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Saturday, April 30, 2016

And the Winner Is...

...my dad.

Along with five other people, actually.

I mean, I knew he was on the boards of many an engineering and/or performing arts organization here in the Seattle area. I just didn't realize he was that big a deal. He's... well, he's Dad, you know?

Laston, Dad, and Me
But last night was the 31st Alumni Awards for Seattle University (home of the Redhawks!): it's a private Jesuit university, and my father was instrumental in implementing a connection between the school and major corporations (like Boeing, where he worked for a gazillion years) back in the late 1990s. He also took their executive program himself, graduating in 2000, when he was in his mid-sixties.

And given that, and all the things he does around the community (with the Museum of Flight, the Young Eagles, and a vast assortment of other organizations; he says he flunked retirement and I believe it), he was honored with an award last night, in a very touching ceremony complete with videos, along with those five other people, all for various accomplishments in and around the community, the city, and the world.

They're an impressive bunch, and the program was amazing.

And food (Salmon=yum!). And the venue (Four Seasons Hotel).

And hey, Laston managed the entire evening, although he's tired out today. I count that was a win, too.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Yer a Wizard

We finished reading the first book last week, and now Lizzy and Abby and I (and Laston, sort of) are watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Yes, the American versions, with Sorcerer in place of Philosopher, but I do try to do the voices, which Lizzy appreciates.

I have discussed previously that Abby is a Hufflepuff. They're the House of all the sort of socially sweet things, like kindness and diligence. She's the child who always got rewards for Empathy and Service in elementary school. If Hufflepuff has a drama department, she'd be in it. Or maybe she'd grow up to take over for one of the Weird Sisters.

Lizzy, on the other hand, is almost certainly a Ravenclaw. She would make an excellent Ravenclaw Chaser, and would likely be very good at Potions (if Snape didn't intimidate her overmuch) because Potions is the closest Hogwarts comes to a science class. She would also likely be the one losing House points for letting pixies loose in History of Magic class.

By Merlin's beard, but the actors were cute when they were just babies.

Abby and I are having lots of fun playing "Name that Who Actor" as we watch.

We're doing this early in the evening, because the imagery might be a bit much for Little Miz Liz to tolerate too close to bedtime; she shows up meek in odd places.

And after she goes to bed, Abby and I will watch more Stargate SG-1. We're really enjoying watching it together, not least because it allows us (as does Uncle Vernon's behavior toward Harry's Hogwarts Letter) to discuss such topics as Trying to Destroy That Which One Does Not Understand Because of Fear.

This leads to more interesting discussions along the same lines, with more up-to-date topics, such as terrorism and anti-LGBT legislation.

People fear what does not fit their worldview.

And fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

That, my friends, is the path to the Dark Side.

And if I choose to impart these lessons through fantasy fiction, be it books, movies, or TV shows, well...

My kids grok it.

And it may make more accepting human beings of them.


Friday, April 22, 2016

The Little Things

I don't post as often as I used to, partly because I just don't open my computer as much.

And writing a blog on a phone - even one with the same set of Googly Bits as this blog - is a pain in the neck, sometimes literally.

But I can do everything else on my phone(s).

You see, I have my personal device, which is a Windows Phone. Many people don't care for the Windows OS on a touchscreen device, but honestly, that's where I prefer it; I like it on the phone (and my mom's Surface) far, far better than on a laptop. Windows 10, I mean; my laptop is still on Windows 7, and I like it that way.

The main failing of the Windows Phone is the dearth of apps for it.

However, because I have both Android and Apple devices as sort of loaner phones from work, this is OK. I can use anything on them, as long as I don't go over x GB of data a month, and I don't do anything NSFW at work or illegal on them at any time.

I love this perk of my job.

So yeah, little things are doing fine. Even the Big Thing That Looms™ is doing okay, although the side effects still suck. But at least the man can write again; even if he gets the occasional inexplicable low-grade fever and mild dizziness when standing (along with the upset stomach and the rash), he is at least considerably more coherent than he was on FOLFORI.

This is a Good Thing.

And not so little after all.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Normal, New Again

The FOLFOX works a lot better. Less stomach upset, less killer fatigue, more energy. Most importantly, it's working; the first session took the Bad Numbers down by almost 100 points, which is a Good Thing. The zits he can live with (and has medication for anyway). The potential for neuropathy can be minimized by using gloves to do things like cracking eggs and avoiding cold food and drink. Schedule still sucks, but hey, at least he feels less like crap while he's getting better.

He's definitely employable if you can work around the chemo schedule or give him a good, legit work-from-home job.

As far as New Normal goes, things are, well, almost normal. Take this upcoming week, for instance:

Please, take it.

Today was my day off, but I had to go in for a couple of hours because of time missed earlier this week. I came home, loaded and ran the dishwasher, ran a load of laundry, ate lunch (more on Weight Watchers and FitBit later), and boiled eggs for next week. Then I placed a grocery order on safeway.com, retrieved Abby and our friend/neighbor Y from the school bus (by car), approved a sleepover for late next week (spring break), and went to pick up Lizzy from her school bus stop (on foot, with sunglasses, FitBit, and Laston's cane because a) I need the exercise/steps, and b) I hurt my ankle - not sure how - yesterday).

It's 81F out there today in Seattle, folks. This is not normal.

Tomorrow I have what amounts to an actual day off (insofar as parents get these), as my only tasks are a Weight Watchers meeting (normally ('normally," she says, as though two weeks thus far is already a pattern...) I go Thursdays but I worked today during WW hours), laundry for next week, and making dinner for kids. Saturday and Sunday I work, and Sunday I help the kids pack for...

Monday I work, but the kids are on Spring Break, and Grandma is taking them for a couple of nights.
Monday about lunchtime she comes to get them and they spend the next two days with her and their little cousin. Wednesday they all go with Lizzy to a Girl Scout event at Build-a-Bear, and come home later that evening.

Thursday I have off again, and after Weight Watchers we clean house like mad people for a sleepover, then Friday morning Lizzy and I go to another Girl Scout thing; this one is to deliver donated cookies to the Washington State Patrol.

Whew!

Sounds exhausting.

Also sounds, well, normal.

What? The WW and the FitBit? Yeah, well... I've gained weight (stress-eating, I suspect, mostly) since Laston got sick. And screw it; as I said in that same link up there at the top, I need this.

Friday, April 1, 2016

This Week I Learned...

...that I am not ready (and neither is she) to read Lizzy The Last Battle. We can leave Armageddon-analogy for another day year, just as we did the more adult (mid-Season Four and on) episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Abby. Lizzy and I are going to start the first Harry Potter book tonight instead.

...that apparently a FitBit on one's wrist does not read the steps one takes while using that hand to hold onto the grocery cart. I was all over that damn store, and got a measly 800 or so steps out of it? I think not.

...that losing any weight at all during a big eating-holiday like Easter is to be celebrated, as it is most probably a miracle. Even if it was just under a pound. Not all sugar cookies are created equal, you see; it depends on a) whether it is a hand-sized bunny or a finger-sized carrot, and b) who frosted it and what age the froster happens to be.

...that the sheer amount of paperwork involved in wills and all that crap in our litigious society makes me want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb, Instead, I have a call into the legal consulting thingy provided by my union contract (they provide more than one kind of counselor, it seems). But just knowing that - while one should always have the legalities taken care of - one must do it, well... it makes me need the other counselor some more. Dammit.

...that I use bad language a lot more in my blog than I used to. I think I'm pissed off at the world in general. Sorry about that, Dear Readers. But not sorry enough to stop doing it.

...that although we miss Norwescon (for the second year in a row), just lunch out (without children) for our anniversary was nice too.

...that seeing one's child get rejected - even for perfectly legitimate reasons - is distressing.

...that knowing said child will get over it - and that the place rejected her only because there were too many applicants; they love her there - goes a long way toward easing that distress.

...that I'm glad Little Miz Liz has friends who are not simply the younger siblings of her sisters' friends. She has those too, of course. But she's such a wild one that I was a bit concerned she might come off too rough with the other kids. I was wrong. Kids who barely know Abby and Leanna are asking Lizzy over to play. That makes me happy.

...that I wish my spouse had found out why they changed his chemo schedule instead of waiting for that information until Monday at his next infusion appointment. I suspect it's just that they want a more steady trickle of the damn stuff (and I hope it'll be a lower dose at every week instead of every other). But I don't know.

...that the phrase, "I'm really disappointed in Lucifer," is more than a little strange out of context. I must have laughed for two minutes straight when I realized he was talking about the TV show (he's annoyed that it has turned into a Buddy Cop thing).

...that Lizzy's assumption that her dad is bald, "because he played with mercury and my teacher says it's toxic," is pretty funny. I wonder how long she's been thinking about that...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Out of the Mouths, Politics 2016 Edition (and a Cancer™ Update)

So last night, Lizzy and I finished The Silver Chair, which was always my favorite of the Narnia books. It's a more straightforward Hero's Quest story than many of the others.

At the very end of the story, as Eustace and Jill come back to their school, Experiment House, in our world, the Headmistress of the school spots Aslan ("a Lion the size of a small elephant") and the broken wall through which they went to Narnia and people with swords and the like.

She freaks out and calls the police, and when they investigate everything looks normal, but there's an inquiry into the running of the school and the Head gets fired. I can't find the exact quote about this, but it runs something like, "And the Head's friends found out she was no good as a Head and made her an Inspector who could interfere with other Heads. And then they found she was no good at that, either, so they sent her to Parliament, where she could be with the others like her."

And then Lizzy, all eight years of her, asked, "What's a Parliament? Is it like an insane asylum?"

After I stopped laughing, I told her that Parliament in England is similar to the Senate and the House of Representatives in the US; they help run the government.

So, really? Very little difference.

I was reminded of this again today, because, well, I'm feeling political, and my facebook and G+ streams are full of memes from both sides. This crop of candidates is too damn scary to ignore and hope it goes away.

So let me break it down, because if my second-grader can grok it, so can anyone else.

  1. Atheists are not out to get you; most of them don't care what you do as long as you don't try to make everyone do it.
  2. Nor are Muslims; very, very few are actually part of terrorist groups, and they just want to be treated like everyone else.
  3. Nor are gay people. There is no over-arching gay agenda; they just want to be treated like everyone else (see a pattern here?).
  4. Dark-skinned people - even those wearing hoodies - are very seldom bad guys. They just want to be treated like... say it with me... everybody else.
  5. Conversely, the vast majority of police officers are not corrupt child-killers.
  6. Pro-choice people are not out to get abortions at the drop of a hat; it's a last resort when all else has failed..
  7. Most Christians are decent human beings: not everyone is Westboro Baptist.
  8. Socialism does not equal free hand-outs.
  9. People on government assistance are nowhere near the biggest waste of our tax dollars.
  10. Marijuana - at least in adults - causes considerably less harm than alcohol.
  11. Wicca does not equal Satanism.
  12. It's even possible that not all politicians are not self-serving narcissists; there have to be a few.
That last is a little bit tongue in cheek, but not totally.

And of course there are outliers in all of these categories. There are the ISILs and the Westboro Baptists and the occasional welfare scammer. I'm sure that out there somewhere there is a woman who does use abortion as a form of birth control (or is forced to do so by her pimp, maybe) and there is probably a idiot smoking weed while driving a motorcycle (without a helmet) and texting while he does it.

Dude, #itcanwait

But these people are the few, the far-between.

And the very, very LOUD.

Which is why they get the press.

So stop it. 

Be nice to people. All people. It's really not that hard.

Now...

For those of you on tenterhooks after my last post, wherein Laston started a new chemo cocktail?

Fear not. He's doing really well on it; his stomach is less upset, his nose is not running, his eyes are not twitching, and he has some actual energy.

Me? I have a Weight Watchers app, and a Fitbit synced to it, and a gazillion fresh fruits and veggies available. And because I am as big as I am, I have a lot of SmartPoints™ to work with in a day.