Farting My ABCs: Chapter 11

April 19, 2020 at 12:58 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which my attempt to get a view of the creek in the frame ends in blood and screaming (but can you see that little bit of brown sludge between Louisette’s rainbow dress and the bridge, behind the reeds and below the bushes? Totally worth it).



I am still attempting to lure Zipper into the hammock with me, and she continues to dance back and forth without getting up the courage to try it. However, she cheerfully jumped onto the trampoline with me (I was luring TJ inside as he clearly needed to burn some energy) yesterday, so perhaps there’s still hope.

She looks like she’s rolling her eyes here, doesn’t she?

We’ve been moving around some furniture in order to accommodate a desk in the master bedroom (so I can still lie down while supervising home schooling) so Zipper’s precious box is now somewhat elevated. She doesn’t seem to mind at all, and still spends much of her day there.

Moving furniture is SO exciting by the way. Try it at home today!

Art of the day: Have I mentioned Pamela Freeman’s Princess Bethony books yet? They’re great.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 10

April 17, 2020 at 11:19 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

Here’s the chapter of the day:

There is a lot of scowling into the sun in this video. If you’ve been watching some “Jimmy Fallon” on Youtube (he’s running his late night show from his house) you see a LOT of his two lovely daughters being utterly unimpressed by his comedy. It’s a beautiful thing (although a little too relatable from where I’m standing).

I often drive past this bridge, and I’ve wanted to take the kids there for years. A few weeks ago, before restrictions became official, I was able to do it (while social distancing, of course).

A lot of people are trying out things they’ve always wanted to try: Baking bread, other cooking, home improvement stuff, etc. I am very jealous of all those very bored and/or very productive people. Parents are mostly just desperately trying to keep their head above water as they suddenly have to deal with all the fun of school holidays with no playgrounds, no shopping trips with kids, no play dates… and a crash course in home schooling. Fun!


Art of the day: A lesson for your middle grader.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 9

April 17, 2020 at 3:08 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

My quest to lure Zipper into the hammock with me continues.

Given that she doesn’t even sleep in my bed, this quest may be doomed to failure. She knows I can never stay still for long. There’s always a million little things to do, so once I rest a little I try and do something useful. Then I need to rest again. Then I do some other small job. And so on.

Here’s Zipper yawning:

Anyway, here’s Chapter 8:

Art of the day:

Willow Farrington Bites Back

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 8

April 16, 2020 at 12:24 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff)

At night, I read a book or three to Louisette and then talk to her for a while as we both lie in bed. Sometimes we both fall asleep. Sometimes Zipper graces us with her presence. And sometimes Chris takes a photo of the three of us, all asleep.


And here’s Chapter 8 of Farting My ABCs.

Art of the day: Recreate famous artworks with items you find at home—a facebook group.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 7

April 15, 2020 at 5:42 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

Yesterday, I left the house. Legally.

We needed a working fridge so our food pantry can have milk—so people who are from (for example) immunocompromised households can pop by my pantry for lunch instead of risking exposure at the regular shops. Technically, I’m now an essential service, since I supply food.

My parents had a fridge, but pretty much all of us have back issues so it needed both Chris and I to be there, helping. Which means the kids needed to come too (and thank goodness, because they really need some exercise and they love Nanny and Grandpa’s trampoline).

I’ll write more about the food pantry, I promise you. It’s filling my brain at the moment (yes, in a manic way).

Anyway, here’s the next chapter of FARTING MY ABCs.


Art of the day: Twenty-Five Memories of Viggo MacDuff by Kate Gordon, which you can buy here. It’s a little older than most middle grade books, since the story is about the aftermath of a romance with the titular Viggo. But I love it because the heroine is realising that her ex isn’t as great as she thought she was when she was in love with him.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 6

April 14, 2020 at 1:54 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels, Steampunk)

For those avidly following my writing efforts, you’ll be pleased to hear that I rewrote a horrifically badly-coded section last night. But it will need another check, probably in a week or two when my brain has had a chance to recover. So the book wasn’t finished on Easter weekend. But it did get a lot, lot better.

Today’s video was filmed in my steampunk room (who doesn’t have a steampunk room?) and I finally managed to convince TJ to get dressed up… for a few seconds.

I ate dinner over Zoom with my side of the family as the Easter weekend began, and it was just as awful as I expected (video conferencing is so socially awkward and I hate it), but also quite lovely. On Friday we ate hot cross buns that I’d been keeping in the freezer (plus ones made fresh on the day by a friend of ours and delivered to our utter surprise), and did a bit of church by Zoom. On Sunday we hunted for eggs in the backyard, and the kids were thoroughly delighted by the whole thing.

But there’s one tradition that I can’t keep, and it’s a little sad. Easter Tuesday is the day when chocoholics rampage through the half-empty Easter shelves, buying weird and much-discounted leftover Easter eggs. I would have enjoyed that.

Ah well.

I am to be congratulated, because I bought our supply of eggs literally months ago and I only ate a little bit of it before Easter. (The key is to have lots and lots of other chocolate and lollies to stave off the egg-specific cravings.) Obviously it was the two delicious lindt bunnies that I ate, since they were meant to be a special surprise for Chris and I. Sorry Chris. Yours was just as delicious as mine was.


Art of the day: The Larklight trilogy (first book is Larklight) written by Philip Reeve. If you haven’t discovered these, you’re in for a real treat. They are hilarious, and brilliantly illustrated too. It’s a steampunk space opera. Philip Reeve is also the writer of the Mortal Engines series (the one with the Peter Jackson movie that was visually brilliant but otherwise pretty bad), which is super dark… Larklight is NOT dark. At all.


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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 5

April 12, 2020 at 10:43 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

Oops, I posted this one early. Well, enjoy.


This is my favourite video, because of what TJ does. And Zipper too.

Yesterday was an alarmingly productive day. I did manage to get some writing done, although I think I may have added more errors than were there before. I also made a no-contact obstacle course with chalk and did more food pantry stuff. I tired.

Incidentally, I am not a vampire. Like most mums, especially overweight mums, I hesitate to appear in photographs. Which means I make sure to take photos of myself regularly. Here’s one from last summer:

Art of the day: Julian Barr writes the Ashes of Olympus series, all based on ancient myths (so yes there’s plenty of battles and so on; not suitable for every middle schooler!) You can find both books here.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 4

April 12, 2020 at 1:53 pm (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

In which someone is missing, and someone else appears for the first time.

I asked TJ this morning if, when he was a grown up, he’d have a cat, a dog, or neither.

“A cat,” he said, “because it would remind me of Zipper.”

That is a cat who knows where it’s at.


My local Buy Nothing (it’s like FreeCycle; a facebook group for giving away stuff, and even requesting it) is particularly good, and a community group has formed because of it. Someone on there was asking if our area had a Free Pantry (operating much like a free local library) and I realised that I was very well placed to have one so… as of about twelve hours ago, I’m running a local free pantry! It’s terribly exciting.

My editing on The Floating City is going pretty well too. I’ll have to be careful to stop my pantry-related excitement and creativity taking over my whole mind.

Art of the day: My own middle grade (8+) fantasy novels are pretty great. They’re sorta like Narnia with pirates. The first book is The Monster Apprentice and you can buy it from my store here.

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Farting My ABCs: Chapter 3

April 11, 2020 at 2:20 am (Cat pics, Free story, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff, My Novels)

This weekend is four days long, which means four days in which Chris is Primary Parent instead of me. Which means I get to focus on writing for four full days in a row (that, and sleeping, and resting). It’s terribly exciting. The end of this round of editing The Floating City is nigh (that is, my latest interactive fiction novel, which is climate change fiction). I’ll post a link for y’all to read it for free when it’s ready for more readers.

And here’s today’s Farting My ABCs Chapter 3 reaction video.

Art of the day (I’m still recommending middle grade novels that are well worth reading as an adult): The Narnia series by CS Lewis. If your first language is English, you’ve probably encountered at least The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (incidentally, rather appropriate for Easter). There are seven books in all.

Some people feel cheated at the Christian content of the books (in which case you probably shouldn’t read my middle grade series either). Others feel that the books are racist and/or sexist, or just generally anti-sex (because of a couple of vital paragraphs about Susan in the final book). I think they’re pretty good in terms of female characters, especially considering they’re written by a man in the 50s. But I can’t comment on racism except to say that one of the Calormenes is a vital and brilliant character in The Horse and His Boy, and that Prince Caspian is a Calormene and the heroic title character of his book (and there is another heroic Calormene in the final book). However, the Calormenes are also described as amazing storytellers, but proud and cruel too.

In story order, the first book is The Magician’s Nephew. In my opinion, all seven books are brilliant.

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The Virus Diaries: School/Depression How-To Guide

April 8, 2020 at 11:41 am (Cat pics, Fully Sick, general life, Mum Stuff)

I’m transitioning now to the massive piles of schoolwork that Louisette and TJ’s extremely hard-working teachers have already prepped. This is week 10 of term 1, so it’s a trial week for the online classrooms that will be serious ‘normal’ school next term.

I’m really loving the mathseeds web site (and by “I” I mean “TJ” who LOVES maths and computer games). You can get a 30 day free trial by clicking through that link.

Today TJ did a “watercolour” picture by scribbling on a freezer bag with texta, then wetting a piece of paper and pressing the texta-marked bag against it. (I had to watch 10 minutes of example videos for that, apparently.) He also made a pattern with hair clips, which was actually really impressive.

Louisette did a writing exercise involving observations of our yard, using as many adjectives as possible. It’s hard as a pro writer to encourage excessive adjectives, but of course one must go through the period of using a bazillion adjectives before you can start cutting back sharply to only the very best.

I have been loudly telling other parents, “DON’T do everything the teachers give you! They are desperately trying to give you a lot of schooling as quickly as possible. But you and your kids will be better off if you’re selective.”

It’s very hard to follow my own advice. But it’s still good advice. Primary kids do NOT need more than 30 minutes of “actual” education per week day. (They do generally need more one-on-one time than that, and if you spend the time doing exercise and/or reading with them, great.) I shall attempt to follow my own advice and skip some of the many many activities prepared for us.

At present Louisette is wearing undies, a hoodie towel, wings, a cat mask, and a tiara.

*  *  *

I’m still quite badly depressed, although less than yesterday which in turn was less than my worst (yay?).

Things that actually help my depression include:

NB: I am generally fond of my kids and husband, but they are complicated and risky blessings. Sometimes they scream at me (the kids, not Chris), or cause physical (due to fibromyalgia, not abuse) or emotional pain. Yes they can make me feel amazing, but when I’m badly depressed it’s wise to limit contact (especially with the kids) if possible. (Obviously it’s not particularly possible at the moment, but retreating to my room and letting Chris do ALL the kid things on the weekend is helpful, especially if/when they exercise outside of the house.)

1. Chocolate. It’s #1 for a reason. Chocolate is often the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. It is reliable, more or less harmless (other than the fact I’ll most likely die of something related to diabetes, hopefully not COVID-19) and it has a noticeable effect on my brain chemistry. Every depressed person should have some chocolate on hand to try in an emergency. It works faster than panadol and is more useful for this kind of pain.

2. Good TV (again, risky because there’s a lot of very dark good TV. Comedy is typically helpful, although fat/racist/sexist/etc jokes can strike without warning). I recommend Brooklyn 99, Gilmore Girls, and How I Met Your Mother.

3. Sunshine. When available. Even a few seconds can help. Sunrises and sunsets are well worth noticing.

4. Exercise. Fibromyalgia makes this a lot riskier (exercise often increases pain) but a little bit usually helps. Like 5 gentle (eg walking, swimming, bike riding) minutes.

5. Getting out of my own head. Reading, worshipping God, working/writing—all potentially useful.

6. Sleep, especially naps or sleeping in.

7. Meditation. There are a lot of different kinds to try. The most important thing is to accept that everyone daydreams/gets distracted during meditation so just accept those random thoughts and don’t feel bad that you have them.

8. Water. Drinking water feels good. If I’m feeling fancy, I add ice and/or a reuseable straw.

9. Friends. Listed last because friends can be tricky too. But mostly friends (especially those that aren’t all that close to you, sometimes) are helpful.

10. Be sick. Wallow. Let things slide. Depression is a sickness, and the right response is to lie in bed for a day or two if that’s what your brain is telling you to do.

I hope that helps as a lot of people are in a similar boat to me, brain-wise, at the moment.

Art of the day: The Samurai Kids series by Sandy Fussell. It’s suitable for middle grade, and is a lovely, gentle, funny series (with illustrations). Some of the characters have suffered severely (one of them accidentally killed another child) but the overall feeling of the books is warm and safe. Most of the characters have some kind of physical disability.

TOMORROW I will begin releasing the 15 videos of myself reading Farting My ABCs to my kids.

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