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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Baby Trousers

I’ve been doing some reorganizing this weekend, which has led to some sewing. We’re getting new sofas tomorrow (I ordered them ages ago, so I’m very excited to finally have them arrive!), so I moved the old sofas down into the family room. Both the fabric and the cushions haven’t held up all that well over the just two years we’ve had them — they’re not unusable, but I feel a bit sheepish having guests sit on them, especially since they’re cat fur magnets. But they look great downstairs, where it’s just us using them. I had to move the futon UPstairs, into Rob’s office, to make room. Moving two sofas down is a LOT easier than moving one futon up, by the way.

I’m going to stop myself from telling you everything else that I’ve moved around and just skip to the part where I unpacked bins of fabric onto the family room shelves. Which meant that I kept going ‘ooh!’ and also ‘ooh!’ when I found pieces that would be perfect for a new dress or pair of trousers for M. I found a grey linen-like material I want to use with this pattern, but then I misplaced it — it’s somewhere in the stacks of fabric! I thought I’d try it out with this woven plaid, instead. I’ve made the pattern once before with a knit, which was too drape-y and didn’t work out as I’d pictured. I think a thicker knit would look nice, but I also like the shape with woven fabric.

I made the 12-18mos size for M, who’s currently only 10.5mos. The seat fits nicely, with room to move around comfortably, but the legs are still long and/or the elastic on the cuffs is too big:

Cute shape, though, don’t you think? I get tired of the leggings look, and I know I feel more comfortable in loose trousers when I’m hanging around the house. I might take an inch or two off the legs of these, so they’ll have an overall good fit right now. (Side note: I bought a pair of these skinny sweatpants for myself, and I LOVE them. Loose enough to be comfortable, but not so baggy that they look sloppy. They’re on sale right now!)

Non-parenthetical sidenote: I’ve been totally immersed in the Junkaholique blog. I just love her style! So beautiful. Here’s another very English blog: Take Courage. Neither have anything to do with M’s new little trousers, but if I don’t mention them now, I might forget.

I was also going to gush about how amazing M is, but I’ll have to save that for another post. Here’s a bit of crawling in her trousers. M’s got a very traditional style. I know all sorts of babies who have come up with all sorts of ways to crawl, but M likes to go by the book.

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Summer Trees

We had the most perfect summer’s day here today — sunny and 75F. My parents and I and M went for a drive to have lunch in Grantsburg, WI, and then M and I sat outside for a little while after dinner. It was nicely shady and sun-dappled under the trees in the back, but as you can see, we lost another big section of tree in the front — storms. It’s the same tree that was damaged last year, and it was even worse this time around. There’s just a lot of rot in it, I think. It hit one of its neighbor trees and took down a couple of big branches from that one, too. On one hand, it would be nice to have trees right by the house for shade in the summer — on the other hand, at least we don’t have to worry about any of these branches going through the roof!

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Instafood

I think I’ll start posting photos of our dinners and things on Instagram (here I am). I haven’t used it at all since the first week I registered, because I keep running into things where I think, ‘Surely I must be missing something. What’s up with that?’ Like, can you not just save a photo with a filter applied? Is posting it for everybody to see the only way? And why can’t you search for users who aren’t Facebook friends or e-mail contacts? Have I just gotten really old? I have noticed that I’ve been sounding more and more like the Swedish Chef whenever I lift something heavy.

Anyway, I might use Instagram for food stuff when I don’t have much to say about it. I made half a batch of these patties — small ones for M and a few bigger ones for me. I didn’t put salt in them, though, since baby people aren’t supposed to have much sodium, so I can’t say that I like them as much as M does (I put sharp cheddar on mine — it went very quickly from ‘not quite melted’ to ‘just cheese oil now, whoops’). She ate about one and a half of her little patties, which was a good amount of food for a little person.

I had decided not to give M melon for a while, since she never chews it very well, but the cantaloupe I cut open today was so soft and perfect. I ate twice what I put on my plate. And M finished all of hers and then another piece about as big as a chunky fish stick. I just gave it to her like that, and it quite quickly disappeared down the hatch.

It’s funny looking at the photo of what M ate in my last post. She didn’t quite finish all of that, but the next day, she ate so much pesto spaghetti that I couldn’t believe it. And she’s been eating bigger quantities since then. Not crazy tons, but enough that I feel like she’s actually getting nutrition from it. I’ve started giving her only a couple of ounces of milk when she wakes up in the morning, so she’ll eat something for breakfast, too. It’s exciting to see her eating real food, but it’s also daunting to move away from bottles. She’s enjoying it, though!

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Food These Days

M has been doing a lot better with food, lately. She has no appetite for breakfast, since she has a bottle when she wakes up, but lunch is okay, and she’s been enthusiastic by the time dinner rolls around. I try to give her as close to what I’m eating as possible. Yesterday, I soba noodles with tempeh and broccoli, and she had the same thing but without any sauce (just a little soy sauce to flavor the tempeh). She actually ate most of what was on the cutting board in that first photo, except for the broccoli (more about that in a second) — and she ate about half as much again of the tempeh, with the extra graciously donated from my bowl. She does wear a bib when she eats, by the way — I had just taken it off after dinner and thought she looked extra cute with her fork, so I took a photo.

M had a dilation of the stricture in her throat back in July, and it’s definitely improved her swallowing, but she still has some trouble. I want to give her a chance to improve on her own before assuming she needs another dilation, and she has gotten better over the last month and a half. I have a mental list of her ‘problem’ foods, which are hard for her to swallow, like bread and potatoes. I’m putting broccoli on that list, as it always seems to get stuck, whether she has a big stalk to chew or I cut it into little bits. So I wound up taking her broccoli away yesterday, after it kept giving her trouble.

Just in the last week, maybe, I’ve noticed a difference in how excited M is about eating — not just tasting. She’s always been pretty good about giving new foods a try, but she has gotten bored quickly after that point. The past two days, she’s started really shoveling food in! When something gets stuck in her throat, I have to take the food away until she’s worked it out, or she’ll just keep stuffing more down the hatch. I’m really happy I found this page with a list of serving sizes for toddlers, but even those small servings have seemed a long way away. But if M keeps it up, maybe we’ll be close by the time she turns a year old.

Oh! And M learned how to feed herself with a spoon recently (instead of just turning it around to chew on the handle). I still have to load it up, but then she wants to put it into her mouth herself. (She also just learned to wave and to play peek-a-boo by hiding her face — it’s been a big week for new skills!) M doesn’t want anything to do with purees or baby cereal, and she even refused yogurt the other day, which used to be on her approved list. Foods she’s loved recently include rice (especially in the cheesy bechamel sauce I made for her!), noodles cut up (she can’t chew up pasta shapes, but thin noodles are fine), tempeh, and our homegrown tomatoes.

p.s. — The book in the first photo is Mary McCartney’s Food. I hadn’t bought a cookbook in ages, and I saw this one at the co-op and thought it was so beautiful. And there are some recipes I want to try, of course!

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