Penniless Tim

December 4, 2011

Christmas 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tim @ 11:46 pm

Dear Family, friends, neighbors, and all who believe everything they read on the internet,

It’s been a very quiet year for the Scotts, unless you count quitting your job, selling the family house, moving to North Carolina, and starting a new career as something out of the ordinary. Selling the house was a piece of cake (739 showings with 1 lowball offer three times over) and the new job gave Tim more jitters than his first date with Michelle (but he couldn’t bring his friend along with him this time). The house miraculously sold (prayers answered), Tim’s jittery scale is down to ‘Michelle 3rd date’, and the Scott’s now live in Mayberry with a touch of granola (not a single stop light, five lakes, and a country ice cream, movie rental, fishing bait, and Thursday night wine tasting store).

Gavin’s, Luke’s, Laurel’s, Sophia’s, and Amelia’s Mom (aka Michelle in a previous life) has adjusted nicely into small town life despite the daily 5:07 PM major traffic jam (Aunt Bea pulling out of her driveway). When not busy watching kids, cleaning house, reviewing homework, making dinner, cleaning the garage, walking the dog, changing diapers, or washing clothes, Michelle likes to do something (she just can’t remember what because it’s been so long).

The kid’s Dad (aka Tim in a previous life) still struggles with his verticality – the kids are catching him and Michelle refuses to slump. Luckily, he’s very tall for his height and actually reached the salt shaker on the highest shelf (looking fabulous in Michelle’s leather high heels). In his free time, Tim likes to do whatever Michelle is doing in her free time.

Our eldest, Gavin, devours both meat and books in his free time. During Thanksgiving, he gorged three turkey legs (a stool turkey) and ate the Chronicles of Narnia (fiber keeps him regular). For desert, he gobbled two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. Note to readers – invest in meat (teenage years ahead).

Lego Luke has no idle time. Santa’s elves are hard pressed matching Luke’s productivity. Just last week, he built a mock Lego school bus and eight kids actually boarded (three were kicked off for throwing spit wads and all were late for school). Next week he’s working on a Lego time machine, but we already saw it last week.

Laurel is our mountain climber and adrenaline her middle name. With pony tails flying, she hit 80 driving Luke’s Lego bus (they were late for school). In cheerleading, she volunteered to be at the top of the pyramid (the coach and girls didn’t even know they were doing a pyramid). Amazingly, she always performs her acrobatics while giggling (Cirque Du Soleil shall not be calling).

Sophia is still, well, Violet (as she calls herself). She is the family’s leading scorer in vocabulary, singing, time outs, big kisses, mischief, and bathroom pit stops when travelling. Sophia knows where she wants to go and it’s usually where Mom and Dad don’t want her to go. Although only four, she’s a natural born leader and loves to practice her skill set on two year old Amelia.

Amelia oozes affection. A normal day includes multiple bear hugs for Mom, Dad, sisters, brothers, and Sister Lulu (beloved dog) and that’s just her breakfast routine. She really warms up for bed time! Although not yet three, La Li (as she calls herself) loves playing with her siblings. She reads with Gavin (nearly lost a hand); rides shotgun with Laurel (two speeding tickets); travels with Luke (no need to watch the upcoming super bowl). She is Christmas bundled with Easter wrapped in polka dot pajamas!

May God continue to bless us all!

The Scott Family

January 26, 2011

I’ve moved

Filed under: Blogging — Tim @ 7:37 am

In the middle of the night, I packed up and moved to Tim for Tim. The price was right (free) and the movers cheap. I feel like a slightly updated version of an old statement, “What if a blog fell in the blog forest and no one is around. Does it actually make a ping sound?”

January 21, 2011

Therapeutic writing

Filed under: Humor,writing — Tim @ 11:11 pm

I am in a paradigm reversal and hereby proclaim, “I’m writing to entertain, amuse, and satisfy only one person – myself!”

And Tim said, “Let there be a Penniless Tim blog!’  And it was so.  Venting against a neighbor, I created the Penniless Tim blog as a cheap, non-confrontational, anger management session- a therapeutic written verbalization oxymoron with an anonymous syntax.  I liked writing what I wrote!  It was mental yoga.

Since previous writing ventures were an annual Christmas card (kids want a quarterly Christmas), my subject matter was wide open.  Naive Tim posted a story about speech class and, like they say, everything is found on the internet.  The post had 11 views, one positive comment, and another viewer ‘liked’ the site.  Eleven views without even trying, what if I really tried?  Do you think the New York Times will contact me?  Book deals?  New career?  I achieved a spontaneous, instantaneous internet addiction; WordPress was my crack pipe and people views my fix.  The WordPress dashboard, flush with bar chart statistics, lured me into the dark, sinister, and nefarious blogging world.

I scoured other blog sites using the WordPress website as a jumping off point.  Reading blog postings, I would add a quick comment – a cookie crumb back to my site.  Initially, I read the author’s writings.  Eventually, I half read, half scanned sites intent on leaving an enticing, tasty morsel in the comment section.  Lure these unsuspecting souls back to Penniless Tim where they could read stories of hamsters or mail carriers gone wild.  Membership became required on a facebook group encouraging WordPress posts – email updates around the clock.  I began sneaking onto the computer, glancing at statistics, visualizing throngs reading my writings.  My wife would catch me on the computer and inquire, “What are you looking at?”

“Just looking up old girlfriend’s on facebook and watching a Victoria’s Secrets ad!”, replied I in a lie.

Finally, the hard work payed off as a January 7 post went viral.  35 out of 1,966,514,816 internet users (give or take a user) viewed Penniless Tim – .00000000000508% of the market cornered.  Addiction intensified!  Nicotine, alcohol, nor crystal meth could alleviate the bar chart view craving.  My mind raced into absurd thoughts, “Thirty-five views today, thirty-five million views tomorrow!”

Day after day, hour after hour, I babysat the bar chart as chores were ignored, diapers unchanged, and dinners left untouched.  I screamed at the screen, “Grow bar chart!  Grow @%&# you!  Subscribe, subscribe!  Like my site!  Like me!  Comment, I dare you!”

The evil scientific writer within plotted insidious plans intent on bar chart growth.  Visiting the local library, I navigated to Penniless Tim (one more bar on the chart) and left my site as a favorite on the browser.  Then I posted a story no one can resist – dessert.  The post snared 15 viewers the first day, narrowly missing the 35 million target.  “Bah, ha, ha,” I gleefully chortled, “another 34,999,965 views and victory shall be mine! ”

Day two hooked five viewers followed by a single day three viewer. On day four, I emailed my wife and twenty close relatives with a flashing neon Penniless Tim hyperlink subject line and a message body promising peace in the middle east, a cure for poverty, an end to suffering, and an honest politician if they only visit Penniless Tim.  Would my blog seduction work?  Two views on day four –  a pubescent teenage boy searching for Girls Gone Wild (probably just a bit disappointed) and a nine year old boy seeking hamster training tips.  Was the honest politician promise too far fetched?  Were my emails blocked by a spam filter?  No!  My mother, father, wife, brothers, sisters, simply ignored the blinking bold font hyperlink.  Infuriated, I boldly confronted my wife with a scowl, controlled my passion, and muttered, “Hey Tiger, did you get the email about my latest Penniless Tim link?”

“Oh yeah, I got it,” she calmly replied, ” but I didn’t read it.  You’ve told me all those stories a thousand times.  I’m sure its nice, though.”

The truth dug in its steely claws – the New York Times won’t be calling and the book deal is dead.  My wife won’t even read the blog!  Sadness flooded down as a wave of cold sweat permeated my body, yet I felt a strange sense of relief.  Realities gravity pulled me in from the blogsphere orbit and the pressure of thousand word posts was lifted from computer hunched shoulders.  Realistic goals such as winning the lottery or the kindergarten newsletter mystery writer replaced blogging utopia.  WordPress Posts had become leg lifts with Staff Sergeant Norbeck1, United States Marine Corps, shouting taunts, “Scott, some of us just don’t belong here. Do we?”

Staff Sergeant Norbeck1, United States Marine Corps, was correct.  Blogging should be therapy, not work.  Suddenly, subtle hints previously conveniently ignored became crystal clear.  “I can’t spell penniless or why do you want people to think your poor or it sounds like you were in an accident and became a girl (you will have to think about that one)” burst forth from darkness into the light.  Then Penniless Tim thought of something he hadn’t before!  “Maybe blogging,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a view.  Maybe blogging…perhaps…means a little bit more!  And what happened then…?”2

I am writing for my own enjoyment!  My blog shall be selfish, self serving, and serve its original purpose – an outlet for me.  No longer shall I even contemplate what others think.  If I want to post yesterday’s honey do list or today’s to do list (I repeat myself), I’ll make a post, skip spell check, and ignore punctuation.  If a neighbor kicks my dog, I’ll write a post about it – there’s a 99.9999999999492% he’ll never even see it.  The dashboard is blacklisted and never again will Penniless Tim email announcements flood the Ethernet cloud.  I’m not moderating comments, likes, or subscriptions – write anything you want, subscribe, describe, prescribe, and it’ll post without emails flooding my inbox (well, maybe a light sprinkle was possible).  If I find a great video or picture, it may be post without any description, text, or title because its visually pleasing to me, myself, and I.  And speaking of a novel idea, I may actually write stories on paper with a pencil – call me a radical innovator.

Now one more thing – could there be a worse name than Penniless Tim?  I can’t spell the darn thing and who wants to be poor.  Society struggles spelling I without a spell checker – how can they handle pennilesstim?  I’m creating a new WordPress persona and cashing Penniless Tim in.  JimWithaT.com, UpToMyNeckInDebt.com, HouseMortgageUpsideDown.com, and HowToRetireAt89.com all came into mind, but I need easy.  After hours and hours of not contemplating about it, I’m moving to http://timfortim.wordpress.com/.  And to all of the 1,966,514,781 people missing my blog, I’m just fine with it.

Wow, I already feel better!

1 Staff Sergeant Norbeck, United States Marine Corps, was my drill instructor for 18 weeks. We could only address him using his full title. I’m afraid if I do not address him properly, he will hunt me down and force me to do hop ‘n’ pops.
2 Plagiarized a line from Dr. Seuss How The Grinch Stole Christmas

January 16, 2011

Best Dessert Ever

Filed under: Dessert,Humor,Recipe — Tim @ 11:37 pm

I like good food! Even better, I like cheap good food.  Best of all, I like cheap good food made at home. Pay no heed to my dearth of cooking talent, you can call me the frugal gourmet even if I can’t tell my anise from your anise.  I have similar food and music talents – can’t tell you why it’s great, just know it is.  Layla by Eric Clapton – great!  Oatmeal Carmelitas from Pillsbury Publications – great!

Is the Carmelita the best tasting dessert ever concocted?  Probably not, but based upon creation effort compared with the end result, it is simply awesome.  Unlike some other recipes, I can actually find all the ingredients without having to ask the produce manager, “Excuse me sir, but where are the savory dry spices from the Horn of Africa, tumeric fingers, and ground Sumatran Rhino horn?”

Found on the internet, it must be true.

A Sumatran Rhino

How good are Carmelitas?  My son was failing third grade when I suggested bringing the teacher some Carmelitas – they gave him six college credits and advanced him into seventh grade.  I stopped at an intersection with a disheveled homeless man holding a sign reading ‘Why lie – I need a Carmelita recipe’.  The neighbors threw a brick through my window when I refused to share the recipe.   I brought my boss a fresh batch and he let me leave work fifteen minutes early on Christmas Day.

You may be asking yourself, “Self, how much do these amazing Carmelitas cost?”

Being frugal, I wanted to know the exact price per nibble myself.  Unfortunately, we had a slight calculator malfunction and my 10 semesters of collegiate calculus didn’t include any teaspoon conversions (I liked some of the classes so much, I took them twice).

How's this work?

Now you are probably asking yourself, “Yourself, how did Tim ever invent such a wonderful recipe if he has his head up his anice?”

The answer is quite simple – I didn’t.  A few years ago while wandering a bookstore, I ran across the best recipe book I’ve ever purchased – 1 Pillsbury: Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook.  They were practically giving it away – purchase one small tall grande low fat skim milk sugar free lactose intolerant latte and receive a free recipe book.  $17 later and the book was mine for free.  I’m not going to say it’s a great book, but it’s a great book!

Now onto the recipe (straight from the book1):

 

Carmelitas

Oatmeal Carmelitas

CRUST

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups margarine or butter, softened

FILLING

1 (12.5-oz.) jar (1 cup) caramel ice cream topping

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 (6-oz) pkg. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 13×9-inch pan.  In large bowl, blend all crust ingredients at low speed until crumbly.  Press half of crumb mixture, about 3 cups, in bottom of greased pan.  Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour.  Remove partially baked crust from oven; spring with chocolate chips and nuts.  Drizzle evenly with caramel-mixture; spring with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F for an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.  Co0l completely.  Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until filling is set.  Cut into bars.

High Altitude–Above 3,500 feet: No change.

Nutrition Per Serving: Calories 200; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 26g; Fat 9g; Sodium 160mg.

When preparing, I have only two crumbs of advice – use real butter and top notch caramel (such as Smuckers).  Enjoy!

1 Pillsbury Publications, Pillsbury: Best of the Bake-Off Cookbook (New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996), 182.

January 11, 2011

The Casual One

Filed under: College,Humor — Tim @ 2:53 pm
Tags:
Postal Worker Series – Part I
I was designated a United States Postal Service Casual with the official job description “a part-time mail carrier substituting for full-time mail carriers on either vacation or on convalescence leave recovering from severe dog bites and/or extreme bouts of anger.” The official reason regarding the Casual designation is still unknown, but I believe it’s related to either the casual starting time of 9:30 AM (give or take an hour) or a self descriptive position for part-time employee’s work ethics (although many full-time employees shared the same passion).  Not being full-time, a Casual is denied permission to don the mailman’s snappy and stylish attire, but rather must wear ‘civvies’ meeting stringent guidelines – no holes and a collared shirt.  Coincidentally, the civilian attire conveniently eliminated any uniform stipend paid to the Casual.
A Casual’s job is to simply deliver the mail. The actual mail bundle sorting and organizing is performed by superbly trained, nattily attired, and highly motivated full-time mail carriers (or by whoever shows up on time); hence, the Casual’s work day begins anywhere from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM dependent upon a mail carrier organizing both his own route and the vacationing/convalescing mail carrier’s route. Befitting my level of work experience and superior academic learning, the postal service bestowed a princely wage of $5.00 per hour – the envy of Wall Street.  I eagerly awaited the casual Casual experience!

Mail Carriers Gone Wild

Filed under: College,Humor — Tim @ 2:35 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve always vowed to write about my post office summer job (back when the next ice age was the big worry).  Since I’m now Georgia snow bound, its a good time to start.  It is a true story with a little fictitious filler – feel free to guess what is fictitious.  Now on with the story (and I still need to finish my last blog posting – what with all those snowball fights and sledding runs, those darn kids keep getting in the way)!

Christmas Lights

Georgia Snowbound

Iowa summers!  Other than Nebraska winters, can you think of a better vacation locale?  High humidity, soy beans, two big rivers, three little rivers, four lakes, five ponds, corn fields, corn husks, corn mazes, corn fed girls, bovine parasites, and unemployed college students aplenty watching corn grow.  In the summer of ’86,  I was the latter and not particularly excited by the prior when good fortune struck faster than corn in a hot air popper – the United States Postal Service Sioux City branch opted to employ my services for the summer.  Management was impressed with my hardy resume credentials:  a hardly earned 2.8 Iowa State University GPA; personal references consisting of Mom, Dad, Uncle Lyle, and a second cousin once removed who was a personal friend of the Post Master General’s first cousin once removed; an unblemished work history – Bishop’s Cafe dishwasher (promoted from pot washer after six sudsy, sweaty months); corn detasseler / bean walker (don’t ask and don’t tell); snow shoveler; Greyhound racing dog walker; study hall monitor; mower of lawns.  The Post Office’s summer hires were an eclectic group with virtually nothing in common except the ironic coincidence each had a family member employed at the Post Office.

NOTE: For some reason, my post office days always made me think of this old sketch.  I would call this video PG-13 (it is innocent – less innocent are what people are thinking).

Post Series Part II

January 7, 2011

A Hamster is leading Santa’s sleigh

Filed under: Children,Christmas — Tim @ 11:02 am
Tags: , ,

It all started the night before Christmas when nothing was stirring except a spouse.  Michelle analyzed the children gifts and determined child number one of five (Gavin, our ten year old blond headed Christmas worshiper)  was missing the wow factor.  The guitar, six pounds of chocolate, high powered telescope, and 47 other gifts were deemed as lacking oomph.  Having imbibed an adult eggnog and with several lengthy toy construction tasks lying ahead, a Grinchland (stores open on Christmas) visit was deemed inappropriate.  Michelle and I began to ‘grainstorm’ (brainstorming after a few barley pops).

Dismissing ideas such as shaving Sister Lulu (the pet dog) and telling Gavin it was a rare giant Chinese hamster, we brilliantly opted on a Pet Smart hamster gift card.  Only one small problem existed – Pet Smart was closed.  Our resident graphic designer, Michelle, took matters into her own talented hands. Plying her Macintosh, she created a faux Pet Smart gift certificate, signed by Santa, good towards a Teddy Bear hamster.  We sneaked the certificate into Gavin’s stocking and congratulated ourselves on our cleverness.

Excitement permeated the nighttime air and sleepy children were not sleepy.  The munchkins thought Christmas morning came at 1 AM;  raced to beat Santa at 3 AM; gave it a college try at 5 AM; finally made Christmas official at 7 AM with two very sleep parents.  Five children raced downstairs and began devouring wrapping paper, inhaling glitter, and sacking stocking as Mom and Dad found wakefulness in a mug, very large mug, of coffee.

With caffeinated Christmas excitement, we watched Gavin sink into his stocking, pluck out the faux certificate, read the words, and comprehend the meaning.  Opa!  Score one for Michelle and Tim’s grain brain brilliance – Gavin scored an eleven out of ten on the wow factor.

… story to be continued (trying to keep my once a week blog commitment – is this cheating?)

January 3, 2011

Posting At Least Once a Week or at least once every few weeks or at least once in a while when convenient

Filed under: Blogging — Tim @ 3:00 pm
Tags:

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a week for all of 2011 – even if I have to plagiarize others as I did in this text (although I sorta kinda received their permission).

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful as I ignore my kids and simply write for free and go deeper into debt.  Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can and continue to plagiarize only the best blogs so I can still feel good about my writing and avoid fragmented sentences.

If you already read my blog, are you my Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, in-law, cousin, or bill collector?

Signed

My Name Here

December 18, 2010

Writer’s Womb

Filed under: Birth,Children,Humor — Tim @ 12:05 am
Tags:

I wrote the following letter about three weeks before the birth of our first child and sent it to both sets of soon to be grandparents (for the umpteenth time).  Gavin was born on 9/10/2000.

8/20/00

Dear Grandma and Grandpa,

Since I had a moment to spare, I decided to squeeze out a quick letter (before Mommy squeezes me out–ouch).  You wouldn’t believe the favors I had to promise just to get a crayon and paper.  And do you know how difficult it is to write when you’re balanced on your head and your feet are tucked behind your ears?  Try it!  Crossing t’s and dotting i’s just won’t seem very important, so excuse me if I dangle a few modifiers.  I also want you to know that you should consider yourself mighty special, because I don’t write for just any Uncle Tom or Aunt Amy.  Now if Mommy would just get a little closer to the lamp and Daddy moved his hand off my butt, I could see something and knock this letter out.

I’m really excited to see you soon, but I just can’t decide on a date.  The quarters here might be a little tight (thank goodness I didn’t take in a womb mate), but the room service is excellent and you can’t beat the rent.  For entertainment, I just push on Mommy’s bladder and watch her run (it’s really fun to do it right in the middle of a movie).  I also get quite tickled when I stick my rear end out as far as it will go and Mommy and Daddy think it’s my head (I’ll be worried if they get it mixed up next month).  I tried to get cable TV, but they aren’t servicing my area yet (I’m probably too mature for MTV anyway).  I could almost stay in here forever, but a good hug from my grandparents is just too tempting (and I expect, no demand, many, many hugs and kisses).

I may also have to get out of here pretty quickly because I’m worried about Daddy. He puts his hand on Mommy’s belly and all I have to do is kick.  He gets so excited you’d think he won the lottery.   I’m tempted to hum a little ditty from Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, but he’d probably wet his diaper (adults wear diapers–don’t they?).  I really think Daddy needs to get a life.

Before I come out, I want to make one more point.  All everyone talks about is how much Mommy and Daddy’s life is going to change when I arrive.  Well what about me?  Do you know how much my life is going to change?  No more breakfast in bed.  No more climate-controlled house to myself.  They probably won’t let me eat chocolate for years.  And no doubt I shall have to entertain my parents.  A little smile here, a little coo there.  Oh, the pressure!  And you think Mom’s have it rough during delivery.  The next time you walk by the kitchen drain, try to stick your head through it.  Now you know what I have to look forward to.  You better have a big hug ready for me, because I’m going to need it.

Well I better get to bed.  I was a little rambunctious yesterday and didn’t get enough sleep–only 23 1/2 hours.  I can hardly wait to see you soon, Grandma and Grandpa.  My Daddy says I will be the smartest and most beautiful baby every because I’m descended from good genes (do you wear Levis?).  I love you more than all the baby food in the world.

Love, From your biggest fan,
Baby S #1

P.S. – I’ve been sending subliminal messages to my Mom, but I doubt if they’ll name me “The Calico Kid.”

My oldest boy

Gavin@2

December 10, 2010

Christmas 2010

Filed under: Christmas,Humor — Tim @ 12:45 am
Tags:

Dear Family, Friends, Friends of Family, Family of Friends, and Friendly Familiar Faces,

I hope everyone is doing well in these difficult economic times as we all pray for upcoming prosperity.  It was a good year for the Scott family except for the untimely demise of Blackie and White, our much beloved (and ignored) pet hamsters.  Who knew the little fellas couldn’t fend for themselves during our vacation? As with almost everyone, the recession forced us to tighten our belts and use a little fiscal creativity implementing the following money saving ideas:  ignore weeds and pull when roots are established and deep – free yard aeration and no ugly lawn of the month sign in the front yard;  send children to neighbor’s houses at dinner time – free kid meals and fewer dishes;  purchase rickshaw for grocery store visits  – decrease gas costs and lessen child obesity;  purchase taxidermy kit and convert Blackie and Whitey into stocking stuffers – one less Christmas expense and no clogged toilet;  the child tax credit – kids are practically making money for us!

Michelle continues to lead the house in number of fairy tales read, lunches fed, band-aids applied,  snacks supplied,  dinners served, tantrums observed, beds made, bills paid, diapers changed, rooms rearranged, polished brass, kicking ..  stuff (confession after that profession), toilets cleaned, friends screened, cocoa mugs, baby hugs, doctor’s patients and praying for patience.  She even squeezed in a design project for a new company, Lickity Spit,  selling stylized envelope sealers; however,  Michelle didn’t really expectorate much income (hard pun to swallow).

Tim’s status (married, employed, father, Caucasian) remained status quo,  but he did experience a mid life crisis or two.  Initially, he quit his job on a Friday and became a downtown Atlanta street performer earning tips through interpretive dance of computer code (a.k.a. a square dance).   After returning home owing $50, he resumed his job on Monday (fortuitously, he accidentally emailed his parents the resignation letter; unfortunately, he’s out of the family will) .  Tim also began  growing taller while becoming thinner (family height supremacy within his tip toe reach) ; tragically, a Google search  identified pant sizes being in waist/inseam order and not the other way around (from Wilt the Stilt to Percy the Penguin).

Gavin is our blond headed boy with a gold heart and untied shoes.  An avid reader, we have to get his nose out of the books (a good problem to have).  Gavin loves all the holidays (contemplating an Easter Bunny tattoo) and produced empirical evidence Santa exists saying, “Mom and Dad are way too cheap to buy all those gifts.”

Luke John (you can call him Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John for short) loves baseball, Leonardo Da Vinci,  and anything mechanical.  Not your typical eight year old’s hero,  Da Vinci’s mechanical drawings fascinate Luke.  Drawing renaissance inspiration, he built an Ornithopter Flying Machine out of legos, attached a giant crossbow, and flew it to his baseball game where he pitched an inning of hit-less baseball, allowing only 5 runs (4 errors, 3 walks, 2 hit batsmen, and 1 arrow pierced coach).

Laurel is our daredevil in a dress, already achieving a full frontal flip (right over her bicycle’s front handlebars).  At Disney World, she shamed the boys into riding the roller coaster.  Speed is her best friend and a bicycle helmet is Mom’s best friend.  Laurel is also a soccer dynamo, but she may give up the sport – they won’t let her wear a dress and the uniforms aren’t pink.

Visualize a three year old drinking six cups of coffee, chewing gum, singing Queen’s We Will Rock You, and commanding your complete undivided attention – you now know Sophia from the moment she wakes up (6 AM)  until the second she crashes at night.  We thought staying overnight in a cemetery alone was scary, but nothing is more terrifying than Sophia upstairs by herself.  She is sugar and spice – either causing trouble or making the entire family laugh as she hugs everyone.  Sophia is Sophia!

Amelia has now supplanted Laurel as Lulu’s best friend.   Amazing what rewarding begging with a few table scraps can do (Lulu may have been a politician in a previous life).  Turning two in March, Amelia is everyone’s baby girl and she knows it (even demands it).  She loves hugs and hates being ignored.  Love me, hug me, and kiss me or I’ll kick you in the shin is her Modus operandi.  Just in case you didn’t know, Lulu is our pet dog, not our sixth child.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” – Matthew 1:23.  God is with us – then, now, and forever more.

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