I’m being very quiet these days, because I’m exhausted.
I remember this. It’s what the beginning of fibro felt like. The kind of zoning out, the physical exhaustion, the inability to hold a thought in my head past a certain period of time. I’m irritable as a result of all of this. I have a constant low-grade headache, and my body is starting to hurt again. I’m not sure how to relax, because a lot of my time is just spent sitting there, trying to interact with my children or fold laundry, and not getting very far. I’ve forgotten how to enjoy myself again, because it’s kind of a weary triumph when I just get through doing the regular stuff. I wonder if I need to try to start the “yay me I accomplished these things today” posts again. It would serve to get me journaling more often, and to show me that I am accomplishing things, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I need to consciously start implementing my fibro-coping mechanisms again, starting with my expectations and limits for my daily activity.
I’ve had time off from work, thank goodness. After a crazy few months, I’ve had a couple of weeks of evenings and naps to myself, and I’m so grateful. I don’t know how I’d handle it otherwise.
I’m reading a bit every day, which is nice. I’m almost finished Guy Gavriel Kay’s new River of Stars, and as usual, I don’t know how I feel about it. Kay has vaguely frustrated me a bit over the past few books for reasons I can’t pinpoint, and every time I read one I decide it will be my last… then every time I read an excerpt of the next one and the poetic prose just sucks me in. I disliked the Sarantine Mosaic duology when it came out, but now I think it’s my favourite of all his works. Funny how one’s opinions change.
I’m sending a box of handmade projects to a swap partner from my mums’ group today, and working on that has been lovely. I can’t say any more than that until she’s received it, but I pushed some of my boundaries and skills making the items, and explored new techniques, and I’m pleased with it. Even with the last-minute wibbling about one project, redoing it, and deciding in the end to send the first version after all.
I finally got around to making an appointment to drop in at the local spinning and weaving studio that’s been open for over two years, and it was glorious. Oh my goodness, I will never have to shop online again! There were shelves and shelves of silks, cottons, flax, wools of all sorts, and luxury fibres like yak, camel, and alpaca, which I’d never touched on their own, only as blends. She has two full-size floor looms set up, six wheels, and lots of swifts and rigid heddle looms and carders all over the place. There were cones and cones of cones of weaving yarn, dyes, spindles… I wanted to move in. I could have easily spent so much more than I did. She was so patient with Owlet, too, who wanted to touch all the things. Especially the packets of ginned and dyed cotton that she kept picking up and squishing, saying “skish, skish,” and the huge skeins of handspun she picked up and cuddled, saying “soft, soft.”
We actually had to go two days in a row, because I’d forgotten to take money out of the bank to pay for my order the first day, so we went back. Owlet stopped at every dandelion plant along the sidewalk and yanked off the flower tops, then gave them all to the woman who runs the studio. And she told me she hosts a spin-in once a month on a Sunday, and invited me! Unfortunately, the next one isn on a group cello class day, so I’ll have to wait for the next one.
Owlet is great, Sparky is great (he has a school concert tomorrow afternoon, and I hope everything works out; HRH’s parents are coming to stay with Owlet so I can attend, and then I think there should be a Mama-Sparky treat afterward), I have a new-to-me spinning upright wheel that was a crazy good deal (thank you, enormous tax refund allowing me to give myself a little treat amid paying debts) and HRH has a new-to-him iPhone that we’re trying to set up (ditto the treat, but grr, technology and things not talking to other things). We are a single-cat household for the first time in… well, ever, actually, since I had to take Cricket in to the vet to be euthanised two weeks ago. She’d stopped eating and drinking, and you could almost see through her; it was just time.
That’s about it. Trudging along.
Now that the weather’s nice, we get multiple requests for “Ousside? Ousside?” each day. When we are ousside, she mucks about in the dirt of the garden, inspects every flower (or “flowerfly,” if you are Owlet), giggles on the swing till she hiccoughs, picks up rocks and carries them to new places, and picks up as many sticks as she can till her hands are full. And then she stands and stares at the ones in her hands, wondering what to do with them, because there’s another stick on the ground, right there, and if she lets go of the bouquet of sticks with one hand to reach for it the ones she’s holding will fall, and that will be a crisis of unimaginable proportion.
She adores pine cones, dandelions, standing on manhole covers and crouching down to poke her fingers in the grooves and holes, and stopping to talk to random people on the sidewalk. One of her latest obsessions is the small bell tower around the corner. We can see it from our back porch, as a matter of fact. Every day as we pull into the driveway she asks two things: “Flowerflies?” If I tell her no, we can’t spend half an hour in the front garden examining every single flower that is currently in bloom, she asks, “Bayels?” We walked once to the church to look at the bells, and now she asks to do it several times a day. Most of the time it’s a nice way to kill twenty minutes, especially in the early morning after we’re back from dropping Sparky off at school, but sometimes I have stuff to do, and it’s not a convenient time.
She is also currently enthralled with bugs of all kinds. She is especially fond of bees; bee-bugs (which are ladybugs); fufferfies (we get this one mixed up with flowerflies a lot, to her frustration); and nails (snails: she pointed at the spiral in Ceri’s seal tattoo the other day and informed her that there was a snail in it). We have recently managed to get her to understand that the buzzing sound in the sky is not a bee, but a plane. Mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumber are the best snacks ever. Unless there are goldfish crackers in the house. Then all bets are off.
New words are too numerous to keep track of any more. Monster, snail, loom, sit, sauce, pizza, dip, snack, bite (“Bite?” she says hopefully when she sees you eating something, and she offers you bites of whatever she is eating, too… also to the cat, whether he is there or not), diaper, people, sure (it is hilarious to ask her if she wants something and to hear a laid-back “Shuuuure!” in reply), and phrases like “here you go” chirped every time she puts something down by you. About six weeks ago she started calling me Mummy instead of Mama, and it’s rarely once at a time; it’s usually Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Today I asked her, “Do you want to help me?” “Help you? Shuuuure!” she said. That’s huge, being able to turn the pronoun around from “me” to “you” and use it correctly like that.
She wakes up around 6:30, has lunch around 11:30, and has a nap from roughly noon till 2:00. Then we go get Sparky at school for 3:45, have supper around 6:00, and she’s in bed by 7:00. When she wakes up from naps she calls for Gryff (“Maow! Maow!”) and I open the door for him. He runs in and they get all excited, because the next thing I do is lift the cat into the crib, and the two of them lie there and talk to one another. Owlet covers him with blankets, asks me for some books and reads to him, or just lies down and cuddles with him until he’s had enough. It’s really sweet. The two of them play an odd game of Marco Polo in the house, too. If Gryff is somewhere and meows, Owlet will meow back, and the Gryff will reply, and they’ll carry on like that for a while.
We cut out the bottle or cup before her nap entirely; now it’s just snuggling with the soother till she’s asleep, which is usually in about five minutes, and then I slip her into the crib. (We do the opposite at bedtime: a couple of ounces of milk still, then into bed awake, although we need to switch that milk over to a cup of water now). Over this summer we need to start weaning her off the soother before naps, because she won’t have it at daycare.
She’s still incredibly social. When we drive to or from school, she waves to bus drivers (“Hello, peoples!”), and blows kisses to the drivers around us as we pull away from red lights. She’s cheerful, likes to make sure everyone gets hugs and kisses when people leave (family hugs are particularly important before Daddy goes to work in the morning), and shares everything with everyone, but expects the same in return. (You weren’t going to eat half that bowl of pasta, were you? Or that scone? Or drink that cup of tea?).
Life continues tumbling pell-mell along.
The concert was lovely. It went better than it should have for me, considering that I have zero time in which to practice. We had a huge house, probably due to the fact that our conductor was our oboe soloist for the opening concerto, and we also played one of his original compositions that hasn’t been played locally (either ever, or in a long time). Lots of friends showed up to share the evening, which was lovely, too. I do wish that my intonation wouldn’t go out the window after intermission, though. I sit on the outside of our section, which means right next to the audience, and I hate that those people can hear precisely how off I get in the second half.
Our accountant handled our tax returns with grace and aplomb again this year, and we filed electronically for the first time. As a result, we got our refunds (substantial!) within two weeks. We are paying bills madly and loving it. It’s a huge relief to hack away at debt.
Both HRH and I went for annual checkups with our new family doctor, who noted some oddities in my exam and sent me for an appointment with a specialist. I was fine about it until the night before, when the potential repercussions finally sank in. Fortunately, the specialist checked me out, and said, “Um, I’m not seeing what your GP saw at all. You look perfectly healthy to me. We’ll wait for results of this test, but I’m pretty sure you’re clear.” So more relief!
I ordered books when my last freelance cheque arrived. So far I have torn through Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal and Incarnate by Jodi Meadows in less than a week. I have Elizabeth Bear’s and Seanan McGuire’s new books waiting to be read next, and the new Guy Gavriel Kay on reserve at the library, too.
We picked up our free tree for the city this weekend, and got a bonus little white lilac. All the trees have leaves starting to bud, and the birds are very happy indeed. HRH has doubled the size of the vegetable garden, and is starting to draw up plans for the new fence he’ll be building this summer. Owlet is thrilled to be playing “osside,” and keeps herself very busy carrying pieces of gravel all over the place and squirrelling them away. HRH found a handful in the watering can this morning, and I found about half a cup in Sparky’s butterfly net. She’d have slept with a rock last night if we’d let her; it was very difficult getting it out of her grubby little fist.
Work is all-consuming, and while going well, it’s draining. The lack of down time in which my brain can relax is really having a negative impact on my quality of life in general. I got a raise a couple of weeks ago in recognition of the “consistently thorough and thoughtful work I do,” which was absolutely lovely to hear. Also wonderful is the confirmation that Owlet is registered for three days a week of daycare in Sparky’s old centre starting at the end of summer, so all I have to do is get through the next three months of working during naps and evenings, and then I will have three workdays a week. No more working nights and naps, and not getting enough sleep! (There was stress and angst surrounding the whole daycare thing, because we’d been on a waiting list and due to start this fall after Owlet turned two, and then suddenly a bunch of the kids who were going to leave were staying on, and the daycare director’s schedules and plans were all thrown up in the air. She worked it all out, bless her, by opening a second private daycare.)
I registered Sparky for summer camp this past week. He had so much fun last year for the two-week session he did that thanks to Nana’s help again, he’s doing two sessions this summer. He’s started doing provincial testing at school, and thank goodness he’s not of an age where that means stress yet. He keeps coming home and casually saying things like, “We did exam stuff in math today, and I got it all right.” His cello bow snapped about a month ago (we theorize that there was an existing fracture, because the way it broke was at odds with how it fell) and his replacement arrived two weeks ago. We’ve had a recent breakthrough with reading sheet music, hand placement, and bow management, so he’s suddenly sounding much better than he was at the beginning of the year. He’s chosen piano for his music class at camp, so we shall see how that goes.
There’s been a bunch of knitting and spinning, but I don’t have time to post that. Sometime this week, maybe. After I hand my latest project in, that is.
She slept restlessly for a lot of this past month. I thought it was spring, maybe, or the hard transition to one nap a day, or the damn canines finally settling into place… but now we think it was a language development upgrade running at night. Suddenly we have things like: Read, read book?, clock, bless you!, allons-y (usually followed by go go go, but all in a tumble of sound so it’s more like allonsygogogo!, which rather suits the emotion of the statement). She chirped “Congratulations!” to Sparky after I said it when he finished Pokemon Black the other week. She calls snow “no,” which is what a lot of us feel about it at this time of year, frankly. And we have “Merci bye-bye!” followed by a serious blown kiss, which is generally reserved for the people at the deli counter in the grocery store who give her a slice of pretty much anything she points at while I’m ordering freshly cut cold meat. She thinks the deli counter is her personal buffet. They would have started slicing the cheese she pointed at with a charming grin and a “This?” if I hadn’t stopped them a couple of weeks ago. And we are finally starting to get animals identified by more than the sound they make. We actually heard her say “horse” the other day, and “dog.” Rabbits are hophops, though she calls her blanket bunny Bunny.
Sentences are starting to be more common. “Bird!” she said the other day when we were walking in a parking lot, leaning back and pointing gup. “Fying! Sky!” When I queried her, she strung them all together: “Bird fying sky!” And then there was “Here, Ee-yah, put cup here.” After which Sparky turned to HRH with wide eyes, saying, “She just said a whole sentence and I understood her!”
But the most hilarious language-related development is her use of the word ‘delicious.’ She may have picked it up from us, because when she pretends to feed us something we generally say, “Mmm, delicious.” So when we ask her, for example, “Is your mushroom good?” we are rewarded with “EeeeeeeISHush!” And she says it with such gusto that we can’t help laughing. But the other day, HRH caught her putting something into her mouth: “Wait, what have you got in your mouth? Open. Open! Is it a sticker?” So we checked, but there was nothing. We turned back to getting supper ready, and I said, “Well, whatever it was, it’s gone now. I hope it was good.” And from behind HRH and I came: “EeeeeeeISHush!”
Firsts this month include her first taste of tire d’érable on snow (I picked up a small jar of tire, HRH scooped up some clean snow from the back of the house, I warmed the tire up in the microwave and poured it on the snow for the kids; it’s the closest we’ll come to cabane a sucre, because they’re shockingly expensive and honestly, I hate most of the food apart from the tire), first homemade playdough, and her first serious watercolour painting and finger-painting. Someone adores painting in every form. (Also note: neither of these were finger-painting sessions. That didn’t stop her from using the technique.)
Grandma taught her how to play Ring Around the Rosie, and she made poor Grandma play it a billionty times in a row. She had her first real phone conversation, too, with Daddy. She did her first Easter Egg hunt, which was lots of fun:
She wore a pretty periwinkle blue dress with a blue-green floral chiffon skirt at Easter (I think it was Wynter’s—does it look familiar, Annika?), but every single photo is blurred because she couldn’t stop darting around at her grandparents’ house. So we’re going with the arty one that looks blurry on purpose:
Ceri and Scott passed along Ada’s booster seat, and while Owlet thought it was the best thing ever for about a week, she started resisting it, likely because she prefers to sit or kneel on a regular chair. So we only use her wooden high chair at supper now; all other meals she gets a real chair. Which is kind of funny, because she runs to it and hauls herself up onto the seat on her tummy, but usually gets her head stuck under the table while doing it.
She loves playing with the iPad, so much so that we have to have strict rules about when she can play with it and for how long. (Out of sight, out of mind is the best way to deal with it, we have discovered.) Her favourite app is Endless ABC, and she can rearrange the jumbled letters and drag them to their shadows in remarkably impressive time. She took the letter L off the fridge the other day and waved it at me, going “Luh-luh-luh-LUH-luh-luh” like the letter L in the game does when you try to drag it into the correct spot. So, er, hello, knowledge sponge. She loves the Kids CBC app and sings along with the Dirt Girl theme song, and is starting to get into matching/Memory game apps. But she also loves the simplicity of Fantasy Music Box and the Little Fox Music app, which she likes for the songs as well as the studio section where she can touch different things to make noises and sounds against a beat.
She came up to me one morning while I was casting on for a toddler sweater I’m test-knitting for an acquaintance, and said, “Eit? Eit?” I thought she was saying eight, because she was looking at the ends of the needles where the size is printed, so I told her no, they were size 7s. She took the needles away from me and clicked the tips together a few times. Turns out she was saying, “Knit? Knit?”
At the thrift shop the other day we found not one but two pairs of barely-used shoes for her. One is a just-fit for now (purple lace-up ankle boots! she saw them and pestered me till I handed them to her, and then she yanked off her boots and tried to shove them on her feet by herself) and the others are a pair of suede t-straps, a size or two bigger for this fall. That day after her nap, she insisted that she put on the ones she had picked and she stomped around in them all afternoon, very pleased with herself. I got a parcel in the mail that day and there was bubble wrap in it, so Sparky put it on the floor and showed her how to stomp on it. She made very satisfying sounds with those shoes on!
On the same thrift store trip I found an older Little People house there for three dollars, which was missing the doors and didn’t come with any furniture or people, but she adores it. She is especially fascinated with the bathroom, and has given all the Little People and equivalent sized figures we have a turn on the potty and several baths. On another thrift store trip we scored a little china tea set for $2, and the tea parties began! We’ve already misplaced the creamer and the green cup has broken, but that’s not slowing anyone down.
She walked up to stand next to me in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and sang, “Tiyul, tiyul, i-al STAH… howAwaaa-aaawha-ooAAAAH.” And she kept going, looking at me with a tiny smile on her face. At the end she grinned and started clapping for herself. She sings along with stuff, but I’ve never heard her voluntarily sing a whole song on her own before. She randomly does bits of the alphabet song, and requests “Baa Baa Black Sheep” often during diaper changes. We’ve started to listen to a playlist just for her in the car with some of her favourite songs on it, and after each one she says, “Thank you!” She’s such a sparkling, giggly, drop of pure sunshine. Sure, things get cranky and hard, and teeth are jerks, as Ceri says; but she’s a sunny little thing. We’re fortunate parents–again.
Oh, the words. New this month are: Mushroom, tomato (“may toe”), drink, toes, flowers, butterflies, bug, bath (we must be careful saying this, as she will beetle directly into the bathroom, start drumming the edge of tub with her hands, and say, “Bath. Bath? Bath!” then get very cross if we say that it isn’t a bath night), dance, again, UP-down, outside, happy! happy! happy!, happy baby, angry! grr (that’s all one unit: “Angry!grr“), mine, sky, sun,moon, and sad.
This month also saw her first three-word sentence: “Where Papa go?”
Singing has suddenly exploded as well. Owlet sings “Twinkle” with me, not that anyone would necessarily recognize it. We started off with her supplying the last word in each line, but now she burbles along. She sings the “ABC” song with Sparky, too, much to his delight, although most of the letters are e, d, or g. She also sings “Baa baa black sheep,” with some serious head-banging for the “yes sir” bits. (It’s so serious that we can’t sing it if we’re sitting at a table, because she will crack her forehead on it.) She sang the first two lines of the Cat in the Hat theme song when it appeared on PBS today, much to the astonishment of Sparky and me. It’s very simple and mostly repetitive; I’m not surprised that she can sing “Go, go, go, go” of course, but “on an adventure” was kind of a shock. (It was more like “onna vedjur,” but it was in time and on beat.) We read Goodnight Moon and I can pause to let her fill in lots of the items listed throughout it, too.
Furniture-moving is one of her newest pastimes. She likes to shove her bench out into the middle of the living room to stand on it. In the kitchen, if I’m doing something on a counter, she’ll drag a chair over to counter next to me, climb it, stands to help me bake. (Which, yesterday, involved her dropping a whole measuring cup into the Kitchenaid bowl, and sinking her entire hand into cake batter after it had been poured into the pan. So helpful.) We can’t build tents as easily as we could in the old living room with Sparky, who adored them, but sometimes I can manage this:
Another of her idiosyncrasies is her pretend sleep: She’ll flop over and start snoring really loudly… with her eyes open, watching us. Too funny! She has also discovered stickers. The kids got Brave sticker books from Santa when they saw him at Christmas, and she dragged one out the other day. Stickers are awesome! They stick to things! Like noses! And doors! And the fridge! And the cat! Thank goodness these ones are designed to peel off and restick in the book, but even they pick up dust and grime and stop sticking. Time to pick some assorted sticker books up in the dollar store now and then and tuck them away for days when we need something new.
Poor Owlet. We had a horrible February, as all four of her canines decided to come in at once. They were huge, swollen, white lumps in her gums, and she was miserable. The top two broke through two days apart during the first week of March, and the right bottom one has just emerged. The bottom left one is still a lump, but she’s back to her usual cheerful self. I think her appetite is finally slowing down. But that may have been the teeth. She still steals tea even though I give her her own.
We seem to be stuck between one two-hour (or more) nap, and two hour and a half-long naps. It’s hard. We kind of play it by ear as the day goes. Some days she makes it till past 10:30 and naps for two hours. Most days she goes down around 10, and naps for only 1.5 ish hours. If that happens I gauge her mood and usuallyput her down for a catnap around 2:30. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m thinking the time change may actually help us out in this respect.
She really loves sitting on the big potty. None of this kid potty thing for her! No, if everyone else uses the big one, she will too. So I got the child insert from storage and she cheerfully asks to sit on it several times a day, reading books or brushing her teeth. Nothing has actually happened yet, but it has to at some point.
Colouring is going better. Except she has to be supervised extremely carefully, because apparently our wood-based decor is in need of some colour. I went to pour another cup of tea the other day and when I came back twenty seconds later, I found red crayon on the floor. So I scrubbed it off with a tissue, saying, “No! Crayons go on paper.” And because she loves to clean and I wanted to reinforce the lesson, I handed her the tissue and asked her to help clean it up. She scrubbed at the mark industriously, and then turned and scrubbed at the mark she’d made on the bookshelf, then the other bookshelf, the spines of the books on that second bookshelf, the spinning wheel, and her bench. (!!!)
Sometimes she goes after Gryff, saying, “No! No, meow!” then a string of baby gibberish that very clearly tells the cat off for doing whatever she thinks he’s not supposed to do. Granted, we do shoo him away from various places and things, so it’s definitely imitative behaviour. Once she kept yelling at him to get him away from his dish, and it took us a moment or two to realise that she was imitating us shooing him away from Cricket’s dish when she imagines something is scaring her and runs off, leaving food in her bowl. So we find ourselves now having to tell Owlet that no, it’s all right, the cat is allowed to do whatever he’s doing. Except in the past couple of days we’ve noticed her shooing Cricket away from her own bowl, so apparently she thinks no cat is ever supposed to eat from that bowl, ever.
Her hair is a lovely honey colour, a warm light brown. Her curls are getting longer, which means the weight is pulling them down a bit and they’re becoming more waves with a half-ringlet at the bottom. Her hair dries super-curly, but it’s so fine that the curl slips out of it after sleeping or wearing a hat. Sometimes she reaches for my green spray bottle in the bathroom, and I spray her hair and squish it into curls for her. She loves the spray bottle, thank goodness. We’re sweeping her uneven, thin bangs to the side at the moment, but I wonder if trimming them to an even fringe might work better. (My heart just about stops every time I consider that. My baby can’t possibly be old enough to need a haircut.)