Archive for January, 2009

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The other cheek

January 26, 2009

My sister Shannon has always taken the Bible’s red-letter words very seriously, but the outcome has never been as funny as it was in this story.

Shannon and I took horseback riding lessons one summer from one of Dad’s patients, a very sweet and knowledgeable woman named Mary Anne. We would travel up to her farm once a week and learn how to saddle up the horses, ride English style, and wear thin all the muscles in our inner thighs in our attempts to post. Mary Anne would stand in the center of a training ring while Shannon and I would ride in circles, listening to her commands.

My favorite horse was General Lee, not only because he had the sweetest disposition, but also because Mary Anne told me she had given him that name because he was general-ly good. I thought that sounded quite clever.

One day Mary Anne was letting us rest a bit as the horses lazily plodded around the ring, and she took that time to widen our understanding of the world of competitive horse showing. She told us what shows were like and how the most experienced riders and horses performed. One of her comments made a big impression on both of us. She said, “Some horses are so sensitive to their riders’ movements that if the rider puts just a little more weight on one cheek than the other, the horse will turn that direction.”

We were duly impressed. Silence fell among us as both of us pondered the significance of that statement. I was recalled out of my reverie by hearing Mary Anne shriek with laughter as she called out, “Not that cheek!” I looked over at Shannon to see what had provoked this remark. With all her might, Shannon was doing her best to get her horse to turn by protruding her tongue as hard as she could into the side of her mouth.

If I am fully honest, I have to admit that I too was confused by Mary Anne’s remark. In our family, “cheek” was not the word we used for that piece of anatomy. If she had just said “rump”, “behind”, or “bottom”, we would have caught on right away. However, until Mary Anne clarified exactly which cheek she was referring to, Shannon was left to conclude that the horse she was riding was obviously not very well trained.

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Rememory Friday 4

January 9, 2009

Courtesy of Jen at ConversionDiary

Today turned out to be a day for movie theater memories. Enjoy!

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Inspector Clouseau

Inspector Clouseau

Good memories can transform mundane or ridiculous things into beautiful nostalgia, reminders that we are loved. For example, the first time that John ever put his arm around me was in a movie theater during the Steve Martin’s version of The Pink Panther. What would have otherwise been an experience I would have been glad to forget was transformed into a favorite memory.

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Want to know another movie theater first for John and me? No, nothing risque – minds out of the gutter, folks. Well before we dated, during my freshman/his senior year of college, he let me wear his coat during The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (I had mine there, but wearing his was way more fun). The conversation went like this:

I get cold just looking at them,

I get cold just looking at them,

John (noticing Sarah sitting with her arms wrapped around her): Are you cold?

Sarah: No, I’m fine

(John proceeds to reach for his coat and place it over Sarah.)

Little did he know that he would be handing me his coat to wear for many years to come.

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Do they really? I guess I will never know.

Do they really? I will never know.

My parents taught us kids early that it is completely okay to walk out of a movie that is a total dud. We were party to these boycotting experiences many times. I mean, Mom even pulled us out of All Dogs Go to Heaven because she said it was just too weird, and I think there might have been a scene set in hell to boot. The details are a little fuzzy, probably because we only saw ten minutes of the movie.

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Hubba hubba

An example of Redford in his best years.

Women in my family have a deep-seated appreciation for movies featuring Robert Redford in his prime. The mention of his name usually results in someone patting her chest and murmuring, “Be still, my beating heart.” Even Gram has been known to be susceptible to Redford’s charms. I know this because she took most of us grandkids to see The Horse Whisperer about four times – and he was way past his best years at that point.

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It wasnt this one

It wasn't this one

On the night to which John and I attribute our first real meeting, we went with several friends to see a truly awful movie. I had agreed to go with the group before knowing what the movie was, or else I probably would have backed out. However, I accompanied them anyway. John was my saving grace. He talked to me through the whole thing, much to the frustration of some others who actually wanted to hear what the characters were saying. Did I mention that I love John? I’ll have to flesh this story out more another time…

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Tom Hanks = good war movie

Tom Hanks = good war movie

Dad has gone to see just about every war movie that has come out in the last fifteen years, I think. He loves their strategy, history and bravado. When Saving Private Ryan came out, there was great controversy over whether or not we kids could see it. So, always the sacrificial lamb, Dad took Uncle Mike to see it first, as a screening measure. They then agreed that we could come to see it, as long as we covered our eyes and ears when they told us to. And to this day, after seeing this movie multiple times, I still have not watched or listened to any of those forbidden parts.

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Most embarrassing movie theater moment

What can I say? I was inspired.

What can I say? I was inspired.

The Nutcracker was made into a movie and came to our theater when I was young and apparently quite uninhibited. Mom took us kids to see it, but of course, no one else did – which meant that we had the movie theater completely to ourselves. Now, when you combine a wordless movie featuring ballet with an empty theater, the result is inevitable – an awkward young girl is going to dance up and down the aisle and across the front of the theater… until she realizes that other moviegoers have entered the theater unexpectedly late and are looking at her in confusion, while her family members are up in their seats and on the verge of keeling over from laughter.

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I married him for his luck

January 8, 2009

If you are not convinced that John is lucky by knowing that he married me, this story is sure to remove all uncertainty. He is a lucky guy.

Tony and Robin, my wonderful in-laws, had a rule in their household about video games. That rule stated quite basically that video games were not allowed. This policy caused John and Ben great frustration, but the rule was clear and immovable.

One fateful evening, John’s family went to the movies together. The movie theater just happened to be holding a drawing at that time for an item much coveted by any young boy – a Super Nintendo. Of course, every kid in the theater except John and Ben was scribbling his or her name onto multiple pieces of paper and jamming them into the drawing box in a vote-early-and-vote-often fashion.

Inevitably, John asked his dad if he could enter, and wisely, Tony told him that he could enter once. So he did. And he won.

Out of all the double dipping kids who stuffed their names into that box, John was the one whose number came up. What a lucky, lucky duck.

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As only we can say it…

January 5, 2009

I think every family has their own way of talking and expressing themselves. You spend so much time together that you are bound to begin sounding alike. As Shannon and I have grown older, we have begun to realize how much like our mom we talk. During conversations, it is inevitable that at some point two or more of us will say the same thing at the same time, without meaning to.

Some particular phrases, jokes and remarks are just inherently a part of my family’s way of communicating. Here are a few of them – they may make zero sense to anyone else, but for us, they have all kinds of cultural and nostalgic meaning.

Great googly-moogly

Do you know how the Deheckaya Indians got their name? Because they were always saying, “Wheredeheckaya.”

Say it a few times – it’ll start to make sense. We usually parlay this joke when we are searching for our car in a large parking lot. Not sure why…

I think I’ll have the fish tonight, just for the halibut.

This one always reminds me of Dad. Probably because he laughs the loudest when it is said.

Fruitcake!

Adam once screamed this out after a mistake during an indoor tennis match. That was a great moment for me.

Well, ding on your head.

I had (have?) a tendency to brag on myself. I believe I attempted to one-up Shannon about some feat I cannot even remember anymore. The usual response to this kind of behavior was for the other person to make a halo with her hands to signify how sarcastically angelic the speaker was. Shannon must have felt that the hand motion wasn’t worth the effort and tried to express her sarcasm with only words instead. The above comment was the result.

It is now a classic.

Feeling like an egg?

I will not attempt to explain this one fully. Suffice it to say that Mom and Dad were feeling a little frisky one morning while Mom was cooking breakfast, and all three of us kids were subjected to their idea of humor.

If any other family witticisms come to mind, be sure to let me know!

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Rememory Friday 3

January 2, 2009

Courtesy of Jen at Conversion Diary

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One of the worst memories I have of Christmas preparation in years past was the tradition of wrapping the handrails in our stairwells with fake ivy. There are several reasons for my hatred of this holiday ritual. First, I was often in charge of doing the wrapping of the ivy around the railing. Second, the ivy was super scratchy and painful to the thin, sensitive skin of my young hands. Third, we had two stairwells. Last, with the handrails encased in plastic, scratchy, awful stuff, no one was able to use them. It was a security risk of serious proportions.

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The best part of our home school day was when we would gather around Mom in the living room while she would read “literature” to us. The books ranged from Little House on the Prairie to Cheaper By The Dozen. We did try a few books which we ended up not finishing. One was The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew – Mom said it had too many adjectives. That was a-okay with us, since the book was pretty boring . We really wished Mom had felt the same way about The Illiad.

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Most families hang their Christmas stockings on a mantle in hierarchical fashion. Well, we had that second part, but we totally disregarded the mantle. Our fireplace was made of uneven green-gray bricks with not even a hint of a nice wood mantle for stocking hanging. So we compromised – we hung our stockings on an unsuspecting wall. It seemed normal then, but now it just seems random.

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My cousins Adam and Aaron had a tiny little bear when they were growing up. Adam referred to this diminutive family member as “bear” (pronounced BAY-er). He apparently had little opposable thumbs which could be made to grasp things. For each holiday, they dressed him up in corresponding little hats and coats. A green hat and shamrock jacket for St. Patrick’s Day; little Santa hats and red and white coat for Christmas. He would even carry little gifts around. Now that is what I call serious holiday decorating – I’ll bet they didn’t have any terrible ivy wrapped around their banisters.

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Have I told this story already? I may have… well, if so, we will see how close I can make this second dose to the first.

When John was little, he was a complete gentleman to everyone. He was superbly polite to strangers and acted grown up most of the time. One of his parents’ favorite stories to tell about him is the time he spotted some neighbor children playing in the yard next to his. Wanting to make friends and establish new playmates, John used his sweetest, most grown up voice to get their attention. At the age of three, he called out, “Children! Children! Come play with me!”

My John didn’t need advancing years or impressive stature to call it like it was. They were, in fact, children – just probably older children than he was.

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It has always been pretty important in my family to have plenty of food and drink around. To back up that claim, I will tell you that for as long as I can remember, we had a refrigerator which we referred to as the drink fridge. Since the fridge was constantly stocked with sundry tantalizing juice and soft drinks, our parents had to come up with some rules about how many cokes we were allowed to have each day (and by cokes, I mean anything carbonated, not just Coca-Cola Classic). If my memory serves, the rule was no more than one a day.

Now, before the rule was established, multiple cokes per day was common. Therefore, the rule was actually an improvement on the state of things. However, there are some who might think that this rule allowed for a bit too much extravagance where cool eats and frosty treats are concerned. I realized this one day when Ben and I happened to be chatting with a home school mom in the community and for whatever reason told her about this one-coke-a-day rule. It effectively ended the conversation – she stared us down in shock, then gave a little laugh, then walked away. And that is when I knew that we were total black sheep.

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So, I guess you have noticed that Rememory Friday popped up a little late this time. But, it is still technically Friday, with two hours to spare. Suffice it to say, I have been a little slow getting back into the swing of things. Better luck next time!