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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Not Like Last Year

Last year I think I was still depressed at last year's Norwescon; I had recently gotten a new job, true, but I wasn't very good at it, and between that and my imminent AA degree, my brain was just full. I couldn't concentrate on things like panels and workshops.

So I played Ambassador to the Norms.

But this year... this year I was more alert, more in tune with what was going on, and just generally more into it. I went to panels and workshops on writing and even specifically on writing fanfic. I learned about gender diversity in fiction and how pleased many professional writers are with recent trends in the Tomboy Princess trope popularity. I attended a couple on being happy with my body no matter its size (which I'm not, but I'm thrilled that other people are and can be). I heard about comic books for girls and the new Ms Marvel from the writer of that character. I played Pictionary with a science fiction theme and real professional artists. I made contacts and interacted with people.

Pamela (Raven) was there as usual, but so, sooo, tired, poor lady. She has spent the last month organizing, running, and participating in a volunteer massage therapy effort for the search and rescue crews at Oso. She also did not have a second table with a friend to help this year (I think the friend is still up at the mudslide). But she managed to be her usual cheery self, and assorted friends kept sticking food in her mouth as she worked.

I learned about a new edutainment RPG from a couple of kids (well... late teens/early twenties people) out of West Seattle. It's free, and it looks like the mechanics are simple enough for our whole family to play together. It involves time travel and history lessons and I want it. Since it it free for download I think we can probably manage. And honestly, it looks just lovely, and educational and super duper fun as well.

I stuck to my Weight Watchers in spite of really good food and free cookies from the hotel and a comped dessert from Juanita at Roasters because we were disappointed that they don't start the cornbread until four in the afternoon.

Little steampunky hats and corsetry (and Doctor Who bathrobes?) were still big, but the biggest thing this year seemed to be masquerade masks. They are beautiful but they make me claustrophobic.

There were baby Daleks and Steve from Minecraft and any number of lesser costumes. So amazing.

So much fun.

Now it's on to bunnies and eggs and the like at my mom's, who by the way is the Best Grandma Ever, and without whom we could not manage a weekend without the kids every year.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Our school district uses a 1-4 grading system in elementary school.

  • 4 - Exceeding expectations
  • 3 - Meeting expectations
  • 2 - Working toward expectations
  • 1 - Not meeting expectations
Abby has threes in everything, except for "uses writing conventions" (which in her case means spelling), there she has a two.

Lizzy has fours in reading and threes in writing and math (they don't worry much about spelling in kindergarten).

For behavioral things like "working well with others" they use a different scale. Abby consistently gets very high marks in these, and Lizzy somewhat less so (she has yet to master sit-down-and-shut-up (which they call something else) at this time).

But what I really wanted to talk about here was the Magic Treehouse series of early chapter books. They are listed as Scholastic Guided Reading Level M, and Lizzy is at Level L (which means that she reads Level M with an adult in attendance to explain words she doesn't understand, and to dispense hugs when Jack and Annie are in imminent danger of being buried under ash and pumice in Pompeii on Volcano Day).

I adore these books.

Especially because of the way they explain things in an age-appropriate manner. I was especially amused tonight by eight-year-old Jack's definition of civilization in Viking Ships at Sunrise. He defined it as "Books and art and good manners," and I think that's a great working definition for civilization for the intended age group (also eight-ish). Maybe that's the skill Lizzy needs to work on for the behavioral things above.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Interesting Thing

I am in (as is usual) a five-week long class, working toward my BSc in Communication with a specialty in Intercultural Communication.

This class is a 200-level class, and since I have been taking 400-level classes for about a year now, I'm finding this one fairly simple. This means I can play with it a bit.

And because it is a class in Contemporary American Culture, I find myself referencing a lot of Broadway musicals (both American and one originating in the UK) and a few TV shows and movies, and other entertainment media in my posts to the forum, and now I'm even doing it in an essay. It's a class centering on stereotypes and the like, and as troperiffic as I am, I'm finding that I know a lot more of these than I thought.

So far I have referenced or quoted:

  • Porgy and Bess
  • Star Trek 
  • Sesame Street 
  • Lady Gaga's Born this Way
  • The Disney Channel's Jessie and ANT Farm 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
  • Spamalot 
  • South Pacific 
  • Nickelodeon's VicTORIous 
  • Blues' Clues 
  • Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 
  • Family Guy 
  • Doctor Who 
  • Torchwood 
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures 
  • Meet Fred
  • The Hunger Games
  • South Park
In the paper I'm writing at the moment, I am talking about The Jazz Singer and West Side Story.

I really like this class. Having a little trouble with citation though, because I have all this entertainment trivia in my head.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Never Do This...

...but I am today.

I have only asked for prayers / woo-woo / good thoughts on a friend's behalf once before on this blog. I'm not talking about the think-good-thoughts stuff I send out now and again about the kids, like when Leanna got her tonsils out. I'm talking about the big stuff.

Picture taken from Wikipedia Commons
I'm talking about last weekend's mudslide in Oso, WA.

I knew about it, of course; you could hardly miss it.

We got nice emails from family members in other states asking if we were okay (Snohomish County is about 55 miles from top to bottom and we're at opposite borders, but they didn't know that).

I heard about it over and over again on the news, especially as our local public radio station is having their pledge drive this week.

It was tragic, and a tiny bit creepy, a la Mt St Helens 34 years ago this May. But it didn't touch me, as I don't know anyone who lives or works up there, so I was a step removed, you know?

Or so I thought.

Don't get me wrong, my friends who do live up there - I always thought of it as Darrington rather than Oso, and the last time I saw them on their own turf was over ten years ago, so it did not connect for me - they're fine. The leading edge of the slide brushed their driveway but their house is safe.

But that's when it hit home for me. These friends, who have been very close friends in times past and now are friends we see a couple times a year, have lost neighbors. Their teenage kids have lost friends. They're helping with Search and Rescue in their own backyard.

So if you have any spare woo-woo, or prayers, or even good thoughts, send it up Oso way for me, would you?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The _____ makes me _____

Have you ever played Cards Against Humanity? Or Apples to Apples? The first is like a rated R - or even X - version of the second. Most of the words themselves are okay, but the combinations are absolutely terrible. And hilarious to the point where - once again - I needed my asthma inhaler from laughing so hard.  When the least offensive answer to the "What's that smell?" card is the name of a political party, it's a pretty bad situation.

I loved every minute of it, and my ribs still ache from laughing so hard, almost 48 hours later.

We didn't play with the kids in the room, of course, which decision was made simple, because Abby had a friend Angie over for a sleepover in her room, and Lizzy had Nat, elder daughter of two of our best gaming friends, with whom (and two more friends as well) we were making such terrible combinations as Q: "Why am I sticky?" A: "Muscular thighs" in the dining room. And worse.

Far, far worse.

Anyway, Nat's parents and baby sister and the other two friends left around eleven, and we got down to the serious business of sleepovers. Which for the older two - 11yo Abby and nearly-nine Angie - doesn't actually involve sleeping. For Nat (7.5) and Lizzy (6.5) it does involve actual sleep, but for about half as long as they actually need. Which is why we had zombies at breakfast: And how one child (Angie) accidentally bought a movie on our cable, because she just kept clicking OK. Laston told her and Abby that they'd have to pay him back the $4.99 and while I'm not certain whether he simply intended to put the fear of God into them so it wouldn't happen again, Angie at lest took him seriously. This is important later in this post.

Poor Lizzy kept complaining that there was no-one to feed her and her arms were too tired to lift them. So after the other girls went home (Nat's parents came to pick her up but Angie lives close enough that Abby could walk her home), we ran some errands, which resulted in this about halfway through:

And then today, we got up late - sleeping off the Sleepover Hangover - and did laundry and cooking and my schoolwork and packed for Abby's camp next week. At one point my mom took Abby to get some rain boots for said camp, and Angie came in to sk if she and Lizzy could start a lemonade stand. Um... okay, if you have some lemonade. Well, Angie's mom has Kool-Aid, and I have sugar and a pitcher, and they sat outside selling Kool-Aid all day, for ten cents a cup. I gather that Angie wants to use her share to pay Laston for the oops-bought-a-movie. I wonder if he'll accept it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Not Sure About This Growing Up Thing

So Abby is going to Fifth Grade Camp in a couple of weeks. I'm not worried about the epi-pen; the school nurse will be there. I'm not worried about her safety or anything like that... she's done this enough times that the reflexive oh-crap-she-might-eat-a-nut thoughts are few and far between.

We bought her a new sleeping bag (she has a really good one her dad bought, but it lives at the house she shares with him and he's out of town). And I was looking at the list of things they need to pack and on the list was deodorant.

Now, I am fully aware that she's eleven, and that these things happen to eleven-year-olds all the time (although I didn't need deodorant or a bra or anything else until I was thirteen, this post notwithstanding), but deodorant is a required item on the packing list.

I'm going to assume that's for parents who aren't aware that their kids are stinky. I checked. Abby's not.

Lizzy sometimes is, but she's Bouncy McGee and it's a different kind of stink anyway.

Anyway, now I have to buy deodorant for my eleven-year-old. Sheesh. And for those of you who feel this is an intrusion into parenting and an unfair cultural norm, well... you're right. But I remember the kid (we were in seventh grade, not fifth, but still) who nobody liked because she had such a terrible body odor. I don't want my kid to be that kid, and I don't feel strongly enough about this sub-topic to fight it, so I'll follow the rule.

Just yesterday (well, last week) she was doing cartwheels in front of QFC and trying to multiply by fours on the fly.

Dang. Feeling old now.