Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saying Yes

It has always been my parenting philosophy that if something won't matter 10 years down the road, it won't matter today.  With a philosophy like that, you would think it would be easy to say YES often.  But temporary comfort and ease interfere with the best-laid philosophies and too often I say NO instead because I don't want to clean up the mess, don't want to deal with the fall-out, and am just plain lazy and selfish.

My friend Jessica Bowman over at Bohemian Bowmans is challenging me (and everyone else) to "say yes" more often.  And she's right.

So yesterday I said yes.  A friend of my daughters' is moving away soon and they want to squeeze as much time as possible in with her before she goes.  When they asked yesterday if she could sleep over this weekend instead of thinking about how much the house needs to be cleaned and how I'll have to restock the fridge and what a pain it is to come up with additional sleeping space in our house and how annoying giggling girls at 4 AM are, I just said, "Yes."

There will probably be some panic cleaning.  And I'll have to restock the fridge.  And I'll probably have to tell them to "keep it down" a million times before I fall asleep.  But it's worth it to say YES.

Jessica asked for pictures with this post, but the forthcoming event hasn't happened yet.  I'll update over the weekend with pictures of giggling girls at 4 AM.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sorry for the MIA

I know, I'm overdue on a Recipe Busters and plenty of other stuff.  It just got lost in the shuffle of "life sucks."  Most of it you probably already know about like my sweet friend Lauren losing her son Elijah.  But what I haven't been talking much about is my cat, Tux, being sick.  About a week ago I thought she was on death's door.  She was sick in a bad, bad way.  But we took her to the vet and it turned out she was just diabetic and had a urinary tract infection and the vet said she would be fine with antibiotics and diabetic cat food.  And then tonight she died.  My husband and younger daughter, Shannen, have taken her to the farm for a proper burial.  I'm here at home with my older girl, Mindie, sobbing my eyes out.

Eleven and a half years ago my sister-in-law's husband worked at a lumberyard.  A stray cat decided to have kittens there and then did what so many stray cats do: got killed.  Two cats from that litter survived.  A scrappy little brindle and a sweet black and white, both female.  First they went to my sister-in-law's house but her assortment of strays didn't care for the competition.  So they went out to my mother-in-law's house to become barn cats.  The existing barn cats beat the crap out of the new kittens.  The next Sunday my children went to visit BeBe and PaPa and came home in tears at the plight of the kittens, who were both injured badly and miserable.  They wanted to bring the little kitties home and rescue them.
She loves fleece blankets as much as I do.

Now I've always been an animal over and it was the first time in my life I had actually been without pets or livestock.  But that was because I had my hands full with a toddler and a 3-year-old.  But what could I do?  I promised to go look at the cats and see what we could do.  I expected to possibly come home with a kitten.  What I found was a fuzzy brown bundle with one luminous eye and one eye scrunched shut.  I tried to check that there was an eye in the socket but the lid was firmly sealed and it was going to hurt her to look.  She was huddled in a ball on the porch, safely away from the barn cats.  Next to her was an adventurous black and white kitten who was playfully exploring the world but darted back every few minutes to cuddle and comfort her sister.  I'm a soft touch.  I couldn't break them up and I couldn't turn them away.

Both cats came home with us.  They had already been named by my sister-in-law and the children insisted we couldn't change them.  So Izzy and Tux became part of our family.  Safe and sanitary conditions soon healed up Izzy's eye and today she has two luminous golden eyes.  She's a playful, active cat who sometimes rolls over on her back as if demanding belly rubs just so she can sink her claws into your hand and bite the crap out of it.  Tux wasn't playful anymore, though.

About six months after she came home with us we got some new furniture.  During a kittenish game of chase, Tux slid under one of the new bookcases and cleanly snapped one of her rear hocks in two.  Though it healed in time, her playful kittenhood ended that day as the vet wrapped a plaster cast around the leg.  She became, in the words of Shannen, "a lump of meatloaf."  She was a matronly cat and like most old ladies, she had a temper.  Most of the time she sat on the back of a chair in the living room or in the doorway between the dining room and the laundry room where all the air from the central cooling system seems to get caught in an eddy and just watched the world go by.  But sometimes Izzy or Bass (the dog that later joined our family) would walk by and Tux would growl and reach out and swat them.

In the winter, Tux warmed my feet because she had a particular affinity for my fuzzy winter blanket.  If I moved my feet too much I, too, felt her ire.  But most of the time she just laid there and purred.  Her purr sounded like a creaky rocking chair.  Her meow was almost inaudibly soft.  She snored sometimes when she slept.

Eleven isn't very old for a cat but it was all the time we got with her.  She was a good cat.  Izzy has always been Mindie's cat, but Tux has always been mine.  It wasn't something anybody agreed on, it was just what Tux decreed.  She put up with the rest of the family but she loved me.  When I've been in the midst of a deep depression, Tux would leave her sacred places and find me wherever I was in the house, and comfort me.  When I've needed love, she's somehow always sensed it and come through.  And I do the same for her.  Sometimes when I wander through the house I can almost hear her calling for me.  I detour and find her rolled over on her back, waiting for some belly love.  She revs up that creaky purr that's almost always on as soon as she feels my fingers on her tummy or back and the next thing I know she's rolling around like a kitten again making sure I pet all the places she wants pet.

The last week with her has been rough.  I've been keeping her hydrated with an eye dropper.  Every half hour I go force as much water into her as I can before she refuses to swallow any more.  Usually half an ounce or so per watering.  Antibiotics twice a day.  And lots of love and attention.  She hasn't been well at all.  She's barely even been conscious.  To be honest, I've thought more than once that she was dead when I went to give her more water.  The vet left me so hopeful that any minute she would turn a corner and be ok, but she's just slid farther and farther down.  The last two days have been the worst.  She would be alert in the morning, moving around a little.  But within an hour or so she had exhausted her reserve of energy for the day.  This has been the worst weekend of my life.
Tux, forefront, in one of her sacred places.

And now she's gone.  It's not the same kind of hurt that I felt when I lost a parent but it still hurts.  And I'm sad.  It nearly broke me to carry her out to the truck and say goodbye.  I want to tell my people friends what a hole I have in my heart tonight but everybody's already really down and stressed and asked to stop focusing on the downer stuff and I don't want to add to the burden anymore.  So here it is.  Here's my goodbye to my furry friend.  I miss you already, Tux.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Because we're weird

So lately I've been catching up on the archives over at The Bloggess.  And she's totally inspired me with her haunted dollhouse.  As I posted earlier today, my older girl and I love horror movies.  And books.  And pretty much we love spooky/scary anything.  So we've decided to build our own haunted dollhouse.  Only A) I'm kind of afraid because last time I tried to build a dollhouse? Did not end with a product that was suitable to ever talk about again and B) I'm cheap.  So what's a girl to do?  I decided that the first issue could be addressed by the old adage "practice makes perfect."  I just need to build more dollhouses and maybe I'll get better at it! Also, if I start off with smaller, simpler dollhouses that would probably be better than the huge Victorian monstrosity with like 9 rooms that I tried last time.  And I read about this thing called "kit bashing" where you basically alter dollhouse kits to make a more custom and personal dollhouse.

So our basic plan is to start off with this and work our way up from there.  Mindie said this looks like a "charming little townhouse that totally isn't haunted" and I pointed out that it doesn't come painted and shingled and stuff so we can totally haunt the place up with our design choices.  I would show you my artistic vision in Photoshop but I suck at Photoshop.  But basically just picture it with gloomy, peeling paint and a weathered roof that's missing shingles.  And maybe some of that cute gingerbread dinged up and stuff.  But this is a little two-room dollhouse and who ever heard of a haunted two room house?

Our vision is much more grand.  "Rose Red" is a favorite movie of ours.  It's based on the idea of the Winchester Mystery House.  A house that keeps growing and metastasizing.  Which?  That's creepy right there.  And we can totally achieve that effect by kit bashing and adding on more dollhouses of other styles!  So we get practice, which can only be a good thing, plus we make our house creepier at the same time.

And before you point out that that's probably not the greatest house to kit bash because it has that weird little pokey outy bit on the side, I hasten to point out that the other side that you can't see in the picture?  Totally flat except the overhang of the roof.  There's a window on each floor on that side that I think could be cut out as a door when we're ready to add on and then we just have to deal with the roof thing, which I think maybe we can manage.

Especially since we plan to do this baby up right before we move on to any future additions.  Like wiring it for electric and fully furnishing it and everything.  So, yeah, we're probably a ways away from messing with the kit bashing mess anyway.

But seriously, is this not the coolest idea ever?  The Winchester Mystery Dollhouse.  Which probably?  Has been done to death elsewhere.  But not by us.  And we're excited about the possibilities.

Bloggity Update

Hey y'all.  Just wanted to let you know what's going on at this end.  First off, I know I haven't been replying to comments.  That was because every time I tried Blogger just kind of ate my comment without a word.  Turns out that the problem was in a cookie setting that comes default on Chrome that's buried in the middle of nowhere that rejects the third-party cookies that Google uses for Blogger comments.  Yes, Google is the new Microsoft.  And I'm lame.  Anyway, finally got that sorted so I promise to reply to comments more often.

Also, I'm working on moving away from Blogger anyway.  In the beginning this blog was really for ME instead of for YOU, my not-quite-tens of readers.  So I didn't care that it was on a horrible shared hosting package with a canned backend.  It was still less trouble than setting up a new WordPress blog on my husband's domain.  But now that I have readers and am actively working on building a blog that people will want to read, I've decided I really need more versatility and control than free hosting on a template-oriented site can offer.  In the near future this blog will be moving to a new WordPress blog hosted on my own server with a real domain name and everything.  I'll let you know when that move happens, and one way or another all of my content will move with me, even if I have to copy-paste it all or something.

And I'm also actively seeking your suggestions for my "Recipe Buster" Friday feature.  If there's a recipe you come across on Pintrest, or really anywhere on the internet, that you want to see me try out, just leave a comment on my blog or e-mail me (epithemeus at gmail.com) or hit me up on Pintrest (http://pinterest.com/epithemeus/) or drop me a line on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/epithemeus although you probably already knew that since 99% of my traffic comes from Facebook anyway) or something (can't think what else?  message in a bottle?  carrier pigeon?).

Why I Love Horror Movies

I mentioned in a group of Christian unschoolers today that my daughter and I have a passion for horror movies.  Someone asked why.  This is that answer.

I was actually exposed to very scary stuff in movies far too young.  Basically if my parents and/or teen sisters wanted to see a movie, I got to go along for the ride because going to the movies wasn't a convenient or easy thing in our rural community.  It involved an 80-mile round trip and you didn't do that just for movies, you did shopping and other things at the same time.  Which meant it wasn't possible to just hire a sitter for me so they could catch a movie.  Anyway, I was an anxious kid with a lot of fears anyway and those movies scared the tar out of me.  Even movies that probably shouldn't have like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or The Dark Crystal.  I hated those kinds of movies.  In fact, I only within the past 5 years finally watched Temple of Doom all the way through and I've still never seen all of The Dark Crystal.  My point is, my love of horror movies is uniquely my own.  It's not the result of nurture.  I stayed far, far from scary movies until I was 13 or so when I had any control over what I watched.

But at around 13 I was having a whole different set of problems.  I felt emotionally numb a lot.  I think I was probably scared a lot, too, but I didn't realize it at the time.  That was when I first latched onto horror flicks.  It was before the horror renaissance of the late 90s by nearly a decade so A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Friday the Thirteenth endless sequels were the only "current" horror films that were really available.  Instead of watching that schlock, I found myself digging through the video rental store for older horror movies.  I started with the slasher films of the late 70s and early 80s and eventually ended with silent "monster" films of the teens. In the process I discovered that blood and guts didn't frighten me much.  But I got a total charge out of the adrenaline rush of movies that created tension and dread.  Alfred Hitchcock is a great example.  When I watched that kind of movie, I broke out of that emotionally deadened space I lived in.  My fear rose to a level where I could FEEL for a while.  But it was a safe thing.  I wasn't leaving scars on my body, I wasn't in danger of killing myself or harming anyone else.  It was "totally harmless."

Now, I'm sure you can see the flaw in my logic.  Not all horror movies are totally harmless.  I saw and exerted mental energy on things that can't be unseen or unthought.  But by and large, I don't think I hurt myself any worse than I was already hurting from things over which I had no control anyway.  And in time I learned to be much choosier about what I watched.  But I never left the horror genre behind.  To this day, I love the thrills, the pulse-pounding terror, of a well-written psychological horror film.

My daughter is a different story.  She came to horror in a different way and has explored it differently.  I shielded her from my scary movies for a very long time, until I was certain that she genuinely was interested and that she was mature enough to handle them.  Then I helped her dip her feet in slowly.  It started with simple things.  Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and Fear Street.  Terror calculated for tweens.  When she was "so done" with those we moved on to other "safe" and "clean" horror.  I walked her through my world of Hitchcock and Shirley Jackson and Lovecraft.  We mostly watched together because it's more fun being afraid with a friend.  We talked about what we were watching and how it made us feel.  She became experienced with the tropes of the genre and adept at predicting what would happen next.  Slowly, very slowly, we branched out together.  When I was sure she could safely deal with a little more we explored one of my favorite sub-genres, the haunted asylum/hospital movie.  And haunted houses.  We talked about the science and the spirituality of ghosts and poltergeists and the other things we were viewing.

Only last year she finally worked herself up to slasher movies and she still stays with the very tame variety.  She's not very comfortable with "mundane" evil, the kind that's real and exists in the world.  The horrible things people do to other people.  And I'm great with that.  It's not a comfortable thing to contemplate.  Better to stick with the un-real of ghosts and monsters and things.  They feel safer.  She's very aware of what is outside of her comfort zone and makes excellent choices for herself about what to watch and what to avoid.  She can even explain to you why she avoids most things, which is a lot more self-awareness than many adults exhibit.  And if you ask her, she can tell you why she likes horror movies.  In her words, "It makes the world bigger and more exciting but when it's over I can come back to my safe home."

Truthfully, horror movies fill for us the same need that say bungee-jumping or parasailing or zip lining fills for others.  It's a taste of that oh-so-addictive adrenaline but with plenty of safety nets and harnesses to keep us from hurting ourselves.  And it all probably hearkens back to our ancestors who had little besides an animal skin or a grass hut between them and predatory animals.  It's our own "Call of the Wild."  And as long as we're self-aware and cagey about how we experience those feelings, I think no real harm comes from it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unschooling for the Win!

This post has hopped right on over to Christian Unschooling which is an awesome collaborative blog I write for sometimes.  So clicky the link to hear all about how I bribe my kids to do things for me by promising them LEARNING.  Seriously.  I don't offer them money or sweets, just history lessons and grammar lectures.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Godzilla vs. The Creature from the Black Lagoon

The hubs is watching "Gojira" with the girls right now.  Before he put it on he invited me in to help preface the movie with some context on why it might just be a stupid monster movie today but it was genuinely terrifying to people in the 1950s.  We talked a little about WWII and atomic energy and nuclear hysteria.  Then they started watching together and I left.  I don't honestly know how they can watch those stupid movies.  And then, as I was thinking that, I realized that I watch movies every bit as stupid.  One of my favorite movies of all time is "The Creature from the Black Lagoon."  It's utterly moronic but I find it hypnotic.

The thing is, the hubs and I both understand and identify with the fears that drive our particular favorite monster flicks.  Godzilla was a modern update of the same fears that drove Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein."  Science is capable of monstrous things sometimes and those fears are manifest in reanimated corpses, giant irradiated lizards, and even the fantastically popular "Jurassic Park."  I prefer a different sort of film.  The impetus for "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" is a fear of the unknown, the undiscovered.  Even today we're visiting remote locations on our very own planet and finding things we never knew existed.  Any one of those things *could* be a murderous beast.  Our own bold strides into the world, our insatiable need for understanding and discovery and exploration, could bring about the end of the human race.  Movies like "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Star Crystal" and "Event Horizon" are flicks I can get behind.  I don't care much for the "Jaws" movies but the novel is among my favorites, along with some of Benchley's other novels of undiscovered terror.

No point to this post, I just find it interesting to look at what psychology motivates our media choices.