Archive | October, 2011

Ding ding ding ding DING! We HAVE a winner!

17 Oct

So, a few weeks ago I posted this. Well, actually, I posted something entitled “Prairie BeLLS are ringing”. It makes more sense than “Prairie BellES…” doesn’t it? Sure. Why would I make such an editorial choice? What would push me to go in and CHANGE my title, thus changing the meaning of the post??!? One would think it was because I had discovered that I had misspelled the name of my beloved alma mater. And sure, that was sort of the case. One may even assume (may) that I received a belittling phone call from my sister during which she explained to me (amidst judgemental giggles) that “bells” and “belles” are not the same thing and that we were, in fact, NOT Prairie Bells. We were Prairie Belles. You know, the girls who on the Prairie did reside. Oh. That made sense. How stupid was I?!?! Quick! Change it! CHANGE IT! Before someone sees this appalling spelling snaffoo! Save yourself the embarrassment post-haste!

So that’s just what I did. Then, later that day, as I was red-facingly explaining my little error to our mom, the waters of my understanding became muddier still. See, Mom was pretty certain that I was initially correct. What? Surely not. Really, Christina has a correctness rate of about 99.823%. We, as a family, rarely give her question. But in this particular case our dear mother felt as if she could find concrete evidence proving one of her daughters fallible indeed. Dig, Mom, dig.

Well, she dug (dig it?), and produced the most beautiful little snippet of vindication I ever did see. May I present to you “District 13 – Prairie B-E-L-L School” yearbook pages for 1984-85. CHECK THESE OUT!!!!!

See? That's me in the blonde pigtails. Christina has the perm. Our Aunt Sandy gave her that perm. In her kitchen. That's Mrs. Hall. She was my first favorite teacher. She brought animal hides for show-and-tell one day. I was particularly fond of the muskrat hide.

See the Halloween picture? We are the Lion and the Flower. Apparently there was sale on large cardboard discs that year. The track meet picture? Staged. Can you believe it? And the Christmas play? Christina ALWAYS got to be Mary. Me? A shepherd. What? NOT fair.

Say Cheese! Then put it back in the fridge.

15 Oct

Today was Church Photo Directory Picture Day.   For those of you who’ve never been part of such an event, you can think of it as School Picture Day plus grown-ups and minus the free combs.

It’s been a few *cough, almost nine, cough* years since our last Photo Directory.  Our family has changed a bit since then.  For instance here’s our picture from the winter of 2003:

It’s a missing children photograph.  And get this – it’s not like we left them with a sitter or accidentally forgot them.  There were simply no children.  None.  Well . . .  see that gleam in Jerry’s eye?

Never mind.

Other notable things are missing from this picture.  For instance, I don’t see a single gray hair on either of our heads.  And look what I have instead – salon applied highlights.  Highlights!!!  Strategically placed by an actual professional!!!  I probably also had a Starbucks that morning.  Life was pretty luxurious back then.

And here’s what we looked like today:

Okay, you’re right.  There’s something missing here, too.  Besides our bodies, that is.  Thomas.  I didn’t realize his shirt had already vanished from the layout until I upload the picture.  It’s waaaaaay to late to rectify that omission, so instead, please imagine a blue oxford standing at Jerry’s right elbow.  I assure you it was there when I laid out the clothes last night and he was wearing it today.  In the pictures.  We remembered him.  Surely.

While you’re busy fantasy photoshopping my picture, could you please erase the recycling bin overflowing with milk cartons, the old fishing hat (which gladly was not worn today), the odd sock, and the corner of my breakfast bowl?  Thank you.  I appreciate your cleanliness.

Now that you’ve done such a good job virtually tidying up, wanna come over to the house?  While you’re here I’d be happy to serve you some coffee while my Nice ‘N’ Easy takes effect.

I’m conditioned to read pretty books.

14 Oct

Let me introduce to you a book that I chose to read based solely on its cover. See, in my husband’s office sat a box of discarded high school literature (a gold mine!). I had recently finished my book. (The Star Garden by Nancy Turner. Christina or I will write to you of her whole Sara Agnes Prine series someday. They’re divine.) So, I needed something to read. The bold, uncomplicated cover caught my eye. It was elegant in its simplicity (much like Penn State’s football uniforms), so that’s where it started.

I’m not going to pretend that I hadn’t heard of Brave New World before. I had. Well, at least I’d heard allusions to it and I was excited to be “in on it”. Boy, having absolutely NO inkling of this classic’s story line was a bit unsettling. I should have been prepared. It kind of whapped me on my head with social satire. Heavy stuff for a Thursday afternoon. I guess I don’t know what I expected. A story about a planet of warrior mimes perhaps? Anyway, if you’ve read it, you can imagine my, well, surprise, I guess. I won’t review it for you or even give you a summary. (Google it, please.) That’s not to say that I don’t have opinions about the story. I’ve got loads of ’em. Oodles. That Huxley was some thinker, he was. But, as I am not one to incite controversy on the pages of this blog, I won’t get into it. I really wish I was part of a book club that automatically followed my literary whims, finished all reading on my schedule, and was willing to hang out in my toy and laundry-riddled living room while I served water and generic gold fish crackers. In that setting I would get all SORTS of controversial on your mugs.

Let’s get back to it, shall we? Okay, so the book refers to the conditioning of humans on a rather large, startling, and well-thought-out scale. So, I’ve really been honed in to conditioning ever since. Exciting, huh? I know. I’ve been thinking about all the ways that AJ and are conditioning our wee tribe. What beliefs and activities will they see as “natural”? I’ll give you the list:

  1. Pop A capella is important. Really important. This art form must be studied, enjoyed, used, studied some more, and shared with the general public. One must listen to every tune on the air waves for its relevance and possible use in the Pop A capella genre.
  2. Hip Hop dancing is amazing. Watching hip hop on YouTube is essential. The LXD is a household name for everyone.

And that’s about it.

Now that you’ve learned absolutely nothing about Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (and a tish too much about our household) you should go out and read it. Then you should put on some sweatpants, come over and we’ll talk. (But not about the book. I’m totally over the book. Let’s talk about The Sing Off.)

This one is caught by a fan from Grand Rapids.

13 Oct

Things I (We) Love:  Tiger’s Baseball (Pink just didn’t seem right this time.)

The ‘we’ here belongs to my husband and children, as does the love.  You see, what I really love is my husband and children, and they love the Tigers, therefore I love the Tigers.  It’s a classic case of if A=B and B=C then A=C.

They have a combined 65 years worth of lifetime Tiger love.  My husband has seen them through three World Serieses (is there such thing as a double plural?), happily sat behind poles at Tiger Stadium, and stood by the team through the 2003 season.  You remember that one – the losingest record in ALC history?  Yeah, that’s true love.

That was also the summer that endeared me to Detroit.  I refuse to say whether I was rooting for them to win or lose.  Gimme a break – if you’re near a record shouldn’t you strive for it?  Even if it’s a losing one?  None the less, because of my husband’s steadfast fanhood they also became “my team.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had teams before.  Even (gasp!) the Texas Rangers.  After all, I did live in Texas for seven years.  The Ballpark in Arlington only proceeded me by four months, I attended countless games, and even directed a choir that sang the National Anthem.  On a sidenote:  if you are ever offered the opportunity to direct a group singing the Star Spangled Banner at a Major League game say something falsely modest like, “Who, me?  Direct the group?  No, no, you should direct them.  Really!  I’ll just stand on the end and sing.”  Why, you ask?  Because when you’re the director all the world sees your backside.  On a Jumbotron.  According to my friends in the stands it adds an extra 800 pounds.

I actually like all the teams in the Final Four this year.  And yes, even with my limited sports knowledge I understand that term belongs to something else.  The only thing that would make it better is the addition of the Minnesota Twins.  And yes, again, I know enough to I understand that it is impossible to have the Tigers, Rangers and Twins in the running for the World Series.  But while we’re at it, we could also throw in the Royals.  They’re nice.  I guess I’m kind of an American League girl.

But I also think the Cardinals and the Brewers are root-worthy teams.  Shoot, the Cardinals are practically the Official Team of the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod, and the Brewers?  Well, they have giant Sausages that run around their bases.  How could you not root for that?  Also, I once took a portion of a Master’s class in Hymnody with the girl who was Stosh the Polish Sausage, although rumors have it that she was once seen dressed as Cinco the Chorizo.  I am not making this up.  She had to drop the class because she was losing too many races.  Okay, I might have made up that last part.

But right now, the Tigers are still in this thing.  They can do it.  And even if they don’t, we’ll still be cheering.  Because although I can’t remember which comes first, the top or bottom of an inning, I’m faithful to my team.  And my husband.


12 Oct



An Open Letter To Rick DeVos

11 Oct

Dear Mr. DeVos,

Recently I heard that you wanted to see Crazy Crap all over the city.  While I realize ArtPrize is now officially over, and that our home lies slightly outside of the downtown boundaries I would like you to consider making it another satellite site in 2012.  The work showing in our gallery seems to fit your criterion to a T.

Our artists-in-residence have been busy filling their portfolios and our home with a variety of pieces.  Here’s a little sample of their pieces and work statements.

Work Statement:  Knowing the trendy relevance of found objects and urban space this work combined chalk the artists finally found in the messy garge with the utilitarian walking stones.  The chalk covered shoe speaks to the way art moves through our world.

Work Statement:  The title of this line drawing is Octopuses Is Sword Fighting.  The grammatical error is intended to remind you of the primitive nature of the drawing.  His influences are weaponry, Imaginext Sea-Serpents, and ancient South American tribal artists.

Work Statement:  Inspired by this work at the Grand Rapids Public Museum the artist set out to prove that he did not need the aid of power tools to doodle.  It had nothing to do with the fact that the Mother Artist disallows the use of drills when the Father Artist is not home.

[Picture of a honeycrisp apple minus large chunks and speared through with a butterknife]
Work Statement:  This fresh, yet somewhat violent entry missed it’s photographic opportunity due to the Starving Artist Effect.  Also, it is important to remember that if I were to take a picture of every ArtPrize entry I would only be able to spend 9 seconds with each child a day.

Work Statement:  It’s an airplane crash.  That’s all, folks.  Nothing more to see here.

Work Statement:  The use of peel and stick bingo stickers casting shadows communicates the dangers of wasting your life away gambling in the darkness of a bingo hall.  Either that or the 4-yr-old artist was just excited to be allowed the opportunity to put stickers on something other than scrap paper.  And the shadows were cool.

My husband also put a cup of water on the table and called it ArtPrize.  Oh wait, someone already entered that in the competition.

So, Mr. DeVos, is that Crazy and Crappy enough for you?

Yours artfully,

Where My Past Meets My Present and Changes Blogs

10 Oct

Thanks to the generous flour mill lending of my fellow other-blogger Jeannette, and Super Walmart’s affordable bag of wheat berries I set out on a whole new journey last week – grinding my own flour.

For those of you who worry that this might be the very last straw – ha!  ha!  Get it?  “Straw!” – in my journey towards being a conservative-crunchy-granola-homeschooling-weirdo, fear not.  I either entered into that territory a long time ago, or I’m no where near it.  I can’t really tell.  But crunchy granola is super-duper yummy.

The tie-dyed shirt might be incriminating evidence.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what flour grinding has to do with my past, or reading classic novels.  Hold on just a second.  I’ll get there.  Just be patient.  I have to help you slowly navigate through my mind, which is a bit of a dangerous journey.

As we tore open the bag of wheat and reached into the little berries I was immediately transported back to the quonset.  You remember the quonset, right?  It was in the Rural Dictionary which you were supposed to commit to memory, so I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The quonset was where we stored pig feed.  Do you know what pigs eat?  Do you?  Have you ever really thought about it?  The answer is not ham.  Or bacon.  You’re confused.  In books pigs eat slop.  And to be sure, we did not own a garbage disposal and my family always called the one in my Gramma’s house “the electric pig,” but that is hardly the sole sustenance of the porcine species.

No, they eat grain.  I guess.  I never actually gave a lot of thought to what pig feed was until I tore open that bag of wheat and little particles floated up my nose and into my memory bank.  That wheat smelled exactly like pig feed.

I know, you’re thinking that I probably found it all very unappetizing and had to abandon my plans to become a anti-establishment, hippie, tree-hugging, unschooler who lives in a commune. Well, fear not.  I am wholly dedicated to yummy pizza crust.  Because pig feed smells good.

Again, I think you are confused.  It’s the pigs that don’t smell good.  And definitely what they turn the feed into reeks the hairs right off your nostrils.  But the pre-digested food?  That’s a smell Yankee could put in wax and burn.

The sniffing is genetic.

And it tastes good, too.  Or at least that’s what Dad always said when he tried to shock us by chewing on a pinch of the Baby Pig Food.  We learned later that the secret ingredient in that rich, black formula was molasses.  Plus, it was an excellent source of iron.

You made it this far into my scary mind journey, are you ready to go a little further and find out how this all connects to classic literature?  Well, then you’ll have to follow me, over to my other blog . . .

Are you coming?

Growl of the Beloved

8 Oct

See those cuddly bears? Those are our Oldests (when they were Youngests). I remember this evening well. My bear had been washed clean in Holy Baptism earlier that day. He was 6 days old. Christina’s bear joined us to help celebrate (as all good bear cousins do). This Mama Bear and her grizzly husband were T-I-R-E-D, and therefore, well, bearish. We had holed up in our cave for the night (or so we thought) when our den-guests invented a photo-op. (This bear metaphor is getting exhausting. Do you mind if I quit? Thanks.) Anyway, they invaded our room, and made us come downstairs for family pictures. I got all swept up in the crazy that is our family and amidst a LOT of chortling we changed our newborns into matching bear outfits.

It was this evening, in a storm perfect for spousal discovery, that I learned my husband cannot bear an interrupted bedtime OR matching cutesy outfits.

That’s, Mrs. Bossypants, thank you very much.

7 Oct

In the past week or two I have been heard making the following foolish quotes,

Tina Fey and I have had, like, totally the same lives.


Tina Fey and I are kindred spirits.


Tina Fey and I are practically the same person.


Actually, I’m Christina.  It’s okay, people get us confused all the time.

and, most foolishly,

You should definitely read Tina Fey’s book, “Bossypants.”

It’s when this final sentence escapes my lips that I realize I have doomed myself.  Now, practically on the advice of Tina Fey herself, these people are going to go out, read the book, and come to one of the following conclusions:

  1. I am completely delusional and not at all like Tina Fey, or
  2. I am completely delusional and exactly like Tina Fey.

Either way, it’s a no win.

So, before you read the book, and you should, please review this quick list of similarities and differences between Ms. Fey and myself:

We both bought our children Imaginext pirate ships and sea monsters.

Working Mothers
Use of Potty Words
The Afforadbility of Red Lobster

I sure hope she wasn’t making up that part about buying her daughter a pirate ship.

Unlike its cover or reader, this book is completely adorable.

Hunk of Love

6 Oct

  Thing I Love: Lindt 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Chocolate

It’s true. As cliche´or played out or stereotypical or mundane as it may be, I love chocolate. Chocolate. The good stuff (just like Grammar, Beer & Comedy). I don’t want a 50 cent grocery store check out lane candy bar. (Although those fed me happily for many a Sunday drive. I’ll tell you about that sometime.) I want something from the actual candy aisle. Specifically? Lindt 90% Cocoa. 90%? Isn’t that a bit extreme on the whole antioxidant side of things? What can I say? I hate free radicals. And I adore that hunk of chocolate.

Ah. My love.

I love the crack it makes when I snap off a morsel. I love that the heat of my skin causes trace amounts to linger on my digits. I love love love love the smoky richness that invades my mouth when I pair it with a sip of good strong coffee (which falls in that same ol’ grammar, beer, comedy, chocolate category). I love that it comes as close to tasting like nature as chocolate can. (Or so I pretend. I’ve never licked a cacao bean.) And I love that the rest of my household finds it repugnant.