Christ Más

A couple times a year, I climb 30 feet up in the beautiful tree in our front yard.

Why?

I’ve got big balls. Big, chicken wire balls. Covered with lights. With extension cords.

Also, because I’m an idiot. That fact was driven home when a large gust of wind started me swaying at the top of said tree. I’ll admit that, for a second, I feared for my life as I tightly hugged a branch and closed my eyes, just waiting for the wind to die down. Even in the face of that, it was totally worth it: the tree looks beautiful at night.

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Opening THE GIFT on Christmas

See, I love Christmas. I love risking death in the tree and on the roof for the sake of pretty lights. I love the look and smell of a real, 10 foot tree in the living room. I love decorating it with my family. When my kids were younger, I even loved redecorating the tree to evenly distribute the ornaments from the two low branches on which they had hung all of theirs. I love stockings and garland. I love wreaths and Christmas music. I love Christmas cookies and egg nog. I love looking for the perfect gift and wrapping presents. I love the look on a child’s face when they open the gift. I love nativity scenes and advent calendars. I love Christmas cards and Christmas crackers. I love singing Silent Night in the candlelight of a Christmas Eve church service. And most of all, I love God-made-flesh, for us; good tidings of great joy for all the people. Continue reading

Best. Post. Ever.

We have a problem. And by we, I mean all of us. Or at least all of us in Modern Western Civilization. Not only do we have a problem, we have a BIG problem; quite possibly the biggest problem of all time. In fact, this problem is so huge it could spell the cataclysmic destruction of life as we know it. Is it disease? Worse. Is it global warming? Worse. Is it the Affordable Care Act website? Worse. Is it nuclear fallout? Much, much worse. I’m pretty sure it’s the worst thing ever.

Hyperbole.

That’s right, the source of our impending doom is a figure of speech. Let’s take a moment to consider just how rampant hyperbole has become in our culture. Continue reading

Let Me Be Frank.

Seriously.

Because Frank never had to deal with this stuff.

I was in the middle of writing a different blog post when I had an experience that got me thinking about other things. Those other things, though, were certainly familiar things to me. I’ve already written about this topic in my very first blog entry, “What’s In A Name?” So if you haven’t read that one, I suggest you do so, as I’ll be expounding on some of those themes.

Lately, my elder daughter had been having some issues with her iPod Touch. At some point, the front camera had stopped working. Yeah, I know, talk about your first world problems. My hand-held touch-screen electronic device only has one working camera! Selfies became harder to take, and that’s always a good thing, in my opinion. But in all seriousness, Facetime wasn’t all that effective without that camera working, and that was putting a damper on my daughter keeping up with her mom while my wife was at work overnight. And so, with the iPod still under warranty, I got online and scheduled an appointment at the nearest Apple store. Continue reading

On Marriage

We recently celebrated our 14th anniversary, so I feel inspired to share some thoughts on marriage. Just about everybody has an opinion about the recent Supreme Court rulings, and here’s mine: I hate the concept of Corporate Personhood. Not the ruling you thought I was about to mention? Probably not. But I’ll bet now you’re thinking. “What the heck does Corporate Personhood have to with marriage?”

I guess it depends on how far Corporate Personhood goes. Please understand, I feel very secure in my marriage. I don’t believe for one second that my wife would rather be married to anybody else on the entire planet. That said, I wouldn’t like my chances if I were competing for her affections with, say, Crate & Barrel. I only wish she would look at me like she does that catalog. Ladies, you know that feeling you get when you’re at a party with your husband, and Chesty McBouncyblouse walks across the room and starts talking to him? That’s how I feel when we’re at a mall with a Crate & Barrel store. Clearly, if taken far enough, the concept of Corporate Personhood could be a serious threat to my marriage.

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This place makes me nervous.

Anyway, there has been a lot of talk about defending traditional marriage, preserving biblical marriage, the sanctity of marriage, making a mockery of marriage, marriage being under fire, under attack, and so on. It should come as no surprise that as a married Christian, I strongly believe in the sanctity of marriage, and that the right to marry should therefore be denied to a select group of people in this country:

Celebrities. Continue reading

To Thine Own Selfie Be True

I’ll come clean right at the beginning of this. I am not big into social media. I’m not on Facebook. Which is to say I’ve never tagged or liked anyone or anything. I’m not on Twitter. Which is to say I’ve never tweeted or twit or twat, or whatever it is you do. I’m not on Pinterest. Which is to say I’m just not pinterested in whatever one does there.

My dear wife is on Facebook, however, and I’ll admit that I’ve taken a look at hers to see what the big deal is. Between that and the few times our oldest son has left his logged-in Facebook page up on my computer, my main takeaway is this:

People really like themselves.

Lots. Continue reading

Out, damned spot!

As a father of four, I’m often asked what advice I’d give to new parents. Sorry, that’s a complete lie. I’ve never been asked that, probably because people take one look at me at think “Whatever he’s doing, it’s not working.” Regardless, if I had only one piece of advice to give expecting parents, it would be this:

Buy stock in whatever company makes your favorite stain remover.

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Wait, how do I use this stuff?

I’m serious. Doing so could actually turn your kids into financial assets rather than liabilities. Because you are going to go through an olympic-size swimming pool’s worth of Shout by the time you’re done, especially if you have several kids. I would have used Spray ‘n Wash in the previous sentence, but it’s now just called Resolve, which sounds so snooty and sophisticated compared to the directions-included-in-the-product-name beauty that was Spray ‘n Wash. Nobody ever had to ask the question, “So how do I use this Spray ‘n Wash stuff?” Bad move, Resolve. Continue reading

Giving Dad His Due

Another Father’s Day has come and gone.

I know, I know — it’s been a few weeks now. But in my defense, we celebrated it late because we were on vacation on the real date, so maybe it’s fresher in my mind than it is for the rest of you. I must admit that I tend to feel a little bad for my wife since Father’s Day always falls less than two weeks after my birthday. But then I remember that her birthday is barely more than two weeks before Christmas, and then I don’t feel so bad anymore.

Daddy4

She said it, not me.

Anyway, my dear wife must think I’m a pretty good father, because she never fails to conspire with our kids to make it a wonderful day for me. That said, I have a complaint that comes from being a good father, if that’s what I am.

I work from home. I have a flexible schedule. The result is that I’m very involved in my kids’ lives. I coach their soccer teams. I volunteer at their school. I drive them to gymnastics. I watch tennis matches. I never miss a concert or school performance. You can see us playing at the park, riding bikes, finding books at the library, running errands, shopping for groceries, walking for a fun treat of frozen yogurt. What’s funny is that my wife only works one day (a 24-hour shift) per week, so we’re both around a lot. Together we joke that people in our community must think we’re independently wealthy because we are both around almost all the time. Continue reading

Dog Days

I may be an artist, but I also fancy myself a bit of a scientist. When scientists want to learn about an animal, they have two methods at their disposal: kill it and take it apart, or observe the creature in its natural habitat. In other words, you can either study what it’s made of, or what it’s like. As part of my quest for scientific discovery, I have repeatedly embedded myself for an entire day in the natural habitat of perhaps the most bizarre and fascinating creatures on the planet: Schoolchildren.

What gives me the opportunity to do this is an awesome program known as Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students), which is affiliated with the National Center for Fathering at www.fathers.com. The purpose of the program is to give your school a little extra shot of testosterone, to give your school an extra set of eyes inside and outside the building, and to give dads the opportunity to invest in their kids and greater community during the school day. Being a self-employed artist and designer, I am blessed to have a flexible enough schedule that I can commit to serving as the Watchdog once a month. On my last Watchdog day of the year, I worked on math with some kindergarteners, read aloud to first graders (redeeming myself from my last nightmarish experience with this — documented in this older post), played basketball with third graders, rode swings with a couple of fourth graders, worked on math with a small group of third graders, and ate lunch with first, third and sixth graders. For scientific purposes, I will share some of my observations as Watchdog with you, my valued readers (all eight of you). Continue reading

Knights & Princesses

I’ve never won the lottery, but I consider myself a very lucky man. Not only am a married to an amazing woman, but we’ve been blessed with four kids (at last count). Even luckier though, I have two daughters. Please don’t get me wrong — I love my sons dearly, and I admit that a father’s relationship with all of his children is vital. But there is something different about daughters, and not just different about them, but even the bond I have with them is inherently different from what I have with my sons.

This father and his girls in 2007

This father and his girls in 2007

As an example, I’ll freely admit that I’m more protective of my girls than my boys. And it’s not from some misogynistic view that girls are more fragile or weak. To me, girls represent all that’s beautiful and sacred in the world, and that makes them inherently more magical. Onyx and diamonds are both strong, but only the diamond sparkles. It’s like that for me. Little girls just sparkle, and not in a lame-ass Twilight kinda way. They radiate beauty, and I don’t want to see anything tarnish that. I want to guard all of my kids, but the tone of it is a little different. Hurt my boys, and I won’t like you. Hurt my girls, and I want to rip out your lungs and make kabobs out of them. Continue reading

a Pain in the Vas

My wife loves sleep. Loves it. My wife also loves babies. Loves them. Unfortunately for her, those two things are mutually exclusive. After four pregnancies and newborns to deal with, sleep finally won the war. And so, a little over seven years ago, we found ourselves sitting in the urologist’s office, waiting for my vasectomy consultation. Why write about it now, you ask? Well, I have some friends who have recently gone through this, as well as a few who are considering it at the moment. So consider this a “The More You Know” public service announcement. Continue reading