the living room after we got this house, and although they seemed decent (and they’re comfortable enough), the fabric has not held up well. After only two years, the seat cushions are pilly, and the backs sag where the cats (+ Nova) sleep. And the cat hair! My old sofa (which is now in Rob’s skyroom) used to collect a certain amount of cat hair, but it always vacuumed right off — these new ones embrace the cat hair, inviting it to become one with their weave. Yuck. Anyway, I’m setting aside part of my tax refund to go toward the eventual purchase of a Chesterfield sofa and chair (I think — Rob and I are agreed on the Chesterfield part, but we haven’t talked actual arrangements yet). Hopefully, they’ll last for decades and get better with some wear.

I’m trying to replace parts of my wardrobe with durable items as it makes sense. I bought Sorel boots last spring, and they got a lot of use this winter. When we were in Texas, I stopped into a J. Crew outlet store and found a few shirts and a pair of shorts that I’m very happy with. I’ve never shopped at J. Crew before, but it seems like a step up from the Gap — I bought several tops at the Gap earlier this year, and some of them are already starting to look tired, which is disappointing. I already wash everything with cold water, but what else should I do to help clothes last longer? Would tumble drying on low/no heat be better than medium heat? I can’t really stand the feel of line-dried clothes (with the exception of jeans, since I daren’t tumble dry jeans and risk having them get shorter), but maybe I just have to deal with it and try to soften shirts up with a minute in the dryer before I wear them.

I’ve just ordered a pair of well-reviewed leggings, and I’m waiting for yarn to arrive to knit this cardigan (in a ‘if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself’ move). I’m not suddenly a millionaire, so I’m not going to replace everything just for the heck of it, but what quality items are ‘musts’ for you? I think we all have a few items that make us feel like we’ve struck gold, right? (I sort of love this spray conditioner.)

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