Friday, October 3, 2014

Seven quick takes


 Miriam is six weeks old now!  On Monday she was nine and a half pounds.  I guess I don't need to worry that I'm starving her.  She was baptized last Sunday -- unfortunately I got no pictures because at our parish they have all the parents and godparents circle around the font and as a result no one can see anything or take any good pictures.  Oh well.  She looks identical to the other two and wore the same gown, so we can just make duplicates of those.  ;)


The past couple of days we've all been walking around the block every day, checking out the fall colors and picking up leaves.  In the spring and fall, I think the best way to enjoy the changes is to take the same walk every day.  Then you don't miss a thing.  The painted maples especially have to be seen every day, because every day they're a different kind of beautiful.

But I've been promising I'd take them down to the river soon, and so today I made up my mind to go ahead and do it.  The weather report was for clouds and rain, but it said the rain wouldn't start till three.  Well, go figure, as soon as we set out the sky cleared and it was beautifully sunny the whole time, with a cool breeze.  Perfect October weather.

Walks are great for Miriam, because she reliably sleeps in the wrap even on a bad nap day (which seems to be most days these days).  Now I can't transfer her into bed when we get home without waking her -- in fact, it usually wakes her if I so much as sit down -- but today we walked a good long time and she got a whole nap in.

Every time we go down there, I wonder why I don't do it more.  I live three blocks from a famously beautiful river.  Sure, the hill on the way back is steep, but the kids are able to walk it all themselves, albeit with a bit of whining, so at least I don't have to push a stroller.

It was lovely.  The sky was blue, with white puffy clouds.  The trees were just beginning to get a scattering of yellow leaves, with splashes of red where the Virginia creeper twines up the trunks.  The water was clear and placid, and on the surface a speckling of leaves drifted slowly down.  I could have just sat and looked at it all day.

For awhile we stayed at the dock and boat launch area, where I sat on a bench and knitted, Miriam kicked around on a blanket, and the boys threw leaves in the water.  Then Miriam was tired, so after a good nurse I put her in the wrap and we all went walking down the path.  It's a beautiful walking path along the river, lined with sycamore trees and these twisty ones that hang over the water.  At one point there's a dog park, which was why the kids wanted to go that way.  Even when there are no dogs, they like to run around and pretend to be dogs.  Marko ran over to me and insisted I help him unscrew the top of the fake fire hydrant.  I said it doesn't unscrew.  He said .... "Then how do the dogs pee in it?"  Sigh ... if only dogs were that tidy.

I was excited to find that the path has been extended since I last walked it to the end ... there's a tunnel under the train tracks and it now goes all the way to Skyline, where there are hiking trails.  I really wanted to keep walking, but it was getting close to lunchtime, Michael refuses to pee anywhere other than at home, and I figured we'd better get back before we hit against the limit of time we can be out without meltdowns and disaster.


As we walked, no fewer than three people told me, "You've got your hands full!"  I just smiled and said, "Sure do!"  I don't think it's just because I have (egads!) three kids now, because people said it when I had two.  I think it's just the accepted way to acknowledge the presence of someone who has babies or toddlers.  Especially people who have been through that stage know it's kind of exhausting.

Having your hands full is more about the ages of your kids rather than how many, I suspect.  At least that seems to make more difference in my own level of overwhelmedness.  Right now it's Michael who's the issue .... or at least, the combination of him plus a baby.  He's too young to listen and obey just from me sitting in a chair yelling at him -- he needs me to jump up and actually make him follow through.  And if I've got a baby I can't.  Whereas Marko is very easy to explain the situation to: "I am trying to put her down for a nap, so if you are very quiet, in half an hour I will be able to do something with you."  He even responds to the less than perfect parenting maneuver of "stop taking all the books off the shelves or you'll be going to your room as soon as I can put this baby down."  And really 90% of the time he actually does fine with just, "Don't make a mess or noise right now."


But as it is, I feel like all I do is hold the baby trying to get her to nap, and as a result ignore a lot of behavior I'd rather curtail, like taking all the books off the shelves, emptying the blanket cabinet all over everywhere, or playing with the canned food from the kitchen.  I know that if I tell them to stop, I have to follow up and actually make them stop, which usually involves getting up, which almost always wakes the baby.  And then if I finally do get her down, I am lucky to clean up the most obvious and irritating part of the mess before she wakes up again.  She is, like Michael, one of those babies who goes down nice and easy and then wakes up twenty minutes later, not really rested.  Marko did it too, but I would just rock him back to sleep right away and he'd sleep another hour or two.  Only first children get to have that kind of treatment!

So, yeah, I have my hands full.  I love each kid individually, but the combined mass of them is exhausting.


I finished the Vorkosigan Saga, which is a great tragedy.  Not the Saga--my finishing it.  Because when you finish something, there isn't any more.  And after that excellent series, I don't wanna read anything else.  There are no end of classics available online, but the thing about classics is they are a bit denser and harder to read than modern fiction, and I am too tired and distracted to focus on that kind of thing.  There are free copies of many books I would like to read online, but I am relatively certain they're pirated, so I'd better not.  I could go to the library--and I do intend to as soon as I get a chance, whenever that might be--but the trouble with dead-tree books (which I otherwise VASTLY prefer over digital) is they take a bit more effort to read while nursing than a laptop does.  I can turn pages with just one finger on the computer.  And anyway nothing other than the Vorkosigan Saga has those awesome characters and story arcs and mystery!  Sigh ... I went and got emotionally attached to the people in those books, and now I'm all lonely for them.

Can you think of anything to read that fits my criteria .... free, easy to read while nursing, light (both easy to read and not tragic), intriguing, preferably scifi or fantasy?  Recommend it please!


The reason I have to have something to read is because my imagination gets bored if I don't.  I need something to think about while I'm doing dishes or nursing at 3 a.m., and there is nothing in my life that is all that interesting right now.  So at present I am working on my next novel.  Of course it's not at all a good time for that, because I have so little free time, but at least I can brainstorm for it.  I know it's working, because I dreamed about it the other night.  I like having interesting dreams based on what I've read, written, or watched lately.

There's also Dr. Who, of course.  I watched the famous Weeping Angel episode (Blink) last night, while John was on a panel for the Chamber of Commerce.  (I think I got the better end of that deal, don't you?)  One of those really fascinating episodes that leaves you puzzling over it after, trying to figure out how all the tiimelines fit together.

And then I dreamed about that last night.  I dreamed I was in a support group for the Doctor's ex-companions.  Half the attendees had babies.  One was telling about how much she missed time travel, and broke down sobbing .... which was super awkward for the Doctor, who was there.  Maybe even more awkward for the current companion, who was also there.


Girls' clothes.  I planned to dress Miriam in the same stuff the other two wore, because I don't see any reason why girls can't wear clothes with puppies and baseballs on them, but of course all the relatives have pitched in and Miriam has a respectable quantity of real girls' clothes.  Mostly very cute stuff; people know I don't like pink so there's a lot of teal, purple, yellow, and so forth. 

But there's a problem.  Boys' clothes are so easy to match -- the pants are almost always neutral so you can put any shirt with any pants.  Girls' clothes?  Ha!  She owns three pairs of newborn pants and they are all purple.  So I can't just throw the boys' old shirts with them -- I have to actually match stuff.  This gets even hairier when considering her brown-and-green socks and blue-and-green diaper cover that I knit for her .... they just don't match well with girls' clothes!  I have also discovered that I don't like pants on babies anyway, because it's a pain in the tookus to take them off and put them back on, 20 times a day, to change diapers.  I think I will keep her in dresses all the time, with her long socks on under.  But none of her dresses have long sleeves.  So far I'm just putting her in the sweater Tiffany made her every single cold day, but I'm thinking I'm going to sew her a couple of long-sleeved dresses.  Can't be that hard, can it?

I'm beginning to think our forebears had it right when they dressed both boys and girls in long white nightgowns.  One color, one size.  Hem them up when the baby starts to walk.  Put them in pants when they're done with potty training.  Clever.

How's your week been?


The Sojourner said...

I get the "hands full" comment a lot with just one baby. Although admittedly I get it less now that he sits in the cart when we grocery shop--when I was juggling groceries and my wallet and a baby strapped to my chest in the sling, then it was certainly understandable when the cashiers all commented on it.

J lived in sleepers when he was a little baby. Now that he's older and makes diaper changes a challenge, he usually crawls around in an unbuttoned onesie, with the end flapping in his wake like a little duck's tale. When we go out I usually snap it up and force him into pants, because a) I like to look minimally civilized when we leave the house, and b) the old ladies comment on his poor cold legs when he's not wearing pants. It's only just gotten cool here; I haven't adapted yet! (The other day at the store I was wearing short sleeves, a skirt, and sandals, and the baby was wearing nothing but a onesie, and the resident old ladies were quite concerned for him.)

Girl clothes can also be rather hard on the eyes, color-wise. It seems like a lot of them are practically neon nowadays, not soft pastels. (So, hot pink instead of a baby pink.) Boy colors are much more soothing.

Sheila said...

On the whole I much prefer good solid primary colors and neutrals to either neon or pastel colors!

I am constantly plagued by old ladies thinking my babies are cold. "Where are his shoes? Where are his socks? Where is his coat?" Always when nobody is dressed warmly because it's plenty warm. I understand that very new newborns need a bit extra, but by the time they're chubby, I dress my babies in what I'm wearing. They don't seem to be cold!

Today I took Miriam to the store with me in a wrap and I got that comment I so often get from older people ... "I wish they'd had carriers like that when mine were babies! So convenient!" Makes me laugh, because babywearing is neither new nor difficult .... but the older generation was in that funny gap between babywearing as a tribal custom which everybody did, and babywearing as a yuppie thing which crunchy people do.

I must say, though, bagging my own groceries while babywearing is quite difficult. I go to Aldi (you too, right?) and it's hard to bend over the cart to get stuff out of it to bag without squashing the baby. I'd a zillion times rather take the boys (who love it and behave great) and leave the baby at home, but then she might need to eat while I was out. And I am not yet up to taking all three to the store, so daddy watched the older two.

The Sojourner said...

I went to Aldi a lot less when he was small--I didn't have time to go to multiple stores and it doesn't have quite enough selection to be my only store.

I really don't remember what I did. I think I frequently threw stuff loose into the trunk and just bagged it when I got home (I'd stick him in his pack-and-play or something and bring up the groceries as quickly as I could.)

Enbrethiliel said...


#1 -- Hooray for Miriam! It's too bad about the pictures, though. =/

#2 -- I'd type something like, "I wish I lived in a place with lots of beautiful walks . . ." but residual superstitious tendencies are stopping me from going all out. You see, my grandmother passed away a few weeks ago and the rest of us have decided to sell her house, which is also our current home. We actually need to sell it, so there's no way to go but forward, but at the moment, we have no idea where we're going to end up. And we can't make definite plans until we know how much money we're going to get from the sale. Everything is up in the air. While a place with beautiful walks would be nice, it would also be hours away from our relatives and friends. But we'll see . . .

I know how you feel, though, about wondering why you don't go some place more often when it's so accessible. Perhaps taking them as a given (because it's not as if they'd fly away tonight!) makes us feel like we have forever to visit them again.

And I love Marko's fire hydrant question! LOL! Save that up for the future. ;-D

#3 -- People who say, "You've got your hands full!" remind of something a well-traveled friend of mine observed about Americans: they've always got something to say! On the one hand, that's nice and quite friendly. On the other hand, as a social convention, it leads to people blurting out things that could be taken the wrong way, just because it might seem ruder not to say anything.

When my friend said that, I had to laugh and reply, "That's what I have to do for work!" Seriously, when I'm helping someone to learn English, I reply to everything he says, to show him that the message was clear (or that it wasn't!) and to simulate a natural-sounding conversation. And "You've got your hands full!" is totally something I would say if I heard that a client had two toddlers and an infant. (Actually, no: it's too much of an idiom, so I'd say, "You must be very busy!" instead. LOL!) It really is just saying something for the sake of saying something.

#4 -- And now I see that they are a handful. ;-)

#5 -- Hmmmm. I'm not sure what to recommend if you want to read a free digital copy, but if your library book has Downsiders by Neal Shusterman and you're okay with paper, then READ IT!!! It's about a community that lives under New York City and has developed its own culture. It's light, it's easy, it's original, and it's got just enough Fantasy in it to be worth your while. =)

And speaking of having difficulty with paper books . . . Now that I'm SO into knitting, my reading is suffering. LOL! A Twitter friend told me that she can read and knit at the same time . . . because she doesn't mind getting a scarf full of holes at the end! ;-P The compromise I've found? Audiobooks! I never thought I'd be an audiobook "reader," but I never thought I'd be good at anything crafty, either! This has been a season of big and small changes in my life.

#6 -- I love your dream! LOL! And if you ever need a Beta reader for the second book, remember that I'm still around! =D

#7 -- Why am I not surprised that girls' clothes are so much more inconvenient than boys' clothes? Good luck sewing the dressings! I'm sure that they will turn out as well as all your other projects have. =)

Sheila said...

Perhaps you will find beautiful walks where you least expect them. I've never yet lived in a place where I couldn't find beautiful walks -- even Rome, where I had to resort to a cemetery. But it was a very *beautiful* cemetery! (I know Rome has beautiful *buildings,* but what I needed was quiet green space. I go half mad without it.)

Every spring and every fall, I put off going for walks I ought to go on, don't go to the park when I should. I just always don't feel like it and the days slip past. It's only when they're over that I realize (again) just how short the period of nice weather is around here, when it really is perfect to be outside. I'm trying to fix this -- which fits right in with my efforts to get Miriam to nap, because walking with her in the wrap is the one thing that *always* works. (Although she is in the wrap right now, and I'm standing up with my computer on the kitchen counter. Wearing her makes my feet tired, but I suppose it's good for me! Babywearing was invented in cultures where there was always some kind of work to be done, and work wasn't done sitting down. Babies hate it when you sit while wearing them.)

About always having something to say -- you reminded me of this quote from The Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy, my current light read:

"One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about human beings was their habit of continually stating and repeating the obvious, as in It's a nice day, or You're very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you alright? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behaviour. If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up. After a few months' consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favour of a new one. If they don't keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working."

Who knows *why* it is -- I suspect just a desire to connect on some level with people that you mean, plus the knowledge that saying anything that *isn't* trite to a complete stranger ("Why, hello there. Did you ever consider how vast the universe is, and how tiny our own part in it?") would weird people out. So we go with the same old things like "you have your hands full." Which I heard again yesterday, coming back from the park.

I tried listening to podcasts, but the kids kept breaking out fighting at the interesting bits and drowning it out! And then there was a theme song, and they begged and begged to listen to it over and over, and it was quite impossible to listen to it. I watched a ton of videos when Marko was a newborn, but that too doesn't work out so well with big kids around. Dr. Who would give them nightmares, and if I watched something they actually liked, they would just sit around all day watching it with me and whine when I finally turned it off. For that reason, I don't watch even a one-minute video while they're around -- they just demand more and it's more trouble than it's worth.

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