cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

It feels like this week has been full of socializing, although that's partly because any week where I see friends more than once feels crazy-busy!

It also feels like this week has been horrible for productivity, and that is true for a couple of reasons. Primary among them is that I have been a bit stuck in the two novels that I'm writing in parallel. Not stuck as in I-don't-know-what-to-do-next, but stuck as in I-need-to-plot-the-next-bit (side project Codename Dragon Succubus) and I-need-to-do-lots-of-research-first-and-I-don't-wanna (main project Real Name Scorpion Dance). And I've been feeling somewhat stressed and responding to it in my usual unhelpful avoidance way. Grr.

Speaking of which, notice how I'm writing a journal entry now instead of writing? Sure, my goal is to write a journal entry every week and it's been over a month since my last one, but that doesn't mean it isn't avoidance. It just means I am super-well-supplied with other things to do. Like sort through the thousand-plus emails in my inbox, which is next on my avoidance plan for the day. Oops, sorry, this is my Mother's Day Away. Make that my "Relaxation Plan." There, that sounds better.

I've started using my gym membership to the YMCA, which is going pretty well. During the week, when Cassius is in preschool, timing doesn't work out so well for me being able to go and take a full class and use whatever's left of the 2 hours of free babysitting to write, so I usually just hit the machines for a while, shower, and then edit for a half-hour before I have to pick up the kids and get on a bus to take Cassius to preschool (his preschool is in the afternoon). I do like the working out part, though, even if I wish I could make my time usage there more efficient to take advantage.

Also, annoyingly, even though we won a month of "Whole Family" membership, that doesn't mean I can get the member rate for Cassius' swim lessons. You have to register about a month in advance for that, and you have to have the child be a full member both IN ADVANCE when you register, and AT the time of the lessons. Grr. Ripoff. Still getting him lessons, though. Just not sure if family membership is going to be worth anything more than my individual membership, because it doesn't really get us anything extra.

Our poor girl kitty is slowly improving. We found out a couple of months ago that she had kidney failure, which led to near-lethal high blood pressure, which led to lethargy, refusal to eat, and one of her eyes having blood vessels rupture inside of it. She already had cataracts and so was mostly blind, but with that, she became completely blind on that side. I don't know if her sight will come back (even slightly) once the blood has all left the eye. It was totally black, filled with blood. Now I can see the rim of her iris again and there's a pale pink cloud in the center of her eye where the blood is slowly being reabsorbed. Her blood pressure is under control with 2x daily medication. And apparently cats can live with kidney failure for several years, although it's best if they eat a special diet for animals with kidney failure, and she's picky.

Lots of fun with socializing lately.

A pack of Phil's female relatives came up from Wisconsin to visit. We drove through downtown looking at all the lights that turned purple in memory of Prince. We went bra shopping at the Mall of America (so much not fun, but necessary). We ate at IKEA and they went shopping while I lounged on a couch and fiddled with edits. We went to Surly Brewery, where they were sad that they could not purchase growlers and I learned why they have so many glasses from drinking establishments they've visited on "girls weekends." Then we went to Betty Danger's Country Club (by the owner of Psycho Suzi's), enjoyed the ferris wheel tremendously, ate the delicious foods, and utterly failed in our attempt to visit her other two establishments, partly because the designated driver doesn't parallel park ... and this is the city.

Dave had a biking pub crawl birthday party where he asked the guests to be made up as "subtle" clowns. I was able to make it to the Eastlake portion of the night. Our whole family went to the Sabathani Prince block party earlier in the afternoon, where we mostly watched the kids go down bouncy house slides and bounce around in the bouncy maze. Total madhouse. Cassius also asked for a snowplow balloon animal, which was a real challenge for the balloon clown. I asked for a snake with pop eyes, which I gave to the birthday boy later. Also managed to get face paint done for the clown birthday party at the prince block party. Multitasking!

The rest of the week(ish) in brief:

May in Minneapolis means the May Day Parade. Thanks to Drew's friend Anna for letting us join the house-and-lawn party that she throws during the parade. I took many pictures.

Cassius brought home baby chicks from preschool, and we successfully kept the cats from eating them during their overnight visit. Cassius is good and gentle with chicks. Theia not so much.

Cassius lost Theia and I in the library, freaked out, and ran out of the building, only to be caught a block later. So scary. Spouse yelled at me a lot. Full story from Fb: We were at the library in Uptown. I took Theia into the bathroom to change her, and when I came back out, Cassius was GONE. Not in the kids' play area, not among the book shelves, not in the sitting area. Turns out, he didn't hear me tell him where we were going, freaked out when he didn't see us, and RAN OUT OF THE LIBRARY (after us, he thought). Thank God for the concerned stranger who came back to find me, the ones who pointed which direction he'd gone, and the ones who stopped him and helped. He made it about a block away, in the direction of his preschool (also in Uptown). Most of us have that "I lost my parents" (in the grocery store, etc.) memory. I think this is going to be the one that sticks for him.

CenterPoint repair guy actually had the part required to make our dishwasher mostly functional again. Amazing.

Thursday, I made it to Electra's graduating senior art reception, admired the art (hers was sealife-themed), and took lots of pictures that I now need to edit and watermark. Then we went to the Riverview Cafe and chatted over yummy brownies.

Friday, I went to my old friend Jason's birthday party, tasted kava for the first time, and saw it prepared ... burlesque-style. More pictures were taken. The stuff looks like off-colored, watery milk, smells like dirt with an acrid undertone, and tastes like nothing much although the aftertaste is pretty awful. The first effect is a tingling tongue. The effect it had on me seemed to be a sharpening and clarity of sight and sensation. No idea if that's how most people feel, as I had to leave then. Silly buses and their schedules.

Saturday, I was peopled out. Morning, went to the gym. Took a weightlifting/body pump group class. Afternoon, went to coffee shop, plotted/adjusted the plot for the rest of the side project (Dragon Succubus), and wrote some. Spent the night fighting with trying to figure out watermarks and custom brushes and why it wasn't working damn it. Figured it out, eventually, but still need to manage batch watermarks for things I don't edit before uploading (like May Day photos).

Today is Mother's Day. I slept in a lot. Made myself French toast. Left to go to a coffee shop until dinner, which is where I currently am. Cassius being in two preschool classes meant I got two Mother's Day presents from him! I got a shiny bead-and-button bracelet that has a whole lot of gold buttons and some red and green flower beads, and a bar of soap that he felted with sheep's wool during their field trip to Gale Woods (which he loved--he says he likes spinach now).

Oh, and also the car died in the middle of the highway and Phil had to get it fixed. So that happened.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Things that go together: stomach flu and bathrooms. Things that don't work so well: stomach flu and non-functional bathrooms. This Tuesday I got sick with the horrible stomach flu that the kids had last week. It was ... horrible. I started feeling sick while I was getting Cassius to his Uptown preschool for a special morning field trip. The plan was to stay in Uptown so I could pick him up after his field trip ended, get him lunch, and then bring him back an hour and a half later for his regular preschool to start. We stuck to the plan, but by the end I was entirely miserable and also grateful for the cleanliness of the public library bathroom and the bathroom at Potbelly. :(

I started feeling actually health several days later, on Friday. In the mean time, Phil stayed home to help when he could and went to work when he couldn't, the kids watched way too many episodes, and the plumber and contractor came and went.

Our bathroom still isn't fixed, but by Friday our shower at least had walls again, even if it has no fixtures. On Monday they'll come and put those in. However, we could use our bathtub again this weekend, thank goodness, at least for bucket baths. You know it's bad when you're really grateful for a bucket bath.

I'm also grateful for good friends who live nearby and let me use their shower! So grateful. Thursday night, Electra let our whole family go over to her house and I got to wash my hair (and the rest of me, but the hair was the worst because I really can't do anything about that in a sink) and bathe the children and she fed Phil (and Theia) spaghetti, which I know he was really grateful for because we went over around 8, right after he got home from work and before he had a chance to eat a proper dinner.

What else this week? Friday Theia and I went to the library storytime and she saw a little girl that she usually plays with at the coffee shop nearby. Friends! Saturday Phil started getting sick, but he seems to have the congestion-and-coughing version without any of the digestive problems. Theia has been accepted to preschool for three mornings a week beginning in September. I will be alone in the house. This is shocking. Cassius has Scottie Bear home from preschool, so he gets to take the bear everywhere and then we write a story in a notebook about what we did while Scottie Bear was here. I learned that Cassius likes my chili, as long as I put it in a chapati for him. We're trying to get Theia to start potty-training, but even having her sit on the potty for two minutes is a challenge. This has become more urgent lately since she's started taking off her own dirty diapers (including the poopy ones). Danger Danger.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Two big changes and one irritating mistake. Okay, the changes aren't THAT big. Practically speaking, they're quite small on a lifetime scale. But big on a weekly scale!

The biggest thing in my life lately has been my inability to shower or bathe at home. Our shower went from decrepit but sorta functional to entirely non-functional. It no longer has hot water, and using the shower is also bad because the walls aren't as waterproof as you would want shower walls to be. We figured this out when Phil looked up at the ceiling of the kitchen and saw that there was water damage. :(

My solution for this has been to take advantage of all the gym trials available that include childcare (and one that didn't, even though its website said it did). This way, I can take the kids, get a workout, write for a bit while the kids stay in childcare, and then wash my hair (the big problem with normal bucket-bath solutions) and the children. It's been fun. I don't have disposable income on a monthly basis, so I won't be able to permanently join a gym-with-childcare and do the short workout, longer writing game plan that some other writer parents and members of gyms-with-childcare have. Sadface. But I've learned that I like group classes and weight machines, and I really like being able to work out again.

Monday the plumber comes and starts the process of retiling the shower alcove, replacing the fixtures, and installing a new toilet while he's at it. I'm very happy about this. I'm just sad that we didn't have the budget to have them also tear up the wood floor and put in tile while we're at it. Alas. Wood floors look great and wear well in many rooms, but bathrooms aren't one of them.

Other things that happened this week(ish), briefly:
1. Tried writing with The Most Dangerous Writing App (change #2), liked it, and beat my weekly word quota for the first time in a long time;
2. Went to preschool auction, got one month's gym membership cheap(!), and collected lots of compliments on my candid portraits of the kids;
3. And, finally, messed up communicating with Cassius' school bus about me taking him to school instead (after gym time in Uptown), leading to confusion all around and a cranky school bus chaperon. Oops.
4. Wait, that's not the end after all! Last Sunday, the children became miserably sick, complete with 105 degree fevers (Cassius) and vomiting (Theia). That was no good. The combination of vomit and nonfunctional shower was particularly unfortunate. I forgot about that earlier, even though the kids are still coughing and congested. They're no longer feverish and they seem to be back to normal energy levels, though, so no more sick days watching videos for them!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Oof. Just checked the internets and learned there was a mass shooting (disgruntled employee version) in/near my Kansas hometown. The main shooting was in nearby Hesston, my mother's hometown, but it sounds like someone was shot in Newton, where my dad still lives.
I'm lousy at making phone calls and writing letters to people I care about, because I'm always busy and I think there will be more time later. That ain't always the case. Talk to your loved ones, people.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Since we didn't get this out by Christmas ... or New Years ... I suppose this qualifies as a Valentine's Day Letter? Happy Valentine's Day! Hug the ones you love.




Unlike the unusually warm first part of winter, our year has been blessedly ordinary, with no calamities or commotions (knock on wood). Cassius began preschool this year. Theia started talking up a storm and developing one heck of a personality. Phil's work went crazy. All of these changes are the kind that occur as time goes on. We even managed to find a little time to have our first real family vacation (not work-related, not visiting extended family) in November.

For the last few months, Phil has been working more than ever, as his company starts using a new machine to make new products. They've had all the problems and late hours that one would expect from any start-up project. Phil's been working 14- to 16-hour days on a regular basis, which means that I've been doing a lot of single-parenting. Originally, this was supposed to be done by end of the year, but since things haven't been going well, it looks like it will continue on into the new year. Oh, goodie.

Cassius has started preschool. He absolutely loves it, although he is more interested in the toys than in the other kids. We've also learned that he has a fine motor skills delay that makes drawing and writing more difficult for him, and a social/emotional development delay. He'll be getting assistance with that beginning this year.

Although Abra's had the usual two-small-children difficulties with finding time to work on her own projects, she's sold a few short stories this year and there are other developments on the horizon. Most recently, "In Their Image" is up as a podcast AND as text over at Escape Pod! Warning: contains religious philosophy. And fluffy pink murderbear aliens!

Overall, next year looks like it will be a good one, as various work projects come to fruition, the kids grow more independent, and more adventures are planned.

Phil & Abra

& Cassius & Theia

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
The last two weeks have been kind of rough for me, because Phil hasn't been able to provide much parenting assistance. First he was gone on business for a week, and then he got a rather horrible case of The Sick that has pretty much knocked out his ability to contribute at home. Despite this, it's been an interesting couple of weeks with lots of new experiences.

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
This is a catch-up entry. Theia (and Cassius) have kept me so busy that I haven't posted and recorded all the moments that a dutiful and loving parent is supposed to! ::ahem::

Well, in hindsight and with the doctor's note here, I can tell you that at 15 months, Theia was 33.31" tall and weighed 22 lbs. This put her at the 98.8th percentile for height, and the 32.96% for weight. That puts her in the 2.18th % for weight-for-length. I blame Phil for these genetics. I don't particularly want babies with supermodel height-weight ratios ... I wish they weighed more! At least she eats, unlike her brother. Her predicted height is 5'10". We shall see. It would be weird to be taller than my children!

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)


I went to the AWP (Association of Writers and Writers Programs) conference and all I got was a tote bag, a bunch of useful writing knowledge, a whole bunch of candy, and that weird lobster sperm metaphor! This post is about my overall conference experience; my panel notes can be found here: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/1139367.html.

Let me explain. The AWP is a BHD (Big Hairy Deal) literary conference that happened to be happening in Minneapolis this year, and they happened to have a special $40 day pass deal for Saturday. So I went. Okay, there was a lot more waffling because, "But it's literary fiction, not genre! And I won't know hardly anybody, or how to talk to anybody! And I'm not prepared!" Phil listened for a bit, and then he must have decided that this was one of those "insecurities are preventing wife from doing useful thing" moments. Pressure was applied. So I went!

First, for my genre-writing peeps, fear not! Although AWP is a conference primarily for literary fiction writers and academics, genre writers were not shunned. The only times that science fiction / fantasy / horror writing was mentioned in my hearing, it was in a positive light. Short stories have horror DNA in their bones, time and structure is often explored well in SF, etc. The most popular panel I saw (and sadly was not able to attend because even the standing room was taken) was about fairy tales. When I mentioned to a couple of other people that I was a genre writer, I got a good reaction. YMMV, but it went well for me.

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Fifteen minutes to describe what's been going on in my life since my last journal entry of 11/9/2014, more than three months ago.


Is too much. I will sum up.


Phil had his first work trip to California of the year, so I had a week of single-parenting it. Mostly everything went okay. On the last day of his trip, I even managed to wrangle two small children onto the bus to the Midtown Global Market DMV to renew my instructional driver's permit! It was an epic trip. First the DMV (and I highly, highly recommend this location--5 PM on a Friday afternoon and the wait was only about 10 minutes!). Then we watched adorable kids doing traditional Chinese dancing, including the Lion Dance, to celebrate the Chinese New Year in MGM's main area. Cassius got to "feed the lion" by holding out a red envelope with a dollar in it. He liked this idea a lot. Holy Land for a dinner that was only a moderate success, since I ordered poorly and spent too much for food that the kids didn't eat (the leftovers were delicious, though, and Holy Land's fries have officially replaced those of McDonald's in my affections, something I thought would never happen). After a half-hour in the extremely popular play area, I hauled the kids out under protest. We swung by Chicago-Lake Liquor (since I had a valid ID again) and back to the bus stop, where there were a variety of future Jerry Springer contestants waiting for the bus. Fortunately it was all talk and I didn't have to explain anything to Phil about why our offspring were traumatized.


I finished the-story-that-took-forever-to-finish! I got through all the finicky changes and details and whatnot for A Circus of Brass and Bone. So pleased that I got that wrapped. There are still three tiny typos that I have to wait for a long enough sales lull to fix. I'm not sure if it'll pick up any momentum beyond the initial friends-and-family sales, but I don't have a marketing budget to throw at it, so I'll just have to wait and see. I'm taking one day every week to work on PR stuff. It is like pulling teeth to get reviews, though, even (especially!) customer reviews on Amazon etc. Gah. The marketing hat is uncomfortable on my head, but I'm doing my due diligence. I owe it to the story. I feel like there are a lot of people who would get something good out of the story, but who will never even know it exists. Sadface.


Um. My journaling time is up, but other stuff happened too! Working on getting Cassius into preschool, working on getting Cassius potty-trained (related), readjusting to having any free time, horrified by the state of my house, intimidated by the state of my short story editing backlog, looking forward to the next project but wanting a clearer deck before I start it but also wanting to get to it before I lose my enthusiasm, and a whole bunch of developmental advances by Theia, who is now getting the hang of walking and talking and acting almost like a toddler instead of a baby! Sniff.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Various things have me thinking about how friendships attenuate and renew. Time spent in proximity is so critical, although other forms of communication--letters, social media, phone calls--can keep the thread from breaking. Some relationships can lay fallow indefinitely but spring back up with only a little watering, with people like old school friends or family that lives far away. I'm pretty lousy at phone calls and letters, and very small children plus Phil's often-into-the-evening work schedule has made it difficult to socialize at times. I'm working on it, but it's definitely a work-in-progress, and there are so many other things on the to-do list!

Last weekend, we had a chance to see a friend who moved out of town a few years ago, back to celebrate !finally! selling his house. It was good to see him, but it was definitely in passing, and his spouse couldn't make it--miss you, Gen!

From there I went straight to a baby shower filled with awesome people, including those I know but don't see "as often as" and those who I'm pretty sure are awesome but whom I am unlikely to get to know much better, because, well, life. There were awesome squiddy things, though!

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Then we were sick, beginning with Cassius and moving on to me and Theia, and finding Phil just in time for him to infect others on Monday. So--not so much going out of the house to see others this weekend! With the respiratory infection that's making so many kids sick right now, I've also been keeping the kids home from church (One of those places that people just *go anyway* when their kid is sick!), storytime at the library (Drool on *all* the toys!), and Wee Wednesday at the Midtown Global Market (Um--people. Yes. There are people there.). So they've kind of been isolated, too.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

Daily life: When I can get Theia to sleep for a morning nap, first I put in a half-hour with a library exercise DVD, and then I take Cassius outside to play while she sleeps. Sometimes this is less than half an hour. Sometimes this is an hour and a half. Sometimes he wants back inside (like today). During this time, I try catching up on my emails and working on writing-related-but-not-actual-writing things. Today he stole my bike helmet and insisted on wearing it while he sat on his toy motorcycle and scooted it around the yard and pushed the buttons to make it honk and comment on the weather and turning directions. We've never discussed helmets. Yay, ambient safety knowledge?

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Other things: ran errands with 2 kids in tow on public transit; started a new writing schedule; finished the Circus of Brass and Bone rewrite portion; watched Theia cruise around everywhere; wrestled with church chores and not being a joiner and baby nap schedules; and went to Como Zoo en familie.

Help, I've fallen into a book series and I can't get out! Wait. I don't actually want to get out. I'm actually really enjoying Michelle West's House War series. There's a bit of awkwardness in the middle when she tells us readers that this series is built around another series--with different main characters--and that the main character in this series is a minor character in that series, but that series is where the events are happening during a gap in this series. Complicated. She does put a nice synopsis up on her website, though, and so I stuck with the House War series and ignored the other series. Worked for me. Fish out of water / building a new life under new circumstances stories are a huge, major weakness of mine, so I'm pretty delighted by this one. The story goes from a struggle to survive because of poverty to a struggle to survive because of wars for power among gods and men. There are . . . some things that might require content warnings, but they're pretty well signaled in advance so you can decide for yourself.



I successfully went to the grocery store and then to the new Walker library in Uptown (past $15/hour* fast food wage protesters). This involved taking a toddler, a baby, a stroller, a mobi wrap, a backpack full of groceries and books, and an overflow grocery bag of diapers on and off the bus. Hence my sense of accomplishment!

Writing during naptime at home is not being very useful for me. Partly because when I don't know when or if I'll get writing time, I get cross and fretful. Partly because even when the kids are sleeping, part of my attention is on them instead of on my writing. Partly because their sleep schedules do not always align and I may get practically no time to write. So! This week I started trying to get two hours on Wednesday and three hours on the weekend designated as go-to-the-library-and-write time. Or the coffee shop, depending. Phil is somewhat cranky about this, but he is
any time I leave the house alone.<

As a result, the rewrite portion of the new ending of Circus of Brass and Bone is FINISHED!!!!!! Raaaaaa . . . the crowd goes wild. Now I just need to write the all-new stuff. No worries, it's all outlined, and it should go smoothly. A couple more weeks and I think I'll be for-reals done! SO HAPPY.

10 mo., 1 wk. Theia is cruising! She's been pulling herself up to a stand on--well,
everything--for a week or so, and now she's taking little steps between things, while holding on. So cute! I remember being terrified when C did this, because he frequently fell and always hit the floor head-first. So far, Theia does really well at a) landing in a sitting position, or b) catching herself on her arms. So much less terrifying! (knock on wood).


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The zoo was full of adorable baby animals, too! (Two of which were mine.)

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
This week: a long weekend; Theia's 9-month check-up; a writer's group meeting that critted "You May Also Like Gas Masks" (needs a couple of fixes but shows promise) and "Look Back to Keep Her" (trunk it); ridiculous amounts of dirty dishes; restructuring the ending of Circus of Brass and Bone (in progress) at Five Watt Coffee; baby's first Renfest; weird genetic syndromes; and Odyssey publishing "Reconnect" in their September issue.

Yay long weekends! Although in this case, Phil had kind of a weirdly timed long weekend. Because he was working 12+-hour days to run experiments during third shift, he didn't go in to work on Friday but he did sleep very late indeed so that half the day was lost anyway. And on Monday (Labor Day), he had to go back in to work from dinnertime to elevenish because they needed his help.

At least this meant that he didn't actually take any official time off for Theia's 9-month check-up, simply because he was putting in plenty of hours at other times. So yes. Theia's 9-month check-up! She is doing well. This was the first visit with Dr. S after her previous pediatrician switched over to hospital duty. Theia is 2'6.5" tall (99th percentile) and weighs 19 lb. 6 oz (70th percentile), for a BMI in the . . .7th percentile. But as long as her BMI is above the 5th percentile, I'm happy! No shots or blood draws this time, either.

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Dr. S noted her flexibility, added that to Cassius' and my flexibility and easy bruising, and came up wondering about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/basics/definition/con-20033656). In short, hyper-flexibility, easy bruising, easy scarring, and some variations come with the possibility of sudden rupture of blood vessels, including ones in important organs. Kind of scary, but after talking with the rest of my family, I doubt that we have it, and if we do, I'm pretty sure it's one of the less-lethal varieties. Flexibility runs in the family. My first cousin could put one foot pointed straight in front of her and one foot pointed straight behind her at the same time, which is creepy, and she was considered for both Ehlers-Danlos and Marfan, but both were ruled out.

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On Saturday, we went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival for the first time time in many years. Special thanks to Gaea for the tickets (at least in theory)! It was Cassius and Theia's first time, although Theia isn't really old enough to participate! Going with kids is a very different experience. Used to be, I would go with a group of friends, drink mead, eat food on a stick or in a breadbowl, and watch the comedy performances. This time I actually took Cassius to see the special attractions that I'd never bothered with before--Mermaid Cove and Fairy Forest--watched a juggling performance, made a fairy wand for him in the kids' crafts section (lost before we even got to the car, much to his upset), and did the punch-card scavenger hunt that won him a dragon pendant at the end of the visit. We went into three stores at the very beginning of our visit and then no more after that. Casualties of the visit were Cassius' venerable straw hat, his fairy wand, and one of our tires. Getting a flat tire at the end did put rather a damper on the visit, and it meant that we spent the rest of the weekend at home.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I am not a big fan of the heat, as the latest 85+ degree Minnesota "heat wave" shows. Tooo hot.

Cassius' 3-year doctor appointment was this week. He's exactly 1 meter tall and weighs just under 30 lbs. This puts him in the bottom 1% for BMI, which makes us very concerned parents. Not much we can do that we aren't already, though. It's just--I desperately want to fatten him up. The doc also recommended getting him assessed for verbal problems (enunciation, basically--his vocabulary is fine) and for pronation in his feet. No shots this year! Still waiting to hear back about test results. In general, however, it was a cranky-making doctor's visit.

Oh, and I got back the results from the parapertussis test: negative. So no, I no longer have an active infection, but I'm still coughing and dealing with symptoms, and I may continue to do so for another two months. Grr.

Here, have a random water droplet photo. Waterfowl feathers are neat.
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I got to game again! It's been so long, I had to hunt around to find my dice. But I found them. Except for my D4s, which Phil had stolen. And I got to go out for a few hours and play a Deadlands one-shot. It was a lot of fun, although my character was a mad scientist with an impulse control problem that made it difficult for me not to "accidentally" kill all the other party members. Le sigh. And I had to leave a bit early, because I'd been there from 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM, and I really couldn't stay away from Theia any longer.

We got important house stuff worked on! My plan was to paint the back hallway, which is lead paint that has chipped slightly and is generally in need of remediation paint before I will feel comfortable with my kids walking on the stairs in that area again. I got as far as cleaning everything for the painting, and then while I was out at a movie with Electra, Phil taped up all the things that needed taping and got 3/4s of the first coat done. So awesome! He also said that painting there was basically hot-boxing yourself.I'm not allowed to do it, because I'm still breast-feeding and so what I get, the baby gets. Progress is great. Progress made by not-me while I was out seeing a movie? Even better!

Good read: The Girl With All the Gifts.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Um--things happened this week? I'm pretty sure? I'm still heavily lagged from the two family reunions + Phil being gone for a week. And heavily stressed from mortgage problems, general financial problems, and not having a place to work on writing while we transition my study into Theia's bedroom.

Yes, I said general financial problems. We did the math on our budget, and it went directions that budget math isn't supposed to. Not a lot we can do about it, either. As a starting point, though, I am now only allowed to purchase one ebook a month. ::sadface::

The kids got their recommended number of weekly outings! Wednesday at the Midtown Global Market for the Roe Family Singers, Friday at the Minneapolis Library Downtown for storytime and baby playtime, and Sunday for church and nursery Sunday School (Cassius has been asking to go to church again, since we hadn't been since Theia's dedication).

I got to go back to the doctor, since I'm still coughing up phlegm a month after we were treated for parapertussis. The doc says I seem to be in general good lung health and that it can take as long as ten weeks before the coughing stops, even if the infection was already wiped out by antibiotics. To be sure, she took a swab to culture to make sure that yes, this is actually just a lingering symptom, but the cause has been cured. During my doctor's appointment, I noticed that the swabs expired a couple of weeks earlier, so I had to come back a day later once they re-ordered. Harrumph. No fun having a long wire stuck up your nose, by the way. Not recommended!

Let's see, in other entertainment news--finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy, with my friend E. She already saw the movie before she suddenly lost all hearing in one ear, perhaps permanently, so this was by way of a test run to see if she could still enjoy such things. All went swimmingly, huzzah! It was a lot of fun.

As far as my reading goes, I appear to have stumbled on a motherlode of alternate-interpretations-of-angels-and/or-vampires stories. Some were good, some were awful. I am currently enjoying the first book of a new series that I'm reading (recommended for me because I really liked Written in Red, and really, the voice is so close that I'm about to go find out if this is a pseudonym situation). It's great, for what it is! Except for that huge fatal flaw where the first chapter establishes the main character's personality by having a graphic, brutal rape scene. You know, like you do when you have a female main character. Ugh. Just ugh. Why is this such a Thing in paranormal romance / urban fantasy?
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
We weren't sure if we would be able to drive home from my family reunion in Michigan in one day, but we were! Theia slept miraculous amounts. This is very good, since it meant Phil was able to sleep in his own bed for one night before he had to turn around and catch a plane to San Diego for work. Which he did. He got home around 1 AM Friday night/Saturday morning. So I've been single-parenting it this week.
Despite this, I did manage to get out of the house a little. I took the kids to Wee Wednesday at the Midtown Global Market. It happened to be the Como Zoo week, so there was a very excellent storyteller there, and she performed a kids story, supervised a craft, and then brought out the (not poisonous) poison dart frogs, the (no, really, not poisonous) snake, and the (it might bite your finger off) parrot. I also learned that the Produce Exchange there has all the non-dairy substitutes. This is good to know.

That evening, I arranged a little babysitting from my sadly neglected church "parenting partner" and bused out to the U of M to see a Fringe show. So I achieved my "collect Fringe button" goal for the year! Some year, I may actually manage to see more than 1 show. I do not think this will be that year. I saw "Jumpin' Jack Kerouac," a show with a choreographer reading essay answers from writers, and writers dancing to the choreographer's music. It hit the level of "professionally awesome" only a couple of times; mostly it was sweet and occasionally funny, and much less about writing than you might expect.

In the bad news division, we learned that no, the bank won't refinance or otherwise do a home loan for us to deal with the balloon payment due on our second mortgage this fall. Used to be, they just extended the terms. Now, since they don't do that kind of loan anymore, they don't. Yes, it took us five months to get that answer, due to the blatant inexperience and disorganization of the banker we dealt with. Yes, I have a much longer rant about that that I am not going into. Financially, this is going to suck a lot. We are probably going to have to take out a loan against our 401K to pay this. The bank does have a personal loan option, but the percentage charged would be very high and painful and adjustable. So no thank you.

Also got a response from one of the new super-pro magazines saying that my story was shortlisted . . . but they're having funding issues and don't know if/when they will proceed with the publication launch. I could really use those couple thousand dollars about now. Le sigh. Ah, well, I'll wait a few months to see what happens next.

In more entertaining news, Theia has learned to clap her hands. So adorable! And she is taking very well to oatmeal cereal mixed with mother's milk. Blended steak, on the other hand, she thinks is yucky. And she makes whiskey face every time she gets apple or pear. Which is also entertaining, if not so useful in getting her full of food.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
7/20/2014 or thereabouts

As I begin typing this, I am sitting on the couch in the living room watching my kids play together. I do not anticipate being able to type more than a couple of sentences before I have to intervene, but you never know. The living room is reasonably baby-proofed, and Cassius and Theia are pretty good about playing with each other. Although when I took them to the baby storytime and playtime at the library, it was pretty easy to tell that Theia is more used to roughhousing than the other babies!
Last weekend was Phil's family's ATV weekend--basically a family reunion in their cabin in the woods.We drove up Thursday night and left again Sunday afternoon. This was Theia's first time; she was too small to appreciate it much. Mostly we tried to keep her from going places she shouldn't. This is a lot harder than it used to be now that she's a super-crawler. She spent a lot of time in a tricycle/stroller thing that my mother-in-law brought up for us, a lot of time being held, and some time crawling around on the playmat that we brought up for her--although the latter required a parent sitting beside her to keep her there. [And this is as far as I got with the couch-typing, alas.]

This is the first year that Theia has gone to Phil's family's annual reunion/ATV weekend at the cabin (of course it is, she's just barely 8 months old). She is in that stage where she's figured out how to propel herself across rooms at moderate speed, which made taking care of her in a non-childproofed environment quite a challenge. Dogs, slightly larger children, and mud-shellacked ATV riders carried all manner of debris into the cabin, so having her crawl around on the floor wasn't such a great idea. We did bring up (and forget to take home!) our play mat, so some of the time, I could plop her down on that and sit right beside her to keep her within its boundaries. Most of the time, though, she had to be held or strapped into the tricycle/stroller device that my in-laws found and brought up for us. She loved being wheeled around in that thing. We had to restrain Cassius' enthusiasm for pushing her around.

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After a pretty awful first night, she did quite well for the rest of the weekend. She produced her first tooth by the end of it! She and I slept in the "boys' room" at the cabin, and Cassius napped there. At night, Phil and Cassius slept in a tent out in the tenting area--which is now also the mobile home area, since three of the families now have mobile homes. It seems a little silly to get a mobile home to go camp on family land that's only a few hours' drive from home, but I do envy the theoretical ability to go driving across the Americas while you carry your home along with you like a snail. It would be a great way to retire. I could take a ton of photographs, write in different places, see different things. So much fun! Camping close to home, though, can be managed with just a tent.

Cassius got to ride an ATV with his Aunt Mariah, which he loved. In a few years, he'll be driving one himself, I'm sure. There were also two 8-week-old puppies that he got to wrestle with. As Phil says, a 3-year-old child and two 8-week-old puppies all in a puppy pile may be the pinnacle of happiness.

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We went for our long family walk in the woods, taking lots of photographs of the kids. One of the photos I took of Theia was of her wearing the same jacket and in a similar place as a picture I took of Cassius when he was about the same age. I think I took it from too far away, though. We shall see. I was trying to get a matched set of photos. Despite this (failure?), I did get some very adorable photos of both of them.

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Let's see, what else . . . My father-in-law, Doug, taught the older boys how to split wood with an ax, and nobody lost any limbs. The kids did lots of drawing, and the activities they got were slap bracelets and temporary tattoos (Cassius got a "pirate" cross-bones with a bow, and a green elephant.). Cassius and Asher had a lot of fun riding in the red Flyer wagon together or having Asher pull Cassius around the driveway. Once, while an older kid was pulling them, the wagon got tipped over and that resulted in skinned knees, a cut lip, a faceful of gravel, and much crying. Phil had a lot of fun persuading all the kids to go into the boat (in the woods) and pretend to fish. They all had to wear their life jackets, so it would be safe. The big meal event was a fish fry. My mother-in-law, Robin, even managed to make some that I could eat without risking the dairy/soy thing. In general, she did a superb job of making sure that I had something to eat at each meal. I know exactly how difficult that is, and I really appreciated it. This year's food contribution for me to bring was a salad, so I made a strawberry spinach salad thing with candied walnuts that turned out very well indeed. As you might have guessed, I'm quite proud of it. Usually I'm not very good at salads.

After ATV weekend, we went back home for a week before turning back around and driving to my family reunion (for the Yoder side) in Michigan. No, we're mostly not in Michigan, but it's a convenient mid-point for many of us.

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I had a week, I know I did!

I pretty much recovered from the bout of parapertussis this week (thank you, antibiotics!), and so I was actually able to be a bit productive, and also to socialize a bit. Still more tired than usual. I can tell my body was/is still working to clear out the last bits of bacterial crud.

Immediately before I got sick, I finished my Short Story of Unusual Size. Normally, I try to take a couple of days off after finishing a project, partly to refill the creativity well and partly to give a lick and a promise to all the other writing-related tasks that I tend to fall behind on. The sick ate my recharge time, so I took a couple of days on the other end of it. Most of that, I spent writing updates on things that I wanted to get down--con reports, child at age X months, etc.

Then I got to restart Circus of Brass and Bone AKA the Way Overdue Project! Or at least to finish up my re-read (with minor revisions), figure out what needed to get wrapped up, and plot the grand finale. That was difficult, after so much time away from the project. As I commented over on Facebook, I had a plan for how to do that, but my plan was, "Make a plan." Not so useful! A couple of months ago, Pat helped me to realize that what I thought was the climax wasn't the actual focus of the plot arc and so should be a quiet postlude instead of the big finale, but it took post-its filled with threats to hash out what would actually work well. Not threats to me, but all the perils and threats pointed at different characters. I rearranged the post-its, added solutions or results, and I finally got a conclusion that I was happy with. Next up: writing the damn thing.

[ . . . And coming back to this post and trying to write it while sitting outside and letting Cassius play in our back yard and pick ALL the raspberries. He still needs interaction, though, so this may be a little scattered.]

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Life at home has become more exciting because Theia's made a big developmental leap from "wiggling a bit on her tummy" to "crawling across rooms in 30 seconds flat." Keeping her safe just became a lot harder, and keeping the floors and other low surfaces clean and child-proofed just became a lot more important. Having an almost-three-year-old who likes to carry around his choking hazard toys and deposit them wherever makes this more challenging. It is really cute watching her chase balls across the room, though. Or cats. Or Cassius (especially when he's also army-crawling so that they can play "Snakey"). Now that she's moving around a lot, I can tell that she's also losing weight. She's becoming a skinny baby, just like her big brother. Sigh. She's also lost patience with most of the baby-containment devices, which makes doing anything else around the house more challenging.

I saw Chef, now playing at the Lagoon, on my monthly movie date with E. Five stars! Cleverly written, populated by an amazing cast, extremely funny, truly heart-warming, and filled with delicious foodie moments. My only complaint is that the wrap-up had maybe a touch too much childhood-wish-fulfillment, in a way that might be a sore spot for kids who have that wish but won't get it fulfilled. Regardless, highly, highly recommended, especially if you need something to cheer you up. For bonus points, plan on going out for dinner at a place with good tortas afterward.

Other things, in summary: vegan waffles yay!, breakfast with C., yay!; Phil working way too many hours, boo!; all the raspberries, holy cow!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I'd planned on writing a 6-month update for Theia, but instead it is apparently going to be a 7-month update! The delay in writing about her is related to her existence, too.

Theia is currently a fairly healthy baby. Parapertussis is only making her cough a little bit. Her "eczema" has stayed gone since we stopped treating her with an anti-fungal and switched baby soap and laundry detergent. She hasn't had any soy/dairy problems since Mother's Day, so if all stays clear until August, I'll actually get to eat a bit of dairy and see if she's okay with it! One month to Caesar salad, baby! Ooo, or maybe a donut. Or just a block of cheddar cheese. Or mac 'n cheese! Or--okay, some planning still needs to be done. Do you know, it's almost two years since I've been an omnivore? I really miss it.

Her 6-month doctor's visit went well. She is a remarkably tall baby, very strong, with a great reach (that allowed her to snag the doctor's big hoop earrings). She got her shots. She also got complimented on how much she likes being on her tummy and how well-shaped her head is. At six months, she weighed 17 lbs., 10 oz. (74th percentile) and was 2 ft., 4.35 in. tall (99th percentile), for a BMI of 15.4 (15th percentile). So it would be nice if she were fatter, but at least she's staying on her growth curve, and her development is at a normal pace. Unfortunately, her doctor is switching to working in the hospital, so we've got to switch doctors on her. We had this problem with Cassius, too.

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She is quite tall, as you can see from those stats. At six months, we moved her into the 18 month clothing size. She isn't chubby like many babies are, so I fear that she's inherited the Staffin super-skinny-until-30 body type. That always leads to lots of fun conversations with pediatricians. She has also inherited Phil's blue eyes. I can only hope she got his fighter pilot eyesight, too. Her hair is blonde and very fine. The poor thing got my hairline. Her tramp-stamp birthmark hasn't faded yet. Aside from that, she's still young enough that it's hard to guess what she'll look like when she grows up, but she and Cassius are *very* clearly brother and sister.

The kids get along really well, although sometimes Cassius wants to roughhouse with her, and she really isn't old enough yet. There's lots of, "Giving her a hug is great, but crawling on top of her or rolling her over is not. No, not even if you're being a snake." Lots of hugs, lots of ugga-muggas, lots of holding hands, lots of playing with baby toys together, lots of trying to push her in her swing. On her side, there's lots of squealing happily at him, waving her hands toward him, crawling after him, and grabbing big fistfuls of his hair. Earlier today Cassius crawled on the floor ahead of Theia so she could chase him, and then they had a crawling "race" side-by-side along the floor. The cuteness, it is ridiculous.

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She is army-crawling very well, although she has yet to lift her tummy off the floor. Cassius never did, so she may not. Who knows? I'm really happy we bought a playmat for her to roll around on and practice her sitting up and rolling over and crawling on *without* banging her head repeatedly against our hardwood floor. Things learned as a second-time-around parent! Other developments . . . She is very good at grabbing things with her hands and passing things from hand to hand. She has mastered sitting, though she preferentially rolls onto her tummy and lounges that way. Or crawls. She recently started babbling syllables. Phil was over the moon the day that she decided the best thing to say, all day long, was "Da-da!" That may be her first word, though I don't know if it counts if she's not actually speaking yet. I think she's going to be a thumb-sucker, although she prefers her toes when she can get them.

Her favorite activities include crawling all over the living room, hugging and nomming on cats, bouncing in the johnny-jump-up, grabbing her brother's hair, grabbing people as they walk past the johnny-jump-up, and being cuddled.

She's showing interest in food, so we'll start that soon. She's tasted some brownie with raspberry sauce, some orange juice, and some cherries.

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A normal day has her waking up around 6-7 AM, taking a morning nap from 9 AM - 11 AM, an afternoon nap from 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM, and going to sleep for the night at about 9 PM. She's sleeping through the night almost every night right now. No teeth yet, so I'm sure that'll change once she starts teething. She nurses about every hour and a half. After nursing, I try to keep her upright for a few minutes in the bug exersaucer or the johnny-jump-up. When she's no longer interested in standing, she gets to lay in the kitchen swing or crawl around the living room, depending on what she tolerates and where I'm trying to do household chores.

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
As I am writing this, it's very weird to realize that today is only Friday. 4th of July, yes, but Friday! I've been existing in the weirdly timeless dimension of sick for the last week. Phil has been home for much of it, which hasn't helped (with the disorientation--it's helped a *lot* with keeping the household running!). Last week, both kids got sick with congestion, coughing, and fevers. Last week Friday, I started to feel sick. Over the weekend, I got all the congestion, coughing, and fever. I was so wobbly and lightheaded that I put Phil in charge of carrying the baby up and down the stairs and even--when I felt particularly bad--of moving her from the playmat to my arms to nurse.

Theia's church dedication was on Sunday, so Phil took her to church and I stayed home sick with Cassius. This was probably a very good thing, as it turned out, since Cassius and I were the most sick and probably most contagious at this point. She looked adorable in her little satiny white dress with red flowers; that's all I know.

My fever went away on Monday, but Phil still stayed home to help and because I'd made a doctor's appointment for Cassius. You see, even before this latest bout of sickness, he had a minor but persistent cough that wouldn't go away. He'd had it for three weeks, which seemed a bit long. We talked to the nurse practitioner. They took swabs for various tests. They used the water pic to clean earwax out of his ears so they could make sure he didn't have an ear infection (since he'd complained of ear pain the previous day). She said that perhaps he had seasonal allergies, we should try medication for that and see if it cleared things up.

Tuesday, Phil went back to work. I managed okay with the kids, but I was exhausted and so slept as long as the kids did during naptime, which was a really long time that day (we were all sick). That's how I came to miss the nurse practitioner's urgent attempt to call me with Cassius' test results. He tested positive for parapertussis, which is like whooping cough junior. It's less likely to kill you or cause severe complications. It's also not vaccinated against (see: less likely to kill you). So I called the triage nurse on the night shift, and she referred me to the doctor on call, and the doctor sent in a prescription for antibiotics for both kids and told me to get the adults in the family to a doctor so that we could get treated too. So that's what we did the next day.

We are all highly contagious until we've taken five days of antibiotics. So certain things had to happen--or not happen. Phil called in sick to work through next Monday. We're avoiding social events. We had to cancel our annual 4th of July party for the first time in, um, well, since before we were married. Phil was very sad. I'm pretty glad that I wasn't planning on going to CONvergence, anyway. Parapertussis would be a nasty addition to the con-crud mix that usually brews at these large events.

So instead of a 4th of July party, we had a back yard picnic (Cassius corrected Phil when he called it a party). Just family, hanging out in the back yard for most of the day. Everybody came indoors for naptime, though. Cassius ran around in his red-and-blue plaid shorts and his caped Superman shirt, eating all the raspberries, swinging in the hammock, and generally having a great time. Phil grilled and posted links and analysis of his favorite heavy metal music of the year (his "ponies"). Theia crawled off the blanket we put her on a lot and generally required a whole lot of attention, but she appeared to be enjoying herself just fine. I ate and lounged in the hammock with Theia and watched House on my tablet and generally was kept rather busy by my offspring.

On top of all this, in a feat of rare and remarkable clumsiness, I managed to trip over a stool and fall in such a way as to sprain my ankle and bruise my knees badly, right on top of the scar tissue from my knee surgeries. Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Moving my ankle hurts. Going up and down stairs hurts. I am extra sad that I can't take ibuprofen because all the brands have lactose and Theia's allergic to it.

Other (better!) things have happened since my last diary update, too.
* I had a 4th Street (Fantasy Convention), about which there will be another few posts.
* I finished a short story that became unusually long! "You May Also Like Gas Masks" is over 12,000 words. Yikes.
* I finally figured out the part that makes my next notebook story work. Turns out the problem wasn't the mystery or the A.I. part, it was that I needed to figure out the character's spine: grief.
* I emailed a pro-paying magazine editor to ask for a different, less rights-grabby contract--and got it. Like a pro, oh yeah.
* Cassius is having nightmares on a regular basis. I feel so bad for him. He's also become very focused on figuring out when things (people, monsters, cars, etc.) are "bad."
* Theia has mastered an army crawl that gets her across the room in much less time than you might think.
* Phil has finished selecting what he thinks is the best music of the year for a Ponies disc . . . or two.
* I've been experimenting with an easy, delicious microwave (vegan!) fudge recipe. I am happy to continue experiments, I just need an unlimited supply of coconut cream, cocoa, and powdered sugar.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
(Somewhat belated. This whole weekly journaling thing is a bit of a challenge, even when it's only for 15 minutes.)

6/9/2014, Monday
It was good to have Phil home again that week. The previous week he was in California for work, running experiments, drinking far too much coffee, and getting far too little sleep. He came home on Saturday. The threat of thunderstorms (but not actual thunderstorms) delayed his flight an hour, but he still managed to get home before the kids went to sleep. While he was gone, life at home went on. There were the usual amounts of not-getting-enough-sleep and can't-get-writing/cleaning/stuff-done. Janine from Hawaii came back to the Twin Cities to visit with her beau, Louis, so I also actually! socialized! despite being solo with two children. We visited on Friday at the Walker Sculpture Garden (I have a picture to prove it), while Louis did yeoman's duty in keeping Cassius from sprinting *everywhere*, and on Saturday Doc was kind enough to ferry me and the kids to Katie & Adam's house for a more populous gathering. Theia was fairly well-behaved as long as I was holding her, Cassius had a ton of fun on the playset with Bella and Alex and Annika. This always makes me happy because I feel like he doesn't get to play with other kids often enough. I got to eat some delicious Cajun brats and various potato salads, and a majority of the skirt-wearing humans in attendance admired Janine's gorgeous golden magic skirt. This is how we learned that magic skirts made from vintage saris are a thing.

My birthday was on Tuesday. It is possible that I was determined come hell or high water to have a birthday party this year. Possible. Seeing as it was on a weekday at short notice, not everybody was able to come, but it turned out pretty well. I did consider scheduling it for the Sunday following, but that did not seem much better. We went to one of the picnic areas at Minnehaha Falls. Sadly, the wading pool and playground were closed in the area we'd chosen, but there was still plenty of space for the kids to run--and run--and run--and we were able to score an "open" pavilion to set up inside. I had balloons, because as Cassius knows, birthday parties mean balloons! One was a regular "Happy Birthday" balloon. One was a giant red race car. We grilled various vegetable kabobs (note: Kalamata olives are a hit), hamburgers, and hot dogs. I had a steak, because it was my birthday. I had also made a brownie cake with raspberry syrup. This was the first time I'd made that recipe, and--well, let's just say it wasn't ready for public consumption. Possibly because substituting vegan margarine for butter is not always as simple as it sounds, and can definitely affect baking times. That cake was as hard as a rock and about as impossible to extract with a plastic knife. We had one knife--my steak knife--and with that, some center pieces were extracted. For the rest of the week, I chiseled out bits of brownie brittle. Electra also brought an angel food cake that I could eat! For several days afterwards, angel food cake with strawberries and whipped coconut cream was my breakfast. :)

(I have pictures to prove this happened, too. Maybe I should actually add pictures to this post. Eventually.)

[Resuming writing this post 6/14. Dear lord, I have not much time to spend on these posts!]

The rest of the week was pretty rough, as I recall. Phil had to work an evening shift, he had phone meetings, he had a concert. In short, I was parent-in-charge for the rest of the week.

I think that was about it. Can't recall. Didn't write this in time to actually remember!

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