Category Archives: Holidays

Link’n’Blogs – 4.14.17 – Good Friday


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

Good Friday and Holy Saturday (and all of Lent, actually) lead to one place: Easter Sunday and, even today on Good Friday, we are a resurrection people. Hey, even Times Square gets it! Take a look at the videos and praise God.

 

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20 Memories… 20 for HJ jr.


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It’s HJ jr’s 20th birthday today.

Twentieth.

He’s 20.

20-years-old.

To say this is difficult for me to believe is something of an understatement. See, I remember when he moved into his teenage years and now he’s moving out of them.

I remember when he had a collection of sticks and toy guns…

when he tried to remember every piece of chocolate cake he’d ever eaten…

when he walked proudly across the graduation stage…

when he had a walk down a certain path and dropped his cell phone…

when he and I would sit at the dining room table and work though algebra problems…

when he has hugged me…

when he was named outstanding junior of the year…

when we went to see any number of movies that no one else in the family wanted to see (I still didn’t enjoy Elysium)…

when he almost slipped, once, and said something more than “good night” to me…

when he showed me at each-and-every stage of his life that he was the master and I was the learner by telling me about string theory or the Russian economy or any one of a number of things he knew more about than I did……

when he hugs that stupid dog we have (he loves that dog)…

when he texts The Cinnamon Girl … I am glad to be in touch even when he’s away at school…

when I think about his incredible dedication to what he wants…

when consider all the teachers at the school he transferred from lamenting that he was leaving … “he’s the kind of kid we need at this school” they said. They were right…

when I watch him in conversation with “adults” and see how he handles himself with poise and confidence

when he makes his quirky jokes; he’s just so damn funny…

when I get a glimpse into how he views the world…

when I remember the serious talks we’ve had and the difficult ones I recall what a privilege it is to be in his life…

… when he does something silly (keys in the refrigerator, anyone?)…

… when he, in his own inimitable way, lets his family know how much they really mean to him.

Happy birthday, bonus son. Happiest of birthdays.

I am forever honored to be a part of your life and forever proud of you.

 

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I Will Be Her Valentine If She’ll Continue to Have Me…


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This Valentines Day, I count myself lucky that The Cinnamon Girl hasn’t come to her senses, that she still wants me as her Valentine and that she still loves me as she has for these many years.

I have the best Valentine in the world.

I am reminded of this quote from Much Ado About Nothing: “They say the lady is fair: ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous: ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me:by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly.”

She is fair, wise and virtuous, and what I have lucked into is very special.

It’s special to be married to your best friend.

It’s special to feel romance hasn’t faded in the years you’ve been together.

It’s special to know that the person you most want to spend time with also wants to most spend time with you.

It’s special to know that someone knows you better than you know yourself.

It’s special to be in love like this.

My Valentine is The Cinnamon Girl. She’ll be my Valentine for as long as she’ll have me.

She is strong. Intelligent. Insightful. Loving. Sexy.

She is everything I have ever wanted in a partner and she is so much more than I deserve.

Happy Valentines Day, my Cinnamon Girl.

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Today Is Your Independence Day! Mine, Too!


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Happy Independence Day, America!

Cap 4th

This is a post from a few years back with a few additions:

The older I get, the more patriotic I become. I have noted that progression in myself for years. I think it’s a good thing. While there is a lot to be critical of, there is also a lot to love about living in the United States of America and being an American citizen, but politics are not the subject of this blog. Impressions of the Fourth of July are!

One: This happened yesterday!

Two: Patriotic Trek

Did you know there are all kinds of patriotic episodes of Star Trek? You should know (and watch them!). Declare Your Independence with These Classic Star Trek Episodes (from trekmovie.com.)

Three: Star Trek Screws up Patriotism

There are a number of egregious references to the United States of America (not involving time travel) in the original Star Trek television series but here are two that really, really stand out: In the episode “The Omega Glory,” Kirk and the crew encounter two warring factions on a planet called “the Yangs” and “the Khoms.” Allegory alert anyone? How subtle is the clip (called by some “Kirk’s Greatest Speech Ever”) you can see HERE?

Worse, though, is the episode entitled “The Savage Curtain” during which Kirk and company encounter a being that believes he IS Abraham Lincoln! Ouch.

star-trek-lincoln

Four: Neil Diamond Gets Patriotism Right

I could listen to Neil Diamond music all day long. In fact, sometimes, I do. Somehow, some way, a number of Neil Diamond songs have become anthems for patriotism. A less obvious example is “Sweet Caroline” which Diamond admitted he was inspired to write by a young Caroline Kennedy. In recent years it has developed into a 7th inning stretch favorite for the Boston Red Sox. At no time was this more poignant than after the Boston Marathon bombing when not only the Red Sox played it (Neil was there to sing it), but stadiums around the country followed suit. You can see Neil belt it out HERE.

More obvious is Neil’s Coming to America. The break out hit from Diamond’s more-watchable-than-you-remember The Jazz Singer, Diamond’s song is a passionate anthem for the immigrant history of this country. This song has a special place in my heart as I once sang it on the radio to try to win a contest for free Neil Diamond concert tickets but, as the radio hosts were about to award me the tickets, they accidentally dropped my call. I am still bitter.  You can hear Neil HERE.

Five: The movie Independence Day

You remember the speech. Watch it HERE again. Then stand up and salute! Better than the sequel from what I hear…

Six: President Obama Almost Cancels Independence Day 

The Cinnamon Girl has, in recent years, made am AMAZING Fourth of July cake.

Here it is:

Three years ago, wondering if the cake had lost its appeal at the traditional family gathering, she suggested she was going to bring a different dessert. I let The Mater know, as she was hosting the family as she had for years, so that she could plan accordingly. About an hour later, the phone rang and Dad was on the saying: “President Obama called. He’s canceled the Fourth of July unless you bring the cake. Bring the cake.” She brought the cake.

4th Cake

 

Happy Fourth of July, all!

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Link’n’Blogs – 4.1.16 – The Best April Fools Pranks of 2016

LincolnLogsDetail


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as thought provoking as I have.

For the last few years I was working in a school, one of my job responsibilities was production of the weekly newsletter that was sent to faculty and staff. I enjoyed editing this newsletter and tried to have a little fun with it when I could. For the first issue in April, I would insert fake items into my colleagues’ offerings primarily for fun but secondarily to see if anyone was actually reading the newsletter in the first place! It was always a pleasure to see if there would be any reaction to the fake stuff I wrote in there… Time has a wonderful list of the best pranks of 2016. Take a look.

TIME MAGAZINE’S Best April Fools Pranks of 2016

april fools

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Our Own Christmas in Colorado


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This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2013. I was going to update them, but they were primarily perfect the way they are.

Beyond spending time with the kids, The Cinnamon Girl and I look forward to this time of year in part because we are creatures of habit and there are wonderful routines and tropes we anticipate renewing this time of year. They are what makes the Christmas Season feel like Christmas.

One cannot always count on the weather. On December 21, 2015 as I update this post, it’s sunny, so one must generate the Christmas Spirit in other ways.

It isn’t hard to do.

Christmas Things We Enjoy

12. Decorating the House

Right after Thanksgiving, we love to get the Christmas lights and Christmas tree up and running. We did this when Stretch and HJ jr were home for their Thanksgiving Breaks. Our outdoor lights are white icicle and we added a Christmas Fox to our yard this season.

The tree is trimmed. It shines all day. I love this time of year.

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11. Making Christmas Cookies

The kids are older now, so some of the overwhelming excitement about butter, flour and sugar may be a bit lessened, but we spend an evening this week making and decorating our cookies. Everyone gets to do just what they want to, make and decorate for as long as they wish. We put on a movie or Christmas Carols, break out the cookie press and bake. These are times to enjoy!

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10. Listening to Christmas Music

Also immediately after Thanksgiving, I begin listening to Christmas music. I have a playlist ready to roll all year for this event and I even change my running routine (I’ve been listening to audio books for my runs this year) to Christmas classics. The song below is my newest favorite…

9. Christmas Kringle

When I married the Cinnamon Girl and we began to combine Christmas traditions, I can say that the best thing I gained in the bargain was the eating of the Christmas Kringle!  Never heard of it? Here’s what wikipedia has to say: “In the United States, kringles are hand-rolled from Danish pastry dough (wienerbrød dough) that has been rested overnight before shaping, filling, and baking. Thirty-two layers of the flaky dough are layered, then shaped in an oval. After filling with fruit, nut, or other flavor combinations, the pastry is baked and iced.”  Um, yeah. That description doesn’t do the Kringle justice! It’s a delicious (and calorie free!) delight that I wait all year to eat!

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8. Holiday Shopping

Each year, The Cinnamon Girl, the kids and I go out for a meal and shopping for Christmas presents. The day begins with breakfast, brunch or lunch (depending upon the shoppers’ mood!) at the Cheesecake Factory and then we wander the mall while the kids point out things they want from one another  and we do the same for them. It’s a lovely tradition that we’ve been doing for years and it is clear from these young adults that they want nothing about this tradition to change – don’t even mention it!

Once home, the kids retire to their rooms and wrap their gifts and then get them under the tree.

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7. Holiday Calendar

We love to plan the month… and plan the season. We love to work everything in that we want to do. With three teenagers and two households to consider, that gets a bit challenging, but we make it work!

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6. Smelts

My dad was Italian. A little. His mother was Italian. A lot. Italian families celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In our context, this meant only smelts. Smelts need to be cleaned – de-boned and washed. That task has fallen to me for the last decade. It’s a tradition… perhaps not the most joyous one!

In case you don’t know what that is:  from wikipedia: “The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence – in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products – on Wednesdays, Fridays and (in the Latin Church) Saturdays, as well as during Lent and on the eve of specific holy days. As no meat or butter could be used on such days, observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil. The meal may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.”

smelts

5. Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose!

Each year for the last few, Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose have been a part of our celebrations. They turn up when we least expect them… they scare the animals, they frighten the children, the make us laugh!

They haven’t made their annual appearances yet, but I am sure they are coming…

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4. Christmas Cards

Is it a dying tradition? I don’t know. I certainly hope it’s not. There is much to be said for the act of writing, the act of signing one’s name, the act of putting a stamp on something and putting it in the mail. I love sending cards as much as I love receiving them.

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3. Christmas Eve Celebration

With the extended family on Christmas Eve, we always feel as though we are home.

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2. Cinnamon Girl Makes Christmas Dinner

No matter what she decides to make for us, it’s always delicious. This year, it’s likely to be crab and mashed potatoes with asparagus. She might even make homemade cheddar biscuits to go with along. She’ll give us champagne cocktails. She’ll make it perfect. The Cinnamon Girl is actually the best gift I got this or any year. Period. End of discussion.

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1. Time with the Family

Sous Chef.

Stretch.

HJ jr.

The Cinnamon Girl.

Family makes Christmas. My family makes Christmas great.

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Thankfulness…

If the only prayer you ever said was “thank you,” it would be enough. – Meister Eckhart

My life is so very full of grace and I am as aware of this as I have ever been. I am blessed with –

Kateri Caroline Jeff Homecoming 2015

Matthew Profile

Indy Fall 2014

An amazing wife whose courage inspires and whose love is my life…

3 wonderful children who make me laugh and smile and they are all home this week…

A family that is supportive and present and loving…

Friends who are like family, who care enough to tell the truth…

A roof over my head, a home that I love…

A career in education which has been touched by so many wonderful people…

More things than I need, more wealth than I deserve…

I have so much for which to be grateful.

There is no reason why the mindset of this day should not be the mindset of my entire year because that is the richness of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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