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Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
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7th-Nov-2015 12:36 am - Words!
Innocent
2928 words for Demi-Wri-Mo - despite forgetting when i blithely thought I could catch up tonight that tonight was our gaming night. Duh.. Not quite doubled, but definitely an improvement. Still behind, but if I do this pace a couple times more, I will be on track for 25,000.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
6th-Nov-2015 05:32 pm - Moar Tea!
Innocent
So, I've now not only made an extended tea order online, I also indulged myself a bit at David's when I found their winter selection was out.

So these are the results:

Murchie's

Christmas Tea: It seems a bit more orange-peel flavoured than the Upton version, but definitely well within the "Yes, this is the Christmas tea I was missing" range. The orange tartness might mean I decide this is a 1/3 tsp honey tea again.

Decaf Canadian Breakfast: ON the one hand, this is basically black tea and maple, and I *have* black tea and maple syrup in the house. Also, it advertises itself as "a hint of maple', and you'd have to be one of the people I know whose sense of smell is pretty much defunct before you'd miss it. On the other, most cheap maple teas are a bit icky and unbalanced, and this is deliciously delicious. I might have to try a cup of black tea with maple syrup added on the spot and this together to see which is better. I have a feeling Canadian Breakfast might win.

Princess Blend: Rose and Raspberry. I expected the rose to cut the sweetness of the raspberry, and it doesn't, really. But it complements it beautifully. Since David's discontinued Fantasy Island before could compare the two, I can't say which is better, but this is definitely worth keeping.

Tribute Pu'erh: Better than what I had by a fair bit. And stronger. I haven't tested the assertion that most pu'erh's can stand multiple steepings and come out strong and reasonable tasting yet

Distinctly Tea

Decaf Apricot: Mmmmmm, yes. That's the stuff.

Winter Blend: Was advertised as apple and spices. Is Apple, spices and almond, giving it an amaretto-ish aftertaste. (Natural almond as far as I can tell, though, not the stuff used in maraschino cherries, which tastes the same to be but turns my mom and brothers' stomachs). Picked up as a possible "maybe related enough to Christmas tea to pass if I'm desperate". Fails on that. Good enough I'll finish what I have without it being a chore, but I probably won't buy again.

David's

Snow Day: They didn't bring back white chocolate frost; they did this instead. So rather than white chocolate, peppermint and peppercorns, it's white and brown chocolate and peppermint. Still pretty satisfying a mix.

Cardamom French Toast: Cardamom, cinnamon, and other ingredients meant to emulate, well, as the title says. Smelled lovely, and reads like it should be up my alley. The first steep was a decided disappointment. It also steeped overlong, so I might try it again before I dismiss it.

Honeycrisp apple: Sweeter than I recalled, but really tastes more like an apple - not like apple juice, just apple - than like green tea. The tea is more background colour. A very nice drink indeed (Unless you're in the mood for green tea that tastes like green tea.)

Strawberry rhubarb parfait: Technically I haven't drunk a cup at home, but the whole reason I bought it is that I have had it, and it's a quite nice herbal.

(I also tried individual cups of the blueberry jam - too sweet and very meh - and the hot chocolate as a latte, which tasted more like hot chocolate than like tea, but since that was the point, I was satisfied. Didn't buy any for home, though.)

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6th-Nov-2015 12:26 am(no subject)
Innocent
So Demi-Wri-Mo or whatever this is called has started slow. But I kind of knew the first few days would be a bit sacrificial. Not this bad, though. At this rate I might make my word count in January or February. But Alex has been sick and I've been out of the house A LOT more than the usual. (I think I committed shopping therapy, though not over the word count... I have a lot of tea to review and some books to read.)

1543 words. At least I know the rest of the scene well. And I have good reason to think tomorrow will double that at minimum.

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2nd-Nov-2015 11:57 pm(no subject)
Innocent
So my decision for November was to do a Demi-WriMo, or a half NaNoWriMo. So tracking my progress on NaNo's own site makes no sense, but I need a public placement for accountability.

Here we go, then.

OFFICIAL DEMIWRIMO WORD COUNT:
947

Later posts, if I have time, I may discuss the project a bit.

ETA: Grrrr. I think in blithely skipping past a "restore from saved draft" button, I lost a half finished post of some length. Oh, well. If anyone knows if it's possible to retrieve such, let me know.

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26th-Sep-2015 02:36 pm - Tea. Because.
Gryphon
This is mostly of interest to me, AFAIK. I just wanted the list somewhere I could find it, and point people to it.

I drink tea pretty much daily. I try to also drink water most days, (although tea includes herbal and decaf), and sometimes I just have to have some form of absurd flavoured latte thing, but tea, strong black with milk and occasional honey, is the daily staple.

So of course people try and give me tea. And yet they miss as often or more as they hit - popular teas to gift seem to be greens, which I don't drink enough to warrant the amount in the house, and rooibus, which I've mostly decided isn't for me (though -- shock of shocks, if you look below -- I've had better luck with ones with peach or apricot flavour, and it's the only type of tea that blends well with vanilla as a major note.)

Read more...Collapse )

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17th-Sep-2015 02:21 pm - August and Reno plans
Innocent
August was a significant step up from July, though almost anything would be. And it started with one more small kick.

Context: We have (had) an RV, a rather small one. It was basically a converted van (Ford Econoline size or only slightly longer) with a raised roof so a second bed could be put in above the driver. We got this from Colin's parents for $1.00. It gave them a place to stay when in town that was on our property (sorta, see below) but not in the house, which was a good balance between making their visits easier and giving us a semblance of privacy. (the area with the spare bed in our house is separated from my private study by some shelving, not even a wall. This is Not Good for any of us.)

Thing is, our property is a lot of house and not much yard. We do have a two car driveway but even when we didn't have two cars, we used both spaces because there's not a lot of street parking.

Our neighbours' house is a rental property mostly used by seasonal workers. The main regular there, R, we get along with pretty well when we see him at all. And they have a pretty good sized parking area that's underused.

The house owners had trimmed their hedges back then left the pile of cut branches on their parking pad, a pile of wooden debris that, when our yard was a mess, other neighbours also blamed on us in their note asking us to clean up. (which we did, but often have to re-do...) So we made an agreement with R that if we cleaned those branches etc up for them, we could use that space for the RV. It's been there since the summer before Joseph was born (we turned on the engine a couple of times to make sure it would run, but that's it.)

So at the tail end of July and start of August, the property owner decided that was it and asked us to move it. Which is fair, no complaints, and he agreed to let it stay until mid-September (ie, yesterday) when the in-laws would be heading back to BC.

AND, it turns out, if we sell it, R wants to buy it, to use when he goes up north.

But that left the dilemma, where do they stay when in town?

They'd been considering renting, but priced it out and looked at the Winnipeg market and didn't like either. They considered also buying a condo, but for at most 3-4 months of the year in use (2 months most summers, and some extra weeks as needed, usually just for mom-in-law), went nope.

They then looked at our house, at the amount of money they were considering, and said, "if we give you this, you could do the next big stages of renos you were considering. Would that possibly work out?"

...

yes. yes it would.

So, we have plans. It starts with redoing the half-bath on the main floor (the only part of the main floor under current consideration), because there will be a lot of plumbing done anyhow, and it's the one most guests use, so it should be pretty.

Then it involves a nigh-complete rearrangement of the upstairs floor. (Joseph's, later to be Joseph and Alex's, room will remain unchanged).

-Colin's computer alcove and our closet will become a significantly smaller but completely separated study for me.
-Our master bedroom will be a guest bedroom/sewing room.
- The bathroom will be enlarged by about 6-8 inches to fit a better bath, and redone.
- The chunk of my study right up against the bathroom will become an ensuite bathroom with a shower stall.
- The hall alcove across from the bathroom, and a part of my study adjacent to that will be a laundry area.
- The last bit of my study and the entire back storage area will become Colin's and my master bedroom.
- My much-neglected pottery stuff, which is occupying a lot of that back room now that isn't sewing stuff, will go in the basement where the laundry was, where it's sufficiently separated from Colin's woodworking stuff that I think we can live in harmony - we could even have a door or curtain. (the reason I wanted to set it up upstairs anyhow, before the back room got turned into as much of a sleeping space as it is.)

I will need to reduce my books and even more, reduce the depth of my shelf space (most of my shelving units are 12" deep and that won't do in a smaller room) but I definitely do not mind a smaller room. And while it's tricky to do reno projects around a curious pre-schooler, Colin being home allows for doing more stuff himself to save on money. He's fully capable, as demonstrated last time, of drawing up the plans, and he has a fair chunk of those done. He's already started on taking out the remains of the chimney that does nothing but cut into the bathroom space, and the plumber was by for initial estimates and to arrange times to start each phase of his work. (plumbing is not a DIY part of renos like knocking down walls -- at least not parts that involve moving and adding stacks. Colin feels up to putting in the shower stall we bought, and that level of plumbing.)

Anyhow, so that will be the big project going forward. We're not likely to have it far enough along to matter for my mother-in-law's next visit, in a month and a half (IE,. she'll still be sleeping in the current spare room) but we should be through at least the lower bathroom and working on the others.

I've mostly been boxing up a few of my books and starting to unearth my desk from the crud and papers. My main job this time around is almost certainly going to be keeping two small boys.

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25th-Aug-2015 06:00 pm(no subject)
Innocent
... It's been a rough while.

The boys are happy and healthy, at least, as am I. Beyond that, things get more complex.

July, my month of festivals, had very little festival compared to usual. I'm reasonably satisfied with the part of Folk Fest I got to (I got Maddy Prior's autograph - and more importantly, told her about Joseph's affection for Ravenchild. But Fringe was severely curtailed, not least because I simply wasn't much in the mood. I did a whopping three volunteer shifts, partly based on how stressful it was for my mother-in-law and Colin to cope with Alex, who loathes bottles, for the duration. (two of those shifts were at a spot I could take Alex along with, but I also had some other times out and about).

The reasons I was not in the mood:

- the first day of Fringe was basically my grandmother's death watch day, though she actually passed away the next morning. She was 90 and in steadily failing health, so no surprise. I'm grateful she met Alex before then, if sad it was only once.

- the second Friday of the Fringe, Colin learned his workplace was terminating his position. Which is kind of illegal while on parental leave. But Employment Standards thinks the illegality could take years to resolve. Meantime, his parental leave lasts to January, then regular EI should kick in. And he's finishing the course he started that his work was paying for, so he should be if anything more employable after.

- Still, no good for his anxiety disorder, even if it was a marginally less dickish move than his last employer. (and a less expected one, alas. His previous job were dicks all along and the way the fired him was of a piece. This job seemed good, they seemed to like him, so it felt more out of the blue.)


I'll talk about the odd and partial upswing of August after supper, I think, because supper should be called any minute now.

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25th-May-2015 10:32 am - Chapter One(s)
Innocent
As stated a few posts ago, I did in fact start sifting through my to-read books by reading the first chapters. It did help, but not as much as I had hoped. (I'm nowhere near done, either, though, so we'll see. But I'm somewhat on hold while I read the finalists for the Hugo awards instead.*)

I found the process more interesting than the individual reviews, though I kept notes for myself on the latter.


1: Almost none of the opening chapters were objectively bad. Opening chapters tend to be one of the parts of a book any writer will have practiced endlessly, far more than endings, so the likelihood of reading a chapter and throwing it aside as Badly Written is very low - even though I covered a genuinely broad range of styles.

I also, in examining this aspect, realized that the last book that I read to the end and basically hated - Shifra Horn's The Fairest Among Women*** - would have been kept based on the first chapter test. Not necessarily with enthusiasm, but not set aside. So a good hint why this is an imperfect tool.



2: Most of them also do set up, very well, the idea what sort of story this will be. Which is much more of a giveaway. Two examples:

- The first book to make my "definitely Not going to keep this one" pile was one where I caught myself starting in on the second chapter, because the breezy quick style was easy to read. The reasons I was not going to continue had to do with the sort of story it promised to be - one where the most sweeping generalizations about male or female behaviour are truisms, the war of the sexes permeates the supposedly loving central relationship, with both man and woman trying to out-alpha one another and use underhanded tricks to get their way, instead of talking. These were irritating me even as the word choices flowed.

- Two fat epic fantasies that promised relatively typical settings and probably overly straight white and male casts. One I'm keeping and will read, one I won't. The difference is:

- the first chapter of one was about the kid about to go off adventuring. Gave an idea of his personality, of his work ethic, and of what and why he's not happy at home (oh, and his parents were neither unloving nor murdered.) And some idea about this world's magic system and its rather elaborate concept, but only as integral to his dilemma and his parents' worldviews.

- The other offered a high stakes event - an assassination attempt from the assassin's pov - that, while it dropped a handful of character details, was mostly there to showcase "here's my cool concept for a magic system and here's how a clever magic-user would manipulate it." And some of the fight description seemed to coin phrases that I could tell I'd be seeing as shorthand in many future fights.

A LOT less happens in the first book's opening chapter, and the political consequences of the second are clearly going to matter hugely in the upcoming plot. But I cared, a little, about the kid in the first book, even though he was just a bored teenager. The weeping assassin and the king were just sorta there.


3: Short books get passes more easily than long books. Which is kind of depressing considering my own tendency to run long. (I also grant that this is countered somewhat in a bookstore by the price-point issue - a short book with the same price tag as a longer book looks like a worse deal). This only applies to books in the middle ground, of course. At least one short book went poof, at least one long one stayed.

Most of the shorter books are kids' books, which tend to a quicker simpler style where more happens fast. I'm wondering if it would be as true with all adult genres. But I know John D. MacDonald's almost-all-dialogue opening is the kind of writing style I'd feel highly daunted to be forced to follow at Jordanesque length.


4: Familiar authors don't necessarily get as much leeway as I'd expected. For the most part, if they're familiar enough that they would get a pass just for who they are, they were already set aside from this project. The ones getting looked at are ones I've enjoyed but not loved before.

The exception was a Charles de Lint, who had failed to get into the auto-read pile because I've been put off some of his growing flaws. But the flaws in the opening chapter (an excess reliance on the cliches of how High School works) are not his traditional flaws. In his case, his style felt so familiar I ended up taking the book off the heap and finishing it when I needed a comfort read and didn't want to reread something. Turned out okay, too - some of the high school cliches got less painful, and while a couple of his other flaws cropped up - inevitable cameos by his beloved characters from other stories - they weren't the ones that had put me off him.


5: UNfamiliar genres get more leeway. Because I know I don't know their bad book warning signs nearly as well as I do fantasy's warning signs. So a less awesome lit-fic or thriller opening might still get a yea. This follows: I AM more picky about certain kinds of fantasy these days even in the bookstore. Some other genres I'm reading to expand my horizons, and that leaves some obligation to try books that don't hit my buttons right away (or at all). I still reserve the right to throw aside anything actually awful, of course.


6: It's rare that I decided yea or nay right after finishing the first chapter. Because at that point I am mentally in the book's style. Unequivocal 10/10 yesses are the only ones to happen immediately, and they're a lot more rare than they feel like they should be (the first one was Doris Egan's The Gate of Ivory). It feels a lot like the way the top 5% of the slush pile has been described: all the actually bad work is filtered out, you're reading "good" and "great" and "we should maybe buy this" -- but the ones that make the editor leap and say "we must buy this!" are still to be treasured.

__________________________

* About which, you can safely skip all the short story nominees and know you didn't miss anything you'll regret. even the ones that are passable stories are not even close to the best of the year. Damn the puppies.**

** If you don't know what this means? It means DRAMA. OH SO MUCH DRAMA. Some people decided the Hugos were getting too Liberal and Feminist and decided to try and Fix that. Google some string like "Sad Puppies Hugo Awards" and you'll no doubt find a few cogent explanations and a lot of drama. Just don't risk looking up Rabid Puppies" until you have the gist of the story.

*** Interesting literary style, and at first I liked having a fat AND beautiful lead. But ultimately it fell into grotesque. And not for the weight.

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4th-May-2015 02:28 pm(no subject)
Baby
It's official.

Joseph had his language assessment 2 weeks ago, and his general assessment last Wednesday. His speech issues are exactly as we thought, no surprises.

His general assessment really wasn't a surprise either, to me. Apparently either I have been extremely negligent in discussing my concerns and thoughts with my husband, or Colin tried so hard to put the possibility out of his mind so as not to trigger his anxiety disorder that he let himself be blindsided instead. (Colin is the one who suggested the latter, not I. I have to confess, between discussions with his mom and mine, I might well have thought he and I addressed it more than we did.)

Joseph has autism spectrum disorder.

He's what they would call high-functioning, and not just because he's obviously smart - he does express affection at times, and even as we got him assessed, his language use is improving, with more spontaneous sentences, and more mimicry (touch is still his best tool for communication). But even some signs of his brightness are themselves flags - his level of interest and obsession with numbers, his ability to memorize and cite songs and books. It helped that there's a boy in his class who's also high-functioning autistic, and bright and interested in Joseph, and when she and I discussed our boys, we described a lot of the same behaviours and tendencies. (she also remarked on how much she sees her younger daughter doing that she didn't see with her son, in hindsight.). Those conversations I know I didn't share.

Another tool helping to prepare me is, well, seeing others go through the same process in public. So yes, posts like that matter.

In spite of this not being a surprise to me, and in spite of the fact that an accurate assessment will help provide services and tools for teaching him how to cope with his weaknesses, it left me fretful and depressed, a reaction I suspect is more based on the bogeyman version of autism than the reality, at least as far as our boy's level and degree.

Colin's anxiety shot through the roof on the spot, and he feels he has a lot more catching up to do. I really feel like I failed on good wifing. :P

That's where we stand until we have a chance to get to some information sessions and further appointments. Probably steady through the summer.

______________________


Alexander is doing very well, for a one month old. I think he's learning to smile.




(And on a whole other topic, yes, [personal profile] leonacarver, that's your book that snuck in the picture. Finished now, and liked it better than Piper.)

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31st-Mar-2015 11:38 pm - Follow-up thoughts
Innocent
There is a HECK of a lot beyond the birth itself that ends up significant, and I don't mean the baby as such (That's not only significant, it's a whole new universe of its own); I mean follow-up to the process of giving birth.

Some stuff:

- There were something in the order of 8-9 paramedics in the house. Colin felt like it was a dozen - and outside was a fire truck, two ambulances and a couple of other vehicles. But since, in his own words, he was having trouble answering their difficult questions like "what's your phone number?" he wasn't in a state to ask. I, on the other hand, was on a hormone high that had me chatty, and had nothing to do for quite a while but lie there and hold Alexander whenever he wasn't being examined in his own turn. So I got the explanation why so many:

- the fire station sends the very first response, since they're literally up the street where the hospital is a 5 minute drive across the river. (Probably less in ambulance time but even so)
- they ALWAYS send two ambulances to a birth, in case of a complication where the baby is in distress enough they need to rush it to the hospital ahead of mom. (Or possibly vice versa but generally the baby first.) In our case, we got to ride together in one while one guy drove the other back.
- I presume the last vehicle(s?) would be the equivalent of the fire chief - the guy most in charge of coordinating all the others.

- You REALLY don't care about your possible state of undress or cleanliness. Really. You don't. Even with lots of cute paramedics around. besides, they were outcuted by the baby, and seriously outmatched by "My own husband delivered him" for appeal.

- Some medical TMI. You've been warned.Collapse )

- Once again, I had a struggle with milk coming in. This time, though, Alexander lost enough weight the very first 24 hours (And popped up with a bit of jaundice as a result) to keep us in the hospital while dealing with it. I really didn't need to go through that exact horserace again, but for the first bit, at least, it was probably the right call to stay. I'm not as sure about the last overnight, but I also don't think it hurt anything. Still, way to make me regret thinking that with Joseph, we could have stood another day of hospital time.

- And it's resolving faster. We've already NOT had to use formula with the supplementary bottles for a day or so. With Joseph, that was more along the lines of 5 weeks on, not 6 days.

- So far, I seem to have had a big hormone crash, usually with a few relatively quiet tears, at *exactly the same hour* three days in a row. Well, if anything, it makes it easier to cope with, because I can convince myself the supposed trigger really isn't when it's doing a clockwork thing. I've had other smaller snappish moments, and big guilty feelings about beign snappish, and other such effects, so it's not exclusive, but it's good to know when to brace myself, too.

- And yes, there are some hormone highs, too, though they tend towards "I love this baby!" not so much just plain laughing or feeling happy.

- Joseph has noticed his brother, and that he takes up mom's time, but he's not doing too badly getting on with things, and I have made some special time for him when I can. (I did feel a bit badly about giving him a kiss goodnight last night with a crying baby in arm, but tonight I got a whole bedtime moment of the sort *I've* been missing. (and by his hug, so has he. Grandma is awesome but not identical.)

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29th-Mar-2015 04:24 pm - In Short...
Innocent
Went to bed Wednesday night/Thursday morning past 1.

Woke at about 3 with a weird and distinctive backache/abdominal pressure many women would recognize. (Didn't check time until I decided I needed to get up, after; it said 3:11.) I considered having a shower, but the 4th or so contraction was a bit too strong to be safe alone.

At 3:45 or so, after MAYBE 6 contractions, I woke Colin telling him the last two were 5 minutes apart and getting serious. We talked about how soon we might needed to leave.

THE VERY NEXT ONE, just after I slipped off the bed to try and ride it standing, my waters broke, the urge to push started. I could not move (literally, though I could actually bend the knees and the back, as I demonstrated trying to ride the contraction. Taking steps down the hall? Nope.) and told Colin we weren't making it to the hospital. He asked what he could do. I said Call 911.

They asked if we could feel anything. I reached down and I finally understood; the baby was CROWNING. At 911's behest I managed, barely, the herculean effort of getting back onto the bed and rolling onto my back on the towels Colin grabbed. And the next contraction, the baby's head was far enough to have started crying.

At 4:04 by the 911 dispatcher, my husband delivered our second son, Alexander William, wrapped him in a towel, handed it to me, and went downstairs to let in the paramedics (who got to cut the cord.)

7 Lb 8 oz.

All healthy, all home safe.



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24th-Mar-2015 08:20 am - Picture
Innocent
No, not yet. Here's what i did yesterday instead.

Last date I touched this was apparently October. I feel rather better if I *have* to leave it for months with a mostly finished grey and a blue roan foal who's at least substantial enough you don't see her through it.

Got another project to charge through for today. I keep thinking if I make specific project and get-stuff-done plans it will hasten things. :)

Picture hidden because sometimes they come out too big on others' feedsCollapse )

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22nd-Mar-2015 10:01 pm - A random idea for the next while
Innocent
No, no baby yet. I feel like I need to preface everything everywhere with that.

In the case of this weekend, we therefore got to have a good Saturday evening game night with some friends, a nice lunch out with relatives, and I got a sit-and-chat with a lovely woman of my acquaintance.

So, [personal profile] rachelmanija has lately been doing a pretty sensible thing to winnow down her to-read stacks; she's reading the first chapter - and only that much, in most cases - of each book in the stack in succession (Or rather, each book that isn't a self-evident keeper, I suspect), and using that as the basis of whether she will keep or discard the book.

This had me thinking. A: I have a lot of books to winnow down, too.

B: Focusing enough to read a whole book while dealing with a newborn is an impossible task. A chapter would often be about the peak of skill.

Therefore, while I may need two weeks or so at the start of just baby and nothing else, I think I might borrow her idea as a way to get through the first few months sanely and still do something useful for the house.

I'm mildly worried that lack of sleep will cause some books to be winnowed that might not otherwise have lost my attention, but not badly concerned. When Joseph was that tiny, I sometimes read him to sleep from Terry Pratchett's Nation, and I followed it well enough (And slightly regretted the choice in the early and death-filled pages of the book, but I doubt Joseph noticed anything but the gentle voice); it's still one of Sir PTerry's best.

I can't promise to publicly post my results as often or snarkily as she does. Although it might help me post some, too.

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19th-Mar-2015 10:45 pm - Orlando.
Innocent
We went, with my in-laws (including Colin's sister - and two visits from a cousin of theirs who lives in the vicinity). We had fun, sometimes with and sometimes without Joseph. You can probably skip the words and just look at the pictures and get all you need to out of this. :)

Hiding pics for obvious possible size reasonsCollapse )
I got allergies. Since I had been *almost* recovered from a bout of bronchitis, I spent the trip hacking up lungs. I had fun anyhow. Colin also spent extra time, going on the thrill rides that his pregnant wife, toddler son, and sister with the inner ear problem couldn't go on. Since we also had a hot tub and outdoor pool area, and a jacuzzi in our suite, mellowing out as needed was easier than it might be.

My main souvenirs were a shirt which is more India-themed print than obvious Disney souvenir (I haven't worn yet because belly, though it fits otherwise), a rather nice Alice in Wonderland themed tea (Which to my annoyance cannot be bought in any form other than a souvenir tin of some kind, so replacing it when it's gone will be hard), and a book - specifically Martha Wells' Razor's Edge, her Star Wars book mostly about Leia. (Set between A New Hope and Empire) Which, since the other book I had brought was her "The Siren Depths", meant at least I was consistent in my pleasure reading.

The biggest problem - well, let me quote myself from an e-mail.

...At the theme parks and outside in general, Joseph had a backpack with a leash, and was closely watched, or in a stroller, or carried around. He was if anything easier to watch.

But the resort proved a problem. Joseph figured out early on how to open the door to our suite and run out; sometimes he'd go to the centre area, with the store and playground and pools (which are behind gates and he couldn't get into alone, so no drowning worries) but most often he'd go into the elevator (right next to our suite) and play by pushing the buttons and going up and down floors. And while it never happened, in theory he had direct access to the parking lot via elevator or stairs, and from there out into the neighbourhood.

So he kept trying to escape. His grandma or one of the other adults (including me) would sometimes take him out to let him run around the building or the centre court (We tried to convince him the place to be was the play structure), but otherwise we just kept a reasonable eye on him.

On our last morning in Florida, I woke to hear Joseph talking to himself, and checked on him to find him still lying in bed. I figured I had time enough to go to the washroom first, but when I got into the main room again, he was gone, though the chain was still on our door. Thankfully, I didn't stop to check the suite, I just went straight to the door and caught him before the elevator arrived. Afterwards, I figured out the issue; he'd slipped through the connecting door to his aunt's suite, and HER chain had been loose (Since he almost never even tried the connecting door, this whole thing was a surprise.) She'd woken up when he passed through, but hadn't had a chance to get up or dressed enough to check before I reached him.

What was even more a surprise was that nobody else had been awake yet; Joseph's grandparents were virtually always the first up any morning.

However, while Colin, S., and I were out in the afternoon, he got out on his grandparents during the roughly 5 seconds W. had the chain undone and her back turned (She'd just let E. back inside from an errand.) And he had figured something out; if he stayed in OUR elevator, he got caught. So he took it down to the first floor, ran through the centre court and got in the elevator the next building down. Leaving W. a couple of minutes of genuine fear (someone did spot him right away - she found him by hearing someone asking "And where's your mother?")

Which, eek. Joseph does that at home, too, but the cold weather was dissuading him from stepping out until very recently, and we've installed a new safety device that's equivalent to a chain, but openable by an adult from outside, too. And he can't get downstairs at night, period."

Anyhow, the flight home was long and hard, and got us to Winnipeg at 1 AM. or so. We slept late.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
19th-Mar-2015 09:35 pm(no subject)
Innocent
Hi, I'm Lenora Rose and it has been 67 days since my last entry...

Oh, wait, LJ is a habit I didn't especially want to break.

This is officially my due date for the baby, but he/she is still internal for now. No obvious complications, the baby is head down (She double-checked with a mini-ultrasound, since the last time she thought Joseph was, and we found out she was wrong at eight centimetres dilated...), so no rush just yet.

Quick summary:

January: Not much else but what i posted about already, and the trip to Orlando ate the reast of the month. Well, Colin added a series of kitchen cupboards we thoroughly needed. My teas are all in order! :)

Orlando, Florida: Even the quick summary kind of warrants its own post, so I'll do that.

Event immediately after: The SCA even was a lovely coffee-house themed event, low key but pleasant. Colin and I traded off chasing Joseph, then, for the sake of our sanity and staying at the event at all, Colin drove him to his grandma's house, and came back for feast. Next time, we arrange to do something like that beforehand.

Rest of February: Spent recovering from the lingering cough (December flu turned into bronchitis, also faded, got exploded in Florida, and while it got noticeably better the moment we flew back from the allergy-state it hung on), and not getting much done, it felt like. Did a fair bit of walking.

March: Not too much different, except that the weather has turned lovely, and mroe of the arrangements for new baby have been made, and some more house cleaning, and an ongoing craft project. After about 2 weeks cough free, at last, I caught a cold, but it's feeling like it will recover much faster. And didn't get as much walking in this last week or so, because ow. Joseph is up to 3 days a week at nursery school and still enjoying it, and taking occasional days with Viking Nanny, a friend's new child care venture. His current musical favourites are the Sing-along cd his aunt bought him from Disney, with his name inserted (Not as bad as we feared but far from good from the adult perspective), a few Sesame Street based songs - C is for Cookie especially - and Beethoven's 5th Symphony. And the Lulu and the Tomcat version of Wynken, Blynken and Nod, which used to be his least favourite thing of theirs.

Writing: Virtually not happening at all, other than e-mails and the like. I did work some on getting a coherent plot synopsis for Labyrinth, but other than that, my word count for the last 3 months has been on the hundreds. I've been roaming through old project after project (Which has included some mostly very minor bouts of editing), and nothing has been sticking. I think I've decided what I *should* do, and how to get myself going on it, just in time to likely be derailed by baby. :)

Crafting: I've also been working on a semi-secret craft project alongside Colin - I'm being outclassed by my husband. Of course, he's doing things like running off to the makerspace to do fancy laser etching, where I'm at home arguing with a sewing machine... My only hint is that it started with me making a bunch of new sketches of elephants. Elephants are weird, when one has spent all one's animal time drawing birds, mostly hawks, and more usual mammals like foxes and deer and horses. Elephants are made of some distinct and easy shapes from a drawing perspective, but when you really look at how they're assembled, that is one strange beastie. Still pretty cool, though.

My mother in law arrived yesterday, to help be ready for the baby. We were going to wait for the actual good news, but they found a last-minute seat sale, which is getting less common.

I have 2 tentative plans with friends for the weekend, and more semi-secret work to do. I really hope I don't pop *quite* yet.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
12th-Jan-2015 12:24 am - Travel, and parental fretting
Innocent
Feels half pointless to say so when I haven't exactly been blogging as much as I used to, but I almsot certainly won't in the next couple of weeks. We're headed to Orlando as of Wednesday for a family trip/visit (We'l;l be seeing my in-laws, including Colin's sister, again). At the time the trip was planned, it was assumed we would have maybe seen my M-i-L in November and nobody else since summer or longer, not that the loss of a family member would cause them all to visit in December.

Mostly we're planning the expected touristy things - some of the more toddler friendly with JoJo, some with just Colin and I (or with his sister as well) while JoJo stays at the resort with the grandparents.

Travelling while fairly heavily pregnant is something I'm not entirely looking forward to, but we are all planning carefully around, and I suspect the result will be the same increase in physical activity I've been wanting anyhow. And I have the sense to monitor my need for down time.
___________________

Joseph saw the doctor for a check-up, just because he hasn't been since he was around 18 months and needed his last vaccination until he's 5. And the Doctor strongly suggested, just from his behaviour in the office, that we have someone from Child Development Clinic look at him. Because some of it struck him as very abnormal for Joseph's age. He was, I admit, being especially bad at the doctor's office, being bored and restless, and thus even less responsive than usual, but not so far outside his normal range that I could shrug it off as just a bad day.

I can see it. Joseph is bright, and physically active, and displays high intelligence. Yet he often doesn't pay attention. He's got excellent memory and a good vocabulary but still doesn't always do dialogue or respond. He's missing some social skills and social cues, and even his lack of fear or shyness around strangers, which I consider a plus in most cases, could be symptomatic.

One oddity that has stood out for me for a while is, he knows Mommy -- especially, but also Grandmas and Daddy -- give him kisses. But he has never, or at best extremely rarely, tried to reciprocate. He's always been bad at imitation games, at copying things other people do. Usually because he stops watching them, not because he can't understand when he does look and think about it.

I would not be surprised if any look at him determines he falls inside the range of neurotypical, even if he has a few outlier traits (That's where I am, after all, especially re the outliers). I would be not at all surprised to learn it's mostly ADD, with the social skills mostly a matter of distraction -- a result rather than a symptom. (His uncle has, and one grandmother almost certainly has, ADD). I would be a bit more surprised, but consider it well within the realm of possibility, that there's a bit more going on and that some of those are symptoms of something in the range of low-grade autism or Asberger's. (He pretty definitely doesn't, at least at his age, have any sign of Colin's family's depression and anxiety disorders.)

I would be HUGELY surprised, and deeply skeptical, if anyone thought it was something serious enough to require medication.

I can say that there's nothing serious enough that he couldn't have learned to cope in a time period where forcing kids to cope or fail was the norm. I consider it plausible that, in these days of more awareness and accommodation, there are ways me might be happier and more able to learn if a diagnosis can be made.

And yet I fret. Is he having these problems because of times I didn't pay him enough close attention? I love him dearly, I try to express it daily, I try to give him social time. I also try to give him time to learn to play alone, while I work on other things (lunch, or a puzzle, or a book of my own.) He's seemed to be good at coming up and asking for attention or for a specific thing he needs while I'm doing this, but did I overdo the "mommy is doing other stuff" moments and underdo the rest? I don't think so, I think I struck a fair balance between over-hovering and under-attending, and one that doesn't seem too different from most other parents I've seen -- except apparently in my deep anxieties.

And yes, I know the "refrigerator mom" theory has been pretty heavily debunked (unless you're talking levels of isolation and non-socialization that would be visibly abusive), and that that's pretty much what the anxieties are pressing.

But I'm not a perfect mom. I get horribly frustrated when he does the things he knows are wrong and that we've said no to for the fifteenth time in 2 days. I get frustrated he doesn't do things I think he should know how to do by now, because he's been shown dozens or more times (especially when there are other things, things that play to his strengths, that he has learned how to do in a snap.) I get frustrated, period. I fret about not getting to do my own thing, when frankly, I DO, a fair bit (And a number of times when I don't, it's self-inflicted.) I fret about doing too little for him. I fret about doing too much for him. I fret about paying less attention to him while we have guests over (Even though the guests often also help with him, or pay attention to him that's new and different.) I fret about him not spending enough time with his Daddy as caregiver. I fret about asking Colin to do too much when he's tired from work and I don't have a solid reason. I fret I don't clean enough (I'm right about that one).

All of which means, of course, that if something is wrong that will be an issue for his whole life, not just a brief hitch in his early years, my brain has ample fodder for ways to blame me.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
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