taste_is_sweet: (Totally Tasty!)
Earlier this evening my son was looking at my author's copies of my published work, and asked why most of the short stories were under my real name, but some stories and both novels were by Aundrea Singer.

I explained about pen names, and how I started using the pen name for the gay romances I wrote because I was worried our conservative, fundamentalist neighbors wouldn't let their children play with him anymore if they knew about them. I used the example of this dickwad to remind him that this is how a hell of a lot of people think where we live.

My kid shuddered at the memory of the bigoted dickwad, then said, "I have a suggestion. We take your books to that guy, and do this...."

I thought he was going to mime giving the books to him, and was about to explain why it was a sweet idea but wouldn't make any difference.

My kid actually mimed using the books to hit the bigot over the head.

I love my kid.

The paper says "I wrote this". He thought it was hilarious.
Mommy wrote it

taste_is_sweet: (Joy)
One of the many, many things I love about being a parent is all the ways my kid surprises me. I mean, I like to think I know him pretty well by now, but he still amazes me all the time. Especially when he gives me an opportunity to look at something in a way I'd never thought of before.

Monday during dinner, he sat down at the table and gave a big, heartfelt sigh. Naturally my first thought was that he had a problem with the food (not uncommon, alas). But when I asked him it turned out he was thinking about a YouTube video he watched part of before dinner.

Apparently the video--which was about the Minecraft computer game--had a title in English but soundtrack entirely in Russian. Javier had read some of the comments, and he was upset for the vidders because so many people had said rude, hateful things to them over the language.

This is exactly what they look like.
Troll

We discussed the concept of 'Trolls' on the internet. He'd learned about it in the context of 'pranking' from other videos, but not as referring to someone who purposely writes hurtful posts or comments just to upset people.

He didn't get why anyone would want to do that. He also didn't understand how people could watch videos on YouTube and then 'dislike' them with the thumbs-down button. Then he told me that he always clicks on the 'like' button before he watches a video. If he ends up not liking the video he just goes to something else.

And I looked at my amazing, generous sweetheart of an 8 year-old kid and I have to admit I got a little teary. Because he clicks 'like' to acknowledge people's effort, and thank them just for wanting to share. And I swear to God that never, ever, even occurred to me.

Sure, I have my own philosophy that if I read an entire fanfic story I give the author a 'kudo' or comment. And sure, I have to basically dislike a story enough to stop reading it before I won't do that. But to just thank something for writing a fic in the first place? No way.

It's because I'm an author myself, and I know from both fandom and the professional book industry that in real life, no one is going to reward you for something just because you went to the effort of making it. It's all about putting your stuff out there and hoping to hell you'll either get a positive response or hoping to hell you're thick-skinned enough not to care.

I'm never thick-skinned enough not to care, but that's my problem. And the last thing I would ever want is for someone to leave a comment, or kudos, or even pay me money as a 'thanks for coming out' consolation prize.

And yet.

Somewhere along the line, among the millions of pieces of fanficton and art and videos and published stuff, I forgot that someone actually went to the trouble of making it in the first place. Maybe not for me specifically, but for the joy of creating something and sharing it, in the hope that others would enjoy it too.

Just because the ability to create is so easy these days doesn't make the act of creating itself any less meaningful, or any less worthy of acknowledgement. Jav may not always like what his parents make for dinner, but I make sure that he thanks us anyway, because we went to the trouble of doing it. And gratitude is never a bad thing.

It's humbling that my son was the one to remind me of that. I hope I don't forget it again.



The illustration is by Rien Poortvliet

taste_is_sweet: (The Best Part of Disney Land)
My darling, wonderful child (whom I adore), is eight years old (as I've mentioned), and thinks that Minecraft is better than anything not made of chocolate and peanut butter. He's actually gotten really good at building himself houses and armor and such, but what he really, really wants in the whole wide world is some friends to come visit his world (and build a pirate ship with him).

Unfortunately, aside from one kid-friendly server that is currently not being terribly parent-friendly, the dizzying array of multi-player Minecraft servers out there seem to be all adult-oriented, which is fine as long as the adults in question aren't typing too fast in chat and/or mainly interested in murdering their fellow avatars.

So, in an optimistic attempt to not end up having to listen to my darling, wonderful child lament about how he doesn't have any Minecraft friends until the end of time (and/or high school), I turn to you, o, best-beloveds.

Do any of you either a) play Minecraft on a machine that can connect to the interweebs and wouldn't mind helping a kid build a pirate ship? Or, b) do any of you have/know children who would be interested in helping another child build a pirate ship?

Apparently I can make a multi-player server, but I need to have specific people to invite. Otherwise, I'd be happy to send Jav's avatar off to find a buddy if I knew which server they used and what their username was. Minecraft makes me seasick as hell, or I'd try it myself.

If you can and want to come play, or know someone who would, please PM me or feel free to leave a comment and I'd be very happy to PM you instead. :)

I thank you in advance, and so does my sanity.
taste_is_sweet: (What?)
Tell me, my dear ones, what would you do if, on Halloween, your child came home with this note in her treat bag?

All that yummy fat shaming!
 photo Letteredited.jpg

Oh yes, that is real. It's also everywhere on the internet, though to check its legitimcacy I found it here at USA Today and here at Global News in Canada.

The woman, who probably regrets sending the letter to her local radio station, apparently sees it as her duty to solve the problem of childhood obesity by refusing to give the lil' chunky monkeys candy one night a year. Not only that, but by informing the obviously ignorant parents that their child is too fat to deserve candy. On Halloween.

You can probably tell what I think about this, but the first thing I thought when I saw this wasn't 'that's mean', but 'that's stupid'. How can this woman purport to know which child is 'moderately obese'? And what, exactly, is her criteria? Unlike adults, determining the BMI range for children is far more complicated. Worse, it's not even terribly accurate. If you can't tell if a child is at a healthy weight by measuring, how can you tell just by looking? And who or what gave her the right anyway?

I'm not sure how she thinks this is going to help. First of all, it's pretty damn likely that the parents already know. Second, telling a kid that they're too fat for candy isn't motivating, it's humiliating. And--which I'm sure comes as a big surprise to absolutely no one--fat shaming doesn't work. And it certainly won't work if some person the child likely doesn't even know shoves a note into their treat bag.

As other people said in comments on the sites carrying this story: if you don't want to contribute to childhood obesity, then don't give candy. Give stickers, or raisins, or pencils. Or turn off the porch light and don't give anything at all.

Personally, I'd much rather be known as the stingy neighbor who's never home on Halloween than the bitch who humiliated someone else's child. Though she might end up known as the house everybody toiletpapers or eggs. After all, it takes a village to do some serious pranking.

taste_is_sweet: (Pills)
Yeah, so, if everyone's saying you need to get the flu shot? Don't wait until January to do it. Because chances are it'll be too late by then. Like it was with me! It turns out that my poor little boy had already caught the flu a few days before we got the vaccine, and my husband and I caught it from him. Which was well-deserved, considering how much we suck as parents for not getting him the vaccine earlier.

Having the flu sucks, by the way. In case any of you were wondering. ::whines::

Don't let this happen to you, kids! Get the flu vaccine!
taste_is_sweet: (Carry This Weight)
Yeah, I was mostly fine the whole weekend after learning about the school shooting on Friday, but today it seems I can't stop seeing things about it and I keep crying. Maybe because Jav's in school. I keep putting myself in the place of all those parents who lost their precious little boy or girl on Friday. And all those kids who were only five and six and who died frightened and wanting their mommies and daddies.

Obviously, I shouldn't do that. It's not doing me any good and it's not like it helps anyone, least of all me. But I can't not. I don't have very strong boundaries at the best of times and things like this tend to throw me. A lot.

I'll probably be fine tomorrow. But maybe I'll get my kid early today.
taste_is_sweet: (The Best Part of Disney Land)
In October, Javier wanted to take some of the seeds from his Halloween pumpkin and see if it would grow.

And it did! )
taste_is_sweet: (American Dream)
Naturally it also highlights one of the many, many ways that Canada rocks, though to be fair the article title should have been: "Five Places Where You're Not Required By Your Job To Work Yourself to Death", rather than, "5 Countries Where You Don't Have to Work Yourself to Death to Make Ends Meet". As a Canuck living in the US, I know for a fact that there are many places in Canada where it can be very, very hard to make ends meet without two salaries (though if you have two you can still live well, if not extravagantly). What sucks here isn't necessarily the money-earning part (where I live now we can actually live more extravagantly on one salary than my sister can with two; but she's in a big city and I'm in a small one), but how bad the money can be if you don't have a highly specialized job. The lack of a federally-mandated minimum wage is terrible, but the lack of mandated maternity leaves and vacation is even worse. In Canada you get a full year off with 60 percent of your salary, and the time can be divided between each parent as they like. And I think that the government was thinking about making it two years, if only to save themselves the financial hassle of having to create federally-funded daycare.

But I will say that at least here in Texas (and maybe that's just here, here in Texas), we have better after-school care available than what my sister does in Toronto. We have "Kid's Klub", which has an awful name but is safe, fun and remarkably inexpensive, and is an after-school care that happens right in each school in this board.

Anyway, the article is here, if you're still interested. :)

5 Countries Where You Don't Have to Work Yourself to Death to Make Ends Meet | Alternet
taste_is_sweet: (Carry This Weight)
My son is supposed to be starting kindergarten in August at the local school. I realize this isn't such a big deal--my child is hardly the first five year-old to do this--but I get anxious if I don't feel like I know exactly what I should be doing, especially when someone is depending on me. And even though the stupid school is within walking distance of my house, I have no idea what the fuck I'm supposed to do.

Apparently the registration will be some time in May, but there's no info on that yet. There is also a special bilingual Spanish/English kindergarten I'd like to get my son into, but I have no idea about that, either. Apparently I need to do something to get his language abilities appraised, but I don't know how to do that, either. The website for the school board is about as unintuitive for me as a grad-level physics class, and the pages for the local school aren't any better. And all I was able to find out when I called the school was that I needed to keep checking the website.

So I've contacted a friend of mine who will also be sending her child to the same kindergarten and who is the one who told me about the bilingual classes in the first place. She always knows what to do for things like this, or the magic words or links to use to get the information if she doesn't. I don't know why she's so much better at these things than I am, but she is. At least she can help me. I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm so upset about my inability to find out this simple information that everyone should be able to know that I'm sitting here in tears. My son needs me to know this stuff and I don't know anything. I'm meant to be an adult but I can't even navigate the fucking local school board. And there are so many things I could have enrolled him in but I haven't--sports clubs, sports lessons, extra-curricular activities--and one of the big reasons I haven't is because it scares me. I'd have to get him there and I don't drive. I'd have to deal with all the other suburban parents who always seem to know what the hell they're doing when I feel like I never do. I don't really want to be a soccer or softball or whatever mom, but meanwhile Jav isn't getting to play in a team sport. At least we'll get him swimming lessons once the pools open. I suppose that's something.

Sometimes I really wish I just had someone who would always be able to tell me what to do. Mostly I just wish I was better. At everything.
taste_is_sweet: (Don't Panic)
As some of you may remember, birthday parties around here are kind of a big deal. And with birthday season hitting twice a year (didn't anyone pop a kid between February and May? Seriously?), Javier's already been invited to two parties and it's not even the end of January, and he's got two more this Saturday.

Now, College Station is a pretty small city. Bryan, the city right next door (there's a rather hilarious statue of a--white, naturally--boy and girl smiling joyously and holding hands at the 'border' between both cities, each looking boldly towards the future and their respective towns. I'm not kidding) is even smaller, so as you might imagine there aren't that many places where an ambitious parent can throw the kind of birthday party to which her child and all his or her classmates have become accustomed. This more than occasionally results in two children in Javier's class having conflicting parties at different places on the same day (we always go to the party with the parents who sent the invitation first), or two different parties on the same day at the same venue. This has happened twice since the summer. Most recently the parties even overlapped, though the parents were clever enough to just combine them. Phew!

The lesson here, parents and prospective parents, is to send out your birthday invitations as early as humanly possible. So far the record is two months in advance. You can't be too careful.

Both invitations were professionally printed, by the way. Just sayin'.
taste_is_sweet: (What?)
(Psst! Don't forget to tell me a strange story and win a book!)

To say that the small city I live in is home to a majority of practicing Christians would be kind of like saying if you visit Israel you might find some Jews. This is a city where it's common to see businesses promoting themselves with the fish symbol for Christians follower, or a big sign saying, 'I ♥ Jesus' on the wall in my son's preschool. I've been asked repeatedly if I believe in God during casual conversations. Once I had to explain to a teacher that the Torah doesn't normally include the New Testament.

With this as his daily environment, it's not terribly surprising that Javier has come home from school to solemnly announce that "Jesus is rainbow-coloured," and to make sure I know that Jesus can fly. He drew a picture of a church as a gift for his teacher (the one with the 'I ♥ Jesus' sign), and she gave him a hug and asked him if he went to church too.

Last Wednesday, a very large but completely harmless wolf spider came crawling across the kitchen floor right where Javier was removing his shoes. He did his usual 'I-think-I'm-culturally-required-to-react-like-this' cringe and scream thing then watched until it disappeared under the shoe shelf, doubtless to end up as a snack for one of the cats.

Then Javier said, "Spiders belong to Jesus."

Dom and I looked at each other.

"You mean, Jesus made spiders?" I tried, thinking that either Jav or one of his friends at school had misremembered the creation story from the Bible, and wondering how I could steer the conversation (again) to Mommy and Daddy's atheism while still encouraging Jav's belief in magic and Santa Claus. (Early childhood is all about cognitive dissonance. Don't look at me like that.)

"No," Javier said. "Jesus didn't make spiders. They belong to him. And ants."

"Who told you this?" I asked, now confused as hell.

It turned out it was his teacher, and after several more minutes of circular questions and answers and a very frustrated five-year old, the flummoxed parents were finally told this:

One of my kid's classmates at school had purposely stepped on some ants. The teacher had told him not to, because ants belong to Jesus. I'm afraid I don't remember how Jesus ended up being the patron saint of Arachnids as well; it's possible Jav's teacher said so, or Jav decided it himself since spiders are also freaky and creepy-crawly. It's horrible! It must belong to Jesus!

His teacher didn't say why Jesus has this particular relationship with arthropods however, which is where my brain exploded. I ended up fumbling around a simplified version of why some people might think that Jesus owns the world by proxy until Javier's eyes glazed over and he asked if he could watch TV.

I'm sure that at this point Javier thinks that Jesus was a real man who was killed because he was rainbow-coloured and who lives in the sky but not really and who can't grant wishes because you need rainbows to make a wish, except Jesus is rainbow-coloured so maybe he can, and he doesn't own the world but does own ants and spiders and lived a Long Time Ago but not when the world was a baby world and there were dinosaurs.

I'll just be over here contemplating the psychiatrist bills. And mopping up my brain.
taste_is_sweet: (Imagination Movers!)
This has definitely been The Year of Things Not Quite Turing Out as I Planned.

Case in point: My son's Halloween costume.

::deep sigh:: )
taste_is_sweet: (Aliens Made Me)
My son officially turns five on Monday. His party is on Saturday. I really, really hate birthday parties.

Cut because this is longer than I thought it would be... )
taste_is_sweet: (Default)
A long long time ago (and how much does it age me that I always want to add, I can still remember...) the fine people of Hasbro put out a line of twee cute little PVC ponies called, appropriately enough, My Little Pony.

I'll admit it right now: I kind of wanted one. Unfortunately for my teen self, not only was I technically too old at the time to buy wee little pony dollies without crippling embarrassment (of course nowadays I collect action figures ::cough::), my parents had well indoctrinated me with the notion that strong, capable females never went for cutsey, girly things, especially cutsey, girly things that were big-eyed and decorated in shades of complimentary pastels.

Cut to...a depressing number of years later (okay, I'm 38 as of this June. I can feel 40 breathing on my neck like a greyhound). I'm now the forever-proud and grateful mother of a son who I can say with complete objectivity is the best little boy in the whole wide world. And naturally, because his mommy played with things like Hotwheels cars and Star Wars action figures, my fantastic child has decided that My Little Pony is the coolest toy ever invented.

The upshot is that because the most recent versions of the ponies are kind of terrifying, I've been hanging out on eBay a lot, buying 'vintage' ponies that actually still look generally equine-like, rather than like mutant llamas.

I'll admit here to a vicarious pleasure in being able to buy all the cool Little Ponies that I could never let myself have back in the 80s, but what I hadn't thought about while adding to my son's collection would be that he would expect me to play ponies with him. All the time.

So here I am, a woman who used to dress up her very few Barbies as bounty hunters and turned her Ken-analogue into a computer programmer with cyborg attachments (the dog ate one of his hands and one of his feet--I was forced to be creative), now spending a good chunk of every evening (and every morning, and every bathtime) sitting on the living room floor practicing eight-handed dialogue via such epic adventures as the ponies naming their pets or going to work, going home, getting up and going to work, going home, repeat, repeat, repeat.

This evening Jav changed things up when he had Sundae's pet Koala Sherbert (I have no idea what most of the ponies are called so we just make the names up) ate Pinkie Pie's mane thinking it was eucalyptus leaves, then proceeded to vomit on everything in Ponyville, which degenerated into a very slow game of chase with plastic animals as the ponies tried to catch the koala and take her to the doctor before their town drowned in a sea of vomit. Which, as you might suspect, they never managed to do. It was a tragic saga of bile and endless pony baths.

I love playing with my son, even if his current pony obsession is not my favourite thing ever. I'd just expected it would be dinosaurs, you know? Or Star Wars action figures. Boy stuff. Like what I played with. :D

But now I'm thinking of buying myself a customized Little Pony on eBay, to go with my customized Stargate action figures. One with dragon wings would be cool.
taste_is_sweet: (My Beautiful Boy)
As you all might have guessed by the lack of truly cool icons made by myself, my artistic ability doesn't really extend to anything physical. This means that when it comes to Hallowe'en costumes, I need to rely on creativity rather than talent.

Luckily Javier has only been through three Hallowe'ens so far and hasn't wanted anything particularly complicated (I was very happy his urge to go as Eve from Wall-E was short-lived).

Last year when he was three he agreed it'd be cool to go as a monster, so I improvised up one monster suit:

Grrr! )

How I made it )

And this year he wanted a kitty costume )

All-in all I have to say I'm pretty proud of myself. I hadn't tried to make anything costume-like in years, and I wasn't sure I could manage it. I also remembered being embarrassed by my own costuming attempts as a child. I (obviously) know nothing about makeup and I can't sew a seam, but Javier ended up looking fine all the same. Mostly, though, I hope he'll remember how happy his mommy was to spend this time and effort for one day of the year. He's certainly worth it, and I want him to always know that.
taste_is_sweet: (Tiny Beach)
I love the advertisements I get from my GMail server. Because I mentioned somewhere that I'm interested in babies (well I was, for the obvious reason that I had one), I'm occasionally bombarded with adverts for special baby products.

Check this one out.

I swear I laughed out loud when I realized that they're pretty much selling big mixing bowls as special baby baths. You have to admit, it's brilliant--I probably could have used one when Jav was just a couple of weeks old and I was trying to figure out how to wash his back without accidentally drowning him (though I think with this tub the obstacle would be how to wash the kid's back without tipping the bowl over). There's also the question of having enough water to rinse, though maybe you're not meant to use soap.

Oh, while I'm on baby baths, since there's at least one person on my FList who's expecting a child and will probably want to wash them at some point, Burt's Bees Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap was fantastic. I used it for the first six months, until my son's skin wasn't too sensitive for Johnson's products. I also recommend Johnson's 'Moisturizing Bedtime Bath'.

You can get big mixing bowls at dollar stores, if you want to go that route, though getting a bath seat might be a better bet. I ended up just climbing into the tub with Jav until he was big enough to stand on his own. ;->
Tags:
taste_is_sweet: (Tiny Beach)
So, my son has to get out of bed to use the potty....

Cut here for stuff about poo. Funny stuff, though, I swear. )

Wonders never ceasing, lemme tell ya. Yep.
taste_is_sweet: (Cake!)
This afternoon, with no prompting whatsoever, my son picked up all his toys in the living room. (Almost) all by himself. He just wandered in, announced that he was picking up his toys, and away he went.

And while I was standing there agog and offering to help him (which he refused until it came to picking up his cars), he told me that he was putting his toys away so that his daddy would have a clear path to walk. His daddy is disabled, so not having to step over or around a gantlet of toys is very important.

I was almost in tears. I mean, my son is three. And while I know that's not unusually early to show altruism, and I also know that tidying up is one of the big activities at his daycare (he was even repeating what his teacher apparently says to the children while he does it), this was the first time to my recollection that he had specifically wanted to do something to make life easier for his daddy. He's certainly been eager to help before when I've asked him--both for his daddy and just to be helpful in general--but this time he did it all on his own and for his daddy.

Like I said, almost in tears. I can't even articulate how much that meant to me. My thoughtful little boy.

Sometimes (ach, most of the time) I hate the fact that Javier can't have a daddy like his friends, someone who can wrestle with him and take him to the park, throw baseballs and race and carry Javier on his shoulders the way most daddies do. Every time Jav and I talk about how his daddy is different and walks slowly and can't climb stairs, I try to emphasize all the things his daddy can do, like read him stories and sing to him, or bake cookies with him or cuddle on the couch or play games at the kitchen table. Sometimes I worry that one day all that won't be enough, that Javier will see the other daddies and realize what he really doesn't have and feel bereft. I do my best to take up the slack, but there's only so much I can do.

So, that's why it means so much to me that Javier already recognizes that his daddy is different, and is willing to accommodate him. It makes me hopeful that Javier will always accept his father for who he is, limitations and all. And that helping his father won't feel like a burden.

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