a garden in riotous bloom
Beautiful. Damn hard. Increasingly useful.
earlier sprouts 
rosefox: A cheerful fellow with a giant chaotic jumble on a leash. (busy-good)
"My arms aren't that sore, I can totally go to the gym and work with a new personal trainer," I said on Monday.

"Ow, ow ow ow," I said on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The weird thing is that it seems to have almost all been muscle soreness. Now that my biceps and deltoids are no longer scream-sobbing in agony, my forearms are likewise basically fine. So being able to work my muscles that hard without triggering my tendons is good news. But goddamn that hurt.

Okay, my right forearm tendon is slightly annoyed because someone told me about agar.io and it's exactly the sort of game I will play obsessively for far longer than is good for me. And my left hand and wrist are cranky in a weird new way; I seriously think I vexed them by holding my giant phone too much and overextending my left thumb. (Dear phone manufacturers: some of us WANT high-end phones that are smaller. Some of us want them A LOT. *sigh*) But neither ache is doomful; ice and Celebrex and a wrist brace and getting enough sleep (ever) should take care of them.

Naturally I have another appointment with the trainer this coming Monday. I will ask him to go a little easier on me. I realize that muscle soreness is part of strength training but I should not be nearly in tears whenever I try to fully extend my arms for four days after a workout.

Other than my perennially cranky limbs, my health's been very good. I've been moving around enough to keep my knees happy. I don't remember the last time anyone in the house had so much as a cold. My ears are being very well behaved. I have a weird ongoing thing where it sometimes feels like food is caught in my throat, but my ENT checked it out and says it's just congestion.

I finally went to a decent allergist (after years of thinking I should) and learned that I'm allergic to roaches and dust mites; we don't have roaches but we do have a lot of dust, given all the books and all the cats, so I guess that's a good reason to change my sheets weekly, have the sainted Angela over to clean the house monthly, and maybe get an air purifier for my room. I could also get allergy shots but there's no guarantee they'll help, I hate injections, and it just seems like more than I can emotionally cope with right now. Ask me again when I've slept.

Still not caught up on sleep post-RWA. Hoping to fix that this week.

=====

X has been reading a MeFi thread on emotional labor. That led to this piece on what exactly emotional labor is and how to know when/whether you're doing it (h/t [personal profile] regyt), and this checklist on Google Docs, which is being collaboratively updated (and occasionally vandalized, but that's the internet for you).

Somewhere in there was a link to this totally fascinating piece at the Atlantic about the habits of highly successful partners. This in particular grabbed my attention:
Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t—those who turned away—would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
X and J and I have a household Slack, which we basically use like IRC. It's a place where we can hang out together, share links, crack jokes, gripe about annoyances, say "what's for dinner?" or "can I get a hug pls?" or "while you're at the store...", and be as interactive or non-interactive as we like without all having to be in the same place. We keep it up when we're at work or in our separate rooms.

I'd estimate that 80% to 90% of our chat in Slack is bids, or responses to them. "This is cool!" "Oh yeah, it is!" Constant tiny positive reinforcement all day.

No one's chained to it. We all get dragged into meetings or run to appointments or forget to say "I'm heading out" before signing off. That's not a problem because we know to expect it and we have a good base level of trust. But it really does feel good when we're all there and one of us posts a lolcat and the other two reply "hahahaha". Such a simple little thing, but so quietly gently affirming: you matter.

=====

J went out of town for a week. Every day he was gone, Alex got more and more vocal and unhappy and lonely and affectionate. When he came back Alex glued himself to J and would not leave his side until J went to bed and shut the door. Then Alex plunked down sadly outside J's room, looking woefully at me every time I walked by. Apparently he has decided that he's J's cat. J wasn't consulted about this but doesn't appear to be displeased. He still gets to pick our next cat. :)

The cats are generally getting along very well. There's still occasional chasing and swatting and hissing, but you know, they're cats. Sam and Sophie generally hang out on X's bed all day, grudgingly managing to get within a foot or two of each other. Alex sleeps in my room at night, up on top of the dresser; Sam sleeps on my bed or windowsill.

We still have no idea how they'll all react to the appearance of a baby. We'll figure that out when it happens, I guess.

=====

We did nearly everything on our baby prep checklist for July, hooray! X did their first round of periodontal surgery. My mother is making great strides on the baby shower planning. We wrapped up the last of the legal stuff that can happen before there's an actual baby. Our registries and wishlists are thoroughly populated.

The major incomplete thing is building bookcases (we did do most of them but there's one left), culling already-read print books that we can easily replace in digital if we decide we want to reread them, culling unread print books that (let's be honest) we're never going to read, unpacking the last of the book boxes, and finally having all (all!) of our books shelved. Unfortunately this requires us to be in our oven-like living room during the hottest part of the year, so it may not happen until September.

In the meantime, this month I'll be interviewing neighborhood pediatricians and day care centers (we're not planning to use day care, but as [livejournal.com profile] karnythia pointed out, if we change our minds, better to already know which ones are great and which ones are awful); we'll get the baby shower details nailed down and invitations sent out; X will have their mid-trimester ultrasound, and we'll try to record this one for the grandparents; they'll also do their second (hopefully final) round of periodontal surgery; we'll meet with our doula, the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] beetiger; we'll sign up for childbirth classes and infant/child first aid classes; we'll figure out approximately how we want to stagger our various parental leaves and then start negotiating with our various bosses; and we'll make plans for when J's mother visits in September.

=====

And because I totally needed a new side gig while all this is going on:

Introducing Reading While Cooking! [livejournal.com profile] mrbelm and I are collaborating on this literary and culinary advice column. Submit a request with your preferences and restrictions, and we'll recommend books and recipes for you. The first post went up today and we plan to do at least one a month, maybe more.

We're very grateful to the people who have put requests in our queue, since we couldn't really do an advice column without people who want advice. If you want some tasty things to read and eat, send us a request!

It's the first time I've tried using Patreon; so far we have one backer who's pledging a whole $2 per post. :) But it's a start. If we're not profitable by the end of the year, we'll probably consider the project a glorious failed experiment--as so many books and recipes are--and move on to something else. In the meantime, we're having fun.
 
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