Wednesday, April 30, 2014

But the Sticks Belong to Dorothy

I wouldn’t exactly say Dorothy was happy when Owen arrived.  In fact, just to refresh your memory, she spent a lot of time his first month home skulking under the couch:

She often gets jealous still, and when one of us is sitting on the floor playing with Owen, she will go get a toy and nudge-like try to get us to play with her instead.  If her efforts fail, she will then cry a bit—a sound Owen is so familiar with, that he will imitate it if you ask him “what does a dog say?”  (Apparently a dog does not woof or bark, but cries, “Nnnnn, nnnn, nnnn”). 

But they have reached a grudging d├ętente, and Dorothy is on the whole submissive to Owen in the house.  He can take toys from her and give them back and she will willingly give them up and then gently accept them.  When Owen puts on her collar like so:

She does not protest.  And Owen adores her.  He calls her “Dorr-Dorr” (although the other day he tried to say Dorothy and came up with Dor-ye) and always wants to know where she is and what she is doing, etc. 

But.  All these niceties change when Owen dares to step foot in Dorothy’s yard.  The yard, humble though it is, is Dorothy’s Eden.  It has grass to eat!  Space in which to sprint!  Woodchucks and squirrels to chase!  And perhaps most important, it has sticks.  It is when Owen picks up a stick in the yard that problems occur.  In the beginning of the nice weather, Dorothy would more or less body slam Owen when he picked up a stick.  But after repeated scoldings, she now knows she is not supposed to do anything when Owen has a stick, although every once in a while she can’t help herself and will gently steal it from him when we aren’t looking.

Poor Owen, who enjoys picking up a stick and will often do so generously to hand to Dorothy, was for awhile picking up a stick and then immediately assuming a defensive posture with his little back hunched and the stick clasped to his front.  But as we all spend more time in “Dorothy’s Yard”, she is getting more accustomed to letting Owen pick up what he will, knowing that soon he will tire of it and will become hers.

Dorothy thinking, but the yard is mine and everything in it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

End of April Tidbits

When Owen received his easter basket, he took out everything that was in it, and then took out the grass and threw it on the ground.  Plum moseyed over to it and started to eat it, so I had to throw it out.  I had visions of the $1,000 vet bills that would ensue once Plum had to get the plastic grass surgically removed from his stomach.

Yum, plastic salad!

Owen is obsessed with the bird bath in the yard.  He will walk over to it and then ask (about ten times in a row), wawa?  For burds?  I then say yes, and sometimes will make an accompanying bird drinking noise which makes him laugh.  Then he asks again.

We live near a hospital, and Owen now knows to look up when he hears a helicopter coming.  He is also very into planes and will look up and then point to them in the sky.  And also will wave to the people in the plane. 

Sean's picture of Owen plane-spotting.

Our woodchuck has awakened from his hibernation under our shed.  Of course, this pleases Dorothy to no end, as she can now chase him back underneath the shed daily.  There used to be two gaps under the shed which the woodchuck (and occasionally a rabbit) could use as entrance or exit, but in the fall Sean blocked one with stones, so that the space would not become “the party shed” of the Abington animal kingdom.  But he has agreed to move the stones, so that the woodchuck can escape from Dorothy faster.  (Updated to add:  he moved the stone the other day and the woodchuck charged him!  In a no good deed goes unpunished kind of way!  Sean survived.)  The other day Dorothy caught up to the woodchuck and he gave her quite a slap.  She then cowered by my side for the next ten minutes.

Dorothy thinking, yard vermin are a big problem these days.

Owen likes to pretend to be asleep every now and then, especially on the beds in Ikea.  If placed on an Ikea bed, he will immediately roll over on to his stomach, stick his butt up in the hair, tuck his arms under his torso, and make a “honk shu” snoring sound.  He will occasionally do this on a rug or couch too: 

Quiet!  He's pretending to sleep!

He has started attending music class with Susan again, and likes it very much.  He is fond of Miss Katie, his teacher, and enjoys watching the antics of the other kids in class, as well as playing instruments and occasionally singing a la la la.  Here he is in the car all excited before class:

I hope we’re on time!

And then here he is after class, immediately asleep:

Monday, April 21, 2014

"I Just Need A Plate and a Fork and a Bunny"

Owen celebrated his second easter yesterday, and it was a rather quiet affair.  I did actually hardboil eggs this year, which was more than I managed to do the previous year, but since we hadn’t gotten around to dyeing them on Saturday, we decided on Sunday to forego the craft and skip right to the egg salad.

I had been squirreling trinkets away for Owen’s easter basket though, and he ended up with a nice assortment of rabbits driving carrots and hopping chicks and things like that.  The only candy I included was a chocolate rabbit (which, not knowing it was chocolate, he quickly threw out of the basket and kicked under the couch – don’t worry, dear reader, as those who know me can imagine, despite my sore back I crawled and rescued the rabbit, dusted it off, and placed it lovingly on the counter for future eating), and some jelly beans in plastic spiderman eggs.  Sean offered him a bean to eat, but he was having none of it; in fact, he didn’t believe they were food, let alone candy, and spent a good half hour or so taking the beans out of the egg and putting them on the chair, and then putting them back into the egg, etc. etc.

There is a method to his madness.

Owen was also invited to an egg hunt our neighbors were having for their granddaughters, but the hunt was supposed to take place at 10:30, and we went on a walk at 9:30 (we surprised two rabbits in the wild, of the non-chocolate variety!), and by the time we got back at 10, the hunt had already occurred!  Owen was handed a shopping bag filled with plastic eggs, which 5 year-old Savannah called “boy eggs” since they were all a sports ball motif.  Owen promptly sat down and took all the eggs out of the bag, and then put them in the bag, and then took them out of the bag, and then back in the bag – again, etc. etc., so it was probably just as well that he missed the hunt, since plastic eggs in a paper sack were more than enough excitement for him.

That cat's right behind me, isn't he?

Owen was so busy taking the eggs out of the bag and putting them back in, that he didn’t want to participate in the photo opportunity that our neighbors were trying to arrange, so Savannah and her sister, Guiliana, who is just two months younger than Owen, ended up sitting on either side of him, while he continued his activity, and at one point helpfully lifted his head up and said CHEESE before putting it down again.

And then we spent most of the rest of the day out in the backyard.  I hobbled around after Owen with my injured back, while Sean did real yardwork, Dorothy got in the way, and then Sean went inside and cooked us a ham.

Next year, I plan to dye eggs AND make a cake in the shape of a lamb.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Because If You Don’t Look Good….

It turns out a bald man and a woman with very bad vision probably aren’t the ones who should be attempting group barbering.  But attempt we did last Saturday, and poor Owen was our victim!

The hair on the back of Owen’s head is basically normal, straight, thick hair, whereas on the top and sides, it is still wispy baby hair.  Over the past year, I’ve trimmed the back a few times, when it reached his collar and just became generally mullet-y.  I tried to cut it while he was paying attention to something else, since he doesn’t like the sound of scissors cutting his hair, but I could usually only do a few quick snips before he was on to me.

The problem became twofold:  first, because I was always just cutting the ends in the back, his hair was becoming a bowl cut with all the hair in the back the same length.  Second, most of the hair on the top of his head still won’t grow past the hairline, except for a few long strands that would look cute in a Mad Men kind of way when combed with a side part, but which would inevitably hang down past the short bits in spikes on his forehead.  Here’s an example:

So before Sean and I became a hairdresser tag-team, I attempted to cut off the spiky bits on top and make them even with the hairline fuzz.  But what I hadn’t realized is that then it would look like I had cut ALL his hair on top in tiny bangs that were less than 1/8th of an inch.  In other words, Owen would look like a pocket-protector-wearing, full-fledged dork.  Like so:

Adorable, yes.  But nerdy haircut?  Also yes.  It was like bowl-cut meets monk-cut, and therefore something had to be done.  I enlisted Sean’s help, because he is very good with things requiring small eye/hand coordination.  But he has also worn his head shaved for years—perhaps even decades—so his haircutting scissor skills were a bit rusty.  He therefore first grabbed a hank of hair in the middle of the back of Owen’s head and hacked it off.  It looked horrible!  We both couldn’t stop laughing!  Poor Owen!  Sean tried to fix it up a bit, as I kept telling him to “cut it vertically!”, but poor Owen still looked like his hair had been cut by a four year-old sibling, or as Sean put it, by a one-toothed beaver.

We decided shorter was the only way to fix it and kept cutting and cutting until it didn’t look so bad.   Although I think that is really more a tribute to Owen’s cute face than to our mad skills.  Here is the finished product:

Not bad, but I think next time we’ll get a professional to do the cutting!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unraveling A Scarf Mystery

Knitting is one of the things I haven't had much time to do since Owen's arrival.  But now that his sleep has improved, I figure I'll have more time in the evening to perhaps start working on a few of the many projects in my knitting queue.

To get myself back into the knitting mode, I decided to get some of Muench's Touch Me yarn, a soft chenille I had once used to knit myself a scarf.  I also decided that I wouldn't really follow a pattern, but just use a simple garter stitch, so that I could knit while watching TV in the evenings with Sean.

I find it hard to remember:
Touch Me is the yarn and Please Touch is the museum....

So I started my project slowly and all was well, except that soon I noticed strange loops in the scarf that looked like I had dropped a stitch or made some other such error.  Now I have many knitting flaws, but in the 15 or so years I've been knitting, I think I have dropped maybe two stitches.  It just isn't something I've ever had a problem with.  So I was flummoxed by these loops.  I also didn't think they were dropped stitches because I still had the same amount of stitches on my needles as I did when I started.

Can you see the annoying loop smack in the middle of the picture?
And yes, I realize the scarf looks like it is knit out of puffed wheat cereal;
just trust me that Touch Me is the softest yarn ever.

I began to fixate and stress and generally be a very bad TV-watching sofa partner, as I kept holding up the scarf and looking at the holes and loops and then sighing and becoming more and more annoyed with myself.  Had baby brain permanently affected my knitting skills?  Was I only going to be able to produce lopsided sweaters and scarves that started out looking moth-eaten?

Then Sean saved the day by patiently suggesting that I google the name of the yarn and "problem" together and see what came up.  And of course what came up is that Touch Me is a heavy chenille, and thus known to "worm", which is what the loops were that kept appearing in my project.  I also discovered though that one option is to wash or "felt" the finished product to make it appear like a crushed velvet, and the felting process will mask the worming.

Another view of a worm:

So there you have it.  I am not afflicted with a sudden and inexplicable knitting incompetence.  Touch Me worms.

Mystery solved.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Moments By The Numbers

20 – Owen is twenty months old now and I am finding it a very good age.  Yes, he has developmentally reached the terrible twos and is often afflicted with the accompanying tantrums, but he is so enthusiastic and funny and intense and methodical.  It’s fascinating to watch him process information and put two and two together.  We went to the garden center of Lowes the other day so Sean could get some dirt and a few other items and Owen had a blast running around and exploring the place.  He obsessed a bit over some dirt on the floor from a knocked over plant, and then enjoyed peering into the concrete urns for sale and seeing which ones had rainwater in them and which didn’t.  And every time we would pass Sean as he shopped, Owen would act like he hadn’t seen him in weeks, crying “Dada!” with utter joy and waving hello by opening and closing his little fist and running towards Sean’s cart.  The whole trip was merry (at least until we had to put him back in the carseat, upon which he planked) and a good example to me of the inherent joyfulness of this particular toddler stage.

2 – Owen has divided people into two genders, Dadas and Mamas (yes, I know there are really more than two, but there are no transgendered folk in Daniel Tiger, the program from which he seems to be gleaning his gender research).  He will point at women he sees and call them Mamas and men Dadas and seem quite pleased with his pigeonholing.

1 – About one cup of Bert’s Bees shampoo landed on Owen’s face early Saturday morning as I was getting him dressed.  I get up on Saturdays with Owen (and Sean does on Sundays), and since he doesn’t like to be on the changing table, I usually give him some object to keep him occupied, in this case a bottle of shampoo.  Well, apparently the cap came loose and at least a cupful of shampoo splooshed out onto his face – luckily not into his eyes, but a lot definitely landed inside his mouth.  He cried and cried and cried for at least an hour, and then had difficulty eating his oatmeal because I think he kept tasting the shampoo when he swallowed.  Sigh.  He also gets hives on his face when he cries for a long time, so his face was all blotchy.  It wasn’t my most successful parenting moment.

18 – Sean likes to tease the 5 year-old granddaughter of our neighbors, and she loves it, and brings her neighborhood friends over when Sean is out gardening to introduce them “to my friend, Sean.”  Anyway, she had a new Barbie bike last weekend and told me later in the day that Sean told her that his bike had eighteen Barbies on it and she was excited to see it.  I must have had a skeptical look on my face, because she then said, “Unless he was just kidding me?  Sean always kids!”  And her mother and I confirmed that indeed, Sean probably did not have a bike with 18 Barbies on it.  At least, I certainly hope he does not.

10 –The amount of contortions Owen’s tongue made trying to imitate Sean and say “I’m fresh!”  Apparently, “fresh” is a word filled with difficult sounds, and I’m afraid to admit that Sean and I laughed so hard at his attempt that he refuses to say “fresh” again.  Oh dear.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Owen at 19 Months

Owen has a new dance, in case you were wondering.  It looks a little like this:

No, that is not a video, just a picture.  But it is pretty much what he does.  Stand there and lift his feet in tiny baby steps up and down.  Sometimes he will turn, and the whole time he is dancing he usually has a very cute smile on his face.  So there is that, but he has yet to really bust a move.

He is really on the verge of speaking in "sentences", or saying more than one word and a string of gibberish.  The other day we were in the kitchen, and he began to, well, poop, and as he often does while pooping, he will say the word, Poop.  But then he realized that I was standing right there, and might just sweep him up and off to get his diaper changed -- an activity he is Very Much Not Fond Of.  So after saying Poop, he quickly looked at me and said, No, Mama!

His little sentence was all to no avail, since I indeed said yes, and then did the dreaded diaper changing.  But although the sentence was not obeyed, it still was spoken!  And was rather cute.

He also says a lot of "Hiyas" while lifting his foot in a karate kick motion to imitate Dad.  And his other favorite thing is to drop or knock something on to the floor, and then put his head to his hand in mock dismay and say, "Oh man!"  I tend to point out to him that you don't get to say Oh Man if the knocking over was done on purpose, but I suppose I am just raining on his parade with that one.

Owen is also very much enjoying going outside on the warm days we have had here and there peppered amongst the snowy ones.  Here he is on just such a warm day a few Saturdays ago, enjoying destroying the leaf pile Sean was trying to rake.

It doesn't look too springy yet, does it?!  Alas.  Although we do have about two inches of crocuses and daffodils starting to come up in the front.  And I will take what I can get!