Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

The fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever made [Recipe]

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, INC. and The Coca-Cola Company, all opinions are mine alone. #DunkinatGiantEagle #CollectiveBias

The fluffiest pancakes I've ever made #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Can I be honest here for a second?

I dread school mornings.

OK. “Dread” is a bit strong. But when left to their own devices, school mornings can be close to dreadful. Thankfully, Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and this buttermilk pancake recipe can help make these rough mornings go a whole lot more smoothly. It’s the perfect combination because Dunkin’ Donuts helps every day people who help keep America running keep themselves running every day. And the new bottled Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffees provides refreshment with a smooth, flavorful coffee taste. It helps me keep going throughout the day, helping to provide the boost I need to survive the mornings.

And the pancakes? I promise you. You want to try this recipe. It makes the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever cooked. And I’ve cooked a lot of pancakes over the years.

Why do I dislike school mornings?

You see, even though I’m the last person to leave the house, I’m the first person to get up in the morning. Since there’s no rush for me to get to work, I wind up serving as some kind of morning coordinator, making sure our high schoolers are up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 6:30 in the morning. That’s right. The bus picks them up at 6:30 in the morning. It’s ungodly.

The bus gets here way too early in the morning #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Then, while Mom is getting ready, I get our youngest ready for her school day. Because of some special circumstances, she requires a little extra assistance in getting ready. I love getting to have some extra one-on-one time with her in the morning, but it takes some extra energy in the morning. I’ve managed to create a manageable routine for her, but it still takes time.

When it comes down to it, school mornings are probably best described as organized chaos. And that’s on a good day.

There are some things I’ve been able to do to streamline the school morning process. One thing I’ve started doing is making breakfast ahead of time. I know. I have three high school students. They should probably be fixing their own breakfast. But if I left it up to them, they’d probably grab a handful of jellybeans as they head out the door, calling it a filling breakfast. I have a fundamental disagreement with skipping a good breakfast before school. So I make sure they have something. It’s easy to do if you do the heavy lifting ahead of time. That’s why I love this pancake recipe.

Give me some buttermilk pancakes and Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee!

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

The recipe is simple enough. It calls for basic ingredients that you can get at any Giant Eagle or Market District store. And while you’re there, you can grab a few bottles of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee. The 13.75 ounce bottles are available in four flavors:

  • Original
  • Mocha
  • Espresso
  • French Vanilla

I found these ice cold bottles of goodness in a refrigerated section by the checkout lanes. They were conveniently located so I could get in, grab what I needed, and get out quickly.

Giant Eagle Collage #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Don’t misunderstand me here. The Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee isn’t for anyone else but me. It’s more like my special reward for surviving the mad rush of getting everyone out the door.

OK. I do share them with Christy from time to time. If she’s lucky.

Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffes at Giant Eagle stores #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

She’s a big Mocha fan.

With a bottle of Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee and these fluffy buttermilk pancakes that I’ve made ahead of time, school mornings are a whole lot easier than they used to be.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes with Syrup #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Here’s what you’ll need

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ Cups of Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Vinegar
  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tablespoons of White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of  Imitation Vanilla Extract
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray

Utensils

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Medium Mixing Bowl
  • Griddle
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Measuring cups

Here’s what you’ll do

Step 1
Combine Milk and Vinegar in Medium Mixing Bowl and set aside for at least 5 minutes, allowing the milk to “sour.”

Step 2
Melt Butter in microwave safe dish. Allow to cool.

Step 3
Combine dry ingredients (Flour, Sugar, Salt, Baking Powder, Baking Soda) in Large Mixing Bowl.

Step 3
Whisk Eggs, melted Butter, and Vanilla Extract into the “soured” Milk.

Step 4
Pour milk mixture into the Large Mixing Bowl. Whisk until combined. Set mixture aside, allowing batter to rest for 5 minutes.

Step 5
While batter is resting, preheat griddle to 350°.

Step 6
Once the griddle is hot, coat with Nonstick Cooking Spray. Pour ¼ cupfuls of batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles pop (approximately 4 minutes). Flip pancakes and cook other side until golden brown.

Golden brown fluffy buttermilk pancakes #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

Step 7
Set cooked pancakes aside on a plate.

Step 8
Repeat Steps 6 and 7 until batter is gone.

If you are going to eat these right away, which is tempting, serve these fluffy stacks of goodness with syrup and eat them while they’re hot. If you’re going to use them throughout the week, allow them to cool and store them in the refrigerator in food storage bags. I like to put three in a sandwich bag so it’s easy to grab in the morning.

To Reheat
Place pancakes on microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds at 80% power. Serve with syrup or your favorite toppings.

The key to a less stressful morning

Making these amazingly fluffy and flavorful pancakes ahead of time is a key to a great morning. I can make sure my kids are well fed before school. And then after everyone is sufficiently on their way, it gives me the opportunity to enjoy my few minutes of peace and quiet with a tasty breakfast and my Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee.

A great breakfast combination #DunkinatGiantEagle #ad

What’s your favorite breakfast for a hectic morning?

3 things they don’t tell you about getting older

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TryTENAMEN #CollectiveBias

Be sure to check out all of the ways TENA® MENhelps you face getting older with comfort and confidence by hovering over the image below.

Time sure does fly by, doesn’t it?

One minute, you’re scrambling in a store, trying to find the right bag of candy. The next minute, you’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of your engagement. It seems like yesterday that I was cradling our firstborn in my arms, welcoming him to our world. Now we’re talking about career choices, making college visits, and preparing for life after high school.

They warned me about this. They probably warned you about this, too.

Don't blink. It'll all go too fast #TryTENAMEN #ad

“Don’t blink,” they said. “It’ll all go by too quickly.”

I’ve heard this quite a bit over the years. And it’s probably wise to heed that warning because it’s true. Time really has flown by. I’ve talked about it before. And I’m sure I’ll talk about it again. I haven’t gotten old. But I’ve definitely gotten older. And I don’t think I’m as prepared as I should be.

I wish, however, that people would have also warned me about some other more practical issues that come with getting older. Don’t get me wrong. My family, teachers, mentors, and other important adults in my life did a great job of preparing me for adulthood. I just wish they would have warned me about other issues that come up when you get older. I’m not talking about the high-level, philosophical things like making the most out of each day or seizing the moment or anything like that. No, these are nitty-gritty, ground level, practical things that people forget to tell you about getting older. As a public service, I’m passing along three things people don’t warn you about growing older.

3 Things They Don't Tell You About Getting Older #TryTEVAMEN #ad

3 things about getting older that they don’t prepare you for:

1.) Crazy hair. Everywhere. It’s inevitable.

My uncle used to have black hair when he was young. By the time he was in his early twenties, his hair had turned a silvery gray. I guess I should have taken that as a warning sign that my hair color could turn. But I didn’t. Until one day I realized that my sandy-brown hair had turned a white form of gray. Although I could have and maybe should have paid attention to the signs, no one really did anything to prepare me for the emotional toll that occurs when your hair starts to turn gray.

I know. I know. Some have referred to having gray hair as being a “crown of glory” and is a sign of a good life. But when you first notice that streak of gray in your hair, it’s rather jarring.

Gray hair #TryTENAMEN #ad

Some of my friends don’t have that problem. That’s because they’ve lost all of their hair. I’ll be honest. Discovering gray hair was earth-shattering. I’m not sure how I would take it if I wound up bald, too.

I realize the whole hair on top of your head (or lack thereof) situation really comes down to two choices: fight it by dyeing it. Or accept it. I’ve chosen to accept it. I’ve come to grips with it. And that’s OK.

But that’s not the craziest hair I deal with!

Nose hair!

It’s the worst. And it just keeps growing. And if you couple that with the hair that keeps growing out of your ears?

Insanity.

No mentor of mine ever mentioned anything about how to cope with the forest that keeps growing from your ears and nose. So I guess it’s time to find some nose hair clippers. I know there’s a scientific reason for the continual growth of nose hair. But I don’t think I’m quite to the level of acceptance for such a bizarre and annoying event that never stops.

Ever.

2.) Leakage

It’s time to get real for a minute. Y’all OK with that? Good. Because this is important.

Did you know that, according to TENA® MEN™, 3.4 million men suffer from Unexpected Leak™? That’s something nobody ever mentioned when they talked about what happens when you get older. And if you’re a man who is experiencing this unexpected event, you are not alone.

CVS in store collage #TryTENAMEN #ad

Available in store and online at CVS, TENA® MENTM Protective Shield is available to help men take charge of their lives. I know it’s not anything anyone likes to talk about, but thanks to its discreet look and absorbent core, TENA® MEN Protective Shield provides effective protection so you can tackle your day with confidence. They’re designed with the male anatomy in mind, providing comfort and security against light drips and dribbles.

During the week of October 22, if you buy one TENA® MEN product, you can get a second at 50% off. This deal is available both in-store and online. If you’ve ever dealt with this uncomfortable situation, why not give TENA® MEN Protective Shield a try? Just hover over the photo below to make your purchase. It’s really that easy.

You’ve got nothing to lose and comfort, security, and confidence to gain.

3.) Hearing your favorite band on the Classic Rock radio station.

Classic Rock radio. That’s a station reserved for the likes of the Greats from the 60s and 70s. Right?

That’s what I’ve always thought. And it makes sense. That’s what was considered “classic” rock when I was growing up.

But what happens when that radio station plays a song from a band you used to listen to when you were in elementary school? It’s such a strange feeling. And it’s one that nobody prepared me for. It still only seems like yesterday that my friends and I were rocking out to our favorite songs in my family’s basement. And now these same songs are in heavy rotation on Classic Rock radio stations.

It seems to me that there are two options when this happens. You can change the radio station and pretend you didn’t hear anything. After all, it was probably just some type of glitch. That song that you listened to can’t possibly belong on an oldies station like that. Right? It hasn’t been that long ago. In other words, you could simply choose to life in denial for the rest of your life. The other option is to just accept it. You grew up listening to some legends and their music is still amazing some 30 years later. Go ahead.

Rock out anyway #TryTENAMen #ad

Rock out anyway.

I mean, since nobody prepared us for this, we’re kind of making it up as we go along, anyway. Right? So why not have a little fun in the process?

This happened 20 years ago today

Back when I was in high school – or maybe even middle school, I can’t remember the exact year – my uncle told me the grand plans he had for the Christmas gifts he was planning on giving his then-girlfriend. She had a habit of trying to figure out what all of her Christmas presents were before the Big Day. You might remember that I don’t like doing that. At all. Because I don’t like pretending that I’m surprised. Especially on Christmas. But that’s neither here nor there. She really liked figuring out her presents.

So my uncle decided to play a little trick on her. He had several packages of all different sizes wrapped in all different ways. And he had them out waaaay before Christmas. I don’t remember most of the presents. And I don’t remember if he had a “real” present to be revealed after unwrapping all of the other presents. But I do remember one of the diversionary gifts. It was a Hershey’s Kiss that was placed in a ring box and wrapped quite elegantly. Any outsider, including the recipient, who had been inspecting this gift for weeks, would easily think the box contained a ring.

I don’t know how this ruse played out with my not-yet aunt and uncle. They weren’t engaged at the time. They eventually did get engaged. And married. And they still are. So even if he juked her out with that gift, all was eventually right with the world.

Fast forward a few years…

Christy and I were celebrating our first Christmas as a couple. Of course, we had exchanged gifts the previous Christmas but neither one of us was willing to admit that we might have “those” kind of feelings for each other yet (and it took another five to six months for that to actually happen). So Christmas of ’96 was our first Christmas together. I had a few thoughtful gifts for her. But I also had an extra special gift. One that was inspired by my uncle.

So I placed a Hersey Kiss in a ring box and tried to wrap it as nicely as I could. I really didn’t think anyone would really think I was giving her an engagement ring. I mean, we’d only been dating since May. And I was out of town for half of that time. I thought it might have just been a funny little joke and that nobody – especially Christy – would think I was a real ring.

I was wrong.

We look back on it now and laugh. In fact, I started wrapping a Hershey Kiss in a ring box every Christmas after that. But it was no laughing matter when it happened. “That was mean,” she told me.

And it was mean.

OK. Maybe not mean mean. I had no ill-intent or malignant motive. I was just a bit…oh…tone deaf. And maybe even a bit myopic. It was not my finest moment.

Redemption?

On October 23, 1997, revisionist history would say that I redeemed myself. Or maybe revisionist history would say that I had the whole thing planned all along. A revisionist historian would argue that I knew what I was doing when I wrapped that Hershey Kiss in a ring box and made it look like I was going to pop the question that Christmas of 96.

Nope.

I lucked out. Couldn’t find the candy I wanted. Settled for Kisses instead. And thanks to a bag of bread that went along with  my bag of Kisses, we were able to have the perfect engagement on the perfect day with the perfect weather.

And that was 20 years ago today.

 

 

 

Did you see the new trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

This post about The Last Jedi contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Friends, we are getting so close to the release of Episode VIII, The Last Jedi. I can almost taste it! Tickets are available now at Fandango, so don’t wait around and miss out on what’s going to be a huge opening weekend!

Star Wars The Last Jedi Episode VIII movie poster

As you probably know from previous Star Wars related posts, I’m not a fan of spoilers. At all. I think the idea of trying to figure out the movie before the movie is actually released minimizes the filmgoing experience. It’s all supposed to be revealed onscreen for the first time, not on twitter, facebook, or any other form of social media. That’s my opinion, anyway.

And I’m sticking to it.

So you can imagine my consternation when Episode VIII director, Rian Johnson, suggested that the newest trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi had the potential of being a spoiler-rich environment. I’ll be honest. There was weeping. There was gnashing of teeth. All night long, I wrestled with whether I should watch the trailer or not. In retrospect, it was a much more difficult decision than it should have been. But that shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise.

Because Star Wars is a big deal.

A big, stinkin’ deal. And I’m not going to allow some spoiler-crazed nutjob to ruin my Star Wars experience. Even if the nutjob works for Lucasfilm and personally put the trailer together him/herself. No way. No how. Uh-uh.

So I thought much longer and harder than I really should have and finally came to the conclusion that unless they showed something like Supreme Leader Snoke telling Rey that he is her father or Rey and Kylo Ren passionately swapping spit, or a lightsaber going through Luke’s back, or something earth-shattering like that, I wouldn’t really know if it was a spoiler or not. So I decided to watch the trailer.

And it was worth it.

So worth it.

It didn’t feel spoilery at all. But then again, I don’t know the storyline because I’ve tried to avoid all things The Last Jedi for the past six months. I guess there’s a chance that this trailer was filled with spoilers. But I won’t really know that until I watch the movie.

Spoilers? Maybe not. Cliffhangers? Absolutely.

There’s certainly a different feel to this trailer compared with other trailers. Much like The Empire Strikes Back (my favorite Star Wars movie, by the way), it appears that things are not going to go well for our heroes in this installment of the Skywalker saga. I think I remember someone, possibly Mark Hamill, once say that everything that could go wrong for the good guys does go wrong in this episode. That leaves a huge cliffhanger for the final installment. Just like the cliffhanger at the end of this trailer.

I won’t lie. My mouth silently shot open when I watched it happen. It took my breath away. And I stood in front of my TV, frozen for several seconds (although it felt like hours). What is going to happen? I guess we’ll find out in about two months. Won’t we?

Now is the time to remind you that if you haven’t bought your tickets to The Last Jedi, you can buy them here. Yes. It’s an affiliate link. No, it doesn’t increase the price. So why not help a guy out? AmIright?

The Last Jedi is coming December 15.

What do you think about the trailer?

At least Collin Kaepernick listened. Are you listening?

Statue of kneeling football player - not Collin Kaepernick

Before we get into this discussion, I want to make something very clear:

I disagreed with Collin Kaepernick when he wore socks with pigs dressed like cops on them.

He also lost me when he showed up at a press conference wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro on it. I have a hard time listening to your protest of perceived systemic abuse by our own government when you’re wearing a shirt that honors a man who systemically abused his own people. Not only do I disagree with that message, but you really can’t give your critics ammunition like that. It gives people an excuse not to listen to you.

A similar thing happened when he sat down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a preseason game in 2016. There was backlash. A social media firestorm was unleashed. People didn’t bother to listen.

And his message – the hard truth about racial inequality in America – really has to be addressed. It needs to be tackled head-on. It is important to bring it into the light. Collin Kaepernick was certainly tone-deaf in these situations and wound up turning off the very people to whom he was attempting to communicate.

Something changed

Collin Kaepernick met with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret. Together, they came up with an alternative way to continue shining the light on the issue at hand, but in a more respectful manner. He could have chosen to remain seated. He could have chosen to turn his back on the flag, or hold up a newspaper, or pretend to sleep, much like a student section might when the opposing team is introduced at the beginning of a ballgame.

Because those student sections can be pretty crazy.

Student section - Cameron Crazies
Image via Wikimedia Commons

He could have done a number of things to intentionally disrespect the flag, our veterans, and our families. But he didn’t. He kneeled.

Because he listened to someone, he kneeled.

Now, we can go round and round about the appropriateness of kneeling versus standing. But I don’t think I had ever heard anyone say that kneeling is a sign of disrespect.

Ever.

No. This is not Collin Kaepernick kneeling

Until 2016.

That’s when a tattooed man with big hair and darker skin chose to take a knee. And people lost their collective minds, refusing to even consider that someone might have an opposing viewpoint that is appropriate and needs to be said. Nobody wants to listen to the other “side” anymore. Everyone is making assumptions about everything regarding the entire #TakeAKnee movement. I wish people would just listen for once, instead of merely hearing what they assume they hear.

If we would simply slow down, be quiet, and really listen to what is being said, maybe we could actually work towards getting something accomplished that would actually work towards bringing us together instead of driving us further apart.

That probably makes me a dreamer. As my brother recently reminded me, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel described our current situation quite perfectly in the song The Boxer: “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” And when we do that, we build our walls a little thicker. We dig our trenches a little deeper. And these “United” States of America become anything but.

I don’t want to say that the Great American Experiment has died. I don’t think we’re there yet. But we’re sure getting closer. As Abraham Lincoln wisely observed while quoting Jesus:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

"A house divided against itself cannot stand" Abraham Lincoln

We are divided, friends. And our house feels a whole lot like a house of cards teetering on the edge of collapse. It’s like we’re waiting for that small, yet firm, breeze to come by and just wipe us out.

As my band director once reminded us, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. So can we please sit down, shut up, and listen to the real concerns that are drowning in all of the excess superfluous noise?

You probably think I’m simply talking to the “other” side and not yours. You’re wrong. We’ve spent too much time talking screaming past each other. And that hasn’t really worked, has it? So maybe we should try something else. Let’s try listening to each other for a change.

If Collin Kaepernick could do it, why can’t you? Why can’t I? Why can’t we?

You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments section. After all, the sharing of opinions is part of what has always made America great. That being said, any name calling or racist remarks will be deleted posthaste. 

I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

Cowan Christian Church

Over the years, I’ve put together all kinds of different events. During my youth ministry days, we hosted all kinds of major events. We had Super Bowl parties and Volunteer Appreciation Nights and almost everything in between. The “Saw You at the Pole” rallies were always fun. I put together big concert events, including a major grand opening of a firehouse-turned-teen-outreach center. We had hundreds of teens and adults at that event. We called the building the Fire Escape, from Jude 23.

Save others by snatching them from the fire Jude 23

That event was pretty stinkin’ cool.

When I was preaching in Muncie, we hosted a “safe alternative to door-to-door trick or treating” called Trunk or Treat. It was a huge hit. Kids and their parents looked forward to our Trunk or Treat every year. We were able to make it bigger and better every single year, in spite of the bitter wind that cut through our church’s front lawn during the Trunk or Treat. It became a big stinkin’ deal.

And it was pretty stinkin’ cool.

Of course, during those days as a pastor,  I planned many weekly worship services. I also helped execute special services like Candlelight Christmas Eve services and Maundy Thursday services. There were also Mother-Daughter Banquets and church Homecoming celebrations. From fun to contemplative  to everything else in between, I’ve done quite a bit of event planning and coordinating and execution. Continue reading I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

I am part of the legacy of Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins "I hope that I would leave a legacy of joy, a legacy of real compassion"

I remember when I was given a copy of A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band for Christmas in 1993. I couldn’t wait to pop it into my cassette player. To be honest, I didn’t really know what a liturgy was. And I had no idea what a ragamuffin was. But I knew who Rich Mullins was. So I was pretty excited.

The album did not disappoint. The instruments were amazing. And the lyrics had a beauty and depth that was absent from so much music in the early 90s. I’ll readily admit that I didn’t exactly understand some of the songs like How to Grow Up Big and Strong at first. But entries like Hold Me Jesus, and Creed, and Land of My Sojourn – they spoke to me.

They still speak to me.

I mean, listen to these lyrics from Hold Me Jesus. Rich had a way of voicing what your heart was crying out.

I saw Rich Mullins in concert a few years later at the now-infamous “She’s not my girlfriend!” installment of the Ichthus Music Festival  of 1996. I don’t remember many details from the concert, other than a few “postcard memories”* He was barefoot. I remember being amazed at the sound that came out of his dulcimer as he played. He told engaging, sometimes funny, always poignant stories.** He sang Sing Your Praise to the Lord, which he wrote. It was originally made popular by Amy Grant, although Rich smirked and said that she had messed it up when she recorded it.

He sang the song because he had just made a new recording of the song for his greatest hits album called Songs. So, of course, he promoted this upcoming album while he was on stage at Ichthus. So this concert was a greatest hits concert. And that was pretty awesome.

Fast forward three months…

Continue reading I am part of the legacy of Rich Mullins

The NASCAR Acceleration Nation app makes races even more exciting!

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post about the new NASCAR Acceleration Nation app. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Me and Aiden at Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR Acceleration Nation

I have a lot of fond memories from our time living in Upper East Tennessee. One of the best memories is the opportunities we had to attend NASCAR related festivities and races. Needless to say, living in the shadow of Bristol, the fastest half mile in the world, we had a pretty big NASCAR fan while we lived there.

Aiden in front of Bristol Motor Speedway NASCAR Acceleration Nation

Now NASCAR has created something I wish was around when we lived in the Tri-Cities: NASCAR Acceleration Nation! Available on Android, iPhone (click here to download), and the web, NASCAR Acceleration Nation has all kinds of great stuff for kids, including information about upcoming races, driver details, fun games, and learning materials about the science of racing!  Continue reading The NASCAR Acceleration Nation app makes races even more exciting!

Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.

Navigating our journey as newlyweds

During the fall of 1998, Christy and I were newlyweds on the campus of Milligan College. I was finishing up my final semester of classes and Christy was working at a local childcare center. We were young, in love, and broke (as opposed to being old[er], in love, and broke like we are now 😉 ). In many ways, this final semester of mine was like a minor diversion before we took off on our journey of life dancing in minefields together.

Wedding portrait

When we first arrived on campus, we were the celebrities. It’s one of the advantages of being part of a small college community. Professors went out of their way to come see us on move-in day. It was…nice. Actually, it was pretty cool. I’m not sure you’ll find that kind of “welcome back, newlyweds” reception on most college campuses around the nation. But Milligan is pretty special.

Of course, many of our college friends had graduated and moved away. School and work and figuring out how to do this thing called marriage together took a lot of energy. So we really didn’t spend much time hanging out with our friends who were still in the area. And with Married Student Apartments being on the edge of campus, it’s not like we were in the middle of the campus commotion.

Looking back, I feel like the colder months of that final semester, with the early nights and living on the edge of the  campus scene, it was kind of isolating. We didn’t really hang out with anyone else. Just each other. Don’t get me wrong. That was pretty awesome. But we were in a different life stage than the majority of the campus population. Even in classes, it felt like I didn’t really relate to any of the students anymore. It’s like I was just biding my time until it was time for us to move on. Continue reading Then Andrew Peterson made me weep. Again.

The Eclipse is coming! The Eclipse is coming! [2017 Edition]

This post about the 2017 Eclipse contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

Eclipse 207

It’s almost here, everyone! It’s just over the horizon. The full eclipse of 2017 is almost here! If you don’t have a hotel or bed and breakfast reserved anywhere near one of the peak viewing areas, you’re probably out of luck by now. If they aren’t already booked, they’re probably pretty close. And the rates are astronomical. * And the glasses are probably sold out wherever you are  (why didn’t I stock up on those a month ago? I could be a gazillionaire). And if they aren’t, there’s a chance they might not be as safe as you think they are. So you just might be out of luck.

But have no fear. You can still party like it’s 1999** in anticipation of the most visible full eclipse across the contiguous United States in almost a century. And you don’t even have to go outside or look up in the sky.

Times have changed.

I remember discussion about a solar eclipse while I was in elementary school. They made it very clear that you couldn’t look up at the sky during the eclipse without special glasses because it could blind you forever. I think we had inside recess that day.*** Just in case.

I’m also pretty sure I was hiking at Philmont during the 1991 eclipse.

They were memorable events, for sure. But there certainly wasn’t the hype surrounding the 2017 eclipse. And there definitely weren’t any parties.

But there’s definitely a party atmosphere now. I guess you could say we’ve come a long way since the days when a solar eclipse was a reason to panic. I mean, there’s certainly a little bit of fear and trepidation about going outside, accidentally looking up without your protective glasses, and having your eyeballs melt away, not unlike what happens when you look into the Ark of the Covenant.****

But solar eclipses used to be signs of the end of the world. I mean, who wouldn’t think everything was going to come crashing down when the sky suddenly turned dark and the sun was unexpectedly blotted out? Surely it was a sign of something. And that something couldn’t be good.

I think it’s fair to mention that there will be another full solar eclipse visible in 2024. That’s right. Seven years from now. You know seven is a special number. Right?

I’m sure the prophets will have a field day with that.

But the eclipse of 2017? It’s a party, for sure. Maybe you’re late in planning this party, but that’s OK. There’s not a whole lot of preparation required, unless you want to go out and buy some Moon Pies or make some space-inspired drinks. If you want to get all fancy, you can make your own DIY pinhole camera. Or you could do what I’m going to do and watch NASA’s livestream of the 2017 Eclipse.

But I’m not going to stop there. Every party has to have music. Especially and Eclipse Party. Here’s some music that should be on everyone’s Eclipse Party Playlist. Feel free to tell me in the comments if I should add a song to this list.

THE Epic Solar Eclipse Party Playlist

Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Duh. This is the no-brainer of no-brainers.

Man on the Moon

Fitting, since the Man on the Moon is doing some funky stuff to the sun.

Walkin’ on the Sun

Speaking of the sun…

Heavenly

“The Man in the Moon is smilin’
Cause he’s in love with the Girl in the World.”

Kinda sweet. Right?

Blue Moon

The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

A little nod to all the doomsday apocalyptic aficionados throughout the centuries who knew that an eclipse surely meant the beginning of the end…

Obi-Wan

OK, maybe this one’s a little of a stretch. But not really. Because maybe that’s no moon that’s causing the eclipse.*

Actually, this entry is dedicated to Aiden and his friend, Gabe. They introduced me the song.

So there you go. A great set of songs to get you ready for two minutes of awesomeness that you won’t see again for another seven years. And if, for some reason, you miss out on this year’s Eclipse, you can start planning ahead for 2024.

Assuming the sun lights back up and the world doesn’t end tomorrow.

Endnotes

* You see what I did there. Right? Man, I’m hilarious.
** There were two solar eclipses in 1999. But I don’t remember hearing about any solar eclipse parties.
***My memory might be a bit fuzzy on this. According to this, there was only one solar eclipse that was visible in North America when I was in elementary school. It was after Memorial Day, though. And I’m pretty sure we did not go to school after Memorial Day. But I could be wrong.
****That’s two posts in a row with Indiana Jones references. I’m on a roll, man. It’s time to go solo.