Update September 24, 2021

Hi all! Good to “see” you. A lot has happened. IL2 started preschool. D11 and M8 are doing well in school and gymnastics. I have been feeling super duper tired on and off due to the post-COVID. According to the internet (though not to my doctor) I now have long COVID.

I will update in pictures again, this time trying some videos, too.

Aaron started LARPing again, and part of hos costume included handcuffs. He checked that the key worked before-hand, and then he put the cuffs on his wrist, when the key stopped working. I wanted to go to the store and buy some bolt cutters, but he insisted on sawing them off. He only broke the kin a little.

Puck actually sat on someone else’s lap.

We got a family photo for Loki’s preschool.

Loki loves this little old dress of Deirdre’s. We didn’t get a good photo of it, though.

My friend Raj and I went axe-throwing.

I gave up on Walk to Mordor, which was a lot of work, for a virtual tour of Ring Road in Iceland. It’s 828 miles. I want to do the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Virtual trails,

Impossible List

Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

The impossible list was invented by Joel Runyon. He wanted not a bucket list of individually easy things to do, but a list of things that felt impossible. My list is probably a little long, but I had Fun with it. I have described my quarterly focus here.

Health & Fitness

  • Track calories 260 times in one year
  • Try 25 new recipes in one year
  • Go without junk food for a year
  • Switch to “mostly” mediterranean diet
  • Lose 100lbs
  • Maintain weight at 140lbs for 5 years
  • Run a 5k
  • Walk a marathon
  • Run a mud race
  • Do a century ride
  • Think about posture every day for a year
  • Complete Zombies, Run!
  • Virtual Walk Ring Road
  • Walk take 10k steps a day 260 times in a year
  • Switch from soda to tea
  • Go uncaffeinated for one year
  • Drink 1 gallon of water a day 260 times in one year

Travel / Adventure

  • Visit every National Park in the US
  • Go to all these parks in one summer
  • Camp in every State Park in Minnesota

Environment

  • Unpack house
  • Paint the inside of the house
  • Paint the outside of house
  • Remove rocks and make beds beautiful
  • Create a pollinator garden
  • Keep up cleaning (car and home) maintenance on a monthly basis for 12 months

Education and Reading

Hobbies

  • Cross-stitch Groot
  • Cross-stitch Loki
  • Cross-stitch Creeper
  • Cross-stitch unicorn
  • Cross-stitch Cthulu
  • Cross-stitch Starry Night With Tardis
  • Cross-stitch The Scream
  • Have a pen pal on all 6 continents
  • Make it through this set of D&D Campaigns
  • Have a lifetime of scrapbooks

For my Soul

Financial Health

  • Pay off Home Equity Loan
  • 6-month “emergency fund”
  • Debt-free for 1 year

Update September 3, 2021

Hi! It’s been a while, so I think I will mostly update by pictures:

That’s Myra.

That’s Puck.

That’s Hero.

Good picture of the kids, which Walgreens won’t print because it shows too much skin.

D11 and I had a good time going out on an impromptu date.

IL2 plays fetch.

I made some delicious gumbo.

Aaron finished one of our beds, which we’ve decided will house tulips.

We went to the park, and tired out the boys.

I started writing inmates who either had life sentences without parole or death sentences. I thought maybe they were in more need of solace. About half of them have written back. So I have many pen pals now. I’m getting letters faster than I can write back.

I took some new jobs to get myself over 40 hours a week – mainly asleep shifts. The extra money will help us pay off our new home equity loan, which goes along with our new bathroom. It will also pay for IL2 to go to preschool.

The older kids have enrolled in gymnastics.

I had a breakthrough case of COVID while Aaron and the older kids were in Oregon on vacation. I had to take care of IL2 alone while I could hardly stay awake.

Aaron and I started going out on dates. He’s also going to start Werewolf LARPing.

The Dixie fire got a mere 3 miles from my late grandmother’s house.

Loki wore clothes.

That’s it! Hopefully I’ll write more frequently now. 🤣😂

Update July 2, 2021

Hi all! Things are still moving along here…We’ve been busy. We got someone to come in and look at our dishwasher. The motor was full of debris including a plastic zip-tie and some plaster. It still galls me that the previous owner of our house lied about it working. They’ll come in some time next week to get a new motor installed.

We got an estimate of $18k to bring our electrical wiring up to code. They refused to do the small amount of work we requested until they brought the house “up to code.” I called another electrician who said that it was common for some companies to use scare tactics to get people to pay gigantic bills. He said he’d come look at the house, but it almost certainly wouldn’t be in the tens of thousands range.

We had a home warranty send out a plumber to look at our leaks. He announced that he couldn’t find a leak, so he shook the toilet until water started pouring out. Our basement flooded. The warranty company at first claimed that they had sent the plumber’s report out to approvals. Then several days later claimed they’d never received the plumber’s report, nor the report for the dishwasher. More lies. We got rid of the warranty and called our own plumber and mechanic. We’re getting a new toilet installed next week.

We still have a bunch of unpacking to do.

Update June 21, 2021

Hi all! Good to be back on my blog!

We have been working on improving the back yard this week. There is a rock-filled bed squeezed between the patio and the driveway that has several dead stumps and a few severely cut back cotoneaster, which can grow to 2 meters high. It must have been intended as a privacy hedge.

We are going to move the rocks, pull out the stumps and plants, lay new landscaping cloth, and return the rocks with some hostas.

We had a flood in our basement over this weekend. We had a plumber from our warranty company looking at leaks. He decided to shake the toilet until it was pouring water, and left without turning off the water. Luckily, the water dripped only into our storage room, mostly onto hand-me-down clothes, which could be washed.

D11 decided to go to her first day of school as a goth. She did a good job, except when she came home, she gave a huge smile.

Update June 11, 2021

Hi all! Here we are in front of our new house. Yay! This one feels totally mine, whereas with the old one it always felt like “Aaron’s house.” So I’m eager to make it more me as the years pass.

First of all, most of the appliances are either new-but-cheap (the drier), of questionable function (the stove), or simply not working (the dishwasher).

I also hope to redo the shrubbery in front and on the sides of the house. That may be a project for next year, though, because this year we’ve got to unpack and then paint the rooms.

But if you’re interested:

On the right of the porch is a tall Japanese Yew. It’s very pretty, but neither Aaron nor I will want to stand on a ladder to properly prune it. The internet, which is always right, claims that I can severely cut it back, and it’ll be forgiving. So I might try making it short and round.

That’s a severely cut-back yew which is expected to grow back within a couple years. I won’t do that.

To the left of the porch is a Northern White Cedar, being smothered by the bright green Japanese Barberry in front of it. Apparently, Japanese Barberry is bad because it smothers other plants, and changes the soil content to kill other plants. Furthermore, it is a haven for ticks with Lyme Disease (which hopefully isn’t a problem in my front yard). The Japanese Barberry has been chopped down. Now we need to remove the stumps and trim the Northern White Cedar.

To the left of the barberry and cedar is a short and too-wide Japanese Yew, which will stay, but be pruned to be not as wide.

To the left of that, is a Mugo Pine, which I’m not sure if I’ll keep or not. Then, a rather nicely-pruned Japanese Yew. I’ll keep that one.

To the left of the well-groomed Japanese Yew is a beautiful Sweet Mock-Orange, which smells of citrus and has lovely white flowers. It has a volunteer White Ash popping out of it, and there are also some volunteer Norway Maples scattered around. There’s another cute little Japanese Yew with a Japanese Medowsweet there that you can hardly see because of the volunteer trees. Then on the far left, there’s another tall Japanese Yew, which will be severely trimmed back next Spring.

In the left of the house, there’s a completely dead Flower of Stone. It’s not staying. There’s also another Sweet Mock-Orange and some hosta back there.

On the very end, there’s a Ninebark.

And on the right side of the house, there’s a Hairy-Stem Gooseberry. That, too, has been chopped to a stump. It was annoyingly leaning into the driveway.

My two weeks went pretty well, except IL2’s had painful diarrhea on and off that whole time. We did some unpacking and organizing, got a plumber to put a bath spout in our tub, and had an eventful weekend. On Saturday, we THOUGHT IL2’s diarrhea was over, so we drove to Iowa for my aunt and uncle’s 60th wedding anniversary. I took very few pictures, but it was wonderful to see my family.

I’ll post pictures stolen from family:

That’s my aunt, uncle, and all-but-one of their kids.

There’s my dad and aunt Anne.

Aaron and me with my cousin Katie.

Aaron, me, Loki with my aunt Anne and uncle Darryl.

Sunday, I told the kids we were having a screen-free day. M9 earned allowance by sweeping the maple seeds off the driveway, patio, and sidewalk. Once he realized I didn’t expect perfection, he actually admitted that the chore was satisfying.

D11 earned allowance by preparing some cardboard for the compost bin we plan on creating some time soon. Apparently, if “brown” compost like dead leaves are unavailable, then we are supposed to use wet, shredded cardboard. I just borrowed Let It Rot!, by Stu Campbell from Hoopla. Maybe it’ll give me some tips.

In addition to all that, I finished reading Lakewood, by Megan Giddings. Finally! A finished book!

It was an interesting mix of social commentary and science fiction. The main character, a young black woman who was desperately in need of money, volunteers for a high-paying, mind-bending, abusive “research study.”

Update May 31, 2021

This has been a busy few weeks! Biggest of all, we moved into our new house. But the move wasn’t smooth. The day before we were supposed to sign, one of the cats (which one was a mystery) suddenly had really strange smelling pee. The same cat (presumably, and still a mystery) peed on me overnight. I figured that the cat may have an urinary tract infection, since strange peeing habits is a symptom. I figured it might be Puck, because he’d been clumsy lately. So 7am the day of the closing, I hauled Puck into our new vet. Sure enough, he had an UTI.

That day, at 8:30am, we signed for the new house. But when we went there to scope it out, the previous owners were still there. We were finally able to start hauling the stuff from the hotel to the house in the afternoon.

On that Saturday were were supposed to move the stuff from the UBoxes into our home. My friend Liz was there to babysit. My friend Todd and his friend Josh, and Aaron’s friend Katie were there to help us move. But then IL2 awakened with a fever and a cough. Liz and Katie fled. Todd and Josh braved the fever. We did get everything emptied, though. And IL2 did not have COVID.

On Monday, I started to get sick, and boy was I sick. I couldn’t even drive to get my COVID test (negative). Aaron got sick, too, but not as badly. Tuesday, we were supposed to move the stuff we’d stored at dad’s house into our house. We’d rented a truck. That was an utter failure. I tried to help, but I just made myself more sick and crashed completely for the rest of the day. We still have stuff at dad’s house.

Over the past few months, I have been bugging D11 to brush her hair. She just tells me I’m insulting her hair, and gets all grumpy about it. Finally, I asked her “do you know what the back of your head looks like?” She answered no, so I took a picture and showed her. She was horrified. Soon after that, she decided to shave her head if the stylist were unable to get the matt out.

M9 decided to get a mohawk.

IL2 sat still for his very first professional haircut.

M9 had a small birthday party this Sunday. He got a tricycle/scooter/balance bike, some Lego sets, some books, a puzzle, and a gift card to Game Stop. He had 2 friends over, and D11 had one friend over. The party theme was Minecraft.

Hobbies

I made it to the edge of Farmer Maggot’s Field in my Walk to Mordor.

I wrote pen pals in England, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Maine, and Massachusetts

Update May 14, 2021

Real Life

Well, this week was as you can imagine it’s like being cramped in a hotel room with 5 people and 3 cats. But we had a good time on Saturday.

First, I bought a leash for IL-2. He took a while to get used to it. He splatted several times trying to run off that first time at the mall, but now he loves it.

On Saturday, D11, IL2, my friend Todd, and I went to the Mall of America to shop. D11 spent all her money on two adorable outfits, and an overpriced mascara and blush compact. She’s thrilled with her purchases.

The next morning (Mother’s Day) was a mess. IL2 and M8 both awakened after being kept up all night with congestion and a cough. IL2 had a fever. I whisked them to Urgent Care, knowing that D11 wouldn’t be allowed back in school until IL2’s COVID test had come back negative. (IL2’s did. They wouldn’t test M8 since he had COVID last month.) IL2 was diagnosed with an ear infection. M8 with a neck ache and red throat.

After that, IL2, D11, Aaron, and I went to The World’s Largest Candy Store. It was large.

IL2 enjoyed himself, but spent the rest of the day lethargically lying in bed. M8 also slept a lot. At about 5pm, M8 awakened in a whimpering incoherent state. I looked up the symptoms of that inflammatory disease kids get after having COVID (MIS-C). Red throat and neck pain (due to swollen lymph node) were two of them. We rushed him off the the ER. (He doesn’t remember any of this.)

At the ER, he was diagnosed with a swollen lymph node, but normal inflammatory signals in his blood, so MIS-C wasn’t ruled out, but was thought unlikely. They gave him some Tylenol and he eventually perked up enough to take him home. We were given antibiotics.

He still had a fever the next morning, but his temperature was normal by the next day. He seems to be better now.

Hobbies

I wrote pen pal letters to people in Belgium and Massachusetts.

Update May 7, 2021

Hi all! Guess what? We successfully moved out! We had too few Uboxes, so a bunch of stuff is stuck in my dad’s spare bedroom, where I intended on having my work station for the Amazon business. So I have a very limited space.

We (5people, three cats) are safely ensconced in a tiny hotel room. I whisk the kids away during the days so Aaron can work. We eat dinner at dad’s house most of the time. It’s hectic, which led to me absent-mindedly leaving my phone on top of my car and losing it. 😑

When I told a doctor yesterday that we were currently homeless and all the kids and I were in a car, she wanted to help. By all means! We need help.

IL2 is having huge problems adjusting to little night-time routine. I was trying to get him to fall asleep until midnight last night. I’m slowly losing my mind due to sleep deprivation.

D11 had a sore throat and the sniffles yesterday (she was sick of school), and the school made us test her for COVID and keep M8 home. He was so angry he gave me the silent treatment when he had to go to school the next day.

Exercise

With all the moving, I made it to my next milestone on my walk to Mordor.

Hobbies

I wrote letters to Pen Pals in England, Germany, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Alabama.

Update April 22, 2021

Hi all! It’s been a crazy week. We packed and packed and purged and purged, and it still feels like most of the house is left to pack.

We spent a good amount of Saturday packing, but on Sunday we ran into a snag. Remember how we put in a new dishwasher? Well, turns out it was implied in the contract that it should be “as like,” which apparently means stainless steel. We were nice enough to let the buyer into our house to make some measurements, but she apparently put up a stink about the dishwasher. Our realtor let us know. I told her “implied” wasn’t clear to us, and that we’d asked if the buyer wanted to pick one out herself, and she’d refused. Finally, after I put up a bit of a stink, the realtor offered to recoup the price of the wasted dishwasher.

On top of the dishwasher fiasco, more of Sunday was spent trying to figure out how to replace the door J17 stole from dad’s spare bedroom. Turns out one week’s notice is too little for getting a new door. I even asked a friend who was a contractor, but he was quarantined because his wife had COVID for the second time! So no packing on Sunday. Luckily, my mother-in-law is visiting for a week on this coming Sunday, and that will free me up to pack. And as for the cats, we will have to keep them in the hotel with us, instead of dad’s spare bedroom.

Wednesday was dad’s 80th birthday! We celebrated on Thursday with a nice dinner, because we were pretty busy with appointments and swim team on Wednesday. Which reminds me… D11’s back in school and swim team! That was a really long quarantine.

Exercise

I give up on waiting. I will start some short walks tomorrow. I really want to get this ball rolling while I have motivation. And I think the exercise will help motivate me to pack as well.

Hobbies

I wrote letters to pen pals in Louisiana, Scotland, Massachusetts, Poland, India, Maine, Sri Lanka, England, and Canada. I even got some cross-stitch done! Is the house clean or packed, though? Well…..

I know it doesn’t look like much, but this took a lot of work