Chippewa Herald * December 30, 2008    

Maybe it's not such a small world after all

by Tom Arneberg, Community Columnist

We sent out another "Arneberg Argus" a couple of weeks ago. That's the name of our family Christmas newsletter, in which we try to capture the essence of ordinary life in a hectic household.

Throughout the year, every time we hear one of our kids say something funny or insightful, we write it down before we forget. Here are some of the entries from this year's issue, out of the mouths of Simon (now 8), David (12), Jasper (14), Alison (17), and Benjamin (19)...and a few others:

"I'm going to eat as sloppily as possible for the next six months." -- Ben, 11/19/07, the day he found out he was accepted into the Air Force Academy, where freshmen have to eat meals "at attention."

"You'd probably get a lawsuit." -- Ben's 12/8/07 warning about his dad's idea of showing up at the high school basketball game in body paint like Ben does.

"We can just pretend it's like our van -- only one door." -- David, 12/12/07, after Alison backed out of the garage with a rear car door still open, rendering said door inoperable.

"I don't was just a bunch of singing and talking." -- Jasper's ambivalent response when asked how he liked the 12/23/07 Christmas concert at church, narrated by Tom and Beth, that the choir had worked on for months.

"Did Jeff Walk just give him mercy?" -- Simon, 02/16/08, wondering about Jasper's solo/ensemble trumpet competition score of "Excellent." (The judge was Jasper's tutor, and Jasper had a rather rough start to his piece.)

"I hope the seats on the PLANE aren't this close together!" -- Alison, 3/13/08, on the shuttle bus to the airport. (She had never been in an airplane, and apparently saw movies of only first class seats.)

"I hope the takeoff is super windy, too!" -- Jasper, 3/13/08, excited by the extra turbulence when landing for a layover in Salt Lake City.

"Maybe it's not such a small world after all." -- Tom, 3/14/08, upon hearing why the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland was shut down for reconstruction: American bodies have gotten larger since the attraction was first designed in 1955.

"Sorry about Brett. I cried, too." -- Tough guy at Muscle Beach in Southern California, 3/15/08 (shortly after Favre's retirement announcement), after seeing Jasper's Green Bay Packers hat and asking if he lives in Wisconsin.

"It's my nightmare come true." -- Beth, realizing that the prankster-pulling kids would all be home the entire day on April Fools' Day due to a snowstorm.

"I think it's a good thing they have a limit." -- Jasper, 5/11/08, commenting on the 18-photo per-person maximum while his parents were gathering photos of Ben for the graduating seniors banquet slide show at church. (Tom takes a LOT of pictures.)

"That's what Ben is going to be after the Air Force Academy." -- Simon, 5/26/08, during a dinner table discussion of Famous Dave's "Rich & Sassy" barbecue sauce.

"It's like heaven-on-a-stick, Mr. Arneberg." -- Mitchell the neighbor kid after sampling some golden crisp turkey skin hot off the "trashcan turkey" stake at Ben's 6/15/08 grad party.

"Ben, your eyebrows are longer than your hair!" -- Simon's 6/25/08 observations after Ben's haircut the night before he left for basic training.

"I don't really like biking." -- Jasper, 7/4/08, when asked how he felt after bicycling 107 miles that day (carrying camping gear!). "Ben, your eyebrows are longer than your hair!" -- Simon's 6/25/08

"I feel so in-charge-ish!" -- Simon, 8/22/08, when he temporarily gained custody of the co-pilot seat in the Arnebus while Mom moved back to make sandwiches on the road en route to Colorado.

"Mom is allowing this in the kitchen?!" -- Alison, 9/20/08, spotting the squirrel skull on the counter that Simon found while working on Jasper's Eagle project at Irvine Park.

"I finally have a kid fatter than I am!" -- Tom, when Ben's weight increased to 185 after bulking up following basic training. (Tom ignores the fact that Ben is six inches taller.)

"Aw, why'd you have to go to Fireproof?" -- Jasper, at the dinner table 10/01/08, commenting on the pro-marriage movie after Dad mentioned that college financial aid is easier if the parents are divorced.

"Has Dad been secretly watching 'I Survived a Japanese Game Show'"? -- Simon, 10/08, recalling Alison's Internet browsings while Dad sang the Band-Aid song from the 1970s.

"Mom, is Mr. Knaack going to be super weird again tonight?" -- Simon, 11/01/08, en route to a CHIPS quartet show in Winona, after Randy had gotten a little wild on the Chi-Hi show five days prior.

"Wow, this town would stink for trick-or-treating." -- David, 11/02/08, while driving through the very, very small town of Cream, Wisconsin (along a rural road that shouldn't have even been on the map).

"Is it fun inflicting pain and suffering on Alison?" -- Jasper, 11/29/08, upon learning that Dad made Alison buy two gallons of gas with (gasp) her OWN MONEY, when she wanted to use the family car (with an empty tank) to visit a friend.

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