Thursday, February 28, 2013

Costuming Season

It's costuming season at Chez Lannis.

(Short aside: there's this book series called the Wheel of Time, and I might like it a bit... Okay, enough to fly to Altanta every April to party with awesome and like-minded geeks at an itty bitty shindig called JordanCon...)

Anyhow. Costuming season. What does that mean?

It means I occasionally upload weird pics to Facebook.

Kinda like this. (That's a corset pattern, btw.)

It means I have my sewing machine and assorted gear sitting in a corner of the kitchen.

It means I regularly commandeer the table in said kitchen for cutting, sewing, painting, gluing, and what have you, so that Mr Lannis must relocate to the living room couch for his meal eating and coffee drinking (as a shift worker he runs on a separate schedule to the rest of the house during the week. I feel no little guilt.).

It means I have a half naked dress form standing in my living room next to the window. Her name is Lady Penelope, and I'm hoping she scares the neighbours (heh).

It means I'm giddy with the thought of how many days it is before JordanCon (only 50 and counting!), and how little time that actually translates for costuming! (GAH! What'm I doing blogging?! Must SEW!)

It also means the housework is secondary. Oh, who'm I kidding? It's like seventh tier on the chart right now—waaay behind costuming, food, groceries, laundry, and, um, husband and kids are in there somewhere... this list may or may not be representational of actual priority, unless we count costuming as first and housework as near the bottom...

Who needs perpetual chores, anyway?

The one thing that it also means? Since JordanCon is in April, and I live in Canada (read: the dry, cold, snowy country with soul-crushing blank skies similar to the Blight, heh), it means it's also cracked hand season.

Yep. Cracked hand season. The tips of fingers split. Skin thickens, burns with dryness. Knuckles bleed.

I shit you not, on any day I'll discover out of nowhere that I'm bleeding all over things, without even noticing.

Coffee cups. A hairbrush. The van's steering wheel.

Imagine, if you will, folding laundry, to find a streak of fresh blood smeared across your child's shirt. GAH! Your finger's bleeding! Again! Not one, but two! And for how long? Who knows?!

Back into the wash for a cold water soak.

I'm sure you gather where I'm going with this?

Costuming season in the Lannis household means my fingers look like they've been attacked by a rabid pack of zombie bandaids desperate for human flesh...

It's virtually impossible to have any tactile sense. And this is before you count the needle-pricking and fingertip bruising that sometimes comes with detailed costuming work.

If I manage to show up at JordanCon with a costume, it's a goddamn Bel Tine miracle...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow Days

Today’s a snow day for our school.

There’s heavy wet flakes coming down, the temperature is hovering around the freezing mark, and the roads are sloppy because of it.

I get that it’s a snow day. I get that it’s a right of passage for Canadian kids to enjoy this day.

(Aside: I love Rick Mercer’s rant about the snow day.)

The thing is, I send my kids to school. Unless I absolutely must avoid doing so, they GO.

We live within walking distance, so I don’t consider attendance an option—if the buses are canceled, it means nothing to walkers.

Some people might assume this is because I use the school as free daycare.

Well, I’m a stay at home mom, and my youngest goes to school only part time. So guess what? I don’t get 40 hours a week without kids underfoot. Not saying I want to go to work (the life of a spoiled princess treats me well, thankyouverymuch), it’s that if I have an appointment, there are only certain days when I can be absolutely sure that I won’t have kids with me... Mondays, Wednesdays, every other Friday—but that’s only if the Friday isn’t a Professional Activity Day for the teachers, and the Monday isn’t a statutory holiday.

So I get Wednesdays. Wednesdays, without a doubt, are the only day of the week I can schedule an appointment and know for certain that I won’t have a tag along...

And today is Wednesday. And a snow day. And an appointment.

So yes, today, it could be argued that I am using the school as daycare.

But I have my other reasons, too.

When I was young, I was a bus student. My mother was a teacher. We were NEVER allowed to stay home on snow days. She would drive us to school, and pick us up on her way home. Unless our father was off work, until we were old enough to stay home alone that was the way it went.

But I loved snow days!

Snow days are exceptionally fun days at school. They’re more exciting than substitute teachers, because even though substitute teachers mean a mental break from the everyday (regardless of the fact that the curriculum is still covered), snow days mean anything goes.

I even loved snow days in high school (gasp!).

Want to know why? Because I got to spend the entire day doing whatever I wanted!

Yes, if I wanted to hang out in the art room and do nothing, I could.

If I became a fixture in the library’s reading room, it was fine.

If all I wanted to do was sit in the cafeteria playing cards with my friends, nobody cared.

And because I was a good kid (read: boring as plain toast, but generally likable), the teachers didn’t mind if I was kicking around. In fact, I was probably helpful. I was that teenager who could actually carry on conversations with adults and enjoy it.

I was weird. I’ll own it.

But here’s what I hope my kids are learning today. Today, on this snow day...

I hope my oldest (the one with mild anxiety) is learning that school is fun. His reflexive response to school is a negative one, and if snow days give him warm fuzzies and remind him that school is a great place, I’m happy.

He’s also not incredibly social—I was shy when I was his age, too—so if today he gets an extra chance to talk to his peers, and play with his friends, and oh, hell, just smile more, I’m thrilled.

Because right now? On this day? When I checked the school board’s website and announced the buses were canceled, my boys’ eyes lit up and they began dancing around the living room.

Not because it meant they got to stay home from school. No, not that.

Because it meant adventure, surprise, and who knows what’s in store?!

School as a positive. THAT’S what I want them to learn today.

The snow day. Who knew it was good for a school's PR?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Empty Today


I’m a worrier. Or at least, I am innately—I've worked very hard to suppress that tendency.

As a terminal realist, I've taught myself to look at situations with objectivity and gallows humour, and worries tend to dissolve when you add a dose of quirky perspective.

I never use to—suppress worry, that is—until I had kids. Any parent will tell you worry can be overwhelming when you’ve got a new baby, and having older kids doesn’t quell the brooding—it just changes the subject matter.

It doesn't help that Mr Lannis has the same anxiousness bred into him. We'd circled through digestive-related spirals of doom because there was sand in our firstborn's diaper—OMG! His intestines are dissolving into grit! How do you shit sand WHEN YOU'VE NEVER BEEN TO A GODDAMN BEACH?!—only to realize a day later that it was the byproduct of a newly added dietary staple: Cheerios.

Surprise! ::headdesk::

I never used to worry about my worrying (heh), until my son was diagnosed with mild anxiety. He’s a worrier, too.

Fucking lovely.

(Heh. The kid comes by it honestly.)

So I started analysing the world and our inherent worries in order to better prepare him. He's now seven. He needs to be a kid and enjoy his life, to let go of those concerns and actually live.

We’ve developed a couple of coping strategies, and one of our repeated exchanges goes like this:

Me: Who’s job is it to worry?

Him: Yours.
Me: What’s your job?
Him [occasionally said with dejection]: To go to school and learn and have fun...

It’s laughable, to hear him grumble that reply, but it works. Soon after this reminder his shoulders will lift and he’ll bounce away to play.

Since he’s a perceptive little guy, he latches onto the serious subjects around him. Birth. Death. Poverty. You name it. It’s not that he’s exposed to any of this on a regular basis, but he’s a solemn kid, and thinks a lot. Considers. Asks questions.

Naturally, we discuss his concerns.

And since he carries so much so heavily with his anxiety, I regularly have to remind him it’s not his job to worry about things—that’s an adult’s job.

This is where Pinterest comes in again, with its snapshot of wisdom...

I’m debating putting this on a canvas and hanging it in my house. It illustrates exactly what Mr Lannis and I are trying to teach ourselves and our boys.

There’s no point in worrying because it’s energy wasted. If there’s something bothering you, there’s either nothing you can do about it—in which case no reason to worry—or there is something you can do, in which case there’s also no reason to worry... you just need to go do that thing that’ll fix whatever it is.

So many people need to learn this. Kids and adults, alike.

Stop emptying your today. Please.

Monday, February 25, 2013

FEED by Mira Grant - Book Review

[Note: This review was originally published on in January 2011. Seanan McGuire is the Author Guest of Honour at JordanCon 2013, and I am positively stupid with excitement!]

Rating: 4/5 -  A satisfying read that’s worth every word.

Title: FEED (book one of The Newsflesh Trilogy)

Author: Seanan McGuire writing as Mira Grant

Format: mass market paperback

Published: 2010

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Science fiction

Publisher:  Orbit

Landed in my hands: purchase myself

Summary (from the cover blurb):

The year was 2014.  We had cured cancer.  We had beaten the common cold.  But in doing so we had created something new, something terrible that no one could stop.  The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives — the dark conspiracy behind the infected.  The truth will out, even if it kills them.


Okay.  Here’s where I trot out the first of my many dirty secrets:  I’m a genre bigot.  Yep.  I read speculative fiction, but I’ve never read a zombie book before, and I wouldn't deny it if I was accused of turning my nose up in the general stinky, sticky, gory zombie direction.  Last January, though, I decided that the year would include new reads — stuff out of my usual norm.  And with that in mind, when Rebecca from Dirty Sexy Books proclaimed Feed as the winner for the December book club slot, I decided to give it a go.

And I’m certainly glad I did.

Feed bucked my vision of what a zombie story would be.  Sure, there were gory undead running around, along with super-charged security to help keep the living alive, but I didn’t expect to find a political campaign and an engaging conspiracy theory inside this book, regardless of what the cover blurb said.

Immediately the story opens with action, and keeps moving.  If there isn’t action on screen, then the narrator, Georgia, is explaining the dystopian, zombiefied world in an engaging way.  It helps that Georgia is a blogger, used to reporting the news and keeping to facts.  She’s entertainingly observant when it comes to her companions and the events around her.  I’m surprised I managed to put the book down, because every time I picked it up, I was shocked at how quickly I was engrossed again.

There were several things about this book that I found refreshing, including the shocking fact that the coverage of the US political campaign didn’t bore me.  (Seriously — this is big!  When people say "politics" my brain hears the wordless wonh-wonh of adult babble from Shultz' Peanuts.)  Georgia has a snarky, smart slant to her that makes her recount of politics interesting -- she’d gloss over the boring parts or pick it apart in an amusing, grumbly way, or focus briefly on technology or a historical tidbit that added to the story’s realism.

The presentation of technology in 2039 is realistic and yet not too tech-y.  The lockdown procedures and constant testing for infected individuals are logical, and though they feel paranoid at times, it’s mostly due to culture shock.  I couldn’t imagine wandering around constantly being pricked, basically every time I enter or leave a place (or want to get into my own vehicle).  And every time someone had to have their hand jabbed, I thought of how freaking painful that would be — constantly?  And yet, no one really complains until the very end!  (Thankfully someone did — it was beginning to drive me bugnuts!)

What I absolutely love about Feed, though, was the close brother-sister relationship between Georgia and Shaun.  I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with such realistic sibling closeness, and given the circumstances of their lives and the world they’re in, it makes perfect sense.  This quote from Georgia kind of sums it up:

Steve’s eyebrows arched upward.  “You two would rather share a room?”
His expression was a familiar one.   We’ve been seeing it from teachers, friends, colleagues, and hotel concierges since we hit puberty.  It’s the “you’d rather share a room with your opposite-gendered sibling than sleep alone?” face, and it never fails to irritate me.  Social norms can bite me.  If I need to have someone guarding my back when the living dead show up to make my life more interesting than I want it to be, I want that someone to be Shaun.  He’s a light sleeper, and I know he can aim.

So yeah, overall?  Feed is one of those books that makes me happy I forced myself out of my comfort zone.  Cheers!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lessons from Pinterest

Yes, I’m one of those crazy ladies on Pinterest. And since my filter’s broken, I occasionally pin inappropriate stuff. Truth.

This post isn't about that. (Sorry to disappoint.)

One of my favourite boards, though, is titled Things To Keep In Mind. It’s usually safe.

All it is, really, is a bunch of sayings. Tidbits of wisdom pared down into concise messages... some of them have become my mantras of sanity.

Like this one:

And we all know that person who needs a good smack upside the head because they just don’t GET it—that happiness is a choice; that just because bad shit happens to you, you don’t need to let it win by tainting your life with such negativity and victimhood.

Seriously, there are days where I wish it is kosher to blurt out, “No wonder your life is such a drag, you have so much shit weighing you down! Let it GO!”

And I don’t mean pretend it never happened—learn from it. Move on.

Sometimes the bad things that happen to us are due to personal choices, and sometimes it’s the universe shitting on us for no good reason. It doesn’t matter either way—pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and grow.

In short: I have no patience for victimhood.

And somebody out there who knows me in real life is going to gasp and be mortified and assume (wrongly) that this post is a reaction to them. No.

No, no one did anything to spark this post. When I was considering blogging again, the idea of discussing Pinterest swirled within the brainstorm, and that's where this comes from. This is easily one of my top five favourite quotes I've come across on Pinterest, so I thought it would be as good a place to start as any...

So go. Draw strength.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Blog or Not to Blog...

Not a huge question to some, but I’ve wavered for a while. See, I used to blog periodically on The Mrs, but my partner in crime has since decided to shut down her show—completely her decision and justified, no ill-will here. I’ve also been known to write a book review or two over at Post Whatever, but content has been... lagging... for a while. Life interferes, especially with voluntary projects.

So do I open my own shop? Start writing my own blog? By running my own show I’d have a lot more freedom of choice—not that the previous partners were restrictive, but in principle, by calling the shots I only have to answer to myself...

(HEY! I can curse ALL I FUCKING WANT!)

So I lean towards doing it, but... but... but...

The thing is: it’s a lot of work.

To decide a topic, to write the post, to gather a corresponding image (the internet is a visual beast, after all), to grab a minute to put it all together and upload it for public consumption... And that’s just a single post...

What about subject matter? A focused blog? What shall I write about? Anything in particular? Or just all the rambly shit tumbling in my brain?

What about anonymity? Do I keep myself completely anonymous and let it all hang out? Or do I take a marginal step back, shield my family from strangers, but still share my posts with family and friends who know us? Blatantly labeling our family for the whole wide internet goes against my better judgement—but sharing a bit under the veil of partial obscurity, well, I could probably handle that (again).

Really, though, I wonder... do I want to commit? Do I have TIME? and if I do, does something else suffer?

That, then, is when I hit the truth...

When I was blogging on a weekly basis with The Mrs, I was highly productive in my personal writing. Now? Well, I have lots of edits that I keep putting off. Perhaps blogging would be the kick start that resets my internal mechanism into perpetual motion?

Here goes...