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 or hit me up on Pintrest ( or drop me a line on Facebook ( 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.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Daliesque Day

Do you ever have one of those days where nothing quite makes sense?  One of these kind of days...?

This has been my brain most of the day.  It's like there's a vast internet conspiracy to make my brain explode.  Let me share with you a random sampling of the WTF I have been exposed to today.

My husband shoved this bizarre gem onto his blog last night and waited for it to detonate in my head this morning.

Then I show up at Shamus Young's blog and find THIS.  Before I've even had coffee I've been subjected to both of these.

After coffee a friend who does not deserve the anonymity I'm giving her here shared a link to vegetables that look like genitals.  And no, that's not safe for work.  They're vegetable that look like genitals.  Why would you even ASK if that's safe for work?  That's not safe for human consumption, people.

Next was this:

And then this: 

Followed by a link to an article about a woman that had her mouth raped by a squid and no, I haven't been watching the hentai again thank you very much.

And the guy that linked to the squid rape followed it up with this

And that was the point at which my head turned into a Daliesque mushroom cloud.  Thank you so much, internets.

New Regular Content Coming Soon

My super-awesometastic friend Dawn  blogged today about being a "Craft Buster" which is like Myth Busters but for Pintrest and other sorts of crafts.  And then I told her that she should make that a regular thing because it kind of sucks to try a cool-sounding craft and discover that it's either a hoax or requires a degree in quantum physics to execute.   She responded back that somebody needed to do the same thing for recipes and then she was all like *hint, hint* and I think maybe she was suggesting that she'd rather bust recipes but I'm totally going to steal that from her anyway :-P

Hello, I'm Mari and I love to cook and bake.  I love food.  People know this about me and are constantly sending me recipes and cookbooks and things.  And Pintrest is a really cool place to go for recipes.  But not all recipes are "user friendly" so from now on, every week on Friday I'm going to test a recipe I find on a popular cooking blog or on Pintrest and let you know how it turns out.  I'm not a gourmet cook.  In fact, my only real qualification for cooking is that I like to do it a lot.  I screw up recipes a LOT though, y'all, so I think I'm qualified to tell you if something is hard or easy.  And I'm not going to just be all like "This recipe sucks and is too hard."  I'll tell you why and how it works or doesn't work and we'll walk through it all together.

So, today is Friday and I'm going to just get the show on the road here.  Father's Day is this weekend here in the U.S. and this is a day that is all about gorging yourself on really manly food.  Or maybe that's Thanksgiving.  Or, well, pretty much every day, really.  Anyway, I'm going to kick us off with something pretty amazing that reminds me of my own father.  My dad was a total ice cream-aholic.  Like, dude would get a gallon and a half bucket every two weeks and eat it all.  In these HUGE mixing bowls.  Always vanilla. Often with Hershey's syrup poured over the top.  In our house it was called "nothin'" because you would hear him rustling around in the kitchen and ask, "Whatcha looking for?" and he'd say "Nothin'" and eventually I'd start saying, "Well get me a bowl of nothin' too!"

Until recently I always kept a bottle of Hershey's syrup in my fridge.  Good for making chocolate milk and topping a bowl of nothin'.  But I'm making a concerted effort to make more of my food from scratch.  It gives me more control of what is in our food as well as being a great budget helper.  So a while back I stopped keeping Hershey's syrup on hand.  But the other day one of my kids decided that she desperately needed chocolate milk right then.  I whipped out a recipe I had come across on Pintrest and we tested it.  Verdict?  AWESOMELY EASY.

Here's how easy this stuff was, y'all.  My 13 and 14 year old daughters made it themselves while I was frying bacon.  And it was still perfect.

So, here's the recipe, originally from The Tightwad Gazette
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Mix the cocoa powder and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Be careful not to let it get too hot and boil over! Add the salt and the vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months, but trust me it will be gone before then. Yields two cups.

We used store-brand baking cocoa and homemade vanilla.  Here's how we did it, step by step:

Mix the cocoa powder and water in a cold saucepan on a cold burner with a standard wire whisk.  Turn the burner on high and continue whisking until the cocoa is dissolved.  We slowly added the sugar (not necessary, but makes it much easier to stir in).  Reduced the burner to medium and kept whisking for 3 minutes.  A couple of times the mixture threatened to boil over.  When it starts rising up high enough to make you nervous, pull the pan off the burner and keep whisking while holding it in the air.  When it settles back down, return to the burner.  Remove from burner and add salt and vanilla.

Then just let it sit there.  After about 10 minutes it was still pretty hot, but mostly cool enough for the kid to make her chocolate milk.  It was definitely still too hot to bottle, though.  So I wandered off and pretty much forgot about it until late that evening and then I was like, "Oh crap!  I forgot to bottle the chocolate syrup!" So I dashed back in the kitchen and gave it a little stir.  It had a very thin skin on top that needed stirring but was otherwise still perfect and now cool enough to bottle.  I didn't have a pretty flip-top bottle handy like the one in the picture.  I did have several brown glass bottles for homemade vanilla, though.  So I used a funnel and poured the sauce into two of my brown glass bottles.  Then I printed some labels because I like pretty labels and like ten years ago I bought some kind of crazy case of full-sheet label paper for the printer and it's STILL not used up so I snagged some of it.  
There weren't a ton of places to take this picture.  Also, the wine
glass is for scale, not because I drink chocolate syrup from a
wine glass because that would be crazy.
I ended up with two of these brown bottles full of chocolate syrup.

And there you have it.  A super-simple recipe for homemade chocolate syrup.  I have not tried this recipe with alternative sweeteners or anything, just with regular granulated sugar from the grocery store.  So if your family is off of the refined sugars you're on your own.  But probably if your family is off the refined sugars you're not looking for reviews of chocolate syrup recipes anyway.

Tune back in next week to find out if adding pumpkin puree to yogurt is a good plan or a bad plan.  I'm kind of hoping for "good" because I loves me some pumpkin.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Common Internet Troll - Some Thoughts

So the hubs and I were talking this morning about internet trolling.  It was spurred by the following  Go read it.  Feel free to follow the bunny trail of links for a while to grasp the full scope what complete dicks some people can be.

Ok, done now?  Here's the thing: I'm not talking about the validity or lack thereof of the woman's argument (which is a whole other topic, and one that I'm not up to discussing so if you want to talk about it, go here which will lead you on a whole other bunny trail about sexism in video games, which is something Heather and Shamus are way better at talking about than I am so go argue with them if you want to argue about that.)

OK, done again?  Now, back to my point which is basically that the internet is filled with trolls.  If you haven't been under a rock for the past 15 years, this is probably not breaking news for you.  But it's something I want to talk a little bit about.  See, when I was a kid my parents held some questionable and probably not-good views about the world.  But generally you wouldn't have known it to talk to them because they were POLITE.  Basically, they were the kind of people that didn't particularly enjoy making other people miserable so they generally kept their opinions to themselves when they intuited that their opinions would be unpopular.  They taught me basically the same thing.  Your grandma might have called it, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Your kindergarten teacher probably called it The Golden Rule and it went something like, "Treat others the way you would like to be treated."  Your middle-school peers didn't call it anything at all because kids are stupid and cruel when in large, institutionalized groups but a big part of raising children was once considered teaching them not to act that way by the time they reached adulthood.  To that end, adults did things like yelling at you and grounding you and refusing to let you hold "secret Prom" so you could exclude that one kid that nobody liked  and might even go so far as to ground you from the internet if they caught you making a fake social networking profile to torment a peer.  I'll be honest, I'm not so big on yelling and grounding, but there are plenty of ways I would make my displeasure known if I caught my kids acting like jerks to other people.  Because, yes, I'm polite and I want my kids to be polite too.

That goes for posting the kind of crap that appears on most YouTube videos with more than a dozen or so hits.  That crap is trolling.  It is deliberately posting offensive (and often below-the-belt-personal-attacks offensive) comments to the internet in an attempt to stir up controversy, debate, and general hate-mongering.  There's a lot of internet sociology and psychology commentary about the phenomenon of trolling.  While trolling is nothing new, it certainly seems to be on the upswing.  A lot of things I read about trolling indicate that the seeming-anonymity of the internet is responsible for the surge in such behavior.  Certainly there's some truth to that argument, but it doesn't cover the whole problem.  I've been an internet user for 20-odd years and I've never gone trolling.  Very few people I know engage in internet trolling, even though many of us use the internet for the majority of the day most days.

What brought all of this up to the point of a blog post instead of just a conversation with the hubs was the fact that while I was out running errands today, I happened across a Trollmobile.  I don't know what else to call it.  I didn't take pictures, mostly because I was busy being glad the kids weren't with me to see it.  Even if I had taken pictures, I wouldn't have posted them here because that car was covered in offensive bumper stickers like you would not believe.  One sticker featured a "double birdie" salute and the legend "F*** Cops."  Several extolled the virtues of Satanism.  One referred to the owner's enjoyment of engaging in a particular sex act with graphic slang vocabulary.  One even used a phrase that appeared a couple of times in the comments of the first link in this post - a reference to a sex act that lesbians are apparently in severe need of experiencing despite the fact that lesbians explicitly don't enjoy the body part necessary for such an act.  I can only assume, in the terms of internet culture, that this vehicle was owned and operated by "a 13-year-old boy."  I hate to use such an expression, though, because I know quite a few 13-year-old boys and none of them would engage in such behavior as trolling or use such vile language.  Besides the fact that such a vehicle must be owned by someone at least 16 years of age.

Frankly, the whole thing sickened me.  Not because the words were offensive.  I'm not the type to be offended by words.  What sickened me was the attitude behind such a display.  This wasn't an anonymous display of bravado.  This was a person who holds society in contempt and feels the need to dominate others with his/her ideas.  This was a person who hates.  And hate is sickening to me.  There are a lot of things in life that I dislike.  I disliked the bumper sticker display of that vehicle.  I dislike trolling in general.  I dislike most politicians on general principle.  I dislike certain people in specific.  But hate is something I can't honestly say I've ever experienced.  Hate requires a degree of energy that I just don't want to give my unhappiness or dislike.  Hate, like love, is not an emotion.  It is a verb, a DOING word.  Hate doesn't happen.  It takes cultivation, a conscious choice to indulge it and make it grow and keep it alive.  Those bumper stickers weren't just an outpouring of feeling, they were a choice to cultivate and nurture the basest and most negative things about life.  And that's what sickens me.  As screwed up as the world is, why choose hate?  If you expended that same energy in nurturing something positive and good and real, you might make a difference to the world around you.  Instead, someone chose hate and with every action, with every mile that Trollmobile drives, they are taking something OUT of the world.

What that person won't be taking out of the world is MY dignity, MY self-respect, MY love, and MY compassion.  I refuse to let that person and their hate win.  When I'm done with this blog post I will not waste another minute of my thought and feeling on their hate.  As Paul put it so well, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Zombies Everywhere!

OK, y'all, I'm just going to warn you now that this is the blog version of getting drunk-dialed except there's no telephone involved and I'm not drunk, just mentally deranged.  So by now the whole zombie apocalypse thing is old news and everyone's getting bored hearing about how the end is nigh because dudes are smoking bath salts and eating faces and throwing their own intestines at people and eating their children - which I don't think really counts as zombie activity anyway because that mom totally only did what most of the animal kingdom has been doing all along which is eating the weak young to nourish the mother so that she can nurture the stronger young.  And I think I may have missed something in that sentence but I'm not fixing it so just live with it you grammar Nazis!

Anyway, this blog is not about any of those events.  This blog post is about how those events are effecting my own household.  And I know what you're thinking.  Because I'm not just a zombie, I'm the psychic Queen of the Zombies!  Ha!  Um, yeah, anyway, you're thinking, "None of that stuff except the cannibal mom is even anywhere near you so why are these events effecting you?" But it doesn't matter because the zombie germs are already airborne and my family has been infected.

That's right, I'm infected.  I'm not completely zombified (which my spell-checker says is not even a word - clearly it has also been zombified and is like a PR zombie propagandist or something - and why is propagandist a word but not zombified?) but I think I may be too far along to cure.

I woke up this morning because my husband was violently jumping on the bed - or sat down on it - and I tried to open my eyes but my eyes were all like, "Do not want!" and I was all like, "Eyes, you guys have to open" but they refused so finally I lifted my arms to my face and forced one eye open and was like, "Victory!" and my eye was like, "That's what YOU think!" and closed again really fast.  So I thought I was just really tired but it turns out that was my first symptom of zombiefication (which spell-checker also claims is not a word - clearly my spell-checker is a zombie denier).  Eventually I managed to get both eyes to stay open but they were incredibly angry about this and kept burning and watering in protest so I got out of bed and shuffled to the bathroom which probably sounds like another zombie symptom but it isn't because I shuffle to the bathroom every morning but most days I'm not a zombie.  Once I was done forcing out the last vestiges of my previous life I shuffled on to the pet bowls and then the coffee maker.

Which is when Ben asked if I wasn't going to go to the bathroom first because he was busy being naked while I was forcing out the last vestiges of my life and totally missed it or something.  So I mumbled something at him and he was all like, "What?" and I mumbled it again and he pretended he got it that time but it was obviously the way you pretend you understand something because you're too embarrassed to ask someone to repeat something one more time and thereby admit how incredibly old you are so you just smile and nod.  This was zombie symptom number 2 and fear of admitting how old he is is the only thing that kept Ben from pointing and yelling "Zombie!" and severing my brain stem at that exact moment.  Otherwise he would have realized because I'm usually very talkative in the mornings and he's the one that mumbles entire paragraphs without moving his lips even once.

So I sat down at my computer after that and might have been unconscious for a couple of hours or I might have posted a bunch of nonsense to Facebook but I'm not really sure because the zombification is doing bad things to my brain and it's really all kind of a blur.  But the next thing I clearly remember is when Mindie came in to say good morning and then ran to the other end of the room and informed me that I smelled like "decomposing bodies."

Me: You mean like a zombie?
Mindie: Uh, yeah.
Me: Cool.  Apparently I'm a victim of the zombie apocalypse.
Mindie: Um, no, I don't think so.  You smell like a zombie but you're not all hunched over and shambling.  And you haven't been snacking on the flesh of the living.
Me: That you KNOW of...
Mindie: ...
Me: Have you asked yourself lately, "Where's my sister?"
Mindie: ... (backs away slowly)
Me: ...
Mindie: Go take a shower!

And then I sat there, zoned out and zombie-like for a while longer.  And then my phone rang and it was Ben needing me to pick him up "a lot of the really big boxes of baking soda" to clean out his agricultural chemical tanks.  Because he's a farmer but he's KEEPING IT GREEN y'all.  Because it totally counts as green agriculture if you wash out the evil Monsanto germs with baking soda after you're done hosing down the crops with them.  So I took a shower and kept trying to go to the store and get him his Greenie McGreenerson stuff but I kept getting more and more zombified.  And at one point Mindie came in and was like, "I guess you were right, Mom.  It is the zombie apocalypse.  Shannen just moaned something at me that sounded like 'Brains.'"  And I was all like, "See??  See, I told you I had been snacking on your sister.  And now she's a zombie like me.  You're the only survivor of the zombie apocalypse."  Only my speech centers were degrading by then and I might have said "apopalypse" which my spell-checker says isn't even a word and it is right.

At some point I made it out the door and there weren't hordes of zombies everywhere but that was ok.  And then I went to Wal-Mart and I kind of shambled mindlessly down the aisles and then I paid and went to the store because Wal-Mart didn't have the big boxes of baking soda.  And at the grocery store I did some more random shambling but the only brains they had were in the frozen pig heads (no, I'm not making that up) so I just got the baking soda and some chicken which totally tastes like brains but is leaner and cheaper.  And the checker was all perky and friendly and trying to converse and I just kind of stood there mumbling words that might have been "Braaaaaaains."  And the bag boy followed me out to my car but I forgot where it was and there's only ever like 20 cars in the whole parking lot but we wandered around for a while before I spotted my big, honking white SUV - although in my defense every other car in west Texas is also a big, honking white SUV so my car was kind of camouflaged.

I got home and put away the brains and might have wasted some more time on Facebook before the zombification took its toll on my body and I was forced to take a nap.  When I got up, I noticed that my motor functions were more impaired than before as I stumbled around like a drunken Buster Keaton.  But by that point, Mindie had also succumbed to the process and was similarly motor impaired.

When Ben got home we all fell on him like the zombies we are, at his brains out, and shuffled off into the night.  Or maybe that part didn't happen but I'm running out of things to say and can't figure out a good way to end this blog.  So, we ate my husband and shuffled into the night.  Beware, for the psychic Queen of the Zombies may be coming for you soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Texting is fun

So I'm having this text conversation with my husband.  We were talking about internet and network problems here at home and how I resolved them all by myself because I'm totally awesome like that.  And he said, "So it's fixed?"  And I said, "Yep.  So now I can watch the maiden voyage of the dead cat helicopter on YouTube."  And there's silence for like 7 minutes and then I get a text back that says, "Don't" and I'm thinking, "Dude, it took you SEVEN MINUTES to type that???" but maybe he's just really busy or maybe it took him a while to process the words or something.  So I text back, "Too late.  It was pretty awesome."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Public Humiliation is the Best Kind

In my ongoing efforts to provide better content for the whole six of you that read this blog, I've been vowing to start posting here daily.  This morning I started trying to find something to blog about but nothing came to me even after a torturous 2 minutes of wracking my brain.  At last, this afternoon, Mindie provided inspiration.
I love my kids but sometimes they are total spazzes.  Which is probably not a surprise to anybody who knows ME since I am also a total spaz.  But I think my kids surpass me.

Earlier this afternoon Shannen had to give her sister a hand.  Mindie had been sitting at her computer, reading and twirling her hair as she often does when concentrating.  She must have been concentrating very hard because before she knew it, her finger was caught in her hair so completely that she couldn't get it out.  Yes, my daughter had to get up and walk through the house with her hand stuck on her head because her finger was so tangled in hair that she needed help pulling herself loose from her personal "tar baby."  Shannen, always happy to help (inflict pain), grabbed Mindie's hand and yanked as hard as she could.  Mindie's hand came loose, still bearing a huge wad of hair.  Niiiiiiiice.  And where was I during all this?  Laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.

I don't know what it is with Mindie, but I swear she is the most accident-prone kid I know.  Saturday we went to a big graduation dinner at church.  On the way inside Mindie tripped (on misplaced molecules of air) and went flying, face-first, to the ground.  She lay there, stunned, and Shannen and I suppressed giggles and pretended to be helpful.  Finally I gave her a hand getting back up.  Apparently my laughter wasn't appreciated because she did her darndest to drag me to the ground with her.

Then there was Friday night.  I only have this story second-hand because I was sound asleep when it happened but it's too good not to pass on anyway.  Apparently the kid decided to cut her toenails.  She has to do that often and it's quite the ordeal since she got her father's toenails which are roughly the hardness of horse hooves.  This particular night she was hunched over with the clippers working away when a stray toenail shot out of the clippers and jabbed her square in the eye.  We're all grateful she wasn't blinded by her projectile nail clipping which was a distinct possibility.  Instead she sat there for a minute, blinking back tears, then realized the hilarity of the situation.  In true Mom spirit, she went across the hall to her sister's room and actually ratted herself out for being such a big spaz because somehow it makes you feel less like a dork if your spazziness can at least give someone else a good laugh.  And Shannen did, indeed, have a good laugh.  As did I the next day when I heard the story.

And just to prove that this blog isn't all about humiliating my children, I give you the following story about myself: the day I took Mindie to have her spacers put in, we had lunch at Carino's.  After the meal Mindie asked if anyone else needed to go to the restroom.  I didn't but knowing she wouldn't go on her own (because people might stare at her if she used the public restroom alone - bet you didn't know that's why women go in groups, did you?) I volunteered to accompany her.  We traveled all the way across the packed restaurant to the restroom where I decided since I was there I'd give it a shot anyway.  That's when I discovered that I had just walked all the way through a crowded public place with MY FLY DOWN.

So, yeah, a few embarrassing stories about myself and my daughter to brighten your day.  Now brighten mine up with an embarrassing story of your own.  Please.  I need to know I'm not the only loser in the world.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bunny Trails

In case you're not familiar with the terminology, a "bunny trail" or "rabbit trail" or "rabbit hole" is the educational equivalent of wiki-surfing.  You study one thing which leads to another which takes you to a distantly related tangent which leads you to another subject entirely which...well, you get the idea.

I discovered that A-1 steak sauce added to the marinade makes for truly excellent jerky.  But I'm kind of nervous about bottled sauces these days as I work towards healthier eating and a more budget-conscious grocery shopping experience.  So this morning I started looking for a recipe for homemade steak sauce.

This is a stock photo of my food dehydrator.  And meat gun.
Which led me to discover that soy sauce is in A-1.  I'm really trying to drastically reduce the amount of soy in our diets (oxalate concerns for me, estrogen concerns for Mindie) so I went looking for a non-soy alternative to soy sauce.

Found a good one and went back to the steak sauce recipe.  Worcestershire sauce was also a common ingredient across many steak sauce recipes.  I wonder if Worcestershire sauce is ok for us?

Um, apparently not.  It *also* contains soy.  Oh, and dissolved fish bodies.  And something called "devil's dung" which may be perfectly healthy but I prefer to not have poop in my food, even metaphorical poop.  So I started looking for a Worcestershire sauce substitute with no soy, dead fish skeletons, or metaphorical poop.

Which led me to a website full of recipes for lacto-fermented condiments.  This is more like it.  Lacto-ferments are good for you, I'm told.  I've been meaning to look into those anyway.

So I start reading up on how to obtain whey to make my own lacto-ferments.  Apparently the most readily available source is store-bought plain yogurt.  I can do that.

Then I discover that I can use this store-bought plain yogurt to make homemade yogurt.  While this SOUNDS like a stupid catch-22 for unwary health nuts, it's not.  One container of store-bought plain yogurt apparently contains enough "yogurt juice" to make about a gallon of homemade yogurt, some of which I can resample to make more homemade yogurt and on and on like the yogurt version of Amish friendship bread.  And who wouldn't love their own Amish friendship yogurt, right?
Yum yum!  This is whey.  I'm betting Miss Muffet wasn't
all that sad to give her curds and whey up to the spider.

All of this yogurt goodness leads me to Amazon where I start looking at yogurt making machines (not that they are necessary for making Amish friendship yogurt - a couple of jars and a foam cooler are pretty much the only things you really need, according to my reading).

Which brings me to frozen yogurt and ice cream makers.  Mmmm.  Homemade ice cream and fro-yo.  And without all the salt and ice that my current ice cream maker requires.  And the hours upon hours of noisy motors driving me batty.

Ice cream brings me to a new thought.  Mindie is starting orthodontics right now which creates a whole new list of verboten foods for her.  No jerky, no nuts, no fruit leather, no crunching on ice.  Basically nothing too sticky/gummy, nothing too hard, nothing too tough or chewy.  I wonder if ice cream cones are prohibited?

Because this torture is not enough, you will also not be allowed
to eat anything tasty for 18-36 months either.
I search the internet to find out if she's allowed to eat ice cream cones.  General consensus is sugar cones broken into pieces are acceptable.  Avoid waffle cones.

In the process I read loads about chewing gum in braces and this stuff called Xylitol which is a sugar alcohol used in artificial sweeteners that has application in preventing dental caries, treating osteoporosis, preventing ear infections, and controlling candida outbreak.

Which is the point at which I realized how incredibly complicated this bunny trail had become.  I looked back over the tabs I had opened along the way and marveled.  Then I determined to share it with you all.  Please tell me I'm not the only one out there that does stuff like this.  What convoluted bunny trails have you followed lately?  Have any of your bunny trails ever come full circle back to where you started?