Archive | July, 2011

I grabbed Rachel.

30 Jul

Remember the cool grab-bag special game that my sister started? Well, I grabbed. This is what I got:

I think that's my mom's handwriting on that cake....

Who is that smooshy-gooshy adorable blob of baby? Well, friends, that is our long lost sister, Rachel. I intend to answer 2 questions in this post:  #1. Is she really lost? and #2. Is she really our sister?

First I will deal with question #2 (I’m almost always backwards…) by answering some other questions. Is Rachel biologically part of our family? No. Was she raised by our parents? No. Did she live under our roof? No. I know, I know. It’s sounding less and less like we can claim her sister-ship. Bear with me. She DOES have a sisterly title. We call her our “schwester”. No, she’s not German, either. She’s a child of the Sandhills, just as us. (There’s a connection, right?) We just coined that term while traversing Germanic countries with her. Look below. That’s us in Austria. They speak German there. Seriously.

10 points to the person who can name the movie we are portraying in this scene. GO.

We grew up with Rachel. No, not in the same house, but we LOVE that girl (and she puts up with us rather politely). We’ve vacationed with her, played with her, babysat her, taught her things (I think…), commiserated with her, hugged her, joked with her, dried her tears (at least we tried), advised her (not advisable), cheered for her, and watched her turn into someone really really awesome. Which takes me directly to question #2.

Rachel’s been lost for awhile. First that darling decided to up and leave the Midwest for seemingly greener (ivy green) pastures on the East coast. Stupid Harvard. After that whole thing was done she eeked a bit closer to us (and much closer to my sister and her schwester) by attending law school at Notre Dame.

We celebrated her Juris Doctorate with Touchdown Jesus.

At this point our dear Rachel was still lost. So lost that she wandered again to the East coast to take some giant test about Virginia’s bars. She liked what she had learned so much that she (and her two kitties) settled in for awhile. I thought we’d never again find her amongst all the culture and clamor of the DC area.

Here’s where it gets exciting. Really really exciting. I FOUND HER!!!!!!!! WHERE!??!?? Sitting unassumingly in the back pew of our beloved church this morning. (Can you think of a better place?) She’s back, friends. Here to stay? Well, we sure hope so.

Social Networking by the Books

29 Jul

Stacy and I got the most touching e-mail yesterday.  Here, let me read part of it to you:

Did I tell you how I felt taking the book back to the library? I didn’t really want to give it up. I wanted to know more about their lives. I also am afraid that another book won’t be as good a friend as this one. Like giving up a comfortable chair or pair of shoes, I’m afraid a new book won’t be as comfortable.

Isn’t that so sweet?  My sister and I have felt this way hundreds of times about a whole slew of characters, and this new reader captured it so beautifully.

The big shock is that this new reader is our mother.  Bet you didn’t know she wasn’t a reader.  She hides it well.  Somehow she manages to be funny, bright, articulate, and knowledgeable without the aid of fiction.  I can’t imagine what she’ll be like now that we seem to have her reading habit well on its way to addiction.

So you’re probably wondering how a nonreader managed to rear two bibliophiles.  Although I can’t remember ever seeing my Mom curled up with a novel of her own she never hesitated to read to us.  Some of my best childhood memories (and I have a lot) are of evenings sprawled across the bed with Mom and Stacy laughing at Ramona Quimby until our sides ached.

Reading was about closeness and family time, laughing together and making new friends bound by ink, but released by our imaginations and conversations.  Reading was socializing in both the real and virtual worlds.  To this day my sister and I still approach books in this same way.

Here’s where you can help us.  Mom’s new friends are the lovely people of Guernsey Island.  Have you met them?  If not, you should introduce yourself to the main character, Juliet, and the two of you should ferry over and make yourselves at home.  Then you should lend us your expertise.  Mom’s a bit leery about meeting new people, so can you introduce her to some that you’ve loved?  Who are the best friends you’ve made in books?

We look forward to your suggestions and can’t wait to put books on hold – the original “friend request.”

My life would be easier if . . .

28 Jul

. . . Peter knew his head extended above his eyes.

. . . Simeon didn’t drink my coffee.  Or Jerry’s.

. . . Abers looked less cute when he admitted to washing my cell phone, locking Jerry out of the house, stabbing his baby brother in the eye with an action figures’ sword, spraying room freshener in our bedroom, and tying knots in my necklaces.   All in the past 24 hours.

. . . Mo Willems wrote a new book every day.

. . . marbles had never been invented.

. . . the Bible were in alphabetical order.

. . . my sister lived next door.

. . . Thomas had never heard either the Grand Rapids Lip Dub or Weird Al.

. . . all seven of the people in this house wore exactly the same socks.

Welcome to our extremely humble abode.

. . . our boys had never learned to use scissors and tape.

. . . our boys had never shown an interest in Interior Decorating.

. . . if I could blog in the shower.  Don’t worry, that technology seems a ways off.  Although, maybe that’s what Abe was working on with my phone.

Help me, Daddy. You’re my only hope!

25 Jul

This morning while playing a game of “Hut” (don’t ask, all I know is that it has something to do with living inside the jogging stroller and monitoring with the exchange of fair-trade toys) Thomas’ Light Saber broke.

According to him it “stopped clicking.”  He asked me to look at it, but I just don’t understand this early Rebellion Era technology.  Maybe it’s actually the 1970’s technology that’s standing in my way.  In any case, I sent him to the expert.  Jerry.

And in an what can only be called the Ultimate Acheivement of Geeky Mandom this was the result:

Duct Tape meet Star Wars.  Star Wars, Duct Tape.  All parties seem pleased with the new arrangement.  The force was certainly strong enough with the magic fix-all to overcome the weapon’s malfunctions.  I think there is a bright future for these two.  Live long and . . . wait, that’s not right.

Too bad it was the blue one.  It could have been Red, Green . . .

So They Think They Can Dance

22 Jul

Something SO exciting is happening in my backyard right now. I can barely suppress my pride. “What is it?” you ask? Well, my boys, my beautiful, wonderful, crazy boys are PRETENDING THEY’RE CONTESTANTS ON “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be still, my reality t.v. loving heart. Be still, my dance loving heart. Be still, my hip-hop, NappyTabs, Lil C loving heart!!!!!!!!!

I thank my dear friend, Anne, for my family’s new obsession with this show. Thank you, Anne. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Get on Hulu NOW. Watch it NOW (and get my sister to, too). You will not be disappointed (neither will she). The dancing is amazing. The choreography is even more amazing. The judges are forthright, yet kind and helpful. It’s downright awesome.

Now look at my kids doing a routine that could rival Christopher Scott choreography at its best:

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Humiliation In Every Bag

21 Jul

I brought two boxes of old photos home from Nebraska, from which I have decided to begin a new Blog Series called:

Grab Bag Special

Here’s how we play:  I will reach into one of the boxes and pull out a random photo.  I will scan the photo and upload it to the blog.  I will then apologize for our unfortunate hair, clothing and/or facial expressions and explain the context of the embarrassment.  You will then laugh at our dorkiness and give thanks that you refrained from all mortifying behavior in previous decades.

Let’s begin, shall we?

I suppose the hair is a dead give-away to the time period here.  Do you remember how much of the late 80’s and early 90’s were wasted attempting to acquire that look?  As you can see, Stacy and I do.  That’s probably why we were so tired, we had to wake up an hour earlier than everyone else to sculpt those Bang Bulbs.

But look at little Rachel.  Isnt’ she adorable?

This was the summer of 1990 and we were on vacation in New Mexico and West Texas.  At our stop in Carlsbad Caverns I decided to become a professional spelunker.  A decision based solely on my fear of tornadoes.  It was either that or move to Alaska.

We also took a day trip to a little town in Mexico where I bought what I considered to be the COOLEST black leather jacket in the whole world.  Complete with fringe.  I hope to never find a picture of that one on a Grab Bag Special day.

Do you know what confuses me most about this picture?  Mom.  Or maybe that’s Rachel’s mom Georgia.  Either way I want to know:  Is she asleep, too? Or just leaning over so Dad in the front seat can take the picture?  And, if that’s Mom, where’s Georgia?  And if it’s Georgia, where’s Mom?

You see, I know that Dad and Rachel’s dad were in the front seat because that was the Unspoken Rule of the Car.  Men in front.  Women in back.  It was also the Unspoken Rule of the Holiday Table.  Men at the Living Room Table.  Women at the Kitchen Table.  I remember once when our cousin tried to buck the system.  Scandalous.  But I think overall she was the one who suffered.  The rest of us womenfolk didn’t have to endure the conversation about corn yields and swine infestations.

I suppose that wraps up our First Edition of Grab Bag Special.  Thank you joining me on this trip down a steamy, dreamy, mesquite-lined memory lane.

Lessons from Angry Birds

19 Jul

This is a confession. I might be guilty of overplaying Angry Birds. Might. I might have been congratulated by the game on over 30 hours played. That might have been over a month ago. I might not have yet stopped playing. I’m afraid that I might even have Angry Birds induced carpel-tunnel. I accept this. I own this. So I’ve decided to use it to teach my oldest a lesson in tenacity. Good idea, right? Lemons, lemonade, that whole thing…

How? First, some background. For those of you who have never stepped into Angry Bird land I will explain the game. One takes a bird (an angry one) and slingshots it at pigs (green ones) in retaliation for some attack that the pigs have launched against the birds’ eggs. I think. To be honest, I’ve never really locked into the story line. Anywho, in order to defeat these verdant porkers one must destroy whatever housing, scaffolding, or protection normally offered to swine such as these. The birds sacrifice themselves in this retaliatory act. How selfless. As all of the pigs in a given level are exterminated one is rewarded a score and stars based upon their completeness of destruction. 1,2, or 3 stars are available. Obviously 3 is the best. And this is where the lesson begins:

 As I stated before, I play a lot. I’ve “beaten” the game. BUT, not with 3 star scores. I’ve just skated through, accepted the bare minimum in effort, let mediocrity reign. That’s what I’m supposed to do, right? Once again I will resist the urge to say anything that might offend, but suffice it to say I will not be buying myself a trophy just to reward completion of a task. (As I was asked to do to celebrate my son’s 2 month t-ball stint! Imagine…)  Owen’s been watching my progress like a hawk (an angry one). See, I’ve gone back to the beginning of the game and am replaying every level in search of 3 stars. I’m doing this for my son. Do you see? See the lesson he’s getting from this? It’s all about stick-to-it-iveness, self improvement, hard work, tenacity, you know.

It’s not at all about how much I love to knock things down and blow things up…..

They’re Related

16 Jul

Remember this gem?

Here’s another:

What genetic code so strongly connects our babies to our Dad? Wait. Don’t answer that.

Love you, Dad.

Vegan Turducken

14 Jul

One of my very favorite blogs is Yammie’s Noshery.  You should really go read it, but not right now, because I promise you, if you start reading you will not come back here.  Especially if you are hungry.  Her food is delightful and her writing is indulgent.  Yesterday, I felt a little like Yammie because . . .

I invented the ultimate fruit.

I know what you’re saying, “inventing a fruit seems like a job for God.”  You’re right, in fact I’m pretty sure He already created this gem.  Before the fall this juicy wonder was probably growing twelve months out of the year around the Garden of Eden.  You see, I imagine cherries had no pits in Paradise, because that would have been, well, the pits.  Instead, I think they had blueberries.

That’s right.  When Eve bit into a sweet cherry she didn’t crack her tooth, or need to produce an unladylike seed spew.  Instead those perfect pearly whites sank right through the yummy cherry flesh, into a blueberry and then exited through more cherry.  Perfectly, perfect.

Wanna see how I recreated this fruity flavor bomb?  Here’s a picture:

And here’s the recipe:


1 cherry (I prefer the Golden Sweet because I don’t pretreat my children’s clothing)
1 blueberry

Pit cherry.  Lift the flap of the cherry’s exit wound and insert blueberry.  Fold flap back over fruit.  Eat.  Repeat.

Okay, now go drool over Yammie.

Weird, two.

11 Jul

Stacy had a most excellent post about weird things people say and believe.   Some brilliant facebook friends suggested some of their favorites:

“Blackberry Vanilla is my favorite flavor” – when speaking of candles and other things of smelly nature.  Last time I got lotion in my mouth I was not pleased.
“It’s always the last place you look.” – Well, I’d hope so, it would be pretty silly to keep looking after you found it.
“It is what it is.” – because if it weren’t it’d not be what it isn’t, or something like that . . .

But beyond, “Oh!  You have Twins!  A boy and a girl.  Are they identical?”* I was kind of coming up short with ideas of my own.

Then Mom reported in the comments of the blog that she and Dad had seen a billboard in Minnesota for “Daniel’s Body Shop with 24 Hour Toe Service”.  That got me thinking about some of the weird things that I’ve seen around.  Like my sister, I’ll try to protect the weird parties’ identities so as not to step on any tows.

“Cheero’s Sports and Sushi Grill” – (pointing my finger at the new restaurant down the street every time I drive by)
‘Sushi’ and ‘Grill’ are two words that do not belong side by side.  And this does not even begin to touch the weirdness of the name “Cheero’s.”  I’m pretty sure the place used to be “Hero’s” and before that, “Champ’s.”  My only question is where did they get the extra ‘e’, or did I miss a dining establishment in there somewhere?  It’s a lot like the Clarion Hotel where we used to stay in Omaha that oddly became the “Clarino”  and then “Carol Inn” under new managements.

“A Better Place to Live” – (I’ll try to be discreet here as I point my finger to a town slightly “East” of Grand Rapids)
This is really what it says on the sign outside their city building.  Don’t get me wrong, I love this well manicured burg.  Their high taxes provide us lowly GR residents with some fabulous services, and I suppose it’s good that they’re owning up to their “we’re better than everyone else” reputation, but it’s still too vague.  Better than what?  The garbage dump.  Oh wait, that brings me to the next weird entry:

Exclusive Garbage and Recycling” – (pointing my finger to the picture from the 4th of July Parade in previously sited city.)
I think it’s weird that these people even have trash.  But take note Excessively Gorgeous  Residents, if you have Eggs, Granola or Radicchio that aren’t locally grown and organic, don’t put them out for this blue truck.  I’d probably also steer clear of Equate brand, other Generics and Ramen noodles.  Maybe you should stick to throwing away Escargot, Guccis and Rolexes.

Also, isn’t it weird that there is a garbage truck in a parade?  I did not allow my children to pick up the candy.

“Jesus Sets the Captives Free” – (a billboard on I-35 somewhere in Oklahoma. )
Okay, it’s not the weirdest thing to see as you trek up the highway, except the sign continues with these words: “Joe Bob’s Bail Bonds.”  This is the most extreme case of WWJD I’ve ever seen.

As before, please feel free to comment with your own weirdness, or better yet, the weirdness of others.  Knowing we’re surrounded by weirdness makes us feel more normal.

Or weird.

Or normal.

*We really have had this question.  Three times.  The most memorable was a couple who had been playing with the babies for at least 20 minutes when the husband asked.  Before I had a chance to swallow my guffaw, avoid eye contact with my sister, and come up with a non-condescending answer his wife replied, “No, honey, they don’t look anything alike.”