Monthly Archives: April 2012

What I’ve Read Since Owlet Was Born, October 2011-April 2012

I have been delinquent in keeping track of my reading here on the blog for the past eight months, which is moderately disappointing to me since I use this as a reference all the time. Part of it has been lack of time to write down what I have read; part of it has been I’ve been reading fewer books because I have less time to read in the first place. Books are expensive, so my buying has been really scaled back as we are really strapped for cash; and my library doesn’t often stock the kind of books I want to read. (My mother, on the other hand, has been mailing me her copies of books we both love to read, so it’s like I have a subscription library service! Every once in a while a box with four or five books shows up in the doorstep and I work through its contents over a couple of weeks.)

So in no particular order, here’s what I remember reading, off the top of my head:

With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Folly du Jour by Barbara Cleverly
Blood Royal by Barbara Cleverly
All Wound Up by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James
I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
The Revenant by Sonia Gensler
Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron
How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche
Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History by Bill Laws
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
The Murder Stone by Louise Penny
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse

I reread:
Grand Obsession by Perri Knize
Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
Dime Store Magic by Kelley Armstrong
Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

On my current TBR pile:

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Red Glove by Holly Black
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Kingdoms of Dust by Amanda Downum

I have no doubt I’ve forgotten a dozen books, but this is better than nothing.

Friday Photo Post

You need some pictures, just for the heck of it.

I should save some of these for the nine months old post, but hey, let’s live dangerously and assume we’re going to have more fun pictures to use then. Half of these are from our Easter visit, and half are the last couple of weeks here at home.

Owlet got a classic board book in her Easter basket. You can see how into it she is already:

Last summer Sparky climbed to the bottom branch and hung out there. This spring, he was halfway up the tree:

Sparky and his cousins were making pirate hats and taping them onto their heads while playing before Easter dinner. So they made one for Owlet and taped it on her. It’s certainly the most… unique Easter bonnet I’ve encountered. Very Queen Mum:

Last week we had crazy warm weather, so out came the new summer clothes, and Owlet snacked on half an “ah-full”:

Owlet’s new party trick, as of yesterday: pulling up on people, using their fingers to balance herself as she walks to the nearest chesterfield or table, and cruising along the furniture (eek!):

And finally, Owlet today, just sitting and looking lovely:


Stuff keeps happening, and I don’t have a heck of a lot of time to write it down.

1. I got my first royalty statement yesterday. It freaked me out a bit because I wasn’t expecting it. It came in two parts and was essentially a bunch of numbers and terms I didn’t understand, and I tried to read it while juggling a fussy baby, and no one should ever do anything that requires attention and rational thought while juggling a baby. Eventually I figured out that it was for two different editions of the book. One said I’d made back 1/5th of my advance (in just one month!) and the other said I’d made almost an entire mortgage payment, but it was being applied to more of my advance payment. So I’m about 2/5 of the way in to paying back my advance, after which any money made goes into my pocket. I’m a bit boggled by this. In a good way, of course.

Yes, it’s my first royalty statement. It’s an interesting sensation, because previously I’ve done all my book writing on contract. I like it. I’m looking forward to my next one.

2. Owlet had roseola. We thought the fever, crying a lot, refusing solids and nursing constantly was due to her upper teeth (more on that below) but no; the fever broke, and a day and a half later she developed the rash. I thought it was a teething-related diaper rash, because she’s essentially been a waterfall this past week and the rash started on her bum, but then it spread to her legs, and the next day it was on her arms and face. It wasn’t itchy and there were no other symptoms. It’s pretty much gone now. I didn’t bother with the doctor because it happened on the weekend, her receptionist isn’t in on Mondays, and by the time I got an appointment it would be over (as it is). Also, it’s a virus, so there’s not much we could have done anyway. This is the second time Owlet has come down with something five to seven days after we drive home from visiting my parents; I think she’s picking stuff up at the rest stops, probably from the changing tables. I’m going to carry antibacterial wipes or spray to wipe them down before we use them from now on. Even better, with the weather warmer, we can change her in the car or on a picnic blanket outside.

Sparky had the sudden fever last night, and a couple of hours later I started with the body aches, sore throat, and hot/cold thing. He woke up this morning with his temperature just about normal again, so off he went to school. HRH handled him this morning and took him to the bus stop, for which I was deeply grateful because I could barely move. I napped with Owlet this morning, and woke up feeling much better. I don’t know if what we have is connected to the roseola or if it’s something else, but I am so tired of everyone being sick.

3. The teeth. Urg, the teeth. All four up top are swollen and descending. Now those two centre upper incisors are so close to being through. We can see the actual teeth through a very thin layer of skin.

4. The concert was wonderful. We had just about a full house. There was birthday cake at the intermission, and the audience sang happy birthday to us at the end, and the music went really well. The end of the Wagner was particularly magical, and the Beethoven felt like a train that just wasn’t going to stop or slow down for anyone. (I suppose the term for that would be ‘inexorable,’ wouldn’t it. Which is particularly appropriate for the Fifth.) As usual, there was easy stuff I flubbed that I’d never missed before, and hard stuff that I didn’t expect to get that I managed on the fly. Sitting in the back is hard; I can’t clearly see the conductor, or the principal’s bowing, so I end up listening to the orchestra for a lot of my cues. (I’m good at using aural cues for my entrances; in fact, I trust my aural cues more than my counting.) I mentioned that to my teacher this past weekend and she said, “Sitting at the front of the section is easy; you need to be a really good cellist to sit at the back,” which was really nice to hear. And the second half of the concert was a challenge because I couldn’t get my endpin to a comfortable height; I was slightly off all the time, and that played havoc with my intonation. But all in all I’m happy with how I did, considering that I missed just under half the rehearsals and have had no more than a hour or so a week to practice. Our next concert is July 1, of course, and it will have a Northern theme: Finlandia, Peer Gynt, the Ruslan & Ludmila overture, and so forth.

5. Sparky outgrew his bike before learning to ride it properly. He’s a perfectionist, so if he doesn’t think he can do it right or if he’s afraid of falling or failing or whatever, he just won’t do it; he says there’s something else he’d like to do instead, or says he’s tired, that sort of thing. We got the bike out the other week, put the seat and handlebars up, and no go; he’s just way too tall. HRH’s parents will be buying him a new one as an early birthday gift.

6. Sparky has also become a Pokemon fan. The kids at school know all about it and they’ve been playing Pokemon on the playground at recess and lunch, so he kept coming home with all sorts of facts and exciting information. So for the trip down to see my parents at Easter I dug out my DS and the sole Pokemon game I ever played, and he was thrilled. He is taking very good care of it, is having lots of fun, and learning valuable lessons about not hitting buttons when you don’t understand what they do (he accidentally released his starting Pokemon instead of putting it a storage box and was devastated, so we restarted the game from his last saved point), and saving often so you don’t lose a whole day’s activity.

7. We have daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths in the garden. The crocuses are over. And we already have tiny buds that will be flowers on the crabapple tree we planted last year in front of Sparky’s window. We’re getting another tree for this year’s Earth Day tree giveaway that our city does, and we’ll plant it in front of Owlet’s window.

Baby’s awake. That’s all for now.

Spring Concert Announcement, 40th Anniversary Edition!

Huzzah, it is spring! This means that yes, the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra’s spring concert is on the near horizon! This concert’s theme is a celebration of the orchestra’s fortieth season.

So circle Saturday the 14th of April on your calendars, gentle readers. (That’s this Saturday!) At 19h30 in the Valois United Church in Pointe-Claire (70 Belmont Ave., between King and Queen), the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra will present the following works:

    Mozart’s Serenata Notturna (Serenade for Orchestra No. 6 in D major, K. 239)
    Corelli’s Pastorale from the Concerto grosso in G minor, Op. 6, No. 8 (Christmas Concerto)
    The Lonely Maiden (traditional, arranged by Andres Gutmanis)
    Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll
    Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

Admission is $10 per person; admission is free for those under 18 years of age. The concerts usually last approximately two hours, including the refreshment break. There are driving directions and public transport info on the church website. I usually encourage people who are vehicle-less to find someone who has a car and share the cost of the driver’s admission to the concert among them. It’s more fun to enjoy the evening in the company of others, after all. And it bears repeating that children of all ages are very welcome indeed.

We’d love to see you there!

Owlet: Eight Months Old!

Did you blink and miss the first eight months? Sometimes we think we did.

The big news is that Owlet is Sleeping Through the Night. In casual medical parlance that means five or six hours between eleven PM and six AM. Well, she was doing that, with two wakeups… and then suddenly she wasn’t. She was sleeping ten or eleven hours straight. Which is just fine with us, thank you! Sleep maturity is a wonderful thing, and it happens differently for every child. It’s also not permanent; it will fluctuate and shift according to developmental stages and external circumstances and stresses. But for now, we are very, very happy. At the moment I’m still sleeping in her room, because when she does wake up after those ten or eleven hours, hoo boy, she is hungry and cranky and has a very wet diaper that she detests and wants out of right now. The extra time it would take me to wake up enough to hear her over the monitor, stumble out of bed, get up the stairs and into her room just isn’t worth the screaming right now. Roughly, the night goes like this: She sleeps about ten hours a night, from six-thirty or seven to fourish AM. She feeds somewhere between three and five, then goes back to sleep till six or seven. We’ve had our hiccoughs, of course, like the night where she was up every two hours, or the other night where she refused to go to sleep for two hours and insisted on nursing sessions and cuddles and rocking, but as a rule, this is the new normal (for now).

She’s been sleeping on her tummy, though we do put her down on her back. We put her down drowsy or only in a light sleep most of the time, and she can usually fall asleep on her own. Other times she hyperextends in a stretch backwards while being put down and wakes herself up completely and is not happy about it, or knocks about in her crib for a while, wiggling around and babbling to her stuffed animals or her blankets before falling asleep on her tummy. Sometimes she squirms while she’s asleep and wakes herself up because she’s gotten herself stuck across her crib. (Which is kind of funny, although not at all from her point of view.) Unlike Sparky, who needed to be rocked and soothed to sleep for pretty much every nap and night, but was fine once he was asleep, Owlet falls asleep relatively easily, but wakes up a lot more often than her brother did. Naps are still tricky, although they’re starting to resolve into one nap both morning and afternoon, anywhere from an hour to ninety minutes long. (Except when they’re not.)

She’s made some great physical leaps forward, too. I woke up one night to feed her and found her raising herself up onto hands and knees, then lowering herself back down to her tummy, then lifting herself up again and rocking back and forth on all fours. In other words, she was prepping for crawling. She’s been slow getting that lovely round tummy off the ground, and really, we shouldn’t be surprised. She’s become very stable when sitting up, too, and can reach in all directions to grab things. It’s so much easier to get her dressed to go out then sit her on the floor by the front door while I put my own coat and shoes on, instead of lying her flat on a blanket somewhere. She’s also been working hard on pulling herself up to standing position using the arm of the settee or someone’s fingers (not being pulled up, using them as leverage). She loves to stand, and has been doing it with flat feet some of the time instead of on tippy-toe. She pulled herself up using the bottom bar of her crib a few days ago. I had to take off her socks and roll up her pants so she had a better grip with her feet, but she did it. She bounced on her feet, looking very pleased with herself, considered cruising, got as far as moving her hands over, then decided that maybe that was enough and let go with one hand. She swung down and pivoted because she was still holding on with the other hand, and sat down on her bum, boom! She was very pleased. And then she was immediately overwhelmed by the experience and begged to nurse and nap.

Teething has begun again. This past week has been rather cranky on that front, although she’s still one of the most tolerant children I’ve encountered regarding teething pain. She’s generally her usual happy self just quicker to grizzle, but sometimes she just can’t be happy any more because things hurt too much, and then she cries in frustration because she doesn’t feel like she usually does. She caught my finger in her mouth today and I could feel her upper incisors like pencil erasers stuck on the front of her upper jawbone, the poor thing, so we are desperately hoping that it cuts soon.

New foods this past month include peaches, pear slices, shredded roast chicken, Greek yoghurt, peas (again), carrots (also again), fried tofu, pizza crusts, spaghetti, and, oh my, yes, CHEERIOS. Cheerios are the gods’ gift to babies, and she adores them. We introduced the sippy cup, too, which is a wonderful toy. I’d forgotten how hard it is to teach a baby to lift it up high enough to get the liquid inside to reach the mouth. She got to taste a slice of smoked turkey from the deli, too, which she gobbled up, though sliced meats aren’t high on my list of good things to feed tiny persons just yet; they’re too high in sodium and nitrates.

The new section we can add to this month’s report is words. Owlet starting saying “Mahm’a” last week, and she has a very similar sound that’s more of a “meh” that I think means milk (she’s back to sticking her tongue out and lapping like a little cat when she wants to nurse, too, which is when she usually says it). Sometimes she stuffs her hand in her mouth when I think she gets hungry, which may be a version of the fingers to the mouth sign that means “food,” but I can’t tell if that’s associated with hunger or the teething at this point. Yesterday she very clearly said “MOE!” at lunch, when I was too slow loading rice and squash on a spoon and handing it to her. I got excited and kept asking, “Do you want more?” when I got the spoon back, but all I got was impatient hand banging on the tray or big grins because yay, she was eating, and oh goodness she loves to eat. I listened to her quietly say, “Mama, Mama, Mama” over and over to herself via the intercom while she wiggled about the other night, and it was a wonderful feeling.

Playing peek-a-boo continues. And she made up a game in which she puts things on top of her head. Bibs, washcloths, small toys, socks… it wasn’t a game at first, just something she did matter of factly. Then she noticed us laughing, and now she does it with a smile and a peek at us if she knows we’re watching. She sometimes still does it matter of factly on her own, though, as if she’s testing something.

We’ve given up on any clothes marked 12 months or smaller. However, most of the 12-18 month size clothes we have are summer dresses, mainly sundresses at that. So I think I’m going to need to find a few long- and short-sleeve basic t-shirts to wear under them. And that way we don’t have to worry about wiggling pants that are too long and too narrow over her cloth diapers, either. Bless stretchy leggings, for they have been our salvation…

To The Jerk Who Tossed Our Car

Hey, punk.

I get it. You were probably with some friends, feeling big and dangerous, and you tried car doors all down the street. And for some unfathomable reason — we always lock our doors — ours opened.

You tossed the car looking for stuff of value. You didn’t take the registration or the insurance, or the car itself, and that’s how we know you were a kid, not a serious thief. You left it a mess, but you didn’t break anything, and you only took one thing.

The FM transmitter for our iPod.

Our first one broke about ten months ago, and I’ve been without one for that long, because sure, they’re only about forty bucks, but we didn’t have that money for something that wasn’t groceries or bills. We got another one on sale just two weeks ago, so I could finally listen to my orchestra work on the way to rehearsal again, and we could listen to the Harry Potter audiobook we got. We have another eight-hour trip coming up this weekend, and we were really looking forward to that audiobook. It was going to be a huge treat for the whole family.

We work really hard for what little we have, and we work by the rules. And in a couple of minutes, you ruined that. And you know when we found out? At the end of a day where we had finally decided, after a lot of angst, that yes, we could afford the gas to drive to visit my parents for Easter weekend, so that our kids could see the grandparents they only see about five times a year. It was also the day where after we’d made that decision, I discovered that one of my little cats is sick, possibly very, very sick, and had a crisis because I couldn’t afford to both take that trip and take the cat to the vet. Friends stepped in (many friends offered their help, and I love them all so very much for their caring and support) and now I can do both. But it was a really, really bad day. Then you made it worse when we found that you’d invaded our privacy and taken the one thing that has made my life in the car a lot more bearable after months of frustration. Add the sense of violation and anger at feeling ineffective to it all, and you’ve got what my day was like.

One good thing has come of this. We now know that the wonky driver’s side master locking switch is officially fried and unreliable, despite its helpful beeps that say it’s working, which means we’ll have to walk around the car, open the passenger side door, and use that one. I suppose I should be thankful that you didn’t steal the CDs (although most of them are copies because I don’t like taking originals in the car, as they get scratched), or the kids’ car seats, which would have put paid to any travel anywhere. But you know what? I find it really, really hard to be thankful for anything associated with this.

In closing, I hope that the moment you plug that transmitter into a car it blows out the whole electric system of the vehicle, and you have to pay a craptonne of money to repair it. I hope it fries whatever MP3 player you plug into it. I hope that bad luck dogs every step you take, because you stole a $40 bit of electronic equipment that a family down on its luck saved up to buy, to give themselves a bit of sunshine in their stressful lives.

LATER: Fortuitously found a cheap replacement FM transmitter in a flyer that just arrived for a discount electronics place around the corner. Shall check it out tomorrow. I refuse to let this get me down.