Archive | May, 2011

This is my brain on books.

28 May

I love reading. I do it a lot. Well-read? No, I don’t think so. Not yet, at least. Maybe in 20, 30, 40 years. I think it takes a TON of reading to fall into that category because face it, there is a TON of literature out there. So I strive to be well-read, because I really love that adjective. Wouldn’t it be neat to be described as such? Ask me in 20, 30, 4o years…

My sister and her clever friends have a literature blog. They are slogging their way through countless classics in an attempt to achieve optimal brain growth. Their first? Don Quixote. Their posts are entertaining and enlightening and make even the laziest reader want to open that wordy tome. Today I decided to do just that. Except I have opted to peek into the abridged version of Cervantes’ classic. Okay, I haven’t gotten very far. I read the introduction written by the work’s abridger (I don’t think that’s a word). In it he talks a bit about Cervantes. Interesting guy, that. Did you know his father was a traveling surgeon? In 1547? TRAVELING SURGEON IN 1547????!??!???!!! Oh, my. What sort of visions invade your mind’s eye when you think of your local traveling surgeon in the 15oos? I picture a pick-axe and a wooden bucket.

So I read the abridged 1st chapter (I don’t actually know whether or not it had been hacked by the afore mentioned abridger. I’m just going to assume that everything I’m reading is abbreviated so as not to get too proud of myself for reading the thing.) Anyway, what struck me was the present day accessibility of the text. I’m also currently reading the Lutheran Book Of Concord with a group of ladies and was surprised by the same thing there.  These words, written 400+ years ago, are still completely relatable. At this point I refuse to get philosophical about society etc. At least in written word. As my sister used to say when we were in recess wars during our elementary years (and I never EVER understood about what she was talking) “I am Switzerland”. Or is it Sweden? Oh, brother. Now, I don’t think it’s fair to put Cervantes and Luther in the same group. They’re a generation apart and a world apart. Still, read some old stuff and be blown away by its accessibility. Now. Wait, no – read this first.

And that, folks, is my first literature discussion. Don’t you wish you were in a book club with me? C’mon….

My lil' version of Don Quixote. Isn't it cute?

Lost Sister, Found Memories

27 May

Stacy??  Hello??  Are you out there??  *tap, tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Sorry folks, I can’t seem to find my sister.  My best guess is that she is reaping the rewards of living in a state that allows summer vacation to begin well before the end of May, but I can’t be sure.

The first day of school. We never stood still enough on the last day for a picture.

You fellow Michiganders and other folks living east of the Mississippi might find this really odd, but in the Wild West school gets out in time to let you enjoy life (also to make man-children available for assisting in the fields.)  There’s a lot to love about an agrarian society, but May dismissal is hands down the best perk.

I think the latest last day of school in our elementary years was probably May 15.  I remember that day back in 1985 like it was yesterday.  Mom picked us up at noon with the news that Schwester Rachel had been born.  We rushed to the Brown County Hospital to see her through the little glass window by the nurses station.  Then we meandered over to church for the Dorcas salad luncheon.  When you are a fresh graduate of the 4th grade there is no better way to celebrate than a brand new baby and a vast selection of Jello.  Happy, happy day.

Alright, enough reminiscing, I still haven’t talked to my sister, and she doesn’t seem to be busy posting here, either.  If you see her flitting around town with four happy lads and her jaunty husband please let her know that it’s her turn to post.

Bits and Pieces of My Scattered Brain

25 May

My sister holds that it’s my turn to post since what I did yesterday was really just a link to her own brilliance in marrying, giving birth, and maintaining the most stunning family on the planet.  So, I scrapped together a few of the highlights from the last couple days.  Enjoy.  Or don’t.  That’s fine, too.

•My good friend Brandon sent our babies New York Onesies.

I know, just the right amount of snarky, right?
But, Cecilia might be pushing the snark envelope just a bit with her empty threats.

•We let the boys have a Dum-Dum if they eat all the food on their plates.  Go ahead, judge us, we can take it, it makes the quiche disappear, and that’s all we ask.  Last night Thomas picked out one of the “Mystery Flavor” pops and was thrilled when it was a cool whitish one with blue swirls.  He stuck it in his mouth and then announced, “It’s quiche flavored.  It tastes just like quiche only a lot better, I can tell you that.”

•I have this weirdo-shmeirdo eye ulcer thing and my optometrist put me on some steroid drops to get it healed up.  I hope to see a significant improvement in my lash’s batting average.  I’m sorry if you had to read that on facebook and here.  I’m just so stinkin’ proud that I properly used a sports metaphor in a clever way that it seemed worth repeating.  Also, I seem to be following in my father’s punning footsteps.  He replied to my status with “Only if you make “contact” with the “ball”!!!”  Yup, we’ve lived with those kinds of one-liners all our lives.  Don’t pity us, we’ve built up an immunity.

•On the last leg of my run yesterday three little 2nd-graderish girls mocked me.  Horrifying. I’ll spare you the ugly details.  There was lots of laughter, but I assure you, none of it was funny.  At all.  I wanted to yell at them, “Oh yeah?  Come find me when you’re 35 and have birthed five children, you little punks!”  But I didn’t.  I couldn’t breathe.

•I gave Thomas permission to take five pictures of his stuffed animals.   Here’s the amazing thing.  He took exactly five pictures.  No more.  See? 
My heart is bursting with pride.

•I tried to teach our middlest sons to skip yesterday.  Man, if you thought their ball handling skills were something you should just see the “step-hop” process.  We gave up and tried to play hopscotch instead.  I had to go inside and google the instructions.  Really, I should probably look into hiring a P.E. tutor.

Delicious Cheese

24 May

Oh, for goodness sake!  Go look how adorable my sister and her family are.  And what an amazing photographer/friend they have!

Are you back?  Pretty stinkin’ cute, eh?

I’m going to go preen my own jealousy now.  Oh, and also I’m going to use these pictures to prove to my boys that you are indeed supposed to wear a t-shirt under your polo.

This is me being silent.

23 May

I can’t talk today. My voice has all but disappeared. And while the rest of the world is rejoicing, I am super annoyed. There are SO many things I need to say. Usually I would say them all to my sister on the phone, but it’s simply not possible today. So I will ramble on to you as I do to her. It may be one sided, but really, that’s nothing new-for narcissism and I are tight. So many things to say……

Yesterday I bought flowers to plant in all of my pots and had my first introduction to Dahlias. Have you all seen these amazing flowers? It’s like they’re not real. In fact, I think that they are exactly what I would create if someone told me to design an original fabric with fake flowers on it (a dream of mine). Here, I’ll quick go take a picture and show you. Surely you all have gone 32 years without Dahlia exposure, too?

Okay, the picture doesn't do them justice, but you get it, right?

Something exciting happened when I went out to take the picture. I ran right into the screen door. No one was there to see it. Already no one could hear my exclamation. It’s like I don’t exist!

Okay, so often on Mondays Christina and I run down our weekend activities. I’ll let you in on some highlights:

We had family pictures taken by Carissa Martin. She’s awesome. Go to Lincoln and have her shoot you (in the photographic sense, of course). She has officially hired me as a human backdrop. Really. I could not be more excited about this career opportunity. Also, as a setting for our photo shoot we got to hear the worst cover band ever created. Live. Amazing. Oh, and the boys had fun. Fun? Getting your picture taken????? Unheard of. See? What other photographer would give you such unconventional moments?!?  (That was my official shout out.)

Have you noticed that I am rockin’ the colloquialisms today? Yeah, dawg. (I’m so sorry. I will stop.)

Also on Saturday we saw Grandma Great. She’s great. She had her hip replaced on Wednesday and hosted a party for the family on Saturday. She’s that kind of great. The great kind. Look, here she is:

Great, huh? Except the kickin' shades hide her beautifully smile-creased eyes. They're there and they're great.

Okay, let’s see. Where were we? Oh, Sunday. My favorite day. We go to this wonderful church with wonderful people and a wonderful Pastor (and the wonderful Word). You all should come.

We took a trip to Walmart* yesterday. I don’t even want to talk about it. Suffice it to say that SOMEONE in our family peed on the floor of the mart. It was not me. (There. Make your judgements. Make your assumptions. Go.)

Last night AJ and I tried to do one of our very favorite things with little success. (insert pregnant pause) Okay, are you back?      We tried to watch Chuck on Hulu but our internet was being crotchety so it was all fits and starts. I can only assume that it was a riveting episode full of tension filled moments of not knowing whether or not Sarah was going to live. It’s hard to say, really. I liked the new Alexi Volcov who is no longer Volcov but now Hartley. Don’t you guys? Adorable, right? Guys? Ach. This conversation is going nowhere. You obviously don’t watch Chuck. (May I suggest that you do? It’s unoriginal dialogue and questionable acting is somehow shrouded by inconceivable amounts of charisma and charm.)

Have I said enough? Is this pointless diatribe at an end? Should the ramble continue? Do you want to see a cute picture of some of my kids?

They're sleepy.

Thanks for the chat.

Nerd Alert

20 May

When the boys were babies we had a lot more free time on our hands.  I’m sure we didn’t think it was possible to have less, but now we know better.  Anyway, with all that free time we started something called the Birdsong Cousins Book Club.  The idea was that every so often we would buy the boys the same book so they would have in their reading repertoire some of the same literature.  The first book in the club was Owen by Kevin Henkes.  Have you read it?  If not, find yourself the nearest person under the age of 10 and make a date.  You won’t regret it.

It didn’t take long for the bookplates and organization to fall apart, but even though there is no longer any structure for the book club it’s still in full force.  We now frequent the library more than the bookstore, and we don’t make them read the same things.  But they do, and they’re all growing into total geeks readers.  Here’s just a smidge of the proof:

Our boys were in love with Peter’s new sleeper.  “Cool!  Pete’s a Viking!!! Let me hold the Baby Viking, ”  they cried.  My first inclination was to congratulate my dad for putting the boys’ sports priorities in order.  Our cousins who work for the Vikings would be so proud.

And then they continued, “Look, there’s even a picture of Stoik the Vast on his pajamas!”

Stoik.  Leader of the Viking tribe in “How to Train Your Dragon.”  Not a Minnesotan football player.

I know what you’re saying, that could just be a response to watching the movie a couple hundred times, not proof of their nerddom.  Sure, that’s possible, but may I present Exhibit  B.  Simeon built this guy this morning.

Elmo?  Ernie?  Cookie Monster?  Oscar?  Cookscar ElnieMonster?  No.  A Dufflepud from “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”  Yeah, yeah, again with the possible movie tie-ins.

But movies were not the motivator in his chosen behavior before choir yesterday.

or this

At least he has kindred spirits.

All this to say that every once in a while my sister and I might have something to say about books.  This isn’t a book review blog, or a reading list blog, it’s just a blog where Stacy and I talk about things that we talk about.  And we talk about books.  Just ask our kids.

We called the dog Indiana

18 May

Something exciting just happened at our house!!! My archeological genius son made a HUGE discovery in our back yard! (I would assume this treasure is none other than a headstone for the past homeowner’s beloved canine) The excitement has been palpable. Here I’ll show you:

The discovery - post excavation

Crossmending the artifact

Crossmend, complete.

Analysis and Interpretation (although it has been strongly suggested by Owen that we take the artifact to church to find out what Pastor makes of it all. I'm sure he'd appreciate that.)

What Charlie did during this important moment in science history.

A day later and he’s still totally geeked out about it.

note: Archeological process terminology thanks to this place.

I’m sorry you missed it.

18 May

I wrote an AWESOME blog post last night. You’re pumped, aren’t you? Can’t wait? Your breath has been bated? (Did I use that correctly?) Well…..

It’s gone. Completely gone. I can’t even tell you the brilliant premise. Are you as saddened and frustrated by  this as I? I can ONLY imagine.

Here’s how it happened: I went to bed last night and fell into a comatose state with unimaginable immediacy. Then I awoke. That’s when I wrote the blog. In my head. Big mistake. Huge. I have the retention of a generic paper towel apparently. Wait. That analogy was horrible. It held no water at all. (HA!) This is what I assume happened: I must have actually been asleep while I thought I was awake and the brilliance of my blog post was inflated by my unconscious state. Therefore, as a protective agent my brain obviously took over to protect my ego and the masses an apparently lackluster post. Am I still asleep?

True Story Problems

15 May

We’ve noticed that the more children we have, the more everyday math we must navigate.  Problems like if Baby A drinks 6 oz. of milk, falls asleep at 8:00 and sleeps in 3 hour intervals interrupted by 20 minutes of wakefulness; and Baby B drinks 8 oz. but spits up 3 oz. and then falls asleep at 8:30 sleeping in alternating 2 and 4 hour intervals with 15 minute periods of screaming then which parent is likely to reach the Funny Farm first?

They’re not Multiples, they’re Exponentials.

Other problems are more complicated.  For instance:  How many people can you get in a seven passenger van?  Trust me, this is no “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

This spring we have been juggling numbers in order to achieve The Family Bike Ride.  Here’s formula:

4 – 2

carry the 1

4 x around the yard

+ 2 + 1

x 2

= 11 Wheels

+ 2 Relieved Parents

+ 5 Happy Children

+ 1 Lovely Afternoon

Where the Bromegrass Lies Flat

13 May

This is it.

That article I wrote in High School about bromegrass.  Remember, I said I would post it if I my mom found it, and she did.

By the age of ten I had already raised my orphaned brothers and sisters, been married to a much younger man, defended my children against the “Banana Boat Men,” survived numerous tornadoes, fires, floods, and blizzards, and still managed to keep my home neat as a pin. There is nothing like a good game of “house” to build childhood memories. But what is “house” if you don’t have the home? Home is said to be where the heart is, but I don’t know, I happen to think it is where the bromegrass lies the flattest.

To the silage trucks that roared by in their own cloud of dust, it looked like just an irrigation ditch. To the teachers at Prairie Belle school, it was “the boundary”. To the students, it was a home. The irrigation ditch, the outside boundary of our school yard, was covered in bromegrass, bromegrass that formed the house we played in every day.

The rooms were formed where the bromegrass lay flat on the ground and around them the bromegrass stood tall to give us privacy. We had hallways to follow and paths that led us to the places we had designed. Each of us had created his own room, where he was assured privacy and could go to be left alone. Each chose the place that he wanted to be his. When we made our rooms, we chose areas where the grass naturally was low. We wondered many times if others had built homes there before us.

All the bedrooms were off of the main gathering room. Our living room was an area where a hole had been dug long before our time.  The low spot still existed. More importantly, the living room was where we all gathered to talk and share, and where the most memories were made. The living room was the place where we all hid in each others arms during our pretend tornadoes, where we had family meetings if one of the children had been bad, where we went when we were cold and had to escape the chilling wind of the blizzard. It was also the place where we hid to discuss how cranky our teacher was. Our house was in the inside corner of the L-shaped turn in the ditch. There we were protected by the height of ditch walls. Sometimes we went past the protective walls, past the boundary, into the ditch. In the winter we skated across the remaining water. In the fall the ditch held the ocean, and in the spring, the Grand Canyon.

The games we played, the feelings we shared, and the things we did together in that house will be with us forever. We all felt safety there, surrounded by the bromegrass. It kept us warm and out of the wind and allowed us to feel the security we all needed in everyday life. We were reassured by the sound of the brome grass moving in the wind. Somehow it told us the wind and cold were out there but where we were was safe, protected and warm. The sound of the school bell was the cue to return to school life. Some days the bell’s sound was so faint we wondered if it really existed. Other days the bell was an invitation that we looked forward to receiving. We did not hate school or life. We just loved our recess home.

No one goes to school there anymore, the district is disolved. I went back the day before the auction. I still knew where each “room” had been located. I could still hear the wind in the grass and smell the sweet odor of the brome. And through all this time, the bromegrass still lies flat.