Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flower arranging and undies

What a year for roses. Some of my newest additions (four years old maybe?) have this year taken off, along with the rest of the rose population.
Also pictured is a jug of feverfew. I bought this jug at a charity shop. It's my favorite flower receptacle. I even have a painting of it hung on my stairway.
I painted it also about four years ago (didn't sign or date it, though).

I made some underwear for Franklin out of an old pair of pajama bottoms and elastic (saved from when Partner threw out a bunch of holey old underwear). I simply cut a chunk of pajama leg off, cut out a crotch at the bottom and sewed a little strip into it (to make it more form-fitting), and sewed an elastic band around the waist. Simple. I didn't bother hemming them--the material is jersey, so it won't fray. I've made six pairs, but I know he needs at least twice that amount.

We've left behind his cloth diapers and are going into full-time undie usage. For the past two days, this has meant a lot of wet undies.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vegetables! And flowers!

Partner, who is President of Grocery Shopping in our house, is under orders from the Supreme Dictator of Gardening (that would be me) not to buy any more vegetables, indefinitely. Our first crop was (not counting our 12 spears of asparagus) arugula, followed closely by rainbow chard. Now carrots emerge as the front-runners, with cabbage, beans, and zuccini close behind. I love this time of year; my taste buds (and bank account!) love it too.

This year also is fantastic for flowers, especially cut flowers. I adore picking my own bouquets; two years ago I set myself a goal of picking a new bouquet of my own flowers once a week for the whole summer. I managed to succeed for the most part. I don't think I'd be too ambitious setting myself the same goal this summer.

I started saving eggshells this winter/spring to crush and put around slug-vulnerable plants. Then I stopped because I thought they weren't having an effect. Partner pointed out the one cabbage which had eggshells surrounding it looked at least half as holey as the non-shelled ones a month later, so we began saving again. In fact, I've been collecting them from work--we use a lot of eggs at work--and I hope to see less damage in the coming months.

Undaunted by the ground resistance however, are the new caterpillar attacks. I think I need some sort of anti-aircraft defenses to keep these at bay. As it stands, my gardening gloves once again turn green and slimy with each day's encounters (ewww).

Monday, June 13, 2011

The sling, ex-stroller, de-stereotyping

Here's the best self-portrait I could manage of my new sling, taken in our spacious bathroom. Franklin likes riding both in front and on my back. On my front gives me more back support, but on my back leaves my hands free. So I'm not sure which I prefer, either.

Our stroller was damaged beyond repair during our stay in Belgium. Luckily I'd brought said sling, or our journey home might have been a lot more difficult. As it was, I had to mail a 4kg package of my own things to our house, and I left pretty much all of Franklin's clothing behind (of my own clothing I only had two shirts and some underwear and socks). The heaviest thing on the jounrney was the food bag which got lighter and lighter during the day, though by about 8pm I was wishing it was still heavy! We left Oostende at about 12pm and got to my inlaws' house in London at about 10pm. Long trip, especially with a baby on my front, a backpack on my back, and a bag on my arm.

I managed to have something like a conversation in French while waiting for our train in Lille. We sat down next to another mother with an older baby and after conveying the second of two sentences I know in French: "I do not speak French" (the first is "do you speak English?"), we proceeded to discuss our children. We told each other how old ours were, she admired Franklin's walking, I admired her child's crawling; I asked his name--not sure if it was a French name or a Muslim name, but phoenetically it sounded like Yunis--and also asked if he slept well (apparently not).

I believe it is the stereotype that the French are rude and xenophobic. Partner says that's more confined to Parisians, and I've never been to Paris so I couldn't say. However, all the French people I dealt with on our holiday were very friendly and helpful. I didn't meet anyone rude or have any bad experiences; I think people are the same everywhere, really. I'm glad I was able to do this trip on my own and broaden my horizons a bit.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Holiday in Europe

This week I accomplished a super-mama feat: I traveled to a different country with a 15-month-old and no one else. Franklin and I (Partner stayed home and worked) took a train to Lille, France, then another train to Kortrijk, Belgium, and then a third train to Oostende, Belgium, where we met up with my father for four days of vacation.

Believe me, it's not easy taking an active toddler and his stroller across three different countries: for one thing, all of the trains had at least two or three steps to climb in order to board. I had to ask for help getting the stroller up each one: "excusez-moi" followed by a lot of pointing and gesturing. It was even worse in Dutch-speaking Belgium: even though Dutch is similar to English, and I can get the gist of the meaning if I listen hard to it, I don't know any words except thank you: "dank u." At least in French I know some basic phrases and words. Every person I approached with "Bonjour. Parlez-vous anglais?" replied with the affirmative. In fact, the only person I didn't say that to and just used my labored French upon, at the ticket office at the Lille rail station, immediately started speaking to me in English anyway--I guess I offended her ears with my appalling accent!

Though I did not know much about Belgium before actually visiting there (the first time 3 years ago, again to meet my father), I think it's a lovely country. Some of my impressions of Oostende, which is on the sea:
  • It's full of old people. It reminded me of Victorian novels when the aged were prescribed "sea air" by doctors to make them live longer. I saw a lot of wheelchairs pushed about.
  • It's full of bicycles. Many ridden by elderly people.
  • It's full of small dogs. As in toy-sized small dogs. I've never seen so many little yappers in one place. I even saw one old couple pushing their diminutive canine in a baby stroller.
The sea was wonderfully warm--if only I'd brought my swimming suit. Franklin loved it when he was fully clothed (and soaking wet; every time I tried to get the camera out, he dashed back into the waves), but thought it the worst thing ever when I took his clothes off; he didn't even want to dip his toes in. He liked walking on the warm dry sand with those tootsies, though.