cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Since we didn't get this out by Christmas ... or New Years ... I suppose this qualifies as a Valentine's Day Letter? Happy Valentine's Day! Hug the ones you love.




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

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

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

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

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

Phil & Abra

& Cassius & Theia

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

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
This 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)
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 (Default)
Again, doing a quick Monday roundup of my most recent Flickr favorites, in the interests of brightening up what is usually a rather blech day.



Mmm...tropics. This photograph is amazing in the large size (click on "All Sizes" on the photo page), as one can make out details that show the true scale of it.

Runners-up, in small size )

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

January 2019

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