Friday, December 31, 2010

Brace for the Cliche: Resolutions!

Well, happy New Year to you all.  I know it's the eve, but I don't like separating the two days.

I'm making some resolutions that I think are both attainable and realistic for my future, and because I'm a lazy blogger, I will lay them out now, and hope I get asked about them later to keep my honest.

1.  I'm going to work out.  I'm not saying I'm going to lose a particular amount of poundage, or even get rid of my belly.  I'm just going to work out.  My parents have weights and a tred mill, my classes don't start until eleven in the morning, my mom works out every morning and said I could come work out with her.  I'm going to do it.  Ask me about it occasionally please.

2.  I am going to find an agent.  If any of you know a legit one, let me know.  I've got a children's book written and I'm working on a late teen novel.

3.  I'm going to write this summer.  I already planned on this, and was good about it this last summer,  but I thought I'd throw in a gimme goal.

This is it.  We're partying with my parents tonight.  Steak, fondue, Rock Band, and Madden 11.  Does life get better, I submit that it does not.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Little Beef with Soda and Candy Companies

I've got beef with soda and candy companies.  Now, I don't mind that they pump their products full of sugar and harmful chemicals.  I can make decisions for myself and take full responsibility for the size of my ass.  It's no secret that candy and soda makes your ass grow and I think it's embarrassing how people try to pawn the responsibility of their actions on to faceless companies because it's easier than taking that responsibility onto themselves.

But I digress, I'm not talking about harmful products or the moron's that blame their bad actions on the companies that make those products.  I'm not talking about those things at all.  What I am talking about is flavor naming.  I'm down with "cola" because "cola" is a made up name for a flavor.  I'm also pretty down with "lemon-lime," because it tastes mildly like those fruits.  In reality, I have beef with two flavor names.

Exhibit One:  Fruit Punch.  Have you ever collected any number of fruits, put them in a blender, and come out with a cocktail that tasted like a heavy syruped soda that had lost its carbonation?  Yeah, neither have I.  Fruit punch is a sorry excuse for companies to leave out the carbonation from a drink.  And this isn't the worst of it.  "Fruit Punch" makes no promise of flavor.  No "Fruit Punch" tastes the same, from Hawaiian to Hi-C.  It's mystery flavor, that's what it is.  If it's Mystery Flavor, why don't they just call it that.  Airheads made a mystery flavor and their still doing just fine.

Exhibit Two:  "Grape:" whatever the hell that is.  I have never tasted a grape that tastes anything like these candies, or these medicines for that matter.  They are superior to the Fruit Punch though, at least they all taste the same.  When you get a Grape flavored soda or candy, you can be sure of what it will taste like, but with that certainty comes the knowledge that what you've purchased will taste nothing like any grape you've tasted.  Why can't they be honest and call it Purple Flavor.  We all know that the purple colored candies and sodas taste the same, they taste like purple.

There is a small caveat that I need to make here:  Hi-Chew Fruit Chews that are Grape, really do taste like grapes.  The only candy company that is off the hook here.

Again, I don't mind that the companies make the flavors that they do, but let's start being honest with each other.  Heavy syrup with a lack of carbonation is not grounds for "Fruit Punch,"  and purple food coloring does not constitute "Grape."  I don't try to give them Monopoly Money and call it American Currency do I?  I'd appreciate the same courtesy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The First Time My Wife Threw Up

So, I wrote a couple of posts, back when my wife was pregnant and no one knew.  I saved them, so that I could post them once we told the world about our "little miracle." (I'm debating trying to sound as weird about this pregnancy as possible...)
Let me set the scene.  I was flossing my teeth, she was taking a bath.  She leaned forward to grab the shampoo and started gagging.  She had gagged before, so I wasn't too worried.  I asked if she was going to be okay, and if she needed to use the toilet.  She looked worried, so I lifted the seat and continued flossing.  She gagged a few more times and looked VERY panicked, so I walked to her and helped her span the bathtub, feet bracing against the back of it, and head heaving up the Sonic chili cheese tots we ate for dinner.  I held her hair and thanked God that watching people throw up doesn't make me throw up.  What a nice moment.  This was on the very first day of the eighth week.

To be honest, she hasn't felt very good since.  I often think she's mad at me, or frustrated, or something, so I ask, but she just answer that she feels sick.  They say this should subside here in the second trimester, but things aren't looking much better.  I even got her preggi pops, which seem to help a little, but not enough to make her feel totally better.  Pray for me would ya?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Every Day, in Every Way, Scrooge is Getting Worse

I decided to take a few days off for Christmas, which made my countdown make no sense, but let's move past that.

Before I get right into the last item of my countdown, I have some great news that my wife and I decided to keep a secret until Christmas:  We're pregnant!  In June, I'm going to be a dad.  My wife doesn't want to know the gender until it is born, so I don't know if I'll be a dad to a little baby boy, or a dad to an adorable baby girl, but I'll be a dad.  I told my primary class of eleven year old boys, and asked if they thought I seemed like a dad, and in unison they all said "no."  I really can't blame them, I don't see myself as a dad either, but I sure will be.  Anyway, we're really stoked.

Which leads into the last thing on my countdown, I love the baby Jesus.  I love that he was born in a manger, and that he had loving earthly parents, and that he is our redeemer, and savior, and advocate, and friend.  I love celebrating that he came here to save me.  I love being reminded that if I were the only person to ever repent and be saved by the Atonement, he'd still have come to this earth, bled on Calvary, and died on Golgotha.  I love remembering that he loves me that much.

This might actually be the root of why I get so sick of Christmas.  If you'll remember all the things I counted on my countdown, very few of them have Jesus roots.  I don't care how many times I hear fake stories about how "The Evergreen Tree stands for everlasting life..."  I still know those stories aren't true.  Evergreen trees in our homes have nothing to do with ever lasting life.  Santa's generosity may remind us of Jesus, but that's not why he is so generous.  We've taken Christ out of Christmas, and that drives me nuts.  Anyway, I did try to love Christmas more this year, and it semi-worked.  I'm still a bit of a Grinch, but I'll try to be better next year.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Monopoly, There's Really Only One Day When There's Enough Time for It

The date says December twenty-fourth, it's Christmas Eve for certain (Muppets reference anyone).  So we only have to put up with my Christmas loving self for two more days and then I can go back to my old scroogey self.  But since that hasn't happened yet, let's go on to round seven.

I like that Christmas is a day of chilling out, just when you get some new stuff and your family is forced to play it with you.  Every year we get board games, and movies, and video games, and what's the first thing you want to do with these things:  Play with them with other people, and what is Christmas great for:  A house full of people to play them with.  My wife and I decided to give ourselves Rock Band this year, and we are so excited to have the other two instruments taken up by people in our family, and I'm sure Rock Band won't be the only gift shared.  We'll watch new movies and play new games and generally have a great time with each other.

Christmas morning is a great time to solidify bonds you have with other people.  It's a great morning for uninterrupted fun.  It's a great time for family and friends to come closer together without all of the frustrating interruptions and cares that so often get in the way.

So, only one more sleep til Christmas, I hope you've all been naughty so Santa doesn't have to drive so much in the snow. :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day Six: What to Watch

While I may not like a lot of what is produced for the festive winter holiday, I must give a shout out to some well made films.  This, is day six.

Fist and foremost, is A Christmas Story.  This great movie includes such great lines as, "You'll shoot your eye out!"  and "There it was, electric sex in my front window."  I would say that A Christmas Story is probably the most honest of all Christmas movies.  It shows how awkward gifts from Aunt Edna are, and how scary it is for kids to go and talk to the man in the red suit.  It's a genuine classic that hits home every time.

The second movie of note is A Muppet Christmas Carol.  It has all of our favorite Muppet characters such as Gonzo as Charles Dickens, Kermit as Bob Cratchet, Miss Piggy as Emily Cratchet, and Rizzo the Rat as himself.  It has a beautiful mixture of Muppet humor and the true meaning of Dickens's classic.  I'm not gonna lie, I usually cry a little when the movie talks about Tiny Tim.

Moving on!  The last and final one is, of course, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  This Burton classic has the music of Danny Elfman, and a story that mixes Burton's genius and the human condition.  We, like Jack, often get bored with what we're doing and think we'll try to take on someone else's "holiday" as it were.  And, we often fall on our faces, but we can say that we did our best, and it often helps us to get back to what we were doing.  My wife argues that this is only a Halloween movie, but I think it doubles.  It helps us see Christmas through new eyes, and helps us know that some of it doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's the feeling of it that we wish we could share with everyone.

I may not like a lot of Christmas things, but these three are absolute classics that are delightful and fit my picky tastes.  If you haven't seen them, I recommend you give them a shot this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bells Are Ringing Outside of Wal-Mart

The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Deseret Industries, Secret Santa, Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, and so many more.  All of them organizations that help people who are down on their luck and all of them organizations that either only work around Christmas, or do their best around Christmas.

It reminds me of Scrooge when he asks, "Are there no Prisons?  No work houses?"  Many of us look upon the needy the rest of the year and this is our response, but not around Christmas.  Something about the season makes us remember that we're all children of God, and that sometimes bad luck happens several years in a row, and we all need help from time to time.  I just love watching people go through stores with hand written notes, frantically trying to find a toy they've never heard of so that they can help a family who can't afford it this year.  I can't help but smile.  I can't help but think that Jesus wants things this way.

I know it causes a lot more stress for a lot of people.  Both on the giving and receiving end of the charity, but I think it's worth it.  Even in parents have made horrible choices, we all think that their children should have Christmas because they didn't make the choices.  Anyway, Christmas Charity is my number five.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Round Four, Frosty's Revenge

Some of you may remember my Natural Disaster post, where the weathermen said that the biggest storm we had ever seen was brewing up in the northwest and it was headed our way.  I joked about how we felt Doom loom over us, the hairs on the back of our necks moistened by his acidy spit (Dane Cook reference anyone?), but Doom never came and Utah Valley got through the storm unscathed.  Well dear friends, I'm not talking about that.  I'm not talking about that at all (Brian Regen for those who don't know Dane).  Doom's evil cousin Horror came calling last night, and my wife and I had plans to drive to Richfield.  Utah Valley must have got six inches last night.  I know this isn't much to some of you, but just because you've received more snow in June, doesn't mean that it's not a lot to us.  For those who know me more intimately, you know that I hate driving in bad weather, because I hate the snow.  I hate that it makes everything slick, and causes car accidents, and that I had to shovel it off the walkway to get to my car.  I also hate how it built up on my car, and how I had to push the back wheeled beamer our of our uphill parking lot so a guy could get to work.  I hate all of that about snow, but I'm not talking about my hate am I?  This is "Things I Love About Christmas:  Round Four,"  and I'm not talking about hate at all.

What I am talking about is how much I love to watch snow fall from inside.  As long as I've found my resting house with a comfy couch, have a hot beverage in hand, hold my wife next to me, and have no plans of prying myself from said couch, I LOVE the snow.  I like how it falls gently to the ground, how even the slightest breeze can send it spinning.  I love how it sticks to trees, how it builds on each individual branch.  I like how bright, and clear, and beautiful it makes everything.  I also like snowball fights and intricate snowmen.  I like taking black paper outside to marvel at how each flake is different. I like catching snow on my tongue. Snow is a wonderful part of Christmas, so long as I don't have to drive in it, or shovel it.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Countdown: Round Three

The thing about Christmas that I'll blog about today is not something I came to really appreciate until I was a Junior in high school or so (I've come to realize that I have more than just Americans reading my blog, so this is when you're sixteen or seventeen years old).  Up until that point it was mostly presents (look a few posts back).  We got up, we opened the toys I'd play with that year, my parents usually didn't buy us stuff outside of our birthday and Christmas, so December was my big haul month, and then we'd play with those toys.  All other activities were merely formalities that got in the way of playing with toys.  Once I was a Junior though, and most of my presents consisted of movies and music, I began smelling something coming from the kitchen that I hadn't noticed before.

My friends, I love Christmas breakfast.  At my house, it usually consists of my favorite breakfasts, either biscuits and gravy, or bacon, hash browns, and toast (occasionally we have both choices because we're spoiled).  And my mom will buy orange juice with no pulp (I have issues with chewy orange juice).  I find that it is especially nice because we seldom have time to make either of these, so it's a real treat.  And, now that I'm older, I know the work that goes into it, and appreciate that my parents do that for us.

The bacon, hash browns, and toast thing just tastes really good to me, but the biscuits and gravy are special.  My Grandpa Paul (the one I'm named after), always made biscuits and gravy for the family.  He made the best biscuits.  It was only biscuik, but he had just the right mixture to make the biscuits tasty, and heavy, and perfect for sausage gravy.  Grandpa Paul was an amazing man.  He was one of the last true cowboys.  He owned cows that he drove across the Grand Canyon when he was young.  His family caught and raised deer.  He was tough, worked hard, gardened, and made great biscuits and gravy.

It's more than just great biscuits and gravy though.  Grandpa had a way about him.  He was my Great Grandpa actually.  His eyes were always bright.  They were a sky blue, and when they saw you, they lit up.  You knew he was happy to see you because his eyes told all.  My mom says that he was the most accepting person she ever knew.  He fell in love with my mom as soon as my dad brought her home, and that was true of every person that came into our family.  He loved all of us, saw the good in us, and showed that love in the best way he could.

For me, it goes even deeper than that though.  My Grandpa and I had a special relationship.  He taught me how to drive, and two years later he lost his wings, so I drove him around.  He listened to me, even though his hearing was failing and he probably didn't understand much of what I was saying.  We sat at the garden together.  He took me to breakfast when we drove Grandma in to town to get her hair done.  I ordered biscuits and gravy (because that's what you order when you're with him), and he paid with a twenty that he always had in his shirt pocket, because a twenty gives you a little freedom, and a shirt with two pockets on the chest gives you a place to put a notebook, a pen, and a twenty.  To be honest, I think everyone in the family would probably say they had a special relationship with Grandpa.  That's why, when we eat biscuits and gravy, we think of Grandpa, and can't help but smile.

Biscuits and sausage gravy on Christmas is special, because Christmas isn't the same without Grandpa, but biscuits and gravy make us feel a little like he's still here, or at least a piece of him, and that makes the change easier to deal with.  He's been gone for seven years, and we still miss him, so it's nice to have biscuits and gravy, and family, and early morning laughter, because those are things he loved and gave to us.  And every now and then, I can see him looking over us, smiling.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Second Thing On My Countdown to Christmas

It's day two of the countdown and my favorite thing today is Christmas Break.  All breaks are magical, but I think Christmas break is the least flawed.  Most breaks are too short to really unwind, either because they are only a few days, or because things are planned for those days, like fixing cars, or cleaning houses.  Christmas break may consist of a few household chores, but unless you are a slob, you can't spend the whole time cleaning.

Summer break, though awesome, is a little too long.  It's long enough to do something with it, like get a job, which makes it no longer a break.  Winter break is short enough, that there really isn't much a person can do with it, but relax.

These two things make Christmas break the best break of all.  We can visit family, sit back, relax, laugh, sing, smile, and take a nap, with no worry of deadlines.  I do understand that some people have to work, and that sucks.  And I'm sorry.  But as far as college breaks go, Christmas break is the best one.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Let's Start My First Blogging Countdown

So, I have decided to do a countdown.  I have scraped the inner lining of my skull to find eight more things I like about Christmas.  I think I've blogged about two or three already, so that will make a total of ten or eleven.  Anyone who knows me and how I feel about Christmas will be astonished that I've come up with that many.  From now until Christmas, I will post something I like about the holiday each day.  Today I will get one out of the way that is a little hard to talk about.  Many of us try to keep this secret love hidden away, believing that if we don't say it, it might not be true, or at least no one will know.  This spits in the face of things I have said before, so this is a knock to my pride... I like presents.

I like receiving them... I'm sorry if this lessens your opinion of me, but, to quote Gallagher, "I must be true to truth."  Every year, my mom (and now my wife's mom), thinks of stuff to give me and I get it.  It's really nice.  My wife and I also decide to give each other stuff (which as married people know, really ends up being stuff for both of us).  I may not be a fan of how materialistic it makes all of us.  I may think wrapping is kind of a waste of time.  I definitely don't think the tree is necessary.  But I cannot deny that the aftermath is always nice.

Anyway, I just thought I'd get that off my chest.  I promise the rest of my list until Christmas will put me in a better light... or at least not so horrible of one.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Helping Move

I am coming to tonight because I was helping my brother in law move this morning.  He has been living in central Utah while she has lived at my parent's for about four months now because of work, and he moved back up here today.  To say the least, it has been a tough four months for all of us (I don't know if I need to add in: especially for them).

His moving here has been a conversation piece for a couple of months.  "Won't it be great when he's here again?"  "I wish he were doing this with us."  "It's just not the same without ______."  We're all very excited to have his sense of humor, his laugh, and a great rock band guitarist, with us more often than the occasional weekend.

The move went fine.  My sister, mom, and brother in law went down last night and my dad and I met them this afternoon.  They had busted it, so it was almost all done except a few big heavy things that we had to throw in the truck.  We were going to try and spread it out over the weekend, but if you're watching the weather in Utah, you  know that a storm's a comin', and we didn't want the big moving van to have to drive in the snow.

Anyway, this is me saying, welcome back _-___, we missed you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Ode to My Dad

My last final is today.  I had to write a paper on the importance of fathers in the raising of children, and I have to meet with my teacher so she can read it, give me a grade, and give me my final grade.  It was a really fun paper to write.  I have a lot of great fatherly examples in my life to draw from, so I got to collect my thoughts on everything I have seen and what I want to do myself.

The paper asked that we go through our own father specifically and evaluate our upbringing, what we wanted to do the same, what we didn't, and the more I thought about it, there aren't a lot of things I'd change about my dad.  The first that comes to mind whenever I think about him is that he was at EVERYTHING I did.  Every game, recital, competition, and even a lot of practices (even when he wasn't the coach).  I had some boring funtivities, Junior High Choir recitals, T-Ball games, and ballroom anything.  He admits things got boring, but he was always there to cheer me on.  I could always count on seeing "The Nook of the North" standing at the top of the bleachers with his arms folded (even when something cool happened) at every single hockey game.  My dad was always right there.  Always.

Even if this was the only thing he did it would probably be enough.  But he did more.  He talked to me.  Sometimes we ended up arguing more than talking, but he talked to me anyway.  He talked to me about drugs, and girls, and sex, and growing up, and religion, and politics, and anything I'd talk to him about.  He was there when I got home from nights dragging state to ask how things went, if we met anyone, and if anything interesting happened.  He was seldom judgemental about how we spent our evening.  He laughed when I told him about how I had told off a thirty something year old for sleeping with someone and not wanting to see her again (this happened after the guy paid me forty bucks to leave a message on his answering machine, pretending I was the owner of the house and he was my paid hand.  I kid you not).

He did more though.  He pushed me to do better at everything.  He went to parent teacher conferences to hear that I was a good student, but that I talked too much (which he would chastise me for.  Every PTC).  He took me to the ice rink and had me stop at every line and dot, on both edges, on both feet, going backwards and forwards.  I wasn't a very good skater, but wouldn't have been half as good without my dad.  He even paid me twenty bucks once to talk to a girl I thought was cute, which happened to be someone from my high school who knew me, but who I didn't know... that was awesome.

"Hey."  To the girl as she climbs in a van with her six siblings.
"Hey Paul."
"Uh... just thought I'd say hi."  I honestly don't know what I said after that.  This is my best guess.

Either way, this is getting lengthy.  I guess I'm just trying to say that my dad rocked hard.  He remembered a little about being a teenager and helped me as much as he could.  Thanks Dad.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'd Like to Announce My Success

If you've read my previous posts you know that I have been playing Assassin's Creed.  I knew that my mom was getting me Assassin's Creed II for Christmas, and I also knew that my wife was getting me games for my birthday, so I wanted to beat the game before today (which is my birthday).

Friends, I met my goal.  Yesterday, at like, three thirty, or something, I beat Assassin's Creed I.  The game was good.  I will say that it got a little monotonous.  The game rests on the premise that human DNA carries the memories of ancestors.  "The Templars" catch you, the offspring of an assassin, and put you in a machine that makes you relive his life.  I wouldn't call this a spoiler, but it might be, but they are looking for "The Apple of Eden," which is a ball that gives the holder great power, and The Templars hope to find where it is through the memories of your ancestor.

Apparently, your ancestor only did like, six things:  Pick pockets, eaves drop, beat information out of people, save citizens from guards, and climb on high buildings to get a look around.  It's a lot of fun doing those things, but it gets old when EVERY city makes you do each of them.  And you have to do them several times in each city's districts.  It was a great game, but I know why my buddy hasn't finished it...  Apart from the monotony, the story is really good.  The ending is a little odd, but I think it will lead into the next game, which should be good.  In general, I know why Gamespot speaks so highly of it.  Consider it recommended.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aren't Cool Inventions the Best?

Let's  just get it out on the table:  I didn't post yesterday.  Trust me, I have already beat myself up enough about this.  I know what you want to say, you want to tell me that half of the success in this life is being able to make and keep commitments, and that I made a commitment to blog everyday.  How will I ever be a great writer if flake out on the commitment to write everyday?  And yet here I am, not writing.  I have lots of excuses, but you know what they say, excuses are like armpitts, everyone has them and they all stink (another body part works well in this saying too).  So, what I'm trying to say is that I am sorry, and will do better.

With that out of the way, let's move on to today's blog post.  Have you see one of these:

It's a cookie gun.  My wife and I got it for our wedding, neither of us knew what it was, and we had a lot of fun making perfectly shaped butter cookies on our honeymoon.  It's really a pretty neat little contraption, and an "outside the box thinking" invention if you ask me. 

"We need to make cookies the exact shape and size, but rolling dough takes a lot of space and time.  How do we fix that?"

"Let's put dough in a tube and shove it through the cookie cutter so that it globs on the other side in the shape we want."

I dunno, maybe I'm just simple minded, but I think it's pretty brilliant.

So, last night, my wife decided to make cookies and I decided to marry her, so in a roundabout way, I guess I wanted to make cookies too...  and I thought it was a great idea, so I did it with her.  I must be simple minded, because no matter how many times I watch the Teppanyaki chef, the juggler, the beat boxer, the parquor-er, and the cookie gun, I am always amazed.  I stare and think, my goodness that is cool.  How did someone think of it?  This amazement still didn't stop me from complaining about the cookie making, but I was amazed.  We made butter cookies in the shape of trees, wreaths, and we think snow flakes (someof the patterns are a little sketch as to what they are supposed to be).  Either way, we made them.  They're done.  We can eat them now.

So, I guess this one goes out to my fellow simpletons, isn't cool stuff the best?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Best Burrito

My birthday is coming up and because of pragmatic reasons we decided to do my birthday dinner last night (mostly it was because we had so much family here).  We went to Chipotle.

I went on an LDS mission to Minnesota where I first tasted Chipotle.  I was a little confused at first.  So many choices to be made for just a burrito, but I soon learned the proper combination:  Fajita burrito, two tortillas, double rice, barbecoa, mild sauce, corn sauce, cheese, and guac (it costs a lot, but is totally worth it).  This is the best burrito.  And, ever since figuring this out I have always wanted Chipotle.  Unfortunately, there was no Chipotle in Utah... until the one came to Sandy.  It's a bit of a drive from my house, but my family now knows where we are going for my birthday dinner.  We are going to Chipotle.  To be honest, I can't figure out why everyone doesn't choose Chipotle for theirs.

I wish I had something deeper to share about this, but I really do just want to share how great Chipotle is.  If you get the chance, get the best burrito.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Kids Make it Fun

We stayed up late last night.  Well, late for married people.  You know what I mean, when you felt tired at nine but stayed up until midnight or one.  My Aunt and Uncle were at my parents' house and we lost track of the time.  Their five year old was the one to tell us what time it was (he has trouble with minutes, but he's good with the hours).  So, we went to bed well past when we should have.

As usual, I planned on sleeping in this morning, it being Saturday and all.  But, at eight thirty, my phone went off.  It was my dad.  I always get a little nervous when he calls because when my parents want to get ahold of me, my mom usual texts me.  It hasn't ever been something bad, but I still get nervous.  I answered the phone, "Hey dad."

"It's not your dad!"  It's my five year old cousin.

"Well, then who is it?"  :)

"It's _______!"

"Oh!  Well what are ya callin' for?"

"I just wanted to know when you were gonna come to your mom and dad's house."

"Well, I'll get down there soon.  Can you put uncle ____ on the phone?"  My dad.


I then talked to my dad and I guess he kept asking when we were going to come down so my dad had him call me.  I'm pretty sure it might have been my dad's idea as much as his (my dad likes to wake me).

So, my wife gets home from some church meetings while I'm getting ready and she starts telling me about them.  In the middle of her fairly lengthy story, my phone rings.  My dad's phone again.  "Paul, I was wondering what was taking you so long."

"Oh, I just had to get ready."

"Well, can you hurry?" :)


My five year old cousin is probably one of my favorite parts of Christmas, well, kids in my family are one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  It's so much fun to play with them, and have them get excited about Christmas, and ask them if Santa shops at Cabela's, because we saw a play Bow and Arrow that he liked there.  Kids make it fun.

Friday, December 10, 2010

One Thing that Needs to Go

So, I went to the mall with my mom to meet up with my aunt and uncle who are staying with my parents this weekend.  My aunt and uncle have two little boys, ages one and five.  The five year old was VERY excited to see Santa, so my mom had them meet us right in front of the brightly colored maze  Wonderland. 
While we sat and waited we saw a mother holding her daughter by the elbow and draggering her to sit on the lap of creepy jolly ol' Saint Nick.  I think the girl was three or four (I'm bad with kids' ages, but matching her up against my cousin, I would guess three or four).  I saw the look on Santa's face and I think he was thinking what I was thinking, "If she doesn't want to sit on the lap of an old man in a red suit, she should have the right to decide not to."


On the other hand, when my aunt and uncle got there, we pointed out the man with the beard and the rosy cheeks to the five year old and his eyes lit up.  He knew what he wanted:  A pretend bow and arrow (because you can't shoot your eye out with one of those).  You could see on his face that he was preparing for the moment when he would need to tell Santa what he wanted.  A preparation that paid off.  But, and this is just me bragging on family, my aunt and uncle had the healthiest conversation in line: if the baby gets upset while sitting on Santa's lap, we're just gonna not have a pic with him and old man (the conversation wasn't in those words, but you get the gist).  I was so happy to know that they understood that Christmas is supposed to be fun for kids, and if sitting on the gift bringer's lap is lacking in the fun, let's just not do it.

Now, the day ended well, as I said before, the five year old peeled off his words to Santa like a champ and the one year old was super man and while he wasn't super thrilled to be sitting on that red velvet lap, he didn't cry and looked very regal for the pictures.  I listen to a radio show occasionally, and they have a list of "things that need to go,"  and I'd say that dragging your kid, kicking and screaming to meet Santa, is one of the things that "needs to go."

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce that both of my hard classes are officially over this semester.  One was Counseling theory, where my last big assignment was a ten page paper, minimum of ten credible sources (which means that if you only had ten the highest grade you could get was minimal, C-).  In the same class we also had a take home test, but it was take home because it was ridiculously difficult.  The other was Clinical Research.  The whole semester leads up to one big proposal for some research which I will never perform, and one large bi-folded presentation that must be displayed for no less than one hour in a main part of the school, which my wife and mom were awesome enough to help me with.

I make no promises as to how well I will did in these classes.  To be honest, about half way through the semester I realized that A's would not be possible, and have tried really hard for C's.  To be honest, I think I'll do better than that in both classes, but I'm not getting my hopes up.  Packing that poster back to my car felt so liberating.  I may not have a great grade, but it's out of my hands now, and that's a weight lifted.  I learned a lot from both classes, but really wish I had taken them during two different semesters.  The nice thing about what I did do, is that my last two semesters will be a breeze.  Like in high school, I left my easy classes until the end, and now, I have a bunch of electives to fill with Power Yoga, and Philosophy of Religion.  It's going to be great.

The odd thing, is that even with the weight lifted, I still feel just a little stressed.  I have moments where my stomach goes empty and I think, "What am I supposed to be doing right now?  What did I forget about?"  This always happens to me at the end of semesters and usually takes about a week before I completely stop stressing.  It really is horrible because I stress and have nothing to curb it with.  I literally have nothing to do.  Well, I do have two other classes, but they have almost nothing left to do in them.  One paper, and one speech, no more than two minutes long, explaining the most important thing I learned in the class.  To say the least, neither cause me much stress.  Nothing compared to my two other classes.

Anyway, just thought I would share my good news, and also wanted to let you know that six or so posts from now I should be sick, because my body will figure out it can be...  I'd also like to welcome in Winter Break.  I may hate the snow, but it sure is prett to watch fall when you don't have to go out in it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Josh Groban - Little Drummer Boy

Okay, I said I'd try to blog about what I like about Christmas, so here's one thing:  I like The Little Drummer Boy.  Not so much the song. In fact, the song kind of bugs.  It goes on for a long time and the melody is pretty obnoxious.  I won't even say that I like the lyrics, because they're pretty monotonous and boring.  What I do like is the message.  When I'm in just the right mood, and things are quiet, and I haven't been beat to death with other annoying Christmas music, I think about how the drummer boy really only does one thing well, and he doesn't even do that one thing all that well, but he really wants to give Jesus something for His birth, so he does what he can.  He plays.  Maybe not super well, and Jesus doesn't really need a song, but the drummer boy gives what he can.  You can even think about the story in terms of the fact that the drummer boy really gave Jesus nothing, because Jesus gave him the drum and the ability.  What matters most though, is that the boy is humble and wants to give Jesus something back.

A lot of the time, I feel like the drummer boy.  Jesus gives me talents and abilities.  I'm really only mediocre at what I do.  I want to do things for Jesus, but nothing will ever come close to equaling what He did for me, so I take the talent He gave me and try to help other people.  I know I don't really do much, but I'm trying to, and I think that's what Jesus really wants: for me to try and give what I can.  It's all really humbling when I think about it.  He gives His life for me, and I write something nice occasionally.  It's not really what I would call a fair trade, but what part of the Atonement is really all that fair?  It makes me feel grateful, and a little small to know that a being such as Jesus loves me enough to allow me to make a trade with Him like that.

To be honest, and this will probably knock a little off of the manliness I have shown on this blog, if I'm in just the right humble mood, and I'm alone, and I'm not sick of Christmas music, and The Drummer Boy comes on with Josh Groban, or some other great musician, I occasionally cry.  Okay, now I'll go and watch football or something.

Here's, in my opinion, the best version of the song:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Must Have Made an Impression

I ran into the wife of a buddy that I had in high school, but haven't seen since.  We exchanged pleasantries and she said that her husband kept saying that he and I should do lunch.  That seems pretty common, considering that we haven't seen each other in forever, but then she said he kept talking about a project he wanted to do with me.

It should be said that he and I were friends in a Creative Writing class in high school with the illustrious Pat Johnson.  I wrote a story that I'm still pretty proud of (at least the general idea, it definitely needs work) in that class, and my buddy remembered it and said he had been thinking about making it into a screenplay for the past year or two.  It was something of a thriller.  I was reading a lot of Poe, so the characters are all pretty ambiguous, as is the story, so my first thought was that everyone and everything would need to be fleshed out.  The story was also only five pages or so, so we'd need to add to the story to make it a full length film.  I called my buddy and told him what his wife had said, texted him some after that, and have been pretty excited ever since.

As some of you might recall from my very first post, I'm blogging because I want to be a full time writer after I get my Bachelor's, and I want to get in the habit of writing everyday so that my mind is used to it.  I already have a children's book written, a novel started, and now a screen play to write.  To say the least, I can hardly wait to get done with my degree and really get down to business.  I'd really love to break into the industry.

Anyway, just thought I'd share the good news.  I was also a little proud that he had been thinking about doing something with the story when I had written it so long ago.  Must have made an impression. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

There are Some Words that Ring Like Bells in My Soul

Last night, between the Colts and Ravens games, my family and I watched the LDS, First Presidency Christmas Devotional.  The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his two counselors, President Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf talk about Christmas.  As many of you might have guessed, my wife can't miss it.

       Henry Eyring           Thomas Monson          Dieter Uchtdorf

President Uchtdorf said, "There are some words that ring like bells in my soul and remind me of the beauty and meaning of Christmas... There are other words more cautionary that are worthy of our consideration as well.  Words such as, "Every Who down in Who-ville, liked Christmas a lot.  But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did not."...  Perhaps the Grinch story is so memorable because if we're honest we may be able to relate to him.  Who among us has not felt concern over the commercialization and even greed of the Christmas season?... we can almost hear ourselves say in unison with the Grinch, why for 53 years I've put up with this now 'I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming' but how?"  To see the devotional in full you can go to

It's no secret to those who read my post that President Uchtdorf was talking about people like me.  I agree with Dr. Sheldon Cooper in saying, "I found the Grinch to be a relatable, engaging character. And I was really with him right up to the point that he succumbed to social convention and returned the presents and saved Christmas. What a buzzkill that was.''

Obviously, President Uchtodorf went on to say that we should not be like the Grinch, but should focus on the good of the holiday season.  So, over the rest of December I'm going to post some of my favorite parts of Christmas (I doubt it'll be everyday, or I'll run out of material).  I'll start with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  I like both the book and movie.  I find the Grinch to be a relatable character, right up until he gives the presents back and saves Christmas.  Fa la la la la, la la, la, la.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

You Can't Have Your Pie and Eat it Too

So, I have beef with my wife.  Before we were even married I bought her an All-Clad sauce pan.  I bought it so that she would have a nice pan to make candy in (mostly carmel).  She makes AMAZING carmel, and of all the parts of Christmas I cannot stand, the part I do like is my wife's carmel.  She claims that she makes it all the time, but I honestly can't remember when the last time was.
The Pan

Granted, it is work, and it is time consuming, but such is the Christmas season.  She was listening to Christmas music yesterday when I came home from tutoring a stats class, and I didn't even get mad, though she knows the rules.  As the saying goes, you can't have your pie and eat it too.  She can't just enjoy her favorite parts of Christmas without putting in the work.  I would even help her make it, so I'd be putting in my half.

And on a related note, it really is hard to buy presents for her.  I know I've already ranted about this, but in our time together she has received the pan, a large cooking pot, an ipod, a candy thermometer, and a giant mixing bowl.  All things she claimed she wanted, but all of which she seldom uses.  This year I bought her gloves and a hat, and we're sharing the Rock Band game.

Either way, I'm just looking for some carmel.  If I have to deal with the rest of the season I should get something for it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I'm Gonna Buy this Knife and Cut My Shoes Up

We went to the mall today, and my dad decided to shop on his own at Sportsman's Warehouse (my mom preferred this).  I was with my wife and my mom because they were going to by pants for my wife and my wife always looks for my ok.

My dad calls us later to come to Sears and as we approach, we see my dad, among a good sized crowd around a man with "Forever Sharp" knives.  These are surgical stainless steel, with ergonomic handles and an Air-Flow Ridge System (for faster cutting).  My dad buys some for me, my sister, and himself.  We come home and the first thing he does is look for something to cut.

He throws an orange and impales it with the knife.  Then he says, "what can I cut up now?"  He finds a tomato and says, "Oh, this is what the man at Sears used."  He then tries to cut the tomato and it falls to the floor... maybe it works better as an impaling instrument.  Then he says that the man cut up a hammer, and my wife says that he should probably not try that.

Mostly, I just love that my dad still gets excited about things.  Granted, I don't get excited about the same things he does, but I've always thought that I wanted the same amount of energy he has when my kids are out of high school.

My brother in law just walked up the stairs and my dad says, "Hey, look at this."  Then cuts something else.  Following that remark he finds an orange and decides to cut the peal off.  It's like watching a kid on Christmas.

Anyway, here's to a forty-four year old guy still getting excited about a new toy.  May we all keep that same youthful exuberance!

Friday, December 3, 2010


Let me preface this whole blog by saying that stereotyping is wrong. Not everyone in a particular group is the exact same, nor should we treat them that way.

That said, I have have a theory as to why teenagers seem to think they know everything.  In reality, we see the same thing in a lot of adults, but I'll get into that later.

In my Adolescence Class, we learned that before children become adolescents they generally only thought concretely, meaning that they had a hard time with symbols and "what if" questions.  They could imagine fairies and dragons, but had a harder time with, "what would my life look like if I...?"  Between the ages of ten and thirteen, and really on until they get to be twenty five for boys, and I think twenty one for girls, adolescents' brains grow at significant rates.  One of the first abilities they gain is the ability to imagine their life 'if' they did whatever.

Now, let's leave adolescents for a moment and think about some adults.  Let's use me, I'm a pretty good test subject for this.  I'm in college, and am learning like crazy all the time.  I know, that in the grand scheme of things I know nothing, but I sure do like to sound like I know stuff when I think I am starting to understand a theory (see above paragraph if you don't believe this statement).  Now, I'd like to say that I think I'm a fairly intelligent person, and that I probably do know a little. I do think through things, and I usually have a pretty good handle on them, but I have to be honest in saying that occasionally, my dad or whoever I'm talking to, will ask a question that will stump me, and then I have to go back to the research table.  But for a while, I honestly believe anyone I'm arguing with is wrong because I go to college, and I've really learned something...

Back to adolescents!  Their brains just grew like crazy.  Only a few years ago they couldn't imagine what their own lives would be like, now they can think about all of that stuff and experiment with it, and can think abstractly about world issues, and global warming, and war, and friendships, and that their parents might be wrong.  And the more they think abstractly about something, the more they understand it, and if their parents disagree, the more the adolescent think his/her parents must be wrong.  Why?  Because teenagers are frickin' brilliant.  Look at how much they've learned in such a short amount of time.  Have their parents made a similar jump in the past few years?  They have not.  So, the teenager must have really learned something and must pass it on to the world.  Especially their illiterate parents.

I don't think teenagers are much different than us.  When they learn a little something, they think they've really got something, just like we do.  Now, they lack the life experience that allows them to look at what little they learn and say, "Compared to EVERYTHING I don't know, this really isn't much, is it?"  But I argue that if we didnt' have that life experience we would act in much the same way as they do. 

Now if I can just remember that when I'm a parent of a teenager... 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In Retrospect, I Probably Get Sucked in Because I Love Spending Time With My Wife

Among my sisters many strengths is her ability to be able to be mildly persuasive without being the least bit pushy.  This you must know first to understand my post.  You'll also need to know that she likes Facebook games, not the fast paced puzzle ones, but the ones where you work very hard to build a system, the ones like Simcity.  I suppose you'll also need to know the story from it's beginning.  My wife and I decided that it probably started one year ago, possibly to the day, but there is really no way of telling.

Just before Christmas, my sister started playing the Zoo game.  My wife and I watched as she and my mom collected different animals from tigers to water buffalo.  At first, the game seemed a little goofy, but the more we watched the more impressed we became with their number of animals, and the variety, and the gamer inside of both of us awakened: "What if you were to put this there?"  We'd ask.  "How many of those can you produce in a day?"  "I'll bet you could..."  And so our Christmas free time was captured by mating animals and trying to obtain five starts (the most stars you could obtain in the game).

By the middle of January we had obtained our five stars and were a bit disappointed with the anti-climax of it all.  Nothing really happened, not even pixelated confetti.  So, I decided not to play Facebook games again.

In the summer following we bought an Xbox 360.  It has most of the games I really like.  After hearing I was getting Assassin's Creed II for my birthday or Christmas, I decided to buy Assassin's Creed I, because the storyline is half the fun, and it starts in I.  How could I fully enjoy II without having played I?  Plus, it was ten bucks at Gamestop.  I began playing it a couple of weeks ago.  During that same time my sister and mom started playing some kind of desert island game, and when I saw it I quickly put up my defenses.  I could see no end goal.  The two of them would dig up treasure, but it seemed you could do nothing with said treasure.  I was safe from Facebook gaming.

Then, last night, we saw my sister playing "Simply Hospital."  It was just the kind of game to spark our gamer interest.  It is based on setting up a system in a hospital, gaining the right doctors and rooms and letting it run.  It does ask that you click on each patient, though you don't have to, to "cheer them up."  My wife and I played it until a little after midnight last night.

Let me remind you, I own Assassin's Creed...

Assassin's Creed....

ASSASSIN'S CREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 (Just after pasting this one I saw like five more I thought should be included)

Why was I playing "Simply Hospital?"

I can only chalk it up to my sister being highly persuasive...  Sister, how do you do it?

Either way, I think my wife and I have our Facebook Christmas game for the year.  Though this one seems significantly harder than the zoo one.  We haven't figured out the magic glitch that makes things go smoothly, and the only one we can really see is paying real money, which we won't do.

Anyway, I recommend checking out Simply Hospital.  If you find a glitch that has nothing to do with our hard earned green backs let me know.

Just one more,

Such a pretty game...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Say "Thank You"

I have a serious problem accepting compliments.  I'm not sure where it comes from, but whenever someone says something nice to me I have a hard time believing it's entirely true.  Believe it or not, this is an upgrade from what I used to do, which was take that compliment and make it into some kind of insult.  I've been trying really hard to accept compliments as true, at least for the moment.  They don't have to ALWAYS be true, just true right then.

Which leads me into my next thought, and the real one I'd like to go with this morning.  My wife is awesome at accepting compliments, and as the compliment giver, I find this much more satisfying.  I saw my wife this morning as she sat down to eat the cereal I 'made' her (more like set out for her), and I commented that she looked really nice.  She didn't argue.  She didn't tell me about how something didn't work out this morning, or that she might have looked nicer, she just said "thank you." 

When we first started dating this kind of threw me off.  I had been so used to convincing people that my compliments were sincere that I would have my case ready to argue when I gave her (my then girlfriend, now wife) a compliment, but instead of arguing, she'd just say "thank you," and we'd move on, with my argument still hanging on my lips with no place to go.  Eventually, I dropped the case.  I didn't need one.  I didn't need to prepare my compliments for my wife because she'd just accept them.  This made it so I complimented more often. 

In out year and a half of marriage my wife hasn't changed in this aspect.  My compliments are always true, but take almost no effort because they take no planning or extra energy to argue with my recipient.  So, I just keep on telling her how great she is and she keeps thanking me for doing so.

Sometimes I wonder if I would receive more compliments if I would just say, "Thank you."  I wonder if people sometimes don't pay me compliments because they know the argument that will likely follow (and I'm a pain to argue with, I've been told several times).  Maybe yes, maybe no, but it was something on my mind this morning.