Transcendence On the Way to Preschool

Claire

In life there are few moments of transcendence, or perhaps better said, there are few moments of transcendence that we recognize and commit to memory, and even fewer that are clear enough to shift our existential bearings and redefine our hopes.

When they do happen, they’re usually fleeting, they’re often mundane (given our inability to see the forest for the trees), and unless our emotions and spirit communicate, they’re usually glanced over so as to leave no trace of meaning.

For me the dark glass is lowered and transcendence is recognized almost always in the presence of my children, in particular aside my oldest daughter Claire (four years old). It happens simply, when undeterred joy emanates from my daughter and I feel partly to blame; when somehow my being her dad and being present in her life plays a role in it all.

It has happened at a pizza parlor as Claire watches her younger sister Maren do the funniest thing ever: refuse to keep her feet off the table. I’ve been wise enough to notice it as Claire is caught in a whirlwind of leaves, a recently raked pile behind her, the remnants of fall clinging to her hair and eyebrows.

Most recently it happened in the car, on the way to preschool. Claire and I have a tradition: We crank the volume up on the radio and act wild. We do this to get our crazies out—something both of us need to do before entering the real world where calmness and put-togetherness are most admired. A hit song from a few years ago comes on and we’re both dancing; we’re both unhinged. I look back and catch a glimpse of her, lost in the moment without concern. To make her laugh, I look forward and scream. I pretend the traffic cones on the side of the road are a brick wall and I’m about to hit them. I’m nowhere near them and I hit nothing but the explosion is real; it’s Claire in the back seat, head back, erupting with laughter; she’s like an infant guffawing for the first time at something that’s only funny in the beginning: a coo, a song, a bark, the tearing of paper, an older sister shaking her head inches away.

To see this innocent, explosive, in-the-moment elation was too much for me; I sobbed. I was happy. I was sad. I was nostalgic. I was worrying about the day she wouldn’t think a fake collision with traffic cones was funny anymore. I was in limbo.

I was no longer in the car. I was no longer on earth. I was outside looking in. I entered a realm that felt like home in a strange land. The meaning was clear and it was mine. And then I watched my Claire put on her backpack and walk toward school, a big girl.

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Crowded, dumpy Pizzeria, 12:30pm: This is Happiness

Claire, Pizza, Happiness  2

So much of the human experience is spent in the pursuit of happiness. People define/redefine happiness and then spend the rest of the time looking for it, as if it was a lost puppy they’re certain to recognize and love once it’s found.

Happiness has become a destination, an X at the end of a long, squiggly line that’s pressed between folded pages and tucked beneath an old pair of blue jeans on the top shelf of a storage closet—the best place to keep the best things that will be the best when they finally get used.

The things people do to be happy, the journeys taken, the experiences had, they are a means to an end. Happiness is the great if/then statement when it should be a fond feeling in the ever-present, ever-fleeting now.

For Me, Today was Different

Today, my wife and two daughters (Claire, four and Maren, five-months old) met me at work. We walked two and half blocks to a nearby pizzeria—my favorite in our little city. The Pie Hole is dumpy: it’s covered in flour, the walls are lined with empty PBR beer cans, the tables and chairs are rickety, the crowd is diverse and constantly coming and going, and the pizza is the best in town.

On Mondays, five dollars gets you two slices and a drink. We spent ten dollars, dusted some crumbs from a vacant table, found a third chair, and sat down to lunch. Maren was in my arms and wouldn’t stop pressing her legs against the edge of the table. I’d pull her back, her legs would drop, and she’d lift them right back up again and press them against the table. Claire, across from me, a mouth full of half-masticated pepperoni pizza, thought this was the funniest thing in the world.

I looked at my oldest daughter. I squeezed my youngest. I glanced at my beautiful wife. This was happiness. It didn’t matter what happened on the walk back to work. The next day, the next year was irrelevant; for in those few minutes, in the thick of a crowded, dumpy pizzeria… I was happy.

Claire and Pizza an Happiness 2

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Christmas Was A Beach

Here’s me being WAY romantic

I know this is late and I know what you’re probably thinking, how can Christmas be a beach? Did you magically change it from a holiday to a pebbly or sandy shore by the ocean? And the answer would be no, no I did not. I did, however, leave the freezing, snow-capped mountains of Utah with my family of three to join an extended family of over 20 in one beach house just 30 feet from the sunny, wonderful beach and the freezing, no-less wonderful ocean. Usually leaving a wintery wonderland during Christmas would feel like an abandonment, a betrayal, but not this year. It could not have been more Christmasy and it was one of the best vacations I have ever had.

Why Was This One Of The Best Vacations Ever?

There are a lot of reasons this was a fantastic trip. I will not bore you with all of them, just most of them. For one, it was great to have all my siblings (except Chris who is in Bahrain…yeah I don’t know where it is either) and their spouses and kids crammed in one house—it was chaotic but for that very reason, fun. I liked the small Christmas tree on a shelf, mountains of presents scattered everywhere, gross leftover sweet and sour soup (that only my dad liked) in the fridge from the first night’s Chinese food, sodas lined up like soldiers on the kitchen counter, noise, new born twin babies crying, toddler cousins all dressed in similar jammies laughing, and me constantly breaking up the fight or fit started by my daughter, who despite being one of the best kids ever can also be quite the bodag.

Present time!

twins

New born twins, Benjamin and Thomas!

It was a very memorable ambience in an unforgettable setting. The beach was literally a five second walk away and even though the locals thought we were crazy, that didn’t stop us from swimming and boogie boarding everyday. To be honest, the water was no colder than it was in August, and after you’d been out ten minutes you were num to it, so you could fight on, catching an occasional awesome wave, no feeling in your toes, all the way to the shore. It was great.

The most attractive stance ever (me on left). Thanks Grandpa Marshall

We had a volleyball/badminton net right next to our beach house. We had many an impromptu game, but the most memorable of all was America VS. Brazil. A group of Brazilians approached us, challenged us, played us, and we walked away victorious. It was a game full of laughs, language barriers (my cousin Chase kept speaking to them in Spanish), and a lot of fun.

There was the Home Alone Marathon where Ryan, my older brother, was again crowned the victor of Home Alone Trivia and my sister-in-law April was crowned the most recent winner of the Home Alone quote contest.

Christmas morning. Grandkids and grandparents.

There were the gifts the kids loved. Claire with the teepee my beautiful wife finished making her a couple nights before. And then there were the Ninja Turtles PJs that I thought Claire would love—after opening them, we asked her if she wanted to wear them, she just said no. Her and all her cousins had PJs with different princesses on them, so I don’t blame her. (She’s wears her Michelangelo PJs now).

Princess PJs with cousins and aunt.

There was Rinda trying out surfing for the first time and loving it, and looking natural as she did it. She was surfing. I saw her. She was also crashing and getting enveloped in massive waves, but she was surfing and she was happy.

The babe and the waves.

There was my family’s gift to my dad: an authentic Indian headdress (my dad’s been known to dress up) and the photo of him wearing it, sitting in front of Claire’s teepee.

Chief Wanna-Hawk-A-Loogie.

Truth be told, there were a lot of things, but the number one reason this vacation was SO incredible was that it was simple. I know, I know. Getting people from all over the country to San Diego, existing in one small space, avoiding contention is not simple, but once we were there, it was. We didn’t try to cram too much into the time we had. There were options presented everyday but almost always we chose to hang around the beach house so we could hit the beach. If we got too tired or too cold, we could just go back and relax with a bunch of people we like being around.

We walked the boardwalk (whatever it’s called in the west), saw sea lions, ate plenty of nearby Mexican food, and so much more. Beach, house, beach, house. No stressful or long days away. It was miraculous. Oh, and Claire, with her cousins to convince her, actually got in the water and loved it, and Abigail, her cousin, who wouldn’t step off the beach towel previous to this trip for fear of the sand decided playing and covering her entire body in sand was a fun, good idea.

Oh, did I forget to mention: it was in the 70s the entire time! Heaven my dear Watson, heaven.

The Moral Of The Story

Needless to say, the moral of the story is this: food, fun, good people, that’s a recipe for a great time. Thanks mom and dad for putting this trip together (and paying for the beach house) and thanks family for being family.

Until next time.

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The Worst Christmas Song Ever

I need to talk about something serious. With the exception of my two-year-old daughter Claire, who this year has joined the ranks of those who love and constantly listen to Christmas music during the holiday season, I am the biggest Christmas music lover I know.

Many do not share my sentiment. In fact, you may be a grinch who hates that Christmas music even exists and that it blasts triumphantly through the cheap speakers of every supermarket and mall, but not caring a button about the complaints and whining and christmas-ruining of Scrooges like you, I shall continue to talk about the sounds of the season.

My Tradition

I start listening to Christmas music November 1st, and I don’t mean occasionally. At work it’s constantly playing on Spotify. If I am in the car, the radio station with “long sets” of “holiday favorites” is on and being sung along to. If I have time at home, yup, you got it, I am listening to Christmas music.

I listen to all types of Christmas music—classical, instrumental, religious, jazz, pop, R & B, operatic…. I could go on forever baby.

spotify:track:17oy9DhHqTmdNRwV1E5fKz

To get you through this post, I have shared some great Christmas songs along the way

My favorite Christmas music artists are, but are not limited to, Harry Connick Jr, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Jim Croce, The Carpenters, Weezer, The Robertsons, Elvis Presley, The Irish Tenors, Michael Buble, James Brown, Boys II Men, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee, Perry Como, John Lennon, John Denver, The Muppets, She and Him, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Burl Ives, Wham… and this is only a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my Christmas time playlist.

If you ask me, I can confidently tell you the best version of every Christmas classic.

spotify:track:604DTaRINInOPt26OBBNU6

So, it’s fair to say that I have heard a lot of Christmas music. I have listened to so many wonderful tunes and have been shockingly disappointed by how bad some Christmas albums are, even some by my favorite artists.

spotify:track:7FFeHKYv7Cj4haT4wqOpQg

The Worst

But enough context, let’s get to the meat of this post, the reason I titled it “The Worst Christmas Song Ever.” Everybody has a Christmas song they cannot stand, even us Christmas music lovers. For my mom it’s Paul McCartney’s “Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time.” For my wife, it’s any song sung by Josh Groban. I like Paul’s song and Josh’s album, but whatever.

Christmas Shoes

Many argue that “Christmas Shoes” is the worst Christmas song ever. They’re right that it’s not a good Christmas song. It’s contrived, overplayed, and obnoxiously sung. That being said, it’s not the worst Christmas song ever. I’ll even admit, the first time I heard it the message did come across as valuable (if you can get beyond the “he was dirty from head to toe” moments), even if it was delivered in such an annoying way.

Speaking of Christmas Shoes:

Mary Did You Know?

I submit that another song, with an equally valuable message, is worse than “Christmas Shoes.” “Mary Did You Know” is an awful Christmas song, especially when sung by a breathy, over-dramatic man. I cannot listen to it. Even I, the holly jolly Christmas music man, must change the station if it comes on. But it is NOT the worst Christmas song ever.

Bruce Springsteen

The worst Christmas song ever, the one stations insist on playing again and again, every year, the song that’s like fingernails on a chalkboard, sand in your teeth, sunburn on your shoulder is Bruce Springsteen’s idiotic live version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I hate it so much. It takes hours to get started and then it just simmers as Bruce obnoxiously throws around contrived banter with his band mates and then the audience; and it’s SO long.

So Christmas music lovers everywhere, even you haters, boycott that song. Refuse to listen to it. If that doesn’t work, call your station and tell them they’re doing a disservice to humanity by playing that most odious of tunes.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Please tell me why I am wrong in the comments. Let me know what you think the worst Christmas song ever is. More importantly, tell me about your favorite Christmas song.

My next post will be about essential Christmas reading, so tune in!

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We’re All Confused Children That Need Help

I’m not old. I’m only 28, soon to be 29. And while my sense of humor may suggest otherwise, I’m not (and I don’t feel like) a child—at least not usually. For me, and for all of us I assume, there are moments in life that the inexplicable happens, moments where our limited experience in this thing we called existence leaves us unprepared or incapable of understanding the pain and confusion that surrounds us.

For My Wife It Was Five Years Ago This Sunday

We had only been dating a couple of months. I will never forget the moment she heard the news. We were driving in her car along a windy road. It was night. It was dark. She received a phone call and, being overcome with emotion, had to pull over. She stepped outside and started pacing in front of the car, back and forth, cutting through the glow of her headlights. I stayed inside. I wanted to give her some space. From the call I knew that someone had died but I didn’t know who. After she hung up the phone she collapsed in the street. I ran to her. I sat on the pavement with her. When she had recomposed a bit we got back into her car. I drove. I kept my eyes on the road as she whimpered in the passenger seat. Her father had died. He was young too.

We spent that night on the couch. Me sitting up, awake, comforting her in any way I could (there was no real way to comfort her), and her laying on my knee. She would sporadically wake up, cry, and then fall asleep again. Her tears wet my jeans.

It was then that I knew I loved her—which surprised me. Despite only knowing her for a matter of months I knew that if she were to ever experience something as heart-wrenching or confusing as this again, I wanted to be the one to comfort her. It may have been the only thing I knew in that moment but I knew, like I know the sun will rise each morning, that if the frustration and pain of the world left her defenseless, like a child, I wanted to be her defense. As weak and pathetic as I am, I wanted to protect her, to care for her.

For My Two-Year-Old Daughter It Was Yesterday

It was around 3:15 in the morning when my wife and I heard the small, confused voice of our small child. “Mommy, mommy, help.” She had thrown up in her crib. We had just gotten over a 24-hour bug and now she had it. If I could make it so, I would have a world where children never get ill. They don’t understand it. Their experience rejects it. Never have I felt more helpless than when my little girl is sick or sad. Never have I loved her more.

Throughout the night she would jump to her knees and cry out “mommy” or “daddy.” We’d hold a small metal bowl in front of her and she would throw up it in again and again. After she’d finished she’d curl up in a ball. She took turns snuggling up so close to my wife and I that we were nearly falling off the bed. We didn’t sleep. She never cried. She handled it like a champ but I could tell she was sad. Her eyes betrayed her sweet nature. She was frightened and no “It’s going to be okay” or “I love you” spoken softly by my wife or I chased the pains in her stomach away.

The first real food she ate was a small piece of a banana. As she was chewing it she said, “oh mommy, it tastes so good.” She threw it up. At dinner she begged and begged for some bread. We finally caved in and gave her a small piece. She ate it like the characters in the movies, who have not had a meal in a long time, eat their food.

This morning she woke up at 6:00. She felt better. She wouldn’t stop talking about food. Like a little hobbit she was listing everything she wanted to eat: milk, bread with jam, scrambled eggs, tomatoes. It broke my heart to hear it. She didn’t understand why she had to go hungry for so long. My saint of a wife made her a feast of all her requested food. She devoured it.

For Me It’s Every Time…

For me I feel lost, confused, and in pain every time I’m called to be the protector, the defender, the care-giver to someone else who is scared and unsure. I feel like a child when my own wife or daughter need me to be a man, an adult. It’s then that my experience fails me. It’s then that my existence comes full circle. And then that I’m grateful to know that I, too, am a lost child. I’m grateful to know I have a Heavenly Father that knows how to comfort me, protect me, care for me.

Who or what has helped you when you’re confused or in pain?

 

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I Soiled My Brother’s Bell Bottoms On Halloween

My costume this year is Garth from SNL’s Garth and Kat (see below).

Last night, driving home from last-minute Halloween costume shopping (I know, I said I wasn’t going to do that, but hey the costume is good), my wife asked me when Halloween changed from being a holiday (or pagan ritual) where you dressed up as something scary to a holiday where you can dress up as anything—wearing as much or as little as you like. I didn’t have the answer. However, her question got me thinking of Halloweens of old.

I’d Rather Be Silly Than Scary

As long as I can remember, with the exception of maybe a homemade tiger outfit my mom made me when I was a wee lad, I’ve never dressed up as anything frightening. Grotesque, bloody, or repulsive outfits are not my thing. Some of you like scary. You love the horror movies that make you feel like Satan is breathing down your neck or a murderer will tie you up and throw you in his/her van as you’re walking to your car. I do not. I prefer Casper, The Burbs, Hocus Pocus, Zombie Land, Nightmare Before Christmas—essentially I prefer kid or comedy Halloween.

My Costumes Are Proof

So, rather than dress up like Freddie, Jason, or a guy who recently got run over, I dress up in costumes that make me laugh, even if no one else thinks they’re funny. One year I thought I’d make a killing dressing up as a “weird hippie.” Clearly I lacked originality, but hey, I was in the fourth grade, I didn’t know that. Since I didn’t have hippie clothes or money to buy any, I raided my older brother’s closet and found his off-white, color-striped bell bottoms. He wouldn’t know I wore them, right? I’d just slip them back in his closet at the end of the night. If I would have known then that the next time I brought them home they would be covered in poo, I wouldn’t have taken them.

I Soiled My Brother’s Bell Bottoms On Halloween

As I said before, I was in the 4th grade when it happened. I wish I could say it was the last time I soiled my pants, but alas, two years living in Mexico and a dairy intolerance would make that statement a lie. It was Halloween night and I was happy as a weird hippie could be trick or treating in the neighborhoods within a couple mile radius of my parents’ house. Everyone was opening their doors, candy was being tossed about like a drug lord’s money, and crazy kids were snatching it up without hesitation and slipping it into their plastic buckets or pillow cases.

All was well and then it happened. My stomach started to growl a vicious growl, a growl so low and rumbly it could only mean one thing: if I didn’t get to a bathroom soon, I was going to mess my pants.

I hurried to the next house. The owner opened the door, candy bucket in hand, waiting for me to say the three magic words. But trick or treat never left my mouth, instead a rushed, perhaps overly excited, “Can I use your bathroom?” passed through my lips. The large man in the dumb orange shirt that had This Is My Halloween Costume written on the front gawked as if he’d never heard such a request. I recomposed and said, “please,” but to no success. He just handed me a peanut butter taffy and said, “I don’t think so.”

I rushed to several more houses and asked the same question to the same results. Somehow, every decent person in the world was willing to open their door and hand out candy to strangers, but no one would let me use their bathroom—candy cost money, letting me go to the bathroom cost nothing and I’d even flush a couple of times during the download so it didn’t stink. No argument prevailed. I had but one course left: run the mile or so to my parents’ house. Which, if you have any experience in nearly pooping your pants, you know is a near impossibility.

I made it to the field 100 yards from my house and had to stop running. I shuffled forward a few feet but it was of no use. My stomach won the race and my clenched buttocks unclenched. The next thing I knew I was in my parents’ laundry room throwing out my socks.

Despite The Mess, Halloween Was Still A Success

My brother came home before I could scrape the pants and properly wash them. He was mad and relentlessly mocked me. But that’s okay. Moments later, changed into my PJs, I was sitting Native American style in a circle with my siblings. I was once more a participating member in our annual candy trading session. The delicious sweets overshadowed the accident and I made some good trades. After all that had happened, the night was not a waste (no pun intended). And it only took a few years for my brother to stop calling me poopy hippie.

As messy as that Halloween was, it is cemented (perhaps not the best word to use here) in my memory as one of my favorite Hallow’s Eve memories. It was hilarious.

For Those Of You Who Like Scary More Than Silly, Check This Out:

If you have a little money and a bit of time and you love the frightening aspect of Halloween, you should probably visit these seven terrifying haunted attractions around the world:

http://www.priorityonejets.com/blog/just-tell-make-believe-7-terrifying-haunted-attractions-around-world/

Happy Halloween! Have any scary or embarrassing memories of October 31st? I bet you can’t top mine.

 

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My Near-Death Experience In A Snow Igloo

A quinzhee made in Finland

Our igloo looked nothing like this one.

In honor of winter—everyone’s favorite season—I’ll be traveling back in time to a more care-free period of my existence. I was 14 or maybe 15, I had a great group of friends, and I lived in a small town about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia.

Unlike the thick and blustery winters I experience here, in Salt Lake City, the winters there were pretty pathetic; and people’s preparation for the cold was even more pathetic—they’d close school for one inch of snow. Here, kids trudge and shiver through feet of snow on their way to elementary school. But that’s beside the point.

One Time I Almost Died

Or at least, in the moment, I really thought, “This is it. This is how I’m heading out of this cold world.” And when I thought cold, I was referring to the weather. Like I mentioned before, it was winter.

As it didn’t snow a ton in Pennsylvania, my pals and I did the best with the snow we had. One day, possibly a weekend, probably a weekday after school, we were making an igloo in the only probable spot: the pile of snow made by the city plow.

Now, all of us came from good homes with good parents and had heard from our moms that making igloos is a dangerous business; “kids die in them every year.” We’d also heard our dads say, “when you make an igloo, make sure to pack the snow first, so it doesn’t collapse.” We happily ignored both bits of counsel. Igloos are fun and packing the snow beforehand makes them smaller.

English: An igloo made for fun by teenage boys...

Here’s another sample of what our igloo DID NOT look like. And those aren’t my shoes.

The snow mound was probably six to eight feet tall. We had excavated a sizable hole and were in the process of shaping the inside and outside. My friends worked on the outer edge as I cleared snow from the inside—something I realize now was not the safest of arrangements.

They (I’m not sure who they are) say your senses amplify when you’re about to die, that your survival instincts kick in and your suddenly able to see, hear, smell, and taste everything clearer than ever before. I do remember hearing the crunch and then feeling the crack in my back when the igloo collapsed and six feet of snow pinned me to the ground, but what I remember most is not being able to breathe.

My life didn’t pass before my eyes. I didn’t see the faces of my loved ones or reach out longingly to my future wife. I just thought, “you gotta be kidding me. I’m going to die like this, trapped in a pile of dirty snow and gravel. What a dumb way to die.” Of course I was scared, but I was almost more angry. I could’t go like this.

I had already tried to lift myself and failed. But somehow I found the strength and the will to get my knees beneath me. From there, with all the force I could muster, I pushed upward, towards the sky, towards life. To my amazement it worked. My face broke the surface. I took a deep breath and was dug out by my panicked friends.

Once I was out my friends started laughing. I said nothing to them. I just threw punches in their direction. Without a word I headed home. Those dumb kids had no idea how frightened and mad I was. Only now do I realize that I was only able to get out because they were digging on top, probably frantically digging. I never said thanks. Thanks friends.

For two weeks I could barely move. My back just hurt too bad. I probably sprained it. But I was breathing, walking, alive—something I need to remember more often.

I’m breathing, walking, alive.

Happy Winter. Don’t make igloos.

Have you had a near-death experience? What happened? What ran through your mind?

Building an iglu in Cape Dorset (southern regi...

This isn’t me.

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Horse Trotting Through The Mall With Claire

Yesterday Rinda picked me up from work and we drove home together. It was nice. Instead of two hours on bus and train, it was only 50 minutes in car, and I was with my family.

Play Time

We didn’t go straight home, which was also nice. We went to the mall. Rinda went to West Elm to order a butter dish. Claire and I stayed outside to play. A creek runs through the middle of this mall and there are benches, chairs, and couches spread throughout, most on the banks of the small river. I don’t know why, but I told Claire that it would be so funny to run and sit on a chair.
We did. We ran. We giggled. We sat on a chair, very briefly, and then we ran to the next sitting spot. Claire thought this was the funniest, most fun thing in the world. And she was right. Running through this mall, pretending to be on a horse and trotting my way down the winding paths, my little girl at my heels or right in front of me, her crazy curly hair flying behind her, her small hand pointing to a chair in the distance and saying, “look dad, that one is sooo funny” is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. And I’m not exaggerating.

Looking Like A Fool 

Rinda loved seeing her grown-up husband horse trot through the mall giggling like a little kid too. Actually, she didnt’t care at all, because like me, she knows that looking like a fool in public is worth it if it makes your child happy. That being said, she probably could have done without my yelling, “hi ho silver” as I galloped about.

I love my family.

PS, the short dance parties we had in every store that was playing dancey music were also awesome.

We ended the night with Mexican food (see video below). What a day.

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Yes, I’m A Fan Of Harry Potter

English: Coat of arms of Hogwarts school of wi...

Rinda surprised me with a gift: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cook Book. So awesome. I had admired it a number of times at Barnes and Noble and had even expressed desires to drink Butterbeer, eat Cauldron Cakes, and devour Pumpkin Pasties (not those kind of pasties)—now I can.

The gift wasn’t for a special occasion, but as it’s connected (even if unofficially) to the Harry Potter world, it’s a perfect Fall, Halloween, and early Christmas gift. My wife knows her man. (Now I need to stop sucking at surprising her… maybe this was a hint).

The cook book has paragraphs explaining where in the series the food was mentioned or consumed, and even goes over the history of the cuisine. I cannot express how excited I am to try the many desserts, the fruit and meat pies, the treacle tart!

Harry Potter Is Important To me

Few pieces of fiction have meant as much to me as Harry Potter. I know, you’re thinking, really? And my answer is… really.

There’s something about the friendship, magic, humor, history, school (Hogwarts), food!, the combined efforts to fight evil in Harry Potter (and so much more) that makes it a fun, but also important, and even invaluable read.

Don’t Disregard Fiction

I can’t help but get annoyed when someone disregards the series because “it’s for kids,” or “I don’t read fiction.” If it’s for kids, good, we’re all children, read it and learn something. If you don’t read fiction, start. The human imagination, its ability to perceive the imperceivable, to assign meaning, to find value, to appreciate life’s wonders, is one of our great abilities; don’t put it on the shelf or use it sparingly, only with “true” stories. Truth does not require a historical document. Sometimes all it needs is a reconciliation between understanding and experience, something that can occur, and often does occur, vicariously.

With Food I Can Transcend

To be honest, I won’t mind if cooking and eating dishes from Harry Potter brings me one step further into the magical world created by J.K. Rowling. I wish it were a real world. What a dream it would be to disapparate and turn up in The Burrow; to have Mrs. Weasley invite me to sit down to dinner and dessert with her family and her guests (she always has guests); to finish a bounteous meal and then just sit together in the front room, too full to speak, with only Celestina Warbeck’s “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love” playing on the wireless to interrupt our stupor.

Yeah, I’m a fan.

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Dear Government: Grow Up Or You’re Grounded

Yesterday my wife and I ate dinner with some friends. The food was delicious, the conversation lively, and the company fun and refreshing. While we talked, Claire, our two-year-old daughter, ran around and played with Elliot, our friends’ four-year-old son—it’s amazing how loud two little people can be.

Claire and Elliot had a lot of fun screaming, spinning on chairs, playing tag, starting 6 different movies. They had fun playing with Elliot’s toys, but also got into a lot of tussles because of them. Elliot wanted to play with his toys. Claire wanted to play with “her” toys (if she was holding a toy, it was hers). Therefore the battle. Elliot wanted control of his own toys and Claire doesn’t quite understand the idea of ownership and is still getting used to sharing.

They are children. They feel entitled, they seek independence, they want stuff. They are children.

The Government Is Not A Child

The government feel entitled. They refuse to play with the other side (both sides) and each new movement/party/cause, rather than seek out collaboration, seeks their own agenda and further alienates themselves. The government wants stuff but forgets that everything they have—their freedom, their authority, their stewardship—was given to them by others, others whose interest should take priority over constant tussles for this or that toy.

Like a child needs to learn to share, our government needs to learn to work together. You should be weary of individuals and parties who will not, under any circumstance, work with another team. That’s childish. Sadly, unlike with children, there is no time out, no chair in the corner, no go to bed early for our friends in power. Rather, they keep lining their pockets while paychecks for hard-working Americans get put on hold, while real people are affected.

As my brother Chris would say: grow up.

*This post REALLY is not meant to be an attack on any specific group, party, or person. It’s me venting about two sides that need to remember why they’re doing what they’re doing.

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