O Hai! I Can Has Update? (Pictures)

What does one call a bunch of pimps? A Daddy of Pimps? A Gaggle of Pimps? At any rate, there were some at work today. And Balloon Boy’s family (in many forms) was there. Some red-headed stepchildren, a vampire, and other assorted creatures showed up today. It must be Halloween!

Every time I decide to sit down and do an update, my mind goes blank. Totally blank. So that’s part of the reason I haven’t been writing much. But the other reason is that life is going by in a blur these days. I’ve been working 45-55 hours a week, then I come home and fry my brain with FarmVille and Cafe World before climbing into bed, ready to start it all over the next day.

I have been managing to do some reading, though. I finished IF I STAY by Gayle Forman (library), GRACELING by Kristin Cashore (library), and THE VAN ALEN LEGACY by Melissa De La Cruz (purchase). I am kinda jonesing for more new books, but I’m also trying to save money.

I’m missing little Aidan like crazy. I’ll see him again in 13 days, though. :) Then he’ll be here for Christmas! Seriously, I didn’t think it would be hard to shop for a soon-to-be-seven-year-old, but when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said “999 stuffed animals.” HUH? Like that’s going to happen! So I talked with Chris and I think I have some ideas for him and I’m sure I’ll come up with more stuff once I start holiday shopping.

In the meantime, my little boy was a werewolf for Beggar’s Night!

Werewolf Aidan!!!

Most Awesome Werewolf Ever!!!!

OH YEAH you know you’re jealous of that display of PURE AWESOME.

This year, the holiday shopping will be drastically pared back, though. I really need to save money and I’ve already bought enough stuff that I probably shouldn’t have. Not to mention eating out. So, I’m going back into frugal mode and I’m OK with it. It’s a challenge, but years ago I learned about the “I don’t need it” technique and it’s been working. For example, I was hell-bent on ordering some wings and tater tots from D’Ags tonight for dinner. Until I actually got online and started the actual order and realized that 10 wings, a side of tots, and some bread would cost me more than $20 PLUS tip. Um yeah, no.

Unfortunately, my craving has not been satisfied, but I don’t really know where to get good wings in Chicago. I’m still learning my way around. Yeah that’s it.

Maybe I can figure out how to make some…?

Yeah, right. Snort. I’m still stressing about how we’re going to get this place clean for when Adam’s family visits in a few weeks. As it is, he and I have both been working our butts off. We’ve maybe seen each other an hour a day the past few days. By the time I get home, he’s gone. He’s gone right now, and I have to go to bed soon. We both work tomorrow, so I really won’t get to spend any time with him until Sunday. And then it’s right back to work on Monday. All hail fourth quarter. And October. I am so ready for October to be over. Thank goodness that will happen tomorrow. And Sunday is “fall back,” so YAY for an extra hour!

Let me think, is there anything else I can plop down before I crash. ‘Cause I’m fading fast. My circadian rhythm seems to have synced with those of normal people (you know, sleep at the night, awake in the day), and I don’t want to throw that off, at least not until the assignment ends. Then I can turn back into an “owl.”

And with that, I’m outta here. Sorry my first post in ages wasn’t more substantial, but my eyes are closing. ‘Til next time!

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Falling In (Pictures)

Who else can’t believe that the official start of autumn is in four days? Not me. I mean, it came so fast. Summer just flew by this year. It seemed like Aidan just got here, and then we were at Disney World. Now I am gearing up for the cooler weather and for 4th quarter at Schawk again. YAY Schawk. The only job I was ever sad to leave. I’m blessed to get to go back.

American Girl came out with eleventy-million new dolls earlier this month, and I want two of them. AND I still want Julie. Thank goodness the holiday season is coming up. I am torn. Do I ask for gift cards/certificates to bookstores or American Girl?

Speaking of books, the last Leven Thumps book comes out on the 29th! I first fell in love with this series back in 2007. I picked it up, not knowing at all what to expect. And was hooked. Obert Skye is a master at descriptions, and I often laugh out loud at the stuff in those books. I’ve been re-reading the others in preparation for LEVEN THUMPS AND THE RUINS OF ALDER.

In the meantime, I have five library books to tide me over until a.) I start up again at Schawk, and b.) Leven Thumps is in my happy little hands. They are:

PLAY ME by Laura Ruby
FAIREST by Gail Carson Levine

My goal is to read 100 new books in 2009. I’m just past 80 now. Here’s the list. Think I can do it?

Autumn is always hard for me. I like autumn. It means that beautiful blue sky and pretty leaves on the trees (although there isn’t much of that in Chicago, unfortunately), and nice temperatures. It means harvest and yummy veggies and apples. It means heartier foods like beef and noodles, or roasted chicken, or chili. It means cuddling in a Snuggie® and reading a good book. But it also means that winter is next and you know how much I HATE winter. OK, I actually like winter for four days. Once Christmas is over, winter should go away too. And I say that because I think Christmas decorations look prettier with snow on them.

I haven’t been up to much lately. Just reading a lot. Eating loads of tacos. Seriously. When Adam and I can’t think of anything for dinner, tacos win. They’re so easy and cheap and good. He prefers soft shells, but I like hard shells. Today I went shopping and came home with two sweaters, one shirt, one hoodie, a picture frame, a sleep mask, and loads of stuff for my hair. Did I mention I’m going natural? I know I tried it a couple of years ago, but this time I’ve gone four and a half months without putting new chemicals in my hair. My hair is looking crazy now, but I want more length before I do *the big chop* in a few months.

O hai!

And on that note, I’m outta here. I should have been in bed four hours ago. Oops.

‘Til next time!

P.S. I am listening to the Angels & Demons soundtrack because I LOVE Hans Zimmer… but dude. It’s kinda scary, and I haven’t even read the book or seen the movie! Still phenomenal, though.

P.S.S. My Photobooth’s flash is stupidly bright. Anyone have any tips on how to fix that?

P.S.S.S Google is my friend!

(Just hold down the SHIFT key, and the flash won’t go off!)

OK bye for real. Maybe.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Chicago Libraries

When I moved to Chicago from Columbus, I knew that I’d be essentially downgrading my library experiences. In Columbus, if you put a book on hold, you go to the shelf, get the book and you can check yourself out using their self-check out. Very simple and quick. In Columbus, new books are in the library usually on release day, or within a couple of weeks. You can have a bunch of books on hold, and while you wait for them, it doesn’t count toward actual media you have checked out. You can renew books online. There is a max for overdue fines. I think it’s about $5.

In Chicago, there is no self-check out. You have to wait in a long line to check your books out with a person and then your bags are searched on the way out, even though you go through one of those alarm thingies as well. They just recently made it so you grab your own reserve books, but you used to have to wait in a line for those as well. They don’t get new books in for at least six months, unless it’s something that is SUPER popular. Your list of hold requests (not actual filled holds) counts toward your 30 item limit. So, say you have two Sarah Dessen books waiting to come in. That means you can only take out 28 items. They only recently allowed online renewals. And overdue fines can go into hundreds of dollars, from what I understand. (The most I’ve ever had to pay was 20¢.)

Today was the ULTIMATE in WTFbaggery. I went up to the 7th floor at the main library downtown to check out some YA novels. Because that’s what I like reading most. YA novels. That section is now World Languages. When I asked where the teen books were, I was told they are in this space called YouMedia. YouMedia is this new “trendy” teen space where teens can hang out and be teens, I suppose. It’s locked down. Basically, if you are not a teen, you cannot take out teen books at this particular library. In addition, it’s only open certain hours. I was at the library at 11 this morning. YouMedia doesn’t open until 1pm. Some days it’s open until 9pm, some days it’s only open until 5pm. Really? Four hours?

I am in shock that they’d lock down an entire genre of books like that! Are they going to restrict teens from checking out books from the adult section? I don’t think so. I can understand a place for teens to hang, but to lock the books in there is just beyond any measure of reason I can think of. They really did not think this through, but given how that library typically runs, I’m not surprised.

ETA: I just went to the YouMedia website. It says that adults are allowed in ONLY to check out books. That’s a relief… except the whole NOT BEING OPEN THE WHOLE TIME THE REST OF THE LIBRARY IS OPEN issue.

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The Lazy Days of Summer

I don’t know about you, but for me, the summer is SPEEDING by. Why is it that winter drags and drags but summertime is gone in a blink? It makes me sad. I really do NOT want snow and ice and frigid cold. I am so OVER WINTER it’s not funny. Oh well, I still have at least four months to worry about that stuff.

I’ve been catching up with Kate Brian’s PRIVATE series. I’d started reading them when they first came yout ears ago (Columbus libraries are AWESOME about getting things in quickly) but lost interest in all the murdering and such. But I picked it back up recently from the Chicago library and I am hooked again. I just want poor Reed to catch a break. I finished Revelation today and now I’m reading Paradise Lost. I also have some Disney books to check out. The library had THREE 2009 guides available. That never happens.

Speaking of Disney, I am thrilled because they added another Spectromagic parade. I thought I’d have to miss it this year, but nope. They added on on August 16th and 11pm. During Extra Magic Hours. That means the park will be less crowded, the weather will be cooler and the parade MORE AWESOME. In addition, the crowd level predictions on are 5s and 6s. SO much better than the 7s and 8s I was anticipating. Now our biggest worry is the heat. But plenty of water should take care of that. You should see the spreadsheet I made!

Aidan’s getting really excited about Disney World. I’m tying it into the drama that we’ve been dealing with. I told him for every day that he’s good, and that he goes to bed and stays in bed (except to potty), he gets a Disney Dollar. That’s a potential $31 to spend on whatever he wants at Disney World. He already lost last night’s (we told him that we were using that dollar to pay for the laundry he peed on again), but so far so good tonight. Plus he tried zucchini, so that’s a bonus $1. So now he’s up to having earned $2. I also told him he can earn bonus bucks by doing special things that are extra good. There is a lot of stuff he wants, and I told him it’s up to him to earn the money to get it.

Tonight, I read him a chapter from Ramona the Brave. The chapter is called Alone in the Dark and it describes Ramona being scared to sleep in her own room. I saw so many of Aidan’s patterns in it, and he recognized himself in the narrative as well. I think that I will read Beverly Cleary books for child-rearing advice. It’s like she gets inside the kid’s heads in a way that I just… can’t.

That’s all for now.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Where To Begin? (Long, Multimedia)

To state the obvious, it’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged. More than a month; the longest I’ve ever gone, I believe. It’s a complicated paradigm. I have too much to say, and yet, I don’t have anything to say at all.

I have been active on some forums, and on Facebook and Plurk and somewhat on Twitter, so I haven’t been completely off the Internet or anything like that.

Aidan is in town for the summer. He arrived on June 20th. He’s very happy to be in Chicago. I’ve been trying to get outside with him every day. I mean, HELLO, it’s summer! And it’s warm, finally! Sometimes I take him downtown, sometimes we simply walk around the block. Or we hit the CVS. Nothing too exciting, but it’s a nice way to get out of the house every day. We also have a nice courtyard in the back, and we’ve been out there drawing with sidewalk chalk and playing with a bubble machine.

Aidan on Michigan Avenue

Aidan Playing Bubbles

Hmm. Well, it wouldn’t be an update post if I didn’t mention dolls. I’ve gotten two more since my last post. Here is my complete collection (minus the mini Addy, who was inside):

The Girls
back: Marisol, Jess, Kit, Bizzy
front: Molly, Rebecca, Riley, Ruthie

Of course I want more, but unless I find a “YOU’D BE A STARK RAVING IDIOTIC BANANA TO PASS THIS UP” deal on eBay, I won’t be getting any for a while. I’m trying to hold out for gift giving occasions like my birthday or Christmas–but the sucky thing about that is that they’re five days apart. I don’t get gifts in the middle of the year like people whose birthdays are in summer or whatever. That’s hard! But it’s FUN at the time.

Last weekend, Adam, Aidan and I headed to Des Moines, IA for the Selzer Family Reunion. I had fun. Iowa is nice. It reminds me of Columbus without the Buckeye mania. I liked it. So much that I think I wouldn’t mind living there. Except for the fact that I would NOT be proofreading there–I’d be someone’s secretary and working for a bank or an insurance company. I don’t know how I feel about that. But the slower pace, the non-cutthroat culture, and the cost of living is so much easier to swallow. I dunno. Who knows what the future will bring?

Anyway, it was nice seeing family and spending time in a park (even though it was hotter than all blazes). Aidan tried his hand at the monkey bars:

Monkey Bars

It didn’t go well.

"This Is Not Happy"

“That is not happy,” he said when he saw his face in the picture.

It’s been a joy and a challenge having Aidan here. He’s pretty clumsy, so nothing’s really safe around him. He’s a maddeningly picky eater, so dinner time is always a challenge unless it’s chicken fries and mac & cheese. He still wets the bed at night if I don’t get up in time to take him. If I need to concentrate and work, he doesn’t get that. He wants to share everything, so it’s constantly MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY. Sometimes, it’s tiring.

But he’s so affectionate. He will often come over just to put his hand on my cheek. His laugh is the most awesome sound ever and he laughs a LOT. It’s easy to make him laugh, too. He’s very gentle. His world is still sunshine and lollipops. I can tell that by the stories he makes up. He draws–my God–his art is unbelievable. And he draws all the time. He’s really good at the Wii (he did Wii Fit for about an hour today!), and he’s super smart–got all 100s and is at the top of his class. After Adam leaves in the morning, he’ll come out and climb into bed with me to keep me company, hand on my cheek, of course.

On July 13, Adam and I went one day to DucKon 18, a sci-fi con that takes place in a Chicago suburb. I had a lot of fun. I got to hear great music (Vixy & Tony, SJ Tucker–who blew me AWAY with her song Firebird’s Child) and got to meet cool people. I bought a new worry stone in the dealer’s room. I also got to see Tesla Coils. They played music. Here they are playing The Imperial March:

And here is SJ, backed by Vixy, singing Firebird’s Child. It was this performance that almost caused me to fall out of my chair, and this performance that inspired me to run to the dealer’s room and buy her CD as soon as the concert ended before they all sold out. And thank goodness I did, because they DID all sell out!

(I want to go to more cons NOW.)

Today, happiness came in the mail for me. An arc of CATCHING FIRE. Yes, the sequel to THE HUNGER GAMES, (which I have read way more times than I could ever count). I have CATCHING FIRE right next to me. I am deliberately prolonging reading it to build the anticipation, but you’d better believe that once I’m done with this entry, I’m going to make myself a turkey sandwich and dive in. Oh yeah. *salivates*

Only 30 days until my and Adam’s one year anniversary. ♥

Only 50 more days until Disney World!

And a whole summer ahead of me. :)

To finish up, I want to say that I’m very much in shock and saddened by Michael Jackson’s passing. Wow, that was really hard to type. I am still in a state of STRONG disbelief over it. He was my first crush. I was seven years old, watching Billie Jean, and staring at the TV slack-jawed. It was love at first sight. And now… I just can’t believe he’s gone. I don’t know what will make me believe he’s gone. My friend Jen called me that night, to see if I was OK. I mean, I once got *really* upset because a bunch of people took my Michael Jackson doll and hid it or were abusing it or something. So yeah, this is hitting me hard when I let myself think about it, which really isn’t often, to be honest. I’m scared if I think too much about it, I’ll get too upset, and with Aidan around, I don’t want to do that.

‘Til next time.

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