It's been a really exhausting week. Seems like every other day, or sometimes (ugh) even multiple days in a row, Miriam forgets everything she knew about naps and won't go down for more than 20 minutes or so. I troubleshoot: maybe I didn't rock her for long enough? Maybe she needs a blanket? Maybe I should keep her awake longer before letting her fall asleep? Did she burp before she went down? Etc. But it's rather difficult to figure out when I'm in so little control of everything. One day I snuck out of bed while she was still sleeping to take care of the boys when they got up in the morning, and she woke up right away -- is that what threw her off the rest of the day? Or is it that Marko and Michael got in a fight and started screeching at just exactly the wrong moment? Who the heck knows.
I do know, though, that everything that makes my day good or bad hinges on Miriam's naps. If she takes them, everything is wonderful. I do my chores, I pay attention to the boys, I do a spot of knitting or reading, I make dinner, I tidy up by evening. All is peaceful. If not, I spend my whole day nursing her, holding her because she's too crabby to spend any awake-and-happy time on the floor or in her bouncer, holding her as she sleeps lightly with the hope that it will transition to deep sleep eventually (which it never does), breaking up fights with one hand -- fights that of course broke out just as she was dozing off in my arms. The kids act up because they know I'm going to ignore a lot of stuff because I don't want to get up and disturb the baby. And, of course, because they want attention. They make tremendous messes, which I trip over while heading to the bedroom to put the baby down. Dishes pile in the sink. The mess makes me angry, and then I yell at the kids for some little thing, and then they act twice as bad because now they're mad at me.
I just really, really, desperately NEED some time when no one is touching me. And these kids .... they do not always deliver. Michael is probably the worst, because he is too young to obey without me physically making him half the time, and too enormous to be easy to manage. Even with both hands, picking him up when he doesn't want to be up is quite a challenge. Dragging him off his brother with one arm is a sub-optimal situation, to say the least. It makes him angry, it makes me angry.
But on the bright side, both boys have just been in fabulous moods since Sunday. I don't know what happened. On Saturday they were whining all day long ... on Sunday they played independently and without fighting most of the day! I guess they finally both got good nights' sleeps and neither one had a cold for the first time in forever. I had forgotten just how destructive these two kids can be when they put their heads together and don't get derailed with squabbling. They are having a wonderful time and being so creative, but it's so hard for me not to screech when I turn around and all the laundry is being used as a snowstorm, or the couch cushions are a giant sandwich. Right now they are playing librarian, aka taking all the books off the bookshelf and stacking them up.
Check out those thigh-high baby socks above. I totally made those. Yeah, ridiculously proud of myself. I thought socks were going to be difficult, but this tutorial helped a lot and I didn't find them hard at all. The yarn is handspun Rambouillet wool (nice and soft) dyed with coffee, black walnuts, and green food coloring, mixed with a bit of natural brown llama. Really it was leftovers from the sock yarn that I put so much work into before Miriam was born, but I added some white wool to make sure I would get enough for socks. And then I ended up with about twice what I needed, so now I'm making a hat to match.
Good golly, look at this cheesy grin:
Marko usually isn't that interested in Miriam, but this one time he came over and started being all sweet to her. Made me so happy to see.
I found a site that has all the Vorkosigan Saga books -- right here. Opinions vary on the correct order to read them. I started with Shards of Honor this go-around, and am up to Diplomatic Immunity -- aka, almost finished with them all. That will be a sad day. I'm trying to make them last.
I love Bujold's characters. She explained in an essay of hers that her secret to making good plots in character-driven action novels is to ask the question, "What is the worst thing I can possibly do to this character?" And then she does it. That explains why these books wring me out so much. I was reduced to tears by something truly awful that happens in Memory.
I have mixed feelings about this approach -- I don't actually like crying over books. But on the other hand, it's facing those "worst things" that makes her characters grow, and makes me care so dang much about them.
As for moral issues, I'm very pleased with the way she and her characters wrestle with bioethical dilemmas and the way she always comes down solidly on the side of "treat people like people." It's too easy to turn people into commodities in a world where you can design your own clone, but the "good guys" always seem to come down on the right side of things ... even when those decisions cost them. I don't like books that preach at me, or characters that are always perfect, but I don't like having my heroes do things I find morally despicable with no repentance either. And she seems to play it just right.
Anyway I definitely recommend these books, either in print or digital. Since the digital versions were released with the author and publisher's permission, I don't feel bad just downloading them all. (And I could never afford to buy all of them in print -- there are a lot of them!)
More quick takes at Conversion Diary.