cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Writing goals for the next 3 months, September - November

Summer is ending and autumn is almost here. The kids are going back to school. I put Cassius on his school bus today at 9 AM. Next week, Theia starts going to preschool 5 mornings a week. This means I get time to write and do writingy stuff! Today is a misc writing stuff day, so I'm tracking big goals and updating my writing to-do list.

Doing the math! Theoretically, if I get myself ready for the day before the kids are out the door (not something I've always succeeded at!), I'll have about 3 1/2 hours to myself every morning to work on writing, plus whatever I can scrape together at other times. Theia's been really uncooperative about staying quietly in her room during afternoon quiet time and bedtime recently, so that time is not as useful as it used to be. Phil usually gives me a couple of hours one evening during the week and also one weekend day.

3.5 morning hours * (5 writing days - 1 misc writing stuff day) + 1 afternoon/evening hour * 6 + 3 bonus weeknight hours + 4 weekend hours - 5 hours weekly of cleaning/bills/paperwork during regular writing time
3.5*(5-1)+1*6+3+4-5 = 22 hours/week to write, max

22 hours seems really high! It's something to shoot for, though. I don't think I'm going to get that much, given my other housework/parenting/social commitments. My estimate of only 5 hours of writing time weekly sacrificed to bills and paperwork and cleaning is probably low. I'm also not very productive in the first hour of a block of writing time.

I am really looking forward to finding out what my writing rate is when both kids are in school, at least in the mornings.

Project 1: Space Marine Midwife anthology short story, "Mother of Nobody" ("Mother of No Child" "Mother of None" "Mother of No-One"). Figure this will probably eat a month of regular writing time, between plotting, writing, critting, and revising.
CURRENT STATUS: I have some ideas.
ETA DUE: Submission period is maybe "late autumn." Hey, I need to get started on this one!

Project 2: Scorpion Dance. My main novel project.
CURRENT STATUS: 70,719 / 100,000 written.
ETA GOAL: Complete draft by 2018, which means 10,000 words in three-quarters of the months remaining. Oh! That's a lot, given everything else I'm doing (yet not much, considering that a full day of writing should net me about 2,000 words--if I ever got a full day of writing) and the various complications of life.

Project 2: The Unkindness of Ravens short-cut. Finish cutting novella down to under 25,000 words. Start sending it on the submission rounds for places that pay enough to make it worth it (i.e. no $100 advance or royalty-only small presses).
CURRENT STATUS: Over halfway done.
ETA: I expect to finish that project this week (by 9/1/2017).

Project 2b: Draw up project timeline, budget, and task list for self-pubbing novella, to be executed either after exclusive period from publication or after exhausting the limited well-paying options for novellas (up to 9 months). Remember to include sequels.
CURRENT STATUS: Not started.
ETA: Tentative, 9 months of collecting rejections would put it DUE BY 6/1/2018.

Project 3: Destroy revisions backlog, starting with "You May Also Like Gas Masks." Current rate for redmarking = 3-4 pgs/week. Then I'll need to make the marked changes (time = ???) and do a final read-aloud draft (1 day). Says something that I don't even know about how much time this process takes me.
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing project. 13/23 pages redmarked for "You May..."
ETA: About 5 weeks from now to finish the redmarking, estimate 10/5/2017 to finish redmarking.

Project 4: Dragon Succubus, the fluffy side-project novel. The whole point of this project is that it is the thing I'm working on when I don't have anything else to do or when I have only a smidge of time and so I can't work on anything too complicated.
CURRENT STATUS: 56,246 / 80,000 words
ETA: I've been fiddling with it on and off since November 2015, sooooo maybe draft ETA 10/31/2018??

In the next couple of months, I'm also teaching a class at the Loft. I've run it before, so I don't need to come up with the lesson plans, but I need to make a couple of tweaks, do publicity, etc.

I want to get the pseudonym's stuff in the pipeline, but I think that'll have to wait.

And I've been thinking of poking at Circus of Brass and Bone, updating the layout to reflect the episodic nature of it, adding reviews to backmatter and interior, maybe trying some ads and seeing if that boosts sales, trying a bookbub or putting it in Kindle Unlimited. But those things take time and/or money, so. Not putting it on the official goals for the next 3 months, 'cause I have enough things there for now!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
For the last part of 2016, I was posting three good things daily on Facebook. It helped my mood, and it helped me notice good things despite stress and sickness. I wanted to keep doing something like this. The plan is to post 10 good things weekly on Monday. This one is a little late. Oops!

The kids went back to kindergarten and preschool on Tuesday! This was a surprise, because my calendar had contradictory information so I was braced for a whole 'nother week of them both being home all day long. Surprise!

1. Theia was happy to go to preschool. Hopefully this means the long break has allowed her to forget that she was not wanting to go for a while.

2. I got summoned for jury duty! This has never happened before. I'm excited.

3. Cardinals in winter. Worst camouflage. Best bird-watching. The certified urban wildlife habitat beside Cassius' school bus stop has three or four pairs of cardinals living in it or nearby, so I often see them flying across the street, perching on snow-covered branches, and otherwise being photogenic.

4. Phil got me a new battery for my laptop. He used some of his Amazon reward from work to help *me* do my work. :) Now I'll have more than 10 minutes of battery life again. Such luxury!

5. I got the My Little Ponies of the Apocalypse t-shirt that I ordered as my reward for hitting a weight loss benchmark (thanks, pneumonia!). The kids think the t-shirt is of pirate ponies.
Ponies of the Apocalypse

6. I finished the final draft of my high fantasy novella, "The Unkindness of Ravens," and submitted it to Tor.com. Yay! That is the most rewritten piece I've ever created. It's about 29,000 words long, and only about 10,000 of those words are from the story I started with when I decided to do this. And there I was, thinking that all I would need to do was change the beginning and ending a bit and add a few thousand words. Ha.

7. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest contacted me out of the blue, to ask MinnSpec to spread the word about the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I enjoy reading his blog, so that was pretty cool! Also, for pity's sake people. Have a website, and put a contact form on it!

8. I went back to the gym for more than just the sauna! It's been a while because The Sickness meant I couldn't breathe well enough to exercise. Saturday I did a yoga class, and it felt great.

9. First sale of 2017--a reprint sale of an eco-horror short story to an upcoming anthology. Huzzah reprint sale!

10. I started Project: Clean All The Things. Picking up went on my Not-To-Do List while I was cramming to get "Unkindness" finished, so I promised I'd spend the first two weeks after finishing it using my regular writing time to CLEAN (and catch up on emails).
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)
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)
I had all kinds of plans to be wonderfully productive and social etc. this week, and then I was caught by The Sick that had Phil the previous two weeks. It seems to be proceeding according to the same schedule, too. After a week of being sick, I feel normal-with-congestion some of the time, and then The Sick hits me over the head and I feel woozy and incapable of basic reasoning. Happily, it's a three-day weekend, so Phil is home to take care of the kids when The Sick sucker-punches me. Today, Theia also started showing signs of The Sick.

The Sick sidelined some of my plans, including the ones to meet with my resident archaeology/Belize expert to brainstorm about the Belize book. Bah. I am not getting my scheduled number of words written per week, so that whole end-of-the-year time table may be a myth after all. However, I've been doing reading and making notes and trying to figure things out.

Rivers of blood! Crystal skulls! Rivers of scorpions! Coral reefs! Jungles! Howler monkeys!

Writing was going really well until I hit the part where the plot moves to Belize and I have to have actually figured out things like the tour itinerary and what plot movement will happen where and, um, what plot movement will happen at all, and who the supporting characters on the tour are. Turns out I hadn't plotted as much as I thought. I just had a great concept and (general) setting and very little in the way of actual plot. Phil laughed when I said this. Just recently he was telling me that I am more of a pantser* than I think I am.

I'm also figuring out convention stuff for this summer. I'll be going to two local SF and fantasy conventions, CONvergence and 4th Street Fantasy. I have a reading planned for CONvergence, which means I'm also going to be experimenting with homemade donuts. I will be on panels at a number of conventions greater than or equal to 1.

[WARNING: BABY TMI] And I'm trying to figure out how to deal with my darling baby girl, who in the last couple of weeks has decided that rather than weaning as planned, she would like to nurse more. It will be highly inconvenient (for me) if I'm still a milch mom when I'm planning on being gone from early morning into the evening, particularly since I'm not getting a hotel room at either of these conventions. I have no experience in weaning a baby, since Cassius weaned himself cold-turkey when he turned one, and I'm rather terrified of it being an upsetting process. Any tips, other mothers?

* One of the eternal writing debates is whether 'tis better (for a given writer) to plot or to pants, as in
write "by the seat of their pants."
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)

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)
The last couple of weeks have been very busy with All The Things, especially last week. In my writing log, I wrote down the following:

Recorded "Breath Stirs In the Husk" for Pseudopod
Recorded “Drowning in Sky” for PodCastle
Did audio editing on PodCastle and Pseudopod readings and sent them off
Writer’s networking tea at Patisserie 46
MinnSpec writers group in Uptown
Updated market spreadsheet, wrote newsletter, and mailed it off
Researched self-pub cover art necessities
Wrote cover art contract
Met with cover artist
Processed “Diplomatic Relations” acceptance
Processed “Charity From a Thief” rejection
Processed writing expenses

In addition to this, we !!finally!! took care of the second mortgage balloon payment, a financial burden that has been becoming increasingly worrisome over the course of the last six months as we went back and forth with our mortgage banker about how we could refinance it. The short answer is that we couldn't, but he was too inexperienced to know that and too incompetent to find that out in a reasonable time-frame or even to return our phone calls EVER. Of course, back when we bought our house, we were assured that we could simply extend the term of our second mortgage without any problems. Now, that program has long since been discontinued. He eventually offered us a personal loan, but that has terms similar to a credit card, so, um, no. Instead we took out a loan against Phil's 401K. Not ideal, but at least we're paying the interest to ourselves. It also means that our 2nd mortgage will be paid off in 5 years instead of 10+ . . . because our monthly payment is going to be a couple of hundred dollars higher. Ouch. But still. Done! One thing to cross off the Worry List.

Speaking of the Worry List, Phil finally put lead encapsulation paint on the back staircase, which is a huge relief to me. Whew. Still not done fixing all the less-urgent lead stuff, but we're getting there.

So, lots of stress (and stress relief) this week, and lots of me trying to scrape out time to get things done. Not helping is that Theia has been waking up lots in the night again. Maybe teething? She's also been batting at her ears when she's sleepy, which makes me worry about ear infections, but Phil thinks it's because sometimes there's referred pain from teething. Basically, we don't know. It is worrisome. Also does not help with the exhaustion and having lots of stuff to get done.

Now that the mortgage's handled, our next big family project is figuring out preschool. Minneapolis folks, does anyone have recommendations or dis-recommendations for preschools in the Uptown/Downtown/S. Mpls area? We're hardly going to buy a second car just to ferry the small one to preschool, so it needs to be busable for us.

Sigh. Here's a picture of a water lily, for serenity.


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P.S. Oh, and I bollixed up my left knee badly enough that it's been hurting constantly for the last few days. I'll try taking it easy for a week and see if it gets better on its own. If it's still this bad in two weeks, a doctor visit is probably in order, and who knows what else. I do not need this.
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)
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)
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)
The Saturday before Easter, my father married Elena, a long-time family friend. We left Wednesday afternoon, took two days to drive down to Kansas, and drove home in one shot on Easter Sunday.
Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
11 PM, previous night. - Attempt to go to sleep. Phil decides to sleep in the attic because he fears waking Theia. Theia wakes up as I'm going to bed, so I nurse her and put her back to sleep. Succeed in going to bed around 11:30.

3:45 AM, previous night - Theia wakes up again. Nurse her back to sleep, no rocking required. Currently reading Pandora's Star on my Nook while nursing. Good stuff. Amazing how he writes so densely and yet manages a pace that pulls the reader along.

7:40 AM - Wake up, this time for good. Nurse Theia, but don't change her because all diapers are downstairs. Put her back in the cradle. Go downstairs.

Take Fu Manchu's steroid and antibiotic and attempt to get him to eat them in cream cheese. Attempt fails because he only wants to lick the cream cheese. Use more forceful methods. Success!

Procure diapers for Theia and dig out clothes for myself to wear from the clean laundry. Shower. Dress. Retrieve Theia from crade, change diaper, and put her in the bouncy seat in my study. Have ten minutes to answer a couple of emails and write a paragraph on "You May Also Like Gas Masks" before it's time to wake Cassius up. Take Theia downstairs and put her in playard.

9:00 AM - Wake Cassius up. He mumbles something about buying new houses. He is excited that the new truck he found in his closet (which we've been trying to keep him out of) has had a bath and he wants to go find it first thing. Instead, I get him out of his pajamas and diaper.

The diaper is dry, so I whisk him downstairs onto the potty. He gets to watch a few clips and then an episode of Thomas the Train. Pee happens, and it's all actually in the potty. Hurray!

Meanwhile, I browse emails and Facebook. I goop Theia up, covering all her limbs with lanolin as part of my latest attempt to defeat the eczema, if that's even what it is. Our regular doctor is out of town for the next two days, so I can't get a second opinion, but I'm not going to put the harsh steroid stuff on my 5-month-old without one. Put Theia back in the playard.

Dress Cassius. Warm up pancakes with maple syrup. Feel very grateful to husband for making large quantities of pancakes on Sunday. Get Cassius started on eating breakfast. He still needs me to cut his pancakes into smaller pieces, but he eats those pieces with a fork by himself.

Take potty's pee container upstairs to clean it out. Bring it back down, along with sleep fleece for Theia for later.

Join Cassius and start to eat my own pancakes. Hear suspicious butt noises coming from playard but decide to ignore them because damn it, I'm eating.

Cassius declares himself done after 3/4 of a pancake. I tell him he gets to watch his "reward" episode now, and it's special because he gets to hold Mama's tablet and watch it there. He chooses vintage Sesame Street. I go back to my pancakes.

Finish eating, go to get Theia. Wow. She pooped through everything. Clean her up, change her diaper, put her in a new one-piece, put her in her sleep fleece. Nurse her. She does not fall asleep.

Carry her upstairs, swaddle myself and her in the mobi wrap, and bounce-rock her to sleep while I sit on an exercise ball in front of my desk and watch the new "Elementary" episode. I *knew* they were going to do something interesting with Sherlock's brother!

10:30 AM - Put Theia down for her morning nap. Type up "day in the life" so far. Man, a lot has already happened.

Sesame Street ends, Cassius has a meltdown, and he needs his diaper changed.

11:03 AM - Beginning of designated morning "Theia's napping, attempt to work out" half-hour. Harley's 5-Factor Workout, one of the library's exercise DVDs.

11:15 AM - Theia wakes up. Fortunately, today's workout is all done laying down, so it's easy to modify into Mommy and Me exercises. Tummy time on Mama's chest while I'm doing flies, airplane on Mama's knees while I'm doing crunch-curls.

Start a load of special Theia laundry, which right now means warm water and extra rinses and no soap. All part of the attempt to clear up her skin rashes.

Read Cassius and Theia a story. Cassius demanded to "hold a baby," so I settled Theia into his arms and read another one while he happily muttered, "A baby, a baby, a baby, ugga-mugga."

Put Cassius' shoe back on. He goes back to play on the porch. Change Theia's diaper. Put away legos.

Attempted to play piano with Cassius. Idea of making hands into "monster claws" to play was a success, but then he yelled at me to, "Stop music!" while he played with his trains in the play room. Practiced a little more, then left when Theia needed to be moved from the floor mat to the changing table because of suspicious butt noises. Cassius started to fake-cry and insist on, "More piano!" as soon as I left.Time elapsed on piano playing attempt: 5 minutes? Maybe 10?

Helped Cassius do two puzzles.

Nursed Theia. Cassius played with his trucks on the front porch.

Put Theia back in playard. Lunchtime.Cassius wanted "ham and mustards" but instead we had noodles with buttery mushroom sauce. There was a handwashing tantrum. He declared himself done by spitting out a bite of food significantly before I was done, and then there was much tugging on my arm and demands for Thomas or help or getting up or potty or the porch.

12:50 PM - I finish eating. Cassius wants to sit on the potty with a timer to earn "Thomas a Train!" After a few minutes of this, he starts melting down. Theia also starts melting down, because she needs yet another diaper change and is sick of being in the playard. In the middle of this, a friend calls to figure out plans for tonight, which might have to be canceled due to a bad stomach. She offers to let me call back at a better time. I tell her it is entirely likely there won't be one. I change Theia's diaper and put her in the Bug exersaucer, get Cassius back into his diaper and pants, and arrange to call friend later to see if she feels better. Finish getting Cassius into clothes and let him go out to play with his trucks on the front porch. There is much muttering about the mailman who has not yet showed up. I clean up from lunch, put away the left out puzzles, and put in the next load of laundry.

Washed face, brushed teeth.

Came back downstairs to find that I needed to change Cassius' foul poopy diaper. Changed diaper. He insisted on sitting on the potty next, so I set the timer and after he sat there long enough (while playing with Theia who was still in the bug), he got to watch a bit of The Little Engine Who Could. Combed and braided hair for the first time today. Put away scattered children's books. Ensconced Theia on the couch, well-cushioned to keep her from rolling or falling, and typed up some more of this epic account of my day. Tried not to laugh at the glowing magic mushrooms in The Little Engine Who Could. Realize that I changed tenses at some point, but am really not going to go back and fix it.

1:45 PM - Cassius has had 15 minutes of The Little Engine, and it's almost naptime. Back into diaper and pants. Theia goes back in playard. I ask Cassius what he wants for his snack before naptime. "Cookie!" "There are no cookies." "I have a cookie in my pocket!" "You do not have a cookie in your pocket. There are no cookies." Pause. "Graham cracker!"

Make snack of graham cracker with butter and cinnamon and sugar. He eats it and wants more. I say it's naptime. He starts to melt down. Theia starts to melt down. There is a whole lot of screaming going on during this, the second simultaneous meltdown of the day.

Wash Cassius' hands and face, put him in his pajamas, tuck him in to bed, refuse to read him a story because Theia's screaming. He wants the lantern. I pick it up and give it a little shake to get it locked in the upright position. Instead the bottom falls out, batteries fly everywhere, and Cassius is scared into crying hysterically. I fix the lantern and put it by his bed. He calms down. I bring his cuddle-puppy back to his room when I get Theia and take her upstairs.

"Nap with Theia! Put her right here!" He pats the bed beside him. I do, for a minute, and they cuddle, and it is ridiculously cute. Nobody is screaming.

I nurse Theia. She falls asleep. I put her to bed. I go downstairs and make tea and a snack. I come upstairs and eat my snack.

Less than half an hour after I laid her down (and before I have finished my snack), Theia wakes back up--wait for it--screaming bloody murder. She condescends to nurse, but it takes a very long time to rock her back to sleep.

I update this day-to-date.

3:44 PM - Victory condition! Both children sleeping! Time to write! YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!

Waste five minutes on the internet, then process emails, do freewriting, ponder--but do not actually start--writing.

4:10 PM - She's awake again. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Not interested n nursing. Rejected my attempts to rock her to sleep. As soon as I stopped trying to put her to sleep, she was all smiles and cooing.

Took her downstairs. Put her in the bug. Pumped milk so that she'd have fresh while I was gone in case plans to go out worked after all. Midway through pumping, she started to fill her diaper, so I had to do an emergency interrupt and get her to the changing table in case of blowouts. Resumed pumping. Phone rang: husband calling to see if I was going out tonight. Explained that I wouldn't know that until 5. Finished pumping. Changed diaper. Took Theia back upstairs and put her in bouncy seat in my office. Called friend: outing is a go! Called husband: yes, you have to watch both kids all by yourself!

5:12 PM - Time to try writing with Theia in the bouncy seat!

5:20 PM - Time to nurse Theia.

5:30 PM - Cassius wakes up. Take Theia downstairs and put her in the playard. Get Cassius (dry diaper!) out of his diaper and pajamas, carry him downstairs, and install on the potty while watching "The Little Engine . . .". Go back upstairs to print feeding tracking sheets and get other nursing supplies. Finish writing a paragraph of "You May Also Like Gas Masks."

Settle Theia on the couch, get laptop, and update this.

. . . and after that, I didn't get time to write up things for the rest of the evening UNTIL NOW. Which is a couple of weeks later. The usual routine involves me putting Cassius to bed at 9 P.M., using the lure of a Boy in the Cave story to get him to cooperate (Super-cute when small child says, "I copper-ate." So hard to pronounce!). Then I bathe Theia and goop her with lanolin to pacify the eczema, take her upstairs, nurse her, and lay her down to sleep usually around tenish. I seem to remember that on this particular day that I was documenting, she woke up again around 4 AM and wouldn't go to sleep for a good hour. I think this was one of the days where the next morning involved Theia still sleeping in her cradle in our room, me crashing on the couch downstairs, and Cassius watching whatever the heck he wanted as long as he let me nap for an hour.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
5/26/2014, Monday, Memorial Day

Theia appears to be settling into a new sleep pattern, one where she goes to sleep after 11 PM, wakes up at or before 6 AM, and then doesn't go back to sleep until 8 AM (at which point Cassius is usually awake, so I do not get to nap with her). This is a little hard on me. For instance, yesterday she went to sleep around midnight, and this morning she was awake at 5 AM. And then would not sleep again. My current morning routine, then, is to nurse her, grab a cup of (non-caf) tea and a piece of fruit, plop her in the bouncy seat in my study, and try to get anything done while she's in there. When she starts to fuss again, I try to nurse her to sleep. If Cassius is not yet awake, I try to sleep too. When Cassius wakes up, it's time for normal breakfast and the day really begins. On weekends this is a bit better because Phil takes the morning shift after 8 AM, but during the week, the second day in a row of less than 6 hours of sleep is Not Good. I don't care what Phil's coworker says, functioning on 5-6 hours of sleep is not a good idea for *this* person.

Only one pill left for Fu Manchu, and then hopefully we'll be done with his mysterious skin rash. Dear Lord, please let us be done. Phil refuses to pill the cat because he claims that something about testosterone makes Fu Manchu react extra badly. To be fair, he appears to be correct.

Cassius' speech is getting very good. At this point, probably 90% of what he says is understandable. I will miss his, "Oh, yles!" exclamations when he starts just saying, "Yes." And his, "Maybe NOT!" is hilarious. I do kind of wish he'd waited a while longer before he started complaining, "Not fair!" Phil blames himself for that one. Cassius is also fully into imaginative play, both for himself and for his toys. Train engines, fire fighters, and going to the library for books feature prominently. Phil has had a talk with him about the importance of *not* saying that there is a fire in his bedroom.

This was a good week for writing, if only because on Sunday I got to go to a coffee shop and write for about three hours while Phil kept watch over the sleeping children. In that time, I got more written than I have on any other day so far this year. And I enjoyed visiting the new neighborhood coffee shop, Five Watts Coffee. I hope they'll stick around. It's a pleasant space, easy to get to, and they do interesting experiments with their coffee drinks.

I am very close to writing the last scene of "You May Also Like Gas Masks," which makes me happy because then I can tackle the Big Difficult Thing, and finishing *that* is going to be a big huge happy-making relief. The Big Difficult Thing is writing/rewriting the dramatic ending of the first book of Circus of Brass and Bone. Where it should have been in the beginning. As I would have known if I paid attention to my writing instead of to my outline, instead of writing an extra 40+ thousand words! All part of my quest to "finish it properly" before I resumed posting episodes after the life-sucks hiatus. (Yes, I will keep kicking myself for that one for a while.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Writing this at 6 AM on a Monday morning while waiting to see if my stomach is going to rebel against the cereal I just put in it. Usually I would have written this yesterday, but I was huddled on the couch hoping to feel better. I did start feeling better about 8:30 PM, but you see, I was sick on Friday, fine on Saturday, and sick again on Sunday, so I have no idea how I'm going to feel today. Seems likely that this is food poisoning from the Daiya cheese on the pizza luce I ate Thursday night. Which is very unfortunate, since Pizza Luce is one of the few "easy" places to go out to eat dairy-free and soy-free. So yes, that has been my last few days. Food poisoning. Or stomach flu. Something along those lines. As late as Friday, we thought Phil might be going to California on Sunday, and I was not looking forward to that. Then that was postponed. Whew!

On the plus side, slathering Theia with lanolin 2x/day seems to be working well. Just last night I noticed a couple of new rough spots that I'm worried about, but the old ones seem to have cleared up fine. They are soft and smooth and no longer angry red. Mostly, I can't even see them any more. I did get a message back from our regular doctor (she was on vacation), in which she countermanded Dr. Not You's prescription and said, "No, do this instead." We didn't do that instead, though, since it took her a couple of days to get and respond to our message, and by that time the lanolin seemed to be working. It is made of costolium, but it is also the only lotion treatment that doesn't warn me to call the poison center if the baby gets any of it in her mouth. She's five months old. She puts *everything* in her mouth.

She has also mastered rotational movement and rolling over from front to back and back to front. I think she's actually going to be a crawler, unlike Cassius. We have procured cushioned mats for her to practice her rolls and crawling on. This is something I really wish we'd done with Cassius. Would have saved on skull trauma.

There is a new coffee shop that just opened up on 38th St & Nicollet that I'm pretty excited by, not least because they plan on sourcing their pastries from Patisserie 46. Sure, I can't eat anything *now*, but once Theia's weaned, the world of pastries will be mine once more! Five Watts is their name, and they're by the owners of Bull Run Coffee. It's a skinny little coffee bar with interesting looking blends. Sadly, I can't drink their specialty drinks because they mostly involve milk. And they don't really have space for a big table of 6+ people, which is how I tend to do coffee shops. But I may try and go there solo sometime, and I do like that that cross-street is getting restaurants and coffee shops moving in.

Almost got a black lab puppy from Phil's aunt, but fortunately he asked me first to check if I thought I could take care of a puppy now. Young dog: yes, maybe. Puppy: no. I have raised puppies before. They are delightful, and cause nearly as much work, cleaning, and sleep-deprivation as an infant. I already have one of those.

What else? Saw Only Lovers Left Alive with Electra on Tuesday. Went to Tea and Writers on Saturday, had a story idea, but one that is not of the tone that I want next. Mothers Day happened sometime, and now I have a miniature rosebush that I am not sure will live.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Skipped a week! That week that I skipped? I went to the Minneapolis May Day Parade for the first time EVAR! And it was awesome. Cassius liked it, and Theia managed napping and nursing during the loudest, sunniest parts. I took many gorgeous photos. Seasonal things keep the world turning and the sun rising and setting, right?

This week? Is lots, I will sum up. Medical issues. Tea and kid-wrangling with friends back from the Peace Corps. Story publications and submissions ticking along nicely, writing less so. Vegan mac 'n cheese really just doesn't work, but I keep trying. Devoured the most recent three books in the Chronicles of Elantra in one gulp. Beautiful, refreshing bike ride along Minnehaha as part of MinnSpec writers group meeting. Homemade rye bread surprisingly tasty. Mother's Day--hey, I'm one of those! And now I have a new stepmother, and the kids have a new stepgrandmother (or would that be grandstepmother?), so there's that too.

This week--well, this week there has been a lot of dealing with stressful but not life-threatening medical stuff.

About two weeks ago, Fu Manchu got a shot of antibiotics and a cone of shame (Cassius: "Fu Manchu party hat!") to keep him from worrying at a skin irritation that had become a sore on his tummy. It was getting better. Then he figured out how to lick it *while wearing the cone*, and also how to use the cone to scrape at it to relieve itchiness. This made it get dramatically worse again. And we don't really have an extra $100 lying around for yet another vet visit this month. Managed to talk the vet into prescribing an antibiotic and a steroid magic healing pill for Fu Manchu, without another vet visit. Pills are cheap. We're gonna need a bigger cone, though!

We've been dealing with a new, unpleasant skin condition on Theia since a couple of days before we left for my dad's wedding, almost a month ago. It's as if her body thinks that once we get one medical condition cleared up (her blocked tear duct), it's time to add another one. Initially, it was diagnosed as ringworm--we had it looked at while we were out of town. We treated it as such for a couple of weeks, but although the distinct markings on the first couple of spots faded, new red splotches showed up all over her body. Took her to our regular clinic (but not, alas, our regular doctor*) and the doctor thought it looked like eczema but wrote us a prescription for a treatment that would cover both ringworm and eczema. Got prescription filled. Read prescription information. Saw "not recommended for under 17 years of age." Looked on internet and saw not recommended because it may cause growth problems. Said, "What the fuck? Not okay for my 5-month-old, and why didn't the doctor mention this when I asked him about potential side effects?" Planning on calling clinic on Monday and asking for second opinion from our regular doctor. In the meantime, busy being horrified and helpless in the face of red spots. We are (desperate and) hopeful that switching laundry detergent and going back to the Johnson&Johnson Naturals baby wash that we were using up until shortly before this developed will clear it up. Maybe she's just having a bad reaction to Aveeno? That would be much more manageable than steroid cream regimens and a potentially stigmatizing medical condition.

* I do not like the doctor we saw. I specifically scheduled an appointment with "the resident" because it was Not That Doctor. When he showed up in the clinic room I was like, "What the hell? I made an appointment with Not You." This doctor is the same one who didn't know to tell me that I should avoid dairy AND soy to see if that was causing Theia's bloody stools. And who at this visit was confused and dismissive about why non-cow dairy might also be an issue (it usually is, for a protein intolerance). I think this doctor is not very well-informed. This may also explain why he's always available for last-minute appointments.

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Abra Staffin-Wiebe

September 2017

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