Tag Archives: birthday

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:


“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


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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Too Many Crossroads, Not Enough Tears | Stretch At 21 And A College Graduate

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So, it has come to this: Stretch turns 21 years old today.


We have been through this before as HJ jr got there a few months back. We have crossed this particular Rubicon.

But, not only does Stretch cross the 21 threshold today, tomorrow, he graduates Gonzaga University and prepares, in a few short weeks, to begin his Master’s studies at the University of Notre Dame.

I am not sure which milestone is more affecting but I can tell you, I am emotionally compromised thinking about the little boy who used to spend hours playing Backyard Football, the middle school kid who laughed and laughed at something outrageous The Cinnamon Girl said to him, the high school student who made incredibly close friends, led retreats and loved his siblings, the college student who did so well he got himself into his dream school for post graduate studies and the young man who will dedicate his life to educating others.

We could not be more proud of Stretch, of the young man he has been and the man he is becoming.

We love you.

Happy Birthday!

Happy graduation!

Happy next phase of your life!

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The number of rites of passage is quickly running out.

As of today, as far as HJ jr is concerned, there are very few of them left.

HJ jr is 21.

I do not have any words for how proud I am, how excited I am and how dedicated I am to this young man.

What a blessing he is. What a man he is. What a joy today is!

A photo retrospective in 21 scene – ENJOY!

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