Can We Talk Harry Potter for a Moment, Please?

Hogwarts-castle-harry-potter-166431Harry Potter and I have a history together. It’s rather a messy, complicated history, and really, I’m the one at fault.

In other words, it’s not you, Harry – it’s me.

I read the books about six or seven years ago when they were given to me as a gift. I read up to book six and stopped. I wasn’t impressed.

I honestly have no reason why I didn’t like the books.

I was stupid and narrow-minded.

It’s likely that I just wasn’t fully committed to jumping on the Hogwarts bandwagon. Maybe I wanted to be the “mature adult” who didn’t get sucked into such childish storytelling.

Well, fast forward to about this time last year. Nothing significant happened; I had no premonition or anything like that. I just didn’t have anything to watch; The Office had ended a few months earlier.

So I decided to rent all the Harry Potter movies from the library. I watched them all in about a two-month period. When I finished with movie number eight I immediately dug through my things and pulled out my old Harry Potter books.

I’ll save my short reviews for a later post, but right now I’m well into book five, and Sarabeth is rapidly catching up with me. We cannot get enough of this phenomenon that we missed out on for so many years.

Sarabeth has even made butterbeer for me twice and I have told her to buy me a Harry Potter wand for Christmas.

Yes, the turn-around is that drastic.

We don’t celebrate Halloween, but we’re talking about celebrating Harry Potter.

I want to paint a lightning bolt on our daughter’s head, let my wife’s hair go frizzy, while we all wear stripped scarves and go out and put hexes on things.

We’ve decided that for our daughter’s 11th birthday, we’ll give her an invitation to Hogwarts to introduce her to the books.

Oh, and we’ll definitely be visiting the Hogwarts castle in Universal Studios, thank you very much. It is now the reason I work overtime.

The moral of the story is simple.

Go back and retry that thing you once hated. And don’t ever think you’re too old to enjoy something so awesome.

 

 

Things I was Supposed to Have Accomplished By Now

There’s an episode in The Office that’s kind of somber. It’s when Michael Scott shows a video of himself as a Michael Scottkid as a guest on a popular children’s show. In it, the puppet-host asks him what he hopes to be when he grows up.

The young Michael Scott, with suite and a neat comb-over, answers, “I want to get married and have a hundred kids so I can have a hundred friends and no one can say no to being my friend.”

Well, this depresses the grown Michael Scott because he’s not married, has no kids, and no one really wants to be his friend.

We all have expectations when we’re young, right?

We were building bucket lists even before Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman coined the term.

I had things that I was supposed to have accomplished by this time. Here’s a few of them:

1. I was supposed to have won my third Academy Award for best director and actor and screen writer.

2. I was supposed to be a bestselling author and on a first-name basis with Michael Crichton.

3. By now I was supposed to have saved a bunch of people from a mad terrorist and be headlined as a hero on the front page of every newspaper for years.

4. I was supposed to have finally found the perfect hairstyle for my thinning hair; but then again, my hair wasn’t supposed to thin at all.

5. I was supposed to have found the best pizza in the world – one so good that I would never want a slice from any other place ever again. And then I was to learn to replicate it at home.

6. I was supposed to have made it through Lost without burning out.

Even though there’s a lot of things I haven’t done in my life, and breaking into Hollywood isn’t as easy as I thought it would be, I have to stop and remember the things that I have accomplished.

I’m married to a beautiful woman. Check.

I have an awesome baby girl (though she’s not a silent baby like I was hoping for). Still, check.

I have two dogs.

I’m a homeowner.

So yeah, I’m at least still writing, and haven’t given up on becoming a bestselling author, and I’ll probably eventually get back to Lost someday, but it seems like I’ve got all the important things accomplished.

Now, if  you excuse me, I’m going to take a music break and listen to Montgomery Gentry’s “Something to Be Proud Of”

 

My Day at the Fair

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Hi, it’s me, “Baby A.” I logged into my dad’s blog again.

Yesterday, my parents took me to the Kentucky State Fair. Being only seven months old, I’m safe to say this is the first fair I have ever been to.

First thing’s first. The smells! Okay, so I know I don’t produce very good smells, but good grief! The next time my dad complains about how bad my diapers smell, I’m going to grab my dad’s nose (because I’ve mastered that by now), crawl right down to the nearest farm, and stick his face up to a cow’s bottom.

Speaking of cows, my dad got in trouble by Mom saying something like, “No wonder they look so sad, they’ve all got a gloom future ahead of them.” I wonder what he means by that.

But on a completely different subject, there was a lot of meats and steaks and pork, and it all smelled so good! Sure, the only thing I like at the moment is formula, sweet potatoes, and fluffy pieces of bread, but I’m sure I’ll learn how to eat all that other stuff.

My dad got to check off something from his bucket list. He got himself a donut burger from donutKrispy Kreme. He kept saying, “I’m not getting any younger,” like he was psyching himself up to actually do it after talking about it half the day. Mom thought he was nuts and made him promise that that would be his only one. He promised it would be, but I wonder how serious he was. I thought only babies were supposed to be gross!

We got to see this thing called the horse and mull pull. It’s where they see how many pounds these animals can pull before they get-attachment-1.aspxbreak their legs or something. I was feeling sad by how hard they were having to work, so I started crying halfway through. I like doing that sometimes, just to make Mom and Dad uncomfortable.

I wonder if I’ll remember these days when I’m older. Probably not, but my parents will, and I think it’s good for people to get out and do fun things like go to the fair, or drive by a lake, or pack a picnic and take the dogs (and the baby) to the park for an evening.

After all, that’s what makes life worth living, isn’t it? Those little things? At least that’s what I’ve been told.

But all in all, it was  a fun day! I got as hot and sweaty as I’ve ever been, Daddy got a tummy ache, and Mommy got to get out of the house. I hope we go again next year so I can try one of those donut burgers with Daddy, then beg him to take me on a bunch of spinny-twirly rides afterwards.

I’ll be tall enough for those by then, right?

Hugs

Shel Silversteen penned a poem called “Hug-O-War.” You’d probably remember it if I started it off for you:

I will not play tug-o-war.mar15

I’d rather play hug-o-war.

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs,

Where everyone giggles

and rolls on the rug…

I don’t do hugs. They’re just not my thing.

dtv-tommyboyKids hug parents. Girls hug puppies. Heavy-set people give bear hugs. Women hug women. Tommy Boy hugs.

But I, Andrew, do not hug. I’ll shake your hand, or even better, I’ll high-five or fist-bump you. (“Knucks!”) But the best of all is a head nod. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Nothing. You?”

“Not much. See ya.”

“See ya.”

But there’s a problem with all of this. I don’t like hugs, but

I’m married.

And my spouse is a woman.

And women hug.

My wife likes hugs.

The first time Sarabeth and I hung out together as a couple, we could have hugged when I said good night.handshake

But we didn’t. I shook her hand. No joke.

But here’s the thing. Sarabeth knows me and my needs. She knows that I need affirmation and compliments. And she doesn’t give out compliments freely. But she gives them generously to me because she knows I need them.

So it’s only fair that I hug her more than once a week.

Because I love her.

What does your spouse love? What do they need every day?

My wife needs hugs.

Bad Neighbor?

Every summer our neighbor – we’ll call her Paddington – tries to grow tomatoes on herIMG_8378 front porch. And every summer she only gets about two or three successful tomatoes because slugs and worms and critters vandalize her efforts.

Throughout the years you can see the evolution of her defensive tactics. One year she put a ring of salt around her pots. The next year she put eggshells in her soil. Then she started putting plastic bags of vinegar water in her pots.

But this year, she’s taking her tomato-preserving strategies to a whole new level.

havahartezsetracoonShe’s taken to setting up animal traps.

Now, if anybody is an advocate for more tomatoes in this world, it’s me. In fact, I say we don’t need any other fruit or root but tomatoes. Tomatoes are like cheese – they make everything better. (I think I inherited my unusual love of tomatoes from my father: he was a successful tomato planter and he would bring his own tomatoes with him when we went out to restaurants. I can’t blame him, to this day I’ve never had better tomatoes.)

Do you see this picture of the tomato? Just looking at it makes me salivate, and it’s only 8:40 in the morning!tumblr_mfsxqiD18k1re461do1_500

So my love of tomatoes is clear. But, thought I’m no tree hugger, I also love animals. Not in the way a twelve-year-old girl does. I don’t doodle glittery ponies on my notebooks or anything, but I get a sense of sadness if I see them in trouble.

I always pull my car over to check for tags if I see a lost dog. If it wouldn’t be so dangerous, I’d shoo deer off the side of the road so they don’t get hit.

But anyway, our neighbor, Paddington, set these traps out and every day since I’ve found squirrels trapped in the cages. They just look so scared and helpless; they just wanted a bite of that darn Fig Newton.

I don’t know. Maybe I still feel guilty for hitting a baby squirrel with my car a while ago, or shooting suirells with my BB gun in the backyard when I was a kid…

So I look all around to make sure the coast is clear and release the squirrels . Sarabeth told me that they’re going to see me as their savior now. (Maybe I’ll grow some tomatoes and they’ll leave them alone as a thank you, then I can give some to Paddington as a peace offering.)

PussInBoots1Today I went outside with the dogs and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a raccoon. The poor guy wasn’t even struggling, probably because he was exhausted from panicking all night. He didn’t even flinch when I approached. He just looked up at me with those big tear-filled eyes…

So of course I let the big guy out.

This probably makes me an incredibly bad neighbor, but there’s no proof that the squirrels and raccoons are the ones destroying Paddington’s tomato plants. Innocent until proven guilty, right?

So what do you think? Bad neighbor or rodent savior? Is growing a few tomatoes worth trapping animals for? You be the jury. You decide.

In the meantime, I’m going to run to the grocery store and pick up some produce.

 

Summer Smoothies! (Guest Post from My Wife)

SmoothiesIt’s summertime and that means smoothies and fruit drinks! We love blending things at our house when it’s 90+ degrees out and our dinners are usually fresh salads with fancy dressings.

Anyway, my wife was kind enough to write a guest post for you all today about some of our favorite homemade smoothies. Feel free to share your own recipes below in the comments section so we can all have some new drinks to try this summer! Oh, and don’t forget to follow my wife’s awesome blog while you’re at it (you might find some more recipes from her later on): From Flats to Lofts.

I lived on Jamba Juice for about two months once. My wisdom teeth were coming in sideways,JambaLogo-PDFX-Prime-CMYK but I had to wait until I could take a week off of work to have them removed. (Plus I may have procrastinated going to the dentist for a couple of weeks after they started hurting because I’m a chicken.) It was cold, and didn’t require chewing, so it was the perfect lunch option – day after day after day…

But, then I didn’t eat for a week, and couldn’t drink out of a straw anyway, so I sort of stopped my daily trip to Jamba Juice. I was now $25 richer at the end of each work week. And really, once the pain went away I was pretty much grossed out by the thought of another smoothie. This lasted for several months, and when I finally wanted one again we were about to move from Seattle (Jamba Juice everywhere) to Louisville (Jamba Juice nowhere to be found).

So, I started to make my own. It is simple enough – just fruit and liquid. The two we make the most are blueberry and peanut butter.

 

Blueberry:SONY DSC

1 frozen banana (slice it before you freeze it)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 milk

Blend ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

 

Peanut butter:peanut butter

1 frozen banana (slice it before you freeze it)

½ – 1 cup chocolate soy milk

1 large scoop of peanut butter

Blend together – adding more banana or milk if needed until you get the consistency you want.

A Boy and His Tiger

squeezitIf you were a child of the 80s or 90s, many different things sum up your childhood.

Things like pigs and slammers, Squeezits, Raven’s Revenge, Rugrats, and Steve Urkel’s cloning machine.

To know these things is to be a part of a club, a very special and inclusive club. I say inclusive because most of us are now trying to introduce our won kids to dumbour generation’s favorites. The 80s and 90s are hard to let go of. Just look at all the reboots in Hollywood: the anticipated Dumb and Dumber To, to name one.

And on TV: Girl Meets World, Fargo, an upcoming Saved by the Bell movie.

Judy Bloom and Goosebumps are constantly getting makeovers. Ariel goosebumpsis still the most idolized princess in the Disney realm, and I would bet most kids could sing the Fresh Prince theme song.

But there’s one piece of nostalgic lore that holds a special place in all of our hearts. They were a couple of misfits, one a figment of the other’s imagination. They both had stripes, one with two feet, the other with four and a tail. They both loved adventure and sledding in the snow and building fortresses and people-eating snowmen.

Do the words Get Rid OSlimy Girlbring back any memories?

What about the adventures of Stupendous Man?

Or the third-grade teacher, who was everyone’s teacher, Mrs. Wormwood?

When you opened the newspaper on Sunday mornings you could find yourself in outer space SpacemanSpiff_Smallwith Spaceman Spiff or be caught up in a game of Calvinball. Or you might be turning a cardboard box into a “Cerebral Enhance 0-Tron.”

The possibilities were always endless with Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip about a young boy and his stuffed tiger.

I remember the day it was announced that Bill Watterson would be drawing his last comic strip, and it was devastating, like the day John candyCandy died or I first heard the word “terrorist” in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Everyone had to have their dosage of Calvin and Hobbes. And if you return to them today, they’re just as endearing, hysterical, and thought-provoking as they were then.

There’s a documentary on Netflix instant watch called Dear Mr. Watterson posterwhere the filmmaker attempts to track down the beloved creator and mastermind of the comic strip.

My favorite thing about the film is that it showcases the impact Calvin and Hobbes had on the world, and continues to today. Our generation of readers are faithfully passing down Watterson’s legacy to our own kids, and I’ll certainly be sharing my collection with our daughter when she’s older.

What kind of impact did Calvin and Hobbes have on you as a kid?

 

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Calvin and Hobbes in Snow

 

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