December 26, 2014

No Quick Takes - Have a "Larry" Christmas

I'm not doing Quick Takes on the Friday after Christmas. Instead, for your holiday pleasure, enjoy Larry the Cucumber from Veggie Tales singing Oh Santa:

 

 

 

December 24, 2014

Dear Little Sister: A Christmas Letter [ACNM]

It's a little late in the game to issue you an Advent challenge. Instead, as my gift to you this Christmas Eve, I'm turning over this blog space to a distinguished guest author: my eight-year-old daughter.

First, some background information: In our household we've always tried to focus much more on Jesus than Santa during Advent and Christmas. I want to tread lightly here because what, how and when children learn about Santa is a decision best made by individual parents. So I don't intend to blatantly spill any secrets here. But I will say that my daughter has always felt "important" knowing the real deal about Santa.

She knows that others have different thoughts about Santa and is careful not to spoil things for anyone else. And I'm not just talking about other kids. A couple of years ago after Christmas Mass, the priest knelt down and asked her if Santa came to her house and brought her gifts. She smiled and adorably and innocently dodged the question because she didn't want to ruin it for the priest just in case he was still waiting for the jolly guy in a red suit to squeeze down the chimney in the rectory.

Just the other day we attended Breakfast with Santa at our parish. Santa himself asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Just like with the priest, she artfully danced around the question not wanting to reveal anything to Santa that might surprise him and Mrs. Claus.

Now, let's get back to the main point. My younger daughter is two. So this year the big one decided to give the little one some sisterly advice and explain how some families celebrate Christmas differently. She made a Christmas card for her little sister. Now I will share with you the text of that card.

Merry Christmas
To: [Little Sister]
From: [Big Sister]
Dear [Little Sister],
Understanding that this is only your [third] Christmas that maybe you might not know what to do. I decided to make a story for you about Christmas in two ways. The way that some people celebrate Christmas, and the way that we celebrate it. So get comfortable and read the two stories.
Love,
[Big Sister]
Story 1 - How other people celebrate it
You may write a letter to Santa Claus and expect to see maybe no cookies on the plate you made, with no milk in the cup for drinking and no more whatever you put in the plastic bag for Rudolph.
Story 2 - How we celebrate it
You would go to church that Sunday or the next and go to relatives' house or them come to you. You would celebrate at the fact that Jesus was born about, I don't know how many years ago it was, but... you know.

[For the rest of this post, please hop over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

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December 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 102 (Call hopping, cheap gift, penny pincher and more)

ONE: Have you ever had your phone call hijacked by someone else's Bluetooth? It happened to me on Wednesday night on the way home from my daughter's Christmas play. My wife and kids were in one car, and I was in another because I met up with them directly after work. While I was on the phone with my brother, he suddenly stopped hearing me and started hearing my wife and kids talking. Apparently, when my car got close enough to my wife's, her Bluetooth wrestled the call away from mine since my phone is paired to both cars. Weird.

TWO: There are certain advertisements that are totally unappealing to me as an introvert. I'm not a Verizon customer, but this ad popped up in my Twitter timeline recently:

 

No loyal introvert would buy a product that has "extravert" in the name.

THREE: I also winced when I received an ad from my health insurance company asking me if I want to live my my life to the fullest.

 

No, I don't!

FOUR: Looking for an affordable Christmas gift for your pet? Buy something cheap. Or in this case, cheap cheap:

 

FIVE: During a family shopping trip at the Bealls store last weekend, a woman asked if she could cut in front of me in the checkout line just to ask a quick question. I said yes, and she asked the cashier where she could find something cheap in the store because she was only one cent away from qualifying for a coupon. It reminded me of the pre-Amazon Prime days when sometimes you'd need to buy something else for a few cents just to qualify for free shipping.

SIX: In my next post for Austin Catholic New Media, I'm going to share with you the text of a Christmas card that my older daughter made for my younger daughter. She wanted to explain to her little sister the real meaning of Christmas. Come back here to Adam Introvert on Christmas Eve to check it out.

SEVEN: I won't be doing a 7 Quick Takes post on the day after Christmas next week. But I'll try to post one of our family's favorite Christmas videos. In the meantime, if you need some Christmas cheer you can re-visit my post from Christmas last year.

EPILOGUE: For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum.

 

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December 12, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 101 (CAPTCHA conundrum, repulsive wrapping, wrong highway and more)

 

1. Sometimes the CAPTCHA security features on website are a pain because it's not always easy to decipher the letters and numbers. But the one I came across the other day was utterly ridiculous. Be my guest if you can figure this one out.

2. I'm available if you need help wrapping Christmas presents. Here's a sample of my work. Pretty impressive, huh?

3. One toy that's not likely to be one of this year's hottest Christmas gifts for the kids is Varicose Veins Barbie, inadvertently created by two-year-old daughter when she went on a minor rampage with the markers.

4. We attended our church's annual Breakfast with Santa last Saturday morning. Knowing that in our household we focus far more on Jesus than Santa this time of year, someone asked me why we still brought our kids to see Santa. The answer was easy. We may not "do" Santa, but we're happy to "do" breakfast.

5. They served Capri Sun at the Santa event, and I laughed at the product's silly marketing ploy. The little pouches now have clear bottoms so you can "see the goodness." What goodness are you supposed to see in fake juice?

6. I think somebody accidentally got into the wrong line while I was waiting for confession at our parish the other day. He was wearing an AC/DC Highway to Hell concert t-shirt. But the line for confession is supposed to lead you somewhere else!

7. I delved a little bit into my conversion story in my latest post for Austin Catholic News Media. Check it out right over here.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't The Lyceum. See you next Friday.

 

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December 10, 2014

He Waited for Me, So I'll Wait for Him [ACNM]

I waited and waited and waited, then God finally showed up about three decades later. Actually, I have that backwards. It's the Lord who waited so long for me, and I finally showed up. With all that waiting in mind, Advent is a prudent time to ponder the past and prepare for the future.

My entire conversion story is a lengthier tale for another time. But I like to reflect on the highlights during the Advent season because, retroactively, I recognize that I spent so many years preparing to find my faith.

As best I can remember, there was not a particular focus on any faith in my household when I was growing up. But there are plenty of pictures of me and my brother in front of our family Christmas tree.

I'm the cute one - December 1974

 

And there's even a photo or two of me in front of a menorah. My paternal grandparents were Jewish, so when I was little our family got together with them for Hanukkah celebrations.

A future Catholic's first Hanukkah - December 1971

 

The ancestors on my mother's side were Catholic. So when I was little I used to tell people that I was "half Jewish and half Catholic." Of course, in reality I was neither. At the time, I thought Christmas and Hanukkah were primarily opportunities to get presents.

To add to the irony, when I was about fourteen I played Joseph in a live nativity scene at the "All School Sing." I stood diligently next to Mary, carefully watching over the doll that was acting in persona Christi in the manger. If only I had known how powerful a scene this was at that moment.

An Unlikely Joseph - December 1985

 

Growing up I spent part of several summers at a Christian summer camp where I experienced several new things: prayers before meals, daily devotions and Sunday services. Clearly there was something about this experience that was appealing. But once I returned home, I didn't put what I was learning into practice. I equate it to trying to learn a new language. If you don't practice, you'll lose it.

I spent three of my four high school years at a Catholic school. I don't recall that Catholic values were in any way ingrained into the curriculum. To my untrained mind, it felt more like a school that happened to be Catholic rather than a Catholic school. But there was a requirement, albeit a loosely enforced one, to attend Mass once a week. I did so, every now and then. I liked the structure of Mass, though I had no idea what it really meant and took no action to learn more. What a wasted opportunity!

There was far less religious influence during my college years. I attended a Methodist school, but the only time I can remember stepping into the chapel was the day I graduated because the chapel was the staging area where the graduates lined up.

[To read the rest of this story, please jump over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

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December 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 100 (Stooge tree, card chomper, choke-worthy coffee and more)

--- 1 ---

As usual, I spent a chunk of time at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend dragging our Christmas decorations out of the garage. I'm sorry to say that my Three Stooges Christmas ornaments didn't make it onto the tree again this year.

--- 2 ---

One of the recipients on our Christmas card list may receive a slightly used -- or slightly eaten -- Christmas card, unless we ordered a few extras. My two-year-old got ahold of the box and started chomping on one of the cards.

 

--- 3 ---

If it's not a well-known fact, then it should be: Never in the history of mankind has a little coffee maker in a hotel room produced a good cup of coffee. I gave this one a chance (after cleaning it first) when we stayed in a hotel on Thanksgiving. How did it taste? Yuck.

--- 4 ---

That reminds me of one other place where the coffee is never good: on an airplane. Whenever I order coffee on a plane, I always regret it but drink it anyway so I don't have to hang on to a full cup until trash time.

--- 5 ---

I bravely and heroically joined my wife and kids on a shopping excursion at the Hobby Lobby recently. The last thing we looked at were picture frames. And I couldn't help but wonder if this poor (model) bride's dress was itchy.

 

--- 6 ---

I am amused by the plumber who signs his name "plumber." Check out this sign I saw near a communal sink:

I guess if he had just signed his name "John" then nobody would have known he was a plumber. Or if he had signed his name "John the Plumber" then maybe that "Joe the Plumber" guy (is he still famous?) would have sued him.

--- 7 ---

All my life I thought the plural form of the word "cow" was always "cows." Then I saw this while playing Words with Friends. Who knew?

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

 

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7 Quick Takes - Vol. 100 (Stooge tree, card chomper, choke-worthy coffee and more)

--- 1 ---

As usual, I spent a chunk of time at the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend dragging our Christmas decorations out of the garage. I'm sorry to say that my Three Stooges Christmas ornaments didn't make it onto the tree again this year.

--- 2 ---

One of the recipients on our Christmas card list may receive a slightly used -- or slightly eaten -- Christmas card, unless we ordered a few extras. My two-year-old got ahold of the box and started chomping on one of the cards.

 

--- 3 ---

If it's not a well-known fact, then it should be: Never in the history of mankind has a little coffee maker in a hotel room produced a good cup of coffee. I gave this one a chance (after cleaning it first) when we stayed in a hotel on Thanksgiving. How did it taste? Yuck.

--- 4 ---

That reminds me of one other place where the coffee is never good: on an airplane. Whenever I order coffee on a plane, I always regret it but drink it anyway so I don't have to hang on to a full cup until trash time.

--- 5 ---

I bravely and heroically joined my wife and kids on a shopping excursion at the Hobby Lobby recently. The last thing we looked at were picture frames. And I couldn't help but wonder if this poor (model) bride's dress was itchy.

 

--- 6 ---

I am amused by the plumber who signs his name "plumber." Check out this sign I saw near a communal sink:

I guess if he had just signed his name "John" then nobody would have known he was a plumber. Or if he had signed his name "John the Plumber" then maybe that "Joe the Plumber" guy (is he still famous?) would have sued him.

--- 7 ---

All my life I thought the plural form of the word "cow" was always "cows." Then I saw this while playing Words with Friends. Who knew?

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

 

 

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November 28, 2014

No Quick Takes but Some Thanksgiving Waste

I'm not doing a 7 Quick Takes Friday post during Thanksgiving week. But if you want to know what I might be up to this weekend, read this classic: Epiphany Haste Makes Thanksgiving Waste.

 

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November 26, 2014

Do You "Like" God? [ACNM]

What's the last thing you do as your head hits the pillow at night or the first thing you do at the moment you wake up in the morning? In this age of constant connectedness, many of us take one last look at our email or social media before hitting the sack and another quick look when the alarm goes off in the morning. If only we were all this well connected with God.

Because you are taking the time to read this post, there's a pretty good chance that you love God. But to put this in social media terms, do you "like" God too? Instead of scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter timelines to see the status of my friends, relatives and in many cases people I barely know, the one person I should connect with at the end of the day is the Lord.

In a recent homily, Pope Francis said:

Who of us, at night, at the end of the day, remains by himself, by herself, and asks the question: what happened today in my heart? What happened? What things have passed through my heart? If we don’t do this, we have truly failed to know how to watch and guard [our hearts] well... What happened today in my heart? Did anyone I don’t know enter? Is the key in its place?’ And this will help us to defend ourselves from so much wickedness, even from that which we could do if these demons, who are very clever and at the end would cheat all of us, even if they enter.

There's an app for just about everything these days. At the end of the day, some of these apps will tell you how many steps you took, how many calories you consumed, how much money you've earned and more. In addition, there are many great Catholic apps that put the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the daily readings and hundreds of prayers at your fingertips.

But the one app I'd really love to have is one that functions just like my conscience. My smartphone would buzz every time I commit a sin -- a quick vibration for venial sins and repeated buzzing for mortal sins. Maybe the only way to silence the reminders of sin would be to go to confession and have the priest reset the app upon absolution, similar to the way a mechanic resets your car's check engine light. But alas, even all the tech geniuses in the Austin area wouldn't be able to develop an app like this. So without this app and the ability to follow God on Facebook and Twitter, I will have to stick to a traditional examination of conscience at the end of the day.
 
[To read the rest of this story, please hop over to Austin Catholic New Media.]

 

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November 21, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 99 (All kids all the time)


--- 1 ---

Don't you just hate it when you get ducks stuck in your prize chute? Or prize "shute" -- whatever that is.

We took both kids for haircuts last weekend, and I got a kick out this warning sign that was on the prize machine that magically dispenses an age-appropriate toy to each child after a haircut. And by magically I mean that the stylist covertly sticks a toy into one end of the tube, and it slides out of the other end through the prize machine.

--- 2 ---

The other thing that amused me at the kids' haircut place were the little vacuum devices on the floor near each barber chair. So in between customers the stylists just have to sweep the hair right into the vacuums. I wish sweeping were that easy at home.


--- 3 ---

Urologists say the funniest things. During a routine checkup, my older daughter's doctor said, "These are the most normal kidneys I've seen all day."

 

--- 4 ---

My daughter's third grade class is learning about the science of the future. How else would you explain the 2015 copyright in the textbook?

--- 5 ---

That same adorable daughter said to me the other day, "Daddy, I need a cold one." It's not what you think. She was asking for a glass of milk!

 

--- 6 ---

My two-year-old is very clever with her words too. I showed her a small cut on my finger. The following day we had this conversation about it:

Daughter: Daddy, you have a cut on your finger?

Adam: Yes, I do.

Daughter: I'm so proud of you!

Adam: Thanks.

 

--- 7 ---

One day when I came out of the bathroom she said, "Daddy you go pee-pee then you flush-a the potty." She was correct.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

 

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November 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 98 (Restaurant ramblings, wall art, priestly humor and more)


--- 1 ---

I have this strange introverted discomfort with using restaurant drive-throughs. I don't like to have to sit there and read a menu and make important food decisions while someone on a little speaker is rushing me, and/or there's a line of people behind me. But the other day on a whim I decided to take the kids to pick up food at Taco Bell. I haven't been there in years, so I glanced online first and discovered that I was able to place the order and pay for it through an app. And then all I had to do was click a button on the app when I was close to the store, and our food was ready when we pulled up to the window. They should market this app to introverts for sure.

 

--- 2 ---

My second big restaurant story for the week was the discovery of a typo on the little red pepper and parmesan cheese packets from an Italian place. Is the office really located inside a "suit"? We all make mistakes, but just like I said last week, it's especially important to proofread before you advertise your business.

--- 3 ---

My third big restaurant story (It was a rare week of eating out.) involves a scary piece of wall art hanging near our table at a Tex-Mex restaurant. How'd you like to have this guy staring at you while you're trying to eat?

 

--- 4 ---

My two year old is an aspiring artist. That's great, but the problem is that she's been practicing on the walls:

 

--- 5 ---

Nobody in our household is particularly fond of bugs, but when I spot something especially weird looking at the playground, it's worth snapping a pic:

 

It's hard to see in the picture because I didn't want to get too close. It looked like he was thinking about jumping on me.

--- 6 ---

The playground at our parish is a popular place for my kids to hang out. And now there's some extra entertainment right next to it, thanks to the start of the construction project of a new religious education building:

Nice view from the playground

 

--- 7 ---

I love priests who have great senses of humor. In my latest post for Austin Catholic New Media, I finally compiled a list of the funniest things I've ever heard priests say. Check it our right over here.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

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November 12, 2014

Priests Say The Funniest Things! [ACNM]

"Well, the good Lord did invent humor." I vaguely recall Fr. Mulcahy saying that once on MASH after someone apologized to him for cracking a joke. Fictional TV characters aside, priests are people too. While their primary job is to lead us to Jesus, it's also okay for priests to be funny.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

 

To give you a lighthearted break from your daily grind, I have compiled a summary of the some of the funniest things I've heard priests say over the years.

Licensed to Drive

A priest shared an amusing story about a brush with the law many years ago. He was pulled over by a police officer late on a Saturday night for drifting out of his lane. The priest admitted that he was distracted. But you'll never guess what he was doing. Texting? No. Talking on the phone? Not a chance. Dozing off? Certainly not. Drinking and driving? No way.

Image Credit: Scott Davidson

He was reading the Bible while driving. He had the Bible right there on the steering wheel and was glancing up and down while driving. Or maybe he had one eye on the road and one eye on the good book. He said he was returning home late from a trip and hadn't had time to prepare for the next morning's Mass. Is DUIP (driving under the influence of prayer) a crime?

Peeking at Prayers

I'm a Catholic convert as of 2005. Within the first year or so, I felt like I was not doing an adequate job in learning some of the basic prayers. I felt inferior during Mass when everyone else seemed to know things like the Creed by heart while I had to cheat and read it out of the book.

So I went to confession and told the priest that I was having trouble with my prayer life because as a new Catholic I thought I should have already memorized more prayers. The priest responded, "Hey, I'm a priest and I still peek at the prayers during Mass."

Clandestine Candle

During Easter time I attended a daily Mass, and in the middle of the celebration the priest noticed that the he, or perhaps somebody else, had forgotten to light the paschal candle. So he paused and said, "You may have noticed that the paschal candle is not lit. Well, I'm not going to climb up there now and light it. So just pretend it's lit."

You-Know-Who Is on the Line

No matter how many times we are warned about silencing our cell phones in church, you can almost always count on someone's phone ringing. While he never said this during Mass, one particular priest was not shy about his disdain for phone interruptions. If a phone happened to ring in the middle of a ministry meeting, he would say, "That better be God calling!"

Beat the Baptists

Another pet peeve is when people duck out of Mass before it's actually over. One priest used to remind people about this often. One day in his homily he said, "I know you want to get out of here so you can beat the Baptists to lunch, but you really need to stay until the end."

The Patron Saint of Punctuality

I'm a stickler for timeliness. So whenever anything doesn't start on time, even Mass, I get antsy. At a daily Mass one day, the priest processed in about seven minutes late. He took his place at the altar and said, "I'm sorry for being late. I was talking to Sister [name withheld], and she would not shut up."

Rest assured, the priest said this in a very humorous tone.

Good Answer

It didn't sound like an original joke, but during a homily a priest told the story of a teacher who asked his class what the difference is between ignorance and apathy. Nobody in the class answered, so the teacher asked again. Finally, he singled out a student in the front row and asked one more time, "What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?" The student replied, "I don't know, and I don't care."

Christmas Competition

My family attended Christmas Mass at 10 a.m. last year, and I was scheduled to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the position next to the priest. My older daughter who was seven at the time wanted us to sit right in the front pew closest to the altar so she could watch me give Communion. That worked out well for her, but not so much for my younger daughter who was 13-months old at the time.

She really must have liked the Eucharistic prayer, because she joyfully and loudly babbled along with the priest. He glared at her a couple of times. (Sorry, Father!) To this day he still jokes with us about how my little one competed with him during Christmas Mass, and he lost.

[There are more funny priest stories on the list. Please head over to Austin Catholic New Media to read the rest.]

 

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November 7, 2014

7 Quick Takes - Vol. 97 (Bad billiards, scary Skittles, cheese addiction and more)

 

--- 1 ---

Everyone makes mistakes. But it's especially important to proofread before you hang a sign on your business. Perhaps it's just a translation issue, but I'm pretty sure that "billiard" is misspelled on this sign I passed the other day. And what's a "culb"?

 

Out of curiosity, I looked up the place online, and "billiard" and "club" are spelled the regular way on the business' website.

 

--- 2 ---

 

It's also important to double check your political ads before you mail them. I felt sorry for the local political candidate who apparently sent out a bunch of ads with insufficient postage then had to re-send them. I'm not a political activist, so I won't mention the person's name.

--- 3 ---

We never get too excited about Halloween in our household. But we had fun taking the kids trick or treating. My main observation after scouring the neighborhood for candy is that some adults seem to take Halloween way too seriously.

 

--- 4 ---

Are people still worried about poisoned candy on Halloween? The only scary thing I found in our kids' loot were these Skittles that looked like they were recreating the scene from Alien where the thing jumps out of the man's stomach.

 

--- 5 ---

I think my two-year-old is part mouse. Whenever we ask her what she wants to eat, she always requests cheese. But we can't give it to her all the time because it makes, uhh, diaper time difficult for her. The other day I gave her a piece, and she said, "I love cheese in my mouth."

 

--- 6 ---

She also seems to crave condiments. One day she started eating salsa with a spoon. And sometimes if we offer her ketchup or mustard, she'll prefer that over whatever the main food item is. She also picked up a packet of Chick-fil-A's Honey Roasted BBQ Sauce and started eating it like it was a delicious dessert.

 

--- 7 ---

My next post for Austin Catholic New Media next Wednesday will be something I've been wanting to write for a long time. I'm finally going to be compiling a list of the funniest things I've heard priests say over the years. Don't miss it!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary.

 

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