downsizing our christmas shopping this year 

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 and on the trip we always choose our favorite house decoration of christmas lights, it is beautiful to see all the creativity with the lights. 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 sold by retailers they’ve got a wide selection of custom embroidered baseball 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 website to learn more.

the things about november 4th

Besides the fact that it’s the day after this baby is about to be born, of course…

1. Civic Duty: Done. Amelia and I walked to our polling place when I got home from work and filled in our little bubbles. She was #654 and I was #655. I don’t know how many people are in our precinct, but since we’re in North Minneapolis and it’s just a mid-term election, I was pretty impressed that it was even that high. I get pretty proud of my neighborhood anytime I see people coming from different direction to get to the church. Getting out and walking to the polls is something that takes effort and I really do applaud that. It’s much easier to just skip it all, you know?

2. When I was in high school, this was always the time of year that basketball practice started. I only played high school basketball my freshman and junior years, because I felt like I had to just pick one thing to focus my talents on – basketball or band. I stuck with band and it’s gotten me really far in life. Wait. But still, I enjoyed it. And can still appreciate a really good (or really horrible) marching band halftime show.

3. It’s my friend Angie’s birthday. I have several friends named Angie, but this one here’s the one I’ve known since first grade and that’s gotta be right at 30 years. Holy shit. I don’t know how many trips to the McDonald’s drive thru we made when she had her driver’s license five whole months before me! I have many, many stories that I could share about Angie, but I think the best story of them all is the fact that I can still text her out of the blue and it’s like it hasn’t been months on end since we’ve talked. Those are the kind of friends you always need to have in your life, you know?

4. I’m pretty sure my parental leave started today. And, hey, let’s get rid of titles like maternity and paternity leave, can we? Because even the law doesn’t call it that anymore.

why whirlyball is the greatest thing in the world

Bumper cars, whiffle balls and flinging it across a closed off room in an attempt to try to get it into a circle with a 20 inch diameter. That’s why it’s the greatest thing in the world. Or at least in the top 100 greatest things in the world.

First a visual:

It’s a shaky video, but playing WhirlyBall isn’t exactly the smoothest thing in the world!

See, Amelia and I first saw this building, which used to be an old movie theater, slowly developing into this WhirlyBall place and we had no idea what it is. My wife, who would probably choose to marry Google instead of me if it were legal, looked it up and saw that it was quite possibly the coolest thing in the world… except it just wasn’t open yet.

Time passed, probably years and years, and it was time for my Bachelorish party. Jenni tried to get a group together, but finding a time in the summer where 10 people are available isn’t kind of tricky… and I didn’t really give her that big of a list to begin with for people that I wanted to spend my last single days with. So, we didn’t get a chance to try it out then.

And then finally, our friend Andy drafted 10 people and WHIRLYBALL WAS ON.

Basically, you split into two teams. One team shoots on one end and vice versa. The wiffle ball gets passed from player to player (or launched down the court) with lacrosse like scoops. The end goal is to hit a circle that’s several feet off the ground. It sounds easy and I suppose it could be, except there’s not a lot of people that can accurately aim a wiffle ball on a regular basis, you know?

If you have a WhirlyBall location in your area, go do it. As Kristin yelled to me on Sunday while we were ramming into each other, it’s impossible not to smile the entire the time you’re playing. Our team got smoked three out of four quarters on Sunday, but you laugh and smile the whole time. It’s a relatively safe game, but there is some random jarring when someone t-bones you with their bumper car, or if you’re like me, and ram the steering stick into your inner thigh at least once each time you play.

There’s one in Chicago, the Detroit area, the Kansas City area, and I’m sure a few more places. If you have the opportunity, it’s absolutely worth it. We’re doing it monthly-ish and it’s absolutely worth every single cent.