Archive for December, 2008

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New Year’s Eve Communion Gone Awry

December 30, 2008

Now that I have returned from the double whammy of finals week (had to deal with finals at my job and in my own educational pursuits), I am thrilled to be posting again. Please accept my sincerest apologies for the lapse in blogging. You may feel free to catch up now on all that sleep you lost while wondering what had happened to me.

Since I missed my opportunity to share some wonderful Christmas stories with you, such as the year we decided to do Christmas the “old-fashioned way”, or the time that Ben nearly lost a foot in his hurry to get to presents, I will skip on to New Year’s. One memory stands out far beyond the rest.

This particular year, we accepted an invitation from Mike and Becky to spend New Year’s with them at Shiloh, Aunt Colleen’s cabin on the lake. In addition to watching movies and playing Settlers of Cataan, some of us thought it would be spiritual of us to attend New Year’s Eve Communion at the nearest church – Piney Grove Baptist Church, or as we like to call it, Tiny Piney. Only the girls had the gumption to go, so Becky, Mom, Shannon and I piled into the van and headed down the road, agreeing that Grandpa would be very proud of us.

We piled into a pew and doubled the communion population. Soon, a small, bespectacled man with orange-brown hair and a black robe on took the center of the stage. He had one of the faintest voices I have ever heard. His New Year’s Eve monologue struck me as being particularly stale and boring. I recall his saying something about how we should resolve during the new year to be “better human beings.” I had been planning to try amphibian life for a while, but he convinced me to stick to improving as a member of the homo sapiens species for at least one more year.

Communion followed his not so stirring message. The little man gathered the bowl of wafers and a wine chalice and invited us to kneel at the front of the church to receive the elements. So we knelt – Mom, Shannon, me, then Becky. The minister served Mom first, for which I was grateful – communion can be served many different ways, and I appreciated having a couple of examples before my turn came. The procedure seemed to be to take a wafer from the bowl, dip it down into the juice, then ingest the elements and enter a state of prayer.

When my turn came, I dipped the wafer into the glass and noticed that there was something amuck with the juice but wasn’t quite sure what it was. Next it was Becky’s turn, and let me just say – of any of us girls at communion that night, Becky would have had the greatest aversion to dipping her wafer into a glass contaminated with everyone else’s wafers and fingers. I was therefore not surprised to see her very gingerly dip the wafer about a quarter of the way into the glass, then pull it out to make sure she had reached the juice. Nope – the first try was a negative, resulting in a juiceless wafer. So, not one to do communion wrong, Becky dipped her wafer a second time, a little deeper. She pulled it out and let out a nearly audible sigh – still no juice! A third time, Becky inserted the wafer so deep that she could feel the juice on her fingers, then pulled it out…

There must have been a real rush on grape juice at the Wal Mart that night, because the pastor of Tiny Piney had opted for white grape juice for this communion service. Becky’s communion wafer was nearly soggy at this point, but she took it like a trooper. The rest of us had great difficulty maintaining the meditative atmosphere, as the temptation to burst out laughing was a constant throughout the rest of the service. I do think that Grandpa would have been proud of our efforts, despite the way we trashed the Tiny Piney method of communion all the way home.

Communion Cocktail

Communion Cocktail

In preparation for a fresh year, keep in mind that each new day presents opportunities to make wonderful, lasting memories. And if you attend a New Year’s Eve communion service, do me a favor and let me know how it goes.

Happy New Year!

Editor’s note: It has been brought to my attention by more than one reliable source that I got the location completely wrong. I have to say, I am glad I got to tell you about Tiny Piney, even if it wasn’t the right place. We were actually somewhere in Myrtle Beach, FL. Many apologies for not getting my facts straight.

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Rememory Friday 2

December 12, 2008

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One Sunday morning during church, we were sitting single file in our church row and singing Amazing Grace along with the rest of the congregation. Mom must have been in a funny mood, because when we reached the line, “That saved a wretch like me,” she began a tradition that has held true to this day. She caught our eye, and changed the lyrics to “That saved a wretch like yoooooouuuuuu” while pointing down the aisle at us. We about cracked up, and now we cannot sing that hymn together without pointing discreetly at the person next to us during that line.

I tried it with a friend once, and it didn’t go over so well.

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Speaking of hymns, another tradition of which I am not so fond is for Ben and my cousin Adam, during the hymn The Solid Rock, to sing nothing but the phrase “sinking sand” during the chorus. So for them, the chorus goes silence silence silence silence SINKING SAND! silence silence SINKING SAND!

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Being homeschoolers, we of course took field trips to colonial villages more than once during our schooling. Another obvious element of homeschooling involves reading all of the Little House on the Prairie books as a family. Combine these two activities, and what do you get? A group of children a) who are not the least bit disturbed by actually watching a pig be butchered before their eyes at the colonial village and b) who have the presence of mind to request that the butcher give them the pig’s bladder so they can test Laura Ingalls Wilder’s story about blowing that piece of anatomy into a balloon and using it as a toy.

It did not take us long to realize that it is very hard to test this theory on a pig bladder that has been kept in a brown paper bag all day while we learned how candles were made and wool was carded back in the olden days.

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My cousins, Aaron and Adam, are separated by six years, have some great stories about growing up together. Probably my favorite is to hear Aaron tell of how he used to give Adam one of those padded whiffle ball bats and just let Adam go to town beating him with it. Being much bigger, Aaron hardly felt Adam’s blows. Aaron would then snatch the bat from Adam unexpectedly and sweep Adam’s legs straight out from under him. And now we do not have to wonder why Adam is the most competitive person any of us knows.

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I absolutely love hearing my inlaws tell stories of John’s growing up years. He and his brother Ben have incredibly distinct personalities, and the stories are inevitably great. However, even great stories are made better by photos, right? This one is a classic

Trick or treat!

Trick or treat!

Ben is in the blue clown costume, and John is in the red one. I suspect that Ben had been sampling the candy prior to having this picture taken. For someone who really cannot stand clowns, I adore this photo.

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One of the movies we watched a lot of when we were young was Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. It really was a fantastic movie, with three animals teaming up to accomplish a difficult task and incorporating humorous dialogue throughout. I do not think our mom realized how much of an effect the movie had on us until she took us with her to the vet’s office to give our cat a checkup. While the doctor examined Tina (yes, that was my cat’s name), Ben and I kept a running commentary going, speaking for Tina in first person. “Oh no, not a needle! I hate needles. Get away, you big mean doctor man!” I am pretty sure that Dr. Gough had never been exposed to this kind of behavior before; he was rather at a loss. Embarrassed, Mom mumbled something about “too much Homeward Bound” and ushered us out of there as quickly as possible.

We were a little confused, to say the least – didn’t everyone speak for their animals?

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When watching Woody Woodpecker or Sesame Street, the practice in our household was not to cuddle up on the couch or stretch out on the floor with a pillow. No, nothing but sitting underneath a TV tray for us. On the nights that our parents allowed us to eat dinner using a TV tray, it was especially convenient. After finishing the meal, all that was necessary was for us to slip down underneath the tray for the rest of the program. Don’t ask me why we did this – it made sense at the time.

Inspired by Jennifer.

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Littlest Pet Shop

December 8, 2008
Littlest Pet Shop

Paw Print Central

Remember your favorite toy growing up? It probably had lots of different pieces or sets so that every time your mom took you shopping anywhere, you begged her to stop off at a toy store and buy the newest must-have addition to your set. Well, for me, that toy was the Littlest Pet Shop.

Littlest Pet Shop, or LPS as we aficionados referred to it, started out with a pet shop designed like a tackle box of sorts and containing all sorts of little animals. We owned probably over a hundred of these creatures and meticulously named each one. Many of them were magnetized, allowing them to appear to kiss each other or follow a chew toy. They gave the appearance of being very smart and adorable, as this commercial will demonstrate:

If you Google Littlest Pet Shop now, you will find yourself beset by the new version of Littlest Pet Shop characters. They have creepy, googly eyes and lame accessories, and I want to distance myself as much as possible from any assumptions that these are the pets to which I refer. Our pets were way, way cooler. Since the 1996 collection, Hasbro Toys has really taken this toy series downhill.

Since the original LPS characters have been discontinued, there are now forums where people can post photos of their sets and place want ads for the characters that are missing from their collections. This forum in particular is worth visiting just to read their overly particular terms of service agreement. Just a few minutes of Internet searching will show you that this site is the agreed upon authority for all vintage LPS information. Although our fascination with LPS never reached the extreme of some others, we did name each pet and bestow upon each one a personality which remained consistent throughout our hours of play. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that even now, when I see our LPS pets, I can still remember most of their names. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it.

Welcome to the tour of Sarah and Ben’s Littlest Pet Shop Nomenclature and Temperament Review

playset-2

playset1

1) First, the Littlest Shop Playset. Please forgive the poor quality of the photos – despite the extensive fan base which I have established for you, the number of quality photos is fairly limited. This was the start of it all. It contained a cash register, a counter for the cash register to sit upon, and lots of room for the pets and their accessories. Despite its spacious interior, a very complex arrangement was required to fit our 100+ pets, food dishes, leashes, beds, fences, and other accouterments into it. We of course referred to this play set as the Pet Store (they only sold food and such items at this one – not pets.) A bunny named Bunny was in charge of the cash register. No joke.

Note the interior as well, complete with that old-fashioned cash register and display shelf in the store window.

2) My personal favorite were the Shetland ponies, a mother and a daughter. They came with their own corral and a cardboard cutout of a pasture. The cutout even featured a salt lick, which I think is special. The best part, though, would be the names I conjured up for these, my all-time favorite LPS pets: The mama pony was named Faith, and the baby was named… Baby.

Faith and Baby

Faith and Baby

cherry-and-pb-better

3) These friendly kitties were sisters. The yellow was named Peanut Butter, and the gray was Cherry. As I recall, Peanut Butter played the part of cool aunt for all the kittens and puppies in the community. Cherry was an extremely one-dimensional character. Her one distinguishing characteristic was that when the animals gathered on Sundays for church services, Cherry was the pianist. As it turned out, the motion that her creators gave her to simulate scratching on a post also looked a lot like plunking out a tune on the keyboard that came with the Beethoven’s 2nd LPS set. The moment we discovered this special ability, Cherry was hired.

We also enjoyed making use of the litterbox that accompanied this set. Kids those days…

lovebirds

4) There is not a whole lot to say about the lovebirds. They perched on the edge of town, bickered with the baby pets that trespassed, and periodically fulfilled their lovebird calling by turning to one another in a somewhat dispassionate kiss. Their names? Bob and Quagmire.

5) Puppet the poodle, Brownie the preaching golden retriever, and Buddy the friendly mutt also saw a good bit of playing time. Puppet owned the hair salon, and all the boy dogs fawned over her all the time. She lived happily in this little house with her two friends. Buddy was everyone’s friend, and his magnetic head could fetch the magnetic newspaper. By wagging Brownie’s tail, you could cause his hand to move up and down in a shake… but we made better use of this feature than that. We made Brownie the community’s preacher, and no sermon was complete without forcing Brownie’s hand into a very forceful shake while he urged the churchgoers, “Repent! Repent!” I should note that we spent an inordinate amount of our childhood listening to Wesleyan holiness preachers during revival meetings.

puppet-buddy-brownie-2

I will spare you the rest. I could continue on about Ginger and Fee Fee, the canine pair that adopted the orphan puppies; Echo the mother cat and her many kittens (Pinky, Cookie, Ivy, Tuna, and Snowflake); the bunny family, whose babies we were constantly losing then finding again; Simba and Zazoo who made us laugh over and over, even though we were the ones making up the story; and so on. But, like I said, this is probably enough Littlest Pet Shop information for one day.

Ah, good memories.

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Rememory Friday

December 5, 2008

I intend to follow the example of Jennifer at ConversionDiary and institute a special recurring Friday post dedicated to rememories. If you are not familiar with that term, I have composed a definition below.

Rememory: a past event which is not detailed enough to warrant a full post but which is sufficiently memorable to be featured in quicktake-style.

Each Friday will bring with it a rememories post for your reading enjoyment. Now put your hands together and let me hear you cheer for the first installment of rememories ever!

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The header on this page is a small portion of a painting that hangs in my parents’ house. The artist is my grandmother, Dodie, who passed away in 2007. I have lots of good Grandma Dodie stories for later. She is my favorite artist!

(Note to my parents: Someday, I would like to have that painting, please.)

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I do not recall a single instance during the preschool years when either Ben or I rode in the car without a sippy cup of juice or water. Mom made it a ritual – get your coat on, get your sippy cup, and (if you were Ben) get your 9-foot bumper pad of a blankie, and we were out the door. On the occasions when we did make it into the car without a sippy cup, we were sure to remind Mom. It didn’t happen very often.

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All of the aunts on Mom’s side of the family compete often for the title of Favorite Aunt. Family gatherings at which everyone is present are their favorite time to wrap their arms around a niece or nephew and proclaim that they, in fact, are the favorite aunt. Of course, this action merely provokes some other aunt to find another niece or nephew and counter that claim. The uncles stay out of the competition entirely, which is probably wise.

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Before Ben cared about whether his hair was buzzed, bowl cut or flat topped, Mom used to do his hair cuts. Using an electric trimmer was cheaper and easier – just put him on a stool on the outdoor deck and trim away. The only problem was that Mom did not keep close track of which trimmer head she normally used. The day that she buzzed Ben bald was the last day she tried to trim his hair. A quick call to her sister-in-law, Colleen, was damage control, but once you have buzzed hair down to 1/16th of an inch straight down the center of the scalp, the amount of damage that can be controlled is very limited.

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At the age of fourteen, my sister Shannon taught a semester-long Latin class to me and several other peers at a home education coop. At the time, both learning Latin at all and having to learn it from my older sister especially seemed like a necessary evil. Now I have to wonder… was it even legal? She did a good job, though – I still remember Ora et Labora, at least.

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Writing about family memories is interesting. i have thought of several great moments that I would love to catalog here, but I am a little bit nervous about exposing a family member’s hilarious but perhaps embarrassing stories to public scrutiny. I may have to institute an approval process for such memories, and that is fine. My biggest fear is writing about something that I do not think is shameful at all, only to get in trouble for it later. I’ve never liked getting in trouble.

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For the most part, our childhood playtime was governed very much by gender-specific toys. Ben played with G.I. Joes, and I played with Barbies. By the term “played with”, I mean that we devoted a hugely significant portion of our formative years to these pursuits. The only problem with the strict gender differentiation of our toys was that Ben could not very well play by himself, at least not with any enjoyment. He would therefore beg me to play with him, which I was only willing to do if Barbies could somehow be incorporated. The resulting scenario required a great deal of imagination to pull off: 2.5″ G.I. Joes with subconscious inferiority complexes gallantly defending 10″ Barbies who were more concerned with what to wear to the party than with their own physical safety.

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A Preacher’s Proverbs

December 3, 2008

Grandpa Lloyd was a preacher, through and through. He had started off in life as a business man, but when he felt God’s call on him to preach, he left that field and went straight to Asbury College where he studied to be a minister. Coincidentally, that is where he met the love of his life, whom we call Gram. They served as class chaplains together, which must be code for falling in love, because there has never been anyone else for either of them ever since.

Hughes Auditorium, Asbury College

Hughes Auditorium, Asbury College

Most of us grandkids did not get to know Grandpa that well, because he passed away from a heart attack in 1981. However, since all his daughters and Gram quote him frequently, we feel as if we really do know him after all.

Below is an incomplete list of some of Grandpa’s frequent sayings and proverbs. If anyone can think of more of Grandpa’s sayings which I am leaving out, please post a comment here or send an e-mail to memoriesblogger at gmail dot com, and I will add those to the list. A big shout out goes to Mom and Gram who helped me compile this list so far.

A Preacher’s Proverbs

Two can live as cheaply as one, if one of them doesn’t eat.

I don’t care how high you jump or how loud you yell, as long as you walk straight when you hit the ground.

If you don’t want to go to hell, don’t smell like you’ve already been there.

Keep smiling by praying. (that was typed on all his communications – personal and church both)

Blessings on you! (his typical good bye)

Ain’t got no use for the do-das (ladies). (not sure why he always said that, except he had a house full of women and he thought it was funny.)

If you can’t be true to one or two, you’re much better off with three.

Cast your bread on the water and it will come back with butter and jelly on it.

If you walk in the light as He’s in the light, you’ll come out all right.

Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.

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Pumpkin Thief

December 1, 2008

The rumors are true. I am a thief. Well, was a thief – I have now left my thieving days behind me. But when I was five years old, you had better believe that I was full of thievery.

We spent many autumn days as a family at Huber’s Orchard & Winery (emphasis on the orchard part), feeding animals at the petting zoo, playing on the big playground, and eating in the family restaurant. After one such fun afternoon, we headed to the car. It must have been prime pumpkin season, because the way to the parking lot was lined with wagons of pumpkins – pumpkins of all sizes. I was particularly intrigued by the itty bitty ones, which looked like this:

The pumpkin that drew me into crime

The pumpkin that drew me into crime

The pumpkin was little enough and cute enough to persuade me to reach out while no one was looking and nab it. I stuffed it right into the pocket of my purple corduroys. Turns out, I was pretty good at this thief business.

Everything was great until I got home and realized that there really is no place to display a stolen pumpkin. So, I did the sensible thing and hid the pumpkin in a drawer. To the victor go the spoils!

My plan worked beautifully until one day Mom came into my room looking for a hair band and delved right into the back of the pumpkin drawer. I will never forget the look she cast me when she pulled the cute little pumpkin out of the drawer and asked me, “Sarah, where did you get this?”

At this point, I had drawn my knees up into a cowering position at the farthest corner of my bed, knowing I was doomed. I confessed everything, of course – if Mom had given you that look, you’d confess too. My punishment? I had to go back to the orchard with Mom a couple of days later to return the pumpkin and ask for forgiveness.

Little did I know, Mom had called ahead to the owner of Huber’s Orchard to inform her of the situation and to let her know that I would be coming to apologize. Oh, and that the owner should be sure not to go too easy on me. Thanks, Mom.

Suffice it to say, the restaurant where we found the owner and where I asked her forgiveness soon became a dramatic stage. Between my tearful confession and the owner’s sermon-like response about God’s forgiveness, we had a room full of a bunch of ladies crying over their deep fried dinner rolls and garden salads. Everyone was crying. And it worked, too, because I haven’t stolen since. Again I say, thanks, Mom.