Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When you let your kids watch Big Bang Theory

Last night I made beef roast with Spanish rice and yams for dinner. My 14 year old looked at the food askance, took a slice of beef, tasted it.
"Wow, this is actually pretty good. Have a nickel".
Then my 12 year old asked, "If I eat rice, do I have to have yams?" When I said no she gave me 11 cents.
Then the 14 year old made his fatal error and asked my husband how much the turbinado seat salt cocoa almonds at Trader Joes are.
"Hey, you kids are trying to operant condition me!"
The 14 year old tried to claim in a too innocent voice that he would NEVER do anything that devious.
Later, while kicking back with some Quantum leap with the older two, my husband served them brownies. Delicious, gluten free walnutty browies. Before heading off to bed, the gothgirl came out and gave him a penny. He looked at me, confused. "You gave her a brownie. She's conditioning you to keep doing that."
The pennies don't do it for me but if they lay in the cocoa almonds....? It would totally work.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Climate of Change by Piers Anthony (adult content warning)

Climate of Change is the fifth and final book in Piers Anthony's Geodyssy series. I've been reading them since Isle of Woman came out, which will be no surprise to those know know my interest in the evolution of man. Not just the nuts and bolts, but what PEOPLE did as they evolved both physically and could we have in fact influenced the path of our own evolution through our actions? That's led to me reading everything from popular science such as the Leakey's People of the Lake , to Jean Auel's Children of Earth series. Being familiar with Anthony's work, and this series in particular, I knew that this book would include quite a bit of what I call "paleosmut"; I term I coined thanks to Auel's work. (Although the Geodyssy books go up through modern times and into the near future)
Now, I'll digress a minute and say this. I'm a grown up, and I sometimes read books with sex. And my attitude toward sex in the books I read is...indifferent. I don't seek out books for the sex scenes, and I don't get all holier than thou and refuse to read books with sex. But...I am less indifferent when the scenes involve rape or pedophilia. That will usually have me putting the book down. This time I didn't.
Why? I've read enough of Anthony's work to be familiar with the dirty old man the shines through in almost every book he writes, no matter how oblique or graphic the sex is. He very much favours young (underage, even) nubile women who flaunt their bodies and find gratification not through their own pleasure, but by pleasing men. I stopped reading Xanth years ago, even though that was the more oblique end. However, the Geodyssy series is a more scholarly work that ties into one of my long standing interests. I have to say that the main reason I finished this book was the sense of's the last book in a series I had devoured, despite the lopsided sex and cannibalism.  (In a series with this much sex, you'd think that being squicked out by penis eating would mean you were talking about oral sex. Nooooo....that would have been a mercy). That, and so I could review it for you. Prehistory and history buffs may still find plenty in the book to enjoy it, but if rape in almost every chapter coupled with a certain amount of incest and pedophilia turns you off, you're better off leaving it on the shelf.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

Love your librarian? I do, and so does author Marilyn Johnson. In today's fast paced digital world, our librarians are more important than ever. They are forging ahead on the digital frontiers, learning how to navigate it, and then acting as living, breathing GPS units for library patrons- free of charge. This is incredibly important in a time when people are losing their jobs or are being downsized, and need technology to help them get ahead; when parents can't afford the digital resources their children need to succeed at school. All the while librarians are continuing to archive the past, integrating technology and good old paper storage, and oh, protecting our right to have our library records remain private.
Our librarians have always been important, and now they are more valuable than ever. Read this book in honour of your favourite librarian. Mine is Friendly Neighborhood Librarian , who was my kids' storytime librarian for years and continues to be in their lives as they have long been reading novels.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why pro life is not always about religion.

My mother was a mentally ill, indigent poor woman in an abusive relationship when she got pregnant with me. When she was 3 months pregnant she started bleeding, and her docs told her to get a D&C because "if your child's still alive it will be so deformed you'll wish you'd never given birth" . She had me any way, I wasn't deformed (I did have turned in ankles that required braces for a few months, and later corrective shoes). Yes,I was raised poor, and my father was abusive. But you know what? I've always been DAMN happy to be alive and that's made me anti- abortion; because according to pro choice wisdom the chance of someone like me being born is the reason for abortion rights. And BTW, I have not repeated the past- I've been married 18 years, own a home, held down the same job for 13 years, and have three beautiful intelligent children who think "abuse " is broccoli for dinner.   

I do know a handful of agnostic or atheist pro lifers. Like many people with a strong opinion one way or another, their reason are often very personal. And one thing I can say....they tend to be even more dogmatic about their pro life position than religious pro lifers. I don't know if it's because with no belief in a soul they see the death of the fetus all fully permanent, or if no belief in a deity means they see no one for a woman who regrets her decision to ask forgiveness of. Or some reason I can't fathom, and /or a combination thereof.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What rocks about having a goth child

During my teens and most of my  adulthood, one of the style playgrounds I loved to play on was Goth. I don't call myself Goth because I like other style playgrounds the mood or situation inspires me.
This is a good thing for my middle child and only daughter.
I clearly remember the day she made a complete 360 and embraced her gothness. At the time she was 9, and still into the pink frilly princessy stuff she had been into since she could walk and point- My Little Ponies, Disney princesses, and princess gowns. We had gone on a yard sale walk on a sunny Saturday, just the two of us. We came upon a moving sale with a pile of Halloween tchothchkes. The girl wanted them, and she was offered the bag for a dollar. Given that she has a tiny room in a small house, I asked her what she was going to get rid of to have all that stuff. Without reservation she replied, "My bin of Ponies!"
Over the next month, the Ponies weren't the only thing to go. Princesses, pink dresses, it all went, replaced over the course of that yard sale summer with black clothes and old Halloween decorations.
She's 12 now, more goth than ever, and we're still having fun with it.

So now, for the skeptical, who want to know why a parent should ever encourage their child in being Goth; who think that their Goth child will be evil, depressed, and prone to suicide, I'll tell you why. (By the way, the latter part of that sentence represents the very silliest of thinking)

Most importantly, sunscreen
While other kids are out tanning, your gothling will be in the shade, slathered in sunscreen, trying to be as pale as possible (As you can see, my babybat just got the wrong genes for that). Isn't it nice knowing you kid won't be prone to melanoma?

It goes with everything.
If you've ever seen your kid emerge from their room in the morning and have to bite back a "Did you dress in the dark, with your eyes closed?" you'll appreciate this.

Justin Bieber and Hannah Montana
I DARE you to find a gothling that listens to them!

Gift giving made easy
I, and a couple of family friends, know the best day of the year to buy my gothling's Christmas and birthday presents. November 1st, the day all the Halloween stuff goes on sale for 70% off (take note). If you miss that, and you get an invite to a Goth kid's birthday party, go grab a few jars of black nail polish. Trust me, it's a sure thing.

Classic Literature
How many kids will choose to get collections of Poe from the library to read over the summer? Your babybat will, and if you're awesomely lucky she'll decide to translate The Raven into Latin.

Also Most Importantly
Your kid needs your love, acceptance, and the ability to try on different personas in a safe way. You, the parent, are the one who needs to provide that. I DO believe investing in some black nail polish and crushed velvet (or whatever it is your kid wants to enjoy) now will benefit your life long relationship, and maybe keep them from going out and going wild as older teens and adults because they had no chance to explore who they are at home. Give them this gift. Let your kid pick your clothes sometimes, and bond with them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Magic (tm) as a parenting tool

No, sorry to say, I have not found a spell that will make your children clean their rooms. (By the way, Jedi mind tricks don't work on kids either). I'm talking about the collectible card game, Magic The Gathering .
The Dungeon Master and I had been playing Magic since Limited (though we started collecting cards with Unlimited) and when we started having kids, we had to put the cards away most of the time, for a while. But not completely. We started the kids on the game early, and you could say they've grown up on the game every bit as much as Godzilla and Star Trek. I've found playing Magic with your  kids has a slew of benefits:

The best part of playing is playing together We all know that, and Magic is more interesting than Sorry and less protracted than Monopoly.

It encourages literacy and math skills  You can't really play without some basic math and reading skills. A custom built deck was the reward we gave each of our kids for gaining these skills. I think this is great incentive for any kid that learns math and reading typically. Aided play seems to have some potential for the kid with learning challenges.

It's face to face social In a world where such connections are decreasing, this is golden. Our kids don't play Magic online, and I hope as adults they chose the local comic store to that.

It makes gift giving easy Kid having a birthday? Everyone gets him Magic booster packs? Great! Of course that also makes it easier when my kids' friends play Magic, too.

They want to earn cards New expansion? Buy a bunch of packs, and watch your kids clamour to do chores for you. When New Phyrexia came out, I didn't fold laundry for three weeks.

It keeps them busy  As your kids become teenagers, you'll be thrilled that they're hunched over a  table in a smelly comic store back room instead of out drinking, experimenting with drugs, and sleeping around.

You will never run out of things to talk to your kids about Ever. Trust me on this.