A WEEKEND WITH THE KIDS – February 16 – 19, 2001 (Photos)

(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)



(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

SO yesterday I had to make the trip to pick up H and M. It rained the entire time. And to make matters worse, I missed my exit near Harrisburg. This was the first time that X.2 and I were to meet at a new location. I knew that I was getting close to the place. But then something just did not feel right. It was at that point that a minor miracle happened: I stopped and asked for directions! I still arrived on time and X.2 was actually there on time. Another miracle!

The girls and I had not seen each other since January 1. So we were all so excited! The hugs and kisses were flying! Both H and M were talking full speed at the same time. There was so much news to tell! “Do you know who Amanda likes?” “Guess what I made in art class!” “Daddy, did you know that Adam and Eve died in the flood? That is what my teacher said!” “So you want to taste my peach lollipop?”


AFTER about 20 minutes of driving, H decided that she was going to go to sleep. And sleep she did! She was out all the rest of the way home. She even slept through M’s high decibel sing/shout, “and BINGO was his name, oh!” Her clapping and her singing were completely out of sync. But she was having a great time and I was almost in tears laughing. While H slept through it all!

After “BINGO” came:

“This old man, he played one, he played knick knack on my thumb,
With a knick knack paddy whack, give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home!”

And the little girl’s question, “How can a man roll home, Daddy?”

As the old man was rolling home, the little girl’s decibels began to rise again. Then the words to the song began to change:

“This old man, he played woggin, he played knick knack on my noggin,
With a knick knack paddy whack, give the dog a sploggin,
This old man came rolling home.”

And on the variations went for miles and miles! To make it even funnier, M kept changing the pitch of her voice between high and low. She was a riot. It was so funny that I even clicked off a few pictures over my shoulder in the dark while I was driving. (Just do not tell my mom. She will yell at me for doing that while driving!)


YOU KNOW, all this paddy whacking reminds me of a funny joke:

A FROG goes into a bank and walks up to the window. He can see from the teller’s nameplate that the teller’s name is Patricia Whack. So he says, “Ms. Whack, I’d like to get a loan to buy a yacht and go on a cruise.” Ms. Whack asks how much money he wants to borrow. The frog says around $55,000. Ms. Whack asks the frog his name and he replies “Kermit Jagger, it shouldn’t be a problem, I know the branch manager.” Ms. Whack explains that $55,000 is a large sum of money and that he will need to put up something as collateral against the loan. She asks “do you have anything as collateral?” Kermit says, “Sure, I have this,” and produces a small pewter cricket, about an inch tall. Stunned, Ms. Whack explains that she’ll have to speak with the branch manager and walks into an office at the front of the bank. She finds the branch manager and says: “There’s a frog by the named of Kermit Jagger out there who says he knows you and wants to borrow $55,000. He wants to use this as collateral.” She holds up the small pewter cricket. “Like, what is this thing suppose to be?” So the branch manager looks back at her and says:

It’s a knick knack, Patti Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

Pretty funny, huh?

WELL, it looks like this weekend will be a fun one- plenty of singing and probably some dancing in the kitchen. I recently got a few CDs by Buddy Holly, Bill Hailey and Roy Orbison. Plenty of dancing tunes there! We have already been taking lots of pictures. Some will be posted here in a few days. Plus we are going to have a party for M’s fifth birthday. Man, I better go! I’m missing all the fun! “So with a knick knack paddy whack I’m shutting off the ‘puter, this young man keeps getting cuter!” (Oh, it’s true! It’s true!)



(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

RECENTLY, I was rummaging through one of my many boxes of books trying to find my volume of Shakespeare that contained “Romeo and Juliet.” S has been reading this play in her English class. This is her first exposure to Shakespeare and I have been helping her through the “thees” and “thous” and “what-have-yous.”

It is quite an effort to dig out books at times. Our apartment is so small that there is just not enough room for all the shelves that I would need to hold my books. Therefore, only my very favorite books are out, some on a small shelf in my room, some on the night stand, some under the night stand, a few piled on the desk, some under the desk. You get the picture. All the rest of my books are packed in boxes and stored either in the attic or in S’s closet.

Well Hamlet and Othello were in the attic. But Romeo and Juliet were not. So they had to be hiding in S’s closet. No wonder the poor girl gets spooked in the middle of the night sometimes!

I started pulling boxes out of the closet. How many titles got me sidetracked! There were science fiction works calling me to fantastic adventures in far off lands. Many biographies announced the names of their admirable characters. The theological volumes requested my attention in dignified manner.

WHILE digging through the third or fourth box, S exclaimed, “There’s our book!” “Romeo and Juliet? Where??” “No, no. There’s our ‘Book of Thanksgiving!'”

In an instant my emotions ranged from the feeling one gets upon seeing a dear old friend to the creepy sensation of seeing a ghost! In my hands was something which had been a bonding instrument for our family four years and more ago. It was a bittersweet find, a reminder of peaceful days. Yet it carried with it the harsh reminder of a family that has been torn apart. I could nearly hear our past voices echo forth from its pages: the laughter of children, the warmth of family prayer, the barking of the dog, the hush of affectionate approval. As I opened the book, I was as a long-stricken amnesia patient finally awaking to the realization of his self-identity. I was like a “self-stranger” who was just introduced to the person that I instantly recognized as my true self.

NOW let me explain. Our “Book of Thanksgiving” is a small, hardbound journal in which we wrote short sentences of things for which we were thankful. I do not remember now where I got the idea for such a thing. But X.2 (while she was still Wife.2) and I shared a concern to teach good values to our children and to instruct them in things concerning God. We wanted this to be a practical, real life sort of learning. So we would often read the Bible with the children, allowing time for questions and discussions. We would sometimes have the children memorize portions of Scripture. We ourselves, along with the children, also learned much of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Very often we would sing hymns together. Each of us would take turns picking out a hymn and we would all sing. There were certain favorites of the children, which we sang over and over, and over again! All of these things were good and positive aspects of our family. To keep an informal account of our thanksgivings was one more positive means of helping us all to focus on the things that are really important in life.

Here, let me show you some of our entries. I will even leave the children’s spelling just as they wrote it.

10/06/1995 – I am thankful for my family. -S

10/06/1995 – I am thankful for God. -J

10/06/1995 – I am thankful for my family and my house and my friends. – T

10/09/1995 – I am thankful for good oral surgeons! – Dad

10/11/1995 – I am thankful for my brother. -J

10/11/1995 – I am thankful for my pets. -T

10/18/1995 – I am thankful for the Bible and food. I’m thankful for my “parenets” and my cats and rabbits. -S

10/25/1995 – I am thankful for the whole world. -J

11/26/1995 – I am thankful for the pretty day God gave us. -S

01/03/1996 – I am thankful that we can “selebrate” Christmas. -T

01/09/1996 – I am thankful that God kept us safe through the recent blizzard. -Dad

01/31/1996 – I am thankful for bananas. -Dad

02/01/1996 – I am thankful for H and that the new baby is coming. -S

02/01/1996 – I am thankful for myself. -T

02/04/1996 – I am thankful for my dad because he is sick. -J

02/19/1996 – I am thankful that M’s jaundice is getting better. -Dad

02/23/1996 – I am thankful that I got an A on my math test. -T

05/06/1996 – I am thankful for my hands because we need them to help us work, pick up stuff, so on… -S

05/28/1996 – I am thankful for my new baby sister. -T

07/19/1996 – I am thankful that I did not die on the roller coaster at Great Adventure today. -Dad

As you see, I have not quoted any of X.2’s entries. They are so many points of paradox to me. How does one move from light to darkness, from sweet to sour, from peace to anger, from thanksgiving to ingratitude, so quickly, completely, and unashamedly? I will never understand it and have concluded that it is an exercise in futility to expend my energies any longer in trying to do so.

I AM happy to say that this little “Book of Thanksgiving” has been returned to its position of usefulness in the Snyder home. You see, S suggested that we start using it again. As she flipped through its old pages and read aloud from many entries, I could tell that an old note was being struck within her heart, a note that has not been sounded in very recent days. I made the protest that I really did not want to have to view X.2’s entries all the time if we started using the book again. I suggested that we purchase a new journal and start fresh. But with a tone in her voice as if she were protecting an old friend, S insisted that we use this very same book. How often does a 14-year-old American girl have such a strong desire to instate such a noble habit as giving thanks to God among her family? Rather than lose the opportunity to promote such a positive exercise, I agreed to use our original “Book of Thanksgiving,” under the condition that we simply leave a blank page after the old entries. S agreed and said that the blank page would represent “The Wonder Years” – people will see the blank page and “wonder” what happened to those years!

I gave the honor of making a new entry to S. She asked me not to read it in front of her. When I read it later I found that she gave thanks for her boyfriend of so many months, days, hours, as well as thanks for her mom. What else was I expecting from a 14-year-old American girl??

IF YOU ever visit our home, please be sure to browse our “Book of Thanksgiving.” It is right on top of the fridge! We will be honored if you will make an entry of your own!

Now I think it is time to close this entry and this day. I think a few words of thanksgiving need to be written in our book before I sleep this night. I am thinking of something along the lines of, “Dear Father, I thank you for Your faithfulness through all these years and I thank you for my children – especially for S at this time.”

ON 78


(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)

ON FRIDAY I left for work at 6:30 am. This is earlier than I normally do. But I needed to leave for home earlier than normal this day in order to take S to a hair styling appointment. She was going to the Valentine’s dance and wanted to have her hair looking just right. So I had to try to do everything an hour earlier. This meant setting the alarm clock for 4 am instead of 5 am so that I could be up by 5:15 instead of 6:15. Yes, it takes me an hour or so to finally realize that the irritating ringing that I hear is not coming from the bomb that I am frantically trying to diffuse in order to save the entire world – in a dream. But it is my unfeeling, uncaring alarm clock just doing its duty. Good thing it has a snooze button that is big enough for my clumsy fingers to find in my early morning stupor. Otherwise this poor clock would have been smashed to death long ago and I would still be asleep.


So I left for work nice and early. But I only drove about five miles and was confronted with three lanes of non-moving vehicles. There were bright red taillights as far as the eye could see. After only a few minutes the highway behind me was glowing white with headlights. I could almost hear all the groaning drivers behind me. Yes, there was another accident on Route 78. Welcome to New Jersey traffic! These accidents seem to be a daily event on this highway now. It’s starting to feel like the drive to work is some kind of roulette game. Who’s turn will it be next? We all speed, dodge between lanes and ride each other’s rear ends so close that we can feel each other’s breath on our necks. Until somebody’s number is up and the rest of us get pissed off because that somebody had the nerve to die on the highway and make us late for work. That is what happened on Friday. For more than 30 minutes we all crept along, not even moving fast enough for our speedometers to register our speed. By the end of those 30 minutes we had only traveled one mile. Then we all gawked at the accident as we stood with all of our weight on the accelerator and sped on our way again.


IT IS always a very eerie thing to see a fatal accident in the dim early morning light. It certainly appeared that this one was fatal too. The truck that I saw surrounded by flares on the side of the highway was so mangled that I highly doubt if anyone could have survived. When I see scenes like that I always start wondering what the person was like that died. Did he have a wife and kids? What did he have planned for that night after work? Would he and I have been friends if we had had the opportunity to meet in this life? Then I start wondering what would happen if I were the one who had been taken in a crash. What about the kids? What about the bills? Before I know it I am in the process of planning my own funeral and arranging everyone around my casket. At that point it is all too creepy and I usually turn up the radio nice and loud.

Sitting in New Jersey traffic and seeing such a tragic accident is no way to start a Friday, or any day for that matter. By the time I do get to work I am half spent and pretty frazzled already. But the rest of my day went fairly well. I was able to get S to her hair appointment on time. And she, as a true girl, hated the way the stylist did her hair and went home and changed it! She was then an hour late for the dance. But she had a good time.

SO to close this entry, I would like to share something that my Sister Ch sent to me.


(If you can’t smile at ANY of these, come on over and hang out in Jersey with me for a while. You’ll understand after a while.)

1. You don’t think of citrus when people mention “The Oranges.”
2. You’ve ordered a hard roll with butter for breakfast.
3. You’ve known the way to Seaside Heights since you were seven.
4. You’ve eaten at a diner at 3 am.
5. You remember that the “Two Guys” were from Harrison.
6. You know that the state isn’t one big oil refinery.
7. You know what a “jug handle” is.
8. You know that the state isn’t all farmland.
9. You know that there are no “beaches” in New Jersey there’s “The Shore,” and you know that the road to the shore is “The Parkway,” not “The Garden State Parkway”.
10. Even your school cafeteria made good Italian subs.
11. And you call it”sub” not a “submarine sandwich” or worse yet, a “hoagie” or a “hero.”
12. You know how to properly negotiate a Circle.
13. You knew that the last question had to do with driving.
14. You know that this is the only “New…” state that doesn’t require “New” to identify it (like, try …Mexico, …York, …Hampshire doesn’t work, does it?).
15. You only go to New York City for day trips, and you only call it “The City”.
16. You know that a “White Castle” is the name of BOTH a fast food chain AND a fast food sandwich.
17. You don’t think, “What exit” (do you live near?) is very funny.
18. You know that the real first “strip shopping center” in the country is Route 22.
19. You know that people from the 609 area code are “a little different.”
20. You live within 20 minutes of at least three different malls.
21. You can see the Manhattan skyline from some part of your town.
22. You refer to all highways and interstates by their numbers.
23. You’ve eaten a Boardwalk cheesesteak with vinegar fries.
24. You start planning for Memorial Day weekend in February.
25. And finally… You’ve never pumped your own gas.

SNOW DAY IN PHILLIPSBURG – February 5, 2001 (Photos)

(Originally posted on the website Continuum…)