Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #familytree

The 20 Year Old Cake, Part II – China/Platinum Anniversary


Let me tell you how things finally went down.  The old, bald guy had a bad day at work and was kind of grumpy.  He actually went grocery shopping.  While he was away, our boys & I ordered pizza.  I removed the cake which I had hidden in the refrigerator, unwrapped the aluminum foil and left it in a pile on the counter.  It was a big clue in plain sight.  It turns out the boys did know about the cake in the freezer.  I must have told them the story long ago.

So yes, there was a small slice missing.  One red candle went in the center.  I put out two presents.  Traditional rules for the 20 year anniversary say I should buy china.  More contemporary guidelines say one should buy platinum.  So I bought both.


After my initial cake blog, a friend on Facebook sent a “Happy Anniversary” Flintstones clip.  It has proven to be problematic in that I can’t get the song out of my head, even days later.

When hubby came home, the boys and I quickly helped out with the groceries, not letting him into the kitchen.  Then I waited at the computer until one of my boys said, “Now.”  He lit the candle and I pressed play on the music clip where Fred Flintstone and his buddies are singing and Barney is playing a Stoneway piano.

The Flintstones – Happy Anniversary clip

The old, bald guy walked into the kitchen and immediately lit up.  He laughed and then said “Where did you get the cake?”  I was kind of surprised.  Then he said “There’s a slice missing.”  He looked a little confused.  He was just not getting it.  I gave him a weird look, looked at the cake and then at the pile of aluminum foil, and looked back at him without saying a word.  He circled around and I saw a sudden look of recognition come over his face.

“Is that what I think it is?!”  Yes, I told him.  He laughed, and I mean hard, and then he said, “Thank God!  We can finally get rid of that thing!”  How romantic.


We both thought the cake was in remarkably good form.  The icing smelled like icing but when we touched the inside where the slice was missing, it felt really dry, like sand.  No, we didn’t eat any.

Hubby enjoyed his presents, the pizza came, and we watched our wedding video.  Our teenage boys had never seen it before.  Pretty weird to see how young everyone looked, including ourselves, and a lot of people have since passed away.  I was feeling sentimental and teary eyed here and there, but that quickly dissipated because boys will be boys and my 3 guys cracked a lot of weird jokes throughout.  Again, very romantic.

What happened to the cake?  Well, this cake is famous now.  I gave it a fresh wrapping of aluminum foil and back into the freezer it went.

Wendy Knuth, author of Moore Zombies books

Christmas and The Leaning Tower of Tree

Leaning Tower of TreeHand Xmas Tree
I bought a Christmas tree.  I placed it in the holder all by myself, and low and behold I could not get it straight.  More importantly, I couldn’t get it steady.  Perhaps older teenage boy that I purchased the tree from at the local grocery store did not cut the bottom correctly.  I broke out the old camp saw and cut it again myself.  If you want something done right. . .  Long story short, the tree is still leaning, and still loose.  It could fall over at any time.  I may have uttered a few bad words.

So let’s reframe the situation.  Instead of admitting defeat, I will name this year’s tree:  The Leaning Tower of Tree.  It is much easier to cope with the situation, and much more fun.  I have to admit, I did think about strapping the tree to the wall with plumber’s tape.  Have I mentioned that my husband, the old bald guy, is a plumber? The layperson might imagine that plumbers tape actually has a sticky side.  No, it is a thin sheet metal strap with which you use screws to secure things to a wall or stud, such as a water heater in an earthquake prone environment.  No, it is much more fun to deal with said tree in its current condition.  It is what it is.

Thinking back to previous years, I recall the year of two trees.  The kids couldn’t agree on which tree to buy, and of course they each favored a different one.  Luckily I could afford and we bought them both.  Then there was the year of “The tree of poverty.”  I believe it was 2008 or 2009 when the economy took a terrible turn for the worse.  I bought a tiny little table top tree on the cheap, almost Charlie Brown style but not quite as sad.  We had a lot of fun making fun of that tree, and the savings made for more money for presents.  Boy, how I miss the days of the dollar bin for the plastic airplane or car that the kids loved as much as they would love a brand new computer nowadays.

So buy a tree, or don’t.  Draw a tree on cardboard and stand it up against the wall.  Put together cutout hand prints of your children, tape them together, and tape it to the wall.  Don’t be sad about it.  Set the mood and make it fun!  Oh, and don’t forget to name your tree.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies picture books and early chapter books

What Did You Do With Your Christmas Tree and Did It Involve The Fire Department?

So there we were.  Post Christmas and what to do with the Christmas Tree.  I have to tell you that when we first get the tree I am really good with watering it.  I am always amazed at how much water a Christmas tree can drink in the first few days, but as time goes by, it drinks less and less, until there is no loss in water in base at all.  The needles go from soft and pliable to bone dry and brittle.

My husband has numerous stories of burning a Christmas tree and convinces me that it goes quickly and that is an amazing sight.  For some reason, after numerous year of marriage, he decides we will burn the Christmas tree in the yard this year.  Yes, we have a big yard.  No, I have never seen a Christmas tree burn before.

So we happen to have this weird, old, wood burning stove thing with a vent in the top that has been outside since we bought our house.  My husband places the Christmas tree into the vent hole, so now the base of the tree is about four feet off the ground.  Please add 6 feet for the Christmas tree just to adjust your visual picture of this situation.

The old, bald guy takes a match to tree.  Oh my, wow, holy moly.  I watch as the fire catches quickly and burns up one side of the tree, crackling and popping as it goes.  Once the flame reached the top of tree, a HUGE fireball rolled off and went up, up, up, I swear maybe twenty to thirty feet.  Small cinders and ashes are raining down on our immediate neighbor’s home to the north, where the wind took it.  My husband had the forethought of having a hose ready and starts spraying the tree with water.  I’m thinking this is not good, this is dangerous, I’m sure that neighbor would not appreciate this.  Did I mention that we were new to the neighborhood?

So my hubby is putting out the fire, and doing a good job, except I’m still concerned about all the little cinders possibly igniting a fire in the aforesaid neighbor’s yard.  Hubby assures me he is looking around at the neighbor’s yard and making sure that nothing will happen, with hose in hand.  A little time passes, and he is sure all is well, so now it is time to continue with burning the other side of the tree.  Yes, one side of the tree actually did not burn and it is time to finish the job.

Next thing we know, we hear a siren.  I am sure it is for us.  I tell my husband I hope you know that siren is for us.  He blows me off like I am an idiot, a complete idiot.   It is a coincidence.  The neighbors to the west pop up in their upstairs window and yell to us – you scared the heck out of us, we saw the huge fireball and thought your house was on fire.  So then, of course, another siren is heard.  My husband starts to put two and two together while the neighbors do the same and yell with amusement at our expense “here comes the Fire Department!”  And even then, we hear a third siren.

My husband goes into defense mode and says “let’s go inside.  Turn off the lights!!!”  We see a fire engine going down the next street, slowly as if looking for something.  I explain to him that they are most definitely looking for us and we should come clean because every single neighbor will point to our house and then we look really bad.

So at this point there is a fire engine coming slowly down our street and hubby realizes he needs to fess up and goes out to greet them.  He tells them he lit the Christmas tree on fire.  Their first question is did we have a permit?  This question is actually a rouse, because where we live there is no such thing as an after dark fire permit.  (We learned this afterwards.)  My husband apologizes and asks if he is going to be the idiot in tomorrow’s newspaper.  They assure him that he will not, as long as he does not continue with the stupidity.  Now, we live in a small town, or at least it was at the time, so I am kind of surprised that a 3 engine response did not gain the press that it should have.

I have fond memories of the half burned Christmas tree that sat in our yard for months.  Our town now has a wonderful recycling program for Christmas trees which we take advantage of every year, perhaps brought on by pyromaniacs like us.  It was an interesting way to meet some of our new neighbors.  And I hate to say, I would like to see, some day,  what it would have looked like if the whole tree had gone up!!!

Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments Are The Best!

I love my Christmas Tree!!  Many years ago when my husband and I were celebrating our first Christmases, we didn’t have much for the Christmas tree.  We bought some ornaments from a neighbor kid for a school sales drive.  We bought bright and shiny hanging balls and tinsel.  We bought a unique ornament here and there, which of course would be horribly expensive if you bought enough in one season to fill up the tree.  I’d have to say for the first several years of our marriage, our Christmas trees just had a manufactured feel.  Memories of purchasing ornaments from K-mart just don’t warm the heart.

After my Grandmother passed away, I inherited all of her numerous ornaments which I LOVE!!!  Most of them are handmade.  The woman could sew.  There are angels and stockings and snowflakes and Santas; all the typical ornaments you would think of for Christmas.  I also have mice, geese, trains, drums, teddy bears and little wreaths.  I recognized and remembered the felt angel I had made as a Camp Fire Girl with sequins and nylon material for the styrofoam head.  And there are really unique ones, such as Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, Raggedy Ann & Andy, items you wouldn’t associate with Christmas but they are adorable.  I even have a Batman ornament and Robin ornament.  There are so many – enough to fill up the whole tree.

As a youngster, my mom would always cook popcorn on the stovetop.  Does anyone remember the labor that went into quickly moving the pot back and forth over the burner as the popcorn popped so it wouldn’t burn in the layer of oil?  My mother gave my brother and me a needle and thread so we could make long strings of popcorn for the Christmas tree.  I’m sure we ate more than we put on the string but it was great fun.  We also made chains with links made out of cut up strips of colored construction paper.  Cook that popcorn with your children, and link those links!

Since we have had our two boys, they have added to the collection.  They made ornaments in school and at home.  I still have a Kirby ornament made out of pipe cleaners, er um, chenelle sticks (they loved the Kirby Airride video game at the time).  Yes they made paper chains.  There are styrofoam balls they glued sequins and shiny glitter to, with unfolded paper clips as hangers.  There is an ice cream cone with a glued on ball.  There are simple ornaments that are paper cutouts that they drew on with crayons.  They may not be the most artistic but since they are from my boys, they are the best and I hang them with pride!

So when the Christmas tree goes up, and I start hanging the ornaments, I am flooded with memories.  My Grandmother made this with me as a little girl, here are the ones my sons made when they were young, and yes, my best friend bought this as a present for my first son and my first Christmas as a mother.  Now the tree is not just a Christmas Tree, it is a Memory Tree, truly a Family Tree, full of history, each ornament with its own story.  Make those ornaments, keep them, remember them, hang them, relive the memories and retell the stories.