Wednesday, January 30, 2008

With the First Pick in the 2008 Draft. . .

Okay, so we have 18 players and we will have 19 contestant after the first episode. First the rules, then the order:
1. The top three picks will need to be made on Friday the 8th (the first episode will be on the 7th). Picks 4-6 will need to be made on Saturday. Picks 7-9: Sunday. Picks 10-12: Monday. Picks 13-15: Tuesday. Picks 16-18: Wednesday. They will all be in before the next episode.
2. Email me you top 3 when you send in your pick. That way, if you are picks #3 on the first day, you are assured to get a pick, and you won't have to wait for me to tell you that picks 1 and 2 have got their picks in.
3. After each day, I will email the picks that have been made to everyone. I got email addresses from some of you. I still need some, though. If you have any doubt about whether or not I have your email address, shoot it over to me (
4. If you fail to make your pick on your day, you go to the bottom of the list for the next day. For example, if you are pick #2 and you don't get me a pick on Friday, you go down below picks 4-6. So you will actually get to pick 6th if you get it in on Saturday. Make sense? You won't have to worry about this if you get your pick in on time.
5. Good luck.

Here is the order from last to first.
With the 18th pick: Dan Stump. Sorry, man. You'll get to choose between the last two remaining contestants.
With the 17th pick: Eric Wood. At least you can't do worse than Jean Robert this time.
With the 16th pick: Curtis Lillie. Newcomer. Sorry about the high pick.
With the 15th pick: Greg Moffat. You picked late last year and still got Jaime, and she made the jury.
With the 14th pick: Kelly McAllister. Thanks for joining us.
With the 13th pick: Dave McAllister. Weird, huh? Back to back. Not planned.
With the 12th pick: Ruth King. I think you can pull it off with a twelfth pick.
With the 11th pick: Daren Blomquist. Glad you are joining us again.
With the 10th pick: Dan Franklin. Last year's winner. Me.
With the 9th pick: Karina Franklin. Back to back again. Weird.
With the 8th pick: Ami McNay. Starting to get to the low picks. Good positioning.
With the 7th pick: Rich Stafford. Another newcomer. Good luck.
With the 6th pick: Mirranda Meacham. Welcome. Lucky draw.
With the 5th pick: Megan Wood. Sorry for misspelling your name.
With the 4th pick: Angela Stump. You can comfort your husband with the fact that you will be picking so early.
With the 3rd pick: Sarah Blomquist. Who just reminded me that we have been friends for about 15 years.
With the 2nd pick: Alison Gentry. Another newcomer. Great positioning.
And with the 1st pick: Andrea Moffat. Congrats. Andrea picked late last time and still got Amanda, who finished third. Look out!

I will do another email as the first episode approaches. Can't wait to see what happens.
Remember, picking late is not a death sentence. Last year, Stump picked last and finished 2nd with Courtney. Karina picked 11th and ended up 4th with Denise. Andrea picked 9th and ended up 3rd with Amanda. So, Stump, Eric, Curtis, Greg, take heart.
By the way, my wife witnessed the picking process. It was all above board (not that you were doubting, with Karina and I being 9th and 20th).
Also by the way, the top 6 picks all went to women, even though the male/female ratio is pretty even (10 gals, 8 guys).
Can't wait.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Heroes, and My Apologies to LOST Fans

So, I avoided the Heroes craze for a pretty long time. It was not because I was against the show, but simply because I knew that I was likely to become totally engrossed in it. This is a problem because I can only really watch a couple of shows with any regularity. 24 is king, and Survivor is number 2 (number one during the writer's strike).
That said, my wife decided she wanted to check out Heroes because she had seen a couple of episodes. We just got done watching Season 1.
So, I thought that I would become totally compelled by the show. The good news is that I am not hopelessly addicted. That said, I thought the first season was excellent. Before I get into it. . .
Things I did not like about Heroes:
1. Too bloody. I did not think it was inappropriate that people died in the show. I just thought that sometimes it was over the top bloody. I thought it was not necessary. I get that Sylar is bad and that he takes people's brains. I don't need to see it every episode.
2. Niki/Jessica. Thankfully they got away from the inappropriate stuff with this character. The first couple of episodes always had her doing something raunchy. I think they realized that the show was good enough that they don't need to drag in people with totally superfluous sexual content.
3. Slow in the middle. More on this later. The show definitely stalled for a while in the middle of the season.
Reasons I Liked Heroes:
1. Great characters. Of course I loved Peter Petrelli, Professor Suresh and Hiro Nakamura. Great, great characters. Complicated, likeable, and (obvoiusly) heroic.
2. Comic Book Feel. Great job keeping up the comic book feel. Really cool.
3. Villains. The whole Sylar concept was a great villain concept. So was the old guy. . .the mob guy. . .his name escapes me. I know I could just pause writing and look it up, but I don't want to.
4. The Finale. I love to see a plan come together. I kept wondering if the finale would really deliver on all the buildup of the conflicts. It really did resolve them. The finale was phenomenal. Can't say enough good stuff about it. It totally delivered, but still left plenty of places for the show to go.
Did Dan say that he was going to apologize to LOST fans?
Yes, I did. Especially to David and Mirranda because I have relentlessly tormented them about the fact that LOST never wraps things up. Here is what I realized while watching Heroes. I just don't like a mystery that takes that long to unravel. LOST is a fine show. It is just not my kind of show. If you like it, congratulations. Enjoy.
There, I said it.

By the way, on the subject of TV.
Daren and Sarah Blomquist and Dan and Angela Stump are all in for Survivor Pick 'em. That makes 17 of us. That all but secures things. Thursday I will write a post explaining how this whole picks thing will work, and I will post the picks order. If you want me to email you about your turn, make sure I have your email address. I am not sure I have email addresses for:
Eric and Meagan Wood
Greg and Andrea Moffat
Daren and Sarah Blomquist
Mirranda Meacham
This is going to be fun.
Sorry, Mirranda. I can't reveal my top 3 until other people have made their picks. I know that all of you are just waiting to hear my picks so that you can steal them. Come on, admit it. After all, I am the reigning champ.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Survivor Picks

February 7th is the premier of Survivor Micronesia. Last season I hosted a Survivor Pick 'em, in which 12 people participated. It was so much fun that we are going to do it again. After the first episode you get to pick a winner. If we have enough of us, one of us is bound to get it right.
Time for someone to dethrone me because I successfully predicted Todd's victory last season in Survivor China.
This season has past favorites versus super fans of the show. Jonathan Penner (right) from Survivor Cook Islands is one of the returning favorite (and a personal favorite of mine.

Okay, here is the status. I have 13 people who have expressed interest in being in on Survivor Pick 'em, Part 2.
Dan Franklin
Karina Franklin
Greg Moffat
Andrea Moffat
Ami McNay
Eric Wood
Meagan Wood
Dave McAllister
Mirranda Meacham
Ruth King
Rich Stafford
Curtis Lillie
Alison Gentry

Still time for
Angela Stump
Dan Stump
Sarah Blomquist
Daren Blomquist
Others who want to get in on this

The Plan
This Thursday I will put all the names into a hat and draw for picking position. As of now, I will pick from 13 names. Then I will report on the blog who will pick when. If you email me ( or comment that you want in before Thursday, I will put your name in the hat also. After Thursday, it is first come first serve. So, if we stay with 13 through Thursday, and you email me on Friday, you will be picking in 14th position.
Again, there are 20 players, so we can have 19 people picking (we will pick after episode 1 so that no one gets a raw deal).
Some of you already emailed me some picks. That is fine, and I wrote them down. But that does not mean that you get who you picked. But if your pick is still free when it is your turn, then you get your pick. That said, everyone can feel free to email me your picks, knowing that this will not necessarily secure that person for you.
Dave, you gonna take James again? It worked so well last time.
And if you email me about your pick, don't be concerned that this will influence my pick. I already have my top 3.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

MLK Day, 2008

Last year I really desire to do something on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in order to participate in what it is all about. After looking online for some events, I found an annual celebration that takes place at Highland Christian Center, which is just about 25 minutes from our home. Last year I took Matthew, and this year our whole family was able to come. There were speakers, musicians, artists, and opportunities for involvement offered by organizations. One that I signed up for was an organization that works against housing discrimination. I am looking forward to hearing back from them to see if I can be involved in a justice issue like that.
Before we left for the celebration on Monday morning I sat at the computer with Matthew and showed him some pictures and speeches of Dr. King. It was interesting to try to describe Dr. King in a way that a 3 year-old would grasp. I said thing like,
"You know how mommy and daddy love you and Jack the same? Dr. King wanted everyone to love each other the same."
"Dr. King was very brave because he knew that God was with him."
Words just can't sum it up at this point. Next year he may be at a point when I can actually talk to him about ethnicity and racism to some extent.
That said, I was reading Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. If you have not read it, you can click here and check out the whole thing: It is well worth it.
Here are some highlights that really pierced my heart in reading this letter from Dr. King.
"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another mans freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro the wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating that absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. "
This struck me because I feel that I tend to be the white moderate. If not, then I am certainly most in danger of falling into this category. Am I more attached to order than to justice?
The following section hits me hard because it is about the church. It is really worth the read:
"Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
"There was a time when the church was very powerful -- in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being 'disturbers of the peace' and 'outside agitators.' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were 'a colony of heaven,' called to obey Gad rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be 'astronomically intimidated.' By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
"Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent -- and often even vocal -- sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust."
May all of our churches choose to be agents of change and justice instead of being the "archdefender of the status quo." I remember my dad commenting a while ago (in regards to politics) that the group in power will always strive to maintain the status quo. The status quo is never good for minority and oppressed groups. Change is always needed.
I think it is appropriate for all of us to be thankful to Dr. King. He sacrificed his life. And I don't just mean that he died for his cause. I mean that he sacrificed his life. For years and years and years he was poured out for needy and oppressed people. His assassination was not an abberation from the rest of his life. It fit perfectly with his daily death to himself in favor of those who longed for justice.
It should remind all of us of our Lord.
I hope this post is not so long that people don't read it. But, if you're reading this line, hopefully that means that you read the whole post.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Scary Moment, Happy Ending

Some of you have already heard, but we had a scary moment with Matthew on Monday night. He had been fine all day, and we were getting ready to go to a staff party. I was in the playroom with him, and he suddenly stiffened up and fell flat on the ground. I went over to him, and picked him up. His whole body was limp and he was not responding as I said his name. I told Karina to call 9-1-1, and I continued to try to get Matthew to respond. Within about a minute, Matthew vomited and then began to respond. The paramedics were there within about 5 minutes, and within 10 minutes Matthew was pretty much back to his old self, fully responsive.
Matthew and I went to the ER in an ambulance, and Karina and Jack met us there. Matthew got progressively better over the next two hours, and by about 8:00pm we were home. The ER doctor basically let us know that Matthew had a Fibral Seizure, which means that his temperature spiked really rapidly, and his body responded by seizing. Right now there is no reason to believe that this will be ongoing, but we will need to be especially vigilant to keep Matt's temperature down anytime that he is sick.
So, it was pretty scary. We're grateful, though, that Matt is back to acting normally (at least how he normally is when he is sick).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Last Will Be First

Matthew 20:16: So the last will be first, and the first last.

The first will be last. This is one of those famous statements made by Jesus. In the Christian community, this phrase shows up all over the place. Our normal understanding of this statement made by Jesus is this: Jesus is saying that those who are first in this life will be last in the next life. The rich, privileged, and famous in this life will find that those things do not make them important in eternity. And the poor, forgotten, and ignored in this life will be blessed in the life to come.
The question is not whether everything said in the paragraph above is true. The question is whether everything said in the paragraph above is what Jesus was saying in Matthew 20:16 when he said, “So the last will be first, and the first last”?
The first clue in discovering the answer to this question is that almost exactly the same phrase appears in Matthew 19:30. After watching the rich young ruler walk away from Jesus’ call to leave all behind to follow him, Peter says to Jesus in Matthew 19:27, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus responds to Peter (and the others) in verses 28-30, saying,

Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
In verse 30 Jesus again says that the last will be first and the first will be last. What was his meaning here? In this context, who are the first and who are the last? Are Peter and his fellow-apostles the last who will be first? That would be great for Peter. Unfortunately the answer is No. Instead, Peter and the other apostles are the first who will be last.
Is this hard to believe? If the apostles are the first who will be last, then who are the last who will be first? The answer is found in Jesus’ statement. Jesus began his response to Peter by saying that the apostles will have a special place in the kingdom. But then he says two words: And everyone. Everyone who leaves things behind to follow Jesus will inherit great reward. So the formula, if we were looking for one might look like this:

The First = Peter and the Apostles

The Last = Everyone who follows Jesus

So, is Jesus really saying that the apostles will be last, and that others who follow Jesus will be first? Yes. And he explains more fully by launching immediately into a parable in chapter 20.
This parable is about a landowner who went to hire workers for his vineyard. At 6:00am he went out and hired several and promised them a denarius. He then went out again at 9:00am, 12:00pm, and 3:00pm and kept hiring more workers. Finally, at 5:00pm, one hour until closing time, he went and hired more workers.
At the end of the day, 6:00pm, the landowner lined up all the workers to pay them. At the front of the line were the workers who had only worked one hour, and at the back were the workers who had worked all 12 hours. To the surprise of everyone, the landowner paid the one-hour-workers a full denarius. When the 12-hour-workers saw this, they assumed that this meant that they would be receiving much more. To their great dismay, they also received only one denarius. Their response to the landowner is very telling:
These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.

Their words ring in our ears, and they certainly rang in Peter’s ears. You have made them EQUAL TO US! We worked 12 hours and they only worked one. They don’t deserve to be made equal to us! Jesus conclusion to this scandalous parable is the same as his response to Peter:

So the last will be first, and the first last.

The last are first are easier to spot in this context. The first are the first workers who were hired. And the last are the last workers hired, who worked for only one hour.
But when Jesus says that the last will be first, he is not saying that the last workers, who only worked one hour, will be exalted about the first, who worked all twelve hours. And he is not saying that the first will be demoted to the last. Instead he is saying that they will all be the same. After all, that is what happened in the parable. The first and the last were made equal. The last are first, the first are last, the new are old, the old are new, the good are best, and the best are good. Equality.
The 12-hour workers were not looking for equality. They wanted an elevated position above the 1-hour workers. Peter also was not looking for equality. He was asking what he and his friends would receive, and Jesus gently helped him to see that they should not be looking to be in an elevated position above others who choose to follow Jesus, even if their sacrifices come much later in life than the apostles’ sacrifices.
What about us? Do we want equality? Do we want equality with the deathbed convert? That just doesn’t seem fair to those of us who have served God our whole lives. Do we want equality with the converted homosexual and the repentant stripper? Not if we are under the impression that we have kept ourselves unstained by the world. But Jesus’ scandalous words must ring in our ears: THE FIRST WILL BE LAST, AND THE LAST FIRST!
This new understanding of this famous phrase should not make the phrase any less prevalent in our Christian circles. But instead of serving as a reminder that the humble will be exalted, it should serve as a reminder that there is not meant to be a hierarchy within the Christian community. Instead there is to be equality.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Survivor Micronesia

Well, it was so much fun to do Survivor Pick 'em that I am offering to do it again. I have already got interest from the following 9 people

Dan Franklin, Karina Franklin, Dave McAllister, Ami McNay, Mirranda Meacham, Greg Moffat, Andrea Moffat, Eric Wood, Meagan Wood
Still offering spots to

Dan Stump, Angela Stump, Rich Stafford, Dawna Stafford,
Sarah Blomquist, Daren Blomquist, Ruth King, anyone else who
If you have not heard, the cast has been revealed. I care little about the fans, but I will list off the favorites and comment briefly.
1. Jonathan from Survivor Cook Islands: Stoked that he is back. Great schemer. Good athlete. Great player. Finished in 7th first time around.
2. Ozzy from Survivor Cook Islands: Perhaps the best individual competitor of all time. Came in a close 2nd to Yul first time around.
3. James from Survivor China: A best in team challenges, but only did okay in individual ones. Good guy, but left 2 Immunity Idols in his bag as he got voted off in 7th place.
4. Yau Man from Survivor Fiji: Victim of the most horrific betrayal in the history of Survivor (Dreams). So glad he is back. Finished 4th in Fiji.
5. Johnny Fairplay from Survivor Pearl Islands: One of the great villians ever in Survivor. Finished 3rd the first time around.
1. Amanda from Survivor China: Finished 3rd this past season. Was great up until she tanked it at the Final Tribal Council.
2. Cirie from Survivor Exile Island: So stoked that she will be back. Great social player! Finished 4th the first time around.
3. Parvati from Survivor Cook Islands: Good returner. Good in the challenges and a good social player. She will need help from a stronger player, though. Finished 6th the first time around.
4. Eliza from Survivor Vanuatu: Finished 4th in Vanuatu. She was decent in the challenges, but struggled with the social part of the game. Also has a big mouth.
5. Amy from Survivor Vanuatu: Great, great player. She finished 6th after being the victim of a major swing. So glad she's going to be back.

How It Works:
As already mentioned, 9 people are currently in. If you want to be in, email me in order to let me know, or you can comment on this post. When we have everyone in (we can have up to 19) I will put the names in a hat and pull them out for order of picking. Then, after the first episode, we will make picks. If you want to email me your picks before then, I will keep them, and if one of your choices is still around for your turn, I will mark it down.

Most Stoked About:
Four players: Jonathan, Fairplay, Cirie, and Amy.
Least Stoked About:
The fans. Hope I'm wrong. I would rather that it was a fully blown All Stars.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Brave Woman

I have been doing a Bible Readthrough since September. I just recently finished reading through the book of Esther. I am so stirred by Mordecai's words to Esther when she is afraid to act in behalf of her people Israel. He says,

Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?
Esther became queen. God was certainly in charge of this event. But she was not put in that position of power in order to save herself. She was put their in order to save others. So often I seek to be in positions of influence, large and small. Most of the time it is because I want to save myself from boredom or irrelevancy or poverty or a number of other things. But why would God ever decide to put me into a position of power or influence? I can't imagine that it would be for any reason other than helping and saving those who cannot help or save themselves.
What a call on a pastor, a father, a husband, a friend, a white middle-class man. To use any power or influence that God has allowed me to have in order to save and help others. What an amazing way to reflect the life of our Lord, who used his power, his wisdom, his divinity in order to save helpless rebels.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dare We Speak of Politics?

I mostly watched the NFL playoffs on Saturday. During the Jacksonville/Pittsburgh game (which, by the way, was a great game) the Republican debate at New Hampshire was showing on another channel. I am not going to lie. I mostly watched the game, but I was on the debate during any slow points or commercial breaks. Then the Democrat debate toook place after the game was over. I watched pretty much all of it.
I am becoming more aware of and interested in politics. I'm not saying everyone has to be, but I personally am. I find it interesting, and I see it as more of a value as a follower of Jesus to be engaged in our culture and our structure as a country. That said, I wanted to mention some stuff from the debates.

First of all, on the Democratic side, John Edwards. I am not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I just see her as being really slippery. Interestingly, though, for a while she looked like she would run away with the nomination. Now it is a bit more up for grabs. At the debate she seemed frustrated. Obama seemed to be on the attack (not against Hillary, but on the attack in terms of presenting himself as the front-runner). The person who impressed me (and Karina) most, however, was Edwards. He was confident and articulate. One of his big points about himself was that he has not gotten into bed with any special interest groups. He has a strong message for holding corporations responsible, and he has a passion for the working poor. I really liked much of what he had to say.
As I said, I will not vote for Hillary, so I won't even mention her. Obama, however, is the other Democrat who appeals to me. I really like his vision for bringing the parties together. I also think he would do an excellent job with foreign policy, both because of his ideals and because of his ability to work with others and communicate articulately.
Of course, the troubling thing to me about both Edwards and Obama is their stances on the issue of abortion. It greatly saddens me that both of them are so pro-choice (not that it is a huge surprise coming from Democratic candidates).

On the Republican side, there are only two candidates that I could see myself voting for. Just as I could not bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton, I could never bring myself to vote for Giuliani. If Hillary is slippery, then Giuliani takes it to a whole new level for me. McCain on the other hand has a certain appeal to me. He has been a good unifier of the parties and I think he seems to have a fairly healthy mix of values that both parties can get on board with. He has experience and a good track record. He has not been consistently pro-life, but his stance is closer than the Democrats to what I believe.

The other Republican that I like is Mike Huckabee. He won Iowa, which makes him now seems like a viable candidate, while still a longshot. He seems to be the only truly pro-life candidate, and that is really refreshing and comforting. I also think that he just seems very comfortable with who he is. This makes him able to be himself and to be consistent. I don't agree with him on his foreign policy, though. That is a bit of a struggle, but I would be much happier with him in the White House than Romney or Giuliani.

All of this brings up lots of questions. Is it okay for Christians to vote for a candidate that is pro-choice? If not, then why is this issue (which is a big issue) the trump card, while others need to take a back seat? If other issues should be considered, which ones? What does it mean to follow the lead of a president? How much should Christians be involved in pursuing structural change in our country?
I certainly don't have a lot of answers to these, but they are questions that must be wrestled with, especially since Christians have been so closely linked together with the Republican Party. This can put us in bed with people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, people who share Republican ideals, but not from a Christian motivation (especially not the latter).
Anyway, enough of that. Hope I didn't offend either of the people who regularly read my blog.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Christmas Time

Well, it is now January, but here are some pics from our Christmas experience in 2007.
Here we are at Schedeen's getting our Christmas tree.
Here's Karina with the boys. Christmas is so cool when you have kids.

Here is Matt being a great helper with Jack. Notice the festive colored lights on the Christmas tree.

Karina hates spontaneous pictures, so I thought I would include this one. Matt is 3 now, so he was able to help out a lot more in decorating for Christmas. He started to refer to the Living Room as "The Christmas Room."

Jack got to wear a special Christmas outfit to Gramms and Papa's house for Christmas Eve.

Here's our token family Christmas picture. Notice that Jack's hat looks like it's hovering above his head.

My parents and my brother Chris and his wife Rubie came to visit during Christmas time. Here are Chris and Rubie with Matt and Jack. The boys had a great time with their aunt and uncle, who will one day be really great parents.

Matt and Jack also had a great time with Papa Charro and Nana Patti. Nana Patti even played some skateboarding video games with Matt.

Here is the whole crew. It was great to have extended family around for Christmas. Thanks so much to Mom, Dad, Chris, and Rubie for coming up. And thanks for hanging with the boys so much. It was actually kind of restful for Karina and I.