Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve Ramblings...

In past years, I've brought in the New Years a bit more raucously than this evening...but kids will tend to curtail the ole' social nightlife a bit. The highlight of my evening was getting three more stars with Josh on Super Mario...pretty pathetic, huh? Actually, this silly game has become somewhat of a Odysseyan quest for me. I began playing it with Marie years ago...stopped at 5o stars or so, and then recently picked it up again with the advent of Josh's enthusiasm for the game. For anyone who cares, it takes 100 stars to free the Princess from the castle (Josh and I are up to 61 now)...I'm gonna do this before I'm 40! (which sadly is less than 3 months away)

We capped the evening off by watching the new Superman movie, which I inadvertently purchased from my DVD club. (forgot to respond to the monthly Director's selection...UGH!) Josh conked out about 9:30, but the littlest one should be awake here within the hour.

This afternoon I was privileged to help play for a "celebratory" service for one of our choir buddies who lost his life to cancer. It truly was a celebration of this man's life. One of the songs that we sang was We Will Dance- a tribute to the many lives that this man had obviously touched during his short stay on earth. Please pray for his wife and kids who invariably will have some difficult times ahead.

15 minutes till the ball far, I'm not overly impressed with the line-up on Dick Clark's show...I must be getting old because Christina Aguilera sounds just like a bunch of noise with more emphasis on her choreography than any real display of musical talents- like I'm sure she really cares about my critique of her performance...But God love Dick Clark- who obviously is still recovering from his bout of illnesses.

Well, Happy New Years everyone and God Bless!

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Night with Lebron...

Well, not really...but our seats were fantastic! Marie and I headed up to Cleveland around 3:00 this afternoon. After roaming around Tower City for around an hour, we headed over to the Hard Rock and had dinner. Then, it was just a short walk over to the Q- home of the Chosen One. After leading most of the game by 20, the Cavs managed to squander most of their lead, and the Bucks pulled within 3 points with about 5 minutes to play. However, "you-know-who" took over, and pretty much put the game away with some clutch shots. D. Marshall was also on fire tonight with his 3's.

I'm not sure if Marie is ready to become glued to the TV each time the Cavs are on now, but I really think she enjoyed herself being at the game. Like any sporting event, there is always so much that goes on that is not televised- like the scoreboard antics/ tricks, the team mascot Moondog, and of course- the Cavs dance team. Marie "dragged" me over to their signing table prior to the game to get their autographs...the things a dad must do for their kids!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Whudda ya mean

there's no more presents!

A Marietta Christmas

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Morning....

Sarah caught on real quick
on the fine art of opening packages...

Twas the Night
Before Christmas

I'm really not sure what is harder... waiting till Christmas morning when I was 10, or now- as a parent- and waiting for my kids to wake up sometime later this morning. Cindy and I just finished playing Santa, and if it was up to me, I'd go wake the kids right now!

Marie and Josh baked and decorated cookies for the big guy tonight, and then proceeded in setting the table for both the jolly elf and his reindeer. I'll never forget the year when it was just Marie and I, and I had no milk in the fridge...TRAGEDY...I told Marie that Santa would probably just be as happy with a Sam Adams...she bought it- she was only three at the time! (Yeah, I Father of the Year on that one!)

I took Marie and Josh to go see the Polar Express film at the Cleveland I-Max theatre- awesome! I'm a huge fan of the film to begin with, but seeing it again in this theatre really renewed my love of the storyline about a little boy who is on the cusp of losing his childhood innocence and turning his back on Santa...until he's given the magical sleighbell on his incredible trek to the North Pole. Watching Josh's reaction during the film made it even that much more magical.

As anxious as I am in watching the kids open their presents in the morning, I am also looking forward to our services at church. One gift that I bought Marie for Christmas is the book based on the film, The Nativity. I so want my kids to be able to keep everything in perspective when it comes to Christmas and never lose sight of the whole reason for us celebrating this day...truthfully, it's the kids who usually are level-headed about everything, and it's us adults who go stir-crazy in trying to get everything "just-right" for the holidays...Josh tells me all the time to just RELAX...and Don't Worry About It....the lil' guy is probably right.'s only 12:30...too early to wake everyone up...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Visit with Santa

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Escape from Baby Alcatraz

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, nobody knows my sorrow....

Yo Santa, this was NOT on my list...Dad says it's to keep me safe when he can't always hold me, but I know my rights. Maybe I'll get out on work release after Dad is finished cooking dinner. Hey, what about my Miranda Rights? I at least get a phone call, right? UGH...can't reach the phone anymore!

Nobody know the trouble I've seen, nobody knows my sorrow...

Melancholy in Barberton
-Sarah Kay

Some of my favorite Christmas tunes/ recording artists...

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town- B2K
You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch- Boris Karloff
Mr. Heat Miser- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
12 Days of Christmas- Relient k
Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer- Elmo and Patsy
Hands (Christmas version)- Jewel
Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Leon Redbone and Zooey Deschanel
Feliz Navidad- Jose Feliciano
Santa Baby- Eartha Kitt
The Gift- Jim Brickman
Believe- Josh Groban
Please Come Home for Christmas- Jon Bon Jovi

Some of these songs are a bit unconventional- like Relient k's version of 12 Days of Christmas and Voodoo Daddy's holiday classic, Mr. Heat Miser- remember the show, The Year Without a Santa Clause? Anyway, here's my Christmas present to anyone who has dropped in to this blog from time to time. If you'd like a CD of these tunes, just click the comment button and leave your name and address (for my out of town family/ friends) and I'll burn/ send you a copy. Sorry, Christmas delivery can't be guaranteed!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baking Cookies for Santa....

Josh was so excited to give this early Christmas present to Cindy and I tonight. Kinda reminds you a bit of Emeril Lagasse, huh?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Trip to Lima
I so wish that we lived closer to Mike and his family...we often joke about it, but watching my Josh play with Mike's boys brings back many, many fond memories of when I was a kid and we took the turnpike trip up to Michigan a couple times a year to visit. (and those were in the days before I-Pods, Game-Boys, and portable DVD players!- that four hour trek seemed to take days to get there!) When the three of us (Mike, Ken, and I) got together, there was no telling what was in store...usually some kind of small injury, prank, rough-housing and the inevitable "stern-talking" from either my dad or Mike's seemed to be the norm for each visit...but we had a ton of fun. I'm still not sure if Mike's mom has ever truly forgiven me for putting her beloved son's head through the wall while playing tackle football in the bedroom...or the time that Mike "accidentally slipped" off of our cement porch while we were playing king of the mountain...or the times when Ken and I would sponsor an "iron-cage" style wrestling match with poor little Mike as the recipient of most of the's all good now, though...right Mike?
How awesome would it be if my kids and Mike's kids stay close over the years and then their children can enjoy the same visits that we do today...which would make them 3rd cousins? I never could understand that whole family tree thing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Look Who's Crawling!

I knew the day was coming soon...but I had kind of hoped that we could make it through the holidays and not have to worry about Ms. Sarah Kay roaming around the house and us having to "baby-proof" everything....but, my youngest daughter mastered the art of crawling just the other night. And of course, her favorite item in the house is none other than the Christmas tree.

I personally find it astonishing to observe how quickly a little one can learn how to do things. I think it took me over a year to truly play a guitar rhythmically, about 1-2 years to play a recognizable tune on the piano, and what seemed like a decade to learn long division in grade school. Conversely, Sarah taught herself how to transport her 18 pound frame from one end of our living room to the other in two days...Impressive!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

University of Michigan
Team Photo

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Nativity Story

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger." -Luke 2:10-12

With the release of the movie, The Nativity Story, Christianity is taking yet another "hit" from academia (see this month's issue of History Today- the article entitled The First Christmas) suggesting that...
  • Jesus want not born of a virgin
  • Jesus was not born of David's lineage
  • Jesus was not born in Bethlehem
  • there was no stable
  • no shepherds
  • no star
  • no Magi
  • no massacre of infants
  • no flight into Egypt
  • Etc... etc... etc...

C'mon, I grew up watching Linus recite Luke's nativity story each year at Christmas time! (Actually, it's on next week- and will watch once again with my kids!)

Now certainly I am no scholar on Biblical and archeological studies, and my humble opinion would serve as little credence to this on-going debate. But you know what...I don't care. Mathew and Luke's nativity stories have beautifully engendered the pivotal event in history, and have vividly brought to life the most amazing story of any child ever born. These narrative elements, which have been scrutinized Ad nauseam, are not the sole links that hold this story to be credible; but rather, I believe, they help us to simply try to visualize the setting of the awe-inspiring task that both Mary and Joseph were given when they were called out by God to parent His son on earth.

You know, I'm almost 40, and I'm going to continue to lay our manger each year by the tree, and retell the story to my kids of the Magi, the drummer boy, and the shepherds who came to the Bethlehem manger that night long ago...and cherish every minute of it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

I have so many fond childhood Christmas memories. I think the one single toy that will stay in my memory forever is the year that I got a Lionel train. What an awesome gift. In fact, today, while waiting for my guitar to get repaired, I strolled down Kenmore Blvd. only to find a train shop...all the cars, tracks, and buildings that accessorize the same train that lay packed away in my basement. When I got home, I told Josh that he and I would visit that store sometime this month to buy a new transformer for the train that Santa had brought to me on Christmas morning years ago... Josh perked up, "Santa brought you toys!"...somewhat surprised that I too was his age many, many years ago.

Last week, our pastor made the comment that Thanksgiving is a day where we give thanks for the things that we have in life, but then the very next day...Black Friday...we realize that we don't have enough stuff and we all hit the malls, looking for that killer bargain! I much prefer shopping on the 24th of December!

As a child, I can remember spending many nights pondering what I wanted Santa to bring me for Christmas....the train, a B-B gun (oh, no...I didn't shoot my eye out!), G.I. Joe stuff, an erector set, legos, walkie-talkies...I never could sleep the night before Christmas. I truly remember trying to stay awake all night long just to see if I could hear Santa's footsteps in our living room.

As my sisters and I grew older, my family adopted the tradition of celebrating Christmas immediately after Christmas Eve mass. I have such great memories of playing/ singing at St. Vincent for the Christmas services. For a number of years, we always passed out taper candles to each person in the congregation, and then would turn all the lights out in the church and sing Silent Night a was beautiful. Years ago, we had a lone snare drummer who accompanied the whole choir on Little Drummer Boy...pretty cool.

I am so looking forward to the Christmas concerts at the Chapel this year. It's hard to believe that I've been with this group for over a year now, and still am so incredibly humbled and grateful to be able to worship and play with these guys each Sunday. Words simply cannot describe what it's like to be able to play in these concerts with about 75 orchestra/ rhythm band members and probably over 100 choir members...simply, awewome!

So I guess that all I want for another set of memories that I can keep with me...and with the kids this year...I'm pretty sure that I'm gonna get my wish.