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The Wonders of (Old) Technology

5 Aug

So how do you maintain your daily dose of Olympics when life dictates a trip to Chicago?  The VCR, my friends, the VCR.

You remember those old machines that play clunky old tapes, right?  No?  Well surely your remember the problem that my dear sister had earlier in the summer because of this out-of-date entertainment equipment.

But it turns out that the VCR, like an athlete everyone thought should have retired four years ago, made a stunning comeback and redeemed itself.

So that big race between Lochte and Phelps that the world watched Thursday?  Yep, we got to see that via onboard VCR as we made the early morning trek to the windy city.  Poor picture quality never made three groggy boys so happy.

Day-old Olympics and day-old doughnuts – the secrets to a successful road trip.


Let the what begin?

2 Aug

Did you know the Olympics were about sports?  I know, I got so caught up in food, and crafts, and even geography, that those athleticky things sort of slipped my mind.

Not our boys’ though.  Nope.  One hour into Opening Ceremonies they were still asking “When is it going to start?”  We just kept answering that it already had.  Finally, (no world record’s for parenting adroitness here) we figured out they were asking when people were going to start playing games.

Oh, yeah.  Games.  Tomorrow.

So, like the Olympians we too let our games begin last Saturday.  Since then our little sports have pretty much kept us honest with at least one event per day.  We’ve had running races, biking races, basketball, cricket, archery, and shooting.  We’ve enjoyed the thrill of victory, and the agony (and whining) of defeat.  We’ve learned the rules to games most people don’t acquire from books.  We’ve handcrafted our own tools of the competition.We’ve taken games we loved, modified them with a slight jump of the pitcher and addition of really young players, and referred to them by their Olympic, and excitingly buggy monikers.We’ve given medals for cuteness.

We’ve learned the national anthems of China, Australia, Great Britain and the good ol’ USA.  We’re cheering on our teammate from Brazil so that one day soon he too can hear his national anthem sung loud and clear through the screendoor on YouTube.  We’ve worn our medals with pride, and noticed that while our comrades in London have purple ribbons around their necks instead of blue, they have still have lids, just like us.



Keep Away from Open Flame, or Even Closed

29 Jul

I dislike fire.  A lot.  I don’t want to go into the details, but let it suffice to say that in my first two years of high school there was an exploding lab table and a student in French class who gave us a dramatic lesson in the meaning of the word ‘flambé.’

Our ice cream torches from Friday night are long gone, so our Olympic games seemed to be lacking that iconic blaze, and despite my fears something needed to be done.  We researched some past cauldrons for inspiration.  Remember that horrible one from Atlanta that looked like a McDonald’s french fry container?  Awful.  But I’ll give them ingenuity points for recycling the grease to keep the flame alive.

Seeing as we were fresh out of fast food containers we scavenged the basement for cardboard, developed a design, and got to work.

While watching water polo, of course.

Everyone got a chance to carry the torch as we moseyed around the house.

Yes, there really is a torch under there, but it’s just a toilet paper tube, so don’t look too closely.

We had to work on the hand-offs,

but once we got them down the fire picked up some speed.

Simeon was so full of hot air from his leg that he began to come off the ground like a hot air balloon.  

The most senior Olympians got the last legs, ending with the lighting of the cauldron in a place of honor above the TV set, where it will burn until the end of the games.

Why so high, you ask?  Even tissue paper flames, no especially tissue paper flames need to be kept out of the reach of little twins.


Distraction of Olympic Proportions

27 Jul

Oh, those Olympics.  They have a way of interrupting life, don’t they?  Like the time back in my college days when we decided during one of the advertisement breaks of the Atlanta Games to turn down our water heater in order to save a bit of money.  We flipped the breaker, adjusted the thermostat, and then rushed back to the living room at the first notes of the John Williams theme.  Three days later, after numerous chilly showers, my roomates and I realized that we had been so distracted by the games that we failed to flip back on the breaker.

I blame Bob Costas.

And yet here he is invading our lives 16 years later and I couldn’t be happier.

This is the first time we’ve really gotten the kids involved in the addicting athletic event.  Today we picked teams based on a complicated equation of favorite colors, propensity for medals, and continental distribution.Our supper , like the age-old games, was provided by Greece (and a really great recipe from the Twins’ Godmother.)Even the salad dressing got into the spirit.  It was probably just excited that I did not serve the lettuce out of a bag for once.

We carried chilly torches because I have a bit of a phobia of actual flames,and even had an educational moment or two.Like the one where we got to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction after Simeon remarked that England should have asked Susan and Lucy to be on their archery team.


Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 10

23 Jun

Okay, dear friends, In writing about our wedding day for the past nine days I’ve done my best to spare you a lot of mush, but today is our actual anniversary, and so like it or not, it’s about to get sappy around here.

Happy Anniversary, dear husband,

From the moment you first gently put your hand on the small of my back as we entered Pietro’s over ten years ago I knew that you would be the one to gently encourage and push me, to guard me, and to have my back in all situations.  The first time I was sick after we began dating and you made me take cough medicine I knew you would always take care of me, and go out of your way for my comfort.

And when I joined you for dinner at your family table and we sat chatting for hours with your parents before you and your dad got up and cleared the dishes I knew our life would be full of openness, long talks, kindness and responsibility.  On evenings when I would go on a rant and attempt to gossip or overdramatically speculate you didn’t take my bait or let me dwell on the untrue, and I knew that you would bring out the best in me and not let the worst flourish.  When you pulled out The Lord of the Rings trilogy to read aloud to me I knew our children would grow up with beautiful imaginations and a love of learning.   And as you joined me in my desire for a Sunday morning Divine Service wedding it was obvious that the foundation for our marriage would be the forgiveness of Christ who united us.

I know it’s impolite to say this, but, “I was right!”  You, and our life are all those things and more.  Thank you.  Thank you, thank you.

Jerry, I love you, thank you for loving me.  Thank you for this decade, and thank you in advance for all the decades to come.


Okay folks, mush out.  (But I do totally dig that man.)

Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 8

21 Jun

When we got married I was 26 and Jerry was 38.  The odds were stacked against us.  We had just narrowly passed the Gross Factor Equation Exam.  You remember that one from College Algebra, right?  It’s something something like

2(woman’s age) – 11 ≥ (man’s age)

See, I knew that would come right back to you, after all, math is just like riding a bike down the street toward the railroad crossing at 10 miles an hours with an approaching train traveling 36 miles an hour.

So, as I was saying, the numbers appeared to be stacked against us, especially this glaring statistic:

Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride.

What? That’s not actually a real stat?  Egh, whatever, facts, folklore, they’re all the same to me, and I had the dresses to prove it:  I’d been a Maid of Honor not once, not twice, but the dreaded three times.  And with my sister’s 2001 New Year’s Eve engagement and pending 2002 New Year’s Eve wedding, I was looking at my fourth line of duty.

And I don’t know if there’s a wive’s tale that speaks to the number of roommates that one marries off before she herself is destined to a life of spinsterhood, but I was at a whopping five.

That’s why at my wedding I just had one attendant who was securely attached to a fiance.  No need to run up any one else’s tally, right?

But, all those beautiful women who did me the honor of making me their honored maid flew miles and miles, some even with teensy newborns, to celebrate my very own take-that-you-silly-old-legend wedding extravaganza.

Thank you, Misty, Angie and Stephanie for your years of standing up for me with or without the yards of silk and satin.

And here’s one that I couldn’t have guessed that hot, steamy June day – after my sister’s nuptials I wasn’t yet finished with my role in the wedding party.  Seven years later, my good friend Audrey, who at my own wedding could be seen sitting at the back left corner of the table of high school girls, got married, and there I stood, yet again witnessing the happy occasion of the joining of husband and wife.

So, who’s next?



Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 7

20 Jun

Wedding are just chocked full of happy memories,  like this:

What caused that sea of genuine smiles? This dear, sainted man.

And that’s thing about those happy memories, many of them are tied to people who are no longer with us.  Who knows what Pastor Krieger was saying, or even why he had the mic, but the man who gave me the nickname Chirps, and scolded me when there weren’t enough a Capella stanzas is sorely missed, gentle ribbings and all.

As is this beautiful woman on the left, framed between her two daughters.

Just a few weeks after I moved to town I was invited over to her condo for a cocktail party with the caveat, “they’ll all be talking about you anyway, so you might as well be there.”  Grace was the perfect hostess, the evening was full of lively conversation, delicious food, big guffaws (Pr. Krieger was there), and the most delightful Old Fashioned I’ve ever imbibed.

She wasn’t the only one who opened her home to me in my first days in Michigan.  This kind, generous couple hosted me for supper right before my interview.

Norma was on the interview committee, and she and I left their house just a minute or two late with these parting words from Norm, “You just tell them you’re late because I made you stay and drink a beer.”  I did.  Tell them that, not drink the beer, and Norm’s excuse instantly broke the ice, and calmed my nerves as I sat down with the room full of people I now happily call my friends.  I don’t know if he ever knew what a wonderful gift he gave me in that simple sentence.

The people below also gave us a great gift.  Well, to be fair, we bought it from them, but the thought, care, and maintenance they put into this house, now our home, is something for which we will always be grateful.  My apartment lease was up three weeks before our wedding, so as the final days of school were wrapping up, and our last minute wedding plans were ramping up, we threw in the purchase of a house.

We had no idea when we discovered this house with it’s custom designed pantry and spacious sunroom that the seller would be one of the music leaders of West Michigan.  We had an instant bond with them, and they graced us with their presence at our wedding, and the initials AS carved into each of the handmade kitchen cabinets still makes me smile.

Do you remember those beautiful seventh grade girls that helped me pick out my wedding dress?  Well, one of them just got engaged.  Sadly, she lost her father before he had the chance to walk her down the aisle.  Her Dad is the man on the right.

Losing part of your family is always tragic, whether it happens unexpectedly, or after a extended illness at the end of a long life.  My Grappa was able to make it to our wedding, but it was the last big event he was strong enough to attend.  He was too sick to make it to my sister’s wedding just six months later, and died a month after that.

We saw him near the end, lying thin in a hospital bed, but this is how I will remember him.

As two became one, Jerry’s family became mine, and that means that the losses of his family became mine as well.  Nearly five years ago we lost Jerry’s brother David in a single car accident, and just this year their dad died after a battle with Alzheimer’s.

The holes they leave are huge, but larger than any emptiness is the thankfulness we have for the time we had with each of these people.  They shaped our lives, brought us joy and laughter, and remind us to appreciate those still with us.

Okay, weepy sad time is over.  Let’s think back to the beginning of this post, shall we?  Happy memories.  Happy, happy, happy.  Here, just in case your mind’s eye needs a little trigger:


Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 6

19 Jun

Did I mention that it was really, really hot that day?


Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 5

18 Jun

Before we had children I lived the most luxurious life.  I used to get my hair cut.  On a regular basis.  And highlighted.  At a salon.  By “My Stylist.”

Man, those were the days.

Despite the fact that our wedding was on a Sunday morning, My Stylist agreed to come do my hair and make-up in my office at church during the Sunday School hour.  She picked out the make-up, I purchased the suggested items, and then brought them along for her to apply.

She did a nice job, yes?  When she quit the salon while I was pregnant with Thomas I happened to be scheduled on her last day of work.  I cried.  It was the hormones, I’m sure.  That was about the time I gave up getting my hair cut.

Anyway, see that blush she selected?  I love that blush.  Notice how I didn’t use past-tense on that last sentence.  That’s right.  I still own it.  And not only do I still own it, I still use it pretty much every time I wear makeup, which might not be as often as it was back in the first days of our marriage.

Yep, I just snapped that picture.  It’s the same exact blush, not just the same color purchased after the first blush ran out.  Nope, that’s the original folks.  Save me your lectures about the dangers of using old make-up, I’m not really interested.  I’m hoping to stretch this cheek color out until at least our Silver Anniversary because I like the role of blushing bride.

Ten Days to Ten Years: Day 4

17 Jun

Happy Sunday!  We were married on a Sunday, you know.  And a Sunday morning, at that.

It was lovely.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  A packed church, marvelous hymns, bold singing, faithful preaching, historic liturgy, and Jesus – present there for our forgiveness as we began our lives as one in Him.

*Hugemongous Happy Sigh*

Oh.  Okay, I’m back now.  Sorry, sometimes I get lost in my happiness.

Don’t worry, I’m not so lost that I’ve forgotten that today isn’t just any ol’ Sunday.

Happy Father’s Day!

Now, we weren’t married on Father’s Day, but don’t think that’s going to stop me from showing you the important role our dads played in our nuptials.

My dad gave me a way, and he didn’t even flinch when I started belting out the processional hymn “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” really loudly in his ear.

All these years we’ve bemoaned the effect the hog sheds had on his hearing, but in this instance it might have worked in my favor (Please take this moment to insert all of your “raising pigs parallels raising Christina” jokes.  I can take it.            Okay.  Are you done now?)

Jerry’s Dad pronounced us husband and wife.

It’s something not every couple can say, and it’s certainly a memory we cherish.  Plus, don’t you just think he looked adorable in his vestments? Especially the green.  I’m pretty sure it was during the Trinity season that he acquired the nickname Pastor Yoda.

The excitement of the day might have blurred my memory, but I think he probably said, “Husband and wife, now pronounce you I do.”

And of course I got a dance with my Dad.  I’ve never really known him to dance, so this was pretty awesome.

But even more awesome that all the processing, pronouncing, and dancing is the impact these two men have had on our lives for way more than just a day, or even a decade.

They, along with our mothers, brought us to the font to be washed in Baptism, reared us in homes ruled and forgiven by the daily use of God’s Word, and compelled us to receive Christ each week in the Divine Service.

They, along with our mothers, showed us daily how to serve each other in love, and have not exasperated their children, but brought us up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  They have led us both by quiet example and adamant truth.

And today we thank our Heavenly Father for the gift of our earthly ones.