15 November 2007

Even Webster's Dictionary Would Be Stumped

Charis is clear-speaking and articulate enough that it's sometimes easy to pretend that she knows all the words in the English language. She'll surprise us every once in a while with a word whose origin in her life we just have to ask about: "Where did you hear that word?" She always thinks briefly and replies: "Um, I can't amember." Actually, that's her standard response for any question whose answer she doesn't know, as in this conversation:

Me: What did you do at Gopher Buddies tonight?

Charis: Um, I can't amember.

Me: Did you have a snack?

C: Um, I can't amember.

M: Who was the 16th President of the United States?

[I bet you know what's coming.]

C: Um, I can't amember.

She has also taken to copying our verbal mannerisms, as in this exchange:

Abe (brushing Charis' hair): Wow, you really have a lot of knots this morning!

Charis: Yes! Can you just imagine?

And then there are the un-definables. Usually, she slips them into a longer, otherwise coherent sentence where they might easily go unnoticed. Very often, they're almost-words that you assume she must have simply mis-spoken. When pressed to define these words, she always has the same explanation, as seen here:

Charis: . . . And then we're going to go visit baby Levi, who is my cousin just like Gideon! And I will have a neetie.

Me: A neetie? What's a neetie?

Charis: (sighing) It's just a silly word, Mom.

It's just a silly word.

Of course.

Today, in the car on the way back from Bible Study, I asked her if she could tell me some other "Silly Words."

"Um," she replied, "I can't amember."

14 November 2007

Fall Family Picture Gallery

More Fall

For any kid, one of the great joys of Fall is leaves--kicking them, throwing them, jumping in them--and I wanted my kids to experience that joy. So, one beautiful, warm Fall day, we went outside with a rake and I swept up some big piles for the kids to jump in. They loved it!

Here's Judah tackling Charis....

And here's Charis returning the favor!

Here's Judah relaxing in the fallen foliage...

And Charis finding her own comfy spot!

I was also able to persuade the kids that it would be fun to pick up leaves and load them into a wheelbarrow. Once the (toy) wheelbarrow was full, Judah took it for a spin around the backyard, in the process dumping out all of the leaves. So much for raking!

12 November 2007

Boycott PBS!!

Well, stupid PBS. When a handsome couple with a phenomenally adorable baby offers you a chance to put them on your program, you should do it. You're PBS! Aren't you trying to lower your demographic so your viewers don't die off take their pledges with them? What better way to attract young viewers to your programming than to show a young couple and their child--the new generation of antique collectors? What better way than to air the footage you have of a cute family displaying their family treasures--including their child, clearly the most valuable family treasure at the roadshow that day??

Fie on PBS. You never had my pledges, and you never will.

Here's what we said, and it may be cheesy, but please admit that it was better than what so many others had to offer:

"I'm Abe..."

"And I'm Cori...and these silver treasures that we brought with us aren't worth very much, but this tiny treasure [holding up the phenomenally adorable child] is priceless."

Now, seriously, if you were the producer of the show, how could you not put that on? It's 10 seconds of cuteness! Surely you can bump the old lady with the worthless horse doorstop to show a baby human of inestimable value.

Dumb PBS. Your next educational program could be on the tragedy of missed opportunities. We will be available for taping, should you so desire.

Viva La Bank Girls!

This weekend was a whirlwind! Abe had the kids Friday night and they spent Saturday with his mom as I attended my choir "retreat" at church. It was a great chance to do some intensive work on Christmas music, and on Saturday, we ran through the whole program and I got my first chance to see my script acted out--the actor did an amazing job, and it was a little bit emotional for me to hear my words spoken by someone other than me.

After the retreat concluded on Saturday, I drove to Champaign, Illinois to join a Bank Girl Weekend that was already in progress. The Bank Girls are the girls that I lived with during my senior year in college 9 long years ago. We lived in, well, a renovated bank. (Thus the clever name.) There are 10 of us that still regularly get together once or twice a year: this weekend, Marcy and Tiff were unable to attend, but the rest--Sarah DV, Ellen, Sarah M, Blaza, Ann, Stephanie, Noelle and I--were there, and man, did we have fun. Stephanie was our host for the weekend. She is currently working towards her PhD in History at the University of Illinois, and of the Bank Girls, she is the friend with whom I have the most shared history; we met when we ran track together in our freshman year of high school (we never made that mistake again), roomed together in Olson Hall, room 144, and lived together at the Bank. We have now officially been friends for 17 years!

Here are some highlights of the weekend in IL:
  • Thai food. I have been craving it for quite a while now, and it was great to have people to partake with. I had the Pad See You with Beef. Yummmm...

  • Blaza getting drenched with ice water while waiting for her thai meal.

  • The three-hour drive to the Thai restaurant that was only actually 5 miles away from our hotel. Steph is still learning her way around Champaign/Urbana...slowly.

  • Baker's Square Pie. I had Cherry. Blaza had Apple. Everyone else had some sort of Chocolate or Chocolate/Peanut Butter. (because apparently we were still hungry after stuffing ourselves with Thai food? Of course, when we get together, food rarely has anything to do with hunger)

  • Staying up late talking and reminiscing about the Olden Days. And laughing so hard we almost wet ourselves.

  • Blaza chasing down our retreating cars on foot as we unexpectedly switched restaurants on her.

  • The Mall with Ellen. {Though here are the elements I did not enjoy: 1) The sparkly, effeminate, foreign man ("More turkey, Mr. Chandler?") who massaged stinky Cherry Blossom lotion into my hands and then threatened to spray me with scented glitter so I could be sparkly like him, 2) The long and confusing trek to find a bathroom so I could wash off the stinky lotion, 3) The overwhelmingly poopy smell of the bathroom once I got there, and 4) The lack of towels in the bathroom, whose absence required me to wipe my stinky wet hands on my pants, thereby giving me wet pants.}

  • Cooking with Steph. She was planning a little dinner party at her studio apartment and making some very special homemade sauce, stuffed manicotti, meatballs, and strawberries and ice cream. I'd be lying if I said it all came together smoothly; I'd be telling the absolute truth if I said that the whole experience was a comedy of errors that had us laughing so hard we were crying.

  • Catching up with my dear friends. There are all sorts of things happening with us right now, and probably the best part of the (short) weekend was getting the chance to break into smaller groups and have more intimate, meaningful conversations.

It is amazing the we are still friends after all these years. I hope these friendships will endure for decades to come!

07 November 2007

Well, we're just gluttons for Fall, apparently. Had we already been to a pumpkin patch/apple orchard for Fall treats? Yes. Did we decide to go to a different one, just for fun? Well, sure. We hadn't taken the Daddies with us the first time, and they need donuts and cider just like the rest of us, so it was only fair that we bite the bullet and head out--yet again--to let them enjoy Fall's bounty. Sigh. The things we do for the people we love...

This particular farm was better than the first: for about 9 bucks, we all got in and had permission to do everything except the Corn Maze (planted to look like Gerald Ford, may he rest in peace) and the ground trampoline (a broken neck waiting to happen, I think). This included a Wagon Ride and a whole bunch of other stuff. Let's take a look, shall we?

Here is Judah enjoying the Mountain slide. It's brilliant, really: it's simply a long piece of some sort of pipe anchored to a hill. Inexpensive, and a big hit with the kids! Charis and Gideon each went down 4 or 5 times, and Judah went down twice. The first time, I didn't know he was coming, so I didn't know to catch him. Poor kid hit the bottom like a lead sled. Fortunately, there was plenty of soft sand to cushion his fall.

There was also a snow-fence maze for the kids to go through. They loved it! It had the adventure of the corn maze without the frustration and fear. We all did it--even Elise. And we all made it through to the end without incident. Unless, of course, you count the fact that somewhere in the middle of the maze, Judah learned how to use the word "down" and kept falling just to give himself an excuse to use it in its proper context.

Another highlight was the Hay Bale Mountain. The kids climbed on it for about 15 minutes--longer than you'd imagine a pile of hay might keep them occupied. Charis even decided she was the Queen of the Mountain, threatening to squash all dissenters.

Doesn't she look scary?

Part of the fun was that this wasn't just a pile of hay--oh, no. There were divots in the hay, perfect for hiding (kind of) and planning surprise attacks. Don't kid yourselves; there were plenty of surprises.

Here's Judah hunkered down in his foxhole, stealthlike. He's a ninja warrior, that one. Look at that fierce look on his face.

Grrrr! Hi-ya!

Just kidding. He thought the hay was loads of fun. If I had any use for 35 bales of hay, I'd build a Hay Mountain in our backyard for the kids to play on. Sadly, I don't.

This is Charis taking the helm (as far as she knows) of the Pumpkin Train. Charis, Gideon, and Judah rode this bad boy twice. Abe, ever the handyman, and inspired by His father's resourcefulness, immediately began planning how to make some of these cars to pull behind our lawn tractor. It's basically a 50-gallon drum, some wheels, and a kiddie chair; totally doable for my metal-working husband. Perhaps next year, when we've got the addition all wrapped up. Or maybe the year after that. This addition is taking forever.
After that, we loaded up on donuts and cider and hopped on the wagon for a "hay ride"--minus the hay. I took some pictures, but it was getting dark and I was loathe to use the flash, so they didn't turn out very well. But you've been on wagon rides; you know what they look like. I'll let you use your imagination!

But now, alas, the cold has hit. Gone are the sunny, 60-degree days that make for a pleasant Fall. I have a few more Fall pictures to tide us over for a couple more posts, though, so keep a lookout for more of my Homage to Fall!

05 November 2007

Just to Tide You Over

I have several posts in me, but haven't had the time or energy to write them, but I promise I will do so soon. In the meantime, let me share this small Charis anecdote:

As part of our construction project, we have acquired and installed a new steel exterior door. This is cause for much celebration, because the door that formerly separated us from the cruel outside world was a flimsy door that was never meant for use as an exterior door. We did have a steel door, once upon a time, but that was before the demolition, so it has been some time since we've been able to enjoy the peace of mind a good, strong door provides. Even after the new door was installed, we did not lock it--we had no keys. A small complicating factor, right? So I continued to lock the interior door, and life continued as normal. But then Abe replaced the knobs and deadlocks (for which we did have keys) and, without notifying me, removed the old house key from my keyring and replaced it with the key to the new door.

So shortly thereafter, I took the kids on an errand, locking the kitchen door as usual. When we returned, I breezed past the unlocked steel exterior door and stood at the kitchen door fumbling with my keys. I know it's here somewhere...my house key should be right here... I thought. Alas. It was not there. Because Abe had removed it, and it was sitting inside on the dishwasher. I did what any submissive wife would do and called my husband to yell at him. "Did you take my key without telling me? Did you TAKE it? And leave me with no key? NO KEY? HOW--HOW am I supposed to get into the house?"

He mumbled something about forgetting to tell me he had exchanged keys and how he had decided we weren't going to lock that interior door anymore.

"Well, what am I supposed to do? You know what? I am coming to your work to get a house key. We'll be there in 10 minutes." I said.

"You can't," he replied. "I don't have a key to that door anymore." He paused. "You could kick in the door, I guess."

I dropped the phone like a hot potato, I was so angry. Then, with my children watching in horror, I channeled that anger began kicking the door. It took me about 10 tries before the wood around the lockset finally splintered and I kicked the door in.

Now we really don't need keys for that thing anymore.

Several days later, the kids and I were returning home from the library. I had obediently locked the steel door and left the kitchen door unlocked. I unlocked the door and Charis went in first, with Judah and I trailing behind collecting library books from the car. We arrived inside to find Charis standing at the kitchen door, kicking it furiously.

"Mama, this door will NOT open!" She said.

And even now, if she makes it to the door before I do, she doesn't try the knob. Oh, no. She just kicks it. I may have scarred her for life, but at least she will never be locked out of the house.