April



Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Funny Guy Friday... Swimming pools and movie stars...

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark... So, I married a funny guy.
     Two recent events have prompted me to make yet another comeback to FGF. One shines a light on how great a coach I am, and the other shines a light on how my many talents are an attraction to very cool and very famous people. Both events have a teeny, tiny, wee bit of a connection to my youngest son Noah and his friends.
     The first story involves Noah and his good friend Joe.
     It started last December during a drive home from my office Christmas Party. Noah and Joe, being the enterprising middle-schoolers that they are, had spent most of the night working in the coat room but had several opportunities to mingle amongst the crowd. At the end of a long night, I was driving them and my high school boy home when I broke the silence. Joe is a swimmer so I inquired about his swimming career. He politely told me it was going well and that he had a meet coming up the following morning. I found that a bit odd since it was near midnight at the time. Joe assured me he would be okay.
     The conversation went something like this:
     Shouldn't you be home in bed... I see where Michael Phelps sleeps in a pressurized chamber and sticks to a strict diet before he swims.  You go to parties, eat chicken wings and stay out 'til midnight before your matches.
     They're called meets, Mr. Palumbo.
     Whatever... meets... matches... whatever...
     I should be okay. Two of my main competitors have aged up.
     So these guys were better than you and would beat you.
     Not really... Well, one guy beat me once.
     Soooo you're their main competition and they are just like everyone else you lap around the pool?
     Yeah, I guess so. (Slight giggle)
     Pretty confident, I like that.  So you win most of your matches?
     Meets? Yes, Mr. Palumbo. (giggling)
     So tomorrow, you will show up late, still smelling of bourbon and chicken wings from your night of partying, step up to the launch pad, strip down to your speedo, jump in and crush all those other little swimmers?
     Yes, probably Mr. Palumbo. (still giggling).

     This was intriguing to me for two reasons. He was remarkably confident without being the least bit cocky and I had heard some rumblings that he was quite the swimmer. Being a bit of a competitive swimmer myself, I continued my inquiry:
   
     Do they have State rankings in Maryland?
     Yes.
     So, where do you rank.
     First.
     Do they have Regional rankings like East Coast or something?
     Yes. Mid Atlantic region.
     Soooo, where do you rank?
     First.

     At this point, my boys were very impressed. They knew he was good but they had no idea he was this good.  I, on the other hand, was not as easily impressed. I continued...

     How about Nationally?
     Well, nationally, I am only fourth.

     Suddenly, it was just awkward for everyone. First, I felt embarrassed for my two boys as they oohed an ahhed at this news... as if it were some big accomplishment. Second, Joe was only ranked fourth in the nation in the twelve and under age group, and I knew he could do better... all he needed was a little help from a new coach. Someone with bold ideas and a knack for building champions. That's right... Joe needed me!
     I pointed out that nobody walks around holding up four fingers claiming, "We're Number 4!"  The goal is to be Number 1!

     Joe, I am willing to give up everything to take over your swimming career.  Here are just a few quick questions and a few suggestions... First, do you shave your head?
     No. (giggling)
     Next time I see you, I want to see a shaved head... That will cut off some time. You have to commit!
     I do wear a swim cap.
     Get rid of the cap. Commit to our cause, Joe. You have to be all in if you're going to swim for me. That or get a cap with my law firm's logo on the side. Cross-pollinating my business interests is a good idea.
     Do you do that flappy-arm thing that I see swimmers doing before they jump in the water?
     No (giggling).
     Well, that's gonna cut some time off too! Start flapping before every race.
     Do you shadow box in front of the competition? Like that guy who raced against Phelps in the Olympics?
     No. That guy lost to Phelps?
     Has Michael Phelps aged out of your age bracket?
     Yes. (giggling)
     Then shadow box until you run into him at a match.
     Meet?
     Whatever.
     Finally, and this may be the biggest advice I can give you... SWIM A LITTLE BIT FASTER!
     Well, Mr. Palumbo, I already have a coach.
     Who is your coach? I am not sure this guy is on the cutting edge like I am. Does he know anything about swimming!
     Well, I have my regular coach and my mom helps me out also.
     This could get tricky... How is your mom going to take the news that she is fired? I do think we can all agree that this switch is for the best.
 
     This last exchange did not get a verbal response from Joe, but it did get lots of giggling! I am guessing that Joe was a bit nervous about giving Coach Mom the heave ho! I felt for his mom, but this is business. To keep Joe in his mother's good graces, I suggested that Joe let his dad give her the bad news but that we throw her a bone and let her continue to coach Joe's siblings. I like Joe's mom, but we are going to the next level. It may cost me a friend, but success comes with a cost!
     
     My son Matthew felt it necessary to interrupt and chime in with his two cents...

     Dad, YOU don't know ANYTHING about swimming!
     This may be true... But I do know about winning!
     
     I pointed out a little known fact to Matthew:
     I know more about swimming than art, but I coached Noah up to the 16th ranked artist in the twelve-and-under cartooning division. I was working with no talent then and I worked miracles!
   
     This was a little known fact because I had completely made it up... but it made me feel as if one of my kids had some special talent and I am sure it gave Joe more confidence in my abilities.
      I quickly went back to ignoring my own two boys and turned all my attention back to Joe. I asked if he knew where we were going for the next Olympic competition and he immediately replied... Tokyo.
   
      Cool, I have never been there.  I said this very matter of factly... as if I had been anywhere.
   
      Matthew butted in again and turned to Joe and said... no offense, but I hope you don't make it to Tokyo because if you do, my dad will take all the credit.
      You're darn right I will. Who deserves it more than I?  His mom? She's welcome to come but just as an observer.
   
      So why am I writing about all this now, you might ask. Well, I am happy to report that Joe and I placed third in a national match... meet... whatever... this past week.  We posted some of our best times ever. After only one car drive and a couple of refresher courses along the way, we made great strides... or strokes... or whatever swimmers do when they improve. Just think what we can do when he comes to me full time.
     We have until 2020 to get his head shaved, perfect the arm flapping, shadow box... and to swim just a little bit faster.
     Congratulations to Joe.  Job well done!

     Now the next story involves Noah's friend Casey.
     Casey's uncle is president of some small company up in New York City. I think it is called The New York Stock Exchange. I don't know what they make or manufacture, but people tell me it is a pretty big deal. I don't really care about that, though. What I do care about is the fact that Casey's uncle is good friends with Hugh Jackman.
     That's right... that Hugh Jackman.
     Noah, the mythical 16th ranked cartoonist in the twelve-and-under division, drew a picture of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character and gave it to Casey.  Casey gave it to his uncle and his uncle gave it to Hugh Jackman.
     Yes, that Hugh Jackman.
     Well, several months went by, and Casey recently met up with Noah and handed him an envelope. Inside the envelope was an autographed photo of Hugh Jackman... yes that Hugh Jackman... with a thank you and some other kind words about Noah and the picture he drew.
     How cool is it that some superstar talks about one of my kids. But even cooler than talking about one of my kids is that he probably talked about me.
     Let's think about how all of this went down for a second.
     My guess is that the New York Stock Exchange guy told Hugh Jackman all about me when he handed him that Wolverine picture that Noah drew.  My friend Hugh... I am just going to call him my friend Hugh from here on out... had to be totally impressed that I was able to teach my kid how to draw. As a result, he probably wants to hang out with me. Who knows, maybe he wants me to teach his kids how to draw.
     Even more awesome... Just imagine if my friend Hugh's kids swim. Hugh is Australian, so I could potentially have two swimmers from two different countries competing in Tokyo.
     If that were to happen, do you know who the big winner would be?
     Well, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am pretty sure that I would be the big winner.  And with my new friend Hugh, I won't miss losing Joe's mom's friendship.
     I guess everyone's a winner, except maybe Joe's mom.
     Maybe I can resolve that if I get her an autographed picture from my friend Hugh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Happy Thanksgiving...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark.  So... I married a funny guy.
    I am sitting here at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning smoking a 20 lb. turkey. I have no idea how to do this other than a five minute tutorial from my new secretary's husband. He provided the smoker, the coal chute, the coals, the thermometers, the lighter cubes (boy those things work well) and the five minute tutorial!
    Seemed easy enough to him, but my guess is that he has done this before. Why, you ask, am I doing this for the first time on Thanksgiving day without a test run. Well, we need to keep our oven open for the other 20 lb. turkey to cook in the oven.
    Wow! I hear you thinking... that is a lot of turkey.
    Guess what... that ain't all... my nephew is smoking a 14 lb. turkey and bringing that to the dinner!
    Let me start this story about two months ago. As I have written in the past, my mom is getting older and her mind has a lot of miles on it and does not always work as well as it used to. This is code for she has dementia. She has been living with us for about two years, and things have progressed. There are times of confusion and times of lucidity... but the confusion seems to be more and more frequent.
    Cheryl and I host Thanksgiving every year at our home. Every other year we host my family and every other year we host Cheryl's family. We never cross pollinate families because the last time we did that, it cost Cheryl's dad thousands of dollars at our wedding! He refuses to let that happen again. That or he is still a little frosty that my brother mispronounced their name during the wedding toast.      
     Man, those Wanderers sure do hold a grudge!
     This year is a Palumbo year and I put out a message to the family updating them on my mom's current status and suggesting that it might be a good idea if folks came for Thanksgiving this year. I figured that when we host my family, we get anywhere from thirty to forty people. So if a few more heed my call, we might get forty-five or fifty.
     Cheryl and I can do that standing on our heads.  Here is what we were thinking...  
     My oldest brother Joe, he has seven adult children (all married and located in Maryland, California, North Carolina, Virginia and Canada for goodness sake) and a slew of grandchildren.  Definitely, the locals. There are three of them, probably the Virginia clan. Maybe the North Carolina contingency and no on the San Diego daughter and definitely no on the Canadians. Now, all of them have more kids that we can count but they are all cute so we want them to come.
      My sister Sheree has three adult children (all married and living in Maryland). We figured all but maybe one of their kids would come.
      Then there is Jeff. Four adult children (three married, two with kids and living in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina). Two locals would come. The Virginia son travels with his work and the Carolina kid was a maybe.
     Well, the wild cards were my brother Paul and my sister Michel. Paul lives in Washington state and has four adult children (Washington and Pennsylvania) and Michel lives in Texas and has five adult children (Texas, Florida and California) and a few grandchildren in Florida and Texas. We figured Michel would be a yes with her youngest daughter, Katherine, who has what can only be described as an insane Siamese twin type relationship with our daughter Grace. They are about a year apart and as long as we can remember, whenever they are together, they are by each other's side. They eat together, sit together, sleep together... just a couple of weirdos! But I think they bonded because they both were younger than most of the other grand kids so when the older ones went about their business together, they were left with each other... all alone... bitching and moaning the whole way!
     In fact, one regret that I have as a youngest of six kids is that my kids are all younger than their cousins. They missed the "golden days" when twenty of the twenty seven grand kids were within about eight years of each other. Because I started having kids later than my siblings, only Grace caught the very tail end of that. Mostly spent lamenting (more accurately described in the previous paragraph) with Katherine, that she couldn't do what all her older cousins were doing. Don't ask me to explain the fact that my oldest sister, the oldest in the family, is Katherine's mother. Maybe she just felt guilty about telling me I was adopted when I was a kid and made it up to me by spitting out a kid to keep Gracie company.
     Just as an FYI to Michel, thank you for Katherine but I still am seeing a psychiatrist for my multi personality disorder. Thanks for nothing Kimosabi!
     Anyway, Michel, her husband and Katherine were probable. Paul and his entire family were doubtful. Long trip, oldest daughter just got married and it is a tough week to travel. Maybe their son Sam up in Philly would make it but he has a long time girlfriend and we all know how boyfriends and girlfriends can screw up family plans!
     Well, Michel was the first to respond. Yes for her, her husband and Katherine. Probable for her oldest daughter and no on the other three. Jeff's family was next. Yes on the two locals, yes on the Carolina son with his wife and two boys and no on the Virginia son (traveling to the Bahamas and missing all the fun. Maybe he will find something to do in the Bahamas but I doubt it).
     Sheree got into the act with two children yes and one no.
     Then Joe chimed in. Yes on all but the one daughter in San Diego!
     WHAT?
     This is a bit of a game changer. Even the Canadians are coming. Turns out they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada and I am not sure they even have turkeys up there so they had to come home in order to partake! This really spikes the numbers. Seriously, there are a slew of kids that come with this package.  Too many to count and way too many to remember all their names. All cute as can be.
     In fact, I have to say, we all make good looking children. Not a dud in the group!
     Finally, Paul responded with a maybe. Maybe this... maybe that... maybe he hits the lottery, which I doubt he even plays. Maybe not! Probably not. This is a bummer because although I don't really care for Paul... he is my mom's favorite. Something that she used to deny but now freely admits to my angst as I tuck her in at night!
     God I hate him!
     Okay, more people than we expected but we can handle this.
     But the one constant in everyone's life is change. And the changes started to roll in. Paul did not hit the lottery but he and his wife decided to come and bring along two of their Washington  daughters and Sam was coming in from Philly.
     Add five more to the list.
     Then Michel called and her daughter from Los Angeles was making a quick trip to the east coast. Florida son still a no buuuut maybe he may get off work... but she doubted it... buuuut maybe!
     Of course he got off work... and, of course, he is coming with his wife and four kids.
     Add six more.
     Then Sheree threw us a curve ball. She invited her son's wife's parents. Interesting twist... but all are always welcome to our Thanksgiving feast.
     Hi nice to meet you. You know my sister Sheree... My name is Mark and my wife Cheryl and these seventy two people are the rest of my family. Don't worry if you don't remember all their names... I don't. Enjoy your time in our home. 
    These folks better bring a pie!
    Cheryl and Noah started counting and the grand total is seventy five.
    So, what am I thankful for.... Besides my secretary and her husband and their smoker. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that Cheryl and I are able to care for my mom and that she has moments where all is clear. Thankful that so many have come home to see her. Thankful that we can get together and give thanks to God for a mother that was always there for us.
     In one of her less lucid moments, my mom asked me if she had other kids. I told her yes, that she had six of us. She then asked if she were a good mother.
     I told her that she was the best.
    Today, seventy five of us will let her know exactly how good of a mother that she was.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope all of you have an opportunity to spend time with your family and give thanks for all that God provides!  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Negotiating a trade...

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It is that time of year... the baseball trade deadline is fast approaching.  Every team has to make the choice whether they want to trade young potential talent for older, more established talent. A good trade will work out for both teams while a bad trade might set a team back for years to come.
     This past week we made our own trade of sorts. Noah was invited by my best friend and his wife,   PJ and Geraldine Smith, to go to an art camp in St. Michael's with their son and another friend. The Smiths recently invested in a home in Saint Michael's, so the boys would stay with them for the week. I have not been to the new home but I am pretty sure it is a small shanty, so the boys will be  suffering through cramped quarters. A little discomfort isn't a bad thing. I thought it would be good for Noah to see how some of the less fortunate kids live.
    Art camp does not seem very interesting to me, but my man Noah was all in. He went off with the notion that it would be fun being bored at art camp and roughing it on the Eastern Shore with his buddies.
     Anyway, the day after Noah left, Grace's boyfriend Brian came for a visit. Cheryl and I decided to take the week and see what, if any talent the kid might possess.  It was not a full-out trade because eventually, I would insist that Brian go back to PA and make Noah return to the bosom of our home, but we were open to giving the switch a chance.
     I have to admit that Brian got off to a good start.
     He recently returned from a missions trip to Mexico City.  While in Mexico, he picked up a few things at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He brought Grace a beautiful rosary made from rose petals and a framed painting of Our Lady for my wife.  Now he said it was a gift for "the family," but it was really for Cheryl. Cheryl gushed over his kind gesture, while Matthew stood behind him making kissing lips. Although nobody said it, we all knew what Matthew was thinking... What is your super power... butt kissery?    
      Cheryl rushed to get a hammer (actually a crab mallet because we can never find a real hammer) and nails. She picked out the biggest wall in the house and hung that 6 by 8 inch picture.  I am guessing the picture was so small because he was operating on a tight budget.  The picture now hangs on that big wall with a small spotlight shining directly upon it.  
      Gifts are good but Noah cooks all of our meals! There was no way that this trade was going to make our home better.
      Besides giving gifts, Brian also gets Gracie in a good mood... so that counts for something. But did I mention that Noah cooks all of our meals?
      But as the week wore on, there was a surprising turn of events. Something fabulous happened. Gracie and Brian went grocery shopping and offered to make dinner. They started out with a lime chicken dish with asparagus and rice.  I have to say that it was the... best... chicken... ever! Dare I say... cooked to perfection.
      The following day, Grace and Brian followed the chicken dish up with stuffed shells, caesar salad and Italian bread. After this meal, I forgot all about our young son... the one who draws a bit and recently broke his ankle. Moses... or some other biblical name.  We didn't really need him anymore so you know what they say, out of sight... forgotten! 
      Perhaps we could finalize this trade after all!
      The problem was, I began to feel sorry for the little guy that is related to us. He was suffering through an art camp on the hottest week of the year, living in a little cubby hole of a home. I am sure that he was missing us and suffering from home-sickness.
      Then the pictures and the text messages started rolling in.  What I saw was shocking.
      Who knew that they were staying a Five Star establishment... the Smith Carlton Regency Hotel. Complete with swimming pool, kayaks, ping pong tournaments, bike rides, and a week long monopoly game.  Would be nice if the Smiths ever invited Cheryl and me to their new palatial estate. I would say it has a beautiful view of the river, but it is smack dab on the river. I am not bitter, but I would point out to stupid ol' PJ that I can make friends with anybody... any day of the week... I don't need him! I never liked him.
      I suppose that is a story for another day!!!
      Anyway, Noah was having a ball and was not missing us at all. He loved art camp and even got asked to help the instructor with a project she will be working on in Virginia. He was swimming, kayaking, ping ponging and having a great time.
     That ungrateful little...! I bet he was trying to negotiate his own trade!
     And to add insult to injury... he made them Bang Bang Coconut Shrimp one night.
     I don't care how many gifts the boyfriend brings... or how many meals he helps make... I want my Noah back! Don't tell Grace, but Noah is younger and better than Brian.
     As I contemplated the week, I was really happy for Noah... and thankful to the Smiths. Noah is an eleven-year-old that has been doing a lot of grown-up things lately. Besides cooking our meals, Noah is a big help with my mother. He helps her get dressed, walks with her and calms her when she worries. He needed some time to just be a kid and hang out with his boys.
     Of course, I am still a little bitter that he did it at my best friend's new vacation home that I have never been invited to.
      All in all, I think it was a good week for everyone. Now if the Nationals could just trade for a closer, things would be perfect!  

Editors note: Apparently, Funny Guy is a prophet because the Nats got their closer!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Who loves Dad the best?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy.
     This past weekend, we took a road trip to visit some friends in New Jersey. It is a relatively short trip... about four hours. Four hours is child's play for this family.
     We are great travelers. Matthew has his ear plugs in listening to music... completely unaware of anything around him. Noah watches some show on our iPad... barely aware of anything around him. And Grace texts with her friends or surfs snap chat stuff... giggling at her and her friend's inside jokes, unaware of anything else around her.
     Occasionally, all of the stars align and we find ourselves talking to each other. When this happens,  we have to strike fast and take advantage. On this particular occasion, about an hour into the trip, I decided to drop a very important question... If Mom and I ever get divorced, would you guys ever go visit her or would you be so mad at her actions that you would spend all your time with me? 
     You may have noticed that I made a few assumptions in my question. First, that the divorce would be Cheryl's fault. Second, that the kids would gravitate towards me.  This is a given... I am the fun parent.    
     This used to be an easy question to answer.
     Three years ago, had we gotten a divorce, Noah would have gone with Cheryl... Matthew would have gone with me... and Grace would have gone with her friends. Nowadays, the division of our children is not as easy to predict. I thought it important to get a feeling for what we would do in our hypothetical divorce.
     Noah was first to chime in... Okay, who has the best lawyer? I will go with the one with the best lawyer! 
     I was proud of this response... he has been paying attention to all of my stupid lawyer stories. I was irritated at Noah when he followed up with... Are you representing yourself, Dad?... because if you are, I'll be going with Mom! 
    Cheryl turned to Matthew and asked... You'd go with me, wouldn't you Buddy?
    I looked in the rear view mirror and what I saw was perhaps one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Matthew made eye contact with me through the mirror and while saying... Of course, I would go with you Momma!... he was shaking his head no and pointing at me!     
    Try to do that. Try to shake your head no while saying yes when someone puts you on the spot. And he did it with complete sincerity in his eyes. He made the right decision and he did it with style!
     Grace never really responded. Well, that is not exactly true... she did say Hey check this out, some lady pooped herself when she found out that her daughter was pregnant! 
     Not exactly responsive to the question, but Grace is an adult... which makes her answer even sadder!
     Now, anyone that knows us knows that Cheryl and I will never get a divorce.
     This was just a hypothetical question... you know... to pass the time in the car... coincidentally made at the exact time when I've been redoing my will and trying to gauge who is with me and who isn't.
     Aah... we'll stay together. In fact, this past Thursday was an anniversary of ours. The anniversary of the day that I asked Cheryl to marry me. Twenty-five years ago.
     As I recall, it was the hottest day of the century. I asked her at Great Falls where we had had one of our first dates. I pretended to drop the ring into the rapids... and the rest is history.
     My mom and my sister were not too keen on the fact that I was proposing because Cheryl and I  had only been dating for six weeks. I am guessing that Cheryl's parents probably weren't so sure about it either. Like any good future son-in-law, I had gone to speak to her parents before I popped the question. For some reason, they thought I was there to talk to them about buying a car.
     Think about that... why would I ask complete strangers about buying a car?
     I was there to let her parents know I was going to marry their daughter. I had done my research and I knew Cheryl loved me... and that she would say yes.    
     Happily, the marriage has worked out.
     It was the right decision twenty-five years ago and there has not been one single day of doubt.
     And for those of you who think my question in the car was silly, I was just doing my research and seeing which of my kids love me the best.
     It worked once... why change now!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Miss Alabama and Me...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    The other day, I flipped on the television and saw a story about Miss Alabama. It would appear that she filmed herself giving an impassioned speech about the awful shootings in Dallas. She was crying and lamenting the fact that she had no feelings about the shootings and that she considered the shooter... a martyr!
    As I watched Miss Alabama's video, which she had posted on some social media vehicle, and then her attempt to explain herself and walk back her comments, I turned to Cheryl and expressed my disgust. In the course of my diatribe, I rhetorically asked Cheryl... why do people need to publish every single thought they have or event that occurs in their life on social media... and why do people think anyone really cares about their thoughts? I hate social media and want no parts of it in my life!
    Then it occurred to me… for five years straight, I have done exactly the thing I despise. Anybody… and I do mean anybody... can log onto my wife's blog and read about my every thought… and I'm pretty sure people do care about what I think.
     I was bewildered and confused by this realization and struggled to come up with some distinction between me and Miss Alabama (besides her high cheekbones and beautiful skin). There has to be something that differentiates the two of us. It took me a while to figure it out but eventually, I did.
     First of all, Miss Alabama is not very funny.
     I, on the other hand, am hilarious!  Modest and hilarious. I take some random event and with my formula of 80% truth, 15% exaggeration and 5% fiction. I spin a clever yarn making people laugh along the way. At least I think people are laughing. I hope that people are laughing!
     Yes, yes, they are laughing because I am funny!
     Second, my thoughts and ramblings don't ever offend anybody… with the possible exception of my wife… my sons… my daughter… my daughter's boyfriend… my sister Michel… my mother… my mother-in-law (whom I would stop offending if she would ever call me by my given name instead of always referring to me as Funny Boy)… my sister-in-law... my other sister-in-law... okay, all of my sisters-in-law… the lady at Toys R Us… the dude in my neighborhood that pointed at me… my law partner… my secretary… a couple of the eleven-year-olds on Noah's team… nephews… nieces… people that look like their dogs… a brown mouse named Reggie... an entire church choir assembly… an occasional priest… a few politicians… a judge… and a lawyer or two.
     Okay… perhaps I have offended a few people along the way... but never an entire nation!
     Third, I have never taken the time to write a FGF, rewrite that FGF, have it edited, reviewed the edited version, had Cheryl post it on Facebook and then declare that the particular post is not me! It is not who I am! It does not represent the way I was raised and I am a big fan of the person or the institution that I just offended.  I DON'T BACK PEDAL!
      I offend and I press on!
      Finally, I try to avoid the more controversial topics. In fact, I believe that if you went back and read a bunch of my previous FGF's, you would be hard pressed to figure out who I might vote for in the upcoming election or my religion or that my favorite sport is baseball or that I love my wife and kids more than anything else in this world.
      Okay, maybe if you read a few old FGF's real carefully, you could figure out all those things pretty easily... except for the President thing... I don't know who I am voting for. I do know who I am not voting for, so that might help you figure it out.
      I suppose the real question is will I vote at all. I digress...
      As easy to read as I am, you can pretty much figure out that I don't really give a rat's rear end what Miss Alabama thinks.  She is free to have her opinion... as misguided as it may be... and she is free to express that opinion any way she pleases.
      However, I do have one simple bit of advice. If you are going to express your opinions to the entire world... try to be funny!
      People eat that up!
      You know it occurred to me that I may have upset Miss Alabama and her supporters. That was not my intention. That is not me.  I was not raised that way.
      Roll Tide.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... The Fourth of July...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    What an interesting Fourth of July weekend!
    It all started on the drive home from work on Friday. Grace was in a great mood because she was going to get up the next morning and get a ride to meet her boyfriend and go back to his parents' home near Philadelphia.
     I interrupt this regularly scheduled story about my Fourth of July Weekend to give a testimonial about today's common core math...
     Earlier in the week, Grace had asked Cheryl and me if we could drive her all the way to boyfriend's parents' home so she could surprise him.  I mentioned that I did not want to drive three and half hours up and three and half hours back on the first day of the long weekend. She insisted it was only two and a half hours each way.
     After much discussion of the matter, we decided it would be better to let boyfriend know that she was coming and meet him at the last rest stop before leaving Maryland going into Delaware (about an hour and fifteen minute drive from our home). Grace thought that this arrangement wasn't fair because boyfriend (I can't even say his name... and I like the kid) would have to drive nearly three hours and we are only driving one!  
     Okay, I am no math major but let's do a world problem... if a parent leaves with a daughter and drives one hour and fifteen minutes to meet boyfriend and that same daughter's boyfriend drives three hours to meet same daughter, the total driving time for all parties involved is... If you guessed four hours and fifteen minutes, you are correct. When I pointed this out to Grace, she just mentioned something about approximations.
    Back to my originally planned story about our Fourth of July weekend...
    The day before Grace left, on my drive home, Cheryl called to report that it was a rare night when everyone was going to be home. No practices, no games, no babysitting jobs, and no meetings. Cheryl announced that nobody was going anywhere and we were going to just enjoy each other's company. 
    In principle, that is a great idea. The fact of the matter is that we do eat dinner together almost every night. We either eat before everyone runs off to their various events, or we eat when everyone returns home from their various events.  We have been doing this for years.
    Practically speaking, once the meal is over, we're done. How did Cheryl plan on keeping everyone in the same room without cell phones or iPads. I had brought home some steaks and once they were grilled, we are talking 15 to 20 minutes tops for eating. Clearly, Cheryl had not thought this plan entirely through. It did not matter to her though, we are hanging out together and having fun come hell or high water. 
     At that very moment, I had a stroke of genius. What is the one meal that will keep everyone together for hours.
     If you are from Maryland, you should know the answer to this question.
     What is the one meal that all Marylanders know will last well into the night?
     Crabs.
     If you have never been part of a Maryland crab feast, it is kind of hard to explain. The crabs are  the stars of the show but not exactly the main course. You either eat them before the other food, which is typically burgers or dogs... usually not something as great as steak but that was what we had planned before I hatched my brilliant plan... some corn and potato salad.
     Admittedly some folks will have the corn and the potato salad and just the crabs but that is wrong. You have to have some main meat course to fill you up. Crabs do not ever fill you up. You get tired of cleaning them before you ever get full from the crab meat.
     Cleaning a crab is a work of art. Our kids were taught at a young age and once they got past the age of four, it was every man for himself.  My position on this was made clear to the kids at a very young age. You eat what you clean... do not look to me to shell that bad boy for you... I am not your grandfather. You are on your own kiddo. 
     And heaven help the kid that didn't properly and completely clean all of the meat out of the crab because that was just wasteful. We used to check every pile of discarded shells to ensure maximum crab intake. We only have so many and if you can't do it right, step away from the table! There will be no wasting!
     There are several effective ways to clean a crab but only two strategies for eating. The best method is to eat as you go. Each tasty morsel goes from the crab to the mouth. The second method is to make a pile and eat it all at one time at the end of the picking. This method requires patience... which I don't have. In fact, we only have one stock piler and that is Noah. The risk you run with stocking your crab meat is poachers. I hate poachers. They sit away from the table and then swoop in to check on the goings on...  Oh, let me have just a little taste! 
    NO! You want some, you get your hands dirty!
    Poaching crab meat in our house is a hangable offense.
    While I am at it... another pet peeve of mine is when people pick a crab out of the pile to feel how heavy it is... and then put it back if it feels light. Eat what you touch... don't leave the light ones for everyone else. How is that fair?
     Anyway, crabs are delicious! So delicious that our kids are willing to sit and eat them for hours.
     As luck would have it, I passed a woman selling live crabs on the side of the road. I asked her how many I could get for eighty dollars, which was all the money I had in my wallet.
     Thirty.  Oh yeah, did I mention that they are not cheap! This also explains why we used to monitor our kids' discarded piles.
     My crab lady hooked me up with some beauties. Typically, I don't cook them myself, but this was just another opportunity to bond with the family. A little beer, a little sea salt and a lot of Old Bay. Old Bay is the mother's milk when it comes to crab eating. You douse them in it when you cook them and you keep a pile of it for dipping. Some people use vinegar for dipping but I only like vinegar when it is saturated with Old Bay!
     Needless to say, our crab feast was a huge success. We sat around the table until about ten o'clock. No phones and no iPads. The fact that our hands were full of crab goo ensured that nobody touched their devices.
     Honestly, the rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. When the Fourth rolled around, Grace was with nameless boyfriend, Matthew and Noah were visiting at friends' homes and my mother went out to dinner with my sister in law. Cheryl and I found ourselves home with nothing to do.
     Wait a second... WAIT ONE SECOND... we found ourselves at home on the Fourth of July with nothing to do.  Can you say fireworks?
     Yeah... neither can I.
     We had an all American Fourth of July meal... sushi (Cheryl's choice) and watched a movie.
     On the one hand, we enjoyed our quiet time together but on the other hand, I really missed having the kids around.
     It got me thinking that next year, I am going to do something that will keep the kids home on the Fourth of July. Wonder what I could do?
     Hmm, if you're from Maryland, you should know the answer to this question.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... My mom and Michel...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     As many of you know, my mother moved in with us a year ago last November.
     At first, we thought she was just a little lonely after my father passed away; so, we encouraged her to come live with us. And as time went by, we discovered more and more that she is not immune from the common problems that plague the elderly... and then some.  She does her best, but she gets confused with fairly simple concepts, like scheduling and which kid is where; she frets over trivial matters; and she often forgets how to do the most routine of daily tasks.
     Without being too specific, her brain has suffered a lot of wear and tear. But she is still so pleasant, and she is a joy to have with us.
     As you can guess, my mom needs a lot of help and support, so we are truly blessed to have Cheryl at the helm.
     Cheryl is perfect for the job.
     When my mom gets frazzled, Cheryl is there to calm her. Cheryl often reminds her that her only job is to not worry. And when my mom gets confused or forgetful, Cheryl takes the time to explain every detail.
     Oh, how Cheryl loves to explain things. Queen of the Over-Explanation is how I often refer to her.  No matter how many I got it's that I give her, she plows ahead. For instance:
     Cheryl: Hey, can you get your mom's pills ready?
     Me: Sure. Where are they?
     Cheryl: Okay, they are up in the cabinet where we used to keep the glasses... not the coffee cups, they are on the other side... where we kept the water glasses...
     Me: I got it, the cabinet....
     Cheryl:  ...the water glasses and the juice glasses. Before we moved them to the drawer under the forks and knives.  
     Me: I got it. The cabinet above...
     Cheryl: Above the junk drawer... the cabinet with the happy birthday banner on the right side.
     Me: I got it!   
     Although at times these explanations can get... um... er... I don't want to say annoying because they are not annoying... okay maybe a little bit annoying.  Let's go with endearing... yeah... endearing is good.  Endearing is annoying but in a nice kind of way.
      Although at times these explanations are... ahem... endearing, they are perfect for my mom because no matter how many times my mom hears them, it is as if it is for the first time.  Cheryl never gets short with her, she never gets impatient with her, and she never gets tired of explaining and caring for her.
     Having said all that, occasionally we need help.
     This past week, my sister Michel came into town from Texas.
     You remember Michel... in a previous FGF, I may have referred to her as Nurse Kevorkian because she plugged my dad's oxygen tube into an empty oxygen tank. He was dying anyway so what the heck.
     Fortunately, her mistake was discovered, so we decided to give her another chance with Mom.
     The plan was for Michel to come into our home and take over mom's care for a week and give Cheryl a break. Two birds.
     We quickly discovered that Michel has her own style of management.
     We should have known this from the last time she visited. During that visit, Mom and Michel had discussions about foot massages. I was sure that Mom would love that. The next day, I walked into the house and heard them talking about how great it feels. How nice of my big sister to take such loving care of Mom... washing and massaging her feet like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
     Yeah.. not so much.
     When I walked in the room, I found my mom giving Michel a foot massage. I am not sure Michel really gets how this is supposed to work.
     Anyway, Michel is a tad less patient than Cheryl. For instance, Michel was making crab soup and Mom gently reminded her that she needed to take the time to chop the onions into smaller pieces. Michel responded by tossing her out of the kitchen.
     If Mom were to make such a comment to Cheryl, Cheryl would have gotten my poor mother her own damn onion and cutting board and lovingly asked Mom to show her how to properly chop that onion.
     This was not the first battle over food that Michel waged against our dear mother.
     Earlier in the week, Michel made some potato salad. The next day, Mom commented that the potato salad did not taste good (she has lost a little of her tact filter). When Michel asked her what the problem was, Mom complained about the ingredients. Michel went through every ingredient that she had included and Mom confirmed that she used to put in the same exact things.
     Michel did not let this go and the inquisition began... what could have possibly been wrong with  that potato salad?
      I could see that Mom was getting brow-beaten into agreeing that Michel's potato salad was yummy, so I came to her defense. I chimed in:  Love! Mom used to put love in her potato salad! You're missing the most important ingredient. 
     Under Michel's rigorous cross examination, it turned out that Mom was talking about some other food that we had eaten the night before, and it had nothing to do with the potato salad.
     Even still, Cheryl would have just agreed with Mom and thrown all the potato salad away! I still think we should have thrown it away because it really was missing love!
     But that little anecdote was just the beginning.
     Mom still likes to play cards but is pretty limited as to what games she can play. Go Fish is a big favorite, but she has a tough time remembering to ask for matches to the cards in her hand.
     One day... after waking up from one of her many naps in Mom's bed (it would appear that Michel treated mom's care as a union job)... Michel hustled Mom into a card game and took advantage of the old bird.
     You see, Mom had a handful of cards but kept asking Michel for nines on every turn. Michel had seen all of Mom's cards and was tired of being asked for that same old nine. Michel lovingly insisted that mom ask her for a seven.
     Okay Michel... Do you have any sevens?
     As God is my witness, Michel replied...
     No... GO FISH! HA HA HA!
     Okay, I may have exaggerated the Ha Ha Ha part, but I am not exaggerating the Go Fish part. She tricked our mom into asking for a seven so that she should crush her hopes and dreams. What kind of monster is she?
     Even for a family that is as competitive as ours, that was beyond the pale.
     Michel claims she was just trying to move things along.
     Why? I ask. Where did mom have to be? Is she dating now? Did she finally figure out how to work her cell phone?
     Let me tell you something... if that had been Cheryl playing with Mom and mom had asked Cheryl for a nine, Cheryl would have just flipped over a six and handed it to her and called it a match.
     All kidding aside... it was great having Michel and her daughter Katherine in our home for a week. Michel and Mom had plenty of time to visit and Cheryl got a much needed break. It is very difficult for my sister to leave Mom and go home to Texas, but I am sure that she leaves with the knowledge that Mom is loved and that she is getting great care here.
     And for some reason, Mom misses Michel.
     She even commented that since Michel had left, her bed was now going to be cold. I suppose she warms it up with all those naps she likes to take.
     Since my Mom has moved into our home, I have come to the realization that I married the most selfless woman in the world. Her only complaint has been that she can't do more.
     The kids are just as helpful as they take their cues from their mother's calm, consistent love. It is not always easy, and occasionally, after we have helped Mom in the bathroom, dressed her in her pajamas, and tucked her into bed with good night kisses from the whole family, Cheryl will ask me how I feel about my mom's condition and her dependence on us.
     My answer is pretty simple.
     For years, my Mom helped her six kids in the bathroom, she dressed us in our pajamas and she tucked us into our beds with good night kisses.
      I am happy to return the favor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Funny Guy Friday makes a comeback...

    Well... I am back.
    I wish I had a great explanation for my absence over the past six months... like I was kidnapped... or overseas on a mission trip... or touring with the Grateful Dead.
    But I don't. In fact, I don't even like the Grateful Dead.
    The truth is that for some reason, our desk top would not let me log into Cheryl's blog, so I was unable to write. I tried but was unable. The problem was fixed about two months ago, but by that time, I was enjoying my hiatus.
    I was able... but unwilling!
    So, I would like to start my comeback by apologizing to all of my loyal fans for my extended absence. There are about seven of you. There is our friend Ann N., two of my old girlfriends, a brother and mother of one of the ex-girlfriends, my father-in-law, and one of our associate's sister.
    I am sorry!
    I think that just about covers it.
    So, what has happened in the past six months? Well, quite a bit actually.
    On the political front... The Democrats have nominated perhaps one of the most unlikeable people ever for the office of President of the United States. She may very well be indicted before the election for her recklessness with State secrets, and if she isn't indicted, to many it will be perceived as just another example of a politician getting away with a crime.
    Even if she does not get indicted, even her most ardent supporters would have to admit, she was pretty careless. She admits that mistakes were made and claims that she is not computer savvy... as if she were from the stone ages. Kind of scary that their nominee is either a criminal or hails from the town of Bedrock.
     I think this explains why she could not shake her one and only Democratic opponent, an avowed Socialist. Socialist for goodness sakes. By the way, I am not counting Martin O'Malley as one of her opponents.  Forget about 2% of the vote... O'Malley could barely muster 2 votes.
    So the old curmudgeon from New Hampshire gave her a run for her money. Thank goodness for Super Delegates. What exactly is their super power... they have the power to vote for the candidate that all the people in the state rejected!
     Personally, I would have opted for x-ray vision.
     How could such a terrible candidate win this election?
     Her only hope is that the Republicans nominate, oh I dunno, a reality TV star with no political experience. They wouldn't do that... would they?
     Oh my gosh, they did!
     He says one thing today and a different thing tomorrow and neither seems to jive with what he said ten years ago. But he is a builder, so if you want to build something like a casino or a skyscraper, he may be your guy. Maybe a casino or a skyscraper is too much for you and all you really want is... a WALL. Well, if that is the case, he is definitely your guy.
     The sad part is that these are our two choices.
     If I could, I would vote for a monkey. Speaking of monkeys... How is it that a four-year-old can get into a gorilla's cage, but the 450 pound gorilla that is as strong as a ... GORILLA... can't get out? Terribly sad that they had to kill the poor gorilla, but there was no other choice.
     Then came the crazy calls from a bunch of people that never had kids to investigate and charge the poor mom who lost track of her little Tarzan. If losing track of your kid were a crime, I would be a multiple offender. I lost track of Gracie at the mall while Christmas shopping. I remember thinking in the midst of my panic, Cheryl is not going to understand that I misplaced our one and only daughter. 
     Even worse than that, I lost Matthew at a carnival. Given the choice between losing a kid at the carnival or in a gorilla cage, I would take the gorilla cage a hundred times out of a hundred. Especially if it happened to be a female gorilla with those sweet nurturing gorilla traits, like dragging it's young through the water by their ankles.
     But what if the female gorilla identified as a male gorilla. Well, the good news for her, er uh them,   is that in the last six months, it has become official, she can use the men's gorilla room at the local school. This executive directive strikes me as being amusing. Being a guy, I have spent more than my share of time in public bathroom and I can assure you that if a gal dressed like a dude came into the bathroom and went into a stall, I would not care, I would not question, I would not blink an eye. The only way I would even notice is if she tried to use the urinal.
     With my limited understanding of the female body, I think this might raise an eyebrow or two.
     I have to be honest though, I am not sure about what's going on in the ladies' room but I suppose some day if I wake up and identify as a chick, I can find out.
     Isn't it funny that in today's America, a man can identify as a woman and everyone is expected to accept that he is, in fact, a woman. But, if a terrorist walks into a club, announces that he is a follower of Isis and a jihadist, and commits terrorist acts, folks in the media... and many of our politicians...  expect that we will identify that terrorist as an intolerant, white, Christian member of the NRA.
     And I couldn't give a hoot if our president ever utters the words "Radical Islam" but his explanation for not doing so makes me chuckle. Basically, if I may sum up our president's explanation... It just doesn't matter. If we call them what they are, we are helping them and insulting the non-radical Muslims. 
     This begs the question, if it doesn't matter, why go to such great lengths to avoid saying it?
     When I was a kid and the family was making scrambled eggs, they would always insist on putting cheese in the eggs. I hated cheese in my eggs and insisted that they not add it in. Their response was that you really can't even taste the cheese. Well if that is the case, why put the cheese in the eggs in the first place. 
     And I don't really think calling eggs with cheese, eggs with cheese really affects how people feel about regular old eggs.
     There has to be a different reason the president avoids saying it, and who knows, if he ever does, he may like it. I know that as I grew up and matured, I found myself putting cheese in my eggs.
     Wow, for a comeback piece, this hits on a lot of political stuff and really doesn't give the reader any funny anecdotes about my family that have made FGF such a popular read for... seven people. Well, here is your update...
     Cheryl is doing fine. She is still doing a great job of running the house and taking care of my mom. I am sure she is looking forward to doing some serious editing.
     Noah injured himself learning to ride some stupid thing called a Rip Stick. I affectionately referred to it as a Broken Wrist Stick. I was wrong, and Noah proved me wrong by breaking his ankle.
      Matthew suffered a concussion playing baseball. I knew there was a problem when he stayed in the game and made two really nice plays right after being knocked silly... in a pretty violent collision that resulted in the other guy breaking his collar bone and a rib. I told Matthew that if he can hit with a concussion, we might bang him around before every game. Cheryl pointed out that a college  scholarship wouldn't really amount to much if he flunked out after one semester, but I am willing to take that chance.
     Gracie is home for the summer and is working at my office. She likes to refer to me as her co-worker.  I wish one of my co-workers would buy me lunch every day and pay for my two month gym membership.
     As for me.... I am back. Looking forward to someone in my family doing something stupid and keeping everyone informed of their stupidity.
     Of course, with our two nominees for president being in the news for the foreseeable future, I may not have to rely on my family.
     Stay tuned!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... What's your word for the new year?...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Happy New Year to you.
     The Palumbos brought in the New Year In Ocean City, with some of our friends, the Smiths and the McGees. Although I may have fallen asleep in the fourth quarter of the Alabama blowout over Michigan State, I rallied for the midnight festivities that included a champaign toast, fire works, and a kiss for my kids and my best gal.
     Speaking of Cheryl (I was talking about Cheryl when I mentioned my best gal), you have to love her... The Little Non-Drunk Engine That Couldn't.
     As we get older, her ability to drink alcohol decreases. Since our marriage, she has been a bit of a tea-totaler anyway... so am I, incidentally... but she now says every time she drinks, she gets tired, gets a headache, gets an upset stomach, or simply loses interest. She is pretty much limited to a beer or a glass of wine... maybe two, if it's sweet. Yet, as we headed over to Ocean City, she had loaded up the beer, the wine, the mud slides, the lime-aritas, the mojito mix, and the alcoholic root beer.
     Not sure what she expected, but she hardly drank any of it... although she did make me a mojito that Paul Bunyon would have had trouble finishing. I sure as heck could not!
     The beach is a great place to start the year. We got in a little football, miniature golf, some ice skating, and a lot of fellowship with great friends. When we returned home, as Noah whipped up his first homemade meal of the year (delicious egg plant parmesian and ravioli), Cheryl continued a tradition that she started last year. This begs the question, can you have a tradition that is only one year old?
     The answer is yes.
     Cheryl asks us each to think of the one word that will describe the theme for your new year.
     Grandma was quick to play. Happiness.  She was done playing.  She could check that off her list.
     Noah thought for a bit and then said Get In Shape! 
     That is three words... Mom said one word, I reminded him.
     Well, I want to get in better shape in 2016, so whatever word works. 
     Shape. But round is a shape so forget shape! I wasn't done with suggestions. Skinniness... but it is more than getting skinny... besides you're not fat. Exercise... that could be it. Okay Noah is Exercise!
     No, I want my word to be Fitness. Noah completely ignored all of my suggestions.
     Okay Mom, what's your word?  I inquired.
     Wow, I am not sure. Nap. Nap is my word for 2016.
     I was quick to remind her that Nap has been your word for the past four years... you need a new word! 
     Cheryl was quick to remind me that this is only our second year of picking a one word theme.
     Really? Wow, it seems that you have been napping for much longer than that!   
     My new word, she decided, is Divorce!
     She did not really say that... but I am pretty sure she was thinking it!
     Cheryl settled on Hearten.
     So, it was my turn...  My word will be One-A-Day!
     Wait, I could not do Get In Shape... how can you do One-A-Day!
     Because it is one word... hyphenated... but still one word!
     No, you can't use that... why would you use that word?
     Because I plan on eating at least one good meal a day... exercise at least one time a day... do at least one good thing every single day!
     How about pray at least one time a day? Cheryl always tries to horn in on my great ideas.
     Sure... I can pray once a day Miss Goodie Two Shoes. 
     By the way, Cheryl continued, you cannot use One-A-Day. 
     Well, no other word captures what I want my 2016 to be. I will use any word that you can think of that fits... but I assure you, there are none. I have thought about it and it has to be One-A-Day!
     What about Daily?
     Sometimes, I want to use Divorce!
     Gracie chimed in with Adventure... but she thinks she used that one last year. Cheryl recalled that
last year her word was Ambition, and since she finished up at the Mount with a 3.5 this past semester, Adventure it is.
     Matthew has yet to come up with his word, so I am going to assign him one. Here are my options... Sleepy, Grumpy, Dopey, Bashful, Happy, Sneezy and Doc.
     Oh, I know... Dwarfy. Matthew's word for 2016 is Dwarfy! This is what happens when you don't pick your own word.
     Wait... Cheryl tells me that Dwarfy is not a word and thinks I should go with Humility!  I like Dwarfy but I don't really want to get a divorce... even if it could have been my word.
      Humility it is.
      Well... It looks like our year is shaping up nicely... Happiness. Adventure. Fitness. Humility. Hearten.
      Daily.
      So, Happy New Year to all... what's your word for 2016?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... It's a Wonderful Life...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Once again, everyone is nestled asleep in their beds... and the house is somewhat back to normal.
     As Christmas Day draws to an end, I am left here sitting and thinking of something funny to write about. Believe it or not, every week, for the past five years or so, I have been able to come up with an idea and attempt to put it in a funny light.
     Typically, there are two ways I come up with ideas for FGF.
     The first is simple... something will happen during the week and strike me as being funny. I may embellish that event, or I may even make up a fact or two. Like I have said many times before, the things I write about are 85% true, 10% exaggerated and 5% made up. But the actual events always occur... I just put my own little spin on them.
     The second way is a bit trickier. The second method only occurs when nothing happens that strikes me as funny enough to write about... at least not fifteen paragraphs worth. It is at that point that I think of a theme and then think back about events in my life that fit that theme.
     Well, nothing really funny happened this past Christmas week, so I have been thinking about some theme. The past two days have been spent entirely with my wife and kids and have been overcome by the idea that this past year has been such a gift. I am unbelievably blessed and I truly have... A Wonderful Life.
     So there is my theme... this past year has been further proof that I have a Wonderful Life.
     By the way, I like the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, but I don't really love that movie. I think that George Bailey should have had it all figured out way before Clarence came onto the scene. Three nice kids and a beautiful wife... but it always bothered me the way that he got upset with ZuZu as she practiced her piano and was so short with his other kids because Uncle Billy lost all of the business's money. I get that his professional life was in shambles... but those kids had nothing to do with it.
     On a side note, what does it say about me that I have reservations about the movie It's a Wonderful Life because George Bailey is short with his wife and kids but, on the other hand, I love the movie, The Godfather and it's main character, Michael Corleone. I suppose I can rationalize it by pointing out that George mistreated his family for a no good reason while Michael did bad things to... protect his family.
     Ah, family... the reason that I have such a Wonderful Life.
     All of my life, I have been surrounded by a great family, but this past year has been a bit different. My father passed away about four years ago, and about a year ago, my mother made the decision to move in with us. This is her second Christmas with us, and each year we make sure she has her own pile of gifts under the tree, that her stocking is stuffed and that she takes part in all of our Christmas activities.
     As she went to bed this evening, she hugged me and thanked me for all that I do for her and for taking care of her. I told her it was not a problem, and I reminded her that I have only been taking care of her for one year, but she took care of me for many more than that. I owe her about twenty or thirty more. She provided everything that I ever needed and continues to provide inspiration, love and support every day that she is with us.
     My mother told me that I was right... Yeah, you're right, you still owe me a few years!
     In reality, taking care of my mother is easy because I don't really do it... Cheryl does.
     I mean, I pay for stuff but that's about where my contribution ends. The day to day dealings are entirely up to Cheryl and she does it with such a loving heart. Oftentimes, watching Cheryl take care of my mom brings me to tears. In fact, there are a lot of things that Cheryl does that bring me to tears. I often describe her as the nicest person that God has ever put on this Earth... and most of the time I mean it!
     Cheryl's gentle love and guidance to my mother is a great example for our three kids. Each one of my kids makes me proud every day of their lives.
     Grace had a bit of a rocky start to her college career... which meant that I had a bit of a rocky start to her college career... but has more than hit her stride. She loves her life up at The Mount and is destined for great things. She continues to develop as a student and as a person. She is an independent thinker that is right every time she agrees with me.
     She is only home for holidays and school breaks but pitches in and jumps right into the day to day activities. On a side note... she also picks out great gifts for her dear old dad from the Mount Book Store... scored a sweet sweatshirt and hat this year.
     Matthew is enjoying his high school career... working hard on his academics and his athletics. Although it is questionable whether he is getting taller than I, he is lifting weights and working out almost every day... and he thinks he is stronger than I. He may be right.
     Based on his homework assignments, there is no doubt that he is smarter than I... but don't tell him any of this... I am too old and too tired to take him down a peg. He opens doors and walks with my mom and is never too busy to take time out of his day to offer his assistance.
    He too, got his pop a sweet Spalding High School Sweat Shirt!
    Noah continues to amaze us with his art, his piano playing, and his love for cooking. All skills have turned out pretty well for Cheryl and me this Christmas season. We commissioned him to draw a few pictures of our friends' families saving us money on gifts, and his cooking keeps us fat and happy! Noah even painted a sign for me and gave me a massage bar. Seems he is also aware of my getting older and more tired!
    Noah is home every day with Cheryl and my mom, and I think that the bond between the three of them has been an amazing thing to watch. The only problem is that Noah has a hard time cooking in the same kitchen as my mom. It is like two diva's vying for the same prize! Fortunately, they make it work!
    In reality, having my mother live with us this past year has been the real gift and it is a joy to watch Cheryl and the kids give their love and support to my mother on a daily basis. Each helps out with whatever Grandma needs and they have never... not once... ever complained. To the contrary, they volunteer to do more than what is asked of them.
    This year, I hope that you all enjoy the gift of your family and that you realize that it is your family that makes it a truly Wonderful Life.
    God bless you and your family and have a very Merry Christmas!
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