Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Johnson Times, Issue One

Hot off the presses: Issue One is here!

(I tried to embed it directly on the blog, but I couldn't make it work. So, a link it shall be.)

And now, off to finish the last of the packing and hit the hay. Getting on a plane tomorrow night, and our vacation will begin!

Tomorrow's the day we go to say

When Amy & I were little, our family used to take trips once or twice a year to Grants Pass from Southern California. Usually, we broke the trip up into two days, stopping overnight in Redding, CA. I don't remember when or why, but somewhere along the line Amy & I started singing this little song, a couple of days before we hit the road.

"Tomorrow's the day we go to say, 'Tomorrow's the day we go to Redding!'"

It was goofy, but it became a thing that stuck around, forevermore. This morning, I sent Amy a text that just said, "Tomorrow's the day we go to say ;)"

All of which is to say (heh) that Tomorrow's the day we go to say, "Tomorrow's the day we fly to Frankfurt." ;)

(And yes, I did get a fair bit of packing done today. Accountability ahoy.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

T-minus Three Days

The second-to-last week of school: "Okay, next week I'm going to get down to business getting stuff packed for Italy!"

Last day of school: "Augh! Running around like a lunatic trying to be SuperMom and have art supplies bought and brownies made and Kindles charged and ready to go for when the kids get home two hours early! Wait...there was something I was supposed to do this week..."

First day of summer break (also my birthday): "Okay! For real! Packing this weekend! Whoo!"

This past weekend: *gets sidetracked by painting and gardening and knitting and reading and stuff*

Yesterday: "A LIST! I NOW HAVE A LIST! Oh geez, there are a lot of things on this list..."

Today: *finally starts actually putting kids' clothes into their suitcase*



(Ahem.)

I am nothing if not consistent in my packing procrastination. But! While I have been not putting stuff in bags, I have been taking care of lots of other details. Yesterday I sorted out the car (finally). Today the kids and I went to the bank and got Euros, and I got all of the administrative-y type stuff dealt with (mail holds, etc.), in addition to actually starting to physically pack our things. Tomorrow (no, for real, I promise) the plan is to get as close to done with the packing as I can, barring last-minute things like chargers and tablets and such. I'll be sure to check in here for accountability purposes. ;)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Countdown Begins

We leave for Italy in four days.

Holy crap.

In light of this fact, today was spent making a packing list and (finally) getting a rental car sorted out. The kids and I also took a jaunt to the mall -- Soren needed a nice button-up shirt just in case there's a call for fancy-ish attire on our trip -- and we went to Dave & Buster's while we were there. Eleri hadn't been there yet and has been begging to go, so it seemed like the thing to do. There were barely any people there at 10:30 on a Monday morning, so that was a big plus. ;)

Later in the afternoon, I took them to the pool. Soren has been trying to learn how to dive, and Eleri has discovered a love of belly flops. Such goofballs.

Tomorrow we finally, officially start putting things in suitcases! Eep! And we have to start putting our summer newspaper together. First issue drops on Thursday. ;)

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's summer! And my birthday!

*coughs and ignores the 3-month gap in posting*

So! It's the first day of summer vacation. Around 11:00 this morning, Tom sent me an email.

"What's going on?"

My response: "Oh, you know, the usual. Probably overly ambitious summer planning. Kids and I have decided to put together a weekly newspaper, so they're working on their contributions."

Hey man. My first-day-of-summer-break mom game is tight. Hell, my last-day-of-school mom game was also aces. I had brownies waiting for them when they got home. We made paintings. They got Kindles (though to be fair, we bought those a while ago, specifically so we wouldn't have to bring a lot of books along with us on vacation next week).

(Sidebar: Holy shit, we leave for Italy a week from today! Eep!)

So anyway, yes, today. We started the day with presents (yay, birthday!) and got down to business with the summer planning. We started making some learning goals for the summer, started sketching out some plans for things we want to do while school's out and we're home. There will be art, there will be learning, there will probably be exercise and pool time and excursions to the city. At least, that's what I'm saying now, one whole day into summer break. ;) Check back with me in a few weeks, and see if we haven't all reverted to full-on zombie mode in front of our various screens.

(I kid. Mostly.)

So, yeah. This newspaper thing. It was Soren's idea, but I think he didn't quite expect me to turn it into so much of a thing. Heh. It seems like a pretty sweet idea though, if we can actually keep up with it. Sort of a running record of the stuff we're doing. Eleri's got some serial fiction to contribute, we're going to keep track of our foreign language learning and the books we're reading for the library's summer program, Soren's making a comic strip, and each of them will have an article or two per week on something we learn about. Today was (at Eleri's request) the Mona Lisa. We watched a documentary with lunch, and Eleri did some Wikipedia research. Not bad.

Later in the afternoon today, we went on a photo walk (mostly so I could play around with the sweet new ring flash Tom bought me, but also because it's a thing I've been wanting to do with them for literal years. We took about a 45 minute stroll around the neighborhood, stopping every 100 steps to find some stuff to photograph. It was fun, and I'm sure the best shots of the day will also end up in our newspaper. Hell, if we can actually manage to stick with the project, then at the end of summer we'll have a sweet little record of everything we did. Here's hoping we don't flame out.

Anyway, it was a lovely birthday, capped off with dinner at Zinburger. Tomorrow, packing prep begins in earnest. :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What We Did on our Spring Break - Day 2

I forgot, at least three times today, that it was only Tuesday and not yet Wednesday. We're only on day 2, and already I feel like we've been at this longer than we have. ;)

It's not as bad as all that, though. Today, Tom had an off-site meeting that required him to meet a carpool at the mall a couple of miles from our house at o-dark-thirty this morning. The most sensible option was for him to drive the car there and for the kids and I to walk over and pick it up later, so that's what we did.

(Actually, since you can walk a route that's a lot shorter than the way you have to go to drive there, it was only about a mile and a quarter. But still more sensible for us to walk it later in the day than for Tom to have to do so in the dark, in his work clothes. Anyway.)

It was about ten degrees warmer today than yesterday, so, perfect walking weather. Everything is looking super lovely and springlike right now, too.


So we had our walk, had some lunch, had some sorbet after lunch just because, and then we picked up the car and met some friends at the kids' school so they could all play on the playground. Enjoy that weather! Run the children ragged! Spring Break! In the car on the way there, Eleri made a funny comment out of the blue, so after we got to the school and said hi to the friends and everyone was off playing, I tried to put the comment on her Twitter feed. Except that Twitter hiccuped while it was posting, and when I went back to retry, it switched back to my account (which I only noticed moments too late), and her tweet was attributed to me instead.

Yeah, you know... it's funny when a six year-old says, "There are lots of places in my mouth where you can see my tongue." When an almost 35 year-old says it... that's just weird. ;)

After a good hour and a half on the playground, we made a grocery run, then did some bike riding with the neighbors for more outdoor enjoyment. I made a damn fine potato-cheese-bacon-corn soup for dinner, and then the whole family went out yet again for another walk afterward, to enjoy the lovely evening and the beautiful full moon. We are definitely kicking Spring Break's ass so far. :)

Monday, March 21, 2016

What We Did on our Spring Break - Day 1

RESUMPTION OF BLOGGING COMMENCES NOW!

Ahem.

So, last week, we had some truly gorgeous spring weather. I opened up the house every day, we went for walks in the evening, the kids wore short sleeved shirts without sweaters to school. It was lovely.

Friday evening, a bit of a cold front blew in. The whole weekend was legitimately cold, gray, occasionally rainy. Whee?

Today, it was sunny again, with a high of 50, which is not quite "walk 3 miles round trip to the library" weather, but it's close. Darned close. So on this, our first official day of Spring Break, we had a suitably lazy morning. The kids played outside for a bit before lunch (wearing coats at first, though those were eventually abandoned once they'd run around enough to warm up sufficiently). After lunch, it was time to empty out our planters in preparation for this year's container garden.

About four years ago, we made these nifty self-watering planters out of giant Rubbermaid tubs. They were pretty clever, and worked quite well for a couple of years. This past summer, we only planted anything in one of them, as the other had basically been taken over by ants. After a handful of sun-baked summers and harsh winters, the tubs are now so brittle that they'll crumble if you so much as look at them too harshly. So, today the kids and I went about shoveling the dirt out of them -- and, for the heck of it, out of all our other containers -- so we can finally retire the broken ones and start fresh with the others.

I have to admit, I felt more than a little silly to be filling garbage bag after garbage bag (I think 17 in all) with dirt. But it's old potting mix, all full of roots and stuff, and it's not as if we have anywhere to dump it in our decked-over backyard. Half the things I read online say you should start fresh with new potting soil every year, and the other half say that's ridiculous and you should recycle it or compost it or sterilize it or just straight up reuse it again. In past years, I've tried to be somewhat conservative, emptying out some of the old soil and mixing in some new, but since we had to empty the big bins fully to chuck 'em anyway (and since I didn't know how many other pots might be harboring secret ant colonies), well... we'll be starting from scratch this year, ridiculous or not.

After that endeavor (and after we swept up all of the soil that didn't quite make it in the bags, because yeah, working with two small children and three small shovels on a windy day with the bags blowing all around, there were some spills), I took the kiddos to the library, to check out some Spring Break reading. Soren read Holes by Louis Sachar last week, so he got the sequel, Small Steps, today. He and Eleri both picked up some Rainbow Magic Fairies books, as well.

Dinner was pancakes and bacon. I didn't have any milk and didn't want to go out to get some, so I attempted to follow a milk-free recipe.

Note to self: Next time, just go to the friggin store and get some milk.

And that about wraps up our day! Tomorrow should be warmer, and we've got some good stuff planned for the rest of the week. :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day!

I have had this blog since 2004. How is it possible that, up to now, I have never managed to get around to putting up a post on a Leap Day? For shame!

Well no more.

For all that it's a special, bonus day of the year, I wouldn't say we did anything especially noteworthy today. Eleri had her 6-year doctor checkup (63rd %ile for height, 61st for weight, 20/20 vision, all good things). For lunch after, we had Baja Fresh (with churros as a treat), and then she went back to school, and I went to the gym. I did a 5k run with my friend yesterday morning, the longest run I've been on since probably before Thanksgiving, so I was pleased to not have completely dead legs today.

Tomorrow, the schools are closed for Super Tuesday. I hope they actually do get the record turnouts they're predicting; otherwise, I'll be pretty annoyed. ;) It's been quite warm the past couple of days, so if that trend continues, the kids and I will see about walking to the library tomorrow and enjoying the nice day.

Friday, February 12, 2016

TV Day

So, my mom's in town, as I might have mentioned. The kids had to go to school today, and it was too cold to go wander around the city, so Mom and I spent basically all day watching various TV shows. A lot of the things I've been enjoying recently, my mom hadn't seen (or hadn't seen much of), so we watched an episode each of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Master of None, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She recently started It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I hadn't seen, so we watched an episode of that. Then I put on Sense8 and we ended up watching 2 episodes. Sure, maybe it wasn't the most active day, but you can't deny we had a nice variety of entertainment. ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Visitors

When we moved here (which, as of next month will have been seven years ago, holy crap), we were lucky enough to have quite a few friends of ours from California move out here right around the same time. For all intents and purposes, we imported a ready-made social circle, and I have to say, it was pretty great. I don't know how many times in our lives we'll have the opportunity to do that, but it worked out really well.

Unfortunately, seven years on, most of them have moved/are moving away. The bad thing about DC is that it is fairly transient; people spend a few years here and move on, whether because they've been able to springboard from their government (or government-related) jobs into something better, or because (as is the case of many of the friends we've made since moving here) they're in the military and end up getting assigned elsewhere. The good thing about DC is that it brings a lot of people back for work-related meetings and conferences and such, so folks still have excuses and opportunities to visit.

This past weekend, we had our good buddy from Wisconsin, a friend from California, and two friends (plus their kids) who live here now but are moving away in the next month or so, over at our house. These were all people we hung out with frequently in Pasadena. I don't know what it is about having kids and then seeing your kids interact with your friends and your friends' kids; it's just neat. I wish we lived closer to family, and that Soren & Eleri could see their cousins more than once every few years, but living close to friends (or having them around) is pretty good, too.

But yes, hooray for visitors in general. This evening we pick up my mom at the airport; she's staying with us for a few nights. :) And then at the end of the month, our friend from Arizona will be here, and next month we're meeting up with friends from Kentucky who are coming to DC for spring break. Much though I long for teleportation and access to instant travel, I do have to admit that we're pretty fortunate to live in an era when long distance travel is fairly easy to come by.

All right, this post has been a little bit all over the place, and I'm not sure that I actually had a point beyond simply chronicling our recent and upcoming visitors, so I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up and finish tidying the house in preparation for Mom's arrival. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Snowzilla 2016

Shortly before I published that last post, it had begun snowing.


And then it kept snowing. And kept snowing.


And then it snowed some more.

By late Saturday, we had thigh-deep snow in the backyard. By Monday morning, after many hours of shoveling sidewalks and parking spaces, we had a pile on our front lawn almost as tall as me.


(Not super representative of scale, but trust me, it was a big mound.)

The roads were a mess (and some of them still are, even now). The schools have been closed since last Thursday, and won't open again until Monday. The government was closed for 2 1/2 days. For almost a week now, our whole world has been snow and slush and cold, wet clothes and sore shoveling muscles and stir-crazy kids.

Dry January is on a wee bit of a hiatus. ;)

It's all (slowly) starting to melt now. Neighborhood roads are gradually becoming passable again. The snow pile on our lawn will likely be there for another couple of weeks at least. Next week we're supposed to have temperatures in the high 50s again! This winter has been all over the place, for sure.

Some other good stuff (*cough*X-FILES*cough*) has happened in the last few days, too, but that is a topic for another post. ;)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Finally on the mend

Man, that was a hell of a cold. I am not at all sorry to be on the upswing again. Good riddance to the cough and the snot and the lack of ability to sleep soundly. Next week: first gym trip of 2016!

Er, if I can get there through the snow drifts, of course.

So, it started snowing this afternoon. We're projected to get quite a lot of it, with a blizzard warning in effect starting about 5 hours from now. Whee. The kids are, of course, delighted. They have grand plans for shoveling and snowman-building tomorrow, and they'll have plenty to work with. (There's probably a good 6-8" out there already, with more falling all the time.) I'm really, really, really hoping we don't lose power, not least because...

...OMFG THE X-FILES REVIVAL PREMIERES IN LESS THAN 48 HOURS!!!

*deep breaths*

Yes, yes, furnace and hot water and cooking and stuff. All of that.

(But also X-Files.)

Anyway. Yay for feeling better. Yay for snow (as long as it doesn't cause major problems). Yay for the return of my favorite TV show of all time.

Oh! I missed a few days of blogging, but I went to the barn on Wednesday for the first time since the end of summer. It was quite cold, and I was still in the process of feeling better, and I'm pretty out of shape/practice, so I took it fairly easy. But it was still nice to get out there and see Vanya and put my butt in the saddle again. (Even if it meant said butt was somewhat sore the next day.) ;)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tired of coughing!

I woke up with a cough on Christmas Eve. I have not stopped coughing since. I kept hoping it would go away. It did not. I finally went to the doctor's office the day before yesterday. She listened to my lungs and said, "Hmm, yeah, you've got some wheezing. Here are two inhalers and a short course of antibiotics. Let's see if that helps."

So far it does seem to sort of be helping? Except I'm still having ridiculous coughing fits periodically. And also now getting a sinus infection. I have had this cough for all of 2016, plus a week, and it is time for it to be done now, kthxbye!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Yoga Camp

A few days after Christmas, I ran across a link or an ad or something for a free, online via YouTube, 30-day Yoga Camp. I signed up and have been more or less keeping up with the daily videos. I'm currently a few days behind, but still trucking along. It's been really good! I like the instructor a lot, and I've been grateful to at least have something I can do despite the nasty cough I still haven't managed to kick. (I finally went to the doctor about that yesterday. Should be on the mend soon.)

There's a lot about yoga that appeals to me. I know it's not for everyone, and it's certainly not (usually) as much of a workout as running or lifting weights or even zumba, but I like having permission to slow down and be quiet and sort of let everything else go for 30 or 40 minutes. And goodness knows I benefit from all the stretching.

Anyway, I'm really glad to have found this YouTube channel. It seems the instructor actually has a ton of videos already posted, so there will be plenty of material available to continue on after these 30 days are up. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Finished!

We finished watching Jessica Jones tonight. What a wild ride. As difficult as it was to stomach, a lot of the time, I do think it was really very well done, and I'm interested to see where they take it (and the Luke Cage spinoff) going forward.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale

Over the summer, Soren and I read the Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce together. I've been trying to make sure that both kids are exposed to books with female protagonists, and in recent months I've read Matilda and Harriet the Spy to them as well. Then, this blog post by author Shannon Hale got me to seek out her book Princess Academy for Soren to read next.

He loved it, then read the sequel, and is working on the third book in the trilogy now.

I finally read Princess Academy myself last week, and I can see why it appealed to him. It's the story of Miri, a girl living not-quite-contentedly in a mountain village with her father and sister. She is forbidden by her father to do the one thing that all able-bodied villagers do, which is work in the quarry; she believes this is because she is so small and slight for her age. One day, a representative from the king comes to the village and says that priests have prophesied that the prince's future wife will be found there. All of the girls between the ages of 12 and 17 are required to attend an academy to learn the ins and outs of royal life, and after a year, the prince will visit and choose one of them to marry. At 14, Miri is among them, and though at first she doesn't really want to leave her family, she soon discovers that the education she receives at the academy could be incredibly valuable, whether or not she's chosen to be the future princess. She ends up saving the day in more ways than one, using her wits and courage.

There's a little bit of a magical element to the story (the villagers can communicate via "quarry speech" which is essentially a form of telepathy), and the worldbuilding is really quite excellent. I'm currently rotating through four different trilogies, myself -- in the last month or so, I've read the first in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper trilogy, Marie Lu's Legend trilogy, this one, and I'm currently working on the first of Dan Wells's Partials books -- and Soren was super chagrined when I told him tonight that I have two and a half more books to read before I'll get to Palace of Stone. "But Mommy! That could take you a whole month! I don't want to have to wait that long to talk about it with you." Which is a pretty compelling argument. ;) Perhaps I'll switch up my order somewhat. In any case, it does give me some incentive to find the time to get through what I'm reading faster. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Because it's been a while...

...let's have a Haiku-Tu. ;)

tickets are purchased
passports are ready for stamps
summer fun awaits


Today I bought the plane tickets for our summer trip to Italy! I'm extremely excited. It'll be the kids' first trip abroad, and it's going to be quite the experience. Though Tom unfortunately has to get back for work after the first week, the kids and I are going to stop in Germany on the way home to spend another five days with some friends who moved there a little over a year ago. It's going to be great!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The princess and the pea

Eleri told me that she'd had "such a hard day at school today" when she got home this afternoon. When I asked why, she said that P.E. was really tough. Apparently they had to scoot across the floor on little situpon scooter things, pick up a card from the ground, and scoot back. She found this to be far too difficult for her liking, and it sounded her entire day. I asked if anything else had been hard about the day, but the response was an emphatic "Nope!"

I am reminded of the fabled princess who couldn't get a wink of sleep because of a pea stuck beneath her many mattresses. Silly goose.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Well fed weekend

Last night, Tom made a tasty seafood soup for dinner. Among the contents were steamer clams, which were a little tough for the kids to navigate, but they ended up doing all right. Soren, of course, decided that the clam shells were beautiful and that he wanted some for his rock (and shell) collection, so we saved some and cleaned them up and let the kids each pick one to keep.


Making their selections


I thought this one looked a little like a dog wearing sunglasses

Tonight, we had spatchcock roasted chicken and vegetables with a sunflower seed risotto. Tom found this recipe toward the end of last week, and it was too intriguing not to try. Basically, yes, you make a risotto out of sunflower seeds instead of rice. It was a fair bit of work (you have to soak the seeds overnight, then blend up half of them, saute the other half with onions and garlic, boil off the extra water, then mix everything together) and probably not necessarily worth bothering with again, but it was interesting and tasted good.

For my own part, I made a vegan "cheezy" sauce to pour over peas and sauteed spinach for my lunch today. It consisted of nutritional yeast, flour, garlic & onion powders, some turmeric, vegetable broth, and mustard. I wouldn't say it necessarily tasted especially like cheese, but it was good. I'm glad I have leftovers to try with some other stuff later this week.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Jessica Jones

Holy crap this show. It's good, but dark, and the tension in the last 2 episodes has been so high, and they've ended on such huge, swelling, dramatic notes that I was sure, both times, that it was the season finale. And we still have three episodes left to go.

Part of me wants to just binge-watch and get it over with (it's been almost 2 weeks since we saw episode 9, and we just watched episode 10 tonight), but I also sort of feel like I need a break between episodes. Anyway. It really is very well done. Well acted, well shot, etc. But it can be hard to watch.

Okay! Off to bed now. Ahahahahaha.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Six Years Old

Eleri is six today!

Ooh, hello there
5 days old

More pony themed gear
One Year

Making faces
Two Years

Rainbow disco snow leopard in full effect
Three Years

Jan 4
Four Years

Five Years

Six Years

Man, those early days are such a blur now. A lot has happened since our (not so) little lass made her way into the world in between massive snowstorms. Happy birthday, Eleri! You are silly, feisty, clever, sweet and very much loved.

Rounding out the first week in photos

Jan 4
Ready for a nap

Jan 5
Amused

Jan 6
10-pack of puzzles!

Jan 7
Boy and bookshelves
Very serious questions

(More photos are up on Flickr)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Revived

The X-Files is coming back to TV in a little over two weeks. This is a sentence I never thought I would have cause to write. I mean. It's been off the air since 2002. That should have been...it. Right?

Enter the era of the revival.

All sorts of shows are coming back, some fully rebooted, some simply raised from the ashes. Girl Meets World and Fuller House are carrying on stories with the next generation, while Gilmore Girls and Twin Peaks are, like my beloved X-Files, getting limited-run miniseries with the original cast of characters.

Six episodes. It won't be enough, but it's so much more than I ever dreamed we'd get.

Sure, I have concerns. I've done my level best to avoid spoilers, but enough has slipped through the cracks to make me wary of the direction this could go, storywise. My concerns, though, are rather profoundly overwhelmed by the giddy anticipation that's only getting stronger the closer we get to air date.

This show was a huge part of my formative years. Like, even just saying that doesn't truly reflect the extent to which this show and these characters mattered to teenaged me. For something like six years (because I started watching in early Season 4), I lived and breathed Mulder and Scully. I ended my high school valedictorian speech with "The truth is out there," for crying out loud. To have it coming back... I'm still having trouble processing it, and it's been like a year since they made the announcement.

Except now it's starting to feel real. The two-night premiere is two weeks from Sunday, and I get butterflies in my stomach every time I think about it. Yes, that's dumb -- it is just a TV show -- but I can't help it. Gillian Anderson is going to be on my screen saying, "Mulder, it's me," and I am going to hug a pillow and squeal like I'm 16 all over again.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Book Review: Legend, by Marie Lu

Hey, how long has it been since I did one of these? (Erm...like four and a half years, according to the blog archives...wow.)

So, Legend. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend, and it was a quick and enjoyable read. The author's notes in the back of the book say that Lu was inspired by Les Miserables and wondered what would happen if the story were set in a completely different location and situation. And yes, dystopian, post-apocalyptic Los Angeles is rather a bit different from 19th century France.

(This is where I admit to still having never seen or read Les Mis, and then hang my head in shame. Yes. I know.)

Anyway. Legend. Legend is set up with alternating first person viewpoints, switching every other chapter between Day (a 15 year-old boy on the run from the law) and June (a 15 year-old girl training to be a soldier/cop). I liked the structure and felt that it really contributed to the book's forward momentum; I read through it in just a few sittings. There didn't seem to be anything particularly revelatory or unique in the story -- there were a few twists and turns, but nothing that really blew my mind -- but the entertainment value was still high. Even though it seemed pretty obvious even from early on that June and Day would end up as allies despite starting the book at odds, I liked both of the characters well enough to enjoy the journey anyway.

With plenty of action, plot, and character arc in its own right, Legend lays the groundwork for what promises to be an even bigger story in the rest of the trilogy. I'll happily put the other two books on hold at the library and stick them in my To Read stack.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Memory jar basket


I think I first came across the idea of a memory jar on Pinterest 3 or 4 years ago. The idea is pretty straightforward: Starting January 1st, when something good or memorable happens, you write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in the year's memory jar. The next New Year's Eve, you open up the jar and read through everything you've written down over the past year. I thought the idea sounded neat, and I said (at the time), "Yep. We oughta do that."

And then... I never did it.

Until now.

I didn't think we had a jar big enough for papers from all 4 of us, so I set up this basket. So far, I think only Soren and I have availed ourselves of the memory basket, but the year is quite young yet. ;) I'm hopeful that it'll catch on and we'll keep up with it all year long.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Back to it

The first morning back to school after any extended break is when I have the best shot at being an organized, on-the-ball Supermom. Today was no exception. I didn't linger in bed stupidly long after my alarm went off. I let the kids sleep until 8:00, figuring they probably needed it, but that it would be early enough that we wouldn't have to rush too badly to catch the bus at 9:00. Soren was, initially, terribly upset that he'd "overslept" (he's been getting up between 7:00 and 7:30 on his own for most of the school year so far), but I was able to coax him back into a good mood with just enough silliness.

Eleri has never been much of a morning person; more often than not, if our mornings are harried and chaotic, it's at least in large part because I've failed to rouse her from her bed early enough for everything to go smoothly. A minor disagreement or disappointment with regard to wardrobe (or acceptable options thereof) can set us back many unhappy minutes and put her in a foul temper for the rest of our time together before they're out of the house and on the bus. Today, though, was relatively drama-free. Everyone got up, dressed, fed, lunches made, teeth brushed, stuff gathered, hair done, and out into the frigid morning with smiles on our faces and with time to spare.

(The Friday before winter break, by contrast, had us sprinting for the bus. We nearly missed it. And I'm pretty sure Soren had run out of time to brush his teeth that morning. Hot Mess Express.)

So yes, the kids went back to school today, and Tom went back to work. The house was well and truly quiet, and even though I feel a little guilty saying it, it was glorious. Any morning I don't end up yelling at someone or running around like a lunatic is a pretty good morning, and today was downright lovely. Since my job went on hiatus in the fall, I've sometimes felt adrift and guilty about not doing enough with my days while the kids are out of the house, but a positive start to the morning set the stage fairly well for an overall productive day, catching up on laundry and errands and lectures in the Coursera class I'm taking. It was actually cold today, and I even saw a few little tiny snowflakes blowing around when I was coming home from the grocery store in the afternoon.

Anyway. I'm thankful for the good day, and hope tomorrow can be similarly productive and pleasant.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

First photos of 2016

Jan 1
New Year Sunset
New Year Sunset
Jan 2
Minecrafter
Watcher
Jan 3

Sparkly Butterfly
Adipose
TARDIS
TARDIS
Mooshroom
Cyberman

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Bookworms

This afternoon, the kids and I made our (mumble-mumble)teenth trip to the library since school let out. Returned a heap of books, checked out a heap more. Started reading before we even got out the door. ;)
We picked up lunch and went to the post office, where they also sat and read while I mailed some packages. Then we went to Barnes & Noble for... more books! (They each got B&N gift cards for Christmas, and I'd said we could go spend them this weekend.)

Both picked up Diary of a Wimpy Kid books from the library, and Soren also got Gregor the Overlander. Eleri got a Rainbow Magic Fairies book and a couple of picture books. Soren's purchases were a Minecraft how-to book and an origami kit (he has been super into the Origami Yoda series lately), and Eleri bought two Frozen-related books and a novelization of one of the My Little Pony movies.

I expect all of this will last them exactly... three days, give or take. ;)

For my part, I checked out Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce and Partials by Dan Wells, and I picked up the next of the Patrick O'Brian books for Tom.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Fresh starts and best intentions

This is probably a fool's errand, returning to an endeavor abandoned over a year ago. But yesterday afternoon, I was sitting with Soren and Eleri, recounting a story from several years back. "Hang on," I told them. "I blogged about this. Let me pull up the post." So I did, and I read it to them, and they laughed and laughed and asked for more stories. We probably spent a good twenty minutes going through old posts, reliving happy and silly memories from their baby and toddler years.

Facebook is all well and good, for keeping in touch and sharing the little day-to-day things. Twitter is fine, too (when I remember to actually use it). And maybe I won't end up putting more than Facebook-length posts up here anyway. But reading through the archives reminded me how nice it is to have a record. A proper one.

We spent last night with our neighbors, laughing and visiting and staying up way, way too late, ringing in the New Year. Today has been appropriately mellow as a result, with lots of reading (Soren & me), Dragon Boxing (Soren & Eleri), and Kerballing (Tom). We've got a couple of days left of winter break, and then it's back to our regularly-scheduled programming. I'll do the best I can to make sure that writing here again is on the agenda.