Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Inspirational Songs

Last night on American Idol the theme was "inspirational songs." The best thing about American Idol is picking out what songs I would sing (and--okay--what I would wear). Inspirational songs is tricky. I was sure the Beat-Box Guy would sing Man in the Mirror. I love that song. He didn't. He did a crappy Imagine. The Justine Timberlake Guy sand Clapton's Change the World and was good. The girls were all way better than the boys but I can't remember any of the songs. You'll Never Walk Alone, I think.

Anyhoo. What would I pick? Well, for true spiritual inspiration, I'd want to pick something from the solid old hymnody. But I don't think Crown Him With Many Crowns or Lift High the Cross would go over well with the judges. (We sang the latter last week during communion and I could hardly stay in my seat. Why would we sing that SITTING DOWN?!) Nor would something by Luther or Martin Franzman.

But here are the songs I thought of--probably none of which would go over on AI, which is just fine. Maybe if they have Singer-Songwriter Idol (SSI) these would be big hits. These are just a few that came to mind. I'll keep adding to this list if I think of more. I'd love to hear what you would sing.

Echoes --Dar Williams
The Only Way -- Mark Erelli
Hardtimes -- Stephen Foster
Seeds of Peace -- Mark Erelli
Let the River Run -- Carly Simon
(I have no idea what this song is about, but I've always loved it)
(my brother had this album and the b-side had the version I linked to here with everyone speaking. we listened to it over and over and over. i haven't heard it in years and i could speak along with it "hello, this is sara from bananarama....")
God Believes in You -- Pierce Pettis

Monday, April 23, 2007


Below is a timeline of the events surrounded the untimely death of our dear Sparky. Thursday was an insane day to begin with and then--surprise--pet death. Ugh.

7:30 a.m
Phoebe feeds,waters and pets Sparky.

8:00 a.m.
I walk Phoebe and Mo to school. Ollie and I spend the morning running errands, playing, etc.

12:00 p.m.
Ollie and pick Mo and Zip up from school. Kindergartners have a half day due to Kindergarten Round-Up for next year's crop of kiddos (including Oliver).

12:15 p.m.
Mo, Zip and I take Ollie to school.

1:00 p.m.
Mo, Zip and I get Ollie from his classroom and walk him down the hall to Kindergarten Round up.

2:00 p.m.
Mo, Zip and I go to DQ for ice cream.

3:15 p.m.
We pick up Phoebe and Ollie from school.

4:20 p.m.
Mo goes out into the backyard to play and comes running in screaming "SPARKY IS DEAD!" Everyone goes tearing outside. Sparky is, indeed, dead inside her doghouse (if anyone is reading this without background info--Sparky is a duck. You can read more about the ducks here.) I like to think she didn't feel well and went to go lie down in bed. There is a dark yellow substance smeared on her and the hay in the doghouse--it's yolky. She hasn't laid an egg in a month or two--after laying one egg every day for over a year. We fear her death had something to do with egg production, but we're no poultry experts so it remains a mystery.

4:25 p.m.
I call Paul and he comes home.

4:30 p.m.
Zip's mom picks her. She is sad but fine, however, her mom later reports that she looses it once she gets in the van.

Paul and I start digging a hole in the garden.

4:35 p.m.
We tearfully lay Sparky to rest. Phoebe, Mo and I have a good cry. Moses refuses to put dirt on top of her. Between sobs he says, "It just seems so mean. If she were alive we'd never do anything like that to her!"

4:45 p.m.
Our friends, the Vondies, arrive to pick us up for a trip to Lincoln to hear David Sedaris read. We bought tickets a year ago. Such, such bad timing. How could we know? Jean also arrives, lucky lucky Aunt Jean, who gets to babysit the grieving, crying children. Phoebe gets in bed and cries herself to sleep. Jean wakes her up for dinner. They all draw pictures of Sparky and make lists of the things they love about her. Phoebe writes Sparky a letter.

We have a delightful time in Lincoln. Sedaris is hilarious and read only one essay I knew--and that was Jesus Shaves--so, how cool is that? We meet our friends who also went, but didn't sit with us at Starbucks. I call and check on the kids a couple times.

Friday 7:00 a.m.
I wake up Moses for school who sits bolt upright and says, "I'm supposed to feed Sparky this morning, but it doesn't matter!" I call our neighbors to let them know so they can tell Annie before she goes to Kindergarten and hears the sad news there. Everyone is sad. Everyone loved Sparky. We wondered if our neighbors would complain about ducks in the yard--but Sparky was a neighborhood hit.

7:50 a.m.
I go over to school without the kids and tell their teachers the news. All three of them kept saying how they were going to tell their teachers, but I thought I'd give a heads up.

4:00 p.m.
After school and snack we go out into the garden and lay a stone which reads "Our Beloved Pet" on Sparky's grave along with flowers and trinkets.

While Mo gives the most dramatic response to Sparky's death, it's Phoebe who feels it most deeply and misses her the most. She, more than anyone, cared for Sparky and enjoyed her company. Ollie is very practical, "I can't take her to school for farm week." "I don't have to shut the gate anymore." I don't think we'll get another duck. It was a lovely chapter in our life to have silly ducks for pets, but chapters end. Farewell, Sparky. Rest in peace.


I just ordered this from Amazon with a gift card we got for Christmas. Thank you Aunt Ellen and Uncle Dave. If you are not familiar, please click on over to netflix or call your local video rental establishment/public library/whathaveyou and get your hands on the best tv show ever. Seriously. Every single episode made me 1)laugh hysterically 2)cry. When we got to the last episode I was completely beside myself 1)because it was so so great and 2)because it was the END and I hated to let these characters go.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

internet access

I am writing this post from Hastings Public Library. I am a Library Board member (Vice President, if you must know) and I use the library all the time but I've never been on the computers. Ollie is upstairs at story hour. I brought a book and a crochet project but I don't feel like doing either. And anyway, this is good practice.

Good practice for what, you ask? Here's the story. Paul and I share a cell phone. We have a land line at the house and one cell we use for long distance and for one of us to take with us whenever, though neither of us usually carry it around. If Paul's going birding, he'll take it. If I'm going to record at Todd & Cody's (they DON'T have a land line, so no one could reach me there) I'll take it.

I mentioned to Paul that when I start school next year we might want two cells. I will probably want to have one with me. Since I'll be on the go, from class to class, to work, probably to field work in a classroom somewhere it would be nice and smart to have the phone with me--if the kids' school calls (you know, head lice, rocks in the ears, whathaveyou). But it would be hard for Paul to NEVER have access to it--no long distance, no way to call for help should he get stuck down some muddy country road while birdwatching over lunch. Two phones might be nice. I refuse to say necessary--it would be nice and convenient.

So then our thoughts turned to how to pay for this added nicety and convenience. Give up cable? Oh, yeah. We don't have cable to give up. Give up the land line? I'm not ready to make that leap.

Having a common phone number is important to me because of it's impact on our family, and my marriage. I have friends with no land line and two separate cell numbers. When I want to call them I have to choose whom to call. In some cases, I am closer with , or have more business to discuss with the husband than the wife. No big deal. If I was calling a home phone either one of them would answer. If I had something to discuss with the husband and the wife answered I would get to talk to her first and then ask to speak with the husband. But with cell phones I end up only having contact with the husband and it could happen that the wife would never know that I had spoken to him. Again, in and of itself, it is no big deal.

Especially, as I am not now, nor do I plan ever to have an affair, this is no big deal. But I can see how easily it could become one. Technology increasingly provides avenues of privacy that we haven't ever really had before.

I remember talking to my friends or boyfriend on the phone in the living room with my whole family in there watching tv. Eventually we got a really, really long coiled handset cord that would stretch down the hall, not quite into my room--but at least I could sit at the end of the hall with my back against my closed bedroom door. Now all the high school kids in my Sunday School class have their own phone. They can talk to whomever they want, whenever they want about whatever they want and their parents have no way of controlling or monitoring or being in the know whatsoever.

Husbands and wives can have entirely private lives conducted over cell phones and the Internet without the other knowing. I have a yahoo account that's my "dummy account" for when I have to give an email address, so spam doesn't come to my regular account. It's how I log onto blogger and myspace and whatever. Paul may not know what that address even is. I could have a whole email centered life, if I wanted to, that he knew nothing about. That's creepy.

As it is we have a joint primary email account. I like this. I don't read his email. He doesn't read my email (do you? :) ). But when I get an email it's right there in the inbox for him to look at if he wanted. I have nothing to hide. It's like a little safety net, should we ever need accountability, there it is. If for some reason I felt insecure or threatened by...I don't know...a bunch of emails coming from some birdwatching lady in North Dakota...I could read them if I wanted. I think I'd find a boring (subjective term, I know) list of rare birds spotted this spring, but I could look if I wanted. And when my guy friends email me, Paul sees it in the inbox. I like that openness.

I have no reason to be suspicious. I'm not in the least. I have no reason to be worried. I am not in the least. And I never have been--because we have always had that sort of openness.

Another thing (in italics because I'm adding it later): answering the phone when it is not for you chit-chat is important. When my mom wants to talk to me, if she called my cell and not our family number, she would never talk to Paul. Same goes for any extended family. Paul's brothers wouldn't call ME, in most cases, unless it was for something specific, and that would be rarely. But when they do call for Paul and I answer I get to talk to them for a few minutes. That is important. That is how we stay a family and keep in touch.

So we will keep the land line.

Plus, our kids will want a phone to use. Phoebe has started calling friends and making plans. She and Moses LOVE to call time and temp. I feel like if we had only cell phones, they would be less likely to get to practice those small, basic, very first phone calls. Sure, they could dig my phone out of my purse...but the phone sitting on the counter is much more accessable. And they are learning how to ANSWER the phone when it rings. I sometimes forget that these are skills kids have to LEARN, but they do and they are important life skills. I would not pull the ringing cell phone out of my pocket and hand it to Mo to answer. Maybe people do. I can't picture it. I imagine a generation of kids growing up NOT using the phone (because there isn't one on the counter accessible to them) and then when they are twelve or something, suddenly, they have their OWN cell phone, which they can then use with no monitoring without having ever learned phone etiquette, or appropriateness, or...maybe this is all in my head...but these are the things I think about.

But something has to give if we are to afford two cell phones. Paul suggested ditching Internet access, which seemed TOTALLY ABSURD to me at first. No Internet. Wuh huh? Impossible. But if Paul is at work all day with a computer and I am at school all day in class or working in the learning center/computer lab--couldn't we get all our computing done during business hours? And if not, the church IS right across the street. Plus, if I couldn't get on the Internet to stare at Craftster and TMZ, think of all I could accomplish.

Of course, then we'd have to use our "dummy" email accounts as real accounts, thus getting rid of the open and shared email inbox of which I just spoke so highly. Or we could get a shared dummy account, but that almost seems like taking it to far....or not?

Thursday, April 12, 2007


What could be better than a 50 cent, 1970's, 100% acrylic, JC Penney ski sweater? It's weird to need it in April but I'm pretty pleased with this find.
By the by, did you know there is no longer a "cent" symbol on my keyboard? I guess there never was one on my keyboard--it wouldn't have just dissappeared--so, I mean, on your keyboard? On any keyboard? Are we so over pennies now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

calling for back up

Right now I am (obviously) sitting at the computer in my basement office. Moses is screaming himself silly upstairs on the top bunk. Everyone else is at mid-week classes at church.

It's been a long afternoon. Mo had a field trip today, which I think wore him out. He was upset at dinner because he didn't get the chair he wanted. Why not? Because he got mad a week ago and threw that chair down and knocked a screw out so the seat fell off. I haven't fixed it yet. He says the other chairs hurt his back. No one else seems to mind them, but he does, and threw a fit over it.

And then I wouldn't give him his dinner plate because he hadn't unpacked his lunchbox. On Tuesday morning when Easter break was over I went to pack his lunch and found the left overs from THURSDAY'S lunch. Gross. Initially the rule was you don't get snack after school until you've emptied the lunch box. But after school is such a chaotic rush that I always froget to enforce it--so now it's no dinner. He freaked out. He told me I was being mean. He said I didn't seem very sorry that he was crying. I told him I wasn't sorry I was sticking to my rules, but I was sorry he was so sad about it. Of course emptying his lunch box took about 30 seconds and then he got his dinner--but he cried for 20 minutes about it.

Then it was time to leave for church. Moses had a book in his hand and I asked him to put it down. He said he wanted to bring it. When I told him no he launched into another fit. I told him, "We don't take anything to class with us. It's one more thing to keeep track of AND your teacher already has your class all planned. You won't have time for that book." It's another sort of standard rule. You don't take stuff to class. You don't bring toys in the store. Not something crazy I just made up. He looked at me like I had personally insulted him.

The fit continued as we crossed the street. Oliver and Phoebe skipped off to class Moses skulked in the hallway. I said I wasn't leaving until he went into his class room. He skulked. I stood there. He skulked. I heard his class starting up. I tried to coax him in. I tried to make small talk to distract him. He skulked. I offered hugs and kisses. I cracked jokes. Skulked. I finally said, "you can go to class or go to bed." He skulked. I repeated myself. He skulked. I said , "you can choose or I will choose for you. which do you want to do?" Skulked. I said, "I'm counting to three. You choose by three or I will choose for you." I counted. He skulked. I calmly took him by the hand and marched him back across the street.

He's now in his bed screaming. Still. It's been twenty-five minutes. I'm starting to feel like an ogre. I'm doing the right thing here, right? (Now is the time where you affirm me. If you think I'm crazy, save it for another day. I am in need of affirmation here, people.)

Monday, April 09, 2007

He is risen indeed!

We had a lovely Easter. After successfully getting through and hour and a half long tenebrae service with the kids on Good Friday, I was feeling a little cocky. I thought we'd try the Easter morning sunrise service. I dragged the kids out of bed at 6:10 am, they through some clothes off and we went across the street for the 6:30 service. Paul read the preface to Walt Wangerin's Ragman, which is a resurrection narritive, as his sermon. It rocked. We sang Easter hymns (but because the sunrise service is a small crowd, we only got through two communion hymns before communion was done--stopping just before I Know That My Redeemer Lives, darnit!) We said, "He is risen! He is risen, indeed!" We brought back out the alleluias with gusto. The service started in predawn darkness and by the benediction the joyous light of Easter was shining through the stained glass, spraying color on the walls. We had breakfast in the fellowship hall. The kids and I went home for an hour (during the 8:00 service) and watched cartoons and then back for Sunday School at 9:15 (it pays to live in the parsonage!). We came home, hung out, had lunch. When Paul got home (after the 11:00 service) we hunkered down for nap time. No one ever wants to take a nap, but since we were up at six I thought we'd try it. Phoebe slept like a champ. The boys did not which meant Paul and I didn't really either--it was a rest anyway.
At 3:30 I got up and put the ham in the oven. We decorated eggs. Paul made gin and tonics. Jean and Gus came over. While the kids cleaned up the basement the grown ups hid the eggs and then we had our hunt. I guess normal people do this on Easter morning but that's just impossible for us--we've always done it at about 5:00 Easter evening. We don't even bother with the Easter Bunny--how would that work? He snuck in during the hour between the time they decorated the eggs and hunted for them?
We had dinner (yum!). Took a family walk. Had dessert (yum! Thanks, Jean!).

We keep teasing Jean because last week when we started making Easter plans she said, "Easter isn't Easter without family!" You can imagine Paul's response. "Really? Really, Jean? There's no Easter without family? So what? Jesus stays in the grave? What about the widow and the orphan who HAVE no family? No resurrection for them?"

While I firmly believe nothing could keep Jesus in the grave, it IS nice to have family in town to celebrate with.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

what AM i gonna do with all that junk?

more nonsence.

this song is ridiculous. its ridiculousness is pefectly showcased here. i've always like alaniss morissette. enjoy.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Last night somebody had a serious flatulence problem and handed her father this note while he was talking on the phone. I get the giggles everytime I think about it. I woke Paul up because I kept laughing in bed. What kind of grown ups are these kids going to be?

"Your going to be smelling egg saled for a wile."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


1) I got my official PPST scores in the mail yesterday. I scored higher in math than writing.

2) Lately, when the kids start fighting and it gets to the point where one might punch the other, I've taken to pumping my fist in the air and shouting, "FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!" like all the idiots circling 'round in junior high used to. This has three results. 1) I crack myself up. 2) I make the kids mad at me instead of each other. 3) They stop fighting.

Palm Sunday was April 1st

Last week we watched ET as a family. We thought about going to see The Last Mimzy, but Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 54% which didn't seem to warrant spending $25 admission (plus snacks) for the five of us to go. Instead we decided to go rent ET (97%).

I remembered going to see it in the theater with my family and our neighbors. We had a bunch of neighbors with kids the same age as my siblings (I was the youngest at home AND on the block) and we all did everything together--vacations, movies, whathaveyou. We all went to see ET. It was summer. Everyone liked it. Everyone cried. And I sobbed. I bawled. I remember being packed in the hot sticky Aspen station wagon with a load of older kids and crying my eyes out while they rolled theirs at me.

I looked at the production date on ET. It was 1982. I was a second grader, just like Phoebe, who, like her mother, cried like a baby on my lap when ET told Elliot to "be good" and boarded his space craft. It is still a fantastic movie. Go watch it.

Sunday morning we were eating breakfast before church. Paul was long gone to the office and the kids and I were sitting around the table just like every Sunday.

Phoebe: Hey, Mom. In ET when Michael's friends are making fun of Elliot and asking about his goblin and Elliot says he's a spaceman and they don't believe him...? Well, the one guy says, "What planet is he from? Uranus? Uranus? Get it? Uranus? Ur Anus? Get it?" And he laughs? Remember that? Well, I don't get it.

Emily: (taking a deep breath, stalling to think and keep from laughing) I will explain it to you, but you should know that it is kind of a naughty joke. (the children's eyes light up) Uranus is a planet in our solar system. There's Earth, Mars, Neptune.. (Phoebe starts singing a song which names all the planets, pronouncing Uranus with the accent on the first syllable, not the second)..exactly. So the kid asks if ET is from Uranus, which is a planet. But the word "anus" is the hole in your bottom...where poop comes out.

Children: (mouths and eyes as big as saucers, laughing) What?!?!

Emily: So he is making a joke--a pun--on the words anus and Uranus. It sounds like he is asking if he is from Uranus, which is okay and not funny, but what he's really saying is "is ET from your anus?" (confused faces, not quite getting it) "Is ET from your bottom?" (slightly amused, still not seeing what the big deal is) "Is ET from your butt hole?" (and they all fall apart, half horrified, half delighted).

Moses: (now running in circles waving his spoon above his head) Bad word! Mom said a bad word! You can't say that!

Emily: I know! Phoebe wanted me to explain the joke. I told you it was naughty. But can you see how that is funny? (They all nod, unsure if it is okay to admit seeing the humor). Yes it is funny, but naughty, and not a joke WE will make.

Oliver: If his Mom heard him say that he'd have to go to his room.

And I was left thinking, as I often do, "this is my life? really? it is MY job to explain these things? and I'm doing it with a straight face?" I felt like this was my April Fool--having to explicitly explain the Uranus/Your Anus joke.

I did play an April Fool of my own. We had had a talk about April Fools--about how we like NICE jokes. We like happy surprises, not anything that is going to make people mad or hurt feelings. "Because, kids, if you play a mean joke on your friends, what will your friends want to do?" In unison: "Play a mean joke on you!" Sometimes I feel like I'm the host of some demented children's show on PBS ("can you say 'anus' kids? repeat after me!").

I bought angel food cake and frosting. I added food coloring to the white frosting until it looked as close to American Singles as I could get it. I sliced the angel food thin, melted some butter in a frying pan, and whipped up some faux grilled cheese sandwiches. It was convincing. Of course it was convincing, I read about it in Martha Stewart Living. My sister-in-law, who dropped by after church only said, 'that cheese is weird color" but Paul stuck an elbow in her ribs.

Unfortunately, the frosting was dripping and Moses licked it off his fingers before I could orchestrate everyone taking a bite at the same time. They all examined their sandwiches and licked their fingers and Phoebe said, "April Fool?" Phoebe and Mo had a good laugh and couldn't believe it was cake and not bread--it looked just like bread! But Ollie never stopped to say anything. He was too busy cramming that cake/sandwich down his craw.