Life in the Fishbowl

Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Life in the Fishbowl - Living by the Todd Family Motto: "It behooves us to live." I want to change the world.

Egyptian Christians, St. Bartholomew, and counting the cost

In light of recent news of the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt because of their faith, I was reminded of something that I had written 10 years ago for a church history class while in seminary. It was a meditation based on the painting of St. Bartholomew. Christian tradition says that Bartholomew the Apostle was martyred for his faith. It was a brutal execution.

St. Bartholomew

You can read the whole devotional thought here, if you’re really interested. It’s OK if you aren’t. That’s not really the reason I’m writing today.

I really want to share one of the meditation’s final paragraphs. Because the point is just as important today as it was when I wrote it ten years ago.

The image of St. Bartholomew calls upon us to pray for the persecuted church around the world.  It tells us the story of the millions of Christians who have given their lives for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.  It is a startling reminder that the price of following Jesus Christ is not cheap.  It is not a road that will be traveled lightly.  There will be trials and persecution of all kinds.  In the end, it could cost the believer everything – including the loss of life.  It is the example of St. Bartholomew that encourages the believer to press on towards the prize, knowing full well the costs involved.  It is with that same confidence that we face the perils of following the Lord of all things.

I think these martyred Egyptian Christians do the exact same thing. While the nations rage and come up with a fitting response to these barbaric acts, let us count the cost and take up the cross with reckless abandon. Let us live in boldness, full of hope, joy, and love, as we press on towards Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

I know it’s not easy. I’m not pretending it is. But this is how we are going to change the world, my friends.

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It’s cold. And I need a beach.

Myrtle Beach Sunrise
A few years ago, I published a well-reasoned argument outlining why I wasn’t a fan of going to the beach. I still agree with the majority of those points, but after visiting Myrtle Beach in October, I came to love everything about the beach. It wasn’t super-hot. It wasn’t over crowded because it wasn’t really their prime tourist season. Shoot, even the sand didn’t bother me. Too much.

Even though we were on a tight budget, our family had a great time. Yes, we had to say “no” to doing a few of the touristy things, but that was OK. That gave us more time to spend in the sun, sand, and water. We searched for seashells, cruised the Boardwalk, and built several sandcastles.

Myrtle Beach October, 2014

And at night we strolled along the coast. While I wasn’t able to accomplish Item #17 on my list of things I want to do, the week was a huge success and we made some pretty awesome memories together. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to have a candlelight dinner by the ocean with Christy. I will just have to make sure that happens. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Congratulations, Myrtle Beach. You’ve won me over.

Myrtle Beach, October 2014

And now that we’ve been facing highs in the teens (at best) and bone chilling winds that have been strong enough to knock down tree limbs, I’m finding myself longing for a return to the warm, sandy coast with the calming sounds of the waves kissing the shore.

Yep. It’s cold. And I need a beach.

Myrtle Beach October, 2014

Until then, I’ll just have to settle for these beautiful memories…

Continue reading

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Let’s talk about flowers and Valentine’s Day

Let's talk about flowers and Valentine's Day

Purchasing flowers for Valentine’s Day has always a struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong. I think flowers are a nice gift. They can brighten up a room and can make a loved one’s day better. I get that. I agree with that. Flowers are a good thing. Especially on Valentine’s Day.

I’ve always had trouble buying flowers for Valentine’s Day. You can’t get them too early or they will wilt by the time Valentine’s Day gets there. So I’ve had a tendency to wait and try to get some flowers from a nearby Big Box Store. They’re relatively cheap. And they’ll last a couple of days. But if you wait until the night before Valentine’s Day, personal experience has told me that you’re going to find some slim pickings, at best.

Unless we’re able to visit the Big Box Store during the magic time where flowers that will last through Valentine’s Day are still in stock, I’m thinking it might be time for us to come up with a better strategy. Why not consider working a little ahead of time and doing something like this?

Make your own flowers

You remember making <http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Tissue-Paper-Flowers” targt=”_blank”>flowers out of tissue paper when you were in school. Right? Why not make a colorful bouquet of tissue flowers and surprise her on Valentine’s Day? You never know. She might think it’s cute and be impressed with your creativity.

I think you would only be able to pull this off once, though. Unless you decided to follow up with some balloon flowers.

Go local

You probably can’t get much more fresh than from your local florist. Plus, you’ll be helping out a neighbor. And you’ll save on delivery fees if you go in and pick them up. I’d call ahead of time, though. Don’t just assume they’ll have a huge selection for you when you show up at closing  time on Valentine’s Day. That’s no better than waiting until the last minute at the Big Box Stores.

Set it and forget it

You could order online from a retailer like KaBloom. Then you can just place the order and not worry about it anymore. This gives you more time and energy to focus on making the rest of Valentine’s Day so amazing and memorable. As an added bonus, you’ll be helping our adoption efforts because these links to KaBloom and Amazon are affiliate-type links. That means that when you buy something via the links on this post, I get a very small percentage of the purchase. And that money is going towards our adoption expenses.

So you’ll be happy. I’ll be happy. Our son will be happy. Everyone will be happy. It’s a great way to spread the love!

Do you have more ideas? Please share them!

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4 signs I’m turning into a grumpy old man

Grumpy Old Man
One of my students has consistently called me Grandpa since the day I showed up in his class in October. Granted, he does occasionally call me “Daddy,” too. And there was one day a few weeks ago where he walked down the hall with me and introduced me as “Mr. Matt” to everyone he met – real or imaginary. So there are days where he’s all over the place with what he calls me. But his go-to name for me is Grandpa. Maybe I look like his super-young, super-hip (is that what the young whipper snappers call it nowadays?) grandpa. Or maybe it’s just the head of gray I mean…white hair. White hair. Yeah…that’s the ticket…Because it’s totally turning white and not gray at all. So maybe it’s the color of my hair that makes him assume I’m a grandpa. Or maybe there’s no real explanation of what’s going on in this kid’s head. He just wants to call me Grandpa.

I guess I’m technically old enough to be his grandpa. I guess that means I’m getting older.

I had another realization about my age recently. I was talking with a co-worker one night and realized that I have scars on my body that are older than he is. The scar from me jumping through an aquarium? Older than him. The scar from the time where I was teaching ax safety and wound up cutting my leg with an ax? Yup. Older than him. Wait….how is it possible that I’ve been blogging on this site for 10+ years and I’ve never talked about these scars? This is a travesty that must be corrected. I sense a series a-brewing.

But I digress…

Those scars? Totally older than him.

Dang. I really am getting older. I like to say that I agree with Bon Jovi. I’m not really getting old. Just older.

But maybe that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Maybe I’m not just getting older. Maybe I’m getting old. Here are four reasons that there’s a very good possibility that I’m starting to become a grumpy old man.

1. Catching some zzzzz…

Before I elaborate, I feel like I should make a disclaimer about my grandparents so you don’t misunderstand me. Grandmama and Grandpa were not grumpy people. They laughed. A lot. I remember them as generally, genuinely happy people.

Grandparents’ wedding picture. I think.

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on


I remember their smiles. And I definitely remember their laughs. Especially Grandpa’s. It’s been 25-ish years since I’ve heard that laugh, but I can still hear it echoing through my memories when I think about him. Boy do I miss that laugh. I wish my kids could’ve heard that laugh. I know they would’ve loved it. And he would’ve gotten a big kick out of them.

So you get the point. Grandmama and Grandpa were happy people. Joyous people. They were not grumps.

But, boy could they sleep.

Whenever we’d go stay at my grandparents’ house, the night would almost always end with Grandpa asleep on the red carpet that covered their Living Room. It didn’t really  matter what was on TV. He generally fell asleep while we were watching it.

And Grandmama? As she got older, she fell asleep almost anywhere at almost any time. I remember having conversations with her as she would sit down in the recliner. I’m not kidding: 30 seconds after sitting in her chair, she’d be asleep. Her best friend told us that she also had a knack for falling asleep in the movie theatee. I remember some other places where she fell asleep, but she’d probably be mortified if she was still alive and found out that I’d shared them in public.

The grand-apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, apparently. I fall asleep all the time while sitting on the couch. I’ve also dozed off a time or two during the occasional trip to the local dollar(+75 cents) theater. I am certainly following in Grandmama and Grandpa’s footsteps.

Does this make me grumpy? No. Not unless one of the kids rudely rouses me from my slumber upon the couch. Then I’m not very happy. But that only lasts for a little while. It isn’t a perpetual state of grumpiness.

Does it make me old? Probably. I think it’s safe to say that the all-nighters from college, the dates that Christy and I would have that would last until 5 in the morning, and the precious few hours of sleep that I got while our kids were babies have taken their toll. So now I’m playing catch-up. One cat nap at a time. Does this mean I’m ancient? Nah. But it’s pretty clear that I’m older.

Now please excuse me while I take a quick nap before I write the rest of this post.

2. Jaywalkers

Nothing makes me grumpier than a jaywalker crossing the street in front of my car while I’m driving down the road. This really didn’t bother me too much until sometime early last year when it was dark and a lady jumped out from between two stopped cars going the opposite direction. I was *this close* to hitting her. I’ve included a banana for scale:

That’s close.

Too close.

If she had jumped out any more, there’s no way I wouldn’t have hit her. All because she couldn’t walk a few hundred feet and cross at an intersection.

Now I just get grumpy when someone walks out in front of me and isn’t using a crosswalk or at an intersection. It makes me so grumpy that I’m tempted to speed up a little and blare my horn, just to scare them a bit. Of course I would never intentionally hit someone. But scaring someone enough to reconsider jaywalking might be fun. You know I’d never really speed up like that. But I may or may not have blared my horn at jaywalkers as they walked in front of me.

Because I’m grumpy like that.

Don't jay walk 1937

3. People who walk the wrong way

Speaking of pedestrians, people walking the wrong way down the street make me just as grumpy as jaywalkers do. Walking on the right side of the road, with the flow of  traffic instead of against it, you’re putting yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s unsafe for the pedestrians. It’s also unsafe for the people who are driving. Unless you want to increase the chances of being involved in a car vs. pedestrian accident, it just makes sense to walk on the left side of the road.

And because I really don’t want to be involved in any car vs. pedestrian incidents, I admit that I’ve at the occasional pedestrian (it’s usually a small group of teenagers) for walking down the right side, which is the wrong side, of the road. It isn’t safe and it just makes me grumpy.

Wrong Way

Very, very grumpy.

4. No turn signals

There are a lot of things I miss about living in the South. I’m sure it’s a blog post waiting to happen. There are a few things, however, that I don’t miss. One thing that drove me nuts about driving in Upper East Tennessee was the regular use of “courtesy signals” by the locals. Have you ever experienced this?

Let’s say a car is two spots in front of you and is turning left. That driver has the left turn signal on and is waiting for an opening in oncoming traffic to make the turn. As a “courtesy,” the car behind that car – the car between the two of you – turns on his/her left turn signal in order to let you know that the person in the front of the line is waiting to turn left. There were times where I encountered five or six cars flashing “courtesy signals” while waiting for the first person to turn. Once that person turned, all of subsequent drivers went straight.

I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. I never have. But it drives me nuts.

2005 BMW 645Ci Cabriolet - Flickr - The Car Spy (21)

That pales in comparison to how grumpy I get when someone doesn’t even bother to use a turn signal at all. I like to minimize uncertainty when I’m driving. I like to have an idea what my fellow drivers are trying to do. If you’re turning and I don’t know that ahead of time, that makes me grumpy.

Turn signals are our friends, people! Use them!

Mr. Grumpy Pants

Well fliberty-floo. Flobble-dee-flee!

I’m coming closer and closer to being a grumpy old man. I’m sure this’ll change in the future as my grumpy old manliness continues to grow, it seems that most of my grumpiness seems to be tied to driving. But it’s not because of anything I’m doing. It’s everyone else. Please show some courtesy and some common sense when you’re walking or driving down the road. If you don’t, you just might encounter a grumpy old man like me.

That’s the way it is.
And I like it.

Now get off my lawn.

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Breakfast in bed. So simple. So amazing.

Breakfast in Bed

They’ve always said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Although some are saying that this might not necessarily be the case anymore, breakfast is still awesome. And you know what makes breakfast even more awesome? That’s right. Breakfast in bed! It’s a great way to show the person you love how much you care. And if your schedules don’t allow for you to serve breakfast in bed in the morning, you could always make this breakfast in bed for a late-evening snack. Right?

The thought of preparing breakfast in bed can be a little intimidating. But it really doesn’t have be. What I’m about to share is pretty simple to make but it’s oh-so-tasty. I’d say that it’s so simple it’s manproof. But when I’d be worried that you’d misunderstand what I was saying. And then I’d have to point you to this post and wait until you read it so you’d understand that it was a tongue-in-cheek reference to a stereotype that I’d like to see go away.

Believe me. It’s easy.

The menu:

Cinnamon Roll Waffles and Syrup
Yogurt Parfait
Orange Juice (or you could upgrade to a mimosa)

What you’ll need:
Breakfast in bed ingredients

1 Can Cinnamon Rolls
1 Cup Vanilla Yogurt
3 Strawberries
Orange Juice

Waffle Maker
Knife & Cutting Board
Plate
Bowl
Drinking Glass
Fork & Spoon
Serving Tray (you can learn how to make one here if you don’t have one)

What you’ll do:

Begin by making the yogurt parfait.

chopped strawberries

1. Dice the strawberries into bite-sized pieces.
2. Spoon a thin layer of yogurt onto the bottom of the bowl.
3. Cover the yogurt with a thin layer of strawberries.
4. Continue alternating yogurt and strawberry layers, ending with strawberries as the topping.
5. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

parfait

Now, grab the cinnamon rolls and get to work on your waffles! That’s right. I said cinnamon rolls. In your waffle maker. You’re welcome to try one of these recipes instead. I’m sure it’ll taste fabulous. But I doubt it’ll be as easy as this super-simple recipe.

These cinnamon roll waffles are going to blow your mind (much like this kid’s description of his first kiss). Here’s how you make them:

1. Place a cinnamon roll in a preheated waffle maker.

cinnamon roll in waffle maker

2. Close the waffle maker.
3. Cook in waffle maker for about 75 seconds.
4. Open waffle maker and remove the cinnamon roll waffle.

cinnamon roll waffle

That’s it! I promise. It’s that easy. Don’t be too worried if the waffles have a few dark areas. They might look burnt. They aren’t. It’s just the cinnamon and sugar goodness creating an awesome texture to these simple waffles.

Now your waffle has some deep pockets to hold pools of the icing that comes with your cinnamon rolls. It’s awesome.

We’re also pretty big fans of Hoosier Sugar Daddy syrup. And let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to have these cinnamon roll waffles with either their Pumpkin Spice or Persimmon syrups, I highly recommend it. It could, in fact, be life-changing.

Put everything on a tray and get ready to serve. If you happen to keep a stash of cards (like I do), it would be a nice touch to bring the whole meal together.

Like I said. It’s so simple. And so amazing. Go ahead. Give it a try! I’m sure you’ll agree.

Breakfast in bed on a tray

 

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I’m no Casanova. But we can do better, fellas.

Hearts

You might remember the series of  guest posts that I published a year or so ago. They were written in response to this question: “What’s the most romantic thing someone has done for you?” You, Dear Reader, responded . Some pretty awesome posts were written. Here they are, in case you’ve forgotten…

 

See? Pretty awesome stuff.

You know what wasn’t so awesome? The amount of times I was told, “I don’t think I can write thing. [Insert Name Here] isn’t into doing anything romantic. I’m lucky if I get a card for Valentine’s Day.”

Unfortunately, there have been several seasons in our relationship where Christy would say that about me. I have had a lot of great ideas for romantic gestures. I just…well…I haven’t been very good at following through and carrying them out.

I have always struggled with forgetfulness. And I’ve had a perpetual inability to follow through on things throughout my life. That kinda comes with the ADD territory.

Case in point:
2015-01-14_04-31-22

That book in the photo? I bought it for Christy as part of a “12 Days of Christmas” series of gifts that I gave her last year. My thinking was that I’d fill in a page each day for the next 50 days (because there’s 50 pages in the book). Pretty neat idea. Right?

It’s still blank.

Not because I can’t think of anything to write. I can think of tons of things to write. I can come up with countless words to talk about what I love about my wife. She’s pretty amazing. But I still haven’t sat down and filled in the blank spaces on that book.

I need to fix that.

I’ve managed to discover all kinds of tips, tricks, and methods to help manage my ADD and get things accomplished. I’ll probably share some of those at a later date.

Things like this book and dozens of date nights I’ve conjured up in my head? They still suffer from poor execution. Throw in our busy schedules, three kids, and a limited budget, date nights and other romantic efforts have been put on the back burner. It’s easy to do. Unfortunately.

I’m not making excuses here. I’m merely sharing my struggle. Because there really isn’t any excuse. So I’m preaching to myself as much as anyone when I say this. There’s a reason hotels come up with a Man Proof Package  where everything’s taken care of and a guy just simply can’t screw it up. There’s a reason a co-worker of mine, who used to work at a pharmacy, has already reminded me that Valentine’s Day is approximately one month away (she was always amazed at how many guys were in a panic searching for last-minute gifts on Valentine’s Day evening). There’s this stereotype that is floating around that most guys wouldn’t know romance if it slapped them in the face. Unfortunately, many of us have unintentionally reinforced that preconceived notion.

We can do better, fellas.

Simple Date Night IdeasLet’s do better. Let’s start working at making this stereotype obsolete. We can’t wait until the evening of Valentine’s Day to start dating our spouses. Because practice makes better.

As you know, I’m no Casanova, but I’ve recently come to realize that it doesn’t require a giant production with enough candles to burn the house down and enough roses to awaken the entire neighborhood’s allergies to have a memorable time with your significant other.  I’ve also discovered some simple date night suggestions that I’d like to share on this blog.  And I hope to share some fun ways to say “I love you” along the way, too.

I’d like to build a nice resource here. One that will be helpful throughout the year. So keep checking back as we work to shatter this stereotype.

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Too many Selfies?

To Selfie or not to Selfie

A few days ago, Aly saw me post this picture…

Oh, you know…Just whipping up a grilled cheese and pulled pork sandwich. #metoday #fmsphotoaday

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

The following conversation ensued:

Aly: You’re probably the only person I know who gets paid for posting Selfies.
Me: What do you mean?
Aly: You know. You get paid for posting Selfies.
Me: Uh…No. I don’t. I don’t get paid for posting Selfies.
Aly: Yeah. You do. Isn’t that why you post so many of them on Instagram? 

While I do jokingly claim that I helped create the Selfie trend (I’ve been taking them for almost 20 years), I haven’t posted that many pictures of myself. And I certainly haven’t been paid for any of them.

I mean, I did create this video as part of a larger post. I was compensated for that post. It includes a Selfie.

I ambushed @cgfootballboy25 with some Avalauncher snowballs. #NorthpoleFun A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

I was also compensated for this post. It also has a video.

A smooth face for a #SmoothSummer. #shop A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

I’m sure she’s thinking about this video that was part of a Father’s Day campaign. She knew I got paid for it:

What makes me smile? #powerofdad @lifeofdad @oralb

A video posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

 

But other than that? There really aren’t that many selfies I’ve posted Instagram this year. At least, I don’t think there are. Let’s see… Continue reading

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It’s 2015. Welcome to the Future.

2015 fireworks

This is it. It’s finally the year we find out if any of the 2015 that Marty McFly experienced actually comes true. With Back to the Future Day, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and the awakening of the Force on the big screen, 2015 promises to be a HUGE year for geeks like me who are into such things.

Whether you’re excited about these things or not, I hope 2015 is an amazing year for you, dear reader. I hope that the worst day of this year is better than the best day of 2014. I pray that the Divine reveals Himself to all of us in ways we can’t possibly imagine. Let’s change the world this year.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

The Future is NOW. Let’s make 2015 a year for the record books!

Happy New Year!

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The 2014 Matty Awards

The ballots have been cast. The votes have been tallied. They winners are about to be revealed.

That’s right, friends! It’s time for the annual release of the Matty Awards! I know you’ve been on the edge of your seat in anticipation of this year’s announcement. This is, after all, a highly coveted award. It’s right up there with The Old Man’s fragile Leg Lamp.

So here’s this years winners in all their glory. But before I announce them, please note that the links included are affiliate links. If you happen to buy any of these fine products, a small portion of the profits will go back to me. And that helps keep this blog up and running. Thank you for your continued support!

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, I’m pleased to present the 2014 Matty Award recipients.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

2014 Matty Awards

Best Movie


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I think the second Captain America is my favorite installment in the Marvel series so far. Of course, I haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet. Some say it’s even better than Winter Soldier. That’s a pretty tall order. I plan on finding out soon if this is a valid claim or not.

Best Album


Andrew Peterson, “After All These Years: A Collection

Andrew Peterson is no stranger to this award. In fact, his album, Behold the Lamb, won the award for Best Album in the inaugural appearance of this award (back when it was called the Ralphies).

This is not your typical “best of” or “greatest hits” album. There are some new songs mixed in with the old ones. And the old ones have been redone. It’s like Andrew Peterson is covering Andrew Peterson on this album (or something like that). While I love every song on this album, I’m especially fond of the second half.

Best Song

I think this category is going to be handed over to my kids. Permanently.

Here are their choices…

Aiden


Lecrae, ”Nuthin”
from the album, Anomaly

Alyson


One Direction, “Girl Almighty”
from the album, Four

Mihret


“Let it Go”
from the Frozen soundtrack

I know. Mihret’s choice is a shock. Isn’t it?

A #Frozen #selfie with Olaf. #Christmas2014

A photo posted by Matt Todd (@mattdantodd) on

Best Book (nonfiction)


Creativity, Inc.
by Ed Catmul

Not only is this the story of the creation of Pixar and the resurrection of Disney Animation, but it also talks about how to be a creative organization. This is a must-read for any fan of Pixar, Disney, or Steve Jobs. It might even be a must-read for fans of Industrial Light and Magic. It’s also a must-read for anyone remotely concerned about leadership, management, creativity, teamwork, or storytelling.

The chapter about failure is worth the price of admission alone. It’s completely contrary to what I’ve experienced in the corporate world.

Best Book (fiction)


The Warden and the Wolf King
by Andrew Peterson

No, this hasn’t become the Andrew Peterson Awards Show or anything like that. I managed to read some good works fiction this year. The Warden and the Wolf King is the best work of fiction I’ve read in a long time. I laughed. I cheered. I cried. I couldn’t put the book down. It is a fitting end to the Wingfeather Saga.

Best TV Show

Still retired. I have one show that I’d like to name, but I don’t want to jinx it. It seems like every show that wins this award is canceled shortly afterward. So I’ll keep my choice to myself because I kind of like watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

oops.

Best Sports Moment

Aiden Todd, North Middle School

I didn’t write about this when it happened. And it was one of the few times I didn’t have the camera ready when Aiden was on the football field this season, but the best sports moment, by far, has to be the interception he got during one of his games. Hopefully it’s only the first of many in his career. Although I don’t have a video or a photo of his interception, here’s a little video I put together while playing around with flipagram.

 

Best Blog

DorkDaddy
Dork Daddy
I mean, the guy is raising his kids in the ways of the Geek. And he and his family dressed up like characters from The Princess Bride this Halloween. And he even took his kids to meet Wesley himself. That makes for an awesome dad. And an awesome blog.

I could probably also give the award to Indy with Kids and Geeking in Indiana, too. But they’d be repeat winners. And we’ve already had repeat winners this year. Besides, they’ll probably win next year, too. Because they’re pretty awesome people with some pretty cool blogs, too.

Now it’s your turn! What books, movies, etc. are on YOUR list for 2014?

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