February!

Sat 2/29/2020

At the end of last year when we were all really sick, our pediatrician told us that while Suzanne is in preschool we should expect her to get 10-12 colds a year (i.e. once a month). I've been reminding myself of this over and over, and so, when she got a cold in the first week of February, I was not surprised or upset, I just took care of her and helped her get better. Wendy got it too, but Claire and I managed to escape that round!

Wendy and Suzanne are playing together more and more, which is very heartwarming, if not sometimes a little stressful (fighting over the same toy, only wanting something because the other one has it, lots of yelling, etc). The good times far outweigh the bad, but I'm also reading some parenting books right now to try and figure out more techniques for dealing with meltdowns. It seems like a lot of it is just communication, and making sure everyone feels heard.

Wendy is growing so fast. Every day she learns a new word or two, and she is constantly in motion, running around the house, dancing (spinning in a circle), doing laps around the house. I'm trying to soak up these last few baby days before she's off to the races with her big sister.

We're not fully out of winter yet here in Santa Fe, but we have been getting a few nice days (sunny, in the 50s) in between bursts of snow. Claire and I ripped up some of the extra pallets from the delivery of Isle of Elsi and have been using the wood for various projects around the house. The first was building a new outdoor table for the girls. Their old one (built out of an old hollow-core door) was destroyed in the Santa Fe sun. Hopefully this new one, built out of solid wood with a coat of paint on it, will last a lot longer!

I also built a little outside step stool, which makes it possible for Suzanne to help with the chicken chores: dumping in table scraps and checking for eggs! Claire built a planter box so we can grow some veggies in the backyard when things warm up, and then I nailed together a bunch of leftover pallet wood to build a new shade covering for the chicken run.

On the self-publishing front, I finally finished up all my Kickstarter paintings and order fulfillment this month. With that done, it was time to set up the Isle of Elsi Store page. If you missed the Kickstarter campaign you can now order copies of the hardback book, the eBook and the Activity Book.

I also found out I got into MoCCA 2020! So I'll be in New York City on April 4th and 5th selling copies of Isle of Elsi. If you are in the New York area please come check it out! According to my records (aka this blog), I've been attending this show since 2005 and I always have a great time, so I'm really looking forward to this trip!

Wendy rode her sister's balance bike for the first time a few days ago and had a blast (wait 'till she sees what she's getting for her birthday in a few days! ;)

Our oldest chicken, Camilla, has been very lethargic and sad-looking over the last few days. Henny and Penny continue to pick on her (both literally and figuratively), but even so she seems off. Her sisters Attila and Natasha have both long since died, so maybe her days are numbered... It makes me sad. She has always been my favorite chicken!

As I write this, both Suzanne and Wendy are sick again (fevers, runny noses, coughing). I guess they wanted to get a jump on next month's cold!

January!

Fri 1/31/2020

My new year's resolution for 2019 was "Read more. Write more." I ended up reading about 50 books, which is the same amount I usually read (I'm on goodreads if anyone wants to see what I'm reading), and I didn't write much of anything. So for 2020 my new year's resolution is simply "Write."

After two-plus years of posting daily on Instagram, I'm burned out. I enjoy being able to look back and see my kids growing, but life feels overwhelming enough right now, just trying to get through the day, without also having to constantly document everything.

Anyway, in an effort to kill two birds with one stone I thought I would resurrect my blog this year, doing a monthly post about what is going on in my life. I'll dump some of the photos posted below on Instagram and link back to this post. We'll see how it goes....

Suzanne and Wendy are starting to play together more and more these days, which is very heartwarming. They still need to be supervised, but I can see the hazy outline of a future scenario where they are like sitting in a room together, playing with toys, and I could be using that time to do something else.

We read comics with Suzanne constantly, and it's been amazing to see how she will memorize an entire graphic novel, and then can flip through it herself and relive the story. She's really good with her letters and has started being able to recognize short words in picture books. The thought of her starting to read soon is very exciting!

Claire and I were worried that Wendy was a bit slow to start talking, but then over the last week she has started babbling a lot more and repeating sounds and a few words, so it seems like her language journey is underway! Speaking of journeys...

To avoid all the stress of holiday travel, Claire came up with the idea this year to stay at home in Santa Fe over Christmas and New Year's and then to travel up to Seattle to visit my family for Suzanne's birthday in mid-January. This worked great, the travel was very mellow, but man... Suzanne got really sick the day after her birthday and was barfing her guts out for an entire, horrible night.

The next day my mom threw a joint party for Suzanne, my sister Courtney, and Claire's step-sister Ana, which a few brave souls turned out for. Luckily no one else picked up the sickness! This was like Suzanne's third birthday party (one in Santa Fe before leaving, cake and ice cream on her actual birthday, then this party) so she was pretty excited, even after a rough night.

The absolute highlight of our trip was visiting the Seattle Aquarium to see the otters! Suzanne has been obsessed with otters lately, in large part because of their key role in Finding Dory, which we have watched many times. It was super exciting getting to see them in real life, and we had a fun time seeing all the exhibits with a big group of folks from our families.

Before we left Seattle, Wendy threw up twice. After arriving back in New Mexico Suzanne threw up twice, which then got me sick for another horrible night. There was a lot of barfing on this trip. It made the whole excursion a bit exhausting, but it still felt worth it to see my family. We are thankful to all be home safely, and healthy again, with no family travel plans in the immediate future.

One of Suzanne's favorite birthday presents is a triangle rope ladder thing that I hung from the ash tree in our back yard. While playing on it, Wendy wanted to try our swing again, which previously she had only been able to do sideways (straddling the seat, so she didn't fall out). She was able to sit and hold on, and now loves swinging for 10 minutes at a time. It feels good to be outside - I'm ready for Spring.

Penny has mercilessly pecked all the feathers off of Henny's head. She's also been pecking at Camilla's lower belly. It bums me out, but I guess that's what chickens do. They are tiny dinosaurs after all.

This month I was trying to catch up on all my CCS work while also digitally coloring book four of Mr. Wolf's Class by Aron Nels Steinke. These freelance responsibilities and the aforementioned trip also overlapped with two extremely detailed pages of Isle of Elsi. I only managed to ink them (no color) and on the second one I even needed an extra week, the first time I have missed my weekly page deadline in over four years.

I finished coloring Aron's book last night, and future pages of Isle of Elsi are far less demanding, so I'm looking forward to a calmer February. I'm going to be focusing on (finally!) finishing off the Isle of Elsi Kickstarter and Patreon fulfillment. If you're still waiting on any rewards, keep an eye on your mailbox!

I know this is a long post, but I don't care. I had fun writing this! I'm going to try and keep this idea going for the rest of the year if I can.

A Rough Year's End

Mon 12/30/2019

Every year I draw an image for the archive of this blog. It is often challenging to select a single image that sums up the entire year, but this year the choice was obvious.

In September we sent Suzanne off to preschool, which was her first time routinely hanging out with other kids in a group setting outside of the house. She quickly began bringing home a variety of colds, which then spread through the house. Usually to Wendy, then Claire, then me. Sometimes they mutated along the way, so that Suzanne caught them again (or maybe she just brought something else home?). This fall my family has been through countless fevers, runny noses and sore throats, bouts of vomiting, multiple ear infections, a herpes outbreak, and two rounds of strep throat for me, which was especially unpleasant.

Every parent of older kids who is reading this is nodding sagely and thinking, "Yes, yes, we went through the same thing," which is what we've heard from everyone in our community. Somehow though, I never got an advanced warning about this as we prepared to send Suzanne off to school.

I remember incorrectly assuming that Suzanne going to school was going to free up a lot of time. "Nine hours a week! That's like a whole extra work day!" I actually took on extra freelance work, and planned to begin all of my Isle of Elsi Kickstarter fulfillment in the fall to utilize the new time that would be freed up by sending her off to school.

Instead, we were sick continuously for almost two months, and I fell woefully behind on everything. I never realized how much of my freelance work schedule is dependent on the girls going to sleep around 7pm so that I can get another four hours of work in before going to sleep myself. That is all thrown out the window when the girls never go to sleep because they are up sick, or I do finally get them to sleep at 10pm but then I have a fever of 102 and so can't power through to get any additional work done.

Supposedly this is a process every kid has to go through (if not in preschool, then in kindergarten), to build up a "super immunity" to common colds. Our pediatrician told us to expect to catch 8-10 colds a year (i.e. once a month during the school year) for the next few years. If you've got young kids, here is my head's up for you: when you send them off to school, clear your schedule and expect your entire family to be very sick for at least the first 2-3 months!

Needless to say, it has been a rough fall and beginning of winter. I'm still not 100% healthy, and trying desperately to catch up on multiple projects that I'm very behind on. I thought I'd have a lot of stuff wrapped up by the end of this year, but now it's looking as though it will take me the first two months of 2020 to be fully caught up on everything. And that's assuming we can stay healthy! I am fully prepared for the cycle of sickness to begin again when we send Suzanne back to school after winter break. Hopefully we'll beat it all by the time Spring arrives!

 
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