Friday, September 26, 2014

7qt - a month and change


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.


Enbrethiliel said...


First of all, I'm sorry to hear that it's been an exhausting week for you. I wish that I could pop over and help out.

The boys' game of librarian reminds me of when my closest cousin and I decided to turn my room into a boutique. All we did was take the clothes out of the closet and set them (still folded neatly!) on every available surface in the room . . . but somehow it was a catastrophe when my mother saw what we had done. LOL! We must have been around four or five at the time.

As for Miriam, how can such a tiny person have so much power??? ;-) I remember the joke that when you're co-sleeping, the size of your baby is somehow inversely proportional to the space she takes up in your bed. LOL! Perhaps that's also true for the "space" she takes up in your schedule.

I was going to ask you about baby-wearing, which seems that it would let you still "hold" the baby while working with both hands. Other mothers seem to swear by it, but if you need time when you're not touching anyone, it's not really a solution, aye? =/

After I saw those socks, I went to YouTube and wrote "knitting tutorial absolute beginner." =P Although I picked up some of the basics when my brothers had to learn to knit in Grade 6, I didn't retain a thing. A sock would be too much for me at this point, but I'd like to be able to make something I can plausibly say is a scarf. LOL!

In other news, "What's the worst thing I could possibly do to this character?" seems to be God's plan for the lives of some people I know, and I have no idea what to do to help. =( I muse, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger," but then I recall that the last time I said it aloud was to a girl who had been seriously planning a career in ballet and who lost that chance forever because she developed diabetes and celiac disease. You just can't be a ballerina on a diabetic's diet. Although her condition didn't kill her (despite putting her in hospital several times), it certainly didn't make her stronger (or just hadn't at the time we knew each other)--and the "What doesn't kill you . . ." line was possibly the worst possible thing I could have said to her at the time.

Also, I wonder if growing stronger is also something we need an aptitude for or at least some guidance in. For I can also think of cases in which pressure led someone to break instead of to bend. And even those who emerge triumphant from their sufferings often say that they couldn't have guessed how they'd turn out, because their new selves are so different from their old selves. But in the absence of a mentor or a spiritual director, how can we go through such times without losing our way? Are there any reliable guides or "hacks"?

Sheila said...

I'm pretty sure "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" only happens in books. ;) And Miles Vorkosigan, in the books, is always very lucky in his mentors, who seem to appear at just the right moment and say exactly the right thing that gets him moving in the right direction. But perhaps one thing that helps is having a very clear vision of what your ideals are and what kind of person you want to be. It's one thing to hit a roadblock and let it turn you in a different direction, and another to have your eye on the goal so you find your way *around* it.

Yeah, babywearing doesn't help with the touched-out-ness -- or with the boys' desire to be on my lap. And the baby won't sleep in it if I'm constantly bending over to pick up toys. So it pretty much only helps if I want to do certain very specific things. Also if I get super overwhelmed I can put the baby in the wrap and take us all for a walk. Getting out of the house is nice.

I envy anyone learning to knit today, with YouTube available. There were things that puzzled the heck out of me before that now I can zip online, watch, and figure out in minutes. And YouTube is how I learned to spin. Knitting, I learned maybe 15 years ago, from books, and it was incredibly difficult. I ended up making up my own way to do everything because I couldn't figure out the written instructions.

Enbrethiliel said...


I got myself a pair of knitting needles last weekend and got started! =D And now I think I've got the hang of it. Or maybe I've just come far enough in three days not to want to unravel what I've got (which is what I did over and over the first day), although I definitely have a "dropped stitch" or whatever it's called somewhere in there.

One thing that might help people who are going through a crisis is getting a real measure of themselves. I'm thinking about one character in Breaking Bad who fails a huge test and is able to say at the end of it, "I'm not the man I thought I was." It was the lowest point in his entire life, but also the point in the plot when he started to become the hero. But there's got to be a way to achieve a similar realisation without hitting rock bottom. I'm sure that when teachers from Socrates to Thomas a Kempis were stressing the value of self-knowledge, they had reasonable methods in mind for achieving it.

Sheila said...

Better find a way to fix that dropped stitch -- a dropped stitch quickly turns into a run, like in nylons. But I'm very proud to have turned out on to another of my hobbies!

Hm, so crises force you into a state of self-examination. I suppose humility would help you to do that without so much agony. I know for me, admitting that Regnum Christi had been a cult (or, if anyone's offended by then, "controlling religious group") was a moment like that. As long as I stayed in it, you see, I could say that I was in charge of my own destiny, that I was not a victim, that I was sure of where I was going. To admit that I'd been taken in meant to admit that I wasn't as strong, sure, or in charge as I had thought. Hugely humbling .... to the point that I often question my own ability to know anything at all. If religious experiences can be so thoroughly faked, how I am to know they aren't *all* faked?

Sigh ... that there is a case of hitting rock bottom, being led to self-examination, but NOT arising from it better than before. Well .... perhaps better in some ways. A person who is too sure about everything they think is an intolerable person to be around, and they're frequently wrong. A person who isn't sure of anything, however, isn't much better. Perhaps less dangerous, but also less likely to effect positive change, because I so clearly see the pitfalls on all sides.

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