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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Out of the Mouths and Texting Fingers

It's been a weird week. Part of this is that Abby was up visiting her dad's mom for the week, and things are often strange when that happens. I think we don't realize how much Abby does around here (even though I often have to nag her tween self into it) until she's not here. When the hubs has to empty the dishwasher every day because Abby isn't here to do it, or when I have to take care of the cat every single time, that's when we realize.

But part of the weird week is because without Abby here, what Lizzy does (and says) is magnified in our eyes. I heard detailed reports of Lizzy (nearly seven) and her little cousin (nearly five) discussing the relative merits of vaginal versus cesarean delivery in the backseat of Grandma's car, complete with Lizzy explaining to her cousin that even if she was born in the eighth month, she was still in her mommy's tummy for nine months; "her seed must have been planted in December."

Out of the mouths indeed.

And then today as I was heading up to Abby's dad's to pick her up, I texted him with "OOW" to let him know we were, well, on our way (don't worry; I was at a red light and it was a short text). He sent back a reply saying "Do u mean OTW?" which I took to mean On The Way, but that was one I hadn't seen before. Who knew there were regional differences in texting between here and 22 miles north of here?

I find it a little sad that many of my customers thank me for "speaking English."

I also find it sad that some of my classmates - in a class on Contemporary Latin America, no less - think that immigrants who are here without papers are the biggest problem we as a country face. You'd think that by the time we were this far into degrees in Communications that people would be a little more tolerant.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to be competent at my job. Oh, I don't really have a problem with the soft skills, but I feel like I'm starting to grok the tools too.

These are random thoughts about communication, brought to you by homework performed while watching Tad the Lost Explorer - a movie from Spain and localized to the USA - with the kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Freeing

Two things have happened in the past two days that give me an uncanny sense of freedom, which is a bit strange for me in these particular contexts.

One has to do with my books. If you have ever read my posts at all, you know that I am very fond of books. In fact, there are so many posts about my bibliophilia that I won't even bother posting links; you can just click on almost any month in that archive and find one.

Now, I have always been a fan of used book stores, especially Half Price Books, because I do outgrow certain stories, or find something that I think I've been dying to read because I think I recognize it, but it turns out to be a pile of poo from a different author, and what I recognized was the cover artist's style. But I have rarely taken (my own) books to HPB en masse; I love them too much to give them up for the most part.

However, that can also be a problem. Here's the example I used that made the Hubs do that little signal that means you got it on the nose: I adore +Diane Duane, everything of hers I have ever read, including her Star Trek novels. There are very few of these particular ones that I will reread, and hers are among the few (Doctor's Orders is a favorite, as is Spock's World). But here I was keeping a bunch of Trek novels (to complete the set) by other authors that I may have reread when I was twenty, but hey, I'm 45 now, and aside from Duane's, there are about six Trek novels - all eras - that I will reread.

And I can use the money - the two trips I've taken so far (only so much will fit in my car) - have each netted enough to pay for a few small things where we've been having trouble making ends meet. And I found that it's actually kind of exhilarating for me to go through all these books and determine which I (or the kids) am likely to read again, that I can't get free on my Kindle because of Public Domain, and that - hopefully - I will never need again.

That's right; Elmo Goes Potty is now the property of the HPB in Lynnwood WA.

Of course each child gets a little something while we're there. You didn't think I was buying all those Magic Treehouse books full price online, did you? And they only cost $2 at HPB, rather than, well, twice that or more.

So yes, it's kind of freeing. I think I've gone through over half of my enormous collection of books. And I expected to be upset and am pleased to find out that I am not

The other freeing thing was that Lizzy has proven capable of making a fairly decent breakfast for herself if circumstances are right. She's not at Abby's level of scrambled eggs, of course, but she can now make toast, cereal, fruit, and a glass of milk or juice on her own (I say the circumstances have to be right becuause they's not big enough to lift an pour a gallon milk jug if it's over 3/4 full).

That's kind of amazing.

And freeing.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's a WinCo WinCo Situation

I know that you know how much I adore Grocery Outlet. It's inexpensive and although I have to be extra careful on reading labels so we don't have a Nut Incident (not everything is a national brand with which I am familiar), I really do like shopping there.

But the selection is sometimes lacking, and that's where the nuts become an issue, because if there is not a nut-free brand of - say - breakfast cereal I'm out of luck.

And as I am on an extremely tight budget right now I can't really see going to my usual local haunts or having groceries delivered, because I just don't have the cash. My Costco card is expired and I don't have the money to renew it either, so I need cheap food that's decent for all of us (including the allergic) and cheap to boot.

This is where WinCo Foods comes in.

They have a greater selection - much greater - than Grocery Outlet, and much cheaper prices than Safeway or QFC or the other major chains. As much as I would like to buy all organic foods from Whole Paycheck Foods, I don't have the cash. So off to WinCo we went. And I got out of there with all the staples (except sugar and sandwich cheese, which I forgot) for just under my self-imposed budget. I adore the place.

I have to drive a little farther, but the savings are totally worth it. The customer service is terrific too, and we even managed to get a few little extras. It's a good shopping experience overall.

Boys vs. Girls

Or more specifically, a treatise on the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America.

As you may know, I've had a tough week or two or six, and I have therefore spent a lot of time thinking. Add a lot of discussion on diversity in class and at work (we've finished The Peoples and Cultures of Asia and moved on to Contemporary Latin American Cultures, and I'm still in training at work, with a very diverse class there as well), and you have a recipe for Deep Thought (not that Deep Thought).

And one of the things I've been thinking about (and discussed with a few people, hi mom!) is this: Boys will be boys because they are trained to be boys (as are girls, conversely).

You know the Boy Scout Motto. Everyone does, right? It's so pervasive in our culture that satirical songs have been written about it, and even I have written a fanfic on the topic (It's MacGyver, natch; can you think of anyone off the top who's more prepared?). Note: the Lehrer song is rated T, as it implies that one should always be - ahem! - prepared when one comes across a girl scout. The fic is rated General Audiences, because the rest is implied.

In any case, the point of Be Prepared is that it's an individual thing. Now I am all for individual responsibility and etc., but even Pa Ingalls would accept - and on one memorable occasion, demand - help from the local townfolk in a blizzard, you know? But it's an individualistic, pioneer-spirit sort of thing.

Does anyone here know the Girl Scout Motto? I suspect not, unless you are a girl scout or were one for a long time as a child. Note: It has nothing to do with cookies.

The Girl Scout Motto is this: Do a good deed every day.

This is not an individual thing. In fact, it kind of defines community.

Now, boy scouts certainly do more than their share of helping others, and - political differences aside - they generally do an admirable job of it. But it is a conscious thing: "We do things for people because it is our duty."

The girl scouts' take on it is more... nurturing, I guess. Maternal, even.

Mind you, this is only my opinion. But I think it's not wholly inaccurate.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

No, I am not Hindu.

But I am studying The Peoples and Cultures of Asia this session, and when we got to India we did, of course, have a class discussion on the Hindu pantheon. And my instructor mentioned that Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles.

I half-jokingly remarked that I should look into that, as I need a few obstacles removed. And she sent me the mantra of Ganesh, which one says in multiples of nine. As with any prayer or mantra or meditation, one also has to remember that what you want isn't always what you need.

In this case it occurred to me (mantras to Ganesh can't hurt and might help) that my biggest obstacle is that I am pretty much too proud to ask for help. I've done it once in a while, but generally I take that very American Pioneer attitude of do-it-my-own-self.

If you check out that first link, you will see that really, I'm not able to do it myself. Or even with Laston's help and that of our respective families.

Oh, we can and are slooooowllllllly pulling out of the financial hole we've gotten ourselves into. But when my Check Engine light came on, I realized that we are one car repair from disaster (it was the gas cap in this case. But it could have been something bad).

Or (deit(ies) forbid) it could be an E.R. situation, with an unlabeled pistachio and an epi-pen.

Now some of this mess is happenstance and completely out of our control. I didn't ask to be injured the day before we moved in here, while in a job with no insurance (and no paid leave for illness or injury), a week before the medical insurance kicked in at the beginning of 2014. Nor did Laston ask to hurt his back that same week.

Some of it, however, was a case of Poor Communication Kills (don't click. Don't even click. Click and you're dead). We made overenthusiastic-new-homeowner purchasing choices. We spent like we were still making good-money-with-great-benefits. We each thought the other had paid this bill or that, and we didn't check.

But with the exception of that one post we were too proud to ask for help for the most part.

Now pride is not always a bad thing. I'm proud that Lizzy is a super reader. I'm proud that Leanna is doing well in school. I'm proud that Abby has the soft skills that make life easier.

I'm proud that Laston has had some stories published.

I'm proud that I have lost 20 pounds in 15 weeks.

I'm even proud that we are taking a good hard look at our finances and seeing where we can pare things down. We're already living in a cheaper place, and growing some of our own food. With Laston working for the cable company and me for the phone company we're getting deep discounts on those services. We both (finally) have stable jobs with decent benefits at the same time.

And I don't know whether it was Ganesh, or my own ability to (finally) slow down and look at the problem instead of careening through panic. Or a matter of coincidence. So I decided to swallow the damn pride and ask for help. If I can get five bucks from 200 people, that's enough to pay all sorts of things, and still have that buffer in case the next time the Check Engine light is something serious.

So please, feel free to check out this link, give if you've got some to spare. Send hugs and kisses if you don't.

Boost the signal all you like, because you know what?

I'm not too proud to ask for help.

Finally.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Of Financial Loss

Some of you may know that I lost my wallet - or it was stolen - a couple of weeks ago.

The good news is that there is no sign of identity theft or any wrongdoing with my accounts. That would be the silver lining of having very little in those accounts, I suppose. Nobody wants my credit.

The bad news is that even with that small blessing, there is still some financial smackdown on this, because things I didn't know about / had forgotten - like a phone bill (ironic, that, as I now work for the phone company), the second payment of a recurring donation to a charity, etc - still try to come out of those accounts. Then they bounce (because of the wrong account number, as I have changed the numbers to avoid said identity theft), and I'm out the $29 my credit union charges me for NSF.

For each transaction.

Remember up there where I said that my accounts were almost empty anyway? Yeah.

We'll pull out of it, but it's still a pain in the financial neck.