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

Update April 16, 2021

Hi all! Hope you had a good week! Ours was very busy. But First:

Reading life

Aaron, Deirdre, and I finished Sword of Summer, by Rick Riordan. It’s the first in his Magnus Chase series about a teen who discovers he’s the son of Norse god Frey. It’s in some ways just a retelling of Percy Jackson – Riordan has a bit of a formula it seems, but it works. We enjoyed it.

Personal life

Well, we decided to get that house after all. Our realtor pointed out that all the problems were indicated as “minor.” She also pointed out that we could get a maintenance plan which would cover appliance problems (after, presumably, a certain amount of time has passed since initiation of the plan). Our closing date for our current house is May 3rd, and for the new house is May 19th. So we’ll have a period of time in an extended stay hotel.

We were going to house the cats at my dad’s house, but my nephew J17 stole the door to the room we were going to put the cats into, and sawed a chunk off. Getting a new door and putting it on is another to-do this week!

D11 is doing a fantastic job of purging her room. She’s even excited about it! M8 is less excited, but worked hard on it with Deirdre’s help. I’ve been busy making calls, reservations, etc. I’m very much concerned we aren’t going to be packed on time, but luckily Aaron’s mom is coming to visit, and she’ll be able to watch Loki during the day so I can pack during the week.

Even with all that going on, I wrote letters to pen pals in Ontario, Western Australia, Pennsylvania, and Washington State. And I still have 3 more to write!

Aaron talked me out of starting my exercise routine until we are done packing. I am a little heart-broken about that. I really wanted to start. And it feels like there’s always a reason not to start. Regardless, I lost 6.2 pounds this week just from dieting. My goal is 1 pound per week, but the first week of a diet always makes me drop a good 5 pounds in water weight.

Update April 9, 2021

Well, this post isn’t too far from the last post, but I thought I’d get back on my Friday post schedule.

We had big news: our offer was accepted on a house! It was in the same school district as our current house, so the kids would have been able to visit their friends. We really lucked out. But, alas, we had to fail it on the inspection. It had a furnace that didn’t quite work, multiple plumbing leaks, a small gas leak, and the water softener and water heater were mysteriously turned off for the inspection, despite the house being occupied. If they found that much wrong, what didn’t they find?

I already started packing, and I’ll continue for the sake of decluttering for house viewings, as we will be unable to accept the house-flipper’s offer (it expires in 6 days).

On Wednesday, I bought a new dishwasher, since our dishwasher broke right after we signed the agreement with the house-flipper. Aaron tried installing it, and after a close call with electrocution (thank goodness for rubber handles on wire cutters) and a minor flood, we had a dishwasher that worked as long as we were running the garbage disposal at the same time.

I wrote 1 pen pal letter, to a friend in Belgium. And I got my hair in a pony tail for the first time since shaving my head!

As for exercising, I made a 27 week daily plan on training first for my 5 k with Zombies, Run! and then for a walking marathon. The first several weeks looks like this:

The Zombies, Run! 5k training is 8 weeks long, 3 workouts a week. WK1, etc., is the week and WO1, etc., is the workout number. 5/16 is the official start date of my walking marathon training. The plan is really ambitious, so I’m not entirely certain I have made the right plan, especially since there is no plan for my upper body and abdomen. But I’ll figure out what I’m capable of with time.

As for walking to Mordor, I made it to Tookland since my last post.

Update April 6, 2021

Hi all! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. Things have been busy. But first of all, I finished a book!

Reading Life

1984, by George Orwell – Aaron and I enjoyed this, and are moving on to Dune, by Frank Herbert.

Personal Life

Well, Aaron has been out of town for almost a month, and things fell apart. The dishwasher broke, and so did the diaper pail. Aaron came back just in time to be quarantined for COVID exposure, as M8 caught it at school. M8 was asymptomatic, and was cleared to go back to school on the 5th, but everyone but me has been quarantined for 14 days after Easter.

Despite catching COVID, M8 had a good month. He won 6th place at the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby.

D8 cooked Easter dinner. The whole thing. She worked all day, and it came out really well.

Aaron and I accepted an offer from a house-flipper a few weeks ago. It was less money then we would have received selling to a family, but we were fond of the idea of not having to fix up the house. It expires if we don’t find a house by April 15th, and move out by May 1st. Last week, we made 2 offers for houses. Neither was accepted. We’re making another today.

I finally gave up on my dietician’s plan for me – she wanted me to not care about my weight, and just eat healthy. I gained 10 pounds. So back to dieting. My goal is to lose 1 pound per week. For a total of 4-5 pounds each month. I will also get back into walking/running, since I had to give it up for the winter. I will be using Zombies, Run! to train. And I will be walking to Mordor by logging daily steps. I will follow Frodo and Sam’s path (red, then green).

Source (perhaps not the original): https://www.reddit.com/r/lotr/comments/1870r9/map_of_characters_paths_through_the_books_my/