Category Archives: Blog Posts

How to Survive if You Find Yourself in a Horror Movie

Zombie Beard
Photo credit: scottnj via / CC BY

There are those who pride themselves on being prepared for worst-case scenarios.  They create hideouts, put away supplies, and plan for the end of the world.  However, if the worst were to come, and you found yourself in a situation that seemingly jumped off the silver screen straight into your backyard, what would you do?

Here are some survival tips gleamed from decades of horror films, that surprisingly may also have real life applications for when things are a little less frantic:

Stay with the group.  There are times for independence, and then there are times when common sense dictates that you should not go into the woods alone.  Ditto for the abandoned house, the abandoned factory, or even the bathhouse on the other side of the clearing.  Anyone who has ever seen a slasher film from Friday the 13th to Scream knows what happens if you fail to follow this most important protocol.

Never let them hear you scream.  Standing out from the crowd may sometimes be appropriate, but if zombies or killer clowns are after you, it may well be the last thing you ever do.  Whenever you find yourself in deadly danger, the last thing you want to do is raise your voice so the monsters know exactly where you are.

 Silhouette of man holding crowbar
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Don’t lay down your arms.  Never let go of weapons, artifacts, or wooden stakes until you are one hundred percent sure the monster is irretrievably dead.  Don’t allow your only defense to be turned against you.

Don’t lose your focus.    Don’t allow anything to get you sidetracked.  Be constantly aware of your surroundings, because distractions can get you killed.  Never get cocky or let down your guard until the danger is passed.

Don’t invite strangers into your house.  Perhaps the vampires or ghouls can only enter with your permission.  In this day and age, it’s just common sense to take precautions about who you allow into your space.  If you someone unexpected comes to your door, check their id, and see if they have fangs or are carrying weapons, before you decide to allow them entry.

Listen to the professionals.  If a scholar/professor/expert tells you not to touch something-listen.  Don’t get into a situation that is over your head.  Don’t read from the Book of the Dead or open Pandora’s Box, and for goodness sake, don’t open the mummy’s sarcophagus.

Appearances can be deceiving.  Don’t underestimate anyone.  Don’t make assumptions without facts.  That harmless looking stranger /young innocent/damsel in distress could be more than you think.  Remember, whether good or bad, big things can hide in small packages and plain sight.

Plan ahead.  Make preparations, do research, check your facts, and if possible, have backup.  The worst situations often look different in the light of day, so a second perspective can often be useful, especially for baddies allergic to sunlight.  Don’t allow yourself to be eaten simply because of a lack of organization. Take time to consider before you act, and make sure you are making the best choice.

Hopefully none of this audience will ever be impacted by such cataclysmic events, but should the worst occur, and the end of the world is near, remember that movies have educated us to deal with these situations, and just do what the survivors do.

Till next time,







How to Draw Them In: Maintaining a Close Relationship with Grown Children


Photo credit: Luke Stearns via / CC BY-NC-ND

We all know how important it is to spend quality time as a family.  Time spent bonding with children is vital to helping foster a close relationship between parents, children, and siblings. No one can deny there are emotional benefits to all members involved, but how do we keep those bonds in place as children grow up and start their own independent lives?

As much as parents might dread it, kids do have to grow up; they will go to college, move out of the house, and begin lives of their own that are separate from those of the family unit.  Thought they hopefully will continue to visit or call, eventually they will have another home and that will be the center of their focus.  This is where the original family unit either must evolve, or wither.  Parents must be willing to embark on a new type of relationship with their adult children.

Accept their independence.

Parents cannot stop their children from growing up; they must choose to accept their independence or risk permanent damage to their relationships.  The rules must change; for one the parents will no longer be in charge of all the decisions.  Adult children need to feel respected as that-adults.  Adult children will want and need to be able to make their own choices.

Parents must learn to allow adult children to make those choices, as well as some inevitable mistakes.  The time for protecting them from the whole world is over, and though it is hard to let go, the “kids” will appreciate that the decisions they make are truly their own. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t accept advice, as long as the parents offer it without trying to control every situation.    If the parents are lucky, the kids may even realize the adults are wiser than they believed during their teenage years.

Give major decisions a voice.

Whenever a decision must be made for the family as a whole, involve adult children in the decision making process.  Whether the issue is a shared family vacation or choosing healthcare options for an elderly member who is incapacitated, the younger adults will appreciate having their opinions heard.  Perhaps they will contribute an idea or argument that older members of the family haven’t considered.  Sharing concerns, and decisions, as a family of adults, will allow those relationships to continue and be strengthened.

Cultivate shared interests.

One of the easiest ways to stay close to adult children is to spend time pleasurable time together.  The activities the family used for “quality time” when children were young may or may not still be appropriate once everyone is considered an adult, so find activities and passions that can be shared now.  Do parents and adult children share a mutual love for certain activities like hiking, working puzzles, cooking or reading?  Find things that everyone can enjoy, either for the entire group or smaller sub-groups, and make time to do those things together.

If regular meetings are difficult to schedule, at least find time to talk about hobbies or joint interests, be it over dinner once a week or a skype call.   If adult children live too far away to visit regularly make the most of the time you have.  Also, consider rotating who hosts the group for family dinners, get-togethers, and weekend trips.

Remember, maintaining a deep family relationship requires work, but is always worthwhile.


Be Actively Positive


There is still much that is good in this world; it may not be readily apparent at times, in fact it may be downright obscure or completely hidden.  Truthfully there is much to be pessimistic about today-one simply needs to check out the news to see stories about recent natural disasters, not to mention ongoing terrorism, war, politics and the economy.

Most of us have probably met someone who seems to radiate negativity with every breath they take; who drains all the joy from a room just by entering. Being forced to spend much time around such an unhappy person can have adverse effects on the emotional and even physical health of their audience.

What we desperately need to retain our outlook, our optimism, and our sanity, is to seek out that which is positive around us.  By looking around for this hidden gold we can find reasons to be happy even through the most depressing or worrisome events:

  • While life will never be perfect or free from stress or strife, we can be thankful for all the simple things in our life; if we wake up in the morning in a secure home, with a comfortable bed, and have food available to eat, we have found something positive in our day.
  • Each day we get to spend with loved ones, be they family by blood or choice, or close friends, we are experiencing a positive event.
  • Whenever we are privileged to see the power of nature, such as the amazing eclipse many of us recently witnessed, that is another positive.
  • Whenever we get the chance to witness or participate in kindness shared with others, such as volunteering or charity for those in need, it is a positive thing.
  • Whenever we or someone we care for is found to be healthy or recovering from a devastating injury or illness, it is a very big positive in our day.
  • Every day that we can in some way enhance, enrich, or create joy in the lives of those around us, is definitely a positive accomplishment.

All of these positive things together may not always balance out the negative that we face, but they do make a difference; they give us reason to hold on and hope for the future.  Sometimes all we can do is hold on to the positives, so that all the negativity and pain and hatred do not overwhelm us.  By actively seeking out the positives in our day, we can refresh the spirit of optimism, both in ourselves and in those around us.

Here’s to filling our lives with positive thoughts, and turning those into positive actions.


Alien Invaders, Mutant Sharks and Ghost Encounters: Why We Can’t Get Enough

It’s late at night or an unexpected day off.  We have a million things we should be doing, or we should simply be catching up on sleep.  Instead, we’re flipping through the channel guide and tuning in to something we can’t actually believe, and not sure we want to admit, to wanting to watch.  It has aliens, ghosts, sharks, zombies, or maybe just a natural disaster escalated by toxic waste.

Even as we settle in, we’re perhaps questioning ourselves why are we watching this?  Surely we could find a better use of our time, or even a just a better show.  The answer is simple: this special brand of brain candy fills needs we can’t easily do so elsewhere.

Day 90 - Couch Potato
EntPhoto credit: DaGoaty via / CC BYer a caption

The need to recapture our lost childhood.

When we tune in to a mindless melodrama or a mockumentary about the paranormal or science fiction we are simply getting reacquainted with the people who once loved sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories, or doing the same with a best friend under the sheets with a flashlight.  We are remembering that sense of wonder we once possessed, that innocence we had, when the world was a magical place that we couldn’t wait to explore and experience.

That part of us still lives on, but is sometimes starved for attention by the needs and responsibilities of adult life.  We need to take time for the part of our minds and hearts that still dreams, and optimistically hopes to find a lost castle or pirate ship hidden in the woods behind our homes.  We crave to cultivate that sense of fantasy, and if a favorite television show or movie or book can help that along, we can make time for it.

The need for sheer escapism.

Along with the need to recapture our youth sometimes we just need to lose ourselves in another world, or another life.  We can imagine ourselves exploring alien landscapes, facing a radiation-fed super predator in the Amazon, or finding the key to a haunted house that hides a treasure.

We can indulge in sheer fantasy for a time to alleviate stress, boredom, or simply imagine ourselves as different people, in a world outside the mundane.  Experts tell us that fantasizing can actually be good for us ;that as long as we don’t try to substitute fantasy for reality in our actual lives, that “escaping” can help us to be more creative, more productive, and happier people.

The need of vicarious thrills.

It’s okay for fictional characters to experience any kind of horror as long as we can watch from the security of our couches or beds.  We know in our hearts what we’re seeing is not real, but we get an adrenalin kick just the same from allowing ourselves to live in the moment.  There is a special kind of thrill that comes from watching something bad happen to someone on the screen, and knowing in the back of our minds that though we may jump when the villain pops out and scream our heads off, that he can’t really touch us.

We watch as hapless victims are turned into test subjects or eaten alive by zombies or possessed by ghosts and are glad it’s not us.  We imagine ourselves confronted by the terrors and dangers that the heroes of the small screen face in such shows as Paranormal Encounters, or Sharknado 1-5, and suddenly our own lives don’t seem bad at all.  We feel more alive, more secure, and more content with our own lives knowing that we’ve witnessed these experiences but will not have to live them.

So the next time you find yourself with a little down time, don’t feel guilty for indulging in your favorite show.  Remember, watching may actually be good for you.



Dynamics of a “Super” Family

It’s hard to turn around right now without seeing another ad for the next ultimate battle between bands of costumed superheroes and their legions of foes.  With several “ultimate battle” superhero movies playing currently or coming to theatres in the near future, it makes me wonder how such a group would actually function.  Would they fall into stereotypes for an actual family?  I decided to examine one such group in terms of family dynamics.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Cast: Three Things to Know About Karen Gillan’s Nebula

The team known as The Guardians of the Galaxy has appeared in two separate movies detailing their origins and exploits, and is slotted to be a part of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity Wars.  If these heroes were an actual family, we would have to call them dysfunctional.  They are drawn together out of necessity and mutual goals, but spend a great deal of time, especially in the first feature, arguing amongst themselves.  Only towards the end of the first film do they begin to resemble a team in function, much less a family.  Only as the first movie ends and the second begins, do we begin to see their clearly defined roles in the unit.

The Patriarch

This role is that of leader, not necessarily but sometimes the father-figure, and is certainly not someone who is infallible.  For all the humanity and flaws this character possesses, it is someone that the rest of the team/family can look up to for guidance and moral support.  For this family the role of patriarch is taken on by Peter Quill.

Peter is, by the end of the first Guardians movie, the undisputed leader who is tasked with deciding the direction the entire team will take going forward.  Like a wise leader, he relies on input and support from the rest of his family, but accepts ultimate responsibility for their safety and happiness.

The Matriarch

The female leader of the family may or may not be the mother of a group, but she takes on a role of protection and support, especially for younger family members.  In this family, the only candidate for matriarch is Gamora, who may or may not develop a relationship with the patriarch in her ongoing role.

Gamora from the beginning encourages the others to make the moral choice in destroying the Infinity Stone, and though she has an adversarial relationship with most of the others in the beginning, is drawn to care for each of the others.  She calls Peter on his stubbornness, Rocket on his bad manners, and Drax on his impulsiveness.  She provides the glue that slowly draws the group together.

Rival Siblings

Never in a family will every member always get along with each other.  There will always be one or more, especially siblings, who sometimes make bad decisions and cause conflict amid the group.  In the first movie, Drax impulsively tries to take on an army by himself, nearly resulting in the death of his family.  The issue is resolved though, after a lot of yelling and pointed orders to “not do that again.”

In the second movie, Rocket, in a move rooted in his inner turmoil over his existence (i.e. teen angst), manages to anger the entire rest of the group with his behavior.  In the end though, he realizes he does have a family and joins them in a bid to save themselves as well as the entire universe from the insane Ego.

Crazy Uncle

Every family needs an elder who, though not part of the core family, is integral to the wellbeing of the group.  Yondu is antagonistic towards the Guardians on principal, but despite the fact that he kidnapped the young Peter actually became a father figure to him.  While Peter stands between him and profit, Yondu cannot help but aid the younger main and his fledgling family when they are in danger. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 cast

In the second movie, Yondu turns his back on his associates and organization of the Ravagers to more fully accept his role in the team dynamic of the Guardians.  He allies with them, partially out of selfish interests, but more so to save Peter’s life.

The Baby

The youngest member of the family is inevitably protected, if not outright spoiled, by the rest of the family.  This person is sometimes overlooked by the group when matters turn serious, and may have to fight to make their value known.  The “baby” of this family of course, is Groot.  His limited vocabulary notwithstanding, he is sometimes underestimated by the others for his simple nature.  However, he proves himself multiple times when it matters most, such as when he becomes a shield to save the others in the first movie.Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Baby Groot


In the second movie, he is still growing out of the effects of that incident, but despite his much smaller stature, is hardly incapable.  Despite his small stature and childlike behavior, he proves to be invaluable in getting into places beyond the reach of the rest of his family.

The main role of the family is to care about each other, to protect each other when possible, and to spend time together.  So The Guardians of the Galaxy, while they may not be the ideal family, do prove themselves to be one.

Hope you and yours enjoy the next feature film, and I’ll see you soon.






Take Time to Celebrate!


All across the United States today, people are pausing to remember, and think about, loved ones who are serving or have served in our armed forces.  Very few of us have not been touched in some way by those in service of the country; either by veterans past or present, or perhaps tales of loved ones only known from photos and a flower-bedecked marker in a cemetery.

While it can be hard to remember or miss, there are still causes for celebration today.  Another year of freedom.  Another year of living in a country where many things are possible.  A time to spend with family and friends, a time to overeat, a time to reminisce.

A time to enjoy fireworks.  Perhaps where you live you’ve already seen some this year.  After all, some parts of the country held their shows early to allow for the fact this holiday fell on a Tuesday this year.  But for all of us, fireworks are an excuse to indulge in childlike wonder, a feeling that can be hard to capture when our thoughts turn to turbulent times and painful reminders.  While we honor those who have done their duty, take time to take pleasure in those things around us; after all, the joy we find in life is what makes it worth living and fighting for.

Happy Independence Day to all!


How to Plan a (Successful) Staycation

As warm weather and impending summer holidays are upon us, many of us are looking for a break.  Whether you have one night or an entire week or more at your disposal, it feels good to plan an escape.  That’s when the questions start: do we go away, do we stay home, how do we get there, and how do we pay for it?  If your answer to any of these is to spend your “days off” in the comfort of your own home, then I have some tips for you to make sure that the time is truly the “vacation” you’re looking for.


Family ties
Photo credit: Paladin27 via / CC BY-NC

Plan your holiday.

Whether your plan to “staycation” is made to avoid the stress of travel-traffic, long lines at the airport, hours spent in the car or in airline terminals, and not-always-conducive sleeping arrangements-or to simply to save money, you need to plan this holiday just as carefully as you would any other.  Decide on your goal(s) for vacation-do you want to relax, have fun, spend quality time with the family, etc., and plan activities to meet those needs. Bear in mind each person “accompanying” you on this vacation, and include something everyone will enjoy.  Budget should be a consideration, though it doesn’t have to be extravagant, since you won’t need to include airfare, hotels, or mass mileage in your estimate.

Avoid working on your vacation.

One problem with taking a holiday at home is that you do not leave it behind.  Try to catch up on laundry and go grocery shopping before your vacation begins, unless you enjoy doing these things when you’re on holiday.  If you have unfinished home repair projects or chores that have been put on the back burner, it can be tempting to tackle them since you’re there anyway with free time on your hands.  Wrong!  You’re on vacation.  Evidence of any projects that can’t be finished before the vacation starts should be set aside or hidden away till after your “return,” otherwise you’ll find you won’t truly be taking time off.

Relax, relax, relax.

The beauty of having a vacation at home is you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to.  You can spend the day in your pajamas, stay inside, veg out in front of the TV, or simply do nothing important.  While you’re on vacation, take the opportunity to sleep in, youngsters permitting, or take an afternoon nap in the shade.  Read a book, clear out your DVR, or take a long bath.   Unwind and simply relax, in whatever form appeals to you.  It’s your vacation, so make the most of it.

More family time, this time in the morning at the @weatherford5 household.  Family is key in that house.  #SteveWeatherford #Armagedon #FroKnowsPhoto #IShootRAW #PhotoStory #Nikon #D5 #Canid #Family #face #light #litbyphone @weatherford5 @nikonusa @adobec
Photo credit: jaredpolin via / CC BY-NC-SA

Plan to spend the day away.

A staycation doesn’t have to mean you spend the entire time at home.  Play tourist in your home town and visit all the places you’ve always wanted to see but have never managed.  Drive to a local amusement park, go to a ballgame, walk around downtown and read the historic markers.  Part of a vacation should be taking the time to do the things you never have time for otherwise.  Of course, you can always just try a new restaurant or take time to catch that movie you’ve been dying to see.

Family time out
Photo credit: man’s pic via / CC BY-NC-ND

Whatever you do for your staycation, make it as memorable and as pleasant as any other vacation you’ve ever taken; because after all, that is exactly what it is meant to be.



Keep Yourself (and Dad) Cool This Father’s Day

For many parts of the county June signifies the arrival of consistently warm weather and that annual weekend event honoring fathers.  Summer is just weeks away, but already in the Midwest we are seeing temperatures rise into the nineties, so it’s just as important to prepare for warmer weather as it is when we are expecting ice and snow.  How can we make the best of the of the day (and the season) without risking heatstroke or sunburn?

Involve everyone.

Plan Father’s Day activities to include the kids; let them have quality time with dad.  Let kids help prepare a special breakfast in bed, or simple handmade cards to celebrate.  Give Dad a break from weekend chores and let him indulge in a shared favorite activity with the kids, while you prepare a meal (Bonus: you may get a little peace and quiet for yourself!)

Father's Day 2010...

Photo credit: Јerry via / CC BY


Food is a vital part of any celebration.  Remember it’s Dad’s day, so plan to include his favorites, whether that means firing up the grill or preparing his favorite breakfast or dessert.  My husband has his eye on upgrading our grill this year.  Does anyone know where to get a good deal on a professional quality model?


365/319 Father's Day

Photo credit: California Cow via / CC BY

Take time out to chill in the shade.

If possible avoid spending time outside during the hottest part of the day. If you’re planning to be outside for the entire day or if you’ll be working in the heat, make sure you take a break in the shade to cool off, and drink plenty of fluids.

Keep hydrated.

If your idea of the perfect Father’s Day is a beer by the pool, make sure you limit the amount of alcohol you (or Dad) actually consumes.  Alcohol actually causes dehydration, which can increase the risk for heat exhaustion or heatstroke.  Make sure to keep plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages available for yourself and your guests.


Father's Day Bliss

Photo credit: Olaf via / CC BY-SA


Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Don’t let sunburn spoil the fun.  Whatever type of sunscreen you choose, be it waterproof, spray-on, wipe-on, sports activity or sensitive; make sure you follow the directions.  Also, remember that scalps burn too.  My husband found that out the hard way last year after a long motorcycle ride, so either work sunscreen into hair, especially if it’s thin or fine, or wear a hat.

Seek relief with indoor activities.

If you have small children and/or elderly parents to entertain, they may not be equipped to deal with high temperatures, especially in areas where humidity is common.  It may be best to plan some activities that involve air conditioning.  Movies can be fun for all ages, but this year has been rather hit and miss for quality, so take time to look at reviews and pick something everyone can enjoy.

Above all else, have fun and a Happy Father’s Day to all of you out there.



Who Would You Shield?

What comes to mind when you hear the word “shield?”  A shield can be a company logo, a symbol of authority, a weapon used by medieval warriors and the occasional costumed superhero, or the acronym for their organization.  However, a shield can also be a verb; to shield means to protect, to shelter, to defend against words or weapons, sometimes at personal sacrifice.

4368 Shield

Photo credit: steeljam via / CC BY-NC-ND

In today’s world we are often surrounded by dangers and troubles.  Accidents, disease, and crime are not something we can always guard against.  We try to shield our children from the harsh realities of violence; we would shield those we love from any who seek to harm them; we use a shield, often metaphorically, as a defense against painful words or concepts.

When my children were small, I wanted to shield them from the world, keep them safe and innocent of all the evils that existed.  I never wanted them to be subjected to bullies, or peer pressure, or rejection from potential love interests.  Of course, to keep them from all emotional turmoil would have been not only impossible but a real disservice to them in the long run.  Better that I teach and guide them as they began to step out from behind my shield, than to keep them ignorant and unprepared.


Photo credit: Djuliet via / CC BY-NC-ND

As a mother with two now-grown children I had to learn to allow my children to experience life.  Yes, I guarded them from all harm, but I allowed my shield to be transparent while doing so.  In other words, I explained to them why I protected them and from what or who, so they could see and hopefully understand the dangers they could face when they stepped into the world on their own.  Eventually, I knew, the time would come when I could no longer protect them, but must trust that they were well prepared to protect themselves.

That doesn’t mean my shield isn’t still there, ready to grab at a moment’s notice.  I’ve learned the instinct to protect doesn’t go away when the children move out and start their own lives.  However, that’s not necessary as often now, as they have shields of their own, ready to protect themselves and their loved ones whenever necessary.

Here’s to acknowledging those we will always want to protect,


Dare We Pin Our Hopes on Girl Power?

image courtesy of

My love affair with superheroes began when I was about eight, seeking out the comic book section of the grocery store while my parents stood in line.  I eagerly perused the new issues each week, searching for a good story to accompany the colorful illustrations, and quickly found a number of favorites.  I was disappointed; however, that almost all of the “heroes” were men.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading about Batman and Superman, but it seemed most of the women who wore costumes were sidekicks, cousins, or nieces of the male heroes, who were considered the main attraction.

Where was the role model for young girls?  Only one female “superheroine” stood out to me as being a character in her own right, with her own storylines not dependent on a relationship with a male character.  Who was this independent woman-Wonder Woman of course!  She could fight the bad guys as well as any costumed superhero, with strength, speed, and grace that defied the laws of physics, as well as the limits of ordinary men.  She was beautiful, brilliant, and had her own gadgets, not to mention an invisible plane.  What made her really stand out though, was her kindness, and her resolve to end conflicts without violence whenever possible.


Wonder Woman Poster
image courtesy of

“Wonder Woman” began her career as a comic book character in 1941.  She has graced numerous issues since then, both as a solo character and as a member of the Justice League.  She appeared in numerous cartoons and a live-action television series in the 1970s.  Over the years, her image has graced every sort of merchandise imaginable, including lunch boxes, Barbie dolls, and costumes to fit fans of every age. She has been held up as an icon for feminism, for female independence, for patriotism thanks to her early years fighting Nazis and her colorful costume, and as a role model for impressionable young girls.

Last year, she made her big screen debut in the somewhat disappointing Marvel D.C. epic Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Despite the problems with the last few Marvel D.C. features, including the most recent, Suicide Squad, I’m still holding out hope that the movie version of Wonder Woman, coming to theatres on June 2nd, is worthy of the legacy of the character.  I’m crossing my fingers that Warner Bros. have learned from the issues with their other features: namely, that big budget special effects don’t make up for poorly developed plots and badly underdeveloped characters.

image courtesy of

I’m hoping that the newest incarnation of my favorite childhood superheroine actually lives up to the hype her character deserves.  In an age where superheroes are no longer considered just for kids, don’t we deserve an epic blockbuster about the number one costumed female hero of all time?

Here’s to seeing you in the ticket line.


Whoops!  Sorry, everyone.   Of course, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are products of D.C., not Marvel.  I obviously did not drink my tea before I wrote that.  My apologies for the confusion.