When I was a little girl my Nanny (mother’s mother) knit me one of these sweet duffel coats. (That’s a picture from the pattern book and not me, although it very well could have been a photograph of my sister and I with the age difference) I fondly remember it keeping me warm on crisp autumn days playing outside with the neighborhood kids. I believe it was knit with a soft fluffy natural colored yarn making it cozy and squishy. I always had the pattern in the back of my mind as something I would surely knit for the little person I wanted to have one day. I knew my mother had some of my Nanny’s old knitting patterns and this particular one was in the stash somewhere. Recently my mother had a look through them and found it! With all the other knitting projects vying for my attention I couldn’t help but ignore them and start this one right away.
I’m using Lopi wool which isn’t the softest, but it is thick and warm and will soften with wear and washing. Because the yarn is nice and thick and the needles are fairly large it is knitting up pretty fast. I love the color, a pinkish red with some tweedy flecks.
Frances is a very lucky girl, her Nanny (my mother) is also knitting her a very soft and fluffy jacket to keep her warm and cozy!
When I was in junior high and going through that whole awkward phase of life I had a hard time fitting in. My school was in a fairly affluent neighbourhood and most of the kids were preps and jocks who had grown up together and had probably formed their own clique by preschool. I was the child of two artsy parents and no matter how hard I tried to look like all the other kids at school I had my own ideas about fashion and I think my mother really tried to steer me away from looking like a clone. My sister and I were not allowed to wear clothes with big name brands plastered across the front. Well not that we weren’t allowed, our parents just wouldn’t buy them for us. “Why should I pay a company to do the advertising for them” my mother would say. At the time I did not like this but now I am SO thankful that they stood behind their ideals and values. I remember saying to my mother once ” I can’t wait till I’m an adult and I won’t ever have to deal with all this cliquey shit anymore”. (well I probably didn’t use the word shit) She responded by saying something like ” I hate to tell you this, but it never goes away and in fact it can often be worse as an adult.” Well I don’t know if it has really gotten any worse but it certainly has lingered.
I find myself starting to worry about Frances in this judgmental world, how will she deal with it. The other day as we were heading off to play I told her we were going to see some friends. Friends she kept repeating in such a sweet, innocent and genuine way that melted my heart. Friends are something she is just figuring out and really has no idea what they are all about. At this age kids are just starting to interact with one another, they observe and mimic and sometimes make contact. Frances, like her mother is shy and cautious around others but will start to open up when she feels comfortable. I want for her to develop meaningful friendships with people (kids) who respect her for who she is. I want her to be her own person and to find her own voice. I want her to be genuine and true to herself and I want her to be open and respectful to others. Kids can be so cruel and I worry about what it might be like for her to encounter that. It is part of life and I think we all deal with it at some point, it makes us stronger as people and builds our character. I’m sure most mothers have these same concerns for their children at some point.
I’m giving myself a swift kick in the ass to start making some kind of art work. I can’t keep making excuses like I don’t have the time or the space, I must work with what I’ve got. If I lived in my perfect world I would have money growing on trees and a studio where I would spend my days making lithographs. Right now at this very moment, that world does not exist. I live in a small house with two wonderful people and almost no storage space. Every square inch is used for living and my work space is the same table we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner from. Time is of the essence as any parent of a young child will know and getting any kind of work done with that child pulling on your pant leg pining for attention can be a challenge.
I have never been much of a sketch book or journal keeper, but I think it could be the way to go at this point. It’s small and portable, easy to put away and a reasonable size to work with. I will make one page a day and set a time limit of no more then 30 min. Nothing precious and no pressure to create a finished work. I will post daily (that’s the goal) on the page titled Page A Day. Check it out!
Today is a good day for hermits in more ways then one. The blowing snow we went to bed with last night turned to rain as we slept and left a slushy mess on our doorstep this morning. After watching numerous cars slide down our street I decided it would be a good day to stay put indoors.
I will never shun a chocolate chip cookie but I much prefer a “healthy” cookie made with whole wheat flour and spices. Today as I was milling over the index of cookies in the Joy of Cooking it dawned on me that what I was really looking for was posted on the refrigerator. Nanny’s Hermits, ah perfect!
1/2 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
blend until light and fluffy, beat in:
1/2 c. yogurt (or sour cream or butter milk)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. wheat germ
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. baking soda
mix into butter mixture and stir in:
1/2 c. raisins, candied fruit
1/4 c. chopped nuts
zest of 1 lemon
drop onto cookie sheet and bake for 15 min.
Makes 2 dozen.
I used 1/2 the amount of sugar, added a sprinkling of ginger and used raisins, dried cranberries and chopped dried apricots. I omitted the nuts so Frances could try some. I’m not so crazy about a lot of clove so if I remember the next time I make them I will cut that in half.
Frances turned 15 months old on Saturday. She is so wonderful and amazing and I just love her to bits! Josh and I are having SO MUCH fun with her as she is growing into such a good little person.
A selection of favorite books.
Today we were back to the library. I was on the fence about going as the temperature was a frigid -21, -31 with the windchill. (That’s -5.8, -23.8 for you Americans) Josh’s dad called and offered to drive us, so we gladly accepted and headed down. There were lots of new little babes in the group today which makes Frances seem like such a big girl. It is amazing how just a few months can totally change a baby developmentally. I always find it strange to see babies, so drooly and stunned looking. For the record, Frances NEVER drooled. Not even once! The last time she was teething and four molars came in at once she was so freaked out by the drool that she would hold it in her mouth until Josh or I would have her spit it out into a tissue. I don’t remember her being so stunned looking either but then again would I freely admit to having a stunned child? You spend so much time looking at your own kid, you think they are perfect in every way, the most beautiful creature ever, that when you see other kids you think my goodness that kid has a HUGE head I hope they don’t fall over. Or wow, that kid’s got man hands. Do you ever wonder what people think about your kid? When Frances was a new baby and I spent my days gazing at her small head and tiny features, Josh would come home and I had such a hard time looking at him because his head looked gigantic and weird. I don’t think he’s weird looking but the size difference totally freaked me out!
Book are taking over our small house, we may need to build our own library soon! I have been rediscovering some of my favorite childhood books and discovering wonderful new books that will surely become classics. Illustrations are the main selling point for me, a good story is key as well but when I pick up a book I react first to the illustrations. Ezra Jack Keats for example, The Snowy Day, just beautiful! Simplistic collage relying on color, pattern and texture to tell the story of a boys adventures in the snow. Goggles is another Keats book I fondly remember. In The Baby’s Catalogue, Janet and Allan Ahlberg use softly colored hand drawings to illustrate everyday life in a baby’s world. Frances relates really well to this book. We also like Each Peach Pear Plum. We seem to be acquiring a nice little collection of Jan Brett books. These are new to me and a delight to find. Her most popular book and the one we read frequently is The Mitten. The main story is told in the center of the two pages while a panel on each side tells a back story and a foreshadowing that relates to the next page. While this concept is a little advanced for Frances it is something she will eventually understand. A cleaver way to keep the book interesting!
Maybe I will hold of on telling you about some of our other favorite books for another day. Maybe I should do a book a week. What are some of your favorite childrens books?
I must have jinxed myself last week when I said “oh we’ve only had one major cold in our house since Frances was born and even that didn’t seem so bad.” Yesterday a scratchy throat and runny nose snuck up on Frances and I. I should have known better as I had been a little tired for the past few days and Frances had been a little more needy. It’s inevitable with all the sickness going around this season and when we get together with other kids it’s bound to make the rounds. I’m so glad the day is almost over and we can finally get some rest and hopefully feel better in the morning.
Now onto the evolution of Frances. Walking! She is turning into a walking machine. Still a little wobbly but so good at it and so proud of herself! Penny the music lady will be so impressed if we make it to the library tomorrow. When we were leaving our last library group before Christmas, Penny said “I bet Frances will walk right through that door when you come back.” I was beginning to think that might not happen, but sure enough Penny was right! What else… when we ask Frances “who’s Frances” she pats her chest and says “me!” When she feels like she is finished eating her meal she will put her cup and eating utensil into her bowl and push it away on the table and say “done.” If she wants more of something like mango (her new favorite fruit) she will say “more, more, more.” Words are falling out of her mouth like you’ve won the jackpot from a slot machine. I am constantly amazed by the words she says, if she sees me heading down to the basement she will say “washing machine.” We like to count together, I’ll say one, she’ll say two, I’ll say three, she’ll say four and so on. If we are looking at a book I’ll say something like “Frances, how many birds can you count?” She will take my pointer finger and point it around and say “four, four, four…” So cute! Books continue to be one of her favorite things, all day she will bring me books to read her. I am very happy about this and hope the love of books will always be with her.
Today Frances and I went to the art gallery for a baby art workshop. It was the perfect activity for a wintry day and one I had been looking forward to all weekend. Brown paper covered the floor where we started out clean and worked into messy. The gal who facilitated the workshop was great, she gave all the kids some salt dough to get them started then she gradually introduced different mediums. We used crayons, markers, finger paint, and paint with brushes and sponges. There was also some corn starch goop that was fun to play in.
All the kids dove in with gusto and were completely covered from head to toe. Not our Frances. Oh she is her mothers daughter alright. She took it all in at first then slowly and daintily got her hands a little messy. She stayed in the same spot the entire time and probably could have stayed there all day. Just as things started wrapping up we were really getting into it.
I’m never quite sure what would be appropriate for a child of Franny’s age, so it was really good to see what aspect of the workshop she was interested in. Also good to go somewhere where mess doesn’t really matter. We have already tried markers with great success and crayons seem like a good and less messy alternative. I’ll have to find or make some that are big and easy to hold on to. Frances also seemed to enjoy the paint brush. Our friend Rebecca (Miss Knit) gave us some nice big sketch books yesterday that will come in very handy as we explore more art and mark making.