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Our three-year-old has chickenpox, so he's in quarantine until he ceases to be contagious. He's dealing with it pretty well really - some scratching, not too serious - but of course cabin fever is beginning to set in a bit, and it threw our weekend plans completely out of kilter: I'd planned to take them up to Dad's for a day or so and then take them to a child's birthday party, neither of which got to happen. So instead I did a bit of crafting with them that didn't require too much creativity from me ("Duct Tape Dragsters"; quite cute, though the interest seemed to pall almost as soon as we'd built them, but hopefully they'll pick them up again a bit later), and have otherwise mostly been decompressing and trying to at least establish some kind of base camp on the housework mountain. This evening [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and I played Monastery, which I think worked much better the second time although the rules are still not the clearest piece of writing in the world and I had to resort to BoardGameGeek to disambiguate, which was OK until I failed to correctly explain what I'd learned to [livejournal.com profile] ghoti and ended up inadvertently gaining an advantage as a result. Hopefully next time we'll know what we're doing.

So, recent reading. My reading rate is way slower than a lot of other people I know these days, but I've managed to finish a few things recently.
  • The Martian, Andy Weir. Picked up from XKCD, who clearly knows exactly what I like and summarises it better than I can. "Hard science fiction" doesn't seem to quite cover it, since for me that suggests something more physicsy along the lines of Greg Egan; maybe hard engineering fiction? Any book whose plot uses rocket fuel for some purpose other than going bang and accelerating things is just fine by me.
  • Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay. Not finished, but doesn't matter because it's comfort re-reading. Fantasy in a land where an invading sorcerer has made it impossible for anyone not from the eponymous province to hear or remember its name as retribution for the death of his son. It's one of the most luminously poetic works of speculative fiction I know and I love it.
  • The Annihilation Score, Charles Stross, sixth novel in the Laundry Files sequence. I'd probably happily read Charlie's shopping list and I've had this on pre-order for a while, then devoured it in a couple of days (very quick for me at the moment). The series premise is that sufficiently complex computation breaks down barriers between universes, allowing practitioners to perform magic but also summoning eldritch and very unfriendly entities in the process: basically, Lovecraft was right, but Turing put it on a scientific footing and then the British government spun off a secret department to try to keep people safe from it. The earlier novels let Stross pastiche classic British spy fiction as well as riffing on the horror genre, but the basic premise is pretty flexible and later books have been heading in the direction of urban fantasy. This one's an occult superhero novel. The protagonist is married to the protag of the previous books, and Charlie has been dropping hints that this will expose ways in which the previous protag is an unreliable narrator, but I didn't notice very much of that; perhaps it will become clearer on re-reading.
  • The Bloggess. This is probably one of those cases where everyone else ran across the giant metal chicken story years ago and I just missed it, but anyway, A+++ would collapse in fits of giggles again.
  • The Book of Taltos, Steven Brust, books 4 and 5 of a series. Borrowed from [personal profile] liv, as with the previous anthology The Book of Jhereg which included books 1-3. The first three were more or less otherworldly detective yarns and thoroughly enjoyable; but I'm not far enough through these two to say much about them yet. Maybe later.
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[livejournal.com profile] ghoti asked me to talk about being a working parent, having initially misread a "being an incoming parent" prompt from a previous day. Due to my particular circumstances, some of this overlaps with a previous prompt, "working from home", but there's probably a bit more I can write about independently.

I tend not to use the phrase "working parent" to describe myself, since any time I try to do [livejournal.com profile] ghoti's full-time-parenting job for more than an hour or two I'm reminded of just how much work it is to do it well! (Although today I got both little children to sleep earlier than usual and without an epic tantrum, so am feeling flush with success, at least until it next goes wrong.) I do sometimes feel that the business of earning money is the easy job in relative terms, and it's all too easy to hide in my study when the children are being particularly difficult. I've been trying to do better at avoiding that.

In practical terms, of course, it means I'm not routinely able to do very much with the children during the week, and if we go away for the weekend I normally have to be back in time to work on Monday. More insidiously, if I've been having a stressful time at work then it's very hard to find much energy to play with the children; unfortunately I don't find that one activity helps me recharge for the other, rather the opposite. So I'm very much hoping that my new job in the new year will leave me with more energy for the evenings and weekends.

On the other hand, my job does pay well enough that the children don't lack much (except space, but we're working on that more gradually), and hopefully that will continue. As the primary earner I do feel a pretty strong responsibility to turn my skillset into a comfortable lifestyle for them.

I may have missed some part of this question, so please do say in comments if this is too narrow an answer and I'll try to expand on it.

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
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I'm catching up on these postings a bit today after a lovely but busy couple of days, including going with [livejournal.com profile] ghoti to help to celebrate Chanukah over at [personal profile] liv's yesterday, lighting candles, acting out the story with [personal profile] jack and the children wearing home-made crowns and wielding plastic swords, eating doughnuts and latkes, and playing board games (which I don't think is quite required by the celebration but is clearly always a good idea anyway). Today so far I've mostly been clearing up at least a corner of our messy living room in an attempt to clear enough space to put up the tree; this is late for us, as my family tradition was always Second Sunday of Advent and we've normally roughly gone with that, but I don't actually think it truly matters overly much as long as it's up by the time Christmas itself starts.

It is indeed not always quite the most important thing to keep up with these memes, as a friend wisely observed to me yesterday; all the same, I'm quite prone to forgetting about this kind of thing if I'm not reasonably disciplined about it, so I'm spending a bit of time today getting back into sync. The Christmas season is coming up, but I do have a couple of those posts wholly or partially banked, so hopefully I'll still manage to keep up.

At any rate, [livejournal.com profile] badriya asked me about the experience of being an "incoming parent", coming into a child's life through a relationship with a parent. Thanks for this - it's a really good prompt!

stepdad )

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!
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[livejournal.com profile] sphyg asked me for parenting tips. Um, in general I'm not very confident in my abilities as a parent so take all this with a very large pinch of salt to the effect that I don't always do this stuff very well!

remembering how to keep tiny people alive )

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!

September 2017



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