Archive for the ‘Pat’s Family’ Category

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Counterproductive Pole Entangling

March 10, 2010

Honestly, I was the good child. I did not rebel, did not argue, did not want to get into trouble. However, after watching this video, you will see that I still had my ways of misbehaving under the radar. Ben and I did absolutely everything together as youngsters… and on this occasion, I had a lot more fun than he did.

It is a rather long clip, and I apologize for that, but I’m posting it here in its entirety anyway.

Moments to note:

  • Ben gets in trouble before I do.
  • I outright lie to my father (“I’m trying to!”)
  • I give the same lie later.

I admit that I was naughty, but you have to agree that Ben was super fun to tease.

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When we all get to heaven… we won’t have to sing this song anymore.

January 15, 2010

It is no exaggeration to say that we grew up in church. When I think of all the Sunday morning services, Sunday school classes, VBS weeks, Alternative to Halloween events, Wednesday night dinners and choir practices, Santa’s Workshops, and Christian Activity Programs for Summer (CAPS) that we attended, I almost feel as if church was the sixth member of our immediate family. I loved all of those events and formed many happy memories while in attendance.

There are, however, a few church memories that fill me at once with nostalgia and loathing, and those are the song choices of every single music minister we ever had, with the important exception of my now brother in-law (You were the best, David – you know whom I’m talking about here). Honestly, the problem was not just the choice of songs but the unending repetition of each one at every possible opportunity.

One particular music minister loved southern gospel music. For all of you out there who are fans, please understand that there is good southern gospel, and then there is the southern gospel we sang in my church.

Just about every Sunday night, we went to church and sang two songs over and over. The first, When We All Get To Heaven, was supposed to be sung with all of the gusto the congregation could muster. The music minister would get red-faced and sweaty up at the podium as he motioned to his wife, the pianist, to take us through the chorus again.

Another frequent chorus relied heavily on the repeating refrain, “I don’t know what you came to do, but I came to praise the Lord!” That’ll get the juices flowing on Sunday. The best part was when the leader would personalize the song for our church by changing the first line to, “Our church is a turn on church, and I came to praise the Lorrrrrrrrd!” Try singing that and only that for two weeks in a row, and then wonder why attendance steadily dropped at Sunday night services.

By far, the most memorable worship song for our family is The Center of God’s Will. You don’t recognize it? That is because the music minister at that time made it up, which is code for saying that it was his all-time favorite. The defining characteristic of this chorus was the motion it required. It went something like this:

So when you move to the left (congregation steps to the left, therefore stepping out of God’s will)

You’re not where you belong.

And when you move to the right (congregation takes two steps to the right, because just one step actually places us back in God’s will, and that does not fit with the song)

You know you’re going wrong.

You’ve got to GET BACK (congregation steps left again, back into God’s will)

To where you ought to be –

In the center of God’s will for you and me.

I may have gotten some of the non-directional content wrong, but you get the gist. Our family took up almost an entire row each week, and we were distinguished by our half-hearted, somewhat mocking participation in this song. We took the tiniest steps we could take while trying not to out to the rest of the congregation as great spoil sports. Trying and, I’m sure, not succeeding.

Truly, my expectations for music ministry are not incredibly high at this point. As far as I am concerned, anyone who doesn’t make me sing his or her own musical creations in the name of praise music can pretty much stay.

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Trip Gifts

July 20, 2009

As John and I are joyfully anticipating a trip to King’s Island for my birthday and our anniversary this weekend, I am reminded of the many family trips we experienced growing up. The destinations my parents chose are for another post – I do not have the stamina to relive those memories right now. But regardless of where our trips took us, they always started in the same, wonderful way.

My mom instigated the tradition of trip gifts. After the car carrier was loaded and locked on top of the van and all family members were tucked into their corners of the van with pillows, snacks, and backpacks scattered around, we would bow our heads and pray for safety and quality time on the vacation. Then, Mom’s eyes would begin to gleam as she excitedly pulled out a gift for everyone in the car. We all got something special, just for being there.

Probably the best and most memorable trip gift Mom gave out was a Nintendo Game Boy for each of us kids. I cannot adequately express how much we treasured those things. Our Game Boy systems and battery packs were necessary companions on all future trips. Often, Ben and I would load the Super Mario Brothers game at the same time and race to see who could score the most points, get to the furthest level, or simply complete each level fastest.

At other times, Mom doled out gifts that were simply cool but completely unrelated to travel. I received a full manicure kit one year, and I think I still have some of the components in my makeup drawer. Often, we received books by our favorite authors or cute outfits to wear while sight-seeing. It really did not matter much what we got – we just loved the tradition!

Prior to family vacations, the three of us kids would sometimes whisper to one another, “Do you think Mom got us gifts this time?” She never once forgot.

Shannon and Ben – do you remember any other gifts that Mom gave us on trips?

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Just call me Miss Kitty

July 15, 2009

As a Family Studies Master’s student with an emphasis on parenting and child development, I place enormous importance on socio-dramatic play, or as I referred to it as a young child, “pretend”. Make believe play is a way for children to practice life, to develop social skills, and to learn about the world and relationships. It requires a good deal of creativity and imagination, unlike television and even some books do. All right, enough of that – you get the point.

(But if you are my child reading this twelve years from now, you should know that reading this blog is a quality way to spend your time, and you should feel free to read all of the archives. Afterward, however, get your hind end outside and participate in some imaginative play.)

My parents placed tight restrictions on TV and computer time when we were young, and, thinking this was normal, we spent an extraordinary amount of time playing outside. Our games took on many manifestations. At times, we played the politically incorrect version of Cowboys and Indians. We had some inedible berries on our property that, when smashed, doubled as excellent face paint. We played a game we called Prairie Days, because we were overexposed to Little House on the Prairie during the home school years. Sometimes, we just played Pretend Sarah is a Princess and Ben has to Rescue Her. Regardless of the scenario we enacted, I donned flowing gowns that were much too long for me and shawls that bore the stains of overuse. Ben would strap as many plastic weapons on his body as possible, using belts and strings and holsters.

All of this is a mere backdrop, however, to the real issues we had to resolve before pretend play could even begin. The single most important task was to determine what our pretend names would be. If I remember correctly, Ben most often chose Derek for himself – Prince Derek had such a nice ring to it. I unintentionally went the slightly more skanky and ridiculous route, for my favorite pretend name of all was Kitty, short for Katherine. My reasoning was that a) Katherine is a beautiful-looking name, and b) Kitty is even better. I am almost certain I got this idea from the character Katherine “Kitty” Brydon in the 1994 release of The Jungle Book. She was gorgeous, and she got a savage who was raised by wolves to fall in love with her. If only something so wonderful could happen to me, I thought.

Fifteen years later, I am now able to laugh about my foolish, overly romanticized ideas. While I honestly do still like the name Katherine, I am fairly sure that John will not stand to name any of our children Katherine, since I am not sure we could separate that name from the mockery he makes of my former pretend name. I do have to admit, though – a very small part of me still likes that cliche, ridiculous version of The Jungle Book, though perhaps for different reasons now. Cary Elwes as a bad guy?

Meeyowwww…

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Fireworks and Action Figure Martyrs

July 3, 2009
Now I call this patriotic

Now I call this patriotic

July 4th is always a fun time for our family, because it falls right in the midst of forty-eleven family birthdays, which means we are all in a celebratory mood already. Since our home state allows small-scale fireworks, Mom always buys one of those big Wal-Mart fireworks sets. I recall getting scared out of my wits on a couple of occasions when Dad managed to sneak up and pop some of those little snaps right at my feet. Snaps are definitely the most fun Dad has on Independence Day.

You may be surprised to read that the most important and memorable tradition for our family on July 4th is actually not the fireworks. As exciting as the green smoke bombs and unpredictable fountains of sparks truly are, they do not come close to the thrill of watching Ben set up and destroy a random action figure each year. He started out with G.I. Joes that he didn’t need any longer, but as the years progressed, he moved on to bigger and better targets. My personal favorite was the year of the Incredible Hulk destruction. If my memory is correct, we had to use a shovel to remove the green mess from our driveway.

Significant planning and concentration goes into each action figure kill. Ben selects the necessary fireworks early in the evening but waits until all of the other fireworks are gone before preparing his annual masterpiece. There is often some sort of harness involved to keep the action figure steady while sparkling rockets and sprays of fire melt him away. Ben is also the director of the most intricate step of the process, which consists of lighting all of the separate wicks simultaneously. Our store of lighters gets maxed out as three to four family members assume stations and begin lighting at the count of three.

Inevitably, however, one person’s fuse is quicker to light than anyone else’s, and the moment something catches a light and begins to burn, we all desert our posts and scatter faster than roaches at the switch of a light. In reality, this setback is a benefit, because it draws out the process and allows us to take stock of the damage after each blast.

Reader, if you are beginning to suspect that we are savages with rather sadistic tendencies, please give us the benefit of the doubt. I promise we are harmless. Mom, Shannon and I can’t even watch the torture scene in The Princess Bride, which means that somehow we are able to compartmentalize this tradition and keep it from influencing any other part of our lives or time of year.

At the risk of turning this post into a glorified photo album, I will post some photos from one of our more memorable Independence Day Debacles Celebrations. I really cannot help myself. Enjoy!

Action Figure Setup

Its going to be a bad day for this green beret.

It's going to be a bad day for this green beret.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

The bike is in for it just as much as the army guy. Notice the thoughtful placement of all of the fireworks.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

Bombs away! We really hoped this guy would fly up high, then land conveniently close by so that we could see the effects of his firy trip.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

I am reasonably certain that there could not be any more fireworks attached to this guy.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, My brain is fried.

The duct tape you see in this photo stretched all the way up to the rim of our basketball goal. This gives new meaning to the phrase, "My brain is fried."

The Carnage

Getting it from all sides

Getting it from all sides

Motorcycle man is toast.

Motorcycle man is toast.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

Another angle, for your viewing pleasure.

The Shower.

The Shower.

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

The combustion has turned the soldier a lovely shade of gray...

A Family of Patriots

If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a CD of patriotic favorites.
If there were an award for Most Patriotic Family Member, Uncle Mike would get it. He brought his own CD player this year with a compilation of patriotic favorites.

Need proof, you say?

Note: If you have trouble viewing this video, try following this link directly to YouTube.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Mike and Tom, taking a brief break from discussing politics and religion.

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions

Aaron and Mike, both with some of their best facial expressions. I know I never leave home without my copy of Cornerstones of American Democracy, which I believe contains reprints of some of our nation's foundational documents.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Pat, Colleen, and Tenille - I have no idea what was funny here, but I love to see my family laughing.

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Misha will probably never experience another American holiday quite like this one. Love you, Mish!

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildrens antics.

Gram may be experiencing some disbelief at her grandchildren's antics.

Thug life...

Thug life...

Happy Independence Day!

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Running Errands

June 8, 2009

In general, my mom tends to get her energy from her alone time. Not once can I remember herĀ  complaining about being lonely or needing to get out and be with people. She loves having people into the house and has a big heart for her friends and family, but being alone certainly does not bother her.

Except when running errands.

If people could earn degrees for the amount of time they spent running errands, Mom would have her doctorate. She was and is almost always on her way somewhere to do something. When I was between the ages of about ten to eighteen, I pretty much got to be Mom’s errand-running partner. Mom would often come down to where we kids were hanging out and say, “Hey, I’m on my way out the door to run some errands…” Pause. “Does anyone want to come with me?” That was my cue.

Mom and I would ride along silently at times, and at other times we had very meaningful conversations. Occasionally, Mom would ask me what I was thinking about – a dangerous game. I know that I flat out lied at least once, and she could probably tell, but I certainly was not going to ruin my reputation as sweet, innocent Sarah by disclosing to what extent my mind was in the gutter. Another time, I distinctly remember giving Mom a detailed explanation of an unimportant scene from Lassie in response to that question. At least that was an honest answer.

Perhaps all that ingrained errand running is the reason I love riding in the car. Driving is just all right, but if I can jump in and go somewhere with someone I love, I am completely content.

Thanks, Mom, for the good memories!

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What to do in an umergansy.

April 4, 2009

According to a note I found in my school file today, there was a point in the early nineties when I struggled to overcome two unfortunate weaknesses: a propensity to wake people up unnecessarily and incredibly poor spelling. See below:

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

I find that a phonetic spelling of this letter is almost just as fun to read:

“Dear Mom, I’m sorry for what I did. But now I will think abote it! I hope youwill forgive me. (over–>) Hers what dad told me. That I sood not wake pople up enless it is an oo-mer-gan-sy. Love, Sarah”

It is that last fragment that really disturbs me – that is where everything really fell apart.

A closer analysis of this letter leads me to believe that I may have been better off if I had not crossed out whatever I first wrote before that “aboat” nonsense. Also, my attempt to delineate the spacing between “you” and “will” was a valiant effort, but it does not excuse the incorrect conjoining of two otherwise easily spelled words.

Dad, good advice – that was an important lesson to learn. Mom, I hope you declared my spelling a state of umergansy after reading this note. I will now proofread this post twice before publishing it.