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Thursday, September 26, 2013


Not the ones my previous bosses are giving the current placement agency.

Literary (or theatre) references. Gamersbabes style.

So Lizzy (6) has discovered Animaniacs, and she likes it so much (and +Laston Kirkland can stand it) that we found several discs on eBay today, so she can watch on her own. In the meantime, we're using the YouTube Channel on the Wii to watch episodes catch as catch can.

I had forgotten - or more likely never knew - how much Parental Bonus there is in this show! West Side Pigeons. Oh. My. God.

So we're watching it, and the Hubs and I are getting all the West Side Story and Goodfellas references, and the kids are asking us what's so funny, and Lizzy's yelling at us because we're laughing so hard she can't hear the words, and Abby (10) asks about the story it's based on. I start going on about Romeo and Juliet, and Laston says, "Well, see, there are these two street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, and one of the Jets falls in love with one of the Sharks--"

"Are they gay street gangs?" Abby interrupts innocently.

"Um, no," says her stepdad, "They have girls in these gangs too."

I can't wait to share this in my Media and Society class; we are discussing stereotypes in the media, and Abby's assumption that all street gang members are male... it slots right in there.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Let the Festivities Begin!

Birthdays around here tend to be more like birth weeks. sometimes months.

Take me, for instance. My birthday is this coming Monday, September 30th. (I want a good job for my birthday, but that's a separate post). I'll be 45, and if you can subtract, you now know my birthday. Congratulations.

At any rate, I am also a mom, a student, and either a job hunter or a worker at any given time. Busy. So we take our celebrations when we can. For us, this was Monday. I got off work unexpectedly at midday (which probably should have been my first clue, but I digress) and came home. The Hubs was home early too that day, and so he took me out to lunch at a favorite restaurant. To him, this is not "special" enough to be a birthday thing all on its own, but to me it is, because it's a child-free experience for us. It's too spicy for all three kids, and too dangerous for Abby, so we usually only come here when it's just the two of us. For me, that's plenty (although if there was a new eyecandy Marvel Superheroes movie out, I wouldn't object. Again, I digress.)

So there was that, and then today I got a check and a card from his +Laston Kirkland's parents, which I shall use to buy clothes (the check, not the card). Saturday we plan to do the Girls Birthday Meal Out for Leanna's birthday (she and my Mom, who organizes such things, have not had coordinating schedules for weeks). And then Sunday we have my Birthday Meal (we don't usually do Girls Only for me; we usually all go over to my mom's and she makes my favorite foods).

Monday is my actual birthday (oh, gotta buy that can of Nalley's Original Chili for Sunday), and that should pretty much cap it off.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm Not a Fan...

...of temporary jobs. I decided this today, because while intellectually I realize that temp-to-maybe-perm jobs can end at any time (any job can in this state, actually, unless it's union), I thought it would be at least a few weeks.

Two days weren't exactly what I had in mind. Two half-days at that.

Don't get me wrong; I'm okay with contract positions, even short ones, though I'd prefer some permanence. But I wasn't expecting two mornings total.

I gather that they didn't actually need two new people after all; one was sufficient.

There are more things in my personal pipeline.

Silver Lining: I have more time to pack up for our move (assuming we can afford to move). I have more time for school work (400-level classes are intense). I'll probably have my birthday off work (it's next Monday).

Speaking of which, I'm getting too old for this.

So here I am, republishing my skills and wish list from a post a ways back:

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) - $12/hour (or the equivalent in salary) for full time work in the northeast end of the greater Seattle area (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.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Days Like These

I'm having quite a lot of trouble concentrating on this paper due tomorrow.

Or the laundry, packing of lunches, laying out of clothes... all those things that must be done before tomorrow morning.

I mean, the Hubs did the dishes and bought some groceries. Abby is capable of packing her own lunch, both Abby and Lizzy can do some of the laundry (and have already gathered up all the dirty stuff from their room, as well as some packing for our move in a couple months). I'm not in this alone.

But I'm really having trouble concentrating on this paper, in spite of it being a topic I'm interested in - Sex and Violence in the Media. The minute another person - in this case Abby - shows up, Lizzy becomes a nutjob, out to get attention in any way possible. Usually this manifests in very in-your-face behavior, at the moment insisting that I write numbers for her and do her homemade dot-to-dot. (The occasional guffaw from behind Laston's desk (as he takes a break from his own studying for his new job, which starts on the 30th) doesn't help a lot either, and it looks like everyone's ADD is in full force today, not just mine.) I'd send the kids outside but it's raining, harder than I think they should play in when everyone is getting over a cold.

And I'm not sure it would help anyway.

Because most of the problem with this (I suspect) is that I'm a little nervous about the job I start tomorrow. In part because I didn't get the paperwork I was supposed to on Friday - it's a little confusing when your staffing agency is all the way across the country, because I can't get hold of them on a Friday after about 2pm.

And now that I've written all the frustrations out here in my blog, I'm feeling moth less frustrated and much better able to concentrate.

That's the blog's function, after all.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Autumn Harvest

Sort of. Maybe next year for the real deal, since then we'll have been in a home with a yard for a while.

This year it has more to do with the cooking than the actual harvesting. And with my tendency to feel more secure in general when I have a full pantry / fruit bowl / refrigerator / freezer.

Leanna is learning to cook - she is taking a class with her mom  - and some days when she's here, she has been known to cook for us. She's getting pretty good, especially with things requiring saucepans and the like, and in fact she and her mom had invited the Hubs over for dinner but as they are feeling under the weather today that's not happening. Which is too bad for him because Leanna - as I said - is getting to be a pretty good cook. She is also the most adventuresome of the three when it comes to things like our salad bar or baked potato bar days. You'd think it would be Lizzy, but no, Leanna makes a mean salad. Yum.

However, because I start a new job on Monday, and it's fall, I have plenty of food in the house, so it's not like anyone's going to starve. I've already steamed a whole small salmon (only $2.50 a pound at Albertson's!) and there is spaghetti sauce with meatballs in the crock pot, and tomorrow I plan to make banana bread and boil eggs. But I digress; this is about the kids and cooking.

So Leanna is currently in cooking class once a week. Abby took a cooking class too, over the summer, but her specialty is presentation of cannily-cut fruits and vegetables. And scrambled eggs; Lizzy likes hers best. There have been a couple of amusing issues with this however, such as her not realizing that the sliced avocado she put on my roast beef sandwich should actually be peeled, and yesterday's misunderstanding at her dad's house; she hadn't quite grokked that when she asked if she should "put the foil on top," that he meant on top of the cookie sheet, not on top of the potatoes themselves. Not very crisp that way.

Lizzy's not up to cooking itself yet (mostly because of heat and sharp objects; she's a wiggler), but she is past master at things like rinsing vegetables and organizing cabinets. Today she and I went through what we still call the Tupperware cupboard, although only one or two things in there are actually Tupperware branded, and sorted and stacked and washed and tossed containers as appropriate. Fun times.

And there's still homework, and packing to move, and neverending laundry.

Not quite as fun.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Thoughts - September 2013 Edition

Edited to add other exciting news about +Laston Kirkland!
  • This blog is usually G-rated, occasionally PG. Every once in a blue moon PG-13 (*cough*nitrousoxide*cough*). Regardless of topic, from terrorism to gay adoption, I have never gone so far as rating it R (because I bleep things like the adjective I use to describe the word "Algebra"). 
    • Every so often, however, the obstructionist nature of certain branches of my federal government makes me want to scream pejoratives in their direction.
    • Because how F&*%ing stupid do they think we are?
  • I start my new job on Monday!
  • The Hubs starts his new job on the 30th - my 45th birthday (see below).
  • Abby's girl scout troop made toys and beds for a local animal shelter last night. Abby takes an unholy sort of glee in shredding paper for gerbil cages.
  • Holy cow; I'll be 45 in less than two weeks.
    • And moving in two to three months.
  • Lizzy is sometimes scary smart, sometimes adorable, and sometimes just plain weird. I wrote this answer for a question regarding media effects on children in my "Media and Society Class" yesterday: 
"I think that the biggest thing isn't the medium involved, but parental involvement. Example: My little one watches preschool shows on her own (as I type she is arguing with Dora the Explorer, that yeah, Map is the best person to ask, but really, Dora could ask her Papi where the barbershop is too), and ones for older kids with her sisters or parents. She plays preschool games on the computer or my phone under loose supervision, with an adult available to answer questions ("Mommy, is this twelve or twenty-one?") She plays games for older children or adults with tighter supervision (Minecraft with Abby or Daddy helping, or Dreamhouse Designer on my Facebook account sitting in my lap and animatedly discussing neutral color palettes.) I just got a, "Mommy, Dora says they need to take the right path. Does she mean the one like the way-to-go-right, or the not-wrong-right? And does it start with R or W?"
  • That's what I've got today. Random! 

Friday, September 13, 2013


I am jobful!

Or I will be once I pass the background check and drug test.

These are not a problem; I am a fairly open book. What you see on this rated-PG blog is what you get. As long as they're okay with ibuprofen and Benadryl we're good, because the only bad thing in my background is my credit... and they don't care about that because this is not a financial job.

It's a customer service job.

And one that involves helping people take care of other people; it's a medical supply company. I like that. It makes me feel like I'm doing something useful, helping people get their oxygen tanks and walkers in a timely manner.

It was amusing the way it worked out though; I went in for an interview this morning and the office manager was under the impression that her corporate office was sending her a temp-to-perm employee from the staffing agency ready to go today, and she wasn't sure she was ready. I explained I was there for an interview but I'd love to be her temp-to-perm employee, she asked me a few questions and we hit it off right away; she wanted me to start Monday. Which I would happily do if I could pass the checks before then.

But I can't; I just finished the paperwork and submitted it; I imagine I'll get the list of drug testing facilities here locally they want me to use, and the next day we'll be good to go.

In the meantime, I'm working on my Society and Media class, doing laundry, and helping get things ready to move in a couple months. Leanna is here this weekend and she and Abby are making mac-n-cheese and fruit salad as I type. We've got a birthday party to attend on Sunday (Lizzy's BFF Natalie, of birthday party and county fair and mother-with-the-lovely-baked-goods fame), and a gift to shop for. Some cooking and cleaning to do. And little time to mindlessly munch on junk food.

I love being busy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Today I have:

  1. Gotten kids off to various places for the day.
  2. Done a load of dishes and one of laundry.
  3. Applied for a metric ton of jobs, arranged for two job interviews and canceled another (because it conflicted with one much closer to home).
  4. Took an assessment test for a tech support position.
  5. Done homework due today, started a conversation with my learning team at school, and answered Daily Questions.
  6. Supervised Abby's homework.
  7. Begun dismantling the bunk bed.
  8. Retrieved Lizzy's new-used DS (bought with the money sent her by her paternal grandparents) and set her up on it, playing Pinkie Pie's Party. She's a mite confused because it appears to be set before Friendship is Magic and therefore not all the ponies are ones she knows.
  9. On that note, sent an email to Hasbro on her behalf, asking if there will ever be Seahorsesponies.
  10. Got my nails done and got three new tops courtesy of my mom (because she loves me and because my birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks).
I also have been fretting since early this week (but chose not to post about it yesterday) because I keep getting call backs on sales jobs. Now, I am not a particularly good salesman, I know it, and I am content in that. But when sales jobs are mislabeled as customer service jobs, I go in for an interview and end up wasting everyone's time. Retail and customer service (online or otherwise) of the sort where a customer comes to me saying, "Hey, I have x problem," and I can provide them with y solution? That's the sort of sales at which I excel.

Anything more aggressive is notsomuch my thing. I didn't sell a single bloody policy when I worked as an independent agent for The Duck, and I lasted a whole day in collections as we all know. I'm just not that assertive a person on most topics. I want a job in customer service, admin, or writing/editing. And those employers who cross-post their listings just to catch anyone who might possibly have once talked to a customer are doing me - and themselves - a disservice. It seems wasteful to me to say you want customer service skills when the job is really for sales (or collections). Then you end up interviewing a bunch of people who don't match your needs, and there is frustration all around.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The plan today was to write a long and rambling post about the frustrations involved in job hunting, while simultaneously trying not to sound like a desperately needy whiner.

And then I remembered the date.

You see, job hunting is kind of timeless; one remembers the day of the week but not necessarily the date. So to me - until I listened to the radio on my way back from taking Lizberry to my mom's - today is Wednesday, the first early release day in our kids' school district, and Abby's first girl scout meeting of the year. That is is also the anniversary of a horrific attack on American soil hadn't really occurred to me.

And that's when I decided that I will leave the plea to prospective employers post until tomorrow, because this is more important. So I intend to spend the day looking for a job, doing my homework, and domestically being all mom-and-apple-pie (well, mom-and-salad-bar), and then taking my eldest to make friendship bracelets at Girl Scouts. Nice, all-American activities that are more suited to the day than whining about unemployment is.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello, Kitty!

And Pony.

And Humaniform Pony. Yeah, she was pretty much a testament to marketing aimed at young kids this weekend. At one point she was wearing a Scooby-Doo T-shirt and Minnie Mouse socks, with a Hello Kitty bow in her hair. For the party itself at least we stuck to Kitty attire, though many of the gifts were other licenses.

We've done Lizzy's birthday at the park before - that's the advantage of a summer birthday - but this time it was at a much better park for our purposes, because there are a lot of trees and therefore shade.

We played pin-the-bow-on-the-kitty, and ate Hello Kitty themed cupcakes made by the Happy Little Cake Company (aka my friend Carrie, aka Lizzy's BFF Natalie's mom). We had kids ranging from two-and-a-half (Natalie's little sister) to ten-and-a-half (Abby). Speaking of whom, she and her friend did face painting for all the kids who wanted to have it done. We played on the playground.

Lizzy got to have most of her favorite friends, including a couple from preschool, and of course she made out like a bandit. When she went to bed last night, she was replete with cupcakes and a new DVD, toys and a new water bottle from the Hello Kitty lunch kit her aunt and uncle and cousin got her. And more than a little tired and excited and spoon-droppy.

And that was before we discovered that their bed is broken. Slats have broken before; this is no big deal. But when a side support for Abby's top bunk mattress goes kablooey, it's not safe. So they both slept on the floor. We're moving in a couple months, so for now we will remove the top bunk and the three girls will just have to share the lower bunk and the trundle for a few weeks until we can move and get them new furniture. It should have lasted longer than that.

The point being that at the moment we can't find a couple of the gifts, presumably because all the birthday stuff and all the bedding is on the floor in the girls' room. Sigh. We'll get it done. But it adds another layer of stuff, both literally and figuratively, to Life.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Today I Learned...

...Lizzy's favorite punctuation mark is the "explanation mark because it's kinda like crazy." I am unsurprised by this, both the favorite mark and the mispronunciation of it; this is the child who - even with her huge vocabulary - she still says "restauronk" and "conculator".

...The people who want to hire me are the same people at whose job I suck large. Trust me; I've tried selling insurance and I'm really really bad at it. Customer service or claims, I'm your gal, but sales of same? Notsomuch. So much notsomuch.

...Tad of LeapFrog fame (in the cartoon) looks remarkably like the Honey Smacks Frog (at least from a few years ago; the current Dig 'Em looks rather older than Tad Pole and Lily Pad). This one was pointed out by +Laston Kirkland.

...I only get enough sleep on weekends, even when not working, because I stay up too late reading and watching old favorites on TV. I'm not yet as far as re-reading this series though, so although stressed from joblessness and so forth, I'm pretty much okay. And the Hubs kept Lizzy out of my hair so I could sleep in, for which he is commended.

...WebMD now covers non-humans (at least cats and dogs). And there is another site - PetMD - with even more complete information. Using their symptom checker regarding Tiger, I'd say she's just old, hot, and cranky. Moving more stiffly than usual, hair loss (summertime shedding) and therefore hairballs in spite of her special food, sleeping a lot even for her. She is over fifteen, and while most cats in my life have lived a lot longer, Tiger has always been a little delicate.

...Summertime colds are teh suck.

...After reading the first two Oz books to Lizzy (Abby and I read them together when Lizzy was a baby) we can now make the "Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my," chant out of anything. My personal favorite of late is "Broccoli and Bacon and Cheese," used for Potato Bar Dinner Day.

...Some of the best jobs on the boards can be found on the weekends. Now if they'd just call me back we'd be in great shape!

Friday, September 6, 2013

And There's The Difference

Between our girls.

They're bright little things, and Lizzy's a good reader for her age, where Abby is good with math (she must've gotten it from her dad). Lizzy's pretty good with math too, but I think that has more to do with 'playing school' with her big sisters; she's already been drilled in her times tables up to threes for instance.

They're list makers, too. Abby prefers grids, and finds a lot of satisfaction in simple spreadsheets or bulleted list, where Lizzy wants to write it down in words. Again, literacy versus mathematics.

But Lizzy grew up with more tech than Abby or Leanna did, and big sisters to boot, and she is in some ways much more self-sufficient. Leanna is the nature girl, Abby is the socially adept girl, and Lizzy is the practical girl. So when she sets out to make a list of TV she wants to watch this weekend, and she asks an adult to help her spell, and the adult says, "sound it out," she goes one better.

She asks for the TV remote so she can use the Netflix and Amazon Prime queues to learn how to spell the names of the shows. She did the same last spring when she wanted to make a poster like the big girl scouts, and needed to spell Samoas; she dug out the box.

As for the other two, Leanna gets more nature loving by the day; whenever she's here and the girls play a game together they're migrating wolves, or birds building a nest, or flower fairies or something. Abby is so adept with the younger kids - and Google knows that with Lizzy she's had practice - that she has been put in charge of walking morning kindergartners from the bus to the gym where they all meet.

There are our girls, nutshelled.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Now We Are Six

Hello Kitty!
Lizzy and Mrs. M
 Yeah, yeah, not my favorite either, but you kind of have to use it.

Six years ago today, I had Lizzy (surgically, because Abby's birth was both difficult and emergency surgery, and why go through that again when the same outcome is likely?). There was a spike in the local birth rate then (Lizzy was not the only child born nine months after that loooooong power outage in December of 2006) and our kindergarten population shows it. But Mrs. M, her kindergarten teacher, used Lizzy's birthday (as good teachers do) as a object lesson. "This is how we do the birthday routine here in our Dazzling Dolphin afternoon kindergarten class," she says, and leads twenty lisping five- and six-year-olds in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday (shut up, they aren't performing it for anyone). She also gave Lil' Liz a birthday sticker, a couple of cards (one from her and one from the principal), a couple of pencils ditto, and a handmade birthday crown in pink and blue.

It just doesn't get better than that when you're six.

And a sleeping bag!
Twilight Sparkle and
Rainbow Dash?
And then Grandma took us out for the Girls Only Birthday Dinner (at Red Robin, natch; it's Lizzy's favorite) with Auntie and little four-year-old cousin, where Lizzy got some of the things her little heart desired (and a free sundae and a song with lots of clapping), and we came home to Daddy's gift (she'll get gifts from me at her party on Sunday). Daddy got her a set of four enormous floor puzzles, with a Jake and the Neverland Pirates theme.

Again, it just doesn't get better than that.

And yet it does, because Herself is having a party (nothing fancy, cupcakes and pin-the-bow-on-the-Hello-Kitty and park play and face painting) on Sunday afternoon. A couple of kids from the neighborhood, a couple from her preschool (she doesn't really know her classmates yet), her bestie Natalie and her baby sister, some family. Should be fun.

Here's hoping the weather improves after the rumored thunderstorms and flooding tomorrow and Friday.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Of Dolphins and Invitations

Fifth Grade!
Ah, back to school...

Busy afternoon. Abby off to first day of fifth grade in the morning, and Lizzy in the afternoon, then me off to a job interview, then to the bus stop to wait on their bus. And wait and wait and...

...the first day of school is hard on the transportation department. The bus was about a half hour later than they claimed it would be, and about twenty minutes later than I actually expected it. You see, Lizzy is not the only child beginning kindergarten today; there are so many kindergartners in our school this year that the bigger kids overflowed into the five portables... and five new ones as well. All those little ones in new situations, overwhelmed with information and new experiences, all that makes for a very slow transportation day.

And all Lizzy noticed about the bus is that there are no seatbelts. She was very impressed. But of course she was in Pre-K for two years, so it's not like she doesn't have experience in school; the bus is a whole different thing.

She really likes her teacher though, and so far I do too. Kindergarten teachers are a special breed. And Lizzy's looks like a good one. For instance, she has already worked out how to deal with Lizzy's birthday tomorrow, explained that there are no known allergens in her class this year (always a concern for me) and somehow managed not only a little treasure hunt for the kids today (their class mascot, a plush toy called Dazzle the Dolphin, went missing, and in their quest to find him they took a school tour, only to find him in their classroom, where he had apparently been procuring goldfish crackers for a snack), but also wrote up a newsletter and a separate postcard for each child about their first day (I compared Lizzy's to another child's, so I know they're not boilerplate, though they may have been mostly pre-written. But still).

Abby's teacher, as indicated previously, is a Shel Silverstein fan (and besides, her name is Liz, which my Miz Liz finds to be almost as impressive as beltless school buses). We like her.

No homework tonight, except that there is a "My first day" paper for Abby and a "what I did this summer" poster for Lizzy, both due Monday.

As for my school, my class is done, and I know I passed. I got a high score on my individual paper, so all that's left is the team assignment. That week break between classes was seriously helpful.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Break From Homework

'Lil Lizzy can't win for losing. We want her to help her sisters clean their shared room, but a) she drags her feet and b) they don't want her in there; they want to play Big Kid Games while they clean, and they kick her out. Not a problem with just Abby and Lizzy, or just Leanna and Lizzy, but all three of them (all three of any kids where Lizzy is involved actually; it happens when Abby has friends over, although it's less directly kicking her out of her own room) gets very two against one, with Lizzy odd kid out because of the age difference

And the chore list (which she does generally follow, albeit with whining) kind of went by the wayside while the kids were out of town in mid-August. That'll start up again tomorrow; not fair to Leanna to make her clean up stuff that happened when she wasn't even here. Even if she and Abby both complain that Lizzy never has to do anything, but then set her up to fail. They can't help it; they're adolescent and pre-adolescent, respectively. Anyway, when we move in November or December, Lizzy'll have her own room and it'll cease to be a problem.

But today it required a little judicious tweaking, to preserve the dignity of two older kids (13 and nearly 11 respectively) who are underslept and resisting basics like showering and tidying their room, while still requiring Lizzy to do some cleaning in the room where her sisters don't want her to be. I had her crawl under the bed and clean underneath it (that way when Leanna goes back to her mom's tomorrow morning it'll be just a matter of her shoving the trundle in; when she leaves in morning-time things tend not to get cleaned up unless we do it the day before). So I had Lizzy get all the stuffed toys and books out of there, so she did a job, then dragged her out here to play old SNES games (apparently Mystic Quest is too much reading as of yet (and I can't read it to her while doing homework) but she's enjoying Super Mario World though she's not very good at it yet). 

So the big girls finally come out after tidying their room and Lizzy is only too happy to let them have the controller, because they're far better at this kind of game than she is, and I'm relieved because it gets her out of my hair while I do my homework (a lot less, "Mommy, can you do this level for me?" And I can; I used to sell these things and demonstrate them for a living after all). The hubs tries, really hard, but the kids want me to do this stuff, not Daddy. Especially Liz.

Now, thank goodness, back to homework.