Appropriate bling

(scene opens in stairwell)

Me: (adjusts wedding tiara perched precariously, preparing to arrive to party in joke mode)
Gamma: (thunders downstairs to say good bye) Mom! (stops dead, incredulous) You have a crown!
Me: (fumbling with safety pins) I do.
Gamma: I don’t have a crown! Why do you have a crown and I don’t?!
Me: I don’t know.
Gamma: I need a crown! I’m the Princess of Dreams! Where’s my crown!?
Me: Gotta do darling. (kisses curls and runs)

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Temperature controls

(scene opens on dark second floor landing)
Me: (hears voices in the attic, calls up) Boys, past bedtime.
Alpha: Sorry mom.
Beta: There was a noise from Gamma’s room that kept us up.
Me: I took care of it. (hears something) Do you guys have the air conditioning on up there?!?
Alpha: We’re hot.
Me: (climbs curving staircase, stops near the top) See this? This is called a window. It opens. It lets the 30 degree air into a stuffy attic and cools it down.
Alpha: (on edge) But isn’t that where all the ladybugs are coming in?!
Me: 30 degrees out. The ladybugs are hibernating. The air conditioning doesn’t go on until it hits 80 degrees out. Understand?
Beta: Yes, mom.
Me: Besides, they’re coming in through the window over by your beds. Goodnight!

Kids. Cats. Same diff.

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen)
Me: (puts away groceries)
Delta: (dumps out Legos)
Me: (puts aways clean dishes)
Delta: (puts Legos back in bin)
Me: (makes coffee)
Delta: (dumps out Legos)
Me: (washes stovetop)
Delta: (puts Legos back in bin)
Me: (goes to bathroom)
Delta: (dumps out Legos)
Me: (brings up clean laundry)
Delta (puts Legos back in bin)
Me: (grabs lukewarm coffee, sits down for a sip and rest)
Delta: (gets up, races over on fat toddler legs, screams to be put in lap, pounds on laptop keys and everything else in reach)
Me: You are making a very strong case for a standing desk.

Smells like teen…wait, what?

(scene opens in a mini-van, Weird Al in the background)

Me: (rolling through daily lecture re-run) …and don’t argue with the teacher just because. If you did the homework wrong, just do it again and turn it in! You don’t have to make it a big fight, it just makes things worse for no reason! The best…(pause, sniff)…Alpha, are you wearing perfume?
Alpha: (takes small pink bottle out of his pocket) Yeah. Girlfriend gave it to me. I like the smell.
Me: (off balance) Er…it does smell nice. (deep breath) Y’know, Alpha, floral scents are traditionally thought of as female scents…
Alpha: (defensively) She thought I might like it. That maybe I should try it.
Me: (plowing forward) Yes! You should wear whatever you like to wear. If girls want to wear manly smells of pine and cedarwood, they should wear it! You wear whatever make you happy. I just wanted to warn you that some people might make fun of you and you can tell them to go to hell. People should wear whatever they like.

(Awkward silence, Weird Al continues on for a bit)

Me: It does smell nice. Stop arguing with your teacher.
Alpha: Ok.

Carrot’s Book review: Surprise Edition

A week ago, no sooner I finish my glowing praise of The Name of the Wind“>, than UPS drops off a package at my door.  I hadn’t remembered ordering anything and none of my family or friends ‘fessed up to sending me anything.  In the padded envelope was nothing but a book.  No letter or invoice or anything explaining whyfor this book arrives or whence it came!  Exercising my big smarty brain, I read the label for a clue and got only that it came direct from Penguin Publishing.

Maybe I signed up for some free give away?  I have no idea, but obviously the Universe wanted me to read this book and perilous is it to ignore directives from the Universe when they are so blatant.

So the book – Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands.

I can sum up this book in two words –

Arab Gunslinger.

No seriously!  Stick with me on this!  It’s a fantasy novel, so it takes place in a fictional desert kingdom with a Sultan and far eastern magical myths like djinn.  It’s very careful not to imply fictional Islam, so there are no Imans or Mosques, going for Holy Men and Prayer Houses instead.  Some standard social issues are present, such as polygamy and women having little to no power in their own lives.

Which brings us to the wild west aspect of it all.  Our tale starts out in a desperate small mining town, rife with all the problems that a small desperate mining town has – scarcity of water, scarcity of options, the men give their lives to the mine and women suffer the brunt of their hopelessness in a one horse town where not even the monthly train runs through.

Our heroine is desperate to escape the gritty emptiness of life here and the awfulness of her impending future.  Dressed as a boy (naturally) and gifted with uncanny aim with a gun (heresy!), she exchanges an empty unhappy life for endless danger as she naturally falls in with the rebellion.   Because of course there’s a rebellion, all tied up with the mines, an allied/occupying foreign kingdom (that seems awfully western with their blond hair and blue eyes), and the struggle to retain the magic/identity of the kingdom/people without losing their soul.  There’s even a train heist!  Because Arab Gunslinger, duh!

I’m sure there’s a little subtext in there on the magic vs technology side of things, but the magic part really didn’t show up until later in the story and I presume it will be further explored in the following books.

Overall?  I expected it to be very tropey what with the YA label and a girl hero, but it wasn’t.  It was very engaging, handing me a few surprises along the way, making it an even more enjoyable story than initial assumption.  If ever you were looking for a book that would actually break the molds and play a strong part in that whole “Representation Matters” I couldn’t suggest this book fast enough.  Faux Arab Heroine.  What more could you want?  This should be read in school, except for the fact they never seem to offer fantasy as a literary choice.

I give this book a Make Your Kids Read It, because when I’m so delighted by an pro-active non-timid girl hero in a setting far underutilized in the writing world, then obviously my kids need the exposure as well.  Especially in this current world where women and our Middle Eastern brethren are never considered heroic.

Back later, I have to hand the book off to Alpha.  He was asking for it last night.

It’s just her attitude

(scene opens in a sound dampening cubical, the atmosphere weirdly and institutionally oppressive)

Gamma: (delightedly sits in her own soundproof booth, grinning through the viewing window)
Doc: (puts on her own headphones) Okay, Gamma, when you hear a beep, you raise your hand, okay?
Gamma: (nod behind the thick glass, gives a thumbs up)
Doc: (fiddles with buttons, dials, and levers, frown deepening) Gamma? Can you repeat my words? Airplane.
Gamma: (tinny voice over the speaker) No.
Doc: Cupcake.
Gamma: No.
Doc: Birthday. Book. Dog.
Gamma: No. No. No. I have a hearing problem, don’t you get it? It’s why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!
Doc: (turns off microphone, holds clipboard before face, starts to laugh) “Its why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!” What a card!
Me: (hides face in shame) I have two more at home just like her.
Doc: (looks at a confused Delta in the stroller, starts laughing harder) Her hearing is fine, just in case you were worried.

Carrot’s Book Club

Just finished Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind”. I have been trying years to get around to reading it as I had yet met a fellow book lover that did not rave about it.

I feel like any raving I might do about it is just redundant. It has been so very very long since I was at a point in my life where I looked forward to bedtime; that scheduled hour or two where I’d curl up with my dozens of pillows and viciously run through as many chapters as I could swallow before my eyes grew fuzzy and an adult’s sense of responsibility forced me to a reasonable hour’s sleep to be somewhat functional the following day. I’d think about the book during the day, trying to predict where the plot might lead based on the clues I had already read the night before.

Would I dare say lyrical? There are some books for whom the story is compelling while the writing is weak, forcing you to slog through dreary narration so you can learn what you need to learn and get closure on what could have been a far better tale. There are some books that the dialogue is witty and you enjoy the characters as you would old friends, but there is no significant adventure and you see the end coming long before you’ve even come to the middle. This book had both real people and real adventure and perfectly musically paired.

So real, I was made uncomfortable by a repeated failure to overcome something so simple as monetary debt! Perhaps that is nothing more than personal experience with the topic, but it was unsettling and made me fearful for the character. There were times I grew impatient with the character’s inability to choose the simple solution to his woes, but seeing as how at the time of the telling he was only a teen boy, perhaps that would explain overly complex solutions that only brought more hot water.

I also grew impatient as the remaining chapters dwindled and I realized that it was not a stand alone book. There would be no ending for this tale, not even in an intermission partial closure, or a season ender to tie the plots together. Not so much a cliffhanger as the commercial break with still more show to go. I had been putting off buying it – restlessly waiting for my turn at the library’s wait list to get a copy – but now I see that I can’t do that for book two and must, as soonest possible moment, head out to purchase the next one (and of course the first one so my shelf has a complete set).

I’m giving this book a Carrot Rating of Two Hands, as in it’d take that to pry it away from me.

Erring on the side of reasonable

(scene opens in pediatric exam room)
Alpha: (bored and restless)
Doc: (enters cheerily) Hello! And why are we here today?
Alpha: (eyes mother filling out paperwork) I have a cyst on the back of my head.
Doc: (starts poking his head) What makes you think it’s a cyst?
Alpha: Mom told me.
Me: (looks up from paperwork) WebMD says it’s either cancer, lupus, meningitis, or a cyst. I was betting on a cyst.
Doc: (laughs) Good guess. No need to go overboard.

Excellent Customer Service

(scene opens in local CVS, oddly packed for the day and hour)

Guy at the Register: Next!
Me: (approaches counter, resigned)
Guy: Good evening! How are you tonight?
Me: (sighs, puts down a two-for-one brush combo and two boxes of de-louser)
Crowd: (backs up at least a step)
Guy: (starts sympathetic laughter) I’m so sorry. My daughter had lice once.
Me: Yeah, husband is already shaving heads and the washing machine is on hot.
Guy: Going to be a long night. Well, we have a well stocked liquor department.
Me: A little for me (mimes tipping back) and a little for me (mimes pouring it over the head). Alcohol kills bugs, right?
Guy: (more laughter) I’ll keep the beer cold for you.
Me: I’m within walking distance. I’ll probably be back.

He does have a point

(scene opens in gloomy morning kitchen)

Me: Ta-da! (changes the Anne Taintor 2017 Wall Calendar to March)
Alpha: (slowly) Money may not buy happiness, but check these…(thinks about it) b-word shoes.
Beta: Mom. That’s not nice, you can’t say that.
Me: I can’t control what the calendar says.
Alpha: You might not be able to control what it says, but you can control what kind of calendar you can buy.
Me: (sighs, finds old business card, writes “Awesome Shoes” on the back, tapes it over “bitchin’ shoes) There. Better?
Alpha: Much better.
Beta: Seriously, mom.