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

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!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Choosing just the right white elephant...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    Our office had its yearly Christmas luncheon today. This is confined to employees only and should not be confused with our annual Christmas Party where we invite all of our clients, friends and family. We typically have everyone out at a restaurant for food and drink and a Chinese Gift Exchange.
    We all know how the Chinese Gift Exchange works... everyone brings a gift and throws it onto a table. Typically, there is a spending limit so each gift is comparable in value. Each participant is assigned a number and the first person selects a gift off the table and unwraps it. The next person can either steal the first person's gift or select a new one from the pile.
    If your gift is stolen, you then have the option to either steal from another person or select a new gift from the pile. Each gift can be stolen up to three times. Once the last gift is unwrapped, the original person has the final move and can either keep his or her gift or exchange it with one of the unwrapped gifts.
     The first time that I had ever played this game was when Cheryl worked for a real estate company. The office hosted a party and had everyone bring a small git for the Exchange. About sixty people participated. One guy, in particular, really got under my skin. Of course, it could not have been some random agent or a receptionist. No siree... this guy was the owner of the company.
     He was an older gentleman that had done quite well for himself and probably could have purchased all of the gifts at the party with the change he found in the seats of his car so none of these gifts was going to make or break his Christmas season. Well, this guy selected early and chose from the pile one of the gifts that Cheryl had brought to the party... a couple of decorative boxes to hold VHS tapes and a few blank tapes for recording family memories (it was back in the day, before iPhone cameras... I know I am dating myself but at the time, everyone used VHS tapes).
     Anyway, this guy did not care for his gift selection and spent the next several rounds whining and complaining about his gift. He did not stop until a friend of Cheryl's relieved him of the boxes.
     Happily, he stole a large nutcracker.
     Then he was happy and spent the next several minutes advising everyone of how happy he was to be done with those silly boxes. He was also confident in the knowledge that none of his employees would make a final steal on this nutcracker. He was sure that things were going to work out just fine for him and his nutcracker.
     Unfortunately for him, I was not his employee.
     Even more unfortunate for him, I was number fifty nine. Under normal circumstances, I would never take a gift from someone who professed such love and happiness. But these were not normal circumstances. From the minute that he sat down with that nutcracker, I plotted my revenge. I actually found myself just sitting there staring at him and waiting for my number to be called. When it was, I marched right over to him and made the third and final steal. Dude did not know what hit him. I then marched right back to my seat and plopped down with my nutcracker by my side.
     The boss man mentioned that I really must have wanted that nutcracker... and he was right. But not for the reason he thought. I mean I liked the nutcracker, but that is not why I stole it. It could have had a big bag of dog doo and I would have still stolen it. There was just no way on this earth that I was going to let that guy walk out the door with the gift that he wanted.
     In the process, I killed two birds with one stone: I avenged my wife's honor and I got a cool nutcracker. So it turned out that everything worked out just fine for me and my nutcracker.
     Nowadays, these Chinese Gift Exchanges still cause great anxiety.
     First, I worry about the gift that I buy. I don't want to bring a gift that nobody wants and nobody wants to steal. If you have any doubts that I am competitive, I always want my gift to be the first one to be stolen three times.
     If necessary, I will blow past the spending limit to ensure that one of my co-workers gets a gift that they really want... and in the process make me look like the thoughtful, generous gift giver that I am.
     I have always been concerned about the gifts that I give. This goes back to the days when my six year old nephew cried that someone brought him a Weenie Gift. Fortunately, it was not I. In fact, I may have even encouraged the Weenie Gift classification because it made my cool gift even cooler!
     Additionally, I get anxious when people steal gifts from people who really like their gift. I would never steal a gift unless I were confident that the original owner of the gift wanted another chance to pick out something that they they may really love... like say, a nutcracker!
     This year, I hit pay dirt.
     I brought a griddle along with pancake mix, chocolate chips and a spatula. This was the second gift to be stolen three times and it created a little bit of buzz in the crowd. And for my gift, I was able to steal a hand made nativity table decoration that lights up. The person that originally selected it had her eyes on a few of the other items and was happy to have the opportunity to make another selection.    
     So now I am just sitting here staring at my new crafty nativity scene and pondering a couple of things. Do they really do these types of exchanges every Christmas in China? If so, would I be able to handle the stress associated with buying the perfect generic gift and then selecting the right gift for me to take home and own?
     I suppose that I could handle that stress... and do you want to know why? Because I would have my trusty nutcracker by my side at all times.
     You see, things seem to always work out just fine for me and my nutcracker.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Come on by...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    I am sitting at my desk in the middle of the day typing this week's version of Funny Guy Friday. Although I am a partner at my firm, I still have duties that I just can't shirk... but still, here I sit typing away at 1 p.m. One would think that with more than a hundred open files that I would surely have something to do. But mine is the only computer that is turned on and my phone is the only one that will ring.
    You see today is the annual Christmas Party where we invite our friends, clients, judges, court house personnel, Sheriffs, other attorney's and their staffs, and I think, based on the turnout every year, they invite their friends, their clients, their judges and their court house personnel. I expect between six and seven hundred people are going to come walking through our doors starting at 4 p.m.
     We shut everything down and make each room a special holiday room. We have a full bar in the reception area, a wine room, a moonshine room, and a martini room. Our main conference room holds a buffet that supplements the wings, meatballs and ham sandwiches that we spread throughout the rest of the building.
     My office becomes a photo booth and my partner's office becomes an oyster raw bar. We have added and subtracted to the point that the party kind of runs itself... sort of.
     I  have only been here for fifteen years, but this is the nineteenth annual party... and it gets bigger every year. Now you would think that as the partner of the firm, I would know most of the people that attend but that would be incorrect.  I have gotten to know more and more people as a result of the party but there have been many occasions where people have been surprised to find out that I am who I am.
     For instance, I was getting some fresh air one year and I was talking with a young man who took a call from a friend. Hey man, I am at this great party in Prince Frederick... you should come.
      It doesn't matter if you were invited or not... there are so many people here that they can't possibly know who they invited.
      I inquired... Was that a friend of yours?
      Yeah, I think he is going to come with his girlfriend. 
      Do you think that the people that put this on may have a problem with that?
      How would they know?... there are so many people here!
      Good point, they really should do a better job of monitoring who comes to this thing. 
      Or the year a local politician approached me and asked me where I work.
      Right here at Davis Upton and Palumbo.
      No, that's not right.
      Ma'am, I am not sure of a lot of things in this world but one thing I am sure of is where I work. 
      So, what do you do?
      I am the Palumbo of Davis Upton and Palumbo.
      Are you sure?
      I will walk you outside and show you my name on the sign.
      Do you do something else?
      No. Just an attorney.
      She continued to question me so it got the point that I began to doubt that I was who I said I was.  When I got a free moment, I went out to check the sign... just to make sure.
      Just so you know, I am!

      This past year, I watched as my sister-in-law waited in the martini bar line. She made no headway in a ten-minute period. After watching, I walked over and asked what she wanted so I could get to the front of the line and help her out... assuming that this would be okay,.. since last we checked, my name was still on the sign.
      Hey buddy, what do you think you're doing?
      Getting a couple of drinks for my sister-in-law. 
      Well get in line like the rest of us. 
      Oh, I am sorry... I thought that I could jump ahead since I help pay for this thing. But, I will make a deal with you... you cut me a check for half of the costs of this party and I will gladly go wait at the end of the line. 
       Not surprisingly, he did not take me up on that offer.

       So now I've got to go take my shower and get ready for the onslaught.  If you happen to be near Prince Frederick tonight between 4 p.m and 9 p.m. feel free to stop on by. I am completely sincere when I say that you are welcome and you are welcome to bring a friend.  The people that run this thing have no idea who is invited and who is not.
       We are located right on Main Street... my name is on the sign out front.
       At least, I think my name is on the sign.
       It was last time I checked.
       I'd better go... just to make sure.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Funny Guy Friday... Have I ever told you how good I was?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I want to start this week's Funny Guy Friday by reminding everyone that as a youth, I was quite an athlete. Every year, I played three sports and started in all three. Not only did I start, but I played a key role on almost every team that I was ever involved with.
     During football season, I played quarterback. I recall one game where I threw for more than three hundred yards and five touchdowns. Pretty impressive numbers... for a nine-year-old. That's right boys and girls, I was slinging that ball all over the field right from the start. Our offense was designed around the fact that I could throw it and three kids could catch it. Did I mention I was nine?
     In basketball, I played point guard and helped lead the Benjamin Tasker Tigers to the Junior High School championship! It was during that time that I caught the eye of young cheerleader who could not  take her eyes off of me. She watched every move I made, and, although she may deny it now, she fell in love with me right then and there.
     Unfortunately for this young cheerleader, the feelings were not mutual. My mind was on basketball and not on girls. But I'll give her credit, she persevered and weaved an elaborate twelve-year scheme that resulted in our marriage.
     Okay, that is not exactly true. Cheryl did cheer me on in junior high... only she didn't really remember my playing on the team. When she told me this, I reminded her that I was one of two white guys that actually played. To prove that she was not just cheering but was actually watching the games, she did manage to identify my buddy John Reilly.
      But let's get back to my athletic career... After my sophomore year, I gave up both basketball and football and concentrated on baseball. This proved to be a good move as I was named a high school All Met and received a scholarship to the University of Maryland. Yay for me!
     So, why am I reminding you of how good I used to be?
     Because I used to be good. Now I stink.
     Well, I don't stink... but I am not very good.
     This week, I received two painful reminders of my decline.
     First, on Thanksgiving, during the family Turkey Bowl, whenever the other team needed a first down, they threw the ball to the guy I was covering. He did not catch them all... not because of the coverage but because the passes were just out of his reach. The guy (younger than I) ran past me, he ran around me, he even ran through me a time or two.
     This strategy of picking on the weak link is nothing new; you always exploit that guy if you have to.  I mean you don't do it on every play, just when you need to do it. I've been doing it for years... it is an art really. You do it, but you don't make it obvious. Unfortunately, with my past experience, I was well aware of their stupid little strategy.
     Well, guess what... It didn't work... we won. So there!
      Let me take this opportunity to apologize to all of my family members that I have exploited on the gridiron in past Turkey Bowls. It will never happen again... Unless it is completely necessary!
     The second reminder that I may just be past my prime came on Wednesday. I play basketball with a bunch of guys on most Wednesday nights, but this week we were one man short so I asked Matthew to join us. This seemed like a good idea but then I started thinking... will Matthew be able to keep up. He's only fifteen so may not be strong enough to compete with men. Perhaps he will crumble under the pressure of playing with his dad's boys. 
      We chose sides and Matthew and I were on the same team. This was good because I could make sure that no matter how bad he played, I could get the ball to him and try to involve him on offense. I also could help him out defending bigger and stronger players.
      We play four on four and play each game to eleven. I am here to tell you that in that first game, I was outstanding. Whether I was driving to the basket or hitting a few jump shots, I did it all.
      Matthew wasn't too bad. In fact, he was pretty good. Funny thing about being young and in shape. You get to balls quicker and run by guys a little easier. And you know what? He isn't weak at all. In fact, he is pretty strong, and for a kid that can't shoot, he seemed to be able to score every now and again. Not a bad initial game... we won pretty easily.
     But could he keep it up? We won the second game just as easily, but something was happening... my drives to the basket got a little tougher and my jumpers kept coming up just short. Some would say this is a sign of fatigue... they'd be right.
     But this fatigue thing wasn't really affecting Matthew. He was still quick to the ball and his drives to the basket seemed to be more frequent... and more effective. He got rebounds and he defended guys really well. I mean, he actually moves his feet and stays in front of guys instead of reaching and grabbing. He played defense like... dare I say it... like I used to.
     Things got progressively worse for me.
     At one point, Matthew had the ball at the top of the key and I was out on the wing. He was looking to pass the ball to me, but I was in the classic old man stance. You know the one... where you bend over at the waist and grasp the bottom your shorts with both hands. I had had enough and needed a break, so I waved him over to the other side of the court. I would like to say I was pacing myself, but I was gassed and needed a rest!  
     I must admit, it was a lot of fun playing basketball with Matthew.
     When I was growing up, my dad always reminded us that he was not there to be our friend... he was there to be a dad. He would remind us that his role was to keep us on the straight and narrow and tell us no when no was necessary. Friends don't do that. Friends tell you how great you are and oftentimes contribute to your demise. As we got older, our relationship changed a bit and he became more of a friend.
     Now, I don't profess to be the same caliber of parent that my dad was, but I do the best I can.  Matthew is still too young for me to be his buddy. He still needs a dad to keep him on the straight and narrow. However, playing basketball with Matthew was a blast. And this was kind of the first step of us hanging out together and becoming friends.
     It's going to be great... We will sit around and talk. I can tell him about... what a great athlete I used to be!
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