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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.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Interesting Thing

I am in (as is usual) a five-week long class, working toward my BSc in Communication with a specialty in Intercultural Communication.

This class is a 200-level class, and since I have been taking 400-level classes for about a year now, I'm finding this one fairly simple. This means I can play with it a bit.

And because it is a class in Contemporary American Culture, I find myself referencing a lot of Broadway musicals (both American and one originating in the UK) and a few TV shows and movies, and other entertainment media in my posts to the forum, and now I'm even doing it in an essay. It's a class centering on stereotypes and the like, and as troperiffic as I am, I'm finding that I know a lot more of these than I thought.

So far I have referenced or quoted:

  • Porgy and Bess
  • Star Trek 
  • Sesame Street 
  • Lady Gaga's Born this Way
  • The Disney Channel's Jessie and ANT Farm 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
  • Spamalot 
  • South Pacific 
  • Nickelodeon's VicTORIous 
  • Blues' Clues 
  • Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 
  • Family Guy 
  • Doctor Who 
  • Torchwood 
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures 
  • Meet Fred
  • The Hunger Games
  • South Park
In the paper I'm writing at the moment, I am talking about The Jazz Singer and West Side Story.

I really like this class. Having a little trouble with citation though, because I have all this entertainment trivia in my head.