Sick and pregnant – with updates on writing and homemade yogurt, take 3!

Sorry I haven’t posted for a while. I’ve been sick this past week, and while it’s just a cold, I’ve felt rather grumpy and miserable. I’m really glad that it’s now instead of right around my due date, for sure! But I still wish it would be over.

Fortunately, last night, I got a great night’s sleep! I think I may have finally found the right solution for my restless legs. I’ve been trying to walk at night, pacing up and down for the block or so in front of my house, trying to work the leg muscles a bit. Of course, just walking a short distance isn’t exactly a lot of exercise for them, so a few times I tried sort of high-stepping. And that of course hurt my knee. And in general I wasn’t getting a lot of results. Then on Thursday I saw my doctor and she suggested trying Tylenol PM instead of Unisom. The Unisom definitely made me feel sleepy, which helped, but if my legs were bothering me it still wasn’t enough. She said that Tylenol PM has the Benadryl ingredient in it, and might help. It didn’t. A friend suggested maybe upping the exercise by walking up and down the stairs. That definitely upped the exercise my legs got, but as I was doing it I was conscious that I still wasn’t getting the right muscles (and that it was hard on my knees). Which made it occur to me… wait, since I know which muscles give me problems, why don’t I try isolating those muscles with a workout and see if that helps.

So I waited anxiously for Seth to come home, because he’s great about what exercises to do to work which muscles (so’s Google, except that I didn’t know what the muscles were called and was having trouble finding exercises that didn’t involve lying on my stomach, my back, or were too hard on my knees). He came home and had great suggestions, so I really got a good workout on those muscles, and between that and the Unisom… I slept great!

I’m just hoping that it wasn’t a fluke and that I can reproduce it tonight!

I’ve been having a *ton* of Braxton-Hicks, which is sort of exciting, as I never really got those with the two previous pregnancies! I did have regular, non-painful, contractions with Jocelyn the day before she was born. I thought they were the beginning of the real thing, and timed them and everything, but they ended up fading out overnight. The next morning they found that I was still having some, but irregular and such, so they induced/augmented anyway. These are irregular and I’m pretty sure are just Braxton-Hicks. So that’s kinda neat, because maybe if I’m having those at 36 weeks then it means I’ll go into labor on my own! That’d be a neat change.

I haven’t been keeping up to my intended writing pace the last few days. 😦 I’m trying to do 250-500 words a day, closer to 500 when I can. I did something in the 400s the other night, but since I’d decided to start a scene over and erased a day or two’s work, I probably ended up with fewer words at the end of that day. And last night I only managed a few sentences before Seth came home and needed the computer. Oh, well. So tonight, while I do have a few things I need to do before I start writing, I definitely need to manage to get at least my 250-500 words in before he gets home! Anything after that I can consider a bonus. 🙂

I managed to successfully make flavored yogurt, using gelatin as flavoring! And Beth wouldn’t even try it. 😦 It was really right on, too, the consistency was even just about right. The only thing was that it “set” a bit, so when you scooped it out it would be just a tiny bit lumpy. Alas, she claimed that she “didn’t like Jello.” Not that she’s ever had Jello, but whatever.

So! I told her we could try flavoring it with pudding, which she was agreeable to, but only if she promised she’d at least try it. She did. So, we went looking at the pudding flavors. Of course, pudding only comes in a few flavors, vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, etc. So I subtly pointed out, “Oh, look, here’s raspberry and strawberry,” etc., not mentioning that those were gelatin instead of pudding. She totally went for it, putting strawberry and raspberry into the cart. So, strawberry and raspberry gelatin shall thusforth be known as “pudding.” My plan is to make it the same way I did last time, except that after it sets, I’m going to try the electric mixer on it (I’d go with a blender, but I don’t have one). I noticed that this stuff gets a lot smoother and it doesn’t lose consistency when I mix it with a spoon, so I think that it won’t turn it into milk or anything if I run it through the blender. Between that and the flavors being her favorites, maybe it will work this time! Cross your fingers for me.

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Beware the terrible and-a-halfs!

I have reached that point in pregnancy where you’re torn between wanting it to be over with and wanting a few more precious weeks to relax and *sleep*. Only I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I suppose my feelings on that are rather mixed. I cannot wait to be allowed to sleep on my back again.

I’m starting to feel like a huge, lumbering (okay, waddling) penguin much of the time. It doesn’t help that I did something to my knee a few days back, too much walking around the neighborhood and lifting my knees high as I walked to try to work the kinks in my legs out before bed. I spent a few days gasping in pain every time I bent my leg. Not fun. It seems to be on the mend, fortunately, as does my sleep. I’ve been taking Unisom, which the doctor recommended. It makes me sleepy and sort of hazy, the way Percocet did when I had to take it after my foot surgery (and after childbirth). It doesn’t necessarily conk me out, though. Apparently I can lie in a haze on my bed yet remain awake for an hour or more. However, the only day I really, really couldn’t get to sleep even with the Unisom was the first day I’d hurt my knee and the pain was keeping me awake, and since then it’s really helped. So maybe I’m mostly past that now.

Seth is home, yay! I didn’t want to mention that he was gone, because, yeah, not safe. But he went off for a week to do some testing at a different military base. For the most part, days aren’t so different when he’s gone as when he’s here, since he’s at work during daytime hours anyway. I did miss having him do the one night that was his turn for bath/bedtime that he missed, but it worked out that he only missed one of his two days, so that was something. I got some writing done, although not as much as I would have hoped.

I’ve made a writing goal to try to get 250-500 words down every day. It’s a small goal, I’ll admit, but then I’m not a full-time writer, and I want some of my free time to be free. One nights when I have a great night and get over 1000 words done (okay, so that night I’d missed the night before entirely, so it was really only the equivalent of having two nights with just over 500 words), I’m quite pleased. I obviously don’t know exactly how many words the finished work will be in this draft, but I think 30,000 is a fair estimate, and I’m at 18000. So at this rate I just need another 24 days to finish, which is doable before the baby comes, if just barely.

The story feels… well, pretty crappy, to be honest. I feel like I’ve failed to really execute my idea well onto the paper. And it’s such a great story in plot outline! However, I’m not letting myself dwell on this problem too much, because I keep going back and starting over, and right now I think the best goal is just to focus on finishing the first draft, crappy or no. I really want to get that much done before the baby comes. Then I’ll be busy with the baby and forget about the story for a few weeks. At that point, I think I’ll be ready to go back, do some additional character work, and look at the story as a whole to try to figure out what’s so lackluster and how to give it a burst of life. I’ve already noticed that I do need to do a lot more description, as so much of my story basically comes across as dialogue in a vacuum. So I’m going to work on describing locales a little better, maybe on adding some interesting fantastical features/creatures to the world, and then do some brainstorming about what characters are doing when they talk, what kind of motions they have, or physical reactions, etc. It’s not that I avoid doing that stuff as I’m going along now, but I’m avoiding letting myself get stuck on trying to write that as I go along, if it doesn’t come easily to mind.

I’m really curious how chapter divisions work for professional writers. Do they divide chapters as they go along, like I’m doing, or do they write the story as a solid chunk and divide chapters later? Part of what I wonder is that I try to make chapters roughly the same size (obviously there’s some variance, but I aim for about 1200 words). I try to cut the scene at the most dramatic, “well, I can’t stop here!” part to make the reader turn the page. Etc. But some chapters I imagine I’ll end up adding a lot to, or cutting a lot from, in later drafts. If I add enough to double the chapter and then split it into two, great. But what if it’s just enough to make it a really long chapter but not enough to make it two? Hmm. Well, I’m sure that if the story is good enough to get published, that’s something the editor would tell me. So I won’t let myself be bothered too much.

Both girls are acting up a bit. Maybe it’s that whole “second half of the year” phenomenon. Beth, who just turned 3 1/2, has also just started this. She’s getting more and more independent, but along with that she also really doesn’t like being told what to do. She’s tried correcting me when I tell her to do something instead of asking, or telling me, “No,” or refusing to do things. I’m trying to work on making sure that I ask nicely and say please, just as I want her to do when she asks for something, but sometimes parents *do* have to tell their children to do something and need to be obeyed immediately. “Stay on the sidewalk!” when a child is about to step out and cars are coming needs to be obeyed instantly, not defied because the parent didn’t ask nicely and say please first. She’s a good girl, really, not generally deliberately disobedient, but we do need to work on the balance of power, because she needs to understand that while I won’t lord it over her, I *am* the parent and that gives me certain rights that she doesn’t have, namely that she has to obey me even when she doesn’t want to.

Josie, who has been 1 1/2 for some time now, has been tantruming for some time as well. When she wants something, she wants it, and if she doesn’t get it, she screams, kicks, throws herself onto the ground dramatically, etc. If she’s picked up for safety/politeness reasons, she flails and throws herself around. Etc. She’s having a bit of trouble controlling herself when her desires–no matter how significant–are thwarted. Sometimes a very small thing will set her off (she wants juice, I give her water), and she’ll scream at the top of her lungs for ten or more minutes. I think that if we have any more kids, we should aim for Spring babies, so at least we don’t have all of them in their rough “second half of the year” stage at once, because it certainly does seem accurate!

On the plus side, Josie’s language is taking off in leaps and bounds, which is incredibly fun. She said “I love you” to Seth last night, which was the first time she’s said that phrase. It was adorably cute. I love little beginning talkers.

I’m gonna try to squeeze in a quick nap during the girls’ naptime/quiet time.

Trying on shoes and other girly things

I’ve been really procrastinating on getting my writing done lately. Given that I only have about 5 weeks left (and maybe less if I can help it!) before the baby comes, and I’d like to finish at least a very rough draft by then, this is not a good thing! I would say that I’m perhaps halfway through at this point, and I do at least know where the story is going, but I’ve skipped a few things here and there that I was stuck on and needed to sort out later. Silly practicalities, like… when my characters head off into the woods, what do they have with them? Where did they stock up on sleeping rolls and all sorts of things like that? What do they eat? Okay, not so silly.

I was reading my weekly email from Holly Lisle, who has an email list for writing tips and such, and she talked about having a fairly modest writing goal each day. While part of her point was that it was good to have a goal that you could “blow out of the water,” it also helped me realize that I don’t necessarily have to have hours to write, even if I can just manage to type 250-500 words, that will get me somewhere eventually.

Another revelation was that I’m spending a lot of time plotting, replotting, trying to solve plot issues, thinking about character, etc. And that really I need to get a rough draft written, even if it’s not great. It’s not great. And I know it’s not my best writing. But seriously, I think if I can just get through the entire story, even if it’s predictable and the prose is boring, that will really be a good start. From that I can read it and figure out what’s falling flat and what to do about it, which I can’t do when most of the scenes are in my head or written only in summary. So. I’m trying to push myself to just write, write, write, who cares how good it is, just get something down on the paper. At least 250-500 words a night. I oughta be able to manage that, right? At 500 words a night, I could do another 15,000 words in 30 days. And then when the baby is born, the timing will be perfect to let the novel sit and stew for a few weeks before I begin the revision process.

Aside from writing, today was a reasonably productive day. I find that getting the dishes done *before* getting dressed makes the day start out so much better to me. Somehow it throws things off if I go to get dressed first. I think because after my shower, I’m overheating and my blood pressure is all weird (doesn’t matter what the water temperature is). So I end up needing to sit down and maybe have a drink, and then it’s hard to get going again. So today I got the dishes done, the dining room floor swept, the table wiped, etc., before I went up for my shower. I didn’t get much done after that, as I had promised Beth that I’d watch her new princess movie with her (for some reason lately she freaks out about watching anything by herself, but princess movies are still her weekend treat). Josie was acting insane all morning. Usually she’s happy to see me when I wake up, can’t wait for her morning yogurt and breakfast, etc. Today she was fussing like crazy, didn’t want yogurt, didn’t want to eat cereal, just wanted to throw herself on the floor and wail. So she took a nap while we watched the movie, and that seemed to help things. Maybe she was up obnoxiously early?

We went to a Thomas the Train playdate thing that they have at Toys ‘R’ Us. They have a ton of trains for the kids to play with (although I wish they had a train table instead of just a printed little carpet thing that was way too small for the trains), coloring pages, paper hats, etc. The kids played with trains for a few minutes and tried some coloring. A Toys ‘R’ Us employee did one of the *worst* book readings I’ve ever heard. It was actually mildly humorous, it was just so bad. I thought about offering to read for him, but I thought that would probably be insulting. The kids weren’t so much paying attention to the story anyway. So about 10 minutes of trains, then the girls were off. Josie first. She discovered that the train exhibit was in a clothing area, and what was nearby? Shoes! She immediately sat down in the shoe aisle, grabbed a pair of shoes, pulled off her own, and tried them on. Seriously. 20 months old and already she’s shoe-shopping on her own? Beth wanted in on the action, so pretty soon both of them are trying on shiny pink glittery shoes and the like. Then Josie decided she wanted to play hide-and-seek tag among the clothing shelves, so I spent a while trying to catch and maintain control of a purple blur. Beth mostly hung out near the trains, but the second I let go of Josie she was off running, playing with Koosh balls, looking at clothes, trying to take clothes off the racks, etc. This is not something I’ve had to deal with, because generally I keep her strapped into a cart while shopping, but I hadn’t gotten a cart because we were here to play. I managed to corral her in the train area and get her to color for a bit, then we headed out.

Beth had earned a sticker reward of a Tinkerbell purse, which she’s been really excited about ever since we saw them at Meijer. We checked out a few at TRU while we were there (and she found lots of other future sticker rewards that she wants to try to earn!), but she decided she wanted one from Meijer instead. So we got back into the car and hit Meijer next. They had the perfect Tinkerbell purse (Beth loved it, and Mommy loved it because it was on clearance!). Mommy also got to use a few yogurt coupons combined with a sale. Yogurt was the one thing we were getting short on, so this way we can wait a few more days before grocery shopping (I’d like to get to see Sunday’s sale ad and get the new coupons).

Got home, had lunch, sent the girls for naps and quiet time, and had some quiet time to myself. Gotta work on Beth’s constant interruptions, though. I think I’m going to start doing sticker rewards if she can stay in her room for all of quiet time, because once the new baby is born, getting some interrupted sleep will be really crucial.

I made chocolate chip cookies, so the girls got one each after quiet time/naptime. And while they were cooking I got some vacuuming done. Nothing to make you vacuum at high speed than 10-minute cookies in the oven! Got the hall and the girls’ room done while the cookies baked, then the stairs and our bedroom while the cookies cooled. Whew! I can’t even imagine how many Cheerios there probably are in the vacuum cleaner bag. Possibly half a box’s worth. Josie has a fun new game that she likes to play with the vacuum cleaner, called “Chicken.” Basically she figures out where I’m going to vacuum next, and stands there until the vacuum is about an inch from her feet. Then she either grins at me or moves about a foot away in the direction that I’m going to be vacuuming next. I’ll shoo her away, and she’ll go off for a minute, but she’ll be back a minute or two later and do the same thing. Sometimes she’ll bring a toy or book along that she can “accidentally” drop in the vacuum’s path. Oh, for the days when the girls were afraid of the vacuum cleaner and would run, shrieking, into another room to hide while I vacuumed.

Got some laundry done (but not folded or put away), so I’ve done pretty well in the past few days. Need to clean the “quiet time room” and wash the kitchen/dining room floor and get the laundry actually folded and in drawers, oh, and clean the bathrooms, but in general the house looks pretty good. At least for our house.

I’m growing out of my maternity clothes. 😦 They were bought for pregnancies in which I was far less pregnant during the summer, so it makes sense, I suppose, but it’s still frustrating! I don’t want to buy any new stuff. I did finally give in and buy one new item, though. It’s a very lightweight dress for church. My only maternity dress that I had previously was just a little too low-cut and short for church, more like what you’d wear to a summer barbecue. This one is a little boring, but it’s collared and has a longer skirt, so I’ll feel much more comfortable wearing it to church. I got it at the consignment shop that sells mostly kids’ stuff, so it wasn’t too expensive. Looking forward to wearing it tomorrow. Although I just remembered that I wanted to put a little stitch at the collar to hold it together (it’s one of those collars where you have one side overlap the other, and there’s a tendency on collars like that to gape open a bit more than I’m comfortable with, so I hide a little stitch there and then the overlap stays together).

And… wow. You can tell I hadn’t updated for a while, because this post is way too long. I’ll save everything else for next time!