Thursday, July 31, 2014

Art Thursday -- July 31st

"Hunter with Animals"
This one was inspired by our trips to the zoo.  The bird is fictional, but the other animals are ones we saw at the zoo.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What-What?! Week of July 27th

I really don't have much to talk about this week.  The week was eaten up by looking for jobs, taking care of children, and sadly, not working.  As an apology, I give you a gif of chickens attempting to eat a laser:

...I miss having chickens.

Odd Jobs Seen on the Craigslist

I have been spending a rather large amount of time staring at job listings.  Most of the time, it's pretty mundane stuff, but sometimes there are special ones, like this opening for a severed head trimmer: (click for larger)

...and this opening for a matchmaking assistant:

In the future, I'm going to save and post more of these oddities as I find them.

That's it for this week.  Next week, there will be more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Art Thursday -- July 24th

"A Girl in Her Bedroom"
I think this picture is what Saffron would like as a bedroom; her own room with a computer and printer (to print out coloring pages, of course), toys on her bed, pictures on the wall, and mommy just down the hall.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What-What?! Week of July 20th

This week has been pretty long.  I went to work on Sunday, working "security" at a soccer game in Seattle (the Sounders versus the... Timbers, I think?).   It was a pretty easy job, but I'm not sure that the pay is worth the drive to Seattle.  I also worked in the shipping department at a local bread plant, which was... amusing.  It is a very physical job, but the pay is good.  When I worked there, I was the only girl, and easily the shortest person.  I got to work on all the "short person" specials, until we ran out of small stacks of bread.  Then I got to do the big stacks, which are about 7 feet high; the biggest set of stacks I sorted out was around 1800 packages of bread.  Those stacks were huge.  It took some ingenuity to manhandle them around the warehouse.
Hm.  Neighbors.
In other news, local apartment complexes keep having fires.  Two apartment buildings just burnt down in Renton, while the apartment complex up the street from us had a two alarm fire early this morning.  A week and a half ago, an apartment complex in North Everett had a fire.  The entire time I lived in Hollister, none of the apartment buildings had fires.  So what is going on here?

News:  A Middle School Cheating Scandal Raises Questions About the No Child Left Behind via The New Yorker

At ten pages, this is a pretty long read, but well worth the insight into what actually happens at schools, especially schools that deal with low income and ESL students.  The parts where teachers and administrators were bullied especially rings true after seeing how certain admin treated afterschool staff, and certain members of their own staff.

I understand why many of these teachers felt that standardized testing just got in the way of more important things; in my experiences, the issues that children face outside of school are even more important than those faced in school.  Children without a stable home, food to eat, parents that are supportive, or just simply a lack of supervision have a much harder time excelling in school.  I've tutored kids that have these issues.  The most heartbreaking situation I've seen was a little first grader who had been removed from her parent's care, and was living in between her two aunt's houses.  She never knew where she was going home to, or what adult was going to pick her up.  The entire time that I tutored her, she made very little academic progress.  It was pretty obvious that the upheaval in her home life overshadowed everything else, and that the best she could do at that time was just survive the day.  My boss and I did as much as we could for her, but she was falling behind.  She was only in first grade.
Basically, this.
When your job relies on other people passing tests, suddenly there's a lot of pressure to do whatever necessary that entails you keep your job.  My first tutoring job was like this.  The students took a grade-level evaluation at the beginning and the end of the school year, and whether the company maintained its contract with the local school board depended upon these children making academic progress.  The fact that I had children who went from failing to passing grades meant nothing in relation to whether or not I (or anyone at my site) would have a job the next year.  My boss and us staff did everything we could without cheating; we took kids aside in small groups to do the testing, they had as much time as possible, they had help in clarifying anything confusing, and so on.  Even with plenty of time, there were kids that randomly pushed buttons, just to get the test done.  This, of course, negates the entire use of testing at all... but their scores were still measured and counted.  Some of the kids made progress, while others stayed the same.

It is frustrating to work with children everyday, all school year, only to have that effort and investment seemingly amount to so little every time test scores are published.  I don't think what these people did was right, but I'm not going to pretend that I don't understand where they're coming from.

(imgs via,

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Art Thursday -- July 17th

"The Hunter"
This picture features animals we've seen at the zoo, plus a hunter with a gun.
Saffron says that the snake (that's the pink thing in the tree) is going to bite the hunter and poison him, because he's a mean hunter.  The look on the lion's face makes me laugh.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What-What?! Week of July 13th

It has been nearly a month since we left California.  Life here isn't bad at all; the weather is quite nice, the people have been very friendly, and living in a larger town has its benefits.

Still, I get homesick.

Sometimes the homesickness catches me by surprise.  The other day, I was coming home from the store when I saw someone that looked strikingly like one of my brothers.  I was then promptly run over by homesickness.  I miss my family, and I miss the husband's family, too.  I know the homesickness will get better over time.  But especially right now, without a regular job or being in school, it's pretty easy to feel it.

The husband started his job on Tuesday; it is a very physical job, but he seems to be doing well with it so far.  On Friday, he came home from work, including doing an hour of overtime, and then assembled my new computer desk.  I was impressed.

I am now working with a temp agency, and while they don't have a real position for me yet, they do have a variety of one-day and short-notice work which will give me hours around the husband's job.  I'll be doing my first gig this evening.  It is nice to make some money.

Being home with all three children by myself makes the day go by slowly.  Because the kitchen is small, I spend a ton of time washing dishes.  It's annoying.  On the other hand, I have a lot of time to cook and do other things...

Cooking:  Homemade Egg Noodles via The Pioneer Woman

I've made noodles before, many times.  Mostly with a food processor, which brings an ease to the process that is really unmatched.  I haven't made noodles entirely by hand in quite some time, but with the food processor packed in a box, and not much by way of counter space anyway, I decided to make these egg noodles by hand.  It was much easier than I had expected, and when the dough was finished, it really was a dream to work with.  Very easy to roll out and cut.  I added mine to some chicken noodle soup, and the noodles really made the soup something special.

(img via

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Art Thursday -- July 10th

"My Little Ponies"
I forgot to scan in any pictures this week.  This picture is pretty old, but one I've never posted.  I think these ponies are having a party or something.  Pinkie Pie (with the fluffy hair, on the right) seems to be a Maitre'D or something.  Maybe a judge?  Hard to say.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What-What?! Week of July 6th

This week was pretty exciting.  The husband and I took the kids and a friend to the Woodland Park Zoo, which is discussed in this another post.  We had a great time.

We finished getting our car stuff figured out, which was more difficult than getting ourselves licensed, but still not overly so.

Peter now has a job, which he'll be starting this coming week.  It will be nice to have income again.  I'm still looking for a job, but that's neither here nor there.

Writing: My Newest eBook is Published!

I finally finished writing, editing, converting tables and graphs to images, creating a cover, description, and so on.  Now Specialty Grocery Retail Industry Leader Profiles has been published, and is available on Amazon as an eBook.  It covers the leading companies in the specialty grocer industry, with an emphasis on their target markets and how they market themselves.  It's pretty academic, so I expect I'll start getting sales when universities start back in session.

News: Bolivia CongressClock Altered to Turn Anti-Clockwise via BBC News

This is... well, this is just kind of odd.  I mean, it's not something that I wouldn't expect from a country like Bolivia, because little countries like this tend to have some odd aspects.  The idea of it is to question norms and to encourage creativity, as well as the mindfullness that this is a country in the south, not the north.  The north versus south thing I'm not entirely sure what to make of, but I get placing value on creativity.  Of course, is creativity good when it takes a useful object (a clock) and makes it difficult to use?  I'm not so sure.  There are certainly clocks that are art first and functional second, so I suppose this falls into that category.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Woodland Park Zoo Visit and Review -- Everett, WA

Watching hippos eat their breakfast.
The husband and I took the kids and a friend to the Woodland Park Zoo, where we managed to walk through about two-thirds before lunch. This zoo is very large, and has some nifty amenities that make a go-to place even during the rainy season. We arrived at opening, shortly after all the animals had been fed, and the whole place smelled like oat hay. After raising rabbits and alpacas for many years, it was absolutely homey. We saw the elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, hippopotamus, tapirs, orangutans, snakes, a lot of birds, and many other animals that I can't think of right now.
The orangutans also had hay.  They were using it to make nests.
The selection of birds was pretty impressive; they had many different kinds of fowl, including bufflehead ducks, pheasants, and even guinea hens. There were various cranes, and some keas, as well. In one of the aviaries, there were the most adorable Blue Jays (and I mean Blue Jay, not Western Scrub Jay like we see in the wild here), and they were so close -- they didn't seem afraid of us at all.

Elephant, elephant!
We saw a handler give one of the elephants a bath. They wash each elephant's feet several times a day to monitor its condition and keep it healthy. The elephants have a large barn that's sided with glass, so you can look inside from on the patio and watch without being disruptive.

Checking the map while riding on a hippo.
One nice aspect about it being so large is that it never felt crowded. There was enough space in between exhibits to give a bit of a breather in between crowds. On most of the walks between areas, there were things to look at; there were many statues that were available to look at, and in the case of my children, climb on. We didn't realized how crowded the zoo was until we went to get lunch, and there were tons of people.

Beating on the drums.  We were pretty loud.
In addition to the regular zoo fare, the Woodland Park zoo also offers an indoor play area. It had an area for little children to run around in, a playground with slides for older kids, and a variety of blocks and building toys. It was a welcome break for both us and the kids, as they could run around more and do some self-directed activities.
Hiding in a meerkat burrow.
Also in this building is the Nature Exchange, where you can bring in objects you've found in nature --like rocks, leaves, shells, and so on -- and then exchange them for points.  The more information you bring in with you, like if you research what kind of tree a leaf comes from, you get more points.  You can then trade those points for things in the zoo's nature collection.  The husband and I think this would be a great thing to incorporate into our homeschooling efforts, and would be something that the kids would like.  My middle boy all ready has a collection of pinecones, so we'd only need to collect information about them, and bring it with next time we go.
Trying to climb into the animal enclosure.
Next time we go, we're planning on hitting up the entomology building, the farm area, and the arctic area. We'll probably swing around to see the elephants again at the barn, because that's really cool.  And we're definitely going again.  All summer, and probably all winter, too.

I have no idea what's going on here.  I just thought the expressions were funny.

Art Thursday -- July 3rd

"Two Kids Playing"
Saffron makes a lot of pictures like this.  We spend a lot of time outside doing these things, too.