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5 Things I Learned: August 2016

1. Let us now praise the Brieftons Vertico Spiralizer: In an effort to eat healthier, we’re trying to cut down on carbs. Unfortunately, pasta is made out of carbs, and pasta appears in approximately 150% of our meals. (You haven’t lived until you’ve had Cap’n Crunch Alfredo.)

To the rescue comes the Brieftons Vertico Spiralizer, a handy little kitchen tool that turns just about any vegetable into noodles. You may ask, “If you cut zucchini into noodle shapes and put it in a pasta dish, doesn’t it still taste like zucchini, which is awful?” To my surprise as much as anyone’s, the answer is, “No, no it does not.” It actually tastes like whatever sauce and spices you use in the dish, just like pasta does.

This little wonder has opened a huge door into new dining possibilities, which hopefully will make me less fat in the process.

2. Also, did you know you can make rice out of cauliflower? You can! And it is also much better than it sounds! We had some chicken fried (cauliflower) rice, and it was great. I wouldn’t even have known it wasn’t regular rice if Rachel hadn’t told me. Another good alternative to a carb-heavy family staple. Skinny jeans, here I come!

3. My wife is a saint. A SAINT!: After all that hard innovation in the meal-planning department, Rachel was due some time off, so she and some friends took a long weekend trip to the beach. Reading between the lines, you will see that also means that I had a long weekend of sole responsibility for our kids, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. You can also see how this presents a problem, seeing that I am a person who frequently struggles to keep from putting both my feet in the same pants leg.

I’m already well aware of how hard my wife works, but it’s always a splash of cold water in the face to have to do what she does, event for just a few days. I’m not even saying that our kids are difficult; they aren’t. But running a household takes a lot of skills that I lack, like patience, leadership, and, frankly, cleanliness.

homer_frenchman

We survived, but just barely, on a steady diet of gummies and My Little Pony cartoons. Have I mentioned how great it is to have a family with two parents?

4. This just in: Having one kid is easier than having two kids: Our 4-year-old boy took a little vacation of his own, spending a night with my wife’s parents. This left us and our 2-year-old girl as a one-child family for the first time in, well, two years. And, man, I’m kicking myself for not appreciating how easy we had it when we just had one kid.

When you first have a child, you think, “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” You never stop to think how much harder it would be to do all the same things with a toddler hanging on to your ankles all the time. I now leave it to Jen Fulwiler to talk about how much easier it is to have five kids than six.

5. ESPN has lost me: It occurred to me recently that I, a longtime baseball fan, have absolutely no idea what’s going on this baseball season.  It’s because ESPN has always been my go-to source for baseball information, but I now no longer have any desire to watch ESPN at all.

For as long as I’ve had cable TV, ESPN has been my default channel. If nothing else was on, the TV was on ESPN. But their sports coverage has now taken a backseat to using sports as an excuse for left-liberal propagandizing. Their baseball coverage has gotten worse and SportsCenter has become downright unwatchable. If I have to see another soft-focus profile of a brave transgender high school volleyball player tearing down barriers and defying the odds, I’m going to hang myself.

We’re on the cusp of another college football season, and since the Worldwide Leader pretty much has the market cornered there, I won’t be able to walk away entirely. But for ESPN to lose someone who’s been a dedicated fan for as long as I have, it says a lot about the state of the network.

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The Great South o’ Town Church Search!

church signLast summer my family and I relocated from the suburbs north of Birmingham to the suburbs south of Birmingham so I could be closer to my favorite Waffle House. When you move into a new house in Alabama, your priority tasks are 1) get power and cable TV turned on so you can watch football, 2) find a church, 3) get water turned on, 4) relocate remains from Indian burial ground on property (if walls are bleeding or poltergeists interrupt cable TV service).

Yes, finding a church really is that high a priority, and we were excited about the prospect of joining one of the many thriving churches in the area.

Since we had so many options (seriously, I walk by three churches on the way to my mailbox), we wanted to really take our time and explore all the possibilities. This was our first step on a promising new journey, and we wanted to make the most of it.

Along the way, we discovered that we were pretty particular about what we wanted from a church. Churches that had bad websites were eliminated right off the bat, just like the Bible says they should be (“…and those that still useth Flash animation shall be cast into eternal hellfire and torment.” – somewhere in Hezekiah, I think). Once they cleared that hurdle and got us in the door we got really picky.

Even churches with basically the same theology in basically the same part of the country can have a lot of really distinctive quirks and unique corporate personalities. But you can usually still group them into some basic categories, and we hit a lot of those categories.

Herewith, our experiences in the south-of-Birmingham church buffet, with names changed to protect the innocent:

The Local Mega-Church That Everybody Goes To

This is the church with its own bookstore in the lobby and frozen yogurt on tap in the youth annex and more audio/video equipment in the sanctuary than was used to broadcast Super Bowl XLI. From the perfectly manicured grounds to the Disney-like use of logos and signage on every surface, it’s clear that they have all the resources in the world.

Resources are good though, because that means that they have things that are important to us like high-quality programs for our kids and exceptional worship music that my wife really enjoyed and I found quite tolerable.

Plus, this church is a little different from other mega-churches in that it has been heavily influenced by a previous pastor to use its resources less to enlarge the church and more to buy food for starving people in India and facilitate adoptions and things like that.

The people are almost uniformly nice and welcoming to visitors, and everyone who makes up the face of the church — whether paid staff or volunteers — seems to really have their crap together. Good first impression.

Super-Hip Modern Church with a Name That Looks More Like a Math Formula than a Church Name

You see these churches more and more, with names like “24fellowship” or “17:17Church”; the kind of church where it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into what the website’s URL would be.

This one had a distinctly hip vibe, but not coldly so. The members were very nice and welcoming. They met in a building that wasn’t originally designed to be a church, which just added to the reclaimed-barnwood hipness of the place.

Their worship music was also excellent, and during that portion of the service, people gathered around the stage like the mosh pit at a concert. We thought that was cool, but not really for us. We save our moshing for when it’s “70% Off Clearance!” weekend at Old Navy.

And that was the overall impression that we took away from our visit: cool, energetic, clearly engaging for some people, but not for us. Moving on.

Strip Mall Church Plant 1

We wanted to try some smaller, less established churches because they could use the most help, and we were keen on not just being passive spectators at our new church. And the cool thing about church plants is that they have a very high proportion of people who are more than spectators. The moment we walked in the door we were met by some very engaging people who would’ve gladly talked to us about the church all day and probably invited us to be deacons.

But in a fluky turn of events, we happened to be visiting on the day that the church was giving a spiritual gifts survey. There was no normal worship service and the pastor didn’t deliver a normal message. We just took a multiple choice test, found out our spiritual gifts (discernment and wisdom, y’all!), and went home.

It’s strange to think about, but they made a great first impression, and if we’d visited on another Sunday, that might’ve been our church. But we never went back. That’s the way the world turns.

Strip Mall Church Plant 2

Just a stone’s throw from Strip Mall Church Plant 1 (though in a different strip mall), we dropped in on Strip Mall Church Plant 2. We were met in the parking lot by a sweaty, wheezing, overwhelmed-seeming man who we would later find out was the pastor. That’s the kind of personalized service you just don’t find in bigger churches, where you normally have to work closely with the music minister to find someone who is that sweaty.

Again, all the people were very nice and earnest, but there was just too much about this church that gave me that feeling you get when you accidentally walk in on your parents talking about their sex life. I spent the whole service focused on suppressing my flight instinct.

The one thing I’ll always remember is that the room that they used as the classroom for the preschoolers had a door that opened directly into the parking lot. Who does that? Those kids spend all day praying for a crack of daylight like a convict in solitary, and when they see it, they’re gone. Let’s keep the kids in an interior room, how ’bout?

Joel Osteen-Influenced Church

Yes, there is one nearby. And no, just no.

Old People’s Church

In fairness, there weren’t only old people at this church. However, among the grown-ups, I think my wife and I lowered the average age by about fifteen years. And I’m no spring chicken.

This was the long-established, traditional, community lynchpin kind of church. It was very nice, and I’m sure very appealing to traditionally-minded people. But much like the hipster church was a little too hipster, the traditional church was a little too traditional.

In another flukey twist, it turned out that they normally had two different services: the traditional one, and a “contemporary” one that I imagine was supposed to appeal to youngsters like my wife and me. But on the Sunday we visited, the chapel that hosted the contemporary service was under repair, so there was only one service. And it wasn’t the contemporary one.

Rich People’s Church

A very nice church — fairly new, but built to look old — in a very nice part of town. They also clearly had resources, and I mean both the church and the church members. So much so that my wife and I were concerned that, if we joined this church, we might be the family that the other families saw as a charity case. “Just look at those Andersons. It looks like everything they wear is from 70% off clearance weekend at Old Navy. Let’s slip a hundred under their windshield wiper. ‘For if you’ve done unto the least of these…'”

Interestingly, this church was led by my favorite preacher of all the churches we visited, a high-energy guy whose cultural perspective really spoke to me. But as for the rest of it, I can’t really put my finger on it other than to say that the vibe just wasn’t us. After we hit the lottery, we’ll give them a second look.

The Decision

In the end, we too ended up joining the mega-church that everyone goes to. We resisted it at first because it just seemed too easy; we didn’t want to go just because it was the default church for everyone in the area.

But when we went down our checklist of wants, we couldn’t deny that they had them all. And now that we’ve been there a few months, there’s no second guessing. The people are great, the opportunities to serve are plentiful, and it just feels like where we’re supposed to be. Which, checklist aside, is the only thing anybody’s really looking for.

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A Clarification of Our Current Predicament

There are more than a few smart, respectable, level-headed conservatives saying that we have to vote for Trump because that’s the only way to keep the Supreme Court out of Hillary’s hands. It’s an inversion of the “devil you know” argument: the devil we know is the most horrible thing imaginable, so anything else must be better.

It’s a compelling argument, for sure, and I don’t blame anyone who is convinced by it. But I’d like us to take a step back and consider the entirety of our current situation, of which the presidential election is only a small part.

State Senates

State Senates

State Houses

State Houses

Republicans currently control both houses of the state legislature in 31 states. They control at least one of the legislative houses in 37 states.

Republicans control the governorships of 31 states, versus 18 Democrats and one independent (Alaska; no telling what’s going on up there).

Republicans control both houses of the U.S Congress. They control the House of Representatives by a lot, more than 50 seats.

Political analysts agree that during the Obama presidency, the Democratic party has gotten electorally crushed on every level.

And you’re telling me that if the Republicans — the conservative party — don’t control who gets appointed to the Supreme Court, then all that counts for nothing and conservatism is doomed?

(Pause for effect.)

Yes, that is correct. That’s pretty much the situation we’re in.

Traditional conservatism (Tea Party conservatism, grassroots conservatism, whatever you want to call it) has made historic electoral gains over the past few years, and the only thing that’s happened is the system has adapted so as to more effectively ignore it. At one point there were 17 people running for the Republican nomination for president, half a dozen of whom I would have been not just willing but excited to vote for. When the nomination was decided, what we ended up with was a contest between two big government liberals. So now we’re reduced to arguing that we have to vote for the one who’s been a Republican for all of ten minutes, because maybe, possibly he won’t appoint Supreme Court justices who will rubber-stamp every insane progressive idea that comes down the pike.

If that’s the situation that we find ourselves in, my friends, I submit to you that we’ve got bigger problems than needing to win the presidency. What we have is a separation of powers that isn’t separating, and checks and balances that are neither checking nor balancing.

We are playing in a game that is designed to defeat us. Thinking we can fix the system by electing the right president is like me playing a sport called DestroyJasonBall, wondering why I keep getting destroyed, and thinking I can start to win if I send a strongly-worded complaint letter to the league commissioner.

Getting back to some semblance of constitutional government will take more drastic action than that. How drastic? Well, I don’t know, but pretty drastic. I’m sorry I don’t have the answers; right now I just want us to understand our predicament. Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

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The Joys of Double Parenthood

starwarsfamilyThere’s been a lot of ink spilled about single parenthood in my lifetime. As the number of single parent households went through the roof, a lot of people felt the need to lend them as much moral support as possible. So, for the last few decades we’ve seen a steady stream of odes to single parents — how hard they work, how much they sacrifice for their kids, stuff like that.

There are many cases where that’s true, and those parents deserve all the praise and support we can give them. But we spend so much time talking about how great single parents are, I’m afraid we give short shrift to the fact that having two parents is pretty great too.

This occurred to me during some recent vacation time with my family. I’m an educated man, a good problem solver, fairly calm in pressure situations, in good physical shape, with an upbeat disposition. And I could no more travel by myself with a two-year-old and a four-year-old than I could defuse a bomb while landing a jet plane on a carrier deck at night. Our road trip was one, long prayer of thankfulness by me for my wife.

She packed new movies for the kids to watch in the car. She put fresh batteries in their headphones. When they both wanted the same snack, she was ready. When they wanted different snacks, she was ready for that too. She was ready to tend to every need of a couple of people who need a lot of needs tended to.

That’s an incredible blessing when you’re traveling with small children, and it’s the kind of preparation that neither of us would have had time for if we were working alone.

That’s the key: time. You can love your kids a lot, and sacrifice for them a lot, but there is no substitute for time. Two parents working together can manufacture time. It sounds miraculous, but it’s true. And that’s the gift we can give our kids, and each other, that will matter when we look back on our lives together.

For single parents who are making the best of it, I admire your efforts. But for everyone who’s thinking of starting a family, I highly recommend that you do it with someone who is loyal and loving, who is in it for the long haul, and who can pour milk into a sippy cup in a moving car.

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5 Things I Learned: July 2016

I’m a little late this month, because…

“That’s him, officer! The one on the right!”

1. Whoever designs Samsung dryers is a sadistic monster: A couple of weeks ago my wife discovered that our dryer was spinning but not drying. Well, that’s not good, I thought, but it’s probably just a bad heating element.

No problem, I’ve replaced a dryer heating element before. Let me just check YouTube for a video that tells you how to… OH MY LORD, DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE WHOLE DRYER APART TO GET TO THE ELEMENT?!?!

Yes, you do, in fact, have to take the entire dryer apart to get to the heating element, located, as it is, in the most inaccessible bottom corner of the machine, right underneath the Ark of the Covenant. About ten minutes into that instruction video, I decided that the odds of me taking the thing apart and getting it back together correctly were about the same as the odds of me performing successful spinal surgery on myself on a rubber raft in the middle of a hurricane. “Welp,” I said, “looks like we’re gonna have to buy a dryer.”

After looking at the prices of new dryers, though, I started to think, “You know, it’s already not working, so it’s not like I’m going to make it any worse.” So, I found the replacement part and gave it the ol’ college try, and what do you know, I actually fixed it. It was way harder than replacing that part should have to be, but at the end of it I feel like I made $500! No thanks to you, Samsung.

2. I’m in a period of my life where vacation days are harder than regular days: More specifically, a period where I live with two little people whom I have to take with me everywhere I go, and who need regularly scheduled naps every day, and who aren’t particularly good at using the potty in public places yet. Not to say that vacations with the family aren’t fun; they are. But they’re also kind of grueling in a way that makes a body glad to get back to regularly scheduled life after a while.

We spent a week at the beach, and we had a great time, and I wanted to hug my house when we got back.

3. They don’t make good movies anymore: This is something I keep re-learning every time I go to the movies, but it keeps being true. I went to see the new Star Trek movie, and it was ok; worth the price of admission on $5 Tuesday ($2 drinks and popcorn y’all! You can’t afford not to go!). But it’s pretty obvious they weren’t trying to make a good movie. They had a checklist of items they think are supposed to go in a blockbuster summer movie, and they were just trying to check as many of them as they could in two hours, including “dangerous motorcycle stunts.” In a Star Trek movie.

4. It only takes one idea to get a movie made: Don’t be fooled: the movie business is not that complicated. I’m pretty sure that Star Trek: Beyond happened because someone said, “You know what would be cool? If the Enterprise was in some kind of space battle… with the Beastie Boys song Sabotage playing in the background!” And then a studio executive said, “Make a whole movie around that scene! Here’s $100 million.”

5. We are utterly, utterly screwed: I’m still trying to stay away from politics because it’s just too depressing. But we had the major party conventions last month, so it was hard to avoid. And when you see it big as life in front of your face for two straight weeks like that, man, it’s just as terrible as you think.

I’m not one of those “The system is broken!” kind of people. The system we have is great; one of the best ever devised by the minds of men. It’s just that the people who run the system are awful.

However, it’s hard not to think that something is amiss when, out of a nation of 300 million, the only two people who have a legitimate chance to win the presidency are so completely contemptible.

Let’s say that we combined both candidates into one person, named Dilary Clump. It is hard for me to think of any American whom I wouldn’t vote for over Dilary. Mitt Romney? Sure. John Kasich? Definitely. Either of the guys from the Sonic Drive-In commercials? No question. Recently released presidential assassin wannabee John Hinckley Jr.? At least it would put him somewhere where the Secret Service could keep an eye on him.

But none of those people are on the ballot, so Dilary is going to be president. Over the next hundred days or so, I’ll try to keep my mind off of it by researching fun third parties (Why, hello there, Constitution Party! Nice to meet you!) and hoping for some absurd new development that will turn this mess around. Which, in an absurd year, might not be all that absurd.

No, nothing’s going to happen. We’re screwed.

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A Picture to Remember You

IMG_20160604_103015630My son Graham is a pretty happy-go-lucky soul. He needs structure and is apprehensive about change just like any other kid, but for a four-year-old he rolls with the punches pretty well.

So when he started to pitch screaming fits whenever we tried to drop him off at his preschool or Sunday school class, we wondered what was going on. He had been in preschool for six months already, making friends and doing fine. He always said he had fun in Sunday school, and we always got good reports from his teachers.

But all of a sudden, teachers were having to pry his little fingers off the mini-van door to get him into school. We asked if there had been any kind of incident that would change his attitude. Everyone said no.

After thinking about it and talking about it, my wife and I began to realize that he wasn’t upset about going to school; he was upset about leaving us. He was fine up until the moment of separation, the moment he would have to walk through the door and live life apart from us. Then he was overcome by anxiety and uncertainty.

I wanted to do something to help him, but didn’t know what. Because he’s pretty smart and a good communicator (when I can’t remember a cartoon he’s talking about, he’ll re-create it in Lego, like he was an expert witness in a lawsuit brought by one of the cartoon characters: “See, here’s the part where the faulty Acme magnifying glass set the bird’s butt on fire. Remember now, dad? I rest my case.”), I just asked him. “What can we do to make you happier when we drop you off at class?” I said.

I suggested some ideas that I thought would comfort him. I considered giving him something of mine that he could hold onto during class, like my wallet or my cell phone (yes, those are terrible ideas, but a day where I don’t consider a bad parenting idea is like a Friday the 13th where nobody checks that strange noise coming from the basement).

The idea to make a drawing was his. He said that he might like it if he had a drawing of our family and our house that he could take with him to class and keep in his pocket. I said that I thought that was a great idea, and he quickly produced the picture that you see above.

On the next Sunday morning, we folded up the drawing and stuck it in the pocket of his shorts. He kept his hand on his pocket to make sure the drawing was in there, and when we got to his classroom… he walked right in. As Rachel and I were walking away, he was pulling out the picture to show to his teacher.

It worked, and it’s worked ever since. But why?

Wondering about that made me wonder about this: Why don’t my wife and I break down crying whenever we drop him off?

It’s hard to explain what makes us feel connected to people. Sometimes you can feel very close to loved ones who are distant. Sometimes you can feel a million miles away from a person who’s sitting right next to you.

It’s a skill of sorts. It’s certainly something you can learn to do better. And most people do, as they grow older, learn to connect with others and maintain connections. At least they learn how it’s done, even if they don’t necessarily do it.

Graham did a little learning in this period in his life, a time when he started to grasp the reality of separation. Mom and dad don’t stop existing when they leave the room. They’re still out there, somewhere, in the big, unknowable world. That’s got to be a little unsettling, the first time you realize it.

One of the fun things about having kids is you get to watch them go through these stages of figuring life out. And they do it without any of the adult camouflage that we wear to make it look like we have everything together. Graham’s solution to his fear of separation was a picture he could use to help him remember us together. Even when we weren’t physically close, that picture proved to him that there was such a thing a a connection between us. It was a physical symbol of a spiritual reality, for someone who hadn’t yet learned full confidence in things of the spirit.

Kids aren’t the only ones who need little talismans. Even grown-ups who are good at relationships (or maybe I should say, “Especially grown-ups who are good…”) know that there’s something about them that is magic — unquantifiable, unlearnable. It’s not physical but it’s real, and solid. We can’t see it but we know it exists because it alters the trajectory of our lives like a gravity well.

When something affects us like that, we instinctively want to be able to see it, to put our hands on it. It’s the instinct that leads to things like autographs, wedding rings, and stained glass windows. We need tangible symbols of spiritual things, because we know better how to rely on our senses than how to rely on our faith.

As Graham grows, I hope his mom and I can teach him that bonds like ours don’t need physical proof. And I hope that we remember that lesson ourselves, as his world gets bigger and he grows away from us. The physical distance can be great, even infinite. The connection — purely spiritual, unseeable, unknowable — stays as real as the rock beneath our feet.

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5 Things I Learned: June 2016

1. Double-check the time on those theater tickets – We backed into some free tickets to Wicked courtesy of my wife’s brother and his wife. It was a Sunday matinee; they told us to meet them at the theater at 1:30 for the 2:00 show.

When we got there, there was not another soul in sight. As we made our way up the multi-tiered labyrinthine ascent to our balcony seats (at one point, we literally had to free climb up the sheer face of a cliff), we started to say, “Hey, it’s a really light crowd for this performance. Maybe if there are still empty seats by intermission, we’ll move down to the orchestra section!”

We finally got to Balcony Triple-Y or whatever our designated entrance was, opened the door, and saw that there was music and dancing happening on the stage. “What,” I thought, “are they rehearsing or something?” Then the usher looked at us like we had floated in on a fart cloud, and I realized the show had already started. And it wasn’t a light crowd; it was a sold-out crowd.

We checked the tickets, and sure enough, showtime at 1:00, not 2:00. So, we had to crawl across the laps of half a dozen people to get to our seats, and on top of that, we had to chase off a sweet little old lady who had apparently moved down to our empty seats from her higher-up seats, which must’ve been in low earth orbit to be higher up than ours.

(Note: if my brother- and sister-in-law read this, please know that I have zero complaints about our free (FREE!) theater tickets. I just could not pass up recounting this story. We all had a good time, and the last 2/3rds of Wicked was fantastic.)

2. People in the traveling companies of Broadway shows are really talented – I have a hard time believing that there’s that much of a difference in talent between the traveling company that we saw and the people who perform in the actual Broadway production. I realize that Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel hold a special place in music celebrity, but the women playing the leads on the road don’t have to take a back seat to anybody. Sometimes you see a great singer, and sometimes you see a singer whose talent can’t be explained by the laws of physics. This was the latter.

3. Maybe we’re not doomed – At least in England, with the “Brexit” vote, some people showed that they still have a desire to control their own fate, rather than leaving it in the hands of an out-of-touch, bloated, centralized government full of over-credentialed bureaucratic ninnies. Whatever they’re drinking, please send a boatload of it to America.

4. No, wait. We’re doomed. – The non-sequitur reaction to the Orlando shooting followed soon thereafter by the international “ho-hum” at the Istanbul attack show that the ninnies are still firmly in control. Things will get much worse before they get better.

5. Martin Short’s autobiography is great. – I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend. It’ll make you laugh; it’ll make you cry. Check it out, and if you can, get the audio book version, read by Short himself, because he does all of his famous characters and impressions. Here’s a little Kate Hepburn anecdote to whet your appetite.

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Hey, I’m in a Book!

jason-anderson-ofwbwAuthor, radio show host, and my internet buddy Jen Fulwiler has put together a new book, and I’m just tickled to be a part of it.

Not too long ago, Jen asked a bunch of her blogger friends to write a series of posts, each meditating on a word from the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father, as our Catholic brothers and sisters say). Now she’s collected those posts into a book called The Our Father, Word by Word, and she’s offering it for free to people who sign up for her email list (Radio Announcer Voice: “No obligation! Cancel anytime!”).

I think it turned out great, and I highly recommend you check out both the book and Jen’s website. If you don’t know her, I’d say her vibe is kind of like a less-weepy Jen Hatmaker, and she knows more about old school rap than any homeschooling Catholic mother of six I’ve ever seen.

So do yourself a favor and swing on by Jen’s site and pick up a copy of the book while you’re at it. If you’re curious, my contribution is on the word “Heaven” (the second one).

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A Quick Guide to #Brexit

Occasionally it happens that something you’ve never heard of before suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world. It happened the first time you heard the word “McGriddle,” and now it’s happened again with “Brexit,” which, it turns out, is not the brand name of a Depression-era snack cracker, but rather the decision of voters in Great Britain to leave the European Union.

The air has been filled with opinions and commentary, but you may be wondering what does all this Brexit talk really mean, anyway? Well, I’m no expert, but I have read several tweets and like half of a really long blog post about it. So, allow me to answer some common Brexit questions.

— Is “Brexit” a real word, or is it a made-up word like “Brangelina” or “portmanteau”?

It’s a made-up word, a shorthand way to refer to BRitain’s EXIT from the European Union (or EU, pronounced “Eww”).

— What words would we use for other countries if they left the EU?

Departugal, Czechout, Italeave, and Nethermind. I hope all these happen because these words are funny.

— Is Brexit a good thing or a bad thing?

It depends. If you’re the Assistant to the EU Deputy Minister for Banana Curvature Measurement Standards, when the world’s 5th largest economy stops paying membership dues, your budget is definitely going to get cut. If you’re a third-world basket case economy that just happens to be attached to Europe (Hello, Greece!), the slush fund for bailing out your sorry ass is about to get a lot smaller.

But if you’re an Englishman who would rather not send his tax money to Belgian bureaucrats or foreign governments that can’t balance their own checkbooks, it’s a good thing. If you’re just somebody who thinks the world could do with a little less bureaucracy and a little more local control, it’s a good thing. And if you’re someone who enjoys watching the ruling elites of Europe and America wet their pants, it’s a very good thing.

Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I sometimes base my opinions on the “Right People Mad” theory: if something is making the right people mad, then it’s probably a good thing. And this is definitely making the right people mad.

— Since the Brexit vote, my 401(k) has lost enough money to pay for a lifetime supply of fish’n’chips. And yet you say it’s a good thing, which makes me want to punch you in the face. Why should I not punch you in the face?

If there’s one thing the financial markets hate, it’s uncertainty. Change makes them flip out, and that in itself tells you nothing about whether the change is a good, bad, or neutral one.

What is new and scary today will be business as usual in a week or two, and the markets will settle themselves down. This changes nothing about the global economy except the names of the treaties under which it does business.

— Does any of this have anything to do with soccer?

I don’t know, maybe. Europeans really like soccer.

— I’ve heard a lot of people say this move is racist. Why is that?

Two reasons: 1) Anytime something happens that liberals don’t like, it’s racist. It’s racist when the waffles at the breakfast bar are soggy. It’s racist when they have to sit through the same stop light three times during rush hour. Any person who doesn’t continually rub their bellies and tell them they’re wonderful is racist.

And, 2) Leaving the EU would give the UK more control over their own immigration policies. And so… I don’t see any reason to think this in inherently racist. But, since it involves people looking out for their own best interests rather than than being told what to do by a distant ruling authority, liberals don’t like it. Therefore: racist.

— Will the British still have those cool accents?

You mean these? Why, yes, yes they will.

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Speaking for Fathers, Let’s Kill All the Alligators

no_alligators_highway_sign_The juxtaposition of two nightmarish incidents in Florida last week provide a harsh life lesson for all of us about how ugly the world can get. But the more I see the general reaction unfold, the more I think that maybe it wasn’t harsh enough.

A family, vacationing at Disney World, lost their toddler son to an alligator attack. They were wading in some water and watched it happen right in front of them. It’s hard to imagine anything more horrible.

Since the attack there has been much commentary — about what the parents should have done, what the resort should have done, and on and on. One of the points I’ve heard most often is that the water where the family was wading had “No Swimming” signs, but had no notice that there might be alligators. So naturally the “solutions” we’re going to get to this problem are more signs, bigger signs, maybe a pamphlet on alligator awareness included with the Gideon Bible in every hotel room.

After that’s done, everybody involved will wipe their hands and figure that they’ve done what they needed to do. Meanwhile, everyone who really wants to solve the problem, who really wants to make sure that no more kids get dragged off by alligators, knows that no one has even considered the only sensible solution: kill all the alligators.

Not all the alligators in the world, or even all the alligators in Florida. But within the perimeter of the resort, where the people are, they should kill every single alligator, destroy their eggs, and obliterate their nests. Any alligator that wanders onto the grounds should be shot on sight.

Could they ever bring themselves to do this? I doubt it, considering that when they were cutting open alligators to search for the boy’s remains, they couldn’t even use the word “killing,” saying instead that the gators were being “euthanized,” which is just precious. Did they play soothing music and hold the alligator’s head in their lap while they did it?

Likewise, after 49 people were mowed down in an Orlando gay bar, lots of people are screaming that we should do something in response, and they’re suggesting pretty much every possible solution except something that would actually do some good.

One suggestion that seems to be getting some traction is the idea to pass a law preventing people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. This is the equivalent of a law preventing Florida alligators from buying dentures.

It’s hard to know what gets someone added to a terrorist watch list (which is part of the problem with terrorist watch lists), but if they have any significance at all, why should people on that list be allowed to buy anything? Indeed, why should they be allowed to set foot in public without being smothered in a dog-pile of city, state, and federal law enforcement officers? If we’re not doing that, then what is the list for, anyway?

Anyone who has any ties to, or expresses support for, Al Queda or ISIS should be arrested and charged with treason, at least. That’s what would be happening if we were a serious country. Not waiting for a long-time supporter of our enemies to murder a bunch of people. Not waiting for another child to be dragged into the lagoon. We’d be going out and killing the alligators.

I’m afraid, though, that we’re just going to put up a few signs (“If you see something, say something about how you’re a bigoted Islamophobe!”), pass some meaningless laws, and congratulate ourselves about how smart and good we are. But we have enemies who are not impressed by our smartness or goodness. As a father of two, I hope that somewhere out there we’ll find enough common sense to do what has to be done: kill all the alligators.

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5 Things I Learned: May 2016

My lovely wife has challenged me to make some blog posts that are more personal, and one of her suggestions is a post every month with a “5 things I learned this month” format.

This is a challenge because I am fairly dense and don’t learn a whole lot. I could go several years without learning five things. The only things I learned from 1989-1997 were how to register for college classes and how to operate a debit card reader in a gas pump.

However, getting married and having kids does nothing as much as forcing you to learn and grow with regularity. At this point in my life, the learning opportunities come at you life dodgeballs at a fat kid. So without further ado, here are a few things I got out of May.

5 Things I Learned this Month

1. I am old — My 45th birthday landed on me this month. I still feel young, and perhaps even look younger than I am to other people (helped by the fact that, though I am a grown man with two children, I dress like I work at Hot Topic). But on the inside, I can tell that my body is starting to betray me.

When I climb stairs early in the morning, I’m accompanied by a soundtrack of creaks and pops and weird grinding noises, which would be great if I was in the cast of Stomp!, but I’ve been strictly forbidden to wear garbage can lids on my feet.

My sad condition is exacerbated by the fact that my sister has challenged me to run a half-marathon with her next year. I’m trying to get back into shape with a body that may have decided it doesn’t want to be athletic anymore. Getting to the refrigerator and back during a commercial break is a challenge; getting to thirteen miles will be an epic struggle of the will. I’ll let you know how that goes.

2. Marvel makes some darn fine super hero movies — I got to see the latest Captain America movie on its opening weekend. It’s obvious to me that the people who are making Marvel’s movies are people who grew up on comic books just like I did; people who appreciate the fact that these characters weren’t created out of whole cloth yesterday — they have a history that, to the fans, is as real as the history of any other historical figure.

When you respect that history, you make a better movie and you make the fans happy. Twelve-year-old Jason loved these characters, and he would heartily approve of how they appear in Civil War and most of the rest of the Marvel oeuvre.

3. Angry Birds is a challenging screenwriting class exercise — My son is going through a period in which Angry Birds has the same effect on him as the Beatles had on the front row at the Ed Sullivan show. So of course we were going to see the Angry Birds movie.

And see it we did. To my boy, it was a film making achievement that makes Citizen Kane look like outtakes from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. To me, it was a very interesting creative exercise for a screenwriting class — take a simple video game and turn it into a legitimate, 90-minute, theatrical-release movie with plot, laughs, character development, the whole nine yards.

Could you do it with Crossy Road or Cut the Rope? I don’t know, but you can do it with Angry Birds. It’s a real movie with some legitimate laughs. I now look forward to Plants vs. Zombies: The Movie.

4. How to kill a snake in my laundry room — I spent a couple of days cutting some brush around my house, and apparently I disturbed some natural habitats, because one day I noticed a little snake hanging out in our laundry room. Just lying there, on the cool linoleum.

Now, I’m not the kind of guy who can immediately come up with a lot of proven strategies for dealing with snakes in the laundry room. Maybe there are some really comprehensive multi-tools that have an implement just for that. But I don’t have one of those. What I had was about ten minutes of Mexican stand-off — me staring at the snake; the snake staring right back at me — while I tried to come up with a plan and prayed in the name of all that’s good and pure on God’s green earth that he didn’t slither off where I couldn’t find him and pop up later in my son’s underwear drawer or my daughter’s Alpha-Bits.

Are you dying to know what I did so that you, too, can have a plan for dealing with snakes in the laundry room? Well, here you go:

  • Step 1: Pin snake to floor using one of those suction cups on a long pole that you use to change light bulbs that are way up high.
  • Step 2: Try to kill snake by stepping on its head. Notice how the snake keeps shrugging this off. Be amazed at how resilient snakes are.
  • Step 3: Spend really long time putting all your weight on the pole while looking for something you can use to separate the snake’s head from its body without cutting up the linoleum.
  • Step 4: Find your wife’s craft scissors and craft that little bastard a new neck hole.
  • Step 5: Clean up crime scene. Do laundry for the rest of the week.

5. Steph Curry is from outer space — You can’t compare Steph Curry’s playing style to Michael Jordan. But Curry is starting to justify a comparison in the sense that he is also a seemingly unstoppable basketball force of nature. He could shoot from any place on the floor at any time and it would always seem like a good idea.

I haven’t watched a lot of NBA since the Pat Riley Knicks ruined basketball in the ’90s, but I watched game seven of the Warriors/Thunder series, and I’m glad I did. I’m getting a chance to see one of the all-time greats.

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Everything I Know About Culture I Learned from Bugs Bunny

And it shows, am I right? But seriously, I’m glad the Wall Street Journal is finally acknowledging what cartoon aficionados have always known: while you’re watching those old Warner Brothers cartoons, you get a ton of exposure to some pretty highbrow stuff.

In the video below, real live opera singers tell about how they were inspired by Bugs and Elmer Fudd (“Yo-ho toh-HO!”)

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Lessons from My Wife about How to Be a Good Wife

I was only prepared to choose a college after I had already been to college. When I was in high school and deciding what college I wanted to attend, I thought I knew what I wanted — racquetball courts, high girl/guy ratio, frozen yogurt dispensers in the cafeteria, things like that.

It was only after I had been through the college experience that I figured out what was really important. And it wasn’t any of that stuff. It was more like: professors who actually teach and interact with their students instead of sending some poor English-as-a-second-language GA to do everything. Also parking.

In the same way, I thought I knew the qualities to look for in a prospective wife. And I have to say, I did better on that than on the college thing. But there were still a lot of things that I didn’t realize I should’ve been looking for until after the fact.

Luckily, my wife Rachel happens to have all of those qualities; both the ones I wanted and the ones I didn’t know I needed.

So as a service to all the wives and future wives out there, I want to let you in on some of the qualities that a man will figure out that he wants in a wife about four or five years after he marries her. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I am married to one.

— When your husband tries to high-five you, don’t leave him hanging. Guys aren’t going to stop being guys just because they get married. They’re going to continue to do things that guys instinctively do: yell at sports figures on TV for things they did 17 years ago, sometimes eat things before checking to see if they’re food, and high five people frequently for various reasons. It’s important to give your guy room to continue to be a guy.

No matter how long you are married, a lot of this stuff may never make sense to you. Nonetheless, whenever he does something you would never do, take a moment to ask yourself, “Is it dumb, or is it just because he’s a guy?” If it’s the former, join him in celebrating his guyness.

When you forgive, really forgive. You don’t have to make a big production about it, but you do have to mean it. On occasions when I apologize to my wife (and is anybody surprised to know that those occasions are more than occasional?), she usually just says, “That’s okay,” but she says it in such a way — so sweetly, without a hint of clench or reservation in her voice — that I know it really is okay. And then that occasion is forgotten and never mentioned again.

And I can’t overstate how important that last part is — the forgetting. If you’re using forgiveness as a tool for gaining future leverage over your significant other, your marriage will be a brutal, 40-year-long game of Monopoly, where nobody can win because one person owns Boardwalk and the other owns Park Place and you’re out of snacks and surrounded by screaming children and dirty laundry.

Trust him with the kids. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the “let him be a guy” point above. Your husband will probably have some different parenting techniques than you, simply because he’s male and you’re female. Don’t fear these differences; appreciate how his style and your style complement each other.

Every once in a while, tell your him you’re prepared to kill him. There are times — not often, but often enough to make an impression — when my wife and I are sitting together and watching TV or reading or something like that, and she will turn to me and say, out of the clear blue sky, “You know, if you ever try to leave me, I’ll kill you.” And then she’ll go back to doing whatever she was doing.

Chilling, yes. But also flattering. If my soft-spoken wife is that passionate about me, that makes me feel special. And frightened. But mostly special. Why is it that you very rarely hear a guy complain about being stalked by a girl? Because we kind of want girls to feel that way about us. A touch of wild-eyed possessiveness is appealing, in a dangerous sort of way.

So if there’s nowhere your husband could run where you wouldn’t hunt him down like a dog, go ahead and let him know. He’ll appreciate it, even though his appreciation may look a little like terror.

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Pray For Mojo

The Frinkiac is a search engine for quotes from The Simpsons, so it’s pretty much the pinnacle of human achievement already. But now it can make animated gifs from Simpsons scenes too. Yeah, I won’t be wasting time with that or anything.

I’m only mentioning this because it’s so awesome, and I wanted to explain why I’ll be posting a ton of Simpsons gifs in the future. Considering the state of affairs nowadays, I’ll probably be using this one a lot.

PrayForMojo

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Trump VP Suggestions

As I mentioned before, since I don’t have anyone to vote for, I’m only following the 2016 presidential election for it’s entertainment value.

With that in mind, I’d like to see Trump pick the most entertaining vice presidential running mate possible. Here are my suggestions, along with their equivalent entertainment value.

bernie-sanders-hair1. Bernie Sanders

Would this not be hilarious? The sound of heads exploding would be deafening. From the time the announcement was made until they had to vote in November, supporters of both candidates would have the same look on their faces that Stephen Rea had during the second half of The Crying Game.

Sanders might accept if Trump asked him, too (C’mon! At this point, can you really say anything is impossible?). He and Trump, as nationalists and populists, have more in common than not, and after Hillary strong-arms him out of the nomination, he might be itching to stick it to her.

Entertainment value: Someone turns on the sprinklers while your football rival’s marching band is on the field.

bill-clinton-frown-AP-640x4802. Bill Clinton

Also hilarious. And don’t tell me Donald and Bill wouldn’t have a great time together. You know he’d rather campaign with Trump (and Melania, and Ivanka) than be dragged all over the country by the ball and chain.

I’m sure Bill is contractually obligated to make some campaign appearances for Hillary, but there’s no reason he couldn’t do both. “You can vote for history this November and elect our first woman president! But… if you’re not interested in that, Trump’s really good too! It’s win/win! Bubba out! Peace, y’all!”

Entertainment value: An America’s Funniest Videos montage of guys getting hit in the nuts with whiffle ball bats.

Christies-Pants3. Chris Christie’s pants

Not Chris Christie; just his pants. And Trump should force Christie to stand there on stage with him and hold up the pants while Trump makes jokes about them.

“Look at those things! How much fabric is in those? Make a few more of those and we could bring a lot more textile jobs back to our country, I’ll tell ya that much!”

Would the pants actually make a good vice president, you ask? What, compared to Biden?

Entertainment value: That scene from Goodfellas where Joe Pesci keeps asking Ray Liotta, “So, how am I funny?”

no-twitter4. Twitter

As the number one source of intellectual arguments for the Trump presidency, I think Twitter should at least get consideration as running mate.

Think of all the inspirational messages we’ll hear on the campaign trail. “Hey loosers! TRUMP is teh b0$$!! GEt on teh TRUMP TRAIN or geton the jew boat back to jew land! #Unity”

Entertainment value: Being 6 years old and singing “On Top of Spaghetti” all the way through on a long car trip.

2015Pats5. The 2015 New England Patriots

Trump wants to surround himself with winners. And obnoxious people. So hey, 2-for-1. And just think of the potential for all the “deflated balls” jokes vis a vis Hillary.

Entertainment value: New baseball cap with pre-cupped bill

PIRaudience16. The back row of the audience from an episode of “The Price is Right”

Wooo!! Trump! Woooo! Wooooooo!!! Trump!! One dollar!! One dollar!!!

Entertainment value: Videos of building implosions

plastic-surgeon-questions-chicago7. Melania Trump’s plastic surgeon

“You know he’s good because he does good work. Am I right, people?” Entertaining because Trump would then be able to turn literally any question into a discussion about his trophy wife.

By the way, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think Melania is all that good looking. She’s like what Bruce Jenner would look like if he knew how to do makeup.

 Entertainment value: Bruce Jenner’s appearance on “The Love Boat

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Welp, We’re Truly Screwed Now: A Very Early Pre-Post-Mortem

Classiest First Family Ever!

After Donald Trump’s big win in Indiana the head of the Republican party says that he is now the party’s presumptive nominee for president, and I have never felt more like I am taking crazy pills.

So, it’s time to start accepting some unpleasant facts. The most likely outcome of all this is that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. The next most likely outcome is that Donald Trump will be the next president. We have to get way down the line of improbability before we can see a possible future that doesn’t make me want to slam my head in a car door.

Whoever wins the presidency, this election will probably be devastating for Republicans in the House and Senate. Let’s face it: Hillary and Trump will have pretty much the same policies, so with no substantial resistance in Congress, the Obamafication of the country will be cemented in place much more firmly than Reagan’s revolution ever was. Speaking as a pro-free-market, small-government, individual-liberty-loving, conservative Christian, the future of the country now looks to me like a loooong dark tunnel with very little visible light on the other end.

It’s not the country I thought it was. At least, not anymore. Here are some of the things I’ve learned from this, our national re-enactment of the pie fight scene from Blazing Saddles:

— Some people love power way more than freedom: And I don’t just mean the Frank Underwood wannabes who run for office. When given the choice between a principled candidate in favor of the rule of law and a thug who promises to give them everything they want and make their enemies suck hind teat, a whole bunch of voters will pick the thug.

— … Or principles: A lot of media and political professionals who built their careers espousing the joys of small-government conservative principles have happily pitched all of that over the side so they can suck up to the Upper West Side’s Huey Long.

— You can’t exaggerate how much the American people hate their government: The biggest thing Trump has going for him is that he’s never held elective office. He stinks, but at least it’s not like normal politician stink. He is the personification of the attitude, “Let’s just burn it all to the ground.”

— … And you can’t blame them: I’m disappointed in the number of people who claim to be evangelical Christians who are voting for Trump in the primaries. But at the same time, they’ve seen politicians who claimed to share their values forget about them as soon as they step on the plane to Washington. The political class, left and right, simply does not care about their voters.

So here we are. I’m not voting for either of the major party candidates for president this time around, and that’s actually kind of liberating. I’m going to sit back and watch this election purely from an entertainment standpoint, like a NASCAR fan who enjoys a good wreck, right up until the moment that a stray tire hops the retainer fence and clocks him in the head.

Again, the most likely outcome is that Hillary wins, but there has been too much craziness over the last year to assume that anything is a sure thing. It could turn out better; it could turn out much, much worse.

For example, for all the talk about Trump getting blown out in a match-up with Hillary, if protesters keep showing up at Trump rallies turning over police cars and waving Mexican flags, he’ll win in a landslide. He couldn’t get better campaign publicity if he paid for it himself. (Hmmm…)

And if the black swan comes home to roost and Trump does get elected, my hope is that his administration will be such chaos, such a complete goat rodeo, that it locks the government up for four years and prevents anybody from doing too much damage.

That, my friends, is what we call low expectations. But it’s all I’ve got, so I’m rolling with it.

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Things I Would Be Tweeting if I Were Tweeting

no-twitterAs previously noted, I’m cutting down my exposure to current events, because lately they just make me angry and sad.

Part of that “cutting down” involves spending less time on Twitter, because if Twitter were an engine, its fuel would be anger and sadness. Check that — its fuel would be anger and more anger, and that would make me sad.

Twitter is a tough habit to break, but so far, it’s going pretty well. With the time I’ve saved, I’ve been able to read a lot more books. Here’s what I’ve read just so far this year, with brief reviews:

  • No Country for Old Men –  As good as the movie, which was pretty good. And Cormac McCarthy proves that real writers don’t mess around with all that spelling and punctuation crap.
  • Moneyball – As good as the movie, but good in a different way. Compelling for people who like inside baseball info about, y’know, baseball.
  • The Question of God – Author uses writings of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud to stage a debate between the two about God. Lewis comes out looking good; Freud comes out looking, as he always does to me, like a bitter crank.
  • Desiring God – What Freud wasn’t doing in the previous book. Much more thoughtful and deliberate in its arguments than I expected. I liked it a lot.
  • Mostly Harmless – An installment in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of funny, sci-fi novels. It’s both funny and sci-fi, but it probably falls into the “contractual obligation” portion of the series. Meanders around for 250 pages and then stops. Good for a larf.

So I’ve steered my reading habits away from Twitter, but it’s been harder to change my thinking habits. My brain is still wired to come up with pithy 140-character comments that I want to throw out into the internet churn to see what kind of response I get.

#ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion – I often like the Kidz Bop version of a song better than the actual song.

But I know that if I get on Twitter to post them, I’ll start reading and I won’t be able to stop. To save myself from that, I’m just going to try to clear the mechanism by posting tweets on my own little corner of the internet right here.

You know soccer is boring b/c soccer highlights are always penalty kicks. If the most exciting part of a basketball game is a 3rd qtr free throw, that’s a bad basketball game.

This does nothing to grow my twitter followers, but there are more important numbers to worry about, such as “number of Oreos currently in my mouth.”

“Roadhouse” is the best bad movie of all time. #BeNice #UntilItsTimeToNotBeNice

I’ll probably end up back on Twitter from time to time. I need to treat it like candy: good sometimes in small doses; overuse will make you sick.

#ConfessYourUnpopularOpinion – Officiating w/ instant replay is terrible in all sports at all times. The few meaningful reversals aren’t worth the wasted time and Zapruder-level analysis of every call.

Wife told me the plot of #MoneyMonster. I said “So it’s a comedy?” She said “No.” But I think it’ll turn out that I was right.

For now, I’m going to get back to reading things that don’t make me want to punch the internet in the face.

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Lessons I Learned from Nana

My grandmother, my last remaining grandparent, passed away last week at the age of 92. We called her “Nana.” She wasn’t the kind of person who sat around dispensing nuggets of wisdom, but I learned a lot about life just from her example. Hey, if you can’t learn something from someone who’s cleared 92 years, you’re just not paying attention.

Here are just a few of her best life lessons:

sweet+potato+dinner+rolls+22You need another dinner roll: Do you already have a dinner roll? Well, you’ll probably eat it soon, so here’s another one. Just pulled it out of the oven. You’ve already had four? You must really like them. Here’s another one. It’s warm.

Not only would Nana not eat until everyone had food, she literally would not stop serving until everyone was so full they physically couldn’t stop her from giving them more. If you put up a fight, she’d just cram another roll in your mouth. Only when your speech started slurring from mashed potato overdose would she sit down and eat.

Don’t touch anything in the living room: Nana was a person well aware of how much work it took to have nice things. In her house was the den, where family fun and TV watching took place, and the living room, where you had to sit in such a way that the nap of the sofa cushions stayed brushed uniformly in the same direction. If something is worth working for, it’s worth taking care of, and covering with a plastic slip cover, and putting in a room where no one ever goes.

The Braves are probably going to be terrible: My grandparents were longtime Atlanta Braves fans. So long that the period of success the Braves had in the 90’s and early 00’s was a relatively thin slice of their lifetime experience with Braves suckitude. Even in the middle of that period, Nana never took winning for granted. She started every conversation about baseball with, “Are the Braves ever going to win another game?” No, ma’am. Probably not.

Get your hair done every Thursday whether you need it or not: There’s something to be said for taking time for yourself, and being consistent about it. I never saw Nana when her hair wasn’t coiffed and hair-sprayed thoroughly enough to deflect a bullet. However, she still made a point of getting to the hair salon every Thursday. I can’t say for sure, but I might guess that once her ‘do passed a certain point on the Mohs scale, her visits had less to do with hair and more to do with just having a little “me time.” And that ain’t a bad thing.

The kids will be fine: Until my grandfather died a few years ago, my grandparents lived in a house they built themselves with a big porch off the back. On one end of the porch, there was a fifteen foot drop to the ground. There was never a guard rail and never even a discussion about installing one. My sister, my cousins, and I played on that porch, unsupervised, constantly. No one was ever injured. Amazingly, we were all smart enough to stay away from that edge and only jump off where it was close enough to the ground to be safe.

So there you go — just a few life lessons from my Nana. Feel free to take and apply to your own life as needed.

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7th Anniversary

Today is my seventh wedding anniversary, and the only surprising thing to me is that my wife hasn’t yet figured out that she could do better. Shhh! Nobody tell her!

Your grandparents weren’t lying, kids: it really does get better every year.

Happy anniversary, Rachel. Here’s the preview video that we played at our wedding.