Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sarah's Christmas Eve poem

It was the night before Christmas,
And all I could think of
was Santa and his reindeer,
flying above.

While I was sleeping,
I thought for a while
What Santa was giving
To each little child.

So I snuck out of bed,
And I went down the stairs
Santa smiled at me,
He didn't care.

But then in a flash he was gone,
And I awoke out of bed.
I ran to the window
And saw a tiny sled

With my family I went,
To the Christmas Tree
There were lots of presents,
I spotted one for me.



Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope, wherever you happen to be, you are enjoying some blessings, some family, some good food, and a bit of relaxation.

Stay safe and we'll talk again soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sarah's newest blog

She takes after her old man more and more all the time.

She decided today to add a blog--but she differs from me in the decision to delete the old one.

So, keep an eye out for entries from "My Girl's Sleepover" on the right side listing of blogs.

(And, p.s.--would you please take the time every now and then to comment on a post that she has written or answer her questions? She is occasionally discouraged--as am I--that more people don't read her blog.)

Thanks and I hope your day before Christmas Eve is wrapping up nicely.

I'm now going to drink some tea, read a bit more, then fall asleep and hope that I don't wake up with a full blown cold.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Christmas Sickness

Hannah has been getting worse rather than better since last I wrote.

She still spikes a fever about every four hours or so, unless we knock it down with Motrin or Tylenol. She is also very lethargic and not at all her energetic, talkative self.

Lynda took her to see my sister's pediatrician this afternoon and Hannah was given a shot to help control the fever (which had risen to 102+ degrees at one point).

We are taking her back again tomorrow morning to determine if she has RSV, a common childhood viral infection that I've never heard of. It seems more and more certain that the antibiotics have not knocked out the ear infections she's been fighting since last weekend. (Ear tubes are surely in our near future in the beginning of 2009.)

So, that's a sure-fire bummer . . . but anyone who has tracked our holiday travels over the years at WWYG?! knows that this sort of thing happens with frightening regularity. We'll muddle through and hope we can find a treatment that allows Lynda and I to interact with the rest of the family without having a cranky, sweaty, feverish baby attached to our hip most of the day. And, of course, we want Hannah to feel better and be the charmer she is for the people that just never get to see her.

I have plans to write more about common travelling perils and other random stuff, but it'll have to wait. I shouldn't be spending too much time here on the screen when Lynda's tending to the baby. But . . . in my defense, I DID get up with her at 5 a.m. this morning, so maybe I'm due? Who knows? But I've probably already used up that grace period.

So, possibly more interesting, cheerful topics to come in later days this week. In my head, it sounds funny. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When I say TRAVEL . . .

. . . you say SICKNESS!



That's right. Last night Sarah couldn't sleep because of a painful stomach.

Twenty minutes later she threw up.

By the time Lynda woke up from her doze of putting Hannah to bed, she found Sarah and I dozing on the couch. Sarah got to bed and so did I.

But when I woke up this morning, I immediately heard that Hannah had exhibited a slight fever during the early morning hours and that Grace had also thrown up sometime this morning.

(sigh . . . and okay, another sigh)

So, who knows that today, tomorrow brings?

Everyone seems fine now and maybe it was some sort of psychological, spiritual reaction to all of yesterday's travel.

We'll see.

I guess we've just got to live in hope.

Regardless, we're hitting the road again this afternoon, after church. But you can bet I'll say some extra prayers for healing this morning.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Go South Young Man

Well, the "young" part is probably debatable at this stage of my life . . .

I type this from the cozy, dry environs of Cherry Log, Georgia, home of Lynda's parents. We successfully completed the 600 or so mile journey from the Midwest into the Deep South today.

The journey was very smooth considering it was conducted in a medium sized van filled with suitcases, a bag of road snacks, two preadolescent, one toddler, and one adult female. (And also me.) We didn't have to pull over the side of the road at any point and strangle each other. So, all well and good.

I toyed in my mind (while driving) that I should have taken some video from the drivers seat or tried to conduct interviews with my fellow travelers as we went. But that would have been hazardous to do while I was driving and probably would have resulted in video tedium the likes of which you might never recover from. Certainly the view outside the windows would not have impressed. It gray from sunup to sundown as we traveled southward. And once we hit southern Tennessee it rained and rained and rained and rained some more.

We had originally planned to leave after work last night, but the promise of perilous weather from our crack Storm Team 4 on Thursday night was "just" convincing enough to make us wait another half day. Naturally, Friday was rainy but otherwise nothing at all to get worked up about. And once again, I question the millions of dollars that our local news channels spend on Street-Level Doppler Radar and the Hi-Speed Weather Helicopters, not to mention . . . well, I've complained about all of that before.

Tomorrow will be church with the family, lunch, and then back on the road for the last leg of this part of the journey--Tifton, Georgia, home of the world-famous (??) Agrirama.

Until later, hope your final preparations for Christmas are going well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This morning's dream

Another post about a dream . . .

In this dream I was in jail. But it wasn't a glamorous, rock pile Shawshank type of edifice. Rather, it was a much more low-rent "jail."

Really, I never experienced the cells and bars, key and lock, two floors with metal catwalks and a big open yard to recreate in kind of jail setting. Instead, it was simply the baseline knowledge that this place that I was in WAS a jail. It didn't look like a jail. It didn't operate like a jail. I was never physically locked into anything at all. I never saw guards, wore a striped uniform. I didn't break rocks or haul around a ball and chain.

I just KNEW, deep inside, for no reason, that this was incarceration. Such is the bizarre logic of dreams.

So . . . what was it like?

It was more like a prefabricated building. A modular building that is crane-lifted into place and held together with staples, caulk, and hidden clamps that pull the seams of the double-wide together into a big lobby that is carpeted over and called the latest branch of your local South Georgia regional bank. It really felt more like the kinds of trailer-type buildings that I took classes in in college when the campus was expanding rapidly and all the construction money was going to the nursing school or the business school and the humanities were left out in the cold.

So, the actual environment of the jail was more like a big 20 x 20 room in this modular construction. The other inmates were milling around in this room that seemed to be a game room of sorts. There were tables and other people, but it all was very vague. What was immediately around me was sharp and worthy of remembering, but everything else was just an impression of a space and people.

I know that the committee of people that ran the jail operated out of a conference room that was adjacent to the community game room. I could see inside it through two glass French doors that I never did open. But through the glass I could see big photo-realistic paintings and semi-abstract art hanging on the walls surrounding a ovalish conference table where the jailers sat and discussed whatever it was they did. The most interesting thing about this room/the paintings/and the entire situation really was that I KNEW that I was related to the people running the jail.

I knew this because some of the paintings on the walls featured my brother Muleskinner back when he was in the high school marching band. I could recognize his image through the French doors. I knew that people in the conference room knew me. I had a feeling that I belonged in there and NOT in jail with the other inmates. I also thought that I could use this personal connection to the jailing committee to curry favor--snitching on inmates, feeding the jailers choice bits of gossip, whatever, to improve my own lot while incarcerated. And maybe if I played my cards right, I could be sprung early on "good behavior."

But I was playing a dangerous game.

I couldn't let the other inmates know that I was squealing on them. I couldn't let the inmates know that I had some sort of familial (if that IS what it was?) connection to the people that ruled their lives. I had to play it cool.

I was sorting out all of these potentials and dangers when I woke up.

Too bad, really. It might have led to some very interesting insights.

Friday, December 12, 2008

You'd better watch out

. . . you'd better not cry.

You'd better not pout.

I'm telling you why . . .


Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Christmas Blunder

Christmas is a bit of an issue here at the Ohio Martin's household.

You see, Christmas is coming extra early this year.

We've decided to begin our holiday travels on the 19th, and we want to give the kids time to enjoy their Christmas gifts before we leave them behind for almost ten days.

So, we've decided to ask Santa to come this Saturday. (!!!) He was gracious enough to look at his calendar, consult with his elf foreman, and rearrange one of his rare December days off to make my kids happy. (Truly Santa understands the spirit of the season!)

But . . . I really caused a problem earlier tonight.

You see, I unthinkingly ate Santa's cookies.

Lynda had made some of her signature Christmas cookies last weekend. (Check out this video to see the making of the batch two years ago.) We had a few left after giving some of them to the daycare teachers and . . . well . . . I ate them.

Cookies are my green kryptonite, you see. They are my severe food weakness. I guess brownies would be my red kryptonite--exposure to which weakens my inhibition about trying to eat too much.

So, I convinced everyone to put down the pitchforks and let me bake a batch of brownies so that we would have something sweet to thank Santa for coming to our house so early. To make it appropriately Christmasy, I placed a candy cane on top of the brownie batter. It'll be baked in crunchy goodness.

So, crisis averted.

But next time, just put the cookies in a lead-lined box.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What am I missing?

I listen daily to Planet Money.

According to Tuesday's podcast this recession is remarkable because consumer spending is disappearing rather than corporations restructuring their bad spending (which is apparently the typical recessionary cause).

But I don't feel that my family has radically changed our spending habits despite the daily dire news.

So, what am I missing?

Lynda and I are very lucky to have two good jobs that appear solid and not in danger--either because our industry is more secure (not likely?) or because we are "too valuable" (a foolhardy assumption EVER). But I'm foolishly putting it out there--really a reflection of my laziness to consider the possibility of job searching nightmares.

So really we aren't so much lucky as I am shortsighted and foolish . . .

ANYWAY . . .

I keep hearing that everyone has stopped spending, but we are still spending money daily on groceries, buying lunch at the work cafeteria rather than brown-bagging, we've bought Christmas presents (maybe a few less, but not SEVERELY so). In short, it doesn't FEEL that different for me.

So, again, what am I missing?

One person on the podcast mentioned that he was also buying big ticket items for Christmas, but rather than heading to Best Buy to get new, he was purchasing used big screen TVs and game consoles off of Craig's List.

So, is this what's really going on ? Are the economically profligate getting smacked in the head with their speculative ways while the more economically cautious troll along behind them, sucking up their cast offs over the Internet?

Is the recession a reboot of consumer irrational exuberance AND an Internet-based/consumer 2.0 attack on brick-and-mortar, person-to-person consumerism?

Or am I simply missing what's really going on?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Video Tuesday: The Gateway Toy

Tonight a cautionary tale about the perils of the gateway toy!

You may think everything is fine and dandy in this typical suburban home on this typical December evening.

Supper is finished; dishes are washed; children are playing cheerfully. But a baleful presence lurks!

NOTE: To appease Lynda, who refuses to see the humor here, let me state that this video does, in no way, aim to cast any aspersions upon the general cleanliness of the house. I fully recognize that our home is very neat, tidy, organized, and put together--extremely so when you consider that we have three children. I am simply pointing out the concept of toy creep--how one toy leads to another, leads to another, leads to . . . well, whatever.

Yet, in fairness to ME, I must point out that the video was taken AFTER I had picked up a bit. To say that the toys don't get cluttered is to be willfully in avoidance. I will also say that keeping the toys in their corners IS a daily task, as I said. We could--like many parents--simply give up and let the chaos reign, winding out footsteps through a Sargasso sea of stuff.

I chose NOT to accept that lifestyle.

And so, the Gateway Toy is, in my view, presents a valid--and intentionally humorous--point.

My plea is now over.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Updates on LOST

The premiere of Season 5 of LOST is slowly approaching.

You can get a glimpse of a new promotional poster for season five, PLUS a two-minute preview of the season premiere episode "Because you Left" via

You can also catch up on previous episodes via a limited time offer on the seasons one through three CD boxed sets via this link. (h/t again to

But if you don't want to spend that kind of money right now, then you can catch up on some of the most important moments in LOST history via the five videos I have linked to over on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Of Lights, Dates, and Pumpkin Cakes

My back hurts.

I don't really know what I did to tweak it, or pinch the nerve, or whatever has led to the pain. I just know that if I twist the wrong way or bend a bit too far, the dull ache in my right mid-back flares into something more difficult.

Perhaps I just tried to get too many things done today.

It started out well, pretty much.

Going into the weekend, I had some things I wanted to accomplish--get the Christmas lights put up outside the house and also get my Gluttonfest baking done.

What's Gluttonfest, you ask?

Well, Gluttonfest is a December tradition at my office department. It used to be a month-long sybaritic celebration of holiday food. Every day someone would bring in brownies, a cake, some doughnuts, popcorn, fudge, cheese, olives, fruit, you name it. (Heck, one year, my man B. cooked waffles to order on a electric skillet.)

The idea was, I think, kicked off by one of the department managers before I showed up. But after he left, I took over the unofficial oversight of the Gluttonfest insanity. A few years back, I cut the length of the affair down to two weeks in December to appease the growing number of people who were slowly revolting against the excessive food and extra poundage that every December signalled. 

And but so, tomorrow is  the first day of Gluttonfest 2008. I am bringing some date bars (recipe courtesy of Grace's godmother--she of the excellent white chocolate cheesecake) and a new cake creation that is some sort of fusion of pumpkin pie and a yellow cake. I've never tried it before (and, truth be told, Lynda put that particular recipe together this morning . . . so I still haven't created it) so, when it gets tasted tomorrow, I hope it is well received.

I usually end up going first on Day 1, since I'm the organizer--I keep the sign-up sheet at my desk and I'll send out the email announcement tomorrow morning. I feel I should go first to keep the pressure off of anyone else. Though I worry that I'll completely shatter my on-again/off-again "diet" during the next two weeks, Gluttonfest is an important morale booster around the office (I think, anyway) so I don't want it to fade away.

The other task I accomplished today was (with Lynda's help) getting lights strung up out front. We hung some icicle lights on the porch eaves and draped a few more icicles lights around one of the bushes out front. But it wasn't enough! I went out later in the evening and found a nice outdoor lighting thing of a polar bear and a wrapped Christmas gift. It wasn't hard to put together and I think it adds a nice whimsical touch to the outside of the house--plus a bit of extra color. I'm not about to start over-accessorizing and turn the house into some kind of Clark Griswoldian nightmare . . . but it is nice to have a cheery looking home when the snow on the ground makes everything seem dark and cold.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Chock full o' video

Tonight's post is some text, but really, the text only exists to deliver the video.


Well, perhaps today I am textually bankrupt. (Does that even mean anything?)

Or perhaps I am thinking about concepts--always THINKING about concepts and never fully making concepts become viable, regular reality.

But, the REAL reason is that I am trying out a new camera with a stouter memory card that allow for more lengthy videos. And with lengthier videos comes the idea of video podcasting now and again. I won't go so far as to prematurely announce Video Thursdays or anything, but the thought did cross my mind. It would be something new--and I'm always thinking (but not doing) something new.

So, here is a video. It's lengthy and you can probably skip right on past bits of it--if you don't find kid-based stream of consciousness interesting. (But you will get to see brief Christmas decorations--but no presents yet, so back off Internet thieves!!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


December 3 is STANDfast day.

On this day, why not give up some regular purchase that you make every day and instead donate that little bit of savings to the STANDfast organization? All of this collected money will be donated to relief efforts in Darfur and eastern Burma.

Most people (in the U.S. at least) would probably say that we don't think about the plight of these people enough--if at all really. Most people, if asked, would like to find a way to help.

This opportunity to fast from something of your own and turn that money toward something more beneficial is such a small sacrifice. But collectively, these small actions can add up to something impressive.

(Taking a deep breath and hoping this won't turn anyone off. PLEASE just hear me out!)

I first heard about STANDfast through my regular Harry Potter podcast listening, where I was introduced to Andrew Slack, who created the HP Alliance. This grassroots organization has taken the compassionate example shown by  many of the characters in the book series to act on behalf of the less fortunate and the severely disadvantaged all around us today.

I must say that I have always been mightily impressed by the charitable willingness of the Harry Potter fans that have taken many opportunities to turn their purchase of HP-related items into sizable charitable donations over the years. (For instance, the last two years, sales of a Wizard Rock Christmas album has generated money for Book Aid International.

So, give up Wednesday's cup of Starbucks. Eat a smaller lunch--to save weight and to gather some donatable savings. And make sure that whatever money you save is submitted to STANDfast.