Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Archive for February, 2012

Day Three. Quiet.

All of these events happened the week prior. I documented this whole trip for you.

After the loudness of yesterday, I was looking forward to today. Going into this week, I knew that Wednesday night, the in-laws would take the boys to their great-grandmother’s for dinner.

I’m fairly certain that it was just the knowing I would get a break, but today seemed easier all around. Fewer fights, homework was faster… I’m fairly certain it actually any better, but it did seem that way.

My mother-in-law was running late, and my father-in-law reminded me that if TheBoy and I wanted to have dinner together, we’d need to leave a bit earlier than usual. So if I got all the kids’ things togther, he’d watch them.

We drove up to our “new place” – a little coffee bar/cafe. Thanks to my hair, we’ve been promoted to regulars. Everyone remembers the girl with the green hair. Especially the woman who works there with purple hair.

I’ve joined this sisterhood of women with alternative hair colors, something I hadn’t counted on when I dyed it. It’s been wonderful- though I’ve been ill-prepared to explain why I went green. It sounds sad when I say that I was aiming for teal, but my hair was still too yellow. I have called it a happy accident, since I do love my peacock colored hair. Maybe I should just say that it felt like it was secretly a different color than dark brown for years. I’m just relieved that the color is finally where everyone else can see it.

Shortly after dinner, TheBoy had to leave for work. It’s odd to be alone. Especially when my brain can’t quiet itself enough to write fiction. We’ve stayed here, TheBoy and I, for weekend getaways. Getaways that are usually interrupted by the demands of his job (he works a lot of overtime), and turn into writing weekends for me. So it seems foreign to be sitting here and lacking the words to do more than sum up this insanity.

I think I’ll turn in and get back to reading American Gods.

Day Two. Cabin Fever.

All of these events happened the week prior. I documented this whole trip for you.

I did not sleep well. One child snored, the other spoke in his sleep, and TheBoy slept through it all. But I, trained by motherhood to wake at the first sound that might mean danger to my boys, kept waking up.

We got the Oldest Kidlet to school on time. I was worried about it, but without the toys and usual offerings to distract the kids in the morning, they got ready without much of a fuss.

There was a car accident that had to have happened just as we were passing a shopping center on the way to the school. We saw an SUV drive through where a bumper and glass were on the ground. By the time we’d dropped the Oldest Kidlet off and were on our way to the gas station, an ambulance and fire truck were just leaving. Two police cars and a tow truck were also there- taking care of a car that had been left behind. A car I hadn’t even noticed when I’d driven past the first time.

Though we weren’t at the preschool early, the Little Kidlet was still the third child there in his class. The way it always is.

Usually on the first day of the school week, we go grocery shopping. Instead, TheBoy and I came back to the hotel room and unpacked. I tried to write, but played Sims Social instead. Glamourous, I know.

We picked up the Little Kidlet and came back to the hotel room, and it seemed as though we only paused a moment for lunch and I left with LK to pick up his brother from school.

We drove past the house to look at the tent. It seemed surreal, though at least the boys knew that we weren’t joking about the bugs and the tent.

Homework was done quickly, all with the promise of getting to watch a DVD on one of the computers.

Then, almost as soon as TheBoy was up, cabin fever set in. Two little boys running here and there, arguing (as they always do) over who plays what. The Oldest Kidlet is angry because his little brother doesn’t want to play the same game as him, and he just doesn’t know what to make of that.

I’d hoped that dinner (at a local 50′s themed diner) would help calm them down. Instead, it just seemed to make it worse. Though I did try the thought process behind Imagination Situation and it helped. With the boys, not the throbbing vein in my forehead.

I’ve been reminded that I get the night off tomorrow. I think I’m going to need it.

No more computer screens… I think I’m going to use my Nook and read now that the boys are asleep. This time the oldest is snoring and sleeping on top of the blankets. His little brother is happily sleeping under the blanket- though he’s the one who’s been talking so far.

Day One. The Hotel.

All of these events happened the week prior. I documented this whole trip for you.

Today was spent packing everything. We hadn’t packed in advance. It seemed silly to tell the boys to pack their favorite of favorite toys the night before, and we were still doing laundry.

I packed up the cat and took him to the boarding place. He was livid. The last time I put him in the carrier, it was to take him to Jerad’s because the Little Kidlet wasn’t supposed to have cats around him. I kissed him on his wet nose (he is such a dog) and told him I would pick him up on Friday, and that I knew it would take him a full week to forgive me.

The boys cried. They do love their cat.

So many bags. Considering we’ll only be away for four full days, it’s ridiculous how much of your life you have to bring with you. Though much of that has to be attributed to the Little Kidlet’s allergies, and the fact that the boys are in school through all of this. I brought some food items with us, and we bought other items after tonight’s dinner (Jack in the Box). Then there are the toiletries, the toys, the DVDs, their books, and what feels like fifteen different cords.

I realized as I was putting the boys to bed that I forgot to pack my pajamas. I’ll figure something out.

The Beginning.

All of these events happened the week prior. I documented this whole trip for you.

Chaos. The house is chaos. I live with my in-laws. This is a wonderful thing, since I get along quite well with the in-laws. The house is always full. In the last three years, I can count on one hand the number of occasions that the house was empty. Three of those were Christmas.

On the flipside, the house is always full. I am an introvert, as most writers are. I need solitude and quiet. But even after the kids are in bed, it’s seldom that I will find quiet. But I’m getting away from the real story.

Before Christmas, my father-in-law saw an insect fly up from the windowsill, from inside the house. He thought it was a termite and called the exterminator. He was right. It’s hardly surprising that there are termites. The house itself is one of those postwar little bungalow types that popped up to house GIs when they returned from war. It had begun as a two bedroom one bath house. The in-laws bought it when TheBoy was just a baby, and as their family expanded, so did the house.

The time has come to tent the house, so we have to do many things. This is a gas that leaves no residue, so we were spared the task of bagging all our clothes. Instead we had to clear out all the food- thank goodness the garage doesn’t need to be tented. And we had to box up all the lotions, medicines, and such.

On my end there isn’t much work, so I won’t be running around. Instead I sit here, dreading the week ahead. A week in a hotel room with my boys, with my inlaws on the other side of the connecting door. Boys with only a handful of their toys and DVDs, and without their precious DVR to keep them entertained. While I’ll have free wifi and chargers to keep my toys ready for me, I’m just not sure how I’m going to make it.

Getting back to normal.

I am here, sitting in my living room. At last.

You see, this week we had our house fumigated. But because it’s a school week, we had to live life as normal. From a hotel.

I’ve become pretty good at vacations with the kids (which are always made more complicated by LK’s allergies). But on a vacation, the kids are game for trying new things. When they know they have to go to school- living in a hotel goes from being fun to being a nuisance.

While we had a microwave/fridge combo (that took me back to dorm living), we still ate out every night. While I couldn’t really think about anything this week (I didn’t get much sleep), I did blog each day. Those’ll be going up next week. Enjoy the insanity.

In other news, my hair is now blue. I went to my stylist to have her put on some toner and she tried some ChromaSilk Vivid blue instead and it’s BLUE. I love it, but I’m still getting used to it.

I’m also getting a lot of attention from the parents at the Oldest Kidlet’s school. One mom stopped me to say that she was jealous because any style or color I try with my hair, I look adorable. It’s a nice compliment, but it was a little surprising. How often do you stop a relative stranger to compliment them? I smiled, said thank you, and recommended my stylist. What else was I supposed to do?

I still have a long list of things to do now that we’re home. Laundry to wash and a mountain of toys to put in their right place (the boys might have been overjoyed to see them again). Not to mention getting back to my writing routine. That is something I’ve truly missed.

Introducing Star Wars to the Kidlets

Oh dear. Everything seems to be happening on St Patrick’s Day. I’ll be at Wondercon that day, and already I’ve been invited to a baby shower and a birthday party. Not to mention that I’m missing Sportive Tricks in Long Beach. (Go, Southern California people, go!)

But I’m going to Wondercon. I’m going to make myself a Sith costume and I’m debating whether to go with a classic cloak or something a little less traditional.

Though that reminds me- I need to make a Vader costume for someone. Because this (as my friends pointed out) screams Casual Day on the Death Star.

Little Kidlet's version of Darth Vader

It is official. The Little Kidlet has seen all of the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m still not entirely sure that he heard that Vader is Luke’s father… he might have been too busy lightsaber dueling with an invisible opponent.

He really did enjoy Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, though. He cheered when Palpatine was thrown into the reactor shaft. He had no real reaction to the Ewoks, but he did grab just about any toy and pretend they were speeder bikes.

His big brother was more interested in getting some computer time, since he knew he wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to play his roller coaster building program this week. Though he did manage to come into the end of Return of the Jedi (after missing all of ESB) and still miss that Vader was Luke’s father. He did know that Vader turned good at the end, but missed the rest. We’ll try again this week, I think.

I don’t think I ever really explained why I’ve been so eager to make sure both boys saw the original trilogy. Aside from the fact that I’m a big Star Wars fan, I had a feeling that they’d enjoy the movies as well as Episode One (TheBoy and I agreed that Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith are just too dark for the boys). And come on- lightsabers are just fun.

But really, I wanted my boys to have the chance to experience one of the great surprise twists of the movie world. They’re still young enough that they didn’t actually know who Darth Vader is, especially since they mostly played with each other and I’ve sworn my family and the in-laws not to spoil them.

Why? It was something that I didn’t get to have. Empire Strikes Back was released the year I was born. I literally grew up with kids who had older siblings who just told them that Vader was Luke’s father. I hadn’t even seen the movie yet and exactly how James Earl Jones said it.

I know lots of people who started their kids watching the Star Wars movies with The Phantom Menace, since it’s now the starting point of the Star Wars trilogy. But I would argue that the prequels are only effective if you’ve already seen the original trilogy. You get the added dimension of knowing that this is a tragic tale from the start. You know that Anakin is going to turn to the Dark Side and that Obi-Wan didn’t see it coming. You know that the Republic will fail. And you get to see the hints of what’s to come.

I did go see The Phantom Menace in 3D with TheBoy weekend before last. I know, many people will say that I’m simply enabling George Lucas- but really, the Star Wars movies are meant to be seen on the big screen. And Phantom Menace was a lovely 3D conversion. It was done to be immersive (more so than say Alice in Wonderland, which was also a nicely done 3D conversion… but pretty pointless in the end), and the podrace and lightsaber duel/triad was pretty dang spectacular.

No, Jar Jar doesn’t improve with age. There were a lot of twenty-somethings in the theater with us, and I was practically appalled by how much they laughed at Jar Jar. But then, I see people my age and how fond they are of Ewoks… and it’s basically the same thing. When you see it as a kid, it grows on you. (Unless you’re me. I never liked Ewoks. They had these terrifyingly large soulless eyes. I was more a droid girl from the start)

For goodness sake, they wanted to EAT Luke & Han.

I’ve gotten a little off track, but I’m looking forward to when the original trilogy is back in theaters, so I can take the kidlets to see Star Wars as it was meant to be seen. On a giant screen.

How to Give a 32 year old a Heart Attack

Yesterday I made a pot roast for dinner. I had just finished cleaning up the living room when I heard a familiar jump rope chant.

“Ice cream sundae, cherry on top…” sang the Oldest Kidlet as he jumped around the living room (no rope).

“Who’s your girlfriend?” I chimed in with.

He stopped, looked at me… and said the name of a girl in his class.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t the part that really gave me pause. But it did make me stand and stare at him for a moment.

I’ve known for awhile that he’s the sort of boy girls like. In preschool he was followed by a trio of girls I called the Hive Mind for their eerie ability to speak in unison (if they were blonde I would have called them the Stepford Cuckoos). He didn’t like girls, and they chased him everywhere. His teacher handled it quite well, and we had long conversations about polite rejections. By the end of the year they were on good terms and he was friends with one of the girls (she had a major crush on him), but he maintained that he didn’t like girls.

This year, his close friends have all been girls. There’s the little girl with highlights in her hair (who thinks my clothes are awesome). There’s the tomboy who came to his birthday party. Then there’s the third girl from their table who is very quiet and reserved. (That isn’t even counting the dozen other girls who all say goodbye to him as we’re walking out of the kindergarten yard)

I knew he was especially close to the tomboy (they were inseparable at her birthday party), but the girl he said was the quiet one! So I asked what happened to the other girl.

“Oh, I like her too. I am Oldest Kidlet the Great* and I like girls.”

I’m not going to get much sleep his entire life, am I?

* Nate the Great is his favorite book series, and both the boys refer to themselves as “the Great” from time to time. The good news is that now both of them will look for toys they’ve lost.

It’s Always The One Most Like You…

Back when I was a teenager and talking back to my mom, I said something about when I had kids, I’d be nothing like her.

She told me that I’d wind up with a kid like myself. I rolled my eyes.

Thankfully, that comment stuck in the back of my head, and I wondered if it was actually true. So as I got older, I watched kids and parents. By the time I was in college, it seemed obvious that the most volatile relationships were between the parent and child with the most similar personalities. (I feel bad for my mom. My sister and I are both like her, in mostly different ways. So she had to deal with the both of us)

So when the boys were born, I watched and wondered who they would be like. It was clear very early on that not only did the Oldest Kidlet look a lot like me, but that he was a lot like me, too.

He whines. Constantly. As a kid, my mom used to joke that it was because my name is “Whiney, but with a t in it.” He also has a short temper- which I did as well. I know that might come as a surprise to some of you, but it was something that my parents worked with me on. He is a perfectionist. Oh, is he a perfectionist.

Not that long ago we were doing the weekly word quiz, and the words have gotten progressively harder. We reviewed some of the tough new words he had on his list. Like “who” and “why” – words that don’t seem to follow the spelling and sound rules he’s used to. But we missed one. We hit that word in the quiz (which is a one-minute timed quiz) and he stopped and eventually got the word, but it ate up a good 15 seconds of time. So he didn’t make it through the words, and it became the end of the world.

After a lot of screaming (from both of us), I finally helped him understand that this test is just about training you to read faster, not about how many words you can read. I wanted to tell him I thought it was stupid, but decided not to- but I understood exactly why he was upset. I’d been in his position before.

I hope you don’t think I’m trying to make the case that it’s all bad. It isn’t. But when it’s bad… it’s beyond bad. Most of the time we get along well. We read books together that we both enjoy, and we have a lot of the same interests.

All the same, I’m very glad that the Little Kidlet and I don’t have much in common personality-wise. (Though we do have one very important thing in common. We love Star Wars, especially Darth Vader.

Oh, and Mom, I’m glad that I’m a lot like you. You were (and are) a great parent, even if I didn’t see it all of the time.

No, I’m not letting Chris Brown off the hook.

Today I was going to write about Whitney Houston. But last night during the Grammys (I didn’t watch, but I followed along on Twitter), I realized that the bulk of the tweets I saw were about Chris Brown.

Short recap for anyone who just woke up from a coma. The night before the 2009 Grammys, Chris Brown violently assaulted Rihanna in a car after a pre-Grammys party. He was arrested, convicted and ultimately sentenced to 5 years probation and some community service.

The Grammys invited him back to perform.

The man responsible for the Grammys, executive producer Ken Ehrlich had this to say, “We’re glad to have him back. I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”

That’s right. The Grammys were the victim of that. I can’t believe I thought it was the woman who had her face slammed into a window, punched in the face repeatedly and has had to recover while being under constant scrutiny. Silly me.

Of course, the immediate press reaction wasn’t revulsion. Instead, it was that Chris Brown was a good boy- in fact most interviews made sure to talk to his mother, who assured us that he’s not a violent boy. Many people actually wondered what she would have done to provoke him.

There was his fanbase, too- who loudly took over any online commentary to reassure everyone that he doesn’t have a violent bone in his gorgeous body… even though he’s still the one who beat Rihanna so brutally. Or they claim that he was just under too much pressure and snapped- which doesn’t really help their case either. It’s not easy to be a musician. If you can’t handle the pressure of being famous, you need to find a new career… not beat up your girlfriend.

Yes, he completed his community service. Though frankly, I’m not sure how picking up trash or clearing fields will do much to teach him that punching someone is wrong.

But I don’t think he’s actually learned anything.

When asked about it during an interview with ABC (where anchor Robin Roberts had even informed his people that she would be asking about the incident), he walked out of the interview, threw a chair into a window and walked out of the studio. That definitely sounds like he’s learned to control himself.

Not only that, but when someone does ask about it, he doesn’t even seem to realize why it’s an important subject. While it is a mistake he’s made- domestic violence is extremely common. It’s something that probably affects someone you know. So whether he likes it or not, he could have embraced his mistake and use the opportunities to say that real men don’t harm women. That he regrets it. Instead of repeatedly whining on Twitter about when the world will just move on.

It seems unbelievably unfair. Michael Vick served jailtime for his role in the dogfighting ring he was involved with, and though he’s out of jail, continues his apology tour. He knows that this will never be forgotten. We condemn anyone who injures animals. Why don’t we do the same for individuals who harm women? (And before anyone talks about men being harmed… there is so much going on in this country that’s specifically about marginalizing the rights of women- I could write about nothing else for the rest of my life)

Roman Polanski continues to get kid-glove treatment. Michael Fassbender‘s assault of his girlfriend has been cleverly swept under the rug. Mel Gibson keeps getting chance after chance. Charlie Sheen, too. Every time a crime is committed against a woman, we try to rationalize it by wondering what role the woman played… instead of doing the obvious and standing against the person who committed the act.

No, I don’t believe that Chris Brown is any different today than he was that night. Even if he were just doing PSAs to stop people from me from complaining and asking others to stop supporting him (he’s the reason I didn’t actually watch the Grammys), he’d at least be doing something to help victims of domestic violence- something to help change our dialogue. Instead, he asks us to continue to sweep it under the rug and pretend that it isn’t important.

Until he grows up, I refuse to support him financially- or support those who continue to hire him.

(Think I’m overreacting about his fans’ response? Check out these 25 responses to Chris Brown appearing at the Grammys. I saw a few like this myself.)

Related posts: Hello Giggles – “ I’m Not Okay with Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are
Gawker – “No, We Don’t Have to Forgive Chris Brown

Edit: I thought I’d share Chris Brown’s reaction to all us “haters” on the internet. Where he tweeted “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate F**** OFF!”, then deleted it (screencap here). He then amended it to “IM BACK SO WATCH MY BaCK as I walk away from all this negativity #teambreezygrammy.” Just a thought- if he can’t post the more mature comment first, maybe he really hasn’t learned anything.

A (pretend) Conversation to George Lucas: Why Han Should Shoot First

As I’m sure most Star Wars fans have heard, George Lucas did an interview that tried to clarify why he made Greedo shoot first in the Special Edition of Star Wars. In short, he never intended it to look like Han shot first. It was always supposed to be Greedo. He went on to say that he didn’t understand why people wanted Han to be a cold blooded killer.

George- may I call you that? George, it’s really quite simple. Nobody thought that Han was a cold-blooded killer. But Han shooting first was an important step in establishing the world at large.

It reinforces that it’s a dangerous part of space. Han knows that unless he shoots Greedo, Greedo will kill him. Which as we later see, isn’t exactly something you want to happen. It’s completely justifiable- he’s doing it to survive.

He’s a survivor, plain and simple. Leia proclaims him to be quite the mercenary, when really, Han Solo is just a guy who’s trying to do what he enjoys and not die- which at the moment involves paying Jabba a lot of money. And frankly, it adds a bit of mystery to Han’s actions. Will he stay with the Rebel Alliance and do the right thing? Or will he cut and run? Being unsure of who Han is in the beginning is why it’s such a victory when Han comes back at the end and saves the day- he’s becoming the guy we always hoped he was deep down.

If it’s really that Han shoots Greedo after Greedo shoots him, then it takes a bit of the bite out of who he is.

Frankly, Han being Han is an important part of getting the audience into the story. Luke sees the world as black and wide and is the most naive kid you will ever meet. Honestly, he’s lived Tatooine on his entire life and Owen never told him how to act if he meets an unsavory crowd? Crazy. Leia is all about doing the right thing. But she’s also wealthy- and as TheBoy said when I was discussing this with him, when you’re wealthy, you can afford to have morals. Han obviously lives a life filled with shades of gray. While this is Luke’s story, Han’s the one we relate to.

Ignoring how this affects Han, but it makes Greedo just another bad guy in Star Wars who can’t shoot- because frankly, I thought the reason his shot went wide was because Han shot him. Seriously, George. Stormtroopers have lousy aim. Paragons of the Empire, and they can’t shoot a cluster of beings in an empty docking bay. But they’re at least a distance away from them. Greedo was right across the table and couldn’t hit Han? Jeez.

I think this was a good talk, George. Maybe next time you can tell me why you like to kill off interesting characters.

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