Monthly Archives: February 2012

Not Dead

And my computer is still hanging on by a thread as well (not that I get a chance to sit down at it for more than a heartbeat every couple of days). I got the replacement (plus a monitor and keyboard and speakers and wow; I now own a bit of Ariadne Knits history and I am so thankful to Molly Ann!), only to realise that apparently my Mini is a souped up model with a hard drive that is four times the size of the replacement, which only has the standard issue HD. My processor is faster, too. I think the only thing to do is swap the hard drives and take the slight speed cut, but that depends on the Mac tech guys at HRH’s workplace again, so I’m still in a holding pattern.

Still no response from the client I did the edits for over two weeks ago. I sent them a second more formal reminder today saying that as I hadn’t heard from them on this date and this date, in response to any of the submissions or quotes, I had to assume the edits on the first project were acceptable and to please give me the info required for invoicing so I could bill them, and that hey, I can’t sit here and wait for you forever to get back to me after me saying that yes, I was available for you and the projects you proposed. I’m already cranky because I turned down my publisher’s project that was offered to me the same day since I was going to be working on the new client’s stuff. Today I got wise and attached a return receipt to my email, so I know it was received and read, at least. I’m so frustrated with how this is going. Finances are not getting any easier. I just want to be working again.

Health-wise, we’ve been riding a merry-go-round. Sparky had to be picked up from school last week because he got threw up and had a mild 24-hour gastro. Owlet and I developed severe and sudden likely-different gastro this past Sunday night. I’d only been well for a few days after the nasty sinus/head/flu thing the week before that took ages to work through, so it kind of felt extra unfair. It hit HRH the next night, possibly because he’d been up all night before taking care of the two of us so his body was already exhausted. And tonight the boy crashed with a fever, a cough and congestion, and no appetite, and I’m really hoping it’s not the nasty gastro we all had; that would be remarkably unfair, too. Though not entirely surprising, as my doctor said there are a few evil strains flying around this season and it seems a bit worse than usual. We’re all so exhausted.

Looks like March is going to come roaring in like a lion. We need the snow for ground water levels, but I am really looking forward to wearing lighter jackets, putting my boots away, and watching spring flowers bloom.

I completely missed the Owlyblog’s tenth anniversary on February 12. I meant to do a thoughtful post dedicated to it and everything, but I didn’t, so here: Ten years. That’s a long time. Go me. Go owlies. Go you, dear readers. I’d put exclamation marks in, but that suggests energy, which I do not have at the moment.

Excelsior, yes?

A Random Number Of Things Makes A Random Post

1. Still haven’t heard back from the new client about (a) the project I edited for them, (b) the second quote I did for them, (c) the third quote I did for them. Now I think they hate me and I made horrible, glaring APA mistakes in the project I killed myself to get to them.

2. On the other hand, it’s just as well for the moment, because…

3. The Mac mini still has not had its USBs fixed. In fact, when HRH brought it back home after taking it in the second time, it wouldn’t start up at all. On the eleventh try it did, and I haven’t turned it off since then for fear it won’t start ever again. I keep expecting it to just roll over and die.

4. Now it’s lost its sound output entirely. All the options to turn it back on are greyed out. It’s definitely a hardware issue. I give up.

5. In the Good News column, I get the new-to-me Mac mini on Monday afternoon. I am not thinking about the nightmare of transferring the contents of my hard drive from one to the other.

6. I have been horribly sick the past two or three days. I’ve been achy for most of the week, but yesterday things got so bad it hurt to lie down. My throat is horribly sore, I’ve been alternating between chills and sweats, and lethargy and awful headaches have been dogging me. So yesterday just before supper I handed HRH the baby, took a hot bath, fell into bed and slept through two feedings. Poor Owlet has been out of sorts as well, so I’ve been dosing her with Tylenol regularly, too. I feel marginally better today, so much so that I was well enough to take Sparky to his cello lesson this morning. Still achy and throat sore and headached, but almost tolerably so.

7. In cello news, I got my copy of Suzuki book four this morning! I am very excited. I’ve played the Breval before; in fact, it was my last recital piece with my first teacher… um, fifteen years ago (oh my gods, I now officially feel way damn old). (Because mention of long ago inevitably raises the question of how long I’ve been playing: I started as an adult beginner in 1994.) I’m still off private lessons until I make money, but we have a group lesson tomorrow and I get to provide accompaniment for the kids’ half of the afternoon as well my parts in the adult pieces later.

8. I am underwhelmed by the new Tim Hortons’ lattes. The one I tried today tasted like scalded milk and old coffee, despite sweetening. I’ll give it one more go, next time a mocha latte because chocolate makes everything better, but I suspect I’ll be sticking with iced cappuccinos from that particular chain.

9. This weather is wrong, wrong, wrong. We’re averaging about one degree above zero, and the snow is almost all gone (not that there was very much overall accumulation this winter to begin with), and while it’s nice for walking with the baby, it’s awful for the ground water and the coming growing season. We already have bulbs a centimetre above ground in the front garden. It’s wrong, I tell you.

10. Owlet is working out the crawling thing. She can lift her front half; she can get her rear in the air and try to tuck her knees under her hips. Unfortunately, she can’t do both at the same time, because when one end goes up the other goes down. Hilarious.

11. Oh, the candid pictures you will get when I can get them off my phone and camera!

12. Speaking of pictures, two weeks ago we all went and sat for a formal family portrait at the local department store. The deal was a free session and free 10 x 13 print, and anything else was up to you. Owlet and I went and saw the proofs the other day, and they were wonderful; I was shocked that everyone looked so good at the same time. And while I really, really couldn’t afford it, I managed to wring some money out of my Visa and pick up prints of the two family poses. We’ve never had formal photos taken, ever; the last ones someone who is not a family member took of us were at our wedding thirteen years ago. The lady even slipped in an extra sheet of prints for me. When I have a printer that connects to a real computer again I’ll scan one and post it for you all. I shall also scan and print more for family and friends.

Okay, that’s about it on the update front. Bedtime.

Computer Woes, Continued

Things have been very up and down. Mostly down, although a couple of the ups have been big enough to offset the smaller numerous down issues.

The USB port issue became enough of a problem that after taking it to a Mac-knowledgeable friend who tested, troubleshot, and updated me to Snow Leopard without solving the issue, HRH took it into the Apple-trained guys at work. They thought they’d fixed the issue, only for me to discover at home that none of my USB peripherals worked, exactly as they hadn’t before, and then the Mini decided not to power on at all. Or rather, it powered on, but the startup sequence never happened. So now I had no computer at all.

In the Bad Timing column, the day before I sent the Mac in to work with HRH I was contacted by a national organization that wanted to know my rates for copyediting. A fellow spinner and copyeditor (hello Mitioticspindle!) had referred me to them, since she couldn’t take their contracts due to workload. I was thrilled about this, because the publisher hadn’t offered me a project yet, and money was getting whatever the metaphor is for way past tight and there are utilities getting very cranky because they are unhappy with the size of the payments they’re getting. So, without a computer on Friday, I checked my work mail via my iPhone (bless it) and saw that the client I was negotiating with sent me two documents for which to return an estimate. This meant I needed a computer that would open them so I could respond as soon as possible, so I scrambled around trying to get the rickety ancient Dell laptop to work. I needed to download new converters for Word, but eventually it opened the documents, and I sent in my quote. And then bang, okay, sure: the quotes were acceptable, go ahead on the shorter one because they needed it ASAP, but they’d need approval for the larger one. And suddenly I was working, and had a deadline. (An aside: In perfect irony, my publisher contacted me that same Friday to offer me a project, which I had to turn down because (a) I had no computer, and (b) the new client was going to pay me more than twice the hourly rate.)


So when the newly returned Mini didn’t start up Friday evening, I panicked inside while trying to get the Dell into some sort of usable shape. The project partially involved checking four pages of URLs, and the Dell took *forever* to open a web page. On top of that, it crashed a few times, and I either lost work (never very much, because I have autosave set to back up every five minutes or so) or lost time, which at this point was the more precious commodity. I’d quoted them for two hours of work, because that’s how long it should have taken. Instead, after factoring in the slowness of the computer, the crashes, and the couple of hours of research and my crash review course in APA style, which I hadn’t used since university, it took seven hours. HRH was home sick on Monday, thank goodness, because I’d budgeted three hours to be done over three nights, and I was nowhere near done on Monday morning when I wanted to do a quick half-hour review of the document before sending it in at noon. Blowing past my deadline is not how I wanted to begin my relationship with a rather important new client

The dead Mac was panicsome, too, because I have a book-length document to edit next, and there is no way I can do it on the Dell. So I contacted another friend with whom I’d discussed purchasing her Mac mini last fall when she no longer needed it. Originally it was for HRH, to replace his equally ancient Dell tower, but then he discovered that the new Star Wars MMO wasn’t being released for Macs (while disappointing, this actually saves me a heck of a lot of time) and so he ended up purchasing someone else’s secondhand PC. Fortunately she still had it, so once she clears her old files off it it will be mine, and I will have a computer with confirmed functional USB ports with no more iffyness. My mother is to be thanked for lending me the money to get this happening sooner rather than later, because the only way it was going to happen originally was for me to complete the book-length edit and be paid for it down the line, at which time I’d have the money to acquire it. I’ll use my Time Machine backup to set things up on the new computer, and all will be well (or else).

So the upshot of all of this is that there has been a lot of panic and tension in work-related areas. I am very behind on e-mail and news and online stuff in general. All my music and pictures are stuck on the Mac, and I can’t transfer new ones from the camera or the phone.

The Mac issue has also been interesting for the Apple tech who works with HRH. It’s a professionally fascinating and frustrating issue, apparently, because the USB ports are getting power, and yet won’t recognize or allow the signal of anything bigger than a mouse or keyboard to pass. He’s never encountered it. They’ve determined that it’s definitely a hardware issue and are examining code now. If it can’t be fixed beyond powering up and successfully initiating and completing the start sequence (which is now does), then we’ll have a media unit to stream stuff downstairs to the TV while I use the other new-to-me Mac as my work computer.

The computer issues and the new client have made the past six days pretty stressful. We had a bit of a respite on Sunday when we had the families with whom we’re connected by being godparents all over, and it was just a lovely afternoon. The food was delicious, the kids played together beautifully, the babies were all smiley and social and loved being passed around from person to person, and it was good to finally see people, which, as I have chronicled here, hasn’t happened since late November or early December since schedules and plague wrote off all social activity during the holidays.

So that has been my professional and technological life lately. Yay for new contracts and what is hopefully a permanent new client. Boo for computer issues that are really making executing those contracts nigh impossible. I’m getting tense about having gone two weeks without syncing my phone or backing up the computer, too.

The State of the Owlet Update

Owlet has been delightful. We’ve been working on her sleep discipline by moving her into her crib in her own room at night, and it’s generally been going okay. The past couple of nights have been particularly good, with her sleeping four to five hours, nursing, sleeping two to three hours, nursing, then sleeping without the little wakeups till between six or seven in the morning when it’s time to get up. Naps are still all over the place. If she sleeps past her first couple of danger spots at twenty and forty minutes after she falls asleep then she’ll sleep for an hour and a half to two hours and is charming for the rest of the day, including a forty-five to ninety minute naps in the afternoon. If she doesn’t, then she only up for an hour before she starts being cranky and shrieky and needs to go down for another nap, which usually lasts only twenty minutes, and she catnaps through the day without getting proper rest.

Those two teeth finally cut within a few days of one another, and cut is the word; they’re so sharp that I’m reminded anew of how much teeth must hurt coming through. She’s sitting up on her own so much more securely. Her shape is changing again; she’s definitely stretching, as her trunk and legs are slimming out. All the socks that fit her chubby legs last week are beginning to fall off. Her balance when we carry her is different, too. Her winter hats no longer slide around on her head, like they did last week. She’s eating like a small, happy horse; she adores solid food, and I’ve given up on trying to keep her grabby hands away from whatever I’m eating, and just make sure I eat something she can nibble, too. The other day we went for a casual family portrait and Sparky had a granola bar to snack on while we waited. HRH asked him to move over and eat it next to me instead. Sparky assured him he wouldn’t make a mess, and HRH told him that it wasn’t because we were worried about a mess being made, it was to avoid Owlet kicking up a fuss because if she saw him eating it, she’d want one, too!

Toast is her newest favourite food. This morning I gave her oatmeal at breakfast, just like Sparky, and she was so excited. I don’t remember when we started giving Sparky three solid meals a day, but Owlet is all for it. New foods include toast, roast potatoes, real rice (not baby cereal), and she happily gnawed on a pretty bare chicken bone at supper the other night. I have to pick up some yoghurt, and maybe some red pepper hummus or something. I’m a bit concerned about how much solid food she’s taking in, because I don’t want it to crowd out the room for the milk that is supposed to be her main source of nutrition.

Last week she achieved a form of situational mobility. Baby on fleece blanket on hardwood floor; baby reaches out past the edges of the blanket and starts using her hands on the hardwood to drag herself & blanket around, inch by inch. She was thrilled. She adores her exersaucers, is getting very good at picking things up, and is developing a wicked sense of humour. Sparky had the day off yesterday and we three went out on a Valentine’s Day date, to get ice cream (no, Owlet just watched, although she reached rather stealthily for Sparky’s cone when he was distracted by something) and visit the local David’s Tea counter to taste their teas of the day, and she was quiet and well-behaved for the entire two-hour trip. Getting out is good for her. She’s a very social child.

Last night she sounded a bit stuffed up, and this morning she definitely has a mild cold, as do I. We are missing Sesame Street because she’s napping so well, but she needs to sleep. (LATER: A two hour nap! Hurrah!)

Owlet: Six Months Old!

Six months. Half a year, people. We’re simultaneously baffled and thrilled.

This baby just keeps growing. The fuzzy snowsuit I bought her that was all floppy and too big a month ago now fits her perfectly from shoulder to toes. She’s wearing her 12-month clothes most comfortably; she’s got long legs, and the cloth diaper adds bulk to fill out the waist and hips. Most 6-9 month tops are too short and too tight across the shoulders. The good thing is I know she’s going to slim down as she achieves mobility, so she should be wearing this lot of clothes for a while.

Six months… half a year. That’s hard to process. We have a generally cheerful little girl who has a kooky laugh, and who loves pictures of babies and watching videos of the kids from my online birth group. She loves watching Sesame Street while playing in her exersaucer, so that’s part of our current morning routine if she doesn’t sleep past her usual wake-up time of her morning nap. She enjoys watching me spin on the Louet wheel downstairs during Sesame Street, too. She tries to hum when people sing to her, and she adores being bounced and flown around the room. There is a lot more babbling, and she has been working very hard to make raspberry sounds. She gives us fierce hugs when we come home and say hello to her, or after a nap, and she loves giving big sloppy openmouthed baby kisses but only when she chooses to. (Sparky doesn’t let her give him kisses any more, after the one where he pulled back and exclaimed, “Ew, you licked me! I’m all wet!” Her eyes are beginning to change colour. We have no idea which way they’re going to go, but we can see that the colour around the iris is beginning to shift away from the standard baby blue. And in other baby milestone news, Owlet has finally discovered her toes. She grabs them during changes with a cheeky grin, and tries to pick them up while sitting down, so she falls over. She does it again and again, too, especially if there’s embroidery on the hem of her jeans or she’s wearing new socks or shoes. And I’m kind of heartless because I just set her upright and keep laughing when she falls over again. She doesn’t seem upset by falling over… probably because she’s successfully grabbed her toes.

And the teeth. Good gods, the teeth. Dear lower incisors: Please, please, please stop making life awful for everyone. Just come out and join the party already.

The biggest milestone this month (other than rolling over, which she still doesn’t like to do very often, and sitting up, which she prefers to do in the security of the chesterfield or her high chair without leaning against the backrests) is solid food. Oh, how she adores it. She squeals and cranks if we’re too slow with it. If she’s eating something off a spoon she’ll grab the handle and try to take over steering it, and if you won’t let her, she keeps one hand there and pulls the bowl of the spoon into her mouth with the other hand and scoops the food off with her fingers onto her tongue. (That neat, tidy eating she demonstrated in the first few days went out the window as her enthusiasm developed.) If, while eating something that she’s holding on her own like a rusk or a piece of cucumber, she drops it into her chest, she can’t see it any more and she thinks it’s gone, gone forever, and she starts crying. If you’re eating something within her reach she will grab for it, and if you try to fend her off, she’ll think around it and do something like pull the place mat towards her instead. (That’s a scary cognitive leap, by the way.) The day I first offered her roasted acorn squash, she turned into an aggressive roasted acorn squash-chunk-eating machine. Yikes! The little lunges she made at them and the quiet “mmmrrrrrmmmmm” sounds she made to herself while squishing it around in her mouth were hilarious.

The mesh feeder thing is a great concept, but she doesn’t get it at all. It’s like if she can’t see the food, she doesn’t clue into the fact that the mesh end goes in her mouth. And if I show her the food then put it in the feeder she howls, because then the food is gone, woe! She’ll wolf down spoonfuls or chunks from her or our hands happily, but the feeder is only good for chewing on the handle at the moment.

Foods she now eats: rice cereal, barley cereal (both of which are rapidly becoming spurned in favour of Real Food Please Mum), acorn squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, bananas, pears, apples, pancakes, cucumber spears, pizza crusts, bits of homemade scone… we tried carrots but she wasn’t big on them. She is desperate to eat anything someone else is eating; she’d drink tea from my mug if I let her (and don’t think she hasn’t tried, both casually reaching for it as I lower it and lunging for it when my attention is elsewhere). If she doesn’t immediately like something we give it a second try, then put it aside for a couple of weeks. She went crazy for the Baby Mum-Mum rice rusk I gave her, but they’re expensive so I’ve been experimenting with making my own. The commercial ones melt; the ones I’m making (part applesauce, part rice cereal) are hard and good for teething, like baby biscotti. They make a huge brown smeary mess as she gums through them, but they keep her busy and she loves them. We’re doing a mix of roughly fork-mashed stuff and what’s called baby-led weaning, where you put a chunk of steamed whatever or something you’re eating in front of the baby and let her explore it. We’ve skipped purées entirely.

I think I’ve finally figured out her current personal rhythm and schedule. I almost had it, but charting everything pretty intensely over the last couple of weeks has shown me that while I was close, I was missing a bit of the big picture… like the fact that because her afternoon nap was so early (I was putting her down when she was tired) and so short (grr, she’s such a light sleeper), and because we have to be out the door to meet Sparky’s bus at a specific time, she ended up being awake for almost five hours straight before supper. No wonder she was melting down on a semi-regular basis. I knew she was missing sleep because the naps were crazy brief, but I didn’t really get the stress of that length of time awake was putting on her little brain because I didn’t know how long it actually was. So I’ve been working out a new schedule instead of going purely with her biorhythm and cues. I offering her the breast more often (it’s harder to cope with stuff if your tummy is empty); there is a defined morning and afternoon snack; I make her lunch of veggies and cereal a bit earlier so we can have two shorter naps in the afternoon, or we have it after she wakes up from her midday nap instead, depending on how she feels. I offer her nursing as soon as we come home from the boy’s bus stop, and a nap if she didn’t have her second afternoon nap before we went out. It cuts into our time with Sparky, but if she goes down within half an hour (which she does, if she needs it) then he gets my undivided attention for homework and some reading or playing till she wakes up as a trade-off. If she doesn’t go down then, HRH puts her down for a twenty-minute catnap when he gets home before supper, and then she’s much happier at dinner. Just being aware of the time blocks helped a lot, though, and scheduling in an extra morning snack and doing a midday nap instead of trying to put her down in the early afternoon after lunch has made a big difference.

Nights are still hard. We started swaddling her again to stop her from waking herself up by flailing her arms and rubbing her eyes so hard that she scratches herself. She generally sleeps from about seven PM to anywhere between ten-thirty and twelve, at which point she has a proper nursing meal and falls back asleep. Then she wakes up two hours later, has a snack, and falls back asleep, then wakes ninety minutes later for the same, then an hour after that, and then she fusses and drowses and snacks off and on till we get up between seven and seven-thirty. The diminishing blocks of sleep nightly are wearing away at my ability to cope with just about everything. Fragmented sleep is a killer for me. Other than the first waking after her four to six hour stretch, she’s not waking up because she’s hungry; she’s waking up because she reaches a light sleep part of her cycle and wakes up enough to know that she isn’t asleep, and she wants to be comforted.

This has prompted HRH and I to plan transitioning her into sleeping in her own room at night, which had always roughly been the plan when she hit six months. Now, when we went househunting, we looked for one with all the bedrooms on the same floor, but we couldn’t find one within our price range. Both children are on one level, and we are one floor below. This is a bit problematic in connection to this transition. If we move her into her own room alone, we’re going to be up and down the stairs all night as she gets used to it, and in the time it takes us to wake up and get to her she’ll be worked up enough to make getting her back to sleep a lot harder than it would if a parent in the room pats her gently back to sleep when she first starts stirring. So we’re going to move the other twin bed from the bunkbed set into her room for one of us to sleep on until she’s used to sleeping on her own and is down to a single nighttime wakeup. Unfortunately, if I’m the one with her she expects to be nursed, whereas HRH can get her back to sleep in almost no time at all. So it looks like we may be splitting the night at first: I’ll do the first half, and then we’ll switch places so he can get her used to falling back to sleep without me nursing her, and I can get a few hours of proper sleep. (HRH can fall back asleep in about thirty seconds. It is a skill I envy.)

I know all this will pass. It feels like an eternity, but I look at the boy, and I remember teaching him how to sleep properly because he went through the twenty-minute nap phase, too, and I remember how long it felt at the time. We went through it all with him and everyone survived, and even turned out pretty well. It feels like it’s going to be forever when you’re in the middle of it, and it feels as if things never change, but they do, slowly, and for the better.

Happiness is a sunny spot, a soft block, and a cat on your feet.

Imbolc Joy

Dear readers…

Pagan Pregnancy has finally been released. It is an e-book, and there are no plans to publish it in hard copy. But I am so incredibly thankful that it’s at least been made available in any format after four years of waiting! It’s currently out for the Kindle, and it should be appearing on other platforms very soon. (The rest of my backlist is also available in e-book format.) Heartfelt thanks go out to my editor, Andrea, who fought long and hard to get this released after the initial publication was cancelled four years ago.

The bird book (it does have a name… Birds: A Spiritual Field Guide) is also now available, and is a real live book. I’d post photos of my box of author’s copies of the bird book, like I always do when I announce a book’s release, but as I said yesterday the USB ports are dead and I can’t get anything off the camera. Just use your imagination to visualise a box full of books with this gorgeous cover:

Imbolc, a festival of new life and creativity, seems a fitting time to announce these pieces of news, yes?