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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out of the Mouths... NYE Edition

We're quiet New Years' Eve around here. We do our partying New Years' Day instead, and that's a geek party - board games and potluck. And our older two are at their respective other parents' houses this weekend.

So we're sitting here quietly. The Hubs has just finished a game on his computer, I'm typing away on Google Plus, and Lizzy is eating an apple caramel sundae from McDonald's (so her mouth is full and she's been quiet - which is rare - for a full five minutes).

"Nobody laughs at my jokes," says she.

Out of the blue. No warning, not even a whiny "Mo-om" or "Da-deee". Just "Nobody laughs at my jokes".

Of course, the Hubs and I immediately crack up.

And she is not amused. Because this is not a joke. Now we're mocking her.

Which just makes it funnier.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fortune Cookie Lies

I didn't get the job; they "went with another candidate". By now I hate that phrase, but at least it's polite, rather than the extremely rude practice of completely ignoring the candidate. So when my fortune cookie said, "You are acceptable to everyone" I thought that no, apparently I'm not. Although I am fully aware that it's not that they don't like me, they just like someone else more, it's hard - after all these months - not to feel every "we decided to go with another candidate" as a personal rejection. And so I was all prepared to be depressed and morose and so forth (and drunkblogging has a certain appeal), but a good thing happened today too, which somewhat countered my blues; I received my unChristmas present.

First pic with new Windows Phone!
It's lovely. I'm enjoying playing with it. This one has a flash in its camera; that alone is huge in our rather dimly-lit apartment. I've got Google Plus through the browser, and Facebook through the phone's own software, and I'm working on downloading other things, like ringtones and so forth (or transferring them from my previous account/phone if that's doable). I am having a blast.

And tomorrow I'm meeting my mom to take the Christmas things back to storage (and probably play with my new toy; she has one and knows how to use it), and then the Hubs and I will be cleaning house for our annual New Years' Day potluck gaming party. We've scaled it back quite a lot this year because we have neither the cash nor the space to go all out, but we will still do it. And that will mitigate the jobless blues some too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post-Holiday Blues, Redux

Link-heavy post!

It's not just the kids. The Hubs is an emotional yo-yo; he's up because his story was published (we got the books today!) and he's a generally content and happy person, and down because our eldest went back to her mom's today, he has an earache, and the house is still a wreck from the holidays. I'm grouching because I'm still   jobless and this very cute toy of Lizzy's is driving me up the wall, but happy because, well, good Christmas and all that.

I think this is fairly par for the course - the holidays are stressful and tiring every year regardless, it's winter in Seattle, etc. And of course, taken logically, none of this is cause for snappishness or angst. I mean, did I really expect to get a job this week? When I know everyone and their brother is on vacation? No, of course not. But holiday blues have little to do with reason, and a lot to do with just sheer fatigue. Not sleepiness, but tiredness; there's a difference (as I have often tried to explain to my 9yo, alas, in vain).

However, the cure for tiredness is the same as the cure for sleepiness - it's sleep. When Leanna is here - especially during school holiday - I'm inclined to let them stay up pretty late. And of course there's the getting them to go to sleep after lights out, which is a separate issue entirely. And they are apparently constitutionally unable to sleep in as of yet in their lives; I understand that happens in about three years (when Leanna is 14 and Abby 12). Tonight we're going to treat it like a school night; Lizzy at 7:30, Abby at 9, me at 11 (maybe) and maybe that'll do the trick.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post-Holiday Blues

They are so tired. Leanna is grousing that she has to take a shower and wash her hair. Abby is bursting into tears at the slightest provocation. And Lizzy... Lizzy had a meltdown of epic proportions today.

It started innocently enough. We brought in the new TV Hubs' parents sent money for, and the kids were all very excited. A new TV - and combo DVD/VCR, courtesy of Abby's dad - just for them (don't worry, Anti-TV Folks - we keep a lid on content and frequency, though it's loose during school holidays). With working remotes and everything. They settled down to watch a movie... and Lizzy lost it entirely. Leanna was in her seat, Abby wasn't helping, she wants to sit on Leanna's bed rather than her own, she hates the new TV and whhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy can't we keep the old one (it's broken) or fix it (we don't know how) or get a fix-it man (uh... because it's too old. Yeah, that's it). And during all this she's having a full-on tantrum, shrieking and kicking and arching her back, the works, and you can hardly understand her for all the sobbing and wailing.

My first thought it to put her in the time-out corner. There are two problems with this: 1) the time-out corner is full of Exciting Christmas Tree and 2) this quickly escalated from fussiness to total hysteria; she was not just being disobedient and by this point she was physically unable to stop. So we went for the other option we use when she's lost it; we "hold her tight like a baby". This is a cradle hold, with arms and legs tucked in so she's not flailing and injuring people (including herself), and while she hates it, it does calm her down (and my biceps are steel now. Ow). Today it took about half an hour, which almost never happens. I mean, we have to do this, oh, about quarterly, and usually it only takes a few minutes for her to chill to the point where we can talk about it. Not today; she was too wound up.

But she finally calmed down, and it transpired that she already misses the old TV, although she can't express why. Hubs pointed out that really, the kids have had that TV pretty much since she was born, so to her it's sort of part of the general background, and is something stable. Good point, given that we've also been using its screen saver function as a nightlight for months now. Poor baby.

But now she's happily curled up next to me on the couch, all three girls are showered and brushed, and all is right with their world. Now, if they'll just sleep at a decent hour - I could turn out the light now, at 6:30 and they still wouldn't sleep until after midnight - maybe we can avoid this sort of thing tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Favorite Word

Having used this as a blog post topic before, I've found another word to play with.

So I've been hanging around with my online friends today, and some of them are having really hard times. One has a husband in the hospital for the next few weeks, one is undergoing a messy divorce, one has a son who won't talk to her because her politics differ from his. It kind of makes me feel like a petty jerk to fuss about my lack of job and funds, when I have a loving husband, basically healthy and happy kids, an a roof over my head.

But fuss I did, on a private board I share with some of these people - we've been online friends for over a decade, and since there are very few of us there, we've had a chance to get close in spite of physical distance, in a way one usually doesn't with the bulk of people one meets online (example: I have a lot (2000+) of online friends, but only a very few of these (~40) are in my Google Plus Friends Circle). So I was fussing - even saying I felt like a petty jerk because everything they deal with is so much more than my mere joblessness - in this private space, and one of my dearest friends on there pointed out that it's not all that petty, really, because it's "the kind of stuff that over the long run titurates you: tituration (n): reduction to powder by friction or grinding".

This is pretty much how it feels over the past nearly-nine months - as though our money situation brought on primarily by my jobless situation is grinding.

Tituration.

It's a pretty good word.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

And to All a Good Night

Busy busy Christmas.

In the past - on those years when the other parents have had out eldest two for Christmas morning, we've done our gifts (except stockings) Christmas Eve day. Santa only brings stocking gifts to our house. Given today's busy schedule I think I prefer it that way; today was nuts. Although a good time was had by all (for the most part; there were the usual kerfluffles involved with five personalities and a long day and lots of food in short spurts and more family than we usually have time with in a month or more).

Oh, nothing major, but Leanna is at that age (11) where every incident of teasing is grounds for major offense being taken (especially when it involves "inappropriate cow parts", as Leanna persisted in calling them - see below). Abby (9) is in the counting gifts stage, and Lizzy (4) - although happy with what she got is so excited she can barely function. Both of the older two are at the stage where nothing is quite enough. If I allow them two pieces of Christmas candy, they are sad they can't have three. And Lizzy has hurt herself three or four times in the past 24 hours.

We got Leanna as usual on Friday evening, and then on Saturday afternoon we went to Auntie's for dinner, grossed out the older two in the car on the way to Leanna's mom's house afterward (the chat went from the Christmas Star through stars and galaxies and whether there is life on other planets and whether we could eat food on other planets and how there's gross food right here on Earth, which led to Rocky Mountain Oysters and Abby needing to exit the car at Leanna's mom's in order to avoid carsickness). Then we met Abby's dad here at our place and left carrots and a cookie and milk out for the Fat Man and his friends and wrapped the last few gifts and went to bed.

Christmas morning we (Hubs, Lizzy and I) went to Grandma's house for breakfast, came home and waited for Leanna's mom to bring her to us after church, ran up to Abby's dad's (about an hour drive on a normal day, about 40 minutes on a holiday, but during a sudden windstorm and rain hard enough to make Laston-the-Texan pay attention), hung out there for about half an hour, went to my cousin's house for Christmas Day Dinner as usual, ran to my mom's to do gifts with her and my sister's family, and then home to do our own gifts including stockings.

Whew!

And even though we are poor this year, our kids made out like bandits. This was in large part due to grandparents sending us money and saying, "buy them something from us," and also because we found a really great deal on the bead style of charm bracelets on amazon.com (the bracelets themselves were like $10 apiece, and the beads we got in bulk - 100 of different styles and colors for $20). They got each other stuff, and got us stuff and really, some of this is actually beautiful. Abby made me a snowflake ornament out of beads at girl scouts and Leanna got her dad and me a game, and Lizzy made us a snowflake ornament at preschool. Abby got Lizzy that package of ranch dip mix, which - when explained to her - caused Lizzy to shriek with glee and leap up and hug Abby because it was "PUH-fect!" Abby got Leanna some ZhuZhu Babies and got Lizzy some Lollypop Dolls (her dad gave her money to shop for us in addition to the stuff she created at Brownie scouts. Leanna got both her sisters baby dolls. Aunt Laura - as always - got the girls inspired gifts (off their wish lists for Leanna & Lizzy, and a Powerpuff Girls journal for Abby). Grandma Cheryl too. Aunt Steph got lovely earrings for Leanna and little outfits for the other two. Their biggest gift is locked in our apartment office until Tuesday but they'll get a chance to play with their toys before that comes in!

And me? I got a game and a voucher for a massage and a box of fancy cookies, and a book I recall from adolescence, and some pretty earrings, and quite a lot of chocolate, and Hubs & I got a gift card to Bone Fish Grill (and I presume an offer of babysitting so we can go to BFG without the children as decreed by my mom, the gift giver).

A good holiday, in spite of the rush. Next year we have the older two for Christmas morning. I think the following one, we'll go back to celebrating the gift-giving part of things on Christmas Eve morning. Since Santa only brings us stocking gifts there's no reason not to.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

You Can Lead a Child to Bed...

...but you cannot make her sleep. Especially when she's excited about the holiday coming up. And when she they use logic such as "we have to stay up late tonight so we can go to bed early tomorrow and not get waked up by Santa Claus when he comes". I gather this means that if they're completely exhausted by staying up late the night of the 23rd, by the 24th they'll be so tired that even reindeer and fat men won't be enough to wake them.

That doesn't really help us today, however, since Abby (9) and Leanna (11) got about five and a half hours of sleep last night. I was willing to let them stay up until 11 or so, which is when I put Lizzy to bed (she had been asleep since eight-thirty). Then I told them to quiet down and sleep - tomorrow's a big day. Not so much. They did keep it to a dull roar, though and that was more or less sufficient. I dozed off in front of the TV and when they started getting loud they woke me (and Lizzy) up.

At 2:55 AM.

Abby made this at Brownie Scouts
Guys, that's too late for me, and I'm an adult. At 11 and nine (and four) there is no possible way that's enough sleep for you. So we're all kind of cranky this morning (except the Hubs, whose "gift for the whole family" is in his hot little hands), although that should be mitigated somewhat by the lack of stuff that must be done today, aside from packing Abby's bag and wrapping her present to her dad). It's pretty much just getting cleaned up for Christmas Eve dinner for everyone, and toasting almonds (to be added to the salad after Abby is served) for me. And maybe we can get them to nap in the car on the way to Auntie's house for Christmas Eve dinner.

So right now the dishwasher is running, Hubs is playing with his our new toy, the older girls are watching Into The Woods, and Lizzy - being Lizzy - is bouncing from lap to lap.Good times.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Prequel

All three kids are shrieking with glee in their bedroom, playing with the Zoobles Abby received for her birthday two weeks ago. They're broken two of the accessories, but well... that's why Momma bought the super glue, isn't it? When Abby says, "Mom, we got another toy for the microwave!" fear not; on top of the microwave is where repaired toys are kept until the glue dries. Nobody is baking them.

The house is (finally) mostly clean. Oh, I need to do some more laundry and run a vacuum over the carpets but otherwise this is the cleanest it's been in awhile. And we aren't even hosting Christmas (although we will have a very toned-down version of our usual New Years' Day potluck. But even I'm not optimistic enough to think this will last until then!)

Lizzy just came out and told me the big girls need "panic paper". I wonder what that means?

We're all full of hamburgers and salad and chips (crisps for my overseas readers) and Grandma's Sherry Spice Cupcakes (yum!).

Ah... they wanted "a pen and paper", not "a panic paper". Light dawns.

So at eight we'll do our usual weekend-with-Leanna routine, which means Lizzy comes out here to watch "baby shows" with me until she falls asleep, while the older two clean their room enough to pull Leanna's trundle bed out from under Lizzy's bed, and move it far enough to let me put Lizzy in her bed after she crashes.

And tomorrow I'll make them bacon and waffles for breakfast - I cheat with Eggo - and then the day will be a matter of cleaning their room, cleaning them, and making things ready for Auntie's house for our Christmas Eve dinner.


Life is good.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WANT

I had a job interview today. I want this job. I really really want it. It has everything I want in a job - interesting work (customer service and online research and a little training), similar corporate values to my own, a compatible schedule... it's exactly what I want and I hope they liked me as much as I did them. Any company that means it when they say "customer focus" (which they certainly seem to) is okay by me! They couldn't do as in-depth an interview as they wanted to today because several people were unavailable due to holidays, but I think I may have made it to the next round. I should know sometimes next week whether when I go in for another round of interviews. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I doubt if anyone else will schedule interviews for me; this time of year is just (as shown above) too complicated for that. And I don't have school until January 2nd. So aside from housecleaning and spending time with the kids (and the daily grind of looking for a job), I'm kind of at loose ends, especially after everyone is in bed at night. I'm up to date on Doctor Who, working on The Sarah Jane Adventures with Abby, and as up to date as I'm going to get on Torchwood for now. I'm going to list some stuff I'm interested in here (and that is available on Netflix Instant Play or other freebies on my roku box like Amazon Prime Streaming) in the hopes that some of my readers can give me recommendations.

I like weird settings but people stories, I'm content with Monster of the Week as long as there's character development, and I'm not a fan of gratuitous violence (although violence itself is not a problem; I just can't take - say - Tarantino levels). Knowing that I enjoy (and have seen) the Whoniverse, Star Trek in all its incarnations, Red Dwarf in small doses, Farscape, anything by Joss Whedon, The Dresden Files and Blood Ties (both books and shows), and anything in the Stargate universe, (among others, natch) what do you recommend of the following list?

  • Sherlock
  • Merlin
  • Camelot
  • Robin Hood
  • Seaquest DSV
  • Lexx
  • Jekyll
Now, if you mention something you loved and I shriek, "seen it!" please do not take offense; none is meant. But if I listed everything I've every watched and enjoyed on TV, we could be here all day.

Ideas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deep Cleaning

That's today's task. We're taking a break at the moment, having cleaned out behind the kids' bookshelves and done their beds and started on the rest of their room (since we pulled a bunch of junk out from behind that bookshelf, there's more to clean now than there was before). The plan was thusly: I work on laundry and the master bedroom and the kitchen/dining/living areas, the kids do their bedroom and the guest bathroom, and it's going pretty well, although it's in the breaking-eggs stage of this omelet.

Abby is disappointed that her friends aren't available to help (Kiki is out of town for the holidays and Ash & Tris have family in town for the holidays. The other regular is at day camp). Abby is fretting that she won't have time to finish it all so I told her it does not all have to be done today. I have Thursday morning to work on stuff (most likely gift-wrapping and general tidying), and we have all day Friday as well. So I think she's freaking out over very little. She is her mother's daughter after all. She went off to see if one of the less-frequent visitors wants to "earn Treasure Box and Christmas cookies" by helping clean up. This kid is a boy who's great one-on-one but kind of mean in a jerky-elder-brother way when in a group. He's the one who "threw rocks near me" in the creek last year, encouraged other kids to "poke the baby Jesus with a stick" at the school-bus stop (where there is a Christmas tree lot and a Nativity scene), and is inclined to sing "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" at other children. But when he's not filling the jerky-elder-brother role (a.k.a. when there's not a mob of kids, especially younger boys to show off to), he's a good kid and a hard worker for his Treasure Box goodies. He can come over to help once he's back from the store.

This is pretty much how non-school-days work here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do Cows Freak?

Nine-year-old Abby wants to know. Because I got my grades back from my second session at the University of Phoenix, and they were good enough for me to exclaim holy freakin' cow (because holy sh**berries, Batman is inappropriate with the kids in the room).

I got an A-. In both my classes. With a one-point spread - there are1000 points available in each class for the whole nine-week session, and I got 937 points in Critical Thinking and 938 in Introduction to Communications. Go me!

I was pleasantly surprised that I aced the final project in Critical Thinking - that was the class wherein I was having trouble at midterm time - because while I recognize a rhetorical device or a fallacy when I see/hear one, I have real trouble identifying the different types of them. Go me!

As for Intro to Communications - anyone who has ever met me or who reads my blog or my Google Plus posts will probably not be surprised that I was dinged points for being too wordy. Me? Perish the thought. Never happens. Not this chick. Uh-uh. Can't be. Not me. So that, plus a whoops on the font spacing (yeah, yeah, I keep forgetting to use the University's style guide rather than the AP's) brought me down enough points to give me an A- instead of a straight A. But I'll take it! Go me!

And now I am officially done with school until January 2nd, when I begin the next set of classes. If I get the job I'm interviewing for on Thursday (please send Good Stuff!) then I'll have that to learn instead (this one looks totally like my thing and I want it. Badly.). Sounds pretty good all around.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Been a Few Days

It has been a busy few days here at Chez Gamers' Babes.

Abby went with her dad and some friends to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium for ZooLights. That's a long drive (and a lot of over-stimulation of the senses) for our motion-sickness-prone girl, and the ride home was apparently Not Pretty. But she had a wonderful day, and once she was all cleaned up, she had a lot to share about the fun time they had. Mostly she shard it with me on the way to meet her grandpa (my dad) for their annual excursion to the Nutcracker. Because Abby has a December birthday, Grandpa takes her out for this special treat every year, rather than subjecting himself to - say - Chuck-E-Cheese in the company of a dozen over-excited school-age kids.

I spent the weekend completing my second term at the University Of Phoenix. Assuming my final projects did not suck, I should come out of this session with at least a B. I feel pretty good about that, but man was there a lot of last-minute fuss!

This week promises to be busy, what with house-cleaning and gift-wrapping and so forth (and a job interview on Thursday! Wish me luck), but we can do it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh for Heaven's Sake!

Remember back a month ago, when my laptop went kablooey? It did. And my dear friend Nate has come over to install the new part (video inverter), and then again when another part down the chain (the LCD cable, which was making interesting crackling noises) was broken, and then again today because the back-light was also broken. The new back light came in earlier this week, Nate came over today whilst I was taking Abby to her dad's (Hubs and Lizzy were here) and...

...the replacement back light is apparently also broken.

Well, expletive.

Apparently it's been that kind of week for Nate as well; just Not His Week when it has to do with mechanics or electronics.

So now instead of having my own laptop back (so this loaner can go back to my mom so the kids can use it for the software Grandma got them for Christmas), I have to call for an RMA in freaking December so we can get a new part (also in freaking December, so who knows how long that will take) so Nate can come install it for me (I have the skill but not the confidence, and I do not have the tools).

Oh for crying out loud.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

You Could Die From the Cute

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa Wall
 I've mentioned before how much I enjoy the multiculturalism of Lizzy's preschool. Today's holiday concert ("and feast, mama!") was a lovely example.

December Wall
Keep in mind that these kids are between three and six years of age, so the one little boy who needed his mom to sit with him due to stage fright is totally acceptable; they are little kids. Also many of the songs have been edited for length. This explains why Lizzy kept telling me I was singing "the wum-pa-pum-pum song wong", because they don't sing all three verses of The Little Drummer Boy at preschool; the vast majority of the kids haven't got the attention span for it. They sang several Christmas tunes (only the first five Days of Christmas in what they called Partridge In a Pear Tree, for example), several I'd classify as "winter" themed in English and Spanish ("Cascabel, cascabel, música de amor"), and a very cute version of The Dreidel Song, wherein one little girl played the dreidel itself, spinning around and falling down with the paper dreidel to show how it worked. Then Miss Ginny - the head teacher - read them The Night Before Christmas, with asides to explain the things they did not grok. My favorite of these went like this...

Miz Liz
Miss Ginny: You see, a long time ago, mommies and daddies both used to wear long nightgowns and caps or kerchiefs to keep themselves warm at night. Do any of your mommies or daddies still do this?
Small Girl: My daddy just wears his underwear to bed!

And then the whole group sang: "We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Happy Hanukkah, we wish you a Joyous Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year!"
Lizzy in her Antlers
and Red Nose for
Reindeer Hokey
Pokey

We all trooped upstairs for "the feast" as Lizzy persisted in calling it - we do potluck. There was a nice little book exchange where the children who brought a book in got to take one home from another child (and Lizzy, dear sweet person that she can be, made a thank-you note for the little boy from whom she received a book), and each child got a book from the preschool staff as well.

And according to the children's wishes, we will all have a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a joyous Kwanzaa, and a happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Musings

This is a post about the holiday season. No spoilers.

Abby with Santa 2006
I'm actually the person who naturally says Happy Holidays unless I know someone's religious preferences ahead of time. I am not offended by a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah, and I never have been. I don't understand the defensiveness that occurs in many people about the greetings given and received this time of year. It may be that's because I'm what my Jewish brother-in-law and I have agreed is "culturally Christian" but I am in no sense religious about it. We have a tree, but our usual tree topper is not particularly Christian (marketed as "Celtic Angel", but I think she's meant to be St. Bridget), and we often put origami Stars of David on our tree. We have a Nativity scene but we only put it up about half the time, and it's more because it's pretty than because of the story attached. We love us some Christmas songs, but again, it's more the music than the content.

Leanna with Santa 2006
We have neighbors and friends and family in all flavors - Atheist, Agnostic, several flavors of (neo)Pagan, Jewish, different denominations of Protestant, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, Hindu, you name it. Our own taste in decoration leans more toward a winter theme than a Christmas one. We celebrate Christmas but give a nod to other major traditions. Santa puts chocolate gelt in our stockings, and the Easter bunny puts them in our baskets. We read How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Hanukkah Lights pop-up book. We watch Happy Holidays from Sesame Street .We (about every other year) take the kids to the mall to sit on Santa's lap. Abby explained the Hanukkah miracle to me last year by stating that "a miracle is magic when God does it for you" (she's make a great AD&D Cleric, no?) Lizzy's preschool has a concert tomorrow wherein they will sing songs from many traditions, as well as one that incorporates three traditions in one song. As a group we're a pretty ecumenical bunch.

And that's okay too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Caught It!

Caught this cold before it turned into something dire, that is.

I have asthma (now called "airway reactive disorder", but it's asthma), although it is generally only triggered when I am ill or if I get a face full of allergen. And because I am a mom, I'm exposed to a lot of colds. So my usual shtick when I get a cold is just to ignore it unless one of two things occurs: it gets into my lungs or I get a fever. Either of these symptoms is usually a harbinger of a secondary bacterial infection - bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia - so when these symptoms occur I go off to the doctor, just so we don't have a repeat of the Great Meltdown of March 2011. Or November 2006 for that matter. Having gotten Lizzy's cold, I was doing my little ignoring it bit until last night when my chest started aching, so this morning, I went in.

And the doctor congratulated me for getting it before it got bad. Gave me a breathing treatment and recommended the usual cold remedies - fluids, rest, refill your asthma inhaler. Not so bad after all.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Again!?

Miz Liz has a cold. This is not a horrible thing - there's no fever, nothing but runny nose and post-nasal cough and Spoon Droppage. And no sleep because OMG-her-nose-is-wunning-again!!!!!!

But it's the second cold in three weeks. The third cold in the past six weeks. I'm sure it's because she's in preschool - three-and-four-year-olds are both affectionate and unsanitary - but it's kind of getting ridiculous here. Our local drugstore is going to run out of facial tissue and baby wipes at the rate we're buying them up.

My patience is being used up fairly quickly too. I don't lose patience with her the first day or so, because she's miserable enough to just lie here and sip weak herbal tea and watch Blue's Clues, but when her energy levels start ramping up to their norms while she's still overtired and grouchy... I have little tolerance for the whining and the constant Mommymommymommymommymommymommy-watch be twuhl and thed fall dowd because by dose is wuddy shenanigans. Gah.

She is a very dear little person though. She's fussy and tends to revert to babyhood when she's sickish, but she really is the nicest little thing, in spite of her... odd and disgusting habits (today she wiped her nose on the living room rug "because it's the bestest way to scwatch wheah my nose itches"). She's kind for her age, and sweet, and if she's a little whiny I can cope. I won't enjoy it, but I can cope.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Abby's Ninth Birthday

Aside from the fact that I can't believe she's nine, today was a really good day. Leanna got to leave the hospital again (she had gone back in for observation as noted here).We had Abby's idea of the Perfect Breakfast (blueberry waffles cut in strips and served with whipped cream for dipping, plus apple slices, apple cider, and bacon) and ran a couple errands, then attended the party her dad had set up at the Skate Deck. They throw a good party.

Happy Birthday Cake
There were a couple of minor issues at the party - one kid was just way overstimulated between the wobbly feet and the darkness and the black light and the strobes and the pounding music - and the birthday girl has a literal bruise on one buttock (no pictures of that one!) but otherwise a good time was had by all. Part of this is that the Skate Deck has a couple bouncy houses at one end, which is where the kids who get tired or scared of the skating floor go hang out and bounce. Lizzy spent her time in there (after I finally got the skates on her and she announced that she didn't want to skate, of course). Abby and her friends took a few rounds on the skating floor and then went to the bouncy house area. I took some rounds myself, as did Abby's dad and a couple of the other parents, but whew! It's been a long time since I was last up on skates, and I've never been up on them at the weight (or age!) I'm at now. My feet may never be the same!
Ash and Abby eat ice cream

All this skating and bouncing was after the pizza and cake and soda  and ice cream cups and gifts bits, which were also a huge success. Abby's future husband Greg got her a miniature pillow pet on a keychain - it exactly matches her full size one, because he knows her that wellMonster High dolls and Zoobles were much in evidence. Abby is thrilled.

And since one of our guests was Greg, whose mom is Tiffany of Meadowbelle Fudge, we got ours delivered today. Oh Em Gee - this is some Nut-Free Fudgy Goodness, this is.  I approve.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday's Frenetic Follies

Poor Leanna. She's been recovering from her tonsillectomy (and adenoidectomy and tooth extraction) and because she's a big girl it's taking her longer to get over it than it does smaller children. So we were not expecting her for this weekend (or for Abby's birthday party) and some of today's Frenetic Follies consisted of phone calls back and forth between me and Leanna's mom, determining whether she could come over this weekend (no) or just for the party (also no), and reassuring Leanna that truly, it's okay; we'll miss you but everybody understands that you are too sick to be rollerskating. Although Lizzy, four, thinks that Leanna isn't coming this weekend because she has "tonsil germs" (we told her Leanna's tonsils were sick and she extrapolated from there based on her own recent experience with cold germs).

Lizzy eats tekka maki! And likes it!
And I went to Abby's classroom to bring her lunch and birthday goodies for her class, then picked Lizzy up and did the grocery shopping, came home and did a load of laundry, finished my homework, and tidied the kitchen. Laston started home from work, we got a call from Leanna's mom saying she had to go back to the doctor because the back of her throat was bleeding, he went to help with that, he got home, Abby got home from school, and we went out to dinner (we love the "Sushi Belt Place"!) with our ringers on "outdoor" settings ready for word about Leanna's throat.

And OW - apparently she coughed some stitches loose where they took her tonsils out, and the poor kid is back at Children's Hospital for observation tonight. Send Good Thoughts, won't you?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Little Girls Grow Up

Abby is almost nine. She'll be nine this coming Saturday, in fact (and how on earth did that happen?) and she's a peculiar mix of almost-teenage and little-girl. Sometimes she does very adult things, like making observations of the world around her far beyond her age, or teaching her Scout Troop to use an epi-pen. And sometimes she's upside-down on the couch just because she can, or begging for just one more episode before bed.

But my favorite times are when she's actually in between - when she does or says something grown-up but with that childlike skew to it that proves she's still a kid. The latest was last night, when she made her four-year-old sister a gift she clearly put thought into; she knew Lizzy would love it. And it turned out to be Ranch dip mix. Or earlier this week when she told me she knew how I felt when I'm having trouble getting that she's almost nine because she feels the same way about Lizzy. She said (sighing in world-weary fashion), "Yeah, mom. I get it. 'Cause it feels like Lizzy should be only one... like she was before she was so annoying".

She does love her little sister, but she's also that that age where Lizzy - nearly five years younger - is the most annoying and irritating person on the planet. Also, unfair grownups are always taking Lizzy's part. Did I get away with all that when I was four? Yeah, probably, except that Leanna was still enough of a novelty (they met what Abby was just three and Leanna was five-and-a-half, and Leanna is not here 24/7) that you wanted to impress her, not annoy her. And you're just a different person than Lizzy is. Don't worry, kiddo, you have the privileges to go with those responsibilities, and given Lizzy's impulsiveness, she probably won't earn those until she's a lot older than the seven or so at which you did.

So as I finish writing this, Abby is doing her math homework ( 'we learned rounding!") pretty much at the top of her lungs. Nine. And normal.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's the Most Dangerous Time of The Year

I'm not talking about my waistline, although that's true. Nor am I talking about New Years' Day traffic accidents. Here at Chez Gamers' Babes, it's all about the allergens.

I'm mildly allergic to cows' milk. This is not lactose intolerance - although I have that too - but an actual sniffly-sneezy-itchy allergy to whey, the primary protein in milk. Sheep or goat, fine. Cow or buffalo, notsomuch. I can usually manage a serving a day (provided there are no other allergens in my system, such as dog dander, alder pollen, or spider venom) without ill effect. And I'm - y'know - an adult, so I can swallow a Benadryl and take my chances. I have a pretty good handle on it.

And then there's Abby and the Nut Allergy of Doom. She is anaphylactic to cashews and pistachios (we discovered the allergy with a can of mixed nuts; she ate the cashew and bang! Hospital time). She gets sniffles and itchy skin to the point of scratching it all off with all other "true tree nuts" and with mangoes. That's almonds, hazelnuts/filberts, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, macadamia, and pine nuts. Coconut and other palm-based nuts are not truly nuts, (nor are peanuts), but we tend to avoid them for her because they're often cross-contaminated. She did manage a fun-size butterfinger (peanut) this halloween with no ill effects, but she didn't like it well enough to take the cross-contamination risk again. We thought she was having a reaction to the "may contain traces of tree nuts..." in candy corn, but it turned out to be traces of almonds in her chocolate soy milk (safeway.com no longer carries the Silk light, and the regular "may contain...". I have an email in to Silk). So we're very careful. And vigilant; things like a knife used to cut pumpkin pie after it's used on pecan can invite disaster, and unless one is aware of it, one has no way to know. Abby herself is pretty good about it (she even taught her Brownie troop when and how to use an epi-pen), but she is only not-quite-nine after all.

Enter Tiffany, mother of Abby's future husband Greg (if Abby and Greg have their way; they are only nine), and allergen-aware Fudge Confectionery Chef. She makes fudge every year (assorted flavors, all gluten-free (even the Cookies-n-Cream!) and all but Peanut Butter nut-free as well) and this year she's selling some (click this link!). And she is so conscious of the cross-contamination potential that she makes the Peanut Butter last of all, after the rest are packaged safely out of the way. This is huge - even the professionals aren't usually that careful.

We're ordering three pounds. Which gets back to the waistline issue. But that's a separate post.

ETA: I just got off the phone with the White Wave people - who make the Silk products.They test the equipment and the products before, during, and after production, and they destroy any product that is contaminated.

But of course there's always human error.

And they saw that if she ever has any reaction - no matter how mild - to any of their products again, to please call them and they will take down numbers and have their quality control people check that batch.

So they take it very seriously.

I heart them.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Was I Saying?

I have not posted here since Thursday evening, and it's now Sunday. This is Very Unusual. Nothing calamitous has occurred (in the Real World, anyway) to prevent me; I just haven't been writing for other than school this weekend. As we're finishing up Week Seven of Nine (ha!), the papers are getting longer and more involved, so more time goes into researching and writing them. After Week Nine I have a break until the first of the year, when I'll be taking Environmental Science and Research Writing - yes, it's a real Associate of Arts, so science classes are required. I've also been spending the evenings after the kids go to bed watching Torchwood - and some of that is fairly intense stuff I needed to process before I could switch into other writing modes.

And really, this weekend has been a lot of short little things - no big topics. Abby had a meltdown because she said I'm "no fun anymore" but really, it turned out she just wanted some mommy-time when we were just chatting and at nine PM could not express it. Lizzy feels that Pixie Dust is the best way for "not-a-astwonaut" girls to fly in outer space. Leanna's at home recuperating from her tonsillectomy. We had four kids here watching Pink Panther shorts from the sixties and adding their own dialogue, which was hilarious. I discovered that Abby's favorite brand of chocolate soy milk "may contain almonds" - and does. On that note, she can now swallow "grown up pills" (at least those the size of a Benadryl). I got some good news as regards my moving to the next interview level with a couple of jobs. I made arrangements to meet a friend who has more episodes of Doctor Who than are available on Netflix Instant Play and I'm gonna bring him some soup. Abby had a sleepover at her friend's house last night and her own (ninth!) birthday party next Saturday. We're going to have tree-decorating at my mom's today.

Nothing big. Just a normal weekend.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

OH Yeah... I ROCK!

Apparently I am the Coolest Parent Ever... at least to the younger-sibling set at Abby's gymnastics class. There's a  balcony above the gym for people waiting on their kids, and it's full of younger siblings (I wouldn't dare bring Lizzy - she's too wild and she'd end up taking a header down the stairs). It's a big gym and I can't watch Abby herself the whole time; often she's nowhere near me. Because I don't use a phone for games or email or texting while waiting for my kid; I bring my Nintendo DSLite along. So I pulled out the DS, popped in the Final Fantasy IV DS game, turned it on, and adjusted the volume so as not to bother other people. I became quickly aware of a presence behind me and to the left, so I glanced up.

It was a little boy - looking to be about five years old, hovering near my left shoulder. When he saw me looking at him, he asked, "Can I play next?" I smiled at him and shook my head. "Why not?"

"Well, I don't know you."

"Oh. Hi! I'm Grayson and I'm almost five. Now you know me. Can I play next?"

I looked around for an adult attached to this kid. A man I took to be his father was watching us, laughing silently, but obviously ready to jump in if I needed help. So I said, "Nope. This is my toy - even my own kids don't get to play with this." The father laughed harder. Grayson leaned - hard - on my shoulder and stage-whispered into my ear.

"But I'm really nice."

By this point three or four other little boys came to investigate, and Grayson's father was almost doubled over with laughter. None of the other boys were quite as close as Grayson, but still, I'm not used to kids who are complete strangers to me hanging off me; usually it's only my own and those of my closest friends. Grayson's dad recovered himself and collected his child, half laughing and half apologizing, at which point the other boys all wandered off to their interrupted game.

Me? I got to the summit of Mt Hobs. And I got a blog topic out of the deal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They've Got to Come Out - UPDATED AGAIN

Miss Leanna (11) is having her tonsils out today. They may or may not go for her adenoids as well; it depends on what they find when they get in there. She's needed them out for a long time in my (and her mom's) opinion, but as she was rarely well when she went to the doctor, they tended to take her swollen tonsils as a sign of illness, rather than a chronic condition. Until they did a sleep study. Wherein they found that she has a bad case of sleep apnea, at least in part because she wasn't getting enough air past those humongous tonsils.

So they've got to come out. And she's at the best possible place to have them out, given her age. I just heard from Leanna's mom and Leanna is (as of 11:30 AM) in recovery, having had her tonsils, adenoids, and a loose tooth removed. It may take her a little longer than the usual half hour to wake up because she has asthma, but otherwise she's doing well. More here when I have more info.

ETA: Leanna got out of recovery half an hour later; she's going to be fine. Her parents watched her sleep for awhile and the Laston came home. Leanna and her mom left about twenty minutes after Laston did, because she was able to swallow, which is the tipping point for this procedure. All in all, a success!

Next update: She's staying overnight for observation. Because she has asthma and she's on painkillers, her airways constrict every time she falls asleep (and she falls asleep often because of the painkillers). So they want to keep her overnight on the oxygen monitor

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Is It?

I feel strange today... just kind of off. No real reason for it as far as I can tell... I got enough sleep, I haven't taken any painkillers, I haven't drunk anything alcoholic. I've done the usual stuff - some laundry, some dishes, some taking out of garbage, some job-hunting, some schoolwork-doing, some blog-posting. I don't feel ill, depressed, or unusually hormonal. I'm a bit anxious about Leanna's tonsillectomy tomorrow, but not unduly so; it's a common outpatient procedure..

But maybe it is that, at least in part. Maybe it's that Abby spent the night at Grandma's yesterday, on a school night. Maybe it's the vagueness of a day at home with a sick toddler and the endless rounds of Blue's Clues left over from yesterday. Maybe it's that I've been watching Doctor Who and Torchwood at the rate of one to three episodes a day, which is rather like several stiff drinks in a row. Maybe it's trying to wrap my head around Abby turning nine in less than two weeks. Maybe it's that I hate the Whos and my heart is two sizes to small. Maybe it's the chronic lack of funds because I'm unemployed and the holidays are coming up. I don't think it's my inability to get out of the ridiculous phone loop at a local skating rink to schedule Abby's birthday party, because her dad has tried for two days and finally asked me to do it. I've only been stuck there for a few minutes and just discovered they're not open on Tuesdays to answer the phone.

In reality, it's probably all of these things.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mommy's Work is Never Done - UPDATE

I had such plans for today. With both girls at school this morning, I could do the first two of four loads of  laundry, get a head start on this week's class work, follow up with the folks I had a coffee-shop-job-screening last week, and dig all the crap out from under and behind the couch. Then when I picked Lizzy up at 11:30, we could come home and eat lunch and do the rest of the laundry/dishes/tidying/vacuuming. I was on track and ready to go.

Until midnight, when Lizzy came out of her room, nose and eyes streaming, and spent the next several hours dozing restlessly enough to keep me awake, waking every few minutes needing her nose wiped. I tried some Benadryl to dry stuff up - I got her doctor's blessing for same at her checkup last month. It worked, but apparently she is the lucky winner of the "may cause excitability, especially in children" clause. Whee. So I left Lizzy asleep where she had crawled in next to me with a stuffed ducky, a lamb, and a Stitch; I got Abby out the door to the school-bus, called the preschool to report an absence, and then I went back to bed. Five hours of sleep, broken up. When this happened all the time - Lizzy's only recently started sleeping in her own bed all night - I was sleep-deprived but functional; when it's unusual as it is now, it's freaking exhausting.

So I've managed one load of laundry, the dishes, and the schoolwork. I've contacted the potential-job folks, but via email rather than how I intended to via phone. Abby is spending the night at Grandma's so she can help with  the non-tree Christmas decorations (the tree is a whole-family affair on a weekend day) as she does every year, so I won't have to get up at any particular time tomorrow. If Lizzy is up to Grandma's tomorrow I'll take her there and then have several hours to Get Stuff Done, without her... "helpful" presence. Wish me luck.

As I reread this in preparation to post it, I realize it's All About Me, not really about my sick baby at all. I plead sleep deprivation for my selfishness on the topic, but rest assured she's fine - it's just a case of the sniffles, no sign of her past complications (like croup - that was no fun for anyone). My biggest concern at this point is whether she gave it to Leanna (who is having her tonsils out this week) but given Leanna's drippy cough this weekend I think it's more likely that it's the other way round - Leanna gave it to Lizzy. Thus is the danger of having children in three different schools; the germs are everywhere!

ETA: And thank goodness for my beloved spouse, who brought home juice and tissues. Delivery of such items is not to be discounted!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Hills Are Alive

Yes, it's Sound of Music time. My kids have never seen it, although they do know some of the songs, because we are, well, us. We planned on watching it Friday night, but Leanna has seen it and in true adolescent fashion she dismissed it s "a movie about a lady who comes to babysit a lot of kids". Um... that's a little bit of an oversimplification. Lizzy, four, may as well be Maria - "She is gentle, she is wild, she's a riddle, she's a child, she's a headache, she's an angel, she's a girl."

Abby is really enjoying it. Lizzy got bored just as Maria meets the von Trapp children and has gone into the other room to bang her toy ping-pong paddles together (she got whacked in the face with one earlier today) and draw endless pictures of her best friend Natalie on her Magna-doodle. And play in the sink, which she dearly loves to do but we don't usually allow unless we're trying to do something like watch a movie she's too young to appreciate.

"I bet her father would be really mad at her for kissing that boy in the thunderstorm," says Innocent Abby. Yeah, it's more that "that boy" is a Junior Nazi, really, but we haven't gotten that far into the movie yet. We shall see how it goes further in.

In the scene where Maria is singing a reprise of My Favorite Things and fingering the curtains in her room, Abby says, "Oooooooo - I know what she's thinking, because I've seen Enchanted." This blew me away, because of course the most famous example of curtains-to-dresses is from Gone With the Wind. I hadn't realized it was that prevalent a trope. So I looked it up. It is. And now she's dancing and singing along to Do Re Mi and thrilling that now she knows where this song comes from. And halfway through said song, she stopped dead and said, "Wait, she's Mary Poppins!?" She's always been good at this; she figured out that Mrs. Potts and Miss Price are done by the same actress years ago, so this was more of the same, but it always takes me aback.

I explained the basics of the Nazis (and why the Austrian von Trapps dislike them) in innocent-nine-year-old terms and she seemed to grok. The disc is from Netflix and started having some jerking and halting round about The Lonely Goatherd, which required a cleaning and scene selection to clear up. And it was only a temporary fix at that; we had to skip some more scenes. Netflix has been notified.

If there is anything else of note, I'll post it later. Time to put Lizzy to bed.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Am So MEAN

It's true, my sense of humor is sarcastic. And I do use it on the kids sometimes (or Abby would not have known about rhetorical questions at seven). And it's also true that Leanna  (11) and Abby (nearly 9) are both at awkward stages where they don't seem able to keep track of their body parts and are constantly hurting themselves or each other or other kids or adults or toys, inadvertently. So far the holiday we've had half a dozen stubbed toes, a poke in the eye, and a number of spilled plates/bowls/glasses.

So today, when Leanna leaned forward to get out of the rocker-recliner and I heard a crunching sound, I made the snarky remark that if she just watched where she put her body parts, we'd be able to keep things longer (it was a plastic slinky and is just fine by the way - they have give). Leanna (being an adolescent) took this as a personal affront and the door to their bedroom was closed rather more forcefully than I'm comfortable with. However, since there were no shrieks of pain or outrage associated with this door-slamming, I let it go this time. She recovered pretty quickly too. Usually she's inclined to be mad for a while, because she's stubborn and adolescent and eleven. But right now the four of them - Leanna, Abby, Lizzy, and Kiki - are playing Hide and Seek and having a ball.

So I guess my sarcasm isn't going to do them any permanent damage.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Kids!

Yeah, I'm talking about ours here. They haven't done anything wrong, exactly. But Lizzy is four and doesn't cope well with the big kids' shows (we're watching Joseph: King of Dreams at the moment). Lizzy isn't frightened by the movie, but she's too young to grok it and so she gets bored and noisy. Then Leanna (11) can't hear and has me turn up the volume until the other two (Abby (9) and we have Kiki (10) with us tonight too) object to it being too loud, so I turn it down and the cycle starts over. It doesn't help that because the movie is a Bible story, Leanna knows it like the back of her hand and keeps saying things like, "oh, watch this part; this is really cool," and Abby shrieks, "SPOILERS" and then Lizzy gets in on complaining that she can't hear the movie she wasn't watching in the first place. And of course, being Joseph & family, every last one of them (except Mom Rachel) is a Jerk With a Heart of Gold until the end of the movie; it's a story about redemption and forgiveness of course. I prefer the first Old Testament movie Dreamworks made - The Prince of Egypt. This may be simply a matter of preferring the story of Moses to the story of Joseph, or it may be the music or the casting; I don't know. 

Anyway, the kids. They've been exceptionally noisy today. This may be that they've been stuck indoors - I have decreed that Leanna is not to play outside this weekend, because a) she has a cough and b) she's having her tonsil's removed on Wednesday. She is not getting sick on my watch! But I'll be glad when the three big kids go into their room for quiet time (around 8:30, I think) to play DS games and chat until 10 or 11. Then I can start in on Torchwood, since I've done all the Doctor Who I can get through Netflix and have not yet met up with my friend who has DVDs he can lend me. Which is good; I could use the break! But I'm pretty much dying for my alone time tonight. I had a couple hours in the brand new shiny Safeway store today, but apparently that was insufficient to deal with a bunch of cabin-feverish grade-schoolers.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fall Housecleaning

My kids have an enormous dress-up collection. I walked into their bathroom (we keep their collection in the bathroom drawers) today and I realized how much of it was spilling out of the drawers and, well, broken. So I got to work, amid protests of "It's not very broken," and, "but I used that once a year ago!".

Tough cookies, kids. If it's a) too small for all of you or b) too broken to be repaired with a knot or a safety pin, out it goes. And I organized the stuff while I was at it. Biggest drawer (bottom) contains actual costumes - dresses, skirts, tops, pants, like that. Middle drawer (slightly shallower) has accessories - hats, purses, wigs, wings (not many of those left; they break easily), swords, wands, crowns, belts, collars, etc. Top drawer (very shallow) has jewelry and hair stuff - headbands, barrettes, brushes and combs. Then the basket on the counter now holds what they prefer to call "makeup". At their ages this consists of hand lotion, emery boards, sparkly clear nail polish, lip balm, and rub-on tattoos of ladybugs, plus things like mouthwash and toothpaste and dental floss.

When I was done, they were actually pretty relieved that I hadn't just tossed everything, and Abby's organized soul was excited that everything had a place to go. Of course, they have not yet seen what I did throw away, because they're cleaning their room. We shall see what transpires the next time they go in to actually dress up.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Preschool Thanksgiving Feast

Teaching preschoolers about Thanksgiving - the good and the bad - is difficult. First of all, they're between three and five years of age; how much detail does one want to go into? I mean, I've worked in church-run preschools where they got into way too much detail about the Crucifixion for my comfort (I think it's sufficient to say, "bad men killed Jesus" to kids that young). Same goes here.

Lizzy in her "Indian Costume"
So all she learned (or at least all she remembers now, several hours later), really, were "Pilgwim boys weah black hats and Pilgwim guhls weah white ones like hoods," and, "Indians have weally cool clothes," and that, "Thanksgiving is to thank Indian people foh doing nice things like taking Pilgwims out to lunch". ("Out to lunch?" I asked, skeptically, and she said, "Yes, the Indians feeded the Pilgwims". All righty then).

So we haven't gotten into any of the bad, even in preschool terms like, "later, the Pilgrims were mean to the Indians," yet. The teachers said they tried to introduce the term Native American, but since fully a third of the kids in Lizzy's class are Indians-from-India, these little kids just could not wrap their heads around the concept of "Columbus thought it was India but he was wrong".

So, for all intents and purposes, it was just a harvest-time feast, which is okay too, at this age. And because of the large concentration of Indians-from-India in her school, there were a few non-standard items at the feast, which was nice too (we're used to this; I have a cousin from Japan who always brings sushi to family celebrations). And Lizzy ate like a pig - she had turkey and mashed potatoes and all the usual fixings, plus pasta with a (mild) Indian sauce and gulab jamun (those little donut holes soaked in cardamom syrup. Yum).

Let me tell you - a preschool room filled with 24 preschoolers, at least that many adults, assorted siblings, and a Thanksgiving Feast... it's a chaotic mess... but it's also a reason for giving thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Local Branch

Okay, folks, out of the fangirl squee (except that I think Eleven is Jackie Chan to Ten's Bruce Lee - both hyper-competent but Eleven's more slapstick. And apparently great with kids. And that I need to watch something else with Christopher Eccleston and/or David Tennant so I can determine if the appeal is the actors or the characters (any suggestions that I can get on Instant Play?). But I digress. I do that fairly often, you know. Plus I enjoy saying typing "I digress". But I uh... yeah.) As you can see, yesterday's crying jag (see link above) has done me no end of good - I'm back to silly mode.

Anyway, I wrote a few weeks ago about Panera Bread Company putting in a location a few blocks from me. I was frightened. The store itself is not open yet, but the Drive-Thru window is, so I indulged myself after my job-hunting / schoolwork-doing / nail-painting / school-conference-attending and had a cup of chili and a small salad. It was teh nom. And the people were super nice as well. When I have the money, since this place's food is fairly good for you - especially as drive-thru food goes - it'll be my too-tired-to-cook venue of choice, I think.



Monday, November 21, 2011

Outing Myself

No, not that way. I'm outing myself as a sentimental slob. Some of you may have realized this, but I can think of a few people who don't really think I'm all that emotional. I try to hold myself together for the most part,  because things have to be dealt with before falling apart is an option. I'm good in an emergency, for instance, until it's over and then I tend to be useless for a bit.

In Real Life, that is.

In fiction I let myself go. It came to me with a certain clarity today as I wept and sobbed my way through Doctor Who: The End of Time that is is a bit of a pattern for me. I go along my daily way, being my normal fairly laid-back but with a temper self, and then... I watch something like this. Not just this episode of course, but the new (often emotionally-fraught) Doctor Who in general, when watched through Netflix Instant Play at the average rate of about two episodes a day, is enough to touch anyone with a heart. Nothing more heart-wrenching than a strong man trying not to cry, and David Tennant is the best tears-fighter on TV.

So here I sit, with swollen nose and red eyes. I was good. I did my homework and got a bit ahead on it. I did my job-hunting online for the day. I did the dishes and the laundry. Then I sat down for a couple hours of science fiction pathos at its finest. My head hurts, my face hurts, and I really look pretty awful (not quite this bad). But I am a girl, and sometimes I just need a good cry. Sure got mine today.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bit of a Rant - Milestones

I've posted about this before. The tendency of The Establishment (for me this is usually the AAP) to make hard-line statements about the timing of everything from weaning to learning fractions, and the parroting of same from a) people online - parents or otherwise - who don't know my kids, and b) non-parents in person who read these generalizations and claim to know better than I do about my kids.

This particular rant was brought on by people claiming either for or against the issue of children entering kindergarten at just-or-almost-five. Let me tell you a few things here, people.
  1. She's four years old. It's ten months until our next school year starts. We've got time to make a decision.
  2. We have two older children. We do know what we're doing here. We're considering several options.
  3. Her doctor and preschool teachers are expected to weigh in (again) before we make any such decision.
  4. She has one thing her older sisters did not - and that's older sisters. Whether this works for or against her likelihood of being socially mature enough to enter kindergarten at just-five (looks like the first day of school for 2012-2013 school year is on her fifth birthday) remains to be seen. Please see Points 1-3.
This is by no means the only thing where other people think they know better than me about things like my children simply because they have a degree (whether in education or not is immaterial, apparently), or they're younger or older or smarter or more urban or more rural or thinner or who-the-hell-knows. The date for entering kindergarten was just today's trigger.

Blog Topics

This blog is (generally) a blog about life within a game-and-geek-oriented blended family. Every so often I do a post about something deeper or more important, but that's not the focus here. If I want to talk about more universal things - injustice, politics, religion, etc - I can do that on Google Plus or to a lesser extent, Facebook or Babycenter. And I do, although perhaps not as often as some of my more activist friends might want (and this is where I wish I had access to smileys in Blogger, so they know I'm saying that with affection).

But mostly this blog is about the world directly around me. Sometimes I write about major overlap between my world and the greater world, but generally this is about the little triumphs and tragedies, the quirks and squabbles, the hobbies and clubs and friends and school and home and life here at Chez Gamers' Babes. It's about the fact that our four-year-old Lizzy uses words like "tenacity" and knows what they mean. That our nearly-nine-year-old (and how did that happen?) Abby wants desperately to be Gryffindor-brave but is really Hufflepuff-kind. That our eleven-year-old Leanna is having tonsils out next week and I'm not the praying sort but I'm cool - and even grateful - to have other people pray for her.

Stabilized Snowman
It's about Lizzy using paper-cut snowflakes to make snow angels on the living room floor, about Abby's huge spoken and minimal written vocabulary, about Leanna's sensitivity to noise unless she's the one making it, about my adventures in dentistry, and about Laston's short story being published. About the differences (and similarities!) in parenting styles between myself, my spouse, and our respective ex-spouses. About his favorite technology and my favorite literature and our favorite games. About Lizzy drawing  scaffolding around or in her stick figures to "stabilize them, mama, so they can stand up". About Abby's growing knowledge of literary devices. About Leanna's huge improvement in schoolwork since she changed to a new district. About the day Tiger went missing.

It's a blog about us.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quiet but Fun

It's one of those days. The ones where one hangs around home, doing a few chores but mostly just hanging out with the family. We fold laundry, watch preschool shows (the bigger girls are at their respective other parents' places this weekend), read a ton of preschool books and just generally have some Quiet Time. Since Lizzy - who no longer naps during the day - took a long nap yesterday in the car to and from Abby's dad's place, I figured we could use it. All of us, as Laston & I don't get over colds as fast as the kids do.

So Lizzy and I were reading books and I was getting tired of the umpteenth Let's Pretend game ("Mama, can we pwetend that yoh a Bad Guy and you called me a Bad Name like 'stupid poopoo head' and then I cwied and I told my mom in the game and she told you to stop?"). The episode of Doctor Who next up in my Netflix Instant Queue is reputed to be a very scary one with Living Shadows That Eat People, so I decided to (re)play Kingdom Hearts. Anyone who knows these titles sees the connection, but for mom those who don't, let me explain. The Bad Guys in Kingdom Hearts are Living Shadows (more or less). I figured if I kicked their shadowy little butts it'd empower me to watch the Doctor Who episode tonight without scaring myself too much. Plus since Kingdom Hearts is full of Disney characters, Lizzy actually enjoys watching me play that one, so I'm not totally blowing her off either.

Uh, yes, adorkable. I know.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Favorite Word

I can't be the only one who has a favorite word. I am a huge fan of the word adorkable.

I picked it up from TVTropes, who picked it up in turn from the fandom of Stargate Atlantis, where it was used to describe a character - Rodney McKay - who pretty much epitomized the term (oooo - there's another one - epitome - but I digress). It's used to describe a person who is dorky, geeky, or nerdy in some way that makes them endearing. The characters (and real life people) who particularly fit the definition tend to be scary-smart (or otherwise powerful) and they may or may not have social skills (or may have them but forget to use them), but are good people. They tend to squee over things that interest them. They're not the stereotypical super-smart jerk. 
  • The titular Monk is adorkable but Dr. House is not. 
  • Peter Parker is adorkable.
  • The titular Wall-E
  • Marty McFly. Mentor Doc Brown has his moments, but he's more of an Absent Minded Professor / Mad Scientist than adorkable.
  • Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1, along with the aforementioned Rodney McKay. 
  • Several Doctors of Doctor Who (especially Ten, but even Nine had his moments). 
  • Willow and Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Wesley in earlier seasons of Angel
  • The title character of Chuck
  • Niles Crane of Frasier.
  • Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap
  • Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom of the Harry Potter stories. 
  • Vivi from Final Fantasy IX.
  • Phineas, Ferb, and their dad Lawrence.
Many of the males I consider to be friends also qualify (see link above). I met my husband online and thought, "aww, how sweet" when I saw his tagline (Nerdy and Good at It). Uh... I just realized. I may be adorkable myself. Just a little.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Geek Gurus

I am one, in some ways. And so is my beloved spouse. I'm good with software, he's great with networking, and in general we get along just fine with our consumer electronics. Of which we have plenty.

But when it comes to things like hardware choices or actual repair of a piece of hardware (especially laptop hardware), we tend to consult the experts. At Chez Gamers' Babes, this is usually one of our Friday Night Gamers, in particular James (Lizzy's Best Boy) or Nate (my future in-law, if Abby has her way). James found my laptop for me after exhaustive questioning as to what I really needed and what I really wanted, and what I could live without. He took into account the environment (yeah, three kids and a cat - it's a dust bowl in here) and my pocketbook, and found me what has proven to be the perfect computer for my school-and-work-from-home purposes - a Lenovo G555 widescreen (15.6 inches). I love it.

And a week or two ago the screen started to go out. It still seemed to be working in the background (I had sound, for instance) but the screen would flicker and die at odd intervals for a couple of days and eventually it would show the booting screen and then flicker to black. After extensive troubleshooting online (thanks, G+ buddies!) and in person, it was determined that at least part of the problem is the video inverter. Great, I can get that for $9 from an ebay store. So it came in the mail, Nate came over to test it and... well, it worked in and of itself, but it didn't solve the problem. More troubleshooting (mostly on Nate's part, although with a few panicky pointed questions from me to help him along) ensued. Turns out that the LCD cable (which is of course IBM-proprietary and therefore not available locally, even at Redmond Cable) has a short. This we know because after cleaning it all and plugging the LCD cable in, the picture came up, but the second we let go of the cable, it flickers again. Okay, how much can an LCD cable be?

It can be $44 plus shipping, that's how much it can be. Or I can get the whole screen assembly for $70. Of course, given that I am unemployed, either is moot, at least until next week. Or maybe the week after. Unless I can find that part for less money so I can order it sooner, I'm still using the kids' computer - the one they use at Grandma's house. They're getting impatient with it not being available.