Safety and Security Notice:

I never include last names or specific locations here, for the safety of our children. If you or your child is a friend of me or mine, and you approve a first name and photo being posted as appropriate, please click this link to email me with written permission. Thank you

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday Was... Difficult

My phone went kablooey (something wrong with either the battery or the charging port). I have new parts coming as it's under warranty, and a cheapo GoPhone in the meantime. I thought I'd give the GoPhone to Abby when I'm done with it, but I had forgotten that her father and I had discussed it and decided that she was too young, even for the "starter phone". Bad call on my part, and not very respectful of the other adult involved in the equation either; I didn't even consult him.

She's not all that careful with electronics. although she's better now than she used to be. We  replaced the DS Lite her dad got her (with the extended warranty he also bought, good idea, Dad) about a year and a half ago, although that was an issue with - you guessed it - the charging port.

Maybe we have a mini-USB problem.

Anyway, her dad and I will have another talk about the idea of a cell phone for her, and since this GoPhone is also completely cheap and doesn't have any of the cool features any self-respecting tween would want (like a camera, or a texting keyboard) and also no parental controls (because it's a prepaid), I think we'll keep it in the house as an emergency phone, the sort of thing we can keep always in the same place in case we need to dial 911.

God forbid.

And then - ANNND THEN - I had to take Lil' Lizzy in for a filling. At five years old. With a half-dozen more to do, because apparently drinking juice right before bed is the same thing as drinking juice in bed; it's seriously bad for the teeth. Lizzy - being Lizzy - is a fidgeter. And a... well, it was somewhere between screaming and whimpering. And then Lizzy - being Lizzy - was absolutely fine and maybe even a little more jumpy than usual (do they put epinephrine in novocaine for babies?) the second she was out of the chair. Apparently her rewards of a blue toothbrush and a Halloween pencil made it all worthwhile.

They want to send her to a pediatric dentist who can knock her out and do the other six all at once. Scary for Mama.

Anyway, not a bad day. Just difficult.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Almost Done

The school I'm in has gotten some bad press lately, because they're closing several on-the-ground campuses, although the only way this should affect online students such as myself is in losing live tutoring services. I feel bad for those who will have to either go online when they're used to on-the-ground, or commute to a further campus. But times are hard for for-profit schools too, and not everyone learns well online. We all have our learning quirks.

But I just got off the phone with my academic counselor, and I feel great. As soon as my current class is over (three more weeks!) I am Done With F&^king Algebra Forever, and back to classes that mean something to me, both in the academic and affectionate senses.

Next up is Communication Variety: the Spice of Life. I'm back to two classes (since F&^king Algebra will be done) and the other is Information Strategies: Putting 2 and 2 Together (and no, it's not math, and even if it was, arithmetic I can handle).

After those and two more, I will have an Associate of Arts in Communications.

And then I start on a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Communications.

Now I was able to transfer 15 credits from the Long Ago toward my AA. I have 33 credits from back then to transfer toward my BS. That's a lot of credits. And it covers all my electives, which is lovely except that any other classes I want to take I will have to take separately. I wouldn't mind a creative writing class for instance, but  it won't be part of this degree; I used up all my electives in the late 1980s with things like Spanish and Signing Exact English and other classes that count as Humanities.

Assuming no breaks in schooling, I will receive a Bachelor of Science for my 46th birthday.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Weird Little Phrases

The woman from whom
these are learned.
 I'm not talking about the potentially offensive ones here, but those pithy little phrases one hears from people in the generation up from one's own.

Today I was reminded of this because I just received an email from my mother - who is watching my kids in spite of having had knee surgery four days ago, go Mom! - and she said Lizzy was "covered in sand from ass to appetite".

I want to know exactly how far that is. What's the etymology? Does it mean literally from the child's backside to her mouth (or did it start out that way and has evolved)?

I wonder whether I have any phrases that my kids think are really strange.

It's similar to another one I've heard her use - "raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock". Now that's evocative (if yucky) of a mental picture - the splashy kind of rain.

Certainly more so than "raining cats and dogs".

I'm at work and I can't go searching for stuff like that from here; even if I had the time to do more than bang out a blog post on a break, I shudder to imagine the kinds of search results I would get with words like ass and pissing in my search terms. From work.

The last time I did that, it was at Atari (or maybe it was Infogrames at the time), searching for one of our own Duke Nuk'em games by subtitle. Yeah, "Land of the Babes"... not a great search term from work.

Besides, I try to keep this blog basically PG-rated.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I find Thursdays to be a bit trying. I think that it's because Wednesday I go in for my math tutoring session, and my brain is fried from twisting into unnatural (for me) configurations (this is where I want proper smileys in Blogger). Not to mention the driving-all-over-town part of it.

And this Thursday is especially so. My mom is having knee surgery. Now, she hurt her knee um... 29 years ago? Something like that, and she had surgery at the time and I remember one point when all three of us - me, Mom, and Sis - were on crutches at the same time that spring. Mom had torn stuff skiing, I had pulled a bunch of ligaments and tendons ditto, and Sis had broken her leg on a wet playground slide.

But I digress.

Anyway, mom's having surgery today - one of her BFFs (my Fairy Godmother, aka "Auntie S" in this blog) took her in, and it's not even at the hospital; it's an outpatient thing. No real reason to fret, right?

But there's no news yet. And it's making me crazy.

And Lil' Lizzy is at the dentist with her dad, which also makes me crazy, because even though I know he's perfectly capable (if not exactly eager) to take her in, he's not me. If she does in fact have a cavity - and it sure looks like it to me and my mom and Miss Abby - she will want her mommy, no matter how cool Daddy is or how much SCIENCE he does with her.

Yeah, so this post is kind of rambling, but hey, that's what it's for, right? To "write things out".

Edited (3:30PM) to add: Heard from Mom, who texted me from the car (her friend is driving of course) to let me know she's fine and they're on their way home. Have not yet heard from The Hubs about Lizzy's Teeth of Doom.

Edited (3:50PM) to add: Poor baby has a number of cavities (seven, all on surfaces where it's a flossing issue), apparently. She's too young to just pull baby teeth. Our juice bill will go down though, I guess.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One of Those Days

The Hubs has to be at work at five, so when I'm still bleary-eyed and coffeeless at 630 and he comes barelling into the house, plops my keys into my hand, and says, "Check your email," there's a problem.

Yesterday I sent Abby out to retrieve her school bag from his car. Apparently she left my copy of the keys in his passenger door and of course he didn't see it (why would he - he uses the driver door), and assumed that the tapping noise was a seatbelt hanging outside the car. Until he gets to work. And then he has to work until six, emailing me and Google-Plussing me (while I sleep), when a manager comes in and he can get permission to run the keys home so I can get to work. Abby spent the rest of the morning before school writing him a contrite little note.

That's how the day started. Then there was dreadful traffic, a note from my boss asking me to do a bunch of articles over again (and a later note saying that only two of them actually needed it so I'm good), Lizzy getting the sniffles, and a note from Leanna's mom asking how many of us are coming to Leanna's concert tonight.

Um... I wasn't told about a concert until just now. Looks like Leanna was supposed to tell us but forgot. Thus is twelve years old - still young enough to assume that parents just know this stuff, through osmosis, I suppose. I have school and Abby has gymnastics, and Lizzy may be getting a cold, and...

At least I'm still passing F^%king Algebra.

Knock wood.

Lizzy may have a cavity - she's going to the dentist tomorrow - and needs a checkup - pediatrician two weeks from Saturday - and gahhhhhhhh.

Just that kind of day. Nothing huge. Just a lot of little Bad Stuff.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Green Beans

I buy organic... but only when it's on sale or otherwise cheaper. Organic food (and yes, yes, all food is organic in the literal definition of the word, but 'organic' in this context means 'not genetically modified, no weird antibiotics or funky artificial hormones, and oh, by the way, we don't use cancer-causing pesticides.') is expensive as a rule.

So I don't get it often.

But on my way to work (I live north of Seattle and work east of it), there is a little drive-thru latte stand called The Green Beanery.

And they are fabulous.

Everything is organic. Some of it is free trade. The cups are made of recycled paper. Most of it is compostable. They have things I've never seen at any other coffee place, like hummus in place of cream cheese, and more alternative milks than just soy and rice. They have extensive nutrition information so it would even be safe for my daughter to eat there; they know what is in everything, where it's from, etc.

They don't seem to be more expensive than other 'non-organic' coffee shops. Which means of course that they're not an every day thing; coffee drinks are expensive no matter where you get them.

But they're worth it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Probably Overthinking This

You know, in that way that middle-school English teachers and book reviewers overthink the meaning behind every word that a given author writes. The, "Blue indicates the protagonist's longing for the sea," thing, when no, the protagonist just likes blue; it was a throw-it-in just for - ahem - color.

But I've been thinking about two of the songs on the Spooky Mix CD I talked about earlier this week.

Ghost Riders in the Sky - Is this a variation on the legends of the Wild Hunt? Or a simple ghost story in song form? Overthinking? Yeah, probably, but well, that's what breaks (and my favorite wiki site) are for, right? So I looked it up. And sure enough, when one types "Ghost Riders in the Sky" into their serach box, one of the very first hits is - you guessed it - The Wild Hunt page. Go Jenn and her mind full of trivia!

So I looked up The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Sounds very Faustian, yeah? Putting up one's soul in a bet with the devil, as in many many other stories. (Although in the case of this song, the Devil is the one who initiates the encounter; he's behind on his soul quota apparently). And yeah, it's on the Deal with the Devil page on that web site, under both Music (natch) and Video Games (for Guitar Hero). Along with one of my other favorites, of course, as pointed out earlier this year.

My mind works in twisty little ways.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Musical Discoveries

I've shared before how music affects my kids.

Abby's such an auditory learner as to make it difficult for her to read until recently when it clicked (and the only "long words" she can spell are those she learned in song, like "Aitch Ay Double-ell Oh Double-you, Double-ee En spells Halloween" to the tune of Danse Macabre).

Lizzy thinks songs in minor keys are by definition sad, so she is unable to cope with - for instance - Greensleeves (What Child is This?) or Sunrise Sunset.

But this weekend Lizzy and I went into The Hubs' considerable collection of mp3s he's bought over the years, to make us a Halloween compilation CD for the car. Some favorites of Abby's (Dead Man's Party, the aforementioned Danse Macabre) and Lizzy's (The Monster Mash, Purple People Eater) along with twelve or so others. These are not (in general) "Halloween songs", but they are all either creepy as to content or in that minor-key way - Bad Moon Rising, Devil Inside, etc.

So when we started in on track six - Ghost Riders in the Sky - and Lizzy said, "It sounds like the pie episode of the Backyahdigans," I looked it up. And sure enough (as you can see if you click on the link) The Backyardigans: Samurai Pie's musical genre is in fact Spaghetti Western. Good catch, kid!

Abby noticed that most of the Halloween songs - at least "the ones with words, mom" - are story songs; they tell a specific story about a given dark and gloomy night or the like. 'Twa Corbies is a good example (although a certain amount of translation had to be looked up) and so is Abby's new-old favorite of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Now this is a song that her father and I listened to ad nauseum while I was pregnant with her, so I don't know how much of her love of it is prenatal influence. But she really really loves it.

And then we got to the last track on the disc. And although I'm no longer sure Abby has a mild form of dyslexia since her reading improved so much over the summer, she does still have trouble with right and left, much as my mom does. If I can use The Time Warp to teach her right from left in a way she can grok ("It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the ri-i-i-i-i-ight" and no, we're not doing the responses; get your head out of the gutter), then I will.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I love autumn. It's my favorite season, even if the end of it is ugly. And today I am rocking the fall/harvest vibe. Right now I've got all four burners on the stovetop going, and a G+ friend in my What's for Dinner? circle asked for recipes. So...

Boiled eggs
This one is pretty easy, but we boil a lot of eggs (I'm mildly allergic to milk, so eggs are an easier quick protein than cheese), and we've discovered the best way to make them easy-peel; about halfway through the boil add a shake of baking soda to the water, and when they're done, run the whole thing under cold water until the eggs are cool. This may explain my water bill.

Laston's Work Lunches
He likes to vary these, but in general they include (white) meat, veggies, beans and spices. Today's batch is thusly:
  • 3lb pork tenderloin, in bite-sized chunks
  • 1 onion, chunked
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans Cuban-style black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2lbs frozen mixed veggies
Usually this requires a fair amount of spice. But the Cuban-style beans are a bit spicy and the Chipotle Tabasco could come from Safeway any time between 11 and 3 Pacific. I brown the meat and onions and then add the rest, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour.

"Camping Soup"
So named because one could take it camping and cook it all day over a fire; the only thing requiring refrigeration was the meat. We use it more commonly in the fall now, and I associate it with something hot to eat before trick-or-treating. Mom uses ground beef but I prefer stew meat. It's another throw-it-in kind of recipe, and today's version is...
  • 1lb stew beef, browned
  • 1 onion, diced and browned with the meat
  • 1 large can beef broth
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can wax beans
  • 1 large can kidney beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can mushrooms
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 handful (half a cup?) pearl barley
  • 1 bay leaf
Brown the meat and onions, and toss it all in the slow cooker. It's very important not to drain the canned veggies; the water from them helps make the broth.

Jenn's Jewish-Asian Fusion Sick-time Soup
Jewish because of the chicken-soup stereotype. Asian because of the flavors I put in it. Sometimes I get frozen won-tons but I didn't have time today. Also out of pea pods.
  • 1 quart chicken broth (today I'm making my own,  with chicken thighs, water, lime juice, garlic, onion, ginger, and celery)
  • Chicken (um... today is three thighs' worth)
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 can shiitake mushrooms, drained
  • 1 handful (half a cup?) white rice
  • Soy sauce to taste
Make the broth as above (it's reducing as I type), dump the lot in a slow cooker (Laston's mom got me a triple-crock-pot a couple years ago and it's my best friend), and enjoy!

There it is, folks, Jenn's autumnal comfort food.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An 'Out of the Mouths' Sort of Week

I got home rather late tonight, because I went grocery shopping, and also bought dinner at this new place down the road called Readi Spaghetti. It's not bad - rather like the Subway Sandwich of pasta - and the grownups truly enjoyed it. But I did get this remark from Abby, in her best sneering-tween manner. "Mom. You just don't understand. When Grandma says the mac-and-cheese is good, that means it's good only to Grandma. Kids are not fans because it's too cheesy."

Right then. Next time I'll get the kids' pizza meal. Sheesh.

Then the Hubs sneezed. He tends to do this several times in a row so we all waited to say bless you or salud or gesundheit. He sneezed again and Lizzy (just five) said, "Wait for it... waiiit for itttt." And the Hubs and I just cracked up.

Credit: Big Fish Games
Awakening: The Dreamless Castle
After watching Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan with me, Abby no longer wants to be anything from Who for Halloween, and is refusing to play one of our favorite games from Big Fish. (see right). She's still interested in a Who-themed birthday party though.

And as for birthdays, Abby is firmly convinced that she made up the knock-knock joke containing her name ("Abby who?" "Abby birthday to you"). We'll let her keep that illusion for awhile.

We're not churchgoers  but my musical repertoire includes quite a number of religious songs and/or songs that refer to religion. Lizzy threw this one at me last night as we completed the singing portion of our bedtime routine. "Mommy, I know what Gahdian Angels is; the ones god sends to care for us at night so he can sleep." This is on a par with last Thanksgiving, when she declared that "Thanksgiving is to thank Indian people foh doing nice things like taking Pilgwims out to lunch".

And that, Dear Readers, is why this blog is named what it is.