Friday, June 29, 2012

27 Years Ago

At Disney World, Thanksgiving Break 2011
Today, I'm going to celebrate my husband, who is turning 27. I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who is so wonderful, strong, caring, compassionate, sensible, charming, and many other things. I hope more than anything that our son grows up to be like his father, because then I'll know that we did it right.

Happy birthday Mark! I know today isn't the best birthday, what with your final and work and all today, but I love you and appreciate all that you are doing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Disney-PIXAR "Brave" is Educational

Last night, my husband and I went to a late showing of Brave. Before I tell you about the film, let me start off by saying late shows during the week - particularly Monday or Tuesday - is the best time to see a movie. The audience is small, and very few parents take their children to late night movies during the week...even films that are marketed to that demographic. Monday and Tuesday night are quickly becoming my favorite nights to go to the theater.

Brave is Disney-PIXAR's latest creation, telling the tale of a Scottish princess named Merida who envisions a life different for herself than what her society dictates. When Merida comes of age, her mother, the queen Elinor, seeks to marry her to a son of one of the three clansmen. Merida does not want to marry, and insists that she is not ready to be married because she would rather explore and practice her archery skills than settle down and be a proper princess. Several arguments occur, each becoming more heated than the last, and eventually Merida rashly decides to try "to change her fate"...with unintended and terrible consequences.

What I most enjoy about Disney-PIXAR films is that they are more than they appear to be. On the surface, Brave is a tale about being careful what you wish for. Dig a little deeper and you can find some real gems in the story.

The first thing I noticed was that the film included a reference to woad, which is a blue dye that was commonly used in Western Europe until indigo became available. During the time of the Roman Empire, there was a group of Celts called Picts, a group of people established in the eastern and northern parts of Scotland. We assume the Romans gave them this name because they had blue tattoos on their bodies, but no one knows for certain if they actually did have tattoos, or if the blue dye was only used in art. Still, if you look up pictures of woad or Picts, you will see photos of women and men with blue tribal tattoos and smears on their bodies. If you'd like to know more about woad (and some opinions on whether or not the Picts put the dye on their skins) there is a great essay on the subject here.

Another element that I found interesting was names of the three clans that were competing for the privilege to marry Merida: Macintosh, MacGuffin, and Dingwall. All three names are tied to Scottish clans, with MacGuffin being a surname for Macfie and Macintosh being an alternate spelling for MacKintosh. Dingwall is also a location in the Scottish Highlands, where an important battle took place in 1411 between Clans Mackay and Donald. While I'm sure the Scottish history is part of the reason for choosing the names, I believe the team working on Brave wanted to include a subtle nod to film and to their particular industry. Take, for instance, Macintosh. It is well known that Pixar was once owned by Steve Jobs, and after he sold it to Walt Disney in 2006 he became a board member of Disney. The end credits for Brave dedicate the film to him. In regards to film, MacGuffin is an element that motivates a character a character and drives the plot...for example, the Heart of the Ocean in Titanic. While the term has been applied to many objects in film, Alfred Hitchcock was the one who named and popularized the term. In the movie Brave, the MacGuffin is the clans vying for the princess's hand. They are the ones who actively motivate Merida to alter her destiny from the role of demure princess to thrill-seeking adventurer. Still confused as to what a MacGuffin is? This site might help explain it and its sub-tropes better. As of yet, I don't know if Dingwall has a reference to film or PIXAR, but I will update if I find I link.

All in all, Brave is a fantastic film that is gorgeously designed, scored, and produced. PIXAR has always gone above and beyond the standard for CGI film, and Brave doesn't disappoint. The story is wonderful and wholesome, and further enhanced by a cast largely made up of voice actors from Scotland. Once again, Disney-PIXAR has produced a film that satisfies a younger demographic as well as the parents who brought them to the theater.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shut Up and Take My Money

I've been spending a lot of time perusing baby boy clothes on Etsy recently, largely due to the fact that most department stores carry ugly boys clothes with tacky phrases on them. Like, seriously guys? But I will admit that I less-than-three pretty much all of the onesies in these stores.

Batman! Mario! Captain America! LEGEND OF MUTHA-FLIPPIN' ZELDA! Do want. And I totally would have just spent my last paycheck buying all of them too, but, you know, I found out that PayPal is run by jerkfaces so I don't have a debit card attached to it anymore. I know, it's an easy fix, but I've gone this long.... But hey, these things are too cute not to be shared. Go look at them and squee with delight.

Left, Legend of Zelda Link Costume from Linda Sumner Designs, $12.50*

Right, Nintendo Gameboy Baby Clothes from The Wishing Elephant, $22*

*Shipping not included

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Letter to the Baby

Dear Baby,

I can tell that you are still breech thanks to the occasional kicks I get down low. You were also breech at my 20-week appointment. I'd really appreciate it if you could prove to me that you do actually know how to get into the correct position by October. You've still got plenty of time. But it would be nice to know that you could do it ahead of time.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Eww Bugs

Found this guy just chilling outside of our apartment when I took out the trash this morning. Being all buggy and gross. Like they do.

I'm not a bug person. They make me feel creepy on the inside, like they live under my skin or something. Blergh. When the woman doing my ultrasound said, "It's a boy! Congratulations!" my first thought was "Oh wow!" and my second thought was "I hope he's not a stereotypical boy who loves bugs and dirt." I don't like being dirty, and I don't like being around things that are dirty. I can hear the therapy sessions now....

And when I was little, I made Mommy a mud pie to show her how much I loved her, and she said, "Ew, gross sweetie, don't touch Mommy until you've had a bath."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Kids Today

I've been hearing a lot about the bus monitor Karen Klein lately, and how she was ridiculed by some middle school-age students on the bus. Many commenters have said terrible things about the four boys, including how they should be punished (with fists and belts) and some have gone so far as to threaten death. Other commenters say that the parents must have been spoiling their children, and now they have a God complex.

I disagree.

I taught in a small district for a brief period of time...enough time to know that teaching in public school was most definitely not for me. Many of the children I taught came from homes where the parents either couldn't be present because they had to work several minimum-wage jobs, or the parents were not present because they chose not to be. These children were not spoiled, and yet I saw some of them behave cruelly to their classmates and the staff. Of course they were reported, but the principal was too busy to bother sometimes, so some disciplinary forms got thrown away before they were ever taken care of. I don't believe that the boys who bullied Karen Klein are spoiled. I think their parents might not be as present in their lives, so they are learning how to behave from other sources (ie other classmates, television, or the callous internet.) Of course, now that 4chan has released the names of the boys as well as the names of some of their family members, the parents are probably getting a literal wake-up call. (Like I said, callous internet.)

In regards to the posters who carry a "spare the rod and spoil the child" approach to child rearing, I will refer again to the school where I taught. My school allowed corporal punishment, and many families were fine with their child being paddled. On many occasions, I was called into the principal's office to watch the principal spank a child (so the child couldn't claim that too much force was used.) It was always the same students getting paddled. How do we know that these four bullies haven't been spanked before - how do we know that they weren't spanked after the police came by to question the boys about the incident? Eventually there comes a point when spanking doesn't modify behavior, it just leaves the child with a red behind.

Some people say she should have reported them anyway, but I understand her reasoning as to why she didn't. The end of the school year was just a day or two away. Most likely, that discipline referral would have been glanced at and then tossed in the trash can. Everyone is excited about starting vacation, and the over-aggressiveness would have been chalked up to something like cabin fever.

The school is going to have a press conference shortly (1:00pm EST) and will probably announce how they are going to punish the students in hopes of silencing the internet lynch mob. If I were the superintendent of that school, I would have the boys start off the year in detention, and part of that detention would be to write a letter of apology to Karen Klein for their behavior. Secondly, I would revoke their bus privileges. Not only would they not be allowed to ride during the year, this would probably bar them from being able to go on field trips. These boys will already have a negative stigma attached to them thanks to this incident, so I don't believe any further punishment would be necessary. Society will punish them enough.

NPR article about the incident

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Working on the Night Shift

Night shift was something I thought I could avoid.

"Oh sure, I'll work it if I have to, but why would I ever have to? I'm getting my degree in education," or "I am a teacher now, so why would I ever need to?"

Fast forward to 2011, when my husband started grad school and I didn't get a teaching job at our new location. Now...I have to work nights.

It's not the worst job ever. It pays a little better than minimum wage and I have to walk a bit - about 5 miles a night. My husband works with me most nights, which is an added bonus. A number of friends are night shift workers so we talk via Facebook or Steam to keep each other company; on nights that we're off, we play Diablo III or League of Legends with them. All in all, our social life hasn't suffered because of it.

My health, on the other hand, is not so awesome. Seriously, I don't remember the last time I had a shower. I just don't think about bathing anymore because I don't go out when people are going to see me. I sleep poorly because I know the sun is out...even though we have our windows covered up nice and dark I can still. Freaking. Tell. And if it weren't for my husband, I'd probably just give up on taking my prenatal vitamins since I never remember to take them unless he reminds me.

The good thing is that this is only temporary. After July, I'm free to walk in the day time again, be on a normal schedule again. By which I mean hardly normal at all because I'll be quitting in August so I can have time to get ready for baby stuff. This night job is going to make the time off before baby all the more sweet.

Hopefully I can get back to taking decent pictures too. Using only artificial light makes all my photos, regardless of camera, look super grainy and noisy. Oh well. I still look cute. (22 weeks pregnant here.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

For Formality's Sake

My name is Katie, and I've been blogging on-again-off-again (mostly off-again) since 2002 on various platforms such as Xanga, Wordpress, Tumblr, but my first blog that I actually posted on regularly was on Blogger. So, after about an eight-year break, I'm going back to my roots, so to speak, in hopes that I'll find something that will...stick.

I think my biggest problem in blogging is that all bloggers seem to have that one main focus on their blogs. Sure, they can post about other interests, but they usually try to bring it back to the main point of their blog in the first place. That's not me. Maybe it's just that I don't have the ability to set my sights on one main topic. I prefer to think that I have lots of interests and just can't be tied down to one. (Insert cheesy smile here.)

What are my interests? I enjoy making things, specifically knitting, but I like sewing and embroidery too, and I occasionally dabble in jewelry-making. I play video games, mostly on the computer (I'm currently addicted to Diablo III.) I love movies. I spend too much time drooling over pictures of manicured nails, beautiful hair, and fantastic makeup, even though I'm not always eager to put in the time needed to actually put that stuff on myself. Finally, I read a lot - and I do mean A LOT - about pregnancy and babies guessed it, I'm expecting my first in October. It's a boy!

So that's me in a nutshell. Let's see where this ride takes us.

Eclair comes from Moon's Creations.