Posts Tagged ‘Shannon’


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?


Crush (Volume 1)

March 12, 2009

What fools we were, according to Ben. Everyone can remember having a crush as a youngster, and while not everyone enjoys reliving those days, I have decided to dredge up some good crush stories from our family and to smear them on the Internet for all to see and know. Fortunately, my family is good-natured enough not to mind… at least, most of my family. Some members who will go unnamed refused to give their permission for me to blog up their childhood crushes, and to them I say, Hmph.

For those of you who are more willing to divulge some great crush stories, please notice that this post is entitled “Volume 1” in the hope that you will be willing to share your own crush stories for a “Volume 2”. After reading, you should definitely click on the Share My Own Memories tab on the right and send me a tale of long lost (or found) puppy love. The stories that appear below can be your inspiration.


At the age of fifteen, John considered just a few things to be irresistible. One of them was basketball; one was Star Trek; and one was smart girls. While working at a pharmacy part time, he got to know a pretty cool chick who had just graduated from college. Yes, your math is correct – he was about six years younger than she, which is a lot when you are fifteen. This chick’s name was Robin, which I find interesting only because it is also the name of my amazing mother-in-law. No matter how good the name, if you can avoid ending up with someone who shares a name with one of your parents, that is a huge plus. Anyway, neither Robin’s age nor her name deterred John, because Robin had been an English major in college. That was all he needed to know. They spent time at the pharmacy filling prescriptions and discussing literature. I do not know if Robin ever knew of John’s fancy for her, but I will be always grateful to her for instilling in John a particular affinity for English majors.


Lots of names come to mind when I think of my childhood crushes. There was Gabe, the cutest guy in my first grade class. His mom was also our librarian, so that was another selling point. Then there was Steve Green, whom I once beat in a foot race at church. Flirting was his specialty, and I found it came pretty naturally for me too. There was also Josh Harris, the renowned Christian relationship speaker and writer. I got so into him while reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye that I wrote in my journal about how I needed to stop looking at his photo on the back cover of his book. Ah, but none of these came close to my passion for Steve Baldwin. He was in high school when I was around the age of six, and I thought he was all that and a bag of chips. Every Sunday at church, he vowed to me that he would wait for me to grow up… I did not realize how creepy that sounded until much later… But when Steve up and married a gorgeous girl named Annette, I remember feeling a little betrayed. After all, he said he would wait.


Ben had lots of crushes to choose from as well. Tory is the one who stands out for me. They both went through a brief period of liking each other when they were about seven-ish. All of the adults thought this attraction was adorable, even long after Tory and Ben described themselves as “over” each other. It was during this post-crush phase that Ben starred in a church play as the character Small Fry, a Bible nerd with a bowtie and thick glasses. Tory’s grandmother insisted on taking photos of the not-so-happy couple after the play, plunging them into deep embarrassment.

The one girl who probably had the greatest influence on Ben’s crush life was Lauren Heinz. It was Lauren who caused Ben to experience a very rare introspective moment in his busy childhood. Sitting in Joyce Knight’s Sunday school class (the epitome of Ben’s social networking in fourth-fifth grade), and not paying attention to the lesson, Ben was struck with an epiphany. He clearly remembers thinking, “I am nine years old now. It is probably time for me to start liking girls.” Up to this point, his interactions with girls had consisted of teasing them, hitting them with Bibles, calling them fat, and so forth. “Time to make a change,” Ben thought. “So… who in this room is cute?” Shoot. The cutest girl in the room was Lauren, and she hated Ben’s guts for all the mean things he did to her on a regular basis.

That day, he approached Lauren and apologized (sincerely?) for all the things he had done, then asked if they could be friends. Lauren hesitantly shook his hand and agreed, wondering what this kid was up to now. And so began a three-year long crush, during which he secretly asked her out not just once, but three times, and was secretly turned down each time. Guess it is not such a big secret now. Ben, I have to say – you’ve come a long way.


Out of all of us, I think it is safe to say that Shannon has the most unusual and fascinating crush stories. Of course, the common, sentimental fare is there, such as the time in second grade when she carved Alex Minick’s initials into her bedroom window. Now, over twenty years later, Alex’s mom is Shannon’s supervisor. Itty, bitty, tiny world, huh?

No, I am not talking about those cute little stories – I am talking about some of the most interesting men I have ever met or heard of seem to gravitate to Shannon like cat hair to my new furniture. Some of those narratives have been officially stricken from the list of bloggable topics, but there is one remaining that I think should never be removed from the annals of family memory. That is the story of Haider.

Haider wanted to marry Shannon. He had never met anyone as beautiful as she was; the problem was, he had also never met Shannon. Haider chose her for his life partner while shopping in a Half-Price Bookstore where Shannon and Mom also happened to be spending Shannon’s twenty-fourth birthday. He stared at her intently while she browsed the aisles but couldn’t work up the courage to speak to her until she was in the parking lot, about to leave. He ran out to the parking lot and asked them to wait before getting into the car. With Shannon and Mom there by the car, he poured out his heart, saying that Shannon was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and that he would like her to go out with him. Needless to say, Shannon was flattered but cautious. Mom was even more cautious and decided to take the offensive by asking him if he was a believer. He stuttered something like, “Uh, yes – yes, I believe.” Shannon agreed to take his number and meet him at Starbucks the next morning.

The Starbucks date gave a little more insight into who Haider was. He was Morrocan, I believe – Shannon might need to correct me. He had two houses (although I think one was in Daytona… if you’re going to spend money on two houses, put the second one someplace cooler than that). He knew seven languages. He was Buddhist. He was an entrepeneur. She never learned what he actually did for a living, and while the houses and languages were impressive, the difference in religion was the real kicker. Though they did not meet again after that semi-date, Haider continued to call Shannon for awhile after that when he was in town. I hope he has moved on by now – I am pretty sure Shannon has.

I love this family.

I love this family.


Rice Krispies & Razor Blades

February 26, 2009

Our family generally kept Halloween low key, as in, Mom would put me in the bathtub early on October 31st and then ask while she scrubbed, “Sarah Chelle, do you want to be a ballerina, a nurse, or a dog this year?” Those were the costumes we had, and therefore those are the only choices I remember having. By the time the hand-me-downs reached Ben, there were slim pickings.

Creepy McCreeperson

Creepy McCreepers

Mom and Dad were always a little wary of celebrating this holiday at all, what with the Druids and goblins and Halloween mythologies that required much overlooking. One particular year really cinched it, though. We ended up trick-or-treating a house that I am sure would have given the creeps to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

To make the situation more ironic, Shannon and I were both dressed as pilgrims. No one ever said that we kids fit in during those years… Adam went trick-or-treating with us that year too; he was a clown, complete with wig, white and red face paint, suspenders, and lots of jokes to tell. I’m having trouble remembering Ben’s costume… Was he a ninja?

We visited Gram’s house, of course, and she was ready with lots of candy. Since she lived on a quiet little dead end street, we figured there would be no harm in just making a circle around it and calling it a night. At the end of the street lived some serious die-hard (get it?) Halloween supporters. In order to catalog all that they had going for them, I will need a bulleted list:

  • Intricate costumes – these people didn’t just slap on wigs and carry brooms. Their witch costumes included fake warts, green face pain, grossly long fingernails, and black, billowing witch dresses.
  • Ghosts – there were ghosts sticking up out of the ground as well as ghosts hanging in the trees. Ghosts of all shapes and sizes.
  • Music – eerie music played from a tape recorder that they had extended from the house and placed in the middle of the yard.
  • Photography – Yes, they took photos of us. They told us we were adorable – how did they know we were so susceptible to flattery? I’m not sure they knew Shannon and I were pilgrims, and judging from the enormous, black, traditional pilgrim gowns we were wearing, I’m not sure I blame them. Then they asked to take photos with us, and we naively stood there while they put their hands on our shoulders and posed. Weirder than weird.

The one benefit to come from this visit, or so Adam thought, was that instead of cheapo candies for their guests, the Halloween junkies had gone all out and made us genuine rice krispies treats. After the photo-taking, Mom whisked us away as fast as she could and piled us into the van to go home.

And tonight we have a decadent rice krispies treat, garnished with a razor blade. Enjoy.

And tonight we have a decadent rice krispies treat, garnished with razor blades. Enjoy.

As the reality of the experience sank in, she issued an order – no eating the rice krispies treats. At that point, Adam had the treat in his hand and was poised to chomp down, so of course he objected and asked why. Mom’s response could not have been more effective at meeting her objective. She told us that the treats could very well have razor blades in them. (!!)

Mission: Keep the kids from ingesting possibly poisonous, dangerous treats.

Status: Accomplished.


Ben’s suggestions

February 24, 2009

In response to my plea for suggestions, Ben came through with the following list, posted on my Facebook wall:

memories suggestions:
– i would say fishing, but maybe i should just call it “counterproductive pole entangling”
– GI joes/barbies
– did we try to talk with forks in our mouths at dinner sometime? also the food fight.
– that one stupid cat we had. oh wait, not a memory yet. yet.
– Legos
– the last time we went trick or treating
– shannon stalking shane the priest
– playing tennis or “war-ball” with adam p.
– our family’s educational vacation to gettysburg (the suck)
– also getting gifts on any family trip
– movies we watched, like scamper, scruffy, humania, disney movies (hahaha he’s got a knot in his tail), wilderness family
– imitating ice skaters in the living room, complete with roller skates, and of course the classic family line uttered by yourself
– any crush that any of us kids had. haha what fools we were.
– going to wesley and singing “when we all get to heaven” or “i don’t know what you came to do”

that’s all i got for now but i’ll let you know if i think of anything else.

These are excellent suggestions, every single one. I have therefore decided to work down through the list, excluding only those stories that might embarrass my sister unnecessarily. Thanks, bruh-THER!


Etymology of a bus

February 12, 2009

My mom was half homeschool mom, half errand runner during our formative years. We spent quite a lot of time in the car, so much so that we became absolute fiends at some of those great riding-in-the-car games. One of our favorites was counting woodies (that is, those cars with the faux wood strip across the side, most popular in old station wagons). Woody counting got to be a pretty competitive endeavor.

But I am losing my way here. Before we were old and mature enough to keep ourselves occupied with travel games, we entertained one another by waiting for someone to say something, then jumping at the opportunity to make a correction to that person’s statement. Ben was often a prime target for such corrections, since he was just learning how to talk in the first place. On this particular occasion, both Shannon and I got to censor him. Double whammy.

Gazing out the window of our burgundy van, Ben noticed a big, yellow, you-guessed-it-already bus. Thrilled, he exclaimed in his little kid voice, “Look, a bup!”

I was on it. With my adorable lisp, I corrected him, “Ben, it’s not a buuuup, it’s a buth!”

Fortunately, Shannon was old enough to know how to pronounce words and to have outgrown any lisps she may have had. She turned around in her seat, gave us a smart, knowing look, and said, “No, it’s a BUS.”

Now that the story is in writing, it doesn’t seem too exciting. Nonetheless, I still get a kick out of it every single time.

Thanks to Shanny for this suggestion!


Sackloth and Ashes

February 9, 2009

Anyone who has been home schooled has a number of stories to tell about their mother’s creativity for conveying concepts. Personally, I believe that my mom could win an award for her ingenuity. Could and should.

Our study of King David’s reign is difficult to forget. We started out by reading about his life and times, probably listening to lessons on tape or watching a video about him. I specifically remember learning about the most tragic parts of David’s life and the way he responded by weeping in sackloth and ashes. The three of us kids felt we had a decent grasp of the wise king’s reign, but apparently, Mom thought we needed to have a more personal experience of it.

Therefore, she whipped out some burlap sacks with holes for our heads and arms. It was a real “Aha” moment – now we really understood what it meant to weep in sackloth. Unfortunately, the Scripture we were studying specifically said that David wept outdoors, in the street, or perhaps in front of the temple. That part is a little hazy. Regardless, Mom marched us right into the bright outdoors and had us sit down at the side of the street of Jerusalem, aka our driveway.

Since our back yard was clearly out of sight of any potential passers by, we were content to sit there wearing our potato sacks and pretending to weep and mourn like David did. That is, until Mom added the final piece. We unsuspecting kids crouched in the yard while Mom walked off toward the house, then returned holding a huge gardening shovel and the ash bucket from the fireplace. She proceeded to dig out a heap of ashes and dump them directly onto Shannon’s head. Choosing Shannon first was strategic – if Shannon had seen what was coming, she never would have stuck around to experience it. Ben and I, on the other hand, were pretty mesmerized, and we sat there in surprise while Mom dumped ashes on our heads too. We even have photos that she took while we assumed our most agonized poses, perhaps even the same ones David did.

Shannon did not join us in our sackloth and ashes photo shoot, by the way. We lost her as soon as she was covered in soot. I can honestly still remember the tenor of her voice when she screamed out, “Mom?! I’m out of my conditioner!” Mom patiently reminded her that David went through this same thing, to which Shannon responded as she flew into the house, “Well, I’ll bet he had conditioner.”


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.