Posts Tagged ‘Tom’


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.


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.


Being Saved in the 90’s

February 22, 2009

Dad loves to preach. That statement is not just a leftover from some tumultuous teenage years (I really did not have any of those, except when I was first learning to drive… that was tumultuous for all involved.) Seriously, my dad really loves to speak from the pulpit, because at his heart, he is a teacher. His sermons are the results of hours of research, study, prayer, and thought. We all enjoyed listening to Dad’s sermons, mostly because of one in particular that we had the blessing of getting to hear multiple times.

That sermon was entitled, you guessed it, “Being Saved in the 90’s”. First of all, it bears the most fun title of any other sermon I have ever heard of (unless you count Josh Harris’ messages as sermons, I guess). Second of all, since the sermon ventured into things-that-are-wrong-with-our-generation territory, Dad had to tread a fine line between being specific about cultural problems and using words that were not allowed in our house.

While making the point that there are elements of our culture that you don’t participate in if you are truly saved in the nineties, Dad gave the example of a popular movie which had just hit theaters. In order to keep his sermon G rated, he referred to this popular movie as “Beavis and… his friend”.

And we will never, ever allow him to forget.

Beavis and His Friend

Beavis and His Friend


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.


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!


Wisdom Search

November 30, 2008

Character Sketches

Character Sketches

When I was in early grade school, Mom and Dad decided to enroll the family in the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization dedicated to strengthening families and spreading the gospel. One of the requirements of being an IBLP family was to have a daily family devotional time, called Wisdom Search.

Now that I think back on it, the name strikes me as very cheesy, but at the time, it was simply a normative part of life. We would generally read a chapter of Scripture, often Proverbs, and then a chapter from the Character Sketches books or Dad’s latest favorite treatise on Wesleyan holiness. At the end of our devotional time, we would all kneel down at Mom’s big white couch in the living room and pray.

The problem with Wisdom Search was that it had to take place before Dad left for work, and he left for work around 7:00 AM! On top of this, Mom and Dad were very committed to keeping us all healthy and wanted to start the day off by going to the downtown YMCA as often as possible. Many weekday mornings, our parents would rouse us before 5:00 a.m., crowd us into our seven-passenger van, and force us to work bleary-eyed through a workout at the Y. Then it was back home to get dressed and meet for Wisdom Search in ten minutes.

By the time we sat down to search for wisdom together, Shannon was usually mad as hops, and Ben was perfecting his ability to sleep without looking like he was asleep. That left me, the pleaser, to try to jump in and answer all Dad’s many, many questions throughout Wisdom Search until I became resentful of my siblings’ cop-outs. Then we would all get quiet. Fortunately, that was about the time to finish off with prayer anyway. We all secretly hoped for Dad to volunteer to do all the praying at the end.

After we grew up and our schedules changed, we began to refer to that white couch as the family altar. Several confessions, encouraging words, and heartfelt petitions emerged while we knelt there. Even though we now say “Wisdom Search” with a bit of a tone, we are grateful to have the memory of it (unless you ask Aaron, who joined us for many of them but, to my knowledge, does not consider that to be a happy memory!)

I do not know whether IBLP still requires family Wisdom Searches or not, and I do not know whether my family will participate in them some day, but I did want to jot this part of my family development. At least we know that if any of us kids do institute Wisdom Searches for our families in the future, Mom and Dad still have the Character Sketches for us to use.