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When the Gospel of Minimalism Collides With Daily Life

Some of you of you might remember my great ongoing downsizing/minimizing project.  And while I do think minimizing has value, it only does to a point.  Just like having too much stuff and buying just to buy is one extreme in the wrong direction, I feel like a lot of the minimizing blogs out there take it to the other, equally impractical or even harmful extreme.

"Throw out all your pens and keep only one!"  Yeah, but that's really wasteful and assumes you're in the financial situation that you could go out and buy yourself one pen every time you run out of ink. 

"Get rid of all your kid's toys!  They're have more fun playing with wooden spoons and thinks you have around the house." Trust me, they won't.  Plus randomly throwing away all a kid's possessions is more than a little traumatic (and you can explain minimalism all you want, from the kid's pov it's random).

Like most things, it's a balance.  Amelia had a birthday party recently (can you believe she's 2?) and got a shitload of toys.  This was followed by me donating a large bag full of toys she seldom or never plays with anymore.  I need to do the same for Finn soon (especially with his birthday coming up).  In general we do own too many things and I do want to downsize what we own, but to a sane level.  Because the truth is, this is awfully hard to live in:


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I have received my public librarian certificate!  I'm not certain yet if that's what I'd like to go into, but it does open up options.  Pay is stagnant at my new job, benefits aren't anything special and, more importantly, they've been making zero contributions to retirement for a year now and it was low before that.

I like the people here.  It's a pleasant, fairly flexible place to work.  They bill themselves, correctly, as child friendly.  But I've been feeling kinda stagnant here.  My indecision continues about staying or going but I'm trying to keep options open.
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 I went on vacation, well more like staycation, with my mom a week ago.  It was fun, frustrating, exhausting and pretty much everything else that comes out of vacation with my mother.  She came up with my niece and two nephews and the kids all had a blast.  She rented a house by the lake and Finn abandoned us for the week to sleep over with his cousins.  My mom had us on the go from bright and early in the morning till well into the evening.  It think were all still recovering.

The Boy (aka my husband, not my son) started his new job three weeks back and it's working out very well for him.  They don't pay or have benefits kick in until you've been working there for 40 days, so we're riding on my pay and savings until then and on my benefits alone as well, but after that, his job's benefits are better than either mine or his previous job and he'll get paid more so that's good.  We are in a position we can absorb the wait time, but I wonder about those that couldn't.  I mean, we certainly could not earlier in our careers.

My garden's growing.  I might be able to harvest peas, but haven't really had much chance to get out there in the last couple of days.  The person that opens the library has been out, so I've been coming in early, then getting the kids fed and driving them to track in the evening.  Tomorrow I'm taking a half day to take my son to the eye doctor's so I'm hoping to get a chance to go out there soon



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My husband started his new job today. It seemed to go well! I'm hoping this works out well for him. Twice he had changed jobs to follow me and both times found himself in place that made him pretty unhappy. He deserves a place that'll make him haply (as much as work can).

Finn and Amelia are sick. Ish. I think they'll both be well enough to go to daycare/summer program tomorrow. They both have sore throats and Finn had a fever last night. They are both doing better this evening and actually ate dinner (solid food as opposed to the endless juice pops they had today).

I've had a lot of angst over my hair lately. I finally found a cut (with bangs!) that I like and I'm getting highlights put in Friday.

We have black raspberries in our yard. The garden is slowly growing. The broccoli is doing especially well.
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 Saturday we attempted to go to my baby brother's high school graduation party.  Note the word "attempted."

At 8:30am we piled the kids in the car and waved goodbye to our house.  It was raining pretty hard, but we drove out of it and had an easy drive...until about 2.5-3 hours later when the car suddenly lost all power and transmission in the middle of driving down a major highway.

Fortunately we managed to coast to the side without anyone crashing into us.  My husband couldn't get it to start and we ended up having to get a tow.  The tow truck got us off the highway and plopped us off in a nearby town.  My mother didn't live far from where we were, so she drove up with the intent to pick up the kids and I while my husband looked it over and got another tow (it was a major state highway so the insurance couldn't get a tow for us, only special state contractors could do it.  The insurance would pay to tow it home or to a mechanic close to home).  

After munching on some really su
b-quality food, my husband was able to start the car.  Now we were on our way back home...but slowly and avoiding any major highways.

So, the back roads home.  We ended up taking frequent stops,a first partly due to the kids, who had now spent a loooong amount of time in the car and because my husband thought it was electrical and if the car got hot enough it would do it again.  At one point the car smoked a bit, but it was probably because someone flicked a cigarette at it.  At least, my husband couldn't find the cause and the car was still running fine at that point.

Then the storms came.  Yup, we got a massive rain storm that dumped 2-3 inches of rain in about an hour.  With a few fairly impressive storms that came before it.  For the big storm we stopped in advanced to get dinner and sit it out.  Yes, dinner.  We had been driving that long.

When we got back on the road, there was flooding in spots, people's driveways were washed out into the road, a few roads were closed.  

When we finally made it home, it was 5:30pm.  We drove from 8:30am to 5:30pm and never got to see my brother or the rest of my family.  Our basement had an inch of water in it and half our driveway was washed out and around our house.  The pond still looks like it's full of chocolate milk and the creek flooded over our bridge and over part of our backyard.

But, I'm thankful: we made it home, no one smashed into us, our house weathered the storm well, none of our dumbass ducks floated off. 
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 So one of the things I learned through 23 and Me is that I've got a condition that is kind of a little like Sickle Cell anemia except it isn't Sickle Cell anemia.  It's in the same class and within the same cluster of genes.  It effects the shape of my red blood cells.  It is largely asymptomatic, however and is likely to never really do anything other than impart a partial immunity to malaria so I'm counting that as a win.

I bought myself Zinnas for my desk at work.  They are very cheerful.  I could use the cheer because I've been feeling very insecure lately for no apparent reason.  I also bought myself chocolates. :)

For the first time in some time I've been able to get some reading done!  I'm reading American Nations, which is about how the U.S. is really formed out of eleven very distinct cultures with differing backgrounds and societal norms.  It is both interesting to read a not sugar-coated history of the founding of our nation and to see how those differences persist and inform our country's politics and culture wars today.  It is also nice to finally be reading something for myself.  :D

The garden is coming along.  We still have so much work to do, but we're getting there.


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Today's Amelia's birthday. As a present she got her toddler bed and Minnie Mouse bedding. Finn gave her sand toys and she and Finn got a sandbox earlier this week.

Anyway, I nust checked to see how she was doing on her first night in a "big girl bed."

...

I think the big girl bit wrnt straight to her head. She had taken her diaper off and put it "away" in the draw where I store the clean diapers. I opened the door to find her in the bed with her little nake tush in the air.

Thankfully she hadn't peed yet.
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23andMe

This had both some things I predicted and some surprises.  I knew I had some strong Irish, English, and Italian ancestry.  My Grandma's side is half Croatian so that wasn't a surprise plus my Great Grandmother's German (though looking through the report it's likely she wasn't 100% ethnically German and just didn't know it...she never did know her father so that's not a shock.) 

Now, I suspected that I had some non-European ancestry in me I just didn't know from where.  Well, it looks like I have a little African (north and east).  Finnish and Iberian were a complete surprise.  Pretty neat.

There's another more detailed report that gives you a more detailed breakdown that adds trace amounts of the Middle East and West African to the mix.
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My husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary last Friday.  I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that I am old enough to be married to someone for that long!  We hired a babysitter and went out to eat, which was great.  I rarely get that kind of alone time with him nowadays, with work and the kids.  It was nice.  We had Thai since it was what we ate on our almost first date.

The garden is slowly getting planted.  We have a quarter acre and around here you can't trust there to be no frost until around June 1st.  Then it's a made rush to get everything in!  So far we've planted: sweet potatoes, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, beans, peas, potatoes, arugula, and asparagus.  We also have the garlic that we planted in the fall.  We also have a large container herb garden planted.  We still have much to plant, but we're getting there...if only it would stop raining long enough for us to plant.  I have a small flower garden too.  Many of those plants are bulbs or perennials, but I planeted some other things including giant sunflowers (which I look forward to snacking on).  I want to plant more of those.  I also need to plant my calendula flowers (for beauty and tea) and buy some annuals.  I was thinking this for the border: 

They're miniature snapdragons from here.

In other news, the apple trees are doing well.  It looks like we should have a decent crop this year.  The grapes and wild raspberries are all loaded. :)

EBSCO vendors have been by and have been abnormally aggressive in their sales pitch, uncomfortably so in fact.  Just a warning to all you other librarians out there.  The two that swung by included one of the VPs so I thought that was the reason but my husband saw them a day later, without the VP, and they were still obnoxious.  Would you believe that their VP started lecturing me on how to get more money from my administration?  Unbelievable.  I've gotten several follow up calls.  They're only making me want to call up Proquest. :p


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 I had an odd "click" this morning about my father.  One that makes it a bit easier to make sense of him really.  

My father has always complained about his brother (my uncle) being gay by saying "He's handsome.  There were always a lot of girls at school that had crushes on him.  He could have had any of them.  I don't know why he went for men."  My dad literally could not understand why he preferred men when he had numerous women available to him.  It literally did not make sense to him.

My dad has also spent 20-30 years trying to get me to like Metallica.  Actively trying to get me to like Metallica.  When I was a kid and a teenager, he'd play it in the car during long rides (which we did often, as my parents are divorced and he'd drive us the hour ride back and forth every other week).  He still tells me Metallica is good and I should be listening to them.

Similarly, my whole life my father has been trying to make me like steak, particularly London Broil. (I will eat steak cooked a few select ways, but never liked it as just a slab of meat.  Stir-fried okay, but London Broil, yuck.)  He doesn't understand why I don't like it.  It's so good!

I know it sounds silly that it's only clicking now, but I think my father's completely incapable of understanding his tastes are subjective.  Everything has a right and wrong in his world, including what food's good, what music's good, what kind of sexual partners are preferred.  Then if I say I don't like Metallica, then clearly that makes me wrong, as wrong as I would be if I were to say 4+4=5.

Given that...other things start to fall into place with my father.  Like he has trouble understanding and empathizing with the limitations of others, particularly if he doesn't share those limitations.  My dumbass brother's still a dumbass, but it's becoming increasingly obvious he's got some mental health issues (possibly bipolar) and he has fibomalyasa.  My workaholic dad doesn't understand why he can't just buckle down, work 14 hour days, 6 days a week like my dad does and pull himself up by his boot straps.  The fact that he's currently holding down two part-time jobs and roughly holding his own steady, if improvished, existence at the moment is, to my father, more or less the same as him sitting around the house all day doing nothing but accepting handouts.  My father pretty much expects the same workaholic standards from every man (including one that he employees...he does own his own business).  You must understand that my own 9-5 type desk job isn't actual work.  He expects women to stay home and take care of the family...because that's how it works.  And while certainly there's more than a little sexism in that (and how he stresses that the father's the head of the household) in part it's because his world view is clearly right thus everything else must be wrong.

I'm not sure how that changes anything with my interactions with him, but it's certainly put things in more context.
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So let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there were two brothers living in NJ, fresh off the boat from Italy.  They met and fell in love with two first generation Italian-American sisters with whom they married.  The two couples moved into a duplex.  The resulting children were raised more or less by all four parents in the semi-chaotic Italian speaking quasi-duel households.  And for many years everyone was very happy.

Over time the children grew up and moved out, starting families of their own.  Then, one Christmas morning one of the brothers climbed the three steps of his nephew's family's house, rang the doorbell and dropped dead of a heart attack.  Then there were three.

Several more years passed.  The children of the original two couples began to enter adulthood.  The wife of the surviving brother began to feel some pain and discomfort but waited several months before going to the doctor.  When she finally did, it was too late.  He released her to go back home and die in the comfort of her own family.  During her last two weeks, she continuously made vague remarks against her husband to her sister and the children.

One month after her death, her husband remarried.

The affair and swift remarriage polarized the family.  The remaining sister hated her brother-in-law for his infidelity and refused to see or speak to him.  Moreover, she insisted no one else do as well.  Most of the family, scandalized, followed her lead, but there were still a few that were not willing to cut off the old man.  One of these few was a man named Vincent, who did not wish to disown his father, despite what he did to his mother.  So most of the rest of the family cut him out as well as his wife and children.

For decades this continued, long after the adulter, his new wife, and even the remaining sister had passed away.

Vincent is my grandfather.  

Recently my brother, D, stopped at the farmstand of  my grandfather's cousin.  Just because he was in the neighborhood and he felt why not buy some produce and see an arm of the family that I've never met?  My grandfather's cousin's son was there and the two struck up a conversation.  He told him how our grandfather was, that is, that he had Parkinson's and his heart wasn't so good and that he was turning 80.

A couple days later, my grandfather called him and talked with him for the first time in forty years.

Then, his brother called as well.

Then they called again on my grandfather's birthday.  There is no other present he could have gotten that could have compared to that.

My brother D marveled that to our mother this rift in the family was healing.  And she pointed out that he had been refusing to talk to our brother M for nearly five years and had done the same to me in the past six months.  And she pointed out that as wonderful as it is that they were talking again, our grandfather and his cousins and brother would never get those forty years back.  And she pointed out that not all family members lived for the reunion and that you just never know how long you have.

This weekend we celebrated my grandfather's birthday.  My brother and his wife both reached out and chatted with both my and our brother.  They let the kids play with each other and with their aunts and uncles.  They held my brother M's new baby and chatted pleasantly with his girlfriend.

Perhaps there is no present that could have beat a phone call from his cousins and brother, but to my grandfather, that was a close second.

Pictures?

May. 24th, 2017 03:02 pm
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I'd like to start posting pictures on here now and again.  Since dreamwidth doesn't host pictures, I was wondering what service everyone else used and how easy you find it to add pictures directly from your phone. 
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So some of you may remember the drama last Thanksgiving around my brother and his wife. Well apparently I'm not invited to their kids' birthday parties anymore. I'm so fucking upset right now.
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Bit By Bit, Trump Is Shredding Credibility Of White House Officials

"The president has gladly used up [White House press secretary] Sean Spicer's credibility," says Nicolle Wallace, the former communications director for President George W. Bush, a Republican. "He has trampled the credibility of [adviser] Kellyanne Conway. He has used up and sort of walked to the line of his vice president's credibility. And now it is it is H.R. McMaster's turn to expend his personal credibility in service of this president."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the New York Times in an opinion piece advised Trump aids to bail ship.  Meanwhile, the case for obstruction of justice is becoming more and more obvious.  One has to wonder how much longer Republicans are going to be willing to let Trump continue on as president when his poll numbers continue to linger in the basement, the Dow drops, and apparently most don't like Trump to begin with.  As it is, there are signs beginning to show that even the GOP has had enough.
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Back in the day, I knew someone that had a gmail account back when it was first coming out and was only in Beta stage.  At the time, you can only get a gmail account if you knew someone else who had a gmail account and they invited you.  So I got an account before most people.  The up side of this is that I was able to get a gmail account with my actual RL name.  

There's a downside to this.  While my name isn't super common, it's common enough that there are many other people with the same name out there.  And there email addresses are sometimes close to mine...close enough that I've gotten professional family pictures from Georgia, bank statements from Ontario, and iphone purchase receipts from how knows where. It's creepy.  I always email back that they have the wrong address and sometimes I get an "oops!" type response, sometimes silence.

I also get emails from Elaina.  They aren't many in number-maybe a couple a year-but Elaina seems incapable of understanding that I'm not her daughter.  I've gotten emails about dresses for wedding and various odds and ends, to which I have replied that I'm not the person she's trying to reach.  She'll sometimes hit reply and email me a follow up, totally disregarding my email.  It's not that bad; she doesn't email often and up until recently not about anything important.

This week she emailed me to tell me Uncle Chubby died with details about his cremation and some ballpark ideas for his funeral (it wasn't set yet).

Yeah.  

So I emailed back voicing my condolences and trying to stress that she has the wrong email address.  

To which she replied: "Not saying you have to go just informing."

Oh boy.

My husband says I shouldn't feel guilty; that clearly she's an idiot and I should just block her.  It might come down to that.  But I also don't want some woman in Minnesota (at least that's where Uncle Chubby's being buried) to miss her uncle's funeral.  Nor do I want to start some sort of big family fight.  I mean, it's not my fault, but I still feel like in a way it kind of is even though it isn't?

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 My husband has a new job!  He's pretty excited.  He'll start early July.  It'll be a step up for him and more pay so that's good.  

I've complained about work a bit lately, but while there are definitely a few grounds for complaint (like the fact that benefits were slashed), I think my greater problem is just a general sense of ennui.  I don't know if it is work or just me.  I mean, this has been, by far, the most pleasant library I've ever worked in.  The staff gets along well and even the greater campus is, on a whole, pretty easy going and pleasant.  But I just feel...blah.  I don't know if I really just need a vacation or if it has to do with the fact that I've been hit with one cold after another since October (I've been healthy for two whole weeks now, which is pretty much the longest stretch I've had) or if I'm just not satisfied anymore here or if I'm just not satisfied being a librarian.  I feel like this is such a first world problem, really, but here I am.  And I'm not sure what to do about it.

And tangentially related to being sick all the time, I've been sucking on cough/throat drops a lot since October and now that I'm healthy...I'm having some serious trouble with sugar withdrawal.  I want sugar all the time.  I'm trying to cut back.  

One of the ducks has been hiding her eggs.  We have not been able to find it.

Amelia's still scared of my dad, even though it's been a couple of weeks since he visited.

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This weekend, after my dad and his family left, we went to a local wildlife refuge that was having an event.  Finn got to hold a couple of owls, which was pretty exciting.

 


As for my dad's visit, it went fine.  Amelia never warmed up to my dad though.  She's at the age were kids tend to get shy around strangers but she usually warms up after a half an hour or so.  My dad, however, kept pushing her boundaries so he really didn't get anywhere with her.  Finn had a blast playing with his cousins.  They "camped" downstairs but the all went upstairs because they were afraid the coyotes were gong to get them. You know...those door opening coyotes.  You can never be too cautious.  

I'm exhausted from this last weekend and feel like I need a nap.

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I signed up for 23andme.  I've waffled back and forth on doing this for a while but decided in the end to do it.  It should be interesting to see where it says my ancestry comes from.  My family's background is pretty diverse as I know it: English, Irish, Italian, German and Croatian.  My father in law did it and discovered that he had a genetic mutation that effected his body's ability to metabolize Vitamin B6.  The doctor confirmed it and he's being treated for it.  He said a lot of smaller problems he's had his whole life have gone away.  And is very pleased!  It's genetic meaning that it could pass down to my husband and our children potentially, so it's good to be aware of it I guess.  I do think there's a danger into reading too much into it.  Just because you have the genes for something doesn't necessarily mean you have the condition.  At least, not for all genes.  I, quite frankly, don't expect many surprises health-wise anyway.

Monday the glass window in the library's main door was broken.  One of the students in the library was mad at someone outside and was apparently going out to fight them and punched the window on the way out with enough force to shatter it.  This wasn't just a flimsy piece of glass either.  So...that was exciting I guess.

Speaking of work, there was talk by the administration of taking away summer hours this year.  My campus closes at 4:30 in the summer, allowing everyone to go home a half hour early.  To put this in perspective: this year they reduced the college's retirement contributions down to zero and we haven't seen a raise in years.  I know we've got low enrollment but this seems needlessly cruel.  I suspect they'll find more push back then they might be expecting.  There was little complaint about the retirement because I think everyone understood the financial picture.  There is not apparent point to this.  ...Yeah, I have started looking for another job.  

My husband has an interview for another job himself.  This would represent a really big increase in pay for him and better benefits.  Keep your fingers crossed!

I have my first couple jars of honey jarred.  It's a beautiful gold color-or at least the first batch is.  Honey color can vary even within the same hive.  I definitely had some darker honey which I haven't processed yet.

I had a bit of a scare over my husband again Monday night.  I really can't go into it without giving away some personal, identifying type information but let's just say for a while there it sounded like he was in a potentially deadly situation but it turns out in the end that he wasn't in any real danger.  He's got to stop scaring me.


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 I got a new phone a couple of weeks ago.  It's okay, but I liked my Moto X more.  Mostly though, it isn't bad...except the spell check.

Spell check is way out of control.

It will "correct" normal words that you spelled correctly.  For example, it recently changed "hive" to "give."  I didn't misspell hive.  It just decided on its own that give was a better word or something.  It will even "correct" a work in the middle of the word.  For instance if I write "instance" it might correct it to "instayce" thereby turning my perfectly spelled word into gibberish.  I mean, WTH is that even supposed to be?  It errors more than I do.  Sometimes it will even continually fight you as you try to correct the word it wrongly autocorrected so that you're basically left fighting with your phone.

I might turn it off.

In other sad news, my hive died again this year.  I collected the honey and looked through the hive.  This time around it looks like I lost the queen sometime during the winter.  The hive numbers are low and there's signs of a laying worker.  The honey's still good and since dwindling numbers of bees means less mouths to feed, I got a good amount this time.

I think I'm going to wait a couple of years before going at it again.  Most hobby beekeepers still keep multiple hives because hives have a 40% die off rate and that'll be hard to manage while Amelia's little.  When she's around 4, I'll be able to do 2-4.
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 When I picked up Finn at the after school program yesterday, I was informed that he and a girl named Alexis got married.  Everyone was involved in the wedding and a reception followed directly afterwards at Denny's.  Then they had a baby (played by the also six year old Gemma).

So, I was warned they'd grow up fast but I didn't think I'd be dealing with in-laws this soon.

XD
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