Friday, December 22, 2006

Kaylee In The Northwest

Kaylee was born to perform. No question about it. When I started singing at church, she immediately wanted to start going to rehearsals with me, and all the way home, would practice singing with me until she felt she was ready. Then she worked her way into the schedule so she was up on stage with me, setting an awesome example for all the kids at church.

What's next, you ask??

Well, this week as school wound down for Christmas vacation, there was a choir performance for the whole school... A Christmas Sing-Along! (Yay! Again, I LOVE Fircrest!) So as the plans for thie performance started to trickle down to the kids, Kaylee didn't miss a beat, and went to the teacher asking if she could sing a special duet with her friend Terra. She wanted to sing "Christmas In The Northwest", and after a quick audition, Mrs. Fellows agreed, and she was in!
Then came my job, making a semi-karaoke version of the song for them to sing with. (It's amazing how often my past-job-skills come in handy!) As this week began, every night ended with Kaylee singing the whole song for us, getting every little nuance correct. She was a little worried that Terra might get stagefright, and in the spirit of "The Show Must Go On!", she was prepared to take the whole song herself.

Finally, Tuesday @ 2:oo came, and we all waited anxiously through the choir performance... After several cutely-enjoyable songs, it was Go Time! Kaylee and Terra were introduced, walked down in front of the risers, and the magic happened....

As you can guess, we were VERY proud of our little superstar in the making! Hopefully, Kaylee's Christmas Performance will become another loved Christmas Tradition!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I still vividly remember when Ellysa & Andy started Band in 5th grade. Cindy recalled it in our Christmas Letter that year as something like "an asthmatic elephant and a wounded giraffe" or some other animal reference. She also said I blew milk through my nose as a result of the sound... Details aside, suffice it to say that they fell a bit short of making beautiful music. Well, now Ellysa's in 8th grade, and the band director at her school runs a great program. The proof of this was a couple weeks ago, at the first concert of the year.

Unlike at Hunt Middle School (BOOO!!!) where the band director found it necessary to help out the kids by playing instruments while also conducting, the bands at Curtis Junior High (YAY!) are self-sufficient. And not only do they have all the necessary seats filled, but the kids actually play their instruments well!

But it's not all roses - next year Kaylee will hit 5th grade and the cycle begins again... I'll just be sure to NOT be drinking milk at the time..

Ben Stein Loves A Merry Christmas

He's more than just the teacher calling "Bueller.... Bueller... Bueller...?" or the game show host offering a chance to win his money. Ben Stein was a lawyer for years, and was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. He's also an occasional commentator on CBS Sunday Morning. Last year, a week before Christmas, he offered this commentary, which is just as compelling this year. And yeah, I verified that it's actually true, he really did say it, and I even went to the trouble of correcting the emailed version I originally received to make it match what he actually said. The link to the proof is after the commentary. Merry Chrimstas!

Here at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart. I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores who they are. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so darned important?
I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's baby.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe. But I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young? Hmm, not so bad.

Next confession:I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees.

It doesn't bother me a bit when people say "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they're slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we're all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there's a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, fine. The Menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too.

I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?
I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.


Well said, Ben. Very well said. Again, Merry Christmas to all!
If you're still doubtin the authenticity of this, click here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis The Season To Get Older

Wow, it's been over a week since I've posted anything... and it's not because there hasn't been a lot to post - in fact, the opposite is true! There's been SO much to post that I haven't had time to post it all!

December, in addition to being home to Christmas and New Years, and all the gatherings and shopping that accompany them, but it's also Andy's birthday on the 10th, and mine just a few days later on the 15th. Andy's been having birthdays since he was born back in 1992. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise to me that suddenly out of nowhere, he had the nerve to turn 14. But it did. It really did! Most of you who know me, know that I really don't put any weight on age. My age, your age, doesn't matter. I generally have 3 "ages" that I keep track of: Younger Than Me, My Age, and Older Than Me. Within those categories are people of all different kinds of chronological ages... It's all about where you're at in life, and how it feels to hang around someone. Meaning you could be 52 years old, and still be totally "my age" to me, based on who you are. So Age to me, ain't nuttin' but a number.

Until someone who I helped create turned 14. That's just too weird!! But he did it. And I lived. In fact, I lived well enough to make it through "The Storm" and turn another year older on Friday.

That picture up there? It's from Andy's "I'm almost 14 - close enough to get a free plate of sopapillas for my birthday!" dinner. He also got to wear the birthday sombrero and scarf... And milliseconds before the picture was taken, he was shouting "Olé!" and holding a big goofy braces-enhanced grin that like I said, vanished RIGHT as the picture was snapped. But you get the idea...

So Happy Birthday to Andy (and me) and an open request to call the paramedics in a couple years when he turns *gulp* sixteen....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Funny!

Why Wii? You Have To Ask???

By now you all know that I stood in line on the morning of November 19 to get a Ninteno Wii console at launch. I'd just like to let anyone who was concerned know, that I have zero regrets!! This system, more than anything I've ever played, just oozes fun! It's fun that starts with the console itself. Even without popping a disc in, you can have fun making characters called Miis, which can look like yourself, your friends, your enemies... And then share them with other Wii owners via the console's internet connection. The Miis then populate various games, including Wii Sports, which was bundled with the console. Remember how I said you can make a Mii of your enemy? Well Wii Sports has a boxing game. It's like therapy to beat an offending Mii senseless!! FUN THERAPY!!!

At launch, knowing that Wii Sports was included, we only bought one other game. We chose Excite Truck, an off-road truck racing game that is the most fun driving game I've ever played. I was torn between it, and Rayman Raving Rabbids, but went with what I felt was the safer bet of a racing game.

Then last week a friend (who has made and shared some great Miis) let me borrow his copy of RRR. This game is the craziest, most fun game I've ever encountered. In fact, if I'd seen this trailer before launch time, RRR would likely have been my launch title.

So far, all three Wii games - Wii Sports, Excite Truck and RRR are not just fun for the person playing them, but for anyone else in the room as well. The first night we did Wii Boxing, Ellysa worked up such a sweat she had to hit the showers afterward!

So my request now, is that everyone needs to get a Wii!! Then we can link 'em all up, create a big ol' family of Miis, and turn out a great big happy Wii Party!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Tradition #2

I grew up in Des Moines - Washington, not Iowa - and one of the things I loved about it was that it felt like a community. People knew each other... In many ways, most of us grew up in an area like that, and we all know that the feeling of community has largely gone away.

Not in Fircrest!! Our town is still very connected, and still thrives on small-town values. It's strange, being wedged between Tacoma, Lakewood and University Place, but the little municipality really does have its own culture. One of the best embodiments of that culture is the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

It's 2006. This is now. All over America, the seperation of church and state has gone to extremes, particularly blocking Christianity from virtually everything, for fear of offending someone in the minority. I hate that. As a kid, one of the highlights of each school year was getting together in the lunch room before school in the mornings, and singing Christmas carols. Yes, CHRISTMAS CAROLS!! AT SCHOOL!! This was a fully sanctioned activity! The music teacher even played the piano and TAUGHT US THE SONGS!! It was a time when all the grades mingled together, and everyone got along. Were there Jewish kids at that school? Yes. Did they complain? No. Some just played on the playground waiting for the bell to ring, others sang along with as much joy as the Christian kids. It never occurred to them to be offended. I really miss those days. But back on target:

So in 2006, for an official city function, held in public, to honor specifically Christmas - not "The Holidays", but Christmas - is astounding to me! I love it! A huge percentage of the town turns out and stands in the cold dark park, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Finally, someone introduces the mayor, who thanks us for coming, and prepares us for some other guy who is going to offer the invocation. The WHAT?? PRAYER?? AT AN OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT FUNCTION?? Yep, Prayer. He invocated. In Jesus' name, he invocated. He dedicated the tree to the Christmas season, he thanked God for the miracle of Christmas, it was like being in church, except there we were, in Alice Peers Park, underneath the "Welcome To Fircrest" sign. And when he ended his prayer with a rousing "...and all God's people said..." there was an "AMEN!" that rose from the crowd that was more jubilant than many church services I've been in! Then they threw the switch, the tree lit up, I took a picture, and Santa, Mrs. Claus, some elves, and a few reindeer came parading down the street...

As the countdown to Christmas continues, Santa will make several runs through town on a fire truck, handing out gifts and candy canes. And my family will eagerly run out to greet him and wish all within earshot a Very Merry Christmas!