Sunday, March 29, 2015

What-What?! Week of March 29th

Thursday, I died.  Actually, I didn't die, I just did all the housework.  So I didn't post.  So that happened.

Took Saffron to her Girl Scouts meeting this week, which is extra fun now, because I have to take the boys with me too.  The two of them can be a terrible handful, between Oz just wanting to run around, and Corwin wanting to be just as involved in scouts as Saffron.  So I took them shopping.

Peter's birthday was yesterday, so I made cupcakes.  Really simple spice cake with cream cheese frosting.  I made two dozen, and there are only five of us here, so there'll be lots and lots of sugar eaten in the coming days.

I went to the store to buy Poptarts, but they didn't have the kind I like, so I didn't.  I have eaten cereal for breakfast nearly every day for something like two weeks.  I need to do some cooking so I have something else to eat.

Top Gear Shouldn't Go on Without Jeremy Clarkson via Wired

If you haven't been following the news, you may not know that Clarkson has been canned from Top Gear.  While his actions are deplorable (berating and hitting producer), the show in its current format is his brain child.  The variety of humor, the pace, the challenges, the topics (useful consumer advice, anyone?), they're all based on Clarkson's vision.  I agree with this author that Top Gear needs to end; it will not be the same headlined by someone else.  Hammond and May have also left the show, so there's very little that will remain the same or even similar.

Probably the most entertaining bit about this whole thing is James May.  He has, without a doubt, released more information than anyone else, while still remaining entertaining.  His Twitter page tells of his daily struggles as an unemployed man, including his plan to play the British Grenadiers on a recorder.  His first piece is Greensleeves, hungover and on a boat:

Next week, I'll have big news and lots more to talk about.  Stay tuned! :D

Sunday, March 22, 2015

What-What?! Week of March 22nd

(Posted late because I slept in.)

We have now spent the last two and a half weeks with someone in the house being sick.

I am done with it.

We're not even all done being sick yet.  The husband just got whatever on earth it is that I have.

Anyway. :[

My neighbors amuse me greatly.  The neighbor who parks to one side of us has an aftermarket car alarm, and uses The Club to lock his car (day and night).  The neighbor that parks to the other side of us frequently leaves her car running, unlocked, with the keys in the ignition.  The juxtaposition between the two is just hilarious.

Granted, Everett is not known for its safety -- in fact, it's rather known for the opposite (ranked there as #11 worst city on this crime index).  But still, our apartment complex is actually quite nice; crime is low.  Down the street is a different story, but right here is okay.

My Son and Lego Designer Interviews

While the husband is at work, I let my kids play on his computer.  Sometimes they play Minecraft, other times they play educational games, and sometimes they just play games.  Recently, my son has practically been living on the Lego website.  The fact that it's related to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, ninjas, and the usual mix of Lego sets is just a huge hit with him.

Normally he just plays games, but this past week, he went onto the Lego Lord of the Rings website and looked through the product catalog, which also included interviews with some of the designers. 
One of the designers has such a thick accent, though!  I am not entirely sure what he is saying.  The other guys are very clear.  One of them actually discusses some of the design iterations they went through, so that's pretty cool.  My son watched all the videos twice.  Maybe he'll grow up to be a Lego designer. :P

Oh!  So the most important part of today: It is my eighth wedding anniversary!  Lots of love to my husband. <3

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Art Thursday -- March 19th

"Brownie Girl Scout Paper Doll"
This is a brownie paper doll, complete with a large variety of accessories.  My kid has been so sick this past week that she's barely done any art at all -- this is one of maybe 3 pictures?  She spent a couple days laying on the recliner staring at the world.  She's still sick now, but a doing a lot better.
She's also gotten me sick. D:

Sunday, March 15, 2015

What-What?! Week of March 15th

This week has been eventful; my husband has been promoted, which is excellent.  I'm really excited by the opportunities this promotion opens up for him.  The increase in pay is nice, too. :P

I took Saffron to her Girl Scout meeting, and that went well.  We're starting to get into earning badges and doing activities in the little workbook thing.  They had strawberries and whipped cream to celebrate the founder's birthday.

Saffron and Oz both seem to be sick again, with runny noses and general tiredness.  I thought it might be allergies, but Saffron also has a fever and is just miserable.  Poor kid fell asleep watching TV yesterday afternoon, which almost never happens.

Backyard Bird Identifier via National Geographic
This is very cool.  I took Saffron out to walk around the lake this past weekend, and we both saw a pretty wide variety of birds.  I was trying to figure out what one of the song birds we saw was, and stumbled upon this bird finder.  You input facts about the bird you saw, and it gives you illustrated options on what it might be.  We saw an American Robin (female one, I think), Canada Geese, American Coots, and Wood Ducks (last two are not in the guide).  Since we moved, this is probably the most diverse I've seen the lake in terms of water birds.  I plan on using this and the information in the bird profiles to create some bird ID cards with the two big kids.  I think they'll really enjoy it.

Print Lego-Compatible Bricks!

I have no idea how to use this one!
 Finally, something useful to make with 3D printers! (Other than all those other uses...).

These are really cool, and I could see this as a great way to make your own sets.  I'd like to know if they are as good as actual Lego bricks, because I've tried some of the other brands in commercial production, and they just aren't as good.  They do okay, but just don't hold as well, and that's pretty important.  Especially since my boys like to smash spaceships together still. :P

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Art Thursday -- March 12th

"A Marine Biologist"
For the past few months, Saffron has insisted that she wants to be a hotel manager when she grows up.  A few times, she's said that she wants to be a scientist.  Last week, she decided that she wants to be a marine biologist, an interest that the Octonauts show definitely had something to do with.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

What-What?! Week of March 8th

Everyone in the house is sick.  It sucks.

I finally ironed patches onto everything, any by everything, I mean Saffron's Girl Scout sash, and the big kid's Lowe's aprons (they get a patch for each project they complete).

This weekend, Amazon sent me a "don't you want to buy stuff?!" email, with links to various genres.  The most interesting one it chose for me was Graphic Novel Biographies.  There are some pretty neat selections in there, some with better reviews than others (the Immanuel Kant one is very poorly rated).  Of course, you have to read the reviews closely, as the one 2-star review on Escape to Gold Mountain shows; the woman giving the review trashes it because it's not suitable for children.  Of course it's not suitable for children; it's written for adults, like many other graphic novels.  Seems like the same sort of person who would be surprised and horrified at the amount of gore in Princess Mononoke.

At any rate, I may be buying some books soon... assuming the library doesn't have them. :P

The American Girl Brand and Extravagance

My daughter has recently been obsessed with the American Girl catalogues (link to online version).  We have two now, a winter and a spring, and she pages through them nearly every day.  Earlier this week, she thought I was throwing away one of them, and was seriously distraught.  Often, she'll draw detailed pictures inspired by the scenes and products showcased on its pages.

I view the whole thing with mixed feelings.

I like the American Girl books.  I bought a set as a kid, and I treasured it.  I still have it.  The history in the books is really why I loved them, but there was also the connection with the characters, who were my age and dealing with some of the same daily issues (having to do chores, disagreeing with your parents, etc.).
Sweet Shoppe?  Check!
However, American Girl products are extravagant in every single detail.  The line of dolls is fine.  But what about all the other stuff?  Literally hundreds of accessories.  Doll-sized books?  A sweet shop set, complete with clothes, furniture, fake treats, an so on?  Oh, now they have dogs!  There are also babies.  And these are just the products.  The stores take to the next level.  The first time we went to one of the stores, I was just floored.  They have a café, and a salon that styles doll hair:
The café
The salon.
It is perfectly reasonable to argue that this isn't any different than Barbie, or My Little Pony, or what have you.  But I don't get Barbie and MLP magazines sent to my house, and they certainly do not have such luxurious stores, nor such ridiculous prices.

The article that brought on these thoughts was an opinion piece published in the Huffington Post this past holiday season, titled Why I Won't Be Buying an American Girl Doll This Year.  The photos of the other, less expensive dolls lying mangled in various places rung true.  My daughter tends to have more care for our current dolls, but her two brothers definitely do not have that same sense of care.  The boys seem to like the baby dolls better, but more so than that, they enjoy pretending to be babies themselves (when they play this way, hearing their high-pitched voices go even higher is both hilarious and deeply annoying).  My kids are too rough and tumble for American Girl dolls, just like I was as a kid.  Between that and my annoyance at the extravagance, we're not buying an American Girl doll.

(images from the NY TimesYahoo! NewsEvergreen Power Systems, MyOnCell Mobi Tours)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Art Thursday -- March 5th

"Easter! Easter! Easter!"
For whatever reason, my kids love Easter.  Like, they'll tell you that their favorite holiday is Halloween or Christmas, but they're always drawing pictures of Easter.  A week before Christmas, they were drawing the Easter bunny.  It's Halloween?  Better draw an Easter basket!
We don't even do anything that special!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What-What?! Week of March 1st

Last week was crazy, while this week was just a grind.  It hit Wednesday, and I was ready for it to be the weekend.

I spent most of my time at work this week reading drivel from sexist, racist, homophobic websites (usually any two, but some had all three!).  It has been a huge reminder of how repugnant people can be.

I have also read many conspiracy theories this week, but thankfully the people who frequent those websites seem to be far less offensive.  Sometimes quite strange, but probably harmless.

I still have it way, way, way better than the people who work as internet content reviewers.

Anyway, on to happier things.

Took my daughter to her second Girl Scouts meeting.  She had an excellent time, though it was a bit disorganized.  This is a new troop, though, and no one has ever been a troop leader before.  So, yeah.  It'll get better, I'm sure.  They learned the pledge, and the law, and some songs.

Yesterday, I took the two big kids to Lowe's to do the Build and Grow project.  For various reasons, we've missed the last two, so it'd been a while.  They both seem to have improved their hammering skills a lot, and did a lot more without help this time.

A Visual History of United States Spacesuits via Imgur

I saw this through Reddit, and it is a fascinating read.  All the facts that I checked seemed to be right on, so it's pretty accurate, too.  It was interesting to see how the boots changed over time; sometimes looking like plain old leather boots (that first one!), sometimes looking suitably astronautical.

There's also some interesting discussion and links on the Reddit thread here, though watch out, as Reddit can be vulgar.