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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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting Ridiculous

I try not to complain about my lack of a paying job in my blog. Oh, I mention it, but I think that in the ten months I've been writing in this blog almost daily, I've only actually complained about it once or twice. But I'm about to do it again. Today has just been a hard one on the job hunt. Last week I was rejected for a contract position as a Technical Marketer because I was too technical and do not have enough experience in marketing. Today I was rejected for a technical writing contract position at the same company because I'm not technical enough. Insult, meet injury. Salt, meet wound. I mean, really?

I've gone back to school to remedy my lack of a degree. I apply for everything that the Unemployment Insurance people deem suitable. I follow all their rules and recommendations. I apply for work at my dentist, places my children go to play, and places that pay less than my unemployment checks give me, because I just want to work. So let me set out my minimum requirements here, and my wish list and my skill set, and maybe, just maybe someone among my readers will have - or know someone who has - The Perfect Job For Jenn.

Skills - I'm especially good at customer service and what my friends and family call nerd-wrangling - keeping all the truly technical people moving in the same direction. I have experience in computer and console tech support (both hardware and software), experience in software testing, and lots of experience in documentation of everything from games to business utilities to healthcare policies and procedures. I excel at translating Tech into English. I can use (and support) Windows or Mac operating systems, and I'm proficient in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, and a lot of other software too numerous to list here. And I'm basically a good person, a hard worker, and a reliable employee.

Minimum Requirements (that phrase reminds me of writing documentation for Atari back in the day here) - $13/hour (or the equivalent in salary) for full time work in the northeast end of Seattle (more for downtown or east side or south end to cover commuting costs). Regular business hours, although weekends are currently acceptable working hours.

Wish List - $20/hour+ (or the equivalent in salary) for full time work, regular business hours with option to work from home on occasion, paid vacation & holidays, 401k or equivalent, opportunity to help people. Oh, and a bus pass, why not?

See? I really don't ask for much, and I'm willing to work for it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Monday Stuff

Nothing spectacular (except that my mom is back in town, thank goodness), but just a nice day in all. A new week at school for me, breakfast with my mom, some job-hunting, some house-cleaning and laundry. A very interesting chat about how voices work on Google Plus, which started with my offhand comment last night that Abby's concept of sotto voce (she mutters to herself so loudly that I can hear her over the running shower) seems a little louder than mine. I love the Internet because of this very thing - how a simple exasperated/amused parental comment can basically start its own wiki-walk with people from all over the globe.

As for wiki-walking (on my favorite web site) well... I've been watching New Doctor Who after the kids go to bed at night. Before the last week or two I'd only ever seen a couple episodes of the new stuff, and the old stuff I'd seen in clumps back in the late eighties. So while I knew a lot of Doctor Who Lore (because I am a geek), I've been browsing through the tvtropes archives on the topic while I watch. There is a ton of it, because, well, it's Doctor Who. I'm having a ball with it, too. I'm having trouble choosing a favorite Doctor at this point because while David Tennant (Tenth Doctor) is darling and great in the role and so forth, I'm having trouble getting past Christopher Eccleston's (Ninth Doctor) Thousand-Mile Survivor-Guilt Stare of Doom. I imagine this has been a problem for fans the whole time, since they managed to use the plot (regenerating as another guy when close to death) to account for different actors in the same role. Brilliant.

Like my baby girl. She's taking a computer class at preschool and today she learned the difference between hardware and software ("hahdwayah is the computah and softwayah is the game") and how to correctly shut down Windows, and practiced her mousing and problem-solving skills. I love that they're using games by the company I used to work for back in the day, because I know those games inside-out and backwards, and I can follow her four-year-old storytelling ("so then we went out of the Gwasslands and to the Ahctic wheya it is vewy cold and somebody saved the cold snake with hot cocoa, and I got to save Zanzibah the Hippo fwom the ice wheya he was stuck".) She's played other Putt-Putt games here and at my mom's, and Pajama Sam & Freddi Fish ditto, but she'd never played the classic Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo before.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Funny Kids Say Funny Things

Lizzy (4) just tried to read me a book. She started with, "It was a porning day outside" (it's raining hard in the book). There was a mental picture I didn't need.

When Abby was tiny - maybe two - she used to run around the house yelling "I stepped on Daddy's cock!" (she meant to say clock, and was referring to the bathroom scale).

Our lives are full of these things, or the blog wouldn't have the title it does.

Abby cannot pronounce the word goodness without adding a Y, Russian style - as in goodnyess. She'll be nine in just under a month.

I told Lizzy last month that she was being a pain in the neck, and she said - in shocked tones - "Mama, kids say pain in the neck. Gwonups is sposta say pain in the ass!"

It took years of patient repetition and intervention by the good folk at Nick Jr - thanks, Blue's Clues! - to convince Abby that twelve and a dozen are the same thing. She may still believe - in spite of being able to read now - that the ultra-rich  Powerpuff Girls villain is named Princess Morfox, not Princess Morbucks.

Leanna (11) refuses to admit that the word for a get-your-own-food restaurant is pronounced buff-AY, does not care that it comes from the French, and insists that it's buff-ET.

Kids are strange little people.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Giving

Brownie Troop volunteering at
Food Lifeline
I've noted in a few places that our girls are fairly generous as little girls go. Not so much with each other - I suspect most sisters are not - but with strangers in need. Leanna's mom is a resident manager in a women's and children's home, and Abby is a girl scout, so they get that people can be in need... even as they bemoan their first-world problems. Today was a good day on the giving front. Abby and her Brownie troop spent three hours packing bran muffin mix into single-baking portions at Food Lifeline. I dropped her off there and went to do a little shopping at the local QFC (how do we go through apple juice so quickly on the weekends?). 

Honestly, I mostly needed a break from all children. I like to think I'm a decent parent, but I do my best parenting when I have not had them on my own 24/7 for more than a couple days running. In other words, since Abby and Lizzy both had Thursday and Friday off this week, and my mom was out of town, I was feeling a little frazzled. So QFC it was. They were having their annual sampler day, apparently, wherein one can try many different holiday foods. That was kind of nice. And outside their doors was another group - this one was the Key Club from Shorecrest High School - doing a non-perishable food drive. 

Now, I don't have a lot of money - I've been unemployed since April - but the day I can't afford to dump $10 worth of food in a donation bin is the day I need their services myself. So I went through the store, and in addition to my apple juice and satsuma mandarins (yay! satsuma season) and Laston's bar-b-cue sauce, I got a half-dozen jars of baby food and some rice & beans for the donation bin.

This makes me feel good.

And when we got home, Abby and Leanna made birthday cards and gave up some of their Halloween candy to put in the cards as gifts for the neighbor boys, who both have birthdays this week. Generosity on a kid level, not organized by their parents.

This makes me feel even better.

Saturdays

Abby's new Brownie Scout Troop is very into community service, and I think that's a good thing. They opened the new library, sorted and tagged at the clothing bank, and today they're going to work at Food Lifeline for a couple hours. This occurs after lunch, so in the meantime there is Much to Do. I've got soup on for tonight, and turkey carcass being made into broth for tomorrow night's soup. Laston did the (OMG Turkey Dinner second round of) dishes, but there's schoolwork and the general round of laundry-tidying-etc.

I woke up to Lizzy shrieking that it wasn't fair, Leanna was using her plate and Laston putting her in her room until she could calm down. At first I thought this was a deliberate act on his part to teach Lizzy sharing (as there was a similar incident late last night regarding Leanna drinking from Lizzy's cup (and I was half-asleep)) but no, she was just tantruming and he grabbed the teaching moment and ran with it. Once she calmed down and was allowed to come back to the table (leftover pumpkin pie is a great breakfast, by the way), she and I had a little talk (she was un-talk-to-able while still tantruming - I know Laston tried). She claimed to be fwust-a-wated so I asked her what would be a better choice than having a tantrum. This is where I think that content matters, because she quoted Blue's Clues - she said, "I'm sposeta stop, bweathe, and think."

Now it's just a matter of getting her to remember that before lashing out. And she's four. And she has a temper. This could take a while.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Turkey Dinner

I made a full turkey dinner once before - and that time was more or less a comedy of errors. It was also twenty years ago. I had just married Abby's dad the July before and he was working nights in a hotel so we could not go to my aunt's house (a three-hour drive) for Thanksgiving. And while he was asleep that Thanksgiving day, I rolled up my sleeves and decided to make him a full-on dinner. I sucked as a cook back then. The meal itself was fine once it was done, but there were a lot of tears, burned knuckles, a trip to the neighbor with a bowlful of raw turkey innards, asking what which of these was the liver and how on earth do I make gravy out of these... things (poor neighbor was also just barely pregnant at the time and she told me later this made her seriously sick), and the crowning achievement of a full (plastic, thankfully) flour canister falling into an unbaked pumpkin pie and splattering pumpkin all over the kitchen, the cook, and even the ceiling. It was at this juncture that my then-husband woke up for the night, laughed, and gently steered me into the shower while he took care of the final details like lighting candles.

I've improved as a cook. And now I also know my limits.

The gravy is from a packet. The stuffing is from a box, the rolls are from the bakery, and the pie is from one of the Friday Night Gamers. But I'm roasting the turkey from scratch, (with help from the good folks at Butterball), I'm steaming some veggies, making a fresh green salad, mashing red potatoes from scratch, roasting apples and onions along with the turkey, and putting the whole shebang together. It smells good at least. Not sure how it'll turn out yet.

We shall see.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Child Labor

Yes. Yes I do. I force encourage my kids (and the neighbor kids) to clean their room and their/the guest bathroom as well. Sometimes the living and dining areas. I pay them in Treasure Chest Picks and today, lunch (pizza, oven fries, vegetables, and milk). If they do an adult-level job (like digging the stuff out from under the dresser and wiping the bathroom mirrors) they'll get two Treasure Chest Picks.

And then there's the stuff they do for me voluntarily. This morning Abby and Lizzy let me sleep until 8:30 (no school and nowhere to be until gymnastics tonight) and when I got up I had breakfast - Abby-style - waiting for me. Cold buttered toast, an orange, and a glass of ice-water. Not my favorite breakfast, but how nice. She had fed herself and her little sister the same plus cereal with milk.

So I'm typing while lunch is cooking and in a few minutes we'll eat, then we'll all get cracking. Don't get me wrong; I do my share (today it's kitchen and laundry and anything they can't lift / reach / fold themselves). Plus of course my daily job hunt, schoolwork, keeping Lizzy helping rather than hindering, refereeing the "she's not helping!" complaints, planning the rest of the day, the basics. I have plenty to do, and that's before I take Abby to her free trial at the gymnastics place this afternoon.

Life is busy. Even for those who employ child labor.

Update: Although there is much making of a mess in order to clean the mess (like clearing off of Abby's bed to change her sheets), and an inordinate amount of giggling, stuff is getting done. Poor Ash (8) picked up something from underneath the table (with a tissue) that turned out to be a cat hairball. He's squicking all over the place. One of the slats holding up Abby's mattress broke, and Tris (10) freaked out a little when I yelled at Abby (he's sensitive to yelling the same way Leanna is, apparently, even when not directed at him). I got him sorted and fixed the bed (now we know why there were extra parts with it!) and now we're taking a break while we all calm down.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Girls' Evening Out

Brownie Scout meeting tonight, so Abby and I did our 2nd monthly Big Girls' (meaning "without Lizzy") Night Out. This consists of dinner, dessert, and a half-hour to forty-five minutes in the library before the meeting starts. We chose dinner at Sushi Hana again - it's both a lot cheaper with just one adult and one child, and a lot calmer one on one like that. Since Abby is now fond of at least four items they have there - and mostly the cheap ones at that (kappa maki, inari, tomago, and calamari) - this was super nice. Then we went to our friendly neighborhood 31 Flavors and each had a child-size scoop (chocolate chip cookie dough for her, daiquiri ice for me. Yum.)

Then on to the library where we have our brownie scout meeting. On the way there, Abby revealed that her school photos came in. Unlike Lizzy's school photos, Abby's electronic rights are pretty inexpensive, so here you go. We went through the ritual of returning last month's books, renewed a couple we hadn't gotten to yet, and went hunting for others. The ones Abby's been reading - the Ivy and Bean series - are very popular, especially since the author apparently made a visit to one of the King County Libraries within the last week, so they've all been checked out and we put the next few on hold so when they come in we can have them. Then she had her meeting, wherein she and the other kids had a lot of trouble remembering they were in a library (they are in a closed-off room after all). I'm pretty happy that I'm not a regular part of the meetings myself - I drop off and hang around in case of emergency - because this gives me a little time to hang out in a library without the children. We planned our service meeting for this month too - we're doing that Saturday - but mostly I get an hour or so of quiet library time. It's nice.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Differences

Everyone here has had a cold (Leanna's had tonsillitis, but she doesn't live here full time and caught it elsewhere). As far as I can tell from my mommy-instinct and input from our doctor's office and webmd.com, Lizzy was successfully fighting off this cold she picked up at preschool until she had her checkup with vaccinations. Of course, the viruses in the vaccines are dead and can't make her sick in and of themselves, but the doctor said (when I called the next day because Lizzy had suddenly started cold symptoms) that if she was already fighting a cold when she got the shots, her immune system threw up it's metaphorical hands and took its bat and ball and went home.

I love our doctor.

Anyway, Laston and Abby and I all got it too. Lizzy was fine in a few days except for occasional sneezing and an unusual amount of crankiness. Abby's symptoms are so close to her usual (to things like dust - not the nuts) allergy symptoms that it was hard to tell she was sick - mostly she just wakes up with a snuffly nose and spends way too much time clearing her throat. Laston spent one night with the cold med cocktail I gave him (a couple of ibuprofen, a half a diphenhydramine, and a cough drop - he's a lightweight on this score) and spent the weekend sucking down tea and napping and - while not completely well - is clearly feeling better. Although that may have more to do with his published short story and the euphoria therewith.

And then there's me.

I'm not ill unto death or anything - I don't even have a sinus infection or any of my usual upper respiratory bugaboos (yay for healed sinus lining!) so it's just a cold - but I sound dreadful. Sniffling, sneezing, coughing (I sound like an old Nyquil ad) and I've lost my voice almost entirely (which may be from yelling at the aforementioned Cranky Lizzy). But I don't feel badly sick and when you've had a gazillion sinus infections this is not something to sneeze at.

And yes, that pun was intentional.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Strange Days

Things are always very weird when my mom is out of town. Not only is she my mommy (see here), she's my primary child care provider (keeping Lizzy out of my hair while I am doing my schoolwork - at least until I get a paying job, when she will hopefully be back to full time), supplemental food provider (both the excess from Costco trips and sometimes full on meals - either out or at her place), and general Morale Officer.

So she's out of town and everything seems just... off. I mean, I'm doing my homework and folding laundry and all that, as normal, but I have to keep interrupting myself to pick Lizzy up at preschool or arrange for other stuff to occur. Like this afternoon when the Hubs has a phone conference and it has to be quiet; if Mom were in town I'd just take the kids to her place for the hour. Oh, I have a key, but "it just ain't right" when she's not here. Very strange. So we'll run by her place and grab some stuff and then we'll go down to our favorite frozen yogurt place and get some dessert for after tonight's dinner.

My Critical Thinking class (did I mention I currently have 100%? I do) is doing a unit on rhetorical analysis. A few of my friends will find this amusing (yes, Broot, I'm talking to you). Abby - who only knows the term rhetoric as it relates to that kind of sarcastic rhetorical question like, "could you have spilled more milk?" - will likely find my discussion of it trying and engage in massive eye-rolling. Thus is nearly-nine-years-old. I also have to interview someone - and I have a friend in mind - for my Communications class. We may have to do this via email because I can't think of a good way to do it via Skype with the Liz here.

Which brings us full circle; doing my everyday school work without my mom here is not that big a problem. But doing anything that requires me listening to someone talk has to be done while Lizzy's at school - and since it's a holiday week there are only five hours of that this week, half of which are already gone. I knew my mom did a lot, but I had no idea how difficult it would be this week without her in her home a few miles from mine.

I love you, Mom.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dilemma

I have a dilemma. Not a bad one, where either option is horrific and I must therefore take a third option or violate my personal code. Nothing so fancy. The problem is that I've been circled by so many people today (about 100) on Google Plus (and believe me, I'm totally flattered by this) that I feel like I should have something amazing and pithy and deep at the same time to post here on my blog. Every day.

And today, I got nuthin'.

Abby went to her dad's this weekend, saw Puss in Boots with him, came back here, went out to play, had lunch and is now having a play date with a school friend. Lizzy's making me crazy because she has 400 times my energy under the best of circumstances, and since I have the cold that she is 99% recovered from I have even less than usual. I'm doing schoolwork (and getting an A+ so far in Critical Thinking, thank you very much) and laundry and tag-teaming Lizzy with her dad, who is also preparing for an interview about his story.

I already belong to a credit union and have for a couple decades. We're having a totally prosaic American meal for dinner tonight (cheeseburgers). I'm not doing NaNoWriMo because I don't really do fiction. I haven't had dental work for a few days, we haven't had a full on game-night since the last one I wrote about, and the kids are doing normal things in their lives.

Like I said, I got nuthin'.

So, once I prepare a full-on turkey dinner (this coming Friday, whether we have enough gamers or not), go to my kid's Brownie Scout meeting (Wednesday), or attend her free trial gymnastics class (Thursday), I'll have something to write. Until then, I don't foresee anything. This does not mean nothing will happen of course - I could get a job tomorrow or the kids might say something exceptionally cool, or I might dream something up in the shower. It wouldn't be the first time.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Quiet Day

After yesterday's frantic running about, today was very quiet. Both adults have caught Lizzy's cold, and so we took turns watching Liz while the other rested / slept / took a hot bubble bath. I ate stew made from leftover pot roast. He ate chicken soup I made fresh today. We're floating away on the gallons of tea we've drunk between us. We've had some quiet games with Lizzy ("this is my baby and you ah my othah baby, and you have a cold so I'm giving you meh-cine") and read a lot of preschool books and watched rather too much preschool TV.

Did some laundry and some school work and the dishes. Nothing strenuous. Just a lazy day at home with a cold. Maybe if we took them more often we wouldn't get so many colds. I don't know. But it's nice.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Frenetic Friday

No game this week; everyone has a cold (and besides, the turkey has not thawed - maybe by next Friday it'll be thawed). So I went to bed last night thinking of my to-do list for today. Get kids to school, go to dentist, get some grocery shopping done, pick Lizzy up for lunch, do homework, pick Abby up to go to her dad's, deposit child support check, home for dinner out.

It's never that simple.

I sleep right through my alarm, so the kids' breakfast is yogurt and toast and fruit. Not bad, but not the hot hearty chilly-fall-morning breakfast I had planned.either. Get Abby off to the bus on time, get Lizzy to preschool exactly at nine. Get to the dentist for my cleaning. Do not have time after to shop before getting Lizzy, so screw the grocery shopping; that's what safeway.com is for. Pick Lizzy up at preschool, feed her lunch while I do some homework and aforementioned safeway and some laundry and the dishes (thank Google for Google Docs; my loaner doesn't have MSFT Office. And oh damn, my computer gurus won't be here because there is no game tonight. Oh well, later days.) Arg, I forgot to pack Abby's bag for her dad's house. Rush around finding clothes for that. Get to the school ten minutes before school lets out and wait.

And wait. And wait.

Hey, that's Abby's bus taking off and she's not out here in the parent pick up line yet. Weird. Hey, Mrs 3rd-Grade Teacher, did Abby get on the bus? Well... oh sure, why not something else not major but still a PITA. What's one more thing? Get back to the bus stop, passing Abby's bus on the way. When the bus pulls up to the stop, Abby comes flying out - "Oh my Gosh, Mom, I was so confused!" - so off we go, twenty minutes late (and while listening to a TV-themes mix CD, I get "This sounds like the ultimate Spy Song!" It was the Mission Impossible theme, so she has a point). We get to her dad's, figure out the activity we'll use to replace swimming (gymnastics) since her swimming lessons are on hiatus. Ride on fumes to gas station and then to deposit child support check. Get home half an hour late.

Pick up Lizzy and Laston and go to the new Sushi Hana. Hope against hope (correctly as it turned out) that Lizzy will be well-behaved when it's just her and the adults. Yeah, not so much, although she's still better-behaved than she was with the other kids there. (she likes calamari; who knew?) Everyone was very kind to the poor frazzled parents with the jumpy preschooler though. And good food. Really good food.

So now, home. Home to finish my homework and write my blog and hope that Lizzy sleeps tonight. This weekend I plan to do nothing more complicated than laundry and grocery sho...

I also need to update that safeway.com order.  Seeya.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Love My Mouth

Seriously, with the amount of time, energy, money, and pain I've put into my teeth these last few months, I certainly ought to. Today was (yet another) post-operative checkup. I swear I've had more post-op checks for this than I had with either c-section. Probably not, but it does seem that way.

Good news! The wound (as they persist in calling it) is healing nicely. He did have to pick something out of it - a small piece of pumpkin, apparently - but for two weeks' healing time that's not too bad. He also said it's a really good thing I did not catch Lizzy's cold until this stuff was mostly healed; apparently that could have been ugly. I have a cleaning scheduled for tomorrow while Lizzy is at preschool, and then we're taking a break while these things get all the way healed, before gong in and doing one more extraction (broken tooth) and a couple more fillings and probably implants when the wounds are entirely healed (a couple months more). They offered to do the other extraction and the fillings sooner but I told them that while I still love them and all, I need a break.
-----------------------------------------------
Also, I love Lizzy's strange little personality. In our living room earlier this afternoon, Lizzy and I were watching DOra the Explorer - the episode where they teach the audience to mambo. Everyone else is up and dancing, but not Lizzy. Instead, every time the mambo music came on she'd flip the empty laundry basket over and drum on it in time to the music. Pretty well too. And - I didn't know this until just now - her imaginary friend Ann was drumming on the other basket.

This sums Lizzy up pretty well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why My Mom Can't Leave Town

Seriously. Every time something momentous happens (assuming it's unexpected - she stays in town for things like childbirth!) my mom is either leaving or preparing to leave town. Not that I could blame her if it were intentional - who'd want to be there when her oldest daughter is spewing cuss words all over anyone in her way? - but it's not.

It just works out that way.

When Abby's dad and I separated, we actually announced it earlier than anticipated, because we didn't want my mom to fret all over the state of Florida where she was going on vacation. That all eventually worked out for the best - we get along fine these days - but what a mess it was at the time! I've bought houses, sold houses, my sister's done the same... all while Mom was on vacation. It's unreal how often it happens.

I'm sure it just seems like it of course; perhaps it's a corollary to Murphy's Law. "When Mom is out of town things will seem worse than they are". Because really? My computer problem appears to be an issue with the screen (I'm writing this from my husband's computer) which could be fixed easily enough with tools, time, money, or some combination. My mom is lending me a laptop that the kids use at her place until I can get mine fixed. Abby's dad and I would have bought that condo (and gotten divorced later and sold it) if Mom was in town or not. The time when I got laid off from the longest-term job I'd ever had and I was so shocked? Mom was at home then.

It's just that when I want my mommy (yes, I am 43. So what?) all the day-to-day crap seems more difficult to deal with.

I love you, Mom.