September Song

January 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kathi Macias –

September has always been my favorite month of the year. Seriously! Even—especially—when I was a kid. Yep, I was one of those “nerds” who loved school and couldn’t wait for summer vacation to end so we could get back into the classroom.

Most of my friends and both of my little brothers thought I was nuts. They were more like those two kids in the Staple’s commercial who drag up and down the aisles, looking like they just lost their best friend, while their dad leaps and dances through the store, tossing school supplies into his basket before racing toward the check stand.

I’m one of those people who, given half a chance and unlimited funds, would be a perpetual student. I absolutely love the challenge of learning a new topic and then acing a test on it.

And that’s another reason my younger brothers weren’t all that wild about September. They would show up in a new classroom and, as soon as the teacher spotted their unusual last name, hear her declare, “Oh, you must be Kathi’s brother. We’ll expect great things from you this year.” 

Groan.

As I progressed from grammar school to junior and senior high, I also loved the excitement of running for (and usually winning) a spot on student council. Entering the science fair was another treat because it meant I could spend my evenings and weekends working on my project while my brothers did silly things like playing outside or watching cartoons.

(Did I mention I was a firstborn? A type-A personality? An over-achiever? No? But you already figured that out, didn’t you?)

All well and good…until school becomes a thing of the past and real life happens right in front of you. Then what?

My husband and I married young—very young. Eighteen, to be exact. And we did so in the month of September. In the two years that followed, we had two babies, thirteen months apart. For the very first time in my life, I realized I did NOT know everything, nor was it necessarily fun to try and learn. Diapers? Are you kidding me? That was definitely before the days of disposables. (You don’t even want to go there.) Sleep deprivation? I set a new record that even “Sleepless inSeattle” hasn’t come close to breaking.

You know the one thing I did learn during those first couple of years? That a human being who weighs less than my head and can’t even sit up can at the same time absolutely take over the lives of two adults. Throw a second pint-sized person into the mix, and life as we knew it was over.

There were times during those early years of non-stop diaper changing and midnight feedings that I didn’t think I was going to make it. Suddenly straight-A averages and honor roll listings didn’t mean much. All I wanted was to be able to sleep more than 30 minutes at a time and to be able to eat an entire meal in one sitting.

But before I knew it, those years were behind me. Now, as another September is upon us, I look back on those early years with nostalgia. If I had them to live over again, which ones would I choose—the years where I couldn’t wait to get back to school and learn something new, or the years when I witnessed my child’s first smile or heard his first word? Hands-down, the sleepless years with my little ones.

September is a good month to reflect on the past…and to prioritize the future. Perhaps that’s why the Jewish calendar starts in September, rather than January. I’m approaching this September with a song of praise and thanksgiving in my heart and on my lips for all that God has blessed me with through the years. I encourage you to do the same.

Yes, I Homeschool

December 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Jodi Whisenhunt –

I homeschool. OK, that’s not the funny part of this column. Then again, maybe it is!

I’ve been at this task since 2000, so you can say I’m no newbie. We’ve done many silly things in the name of learning. We’ve studied entomology while pulling weeds from the garden. We’ve made breadstick numbers to go with dinner. We’ve learned about the water cycle when filling the pool (again). But I never cease to be amazed at the crazy ways people object to what we do.

  • “Your kids won’t know how to socialize.”
  • “You kids will miss out on proms, football games, and dating.”
  • “Your kids won’t know how to stand in line.”
  • “Your kids won’t know to raise their hand to speak.”
  • “Your kids will be with you all day long.”

My children have never had trouble making friends or maintaining friendships. They hang out with kids of varying ages, even with some who go to regular school. Weird, huh?

My teen has attended Homecoming. There are area homeschool proms. We have several large athletic organizations where we live. In fact, the HSAA (Home School Athletic Association) Dallas Angels Varsity baseball team won the national Home School World Series this past spring!

Dating varies by family, of course, but my son does have an active social life. He is also a leader in his church youth group and writes his own devotional blog for teens, with some posts directed specifically at dating and relationship topics.

I’m really not sure the relevance of learning to stand in line or to raise your hand to speak, but I’m pretty confident that if my kids were in a situation that required either of those activities, they’d be able to follow the rules.

Now, as for my kids being with me all day long…why is that a bad thing? A well-meaning neighbor whose kids attend public school (and who thinks summer break is excruciatingly long) told me, “I don’t know how you homeschool and stay home with your kids 24/7!” One time all three of my children caught swine flu on a week we were to have a family gathering. When I called to cancel plans with my sister-in-law, whose kids attend private school, she said, “It’s weird how y’all caught that. You homeschool!”

Um, we do leave the house. We do go out into the world. We do take classes. We attend coops, museums, performances. We—gasp—grocery shop! We even eat out and vacation too. Some of that is done together, and yes, some is done apart. We look upon the time we have together as priceless, precious moments. My husband and I choose to be the ones to guide our children into adulthood, to be the ones responsible for their upbringing. We choose to fulfill our God-given duty to “train a child in the way he should go.” And we also choose to continue to walk this path as long as the Lord allows.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And this is how.

Not the Apple of My Eye

December 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Emily M. Akin –

I hate apples. Not because they were used to tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden. I hate them because I was over-exposed to them in childhood. I wouldn’t call it a traumatic experience, but it was close.

My grandmother, who lived right next door, had an apple orchard. It produced enough apples to feed all the world’s starving children and armies combined. But, we had to eat them or preserve them with no help from the rest of the world.

When apple-picking time arrived, all the kids in the family were enlisted to pick, transport and preserve the apples—thousands of them. Peeling, coring, cooking, slicing, drying—it went on for days on end. We ate apples sauced, baked, spiced, canned and chopped in salads. Apples were on the ground around the trees, in baskets on the porch, soaking in salt-water baths or waiting to be cooked. Even the top of the well house sported a layer of cored sliced apples drying in the sun.

I tried feeding some to the cows, but they were not interested. The apple orchard was also their pasture, so I guess they were tired of them too. Finally, I realized that I would be going back to school soon. The apple harvest could continue without me, and I would get a break from handling and eating apples.

On the first day of school, I picked up my lunch tray and started down the line. (Back then, you ate what they served, no picking and choosing allowed.) When I glanced down at my tray, my mouth fell open. In the little pocket on the left was Waldorf salad with little red apple peels peeking out at me. Where did they come from? Oh, no! My grandparents had sold their excess apples to the school lunch program.

Years later, when my budget was tight, I would have welcomed a basket of free apples. Why do we not to appreciate our abundance when times are good? Like the Israelites in the desert, we complain that we have too much of one thing or not enough of another (Numbers 11:4-6).

I still choose the “un-apple” when offered a choice among the fruits. And, I admit I hold some resentment in my heart for Johnny Appleseed. I mean, what motivated him to force apples on everyone? But, I’ve wised up. If apples are the only thing on the menu, I thank God for what He has provided.

With Two You Get Eggrolls

December 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Kathi Macias –

I can’t remember if the “eggrolls” title above was a book or a movie, but my dad was famous for saying it every time he took us out for Chinese food (which wasn’t often, as people ate out a lot less often in those days—took too long to harness the horses to the buggy, you know).

Seriously, with Mom and Dad in the front seat and us three kids in the back, we’d have the “eggrolls” discussion long before we arrived at Hissing Dragons. “Let me do the ordering,” Dad would say (as if that were a novel suggestion). “I know how to get the most food for the least money, including free eggrolls. So just keep your mouths shut until the food arrives.”

Since all I really cared about were the fortune cookies, that wasn’t much of a problem. But fifty-plus years later, I realize how much of my dad’s training has stuck with me. My husband absolutely adores Chinese food, so we go out to eat it fairly regularly. The minute we sit down and open the menus, I start looking for specials—two-for-one, buy-this-and-get-that-free, etc. I can’t tell you the times I’ve ordered something I don’t even like just because something else I don’t dislike quite as much comes with it.

Old habits die hard, as they say, and my 90-year-old mom is the proof of that. In the facility where she now lives, she shares her meals with two table-mates, Rita and Laura. The three of them compare notes about health, families, activities (or lack thereof)…and food. That, of course, is a big one. My mom actually called me the other day to complain that they served liver and onions for dinner, something she refuses to eat.

“So are you still hungry, Mom?” I asked in response. “You know, I left some sandwich items in the refrigerator in your room. You can ask your caregiver to help you make a sandwich.”

“Oh, no, I’m not hungry,” she assured me. “I seldom eat what they serve for dinner anyway because I’m still full from lunch.” (That’s not surprising because they finish lunch at 12:30 and go back down to the dining room for dinner at 4—just long enough in between for an afternoon nap.) “It’s just the principle of the thing,” she explained. “I hate liver and onions, and I thought you should know that’s what they gave us for dinner.”

Sigh. I’m never sure how to handle that sort of situation, so I usually just change the subject. But as much as she despises liver and onions, there is one meal at the facility that ranks at the top of her favorites list: eggrolls. At last twice a month they serve eggrolls (along with a few other items) for either lunch or dinner, and Mom always calls me to rave about them. But the last time she had them, she also had a revelation that really rocked her world.

“They give eggrolls to everyone,” she said, amazement evident in her voice.

“And why wouldn’t they?” I asked.

“Well, I just assumed I got them because I share a table with Rita and Laura, but today I noticed there were a couple of people sitting at tables by themselves, and they got eggrolls too!”

It was nearly too much for her to comprehend, though she quickly added that it wouldn’t be fair if they didn’t get them. After all, it was sad enough that they sat by themselves at mealtime; there was no reason to punish them further by depriving them of eggrolls.

I’ve learned a lot watching my mom age, and not just about eggrolls and who’s entitled to them. I understand a little better now that the Scriptures tell us that the death, or passing, of God’s people is precious in His sight. And it isn’t limited to that one moment in time when a believer takes that last breath and departs for heaven. It is the sometimes lengthy process, that cutting of earthly ties so we can finally soar into God’s presence. Barring some unexpected event, Mom will probably get there ahead of me, but I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if, when I arrive soon after her, I find she’s already sitting at the banquet table, sharing eggrolls with my dad. Something tells me they won’t mind if I join them.

Take My Zucchini, Please

December 3, 2019 by  
Filed under Humor, Stories

By Lynn Rebuck –

It’s that time of the summer when I don’t know what to do with all of the zucchini growing in my garden. We cannot eat it as fast as it grows.  It seems like the innocent plants I bought at a local greenhouse and planted in my yard went from zero to zucchini overnight.  And it’s not only that these plants are prolific.

If you turn away for a second, the normal-sized zucchini that was on the plant a moment earlier grows to gargantuan size.  Now what am I to do with it?  I’ve given zucchini to the mailman, the dentist, and every person that walks past my house.  The other day I chased down a jogger just to provide one that he could use to ward off stray dogs.

My family has endured every culinary variation of zucchini.   I have made zucchini mousse, zucchini gelatin, and zucchini cupcakes. Those didn’t go over well with the 6-year olds at the birthday party.  I invented the zucchini split, complete with three scoops of zucchini ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry tomato on top.  I do make one recipe that my family likes. I bake a combination of banana bread and zucchini bread.  I call it “Bikini Bread.”  The recipe is on my website, www.LynnRebuck.com.

I’ve even tried paying my debts with zucchini. The other day I handed the clerk a large zucchini to pay for my groceries.  She handed me some patty pan squash as change.

If you’re also overwhelmed by the abundance of zucchini in your garden, here are some suggestions for what to do with all of it:

Throw a zucchini skin care party, complete with squash facials and a slice of zucchini over each eye to remove puffiness (zucchini is the new cucumber).

Forget about T-ball and sign your kid up for the latest zucchini-inspired little league craze, Z-ball.  One child hit a three-run homer with a homegrown 23-inch zucchini.

Weave some strings through a couple of the broader ones, get a small ball, and play squash.

To deter automobile theft, place a large zucchini across your steering wheel.  Tell your friends it is the new green version of the “The Club,” then give them one for their car.

Make new friends who don’t have a garden.  Give them a zucchini gift basket.

If all else fails, you can do with your zucchini harvest what someone did a few years back with their garbage during a New York City garbage collection strike.  Unable to get rid of it, they wrapped it as a gift and left it in their unlocked car overnight.  Someone stole it.

Remember my new motto: “Speak softly, and carry a big zucchini.”

© 2011 Lynn Rebuck

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