Five Years Later, What Am I Even Doing Anymore? Well, Besides Cookies

Yes, contrary to what you’re probably thinking, I am aware of the elephant in the room. In fact, I’d say this tweet of mine from yesterday fairly well points out that elephant, paints it pink, calls it smelly, and nicknames it “Priscilla”:

Of course, complaining about it doesn’t change a damn thing. Case in point, later that same day, I was busy posting to Instagram about getting’ mah double chocolate on. But nary a blog post in sight. An Instagram, sure, but certainly not a blog post.

The point is, let’s be honest, I have posted more about baked goods in the past month probably than ever before in the history of the interwebs. Like, going all the way back to the dark times of 1993 when you had to be a pocket-protector-sporting Nerd-with-a-much-deserved-capital-N to have access to websites. And most of the websites were either glittery text or pictures of naked people from the Netherlands.

I mean, the website of naked people were from the Netherlands. I was never sure of the country of origin of the naked people themselves. It wasn’t, um, apparent.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t all naked people on Dutch websites and maybe I’m not posting baking posts quite that much, but it’s definitely been Bake-r-rama around here since November.  And considering that my PPW (Posts Per Week) stat is down to some miniscule value that I’d need a supercomputer, a team of mathematicians, and some irrational numbers with funky symbols to accurately define, I’m pretty sure that means my Cookies Per Post stat is through the roof.

I mean, really’? Cookies? Baked goods? Is that all I’ve got?

Admittedly, there’s surely nothing wrong with baked goods, per se. Hell, everybody who’s not a worshipper of the Fell Demonic Goat People enjoys a tasty baked thing from time to time. But I started this blog with the intent of writing about stuff that was on my mind, to practice for writing books that might someday end up on a shelf. Whatever happened to be on my mind at that moment of writing ended up in the posts, then, regardless of whether it was a genuinely thought about being a parent, or 473 rambling words about why Q-Tips are better than the store brands of…well, whatever you call Q-Tips and aren’t Q-Tips.

Wait, are they swabs, maybe? I dunno. If you ask me, “swabs” is a hundred times worse than moist. It’s way up there with “boner” in the pantheon of awful words. Which is why, no matter what brand goes in my ear, it’s a “Q-Tip” and not a swab.

Ahem. Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I haven’t been posting posts in my post-posting space lately because of a weird subject/entertainment paralysis. See, I’ve attracted a few followers over the last five years, and there are enough people subscribed to Puddintopia on this day in 2015 that I honestly find myself fretting that I should try and write something worthy of your attention. And because I’m never sure what topic I think might be enertaining, I end up not writing anything at all.  Instead, I just stick to editing Project Hermey, or whatever book I’m working on instead.

But that’s as back-assward, if you’ll pardon the expression, as having a one-eyed parrot wearing a pirate.

So we’re getting back to basics around here. No more “topics” unless something happens naturally. Posts for the rest of 2015 are going to be streams of consciousness, pulling in whatever flotsam happened to be bouncing around in my noggin at that moment, no matter how ridiculous, poorly informed,  or random.  If I end up ranting about revising a book for 2 consecutive weeks because that’s all I’ve got on my mind, well, then, that’s what I’m going do.

My hope is that you’ll hop aboard a kayak with me, ready to brave the rapids of my daily thoughts.  If you choose not to, I’ll understand completely. Some people really prefer blogs that actually have a point, and the last thing I want to do is suggest I’ll always have one.  Likewise, I can’t promise whatever’s on my mind will be immediately illuminating.

But I do hope it mostly be entertaining.

Grab your Q-Tips, then, boys and girls, because I’m getting the band back together. It’s time to revisit the old playground and see what pops up along another 120,000 word-long adventure to nowhere.

What got me thinking about all this—besides being sick of looking at the same picture of the cookies from my most recent post, two embarrassing weeks ago—is that on this day, five years in the past, way back in 2010, I decided to take the first step of an adventure. It was the start of my long delayed life’s journey to find out if I could be a real writer or not.

Since then, I’ve written a ridiculous volume of words (well over a million), including not quite a thousand blogs posts (this one makes 998, to be precise) and six (!) novels. I’ve survived the query trenches and signed with a real, honest-to-the-ancients literary agent who believes in my voice and work and fights every day to get my words bound, printed, and put on shelves.  I’ve connected with more great writers than I’d have ever thought possible, a tribe with whom I feel a belonging I’ve seldom felt before.

And above and beyond all of that, I’ve worked day after day after day at the craft of making words, so that I’m confident enough to say that today, this day, I can make the best words I’ve ever made in my life.

But that’s not enough, just know that. I will keep working, too, because tomorrow’s words can always be an improvement upon today’s, and I will—not, I must—strive to make sure that they are.

After five pretty awesome years, I see that the post about the cookies put me at  crossroads I didn’t, until just this moment, understand I had reached. But now, seeing it, I see to only way across is to keep moving forward. No turning. No change of course. No veering to see if that turn might be the wrong left to make at Albuquerque. I want five more years and thousands of more readers.

From now on, then, while I might still make plenty of cookies—and I’ll certainly Instagram every last one that comes out of my oven—the only thing piping hot and aromatic around here will be blogs posts, not baked goods.

And you can take from that whatever understand you’d like.

Thank you for five years of rambling and nonsense, puddintopians.  I hope I’ve managed to give you a chuckle from time to time, and I hope even more that you’re looking forward, like me, to five more years of wondering what’s going to come out of my head.

Now get out there and have a great weekend…and try not to set the place on fire.



When Life Gives You Balance, Make Cookies

This week hasn’t been all sunshine and peacock glitter, I have to admit. I got some news earlier that gave me the unhappy feeling of being simultaneously shocked, mad, and hugely disappointed. It like was that thing where your stomach gets all cold and drops to your brand new argyle socks, yet you’re so mad you want to want to throw something, too. You know, like a Winnebago.

But then we got some goods news that outweighed the not-good news and my feeling of #HollowRage faded.

So…balance. That’s what I got this week, balance. And as we all know, balance means cookies!

I mean, not they’re exclusive to balance or anything. I’m pretty sure the Great Elders of the Old People in Yesterdaytimes dictated that Things such as it being Thursday, getting a Microsoft security update, the sun rising in the east, sending out a tweet, and hey-look-I’m-growing-hair-in-funny-places are all occurrences that herald the making of cookies.

Who am I to dispute the wisdom of the Elders?

So then, here’s to having your own Elders to tell you when it’s cookie time.

And just in case you don’t, I’m ready to offer suggestions.


An Open Post To The CW Executives

Dear CW Executives,

You got me. I am fully prepared to admit it and I’m don’t even feel bad.  I resisted, at first, because I’m a grown-up and have grown-up responsibilities. I have a job to work at and books and posts to write and kids to raise.  The stupid dishwasher still doesn’t empty itself after dinner every night no matter how many eyelash wishes I make, somebody (me) has to wander around my house and turn off all the unused lights because the kids (apparently) aren’t ever actually going to start doing it even if I nagged them a million times, and, well, and if I don’t make time to read every night before bed then I won’t read and that’s a life situation I’m not willing to consider.

So I really really didn’t feel like I had the time to invest in one more television show on a regular basis, superhero or otherwise.

But (you knew there was one of those coming, right?), then the Starlings aligned. At the end of last month, I took a couple of weeks off of work for the holidays and coincidentally had a novel manuscript that needed to cool a bit before I really started tearing into the revision cycle.  Which is to say, I had a few consecutives nights to myself between December 20th and January 3rd, with nothing obligating me to get up at 6:30 AM or any other dark, diety-forsaken times in the morning.

In other words, there was no requirement that I get to bed at a reasonable hour.

And if there’s one thing a nerd without any unwelcome time constraints knows how to do, its how to fit in a good dose of Netlix binge-watching.

Which is exactly what I did most every night from midnight to, oh, 3 AM, as 2014 wound to a close. And that is where you come in, CW Executives. Because you’ll be glad to hear that I devoted myself to devouring episodes of Arrow, one after another, until the wee hours night after night, when I’d find myself, holding the remote with a shaky hand, as I tried to manage the internal debate over whether or not I could squeeze in Just. One. More. Episode. before stumbling off to bed.

(Conclusion: Yes, yes I could).

I spent my holiday staycation gleefully speeding along, devouring episodes and whizzing past the daisies growing along the roadside of my feverish Arrow rampage.

Until it all came to a screeching end. No sooner than I’d watched the last episode of Season 2, I turned to the internet with an unquenchable need to catch up with the first half of Season 3 (the current one), before the show resumes with brand new episodes in two weeks.

And there, my joy turned to dust.

Because no matter where I look or how hard I search, no one, no service, anywhere—not Netflix, not Hulu, not my satellite provider, not your own online CW app, or even Schecky, the unsavory-looking half-elf who lives behind my chimney and records the neighborhood goings-on—offers a way to watch the first episodes of Season 3.  Sure, sure, I can watch the most recent 5 episodes, but that leaves 5 full episodes between where I am in continuity and where I can pick up.  I daresay something in those 5 missing episodes is probably pretty important to the overall story.

Besides, you don’t just skip ahead from Chapter 20 to Chapter 25 when you’re reading a book, do you? Of course not.  Because that’d be dumb.

So why are you making it impossible for me to catch up?

Look, I don’t think you get that you’re shooting yourselves in the foot.  My intention is to watch Arrow (and The Flash, too, now that I’m aware I need to follow his adventures as well), on time, in real time, during their regular, weekly, televised primetime slots. I want to boost the shows’ ratings and (gasp!) maybe even watch your revenue-producing advertisements.

But, see, I can’t, CW Executives, because you’ve restricted what I can watch of the most recent Arrow and The Flash episodes for the current season.  Whatever your theoretical reasoning, it’s just plain wrong, and silly torture to boot. This is worse than giving a kitten a saucer of milk and a plateful of sardines and then swiping it back, half-eaten. 

This is cruel and unusual.

Positively sadistic.

So, please, CW Executives, tell me how to catch up Season 3. That is, assuming you want me to watch your network this year and all.

Which, you know, kinda seems like the whole point to me.


Now Is The Winter Of Our Attempted Content

I feel like I’ve given myself a bit of reputation. No, not for being “the guy you want to get under the bleachers at football games.”  That was only eth one time, I swear! I was, um, a sophomore and didn’t know any better.

Who am I kidding? The only time I was ever under the bleachers, I was eight years old and hunting for quarters. I had a master plan that would culminate in buying a thousand year-old bag of Potato Crispys™ from the vending machine in the teacher’s lounge while my dad coached high school volleyball.

Or maybe it was the Dunkin’ Sticks?

At any rate, the reputation I was referring to was actually for being a curmudgeonly old curmudgeon about the long, grey, frozen days of winter.  Which, for those of us in the middle-to-upper parts of North America, have just officially gotten underway. Obviously, here, I’m not talking about the okay part of winter, those two weeks from the 20’s of December to the first few days of January, when everyone is cozy and stuffed with warmth, joy, and cheer—by which I mean copious volumes of holiday alcohol.

But alas, in the past few years, as the shine has worn off the new year and the Season as faded to memory, I’ve gotten as cranky as a retired accountant with a perfectly groomed, lush, green lawn…and a brand new teenage neighbor draw to it like an owl to a Tootsie Roll pop.

I’m talking cranky to the point where last year I even kind of made myself sick with the tremendous amount of whining I did in mid-January about the cold and ice and snow. I don’t think even my kids complained quite as much the last time I made them wash my car.

Which bring us to today, early January, 2015. It’s the time of year where everyone’s taking their new plans for personal achievement for a spin and testing to see if there’s a realistic shot in the Sixteen Icy Hells of Puratis of them being managed. And yes, that includes me.  In general, I try not to be Senor Resolution Guy.  In fact, I used to rail against New Year’s Resolutions altogether. But then, I was basically for most of my mid-twenties, I was King Contrarian for several Very Lame Reasons (including, but not limited to, dumb youth). In other words, I’d happily rail against just about anything traditional or culturally accepted by large numbers of people. See also: why I wore black shoes with white socks and refused to play golf, read the Harry Potter novels, or enjoy coffee until my thirties.

Thankfully, though, all that turned out to be nothing more than a two-decade fad and I’m all better now.

Which means I’m allowed to make New Year’s Resolutions without even being ashamed of myself.

This year, though, I’m not getting all crazy. I’m not adopting some wacky pinto bean diet or swearing on my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that I’ll workout (with a towel present at all times, naturally) every day for the next sixteen weeks. I mean, sure, I’d like to better myself and all, but that sort of over-reactive silliness just ends with hard feelings and gym memberships you can’t get out of without a four-year waiti gng period and a signed, notarized letter from the Senator in the state where your fitness place is incorporated—which is, conveniently, almost never your actual state of residence.

What I would like to concentrate on this year isn’t exactly Earth-shattering. I intend to write a little more (that goes double for here), complain a little less, spend more time with my kids when I can (especially while I still can, before they have no more need of me), read more books, and whenever possible, simplify our life. I want to focus on the experience of being in my early 40’s and less on the collecting of stuff that’s just going fill up space in my basement.

And, hell, let’s shoot for the moon: I’ll cut back on the beer a bit, while I’m at it.

In keeping with my list of basic goals for the year—which I just realized sounds disturbingly either like a self-help mantra or a country song—for the next few months, you’re not gonna hear any belly-aching out of me, no matter how much Winter! January and February dish out.  Instead I’m going to build a bunch of fires, wear my fuzzy flannel Superman pants, and drink as many gallons of coffee and cocoa as it takes to keep my cheeks rosy and my demeanor sunny.

Because, sure, it’s going to be –15 degrees or something ridiculous tomorrow, but that’s no reason to have a bad attitude.

At least, not until we run out of marshmallows.

That’ll be when things start getting’ real.


A Festivus Grievance: What’s So Wrong With ‘Moist’?

As everyone who lived in the 90’s and has any taste whatsoever knows, Festivus is a holiday celebration observed every year on December 23rd. It starts with an unadorned pole – because, let’s face it, nobody’s got the time or patience for fancy tree decoratin’ – and then you get together to enjoy many time-honored Festivus rituals, including the Airing of Grievances, the Festivus Meal (of Convenience), and the Feats of the Strength.

(For more information about Festivus, I recommend Wikipedia, Google, or basically anywhere on the internet.)

Sadly, it’d be a little difficult to share a Festivus dinner with all of you, what with this being a blog and all. I can’t really fit you in my house as a group and I, believe it or not, I don’t have even enough chips and dip to go around. 

Although we DO have a lot of cookies.


This being the internet, though, it The. Perfect. Place for The Airing of Grievances.  Sadly, though, much as I would enjoy it, I don’t have the time to sit here and type out a post detailing of all my grievances. It would end up 5000 words long and would read like the spit-flinging ramblings of a man with a beard housing a large family of rodents.

I like to pretend I’m not that guy.  Yet.

But I DO have one grievance  I can’t lit slip by.  I’ve got a problem with you people and you’re all going to hear about it.

What the hell is SOOOOOOO wrong with the word “moist”?

Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, sooner or later I hear them complain that “moist”is just The. Worst. Word.  Nobody likes it.  Nobody. Apparently it’s just evil and wrong, to be counted up there with Hitler and Pharaoh and New Coke.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight.  There’s nothing wrong with the word “moist”, and I don’t want to hear anyone, ANYWHERE complaining about it again. Because, moisture, see, is a good thing.  A damned good thing. One of the best things, actually.  For instance, all that cake you people seem to love so much? Moist cake beats the holy living tar out of those bone-dry cupcake pucks little Ellen’s mom gave out at her birthday every day of the week and twice on birthdays. Cake that isn’t moist is like summer without ice cream…a sad, boring, depressing waste of time.

And that’s certainly not the only thing good about “moist”.  A million things are better moist that not. Brownies, because dry ones make the angels weep, usually on broken teeth. Steaks, because I know you can remember that shoe leather your grandfather used to char grill and then force you to eat. Would you believe it started life as a lovely piece of sirloin? Moist spring grass is delightful, and I bet you can even smell right now. Hell, even your physical form is better moist. Dehydration kills, you know. And hangovers suck mostly because you’re not moist.

Moist, my friends, is a good, good thing.

Okay, fine, so maybe, just maybe, there’s one or two connotation of “moist” that isn’t everyone’s favorite.  But, come on, in the long run doesn’t the good that comes from moist  far, FAR outweigh the bad? I mean, admit it, even the moist you don’t like is kind of important and helpful from time to time, if you know what I mean.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

So, hey, let’s all give “moist” a break, okay?

Still not convinced?  Fine. Let’s instead talk about words that are really awful. Like, “boner”, for instance.  Boner is a terrible, horrible, awful word. You can’t even use in everyday conversation without being labeled some kind of deviant. Even worse, “boner” is often best remembered as the derogatory nickname of that one poor kid in your high school. Damn word probably ruined his life. And yet, as awful as “boner” is,  you people cling to the idea that “moist” is the worst thing you’ve every heard.

Well, it’s not. And I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and say with a straight face that ”boner” is better than “moist”.

I bet you couldn’t even read that with a straight face.

So, in the coming year I expect to hear a lot more support for the word “moist” than you people have been giving it. It’s a good word. A helpful word. And, believe me, I can come up with even worse words than “boner”. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to hear them.

And that, puddintopians, is (more than) enough grievance out of me.

Have a great Festivus! May your holidays be happy and silly and full of delightful, moist things! Enjoy yourself and your loved ones, no matter who or where you are.

Have a cookie or two for me, and, uh, try not to set the place on fire.


The 2014 Puddintopia Writer’s Gift Buying Guide

It’s a tricky situation: the clock is ticking down to Christmas (or the sixth night of Hanukkah, or Fesitvus, or whatever your holiday-based gift-giving deadline happens to be) and no matter how much brainstorming you do, you’re just not sure what to get for that writer in your life. You could spring for some new books, because I’ve yet to meet a writer who wasn’t a reader first. Let’s face it, though, your house is already overrun with books that haven’t yet been read,and you’re tired of having to move that stack with the copies of Little Women, Ender’s Game, and Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows just to get to a new roll of toilet paper.

New clothes always make a nice gift, right? Except your writer already has a frayed bathrobe, doesn’t routinely wear anything more than the offending robe (and, believe me, after years of daily wear, it’s pretty doggone offending) and maybe a dirty, 10 year-old, paper-thin concert tee-shirt.
You’ve tried to get them fancy coffee before, too, but the last you went that route, he or she snarled like a feral cat and said something about soul-cursed heathens.

It doesn’t help that whenever you ask for gift ideas, your writer mumbles something about space lobsters, time wolves, “asynchronous chronostats”, or some other string of words that mostly don’t seem to be based on any common language you speak. That assumes, of course, you can even get a response at all, as opposed to an empty stare, a panicked look from haunted eyes, or, worse, getting ignored completely.

Well, I’m here to help! With the 2014 Puddintopia Gift Buying Guide For Writers, we offer five foolproof ideas guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any writer.

  1. Wardrobe Accessories – Every writer needs something to wear that most people wouldn’t think had any practical use. Does your writer complain that the sound of sunshine creeping across the bedroom floor is too distracting, let alone the houseful of other noise-producing humans? Sounds like they need some noise-cancelling earphones.  Or, instead, are they type of person who’s always cold, and forever trying to warm perpetually frozen digits or ice-cube like toes? Fingerless gloves go a long way toward keeping hands toasty warm without hampering fingers that need to fly over a keyboard. And insulated fuzzy slippers (preferably bunnies, if you can find them, of course) will make them forget all about their near-hypothermic tootsies. So rather than ask for a gift idea, ask your writer what little, physical inconveniences can make writing a challenge for them.
  2. Consumable Vices – Everyone tortured creative type I’ve ever met has a special little crutch they depend on to help them get through a project. I use a handful of M&M’s as daily motivational tool.  Some writers I’ve met swear by a glass of wine to lubricate the ol’ word-maker. Hunter S. Thompson used, well, lets not talk about what Hunter S. Thompson used. It’d probably be easier to list what he didn’t use. At any rate, find out what helps to fuel the fires of creativity in your writer and set a little of that under the tree for them.
  3. Scrivener, or other writing-support software – Personally, I swear by Scrivener, and can’t fathom drafting a novel with out it these day. Writers, though, can be special like snowflakes (and just as fragile) when it comes to blasting new material from the word cannon, so get a license of whatever they úse to help them along the way.
  4. Tablet or other mobile drafting/editing device – We live in the wondrous future, where personal computers come in the form of flat panels just like the ones (well, smaller) that Captain Kirk once used to sign orders while in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  And although the early few generations of tablets were mostly good for reading books or watching cat videos on YouTube, the newest ones are capable of the full monte of drafting and editing tools your writer uses to turn a fuzzy, bourbon soaked idea into a manuscript. These things are infinitely more convenient to whip out and use productively during, say, a son or daughter’s two-hour basketball practice than that cumbersome, battery-eating old laptop of 2010. And with price tags ranging from Wow! to Well… to  Whoa., there’s a budget, feature set, and tech configuration out there for anyone with a mind on getting today’s word count down during those unfortunate times when the writer in your life has to actually put on pants and leave the house.
  5. Understanding – Yes, living with your writer can be patience-trying at best and downright maddening at it’s most difficult. They’re often moody and distant, can be more absorbed in the make-believe world in their head than talking about the one you both live, and usually remember more details about their book characters than their own cousins. Writing can be a painful, frustrating endeavor for everyone involved, and there’s certainly no guarantee of ever having more to show for it than whatever words finally end up on paper. So this holiday season, why not give your writer a sympathetic look, a warm hug, or a whisper of support the next time he or she is banging their head against the breakfast table between their bowl of Lucky Charms and their plate of buttered toast?
  6. Lemons – What do you mean, why lemons? Lemons are adorable, round, and full of goodness. They’re fantastic stress relief squeeze balls, they can be made into a delicious beverage or delightful desserts, can keep your apples and avocado from turning that disgusting brown, and with all that vitamin C? Heeeelllllooo…no scurvy here, thank you. Oranges are okay, too, I guess. But lemons, man,  you can’t go wrong with lemons.

And that’s it. If you can’t find something for the dedicated, partially tortured writer in your life from the list above, well, I did say “lemons” didn’t I?

Good luck, gift givers. And may whatever Krampus-filled holiday you observe be filled with smiles and joy and a mere minimum of grouchy word-slinging.

Happy Holidays!


A Post Of Many Posts

Being Friday evening already, I have little doubt that most of you are busy readying yourselves for the inevitable carnival of debauchery that comes with the arrival of the weekend. Well, unless you’re like me, in which case you’re planning to sit in the comfy chair later tonight, play a few cutthroat rounds of Words with Friends, and then poor yourself a pint of IPA and pretend you’ll finish it somehow before nodding off in front of an episode of Arrow.

Either way, I’ll keep this short. I know, I know, I’m all empty promises, right?

I wanted to draw your attention to three blog posts, not including this one. Because, believe it or not, I actually wrote a couple this week.

First, since Wednesday was National Lager Day, I took advantage of the chance to ramble a little bit in a post for the Hoperatives. Because while ales of a hundred varieties seem to hog all the spotlight these days, lagers are a dependable, quiet hero for many of us thirsty craft beer drinkers. Maybe they deserve a second chance at that spotlight?

Beer wasn’t the only thing on my mind this week. As pretty much everyone knows, it’s holiday time, which means that the already glacial pace of publishing slows to a geological crawl. So what’s a middle grade writer with little to no patience supposed to do in the lull? Today on Middle Grade Minded, I make a few key suggestions.

Also, there’s a pretty good chance I make reference to pie.

Finally, our second oldest son turned an unfathomable 11 years old today. At first, I wanted to write a post railing against the assertion that I could possibly be old enough to be the father of 12 and 11 year old sons.  However, it turns out that I wrote a post about Middle Son’s actual birth 11 long years ago. It’s a fairly  entertaining story, all things considered.  You should check it out.

On that note, I’ll let you get back to your previously scheduled debauchery. Just remember to turn the lights out when you go out. We don’t own stock in the electricity company.

Beyond that, make sure you have a great weekend. And try not to set the place on fire.


Yesterday’s Special Delivery

It’s a week after Thanksgiving, which means that here at la Casa de Puddin, we’re getting more daily visits from the UPS and FedEX trucks than the school nurse sees runny noses in February. Today, though, it wasn’t the latest pre-Christmas order from Amazon. It was a box full of this:


Now, admittedly, that maybe isn’t the most Exciting! Thing! Ever!  I mean, who gets his Underoos all bunched up about pre-cold therapy? Especially considering that I know bloggers that get deliveries including trial electronics, free beer, invitations to restaurant openings, and stacks and Stacks and STACKS of newly released books.  Hell, someone out there’s probably even getting the occasional fully poseable action figure.

Okay, so maybe I should have gone into travel blogging. A voucher to write about someplace sunny would come in damned handy in mid-January.  But I digress.

Point is, I’m still all ridiculously geeked out over my big box o’ cold remedy.

I know I’m a big dork, but, the truth of the matter is that I’m mostly excited because they just up and sent this stuff to me, free of charge or obligation. Nobody prodded me for a little quid-pro-quo, and I certainly didn’t ask for it. In fact, haven’t even mentioned it in about a year.  Nope, the very nice person from Zicam who sent us a box full of stuff last year (after I wrote this post) sent me an email a few weeks ago asking how the family was doing and could we use some more, what with winter coming and the Cold Monster bearing down on us like a shotgun-flailing Elmer Fudd hopped up on espresso?

And well, four kids and cold season, so yes, we can always use more. Especially considering how well the stuff seems to work. In fact, if I start taking it soon enough, the dread Cold Monster never manages to evolve from the fledgling Cold Larva stage, and a day or so later my boosted immune system has squashed that little bug good. All without hacking, snorting, or embarrassing my colleagues in meetings.

Yesterday, then, a box with all this stuff showed up on our doorstep. And then I went all SQUEEEE!

So why did I lay it all out on the counter, take a picture of it and go rambling on about it now?  The way I see it, one good turn deserves another. And this, kids, was exactly a pretty good turn. I would be remiss, then, if I didn’t at least come out and say, publicly, hey, thanks, Zicam! You people are pretty awesome.

Even more importantly, that, kids, is a pretty fine demonstration of how a brand does social media right.

Now, then, who’s feeling a little under the weather? I got you covered.


Things I’m Thankful for, Days 24 and 25: Bedtime and Naptime

I know it might seem at first blush that I’m attempting to pull a fast one here by being thankful for what is essential the same basic thing from a parenting perspective. I mean, what else do bedtime and naptime represent for us but a brief respite from the constant need to wipes faces, tie shoes, produce meals that contain more than the nutritional content of a cardboard box, a Twinkie, and a bottle of Yoohoo, break up fights, listen with feigned rapt attention to the intricate details of Doctor Domino’s plan to take over Rainbow Dash and Optimus Prime’s Thanksgiving dinner, and basically make sure the lives of our progeny are meeting the criteria for A Successful Childhood as determined by parenting magazines and discerning, judgmental neighborhood gossips everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong; that is exactly what I’m thankful for with respect to Day 24. By the time the hall clock chirps bedtime every night, I’m sprinting up the stairs to manage tooth brushing for bedtime like a dog who heard the can opener whirring and knows there’s a heap of something gross but yummy waiting for him in his food dish.  Reading bedtime stories every night is one of my favorite things, because, even if you completely disregard how it builds an lifelong interest in reading, it means I get to go sit quietly in a dark room and think thoughts of my own for a few hours. Even on the days where the thoughts are as sparse as a tumbleweed rolling across some dusty western street, dammit, it’s my tumbleweed, at least.

By naptime, though, I’m not talking about their naptime.  Oh, no, perish the thought. I mean, for one thing, my kids are all too old for naps nowadays anyway.  If one of them falls asleep, the Puddinette and I immediately make for the pots and pans and start banging out enough noise to be registered by sonar operators on nuclear submarines, hundreds of miles offshore and fathoms and fathoms deep into the Atlantic. Because  afternoon sleeping means they won’t ready for nighttime sleeping when bedtime rolls around later.  And considering how much importance I just laid over the concept of bedtime, I think we can all agree that an insomniac child is a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. I’m not saying that I’m certain I’d rather be sealed in an airtight box with 5000 spiders than deal with the kids not interested in sleep at bedtime…but I’m not not saying it either.

The naptime in question for Day 25, though? That’s my naptime, Virginia. Because after a long week of laboring under the boot heel of The Man, on a cold Sunday afternoon when the fire is burning, the weekly chores have been completed, and the Honey-Do list can be conveniently ignored for one more week without incurring the wrath of the Puddinette, well, there are few things better than nodding off with the sound of football in the background while snuggled down on a big comfy recliner that’s got all the right creases in all the places. And I don’t care if it’s only thirty minutes or a decadent three hours, that kind of peace and comfort can recharge a pair of 41-year faltering batteries better than any newfangled spa treatment including soy or sand or stones or someone I don’t know touching my feet.

In closing: sleep is good.  So good. Even if all of my favorite sleep doesn’t refer to the nightly (theoretical) eight.