Do You Like Scary Movies?

This is one of those subjects I usually avoid because it seems like so many other people talk about it, but here we go. I enjoy a good horror movie. I think it's like vigorous physical exercise—tough while it's happening, but there's a rush of endorphins when it's over and you survived.

I often discuss with people the concept of "scary" horror movies vs. movies that are just gross or trying to shock people. And a friend and I were considering whether PG-13 horrors might actually be more frightening because they have to rely more on atmosphere and implied violence rather than blood and gore. So we started making a list of "scary" PG-13 movies vs. R-rated movies. And that led to us listing movies that are great and fun, but not necessarily really scary. Anyway, this is far from an exhaustive list, but it's what we were thinking.

The Ring—Still probably the scariest movie to me at the time I saw it. The original Japanese version didn't real…

Marathon Post

About a week and a half ago was the Idaho Falls Marathon. I was pretty excited for my first one in four years, and the culmination of the most intense training I've done. As the race approached, I looked more at the information I would need for that day, like the details for getting my bib and more specifics on the course. 
I was generally familiar with the course, but there were a couple strange things about it. Most marathons (okay, the two I've done before) are big loops that are pretty simple to follow. This one started way up in the hills east of town and came into the city, as one would expect. But there were a few strange twists and turns once we got there. Here's one such area.
I knew this was a fairly small race, so I thought it might be good to familiarize myself with the course in detail so I knew where to turn if there weren't a lot of supporters. For the last few days beforehand I spent time on Google Maps going over the city portion of the course in stree…

A Little Summer Ketchup

I've started a few posts lately but haven't felt strongly about publishing any of them. So here are a few random updates.

James turned three a couple weeks ago, and my parents came for a visit along with my sister and her family. It was nice. The kid's stinkin' cute.

Sam's been struggling a little bit with teenager-hood. We finally took him to a counselor, and they diagnosed with with some anxiety and OCD tendencies. So we're working to find the best way to treat it so school isn't so overwhelming for him. I think a lot of it has to do with his troubles sleeping, but we'll see how things go.

We're going to visit Utah in a couple weeks. My sister recently moved back from DC with her husband and little girl. They're staying with my parents while they look for a place, so we'll go down and spend some time doing family-type things. Last time we took Cinder, but he was just a kitten. Now he's kind of a giant cat, and still growing, so they ma…

A Vacation... from My Problems

Okay, that's a reference to What about Bob? Which is a movie that probably downplays the seriousness of mental illness, but nevertheless is a very fun watch.
Anyway, last week Samuel went to a young men's camp for three days. He's never been away from us more than just overnight before, and even then only a couple other times. So while he was gone, Allison was the oldest child, at 9 years old. It was interesting to sort of go back in time a few years so the problems you're dealing with as parents are different. Samuel deals with teenager issues now, so things that seem much more serious, particularly given his responsible personality. Allison, on the other hand, is still at the stage where it's about sharing her toys and eating dinner before dessert. So it was nice to have a bit of a break from the all-consuming existential crises of a teenager.
That being said, we were happy to have him back.


Well, this was a first.

Last week Allison got her ears pierced. This is a rite of passage for a lot of girls, and it's even more interesting in our family. My mother doesn't have pierced ears, and neither does Katie. So it's kind of a first. But she had been bugging us about it for weeks, because one of her friends just got her ears pierced.

Katie and I had discussed this before. I guess the reason she had never done it herself was more because of the pain rather than an objection to the practice itself. I've always admired that she had never done it (I'm honestly not a big fan of the ridiculous things women have to do for appearance, including makeup and even shaved legs), and I wasn't sure how Allison would fare. She is rather sensitive to pain. We can't even brush her hair without her screaming about it most of the time. So that she was willing to undergo this said something about her determination.

Anyway, she reported that it barely hurt, and so far sh…

Kitty School

For a while I've been wondering if it's possible to train cats. I mean, I knew it was possible, because they're in movies and whatnot. But I've never trained an animal and didn't know how to go about it. Then in my regular Internet wanderings I came across a book a couple years ago called The Trainable Cat. Then I finally picked up a copy shortly after we got Cinder. Training them younger is supposed to be better, so I thought I'd see what the book has to say.

It took me a few months to get around to it, and I still haven't finished the book all the way, but here's what I've learned in general. You're supposed to reward them for doing the thing you want, not negatively reinforce things you don't want them to do. The reward also has to immediately follow the action, because they associate whatever their mind is focused on at the moment with what is happening. You're also supposed to train them in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Tha…

Category 5 Cyclone

It was Clara's birthday this week.

The last year has been interesting for her, and she's definitely had her ups and downs. Clara's favorite thing to do is to draw, and it's been really fun to see her unique artistic style develop.

In reverse chronological order, for some reason.

When not drawing, she has a very mischievous personality, particularly where Cinder the kitten is concerned. One moment she's covering him with a blanket as he naps, and the next she's yelling in his ear or pushing him off the chair. But overall we have seen an improvement in her behavior over the last 12 months. And sometimes she is actually more obedient and helpful than James or Allison, so that's interesting.

Clara's relationship with Allison is a constant source of frustration. Allison wants to play with all her toys by herself, and Clara will take one of them and run, making Allison mad. No matter how we try, we can't convince her to share with Clara, and invite her to…