Warm, fuzzy memories with the Berenstain Bears

I was saddened to see the news this morning that Berenstain Bears co-creator Jan Berenstain died.

And then, of course, I began getting nostalgic about all the good times I've had with that furry family who lived in the Bear Country and taught me valuable lessons about junk food, sharing, going to the dentist and Christmas, among other things.

The memories I have of collecting those books and having my parents or grandparents read them to me at night rank among my fondest childhood memories.

And now, one of favorite parts of being a father is seeing Phoebe delight in having Kates or I read those very same books to her before she goes to bed at night.

The books live on.


Glorious fun

We've had a glorious weekend.

With temperatures in the 60s today, we did our church stuff. Then I demanded that we get outside for a walk.

I retrieved Phoebe's pink tricycle from its winter storage facility -- aka the basement. Then, Kates and I walked the neighborhood, with Phoebe peddling alongside us, and headed for the playground on the university campus. Phoebe climbed the monkey bars, slid down the slides, and swung on the swingset for what seemed like hours as Kates and I stood nearby and took it all in.

Now I've got some records on as I prepare for my mind for another week. A glorious way to end a glorious weekend.
* * *

This morning we said goodbye to Kates' parents, who arrived Thursday night to spend the weekend with us. ... To say Phoebe was happy having Grandma and Grandpa S. around this weekend is an understatement. There were some serious tears running down her cheeks this morning as they prepared to leave.

I can't say we did anything out of the ordinary or overly exciting with them here. Nowadays, any time we can visit family members, their presence alone is enough.

After they arrived Thursday night, we ordered food from a Thai food place in town that Kates and I have wanted to try for a while -- and it was good. ... Friday, Kates, Phoebe and I went off to school, but the grandparents followed and spent a little time with Phoebe in her classroom during the morning. During the evening, we dined out at one of The 'Ville's finest restaurants.

Saturday, we slept late. And in the afternoon, Kates and her mother finished a duvet cover they've been working on for Phoebe's bed, while Kates' dad and I walked to the campus for the Bearcat basketball team's regular season finale.

Going in, I knew it had the potential to be a thriller. Our team was going up against a close rival in basketball, both teams were ranked in the top 20, and the winner took the conference championship.

The 'Cats burst out to a 10-2 lead to start the game, and they held a 34-23 lead at halftime. Things looked good.

But the game got interesting during the second half. Our opponent chipped away at the lead and then, with 1:20 remaining in the game, tied the score at 63 with a pair of free throws.

Both teams battled for the lead and the game came down to a final possession for our opponent at the 15-second mark. After a timeout, the away team ran a play. Missed a jumper for the win. Missed a tip-in for the win. And the Bearcats grabbed the rebound with 4 seconds left in regulation.

I jumped so high in the bleachers that I nearly stumbled on the bench in front of me on my way down.

Our star point guard sank two free throws with two seconds left. And then it was over. Our team won the game 67-64, and "We Are the Champions" began to power through through the sound  system as the players received the conference trophy.

We hung around to watch the celebration play out and see the players cut down the nets. It was a glorious scene to witness ...

On a glorious weekend.


Late night laughs

So I finally got around to watching last weekend's Saturday Night Live tonight.

Ha-larious. I thought it ranked alongside Emma Stone's appearance as one of the top episodes of what has been a pretty good season.

The current cast is at its funniest when the guys and gals are doing impressions of pop culture icons and when SNL alumni and friends drop in. With SNL alumna Maya Rudolph hosting the show last weekend, there was plenty of both.

EW, in its review, wrote that the "hysterical and edgy episode of SNL may have been the ultimate unifier: A fusion of greats from the show’s past effortlessly blending with the new."

I laughed out loud a lot. ... Here are my favorites sketches of the night ...

Amy Poehler returned, too! ... And she stayed on after the Really!? bit to co-anchor the newscast with Seth Myers.

This sketch is worth watching just to see Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader cracking up.

And finally, I think Fred Armisen's Barack Obama impression is great. But when he melds it with an impression of Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable -- even better.

(Sadly, what this SNL-provided video clip doesn't show is the bonus portion of the sketch, which had the cast members doing a classic Cosby Show scene and Amy Poehler jumping in as Hillary Clinton. Here's the original scene, and here's the SNL clip that some guy recorded off his TV.)


Not so happy Valentine’s Day

Well, our Valentine’s Day didn’t exactly go the way I had imagined.

I had written a Valentine’s Day tribute to Kates and I on the marker board that adorns our refrigerator. I had a sentimental card with a sweet passage ready to go. And I had a card picked out for Phoebe to give Kates, too, which Phoebe – as always – colored with some crayons to give it her own seal of approval.

I was going to try to beat Kates home from school and have James Taylor music playing on the iPod as we prepared for supper. Kates had plans to make one of her special meals.

Then, for the grand finale, I was going to hand Kates her card and an envelope that contained two tickets to James Taylor’s appearance at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre in July. I wished for a James Taylor do-over a few weeks ago, and it was granted just days afterward.

None of my plans happened. Because of some circumstances at my workplace this week, I’ve been working some crazy hours and didn’t arrive home until after 9 p.m. Tuesday night. Phoebe was already sleeping in her bed, so I missed getting her excited description of her school Valentine’s party and the cards she received.

Instead Kates and I had a quiet exchange of cards and hugs on the living room couch.

It was a Valentine's Day to remember. For all the wrong reasons.


Grammy night!

Oh, Grammys, how nice it was to spend some time with you again last night. I missed you.

Last night's Grammys show was arguably the most anticipated in recent memory. ... It seems like it's been a couple years, since I really got to soak it in and enjoy the show. So, maybe it was the blur of the last couple years' shows that caused me so much excitement for this year's awards.

Either way, I was not disappointed.

We counted down the nights last week as the big show drew closer. For our household it was like the Super Bowl all over again. But perhaps more exciting than the football. Few things make me happier than good music.

Our pregame was the Adele interview on "60 Minutes." ... I've said it again and again. The woman was everywhere in 2011, and rightly so. Those who follow music closely had her "21" album pegged as a serious Album of the Year candidate even before its release early last year. Some of my most vivid memories of the year have that album playing in the background, from unpacking boxes in our new house on a Saturday morning last spring, to being mesmerized with the "Rolling in the Deep" video from the first time I saw it, to a late night of work last fall with my cohorts in the office as a student group blasted the album outside, to the instant classic of a "Saturday Night Live" skit that featured "Someone Like You."

I keep wondering if this is what it was like in 1977 after the release of "Rumours," or in 1983 after the release of "Thriller." I have some recollection that this is what it was like in 1993 after "The Bodyguard" was released.

... Plus, there's so much to like about Adele.

* * *

On with the Grammys show ...

Bruce Springsteen opened the festivities. I'm not a big fan of Bruce, but I really enjoyed his opening act -- strings and all.

With the first performance out of the way and the crowd settled, we got the standard pan of the stars. There was Taylor Swift, looking pretty as usual. Katy Perry, with blue hair. And Lady Gaga, wearing a full body fish net. ... At one point during the telecast, the TV flashed a shot of Lady Gaga sitting next to Miranda Lambert, and I couldn't help but chuckle at the odd pairing.

The moment that LL Cool J led the Grammys audience in a prayer for Whitney Houston was a touching one. ... Then, during a montage of Whitney that followed, Phoebe stood in front of the TV, staring at the screen. And at a point where Whitney was shown hitting one of her out-of-this-world notes, Phoebe blurted out "Who is that singing?!"

For me, the first highlight of the night came courtesy of Bruno Mars. To quote one of my Twitter friends, he killed it. ... Arguably, my favorite performance of the night.

Shortly afterward, the award for Best Pop Solo Performance. As the songs up for the award were run off, I thought, Tough category when you think of the play the songs and artists in this category have had during the last year. Lady Gaga: "You and I." Bruno Mars: "Grenade." Katy Perry: "Firework." Pink: "Perfect." Adele: "Someone Like You." ... Alas, Adele won it, and I said, "Let the route begin."

The Rihanna-Coldplay collaboration was a disappointment. And awkward.

But the Chipotle Foundation commercial that followed -- featuring Willie Nelson redoing Coldplay's "The Scientist" -- was fantastic.

In the Best Rock Performance, I was rooting for Coldplay. But it went to the Foo Fighters, to the surprise of almost no one. … In the acceptance speech, Dave Grol said he’s proud of his band's record because they made it in a garage with some microphones and a tape machine. He went on to say making good music isn't about sounding perfect or having the latest and greatest technology. I almost stood up and applauded.

* * *

While it might have been the most anticipated Grammys show in recent memory, there was no individual performance I anticipated more than that of the Beach Boys, especially when I learned Foster the People would perform with them.

And speaking of artists who were everywhere last year, another was Foster the People, thanks to their "Pumped Up Kicks." Which, by the way, is currently Phoebe's favorite song. She knows and sings to most of the chorus -- hey, don't judge my parenting skills; it's got a fun melody and I had no idea she'd learn to like the song so much -- and she's calls it "the children song" because the chorus includes the word kids. Cute. ... In addition to watching Adele's "60 Minutes" interview, we warmed up for the Grammys by playing "Pumped Up Kicks" and dancing in the living room.

Somewhere I missed the note that Foster the People would play as part of a tribute performance with the Beach Boys. Instead, I was having giddy visions of Foster the People performing "Pumped Up Kicks" with the Beach Boys adding their own twist and harmonies. After all, the song has a summery surf vibe that's right up the Beach Boys alley. And oh, that "Pumped Up" base line ...

As it turned out, that's not at all what happened. But the tribute was just as swell.

Maroon 5's cover of "Surfer Girl" was so slick that if it appears on iTunes tomorrow, I'll download it in a heartbeat. Foster the People’s take on “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” wasn't as good, but still pretty decent for my tastes. I especially liked that they dressed in the Beach Boys' vintage striped look.

When the real Beach Boys appeared, I was pleased to hear them perform "Good Vibrations," although I would have preferred a longer Beach Boys montage that also included hits like "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "I Get Around." ... Unfortunately, the performance was more fun to hear than to watch. Quite simply, they're hardly the band they once were.

Check out this gem featuring Jack Benny and Bob Hope getting hip with the Beach Boys.

* * *
Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine” nearly put me to sleep. I didn’t love it.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by Taylor Swift’s cheerful, bouncy performance of "Mean." ... I like Taylor’s music a lot. But if you think about her history of poor live performances (See: The 2010 Grammys, 8:46 mark), her Grammys showing this year was pretty good. ... I'm a sucker for cheerful, bouncy performances.

Plus from Twitter ...

* * *

Adele won Song of the Year, hands-down for "Rolling in the Deep."

And then she sang. ... And the twitterverse either exploded, or went silent, depending on your point of view.
@globerodman: Adele! Adele! Adele! Starting off a cappella. Translation: "This is live singing, y'all!" #welcomeback #Grammys

@EW: Quiet now. Adele's singing

@USATodayMusic: Adele. Nuff' said. #Grammys

@JPosnanski: How magical is it to be able to just suddenly do something and make jaws drop? #adele

She was amazing. As expected. ... And if it wasn't for Bruno Mars' dazzling dance moves, this would've been my favorite performance of the night.

* * *

There was the Glenn Campbell tribute, which was another neat moment. I must admit though, I only know about Glenn Campbell because he toured with the Beach Boys back in the day. I’d be hard pressed to name one of his songs.

Carrie Underwood with Tony Bennett went down as my favorite collaboration on a night filled with them. From Alicia Keys with Bonnie Raitt, to Kelly Clarkson with Jason Aldean, to Rihanna with Coldplay. And all the kids that played with the Beach Boys.

When Bon Iver won Best New Artist, I sprang from the couch, pumped my fist and let out a loud "Yes!" I thought The Band Perry had that one wrapped up, but I was glad to be wrong. … I was hooked on the guy when I caught the buzz surrounding his first album already a couple years old. The shout out to Eau Claire, Wis., was nice, too.

And how could you not have chills running through your spine as Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You” ?

* * *
Finally, Paul McCartney performed the Beatles' "Abbey Road" medley of "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End." Classic.

Icing on the cake: Watching Sir Paul jam it up with Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh and Dave Grol.

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Thank you, Grammys. See you next year!

Good reads ...
a Grammys 2012: The full list of winners
a A Prayer, a Celebration and a Coronation
a Chicago Tribune music critic
a The New York Times Critics' Notebook
a Rolling Stone
a EW: We Grade the Performances
a Nicki Minaj levitates, lights fires, speaks in tongues for Grammys performance of new single 'Roman Holiday' ... Worst performance ever.
a There's more to Adele's song than lyrics, more than music


Vow for a date night

Another week. And not much different than the previous week. Long hours at work and long nights working on my graduate studies.

With Valentine's Day coming up, I circled last night on our calendar and pledged to Kates a couple weeks ago that it would be a date night. We were leaving Phoebe with a sitter and hitting the town.

After checking around to see who was available, we booked our friend Whitney for the night. Phoebe adores her, and when Whitney arrived shortly before 6:30, Phoebe giggled and danced with glee. ... She had a whole night planned of watching movies, pretend-baking at her play kitchen and making valentines for her grandparents. They did just that, and Phoebe reportedly zonked out around 8:30 as they watched "Enchanted."

Kates and I, meanwhile, planned for a dinner at one of The Ville's finest restaurants before hitting up a 9 p.m. showing of "The Vow." ... There are other movies we'd rather see, but when you have just one movie theater in town and it has just five screens -- you take what you can get.

Dinner was delicious. I had a sirloin; Kates had a salad. And we ran into several friends who were also getting away from their kids for the evening, making for some nice conversation as we waited out the 30-minute wait time for a table.

Shortly before 8, we were reboarding our car and trying to figure out how to pass the time until the movie. ... We headed to Walmart to do some grocery shopping. Romantic, right? After all, the temperature outside was just 6 degrees, so we didn't have to worry about getting the cold stuff home to our refrigerator.

Even with our shopping spree, we were at the movie theater plenty of time before the showing. We had enough time for a drink at the diner and perused the upcoming releases. It was then that I checked my phone for the latest headlines and gasped at the news of Whitney Houston's death. It will go down as one of those "Where were you when ... " moments. But more on that later.

Eventually we joined the throng of teenagers waiting for the 9 o'clock showings and found our seats in the theater. I bet half the high school students in The 'Ville decided to see "The Vow." Kates groaned at the fact that we were so outnumbered, but I reassured her they were respectful youths. And I was right.

"The Vow," in case you haven't heard, is a heart-wrenching story -- inspired by true events -- of a young married couple whose lives are changed when they are both injured in a car crash. The man, Leo (played by the suddenly everywhere Channing Tatum), survives with few injuries, but Paige (played by the lovely Rachel McAdams) suffers severe brain trauma and loses all memories of anything that occurred during the five years before the car crash, including her relationship with Leo. Before the crash, Paige was a free-spirited art student and madly in love with Leo, but when she wakes from her coma she knows herself only as a young law student from an affluent family and thinks Leo is one of her doctors.

The film was good, but I wouldn't call it great. The characters suffer unimaginable heartache as they try to reconnect, and there are moments in the film that you want to scream at Paige's family for the mind games they seem to play with her. But you have to see the film to connect those details. ... The acting isn't always convincing. The plot also drags at times, but to the filmmakers' credit the movie keeps the audience from never fully knowing how the story will play out.

The film takes place in Chicago. So more than anything Kates and I enjoyed all of the wonderful city scenery in the film, being able to reconnect for those 104 minutes with our former home and remember the good times we shared there.

I also enjoyed the soundtrack and the emotion it added to certain scenes in the film.

And there's a key shot just before the car crash scene that shows Paige unbuckling her seat belt. After all my years of covering crime and reading police reports detailing car accidents, I couldn't help but watch that scene play out and think, Oh, I hope all of these teenagers are watching and making mental notes of this.

Here's the movie trailer ...

* * *

While I'm talking about movies ...

There's a few others I've seen recently, but I was either too tired or busy to blog about them. Or they didn't blow me away enough that I wanted to rush to my computer and detail what I'd just seen. In these cases, it was all of the above.

"Whip It" ... Stellar cast, and I'll watch anything with Ellen Page. But it took me awhile to get into it. The ending was a nice payoff, though.

"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" ... What a letdown -- in the ranks of "40-year-old Virgin," "Wedding Crashers" and other overrated comedies. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was -- I'm gonna say it -- forgettable.

"500 Days of Summer" ... Oh, how I was dazzled the first time I saw the trailer for this one -- Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel? It had to be great, right!? ... But Kates and I never did get around to seeing it, until I caught it on TV a couple weeks ago ... There are some good scenes and fun quirks to the film -- the best being after Toms first night with Summer. But, sadly, it didn't live up to the hype in my head.

* * *

About Whitney Houston ...

In the days and weeks ahead, much will be written about her rise to stardom and her fall from it. But I'm not sure you can be a true music fan without having some admiration for that powerful voice she possessed.

My mother was a big fan, so my childhood was filled with Whitney Houston songs playing on the radio or the cassette deck on the boombox in our kitchen and nights of watching Whitney perform on television specials, especially during the 1991 Gulf War. And oh, how my mother loved "One Moment in Time," which, for the record, may go down as my favorite Whitney Houston song.

But as I've reflected on those time the last several hours, two memories really stick out ...

The first is from a Christmas around the time that the young Whitney was bursting onto the music scene, and her debut album was hot; it must've been 1985. I don't remember if it was my father who gave the cassette tape to my mom as a gift that year, or if it was my brother and I who gave it to her, probably with some help from my dad. But I do remember that bright orange cover and the sounds of "Saving All My Love for You" and "Greatest Love of All" blaring many mornings and nights from that boombox in the kitchen.

The second memory stems from sometime around November 1992. My dad, brother and I were shopping one Saturday for a new caravan -- my dad's Plymouth Reliant station wagon had been totaled by a deer one morning as he drove to work, but that's another story. And as we test-drove cars and listened to the radio, we heard Whitney's "I Will Always Love You" for the first time. I remember thinking at that time that it was the greatest song I'd ever heard. By the time we were driving home our new blue Dodge Caravan that night, I'll bet we'd heard the song a half-dozen times and almost had it memorized. Not long after that, I purchased "The Bodyguard" soundtrack on cassette, and I remember looking at the music charts in the newspaper for weeks afterward and seeing the album at the top for what seemed like an eternity.

Good memories. It's too bad Whitney's were cut so short.


I wish I could, but I can't

So The Shins have announced their spring tour dates. ...

Not surprisingly, there's not a Kansas City date in the bunch.

There is a date in Council Bluffs, Iowa, however. Which is about a two-hour drive north. I could do it.

But it's May 31, and here's what makes that especially interesting. ...

Baby No. 2's due date is now May 30. ... I went through this before. You may remember a certain concert around the time of Phoebe's birth.

Let's recap: Phoebe's due date was April 10. The college in K-Town announced it was bringing in Counting Crows April 12. I secured tickets with the idea that I'd go if the baby was born, everyone was healthy and all was well. Or I'd get rid of the tickets if the circumstances weren't right. ... As it turned out Phoebe was born early on the morning of April 12, all was good and I caught the Counting Crows that night with some friends. I'm still amazed at how I pulled it off.

I'm not sure I could do it again. The fact that The Shins will be playing two hours away and not across town from the hospital, as the Counting Crows had done, doesn't help my case.

So I'm taking a pass. And I'll continue to think back to what might have been my best chance at seeing The Shins.



Super Sunday

There's not a lot of new news to report from our house.

Last week was a busy one. My regular work required me to go hard during the day, and then my graduate work had me pretty tied up at night. On Friday night and Saturday morning I attended my graduate classes, and I spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon in my office trying to get some extra work done. Last night we watched the big KU-Missouri game ... which the Jayhawks should have won, but I'm not going to waste my time griping about it.

Yesterday, we did our usual church and Sunday School routine and then came home for a couple hours and grabbed some lunch before heading back to the church for the afternoon. Our church is offering Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course; Kates and I registered and think it will be good for us to pick up some financial pointers in these tough economic times. We'll be in that course for the next 13 weeks.

And then -- cue NBC Sunday Night Football music -- the Super Bowl ...

* * *

Let's start with the musical performances ...

Kelly Clarkson’s national anthem gave me chills and made me smile. It was perfectly simple, and I loved the sound of children accompanying her.

Madonna's halftime show? I didn't like it so much.

The dancing was awkward and bordered on awful. I would have been content to watch Madonna pace the stage and sing instead of seeing her perform some of those lame kick moves and prance around with toga-clad men. The cameos by LMFAO and Cee-Lo (Spinner tweeted: We've decided we all want Cee Lo's sequined snuggie) were nice, but ...

What was M.I.A. trying to pull when she flipped the bird to her nationally televised audience? ... For the record, I was looking away from the TV when the gesture occurred. A few minutes later I saw a tweet from someone wondering if anyone else saw what he thought he'd seen. And by the end of the game it was all over the internet -- with pictures.

The one upside of Madonna's show were the special effects, particularly during “Like a Prayer.”

Here's a blog from The Washington Post that closes reflects my observations of the performance.

* * *

I've said in recent years that I've thought the quality of the Super Bowl commercials has waned over the years, as if we've been primed to expect commercials that are more comical, more explosive, more dazzling than the year before. Thus, I watched with considerably lower expectations this year.

On top of that, we got a whole week worth of previews this year as some companies leaked their Super Bowl commercials early. Sure, I get that the internet is changing the media landscape, but the leaks make companies' decisions to throw millions of dollars at a 30-second spot during the big game even more questionable.

One of the most-talked about commercials during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, of course, was the Honda spot with Matthew Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thought it was overrated.

My favorite commercials -- hands-down -- were those from Chevy ...

As well as Volkswagen's doggy/Star Wars commercials -- great follow-ups to last year's classic Darth Vadar kid. The latter commercial from this year was one of those released early ...

I give honorable mentions to Hyundai's spot just before kickoff that featured employees singing the Rocky theme.

Best Buy ...

NFL.com's "Timeline" ...

And Samsung's commercial because of its ridiculous incorporation of that one-hit wonder, The Darkness's "I Believe In A Thing Called Love."

You can watch more of the best and worst commercials here.

* * *

Like most years -- last year being the exception, of course, when the Packers were playing -- the game was mostly background noise.

After we returned from church the second time, Kates and Phoebe made a grocery store run while I took in the pregame. They returned with plenty of goods and fixings to build some homemade sub sandwiches; I made a toasted seafood sandwich. And it was good.

At 3 years old, Phoebe is at an age now where she's starting to understand when something exciting is happening and can join in the fun. Rather than just being present in the room and being content with some blocks.

"Welcome to the Super Bowl, Phoebe!" I said in the midst of a high point in the game.
"I'm not there," she said, shaking her head and licking her ice cream cone.

She sat next to Kates on the couch, eating her supper and dessert, watching the game and taking it all in. Later, she intently watched as Kates and I judged the halftime performance and debated whether Madonna was lip-syncing. "I think she's really singing," Phoebe proclaimed.

If I had to tell you which team I was rooting for, I picked the Giants. But I wouldn't have minded a Patriots win, either.

I like the Giants for their scrappy play, Eli Manning as the ever-underdog, and because there's a Bearcat on the roster.

I like the Patriots because I think of them as a classy organization that has been built more on steady leadership than buying the best talent. And when a franchise has that going for them I don't mind watching them pile up the trophies as a true dynasty -- even though most fans now loathe the Patriots because of their success.

As it turned out, the Giants got the best of the Pats again, in another classic championship game that closely resembled the classic championship game they played a few years ago -- with Mario Manningham playing the role of David Tyree. (... And Letterman's rant after the Giants won that Super Bowl remains a classic.)

Something told me all week that the Giants had the edge again. And the moment Tom Brady was called for a safety  to end New England's first possession set the tone for the rest of the game. ... The Giants played with the Pats and then put the game away when they needed -- with an unusual touchdown run.

Here's some good reads I've collected leading up to the Super Bowl and afterward ...

Pregame ...
a Blocking for the Patriots Coach So He Can Do His Job
a Family Ties a Plus for Mannings
a Peyton Manning a Cheerleader for His Brother
a For Belichick, Fond Memories of New York (Giants, Not Jets)
a Early Patriots Were a Comical Traveling Sideshow
a Brady’s emergence and a super season started Patriots’ decade of dominance
a For Giants, Quarterback and Coach Together in Excellence
a Catching On After a Last Chance: Giants’ Cruz Defied Odds at UMass
a With Coach After Coach, the Same Vigilant Face

(Updated 02.07.2012) Post game ...
a Super Bowl XLVI Line by Line ... A light slideshow of drawings worth watching.
a Talent won out, as Patriots lost out in Super Bowl XLVI
a Sequel has same ending
a History repeats
a As losses go, we’ve seen worse
a In save situation, an opportunity lost
a Settling In at the Top of Their Game
a Bradshaw's Reluctant Touchdown puts to rest an unusual Super Bowl
a Situation hard to grasp for Welker
a Manning, Coughlin are content
a In the end, Giant difference in talent


Life's twists and turns

A few days ago, I posted a rambling about life’s twists and turns. Little did I know then how timely that post would be. This week has served up multiple reminders of how quickly life can change.

I learned Monday morning that my Grandma H. suffered a stroke. She’s since moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation facility. Fortunately, she’s surrounded by family and friends and she’ll get the care she needs. Again, I'm finding myself wishing we weren't so far away.

In The ‘Ville, a beloved high school teacher and coach died of a heart attack at just 53 years old. It's rocked the town, and the school district closed all of its schools today so employees and students could attend the funeral.

And just a couple days earlier, a church friend and professor at the university, Jeff, had a heart attack. Luckily, he survived. ... For us, the scare especially hit home because we’ve enjoyed getting to know him and his wife, who lead the children's programming at our church, which Phoebe attends on Wednesday nights -- and adores. There were a couple times earlier this week when Phoebe thought of things she wanted to tell or show Jeff. Phoebe, of course, didn’t have a clue to what had happened; Kates and I could only tell her he had become sick and wouldn’t be around church for awhile.

Life is a precious thing, never to be taken for granted.