TWB 24 – Don’t say couple, just say two.

Monday we tried to get a booster for Gideon in the Mini which would allow for more options when it comes to child transportation. Currently there is only one child seat in the Mini and it’s getting tight for Gideon. They didn’t have the color he wanted, so it’ll be picked up from somewhere else later. During a late dinner Gideon chose to watch Sophia the First.
Cecilia had Heather read the Foot Book and me read the sleepover from Pinkalicious.
Gideon had Heather and I both read him stories from his bibles, Heather from the newer one and me from the older one.

Gideon regularly asks us to pick him up late. This ended up happening, unplanned, on Tuesday. He complained that they didn’t get picked up in time to go the indoor park. There is no winning here. Cecilia picked Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at the end of the evening.
Gideon had us both read 5-Minute Marvel Stories.
Cecilia had Heather read The Foot Book and me read Creepy Carrots.

Wednesday the kids got to go to the indoor park at Shoreview Community Center after school. In an effort to get Cecilia to stop spending every night attempting to raid Gideon’s room for books Heather dropped Gideon off after and brought Cecilia to the library to pick out her own story, like Gideon gets to do at school every week. For a show Gideon picked Sopiha the First.
Cecilia had Heather read her library book, R is for Robot, and I read her Gideon’s latest class book.
Gideon had me read a story from his library book and Heather read him his class book.

Thursday we had Cecilia’s conference at Love to Grow On. (They are a non-profit in case you have some extra donation money available this year. I might be able to make a whole new post about them even.) Of course I forgot it was happening and got there late. When we got home the kids had to help with all the pick-up and then they were allowed to play games on the Nintendo for a bit. At the end of the night Cecilia picked Sophia the First.
Gideon had us both read his library book.
Cecilia had us both read her library book.

Friday the Huisinga’s got to watch the kids while Heather and I went out. We are blissfully unaware of the details concerning the evenings activities.

Saturday was family picture day. Heather found, through Renee I believe, someone offering quick little mini-sessions from her home studio at an affordable rate. This idea suited us, so off we went to Elk River. Afterwords we spent some time sledding at Lion’s Park in Elk River, the oil changed at Cornerstone Auto, and barely made it to the 5:00 church service. Gideon picked Spongebob Square Pants for an evening show. I’m not sure we’ll watch it again soon, it was really strange.
Cecilia had us both read Zara Zebra, two books.
Gideon had us both read his library book.

Sunday we had a little more low-key of a day. I took the kids to the community center while Heather went shopping and she took them to play outside while I rested later on. (After her and the kids had rest-time.) A little Amazing Race rounded out the day with Cecilia asking about the girl with the broken arm. She then picked Spongebob. I tried. Luckily there’s only one or two more available before they will have seen them all.
Cecilia had Heather read When You Give a Dog a Doughnut while I read When You Give a Moose a Muffin.
Gideon had both us read from the 5 Minute Marvel Stories book again.

TWB 23 – Cheeseburger with only the cheese.

Monday was our first big snow of the year. This time around it came without the huge drive it would have in the past for Heather, and without the rushing home to clear the driveway it had me doing. The driveway here was quite icy though, so we may need to supplement a little with ice melt and/or light shoveling. After a thrown together dinner Cecilia picked a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for our evening enjoyment.
Cecilia and Gideon had Heather read Gideon’s latest school book to them. Gideon had me read it to him a second time.
Cecilia had me read her Oliver and Hope’s Adventure Under the Stars.

Tuesday we went up to Elk River for dinner with the Huisinga’s. The kids weren’t really playing together the best this time around. Cecilia was doing mostly her own thing, Isaiah got tired of playing with Gideon after just a bit, and Gideon didn’t want to play with Lydia. In all it was a bit of a chaotic night. The kids watched the beginning of Frozen on the way there, and on the way back they watched Elsa’s castle building scene 4 times before fast-forwarding to the end. (Gideon got hold of the remote while I was getting ready to go to the van.) I let them finish the last ten minutes after we were all home.

With Heather having forgotten her phone at home Wednesday wasn’t supposed to be anything special. (Otherwise she might have taken the kids to the Shoreview Community Center for indoor playground time.) Gideon ended up having a bit of a rough night and losing his show privileges, so Cecilia picked Dora to watch on her own.
While Cecilia watched Dora Gideon and I read Otis and the Scarecrow and There’s No Place Like Space. We took our time reading and talked about the books some since we had the time to take while the show was on for Cecilia. heather started to read him the Otis book, but he decided he was tired and didn’t want to finish.
I read Cecilia The Robot Book and Heather read her Otis and the Scarecrow.

Thursday the kids did get to go play at the indoor park. This was after Gideon had a rough day at school including two notes home and a phone call. I talked with him about it at night and it felt like we made some progress. Time will tell.  After a honey mustard chicken stir fry the kids usually love Gideon got to pick Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
Gideon had me read him The Robot Book, and I think Heather as well as Gideon was reading most of the book on his own and likely wanted to show her.
Cecilia had Heather read Ho Ho Tucker. She really wanted a Christmas book for some reason. I got to read her the Palace Pets again.

Friday we had big ambitions in mind, but reality set in quickly. Our stop at home to get Heather was slowed down by bathroom beaks. We did still manage to get haircuts for the kids though. They also got to play at the Burger King play place nearby for a bit to run off energy. After a night that went far to late for what it was we came home to a show but no stories. Cecilia didn’t make it down in time to pick, so Heather put on a new Doc McStuffin’s for them. Cecilia proceeded to stay awake for another hour or hour and a half after that.

Saturday started out being a bit of a low-key day at home. The kids just didn’t want to go anywhere after breakfast. They were doing well playing with each other and it seemed like a bad idea to try forcing them to behave in a store. Heather likely got the shopping done faster as a result, so there’s that. After church we brought the kids to the community center for some indoor playground time. Gideon wanted to go out to eat after we were done. To his credit he said we should do Applebee’s and not McDonald’s  because we had gone to Burger King the day before. We did end up going to Panino’s due to a lack of thawed out foods for dinner. And Red Robin having a 45 minute wait just to be seated. (Immediate seating at Panino’s.) Since our night was extended a little later than planned due to back-tracking to find a restaurant and leaving the indoor playground later than planned the kids got to watch another new Doc McStuffins and have no stories.

Sunday we had our first day at the pool part of the community center planned. It was also the last day of the family movie series which allowed us to watch How To Train A Dragon 2. As per usual Gideon liked it more than Cecilia. After a successful 1.5 hours at the pool we headed home for a low-key evening. We let Cecilia pick Mickey Mouse Clubhouse as a kind of reset, and Gideon will start the week with his choice on Monday.
Gideon had both of us read Otis and the Scarecrow.
Cecilia has Heather read Baby Dear while I read Color Kittens, both from the Little Golden Book Collection: Sleepytime Tales.

TWB 22 – Do you want my ears to get cold?

Monday I visited Gideon’s school for his classes “morning meeting.” This made Gideon pretty happy and was an interesting little look into their class. We spent a tiny amount of time at the park after getting Gideon while the last light faded after school. Gideon picked Sheriff Callie to watch after Heather headed out to MOPS.
Since it was just me the kids had to share stories. Gideon picked his new library book, Otis and the Puppy, while Cecilia wanted the Tonka Phonics books again. I let her pick 4.

Tuesday Gideon did his homework really fast, and accurate. Cecilia wanted to do her homework as well. Of course it had to include cutting just as Gideon’s did. Luckily we decided to make a copy of Gideon’s before he started, so Cecilia could do the same thing. Their show was Jake and the Neverland Pirates picked by non other than Cecilia. They both missed the very beginning because they were playing upstairs instead of getting ready though.
Tonight was a dual read night for Cecilia. We each read her Palace Pets Cuddly Princess Pals. (She mentioned wanting the other palace pets books shown in the back if you need gift ideas.)
Gideon had Heather read his new library book since she missed out the night before. I read the Mega Machines book because he “wasn’t paying attention last time.”

Wednesday Heather had a work function that ran into the early evening so I got to pick the kids up and make dinner. (We usually split those tasks out.) I was running late due to traffic after stopping at the store and we didn’t eat until 6:30 or so. Gideon picked How It’s Made, and stuck with the choice this time. We didn’t make Cecilia watch this choice due to her age. She got to watch Dora upstairs. The shows ran a little long due to issues with getting connected to the cable box.
Cecilia had Heather read her Gideon’s latest book from school and then I ended up getting to read the Critters Easter book.
Gideon also had Heather read his school book. Usually a new school book is read by both of us, but this time I ended up reading the Weights and Measures book from Cecilia’s room. I also got a “you’re silly daddy” from Cecilia for forgetting to bring it back to her room after Gideon was done. In my defense it used to be in Gideon’s room.

Thursday we had small group. With the new colder weather that meant we hurried out to have enough time for a stop at Shoreview Community center for the indoor playground. We decided not to renew the YMCA membership this winter and instead go with this place. We’ll see how that pans out over the next few months. After group we don’t get home until sometime shortly after 8 which means no show on group nights.
Gideon had me read him Otis and the Puppy again while Heather fought with Cecilia to get her to pick a story. Cecilia was really, really tired. Eventually a story was read and Cecilia was calm.

Friday the Husinga kids spent dinner, playtime, and a show here while their parents went on a date. The show was Jake and the Neverland pirates, but I’m not sure who picked it. In theory it was Cecilia’s turn, but we like to give guests the option of a show in cases like this. It was already underway by the time I got down to see.
The kids did get stories from Heather, but I wasn’t home from watching the others until after 10. Gideon told me he got Otis and the Puppy while Cecilia told me she got her Princess Pals book again.

Saturday winter gear got updated where necessary. After church Cecilia wanted Dora, which got Gideon upset. Turns out she’d seen them all, so we went for Sophia the First instead.
Heather got to read the Foot Book to both kids while I read Otis and the Puppy two times.

Sunday we finally finished America’s Got Talent. While I’m sure we are the last people who care finding out I’ll refrain from a straight-up spoiler. Suffice to say that the act the kids wanted to win did. Heather and I were also happy about what kind of act didn’t win. (That’s kind of a spoiler, but I digress.) Now we just have 6 episodes of The Amazing Race to catch up on… Gideon picked Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for a bedtime show.
Cecilia had Heather read What Makes You Giggle while I read the Palace Pets. Again.
Gideon had me read him There’s No Place Like Space and I missed what Heather read him.

TWB 21 – Halloween

Monday there was a special Science Fair like presentation at Gideon’s school. It wasn’t put on by students, but was more of a demonstration/info session for the students. We went to this and got to see/do a couple of cool things like extracting strawberry DNA. There were a lot of people though and Gideon wasn’t really into the crowds and lines. At home Cecilia picked Dora. Due to the late night they each had to pick one parent/story combo for the night.
Gideon had me read him Fly Guy and Buzz Boy. This is the latest book he got from the library at school.
Cecilia had Heather read Walter the Baker.

Tuesday Gideon worked on the color book from his class like a champ. He must have worked on that thing for an hour or more. For a show Gideon picked Henry Hugglemonster after deciding Dirty Jobs wasn’t the right show. (He did start by wanting to watch it though, for around 5 minutes.)
It was another night of reading from the same book for the kids. On the bright side this time wasn’t reading the same story though, just from the same book. Cecilia picked the Richard Scarry collection. Gideon picked the Hot Wheels book.

Wednesday we all went to Cecilia’s last dance class. She really enjoyed the intro to dance series and we may revisit dance and gymnastics as things for her to do in the future. We had dinner out afterwords and Cecilia saw a girl from daycare, who she spent 5 minutes calling out to. Cecilia picked Dora the Explorer for the nighttime show.
Cecilia read Flu Guy and Buzz Boy with Heather while I read some of the Tonka Phonics books with her.
Gideon read his class book about what they want to be when they grow up with each of us. Nobody will be surprised to know that his entry was airplane pilot.

Thursday was just this side of a disaster. We’ve had a few busy days and hadn’t gotten pumpkins yet. Apparently there is a pumpkin shortage this year. In hindsight we should have keyed in on this due to the CSA but didn’t. I made a few calls and went on an exploratory run while Heather helped Gideon finish the color book from school. I found pie pumpkins at Festival. On the bright side when I excitedly told the kids we were going to try out small pumpkin for carving this year since there weren’t big ones anywhere Gideon responded with an excited “We’ve never made small pumpkins before!” So the night was more or less saved excepting Heather’s massive headache. Also, it was getting late and Cecilia was getting really touchy. After late showers Gideon picked Henry Hugglemonster and the kids went to bed with no stories.

Friday was Halloween of course. Cecilia was excited almost like it was Christmas. Heather helped with both class parties, bringing their costumes to them. I only mention it as I felt a little bad when dropping Gideon off and all the kids were putting their costumes on at the day care. (2 hour late start school day.) Heather took the trick or treating this year. They walked the entire neighborhood and found a very low house participate rate. The kids had fun and felt like they got enough though. What they didn’t feel like they got enough of was handing out candy. They got to the point of sitting out on the front step looking for people to come by. They only were involved in handing out candy to about 4 people, and one more came by while they were out. Handing out candy is something they seem to like more than getting it.
Cecilia picked Henry Hugglemonster and due to the late hour we had no stories.

Saturday Gideon picked Jake and the Neverland Pirates after we watched the beginning of the latest season of Amazing Race. It was a decent end to a long day which saw us getting the main level mostly cleaned, with the kids help, and a park trip after church.
Cecilia got the Cupcake Fairy from Heather and the Sophia Halloween Ball story from me.
Gideon had both of us read him his new Creepy Carrots book.

Sunday. What a day. We tried to get to the 10:30 showing of the family movie series, but ended up running just a few minutes later than we wanted to deal with. That ended up landing us at Tamarack Nature Center for a little bit of outside fun. After that was Applebees for lunch and up to see Rio 2. Once Cecilia figured out it was “blue birds” she about jumped up and down for joy. We finished the day with time at the indoor and outdoor play areas at the Shoreview Community Center and showers before bed. Cecilia picked Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Gideon had both of us read him the latest book from his class. This one was a color recognition one of some kind. They each wrote a color and animal for what they saw.
Cecilia picked Gideon’s Jake and the Neverland Pirates Trick or Treasure book from me while Heather read her the class book of Gideon’s.

TWB 20 – Cold Weather Is Coming (No, really! It’ll be here any day now!)

Monday was dance class this week. The Y is doing updates to their kid center this week and the room that is usually used for dance is going to be the temporary kids center. I picked up Cecilia and after class Gideon. Heather was home sick. After dinner Cecilia picked Henry Hugglemonster.
I read to both kids at the same time so Heather could stay in bed and not have to try reading. Cecilia picked her Barbie Princess book and I think Gideon picked a step into reading book based on The Lego Movie that he borrowed from the school library.

Tuesday the Huisinga’s came by and I made a Honey Mustard Chicken Stir-Fry that all the kids liked. What are the chances? The visiting kiddos didn’t stay around for the show as it tends to get really late when we do that now days. (There is a 30 minute drive waiting for the family that is visiting.) After they left Gideon got to pick Octonauts.
Because of how late it had gotten I told them no stories. This has about a 75% chance of happening on the days the Huisinga’s come for dinner or we go to their house.

Wednesday I was behind the ball on dinner. It wouldn’t have been much, but I forgot the side dishes. On the bright side Heather got both kids through the bath/shower process. After dinner Cecilia picked Henry Hugglemonster again.
Gideon had both of us read from the Hot Wheels book he got from the book fair. He only wanted me to read one entry though because he was getting really tired.
Cecilia had her Barbie book on the bed when I asked what we were reading. When I asked if that was what we were reading she quickly went “no no no”  in the same voice she uses to call me a “silly billy”. As she said it she, without hesitation, went and got The Berenstain Bears Easter Parade instead. (She usually takes awhile to pick a book.) Heather looked to be reading her some pages from the Richard Scarry collection.

Thursday came and went. With it was Gideon choosing Sherrif Callie. (Some days are just like that.)
Cecilia read Bobcat Bootcamp with Heather and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Party was the story picked for me.
Gideon read the Lego Movie book again, twice.

Friday was a date night for Heather and I. The kids watched Scooby Doo on the drive here with Heather. Well, they said it was kind of Scooby Doo. A green dog one or something. I don’t really know the details. They read Pinkalicious and “a cow one” at the Husinga’s before coming home I guess. Good times all around.

Saturday we spent time at a park or two, of course. After church the kids wanted a park so badly, and they were so creative in how they told us, that we decided to stop. We also had to stop at Target on the way home to get some groceries. That was an experience. The kids were bouncing around so much you’d think they hadn’t left their rooms in a week. Cecilia picked a Halloween Dora when we finally settled down to a show, which was also dinner because we ended up eating so late.
Gideon had us both read the Lego book from the library again.
Cecilia had the Lego book from Heather and a Pinkalicious story from me. (Zoo day)

Sunday was the third of six in the family movie series at the White Bear Muller Family Theaters. Last week was Earth to Echo (modern-day E.T. clone) and this one was Mr. Peabody and Sherman. Cecilia continues to be on the edge of able to watch these. She gets scared at the climax of each one so far. Of course, we know this going in to each one and are already holding her and talking to her as those parts come up. We also visited Grandma and Grandpa Nelson at their new place, got stranded at the park by their new place requiring a jump-start from Brad, and barely managed to finish the finals of America’s Got Talent. Just the final result show left. Gideon picked Handy Manny when this was all done, half an hour earlier than normal as they needed to get to bed. They were both asleep by 7:40, likely a record over the last year.
Cecilia had both of us read from the Richard Scarry collection again.
Gideon had me read There’s No Place Like Space while Heather read him The Little Penguin.

TWB 19 – Autumn Sets In

Monday we started the week by heading to the book fair at Gideon’s school after dinner. The kids each got to pick out one book. They started by going almost straight for the two books they just ordered. This was a little impressive as there were at least a dozen small bookcases displaying their wares. We did convince them both to get something new though. When we got home we watched Jake and the Neverland Pirates by way of Cecilia’s choice.
Cecilia had us both read her new Barbie a True Princess book.
Gideon brought home another class book. I’m starting to think they make a new book every day. Heather and I split reading it to him.

Tuesday was patent-teacher conferences for Gideon. Grandma Nelson got to hang out with the kiddos for longer than we thought it would take. Also, the cable was out. They did pretty well though. Because the cable was out there were no shows. Because we got back so late it was one story per child. Cecilia had Heather read her a story and I just talked with her briefly. Gideon had yet another class book which Heather and I split reading to him.

Wednesday I got to take Cecilia to her dance class for the first time. Gideon got to stay at Love to Grow on until 5:45 or so. After dinner and a bit of a rough night Gideon picked Jake and the Neverland pirates.
It was another night of repeated readings. Heather got to read both kids et another classroom book from Gideon. I’m pretty sure we’re averaging 2 a week at this point. I got to read a new book about construction and building that Gideon picked up from their book fair. He had a $6 gift certificate from the summer reading program that he got to spend how he wanted. He also picked up two bookmarks, one for his sister, and an eraser shaped like a gamepad.

Thursday was our new small group. That means we got home too late for a show. They also only got one story each due to time. I believe Heather read to both of them and I’m really not sure what she read.

Friday we watched the Huisinga kids. They picked Octonauts for a show. After I left with the kids Heather read to the kids.
Cecilia picked the Berenstain Bears Easter while Gideon wanted part of his new Hotwheels book he got from the book fair.

Saturday we got flu shots as a family. Cecilia didn’t do so well Gideon wasn’t to hip on the idea either, but once it happened he was super proud and no longer afraid. He was asking when he next time he could get a shot was. After church, some time at a park, and three more acts from the semi-finals of America’s got talent Cecilia picked Dora for our night-time show.
Cecilia had mom read her the Tonka sounds books while I read her Gideon’s Ninja Turtles Pizza Party book.
Gideon read Sheep Blast Off with both Heather and I.

Sunday was a bit of a low-key day. We had originally been planning o hit a couple parks. We figured we’d get outside in the morning and afternoon. Then Cecilia didn’t feel good. Neither did Heather. Cecilia we think just got spun around a little too much at the first park. Heather was coming down with something. After starting the finals for America’s Got Talent (we’ll start Amazing Race before Christmas, I’m sure of it) Gideon picked our show. I don’t actually remember what it was.
Cecilia had Heather read her the Ninja Turtles Pizza Party book after which I read her Pirate Fairy.
Gideon was going to have me read his new Machines book, couldn’t find his new Hotwheels book, and ended up with both of us reading Sheep Blast Off again.

Amazon is Back in Minnesota

I used to have an Amazon Affiliates account. I opened it when I started my original blog a decade or so ago. (I think that blog is finally offline.) I never made “real” money off of it. I got some affiliate earnings (small commissions that never change the purchasers price paid) and I had them deposited as credits to the associated amazon account a long time ago. It wasn’t enough to notice.

A little over a year ago the account was cancelled. It wasn’t because I was hardly using it, though that would’ve been understandable. It was an attempt to collect sales tax from retailers such as Amazon by the state legislature. Here’s a Star Tribune story on the event from then. Here’s an opinion piece from earlier this year that somewhat mirrors my own thoughts on the mess when it happened.

Around the time I started Our Agile Journey I sought out a way to have occasional affiliate links on that site.I learned of Amazon affiliate aggregation. Basically, a company creates an affiliate account and then has multiple people creating links for that affiliate account. Each individual persons contributions contribute to a volume goal that ups the affiliate percentage for pay outs. The company organizing it skims a touch off the top. The result is a higher pay-out for smaller blogs that couldn’t get that kind of throughput on their own and a bit of pay for the organizer. While this was initially something I thought I could do, it turns out that members of these affiliate groups need to be qualified individually to participate in the Amazon program.

With Amazon completely out of the picture I looked for more general aggregators and found VigLink. With them I was able to link to Barnes and Noble. Not as good, but still a good think.

Recently, at the beginning of this month actually, Amazon re-opened it’s affiliate program to Minnesota. Likely they are opening a distribution or data center somewhere in the state. Not that important to me honestly. What it does mean is I can start using Amazon Affiliate links again.I am curious as to how affiliate links work with the Amazon Smile program. I always assumed that the Smile program shunted what would otherwise be affiliate earnings to the charity chosen by the purchaser.

Instead of reactivating my Amazon Affiliate account I have decided to have VigLink activate my account for Amazon. I have also decided to start using it here. After all, I make a weekly post with up to 14 book titles and 7 show/movie titles. Each of those could be a link that pays a small percentage back to our family if someone thinks their kids might like the story and click-through to buy it as well. VigLink responds to support inquires pretty fast. I expect that this site will be Amazon approved by the time the next post goes up. Maybe this will help me do a better job of identifying exactly what book the kids are reading?

TWB Ep 18 – Fall Activities Commence

Monday started this year’s MOPS season. Heather decided to continue taking part in the one out in Elk River. We decided that once a month was a good trade-off for the benefits she receives in attending. Cecilia picked Jake and the Neverland Pirates for the nightly show.
Since it was just me I had them each bring one story to our room and they got to hear each others. From Gideon we got The Sailor Dog and from Cecilia we got the Sophia Tea Party book, read as Princess Cecilia and friends again.

Tuesday is Huisinga dinner night this week. No show at home, but Madagascar on the drive.
Also no stories since we stayed a little late and played Nintendo.

Wednesday I actually felt a little bad picking up Gideon. I got there right when it was time for them to go play outside in the playground. Since I was just taking him to play alone at a playground I started wishing we had planned for Heather to get him on the way home from Cecilia’s dance class. Gideon picked Octonauts for a show.
Cecilia picked The Pirate Fairy for a story from Heather and I got to read Hope and Olivers story about camping.
I read Gideon a book from their class while Heather read him his Turtles Pizza Party book.

Thursday I took the kids to a park while Heather got the house ready for a deep cleaning on Friday. Cecilia picked Sophia the First for a show.
I believe Cecilia did another double Sophia Tea Party again.
Gideon had a library day and got a new “level 2″ book. It’ about droids in the Star Wars universe. We both read it to him.

Friday Heather spent time with the kids at a park. We had a bit of a late meal and ended the day with Gideon picking Chuggington.
I’m not sure what Heather read Cecilia but I got to read her Hope and Oliver’s camping trip again.
Gideon seems to have learned from Cecilia and we both read him Sheep Blast Off.

Saturday was the first day of a long weekend. The morning was spent at the corn maze on the Brooklyn Park/Champlin border. The afternoon was spent at the Lexington Fire Station and Church. The nighttime show, after a little more America’s Got Talent, was Jake and the Neverland Pirates courtesy of Cecilia.
Cecilia had me read her Gideon’s Ninja Turtles book I’m not sure what she had Heather read her, but it may have been Sheep Blast Off.
Gideon had me read him the same thing Heather read him, the Ninja Turtles Pizza Party book.

Sunday is the second day of this long weekend. In the morning we went to “our farm” to get our final fall share and some potatoes. It was a rough year for them resulting in even the squash levels being a bit low. Except spaghetti squash. They had lots of that. We also dug potatoes for a bit, and Gideon loved that. On the way home we stopped at White Bear Lake theater for their fall family movie series. We get a total of 6 movies for all of us and I think the total was about $20. This week was The Lego Movie. It got a bit intense for Cecilia near the end, but Gideon really liked it. After our usual watching of America’s Got Talent (still on the first semi-finial, and falling behind on amazing Race) Gideon picked Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Cecilia was pretty tired. I ended up reading her Oliver and Hope’s Amazing Adventure after some consternation. I think Heather read her the same thing she read Gideon.
Gideon started with one of the class books they make at Kindergarten read with Heather. I read him his borrowed Droid book.

TWB Ep 17 – New Windows

Monday night was Cecilia’s turn to pick. Gideon had a rough time for a bit when he got home from school, but seemed more or less fine after a little time by himself waiting for dinner. Cecilia picked Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
Cecilia wanted her current favorite of Richard Scarry from me. I’m pretty sure Heather read her the same.
Gideon had Heather read him The Sailor Dog and then asked me to read him Duck on a Bike. At first he asked me to read The Sailor Dog, but I asked if he was sure since he just had it read to him.

Tuesday the kids took their showers while I finished making dinner since I got home later than normal. Gideon picked Handy Manny.
Cecilia had both Heather and I read her new Sophia the First book. It’s about a tea party.
Gideon started with his new Learning Steps (2) book starring the Ninja Turtles. It was about them leaving the sewers for the first time, saving April, and eating pizza. I’m not sure where his fascination with the Ninja Turtles came from, but it’s there.

Wednesday was a bit of a rough day. Gideon had his worst day in regards to certain stinky problems in a long time. The kids didn’t want to eat their dinner at all, a relatively bland chicken tortilla soup with cheese and sour cream. Cecilia picked Handy Manny for a show.
Cecilia didn’t get a story from Heather. She wanted to borrow Gideon’s new Ninja Turtles book, but he said he wasn’t ready to share it. She threw a fit and wouldn’t pick a different story.
Gideon appears to have gotten Berenstain Bears Easter from Heather and I read him Walter the Baker. When I went to try seeing if Cecilia wanted something he finally told her she could borrow the Ninja Turtles book.

Thursday we tried a new church small group for the first time. As a side effect the kids didn’t get a show, we didn’t get home until 8:15 or so. We did still get stories though.
Cecilia had me read her the new Sophia book. Not sure about what Heather read her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the same.
Gideon had me read him the Berenstain Bears Easter and Heather read him Walter the Baker.
Friday I decided it was too cold and windy to stop at a park on the way home. It ended up being a bit of a slow night. Gideon wanted a Halloween Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Luckily we had two saved.
Cecilia was a bit of a pickle for storytime tonight. It was her Sophia book again, but halfway through she started having me change the names to match her friends from school. Heather had to deal with that the whole time though.
Gideon had his TMNT Pizza Party book from Heather. For me he asked Cecilia if he could borrow her Cupcake Fairy book. She said yes so that’s what I read him.

Saturday we got to see a fire truck at Home Depot when we went for the first Saturday kids workshop. We also managed two short park trips and a sit-down restaurant dinner. Cecilia wanted a Halloween Jake and the Neverland Pirates. (Sound familiar?) No stories tonight though. We got home a little too late.

Sunday was Halloween costume day. Really it wasn’t, but by the end it seemed like it was. 9 Target stores later and we still need to return two bags to the store, but I digress. Gideon has all the components of his Leonardo costume and the last piece of Cecilia’s Elsa costume should get here Wednesday. To cap the night off Gideon picked Octonauts.
Cecilia continued her Princess Sophia story track for Heather, but I got to read Olivia instead.
For Gideon I got the short one today with Gideon’s battle from the very beaten up first bible story book he had. Heather started reading something out of Dr Suess, but Gideon admitted he was falling asleep so they didn’t finish it.

Finally Under 20

It feels like defeat. The number has passed 200. I knew it was coming.

I should probably back up a little here. This summer we took a vacation. I had every intention of spending time on that vacation reading and writing. Specifically I was planning to spend time reading and writing about Agile in various ways. The details aren’t all that important because it didn’t happen. The details of why it didn’t happen are also fairly unimportant. It’s really the aftermath I’m looking at.

The aftermath of over 200 unread posts showing on my news reader. The aftermath of two weeks worth of unread emails from LinkedIn groups, up to 5 a day in some cases. The unread stream on Twitter and Facebook.

The numbers weren’t that large at first. They were smaller, but still pretty big. They also kept getting bigger. This brought feelings of being overwhelmed. It created a negative feedback loop. On an intellectual level I knew there were various solutions to the problem. The most obvious one, information decay.

For Twitter and Facebook information decays extremely fast. For a time I used to try to at least skim every thing that went by on each of these services. Over time my use case has changed and I now accept that I am going to skip a lot of what comes through. I have become OK with that. This was part of getting out of that negative feedback loop. It was only part of it because I had a lot of trouble letting information decay from some of the other sources. There I had to accept relevancy.

I have 224 feeds in my news reader. There is no direct translation between number of feeds and number of articles. Truth is, some feeds can pop out 20 articles in a day and some only deliver 1 on a good month. I had to stop reading things that were only of passing interest and focus on things of real interest. This is hard for me.

I have long been driven to know as much as I can. I internalized early in life that “knowledge is power.” Possibly it was from seeing it on a splash screen in Mortal Kombat. (Though apparently the correct quote was “There is no knowledge that is not power.”) For some reason it stuck, like “all your base are belong to us” stuck for some. Maybe it stuck due to the concept of “grok” from Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” which I had read the first time some years earlier. In any event, this aspect of me made it hard to let go of certain articles that seemed interesting as ones I would never read. I did it though.

Eventually the number started to come down. The number of new feeds added per month has also finally dropped below 1. When the number finally crossed below 100 I started to think about speed-reading as a way to read more in the time I had. Sometime in the week or two following the Amazon free app of the day was a speed reading trainer so I figured, why not?

I’ve taken an initial test or two for baseline and started to work the “training” part of it. I’m not sure how well it will translate into actual reading of books and on-screen content though. I will likely post an update at some point in the future.

What I do know is that my number is down below 20. (It had been falling steadily before I started to look into speed reading, so that’s not a factor.) I also know that all of those are actually links to podcasts that I am slowly finding time to listen to, and not 1 is to an article for me to read.