Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ode To The Nap

I feel like writing a sonnet to the toddler nap, in the hopes that it will stick around a bit longer.  Very, very sadly, it seems to be on its way out.  I would say Owen naps maybe 4 days a week, but that estimate could be generous.  He just truly seems to not be tired often, and unless the sleep overtakes him, he doesn’t relax enough to nap.

Sean is the nap king: he’ll go up to Owen’s room and hold him while sitting in the chair, and forbid him to talk or wiggle, and more times than not Owen will then fall asleep.  Susan and I can’t really make this happen.  The frustrating thing is that on the weekend I’ll try to get him to sleep and have no luck, and so Sean will go up and get him snoozing, and then Owen will sleep for two hours!  So clearly there is some need for sleep; it just is hard to unlock.

I can sometimes get him to nap on Saturdays after he gets tired out at his swim lesson…but sometimes not.

And what makes me think the nap is departing for good is that Owen really isn’t cranky on the days when he doesn’t nap.  He’ll get a little manic by the end of the day and have some impulse control issues (knocking over glasses of water is a favorite, for example), but he’s not really temper trantrum-y like he used to be on nap-less days.

We’ve tried, too, the “quiet time” version of naptime, but I really can’t understand how people make this work.  Owen will happily scream “Mommy!  I’m awake!” at full throttle for a whole hour.  I’ve tried putting books in his crib, but he throws them out.

I'm too busy to nap.

When he does nap, though, it is still so wondrous!  He gets up about 5:30, so after playing with him from 5:30 to 1:00, it is so lovely to be just me on the couch with some books and some coffee.  Alas!  It was the best of times!  O nap! – we hardly knew ye!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Plum Dumbledore's Rampages

Almost two months have passed since Plum got all his teeth removed during his dental surgery.  He is all healed, but we have definitely been experiencing a few bumps in the road.  Or puddles, I should say.  The vet had thought that maybe Plum’s forays outside of the box had been due to mouth pain, and that after his surgery he wouldn’t need his calming meds.  Sadly, this has turned out not to be the case.  Now that Plum feels better, he apparently feels even more better being a jerk to Posy and peeing in our recycling area and kitchen.  It is annoying.  I’ve been trying to slip his meds back in his food, but tiny though they are (1/4 of a small pill), he must smell it in the food, and of course will have nothing to do with the food once the pill is there.  I’m going to have to get pill pockets again and hope that he can gum them.

I'm naughty!

Since Plum’s surgery we’ve been feeding both cats canned food and no dry, since Plum can no longer chew it.  The one problem with this is that one or the other cat now coughs up a hairball nightly.  I need to up the amount of cat brushing I do.

On the positive side, ever since his recovery from the surgery, Plum has become a lap cat, which he never was before.  In the evenings when I sit on the couch, he is right there ready to climb on my lap and snuggle.  I assume that pain must have kept him more solitary before?  At any rate, it is rather nice, although Posy would beg to differ, since my lap previously was available to her if she wanted it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Owen told me today that my perfume “Smells nice!  Like cheese.  Like bread!  Like compost!”  Um, compost is not really the scent I was trying to evoke.

Owen looking into his full diaper pail:  “Oh.  This is not good.”

And in the Y locker room after swim class last Saturday, Owen looked around and proclaimed the place “a terrible mess.”  And then he said, “I need a paper towel.”  To clean up the mess, you see.  (It actually wasn’t so terrible of a mess.  Just wet.)  There was a phone on the wall of the locker room and Owen said it was his turn to use it.  While we were waiting for the swim lesson before Owen’s to end so that his could begin, Owen told me I was too big for the pool.  I told him I was pretty sure I could fit.

He also loves (once again) to go down the basement to Sean’s tool bench and gaze admiringly at all the tools hanging on the peg board.  Sean has nails in a board that Owen is allowed to hammer.  While at the bench, he talks nonstop (and somewhat unclearly) about his hobby.  Apparently tools are his hobby—and we are not sure where he got this from.

When I come home from work these days, he likes to introduce me to Dorothy.  He’ll make a kind of magnanimous sweeping gesture towards Dorothy with his arm and say to me, “This is Dorothy!”  In case I had forgotten.  He also told Susan when I got home the other day that she should give me a hug.

He’s been a bit worried that there are monsters in the heating vent in his bedroom.  When I say there are not, he then has to list all of the other places in the room where monsters are not (the lamp, the bookcase, the diaper pail, my belly, etc.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Owen Is a Perch

I finally got around to signing Owen up for swimming lessons at our neighborhood YMCA a few weeks ago.  (Part of the reason why it took me so long is that joining the Y, surprisingly to me, is prohibitively expensive.  It was something like a $125 joining fee and then $79 per month for us all to have a membership.  Who can afford that?  Not us.  But it turns out that Owen can join with no joining fee and at a cost of $20 a month…much better!)  I signed him up for a “Perch” class, which is a class for 19 month-olds to 3 year-olds, and the class is for the child with a parent. 

Owen had never been in a pool before this – just the ocean in Maine last summer, which he did like, although it took some initial coaxing.  So I wasn’t sure how he would do in the pool, although I was pretty sure that if I were in the water with him, he would want to stay there.  He’s had two classes now and both went really well!  On the first day, he walked right behind me down the steps into the water, holding on to the railing, but with no hesitation.  At about ten minutes into the lesson, he asked for a “Daddy hug” (Sean was sitting in the gallery watching the lesson), but after I distracted him from the Daddy hug, he was fine.  Sean said he was smiling most of the lesson, which is good.

I also wasn’t sure if he’d be as willing the second time, but this Saturday went really well too.  The teacher has them practice kicking, throwing a toy in the water and then making their hands into “spoons” and scooping the water to reach the toy, and blowing bubbles in the water.  Owen had never had his face in the water, and still isn’t comfortable submerging even his chin.  He also doesn’t like it when water goes in his ears, so will struggle to get upright after being on his back in the water.  But the whole point is just to get him comfortable in the water, and I think he is becoming that.

He’s strangely buoyant in the water and very pink—bobbing Owen about in the pool is oddly not unlike swimming with an easter ham.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Reviews February 2015

The Swerve: How The World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt.  I chose to begin this book after completing Anthony Marra’s novel, which contained many torture scenes.  I figuredThe Swerve would be the opposite of torture, and it basically was, except for, you know, the occasional burning to death during the Inquisition….  Greenblatt traces the impact of Lucretius’s poem, On the Nature of Things, from the times in which it was written, to its disappearance for centuries, and then its discovery by Poggio Bracciolini, a rather secular papal secretary in the 1400’s.  He uses the poem as a fascinating way into an exegesis of the beginning of modern thought, and how whereas the poem was first a product of its epicurean times, readers and supporters then had to find their way back to Lucretius’s many points, when to do so required much bravery.  It was a really good read about a topic that was new to me, and I felt a bit smug upon completion—look at me digesting this healthy word salad!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  This is a fascinating novel about what happens before and after a flu mutation kills 99% of the planet, and I loved it.  It could easily have been twice as long as it is, but Mandel does a great job of focusing on a handful of people and their situations in this new world, and then goes back and forth between the moment the change occurred, the characters’ lives when everything was normal, and then also now that twenty years have passed.  She in particular follows a group of actors and musicians who travel on foot from town to town (in the Michigan and Toronto areas) and perform symphonies and Shakespeare.  It’s just really well done—great story-telling, and interesting, realistic characters, and good writing.  I was sorry when it ended and I’ve been thinking about it for the past two weeks.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.  I thought it would be hard to be the book I read after completing Station Eleven, but Fowler’s novel is equally as good.  She creates a wonderful narrator with a really funny voice and outlook, who tells her story but starts in the middle.  She was a chatterbox as a child, so to get her to stop talking so much, her mother told her to only say out loud one out of every three things she thinks—a theme she repeatedly returns to, what is said versus not said, and how you choose to tell a story.  Anyway, the gist of the novel is that Rosemary, the narrator, had a brother and a sister, and one of them was a chimp, who at a certain point was taken away from the family.  It’s an excellent, witty, and original novel.

Garnethill by Denise Mina.  Somewhere a few years ago I read a blog entry about well-written mysteries, and then made note of what people recommended in the comments.  Several recommendations were for Denise Mina’s “Scottish Noir” mysteries, and I began with Garnethill, which is the first novel in a trilogy.  It’s good.  It takes place in Glasgow, and centers on a young woman, Maureen, who wakes up in a nightmare situation, and then tries to solve the mystery herself since the police are inclined to blame her or her innocent brother.  She’s a bit of a mess—irreverent, a boozer, a recovering incest survivor—and also witty and charismatic.  It’s a compelling read, and I will move happily on to the second book in the series.

Sun Storm by Asa Larsson.  This is one of those books that was recommended by someone in the New York Times’s By the Book column, in which they interview authors about books.  I wrote the name down on a scrap of paper, squirreled the scrap away, and then by the time I found it again had completely forgotten the recommendation’s origin.  So some author recommends Asa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson mysteries, but I no longer remember whom.  Anyway, this is the first in the series and I enjoyed it very much.  Rebecka is smart and grumpy and does not suffer fools gladly.  This particular mystery takes place way up in the north of Sweden, so there’s snow everywhere and of course, lots of coffee.  The writing is rather point blank, as opposed to flowery, and Larsson practices an economy of words on the whole.  Rebecka is a tax attorney, but travels back to her hometown to help out a childhood frenemy.  The mystery concerns a murder in an evangelical church, and all the church folk immediately close ranks.  It was a good read and I shall eventually read more in the series.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.  This book holds the #1 spot on several Top 100 Mysteries Lists, and I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  It was written in the 1930’s, I believe, and is one of several “Inspector Grant” mysteries.  In this one, Grant is in the hospital having injured his legs and back in a previous case.  Forced to lie supine for a few months, and made miserable by this fact, a friend tries to get him interested in solving a historical mystery.  He ends up investigating via historical document whether or not Richard the III really did murder the two young princes in the tower.  It was fascinating and a quick and witty read.  It’s interesting also to see how big a role rumors end up playing in what is considered to be historical truth.  Poor Richard the III!

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum.  I really enjoyed Meghan Daum’s latest collection of essays, the subject of which ranges from meeting Joni Mitchell to the death of her mother to deciding not to have children to going to a party at Nora Ephron’s.  She is my age and grew up a few towns over from me, so I feel like we share many of the same cultural and temporal references – but regardless of that, her essays are well written and thoughtful and what she writes about within each essay is interestingly juxtaposed.  Her rather considerable ego is a weakness, but the essays are honest and on the whole very hard to put down.