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.

Working on


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.

Update June 19, 2020

Hi All! Happy Juneteenth! Good, but busy, week around here. On Friday evening, I watched an episode of Psych, Season 3 with the family and then went through my mother-in-law’s pictures from 2015. My favorite is:

Saturday morning we chugged through our to-do lists, and then dug out rocks in the afternoon. Aaron played Diablo III with the kids for a little while and then read from the second Fablehaven book. I went through pictures from 2016. Only 4 more years (including 2020). Favorites:

Sunday was “family day” and we hung the bird house the kids made at their grandparents’ house.

Then we set up the slip and slide and let the kids have fun on it.

We finished by watching a bit of our family show – Psych.

Monday, as usual, was my day to clean my parents’ house and run errands for them. I came home mid-day to enforce reading time on my poor, unsuspecting stepchildren.  Then I performed yet another atrocity by taking them to the park. I try to get them to read every weekday, and go to the park when we can. Otherwise, they’ll sit on their screens all day every day.

After the park, my dad wanted to take us to Olive Garden. It was his first chance to eat out since the restaurants opened for indoor seating. Unfortunately, they only seat 6 at a table, per state regulations. We had 7. So we let the kids have their own table.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were uneventful, but busy. I got lots of things checked off my to-do list, including hours of telephone calls and housecleaning. Aaron, D-10, and I watched a couple episodes of Once Upon a Time, and Aaron, M-8, and I watched a few episodes Troll Hunters.

Wednesday, D-10 had her first Outschool class on film editing, but we were left in the dust because I downloaded the wrong software. So the teacher was nice enough to transfer us to another class starting in July. In the meantime, I will play around with the software so that I have an idea of how to use it, too.

Thursday, I got a bit miffed because I had reserved a company to take down some trees in our yard before we built our retaining wall. They agreed to come in mid-June. So mid-June rolled around, and I emailed them to ask when they were coming. They waited 3 days to respond, and said end of July. Problem is that we plan on putting up the retaining wall in August, so that is playing it really close. And if they decide to put us off again, we don’t get to put up the wall. He apologized when I told him late July wasn’t soon enough, and offered to come out on a weekend sooner rather than later. Aaron says “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…” So I emailed him and said “nevermind.” He said he’d come out next weekend. We’ll see. We have another person coming on Tuesday for an estimate, just in case our reserved company doesn’t pull through.

Friday didn’t really go as planned. Usually I would spend time at my parents’ house cleaning out their basement, but that didn’t happen. J-16 got some yardwork done, and I sat around and tried to rearrange my calendar to fit in regular park visits for the kids and exercise for me. I’m rather obsessive about my calendar and my to-do list, because I have so much going on that I get overwhelmed sometimes. Spending time rearranging my calendar helps me relax.

Sometime this week I told the kids “Maybe I’ll have the scrapbook pictures ready for next week.” I’m nowhere close. Why did I say that? So I’m spending my aloneish time with Aaron to sort through pictures. I figure if I’m ready by Friday, that’s still “next week.”

So here are my favorites from 2017:

Aaron got his college degree in 2017 and is really proud of it. So this is my first favorite.

This is my favorite of M because it’s the only one from the entire year where he is fully clothed AND looking at the camera.

And this is my favorite of D, because of my shocked reaction when I suddenly came across a picture of myself.

And here’s evidence that J used to hang out with me socially.

Favorite pictures from 2018:

And, finally, favorites from 2019 (I decided I’ll look through 2020 next year when we’re updating the kids’ scrapbooks. That, and I’m getting exhausted of looking through pictures.)

Update June 12, 2020

Another great week out here! I got a bunch of things posted on craigslist and Facebook Marketplace in my attempts to downsize the two houses. This is so much better than trying to gather everything together for a garage sale. I can just put it up for sale when I come across it, wait for a month to see if anyone bites, then take it to Goodwill if no one is interested.

Saturday was a great day. Myra was missing all day, but just as I started to get truly worried and made a Facebook post in local areas, she showed up. Just strolling around the house casually as if she weren’t missing all day. She doesn’t look concerned about the worry she caused us at all.

J-16 and Aaron got lots of work done on the rocks at the side of the house, and dad babysat IL-18mo while I cleaned the house – which had been in chaos because of the headache I had all of last week. I pulled a muscle, but mostly better now. At the end of the day, Aaron and I finished up Season 9 of Supernatural, and started Season 10.

Sunday we played D&D with my friend Liz and the rest of the family. It’s been months since we were able to play because of the coronavirus, so I’d forgotten where we were and what we were doing, but the Dungeon Master (Aaron) was able to remind us. M-8 mostly slept through the game, only awakening to take a turn. Afterwards, Liz and I had some time to catch up. That was wonderful. At the end of the day, I finished going through my MIL’s pictures from 2014 for D-10 and M-8’s mom’s surprise scrapbook. Only 6 more years to go! (So more than half of M-8’s life). Favorite pictures from 2014:

I love that picture of D because you can tell her personality hasn’t changed a bit. Also, she still has that flower that used to be on top of the headband.

Monday was productive. I spent all my spare time clearing out my parents’ basement.  This project is a lot of work. But in the process I found some gems. One was this “diploma” my grandmother got at her 50th high school reunion.

The other was this picture of J with his father’s daughter, which I purchased as a Father’s Day gift for his dad back when he was still in a relationship with my sister.

Tuesday, I took IL-18mo to his well child visit. Found out I’ve been giving him too much milk, but otherwise he’s great. We also received M-8’s celiac disease results. He’s negative, thank God. The doctor suggested that we stop ALL commentary (including nonverbal cues) about food for 4-6 weeks and write down all the different types of food he eats when he serves himself. There was great debate with Aaron whether we should do that using our current rule structure (which is based around his eating habits) or to change the rules for 4-6 weeks and draw unneeded attention to the issue. Changing rules for 4-6 weeks would also be confusing to the kids. We decided to go with our normal rule structure.

Wednesday and Thursday were our days with D-10 and M-8, respectively (as the other child spends the night with their mom). On Thursday, we went to Buffalo Wild Wings with M-8, as we’d gone to El Loro with D-10 the week before.

Friday is relaxed. I canceled all my plans because I have a cough. I was supposed to hang out at my dad’s place, but since it’s impossible to know whether I’ve contracted something deadly, or just have an innocent (mild) cough. But I got a good nap in today. 🙂 I did spend a bit of time trying to figure out D-10’s girl scout issues. She hasn’t met with her group for quite a while because of coronavirus, and as far as I know, she never worked on merit badges. She’s really interested in earning them. I started looking into it originally because she wants to earn the Bronze Award, which is a good step towards winning the Gold Award. She has decided she wants to work on the “It’s Your Story, Tell It” journey, where she will learn to increase self confidence. Then she will start a self-help vlog with her girl scouting friends. Only, her troop isn’t interested in the Bronze Award at all! So I worked out with my cousin in California that her daughter (O-10) and D-10 will work together on the project. They’re also going to start working on merit badges together. This will be really fun for them!

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Update June 6, 2020

Hi all! Another great week here.

I managed to take a day off on Friday because I was so burnt out from last week that I needed time to recover. It was glorious. At the end of the day, we had M-8 open his presents early. The purpose was really to get IL-17mo’s half-birthday present out because he was being a fussy-butt. M-8 loved his presents. He got water guns from aunt Eleanor, a really nice slip and slide from his grandmother, Kids against Maturity from me, two Xbox games from Aaron, and a set of graphic novels about the Olympians from my dad. D-10 got Ticket to Ride, and IL-17mo got a foam mat with letters and numbers.

Saturday was M’s 8th birthday. We had a blast. I went to HyVee and picked up a monster cake for him, which turned out wonderfully, and took dad to Target, realized they were all boarded up because of the riots, then took him to Cub. You should have seen the lines! I guess all the Target shoppers were at Cub. Meanwhile, the kids played M-8’s new games on the xbox. We had McDonald’s for lunch, dyed the kids’ hair (D’s is now fuchsia and M’s is yellow if you squint at it in the sunlight), and played in the pool. The evening was filled with a lot of TV.

Sunday is usually a family day, but since we spent all Saturday with the family, Aaron and I decided to get some stuff done. We made huge progress on digging rocks on the side of the house. Maybe 2 or 3 good days and we’ll be done with it!

On a side note, J-16 was walking to his grandparents house after 8 (which is curfew, because of the riots going on) because he’d tried and failed to get an uber. He was afraid because he was walking-while-black. I wanted to go out and rescue him, but I was far enough away that by the time I got there, he’d be almost home. So he stopped and asked a cop what to do. She gave him a ride home. Isn’t that wonderful?

Monday finished up with a drive-by Cub Scout graduation – M-8 is now a bear cub.

Tuesday we all went out to dinner at a local restaurant with a patio. It went great for about the first 5 minutes, when it started pouring rain. Dad and I called everyone weak, but they insisted we leave. We ate our food at home instead.

Wednesday was M-8’s night with his mom, so D-10, Aaron, and I went to El Loro and had a lovely talk. It’s nice to have a kid that actually talks to you! I wish we could get more conversation out of M-8, but maybe when he’s older. We finished the evening watching Season 1 of Once Upon a Time.

Thursday was D-10’s night with her mom, and we had McDonald’s with M-8, followed by Troll Hunters.

Friday was fantastic. We had a meeting with the school psychologist about D-10, who really does seem to have a learning disability (I’m guessing dysgraphia). In the past they’ve ignored our concerns, but they have finally agreed to test her! It’ll start next year. We’re still trying to figure out if we want to get a medical diagnosis of dysgraphia, or just leave it as “learning disability, nonspecific” which is what the school would decide upon. We’d have to pay out of pocket for a medical diagnosis. I’m going to call Minnesota’s support group for people who are looking into special education, and will ask them what they think the benefits of a medical diagnosis is.

D-10 also agreed to start CBT again. We will reward her by giving her a treat of her choice after every successful meeting, and a sleepover or a mani-pedi after every 4 successful meetings. M-8, too, will start therapy again – this time to explore how our relationship with him might be impacting his poor appetite and pickiness with food. So it’s back to the grind for both of them.

M-8’s pediatrician suggested we test him for celiac disease since he is having some medical symptoms that fit, along with an increased pickiness of eating. We got the test done on Wednesday, and we still haven’t gotten the information back (as far as I know). If we have, the doctor hasn’t bothered pointing it out. Aaron thinks he’ll get himself checked for celiac disease, too, if M-8 comes up positive, since it turns out he has a lot of the symptoms, too. God forbid we have to go gluten-free in my household! Ugh! Hopefully it all turns up nothing.

Mom’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, but she has not had any fainting/seizure spells this week. So that’s nice. She is starting to hallucinate a little bit, so I’m going to have to talk to her neurologist about that. We have an appointment next week. Her psychiatrist hasn’t gotten back to me – he’s quite the character.

Dad is doing ok. He’s increasingly frustrated at the coronavirus followed by the riots, and keeps telling me the “corny-bug” is nothing worth caring about and that the riots are nothing compared to the Watts riots, which he watched in person from “across the street.”

Currently Aaron is outside with J-16 working on the rocks, while I’m trying to do housework. I say “trying” because I pulled a muscle trying to carry something downstairs while walking backwards. Yes, it doesn’t seem like a bright idea. Hindsight is 20/20. I did manage to fill the bathtub with water plus a gallon of bleach with hopes of it turning a little less fuchsia (from last week’s hair job).

Myra, my eldest, cuddliest, and only cat-that-is-fine-with-IL-17mo is missing. I figure she’ll either show up later today, or we’ll start smelling her in a few days. Hopefully the former. She’s terrified of outdoors, so she would never have gone out there. Here’s a not-so-recent photo of her.

Update May 29, 2020

Hi all! Great week here!

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

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

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

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

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

Favorite picture of M from 2012:

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

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

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

Favorite picture of D from 2013:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update May 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron finished reading the first Fablehaven book to us:

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

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