Tag Archives: humor

I’m Creating A Ham

As a parent I’m interested in helping my child discover and develop talents and skills. Rather than force my own interests on her—her existing in the same space as me is influence enough—I do my best to notice and point out things she does well or shows interest in.

Dancing

For example, from a young age Claire has loved to dance, more so than most little ones. So I made a point to encourage her dancing. I took the time to compliment her on her moves—even if it was nothing more than an over excited head bob. Today, she still loves to dance, and I love to dance with her. Her focus and ability to remember the little moves I’ve taught her is quite impressive. Where there’s music, she’ll be the first and last person dancing. I love it when she says, “daddy, I wanna dance wit you.”

Hamming

But dancing is not all she loves or does well. She is also a ham. My two-year-old daughter is constantly doing and saying things that are hilarious. Trouble is, and true to our family heritage, she’s doing most of it intentionally, so she knows (or thinks) she’s funny. I’m partially to blame. I see humor as a very important talent—it helps us find joy, companionship (my wife certainly wasn’t smitten by my looks when we met), it’s fun!, it serves as a stress reliever and a coping mechanism… “I could go on forever baby” (name that movie reference).

So, if Claire is good at “being funny,” why not encourage her sense of humor. When she does something that cracks me up I honestly tell her, “that was funny Claire,” or “you’re funny,” and she knows and appreciates what I mean. She is now stopping me to say, “daddy, watch” right before she makes a funny face, body movement, or strange voice. She is being a comedian (I’m sure future school teachers are just going to LOVE me).

Vine Time With Daddy

Another thing she loves is “daddy time.” Every so often, when Rinda is busy or tired, I’ll take Claire out on a daddy-daughter date. This could be dinner, shopping, a simple walk around downtown, or just hanging out at home. She loves it. In fact, sometimes we’ll all be walking out the door and Claire will push Rinda back inside and say, “seeya in a bit mommy, I going with daddy.”

So, knowing that she loves being funny and doing stuff with Dad, I decided to start making short six second videos using Vine. Claire and I act and Rinda films and directs. Claire loves watching back the videos and repeating her lines. It’s really silly and really fun, and here is the evidence:

(Hover over the image and click the speaker icon in the top left corner for sound.)

Did you like the videos? We plan on making more, so keep an eye on the channel. Do you have fun activities you like to do with your child or family member (nephew, niece, etc.)? Tell me in the comments below or else… JK, but seriously, tell me.

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An LTT Sandwhich — Hold the Bread

Life is tricky. It likes to throw curve balls. Which, when I come to think of it, is impressive — I can’t throw curve balls. And, just like in baseball, each pitch can end in a multitude of ways: a strike, a home run, a black eye. The important thing to know is that the batter (the liver of life) has a hand in how it ends. That’s not to say the LOL (liver of life) has complete control, but they have a say in the matter.

With practice and experience, confidence can grow. Adapting to the pitches as they come, switching up your stance, tightening up your grip, keeping both eyes on the ball, and getting the timing just right, can all help. When a LOL is active, doing something, making decisions, and not stepping back from the plate, much good can come, even if the pitch is thrown, the bat is swung, and the ball explodes in the catcher’s mitt.

I recently read that, and excuse the horrendous paraphrase, suffering is not caused by unfortunate events in life but by our response to those events. People, in controlling their thoughts, their attitudes, can shape their existence. I know, I know, this is all fine and good until the car breaks down, the bank account flashes zero, and your neighbor’s kid throws a watermelon through your kitchen window; but bear with me. If you will, allow me a moment of your time — you’re already here, might as well stay — to share a recent experience my wife and I had. One that is neither too awesome or too funny — it’s just everyday, regular — so of course, it’s the kind of experience that matters most.

It was Wednesday. The meeting was over and I’d just stepped outside when my phone rang. It was Rinda. She wanted me to go to the store and pick up a few things: peppered turkey, a head of lettuce, yeast packets, and dough enhancer (whatever the H that is). She was making wheat bread and it was to be used for sandwiches. I’m a fan of homemade bread and sandwiches, so I complied.

I hate to do this, but I am going to stick with the baseball metaphor as a way to highlight the balls, strikes, and hits of our experience.

I was at the store. Everything I needed was in the cart except for the dough enhancer. Again, what is dough enhancer? I’m smart enough to assume that it enhances dough, and thanks to the disturbing infomercials and early morning radio ads you hear about other types of enhancements, I could gather that it improves bread’s ability to rise; but still, what was it? A powder? a liquid? Two stones you clap together while spinning in an office chair? Already having lost my pride due to the mental link I made between dough enhancer and other enhancers, I had no problem reaching out for help — I asked the nearest old woman (the official makers of homemade bread, right?) if she knew what or where dough enhancer was. She did not. I let Rinda know my excursion to find the world’s first dough enhancer was a failure, she understood. BALL 1.

At home, Rinda started the bread, but not before she realized she had somewhere to be in an hour or two; meaning I was left in charge of part of the preparation process. If I could have, I would have declined: it’s always best to be as far removed from the success or failure of a new recipe as  possible — both outcomes can be disastrous. That did not stop Rinda from repeating and then, again, repeating my tasks: put a hot, moist towel over the dough; put the dough in the oven; let it rise; after so much time, pull it out; knead it; let it rise some more.

When, in response to her request, I repeated the steps in a high voice, while doing a silly dance, Rinda was not amused. I’ve said it before, but my wife does not think I’m funny. Good thing I think I’m funny, or life and dough making would be a lot more boring. BALL 2.

Rinda left, leaving me to my silly dance and dough duty; and that, of course, is when strike one came hard and fast. I did exactly as I was told and it was now the dough’s turn to do its part. Most of you are laughing at me now. Don’t worry I am laughing at me now, too. This was not my first dough rodeo: I should have remembered that dough is like unto a 15-year-old — difficult, non-responsive, and unable to do what it’s supposed to without a lot of convincing. Needless to say, the dough did not rise, the first time or the second time.

Where are you dough enhancer? Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? Where is the laughter, you used to bring me, why can’t I hear the music play? STRIKE ONE.

Rinda came home. The dough was in its pan, ready to go in the oven. Cooked, cooled, and it stood an inch and a half high. Rinda did not laugh at my Jesus bread joke. STRIKE TWO.

Slicing the bread the regular way was not an option — unless we wanted bread the width of ketchup packets — so we cut it lengthwise, crafting as many normal-looking slices as possible. HIT 1. The ball sailed out of the stadium; but wait, no, it was kissing the line between homer and foul. The bread was so heavy and so coarse, that the gallon of water we each drank to swallow it, was not enough to wash it down. FOUL BALL.

Rinda still wanted sandwiches. We had no bread and, due to slow work conditions, not much money for bread either. So, we got creative. I wish what followed was a sure sign of our culinary genius, but, no, it was a result of ruined bread and poorness.

In came the Lettuce, Turkey, and Tomato sandwich, hold the bread:

Add a cute baby and we had a serious HOME RUN. With this simple experience — recognizing that it does not represent a huge trial or triumph — we were bombarded with all types of pitches. It took balls, fouls, and strikes for us to finally hit a home run. In the end, the home run had nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with making the best out of a situation. Oh, and guess what, I’m positive we will make LTTs again; this time, on purpose.

LTT SANDWICH:

INGREDIENTS: Head of lettuce, peppered turkey, provolone cheese, tomato, onion, mustard, mayonnaise.

Break off 2 large pieces of lettuce. Spread mustard and mayonnaise on the lettuce. Add turkey. Top with cheese. Add chopped onion. Add tomato. Wrap the two pieces of lettuce together. Eat while humming a tune from the 80’s.

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: See above: recipe repetition using a high voice and silly dance & Jesus bread joke.

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Old Year, New Day, Tomorrow

Sadly our tree no longer leans awkwardly against the wall of our front room, its lopsided behind scratching the wall (my 4th grade teacher had the same problem with her buttocks). Rinda removed the few ornaments we own one by one and lowered them safely into their plastic catacombs. The hand-sewn stars she made, the stockings, and the bent paper clips used to hang the ornaments, all found a new home in a now empty, puppy-themed, holiday popcorn barrel.

With the last of the popcorn garland plucked from the tree, the needles swept up, and the tree flying through the air, its dead bristles preparing to shatter on the frozen ground of the backyard, I stood still in the hollow room. Rinda broke the silence with a silent hint and stacked the storage cases by the door. Before I hauled them out to the garage for their year long slumber, I chose to say a few words in Elvish (okay, okay, I said them in English, but with a British accent):

“Christmas is over; the goose that got fat is now eaten; the poor man bought booze with the penny that some stranger dropped in his hat and punched the woman that tried to give him a half-penny (what does one do with a half-penny?). Christmas is over but Christmas is not past; I shall walk with Ebeneezer and Charles who gave him speech, and ‘honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The spirit of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach'”

I shall live in the Past, the Present, and the Future — not the past, the present, and the future — important stuff gets capitalized, right? — like Abraham Lincoln or the Transcontinental Railroad. I choose to live importantly or make life important.

Allow me a brief return trip to the Past or the year formerly known as 2011:

I turned 26. I started working full-time from home, meaning, I got to be around my family 24/7. We rented our first house. Rinda and I had our second anniversary (I know, we are babies; but, it is still a wonderful accomplishment). McKay, my second nephew, was born. One of my biggest dreams came true when Claire was born: I became a father. My niece Abigail was born (within her first few months of life, my Abi-Gal endured 2 open heart surgeries — she is doing swimmingly.) The TV show I worked on was cancelled. I created content for and was part of a very strange sketch comedy group (thanks Chris and Jeremy). We shot the comedy webseries I wrote and co-directed, starring: Flavor Flav, Danny Trejo, Jon Gries; and YouTube celebs: GloZell Green, Miranda Sings, Antoine Dodson, Wheezy Waiter and Donnivin Jordan. We spent Thanksgiving with Rinda’s family and Christmas/New Years with my family.

Let me share some Christmas memories that, if remembered, will help make my New Year dreams a reality:

Above you see evidence of our Home Alone marathon (we watched 1 and 2 back to back), ate name brand pizza (Little Neros) from the film, and drank Fuller’s classic Pepsi. We also had an awesome Home Alone trivia game and a dance party around a mini Christmas tree, in honor of Kevin McCallister, the little guy.

Below, on the left, you see evidence of our Twas the Night Before Christmas gift exchange. Each of us had a gag gift and would pass it clockwise when the word “the” was said in the classic story. By the end of the game, you’re stuck with what ever gift lands in your lap — I got glasses that double as straws — joy to the world. Below, on the right, is evidence of our Ginger Bread house contest. Rinda and I gave up when our doorway collapsed. We promise to finish next year.

Present:

I’m worried as I look for more steady work. I have several projects lined up but nothing solidified. I am working really hard to make connections and find new opportunities. Somehow I know everything will work out. I have my family.

Future:

I’m applying the lessons I learned from Kevin McCallister to my New Year.

1.) Don’t forget what is most important: family. If you do forget, change; remind your self and those you love that they are number 1.

2.) Protect what you have: family, home, freedom,”I could go on forever baby.” If you don’t protect it, you will lose it. If setting booby traps is necessary, do it.

3.) Be kind; to everyone. Family, friends, teachers, co-workers, bird ladies with poop on their clothes.

4.) Listen. (I won’t say anymore…that’s the way listening goes).

Happy New Year!

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: I gave Rinda the option to take down and throw our real Christmas tree out the backdoor in to the backyard or feed Claire (which I was doing when I gave her the options). I think she chose the tree in spite.

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Looking Forward to Sugar Cereal and Life

The father of my childhood friend was a genius. He never used words like saxicolous, I never saw his SAT scores or overheard a neighbor talk about his IQ, but I knew, even at the age of seven, that he was brilliant. Today, my opinion of him remains the same; the only thing that has changed is my reason for believing he was so smart.

My friend’s dad did the shopping for his family, but it was more than buying eggs. He had a rotation. Every time he went to the grocery store, he’d take one of his three sons. That son was his personal assistant and the official family cereal-chooser. When my friend told me he could choose any cereal (that he wasn’t limited to Cheerios, Cornflakes, and Rice Krispies) and that, when they were in the check-out lane, his dad would always lean down and encourage him to select any snack, I about lost it. Who was this man and did he teach courses on genius fathering?

A dad that let his son choose whatever cereal he wanted and candy — images of Butterfingers, Sweetarts, and Big League Chew electrified my being  — had to be the next Gandhi, Mother Teresa’s Uncle, or at least the long lost brother of the Ninja Turtles. He was giving and awesome  — gawesome. I knew he was the wisest of men; he got us little guys; he won over his sons (and me) with sugar cereal and gawesomeness.

Today, I still admire my friend’s dad. I look back and still conclude that he was brilliant, giving, and awesome — I won’t combine all three — but, what I realize now is that, his smarts had nothing to do with grocery stores, bubble gum, or even sugar cereal.

Starting a family and becoming a father has let me in on a secret. Because of his father, my friend had something to look forward to every month. Isn’t the magic behind traditions, holidays, birthdays, vacations, weekends, and movie releases found in the excitement that comes with looking forward? I respond with a loud, boisterous, and reassuring YES.

Some might be thinking, “big deal.” Well, I am thinking, “What a discovery!”

Want to know why last year’s birthday wasn’t nearly as exciting as your tenth birthday? I don’t know about other people, but these years, with a few exceptions where rude people remind me I’ll be turning ___ in so many months, I hardly even think about my birthday until the month before. Unlike my worry-free younger years, life distracts me until it’s basically too late. I know this isn’t the case for everyone; there are plenty of individuals who still get giddy at the thought of a birthday six months away (and I applaud them), but why?

My childhood birthday was awesome because I looked forward to it. I looked forward to much more than a day; I looked forward to the the events of the day (and I knew them well). Birthdays in my family included, but were not limited to, going to a dollar movie with all my sibs, ordering 5 Buck Pizza and buying generic grape, orange, and root beer soda.  It included a cake or lemon meringue pie (for me) with candles on top, and usually some small, but ever so exciting, toy. It may not sound that great to some but it was heaven on earth to me. I loved birthdays. If my next birthday followed my childhood birthday agenda to a tee, I would be thrilled.

So what does it all mean?

The idea for this post came after Rinda and I had a great conversation about easy ways to make life wonderful. We concluded that starting and maintaining family traditions was key. Rinda’s family is pro when it comes to getting excited about traditions. The amazing thing is, their traditions are simple but make things so much more enjoyable. For example, whenever they go to the beach they always order “the best” calamari from the same dumpy old bar; when they go to Disneyland, they can’t leave without eating “the best” sour cherries and churros in the world — they get more excited about the food than the rides. Brilliant.

Rinda and I want Claire’s life to be simple but ever so exciting. How can we help make that a reality? We have challenged ourselves to start and maintain a simple family tradition for every month of the year. These traditions will be planned, marked on the calendar, and spoken of regularly. As the years go by, more traditions can join the table.

This last Christmas was incredible for many reasons. My whole family (with the exception of Christian, that jerk) was present, we had a schedule of events and we did them! Most exciting — and I promise I will post about all of this in detail — were the returning traditions: our annual Home Alone movie watching Marathon (1 and 2 back to back with Little Nero’s Pizza, throwback Pepsi, and ice cream sundaes), our Christmas Eve Twas the Night Before Christmas gift exchange, and the Christmas Eve cracker and cheese fest.

See what I mean? Simple things to look forward to = an exciting life to live.

Traditions can start today. You can call making a new, homemade Christmas ornament each year a tradition, even if Great, Great, Great, Grandfather Merle, from the Highlands of Scotland, never did it. I give the world my permission to do so.

Start traditions. Start living. Find ways to look forward to life.

What are some of your simple or not-so simple traditions? What do you look forward to? Please share in the COMMENTS!

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: Rinda wanted records (vinyl) for Christmas. I bought her two. To trick her on Christmas day, I also bought a calendar that looks like a record when wrapped. When she was opening it, I told her to be careful, it could break; she was thinking “this is definitely a record,” she was wrong; it was a calendar jam-packed with pictures of wolves in their natural habitat.

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Holiday Throw Up – A Life Lesson

If you are spending Christmas at the dwelling of or with parents, in-laws, relatives or strangers, here are a few things to remember:

1.) Ask how old the left overs in the fridge are BEFORE you eat them.

2.) If you get sick, do it near a clean bathroom and preferably near one that has a comfy rug on the floor.

3.) If you are sick and vomit is close to or already launching out of your mouth, make sure the bathroom light is on.

I guess it’s important to ask how old the chili in your parent’s fridge is before you dive in. Now, when I say “dive in,” I don’t really mean dive in — I never would have fit in the Tupperware and the chili was far too shallow.

A little background.

Tuesday was a good day. Rinda and I slept well on the two twin mattresses that were pushed together to form a king size bed in my younger brother’s bedroom (he got the couch). Little Claire slept soundly in her pack-n-play. The Christmas decorations were inviting, the food abundant, and the family fun to be around.

Because I was still determined to make healthier life decisions and since I celebrated the end of my diet with a steak ranchero plate from a favorite Mexican restaurant the day before, I was more than willing to join my wife, mom, two sisters, and brother-in-law in an early morning workout session.

My sister, a workout guru, muted the sound on her Jillian Michael’s DVD, blasted her bad radio music, and we got started. It was to be a 45 minute workout and I was worried about my stamina from the very beginning. I’m not one of those men who says things like, “I could plow through this workout session blindfolded, in ten feet of water, both hands tied behind my back and wearing Uncle Arthur’s army boots.” I made it through 30 of the 45 minutes. I knew I was out of shape when I, on my back and barely able to breathe, looked over and saw my mother still high kicking and punching the air.

*Since then, I have plowed through multiple workouts (pat me on the back next time you see me), but back to the story.

After a healthy breakfast and a few hours of work, I found myself again in the kitchen, eating a quick-lunch before Rinda and I left for a day of errand running. My quick-lunch was the last bit of some left over chili and a hand full of oven fries. All was well, I was ready to go, and then it hit. Suddenly, I felt like I’d been reading in a moving car for months, all while an unknown neighbor kid was swatting the back of my head. I tried drinking Sprite, lying down, and a standing long jump, but nothing worked.

WARNING: TMBI (too much barf information) to follow!

Before I knew it, I was sprinting to the bathroom. Even with the light off, the first projectile was a direct hit. I heard the impact and felt the splash (despite popular opinion, there are times in life when having a beard is a bad idea, vomiting is one of those times). In a desperate attempt to stop barfing in the dark and let there be light, I lunged for the switch — bad move — the urge hit me mid-way to the light switch and the second missile exited halfway back to the target, showering the wall with a  mix of chili, fries, and bile. The result was a modern art display worthy of any dark coffee shop/gallery that uses bird stencils or old records to decorate the wall behind the cash register.

I emptied my gut and slouched to the floor before calling for Rinda (interesting that there comes a time in life when mom is no longer the barfer’s relief). Rinda stood in the doorway with Claire and comforted me as best she could.The biggest comfort was little Claire smiling and laughing for her dying father. I wanted so badly to reach out and hold her; knowing that she loved me unconditionally and wanted to be near me, even in this state, was a ray of light in a cloud-filled sky.

I don’t know why, but it made me think about my role as a father and it made me sad. For a moment, food poisoning was going to keep me from caring for Claire, and I didn’t like that. What else in life (both in and out of my control) could prevent me from being the father I needed to be to this little creature who depends so heavily on me?

After spending the following two hours on the floor, wanting to die, dry heaving, and wanting to die some more, I arose victorious.

Today I feel healthy and I am glad I can hold my daughter. I want to always be able to provide my daughter with the best care — that requires that I make wise decisions in all areas of my life.

Who would have thought a holiday vomit session would have taught me such a lesson?

Life. Weird old, good old, life.

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: I got sick and was vomiting when we should have been running errands. Rinda did NOT think it was funny at all; it stressed her out.

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Christmas Before Thanksgiving — An Annual Argument

NOTE: I want this post to cause heated arguments between those who are FOR and those who are AGAINST celebrating Christmas (in particular, listening to Christmas music) before Thanksgiving (mostly joking).

Normally, I try not to be a man of contention. I don’t like to stir the waters, to cause a scene, to bite back in rage. But, and this is a big but (with one “t”), I get pretty saucy every time November 1st colorfully floats down from the trees, hits the ground with a hush, and peaks over the jack-o’-lanterns.

Crawling through boxes to the dark and forgotten corners of my garage in search of a dusty rake or climbing a ladder aimed for my drains with dish gloves and a garden shovel in hand is not what releases my impudence; it has everything to do with the attitude in the Thanksgiving air — an attitude that has nothing to do with gratitude.

The attitude, if put in to words, would sound something like this (probably spoken in a foreign accent that sounds “evil” when overdone): “Christmas before Thanksgiving is the devil, meaning: bad, dumb, not good.”

Just to get it out of the way, I am a hypocrite and bias. I am as ardent a lover of pre-Thanksgiving Christmas celebration and faithful a hater of those who are against early festivities as many are haters of pre-Thanksgiving Christmas and those who support it.

Okay, so I don’t hate those who get mad and post Facebook statuses whining about how their roommate is listening to Little Drummer Boy on November 2nd or about how their local supermarket is already selling candy canes, but I do find them annoying; as they, I am sure, loathe me — he who starts celebrating Christmas with an annual viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas on Halloween night, followed my around the clock listening to Christmas music (commercial and spiritual), decorating, traditional movie watching and book reading, and so much more. Yes, I am that guy, the one who even Christmas lovers call overkill or O.K. for short.

You have heard the catchphrase, “where’s the beef,” well, here is my beef:

In all my conversations with those who hate celebrating Christmas “prematurely,” I have yet to hear a reason that really makes sense. I will now attempt to make sense of what I have heard.

1. “One holiday at a time. Let’s not skip over Thanksgiving; it, too, is important; don’t cheapen it.”

I have zero interest in getting political or American historical here, but, what I will say is this, if Christmas for you has anything to do with Jesus Christ — His being born on earth so He could save all mankind — then is that not the thing you should be most grateful for? Isn’t that the PERFECT way to celebrate thanksgiving — to put Jesus at the top of your I Am Grateful For… list? You don’t even have to forget or overshadow all the other things you are grateful for.

If Christmas for you is not so much about Jesus’ birth, but more a time to remember, recall, and celebrate the joy and goodness that still abundantly exists in the world today; a time to step up and be a little kinder, a little less selfish and more giving, then is embodying the spirit of Christmas early, bad? Isn’t reminding yourself to be more grateful an attempt to be a better person? Shouldn’t you be grateful for the ability to improve in life?

An aside: I support a Christmas that celebrates both the birth of Christ and the spirit of Christmas (what I consider to be mankind’s attempt to emulate Jesus Christ).

Now, if Christmas is ALL commercial for you; just a stressful time to dwell on “corporate schemes” to make money, to get stuck in crowds at over-packed malls, to never find the perfect gift, to spend money you don’t have, to high five The Grinch and chest bump pre-changed Ebeneezer Scrooge; well, then having Christmas arrive early would be a reason to cringe.

2.) “If you start celebrating now, by the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll be burnt out with everything Christmasy.”

This is the argument that most makes sense to me. But, truth be told; it is very difficult for me to imagine being over-Christmased. For me, two months is too little time; it’s never enough. I find that if you healthily mix the commercial with whatever else Christmas means to you, you will find it’s hard to get too much of a good thing.

3.) “I don’t have a good reason for hating pre-Thanksgiving Christmas celebration. I probably had a parent who hated Christmas music before Thanksgiving and so, without reason, I’ll do the same.”

No attempt to understand this mind set will be made.

I want to end with this: forgive my written bitterness — not very christmasy —  and, I love Christmas, even commercial Christmas.

Somehow, commercial Christmas always takes me back to what I consider to be the true meaning of Christmas. I love that stores decorate before Thanksgiving and play Christmas music once the turkey is tupperwared away in the fridge; I love the colors, the emotion, the busyness (I even loved it when I worked retail for years); I love that a man in William Sonoma got the whole store clapping their approval in an attempt to convince a manager to allow an employee to accept a gift from him (obviously against the rules), I love the movies (I have a long list of must-watch Christmas flicks) and the books (each year I read Christ’s birth story in The Bible,  A Christmas Carol and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever); I love it all. Somehow, the energy in the air, the want to give, the excitement to receive, and the symbolism always reminds me to look up “to that blessed star which led Wise men to a poor abode” (borrowed from Dickens). It reminds me that I am blessed and can bless the lives of those familiar and unknown to me.

I didn’t really want this post to cause fights or sporadic sibling wrestling matches, but I do want it to open up conversation. Why do you like or not like celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving? What does Christmas mean to you? Tell me in the comments below.

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: I end my yawns loudly and musically. My yawn is as follows: “YAWWWWWN…AHHHHH, I FEEL GOOD! Na na na na na na nuh, I knew that I would now, SO GOOD, SO GOOD, I GOTTA YOU oo oo ooo ooo. WATCH ME NOW!” My wife LOVES it.

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My Diet, My Breakdown

DISCLAIMER: So as to not disappoint you when you find no breakdown worthy of a trip to the ER in this post, just know that my breakdown was me being depressed (quite depressed actually) that I couldn’t eat an inviting slice of supreme style pizza in an open box, on my parent’s kitchen table; all because I was vacationing in Diet Land.

When I started my diet I weighed 168 pounds. Not bad, except that I should weigh 150 pounds. Now, I don’t expect you to cry me a river or write a book listing 184 reasons the residents of earth should feel sorry for me; just know that I didn’t feel comfortable or good at 168. So, I set a goal — I was going to lose 18 pounds.

I’ve never been on a diet; not really at least. I’ve had three days here or a week or two there that I made wiser food selections and actually exercised, but that’s grown-up, normal life stuff, right? Or at least it should be. A diet is something else.

One of those embarrassing photos where the husband (me) pretends to also be expecting (taken forever ago):

Let me be a hypocrite and do something that always annoys me — offer a definition of the word diet, found on the world wide web:

Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

And I will include the awesome sample sentence that was attached to the above definition:

“It is difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes.”

Fact. Except, truth be told, I’m more of a pie guy. Although, there is this cupcake place in Phoenix, AZ that will send you traveling, bare foot, on clouds of flavor and joy, all before you are surprisingly dropped in to an abandoned alleyway just to have your insides murder you; all for your time piece.

One more thing: not only would it be difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes, it would be difficult to live in a house full of cupcakes. I’d like to imagine myself swimming through the cupcakes like Scrooge McDuck swam through his money, but get real, swimming through cupcakes or trying to move around in a house full of them, would be awful, and sticky.

Back.

I wanted to weigh 150 pounds; and so, like the definition says, I restricted the amount and types of food I ate — I started a low calorie, limited food option diet. I could eat most white meats, red meat sparingly, vegetables, and fruit. Other than Total for breakfast, that was basically it. The menu was fine; I’ve always loved and eaten fruits and vegetables; I enjoy chicken breast and fish; all was well or so I thought.

The first week was great; I didn’t mess up or cheat; I even discovered that pickles have no calories. That was all before visions of Mexican food, thin sliced cheese pizza and Tom Yum Ghai danced in my head.

The blues I was feeling were not caused by eating yet another chicken breast with broccoli and 6 baby carrots as a side, they were caused by seeing my wife eat the steak ranchero plate from one of our favorite Mexican restaurants; it was my sister and mom bringing home a Costco supreme pizza, of course after 7 pm — when I can no longer eat — and of course, after I’d already consumed my limited calories for the day (like I could eat the pizza anyway).

My breakdown. I do not exaggerate when I say I stalked the pizza like a lion stalks a gazelle. I paced around my parent’s island, pretending to be casual but casting dangerous eyes at the pie. Rinda kept telling me, “James! Get away from the pizza, that’s not going to help. You only have 4 more days of your diet, you can do it!”

She was being a good wife; but that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to punch every diet, especially mine, in the neck and lunge for a slice; and then proceed to scarf it down — like Buzz did with Kevin’s cheese pizza in Home Alone. Instead, I chose to pout. I literally sat down at the counter (right next to the pizza) with hate and gloom painted all over my grill. Rinda: “What’s wrong? I was just trying to help you out, you have lost so much weight already. If you want to eat a slice of pizza, go ahead.”

I had lost 11 pounds but I didn’t care about the weight loss, I wanted pizza. When she saw me, still mad, Rinda said, “James! just eat some pizza.” I resorted back to my 4 year old self and whimpered, “you’ll be disappointed in me;” she kind of laughed (I am almost 27) and she said, “James, I’m not going to be disappointed, it’s one slice of pizza.” My sister chimed in with, “if it’s going to make you unhappy…just eat a piece of pizza.” Needless to say, I did not eat pizza that night.

Instead, I chose the mature route: I stood up, packed our things, and we left my parent’s house, leaving my family and their blasted pizza behind.

I have since assimilated that it was not the particulars of the diet that was making me unhappy, it was the lack of choice — I felt like I was trapped. From this diet I have learned the importance of balance. Go ahead, eat the things you like, even the unhealthy ones, but if you do, make sure the other meals you eat (that day or the rest of the week) are healthier; and for heaven’s sake, do some exercise.

Now, by no means am I a champion exerciser — the only time I’ve ever been to a gym is when they forced me to lift weights in 8th grade. I don’t like rooms full of exercise machinery. However, I do love being outside, especially in the morning; and so I use that as inspiration to get out and a run a mile or two. I like movies; so I watch one while I’m on a stationary bike; I like Rocky; so I pretend I’m him while I jump rope. You get the point — if you hate exercising (traditionally speaking), find an activity you do love and add exercise to it. Do you like bad radio music? Do some jumping jacks while you listen to it (not while driving).

I have lost 12 pounds. I have two days left in my diet. Pray for me.

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: I’m a genius when it comes to reworking the words of existing songs. Rinda just LOVES it when I roam around the house singing my rendition of Hakuna Matata: “hakruna makrata, crhat a cronderfuld craze, hakruna makrata, craint no crassin craze, crit creans no crurries cror the crest of crure crays…crits crure croplem cree, cricosophy, hakruna makrata.” Thank you. Thank you. I know. I know.

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Beard and Boy: A Short Story About Success

A fictional story with a powerful message:

When I was a young boy, I was repeatedly told I could not grow a beard. Most people told me it was impossible, my parents said it wasn’t allowed. It was heartbreaking. Some of my biggest heroes wore a beard: Jeremiah Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, the wolf-version of Michael J. Fox in the movie Teen Wolf, Jesus, Bill Walton.

Time and time again the same arguments and insults were thrown in my face to break my spirits—you’re 9-years-old, rubbing your chin won’t make the hair grow, you’re not manly enough, you don’t have what it takes, your heroes have gone through puberty, you haven’t—and yet, no claim or insult changed my mind, I knew what I wanted and I would work hard, as long as it took, to make it a reality.

Mom said I was being ridiculous. Uncle Randy told me I was too anxious to grow up and twisted my arm until I repeated after him that, “being an adult is dumb.” But I wasn’t being silly, and I didn’t want to be 17 or 57 for that matter, I just wanted what so many took for granted: facial hair.

My friend Art wants to play major league ball, my cousin Nedward plans to win best stamp collection at the annual competition. Art and Nedward aren’t heckled, laughed at, or thrown up on, they’re encouraged. Where is my cheering section?

It didn’t take long for me to learn that a fool’s journey ends when no one will go with him—or split the gas costs. A dreamers journey never ends, even if he has to go at it alone, in someone else’s shoes, or no shoes at all.

A bit of background.

It all started in the fourth grade. I was in Miss Kelly’s class (or Miss Kill Me as she was popularly known) and we had to give a historical presentation. Points were given for creativity. I’d seen the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and I agreed that the best way to make a history report come to life was to go back in time and kidnap the historical figures you’re studying, time travel with them to the present day, and then ask them to talk about how much things have changed, but, since I didn’t have a time machine, or enough money to build one, I decided to dress up like Charles Darwin instead.

Here’s me dressed up and ready for my presentation (sorry about the lighting, my mom took the picture in our garage!):

Charles Robert Darwin. A copy made by John Col...

Image via Wikipedia

I borrowed my dad’s rain coat, my neighbor Tilly’s former husband’s bowler, and I bought a Santa Clause beard (made from real Peruvian alpaca hair) at a thrift store. At first I was hesitant to be dressed up and in character but that faded as soon as I walked down the halls of Grover Elementary. Not once did anyone giggle or mock or puke on me. There were a lot of stares but aside from that, people were polite: one student opened a door for me, another addressed me as “sir.” At first I assumed it was because I was wearing an adult rain coat and a grown up bowler, but no, I removed them to go to the restroom and was treated with the same degree of respect to and from the john—a student even complimented my beard as I washed my hands. It was then that I realized people respected me because of the Peruvian alpaca hair glued to my face. Discovery: beards demand reverence and respect. People take you serious when you have a beard and I wanted to be taken seriously.

Some might ask, “Why not continue wearing the alpaca hair?” Two reasons: 1.) I didn’t want to be an imitation, some cheap knockoff, I wanted to be the real deal, and 2.) the alpaca beard slowly disintegrated and I couldn’t find or afford another one.

I got a C on the presentation but won best costume. But let’s get serious, who cares about all that, I had found what I wanted in life, something that most people don’t realize until they are much older.

For the most part, the rest of elementary school was fine. None of my peers could grow beards either, so I looked like everyone else (ugh!).

Junior high was tougher. My friend Eriberto had a crustrache and my friend Rod grew six inches over the summer simply by telling himself he was tall—everywhere he went, he thought tall, everyone he met, he looked down on, every door he entered, he ducked through—and it worked, he went from 4’9 to 5’3 practically over night. Apparently the method only works with height because no matter how hard I convinced myself, my uncle still teased and called me Little Miss Peach Fuzz (a double diss since I’m a boy and I really want to grow a beard, but am struggling).

High school was hell (sorry, there’s no other word to describe it). Half the football team and most of the girl’s softball team had nice facial hair. People who could care less, who were just lazy, were living my dream. I won’t lie, one day, after staring and screaming at the mirror for almost 3 hours, I slumped on to the floor and almost gave up. But something whispered, “No, not yet, not before proper inspection.” I wiped the tears from my eyes and did what I’d done every day for 11 years, I checked my face.

On the lower east side of my neck, right above the adam’s apple was a 2 inch hair. To most, that is nothing, an anomaly, something to be plucked and disregarded; to me it was a ray of hope in a dark and dreary wilderness. It kept me going.

Over the next 5 years that hair grew to be 8 inches. Girlfriends hated it, my mom didn’t understand it, and my uncle once tried to cut it off while I slept, so I stabbed him in the armpit. I didn’t let any of it bother me, I didn’t quit. I slapped the naysayers and the dreamkillers in the face. I worked hard, I kept on keeping on, I pushed forward.

I’m 27-years-old-now and have a full (well pretty full, all except a little patch under my chin) red beard. I wear it and don’t trim it with pride. Once in a while I’ll show up at my old elementary school and offer to do an assembly on success, but they always say no and then escort me off the property. No matter. I never leave without pleading that they share my one word secret with their students: perseverance. That’s right, perseverance, against all odds, perseverance.

If you happen to see a starry-eyed white kid with a ratty, not-so-full-beard, don’t judge. It could be his external demonstration of success, his way of saying to the world, “I made it, I beat the odds, I proved the haters wrong, I do have what it takes, I am manly enough, I have hit puberty (like my heroes), and I came out with a trophy, a hairy one, attached to my face.”

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