Archive | March, 2012

Acting Our Age

29 Mar

Things I (We) Love:  You

Today is our blogiversary, but it’s really you we’re celebrating.  You see, before you came along we were just two sisters e-mailing back and forth trying to maintain familial closeness over the span of several states.

It was working, but then we decided my sister was so funny that she deserved to be read by others.  Well, that’s what I decided anyhow, I don’t know what Stacy was thinking.  Oh yeah, that’s right, she was too busy giving birth to notice that I roped her into this debacle.

Our present to you this week is excerpts from the e-mail exchange that started it all.  Today you get the first message.

Let me lay the context.  It was March of 2011.  Stacy was substitute teaching and magnificently pregnant.  I was homeschooling Simeon, but the younger two brothers were still in preschool.  The Babies were actually still babies.  I had recently posted a facebook photo album about Dr. Suess’ birthday that was sort of another entrez into blogging, later next week I’ll try to figure out how to post that as part of this ‘looking back’ series.

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To:  Stacy, Mom, Dad
From:  Christina
Subject:  Snippets from the Week

—The boys were teasing each other on the way to school this morning, so I decided I’d better intercede and find out what names they were using.  Turns out they were calling Abe a polytheist.  Poor kid.  Don’t worry, Sim assures me that they all know he’s really a monotheist.
—This week we checked out Rocky and Bullwinkle from the library.  It makes the boys guffaw.  Us too.
—They are also watching Baby Rocket.  He was the King of the Wild Frontier, you know.
—This morning Simeon read the story of Moses and the Israelites to his brothers from the NIV children’s Bible including the part about the Plague of Lobsters.  You remember that one, right?
—Cecilia has a weird smell coming from her right ear.  I think there was a tear (or spit-up) in her ear from lying on her back, crying over you (or, more likely, me.)  Anywho, we now call her Stinky Ear the Pirate Lass.  She doesn’t mind.
—Pete turns his head when he hears his own name.  Either that or he just like it when we read C.S. Lewis.
—We’re nearly finished with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  The suspense is killing them.  We may have to let them stay up late tomorrow night to finish the last three chapters.  I think for the sake of Thomas’ sanity we best not leave Aslan dead for a full 24 hours.
—I checked out Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Twins from the library.  It doesn’t seem to be working yet.  I suppose I should read it.
—I refined some of the rhymes in my Suess Parody.  You can go back and reread it if you’re in to that kind of thing.
—Next week is Spirit Week at school.  Sim noticed that they are having another Pajama Day and has requested the same.  But not Hat Day.  No way, no how.  I don’t really get it, we have a Baby Rocket hat he could wear.
Good night and Good bye.
=CJ=
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I forgot one thing. Nope, two.

23 Mar

The other day when I typed up the list of super-duper-life-changing March events I knew something was missing.  It didn’t hit me until I was listening to NPR today, and they were talking about the Health Care Bill and all that hoopla.  My memory immediately skipped to that warm March day two years ago when I watched President Obama use no less than twenty pens to put his John Hancock on the historical document.

What?  Your’e having a hard time believing that the signing of the Health Care bill was really that important in my life?  Well, you’re mostly right.  The bill itself, well, let’s just say we will not be lauding or debating it here at this blog.  In case you haven’t noticed, that’s not really the kind of ship we run around here.

But it is important to me, because I have vivid memories of sitting in the waiting room at St. Mary’s Hospital watching the live news feed and thinking that it would be an interesting historical memory to share with my future son or daughter.

I was wrong.  But only about the word “or.”

A few minutes later the ultrasound technician showed me this:

and our lives changed forever.

I remember more tiny details about that day than any other.

I remember that when I asked the tech if I could call my husband while she changed the paperwork to reflect twins she said, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop you.”

I remember that the first word out of my beloved Jerry’s mouth was, “Interesting.”

Aha! It's Friday, and this is a book. I did manage to work it in!

I remember that I had to repeat myself several times before either my mom or sister would believe me.

I remember that I went to Blimpie and bought myself a 12-inch sub and could hardly keep myself from announcing to every person in the restaurant that I was having twins.

I remember explaining to the Simeon that we were having twins, just like the ones in the Beverly Cleary book Two Times the Fun, even though there was a set in his Kindergarten class, and others at church he knew.

I remember saying the word “Twins” outloud over and over trying to make it seem real.

I remember showing the ultrasound picture to everyone who would look.

I remember understanding the concept of being so excited I couldn’t sleep for the first time in my life.

And yet somehow I missed March 23 in my list.  I ‘ve been forgetful ever since.

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Five

21 Mar

Today we have a handful of pictures, one for every goofy child of ours:

Peter

His signature dish, “Potatoes and Forks” was preferable to his earlier attempts at raising a tuber, calling out “Ball!” and tossing it at the nearest sibling.

Cecilia

If Curly Girl: The Handbook ever comes out with a new revised edition, Cele will be writing a chapter titled “DIY Styling Products: The Curling and Coloring Properties of Squash Soup.”

Abraham

During school yesterday he made an character-defining decision.  Abe decided to become a “pencil ear.”  I always wanted to pull that off, but I think he has what it takes.

Thomas

When you wear your everyday shoes to make a backyard swamp during recess then you’re left with the ever-stunning dress shoe, slipper sock, swimming truck trio later in the day.

Simeon

The kid loves swimming.  I love the kid.

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March On

19 Mar

When it comes to trips down Memory Dirt Road, the last ten days of March are quite a tourist trap.  It’s mostly filled with stopping spots from the paved portion of my life, though.  Here’s a list of some of what you might see along the next dozen days:

In March of 2001 I made my first ever trip to Michigan when I flew up for an interview at Our Savior Lutheran.  I was blown away by their singing and kindness, and I met the seventh and eighth grade teacher.  We even had lunch together (with the entire Pastor’s family chaperoning) at Steak ‘n’ Shake before his big dinner theater and my flight out of town.  Okay, in all honesty it wasn’t anything close to a date, but we did relive those fries and burgers for several years to follow, because . . .

By this time in 2002 we were engaged.  Shocked?  It was speedy-wonderful.  I recommend it to everyone.  Well, okay, almost everyone.

Two years later my first nephew was born.  Okay, technically I have another nephew who was born first, but since I was three at the time, and didn’t meet him until we were both in our twenties and I married his uncle, his birth didn’t quite pack the same punch.  But Owen’s birth – that was a game-changer.  That made me an aunt, gave Simeon a cousin and Best Buddy, and brought me even closer to my sister than I imagined.

And the end of last March was a whirlwind of events.  First, my dear friends and I began a DIY Master’s Program otherwise known as “the book blog.”  You can find it here, just in case you’ve missed it in the past.  We started by reading Don Quixote. Who does that?  We do.  Now we’re reading Moby-Dick.  Yes, really.  And here’s the weirdest part – it’s not the least bit boring.  Not at all.  It’s an honest-to-goodness hoot.  Try it.

Then, before Sancho could even holler, “Look out for the windmills!” my last nephew was born.  I’m not declaring Henry the Official Last, for I have not that power, but I plan on spoiling him like he is, just in case.

And then, because I thought my sister didn’t have enough to do with a newborn around the house, we started this blog.  Yup, our blogiversary is coming up next week, and that’s actually what got my mind Marching through all these wonderful occurrences.  This blog has been great for those two things, making me demand unreasonable things from my supermom of a sister, and bringing back old memories that make us smile, ask lots of questions, and laugh and laugh.

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By Both of Us

Our Wash and Wear Life

16 Mar

Today is Laundry Day.

Okay, at our house everyday is laundry day.  It’s a way of life for largish families.

To honor that day-in-and-day-out event I’m introducing a new category of posts.  The Laundry List.

We’ve certainly flirted with this type of post before, after all, it was the kind of family updating that got us started in the blogosphere in the first place, but now it will have a permanent press home here.

Since the washer’s always running, this little list of daily happenings could easily interrupt and replace any previously labeled day on our schedule.  You’ll never know when we decide to abandoned assigned topics to bring you a bunch of headed snippets of dirty towels and grass-stained jeans.  But then again, neither will we.

But here’s the first one:

Cereal Killer
Many of my friends don’t feed their children cereal, and with really good reasons.  Have you seen the sugar content on most of the boxes?  I, too, am thinking of joining them in this ban of boxed grain, but for slightly more selfish reasons.  I’m just tired of seeing this scene nine out of the last ten days.

It Probably Needed It
The Twins helped clean the bathroom last weekend.  Cele swept the tub and Pete shampooed the floor.

Padding the Issue
Cecilia woke up with her sock stuffed in the top of her pajamas the other morning.  She now insists on keeping it there.  She’s either a house elf or a late-blooming preteen.

Do Vegans Eat Wookie?
Abraham is scandalized because we told them that there are eggs in cake.  He wants a cake without eggs for his next birthday.  A Star Wars eggless cake.  This will not be the final discussion we have about this.

They don’t know what it means, but then again, maybe I don’t either.
But Wednesday was Pi Day.

Liturgy Packs a Punch
Daylight Savings Time has us moving a bit behind schedule around here.  This morning Sim was ready to start the day before the rest of us, so he said, “I’ll just read while I wait for Matins to hit.”

Springing Ahead to Summer
It’s March.

Nope, I can’t believe it either, Abe.

It’s in the Mail

15 Mar

Thing WE love: Pen-pal-ing Cousins

Years ago, when I was a youngling, I wrote letters. Letters and letters and letters. Seriously, a LOT of letters. You don’t understand – there are book nerds, there are band geeks, there are chess dorks (I think), and then there was me: Snail Mail Dweeb. I’m not even kidding you. I wrote a letter a day. At least. I wrote letters to Christian in Germany, Ohogoho in Nigeria, Michael in Sweden, a boy in California (whose name escapes me) that I was certain would someday be my husband, and my grandparents in Minnesota. Heck, I even wrote letters to my classmates (although some would argue those had been termed “notes”).  But, my very favorite correspondance, the one for by the mail box I did wait, was penned by none other than my cousin, Amy.

Letters from Amy began cool and ended awesome. I felt popular reading them. Is that weird? It was like I had my own cool-kid-club, but it was with my cousin and she lived 2 states away. So maybe that IS weird. It probably is. I don’t know, there was something about those scribbles from afar that opened the door to cool-ness. She talked about cool things like jeans. I talked about cool things like my cats. We were cool. (I KNOW I keep saying “cool”, but there is no other adjective to describe the pubescent entitlement those letters gave me.)

Do you want to know the cooler thing? My boys now have their own cool-kid-club. They have acquired some of the coolest pen-pals ever made. And they’re feeling it, too. Very recently they began their own Snail Mail Trail with the Michigander Cousins. They correspond about such important things as Hero Factory Legos, Swimming Lessons, and Literature. Yes, LITERATURE.

It turns out they’re way cooler than I’ll ever be.

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Come, Mr. Tally Man

14 Mar

While my parents were visiting we decided to utilize the Gramma Green Thumb to get a science project growing.   It is no secret that we need my mother’s expertise if we plan to have even the most meager of gardens, so, the boys, Mom and I set off on a botany field trip.

The excitement upon entering the seed aisles of the local nursery was almost enough to cause spontaneous germination.  The boys were pretty happy to be there, too.  I just drove the van.  The budding gardeners scanned the colorful seed packets, picked their favorites, and then let Gramma Jan help them make final decisions based on what would sprout quickly, and do well in our climate.

Abe was a disappointed to find out bananas didn’t fit the criteria.

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Give it up for Lent!

13 Mar

It’s Lent.  I’m giving up the organ.  No more stops, keys, pedals, and pipes for me.

You’re right, I don’t actually have pipes, and not because of some dramatic Lenten fast.  No, if I did have pipes you couldn’t get me to give them up that easily, just try it.

Seriously, try it.  Give me some pipes, tempt me.  I won’t let go.

No?  No one’s giving me pipes?  Oh well.

That’s okay, because I’m not actually giving up the whole organ, just the accompaniment to most of the liturgy, thereby letting the congregation wing it a cappella.  If you’ve never heard a congregation belt 4-part harmonies you should really stop in some Sunday morning at 8:00.

No one sings like Our Savior Lutheran Church.  This congregation could give the groups on The Sing Off a run for their money, all they need is a little choreography, because I don’t think the stand-kneel-stand-sit variety would probably get very far with Shawn Stockman.

So, despite the fact that the people are singing with all their might, this sans-organ liturgical environment is pretty quiet, reserved, and meditational.

EXCEPT . . .

A couple of weeks ago Jerry stayed home with the sick babies.  But the boys are 8, 6, and 4, so it seemed reasonable to expect them to sit in front of the organ without their father, and arrive unscathed on the other side of the hour and twenty minute Divine Service.  After all, I confidently told my skeptical husband, they would be mostly within arms reach of my locale on the bench, and there are a host of helpful souls around to corral any wondering sheep.

Within the opening bars of the prelude my expectations were shattered as things took a turn toward the wild and wooly.  There was teasing, oversinging, oldest-child scolding, youngest child curling in fetal position, and general disturbance.   It was ugly.

It’s been said that organists have the most complicated job, second only to helicopter pilots.  The good news is that when we mess up no one gets hurt.  Usually.  This particular Sunday, the potential was unfolding to take organist survival statistics in an unfavorable direction.

I quickly shifted the tenor line to my right hand, dropped doubled harmonies, twisted my body like a pretzel over my right shoulder, and gave my patented Swap-Snap-Glare Hush.

The only people who didn’t take notice were my children.

On to defense number two:  pull out all the stops.  Literally.  Okay, I didn’t use all of them, but a little extra volume on the organ goes a long way towards covering irreverent sibling bickering.

No use.

At this point I had no choice but to persevere through the remainder of the opening hymn and then quickly act during Confession and Absolution.  My plan was in place and I steeled myself for the encounter.

At the Invocation I  swept the middle child off his unsuspecting and unstill feet and plopped him onto the bench beside me, with the strict warning to “TOUCH NOTHING.”  The fear of God and mother were both present in church that morning.  And since he seemed to be the linchpin holding the wheel of torture together I thought I had succeeded in derailing their efforts.

I was wrong.

For one cannot underestimate the power of jealousy.  Despite being a seat of shame, the youngest coveted his brother’s spot next to me, and began his spin into a complete meltdown.  Cries of “I want my Mommy” interrupted the pious confessions of the congregation. Then, without warning he became silent, dove underneath the pew, threw down the obstructing kneeler, crawled into the organ area, and before I could provide a left leg block, he had made his way onto the pedal board.

Of course I had stops pulled.

Of course it was otherwise silent in the nave, save the reading of God’s Word.

Of course no one could miss the dissonance of determined 4-year-old hands and knees.

Of course I panicked and couldn’t remember where the ‘cancel’ button was.

Of course the helicopter would have crashed.

And at that moment, having my remains flung hither and thither around the countryside seemed preferable to the humiliation which I suffered.

But you remember those fabulous SATB sinner-saints of Our Savior I mentioned earlier?  Well, not only are they so skilled that they might unknowingly start an Anglican chant revival, they are also wonderfully understanding, kind, and above all, forgiving.

So, the next Wednesday night, when my children were home, safe from reproof, and I broke the silence of the Lord’s Supper with a garishly loud open fifth on 16-foot reeds I couldn’t decide whether it was better to have their forgiveness applied towards my failure as a parent, or on organist.

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Look What I Uncovered

10 Mar

My plan today was to grab and album, scan a picture, type a few quirky descriptions, and call it a blog.  That was before my random pick turned out to be this photo:

Okay, I can’t help myself, here are a few quirky descriptions:  My shirt?  Velour.  My sister?  Cute.  Me?  Not so much, but a little tanner than I knew my body was capable of being.

This picture was taken on a family vacation to Denver where we stumbled upon this rhinoceros fossil that was found in, yes, squint to read it folks, none other than Ainsworth, Nebraska.

I vaguely remember being told by my parents that it was discovered very near our house, in fact I know the exact spot just north of home from which I imagined it’s excavation took place.  And yet, this was something that I don’t remember ever being talked about in school, or in town history.

After a few, very brief google searches, I have determined that this was discovered by resident and paleontologist Morris Skinner.  The name is completely familiar, but I might just be confusing it with Skinner’s Motor Court – the only thing in Ainsworth I can think of that bare’s the name.

So what’s the story?  If you know, tell me.  In the mean time I plan to put on my straw fedora and do a little digging of my own.  This could be the new Baby Goo-Goo mystery of the year.

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Not the Eddie Murphy version

9 Mar

We have a new obsession at our house. It’s The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting.

Oh, what joy the digital pages of that free download are bringing my boys. I’m telling you – public domain books are where it’s at.

Not only is it a charming little read with fanciful ideas and interesting characters – reading it via Kindle for iPad (if you want to get specific) is super super fun. Yep. You read that right. Super. Super. Fun.

See, the book is packed full of all sorts of geographical and zoological references. Some real. Some less than so. For instance, when the Purple Bird of Paradise flew over the Azores we could immediately Google both. Azores: real. Purple Bird of Paradise: less than so. Photographs of the beautiful localle now flood our mind while images of a swooping feathery wonder flood our mind’s eye.

Another tidbit learned whilst researching: The Fidgit Fish is a creation of Hugh Lofting, whereas the little guy’s most frightful nemesis, the Dogfish, is a creation of God (read: REAL). Imagine how hungry the Dogfish has been all these years searching for his make-believe snack!

My suggestion is this: Get yourself a Kindle (advertisement endorsment, please), or an iPhone (pretty please), or an iPad (Apple, do you hear me?), or a really relevant set of Encyclopedias that follow you around as you read, and sit down with this classic. Its fusion of fact and fantasy is fascinating. Find the stuff at your fingertips and Flash! – fiction fun.

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