Yesterday, December 30, was the fourth anniversary of Pudding coming home to her Forever Family. At that time it was just me, but seven months later it was also Sparks and a couple of years later it was Amelia too. Poor Pudding didn’t get her anniversary blogged about yesterday because Amelia has had her first feverish cold, and I was in a state of nervous collapse (having had the feverish cold myself). Having a sick nine month old while being sick myself was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It was harder than the days I spent at home alone with her soon after her birth via c-section, and that was really hard. Last night Sparks took the monitor to the guest room so I could have an uninterrupted night of sleep for the first time in two weeks (because the week before Christmas Amelia was cutting her first tooth, and wasn’t that fun). Amelia rewarded him by sleeping through the night without a peep. She’s on the mend.
Happy anniversary, dearest Pudding. You are a soft, adorable, purring, chirruping, patient, gentle, loving, and perpetually neglected pussycat. We love you lots. Extra treats for New Year’s tonight.
We are in the final countdown of the 2011 holiday season. On Pinterest, people are already spilling over into Valentine’s Day. I have found my mind wandering to gardens and a certain little girl’s first birthday… but that won’t do. Let’s stay present in the moment.
The shopping is done. The decorating is done. The cookies are done. The gift wrapping is done. The house cleaning is done, only tidying is left. Mimi is cutting her first tooth (!!!) and Sparks and I both have head colds… alas, it’s the third Christmas in a row that I’m under the weather… but Pudding seems perfectly healthy. So heeeeere we go, come at us, Christmas!
The year is coming to a close, and I find myself knitting quite a bit still. It’s a nice quiet sedentary occupation for Mimi’s naptimes.
The variegated socks you see were knit from a Zauberball Crazy, which is my new favorite sock yarn. Regular Zauberballs are one ply and that drives me crazy, but Crazys are two ply so they are just right.
The snowflake sock I started last winter. It’s knit of Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra, with snowflakes in Jawoll. I am knitting its twin right now. This is a nice yarn because it’s a thick sock yarn… Only 56 stitches around my foot instead of the usual 64. It comes in lots of scrummy heathered colors too.
Mimi’s Weasley sweater is on hold. I got about four inches into it and could no longer deny that, in spite of calculations and having swatched, it was sized more for a toddler than a baby. So it has been put away and will be finished, or not, in a winter to come. Such is knitting.
Between pre-Christmas Christmas at my aunt’s this past weekend and the coming actually-Christmas Christmas with my parents this coming weekend, Mimi and I are taking one afternoon to slum it before the final throes of pre-holiday prep are upon us.
One more trip to the grocery. One regular round of laundry plus guest laundry plus washing the guest room quilt, which badly needs it plus it’s time to wash all the mattress covers and blankets and switch to our winter quilt. One large house cleanup. One scrubbing of the guest bathroom.
Little Tootse is nine months old now. The months go faster and faster…
This month, she slept through the night fairly reliably. Sparks, who gets up to give her her morning bottle between 5 and 6am, might argue that point. But it sure seems to me that she’s sleeping well (har har).
This month, she’s been staging revolts against spoon feeding. Right now, I can feed her if I let her have a second spoon to hold while I do it. Right now, she likes to sit on the sofa by her dad and share a bag of popcorn.
This month, she will drink from a sippy cup… then spit it out all over herself.
This month, she is all-the-sudden older, wiser, funnier, and more loving and lovable than ever. Sometimes I can get her to give me a sloppy-wet baby kiss. Sometimes I can get her to hold eye contact with me and grin and squeal and make me the happiest mama on the planet. Mostly though, this month, she just has to go-go-go-go-go. Chairs, playards, saucers, even the cordoned-off fireplace nook are NOT ENOUGH. She needs to GO PLACES, and she needs to do it NOW. I am trying to keep up, to babyproof the house ahead of her, and to lower my standards of decorous mothering and baby-behavior. This week’s most memorable moment was the ten minutes I spent moving all the kitchen chemicals onto high shelves… while she put handfuls of cat food into the cat’s water bowl and tried to scoop them out with her lunchtime spoon, which she still had in her pudgy little fist and would not surrender all that afternoon. Eventually the water bowl got tipped, Mimi got soaked, and everyone ended up in pajamas for the rest of the day.
Do you know how everyone acts like their rugrags are the cutest, most fascinating, most important beings on the whole planet? Well, mine actually is.
This is what happens when you knit socks out of 100% merino wool sock yarn. This happened after only two seasons in rotation in my sock drawer. This is why I will never knit socks out of yarn without a nylon content, ever again.
Shall I name names? This is a sock knit out of Claudia Hand Painted. I have also, in the last year, had to throw away socks knit out of Blue Moon Fiber Arts lightweight and Knitpicks Sock Garden. These are all lovely yarns with exceptional dye jobs. I own many skeins of all of them. I may buy more in the future. But I will never, never, never knit another pair of socks from them.
I have never worn a hole in a sock with nylon content, and some of those I’ve been wearing for five winters now.
Choose your yarns wisely, everybody. I’d also advise against any alpaca content in any garment that will receive any wear friction or need to be washed, ever.
I remember an afternoon of my senior year in high school, a couple of weeks before Christmas. I had it all that year. I had a job. I had spending money. I had a car. I had a drugstore selling holo-sparkle wrapping paper just down the road. I bought four rolls of the paper and ribbon to match.
I didn’t finish using those four rolls of paper until I was done with grad school almost ten years later. There were a lot of things in my life then, but people to give Christmas presents to wasn’t really one of them. One thing for mom. One thing for dad. In my freshman year of college I made polar fleece hats and mittens for my new friends, mostly so I could use some of that wrapping paper.
I would use one sacred afternoon to wrap a half-dozen boxes and address a dozen cards.
Those days are over.
From Pinterest, I have learned that there are four stages of life:
1) You believe in Santa
2) You don’t believe in Santa
3) You are Santa
4) You look like Santa
I’m in stage 3 right now. And boy howdy. Gift wrapping has been a frantic thing, done in every spare moment, every box a victory, every nap time a mountain of boxes to be conquered. I think I will get all of the wrapping done, I’m just not sure I’ll get all the cookies baked in time to pack up Christmas packages and get them mailed. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
You’re right, kiddo. That is one shining pile of gifts under one beautiful Christmas tree. Thank you so much for giggling the first time you saw them. And no, you can’t open even one until December 25.
The picture of them is all over the Pinterverse right now, so I thought I’d make a go at dipping pretzel rods in caramel then in chocolate coating.
They turned out about as well as home confectionary can be expected to. It took me about 90 minutes to do four dozen. Working with sugar and candy always leaves me wiped out… Sparks had to cook dinner that day. And they taste just like Twix bars. Hm.
Part of the decorating this year was finally decorating my beautiful new mantel. Sparks built the mantel last winter but I failed to buy brackets for it and so it was never put up. This year, he fashioned his own bracket and put it up in October. Hooray for the mantel!
On it went the village I built of cardboard boxes last winter. That was my second attempt, in my second winter, to build myself a cardboard village. There are tutorials and patterns all over the internet for houses like this now, but two winters ago when I started, there weren’t. I found a wonderful series of books called “Build Your Own” and used the house shapes from them–Build Your Own English Village, Build Your Own Irish Village, and Build Your Own Main Street.
The colors of the houses were loosely inspired by Barbara Cooney’s illustrations from my last blog post. I even made two townhouses. I love townhouses. Can’t explain why, but I do. It might have something to do with Howard’s End.
The houses have vellum behind the windows and doors, so when they are put over a light they glow. This looks SO much better than I could have imagined. It’s wonderful! They also have a coat of snow glitter on their roofs and in the bottoms of the windows.
Maybe some year in the future I will have Sparks build a board for me, on to which all the buildings and bottle-brush trees are firmly attached, and through which the lights can be poked. For this year though it’s all just sitting on the batting-snow. Things are a little topsy turvy.
Here is how our fireplace nook looks at night just before I go to bed. There is the big tree, and the pink tinsel tree, and the mantel all lighted up. (Oh, and baby gear.)
One of my personal Christmas traditions is to find an hour when I’m all alone in the house, and spend it reading my favorite Christmas book, The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden. My edition has illustrations by Barbara Cooney, which are every bit as important as the text.
It is a story about wishing. That’s all I can say to describe it. The illustrations, though, are so dreamy… let me show you.
Please sir, may I spend a Christmas in this English market town? May I live in one of the little row houses? May I put a small, real tree in my dining room window and decorate it with silver crackers and real candles? May I fill stockings with old fashioned toys, nuts, and tangerines wrapped in silver paper?
This book is so wonderful. You should try it. It took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to read to myself, so I wouldn’t count on reading it out loud all in one go. But that’s all right. There is a lot of Christmas left.
Because the media room is baby-proofed and Amelia can’t escape over the two steps that go down into it, I decided not to put a tree there this year. So the big green tree has gone in the great room, and it looks wonderful! We can enjoy it from our fireplace nook and Amelia’s playpen is right next to it, which I hope makes her temporary confinements there a little more fun.
This year the base of the ornaments was a box of 36 oversized shatterproof ornaments in greens and golds. They look GREAT on the tree! So great that I think I’m ready to get rid of the old, smaller glass ornaments I had been using.
Next I added a dozen lacy sparkly ornaments in golds and pinks and a handful of sparkly gold icicles. Then a dozen pink vintage glass balls (all too high for baby hands to reach). Finally, the ornaments I made this year and my wedding band teaset.
I think the tree looks SPECTACULAR! I haven’t been so happy with a tree in years.
Most of the decorating was done during Mimi’s long nap. She had seen undecorated trees in stores before, but never a decorated one. When she woke up I went to her room to take her out of her sleep sock and extract the pacifier, then carried her down the long hall, into the great room, and to the tree. She made a little giggle–an overwhelmed giggle–and stared. I pointed out the special ornaments to her and she giggled the same way a few more times. The “Ice Dance” from Edward Scissorhands was playing on the stereo. She laid her head on my shoulder and looked, and looked, and looked.
Pudding sure hasn’t gotten any billing lately, has she.
She is still here. She is still a very good kitty. She’s as beautiful and soft as ever. These days she doesn’t get attention unless she asks for it, and that has transformed her into an affectionate, dare I say needy? lap cat. She snoozes, and when I’m down on the floor with Mimi she comes over to investigate. Mimi loves Pudding, loves her more than toys or food or snuggles, almost more than Sesame Street. Sometimes I hold Mimi’s hand so that she can’t grab, and let her gently pet Pudding. I think those two will be good friends.