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221 B Baker Street

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

Apr. 30th, 2014

08:47 am - Peace and Quiet

It used to be instant messaging that was cool.  Then LiveJournal was where it's at.  Next came Facebook, which I try mightily not to use because privacy doesn't exist.  Now I suppose it's texting, which I rarely use because I don't have a bazillion friends who want to talk to me all the time.  In a few more years that too will be passé, I suppose, replaced by the next new social thing.  It's exhausting, keeping up with social media!

xkcd Morse Code
Crossposted from

Dec. 18th, 2013

10:07 am - Christmas, cats, exams

We did a lot of Christmas last weekend: first the Children's Christmas Breakfast at the college.  Cheap food, Santa Claus, Christmasy.  It's fun for me because I know most of the employees that attend, and I get to see their kids each year and watch them grow up.  And most of the kids are dressed up for their photo with Santa so there are lot and lots of cute kids in cute Christmas outfits.  We dress ours up too, and ourselves, so we can do a "formal" family photo.  You can see this year's photo (and a lot more) here:  Scroll down to December 14.

Then Sunday we had an ornament exchange party.  The family who hosted it really does Christmas in a big way, which is impressive, but my wife described the decorating as, "Kris Kringle threw up".  Abigail managed to steal "her" ornament back, which made her happy.  Isaac took Ethan's ornament off our tree and dropped it on the heat register, where it smashed.  Fortunately Ethan doesn't attach very much to things like that.

We are not at all done with our Christmas shopping.  It would be easier if we didn't have so many birthdays to also think about: mine, then Abigail's (and Debbie's on January 5), so it's hard to focus on any one gift-giving occasion.  We did count them up yesterday to see how many/what else we need, and I think we're making better choice than in past years.  My wife has a habit of picking cutesy gifts that don't have much replay value.  Unfortunately toys with high replay also tend to be more expensive.

The cats are venturing out from under the couch more often, though generally only for short periods when people are about.  Jericho is a brave, curious cat who comes out frequently and examines everything.  I need to build him a shelf he can jump to, from which he can oversee life.  He enjoys being petted but usually doesn't stay still long enough to get much.  Lily is very shy and never comes out if there is activity, but will curl up on someone's lap for a long time if it's quiet and people are just sitting or lying on the couch.  Although they both clearly like the adults, they dash for cover if we happen to walk towards them.  They have to decide to come to us.

I took a practice Network+ exam yesterday and did terrible on it.  But I still have time to study.  It's frustrating to study for it: there are so many concepts, terms, and (especially) acronyms that I can't focus on any one area, less I ace that and bomb the rest.  Any one topic only gets one or two questions.  Basically you have to know everything well---which is the point of the certification, of course---but does make cramming hard. 
Crossposted from


Nov. 14th, 2013

07:34 am - Network+ Training

Ethan's tricycle got stolen a few weeks ago, so we found him another one last Saturday.  Had to drive a bit over an hour to get there, but buying it used is a lot cheaper than new.  Since we were there, we took the whole family along and went to a kid's science museum place.  All sorts of fun activities that taught science.  They were a little above our kids' heads, but they enjoyed the place, even Isaac.

I managed to get the house prepped for the winter, and a good thing too, because it snowed Tuesday and is still here.  Usually the first snow is not until December, and usually doesn't last through the following day.  I think this will be a cold, snowy winter.

I am taking a training class all week in networking (Network+).  It's online so I didn't have to travel.  Lots of it I already knew at a practical level but I'm learning lots of theory.  The acroynms are a bit much though: there's got to be well over a hundred total, maybe multiple hundreds.  Every service, protocol, and technology has one, and often each one has a couple of types, each of which is its own acronym.  It's going to take weeks of practice to memorize them all before I take the exam.  And, of course, many of them I will never need to know again.

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Sep. 19th, 2013

10:02 pm - Isaac at 18 Months, part 2

Yesterday was Isaac's second appointment at U of M.  This one was with a behavioral specialist, as there was some concern from the pediatrician back at his 12-month check up that he was behind (he wasn't saying many words or pulling himself up).  This appointment was easier on Isaac: no scary elevators, and no poking and prodding.  Lots of questions from three different medical professionals about his behavior, his eating habits, etc., and then finally a set of behavioral tests. 

He was handed a cup, upside down, and "passed" by immediately turning it right side up.  He put the blocks back in their can, found the car when it was covered with a washcloth, identified most of his body parts, handed objects back when requested, and could easily follow directions.  I was surprised when he was presented with a piggy bank and plastic coins: his fine motor control is good enough that he could put the coins in.  She told us we don't need to come back: his development is perfect, exactly where it should be.

So that was very relieving.  Always a good day when the doctor says you (or your child, in this case) are fine and don't need to come back.  Then on the way home we got a call from the endocrinologist that we saw last week: they checked his blood, and both his thyroid and his Vitamin D levels are fine.  So really, there is nothing wrong with him, though getting his weight up would be good.

We think that he lost weight around 12 months because Debbie was working, he stopped taking a bottle and we weren't encouraging baby food because of frequent constipation issues, so altogether he wasn't getting enough calories for a while.  Since then (after we got him on baby food), his weight is fairly stable but hasn't regained.  So we will encourage him to eat more and work on some high-calorie foods for him, and hopefully get his weight back up over the next few months.

Crossposted from


Sep. 16th, 2013

09:33 pm - Isaac at 18 Months

We took Isaac to the University of Michigan Medical Center on Friday, to see an endocrinologist.  Back story: when he was born, he was somewhere around the 50th percentile for height and weight.  Now, at about 18 months, he is in the 3rd percentile for height-weight ratio on the WHO charts.  That started around 12 mos: he hasn't been gaining weight as fast as he probably should be.  And developmentally, he may be a little behind: for instance, he just started walking a few weeks ago.  He's roughly a month to six weeks behind the average, but not for everything, just some things.

So our pediatrician referred us to the U of M, which is the biggest, most advanced hospital in this area.  Isaac was very good on the long car ride, but he didn't like the elevators (the "ding" per floor scared him), and he most certainly did not like the white coats.  But we had a good talk with the doctor, who treated us like responsible parents and not as though we were mistreating him.  She ordered some bloodwork so she can check on his thyroid and on his Vitamin D levels, both of which are apparently indicative of whether calories are being absorbed properly.

I have a hard time believing he has a problem: he seems perfectly fine to me, if on the small side.  But it is true that he is walking and talking later than his brother did, and I can't argue with the WHO charts.  Hopefully they will either discover a problem and find a solution, or discover that there is no problem and he's just small.


Jun. 27th, 2013

10:13 am - Remodeling, family, and reading

The bathroom floor is laid, and they did a really nice job.  Tomorrow, probably, my friend will have time to help me and we can put the toilet and sink back in, and rehang the door, and then our downstairs bathroom will be functional again.  It's only been out of order since March...  I'll still need to cut and paint and hang a lot of trim, but I can do that any time, and may wait until fall/winter to do that, since that's an inside project and I'd rather spend the summer days on outside projects.

Hopefully that next project will be the pea gravel in the backyard.  That'll be much better for the kids to play in, especially Isaac.  He is so nearly walking: probably by the end of July he will be walking.  So he needs a place where he can safely play outside.  He loves the outside: whenever we bring him inside, he screams and points at the door, very emphatically! 

Debbie is home six days a week now, working only on Wednesdays.  So far it's working out pretty well: I think the kids are generally happier with her home.  Isaac is at a difficult stage: he wants to do and go more than he can, and gets frustrated so that it's hard to know what he wants.  I don't think he even knows what he wants.  So he has been hard to deal with, and that's made for some hard days for her.  But I suppose they'd be even harder if we still had a babysitter.  The other kids went through this stage too, so we just have to be patient.  So much of child-rearing seems to be about patience... 

I found a list of "manly" fictional recommendations the other day, and started reading some of them.  Finding good reading is often difficult, as many of you know (being fellow bibliophiles).  I started with Gates of Fire, a retelling of the Spartans at Thermopylae. Apparently they read it at West Point, and now that I've read itt, they are right to do so.  The best part is the discussions of conquering fear: the Spartans were not presented as iron soldiers who had no fear, but rather as well-trained soldiers who have learned to control their fear.  I followed Gates of Fire with Pride and Prejudice, mostly because it was the next book in the list that the library had currently available.  But I don't recommend that order: very jarring to go from the rough Spartan world of 480 BC to the English ballrooms of 1812!  [personal profile] katharhino (and likely other readers) will probably be shocked to know that I had never read it before, thinking it was a girl's book.  Well, I had read a super-abridged version that had about 20 pages: I recall being confused about why Lydia eloped with Wickham.  Anyhow, I really enjoyed it.  The characters were well-developed: it's very difficult to make a true-to-life flawed character, and Austen succeeded in doing so with all of the main characters.  I've now moved from 1812 to about 1920, as I read The Maltese Falcon.  Now I know where the hard-boiled detective genre comes from!

Kid photos here!

Crossposted from

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