Life with Elodie

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:59 pm
bjarvis: (Default)
[personal profile] bjarvis
Elodie is about 25 months old. She's a fun toddler, fully of energy, running everywhere, relatively short attention span, a growing vocabulary, and frequent bouts of frustration at not being able to express herself fully or simply being told no, what she wants at that moment isn't possible/practical/feasible.

In short, a perfectly normal toddler.

I've spent a large portion of my life around babies & toddlers so I'm mentally tracking her progress and development. My ears perk up when she suddenly uses full sentences, or fully articulates 2-3 syllable words. She has solid recognition of colours, visually & verbally. She gets shapes and can name the simple ones. She can recognize & recite numbers and letters although she doesn't yet get that the digits symbolize a count of objects.

There are things which come with this toddler which are new to my experience. This kid comes with her favourite shows, movies, music and games. And watches them obsessively & repeatedly.

I swear to god, I am going to burn down Mickey Mouse's fucking clubhouse before this month is over.

And what's the deal with this so-called Doc McStuffins? She's supposed to be a cute kid with a gig a toy doctor, but she's more like a capricious demon, bringing toys to life on her whims to perform for her entertainment, and she then silences them with a gesture, cruelly snatching away the life she once granted. With musical dance numbers. This is childrens' entertainment?!

Elodie has this particular game on her tablet. For each round, a series of cut-out coloured shapes appear on the left half of the screen, and holes which match the shapes & colours appear on the right. The child then uses her finger to drag each shape to the correct hole, matching shape & colour. There is a small caterpillar which obsessively crawls towards the place on the board where she last touched the screen, sometimes obscuring a shape or hole. For every correctly placed piece, the caterpillar acquires a balloon, and when all pieces are in place, the caterpillar floats up to the top of the screen and fades away as the board is removed and a new one is presented.

I've explained to Elodie that the caterpillar is actually a zombie which is pursuing her to consume her brain. When she completes the board, the caterpillar is released from his curse and his ghost floats up to heaven, aided by the balloons she earned for him. Otherwise, he's doomed to traverse the mortal plane, terrorizing toddlers like her forever. I didn't tell her about killing it with a head shot, but she has enough to think about now. She still plays but she seems more serious about it...

So that's my home life right now. Between diaper changes, anyway.

Domesticity Isn't Pretty

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:46 pm
bjarvis: (Default)
[personal profile] bjarvis
Our home life has become a little weird lately. Well, weirder.

[profile] cuyahogarvr's youngest daughter & her husband are expecting a baby boy, due Oct 5. Elodie, currently two years old, will be promoted to big sister, but I'm sure she's not going to enjoy having to share the spotlight with a younger brother. That's all good news and not that weird.

Maurita is experiencing something of a high-risk pregnancy, as she did with Elodie in 2015. And we're taking the same steps as before: she & Elodie have moved in with us so that she stay rested, have some help with Elodie, and so that she has constant company in case of any emergency. The husband, Lucas, is visiting & staying with us as long as he can, but they still have four dogs at their house which need attention & care, as well as his fulltime job.

We expect as well that the baby may arrive somewhat earlier than Oct 5: Elodie was a month early. In any case, Maurita will need some post-partum recovery time, and there will be a newborn and a toddler to care for, so they will be with us for probably a month following delivery.

So yeah, weird. We're once again up to our eyeballs in diapers, kids toys and other such family fun. For another three months, give or take.

So let's throw another layer of weird on top of that.

We had initially be working on a plan for Maurita & Lucas to buy the house next door to us. Our neighbourhood is much closer to Lucas' work so it would reduce his commute by an hour each way; we're near the Metro; our county's schools are much better than the ones in their county, on average; they would have a built-in daycare & babysitting service next door (ie. us).

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to come to terms with our neighbour. He wants to move to Florida, he's looking to sell, and he had a golden opportunity to sell without real estate commissions, but while he agreed to a particular selling price, he kept moving the goal posts in terms of the closing costs, post-sale access to the garage to remove his stuff at leisure, the closing date, etc.. After fairly intense negotiations through June, we collectively gave up on that plan. Tim has since admitted he was going a little far, and has approached us twice since to see if we would be willing to re-open negotiations but the kids have already found another larger place ten minutes' drive from here for the same base price. It's not as convenient a location as next door, but it's pretty good.

We don't have a closing date for their new house yet as we're still going through the motions of inspections and remediations, but there are no show-stoppers on the horizon and since the owner only used the house as a summer home a couple of months per year, there's no occupying family needing time to coordiante their exit. I expect a settlement date in early August. No renovations are needed, just some paint here & there to relieve the monotony of the existing beige interior.

The sale of their current house is taking more effort. We helped move much of their furnishings & possessions into a storage pod over the past few weekends, and it has been staged for sale. A buyer appeared at the first open house at the asking price, but there was a long (and rather unreasonable) list of contingencies the buyer wants. Yes, we expected some requests as fixing a stair bannister and unsticking a window, but asking the house be entirely rewired and the kitchen renovated is beyond reason. I presume it's just a bargaining tactic: they can drop 50% of their laundry list for a small decrease in the price of the house and appear to be reasonable, even when the list itself was utterly unreasonable.

The kids are taking care of some of the sensible items currently. Even if this current deal falls apart, they would still be needed for some future buyer. Since we helped pay off their existing mortgage, we have disconnected the purchase of their new home from the sale of the old, so they could walk away from this current buyer if needed, and perhaps rent out the house for a couple of years before eventually selling it. There are many options.

So that's my home life at the moment. Never a dull moment, although one would be very nice right now.
davidlevine: (Default)
[personal profile] davidlevine

IMG 7163
My second novel,
Arabella and the Battle of Venus
, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning
Arabella of Mars
, comes out this week! The official release date is July 18, but I have seen copies in two bookstores already. You can buy it from Powell's, University Book Store, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Your Local Independent Book Store, or Amazon.

Is there an ebook? An audiobook?

The ebook of Arabella and the Battle of Venus should release simultaneously with the hardback, from all the major ebook vendors, without DRM. I haven't seen any sign of the audiobook yet, but for the previous book it followed the hardback release by a few weeks.

Are you planning a book tour?

Yes! Here are the planned stops:

If any of these events is local to you, please come if you can. There will be music, costumes, and giveaways! Come in costume! Tell your friends!

What's the book about?

From the publisher: The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

What can I do to help?

You should buy the book, of course. Buying it on the release date is helpful but not necessary. If you can't buy it, borrow it from the library. If you can't find it at your local library or bookseller, ask them to carry the book. Also, it's extremely helpful if you post a review on Goodreads, Amazon, your own blog, or anywhere else people might see it. It's okay if you don't like the book! Even a negative review can be helpful if you say why you didn't like it. (Reviewer: "I hated this book! It has Martians and airships and girls dressing as boys! Yuck!" Reader: "Cool, that's just what I love!") And please mention the book to your friends online and off. 

Where should I buy the book? Is paper better than ebook?

Wherever and in whatever format you like to buy books. I get the same money wherever you buy it, and I don't care whether you read it on paper or on screen. There are benefits to me if you buy it on Amazon, but personally I'd prefer it if you would support your local independent book store. Or you could get it from Powell's, which is my local independent book store. You can even order a signed edition from Powell's, which I will sign for you at my reading on July 18.

How is Arabella of Mars doing?

Very well, thank you! It won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy and was nominated for the Oregon Book Award, Locus Award, and Compton Crook Award. Sales have been quite satisfactory, and the mass market paperback was released on May 30.

Will there be a book 3?

Yes! I just submitted the first draft last week, and it should be out about the same time next year. This third book, which is currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but might be called Arabella the Traitor of Mars, concludes Arabella's story, but there are more tales which could be told about other people in other times and places of Arabella's world.

How are you doing?

As you know, the last year has been an extremely difficult one for me. But I am doing better, and Arabella's success has been a great comfort. I thank all of you for your support of me and of the book.

Quite the Week! Not quiet!

Jul. 16th, 2017 06:26 pm
mrdreamjeans: At concert in Sugar Land, TX, January 2017 (Default)
[personal profile] mrdreamjeans
This has been quite the week for events and activity!

On Monday, my friends Coy and JohnPaul welcomed their daughter Meredith Grace. JohnPaul's sister, Chastity, was the loving surrogate for the guys. I will be Uncle Neil to Meredith!

On Tuesday, as previously stated, I passed the Minnesota Driver's Exam.

Wednesday was my niece Caitlin and her husband Danny's third anniversary. My sister babysat Jordan so the couple could celebrate their anniversary with a night on the town. I also received a big box on Wednesday, an unexpected housewarming gift from Colleen. It's a stepping stone for my garden. (My mother loved her garden.)

On Thursday, my friend Tom Ruter came over to see my house for the first time. I made dinner. (This brief statement holds more import than the simple words:) All through dinner, Tom was texting with the governor's office about the closing of a key suicide prevention hotline. Tom is CFO of Canvass Health, a non-profit that runs the hotline. It was due to shutdown on Friday. At the last minute funds were allocated, keeping the suicide hotline open through the end of September. Tom was relieved and delighted over the news. He lost a partner to suicide; mental healthcare is an issue understandably dear to his heart.

Friday's goal was to get exercise and reading materials. Both were accomplished by walking to the new Hennepin County Webber Park Library. It's a half mile from my house there and a half mile back. I picked up two novels and have two on hold. It's a start.

Yesterday afternoon, I attended a fundraiser for a former co-worker at Associa Minnesota (formerly Community Development). Debbie's left her position as a Community Manager for HOAs for treatment for liver and bile duct cancer. It was an opportunity to see former colleagues, many of whom no longer work for Associa ... and to contribute to Debbie's cause. Debbie told me she thought no one would come. There were over 200 people in attendance for the spaghetti dinner/beer bust/ silent and live auctions and bake sale. I was highest bidder on two items, both baby gift baskets. The funds raised will help Debbie and her family pay off medical bills.

Incidentally, I received an email yesterday letting me know about an opening for a leasing manager at Huntington Place Apartments. It's the apartment community where I previously held the position for three years. I wonder what that's all about!

Today's a quiet day. Only country dancing is on the agenda and that isn't until 7pm. Starting on Tuesday this coming week my friend Steve from Little Rock will be staying with me for four days. He's completing a road trip to Wyoming and Canada and is driving out of his way to see me on his return home. Steve was my travel companion to Italy. During the road trip, he attended Longmire Days in Wyoming with a group of friends and then the Calgary Stampede! I'm excited for his visit!

Refresher Course

Jul. 12th, 2017 07:58 pm
mrdreamjeans: (EYES have it)
[personal profile] mrdreamjeans
One of the items I hadn’t yet checked off of list of things to do following my move was getting my MN drivers license back. It’s not as easy as you would think. When I moved back to Texas for two years I went to the Texas DMV office, filled out the application and received my Texas drivers license in the mail a couple of weeks later. Texas assigned the same drivers license number I’d had since I started driving when I was 15 years old. No written exam was required.

Both times in Minnesota there was more to the process. As I did a few years ago, I had to take the written portion of the drivers exam. This time, I knew to study for it! Over the past few days, I've taken six practice tests and read the MN drivers manual. My scores on the practice tests ranged from 60 to 93. I failed two and passed four. It's not a bad thing to take a refresher course and remind yourself of driving rules and regulations.

As I drove to the testing station, I was driving with fresh eyes. I was aware of keeping my hands on the steering wheel at 8 and 4 or 9 and 3, not 10 and 2. I paid attention to the colors of the lane lines and especially focused on the signage. There are lots of questions about signage, colors and distances. For instance, do you know (or remember) when you’re driving with your high beam lights on, you’re to switch to low beam lights when approaching traffic is within 1000 feet of your vehicle? Every potential traffic situation seemed to have a different distance.

On the way to the exam station in Plymouth, I passed an elderly lady weaving in and out of her lane. When I looked over, she had both hands on the wheel and was reading a newspaper! She was also under the minimum speed. A few miles beyond this example of poor driving, I pulled up to a stop light next to a young woman who was texting one handed, cell phone clearly in view. When the light turned green, she pulled away, still texting, her focus clearly not on the road. (I see that all the time and the MN manual clearly states it is illegal.

I was nervous standing in line. Behind me in line was a 15 year old with his mother. I told him my entire wardrobe was older than him:) He told me not to worry, I would do well. Sweet kid. Sooo young! After I missed one of the first two questions, (The minimum speed limit on MN roads when unmarked is 30MPH. I over-thought the question and chose 35MPH.) I told myself to trust my preparation and go with my gut. I passed with a score of 91%, higher than all but one of my practice tests. It was silly to be nervous, but I wanted my MN license back. By the way, they gave me the same MN driver’s license number as before! I’ll receive it in the mail in three weeks. What a relief!

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