Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 366: 525,600 Minutes . . . Plus 1,440 More

How do you measure, measure a year?

It's rare for me to make a New Year's resolution that I stick to and keep all year long, and though deciding to do Project 366 has not been the traditional resolution, per se, I do feel a sense of satisfaction because I kept at it faithfully, even on days I was not up to it; because it (mercifully) comes to a close with today's post; and because I won't have to keep pestering you with daily posts about some inane thing or occurrence in my life - for the benefit of all three or so of you who have consistenly been with me on this journey through the year 2012.

I guess that's been one of the main things - knowing who my real friends are - that has kept me going throughout this endeavor. It's been encouraging to have your feedback about the project and to know that at least one person other than myself has been interested in its success.

Looking back at the past 366 days, I guess the prevailing question is: Where did the time go? And then I look back at the posts from Day 1 to Day 366, and I see - in my family alone - the addition of a new nephew, two sisters-in-law, three dogs, and a hamster; another cousin who got married; Mom and Dad finally moving out of their Bountiful home after 18+ years; four moves for yours truly, to different parts of Davis County, and (thankfully) mostly love and happiness, mixed with some sadness and tears - for into each life, a little rain must fall, too.

Going forward into 2013, there will still be a Disconcertingly Choppy, though I will not be posting as frequently.

As the future comes, one day at a time, I am again reminded of the words of the late Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: "Come what may, and love it."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day 365: Gangnam Style

I'm basically speechless about - and somewhat in awe of - this one:

Only one more day! Join me tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of Project 366!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day 364: Manicure

Four years of age is too young to begin wearing makeup or anything akin to it - especially if you're a boy.

Of course, when you have a couple of mischievous sisters like Jackson does, you can't really blame the kid for what happened.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 363: S'more, the Hamster

For Christmas, Santa Claus brought McKenna a hamster, making it the second pet in the household and the fourth total new pet added to the family this year (and first non-dog).

Everybody got that?

She has named her hamtster S'more, after the campfire treat. Speaking of food, do you know that I've actually eaten hamster on two occasions? In Peru, hamster is considered to be a delicacy, and when you're in the mission field, you eat what is served on your plate - unless, of course, there are direct Word of Wisdom issues.

 Nevertheless, I've assured Kenna that her hamster is safe with me around.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Day 362: Christmas Aftermath

Mom and Dad slept over Christmas Eve, and the kids woke us up bright and early Christmas morning to open up their presents. The inevitable sleepiness that began to set in by breakfast time certainly took place thereafter, as you can see by the look here on Jackson's face:

Kylee, however, took a nap right in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Day 361: Silly String Attack

In two of my favorite images from Monday's family Christmas Eve party, Jeff pinned down Dallin and then proceeded to spray his face with silly string:

That's how we roll. There is really nothing else to say.

Day 360: Stalking Santa

At our Christmas Eve family party, Kylee logged on to the Web to check Santa's progress westward across the United States. At the moment she visited the NORAD Web site, he was in Jamaica.

Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 359: A Not-So-Silent Night

With 19 Plowmans, two Woods, and three dogs running around Mike's and Jana's home, it's never a silent night at our Christmas gatherings - but we do our level best to collectively make it as memorable an experience as we can, and tonight was no exception.

At 5:30, we sat down for a tasty meal that included turkey, yams, stuffing, Costco cheesecake, and many other seasonal favorites.

I found Kira snacking on this piece of cauliflower:

It was nine-month-old Jacob's first Christmas, and he took it all in with wide-eyed wonder alongside his grandmother:

After dinner, we moved over to the family room for the annual Airing of Grievances.

No, not really; that's Festivus and "Seinfeld." We, of course, took part in an annual tradition of reading the Christmas story as it is found in both Chapter 1 of 3 Nephi and Chapter 2 of the Gospel According to St. Luke. Biz, as always, did an excellent job of putting together the narration, which was coupled with musical numbers.

One of these musical numbers featured nine-year-old piano prodigy Jenna, who played "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" on the keyboard for us:

Jackson relished his role as one of the three wise men:

And so, as Tiny Tim observed: "God bless us, everyone!"

Day 358: The Candy Man

Today's photo was snapped by Jackson of me earlier tonight when he came by to pick up his weekly Super Blow Pop sucker:

See, he and I and his siblings have a deal. They come by my room for gum and candy on a regular basis - but only once a week, on Sundays after church, do they get a Super Blow Pop.

Giving out candy is one the few ways that I, as an uncle, have learned to score brownie points with the kids. If any of you out there have any additional suggestions, I'm all ears.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 357: Creepy Toy

This is Jackson's toy:

I'm not the only one creeped out by this . . . right?

Day 356: Improvables Benefit Show at West Jordan High

For the second time in two Fridays, the Improvables performed a benefit show to help raise money for a worthy cause. The setting this time was West Jordan High School, and the cause was the local Shriners' hospital.

Performing in the gym, rather than in the auditorium, was a bit of a challenge, noise wise, but the Jaguars were a very enthusiastic crowd, giving good suggestions for and enjoying our three-game, 15-minute set.

Afterward, three girls came up to us and asked for a photo - with Keenan only:

Among the other fundraising assembly activities we witnessed, the school choir and band performed, and students who raised a certain amount of money got to help shave off their principal's mustache and/or put a pie in the face of one of the teachers.

There was also a bachelor/bachelorette date auction, which Parker (who had not previously arranged to take part) jumped right up and joined in:

He netted a $10 bid. By contrast, one of the student bachelors earned $150.

It was an enjoyable experience for us as a troupe, and, all told, more than $4,200 was raised to help people in need.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 355: McRib Returns!

Today, I saw one of the tell-tale signs that Christmas is very nearly upon us. I don't mean snow or a manger scene or Christmas carolers or yet another viewing of It's a Wonderful Life, though all of those things are important.

No, I'm talking about the McRib sandwich returning to my local McDonald's restaurant.

There's very few things a McRib can't help make better - except for acid reflux. Or high blood pressure. Or about a few dozen other things. But other than that, yeah - I think I've made my point.

Day 354: Mr. Bean's Car

I had to run over to the library tonight to return a few items I had checked out.

Turns out that Mr. Bean beat me there.

Day 353: Kylee's QuinceaƱera

In Latin American culture, when a girl reaches her 15th birthday, the World's Biggest Birthday Extravaganza Imaginable is held, including a party with clowns, carnival rides, fireworks, magicians, the Harlem Globetrotters, unicorn rides, etc. (You might think I'm exaggerating. Well, I am - but only a little bit.)

Anyhoo, today was my oldest niece Kylee's 15th birthday. She's grown up so much in the past short while that it's hard to imagine - and even harder to believe she is now eligible to receive her learner's permit and to start driving.

We had a small family party for her, including cake and presents and few-to-none of the things mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. But it was enough for this 15-year-old, and she was grateful for it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 352: The White Stocking

What are you giving the Savior this Christmas?

That was the subject of tonight's family home evening lesson, which Mike invited me to take part in along with Jana and the kids. We were each given a 3x5 card, onto which we were asked to write the kinds of things we would be willing to give Him, just as if we were one of the shepherds or wise men at the manger, for a gift.

The white stocking will hang over the fireplace for the remainder of the Christmas season as a reminder of those things we wrote that we would be willing to sacrifice for His sake.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Day 351: Kenna Plays Beethoven

Technology is an amazing thing. The more I learn about it, the more I learn (1) how little I know about it and (2) how far behind I am in keeping up with the Joneses' latest doohickeys and gadgets.

Case in point: Tonight, I came through the kitchen as McKenna was using an iPad app to play Beethoven's "Fur Elise" with the mere touch of her fingers on the screen.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day 350: Improvables Benefit Show

Like many of you, I was deeply saddened yesterday by the news of the mass shooting of nearly 30 innocent school children and teachers that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. You couldn't turn on the TV or Facebook or the radio without hearing a report on it. Here in Utah, it rained and/or snowed ("sleeted"?) all day long, as the heavens seemed to be weeping for this senseless act of violence.

When I hear of a tragedy of this magnitude, the Savior's teaching comes to mind: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

When I arrived at the theater, I noticed that the American flag outside was at half-mast in a gesture of support and respect:

Our show last night was a benefit for four-year-old Koda Woodall, who is battling leukemia. The theater graciously let us perform rent-free, and since we didn't have to pay rent this night, 100 percent of the proceeds (amounting to more than $300) went to this boy and his family to help with their medical costs.

Yes, my heart definitely went out to the little children and their families in Connecticut yesterday. We want to do something or make some sort of gesture to make things better when it's not physically possible. Fortunately, life sometimes presents us opportunities, however, to pay it forward, in some small degree, to other "little ones which believe in (Him)."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 349: Jawa Bobblehead

At Tuesday night's aforementioned Improvables Christmas party, one of our activities was a white elephant gift exchange. For my contribution, I donated a roll of Justin Bieber duct tape (yes, that's a real thing) I just so happened to come across while at the store, and Shannon enthusiastically "Yankee swapped" for it and took it home. Apparently, she already has plans for how she's going to use it.

To each his/her own, I suppose.

As for myself, I ended up with a Jawa bobblehead, and I must say that it looks pretty good sitting up on my shelf.

Day 348: Ugly Sweaters

One of my favorite traditions from this time of year is the ugly sweater Christmas party. Tuesday night, that's just what the Improvables took part in together for our annual holiday shindig.

As you can see, our troupe - as they always do - went all out for this one.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Day 347: Barefoot Shoveling

Sometimes, the picture really says it all and there is nothing else for me to add.

I think this is one of those times.

Day 346: Nintendo DS

All of Luke's Plowman aunts and uncles chipped in to get him a Nintendo DS for his most-recent birthday a couple of weeks ago, and at Sunday's family dinner, he was putting it to good use, and it was taking up a good deal of his time.

As you can see from the photo, Jackson was more than willing to help him out.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 345: December Family Birthday Party

Last night, we celebrated the December birthdays in the family as part of our bi-monthly family dinner. That meant cake and presents and all sorts of goodies for Mike and soon-to-be 15-year-old Kylee, as well as another fun family game of "Pass the Parcel."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 344: Crutch Walking

The other day, I found Dallin walking around the house on these crutches:

Are you running out of topics as Project 366 winds down? you ask? Perhaps. Still, I thought it was funny.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 343: One Week with Neela

As of today, Neela has been with us for one week.

Kylee is most definitely in favor of keeping her.

Day 342: Checkmate

Last night, Jackson surprised me by asking if I'd like to play a game of chess with him. I didn't expect a four-year-old to be interested in chess, but still I accepted his offer.

What followed was much more akin to Calvin and Hobbes playing "Calvinball" than chess, as Jackson made up his own rules and, among other moves, took out my king, queen, and bishop in one fell swoop.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 341: Foggy Day, Keeping the Sun Away

Today was a very foggy day, and I love the fog.

Fog is, certainly, not fun to drive through, with its limited visibility on the roads and all, but what it does do for me is that it usually reminds me of the times I've traveled across the pond to visit family in England and of the weather there.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Day 340: Comfort Food

Sometimes, you just gotta have your comfort food.

For me, that has lately been Arby's French dip sandwiches. Dad bought one for me for lunch the other day, and I've been hooked ever since.

Day 339: Jackson and Frosty

Tonight, Jackson had a good time carrying this Frosty doll all over the house, pressing the button on its palm over and over to play the first verse of "Frosty the Snowman" and generally annoying his siblings, who were involved in their homework for school:

Day 338: Lights at Temple Square

Thanks to the customary generous supply of tickets from my inside source in the Tabernacle Choir (i.e. Pepe), I made it to the Conference Center for last night's annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional. President Monson and his two counselors delivered fantastic messages for the holiday season, and the music by the choir was great, too, as always.

It was a rather blusy day and evening, and it rained on us a good deal while we were outside, but Temple Square in December is still one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Day 337: Like a Shadow

Nearly every day, my nephew Jackson and I spend at least a little time together. Sometimes, though, for a four-year-old, "a little time" just isn't enough.

I had to get up to go to the bathroom yesterday when Jackson insisted on following me there. He came inside with me, turned to the corner (pictured above), and told me it was okay to go about my business - that he would turn his back while I did so.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 336: Neela

Mike, Jana, and the kids picked up a new family puppy today. She's a 10-month-old beagle, and the name they picked out is Neela, which means something like "warrior princess" in a foreign language.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 335: Olive Fingers

As November comes to a close and we move on to the final month of 2012 and of Project 366, today I present one final image from last week's family Thanksgiving shindig (which, like yesterday's, merited yet another face palm for my having forgotten to post it earlier).

Kira makes a very cute olive-fingered girl.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 334: Thanksgiving Puppet Show with the Nennas

One of the highlights of last week's family Thanksgiving get-together was a puppet show put together by my nine-year-old nieces Jenna and McKenna, aka the Nennas, aka the identical cousins.

I meant to post the photo a few days ago, and upon reviewing my cache today, I did a complete face palm and made a mental note to put it up for today's post.

So, here is the photo.

Incidentally, it was the world's most entertaining puppet show, but as their uncle, I'm biased like that. A lot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 333: My Dinner with Luke 2012

It's my soon-to-be-seven-year-old nephew Luke's birthday tomorrow, so tonight I took him out to dinner for our annual b-day tradition. Having heard that Burger King had been having a Super Mario toy promotion, that's exactly where he chose for us to go.

The only problem with this strategy was that Burger King, once we arrived, was not only completely out of Mario toys but also clean out of boys' toys in general. Luke was somewhat surprised, to say the least, to find a girl's toy (a headband with a shark fin attachment - yes, really) when he opened up his kid's meal:

Nevertheless, the BK staff was very apologetic on the matter, and I ended up taking him to the store to pick out a LEGO toy to make up for the mix-up.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 332: Gift Packaging

So, everything's wrapped up in a nice little package?

Sorry if that sounded sarcastic.

Mostly my family members and/or any "Simpsons" fans out there will understand the reference. Yep, Christmas shopping and wrapping is all done already. Are you on my "nice" list?

Day 331: Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

The Christmas lights are now up on the house, and I gotta say that they look very nice indeed.

Jackson agrees with me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 330: Black Friday with the Improvables

Today's photo is actually one I took following Friday night's Improvables performance, using my friend Liz Jones's camera. She was in attendance (obviously) along with a group of our friends from mid-singles institute and ended up being the audience volunteer for "Audience Sound Effects." Afterward, she posed for this group picture with the night's cast;

As you can see in the photo, Parker is doing his predictable not-making-eye-contact-with-the-camera pose.

Theater people. What can you do?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 329: Luke's Early Seventh Birthday Party

It will be my nephew Luke's seventh birthday next Thursday, the 29th, and we took advantage of the family having gathered for Thanksgiving this past Thursday to mark the additional event at the same time. We sang him "Happy Birthday," served a cake, and gave him a number of gifts, including this LEGO Star Wars set:

Though he looks rather nonplussed in the photo, he really was excited to get it. Chalk it up to that post-Thanksgiving meal sleepy-time feeling, I suppose.

Day 328: Pie in Face

It's not all-that uncommon at family gatherings for me to find Jeff picking on Kylee, and such was the case following yesterday's Thanksgiving meal, when I caught him attempting to smash her face into this chocolate pie:

Her nose got a good deal of cream on it, and that's about it. I guess there are plenty of worse things to have put on your nose. Like, for example, zits.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 327: Day of Gratitude

Dinner time:

. . . and dessert time:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.