Category Archives: Birthday

A Letter To My Daughter On Her Birthday | Sous Chef Turns 21


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Today is Sous Chef’s 21st birthday. If you will allow me a moment, I’d like to write her a quick note. It has to be quick, because her schedule – even in this last year of college, is insanely packed. When she isn’t in class, she is working. When she isn’t working, she is volunteering. When she isn’t volunteering she is taking photos of the food she and her roommates cook and posting them on social media in a fashion that should make Martha Stewart jealous…

Simpy put, she is who I want to be when I grow up.

To My One and Only Daughter,

It is shocking to me how fast these years have flown. What is not shocking is what a wonderful young woman you have become. You are someone I want to be like, someone I want to live up to, someone I strive to emulate. You are caring and compassionate, wise far beyond your years, talented and smart. You have ever known what you want and how to go about getting it. You are confident. You are laugh-out-loud funny. You are lovely.

You are the gift today on your birthday, the true and real gift.

We would be lost without you.  

We love you, kiddo. As your uncle once said when you were a toddler running around a party: “Put a helmet on that one. She’s the only hope of this generation.”

If we had more people like you in this world, it would be a far, far better place.

Happiest of birthdays! We couldn’t love you any more than we do.

Sous Chef Through the Years – 21 Shots

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The Essential Story of My Mother on Her Birthday


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To honor my mother’s birthday this year, I thought I would share the essential Mom story, the one that really captured who she is as a mother and a person, how she made me the man I am and what her life has meant to me, to my sisters, to her grandchildren and to those who are lucky enough to know her.

I set to work outlining a few ideas about this, jotting down notes and memories to share, searching for the best one – the quintessential story.

I made a list that included her laying beneath my sisters’ and my cribs and shaking them with her feet to entertain us, putting a toy with a suction cup on her forehead to make my sister laugh before Mom and Dad were going out to a public event and pulling it off – leaving a broken circle of blood vessels, always talking to me about superheroes and Stars Trek and Wars, coming to all of my plays, listening to songs I wrote as a kid, being my best supporter in romance young and old, listening to every story of heartbreak I endured and enduring them with me, always being my biggest supporter, reading the novels I have written, sharing laughter and tears, sharing in the birth of my children, in my marriages, in my life.

But here’s the point: there are too many stories, too many notes, too many memories that are wonderful and perfect about my mom. There are too many moments to choose just one that is truly quintessential.

Here is what is essential: I have, always and forever, known the true, deep and abiding emotion of unequivocal love. There is no greater gift I could ever have received. Mom’s love made me who I am and it’s a gift I try to share.

And I love you, Mom. Forever and unequivocally.

Just like you.
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Cinnamon Girl’s Birthday | A Favorite Day Of The Year


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unnamedToday is The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday and it is truly one of my favorite days of the year. I hope she knows how I feel about her every day of the year. I hope she knows how much our children love her. I hope she knows what an amazing person she is.

The Cinnamon Girl is a person

  • who is shockingly intelligent and quick witted and funny…
  • whose laughter makes me so happy (it’s a goal of every day of my life to make her laugh)…
  • who is beautiful in every sense of the word…
  • who understands the world better than I ever will…
  • whose deep rooted compassion for others has inspired her to change her life over-and-over again…
  • whose confidence makes others confident, too…
  • who is an incredible role model…
  • who is brave and strong…
  • whose very presence in my life makes my life better…
  • who we get to celebrate today.

She is most often the smartest person in any room, able to speak on any subject. She is an engaging story teller, a raconteur. She is the kind of person people want to emulate, people old and young. She makes those around her better.

She is an extraordinary and engaging person and, as I have said many, many times, the only flaw I see in her is that she foolishly selected me as the person with whom to spend the rest of her life.

I am going to hold her to that.

Happiest of birthdays, my love. I am glad we take today to celebrate you!

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22 Years of Stretch – And One Important Year All But Done


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In honor of my son’s birthday today – his 22nd and it’s as difficult to believe that he is 22 as it is to believe that he is only 22 – and in commemoration of the first year of teaching that he will conclude in just a few short weeks, I share this true story which happens to have accompanying, photographic proof.

Stretch is in the University of Notre Dame’s ACE Program which places teachers in schools around the country and is concluding his first year of teaching high school English (I begged him not to follow me into the family business!) at a Catholic School in Oklahoma City. By all accounts – his, his principal’s, his girlfriend’s, his roomates’ – he has had a great year. I am sure Stretch is a gifted teacher and coach. He loves his students. What could be more important?

He was home for Christmas Break in December and he had work to do, assessments and grading.

He dove in with relish, sitting at the kitchen table on which he used to do his own homework as a student, and attacked the pile energetically. As time passed, his affect changed. His enthusiasm waned. He pulled on a hoodie. Then he pulled the hood over his head.

He could be heard to mutter “I don’t think I taught these kids anything…” and The Cinnamon Girl (a teacher herself with two decades of experience) and I laughed, having been there so, so many times. 

I have no doubt Stretch taught his students he cared about them, he was pulling for them and he loved them because that’s what he puts out in the universe, always.

Stretch went into the family business. I couldn’t be more proud and his school and students couldn’t be more lucky.

Stretch at Work | December 2018

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20 In The Past/20 In The Future – Sous Chef is 20!


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Kateri BirthdaySous Chef is turning 20 today and it seems an appropriate time to look back on the past 20 years of her life and to look forward to the next 20. There could hardly be a father more proud of his daughter than I am of her. I miss her when I do not talk to her. I am always thrilled to see her. She is driven. She is kind. She is compassionate. She is motivated. She is a terrific student, friend, sister, daughter, person. She is 20 today and it seems a perfect time to apply a little 20/20 vision:

THE PAST

“Bearsy” + Disney Channel on the radio + High School Musical + Learning to cook + Student Body Co-President, middle school + Manifest Destiny Monopoly + Middle school graduation speaker + Friends + Softball tryouts + Dancing with the Stars + Learning to drive + “We’re Kind of a Big Dill” + Valedictorian of her high school graduation + Presidential Scholar + Leaving for college (sob!) + Wisdom teeth out + Studying nursing + White Coat Ceremony + Madrid! + Getting her first apartment

THE FUTURE

Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten + Unwritten +

Her future is completely unwritten, but there are few people who are better poised than she to make a special one.

Happiest of birthdays, Sous Chef! We love you!

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Mom’s Birthday 2018


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And mama, when I was a child, I lost hours in her smile. 

Making cookies in the kitchen, spillin’ paint on her tile.

She’d read me bible stories and sleep with me a while…

And I first saw God in her eyes.

– Colorado Time, 1991

Happy birthday, Mom. Happiest of birthdays to you. There is more that I owe you than I can repay, though you gave willingly and lovingly and are a model of that. There is more that you did for me than I can ever do for you, though you have never begrudged a moment. There is more you taught me than I could ever teach you, though that has not stopped me from trying.

You made me more.

You made me good.,

You made me care.

No child could have wanted or asked for more growing up. No adult could want or ask for more now.

I love you!

Here is a story in pictures… It’s a GOOD one.

 

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Wonder Woman – Happy Birthday, My Amazing Wife


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2018-06-22 10.40.18I could not be more excited about the amount of talk there is about Wonder Woman these days. She has been embraced, once again, as a feminist icon. She is all over media. She is a film star. It is all very cool.

But I have a secret: I know Wonder Woman. I live with her. She is my wife.

The Cinnamon Girl’s birthday is today and, while I do hope I celebrate her every day and I do try to celebrate her every day, today is a special day to think about her.

I have written about her many times and will continue to do so. That is what one does for one’s muse. Today, though, on her birthday, I celebrate one of the most amazing things about this wonder woman:

She is fearless and bold.

Many of you who know her may not know that she began her professional life as a lawyer and practiced law for many years. While this was before I knew her, I am told (and am sure) that she was a successful lawyer. I have no doubt she was. Brilliant and accomplished, The Cinnamon Girl was surely a force with which to be reckoned.

She is such a force.

Following that chapter, The Cinnamon Girl changed career paths and became a high school social studies teacher. In her first years in the classroom, she was the entire Social Studies Department at a small, Catholic school in Texas. I met her when she was well into this work and I was blessed for a number of magic years to teach-team with her. I know something about teaching. The Cinnamon Girl is an immensely gifted teacher who inspires students to be critical thinkers. She makes the material relevant to them. And she cares about them.

And they know it. That is why they love her.

Now, she is looking to pursue her first desire for her life: nursing. While balancing a full time job, many other responsibilities and being an amazing mother and wife, The Cinnamon Girl has decided to open a new book and look into a new path. She is looking to become a nurse.

What does all this say about her? What is the through line of my Wonder Woman’s life?

 

Service to others. Deepening devotion. Selflessness.

The Cinnamon Girl is a wonder woman and an amazing gift.

Happiest of birthdays, baby. Many, many, many wonderful returns.

You deserve each of them.

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