Update September 21, 2020

This was another week that passed by as a blur. On Sunday, I had a “wake” for my mom – I cooked steak in the oven for a couple pairs of aunts and uncles, as well as my family and dad. The priest called up to ask some questions about mom, which I didn’t know the answers to. What were her favorite foods? uhhh. She ate everything that I know of. She never complained. What can I say? Broccoli and pasta, is what I said. lol. So at Monday’s funeral the priest announced that mom loved broccoli and pasta. lol. I was pretty pleased at the turn-out. I had three friends come to support me who I didn’t know were coming. It was, of course, a sad occasion, but I liked seeing my friends. My family all had a lunch at Outback Steakhouse afterwards. Then I relaxed the rest of the day.

On Tuesday I went and got a membership at the YMCA. D10 wanted to join their swim team, and a membership is necessary. I’m hoping we use it! I also discovered that IL-21mo knows how to put on his own shoes. And drink salt.

Tuesday was the kids’ first day of in person classes, which they seemed to enjoy. Wednesday was supposed to be their second day of online, but they skipped Monday because of the funeral. So they worked a total of 3 hours instead of 90 minutes that day. (Really? 90 minutes a day of work? What kind of education is that?) M8 needed a family picture for one of his assignments, and this is what he got.

Thursday, D10 had her tryouts for the swim team. She tried really, really hard. She wasn’t able to make it the whole 25 yards freestyle, backstroke, or breastroke, but she was able to pull off the strokes. The butterfly was pretty silly looking, but she had no experience in that whatsoever, so I wouldn’t expect her to know how to do it. She got into the novice team, which she’s excited about.

All week, I’d been working on getting the stuff out of my dad’s basement so that when the contractor came on Monday, the basement would be empty. We finished up the last touches on Friday! Yay! While moving things around in the shed, I discovered J16’s old hummer. It’s just the right size for IL-21mo, who even figured out how to use the peddle and make it move forward.

Over the weekend, my friend Todd and J16 came over to help Aaron build the wall. I discovered that I was unable to move the bricks with any precision, but they made a lot of progress without me. Sunday night, Aaron and I had a date. We went to an Indian restaurant (which was delicious), followed by a bar for a few drinks.

Monday was a lot of running around. The contractor came. I went banking. You know, errands like that. Also, I finally got the kids started on their scrapbooking project. You know? The one that I intended to do over the summer? I figure if they only work for 90 minutes 3 days a week, then I can supplement with extra reading and “art projects.” Scrapbooking is definitely an art projected. D10 finished two sides of one page, and M8 finished one side. I’ll have to start working on picking out pictures for D10’s personal scrapbook (the one for herself rather than the surprise one for her mom). I have a lot of pictures to go through.

I’m about to go to work at my PCA job for the first time in a while. I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine.

This week, I’m reading How to Be an Antiracist. I decided to try out whisper-n-sync from Amazon to see if it helps me finish the book faster. I watched a bit of Flash with Aaron and M8, a bit of The Good Place with D10, and Book Club with Aaron. Aaron is still reading Fablehaven to the kids.

Update September 13, 2020

Hi All! I’m back from my vacation and it’s been a hard week

Friday, I started out with a 2.5 mile walk with Loki. Then we drove to Sunriver, OR. We had a lovely house with a billiards table and a ping pong table. We got some reading in.

Saturday, the family went on a hike. Aaron had to stay back because he was on call with work. I had to stay back because IL-2mo doesn’t tolerate the backpack longer than a mile. M-8 also chose to stay back. But everyone else had a delightful time. I got a 2 mile walk in, though. Afterwards was an excellent taco dinner. Uncle Brett gave all the kids official Olympics 2020 souvenirs, telling them that if they don’t open the package, they’ll be worth something some day, since the Olympics were canceled.

Sunday was a relaxing day. The kids went to the park. Aaron and I missed the last family dinner because IL-20mo (um IL-21mo? Indeed.) crashed early.

Monday was our travel day. We started out at 7 am to drive to Portland, and arrived about an hour later than we’d hoped. Oops. But they transferred us to a new flight, and we got home a couple hours later than expected. When I got back, I heard that mom had fallen off the front porch and cracked her head on the sidewalk. She was in a coma and not expected to awaken.

The next day was a flurry of activity, none of it planned. We sadly had to withdraw care on mom because she was beyond the ability to recover. Dad, J-16, and I went together to say our final goodbyes, and her priest gave her last rites. The hospital gave us a lovely quilt that they had placed on top of mom to make her look comfortable. I had been planning on keeping it for myself, but then J-16 wrapped himself up and looked so happy with it, that I just gave it to him. After that, Dad, J-16 and I had some pizza. Then, of course, the flurry of phone calls. The day ended with watching a couple of episodes of Flash with M-8 and Aaron.

The next few days were a bit of a blur. We planned the funeral for Monday. Dad wanted a simple obituary and no eulogy because he hates funerals. (“They’re so sad,” he says.)

On Thursday, M-8 swallowed a pill cam to see if there’s more inflammation in his intestines that the colonoscopy couldn’t reach. No news on those results yet. D-10, Aaron, and I watched Never Been Kissed. We’ll have to start a new show, since Once Upon A Time was removed by Netflix. Friday, I cooked spaghetti dinner for my family, dad, and my aunt Anne and uncle Darryl.

Saturday was pretty productive. Aaron got the first bricks laid on the retaining wall, while J-16 moved railroad ties to the dumpster we rented. There was a momentary fright when my car wouldn’t start, but the AAA guy managed to start it up in one go without even jumping it. After that initial trouble, I managed to get a bunch of work done around the house.

I finished three books while on vacation. Sorcerer of the North is part of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. In it Will discovers not all is as it seems at Mackinaw castle, where he has been assigned a secret mission. This was a fantastic addition to the story, and I am eager to move on to the next book.

Whole Brain Child is a parenting book which gives “revolutionary” advice on how to take care of difficult moments in a nurturing way. Mostly, it’s left brain / right brain sort of stuff. Appeal to the side that the kid is on, and move them to center brain. I wouldn’t call it revolutionary, though it provided some good advice.

The Golem and the Jinni is a fantastic historical romance about a Jinni who has recently escaped a lamp, a Golem who had just been made and arrived in New York, and the intrigue that surrounds them. I loved it. The characters were very well developed and the intrigue kept me interested the whole time. Highly recommended.

Update September 4, 2020

Hi all! I’ve been on vacation at my in-laws’ for more than a week. Lots of fun.

The flight to Oregon was uneventful. IL-20mo was hard to keep quiet on the 3 hour flight, and we almost had to taxi back to the gate because some kids refused to keep their masks on. Otherwise, a Saturday was a good travel day.

Sunday was great. I went on a 3.5 mile walk with IL-20mo in the morning. It was cold, so I gave my sweatshirt to IL, since obviously I didn’t bring one for him. 😱

In the afternoon, I went with D-10, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law on a 2 mile walk with IL-20mo in a backpack. I was checking his tolerance of the backpack so I’d know if we could take him hiking. We stopped at a park. D-10 was so excited by the playground that she desperately wants to drag M-8 there. He won’t be able to walk two miles, though. IL-20mo went down a slide all by himself with no prompting. I think that was his first time.

D-10 spent a lot of time on fuse beads, and M-8 on his tablet.

I did some reading as well!

I didn’t get to go for a walk Monday. IL-20mo didn’t cooperate. Maybe I should have tried the backpack. D-10 made a black berry pie with Popo and Papa. It was delicious. She tolerated one bite of it. Lol.

I got M-8 off his tablet for a while, and he played with IL-20mo.

D-10 and M-8 went to the park with auntie Eleanor, and stayed for over an hour (they drove there). Eleanor, Deirdre, Aaron and I played a game of Pandemic.

IL-20mo finally crashed from exhaustion Monday. He was getting up early and going to bed late and skipping naps because of the time difference and change of routine. Monday evening, he fell asleep in his high chair at 4:30pm and slept through till 5am.

Tuesday I took a morning walk with IL-20mo to the park. He was asleep by the time I got there, so I sat on the bench and took care of some calls until he woke up. Then we played for a while, and returned home.

I took another walk with my mother-in-law with IL-20mo on my back. That one was short, as carrying IL is hard and it was 90 degrees out. Then D-10 made a cheese pizza. I didn’t get a picture of the pizza before everyone pounced on it, but here’s her cooking with her aunt.

Wednesday was fun. Aaron and I went on a hike with IL-20mo. IL lasted about a mile in the backpack and started trying to climb out. We let him walk for about 1/8th mile, when he refused to go further. Luckily, he did this right next to a short-cut. (Good thing we had a map!) We plunked him back in the backpack and let him scream and beat Aaron’s head for the rest of the hike – which was about half a mile.

After that, Aaron and I took D-10 and IL-20mo to the park while M-8 stayed home to be “sedentary” (as he put it).

D-10 had been wanting me to sign her up for Habitica (a gamified to-do list) for a while now. So I finally broke down and did it. My sister-in-law also signed up. I went from a party of 1 active member to a party of 3 just like that. Now M-8 wants to join, but I’m afraid he’ll just kill the whole party by never doing his to-do’s. We’ll see.

Thursday, we went to the beach. It was about an hour’s drive each way, but it was worth it. Aaron, Deirdre, and Malcolm all got buried.

Unfortunately, since I am posting from my phone, there will be no place to comment on this post. See all of you commenters next week!

Update August 28, 2020

Hi all! Hope you had a good week.

Sunday was fun. Aaron and I (mostly Aaron) completed digging the trench for the wall. I worked for 2 hours trying to decode a massive root puzzle before my frustration got the better of me and I went inside to hang out with my friend Liz, who was babysitting. Aaron stayed out a couple hours more. He managed to get up the last portion of the root that I think I’d mostly dug out before giving up. I went to bed at 8:30 exhausted…

and woke Monday morning missing my glasses (where did I put them in my zombie state), and with a cough. Aaron eventually found the glasses but the cough didn’t subside. At 10, I gave in and canceled my plans for the day and scheduled a doctor appointment.  When I explained to the doctor that I was flying out Saturday, he agreed that I should be tested for COVID that day, because sometimes the tests take 5 days.

Problem is that I get anxiety coughs, and felt it was more likely an anxiety cough than COVID. My throat tightens when I’m stressed, and my asthma acts up. So it seemed like overkill to get a COVID test. In the end, the cough hung in for a few days, though, accompanied by fatigue.

Tuesday was boring, as I had to cancel my plans because I was quarantined till my COVID test results came back. I tried a new app called “MeetMe” which was, in theory, an app for talking to strangers. But they all had an agenda or were creepy. One of the people was (I’m pretty sure) a pedofile who was trying to get pictures of my kids. “She” was talking about her own 13yo daughter fondling her own DD-sized breasts and how they bounced. I blocked “her.” I should have reported her, too. Didn’t think of it. I was too creeped out. I also brainstormed ways to deal with extracurricular activities.

M-8 has dropped out of Code Ninjas and from soccer. He hated the outside exercise of the first soccer practice and refused to move after the first few laps. As for Code Ninjas, he’s sometimes interested and sometimes not, depending on his mood. Its monthly fee is too expensive for that kind of apathy. We’re not gonna force him to do something we’re struggling to pay for.

Plus, if I’m going to use some of his spare time, he needs exercise! He’s been depressed lately, and exercise is good for mental health. At least I can take him to the park for now. He doesn’t like the park, but he tolerates it. I’ll have them do a lot of sledding in the winter. He sometimes tolerates that. Sometimes, he blatantly refuses to get out of the car. *sigh I often feel like he doesn’t get much enjoyment out of life. 😥 He mostly wants to be on his tablet, but when you ask him about it, he sounds like it’s just a way to stave off boredom. Every once in a while he’s excited by it. (That apathy may be more recent – now that he’s depressed again.)

D-10 has dropped swim lessons for fall because she’s afraid of the locker rooms. The district makes them go in alone, and they’re not well-lit. We’re thinking of signing her up for swim team at the YMCA. It seems a better fit for her than the swim team with the district (which isn’t even meeting this Fall, anyway) because the district focuses on competition and the Y focuses on self improvement.

Wednesday Loki’s new blankie and pillow arrived from Amazon. So much for Snuffie. Now he carries around his blankie and pillow.

Thursday I got my COVID test back, and it was negative. Just in time to run some pre-trip errands. Afterwards, I had a lovely conversation with M-8 about race and gender and why some people were treated differently than others. Mostly it was him making very perceptive statements, and me agreeing, but at one point he asked why white people were treated better than other races historically. It reminded me of “Why do white men have more cargo” from Guns, Germs, and Steel. So I started explaining the premise of that book (mainly that because of the location that white people lived, they were uniquely situated to have guns, germs, and steel. I only got so far as the guns part with M-8, who has ADHD. But we’d already discussed the germs part while discussing how aliens from outer space would die if they came here because they were unaccustomed to the germs (his idea, which I told him was the premise of a well-known book which I will not provide spoilers to on my blog). We also discussed how white people gave diseased blankets to the Native Americans in order to reduce their numbers.

Overall, it was a good week, though I accomplished less than I had hoped due to the quarantine.

I didn’t complete anything this week, but I watched some Supernatural Season 10 with Aaron, read some of Sorcerer of the North, and listed to a little Golem and the Jinni.

Update August 23, 2020

Hi everyone! Hope you had a good week.

Friday was busy without ever accomplishing anything, it feels. I ran errands and had appointments from 5:30am straight on through till 11:30am, when I was supposed to have an appointment with CPS about J-16. She arrived 45 minutes late, and launched right into a “my hands are tied, nothing I can do to help.” The next hour and a half was spent listening to my dad ramble in such a disconnected way that I left convinced that his dementia is getting notably worse. The meeting was a waste of 2 hours of my life.

The next 4 hours were spent running errands, and then monitoring J-16 as he worked in our yard. Aaron, J-16, and I had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Aaron started out Saturday morning renting a chainsaw to take down the previous retaining wall, which is railroad ties with spikes driven through them. The chainsaw “broke,” and he returned to get a new one. The new one “broke,” and he returned with an electrical one. That worked fine. He did an amazing job working on his own out there while I was inside watching the baby. We had pizza for dinner, and went to a comedy club in the evening.

Sunday started another day of the chainsaw “breaking,” and Aaron running to Home Depot for a fourth one. I got some pictures of him while I was watching IL-20mo on the balcony, though.

I also got some toddler seats ordered for IL-20mo while I was inside babysitting. He is able to open the top clasp on his infant seat, so I guess the time has come. I got a black one for Aaron’s car, and pink to match my car. Sadly, they claim the pink is “girl’s carseat, but 😝 to them.

In the afternoon, J-16, Aaron, and I continued to pull down the railroad ties from the old wall. Those things are heavy! Afterwards, the family went out to dinner at Outback Steakhouse.

Monday was a little disappointing. We had our first appointment with M-8’s ARFID therapist, and it doesn’t sound like he’s ready for the type of thing they want to do. We have already tried their strategy twice – he’s not receptive. However, it’s possible a window of opportunity will open in the future where he will be ready for change. We have decided to focus on getting calories into him, which the eating disorder clinic suggests for times he’s not getting active treatment.

Tuesday started out on a good note – when M-8 wouldn’t eat his Froot Loops because they “looked weird” I managed to reluctantly accept that he has an eating disorder and getting angry wouldn’t solve anything, and I gave him a glass of whole milk, instead. He actually drank it. Usually, once he’s refused breakfast, that’s the end of that. He even managed to eat 6 times Tuesday, like the clinic suggested – 3 meals and 3 snacks. He did a good job.

Aaron and I rented a Bobcat Tuesday to do some hard-core digging. We roughly dug out the area where we will build the wall, though we still have several more railroad ties to pull up. Aaron thought maybe the Bobcat would pull them out. It didn’t, but it loosened them quite a bit. I ended the day pretty exhausted after following behind the Bobcat to do a little digging and a lot of root-removal.

Tuesday night, D-10 was at their mom’s, so we watched the first couple episodes of Flash with M-8.

Wednesday was a big day of digging by hand. My friend Todd came over and helped.

Thursday, Aaron attacked the stumps behind the wall with a grinder. It wasn’t as efficient as I’d have hoped, but it got rid of the stumps that had to go. At one point, I left IL-20mo with the kids for a minute, when I came back, I found this:

No one knows where he got the apple, though obviously I must have left it sitting somewhere within IL-20mo’s growing reach. He sat on my lap and ate until I looked down to find this:

While I was doing my own thing, he’d eaten the entire core. He’s eaten apples in the past without such startling results, so it hadn’t occurred to me he might eat the seeds. I looked on the internet to find that a 70kg man would have to finely chew 500 apple seeds to get poisoned, but I called poison control just on case. They said it was unlikely he’d end up with any problems – at most, a stomach ache.

Friday was a big day for the wall. Again J-16 was here to help, and he and Aaron-with-a-chainsaw pulled out what they believed was the last of the railroad ties that composed the previous retaining wall. That was quite a sturdy wall!

It was a big day for the kids, too, as it started their first day of a week-long stay with their mom, who has been reluctant to take them for extended periods of time without her parents’ help. But she recently suggested that maybe she could take the kids more often, and I told her this coming week would be ideal.

Saturday was a busy day. My dad came over to babysit, and J-16 helped and I helped with the wall. Our main job that day was digging, though J-16 got frustrated with it really early as he felt he was getting nowhere because of the roots (which was true of all of us, only Aaron and I had the patience to sit down and dig roots out with a trowel and then saw them off at the trench’s edge. We had to buy an electric saw. Those roots were huge.) Dad wanted to go out to eat afterwards, as eating out is a huge treat to him. Aaron and I had been eating out all week because we were too tired to cook, but dad was pretty excited. At the restaurant, I was talking to one of the hosts, when dad came in and announced something in his loud, excited voice, while placing his hands on the podium. The other host jumped and snapped “don’t touch that!” Dad didn’t back off because he is 80 and deaf and not great at processing social cues right now. I finally got dad to back off by repeating the request to not touch the podium politely (I tried gently nudging him back, but he was too taken off guard by the host to pay attention to me). During the time I was trying to get dad to back off, the host took off his plastic gloves, pulled out new gloves, and shakily pulled them on. I realized that he was terrified and felt bad for him. It must be terrible being in a customer-facing job when you’re that scared of getting sick. 😦

This week I actually got some reading done – I continued on with Sorcerer of the North. I also watched some of Season 10 of Supernatural with Aaron, watched the first two episodes of Flash Season 1 with M-8 and Aaron, listened to Aaron read a chapter of Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary to the kids, and watched a few episodes of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time with D-10 and Aaron.

Aaron finished reading Grip of the Shadow Plague, and I enjoyed watching Sister Act for the first time in years.

Update August 14, 2020

Happy new week everyone!

Saturday I spent working through my to-do list. I had to draw a to-scale picture of our property including the new retaining wall for our permit application. That took me 3 hours. Yes. 3 hours. I felt pretty drained after that, but I think it was a pretty good to-scale picture. Aaron worked on tearing down the old retaining wall, but realized that we need to rent a chainsaw. Since he no longer had time to do that (and it was going to rain) he decided to work on our front beds. Aaron got the lining bricks laid, landscaping cloth set, and most of the rocks in one of our beds. After working through our to-do lists (at least partially), we watched an episode of Mandalorian with the kids.

Sunday, my friend Liz came over and we watched some of season 5 of Doctor Who with Aaron and the kids.

Monday was a long day. First of all, I didn’t sleep well because there was a crazy storm going on. I finally got up at 4:45, since my alarm was going off at 5. I was supposed to call my dad at 5:30 to make sure he was awake, but his phone line was down due to the storm. So I had to rush over there.

M-8 had his intake at the eating disorder clinic at 7am, where he was diagnosed with Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), subtypes 1 and 3. That means he is an extremely picky eater and that he doesn’t feel as hungry as he should. The treatment is pretty intense, with 2 one time per week appointments (therapist and dietitian) and 1 one time a month medical checkup.

Later in the day, we had an appointment with his gastroenterologist who wanted to talk about M-8’s biopsy results after the colonoscopy. He had mild inflammation in the last portion of his small intestine, and the doctor wanted to check for inflammation in the portions of the gut that he couldn’t reach during the colonoscopy. He doesn’t think it’s Crohn’s, but he needs to check anyway.

At the end of the day, I worked till late as a PCA.

Tuesday was an excellent day. After taking mom for a haircut, I took mom and dad to our house and hung out. The kids had a stupid argument and lost a few hours of screens, so we even got some interesting conversation in! Then we had a turkey dinner (mainly because M-8 said he liked turkey). M-8 refused to eat any turkey because it was “slimy.” Apparently he doesn’t like juicy meat. Lol. Everyone else loved the meat, and I got a compliment from D-10 who said she LOVES juicy meat. I got the pleasure of telling her “you know that stuff that you were complaining smelled like cleaning solution yesterday? That was the brine. It made the turkey juicy.” Mind you, the brine smelled delicious.

D-10 made the stuffing for the meal, but she announced she didn’t like cooking it because it was boring. She likes cooking stuff that she can stop and watch TV while she’s cooking. Aaron and I told her: what she’s saying is that she doesn’t like cooking, she likes having-had-cooked-something-that-people-appreciate. I’m like that too. 🤣😂 Regardless, the stuffing was great.

Since D-10 earns $5 / hour to hang out with IL-20mo while we’re doing yardwork, she has all sorts of money lying randomly around her room. I picked it all up and put it in her wallet over last weekend, and told her that she had to either spend it or put it in a bank account. We have allowed her to buy a cell phone, and pay for the extra line with the small amount of money she earns taking care of the cats. She’s getting a Motorola G7 Power (Marine Blue) with clear case (lined with pink bumpers).

This is what I woke up to Wednesday morning. Notice IL-20mo is cuddling both his Snuffy and my 40 year old blankie.

He woke up at 2am the night before, and I couldn’t get him back to sleep. I bet this is going to become a thing with him now.

Wednesday I had an appointment each for me, IL-20mo, and dad. IL-20mo was playing in the rain (dad’s idea) with no clothes on (my idea – we were out of fresh ones, as his other set was already wet). He face-planted on the driveway and scratched up his face and forehead. It was a hard enough fall that I was at first worried that he could have gashed his forehead and ended up with a gushing wound, which would have totally stressed the kids. He was fine, albeit a little upset.

Thursday was meant to be relaxing, but ended up a bit stressful. We FINALLY received information from the school about what day the kids would be in class (Tu / F). That was the last piece of information I needed to schedule D-10 and M-8’s evenings with their mom and the evenings D-10’s girl scout bronze award team will meet. I had been assuming that, as in the past, Cub Scouts would occur on Mondays and in-person Girl Scouts would occur every second Wednesday. I had also assumed that 5th grade band was out of the picture, since the “blowing instruments” will blow spit as well as a melodic tune. As soon as I’d finished making plans and felt the satisfaction of knowing everything fit in with the new plague-year routine, I found out 1) Cub Scouts would happen EITHER on Monday or Wednesday, depending on what day the bulk of kids ended up in soccer (let’s hope M-8 is on the same team!); 2) In-person Girl Scouts would no longer occur on Wednesdays, and it was not yet decided what day it would occur; 3) Band was happening, they just didn’t know how it would look. *sigh. I have decided that instead of changing around the schedule to make everything fit in again, I’m just going to simplify by dropping activities that don’t fit in with the schedule I have drawn up.

Friday morning so far has been active. It’s 7:20am, and I’ve already gone grocery shopping and to Home Depot.

Made Progress On

Update August 8, 2020

Hi all! Happy new week!

Friday was good. My morning was spent with my friend as a respite worker. I left IL-19mo with D-10 and Aaron (mostly D-10 who is a fantastic babysitter). That way, I had time to make some necessary phone calls and organize my to-do list, which had fallen to the wayside during my stress. I got dad’s neuropsychology evaluation scheduled for December, and now I have confirmation from his PCP that he has a dementia diagnosis.

We found out about schooling from the district – they are going for the hybrid model, where the kids will be in class 2 days a week, and online 3 days a week. I guess it’s the best that I’d hoped for. I don’t really want to worry about online schooling, but I don’t want to worry about sending them back to school at 100% capacity, either.

Later in the day, Aaron and I enjoyed a steak (the older kids were with their mom for Friday and Saturday nights) and watched some of Season 10 of Supernatural. I dropped by Walgreens only to discover that the cost of my medicine is $1700 for a month’s supply under our new insurance. I tried using a copay coupon, but no luck. Drug companies suck. So do insurance companies. If I have to go back to my old medicine, I can kiss losing weight goodbye.

Saturday my dad watched IL-19mo while Aaron and I worked in the yard. I raked up two of the four wood chip piles that used to be trees. They didn’t leave a lot of chips behind, but enough that it would be hard to reseed the area. Aaron weeded the “garden,” which we don’t use and plan on digging up when we build our new retaining wall. He also removed the compost bin, which would have been in the way when we build the wall.

After yard work, we ate salmon and watched Season 10 of Supernatural.

IL-19mo has figured out a solution to us turning the chairs over so he can’t climb on the table. He just pulls the chair into a convenient position, and climbs onto the table anyway.

D-10 was complaining that we have no plants, and I explained that no one in the house has the ability to keep one alive. We compromised by my promising to buy a cactus, which I did on a Home Depot run on Saturday. I think I’ll name it Diogenes. If I leave the naming to D-10, it’ll be called “unicorn” or some variation thereof. Seriously. It is known.

Sunday, Aaron and I worked on some yardwork a little more, then took the kids to Buffalo Wild Wings. Monday, I took mom to get an echocardiogram and then worked my PCA job. Tuesday, I had a doctor appointment, and in the evening the family went to a hamburger joint and then watched a couple episodes of Mandalorian. Wednesday was easy. I spent half the day working as a respite worker for my friend. Thursday was another busy day with lots of appointments. My mom’s dentist says she shouldn’t be brushing her own teeth anymore. I’m not quite sure what to do about that. We’re switching to an electric brush, in hopes that it helps.

Friday was mostly good, though I did spend a couple of hours going through government rules with a fine-toothed comb. J-16 needs to get his learner’s permit for driving. In order to do that, he needs a birth certificate (which I’ve got to get his dad to sign an application for) and either a school ID (which he previously told me he didn’t have) or a SS card. Unfortunately, his SS card has the wrong name on it, because my sister thought it would be a good stab in his dad’s back to use her last name instead of his. So the name on the birth certificate doesn’t match the name on the SS card. I have no idea how she managed that. So he needs a new SS card. But an SS card application needs two of: a hospital birth record (which we don’t have), a birth certificate, and (dum dum dum) a driver’s license (which, in case you’re not following, he won’t be able to get without either a school ID or a SS card). After much going in circles, I finally asked J-16 if there was ANY possibility of getting a school ID. He said yes, he had one. 🙄

Currently making progress on:

Update July 30, 2020

Sorry for not writing in so long! It has been quite the whirlwind of stress over the past month and the blog fell to the wayside, as did my diet and the exercise. But it’s time to get back into routine. I’ll insert a few pictures that I took during the intervening weeks.

That’s my mother-in-law with IL-19mo. I also got a good picture of her reading to him…he loves to be read to, but only the really short books with few words.

IL-19mo got lots of outside time with my mother-in-law in town. Some of it even included hanging out with his big brother.

D-10 loves posing for photos. It’s rare to catch her unaware as I did in the picture below.

Friday was a good day. I spent a good chunk of it with my friend as a respite worker. Since my Mother-in-law was in town, I got to do so without taking IL-19mo along, so it was very relaxing. I got some catching up done and then relaxed and played with a new calorie counter SparkPeople for a while. I like the app better than the one I’m using, though I found that one of the recipes I plugged in isn’t the slightest bit accurate on calories. I’m not sure what I did wrong when I made the recipe. The rest of the day, I spent relaxing with my family.

Saturday we decided to do an impromptu family day, but that was aborted because we realized we can’t play board games with IL-19mo around anymore. He’s grown too tall and grabby. We watched an episode of The Mandalorian instead.

M-8 got a COVID19 test on Saturday in preparation for an upcoming procedure. At first, he laughed and said it felt uncomfortable. We stopped by to say hi to his mom while we were in Minneapolis, at which time he said it “hurt a little.” Later, when his dad asked him how he took it, he said it “hurt a lot.” 🤷‍♀️

Sunday, my mother-in-law left for home early in the morning. Then my friend Liz came over and we introduced the kids to Doctor Who, season 5. They liked it. Even the weeping angels episodes. Right after IL-19mo passed out on me, Liz left. So I was pinned for a while.

M-8 was sulky because he didn’t get screens (except for Doctor Who) for almost the whole day. He pissed Aaron and me off, and even though punishment doesn’t influence M-8 in the slightest, we felt moved to punish him. He’d gone into the bathroom to take a bath (which we make him do on occasion), and after 15 minutes I knocked on the door to ask him why he hadn’t run the water yet. The kid actually claimed he’d run it and was in the bathtub. His voice came from the wrong part of the room. So now that he has reaffirmed that he’s a lying rapscallion, I’ll have to monitor him both while brushing teeth (another thing he’s lied about in the past) and while taking a bath. (He’ll just have to pull the curtain long enough for me to determine he’s in the tub.)

Deirdre also had a virtual girl scout meeting on Sunday evening. I lead the virtual meetings. This one was about recognizing the roles girls play throughout their lives. They had to circle the roles that they wanted to be from a list of roles as well as act out roles in a pantomime while the others guessed. I finished early, as the session was just left over from what we didn’t finish last time, and the kids played on Roblox together while the Zoom meeting continued.

Monday was a good day. I cleaned my parents’ house, took them on errands, then worked as a PCA in the evening. M-8 had some prep work for Tuesday’s colonoscopy/endoscopy, including not eating anything for half the day and cleansing himself at night. He wasn’t pleased, but took it all like a champ. He’s being very brave.

Despite a hard night of cleansing, I woke to find them having a “dance party” in D-10’s room. They were using her unicorn lamp as a colored party light.

I dealt with a lot of frustration Tuesday morning. My dad FINALLY agreed to get a neuropsychological evaluation last week. I think he may have mild cognitive impairment with behavioral changes (he gets very angry and acts unlike himself). I called the neurologist and primary care clinic over and over again, the PCP claims they faxed the referral over 3 times and the neurology clinic keeps claiming they haven’t received it. Tuesday they snail mailed it as well as faxing the “backup fax number.” Finally, they got it through to the backup fax, but they haven’t called me back about scheduling. I’m going to have to call AGAIN today (Friday). I’m afraid in the meantime dad’s going to forget he agreed to do this.

On top of that, J-16’s dad called me and insisted that “we” take custody of J-16. (By “we,” he is not including himself, as he has made it quite clear that J-16 will NOT be living with him.) J-16 doesn’t want to go to the high school he went to last year because he’s afraid of being bullied. But we can’t change his school without custody. J-16’s dad thinks he knows how to get custody, but trust me, he doesn’t. So he’s making promises to J-16 that he can’t keep. Meanwhile, J-16 is living with my parents, and keeps getting yelled at by dad, who doesn’t seem to be able to control himself (thus the neuropsychological assessment).

And, another thing that happened – the police showed up at dad’s house Tuesday to arrest two of J-16’s friends, who threw a rock through the window of the house behind them. Apparently, one of those same kids stole a car in the neighborhood – twice – and set a car down the street on fire last week. Dad has said that the kid is no longer allowed in his house, but he sneaks in through the basement window anyway.

M-8’s colonoscopy showed perfectly healthy gut, so we still don’t know why he’s having the minor problems he’s having. We spent approximately 5 hours at the hospital in total. It was quite boring.

Wednesday was stressful again, so there’s not much to say about it. In fact, I honestly don’t remember most of it. I think I spent some time running errands with my parents. lol. Thursday, we had several trees removed from our yard by a contractor that we were quite pleased with. Also, Aaron took a sick day so I could take a mental health day. That was really sweet of him. In the end, I didn’t really spend all that much time outside of the home, but just knowing that I didn’t have to worry about taking care of the kids or doing laundry or making phone calls made me feel SO much better, and this morning (Friday), I’m ready to take on the day again. Thursday night, D-10, Aaron, and I went to Olive Garden and then watched While You Were Sleeping and The Hate U Give. Oh, yes, and the highly anticipated announcement by Walz about whether the schools were opening? Great letdown. He announced that the districts would decide for themselves. Why did he wait until July 30th to announce THAT? Grr.

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Update July 3, 2020

Hi all! Yet another week come and gone.

Friday was a tough day. I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Things that normally would annoy me (like M-8 refusing breakfast because he’s not hungry, then saying he’s hungry an hour later) made me angry (and because I couldn’t tell M-8 how angry I was – doctor’s orders! – I became bitter). I did get to snuggle with IL-18mo for his nap because he was screaming all day and wouldn’t let me put him in his crib. And I read to him for a while. I walked a whopping total of 1799 steps. 🤣😂 That’s less than half the steps of a sedentary person. But at least I kept to my diet.

D-10 had her first meeting with O-10 and L-10. They are the team of girls that will be working on the Bronze award together for Girl Scouts. They introduced themselves, and then got a lot of laughs playing around with Zoom backgrounds. I settled on a Supernatural Season 9 background. D-10 didn’t complain, so that’s how we kept it. Their assignment this week is to brainstorm names for their vlog.

Saturday I started with a 3.2 mile jog/walk. I finally decided not to go to my friend’s 40th birthday party, which really sucks. He’s a friend since the second grade. But I decided it’s impossible to social distance with a toddler in tow, and I work with 2 high risk people, in addition to helping two high risk parents. 😭 Aaron got a lot of stuff done Saturday, but I was pulled aside by IL-18mo, who wanted to go outside and play is his Cosy Coup and then to go on a walk. I pushed him 3.2 miles, only to discover that my pedometer doesn’t register steps taken while pushing a stroller. Nor, apparently, is it very accurate when I’m pushing a grocery cart. But oh well. *shrug Pedometer claimed I’d walked 13284 steps, but I suspect it missed about 6000 steps.

Sunday I skipped my morning jog/walk because IL-18mo woke up cold and started screaming at 6am. I snuggled down with him in bed. Then I spent all day driving, so I only got in 1934 steps. I took J-16 to see his sister in Rochester, MN which is 1.5 hours south of the Twin Cities, then I continued south another 2.5 hours to Waterloo, IA, to pick up my aunt. I stayed there a couple hours to let J-16 get a full day with his sister, and then returned to pick him up and take them to my dad’s place. My aunt will stay with my mom during dad’s cataract surgery on Wednesday, in case I have to wait for hours in the waiting room or take dad to the doctor because his eye hurts too much, like last time. Then she’ll be there the first few days so she can call me if he needs an emergency trip to the doctor.

After the drive, J-16, tech unsavvy as he is, wanted me to sign him up for driver’s ed. He’s excited to drive a car, though the only car he’ll have access to is mine. Yikes! I made it home just on time to listen to Aaron read the kids the final chapter of Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star.

Monday I wasn’t able to get out for a jog/walk because it was raining all day. I spent the morning running errands with my parents, the afternoon making phone calls, and the evening doing PCA work.

Tuesday was appointment day. I had 3 appointments between me and the kids. Afterwards, I went to my parents’ house to defuse an argument between J-16 and dad, and to give dad his instructions for the surgery the next day. Then my aunt came over to my house, had pizza, and we all watched Artemis Fowl.

Wednesday dad had his cataract surgery in the morning, for which I was chauffeur. Then, right when I thought it was finally time to take a nap, I had to drive back to dad’s because J-16 was through with dad, and was packing his bags to come to my house. I thought for about an hour that Aaron and I would have a moody teenaged runaway on our hands, but he eventually calmed down, and decided to stay at dad’s. I might add that the arguments are caused by dad as well as J-16. I am afraid dad’s personality is changing with age. And J-16 has an unmanaged mental illness to deal with. After they calmed down, we decided to all go to out to dinner at Olive Garden. We had to seat J-16, his friend, and M-8 at a separate table than the rest of us, but it was still a good dinner.

Thursday started out running errands with J-16 and dad. I got home around noon exhausted by their antics. The rest of the day I destressed. I needed that after the long week. Friday will begin a new week, as far as my blog goes (and I can arbitrarily start “the week” whenever I want), so I can get back to the routine of running in the morning and being careful about what I eat. 🤣😂 My diet and exercise doesn’t hold up against stress well.

This week I made progress listening to Wolf Hall. Aaron read The Grip of the Shadowplague to us. And I worked on the Serial Reader edition of Wives and Daughters.

I watched the movie Artemis Fowl and Aaron finished reading Rise of the Evening Star to us.

Update June 26, 2020

Hi all! Another good week. This week I decided it’s time to stop coronavirus doldrums from kicking my booty. I’ve gained back all the weight that I lost this year. So I started jog/walking and calorie counting. After some trial and error, I have decided to jog/walk every day except Tuesdays and Fridays, because I don’t want to burn myself out. Aaron will help me do certain tasks around the house so I’ll have time to exercise. I also did a fantastic job at keeping below 1700 calories every day but Thursday. Can’t expect perfection, I guess.

Saturday morning went well. I jog/walked 1.2 miles. We got lots checked off our to-do lists, but the second half threw a wrench in my plans. Dad, who was supposed to be watching IL-18mo, decided to let IL run freely in the front yard, while dad precariously perched on our rock pile to clean our gutters. I mean, that WAS on our to-do list, but we’d rather dad stayed safe and watched IL-18mo. Besides, he looked like he was going to tear the gutter off.

Point is, I had to immediately stop what I was doing to make sure IL-18mo didn’t run in to the street – as I tried to talk dad off the rocks.

And then we had a rather disastrous DIY project, as well. The cats have been tearing apart our carpet on the stairs, and it had gotten so bad that it was a fall hazard. We couldn’t get new carpet for fear that the cats would rip it up before we were able to sell the house. So Aaron ripped out the carpet, neither of us aware that there would be padding underneath. We figured it was carpet covering finished wood. (Probably naive.) It’s an eyesore. We will need to get the stairs finished by a contractor at some point.

We decided to spend the rest of Saturday evening relaxing while watching Supernatural.

Father’s day was a lot of fun. I cooked a roast, and my parents came over to eat. Dad, mom, and I went to Barnes and Noble because the libraries aren’t open for browsing, and mom wanted a book to read. Dad bought books for D-10, M-8, and IL-18mo. They all seemed pretty appreciative. Here’s a picture of dad reading his new book to IL-18mo.

Monday started out with a jog/walk of 1.88 miles. I haven’t found a path I can reliably follow while still concentrating on my audiobook. I live in one of those suburbs where streets don’t go straight, and they suddenly end in homey cul-de-sacs. Monday I tried running down major roads to be sure I wouldn’t get turned around. Little did I know that the sidewalk would veer off through a tunnel and into a park I didn’t even know existed. Pretty cool, except I was looking for a straight path. 🤣😂

Later in the morning, I went to the park with dad, IL-18mo, and D-10. (M-8 was at the orthodontist with Aaron.) It was a fun trip, though dad climbed the spider-web thing after D-10.

I tried to convince him to come down, but he ignored me, and there wasn’t much I could do about it. When he was younger I would have thought it was funny, but he’s not exactly rock-steady on his feet anymore. I think he does things like this just to get a rise out of me.

M-8 has been sent away from the orthodontist till December. We’re waiting until more teeth grow in.

Monday evening, I worked a PCA job with an old client. It’ll just be on Monday nights, but nice to hang out with him and get a little extra cash.

Tuesday was pretty uneventful. Spent the day hanging with the kids, and getting a few tasks done around the house. In the evening, I took M-8 to Code Ninjas. In case you’re not familiar with the franchise, it uses ninja belt colors to rank kids in how well they program games – he’s currently a white belt (the beginner’s rank). He loves programming so far and is really excited to get back to it.

Wednesday I started the morning with a .97 mile jog/walk. The rest of the day, I was busy running errands with my dad. We also managed to get in a 2 mile walk with IL-18mo. I managed a total of 14446 steps! (That puts me into the “active” category. I’m generally “sedentary.”) We finished up the day with an evening of Troll Hunters with M-8.

Thursday started with a jog/walk of 2.07 miles. Then I went to my respite job, where I get to hang out with a friend for 4 hours while her husband gets some time to himself. After that, I went on a 2 mile walk with dad and IL-18mo, cleaned my parents’ house, and then had dinner with them and my family. I walked a total of 15525 steps, for another “active” day.

On a side note, J-16 threw dad’s clean laundry from the drier as well as from the washing machine on the floor, all mixed together. Dad went down to complain to him, and J-16 then sent me a text about how disrespectful dad is. lol I suggested that he might avoid conflict by taking proper care of other people’s laundry.

This week I made progress on Fablehaven, which Aaron is reading to us before the kids go to bed, and Wolf Hall, which I’m listening to while I drive, run, and clean.

I watched a few episodes of Supernatural Season 10 and Troll Hunters Series 2.