Friday, December 28, 2012

Romance in the Santa

I've delayed writing this post for several reasons, not the least of which is my heaviness of heart.  This month has been filled with stories of loss, of pain.  Many families in my community and in communities just like mine are scorched with mourning this December.  It seems careless to discuss the silly things with which my own children fill thier days. 
But ignoring the presence of my own blessings will not ease others' pain.  I am all too aware of the brevity of life and the frailty of children.  Therefore I must notice, I must mark the delights of these little ones that pack my house with yelling and toys.

Several months ago, I bought a large plastic Santa figure at a garage sale.  Normally, I do not like Santa Claus (I know, I know... Grinchy little me) not to mention light-up outdoor figurines, but the kitschy-ness of this jolly old fellow captured my imagination.  I am not sure how old he is, but the seller told me that he had decorated her mother's house for at least 40 years.  Does that make him vintage? I find him charming; my father said he belongs on a porch with a washer, drier and couch somewhere in the hills. Santa never made his way to the attic, but sat in the hallway upstairs waiting for Thanksgiving to end.  So far, Santa has not made his way outside either, but has sat in various corners of our living room, dining room and kitchen.  He's even been known to prank a few people here and there.  See? I knew he holds some vintage charm.

When I was emptying pictures off my camera card, I discovered that I am not the only one unable to resist the Old Guy's charms.  Very carefully, as shown below, my daughters staged a wedding between Willa (newly 4) and Kris Kringle (age undetermined).

Officiated by the bride's older sister, the ceremony was filled with the necessary formalities.

Such as, "you may kiss the groom - after you've wiped off his plastic face."

I love the way she's gazing with pure admiration into his blank, fixed eyes.

The formal pose.  Has she been over-influenced by recent family weddings? Do we watch too many romantic Disney movies?  Is that even possible?
Notice the boxes of Christmas ornaments in the background. It takes us forever to get stuff around.  I wonder how long we have to wait before consigning my new-but-ancient son-in-law to the attic with other seasonal decorations?  He should feel safe for a few weeks after New Year's Day.  We don't do anything in a hurry at this house.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Too Much Information

I like to consider myself a mild conservationist when it comes to hygiene.  Case in point: I have been shaving my legs with the same razor since June.  Only by late November, the process could not honestly be called shaving. 

Today I buckled and replaced June's razor.  Although I don't know why I couldn't wait until the New Year.

Next, I opened a box of band-aids.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting Pencil

I guess he wanted to impart some wisdom for my day.
"Vote..." he paused, searching for an adverb appropriate to the action of voting. 
"Vote hard." He grinned, then walked out the door to his frosty morning commute of two minutes.

Hard? Vote hard? I was planning on voting anyway, but how do I vote hard?

Maybe he realizes how difficult it is to manage the polls with children in tow.  I pretend that it is a learning opportunity.  For the people watching, anyway.
So [most of] the children and I went to cast my ballet at the local K. of C. hall, but I stopped just in time and cast my ballot instead.  That would have been awkward had I arrived in a tutu, not remembering the difference one vowel can make.

It turned out that it wasn't hard to vote, I missed the rush and only met relatives.  [Small town.]  My only concern was keeping my second child from reading my selections aloud in his extremely loud stage whisper.

You know what I love about voting? The feeling of control. Plus, I've always been a sucker for stickers. The stickers last longer, but both are quite intoxicating for a brief moment.  Who doesn't love to be in control? Even if it is just control over one tiny vote.

I am not in control of much these days, which is an unsettling truth.  I was hoping that homeschooling would be a minor lifestyle change for us, but it is major.  And really, although I get to pick out the curriculum, set the schedule, plan and teach the lessons, (as well as serve the lunch!) I'm finding that I really am not in control.  Not in control of my children, not in control of the weather, not in control of... well, anything beyond my own thoughts and emotions. 

Ok. I'm not in control of my thoughts and emotions much either. ;)

Folks, I'm learning to write in pencil when I've always preferred ink.  There is something so permanent, so authoritarian about ink.  But scratch-out marks are so much more distracting and ugly than eraser smudges. 

There's something profound about this, and I ruminate over my writing instrument, my planning tool.  In every situation, I continue to plan, choose, decide.  But, I'm trying to decide in pencil rather than pen.  Ultimately, I don't wield any control and I had better keep myself flexible in my plans, choices and decisions.  I'm casting a vote, but God picks the winner.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's All Over Now

A few days ago my older brother celebrated his birthday.  We're grown-ups and apparently the rules say that grown-ups aren't allowed to make a big deal about any birthday not ending in zero, so we don't often celebrate our birthdays together.  Still, I have always marked his birthday as the end of my summer, just as my birthday (in mid-May) begins summer for me.  When we were children, my birthday meant that I could spend four months saying I was only a year younger than he. But his birthday shoved me further back into the "little sister" area.  That bothered me then.
Happy Birthday, Mokey Doo-Dah. 
Sorry about you being so old.

If you want, I can start keeping track of our age differences correctly from now on.

P.S. Could you somehow communicate to Corey's garden that summer is over? It seems to think that it's allowed to go on and on indefinitely.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Late Summer Joys

{With Willa}
An impromptu sprinkler run
A bowl of sweet cherries
Fresh corn stuck between your teeth
Family outings in perfect evening light

August has ended now, and September has brought cooler mornings and shortening daylight.  Do we welcome Autumn? Yes.  But it's hard to say good bye to our good friend, Summertime.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Complaints Rehashed

On this ridiculously early morning, perspective matters.  I may have to shake my sleepy head a few times to get the thoughts to be more pattern and less confetti, but I'm trying to spin positively, if I must spin at all.
Dear GBaby,
Thanks for the quality time spent clinging to me and communicating through grunts, cries and pointing. Maybe next time we could start this at, I don't know, 6:00 a.m. instead of 4:00 a.m.? Perhaps I'm being too picky, since you are finally asleep and I did get to play a little Tetris when I'd usually just be wasting time with my eyes shut.
Breakfast in a few hours!
Mommy (or Am, as you pronounce it)
I think I almost lost the outlook I wanted to keep in this situation.
Oh yes, here it is.
Dear God,
Thank you for inventing coffee and for not making rules about how many cups a day I can consume.
If I re-examine the recently irritating parts of my life, I'm sure I would find a better way of looking at these situations.
Dear Garden,
Could you just take a break for just a bit on the vegetable production?  I'm a little tired of washing, cutting, freezing, canning. I have other things to do.
The Gardener's Wife
This one is pretty easy.
Dear God,
Thanks for the food. I really like to eat and it is so nice to have nutritious food to give my family.  And thanks for the abundance so that we can expect to eat from our garden this winter.
It's actually embarrassing to admit to irritation over surplus. Pretend with me that I wasn't irritated.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Did you really have to move so far away? We are, you know, part of a family.  I love you and miss you and... I mean, I may have to plead a kidney from one of you someday.  Except that no one else in the world understands coffee love/addiction like we do, so I guess I'll just hope that all of our kidneys make it.  Anyway, I know that our close-knit family of ten has morphed into a squalling mass of people that don't fit into one living room and we're all used to different households and standards of "clean and orderly," but don't we love each other still? Don't we have enough love to overcome the differences and the distances between us?
Sobbing Sister
This one is a little harder to turn around. I miss my family. A buncha lot.
Dear God,
Thank you for providing for all my brothers and sisters, even if that provision isn't close to me. Thank you that they are healthy and happy.  Thank you for letting me love them enough to miss them.  And thanks for creating telephones and the internets and Kleenex.
Ok. Now I'm crying a little bit. But it is ok because the makeup that's washing off is from yesterday.  Can we count tears as part of a facial cleansing routine?
Dear {Guilty} Housework Conscience,
That dream about mice crawling all over the kitchen and my mother calling to remind me to do a load of laundry once in a while was a little bit over the top, even for you.  Could we please just readjust to the season of life we're in now? You know, that season with lots of children too small to be big help around the house and too big to make small messes?  Because I've also got that lack of sleep thing going on.
Love, Sincerely,
The Homemaker
I find this irritation a little bit humorous, although maybe I should find it a bit disturbing.
Dear God,
Thank you for making cats that live on the back porch and guard my house.  And also, thank you that my mother doesn't keep track of when I do laundry.  And incidentally, thanks for the modern conveniences (like dishwashers, indoor plumbing and washing machines) that leave me enough time in the day to teach my kids their math facts.
I have to go attend to those modern conveniences now, but I think I can see a trend in this silly little exercise.  The irritations (and even the sibling melancholy) are not going away, and they may be joined by new annoyances.  Addressing my thoughts to the unhappy situation will not get me anywhere but in the mulligrubs.  However, if I rearrange my thinking toward my Creator, I find reasons to be thankful amidst the exasperating state of affairs.  I think God can handle my complaining. He's big enough.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Love in the Garden

Dear Husband Of Mine:
When I saw these weird carrots you grew in your garden, I thought of us.

We are growing together.
If separated one from the other, we would no longer look the way we're meant to.
 We nourish others.
I realize that it might be an indication of my slipping mental state that I am once again seeing people in vegetables, and I will now trot back to the kitchen and finish peeling and wedging carrots into sticks for our children's lunch.  Good news: unlike our carrot counterparts, no one has plans to skin and eat us.  Although GBaby has been given me some strange looks this morning.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Type A Bee

Do you aspire to be like a frantic little bee, sucking the best things out of life without disturbing the beauty?  A bee is such a do-gooder. 
My ten-year-old son took this picture. I just thought you should know that. 
She steps daintily through the stamens and pistils, seeking the nectar needed for honey making.  Almost as an after-thought, she provides pollination service to the flowers she visits.

Like reading Proverbs 31, watching bees makes me feel guilty about my own laziness.  I think I'm more of a slug type.

For the record, I'd like to point out that bees are also known to deliver a pretty nasty sting to others that get in their way or annoy them.  It is probably because they're so focused on their busy-ness.  I admit, when I'm over-achieving, I get a little mean.  What violence do slugs deliver? Slime?  Ooze?

So I'm not going to feel guilty about my laziness.  We are enjoying the last week of half-day school and by the time lunch rolls around, I feel as though I've used up the next to last ounce of energy I possess. {I bet bees don't even stop for lunch or afternoon coffee.} I feel confident that we're doing a decent job of covering the most basic of elementary subjects: reading, writing and arithmetic.  During the afternoons, we've sprinkled a few important extra-curriculars in: piano lessons, Sauder Village, cookie baking and the like.  {Today I taught my daughter how to steam open a sealed envelope, a life lesson whose importance might very well be questioned in this age of electronic mail, instant messages and the senseless abbreviations we call "texts."}  After labor day we plan to commence our six hour school days. I hope to find myself infused with a bit more get-up-and-go.  But can I become both bee-like and sting-less?  Or is a slug always a slug?

Here. Let this short little snippet of song cheer you up. This is a lip sync video the Man of the House and his children entered into a local radio station's contest.

I know, right? They're just so cute.  I live with this cuteness every day.  If I were a bee type I probably wouldn't notice the cuteness.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Sometimes my brain is so full to the brim, I don't think I can get anything out of it without spilling its entire contents.

And that's when I come up with winning statements like that.
Maybe that 1/2 glass of wine I had with my dinner was 1/2 a glass too many.

Anyway. We My husband and children are making a music video outside and I think they need my expert spectatorship.
Also, I just put GBaby to bed 10 minutes ago and I'm pretty sure that I hear someone waking her up right now.  I'm going to pretend ignorance and see if she settles herself back to sleep. 

I need some chocolate.  If I eat it now, the children will demand that I share.  If I tell myself I'll just have a little snitch of something later, I will forget.

This over-full brain is not helping out.

I think I will see if the hammock is empty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


So we started our own little home-style school today. I'm calling it Brick House Home Education, for obvious reasons.  Our offspring are officially excused from the public schools, so I am not looking for any truant officers just yet.  I am brewing a second pot of coffee just now, in case anyone reading was concerned about the cohesion of this post.  Maybe cohesion is not the word I want; but until I have more caffeine tainting my blood stream, the brain part of me is not working at its best.  This is great for a teacher, even better for a teacher dealing with the truth of the old adage "Familiarity Breeds Contempt."  Adage, smadage is what I say.  GBaby is familiar with me, and also contemptuous of my sleep needs.

Let's just focus on the good parts of today, ok?  It will help, no doubt, if I use pictures.

After our morning chores were completed and our hairs brushed, we started our school day with a Psalm. I blinked back a tear while I listened to their sweet voices read the ancient prayer. They giggled at the line, "I am a worm and not a man," and we stopped to explain that the writer of the Psalm felt like a worm, not that he actually was a worm.  My heart was gripped with a tiny fragment of truth I'd never considered: "Who cares about worms? No one. Except the One who made them. So even though King David felt like he was a worm and no human cared about him, he could know that God still did. That's why he was praying."

"Dad and I care about worms, Mom. Because they're good for the garden."
That's going to be another fun part of keeping them home; they already know something about everything. [INSERT WRY SMILE HERE.]

After the worms in Scripture discussion, we reviewed our plan books, text books, markers, pencils and everything else we could possibly ask questions about.  Then we did a little first-day-of-school journaling, using an adorable printable I found at Positively Splendid.  We measured and recorded our height and weight (and not one child asked me to get on the scale! Winning!) and stepped outside for the obligatory first day pictures.

Fourth Grade!
Third Grade!

First Grade!

General distraction of cuteness.

These are crazy good pictures, right? With everyone barefoot and squinting into the morning sun you might wonder why I bothered.  We're getting professional pictures taken tonight (yay! for photographers in the family!) and I've got a little surprise for them this afternoon.  So we'll have plenty more pictures today.

After our mini photo shoot, we settled back down with our reading and math books. Just in time for GBaby to melt into emotional chaos.  Just in time for my first disciplinary problem of the day.  Just in time for lunch and the back yard sunshine!  Everyone crated their books up, stashed them neatly in the closet that we cleaned out last night (a terrible terrible choice in timing on my part, worthy of its own crazy post) and called it a half-day. 

It is still summer, see? And I'm just trying to ease into this school year thing.  Plus there is that whole less-than-five-hours-of-sleep-thing I've got going on.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Procrastination Cookery

"About an hour ago," according to facebook's accurate time keeping,  I recorded this most inspiring status:
I think it might just be time for a little procrastination in my life.
I followed up with another brilliant idea:
actually, I'm thinking about pairing that procrastination with some ice cream on the side. that really sounds like what I need right now.
And so I walked to the kitchen...

This is the part in my show when all my veg-table-ari-an friends and neighbors might have to change the channel or pretend I am talking about the sweet corn we had for dinner or the fresh tomato and basil salad I made or the mounds of broccoli and purple cauliflower waiting for me in my refrigerator.

...where I remembered the 20 pounds of pork waiting fer ta be pulled...

Also pretend I have not been talking in a thick Carolina accent to which I have never been able to lay claim. I skipped the procrastination and the ice cream and pulled that pork to pieces. Delicious, juicy, fat-laden pieces. Goodness. I hope there is barbecue in heaven.
I am not certain on the theology of eating and drinking in a state of blessed eternal life, but I do recall the book of Revelation referencing a "marriage supper of the Lamb."
Supper is a country word.  Look it up.
Lambs, I realize, are vegetarian, just like the people who aren't reading this post.  Lambs eat grass and maybe broccoli.
But maybe, since it will be heaven and all, we could have Bar-Be-Que on that grass?
Just in case we can't have pork in heaven, not even in the Gentile section, I'm eating my fair share of it here on earth.  Here's how I do it, you can do it to:
  1. Call the meat market.  Get Ask for their best price on a pork picnic roast.  Explain that you think it means a shoulder roast.  Agree to a "boneless butt roast" if it does, indeed, come from the shoulder of the beast. Scrawl their offered price per pound on a scrap of paper.
  2. Call the nearest competing meat market.  Ask for their best price on a pork picnic/shoulder/butt roast.  Scrawl this figure beside the price from the first market.
  3. Note that the two prices are exactly the same.  Call the first place because you gave them such a definition run-around.
  4. Order 15 pounds of boneless pork butt roast (that actually comes from the shoulder) because the lady on the phone says you should be able to get 4 sandwiches per pound of meat. 
  5. Once you've hung up the phone, do the sandwich calculations. 15X4=60.  Realize you need roughly 80 sandwiches.
  6. Call the meat market back and ask for 5 more pounds. Arrange a pick up time.  Profusely offer thanks.
  7. Forget.
  8. Pick up meat early the morning after the pre-arranged pick up day.  Casually, as you are making payment, inquire as to the correct time and temperature to which the meat should be cooked.
  9. While lugging around 20 pounds of boneless pork butt (that actually comes from the shoulder), proceed with a tour of the meat market's portable barbecue ovens and a moderately detailed description of the proprietor's late mother's roasting methods.  Nod politely, taking no notes.
  10. Hurry the meat home. Place in borrowed roaster set to 325. Drizzle with bottled BBQ sauce.  Place lid atop roaster.
  11. Leave home.
  12. Run back in the kitchen to make sure you plugged the roaster into the wall. (You did.)
  13. Leave home again, but for several hours this time.
  14. Re-enter home to the amazing smells of MEAT cooking itself away in your kitchen.
  15. Check the internal temperature of the meat. Sample a piece, if it has cooked to a high enough temperature.
  16. Turn off roaster when your husband makes a remark about overcooking.  Allow the meat to cool to touchable (but not comfortable touching) temperature. 
  17. Forget.
  18. Plan for ice cream and procrastinations.
  19. Walk in the kitchen.
  20. Remember.
  21. Using two over sized worthless forks, remove cooked-to-perfection and falling apart chunks of boneless pork butt (that actually comes from the shoulder) from the roaster and separate out the large portions of fat (save fat for the puppy).  Shred remaining meat using two forks.
  22. Give up on the forks idea and start using your hands.
  23. Place shredded meat in a clean plastic container (an old ice cream bucket works great)
  24. Do you have a problem with people who take their ice cream in a bucket? Are you saying I eat too much ice cream? 
  25. Drizzle generously with more bottled BBQ sauce.
  26. Get over the guilt of not preparing a sauce from scratch and stir the shredded meat until sauce is more evenly distributed.
  27. Forgo even distribution because you're tired of the slick of boneless pork butt (that actually comes from the shoulder) grease on your hands.  Empty remaining contents of BBQ sauce bottle on the meat, snap a lid down on it and bury it in the recesses of your refrigerator.
  28. Clean up.
  29. Or, alternatively, get back to the procrastination.
About that broccoli...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Little Seedlings

Last night it was time to dig up the potatoes so we could use their garden space for other plants.
Quite honestly, the potato plants weren't doing all that well. This is all that one row yielded; completely below the quota we had set. We're heartless when it comes to unproductive plants.  But then, the plants are pretty heartless too.  And bloodless. And spineless. And brainless. And...

 So we set out a bunch of little broccoli seedlings.  Our own little seedlings helped out.

Well, mostly they helped out.

Some of them were downright unhelpful.

And some of them were just there for the entertainment.

And some little Ruffer seedlings were just there to melt their mother's heart.

Ok. All together now: "Awwww." I don't know what I love more, her helpful attitude or her lovely tiara.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

According to Ginger

Food tastes better when thrown from your highchair tray to the kitchen floor.  The dirtier the floor, the more appealing the food.

Being naked is better than being clothed. If mom insists on clothing me, I will accessorize with garments pulled from the dirty laundry pile.  (Dad's underwear makes a great hat.)

If mom is sitting at the computer, it means that she wants to hold me on her lap so I can help her type.

But forget mom's lullabies, this video makes me stop crying:

Warning folks: never wear the underwear without smelling it first. Trust me on this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Before I Run [Out]

Once on Public Television I watched a story on what runners eat the night before a big race.  I need to run a race every week.

Incidentally, I read a few lines from the website where I stole borrowed this picture.  The key words were "benefits" and "sophisticated" so I feel totally good about that large bowl of [plain] spaghetti I just consumed.  I love running for many reasons, but mainly for the ones that include carbohydrates.  Quick disclaimer: I don't know anything else about that website, I hope it's not loaded with food porn.

So tomorrow is that 5k for which I signed up.  I have picked out my little girls' [matching] outfits so they can greet me at the finish line in all their adorable sisterliness.  I'm gonna  totally fool our small town into thinking I have it all together aren't I?

Except for I've tried that matchy-outfit thing before.
And these are my kids.
I'd upload a picture except their father just made some popcorn, and I think that's another carb I should probably load.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Whether Weather

I am not going to complain about the weather.  It has definitely been Habakkuk chapter 3 weather. [Sorry, that was a Random Old Testament Reference.  I like those, but I try not to use too many of them.]
Every morning I greet the hazy dawn and secretly think that this could be The Day that the skies open.  But I have to keep these thoughts secret even from myself because I am tired of being disappointed.  Each night I put myself to bed beneath a whirring fan and say surely this heat must break soon.  See? I'm not complaining.  But I'm really close to complaining, so I'll stop now before I am tempted to talk about the fields around my house.

So it is Vacation Bible School week at our church. Interesting how the songs aimed at reminding elementary kids to trust God are doing the same for me.  My favorite?  An upbeat number that says things like "I will trust in You RIGHT NOW, no matter how I feel RIGHT NOW."
I feel hot and slightly cranky.
I feel worried.
I feel tired.
I feel overwhelmed.
Perfect.  The song also says "I gotta think, think, think, think about the goodness of You, my Lord.  Because I know, know, know no matter how I feel I can trust in You."
Do I run my mind through this obstacle course of feelings (hot, cranky, worried, tired and overwhelmed)? Or do I park my thoughts on the goodness of my Lord?  Because I know
He is good
whether the weather is or not.
I know, not really that profound, huh?  Well, it is a kid song, they're not especially known for their profundity.  Still, I'm not above receiving encouragement from a catchy, repetitive source.
 I love the VBS games leader! Her energy and enthusiasm are only outmatched by her well-placed, child-friendly sarcasm. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Take Me Out of the Ballpark

What have you been up to this summer?  Vacation? Gardening? Family Reunions? Reading? Special educational excursions? Fun, wait-for-summer-time projects? 
Or watching hours upon hours of ball games?

I may be the only mother in town who bought her son white baseball pants.

But it turns out that white baseball pants don't hang on to the stains the way you think they would. It must be something about the artificial fibers.

GBaby has watched been present for a number of ball games.  For her, the ballpark is a great place to catch up on her list of summer best-sellers.  Also, a great opportunity to practice her Stroller-Escape Techniques.

The primary focus of Norah's softball experience this summer has been improving her batting, catching, and throwing skills.

No, not really.  The primary focus of everything when you are a nearly-seven year old girl is hanging out with your friends.  And taking crazy pictures.

She did swing a bat occasionally. And she swings very well.  Almost as well as she talks.  But not quite.

See that incredibly handsome kiddo in the black shirt?

Yup. That's my Sammers.  I bought him gray pants because I wasn't quite sure that the artificial fibers could stand up to the stains this kiddo can invent.  He's pretty nifty.  Not cool, because he's wearing a black shirt to baseball games in 105 degree heat.  But definitely nifty. 

Here's the part where I express my unending gratitude toward all my friends and their older children. 

Thank you for having older kids and bringing them to the ball park.

I do not know how I would have survived this baseball/softball season without your really nice kids and their sharp little gadgets.

I have the best friends and friends kids.  They match up to my kids just perfectly.
Because my kids are pretty much the best.
Even if I have to schlep them back and forth to the ballpark all the live-long summer. 

I'm not really sure what "schlep" means, but I love the way it sounds and the way it looks. Schlep. Schlep. Schlep...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Think I Am, But Maybe I Am Not

I was beginning to doubt my existence, not to mention my citizenship. It's a long story. About 34 years (I think) long.  But
I do exist. 
A lot of people can testify to this.  There are five little humans roaming about the earth (or this small corner thereof) bearing traces of myself.
I have a birth certificate.
I have a driver's license.
I vote in local, state and federal elections.
I pay taxes.
I do laundry and dishes and wipe bottoms and cook and scream at roosters.
I have friends and acquaintances around our small town, 626 facebook friends across the globe and two parents that read my blog when they can find their glasses.
What has been missing to prove I am?

A Passport.

Back in December of 2011, my husband encouraged me to apply for my passport.  Not being the type to rush into anything that involves paperwork, I waited until December 29, at 4:30 PM, the second-to-the-last possible day of the year in which to apply at a local post office (because you can't do that on Saturdays, apparently).  If you have ever applied for a U.S. Passport, you know that you need to submit a sad and ugly 2"x2" photograph of yourself, and your birth certificate.  What you may not notice is that the fine print  instructs you to provide additional evidence proving your citizenship if your birth certificate was filed more than one year after your live birth.
I was born in 1978, according to my birth certificate dated 1980.
What can I say? My parents weren't big into following the rules back then.
A few weeks after I applied, I received a really nice letter asking for a combination of "early public record created near the time of your birth" such as:
  • Hospital Certificate
  • Baptismal Certificate
  • Early School Record, or
  • U.S. Census Record.
I also received a phone call from the Department of State, (way to make your caller id read like you're REALLY important stuff) Detroit Passport Agency (ok, down a few notches in importance, I guess) to help me figure out what sort of records I might find.  Its a good thing they called because there are almost no "public records" created near the time of my birth specifically about me.  I was
  • Born at home (no hospital certificate)
  • Not baptised as an infant (and when I was, there was no certificate)
  • Home schooled (again, no record of my kindergarten in the garage).
So the lady on the phone suggested I get a notarized letter from my mother describing the circumstances of my birth.  And another one from the attending midwife.
Only there was no attending midwife, just my father. [Good catch, Dad!]
My favorite line from my mother's letter: "Due to an oversight on our part, her birth was not recorded until her brother was born in 1980."  I always did like that brother. 
I sent the notarized letter off, but a few weeks later I received another nice phone call.  Apparently they wanted a combination of documents, not just one.  Some suggestions:
  • A Life Insurance policy taken out when I was a child
  • Newspaper articles announcing my birth
  • State registry for home schools
  • Notarized letter from older sibling(s) detailing their memories of the event of my birth
  • A notarized list of my siblings birth names, birth dates and places of birth.
But my parents didn't really go in for insurance policies.  They just kept us safe by making us recite a list of rules before we went out the back door to play. [The list was by little 1980 brother's fault: No gate. No barn. No pool. No horses. No cows. True story. Separate post, maybe?]  And my parents have never really cared much for announcements in small town newspapers.  And the state registry for home schools?  Back then the State of Indiana did not record the number of children in each home school, nor their names and ages.  However, I was able to get one of my older siblings to write a letter for me.  The best line from that letter? "Not only do I remember walking in my parent's bedroom and seeing my brand new baby sister, but I remember how exciting it was to my four-year-old self that we got to eat pizza!"
Yes, folks, passports are granted based on the evidence supplied by a four-year-old child.
Not really.  The letters and the lists, however notarized they were, proved to be not-quite-enough.  So, for the low, low price of $67.00 and about 6 weeks of my life, I got a copy of the 1980 census record that shows my existence in the household of David Edward Hutchins, that great catcher of babies.  When those records came, I mailed them off in my typical last-chance fashion.

Yesterday, a little more than six months after I applied, my passport came in the mail! Yay!

 I am so glad my parents took part in that census and that they did not have any more oversights concerning me.
I know that the Detroit Passport Agency of the United States Department of State was waiting on that census record to issue my officialness, but that was just formality, I'm sure.  I am confident it was those notarized letters from my crazy family that convinced them I am who I say I am.  Now I just need to convince myself...

I ran across this article in April, and I realized that my start in this world could have been much tougher.  I mean, my parents may not have thought public records were that important in 1978, but at least I didn't have my death certificate filed before my birth certificate.