Tag Archives: humor

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.



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.


Have My Cake, and Eat It Anyway

1 Mar

Things I (We) Love:  Cooking Blogs

Too bad this isn’t one.  And although I seldom follow a recipe as written, my combined fear of causing plagerism, boredom, and upset stomachs has kept me from posting too many recipes.

Here’s another Thing I (We) Love:  Cake Wrecks

And as I mentioned the other day I’ve made enough buttercream disasters to warrant my own amateur category over there.

So today, I’m going to combine those two loves, and provide you with a Cooking Cake Wrecks post.  I’ll reveal a few secrets, some in the form of cakes that would be better left unseen, and others that are my ways of avoiding unsightly icing mounds.

Secret 1

This is the really, really, really important one, so take note:  AVOID FROSTING.

I didn’t understand this one for the first several years.  Sure, sometimes I tried to cover it up with cookies, and innumerable candles.  But other times I let it try to carry the show.

It sounds like an impossibility to avoid frosting altogether, right?  Because unless you’re like our Mom who served us chocolate cake with butter on top (nope, I’m not making that up), frosting is pretty much expected.

But take me seriously, frosting is the enemy.

It should not be trusted.  It will not help you.

Secret 2

Avoid fondant.

It might be pretty, and give you smooth results, but steer clear.

That is, unless you like having your husband ask every time you pull out the mixer, “Will you please make edible frosting this time?”

Secret 3


They cover a multitude of sins and globs.  Also, they pull the cake recipient’s attention away from the fact that you spent little time on the creation of his birthday dreams.

And if you buy a big enough toy you can simply dump the cake in, add a little of Secret 6, and the birthday boy will be none the wiser.

Secret 4

Make the cake interactive.

Like a toy, it adds the element of distraction.

And any unsightly frosting can be blamed on the children who were playing with their food.

Secret 5

Pyrotechnics.  This is a tip stolen straight from the big movie makers.  If you want a blockbuster, the dramatic and excessive use of fire always helps.

Secret 6

Candy.  I once made a cake covered entirely with different types of candy.  

Nothing screams “Happy Birthday” like pure sugar and Blue No.  2.

Candy can also be repurposed into a variety of objects from eyebrows,

to hair,

to delivery truck contents.

And don’t overlook the coverage properties of colored sugar and coconut.   Both fall in the candy category.

Secret 7

Fruit Roll-ups.  Like fondant, smashed sheets of dried fruit product provides smooth coverage.  Unlike fondant, fruit roll-ups are edible.

And here’s the really good news.  Sunkist now makes a fruit roll-up that is not tattooed with Sponge Bob.

This is the best news since, well, candy.  They are very versatile, a carefully stretched sheet of fruitified sucrose can make an innocent marshmallow into a ruddy schnoz.

(Sunkist is not paying me to advertise for their product, but if they would like to, I would happily accept their money.)

Secret 8

Keep asking your child what they want their cake to be until they finally give you an answer you like.  Then stick to that.  If they say they want a model of Superman leaping tall buildings, ask them again tomorrow.  If they say they want an ice cream cake with gummy bears, be thankful for dental coverage and take on the task.

And if they say they want a cake that looks like a cookie, agree loudly, and never bring it up again.

Especially if you plan to give birth to twins two days later.

Secret 9

Save this secret  for an emergency.  Use it cautiously, because you will probably only be able to pull it once, and only if they are quite young.  But in an extreme situation it is helpful to remember that:

they are called panCAKEs.


It’s Not All Snakes, and Snails, and Puppy-Dog Tails

22 Feb

Don’t worry, I’ve cut them off.

Now, if I could only locate their source of Vim.


Life’s a Fillet of Fish

10 Feb

Yes, it is.

It’s been one of those days.  You know the type, where every time you turn around there’s spilled milk, pencil writing on the wall, toddlers plummeting off desks, odd literary cakes to bake, leaky dirty diapers, second graders who can’t remember long vowels, knitting stitches that don’t add up, 467 small stones spilled on the floor of the unheated sunroom, and the clock reads just 10:32.

And to top it all off I’m bookless.  There is a giant void in my life where a book should be.   It’s very uncomfortable.  So this Friday you’ll have to settle for a movie/soundtrack/DVD post.  Can we all agree to dumb ourselves down for the day and let that happen?  Whew.  I’m glad.

Yes Thomas, it’s time to start the music.

Several weeks ago we checked out some old Muppet Shows from the library to occupy the hour or so of screen time that makes it possible for me to prep supper, fold laundry, talk to my sister, and visit the restroom in peace.  Go ahead, call the Good Mommy Police,  because at about 5:00 p.m., solitary confinement sounds cozy to me.

Kermit and his gang were an instant hit.  And since my tolerance for Imaginex and Planet Heroes DVD’s sometimes wains, this was a huge score.  I don’t mind having  Harry Belafonte, Julie Andrews, Paul Simon, and even Fozzie the Bear accompany my evening ritual chant of “Serenity Now!”

We kept riding that Muppet bandwagon and purchased Simeon the soundtrack from the new Muppet Movie for his birthday.  Also an instant hit. It’s been blaring out of the stereo singers (Thomas only calls them speakers if he’s playing on audiobook) during every free moment of the day, and some moments at night.  You see, the boys and I are still in negotiations about when night ends and morning begins.

My dear nephews first introduced us to the soundtrack over Christmas break, but at the time, I was blinded by a bright flashback to fourth grade.  Because on this fabulous CD is “We Built This City” by Starship – song so popular in 1985 that Stacy and I knew it.  And what that means, is that this song was really, really popular.

Our little school, all seven of us, made up a recess dance routine to perform while we belted what I now know were the incorrect lyrics across the barren corn fields.  We leapt out of swings, jumped over teeter-totters, circled the propane tank.  The song was awesome, the choreography was awesome, we were awesome.  You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone to contradict me – those cows are long gone.

I haven’t taught the kids the routine yet.  Hmmm . . . maybe that’s a solution to my day.  We seem to already have our own soundtrack, maybe all we really needs now is a dance number.


It Could Be Worse

25 Jan

The baby gate alone was sufficient for the rest of the children.

All I can say is that it’s good we got Pete and Cele as twins and not Pete and RePete.


Now bring us some Piggy Pudding*

13 Dec

*If you don’t already own the John Denver & The Muppets Christmas album, do yourself a 1 minute and 6 second favor and listen to this selection.  Now, on with the post:

There are many ways in which I have failed my children.  Some of which, I’m aware.  For instance I know that we have never given any of them a proper birthday party with peers, party favors and presents out the wazoo.

Of other failings, I am blissfully unaware.  Those are the worst.  Everything can be swimming along merrily – wait!  they don’t know how to swim yet!  What kind of mother am I??!!??  ARG.

Okay, as I was saying, everything seems peachy-keen and then – BOOM!  Out of nowhere you are smacked alongside the head with yet another unfulfilled area of your offspring’s lives.

This is how it was at the zoo last week.  I mean the actual zoo.  John Ball Zoo was celebrating Christmas for the Animals, so we downloaded their list, and checked it twice.  Then we grabbed some Jello,

peanut butter,


and our children, and headed down, because who wouldn’t want to give Jello to the animals?  Cecilia, that’s who.  I guess she has something against them having flavored ice.  Come to think of it, why do they need flavored ice?

Aside from the separation anxiety over the gelatin dessert, the day seemed to have all the necessary ingredients for a lovely family outing:  cool weather, free admission, no crowds, and happy critters.  We drifted through the animals, taking our merry time, laughing all the way.

The storks didn’t seem overly concerned about delivering a newborn babe to a young virgin mother, instead they were busy having a little jousting match.  

“Four Fighting Storks”, may soon replace the Calling Birds in our boys’ rendition of The Twelve Days.

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown rival this beauty that we photographed for my Mom’s sake.  So Mom, what is it?

I can’t wait until she tells us, because of all the trees that are in the zoo, this berry wears the crown.

There were no bells on bob tails, but there was an ice sculpture of  a bob cat that made our spirits bright.

All except Thomas’ that is.  He went into a little meltdown because the sculpture was erroneously located in the African section of the zoo.  Gladly the artist could take the heat, even if his artwork couldn’t.

Also in the African section was this lovely lioness who is surely hoping that Santa will bring her five tasty lads and lasses for Christmas.

She’s undoubtedly been a good girl.  And even if she hasn’t, who’s going to argue with her?

There were other harmonious holiday moments as we strolled through the nearly empty zoo – games, free stickers and bookmarks, the opportunity to pet a snake (I’ll spare you that picture) and a chance to actually visit with our children about what we were seeing – something I find a frequent challenge in crowded public venues.

So when did the parenting ball drop as quickly as if it were in Times Square on New Year’s Eve?  When we ended our visit to the zoo with a quick stop by the Farm where my eldest son and I had the following conversation:

Me:  Look boys, they have all the animals penned together, the cows, the goats, the chickens and the pigs.
Simeon:  There aren’t any pigs, Mom.
Me:  Yes, there are.  Look, right there. (Pointing to the pig standing just 20 sloppy feet away.)
Simeon:  But Mom, it’s not pink.

Errata:  My mother just politely, and privately pointed out to me that my Storks are Pelicans.  I have no explanation for my animal identification ignorance but would note that obviously my apples don’t fall far from their tree.



8 Dec

Things I (We) Love:  Our Twins

Now, don’t get me wrong, outside of the clever Thing 1 and Thing 2 reference that can be made, I typically think of them as people not objects.  Also, while we’re making sure everything is crystal clear, regardless of what you are about to read, I do love them.  Very, very much.  That’s why they are allowed to stay.  Otherwise, they’d be off to boarding school faster than you can say “Cat in the Hat.”

For your reading enjoyment, with a heavy side of “Whew!  I’m sure glad I’m not her!,”  here is a brief rundown of what our 15-mo-old Twins were able to accomplish today.  Please keep in mind, that despite my propensity for exaggeration they did do each and every one of these things in the last 24 hours:

  • Peter tackled the cat.
  • Cecilia took Pete’s cup at breakfast and then acted as if she was giving it back to him, only to pull quickly away everytime he reached to regain his milk.  A delighted “No!” and guilty smile shaped her mouth.
  • Pete pulled our good serving platter, bowls and several other large, breakable items out of the china cabinet.
  • Cecilia fell off the desk.
  • Peter stood on the dining room table.
  • They emptied a bag of 72 individual teeth flossers on the bathroom floor.
  • Peter unplugged the TV, DVR, computer and Christmas tree.  Numerous times.
  • They pulled out the entire contents of a newly opened Kleenex box.  They must have meant them as gifts to me, because I found the pile under the Christmas tree.
  • Peter tried to clean the toilet with the back scrubber.  Then he threw in some bath toys for good measure.
  • Cecilia threw the nativity scene down their changing table.
  • They stole butter knives out of the dishwasher and toddled around the kitchen wielding them.
  • Cecilia nabbed a yam from the potato bin and gave it a tour of the house.
  • They removed the few remaining ornaments from the bottom of  our already top-heavy Christmas tree.  Despite what I said earlier, I fear it could topple.
  • Peter sharpened pencils.
  • Cecilia ran interference.
  • Peter sharpened scissors.  In the pencil sharpener.
  • Cecilia squealed in delight, or warning.  It’s unclear.
  • Peter tried to help Thomas with his math manipulatives.  They were both working on subtraction.

You’ll have to forgive the lack of pictures.  I was a little busy.  No!  Wait!  I have this one from exactly a year ago.

I think I’ll just stare at that for awhile.