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Tag Archives: Christmas

My Christmas Card to You

Sometimes if we have Christmas cards left over I will wait until Dec. 22 and mail them out to our “fringe friends” just to make them feel guilty. This year I thought I would try to get on the good list for once and share what we sent to our friends and family with you. It can’t be all great but even with the weak parts, it is still my favorite time of the year.

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This is me. Christmas morning nineteen eighty awesome

 

Some parts of Christmas make it the best time of the year. Other parts, not so much.

Sweet

  • The look on tiny faces as they peer up into the attic anxiously awaiting the first box of Christmas decorations.
  • That moment when the tree is finally lit and decorated and the floor is vacuumed and you can sit back and take in one of the first moments of Christmas.
  • Electricity is in the air, presents are being hidden, elves are up to mischief, children are on their best behavior. The anticipation starts to build slowly and if you’re lucky it becomes almost tangible.
  • The best sing along music of the year, even when your wife tells you to let Whitney hit the high notes in O Holy Night by herself.
  • Pausing the hustle and bustle to read aloud about what happened that night in the little town of Bethlehem.

 

Weak

  • Shouldn’t Christmas decorations come with coupons for couples counseling?
  • Sorry honey, I tried to dry my hair without following the steps on the Christmas light electrical flow chart you made and now all the lights in the house are out.
  • Stands of Christmas lights that only light halfway are the reason for the first spiking of eggnog.
  • I think I just found a Frasier Fir needle in my underwear.
  • Do people still use the word tight to mean cool? Because that would make me feel better about how last year’s Christmas sweater fits

I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday and 2015 brings happiness to you and yours.

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I lost a dear family member this year that was one of my favorite people to laugh with. We made this the day we were remembering him. Miss you Uncle Wayne.

 

WAIT!

Oh, one more thing. I got to be part of a very cool project this year and join with 30 other writers to create The Big Book of Parenting Tweets These writers are insanely funny and I was honored to be included with them. If you are a parent, have a parent, know a parent, or are thinking of becoming a parent, you should buy this book. It is full of short snippets of the raw and honest side of parenthood and it will leave you laughing out loud. Seriously, it is great. Ok, pitch over.

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I’m not saying it can teach your kids to read but I think this photo speaks for itself.

 

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Pizza Soup

Sweet

Family Tradition  

I have a propensity to blog about food a bit more often than other topics.  I guess that you are supposed to write what you know so it is likely that my mediocre ramblings about Christmas candy and  bread bowls is as good as it will get.  Sorry guys.  I think, though, that another reason I use food as a topic is because, like smells, food has a way of being nostalgic.  If you have read even just a few of my posts you probably know I am a perpetual kid so this kind of makes sense.

The best food related memories I have are not in the eating but in the preparing of food as a kid with my family.  The worst memories are things like always forgetting to shake my Yoo-Hoo and feeling sad when I had gotten every last bit of cheese off the red handi-snack stick.  I guess the emotional tie is as evident as ever in the term comfort food.

Preparing food always brought us together as a family.  We didn’t eat out very often and even when we did, I didn’t consider a restaurant fancy unless I got to choose biscuits or cornbread.  Most of the time mom would cook but when everyone pitched in, we made more than dinner.  We made memories.

I like that I get to experience that with my family now and if I had to name our tradition it would be called pizza soup.  You see, my wife’s family used to make pizza together,  before we had kids we would make it together, and now it is a full blown 2 on 2 pizza competition.  At the risk of some horrible pun, it is rather cheesy and like something you would expect to see on a poorly written sit-com.  That doesn’t matter though, at the end of each competition when the pizzas go into the oven we split up the remaining sauce, cheese, and toppings into tiny ramikens and enjoy our amuse bouche of pizza soup.  It isn’t really about the pizza or the dinner at all but about the laughter and the giggles and the occasional sauce smeared on daddy’s nose that make pizza soup totally sweet.

 

Weak

I Can Do That 

image via Ronco

I am a man.  As a man, I am impressed by very little.  Or at the very least, I can’t let on that I am impressed.  This personality trait often bubbles to the surface in the kitchen.  I like to think that I can handle my own in the kitchen and  at times I cook pretty well.   The problem is that sometimes I may talk a bit too big of a game.  I am not one to brag but every time I start to make hamburger helper I expect Bobby Flay to walk in and ask if I am ready for a throw down.  I like to cook and you can bank on the fact that anytime macaroni and cheese is made in our house, I will be eating the last 3 bites from the pot standing by the stove relishing in each lukewarm mouthful of salty regret.

Sometimes we watch cooking shows and I never shy away from saying that something doesn’t look that hard or that I could do it.  I remember saying something similar once about a show on food trucks.  The great part about making ridiculous assumptions about that kind of thing is that I will never actually try to start a food truck and as long as it looms in uncertainty I can claim victory.  In actuality, if I started a food truck it would probably be known as that weird guy trying to sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the trunk of his 97 Corolla.

I like to dream of being on a show like Top Chef and while I do have some background in restaurants and a few signature dishes, I think the reality might be something like this:

I proudly walk in with my Ron Popeil 6 star cutlery and wastes the first 3 minutes of the challenge arranging all of the knives in the butcher block that was a free gift because I ordered within the 20 minute window on the commercial.  Not phased by the equipment the other chefs are using, I set out to the pantry wondering where they have hidden all of the box dinners.  With time quickly ticking bye I overcome the panic, find my center, and go about my culinary business.  At the judges table, I step up and trying not to stare at Padma Lackshmi I announce, “today I have prepared for you cheese 3 ways.  grilled, toast, and mac’n.  Bon appetit.”

So maybe I over sell myself a bit and hide in the safety that some of my claims will never be tested but  you can’t blame a guy for dreaming.   Who knows, maybe making that cinnamon toast with chili powder that one time really was a fluke and I am better at this than I think.    I may make a serious pot of white chili but the hollow braggadocios claims of my kitchen prowess are totally weak.

 


Drawing The Line at Painted Toesies

Sweet

Daddy’s Home! 

Hearing two little high-pitched voices squeal those words as I walk up the stairs makes it all worth it.  When people say there is something special about a daddy’s girl they are right.  Two beautiful little bundles of blue eyes and curls that I still can’t believe I had a part in creating.  Daughters have a way of stealing your heart in an instant and making you work for the rest of your life to ensure that they never give it back.

Having two daughters probably means two weddings and two first dates and that I will spend 2020 to 2028 with a daughter in high school.  Those things are daunting for sure but there is still a lot of time between now and then and it gets to be filled with giggles and tickles and dress up and tea parties.  I don’t bat an eye when given the opportunity to toss a pink feather boa over my shoulder and lift my pinkie for a spot of tea.  I try to keep them well-rounded with an occasional light saber battle but when having two daughters means wearing a tiara and competing in a beauty pageant,  I join in without question.

I do it because I love them in a way that I could have never understood before they were here.  I do it because their smiles and giggles feed my soul and also because Doc McStuffins is actually a pretty good show and I need to find out what happens even when they wander off and I am left watching it alone.   I have painted a bedroom purple, another bedroom pink, and then repainted the purple one pink.  I have a “wing” of our house adorned in pastel and fairy dust.  It may sound silly but even when I feel as if I may drown in a sea of pink and sparkle, nothing makes me feel more like “the man” like having two little girls who love their daddy.  You see, to them, I am the man.  When they seek protection or provision or even occasionally a prince charming or a knight in shining armor, their search ends with me.  There is magic in that.

When we found out our second was a girl I told my wife that I finally understood why God had made me so good with women.  She didn’t find it near as hilarious as I did but I like to think that He knew I would embrace the frilly and the sparkle and recognize how special girls are.

They really do grow up faster than you are prepared for and I love seeing them grow into themselves.  I get excited about the women they will become and realize how I get to be a part of that, a part of them.  There isn’t much that I wouldn’t do for those two girls.  To keep them safe or to just to see them smile.  I am a full contact dad of daughters but even I have my limit.  Though the begging seems to amplify, there will be no painting of daddy’s toesies and no lip stick.

Last night I held our youngest and rocked with her as she fell asleep.  At 19 months her feet now hit my legs and she seems to spill out of the lap that not too long ago enveloped her.  I listened to the rhythm of her breathing and soaked in the moment.  I sat there for a long time and hoped that this Sunday evening would root itself deep enough into my soul that I will still be able to find it 20 years from now.

Daughters are totally sweet.

Weak

Sometimes I Just Need More Lasers 

So yeah, I play with the girl toys because all of the emotional mumbo jumbo I just wrote about is true but sometimes dad just wants to blow stuff up.  I still want to play with their cozy critters, only I want to turn them into lunch for a hungry Jedi Knight that hunts them down.

When you play toys with your kids, it takes you back to your own childhood.  The thing is, when I was a kid, Star Wars, GI Joe, and The Dukes of Hazzard were my jam and I never had much use for Barbie, Polly Pocket, or Cabbage Patch Kids.  While nothing in the world can change my love for my girls, sometimes I just need to wander down the boy side of the toy section to see what kind of rocket packed monster killing super agents are lining the shelves today.

I loved my toys when I was a kid and sometimes it bums me out when I am putting stuff together on Christmas morning and realize none of this shizz came with a grappling hook.  My girls never like it when I make Barbie’s corvette careen off an embankment and crash into a twisted pile of flaming steel.  No one ever wants to make Strawberry Shortcake a secret agent or My Little Ponies Dinosaur snacks.

This is an area where my wife is truly awesome.  Last Christmas she gave me light sabers.  She knows that I won’t get to vicariously enjoy the girl’s fighter jets or transformers.  She also knows that I spent most Decembers as a kid with a Sears Wish Book in my lap drawing circle after circle around the greatest toy man has ever known.  The U.S.S. FLAGG G.I. Joe aircraft carrier complete with towing fuel vehicle, admiral’s launch, and working electronic sound system.  I might as well have been circling a picture of one of the Egyptian pyramids because there was no way I was getting either.  I remember seeing the aircraft carrier in a store and marveling that it seemed to take up the bottom shelf of the entire aisle.  I remember it was over $100.00 which might as well have been a million.  I coped with its elusiveness because it seemed like no one actually got the aircraft carrier.  That is, until one day you find yourself in Pete Mooney’s basement  taking in its glory firsthand and realizing it truly was the greatest thing you had ever seen.

I appreciate that my wife realizes that after time all of the sparkle starts to take a toll on old dad.  It is nice to pepper in the occasional sword fight or pirate scenario into play time because take it from me, your daughters think that having their American Girl Doll taken hostage by an evil doctor plotting to rule the world is totally weak.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Sweet

Racing the GPS 

image via garmin.com

The dashboard GPS has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.  I mean it is right up there with air conditioning and the baconator.  For one thing, if you have a GPS you never have to listen to your wife nag  suggest you stop and ask a stranger for directions (which might as well be the same as getting out of the car wearing a shirt that says: I am only 75% of the man you are).  This little device, though often frustrating , brings a certain calming quality to our marriage when I decide to take a short cut and dare veer off of the digital pink line of safety.  Sure, sometimes we follow our digital mate precisely and put an unhealthy amount of trust into it as we wind up cursing under our breath and turning around in vacant lots or wishing we were still on the paved road but all in all, it is pretty dang awesome.

I think that my favorite thing about our GPS is that on long drives it gives me a clear competitive objective.  When I am driving and using the GPS, all of the goals in my life boil down to one thing.  Beating the arrival time on the GPS.  It is almost embarrassing how much joy I derive from beating the GPS.  I say almost because the amount of awesome clearly outweighs any shame.  One of the great things about racing the GPS is that it re calibrates as you go so if you gain a minute, it will adjust giving you instant gratification.  I went on two separate business road trips this week and am happy to say that I beat the GPS each time.  There are a couple of ways that you can beat the GPS like catching green lights or light traffic, but the best way to win is by speeding.  I drive a lot, so as a byproduct I speed a lot.  I don’t mean driving reckless like a maniac but my cruise control is most comfortable at least 8 mph above the posted limit.  I don’t know why it is, but anytime I cross back into my home state I feel a sense of relief like the state troopers here will welcome me home as a favorite son and overlook my GPS racing.  This is stupid for several reasons, mostly because  I really only seem to get tickets in Georgia.

Driving can often be a long mundane tiring task, but beating the GPS can make it totally sweet.

 

Weak

If Only I had a Portable Infrared Sauna 

image via consumertraveler.com

Have you ever heard of a plane crashing because of an iphone?  Maybe missing the runway and landing in a river because of a Kindle?  No?  Funny, me either.  I know that in my house we have computers and cell phones and regular cordless phones and baby monitors all running at the same time with nary a glitch or disruption.  So here is the thing. I don’t think that safety has anything to do with the reason that we have to turn off all electronics before take-off and landing on a plane.  I think the real reason is Sky Mall.  Unless you bring your own material, the seat in front of you really only contains 2 pieces of reading material (assuming you don’t need to read the barf bag or evacuation instructions)  some boring airline magazine that really is just about restaurants in cities you aren’t on your way to, or Sky Mall.

Sky Mall has comandeered my attention more than once below 10,000 feet.  In fact, had I not read about it only a day before Mother’s Day, my wife may have been the proud owner of one of these:

Sit back and just say ahhhhh to in-home relaxation. Portable Infrared Sauna $399.99
image via Sky Mall

Something about flipping through Sky Mall makes me feel like I am severely lacking in iphone accessories, meerkat lawn statues, and pet car-seats.  Has anyone actually ordered anything from Sky Mall?  Perhaps a plush mini staircase for your little dog to climb up to your bed, or maybe packets of the first ever protein supplemented ketchup? I mean surely you are all getting your credit cards out to order one of these:

The Traveler’s Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon. $79.99
image via Sky Mall

You know, thanks to 20/20 and 60 minutes, that one may actually be a good idea.  I am sure there are folks out there that needed a bunion regulator or a generic Snuggie, I just doubt that Sky Mall is their retail destination.  Have you ever met anyone that works for Sky Mall?  Tell me that wouldn’t be the best job ever, getting to decide what makes it into the Christmas edition?  That actually may be my dream job.  I want to be in charge of all of the vendor’s submissions and test products in order to deem them worthy of mile high status.

Until then, I will continue to ask every flight attendant possible if they have ever seen one of these on an actual flight:

This person is able to sleep comfortably in any Seat! Can you say the same? Probably not, unless you have SkyRest. $29.95
image via Sky Mall

It looks like that guy is taking a restful snooze, but my guess would be that he passed out from exhaustion and light headedness after the 20 minutes it took to blow that thing up.  So far zero accounts of seeing one of these in person by any flight attendant I have ever asked.  I don’t know how much longer Sky Mall will be paying the airlines in order to gain a captive audience at the start and end of each flight, but until then I will participate in the flipping ritual and wonder if I need a hot dog toaster or one of those butler statue toilet paper holders.

It is funny to joke about after the fact but when you have to bring your chair to its upright position and lock your tray tables, the prospect of looking through a Sky Mall for the next 15 minutes is totally weak.

 


Jesus May be the Reason for the Season, but This is a Solid Contributor.

Sweet

Keep the “Chewy” in Christmas 

If you were to take Christmas trees, baby Jesus, giant inflatable Santas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Stockings hung by  the chimney with care, wrapping paper, yuletide cheer, and Mariah Carey’s Christmas album and melt them all together in the Wonkamatic, you would be left with Brach’s Christmas Nougat.  For me, this is the King of Christmas candy.

It is easy to overlook this gem because much like the babe lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Christmas Nougat is often out-shined by those treats that found room in the inn (or in this case, the end-cap of the candy aisle.) I am not suggesting that a simple piece of candy can save us from our sins but I am reminding you that just like the Son of God, great things can often be very unassuming.

So when you are out in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping dropping $8 on Chocolate oranges or Toblerones (has anyone ever had a Toblerone outside of December or an airport?), remember to take joy in the simple things.   The humble Christmas Nougat wrapped in cellophane and lying in the bottom of a candy dish is totally sweet.

Weak

I have a Secret (and it has nothing to do with Santa) 

Today I am wearing socks that don’t match.  Now settle down, it isn’t as if I am sporting a brown and a blue or a striped and an argyle.  I simply have on two black socks with a very subtle thread pattern that happens to be slightly different on each foot.  Maybe I am the only one with this problem but I would suspect that out there among the masses there are other households with secret bags or baskets full of misfit socks that have lost their way.  It is often an intricate recipe of sock eating spin cycles, rogue socks separating into different loads of laundry, and a dash of “I folded all of these clothes, no way I am spending the next 5 minutes matching this sock soup at the bottom of the basket” that result in the odd sock stash.

I don’t understand that when I buy 3 pairs of navy blue socks they all have to differ just slightly enough that I am shoehorned into 3 combinations instead of the much larger number of options if any of the six socks could be paired together (I have a friend that will tell me what that number is on the off-chance he reads this thing, but I am too busy comparing candy to the Prince of Peace to be bothered with mathematics.)  Fortunately for me, my pants are long enough to hide this slight wardrobe malfunction and I will remember  that whichever leg I decide to cross, will be locked in for the rest of the day in social settings.  I have been toying with the idea of just throwing away the whole odd sock bag and starting fresh this year with socks that are the same and have colored toes or something to make them easier to identify and match.

I mean, seriously, I have a degree.  I have an important job in a professional setting, other people don’t do this right?  Standing in the laundry room barefoot clutching 3 different socks in my hand and rummaging through a basket playing my own little version of Where’s Waldo is totally weak.


Time to Decorate the Christmas Branch

Sweet

I Think it is Leaning a Little to the Left.

There is no “real or fake” debate in my house when it comes to Christmas Trees.  I have had a real tree every Christmas of my life and have no plan to stop anytime soon.  I understand the convenience of only having to “put your tree together” but as for me and my house?  We will embrace the challenge of tackling the wild outdoors and domesticating a part of Mother Nature to put into our living room for a month.  I really love everything about the entire process;  from picking out the right one, to stringing the lights, to vacuuming up needles and scrubbing the sap off your hands with that grainy soap that hurts.

I can remember as a kid how going out to find a Christmas Tree was a huge part of the season for our family and we always had a real one.  Even during times when money was tight, dad would just kind of leave the house one afternoon with a bow saw and come back an hour later with a Christmas (ish) Tree.   I learned two great Christmas tree tips from my dad growing up.  The first being that the best time to pick out a Christmas Tree is on a cold rainy day in early December because you will have the pick of the lot and not have to compete with anyone else being there.  The second piece of advice (and one I have truly taken to heart) is that the only way you can be sure that you don’t end up with wasted space between the top of your Christmas tree and your ceiling is to start with something a smidge too big and work your way from there.  I am fortunate enough to have a house with vaulted ceilings in the living room now (because it was a strict selection criteria for this exact purpose) and I love filling that usually empty space with 12 feet of wilderness.  From the wrestle to get it up and straight, to finding the “front”, to being in your own real live vacuum commercial every day sucking up needles, having a (huge) live Christmas Tree is totally sweet.

P.S.

The title of this post is from a Christmas special I remember from childhood.  “Emmit Otter’s Jugband Christmas”  anyone else remember it?

Weak

I Just Saw that Thing the Other Day 

If any of you have any idea of where the remote to the TV in our bedroom is, any clues would be appreciated.  You see, around Tuesday of this week it went missing, and things just haven’t been the same since.  We have a likely suspect who enjoys picking up objects she can reach and carrying them around our house until she tires of the object and just drops it in whatever location she happens to be at the time.  The problem with this suspect is that she is impervious to my interrogation techniques.  Instead of being coerced to come clean with what she knows,  she just looks at me funny and mashes a handful of Cherios into her mouth, eating one and dropping the rest on the floor.  Then she smiles and talks some gibberish while I plead with her to tell me where she put it.

I hate losing anything and have an uncanny knack for knowing that I just saw something somewhere in our house and now have zero ability to link any images or clues together to remember where I saw it.  I wold venture to say that rarely a week goes by in my house without hearing at least one “I FOUND IT” being shouted from the basement or down the hall by the linen closet.  Sometimes we just accept that something is lost and know that it will turn up, other times we tear our house apart like our lives depend on it.  I hate to sound shallow here but losing a TV remote always results in the latter.  I honestly have no use for the television without the remote, to me it is like a bowl of cereal without any milk.

We are still looking for it, but thanks to the late Steve Jobs I am able to control my TV with an app on my phone so that is pretty clutch.  I am sure that we will find it eventually, tucked away in a shoe deep in a closet or mixed  in with a thousand other pieces of plastic in  her toy box.  Actually, those are two really good suggestions for places to look. sometimes I impress myself.  I guess until it does show up, we will continue to rough it like pioneers changing channels with our smart phones but not being able to control the volume.  Losing stuff is totally weak.


Free Sample?

Sweet

14 hundred hours, somewhere in metro Atlanta 

How do you know a movie you are watching is going to be good?  Favorite actor?  Good reviews?  Based on a book you liked?  Well for me,there is a litmus test that is tried and true.  Any movie that starts with the sound of a typewriter as courier font populates the screen telling me something like “16:00 hours somewhere in the Indian Ocean” will be a movie I like.   It may be cliché but  the typewriter intro has never let me down and I know when I see it that if all else fails this movie will probably have espionage, a car chase, and at least 3 explosions.  So basically, at bare minimum, not a waste of 2 hours.  I am not saying that all good movies start with the sound of a typewriter, I am saying that any movie that starts with the sound of a typewriter will be a solid investment.  In that same vein, a movie that starts with a montage set to some pop song where you see a person only from the neck down walking in and out of different shops and carrying different bags will probably be something you should just go ahead and stop now and use the next two hours evaluating your decision-making abilities.  To be completely honest, I am a sucker for a good romantic comedy and the great movies that use Christmas as a backdrop are one of my favorite parts of this time of year.  What is your favorite Holiday movie?  (what a cheap way to solicit your comments.)

 

Weak

Now what do I do with this toothpick? 

This past weekend I dined for lunch at a place called the Cajun Cafe.  I ordered “Cajun Chicken” and was then asked if I would like fried rice or Lo mein. What the heck?  You now get one guess on the type of dining establishment I was patronizing.  Correct, a mall food-court.  I am not certain when every place at the food court turned into Mandarin Express but I can tell you why.  The secret, my friend, lies in one small bite of saucy fried chickeny goodness on a toothpick being thrust into your personal space as you walk by.  Who turns down that little guilt free bite of awesome?  It rarely stops me dead in my tracks and causes me to drop everything an order a little styrofoam box of it.  But that sweet and tangy residue will linger on my palate long enough for me to give your eatery some serious consideration when decision time comes.  Inevitably when heaped in a pile into the big section of your to-go container it never has the same wow factor it did when the guy in the silly hat was out in front of the counter peddling his wares to the passer byes.  The thing about the free sample is that it always leaves you wanting more (that and toothpicks are awesome dining utensils).  One tiny piece of delicious chicken is just enough to peak our interest and not so much that we realize how “meh” it really is.  You can try asking for a toothpick and eating your entire meal with it but alas, you cannot capture the magic of a free sample.  Maybe it is a trend but for now, the next time you order a turkey sandwich or a gyro wrap in a food court be ready with your decision on adding an egg-roll for a dollar.  Cajun Cafe Lo mein?  Weak.


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