Elizabeth is nineteen months old!
Elizabeth loves to draw. She's pretty good about colouring only on paper, but if we aren't paying attention she sometimes scribbles on paper that we didn't intend her to use. Like Grandma H's pension form. Or Mommy and Auntie Janice's quilting patterns. I gave away reams of paper a few years after I graduated from university, because clearly I wasn't going to NEED paper anymore. Now I think we may need to buy stock in a paper company.
Frequently Elizabeth demands that Mommy or Daddy draw pictures for her. Dogs, cats, cars, polar bears, trains... She adds water and grass under the various animals I draw and has started to tell me about what she is drawing. I've uploaded an example, along with her captions. Interestingly, she is very keen on drawing birds ("tweet, tweet, tweet"). Mostly very small birds, but the odd large one. She's also very keen on using many, many different colours. Especially the darker ones.
She's talking a lot more, and while we don't always understand what she says, she often can make herself understood just based on intonation. We're actually able to have basic conversations, which is pretty exciting. Her favourite word is probably "yeah", not counting "mum mum". The "yeahs" are completely adorable. She says them in such a little voice but SO expressively. Visitors are also quite shocked to her her say please and thank you. We've been working on this and so far she is doing very well.
With the days getting shorter, she's noticed that the sun disappears earlier. "Sun? Sun? SUN?" she worried tonight when she was heading to bed (ie where did the sun go??) I told her that the sun had gone to bed. "Yeah" she said. "All gone?" she then asked. "Yes", I said. "Oh", said Elizabeth. "Bye bye".
She's very keen on doing what Mommy and Daddy are doing. She helps wash dishes after nearly every meal, helps set the table and loves to do as much cooking as we allow. She especially loves to crack open eggs. She's much better at dressing herself and can even take her shoes off by herself. After she gets dressed she always goes to admire herself in the mirror to see if she's "cute". She's also started to pretend things. She pretends to take naps, pretends to feeds her stuffed animals and crawls around the kitchen pretending she's a baby.
She goes up and down stairs by herself. Distressingly, she's started going down the stairs standing up. By herself. (Eek!) She is very well behaved most of the time though. If I ask her to sit somewhere, she usually will until I tell her that she can get up.
If she gets hurt, kisses make everything better. She usually insists on kisses from both Mommy and Daddy, and Auntie Janice too if she's home. Right now she has a tiny scratch on one knee, and we've learned that she needs to wear pants or leotards until that heals because otherwise she demands kisses everytime she sees her "boo boo".
I've been tripping over a lot of commentary recently about the expense of raising children, and honestly I have to wonder what on earth some of these so-called experts are buying for their kids. Apparently having children is "one of the most underestimated expenses for couples". Most people spend more than $10,000 during their child's first year, not including daycare, and the experts expect the final bill to average out at $166,549.
As it happens, I was brought up to keep track of my expenses and can quite easily tell you what we've spent so far. Several thousand dollars of our expenses for Elizabeth would definitely fall into the "frivolous" category, such as baby sensory classes, museum subscription, books, art supplies and her playstructure. Despite our best efforts, we still are nowhere near the $10K figure.
Elizabeth's first year? $2460. To date at nineteen months? $5111.
Diapers (both cloth diapers and some disposables that we bought while waiting for Elizabeth to grow into the cloth ones)
Thank you cards
Vitamin D drops
Stroller + infant car seat
2nd stage Car seat
Breast Pump rental
Birth certificate registration
Bottles and sippy cups
Booster seat / highchair
Baby wipes, baby shampoo, nasal bulb, Qtips etc
"Labour kit" items (including a hairdryer)
Clothing (although granted we've been blessed with many gifts and hand-me-downs)
Camping mat for Elizabeth
Baby sensory classes
A two-year subscription to the Museum of Science and Tech / Aviation and Space / Agriculture
And the big ticket item, costing well over half our total spending on Elizabeth: the cedar playstructure extension to our deck and playhouse underneath.
We get a bit closer ($5512 for the first year, $8163 at nineteen months) if you consider that our grocery bill for the year increased $2000 as compared to our five-year average, our electric bill was up $821 and our water bill was up $231. We did keep our house warmer and do a lot more laundry. But the cost of electricity and water also went up very significantly, the number of other people living here increased and we entertained quite a lot more so it's hard to say how much of that is directly attributable to Elizabeth.
We've been very lucky not to have had to purchase many clothes for Elizabeth, but even if we had purchased all her clothing I don't think that's the difference.
Is breastfeeding, cloth diapering and avoiding commercial baby food THAT much cheaper?
Great Aunt Mary took Uncle Dave, Auntie Karen, Auntie Janice, Elizabeth, Brendan and I out to lunch at the Works today (are we spoiled or what!).
We all ordered Elk burgers. Elizabeth even ate some, albeit well-disguised by Auntie Janice in between bits of bun. We joke that Elizabeth is a vegetarian that eats eggs and (sometimes) bacon, so any kind of meat is somewhat unusual.
We had to wait a pretty long time but it didn't matter too much because we had such good company. Elizabeth was charmed by the milkshakes in containers bigger than her head, not to mention Great Aunt Mary's banana split which she insisted on sharing. Luckily Mary was happy to oblige!
Great-Aunt Mary visited for a couple of days while enroute from Pangnirtung to Russia this weekend.
While she was here, we decided to visit the National Art Gallery since it's on my list of museums to visit for my New Year's resolution and she couldn't remember having been there before. I know I've been once before with my mother-in-law, but it was so long ago that I don't remember any of the details and the building didn't seem at all familiar.
It's a very beautiful building, with lots of places to sit and contemplate. The hushed atmosphere and the many many things that shouldn't be touched mean this is not the easiest museum to visit with an active toddler, but Elizabeth was very well behaved. They do have a couple of different children's programs but they are meant for children who are at least three years old. Over the course of a few hours Elizabeth, Great-Aunt Mary and I saw pretty much everything there was to see, missing only the Rideau Chapel (somehow we walked past the entrance!)
We went with some specific goals in mind. Mary wanted to admire as much Group of Seven as possible; we both wanted a glimpse of the (in)famous "Voice of Fire" and I was kind of hoping to see Ron Mueck's giant baby ("A Girl") that caused a stir in Ottawa a few years ago.
The Group of Seven collection was wonderful, as expected. Elizabeth was mostly interested in anything that had pictures of dogs ("Bow wow wow!") or babies. Otherwise she went running from chair to chair to chair, but only in those rooms where the art was hung high enough that I figured she wouldn't be able to reach. Just in case!
We also really enjoyed the Inuit art. When we checked the artist name for the first piece we saw, Mary discovered that he was from Pangnitung too and so she knew who he was! One of my favourite pieces is on exhibit in this section - Nunali by Jackoposie Oopakak is a stunning piece of carving out of caribou antlers. I figure this sculpture was worth the price of admission alone, but if you can't get to the museum there's a picture behind the link.
We did get to see the Voice of Fire but neither of us were terribly impressed. $1.8 million may be "a bargain" for art but Mary is sure she could paint something just as good with a bit of painter's tape, and I'm sure that many of Elizabeth's creations would not look out of place hanging on the walls in that part of the museum. Maybe she's going to make us rich!
There were a few "modern" pieces that we thought would be very interesting wallpaper or quilts. The random snowshovel may get people talking, but we remain of the opinion that hanging random objects on the wall does not magically transform it into art. Mary didn't think much of the HIV pill work either, although we both liked the collection of vertical grid of barbed wire that looked like it was floating and the glowing glass/crystal/wire chandelier sculpture suspended over a mirrored floor covered in mirrors.
Sadly, I didn't get to see my giant baby. The contemporary art is apparently "refreshed" every three to six months and the sculpture is currently out on tour.
That evening, we went out for dinner at the Foolish Chicken. Elizabeth didn't eat much but she did impress with her best "restaurant" manners.
Uncle Dave, Auntie Karen and Auntie Janice came over for a "welcome fall" harvest party today.
Elizabeth was pretty excited about the squash. Mommy was too, so she was disappointed to discover that the carnival squash was completely inedible. Luckily none of the guests got a mouthful of the bitter!
Uncle Dave had way too much fun playing "peekboo" with Elizabeth. He even let her run around outside in nothing but her leotards (no shoes!)