This time next week, I should be somewhat re-oriented at work. I don't have a clear vision as to how I'll get back up to speed, but there'll probably be meetings with HR to straighten out stuff arising from parental leave and make sure I get paid, a supervisor meeting about expectations and learning plans this year, and I hope there'll be some introductions and orientation with the new clients. There'll probably be some re-connecting with the confidentiality people, too, and with friends who I don't work with directly (or don't work with anymore), and figuring out what organized activities and committees I want to take part in. I'll be getting used to a very different structure of day, aside from the content of the work — coming home and shifting into high parent/cook gear right away (and helping Elizabeth get out of high parent gear), and generally being more focued when I am around home, I hope. I'll have to make a point of relaxing (but moving quickly) on the bike or bus ride home! Even with the extra responsibilities, I suspect that the increased contrast between adult-land and parent-land in my life will be a net reduction in stress.
Neither of them really likes getting a helmet put on, Oscar's seatmate manners are still a work in progress (trailering, with faster-moving scenery, they're a little better than strollering) and Oscar was loudly and urgently wondering for a while where Mama was on the way home (she was riding behind us). Despite all that, they were both asleep when we pulled into home. It was Elizabeth's first bike ride out of the season — she went out ahead in the morning to record some additional vocals for her album, and I came later with the kids to add my screaming to one track, get Vivien a snack (soda crackers were only so satisfying during recording), say hi to Sarah at Nicastro's and have tasty sandwiches for lunch at the Wild Oat before heading home together. It was my and Oscar's first ride out post-tune-up (yay, chain grease) and Vivien's first bike trailer ride ever! I was quite happy with how the new trailer handled with two kids and gear in it.
Life is pretty good of late: my leg and cold are mostly better, I still have just under two weeks of leave until I'm back at work (I'm enjoying the leave but looking forward to work, too), it finally feels like spring here (I got to wear short sleeves outside yesterday!) and I'm feeling pretty good about it all.
Yesterday, we got the kids outside in and on things with wheels:( two more )
Oscar continues to be kind of mama-centric, wanting Elizabeth specifically to do all sorts of things, from cutting banana bread to taking him to the bathroom. It's kind of a drag to be told "papa go away" a lot, but I hope it's just a phase as opposed to a parenting style thing — I do feel like I'm a little quicker to intervene when he's up to something iffy and a little more skeptical of his rapid-fire requests than Elizabeth is. Maybe my going back to daytime outside-the-house work will change the dynamics a bit. Oscar is also talking up a storm in more complete sentences when he feels like it — more people have names, and the flip-side of the specific requests is that he's using names as subjects more often in speech — things like "Mama carry Oscar" and "Vivien eat that" in addition to "Papa go away". He's also much more skilled at climbing playground equipment than in the fall, even though he had some time off (although we didn't wait for the snow to melt to set him upon the equipment this spring). He's skipping rungs successfully because he's in a hurry on things he couldn't quite hack in the fall.
Vivien is eating all kinds of things and working on a fourth tooth. She can also play while sitting and eat while sitting in the high chair (which has made the high chair cool again for Oscar). She's growing out of many of her hats and six-month clothes, and frequently babbling contentedly. Our days of being able to play a board game with a placid infant are going away again, though: all the bits are very fascinating. If we're lucky, she'll be a bit more amenable to a bedtime before ours sometime soon.
We've bought some seeds and are starting tomatoes inside. If we're lucky, we'll have zucchini, acorn squash, pumpkins, a few sorts of tomatoes, kale, mixed carrots, strawberries, pears, peas and chives. We'll probably manage a subset of that, but we can hope (and trust Gord and his CSA to give us lots of veggies, too). The crocuses are up again in the lawn, and I scattered some globe thistle seeds out front for colour and spikiness. I hope it's a good year for green-thumbiness!
( here be recipes )
It was a fun evening, with eight kids at its peak, and lots of food, conversation and basically managed chaos. I think we may have to do it again; the recipe box has lots more for another round.
I really hope that my stash of naproxen can expire, given that I've only found it necessary for shoulder wonk and now sciatic wonk.
Oscar has been in heavy mama-centric mode lately. Usually, I put him to bed, but the last few nights (except last night, where I was drawing through bedtime), I've given up and passed the torch after getting my hair pulled and knees in bad spots with no visible sleep progress. Elizabeth usually goes in and emerges ten minutes later with Oscar asleep. It was a little comforting to find out last night that his road to sleep was long, so even if it doesn't feel like progress, my starting off bedtime may be doing some good in helping him spin down a bit.
I helped Elizabeth trim the sides of her head today into an undercut. No pictures yet, but now I can meet my fuzzy and fluffy hair-scritching needs in one place.
On Monday, we appeared in our first family photo in a while, courtesy of commodorified. I look stronger than I actually needed to be!
I drew again last week; we had a fun, pretty and at times kind of ambitious model named Ayoub.
This one is two poses, but mostly that ambitious one on top, with Ayoub balancing and pressing on the stick in his hands with his feet. The bottom of the sketch is a different, cross-legged sitting pose.
I went to a drawing workshop a couple of weeks ago; our model was a familiar face from one of my favourite retail establishments in Ottawa. She was fun to draw and chat with at the break. If I can get organized, I think I'd love to spend some of the art store gift card from my parents-in-law on some pastel paper to work up and down in value — the last pose had me hankering to work lighter and darker more easily, and preparing neutral ground charcoal sheets is a hassle…
Some little gestural warm-ups.
Papa amusement park (bounce, spin, sway, whee!) has gone from merely distracting to fun, with smiles and giggles. This is good for my fitness and both our morale! She's definitely still working on crawling, and also at manipulating objects — we have to eat with our plates and cutlery further and further toward the centre of the table when she's in one of our laps. Fortunately, she is sometimes content to play with stuff on a cushion beside the table.
Oscar is working on language — novel short sentences, using people's names, vocabulary explosion! He's also been going on short bus-and-walk trips without a stroller, and is playing a bit better with others.
Today, we're basically back up and running: check-up doctor's appointment for Vivien and supper out with friends this evening. Yay, back in the swing of things!
( then )
( now )
Six years ago today, I proposed, in a horse shelter at my parents' place, to Elizabeth. She said yes.
Also, happy birthday to my cousin Erica, beable and to thebabynancy!
I went back to the drawing workshop this week, this time to draw. We had a surprise model — the intended model cancelled at the last minute, so sassy_red_head stepped up to the platform, first for a quick portrait when the model was just running late, then as the model of the night when the cancellation came through.
I started with a portrait of her face. When she goes into neutral model face, she really does look intimidating.
- Vivien's first tooth has surfaced! Left central lower incisor, for people keeping score at home. She's still teething-cranky, maybe because it isn't completely in, maybe because there are more coming, or both.
- I think we almost heard a giggle from her last night. Or a chortle. Or something. Close enough.
- Oscar has a new, bigger mattress, courtesy of Shawn who organizes Atelier Denu. He needed the space for books, and was giving it away. Oscar finds it bouncy and acceptable, and it fits in his room without too much furniture rearrangement.
- Oscar's old mattress has been installed in a toddler bed as a "sidecar" beside ours for Vivien. Now we have our bed to ourselves, sort of, and all Elizabeth or Vivien have to do is roll over for baby maintenance.
- We'll all have our first Rideau Canal experience of the year (and lifetime, for Vivien, and maybe Oscar's first one on skates) today, with my parents, my sister, her boyfriend, her boyfriend's parents, my cousin, my cousin-in-law and their son (whew, need a diagram?).
There were about half a dozen people drawing, which is a small crowd for Denu, probably due to the brutally cold weather. The platform had chairs on all sides, but people clustered up at and near the tables, putting them in something like a 120° arc. Shawn had given me a quick training on Monday and I'd tried a couple of timed poses to see what my legs were willing to do for me ahead of time, but I was planning on mostly making things up as I went along. In addition to the platform with its mat, pillows and sheet, there were easels, a ball, a broomstick and a little promotional beer pail at my disposal.
The poses started at two minutes, and worked their way up to seventeen. I did my best to vary facing and level, and mix props and propless poses. I think I got in a good variety, and managed to hold still even in ones that turned out to be physically difficult. It wasn't always obvious which ones would be: I did a supine pose with one arm off the platform that turned out to be quite tiring, and a long prone one, almost going-to-sleep, that had so many points of contact with myself that I felt like a big mess of pins and needles by the end. Climbing the easel, a big open pose with the broomstick, and some modified yoga poses were all easier than I'd thought they would be.
Mentally, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Once I was up there, I was thinking about position, stability, breath and keeping my focus on that bit of debris or architectural feature to keep my gaze and position stable, mixed in with wandering thoughts about life outside the studio. It was very much my yoga-space, as far as my thoughts were concerned, which shows both that I'm something of a technically-oriented yoga person (to the detriment of all the noble stuff my mind could be doing while in a pose), and that maybe the time and money I've spent on yoga classes can have tangible benefits — two modelling sessions would pay for one semester of weekly yoga at work! I think I felt most naked right after taking off my clothes, after that everything else was more pressing. It didn't hurt that the room was at a comfortable temperature, the doors were closed and the air was still.
It was also a notable night in that for the first time, we left both kids in the care of others. When we got back, Oscar was basically asleep: a little wibbly and fussy still, but in his room in the dark and easy to cover, calm and leave to doze off. Vivien was a bit distraught but happy to get Mama back, and Elizabeth's parents didn't seem particularly frazzled by two and a half hours of both kids. I think we all knew this was about what would happen, but it was still good to get the proof that Elizabeth and I can escape for a bit together. It took until eight months with Oscar for us to get a date in, so evidently we're something like 50% more confident by some measure this time around. A two and a half hour date isn't long, but not bad for parents with a baby who's still not into complementary foods.
I think I could definitely be a nude drawing model again. I didn't have any epiphanies or crises up there: it was a pretty relaxing and satisfying gig (although my muscles were a bit sore afterward). I'd recommend giving it a try to anyone considering it, and Denu feels like it might be a better-than-average place to give it a try.
This week, I'm looking forward to:
- Having lunch with one of my closest work friends tomorrow. I've seen her a couple of times lately with at least some of each of our kids in tow, and this time we'll have a little less stimulation and be able to talk in full sentences.
- Modelling in tomorrow's evening drawing workshop. This is also a little scary.
- This week's Parent and Child in Vanier — making little felt gnomes and hanging out with the parents, children and animators there. Oscar is getting playing with others a little better, and definitely knows how everything works. Even over the semester and a bit I've been doing it, he's grown a lot. The fact that he's only in P&C mode once a week, and that everyone else only sees him for those 2.5 hours a week, makes it easier to spot stuff like "gets the idea of fetching specific toys for specific activities" and "snacktime is soon" and "manages frustrations with peers with somewhat more patience and willingness to hand them something to make peace". It's also fun to be part of the little community of parents and keep my French up for sustained sessions.
- Hanging out and probable board game with fairestcat.
- Union-management meeting on Friday. Not always the most uplifting content, but it'll be nice to poke my head in at work and see people, and some people there may be the bearers of bad news but they're all decent people.
- A friend's housewarming on Saturday, and possible other supper plans.
- Family skating on the canal on Sunday — Vivien's first time out (probably in a stroller) and we may see how Oscar does on skates.
I once posed in various states of dress and undress for a friend's art project. I don't know if the project ever saw the light of day. It was photography of people in their clothes, her neutral-looking overalls, and naked, to investigate the role of clothing in identity if I remember right. My Google skills aren't turning anything up; I don't know if all those rolls of film even got developed (last time I asked, I don't think they had been). A couple of years ago, I looked into posing at the Ottawa School of Art, but there was lots of paperwork and it felt like they wanted you to prove that you were serious: I'm not particularly serious, just looking to try out modelling and see how it feels. I'm feeling this should be an interesting experience and a good match for that. Elizabeth has often remarked on my “shamelessness,” referring to a quality that should make me reasonably confident and natural at getting up in front of people without clothes, we'll see if it manifests on the 22nd.
Zucchini come in waves, especially given that we grow some and our CSA does too (not to self: more pumpkins and acorn squash next year, one zucchini hill, tops). It is nice that these loaves work fine with frozen shredded zucchini, too. Elizabeth makes these more than I do, but we both enjoy them, as does my friend's mum, Anjuu, who is providing the impetus to get the recipe shared. The recipe is adapted from the Bon Appetit Cook Book (Fairchild, 2006), which is a massive tome similar to the Joy of Cooking, but a little fancier in general. These loaves have a nice light inside and a toothy crust.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two loaf pans.
- 1 cup
- whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups
- unbleached white flour
- 1 teaspoon
- 1 teaspoon
- ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon
- baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon
- baking powder
- large eggs
- 1½ cups
- brown sugar or white sugar (both variations are tasty)
- 1 cup
- canola oil
- 1 teaspoon
- vanilla extract
- 2 cups
- coarsely grated zucchini (about one zucchini caught before it gets unwieldy)
- 1 cup
- chopped and toasted walnuts
Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
Beat eggs in a separate bowl until foamy, then gradually add sugar and keep mixing until well mixed and thick.
Beat in oil gradually, then vanilla.
Stir in mixed dry ingredients, bit by bit.
Fold in zucchini.
Fold in walnuts.
Pour into pans. Bake about 90 minutes, until knife in centre comes out clean.
Let cool in pan; we just serve from the loaf pans.
These loaves stay moist for a day or two in the bread box, and can be frozen.
Cross-posted to omnomnom, my journal.