Good News for 2014!

December 31, 2013 11:25am
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Eternal optimist John Green shares a few inspiring statistics to consider to as we prepare to leap over the calendarial bridge from 2013 into the mighty and prosperous 2014.

Also, in 2014 I’d kind of like to see calendarial become an actual word because I couldn’t come up with anything better to fit in that sentence.

Happy New Year!!!

When Christmastime is Over…

December 30, 2013 10:37pm
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All in all, I think we had a pretty good run this year! :santa:

It’s always a little sad when it comes time to start packing all of this stuff up, even though I have no intentions of putting all of these decorations away anytime soon, but at the same time, I certainly can’t deny that 2013 was a pretty fantastic year Christmas wise, and so as one tends to do around this time of year … especially if he has a blog and a fresh plate of Christmas cookies by his side … I wanted to take a bit to reflect on Christmastime 2013 and all that made it so special…

To be perfectly honest, this almost ended up being a very low key holiday season because with doing IVF this year and now (thankfully) having a baby due in the spring, we didn’t really have a whole lot of money to spare. So we were going to forego most of the big stuff – buying presents for friends and family, spending more than maybe $50 a piece on each other, going over to Disney aside from maybe a random day trip.

But then I started to look at the budget and saw some ways that we could stretch things a little, and we got to thinking that after all that we’ve been through this year and so many sacrifices that we’ve made to try and have a baby, we didn’t want Christmas – the happiest season of all! – to be lackluster end to the year. And in a way, I hate to say that money had a big part to do with it, but it kind of did because presents and trips to Disney aren’t cheap, but I think that it was worth it! 😉

The Highlights:

  • A Holiday Weekend at Disney World – Granted, we weren’t able to do a whole lot on account of the wife being pregnant and all, but we haven’t spent a full holiday weekend over at Disney in … I don’t even know how many years! And it’s so hard to see even a fraction of all the great holiday fun if you’re only going for day trips because it’s so much more of a pain to park hop when you do. This was a true highlight because we got to see the Osborne Lights in particular, which we haven’t seen in a while, and the Wilderness Lodge where we stayed was like a little piece of the holidays back home (without all of the cold)!

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  • The Gift of Giving – We probably spent a little more than we should’ve – just on singing fish alone – but there’s something fun about searching for just the right thing that will make each person smile on your list when they rip open that wrapping paper in a fury on Christmas morning! And don’t get me wrong, the shipping costs alone were murder when you consider that 99% of our gifts had to travel out of state … but it was also a lot of fun, even despite trying to figure out how to fit them all into their appropriate shipping boxes…

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  • Decorating Around the House – I’ll be honest, we totally used the impending kid as an excuse for the new decorations that we bought this year because we really want our home to be ultra-vestive and it’s clear that unless we hit the jackpot, that’s a feat that’s going to be a gradual progression to build towards! But between the silver bells and the fake garland thingys and the various assorted holiday things with Mickey’s face on them, I think we got a good start this year… :mrgreen:

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Things to Do Better Next Year…

  • Putting Up Lights Outside – We’ve lived in this house through two Christmases now and I’ve failed in my attempts to decorate outside for both, so 2014 most definitely has to be different! The big thing that held me back this year was that I think a bunch of our old lights got damaged in between moves and I’m super anal about having them match, so I didn’t even try to buy replacements. I think next year it’s probably time to bite the bullet and just pitch out whatever’s there now and buy brand new. In November. And then be raring to go come Thanksgiving so that the Sevener household actually has decorations up for the entirety of the holiday season that are worthy of the legacy.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies – We only ended up doing a couple of kinds this year – on Christmas Eve, no less – and my gingerbread men honestly never even came into fruition because I was too busy playing with my toys to make them on Christmas Day. We’ve also been “trying” to cut back a bit because of the whole weight loss thing … but maybe we’ll both do so awesome at it next year that we’ll have no qualms whatsoever about keeping a steady flow of cookies pouring out of the oven all season long! 😉
  • A Very Merry Magical Trip to Disney – I know we did it this year already, but I’m putting it on the list simply because Sara and I thoroughly agreed that this needs to become an annual vacation that we take every year because it’s just way to much holiday fun to not do.
  • Lego Holiday Village Migration – I have no idea where it’s going to end up, but especially if they keep adding new sets, it’s going to have to find a new home within our home soon!
  • Baby’s First Christmas – It’s going to be legen … wait for it … fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la … dary!

And now, the obligatory When Christmastime is Over anthem that always brings a tear to my eye…  8)

I should probably emphasize for the sake of the famous people involved that this was just a dream and didn’t really happen, although it would’ve been really cool if it had! 😉

So I was at home visiting Northern Michigan, and at random I found myself touring a beefed up version of my old house, except that somehow now it was connected to several other houses on the block in one long row and you could look out through glass windows down onto the backyards of each home as you walked down this long hallway that connected all of them. I was walking down the hallway with Miss Parker, who played the role of that hot teacher everybody had in high school, except now that I was older, somehow she actually cared about what I had to say.

She was definitely still the hot teacher, though! 😉

When I pointed out that we were looking down at my own backyard, she seemed intrigued and we went down to walk around outside, where I pointed out a few things from my childhood and made her laugh by citing both the shed and the club house that had gotten so infested with wild animals that they’d had to be demolished. As we neared the front of the house, I disappeared to go take care of something at the gas station down the street, which was where I found…

…Jonathan Coulton was randomly playing at a gas station in Northern Michigan! He was all by himself save for a manager-type guy who was hovering by him, but didn’t seem to mind as I first stopped just to verify what my eyes were seeing, then did my best to frame up a tweet so that I could post that I’d just seen Jonathan Coulton playing at a gas station in Northern Michigan!

I had trouble lining up the photo with all of the gas pumps, so when his song ended, I asked him quite frankly what in the world he was doing there, to which he cited that actually a lot of his band mates lived in the area, so it was easiest way for him to work on his new album by coming to where they all were. We chatted for a while because not a lot of other people were recognizing him, and then things got really weird when I asked if he wanted to go into space with me… 😯

Of course, being the awesome guy that Jonathan Coulton is, he graciously accepted my invitation without hesitation, and by then a couple of his band mates showed up and they wanted to come, too. We went somewhere to a ship that we called the Arcadia, which kind of resembled a group of seats from a roller coaster where all of the seats had pull-down harnesses, and everything was in white. Inside the dream, it reminded me very much of a Calvin & Hobbes adventure, as if deep down somehow we all knew that we were just imagining together, but it didn’t matter and for all tends and purposes, we were going to space!

Except that we didn’t, and once we blasted off, we visited other places on Earth instead. I don’t remember them all because this is when I started to wake up, but somehow I remember traveling to visit Moe and Principal Skinner from The Simpsons. I’m sure that we went other possibly less fictional places as well, and I’d like to think that somewhere along the way maybe we stopped and picked up Miss Parker because let’s be honest, chicks dig space ships, but that’s when I woke up and rushed to write down the epic dream of where I not only flirted with my grade school teacher crush, but then also got to (sort of) go into space with Jonathan Coulton.  :mrgreen:

Happy Holidays from the TSA

December 28, 2013 1:04pm
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I’d love to know who’s bringing goldfish and ice skates and cherry pies on the plane when my knees are knocking against the seat in front of me for each horrible, 2 hour and 40 minute jaunt through the air…  🙄

Back to the Future … an acoustic melody

December 26, 2013 8:34pm
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“Marty, we’ve got to go back – it’s your children!”

“What, do they turn out to be assholes or something?!”

“No, worse – bass players!”

Ahhhh, just kidding … but this acoustic rendering of the Back to the Future theme is super pretty. I think you’re gonna like it… 😀

Last post of the advent blog … because Santa don’t settle for no store-bought cookies!

Three varieties of cookies baked in the Sevener household this holiday season:

Better get these plated so that I can hit the hay and the big man can do his job… 😀

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All of the other reindeer ARE jerks!!!

December 24, 2013 11:22pm
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Right?! I was thinking this exact thought when we were listening to the song on our way over to Disney last weekend – it’s like, “Who the hell do these other reindeer think that they are?! Sure, you like me when you need me, but every other non-foggy Christmas, I’m chopped liver who can’t even play a goddamn game of monopoly with you all every once in a while?!?!?!”

I guess it would’ve made a slightly less family-friendly song, though, if Rudolph had been all, “Fuck you guys – lead your own damn sleigh all around the world in zero visibility! I’ve got a tumor on the end of my nose – I don’t need this shit…”

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Had another ultrasound this morning, this time taking an in depth look at how our little guy’s heart is developing, which amazingly is only the size of your thumbnail, despite the pictures that we looked at that got down to the details showing the individual valves hard at work inside!

Amazing, really.

So here’s the thing – the doctor thinks that there might be a small chance that he has a hole in his heartwhich on the surface sounds kind of terrifying, but at this point I’ve been told that it’s not something to be too worried about because it’s apparently one of the most common heart defects that babies have. And mind you, that’s not exactly the part that helps, but the doctor herself pretty much mentioned it just in case and admitted that it wasn’t even visible from all of the angles in the ultrasound images, so it could very well be nothing. And even if it is something, I guess in many cases they often close themselves up as the heart grows … and only in a small number of cases is something like surgery required.

Anyways, at the end of the day the entire reason why we’re also seeing the high risk doctor is to be conscious of this kind of stuff, and according to my nurse wife, if this is the worst thing that we have to deal with, we’re still doing pretty great … so we’ll just have to see where it goes from here. Next ultrasound with these folks is 4 weeks from now, when we’ll do a follow-up and see if the hole is any more pronounced, and I guess at that point we’ll go from there.

Nonetheless, back in happy land it’s kind of hard to believe that we’re past the halfway point and only have a little more than four months before we’re ready to introduce this little guy to the world! When you take a step back to consider the breadth of how far we’ve come since we started trying a few years ago to the image above that we took of our little baby boy in the making just this morning, if that isn’t a true blue miracle, I don’t know what one is…

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so about this whole Duck Dynasty thing…

December 24, 2013 5:16pm
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I wasn’t going to comment on all of this Duck Dynasty hoopla because I don’t really care for the show in the first place, but after seeing so many misinformed arguments about why we’re supposed to Stand with Phil on Facebook over the weekend, it started rubbing me the wrong way to where I need to get a couple of things off my chest…

1. Freedom of Speech is between People and Government, not People and Private Businesses.
Despite what constitutional ambulance chaser Sarah Palin wants to tell you, this issue has absolutely nothing to do with the 1st amendment. Phil Robertson did not go to jail for what he said about homosexuality, nor was he questioned by the police or detained against his will or audited by the IRS or anything else. He has the same ability to express his opinions today that he had a week ago.

Granted, he’s currently suspended from the role that he holds in his hit TV show, but that’s something very different because while Phil Robertson does have the constitutional right to say whatever he wants, A&E isn’t obligated to give him their microphone to express those beliefs.

2. Celebrity jobs aren’t the same as yours and my jobs.
So how can an employer get away with firing somebody because of their religion?!

Well, A) again, suspended, not fired, and B) being a star on a television show is not the same as working in a cubical farm or at a retail store or most other jobs like you or I have – in fact, unless your job involves an employment contract, you really can’t compare the two here because while no, your boss can’t walk in one day and just fire you for being a Christian, what the head of a giant media company can likely do is walk in and say, “Whoa – I don’t like the negative media that you’re building around our brand … you’ve gotta go.”

It’s called a morals clause and they’re pretty common in entertainment-type jobs because let’s face it, if you’re going to trust a million-dollar brand with somebody, you’re going to want certain protections in place to ensure that if that person decides to go rogue and potentially do damage to your gigantic cash cow, you need to be able to show them the door. And yes, those who support what Robertson said will probably get a little riled up at the idea of quoting the bible being immoral, but don’t look at it so much in that light as simply causing unnecessary distraction that the corporation would want to avoid.

That whole “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” saying is kind of bullshit – just ask Tiger Woods or Paula Deen.

3. Duck Dynasty probably isn’t going anywhere.
But most importantly of all, you notice how aside from those initial statements, everybody else is the only ones actually talking about all of this?!

First the interview from GQ ran with the quotes that started it all.

Then A&E released a statement saying that they were disappointed and that he would be suspended.

Then the family released a statement saying that they couldn’t imagine doing the show without him.

And that’s all that the two parties who matter in all of this have actually said – everything else is just buzz by the media and the fans and people like me who felt like blogging about it just for the sake of having something to write about! 😉

At the end of the day, A&E’s got quite the task on their hands here because I’ll guarantee you that they don’t want to take their highest rating show of all-time off the air, and yet they don’t want to be classified as being insensitive to the gay community, either. Anyone who’s walked through a Walmart this holiday season knows that you can’t walk three feet without seeing something else with their beards plastered on it and right now Americans are eating up the Duck Dynasty brand hand over fist! They’d be crazy to disrupt that cash cow as long as the goodies keep flowing, so their best tactic is to simply wait it out and with any luck, by New Years we’ll have all moved on to something completely different and the Duck Dynasty brand can continue raking in the millions without another glance.

That is, unless he goes and says something stupid again, mind you… 😛

Because here’s the thing – *I* think that what he said was pretty stupid and disrespectful towards gays, and don’t even get me started on the comments that he’s made about segregation and whatnot, but I’m not really a regular watcher of the show, so it doesn’t really matter what I think about another private citizen’s public comments. If you want to be pissed at A&E for taking the action that they did over what he said, feel free to do so – just don’t call it a violation of his free speech because it really isn’t. Call it an overreaction or disrespectful to believers in the bible or whatever else you want, but the Constitution has nothing to do with it.

That said, I would pose that maybe the reason that a lot of fans are upset about what’s taking place is that this has been a very public example of a large corporation saying, “No, that’s not acceptable and we don’t want to offend our other fans by associating with words like that…” – which is stirring because it’s the bible and a whole lot of people believe in it. And frankly I think that it’s an important dialog to be having because for a long time these people have hid behind the bible by saying things like “hate the sin, love the sinner” while denying them the same rights that they enjoy, and as our social makeup becomes more diverse, people are finally starting to say, “Wait a minute – my brother is gay, or my friend is gay, or my mailman is gay, and I love them, and how dare you say that they’re going to hell  just because of who they are.”

The bible says plenty of other not so nice things for those of us who don’t necessarily believe in it, and I think that if you’re going to follow every word that’s in that book to the letter, then it’s time to understand that other people are occasionally going to start calling you on it because society is growing more tolerant of things that the bible seems to be against. Even among their own ranks, people take the bible to varying degrees of seriousness and follow some parts more strongly than others, so this idea that 2 billion followers of Christ are united against something like homosexuality doesn’t exactly hold water, and although those who do subscribe to the literal word of God without exception are certainly right to believe whatever they like, just as Phil Robertson’s Freedom of Speech itself wasn’t infringed by the things that he said, that doesn’t in turn mean that he enjoys a freedom from consequence with regards to the public reception of those beliefs.

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