Author Archives: caseykins

Victorian Confinement

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I’m nine days away from my due date today, and I have been pondering pregnancy in general.  I always used to tell Brian that I felt like we could handle this parenting thing.  I read a book about Victorian life a while ago and they had horrifying child-raising practices.  Dosing a baby with laudanum was common, and fruits and vegetables were considered dangerous for babies and toddlers until, like, 3.  If the human race survived the Victorian era, surely Brian and I could raise a healthy child in this one.  I mean, we’re already not going to give him any laudanum. That means we’re ahead of the curve, right?

The Victorian’s didn’t have it all wrong, though.  At least not among the upper classes…

I used to think that Victorian confinement was such a sexist practice.  Like, why can’t a woman go out in society that last trimester?  What’s so wrong or unnatural about being pregnant that she has to stay at home and hidden?  She can totally still do things.

Right about now, I’d LOVE me some Victorian confinement.  Three months in the house to just relax and only see my nearest and dearest?  Yes please.  I could stay in my pajamas all day long and read romance novels.  I wouldn’t have to worry about braving the hip pain on the staircase at work or picking the spidery elevator instead.  Didn’t sleep at night?  No problem.  Just sleep all day.  No dressing up, or trying to squeeze my feet into the one pair of shoes that mostly still fits.  I could still see my best friends and my family.  Sounds amazing, right?

How do we get back to that, guys?  I mean, I guess I’d rather have Paid Family Leave first, but once that’s over I vote that we lobby for the right to confinement next – 3 months off before your due date to just wallow in the symptoms, think about how great having a small baby around is going to be, and make the best of it.  I think it’s an important conversation we’re not having.

I stop working tomorrow, so I’ll have about a week of that goodness if this kid doesn’t come early.  I’m still hoping that he does, though.  He’s not even born yet, and I already know I’d rather have a small hand grasping my finger than enough sleep.

It’s going to be weird to be a parent.  Obviously what I need is 3 months of confinement to adjust to the idea of it all…

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Nanowrimo 2017 Update

Nanowrimo is in full swing, and it’s been a nice distraction from being pregnant.  Which, PS – the symptoms just got REAL, guys.  Like, the crap that was happening before feels like it was just an inconvenience.  If I’m up and around now, you can pretty much assume I’m not pain free.  Not even Tylenol cuts it anymore. And then there’s the witching hour when, at 7:00 pm on the dot, my right leg decides to get restless to the point where I sometimes can’t sleep.  Couple that with a kid shoving his fists into my hips and I’m basically a wreck.

The good news is that we’re at 18 days and counting until this kid is due.  I don’t have to suffer for much longer.

Nano has given me something else to think about for a while, which has been nice.  Instead of beating myself up about all the stuff on the baby list I have to still do and worrying about my hips, I can instead agonize over the fact that I haven’t been able to get a good word count together for Nano.

I have 450 new words so far.  That’s it.

I’ve never failed this badly at Nano, and I’m not 100% sure what to claim as the cause.  I’m relatively certain it isn’t the pregnancy, because writing isn’t physically onerous.  My brain is working fine.  I think it might be that I’m just SO rusty.  I probably haven’t written anything new in over a year.  I’ve been editing things instead.  It feels like I don’t know how to go back to creating things from scratch.

Of course I DO know.  The reality is that you sit yourself in the chair and you force yourself to put words down (however bad) until you have a story with a beginning, middle, and end.  Then you go back through and make it something that won’t embarrass you to show to others.  I’m just feeling such an aversion to it right now.

Maybe I tried to thrust myself too far into the deep end.  I don’t know.  But I do know I’ll need a new plan if I’m going to make this work.  I still have time to turn it around.  I’ve done it before six days into Nano, and sometimes longer.

Alright, I’m off to regroup and get some writing done.

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Nanowrimo Advice

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This is just a quickie blog post.  Since Nanowrimo is just a little more than a week away (yikes!) I thought I would post some links to some advice/writing I had crafted from earlier years.  I have six wins under my belt at this point, so I feel like my street cred is valid.

Also, all of this advice still applies.

Why Nano is worth it: https://caseykins.com/2015/10/22/on-my-love-for-nanowrimo/

General Nano Tips: https://caseykins.com/2015/10/26/nanowrimo-advice/

A breakdown of my planning process, in detail: https://caseykins.com/2016/10/13/nano-nuts-and-bolts/

That’s it for today.  I’m writing short stories this time, which are both easier and harder.  And, of course, I’ll be interrupted by the end of the month by a small, hungry, and active boy.  The madness just got madder.

If you’re joining the party, good luck!

 

 

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The Third Trimester

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I was going over old Blog entries last week, and it’s amazing to me how much has changed in just a year.  It’s not just the political situation, but also the fact that I wasn’t at all thinking “kids” like I am this year when I’m basically obsessed.  And the old pregnancy posts are so interesting.  I had already forgotten some of it, like his little bird flutters in the early days.  That first ultrasound he was such a froggy thing, and now he’s a real human being with recognizable parts on the ultrasound screen.

I’m well into the third trimester now, and close enough to 8 months that I’m claiming I am.  I felt like complaining through a lot of this pregnancy, but for some reason I don’t want to do that anymore.  I don’t think things have gotten better.  I think I’ve just become resigned to them.  The hip pain only gets worse with time, and I can almost feel my pelvis rubbing in disturbing ways when I try and climb into bed around my pregnancy pillow.  I’m waddling, and I say “oof” just about every time I get up and start moving (which amuses me).  I try to do it quietly the 12 times a night I get up to pee so I don’t wake Brian.  Someone deserves to get sleep around here.

But honestly, I’m not doing that badly.  My constant pregnancy cold seems to have gone away, and I AM sleeping fairly well.  My Gestational Diabetes diet is repetitive, but it’s all stuff I like to eat.  I have never been so excited to be diagnosed as anemic, because the iron pills have me feeling GREAT by comparison.  I mean, I still feel mostly like I could use a nap.  But the debilitating exhaustion is gone, and I’ve even been able to enjoy things that would have floored me previously – the LA County Fair, Oak Glen Apple Picking, a shopping trip longer than 15 minutes… And the hip pain is only really bad in the mornings and at night after I’ve been static for a long time.  As soon as I get moving, the pain is manageable.

At my latest appointment, we got excellent news.  Baby is measuring at an estimated 5 lbs 3 oz, so that’s one complication of Gestational Diabetes we dodged.  No Macrosomia (big body).  He cannot physically gain 5 additional lbs in a month so even if things go totally off the rails he won’t be over 9 lbs.  I’m breathing a sigh of relief since I’m the one that has to give birth to him, and would have been pressured to induce early and/or have a C-section.  We still have Jaundice and his non-ability to regulate his own blood sugar to dodge as complications, so I’m not totally off the hook. But knowing we’re clear of one makes me optimistic we can be clear of the others.

The baby is getting more fun.  He’s so big now that I feel every little flutter, and can sometimes feel individual body parts.  His toes sticking out near my ribs are the most common.  His movements are strong enough that he sometimes wakes me up at night.  His arms like to dig into the space near my hip joints.  My gigantic stomach undulates when he moves, and you can clearly see it rippling.  It blows Brian’s mind.  It kinda blows mine, too, although I’m more used to it.  It’s this weird combination of disturbingly alien and exciting.

I was doing pretty well with the stretch marks, too, until recently.  This kid has been pushing out on me for more room, and I noticed the other day that they’re everywhere in a nice line across my stomach.  Don’t tell anyone, but I like it.  I’ll be happier when they fade from purple, but I have this kid on me forever now.  It’s like nature’s memorial tattoo, and I didn’t even have to deal with needles to get it.

We’re at T-minus 5 weeks and some change now until we meet this fellow in person.  I’m hoping it will go fast.  I’m REALLY looking forward to Jelly Belly Sours, gingersnap cookies, and small baby toes.  I predict he’s going to like Christmas lights, too, although maybe he’ll be too young to notice.  Still, even if HE’S too young, I can enjoy penguin onesies and small Christmas sweaters.

I do hope he decides his birthday is soon…

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On Writing in 2017, and Nanowrimo

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We’re getting to the end of the year, and I’m starting to think about my resolutions from last year.  Spoiler: I completed almost none of them.  I just found the blog entry that John Scalzi wrote the other day that I thought was incredibly poignant.  And it instantly made me feel less guilty, too. Frankly, he explains it better than I ever could: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/10/02/2017-word-counts-and-writing-process/ 

I thought my lack of production was a little bit of depression, or perhaps I was just in a non-prolific season right now.  After all, you can’t be on-point all the time, right?  Reading Scalzi made me realize that it’s probably not me… and a lot of other people are having this problem too.

I’ve been doing exactly what he says he had been doing.  I’ve been trying to figure out why my system isn’t working and how I can go back to it.  I’ve wasted almost a year on it.  I don’t know what the answer is yet, but I know now that I have to regroup and find a new normal for myself.  The old way isn’t going to work in this climate.  Or, most likely, with baby in tow.

At least I’ve been feeling more like a writer lately. I have to thank the L. M. Montgomery institute for that.  There’s nothing like a deadline and a required bio to get the juices flowing.  I’ve been feeling that soul-itch, too, to put words on paper and make a new thing out of them.  I haven’t felt that way in a long time.  Now all I have to do is come to terms with my less-than-stellar production.

Nanowrimo is gearing up and I want to participate.  I have a 7 year winning streak to uphold, and the knowledge that the biggest writing party on the web is happening and I’m not a part of it is agony.  But this year I’ve decided I’m not writing a new novel from scratch.  I’m writing instead a few short stories for a collection I’d like to put out sometime this year (with the excuse being that I’m learning how to format and upload a Kindle book, in prep for Blue Gentian).  So, 5 short stories in just a few weeks?  I probably won’t make it, but it will be fun to try (and to be able to call myself a rebel for once).

If you’re interested, The book will be called “A Blatantly False History of the World” and will feature the following stories.  Everything with an asterisk is something I still need to write or edit heavily.  The ones with titles have plots.

  1. The Sea – Rome, 73 BC
  2. Ordeals – England, 1490
  3. The Wages of Sin – Plymouth Colony, 1622
  4. *A Stitch In Time – Virginia, 1779
  5. There Must Have Been Some Magic – London, 1814
  6. *Coyote’s Earth – California, 1831
  7. The Call – Arlington, 1862
  8. *Dr. Pragnum’s Restorative Tonic – England, 1896
  9. The Immortals – Italy, 1917
  10. Plenty of Fish – India, 1924
  11. Easterbay – Costal Maine, 1945
  12. *Thunderbird’s Desert – California, 2017
  13. *???

Looking for a Nanowrimo buddy?  I’m Caseykins, and I’ll buddy up right back.  Happy writing if you’re trying it.  And cheers to finding a new normal in this relentlessly stressful world.

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A Weekly Round-up

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My favorite red sheets bit it this week.  I probably shouldn’t be surprised.  They were a gift for Brian and my first Christmas together, and that means they’re about 14 years old; well used and very washed.  My whale-like pregnant flailings to get myself out of bed to pee in the middle of the night is what did them in.  I split them down the middle.

I bought a replacement set this weekend.  They are VERY red.  And the cotton has a kind of sheen to it that the other set didn’t have.  They aren’t satin, but I feel like maybe I made a mistake.  “Bordello” is not the style I was going for…  Still, they’re comfy.

This kid has started to push on my stomach to see if he can get himself more room.  I can feel his feet pressing slowly outward beneath my belly button.  I looked down the other day when I was getting dressed to find that I have a lovely new set of stretch marks exactly where he’s been pushing on me.  And just about the right width apart to fit a baby foot in between.

I started following Williams Sonoma on Instagram this week, and it’s been torture.  I now want to make all the things, and I’m realizing that cooking is one of the hobbies I miss the most.  I really don’t have the energy to be on my feet that long these days, though.  I settled for buying one of the delicious lumpy pumpkins from Trader Joe’s this weekend.  Last year we kept one through Thanksgiving for decoration, and then I made it into the best pumpkin butter to give for Christmas gifts.  This one is butter-bound too, though right now it looks excellent on my hearth.

Brian bought an electric lawn mower this weekend, and mowed the lawn.  Our previous mower has been broken for a while.  We aren’t sporting a jungle anymore, which is cause for a big “hooray!” I haven’t had the gumption (or ability to bend over) to weed at all, so the yard doesn’t look as nice as I’d like it to.  But it looks a million times better than it used to.  Brian and I might have it sort-of together after all.

That’s mostly it for this week.  We’re at 41 days and counting until this whole motherhood thing becomes real.  I’m already ready.  Too bad this kid isn’t fully baked yet.

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Anne of Green Gables Read Along

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When the L. M. Montgomery institute called for blog entries for their Anne Read-Along this year, I knew I had to be involved.  Anne has been a major part of life from adolescence onward, and I surely would not have found Emily, Rilla, or Valancy without her.   All four girls have shaped my life in innumerable ways.  Anne is the gateway drug to all of it; the crux; where most of us start.

They gave me a hard chapter.  It’s short and not a lot happens.  It took me a while to think about it, but when it was all done I was really proud of what I had come up with: https://www.lmmontgomery.ca/anne-green-gables-read-long-chapter-iii-marilla-cuthbert-surprised  

I can’t wait to see what everyone else does for their chapter.  Reading the other blog entries has already made me see things in the books that I hadn’t before.  Happy reading along.

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That Annual Fall Longing

Fall

It’s that time of year again when everyone else is getting blissful fall and it’s in the 90s in Southern California.  The only fall we’re getting is in the merchandise in the grocery stores.  I will admit that the Roger’s Red is turning brown. I’m pretty sure that’s not fall color, though, but instead it’s being scorched by the sun.  Until about 2 weeks ago, it was over 100 almost every day.  And almost 110 about half of the time. I guess we could pretend?

It’s worse this year because my mother is in Maine and posting pictures of fall colors.  She even has gourds in her planter boxes and mums on the outdoor deck.  There’s nothing prettier than fall in Maine, even after the colors fade and it becomes this stark brown and gray gorgeousness.  It makes me wish California was like that.

Instead, I’ll be putting up the Halloween decorations this weekend.  And maybe thinking about bean soups and squash for dinner.  It IS getting colder at night, I have to admit.  I’ll be crossing my fingers for cold days, with hopes that by the end of October we might be able to have the first fire of the year in the fireplace.  If I can’t have real fall I’ll have the manufactured variety, thank you.

Fall means that this kid is almost here.  We’re just under 2 months now until my due date, and we’re all but ready.  I’m 100% ready.  This pregnancy just gets harder every day with all the joint pain I’m experiencing, although my other symptoms aren’t terrible.  At least I’m sleeping well.

This kid is getting BIG.  You don’t even always need to touch me to feel him moving now.  Especially at night, his strong arms and legs make my stomach visibly ripple.  He’s still measuring exactly in the middle on everything he should be.  He’s already head down, and likely to stay that way.

It makes me think that maybe he’s a more cooperative fellow than I thought he was, after hiding behind my belly-button during ultrasounds and swimming away from the wand all the time.  We’ll know soon enough, though.

I’m eating dates, pondering Caster Oil, raspberry leaf tea, and pineapple juice, and crossing my fingers that this kid is ready a few weeks early.  November 12 would be just about perfect, sir.  Especially because then it would mean that I could get one of those adorable turkey onesies and you could wear it at Thanksgiving.  More fall for all of us!

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I’m realizing why it’s been so hard to blog lately… I’m not really doing anything.  My week mostly looks like me coming home exhausted from work, putting on my pajamas, and reading until I pass out.  I feel a little like a fuddy-duddy.  I let Brian make me dinner every night.  I haven’t even been working on projects, to be honest.  The quilt is still mostly done, and so is the Totoro mobile

Instead, I’ve been reading a weird combination of romance novels and parenting books, rotating back and forth between them.  I consider this the equivalent of Target putting the underwear section next to the baby stuff. Ironic, yet with plenty of precedent.

I have been going through old “inactive” employee files at work, and it’s been a hilarious and poignant time-capsule of documents.  There are pictures of nerdy scientists in those thick-rimmed 1960’s glasses, or wearing vibrantly striped ties from the 1980’s.  The documents are mostly type-written, and my favorite are the ones that are obviously tissue-thin mimeograph copies that someone stuck in their file, some stretching all the way back to the 1940s, in dusky brown.  There are form documents, too, where most of it is typewritten except where the Dean wrote in the person’s name by hand.  Or student evaluations that are also hand-written and then copied for the file.

It’s a strange treasure-trove of old scoldings, merit raises, newspaper articles and pamphlets, and sometimes obituaries.  I found one for a Botanist who was almost sent to a Japanese Internment Camp, but was able to find a home on the east coast with a family in South Carolina instead, to finish his education.

The task itself isn’t supposed to be interesting.  I’m just supposed to run this stuff through the scanner and then save it to the electronic drive.  I got lucky that many of the files are fun.  We’ll see what turns up next…

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Slow and Huffy, or Morla the Box Turtle

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Morla has become quite the fixture in our home, despite his relegation to a corner of the dining room and relative inactivity.  He’s usually either in his pool or in his house, just hanging out.  If you’re lucky, he’ll blink and move his head a bit.

The reason he’s become such a fixture is because he’s hilarious.  Brian swears he looks perpetually grumpy no matter what he’s doing.  I think he looks smugly superior.  When you pick him up, he closes his shell and makes huffy noises as if he’s SO inconvenienced. Either that, or he waves his arms and legs around like he’s flying.  Before we bought him a fancy log house, he would turn over the one I made him from a tissue box and then try to dig through the bottom – or what used to be the top before he upended it. I cut out the bottom for him so he could dig into his loamy bedding, but I guess he doesn’t care.

“What the hell is that noise?” Brian would ask, before investigating.  “Oh…” he’d reply to himself with a chuckle.

Dots doesn’t know what to think, but has decided he needs constant surveillance.  The other cats don’t care.

We thought that Dots would get tired of him, because he really DOESN’T do much.  No sign of that yet.  Every time she gets on the dining room table, she ends up over there staring as Morla wiggles his shell back and forth, adjusting under the light, blinks and raises his head, or plods towards his new house to dig under it for a nap.  She stares if he’s not doing anything, though, too.

Her tail is a calm twitch, and she doesn’t make those chittering noises as if she wants to eat him.  She hasn’t attempted to get into his aquarium, either. She just stares, poised and intent, as he does his turtle thing.  It’s like cat TV.

It’s like human TV for us too – as good as watching an aquarium with all the fish swimming by.  You know, only less exciting.  Except for the constant glee that he seems to eminate.

I really thought I wouldn’t care at all about a turtle I can’t even touch (they can carry salmonella, so I’m a no with the baby on the way).  But he’s been a pretty good addition to what is slowly becoming a menagerie.  I’m glad Brian convinced me to keep him.

Morla is the name of the tortoise in Neverending Story if you were interested.  Bookish and nerdy at the same time – just what this household requires.

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