Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.

February 11, 2018
by Carrie
Comments Off on kitchen complaints, episode ten

kitchen complaints, episode ten

Sam is not a fan of the Imperial system, but this isn’t really so much a complaint as a cross examination. It was discussed over dinner, though, so work with me here.

Sam: “Mom, how high does a plane fly? Is it close to the tallest building?”

Me: “Planes fly at 39,000 feet, baby.”

Sam: “No, in meters.”

Me: “Hmm, Alexa, how many meters is 39,000 feet?”

Alexa: “39,000 feet is 11,887.2 meters.”

Me: “There you go, buddy. 11,887 meters.”

Sam: “How many tallest buildings in the world is that?”

Me: “Uhh, how tall is the tallest building in the world?”

Sam: “828 meters.”

Me: “Okay. Alexa, what is 11,887 divided by 828?”

Alexa: “11,887 divided by 828 is 14.3562801932.”

Me: “So, to get to the height of a plane, you would need about 14 and a third of the tallest buildings.”

Sam: “A third? So 14 plus three more?”

Me: “No, a third is a piece of a whole. It’s . . okay, you would need 14 of the tallest buildings and one Shin Godzilla.”

Sam: “Okay.”

February 8, 2018
by Carrie
Comments Off on call me maybe

call me maybe

This morning I was teaching the last day of a three-day class when my phone rings.

“Whoops, sorry about that,” I apologize as I silence my ringer.

Thirty seconds later I see my phone flashing silently — it’s the same number, trying again. It’s a local number but I don’t recognize it, so I let it ring through.

Another minute later my phone is silently ringing again. Same number. Now I begin to think . . . what if my mother-in-law and the kids have been in a car accident, and a Good Samaritan has found my number in her phone, and they’re struggling to reach me, to tell me my kids are in an accident, but they’re okay, but you need to get here now. Now!

No. No no no. Take a breath. That’s too far-fetched. But why is this number so insistent?

It rings a fourth time, silently but urgently. I have the full attention of some 20 people, but my mind is racing about that phone call and what could be going on.

A fifth time. Okay, I’ve got to.

“Sorry, guys; this number has called me five times. I’ve got to see what’s up.”

The class waits silently as I answer, “Hello?”

“Is this Mrs Williams, Samuel’s mom?”

“Yes . . .”

“This is an appointment reminder for tomorrow with Dr. Mosis. Please arrive at 1:00 p.m. for your 1:30 p.m. appointment.”

“Okay. Will do.”

Well. Apparently Sam has an appointment with the most insistent doctor’s office in the state of Alabama.

January 18, 2018
by Carrie
Comments Off on kitchen complaints, episode nine

kitchen complaints, episode nine

For dinner tonight we were all sitting down to a lovely spread of pork tenderloin and rice, one of the few dinners the kids will actually eat for the most part. Sam still isn’t a fan of rice since the whole FPIES thing.

As Sam is thoughtfully chewing, it begins: “Mom, did you . . . Mom, do you . . . Mom, do you know of . . . Mom? Mom, do you know that bad word that starts with a ‘ck’ sound?”

Oh, is it going to be one of those conversations?

“It has a ‘ck’ in it?” I ask. “Umm, you mean like the word at the end of Spiderman?”

This is our household’s reference to the ever-adaptable f-word, which Aunt May almost says at the end of Spiderman: Homecoming and Sam absolutely had to know what it was she was about to say, so we told him on the condition that he will not use that word (yet). So far, he has kept to his promise.

“No, I don’t mean the f-word,” he continues, “It starts with a ‘ck.’ ”

Well, only one other word popped into my mind. “Uhh . . . well, does it rhyme with ‘runt’ ?”

While Sam retreated back into his mind to work that one out, Lydia, ever the helpful sister, loudly and proudly solved the puzzle for him.

December 24, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on christmas eve update

christmas eve update

Sam is having an Arthur moment.


Times the cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0! This count is just no fun without Renton.
Times the cat has launched off the tree skirt and irritated the stew out of Mom: 26
How many ornaments the kids have broken: 1
How many ornaments Mom has broken: 2
How many cookies Mom has made: 381. That’s an exact count.
How many years we’ve had our Christmas Tree: 14
How many branches have snapped off the Christmas Tree: 4 🙁

December 13, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on the sum is greater than the equal of its parts

the sum is greater than the equal of its parts

So I have been keeping up with this blog for a long time — since 2003. That’s over 14 years! But outside of one single post I haven’t touched very much on one of my life’s cornerstones: band.

From middle school through high school to college, band was my life. If you couldn’t find me, the first place to look was the band room. Once, I found my 6th Period Health classroom locked, lights out, no note . . . so I went to the band room. I was marked as skipping class and earned my only Saturday school detention. I’m a bit proud of that. Thanks, Coach Wilson.

Most of my friendships today originated in band. Both me and my sister first met our husbands in band. Band was the absolute shiznit . . but after three years of marching band in college I realized I needed to graduate someday, so 2000 was my last year.

And that was it. I had to replace music with horticulture, then came graduation, work, marriage, kids, and oh my god I’m 37.

And then last month a friend of mine (from band! — hi, Meredith!) tagged me in a post on Facebook about a band. A bonafide community band that anyone could join. So me and my little dinky set of bells I snagged for $30 from a local sale made my way up to Hipstertown.

And ohhh, I was so nervous! And so out of practice! And I sucked and hit wrong notes all over the place . . and I loved every second of it. Every sucky note was music to my ears, and I was surrounded by my people: Band Geek people.

After 17 years it all came flooding back: reading the music, memorizing the sticking, counting the long rests, and practicing until you can’t get it wrong. I have missed this, but it’s been so long I didn’t even realize it.

Last weekend we even had a Christmas concert! I was so nervous at first — there were a lot of people! — but as the music started I settled into Music Mode and then it was over much too soon. Despite the cold, I could have played for hours.

We will start up again after the New Year and I’m so excited to see what we will be playing next. My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 will be to memorize all my music before the next concert — then hopefully there will be less sucky notes and more awesomesauce.

November 26, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on the tree + two, 2017

the tree + two, 2017

And now I present to you The Tree, 2017:

Lydia is in charge of the smaller tree and Sam is supposed to be in charge of the smallest tree . . . but he would rather me do it.

Total lights on the tree: 2,880; surprisingly less than last year.

Total number of incandescent lights: 100

Total number of LED lights: 2,780

Times the cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0!

Amount of interest the cat has shown in the tree this year: 0, but he’s fascinated with the tree skirt.

Ornaments Mom has broken: 1

Amount of new lights strung up on the two trees outside: 1,000

Cookies Mom has cooked: 79

August 26, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on parental supervision

parental supervision

During dinner last night Sam slowly chewed on his hot dog while staring into space. I wave my hand in front of him until I catch his attention.

“What’re you thinking about, buddy?” Steven asks.

“Ohh, I’m just trying not to think about a video I saw,” Sam replies.

“Why don’t you want to think about it?”

“It was just the WORST THING EVER. I saw it on YouTube Kids, and I don’t want to think about it because it was the WORST,” he answers.

Steven and I glance at each other across the table. “Uhh, well now I’m a little curious,” muses Steven, “Can you tell us anything about it?”

“But I don’t want to think about it!” Sam protests. “It was absolutely horrible!”

Steven looks as concerned as I’m feeling. Sometimes weird things can sneak through YouTube Kids’ filter. Oh Lord, what has he seen?

“Well buddy, now you’re going to have to tell us, or else we’re going to worry,” I explain.

Sam mulls over that for a second. “Well, okay, but it’s horrible.” He takes a deep breath. “It’s a video about Halloween and there are kids and they eat too much candy and then they THROW UP!!!”

August 23, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on kitchen complaints, episode eight

kitchen complaints, episode eight

In the past year the kids have been more willing to eat the food Steven and I cook for ourselves, but it’s still a 50-50 shot. This evening we went simple with some chicken thighs.

“Hmmm,” Sam mused while poking at his chicken, “You know, I don’t like this chicken very much. I like it just a little bit.”

August 16, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on access denied; an end-user’s lament

access denied; an end-user’s lament

In the Harry Potter books there is a potion called Amortentia. A complicated potion, it smells different to each individual according to what attracts them. Were I to magically be transported to Hogwarts and come upon Amortentia, I always imagine it would smell like Steven after he’s mowed the lawn, old books, and the computer room from elementary school.

Oh, how I loved our weekly visit to the computer room. The lab was decked with an array of Apple IIe systems, external floppy disk drives, and a dot matrix printer. Our goal was to type out our weekly spelling words, and if, IF, we got that finished in time, we could play some Oregon Trail.

As I got older, the computer systems got better — in middle school, there was one with a color screen! — and by high school I became well-versed in Windows 3.1 via my dad’s office. Then things began to fly.

Bam! Windows 95.

Bam! Pentium processors!

Bam! Internet!!

Bam! Broadband connection!!!

And as I soaked in the technology I mused, “Boy, I hope these things have a bit more control over them once I’ve got my own kids to deal with.” There was no such thing as restricted access in 2000.

Now I do have my own kids to deal with. Thankfully the parental controls have come along well and there is not much issue with that . . . it’s other restrictions that make me want to pull my hair out and write a blog post.

Steven and I have been mainly Apple people since circa 2004. “Oh-ho!” I hear you chortle. I hear you, Jason; I know it’s you. “Apple must be giving her fits!” But it’s not Apple; not just them, anyway. Apple gets a lot of things right, but Steven and I are customers of other companies too, believe it or not. So when our Apple Music didn’t play well with our Amazon Echo we got earlier this year — Apple doesn’t like to work on non-Apple things — we switched to Amazon’s Music system. Same music, same price, why not?

And it’s been fine.

But as the kids have gotten older, they want their music, too. That took a while to finagle because their very out-of-date 1st generation iPads did not work with Amazon Music, so updates were in order. Part of Lydia’s birthday was receiving Steven’s older phone, so now she has her music. We updated Sam’s seven-year-old iPad with Steven’s five-year-old iPad — the kids were using it all the time anyway.

Here is where it moves from hardware to software territory. Amazon, like a lot of content providers, have ways to let you share your media with others in your family, but Amazon has an odd way of going about it. Sometimes it is like their family-centric account connections were created by an alien race who has observed humans for about six weeks. You want to share your Prime account with other members of your household? Great! You can build your Amazon Household with two Adult accounts and up to four Kid accounts; share all the things!


You can’t share Amazon Music with a Kids account. Why? Beats me! Maybe they’re afraid of bad words . . . even though they can run across the same thing or worse through Amazon Prime Video. But nevertheless . . . no Amazon Music with Kids accounts.

The best solution for this is to make your kids their very own bonafide Amazon Account that you can then share your Amazon Music subscription. Just teach the kids to avoid anything marked [Explicit].


In order to do this you also have to share your credit card access and purchaseability with that account. But that’s kinda okay, because there’s other ways to lock that down, at least on the iPad. And so we did.

And that worked for a while, but remember the upgrade from the seven-year-old iPad to the five-year-old one? Well, to put it in Sam’s words, “Man, this thing lags like crazy!”

Well, Apple’s biggest drawback is their prices. They are a proud people. So we figured if we would have to upgrade the five-year-old iPad, let’s get an Amazon Fire instead; it’s the economical thing to do. And it’s Amazon! With Amazon Music! And Amazon Prime Video! It should all work together seamlessly because it’s all the same thing!

But wait!

The Amazon Fire comes in, I get it all set up and I’m immediately dealt with some frustrating choices. If we go with the Kid route and set up the device as a Kid’s device, there is no Amazon Music. So that choice is out. Sam has gotta have his music.

Okay, next choice: set up the device under Sam’s Amazon account and lock it all down, parental-wise. There are still a couple of frustrating options. First, doing this means there is no access to Amazon Prime because Sam’s account is an Adult account (in order to access Amazon Music) and our Amazon Household already has two Amazon Adults (me and Steven). Secondly, if we use the Parental Controls to prevent Sam buying all the Godzilla movies at twenty bucks a pop, we lose the Alexa system. This isn’t the absolute end of the world, but I was pleased with the idea of Sam having his very own Alexa that could answer all his complicated math questions.

So here is what I am looking at:

Kid Account = Prime Videos but not Amazon Music

Adult Account = Amazon Music but no Prime Videos

Parental Controls = no Alexa

This is all with the same Amazon services! I’m not even trying to bring in Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix or Disney into it!

But the Kindle Fire kinda smells like that elementary school computer room, so at least I have that going for me.

August 6, 2017
by Carrie
Comments Off on chemistry in action

chemistry in action

Yesterday I found some neat little cordial glasses at a consignment shop. After I brought them home, I had to create some space for them. This led to a lot of cabinet shuffling and dragging out a bunch of kitchen knick knacks. As I was rearranging, Steven joined in the fun by fiddling with the overhead kitchen light which has been hanging funny. This has apparently been bugging him for a while. We yak shaved like this for about an hour.

At one point I came across a little silver trivet thing of my grandmother’s that was completely black with tarnish. Lord only knows where my grandmother got it from — there is a large engraved ‘N’ across the top of it. Knowing her, she probably found it at a flea market.

I dragged out our silver polish to see what I could do with it, but the polish did not make a huge dent in all that blackness. Steven, who was now finished with the light, did some googling and found a recipe that promised to remove all the tarnish without any scrubbing, so we set that up.

The mixture involved some stuff that made sense like vinegar, baking soda, and hot water, but it also included stuff that was a bit weird, namely aluminum foil. It was very insistent on the aluminum. So we set it up, plopped in the piece of silver, and then suddenly our kitchen smelled like a big nasty fart. It was pretty rank, but by golly it sure did remove the silver tarnish!

We speculated among ourselves about what chemical process actually happened. The fart smell made me think sulfur was involved, but I wasn’t sure where it came from.

This morning I actually found what the chemical process was, and I was right about the sulfur! The tarnish on silver is formed from silver and sulfur, though I’m not sure where the sulfur originally comes from. The air? Anyway, the silver sulfide reacts with the aluminum to create silver and aluminum sulfide, which creates the nasty fart smell.

So essentially we created silver-plated farts in the comfort of our own kitchen.