Category Archives: family fun

Well, obviously.

BratzBasher and Merkin are hosting a panel at this year’s Anime St Louis. They will present a short version of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai. It’s a traditional storytelling activity from Japan. You gather a group together, light 100 lanterns (or candles), and tell scary stories. Each time you finish a story, you extinguish one light. At the end of 100 stories, you’re left in complete darkness. If that’s peaked your interest, there’s a pretty informative post by Zack Davisson here.

BratzBasher was telling me about one of the stories she’s collected.

“There’s this blind man, and he’s walking down the road on a dark night — not that he’d know that.”

I just had to laugh when she interrupted herself with that statement of the obvious.


BB: (trying to tell me a story or something I don’t remember)

Foo4: I’m too tired. I can’t comprehend complicated sentences right now.

BB: I like frogs.

Foo4: What?

BB: I figured that was uncomplicated enough for you to understand.

Foo4: We weren’t even talking about frogs.


“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”*

This weekend, our family continued a 13-year-old tradition of volunteering at Shakespeare Festival St Louis in Forest Park. It’s a lot of fun, and the plays are amazing. This year, they are performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Merkin admitted that it’s not his favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, but they really did a great job. I laughed so hard, I could scarcely breathe. Here’s a shot of the stage before the performance:

STL Shakespeare Festival 2016

And I found these photos on the internet:

Puck and Oberon

I wondered about all the lamps, but then BratzBasher pointed out that they looked a bit like toadstools. The trees on stage and around the sides of the platforms are all “re-purposed” trees from Forest Park. There are also several doors set into the wall on three different levels, plus a mini stage set a few rows into the audience.

New this year: decorations were extended throughout Shakespeare’s Glen in the form of notices posted on trees, regarding auditions for entertainment at the royal wedding, and several fairy houses hiding under trees. I’m afraid I don’t have any photos of those, but they were adorable. Mustardseed appears to have opened up a little shop with shelves full of tiny jars of mustard.

Of course, we purchased t-shirts to add to our collection. We haven’t been able to get them every year because they often run out of our sizes by the time we go. I’ve actually picked up a shirt at Goodwill from the year they did both Henry IV and Henry V. It’s not large enough to fit any of us, but I have visions of a Shakespeare Festival t-shirt quilt in our future. I’d love to have shirts from all of the plays we’ve seen. I’m still missing Macbeth and Othello. Actually, I’m also missing Romeo and Juliet, but I don’t really like that play anyway. This year’s design looks pretty much like the poster:

Midsummer Night's Dream 2016

There are a lot of great scenes in this production, including a surprise at the end which I will not spoil. I will, however, tell you that the main fight scene between Hermia and Helena is very well choreographed, and the performance of Pyramus and Thisbe absolutely steals the show — I’m telling you IT IS EPIC. “Come, blade…s, my breast…s imbrue” is now one of my favorite lines. 

If you live in the St Louis area, the play is performed nightly (except Tuesdays) through June 26th. You should not miss it.

*This quote is spoken by Puck in Act III. scene II.

Ever been sucked into the YouTube Abyss?

Whenever BratzBasher catches me watching YouTube videos, she says, “Don’t get sucked in!” It’s usually too late. If she comes back and I’m still at it, she tries to physically remove me from temptation. Sometimes it works. Sometimes I say, “You have to see this!” and she gets sucked in, too.

Yesterday, I discovered “Kid Snippets” by Bored Shorts TV. They record kids acting out scenarios (without a script) and then dub the audio onto a second video recording of adults acting out the parts. It’s dang funny. One of my favorites is the Batman v Superman Trailer. I haven’t seen that particular movie, but perhaps this parody trailer will prove more entertaining.

It occurs to me that these videos are most easily appreciated by parents who have heard/seen their own kids playing pretend — whether making up their own stories or already using well established fandoms. The things kids ad lib can be pretty hysterical, such as in the Kid Snippets version of the famous Star Wars Cantina scene when Obi Wan and Luke try to place an order at the bar and are told there’s only “blue milk”.

If you’re a parent, or someone who can appreciate children’s improv, and have some time to spare — or, better yet, have a buddy that will agree to come pull you out of the abyss if they haven’t heard from you after a certain time period has passed — check out Bored Shorts TV on YouTube. It’s pretty awesome.

What did you get for Christmas?


No, Christmas isn’t about the presents, but they’re a fun part. There’s a great feeling to be found in presenting a loved one with something that makes them smile. I still remember the way BratzBasher’s face lit up when she unwrapped a brand new, pink and white winter coat years ago (back when she still thought pink was cool). She hugged that coat tight and wore it most of the day — even indoors. I remember another Christmas even further back when Mom unwrapped that brand new mixer from Dad. She actually cried. Her old mixer had long ago broken down, and she’d missed it more than we’d realized. (Note to husbands everywhere: normally you should never buy your wife something that plugs in or reinforces a traditional female gender role, but there are exceptions to that rule.)

So do you have a special gift or memory of a gift, given or received? Please share it in the comment section.

Back home

For some reason I have this line going through the middle of my screen (horizontally). Sometimes it’s white, and sometimes it’s black. I guess it depends on the color of the background. Weird. I wonder if it’s permanent. The screen was off the whole time we were gone, though. Huh.

BratzBasher and I are back from sunny CA. We had a good visit, but I’m glad to be home. I do not miss cleaning the cats’ litter box at all. My oldest sister has the next two-week shift with Grandma. I got to spend a couple of days with her before we left. She is a great cook and loves to play games. Grandma was excited for her to visit because she actually knows how to do Grandma’s hair for church.

We flew into STL after midnight and were starving, so Merkin took us to Waffle House. I had a triple dose of hashbrowns with gravy. Apparently there has been some rain here while we were gone (understatement of the year). Actually, Merkin said they didn’t have a single day when it didn’t rain. Maybe Missouri missed me? Nah. It’s just that season.

I came home to a long letter from a dear friend and a present from the woman I helped with the Beauty and the Beast costumes. She gave me a program from the play (which has my name in it — how ’bout that?) and a hand-stitched plaque that reads, “Live your best life”. It’s pretty cool.

I didn’t sleep at all on the flights home, so I actually slept in till after 1:00 this afternoon. I’m fully rested now, though. I made sure to unpack and shower before falling into bed last night, so I’m feeling refreshed and don’t have a full suitcase staring at me.

BB told me the only thing she didn’t like about her stay in CA is the bathroom attached to her room. It had the only toilet with a built-in bidet, which was activated by a lever on the right-hand side of the seat. She said she kept accidentally hitting it whenever she shifted position on the seat. She found it rather aggravating. She did not appreciate my laughter in the slightest, but I know she would have been laughing if it had happened to me instead.

There’s really not all that much to say. It’s Thursday, so we’ll probably go to the library at some point. We also missed our movie day due to travel and preparations for travel, so we’ll probably squeeze in a movie, too. We borrowed my dad’s copy of Das Boot, and BB’s looking forward to watching it in German with English subtitles. Have I mentioned she takes German classes at her high school?

I should get off my lazy butt and go do something productive now — and by that I mean chores. *shudder*

Funny things in California

BratzBasher and I are in very sunny California, staying with Grandma while my parents are in Europe for a couple of months.  I’m only doing a two-week shift, though.  My oldest sister is relieving me next week.  We’ll visit for a couple of days before she sends me home.

Meanwhile, I’ve learned Grandma’s schedule and all the work that taking care of the folks’ home entails.  Gosh their house is a lot of work.  I still need to go out and pick fruit in the backyard.  There are a gazillion apricots.  I’ve been given a couple of numbers of people who’d be willing to come pick them, but nobody has taken me up on the offer so far.  The only one of us that really enjoys them is Grandma.  My stepmom loves them — especially when they’re made into jam, but the freezer in the garage has a ton of frozen apricots and apricot jam.  I think she ought to consider giving that away, too.  At least clean out her supply before the next crop comes in.

The thing I really don’t like, though, is cleaning up after the cats.  I have to do the litter box today.  Don’t need the reminder of why I’m glad Michael’s allergic to the creatures, but it can’t be avoided.  Speaking of the cats, one of them brought a present into the house yesterday morning.  You’ll never guess what it was, so I’ll tell you.  It was a dead bat.  Gee, how thoughtful of them.  I disposed of it (without touching it, of course), but BratzBasher wouldn’t acknowledge either cat for the rest of the day.  She loves bats, and this one was particularly cute — despite being dead.  I pointed out that it was extremely unlikely that either cat actually contributed to the demise of the bat, but she didn’t care.

The cat’s only access point to the backyard is located in the master bedroom.  I’ve been instructed to leave the door slightly ajar so that they can come and go as they please.  There’s also a cat flap in the garage door so that they can get to the food, water, and litter box.  Digger, the younger cat, has shut the door to the master bedroom a couple of times.  He has to do it from the inside.  He’s locked Pirate out once, and locked the both of them in overnight.  I now check that door on a regular basis to make sure it’s still open.

As for Grandma, she has a rigid schedule, beginning with an 8 am walk up and down the street.  She has her schedule all typed up on a piece of paper, telling her what pills to take when and what snacks she likes to eat when — not to mention her two TV shows (Let’s Make a Deal and The Price is Right) and 8 pm games with whoever’s in the house.  Last night, we played Bendominoes.  When she’s not snacking or watching TV, she does her word search puzzles and roams the house killing flies.  There’s a chicken farm at the end of the street, and there are tons of flies in the area.  Some of them inevitably end up in the house.  Grandma’s armed with her flyswatter 24/7.  We often hear her in the bathroom, swatting flies and singing hymns to herself.  It’s kind of funny.

I cook two dinners every day because Grandma eats hers at 3:00, and BB and I prefer to wait until a more reasonable hour.  I’ve cooked more this past week and a half than I have in the past two months, I think.  Figured out how to make homemade hamburgers and fries last night.  BB didn’t keel over from food poisoning, so it’s all good.  I made up a menu for the week so that I wouldn’t have to figure out what to fix — plus it helps with the grocery shopping.

BB was appalled when she saw the spice cupboard.  The one we have at home is huge and still doesn’t hold all of our options.  I’ve learned that Merkin is a cook with an unusually large repertoire of recipes.  We’ve made do with what there is here.  I think the real annoyance is the cooking utensils.  I’ve been spoiled by Merkin’s collection.  I miss his silicone spatulas and pancake flippers that actually have the entire handle intact.  Both of the ones in this kitchen are broken to stubs.  It’s almost comical.  I think I’ll add a couple of things to the kitchen before I go.  I’m also putting them on the Do Not Call registry.  I’m surprised they aren’t already on it, but they obviously aren’t — they get way too many telemarketing calls — almost as many as the catalogs that come in the mail every day.

Merkin got me a new phone before we left MO.  I’m getting used to it.  It’s a smart phone, but it’s apparently not smart enough to notify me when I have an upcoming appointment.  I’ve programmed it to remind me, but it never does.  Maybe Merkin can figure it out when we get back.

I guess it’s lunchtime now.  I should feed the kid.