Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sometimes, I Amuse Me

While we were in Branson, we drove by a sign that appeared to say, "Helicop tours".  I thought it was absolutely -brilliant- for a company that does entertainment tours with a helicopter.  Unfortunately, the company wasn't actually that clever.  The sign had lost it's 'ter' after the 'Helicop'.  The whole sign on the other side, when we saw it, said, "Adventure Helicopter Tours".

So the other day, my earworm was



(You can tell I have small children, right?)

And suddenly, I was thinking, Mouse-ka-me, mouse-ka-you, mouse-couture.


I was now wondering if such a thing as mouse-couture actually existed, or if I was going to have to photoshop such a thing.

Thankfully, Jeremy Scott has me covered.

Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday, we went to see Winnie the Pooh at the Carmike in Dothan.  While there, we discovered that if you buy the $15 bucket of popcorn...you can bring it BACK!  At any time in the future for the rest of the year, and refill it for under $3!

I think Mark's Mom and I enjoyed it more than the kids.  But then again, I'm sure that we both grew up with Winnie the Pooh.

It had all the classics from my youth-- Winnie with his rumbly tummy after honey; a scared Piglet, the red balloon, the bees in the hive, all the beloved characters, and the interaction of Pooh with the narrator and the words of the story (:

My absolute favorite part was when Eeyore lost his tail and Tigger is helping him learn to be a Tigger.  It reminds of a story I read as a child when Tigger wants to meet his family and all the other characters dress up as Tiggers for him, then he goes home and realizes that his real family is the characters around him and it's wonderful to be a Tigger because he's the only one.

I decided in that moment that I need to figure out how to make myself a tiggerfied Eeyore (:

Spending a little of time searching last night, I came across an original McCall pattern from the 1960s for the characters.


I also came across an Eeyore description from the original tales:  He is a blue-gray donkey, about 3-years in age and stands 18 inches tall & 27 inches in length. He is originally like the other Pooh character; stuffed with sawdust. His appearance is highlighted by a small light pink bow on his tail.

And this series of videos with instructions on how to make a puppy that I believe will be easy to modify for Eeyore.

http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_5215_make-stuffed-animal.html


So I did some internet searching to help me pattern:

For the side of his body and the shape of his rump.
For the particular shape of his head and mouth.
And a good image for the placement of his tigger stripes (;

Now all I have to do is find the time to make him!

Looks Like Dave Seville Just Needed to Wait for The Band Perry

Yesterday, I'm riding with my mother in law and all the kids in tow to go see the latest Winnie the Pooh movie.  The radio station is set to the choosing of the 13 year old and she asks to turn the radio up when, "If I Die Young" comes on.

On the one hand, I hate this song because I've come to accept that I'm a little superstitious about things like that.  It's right up there with naming your boat Titanic 2.  Or the building of a replica of the original Titanic.  I believe such things tempt fate.  You pretty much wave a sign around proclaiming, "Smite Me!"

On the other hand, I can't help but hear this song:



and remember Dave Seville trying to sell this one:



Shortly after the above snippet, his not friend in the industry says to him,

Ian: Let's talk about your song, Dave.
David Seville: Well, as crazy as it sounds, the original inspiration came to me...
Ian: The song sucks, Dave.
David Seville: What?
Ian: Your song, it's awful, I hate it. Yeah, I mean, who's gonna sing it? Justin? Fergie? Not a chance. Come on, I need something new, something fresh...
David Seville: But that is new.
Ian: The next big thing. Dave, we go way back. We both come a long way since college. You, not so much. I wanted to like that song, but, you heard it... not that good. If I wasn't your friend, I'd say, "Dave, you go right back out of this office and you keep writing music, you'll get there someday." But I am your friend, so I'm going to tell you that there is no sense in writing songs that no one is ever, ever, going to sing.
David Seville: Ever?
(quotes from http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0050210/quotes)

Looks like Ian was wrong again.

Dave was just ahead of his time by 4 years...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Living in the Video Gaming Age

Every now and then, my 5 year old asks me if I played the xbox 360 or playstation game that he's currently playing, when I was a little girl.  I have to remind him that we didn't have those games when I was little.  We got a Nintendo when I was a young teenager:  Super Mario Brothers (the original) and Duck Hunt; Tetris was a personal favorite.  We didn't have a computer in the house until I was 12 or so.

See?  Even in the 80s, girls played video games (;


But my little boys have grown up with computer learning games.  They were using Nick Jr., Fisher Price, and PBS as early as 2 and just goofing around on the computer almost as soon as they could sit.

My youngest, playing on Daddy's computer, before he was 2.

Today, I was reminded of how it has changed they way they play, since they're growing up in the video game age.  My 4 year old nephew came over to play with his cousins and shortly thereafter, I could hear the heated sounds of battle coming from the darkened hallway...with a whole lot of light related weapons going off in there...


And periodically, the sounds of explosions and lightning and battle were punctuated by cries of, "Pause!" like they were playing a video game (:

I knew instantly that my boys were pretending to play Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

Ergo all the lightning sound effects and light related toys...
It reminded me instantly of when my youngest was 3 1/2.  He would come running down the hall shouting, "X, X, A, B!" and would inform me that, "That gives me super speed, Momma!"

He was in his Sonic Unleashed Phase.



He even drew about it (:

"It's Sonic Unleashed running around, Momma!"  (Yup, I'm the Mom that writes that sort of quote down on the back of the art work with the date so we'll always remember it.)

It makes me wonder how different imaginary play will be by the time my children are old enough to have children.

I'm not really a Garden Gnome Kinda Girl

To be honest, I'm not inclined to do much in cutesy yard decorations...except wind chimes.  I absolutely adore wind chimes.

But I believe I -could- be for Halloween!

A friend of mine recently posted these:

Walking Dead

and
Rising Dead

available through etsy for $49 and $39, respectively.

Doing a little research of my own, I discovered I could also add the yard Flamingo I've never wanted!!
































available through another etsy seller for $50.

Of course, using The Papier Boy's directions on Instructables as a guide, I believe I might be able to modify local gnomes into zombies on my own, like this gentleman does.  If you look at his flickr images, you can see both the before and after.  I'm definitely going to have to follow his advice about looking for my soon to be Halloween projects in August when their prices drop (;

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Crawfish Jubilee

When I worked at the Landing, crawfish jubilee was one of my ultimate favorite dishes.  It took me almost a decade to get as close to it as I could.  Tonight, I made it into a spicy crawfish pie (:  It smelled delicious and was so good, I had to go back for seconds!

Crawfish Jubilee

Ingredients

Rice
Crawfish tails
1 onion, diced fine
2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic
Vegetable oil
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Paprika
Pepper
Parsley
Salt

Additional for the pie: 2 thawed ready made crusts.

Rice-- 2 cups of rice to 3 cups of water, a sploosh of vegetable oil and a touch of salt.  You can cook in on the stove (bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 40 minutes), or you can cook it in a steamer.

Unfortunately, I don't have access to live crawfish where we live, so I get 2 packages of the tails from the freezer section at the store then rinse them in the sink and finish cleaning the ones the sorters missed. (ie.  devaining them)

While I finish rinsing the crawfish, I put vegetable oil in the bottom of a frying pan and set it for medium high.  Then I dice an onion and use fresh minced garlic, and saute both in the oil.  When the onions start to go clear, add the crawfish.  Cover in a good dose of Louisiana Hot Sauce, then sprinkle heavily with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, parsley and salt to taste.  Stir it all up and let some of the moisture cook out of it.  This gives the crawfish time to absorb the seasonings.

For Crawfish Jubilee, serve the crawfish beside a nice helping of white rice with parsley sprinkled on top.

For spicy crawfish pie, the oven should be warmed up to 350.  I like to use a 9x11 pan.  Thaw the two ready made crusts.  In the baking dish, pour in the rice, then pour the crawfish mixture on top (It will still be fairly juicy).  Stir them together until fairly well mixed.  Then lay the 2 crusts over the top of the pie overlapping so they cover the entire surface.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the crust is golden, then serve.

Mmm!  Just thinking about it is making me want a -third- helping!

Silver Dollar City

I don't remember many of the entertainment based vacations and activities from when I was a child.  But one place stands out clear as a bell in my memories.  I was 7 or 8.  And the place was Dogpatch, USA.  It was a rustic themed amusement park, located in Arkansas.  My absolute favorite memories of it were the amusement swing, the merry go round, the play ground, the water roller coasters, and this crazy fun house with tilted floors and upside down sections.


Unfortunately, this favored amusement park of my youth has long since gone and closed, in 1993.

This past week, we went to Brason for Mark's family reunion.  We'd originally considered going to Silver Dollar City, but it was going to cost us $200 for a single day (even though they give you a pass for the second day, we wouldn't be able to use it)!  Then, Thursday night, Mark's cousin Melissa stops by and another family who was leaving at the same time and wouldn't be able to come back for their second day gave her their passes.  We were invited to go for free!  Woohoo!  (Or as Mark said, "I'd have to be a real asshole to turn down free passes.")

When we first arrived, the watermill immediately had me thinking about Dog Patch.

All of the cousins together before we head into the amusement park.
The first thing we did was go through Marvel Caverns.  After that, we stopped for some lunch, then took a look at the map to decide what we were going to do.


The first ride that we rode was a log ride.  Mark and I rode with the two littlest while Mark's cousin Chuckie rode with the other kids.  I -loved- it!  It was identical to the ride I remember from my youth. 




In fact, so many of the rides were the same, Mark wanted to know if I'd ever been to Silver Dollar City before.  I even confirmed with my mother.  When we got home, I did some internet research, and the reason Silver Dollar City and Dogpatch are so common is because they are both rural themed and that Dogpatch duplicated the attractions of Silver Dollar City.

 Then the other adults and older children rode Wildfire.



We rode two of the water based roller coasters that the younger children were allowed on.


On our way through to park, we saw this lovely Alice in Wonderland.

 


And stopped long enough to put the kids in the stockade (;



They also have a wonderful play area that the kids enjoyed while we grown ups used the opportunity to sit down (; 



While sitting, I learned that the woman beside me was from Natchitoches!  And she gave me some instructions to help make my meat pies more like the original (:

Then the kids and Mark rode the Merry-Go-Round twice and my youngest discovered the kiddie swings.

When we first got into Branson and went to the presentation, the lady who led us to where the boys were going to play while we watched it was talking to my 9 year old, who has been to Silver Dollar City before.  As they talked about a place called, Grandfather's Mansion, I knew that I definitely wanted to go there, because it sounded very similar to one of my absolute favorite places from Dogpatch.

The kids took turns posing in the coffin outside.



These two 'came back' as vampires (;

I did a quick youtube search for someone going through it.  This one is the closest to what it's like to be in the tilted room (:



And then we went for our final ride.



Which is one of my all time -favorites-!  We enjoyed this one so much, we did it twice (:

By then, it was fast approaching 7 at night and our day was coming to a close.  It was an absolutely fabulous experience and I hope that my boys will have life time memories for Silver Dollar City the way I do from Dogpatch (:



Marvel Cave

We went with Mark's cousin and the kids on a walking tour of Marvel Cave.  As the guide described it before we began, it's over 600 stairs, 1/2 a mile long, and the equivalent of going down a 60 story building to go up a 50 story building, in order to ride the train at the end.

See those itty-bitty dots throughout the image?  Those represent people.

I have to admit, before we began, I was a little nervous.  He said it was a strenuous trip, not recommended if you have breathing issues (I have asthma), bad feet (I'm still recovering from the achilles tendon issue from 2 1/2 months ago), bad knees (yea for arthritis!), plus a slew of other things that I -don't- have (:

Frequently as we went along, I felt like we'd paired the two weakest links-- myself, and my youngest nephew, who is 4.  Surprisingly, he never once got scared or worried, just held my hand and walked the entire thing!


This is a picture Mark took with his cell phone once we got down the first major flight of stairs, looking down.

And -this- is looking back up the way we'd just come down.

One of the biggest excitements for the kids was the prospect of possibly seeing bats.  We didn't, but they looked for them the entire way (:

They had everyone stop infront of this for group photos.  We opted out, as there were 10 of us.  Fortunately, the small gift shop at the end had postcards (:

The kids -loved- seeing the underground waterfalls.  They had some pretty colored lights in and under them as well.  And they frequently played operatic classical music as we were walking along.

At the shoe (if you looked straight up, the ceiling looked exactly like the bottom of a man's shoe), they turned out all the electricity.  It was pitch black.  Unlike most of the cave, that was around 54 degrees, this room was 10 degrees warmer.  When the original explorer got here, and tossing pebbles over the side, never heard them hit bottom, he thought he was in hell.  The reason they never hit bottom?  The cave floor was absolutely covered in guano.  Fortunately, miners harvested the guano a century ago, so now, us walking tour folk wouldn't have to worry about stepping in it (;

When we got to the end, it lucked out perfectly that all 10 of us were on the same section of the tilted train.  When it started moving, my nephew laughed and laughed!  He said, very excitedly, "I'm gonna have to tell my Daddy about this!  I got to ride a -train- for the first time!"  And I was very proud of all of us.  We did it!  We did the walking tour with no mishaps and a lot of fun (:

It reminds me of (and proves) a motivational quote a friend of mine shared on facebook the other day:

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most,
because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you. ”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Visiting the Crack House

We went to Ripley's Believe it or Not! in Branson, Missouri.



We'd previously been to the one in St. Augustine in 2007.  So it was really cool to realize that they don't all have exactly the same things in them!

But you're probably wondering why this post is called, "Visiting the Crack House."  That's what the youngest nephew called the place.

And now you know why.
 Apparently, 3 of the -worst- earthquakes in the United States actually happened in Missouri!

The fun began immediate once we entered the building (:

Mark and Uncle Kennard tried out the fortune teller machine and were looking at their palms (:
My oldest was excited to put a penny down the black hole and try out 'the car of the future!'



One of the kids favorite parts was the extraordinary human exhibits.


My niece, standing next to the tallest man.

My nephew posing with the largest man.



My youngest's hand, compared to 'the hand that could hold a dozen eggs!'



And my nephew comparing his shoe to the shoe of the largest man.

One of the most fascinating things to me was the cobweb painting.


The reason it's so fascinating is two fold:  1.  This is Mark's cousin's Aunt.  And 2.  Until a year ago, we had one of her cobweb paintings of a barn in our dining room.  It's since gone back to the cousin (:

The blurry image of the cardinal I tried to take while pressing the button to light it up.

A picture taken by someone else off the internet that's clearer than the cardinal I took.
Mark's favorite part was finding a hat in the gift shop that fits and looks good (:  And both of my boys enjoyed getting 'mood' necklaces.  I think my favorite part was seeing the camel bone carving and realizing it's detailed on -both- sides.








Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

The last show that we went to was the Kirby VanBurch Magic Show.  My oldest chose it.  We were surprised that we'd gotten not only tickets, but backstage passes to see the cats of the show.

The illusions were absolutely astonishing!  He has a lot of new twists on old tricks and there are so many times you're thinking, "Oh, yeah.  I've got that figured out!"....and then you -really- don't.

Example?  Okay, so the pretty girls come dancing out around a cage, 'looky here!  the cage it empty!'.  We all know that as those girls put sides up on the cage, somebody is going to be disappearing.  What we -don't- expect is that instead of an empty cage when they disappear, it's got a giant tiger or leopard in their place!

My absolute favorite part of the entire show though, was watching my boys watch it.

My 5 year old was on the edge of his seat the -entire- time, spontaneously applauding all on his own, with whispered gasps of 'Amazing!', 'Incredible!' and 'How did he DO that?!?' throughout the entire show.  My oldest's favorite part was getting the blue light sabers to help with the finale.  For both of my little boys, the entire show was absolute -magic-.

Mark and his Dad were talking about the show after we got back, and they believe they figured out how he did ALL of those tricks.

Magic (;

It wasn't until the finale that I realized that I've seen some of his performance before, on television.  And that's only because I very much remember watching him make a full helicopter appear out of no where.

After the show, we got to go back stage and see the cats.  I know they're wild animals, but I sure did want to pet the beautiful kitties!  With the exception of the two white tigers who were sleeping, I felt like all the other kitties looked right at me.  It sure made me miss my own little tiger at home (:

Real People Don't Have Super Powers, Right, Mom?

So on our drive home from Branson, we're using my computer to let the boys watch movies and they're watching, "Sky High".


It's one of my boys' favorite shows.  As you can probably assume, it's about training super heroes.  So about 15 minutes into the movie, my youngest pipes up from the back, "Real people don't have super powers, right, Mom?"

And I immediate thought of the first show we watched on our Branson vacation.  We went to see the Shanghai Circus


We got the tickets through the previously mentioned travel agency presentation.  We had great seats in the 8th row, center.

These young acrobats are simply -amazing-!

They're not just holding those-- they're spinning and juggling them as well.

Spinning plates, climbing on top of each other, flips, and full splits.  And only a single plate dropped.

They leapt through a variety of impossible ring combinations!

There are no words for the flexibility, strength and coordination this requires.
And so, when I answered my little boy's query, I told him that when a person has developed the ability to do something better than -anyone- else, to do something incredible, amazing and unbelievable-- they might just as well have super powers.