Castle in the Sky

I just watched Castle in the Sky with my kids and Howard.  None of us had seen it before.  It was fantastic.  It is the only Anime movie that I’ve ever seen where I outright loved all of it.  Kiki’s Delivery Service is cute, but the pacing feels off and I didn’t get wrapped up in the story.  Ditto My Neighbor Totoro.  I’ve grown to love both, but didn’t love them right away.  The other anime that I’ve seen is beautifully drawn, but all of the stories failed to engage me.  It is entirely possible that I’ve just missed all of the good stuff.  (Feel free to recommend some, but be aware that I’m not keen on graphic violence or sex even animated.)

Castle in the Sky was an instant hit with all of us.  Gleek kept making delighted exclaimations throughout the movie. (“The robot is their friend!”)  Link and Kiki were enraptured.    All three kids wanted to watch the movie again right away.  After I refused to allow an imediate re-showing, the kids all engaged in a delightful discussions about whether it would be possible for a tree to grow up in the sky.  Kiki and Gleek both asserted that it was.  Kiki said the tree needed something floating to grow on.  Gleek said it only needed a blue diamond.  Link was doubtful about this, but agreed that it might work if there was magic involved.  They all went to bed happily musing on castles and crystals and trees and giant robots.

I suspect that the kind friend who loaned us the DVD won’t be getting it back for several weeks. 

Badges

According to Howard if the Red Badge of Courage is Blood, then the Translucent Badge of Motherhood is Snot.

I ponder this while wearing my third shirt for today. If I ever have amnesia I’ll be able to tell that I’m a mother just by looking at my clothes. They’re oldish, stained, washable, easy to move in, and usually “badged”.

Fortunately neither Howard nor the kids seem to care what my clothes look like. Although there have been some times where I’ve wondered what other people think as I look down and realized that I forgot to change before going out in public. If I were a celebrity, there would be tons of paparazzi photos of me looking horrible. So many opportunities for photo taking.

Faith

Sometimes when I consider all of the things that Howard and I have to keep afloat I really don’t know how we do it. And yet we do. The children are fed, bathed, made to do chores, made to do homework, played with, read to, and generally taken care of. Schlock gets scripted, read, drawn, colored, and uploaded. Novell gets it’s share of work and frequently hauls Howard away on trips. The dishes get done, laundry gets washed, folded, put away, floors get swept, carpets get vacuumed, spills get cleaned. All of this on a near daily basis. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the only way the important stuff gets done is by faith.

I don’t talk much about my faith in this journal, but it is an integral part of my daily life. People don’t talk much about air either, but it is always there. As a family we pray and read scriptures daily. We attend church each Sunday. We teach the children about tolerance and God at the same time. I don’t record most of this in my public journal in part because I don’t want to push my religion onto people and in part because it is personal and I don’t want to be arguing or discussing it all the time. I just know that for me faith makes the difference between surviving and thriving.

For the last couple of days I’ve been feeling opressed by all the things that need doing and by Howard’s upcoming travel. This morning after the school rush was over I looked around at the disaster of the house. I contemplated the long day ahead and the day after that and a long stretch of early mornings and frustrating evenings without breaks. All of this weighed on me to the point where I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry. Instead I went to my knees in prayer.

I believe in personal revelation. I believe that God not only listens to prayers, but answers them. I believe that God can give us the strength to carry burdens we could not carry on our own. It happened to me today. I got up from that prayer and went to work. For the first time in weeks (months?) the adjective “clean” can accurately be applied to my kitchen. More importantly I feel optimistic and hopeful rather than oppressed.

Now I just need a nap and the world will be an altogether wonderful place.

Oh Buffer My Buffer. . .

Well, I guess technically it is Howard’s buffer, but it significantly affects my life so I can claim a small slice of ownership. 4 years of experience has taught me that a buffer of 28 days or more puts us in the Happy Zone. At that point there is less ambient buffer stress around the house and Howard starts really enjoying the cartooning and taking time to make it visually prettier. And when he wanders upstairs he is cheerful and refreshed rather than drained and stressed. I love a big buffer.

Unfortunately two weeks from now we are facing the largest and most concentrated buffer-hit we’ve ever had. It begins August 10 and for the following five weeks Howard will only be home for one of them. So instead of enjoying the current buffer of 28, Howard is understress to try to double it in two weeks. Possible, but extremely improbable.

So what I get is pre-trip buffer building stress. Howard gone. Then post-trip buffer building stress. Not a whole lot of happy for me in Howard travelling.

But Novell pays the bills and until such a time that we can dispense with the Novell paycheck it would be dishonest to dodge the work that they pay Howard for. If I keep telling myself that I’ll be happier about the travel right?

Fandemonium Report — Saturday

Saturday morning the kids bounced out of bed around 9 am. I fed them cereal that I’d brought with me. Then we wandered down to watch Daddy in Part I of the Village Idiot’s comedy show. It is unfortunate that Chani and I could not find them a better time slot. They really got shafted because there wasn’t much crowd at that hour of the morning.

The kids all colored a picture for the contest. We saw shiny sharp things in the dealers room and got custom buttons from Hawklady’s button booth.By 11 am I was tired of herding children and Patches was pretty much fed up with the stroller, so we loaded up everything. I wasn’t sleeping there that night, so EVERYTHING had to go. Pi and Discarnate kindly volunteered (or maybe were drafted) to help haul stuff to the car. I drove to my sister’s, unloaded kids, put Patches down for a nap, grabbed a bite to eat, and made it back to the con by 12:15. That meant I missed the first 15 minutes of Hawklady’s panel, but the rest was really fun.

In the time before my panel I determined that unless I took measures my panel wouldn’t get filmed unless I took control of the project. I got a camera from Bizzybody. Then worked out a deal with Discarnate so I filmed his (and Howard’s) Gamemastering panel and he filmed the Women In Gaming panel. I’m really glad that I did. I’m even gladder that we didn’t end up with the camera which recorded no sound. I’m hoping to eventually get a copy of both panels. I don’t know if I ever properly thanked Discarnate for being willing to film. It was very kind of him, especially since there was no tripod and so he had to shoulder the camera for the entire hour.

The Women in Gaming panel which Kreely, Chani, and I shared was really fun. I think I might have talked more than either Chani or Kreely, but hopefully no one felt I was hogging the show. I never intended to, there was just so much to say. It was thrilling to be in a place where I could say things and have fellow panelists or audience memebers respond intelligently.

Then it was time for dinner. Howard had a guest of honor dinner he needed to be available for, so I rounded up company, volunteered to drive and headed out. There were four of us in the group, Me, Vermillion, Chani, and Discarnate. The moment we got to my car I realized I’d made a tactical error. This van had just been through a road trip with four children and lots of crackers. Hurricane Charly couldn’t have made a bigger mess inside. So much for good impressions.

We found a nice little pub restaurant not too far from the hotel and proceeded to have one of the nicest and most relaxing times I had at the con. I don’t remember what we talked about, at least not in detail, but I know it was comfortable instead of awkward. This was a nice surprise because I didn’t have Howard to lean on socially.

We returned to the con just as the dance was beginning. Howard was not back from his dinner yet and I needed a few minutes of quiet time after the various events of the day, so I went and lay down in our room until Howard got back. Then we danced. The dance was industrial, which isn’t my preferred music. We were having fun anyway, then the fire alarm went off. Everybody evacuated, stood around outside, then trooped back inside to continue dancing. Howard arranged for “our song” to be played and we got do dance to it which was a nice late anniversary gift for him to plan for me.

The evening ended hanging out with Kreely, Pi, Chalain, and Liren. It was a good ending for a wonderful con. The con continued on Sunday, but other obligations prevented me from attending any of the events that day. I’m sorry to have missed out on some of the fun, but I was also pretty worn out by that point.

So there’s my “report” on Fandemonium in more detail than most of you care to know.

Fandemonium Report — Friday

Friday morning began with cheerful Patches calling “mama” from his crib. Howard and I discussed breakfast options with related expenses and I opted to go for free breakfast at my sister’s house. So Patches and I drove 30 minutes to my sister’s house and arrived before any of my other kids even woke up. Gleek was very very glad to see me. She’d missed me during the night.

Just after breakfast Howard called me. The legible copy of the schedule had gotten sucked into the black hole of con ops and was nowhere to be found. I pulled the scrawled copy from my purse and read it off to Howard. It lacked information and had to be re-tooled, but it was a starting place for them. I left the problem to Howard and others while I relaxed for a bit at my sisters. Patches crashed into a nap early because he’d been up so late. As soon as I put him down to sleep I headed back to the con.

I arrived back at the con around 11 am. I cruised through the dealer and console gaming room to see what there was for seeing and then sat down with Howard at his table. I was just starting to want something to do when Chani came up to the table and I asked if there was anything I could help with. She told me yes, the schedule wasn’t finished yet. (At this point the con had been officially open for 3 hours.) Apparently what we’d thought were two separate rooms were in fact the same room. This meant that we had to shuffle everything around again. Chani and I sat down with a computer and made rampant executive decisions without proper authority. In the end we printed out a schedule which had every single thing item we’d been told about on it. We printed 10 copies and carried them out to post in public places.

Within one minute of bringing the schedule out, a man in a long green cape cornered me to inform me that we had the name on the Live Steel show wrong we had to fix it. And where were the three panels he was promised? I had no clue. I’d done the best with what I was given and had no desire to snatch back the schedules and re-do them yet again, so I dodged both the questions and the person and went to go sit with Howard. I felt like I’d done some good for Fandemonium and Chani went to a well deserved lunch.

Approximately 10 minutes later two con staffers came up to me in a panic. The man in the green cape was a dealer who was specifically invited to attend, he’d come all the way from Moscow Idaho and he’d been very verbally angry and insistant that he be given panel slots. These staffers have come to me to find out what to do. In hindsight this amuses me that I became in control of the schedule. At the time I was just stressed along with everyone else. Consul kindly offered to give up one of his panel slots, but was obviously and understandably upset over the prospect. I decided that we needed to stop the old schedule from being printed and we needed to find out exactly what this dealer wanted included in the new schedule. I sent the over-stressed staffers to stop the presses and went to talk to the angry dealer myself.

Confronting angry (but not violent) men is one of the situations where being female is a distinct advantage. The primate in the male brain doesn’t feel as hostile to a female. I was very polite. I appologised for the errors. I promised we were doing everything possible to correct them. I acquired a corrected name for the Live Steel show and the names of the three panels. I was NOT sure that three panels would fit so I even got them to tell me which one would hurt least if it didn’t make the schedule. I appologized again and then ran to Con-Ops where I met Kreely and the two of us undertook to find space for the three panels. We found three spaces without cancelling Consul’s panel which was wonderful because Consul had been nothing but nice and the dealers had been really really nasty.

Kreely and I declared the schedule finished and it was copied and distributed before anyone else could complain. That was the end of my involvement. There may have been other events, but they passed in my blissful absense.

I then attended Howard’s first panel before jumping in the car to drive to my sisters for dinner. (I never did get lunch). I ate, collected 4 children and accompanying baggage, and then drove back to the con where we set up camp in the hotel room. The kids love the hotel. They were under the impression that this was a really nice hotel because it had seven whole floors. They ping ponged around the hotel room until I ushered them downstairs to see the console gaming room and the Live Steel show. They loved both, but when I ask them now what they liked best, they all agree it was the swordfighting at the Live Steel show.

The kids were too wound up to sleep right away, so I splurged on a movie rental and had the kids watch Ella Enchanted. They enjoyed it, but it was something of a tactical error because it prevented Howard from crashing into bed as early as he would have liked.

Fandemonium Report — Thursday Night

For me Fandemonium began on Thursday night (August12) with Schlockfest. I was really nervous about attending this event. So nervous in fact that I confused my target hotel arrival time with my target departure time and ended up half an hour later than I intended. Fortunately it didn’t matter because I still had time to set up Patches bed, change clothes, and fix my hair before Schlockers began to arrive.

I decided to bring Patches to the event because I was nervous about leaving him overnight. I’m still not sure that was the right decision, he’d have survived being left. Fortunately everybody at Schlockfest was really nice about him being there. In hindsight, I think I brought him as a security of sorts for me. I’ve never been very good at meeting new people and making small talk. At parties I tend to observe more than participate. Having Patches meant that if I felt awkward I could hide behind motherhood. “Oh look Patches needs attention. I’ll just go over there now. . . ” On this occasion that never proved useful. Instead of rescuing me from awkward conversations, Patches kept distracting me from interesting ones.

Meeting the IRC crowd was lots of fun. I’ve never felt so comfortable with a group of people that I’d never met before. I didn’t always know what to say, but there were enough people that conversations stayed lively and I was able to participate when I DID have something to say. Unfortunately a significant portion of the IRC crowd were also con staff and they were all incredibly stressed over things undone, things needing re-done, and things not do-able. Apparently on Sunday everyone had a big dinner and was more relaxed. I wish I could have been there.

Chani, Kreely, and I had a quick meeting about the panel we were to share. It wasn’t a long meeting and we didn’t really go over details of what we wanted to cover, mostly we determined that we got along and that the panel was going to be fun. I was delighted to discover that both Chani and Kreely were articulate and good tellers of stories. It boded well.

The worst part of the evening for me was putting exhausted Patches into his crib and then sitting in a room full of people who had to listen to him wail for 20 minutes. Once again, everybody was nice, but I felt horrible and definitely not showing off my best parenting skills.

Once Patches was asleep I was able to devote full attention to helping solve the problem of the No Schedule. Everyone needed to know when things were so they could make plans, but the Con-Chair had suffered a hard-drive disaster and so no schedule existed. We sent Discarnate to collect info on panels, events, rooms and such. He returned partially triumphant and we started making little slips of paper and sliding them around on the table. I was the one with the pencil, so I did all the recording. Chani’s former convention experience was invaluable. Discarnate and Vermillion participated as well as some other people who have disolved into the haze of late-night-memory loss. Howard might have been there for some of it. We emerged from our huddle with a schedule. I copied it from I’m-in-a-hurry-scrawl into legible handwriting, handed off the legible copy to Discarnate to be delivered to con staff and kept the scrawl for myself. Everyone went to bed exhausted.

Bedtime gone wrong

It’s late. Bedtime went perfectly until it disolved into utter catastrophe because I reacted poorly to a minor problem. Child’s problem is resolved, I’m still emotionally wrung. I’m not going to get enough sleep tonight and I still have to be a good mommy in the morning.

Today in three subjects

The first day of school went wonderfully well. I got so much stuff done today I can hardly believe it. Having structure in my day makes a huge difference. If I have all day to do one thing it won’t get done, but if I have only an hour to do 10 things, they’ll ALL get done.

Link loved his first day. He came home bright eyed and happy. Kiki came home with a homework log and a reading log. Since she’s always been very organizational this pleases her. It pleases me too, I’ll actually know what is going on rather than having to call the teacher and ask every couple of weeks like last year. No rocks and smooth sailing so far. Yay.

In some of the structured time I had today I’ve been trying to put together a report on Fandemonium. It’s harder than I thought it would be. There has to be a balance between brevity and full detail. I don’t want it too long or boring. I’m still hammering on it, then I’ll post it.

As a last thought for the evening, Gleek has developed bedtime fears in the last couple of weeks. She’s turned one of those developmental corners which significantly changes her behavior. Suddenly my girl who fearlessly went to bed in the dark doesn’t want to be left alone and needs a nightlight. Tonight she snuck out of her room, when I confronted her she told me that she wanted to sleep in my room because her room was the bad dream room the dreams waited for her in there.

I took a few minutes to talk to her and explain that the bad dreams weren’t in her room, they were in her head and she could push them out by thinking happy thoughts. This was a real revelation to her. She’d honestly thought that the bad dreams lurked in her bedroom to pounce on her when she slept. She liked knowing that she had some power over the dreams and we made a plan full of happy thoughts to crowd out bad dreams. Then I tucked her back into bed and she went to sleep.