Monday, December 29, 2008

African or European Swallow?

Get an early start on your abs or at least the part centered around the laugh muscles, by reading Dave Barry on Bailing out 2008. Chris just read it to me and I'm still drying my eyes.  Dave Barry is probably one of my favorite comedic writers, next to Jack Handy, Erma Bombeck, and Monty Python or whatever the writer's name was/is.  See Mr. Python's sample below if you question his brilliance.

Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that.
[he is thrown over]
Bridgekeeper: Auuuuuuuugh.
Sir Bedevere: How do know so much about swallows?
King Arthur: Well, you have to know these things when you're a king, you know.

Felice Ottavo Anniversario

Everything sounds so much more romantic in Italian. I'm sure even asking where the restroom is in Italian would sound like a sonnet to an English speaker. In this case, the Italian truly is a romantic thing, as these musical syllables are wishing my husband a happy eighth anniversary.


As I'm sure all the mushy things I've told and will tell him would make the strongest of you nauseated, I will refrain from sharing. But I will say this, it's nice to get to keep your best friend forever, mine, all mine, ah-ha-ha-ha...(that was an evil laugh, and thanks for keeping me Chris, not that you would even be able to return me as I lost the receipt, sorry :)

Warning: 18th Shakespearean Sonnet follows, mushy.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sledding all the way!

The first time we did this, and this truly was a first for our boys as the largest slope I saw in Michigan was probably on a landfill, Reed didn't even stop to weigh any consequences.  He walked up the hill, found the first sled and without direction, encouragement or warnings the boy was down the hill as fast as a, a, a, well, fast!  Douglas followed suit and both only stopped when word of homemade doughnuts and hot chocolate reached their wind blown ears (that image is only truly effective in men with long ear hairs).

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Grandpa and grandma H. bought a tire tube which was the favorite especially if you like the feeling of weightlessness, which I do.  Though, the round slick ones were the fastest.  Douglas learned this face first when he met a surprise handmade slope while riding on his belly.  The poor boy was airborne for a moment but came down fast on his face giving him a fat lip and a bloody nose.  He is not put off  by the accident and promises to return to the sport the next chance he gets.

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Dantzel loved the doughnuts and Brooklyn the snow.

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" "Mit-mas" all the way!"

I didn't manage to finish the 3 remaining days of Christmas in my blog updates because those last 3 days were so full of my true loves and a plethora of gifts ranging from school projects with photos and poetry to very focused and accurate sneezes in my face, thank you Isaac. My parents came into town and with them a whirlwind of great times and little of it was spent at the computer other than for weather reports followed by "oooo"s and "ahhhh"s as we tallied the upcoming snow fall.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Christmas Eve-Eve at the Jensen's:

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Here we were given the treat of listening to my cousin Tessa's very talented and in-tune Chamber Choir sing carols. Jodi made a very delicious Hungarian Goulash served with yummy breads. The little people (not the green ones) wore and did their best at portraying Mary, Joseph, angels and shepherds. I don't think the wise men made the cut. The best part was where the twin two year old shepherdesses, Gabby and Brooklyn kept trading scripts while burbling in confidential whispers back and forth which I can only imagine was in the original tongue. Gifts were exchanged, more carols sung, and to top it off, Tessa's preference date came over and serenaded in so many melodic words a "yes" to her dance proposal. Very romantic, and once more in tune as he was a part of that in-tune choir (can one tell intonation is an important part of my aural well being?).

Christmas Eve at home:

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We did some shameful last minute Christmas shopping during the day. That night we ate the yummiest dinner of Reuben sandwiches inspired by a sandwich my mom ordered at that "oh-so-authentic" Amish restaurant where Reed's "made in china" Amish hat was purchased. We made the traditional batch of the best popcorn balls in the world and ate most of them. Reed placed 3 sugar cookies on a plate for Santa and then all three of the boys, dressed in their new pajamas headed for bed but not before Douglas got a headbutt and bloody nose from Isaac. The blood actually went well with his new dinosaur p.j.s.

Christmas Day:

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Spoiled. Yes, we were all spoiled and are all very grateful for how giving and kind our family and friends are. I was actually the first one up but that was primarily an on guard duty responsibility. It is a tradition in my family, not Chris', that all the kids come up together Christmas morning after mom and dad have gotten up and showered. Sorry, but some traditions die hard. It wasn't needed as everyone amazingly slept in. The greatest gifts for me were my new and unscratched A&E Pride and Prejudice DVDs and a bug zapper, which my parents felt compelled to buy after report of this summer's fly problem. I can hardly wait to electrocute a few unsuspecting flies, "it's just so beautiful."

Erin, Bill and their gang came over and we finished off the popcorn balls and sugar cookies for breakfast. We had some more substantial foods but it's the sweets that are mostly memorable, not because of their yummy goodness but because I felt a little sick and bloated for the rest of the day. I didn't let it bother me too much because I knew I'd have all of tomorrow to think about it. Scarlet O'Hara really had a great method for dealing with regret.

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Douglas reading the note Santa left next to the plate of cookie crumbs. I offered the boys the crumbs with Rudolf's germs on them and they were grossed out. I guess they won't be the "I'll worship the ground you walk on" kind of guys.

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Stacking up the loot.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

9 Tripping Shoes

On the 9th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 9 strategically placed shoes to trip on.

castle moat

They must have had a strategy in the placement of said shoes because I tripped on almost every one of them. It doesn't help that the family shoe depository is near the entrance to the hallway. I don't know why they would want to trip their dear mother, so I can only attribute it to part of the creation of an imaginary castle where I'm the ogress trying to overstep the moat only to be thwarted by pointy rubber teeth and leathery black tongues, some with entwining cotton tendrils designed to strangle unsuspecting bare toes. I also don't know what these shoes might be protecting but I can only imagine something of a most valuable nature, chocolate, a Light Saber armory, Princess Leia, or "the last melon." Whatever it was, I was not meant to pass and see, and have suffered several popped toe joints and a reminder that gravity is still a powerful force in nature.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

7 things made in China and Buzz vs. the McMob

On the 7th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 7 things made in China.


"Fern, look at what this says, can you believe it?"

Reed first noticed it when he took off his imitation Amish hat (we got that on PA in an Amish store). There it was in the lining, "Made in China". So much for authentic Amish goods. In an exasperated tone Reed said, "Everything is made in China!" After which Reed and Douglas went around the kitchen looking at the bottoms of things to see where they were made, showing me that I no longer lived in America but Beijing.

On the 8th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 8 mountains of messes.

There may have been more than eight but however many there were they are now all gone. Yes, to our great and almost heart stopping surprise, Reed and Douglas cleaned up the basement. I'm still sitting here in a state of awe, wow. Of course we had to remind them that Santa Clause would be coming and if he saw that they had all of these un-cared for toys on the ground he might not be inclined to leave more only to be destroyed in the next Buzz Lightyear vs. the McDonald's toys battle sequence.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Six Frosted sugar cookies

On the 6th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 6 frosted sugar cookies.


As a result I experienced a slight energy high and than a feeling of sugar shock, and then the mighty crash, ick.  One shouldn't do that before bed, nope, not recommended.  Makes me wonder what Santa feels like after his long night of cookie munching & milk drinking.  I suppose it makes the squeezing down the chimney part more challenging, and I'm sure Rudolf just looks at him wagging his big luminescent red nose back and forth while pulsing in Morse code, "you're going to regret that!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Napping on Airplanes at Target

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 3 too many minutes at Target.

I forget why we went there in the first place, hmmm...nope, it's not coming to me.  In the process of shopping I heard a constant monotonous trio, like the buzz of a dog whistle, screeching tires, and grinding teeth being played near my elbow.  The chosen tune was one on the theme of "I want to go to the toy section!" repeated several times having lost track of the coda.  The key changed from C# major to B minor so fast that they overlapped in several measures creating such dissonance that I had to run to another aisle for relief.  Oh, it just came to me, shoes for the boys, that's why we went.  And the parents won, we did NOT go to the toy section as that would only have proven that we are like Pavlov's dogs and all they would need to do is sing that awful chorus on any future trip to Target to have their wishes met.

On the 4th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 4 paper airplanes parked in our tree.


The new source of entertainment is throwing paper airplanes into the Christmas tree to see if they will stick.  They do.  Who needs to waste money on breakable glass ornaments when the sturdy origami inspired paper cranes and airplanes are just as beautiful?

On the 5th day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 5 minutes to nap. 

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Early this morning Isaac had surgery on his eyebrow to get a cyst removed.  It was so sad to watch him be wheeled out of the waiting room and into the torture chamber as I'm sure he saw it.  The surgery was quick but he was quite disoriented and upset when he came out of the anesthesia.  He reached up to feel the patch on his eye and was quite upset to learn that his bump had been removed.  In the saddest cry ever he said "I want my bump back!"  He does not like change and for that matter neither do I, unless it's moving the furniture around, right Chris?  Oh and those 5 minutes of napping came right before the boys burst through the front door returning from school, I'm beat!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Movies and Music. Hey! Where's my popcorn?

One Night with the King


We made the mistake of signing up for Netflix in order to save money going to and from the video store and paying high prices, and it has saved us money, only the mistake lay in the fact that I am now addicted to it!  I started off this morning folding cloths and because conversation with wrinkly shirts and jeans can be somewhat singular, I decided a little distraction was in order.  I ran across this one as I went down the list and remembered wanting to see it but I think it left the theater before I had a chance.  I had no idea at the time what a fabulous film I had missed.  I loved it and would recommend it to anyone of any faith.  By the way, don't watch this while folding your cloths because all you'll get is a big pile of very wrinkly shirts and jeans.

Messiah cd

As long as I'm recommending some favorites, I might as well mention my new favorite version of the Handel's Messiah.  This is the one that gets me the most teary eyed and encourages the most awe inspired goose bumps ever!  This is the Sixteen Choir and Orchestra performance, one that Chris got me 2 Christmas's ago which he got per the recommendation of our good friends, the Wells, thank you all for the hours of musical enjoyment.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1st & 2nd days of Christmas

I have decided to change from the days of December to the days of Christmas because holidays are more interesting than months and because I was having a hard time thinking of anything the boys had given me that would get any higher in number than 13.  So....


On the first day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 1 zebra named Marty.

This zebra lives in the wild back seats of the minivan 2 chicken McNuggets down from the petrified fry forest, and across the aisle that overlooks the sea of Sprite.  Long ago, Marty (character in the movies Madagascar and Madagascar 2) was a gift that came with one of my boys Macdonald's kids meals.  He has a little switch that, when on, will allow Marty to speak if jarred by any motion.  While driving alone or with Isaac I get to hear his most famous lines which include "This place is Crack-a-lackin'!", "You guys are crazy!", and one more phrase that, due to the nature of moistened battery powered toys, has been lost in translation.  So every time we hit a crack in the pavement, a speed bump, road kill, or a little old lady I hear Marty, voiced by Chris Rock, yapping at me in the back seat.  I swear I'm going to start yapping back or throw him out the window one of these day. 

On the second day of Christmas my true loves gave to me, 2 cuddly hours of movie watching.


It's a rare moment when we find a movie we own that mommy hasn't seen at least 5 times but tonight we found one.  Reed and Douglas had already seen it and were excited to show it to their mom.  The movie we chose was the Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brandon Frazier, one of my heart throbs in the early teenage years.  During this movie I did to the boys what I hate other people doing to me during movies, and that was constantly asking what was going to happen.  Fortunately they didn't seem to mind.  My grandma does this to me when we're watching a movie that neither of us have seen and I just have to keep repeating "this is my first time seeing it too!"  The boys thought it was funny when this huge multi-fanged fish jumped out of the water and into the boat and their mom jumped and screamed with great exuberance at the surprise.  Even at the young age of 6 their "manly" gene has begun to bud, making it more necessary to keep a straight face and a comforting arm for their ruffled mother in such times of duress.  "It's okay mom, he (the dinosaur) doesn't jump out, he (the pursued boy) just looks up at the dinosaur." 

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 Peppermint Flavored Taffies

On the 12th day of December my true loves gave to me 12 peppermint flavored taffies.

salt water taffy

I bought a bag of some festive green, red, white and very tasty taffies for the purpose of decorating the inside of a transparent glass jar. Whoever came up with the idea that candy could be placed out in the open and be expected to stay there in a purely ornamental state obviously didn't have a fully functioning sweet tooth or 3 little boys with over active sweet teeth. As a result the jar is 1/2 empty (not in the mood to be an optimist today) and my kids have the freshest breath ever!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

11 Chunks of Watermelon

On the 11th day of December my true loves gave to me, 11 chunks of watermelon.

Actually, I bought the watermelon and Isaac shared some with me.  It's his favorite food of all next to chocolate, actually, it might even beat that one out too.  Though it costs more this time of year it's worth it once in a while to get some fiber and vitamins into a very picky eater.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure in the wild.  "Nature!  It's everywhere!  Get it off of me!" (Melman, the hypochondriac Giraffe).  And there it is,  our lovely yet feisty tree in the arms of the guy with the long sleeves and tough hands.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

10 Referrals to Mental Health Providers

On the 10th day of December my true loves gave to me, 10 referrals to various mental health providers.


We woke up at 5:30 this morning, having spent the night at Chris' parent's house, so we could get back up here for one stinking choir rehearsal at the boy's school where they forced me to play the violin in their upcoming Christmas or "Holiday" concert.  I am having a hard time feeling or thinking very kind things about the choir director at this moment as my kids and myself are all tired and cranky from the lack of sleep. I don't know if its the lack of sleep or if it's really my kids, but I feel like the moment they walked in the door that the dark forces of snotty-ness, icky-ness, Darth Vader, the castle Grayskull, and the Blob came trotting in with them.  I didn't know all those things could fit on the bus.  They were probably magically sent home with them courtesy of the Wicked Choir Director of the West.  Grrrrrr!!! (Sorry Mrs. K, I do like you, I know I do and I'm sure this memory will be long gone after the shock therapy, hypnosis, and a few hundred miles alone with Dr. Minivan).


9 Groveling Lepers

On the 9th day of December my true loves gave to me, 9 groveling lepers.


Chris and I were so fortunate as to have been invited to a Madrigal Dinner by my wonderful and very talented cousin Tessa.  The dinner was superb and the entertainment hilarious.  Tessa was a beggar, wrapped in rags resembling those worn by lepers, crawling all over the floor fighting over the coins we patrons would throw her's and the other beggars' way.  We had to buy our silverware and give kisses to the salt holders to season our very bland potatoes (I wonder how many germs we all got from that shared cheek).  The highlights were the play, containing a great villain named Knight Crawler in love with Ashes-Zelda (cousin of Cinderella) and of course the choral music.  By the way, thank you G.& G. W. for the watching of our 3 cute little beggars. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

8 Asymmetrical Snowballs

On the 8th day of December my true loves gave to me, 8 asymmetrical snowballs.


These snow balls came flying like incorrectly thrown footballs, or flying saucers that have lost their beryllium spheres.  Of course times were great while the balls were thrown at the house, that is until someone threw one in the back door, surprising mommy in a not so pleasing manner.  Voices (or voice) were raised, some fairly stringent rules, having to do with proper aiming (never a lesson fully learned by those carrying the Y chromosome) were decreed, proper door closing methods were re-explained, and  the "all ways are my ways" clause was reactivated and put into full and very active service.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

On the 7th day of December


On the 7th day of December my true loves gave to me seven partially eaten popcorn balls.

A wonderful family oriented dessert with popping excitement.  Popcorn balls can bring minutes of fun and hours of clean up.  Unfortunately one of the popcorn eaters who is not a finisher of his desserts, leaves his partially eaten popcorn balls with all of the other uneaten ones.  It is kind of hard to tell one from the other, that is until it reaches your mouth revealing itself with a cold wet spongy texture.  At that moment you know that you have just willingly put an extremely snotty cold germ into your own mouth and will need to run to the bathroom and drink a pint of Listerine.  If that doesn't work, you know you'll have a worthy snot shooting opponent the next time you visit a Target store (see 4th day).

5th and 6th days of December


Got Milk?

On 5th day of December my true loves gave to me, five pieces of paper glued to the floor.

Chris and I went on a real live date Friday night and "pretended we didn't have children" (Douglas' definition of a date). We came home and found that the baby sitter did not consider cleaning up kids dinner messes as part of her job description (not that I don't empathize with the nasty predicament one finds oneself in while watching my kids and I really did feel pity and a slight twinge of guilt but it went away once I closed the front door and took a deep breath of diaper free air). So where a puddle of milk lay from the predictable nightly spill, there too lay 5 sheets of drawing paper stuck to the tile with the newly discovered adhesive known as lactose. The glued papers are still there soaking up a 1/4 cup of water while I prepare to scrape them off of the tile.


On the sixth day of December my true loves gave to me 6 minutes to shower.

During those six minutes I washed and studied French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, and some other language I didn't know I knew. This is the reason I sometimes buy expensive shampoo, for the language lessons. I can read "for frizzy and unmanageable hair. Massage into scalp, rinse and avoid getting into eyes. Follow up with smoothing conditioner" in at least 5 languages now. Who knew 6 minutes could be so educational. Though, some of the sentences translated into something like "blah, blah, blah, shampoo, blah, blah, blah, shampoo..."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the 4th day of December

On the forth day of December my true loves gave to me four snotty tissues in green, yellow, clear, and slime #5.

With the cold season knocking at our door, scratching on our windows and slithering into our vents, some people find it necessary to express their viruses with this gooey new found medium.  While at the check out line at Target the little old lady seemed surprised when she realized Isaac was purposely shooting snot out of his nose and then snorting it back up.  If she was really paying attention she would have seen that he was actually aiming and re-aiming at things and, fortunately, not hitting his mark.  Thankfully, he hasn't learned the technique of making his own compressed air power snot guns (the rhinoblaster), but I'm sure it will not be long until he discovers the "farmer blow."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

31 Days of December

School Bus - Cartoon 7

On the first day of December my true loves gave to me one whole beautiful day back in school!

As a result my blood pressure went down, I ate less chocolate, and I found my way to the gym.

On the second day of December my true loves gave to me 2 minutes to go to the bathroom!

This is the safe room, there is a lock, there are magazines, plenty of air freshener, and a book for teaching myself Italian.

On the third day of December my true loves gave to me 3 high pitched screams from only 5 short feet away.

I think they were all in the same key which can add slightly to the pleasure of having ear wax sonically removed from the divine placement of said wax buildup, yikes! I can hear, ouch!

On the be continued...

Monday, December 1, 2008



Well, we done it, we done gone and purchased an American car, a 2003 Chevy Impala!  The Muffler Man in Lansing would be proud!  I think I should call and let them know that we don't only buy Korean and Japanese cars.  It seemed that every time I went in for an oil change they'd darkly tease me about my "derned for'n cars."  And I'd have to remind them every time that it was the lovely Dodge Grand Caravan that had it's computer die (which is like going into cardiac arrest for a modern car and to the point that we had to buy it a new ticker), along with some other minor problems, it was also this vehicle that had it's breaks go out on me while going down hill.  Alas, we have chosen to buy American again and hope by doing so some Michigan wounds might be healed and that our faith in American vehicles might be renewed. 

The funny thing about this car is that it's an Impala and I can't think of this car without remembering one of my favorite recorded voicemails.  Check out the following link:  Mother goose in an Impala.

Supposedly, in this car's other life, it was a cop car.  So on the outside it looks rather foreboding but on the inside it's one smooth ride.  So, finally Chris can give his parent's car back to them.  Thank you guys so much for the use of your vehicles in our time of one-car-edness (monoautomus). 

Lots more things to do...

Several of my friends posted this on their blogs and I too liked it. For posterity's sake, here are the things I've done (bold & underlined) and the things I still want to do:
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity , (I'm not that charitable, just wanted to get the guy off the phone).
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill  (ill is always up for interpretation, sick of work for example?)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping (eh-hm)
27. Run a Marathon (watched them start one, crazy people)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
(does it count if you're teaching yourself Italian in the bathroom, aka the other library?).
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
(and in Japan of all places!)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
(in art classes we all had to take a turn sitting still while your behind falls asleep so the others can draw you, low budget I guess).
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (I think I might have been in the movie Solo)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies ("are they made out of real girl scouts?")
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (is it anything like the changing of the Isaac?)
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible (always get stuck somewhere in the middle of Isaiah)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (the Jets and some other guy that I can't remember, not too famous I guess).
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (I'm still looking for it)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Totally copied a post from someone else's blog to your own

Merry Christmas!

December 2018 (Cliff’s notes version:  Merry Christmas, we love you all, and have a happy New Year!) Dear Family and Friends (...