Sunday, May 15, 2016

Favorite TV Shows: May, 2016 Edition

 Favorite TV Shows: May, 2016 Edition

 (Previously: January, 2011, May, 2012May, 2013May 2014May 2015

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

My Top 5 Shows That Are Currently Airing (Or Have Aired Within The Past 6 Months), Regardless Of Whether Or Not I'm Caught Up With All The Episodes...

1. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
2. Call The Midwife
3. Rick Steves' Europe
4. Jeopardy
5. The Goldbergs

What The Above List Looked Like Last Year (May 2015):

1. Community
2. Call The Midwife
3. Reign
4. Jeopardy
5. Rick Steves' Europe
Honorary Mention: Grimm

Guilty Pleasures I Like To Watch On Cable When I'm Housesitting:
1. Flea Market Flip
2. Salvage Dawgs
3. Endless Yard Sale
4. Barnwood Builders
5. Property Brothers

Shows I've Been Watching Via Netflix, YouTube or on DVD Lately:
1. Lois & Clark
2. Lark Rise To Candleford
3. The Office (re-watched every episode in 2015/16)
4. Back In Time For Dinner (British documentary show)
5. When Calls The Heart
6. Friends
7. Genevieve's Renovation
8. Fuller House

Shows I Need To Catch Up On/Finish Watching:

1. Fuller House...
2. When Calls The Heart

Shows I'd Like To Check Out:

1. Firefly

Shows I Said I'd Like To Check Out Last Year:

1. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (watched it; liked it!)
2. Firefly (Still haven't watched it!)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Random Things From My Childhood: A Helpful Index

Random things from my childhood is headed for the big 1-0-0! Here's an index of the 90-odd things I've already discussed. Part X to come... uh, soon?

 Part IX

Dixie Cups
Playskool Pipeworks
Now You're Cooking
Bouncy Balls
Fisher-Price Crib Activity Center
Sleepover Friends
Sweet Roses Barbie Furniture
Temporary Backyard Swimming Pools
Giant Metal Slides
Somewhere Out There (Song)
Capri Sun


Fisher-Price Little People Merry-Go-Round
Domino Rally
"I Learned It By Watching YOU!"
Play Dough
Tin Can Stilts
Christmas Ornaments That Did Stuff
Tomy Wonderful Waterfuls Basketball
Soft As A Kitten (Book)
Tinker Toys

Part VII

Candy Land
Micro Machines
Newton's Cradle Office Toy
"Movie Monster" for Commodore 64 (Video Game)
Smokey Bear
Tupperware Shape-O Sorter
Super Soaker
Neapolitan Ice Cream
Bike Flags
Nintendo Cereal

Part VI

Strawberry Shortcake
Fruit Roll-Ups
Mr. Sketch Scented Markers
Tootsie Pops
That Fisher Price Toy
Child-Size Record Player

Part V

Ring Pops
Berenstain Bears (Books)
Magic Slate
"I'm Not A Chicken - You're A Turkey!"
Back to the Future II (Movie)
Goofus and Gallant
Film Projectors at School
Karate Kat

Fisher-Price Sesame Street Clubhouse
Charleston Chew
Babes In Toyland (Movie)
Armless Mr. Potato Head
A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, Rudy Huxtable-style (Movie)
Cereal Commercials
The Rabbit Of Seville
Piano Lessons
Lady Elaine Fairchild

Heads Up 7 Up
Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre
Sweet Secrets
Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (Movie)
Eloise Wilkin
Pogo Ball
Teddy Ruxpin
Final Fantasy Music

Winter Games (Video Game)
Where's Waldo? (Book)
Nosy Bears
Lego Forestmen's Hideout
The Baby-Sitters Club
Heidi's Song (Movie)
Jelly Shoes
Doublemint Twins
Bubble Tape

Robert The Rose Horse (Book)
Clowns (game)
Snoopy Brusha Brusha Toothbrush
Dream Glow Barbie
My Buddy
Skip It
Lite Brite
Fisher-Price Movie Viewer
Fisher-Price Music Box TV
The Little Red Caboose (Book)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sticky Situations

I was only trying to inspire the children. Motivate them to give 100%. Encourage them to reach new heights of scholastic achievement...!
I should have kept my mouth shut.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury blogosphere, I present to you the case: Mis4198ta843ke78: Molly Told Some Second-Graders She'd Get Them Minecraft Stickers.

Two weeks ago, I told some seven and eight-year-olds, who I knew loved Minecraft, that if they were especially well-behaved and worked hard, I would go and buy them some Minecraft stickers. 

I could have sworn I'd seen Minecraft stickers at the store. If not the grocery store, then the craft store. But maybe I'd merely seen the Ninja Turtles. Both franchises do have a lot of green. The point is, I couldn't find any Minecraft stickers.

"Maybe the children will forget about the whole thing," I thought hopefully.

"Where are the Minecraft stickers? You said you'd get us Minecraft stickers!" the children said to me. Every day thereafter.

"Soon," I told them, hoping to buy myself some time. There had to be Minecraft stickers somewhere on Earth. Say,

Amazon asks, how do you feel about 17 Minecraft stickers for $13.99? Or what about three stickers for $2.99, plus shipping?

Ughhh, what had I done?

Okay, so I realize that it is possible for adults to sit down with particular children and explain the situation, tell them that sometimes grown-ups make mistakes, and beg for forgiveness. Because yes, sometimes grown-ups do make promises they find they just can't keep, and one could argue that kids are never too young to learn that the world isn't comprised of fairy-tale endings and rainbows and lollipops.

Which would be what I'd do if Minecraft stickers didn't exist, period. But they do. They're just ridiculously un-cheap.

And also, I've only known these kids for a month. I'm afraid if I break this promise, I'll lose them for the rest of the year -- or worse, I will be the cause of their eternal illiteracy. 

"I wanted to learn to read," they will tell their future therapists. "I was just starting to get good at it when this one teacher came along and made exciting promises... and then broke them. And laughed -- maniacally and cruelly. From that day forward, I never opened another book. From that day on, reading was dead to me."

So here comes plan B: use my Xyron sticker maker to make some Minecraft stickers, present my creations to the children, and hope they find them satisfactory.

Which they'd better.


Yeah, I'll keep you posted....

ETA 4/29/16:

1. The kids liked the stickers.
2. I am now taking kids' requests for other types of stickers.
3. Success.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Six weeks.

You know, sometimes I just don't feel like blogging.

Still, I feel the need to compose an update to this entry from February 24th. 

2.5 weeks after the above post, I found out about a job opening at a local school. I applied. I had an interview a week later. Four days after that, I got a call that I'd gotten the job.


The following Monday, the job began.

Two things to note:

1. I've actually worked at this school before. Half the staff is different now, and only the 5th grade students have a ring of familiarity (they were in Kindergarten when I worked there five years ago), but it's funny because I feel like I've just slipped back in to my old groove.

--This can feel a bit wrong, too... as if I'm taking a step backwards in life.

--But deep down inside I feel at peace 
that this is where I'm supposed to be right now.*

2. I had already agreed to work/teach at this after-school program at a 2nd school, before I got this job. So each day I work 6 hours at one job and then drive over and do 2 hours at another job. And it's exhausting.

Which may explain why I haven't blogged much.

I do want to say that I am happy... even though some of my students drive. me. nuts. I'm happy because I have a job, it's something I know how to do, and it's something I'm comfortable doing. I don't expect to do it forever, but then... who knows? 

Meanwhile, a picture of my favorite dog....

And favorite baby....

Life is good.

*and God is faithful.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Scattered Childhood Memories #8: The Snowflake Plate

You know those motivational posters that say things like "dare to be different" and "be your own person"? Nobody had to tell Kid Me that. From a very young age, I was thrilled by things that were different. If there were ten identical toys, but one toy had a scratch on it? Give me the scratched one! Different meant special, and I always wanted the thing that was special. I almost never cared what color of [insert item here] I got, as long as I got a color nobody else had.

That was me -- and yes, I was a little odd.

In early elementary school, we'd sometimes go visit my cousins, who lived a few hours away. My aunt had a bunch of these square-ish Tupperware plates, on which she'd serve lunch to us kids....

At some point, she'd collected just one (it seemed) of the Christmas Set of Tupperware Plates. On this one red plate, there was a simple snowflake in one corner....

I quickly became obsessed with that plate. Oh, the glorious snowflake, temporarily hidden by a baloney sandwich, then... aha... there it was! That special icon that adorned just one plate. Woe to the children who had to eat off the plain, snowflake-less plates!

Perhaps the Snowflake Plate was equally coveted by my brother and cousins, or maybe they noticed my obsession with it, and that increased its value. All I know is, it became my mission to get the Snowflake Plate at mealtimes, even if it meant sneaking into the kitchen as soon as I heard my aunt making lunch, and specifically asking her for it.

My aunt, wisely, often just gave us kids all plain plates, probably to avoid hearing us fight or complain. But what a disappointment that was. The Snowflake Plate shouldn't have to sit in a cupboard! It should be enjoyed by at least one of us kids... me, especially! I loved you, Snowflake Plate!

^Actual photo of me, age 6, asking my aunt if I could possibly have the Snowflake Plate for lunch that day. Her expression is one of "you have got to be kidding me."

^Alas, I did not get the Snowflake Plate at this meal.

I've since outgrown that need to covet things that are different and/or special. But I am reminded of the Snowflake Plate whenever my students fight over things I think are really petty. I try to be sensitive toward the kid who gets upset because she didn't get the sparkly sticker she wanted. It's not because, necessarily, my students are selfish Veruca Salt-wannabes that are going to grow up to be selfish adults. No, perhaps it's just a phase that a lot of us go through at that age.

At least I hope it's just a phase....

 * * *

ETA: After posting the above, my cousin Sarah (whose family owned the snowflake plate) reminded me that she had adored the plate, too. So now, considering that, I'm wondering if my love for the snowflake plate had less to do with wanting the thing that was different, and more to do with having the valuable object that my slightly-older, much-cooler cousin herself coveted?

The plot thickens!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016



The 5th Annual Bricks Cascade, Portland's LEGO convention, occurred last weekend. Three days of recovery later... and it's time to blog!

(See also: Bricks Cascades of the Past: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

For the second year in a row, I was a theme co-coordinator for Town & Train. Like last year, we had a huge showing of cool, lovely, creative, unique, and/or amazing creations. 

This year we had 3 regular trophies and 3 mini-trophies for honorable mentions to give out.

With over 60 creations in Town & Train altogether, giving trophies to only 6 of them was painful.

The main trophies were: 

Structurally Sound - "Awarded to an impressive and/or unique build." 

This trophy was awarded to Kristina R. for her Copacabana Beach Hotel. Kristina employed some dazzling detail on this building. I was impressed by the simplicity, yet effectiveness, of the color scheme. A beautiful creation.

Stellar Scene- "For a MOC that tells a story and/or is rich in interesting details."

This award went to Dorothy W. for her "Train Repair Workshop," which was a kind of LEGO building I'd never seen done before, so points for creativity. Inside and all around the shop there were these cool features and details. Obviously, a lot of thought went into this, and I really enjoyed looking in and around the workshop.

Classically Trained - "Awarded to a creation in Town & Train that best exemplifies this year's convention theme ('A Modern Classic.')"

Despite having the word "train" in the name, and the trophy having a train on it, this trophy could have gone to any MOC that fit the bill. But, it just so happens, it went to a train... Amtrak Cascades, by David H.

(That's the brown-green-and-white train, in case you're not familiar with the Amtrak Cascades.) 

I chose this one, first off, because of the nostalgia associated with train travel... I feel that train travel is both a modern way to travel (because it's better for the environment than driving) and classic (because it's been carting us around for almost 200 years). Plus, I've ridden on the A.C. a few dozen times. Ah, memories...

More importantly, the build itself was gorgeous and finely detailed... and the train was motorized and even ran around the tracks!

The 3 Honorable Mentions went to:

1. Copacabana Beach, by Jason R...

 2. Abandoned House In The Forest, by Mark K., which was gorgeous, and makes me think we need a trophy for LEGO Landscaping next year.

And last but not least, Lori Clarke's "Little Brick Houses," a row of simple LEGO houses. Each one had a story to go with it, explaining the minor differences in the surrounding scenes. It was kind of a "What if my childhood had been different... like this... or like this...?" It was super creative, and it's a reminder that LEGO isn't just about building... it's about making us see the world in new ways. Great job!

There was SO many cool new creations in T&T this year. Here are a few more...

^I liked this one because it looked like it could have been an actual LEGO set, circa the 1980s or 90s (or even more recently.)

^A very well-built Safeco Field.  

^Classic-looking fire station.

^The Cafe Corner LEGO Set on a grand scale.

 ^Food carts! 

^A fun hotel.


^Ben K.'s Fairground setup. 

^Chickens rule!

Below are some other MOCs from around the convention hall that I enjoyed...

Now check out what I brought to the show... :)

^The Carousel Of Gladness (next to Ben K.'s Gravitron.)

^Kitchens through the ages

And finally, my little furry friend...

Another great (but exhausting!) year at Bricks Cascade. See you again in 2017!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

And Exhale...

When I left my job last year, after a lot of prayer and thought, then embarked on a trip, then began a new job search, I knew I was abandoning "stability". However, I believed that all would turn out right in the end, and that before long, I would have a new job, and it would be a better job, and I would be able to say, "Aha! Yes! This is why all this happened!"


So this blog entry is tough because essentially I have to admit, to the world, that I still don't have a full-time job or even a half-time job. I've spent the last 4.5 months going on interviews that either go horribly awry or seem to go really well, then yield nothing. To a casual observer (or a certain close relative) it seems that I am a pathetic failure who made a huge mistake. Oh, but if only I could pop back in time and make things "right" by staying at that one job... forever?

There are lots of stories about waiting in the Bible. Joseph, David, the enslaved people of Israel, pretty much every prophet ever. God works on His own time, and that can make humans pretty impatient.

4.5 months, really, ain't much. But will I still feel hope six months from now, if I still don't have a full-time job? Or will I grow bitter?

I try to look at what blessings I have been given, even as I'm in this waiting period. Not working full-time has allowed me to devote extra energy/creativity into the 1/4-time job I do have. It has allowed me to spend extra time with my grandma and be available to take her to appointments, which has freed my mom up to spend extra time with her baby granddaughter. Not being exhausted has allowed me to spend more energy writing and studying a foreign language. I've been inspired to open an etsy shop, which has not only made me a tiny extra bit of money, but led to a re-acquaintance with an old-school-days friend.

My 1/4-time job would almost pay my monthly bills, but not quite. But the gaps have been filled by the etsy sales, a couple of Extras jobs, a number of babysitting stints, and a few things here and there. No, I can't buy LEGO sets these days or take weekend trips. Yes, I have to be very frugal. But He's providing, and I have enough.

One example of a recent blessing: I sponsor two children through World Vision, a girl in Mexico and a boy in Colombia. It had been weighing on my heart recently that I should send them each a package. I hadn't done so in over a year because sending packages to those countries requires filling out custom forms as well as paying hefty shipping fees, even for tiny little packages.

And then in January I went to the dentist, had no cavities, got to enter my name in the "No-Cavity Club" drawing for a $50 Fred Meyer gift card, won, got the gift card, and used the money to buy toys & things to fill the packages for my two WV kids. The toys + the shipping for both kids' packages added up to about $43.


It's easy to settle into a place of discouragement, especially when you're expecting something, or hoping for something, and you're being told, No... wait. For how long? 4 months? 40 years? It's not easy, because humans are impatient little buggers. But--

Trust Me. Wait.

Okay, I'll wait. But what about the next time a certain relative tells me I'm a pathetic failure?

Trust ME. Because I've got a plan and it's going to be amazing....


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Better Be British

"Do you watch Downton Abbey?"

...I seem to get regularly asked this.

My standard response: "Not since season three." (Or, more accurately, "not since bloody season stupid 'murdering Matthew' three, thanks.)

This is often followed by ME asking THEM, "...but have you seen Call The Midwife?"

"Call the what?"

"MIDWIFE," I say, looking nervously around at the other restaurant patrons.


"M-i-d-w-i-f-e. Call The Midwife. It's another British show on PBS, and it's much better than Downton."

This is inevitably followed by looks of bewilderment, promises to "Google it," and then either a change of topic or a remark about how it's too bad I don't watch Downton anymore, because that Mr. Bates is being accused of murder again, and shit is getting REAL.

I'm thinking of having some cards printed up that I can hand to people in these situations, explaining that this OTHER British period drama, which I happen to like better, is currently available on Netflix instant, and that there's still time to calmly watch all four seasons (they're short) before the April 3rd 5th season/series premiere on PBS.

Because that's what I'm doing, and I'm rather enjoying it! About Call The Midwife

Thursday, January 14, 2016

When I Try To Be Helpful, Things Tend To Go Wrong: Part 3/3

So then there was the time I caused a massive sinkhole in my Grandma's front yard.

It was about a year ago. It was raining really hard that day. My uncle, who lived with my Grandma, had died unexpectedly a few days prior, and my mom and aunt and others had gathered at my Grandma's house to help with things. My mom had asked me if I would come over for a few hours to help with some sorting of papers. I agreed.

When I arrived, there didn't seem to be any place to park at first. Grandma's driveway was blocked by my uncle's trailer and another car, and the front lawn (where guests  often parked) had my uncle's truck and 2 other cars. There really isn't a shoulder on this street for parking, either.

I did see an open spot on her lawn, though. It was closer to the house, and could only be accessed by using the neighbor's driveway (which borders my Grandma's yard.) But I thought, hey, I need to park, and that's a nice spot!

So I parked and went into the house to help sort the paperwork. An hour or so later, I was ready to leave. When I got to my car, I discovered it was sitting really low, as if a tire had gone flat. The driver's side door practically scraped along the ground as it opened. I got in the car and started the engine, hit reverse, and realized... I was stuck. 

I got back out of the car. That's when I noticed the front tire had sunk about six inches into some mud, but worse than that, it wasn't just mud... it looked like water was draining down into it... as if it were a hole....

I went back inside the house and sheepishly explained the situation to some of my relatives. My mom's cousin hooked up my car to his with some cable, and said he could pull my car out... but I still needed to sit in the car and put it in reverse and give it some gas.

This I did, but all the while, I was imagining myself climbing into the car and then -- whoosh -- disappearing forever into the bowels of the earth, like that poor Floridian guy. My only hope was that at least (if that happened) my car was tethered to another car. Maybe I'd be able to climb out.

But huzzah, my car was freed and pulled out safely. Happy ending!

Over the next few weeks, we learned that a leak in my grandma's plumbing had actually caused all this erosion, causing this sinkhole to form. It turned out it was around eight feet deep. Left undiscovered for more time, the sinkhole could have expanded and swallowed up part of my Grandma's house's foundation... or someone could've been walking there and fallen in....

So the leak had to be fixed and the hole had to be stabilized and fixed, which cost a lot of money, and, naturally, I blamed myself because I was the dope who parked up far on the lawn, in the rain, whose car had gone in and started the whole thing in the first place.

Life: never dull!