Our little boy is 1 year old. It is so hard to believe (also hard to believe is that I am almost done with another knitting project).
So, I don't know where I first saw this idea, though I am sure that there were tons of them on Pinterest. I don't even know how many people we suggested this to as a gift for our little one. Early this past week we got a pair of boxes. One was already partially opened (thank you postal service!), but had a packing slip so we knew who it was from. The other box did not.
Inside that other box was balls. Ball pit balls.
The first box was an activity set, which also included balls. The activity set isn't something that Q is currently as interested in, but the balls. They are a HUGE HIT! We just added them to a baby wading pool that we had cleaned up for the winter.
Not only did he have a blast playing in them, but the other kids at the party (9- and 10-years old) were able to play with him in a safe fashion without needing to be excessively monitored by all of the adults in the room. It was fun to watch, and continues to be great fun for him to play with now almost a week later.
One of the things we've been doing with the balls has been describing their characteristics. This is probably a misguided notion that all of his toys should be more purely educational, but we will pick up a ball and say it is blue, round, shiny, etc. Or we will start counting the balls of a single color.
Q's birthday also involved a tasty cake, which I will include a recipe for if I can find pictures of the cake to include with. Yum!
In the past year, knitting has become almost a fantasy. It's not that I cannot knit. Heck, I have been getting about the same amount of stuff done, but it has been in dribs and drabs. I will have a 3 week period where I get a ton of knitting done, and then nothing for weeks. I'm constantly adjusting to my new normals: first Mr. Q, and now going back to school.
All this makes Camp Loopy, and now the new Loopy Academy extra attractive. It is structured and it has deadlines, both of which are important in my now more complicated life. Now, I cannot afford to buy a lot of yarn right now, and I have enough stash that I shouldn't even want to (note: shouldn't. I am weak and therefore the pretty yarns make me salivate). I want to participate in Loopy Academy, so what's a gal to do?
Well, Semester 1 is all about relatively short projects: 1 in each of the three main weights of yarn: fingering, dk/sport, and worsted. I think I'm going to take part of my days off this week (Tuesday and Wednesday!) to look for yarn in my stash and ball it up to start an Academy project. I won't be eligible for any freebies, which are a great incentive, but I might be able to use the project as a way of getting some holiday knitting done in a more manageable way.
So, first up! Finding a free cowl project that will use 175 yards or more of multicolored fingering weight yarn. I wanted to do Dateline Cowl, but if I am not buying yarn I probably should also refrain from buying patterns for a while. Sad, because the pattern was gorgeous!
I'm thinking about some Sweet Bubbles. Does anyone else have some patterns they recommend?
This week's 10 for Tuesday is about cars. As I just earned my license last week, I am not really qualified to write about cars I have owned. Instead, I want to write about baby-led weaning. I cannot remember where I first heard about baby-led weaning, but one of my earlier recollections was the subsite that Smitten Kitchen had where she made her own foods for Jacob.
Our little boy is nearly 1 year old, and has been eating solids since March. At this point he is a seasoned hand at the whole food game, though that doesn't mean it is less messy... or at least not by much.
We started off a little slow. Occasional solid meals, but after a month or two, Q was interested enough that he pretty much ate a solid meal when we were eating a solid meal. Most of those meals were exactly what we were eating, because I don't tend to use a lot of salt in my cooking. He's had Indian, Israeli, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Italian and Chinese, and probably others that I simply cannot recall.
I bought the Baby Led Weaning cookbook as an ebook, and quickly branched away from it as our own adventures in eating progressed. It was great, but the food was bland for our tastes and soon that was true for all of us. While I wouldn't say that Q eats all of his vegetables, he had no problems with the mushroom and spinach lasagna on Friday with carrots. He eats his zucchini muffins like a champ. He loves most fruits, many carbs, and is the king of the lentil patch.
One of my hopes for the upcoming year is that he stays a good eater. I love to cook, and while I don't expect that he will like everything I make it is more fun to cook something that will be eaten with joy and gusto than it is to make something that will be just thrown on the floor.
One of our more recent successes was Shakshuka, specifically the version from Smitten Kitchen. I used jalapenos and a huge bag of cherry tomatoes brought in by one of my coworkers cooked in my giant cast iron skillet. It was hugely flavorful and while I still miss over easy eggs, Q has no problems with the eggs being cooked all the way through.
His face was covered in tomato and the tray was a bit of a mess, but when we lifted him out of the high chair to clean everything up after breakfast there was nothing in the chair and no food dropped on the floor. For a baby, that is a ringing endorsement!
Now, Q's birthday is in 7 days, and over the weekend I made a test cake. I brought in the leftovers on Monday and they were gone by 10. Tasty, but it needs a frosting that is closer to buttercream than what I had (I had whipped cream with apple cider caramel).
I'm hoping that his birthday and his birthday party are a lot of fun. I expect that this like many things is mostly for us at this point. We want to celebrate his life. He'll be happy for food and snuggles and the opportunity to rip some packaging to shreds and put paper in his mouth. That is as it should be. But throughout it all, there will something tasty that can be shared, because food for me is an expression of love, and I love our little boy.
It involved insurance, a phone call or two (not mine), parallel parking, a really sad 3 point turn, and then at the end a sheet and the words, "You Passed."
Yup, I am now a legal driver at nearly 40.
Now I can decide I want to go to the yarn shop and not need to ask anything beyond, "Do you need the car?"
When I was in Boston not driving wasn't a big deal. Freedom and choice was having a valid T pass (or Charlie Card), not having a license and a car. Public transit is a lot more limited in Lexington, so learning to drive is much more important.
I probably could have gotten my license faster. I got my permit back in December, but the winter was icy so I didn't really start practicing until later in the spring. I took a driver's test prep session, which was handy in that it told me what to work on and bad in that it made me feel like the driver's test was a lot harder than I thought it was.
So, here I am a few days out from the driver's test. There is a new piece of plastic in my wallet (Kentucky gives you the official card day of. No paper placeholder for your wallet while you wait for the official card to be mailed to you), but not a lot of change. Maybe that will feel different this weekend when I have my first solo driving experience.
Oh, and I sent an email to our realtor when I passed, just in case she wanted to get off the road. I'm not that bad, but the joke was too good to pass up!
In the past, Thanksgiving, and to a lesser extent Halloween, was my raison d'etre during the fall. I would cook, plan, and cook some more with an eye to making the largest number of Thanksgiving desserts, while cooking just enough savory food to pretend I wasn't just being dreadfully unhealthy.
Now there is a birthday (well, a second one) to celebrate just as fall starts, so there are celebrations for each month of the fall season. So, while I could focus on fall cleaning (like spring cleaning) or some other winterizing activity, I am going to think about the celebrations to come in this week's 10 for Tuesday: 10 things you do to get your home ready for fall.
1. Celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day. Technically this day isn't part of fall, but it is the closest "holiday" to Q's birthday. This year, this means he is getting a pirate-themed birthday party. As I explained to Chris, the theme is for us. It gives us an idea of what kind of decorations we want and allows us to do things like shape cakes and all sorts of fun things.
2. Make lists. There are grocery lists (and grocery shopping), gift lists, homework lists, church-activity lists, parent-group lists. I feel like my life is governed by lists. They make everything a little more manageable, as long as I don't get overwhelmed by the list making process first.
3. Plan menus. We've started menu planning, which is handy for weekly menus. I don't know if it really is saving us money in the grand scheme of things, but it is making it easier for us to go grocery shopping and makes it easier to not have produce go to waste. The big menus though are the birthday party menu and Thanksgiving.
4. Plan my knitting. This one is a little harder to manage. I want to do gift knitting, but I cannot let gift knitting interfere with either my family life or doing well in my classes. I have a potential list of about 10 items to knit. I expect that the number that will be done this year is significantly lower. Probably closer to 5.
5. Get ready for Halloween. I don't know yet if we are going to go out, or if we will dress up and just answer the door for Trick or Treaters. Either way can be a lot of fun.
6. Door things? In Massachusetts, we lived in an area with a mix of apartments (the standard 3-floor walkups mostly) and single family homes in a large mixture of styles. It wasn't hard to find our house, because the house didn't look like any of the ones nearby. But in our new neighborhood, the houses all have a sameness to them even when the yards or the features are all slightly different. This place is the land of the door wreath, so I am contemplating making or buying a couple of wreaths or hangings to make it easier for people to find the place. Not contemplating very hard though...
7. Cleaning. I love having a clean home, but I don't have the time or energy to put into keeping it that way. Or the inclination. Sadly, I want to have little cleaning fairies come out while we are changing diapers and pick up the mess in the hallway or put the dishes away. There will be a bit of this, but mostly during periods when I have a bit more time off.
8. Studying. I know it isn't really getting the house ready, but being consistent in my homework and studying so far is giving me a lot more time to be with my family. Putting it off might feel like a nice thing when I get to spend the evening watching movies, but if it means that I have to spend baby-waking hours doing homework instead of cuddling, playing or watching his first steps... well, it is all about making priorities.
9. Test recipes. I'd elaborate, but really I just like to try out a lot of new recipes in the fall.
10. Finish things. I have a few projects that I should finish, though I don't really want to do any of the old things I started between 2007 and 2013 (wow, Ravelry is horrible for showing me things I didn't really want to know).
There are tons of books I love, though I'll admit that between having a baby and going back to school if it isn't a board book or a textbook I don't really have time for it. I feel weird apologizing for having a baby when every day with him is one of the most awesome experiences of my life. So, in honor of parents and babies everywhere, here are my list of books (of the chewing variety and beyond) that have stayed with me.
1. Your Personal Penguin. This is the first book I remember reading to Q, and we read it to him nearly every night. It was also one of the first books where we got a definite response. I started to read and he turned his head in a beeline towards me. Super sweet.
2. Continuing in the penguin theme, And Tango Makes Three. My husband bought this one from the UU bookstore after service one day because he knows I like penguins. It is a beautiful story and definitely one that encourages acceptance. Not a board book, so this one needs to be held with long arms to prevent incidental chewing.
3. The Fairy Tale Tree. This is a book I read incessantly growing up. It's a huge collection of fairy tales from around the world widely ranging in length. It has both small paintings inside and fold out pages with pictures. It was published in the 1960s, so I was ecstatic when I was able to find a copy for us via bookfinder.com (only go there if you are brave or have more willpower than I).
4. Serendipity books. I borrowed a lot of these from the library growing up. I don't remember all of them, but I remember Leo the Lop and The Muffin Dragon. We don't have any of these yet, and I don't really know how easy any of them are to get.
5. The Velveteen Rabbit. A lot of the books I read to Q I know he isn't really ready for. They are chapter books or just long. I read this one to Q while I waited for my last dental appointment, which was a bad idea. Stories that make you cry just don't need to be read in waiting rooms.
6. Nancy Drew. The old ones where the words were longer than two syllables. I also liked the cross-over books with the Hardy Boys. Other mysteries I enjoyed were were the Bobbsey Twins and the Hollisters. I loved books that involved twins.
7. Witch Week. It is part of the Chrestomanci books by Diana Wynne Jones. I love Diana Wynne Jones's books, but this is only one of the Chrestomanci books that I read growing up. I was in middle school or junior high, and it really spoke to the outcast me I was at the time.
8. Le Petit Prince. This is the first book I ever read in a language other than English. I originally read it in French and then later read parts of it in Japanese. I have also watched it in French. It is a wonderful story, though I'll admit that I have never read it in English (link is to the French PDF). Of course, reading it in Japanese was a much harder process, which is why I've only read parts (see also, I have read parts of a random book on stress control in Japanese, because all it takes to get me interested is Japanese).
9. The Westing Game. I cannot explain why I loved this book so much, but even now as an adult I love to reread this story. I love the characters with their quirky habits. While I loved Turtle and still do, I also really like Sydelle, because at one point my mom and I were learning shorthand together.
10. This one is kind of a tie. Biting the Sun is a utopian distopia. I read this a few years ago, and it gripped me with its story of how being able to do whatever you want eventually falls flat and something a bit more concrete is desirable. Snow Queen was one of the first science fiction stories I remember reading. I haven't read it in a few years, but I loved the play between technology, wealth and corruption and the two clashing cultures. I haven't read it in years, but it is one of the titles I periodically reread.
It is awesome, because, unlike daycare, Chris sends me a picture or two of our little boy every day. Or at least every day so far, as it is only day 2.
It is horrible, because the pictures make me want to race home and give our little boy a snuggle. I have not learned to either teleport or to colocate, so I cannot do that and keep the day job.
School is going well, or as well as one would expect for it only being week two of classes. I am even getting some knitting done. Not just the sweater I made for me, but I have a sweater for Q that is waiting for a button.
It is a sweater I started at Squam 2013.
When it is finally done, I am going to be so happy to unveil that. People who were in my cabin that year will almost certainly remember the yarn and remember the project, because I was knitting away almost every evening on it.
Now, it is time to go and do more homework!
For Camp Loopy project 3, we needed to knit 800 yards minimum using our favorite colors. As much as I joke about black, the "color of my soul," I love blue. In the past few years I've become more of a fan of bright colors. When I saw Stripes Gone Crazy, I knew I wanted to make this project.
Less than one month later (I blocked it yesterday), I have a new cardigan with beautiful stripes that has a wonderfully soft hand. This was a super wonderful project. The short rows kept it fast and eliminated the boredom factor.
I did make one major mistake. I should have done the stripes on the other sleeves. I had already done about 10 narrow stripes when I realized I was knitting the left sleeve with the right sleeve pattern.
The sweater is nice thin layer that is perfect for an office or any other place with air conditioning.
I completely want to make another one. Maybe with the dark color being the main color. I don't think I've ever made a full-size sweater twice, so the idea of making this one twice on size 4 needles in sock yarn is a bit crazy.
Unrelated to the sweater, I cannot believe that it is only a single month until Q is a year old! I will be in classes for an entire month at that point, but I know I want to make cake and ice cream for his first birthday. I am learning more about time management than I thought I would ever know. It's all about speeding through those necessary things in the day, so I can spend more time on the homework and with my family.
Now that my last project for Camp Loopy is done, it is time for me to go through my stash and to pick quick projects I can do around my homework. The writing class has a large time commitment, and the programming class looks like it will ramp up to a similar level of work.
I'm sitting in Q's nursery room, about 5 feet from his crib as he falls asleep. I'm back early from my first CS class, because we went over chapter 1, course objectives, basic programming information, and the syllabus. It wasn't a surprise that we got out early. The first chapter focuses in part on the ubiquitous "Hello, World!" program that I can write in at least a couple of different programming languages, including the C++ that the course is taught in.
The sounds of Q's quiet breathing and the sound of the washing machine are soothing as I contemplate installing a second IDE on my school laptop (yes, I bought a laptop for school, a 5-year old Macbook Air doesn't meet the course requirements). I mean, it is free, and it is Microsoft, so it will be good to be familiar with it. I will probably download it on Saturday during naptime.
So, writing, a video introduction, an IDE and finishing a sweater all before Monday. Sounds like a wonderful weekend to me!