Saturday in the Park – A Stroll Through the Blogosphere

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Happy Saturday everyone.  Join me for a stroll through the park, a collection of blogs from the past week that created static in my airwaves.  My mashup is a buffet of sorts from some of the best blogs and most talented bloggers I follow:

Looking for a different take on Santa’s naughty or nice list?  Check out August McLaughlin’s Naughty & Nice: Confessions of a Relative Goody-Goody.  This “adult” version of Santa’s list is terrific fun.  August lists several outrageous and daring stunts that she may or may not have committed.  You, the reader are given the task to pick which are true and which are not.  This talented writer’s blog was a favorite this week.  August is a former model and some of her exploits are rather revealing.  Or are they?  On Tuesday she will reveal the truth.

Some of you may be aware that I took an on-line social networking class taught by the Jedi Master of all social networking guru’s – Kristen Lamb.  She is the best-selling author of two outstanding books: WE ARE NOT ALONE – The Writers Guide to Social Media and ARE YOU THERE Blog? It’s Me, Writer.  If you are searching for a little inspiration on this Saturday and if the stress of the holiday season is getting to you, read Kristen’s latest blog Great Expectations.  When the world has you waist deep in horse sh*t look for the pony!

Did your honeymoon goes as planned?  Was it everything you envisioned?  For one nervous woman’s tale read Lisa Hall-Wilson’s blog Ceiling Mirrors and Faux Fur.  Lisa’s blog will have you rolling in laughter as she recounts that memorable night.

If you’re in the holiday spirit and looking for a nice, heartwarming story then head over to Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride and read A Christmas Tail.  Everyone loves a story with a happy ending!

Are you a parent dealing with the when do I tell my children the truth about Santa?  Head over to Myndi Shafer’s blog and read the guest post written by Debra KristiThe Time of Innocence Lost.  Debra does a wonderful job with her article and truly captures the spirit of Christmas and what all parent’s eventually go through.

There you have it, a sampling of the best of the best out there in the blogosphere.  I hope you click the links and read from these immensely talented writers.  If you like them well enough, and I think you will, click their follow icons and you won’t miss another blog!

Happy Saturday in the Park everybody.  Only 15 more days till Christmas.  I hope you have all your shopping done and aren’t spending the weekend in a mall parking lot!  Unfortunately, I still have a bit more to get, so if you see me out and about, and if I look a little disheveled, stop me and let’s go have a beer.

I Caught Santa Claus Part II

Tags

, , , , , , ,

In Tuesday’s blog, we discussed Trying to Catch Santa Claus.  As a child, year after year I tried to catch Santa and failed every time. Today I unveil the mystery and show how you can catch the elusive bearded man, as well. 

But, first things first. As parents, we all have either gone through this or will have to someday soon.  For me, that day is coming again very soon.  That dreaded day that you either inform your child that Santa is not real, or the day you must confess, that yes indeed, you are Santa Claus.  That sad and dreaded day of the innocence lost, forever.  For a great blog about this timely subject, please read Debra Kristi’s blog, The Time of Innocence Lost, as she appeared as a guest blogger on Myndi Shafer’s blog Blogging Barefoot

The Christmas countdown clock is on.  Panic begins to set in.  The shopping list is nowhere near complete, and most of the items are out of stock.  Your child’s most desired item on his or her list may or may not be available before Christmas.  You begin to curse the whole process.  You curse the companies that have no clue about the laws of supply and demand.  You ignore the bell ringers outside every store.  You look at the long lines of kids in the mall waiting for a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and just want to scream…”HE’S NOT REAL KIDDIES”…Slowly you begin to turn into that green, hairy creature – The Grinch!  Your pocketbook and budget are stretched to their limits.  You begin to look for that dreaded fruitcake and promise yourself that this year you are going to send one to your in-laws.

As you drive home, empty-handed, and darkness has come to soon (damn Daylight Savings time) you begin to take in the lights of your neighborhood.  The radio is playing non-stop holiday music.  You see all the hard work your neighbors have put into decorating their houses and the magic begins to return.  Christmas is not about you.  It’s about the children.  If they still believe, well then, I still believe.

Your children are getting to the age that their little minds are starting to put two and two together.  The gifts from Santa last year bore a resemble to mom or dad’s handwriting.  There is no way this fat guy can fit down our chimney, and there is no way possible he could deliver presents to every boy and girl around the world.  They realize there is no naughty or nice list.  How else are they to explain why the older brother/sister received any presents last year?

Your parenting skills are put to the utmost test.  You have to think on your feet and quick.  How do I make little Johnny or Susie believe, if not for just one more year?

The answer lies here: icaughtsanta.com

In just three easy steps, you can produce a photo (for $9.99) of Santa in your living room, next to the fireplace, by the Christmas tree, or by the stockings.  All you have to do is take a picture and upload it to the site.  You then have 20 Santa poses to choose from.  Choose your ideal pose and place it on the photo.  You can size Santa to make him proportionately correct and even adjust the color of his red suit.  Then order the photo.

On Christmas day, you have the story of all stories to tell your children.

You Caught Santa Claus!!

Look into your children’s eyes as they stare at the photo of Santa standing by their very own tree, maybe just maybe, you can picture yourself at the same age, when you still believed.

Trying to Catch Santa Claus – Part 1

Tags

, , , , ,

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The Children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads…”

Um, the kids are not nestled snug in their beds.  Not on the night before Christmas.

Children from all around the world are huddled in their rooms, planning and plotting as you read this.  This year they plan to finally catch jolly ol’ St. Nick in the act of delivering presents under the tree.  Past attempts were met with good intentions, but always failed.

You did your best to stay up late into the night, flashlights were hidden under each pillow, listening for the sounds of sleigh bells and reindeer.  You waited.  The only sounds that came that night were the sounds you heard every night from your parents bedroom down the hall.  There was no mistaking the sounds of dad snoring.

By the time you willed your eyes to open it was always too late.  With flashlight in hand, you and your siblings crept down the stairs or down the hallway as quietly as you could, trying your best to keep the beam of light in front of you and not pointed at mom and dad’s room.  You peered around the corner and spotted the Christmas tree.  Your eyes rolled over each and every present.  The excitement grew, the anticipation was too much.  You moved closer to the tree.  You marveled at the brightly colored new presents all wrapped and placed perfectly under the tree.  The large box with your name on the tag held your curiosity.  But so did the mysterious and elusive Santa Claus.  Once again, he got away.

Have you ever wondered how many kids around the world have tried to catch Santa Claus?  I bet the number is well into the millions.  Over one million attempts and over one million failures.

Not to shabby for an overweight older man.

I remember my own attempts of catching a glimpse of the jolly one.  One year I decided to tie a string around my big toe and have the line run into the living room.  The other end of the string was fastened to a spot on the wall.  Santa would have to walk past the taut line which would then pull and tug at my toe.  Didn’t work.  At some point in the night, the pain coming from my foot was too much,  forcing me to untie the string.  My toe had swollen and had begun to turn an unnatural color.  Yep, the string was way too tight.  Once again, the elusive one remained out of my grasps.

Several days ago while watching television with my children my youngest daughter, aged nine, out of nowhere blurted out to all in the living room, that she knows that Santa Claus is real.  No one was discussing Christmas or Santa.  I was interested in why her little mind decided that now was the time to make such a proclamation.  I asked her how she knows this.  With the confidence of a child much older and showing off a pride at her discovery, she explained her logic.  “We always leave a big glass of milk out for Santa.  Well I know Dad doesn’t like to drink milk.  I know Mama K doesn’t like milk either.  So it has to be Santa drinking the milk.”

There you have it.  The logic of a nine-year old child.  Taking such a complex mystery and whittling it down to the most basic element.  Who is drinking the milk?

I guess it’s a good thing we don’t leave a can of cold beer or a glass of wine for Santa.

So what clever attempts did you make as a child to catch Santa Claus?  Have you caught your kids planning or plotting yet?  I would love for you to share any hijinks from  your childhood memories.  I find it interesting and immensely amusing the way a child’s mind works and to what lengths they will go to capture a glimpse of the most elusive St. Nick.

Part II of Trying to Catch Santa Claus will appear on Thursday.  Who knows, maybe a comment or two could work its way into the blog.  But I will reveal the one sure-fire, honest-to-goodness way to catch Santa Claus.  Stay tuned for this stunning revelation!!

Book vs Movie: To Kill A Mockingbird

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

“I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds.  Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  — Atticus Finch

I was somewhat reluctant to start my new series Book vs Movie with a novel written in 1960.  I debated about starting with something a bit more current, but the choice would be so random, that it didn’t make a sensible place to start the début of the weekly Monday blog.  It made perfect sense to start with an all-time classic, a novel with such personal significance.

Realistically, any debate over which was better, the book or the movie, would be short-lived.  Of course, to avid readers, the book is always better than anything Hollywood could adapt to the big screen.  If anything, the movie just helps to popularize the novel.  So we begin with the understanding that this  blog will not necessarily debate the qualifications of each production, but rather examine each individually.

As a boy, my reading consisted of my local paper’s sports section, and if a book report were required I would read a sport star’s autobiography.  On rare occurrence, I might venture to read and report about Kit Carson or Daniel Boone.  But the summer before entering ninth grade at the all-boys Catholic high school my world was rattled.  Seems the big and intimidating school required us to read To Kill A Mockingbird before the summer was over.

This made no sense at the time.  Why in the world should we read something before school actually started?  I knew right away this school would be different, and not in a good way.  We would later spend a large portion of freshman english examining the novel and testing over it.

Sometimes, blessings come when you least expect it.  To this day, I still count the novel written by Harper Lee as my all-time favorite.  I can’t say I enjoyed much of anything else the next four years at that school, least of all the beatings that came at the hands of the Priests, or at least one Priest in particular.  Four years of high school with no girls was not fun.

However, the joy’s of reading began that summer, and I will always be thankful that my eyes were opened to a world that did not exist in the local sports page.

You know that feeling when you walk outdoors on a cool, crisp autumn afternoon, and the leaves are turning a bright orange and yellow color, and you can smell, somewhere off in the distance, the wood burning in someone’s fireplace?  That’s the feeling I get every time I reread this novel.

The Novel

From the opening words of the first chapter, narrated by Scout, you are taken back in time, to a place that no longer exists, except for our imagination.  The overall tone from the narration settles you and comforts you like the distant smells of fall.  By page three, you have a clear understanding of the setting of the story.  “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it…A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer.  There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb Country.”

The classic can be summarized as a lawyer defending a black man charged with rape of a white woman in the depression-era South.  To accept that is true, but it is about so, so much more.  A more accurate summary would be the end of innocence as a father tries his best to shield his children from the ugliness of evil in the world.  It’s a novel about seeing people for who they truly are,  for both the  good and evil in all of us.  It’s about one man’s struggles to stand up against a force much larger than he – racial inequality – and the consequences of doing so.  We follow a three-year period as Scout struggles to come to terms with the world around her as we witness the evolution of her reactions, from fighting back and against, to a level of acceptance of certain troubling issues.

The Movie

Rarely does a classic or best-selling novel transform into an award-winning movie.  However, the adaptation of this novel did just that.  The black and white movie, released in 1962, was a box office hit and earned three Academy Awards.  The success of the movie began with Horton Foote’s screenplay which had the impossible task of tackling the issues and tone of the novel. “I think it’s one of the best translations of a book to film ever made,” Harper Lee once said.  Foote’s work earned him an Academy Award.

The next element in the movie’s success is the casting.  The choice of Gregory Peck, and not the studio’s choice of Rock Hudson, was perfect and crucial to the film’s success.  Harper Lee went as far to say that the role of Finch was perfect for Peck, for all he had to do was play himself.  Quite a compliment.  Peck even went as far as paying a visit to Lee’s father, the model for Atticus, during his research for the role.  The critics agreed with Lee and honored Peck with the Academy Award for Best Actor.  The rest of the cast was equally superb.

The Winner

Of course, the book is better, but if there ever were a chance for a movie to equal that of the novel it was based upon and a tie be granted, this would be that rarefied opportunity.

Summary

The book was published in 1960 and the next year earned a Pulitzer Prize.  The following year it was brought to the big screen.  Sadly, that is the last we ever read from Harper Lee.  She did travel to Holcomb, Kansas with childhood friend, Truman Capote, to help him with research on a story he was working on, which later became his best-selling novel In Cold Blood in 1966.  Lee never wrote another novel after To Kill A Mockingbird.  Perhaps she knew that it would be impossible to top her début novel.  Maybe the sales of the book and movie were enough to keep her content, retire while on top.  Or, maybe the reasons are much more complicated than that, only Harper Lee knows why she never gave us the pleasure of reading more of her beautifully written words.  Maybe, once you have visited the mountain top, and published a classic, there just isn’t anything else to say (or write).  Harper Lee made her mark in literature, and we are all better for it.  Shame that we don’t have more.

So what do you think?  Is it an insult to even presume that the movie version can compare to the novel?  Or do you agree, in this one rare instance, that we can declare the movie equally as entertaining as the printed words?  Can we agree that both are timeless classics and deserve continued revisits?

Saturday in the Park – A Stroll Through the Blogosphere

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Welcome to my first attempt at a Mashup.  This is my Saturday stroll through the park, a collection of blogs from the past week that created static in my airwaves.  My mashup is a buffet of sorts from some of the best blogs and most talented bloggers I follow:

Writers In The Storm – This site not only has the coolest picture on any blog I read, but a way cool and always a wonderful place to stop and read. The blog – Deserted Island Books – is what the title suggests.  If you were stranded on a deserted island, what ten books would you take with you?  Fun to think about, and harder to choose than you would think.  Can you choose ten?

Jenny Hansen’s Blog – Cowbell You Need More Of It – If you’re looking for laughs this is THE spot to visit.  Jenny is the Richard Pryor of bloggers.  She is consistently funny, her mind tends to veer to the gutter, but in a fun way.  Her blog this week 10 Creative Ways To Express Your “Inner F-Bomb” was one of my favorites. And, if reading only one of Jenny’s blogs has you begging for more, then get your fix with Can A Cup O’ Joe Make Your Man A ‘Ho’?  Follow the exploits of Married Maurice, a really great tool.

Another talented and creative blogger I love to read is Myndi Shafer – Blogging Barefoot.  For a quick giggle you have to check out Shopping For Idiots a hilarious shopping mall prank. Perfect for the Christmas season.

Have you ever eaten something only to find out later what it actually was?  In the talented Jessica O’Neal blog site she writes about that very thing, and you will not believe what she actually ate!  To find out more you need to read the hilarious (Mis) Adventures in Eating.  

Looking to make your next e-harmony video?  Do you love cats?  You need to watch the video in Tameri Etherton’s Blog – A Cup of Tea and Sorcery, because, well, this girl really loves cats!  Good stuff!

Looking for a great holiday baking idea?  Have you ever tried Poppycock?  No, that isn’t something from Jenny Hansen’s blog! but a recipe provided by Sheila Seabrook.  To read her warm recollections of her father and how to make this delicious sounding Christmas gift follow the recipe on her blog here.

When you were a child, did you ever promise not to grow up and be like your parents, only to find out, you did just that?  For an insightful look at this check out Debra Kristi’s Blog Sparks in the Fireand read her blog My Father I Am?

On a more serious note, you really need to stop by and visit Karen McFarland’s blog.  We all know how poor the economy is right now and our sympathies go out to all those without this Christmas season.  In a scene that is somewhat reminiscent to the mass exodus of Okies headed to California during the Dust Bowl days described in John Steinbeck’s novel, read what is going on in Williston, North Dakota.  You won’t believe the sacrifices people are making in order to earn a paycheck in her blog My Address is the Walmart Parking Lot.

There you have it, a sampling of the best of the best out there in the blogosphere.  I hope you click the links and read from these very talented writers.  If you like it well enough, and I think you will, click their follow icons and you won’t miss another blog!

Happy Saturday in the Park everybody.  I hope you are nowhere near a mall right now!

Jimi Hendrix & Devil Dogs To The Rescue

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Jimi Hendrix should have turned 69 years old this week.  Hard to imagine what the psychedelic rock star would look like or sound like today.

Sadly, due to his drug overdose, we will never know.

In late summer of 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released its first album Are You Experienced.  The début record was an instant hit and featured classic rock staples such as Purple Haze, Hey Joe, Foxey Lady, Fire and several other hits.

Thirteen years later, on a hot summer afternoon, I popped my 8-track tape into the stereo of my Chevy Blazer and headed for the Post Office.  I was working a summer job on a farm in Brookshire, Texas, a short drive west of my hometown of Houston.  My memories are still vivid as I headed into town during my lunch break, the music turned up loud, and my windows rolled down.  Headed down the road with the music pumping I appeared to be just another wise-ass teenager.  But, deep down inside, I was apprehensive.

Seems that, in July of 1980, President Jimmy Carter made all of us a little apprehensive, when he signed Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act, which retroactively re-established the Selective Service.  Every young man in this country was given 30 days to register for the draft, following our 18th birthdays.

“Purple haze all in my brain

 Lately things just don’t seem the same”

I placed my name on the dotted line and headed back to work.  The music was a little louder on the way back.  Of course, all the worry was for nothing, after all.  The draft still remains dormant since the Vietnam War.  We never went to war against our country’s biggest threat, the Soviet Union.  Leaders from both countries kept their finger off that BIG nuclear trigger button.

The commies have since done themselves in, without the aid of a single soldier from my generation fighting on a foreign soil.

We were lucky, I suppose.  We didn’t have to face the destruction of a war.  We were allowed to keep living our simple little lives, which at the time, were consumed with college destinations, women and where the next party was.  No doubt about it.  We were lucky back then.

But, duty, and service to our country, still calls out today.  Our enemies aren’t as clearly defined as they once were.  We can’t even pronounce most of their names anymore.  The issues facing us, from our enemies of the new millennium, are far more complex.

This Sunday, my daughter’s husband will be asked to pack his bags and deploy once again to defend our country.  This will be his second tour, and despite what the president tells the American public, we are still deploying troops.  The threats facing our nation are far from over.  Don’t let the media fool you.  They are not all coming home soon.  We still need to keep them in our prayers.

My daughter’s husband is a member of 1st Battalion 4th Marines Alpha Company.  The tattoo on his arm is the Alpha Raiders logo.  They call themselves Devil Dogs.  The moniker was used by German soldiers during World War I to describe US Marines who fought in the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918.  The Marines fought with such ferocity that the Germans likened them to Teufelshunde – “Dogs from Hell.”

He’s your typical All-American Marine.  Disciplined.  Focused.  Eager.  Hard as steel and posses a total dedication to his country.  He’s a devoted husband to my daughter.

He will miss his first Christmas with his new wife.  My daughter will undoubtedly go through emotional tough times, missing him, worrying about him.  Her family will stand by her side and give her all the support she needs.

Selfishly, I felt lucky back in 1980.  Only this time, we all are lucky.  Lucky to have men and women who give the ultimate sacrifice of themselves for this country’s freedoms.

Jimi came to my rescue in the summer of 1980.  Sunday, twin Devil Dogs, will come to a country’s rescue.

I wish Ryan and his twin brother Riley safe returns.  We are all proud of them.  We will send our care packages.  We will send our love.  We will send our prayers.

If you enjoyed reading this blog, don’t forget you can automatically follow this blog by clicking on the “Follow Blog Via Email” icon at the top right of this post.  Feel free to share this with your friends and family.  If you wish, share it with your friends on Facebook.  As we enter this holiday season and season of thanks, lets not forget our brave young men and women.  May God Bless Them All!

Can You Live Without…

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

What can you live without?  More specifically, what are you willing to live without?

Today’s world changes in a nano second.  We are caught up in a race that is never-ending, and yet, we continue to run the race.  Technology changes so fast.  We are able to keep abreast of the latest scandal or late breaking news with nothing more than a cell phone in our hand.  With social media we know where are friends are eating and what they are thinking.

Everywhere you go, people are walking the streets like obsessed robots, eyes transfixed to the latest device being held tightly in our hand.  We try to walk and read at the same time.  We text and drive at the same time.  Our minds so wrapped into the hand-held device we miss conversations directed towards us.  We bump into each other.  We are all so intrigued with the little world we hold in our hands that we are missing the real world around us.

Numerous times I have been at a restaurant and noticed a parent completely ignoring their child.  Why?  The cell phone.  Reading messages.  Sending texts.  Meanwhile, little Johnny tosses his mac n cheese dinner on the floor, trying to get the parent’s attention.  Soon the plate is empty, and everywhere, parents are handing out clean plate awards.  Johnny remains hungry and fussy.  The parent sends a text to someone more important than their child, that Johnny must be going through a growth spurt.

I witnessed a parent at a little league baseball game this past summer bring his laptop to the game.  He sat in the bleachers the entire game with the device open, never once looking up to watch his son with a bat in his hand. True story.  I came oh so close to slamming the computer shut on his hands and slapping the dad up side the head.  I didn’t do it, but I sure wanted to.

What can you really live without?

Can you live without food or water?  Can you live without the mall or shopping?  How long can you go without your wine or other favorite adult beverage?  Can you live without your Kindle or iPad?

Would your world come to an end if you had no cell phone reception for six days?  Would the apocalypse be declared if you were unable to get access to the internet for six days?  Could you survive without a cell phone and internet for six days?

Could Bear Grylls, a seasoned adventurer, and star of the Discovery Channel’s show Man vs. Wild, survive under such extreme conditions?

What in the world would we do with so much free time?

Over the duration of the Thanksgiving holidays, that is what 16 members of our family were forced to find out.  We had gathered in South Texas, in a remote area along the Rio Grande, with Mexico visible on the horizon.  We knew in advance that cell phone reception would be very, very limited.  We were given no warning that the internet would be out.  The children were not mentally prepared for such sacrifice.  But guess what?

For six days, we all survived just fine.  No cell phones.  No internet.

No one went into detox.  Medications were never dispersed for tremors.  None of the children were found balled up in the fetal position.  The night sweats never came.

It probably went unnoticed, but we spent more time together in the giant living room.  We held long conversations with each other.  Many family members had books open and read for hours.  We were active outside all day.  We stayed at the large dining table long after the meals were completed.  Stories were told.  Laughter echoed throughout the house.

For six days, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents spent the holidays old school style – acting like a real family!

And no one complained.  Not once did I hear or see a teenager throwing a fit out of frustration.  There were no freak outs.  We simply just shared our time together.

No one got pepper-sprayed fighting over a Black Friday discount item.  No one was assaulted or shot in a Walmart parking lot.  The social media IV that is permanently hooked into our vein was unplugged.  And for six glorious days we didn’t care, or need to know

About the worse thing to come of it all were the 187 emails in my inbox.  I am behind in my writing, and have 51 blogs to read while I was away.

Such small sacrifices to make.

What about you?  Can you make it six days without a cell phone or internet?  Would we need to call an intervention?  Would you need to pack a straight jacket just in case the withdrawals got too far out of hand?

Reasons to Read – Your Childhood Favorite

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Time to play the Book that Made a Difference game.

Last Monday’s blog discussed the importance of parents reading to their children.  The blog was a reminder to us all – whether we are a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother, sister or grandparent – that it is our job collectively, and not the school systems, to get children to read.  I mentioned best-selling author James Paterson’s superb site: www.readkiddoread.com

Since last Monday’s blog, children’s book author, Julie Hedlund, brought another fantastic web site to my attention.  I mentioned the difficulties of trying to get my son interested in books, and she recommended Jon Scieszka’s site:  www.guysread.com.  The web site is a wonderful resource to use and is full of book titles, broken into many categories, such as Classics that Actually Hold Up; Mysterious Occurrences; Dragons and of course, Sports.

Through Julie’s fabulous blog site – Write Up My Life – I also discovered two other terrific sites to use:  www.bookdads.com and www.the childrensbookreview.com

While browsing through these websites, I thought back to the books I enjoyed reading as a child.  There is no way to remember everything our parents read to us, but one book in particular, truly stands out in my memory – The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesch.  Two of her works of historical fiction, The Courage of Sarah Noble (1954) and The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (1952) won Newberry honors.  I have since bought the book several more times and have read it to my children.  Despite its 1952 publishing date, the story still holds up well, and all my children have thoroughly enjoyed the tale.

Is there  a book from your childhood that you can pinpoint as pivotal to opening the gates of reading joy?  Have you passed that book on to your children, as well?  Was there a particular book that your children read that opened the flood gates and brought your child into the world of words?

Ladies, Good Luck Finding the TV Remote This Weekend

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Thanksgiving is more than turkey and dressing.

The holiday is much, much more than a day of giving thanks.

While family gatherings are fun (for a limited time), full stomachs even better, nothing can top a four-day weekend like non-stop football.  The only thing possibly better would be a large flat screen TV with surround sound next to the dinning room table, to keep the chatty mother-in-law tuned out.

Four straight days of college and professional football.  From sun up to well past sun down!  All across the country, men will take control of, and, if necessary, hide the remote.  Hey, enough of the parades, give us the channel switcher.

So here is your ultimate viewing guide for all football lovers.

(All times listed are ET)

Thursday, November 24

#25 Texas @ Texas A&M  This day is usually set aside for traditional college rivalries and three professional games.  I spent many afternoons watching Oklahoma and Nebraska battle it out, but they no longer play each other, which is a shame and travesty for college football traditions.  Instead, for one last year, the featured college game of the day will be the Texas Longhorns traveling to College Station, Texas to take on heated, and hated, rival the Texas A&M Aggies.  Game starts at 7 pm. on ESPN.  This should be a heck of a game to watch.  The Aggies are leaving the conference they have shared for so long with the Longhorns.  The state’s two largest schools will no longer play after this season.  Shame on both schools for acting like two grade school children fighting in the sandbox.  Expect a great deal of hostilities on the field.  Skip the leftovers during this game, anything may happen.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions  12:30  Fox   The first of three NFL games on Thursday.  For years, we have had to watch the pathetic Lions play on turkey day.  Now, they finally have a talented team, a team many would label as dirty, as they host the defending Super Bowl champs.  Key match up: Lions DT Ndamukong Suh vs. Packer QB Aaron Rogers.

Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys  4:15  CBS  Since 1966 the Cowboys have played on Thanksgiving day every year but two.  This year finds the Cowboys on a surge, in part thanks to rookie running back DeMarco Murray’s breakout performances.  America’s Team should continue their late season push against a Miami team that lost its first seven games.  NAP ALERT: This game should be a yawner by halftime and may be a good time to take a break.

San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens  8:20  NFL Network  Of the three NFL games today, this game gives me the least amount of excitement.  The surprising 49ers lead the NFC West and travel to take on the unpredictable Ravens.  How will 49er quarterback Alex Smith perform against the Ray Lewis led Raven defense.  Fellas, if you have to spend time with the family, or help put the leftovers away, this would be a decent game to show what a congenial family man you are around the house.

Friday. November 25

There are quite a few college games today, but only two televised games featuring ranked teams.

Iowa @ #21 Nebraska  12 noon  ABC   Nebraska is coming off an embarrassing loss to Michigan.  Iowa and the Cornhuskers are currently tied for third in the Legends division of the conference.  If your football viewing hours are in limbo, forcing you to pick and choose games carefully today, skip this one and lobby for the next.

#3 Arkansas at #1 LSU  2:30  CBS  The top-ranked Tigers vaunted defense will finally face a team with an offense.  National title hopes are on the line in this SEC game.  With three Top 5 teams falling this past weekend, Arkansas is in the middle of national championship discussions.  With a stout defense and home field advantage, don’t look for LSU to fall out of the top spot.

Saturday, November 26

Six games featuring ranked teams will be today.

Iowa State @ #9 Oklahoma  12  FX  

#2 Alabama @ #24 Auburn  3:30  CBS

Oregon State @ #10 Oregon  3:30  ABC

#17 Clemson @ #12 South Carolina  7:45  ESPN

Notre Dame @ #6 Stanford  8  ABC

On Sunday, the regular NFL schedule resumes with 12 games followed by the Monday Night Football telecast.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays.  May your refrigerator and cupboards be stocked full, may there be plenty of turkey for left over sandwiches, may you have plenty of cool whip for the pies, and may you enjoy your time spent with family but, please don’t come looking for the remote.