Friday, December 14, 2018

Probably the Last Weekend Reading Post of 2018

I have so many posts that I have half-written in my head. I even have a few that I have half-written in my little writing notebook that I carry with me. But my life has been a whirlwind lately: Busy at work, busy at home, busy busy busy.

Some of this is bad luck (Mr. Snarky got sick, I got sick, Petunia got sick), some of it is due to a scheduling coincidence that we saw coming but couldn't change, and some of it is due to the fact that I didn't fully appreciate how busy my new job would be at this time of year.

Anyhow, I'm burned out. I've got some time off work coming up, and I'm giving myself a vacation from as many of my other responsibilities and activities as possible. That doesn't mean I won't write anything more here until 2019 - I like to write and maybe I will write some of those posts I have half-written! But I am planning not to read as much news and other internet things, and so I don't think I'll write any more weekend reading posts.

I have pre-scheduled a bunch of Annorlunda posts and am giving myself permission not to do anything more on book promotion.This is not actually a particularly good time of year for my sales - although I think any of the Annorlunda books would make great gifts, I think people tend to gravitate towards longer books as gifts. One of the things I wanted to try again, though, was a post-Christmas "fill up your new e-reader" sale. Since I'm taking some time off, I set the sale up early. I'm running the sale only on my Gumroad store this year - it is too much work to coordinate a sale at all the other ebook vendors. The posts promoting it will go out after Christmas, but the promo code is active now: If you buy any of my books (or, for that matter, recorded classes) at my Gumroad store, enter the promo code FILLUP and get 50% off.

OK, with all that preamble out of the way, on to the links:

One of the things I'll be thinking about during my time off is the fact that when I'm 70, I want to be in the "regular exerciser for decades" group... and I think I need to make some priority changes to make sure that happens.

John B. Judis' article about the two economies is worth your time.

This Alexis Madrigal article about ChuChuTV and other YouTube channels aimed at toddlers and preschoolers is old, but I finally read it and it is really interesting.

This article about mammalian meat allergies is fascinating... and more than a little freaky.

Have you seen the article about the thesis advisor who hired mercenaries to rescue one of her students?

I found this Noah Smith thread about the immigration policies of Obama and Trump useful:

This is heartbreaking. Tech companies should do better.

Isn't this gorgeous?

I don't have many links this week, so here's a song I've been really enjoying lately:

And of course, a bunny:

I hope you all have a good weekend... and rest of 2018!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Beach Walks Are Wonderful Edition

I went for a walk on the beach today instead of my rollerblade. It had rained again (which is good, we need the rain) and I wasn't sure if my rollerblading path would be dry. Also, I fought off a cold this week and last night I was sure I wouldn't be up to rollerblading, and hatched the plan for a walk on the beach instead. As it turns out, I feel much better today and would have been fine to rollerblade, but the beach walk idea had taken hold and so that's what I did.

Everytime I walk on the beach I think I should do it more often, and I wonder what I could change to make that happen. I'll have to work on that. The obvious solution - move within walking distance of the beach - is not feasible right now, and even if it was feasible I'm not sure I'd trade the convenience of having my kids be able to walk to school for more frequent beach walks, as nice as those are.

But surely I can come up with a plan that gets me to the beach more frequently, so I'm going to work on that.

Anyway, on to the links:

Isabel Wilkerson's New York Times review of Michelle Obama's Becoming is as great as everyone is saying it is. Definitely worth your time.

But if you'd rather laugh in a LOLSOB sort of way... Alexandra Petri's take on the recent Republican shenanigans in the states where they lost is pretty funny. Here is a more serious rundown of what has been going on.

Adam Serwer is pretty persuasive on why we won't have a Democratic version of Trump anytime soon.

If you have TPM Prime, Josh Marshall's two summaries of where we stand after today's document releases are worth your time. John Reed's (free) summary at Slate is useful, too. As are many, many other articles, I'm sure.

The editors of Mother Jones give an overview of what Facebook has done to the news.

Ed Yong provides a pretty thorough look and the technical and ethical problems of the work that created the world's first gene-edited infants.

It is hard to quit using Amazon Prime because shopping is work. I will also say that figuring out which retailers are ethical in their treatment of employees and suppliers is also a lot of work.This is why I'd rather we have laws that set up standards but I won't start down that ranty path....

This is an interesting essay written by someone who was all in on Lean In and is now... not. My own feelings about Lean In and Sandberg are complicated. They always have been, but are getting more so. I do think it is interesting that she's taking more heat for Facebook's corporate failings than Mark Zuckerberg is.

A historical analysis of Queen Elizabeth I's make-up.

This picture made me happy:

This thread is awesome. Hat tip to @gspeng for sending to to me!


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Weekend Reading: The A Little Bit Grumpy Edition

It rained here yesterday, which we needed. It was still cool and windy today (I won't insult my readers in places where it actually gets cold by calling my 65 degree F high "cold"). I decided that between the wind and the fact that the sidewalks by the bay are probably still wet from yesterday's rain, a rollerblade was probably not a great idea.

So I skipped that and spent 45 minutes on the phone with Dell tech support trying to diagnose an issue with my laptop screen. They had me run through the exact same steps I'd run through on my own following their online instructions, and then at the end told me that if I wanted to send the laptop in to be fixed under my hardware warranty, he'd have to send me an email and I'd have to respond to it right away - I couldn't wait until after the holidays.

I'd tried to get him to tell me what the "end game" was at the start of the call, but either I didn't express my question in a way that made sense to him or he wasn't allowed to go off his script. Either way, we wasted 45 minutes of both of our time, because if I'd known we were just going to run through the same diagnostic steps I'd already done and that any further steps would require mailing my laptop away for 2 weeks right before Christmas... I would have politely hung up at the start.

This all made me a little bit grumpy, so I went out for a run/walk in the neighborhood, and while that isn't as good as a rollerblade by the bay, it helped a bit.

Now, on to my links for this week.

If you read only one thing this week, read Dara Lind's explainer about the current refugee situation at the Tijuana border crossing and why it is a crisis we could have easily avoided. The number of people involved is actually pretty small and there have been multiple choice points where we could have chosen to de-escalate the situation and instead chose to make it worse. This is true of so many things in our current immigration mess. It is very frustrating.

Sometimes, it is worth saying what is obvious, and Josh Marshall does that: They All Lied. They're All Guilty.

Ken White's summary of what Michael Cohen's guilty plea means in the larger story is very helpful.

Republicans aren't taking their election losses all that well in some cases... this story out of Maricopa County, Arizona (my home county!) is an example. For what it is worth, having grown up there and still spending a fair amount of time there, I think the change from being the "Trumpiest" county to the 2018 midterms is in partly due to a fair number of white people my age and older who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary who now voted for Sinema with enthusiasm (I know of 3! Just in my own little social circle - two of my high school friends and one friend of my mom) and partly due a changing electorate as more younger people and Latinos came out vote. Paul Ryan has apparently also said mildly conspiracy-mongering sort of things about the California results, and that is just laughable.

Updated: Here is a tweet with Paul Ryan's laughable comments:

Meanwhile, something untoward does seem to have happened in one corner of North Carolina.

I don't know how much of the news about the Chinese babies born after having CRISPR done to gene-edit the embryos has made it into the general news cycle... but Derek Lowe has a pretty succinct summary of the reaction I'm seeing in scientific circles. This is not something any scientists I follow are celebrating.

This Twitter thread goes into some more details:

In happier science news: My 11 year old came home talking about watch InSight land on Mars, so I showed her this tweet so she could see some of the scientists celebrating, too:

I'm finally listening to Ezra Klein's interview with Anand Ghiridharadas about his new book, Winners Take All. It is a book about the problems with our culture of fixing problems via elites taking on "do good" projects. I've heard several other interviews with Ghiridharadas, but I think this is the best one. I'll probably load the book onto my Kindle to read over the Christmas break.

That's all for this week. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Oh... almost forgot to end with a bunny:

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Not a Weekend Reading Post

I hope everyone is having a good weekend, and that all my American readers are having a great Thanksgiving weekend. I am. My parents are in town visiting. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day (despite some panic about a turkey that cooked faster than expected) and are having a good time just hanging out and taking it easy. Yesterday, we went for a walk around Vacation Island in Mission Bay, and then had drinks and snacks at the Barefoot Bar (part of the Paradise Point resort). It was lovely. And I entirely forgot it was Friday and I should post some weekend reading! Oops. Weekend reading links will be back next week. I have some links saved, but I don't want to interrupt my holiday weekend good mood by posting them.

Instead, I think I'll ramble on a bit about my various projects.

I am hoping to write an Adjusted Latitudes post at some point this weekend - yesterday, I cleaned my desk so that I could find the notebook that has ideas for that site. I have set up an Instagram account that I'll use in conjunction with that site, too. I'll also post about books there, and we'll see what else. I have heard that the first social media account my now 11 year old is going to want is likely to be Instagram, so I decided I should figure it out. I am restlessrabbit42 over there. (I will come back and redact that user name in about a week....) I have posted exactly one thing and doubt I'll ever be a prolific poster, but if you have an Instagram account and want to follow me, I'll follow you back! I need to find more people to follow so I can figure out how Instagram gets used.

In other news: It was apparently Small Press Week this week, and today is Small Business Saturday. So I have a sale on at my Gumroad store: Use the promo code spweek18 and get 50% off everything you buy. You can browse the Gumroad store directly or find books on the Annorlunda site and click the Gumroad link to buy them.

I'll be working on one of my 2019 books today: I am almost done with the Kindle formatting for The Dodo Knight, a novella by Michelle Rene about Alice Liddell, the muse for Alice in Wonderland. (Check out the cover! I am so happy with how it turned out.) I also have on my list that I need to contact an artist about cover art for one of the 2019 books and an editor for another one. (You can see the post about the 2019 books here.)

I have struggled a bit with the adjustment to running Annorlunda as a side gig while having a regular 9-to-5 job, but I really, really enjoy putting books together, so I am still committed to keeping Annorlunda going. I need to figure out how to grow my "natural" audience, though. Social media only gets me so far, especially since my reach on my Annorlunda accounts is small. I still think growing my newsletter audience is my best bet. I've been reading classic short stories this weekend, looking for the perfect story to pick for January's edition of Inbox Stories. And I will be picking my November free ebook winner tomorrow morning: Subscribers to Inbox Stories and the regular Annorlunda mailing list are automatically in that drawing.

My other "big" project for the year was supposed to be to get the backyard revamping underway. I have not made much progress on that at all. I had one designer come out and give us a rough quote. We wanted to get rough quotes from two designers before picking one and getting started, but the other company I contacted has not answered my email. I need a company that can communicate via email, because my job involves a lot of time in meetings. I have to be able to at least schedule a phone call via email - I can't just have the landscaping company call me whenever they have time, because I usually won't be able to pick up that call. So I need to find another company to contact. At this point, I have accepted that this is not going to happen this year, and will try again in January.

I think that's everything - and anyway, I've finished my tea. I should get showered and then start in on my to do list for the day. Tell me about your projects or your holiday weekend or whatever you want in the comments!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Still Busy, So Still Short Edition

We're heading into Thanksgiving week. I am taking one extra day off and hoping Monday and Tuesday will be relatively quiet at the office. I'm coming off of a super busy period and could use a chance to catch up.

I like Thanksgiving. I know the historical origins of the holiday are problematic, but I like the chance to pause and be grateful for my life. I have so much to be grateful for.

This year, the people affected by the fires will be on my mind. I don't really have anything profound to say about this. My heart breaks for those who have lost so much, and I fear we'll have more stories like this as we head into the period of changing climate that our inaction has made inevitable. It is easy to get fatalistic about climate change, so I want to emphasize that we can still change our trajectory, and that doing so can still do good. I can't remember if I've already shared the episode of The Weeds podcast that discusses this, but here it is. It is a bit rambly but I think it makes a good point about the importance of not giving up just because we can't prevent climate change from happening at this point.

Along those lines, if you'd like to help continue the fight to get people in power who will work to address climate change and a host of other pressing problems... Postcards to Voters is still going. We're writing for Mike Espy's runoff right now.

So anyway, here are the links I have for you. I don't have many (see above about it being a busy period), but I have a couple good ones:

If you read only one thing from my list this week, make it Alexandra Petri on women in power. Women will probably LOLSOB a bit at this one, but it is really, really on point.

Josh Marshall had a good post about what he's hoping to see in the next Congress now that Democrats have some oversight power. (This might be for Prime subscribers only - I'm not sure.)

I really enjoyed reading this article about Kathy Hoffman, Arizona's new Superintendent of Public Education. I hope she can make a difference.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's interview with Leon Neyfakh, who is the host of Slate's Slow Burn podcast, is really interesting, for a lot of reasons. It is interesting for me, as someone who was a young, voting adult during the Clinton scandals, to hear people who were about 10 years younger than me work through what they mean. It was also interesting to hear their discussion about political scandals, what we can and cannot know in the midst of them, and how easily we rewrite the narrative of them when looking back.

This tweet almost made me cry. It is far too easy to forget how fragile and beautiful peace is.

This is a beautiful thread about family and love and finding a way to get what you need as a couple. Mr. Snarky and I can afford nights out, but sometimes (often) the effort of organizing a night out is too much. But our Friday night beers tradition makes Friday nights special even if we don't have the time or energy to do anything to make it special.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Oh Hey Look What Happened While I Was Super Busy... Two New Books!

I've had a very, very busy couple of weeks. I won't go into all the details - they are mostly just things like "I had an important all-day meeting at work" - but I do want to share something cool that happened in the midst of the whirlwind.

I had two more children's books come out!

The Bedtime Battle started out as a sequel to Petunia, the Girl Who Was NOT a Princess. The plan was for Petunia and Penelope to have a sleepover and deal with monsters under the bed. But the Petunia illustrator wasn't interested in doing a sequel, so my publisher and I decided to rework the story as a stand alone book. Now Alice and Adele have a sleepover and deal with monsters under the bed! All of the monster-taming techniques in the book are real things we tried when our kids were littler... including the monster repellent spray. 

There's actually a funny story about monster spray in our house. I must have been pretty desperate on the night I tried this trick, because I didn't stop and think and just grabbed something relatively innocuous I could spray in Pumpkin's room. I grabbed the Febreeze air freshener spray, which promptly became known as "monster spray." And that is why when Mr. Snarky farts my kids run to the hall closet yelling "get the monster spray!"

The Magic Trapdoor grew out of my frustration with easy readers. So many of them are deadly dull! I wondered if I could do better. You'll have to be the judge of whether I did, but I am pleased with how the story turned out. It is about a little boy who loses his "best red car" under his bed, and finds a magic trapdoor when he crawls under to get his car. The trapdoor takes him to see dinosaurs (of course). I tried hard to make this scientifically accurate, so all of the dinosaurs in the book are ones that existed at about the same time and in the same place as the T. rex. The main text is pitched at about a kindergarten/first grade level reader, and there is extra explanatory text that the adult reading with the kid could read to add more details about the dinosaurs.

The original intent is for there to be at least a couple more Magic Trapdoor books... we'll see if this illustrator cooperates!

Since so many of my readers have kids about the same age as mine, I know that these books won't be appropriate for many of you. But if you do have a kid in your life who is the right age, please check these books out. The links above are to Amazon, but you can get the books at all the usual places, and they are also available on the Epic app, which is an app full of books for kids that we really liked when my kids were a little bit younger.

Friday, November 09, 2018

In Lieu of Weekend Reading - Short Midterm Thoughts

This week has been a bit of a perfect storm of super busy at work and super busy in my home/personal life... so I don't have a real weekend reading post for you. Sorry. I have one thing to recommend you read: Rebecca Traister on the midterms.

I will say one something about the midterms, though. I know people are disappointed Democrats lost a couple of key Senate seats, and that Beto didn't win. On election night, people were disappointed with the outcomes in Florida and Georgia, too... but now it is looking like those outcomes aren't really settled yet, so I don't think people should decide whether or not to be disappointed by those yet.

I was pleased with the outcome of the midterms. Would I have liked more wins? Sure. But we flipped the house, which was my main goal. It is looking like we flipped it by a truly big margin, too. We also won some key governor's races - Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kansas will all have Democrats as governors, which is great. There were other down-ballot successes that are important. There were huge voting rights wins in several states - Michigan and Florida stand out to me. The North Carolina GOP's attempt to pack their Supreme Court backfired on them and now that court is 5-2 Democrats. Texas saw some really big down-ballot changes. Maybe in a future weekend reading post I'll find something to summarize all of these gains.

For the people disappointed that Beto lost, I say take you cue from Texas Democrats, who all seem really energized and happy. Of course, it would have been better if he won, but he built something truly remarkable, and I think Texas politics will never be the same. I've seen reports that many people involved in Beto's campaign are now turning their attention to making it easier to register and vote in Texas. Change is coming there, I think.

One of the House races that I think is most important to note is that Lucy McBath won in Georgia. This was the seat Jon Ossoff tried and failed to take in a special election. I think McBath is the better candidate - she has a very compelling story - but I also think that the huge amount of money and effort that poured into that district when Ossoff was running laid the groundwork for McBath's win. It was also what launched Postcards to Voters, which I think (hope?) helped make a difference in a lot of close races in this election.

So in short, I say: be happy with the gains we made. Winning the House was crucial, and we did it. Also be happy with the building that is underway. This was never going to be an easy fight, and it was never going to be over in one election. In this election, we won the right to keep fighting. So let's keep fighting.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Weekend Reading: A Mixed Bag Edition

Today is Dia de los Muertos. Since my kids go to a Spanish language immersion school at which most of the teachers are from Mexico and many of the kids have Mexican heritage, the school does a Dia de los Muertos festival and other related activities. The festival won't be until next Wednesday, but both of my kids had the opportunity to take in a picture for a Dia de los Muertos altar today. This is the first year that they've taken a picture of someone they knew - they both took pictures of their great-grandparents, who both died this year. Previous years, they've taken pictures of other relatives who they had never met. I told them about the people in the pictures: my grandparents on my mother's side and my great-grandmother, but that was just me telling stories. This year, my kids have their own stories to tell about the pictures they took to school.

I always find the act of finding a picture for the altar and putting it into a picture frame a comforting ritual. This year, there was a little extra poignancy to it.

Anyhow, if you don't know much about Dia de los Muertos, go read about it. It is really a beautiful holiday.

On to the links.

First, in hobby-ing links: I posted another Where in the World quiz on Adjusted Latitudes. I am enjoying the process of finding a good photo to use and then coming up with wrong answers for the quiz!

Also, I ran a short sale on Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus. Through tomorrow, you can get the ebook for just $0.99.

In other links:

This article by Tim Murphy about Democrats' outreach to the increasingly diverse group of voters in Fort Bend County, Texas, is really, really interesting.

Anne Helen Peterson and Graham Lee Brewer have an article up about the difficulties Navajo voters are facing in Southern Utah, and it is worth your time.

I had never read this column by Eugene Patterson, written after the Birmingham bombing. It was circulating after the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh and if you've never read it, you should.

This story starts by talking about a ghost tour... but really it is just an interesting story about a Black woman named Mary Ellen Pleasant, who lived in San Francisco around the turn of the last century.

In recommended listening: Anytime I see that someone has interviewed Zeynep Tufekci, I listen. Isaac Chotiner's interview of Tufekci on I Have to Ask is a particularly good one - I highly recommend it. (Another person who I'll always listen to get interviewed: Rebecca Traister. I always learn something!)

Kids are awesome:

So are cats, I guess:

This is pretty amazing in a weird way:


Have a good weekend!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Just Keep Writing Edition

The news just keeps getting more distressing. I don't know what to do other than keep writing postcards, so that's what I'm doing.

I have a couple of self-promo things to share:

The Inconvenient God is now available on Scribd. I'm still waiting for it to show up in Overdrive, but its appearance in Scribd shows it is making its way through the distribution systems. It is doing well and getting good reviews and that makes me happy!

Another thing that makes happy: I added the multiple choice quiz to the first "Where in the World" post on Adjusted Latitudes. I'd like to add another post this weekend, but I'm not sure I'll have time. I am proofreading the paperback version of The Dodo Knight, one of the books I'll be releasing next year, and I want to get that done this weekend so that I can order the proofs as soon as I get the final cover from my cover designer. I need copies to submit to the "big" review sites (Publisher's Weekly, etc) and they require copies to be submitted 4 months before publication.

I am also supposed to write my next Management Monthly newsletter. I didn't get anything new written to share there this month, which is a bummer. I should perhaps let that newsletter go... but it is my newsletter with the most subscribers, so it feels a bit backwards to close it down and keep the others. But maybe I will if I keep not writing new posts over at my real name site.

And it is also our school's jogathon weekend. Mr. Snarky will take the kids without me, but Petunia wants me to come... and maybe I will.

So we'll see if I get to a new Adjusted Latitudes post or not!

In actual links... I don't have a lot this week. Here's what I have:

I like Ezra Klein's suggestion of organizing around a push to strengthen democracy.

This is a long but good read about something I think about a lot: The amount of risk we in America have decided should be carried by individuals instead of buffered by society.

Here's something that is a different type of scary than the usual things I link to: Ed Yong on accute flaccid myelitis, a rare but potentially very serious disease.

The Vatican has created a Pokemon Go-like game where you collect saints and I think this is awesome (even though I do not believe in saints and will not get the game...)

If you like Kacey Musgraves, you should check this out.

In recommended listening: I found the recent The Weeds episode about climate change helpful for thinking about what we still might be able to do and how to approach the issue given our current political reality.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books to Read Aloud

I've recently finished two really good books with the kids - one with each of them. It is hard to find good read aloud bedtime stories. My kids don't like things that are too scary as bedtime stories. They say it makes it hard to settle and go to sleep. I can see their point: my book club is reading Slade House, by David Mitchell, this month and I doubt I'll finish it because I've discovered I can't read it right before bed or I'll have weird, creepy dreams. It is a beautifully written book, but it has a way of worming its way into my subconscious that just doesn't work for bedtime reading.

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good bedtime books for the kids, and these two are good enough I want to share!

The kids and I went to see Greg Van Eekhout, the author of The Voyage of the Dogs, give a reading  at our local bookstore. It is set in a future in which humans and dogs can understand each other, and there are dog astronauts - barkonauts. The story is about what happens when a crew of barkonauts awakens from stasis to find the human crew on their ship gone. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book, so I was glad when Petunia decided we should read it together at bedtime. The author told us at the reading that all the dogs survive, so Petunia didn't mind the tense bits. (And knowing this in no way detracts from the book, so if you have a kid who would worry about that, too, go ahead and tell them.) The characters are wonderfully drawn. The dogs are dogs, not humans in dogs form, if you know what I mean. And I loved their problem-solving. This is such a fun book - I recommend it highly, even if you don't have a kid to read it to.

Finding bedtime stories for Pumpkin is getting harder and harder. She reads Harry Potter and other high-tension books to herself, but wants gentler stories for bedtime. The Anne of Green Gables books were perfect, although she asked to stop Rilla of Ingleside because the build up to WWI was too much for her. On a whim, I picked up a book my in-laws gave me years ago, that has been sitting on my "to read" pile. The 10 p.m. Question, by Kate Di Goldi, is a wonderful story of a 12 year old boy finding his way in the world. His family is a little odd, and what exactly is going on with his family is part of what you discover while you read. Frankie, the main character, has a lot of anxiety, and I really liked how the author made that just one of the things about a really interesting and likeable boy. I think this is a fine story for an 11 year old, and maybe even a little younger, but be aware that there are some adult themes. Nothing really detailed, but I did have to tell Pumpkin what a prostitute is or one small section of the story wouldn't have made as much sense. But I think I could have just breezed past that part and it wouldn't have mattered: It isn't central to the story.

In writing about these two books, it occurs to me that one of the reasons I liked them so much is they both have really great endings. The authors both do a great job of bringing their stories to a close while also leaving enough of an opening for you to think about what might come next for the characters. I really like it when a book does that!

Do you have any good bedtime story suggestions? Put them in the comments!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Short Edition

This post is going to be short: I have one of my best friends visiting from out of town, and spent the evening catching up with her.

Also, earlier today, my grandfather died. He was 99, and had been missing my grandmother, who died in March. They had been married 75 years and I think he didn't really want to be here without her. He was ready to go, but we will miss him dearly. I think we are all still processing the fact that he is gone. He had been getting more frail, but we had no advance warning that he was leaving so soon. Adjö, Grandpa. We miss you already.

So, I don't have much to say about my links today, but I do have some links.

I found this interview with two researchers about the Dutch biking culture really interesting.

The Texas Tribune did a deep dive on a town near the border with Mexico, and it is really worth your time.

Searches for voter registration info are at presidential election year levels. We don't know what the electorate will be like this year. So I am ignoring the polls and continuing to support as many races as I can with money and/or postcards.

I have a new podcast for recommended listening this week! Why Is This Happening, with Chris L. Hayes. I listened to the episode about social infrastructure, with Eric Klinenberg, and it really made me think.

Can we crowdsource to make this happen?

I liked this:


Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Realization about My Current Time Use

I took the kids to get their flu shots today (and also got mine). Pumpkin didn't faint this year, and Petunia only freaked out a little bit... so it was a good year, I guess.

While we waited to make sure Pumpkin wouldn't pass out, Pumpkin read, Petunia watched a show I'd downloaded onto my tablet, and I thought about all the things I need/want to do.

I was feeling a little bit down about how slow I'm going with Adjusted Latitudes, and also wondering if I could say yes to a really interesting book project an author just pitched to me, but that I'm not sure I have the bandwidth to do.

I was thinking that maybe I can't keep the side projects going at the level I thought I could, despite what my time-tracking data had told me when I was deciding whether or not to go back to a "regular job."

And then I realized that I have a new "hobby" that I'm sinking a lot of time into: writing postcards and researching races to donate money to.

I don't plan to stop writing postcards after the midterms, but I do plan to scale back a bit. I had been aiming for at least 10 postcards per week (sometimes I'd do 15 or 20 if I had the time). In September, I bumped that up a notch, and I'm currently writing 5 postcards every day. That's not a huge time sink... but I think it explains why I don't feel like I have as much time to write travel posts or promote books, particularly when I add in the time I've been spending figuring out where I should send money to help in this campaign season.

So I don't feel so bad now about the glacial pace on getting Adjusted Latitudes going, and I think I'll reserve judgement about that book project until after the midterms.

Maybe some other night I'll write about my mixed feelings about the level of political involvement I feel I need to have right now. On one hand, I have realized I was too complacent about the problems in this country and I don't want to go back to that. On the other hand, think of all the other things we could all be doing with our time right now instead of fighting so hard for these midterms.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Weekend Reading: Hello From the Sick House Edition

I have been working from home for the past two days because Petunia has a cold. I am going a bit stir crazy. Also, I am sad I couldn't go rollerblading today. 

But on the bright side, I've gotten some quality Petunia-cuddles during breaks, and she's feeling a lot better now. So far, Pumpkin hasn't gotten sick, so I think we may finally be almost done with this cold.

Let's get to the links. First, the happy ones:

As I mentioned in my post on Wednesday... The Inconvenient God, a fantasy novelette by Francesca Forrest is now out! If you haven't grabbed a copy yet - get one. I think you'll love this story. Also, I'm running a release month promo for this book, so if you send me a picture of the book on your ereader (or in your hands, if you get the paperback) I'll send you a promo code to get Vanessa Fogg's The Lilies of Dawn for just $0.99.

Speaking of Vanessa Fogg... she posted about some much deserved recognition her stories are getting. Check it out, and then check out the stories, because they are wonderful. 

And now, for the less happy links:

If you only have time for one link this week, read Peter Beinart on the limits of civility.

I don't have any other links. I've been spending more time writing postcards and less time reading the news. I know that it is looking less likely that we'll flip the Senate. I know that is depressing to some people, but remember that flipping the Senate was always a long shot. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that we get one house of Congress, so that we can get subpoena power in the hands of people who actually care what happened in the 2016 election, care about whether Donald Trump's personal finances are influencing our foreign policy, and will provide some actual oversight on the Trump administration for things like the horrible policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. The House has always looked like the chamber we had the best chance of flipping, and so I have focused more on the House than the Senate in my donations and in my postcard writing. 

If you want to join me in writing postcards, there's still time to do so! You can get addresses from Postcards to Voters or Postcards4VA. One of my unexpectedly favorite things about writing postcards is that so many of them go to small towns and rural areas. The addresses are all for registered Democrats. It is a good reminder that we are not fully "sorted" despite our talk of Red and Blue states. In truth, there are plenty of Republicans in California - even in urban areas! - and there are plenty of Democrats in so-called Red states - even in rural areas. One of the things that the people who run Postcards4VA found after their first round of postcard writing (in the 2017 state house campaigns) was that the postcards helped increase rural turnout. My theory is that this is because the postcards remind rural Democrats that they are not isolated points of Blue in a sea of Red - they are part of the great Purple mix of America.

Other ways to get involved if you are not near to a race that needs in person canvassing (or if that's not your thing - it is not mine!) include phone banking and text banking. Both of these can be done remotely. You can pick a campaign and sign up there. The Cook Political Report's house ratings can help you find a campaign that could use your help. Or, you can read about @Pinboard's "great slate" of candidates he thinks have a chance to flip some unexpected districts. Or you can go to Swing Left and find some ideas there.

Whatever you pick, if you're worried about the health of our democracy under Trump, I encourage you to pick something to do to try to change the situation. We still have time to step back from the brink. And I can tell you that I always feel better after I write some postcards. Will it be enough? I don't know. But I feel better for trying.

Moving on.

In recommended listening:

Rebecca Traister has a new book about women's anger out, and she's been on several podcasts lately. I think her interview with Ezra Klein is the best of the ones I've heard.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Release Day, Day Off... Not Quite to Plan

I've been feeling a little burned out, so I decided to plan a day off. Then I looked at my work calendar and decided the best I could manage right now was a half day. So I scheduled that for today. I figured that would work out well, since today is also the release day for The Inconvenient God - I planned to call in to some meetings in the morning, have a nice lunch, then do some release day promo, then head out for a walk on the beach.

But then I came down with a cold last Friday. I'm better (mostly - still a little stuffed up, but no longer clearly sick). My husband got sick two days ago. And Petunia got sick this morning. So far, Pumpkin is healthy. We'll see if that lasts.

So, I have both Mr. Snarky and Petunia home with me today. I attended my meetings, but had to work a little longer than I anticipated because my other time was interrupted tending to Petunia. I guess the bright side of having Mr. Snarky home, too, is that he can stay here with Petunia and I can still take my walk on the beach. But this is not the peaceful "mental health day" I imagined.

Oh well... at least it is looking like a good release day for The Inconvenient God! There are several reviews on the GoodReads page, and quite a few sales so far. If you want to add to the sales total, you can get the ebook for $2.99 at the usual places:

And the paperback for $7.99 at Amazon and It will be available at IndieBound soon, and librarians - it will be in Overdrive and Baker & Taylor soon, too!

Here are a couple of early reviews:

Also, don't forget I'm running a release month promo for this book - send me proof of purchase (which can just be a picture of the book on your ereader) and I'll send you a promo code to get Vanessa Fogg's equally wonderful novelette The Lilies of Dawn for just $0.99.

International readers - if you're in a location for which the exchange rate makes this book a ridiculous price for a novelette, but you want to read it, please get in touch! I'll work something out with you. 

Hooray for release days! And boo on sick days. I'm going to get my walk on the beach, though, and that's not nothing. 

Friday, October 05, 2018

Weekend Reading: Just So Tired Edition

I want to post a few links, but am going to keep this short because... well, because today's news is unsurprising but exhausting nonetheless. But the sun is shining here, and I think a rollerblade will do me much good.

I have two contenders for my "if you read only one" slot this week, so I hope you'll humor me and read both:

First, Alexandra Petri's sadly prescient piece from last week about how hard it is to stop the train, inspired by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's statement that she had wondered if she would just be jumping in front of a train that was going to go where it was going, anyway. As it turned out, this is indeed what she did. And yet... although it looks like Kavanaugh will be confirmed, I think her testimony made a difference in the larger sense. I think she has helped move us forward to a better world in which we will not laugh off the assaults young men perpetrate on young women. So maybe this one train goes where it was always going to go, but we blow up the track after it passes.

Second, Adam Serwer on how the cruelty is the point for Trump and his core supporters, and how this is changing us as a country.

There were also two things about conservatives who have changed their view of the world somewhat.

First, Benjamin Wittes on Kavanaugh. I am not among those who think this sort of reckoning is too little, or too late. I think we have to allow for people to change their minds when new information comes in, even if we ourselves thought the information available earlier already supported a different opinion. I have one quibble with Wittes' piece, though. He writes that his cognitive dissonance at seeing a different Kavanaugh than the one he know is not the point. But I think it very much is the point. We need men like Wittes to realize how many other white men show a respectful and respectable personality to them while treating the rest of us as if we are not fully human. (And fellow white women: take some time to reflect on how that behavior generalizes. There are plenty of people who will seem nice and respectful to us, but behave completely differently to a woman of color. Know that and watch for it.)

Second, Max Boot on the Trump era in general.

That second one ties into my thoughts on the Kavanaugh debacle. I think Roe and other key decisions were lost when we lost the 2016 election, so my anger over the Kavanaugh situation is more around the fact that there were plenty of other conservative judges who could have been chosen. Was the confirmation of Kavanaugh in particular so important because of his views on presidential immunity (which are hard to reconcile with his earlier career on the Starr investigation, but whatever)? Or did they just dig in because they couldn't stand to back down to a bunch of women? I don't know.

But I do know that the current Republican party seems driven by a desire to stay in power at whatever cost. They are knocking down norms and pushing the limits of the Constitution wherever necessary. I do not have any sense of where the bottom might be in terms of how much they are willing to bend (or even break) the bonds of the rule of law and the principles of democracy. I am worried for our future path. I think we can still correct course, but the longer we wait, the harder it will be.

I guess what I'm saying is: Yeah, this all sucks. Take whatever time you need to get over this week's events. Then please consider doing something to help keep it from getting worse. The time to act is now. Pick some campaigns to support - at any level of government. Many of the protections that the Supreme Court is now likely to throw out will only matter if the states act to remove those rights. Work to register voters. Do whatever feels right to you, but don't assume it will all work out OK. Things only work out OK if people act to make them work out OK. 

And here's this week's rabbit:

Friday, September 28, 2018

In Lieu of Links

I don't have a weekend reading post in me this week. I had thought maybe I'd write about why I'm so angry instead, but it turns out I don't have that in me, either.

I've spent time this week on the hobbies that make me happier: I updated the mapping plugin on my Adjusted Latitudes site and figured out how to create a KML file to show the route of our Redondo Beach weekend getaway and put that on the map. I worked on promo pitches for the upcoming Annorlunda Books release The Inconvenient God. (Note: I'm running a promo for people who buy it before the end of October.)

I've read a lot of news, too, but I don't feel up to parsing through it and finding the truly useful things to share. My kids are still too young to be following this mess, so at least I didn't have to try to explain it all to them. (This time is coming to an end. My older daughter is 11, and starting to pay attention to wider events. Her journalism class had an assignment about the Kavanaugh nomination before the sexual assault allegations hit. They've switched to tamer topics now, and she has shown no interest in following up on it on her own. But in another year or two that won't be the case.)

I do have to try to keep myself together for our usual routines, though, and last night, in particular, that was difficult. I made it, but only by writing postcards during the kids' snack time. Writing postcards makes me feel like I'm doing something, so it calms the impotent fury a bit. (If you want to join me: PostcardstoVoters has switched to the midterms now, and there is also the Postcards4VA effort underway.)

My younger daughter turns 9 next week. She is so excited about her birthday and the upcoming party. I want to be excited with her, and to do that, I need to tune out a little bit. I'll be back soon, though.

Let's make our country truly worthy of this girl's rendition of our anthem:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Too Busy and Reading a Book to Avoid the News Edition

It would have been a beautiful day for a rollerblade today, but instead I am picking Pumpkin up early and we are going to an event downtown. The nice thing about San Diego is that I'm pretty confident that next Friday will be a beautiful day for a rollerblade, too!

Anyway, some links:

The Inconvenient God is now available for pre-order. You can also still sign up to be an advance reader. I just re-read this story for the umpteenth time because I was proofing the paperback edition, and I still love it. You should get a copy!

In less happy links:

Just when I thought the Kavanaugh confirmation story couldn't get any worse... I happened to be on Twitter when the Ed Whelan tweets were coming out and it was weird to watch even via the responses (I don't follow Whelan). I agree that this needs to be investigated. For one thing, how did he know who the other girl at the party was? That has not been made public.

And now McConnell is promising Kavanaugh will get confirmed without even pretending he'll weigh what Dr. Ford or any other witness in the hearings that are being negotiating. That is just insulting.

I do not understand why they need this particular man to be confirmed when there plenty of other well-qualified judges out there who would also vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and meet their other judicial opinion criteria. It is disheartening. It is like they are taking Dr. Ford's accusation personally, and makes you wonder what things some of these men did when they were teenagers. Or older.

Alexandra Petri's post this week was a gut punch.

Elizabeth Breunig's article about the girl in her hometown who reported her rape and was vilified for it is also a gut punch, but the follow up offers a little sliver of redemption.

Another side of "listen to women" - this is a heartbreaking story about a young woman who died of cancer and maybe wouldn't have if doctors had listened to her symptoms earlier.

I don't have any other links to share because frankly, I was reading a book instead of the news most of the week. Partly that was because I wanted to avoid the news, but partly that was because it was a really good book: The Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic, by Nora Gallagher. It is the story of developing a mysterious ailment, the attempt to find a diagnosis, and the toll that this all takes on the author's life, relationships, and faith. I found it an engrossing read, and will definitely write a full post about it at some point.

That's all I have this week. Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Delicate Balance Between Informed and Full of Despair Edition

Wow, today had a lot of news. But I guess that's true of a lot of days right now. As usual, I am trying to find the right balance between staying informed and getting lost in all the distressing news. So I went rollerblading even though I had to stop work earlier than usual to fit in the rollerblade and also getting my kids to their haircut appointment... so I'll be doing a little work this weekend to compensate. It feels like a good trade to me.

Of course, when I pulled up to the parking lot at my usual rollerblading spot, I found it blocked off for thunderboat races. Grrrr. I drove over to my backup spot and had a rollerblade, but I wish they'd post warnings about this event a couple of weeks in advance so that I wouldn't waste the time driving into Pacific Beach to get to my favorite spot, only to have to turn around and drive back out to the other spot, which is closer to my house but not quite as good for rollerblading. OH WELL. The sad thing is this happens every year and I never remember ahead of time.

On the bright side, I can save my husband a similarly disappointing experience when he heads out for his Saturday morning kayak! His usual launch spot will be closed so he'll have to find another location.

On to the links:

First, the self-promotion links:

I posted the cover reveal for the next Annorlunda Books release, The Inconvenient God, by Francesca Forrest. There were some delays in getting the cover finalized, so I'm running a shortened release process for this book - pre-orders will start to go up over the weekend, and be available at all of the online retailers by Sept. 18. You can watch for links to appear on the book's home page. If you want to be an advance reader, sign up here and I'll send you the eARC next week.

Also... you may have noticed my tweet announcing that I've finally built the travel website I've wanted to build for 10 years. (I'm not exaggerating on that time frame: I have a notebook with notes about this site, and one of the pieces of scratch paper I'd shoved in there with ideas for a site name was one of the day care reports we got when Pumpkin was one year old.)

Anyway, I had been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good on this idea, not wanting to build anything until I could build the best thing. WordPress plugins have advanced quite a bit in 10 years, and I realized that I could actually build something pretty close to my original idea with an off-the-shelf  WordPress and a couple of plugins.

So I've been writing up one of each type of post I want to have, and tinkering with different themes and options... and Adjusted Latitudes is finally ready for people to see it! I still have some more tinkering to do - I need to create a favicon, I'm going to upgrade the maps plugin to make the maps on the itineraries cooler and perhaps add some sort of multiple choice quiz option on the Where in the World posts. But it is far enough along that I decided I could share it. I haven't decided what will go there and what will stay here yet, but if I write something there I'll probably at least link to it here, so maybe that doesn't matter so much.

I almost decided to move Wandering Scientist to a self-hosted WordPress site and then add the travel stuff on here. Afterall, travel was what I originally thought this blog would be about (hence the "wandering" in the name). But I decided I wanted to be able to show things on the travel site to people I wouldn't send to this blog and I also like having a place to writing about parenting, life, politics and the other topics this site has wandered to. So in the end, I made a new site.

OK, enough about me. Here are the other links I have for you:

If you read just one thing this week: Alexandra Petri's essay on the people lost in Puerto Rico is what I'd pick.

But this amazing essay from Dr. Katherine Crocker is a close second. (Thank you to the multiple people who sent it to me!)

And Zack Beauchamp's report on the demise of democracy in Hungary and its lessons for us here in America is a close third.

I link to Talking Points Memo a lot because I find Josh Marshall's political analysis really useful. So here he is on Manafort's plea deal and the primary election results in New York. Both are worth your time, but if you only read one, read the one about the election results because I think elections are the way we actually get out of our current mess.

Speaking of elections being the way out... Jamelle Bouie wrote about something like that, and that's really worth your time, too.

Noah Smith wrote about why diversity is a strength for America.

Derek Lowe's write up of the latest generic drug price outrage is very useful, particularly if you want an insider's look at how the system is screwed up.

In recommended listening: I really enjoyed Laura Vanderkam and Sara Hart-Unger's discussion with KJ Dell'Antonia about being a happier parent. The bit about chores was really interesting.

Some good news from my state:


If I could get moderate/reasonable (even if quite right-leaning) Republicans/conservatives to understand one thing about our current political moment, it would probably be this:

Basically, everyone worries about how Republican voters will react to what Democrats do. I see a lot less attention paid to how Democrat voters are reacting to what Republicans have been doing, and let me tell you, Bouie's point rings really, really true in my life - for my own views and for the views of center-left folks I talk to. 

Huh. Interesting.

Yes, yes, yes to everything in this thread:

(If any of my male readers also find it hard to identify with female protagonists... maybe try reading more books with them? I've read lots of books with male protagonists, and I identify with some and find others really hard to understand, and honestly, I consider that part of the point of reading fiction.)


Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Updated Logistics Post

I am finally going to write the long promised post about our current household logistics. But first, an announcement:

For some reason, Blogger has stopped emailing me when I get a comment. I'll have to figure out why
at some point. In the meantime, I'm just trying to remember to check in on my comments every now and then. If I'm super slow answering your comment, chances are I forgot to go check my comments!

And second, a caveat:

We made it through the week of back-to-school events, and I was starting to feel like I had a handle on things. Then on Saturday, Petunia came out from her gymnastics class and announced she was bored with gymnastics and wants to do soccer instead. Or baseball. Or basketball. But preferably soccer. Now, Petunia only got routed into gymnastics because Pumpkin was already doing it, and it is true that Petunia is surprisingly good at all the "ball sports" she's tried.

I don't think it is fair to make Petunia do gymnastics just because that's what Pumpkin likes, so I will look for a soccer team for her to join. But damn, this is going to mess up our schedule. So this post will be out of date in about a month. (I'd already paid for September gymnastics, so I told Petunia she has to finish out this month.)

And now, the current state of our household logistics. It looks like I last updated these in 2012, so uh... a lot has changed since then. (Oops - Blogger helpfully reminded me of the 2014 update after I published this!) Pumpkin is now in 6th grade, and Petunia is in 3rd grade. They walk (!!!) to school in the morning and go to after care in the afternoons.

I'm back to full time regular employee status at a job that is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, maybe as much as 30 minutes if I leave work late and hit more traffic. Mr. Snarky has been a full time regular employee all along. I think his commute is currently 30 minutes in the morning and 30-60 minutes in the evening, depending on the whims of traffic.

The Base Weekday Schedule

Our alarm goes off at 6:20 a.m. Most Mondays, I get up at 6 and go for a short run/walk in the neighborhood. I have been waking up at 6 on other days, too, and I wish I could say I did something useful with that time, but most days at least one kid wakes up before me or not long after me, so that time tends to just get swallowed into getting the kids breakfast and getting Petunia ready for school (Pumpkin mostly gets herself ready these days).

I still have to get the kids breakfast. If I would get around to rearranging our cupboard so the bowls Pumpkin likes are lower, she could get her own cereal. But Petunia likes toast with sugar after her Cheerios, and that I still have to make.

We all get ready. Mr. Snarky makes the kids' lunches, I help Petunia pick clothes, brush her hair, and put on sunscreen. I shower and get dressed. If I have an early morning teleconference (my company is international, so these happen - and in fact I have a standing 7:30 a.m. meeting every Monday), my routine often stalls here while I go sit at my desk and take the teleconference. Since so much of my work involves distributed teams, no one cares if I dial in to meetings from home or the office. In fact, I work from home every Friday, which is awesome, and I can work from home other days if I need/want to. Mostly, I go into the office, though, because I am still new enough that it helps to be able to catch people in person.

If I don't have an early meeting and I'm not working from home, I leave for work by 8:10, and sometimes as early as 7:45. Mr. Snarky tends to leave around 8. The kids hang out at home until ~8:30 and then walk to school. This is usually really great, except for the one time so far that it started really raining and Pumpkin's friend didn't call to offer to pick them up. I had to drop off a teleconference and drive them to school, because they are San Diego kids and they might melt in the rain. (More seriously, because we don't really have proper rain gear since it almost never really rains here.)

Since both my kids are early risers, they have time to do some homework before school, and they both also usually practice the piano in the mornings.

We work/go to school all day. My new work office is more social, and so I find I spend more time at lunch than I used to. But sometimes the conversation turns to work-related things it is useful to know, so I try not to worry about that. I try to go out for a walk after lunch most days, but my meeting schedule on Thursdays makes it likely that I'll skip the walk that day.

On Fridays, I am working from home. I start work early (by 7:30 if all goes well) and take a short lunch. Then, if nothing has gotten scheduled in the late afternoon/early evening (like a back-to-school bonfire, or haircut appointments for the kids, etc...) I can go for a rollerblade in the afternoon. I try to protect that time, but it isn't always possible.

Now that the kids are back at school, Mr. Snarky likes to pick two consecutive days and bike home from work one day and in to work the following day. During the summer, the camp drop off/pick up schedule made that hard for him to do. Also, it was unusually hot here this summer and he does not like to exercise in the heat.

The kids go to aftercare every day, but on Mondays, Mr. Snarky picks them up early and takes them to piano lesson. On Tuesdays, I pick Petunia up early and take her to art class. Mr. Snarky picks Pumpkin up later. I pick the kids up from aftercare between 5:30 and 6 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Mr. Snarky works during piano lessons. I go shopping for the groceries we can only get at a "regular" grocery store during art class. Our local store is now a Sprouts, which is good for about 80% of what we need. I buy the remaining 20% at the Vons in the same shopping center as the art class on Tuesdays. I generally have about 20 minutes between finishing grocery shopping and Petunia's art class ending. Sometimes I read, sometimes I write or sketch out ideas for one of my projects, sometimes there is something I need to chat with my colleague in Australia about and I do that via our work chat client on my phone, and sometimes I just waste time on Twitter. It depends on what's going on with work and my projects, if I have a book club book I'm trying to finish, and how fried I feel.

Dinner is at about 6 p.m. I cook dinner every weeknight except Tuesday, when Mr. Snarky heats up leftovers and makes a salad for our dinner (since he's home before me).

After dinner, the kids do homework or play and the adults do work, projects, chores, or waste time on their phones. I am trying to do less phone-based time wasting and more reading or projects. The kids rarely need our attention during homework time, but Petunia does like it if someone snuggles with her while she does her reading (she's supposed to ready 15 minutes a day in both Spanish and English). I will always say yes to snuggles and read, too.

At about 7:15, it is shower time. This now happens mostly without our involvement.

At about 8, we offer evening snack. The kids usually have something small (tonight Pumpkin had a banana and Petunia had a yogurt drink). While they have that, I assemble the snack portion of their lunches and the non-refrigerated portion of my lunch. On Monday nights, I also pack up snacks for on the way to art and make sure I have my shopping list in the snack bag.

At about 8:20, the kids get ready for bed. Mr. Snarky helps Petunia floss her teeth (she has to use a special floss threader because of her braces, and my old repetitive strain injury has degraded my fine motor control enough that it is much better if Mr. Snarky does this step). The kids do the rest of their bedtime routine on their own. Mr. Snarky often plays piano while the kids get ready for bed, and sometimes also while they are showering. I usually putter around during these times, finishing off quick tasks. Sometimes (like tonight), I start a blog post.

After the kids are ready for bed, we read stories. We alternate nights: one night I read to Petunia and Mr. Snarky reads to Pumpkin, the next night we switch. We know our days of reading aloud to Pumpkin are probably numbered, but so far, she still likes it.

Lights go out at about 9. Whoever was reading to Pumpkin just says good-night, turns off her light, and leaves her room. And then goes and does the dishes. Whoever was reading to Petunia usually stays and snuggles for 15-30 minutes.

Then we work (if needed), or do other things until bedtime. I try to be in bed by 10:30, and have my lights out by 11. Mr. Snarky stays up much later, usually watching TV.

The Base Weekend Schedule

We still have our Friday night beers most weeks, and plan out our weekend.

I get up at 7 on Saturday mornings, get the kids their breakfast, and then get them (and me) ready for gymnastics. That runs from 8:45 - 10:15. (Petunia's class finishes at 9:45, but Pumpkin is in a higher level class that goes for 1.5 hours.) I crochet and chat with my friend whose kid is in Petunia's class. We're home by a little after 10:30.

Mr. Snarky gets up a little bit after me, and gets the laundry started. Then he goes out for his Saturday morning exercise. This used to be a run, but right now he is going out kayaking on the bay instead. He usually gets one load of laundry on the line before he leaves, and I hang up the second load and start the third when I get home. Three loads gets us through our regular clothes laundry.

Every other Saturday, we also have our low key Chinese lessons. Sometimes, Mr. Snarky takes the kids to the library, too.

I can sleep in on Sunday mornings if I want, but it is rare for me to sleep past 8. I am usually up by 7:30. The kids watch TV, Mr. Snarky does more laundry - sheets and towels on Sundays. I work on my projects on Sunday mornings, and I try to protect this time, with reasonable success. I usually finish up by about 10 and shower and start in on my Sunday chores: menu planning and grocery shopping. I usually squeeze in a load or two of delicate laundry sometime on Sunday, too. If I forget, I can do these on a weeknight, though.

We now have Lego team meetings on Sunday afternoons, too. They last for about an hour, and I let the team play for another 30 minutes, and then the other parents collect their kids.

Mr. Snarky often does yard work or house maintenance type things on one or both of the weekend days. I often have other errands to run (e.g., back to school shopping, our occasional Target run, that sort of thing).

There's a lot of free time in the weekends. We often do something fun together as a family. Some weekends, though, get filled up (like next weekend - we have two kid birthday parties to go to). I can also usually grab some downtime for myself if I want it. Last Sunday, I spent about an hour in my hammock reading. Weekends are also when I write most of my political postcards.

Variations and Other Things

If a kid gets sick, the parent with the least need to be physically in the office that day works from home.

I'm in charge of haircuts and most doctor's appointments. Mr. Snarky is in charge of dentist (and orthodontist) appointments and eye doctor appointments.

When Pumpkin was little, she really needed her routines. She still likes routines, but can roll with changes more now. So dinner can be late if I want to try a new recipe or we decide to go out after piano lessons. We can go out and do things on a weeknight if we need/want to. This is nice, and I think this sort of thing is just going to continue to get easier.


The Monday night piano lessons are new. Petunia used to have swim lessons on Monday, and Pumpkin had piano on Tuesday while Petunia went to art. I'm thinking about what I might want to do with the time that Monday piano lessons opens up: I could maybe go to the gym after work, but then dinner would be late. Or maybe I'll leave my workout schedule as is (although it is currently short a workout) and just work on my projects on Monday.

I'm also considering a Wednesday evening yoga class. It would be after dinner, which feels weird, but I'm sure I'd get used to it. There's a studio in our neighborhood, so I could go after dinner and be home in time for bedtime.

Petunia's request for soccer is going to require some schedule adjustments. This may be what finally leads us to hire someone to help with the kid shuttling. But maybe not - Mr. Snarky is strangely resistant to the idea, and he has a flexible schedule and can perhaps handle soccer practices. I don't know. I've told Petunia that she'll probably have to come with me and Pumpkin to gymnastics at least some weeks, but she may get to go out kayaking with Mr. Snarky some weeks, too. It would have been so much easier if she'd kept liking gymnastics! But she should get to follow her own interests.

The kids do a lot of their homework at aftercare, and are also generally good about staying on top of their own homework. We'll see how Pumpkin handles the transition to middle school, which has more homework and a less regular homework schedule. However, I know from talking to friends that we're extremely lucky not to have to really watch them on their homework, and I'm grateful for that.

So that's the logistics these days. I really should find a time for another workout, but I'm dithering about the yoga class, so I just haven't done anything. I'm trying to make conscious choices about how to use the pockets of time that are opening up, and not let them get filled with mindless time on Twitter or things like that. But there are also things I find useful about Twitter, so I still show up there from time to time.

If I skipped over something you think would be interesting to know about, ask in the comments! I promise to check in on them this week.