Aug. 9th, 2014

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)
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)
Buttery Chicken Artichoke Linguine
No butter actually involved!
(from Dana's kind no-dairy, no-soy recipe email)

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups water
1 bouillon cube (soy-free chicken)
1⁄4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Parsley
1⁄2 tsp. marjoram
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 Tbsp. capers

Linguine noodles, cooked

(optional: 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese)

Preparation:

* Simmer chicken for 10 minutes in water w/bouillon, parsley, marjoram, and 1/2 the garlic. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 15-20 min. (Should be opaque.) Save the broth and let it cool in refrigerator.

* Cut up chicken and brown with butter, oil and remaining garlic

* Whisk together flour and chicken broth lumps are gone. Add to pan and simmer 5 mins. until thickened.

* add lemon juice, artichokes, and capers. Simmer 15-20 mins

* toss with linguine and parmesan cheese

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Abra Staffin-Wiebe

January 2019

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