Monthly Archives: February 2007

In Which She Does A Brief Recap Of The Weekend And Dodges Writing About Herself By Posting About The Boy

Thank you everyone who stopped by to see HRH on his birthday, or sent greetings and good wishes. He had a wonderful time with his friends, and is very excited about all his gift certificates and tickets and game cards and art supplies. Well done, troops.

By Friday night whatever had been eating through my spine during the day had ceased, and it was nice to be able to sit back by the fire at the pub and just listen to the conversations going on around me. I did actually have a book in my bag, but I didn’t need to use it.

Speaking of things in my bag, I have lost my sunglasses. This is very upsetting, because I hate sunglasses in general and I have owned this perfect pair for about four years. I had them when I walked from the car to the house after band on Saturday. Now, they are nowhere to be found. I mourn their absence. They may have fallen into the snow, in which case farewell till spring, assuming I’m lucky enough to find them when the piles and piles of snow finally melt, and they’re salvageable. (Look, a Canadian winter. I’d forgotten what those were like.) Lots of snow fell this weekend. HRH shovelled three times, and each time he moved the snow it was as if he hadn’t done so earlier. Today it is very clear outside (and thus the discovery of the loss of my sunglasses). The sun is rising significantly earlier and setting later, and the angle of it has visibly changed in the past week.

I am remarkably reticent about the things that are on my mind these days. I habitually use this journal as well as my other handwritten journals to work out and record how I feel about things, but these days it feels very much like more of the same thing I was feeling yesterday, and the day before that, and haven’t we had these general life problems before a few times too? And on top of that, I am experiencing computer aversion. The two main books on the go right now are frustrating in very different ways. I’ve reached a part of Swan Sister that isn’t very clearly defined in my brain, and while I usually see this as an opportunity to allow my brain to simply create without boundaries (and it is usually a success), this time it’s a major stumbling block. (Imagine, a stumbling block at 30K. You’d think I’d see them coming by this point.) The Poppy book, while now having a pulse again in my work-brain, is a problem because of the Revelation, because to implement it would require an even more drastic overhaul that I had originally expected. I would have to scrap eighty percent of the novel, and throw out most of what makes the plot currently advance. I read the first couple of chapters during Liam’s nap yesterday and it’s good as it is, just not what it needs to be in order to be a complete success. It’s an enjoyable read, but not a Story. I have to think about it a lot more, and this is ungood because what I want to be doing now is actually writing, not planning or rewriting. I may ignore both of them, pull the Pandora book out and start writing the final chapters of that instead. (Because today, ignoring the problems is much easier than trying to work through them and feeling as if I’ve made matters worse by the end of the precious work day. One must choose one’s battles.)

I’ve spent the morning handling correspondence, and doing banking. I’ve crossed half the things of today’s To-Do list. Since I don’t feel particularly interested in elaborating what’s on my mind, I will share Liam-news.

Liam has been singing Twinkle Twinkle an awful lot these days. He has also been requesting it on the cello. We are a little tired of fending him off from giving the cello full-body hugs at high velocity while it is being played, or using the body as a percussive instrument to accompany the bowed music. He informed me that the f-holes were moons the other day.

Yesterday he drew a picture, and by ‘drew’ I mean he scribbled with his markers on a sheet of construction paper on the floor with his Thomas the Tank Engine next to him. When he was done he looked at me and said, “Ati!”, which means Thomas in Liam-Speak. It took me a moment before I realised that he was referring to the set of scribbles. And when I turned it around, it did look remarkably like the engine once he’d pointed it out. I am mildly freaked out by this. I put it up on his door.

Toilet training also proceeds eerily well.

I made delicious homemade pizza Saturday night, and Liam ate an entire slice as well as stealing the pizza bones off my plate. Sunday we went over to HRH’s parents’ home for dinner, where we had excellent prime rib and lovely potatoes, with cauliflower and broccoli in a light cheese sauce. Liam gorged himself on it all like everyone else did, having seconds and thirds of everything. Then he sat on my lap, appropriated my coffee spoon and helped himself to my serving of impressive home-made black forest cake, and ate more of it than I did (I’m not a big fan of cherries in cake; I’ll eat them fresh but that’s pretty much it). He also helped himself to a few spoonfuls of decaf cappuccino.

And now, I will go reheat the final slice of pizza.

Swan Sister Update

Wow, what a miserable day I’m having. It can be over any time, thanks. I don’t much enjoy being mad at the world in general for no particular reason. I should bring a book to the pub tonight so that I don’t have to talk to anyone, or I may ruin their night.

Total word count, Swan Sister: 31,482
New words today: 1,865

Looking back over my records, I see that I get the opportunity to work on this damn story once every thirty days or so. If I could work on it more frequently I might like it more, take less time getting back into it when I do sit down to work, and not feel like I’m facing a brick wall every single session.

Really, spring can show up any time now. Any. Time.

In other writing news I recently had a Revelation concerning the Poppy book, which requires a massive overhaul and rewrite and rethinking of some of the central action. It’s not a bad thing, because it’s been sitting there patiently waiting for an expanded second draft for a couple of years now. This Revelation may make the unintentional ending I wrote work, too, and the expansion/second draft would fill in what needs to happen before that end. Not that I can do anything about it for a while. Fitting everything I need to do into two days a week is beginning to take its toll.


People, where are you all? Post! I’m writing a letter and I need a) distraction, and b) inspiration.

Later: Thank you, world! It was a long newsy letter, and I needed my memory jogged. I noodled around e-lists and journals and music sites, too. And now I have stayed up much too late, but at least this letter will hit the mail tomorrow morning.

I think I forgot to eat dinner.


Listening to the recording made of this past band rehearsal, I am frustrated by what sounds like my lack of capability to produce anything remotely close to correct intonation Saturday morning. Sometimes I wish that my instrument was fretted or keyed so that the sound I produce would be more or less exactly the same every time, assuming the overall tuning is correct, as there are fewer things that can go wrong. One of the things I like about the cello is the ability to push a note up or down to lean on accidentals, but the price for this bonus is having no set reference where your fingers have to go to produce a precise sound, which in turn is affected by so many tiny factors that it’s a wonder I ever end up within an eighth of my desired note. Vagaries such as tiny muscle motion, balance, fractional differences in how the instrument is set up each time, length of the endpin, temperature affecting fingers, strings, and instrument structure are often the culprits, but one can’t blame everything on the co-operation of multitude of tiny factors like this. The human element renders machine-like precision impossible, however, and I don’t think machine-like precision makes for very good music anyway. I’d just like my human element to be a bit more on, and a bit less like human error.

I have to find some way to get a feed out from my amp or pickup into a set of headphones for my ear. When everyone is playing I can’t clearly hear what I’m doing, and so I can’t adjust the intonation accordingly.

On the other hand, I deliberately didn’t set up my music stand for reference except for one song, and then to be used for only one part of that song, so I’m pleased about that. I haven’t been reading music for a while, but if the stand is up I glance at it automatically which distracts me from what I’m doing. The stand is a crutch, and I’m glad I’m past that.

And quite apart from the finicky details about my dissatisfaction with my performance, the recordings sound wonderful. If I step past listening to my mistakes, the overall effect is really, really good. The problem is that these recordings are a learning tool so that we can hear those mistakes and make a note to fix them, and I have to hear the mistakes before I can relax enough to hear the song as a whole, as the audience would.

Come On, Mama, Keep Up

I am about to engage in the most mommy-blogging of mommyblogging, so feel free to skip this. If it had happened six hours earlier it would have been part of the twenty-month post.

The local toy emporium is having a sale this week on potties, and so we picked one up on Saturday to put aside for toilet training when it eventually comes around. We unpacked it and put it in the bathroom so the boy could get used to having it around. He crawled all over it and was very excited about it.

Last night after his bath I asked him if he wanted to sit on it, thinking it would be a good habit to get into with no pressure. “No point,” said HRH as the boy obligingly settled himself down. “He went before the bath.”

And then we looked at one another as we heard the distinct sound of Liam doing precisely what one does on a potty. The boy looked very pleased with himself, and we cheered.

This morning when he got up I asked him if he wanted to change his diaper or use the potty. “Potty!” he said immediately with an excited nod. It may have actually worked, too, if he hadn’t bounced right back up again after sitting down, saying “cold!”. Looks like we’ll have to keep the heat on in the bathroom at night now.

So there you have it: it appears that toilet training has begun, although it wasn’t planned. Once again, this child moves faster than we expected him to move. Next thing we know he’ll be telling us that the crib is passe, and can he have the car keys, please?

Twenty Months Old!

Midway through January Liam suddenly developed a fascination with babies. “Baby!” he says in a very pleased voice when he sees a photo in a book, packaging featuring a baby, or a real baby. He calls all children under a certain size or age babies, and we haven’t yet managed to teach him that toddlers are kids or children. They’re all “baby!”. Shopping is a lot of fun because of this. It’s also entertaining because of the chipper “Hello!” and “Bye bye!” he directs to various other shoppers and staff as he passes them.

This month Liam learned about the moon. He asked about it while driving home from daycare one day, when the first sliver of the crescent was low in the western sky. He already knew ‘stars’, so I had to explain that it wasn’t a star. Now he looks for the moon every day. I love to hear him say “moon” (followed by pointing up), and sometimes “Lady” (also followed by pointing up, unless he’s talking about one of his trains!), and “stars” (insert pointing up here, too). After he learned the word ‘moon’ he kept pointing up during the day and saying “moon!”, so we tried for two weeks to get him to understand that the sun is what we see in the sky during the day. For a while it felt like a scene out of The Taming of the Shrew: “Moon!” “No, it’s the sun. ” “Moon!” “No, Liam, really, it’s the sun.” “MOON!” Now he says ‘sun’ properly when he looks up during the day, although he’s having great difficulty understanding that the moon is in a different place at a different time every night. And I can completely understand that; the “inconstant moon” must be a huge challenge for toddlers who are struggling with object permanence. I have no idea what we’ll do when he sees the moon in the daytime sky for the first time.

The skills he has picked up over this past month astonish me. Toddlers learn so quickly. Liam has finally learned how to blow kisses: before he would bring his hand up to cover his mouth and kiss his palm, but now he understands that the moving of the hand away is just as important. And during his last cold, he learned how to blow his nose instead of just submitting to having it wiped. (Anyone who has parented a toddler knows that this is a big thing. His caregiver called the next time she took him to ask excitedly, “When did he learn to blow his nose?”) Now when he sneezes he says “nose” and points to the box of tissues. Halfway through January he started walking backwards, just wandering down the hall or through the kitchen in reverse. At first you could see him concentrating to make sure he didn’t fall over, but now he just starts walking and off he goes, casually watching where he’s been. A week of touching his wrist and saying “bee!” with a cheerful smile had everyone confused, until one day we realised that any small speck (such as pepper or a freckle) is ‘bee’, which means a bug of some kind, we think. Equally, small round pieces of food like grapes or corn are ‘peas’. He names different parts of the body, points to pictures on the wall and describes various things in them, looks at new things and relates them to things he already knows. It’s incredible to watch him develop like this.

At the beginning of February I gave him his very first doll. He’s crazy about The Little Mermaid in any form, so when I found a soft Ariel doll with a pleasant face I picked her up. Liam absolutely loves her. He tried to get her out of her box like crazy in the store and while I was getting him out of his coat at home, but when I finally undid all the threads and wires and held her out, he stood shyly on the other side of the room and just looked at her for a while. I cuddled her and stroked her hair, then asked him if he would like to hug her. He nodded and sidled over, touched her hair and laid his cheek gently against her. Then he grabbed her by the foot and off they went. Liam made her a bed from her box right away, fed her crackers, and stroked her hair. He demanded to sleep with her for his nap, and sat with her on my lap for his pre-nap stories, then proceeded to take her with him in the car to pick up HRH that afternoon. That day he added her to the menagerie of companions in the turtle tent with him. Like BunBun and his little wooden Thomas the Tank Engine, ‘Mermy’ is now a member of the family. (We have managed to keep her out of the bath so far, however, unlike Thomas.)

The greatest at-home invention this past month is the turtle tent. The turtle tent is made by draping the end of the sea turtle fabric over the back of the reclining chair in the living room, and anchoring the other end in the bookcases behind it. He brings his stuffed Thomas pillow into it, books, his cup, and usually a small bowl of orange sections or crackers and spends ages in it, playing and giggling and ducking in and out, usually with a parent in tow.

When I work in the kitchen he demands to see what’s going on, so I started pulling a chair over for him to stand on. We made Rice Krispie squares last week, which fascinated him so much that he thrust both hands into the warm sticky mess as I was scraping it into the pan. He wasn’t as enchanted when it didn’t just shake off, although he agreed that eating it off his hands tasted good. He likes to help mix things.

One day while Liam was singing to himself HRH listened with a focused look on his face, then leaned in and said, “Liam, are you singing the alphabet song?” Liam just grinned. So HRH started singing it, and Liam grinned even more. In the car later that day it happened again. He loves that he can start singing, and we can join in. To calm him down in the car the other afternoon I sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to him, followed by the alphabet song, and “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, with several variations on harmony. I stopped because I was tired, and I was sitting at a red light when from the back seat I heard “twinkle twinkle”, followed by a pause, then “twinkle twinkle” again. I looked in the mirror to see him grinning at me, singing his version of the song. So we sang “twinkle twinkle”-pause-“twinkle twinkle”-pause together all the rest of the way home.

About a month ago I saw him singing to himself in the car seat and putting the thumb and forefinger of each hand together, then putting his hands in the air. The second time I saw it something clicked. “Liam, are you singing Itsy Bitsy Spider?” Grin, grin. So I sang it and did the hand motions for him. Sometimes he’d put his hands in the air; sometimes he’d put the fingers together. Sometimes he’d throw in a “la la”. The odd thing? We hadn’t sung it to him yet, nor had his caregiver, so to see him doing the hand motions was truly freaky. We can only imagine that Grandma must have done it for him one day.

New words this month include mermaid, broom, castle, cantaloupe, flag, blue, table, butter, and people. He now attempts Pasley’s name, calling her “Lablie”. He also says “purple”, thanks to Jan. And speaking of Jan, when we give him toast with a bit of jam on it he says “Nm-mmm,” and we say, “It’s jam.” “Jan!” he says, pointing up at the framed photo of t!, Jan, HRH, and I with Death and Taxes from the wedding last May. New foods include parsnips (with which he was so enamoured that he picked all of them out of his stew and left the carrots!), and Minigo fruit-flavoured yoghurts (which, curiously enough, don’t make me gag like regular yoghurt does). I laugh whenever I hear him say “tea!” in a perky voice followed by reaching for a teacup, either real or from his toy tea set.

His love affair with books proceeds apace. He’s really good with paper pages, but we still prefer to give him board books because he does get upset when he tears a page. Only a week after the last monthly update he developed a violent affection for Lost and Found, and now every single page must be read before naps and bed. Somehow, penguins have become became ‘cookie’ in Liam-speak. (Black and white police cars are also ‘cookie’, which means penguin. He is an odd child. No, he’s never been given a black and white cookie.) I love to see him sitting next to the bookcase, pulling another down as he finishes paging through one, slowly building a pile of books around him like a nest. This month we finally went to Ikea to pick up a set of doors for the bookcase in which we store our DVDs, because no matter how we wedged them in he’d get them out and open them up to play with the discs. We also installed security latches for the doors. He was very unimpressed when he came home that afternoon and not only couldn’t see the DVDs, but couldn’t open the doors either.

We are out of fish again. The aquarium currently houses a healthy school of bubbles instead.