Friday, March 28, 2014

we understand; after all, we are from the land of chocolate

Yesterday I was showing Grant the video for "Your Surrender" by Neon Trees--a song I highly recommend, by the way--and Grant said, "That video is weird."  And I was like, "Umm, try again."  Because really.  Grant has no idea the weirdness that exists out there. That's about the least weird video I can think of.  When I told John about it he said, "Hey Grant, let me introduce you to our friend Ziggy Stardust.  Let's watch Labyrinth while we're at it."  And that barely scratches the surface!  We actually made the kids watch Labyrinth a while ago, and Grant was horrified by David Bowie's very robust, obvious junk (let's be honest; there was probably crotch-stuffing going on--it was the eighties) and said that the Goblin King needed to put on a pair of compression shorts. 

Further fantasizing about our imaginary family band:  I wondered aloud to John if maybe I should buy a used drum set, and he said, "And put it out in the milking shed?"
Me:  "No, in the basement."
Him:  "Wow.  You love our children more than I do."
Me:  "But I already let them dribble basketballs in the house, how much worse can it be?"
Him:  "Drums are way louder than basketballs." 
John is a trusted source in this regard, since he's the one who's played with a drum and bugle corps, but I wish he would stop pooping all over my dreams. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I love you, but I hate your friends--they're all desperate

Ike accidentally kicked my healing toenail this morning, so that was a party.  I screamed so loudly that the windows rattled and the lights flickered, and for a moment a portal to a Hell dimension opened at our feet, and as it twisted and pulsed, sucking greedily at our feet, Ike's eyes widened in horror at what he had wrought.  But then I stopped screaming and everything went back to normal. 

Here are some things I have fought with my children about this week:
Grant:  Couldn't go up to the church to play basketball on Tuesday night because he hasn't been getting out of bed and he missed the bus last week.  40 minutes.
Emmett:  Is not allowed to wear basketball shorts to school and wasn't allowed to take a tablet computer to school when he was in third grade.  Ongoing (basketball shorts), 10 minutes (tablet)
Ike:  Refuses to count when he plays "My Country 'Tis of Thee." 20 minutes
Willa:   Always decides she's hungry right when she's supposed to be getting in bed and cries when her stalling tactic is not successful.  Ongoing

We finally had a decent Pi Day on Saturday, and it was great.  I made an apple pie (my worst ever), a bananas Foster cream pie (great), and a raspberry meringue (great).  I saw the most beautiful piped meringue topping the other day, so I piped my meringue from a plastic bag, and it looked like Lisa Simpson, but in a cool way.  Also at the party were chicken salad and ice cream cake (for Grant's birthday) and the invention I'm making for my own birthday cake, which is:  POTATO CHIP CAKE.  It definitely has room for improvement, but the concept is solid.  I made a black and white marble cake, cut out a channel in the center and piped it full of pastry cream into which I had folded crumbled potato chips, and frosted it with chocolate frosting also into which I had folded crumbled potato chips.  Changes that need to be made:  moister cake, more cream filling, frosting that doesn't turn gritty when refrigerated.  Also the potato chips do become a little soggy and leathery after a few hours of sitting, so it might need to be assembled just prior to eating.  It's a challenge for sure, but I do think it could be great.  And could you get more American than a potato chip cake?  Highly dubious. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

the sweet fullfilment of their secret longing

I have thought of a wonderful, terrible cake idea for my birthday, but I'm not going to tell you about it yet.  I have to do some experiments first and see if it's even feasible to make my dream come to life. 

I was feeling a little ashamed that we only had one pie on Pi Day (chocolate banana cream: layer of bananas, layer of vanilla cream, layer of chocolate cream), and we've had to wait clear until tomorrow to celebrate Pi Day properly.  But then I remembered--it's really pie month, since if you don't worry about the day it's 3/14 all month.  So now I feel justified in eating pies upon pies until we hit April.  Can you imagine how crazy it's going to get next year, when Pi Day is on 3/14/15?  Even more digits?  CAN YOU IMAGINE? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

who's that in that nasty car? nasty boys!

I've been putting Hoof Alive--look for it at your local feed store--on my nails, as recommended by my guitar teacher.  My nails used to be very hardy, but in the last year or so they've become brittle and break easily, which is a problem when you're trying to grow them out to use in finger-picking.  Since I started using the Hoof Alive they haven't broken, even in situations when they normally would have, i.e. using steel wool on my huge frying pan, until two days ago when I knocked my index finger into my countertop and it chipped.  But the nail itself is thick and luscious--it just couldn't withstand the force of solid concrete.  Good product, would purchase again. 

A couple of thoughts:
1.  Looking at another culture and being horrified by its practices is not always colonialism.  I think reasonable people can agree that not all cultural traditions deserve respect.  If there is no benefit provided, and the only defense for what you're doing is "It's a tradition!" then you should reevaluate.  And if this tradition demonstrably causes harm to yourself or others, then it is a bad tradition.  Being horrified by something like FGM or the denial of education to girls and women is not colonialism, it's basic human decency, and you can't hide behind religion or "who are we to say they don't know how to live their lives" to say otherwise.  Speaking of religion, is there even anybody who is practicing their pure religion, rather than a bunch of cultural practices, ranging from benign to nonsensical to actively malignant, that have accreted themselves around the actual doctrine?  I know I'm not. 
2.  After my visit to Willa's class yesterday, I would like to say that maybe until your daughter knows how to read and is not falling farther and farther academically behind her classmates you should stop pulling her out of school to participate in cheer competitions.  This is not a case of two equally valuable competing interests--she is going to be served better, and her lifelong happiness will be better secured, if you make sure she succeeds in school.  I understand that even though I think it is stupid, cheer is a lot of work, which means that this little girl does know how to do hard things.  So maybe apply that effort to teaching her to love learning. 

Sorry for the crankiness. 

Sometimes I look around at the collection of old lady furniture I have amassed over the years, and I think of what the future holds, and I hope my children have the decency to marry people who will not want to get rid of my awesome stuff. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

why does my heart go on beating, why do these eyes of mine cry

You know, we complain a lot, as a society, about our failure to create newer, bigger, better things and processes, e.g. "We can put a man on the moon, but we can't cure the common cold," or We can put a man on the moon but we can't make a plastic package that doesn't cut your hand open," or "We can put a man on the moon, but we can't make sandwich bread that doesn't get soggy."  The poor moon is often dragged into these scenarios, because we are collectively flabbergasted that we can do something very hard like leave our Earth's atmosphere, visit another celestial body, and almost always return in safety (I mean, depending on if you believe that we've actually done that, you Art Bell listeners out there), but we can't do something that seems comparatively simple, like making durable sandwiches.  So I think it's time for us to recognize the amazing advances that have been made in band-aid technology, specifically fabric band-aids.  Remember how terrible they used to be?  They used to come off as soon as you got them the tiniest bit wet, and you knew better than to try to save money with the store brand.  But I bought some Western Family band-aids last week for my toe, and they are great!  They stay on even when I soak them in water.  Good job, America!  This is the kind of thing that will return us to a position of economic strength.  I applaud your progress. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

gimme the rye, you old bag

John got home last night from a short trip to South Carolina, and gave me an interesting bit of knowledge.  It seems to be a common custom down there that when people go on double dates the men sit in the front seat and the women in the back.  What is this about? 

I checked out a book called "Straw Bale Gardening."  Looks promising.  I think I'll slap a couple of bales on my patio and then I won't even have to go very far to water them.  I get lazier and lazier every year, and now with my children all running hither and yon to various extracurricular activities I guess I've finally become everything I hate!  No garden, earth-ruining car, constant errand-running trips to town, buying eggs.  Good job, me.  In days of yore I would cast judgmental eyes on all the families that were running their children from heck to breakfast to sports activities and dance and music lessons and think, "They need to get their priorities in line.  One sport and one musical instrument is plenty."  But then my kids started growing up, and they needed to get their wiggles out, and guess what?  One sport and one instrument per child, times four children, is an insane level of chasing.  And as we know, rules are for other people, which is how we find ourselves with Grant playing soccer and basketball at the same time.  He's the first child!  We didn't even have to be worn down by successive children whining and begging to do just one more thing, we caved immediately!  Darn my children to heck for exposing me as a fraud.

How much should I be tipping at a place where they bring you your food, but there's no server and you bus your own table?  None?  Because that's where I'm leaning, but I don't want to be a horrible person.  Modern life is full of conundrums!  

Friday, March 7, 2014

yo back up now and give a brother room

My toenails are shaped like a letter C, and so you realize that ingrown toenails are a constant threat to my physical and mental well-being.  Many years ago I had a procedure done in which the interior sides of my big toenails were removed and deadened so this wouldn't be such a problem, but my right toe didn't take, and I've had what I guess is called "a spicule" ever since, that grows into the side of my toe all the time and has to be regularly pulled off.  So this week I went to my brother-in-law the podiatrist to have the procedure done correctly.  So far so good, although the anesthesia shots they give you are horribly painful.  This episode causes me to wonder:  for what medical treatment would you be willing to see a family member?  Obviously OB/GYN is out--at least for me; I don't know how you guys roll.  I have spent a few minutes thinking about this, and here are my thoughts:

1.  Podiatry--yes
2.  ENT--yes
3.  Psychotherapy or similar--no
4.  Dermatology--soft yes, depending on the malady (acne no, cancerous mole yes, unless the location requires disrobing)
5.  Physical therapy--soft yes, depending on the location of the problem
6.  Dentistry/Orthodontia--yes
7.  Emergency treatment, such as for broken bones or stitches--yes
8.  OB/GYN--hard no
9.  Proctology--hard no
10.  Cardiopulmonary--soft yes

What about you guys? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

and they come out all the same

Our family is learning to sing and play the Walk Off the Earth cover of "Little Boxes."  Emmett refuses to sing because he has a fixed mindset, which is a problem we are trying to address, but he has conceded to play percussion.  When we get awesome we will record it and start our family band.  I never watched "The Partridge Family," but we'll probably be just like that, only with better clothes and hair.  And our tour bus will have a paleta freezer in the back, and we will sell the paletas at our concerts. This is my retirement plan.  I am stoked!  

I have a couple of powder-blue chairs that I bought from the D.I. years ago, and powder blue is a terrible color as you know.  So last week I dyed them green according to these instructions, and it worked like a charm and they look totally revitalized and fantastic.  See (pardon the glare on the corner--the dye really is even all over):