Friday, 13 August 2010

Asking for the moon.

Sadly for quite a lot of this summer P has been under the weather with one thing or another. This, we are assured by the doctor, is simply a result of his having started nursery after Easter and will eventually give him the constitution of an ox. In the meantime, however, we have been treated to long stretches of sleepless nights, rivers of snot, and the occasional torrent of vomit.

The most recent lurgy to assail him took the form of some sort of flu-like bug, which gave him a raging temperature and completely took away his appetite, to the extent that he wouldn't even eat bananas, previously his all-time favourite food.* After about four days in which he ate half a yoghurt and virtually nothing else, I discovered he could be persuaded to nibble on a dry biscuit and decided any nourishment was better than none.

This proved to be my undoing: as a result he appears to have developed an addiction to "Moon biscuits" and to believe, now that he is well again, that he should be able to have as many as he likes. Consequently he now spends large portions of each day clinging to the side of the fridge, looking hopefully at the top, where he knows the biscuits reside, and shouting. Refusal to give in and let him have one** results in anguished howling, sobbing, and theatrical displays of despair/apparently fainting from hunger owing to the cruelty of his heartless parents. This all miraculously stops of course as soon as he actually gets a biscuit, the receipt of which is greeted with a cheerful (and slightly self-satisfied) "ta!" before he beetles off nomming happily, not infrequently with the whole crescent-shaped thing wedged sideways in his mouth.

Thus far "ta" and "hiya" seem to be about the only recognizable words in P's vocabulary (and ones which he must presumably have learned at nursery), though he's getting pretty close with lots of others. Indeed, not infrequently he does manage to say something quite clearly, but he's not very reliable and can seldom be persuaded to do it again, especially in company. Last week he seemed to be practising the letter B and, after a fair amount of coaxing, managed to say "bird", "bubble", "banana" and of course "biscuit",*** but the minute I proudly relayed this information to anyone, he stopped. This week seems to be being brought to us by the letter M, so all the bubbles have mysteriously become mumles instead.

In the absence of comprehensible vocabulary we have been trying to teach him to imitate animals and make the appropriate noise for the appropriate critter. After much quacking, clucking, miaowing, and barking, he finally pointed at a picture of a duck in his book of animals and, in reply to the question "What noise does the duck make?" said "'Ack".

His proud parents were thrilled with this, until we discovered that according to P, dogs, cats, all birds, some sheep, and in one case a hippopotamus all also say "quack". Every encounter with a cat or dog in the street is now accompanied by pointing and a volley of frantic quacking.

The only animals, it appears, that do not say "ack", are bees. These he knows say bzzzzzzzz (or in P's version bvvvvvvv). Even this achievement, however, has been slightly tempered by the possibility of misunderstanding. The other day I realised whilst giving him his lunch that he was buzzing as he normally does when he sees a bee. Looking about to see if one had got into the house I drew a blank, but finally realised that what he was actually doing was buzzing every time I said to him "Eat your beans", raising the interesting possibility, not only that he thinks we've been feeding him bees on toast, but also that he considers the lavender hedge to be infested by bumble-beans.

* Indeed he pretty much mugged an old lady for hers at Blenheim Palace the week before and had to be carried off kicking and screaming.

** On the flimsy grounds, for instance, that it's 8am, he's only been up for 20 minutes and we're just about to have breakfast.

*** Oh, and (owing to me dropping a tin on my foot) "bollocks", which needless to say was the only word he imitated spontaneously without hours of repetition.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Little ?Boy Blue

Back in the spring, when P was still fairly little, and the weather was gradually getting warmer, but not that warm yet, I started a basic blue top-down raglan cardigan in baby bamboo, intending to have it finished in a couple of weeks so that P would have something to wear over a t-shirt. The knitting part of it was fairly straightforward and I made reasonable progress, until that is I hit the button bands. Try as I might they came out looking wibbly, curly, and insubstantial and I decided I didn't like them at all. So, after some degree of fiddling, I finally hit on the idea of copying the neckband from the Tangled Yoke cardigan, by knitting them double width and then folding them over with a three-needle bind-off. I could then sew on a zip and have neat, zip-fastened cardigan. I even got as far as buying the zip, and all that remained was to block it and do the sewing.

However, things in our house being what they are these days, blocking is not as easy as it once was. For a start there's the problem of finding enough free and uninterrupted time to wash and pin out a garment. Secondly there's the small matter of finding somewhere to put it to dry where small hands (or feet) can't get at the pins. So, as usual it remained in the cupboard and every week I promised myself 'I really will find time to block it this weekend'. Last weekend I got it out and looked at it and realised that it's never going to fit P now, or at least (even if it stretches when blocked) not for more than a couple of weeks.

However, all is not lost, since somewhat to our surprise, it appears that the cardigan may have another taker before too long (some time around the end of January in fact - though presumably it will be a little while before it actually fits him/her*). I guess I better get round to blocking it before then, though, since it seems doubly unlikely I'll have chance afterwards!

*At least I damn well hope so given it was meant to fit a 10-12 month-old!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Has beans.

We finally have lovely purple "Blauhilde" beans on the allotment. No idea what they taste like, but they look lovely.

As a result of last week's mixture of sunshine and showers we also have courgettes - rather a lot of them -

and (owing to a bumper crop of blackfly on the broad beans) ladybirds.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Learning Curve.

This week P has finally mastered the art of catching fish with the little wooden fishing rod in the magnetic fishing game his grandparents gave him. This produced rapturous applause from both his doting parents, and he now spends every spare minute picking up the fish (and occasional other metallic objects) one by one with the magnet on the end of the string and then clapping himself.

Unfortunately, however, not all his new skills are quite so entertaining, at least for us.

Last week he learned to climb the stairs. After weeks of only wanting to walk up them like an adult (and hence trying to raise his foot nearly to shoulder height trying to get it onto the next step) he suddenly realised he could crawl up them, and that was that. Unfortunately his approach to getting down again is still to walk blithely off the top and hope for the best, so this new discovery means ever greater vigilance on our parts, to make sure he doesn't get the opportunity.

This week he learned to climb other things. Primarily the changing box in the bathroom (from which he seems to think he can get onto the toilet lid and hence probably out of the window), and our bed. The latter wouldn't be too much of a problem if it wasn't for the fact that, once there, he has learned to stand up and bounce up and down on the mattress - a fine game until he bounces off the end and onto the floor head-first.

And then, to cap it all he has learned how to turn switches on and off. Mostly off. Mostly the switch on the socket where I have the hoover plugged in when I am using it. Apparently nothing is as hilarious as watching me sprint from one end of the room to the other and frantically try to hoover a couple of inches of floor before the thing dies again. Hours of fun!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Hanging about.

After a year of having this lovely swing (given to P by my sister) and lamenting the fact that we didn't have a tree in the back garden to hang it from, we suddenly twigged (if you'll pardon the pun) this week that there is the perfect tree right opposite the front door.

Problem solved!

Orange Squash (FO)

About 200 years ago I accepted a small commission from my sister to knit a pumpkin-shaped hat for the offspring of a friend of hers, expected this summer. I don't usually agree to commissions, but this seemed like such a dinky little project that I thought it would be the work of but a moment.

However, what with one thing and another there hasn't been much time for knitting in the evenings recently (one thing being that, now I'm back at work, as soon as P is in bed C and I have a list of chores as long as your arm to get through in preparation for the next day, and the other being that P's erratic sleeping means that, once we finally get to sit down, I can only keep my eyes open for about 10 minutes). So the hat became my train-knitting project, and given that I only commute into work two days a week now, and the commute is barely 15 minutes long, it managed to take me almost a month to complete.

However, completed it finally is, and only awaiting the addition of some matching booties, which no doubt will take me just as long.

In spite of its slow germination, this squash is doing rather better than any of my others this year. In a fit of optimism I bought a packet of six varieties of edible and ornamental squash with the intention of letting them roam free on the allotment and fill up otherwise empty space (being in Geneva during key sowing time has meant that we are a bit depleted on the veg front this year). I planted one of each sort, confident that they grow quickly and take up a lot of space. Only three of them germinated and two of those were immediately demolished by slugs the minute I put them outside to harden off. The remaining plant (and of course I have no idea which sort it is - no doubt the dullest, ugliest, and most inedible of the selection) is now cowering sadly in the end of a raised bed, looking distinctly as though it is thinking of throwing in the towel and following its compatriots to the great vegetable garden in the sky.

But despite this, and the patchiness of the potatoes (which couldn't be planted until we got back from Geneva and, as a result, were the dregs of the garden centre remaindered bucket), and despite the fact that the current warm weather requires us to carry something between a quarter and half a metric tonne of water almost every night, the allotment is redeeming itself for us at the moment by supplying us with about half a punnet of fresh strawberries every day or two, and the promise of broad beans in a week or so. And there's something very pleasing about wandering back from the allotment in the evening sun with P toddling alongside munching on homegrown strawberries and happily turning his clothes a soggy shade of pink.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Full circle.

Well, as ever, it has been some time since my last post, and many things have happened in the meantime, most of which I vowed to chronicle on here, some of which even made it as far as my ever growing collection of half-written draft posts, but none of which actually made it as far as getting published. Such is life these days.

First there was Christmas, when P discovered the delights of wrapping-paper

encountered his first snow

and received the traditional present of two front teeth. These chose New Year's Eve to make their entrance, so everyone saw the dawn on the first day of 2010, though not for the reasons we might have hoped.

And then, suddenly, it was the end of January and we were packing up the car ready to move to Geneva for two months while C applied himself in person to bringing about the end of the world.

Over the years I've visited Geneva a fair few times and always found it to be a very pleasant place, if a trifle pricey, so the idea of living there for a little while was not unappealing. Unfortunately however, all my visits had been in the summer months, whereas we were to be there in February and March, and I soon realised that I had rather unrealistic expectations of life at that time of year. I had pictured us strolling by the lake and walking in the botanical gardens or playing in the park. But while it is certainly possible to stroll by Lac Leman in February, the wind makes it really rather obvious that there's not much between you and the Alps. And that's when it's not raining.

We did, of course, have a few nice days (especially towards the end of the stay), and a few trips out and about, all of which I singularly failed to post about. There was a little jaunt to Nyon on the lake (admittedly slightly spoiled by the fact that C left the changing bag on the train in the morning and so a substantial proportion of the day was spent in a large supermarket trying to replace all the things that we needed from it).*

There was a much more successful trip to Lausanne, an amazing place built on slopes so precipitous that you occasionally have the impression of walking through an M.C. Escher drawing (this did rather give me palpitations when pushing P about in the pram in case either of us tripped up and let go!).

And there was a ride on the Télépherique du Saleve which, though really rather chilly at the top (and a week too early in the season for the cafe to be open) gave us the chance to see a great many mad people throwing themselves off the side of a sheer cliff, which was distinctly entertaining.

On the whole however, while C was off doing exciting physics, P and I spent rather more time than either of us really liked sitting in our apartment in a 60s concrete tower-block watching the rain/sleet/snow on the windows. However, this gave P plenty of time to practice getting about the place.

So, while we arrived with a baby who could sit up and shuffle a few feet if he really put his mind to it, we left with a crawling, cruising toddler with a fascination for opening cupboards and drawers and a pathological dislike of finding them full of neatly stacked or folded things.

This transformation was accelerated by the fact that the furniture in the Geneva flat was the perfect height and layout to encourage cruising. By the end of the first week he was shuffling up and down one side of the coffee table. A week later he'd gained enough confidence to make it across to the sofa, and by the middle of the stay I heard someone knocking on the front door and came out of the kitchen to find that it was P, who had made his way round the table, down one sofa, then down the other, along the arm, across the wall, and was trying to escape.

Finally, about a week before we left it suddenly seemed to occur to him that if he actually applied himself to mastering this crawling business he would be able to get to the furniture in order to pull himself up and walk. And that was the end of any sort of peace and quiet in our house.

As a result, the trip back from Geneva was a rather different kettle of fish to the trip out. When we stopped in Dijon overnight and tried to take P to the hotel restaurant for dinner, we were somewhat dismayed to find a distinctly posh-looking establishment, sporting long, crisp, cream, cotton tablecloths, and silver cutlery. Confronted with such an exciting environment and not content with merely smearing as much food as possible all over us and the table, P set out to terrorize the other diners as well, crawling under the tables to grab their ankles, trying to walk from table to table by holding onto the aforementioned tablecloths, and endeavouring to scale the stems of the wine coolers. Eventually we bolted our dinner and took him back upstairs to eat fruit sitting on the floor of the ensuite bathroom - that being the only place he could make as much mess as he liked with impunity.

Arriving home was similarly something of a culture shock. P's newly acquired mobility, and a penchant for opening any accessible cupboard and carrying off the contents as booty**, meant that we spent the first two or three weeks hastily removing or hiding electrical cables, reorganizing drawers, and fitting stairgates and cupboard locks.

But before long we got used to the new reality and learned not to leave anything important (or wet) on any surface lower than three feet, even if we did eventually end up replacing half the furniture so as to be able to put things like the TV and stereo out of reach. And now we suddenly find we've come full circle. In the last few weeks P has had his first birthday and started going to nursery, and I have started back at work where I am frantically trying to clear the cobwebs off my brain with so far only limited success.

And once again I find myself vowing to return to blogging on a more regular basis though since the new reality is even more hectic than the old one, we shall see!

* I tend to find it does not bode well for a visit to somewhere if the first words spoken on arrival are "oh, shit!"
** During the first week home, I was presented with a constant stream of objects abstracted from forgotten drawers and cupboards around the house. A single day's haul consisted of a novelty rugby ball, a green yoyo with an exceptionally long string, some worry beads, a raw onion, and a (mercifully unopened) packet of hayfever tablets, all (apart, I hope, from the onion) snaffled from his father's bedside cabinet.