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The Action This Evening

*Gingersnap is calmly watching TV*

*a commercial for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk appears*

Gingersnap: *gasp* “DUNKIRK! DUNKIRK! BOYS! GET IN HERE IT’S A DUNKIRK COMMERCIAL!”

*thuds and door slams from the back of the house*

*boys burst into the living room like that scene from The Sound of Music when the Von Trapp children first appear*

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Family Terms and Definitions

Over the years, our family has created euphemisms, phrases, and descriptions that are unique to us and our interests.  Such sayings appear in daily conversation (often gleefully repeated ad nauseam after something particularly funny is coined)–but unfortunately leaves the uninitiated with no idea of what we mean.  Hence, this dictionary.

Aged C  (n.“We’re taking the Aged to church.”  The erstwhile kids’ car.  One family quirk is naming our vehicular devices, and this car’s name was a variant of the Dickens character Aged Parent, or Aged P.  We decided that if we said to any young man: “Do you object to an Aged Car?  Because I have got one,” and he recognized the quote as one of Dickens’s–well, he might just be boyfriend material.  No young man ever recognized the line, but Uncle C. from church did.

Right before the car completely died, Enkie was afraid it would fall to pieces, Wilde E. Coyote style, the middle of an intersection, leaving her clutching the wheel amid a wreckage of auto parts.

Bangy-Bangy  (v.“Anybody mind if I bangy-bangy?”  Playing the piano, a term coined by Gingersnap.  Contrary to what the term implies, she plays very well.

Bookends, the  (n., pl.“The middle three kids are running errands, so it’s just the bookends here at home.”  Me and Emmet; I’m the eldest of the kids and he’s the youngest.  Dad coined this creative term during one of his homeschooling speeches.

Buckland  (n.“He’s the Buckland of the group.”  A really clueless and incompetent leader.  Named after first mate Buckland from the Horatio Hornblower episodes Mutiny and Retribution.  Buckland is a leader so clueless and incompetent you have to wonder how he rose to the rank of first mate at all.

Christine Stories  (n., pl.“Can you tell us a Christine story before bed?”  Stories from my childhood, imparted primarily to my brothers.  I am 10 years older than Chris and 14.5 years older than Emmet and have accumulated interesting anecdotes about family events, doings, mishaps that happened before they were born or while they were too young to remember.  Such anecdotes range in severity from tornado threats and terrible injuries to the amusing attempt at homemade candles or the escapade of jumping off the filing cabinet.  For fun.

Clueless Morgan  (n.“Sorry, I’m just a Clueless Morgan today.”  Borrowed from Muppet Treasure Island, this refers to someone who is, well, clueless.  Similar to the term “Buckland,” but with an undercurrent of dopiness.  Sometimes the terms are used together, e.g. “Clueless Buckland.”

Cup of Ambition  (n.“Let me get a cup of ambition, and then we’ll go.”  Coffee.  ‘Nuff said.

Don’t Be That Duck  (phrase)  From Sandra Boyton’s Happy Hippo, Angry Duck.  The book ends with “Except for the duck.  He’s always that way [angry].”  A between-siblings reminder to perk up and adjust a stinky attitude.

Dustfinger  (n.)  “Dustfinger is installing updates and taking his slow, sweet time about it.”  Gingersnap’s laptop.  We also name our technological devices: laptops, phones, the PC, sometimes even sewing machines.  Gingernsap’s previous laptop was Mo.

Early Bus, Late Bus  (n.)  “The Early Bus leaves at 8: 45, to whom it may concern.”  The vehicles that depart first and last for church.  The sisters have ministries that require us to leave before 9:00 a.m.; and trying to get all seven of us clothed and in our right minds at such an early hour would require a miracle from heaven.  Hence the departures in two cars and at different times.

Effie Mozart  (n.“Effie needs to be tuned; she sounds like a broken guitar.”  Our piano.  Named “Effie” because its color is mahogany, and “Mozart” because Emmet wanted specifically wanted that.

Falcon (Millennial, the)  (n.“Can’t take you to the library right now; Enkie has the Falcon.”  The current kid car, driven primarily by Enkie.  The Falcon is so named because “she doesn’t look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.”

Fluzzy (adj.)  “She’s such a sweet, fluzzy dog!!”  A mash-up of “fluffy” and “fuzzy,” used in adoration of our dog’s cuteness.

Fury, the  (n.“I’m leaving the keys to the Fury on the table.”  Dad’s car, which bears a suspicious resemblance to the black car Nick Fury drives in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  We have yet to discover, however, if its air conditioner can survive the apocalypse.

Fussy  (n.)  “Fussy locked up again!”  Enkie’s laptop.  So named because the thing malfunctions when most inconvenient.

Gloom, Doom, & Chitauri  (n.“They’re expecting strong storms, but not gloom, doom, and chitauri.”  Any approaching ominous event.  Used mostly of severe weather–and coined when the forecast held incredibly severe storms for our area–but this phrase also refers to political events, sickness, just anything severely disagreeable.

Liquid Motivation  (n.“Mom and I are going to get some liquid motivation before the meeting.”  Coffee.  See also Cup of Ambition

Locusts  (n., pl.“You’d better get some chips and ice cream before the locusts breeze through.”  Other family members, specifically in the context of said members consuming food.  Our family has been known to demolish a whole box of cereal, an entire bag of potato chips, a bag and a half of chocolate chips, and several pints of ice-cream — in one evening.

Martian Death Virus  (n.“We’re not available to babysit this week because half the family has the Martian Death Virus.”  Any nasty sickness, often one that flattens half the family simultaneously or else hits one person who then inadvertently passes the virus on so that each family member falls sick one by one like a row of dominoes.

Red Ink  (v.)  “Do you want me to red ink it?”  To edit a piece of writing.  Chris coined this term as I edited one of his response essays.

Sermonizing  (v.“Dad is out in the office sermonizing.”  Preparing a sermon.

Sibling Bonding Time  (n.)  “We’re going to watch Secret of Moonacre for sibling bonding time.”  Our excuse for watching lousy, cheesy — but fun — movies.

Sydney  (n.“Sydney is on, but asleep; don’t touch him.”  My laptop.  Named after (you guessed it) Sydney Carton.

Tolkien Chapters  (n., pl.)  “I won’t be going to bed for a while; this book has Tolkien chapters.”  Really, really long chapters.  Coined during a family read-aloud of Tolkien’s epic and after counting 22 pages in the first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Transformer, the  (n.)  “Everybody get in the Transformer; it’s time to go.”  Our SUV.  So named because its bulk is such that you expect it to unfold into something massively robotic when you least expect it.

We Three Kings (n., pl.“It’s just we three kings going to church this evening.”  The middle three kids: Enkie, Gingernsap, and Chris.  This term was coined when they were rehearsing the song “We Three Kings” as part of the Christmas special at church.

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One-Liners Around Our House

While watching Inception the other night:

Gingersnap: “I ship Arthur and Ariadne.”

Me: “Arthur shipped Arthur and Ariadne–Mr. ‘Kiss-me-well-it-was-worth-a-try!’ ”

 

Emmet jumped over the little table that had been pulled in front of his easy chair.  And then he remarked: “That was probably not the best way to exit that chair.”

 

Chris, relating an anecdote: “I unplugged my seat belt–”

Me: “Unplugged your seat belt?!?!? Millennial kid, good night!!”

Chris: “Hey, I’m entitled to talk like that.”

 

We were having baked potatoes for dinner one night.

Emmet: “Will someone help me squeeze the guts out of my potato?

Then, when I paused to write down that quote before helping him…

Emmet: “Um, Guts?  Potato?  Help?”

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Character Challenge: Animated Movies

Sorry I’ve been absent, guys.  I’m still recovering from illness and also helping family members who are also sick or getting sick.  To quote a family phrase coined years ago: “It just wouldn’t be Christmas without an illness.”

Anyway, I’m back now.  And since I missed so many days, the next few categories get to share one post.

Character everyone loves that you don’t.

Merida from Brave.  Film and TV is so full of spitfires that this character was nothing new and just made me roll my eyes.  But ignoring how often this type of character has been portrayed, Merida has very little in her personality that I respect.  She is irresponsible; she’s a princess, for crying out loud, and it’s implied she will rule the kingdom someday, but she complains about all her duties, everything she has to learn, and would rather ride her horse and shoot her bow.  While there’s nothing wrong with taking a break every now and then, she fusses about her royal education because she just doesn’t like it and would rather do what she wants.  And her hobbies of archery and riding aren’t even helpful to anyone, as there’s no mention of (a) a war or (b) any indication that women would fight if there were.  She’s a tomboy for the sake of being a tomboy; she kicks against an arranged married because, well, she just doesn’t want to get married.

Now, she does have a legitimate complaint against the arranged marriage; affection is an important consideration, to the point that Bible has a whole book dedicated to love between a husband and wife.  But Merida doesn’t object on these grounds.  She objects because she just doesn’t want to get married.  Kind of like a toddler refusing to eat his squash because he doesn’t like it.  She also has a legitimate complaint that her mother doesn’t listen to her—but Merida also doesn’t listen to her mother, doesn’t even make the effort.

All that said, I can respect her for acknowledging her mistake, mending it, and humbling her pride.  That is something I rarely see spitfire heroines do.  Aside from that, Merida doesn’t have a terribly unique personality and not enough qualities to respect.

*gets off soapbox*

Character that you love and everyone else hates.

*resists urge to talk about The Phantom of the Opera instead*

Ugh, I know there is an animated character that fits into this category, but I can’t remember who it is.

I’ll talk instead about an animated movie that I love, and it might strike people as odd, considering how seriously I take Tolkien’s epic stories.  But I like the Rankin Bass animated Hobbit movie.  Mainly because, while it was a very streamlined adaptation, it did tell the basic story (unlike some filmmakers I could name).  Also, the music is gorgeous; I was disappointed to find there wasn’t a soundtrack to the film.

Character you used to love but don’t anymore.

I’ve outgrown the animated Charlotte’s Web movie and the Madeline movies.  That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

Character you would fall for.

Um…I’m really not the easily-swept-off-my-feet type.  It takes a lot of good character traits for me to respect a character (or a real-life person, for that matter).  However, the one character I might fall for also belongs in the next category….

The character you want to be like.

Tadashi Harmada, hands down.  He’s a responsible, protective older brother.  He pulls Hiro out of dangerous scrapes and then swats him for being foolish.  He has his brother’s best interest at heart at all times; he sees the potential in his little brother, knows he is capable of so much more than bot fighting, and tries to interest him in college and science rather than violent betting fights.  He teases his little brother, but also encourages him to keep trying, to look for another angle.

Tadashi is also the persevering, seen in his line “I’m not giving up on you,” but also in his lab, where it took 80-something tries and tests to get his robot Baymax in working order.  The very fact that he built a nurse robot to tend injuries and illness says something for his priorities, doesn’t it?

Interestingly, the film never implies that Tadashi is or was a young genius like Hiro is.  But there’s no jealousy between the brothers; if anything, Tadashi pushes Hiro to fulfil his talents and become better at them.

I want to be like Tadashi and to encourage my siblings to do what they’re good at, and to never give up on them.

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Writers’ Camp: Day 7

This will be a rambling post because (a) I’m late again and (b) fighting sickness that hit out of the blue, and (c) haven’t really organized my thoughts on this topic.

This day will cover the importance on positive strong friendships,and family bonds. We’ll discuss books (or TV Shows/Movies) with a positive angle to these topics, as well as books (or TV Shows/Movies) With a negative angle.

One story that covers the importance of strong family relationships is An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott.  Polly Milton lives with her city cousins for a while and has to sift through the modern (for 1870) fashions and attitudes.  She struggles with jealousy sometimes because of the fashionable life her cousins lead, yet Polly is also shocked at how divided the family is.  The father, while a good man, works too much to spend time with his family; the mother is a “nervous, fussy invalid,” and the cousins bicker and fight–once, quite literally–nag and insult each other, and often complain about each other to Polly.  Polly, by contrast, has good, though not perfect, relationships with her parents and siblings.  She admits she sometimes argues with her siblings, but that they also apologize afterwards, and she tries to encourage her cousins to be more patient and forbearing with each other.

An Old-Fashioned Girl is really about remaining obedient to what you know is right, a challenge for Polly as lives among modern, immodest (well, for 1870) fashions and the attitudes.  But family relationships fit into that theme.

The TV show The Waltons showed an interesting aspect of a parent-child relationship.  I wouldn’t call the show an example of good family relationships; the kids bicker and fight a lot.  But the parents struggle a little as their eldest children hit adult milestones–Olivia has to release her motherly protectiveness of her eldest son and let him become his own man.  And while John understands the need for John-Boy to make his own decisions as an adult (and encourages him to do so), he is a little more wary of letting his eldest daughter go out into the world.

As I said a while back, I haven’t read much modern literature, and the ancient/classic literature I read often has good brother-sister relationships, or else shows that the divisions are harmful. And I’m not crazy about TV shows in general.  So can’t think of any more positive relationships or poorly done relationships at the moment.  Also I’m sick and can’t think straight, so maybe I’ll update this post later.  🙂

 

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Recipe for Disaster = A Cake Full of Laughs

A real-life anecdote recorded in the spring of 2013

Anyone who invites guests for dinner knows how stressful things get before the melodious chime of the doorbell at 6:00.  Today, however, I wasn’t expecting a lot of stress.  Mom had requested I clean the vanity, mirror, and toilet in the kid’s bathroom; but beyond that, I had no tasks or plans beyond a shower.  I might even have some long stretches of writing and drawing time.

So let the fun begin!

 

10:00 a.m.: My sister (to be known here as Gingersnap) began assembling the doubled recipe of crock pot beef stew.

10:10 a.m.: Finished breakfast.  (The shameful rising hour was due to my reading The Silmarillion late into the night—“the Precious made us do it!!”)

10:15 a.m.: Managed a complex interweaving of personal chores, assembling outfits for later, renewing a library book, and—possibly most essential–checking my favorite blogs.  Answering various cooking, scheduling, and computer maintenance questions.

10:30 a.m.: Headed to the kids’ bathroom with bucketful of rags and cleaning supplies.

10:37 a.m.: Paused cleaning to look at the stalled printer, and told Emmet he’d have to wait to print his comics.

10:42 a.m.: Decided to scrub rust and water stains off the brass light bulb panel.

10:48 a.m.: Gave up and hoped the guests wouldn’t notice the panel.

10:50 a.m.: En route to laundry room to dispose of dirty rags, I received a panic call from Gingersnap.  The stew needed to be in the crock pot by 11:00 a.m., and she still had vegetables to chop.  Told her I’d be there to help in a minute.

10:52 a.m.: Hurtled back to the bathroom and feverishly swiped toilet bowl.

10:55 a.m.: Dashed to the kitchen.  Received news of a temper tantrum.

10:56 a.m.: Dealt with temper tantrum.

11:00 a.m.: Shuttled knife, cutting board, and onions to dining room and minced with all haste.

11:09 a.m.: Narrowly missed slicing fingers.

11:13 a.m.: Took plateful of minced onions to kitchen.

11:15 a.m.: Headed back to bathroom.  Found newly-cleaned toilet stopped up with toilet paper.

11:16 a.m.: Fixed toilet.  Tried to wash hands and found that I’d forgotten to refill the soap dispenser.

11:18 a.m.: Tried to pour liquid soap into the dispenser, but the soap mimicked the fervor of cold molasses.  Squeezing the bottle sent a tidal wave of soap over dispenser rim and only a few drops into the dispenser itself.  Resigned self to holding soap bottle up-side-down.

11:20 a.m.: Heard a squeal from Emmet along with a plea for my presence.

11:20 a.m.: Shouted a logical inquiry as to why.

11:21 a.m.: Received answer of “Will you just come here?” amid more squeals.

11:21 a.m.: Pitched soap bottle in trash can and headed for den.

11:21 a.m.: Found Emmet squashed against the couch, legs in the air, with our dog straddling his prostrate form, effectively holding his head between the couch cushions and her furry body.

11:22 a.m.: Relocated dog to the rug.

11:23 a.m.: Urgently phoned Mom to request liquid soap from the store.  Delivered message to answering machine.

11:25 a.m.: Dumped the cubed, sliced, and chopped veggies into crock pot.

11:26 a.m.: As the mound of vegetables rose, realized that crock pot wouldn’t hold the doubled amounts.

11:26, 13 sec. a.m.: Mentally bade a sad farewell to writing and drawing time.

11:27 a.m.: Dragged a second (heavy) crock pot out from behind the (heavier) juicer base.

11:28 a.m.: Tried to divide the partially mixed ingredients between the crock pots.  Ended up with a 1:3 meat-veggie ratio in the first and a 3:1 veggie-meat ratio in the second.  Shrugged and added broth and seasonings.

11:30 a.m.: While forcing the wooden spoon through the unyielding pile of meat and veggies, flipped a good half cup of the mixture onto the counter.  Repeated accident with the other crock pot.

11:32 a.m.: Set heat and timer on both crock pots (in theory; I later found that I’d turned only one crock pot on).  Unloaded dishwasher.  Belted out songs from Pirates of Penzance to alleviate potential frustration.

11:45 a.m.: Parents came home and discovered that my other brother had a fever; and thus our dinner guests couldn’t come visit after all.

 

Over the years, I’ve learned to laugh at such hectic happenings.  I’ve heard people say that if you don’t laugh, you’ll go nuts; but to me, the craziness really is funny.  In hindsight that is; one of my personal maxims is “This will be funny later.”  Especially if you can get a good blog post out of it.  🙂

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Why I Still Live At Home

For those of you who don’t know, I am approaching mid-20s age, and I still live at home.  Home, as in: my parents’ house.  An odd arrangement; a restricting one, right?—how will I ever get life experience, and be independent, and stuff?  (Answer: by trying new things, making mistakes, learning from said mistakes, thinking through choices, introducing myself to people…really, it’s no different from the way I would live if I were on my own.)  But I made the decision to live at home of my own volition before I graduated high school, and I’ve never regretted the choice.  Here’s why I chose to live and home, and why I love it:

The benefit of my parents’ wisdom, guidance, and friendship.  The older I get, the more I realize how little I know.  Since my parents are years older (duh), they have the experience to give wise warnings, advice, support, and such.  Yes, I could just text or call Mom and Dad if I lived somewhere else, but it’s not as easy to talk when you live two cities away.  Living in the same house lets the three of us discuss matters at length easily and efficiently; and my parents’ wisdom and guidance helps me avoid pitfalls (such as relationship problems or bad financial decisions) that could hurt me for the rest of my life.

But my parents do not control or restrict me.  I’m an adult, and they treat me like an adult.  There’s a mutual trust involved here: I’m free to choose what to read, what to watch, how to handle my finances, and when to schedule my outings.  On the other hand, because I’ve chosen to live in my parents’ house, I will not bring into it films, books, &etc. they might object to.  Therefore, I ask if they mind my buying a certain movie, or if X calendar date is free for an outing so as not to wreck their schedules.

And friendship?  I am absolutely friends with my parents.  They are my authorities; thus, it’s not a BFF or chummy relationship.  But we laugh and joke; we discuss and debate; we have thoughtful, mature, intelligent conversations.  And we grow closer together every year I remain at home.

Health problems that would make it hard to keep a regular job.  This was definitely one motivation, and my health problems have gotten worse through the years.  When I drafted this little essay, it was 6: 50 in the morning, and I’d gotten maybe 2 ½ hours of sleep the night before.  So, yeah.

Saving on room and board.  Hey, what’s wrong with being practical?  Mom herself vehemently defends the idea of adult children living at home to save money.  Since I’m not pursuing a career or education in another city, it makes no sense to live in my hometown and pay for an apartment when my parents have the room, money, and willingness for me to live at home.

That said, I do not freeload.  I buy my own books, DVDs, Christmas presents, art supplies, voice lessons, movie tickets, any software, other such personal costs—for example, I intended to cover the full cost of buying myself a new laptop.  (Dad, however, kindly insisted on paying half the price.)  Mom and Dad pay for things like clothes, make-up, medical insurance and expenses, but I cover the cost of personal items.  And if I’m not sure what personal items fall into the family budget and what fall into my own, I just ask.

Also, Mom and Dad get the benefit of helping hands while I live here.  I help run the household: my siblings and I do dishes, laundry, de-cluttering, weekly cleaning, and cook meals, leaving Mom free to handle other household matters.  Mom and Dad pay for room and board, but in a way, I do earn my own keep.  🙂

I remain involved in my siblings’ lives.  This is a precious benefit.  I get to watch my siblings grow intellectually, spiritually, physically, and academically.  I see their interests develop, and I encourage those pursuits; I give them counsel and advice and get counsel and advice in return (my brother and I critique each other’s ideas and writings, for example).  The five of us laugh together, encourage each other, practice keeping temper and being patient, and grow closer every year.  I love it when we all sit in the living room and talk, bouncing off each other’s ideas and creativity.  We watch films together and analyze them.  We disagree and debate—we have the same parents and the same education, but we kids do not always have the same opinions!  Which means I can get second opinions from four different sources; and I fully intend to enlist my brothers in evaluating any suitors.  They will be frank in their critique of the guy, and fierce in their defense of me.

Also, my youngest brother (I’ll call him Emmet on this blog) and I are 14.5 years apart.  If I moved out, he would see little of me and would hardly know his eldest sister.  And I would hardly know my youngest brother.  Interestingly enough, Emmet and I are the most alike of all the siblings: we share several quirks, habits, lines of thought, personality traits–and we share similar struggles.  Since I’m older, I’ve already journeyed through some trouble spots that he’s now dealing with; and so I help Emmet through his problems.  This would be much harder to do if I lived somewhere else, and Emmet would lose the benefit of someone who personally understands what he’s going through.

Not everyone has to live at home—that’s a decision between you and God and you and our family.  But I’m thankful God has led me to live at home, and that my parents are willing to have me, and that my siblings are my best friends!