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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Pork (redux)

...but not like an earlier year's pork.

At least not entirely, although the foodie bits are still literal pork. Bacon and eggs for breakfast and pork chops (with bacon-laced fried potatoes and green beans) for dinner. The ham is in the fridge for the Hoppin' John.

But while Congress is still being twerpy, at least my family is pulling itself out of its hole without their reluctant help this time; both adults are gainfully employed, for instance. At the same time.

Lizzy received - among other things - a 2015 calendar for Christmas. This is not unusual in our family, but this year she is obsessed with it. I am kept busy texting everyone in our family whose birthday I don't know, so she can put them down. This is a very deliberate and personalized thing for her; as an example she has a skull with a bow for her Perky Goth sister Abby.

In an hour or so, we're going to start doing a spot of tidying and a lot of laundry, as well as playing with some of the girls' Christmas gifts (Lizzy is dying to do these with Abby and me).

And after dinner we're going for a Game Night with friends.

I love days like this.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Gamers' Babes Christmas

This was a weird one, for some reason.

It may be that both Laston and I worked yesterday, so we got to Christmas Eve dinner late.

Or that I have to work tomorrow.

Or that the older two were with their respective other parents early this morning (although that happens every other year anyway).

Or that I don't have to study (although the University of Phoenix always takes a couple of weeks off this time of year anyway).

Or even that we still have not had Abby's birthday party, because she had a high fever that day.

Most likely it is a combination of these things.

But I am finding myself unaccountably stymied by things like assembly instructions written in Japanese (I think). It's not like they don't also have pictures, or that I can usually handle things like that (bad language during assembly notwithstanding); I'm still flustered by same.

One of Lizzy's toys was missing pieces (thank Google, because I really did not feel like supervising the Marker Maker with Wacky Tips process today).

In fact, I think  that right there is the issue; I don't want to Make Markers today, or Design Ribbon Barrettes or Build Bookshelves for that matter. Not today.

But I have Sunday and Monday off, and that just seems like a better time for this stuff to me.

And in the meantime, we got lots of great gifts and giggles in the process. Laston and I got new winter coats, and the girls got stuff they love, and in general, We Did Good.

It just feels weird today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Extroverts Need Alone Time Too

I tend to get mine late at night, after everyone else goes to bed.

But what the introverts in my life don't seem to grok is that I need it.

Just as much as they do, but not quite as often.

And I can't really do the things that need to get done after everyone goes to bed, and the introverts in my family are getting their Alone Time either early in the morning or via headphones and zoning out once I'm home from work.

Today, for example, the Hubs had the kids from when they got home from Grandma's (and oh, are their new haircuts cute, with Abby's little asymmetrical bob and Lizzy's pixie cut! See below) until I got home from work. Then Abby did her homework while Lizzy and I folded laundry (Lizzy is a sockmaster) and Laston got caught up on his computer stuff.

Now, having actually finished school (no grades yet; give it a few more days), one would expect me to have more time, for family, and Things That Must Be Done, and Alone Time.

But that does not take into account things like, oh, December (birthday, holidays, blah blah blah). Or Abby's little habit of leaving homework until the last minute (Sorry, kiddo - if you had done it over the course of the whole week as suggested, you wouldn't have so much tonight. Best you learn that lesson now instead of getting all the way to eighth grade and having no idea how to manage your time. Hence no Once tonight).

But I will have my Alone Time tonight, if I have to bite and scratch to get it.

Or put up with a tearful tween moaning how unfair I am, which is far more likely. Mean Mommy.

And that's after I order groceries for Abby's birthday party, email my favorite baker with the head count (and ask her what I owe her), having already done the dishes (usually Abby's job, but she was mired deep in words that are spelled the same but sound different and mean different things, with Laston helping her only as needed... as should be the case).

So instead of our nightly hour of TV, Abby will be helping me order snacks for her party. And she will like it. Or she will at least shut up about it. And now I need to find another time to clean out under the couch and ferry Christmas decorations in and etc.

I suppose we could do the Christmas decorating after the party, like Sunday...

Who said I'd have more time after school was out again?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Achievement Unlocked

I am a Bachelor of Science.

Sort of.

I mean, I have in fact completed and submitted my final assignments, eleven hours before the deadline, although I won't have my final grade for a week or so. I know I passed, unless I so completely misinterpreted the last two assignments to the point where I get no points at all, and I don't think that is the case.

It's possible that I may be a bit in shock, actually, lightheaded from that load that just dropped off my shoulders.

For those of you who don't think it's a "real" degree because it's online and anyone can get in - you know who you are - do the research. (Sure, it has had some questions, because it's a subsidiary of a corporate entity, instead of getting by with money from, say, football. But it is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission).

Better yet, try taking these classes from home, while looking for or working a full time job, doing the bulk of keeping a household running, and parenting kids.

I dare you.

There should be a smiley face up there, but honestly, I'm too tired to figure out how to put one in. It's been a long haul, folks, but I am - at last, and F^&*ing Algebra notwithstanding - a soon-to-be recipient of a hard-earned diploma in Intercultural Communication.

I think I'll go do something just for me, something that does not involve me discussing the cognitive dissonance experienced by witnesses to school shootings, or which logical fallacy applies to a given situation.

Catch you on the other side of my manicure!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

...nor even Sunday afternoon stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

At least something good comes of the commercialization of the holidays.

I was seriously annoyed that a package I ordered for Saturday delivery did not get delivered Saturday. Even more so when the tracking website suggested it was because we weren't home.

Someone was. 

All day.

And definitely at the time of purported delivery attempt; both adults were in the house at that point. 

And Laston's desk - where he spends most of his non-work, non-sleep, non-housecleaning time - is right in front of the window by the front door. No blinds or curtains on that window. and he's right there.


In any case, I was annoyed, because I wanted the curtains for the kids' rooms and the next four books in Lizzy's Magic Treehouse series, and I wanted them when I asked for them, thank you very much.

So when they showed up midafternoon on Sunday, well... it was a pleasant surprise. 

Thanks, US Postal Service. Swift completion of your completed rounds accomplished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A More Professional Blog Post

I am, as you may have realized, now officially a blogger for Groupon, although there was so much news in that particular post that I'm sure that little tidbit was missed by many..

This is a big deal for me, and although my first post does not yet have the pictures in it - the software they use for that is not currently behaving, as software is wont to do - it is in fact posted.

I hope the restaurant in question likes the post!

Top Seven Kid-Friendly Sushi Dishes Around Seattle

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Things that Affect Us

And yes, I am talking about Ferguson, MO, among other things.

Last week Lizzy was VIP in her classroom, which is the same thing as Child of the Week was in preschool. She made a poster about herself - and when did she get big enough to do it alone while I was in the shower? - and brought in some of her Favorite Things to share with the class.

I was her Favorite Thing for Friday (isn't that nice?), and I was 'shared' in the morning.

In the morning because in the afternoon, when they had been doing VIP Time, they had a lockdown drill. I see the necessity, and they are very sensitive about such things - they told Lizzy's group of first graders that it was "in case of a bad guy or a wild animal on school grounds" - but I really don't like that it has to be done.

Around here it's always been fire drills and earthquake drills, which only makes sense. Since the school shooting last month  a couple of districts north of ours, it also makes sense that they do lockdown drills. But I don't have to like it.

Just as I don't have to like other things I see in the news, whether they affect me and mine directly or not.

Now, as many of you know, the Hubs has had a book of short stories published, and one of those stories - Watch This - is the one I was reading on my break when the news from Ferguson was released... that the officer who shot Michael Brown was not going to be indicted.

There are eerie parallels between Laston's story and this news from Missouri, and while I don't know what particular events Laston was alluding to in his story (if any), I still got chills. And although I don't approve of committing or inciting violence to get your point across - either across the nation in real life or across a stadium in the story - I can certainly understand it. I understood the urge to commit violence in 1992 as well.

I did not act on that urge.

Peaceful protests I'm all for, and I applaud anyone who is protesting peacefully, but rioting and looting seems counterproductive. I can't say how I would feel if it was closer to home for me, but knowing myself fairly well I think - I like to think - that I would do what I am doing now... writing about it, signing petitions against these sorts of miscarriages of justice (yes, I said it, I think not even indicting the police officer is wrong), boosting the signal.

I feel like it's all I can do and remain true to myself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Beginning of the End

Of my school career, that is.

I feel a little shocky about the whole thing really; today is the first day of my last class - the Communications Capstone course.

Five weeks and I will have a Bachelor of Science in Intercultural Communication.

I think part of the reason I feel so taken aback by this is that I was focused on other things, like Laston's book release, and getting my head together so I could pass the last class (which I did, thank you very much, albeit with a lower grade than in any other class but F*&^ing Algebra), and Lizzy's oral surgery, and just the day-to-day.

So I was focused on those things, and even though my mom kept saying that she didn't care that the graduation ceremony isn't until next spring - they do it once a year up here in the PNW - something has to be done about it when it happens in mid-December, it didn't register as real because of other things crowding my brain.

So, the good things that have happened here recently that might help us out on the financial front too... like maybe we can pay all our bills and still get the kids good stuff for the holidays..

Laston has a new job, that he starts Monday. He'll be at AT&T too, just as I am, but in a contractor capacity, and therefore making more cash (and my employee benefits for us both).

As stated before, his book is out.

I am blogging for Groupon (and my first post should be out soon); although this does not get me cash money, it gets me lots of exposure and possibly discounts.

And last but not least, I am in fact this|close to graduating with a good solid B as a Bachelor of Science.

I still feel a little shocky about it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's out!

Sort of. I mean, it's listed on Amazon, but there's not a lot else about it up yet (the Kindle version is not listed, for example), and although the price seems high, there's only one copy listed. So I think that link may be a bit of a placeholder.

But it IS linkable, so there.

And it will be out SOON.

That is all. And it's enough for me for now. I am SO EXCITED.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Stupid Hat, Almost Four Years On

I have been called a hypochondriac in my life before (hi, Mom!), although my doctor says it's not that I imagine I have these things; it's just that I'm hyper-aware and so every little twinge is call for alarm.

Except when it's not.

And I seem to wear that Stupid Hat when I stop listening and being hyper-aware of said body.

Which is why - when I ran out of my normal medications for hypothyroid (and the antidepressant I have to treat ADD / double up on in the winter) - I just kind of blew it off. And my usual management technique for keeping my head on straight (making lists of things I need to do) got, well, forgotten because I didn't have that other medication, the one for ADD.

Hence the Stupid Hat.

Where I stuck that hat very firmly on my head was that I know that hypothyroid, untreated, leads to fatigue and weight gain and irritability, but I ignored said symptoms and just wrote them off.

Until I found myself shouting at Lizzy for having the temerity to need help putting on her tights.


So I went into the doctor, which is more complicated than it sounds due to temporary insurance and many other factors, and had a basic checkup.

Given my weight (considerable) I'm pretty healthy. Aside from my thyroid being all out of whack of course, because I haven't been taking those meds for a few weeks.

My iron is a little low - not unusual, as the Puget Sound Blood Center knows to its chagrin - and my bad cholesterol, while not over-the-limits high, is high enough that they would rather I not get my iron through, say, red meat.

I'm pretty lucky for someone wearing the Stupid Hat.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Five-o-Something, and All's Well

Miz Liz's surgery went well. And all of you who sent prayers, good thoughts, woowoo, whatever, thank you very much.

We got there at 11:30, as ordered, And Lizzy was remarkably well-behaved (just some whining), given that all she'd had since the night before was four ounces of apple juice. She did spend some time under the table in the waiting room, partly I suspect out of nervousness and partly out of Poor Waiting Patiently Skills.

Yesterday she asked Grandma to help make her a bird costume, she says because she wanted her beach ball to be an egg. It would not surprise me in the slightest if subconsciously she just wanted to be a creature without teeth though.

But she got through it, and the fact that the nurse listened happily to the entire Doc McStuffins theme song (Doc is a toy doctor, so we've been using her shamelessly as an example of how not-scary going to the doctor can be), and assured her that if she wanted to, Lizzy was welcome to sing the other theme song from the show while they used the "sleepy medicine", to see how far she got, and they gave her loveys besides to help her through the scary bits. This sort of treatment prompted the following gem: "Two stuffed animals and a popsicle after? This is like the best. Doctor. Appointment. EVER."

She never did make it to singing the song, however. The anesthesia nurse tells me that she was too excited by the machinery in the operating room ("it looked like two alien flying saucers on the inside, mom!") and got distracted from singing by that. She is her father's daughter in many ways. So they started her counting to ten (just a little struggle over putting the mask on her face, I'm told) and she made it to three before she conked out. They did the procedure(s) and as long as they were in there and she was out, got some more stuff done too.

Two removed teeth, three silver (surgical steel, but they look like silver) crowns because most of her baby teeth are too small for fillings that stay, sealant on permanent teeth. That doesn't even count the x-rays and stuff they took while they had her there and actually still.

So she's done, and home, and it's all good except for a mild sore throat, a tendency toward redness where there was medical tape (she has sensitive skin) and a slightly glassy look around the eyes. She is on soft foods for a week or so, and at the moment she is pretty much reveling in the prospect of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls and unlimited Otter Pops for the evening.

Now I need to finish my paper for school, make lunches for tomorrow and dinner for tonight, and hold it together until the kids are in bed. I'm good in a pinch but tend to melt down afterwards. Although the writing it out seems to help too, as will the chocolate I'll get if +Laston Kirkland got my message.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ella and Bella...

...and Lizzy makes three.
Lizzy and Abby a
couple weeks ago

No, this is not some bizarre love triangle, first grade style. This is the end result of Lizzy's pulpotomy, nearly a year and a half ago.

So the dentist tells me that the pulpotomy - essentially a baby root canal - is a band-aid measure, meant to stop infection from spreading until the baby tooth can come out.

And now it has become abscessed and they have to take it out, under general anesthesia because of her age and squirm factor and not-hurting-the-kid factor.

Lizzy at her 7th birthday dinner, six weeks ago
She has lost two teeth (and grown an inch taller) since then.
At least her most current x-rays show that the adult tooth is getting itself ready, so we won't have to put spacers in. She always has been early on the teeth (as I remember with pain, because I breast-fed her for 14 months).

She's more than a little anxious (and I taught her the word anxious, so hey, there's that) and asked me if I could please, please ask the nurse if she may being two comfort dollies, because Ella and Bella are twins, and they will be so lonely if she is only allowed to bring one of them! She is nearly as old as her sisters when it comes to the italic abuse in her speech.

I think this might be a tooth worth two dollar coins from Dentitia the Tooth Fairy. Don't you?

So she is going in Monday morning at 11:30 Pacific (it is Saturday night as I write this). I have managed to get the day off, and whether I take Abby to Girl Scouts after school or Grandma does depends on the timing and how much Lizzy wants Mom.

Anyway, I am asking now, if anyone is the sort to pray, send good thoughts, light candles, chant mantras, whatever, please... be my guest.

Friday, October 10, 2014


I remember when Abby was about four, and she asked if Ariel and Hercules were cousins, "because their dads look like brothers".

Of course she was right, because not only were they most likely drawn by the same artists, but Triton is clearly an expy of Poseidon, so... yeah.

And yeah, the story of Hercules has been Disneyfied out of all recognition, but I find that I don't really mind that with myths as much as I do with Pocahontas history.

We were initially going to watch The Princess and the Frog, because Lizzy and I are currently reading Magic Treehouse: A Good Night for Ghosts, wherein Jack and Annie help Louis Armstrong share his (musical) gifts with the world. 

So we were in a Jazz Age kind of mood. 

Couldn't find our copy though, so we went on Netflix (for which I daily thank Google, because we can't afford to buy dvds all the time, or buy movies from Comcast or Amazon Prime) to see if it was available. 

It's not, at least not right now.

So in a Mommy Moment, I had a tiny parental tantrum; I am not going to watch any of the shows we've seen a bajillion times, and recently at that. I gave them a choice for our Movie Night:
  • Hercules
  • Atlantis
  • Treasure Planet
  • Tarzan
We have seen all of these (though I don't think Lizzy has seen Treasure Planet) but it's been awhile.

(And I didn't realize until just now, but none of these are Princess Movies; they all have men as the heroes). We're watching Hercules, which inspired this post.

Then our own hero came home and Oh. My. Google.

We have the proof copy of his BOOK. Copy Me and Other Stories.

I've talked about his books before; these two are available on Kindle and the anthology of them is available in paperback too.

But this book - this book is available in paperback and it's only his,. Not anyone else's stories, just Laston's. That's a Big Deal.

It's not out yet. But it will be. And it will be glorious. I mean, listen to this jacket copy: "Laston Kirkland is a visionary writer; both creative and scathing..."

That's huge.

And while he writes lots of stuff, this particular book has my absolute favorite of his short stories; "Coming Out." It also has one that I can acknowledge as some of his best writing (although I don't care for the content), which is called "Third Time's the Charm."

Further than that I will not speak because when it comes out I want you to read it for yourself.

I'll let you know.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Days Off

Because I have been working a ton of overtime here lately, and when not working overtime I've been working on my schoolwork, I haven't had a lot of time to just Be Jenn.

But Tuesday was my birthday, and I had Thursday and Friday off, and I chose to kind of relax. And my family conspired to give me lots of fun. For a mom as busy as I am, relaxation and pampering are the best gifts ever.

Tuesday Laston and the girls did all the things that are my usual chores, like packing the school lunches and laying out school clothes (in addition to doing all the stuff like dishes that goes round robin anyway).

Thursday Laston and I both had off work so he held down the fort while I slept in, and then he took me to lunch. We did some grocery shopping (which doesn't sound like a treat, but IS, because it's not grocery shopping with children; they were at school). After school we all trooped over to my mom's house for my birthday dinner.

We all ate way too much of my personal favorites - mom's special flank steak, homemade rolls, green salad, grilled asparagus, fruit salad - and then little raspberry or lemon tarts. Gift cards and cash gifts led to today's treat, Friday's.

A full set of acrylic nails in a pretty mauve with flowers on two of them, a good haircut (and an ouchie but effective facial wax), and a massage. And then tonight is game night with out good friends.

All this means I can go to work tomorrow feeling rested and pretty and confident. And that makes work a lot easier. Even if it IS still the tail end of iPocalypse 2014.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On This, my 46th Birthday, I Learned...

Cards from Abby and Lizzy
...that lukewarm coffee, a pumpkin muffin, and strawberry yogurt with Nilla Wafers is the best breakfast ever.

...that I have more friends online and off than I ever quite realized. And that cannot be discounted.

...that sometimes the best birthday present is a few hours to oneself, even - or especially - when used to take a nap.

...that my teammates are appalled that they didn't know it was my birthday (except those who are my Facebook friends).

...that one of the best compliments one can get from a customer is, "You-all tell your boss that you done earned your keep today."

Earrings from Abby and Lizzy
...that when one wears earrings for the first time in a few months, no matter how lightweight, they hurt one's ears just a bit by end of day.

...that next time I won't take 45 minutes to figure out (with help) that the reason this gentleman's iPhone isn't working is because the customer is on the west coast and the server to fix his issue is on the east, so his phone won't work until midnight Pacific time (when it's officially October 1st).

...that coming home to the chores done is one of my favorite things.

...that the first "regular" day after two weeks of overtime days is practically a vacation.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Confessions of A Bad Seattleite

My stomach hurts and has been upset all night. I think it's the ridiculous amounts of coffee I've been drinking in order to stay awake during all that overtime for iPhone-ageddon. But coffee (like computers, airplanes, grunge, rain, and lumber) is a staple of Seattle culture. Is my inability to handle it a sign that I'm a bad Seattleite? I mean, I was born here and I've lived here all my life.

I'm also not a particularly big fan of the Seahawks, which is tantamount to treason in these parts the past year or so. Oh, I don't mind them; I'm just not a sports fan in general. But it's practically religion around here, and aside from the conversation opening that gives me for customers, I can't really bring myself to care much.

I am a fan, however, of the good folks at Apple Health, the Washington State version of the Affordable Care Act. I sure wish we had been signed up with them when we had the Great Moving Debacle of 2013. Because right now we're using the benefits to their fullest; Miz Liz has to have a tooth removed (it's the stainless steel-crowned one; it's abscessed). Because she is under eight years old, they need to pull it under general anesthesia. As long as they're in there, they will fill the other few fillings that we never got done last year. And the out-of-pocket cost is minimal thanks to Apple Health. (And I'll get the health insurance from my work as soon as I am eligible; I don't like to leech off the state any longer than I have to.)

Edit: I would just like to say here that I dithered over the word "leech," and I have had it pointed out to me that I am not leeching off the government; I'm not a... let's call it a habitual user of social services. I pay into the system and have for at least 28 years, and that's what it's there for; to help out when it's needed. But I don't like having to use those services; I prefer to be on the paying-in side than the taking-out side. Prideful? Maybe. But goodness knows I can't afford extensive dentistry without it, and so I'll take it. But it's not leeching.

It just occurred to me that the Momma-fretting about oral surgery on my baby may be a contributing factor to the Upset Stomach of Doom, along with lack of sleep, too much coffee, consistent stress about finances in spite of Apple Health, and general fatigue. And so we come full circle.

Ah well, only a few more days of iPhone-ageddon to go, maybe a week or two. I have Thursday and Friday off and while I will be working on my birthday next week, I am not working overtime that day. I'll pull out of this!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to School is Lots of Work

This post is a series of Random Thoughts surrounding school, work, and home.

  • Apple brings out the iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus) this week. This causes overtime at the wireless service carrier where I work. This is a Good Thing (because I can really use the money - more on that later) and a Bad Thing (because school just started... and more on that later too).
  • Lizzy's birthday party was a rousing success. Lots of kids, lots of fun. Leanna couldn't make it because she was sick, but I suspect she wouldn't have been all that entertained anyway, as Abby was the oldest child there and I was using Abby as a helper; she would not have had time for Leanna. Parties for little kids are boring for big kids as a rule.
  • Speaking of Abby helping, I applaud her organizational skills, though she was perhaps a little overenthusiastic about whisking gifts right out of Lizzy's hands so she could get onto the next one. At one point (she was trying to get the littler kids to line up) Laston told her there was a difference between organized and bossy, whereupon she gave him one of those withering adolescent looks, turned back to the little kids, and said, "All right, everyone who wants to, line up over there." All adults were hard pressed not to crack up.
  • Lizzy is still young enough to be indifferent as to gender among her friends (hence Stick-the-Glasses-on-the-Barbie even with boys at the party)... most of the time. There was quite a bit of dithering over which thank you cards to use for which child. Is it okay to use flowered ones for a family where there are two girls and one boy? What if they're all friendly, but the boy is the one who is really Lizzy's friend?
  • Oh my goodness, never try to nail a Bouncy McGee to a kitchen bar stool to write thank you notes. It was a much harder ordeal than it should have been. Rather like homework, for which she also cannot sit still unless Abby is doing hers beside her.
  • Which brings us back to school. Abby's sixth grade is still elementary school (at least until they finish building the new high school in our district; eventually there will be a middle school model). But in an effort to get them ready for junior high, they have a homeroom class and three other classes they rotate through. Abby's homeroom teacher is the language arts teacher, and given that her only big issue academically is spelling, I wonder if that was deliberate.
  • When I went to the school last Friday to drop off a forgotten binder (don't worry - we had a chat about personal responsibility and the need to keep track of one's own things) I chatted with the school nurse (with Abby's nut allergy, I find it behooves me to know the school nurse well... just in case). She said that usually there is a honeymoon period of a couple weeks at the beginning of the school year, where kids only get bumps from soccer balls and falls from playground equipment; they do not usually get sick. Not this year. This year they started showing colds and flus out of the gate.
  • Which is probably why I have a cold right now when I am scheduled for a ton of iPhone 6 overtime. La gripa, my neighbor calls it (as opposed to la influenza - she understands much more English than she speaks, and the inverse is true of my Spanish). But I promised to work the overtime, and I need the money badly, so I will muddle through. I have zinc and vitamin C at my desk, Nyquil at home, and I could float away from how many fluids I've been drinking. 
  • Because of the previous snafus (and a couple of new ones), I could really use a fairy godmother right about now. I know it, and I'm not too proud to admit it. But I don't want one (need is different from want, as every parent has told their child a time or two); I want to work for my money. But working for my money is so slow. And it doesn't help that somehow financial institutions - even credit unions - think that if you don't have the money to pay a particular bill, then an NSF fee will somehow miraculously appear. Um... no. 
  • On the other hand, I am working for my money, and I think I'm doing well at it; as any of you who know me probably understand, I'm not as technical as some of my compatriots, but the customers like me. So I'm slow but I give great customer service. And right now - the running joke is that ATT stands for At This Time - that's what they're looking for; those soft skills outweigh the tech skills in my particular job description.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

This Week I Learned...

...that Dollar Tree is the place to go for birthday party favors and decorations... except for party games. We'll find out Pin the X on the Y somewhere else.

...that Lizzy believes these are equivalent to these... at least a little bit. She says she blinked and nothing happened.

...that +Carrie Miller and +Jason Miller are lovely neighbors and friends... but I already knew that.

...that I'm not the only one using GoFundMe for basic life-rebuilding... a few friends are too. These are good folks, folks; give 'em a hand if you can. Or Sharon's Kickstarter if you can manage it.

...that iPhone 6 at AT&T is reminiscent of Windows 95 at CompUSA. At least this time I won't get literally shaken by a customer.

...that Abby loves to read... but hates to start reading.

...that Community Health takes our AppleHealth medical card... even for dental.

...that I'll actually complete my degree in just two more classes after this one. December 15 is the big day.

Just a bunch of stuff I've learned - or relearned - this week.

Oh, and my mom rocks. But I already knew that.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seven Years MARK!

Lizzy is seven (can you believe it?)

Or rather, as she says in her precise way, "I will be seven at 12:30."

It's true; I had a planned c-section (because Abby was an emergency section after 22 hours of unmedicated labor, and they gave me the option of a VBAC but the likelihood of a repeat section was very high. So I skipped the labor part the second time around), and they started the procedure at noon straight up.

At 12:30 we had a baby.

Lizzy - you may have noticed through these pages - is a bright little thing intellectually, but she cannot sit still to save her soul. Unless you hand her a book and it captures her interest. Then she's still but she's not listening because her nose is stuck in a book. Sound like anyone else you know, Mom and Dad (and anyone else who knew me as a child)?

Yes, right, well.

So we are having a birthday dinner with Just the Girls tonight as we always do, and then we're having a party next week.

In the past we've had the party on the weekend following her birthday, but this year her dad and I both work weekends, so we thought we'd do it on the Thursday after school, which we both have off. This was my mom's idea, as is the party idea below, because Mom just rocks that way. We don't have the party the day of as a rule, because this early in the year she needs a week or so to settle in and decide which kids she needs to have there.

Anyway, knowing we are chronically short on funds, my mom suggested a scavenger hunt in our yard and on our porches. With prizes from the dollar store (and our dollar store has their favorite treat most of the time, packaged cotton candy) I think we should have a good thing going. So I am spending my day off happily doing homework and dishes and laundry, and writing out little rhymes for a scavenger hunt, like:

Globes of red, orange, yellow and green;
A clue you’ll find when these you have seen.

So the next clue would be in the tomato plants out in the side yard, yes?

I think it'll be fun, and Tiger can hide in the house if all the kids are out doors, and all will be well.

Speaking of Tiger, I did not write about her here, but we thought she was ill. Not ill, exactly, but not well; she's 16 and cranky and just old, and she's starting to move quite creakily and having trouble washing herself well. But I let her wander around outside for a bit the other day - she's always been an indoor cat - and she seems quite a lot better. Maybe she just wanted some fresh air. Or maybe she had a kitty equivalent of a summer cold and is now feeling better; it's hard to tell.

But she's been with us for over twice the time the Birthday Girl has, and that's saying something.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Now How Do I Do This...?

I have had this one possession for over thirty years. I have paid to insure it, I have obsessed over being the only one to touch it, and I have moved it from house to house for about twenty-five years.

And in the last twelve years, I have used my cello exactly four times.

Before that, once I no longer played in an orchestra I only played it about once yearly. That's for the last twenty years.

So let's see... I used it pretty steadily from when it was purchased for me in my mid-teens for about ten years, then once a year for about eight years, and four times since then.

You see, Abby-in-utero objected strongly to the vibrations of the back panel against my belly. And she'll be twelve in December. I just never picked it back up with anywhere near as much frequency.

As with the books, I think it will be freeing to sell it and its pretty little display/music stand, although it will likely break my mother's heart if I do. And I can certainly use the money.

Unlike the books, I have no idea how much it's worth, how much I can get for it, or even where to sell it. I've looked on Craigslist and eBay, and I just don't know enough about acoustic orchestral instruments in general or my cello in particular to know what to ask for. Not to mention that I don't want to get taken; if I sell this thing for the money, I want as much money as I can get for it. No price sentimental value, of course, but honestly, I'd rather get enough for it to assuage the guilt I feel, you know?

But how much do you insure it for, Jenn? That might give you an idea of the value.

Not really; I insure it for "$2000 - $5000, musical instrument." It's not very specific.

So... does anyone have any ideas?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cortana Can't Help with This

Cortana is my new favorite buddy.

She knows what the fox says (this piece of info made Abby literally ROFL)

She claims that my question as to her connection with Skynet may be a trick question.

She has not been around long enough to know whether she likes bananas or dogs or if she thinks bow ties are cool (for that last she presents me with this link).

She can do a lot of cool things.

But what Cortana can't do is fix financial problems as they come up.

We are slowly pulling ourselves out of the financial hole pit we got ourselves into in that link, but as described there, we're one car repair away from disaster.

What we didn't realize is that we're also one computer repair away from disaster.

So when Laston accidentally put his computer into sleep mode while it was busy - the button is way too close to the Escape key - it blue-screened on him. And as this interferes with his one true addiction - Diet Coke is more a preference than an addiction - he is... less than patient. That it's past his bedtime, he hasn't eaten, and the computer won't let him boot into safe mode just exacerbates his frustration.

And Cortana can't help, at least not any more than my own Google Bing skills can.

The fact that he thinks out loud, swear words and all, while this is happening is no fun either.

So if anyone has any ideas  it would be helpful.

Windows 7, Chrome, dual screen, um... no idea what his other stats are. But it keeps blue screening with a memory error. Could be anything from a corrupted file to a dead RAM stick to the need for a whole new computer.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mother of the Year... NOT

Yes, I realize that this is not a big deal. And I realize that I was beating myself up unnecessarily (not anymore; I'm over that).

But I committed the unpardonable sin of signing Abby up for day camp instead of overnight camp.

I was surprised at how low the price was, but I thought that was due to the new sliding scale for payment and because we used some Cookie Dough (TM) toward camp as well. I remember telling Abby that we were not able to pay for the horse-riding add-on, but back in April when I signed her up we qualified for the lower rate because my job was low-ish-paying and had no benefits.

Abby is content enough with day camp (although she extracted a promise - provided we have the cash - for the horse add-on next year). But when I told her last night you would have though that I had committed genocide or something.

She never has taken surprises well.

But back to my job.

I love my job, and last week I realized why, due to a discussion in my class at University of Phoenix.

It's very simple; I am now part of the AT&T tribe.

I am a low-ranking member of that tribe, to be sure, but I am a member of it in a way I never quite felt myself to be at the last few jobs I held. I don't think it's the people themselves, and it's certainly not the job duties; I just feel more involved at AT&T than I have at any job in years.

Didn't really expect that, given the multinational telecom giant nature of things, but there it is.

And I don't care if I'm drinking the company Kool-Aid thereby; I feel safe at AT&T, a part of things, and that's a huge deal for me.

So I'm just more secure in general, both financially (though that's not entirely fixed yet; we're sloooowly getting there) and hmmm... I guess it's professionally/socially.

Plus the AT&T Wireless customer support catch phrase - "I can help you with that" - just strikes me as a good way to live in any case. I got a bunch of the silicon bracelets with that phrase on them from the company store, for Abby's Girl Scout troop. It's a Girl Scout sort of sentiment, isn't it?

And we've come full circle to the Scouts again.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

At Last

I had promised Abby at her birthday seven months ago that when we were "settled enough" she could have a couple friends for a sleepover at our new house. After the debacle that was our move, and the subsequent (though not entirely related) money issues, this is the first time I've feel like we were settled "enough" to do it. Not that we're out of the woods (and oooo - I want to see that too! I have a Girls' Night Out already tentatively scheduled for that; it's one of my favorites!) on a financial front, but I can afford a few frozen pizzas for the troops now.

So Abby has one of the friends from the trip-to-the-mall-and-Frozen birthday, and Kiki from our old apartment, and they are having a grand old time. Lizzy, not to be outdone, has NatBug spending the night as well, and aside from a good-natured argument with a lot of giggling about whose child fell out of which car in the Game of LIFE, so far so good.

Of course, it's early yet. But with this particular combination of kids - Kiki, Abby, and Abby's friend C (don't have parental permission to use her name) in the one room, and Liz & NatBug in the other, I think we'll be okay, at least until the little ones get too tired to move. NatBug is almost a year older than Lizzy, but they are besties, and when tired they're both more apt to just be generally cranky, not mad at each other.

Tomorrow is my niece's fifth birthday, and so between the sleepover and her party we'll have about four hours. Therefore, I am doing my homework now, while all is relatively quiet on the Western front. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Out of the Mouths and Texting Fingers

It's been a weird week. Part of this is that Abby was up visiting her dad's mom for the week, and things are often strange when that happens. I think we don't realize how much Abby does around here (even though I often have to nag her tween self into it) until she's not here. When the hubs has to empty the dishwasher every day because Abby isn't here to do it, or when I have to take care of the cat every single time, that's when we realize.

But part of the weird week is because without Abby here, what Lizzy does (and says) is magnified in our eyes. I heard detailed reports of Lizzy (nearly seven) and her little cousin (nearly five) discussing the relative merits of vaginal versus cesarean delivery in the backseat of Grandma's car, complete with Lizzy explaining to her cousin that even if she was born in the eighth month, she was still in her mommy's tummy for nine months; "her seed must have been planted in December."

Out of the mouths indeed.

And then today as I was heading up to Abby's dad's to pick her up, I texted him with "OOW" to let him know we were, well, on our way (don't worry; I was at a red light and it was a short text). He sent back a reply saying "Do u mean OTW?" which I took to mean On The Way, but that was one I hadn't seen before. Who knew there were regional differences in texting between here and 22 miles north of here?

I find it a little sad that many of my customers thank me for "speaking English."

I also find it sad that some of my classmates - in a class on Contemporary Latin America, no less - think that immigrants who are here without papers are the biggest problem we as a country face. You'd think that by the time we were this far into degrees in Communications that people would be a little more tolerant.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to be competent at my job. Oh, I don't really have a problem with the soft skills, but I feel like I'm starting to grok the tools too.

These are random thoughts about communication, brought to you by homework performed while watching Tad the Lost Explorer - a movie from Spain and localized to the USA - with the kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Two things have happened in the past two days that give me an uncanny sense of freedom, which is a bit strange for me in these particular contexts.

One has to do with my books. If you have ever read my posts at all, you know that I am very fond of books. In fact, there are so many posts about my bibliophilia that I won't even bother posting links; you can just click on almost any month in that archive and find one.

Now, I have always been a fan of used book stores, especially Half Price Books, because I do outgrow certain stories, or find something that I think I've been dying to read because I think I recognize it, but it turns out to be a pile of poo from a different author, and what I recognized was the cover artist's style. But I have rarely taken (my own) books to HPB en masse; I love them too much to give them up for the most part.

However, that can also be a problem. Here's the example I used that made the Hubs do that little signal that means you got it on the nose: I adore +Diane Duane, everything of hers I have ever read, including her Star Trek novels. There are very few of these particular ones that I will reread, and hers are among the few (Doctor's Orders is a favorite, as is Spock's World). But here I was keeping a bunch of Trek novels (to complete the set) by other authors that I may have reread when I was twenty, but hey, I'm 45 now, and aside from Duane's, there are about six Trek novels - all eras - that I will reread.

And I can use the money - the two trips I've taken so far (only so much will fit in my car) - have each netted enough to pay for a few small things where we've been having trouble making ends meet. And I found that it's actually kind of exhilarating for me to go through all these books and determine which I (or the kids) am likely to read again, that I can't get free on my Kindle because of Public Domain, and that - hopefully - I will never need again.

That's right; Elmo Goes Potty is now the property of the HPB in Lynnwood WA.

Of course each child gets a little something while we're there. You didn't think I was buying all those Magic Treehouse books full price online, did you? And they only cost $2 at HPB, rather than, well, twice that or more.

So yes, it's kind of freeing. I think I've gone through over half of my enormous collection of books. And I expected to be upset and am pleased to find out that I am not

The other freeing thing was that Lizzy has proven capable of making a fairly decent breakfast for herself if circumstances are right. She's not at Abby's level of scrambled eggs, of course, but she can now make toast, cereal, fruit, and a glass of milk or juice on her own (I say the circumstances have to be right becuause they's not big enough to lift an pour a gallon milk jug if it's over 3/4 full).

That's kind of amazing.

And freeing.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's a WinCo WinCo Situation

I know that you know how much I adore Grocery Outlet. It's inexpensive and although I have to be extra careful on reading labels so we don't have a Nut Incident (not everything is a national brand with which I am familiar), I really do like shopping there.

But the selection is sometimes lacking, and that's where the nuts become an issue, because if there is not a nut-free brand of - say - breakfast cereal I'm out of luck.

And as I am on an extremely tight budget right now I can't really see going to my usual local haunts or having groceries delivered, because I just don't have the cash. My Costco card is expired and I don't have the money to renew it either, so I need cheap food that's decent for all of us (including the allergic) and cheap to boot.

This is where WinCo Foods comes in.

They have a greater selection - much greater - than Grocery Outlet, and much cheaper prices than Safeway or QFC or the other major chains. As much as I would like to buy all organic foods from Whole Paycheck Foods, I don't have the cash. So off to WinCo we went. And I got out of there with all the staples (except sugar and sandwich cheese, which I forgot) for just under my self-imposed budget. I adore the place.

I have to drive a little farther, but the savings are totally worth it. The customer service is terrific too, and we even managed to get a few little extras. It's a good shopping experience overall.

Boys vs. Girls

Or more specifically, a treatise on the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of America.

As you may know, I've had a tough week or two or six, and I have therefore spent a lot of time thinking. Add a lot of discussion on diversity in class and at work (we've finished The Peoples and Cultures of Asia and moved on to Contemporary Latin American Cultures, and I'm still in training at work, with a very diverse class there as well), and you have a recipe for Deep Thought (not that Deep Thought).

And one of the things I've been thinking about (and discussed with a few people, hi mom!) is this: Boys will be boys because they are trained to be boys (as are girls, conversely).

You know the Boy Scout Motto. Everyone does, right? It's so pervasive in our culture that satirical songs have been written about it, and even I have written a fanfic on the topic (It's MacGyver, natch; can you think of anyone off the top who's more prepared?). Note: the Lehrer song is rated T, as it implies that one should always be - ahem! - prepared when one comes across a girl scout. The fic is rated General Audiences, because the rest is implied.

In any case, the point of Be Prepared is that it's an individual thing. Now I am all for individual responsibility and etc., but even Pa Ingalls would accept - and on one memorable occasion, demand - help from the local townfolk in a blizzard, you know? But it's an individualistic, pioneer-spirit sort of thing.

Does anyone here know the Girl Scout Motto? I suspect not, unless you are a girl scout or were one for a long time as a child. Note: It has nothing to do with cookies.

The Girl Scout Motto is this: Do a good deed every day.

This is not an individual thing. In fact, it kind of defines community.

Now, boy scouts certainly do more than their share of helping others, and - political differences aside - they generally do an admirable job of it. But it is a conscious thing: "We do things for people because it is our duty."

The girl scouts' take on it is more... nurturing, I guess. Maternal, even.

Mind you, this is only my opinion. But I think it's not wholly inaccurate.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

No, I am not Hindu.

But I am studying The Peoples and Cultures of Asia this session, and when we got to India we did, of course, have a class discussion on the Hindu pantheon. And my instructor mentioned that Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles.

I half-jokingly remarked that I should look into that, as I need a few obstacles removed. And she sent me the mantra of Ganesh, which one says in multiples of nine. As with any prayer or mantra or meditation, one also has to remember that what you want isn't always what you need.

In this case it occurred to me (mantras to Ganesh can't hurt and might help) that my biggest obstacle is that I am pretty much too proud to ask for help. I've done it once in a while, but generally I take that very American Pioneer attitude of do-it-my-own-self.

If you check out that first link, you will see that really, I'm not able to do it myself. Or even with Laston's help and that of our respective families.

Oh, we can and are slooooowllllllly pulling out of the financial hole we've gotten ourselves into. But when my Check Engine light came on, I realized that we are one car repair from disaster (it was the gas cap in this case. But it could have been something bad).

Or (deit(ies) forbid) it could be an E.R. situation, with an unlabeled pistachio and an epi-pen.

Now some of this mess is happenstance and completely out of our control. I didn't ask to be injured the day before we moved in here, while in a job with no insurance (and no paid leave for illness or injury), a week before the medical insurance kicked in at the beginning of 2014. Nor did Laston ask to hurt his back that same week.

Some of it, however, was a case of Poor Communication Kills (don't click. Don't even click. Click and you're dead). We made overenthusiastic-new-homeowner purchasing choices. We spent like we were still making good-money-with-great-benefits. We each thought the other had paid this bill or that, and we didn't check.

But with the exception of that one post we were too proud to ask for help for the most part.

Now pride is not always a bad thing. I'm proud that Lizzy is a super reader. I'm proud that Leanna is doing well in school. I'm proud that Abby has the soft skills that make life easier.

I'm proud that Laston has had some stories published.

I'm proud that I have lost 20 pounds in 15 weeks.

I'm even proud that we are taking a good hard look at our finances and seeing where we can pare things down. We're already living in a cheaper place, and growing some of our own food. With Laston working for the cable company and me for the phone company we're getting deep discounts on those services. We both (finally) have stable jobs with decent benefits at the same time.

And I don't know whether it was Ganesh, or my own ability to (finally) slow down and look at the problem instead of careening through panic. Or a matter of coincidence. So I decided to swallow the damn pride and ask for help. If I can get five bucks from 200 people, that's enough to pay all sorts of things, and still have that buffer in case the next time the Check Engine light is something serious.

So please, feel free to check out this link, give if you've got some to spare. Send hugs and kisses if you don't.

Boost the signal all you like, because you know what?

I'm not too proud to ask for help.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Of Financial Loss

Some of you may know that I lost my wallet - or it was stolen - a couple of weeks ago.

The good news is that there is no sign of identity theft or any wrongdoing with my accounts. That would be the silver lining of having very little in those accounts, I suppose. Nobody wants my credit.

The bad news is that even with that small blessing, there is still some financial smackdown on this, because things I didn't know about / had forgotten - like a phone bill (ironic, that, as I now work for the phone company), the second payment of a recurring donation to a charity, etc - still try to come out of those accounts. Then they bounce (because of the wrong account number, as I have changed the numbers to avoid said identity theft), and I'm out the $29 my credit union charges me for NSF.

For each transaction.

Remember up there where I said that my accounts were almost empty anyway? Yeah.

We'll pull out of it, but it's still a pain in the financial neck.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Out of the Mouths... Once Again

I did say I'd be blogging more here now that I'm not doing it for a living, but I think it's already been more in the past two weeks than in the several months before this. I think I hadn't realized how much it had fallen by the wayside when I was busy earning my meager living writing forty blog posts a day on such diverse topics as portable urinals, the efficacious results of using turmeric as a cure-all, and how to survive in case of zombie apocalypse (not really, but basic survival supplies were a regular feature).

In any case, I was chatting online with my friend +kat Folland about our kids and the funny things they say, and I told her a couple of stories about mine that amuse me (I won't tell you her kids' stories; they're not mine to tell). But there are a few that I wanted to share (whether I already have or not, just because they watermelon (and you'll see why that's funny below).

Abby has this huge vocabulary but has a complete block on the word "extract;" she keeps saying "abstract" instead, no matter the context. As in "these Savannah Smiles contain traces of tree nuts because they have almond abstract, so if you're allergic to nuts I would buy Thin Mints instead."

When my sister was about four, she asked our dad to "read it expensive," referring to a poem (probably The Tale of Custard the Dragon). She meant "expressive." My girls have heard that story so often that this is now their word for expressive.

My ex-husband used to read Abby The Very Hungry Caterpillar every night, and he would tickle her when the caterpillar ate through a slice of watermelon, Abby (and because of her, Lizzy) habitually says "tickle word" in place of "watermelon" (and "sandia," the Spanish word for it).

And I just explained the Three Laws of Robotics in the very simplest terms to six-year-old Lizzy, because the injured toy (Robot Ray) on Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins wasn't following them, and therefore got hurt. When you are an electronic robot toy, and the doctor tells you to stay out of the water, follow her advice. It's the Second Law... and the Third too. 

This is how life goes...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Holy Explosions, Batman!

I had no idea our neighbors were so enthusiastic about Independence Day. But when Lizzy asked me last week if "fireworks in June are like a prologue n a book," perhaps I should have been clued in. 

Tiger is unpleased.

At the moment I don't even miss the kids, because all their neighborhood friends are standing in our cul-de-sac, shrieking with glee every time there's a bang. It's just like the kids are here.

And there are a lot of them. 

Now I don't feel so bad about my minimal little collection of ground bloom flowers and the like, because the neighbors are doing it all for us.

But wait, you say, isn't it illegal to set off your own fireworks?

Not in unincorporated Snohomish County, it's not, as long as you don't buy them up at the Tulalip reservation. Those are illegal anywhere off said reservation. But the Shock-n-Awe and the Safe-n-Sane stands set up all over... those are perfectly fine.

Of course, the only time I've ever burned myself on the Fourth was by steaming salmon, because I'm not the BSU (for real anyway) type. But I stand by with the bucket of water. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Most parents, when posting about freedom in June (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) are referring to the kids being out of school. I am not.

That was a week and a half ago.

No, freedom in this case is that the younger two are with Gramma at her timeshare condo this week, starting right now (they just left) Sunday noonish and not coming back until at least Wednesday, maybe later. The eldest lives with her mom, so she will be here during her usual (summertime) mid-week every-other-weekend whether her sisters are here or not. That'll be nice for her, as she doesn't get a lot of one-on-one time with her dad, and this way she will get some.

In the meantime, even with work and all, Mr. K and I are on our own for a couple of days, without having to worry about children going to bed at a decent hour or whether they'll eat the concoction one of us made from leftovers.

And it feels like freedom.

This is not to say we won't think about them - probably 24/7 - while they're gone. We will. We always do. But we can watch grown-up shows without worrying if someone is sneaking out of bed to hear bad words on the TV, and basically just be Jenn and Laston for a couple days, not Mom and Dad. It's like our annual sojourn to Norwescon, but with work schedules.

I can live with that.

I have a paper to finish, financial woes to chase down (my wallet went missing, and I had to cancel all my stuff and get new ones, but at least I got the most important stuff dealt with already), new job training to attend (I'm really enjoying it!), a house to tidy, books to put away, and laundry to do. But I don't have to corral other people into helping me.

That makes it a lot easier.

It sounds like I am complaining about the kids. I'm not. They are kids, though, and that means that things are simply less complicated when they are around.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Side Effects

A side effect of my switching to a non-blogging job is that I am happy to blog more on a personal level.

A side effect of Benadryl (in Abby) is dizziness. Now drowsiness I've had with Benadryl; its other function is as an OTC sleep aid, after all. But dizziness I have never had from it. However, when Abby was (apparently) bitten by a spider (it looks like my allergic spider bite reaction, but less severe), I gave her a Benadryl and an ice pack. Now she wants to watch TV and doze on the couch instead of playing in the water on a hot day. This is unlike her. I prefer it though; she's an allergenic little person and I want to keep an eye on her.

A side effect of Abby being indoors with me / living in a nice safe neighborhood is that Lizzy can go out to play without her older sisters. She is happily across the street with the little boy who lives there and his younger sister. The younger sister (about four) is not very happy, however, because a side effect of Lizzy being the oldest in any given group is bossiness. This is in turn a side effect of having two older sisters.

I start my new job tomorrow.

Abby and Lizzy (and their little cousin) go to day camp tomorrow (thanks, Grandpa, for camp and transport and logistics!).

Laston and I go to our respective workplaces.

Grandma gets some time off, at least until the kids get home from camp.

A side effect of new jobs and school and Abby allergies and so on is Momma-stress. And I didn't have the money for that pedicure I wanted (my heels need a cheese grater, seriously).

Anyone feel like grating my heels and giving me a massage before tomorrow? I swear nobody is contagious with anything (as far as we know). Unless we have masked the side effects with Benadryl.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ah, Young Love...

Greg's Ninth Birthday
...sort of.

You may know that Abby and her friend Greg are very close. They decided years ago that they would get married when they grow up, although their respective ages (he's six months older than she) when said happy event is to occur varies from eighteen and fresh out of high school all the way to their mid-twenties (which would make parents much happier). Greg's parents are among my favorite people in the world, and while Greg makes Lizzy look calm and reserved by comparison, he's a sweet boy with a good heart.

A&G @Leanna's Birthday 2011
They met when Greg was just eight, and Abby was seven-and-a-half, and according to Abby they loathed each other on sight for a whole afternoon. By the next day they were fast friends, holding hands and swapping Silly Bands and generally acting like pre-pubescent soul mates. Greg has been featured in this blog more often than any of Abby's other friends, and as we tend to refer to her friends as "Abby's Fan Club," that's saying something. They are legion because she too is a good-hearted soul, and people just like her as a rule. It's a useful quality.

A&G at a Game Night in 2012
Tonight I asked Greg's dad if he had a cell phone or other texting mechanism. He does; it's not a phone but it does about everything else. So he and Abby were happily texting away - thank goodness for unlimited texts - when Abby said she was going to go to bed (the 9:30 cutoff has been relaxed now that school is out). About ten minutes later she texted me from her room (natch) to say that she was going to go to sleep now. About ten minutes after that she got a text from an email address that included a picture. It was a single fuzzy orange square in a black field, and I discovered that I can only block her texts in and out if they're from a number, not an IM acting as an SMS. Okay.

Twenty minutes later she gets another one, and I reply to it, saying that the sender must cease sending texts to this number. Then Abby gets a text from Greg, saying that he got this creepy message asking him to cease sending things to her. Oh. Ohhhh... so Greg got a lesson in Web etiquette (always identify yourself when sending from a given account the first time), Abby got the same lesson, and Mom got the chance to realize that unfamiliar accounts are not always evil.

Good lesson, and it also taught me some stuff that I will be needing next week when I start a new job at my cell phone carrier.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A New Chapter

:takes a deep breath:

I did it; I gave notice at my current job. I start at a major cell phone carrier on the 23rd.

My feelings are mixed, because I have enjoyed my time working as a professional marketing blogger. But I was offered more money, some benefits I could really use (although likely a worse schedule) for a place about three blocks further from home than my current place of employment. I have a family to help support.

In any case, my training will be for six weeks starting the 23rd, and is from 10AM to 7PM Monday through Friday. It's extremely handy that the kids are going to be at camp that week, because all I have to do it get them ready each morning, and then my dad will come get them and take them to camp, well before I have to go to work. That will give me an hour and a half to get myself ready, do my homework (the new class starts tomorrow, June 10), and so forth, without any "help" from children.

I have to say that although I felt some trepidation about giving notice today, my boss was remarkably calm about the whole thing. Calm to the point, honestly, of me wondering whether they care that I'm leaving at all. I mean, I'm sure they do; it's just that I've never left a position without a certain amount of negotiation, everything from, "Can you please stay until the 21st?" to, "Okay, pack up your things; we'll pay you through the end of the day."

I wasn't really expecting, "Thanks for doing us the courtesy of giving adequate notice. Good luck in your new position."

So good news: I have a new job with better pay and real benefits!
Bad news: none, really; just a weird feeling of disconnection.
Silver lining: when not blogging for a living, you'll probably get a lot more of my time here on my personal blog, because I won't be all written out by the end of the day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I Miss This

I haven't been blogging lately; you may have noticed. I think it's that because my job is blogging, and has been since October, and I can only write so many two-paragraph posts (usually 38 - 40 a day) at work, do my homework (also a lot of writing) and still feel any inspiration whatsoever. Even my fanfic has fallen far by the wayside.

That is partly for the same reason, and partly because my usual fandom is on hiatus until August. Only so much rehashing I can do (although I am slowly doing some, in a same-story-different-POV sort of way).

And yes, I did just link you to the TVTropes Main Doctor Who page. Because I hate you. ("no, you don't," with an affectionate little nose-tap)

Oh boy, and speaking of the I-hate-yous, is anyone else's kindergartner using that as a way to express frustration, anger, fatigue, <insert negative emotion here>? Lizzy's about to drive me around the bend. It's not the *IhateyouIhateyouIhateyou stomp-stomp-door-slam* of my adolescence, either. It's just very casual, and she doesn't seem to notice how often we tell her it's inappropriate. It seems to be her little thing right now, like sucking her fingers or pinching my elbow or whatever have been in days gone by.

Abby's going to drama camp this summer, along with other activities. Like she needs help with drama <rolls eyes>. I suspect it will be good for actual acting skill though. The craft as opposed to the natural talent, you know?

I dunno, guys, that's all I've got right now. Pretty sad for the first post in a month, what?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


‘Ella,’ me dice, ‘Abiguita no puede comer los nueces. Ella no puedo respirar con los nueces.’

I was so proud of myself.

I speak Spanish, but only in a very present-tense sort of way, with very good pronunciation (in a Central American sort of way, porque mi padre vivio en Costa Rica cuando fue un niƱo). But I feel it's very important to be able to say, "She - Abby - cannot eat nuts. She cannot breathe with nuts," in as many languages as she is likely to be offered nuts.

So when our neighbor across the street, who speaks very little English, offered both girls some ice cream, I decided to check for myself, because Abby does not know the phrase in question yet. 

We have run into the problem before. Indian restaurants are a minefield; although most people there speak English very well, there are her two deadliest allergens - cashews and pistachios - in abundance. We avoid Indian restaurants when she is with us. Chinese restaurants can be a problem (unless we already know them well or they speak English well) because who knows whether the cook has prepared Abby's orange chicken in a pan used for cashew pork? Name any restaurant where there may be a language barrier and it's a problem, except in Mexican restaurants, because I speak enough Spanish to clarify.

As for other food news - in English this time - I lost eleven pounds in my first six week on Weight Watchers (and I've probably lost more here this week, but stomach bugs or food poisoning or whatever it was don't count). I'm feeling pretty good about it, because hey, eleven pounds is eleven pounds. I was a little down about the whole thing after Norwescon, because although I understand the concept of loving one's body the way it is, and even agree with that view of health at any size, I felt judged because I don't like my body the way it is. 

I know there's a happy medium; I have at least one friend who subscribes to the health at any size worldview but still manages not to judge me; this was clear when she just asked if I was losing weight for me or for society and once I assured her it was the former, she was happy for me and supportive.

Size aside, and even weight aside, I knew I was on my way when I needed a belt to keep up the pants I bought just a month or two ago.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Not Like Last Year

Last year I think I was still depressed at last year's Norwescon; I had recently gotten a new job, true, but I wasn't very good at it, and between that and my imminent AA degree, my brain was just full. I couldn't concentrate on things like panels and workshops.

So I played Ambassador to the Norms.

But this year... this year I was more alert, more in tune with what was going on, and just generally more into it. I went to panels and workshops on writing and even specifically on writing fanfic. I learned about gender diversity in fiction and how pleased many professional writers are with recent trends in the Tomboy Princess trope popularity. I attended a couple on being happy with my body no matter its size (which I'm not, but I'm thrilled that other people are and can be). I heard about comic books for girls and the new Ms Marvel from the writer of that character. I played Pictionary with a science fiction theme and real professional artists. I made contacts and interacted with people.

Pamela (Raven) was there as usual, but so, sooo, tired, poor lady. She has spent the last month organizing, running, and participating in a volunteer massage therapy effort for the search and rescue crews at Oso. She also did not have a second table with a friend to help this year (I think the friend is still up at the mudslide). But she managed to be her usual cheery self, and assorted friends kept sticking food in her mouth as she worked.

I learned about a new edutainment RPG from a couple of kids (well... late teens/early twenties people) out of West Seattle. It's free, and it looks like the mechanics are simple enough for our whole family to play together. It involves time travel and history lessons and I want it. Since it it free for download I think we can probably manage. And honestly, it looks just lovely, and educational and super duper fun as well.

I stuck to my Weight Watchers in spite of really good food and free cookies from the hotel and a comped dessert from Juanita at Roasters because we were disappointed that they don't start the cornbread until four in the afternoon.

Little steampunky hats and corsetry (and Doctor Who bathrobes?) were still big, but the biggest thing this year seemed to be masquerade masks. They are beautiful but they make me claustrophobic.

There were baby Daleks and Steve from Minecraft and any number of lesser costumes. So amazing.

So much fun.

Now it's on to bunnies and eggs and the like at my mom's, who by the way is the Best Grandma Ever, and without whom we could not manage a weekend without the kids every year.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


Our school district uses a 1-4 grading system in elementary school.

  • 4 - Exceeding expectations
  • 3 - Meeting expectations
  • 2 - Working toward expectations
  • 1 - Not meeting expectations
Abby has threes in everything, except for "uses writing conventions" (which in her case means spelling), there she has a two.

Lizzy has fours in reading and threes in writing and math (they don't worry much about spelling in kindergarten).

For behavioral things like "working well with others" they use a different scale. Abby consistently gets very high marks in these, and Lizzy somewhat less so (she has yet to master sit-down-and-shut-up (which they call something else) at this time).

But what I really wanted to talk about here was the Magic Treehouse series of early chapter books. They are listed as Scholastic Guided Reading Level M, and Lizzy is at Level L (which means that she reads Level M with an adult in attendance to explain words she doesn't understand, and to dispense hugs when Jack and Annie are in imminent danger of being buried under ash and pumice in Pompeii on Volcano Day).

I adore these books.

Especially because of the way they explain things in an age-appropriate manner. I was especially amused tonight by eight-year-old Jack's definition of civilization in Viking Ships at Sunrise. He defined it as "Books and art and good manners," and I think that's a great working definition for civilization for the intended age group (also eight-ish). Maybe that's the skill Lizzy needs to work on for the behavioral things above.