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513th Friday Blog Roundup

For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to convince the ChickieNob that she wants a simple Halloween costume.  Would she like to be Hermione Granger again?  Would she like to be the Tardis?  That one seems easy to make.  But no, she has her heart set on one character and one character only: Madame Vastra, the Victorian lizard detective.

Look at that green skin!  Look at that ridged head!  WTF?

So I contacted Epbot, and her husband John wrote me back with a list of ideas on how to construct the head using a paintable mask as the base and building the rest with paper clay.  Brilliant.  I can do that.

And now I am stuck again.  Seriously, where am I going to get Victorian clothes?  I have a Victoria-style hat (and I can attach Madame Vastra’s veil since the ChickieNob told me that she needs to wear the veil around people who judge the outside without understanding the inside), but I am stuck on the dress.  Compounding the issue is cost: I need to do this dirt cheap.  So while I found Victorian costumes online, I cannot shell out $70 for a Halloween outfit.

Did I also mention that I am terrible at sewing?

This is one of those times when I really wish there was a cosplayers-to-the-rescue team who showed up at your house and helped you design a costume on an insanely tight budget.

So to break it on down: it is well within my capabilities to make an A-line black skirt and trim it with lace.  And I have the head totally taken care of.  But this costume is faltering between the chin and waist.  I could swing by the consignment shop to see if there is a rufflely black shirt I could alter, but do people have other ideas?  If you had to be a Victorian woman (like… in this scenario… armed criminals break into your house and tell you that they will kill you in three hours if you can’t pull together a Victorian era costume for under $20), what would you do to constuct the costume?  What/how can I alter something?



Yes, this is your weekly reminder to back up your blog, social media accounts, and email.

And a specific one if you use Apple products: You may have noticed that the new iOS updates have caused big, messy problems.  Back up your devices BEFORE you download the new patches for iOS8!

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


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:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Misconceptions About Conception has a post about seeing her anonymous donor at the airport.  Of course her donor had no clue that the recipient of her donation was sitting at the very same gate, and she didn’t speak to her.  But she got to look at her.  It makes you wonder how the universe works; how many times it has brought you within inches of people who never knew they played huge, silent roles in your life or you in theirs.

Project Progeny has a post about using an online tarot card reading to make a decision.  Beyond the fact that the post is really about balance (something I feel slightly lacking in my body at the moment.  I feel unbalanced, wobbly), I loved that she used the tarot card reading to make the decision. (And yes, I Googled and found the site and yes, I used it myself.)

No Ways to Say It has a very simple, very poignant post that resonated with me.  32 words.  I want the same thing too.

Lastly, a non-IF post that resonated with my morbid little heart.  Awfully Chipper has a post about having no experience with death even though she is 41, and how while we intellectually know that death is a reality, we do everything in our power to distance ourselves from it.  I’ve had an average amount of experience with death, so I’m in a different place than Maud (what really is average?  I assume I’ve had an average amount of experience).  But this really spoke to me: “I have more pressing reasons to try to make my body strong or fit: I need to work on my core muscles not just because of the frankly pie-in-the-sky notion of a flat stomach but also because it helps my back not hurt. I have a newfound urge to create, to leave behind, to do worthwhile things because I won’t always be here.”  Yes.

The roundup to the Roundup: Help me figure out a Halloween costume.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between September 19th and 26th) 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.

September 26, 2014   23 Comments

New Year

Tonight is Jewish New Year’s Eve.  The last day of 5774.  It feels ridiculously futuristic when you write the date like that.  It feels ridiculously ancient when you consider the world by the Hebrew calendar.

Despite my overwhelming Western-minded dependance on clocks (in Judaism, our days aren’t 24 hours.  They’re sundown to sundown.  One day may be longer or shorter than the next.  Isn’t that an odd thought, to the Western world?  To not have a specific time set for an activity, but instead to be waiting to see three stars or divide up the length of that day’s sunlight to find the proportional hour) my brain tends to lean more towards the Hebrew calendar than the Gregorian calendar.  Starting the new year in the fall makes sense.  School starts in the fall.  Activities start up in the fall.

There is this thing we do at the end of the year where we look back and rate our year.  I mean “we” as in most people.  (Though you Christian people tend to do it in the winter.  Or on your birthday.)  “This was a terrible year” or “this was the best year.”

I was thinking about what a dumb-ass thing this is to do.  There’s a lot that goes on inside a year, and 600 billion things that don’t go on within a year that need to be counted too.  It’s not just that I published a book this year or lost my aunt.  I also didn’t contract ebola or win the lottery. (Not that I played.  I guess you really do need to be in it to win it.)  And yet, we rate our year anyway.  We mark our year as good or bad, despite the fact that most of the time, it just is.  That even amongst the terrible events, wonderful things happen.  And even when we’re at our happiest, shitty things happen all around us.

I’m going to be honest: 5774 sucked by my life’s standards.  Someone else may look at my 5774 and say that it looks pretty damn sweet from the outside, but living it has been like a scene out of Candide, where crappy things happen and then I try to convince myself that it’s fine by pointing out how it technically could be worse.  I’ll remember this year as a time of job loss and death and a never-ending cold that seems to pop up again two days after I get rid of it.  It is all little stuff in comparison to the otherwise.  It is all big stuff when I’m in the middle of it.

Josh and I often go to bed, reassuring ourselves with an “at least.”  We set a pretty low bar.  “At least blood didn’t spurt out of our eyes today,” I’ll say.  And he’ll agree.  “We have that going for us.”

Last week, the Wolvog struck out at a baseball scrimmage, and when he was coming off the field, he threw his bat in frustration.  Later in the practice, he had a gorgeous catch that resulted in an out, and a great hit that scored an RBI.  Though he avoided me after the strike out, he trotted over to me after that inning, beaming.  We had a talk about how it’s easy to be in a good mood when things are going your way, but it’s practically a magic trick to still keep your inner calm when things are in turmoil.  To not take your bad mood out on the people around you.

It’s so easy to say that to your kid.

It’s so hard to live it as an adult.

We’ve gotten through harder things.  We’ve gotten through harder deaths with fewer coping mechanisms.  We’ve gotten through failed cycle after failed cycle, loss after loss.

One time when I miscarried, I threw my glasses across the room when I saw the blood.  It was this instinctive action, my muscle’s own volition.  A disbelief over what I was seeing.  And then I had to feel my way towards my glasses because I couldn’t see them on the floor.  I was scared that I was going to step on them, so I slid my feet forward without lifting them until my fingers touched the frames.

Sometimes, when things are shitty, I remind myself that once upon a time, there was a moment that I was certain I would not live through.  That there was a time when I stood in a bathroom and I cried like an animal after I threw my glasses in surprise.  And look, I’m still here.  The sun has continued to set and continued to set and continued to set, carrying me to 5774.  And now to 5775.  It’s an easy memory to use as a touchstone.  I always have my glasses with me.  I can always touch my face and feel them.

I sleep and wake by the maybes.  Maybe this day will be better.  Maybe this week will be fantastic.  Maybe something I didn’t expect will happen this year.  I mean, there’s always a chance.

Happy new year.

September 24, 2014   23 Comments

Stolen Baby Photos

This may fall under the most unnerving things I’ve read today:

“The practice of ‘baby role-playing.’ Participants generally hijack new parents’ photos and use them on Instagram to enact fantasies about adoption and basic childcare tasks—though sometimes it gets much, much darker.”

So it’s a role-playing game.  Except with photos of actual humans who did not consent to become part of this game.  As in, baby humans.  Like maybe your baby human.

And while the article points out that the majority of “players” in the games tend to be teenage girls, I’m willing to make a little wager that the assumption in some people’s minds is that this is an outlet for infertile women*.  You know, the same infertile women that people assume want to steal their child.

So just to break this down for you:

  • You post pictures of your baby online.  So cute!
  • Someone saves a copy of that picture of your baby to their hard drive.  Oh.
  • Someone uploads that picture to their Instagram feed for a fantasy role playing game.  Really?
  • Other people join in and “adopt” your child so they can play a role playing game staring your child.  Crap.
  • Sometimes they’re just feeding and burping your kid.  Why?
  • Other times, they’re pretending they’re abusing or killing your kid.  What?
  • And this has been going on for a while.

Fast Company has a longer article** on the phenomenon.

It’s not shocking in the sense that we all know that anything we upload on the Internet — even for just an hour before taking it down — has the potential to be taken by another person.  What is shocking is that there are probably people I walk past on a daily basis — people who look as normal as pie, walking around the food store, checking out library books, sitting next to me at a restaurant — who do this.  They steal someone else’s photos and make a game out of it.

I don’t know why humans continuously shock me.  But they do.

* Though it is an infertile woman who finally gave birth to triplets who had her images stolen and uploaded to Instagram in the Fast Company article.  The images were taken from her infertily-turned-pregnancy-turned-parenting blog.

** Word of advice, don’t read the comments.

September 23, 2014   16 Comments

Harry Potter Book Club

Speaking of wanting to live in a book

The twins are obviously now back at school.  They drifted back to school happily.  I sat at the kitchen table and cried.  I don’t do very well with the start of school.

I volunteer a lot at their school, mostly doing tech projects with the various grades.  But I also hold a weekly book club for about 15 kids.  There is a monthly host for the book we read at home, but on the three or four off weeks between book discussions, we also have a book we read aloud and discuss together.

This year, we’re kicking it off with Harry Potter.

But no… not just sitting on a stool and reading Harry Potter.  We’re making butterbeer and doing a Bertie Botts Every Flavour Bean dare.  We’re making our own wands and learning how to cast spells.  We’re being sorted into the various houses and doing a year-long House Cup championship.  (They can win points by answering one of my close textual reading questions correct and lose points for smacking someone else with their lunch box.)


Another parent said she couldn’t imagine I’d be given permission to do this, but our principal is wonderful and allows us to run with any interesting, educationally-based idea we have.  So she is allowing me to organize an Quidditch game during recess with two of the grades.  About 90 kids, all running around on brooms, searching for the snitch and trying to get the quaffle through the hoop.

It is going to rock.

We are living Hogwarts.

It has made going back to school a little easier for me.

P.S. I got Ravenclaw robes as my 40th birthday present from my brother.  I was so excited that I may have peed in my pants.

September 23, 2014   16 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 4: Wish I Was There

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


I am reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, and I have to read it slowly because it sort of hurts my heart.  I want it to be true.  I want there to really be a magic college called Brakebills.  And I want to go to Brakebills.  And I want to meet Quentin.  And I just really really really want to be there so badly that sometimes I need to put the book down and curl up in a ball and wish instead of read.

The last time I felt this way was with Harry Potter.  And before that, Life of Pi. (I didn’t actually care if the rest of the book came true, but I desperately wanted to see the island with the meerkats, and it hurt my heart to not be able to go to the island of the meerkats.)

So what good book have you read lately?  Something so good that it affected your whole mood?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. Mali (No Kidding in NZ) 24. Shailaja/ Moving Quill 47. My New Normal
2. Mali (A Separate Life) 25. Heather 48. Daryl
3. Persnickety 26. Jamie @ Sticky Feet 2 49. Amber
4. Sadie 27. Geochick 50. Summer
5. articulation 28. Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles 51. Running Nekkid
6. lostintranslation 29. Cristy 52. A.
7. Jen (Days of Grace) 30. Isabelle 53. Relaxed No More
8. Turia 31. Sarah (Baby- Making Merry- Go- Round) 54. Kimberly
9. Middle Girl 32. Neil 55. Dubliner in Deutschland
10. Archana 33. Mina 56. dennasus
11. Becky 34. Buttermilk 57. Tara
12. Obsessivemom 35. Stacie 58. Misty @ Hot Mess of Chaos
13. Karen (River Run Dry) 36. Aislinn @ Baby Makin’ 59. Laurel Regan @ Alphabet Salad
14. Inconceivable! 37. Rachel 60. elly stornebrink
15. Kate 38. Mrs T 61. Suzanna Catherine
16. Tigger 39. Climbing the Pomegranate Tree 62. Birds, Bees, and Medicine
17. Lori Lavender Luz 40. Baby, Are You Coming? 63. Queenie
18. D 41. Cindy 64. Nabanita Dhar @ Random Thoughts Naba
19. Waiting for Baby 42. earthandink 65. Ke Anne
20. Bio Girl 43. Elizabeth 66. Corinne@ Everyday Gyaan
21. JB 44. S 67. Kasey Powers
22. Muddy Boots & Diamonds 45. sharah 68. the lewis note
23. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 46. Just Heather 69.

September 22, 2014   46 Comments

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