Update March 26, 2020

Hi all! Sorry about the long absence! I guess everyone else is as busy and stressed out as I am! Part of my problem is also that I usually post blog entries from my phone, but I can’t seem to get the comments to work from my phone, so I need to find a time when the baby isn’t around to pull on the plug of my computer.

Oh, so much has happened since the last time I wrote. Not even sure where to begin, but I’ll try a journal in pictures.

Well, obviously this happened. That’s the toilet paper aisle. But I’m sure you’ve all seen the same thing yourselves, so that’s not news. Just rest assured that no one in our family has yet caught COVID 19. Mayor Walz suggests that 40-80% of Minnesotans are expected to get it in the end, which makes me worry for my elderly parents – especially since dad eschews the idea of social distancing. There is a shelter-in-place order for two weeks starting this Friday. The kids are with their mom until then, because they won’t be able to see her while we’re stuck at home. I started “homeschooling” them on Monday, and they really seem to enjoy it. So far, I’ve had some math work on the computer, watched a documentary in the morning had them read Who Was books and their new virtual book club book Tuesdays at the Castle. I am going to move D to reading the children’s version of I am Malala once I get them back from their mom. I am a little wary of telling her to read books about atrocities, but it’s a good learning experience. I’ll probably keep M up with the Who Was books with a dash of I Survived books (which are fiction, but still educational).

Dad had cataract surgery JUST before the surgery clinic shut down for coronavirus. So he can now see out of his right eye, but not his left. I picked up my aunt (above with her husband) to watch my mom and IL while I was at the surgery clinic waiting for dad. But then they sent me home because of new policies of not letting anyone into the clinic except for patients. So I got to watch my mom and baby after all.

I shaved my head to raise money for kids with cancer. (Saint Baldrick’s Foundation.) I was hoping to do it at an event where there would be lots of people and alcohol involved, but of course that didn’t happen. So I did it quietly at my mom’s parlor as she was getting a haircut herself. Hopefully it doesn’t all grow in grey!

Sunday we had a family day. We played Uno (M’s choice), watched an episode of Bones (D’s choice – we have since then changed our family show to Psych), played Clue (my choice) and Pandemic (Aaron’s choice). It was a good day.

Yesterday, D had her virtual book club with her friends from school. They (and I) read Bridge to Terabithia. Such a sad book. I was balling for the last hour of the audiobook. But she enjoyed talking with her friends, which was great. I also set up a virtual bookclub with my cousin’s kids that both M and D can be part of. They (and I) are reading Tuesdays at the Castle. I’m also reading Wolf Hall, and Five Midnights (which I’ve been reading for a long time – reading slump, you know).

Update March 7, 2020

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for the absence, things got a bit crazy out here! First of all, let me mention the most important thing: I will be shaving my head on March 18 for St Baldrick’s Foundation. I’m raising money to help kids with cancer. You can donate here: https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mypage/1068645/2020

I think it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. Drama within my family due to my 16 year old nephew, J, running away from home has distracted me from posting. He is safe at home now – just where he doesn’t want to be.

My mom’s health has been declining rather rapidly in the last couple of weeks, as well. She has fallen 4 times (that I know of) since a week ago Friday. Her seizures are increasing in frequency. My dad and I started doing research into memory care units. We don’t expect to move her soon, but we want to be ready when we do.

M is doing well. I went with his class on a field trip to the Science Museum. I only lost my charges once, so I call it a successful Chaperone.

D had her third choir concert of the year. It was REALLY good. And she only looked like she was going to faint once. And she rallied well. Up there is a picture of her sitting on an ice throne in Downtown St Paul after her dress rehearsal. We also got some pictures with Charlie Brown Statues.

She had her Pinewood Derby race on Friday, but I won’t find out how it went till Sunday, when she’s back from her mom’s.

IL has an ear infection today. That’s what he looked like last night. Hopefully he’ll be better tomorrow!

Alas, reading has fallen to the wayside…but a new week full of new opportunities approaches.

Update February 6, 2020

Hi all! This was mostly a good week. The step-kids were with their mom over the weekend, so Aaron, IL, my friend Liz, and I had a lovely Saturday watching Doctor Who. A while back, we had to start all over again for Aaron’s sake, so we’re ALMOST to the 11th Doctor. Just two more episodes. Aaron and I also went to Buca that day, and got a ginormous brownie Sunday for his upcoming birthday (it’s not till the 19th, but we got a coupon from Buca and decided to go). Unfortunately, IL was screaming by the time the ice-cream came, so Aaron had to try to finish it on his own while I took IL out to the car.

Sunday, mom had a 12-minute seizure in church. We’re supposed to call an ambulance at 5 minutes, so of course she was hauled off by paramedics. We spent the next 4.5 hours in the ER, to discover nothing much interesting. I think it’s just the natural progression of her Alzheimer’s.

Yesterday, I had a long talk with the Creative Director of the theater camp we were planning on sending D to. The director suggested that if D has shut-downs due to corrections, that maybe this year isn’t the best time to start theater camp. She suggesting bringing D in for observation to see how other kids get corrections, and that it’s ok. Then sign her up next summer. When I told D that, she began to shut down. So I told her I’d be willing to work with her, if she’d be willing to work with me, and we had a real heart-to-heart about her triggers. I haven’t seen her this motivated to work on her anxiety since I met her 2 years ago! She must REALLY want to go to camp. So, I told her I would go ahead and put in the money to reserve her seat, and D would have to prove to me that she was willing to work on her anxiety over the rest of the school year.

Today is D’s (I think) last orthodontist appointment. Yay! Soon M’s orthodontist appointments will start though. Boo! This is M’s first day of Code Ninjas. He’s REALLY excited to learn to code. Has anyone else put their kids into Code Ninjas? Experiences?

This morning I found a mud race just for women called the Mudgirl. The proceeds benefit breast cancer research. It is apparently appropriate for all ages between 7 and 78. I’m not sure how they picked those ages. I’m thinking of taking D in it – if she’s willing to be covered in mud. I’ve always wanted to do a mud run!

This coming weekend should be fun. Aaron, IL, D, M, and I are going to Cub Scout Polar Camp. We’ll be spending the nights in cabins, of course. I’ll let you know how it went next week.

Again, no progress reading. 😦

Update January 30, 2019

Wow, what a week! I took D to her first mindfulness yoga class, and she hated it. πŸ€£πŸ˜‚ Guess we won’t be doing that again. I thought maybe the mindfulness would help center her when she’s having an anxious moment. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

M drew a naughty, anatomically detailed picture on the fabric of a dining room chair, and I was torn between laughing and scolding him. We sent him to bed a half hour early (without night-night story), and luckily managed to get the markings off the chair. (It was in pencil.) He’s an excellent artist. Quite the attention to detail!

IL is walking around like a pro, climbing up on things, and has a slowly developing vocabulary.

Dad got his new hearing aid, and he is amazed at all the high pitched noises suddenly attacking his senses. Hopefully he’ll get used to it.

Mom is well, so are Aaron and I.

I FINALLY made a decision on the kids’ summer activities. D likes to stay busy, so (assuming she agrees to this) we will be sending her to 5 week theater day camp, 2 weeks of band session (since many soon-to-be 5th graders are picking up instruments for first time, they have a two week session in the summer to learn – she’s chosen the flute), and 1 week of Girl Scout resident camp. M will be potentially going to a week-long day camp at Code Ninjas. I have signed him up for a one day camp there in February to make sure he likes it first. He’s as excited about learning to code games as D is for all of her activities, which is rare for him. Maybe we’ve finally found an activity besides swim lessons that he’ll stick to? He’s only 7, though, so he has plenty of time to find interests.

My reading has been abysmal lately – nothing to mention there. And my weight loss has been excellent this week, despite not tracking my food. I’ve lost 9 pounds in the three weeks since I changed meds. I thought the med change would make a difference, but after more than a year of counting calories, I am shocked that I’m losing despite not making major changes in my habits. Yes, I joined Weight Watchers, but I’m still eating the same number of calories and exercising the same amount. I know the loss will plateau eventually and become hard work, but for now, I’m going to enjoy.

Update Jan 24, 2020

Hi All! Another good week here. On Friday night Aaron and I had a “date night” during which we relaxed and watched iZombie. Saturday, I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting, only to discover it was canceled due to weather. That night Aaron and I watched Supernatural. Sunday, Malcolm had his first swim lesson at level 2. Yay!

My dad got Deirdre a mani pedi on Monday, after which she went to choir rehearsal. It was a hard rehearsal for her, and the whole week seems to have been upsetting, but we don’t know why. Maybe it’s the beginning of pubescent years. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ She did have her first book club, discussing The One and Only Ivan, on Tuesday. It went splendidly. The kids had a good time discussing the book, and then a good time playing afterwards.

Wednesday, I was supposed to have my first book club, but it was canceled due to weather. As you can see from my data table, I ate a lot for dinner. Oops. Those $5 margaritas were good.

Overall, though, I did a good job this week, and hope to do better next week.

Still reading the same old books – I am moving slowly on that goal right now.

Update January 17, 2020

(He’s so happy because his beet is now on the floor instead of his tray.)

This was a good week. On Saturday, I proved to D that eating ice cream straight out of the carton tastes better than in a bowl. The whole family, plus my friend Liz, ate Ben and Jerry’s while watching Sara Jane Adventures and Star Trek. We also played D&D. M (our 7 year old Wizard) decided to start using his short sword instead of his spells (which is a poor choice usually), but he rolled a 20 and lopped off the head of a goblin. We’ll never convince him to use a spell again.

Sunday, we did a great job of cleaning the house: the Christmas Tree is down, the kids’ rooms are clean, and I did a number on our own bedroom – clearing out even the pile of stuff on Aaron’s dresser which had been accumulating since 2017.

Monday, we had an appointment with mom’s neurologist, where we discussed her seizure on Christmas. We also did a memory test, which turned out better than the one from last year. Yay!

Also, D came home on Monday all excited to join band next year. We had to give her the choice between joining band or swim team. After much deliberation, I finally explained to her what a swim meet would be like (go to a pool that she is likely unfamiliar with and try to swim faster than other people). She decided that band was what she wanted to do. But she wants to stay in swim lessons so that she can become a life guard someday. πŸ™‚

Tuesday, I burnt some pepperoni on the bottom of the stove while preheating for dinner. The house filled with smoke, but the fire alarms didn’t go off. We decided to open a window and go to Olive Garden.

Wednesday, I decided to join Weight Watchers, as I’ve been counting calories for months now with no noteworthy change in weight. Figured I’d compare the WW point system to calorie counting. In theory, Weight Watchers lets you eat all the fruits and veggies you want as “zero point” foods, but it counts for a lot of points if you eat something fatty or sugary. I get 30 points…which apparently is the most points I can possibly get. Not sure why they’re so generous, but I’m thankful. lol. I will compare points to caloric intake on a daily basis to make sure I’m not dropping below 1,500 calories (since that was the minimum my nutritionist suggested). Here’s this week’s partial data:

Wednesday is totally messed up WW point-wise, since I had eaten most of my points before I joined. I think it’s notable that I ate more calories on Thursday (16th) than on Wednesday, but stayed within point range. This will definitely be a different experience!

Thursday I went on a mall walk with my dad at the Mall of America.

He bought IL a really soft Snuffy. He bought D and M a gigantic stuffed toy each:



Season 0 Sara Jane Adventures – Complete

The Good Place – Progress

Star Trek: The Original Series – Progress


Becoming Ms. Burton, by Susan Burton

In Becoming Ms. Burton, Ms. Burton describes her difficulties of being young in a poor black neighborhood. There was the ever-constant worry of someone being shot or addicted to drugs. Of children being killed by police (as hers was). Of the trials of being addicted to drugs and being in and out of prison. Then she had a turn-around. She went to rehab and AA, and got a wonderful sponsor. She learned how to live sober – away from the family and neighborhood where she had always lived. She then realized how hard it is to become a functional member of society while an ex-felon. It’s hard to find a home, a job, to be treated like a human being. So she started a home for people just coming out of prison. Despite her lack of education on the topic of business, her home thrived and she helped many people to reintegrate into society. It’s a sad story as well as an uplifting one. I really loved hearing about her story, and think everyone should read books like this to help them understand that felons aren’t inherently evil – people just view them that way.


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Update Jan 10, 2020

Hi all! This was a good week. I got two books read:


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda for my book club and BFG for M’s book club. I’ve now read all of January’s book club books!

I’m currently reading:

Currently Reading

Aaron and I hung out with my friend Liz on Saturday, and we were able to get through episode 2 of Earth Break, which is an internet-ordered escape-room-like scenario. Episode 2 was a bit more difficult than the first, especially since I think we may have been missing a piece??? (We decided we must be after reading the hint…That was a bit disappointing.)Β Sunday, the family played Pandemic and Clue, and watched some Star Trek (Original Series, Season 1).

Tuesday was M’s last occupational therapy. The therapist came out and said that his poor eating choices are psychological, rather than sensory. She said eating habits are a common way to control his environment when he feels things are out of control, and that it has now simply formed into a solid bad habit. 😦 We are going to back off of trying to get him to eat more variety, and focus on getting him to eat enough calories, which is hard enough. So, instead of saying he can only eat at specific given times (as the feeding psychologist suggested last year) we will let him eat whenever he pleases (within reason), but it has to be something healthier than goldfish or granola bars or Froot Loops.

Thursday, M got 3 cavities filled, and I get the impression he thinks it was rather fun. Which is frustrating, because we don’t have enough money to go filling 3 cavities every 6 months. It sounds awful, but Aaron and I were hoping he would have a less-than-enjoyable experience with the fillings and it would make him see reason in respect to dental care. Oh well. We’ll just continue to have to watch him brush his teeth twice a day to make sure he actually does it.

D is doing well. It is cookie season, and she’s thrilled to get out there and sell them. She’s still enjoying choir practice, though it’s quite exhausting for her. She will be happy to move on to other activities at the end of the season, I think.

I could have done a better job of exercising and dieting this week, but I didn’t gain any weight, which is nice.

Have a nice week!

Update January 3, 2020

Well, the holidays are over and it’s time to start afresh! I’ve already finished one book! It was Becoming Ms. Burton, about a woman who, after recovering from addiction and the stigma of being a felon, started a home for women returning to society after prison. It was quite good.

I’m currently listening to Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda. I cheated and watched the movie before finishing the book, because I thought it would be good for the kids to watch a story about how difficult it is to be gay in high school. They had a lot of questions, partly because it was a PG-13 movie (“what’s sex again?”), and partly because of the topic. I was proud of M, who usually covers his eyes at kissing scenes, cheered at the romantic moment. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler.)

I’m reading Five Midnights, by Ann Davila Cardinal, and Unspeakable Mind, Shaili Jain.

D & M both surprised their mom with new hair colors – pink for D and red for M. (That’s apparently D’s “cute” face and not her “annoyed” face. You can see how I was confused.)

I got over my cold, but then came down with a sinus infection. It’s not a bad one, so it’s all cool. Oh, and my hip has stopped hurting, so I can start training for a sprint triathlon in my efforts to lose weight. I’m typing on my phone, so I can’t put my data table up, but I lost a few pounds over the past few weeks. Hopefully I can keep it off.

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander

2019 Book 47: The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

In The New Jim Crow, Alexander wrote a study of mass incarceration in the US, including a history of its forerunners slavery and Jim Crow laws. She makes the point that the war on drugs is inherently racist in that in an age of colorblindness people claim they have to racial biases, but they also associate crime with poor black people despite the fact that drug crime is just as likely to be a white person crime (even a middle class white person crime) just as much as a black person crime. Black and brown people are disproportionately incarcerated. This leads to the percentage of black people who are felons his huge. Felons have great difficulty finding a job or home, are “hated” freely by white people across political lines, and are often unable to vote – just like old times when open prejudice was rampant. Because of the high incarceration rate, black and brown mothers are often single, often have to use state and federal help to survive, and are torn between embracing their men and boys as they are, and trying to protect them from mistakes. But there’s one huge difference: in the age of colorblindness, people don’t consider this racism. She suggests that racism won’t be obliterated until colorblindness no longer exists. We should embrace all races with equality.

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