Update May 29, 2020

Hi all! Great week here!

I’m working on cleaning out my parents’ basement so that a contractor can fix the place up. Dad will probably have to sell the house to afford memory care for mom, so we’re trying to get it into sellable condition. I started with a bookcase that’s falling apart in a corner. Not sure what happened to this one, but it looks like it’s been through the ringer. Some of the books were for young children, and I saved those for IL-17mo. The rest are going to Half Price Books. However, I found out that HPB isn’t buying books at the moment, so I had to store a bunch in my garage. Partly because the point was to get things out of dad’s basement, and partly because J-16 (who is living with my parents at the moment) “cleans” by shoving everyone else’s stuff somewhere out of his way. I suspect he’s the one who did a number on this bookcase:

In the evening on Friday, Aaron and I shared some spaghetti and watched Jurassic Park. And by “share” I mean we each had our own bowl. We didn’t Lady and the Tramp it.

Saturday was raining, so we were unable to do any yard work. I started the day out by going through the rest of Aaron’s photos of D-10, setting aside the ones that would work well for her half of their mom’s surprise scrapbook. I have recently received all of my mother-in-law’s photos from 2012 through the present, and those will take FORever to sort through, as she’s quite generous in her photo-taking.

We spent the evening of Saturday working on fixing a door in dad’s basement. It had been ripped off its hinges, and needed to be repaired with putty and rehung. (It fell off the hinges again a few days later, so we’ll wait until the contractor comes in September.) Then Aaron, IL-17mo, dad, mom, and I had Outback To-Go for dinner. Yum!

Sunday morning, I sorted through my mother-in-law’s pictures from 2012. Here’s my favorite of D:

Favorite picture of M from 2012:

The rest of Sunday was spent clearing out some more of the rocks by the side of the house. Aaron and I started Tricked, by Kevin Hearne, as we’d been listening to this series on road trips together a while ago.

Followed by watching Once Upon a Time with D-10 (M-7 is with his mom for a special pre-birthday treat).

Memorial Day morning, I went through my mother-in-laws pictures of 2013. Favorite picture of M from 2013:

Favorite picture of D from 2013:

The rest of the day went fantastic. It was raining in the morning, and I spent some time cleaning my parents’ house. We had pizza for lunch with Mom, Dad, IL-17mo, D-10, Aaron, and me. Then in the afternoon, we spent a good amount to time trimming the trees and digging out rocks. Here’s a before and after with a couple of the trees (we trimmed three of them):

I actually managed to get a picture of J-16, who looked away as soon as the picture was being taken, saying “what is this woman doing?” Yes, those words literally came out of his mouth.

Aaron helped trim the trees as well as processing the branches afterwards. Unfortunately, I didn’t think of getting an “after” shot of all the processed wood, but he did a fantastic job breaking it down into yard waste and firewood. Now we just have to fill the yard waste bucket once a week for an entire season to get rid of it all.

I paid D-10 $5 an hour to spray off rocks in the driveway and then move them to the clean rock pile. Don’t tell her I was paying J-16 $15 an hour.

After watching some Once Upon a time with Aaron and D-10, I settled down to check out the syllabus for my new class, which started Tuesday. The syllabus said I needed to get 17 hours of work done a week, which may be an exaggeration. Regardless, I guess I’ll have to start getting up at 4am instead of 5am to get everything done.

Tuesday was another good day, though it felt frustrating in the beginning. I started at 4am getting my morning work done and studying. Then a telemedicine appointment for mom, followed by a desperate search for the plug for her pacemaker monitor. That was never found, so I had to call the company and ask for a replacement. (They have sent a new one at no cost). I also had to call the social security administration, which isn’t taking calls right now, apparently. I guess I’ll have to wait until the office opens. I finished Blood Rites while on errands, and started The Golem and the Jinni. I can tell this will be a good book. After studying for a while, Aaron read to all of us, and then the kids went to bed, leaving time for me to finish up going through pictures of 2013. I decided that my scrapbooks for the kids (once their mom’s scrapbook is done) will be 12 pictures for each year of their life – making two scrapbooks for D-10 and 1.5 for M-7. IL-17mo will have only a few pages.

Wednesday was busy day. I took my dad grocery shopping and to an eye appointment. Then I spent a good amount of time cleaning out his basement. I found a bunch of mugs down there, which I plan on washing and selling on Craigslist (if anybody is willing to buy). Some of them are collectibles, but mostly they’re just a variety of mugs. I’ll show you a picture once I have them washed and ready to sell. We also managed to sell our rarely-used exercise bike on Craigslist Wednesday, and got a good amount of money for it. After studying for a while, I watched Once Upon a Time with D-10 and Aaron.

Turns out J-16 and his friend were in the neighborhood when George Floyd was killed. They saw the immediate repercussions, including a bunch of gun-toting idiots which J-16 videoed instead of high-tailing it out of there. His friend was wearing my dad’s F#$% Trump sweatshirt and had a picture taken of him and posted on instagram (or some such place that young people use these days). It had more than 5k likes by the next day. J-16 and his friend went back to the rioting neighborhood a couple of times since then, much to the disapproval of the adults in his life. So far, he seems to have survived unscathed.

Thursday was a hard day. I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to handle the developmental biology class on top of all the other stuff that I’ve got going on in my life. Getting up at 4am worked for the first couple of days, but I can only take so much lack of sleep before I totally break down. So that course is dropped, and I will start taking classes again in a couple of years when we move to Oregon and my Mother- and Sister-in-law can babysit while I study. I also had an assessment to see if I had ADHD. I have a bunch more forms to fill out, and then I’ll get the results soon. I was hoping I could get treated before attending any lectures, as I have a HUGE problem listening to lectures. We finished up the night watching Troll Hunters with M-7.

Friday has gone well so far. I slept in to make up all the sleep I’d missed this week with the class. I took D-10 to Hobby Lobby and picked up a scrapbook for IL-17mo and some more paper for M-7’s and D-10’s books. Then we went to Dairy Queen and sat in the parking lot until they opened. We got everyone but M-7 ice cream. (What kind of kid doesn’t like ice cream?!)

This week I finished listening to Blood Rites by Jim Butcher:

I am currently reading Sorcerer of the North, and listening to Wolf Hall and The Golem and the Jinni. I started listening to Tricked with Aaron while we dig rocks together. Aaron has been reading The Rise of the Evening Star to us in the evening.

I made progress in watching Jurassic Park, Troll Hunters Season 1, and Once Upon a Time Season 1.

Update May 22, 2020

Hi all! This will be my last update before I start school. So it better be a good one.

Saturday Aaron and I got some yard work done. I dug rocks out while he mowed the lawn. In the picture below you can see how many rocks are left. Those were all along the side of the house and down the side of the driveway. We’re getting to be almost done. The picture below that demonstrates how we’re cleaning the rocks.

Sunday was a difficult day here: we were struggling with M’s eating again. Now he’s given up hot dogs as one of his staple foods, meaning milk, Chicken McNuggets, and pork chops as his only complete proteins. And since he doesn’t get the latter two on a daily basis, we’re relying mainly on milk. Because his eating is getting more and more picky, and the occupational therapist said she thought we needed to address a psychological block first, we’re back to therapy starting in early June. Anyway, point is, on Sunday we didn’t get to have family day because we were in a battle with M over a hot dog. We ended up “winning” for once, as he finally ate it, but it made for a difficult morning.

Monday, I took the kids to the park. IL showed that he’s capable of riding the little toad (and of swinging himself on a swing). I wish my videos worked so you could see him swinging himself!

D and M got gigantic cookies. M’s is still sitting in the kitchen, getting hard and useless. D finished hers in one go. She can really pack in the sweets when she’s allowed to. I imagine part of that is that we don’t allow her to eat sweets most of the time, so when she’s allowed junk food, so when she’s allowed junk food she goes overboard.

The rest of the week was mostly uneventful. We had a small scare with M getting GI problems on Wednesday – and that (along with every other symptom in the books) can be a symptom of COVID-19. Luckily, the problems only lasted a day, and I decided that he probably doesn’t have COVID and I can still see my parents.

Aaron finished reading the first Fablehaven book to us:

I’m still currently listening to Wolf Hall, Blood Rites, and reading Sorcerer of the North:

Currently watching Supernatural Season 9 with Aaron, Once Upon a Time Season 1 with D and Aaron, and Troll Hunters Season 1 with M and Aaron.

Update May 14, 2020

Hi everyone! I have good/bad news! Governor Walz announced yesterday that the stay-at-home order will be lifted as of May 18. So, great, we can leave our homes, but there may be a brand new peak in COVID-19 cases about 4-6 weeks from now. I’m eager to get back to some semblance of normal, though, and maybe I’m wrong about it being a bad idea.

So, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated you. On the Sunday following my last update, the family went for a walk in a nearby park, followed by ice cream and a picnic in our back yard. The walk was for M’s wolf rank in Cub Scouts. He did a fantastic job of not complaining. He wants to be an Eagle Scout one day – even after I explained to him that you actually have to hike and camp quite a bit to be an Eagle Scout. He insists that he will become an Eagle Scout, and then never take another hike again. IL did a fantastic job of walking for at least a quarter mile. In fact, he ran for a good part of that. And managed to mostly stay on the path.

I got a spinkled cone for Aaron. I thought it was pretty funny.

D got the biggest scoop of ice cream – I got child’s for IL, “like it” for me and Aaron, and D ordered “love it.” She didn’t finish.

M doesn’t like ice cream.

And here’s the picnic. I’m not sure what Aaron was doing in this shot.

Later that week, dad took IL for a trip to the park in a wagon. It was a good trip for the first half, but IL refused to stay seated for the second half, and I had to carry him all the way up the hill to my parents’ house.

D and M had a lovely trip with their mom to visit their Grandparents in Wisconsin. They built a birdhouse that I’ll get pictures of when we hang it. (We need to find a good spot for it, and put a hook in the tree.) They are doing wonderfully in their homeschooling, and are handling the stress of the pandemic so well. I’m proud of them.

On Mother’s Day, I gave dad and IL haircuts, and Aaron razed M’s head, but mom wouldn’t let me near her. We had a lovely roast for dinner though.

Aaron has been keeping himself and my nephew J busy digging up rocks on the side of the house. Apparently, the people who flipped the house before he bought it had a rockbed there, and they just dumped dirt over it and seeded grass. So now all the rocks are coming to the surface, and the grass is all dying. So digging out the rocks is the first step to home improvements this summer. I’d share a picture, but J won’t let me close with a camera, and it feels like cheating to sneak a photo. Maybe I can convince him for next week.

I have been keeping myself busy preparing for a scrapbook the kids are going to make for a SURPRISE present for their mom over the summer. So far, I have spent hours preparing, and I have only managed to transfer all photos into dated-by-year folders, and then weed through pictures from 2011. lol. I’m afraid I won’t be ready by the time summer rolls around! Do you think the kids will be able to keep this a secret from their mom? I’m skeptical, but we’ll see. Here’s my favorite picture for their mom’s scrapbook so far.

I am also busy homeschooling the kids, helping out mom and dad, keeping the house clean (actually successfully), and working 4 hours a week as a respite worker for a friend.

Mom and dad are doing as well as you’d expect. Mom had a little incident this week where dad called an ambulance, but the paramedics decided she was safe to leave at home, so that’s good. Dad and mom are disappointed that they are “unwelcome” at church when it opens next week. Archbishop Hebda has sent out a letter saying that people over the age of 65 are “strongly urged” not to go to church.

As far as reading goes, I’m listening to Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Blood Rites, by Jim Butcher. I’m reading Sorcerer of the North, by John Flanagan.

Update May 2, 2020

Hi everyone! Still no progress on stopping by blogs. I promise I WILL do that in the next couple of days. Things are just so crazy around here because I’m wearing so many hats.

This week was pretty good. As you can see from the picture of IL and dad, it’s been beautiful weather. IL learned to eat with a spoon AND a fork, and one of the three molars that has been coming in has finally sprouted all the way. So, yay, less pain for him. Of course, he stabbed himself in the face with the fork after I took that picture, but it went well until then.

Otherwise, lots has been going on. I registered and dropped several courses over the week, trying to decide the best one based on all the variables (what courses are needed for various colleges, which college is my first choice, how many courses should I take at once, and will school actually be in person by summer session). I finally chose a CNA class. My thought is, I need a CNA license to get into one of the colleges, and I might as well get one in case I want to pick up a job as a CNA, to make some extra money to pay for tuition and house improvements over the next year. I’m gambling on school being in-person by June. A nice thing about this class compared to the other classes is that it doesn’t start until later, so it doesn’t overlap with homeschooling.

M and D have been doing great with their homeschooling. They don’t have school Monday (and didn’t on Friday) by executive order of the governor. Also, from now on school is catch-up-and-attendance-only on Fridays for the rest of the year. They’re looking forward to that since they’ve had no trouble keeping up on school activities.

M desperately needs a haircut – but he won’t let me cut it and claims that he doesn’t want to grow it long. I’m afraid he only has so many options. D is looking forward to her summer activities and to be able to go to the park again, so hopefully everything is a go. I’m skeptical about her resident Girl Scout camp, but have had no news. Hopefully I didn’t accidentally delete news. I get SO much junk mail from the Girl Scouts.

The governor has extended the shelter-at-home order which was supposed to end on May 4th. Now it goes till the 18th, and can be extended again. So no park for another couple of weeks.

Another thing Aaron and I have been hemming and hawing about for the past week is what yard work to complete and how to complete it. We want to improve our yard, but we only have so much money, so what are our priorities and should we do it ourselves or hire a professional. We have several trees we need removed from our yard. Despite Aaron’s willingness to do it himself, we have decided to pay to have a professional do it. I really think that’s best. We decided to have the trees plucked from the ground by their roots. That is more expensive than chopping down and stump grinding, but there are several benefits that we have decided are worth the extra money. That means we don’t have money to rebuild the retaining wall, so we’ll have to do that next year. This year, we also plan on reseeding our lawn, digging out the rocks that are embedded in the dirt on the side of the house, and refreshing the beds in the front. I’m hoping I can get my 16yo nephew J to help out a bunch, but he gets a bit flaky (like many teens) about answering my texts, despite his claims that he really wants the work.

I finished one book this week – the audiobook for Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. It was pretty fantastic. I’m going to listen to Blood Rites (the 6th Dresden book) next. Still working on reading Sorcerer of the North (the 5th Ranger’s Apprentice book) as my “real” reading, but I’ll be moving slowly on that once school starts.

Update April 24, 2020

Hi Everyone! Thanks to everyone who’s still stopping by my blog despite my absence from the comments section and other blogs. I really hope that this week will be different, and I’ll get around to everyone! I hope everyone who celebrates had a good Easter. This is my favorite picture from Easter – with IL stealing some of D’s candy. She never knew the difference. Easter was fantastic. We searched for eggs in the basement, painted eggs, ate candy, and had a delicious ham dinner. It snowed on Easter, so D made a snowman.

The next Sunday, we had our (hopefully traditional) family game day. Here, we’re pictured playing Settlers of Catan. I won. But that’s because M let me – Aaron was going to win on his next turn, anyway.

The weather has taken a turn for the better, and we’re so excited for the quarantine to end so that we can go to the playground again! Look at him walking around outside in short sleeves and bare feet!

Update April 10, 2020

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a lovely couple of weeks! I’m finally starting to get back on track with the pandemic. I’m hoping this weekend (or immediately after Easter) I’ll be able to catch up on comments and your blogs! Here’s a picture of the kids homeschooling. I’ve finally gotten to pace with this. I had a cold for a few days last week, and M only PRETENDED to log on and do his work! So I spent this week playing catch-up. He’s really excited to be all caught up and to have shorter days going forward. Homeschooling was a bit of a pain at first because M required constant vigilance, but he’s actually starting to learn to be more independent now. Today I was able to fold and put away laundry while he was working!

I’m afraid I was naughty and took the kids to the playground right before Minnesota got it’s shelter-at-home order. I got scolded by my Facebook friends, but the kids (and my dad) really enjoyed themselves and I don’t regret living dangerously.

This is from my ER visit. Took a picture because I’d never been all alone in an ER before. How lonely! They don’t even let you have visitors! Though I understand why. I was in the ER because of my gallbladder, though, not anything to do with the pandemic. I still have the gallbladder, and it has subsequently stopped bothering me, so I’m not too worried about it.

IL has learned to get past all three of our baby gates, so Aaron and I will be doing a massive overhaul of upstairs of the house this weekend to get it ready for an enterprising (and very strong) toddler. The kids will be seeing their mom on Saturday, which excites them. Then we’ll be having dinner with my parents on Easter. Yes, we’re supposed to stay away from “large” groups, but I figure since we’re all part of the same infection circle, there’s no harm. I’m taking care of my parents, as usual, so they’re already exposed to me and the kids.

I completed two books in the last two weeks. Yay! Goodbye reading slump! Both were good books, though I rather enjoyed Five Midnights better. I will try to get reviews out this week.

Currently listening to Tuesdays at the Castle for D and M’s virtual book club with their cousins. And I’m reading Wolf Hall and Sorcerer of the North.

Update March 26, 2020

Hi all! Sorry about the long absence! I guess everyone else is as busy and stressed out as I am! Part of my problem is also that I usually post blog entries from my phone, but I can’t seem to get the comments to work from my phone, so I need to find a time when the baby isn’t around to pull on the plug of my computer.

Oh, so much has happened since the last time I wrote. Not even sure where to begin, but I’ll try a journal in pictures.

Well, obviously this happened. That’s the toilet paper aisle. But I’m sure you’ve all seen the same thing yourselves, so that’s not news. Just rest assured that no one in our family has yet caught COVID 19. Mayor Walz suggests that 40-80% of Minnesotans are expected to get it in the end, which makes me worry for my elderly parents – especially since dad eschews the idea of social distancing. There is a shelter-in-place order for two weeks starting this Friday. The kids are with their mom until then, because they won’t be able to see her while we’re stuck at home. I started “homeschooling” them on Monday, and they really seem to enjoy it. So far, I’ve had some math work on the computer, watched a documentary in the morning had them read Who Was books and their new virtual book club book Tuesdays at the Castle. I am going to move D to reading the children’s version of I am Malala once I get them back from their mom. I am a little wary of telling her to read books about atrocities, but it’s a good learning experience. I’ll probably keep M up with the Who Was books with a dash of I Survived books (which are fiction, but still educational).

Dad had cataract surgery JUST before the surgery clinic shut down for coronavirus. So he can now see out of his right eye, but not his left. I picked up my aunt (above with her husband) to watch my mom and IL while I was at the surgery clinic waiting for dad. But then they sent me home because of new policies of not letting anyone into the clinic except for patients. So I got to watch my mom and baby after all.

I shaved my head to raise money for kids with cancer. (Saint Baldrick’s Foundation.) I was hoping to do it at an event where there would be lots of people and alcohol involved, but of course that didn’t happen. So I did it quietly at my mom’s parlor as she was getting a haircut herself. Hopefully it doesn’t all grow in grey!

Sunday we had a family day. We played Uno (M’s choice), watched an episode of Bones (D’s choice – we have since then changed our family show to Psych), played Clue (my choice) and Pandemic (Aaron’s choice). It was a good day.

Yesterday, D had her virtual book club with her friends from school. They (and I) read Bridge to Terabithia. Such a sad book. I was balling for the last hour of the audiobook. But she enjoyed talking with her friends, which was great. I also set up a virtual bookclub with my cousin’s kids that both M and D can be part of. They (and I) are reading Tuesdays at the Castle. I’m also reading Wolf Hall, and Five Midnights (which I’ve been reading for a long time – reading slump, you know).