You are viewing sherlockh

221 B Baker Street

Jun. 16th, 2015

10:54 am - May Reading List

 Almost forgot to a) track this and b) post the list for May.  I think my list for June is likely to be much shorter; June is halfway over and there is only one completed book on the list so far!

Lost Moon: the perilous voyage of Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell
Gripping account of the Apollo 13 space mission, by the commander.  Thorough account that is still quite readable by a non-expert
Tolkien and the West by Michael D. C. Drout
Audiobook/lectures on Tolkien's works, especially from a linguistic perspective
The First World War, by Sir Martin Gilbert
Best comprehensive treatment of WW1 that I've read yet.  
Miracle on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen
Read to the kids: about a post-WW2 family whose war scars are healed by grandmother's farm and the maple syrup run.  Impressive and touching.  1957 Newberry Award winner.
Crossposted from

Jun. 9th, 2015

09:59 am - Babies by two

This is mostly so I'll remember what happened, years from now when it's all hazy. But you're welcome to read all the details if you want! Short version: Naomi Nicole and Luke Payton were born May 25 and both are strong and healthy. Debbie and I are both running on half-sleep but otherwise everyone is doing well. Since a stay in the ICU (which for us would be in Toledo, two hours away) is quite common, that is good news indeed.

Birth story for Luke Payton and Naomi NicoleCollapse )

Pictures here:

Twins at Home Crossposted from

Current Mood: tiredtired

May. 6th, 2015

04:12 pm - Remodeling and Not-Yet Twins

 Last weekend we moved, although all within the house.  We moved into the new bedroom, the kids moved into our bedroom, and the twins have not yet moved into the third bedroom.  That required moving all but one piece of furniture, but at least nothing had to be moved up or downstairs.  Debbie has five nephews of young adult age, but do you think a single one of them had time to help us move?  But one of her sisters came over and she and I were able to move everything.  

The remodeling's done, though there's still a list of small items to do, which we will probably never be finished with.  But all the bedrooms have doors, and lights, and are painted, and they have carpet.  Our new master bedroom is the smallest of the three but has a bathroom attached to it, and our furniture fits well in it, somewhat to my surprise.  

The twins are due...any day.   I am predicting Friday: Debbie visited the OB/GYN on Monday and was only dilated two inches, but today she said it feels like it'll be soon.  That doctor is out of town for a few days starting Friday, I think, so we would like them to come before Friday or after next Wednesday.  I'm sure the other doctor would be fine but she is not as good and doesn't have as much experience.  

I posted some new pictures, including video of Abbey's ballet recital, at our photo blog:

The books-read list for April was not quite as high-brow as previous months, but I did get six books read:

Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull (Fablehaven series #3: Seth and Kendra fight an evil plague trying to overthrow the Fablehaven magical preserve.  Noteworthy for Seth's character development and the advancement of the series plot.  Re-read because purchased.) 
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  (Seth and Kendra discover that their grandparents are caretakers of a magical preserver where all manner of wonderful, dangerous, and creepy creatures live.  Seth inadvertently causes a catastrophe but he and Kendra save the day.  Re-read.)
Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull (Seth and Kendra discover that an ancient society is plotting to release horrific demons from their ancient prison.  The good guys need their help to keep the keys safe.  Re-read). 
Secret of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull.  (The news gets worse for Seth and Kendra, as the Society has captured some of the keys and knows where the rest are.  They hurry to find them and move them.  Seth keeps getting into trouble, though always with good intentions.  Sometimes he's even right.  Re-read). 
Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull.  (Seth and Kendra and their friends make one last-ditch effort to keep the prison locked, and make plans for what to do if the Society succeeds.  Re-read).
A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull  (Jason and Rachel accidentally fall through a portal into a new world, then get sucked into the resistance against the evil emperor.  Re-read).
Crossposted from

Apr. 1st, 2015

11:02 am - Bookness

 This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me even a little.  I love to read.  For 2015, I decided to keep a list of the books I've read and see what it looks like by the end of the year.  It will include audiobooks, paper-and-ink books, books I read for fun, books I read for work, books I read for church, and books I read to the kids (but not board books).

January: 3 
Churchill: A Life, by Martin Gilbert
Eyes Only: The Top Secret Correspondence Between Eisenhower and Marshall, by Andrew Rawson
A Soldier's Life, by Omar N. Bradley

February: 6
The Fall of France, by Julian Jackson
Henry IV, by Shakespeare
Hero, by Alethea Kontis 
Thursdays with the Castle, by Jessica Day George 
Pioneer Girl, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill 
The Door in the Wall, by  Marguerite De Angeli

March: 7
Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden (finished March: gripping story of the Battle of the Black Sea in October 1993, pitting 100 U.S. soldiers against thousands of Somalis in a 15-hour running gun battle) 
The Ruby in the Smoke, by Philip Pullman (set in 1872 London, a young woman seeks to discover the meaning of "the Seven Blessings" and her father's death.  Sound story, powerful characters).
Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey (first of Dragonriders of Pern series.  Coming-of-age story of a girl dragonrider and her queen dragon.  Acceptable plot and characters).  
Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey (first of Queen's Own series.  Plot was slow, characters poorly developed; too much tell and not enough show.  Reviewers said it was one of Lackey's earliest books and she got better).  
Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull (second of Five Kingdoms series.  YA; fast pacing, believable characters, fun fantasy)
The Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman (#2 in Sally Lockhart mystery series.  Slight continuity problem with Ruby in the Smoke [why does Fred not seem to care about photography any more?], but characters continue to be believeable, danger is keen, and plot is believable)
Ranger's Apprentice: Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan (coming-of-age story of a boy in a faux-medieval fantasy world.  Too much modern influence in military training and tactics, but otherwise characters are pretty well developed and it's fun to watch the boy mature)
Crossposted from


Mar. 4th, 2015

11:24 am - Update that happens...whenever I have time

I've been remodeling the upstairs almost every weekend.  The new bedroom (that used to be the kitchen) is painted and ready for carpet and a door.  Somehow I way overestimated the amount of paint required and had enough (and some) to paint the bathroom, too, so I did that last weekend.  It takes a lot of paint to cover that cheap wood paneling!  Also, bathrooms have so many corners that they take forever to paint.

We're getting a large tax refund, courtesy of the earned income tax credit, since Debbie is no longer working.  I don't know if it will be large every year, but this year we're going to put most of it into getting the house up to code, so that we can sell it.  Our real estate agent called the other day to tell me that there is a shortage of houses for sale, so it's a good time to sell.  And though the size of the house is workable for seven people, the size of the yard is laughably small.  We're hoping to move into a smallish house with a full basement (for hyperactive kids in the winter) and a big yard.

Debbie is doing fine.  She is about as big as she usually gets with one baby, and still has almost three months to go!  They are due in late May.  I think I'll be taking over the dinner-making duties pretty soon so she can slow down more.  She wants to keep busy, but it's hard when carrying so much extra weight.  She's getting ultrasounds about once a month now but so far everything looks fine.  We are expecting a boy and a girl.

I took the first Server 2012 class last week.  There are three classes and three exams: if I pass them all I get an MCSA Server 2012 certification.  That will most likely result in a promotion for me: my direct boss wants to promote me because the systems team is short-handed but he needs some leverage on the higher-ups, or so he says.  He's not always entirely truthful.  Having that cert will make it easier to get a job somewhere else in any case, so that would provide some leverage if he wants to use it and will be useful to me in job-hunting otherwise.  However, the exams are really hard---a friend of mine failed the first one three times and the second one twice----so it'll be a while before I'm ready to attempt it, let alone move on to the second and third.

Abbey's doing really well with her reading.  I need to make a point of having her read a beginning book to me when I get home: she's got the basics and just needs a lot of practice now.  Maybe it's time to introduce the Sorcerer's Stone to her?  She's only seven.  Maybe it would be better to wait another year or two so she's closer to Harry's age and can focus more on the plot and less on the mechanics of reading.

Ethan hasn't taken to schooling all that well: it's hard for him to focus, which is common with boys.  When we can get him to focus he does well enough: I heard him reading to Debbie and Isaac yesterday and was impressed at how well he was doing.  

Isaac is not doing a lot of formal schooling, of course, though I suspect he is picking up more than we think.  He loves loves loves to play with his big brother: when he was born I was afraid he might always be the third wheel to Abbey and Ethan, because they are so close in age and he is three years behind Ethan.  But actually it is Abbey that sometimes gets left out while the boys are playing boy games.  But as the oldest I think she probably handles that better than Isaac would.

Crossposted from

Jan. 5th, 2015

10:46 am - Holidays

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year's!

Summary: holidays were good; kids got lots of stuff; I started remodeling the upstairs kitchen into a bedroom; glad life is back to normal.

I thought we did better than usual with the gifts this year.  For one thing, Debbie wrapped most of them so I wasn't up until 2am Christmas Morning wrapping presents or doing "Some Assembly Required."  And I thought we made better choices: she thinks stocking stuffers are important (I grew up with stockings as decorations so don't care) but has, in years past, sometimes filled them with breakable or forgettable stuff that doesn't get played with and ends up being toy clutter.  But this year we (mostly her) got mostly things with lots of replay value, like Lincoln Logs and doll houses.  I got a new book (Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George), which I started and finished Christmas Day.  Saturday after Christmas we had the family Christmas and the kids got lots of clothes, and Ethan scored big with a Playmobil pirate ship, complete with shooting cannons. 

For New Year's we had a family party but left before 9: I'm not sure we have ever stayed until midnight.  After you do that a few times staying up late isn't that exciting.  And anyway, we have too many small children for them to be up so late.  For the rest of the New Year's holiday, I worked on remodeling the upstairs.  It used to be a separate apartment, and now we need to make the kitchen into a master bedroom.  I tore out the cabinets and knocked down the plaster ceiling of the bathroom closet, which was cracking.  Then I insulated the closet and drywalled it: it's built under the eaves so there are some odd angles, so both cutting the drywall and spreading the first layer of mud took longer than I expected (but all projects take longer than I expect!).  There's a hole in the kitchen/bedroom ceiling where the upper cabinet was: I patched it but discovered that something about the ceiling is not level, so neither is my patch.  Next Saturday I'll need to redo it to disguise the not-levelness, since redoing the entire ceiling (which is really the right solution) is too expensive in both money and time.  We hope that I can put in an hour or two an evening this week and have the closet ready to paint by the end of the week.  So, with luck, we can paint the closet and the bedroom in probably two weeks and then move in. 

The whole point of this is to make room for the twins: there are three bedrooms upstairs, or will be.  Our three older kids will all move into the big room, Debbie and I will be in the smaller room that has an attached bathroom, and the twins will be in the third bedroom.  We should fit without being too crowded.

There are lots of new pictures posted, including the official Christmas photos and Abbey's birthday photos.
Crossposted from


Dec. 11th, 2014

10:03 am - Twins!

Debbie had her first ultrasound last Friday, and I went with her because that is what good husbands and fathers do.  Unusually, the doctor himself did the ultrasound rather than the tech. 

He put the wand down and immediately said, "Twins!" 

Dumbfounded, I said, "Seriously""

"Yes!  See!"  And he pointed out each of them.

In previous ultrasounds, all I could see was gray blobs that could've been anything: liver, pancreas, baby.  But this time I could clearly see two heads, along with various arms and legs.  So there is no doubt whatsoever: we are having twins. 

As you might expect, this is rather overwhelming.  We planned to stop at four, and in fact had already decided that if this pregnancy did not work, we weren't going to try any more---as in we were going to actively use protection or do a vasectomy, since we weren't intentionally trying anyway.  And now we are looking at five children! 

Naturally, last summer at our garage sale we put out our baby stuff and sold our double stroller, our high chair, our bouncy chair, and our baby swing.  Selling baby things seems to be directly linked to fertility.  We do still have lots of baby clothes, though I'm sure we'll need more than we have, with two at once. 

Before you ask, no, there is no history of twins in our families.  We each have a set of twins three or four generations back but I don't think that counts.  There is a genetic correlation with fraternal twins, while identicals is just luck.  However, older mothers (35 or older) are more likely to have fraternal twins, because they have higher levels of the FSH hormone.  Much simplified, it means that older women are more likely to release two eggs at once instead of just one.  Also, the most common form of fraternal twins is boy-girl.  That doesn't make much sense to me, unless the eggs aren't released or don't reach the womb at once.  XY sperm swim faster but don't live as long as the XX sperm, so if the second egg arrives after the XY sperm have died but before the XX sperm arrive, that would account for the difference.

Debbie is on week 14, I think, and the doctor has already said that she will be on bed rest by the six-month mark.  She'll be as big by then as a full-term single, so the idea is to lessen the pressure on the cervix and prevent early labor.  Although the medical research on this is divided: there doesn't seem to be any actual evidence that bed rest helps prevent premature labor.  Nevertheless, this doctor has been delivering babies for 19 years---including many twins---so Debbie is comfortable following his advice.

We've started making lists of things we need to buy or do.  In addition to things like strollers and carseats, we need to make some house changes.  For one, we're going to see if we can put an under-the-counter dishwasher in.  Anything to save time, especially for me since I'll be doing pretty much everything once she is on bedrest and for a good while after the twins are born.  And we need to remodel the upstairs bedrooms.

As you may remember, the upstairs was once a separate apartment.  We're using it as bedrooms now, but the living room and kitchen haven't been remade into proper bedrooms.  I think we'll need to do that: I can remove the kitchen cabinets and do some painting without spending much money.  Then we can put our bed in there and move the older kids into the big bedroom (aka the living room).  The kitchen will make for a very small master bedroom, but it has the bathroom attached so that makes the most sense.  That will leave the third room (currently the only real bedroom) to be the baby room.  We still need to put doors on the bedroom-living room and bedroom-kitchen, and carpet in the latter, but I doubt we'll be able to do that right now.

The due date is June 6, but twins almost always come early, so a mid-May birthdate is much more likely.  Which isn't really that far away...

Crossposted from

Nov. 26th, 2014

11:03 am - Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Two things of note:

1.  We aren't moving to Alaska.  They had four other candidates, plus me, and said in the interview that they would choose a top candidate and a reserve and let me know.  And I didn't make either slot.  Disappointing, of course.  Though I can't say I was looking forward to moving 4,000+ miles in the middle of winter!   That was Plan A: Plan B is keep working on training and certifications.  Once I complete them (SCCM 2012, Powershell, and MCSA) I'll be way more qualified for the same sort of job.  And, my employer will pay for all of them.

2.  We are expecting Baby #4!  Debbie has just passed week 12, so with the first trimester done the miscarriage chance goes way down (to about 5%).  We waited for that to announce.  The due date is June 6.  The first trimester was really hard on Debbie: lots of nausea and not much eating for her.  Lots more than with the other kids, though I don't imagine that signifies anything.  Hopefully the rest will go better for her.  This will be the last one, whatever happens.  We did look into vasectomies, but my insurance does not cover any part of it, and the cost without insurance help is pretty high.  So I'm not quite sure how we will manage that, but we do know we want to be done with 4. 

Crossposted from

Sep. 27th, 2014

06:10 pm - Fall camping trip

Last week we took a six-day vacation to Lake Michigan; we haven't had a family vacation since about this time last year.  Finding time to write posts is hard (I started this eight hours ago!), so here come the bullet points:

Lots of pictures at our photo blog, along with bonus pics from our trip to the county fair today:
Crossposted from

Sep. 6th, 2014

11:30 pm - Random Things

1.  I started reading Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen, which is the German translation of Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone.  I have forgotten a lot of German words, but it was not too frustrating, especially after I stopped looking up every single word I did not know.

2.  We are going camping next week at Lake Michigan.  The kids are very excited about sleeping in a tent!

3.  I'd like to learn the violin, but a) even a beginner's violin is about $300, and b) where would I find the time to practice?

Crossposted from

Navigate: (Previous 10 Entries)