Friday, 14 November 2014

The World's Slowest Knitter

The esteemed Yarn Harlot recently asked Twitter how long it takes (the rest of us) to knit a pair of socks. This is a woman who is known to be a very fast knitter and can knit a pair of socks in a day which is, um, yeah. BLD (Before Little Djinn) I could knit a pair of socks in two or three weeks which means if I knit nothing but socks I could have, say, 14 pairs a year. That's not a lot of socks. ALD (After Little Djinn), well, my mother bought me a skein of Opal 6-ply (sportweight) sock yarn and Hiya Hiya needles for my birthday when I was in California in June. I started them on the 16th and finished them last weekend. This was not exclusive knitting, but they were my handbag project, the one that went with me to knit night ever week, the ones I worked on when I finished a ball of yarn for my red cardigan and didn't want to wind another ball just yet, or when Little Djinn and I were playing at the Floral Hall and I would knit as I trailed after her. They weren't exclusive but I did work on them a lot. And 6-ply yarn is thicker so it knits up quicker than the usual 4-ply sock yarn. I am the world's slowest knitter.

I am not a process knitter. I mean, I knit because I enjoy the process of knitting, but I'm not knitting for the sake of knitting, I'm knitting because I want to make things. I want to have a stable of toys for Little Djinn, a closet full of hats and scarves/cowls and gloves/mitts/mittens. I want all three of us to have a closet full of sweaters for any mood and weather. I want to wear hand knit socks every day and twice on Tuesday, and slippers for around the house. Heck, when I have knit all the things I may turn my hand to charity knitting (the kind where you make actual things for actual people, not "raise awareness" on behalf of global corporations), and things for the house like blankets, cushions, and bathmats. Heck, when I knit all the things I'll even have time for sewing because I wouldn't be thinking "if I take an afternoon to sew that toybox together I'll never finish my knitting!"

I'm already dedicating as many hours a day as I can to knitting so clearly I need to knit faster. Any way you hold your yarn and needles and get stitches is the correct way to do it, but clearly some ways are more efficient than others and my way isn't high on that list. A fellow knitter posted a review of a Craftsy course that improved her knitting, helpfully titled "Improve Your Knitting: Alternate Methods and Styles". Ms Lyons (a Lion Brand scion) talks about different ways to hold your yarn and needles (English, Continental, Portuguese) and different ways of mounting the stitches and situations where one method or another (or switching between them - two handed colourwork, knitting back and forth for short-rows rather than turning the work) can make knitting easier.

I've already noticed an improvement in my knitting, though I've only been able to practice the "new" techniques on new projects, not my previously cast on ones as my gauge has changed dramatically. One of the knitters at knit night asked if it might be faster to frog some of my extant projects and start over with the faster method and I almost had to go for a lie-down. Give up on hours and hours of work? Can't do it. I am making a big push to finish off projects so I can just switch and wipe my bad habits from muscle memory.

As a note about Craftsy, I'm a big proponent of TV;DW* and for most things I prefer to learn by reading and looking at some pictures (and doing). I've signed up for a few Craftsy classes, both free and paid-for and I don't think I've watched all of any of them. But knitting - how to make the basic knit or purl stitch - is fundamentally a movement and as a movement it helps to see the motion. So while I'm not particularly a fan of Craftsy, I found this class to be useful. Yes, you can probably look up all the different techniques as free youtube videos but you have to know to look for them and sort out your own pros and cons list for each. In the Craftsy class Ms Lyons has collated it all for me and I can concentrate on figuring out what works for me.

And now if you'll excuse me, I need to pick my next handbag sock project.


* Too Video; Didn't Watch, a play on TL;DR - Too Long; Didn't Read.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A Knitted Ted (and friends)

For Christmas last year I requested and received a subscription to Knit Now magazine, a British monthly that started exclusively with accessories and quick knits (not to be confused with simple or boring knits) which has branched out to include garments and more time-intensive projects. I'm the world's slowest knitter so I've not knit a lot of the projects (I hoard patterns and wool which I figure means I hoard dreams of projects) but when I saw Bartholomew Bear from Brown-Eyed Babs I wanted it for Little Djinn. Chris gave me the wool for Easter, a super bulky "fur" wool from Erika Knight made from something like 98% (British) wool with just enough nylon to hold it together.

I started it end of May and finished early July, though again I was in California for almost all of June, so really it took just over two weeks. My favourite thing about toys is how quickly they knit up. And there's the gratification of seeing my daughter play with them long after she'd have outgrown a jumper. While the yarn is wonderful and made a fabulous bear, I don't much fancy knitting with it again. Lovely result, but "fun" yarn isn't.

Another project from Knit Now magazine was Finlay Fox by Barbara Prime, which came with yarn as a kit in the June issue. I knit Finlay for Chris as the safety eyes aren't intended for children under 3. That lasted about five minutes. She* looks so clean in these pictures. The live version, having been taken on several adventures including a few to the park and at least one run in with a mud puddle, is somewhat dingier.

I knit her with the kit yarn which I believe is a house label. Finlay went to the October Highland Wool Festival at Eden Court here in Inverness with us and got lots of compliments. I was especially impressed that Little Djinn held her the whole time and never dropped her. Here's a picture of the kit and pattern if you want to see an example of the quality:

The third toy I knit this year was actually the first, Little Lamb from Spud and Chloe Visit the Farm by Susan B Anderson, which I knit for Little Djinn but also to enter in the knitted farm animal competition for the Highland Wool Festival in May at the Dingwall Mart**. She didn't place. She's knit out of North Ronaldsay wool (held double) for her body and Shetland wool for her face and legs. She took a fair time to knit (almost a month) because every other stitch got pulled out to make a twisty loop for her fleece. It was fiddly. Then I finished her one day before the submission deadline so I paid to have her next-day special delivered and then that evening at knitnight I found out that while the webpage still listed the original deadline, it had been extended on their FB page and I'd wasted the money. I'm still fairly irked about that (saying something on FB and not the "real" website).

Rumour has it that the contest for this year upcomming will be tea cosies. I have the pattern for Kate Davie's Sheep Carousel and planned to use the leftover yarn from my Sheep Heid, but I'm worried it wouldn't be the only one submitted (there were three of the same cow toys this year). Things to think about.

All of my toys are stuffed with Jamieson and Smith's wool filling (from which I try and pick the bits of not-fleece). Wool is naturally anti-microbrial, retains warmth, holds lots of water without feeling soggy, and fire-retardant - all good things in general but especially useful when the toys anticipate being loved by a toddler.


* everything in our house is feminine unless there's an actual reason it shouldn't be, such as Peter the Team GB lion with a full mane. Finlay, despite the masculine name, lacks gender markings.

** hey, two Highland Wool Festivals in one year! Result! though the October one this year was, I think, under-advertised and I would be surprised it it happens again next year. That said I was surprised it happened this year and as long as it's here in Inverness I'll be attending.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Red Rosemorran

Back in February I think it was, The Scrumptious Collection, Vol 3 by Fyberspates* came out and, as there often is, a blog-tour with give-aways at each stop happened and I was lucky enough to win a copy**. It is a really beautiful book, both physically (page layouts) and conceptually (patterns) and my only problem was deciding what to cast on. I loved the Kenwyn hat and cowel, and needed a hat to match last winter's purchase of a dark teal (they call the colour "petrol" here) coat, but I saw there is a contest on the Fyberspate's rav group where the first person to complete any of the patterns in the book with the suggested yarn would win the yarn to knit any of the other patterns in the book. I had the yarn for Rosemorran in my stash and I wanted a summer cardigan for our changeable Scottish weather so I thought, Perfect! and in March I cast on.

Are you laughing yet? I'm laughing. I thought I could cast on a cardigan in March and finish in time to wear it over the summer? Hahahaha, no. I didn't work on it at all when I was in California for three weeks, and I occasionally knit other small things like a sheep for the Highland Wool Festival competition, but it was my main project and I just finished it last week, in October. Yeah, world's slowest knitter strikes again.

I made a few modifications, most notably using Custom Fit to get a cardigan that would fit me perfectly, without having to work out my own modifications to the pattern. Lazy, yes. Worth it, oh yeah. I took the basic shape from the pattern (long sleeves, crew neck, ribbing lengths for cuffs, hem, and collar, knit the stitch pattern, knit my tension square/guage swatch, washed and blocked it, then entered the size and weight along with the number of stitches and rows I needed for the pattern repeat and using my measurements, I got a custom pattern for a custom cardi. Custom Fit even estimated how much yarn I'd need (though I've not weighed the finished jumper to see how close it was and it has buttons now).

Seven months of knitting later, and I've got my jumper! There was a little problem with the buttons, namely I had eight of them and 10 button holes and when I went back to the shop where I bought them they were (gasp) sold out, but I'd used two on a cardigan Little Djinn has outgrown and I was able to find it in the retired clothing box, cut off the buttons, and add them to my jumper.

Is it perfect? No. I should have gone down a needle size on the ribbing to tighten it up. The shoulders aren't perfect - are they too wide? are the arm holes too big? Are they perfect but the weight of the jumper is pulling them down? I'm not sure. I may sew a ribbon on the inside of the button bands to add stability, and possibly under the shoulders as well. but it's beautiful and it follows my curves perfectly. So much better than I could have done on my own, even knowing intellectually how to "do the math" to adapt a sweater.

Oh, and the contest to knit the sweater first? Someone else knit it first, of course. Winning the book and having a wonderful cardigan will just have to satisfy me.


*rav link because a quick google didn't turn up a page for the book itself and the listing on Fyberspates website isn't as good as the rav page.

** my winning strategy? I only entered once (I didn't want to accidentally win more than once), but I entered on a blog with a smaller following.

21 Months

Another long stretch without posting, I'm sorry. August was a bit of a rough month for us as Little Djinn got 8 (!!!) teeth, including four molars in one week which involved some sleepless nights and crying inconsolably. Nursing didn't help and she wouldn't let us CalPol (baby tylenol) her, and she normally asks for some whenever she sees the bottle. But she now has four in the front on top and bottom and her first four molars, 12 teeth in total. This has made nursing less fun for me and I'm 90% done, but she still very much wants to nurse so we're trying to find a balance.
We also went down to Pitlochry in August and stayed at The Atholl Palace Hotel where we got married. Some friends of C's were up for a week, having enjoyed their stay during our wedding, and were using APH as their base of operations whilst exploring Perthshire so we went down for two nights to see them and have a mini-break. Apparently there have been some changes (including a remodel of the Stag Bar) with a new manager who was there for a year before getting the boot(?), and the new new manager is going back to the way things were (the way we liked them). Mostly this upheavel showed in the restaurant which had the usual lovely food and the worst service we've ever seen. It's a good thing we were going early (6:30ish) because it got crowded one night and really fell apart. That's not going to leave a good impression with the German tourists on the coach trip who were staying the night and waiting forever for food. Otherwise it was a really good trip and C and I took the opportunity to each get a spa treatment, a manicure and facial for him and a full body massage and scrub for me. Ah, for a little while we felt so relaxed and pampered. When I win EuroMillions there will be more spa days in my future.
In September Little Djinn's playgroups started up again, swim lessons on Mondays (which we had to ourselves for 6 weeks), a new dance class on Tuesdays that sounded perfect for her on paper but she's just not keen on it, the next age-group up for her Wednesday class which is particularly nice as we know all the kids and their (grand)parents and LD is very confident doing the activities. For a while we were in a soft-play on Thursday mornings that she loved - climbing structures, bouncy castles, big soft blocks - but that was only a 6 week course and the following session was booked up, but we're in the one that starts at the end of the month so she'll enjoy that. In the Thursday we met another half American toddler. That's three of us American Moms now, and we've been hanging out after the Tuesday and Wednesday classes. IT's nice being able to talk to other people about the ways things are different from What We Knew.
Little Djinn has really blossomed in the last month or two and she's much more interested in playing with other people. Her godfather, M, came over on Friday and she clung to my leg briefly, then brought him all of her toys and told him to sit next to her on the floor, and basically decided that he's the best thing ever. After swim practice on Monday we were having lunch in the cafe and someone at the next table over started playing peekaboo with her so she got Danni Dinosaur and made him play catch with her and stuff. I think he learned an important lesson about not making eye-contact with toddlers.
She has a lot more signs, including a few she made up like drawing a circle with one finger on the other palm to ask for her favourite telly programme, In the Night Garden (it starts with a random toddler having circles drawn on their palm). She has signs for cat, spider (she tries to do the gesture for Incy Wincy/Itsy Bitsy Spider), thank you and going for a walk. She makes noises for dogs, snakes, cars, and airplanes. She says "bib" (we'd largely stopped using them until she started asking for them), "clonk" when she bumps into things, and I think yesterday she said baby. She "counts" and hums the first line of "How Much Is That Doggy in the Window". She puts on and takes off (and puts on and takes off and puts on...) her shoes and understands if you tell her that she's putting the shoe on the wrong foot. She says Uh-oh and "nee-nah-nee-nah" which is the sound emergency vehicles make here, but we've not explained that part to her yet (one of her friends says it and she's copying the sound).
Little Djinn is very huggy and kissy, habits encouraged by In the Night Garden where one of the characters has "a very kissy day" and goes around kissing everything in the garden. She also does the little dance each character does when they're introduced.
She's starting to be interested in "real" food and so far is a big fan of baked beans, bacon, and salami. She likes peanut butter and sometimes likes bread but isn't interested in peanut butter on bread. She eats fruit, fresh and dried, and sometimes vegetables. We got her some little potties because she was very interested in what we do, but while she knows they're for peeing and she knows when she needs to pee (she'll ask for her nappy if she's naked), she has no interest in the next step.
And, knock/touch wood, bed time is currently going really well for us. We need to be better about putting her to bed at a "reasonable" time, but she gets her story and we nurse for a bit and then I ask if she's ready to go sleep in her cot and she (thinks about it and) says yes, I move her over she lays right down and....that's it. She's still waking in the night and wanting to nurse (and wanting to sleep nurse which is the part I'm not fond of as I wake up sore) but I'm working on either letting her nurse for 10-20 minutes and putting her back in the cot or telling her it's not time to nurse and putting her back.
I gave Little Djinn her first haircut a few weeks ago. We dressed up at the main characters from Monsters' Inc for Halloween. That is largely the State of the Toddler. We're still very much amazed by her every day and every day she's learning new things.

Sunday, 17 August 2014


Today I am sad because I miss my beautiful books and my lovely bookshelves. Kariebookish, on twitter, posted a link* to an article on "styling" one's bookshelves, the gist of which was sparing use of books as decoration and significant use of negative space. I hardly know what to make of this. I've been an avid reader of books my whole life and worked in a bookstore for just over five years. I'm from the school of thought that bookcases should be stuffed, absolutely stuffed with (organized) books. And that they're beautiful.

I had a modular set of bookcases which were enough for two walls in most rooms I rented. I had enough books to fill them, paperbacks stacked and hardcovers standing proud between them. In the space in front of the books I had picture frames holding pictures of my friends, usually group shots, from some of the happiest times in my life, and knick-nacks and candles, mostly tea lights, in a range of holders. The shelves themselves were beautiful, a light pine, and for the cross beams I splurged on the wine-racks for the front, turned upside-down so they were scalloped. They were the envy of ikea interiorists everywhere.

And I left them, almost all of them, when it left. Jackie got the shelves along with my pretty much all of my household stuff (including my modal sheets. Man. Modal sheets.) and most of the books were sold to half priced books along with the DVDs for so little. They didn't want the hardcovers, you see, they don't much shift hardcovers. But I was leaving and I didn't have time or money and I couldn't take it with me, except it turns out I could have taken about six times what I did for the same price but by the time I knew that it was all gone.

I kept my autographed hardcover Pratchetts and my mother got my hardcover Harry Potters (the first two were technically hers) and the rest...I'm replacing things as I reread them and buying new ones in ebook form and I love everything about ebooks, about taking 600 titles with me on holiday, about reading on my phone or tablet or e-reader, whatever is most convenient at e moment, about backlighting and buying and reading a the next book in a series seconds after finishing the previous one, even at 3am, and having books magically show up for being pre-ordered. I especially, and this was the clincher for me who moved something like 9 times in four years, culminating in moving across a continent and an ocean, I especially love not having to box them up and carry them somewhere new.

But I miss looking at them. I miss my bookshelves, yes, my lovely bookshelves, but mostly I miss my beautiful books and how, together, they were a portrait of me.  

* I'm on my iPad, there is will be no fancy formatting like hyperlinks.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Still Alive, Honest (17 months)

We are still alive and doing well, though Little Djinn fell off of a play structure whilst C was watching her so when I got home from work* he was all out of sorts and when she woke from her nap she was extra clingy and sad. After she fell she asked Daddy to nurse and he had to explain that he couldn't oblige her. She nursed and fell asleep on my lap, then nursed some more and fell asleep again, then woke up when I tried to shift her to her cot, watched In the Night Garden (a telly programme aimed at soothing toddlers to sleep), played ball for about 30 seconds, and agreed to go to bed so she could nurse some more. Hopefully this will be her caught up on sleep: she's been staying up late since we got back from California and wanting to sleep in late. I'm trying to ease her towards an earlier bedtime by setting the alarm to wake us up earlier, which worked in as much as she now wakes up at 8am whether the alarm goes off or not, but hasn't moved her bedtime up at all and she's not been taking longer naps to compensate. So our little Booboo was getting crabby.

Which brings us to the biggest news since my last update, the California Trip. My mother flew Little Djinn and me out for three weeks, most of June, rather than fly herself out to Scotland again this summer. C flew out for the last week and we all flew back together. The trip out could not have been easier, considering it was 24hrs from leaving the hotel in Glasgow to arriving at Grandma's house. We had a row to ourselves on the first leg, Little Djinn slept and ate at her normal times, there was a little playground at our lay-over, the aircrews could not have been was a great trip. The trip back was less so, even with C's help. We got up at 3am local, she never really got back to sleep, we had two layovers, the first one too short and crazy-busy to let her out of her carrier, the ground crew wouldn't let us board early on any of the flights departing from US soil, she barely ate, and it was a good 22hrs of travel. Horrible, horrible experience. 

But the trip itself was good. Grandma and I got matching iPad minis (I had C's first gen but it is no longer supported for software and crashes all the time, and doesn't have a camera or microphone) so we can skype and hopefully the next time Little Djinn sees grandma she'll recognize her. We spent one weekend in Fremont with Miss Krissy and the cousins, and it was a bit of an adjustment for their boisterous family and my very shy, introverted baby but with Miss Krissy's help we worked it out. Little Djinn especially loved Noah's Pretty Pretty Princess (ugly pirate) Puppet. 

Great Aunt Kathleen (my mother's youngest sibling) flew down from Alaska the second weekend, Uncle Jimbo** came up the third weekend, and Uncle Johnny, who lives near Grandma, came over four times, usually with Aunt Janine - once with her whole family! Little Djinn warmed right up to Uncle Johnny (I swear I could hear Grandma grinding her teeth in frustration) - my theory is that we look a lot alike so he seemed familiar, but then she warmed up to Uncle Jimbo pretty quickly, too, and he looks less like us. It took her two weeks to warm up to Grandma, though every time Grandma left the room, Little Djinn grabbed my hand and dragged me after her. Then she took her food and toys away from me and gave them to grandma, two weeks to the day after we arrived, and that was that.

A lot of my friends were willing to schlep from points Bay Area to my mother's house a good three hours away, and so we had guest every second or third day, which felt like a good balance between overwhelming Little Djinn and getting to spend enough time with Grandma vs. getting to hang out with my friends and see as many people as possible.

Little Djinn kept trying to Skype daddy whilst we were apart, including kidnapping my kindle every morning. She doesn't know about time differences. Or the differences between kindles and iPads. When he finally showed up, late one night, she kinda lost it. I think she'd been okay because she didn't realize that daddy could have been there with us, and it was a while before she trusted that he wouldn't leave if he left the room. She did freak out when I packed the bags to go home and we had to explain that Daddy was going with us, we'd all be together the whole time. I don't think we'll take a holiday apart again.

Little Djinn just barely has the tip of a fifth tooth, or at least I think she does. She doesn't have any words yet, though occasionally she says "Mama" or "Dada" in a way that sounds like a proper noun.  I swear she said "Banana" once but it's not been repeated, and twice she said something that sounded like "bye" while spontaneously waving. She recognizes airplanes and makes engine noises, she makes car noises, and she can sign birdies (as well as "nurse" and "please" which she already had.) I think she has the sign for "food" but she mostly asks to nurse so it's difficult to tell. 

All of her classes are on hiatus for the summer, so we've been going to the park, the botanical gardens, and the pool a lot, as well as playing outside or exploring the islands. Before we left on holiday, Paul, Karen, and Crystal passed through Inverness on their Britain tour and we got to have dinner with them. Just this past week, Dave, Ellen, and their daughter S swung by on their Grand European Vacation (we went to the pool. They went on the water slides. For three hours.). Little Djinn decided that S is the older sibling she's been requesting and my normally shy tot would not leave S alone, bringing her toys and books, and dropping them next to her. S was largely gracious and willing to play but also an almost-9yo who wanted to play with the iPod in peace.

In other news, we are in the process of having Aged Parent's house fixed up with an eye to living there. It is cheaper to fix this place up than to sell it and buy something else and gamble on getting what we want in an area we like. Hopefully this will work out. We're having solar panels installed and sun tubes put in for natural light, and AP's office converted into a pantry. We hope to have the master bedroom extended as the room would barely fit our bed and there's no room for a wardrobe. C would also like to replace the "summer house" (a kind of shed for sitting out on nice days) with a free-standing office. We would also want to put a fence across the driveway to fully enclose the property, making it safe for a child and possibly, in the future, a dog. We've replaced the flooring and the bathroom fixtures, the kitchen appliances are being updated, and that's about as far as we've got. The garden is lovely and needs very little work.

This is largely the shape of things, except to say, if you like speculative fiction and have not read "Ancillary Justice" by Anne Leckie you really should. It is really good and a fresh idea in the largely derivative world of space opera.

* there is an awkward 2hr shift on Thursdays for the late hours and it is least awkward for me to work it (or so everyone else tells me. Ahem.) which means I get the 6hr shift on Sundays to make my contracted hours. The downside is that LD and I can no longer go to mass Sunday morning and tea afterwards and we were starting to be known as part of the community, but the upside is having regular, set hours that don't impact C's standard work week and we get to spend Saturdays together.

** He says we already have an Uncle Jim (now Great Uncle Jim) and I guess he doesn't want to be Uncle Jimmy to which all I can really say is "okay then".

Friday, 7 February 2014

A year and change

A year and change, with an emphasis on change. My tiny baby is so big (and yet, at 8.14 kilos, so small). She finished the year at 25th percentile for weight and 50th percentile height, which explains why she's always fit her age-size for clothes and outgrown things lengthwise before she was in any danger of doing so width-wise. There was one outfit we were given that, unfortunately, she outgrew in length before she was wide enough to keep it from falling off of her shoulders. Oops.

The biggest change is that last year's helpless infant who could only just hold her head up is walking and babbling up a storm. She'd been able to walk for a while, before Christmas certainly, but was only rarely willing to take a few steps between objects, preferring to shuffle around on her knees. The oddest part was that knee-shuffling was a lot slower than crawling, though it did afford a greater ability to carry things around.  Then one day mid January, she just walked across the room, changing direction and speed, picking things up to carry with her and putting them down again. She'd entirely skipped the careening madly into things stage and become a proper walker. She still loses her balance a fair bit and then usually has to knee-shuffle over to something she can use to regain her feet, but she's managed to stand up on her own a few times, too.

Little Djinn also has two teeth! The second one showed up on New Year's Day and is ever so slightly behind the other one. Thank goodness it finally came because the 6 weeks of teething to get two teeth was not fun for anyone. Starting on Christmas she would occasionally have an allergic reaction to her own stools and nappy changing became just that little bit less fun. She's still spending the whole night sleeping with me, I've not been able to get her to come for a nurse then return to her cot again, but I miss her when she's not with me so while I'd sleep better without her, I like having her next to me. Even C, who is a fairly light sleeper, found he did alright with her between us on our holiday, sleeping through (with earplugs) her waking up to nurse, and taking comfort in reaching over to touch her tiny hands. And even if one could wish for a longer lie-in, it's hard to be grumpy when she wakes up so happy and ready to play.


And now it's been another month. The only real change from the First half is a third tooth, the teething for which was, thankfully, much milder. She is coming on and picking up new skills seemingly daily bit it's hard to pinpoint the changes. She is more consistent about signing to nurse, and not just tugging my clothes, and she'll take me by the hand and show me how to do things (like pat the fuzzy tummy in her touch-and-feel book). She can now lift the mouthpiece on her sippy cup and not just close it. She can climb the sides of her high chair like a ladder. I ask her in the morning if she wants up in her chair for breakfast or if she'd rather run around on the floor and she'll decide she's ready to sit and reaches for the chair. She goes to the pram and pats it to say she wants to go for a walk, and a lot of time when she's running around she'll come back when I call her and stay in the area specified. She can stack her nesting cups the short way and the tall way, though she hasn't quite grasped sorting by size.

She dances. When she hears music she likes she does little squats and sometimes stretches her arms up or swings them like she's doing the twist. She gives kisses (pressing her open mouth to mine) and if she sees my bare tummy she pecks at it, which I realised was her attempt at "blowing raspberries". She knows where her ears are and sometimes will point to my or C's nose but that's it for body parts. 

The other night I was getting her ready for bed and, having just got her nappy off she stood up and gave me a big cuddle, then stepped off the edge of the dresser and wiggled for down, then took off for the stairs. Daddy came up just in time to see our entirely free-range, estatic baby close the baby gate and start down. She knows that baby gates are supposed to be closed (sometimes with herself on the wrong side) and tries to close the latch on the cupboards if she sees that open. 

Her hair is getting long in back, 3 or 4 inches, but is barely half an inch along her forehead and Daddy keeps threatening to take her for a haircut. Speaking of Daddy taking her places, I've been back at work for about 6 weeks, 8hrs/week (usually two half days) and Daddy is on solo parenting duty those days which has been really good for all three of us. Little Djinn didn't even cry on Sunday (a six hour day) - not when I left in the morning and not when I left after they came to have lunch with me.

We took her down to Edinburgh last week for an overnight and to register her birth with the US consulate. I've heard horror stories but our case was straightforward and, other than our passports, marriage certificate and Little Djinn's birth certificate they didn't even look at anything I brought to show that she's a US citizen. I think it helps that I'd never left the US until I met C in 2009 and while he'd visited, he's never lived there.


And another month. Still only three teeth, still gaining skills but no big breakthroughs. I ask her if she's ready to change her nappy and she gets her bucket (if we're home) or her changing mat (if we're out) and carries it to the changing table. She knows where the changing tables are in a lot of places and will go to them, only waiting for me to open doors. 

She's a bit better about eating. She loves bananas, mangos and raisins/sultanas. C has been buying small bags of very expensive imported Cheetos and she always wants to share those (I bite the ends off of a few for her then put the bag away. Sometimes this stops the demands for more and sometimes she has screaming fits while trying to reach the bag.). She likes Doriano crackers, which are a lot like unsalted Saltines, and occasionally will eat a bite or two of cheese. Today she ate porridge made entirely with cows milk (I've been mixing with my own for months). She's grown again but still fits a range of clothes from 9-12 (tops/dresses) to 12-18 (trousers, footy pjs) months. She's lanky.

I work two 4hr shifts a week and I'm pretty sure those are her favourite days, whn she gets to play with Daddy. C got an office in town ad actually leaves for work which always results in death-hugs (as in squeezed-to) and usually tears. Saturday I left for work and had to ask for a fairly indifferent cuddle whilst she did everything but push me out the door. But she's always happy to see me when I'm done, and only I will do if she wakes in the night. Daddy is for play, Mama is for comfort.

Today is the last day of Easter Break, when all of the toddler groups pause, and she'll be back in swim lessons and dance class next week. We've also been trying to make Bookbug (story and rhyme session) at the library and have some books to return, if she'll let the one with the hamster, goldfish, and bunny all on th same page go back. She can identify the mousy in the "That's Not My..." books and has similar "find the object on each page" things she can spot. 

Easter was brilliant. Grandma made a fabric Easter basket for K which I "hid" in her room and she found when she woke up. We gave her a set of Happyland construction figures with a dump truck and a bulldozer which she's absolutely crazy about. She tried to take the dump truck to bed with her (I said no, but let hr have a construction worker). After church, I hid a dozen plastic eggs in the back garden, then after she found them and lost interest in playing with them, I hid them again. She was even more excited the second time nd when we told her she'd found them all she started hiding them again herself. It was unbelievably cute. 

No words yet, but she understands lots of things and remembers a surprising amount of things she's only asked about once. At this point I'm expecting her first word to be a sentence, similar to how she wouldn't take steps until she got up and walked off.

Every night, after she's gone to bed, C and I marvel at how amazing she is and how lucky we are to know her.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Let Us Start as We Mean to Go On (NYR)

Today is the day we collectively resolve to be better: to be fitter and stronger, more organised and thriftier, to spend time doing things that will please us years for years instead of the things that will please us from moments. These and so many other resolutions surround us and, while I think it's good to feel renewed vim and vigor, optimism all too often covers delusion and flows to disillusion and disappointment. Thus I remind myself that life is about striving, about trying and failing and trying again, and not just deciding things will be different and expecting them to change magically. Seanan McGuire suggested a resolution to wake up each morning (always a good place to start) and think "I will be kind today", to everyone friends and strangers alike and especially ourselves.

For myself, I have started the year as I mean to go on, with laundry being washed, folded and put away* and the upstairs picked up and hoovered**. Normally I'd want to begin the year with a clean house but I think the act of cleaning is, for me, a more suitable "start the way you mean to go one" than sitting around enjoying the fruits of one's labours: at that, I am adept. So my goal is, not to have a clean house, a goal which can be achieved fleetingly if at all, but rather to clean my house, to put in effort at least weekly that entropy be kept at bay, chaos not overwhelm.

With my crafts I resolve to adopt a "project in, project out" policy. If I complete a project I may acquire yarn for a new one, though obviously picking something from my stash would be best. This does leave room for me to knit a bunch of little toys and reward myself for each with a sweater-quantity of yarn but I think I know myself well enough that that won't happen***. This also goes for sewing/fabric and cross-stitching****.  I am going to winnow my queue to projects for which I already have yarn - if another project is meant to be I will be able to find the pattern again - though queuing multiple project ideas for the same yarn is allowed if I've not yet settled on one. I will try not to buy patterns until I am ready to knit them.

Most importantly, I seek to spend more of my time "actively present" with Little Djinn, to offer my attention unstintingly when she needs it. There are things I need to accomplish but keeping up with social media isn't one of them. She'll need me like this so briefly.

For these things, towards these ideals, I strive.

*in progress
**the two are connected, laundry and hoovering; I did the downstairs on Monday
***more than once. Or twice, you know, whatever.
****progress was made but neither project completed