29 November 2010

Ample Moose

So!

Both of my mom's parents spoke French fluently.
Like really, truly fluently, what with the speaking and the reading and the writing and the listening.
My grandma grew up with a French governess.
My grandpa lived in Paris for awhile, and was just one of those clever multilingual people.

My mom isn't fluent, but she has a perfect accent and pronunciation.
(When she was seven, she was whisked off to French boarding school, in Switzerland (a great source of childhood trauma))

I don't speak any French whatsoever.
Well.
I know how to say I am lost, and I am a pineapple, and My name is Jennifer, and Do you speak English?
You get the idea?
Yes, I think you do.
I don't speak any French, but I grew up sort of in an environment with French swirling about over my head, and I'm used to the sound of it, and what not, and for whatever (likely pretentious) reasons, some French words have always gotten thrown around, yknow?

ANYHOW!

That was your back story.

Moving onward!

Grapefruit in French is pamplemousse (pronounced like pahm-play-mousse, sorta. Ish).

Gabriel loves grapefruits.

My uncle or someone else maybe(?) was calling a grapefruit a pamplemousse, and somehow that morphed into my family calling grapefruit pample-moose (like ample with a p), so OF COURSE we made the plural of pample-moose pample-meese (because, obviously), and we think this is all hilarious, for we are easily amused.

AND THE WHOLE POINT OF ALL THIS BUILD UP IS AS FOLLOWS:

Gabriel thinks that grapefruits are called ample meese.  Or just ample moose, if you're talking about one.

And I refuse to correct this problem.

Because.

AMPLE MOOSE.

Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

Oh, no.  Or I guess, not really.

I mean, I tend to think about everything to excess, so yes. Technically I've thought about it. But not like, gee, that's something I'm going to do now, thanks for bringing it up!

I'm chronically optimistic, even when I'm feeling like I hate life and the world. 

And I'm irritatingly obsessed with problem solving, so I tend to be all....WHAT CAN I DO TO FIX THINGS.

So no, not really.

Have you?
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30 Days of Truth

24 November 2010

Thankful, 2010

10/29/10
My own pirate-tiger
Mike, Ben, Duncan
Mike, Ben, Duncan
Grandma and my dad
Grandma, Dad
Elijah and Daniel
Elijah, Daniel
New Car Pics
in our new car
Me & Stella
Stella
Tatiana, Maria, Me
Tatiana, Maria
Lotus
Lotus
James
James
Rio del Mar
Beach
Love her
Amber
Molly and Gabey Love
Molly
Me & Darci
Darci
Cousins
Laura, Kristen
Cousins
Laura, Jillian
Driveway, 3/28/10
ranch
IMG_0407
Lisa, Colette
IMG_7067
V, Titi
IMG_6542
Megan
IMG_0105
Mira
Yup.
Leah, Daniel
Daniel
Daniel
Goofs
Caleb, Simon
Elliot
Elliot
Redwoods
redwoods, mom
Pirate eye?
Paris
Camille
Camille
Cheeky Kisses
Julia
IMG_6651
Mary, Aurora
Cherry and Betty
Cherry, Betty
Dancing with Myself
Amnesty
DRINKS!
Briya, Brandy
Arm Wrestling
Adam
@thebloggess
Jenny
Roomies
Julia, Lora
Holding Hands
Friendship, Family, Love

Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.

I've been lucky.

I haven't had too many experiences that might end in death.

The ones I've had, didn't end that way.

Luck.
--
30 Days of Truth

23 November 2010

Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs

Huh.
No, I don't think I will.

Here's a CD that Gabriel recently made. He picked out all the songs and then he put them in the order he wanted and then he decorated the CD itself and the case.
Gabriel's CD
Yes.
He's awesome.
--
30 Days of Truth

Christmas Card

Remember how I was debating holiday cards, and had it narrowed down to three?

Remember how this year I was going to try to do a picture of me and Gabriel together?

Yeah, well.

None of that happened, but I don't think that matters.
(click to embiggen)
Now don't forget to act surprised when you get it in the mail!

22 November 2010

Small Business Saturday: Sockshop and Shoe Co.

Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses. American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27. They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook. Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button (at the bottom of this post) and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply.
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When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to take me to The Sock Shop.  It was my favorite.  Rows and rows of socks. Socks with kittens, socks with bows, socks with snakes, socks with every imaginable pattern and design.  They also had tights in every color, and tights in patterns, and wool sweater tights, and sheer silky tights and tights, tights, tights. I remember how fantastic I thought it was, that there could be an entire store full of SOCKS.  I loved it.

Today, The Sock Shop is The Sockshop and Shoe Co.  In addition to the rows upon rows of socks, this store is my absolute shoe heaven.  Still a locally owned Santa Cruz business, they carry over 60 shoe brands, including Keen, Born, Birkenstock, Dansko, Simple, Naturalizer, and others.  I have a serious thing for well-made, comfortable shoes that maintain their style, and I can always find a dozen pairs that I like.  The Sock Shop and Shoe Co. also keeps me well stocked in my rainbow collection of tights.  As you probably know, I'm a big dress wearer, and in the winter time, that means that I wear tights several times a week.  They are one of the only places in town that I can find a variety of quality children's shoes, and with Gabriel's difficult-to-fit narrow feet, I'm certainly grateful.

If you are local to the Santa Cruz area, or just visiting, I would absolutely recommend stopping in to take a look, and to support a great small business.  You can also buy socks (not shoes) from The Sock Shop online, and Socksmith, and they now have a storefront in San Francisco, at Sockshop Haight Street.

Remember to support your local small businesses this holiday season.  The Sockshop and Shoe Co. of Santa Cruz gets my hearty vote.
Small Business Saturday

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I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Review: Battle of Giants - Dinosaurs Strike

I reviewed Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike with my almost 5-year-old son.  Although it's rated E for everyone 10+, Gabriel and I already play our Wii together, so he's got the hand-eye coordination bit down, and after doing a preliminary cruise through the game and graphics myself, I decided that the dinosaur fighting wasn't any kind of violence that I had problems with him viewing (there's neither blood nor gore, just some lightning bolts and dinos getting knocked over).  Because we only have one nunchuk thingie, it turned out that we couldn't play each other at all;  we just took turns.

There are three modes of play: domination, which is one player only, and you beat a series of 9 computer-controlled dinosaurs (think Mike Tyson's Punch Out for Wii (what you don't remember that??)), versus, where you select a dinosaur and play either your friends or the computer in a single battle,  or tournament, where you participate in a tournament of up to 16 characters and try to advance to the next rounds, like a playoff.  All of our testing was playing against the computer, on account of remote situation, but the game supports up to 4 players at once.

When you select your dinosaur to battle, there are initially two dinosaurs to choose from, which you name and customize by color and pattern.  As far as actual game play is concerned, you use the nunchuk to move (top control stick), dodge (Z) and block (C).  You use the Wii Remote to attack, by pressing A and B.  As far as actual playing is concerned, I didn't notice that the controls really did all that much.  I just pressed all the buttons a lot, and that....worked.  I didn't notice that the control stick on the nunchuk really moved me around at all.  My official strategy was one where I pressed A and B repeatedly.  Doing this, I advanced all the way to the end of the domination mode.  Taking that into consideration, this game isn't really for the advanced player.  Gabriel had a lot of fun pounding away at the keys and actually winning rounds when doing so (normally his PRESS ALL THE BUTTONS strategy gets him killed after the first round or so, but in Dinosaurs Strike, he was doing just about as well as me). 

The graphics looked good, and the dinosaurs were nice looking.  The music is not obnoxious at all, and actually well orchestrated.  The voice over is not obnoxious.  I think that this is a really fun fighting game for younger, or less experienced players, or kids just trying out fighting games.  For more advanced gamers, I would probably suggest a game that presented a greater challenge, or that involved a more in depth strategy than PRESS ALL THE BUTTONS.

We had fun, and will continue to play the game beyond the scope of this review.  I would buy this game for Gabriel or my 7-year-old nephew, but would look for something more advanced if shopping for my teenaged brothers.
--
While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity. (My Amazon links are the affiliate kind, so if you click on them and then buy this product from that click, I might get some monies, just fyi)

Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life

I wish I had spent a whole year abroad when I was in college.

I wish I had devoted myself fully to learning a single second language, instead of dabbling in many.

I wish I had treated myself better when I was younger.

I wish I had lived alone (sans boyfriend or roommates) prior to motherhood.
--
30 Days of Truth

21 November 2010

Review: Style Lab - Fashion Design

 Style Lab: Fashion Design, is a game where you design your own tops (t-shirts or sweatshirts), hats and bags. There are a variety of colors, tones, fonts and images that can be used to make different original creations. When you're done designing an item, you can actually upload it via wi-fi connection to the internet, and order your own original design.
I played this game with my cousins (girls aged 8 and 6) to get the full kid perspective on game 'coolness.'
In short, it passed.
I got lots of "WHOA THIS IS AWESOME," and "Did you see this part? This part is COOL!"

This is solidly a 'girl' game.  You start by creating a game avatar (a female character to represent you in the Style Lab). There are a variety of in-game 'friends' who guide you through the operation and game basics.
You can go through challenges where you design items for other in-game characters, earning new images, as well as 'hearts' when you discover a character's favorite things. Once you earn enough hearts, you can compete in ribbon events. These events feature specific design challenges, which are scored, and which earn you additional images for design.
The main menu items are workshop, where you are free to create and save your own designs, wardrobe, where your saved items are, and where you can change the outfits of your avatar, diary, which is where you see your friends, accept their design challenges, and enter ribbon events, avatar, which is where you change the look of your character, and options, for game settings.
The user interface is intuitive. I had no trouble navigating my way through the program, nor did my cousins (though they are far more tech savvy than I am). The characters draw you through the game in such a way that you learn how to design different clothing items and bags as you go.  The "E for everyone" rating is accurate, everything is appropriate, etc.
We didn't actually order any of the clothes we designed, but we did upload them to our online shop, and while I had no trouble doing so, this isn't something that I would have let the girls do on their own (I'm pretty strict when it comes to internet access). The service through which you can order your products is Zazzle, a company from which I have ordered products in the past, with good luck.  This service seemed pretty clear cut and easy.
The girls LOVED designing their own clothes, and I think we ultimately will end up ordering some of the designs, we just haven't done so at this time. 

I think it would be nice if the game was a little bit less stereo-typically girly. My son Gabriel was super interested in designing himself some dinosaur-robot-skeleton shirts, but this is purely in the camp of rainbow-sunshine-bunnies. I don't know if it could be that there was a boy version of the game, or if there could just be more of a boy interface, or if, when you created your avatar and selected your favorite things, if there were boy avatars and boy favorite things, or maybe just gender neutral? I think that would be a big improvement on the game, and I now plenty of little boys who would love to order their own shirts and hats that they designed.  I think that my soccer-obsessed cousin (girl, 8) would have really loved some sportier design options.
I also think the game could be improved by supporting multiple accounts.  As it is, it's set up to support a single character.  Since I was testing this game out with the help of not one, but two little girls, I can say that we certainly would have liked to create two avatars with two sets of favorites and chances to complete the different challenges.
Would I recommend this game to a friend?  If you have a little girl under, say, 12, I'd say yes, definitely.  I might hesitate on recommending it if you have multiple girls, as the inability to save multiple users' data might end in some tears, but I suppose that depends on your girls.

This was a good, fun game, and we all had fun testing it out.

Again, Style Lab: Fashion Design.  Thumbs up.
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While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity. (My Amazon links are the affiliate kind, so if you click on them and then buy this product from that click, I might get some monies, just fyi)