Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: July 14th, 2018

onnie & CaroleYes, yes, I know – it’s Saturday again.  I keep doing this.  This week, my excuse is that my whole schedule has gotten flipped upside down.  I spent a week out of work, and then had to adjust to a weird schedule of working only Tuesday and Thursday; we spent our Wednesday as a family out and about (which made it feel more like a Saturday), and to top it all off, my husband was covering a co-worker’s vacation and was working 2pm to 11pm instead of his usual 8am to 5pm.  So my whole week – and concept of time – has been thrown out of whack.

Here is what’s kept me grounded:

First, Wednesday was spent at Kimball Farm, which was a blast.  I hadn’t been there in several years (we did a community outing there during one of the other ESY programs I worked), and it really has something for everyone.  Bear got his first taste of mini-golf, he got to see some animals (and pet an alligator!), and spent some time earning tickets in the arcade.  He ended the day with a huge scoop of Orange-Pineapple ice cream.  I have a couple of small pics on Insta here.

Second, my sister spent hours online last night messaging me eBay links to long forgotten tech toys we had as kidsThe Teach-Me Reader and The Videosmarts Learning System to name a couple – and ended the evening by announcing that her 1984 Whiz Kid Toy Computer would be arriving on Thursday.  Seriously?  I still can’t believe she actually bought it, but I’d be lying if I pretended I wasn’t going to play with it.  I had one prior to first grade, and I loved it.  We can learn to spell together!

Third, Andy ordered me laminating sheets and I’m going crazy thinking of things I need to laminate.  All my checklists from my previous post have already gotten the treatment, and I’m busy designing both additional checklists and organizers for me, but also piecing together a preschool curriculum for Bear that we can get started, hopefully on Monday.  He’s looking forward to it, and so am I.  I plan on spending a big chunk of time after he turns in tonight getting some of those tasks completed.

Finally, the GISH registration has been extended and my team is starting to take shape (yeah, kind of late this year).  If you don’t know what GISH is, click the link or Google search its previous incarnation, GISHWHES.  It’s a massive multimedia international scavenger hunt interested in subversive art and acts of kindness.  This year it runs July 28th through August 4th.  I’m thrilled to see it brought back – we thought last year was the end!  – and am participating for the seventh year in a row.

That’s it for this week!  What’s kept you going through the week?

Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: July 6th, 2018

onnie & CaroleHey-o, Friday!

So, Fridays mean a little less when you’re not actively working.  Actually, this Friday is a little bittersweet, because it means we’re coming to the end of the week I had off between the regular academic year and the ESY, but either way.  This has been a busy week for us, and I still want to celebrate the little things that made me happy.

First, this week has a new five-episode Steven Universe arc, “The Heart of the Crystal Gems” – the last of which is airing tonight – which included some really adorable moments, some great lines (“Pssst, it’s me.  I’m a horse”), and some fantastic character development.  I’m thrilled for the final episode, which is double length, and, based on what I saw in the teaser trailer and what already has (or rather, hasn’t) transpired, I’m looking forward to some great moments tonight!

Watch Steven Universe here at Cartoon Network, or on Hulu.

On a related note, here’s a great little article on this arc, talking about queer representation in the show.

Second, I took my son to see fireworks for the first time, and he loved them.  Ever since he found out that we’d be going to Disney World in August, he’s asked if literally everywhere we’ve gone in the last week or so was Disney World.  The local fireworks this year took place at a large, outdoor shopping center.  When we got out of the car and he took in the vendors, musicians, and outdoor seating, his first reaction was, once again, “Is this Disney World??”  He had a blast dancing with his friends, hanging out, listening to music, and watching the fireworks – “I never want to leave this Disney World.”  Sigh.

At least we know the real Disney World won’t be a let down, given what his standards apparently are.

Third, Bear and I spent a long, long time yesterday collaboarating in his Toca Boca activity book.  I love all things Toca Boca – they have a great gender-neutral children’s line (honestly, I wish some of the stuff came in adult sizes), great exploratory games, and a quirky sense of both design and humor, and their activity book is no different.  The activity book is a Target exclusive, but it’s a lot of fun and a really good quality, so if you can find it (or order it) I would definitely recommend it.

Fourth, today is the day I buy my FanExpo Boston tickets!  This is far from my first convention, but this will be, by and far, the most commercialized con I’ve ever been to, so I’m not entirely sure what to expect.  A lot of my con-going friends regularly hit up FanExpo and seem to have a good time, so I’m hopeful; a friend of mine, whose judgement I trust implicitly, said they spent their last foray exclusively in the dealer’s room and had an amazing time just chatting with vendors and other fans, so I can only assume that branching out into the other panels and events will be just as enjoyable (and if not, hey, just head back to the dealer’s room).

That’s it for this week.  What’s made your week brighter?  Please feel free to share in the comments!

Not a Toys R Us Kid

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Were you all bombarded with Toys R Us memes on your social media channels last week? It seriously felt like everyone I knew was posting “childhood ruined” or “childhood over” statuses in honor of Toys R Us finally closing its doors.

I feel of two minds about it, because I’m genuinely sad to see brick and mortar stores close down because of the on-line shopping boom – especially because I’m not exactly thrilled about Amazon’s business practices – but at the same time, I’m a parent on a budget, and, well, I recently realized why my parents never took us there.

Ok, so I shouldn’t say never. I’d been to Toys R Us as a kid, but it was a rarity. I was blown away by the bouts of nostalgia some of my friends had about Toys R Us, where trips there were staples of their childhood – every week after church, every time Grandpa visited, every year for their birthday, etc. That was definitely not my experience.

And again, I get it. We were little goblins as kids – tiny hedonists in Osh-Kosh-Begosh, with no concept of money and no concerns except our own wants and needs – you take one of those creatures into a toy store and tell them you’re “just browsing,” I dare you. If you’re a family tight on cash, like mine was growing up, all you’re really doing is basically inviting your goblin kid to have a meltdown. My parents were smarter than that.

But being that is was “the end of an era,” and they were having some pretty decent sales, Andy and I decided to take Bear there a couple of weeks ago to see if we could score some good deals for him.

We weren’t in the store for five minutes when my husband siddled up next to me, pointing conspiratorially at a toy display on the back wall.

“Hey,” he raised his eyebrows. “Guess how much those things are.”

The back wall display was a collection of animatronic tigers (I had to look them up for this post; they were Hasbro’s FurReal Roarin’ Tyler, the Playful Tiger). I’ve played this game with Andy before; he never asks that question because something is an astonishing deal. I tried to think of a number that would be bordering on ridiculous. My first guess was $80. He jabbed his thumb toward the ceiling.

“Higher.”

I raised my eyebrows. $100?

Higher.

After I guessed $120 and that still wasn’t on the mark, I literally asked if he was freakin’ kidding me (I may have used slightly stronger language) and had to go over to the display to look myself. $130. That’s… well, that’s over a week’s worth of groceries for us, for starters. Imagine making that choice: Okay, kids, we can either buy this tiger toy, or we can eat this week, which is it??

Look, I’m all for treating your kids. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my fair share of trendy gadgets and gizmos growing up, further lying if I said I didn’t have a great time with some of those toys, and hell – lying still if I tried to deny that I don’t still go down the toy aisle of every store I’m in, poking and prodding at anything and everything that moves, beeps, or buzzes.

And my parents did it – not often, but more than once – they went out an bought the exorbitantly priced piece of plastic because we begged for it, and they wanted to make us happy. Here’s how that went down:

  1. We are thrilled. This is the only toy we ever want to play with ever for the history of time.
  2. Piece of plastic does it’s spiel for a few days. It’s fun, experimenting with it and seeing what it can do.
  3. We start getting more rambunctious with it – if it’s a vehicle, we engage it in riskier and riskier driving scenarios, likely off of higher and higher pieces of furniture, or over different terrain – like, say, submerged in water. If it’s an animal/doll, it’s probably joy riding or performing parkour because we’ve decided it’s secretly a spy/superhero/super villain/secret agent.
  4. As a secret agent, it needs a new identity. If it has any hair or fur whatsoever, it gets cut/shaved (if it’s a vehicle, it gets a new paint job. Wet ‘n Wild nail polish was a popular favorite).
  5. Eventually some important component (most likely an appendage of some sort – an arm/a tire, etc.) breaks off, or –
  6. The internal speaker breaks, or –
  7. It runs out of batteries, and our parents thank Christ that that’s over, and never, ever replace them, and-
  8. We are left with a hunk of plastic that now no longer does anything special.

And you know what? The kids will still play with it, because kids want to create stories and interact with memorable characters, and they have the capacity to imagine and create such characters and story lines out of literally anything – just watch a couple of pre-schoolers with a cardboard box. And that’s awesome.

But now you’re out the $130 for a toy that no longer does any of the things that supposedly made it “worth” $130 dollars.

Look, we’ll all do it. If you think I won’t spend a stupid amount of money on a toy Bear “has” to have someday, you’re probably wrong. This isn’t a call out post, or a judgement post. It’s just a “think about it” post. How many of those toys does a kid need? How often do you have to break the bank to get your kid a toy that will almost definitely have all it’s “special features” destroyed in short order? How long will the beeps and buzzes keep them entertained?

You know what my son’s most played with toys are? Any kind of figurine. The one’s that retail for $15 a pop get as much play as the ones that came free in his Happy Meals or from The Dollar Tree. He really doesn’t care.

Imagination will find a way.

10 Things About Me

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a couple of weeks now, and I’m kind of liking it.  This is different from my last foray into blogging – in a good way, I think – and I’m hoping that this is the iteration that sticks.  

So, if we’re going to be in this together for the foreseeable future, I thought maybe it’d be nice to get to know each other a little better.  My About Me gives a pretty good, broad stroke version of who I am, so in lieu of writing another summary or mini-bio (which, despite years of practice, I have never actually gotten good at), I thought maybe just ten random facts about me.

I’d love to learn about you too!  If anything I write resonates with you, or if there are just things you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.  

  1. My husband and I met on a dating site (OKCupid) ten years ago, but didn’t actually start dating until six months later.
  2. I identify along the LGBTQ+ spectrum.  Probably the best descriptors would be bisexual and genderqueer.
  3. I got the worst hangover of my life at a Harry Potter convention.
  4. I have emotional dysregulation issues, and have for as long as I can remember.  As I’ve gotten older, the outward expressions of this dysregulation have leveled off, but the level of emotional distress I feel has not.
  5. I’m addicted to shopping haul videos, especially Dollar Tree.
  6. I’ve got high blood pressure and tachycardia, so I’m trying to develop a health and fitness routine (which I might blog about…?)
  7. If I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, it would be egg rolls or hash browns.  I’m an adventurous eater, but those are my comfort foods.
  8. I am active in fan and fandom culture, and I attend conventions whenever possible.  The only one I am basically guaranteed to make it to every year is Arisia, but I get to others when I can.
  9. We ultimately decided to only have one kid, but we picked out names for four.  The ones that didn’t make it were Corwin James, Amelia Rose, and Cadence Grace.
  10. Barring the big existential fears like loneliness and death, the things I’m most afraid of are butterflies and moths, heights, and dentists.

 

A Life in Checklists

organizing my lifeI sometimes wonder how well people really understand me when I tell them how easily I get overwhelmed by the day-to-day.

I feel like most of the people I know are sympathetic in a commiserative way; that they feel like they know what I mean, and maybe even feel the same way – the, “hey, we all have busy lives/work hard/have a lot going on!” mentality.

They probably don’t expect that I mean, if I don’t set an alarm to take a shower or brush my teeth, it might not get done that day.  Or that the accumulation of mess/clutter from daily activities will seem to sneak up on me, and then loom suddenly and overwhelmingly, making me feel incredibly anxious, but utterly incapacitated.  Or that performing a multi-step task – even a familiar one, like cooking – sometimes makes my heart race and my skill crawl with impatience and agitation.

Which is why, when considering how to go about bringing order to my life, I had to consider the most basic, most fundamental levels of organization – the checklist.

My friends are over here with cross-referenced planners, digital calendars and mobile apps, elaborate bullet journals with color-coded spreads – and I’m making simple, laminated checklists.  For things like “eat breakfast. Take a shower. Watch a movie.”  Things that apparently integrate seamlessly into other people’s lives.

But not mine.  And I have to accept that – that for whatever reason, this stuff does not come naturally to me.  But that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean I can’t do it.  It’s a massive waste of energy, feeling bad about how my brain is wired, instead of coming up with scaffolding I can build on to compensate for it’s limitations.

So, some people might think it’s a childish thing to have checklists for such basic stuff.

I’d say it’s a pretty damn mature thing, to go any length to ensure these tasks get done with any regularity.

So, I made some freakin’ checklists.

These are the easiest, most basic things I could think of to start with: routines to give me enough options to not feel trapped, yet not so many to incite choice paralysis, with a focus on developing habit and balance.

I’m still working on my lists for the deep clean I intend to do this month, and from there a more detailed daily/weekly chore chart to keep things in order.  I may do one for meal options as well, since outside of dinner, I’m not currently planning my meals, and always find myself either out of food options, eating utter junk, or simply not eating, and none of those are acceptable options if I’m trying to be healthier.

This is an incredibly busy week, but I’m hoping to eek out time tomorrow and Thursday to write the remaining lists.  I plan to start using these beginning Saturday – I’ll be printing out multiple copies and leaving one in my bedroom, and one in the kitchen (that’s one on each floor of the house, where I start and end my days).

Fingers crossed that these help.  They certainly can’t hurt, right?

Feel Good Friday/Friday Faves: June 29, 2018

onnie & Carole

Hey-o, it’s Friday, and I am finally off for the summer!!  (That proclamation comes with a footnote, but we’ll get to that).  So what has carried me over that highest of humps, the last week of the academic year?  Lots of little things – just as this last week has been weighed down by the culmination of lots of little stressors, I’ve been buoyed along by lots of small pleasures and things that made me smile.

First, Dollar Tree has been getting a ton of super cute mugs and glassware lately, my favorite of which I hauled last weekend.  Their mug collection has been amazing for a while now, but I’m really starting to dig their glasses. Along with those cute wine glasses, we recently replaced our entire set of drinking glasses with this really chic-looking collection, all for $1 each.  

Second, Hollar is going crazy, whaaat.  I found a freakin’ french press coffee maker for $5, and they recently got in a whole slew of Beat Bugs and Lion Guard  merch for a pretty hefty discount (that might actually be gone now, honestly.  It was a super good deal). I’m getting ready to stock up on stocking stuffers (I know, early! But it’s so much less of a financial crunch when you spread it out over several months), and they have a ton of great stuff for kid’s (or adult’s!) stockings, or for small birthday gifts.  

Third, guys, I have a problem:  I do not know how to like things casually.  If I fall for something or someone, I fall suddenly, unexpectedly, and hard.  This week, I’ve been listening to Harry Potter audio books with Bear and it’s lead me back down the rabbit hole of Harry Potter fandom (I am a massive, massive Potterhead), which in turn lead to a return to Fantastic Beasts fandom, which in turn lead me back to Ezra Miller, who I had a massive crush on back when I first saw the movie.  I recently revisited him, and discovered his band, Sons of an Illustrious Father. Honestly, I could listen to this song on repeat all day:

It also goes without saying that I’m now on the hunt for any movies I can get my hands on with him in it – first up being Perks of Being a Wallflower because, wow, that book was a part of my adolescence, and I somehow never managed to catch the film. 

Fourth, it took forever to do so, but I finally got confirmation that I am working two days a week this summer!  I’m happy to have a little bit of structure, and still have the freedom and time to pursue personal projects and develop a prep routine/curriculum to get Bear ready for hopefully starting kindergarten in September of 2019 (again, I know it’s a long way off, but after this summer I’m going to have way less time to work with – basically an hour a day – so I need to do some planning and be ready to spread it out).

Fifth – and finally – guys, I have a plan.  Or at least the stirrings of a plan. In a previous post I made it a priority to create some order in my life and establish a routine, and I’m making some headway in that department and hope to be back with updates and progress notes soon.  I’m so, so glad to be getting somewhat of a break from the daily grind of sleep-work-home-sleep in order to work on developing these changes.

So that’s it from me, guys.  What has carried you along this week?

Getting Older

You’d think that any number of things that have transpired in my life so far would make me feel old – getting married, buying a house, having a kid, even just seeing my birthday circled when I flip over the calendar to July – but no.  You know what makes me feel old?

Earlier this week, I got an email from my assistant principal looking to recruit staff to work at the summer high school orientation to welcome the class of 2022.  

Excuse me, what?

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I feel you, John Mulaney.

Like I said, I don’t usually feel “old.”  In fact, I often have to remind myself of how old I really am. I actually have this problem where I’ll sometimes have to bite my tongue to stop myself from referring to recent college grads as “about my age.”  Like, no sweetie, she’s 23. You’re almost 36. You need to stop.

But… 2022.  2022 still doesn’t even sound like a real year to me.  I graduated high school in 2000. I started working here in 2005.  When people refer to something being from “ten years ago,” my mind still turns to the 90s.

So it’s not having a kid, or owning a home, or having a career.  It’s getting emails about future graduating classes. And other similarly inconsequential things.

How I Know I’m Getting Older

  1. Waking up at 9 am, which used to be a perfectly respectable wake-up  time, now feels like I’m sleeping half the damn day away. 
  2. I have favorite tupperware.  It’s got an attached lid (whaaaaaat.  I hope whoever figured that out got a medal.  Seriously. I’ll start with fifty Tupperware lids and wind up with five.  Attached is the way to go.) 
  3. I get excited when we go to the “nice” supermarket, and I’ll take an extra leisurely stroll down the expansive ethnic food and produce aisles.  Do I buy anything different? No. I seriously just window shop produce, now. It’s concerning. 
  4. I look forward to cleaning days with the same fervor and enthusiasm with which I used to anticipate snow days as a kid.  Days when I can get up early, get myself a big mug of coffee, kiss my husband and son goodbye for the day, and just clean??  Yaaaaaas. 
  5. I can no longer count my grey hairs.  They are legion. 
  6. I weirdly care more about cultivating an image, but care less if some people don’t like that image.  Meaning, I guess, that I’ve become more concerned with being happy with the way I present myself, and less concerned  about others being happy with it. 
  7. I’m obsessed with The Dollar Tree, discount stores, thrift shops, and over-all just getting more for less.  Which isn’t strictly an age thing, I suppose, but for me there’s been a definite upwardly thrifty trend as I’ve gotten older. 
  8. I’m basically ready for bed after one glass of wine.  Which rarely stops me from having my second glass of wine, but means I now put on my pajamas first. 
  9. I need coffee more now than ever in order to feel human, but that same amount of coffee now gives me the caffeine shakes. I used to be able to drink a large Dunks Coolata before bed and sleep like a baby.  Now I have a cup of coffee with breakfast and I’m trembling like a leaf by 10 am. 
  10. I have “bad” body parts.  Like, the other day, I complained to my husband that my “bad ankle”  was acting up, and suddenly it was like, ‘oh crap – I have a bad ankle.  This is how it starts – this is how the whole system starts to crumble.’ 
  11. I’m now over a decade older than all six Friends during Season One.  Whaaaat. 
  12. THEY ARE REBOOTING A REBOOT OF A SHOW I WATCHED AS A KID.  No one should live long enough to see such atrocities. 
  13. I once told a student I loved vintage video games – the really old school stuff – and he replied with, “oh you mean like the N64?”  This was, itself, already several years ago. I’m terrified if I said this today, the kid would be like, “Oh, you mean like the PS2?” 
  14. I buy a lot of tunics, now.  I don’t know, is this an age thing?  I don’t remember owning this many when I was younger. 
  15. We listen to the radio when we ride the bus for student internships and I recognize literally none of the songs on the radio anymore.  And some of them are serious jams, so I wind up Shazam-ing them, and I sometimes think Shazam is rolling it’s eyes at me.

How and when do you most feel your age?  Comment down below!