Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

IMG_2595

Before you were born you were loved.

Before you were known you were wanted.

Before we knew what hit us you were here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2687

I could have never predicted that you would double in size every three months.

I could have never predicted that you would want to make me laugh every single day.

I could have never predicted that the only baby part left in you is this same exact look when you finally fall asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2818

My sweet Joseph.  So loving.  So silly.  So adventurous.

You are the child God intended for me.  The child I was meant to have.

Through your unending curiosity and unexpected kisses.

 

 

 

 

 

photo-1

Not all of our days together are good, and I suspect some will be worse.

But every day with you matters to me.

You teach me to slow down, explore, have patience, and most importantly value every moment of sleep I can manage to get.

 

 

 

 

 

photo

Our snuggly, clingy, dependant time is quickly coming to a close.

The smiling baby has now been replaced with a tiny toddler that squeals with delight when I try to chase him down.

But I hope that one day we can both look back on this first year and know that it was imperfectly perfect.  Just the way it’s supposed to be.

I love you.

-Mom


Read Full Post »

I try to read a lot and because of that join the Goodreads Challenge every year.  2011 I read 16 books (goal was 15).  2012 held the goal of 17…and I only read 13.  I managed to sneak in three more books on a sick day I had right before the Christmas holiday but 13?!  I mean…I’m not counting all the children’s books I’ve been reading but I still felt like a total failure.

Reading is part of my identity and to have somewhat lost that because of all the time and attention my son needs was a pretty hard blow to recover from.  I kept reading over and over that as a new mom I need to make sure I still carve out time to myself to keep my singular identity whole.  I would roll my eyes thinking there is no way that would ever happen to me.  Yet, there I was looking at my Goodreads total for last year thinking…’this is pathetic, you really need to take out more time for yourself’.

Honestly – I blame Pinterest and Netflix.  It is so much easier to just zone out in front of a screen instead of engaging in a book.  The almost Guantanamo-like sleep deprivation a new baby gives you leaves little brain cells to accomplish something as engaging as reading.  But now that my son is starting to get an independent streak I have a feeling I will finally be able to emerge from this haze of “the fourth trimester” and finally get back to being me.

Not reading 17 books is a failure, but the reasons why are so much more rewarding that I don’t really mind.  Let’s hope the books for this year will be much more engaging, and obviously not so many.  Happy reading to all of you in the coming year!

Read Full Post »

Here’s a little piece I wrote for my friends’ fantastic blog!!  Make sure to check out her worthy cause and read previous posts.  I know I’ll be contributing as often as I can – maybe you might have something to say as well.

My Breasts, My Business.

Read Full Post »

Not even a year ago if you would have asked me if the ‘American Dream’ could still be attained in this country I would have laughed at you.  With how hard everyone has been hit with the ‘Great Recession’ and the changes and new realities that we have all faced this idea of owning a house and raising your family within it seemed like something completely unattainable to me.  It especially seemed unattainable within anywhere worthwhile in Southern California.  The rules don’t apply here, money isn’t the same here, and that meant that owning a home was something that I never thought I could have here.

Yet, I am a week away from moving into my first house with my husband and it is all surreal to me.  Especially because of the catalyst for such a life changing decision – we’re having a baby.  God has very hilarious timing, and it wasn’t until I decided to go back to school and obtain my teaching credential did He decide that a baby was just what we needed in our lives.    It was from that one little test that my husband decided we needed a house – not another apartment.  He worked tirelessly and has suffered through some of the most contradictory and confusing paperwork and processes I’ve ever encountered.  But once we have those keys in our hands on Friday it will all be far too real.

My father commented that we will have done quite a bit of living by the end of this year.  He also said he didn’t think it was possible to still have the ‘American Dream’ anymore – but here we are…a week away from obtaining it and I couldn’t be happier, prouder, or more overwhelmed.  And I can’t wait to put away those little shoes in my son’s room…

 

 

Read Full Post »

My sister-in-law posted an article on her Facebook the other day that at first glance I thought to myself, ‘you know this author is right’, and then once I finished reading it I was filled with such a deep annoyance that I felt compelled to write a blog about it.  I would like to state right up front that my belief on Feminism is the purest form of it: Feminism is the right to CHOICE, and that choice extends out to every decision of a woman’s life.  So buckle up and get ready for this blog post and to my sister-in-law…this one is for you!

There are two Hermione Granger’s.  There is Hermione in the books and then there is Emma Watson playing a re-written Hermione in the movies.  I feel like this is obvious to state but they are two totally different Hermione’s and if it took you getting to Deathly Hallows: Part Two to figure that out then I fear for your sanity and the safety of others around you.  You might be a danger to society because of the unbelievable suspension of disbelief you have going on in your skull.

Did everyone notice that Ron wasn’t the same?  Didn’t anyone notice that HARRY isn’t the same?  Why would Hermione be any different?  I’m not even going to touch the train wreck that was Half Blood Prince in depth because it will just anger me beyond control but that is a shining example of how VERY different everyone is in the movies.  Honestly, if anyone should be angry it should be fans of Ron because Hermione was given tons of his lines, his moments, and his parts throughout the movies to make her seem smarter and braver!

So Hermione has this moment of weakness in the Chamber in DH:2 and tells Ron that she “can’t” kill the Horcrux and all the sudden we need to ditch her completely?  WE DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CHAMBER.  If you had read the books you might have remembered that.  For all we know she DID tell Ron that in the Chamber because if you remember correctly she’d just been tortured to the point of passing out, was then forced to transform into her torturer, break into a vault and almost be buried alive by fake coins and trophies (which didn’t scald her skin…), fly on the back of a dragon to escape (she hates flying), only to be thrust into an epic battle on the grounds of the one place that she felt wanted – Hogwarts.  PLUS – the Horcruxes tried to kill Harry, twice now, and Ron’s Horcrux made everyone nearly barf in the theater for what came out of it…so I honestly don’t mind that much that she had a moment of hesitation about killing something so evil that it tried to kill her at every moment of her life over the past year.

A woman being able to have a moment of hesitation is still girl power.  She still did all those amazing things.  She still did keep the boys alive.  She still saved Harry’s and Ron’s life over and over again.  She still bosses Ron and Harry around.  She is still a role model.  Having her tell Ron, the man that she loves, that she thinks she can’t do it makes her HUMAN.  I didn’t know that we were trying to make superhero’s here.  The whole allure of the trio is that they are teenagers thrust into making and living through adult decisions.  And Harry had to tell Ron to kill his Horcrux so why did Ron get off so easy?  Having Hermione have a moment of hesitation and need Ron to help her makes her strong because she was willing to show her vulnerable side to someone she loves and ask for support.  Anyone who thinks differently is living a very rigid and intense life if you ask me.  Oh – and BTW she still killed it by herself so what’s the big deal?

*As a side bar (if you did read the article) how could ANY of the above bad ass moments of Hermione’s existence be diluted by her wearing skinny jeans and perfume?  Really?  You’re going to go caddy on this one and not allow the girl her right to wardrobe and perfume?  Maybe she packed the perfume because she figured they wouldn’t be able to take showers that often and she didn’t want to stink.  Maybe those jeans were the only ones she owned.  Why does what she wear have anything to do with her actions?!  And it’s not even like she was walking around in a mini skirt with her tits hanging out.  She was covered neck to boots for the majority of the movies.  Stupid point article author.  Alright back to my ranting.

Hermione Granger in the books is not the same Hermione Granger in the movies and that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The Hermione in the movies is a little more ballsy and not so bossy, she’s a little more compassionate and not so by the book, and I honestly think that Emma Watson did an excellent job in the last couple of movies of embracing who Hermione is in the books and adding her own little spin on it.  I still believed it was Hermione; I still liked her choices, but was it perfect – no?  But why should that matter?  And why is everyone so up in arms about it?

I am starting to get incredibly irritated by people that keep posting articles and blogs, snide little comments on their Facebook’s, and talking loudly about how different the Hermione’s are with friends at Starbucks.  I have only this to say to these people: if you think, even for a moment, that the books and the movies are even remotely the same you are an incredible idiot.

The books and the movies are two entirely, completely, dramatically, and unwaveringly DIFFERENT things.  I am SICK of people making parallels between the books and the movies and trying to make it seem like they are constructing a valid point. The movies stopped being anything like the books by Chamber of Secrets!  And if you could not pick up on that fact then you are either ignorantly blind or have never read the books.

I understand that you want them to be the same; I even understand that you feel entitled to them being the same but they aren’t.  I had to get over that really fast myself or I was never going to enjoy the movies.  The cast of characters in the movies reacts differently, act differently and sometimes do a completely different thing then they would have in the books and that is FINE.  You want to know why it is fine?  Because JKR thinks its fine and if she (the creator of this entire universe) thinks it is fine then who am I to judge?

I get that people think this was a horribly missed opportunity for girl power (even though I still think they accomplished that), I get that everyone thinks Hollywood is evil and refuses to have a strong, independent, and fierce female lead, I get that brave and smart role models are needed in the media for girls and teens and women alike, but if they needed Hermione to be a role model then they should have been reading the books. PERIOD.

When did it become Hollywood’s obligation to create female role models in television and movies?  I have always had the distinct feeling that they are not in the business of creating role models – they are in the business of making money and sex sells people.  It sold when they first invented film and it sells now.  And this is going to sound harsh but if you are relying on television and movies to create positive role models for your children you are being a lazy parent.  You just have to watch ten minutes of TV to figure out that it will never be a medium where something constructive is going to happen in that department.  Alright – maybe the woman on Mythbusters…she’s a good example of being smart but even SHE is sexualized on that show.

Literature and real life role models are always the best because they are controlled and created for that purpose alone.  Real life role models live their lives by their own rules.  Literature role models are created with the author’s rules.  Television and movies can’t have role models because they are created by a committee of men who need to break even (at least these days).  It will never be something you can sit your daughter in front of and know in your heart that she will have a lasting and important role model to follow.  And honestly if you can find one that hasn’t been sexualized, marginalized, or dumbed down I would LOVE for you to give me examples.  I’ve given up on TV and movies being anything but entertainment for me and I think anyone that thinks differently is lying to themselves.  Including the author of that article that got me so riled up in the first place.

I still feel that there was an accurate portrayal of Hermione in the movies – the smart, brave, loyal, loving, and bossy Hermione that I grew to love.  But if that isn’t good enough for you and you want to find Hermione – the true, amazing, fantastically flawed Hermione – you only need to look as far as Prisoner of Azkaban.  She’s there, and if you could take the time to read and not think the movies were a better alternative you’d find her quite easily.

Read Full Post »

I was told I’d be a great teacher when I was in elementary school.  That’s almost an entire lifetime of being told that your life’s calling was to teach.  From the ‘trouble maker’ buddies in elementary school, to a student aid both summers of Jr. High, practically running an essay writing business on the side during high school and working with Autistic children during my Junior College years I’ve always been some kind of teacher.  But the thought of obtaining a teaching credential while I was working towards my bachelor’s degree never crossed my mind.  I thought I’d do much more glamorous things, maybe be a writer, maybe work at a publishing house, maybe be an agent that finds the next great American novel, but teacher wasn’t high on the priority list for post graduation jobs.  Perhaps if my final semester had been different I would have gone on the teacher journey earlier, but the 27 units I was forced to take because the graduation advisor made a mistake burnt me out completely on school.  I never wanted to see the inside of a classroom again.  I didn’t start reading for fun until about a year after that exhausting final semester.

Once I had finally started to feel normal again I was ready to start that glamorous career but here’s a dirty little secret that they don’t tell you in college:  there is absolutely nothing promising that can be done with just an English degree.  Sure having a BA opens a lot of doors for you, but it’s not like getting just an English degree will start some incredible career for you.  It isn’t a science or math degree.  English people are plagued with the ability to be good at a lot of things but not specialized in one particular area.  With the polarizing effect the recession has caused this has become a devastating thing to learn for most liberal arts degree people.  I might be able to catch all the misspelled words and comma splices in your email but it doesn’t matter because I can’t fix the machine you’re emailing me about.  You have to pray that someone gives you a chance at a publication house and work your way up from the very bottom.  Or, you have to go back to school and get a second degree: Master’s, PhD, certificates, or a teaching credential.

It took me almost five years of moving and thankless soul sucking temp jobs to finally give in to the stark reality that I’d created for myself.  I didn’t want to work for a publication house, I’d much rather write for a publication house but the odds of me earning enough money on writing alone were slim to none.  And I just could not do the 9-5 head banging monotony that comes with temp jobs.  I needed a career; I needed something that made me feel like I was working toward a goal, that I was contributing, that I was making the world a better place.  I need a job that would give me all of that and let me talk about books and writing all day.  Time for the backup plan – I needed to get a teaching credential. 

If you’re not from California and you’re reading this you might think – well that’s wonderful I’m sure you’ll be just fine.  If you are from California and you’re reading this you’re probably thinking two things: 1) I’m an idiot – look at how many teachers they just laid off and 2) I’m a glutton for punishment.  It’s no secret that California is one of the hardest places to obtain a teaching credential let alone a teaching position.  It’s also no secret that the state of education in California is a hot mess.  But neither of those things has deterred me because in the end we will always need teachers.  No matter how much money the state gains or squanders they will always need to pay someone to teach our kids, and if you already know going in that you’re not going to be making six figures than you’re already ahead of the game.  I had always thought that once I pulled the trigger on obtaining a teaching credential it would just be two years out of my life and a couple of classes on the nights and weekends.  Nothing – absolutely nothing – prepared me for what was about to come, and this is why I think there needs to be a revolution when we’re talking about teachers in California.

I narrowed down to my final choice of school walked out of their orientation feeling wonderful, knowing that I had made the right choice.  Then I looked at the list of things I’d have to do just to apply to the program and my jaw dropped.  The list was a page long and almost every single task on the list was going to cost me money:

Application to the university ~ $75

Application to the teaching credential program ~ Part of the university fee

Two Official transcripts from ANY college attended – $20 Junior College, $20 from University ~ $40

Passage of the CBEST – $41

Passage of the CSET – Four sections in my subject for a total of – $105 for tests plus $18 late fee ~ $123

Livescan – $74 dollars for the fingerprinting and $30 for verification ~ $104

TB Test – $75 (no insurance)

MMR Vaccination – $75 (no insurance)

Copy of Immunization Records – Free (thanks computer at home!)

Prerequisite Courses – $1850

Fee to go on a payment schedule for the Pre-Recs – $35

Two Letters of Reference – Postage paid (thank you sooo much)

FAFSA – All online (yay for the internet)

Grand total to APPLY to the Teaching Credential program ~ $2418

That is $533 worth of things I have to do without even factoring in the pre-recs and the stupid fee they make you pay because you don’t have two grand lying round.  I should also add that if I don’t pass the CSET in July I can’t get into the teaching credential program in the Fall and I have to start my application all over again.  I should also note that they kept saying over and over and over again at my orientation that it changes every year so I shouldn’t think that just because I did these things and didn’t get in it will be the same next year.  Who knows maybe next year I’ll have to pay a $75 fee just to watch them burn my money.

I want to state right now it’s not the school I’m angry at – it’s the state of California.  The school has no control over what they have to ask of people applying to the program.  Sure some of them might be a little more lenient but everyone will have to do each one of these things in the end.  I understand that you want to make sure that I’m not a child molester and that I’m not infecting the general public with communicable diseases but really?  Really California?  You want to make it THIS hard and THIS expensive to people who are willingly entering into a line of work for the rest of their adults lives that will be underpaid and never appreciated?  You want to crush the dreams of THAT many people because you can’t see the forest through the trees?  You honestly think making it harder for people to get INTO the program will somehow make the bad teachers currently teaching better?  What kind of crazy backward logic are you using?  Where do you come up with the insanity that you tack on every single year?  Why are we letting absolute idiots run our government when they obviously don’t have enough common sense to use actual problem solving and not continue to punish people that are trying to make a difference?  How can we, as a state, continue to let this happen?  Is it that we want everyone in California to be stupid?  Is it that we want to believe that firing good teachers that don’t have tenure and making it expensive and exhausting to start a teaching credential program is the solution?  Wake up California there are some BIG problems going on here and I know we are smarter than this.

It is my hope, after being enlightened to just how bad it is for teachers in California, that we are soon approaching that line where a major overhaul will happen and things can finally start to turn around for teachers here.  But I’m not going to hold my breath.  And it’s not going to deter me from getting my teaching credential because I’m not doing this for California, or money, or recognition, or fame.  I’m going to be a teacher because I know that when I see that light go on in some kid’s head, when I see a student pick up a book and read because they want to, when I can notice a marked improvement in my students writing it will all have been worth it.  I’m becoming a teacher because I want to teach and that’s where our focus should really be.

Read Full Post »

There seems to be a lot of woman hate out there when it comes to video games.  I don’t know if it’s because video games have gotten a bad rap, if it’s just the amount of time that guys spend playing them, or if girls really are setting a horrible double standard that makes their boyfriends/husbands sit through two hours of a mind meltingly bad Kathrine Heigl rom-com but refuse to even glance at twenty minutes of a well made video game; but something isn’t quite right.  There really shouldn’t be a reason for girls to hate video games, especially if you grew up in my generation.

Seriously, though, screw that dog.

I am horrible at playing video games.  I just don’t have the kind of eye hand coordination that it requires, let alone the ability to be pushing buttons in a strategic way without just mashing them Mortal Kombat style.  I used to play a lot of video games when I was a kid both on our NES (before someone broke it), our home computer (before it crashed), and the Play Station (before my Dad claimed it as his own and sunk it into his garage man-cave) but as I hit my teenage years that started to change.  Mostly it was due to boys, but I still long for the days of the old school Oregon Trail on the Apple’s with the floppy discs.  Yet, that longing never translated to me learning the XBox 360 controller, or even the PS3 controller even though it is almost identical to the one we had at my parents house.  Instead I decided to look like an idiot with the rest of the nation and pick up a Wii.  But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like video games.  On the contrary, I think that if most girls would give them a chance they’d find that the cut scenes and the game play could be better than any action movie Michael Bay can jizz explosions all over.

So from one girl to another here are some video games that I think you could at least try to suffer through.  You might even find that you – *gasp* – are enjoying yourself!

Halo

Ahhh, my good friend Master Chief:

My husband loves Halo.  He has played every single game of the series, he plays the Beta’s when they come out, and I can constantly hear him yelling at obnoxious teenage boys over his XBox360 headset.  In our household Halo is just as reverent a word as Harry Potter.

Why you should give it a shot: interesting level design and art direction in the on-line portion, fast paced game play that doesn’t drag or frustrate your boyfriend/husband to the point of throwing the controller.

Gears of War

I could only watch the actual game play of this one in spurts, mostly because my husband played it on the “insane” level or something like that.  Playing it on that level means constant repetition of the same thing over and over and over again.  You’re splitting open aliens with a chainsaw gun, and being constantly covered in blood and guts, as well as dragging your dying body toward another player with an outstretched hand gasping, “revive me!”, so it’s not really for the faint of heart.  But there was one excellent reason for giving Gears of War a chance:

Why you should give it a shot:  MAAAARRRRIIIIAAAAA!!!!!
A lot of the cut scenes in this game look spectacular but there was one plotline that threaded through the game that I would always come to see.  That guy up there is one of the main characters and he’s looking for his wife throughout most of the game.  It’s actually meaningful at times and but mostly hilariously overwrought emotion.  But the culmination of it comes when he finally does ‘find’ his wife and lets out a cave shaking MAAAARRRRIIIIIAAAA!!!!  Needs to be seen for sure!  Especially what he does after…*shudder*

Heavy Rain

Now for something completely different.  This is one of the first games I’ve seen that has taken an idea to a larger scale – consequences for choices.  Each decision you make in the game, each character you meet, each time you fail a test leads you to a different ending.  I believe there are eight in total and most of them are pretty bleak.  But, Heavy Rain was something that I watched my husband play from start to finish and actually enjoyed myself.

Didn’t really enjoy all the French voice acting though – Jay-a-son and Da-ad (above).

Why you should give it a shot: Easy game play that mostly involves puzzles, shifting back and forth between several different characters, twisting and deepening plot lines that keep you engaged, beautiful graphics on the cut scenes, and most importantly the above mentioned choice system set in place.

Portal

I will admit that I tried to play this game, I really did, it’s not all that hard, but I almost failed physics in High School and that is the main focus of this game.  This could very easily be played by a non-gamer and with a little patience could potentially become a ‘gateway game’ into a potential gaming hobby.  When you have a game this well made, with incredible premise and perfect voice acting it’s hard not to want to be a gamer just so you can enjoy it on another level.

One of the best parts of both games is Glados. 

****SPOILER ALERT****

She goes from a seemingly benevolent teacher in the beginning of Portal 1 to an evil overlord by the end:

To being humbled and reduced to existing in a potato by Portal 2:

Why you should give it a shot:  it really is a smart, funny, amazingly well written game that can easily be finished in a matter of hours or days depending on how good your boyfriend/husband is.  Added bonus: the smug look and taunting you get to have when you figure out the puzzle before he does!  It really is that much fun.

Bio-Shock

You’d think after seeing this screen shot below of the upcoming Bio-Shock game that Bio-Shock is a potential feast for your eyes – and it is.  But it’s not in the glowing and dream like way that this picture makes it seem like:

There’s actually a lot more of this going on:

GAH kill it!  I know, I know, that’s the initial reaction I had too.  But this game and the absolutely brilliant idea behind it grew on me so fast that it is still one of my favorite games that I’ve watched my husband play.

Why you should give it a shot:The premise, and the level of detail given to the execution of this premise.  Bio-Shock is a fantastic look at a 50’s dystopian Atlantis, where the good guy looks like a monster(yeah – those two up there are the good guys) and the monsters will haunt your dreams.  Have you ever wondered what Red Scare Era America, time capsuled into a giant underwater city, and left to mutate into half-fish monsters would look like?  Bio-Shock will tell you.  Stunning art direction and cut scenes with a gripping mystery/horror story to follow the action.  This is worth much more than twenty minutes of your time.

Psychonauts

I could see how any one of the games mentioned above (minus Portal) could make most girls shy away from gaming.  There is violence, there is hard action, blood, guts, and general manly brouhaha that happens with them.  But – not with my final selection.  This game is so amazing, and so under-played, that not only will you enjoy it you’ll sound like a gaming expert when you talk about it later. 

Psychonauts is this fantastic mix between puzzles, acid, and quirky loveable characters.  It’s like Hogwarts on E.  The level design is so mind-boggling that my husband and I would both be staring at the screen both in awe of what we were seeing as well as how we would ever figure out how to finish the level.  I’m not saying that as a bad thing, in fact sometimes we didn’t want to leave a level because the world was so immersive and incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen in gaming.

Why you should give it a shot:  I haven’t convinced you yet?  Hogwarts on E wasn’t enough?  Alright:

Game You Shouldn’t Watch

This wouldn’t be a balanced post without pointing out the one game I think no girlfriend/wife should ever have to suffer through.  That game is ANY version of this:

If your husband/boyfriend tries to get you to watch it and says that it’s awesome he’s lying and you should punish him for his lies.  There is nothing engaging or fun about watching this game or hearing the non-stop, migraine inducing rat-ta-tat-tat of gunfire that happens throughout the entire game.  They might tell you the graphics are amazing (which they are), they might tell you that the levels are wonderful (debatable).  But, any game that returning soldiers from Iraq were told not to play because it triggers their PTSD is something you don’t want to be around.  Make him put on the headphones and go for a jog after he’s done playing because the amount of rage he’ll have should never be shouldered by you.

That’s my short and sweet manifesto on games that non-gaming girls will like.  Like I said, you don’t have to be a gamer to like games, but it sure helps when you know which ones to watch and which ones to avoid.  Then again you could always just play some Lego Harry Potter and call it a day – but that’s just me.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Sara Sipping Chai

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Project Lola

What Women Want

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.