Posts Tagged ‘Becky’

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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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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.