downsizing our christmas shopping this year 

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Before you get too proud of us for not being all about material things and not spending money on gaudy wrapping paper and deciding not to send out Christmad cards, hold on a sec.

We travel to Missouri for Christmas each year, with our boys and our dogs. We upgraded our car a month or so before Oz was born and that was one thing we kept in mind when car shopping. Last year, even without the teenager in tow, we had that damn thing packed to the gills. This year, the teenager is scheduled to travel with us, SO EXPECT GIFT CARDS, FAMILY.

I LOVE to buy things for people. All the time, for any reason. I have to be careful around the holidays or I’m likely to go broke buying coffee for the people behind me and buying dinner for the old guy that’s eating by himself. My point in mentioning this to reiterate how seriously difficult it is for me to not want to buy the people in my life ALL of the things.

This year, we’re trying to stick to a four present plan of attack for the boys like a complete guide on welding helmets:

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear
  4. Something to read

I’m sure you’ve seen it on the Internet, but sometimes the Internet has really good ideas, guys! Whether or not Ozzy needs a 3-in-1 tricycle is yet to be seen, but what does he know? He’s 13 months old. He knows the toilet seems like a great place to splash in and we’re currently hiding the remote in the Christmas tree to hide it from him, so I’m not giving him a lot of credit right now.

Always being away from home for Christmas might lead to some logistics related questions when it comes to Santa, so we’ve had a talk with that creepy old guy and he’s going to drop presents off in Sedalia in a smaller dosage. And no oranges. Please, Santa, don’t leave your rotten fruit in my kid’s stocking. Citrus and his digestive system aren’t friends yet. Give it some time.

We adopted people through the Aliveness Project again this year. This is at least the 11th year I’ve done it with Jenni, with the adding of spouses, friends, etc over the years. This is the first year we didn’t have a giant group shopping trip for it, so it was a little bit of a different vibe. And this was one area of Christmas where we didn’t scale down. We got to buy the hole Printed clothing online stock for some particular items for five single guys this year, which means are dining room table is full of things like dress shirts, a flannel shirt, jeans, sweaters, gloves, hats, a toaster, baking sheets, wooden spoons, spatulas, pillows, and pillow cases. Those were the things they asked for which are the things they should just have and not worry about asking a charity for those.

We also tapped into the fun things they listed, like the best reciprocating saw a book about a pro-wrestler, some DVDs, random Latino music CDs and a PlayStation 2 our pal Art is parting with for a pittance. We still need to buy a couple of winter coats this week before dropping everything off, so if you know of a crazy good deal somewhere in coats, pass it along!

(I don’t know where this post was going. I started it four days ago.)

Anywyas, take a look at toiletable.com website to learn more.

watch me brag about my parenting skills

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First off, I’m kidding.  I already had to call poison control once on this child of mine and I watched him hit the floor face first off the couch yesterday. I’m scratching all that up to normal wear and tear, dude. Gotta break something or force vomiting sometime in your life, you know what I mean?

But to earn my Parent of the Hour Award, I’ve been making him homemade muffins the past two Sundays. 

A little backstop on what prompted that: He’s on an iron supplement because, after two really pleasant blood draws, he’s showing up as anemic. No major concern for us, as he’s not showing any other concerning symptoms of anything worth any worry. We’re focusing more on iron rich foods and making him take this dirty feet tasting medicine every morning. 

We had a bunch of baby oatmeal and baby food hanging out in our cabinet, so Google led me to this recipe and then I modified it a bit since I’m apparently a non-racist Paula Deen and a non-jerkface Bobby Flay. And off to Flavor Town we go:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup baby oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
  • 8 oz baby food (the jar or purée stuff)
  • 1/3 cup cooking oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. One bowl for the dry ingredients and one for the MOIST ones to mix ’em and then put them together. Ask your wife to come in and grease up the cupcake pan. It’ll give you enough for 12 muffins and then throw them in for 20 minutes. 

You can really use whatever you want for baby food. Last week, I used 4 ounces of sweet potatoes and 4 ounces of some apple, pear and squash combo. This week was more sweet potatoes and an exotic apple/prune mixture. You could also mash up a cup full of bananas if you had done lying around. They’re hella easy and even I haven’t screwed them up yet. 

BOOMSHAKALAKA. 

 

This guy approves:

 

  

so much to be thankful for this year

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What’s dumb is that we, any of us, shouldn’t be waiting until Thanksgiving Day to post about the things we’re thankful for. I don’t know why we don’t take the time to realize and talk about the things that we really are thankful for each and every day. But all that aside, I’m going to jump on the ol’ Thanksgiving Day Thankful List right now, too.

  1. I’m thankful for my boys. The almost 13 month old that’s crawling around in turbo mode, refusing to say ‘mama’ and headbutts everyone and everything is everything I’ve dreamed about and more when it comes to being a parent. His contagious laugh, open-mouthed kisses and obsessive high fives continue to be the highlights of my every day. The 18.5 year old, although completely absent in my every day life, still makes me so proud of who he’s become as a man and how he continues to grow into his own person, tackling constant challenges that would cause most people to crumble and loving his brother so much that it makes my heart explode. IT WOULD BE NICE TO HEAR FROM HIM TIME TO TIME.
  2. I’m thankful for my wife. I don’t know, you guys, every single day I’m thankful for her and all that she does for me, our sons, herself, her family, you name it. She’s this person that will challenge and inspire you. And she’s this person that will love you, care for you and defend you until the very end. This year has been a doozy for the both of us with 12 trillion things going on at once, both incredibly awesome and really, really hard, but I can’t imagine going through it all with anyone else in the world.
  3. I’m thankful for my family. My parents have naturally morphed into grandparents, coming to visit twice in the last six month, trying to talk to their only grandson via speakerphone once a week and always checking in on him. Being the grandparents in a small town with a grandson that has two moms could be easily be a hard thing for them, but they seem to like this baby just a little bit. My brother continues to be this solid dude that I completely adore, which is a far cry from the little douche that carved swear words in the soap and blamed it on me. My brother’s girlfriend is such an amazing person and, despite the different last name and lack of ring on her finger, is such an important piece of our little family.
  4. I’m so thankful for my grandparents. They’re the people I want to grow up and be like. At 89 and 91, they’re still both just as whip smart as they’ve ever been and watching them spend time with their great grandson has been such a beautiful experience. I wish everyone were fortunate enough to have grandparents that are genuinely full of love, compassion and acceptance.
  5. I’m thankful for the rest of my family. My aunt and uncle who always welcome us into their home anytime we’re in town and are proud to talk about us and our family to anyone that listens. My cousin who’s always that person I can text about random crap, important stuff or completely offensive pictures. My other cousins, aunts and uncles from all over the place that are all around pretty great people.
  6. I’m thankful for my in-laws. I struck gold when I landed a mother-in-law that’s as amazing as mine. Whether she’s at our place or we’re at hers, it all falls into place likes we’ve been doing it for years. She’s crazy about her grandkids, can serve up an awesome meal for 10 in no time at all and works her tail off in everything she does. I’m thankful for a father-in-law that’ll give you the business in one breath and make baby sounds to his youngest grandson in the next. I’m thankful for my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephew and niece. Who knew that four extra people could really help complete a whole family, you know?
  7. I’m thankful for my friends. Holy cow, am I thankful for my friends. No matter where they are, on the other side of the river or the other side of the country, whether I see them every day or every other year, I’ve hit the jackpot with all of them.
  8. I’m thankful for where I work. I left my old job to come to this one with the hope that they really followed their mission statement and, lo and behold, they sure as heck do. My co-workers are way rad and every single person in a leadership role have traits that I admire and aspire to be like.
  9. I’m thankful for the three domesticated beasts we have living in our house. The 10 year old boxer has the patience of a saint when it comes to the other dog, the cat or even the baby laying on him at nap time. For the past 10 years, there hasn’t been anyone else in my life I’ve let hog the bed as much as I do him. The tiny three year old dog that’s so anxious about everything in her life really is the sweetest thing in the world when it comes to our tiny family. Plus, she does a great job of keeping my butt warm in the middle of the night. The five year old surly tomcat that sits in the bathroom sink any chance he gets somehow just fits into this family in a way that just works.
  10. I’m thankful that I can sit in my living room with a roof over my head, a functioning furnace and a belly full of chicken and dumplings without worrying about how I’m going to afford to feed my family or get the healthcare my family might need. I’m thankful that worst of my problems is I only have two hours to write a five page paper. I’m thankful that I can live openly and honestly about who I am without being in constant fear. I’m thankful my family can do the same. I’m thankful for you.

sometimes it’s easy to forget about kindness in others 

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This past weekend, I found out that my grandpa was feeling a little on the sad side. 
He hasn’t been able to go to church since he got out of the hospital this summer. Since August, Grandpa Chuck’s pastor had only been to visit him once. Considering it’s a small church in a small town, it was disheartening, disappointing and down crappy for me to hear that someone else was making my 91 year old stoic grandfather feel bad. 

Instead of sending rabid beavers with the best pole saw to the pastor’s house like originally wanted to do, I decided to finally USE MY POWERS FOR GOOD. My cousin, my wife, my brother and my sister-in-lawish joined in and we invited over 1000 people through Facebook to send a quick card, letter or what have you to his house. It wasn’t a visit from a pastor, but it was a dang good place to start. 

Since 3am this past Monday when insomnia hit both my cousin and I like the 18 wheelers our grandpa used to drive and pushed us to get this going, he’s received 16 letters/cards and a CD. He’s read them all, put them back into the envelopes and put them on the table. This is a guys who counts his birthday cards every year and leaves them out on the table for all his visitors to see. He’s digging it. 

We heard today that a Brownie troop made craft projects for him and two classes of pre-K all made cards for him today. He’s getting Hallmark DVDs, stuff from Hawaii, a card from Spain, candy and even more cards, letters and so, so much love. The kindness of everyone is awe-inspiring and restores my faith that sometimes people just need a reminder that they can make a difference in someone’s day. Like Chuck’s.

He and my grandma are Christians and amazing people in every since of those words. They love unconditionally. They open their home to all. They accept. They support. They share. They embody just genuine love and compassion. They’re good folks. They deserve so much of that in return, but would never even dream of asking. And really, they shouldn’t have to. If everyone in the world had he kind of hearts and souls my grandparents have, it’d be an amazing place. 

 XOXO, world. Thanks for doing a solid for my grandpa. 

things i can definitely do for 30 days straight 

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  1. Think about blogging
  2. Check Ancestry.com for those little shaky leaf things
  3. Take a picture of my toddler 
  4. Hum Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and You Are My Sunshine in that order around 9pm
  5. Avoid changing a diaper
  6. Threaten to beat my small dog because she’s barking at everything and nothing all at once 
  7. Consider putting my small dog on puppy Prozac 
  8. Wonder if the college aged son is eating 
  9. Think about macaroni and cheese or nachos or both 
  10. Try to come up with a scheme to make eleventy billion dollars by just having a winning personality so I can help all the people and do all the things 

Things I can’t do for 30 days straight:

  1. Blog every day