Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

It's Saturday night, the dishes are done, the kids are in bed, time to harken back to my teen years.  This was retro even then, but it was at the top of my hit parade.

I'm calling it a night early tonight, so I'll leave you with this gem.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Are We Normal?

On the heels of my last post about attempting to keep creepy, neurosis inducing images out of my kids' heads, Rachel found this gem

How did any child of the 60's turn out ok, with that soul sucking monstrosity showing up during the Saturday morning cartoon time?  That's the stuff of nightmares, right there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scaring (or Scarring) Kids

(warning: this posts contains images or links which may be disturbing to some.  consider  yourself warned.)

As a homeschool mom, I have the ability to shield my kids from a lot of information and images.  In addition, we have very limited television in our house, so unless it's Rick Steves Europe or Bill Nye the Science Guy, my kids don't watch much that I haven't previewed and approved.  My older two haven't even seen The Lord of the Rings movies yet, despite having read the books, because of a few scenes with orcs and uruk hai that I think are too disturbing.

a mild example

I will admit that I might have gone further than necessary in hoping to prevent psychological scarring.  Having a Bachelor's degree in psychology means you read too many case studies of people who were emotionally unstable as adults, perhaps due to influences in childhood.  I think I spend more time than necessary worrying about that.

My kids are not without knowledge of evil.  The older two know the facts about the holocaust, and other historical atrocities, because that is important to understand when forming a world view.  We've visited the Holocaust Memorial in Boston and the Oklahoma City Memorial, and talked about the heinousness of the crimes that led to those events in history.

That having been said, I have been very careful to shield them from artificial evil.  Horror movies, cop shows, and fictional books that involve twisted characters or events are not allowed.  Same for books about dying siblings (the 70's were a big decade for dying sibling books.)  Any disturbing images that turn up in my Facebook feed are hidden, to ensure that the kids don't see them.  I am really overly paranoid that my kids will have psychological problems later in life, due to one disturbing image that I allowed to contact their optic nerves prior to adolescence.


Or is it?


Just when I had almost convinced myself that my older kids were sufficiently loved, educated, and emotionally stable to handle the world, I found a website that assures me that something as simple as a Sesame Street short can scar a kid for life.  Nothing is guaranteed innocuous.  Even an anti-smoking PSA can linger in a kid's psyche for decades.  Great.  Do we have to move to a cave?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

Saturday night.  Time to sit back, relax, and remember some of the great music from the past.  Etta James passed away this week, so it's fitting that we enjoy her amazing gift.

And when I was a kid, several of my friends' moms had these lamps.  I loved to watch them then, and now I think they are totally boss.  I want one!  (my poor husband is mortified at the thought)

What item from your childhood would you love to get your hands on now?  Leave a comment with a link if you can find one, if not, a description will do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

She's Not Weird, She's Interesting

My youngest child, Bekah, has had imaginary friends since she could talk.  Perhaps earlier, but I wouldn’t know about those.  Some of them have come and gone, and some, most notably Dorothy Ann, have stuck around.  Bekah is seven now, and Dorothy Ann still shows up from time to time.  In fact, recently I was yelling, I mean correcting calmly and cheerfully, in the way all good Christian mothers do,  up the stairs, griping out Rachel and Joshua about something.  I was really reading them the riot act, and I finished with, "Bekah, come down here!"  After a few seconds I heard her on the stairs, and she was saying, "C'mon Dorothy Ann, maybe she has ice cream for us."

Some of our favorite stories involve Bekah and her imaginary friends.  She’s always been a fairly dramatic kid, and that tendency led to a legendary encounter with me when she was about four years old.  She had been spending a fair amount of time with an imaginary friend named Honornah (i don’t know!!).  She came to the table for dinner and announced, in a very sad, heavy voice, “Honornah died.”  Not wanting to encourage such macabre play, I said sternly, “Rebekah, Honornah did not die.  If you don’t want to play with her anymore that’s fine.  Just say, ‘Honornah had to go home.’”  She sighed heavily and said, “Honornah had to go home. (dramatic pause) And she’s never...   coming...    back.”
Oh boy.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Raising Girls

I read a lot.  Not as much as I did prior to having DSL.  For you younger folks, that means that there was a time when getting on the internet was either A) very slow and irritating, or B) impossible.  We all read a lot more in those days.  Anyway, as a teen and young adult I read voraciously.  I read everything, including plenty that was not exactly suited to my age.  Some that was not suited to anyone’s age.  When I was about 14 I read Seventeenth Summer.  Although I enjoyed it, and thought it was well written, I giggled and scoffed my way through it.  For those who might not be familiar, it’s a novel written in 1942 (wow!! until i looked it up just now, i always assumed it was written in the early 60’s.  this puts a new slant on a few of the issues in the book.) about a 17 year old girl experiencing her first crush.  It seems quaint and silly by today’s standards, as it did by my standards in about 1983ish.  However, the story is very engaging, and the characters are well fleshed out, so I’ve owned a copy at all times since then.

So here’s why this is blog worthy.  I recently thought of it as a potential book for my 13 year old insatiable reader, but I thought, “Oh, not yet.  She’s a bit too young for some of the themes.”  Basically, in the year 2012 I am raising a teen daughter who is less worldly and romantically knowledgeable than I was 30 years earlier.  This despite the fact that she is much more knowledgeable about the world in general, political and social issues, and great literature than I was, even when I was 10 years older than she currently is.  (i think that sentence made some grammar gurus’ heads explode)  In simpler terms, my 13 year old who can discuss Shakespeare, ancient Egypt, the current presidential race, Robert’s Rules of Order, and how to repel down the side of a cliff knows a lot less about “romance” than I did at her age.

Rachel as Mercutio
And romance is what you get with this book.  No sex scenes, no inappropriate language.  There are plenty of people out there who would fault me for shielding her at 13.  So be it.  I’m glad I get to raise my girl and they don’t.  I'm glad I get to influence how soon she starts getting her heart broken, how calloused she is before she is even old enough to actually know what romance and love really are.  One of the scenes in the book involves the 17 year old getting her first kiss.  She and the boy are on their second date, and it's a very chaste kiss by today's standards.  She is appalled by her own behavior, and can’t imagine what her friends would say if they knew she let the boy kiss her on the second date.  When I read it in the 1980’s I thought how silly and weird it was that she would think a kiss was anything to be embarrassed about.  In the 2010’s I would imagine that for most 17 year olds a first kiss is something barely remembered from long, long ago.  But when I thought of this book for my 13 year old blogger, baker, writer, hiker, and actress, what I thought was, “Oh, I don’t want her filling her head with romantic ideas about kissing boys.”  She's got a lot going on her life, and much more to come.  I don't think there is any advantage to adding the mental and emotional strain of romance to her life at this point.

What's the point of this little narrative?  I don't know.  Certainly not that I have stumbled upon some great daughter raising secret.  It's just something that occurred to me, and I thought you might find it interesting.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

It's been a busy week.  The sewer pipe in the house clogged.  The temperatures dropped into the teens.  We made a long drive at the last minute.  I'm ready for some downtime, how 'bout you?

Let's start with...

And follow it up with...

And raise your hand if you remember these...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Minute People

(this post was written December 23)

I’ve always been a last minute person.  Whether it was studying for a test, making a gift, cooking or baking for a party, or finding something I need for an event, I always wait until the last minute.  In the days and weeks leading up to the deadline I often do things that give me the false sense that I am not waiting until the last minute.  For example, if it’s a gift for a friend I’ll know exactly what I want to make, how I want it to look, and what materials I’ll need.  If I know I am going to need a special outfit for an occasion, I will usually have an idea of what I want, where to look for it, etc.  But none of that actually gets it done.  The day before the event I will be driving all over town, frantically searching for the perfect belt that I want to pull it all together.  I’ll decide to make the belt, and I’ll run from craft store to fabric store, looking for the necessary components.  The day of the friend’s party I’ll be trying to remember where I put the supplies that I actually bought in advance and wondering if I could substitute something I have for the thing I never found in my frantic search.

The motivation to write this post came from the fact that on December 23rd I was trying to figure out what I could use for hooks on a gear rack I was making for my son for Christmas.  I went from hardware store to big box store, and tried to remember every little gadget and widget I had in my garage that might work.  Not only did I not find what I wanted, I spent that time on edge instead of home with my family, enjoying Christmas cookies and carols.

If you are not a last minute person, let me assure you it’s a stressful way to live.
About 9 months ago, after spending most of two days running around looking for “just the right thing” I announced to my kids that we were going to stop being last minute people.  I laid out much of what I just wrote here, and told them that I don’t want them to have that kind of stress in their lives.  I think that was the first time in my 40+ years that I had realized just what the problem was.

We had done a really good job up until the Dec. 23rd debacle.  There were two instances in that 9 months where I said to one of my children, “No, you do not have time to make that gift.  The party is this afternoon, and even though you knew you wanted to make it, you didn’t do it, so it’s not happening.  We are not going to spend this afternoon stressing and panicking.  Go read a good book until it’s time to go.”

I don’t know if my Dec. 23rd slip up will repeat itself soon.  I honestly didn’t realize that I was being a last minute person again until the project started to fall apart.  I intend to keep reminding myself, and my kids, that it’s no way to be, and that the end result is rarely worthy of the emotional energy spent.  I hope that will help.

** I must add a footnote to this post.  After writing it, and having a renewed faith in my ability to conquer “last minute-itis” I set about getting Bekah’s new dollhouse ready for Christmas morning.  It was 10:30 pm on Dec 23rd.  The dollhouse was in the garage.  I was going to bring it in and do some minor repairs (it was purchased used), then put it back in the garage until she went to bed on Christmas eve.  This is all stuff that I’d been planning to do since I bought it in early November, but I waited until the last minute.  Ok, back to Dec. 23rd.  I asked Husband to help me carry it in, because it is BIG.  We went to the garage, lifted it, walked across the yard, up the two back steps, and discovered that it’s about an inch wider than our door opening.  No, I’m not kidding.   I’m sure if I had discovered this a week earlier I would have more options than I have now.  Wouldn’t that have been nice?

 The moment she first saw her Remember When dollhouse (minus its base, which we had to remove to get it in the door).

(under that sheet is a gorgeous mid century Lane coffee table that was being thrown out when I snagged it.  more on that later!!)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Night Retro

This is the first in what I plan to have as a weekly feature.

It's Saturday night.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy some blasts from the past.  Let's begin with the legendary Bonnie Raitt...

And these entries from Husband...

And finally...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Woo Pig Sooie!!!

The Arkansas Razorbacks will play in the Cotton Bowl in about two hours.  I'm going to my mom and dad's house to watch (no tv at our house, more on that later).  In honor of the occasion, here is a super cute pic of my kids with the Hog mascots during Razorback Day at the Capitol.

You'll notice that Rebekah is holding my hand.  She's a bit unsure about anthropomorphic pigs.

True story, my two older kids learned to spell Arkansas like this: A-R-K-A-N-S (boom boom) AS!

eta:  The Hogs won!!!  (I think the Fox Sports announcers were as bummed as the Kansas State coaches and team.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap.

Sometimes I make my own laundry soap.  I know that’s pretty big out in blogland, and a lot of my fellow stay at home moms do it.  I don’t do it because it’s a lot cheaper.  I can usually find a deal on detergent that makes the cost just a few dollars per month.  Also, I use OxiClean like an addict.

That stuff makes me go all June Cleaver, but it ain't cheap.

Oh, back to the homemade stuff.  I don’t do it because I am an all natural girl who doesn’t like to have harsh chemicals in my house.  I love me some highly toxic rust remover, and I’ve been known to use enough ammonia on my kitchen tile to cause a headache (my head, not the kids.  i’m not a monster.)

No, I do it because I hate to run out of things.  Running out means I have to remember to put it on the list, then I have to remember to take the list to the store, then I have to remember to look at the list in the store.  Too much pressure.  Also, I don’t have a laundry room.  My washer and dryer are in one of the bathrooms.  That makes me feel very sorry for myself, by the way.  (i'll pause while you feel sorry for me, too.  done?  ok, let's move on.)  It also means I don’t have room to store giant jugs of laundry detergent.  By making it with little water added I can store months and months worth on a small section of shelf.  I don’t do the big 5 gallon Duggar liquid type.
(no Duggar bashing will be permitted in the comments.  thank you.)

I use a combination of dry ingredients that I scoop, and a gel I make and keep in a squirt bottle.  A word about the gel.  Don’t do this if you have a weak stomach.  It looks alarmingly like the results of a head cold.  You have been warned.  For the dry mix I do equal parts of washing soda and borax.

Sometimes I put it in this cute vintage jar, since in my mind I’ve turned my laundry room/bathroom into a cute, kitschy 1950’s laundromat.  Sometimes I just leave the scoop in the boxes and do it like some sort of lazy slacker with no sense of style.

For the gel I shred half a bar of  soap with my food processor.  No, I don’t think that means that I can never use that food processor for food again.  In fact, that’s probably the cleanest my processor gets throughout the year.  I usually use a laundry bar, like Fels-Naptha or Zote or Octagon, but sometimes I just use a bar of Ivory.  After I shred it I put it in a saucepan with about 3 cups of water (i totally guessed at that amount.  i fill my “medium” saucepan with water.  that’s all i know.)  I sloooooowly heat the water, stirring occasionally, until the soap is melted.  Then I let it cool.  At that point it will be a firm, gelatinous blob, maintaining the shape of the pan when you lift it and scream, “KIDS!  COME LOOK AT THIS FREAKY THING I MADE OUT OF SOAP!”  I use my pastry cutter to chop, chop, chop it in the pan, and it becomes a gel (see food processor note above about using the pastry cutter on pastry again).

My smarty pants husband surmises that if I would stir the cooling concoction occasionally, I would achieve gel that way.  Probably.  If I ever remember to do that I’ll report on my success or failure.  Then I pour the gel into a squeeze bottle.  I add a squeeze to each load, and I also use this gel as a pre-treater.  I’m not sure how well it works compared to things like Shout or Spray and Wash, because I never use those.  Any stain that remains is subject to a soak in OxiClean, and if that doesn’t work it becomes “play clothes”.  Or the shirt Bekah wears out in public and I exclaim, “Oh Bekah, did you get something on your shirt on the way to Walmart?  When we get home I’ll pre-treat it with Shout and get it clean.”

So there it is.  My laundry soap tale.  Maybe someday I’ll write about my dream house, which has no closets, but has a huge laundry room with shelves and hanging rods and a deep sink and an ironing nook.  Someday.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why start a blog?

Well here it is. The first post on my new blog. I kicked around a few ideas for a topic, but decided to address the idea behind the inception.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I enjoy keeping up with my friends, real and not so real, and I like to post some of the things that go on in this house each day. It works like a scrapbook for me. I’ve tried scrapbooking. I stink. My tendency to procrastinate combined with my lack of organization meant that instead of neat, fun books chronicling our lives, I had piles of paper, jumbles of photos, and I could never find the scissors anyway, so it was pointless. But Facebook allowed me to record the moments shortly after they happened, and I loved being able to look back and laugh, or not, over them. Soon people started telling me that I should write a book about the stuff my kids do and say. Well, writing a book would be a little like scrapbooking. I’d need to work toward an end, a point at which the project would be finished. I’m not good at that. I’m good at right now. So after two years of saying maybe I’d start a blog, I decided to issue myself a public challenge. In late November 2011 I declared for all the (Facebook) world to hear, that I was starting a blog on January 1, 2012. I invited any of my FB friends to do the same, and suggested that we all link to each other’s blogs. That would give each of us a bit of an instant audience, and maybe provide some encouragement.

So here it is. That first post. Perhaps you’re thinking, “That wasn’t funny at all.” and you don’t plan to come back. I hope you’ll give me another chance over the next week or so. My youngest child, Bekah, is sure to say something funny during that time, and I promise to record it here for posterity.

If you have just started a blog, or revived an old, neglected blog, and you’d like to link up here, be my guest. I would ask that you peruse the other links and comment or link as you feel led (inside joke). Most of the blogs linked here will be new, and their authors would like the traffic.

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