Family Reunions

I had my whine-fest yesterday, but really, there have been some awesome things happening. My half-sister’s sixteenth birthday was on the 10th, and (possibly related) my brother arrived from DC for a week-long vacation. That meant my second-youngest sister drove into town with her three boys, including the newest, Kyler. Kyler is six weeks old, teeny-tiny, and this was my first time meeting him. He was adorable!!

We had a little mini family reunion for a couple hours before my family had to get back to the house to finish prepping Morrigan for his trip to the Appalachian Trail. I’m not sure if I said here before, but he joined the Mormon church back in early June. Jason’s family is Mormon and Jason grew up in that church, so Morrigan has always had an on-again-off-again relationship with it that finally became on-enough for baptism. Anyway, the young men’s groups of the whole church Stake put together this trip to the AT: eight days, including six of camping and four of hiking (about 38 miles altogether – 13 on the first day and the rest divided over three days). It’s a great opportunity, but I’m afraid Morrigan is woefully unprepared physically and mentally for this particular challenge. He was also a little upset by the amount of money he had to spend on supplies, but that’s part of growing to adulthood – sometimes you bite off more than you can chew, and you just have to deal with it. I just hope the trip goes well for him, because I really worry about all the ways it could go badly wrong – and I’m sure I’m just a nervous mother, and he’ll be happy and excited and all that jazz. Fingers crossed!!

Then there was my sister’s birthday party. As I said above, she turned sixteen last week. We had a pool party and dinner on Saturday. Lots of fun, including the two-year-old doing his “ninja dance” for us several times, and also both him and his older brother putting their hands on people’s shoulders and saying, “Hey,” in their deepest voices. Ha!! (For anyone who might be confused, watch this clip from Into the Spiderverse) Two of my aunts also came over for the party, so it was an even bigger reunion than before!

We have a few more days before my siblings and nephews leave town again, so I imagine I’ll get to see everyone at least once more. I’m looking forward to more awesome times, and will leave this post with a gratuitous adorable photo of sleeping baby Kyler:

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Sunday Coffee – Longing for Fall

Every year, a post similar to this one ends up on my blog. Usually it’s not quite so early, honestly. It’s usually August when the months of relentless heat finally break me, or sometimes even September or October, when fall should have arrived and it’s still 100 degrees out. But I’m early this year, and counting the days.

My house is a wreck. The grocery shopping has been haphazard and scattered for weeks. The family is living on meals we can cobble together because our main cook has been out with surgery recovery. Routines and sleep have been thrown off. The heat has been monstrous this year, with record-breaking temps since April, and there’s no relief in sight.

I count the weeks and days…five weeks until the two younger boys start school; six weeks until Morrigan goes up to college; seven weeks until all the travel/events of the summer will be over and done with; twelve weeks until we might see a temperature below 70 degrees at night; eighteen weeks until our Thanksgiving Week Vacation (and when we actually start seeing a few cool fronts!). Those are long numbers. Too long. So I drink from my autumn owl mug and dream up fun ideas for Halloween and plot the impossible dream of one day owning a summer vacation home up north somewhere.

And really, since it’s only halfway through July, I pray that August will not be as much as a heat-nightmare as it usually is, and I’ll be grateful that I’ll be in Kansas and maybe in Wisconsin at the end of August for a short-lived mini-break from the heat!!!

PS – Does the weather keep me from walking the trails to play more Wizards Unite? Um…no. So I’m probably making myself miserable, and all that jazz…you know, in full disclosure, heh.

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Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor

From Goodreads: Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

So imagine a setup similar to Harry Potter, where a character knows nothing about the magical world and is suddenly thrust into it and discovers she holds a unique position within that world. Now set that story in Nigeria with a non-Western magical system, and that’s loosely the setup of this book. Not to in any way say it’s a copy of Harry Potter. Not at all. It just plays on the same initial trope, then takes the book in a completely different direction. A completely awesome direction.

I don’t read a lot of middle-grade books, because too often they feel like the author talks down to the reader. My friend Stephanie recommended this one, though, so I went ahead and picked it up when I saw it on my library’s shelves. The author doesn’t talk down in this one. She strikes the perfect balance between young and universal. Sunny and her friends are well-developed, the story well-paced and ended, and the world-building just opened enough to leave room for many more books to follow. I quite enjoyed it and look forward to the next volume in the series!

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Sunday Coffee – Surgery Success

On Wednesday, the alarm clock went off at 5 am. Jason and I both stumbled awake and quickly got ready to go. At 5;30, we woke up Laurence half an hour earlier than usual, because he had to get ready for his last day of first semester summer school, and we had to leave for the hospital.

The hospital is located in one of two parts of town that I find extremely confusing and hate driving in. Thank goodness my antidepressant calms my anxiety, right? Jason put on my phone’s GPS to help guide me, and since he’d been there recently, he was able to get me live directions as well. We actually made it to the hospital without incident, and after getting semi-lost trying to get into the parking garage (it’s REALLY confusing!! Why is the entrance to the garage tucked behind some dumpsters five turns after you go through the entry that SAYS it’s to the garage? But that’s just they built it…), we finally got out of the car. We walked along a long sky bridge to the hospital itself and found our way to admitting…which was closed that early in the morning. Um…

By this point, we were already 15 minutes late. I found a reception desk nearby with a security officer sitting at it, and figured maybe she could help. Jason and I walked up, and they immediately assumed we were there for labor and delivery (groan!). We cleared up THAT misunderstanding, explained that Jason was scheduled for surgery, and the officer asked where the doctors had told him to go this morning. (Note: This hospital is so big that it consists of multiple buildings interconnected by sky bridged and passages. It’s also one of about a dozen hospitals all sandwiched into the same location – Medical Center – which makes everything more confusing. See why I hate going to this part of town yet??) The doctor hadn’t given Jason a location, just a time, so the officer guessed that we needed to go to the sublevel 2 basement of the South Tower. She gave us a long, complicated set of directions to get first to the right set of elevators and then to the OR waiting room on SL2.

Long story short: we finally got to where we belonged, filled out paperwork, and set up to wait. Within half an hour, they took us both back to the OR prep area and started getting everything prepped. The doctor met with Jason first and marked his neck, which really did look like just a slash across his throat. But I guess when you’re having a parathyroid gland removed – a gland that’s the size of a grain of rice – there’s not much in the way of marking.

Side note: When a loved one is going through a surgery that might potentially nick his vocal chords and cause permanent damage (among more serious dangers), it makes you feel really awkward when the doctor/nursing/staff team can’t get themselves together. They told Jason to change, and he did, only to be told by someone else later that he needed to wipe himself down with these antiseptic wipes left for him that no one mentioned before (with lots of eye-rolling from the nurse about other nurses’ incompetence). But, you know, despite all that, I wasn’t too worried to be honest. Having been through four surgeries myself, my greatest fear is the IV…


We answered a LOT of questions. I think they asked Jason why he was there about a dozen times, mostly to the same person. I can’t tell if they were assessing his mental state (making sure he knew what was going on) or asking for legal reasons each time they did something new (like put in the IV or record his list of medications). Eventually he went off to surgery, and a nurse led me to a waiting room. At that point, I had not only my stuff for the day but all of Jason’s overnight stuff that he thought would be tucked under his OR bed, so I was basically like a pack-mule. (Especially because Jason for some reason brings all his work stuff with him everywhere, including multiple sets of electronics. His bag is HEAVY.)

All I knew at that point was that the surgery would take 1-1.5 hours and then after a couple hours of recovery where I wasn’t allowed to be with him, they’d find him a room and take me up. Instead, the doctor came to speak to me after half an hour and the surgery was already done and successful. About three hours after that, they finally sent me off to his room. Only they sent me to the wrong tower (Central, instead of North), and when I arrived on the right floor of central to find a cardiac wing with no patient rooms, I had to find someone to lead me to the right place. And the person I found was a doctor who had only worked at the hospital for three months, and he had to go ask someone else where to go and how to get there. Then the two of us went together. (I later had several nurses tell me that they’d worked there for several years and STILL get lost.)

Finally, FINALLY, I got to see Jason. He had this tiny bandage on his throat and a breathing tube in as well as an IV, and he was asleep. I stayed with him for a few hours as he went in and out of sleep, partially disoriented. Once he was lucid and just needed to rest, I drove back to my kids, who of course were doing perfectly fine on their own, but it still worries me to leave them alone for the entire day, you know?

Jason was up and walking around by the end of the evening, and other than his throat swelling pretty badly that night, he didn’t have any complications. Laurence and I went to pick him up the next day – and I didn’t get lost trying to make my way from the entrance to the actual garage this time, yay! We ended up waiting for several hours because no one was communicating. The doctor hadn’t come to see him, but we knew he had to be discharged by a certain time or billed for another night in the hospital. Finally I called the nurse and discovered the discharge paperwork was all together already, they just hadn’t gotten around to it. Sigh.

So finally they came to take out all the IVs and such, and after a mild complication – Jason bleeds tons after an IV is removed, it turns out – we were on our way home.

Since then, he’s been well. His throat is sore and he can’t talk loudly, and he’s still on a soft food diet, but he’s recovering well. Our family made it through the third surgery of the summer without major incident. Woohoo! All is well in the Gignacery.

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June 2019 in Review

June has been my family’s busiest month so far in 2019. We had two surgeries, a graduation, two parties that we hosted and another that we attended, college orientation, summer school, Jason changing to a different team at work, Jason’s parents stuck in town for weeks due to their RV situation, and a family member in and out of the hospital. On top of that, one of my best friends is going through a very tough situation that I’ve been trying to help with, and I spent a big chunk of the month going through stupid PTSD limbic-stuck trauma from years ago. To say that I’m spent is an understatement. Just keep swimming…

I don’t generally read for specific themes, and I didn’t mean to read anything specific for Pride month this month. However, I ended up having an accidental Pride month galore, with half of my books featuring various LGBTQIA+ characters or topics. The City in the Middle of the Night had potential to be my favorite of the month, but the abrupt ending threw me, and I think that let a visit from familiar characters in The Alchemist’s Illusion edge it out of first place.

I’ll be honest. My health was pretty poor for the first three weeks of June. I got majorly PTSD-triggered on the 1st and it was all downhill from there. I fell into some really bad habits, stopped tracking all the things I normally track, and pretty much just crashed. I did keep exercising because I love Aquafit and circuit training, plus the boys wanted to go to the gym quite often. At least there was that. I did finally manage to get myself back on track around the 20th. Some of it was sheer determination, and some of it was wrapped up in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which got me out and walking again, gave me something healthy to occupy my brain and time.

(Laurence and Ambrose play with Harry Potter filters)

Highlights of June
Between the crazy schedule, the unexpected problems, and the PTSD stuff, June was a rough month for me, but I still had some good moments to appreciate.

  • hosting friends for dinner
  • Morrigan’s graduation and grad party
  • Morrigan’s oral surgery going smoothly
  • Jason getting medically cleared (no cancer!) and through the first of two medical procedures smoothly
  • finally watching Strangers Things season 2 (just in time!)
  • my cousin’s baby shower –>
  • more Great British Baking Show (I love this show so much!)
  • finally starting the Good Omens mini-series, which is awesome so far

Coming up in July
July will start out crazy again with Jason’s second (and more serious) surgery of the summer, followed immediately by Morrigan heading off for a week hiking part of the Appalachian Trail and my brother arriving in town for a week. Thankfully after that, the rest of the summer will be easy peasy. (Fingers crossed.) July is also a big birthday month: my mom, stepdad, sister, and Ambrose all have birthdays. And right around the time of the last birthday of the month, Laurence will finish summer school. I imagine we might just get about three weeks of nothing-major-scheduled before we take Morrigan up to college and then immediately have a wedding to attend! One month of crazy summer down, two to go!

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Sunday Coffee – Random Thoughts on an Early Morning

-I don’t like being a single mom – though it’s easier with only two kids, kids old enough to mostly look after themselves – and I’m really glad Jason and Morrigan are home from college orientation.

-I’m also glad that Morrigan loved orientation and got a lot out of it, and that the drives up to Kansas and back were safe, if not uneventful.

-The cops in Oklahoma are baffling. You’d think that if you pulled over to check someone on the side of the road, and it’s 3pm and 105 degrees out, and the man and son sitting in the car have run out of gas and will be waiting an hour for the insurance company to arrive with some, you’d say more than, “There’s a gas station at the next exit. Have a nice day.”

-It’s 67 degrees out this morning! First time it’s been under 70 degrees in about two months! Unfortunately it’s about to storm, which means I won’t be taking a walk like I’d like…

-Speaking of walks, why do games like Harry Potter Wizards Unite always come out in the dead of summer? It means that the walking can be quite unpleasant for those of us in the deep south. Why not a fall or spring release, so that everyone in the country can have some pleasantness?

-Speaking of Wizards Unite, I’m still having so much fun. But I was dismayed when I went out to walk several miles on my local hiking trails yesterday morning because of the SOS event that was happening on Saturday, only to get a notice at 1pm that the event was starting now, and by that point it was 100 degrees and I’d already done hours of exercise and about 15k steps. Oh well.

-I discovered during my few days of single-mom-hood that I don’t actually despise cooking like I’ve always thought. What I despise is prepping a meal – planning what to make, and cutting up any meat and veggies needed. I’d happily do the rest of the cooking if these things were done for me.

-I have soooooo much to get done today…

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The City in the Middle of the Night, by Charlie Jane Anders

From Goodreads: Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace — though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below. But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet–before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.

I’ve been thinking about this book for days now, and my experience with it is difficult to describe. First, I’ll say that the pacing, characters, world-building, themes, and philosophic elements are all spot on. It was a wonderful book that way. I could never see where the story was going ahead of time, and it kept taking all these unexpected turns that reminded me of my first experience with Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn: The Final Empire). I like how flawed and nuanced the characters were, and the exploration of small actions having long-reaching consequences, and the way that emotion could too easily overcome rational thought even when you know better. All these things were wonderful, and as I listened to the book, it had the makings of a favorite for 2019.


I don’t know. The ending was…weird. No, the ending was missing. Have you ever been reading a library or secondhand book, and flipped the last page, only to discover that several pages have been torn from the book and you don’t have the last little bit? That’s what the ending of this book was like. It cuts off randomly, in the middle of a scene. It’s not a cliffhanger; it’s not an end to one story or the beginning of another. There’s no conclusion, but there’s also no indication of what might come next. It just ends. I feel like there’s some sort of literary reason for the ending, something along the lines of, “Human behavior constantly repeats itself so it doesn’t matter where in a story we end.” Regardless of whether or not the bizarre, abrupt ending was done for a specific purpose, it was highly dissatisfying. Even if there’s a sequel planned – which I can find no evidence of – it would be dissatisfying. As I said, it wasn’t a cliffhanger. It was just mid-action, almost like ending mid-sentence. An end that isn’t an end, which is frustrating. I know it was done on purpose, but I still don’t like it. It kinda ruined what was a brilliant book for me, and I’m trying to make peace with that, because I loved everything up until that point. I think this might take me some time.

Performance: The audiobook was read by Jennifer O’Donnell and Laura Knight Keating, both of whom did an amazing job and really helped me to feel like I was right there with the action of the story.

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