221 B Baker Street
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).
Mar. 4th, 2015
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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/259006.h
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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/258612.h
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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/25852
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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/25822
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:
- Lake Michigan is big, cold, and big. A storm came through the second day, so we got to see (and play in) some big waves. The Great Lakes don't have tides, so waves are unusual.
- It has some enormous sand dunes, and we climbed one of them one night to watch the sunset. It's fun to have kids that are old enough to appreciate that sort of thing.
- The town has a really nice children's museum, which was very welcome on Sunday afternoon. It was too wet and windy to play outside, so we spent the afternoon at the hands-on museum, where the kids had a blast.
- Sleeping in a tent, in late September, is cold!
- There are miles of beach. Some locals we talked to said that it is not crowded, even at the height of summer when the parking lot is full. There's even an area of beach just for dog-walking. Or, if you're Abbey, for finding dogs to play with.
Crossposted from http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/257530.h
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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/257150.h
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!
Crossposted from http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/256667.h
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: www.1acrewoods.blogspot.com/ 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 http://deerstalker.dreamwidth.org/256464.h
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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