Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mundane Concerns

I keep thinking up things I’d like to say on the blog, usually in the middle of the night, and then forgetting them.

Here’s one of the idle things. My shoes don’t fit me any more. There’s a certain amount of swelling that happens while you’re pregnant, and that’s to be expected, but one of the after-effects of the relaxin hormone that allows your skeleton to loosen and accommodate the physical changes required during the pregnancy and delivery is that your skeletal structure doesn’t quite return to its original shape afterwards; it stays a bit looser. And one of the most commonly affected areas is the feet, which isn’t a surprise because you’re carrying however many pounds of yourself around on them. My first pregnancy affected my feet a bit, but the second has had a much more drastic effect. Or maybe it’s just cumulative.

I don’t wear shoes out unless I wear them for about fifteen years. This means I have about six pairs that I wear semi-regularly in rotation, and they’re all in great shape. My feet are hard to fit for shoes to begin with because they are long and narrow, so if I find a shoe that fits the length it’s usually too wide for me. When I get a shoe that I can actually wear I am thrilled and thankful, and even those usually need padding in certain places or some stretching to fit my foot shape. The problem now, though, is that these shoes don’t fit me any more because suddenly the front half of my foot is wider (but the heel area isn’t, which was already a problem before my pregnancies) and a wee bit longer. This fact breaks my heart because my two pairs of red shoes are among them, plus a couple of others I adore but don’t wear often.

So I am researching stretching techniques and trying to remember to find a pair of two-way stretchers in order to salvage my footwear, because I don’t have the money to buy new shoes, I hate shoe shopping to begin with because nothing fits me properly (especially the shoes that I fall in love with), and I have perfectly good shoes in the front hall closet.

I am also somewhat disappointed that my vision, which improved during my pregnancy to the point where wearing my glasses actually gave me a headache and made my vision worse, returned to normal-for-me after Owlet was born. Oh, well. I’ve been using the same prescription for four or five years now, too, so I’m due for a new check-up. If I ever get work again, maybe I will get new frames if my prescription has changed, too.

In Which There Is Hope For Cello

I made the decision to get to every rehearsal between now and the upcoming concert (April 14, gentle readers) to preserve my sanity and help shore up my self-esteem in matters musical. I’m still fumbling through lots of the Beethoven, but I feel a lot better about it after having a conversation with some of the section and our conductor. Apparently the cello section of the youth orchestra he also conducts does the fifth symphony as sectional work every year to keep it sharp, otherwise it would fall apart when they eventually get to programming it. I find that incredibly reassuring. We’re coming to it cold and chipping away at it in a couple of months. It also helped a great deal to have the conductor look at me and say that we were actually in a pretty good place, all things considered.

For some reason, the Wagner falls more easily under my fingers than the Beethoven, and I never thought I’d say that. I’m fine in the first and final movements of the symphony, but the middle two are just gah. My fingers keep tangling up. Sometimes I think Beethoven is the sole reason cellists should memorize scales. I’ve reminded myself that in my first years with the orchestra I would only play the first note in a sequence of four eighth or sixteenth notes in fast passage work, and I’m allowing myself to default to that on the fly. It helps a bit.

I got an hour to practice on my own this weekend, while HRH took the kids and… did something with them, possibly watched a movie. No idea. It was just me upstairs with my cello, and a lot of frustrating sticky notes and pencil scribblings on my music, sounding pretty awful. But I was marginally better at rehearsal, so it obviously did some good.

In non-orchestra material, I’m working on Allegro Moderato, the last piece in the third Suzuki book, and it’s fine… all except bars 30 and 31. I just can’t seem to internalize the modulation so that I have the note firmly in my head before I shift, and because I don’t know what the note is supposed to sound like I’m not secure in my shift and I miss the intonation by almost a semitone. I can play the notes separately in separate bows in first position, but as soon as I move to slurred notes and playing in position (I’m using the alternate fingerings), it all goes out the window. Gnarr. I have no idea if I’m playing a solo in the June recital or not, but if I am this is it.

Our conductor gave us a preview of what the July concert will be like. It’s to have a northern theme, with the Ruslan and Lyudmila overture (nooooo!), the Peer Gynt suite, and other things I missed because I was too busy having a conniption at the R & L overture part. I really enjoy playing the Peer Gynt suite, though.

Catch Up

The flight was fun, and Sparky was thrilled with it all and very well behaved. Apparently he handled it all like an old pro. (Genetic memory?) Owlet travelled decently on our drive down to join him at my parents’ place, but needed me back there with her for the second half of the trip. Coming back was easier (though I expected it to be harder balancing two bored, cranky kids) because Sparky entertained her by just being himself and giving her company. There’s a whole different rhythm to travelling with a baby that I’d forgotten about — you stop every ninety minutes to two hours just to get out of the car and feed them, give them a change of environment, that sort of thing. Good thing she’s half on solids now, because nursing was pretty much a washout as there was way too much to look at. Naps go right out the window, because you gauge your rest stops by if baby’s sleeping, and inevitably they wake up five minutes after you pass one and the next isn’t for another hour… but all things considered, it went well. Sleeping went okay at my parents’ house, too, after the first night where she spent all but the first hour or two in bed with us. The last night she did her usual two wakeups to nurse and went back to sleep in her own bed each time. Of course, back home she was all off again, waking up every hour or so the first night and finally spending the last few hours in bed with me. And there was no morning nap the next day, despite trying twice. But it’s okay; we’ve been going with the flow and are slowly settling in, riding out the bumpy bits that are appearing at odd times.

We had a lovely trip. The weather was great, and the kids were cheerful and well behaved. We saw my cousin and his family (who are moving to BC this summer, so we won’t get to see them often any more). We ate piles and piles of my mother’s delicious food. On Sunday Sparky went with Nana to the aircraft museum where my dad works so HRH, Owlet, and I got to do a quick run to the used baby clothes store and score some stretchy leggings that fit her because suddenly none of her pants are big enough. (PSA: Just give up on buying 12mos size clothes, people. Grandma recently bought two gorgeous 12mos tops for Owlet, and one barely fits, while the other — the one I like more, which figures — doesn’t at all. Both looked plenty large enough, so I give up.)

She’s not the only one whose clothes need replacing. Thank goodness the weather has turned and the boy is wearing splash pants and his raincoat, because his snowsuit is shot. Today we had to send him back to his room twice because both the original pair of pants and the second pair he tried to put on were too short. At least Owlet has boxes of summer dresses waiting for her, which I may switch her into early and put leggings and long-sleeve shirts underneath.

In news about me, I have a fully functional Mac mini again, thanks to the tireless efforts of HRH and the Mac tech at work in combining the one with the failing logic board and the slower, smaller one. They maxed the RAM, which pretty much balances out the slightly slower processor. I have a new to me monitor as well, thanks to Molly Ann. It is such a relief to be able to sync my phone and back stuff up again. The only down side is that the optical drive in the Ariadne mini burns CDs only, so my stack of DVD RWs isn’t much use to me any more. In other news, my client finally got back to me after I sent them a formal message about invoicing them for the work I broke my back to get them on deadline day and to which they didn’t respond at all, and I think I’ve been sidelined. Their reason for not responding to me for two weeks was that they were moving, and the things they asked for quotes actually needed more work, and if they needed me they’d let me know. Whatever. I just wish I hadn’t turned away the project from my publisher because the new client indicated they only needed approval and a purchase order number for the important book-length project before I started on that. It would have been tight time-wise, and frustrating because I’d have been working on the rickety, crashy laptop, but I’d have had work and money by now.

I miss cello dreadfully. I remember now that there was a gap of no-cello-at-all when Sparky was born because I either couldn’t fit practice time in or couldn’t practice because he’d wake up. The location of Owlet’s bedroom and the small footprint of our house means that I can’t practice upstairs or downstairs while she’s asleep, and she only sits and listens to me for about five minutes if I plunk her in a chair upstairs and practice with her right there. Having to drop my private lessons to every two weeks and then stop entirely has depressed me and is eroding my skills, and doing orchestra only every two weeks because we can’t afford the gas to get me out there is awful. I’m walking out of every rehearsal pretty demoralised because I just can’t stay on top of things, and we’re playing stuff that demands a lot of focus and precision. I think I’m going to try to make every rehearsal from now till the concert (which is is ONE MONTH, peoples: April 14! mark your calendars!), just to make sure I absorb as much direction as possible. Part of me wants to give it up to eliminate the stress, but then I’d be giving up the one thing left that I have to get me out of the house sans baby, and also the one cello-related thing left in my life at the moment, and I’m too stubborn to do that.

Our bulbs are poking their wee green heads up in the gardens, and we are very much looking forward to actually gardening this year. Go spring!

Okay, baby’s awake. Off we go on errands.

Growing Up

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is letting your kids make mistakes so they can figure out how to fix them. Tied to this is the need to let them do things on their own.

Today I kissed my son, gave him a hug, and watched him walk through airport security with his black and white stuffed bunny and his Nana, on his way to visit his maternal grandparents.

I am very excited for him. We all talked about what to expect, and he’s very excited too, as well as being very confident about the experience. There’s a streak of nervousness throughout his excitement, though, that worries me a bit. I won’t be there to hold his hand when the noise and pressure and the new experience get a bit too much. I won’t be the one reading to him and cuddling him in bed tonight. This is the kid who sometimes calls us to come get him from birthday parties because he misses us (that’s kid code for “I’m not feeling comfortable and I want my familiar surroundings back, and that includes people”) so I may be more nervous about him feeling homesick than taking his first plane ride. Not being able to take away a child’s heart-hurt like that is what can drive a parent round the bend.

I told him to call me when he got to Nana and Granddad’s house to tell me all about it. “I’ll try!” he chirped. And from where Owlet and I positioned ourselves, we could see him and Nana put their coats and bags in the bins to go through the security x-ray, and we saw him go through the sensor, and then Nana (who got the extra wand search because her hip replacement always sets it off)… and then they were out of my sight. Owlet and I wandered the airport for a bit (hello bookstore! why do you not have any books I want?) before driving home, just in case there was a problem and I needed to take them back home, but my cellphone was silent.

I know he’s having a blast. They should be landing any minute now, and Granddad will be there to meet them at the other end. I’m so proud of my boy. I miss him already, though, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again tomorrow afternoon, getting a huge hug, and hearing all about his experience in person.

And somehow, I also feel the way I did on his first day of kindergarten, when he climbed onto the school bus for the first time and rode away, waving at me with a big smile. He’s growing up. And he’s not the only one. Apparently one continues to level up as a parent, too, every time you let your children grow up a bit more.

We Regret To Announce…

… that Owlet did not, in fact, repeat the five-hour stretch of sleep last night.

Instead, she slept for ten and a half hours.

Then she was up for her usual two hours, albeit an hour and a bit earlier than usual, and then, like clockwork, started rubbing her eyes and grizzling for a bit of nursing and her first morning nap. She fell asleep at 7:45, which means that nap is clocking in at 75 minutes right now, although I hear her moving into lighter sleep. I was honestly expecting a twenty-minute nap, as usual.

If this were not March break, the timing would be problematic, since we usually have to be walking to Sparky’s bus stop at 8:20. But Sparky is currently watching cartoons on PBS, so we’re just going with it.

It was really nice to spend time with HRH this morning before he left for work. Owlet was so incredibly smiley and relaxed after a beautiful night of rest. And I cannot deny that after dealing with waking up every two hours for I don’t know how long now, a solid stretch of sleep from ten-thirty till five-forty was absolute bliss.

Is she heading into a growth spurt? (Oh, please, yes; let her stretch out a bit, after eating like a small horse and packing the pounds on for a while.) Is her light/deep sleep pattern just finally starting to mature a bit more? Who knows? What I do know is that this is most likely a one-off, and we’re still going to have the general waking-at-the-light-sleep-part-of-the-cycle during naps and nights, so I am not expecting miracles or even any significant change. I also know that our road trip this weekend is going to probably smash any chance of this settling into the rule rather than the exception. That’s okay. We know she’s capable of long stretches of sleep now. On one hand, that’s grounds for being all the more frustrated when she doesn’t do it when we’re tired and cranky; but on the other hand, it’s a promise of a better things to come, whenever that may be.

(See how rational and positive I can be when I’ve had sleep?)

Owlet: Seven Months Old!

Where did our waif go?

Somebody jumped from the 10th percentile at eight weeks (oh noes, she’s not gaining enough weight, we’re really worried about her…), to the 25th percentile at four months, to the NINETY-FIFTH PERCENTILE at six months (although really, she was five days short of seven months at the appointment). We have twenty pounds and one ounce of Owlet. No wonder I could barely handle the infant car seat any more! We officially moved up to the next size of car seat this past weekend, which brings with it its own host of issues like Owlet sitting on her own in grocery carts and so forth, with which she is not entirely comfortable yet.

So much happens in a month. The things that happened more recently are more present in my memory than the ones that happened thirty days ago. For example: Broccoli is the best thing ever!!11!1eleventy! Except roast potatoes were the best thing ever about four weeks ago, and two weeks after that it was green beans that were the bee’s knees, and so on. Since we’re already talking about food, this past month she has added green beans, oatmeal, roast potatoes, toast, broccoli, carrot sticks, mixed grain cereal, and yoghurt to her already rather varied diet. Generally I steam the veggies a bit and cut them into sticks, and she goes to town on them. She just adores food, any food, all food: she is so excited about it. Witness how enthusiastic about her first taste of broccoli was last Friday:

We introduced her to Baby Mum-Mums, the ubiquitous rice rusks that essentially melt as soon as they hit the tongue, and she is, as I feared, insane for them, and can recognise the package and throw a fit if she doesn’t get one after seeing them. They’re like potato chips for babies: they can’t have just one. They are reserved for treats, and she gets one when Sparky comes home from school and has his snack. She loves to eat with other people; it’s a huge social inclusive thing, so she feels very important sitting eating her rusk while Sparky has his cookie and milk. Toast serves much the same function when we’re at the table.

A week ago she figured out peekaboo on her own; it was like someone flipped a switch. It’s so much fun to watch her figure stuff out. A few weeks ago it was playing with her tummy turtle, a toy that has a mirror in its tummy so when the baby has tummy time they can look into it. I happened to be on the floor with her and she saw me in the mirror, then she angled the mirror again so she could see only herself, then again so she could see me, and so forth. Every time she moved it she’d look over her shoulder to see me in real life, to see if I’d moved, too.

She is dragging herself around with her hands and wriggling to get from point A to point B now, too. Crawling will happen in the next couple of weeks, we think. She loves tummy time; I can put her down on a blanket in her room with a box of toys on its side and she plays quietly for fifteen to twenty minutes, pulling things out and exploring them. She’s very social, however, and if other people are around she demands to be with them.

Sleeping in her own room continues to go well enough. Naps are still tricky at the twenty- and forty-minute marks, and if we can get past those she sleeps for over an hour or two. Nights generally are four to five hours of sleep before midnight, then three, then two, then she’s awake for the day, but after a horrible night of gastro last week she’s regressed to waking up every hour to two hours. Except last night, when she celebrated turning seven months old by sleeping five hours straight as of 11:30 PM, which, in casual medical parlance, is called ‘sleeping through the night.’ We shall see if she can repeat it.

In general, her day looks something like this: She wakes between 6:30 and 7:00 and nurses, then is up and playing and socialising until we take Sparky to his bus stop at 8:20. We’re home at 8:30 and she’s cranky for her bottle and bed, which happens around 8:40. This nap lasts anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Then it’s usually some more hanging out or watching Sesame Street if she’s awake in time. If she wakes early then there’s a snack of nursing or a rice rusk around 10:00. Lunch is a bowl of cereal and a pile of finger food, and happens between 11:00 and 11:30, after which she gets a small bottle and goes to sleep again. This second nap is usually about 30 to 40 minutes long, though there are the days where she throws a curve into plans for errands or such and sleeps for 2 hours. (Never on the days where she has a long nap in the morning, though.) Then it’s up and finding things to do till it’s either time for a quick nap at 3:00 (if it was a short midday nap) or going out at 3:40 to meet Sparky’s bus (if it was a longer nap). We’re home from the bus stop at 4:00, and she has a snack of rice rusks while Sparky has his own after-school snack, and then if she didn’t have a nap before we went out then she gets one between snack and supper, or supper is a nightmare for everyone. She usually has a twenty-minute catnap, and is fine for supper at 6:00, after which we have another small bottle chaser of milk, and then bedtime is between 6:30 and 7:00. There is a lot of fluidity in the daily schedule because the length of her naps are so unpredictable, which makes it really frustrating to try to plan things. The multiple brief naps are crazy-making in a lot of other ways, too, because I don’t have enough time to do more than toss a load of laundry into the machine. I’m very solitary by nature, too, and not having a social break from another person, however small and dependent, is really wearing. I feel like I spend my whole day trying to get her to sleep. And she does need sleep, or she’s miserable.

She adores jumping in her exersaucers. We tried a Jolly Jumper but we can’t get it short enough for her body to be in the optimal position. Her weight pulls it too close to the floor and her legs end up too bent. We started showing her the younger Baby Einstein DVDs here and there, too, and she loves those as well.

She has turned into a little chatterbox, constantly murmeling, whispering, and vocalizing in various ways. Shrieking was thankfully brief. She beeps and natters away to herself while wiggling around her crib when she wakes up from a nap if she’s had enough sleep; if she hasn’t she jumps straight to crying. She has a really fun gurgly belly laugh.

She completely lights up when HRH comes in the door at the end of the day. She fights to stand up on the sofa and hold on to the back so she can look over it and watch him get his coat off, bouncing up and down till he cones over and picks her up. Then she turns to me and gives me a lovely smile as if to say, I love you, Mum, and we had fun today but I’ve got my Daddy now and he is mine! And that’s usually fine by me, because by that point it’s always nice to not have a small squirmy limpet clinging to me in some way. She loves Sparky just as much. If he’s reading she wants to be next to him to listen and help turn pages. If he’s having a snack, she has to have one, too. The sun rises and sets in his eyes.

When we read books she touches all the pictures, but she doesn’t do it the way Sparky did, with a finger or the fingertips. She puts her whole palm down on the page and moves her hand around, like it’s absorbing information. She does it rather methodically, too; it’s not random.

So many babies in our online birth group are crawling, pulling up, or even — eep! — walking, but Owlet is happy not doing any of that. She didn’t even roll very much till this past week, although now she is the Incredible Flippy Baby when we put her down for a diaper change (goodbye changing table, hello bed). If I were less laid back about development I might be worried. But I know that those babies are early, and we’re doing just fine. Owlet is almost exactly following Sparky’s developmental schedule, actually, which I find interesting.

I’ve given up on any clothes that are smaller than 12 months, because I know the 12 mos ones will fit, whereas anything else sized between 6 and 12 months has zero guarantee and a very slim chance of fitting. I’m a bit wistful, actually. My doctor was delighted with the roly-poly baby with the rolls of fat, and I love to cuddle and squish her, but I miss my more delicate girl. How’s that for a shallow first world problem? I know she’s bulking up for a stretching growth period, though, and I know when she starts crawling it will burn off, too.

Photobombed by Sophie the Giraffe:

Ahem: again, please? Without the giraffe?