language - age 6

I always tell new parents to write down a sentence their child says every month - they never do it, but I think it'd be fascinating. I only realized this after I read up some on language development and how fast and unpredictable and mysterious it is. How the human brain wires itself up for something as complicated as language is just insane.

So Olive is almost six and a half. She was going to show me her new shirt but it wasn't in her room, so she said:

"I thought I bringed it up here but, sadly, I did not."

I thought what a wonderful complicated sentence, look at her inserting an adjective into the second prepositional phrase, and correctly! Then I realized she said "bringed".

Apparently sentence structure is a milestone achieved before verb conjugation? Who knew!

The best way to teach your kids how to talk is just to use words correctly around them. They absorb it like tiny sponges, almost immediately. So I said "You thought you brought it up here? Well maybe later!" Sometimes when I do this she'll use the word right away in a sentence, this time she didn't.

Other things I remember her saying area just more entertaining, I want to remember them so here they are.

Us, discussing what to have for dinner.

Olive: "Let's have catfish!"

Me: "Olive we just had catfish. I know it's your favorite but we can't have it every night."

Olive: "Well what is today?"

Me: "Sunday"

Olive: "Let's just have it every Sunday."

and this conversation...

"Mama what's your favorite thing in the whole wide world?"

(me, thinking... ) "I don't know Olive. That's a really big question, I'll have to think about it"


maybe I'm done with thoughts

here's why it's hard to update the livejournal some days.

1) I read a writing prompt asking what I'd do if I was the president of the United States.

2) I think that's easy... legal drugs, free healthcare, free college tuition.

3) Well... free college tuition to maybe most people, but we need to do more to make kids aware of where the jobs are going, I don't think enough 18-year-olds think about what they will be doing with their degrees, there are some degrees that just don't make sense for a ton of people to pursue, so if you have to PAY for the degree doesn't that make you look at the earning opportunities a bit? Maybe we should give 100 free engineering degrees for every 1 free culinary arts or philosophy degrees.

4) That'd make philosophy SUPER COMPETITIVE, and is that even the right number? Do we base it off job openings, entry level salary, or something totally arbitrary? and if we base it off today's numbers will they just mess up and change in the future? why government mandate kids decisions anyway, how evil am I?

5) Surely somebody has already thought of all this. There are thinktanks, researchers, probably some great article in the new yorker. I don't have to figure this out, I can go back to fixing airplanes.

6) I'm not going to write about what I'd do if I was president, I'm clearly not going to be the president, and if I was I'd be so bored with foreign policy meetings I'd be awful at the job. I'd just yell at government offices to figure their shit out and stop being weird. I need to stick with my job. This isn't even fun to think about. It's fun to think about when you're 20, then you realize that we all have a boss, whoever we are, people who get in the way, people who know more, so you just pick a little thing you can do to add to the hive and have fun with that.

aimee mann

Spotify and I get along just great. I love the playlists like Morning Motivation, Morning Stroll, Evening Commute, Evening Chill. There's a playlist for everything.

And I've caught up on music. In 2017 I was only listening to Hamilton because that's what my workaholic self needed, but now I can explore a bit.

All this to say that Aimee Mann came out with an album in 2017 called "Mental Illness" that is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard, and I am recommending it and letting it shape my 2019. Do years really matter? Now that we're all on the internet, there's so much out we should just assume we're missing everything.

Tall Girl

Netflix has this movie Tall Girl that they wanted me to watch, do they know I'm tall? Holy crap the data spies are everywhere. Well it's a bad high school romance movie and those are definitely NOT my genre, but I watched most of it. Skipped some because it got very high school. I am writing this entry to tall girls in high school, because I was one of you, and life is rough, just not like the movie.

Spoiler warning I guess? But no one needs to watch this movie so whatever.

The main character looks to be over six feet tall like me and says she wears size 13 mens shoes... that's crazy and can I just say not very likely. I wear mens 9, women's 10.5 or 11. I have not met another woman who wears mens 13.

She can't find a homecoming dress she likes, so she rocks this awesome tuxedo/suit outfit on the big day. While she looks great, this is also not likely, because WE CAN'T FIND PANTS! And she just buys it at the mall... uh, no, if we get pants they are special order on the internet. Nothing ever fits us quite right. Dresses are actually easier because there's more flexibility on length, they don't have to hit the exact top of foot range within +/-1 inch like pants do. Anyway a sweet suit that fits great with appropriate length pant legs and jacket sleeves (yes, a JACKET!) is impossible unless you have a tailor who custom makes one for you.

Were any tall girls consulted in the creation of this movie?

The main theme of the movie is her short friend-zoned neighbor boy pining away for her the whole time, even carrying a milk crate with him at all times in case (we learn later) he gets a chance to kiss her. Again, art is not imitating life here. Short boys do not dream of us. They want normal girls. I had no boyfriends in high school. By my senior year I was gutsy enough to ask guys to dances, they did not ask me, and I was told no but kept trying and did get some (shorter than me) friend dates to homecoming and prom. But trust me these guys were not thrilled to finally be noticed so they could profess their love. We had fun, but it was not romantic.

My first boyfriends were in college. I reached my current adult height at age 14 or so, but boys kept growing. They even grow after high school. Look at a college track team, it's really hard to tell the difference between the freshman and senior girls, but freshman boys are obvious.

I am taller than 80% of the male population, but the older you get the taller they get and the less they all care anyway. My husband is about the same height as me but not every guy I dated was, but they were interested enough in me it didn't matter. Maybe that's the big part of why high school romance movies are fake for everyone... there's just not that much deep compatible love happening to ANYONE who's 16. I don't know if the boys are afraid of girls or just not interested. I do know that when you hit your 20s the game is on!

So that's really my message for tall girls. This movie may tell you the solution is sweet short boys, or a perfect jacket, but I don't think those things exist. Wait it out. Like all of us say, it gets better! Until then, have fun and enjoy high school. Play some sports, you might be good. Dress outlandishly in whatever fits, before you're forced into business casual later in life. Start a livejournal. Every semester, write yourself a note about who your favorite teacher was, because right now you don't realize how much they are helping you. Join weird clubs. Take strange electives. Take math every year. Use that solitude to focus on studies so you can be a successful engineer, surrounded by men, taking care of her family, living her best life.

small steps by Peg Kehret

I ran across an interesting book in my little free library.

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
by Peg Kehret

It's for young adults and I read it in 2-3 hours.

It's 1949 and Peg is 12 years old, a busy school girl looking forward to the homecoming parade that weekend. She feels twitches in her legs, and falls down in the hallway. When she gets home she feels achy and feverish, and starts getting extremely sick and can't even pick up objects. Her parents take her to the hospital and a spinal tap confirms she has polio, a terrifying diagnosis for a girl who's grown up seeing photos of people trapped in iron lungs and paralyzed for life.

She gets sicker, barely able to breath and fully paralyzed from the neck down. But then she starts getting better, eventually learning to walk again. All it takes is seven months of grueling heat treatments and physically therapy. The kids around her are not all so lucky. Peg really has the best possible circumstances - her parents brought her in quickly so treatments could start right away, they were extremely supportive and fought for her to get the best care, and we had learned about successful treatments by 1949 that we didn't have just a few years earlier.

In fact so many things about polio are luck of the draw. Peg probably got it from a carrier who showed very few symptoms and didn't know they had polio... who was that really lucky kid? But at least she wasn't from a giant family with too many kids who left her to be a ward of the state like one of her roommates.

And finally the real lucky ones, Peg's two children were born in an age where we just vaccinated them against polio. I was born after polio was eradicated in the US. My kids have probably never heard of polio. It's still on the vaccine schedule, so they got vaccinated without even thinking about it.

Nobody's ever heard of this book, and I certainly haven't heard stories of kids who got polio. What if we let them all fade into the past? This one girl's story of the darkest time in her life is really an important one to keep in the world.

someday we'll buy a new rug

my house is all hardwood floors so we have a lot of rugs.

the one in the main living room has had a HARD LIFE. It's cool - gray with a big modern leaf pattern - but now it's stained, worn, tired. so when we ripped out the basement carpet and finished the floor in there, the big leaf run moved downstairs. it's 9x12 ft or so.

we are going to replace it and I started looking online.

the e-commerce stalkers are SO EXCITED ABOUT ME and I don't care, I'm letting them come over me in waves. Every time I log into a social media site there's a new site showing me their rugs. sometimes it's the same site showing me new rugs, or a same site showing me the rug I saw the other day, ISN'T THIS THE PERFECT RUG? PLEASE COME BACK! PLEEEEEASE!

I'm picturing some kind of mission room someplace with all the algorithms and my face on screens next to rugs, "you guys... THIS LADY IS GOING TO BUY A RUG!" I bet they have all my history. my name, date of birth, salary, buying history... trying to recreate me like battlestar galactica. I can't do that to make my work more efficient but dammit, Shopper Me gets everything.

Millions and millions of dollars on data systems, to get my $600. This is big. Who do I pick? I don't even know! I'm in no hurry. We might buy a rug next month. In the meantime it's not bad, because all the ads I see are for rugs, and there are worse things to look at.

investment advice for the 2010s

As this decade slowly comes to a close I got to wondering what was the most 2010s post I could possibly make. Should I blog about my ongoing frustrations that my iphone 6se won't consistently sync with the bluetooth in my crappy ford fiesta? my husband's addiction to barely flavored seltzer water? something about tove lo? no, there is one ultimate question we're all asking ourselves:

should I cash out my bitcoin?

my friend gave me $5 bitcoin in 2014, probably as part of some account invite code. It is now worth $80 or so.

I also took $10-15 in etsy sales around that time, but that bit is gone, I used a wallet service that "retired" and claims to have given me plenty of advance notice before charging me a fee worth the account value, so fine, good-bye. but the $80 is pretending to be real money I could have to put towards a 10-speed bike for Josie.

So here we are nearly to Q4 2019, here is my question for my livejournal friends:

Should I cash out my bitcoin?

No dammit spacefem, you'll retire on this someday!
Yes because you'll lose track of it if you don't
Yes because it's fake currency that's definitely going to tank

escape books

This year the memorable books I read trend around refugees. Not really on purpose - I just like reading books about people in different parts of the world, stories not like mine, best sellers, and I do not like reading about petty first world problems, so where does that take me? tragic journeys.

The Girl With Seven Names is my favorite this year and I'd highly recommend it. It's non-fiction. The author is a well-known TED conference speaker who grew up in North Korea and escaped through China to South Korea. North Korea is a horribly oppressed place and reading the book you get a sense of how ingrained their system is and how impossible it would be to change it. China won't help anyone escape and none of the countries around South Korea are terribly helpful either. Her tale of fake identities and papers and bribes required to make it out is insane. She looks longingly at tourists with the birthright to go where they please.

I read "The Map of Salt and Stars" about girls escaping Syria through all of North Africa before sheer luck got them to relatives in Spain. "Fruit of the Drunken Tree" is about families on either end of the wealth spectrum in Colombia in the early 90s.

Everyone wants the same things: Food, water, safety, at some point truth... because your life can be saved by what you know, and when you get mixed information you can't make the right decisions about how to get to safety. In the books I read everyone gets to their destinations, but with scars and losses to show for it. Their enemies are rapists, bureaucracy, and greed. Every story makes me look around and realize how lucky I am and how quickly it can all go away, and then what does anyone have? Their luck and wits and maybe some connections in other parts of the world.

kid & ferret

First, we misgendered the ferret. Probably because we got her off a craigslist post looking to rehome "male ferrets", and it wasn't that important anyway so we just shrugged off and assumed, but we took her to the vet who looked crazy at marc and asked "Why are you calling it a he? It's obviously a SHE! LOOK!" and held underside of the ferret up to him for examination. Maybe our vet thought that marc really cared about this issue and had spent hours looking at our ferret's junk before he made the wrong call. That was not the case.

So frankie is a she - good thing we like gender neutral names! our dog judy is female. we're not sure about the fish, but marc might be the only male in the house now.

On previous episodes, Josie my nine year old became obsessed with ferrets for something like a full year until we got her Frankie, and now she is even more obsessed with ferrets. What is it about this age? I remember being young and childless and running into a kid about that age at a party who told me all about football games, especially the superbowl. he practically gave me a play by play of the superbowl complete with "and then remember when so-and-so threw that pass to so-and-so and he ALMOST got a touchdown but they'd been at the 27 yard line and they only made it 25 yards!" It was that level of detail. What is with kids?

Josie is there now. She spent three days at her aunt's house, she's a pretty quiet kid but on walks with my sister she'd get chatty and tell her all about life, but mostly about ferrets. She can tell you their history, how they fit into the weasel family, genus, species, the endangered wild black-footed ferret and efforts towards its conservation. She's read most ferret books from the library because they're not that long.

meanwhile our own ferret continues to annoy me rule the house. we keep finding weird stashes of her stuff in places. I bagged up some bathroom trash, tied the plastic grocery bag knot and threw it down our stairs to take out when I got down there, then minutes later I hear it MOVING because frankie was out and wanted to drag the whole thing under the bed in the guestroom. why frankie, why?

days later josie said she was so happy to have an "exotic pet" and I told her that term seemed weird. "Exotic" things are supposed to make you feel privileged and luxurious, that is not how frankie makes me feel, but she smiled and said frankie DEFINITELY makes her feel wonderful and frankie just licked her face. frankie does not lick anybody else's face. she sneaks out and bites toes.

ferrets really do well with other ferrets so we're thinking about getting another one, but people want stupid "rehoming" fees of $100 plus because ferrets are $250 from petstores. The humane society wants $70, that seems like a better rate. I don't want to pay $100, especially if I find out the owners haven't taken their ferret to the vet EVER so I'm going to have to shell out more money in the immediate weeks. So I'm lowball offering the craigslist ads. No luck yet, and no new ones at the humane society, so frankie is alone.

kids as guests

I like it when my kids have friends over but here's the problem... you get asked for a lot of stuff.

put it this way. when anyone is at your house, you get asked for stuff. when adults come over there are questions. they tend to be simple and predictable though. where's your ice? do you recycle? you seem to be running low on toilet paper in the downstairs bathroom where do you keep it? does this have gluten in it? everyone is used to their own world, but with some slight bits of information they can get along fine in yours. and sometimes they don't even need you, they look in your fridge before asking if you have mustard because they're used to doing things by themselves and know how to navigate social norms - it's okay to open somebody's fridge and take the condiment you need, it is not okay to open their medicine cabinet and read their prescription drugs.

kids, on the other hand, bring a whole new random spectrum range of questions, and some kids are MUCH worse than others. josie has sleepover friends who go with the flow and barely ask me for anything, but she's got others who are just so full of adorable ideas I don't know whether to embrace their cuteness or throw them out in the back yard. do you have elastic string? I don't like grape jelly do you have strawberry? why isn't there a nightlight in this room? help me find my sock? throw this plate away for me?

it makes you look at your own kid a lot more critically and wonder if you should stop coddling her eccentricities. Olive doesn't like butter melted on toast. she likes the toast to cool off, then we put butter on it, so she can see it. Josie seems to be incapable of hanging up a wet towel but we're working on it, I swear. When we have kid friends over and they weird out on me all I can picture is my kid telling another strange parent that they really need cornstarch to show the party how non-newtonian fluids work, and I know how that parent feels... kid, you do not need anything! you're warm, clothed, fed, living it up in the wealthiest industrial country in the world, deal with your life and let me read my book! play with our toys, or anything else you see in front of you, entertain the other kids with what you have, that is why you are here!

but you get to feeling bad or lazy so you don't say things like that, you just do your best. it's exhausting, that's all I can say. a kid's brain is yearning for so much, especially its at-home comfort zone, but also whatever the new idea of the moment has in store. you do not get to read your book.