This weekend the_arachne got married to her fiancé (no username :) ), and they had a photographer taking shots of volunteers after dinner. It was a rare opportunity for a family portrait!
It's been kind of insanely busy lately — Elizabeth's album finished, the launch shows performed, the wedding of last weekend (at which Oscar and Elizabeth both got named parts, and I wrecked my pants, first stooping for Vivien and then dancing), a promotion process at work (my interview shirt = my wedding shirt), and a research project that can be describes mostly positively as tilting at windmills, and fun to work on but challenging. I also assembled a team and applied for some research days at work, which would be a cool opportunity to manage something and fix a problem I find cool. Now I still have things to do, but applications are with committees, most of the album-related stuff is done, and Elizabeth and I are casting about for bits of relaxing time for us to celebrate and recuperate.
Also, I managed to beat the top-ranked player at Scrabble yesterday — most memorable plays were "WEES" (I wasn't sure it took an "S") and "MATUREd" across a triple and emptying my rack.
ETA: Our dishwasher is also working thanks to some help from dianora, and I replaced our toilet flapper (I think the term "univesal flapper" has a nice ring to it). Yay, fixed things!
Here are a couple of photos of Oscar and Vivien:
( indoors and outdoors )
In other news, this week has been insane. Elizabeth has been mixing her album, I did an exam in our promotion process, and Saturday was full of busy with people dropping by and me biking out to Aylmer on a super-secret present-hunting mission. I think the exam went okay (but I'm not dead certain that I'll make it to the interview), the album is over at the mastering company, and I succeeded in getting the birthday present. Elizabeth lost her wallet coming home from finishing mixing, though, so she's not quite out of the woods yet. I've been working on the booklet to go with the album, which feels like it's going well. A few fill-in-the-blanks in the credits and front page, and some swaps of pictures into layouts already done, and it should be ready for the printers!
Our pear tree has been very fruitful:
( a modest portion of our bountiful pear harvest )
...but I think it's done for the year. The kids really like pears, so it's contributed to our very limited use of the produce section during the warm months.
In the no-deadline parts of the list, we increased doctor coverage from zero of us to Vivien, and maybe Oscar in the fall. I started a new position, for which I'm learning a bunch of stuff and alternating between feeling competent and feeling like I just opened an overstuffed closet and the top shelf fell on me. My aches and pains had a good go at me in the spring, but I think I'm done with sciatica for a while and feeling generally as good as I was at last list time. In improving the house, we got a dishwasher, which might count, and I fixed the back stairs last week — their surprise collapse would've been hard on the comfort of whoever was on them at the time. The kids are gaining competence at a frightening pace and Oscar declared he wanted hugs and fire for his birthday party, so we're doing something right even as I feel I could use more patience and humour sometimes.
Here's what I would like to achieve in the next year:
- Keep up the flossing.
- Communicate better in relationships.
- Continue to wear through massage bars.
- Make the house cheaper to heat, either with insulation or a heating system upgrade, or both.
- Getting a GP and a checkup/vaccination update might be a tall order, but I will attempt to start allergy shots so I'm popping fewer antihistamines next summer. If I can do allergies and deferred maintenance, all the better.
- Somehow fix the Wike's stroller mode. As it is, the walking wheel doesn't hold up under our frequent use — three bolts to one frame member is no match for the leverage exerted by bumps and curbs.
- Give the promotion process this fall my best shot, and accept whatever comes of it gracefully.
- Reach out to a few more people at work in the hope of developing a new friendship or two.
Here are some longer-term things:
- Round out home heating improvements and make the kitchen suit us better.
- Raise competent, well-adjusted kids. Do so with good humour, love and trust in them.
- Take care of my body and try and make my list of aches and pains not increase monotonically.
- Get family doctors for all of us in the household.
- Continue to like my job, be good at it, and be worthy of the respect of my co-workers.
- Keep learning new things, and consolidate dabbling into competent in new areas from time to time.
I hope I'll do at least as well between now and next birthday as I did in the last year or so.
- Vivien turned one, and then took her first steps on the pine forest floor the next day.
- I swam in the pond every full day we were there.
- I won the "Wooden Chef" contest by acclamation with my green pepper stuffed with camp leftovers and raspberry-beer sauce — I guess everyone else was busy or had insufficient stuff in their coolers by Sunday night. This means I get to judge next year!
Vivien can balance on things and Oscar can happily cope with her in his personal space (if he's having fun):
( Three more )
I'm on vacation starting today for a week and a half; we have lots planned: camping, helping friends, seeing people, taking care of kids, vaccinations for Vivien, and if all goes well some relaxation, re-connecting and recharging. I feel like I left work in pretty good shape; they'll survive without me but likely appreciate the things I got done. Life is exhausting and kind of exciting these days, even if it's objectively full of mundane.
Vivien's has been getting mobility figured out the last couple of weeks — she's crawling around, pulling herself up on the furniture and twisting around during diaper changes. Oscar's language is getting more sophisticated — switching around "you" and "I" as appropriate, for instance. He's still not easy to get to bed, though.
We've had pretty busy weekends since I got back to work. Elizabeth was playing some music at Umi the first weekend, we went to help out at Raven's Knoll the second (and just missed police checkpoints in Eganville, apparently). Last weekend, my parents took a day trip up to visit us on Sunday, and this weekend we went to the Great Glebe Garage Sale, the catch-up potluck at the birthing centre, and the Ravenswing DIY/Craft/etc. fair. We've gotten out to various things during the week, too. I'm feeling quite tired, for some reason.
Friday, Elizabeth's parents are taking both kids, and we get our first actually kid-free date since Vivien was born, for our fifth anniversary. I'm looking forward to it; I hope we're well-rested enough to enjoy it!
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.