Posted by Jon in HB | 9:05 PM | 3 comments »

Yesterday was Dylan's 8th birthday. In his class at school, every child gets a week to be "Child of the week." It's a week where each part of the day that child gets to do something special in front of the class. It might be sharing their favorite book, bringing in their favorite snack to share, or being the line leader, stuff like that. Tomorrow, the teacher will read a letter to the class that each of their parents wrote about them.

Here is my letter...

My name is Jon and I am Dylan’s dad. I want to tell you about a very special day. It was the day that Dylan was born. But first I need to tell you how Dylan came to be known as ‘Dylan’. You see when moms and dads are going to have a baby, they have the very important job of naming the baby. It is very important because that baby will have that name for the rest of their life; so much care needs to be put in the naming of a baby. There are even books of baby names with different meanings of the name to help parents choose a name. Mrs. Michell and I had thought long and hard about names before Dylan was born. We each made a list of names we liked, but neither one of us liked the names that the other one had chosen.

Then one morning Mrs. Michell woke up and said, “What do you think about ‘Dylan?”

I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Who’s Dylan?” I asked.

“Dylan, a name for the baby. What do you think about Dylan?” Mrs. Michell replied. “It came to me in a dream last night.”

I had never known any Dylans before. Dylan was not a name on either one of our lists. But it sounded good. It was better than Harry, or Rupert, or Augustus. I could live with ‘Dylan’. Then I grabbed the book of baby names, to see what it said about Dylan.
“Son of the sea”, is what the book said the name meant. I thought that was pretty fitting, because at the time Mrs. Michell and I lived right by the sea. We lived in Newport Beach and from our patio we could see the Pacific Ocean. We even used to take walks along the beach everyday. So Dylan it was.

We both agreed his name would be Dylan, which was b
etter than Titus. You see Titus was the name my father, Dylan’s grandpa, used to call Mrs. Michell’s belly before we picked a name. A few weeks later it was time for Dylan to be born. One morning Mrs. Michell and I took an early morning walk on the beach. It was a gray and cloudy morning. The waves were huge that day; rumbling and climbing high, only to crash down with a large crash of white foam and salty mist. It was as if the ocean it self was filled with life and trying to spew it out. Then it was time. It was time that we went to the hospital for Mrs. Michell to give birth.

It was a perfect birth. Dylan was born with no problems. He was beautiful and healthy. As the nurse took him to clean him up, and weigh him, and do all those things that nurses do to newborns. She asked me who had crooked fingers. I thought that seemed like a very odd question.

“Uh, crooked fingers? What do you mean?” I asked.

She held up Dylan’s pinkies and said, “Crooked fingers. Look his pinkies bend in at the second knuckle, that usually runs in the family. Do you or your wife have bent pinkies?”

“I do,” I said as I raised my hand to show her. That filled me with joy to see my wife give birth to this beautiful creation that God had made inside of her that was part me and part his mother but a unique and individual little person.

Later that day, I left Dylan and his mother in the hospital and went home for the night. I looked out at the ocean before I went in. The ocean was perfectly calm. It looked like glass. There wasn’t a cloud in sight. It was if Dylan actually was from the sea, like the sea was erupting and laboring this new soul in to our lives that very morning.

That is a story that is etched in my mind so clearly I will never forget it. And I am reminded of it every January 12th.

In a past life, I think I was a Who. Because “Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot”, and so do I. Actually I love it. I get completely into it, but not in the goofy Christmas sweater wearing Santa hat on my head kind of way. For me it’s about tradition and it’s more of an internal feeling that one I outwardly show. But there is a time and a place for it. For me Christmas cannot start before Thanksgiving! I need my Thanksgiving with no interruptions! But the fourth Friday in November…game on!

Christmas at my house officially starts out with me reading Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to my kids. That book along with all of our Christmas decorations comes down from the attic in the ritual know as “daddy climbs the ladder and hands the dozens of large plastic storage boxes down to mommy. All the while, mommy yells at the kids (who are running amuck, in anticipation of decorating the tree) to stand back because daddy may drop something on their heads.” In actuality I’ve never dropped anything on their heads. However, every year I have managed to drop an Easter basket or two on Gina’s head. To calm the kids as we await for all the boxes to be down, Gina finds the box of all of our Christmas books and gives it to them to place in a large basket on the hearth. Once the glorious large red and green book is found, I am usually finished my ascent into the rafters and climb down to read the children my favorite Christmas book in my best Boris Karloff voice.

That’s about all I can handle of decorating. I don’t like the process, only the end result. So usually I end up going off to work at some point, only to come home to a completed house and then I can futz and putz around until I redecorate and get everything where I like it.

Once the house if properly dressed for the season, there are certain things that have to happen for me every year for it to feel like Christmas, things that warm my heart and make me all gushy inside.

First, there is the music. I keep my car radio locked on the 24/7 Christmas music KOST 103.5 FM. While I do enjoy most all Christmas songs, there are some that I have to hear specific versions of or Christmas is not Christmas and there are one or two that need never be heard! In no particular order, I have to hear…Cougar’s I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause, Burl Ives’ Have A Holly Jolly Christmas, Brenda Lee’s Rockin Around the Christmas Tree, Andy Williams’ It’s the most Wonderful Time of the Year, Bing Crosby’s entire holiday cannon (especially the album where he’s wearing the Santa hat and the holly berry bowtie), and The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s Charlie Brown Christmas album. There are dozens more but those were all must hears. But if never hear Grandma got run over by a Reindeer or that sappy one about the kid that buys his dieing mom some shoes to see Jesus, I will be perfectly content!

Second, there are the movies. There are movies that I would never dream of watching in June, but must be watched in December. And there are scenes that make cry everytime I see them or laugh out loud thinking about them. I have to grab a box of tissues…when Natalie Wood screams to stop the car so she can run out to see the house that Santa got them…when Linus says, “lights please” and recites Luke 2:8-14…when Burger Meister, Meister Burger gets his yo-yo and finds the Christmas spirit…when Jack Skelington prances around Christmas Town singing “What This”…When Jimmy Stewart reaches in his pocket and discovers Zuzu’s petals are still there…when Ebenezer buys a Christmas goose for the Cratchits…and when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes.

Thirdly, there’s the food and beverages. Every holiday has it’s own special culinary delights, but Christmas confections are something else. Let’s begin with the savory…Honey-Baked ham, mashed potatoes, tamales, shrimp cocktail, yams, trays of Hickory Farms cheeses and sausages, bowls of nuts in the shell with a silver nutcracker and long pick, deli trays of cold cuts, corn, and green beans. Then there’s the sweets…sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss on top, candy canes, See’s chocolates, Grandma Michell’s saffron buns, peanut brittle, fudge, bourbon balls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, gingerbread, snickerdoodles, stollen, gumdrops, and fruit cake (not!). And don’t forget the sinful…Sierra Nevada’a Celebration Ale, Anchor Brewing Co. Merry Christams & Happy New Year beer, mimosas, kir royale, egg nog, wassail, Bailey’s Kaluha Tuaca and coffee (better know as a Chip Shot), red wine, hot cocoa and Goldschlagger, gin and tonics, hot buttered rum and Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, favorite holiday classic…Flaming Rum Punch.

Lastly, and most importantly there is the spiritual side of Christmas. Some of my best Christmas memories took place in church. I go to pieces whenever I see a child-shepherd with a sheet wrapped around his head, in a manger scene…when flying angles with trumpets swoop down on Christmas Eve at the Crystal Cathedral…when a stranger sitting next to me in the pew, touches their lit candle with the round paper wax catcher thing around it to mine…when my mom crys as we sing Silent Night…when we took communion as “Mary Did You Know?” was being sung…when someone I’ve never met before and probably will never see again, makes that long walk down the aisle at an alter call to proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior…but most especially when I think about a virgin mother holding the most perfectly innocent and helpless infant that would one day grow up and sacrifice his life for the greatest sinner I know, me.

I love Christmas the whole Christmas season. But it must come to an end. I cannot let it linger in my house. Before the kids go back to school in January, I need it all packed away. The lights come down, the cook books go back on the shelf, each ornament gets wrapped back up in tissue paper, the tree comes apart and put back in the box, the CD’s go back in their cases, I change my radio stations, and I read my kids How the Grinch Stole Christmas one last time. As much as I love Christmas I acknowledge that there is a time and a place for everything and I am perfectly ok with Christmas resting in our dusty rafters for another eleven months.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!


Posted by Jon in HB | 9:51 PM | 2 comments »

I lived in Indiana for almost ten years. When people find out, they usually ask “Don’t you miss the seasons?” My standard answer is “No! The summers were too hot and the winters were too cold.” Which is absolutely true and a very real reason, among several others that I moved back to California. But in my answer, I realize that I’ve left out the other two seasons.

I never really liked spring either. Spring was wet and rainy. It just sort of popped in right after a long, cold, dirty-snow filled winter. It started out cold and wet and it was just one big count down to another hot sticky, mosquito infested humid summer.

But there is one season I miss, fall. Keep your snooty ‘autumn’, to me it’s ‘fall’. It was the first respite from that heat and humidity of summer. Once fall hit, it began to get cool and crisp. You could wear jeans again and flannel shirts. You got out the blankets and put them back on your bed. No longer did you sleep sans sheets in nothing but your underwear, constantly flipping your pillow looking for the cold side. Caps kept your head warm when the cold breezes began. You got excited to be able to rifle through that top shelf in the cedar closet searching for the gloves and scarves that have been hiding from the moths since last February. Friday nights were for football. Leaves began to change colors. And it was all the leaves, not just one tree on the block. They turned gorgeous hues of orange, red, yellow, and brown. But not just any brown, a rainbow of browns that you’d only ever heard of on a Bob Ross painting show on PBS. Browns like; burnt sienna, raw umber, auburn, and sepia; each with their own character and richness. They would eventually fall to the ground and crunch under your feet. People would burn leaves and smoke would travel through the neighborhood. Fall was a picture of a turkey made from the outline of a child’s handprint. Fall meant apple picking, harvest festivals, pumpkins, and nuts. Pale yellow remains of recently harvested corn stalks fill the fields. Fall was Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s not commercial. There’s no pressure to buy a card or a gift for someone. It’s about family and food, two of my favorite things. In Indiana we would usually rotate houses for the big meal every year. Our house, then my aunt’s then Grandma & Grandpa’s then back to our place. It was always potluck and we got to use the good china, the silver and the nice linens. And it was those old standards on the table every year. There was always, roast turkey with bread and celery stuffing, candied yams with marshmallows on top, that green bean casserole with the fried onions, warm dinner rolls with butter, and mashed potatoes. Dessert was served after the table was cleared and dinner had digested a bit. And dessert was always pumpkin pie with cool whip. After dinner grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, & cousins would sit around the living room and talk and laugh.

I loved that tradition. Gina & I enjoy a similar tradition now, with her father’s side of the family. But we’ve always thought how wonderful it would be to experience all the things that we loved about the holiday with close friends. So for five years now on the Sunday before Thanksgiving we invite some close friends over for a potluck turkey dinner with all the fixings. It is a time that I am truly thankful for. It has been a rough year for some. There was sickness, death, relationship struggles and financial troubles. But through it all everyone was thankful. I am thankful to have those people in my life. I am thankful to know that other people struggle like I do, so more, some less. I am thankful that no matter what comes my way I have a group of friends that I can count on to get us through.

I am thankful for the blessings that God has given my family and me. I am thankful that I make enough money that my wife has been able to stay at home to care for our kids. I am thankful that someone as selfless and caring as Gina, saw something in me that made her want to live her life with me. I am thankful for my loving caring son Dylan. I am thankful for my spirited little princess, Megan. I am thankful for my salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ. I am thankful for our church and school. I am thankful for my wife accepting Jesus. And I am thankful for the fall.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Word Verification

Posted by Jon in HB | 10:07 AM | 3 comments »

This was my word verification to make a comment on a friend's blog the other day. Very odd, I just thought I would share.


Posted by Jon in HB | 12:07 AM | 5 comments »

We've got 'em again. A couple of years ago we had a rat in our attic. I'll never forget the call i got at work when Gina was screaming that they were poking their way through the ceiling attacking her and the kids (not exactly, but it makes for good blogging stories). But there was a big one up there. So big that Gina's Grandma's handy-man happened to be over doing some work for us and he set a trap for it. When he caught it, I was told that it filled up a shoe box and it was the biggest rat that the guy had ever seen.

Well it's back. And Grandma no longer has a handy-man around. So now it's my job to step up and take care of business.

This little sucker is smart. I first heard him about a week ago. I was putting Dylan to bed and I thought I heard a little scurrying across the the ceiling in his room. And my kid has the most panic crazed thoughts that I did not want to scare him. Seriously Dylan worries about if there is no such thing as God and Heaven. What if it's only the Devil and Hell and he's just making up the good stuff so people won't be so freaked out that every one will spend eternity in Hell after they die. Seriously! And he's only seven! Too Kafka-esque for me. So do you think I'm gonna acknowledge that I thought I heard a rat above his ceiling as I tuck him in, Hell no!

Then a few days later Gina and I are in bed talking before we go to sleep and we hear it again. At this point i have to fess up that I've heard it before, it didn't go away, and I will have to be the big man and take care of it and protect my family.

So a few days later I find myself at Home Depot staring at the billions of options for killing things that should not be in your house. There are really expensive sonic/electronic devices. There are humane little cage things. There is poison. There are the old fashion traps. But I decide on the glue traps.

A large square of plastic filled with a very gooey sticky stuff that traps them. I thought this would be good, no big spring trap to crush them and possible get blood and guts all over. So I wait til the kids are asleep and put a ladder in our closet to access the attic. I clear a little spot on the rafters and set the trap with a bit of peanut butter for bait.

The next night I look for my prize catch. THAT LITTLE SHIT WAS TOYING WITH ME! There was the trap with fur stuck to it and little nail marks in the glue. It checked it out and got away!

Well no more Mr. Nice Guy! I bought a big ass trap, loaded it with peanut butter and smiled while I set it.

His ass is mine. Nobody mocks me! Who does he think he is. No I wait. Tomorrow night i will one again make the trek up the ladder to see what me efforts will produce...

Ha ha ha ha haha!!!

I'm a PC...NOT!

Posted by Jon in HB | 10:18 AM | 3 comments »

Am I the only one that has noticed these "I'm a PC" commercials that Microsoft has put out there as a rebuttal to the hip and trendy I'm a Mac & I'm a PC ones?

They are PC user made and they have the WORST video quality ever! Seriously? You are proving the point that Mac is a superior quality product!

Political Blahs & Yawns

Posted by Jon in HB | 8:09 PM | 2 comments »

There were no good slogans this year. Nothing memorable. Not that there has been for awhile anyway. What happened to those great political slogans of yesteryear? You remember them...

"Tippecanoe and Tyler too"

"A Chicken in every Pot and a Car in every Garage."

"I Like Ike"

"All the Way with L.B.J."

"Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"

Or what about those cool phrases that described policy or programs, like...

The Square Deal -Teddy Roosevelt

The New Deal - F.D.R.

The Fair Deal - Truman

The New Frontier - Kennedy

The Great Society - L.B.J.

1000 Points of Light - Bush Sr.

You just don't hear cool stuff like that these days. When's the last time a President made a really memorable quote, the kind they put in history books? Like...

"Speak softly and carry a big stick."

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

"And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

"A man who has never lost himself in a cause bigger than himself has missed one of life's mountaintop experiences. Only in losing himself does he find himself."

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

"If anyone tells you that America's best days are behind her, they're looking the wrong way."

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
(Uhh, what was that?)

When the smoke clears tonight we will have a new President. And while some hope that the next four years will show big change in, health care, the war in Iraq, taxes, immigration, social issues...I just want to not be bored. I want I snappy quote here and there. I want a President that shoots from the hip and does not sound like a Styrofoam cut out regurgitating some speech writers thoughts. This years was so planned out, so scripted

I want someone to tell it like it is, someone with passion. What ever he decides to do in office, be convicted, and do it with your whole heart. Don't do it to please one side or the other. do it because, right or wrong, it's what you believe in. I don't want politics as usual. And may God bless the winner and guide him in his thoughts and choices.