Monthly Archives: November 2012

Now That I’ve Blogged Every Day For A Month…

This month, I participated in NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month. I have blogged every day this month. These are some notes and observations from the month:

  • Doing this every day was tricky. There were some days I didn’t know what I was going to write and had to scramble late in the evening.
  • NaBloPoMo is a good way to get a lot of entries into a blog fast. But they’re not necessarily going to all be good posts.
  • The fact that I “had to” made it so that there were definitely days I did not want to.
  • This is probably not something I could do every day. If I did, I’d probably write one or two days a week and schedule posts for the rest of the week.
  • I missed blogging and still don’t completely feel like I’ve gotten back into it the way I want to. I used to have a Livejournal – for close to a decade, I wrote in it – and it is something I dreadfully missed having.

I have enjoyed writing this month and, it’s silly, but I’m proud I’ve done so. I plan on continuing this blog, it’s not like I’ll stop writing here, but I am looking forward to going back to writing when/how I choose.

Thanks for reading this month.

Please Stop Offering Choices That Are Not Choices.

I am all for offering choices. But, sometimes, when we talk, we’re sounding like we’re offering choices… but they’re not really choices. It could be the, “Okay?” tacked onto the end of sentence. Or when we’re telling our kids to do something that HAS to happen and we say, “Would you ____?”

If they say, “No,” that’s unfortunate. We make them do it anyway (again, this is on a “have to” not a “would be more convenient”).

I do this sometimes – I’m not perfect – but I am working really hard on trying to eliminate this as much as possible.

And while I’ve heard people say, “Well, there are very few ‘have to’s,” I know that, in my life, there ARE things that HAVE to happen (unless we want legal repercussions, which, I assure you, we do not). Legally, we are required to provide a phone call to Kai’s mother from Kai every day that he’s with us (the reverse is true – they must call Joe when he’s over there). Kai hates this. He never wants to do it. And I can understand that because, frankly, I’d be pretty annoyed if I had to make a phone call and talk to someone every day regardless of whether or not I wanted to – and get no reward for doing so. (I don’t know if the same thing happens at her place, but I would not be surprised to hear if it does. This is “Kai does not want to make the call” not “Kai doesn’t want to talk to his mother.” Those are different things.)

So, we no longer ask, “What would you like to talk to Mama about?” because I happen to know the real answer is usually, “Nothing.” Instead, we ask, “What are you going to talk to Mama about today?” (We have him think of something in advance because it’s hard for him to decide that on the fly.) We try to still give choices but, in the end, he HAS to make that call. There have been times where he’s thrown a fit or said, “I don’t want to.” The answer is always, “I know you don’t want to and I’m sorry that you have to do things you don’t want to do and I’m sorry you’re upset, but she loves you and she wants to talk to you. We have to make the phonecall and that’s just how it is.” This has actually made things EASIER. It’s no longer an argument over “Will you?” It’s now, “You have to do this. Let’s make it as pleasant as possible.”

There are other things that are, “I know you don’t want to and I’m sorry that you have to do things you don’t want to do and I’m sorry you’re upset, but that’s just how it is.”

Sometimes, like it or not, we can’t offer a choice.  And that’s just how it is.

On Being A Female Gamer

It always surprises me – and to this day, I have no clue why, as I have experienced this over and over and over – with the way a lot of male gamers treat female gamers.

For a while, I was, as far as I’m aware, the only organizer in the city of Seattle that had a regular sanctioned Friday Night Magic going at a gamestore. I also played, though eventually, I couldn’t play in my own tournaments due to rule changes. I also went to bigger events and would often hear the comment “Oh… I have to play against the GIRL.” I’ve had people go ask if they were paired down, I’ve had them complain, I’ve had them say “This will be an easy win” (hey, jerk, I’ve won just as many games as you to get here, so think again).

It’s been assumed that I don’t play. It’s been assumed that I was only there for my (now former) husband. It’s been assumed that I can’t figure out the rules. With Magic, it was often, “Oh. Your husband built you a nice deck.” (No, I built it and YOU got the build for yours off of the ‘net.)

Likewise, if I don’t “get” something, it’s because I have a vagina, not because, you know, that thing is hard for a lot of people to “get”.

Likewise, in RPGs, I’ve often found that I’m expected to (not that I DO, but it’s been expected that I would) sleep with somebody – either in game or out – to get what I want. It’s been assumed that it’s just better if someone else makes – and decides everything about – my character. My character is assumed lesser because she’s a girl.

In video games, if I pick a female character, she usually WILL be weaker.

If someone loses? “Oh, I didn’t get __ card that I needed” or “I wasn’t feeling well” or, even better, “You must have cheated.” The assumption being that “You’re a girl. You can’t be a good player. There’s no way you can be just as good or better than me.”

With that being said, if I’m playing with friends, I don’t usually experience this. I know a lot of gamers who are courteous to women. I had a particularly delightful experience at a big Magic tournament once when somebody told me, “I’m really glad I got to play against you. I wish more women played but, frankly, with the way most women get treated here, I’m not surprised they don’t. Thanks for sticking around and putting up with the crap. I wish you didn’t have to.” (He’d seen a previous match of mine where the guy complained the whole time about playing against the girl).

AND… there’s some pretty appalling behavior exhibited by male players towards female players, but there’s some pretty appalling behavior exhibited by male players towards male players, female players towards male players, and female players towards female players. I think that a lot of gamers are socially inept and try to cut them some slack because of it. (Not that all are. And when I play with friends, I find that to be less true, though maybe I just don’t notice it as much.)

With all of that said, I’d never stop playing just because I got the “female gamer” treatment. If I stopped doing things because of how I was treated for being a woman, there’s a lot of things I’d never do again.

This first appeared on a G+ post of mine. I wanted it here because I think it’s important for women to speak up about things like this. Please, women, don’t let people intimidate you into not playing, into not having fun.

You count.

You matter.

Yes, even if you’re a woman who is into gaming.

That Which Shall Not Be Eaten. (Or… a list of a food intolerances.)

Joe and I have some food sensitivities. When I say “We’re hard to cook for”, there’s a reason for that.

Anything containing nitrites
Anything pickled
Any meat that has been slow cooked or aged
Leftovers more than a day old, possibly two
Aged Cheeses
Abyssinian Hard (Wheat triticum durum)
Wheat Protein
Atta Flour
Barley Grass (can contain seeds)
Barley Hordeum vulgare
Barley Malt
Beer (most contain barley or wheat)
Bleached Flour
bread Flour
Brewer’s Yeast
Brown Flour
Bulgur (Bulgar Wheat/Nuts)
Bulgur Wheat
Cereal Binding
Club Wheat (Triticum aestivum subspecies compactum)
Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Cookie Crumbs
Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough Pieces
Criped Rice
Dinkle (Spelt)
Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate
Durum wheat (Triticum durum)
Edible Coatings
Edible Films
Edible Starch
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum dicoccon)
Enriched Bleached Flour
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour
Enriched Flour
Farina Graham
Flour (normally this is wheat)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Graham Flour
Granary Flour
Groats (barley, wheat)
Hard Wheat
Hordeum Vulgare Extract
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Kamut (pasta wheat)
Kecap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Ketjap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Kluski Pasta
Maida (Indian wheat flour)
Malted Barley Flour
Malted Milk
Malt Extract
Malt Syrup
Malt Flavoring
Malt Vinegar
Macha Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Matzo Semolina
Meripro 711
Oriental Wheat (Triticum turanicum)
Orzo Pasta
Pearl Barley
Persian Wheat (Triticum carthlicum)
Poulard Wheat (Triticum turgidum)
Polish Wheat (Triticum polonicum)
Rice Malt (if barley or Koji are used)
Semolina Triticum
Shot Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Small Spelt
Spirits (Specific Types)
Spelt (Triticum spelta)
Sprouted Wheat or Barley
Stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Strong Flour
Suet in Packets
Teriyaki Sauce
Timopheevi Wheat (Triticum timopheevii)
Triticale X triticosecale
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract
Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil
Udon (wheat noodles)
Unbleached Flour
Vavilovi Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Vital Wheat Gluten
Wheat, Abyssinian Hard triticum durum
Wheat amino acids
Wheat Bran Extract
Wheat, Bulgur
Wheat Durum Triticum
Wheat Germ Extract
Wheat Germ Glycerides
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germamidopropyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Wheat Grass (can contain seeds)
Wheat Nuts
Wheat Protein
Wheat Triticum aestivum
Wheat Triticum Monococcum
Wheat (Triticum Vulgare) Bran Extract
Whole-meal Flour
Wild Einkorn (Triticum boeotictim)
Wild Emmer (Triticum dicoccoides)
Glutamic acid (E 620)2, Glutamate (E 620)
Monosodium glutamate (E 621)
Monopotassium glutamate (E 622)
Calcium glutamate (E 623)
Monoammonium glutamate (E 624)
Magnesium glutamate (E 625)
Natrium glutamate
Yeast extract
Anything “hydrolyzed”
Any “hydrolyzed protein”
Calcium caseinate, Sodium caseinate
Yeast food, Yeast nutrient
Autolyzed yeast
Gelatin, depending on how it is “harvested”
Textured protein
Soy protein, soy protein concentrate
Soy protein isolate
Whey protein, whey protein concentrate
Whey protein isolate
High fructose corn syrup
Anything “…protein”
Carrageenan (E 407)
Bouillon and broth
Any “flavors” or “flavoring” (potentially… a few are okay)
Citric acid, Citrate (E 330)
Anything “ultra-pasteurized”
Barley malt
Pectin (E 440)
Anything “enzyme modified”
Anything containing “enzymes”
Malt extract
Soy sauce
Soy sauce extract (like Vegemite or Marmite)
Anything “protein fortified”
Anything “fermented”
Seasonings, depending on what’s in them
Fermented sausages: pepperoni, salami, mortadella, summer sausage, etc.
Non-fresh or improperly stored meat, fish, poultry or pickled herring.
Aged cheeses: e.g. Blue, Brick, Brie, Cheddar, Swiss, Roquefort, Stilton, Parmesan, Provolone, Emmentaler, etc (The harder ones are an absolute no. Limitations on the softer aged cheeses.)
Fava or broad beans
Concentrated yeast extract

Kai drinks soy milk, but I can’t. I tried putting it in eggs and was in pain.

Joe can’t do a lot of diet sodas and neither can I. I can’t do most regular ones.

Joe’s allergies are worse than mine, at least the effects of them. A bag of those spicy chili lime cheetos put him in the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.

Additionally, Kai has texture issues and is often bothered by “mixed foods”.

Now… would you like to invite us over for dinner?

Review: Toy Time Race Game

Toy Time Race Game (also known in our house as “the play-doh game) is a fun game using play-doh. The concept behind the game is that you’re trying to get to the end of the factory line without getting squished. It’s a basic “spin to move down a path” game but it has a few neat components.

One of the things that makes this game fun is that you make your own “marker” or “character” using play-doh and molds. It comes with red, blue, yellow, and green. But you can use any play-doh you want.

It’s also got some neat moving “gears”. These can be moved to set pieces either forward or backwards.

But perhaps the favorite component in the game is the “squisher”. If you spin and land on the recycle symbol, you get to squish somebody else’s figures. There’s a thin cardboard recycle box that squished markers go into.

If you make it to the end of the factory line, you put your Play-Doh figure into the gift box. To win, you need to get two into the box.(Younger players only need to get one in. If you’re playing with a mixed age group, this can be an equalizer.)

You can make any number of figures – we usually do four or five each to start.

This is one of the games that Kai asks to play quite frequently. He gets a lot of joy out of squishing other peoples’ characters. Joe and I usually squish each other, though sometimes we do with Kai as well. We’ve been working on encouraging Kai to squish the person that is closest to winning. He tends to pick one person and squish them any time he can – so that’s definitely something to watch out for.

Overall, it’s a pretty fun little game. And the price isn’t bad, either. You can generally pick it for between fifteen and twenty dollars.

We got ours from Toys R Us, but it’s also available from Amazon.

Kai and I put together a video, talking a bit more about the game. It’s a bit about how to play the game and shows off some of the components.

Gaming: Got Questions?

I’ve been asked by several people to write gaming posts – particularly, posts about gaming with kids. I’ve got no problems doing this and I already have a few ideas.

But I’d really like to know what it is you guys want to know, what you’d like to see.

Would you like to see reviews? Basic how-to-plays? Do you want things about boardgames, computer games, print-and-plays, etc?

What is it YOU want to see? Please leave a note in the comment section, letting me know, and I’ll see what I can do.


Gifting Philosophy

We ended up going shopping today – this was something we didn’t think we’d do until yesterday. We went to one store at about noon. We didn’t buy a lot. We didn’t get into the “Black Friday” rush. I think we also bought something online that Joe saw was a great deal, that we’d already planned to buy.

Last year, we ended up doing mainly board games. We’ll do a few this year and a few other things. But we try to get gifts that encourage interaction with the family – most of the games last year did this (not just Kai’s gifts, but ours as well).

We also like doing “educational” gifts, though we take a very liberal definition of that. (Games, at least the ones we get, almost always fall under that category.)

We’ll also be getting some gifts for Kai that are for things we KNOW he likes or things he’s asked for repeatedly – either building on an interest he already has or investing in something we know he’ll be able to build on.

We also do things that are functional/that we know he needs – for example, fun clothing/pajamas to help replace some of the stuff he’s growing out of. I’m hoping to do pajamas on Christmas Eve, for example.

This time of year is very “gift-heavy” in this house – Joe’s birthday and my birthday are both in November, Christmas is in December, and Kai’s birthday is in January, so we do a lot of talking/planning for this. This year, we’ve done a lot more “compass” planning (general) versus GPS planning (step-by-step or specifics) planning.

I like doing it this way, though it’s not my natural inclination. My mother was a dedicated Black Friday shopper and planned everything in great detail and bought lots on Black Friday and my dad and my stepmother went Black Friday shopping, though they usually didn’t buy much – often, it was for the door prizes and freebies and such. But this is far less stressful. Last year, we didn’t do shopping at all on Black Friday. We got a cute little kitty from the shelter – Zelda. It was my birthday and we were heading over the mountains, so this is the first year I’m really experiencing this with Joe. I hope it’s how we continue doing things.

Does your family have a gifting philosophy for holidays/birthdays?

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

It’s Thanksgiving here in the USA. We had a LOVELY holiday.
Last night, Kai helped us write up the ingredients we needed to make the brine for our turkey (we found a turkey breast with no additives that we could eat – so happy about that!). He doesn’t usually like to write but I’ve found that if you ask him to “help you” and it’s useful, he will, no problems.

Thanksgiving 2012

Then, we went shopping for the things we needed.

Thanksgiving 2012

Brined the turkey overnight.

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a “volcano pancake” for breakfast.

Thanksgiving 2012

And watched the Macy’s parade.

Thanksgiving 2012

He played with his cars.

Thanksgiving 2012

We all stopped to watch the Chica/Sprout float.

Thanksgiving 2012

Then, he helped cut up bananas for our fruit salad.

Thanksgiving 2012

And had dinner.

Thanksgiving 2012

Kai ate all of the dinner dishes, tried three bites of pie, and ate most of his crust. He said he wasn’t “a big fan of pumpkin pie”, which is way better than “I don’t like it” before even trying it. And, for our own personal Thanksgiving “miracle”, he liked every single dish served during dinner – except the pie dessert, of course. I’m pretty amazed. We had turkey, fruit salad, homemade cranberry-orange-pineapple sauce, potatoes baked with the turkey, sparkling apple cider, and sweet potatoes w/marshmallows.

He and I both ended up with naps (no nap for Joe!).

I’m so thankful we all got to spend today together as a family. Joe and Kai have brought so much happiness to my lives. They, along with our three kitties (I’m thankful for them, too!), have made our home a wonderful place to be. Kai always says we’re a “happy family”. I’m so thankful to be part of a happy family. I’m also thankful for all of my loved ones, my friends, and the online and in-person communities I’ve become a part of.

I’ve got a pretty amazing life. Thank you all for being a part of it.

Advice On How To Treat Your Friends With Food “Issues”

Here in the US, it’s Thanksgiving. With that in mind, I’d like to offer tips on how to treat people with food “issues” –  allergies, sensitivities, conditions. (I only use the word “issues” so I have something nice and short to lump everything together. Nothing negative is meant by that. Feel free to suggest a better word for next time.)

You are not the expert. Do not try to act like you know better than them. That’s just plain rude in any case, but particularly when you’re talking to someone who lives with something every single day.

Keep your opinions to yourself. No, really. It is not your place to tell your fat friend not to eat. It is not your place to try to cajole your thin friend into eating. It is not your place to chide someone for being “picky”. Back off.

Regardless of the reason, NEVER try to force someone to eat something. Do I really have to explain this one? Gosh, I hope not!

Please use different utensils and dishes for the “allergy-safe” food. Yes, it matters. It’s called cross-contamination. It’s really helpful if the utensils look different and can be consistent throughout. For example, red utensils for all foods containing gluten or all of the metal utensils will ONLY be used for dishes that are egg-free.

Do not suggest to your friend that they “cheat just this once”. I’m lucky. For me, that just means three days of stomach cramps, bad moods, headaches, and trips to the bathroom. For some people, it would mean death. Either way, it’s not nice.

 Labels are really useful. Little notecards beneath the food with EVERYTHING in it would be nice, but at least most of the major allergens. I understand this is a pain and that a lot of people won’t do it, but I’m more likely to dine with people who do.

Think about cross-contamination. Regular toasters will often cross-contaminate. Counters. Dishes. Pans. Everything should be cleaned really well (the toaster usually CAN’T be). Cooking the food for the person with allergies FIRST could help with this.

DO NOT TRY TO SNEAK IN FOODS just because you don’t “believe” they have the allergy or problem. For some people, this could just be minor discomfort. For others, death. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

DO NOT SNEAK CHILDREN FOOD. Particularly if you know they have allergies. They might not know what they can have. They might know and not realize or care about the consequences.

Likewise, LISTEN TO A CHILD IF THEY SAY THEY CAN’T HAVE A FOOD. Or even if they say they don’t want to. They often know what they can and cannot have. Or… maybe they don’t want to explain everything. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Maybe whatever. They’re still people. Unless you’re their parent, it’s not your place to attempt to dictate their food. That’s a conversation for the child and their parents.

Please don’t say something like, “There’s nothing wrong with it. It just looks weird because it has no ____.” Trust me, the person probably already feels awkward or bad enough. Likewise, if you are eating at THEIR place, don’t complain if they don’t have something. There’s probably a reason for it.

If someone says they can’t or don’t want to eat something, please don’t tell them why they can or should. By this, I don’t mean things like saying, “I made a gluten-free pie for you.” That’s fine. It’s things like, “But I made this special, just-for-you, because I know you can’t have ____.” This is for many many reasons, but it may be that you forgot or weren’t aware of something else and they’re trying to be nice rather than point it out.

Salad doesn’t count. I’m not necessarily meaning JUST salad. For me, it’s salad because salad is one of those foods that I can get at almost any restaurant, provided I say “No dressing” and “No croutons”. So, that usually means I eat salted lettuce, maybe with a piece of tomato. Whoopee. I’ve had friends say they were going somewhere that I could eat at and THAT is what they meant. It’s boring, it’s inconsiderate, and, frankly, I don’t want to pay $8 for something I can make at home for $2 to have something that’s sub-par and not what I want while I get to watch all of you eat all the things I wish I could have but can’t. Thanks, but no.

Please don’t be offended if we ask, “What’s in this?” after you say, “It’s ____ free.” There may be other things going on or we might just be concerned about it.

If they offer to bring a dish, please let them. Often times, this is the only way I know of to be sure that what I’m eating is “safe”.

Please respect their “no”. You should anyway, but there are times where I don’t really know that the person understands me or I don’t want to go through the trouble of explaining or I just “don’t want to”. Please respect that. For some people, they’ve made the decision to only eat things they’ve made.

I know this is all a lot of work. If you don’t want to go through it, that’s okay. If you invite someone and they say, “I’ need special accommodations,” and you can’t or don’t want to make things they can eat, let them know. Just say, “I don’t know if I can accommodate that.”

Please know that any effort you make in this direction is appreciated. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s that I’m tired of hurting because I wanted to spend time with you. We can do something another time.

I have friends who go out of their way to make sure I can eat with them and I appreciate it probably more than they will ever know. It makes a huge difference, especially when it’s holiday time and instead of being able to eat what I want, I’m only able to eat a few things. But that’s better than nothing at all.

I hope these tips have been helpful. If you have any to add, please do put them in the comments below.