So I’ve been running Hour of Code in the twins’ school (which, for me, is more like 12 hours of code as each class shuffles through), and on Wednesday, I ate lunch at their table in the cafeteria. I was already there when their class came in and paused, staring at me.
“Oh hey,” I told a random girl who sat down near me. “I’m Melissa. I’m repeating third grade.”
She looked at the twins for explanation, but they just shrugged. One of their friends squinted at me. “No, you’re not. You must be here for something else.”
“Nope,” I told him, cheerfully. “Here to repeat third grade. Didn’t do it that well the first time around and only realized that this week. So, here I am. Ready to do it all over again.”
And the best part was that for the next twenty minutes, they politely included me as one of their own, explaining what I would be doing now that I was an official third grader. I will apparently learn all about a bird that can make a sound like a chainsaw, a few useful phrases in Spanish, and how to play the recorder.
Bring it on!
A long time ago, I did a sugar art demonstration in a nursery school. Years later, I was in the grocery store one morning, and there was a group of kids there on a field trip from a local elementary school, and as I passed them in the produce section, I heard a boy say, “that is the woman with all the sugar!” It was a kid who had seen my demonstration in nursery school!
Lesson learned: Sugar makes an impression.
So the amusing, parallel part to leading Hour of Code is that as I return to the school day after day and I lead the workshop, I can hear kids talking about me: “that’s the woman who has all the electronics!” To be fair, I am schleping around a big bag filled with a computer, littleBits, thumb drives, math books, and a tablet with a stylus.
But it made me feel cool, like the Pied Piper of Circuits.
This is it, your last chance. The 2013 Creme de la Creme closes to submissions on December 15th at night. Anything that comes is after 11 pm ET will not be on the list… ever. As in, this is it. If you want to be part of the Creme de la Creme for 2013, submit now. On Sunday, the list will be finalized, and it will go up on January 1st.
I always feel like I need to mention that it’s Friday the 13th when the Roundup falls on Friday the 13th. As I wrote last time this occurred:
Though I’m usually fairly anxious around certain dates, allowing my imagination to run towards grotesquely disturbing scenarios, I’ve never had big feelings concerning Friday the 13th. Even if I live … like … 2 miles from Camp Crystal Lake and I totally know someone who knows someone who is the cousin of the counselor who decapitated Mrs. Voorhees.
It’s one of those dates that I feel like I should have big feelings about. If I’m not worried, then I must be a fool.
You know how girls pinched each other’s arms with a Cootie Shot to ward off boy germs? Mentioning that it’s Friday the 13th feels like a horror Cootie Shot.
Do you care about Friday the 13th or are you not superstitious about the date?
And now the blogs…
But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week. In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:
- “The Dread of Advent” (Through the Ardennes)
- “Christmas. It’s Coming. Again” (By the Brooke)
- “The Best I Can” (For My Sweet Boy, Jonah)
- “Courage for the Present” (Work is for Suckers)
- “I am not a loosey goosey come-what-may kind of lady” (I’m Polycystic Inside)
- “I Don’t Know Your Story” (A Sky for Blue)
- “20 Ways” (Where the *Bleep* is Our Stork?)
Okay, now my choices this week.
Anabegins has a post about shaking up her life. Believe me, she could have been describing my life when she writes, “I’m no good at change. I get stuck in a rut and start to really like my rut, and get all cozy and comfortable with my rut, and suddenly its like ‘my beloved rut, don’t leave me!!’ You get the point.” Oh, yes, I do. Which is why I’m impressed with all the changes she hopes to make. As she says, she put it online so she feels accountable. Seems like a good time of year to do your own post about what you’d like to change in 2014.
My Lady of the Lantern has a post about waiting (or not?) for your period. It’s clever, but it’s also veeeeeeeeery familiar; those phantom pregnancy signs. (Is it? Or isn’t it?) And the fact that your period always seems to show on the least opportune day.
Lastly, From IF to When has a post about understanding someone infertile. She tackles common misconceptions, addressing both the myth and the reality. Infertile people don’t hate those who conceive easily, nor do we want to avoid kids at all costs. It’s a great post that you may want to leave open on someone’s computer screen by “accident.” Just sayin’…
The roundup to the Roundup: I’m a third grader! Or the lady who has all the electronics. The 2013 Creme de la Creme is closing. It’s Friday the 13th. And lots of great posts to read. So what did you find this week? Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between December 6th and December 13th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week? Read the original open thread post here.
December 13, 2013 2 Comments
This question is part of the GRAB(ook) Club, an online book club open to anyone and everyone. It contains more than a few spoilers for Catching Fire, so read at your own peril. No, really, stop reading this post if you plan on reading the Hunger Games trilogy.
So, Catching Fire managed to shock the shit out of me at the end. I’ll admit that I had Hunger Games ruined for me when the press people started sending me Catching Fire movie images while I was reading the first book. I inadvertently saw who was still alive, and therefore knew who would be the winner, though not how. Still, I was a little annoyed that it was inadvertently ruined even though the book was still enjoyable.
On the other hand, I went through Catching Fire wondering how the hell they’d get out a second time, and… wow… that ending. Blew my little mind. I don’t know why I didn’t consider it, but I didn’t.
I have a push-me-pull-you relationship with spoilers. On one hand, I obviously dislike them since they ruin the author’s story telling effect. Catching Fire wouldn’t have emotionally affected me if I knew what was going to happen at the end. I was thrilled by the surprise. And, for me, it was that surprise that made the book. On the other hand, I have been known to sneak onto spoiler sites or read articles that I know will ruin a movie or book. I also sometimes flip ahead a page or two in the middle of intense action to get a sense of where things are going. I can’t help myself. I’m like someone who breathes too heavily next to someone else’s birthday candles. On one hand, I don’t want to blow them out, but on the other hand, I’m certainly saying a lot of words with drawn-out, heavily inflected “H”s.
You can’t have it both ways.
Do you like spoilers, or do you like to go into books knowing nothing?
And were you surprised by the ending?
After you answer my question, please click over to read the rest of the book club questions for Catching Fire. You can get your own copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins at bookstores including Amazon.
December 12, 2013 9 Comments
This is a post for the GRAB(ook) Club. Like the idea of a book club where you don’t have to leave your living room? Then read more about the GRAB(ook) Club which holds the book discussion on blogs, a Facebook group, and a GoodReads group.
December’s book is Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. You can jump into the discussion by clicking any of the blogs below (links will appear when the post goes up), or joining the Facebook or GoodReads group (links to those groups are in the information post).
NEXT STEP: I’m going to take a small break from the book club in order to get through the winter craziness, and then we’ll regroup in January with a new book.
December 12, 2013 2 Comments
Updated at the Bottom
I woke up this morning to a cold snow and a cold realization: the Candy Crush Prize Wheel is gone. No more free spins. No more boosters. No more collecting of sweet lollipop hammers or striped/wrap combos.
It left in the night without so much as a goodbye.
If I had known that yesterday would be my last spin, I would have spent more time with it. I would have told the Prize Wheel how much I loved spinning it every morning. I would have whispered thank you to the screen.
For the love, King.com, you make the levels so difficult, and then you take away our Prize Wheel? You made me want to weep — WEEP — with level 350. You can’t give me my one joy? Don’t you realize that I never even used the boosters? I just liked collecting them. I have about 12 speckled doughnuts lying in wait. Your Prize Wheel was like the free burrito wheel at California Tortilla. No one goes to the restaurant to spin the Monday Night Mystery Prize Burrito Wheel, but we appreciate the ability to set something spinning while we wait for our meal.
I liked spinning the wheel.
At least the Dreamworld is still there.
Please don’t take away my Dreamworld too, King.com. Leave me at least that.
My Prize Wheel is back! My Prize Wheel is back! My Prize Wheel is back!
Oh sweet Prize Wheel, I’m sorry that I took you for granted. Even if you’re only popping in for a visit, I am so glad to see you again. I will spin you daily. I will croon sweet words at the screen.
Dreamworld is now on my phone. It just showed up when I logged in today. So now I have the Dreamworld on the computer and on my phone.
I love you, Candy Crush.
Even though I sort of hate you for level 356.
But really, even though I curse you for that level, I do love you.
December 10, 2013 36 Comments
Loribeth had a post about Elf on a Shelf that I featured in the Roundup, lamenting how intense celebrating Christmas has gotten lately. She writes, “But these days, it seems the pressure to do more, buy more, give more gifts — on top of all the other pressures of modern life and parenting – just keep ratcheting upward.” And while I’ve definitely noticed it with Christmas and I don’t even celebrate the holiday (starting with Christmas decorations up in October, continuing with the onslaught of Christmas programming and commercials going through January, and blowing this non-Christian’s mind with the idea that $224 is a small amount to spend on Christmas gifts for a single person), it feels as if it’s true with everything.
Meals are no longer food to enjoy in the moment or sustain our bodies. They are photographic evidence of the deliciousness that went in our mouths (extra points if it looks amazing and complicated). Don’t even bother cooking or ordering something that may taste great but doesn’t photograph well. Decorations are no longer decorations; they are a statement of how much time we are willing to caress our hot glue guns. Halloween costumes are over the top, Valentines go beyond the little paper card, and birthday cakes for three-year-olds are taking on the proportions, cost, and complications of wedding cakes.
I can rarely find simple recipes on food blogs anymore. Instead I find posts with 25 images, each artfully taken, photoshopped, and cropped to walk you through how to chop up tomatoes for bruschetta. Fine, the image tutorials help if you’re making something unusual and complicated such as… let’s say… turducken. But scrolling through image after image of putting together a salad just because images are pretty and pinnable and we feel as if there must be pictures to keep up with the blogging Joneses? That goes over my gratuitous/warranted line.
Here’s the thing: it’s all pretty to look at, but the volume has gotten way too loud. It’s like when you go to hear your favourite band play, and at first you’re enjoying yourself. But after a few songs, you realize that the volume is up so high that it isn’t fun anymore. It hurts your ears to listen to your favourite band, and even though you’ve been looking forward to the concert for weeks, you’d sort of rather be curled up in bed than having your ears assaulted.
I think what Loribeth is seeing with Christmas is an offshoot of what we’ve been seeing all year due to social media. You’re not just outdoing yourself or your neighbours for the holidays. You’re now feeling the pressure from Pinterest and blogs and your Facebook feed. You’re hearing tons of interesting ideas and want to try them out yourself (and that’s a good thing), but it’s also a feeling that you’re not doing “enough” for the holidays if you’re not doing it all (which is a bad thing).
After all, if that person can manage a nativity scene made out of Rice Krispies treats that she artfully carved alongside her beaming children with a hotly buttered knife, what does it say about how much you love your child if you don’t attempt to make a little, baby Rice Krispies Jesus on a bed of crumbled Chex? Don’t you love Christmas enough to attempt cereal craft projects?
The same goes for the machine that is generating all this holiday angst: social media itself. How many people have felt that their blog isn’t “good enough” when they hear opportunities others get or their traffic or see their pretty blog design? How many people have felt that they must be doing something wrong if someone starts a Twitter account and instantly has 1000 followers while your three-year-old account still only has 67?
I certainly have gotten the sense that I’m not doing my friendships correctly when I see everyone else having fun on Facebook, and I do think about how I’m contributing to other people’s feelings when I post my own grinning face while out for the evening.
I’m not suggesting that we throw out the baby with the bathwater and get rid of social media, or even that people stop posting their pistachio flower tutorials and clever gender reveal cakes. But I do think it helps to bring it into perspective when we think about how a bigness has taken over. That too many people are trying to strive for quality and quantity at the same time, which is possible to achieve, but always at a cost. I’m not willing to give up Facebook, even though it makes me feel like shit half the time when I see what I’ve either been left out of or missed. Because there is always that other half of the time when I feel close to people far away, figuratively part of more people’s worlds than I ever could conceivably be without social media.
But I do need to complain about the volume just as I would if I were at that concert. (And yes, I am that patron at the movie theater who asks the projectionist to turn down the sound when the special effects are making my bones shake from the noise.) On the off-chance that someone will turn it down a notch or at least commiserate to let me know I’m not the only person who thinks that everything has gotten too damn loud.
December 10, 2013 40 Comments