Daily Archives: September 5, 2012

Ups and Downs

Things have been trudging along.

Work-wise, things are hopping. This is Good for the keeping busy (like I am not busy enough already) and for making money, but Bad for sleep and time management. I did a crazy amount of work over Labour Day weekend, and HRH took election day off to kid-wrangle so I could work, too. I invoiced for the novel last night, and it was a 35-hour job. It was a huge invoice, the biggest I’ve ever submitted, but I did a lot and I wasn’t going to scale the invoice down to avoid looking like I was overcharging. This morning I got a thank you from the copy chief, for my attention to detail, my stylesheet, and my memo to the editor. Apparently I am unique in these latter two things, something that kind of makes me go “huh?”. Sure, I’ve never done a stylesheet before, but that’s because all my previous edits have been to CMoS style or house style, if it differs from CMoS somehow, so it wasn’t necessary. This time, it was definitely required because I did some book-specific formatting that needed to be pointed out and explained to layout/editors/author, so I made it. And no one other than I writes memos to the editors, explaining key changes or areas that need to be looked at? Really? It just seems like a very intelligent idea to me, as well as polite, so I do it every time. And evidently they like me for it, so yay team me!

In the Bad column, Nixie has not been well again. She’s had some kind of abscess on her chest that drained on its own, and seems to be healing, but it was messy and not great for a little while, and we were pretty close to thinking that was that. She’s perked up again, which is nice, but we’re keeping a close eye on her. I was exploring her stomach the other night and thought I’d found another abscess, then I realised that it was the scar tissue from her surgery earlier this year. Whew.

Also in the Bad column, last Friday my sewing machine broke. There was a huge clunk and now the thread take-up is jammed into the machine, and seems to no longer be connected to anything inside when I open the faceplate and check things out. I turn the wheel and everything moves except that. I admit that I cried when I tried everything I could to fix it and nothing worked. I can’t afford to have it fixed. It broke while sewing replacement Velcro to an all-in-one diaper, a slow ongoing project I’ve been handling for the past couple of months because I can’t afford to buy new diapers, not even secondhand ones. I was only halfway done the twelve I have of this style that needed the Velcro replaced; the ones that need to be overhauled have just been sitting in a pile unused all summer because they don’t stay fastened anymore. I hate that when I’m trying to save money, something happens to make it worse. It was so incredibly frustrating. To fix it would likely be at least a hundred dollars — sewing machine repair does not come cheap — for a basic checkup, cleaning, and labour, and that’s assuming it’s a simple fix that doesn’t require a replacement part of some kind. It means buying a new one would make more sense, which also frustrates me, because I try to repair things instead of replacing them, and this disposable culture does not facilitate that. So I started searching secondhand listings and bookmarking potential machines to follow up on when I got a bit of extra cash. (That wasn’t looking good, either.)

In the Good column — no scratch that; in the Stupendously Amazing column, UPS knocked at my door this morning and had me sign for an enormous box. It was a new sewing machine, purchased for me by my online friends from the July 2011 Moms group I’m a member of through Ravelry. I sat down and cried again, but for a very different reason. I’m so close to these women, and most of us have never even met. We talk about good things and bad things that happen to us, share news about our kids, support one another, and have fun together. We’ve pulled together to help one another, too, now and again; I just never expected it to be directed at me like this. I am so very blessed to have friends who help me when I’m down. I haven’t even opened the actual machine yet. It is so beautiful, and has so many fancy stitches, and I promise to get it tuned up every year or so so that I will have it for years and years to come. It has something like forty stitches programmed into it. I think it has more memory in it than the first computer my family bought back in ’89.

And finally, to cap off the Good column, I FOUND MY MISSING LIBRARY BOOK! I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here. In early July, a book I’d borrowed went missing. It just vanished. It wasn’t on the shelf where I keep our library books, it wasn’t on any other bookshelf in the house, it wasn’t in either of the kids’ rooms, and I never take library books out of the house… it had just disappeared. I renewed it the maximum number of times I was allowed and kept looking for it, to no avail. It drove me absolutely crazy. Finally, last Friday, I went to the library and told them that it was lost, and learned that replacement value was going to be $27. It really rankled that I had to pay $27 for a book that I hadn’t finished, and hadn’t even been enjoying overmuch, and life being what it is, I knew that the odds of finding it right after I’d paid for it were high, so I’d end up owning a book I felt meh about. I was going to go to the bank the next day to get the money, as it was the final due date. That morning, I saw Owlet kick a piece of Lego under the bookcase in the hall. I hadn’t known there was a slim space under it; I thought the front of the base went all the way to the floor. I lay down to reach underneath and get the Lego, and I found the missing book. (I know what happened, too: Owlet pulls the books off the library shelf, so it probably fell, and she kicked it under the shelf by accident just like she accidentally kicked the Lego. I also found a plastic turtle under there.) So I saved the $27 replacement fee, and I got the smug satisfaction of knowing that I didn’t lose it after all! I knew it was in the house somewhere.

Bonus Good thing: Today I got the cheque for my second freelance project that I finished at the end of July. Whew. It will be another five weeks before I get another one, so this smallish one has to last. (That’s a nice thought, but it will be gone in about ten days to pay bills. Still! Better to have it and finally be able to pay them, right?)

Owlet turned thirteen months old yesterday. I have a skeleton of her monthly post in a file, but I can’t finish it till Friday. Actually, there’s a lot that I can do again as of Friday, when I have handed in all my current work. This post was sketches and Tweets and Ravelry posts, collected together for posterity, pieced together during five-minute breaks, but the monthly posts are too complicated for that.

Sparky’s New School

So last Wednesday (yeah, I’ve been busy, more on that later) was Sparky’s first day at his new school in his French grade two class…

… and he had a blast.

He’d been worried, and we’d been worried as to how he’d handle it. We did everything we could to prep him, including a tour of the grounds and a secret tour with his principal of the inside of the school the last night before school began, after studying French with him all summer and being supportive and encouraging, but it was all up to him after we saw him off into the building, following his new teacher. He came and gave us a few hugs while everyone milled around and lined up, and he nearly cried once, but he was very brave, and we are so proud of him. We introduced him to a random nice-seeming kid whose mother had bought him up to check in with the teacher just before we did, and he found a friend that he’d been in kindergarten with in his other school, too. So we felt better about the not-knowing-anyone part by the time they went in to class, anyway.

We know this is the right thing to do — his other school was just too easy, and we didn’t want him to run into the ‘I’m bored so I’ll stop trying’ trap at some point — but we also know it’s going to be challenging. Which is kind of the point, but still, as a parent, you hate doing anything that causes your child distress, even if it’s for a brief period. It will take a couple of months for everything to settle properly, but an awesome first day does a lot for everyone’s outlook.

In the interest of full revelation, I asked him how he’d done with the French, and he said, “Fine! Rebecca (the friend he’d known in kindergarten) translated everything for me!” Which is not exactly… well, whatever. It all starts somewhere, right? And we know he does understand a lot more than he can speak.

The nerves hit on the second day, though. I got a call from the office just past ten o’clock saying that Sparky wasn’t feeling well and could I come and pick him up? Owlet had just gone down for her nap, and I suspected he wasn’t actually ill, so I said I’d be there by ten-thirty. Five minutes later the phone rang again, and the receptionist said to hold off, because the principal had overheard who was in the office and now had him in her own office for a talk. The principal called me afterwards and we agreed that it had been nerves (although there was an element of seasonal allergy there, stuffing him up and making him a bit unhappy), and that to bring him home would make going back the next day even harder. So I picked him up as planned at lunch, as it was a half-day, and he was much better. I don’t know what we’d do without this principal. She’s part of why we decided to make the switch, and she’s been just wonderful.

Friday was the first full day, and when I met him outside under the trees he was bouncing. First of all, he’d lost his eighth tooth, always an exciting event at school. His teacher had put it in a little blue treasure chest for him, and he refused to put it under his pillow. (“Because it’s much more valuable to me than the Tooth Fairy, Mama,” he explained that night. Um… okay?) But there was something else, too.

“Mama, I learned two new French words today!” he said with great enthusiasm. “Really?” I said, very pleased. “Which ones?” And then he proceeded to rattle off, ”Est-ce que je peut aller a la toilette,” and “Est-ce que je peut aller boire de l’eau”, both of which are significantly more than two new words! And he said them clearly and with good accent, like it was easy, and it was. I should have known he’d learn better from people who were not his parents. It’s the same reason I didn’t start teaching him cello, but sent him to my teacher instead. We can teach him general skills, but when it comes to formal teaching, he learns better from someone else. Being in a group of kids who are all speaking French helps, too. It’s just like how he walked a week into going to a caregiver with other kids who could walk, after choosing not to at home for a couple of months.

So, school is just fine so far. He is positive and excited about it, for which we are very thankful. I’m so very proud of him for handling it the way he’s doing.

(And wow, do I ever need a new icon for Sparky.)