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!
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.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
When one's spouse is essentially absent for three days in a row, and one has two very small mess-creators, it's a lot more difficult to get that post-vacation decompression/unpacking/cleaning done. Yeah. A LOT. By which I mean, it's still not all done. All our laundry tubs are overflowing with freshly washed but not yet folded laundry. I finally got around to unpacking my backpack only because I needed to pack it again with writing supplies for my coffee shop work-date. I'm still not sure how the dirty dishes managed to multiply so fast.

A week ago, we were out in Kansas for my widowed father's wedding. That is a post I need to make separately, because of all the little details I want to remember. And I have a ton of photos. We got back late Sunday night. Phil took Monday off as well, and on Tuesday he worked from home. Monday, we went to the Minnesota Zoo and had a pretty great "still on vacation" day. We brought our own ham bagel sandwiches, since I really couldn't purchase any food there and avoid dairy and soy. I still tried, since I had a blood sugar crash, but I ended up with a bag of chips and an apple and grateful for them.





Can you tell they're related?

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cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I think I've done a decent job of making up for the extended non-socialization of the last few weeks! On Wednesday, I went on my first solo+2 outing since Theia's birth! We went to the Midtown Global Market's Wee Wednesday and watched a live band doing children's music. This Saturday was the monthly "Writers and Tea" gathering at Patisserie 46 that a friend of mine organizes, and today (Sunday) was a MinnSpec meeting in Uptown, with Emma Bull as the guest speaker.

Of late, I have been discovering wonderful entertainment media that I somehow missed until they were well established and/or finished. This is awesome! Finding something I like, and then learning that there are nineteen more books that I can get *right now*? Best feeling ever!

In related news, I have been mainlining everything that Kerry Greenwood has written so far. Her Phryne Fisher series is a lovely set of historical cozy mysteries that I can apparently devour like a pan of brownies sitting on the kitchen counter. Which is a thing that gets devoured. Fast. They are happy reads with a wonderfully liberated and entertaining main character who collects other interesting characters like stray kittens. They are also occasionally written in ways that are structurally interesting from a writer's point of view. Generally speaking, two mysteries are solved in each book. You don't necessarily know which one is going to be the "main" mystery and which will be the side-line until you're quite a bit in. In one of these books, the big mystery that takes up the first third of the book just . . . drops away, most of the rest of the book is occupied with the second introduced mystery, the plot climax is the end of the second mystery, and the first mystery is solved as a minor postlude. In another one of these books, the first mystery, which opens the book, is NEVER EXPLICITLY SOLVED. The second mystery is, but all the reader is told about the first mystery is that Phryne has solved it and she'll tell her friend about it when she gets back. Which we do not see in this series. And yes, clues to the first mystery are liberally handed to the reader. Still, it's a huge departure from standard genre conventions to not do a reveal in the end. Kerry Greenwood's Corinna Chapman series is also a mystery series with an enjoyable collection of characters, and there is something to think about in how it handles its "fat, size 20" protagonist and her attitude towards her weight and her attitude towards other people's attitudes towards her weight.

I've also started watching Royal Pains on Netflix.

And reading the Jim Butcher Furies series. LOVE.

13 Years!

Apr. 6th, 2014 05:47 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Our household has been afflicted by The Sick for the last 2+ weeks. First Phil was sick, so I was doing as much solo parenting as possible and certainly not leaving the house while he watched the kids. Then I got the sick. At first, I hoped I was going to get a milder version than what he had--basically just a sore throat and snuffly tiredness--but as it turns out that was just my immune system putting up a losing battle. I got the full sickness, with the headaches and feverishness and general muzzy-headedness, it just took four extra days to manifest. You know, just in time for the weekend last week. So I didn't leave the house then either. I finally started to feel better as the kids got sick. Really, it's better than us all being sick at once. I guess. Poor sad feverish toddler got to watch a lot of Thomas the Train and Winnie the Pooh (AKA "honey movie!"). Poor sad feverish infant had a lot of trouble sleeping and woke up several times in the night (all the nights). I also now know what Theia's "whiskey face" looks like, because that's how she reacts to infant acetaminophen. It looks a lot like mine, actually! Complete with the full body shiver.

I did eventually escape the house this week! On Wednesday (?), I went out to watch a movie with Electra. Our first plan of seeing Robocop was changed because her car has started smoking, so the first plan of driving on the interstate to get to a theatre seemed like a bad idea (because as everybody knows, smoking totally destroys the stamina). Instead, we went to the much-closer Lagoon in Uptown, where we saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. In the end, I decided that I did not like the movie, in part because it threw in unnecessary downer postludes that kinda ruined it for me, and in part because there were a handful of jarringly brutal moments in it. Animal cruelty, I am not a fan of you. BUT! I also learned that the Lagoon sells vegan, dairy-free, soy-free chocolate cookies! SO excited by that.

On Tuesday, Phil and I celebrated our 13-year wedding anniversary by staying home and having a quietly romantic day while taking care of our poor sick kids. He came home early, bringing me tulips and salmon and Udi's double chocolate muffins that are allergen-free. Salmon is a really unusual thing to find in our house, so we stared at the instructions on the packaging and succeeded in making a special dinner out of it. Afterwards, Phil sat on the couch and looked through our wedding album with Cassius, who Phil says, "liked seeing pictures of his younger, skinnier parents." Given the people near and dear to us who we've lost since then, our wedding album is a bit of a tear-jerker. Later we danced to our wedding song--"Standing (Still)" by VNV Nation. Cassius wanted to dance, too. :)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
3/30/2014, Sunday, 15 minutes during afternoon naptime

I don't have much time to sit at the computer and type during my day-to-day life right now. Comes of having a two-year-old and a--four-month-old? How has it been that long since Theia was born (and when was that next doctor's appointment supposed to be?)? The time that I do have has recently been swallowed mostly by bills and taxes and the other things one has to do at the computer. If I'm lucky, there is a little time left over at the end for a sentence or two of writing fiction. My life feels unbalanced right now because of my lack of fiction-writing time. So why am I sitting here writing a blog entry during a little of that precious time?

I have kept a diary since I was very small. There is something about the marking of the days of one's life that helps with perspective, and with accepting that yes, there are accomplishments, and yes, one is making progress over time. At a certain point, I went to Livejournal, and that was wonderful, since many of my friends did too, and so I could read about their lives and really feel like I was seeing a slice of their life. And then most people left LJ, myself mostly included, and went to sporadic little updates and links on Facebook or G+ or Twitter. And really it is not the same as journaling. And does not help at all when it comes to trying to write an annual Christmas letter or pull together a scrapbook or what have you.

This post has become more about the medium than I intended it to be. I do not know if I will stick with LJ or make a stand-alone blog of some sort. I do not know if I will someday/maybe create a more writerly blog, as some conventional wisdom claims one ought to do, nor do I know what form that would take. Talking about writery things, you see, is often only of interest to other writers.

Fifteen minutes on Sundays. I can do that. I am a writer; I am easier in my skin when I feel that my life is constructing a narrative.

This week, I will say that I am currently quite sick, though I think I have started to recover. I am not feeling quite so lightheaded and stricken with feverish hot flashes, although I am still quite congested. I also have a bad case of cabin fever, since the week before I got sick, Phil was sick, so I could not leave the house then either.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
Lots of works start off promising something, but never deliver. Why is it important that books/movies/whatever keep the promises that they make? Panelists: Melinda Snodgrass, Sean M. Murphy, Caroline Stevermer, Abra Staffin-Wiebe

These are my brief outline notes for the keeping promises panel that I was on. The actual panel may or may not have discussed things quite different from this.

Negative promises: "I promise I won't..." Caveat: unless I do it really, really well. Much easier to get away with in a short story.

Be aware of genre promises. No deus ex machina, magic is real, crime will be solved, main male and main female character in love at the end.

Tour guide: promise sunny Caribbean and take them to Antarctica - some will like, but most don't have proper clothes or had really pinned their hopes on those sandy beaches.

Relationship promises may result in more reader emotional engagement--and greater anger if broken.

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Fiction can be a collaboration between the author and the reader - one writes down words, the other imagines a world out of them. Reader believes that they're building one thing, author is really building another--the whole thing can fall apart.

Breaking previously established world rules--works best if can establish as "characters were mistaken."

Think of books that failed the "Wall Test" - often it's because of broken promise
resolution not worth reading to
resolution betrays reader's understanding of main character, or how fantasy/sci-fi world works
failure or deliberate breakage of emotional tone and resonance
ignore the limits the story sets, and not in a good way
ending not really an ending!

It's all about proper cuing for the reader--for the casual browser in the bookstore!--down to little things like "there will be erotica in this book" or "bad things will happen." First couple of pages. Consider setting, hints of themes, warnings of hot button stuff, etc. But don't stress--should all be a natural and organic part of the opening! Some people use prologs to do this kind of thing. Be vewy, vewy careful.

Beyond the story itself, author promises can include things like
I won't be a dick
I will write more of this series
I will finish this book and have it out by such-and-such a time
This is the kind of experience you get from my books

Good to be aware of that kind of promise, but as always, "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch."

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All CONvergence 2013 posts: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/tag/convergence%202013

...aaaand, that's all folks! The end of my panel notes for this year! I also sat on the "Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Writing" panel, but I'm not posting my panel prep notes for that since 9/10ths of the subject matter didn't come up--so I can save it for some other day.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
These are my brief outline notes for the apocalyptic fiction panel that I was on. The actual panel may or may not have covered most of this.

I was on the panel with Fred Greenhalgh (lives off-grid, does The Cleansed podcast/radio drama), Matthew Boudreau (radio drama producer), and Ryan Alexander (mod - computer guy, hacker, Burner, etc.).

...I went back and counted, and so far I've brought about the end of civilization as we know it 4 times.

"Every death is the end of the world, every divorce an apocalypse."

Sometimes worldwide destruction is the only thing that seems big enough to speak to the pain.

All sorts of worlds come to an end on an everyday basis, whether that means the end of a relationship, a job, a dream, politics, loss of religious faith, shattered dreams, serious personal injury or illness, or the death of someone close.

Restarting of the world in fiction can give us hope that our small, personal worlds can restart as well.

Philosophically, one could argue that most stories in all genres are apocalyptic!

Undervalued skills--and therefore people--become important.

Esp. appealing to makers and hackers (not computer variety) - a chance to make society from the bones of the old.

Can emphasize the coming together of different groups of people.

For writers, a chance to rebuild the world better
bicycles are the best means of transport
hand-made goods are more valued
re-emphasize values

Lots of real-world stimulus for apocalyptic scenarios: global climate change, nuclear war (very earliest childhood), volcano that's a few years overdue on errupting that will make life impossible in the northern hemisphere. Or see world closing in around us with ubiquitous surveillance and ever-increasing legislation.

Feeling of accomplishment after reading some of these, as if we've done part of our homework!

Books: World War Z, The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham, The Stand - Stephen King, There Will Be Dragons - John Ringo, The Change series - S.M. Stirling

When one man dies, it's a tragedy, when thousands die, it's statistics, when millions die, it's entertainment.

Misc. things to look up: TEOTWAWKI, Lehman's catalog

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All CONvergence 2013 posts: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/tag/convergence%202013
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
CONvergence is not the most thinky of the conventions I attend, but I do have a smattering of notes from panels I watched. And a smattering of unrelated photos.

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How to Write an Interesting Hero

Are you thinking of your character as a hero, a protagonist, or a PoV? There are different nuances.

Flaws may drive action more than virtues, whether by giving in to them or overcoming them.

Science Questions

Quantum mechanics leading to consciousness outside the brain = very bad science.

The Science Behind British Sci-Fi

It is a huge resource use to have limbs (or extra limbs) if you can get food without them. Look at snakes!

Fun with panspermia.

Do remember that aliens could probably not eat Earth things or at least they'd have a funny effect.

On the other hand, invasive species tend to be generalists, tolerating a wide range of food, temperature, etc.

IMG_0569

Dystopic vs. Optimistic SF

Good site for science/fiction brainfood: http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/

The biggest pitfall of writing in a utopia is dullness and lack of conflict.

Beware writing in a solution to the dystopia that's easy. Multiple possible solutions (all with difficulties) can add good conflict.

Contemporary Sword & Sorcery: Leaving the Battlefields for the Back Alleys

The current trend is for small-scale epic fantasy.

I also wrote down a cryptic note whose meaning I have no clue about: "Prime Books, Yamamoto, Parker." WTF, past me?

Beyond SF 101

What are your goals along the way that benchmark your progress to (your definition of) success? It helps to know the mile-markers as well as the end destination.

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All CONvergence 2013 posts: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/tag/convergence%202013
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
This was the most useful (writing-related) panel that I watched. Although it was talking in specific about real, existant London, there were lots of excellent worldbuilding nuggets to take away.


London in Fact and Fiction


One effect of the Blitz is that there remain Tudor-era buildings beside the most modern of structures. Construction from radically different time periods is side-by-side because of the patchy destruction caused by the bombs--keep this kind of effect in mind for world-building.

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Clean-looking cement still exists in some places. The technique for making it has been forgotten since.

Often, old ruins (previous history) are discovered and quickly excavated before they have to be covered back up again so that the city can keep on growing.

Historically, "The X Arms" is the pub you'd go to in order to meet people from X profession. Bricklayers, etc.

The first city to invent or implement a new thing is the city that has all the errors and bugs. For example, the London Underground only has one track, so they have to shut it down every night to go in and clean, instead of letting it run continuously. (The people responsible for cleaning out the hair from the Underground to keep it from catching fire are called fluffers, by the way!)

Secret London: http://www.secret-london.co.uk/Welcome.html

Great discoveries are made in places that are horrible to live in. For example, the cause of cholera was discovered because of crowding and water pollution.

London has laws requiring the keeping/presenting of a historical object in public view despite it existing in a commercial space.

If you're writing something set in a foreign city, try having the PoV be a non-native to help cover for errors.

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All CONvergence 2013 posts: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/tag/convergence%202013
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
AKA the year of the 5-hour badge line! CONvergence keeps growing and growing. It's kinda crazy. This year they expanded into I-don't-know-how-many overflow hotels for congoers, they started hosting programming in a secondary hotel as well, and they had the Line of Infamy. As a "participating local pro," I got to pick up my badge in a separate, very short line, something I was very, very grateful for when I saw how bad the lines were (and these were the lines for picking up already-purchased badges, mind you!). While I picked up my badge, some poor woman came up to say that she'd lost her badge and needed a replacement. She was practically in tears because she'd waited in line for 5 hours, dropped the badge, and it vanished before she retraced her steps 30 seconds later.

IMG_0554 IMG_0553

I had an okay con. I did a little of almost everything, which I've figured out is the best way for me to enjoy CONvergence. Attend some panels, do some tabletop gaming, take photos of the cosplayers, participate in some crafty activity at Connie's Sandbox, listen to some soundstage entertainment, investigate the merch room, etc. It was a bit more challenging for me this year since a) I had no hotel room to retreat to (definitely a good idea for CONvergence if you can afford it!), and b) I was about five months pregnant. But money's tight, and the main reason I was able to go this year is that as a participating local pro, I didn't have to pay admission. A hotel room was out of the question. I was pretty wiped-out a couple of the days, especially before I figured out that as a pregnant woman, I reeeeaaaally needed three square meals in addition to the snacks available at consuite. Rice with cheese-broccoli soup on top is delicious but inadequately filling. Big thanks to the Merriams for inviting me to their hotel room to watch the opening ceremonies and Masquerade (go, Dana!) and to Danielle for volunteering to drive me home several evenings. The evenings were not so alluring to me since I couldn't drink (and needed to avoid loud music) and it was really difficult to tell if there was anything *other* than booze at a party.

2013_07_06_7768

Overall, I had a good time. Next year, I won't be going to CON, because I'll have a 6-month-old in tow. Practically, this means that the best way to attend conventions is to get a hotel room and have Phil, the toddler, and the baby hunker down for the duration while I dash between convention activities and the hotel room to nurse the baby. 4th Street is still a go, Wiscon is a maybe, and CONvergence is a no.

2013_07_06_7779

This year was my first attending CONvergence as a participating local pro. What this meant is that I agreed to talk on three panels, I didn't have to pay admission, and I got a much shorter line to pick up my badge (a much larger bonus than I was expecting!). There was also a reception, but alas, our annual 4th of July party was a scheduling conflict. I flipped a coin on whether or not I'd be able to get a ride there in time to participate, and sadly the answer was no. I spoke on panels about Apocalyptic Fiction, Keeping Promises, and Things I Wished I'd Known Before I Started Writing. Yes, I will be posting my talking point notes from the first two panels! Not from the last, because mostly we talked about other things. This whole sitting-on-panels thing has really made clear to me that having talking point notes is a great help, especially as a stress-reliever, but that they may barely be touched, depending. I think the panels went okay. I only had a couple of pregnancy-brain-related word flubs (28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later damn it!), and they were panels I enjoyed attending. I also got a good idea for a non-fiction writing article out of it, so we'll see how that goes.

2013_07_06_7839

As far as panels I attended, London in Fact and Fiction really stood out as having excellent material relevant to worldbuilding. Other than that, as is usual for CONvergence, I only took a smattering of notes.

2013_07_06_7801

All CONvergence 2013 posts: http://cloudscudding.livejournal.com/tag/convergence%202013
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Cassius at 6 months.

6 mo., 0 d. Hard to believe it's already been half a year since I had the baby! Time flies when your baby's keeping you busy. I'm amazed by how much and how fast he changes (and I'm not talking about his clothes and diapers, though that's also impressive). And I'm amazed by how much I love having a baby, especially given how uninteresting I found other people's babies. To quote parents throughout time: "It's worth it." Not in some distant, nebulous will-it-all-be-worth-it-in-the-end way, but in the right here, right now sense. It's a job that I really love, that I'm happy to wake up to every morning. In some ways it's more demanding than anything I've ever done before; in other ways, it's the easiest thing I've ever done. Even if he grows up to be a distant adult or a troublemaking teen, the rewards of the right-now are worth the work of the right-now. One of the lessons of parenthood is to live in the present moment--while, of course, making sure you have everything ready for whatever the next moment may demand.

2011_12_10_1570

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (manatee)
Why are there suddenly posts here? Well, I don't currently have a work-from-home project (though I did over this weekend and a tiny bit of yesterday), so I've been having more than an hour of writing time (which is what daily posting comes out of most of the time). And I've been wanting to post more than tidbits, so--voila!

I finally made it to physical therapy for the sacroiliac joint/pubic bone pain that I've been having. The pubic bone pain started 3-4 months ago, the sacroiliac joint pain more recently. Now I'm kind of cranky that I didn't push the issue with my doctor and get the referral until now. Turns out my hips are misaligned due to basic uselessness of ligaments in pregnancy, and that's putting stress on everything. So I now have a list of exercises to strengthen related muscles, and one exercise to realign things, and a belt designed to hold my hips in place. Hopefully some of it will work, and this won't get worse, and it takes care of itself once my ligaments firm up again. If not, further intervention will be necessary.

Also, I've started having sporadic painful contractions. This is normal and means nothing at this point.

In more mundane and happy news, I potted some of the miscellaneous spider plants I've had in water/starter pots for the last couple of months, and I picked 5 cups of raspberries from the raspberry bushes in our backyard. Both spider plants and raspberries are producing ridiculously much. I plan on adapting this blueberry tart recipe to use many of the raspberries, but I'm going to have a dozen or so unclaimed spider plant babies. Anybody want some spider plants?

Oh, and I sold a story!

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode 13


New words: 441
Total words: 75,648
Overused word: Lacey
Gratuitous word: nails
Type of scene: Time to go.
Challenge(s): Linking between previously seen/written scenes.
Which line is it anyways?"You said add a warning. I ain't no hand with writing, but I figure that'll do. Cook said we couldn't use it, so I ain't wasting food."
Notes: This girl sharpshooter character is kind of developing her own subplot.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log
* Submitted “Passings” to The Washington Pastime. I caught up! All 14 of my previously unpublished, ready-to-submit stories are out! Next up, submission status queries. Then edits (*shudder*) and attempts to sell reprints.
* And I sold a story! Which is good reinforcement for the whole “need to remember to actually submit things” thing. Processed acceptance of “Good Help is Hard to Find” by Bosley Gravel’s Cavalcade of Terror.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Sunday, I finished that work project and then puttered. Sorted out some stuff in the fridge, cleaned up some, had Phil trim my hair.

Writing Log
Notes: No Circus of Brass and Bone stuff was done on Sunday.
Other writingy stuff:
* Read Duotrope newsletter and updated market list from it.
* Submitted “Good Help is Hard to Find” to Bosley Gravel’s Cavalcade of Terror.
* Signed up for SugarSync for free 5G online backup/file sync (referral link: https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=dddaenx2wzs79) and set it up to automatically back up my writing files. Three cheers for automatic backups (and it saves versioning, too!).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (manatee)
I'm on the weekly doctor visits at this point, and look to be for the next, oh, 3-5 weeks. Even five weeks seems very soon now! I've sort of adjusted to being pregnant as the new normal--the idea of having energy, not being gargantuan, and not having the little guy kicking around inside me seems very strange, like a half-remembered dream.

Takeaway from today's appointment:
* The baby-to-be is perfectly average-sized.
* Heartbeat and activity level and all that are good.
* He's in the appropriate head-down position, but...
* ...he's riding very high, and doesn't look like he's planning on coming out anytime soon. Probably he'll be full-term+.
* Also, I tested positive for Strep B (25% of healthy women do), so it's "go in as soon as you start real labor and we'll be shooting you up with antibiotics to keep from passing it on."

We have a pediatrician selected. I have a physical therapy appointment next week that will hopefully help with the hip/pelvis pain. We've taken the childbirth class. We will be taking the "taking care of a baby" class this weekend. Every time I cook something I know is edible, I've been double-batching it and freezing half, to sustain us later. Thank you, in-laws who gave us a deep freezer for our 10th anniversary!

There's lots more still to do.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (candy)
Right. Now that I've finished up the work-from-home projects that have kept me busy for the last month (though there are more on the horizon), I may actually get some other stuff done. So what have I been up to lately (aside from being in the last month of pregnancy, which is a Thing in and of itself)?

Cleaning! There was a lot of cleaning up for the 4th of July Party, and a lot of cleaning after...for values of "a lot" that are less than previous years but significantly more than was getting done without party-motivation. Phil has figured out that he needs to take the lead on some of the to-do-type items, like the planting of the tomatoes. This is how I have tomatoes in pots in the front yard (though they're not really thriving, and I'm not sure why--maybe they just need more time to establish themselves) and two magnificent upside-down tomato plants hanging from the branches of the Russian olive tree in the front yard. They seem to be doing very well, and it looks really neat, so I think next year I will want to festoon all my tree branches with upside-down vegetation.

The 4th of July party was great. I think at peak we had maybe two dozen people, which is about the right amount for our backyard. Four of them biked here, which always makes me happy. I really enjoyed seeing people and being able to hang out and chat without really having to do anything active to make it so. Like go somewhere else, because that's so not happening. And there were many tasty eatables (special notice goes to Moffat's fantastic peach-and-berry pie), and a giant sparkler duel at the end of the night. The freezie-pops were also a good idea, and the Viking bocce ball did well. Phil was the only casualty that I know of. I was a bad hostess a few times because I thought Phil was taking care of things, when in reality he'd crawled away again. Ah well. These things happen.

Things started to die down when it got dark around 9, as predicted, though [livejournal.com profile] discoflamingo stuck around and chatted and watched Wire in the Blood with me for a bit longer. I've been meaning to post about that show for a while--I found it on Netflix Instant and I've really been enjoying the heck out of it. It falls under the "eccentric specialist helps police in their investigations" template--if the eccentric specialist specialized in serial killers, the show was grittier and more realistic than Criminal Minds, they were given a DOP/cinematographer far better than a TV show deserves, and the director was exposed to lots of Dario Argento films at an impressionable age. In short, it's pretty fantastic. And it's in the British model where each show is an hour and a half long and good enough to be released as a movie on its own merits.

I've been slowly whittling away at the massive to-do list--I'm down to only having three levels of urgent to-dos. I got a bunch of insurance bills straightened away, figured out who I wanted our pediatrician to be, got myself a physical therapy appointment that may help with the pain I've been having, and wrastled baby carriers (the baby carriers won).

There were other major events. Somewhere in there were two baby showers and a 4th Street Fantasy convention. I passed on CONvergence, though--I may be pregnant and crazy, but not that crazy.

I also may have lost the second job doing senior-sitting. The elderly lady had a bad fall (not while I was present) and wasn't doing well, so they checked her into more advanced care at least for a while, possibly permanently depending on if they think her husband is no longer still capable of taking care of her on a day-to-day basis in their apartment. It is sad for them. Although it was nice having the job as a back-up, the amount of work I've been able to do from home recently has been reassuring to myself and Phil that we will not be totally fiscally screwed now that I'm *only* working from home.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


I've been able to get more writing done. Not great amounts by my normal productivity standards, but at least a few hundred words a day. And I've sent a half-dozen stories out that were just lurking menacingly on my hard drive instead of doing anything useful, so that is *also* good. I am feeling better about things, even as I blow past writing deadlines. Well, I did give notice that I'd be doing that!

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January 2019

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