Happy, Happy


I don’t know how many remember my library update post that talked about the 5th graders who like to tease me with annoying songs. Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows was a popular one for a while.

Aren’t you so glad I refreshed your memory? You’re welcome!

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping for Valentine decorations at Michael’s when I rounded the checkout line and I saw many pink fluffy unicorns. I weighed the price of a small, stuffed unicorn against the joy in torturing 5th graders with my dorktitude for all of 2 seconds before I tossed that doe-eyed horse into my cart next to the glittered hearts. Then I rushed home so I could gloat on instagram. One student, a boy, conceded the girls were going to flip, but that the unicorn needed a stage and a rainbow. I said, sure, every unicorn needs a rainbow and stage! Sadly, I don’t have that kind of time. I told him he was more than welcome to make one. I didn’t think about it again until the next week.

How awesome is this kid? I was so proud and told him so at least a million times. I just love it and it’s now on display where it’s the first thing people see when they walk into the library.

I’m so lucky to volunteer in the library. I love it so, so much. I love the kids, I love the books, I love the environment. I love that I leave my door open all the time and now the older girls come and visit me during recess. I love that they trust me enough to tell me about their crushes, frenemies, worries about grades. (“But don’t say anything Mrs. Kendall because I will just die if he finds out!”) I love that all they want are hugs and more hugs.* I love the way the younger ones get so excited when they find a book they like and how you can hear a pin drop when I read to them. I love my fancy rainbow loom ring, the pictures I get every week, and painstakingly wrapping books in clear contact paper so they’ll last longer. Seriously, I do. Methodical, brainless-but-detailed tasks are perfect for minds that don’t know how to slow down.

I especially love that while I wrapped a book under the watchful eye of a 5th grader she said, “Wow. You, like, really really care about this library and us so much. Crazy.”

She’s right on both counts.

*I only hug the girls in 5th-7th grade, but not because I think older boys don’t need hugs. On the contrary, I think they need twice as many hugs! I just don’t feel comfortable showing physical affection unless I really know the parents and they know I’m not some crazy pedobear out to destroy lives. I wrote about this some more on Facebook this morning, but let’s just say that, like Erin says in the comments, I give good side squeezes. :)

Happy, Happy

This is Mikey’s Minecraft mission report. We finally got the video to work and Mikey was able to talk without coughing too much. He’s congested in the video and a few times it’s obvious he’s holding back a cough, but I think that’s part of the charm. He doesn’t agree. Too bad! I’m thrilled I have a video with his little boy voice before it changes, and it’s congested to boot! Too cute.

A few tips from Mikey for those who want to do a project in Minecraft:

  • Always work in creative mode! Those holes you see at the end of the video are from creepers who exploded when I wasn’t in creative mode. I had to refill as many holes as possible. My mom was not happy.
  • Build with what you have. It doesn’t need to be the resource used. My mission is made of iron and bricks, but the real mission is adobe and clay.
  • Start with the biggest part, and lay down all your square stuff first. For example, I first started building from right to left, and working on the diagonal cemetery almost killed me. Then I started all over again and built the friar’s quarters and courtyards and attached the cemetery at the end.
  • No matter how your mission looks, it should be your best work. Even if some parts don’t look that great it’s still good if you tried your hardest.
  • Write a script and read it during your video. You think you will remember everything you have to say, but trust me you will forget important parts. If your mom and dad are good at Minecraft, it would really help if they flew Steve around the property while you read your script. My mom and dad are not good at Minecraft, so first I did a video showing the property and then I talked over it.
  • Build your land on super-flat mode, otherwise it will be hard to build in the mountains and stuff.
  • DON’T SPAWN PETS OR ANIMALS! I love dogs and cats, but they went crazy! I had cats and dogs all over the place and I had to chase them out of the mission before I could start filming. My mom was not happy. AGAIN.
  • Speaking of animals, I lost all my cows, pigs, and sheep! I don’t know what happened, I thought a double row of fencing would be enough to keep them inside. I guess not, because I had farm animals all over the place and eating the flowers in my courtyard. Spawn your farm animals right before you start your video!!
  • If you are trying to do a farm or something put water in between each row of plants. They will disappear if you don’t!
  • Pick a project with lots of pictures!!! Especially pictures from above!!! There was a blueprint of San Miguel in one of my books from the library, but I could have used more of the property.
  • THIS PROJECT WILL TAKE A LOT OF WORK!!!! It’s a lot of fun, and you get to play video games for school, but it’s still homework and playing Minecraft for fun is way more fun that playing Minecraft for homework!!!
  • Happy, Happy

    Mission Report

    The Mission Report is sort of done!! For the record, I don’t recommend anyone do a Minecraft mission project. Mikey disagrees with me, though now that he’s finished(ish), he admits there is a lot he would do differently. It was, for Mikey at least, an enormous amount of work. He never complained, but watching him work for hours and hours when we could have put together a $12 Mission Kit from JoAnn’s or Michaels in a quarter of that time was frustrating. On top of this, he’s been sick for the last week and couldn’t narrate his own video without a coughing fit. I had to do it in the end, not knowing what I was talking about and completely butchering the pronunciation of everything, I’m sure. Not a big deal, but this might be played at Open House. I’m not excited.

    I say the mission report is sort of done because our first cut with a camera wouldn’t import into the computer. We had to think on our feet (it was Oh Crap! o’clock by that point) and this is how we set up what is possibly the most ridiculous production ever known to cinema. See above picture. My iPad nestled in my pyrex dish organizer, on a book, then a towel, balanced precariously on my old plant stand, which is on top of our coffee table. The Mister was holding the flashlight so Mikey could read his notes while he simultaneously directed the video by making “Steve” fly around the property. This was before the coughing fits. Just imagine the Mister holding that flashlight over my shoulder for the final cut.

    Once we did that we had to figure out what to do with the video. I tried uploading it to Vimeo, but so far nothing. It might be too big? No clue. In a panic, I downloaded an app (Magisto), picked a song from my library, and let the app do its thing. It took our 7:51 minutes of video and condensed it to 2:00 minutes of Tarantino meets Fellini. Really not excited.

    Mikey is, and that’s what makes me happy. This project was his idea, he built everything, researched floor plans and aerial views of the property, read countless books (only one cover to cover, and it was very short), searched the internet for images, and even finished his written report a week ahead of schedule. He worked so hard.

    Below is the video I emailed his teacher 15 minutes ago, just so he had something to turn in on the due date. Hopefully by Sunday he’ll be able to talk and narrate the original video we took, which the Mister just told me finally imported. We are so not tech people.

    EDIT TO ADD: Mikey admitted to me this morning that he is disappointed he can’t turn in the longer version of the video. He also admitted that it bothers him that it’s my voice reading his words. He’s convinced everyone is going to think I did the project. (Sweetheart, no adult in their right mind is going to think a parent spent 37 hours in Minecraft building a mission.) I told him I understood, and that I would see if his teacher would allow him to narrate the longer video over the weekend once he can talk. I did warn him that this Mikey Narrated video would not go towards his grade, and what I emailed last night was it. Now we’re both really not excited! Haha. (What you see below is what we turned in.)

    Happy, Happy


    Nico had his first piano lesson the other day, and he loved it. He’s been practicing every day since then without me prompting him to do so. A couple of times I warn him that if he didn’t't behave or do XYZ I would take time away from the piano, and that straightened him up quickly. We’ll see how long it lasts.

    This is the opposite reaction I had to music lessons. I pitched a fit and whined when my mom told me she signed me up for piano lessons. Despite this, I took piano for over 10 years. I hated practice and I’m not sure I ever practiced more than a song or two that I really and truly enjoyed playing. The rest, forget it. Didn’t care! Performances? Loathed with every fiber of my being. Strange how I remember piano lessons so fondly, and how when I grew up I knew I wanted my children to learn musical instruments. For something I hated so much at the time, it really made an impact on me. Hopefully the boys will feel the same way about music when they grow up, too.

    Happy, Happy

    Screen shot 2014-01-09 at 9.25.24 PM

    We had two projects due on Friday. Two. A Christmas Traditions “book” and another book report. I’ve talked about projects with Mikey before, and these two were no different. He was demanding and had wild ideas. Things had to be a certain way, but those ways require time and he makes procrastinating and daydreaming an Olympic sport. By Thursday, alone for half of the week and with the printer broken, I was done. But then we went to the copy store to print up all his reports and his cute little face next to one of those blasted origami Yoda puppets popped up. And that face holding that puppet combined with the “author’s bio” he worked on made me happy. So happy. So happy I almost forgot this month is another book report and the California Mission report. I remembered.

    Speaking of which–Lord help me–does anyone know how people make those video game videos on YouTube? You know, like {{shudder}} StampLonghead where they are playing Minecraft with their voice over-top. I know how to do that on a computer, but how do you do that on Xbox? Mikey wants to know and I’m scared. Scared, scared.

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.