Update January 15, 2022

Hi all! Hope you had a great week. Due to politics it was a stressful one for us. Aaron and I had a hard time concentrating on things that needed to be done. I was feeling so sick with a headache and other symptoms over the weekend, that I was almost worried I was coming down with something nasty. But in the end we survived.

I finished listening to Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching, by Mychal Denzel Smith. In this memoir about what it’s like to become a black man in the age of Obama, Smith confronts issues about gender,  sexuality, patriarchy,  and mental illness through the lens of black America. I felt his discussion was well-articulated and was a good book for people who are unfamiliar with the topic, but his arguments about race weren’t particularly new for a well-read individual.

Family Life

Well, I gave up on my first cross-stitch attempt under an onslaught of criticism.  There were two major problems that I’m aware of. D11 pointed out that she didn’t think there was enough space for the entire pattern. I was going to try anyway because it was a close call, and I HAD measured. Second problem was separating the floss. In theory, DMC floss separates into 6 strands but I could only get it to separate into 2 strands. If I separated it more, it just turned into fluff. So I used the entire piece since the pattern said to use two  strands. Apparently that was the wrong choice. So I’m going to retry with one of the strands (which is, in theory, actually 3 smaller strands. Here’s where I surrendered project attempt 1:

The kids were not impacted by the attempted coup on the 6th. I did explain what happened the next morning, and by an hour later D11 had forgotten we’d talked about it. The kids ended up starting school 18 minutes late the next day (I was out for a moment and expected their alarms to alert them of the time.) I jokingly told the kids to tell their teachers that their dad was distracted by the attempted coup, and M8 actually did that! 🤣😂

On Friday night,  we decided to destress by having a movie night. We watched Die Hard and Terminator 2. M8 loved Die Hard and D11 loved T2. M8 used an oven for the first time that night. He wanted more baked fries, and I told him he could have them if he baked them on his own. So he did (with a little assistance). I wasn’t even tempted to run up behind him and yell “DON’T BURN YOURSELF!!!” unexpectedly, as I am when D11 sticks something into the oven. (Mind you, I’ve never done this, I just feel tempted to sometimes.)

I have mixed feelings about the impeachment. I like the idea of him losing his ability to run again, but I feel that if it’s just a token impeachment, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars. However, we celebrated the potential downfall of Trump’s aspirations at a second term with s’mores and a movie night. We watched Encino Man.

Found this on the livingroom floor the next morning:

Apparently someone was eating floor crumbs?

D11 had her very first babysitting job this week. 4 hours at $7/hour. She enjoyed herself, and was really excited. She also has two other people interested. Maybe $7 was too little of a charge? We’ll work with it until she has some references, though.

Update January 7, 2021

Hi All! Welcome to my first post of 2021. 😁😁😁

This week I finished Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia. In it, a flirtatious socialite visits her cousin, who claims her husband is trying to kill her. Moreno-Garcia keeps the reader on her toes with a creepy gothic vibe and a relatable protagonist.

Reason for reading: This was for a book club that I never ended up joining. But it fits well with my desire to read BIPOC books this year.

I also finished Trapped, by Kevin Hearne. In this fifth book of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Atticus works desperately to bind Granuaile to the earth as he struggles with interruptions. It wasn’t as great as the first four books. It continued the storyline, but at a slow pace, and had very little action.

Reason for Reading: This series was first suggested by my friend Nora. I started listening to the first book with Aaron 3 years ago, and have continued since then.

I finished reading Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, in which a slave named Cora escapes Georgia on a locomotive in a literal underground railroad. It was very creative and interesting, but I was left wondering why Whitehead chose a locomotive for his story. There was one rather obvious hint (and I probably missed others along the way):

“Lumbly’s words returned to her: If you want to see what this nation is all about, you have to ride the rails. Look outside as you speed through and you’ll find the true face of America. It was a joke, then, from the start. There was only darkness outside the windows on her journeys, and only ever would be darkness.”

Reason for reading: I have wanted to read this book since it came out. This year, I am trying to focus on reading BIPOC books.

I also read the board book Nerdy Babies Rocks, by Emmy Kastner. It was cute. I really like the series.

Right now, I am listening to 1984, by George Orwell with Aaron. I’m reading Evicted, by Matthew Desmond. I’m listening to Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching, by Mychal Denzel Smith. Aaron is reading Keys to the Demon Prison, by Brandon Mull to the kids.

Family Life

New year’s eve started out well, with M8 cleaning the kitchen because he left his socks on the table, and D11 cleaning the livingroom because she left her socks on the floor. Then, they both left for their mom’s. Aaron and I stayed up till midnight. We listened to Trapped, and watched Supernatural. I also cleaned purple crayon off the walls, gift of IL2. A wet rag dipped in baking soda works wonders. My favorite part of the night was when IL2 joined me in cleaning the walls. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a wash rag, dipped it in my bowl of baking soda and rubbed it on the wall. 🤣😂

Once 2021 hit, we could start making purchases for our Amazon reseller’s startup: Hibernator’s Library. (We wanted to wait for 2021 for tax purposes.) Our startup is running!

I decided to take up cross-stitching as a hobby, mainly only for use while I’m listening to Aaron read to the kids or to the audiobook I’m listening to with Aaron. And maybe when my Monday client is watching TV. It’s not something I’ve ever tried before, so hopefully I’ll enjoy it. Here’s what my first project is supposed to end up looking like:

Here’s the progress I’ve made so far:

I also found some old CDs of pictures of J16 when he was a kid in my mom’s stuff. I think I’ll make a scrapbook for him some day. Here’s my favorite so far:

D11 took her Red Cross babysitting class last Thursday, and I immediately found someone on a Facebook mom’s group who was willing to pay $7/hr for an 11 year old to watch her 3 and 6 year old girls. It’s not a lot, but I figure once she gets a reference or two we should be fine.

On the night of the attempted coup, D11 made a cake. That’s her unsure face, but she did a really good job. Apparently the gigantic bottles of alcohol I bought when I was stressing about the coup is in the background. Oops. 🤣😂 I have a mess to clean up this morning.

New Year Update

Happy new year!

This has been a tough year for everyone. But our family, for the most part, ended up doing well.

IL2 learned to walk, talk (sort of), and now sits on the potty.

M8 graduated into the 3rd grade, learned to program (a little) at Code Ninjas, and passed two levels in swimming. He is now a Bear Scout. He was diagnosed with an eating disorder, ARFID, which explains why he didn’t respond to standard eating therapy methods (they don’t work with ARFID, and actually make things worse). Now that we have switched to feeding him 6 times a day he went up from 3rd percentile in BMI at 6 to 47th at 8! Yay! I’m so proud of both him and us.

D11 graduated into the 5th grade, passed two levels in swimming, joined a swim team, and joined band (flute). She was diagnosed with a learning disorder, and will FINALLY get the help she needs in her writing. She really blossomed this year, learning how to control her anxiety and really maturing emotionally.

I read a total of 50 books, including a whopping total of 19 books that weren’t board books. I plan on getting that up to 75 next year by adding in graphic novels. My mother passed in September of a fall off the front stoop. I worked most of the year as a PCA for a quadriplegic man.

Aaron taught himself to knit and did an amazing job of tearing down our retaining wall and building a new one. It is beautiful.

Update December 31, 2020

Wow, already New Year’s eve! I hope everyone has a good one!

This blogging week began with Christmas on Friday, which was very relaxed. The kids were at their mom’s this year, and since IL2 had no idea when Christmas was, we didn’t bother doing anything special for him. We had roast and potatoes for dinner.

We opened presents with the kids on Sunday.  M8 got some footie pajamas and a Swiss Army knife that he was thrilled with. D11 got a doll dress sewing kit that she loved. And IL2 got some Duplos train tracks, among other toys he loved.

IL2 has begun his potty training by being put on the potty a few times a day. He hasn’t peed yet, but he seems to enjoy sitting on it, and tells me when he’s all done. On Christmas,  I opened his long-legged, long-armed onesie to discover he had no diaper on under it. We looked and looked for the ditched diaper, but no luck. Finally, I asked IL2 where it was and promised I wouldn’t put the dirty one back on. IL2 got up, walked to the TV, and pulled it out from behind. He must have hidden it there intentionally!

M8 has told me (not for the first time) that he no longer believes in the “Jesus-God” because he believes in the Greek gods after having Percy Jackson read to him. I suspect this is more about interest than belief (he went through a period of interest in Jesus, too). I suggested that if he was going to learn about pagan pantheons and explore his own spirituality, he should try learning about some of the other pantheons, too. I have ordered him a book about Norse gods, and decided the next book we’ll read together after Fablehaven is Riordon’s Magnus Chase books.

Aaron finished his crocheted Cthulu, and has started on a unicorn for Deirdre.

D11 finally got her first set of high heels – ordered for her birthday by her mom, but not arriving until this week. She’s been waiting impatiently for them to arrive. She got two pairs from her aunt Eleanor for Christmas, but she grew a foot size since the beginning of the school year already, and they were ordered in the wrong size. (I had no idea D11 had only been wearing over-sized snow boots for weeks and that we’d missed a leap in shoe size.)

Aaron and I discussed building an ADU for my dad with an architect. I’d formerly contacted 3 architects – one never responded, one turned me off right away, and the third (this one) has been pretty good so far. We discussed putting the ADU behind the garage or under the deck. It kind of puts the shed in an awkward spot, and I guess it’s movable. The architect is now drawing up rough scetches of his ideas.

Update December 24, 2020

Hi everyone! This was a good Christmas week for the family. I hope everyone who is celebrating a holiday around this time of year is having a wonderful season.

As I mentioned in the last post, IL2 has learned to take off his own diaper as well as his pants. This week, he managed to draw on the wall with the contents of his diaper. We put him in a long-armed, long-legged onesie (specifically bought to foil him), and he managed to get the diaper off anyway! Through the leg? We don’t know! I’ve decided to go ahead and see if he’s ready to be potty trained. No pressure, of course, I think he’s a little too young and not communicative enough. But it doesn’t hurt to put him him pull-ups, talk about going potty, and put him on the potty every couple of hours just to see.

We have great news about M8. His BMI is up to 47th percentile! He was around 3rd percentile when we first started working on his weight at 6.5 years old. I count that as a huge success, mainly due to feeding him 6 times a day and not worrying about his lack of variety (as suggested by his eating disorder doctor). We have to do a few tweaks to his diet in order to improve his digestive health. We hope to maintain his weight where it is.

M8 also got his new expander from his orthodontist this week. He was pretty excited about it. He wasn’t so excited once they put the gross-tasting glue in, though. Now he can’t talk quite right and is having a little difficulty eating. But he’ll get used to it.

D11 had a virtual birthday party that she attended on Sunday. They all played Roblox together.

Aaron has been learning how to crochet. He’s currently working on a Cthulu.

On Saturday night we went to see Christmas lights as a family. That was a lot of fun. 🙂 This house literally had about a hundred inflatables in the front and back yard.

Sunday night, we watched Nightmare Before Christmas. We were going to watch Die Hard, but the kids simply weren’t interested.

Update December 17, 2020

Hi all! I’m back after a break. I finished How to be Less Stupid About Race, by Crystal M Fleming, and started listening to Mexican Gothic by Sylvia Marino-Garcia. I am still reading Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

Thoughts on Books I’m reading

How to be Less Stupid About Race: This is a radical viewpoint on racism. I didn’t agree with everything she had to say. I thought her analysis of American politics was particularly harsh. I think it’s going a bit far to call Obama an Uncle Tom. However, a lot of what she said resonated with me once it was able to sink in (such as the fact that pretty much every institution in the US is white supremacist at some level.

Apparently IL2 had too many CheezIts.

I totally decluttered the basement in expectation of having my startup business (selling books online) down there. It was quite a feat, and I’m proud of myself. It looks great.

IL2 had his birthday party.

And the kids put up the Christmas tree. The star didn’t fit on top, though both kids tried.

Not sure why neither looked at the camera. Maybe they thought I wasn’t ready?

We got D11’s assessment back from the school, and they finally admit she has a learning disability, specific to her writing and working memory. It’s great that she’ll finally have help with this. I think it’ll put her on the right path to success. They’re working on writing an IEP right now.

M8 caught an elf with D11’s help. When she was pretty young, D11 caught some elves by propping up a box with a stick. Apparently M8’s elf felt an 8yo should come up with a better trap. So the elf didn’t fall for that, eating the Snickers bait and leaving a note that M8 needed to be more clever. The next day, M8 was feeling very discouraged (even cried at night!) I felt pretty bad. But they had built another trap despite his frustration (good for him for working through it). They put a towel over the open toy chest so that the elf would walk on the towel and it would collapse, capturing him in the toy chest. They built a staircase so he could get up there.

When the kids got up in the morning, they discovered that D11’s elf Piper had closed the lid on Pooper (M8’s elf), who was climbing out. Pitter and Patter (more of D11’s elves) had pushed over the staircase. What’s more, Pooper and built a toilet out of Duplos and left a Starburst poop in it. M8 refused to eat it.

Puck, one of the cats, photobombed the picture.

IL2 likes to run around only in a diaper, and mostly we let him. But if he pulls off his diaper, we have to pin him down and put on pants. Lately, IL2 has started taking off his pants, too. So we’ll have to make do with onesies for a while. I just bought some long legged onesies to get him through the winter.

IL2 wore a mask for the first time – MN only requires one at age 5 and above, but I thought I’d try it out. He really liked to be like the bigger kids.

D11 made some wonderful Macarons. She often has difficulty with recipes, probably because of her working memory, but this time she did fantastic! And it was a hard recipe, too. (Maybe the added stress of complication made her more careful. We should try her out on more difficult recipes.) She even bought her own food processor for the recipe.

Yesterday, Governor Walz announced that elementary schools can open again, at full capacity. We’re still waiting to see what the district decides to do about that. It’ll be great if they can go back full time, though I’ll miss having a babysitter on Wednesdays, which are currently their short days.

Update December 3, 2020

Happy Thursday everyone! This week went well as far as reading goes, and uneventful as far daily life goes. I’m currently still listening to How to be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal M Fleming and reading Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. Aaron and I finished Tricked by Kevin Hearne and started the next book in the series, Trapped. And the family is still chugging through the last Fablehaven book.

Thoughts about books

How to be Less Stupid About Race I admit to some surprise at Fleming’s claim that Obama was an Uncle Tom. I did agree with her that he was more supportive of war-like efforts than I would have wished, but I’d never thought of him as promoting racist agendas. She claims that he didn’t condemn police departments for disproportionately killing black people, and that he was standoffish about #BlackLivesMatter. She points out that he frequently signed off on the bombing of brown people. I can’t really say whether she’s right or wrong, since I am not well-educated on this topic. I do remember him saying that Trayvon Martin could be his son. I am inclined to think Obama was somewhere in the middle of Fleming’s opinion and the hero-worship he gets from many fans.

Underground Railroad Still not sure where this is going…But I’m enjoying it.

Tricked Good continuation of the Iron Druid series. It’s the fourth book in the series, and they’re just as good so far as they were at the beginning. I have heard it peters out toward the end, but there are three more left.

Life in general

D11 opened her gift from Aunt Eleanor a little later than the rest of her gifts – and she loved it:

Thanksgiving was fun (for me, anyway). I cooked a turkey (brined, and roasted breast-down for juiciness), stuffing, and garlic mashed potatoes. Dad, Aaron, Loki, and I had a lovely dinner. The kids were with their mom. Aaron ended up work a few hours on Thanksgiving because he was on call, and things blew up. But he took an hour off to feast with us.

Sunday the kids came back home from their mom’s. They really enjoyed themselves there. D11 then then completed the requirements for 2 robotics badges in Girl Scouts through a Zoom meeting. She’s excited as she hasn’t earned many (any?) merit badges so far. I guess her troop isn’t big on them.

Update November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This week I finished listening to How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi, and started How to be Less Stupid about Race, by Crystal Marie Flemming. I continued reading Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead (my decision to read Economist was foiled by my library getting rid of it). Aaron and I decided to listen to a half hour of an audiobook every evening, since M8 complains about the scary noises if we watch Supernatural. We will start by finishing up Tricked by Kevin Hearne – which we started on a road trip in September. We are also continuing reading Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull as a family.

Thoughts on books I’m reading

How to Be an Antiracist: I know a lot of woke people don’t agree with Kendi about reverse racism (that black people can be racist about both white people and black people), but I think that until all forms of hatred and discomfort with people based on their category (race, ethnicity,  gender, and sexual preference, etc.) are eradicated racism will be rampant. I do see other people’s points that racism should include a power differential as well – and that non-whites can’t be racist, but as of right now my definition of racism does not include a power differential. Maybe my mind will change as I read more on the topic over the coming year.

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: Flemming is probably going to totally disagree with Kendi on reverse racism, though I haven’t reached that point in the book. Right now, we’re covering the difficult (for me) topic of how systematic racism is a form of white supremacy. I see her point, but I have always defined white supremacy as an extreme position such as those of neo-nazis. But I also see that in order to move the more recalcitrant people onto the antiracist realm, there must be a paradigm shift.

Underground Railroad: The anachronisms, as well as Whitehead’s decision to make the railroad a literal railroad are confusing to me. I suppose he is trying to represent racism as it has changed in the US over time? I’ll see as the book progresses.

This week for the family

The weekend went well. D10 had her 11th birthday party. It was a virtual mystery party. It had a good turnout – Aaron only had to play two characters. It was about a king whose trident had been stolen, and we needed to determine which of the characters (acted out by the party attendees) was the thief. She really enjoyed it, as well as the presents she received. Aaron and I bought her two dresses, the first 4 books of the School of Good and Evil, and the Wildwood trilogy. She’s enjoying the School of Good and Evil books. Her grandma bought her a smart watch, and my dad bought her a bag of rubber chickens. M8 got whoopie cushions as his half-birthday gift, and IL23mo opened his presents early to receive 4 board books and a train set.

IL23mo wants to learn to ride a bike.

I’m now an official seller on Amazon, and am watching a whole bunch of videos to figure out how to sell books properly.

Today I am having a small family gathering.

Update November 19, 2020

Hi everyone! I’m SO close to finishing listening to How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. I was reading Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, but I think I’ll move to audiobook for that. I’ve decided to use my personal reading time to read The Economist magazine, and save my book reading for audiobooks. We’ll see how well that works. 🙂 I’ve also decided to try my hand at “flipping books” for some extra cash. Basically, you go to thrift stores, garage sales, and other book sales and scan the books with an app which tells you how much the book sells for on Amazon. If there’s 100% profit margin or more, you buy the book, and sell it. I’m just starting out by selling a bunch of dad’s old books, some of which are valuable. That will tell me how easy it is to sell books on Amazon and generate some revenue for the business, if (in January) I find that I do want try selling books for a business.

This weekend was fun. My friend came over and the kids dressed up and watched Paranorman. This happened just on time, since we are now back to being restricted on having people from other households over at our house. (New orders by the governor on Wednesday.)

While going through the lot of dad’s books I’m selling, I discovered 3 vintage Boy Scout books with copyright dates from 1913 – 1932. I sold them to a boy scout friend who is interested in that sort of thing.

Anyway, that really covers this week! Not much happened, because not much CAN happen during these times. D10 can’t even go to her swim team anymore, because youth sports have been halted as of tomorrow. But this weekend she has a virtual birthday party coming up. It’s a “mystery party” where everyone gets to act like an assigned character, and solve a mystery. It’s kind of dumbed down for the sake of being virtual, but hopefully it should be fun.

Update November 12, 2020

Hi all! Hopefully you had a good week. This week I spent time reading Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead and listening to How to be an Antiracist, by Ibram X Kendi. I’m enjoying both thoroughly. 

Saturday,  Aaron raked the leaves and readied the house for winter. I helped a bit, and also worked on some indoor work. D10 will be switching on Tuesday to a different swim team, since the much less expensive district team finally opened back up post coronavirus. It will be very different for her, as it is competitive, and has meets. We’ll see how she likes it.

Sunday, we broke the pinata that we were going to break on Halloween (which we didn’t do because D10 was under quarantine at her mom’s house). IL-23 mo loved the bat, and had difficulty sharing.

Monday was uneventful, besides the family going out to dinner with my dad. I also had a run-in with the special ed teacher at the kids’ school. She said that she didn’t need to talk to me about D10, she would just talk to the bio-parents. I told her that I was sorry I was unwelcome, since I’m the main caretaker. She backed off right away at the word “unwelcome.” I hate being treated like a secondary parent!

Tuesday, D10 had her first lessons on the competitive team with the school district, she had a really fun time. We also found out that dad’s contractor was exposed to COVID, and could have exposed dad, Johnny, and me if he caught it from his friend. I imagine it’s unlikely to have passed that quickly from friend->contractor->dad, but I guess these are the stressful times in which we live. Still, right after being quarantined because of the family fever, I don’t want to be quarantined again for known COVID exposure. On the flip-side, we came up with a fantastic virtual party plan for D10’s birthday, which we will celebrate on the 22nd of November.

Wednesday was noneventful. I read about the new restrictions in MN – mostly restricting sizes of parties and closing restaurants and bars at 10pm. Nothing that impacts me. I’m waiting to see if they’ll close the elementary school this week or next. High schools and middle schools are already closed. The neighboring county just closed their elementary school.

Anyway, have a good week! Hopefully I can make some blogging rounds later today.