Every year we all go look at Christmas lights at a local park.

Every year we go on a Tuesday so we can get pizza at our favorite place beforehand on their cheap pizza night.

Every year while walking around looking at the lights we get hot chocolate that is too hot initially, but cools off so quickly in the cold December air that there is an ever so short sweet spot of time that it is perfectly drinkable.

Rarely does the night go off without a hitch. Take last night, one kid decided to poop for 20 minutes at the pizzeria as we were getting ready to leave, another was “SO COLD” and kept reminding us of it, and our friends’ kid had a complete meltdown at the park.

In the end though, as it is every year, it was pretty perfect in its imperfection. Just like that hot chocolate.


Jelling Thoughts

It’s important to learn new things. I can’t say that I learn something new every day, but I always enjoy learning something new. So in that vein, I share something I learned this morning.

I was reading a news article about a football team’s lack of cohesion. It quoted a player as saying “we have to jell as a team,” and I immediately seized upon that in a fit of self-righteousness thinking “That’s not a word! It should be ‘gel’ not ‘jell’.” I found myself quickly humbled to discover that jell is indeed a word, and that the two have distinct meanings.


  • Gel is a substance that has a consistency similar to jelly. A gel may be a cosmetic, a hair product, a medicinal product or other substance. Gel may be used as a noun or a verb, when used as a verb gel means to form something into a gel. Related words are gels, gelled, gelling. Thomas Graham coined the word gel around 1900, as a back-formation from the word gelatin.
  • Jell is a verb that means to become a consistency similar to jelly. Related words are jells, jelled, jelling, the noun form is jelly. Jellmay also be used to mean that something is growing firmer or is becoming set. Last of all, jell is sometimes used to describe the process of a project taking shape or the process of a group of people coming together in harmony, especially when working on a project together. Jell is a back-formation from jelly, coming into the language in the latter 1800s.

Go forth now, share your newfound knowledge, and feel good that you learned something new today.

What’s that? You already knew everything I just told you?!


The Farmer in the…

Who hasn’t at some point heard the classic children’s song and wondered “What’s a dell?” 

Well, that moment happened for my four-year-old son the other night. Naturally he turned to his ever knowledgeable dad and asked the question. I deftly fielded his inquiry, described the features of a dell, and even provided him with a reference point in our neighborhood that is dell-like. No doubt he’ll wow his mother and sisters with his knowledge the next time they walk there. 

It was a proud parental moment, but then I had a moment of doubt. Did I really know what a dell was? Had I led my son astray? Years from now, would he confidently raise his hand in middle school social studies and provide my description of a dell only to have his teacher and classmates mock him for his obviously wrong answer?! 

Thankfully, a quick search of the interwebs confirmed my definition, and all of my fear and self-doubt had been for naught. Fatherly crisis averted!

In case you’re wondering, you can find the textbook definition a dell (ok, Wikipedia definition), and even a picture here.

Until next time readers!

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Living Simply

We strive to live simply in our house. I say strive because sometimes living simply isn’t quite so simple nowadays, and sometimes we just don’t succeed at keeping things as simple as we’d like.

    Our house is often messy and cluttered, but we’re getting better, and with a gaggle of kids and a dog running around there’s going to be a certain amount of mess. I’m sure if we were minimalists our house would be cleaner, but with little kids comes a certain amount of “stuff” and we’re (mostly) ok with that. We’re willing to accept the mess that comes from all that “stuff” because we’re pretty anti-tech when it comes to our kids. As much as I hate that there are Legos all over my son’s room, I’ll take that over him staring at a tablet playing Minecraft for hours. 

    Recently, I found myself on a restless Friday night with a sleeping wife on the couch watching a documentary about minimalism on Netflix. (I know, I know, I better chill out on this wild lifestyle I lead!) Anyway, it’s worth a watch, but the basic gist isn’t some crazy idea that you have to sell off all your possessions and buy a tiny house, but instead to not let “things” dominate your life. 

    That’s an important message in today’s world, and one that the wife and I find ourselves trying to live by and instill in our kids. Like I said, it’s not always easy, but I think as long as we’re making the effort, we’re succeeding. 

    Right? At least a little? E for effort maybe? #notanexpert

    Tech No?

    We’ve been pretty tech-averse in our house for awhile, that is until Christmas when welcomed a brand new Amazon Echo into our lives. 

    We’ve had it for five months now and I can’t really say that it’s changed our lives or anything (ok, maybe there are a few more impromptu dance parties than before), but it’s been a semi-helpful addition at least. 

    Need some soothing classical music when the kids are nuts? No problemo.
    Need a quick weather report? Got you covered.

    Have no idea what the family schedule looks like today? Just ask!

    Am I worried about the NSA spying on me? Nope. I’m probably more worried about Amazon and Google getting together to form SkyNet and an army of Terminators, but I think as long as we keep Asimov’s rules in order we’ll all be just fine with our new friend Alexa.


    I probably travel more than most, but my hotel points and frequent flier miles tell me I’m nowhere near road warrior status. One thing I can say though is that I never get tired of flying! Maybe not all the annoyances of getting through the airport, packing myself into the plane like a sardine, or having to hurry for a connecting flight, but there’s plenty to appreciate also.

    The actual act of flying along and looking out the window and seeing a high-altitude view of the world.

    Seeing random clouds in the distance and the torrents of rain pouring out of them while we fly through endless sunshine.

    Arriving in a new place and seeing it on approach for the first time. Conversely, I also love arriving home, or another familiar place, and being able to pick out landmarks from the air.

    Writing this makes me realize how lucky I am to be able to have these experiences. Air travel has become more and more accessible worldwide, but there are still many people who will never set foot on an airplane. To be among those who get to experience flight makes me extremely blessed, and I’m thankful for it.

    Enough is enough!


    We’ve been stuck in an extended stretch of rainy weather here. Over two weeks straight of measurable precipitation every day. My lawn has been barely manageable, my flower beds needed to be planted and mulched, and frankly I just wanted to be able to take our new canoe for a spin out on the lake!

    Well Friday afternoon the weather finally broke and the sun came out. The kids wanted to take the canoe out as badly as I did so it was pretty easy to convince me to head out for an early evening paddle. They were awesome, and it was nice to have both older kids out with me and have some leg room instead of cramming myself and one kid into the kayak! My only mistake, using a standard canoe paddle instead of my kayak paddle. Life would have been alot easier with two paddle blades.

    This morning we awoke to an odd sight… The sun was shining through our windows! We took advantage and got the last of our flowers planted out front. The two older kids helped a little while their little sister toddled around, then they lost interest and decided that toys and wagon rides up and down the block were more entertaining than dad. Even if dad was giving them carte-blanche to dig in the dirt.

    This afternoon we tried to go to the kid’s festival in Winchester’s Old Town section, but clouds were looming, and as soon as we arrived the sky opened up once again. By this point we’re accustomed to having wet weather gear just laying around the van so we whipped out some umbrellas, jackets, and ponchos, and soldiered on. Most of the fun stuff was a no-go in the rain so we ducked into an ice cream shop in Old Town, ate our ice cream and then invited ourselves over to our friends’ new house outside of town. We gave them a heads-up, but fortunately they’re the kind of friends that you can just sort of show up and always expect a warm welcome. We hung out awhile, and after the sky cleared up, took the kids on a little adventure down to the creek along the back edge of the property. The kids loved tromping through the woods (as most kids do), splashing sticks around in the creek (again, a kid standard), and hunting for turtles and toads (childhood trifecta!). Of course all of this was followed by a thorough tick check before heading inside to clean up, relax, and eat some pizza before heading home.

    I guess I can’t complain too much about the rain. Come July, I’ll likely be complaining about temps in the 90s and a complete lack of rain killing my grass, but for now I’ll take advantage of the little breaks in the rain to get outside. I don’t know how people in Seattle do it!


    My Saturday Morning Ritual


    Almost every Saturday I start the day with a walk around the neighborhood with my trusty sidekick Madden. This isn’t just for pure canine biological necessity, although she takes care of plenty of business along the way. It’s a chance to stretch our legs, get some fresh air, and enjoy the peaceful early morning.

    Thankfully the rain stopped by the time morning rolled around today and we were able to make it out for a good long stroll. Here’s hoping for a respite from the rain and some decent weather this weekend!


    What Happened to April?

    Seriously? It’s May already? That was a fast month. A couple rounds of visitors, some travel, work (both at home and at work), and a few pitched battles with the wasps that have decided to make their home on our deck turned the month of April into a blur!

    I did manage to make it out fishing on the lake a couple times. Once on the kayak with my son, and once just from the dock with my nephews. The bass around the north end of the lake, especially the juveniles, were pretty aggressive going after real and artificial worms. Around the dock, the boys had no luck hooking the few nibbles they got.

    We’ve gotten a late start to our gardening this year. Mainly due to losing a couple perennials out front this winter, and failing to sit down and come up with a solid landscape plan for the front of the house. We do have some herbs and veggies getting a late start in our reading nook that gets a ton of sun. When it’s not raining at least.

    Speaking of rain, we closed out the month with a cloudy and rainy week, and look to be starting off May much the same. We definitely need the rain, but I wouldnt mind a little more nice spring weather. The only plus to the continued rain is that the grass seed I’m putting down this week will have some nice moist soil to start with.

    That’s about all for now folks. More to come as spring hits its stride.


    We Cut the Cord!

    Well, kind of…

    You see, when the wife called our provider to get rid of cable it was actually cheaper to just keep the “local package” rather than to just keep phone and internet. So we still have a bunch of channels, but cut about $30 a month off our bill.

    We tried going fully sans cable and just streaming a few years ago, but it turned out to only save us a few dollars, and the addition of streaming services pretty much wiped out that savings. This plan seems like the perfect mix though. We’re not paying for a ton of content we don’t consume, but still getting local networks and a fair amount of cable, including household staples like CNN, HGTV, and NatGeo. (Yes, those might be the lamest networks ever to be excited about, but I accept my lameness and embrace it!)

    Now we have the flexibility to add and drop premium streaming services as shows we watch go in and out of season, and make use of the services we already pay for, all for less money.

    If you’re like us and frustrated by paying exorbitant amounts of money to your cable provider because you don’t feel like you’re getting your money’s worth then give it a shot!

    What’s the worst that could happen?