Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baby's first birthday! Keep icing on the cake please

'Excuse me, what is this blue stuff?'
Almost a year ago I was blogging about the recent birth of my son. Back then, I was a new dad for the second time in 10 years, sleep deprived and groggy. Today, my younger son is a year old, having just celebrated his first birthday on Easter Sunday.

For his first birthday party we came together for a small affair with just my wife’s family and an unfortunate pig. We enjoyed a honey-baked ham and potato salad with typical Southern trimmings – while little Simon had some sort of smashed-up green veggies and yogurt. Mmmmm.

All done with our meals, it was time for the cake.

Son #1's motto: tear into it like Christmas morning
Now, here’s a little history for you. A decade ago, for our first kid’s first birthday party, our local grocery store gave us a free “smash cake” with the purchase of a full-size birthday cake. Micah dug into that sweetness as if his life and happiness depended on it.

When he was finished, he was all smiles, with the blue and red icing smeared across his face. He looked like a tiny Hannibal Lecter in training.

What my wife and I have noticed – and it was apparent very early on – is that our second child is polar opposite from our first child on the personality spectrum. Number one is loud and squirmy; this one is still and quiet (relatively speaking). While the older one jumps in head-first, our new one likes to test the water with his toes.

In this case, the little one tested the frosting. It was sticky, and he didn’t like it.

As you can see from our pics, we’d learned our lesson the first time around, and stripped Simon down to his Huggies for the big event. Turns out, he could have worn his Easter Sunday best.

'Okay, why am I naked?'
One touch of the icing on his finger and he knew this was something he didn’t want any part of. If we wanted to put some of that cake in his mouth, he wasn’t going to object, but he wasn’t going to get it there on his own.

So I have about five minutes of video of my one-year-old, in his birthday suit, in a staring contest with his cake. While this will be a memory we’ll cherish, the video is almost certain not to make the cut on AFV.

I love being a dad, playing ball, giving whisker kisses, wrestling and laughing – sometimes with the kids – but in this case laughing at my new one-year-old, who couldn’t be any less like my 11-year old if he tried. They’re both great kids, and I’m learning the best way to be their dad one day at a time.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter gives new life, joyful salvation: He is Risen!

I remember my first Easter egg hunt. I was three years old, and along with about 30 other tots, had a grand time scouring the woods for the hundreds of brightly colored eggs lying hidden amongst the trees.

It was my first real competition, and if I recall correctly, I came home with eight eggs. I was much better at finding them than at actually keeping them in my little basket. Every time I’d bend down to pick up a new egg, I’d spill the others in the pine straw. My mom, bless her heart, kept running along behind me to make sure I scooped up all my fallen prizes.

I didn’t win the egg hunt that day, but it was my first lesson in the wonderment that is Easter.

Of course, back then Easter was mostly about the eggs, the chocolate, and the Easter dress (always pink), which either came from Sears or Pizitz at the tail-end of a day-long shopping adventure. I always knew there was more to the holiday, but as a little girl, that was what really jumped out. That, and the Easter Bunny.

Today, I reflect on a more meaningful Easter. Life can be tougher for an adult than it is for a child, and I think a lot more about the burdens many friends, relatives, and I, share.

The Gospels tell us Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding up the Jericho road on the back of an untainted beast of burden. He arrived as humble royalty, welcomed by the sound of adoration from many of his followers. Then He met with persecution, sentencing, and crucifixion, taking on a much greater burden as the weight of this world, our weight, came crashing down upon Him.

I realize all the more as time goes by how heavy this must have been. It leads me to thankfulness, worship, and repentance, that the untainted Son of Man would take this on for me… and for you.

Today I know how sweet this holiday is for celebrating His resurrection, how He completes me and restores my relationship with Creator God. I am relieved of, and forgiven the weight of my sin, a child of God with a reason to celebrate, and to love.

I hope you have a joyful Easter, free from burden. We worship a Risen King, who makes all things new for us when we believe and confess Him as our Savior.

This Easter, may you experience new life, and joy like the child I was, chasing after eggs with my mom.

“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven…” – I Peter 1:3

Friday, March 30, 2012

Create-your-own note cards make artistic greetings

We get some mighty clever orders here at CrinkledNose. From birth announcements and birthday invitations to holiday photo cards and photo calendars, we provide a unique outlet for folks to craft their own special occasion inventions.

Our boss, wacky with BBQ
Our customers are a diverse group, hailing from the farthest and widest parts, and among their orders we’ve seen creativity at its finest. Lovely family photos adorn some of the sweetest personalized greetings, dripping with sentiment so sweet, confectioners can’t touch ‘em.

I must say, our Crinkled wares are delightfully original. It’s a great day when we get a personalized coffee order with a cleverly composed limerick, or a New Year’s card with an out-there, wacky photo.

Just like in every checkout line in America, we’ve seen a few things that made us cringe a little too. These cards are usually built around photos of poorly lit, hapless-looking subjects who look like they just woke up.

But that’s okay. We kinda love those too.

Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Had Picasso known about CrinkledNose, he could’ve referred the creatively budding – and bloomed – to us.
Because all of our products are personalized, kids and adults really get to show off their artwork, using a medium that’s not only attractive, but functional. Of all our customized goods, our note cards are probably the most versatile. Everybody needs a set of handy, any-occasion note cards to pen an occasional thank you, thinking-about-you, or stop-being-sick greeting.

With your own painting, stunning photo, or child’s watercolor, you can create one-of-a-kind note cards to share all these special messages and more with your family and friends.

Nature paints a pretty backdrop for a photo card
Most of us will never present our work in a major gallery. But by creating your own personalized note cards, you can happily distribute your masterpiece, as well as your well wishes, to the mailboxes of those you love.

When it comes to creative expression, true “art” doesn’t just belong to the world’s greatest painters – it lies in the imagination of the eager, the heart of the sincere, and the eye of the proud parent. Your pièce de résistance – or toddler’s finger-painting – should be shared with the people most important to you, as many as possible, and the easiest way to display your fine work is inside a pretty envelope with a postage stamp on the front.

Besides, museums are a tad stuffy anyway, and card stock is cheaper than canvas.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring break: Sometimes pollen ain't so bad

My son has had terrible allergies, the seasonal kind, ever since he was in first grade the first time. Every year he’s had one long, miserable month of itchy eyes, scratchy throat, and the stubbornly stuffy nose that somehow manages to run constantly while simultaneously hindering any air from going through it.

But this year it’s gonna be different. He’s 17, it’s the first week of spring, and pollen hasn’t bullied him around at all. It’s had too much competition.

Last week it was the car accident.

He’s at the age now where the kids are old enough to drive, but not likely to make a bunch of good decisions. So it happens that seven teenagers crammed, two to a seat, into a two-door ’93 Thunderbird. The last year, by the way, the T’bird was produced without any airbags.

Spring break hadn’t quite started yet – there was still Friday to go – but it kicked in a little early for the kids in the car when they plowed into an SUV. The injuries ranged from moderate to serious, with concussions all around. Nobody remembered what happened ~ just that they were trying to hit the “fun bump” at full speed. . . the reason, they explained, for going a full 50 miles an hour over the speed limit.


It’s divine intervention that all the kids survived, and the adults were okay too. Coming into this week a little sore and scabbed over, Monday was a pretty good day.

Tuesday came the Chow.

My son was visiting some friends, watching a movie, taking it easy from the concussion. Low-impact recreation. But one of the kids jostled him, and that was all it took to convince “Buddy” there was a scuffle afoot. With 400 pounds of bite per square inch, that evil canine chowed down on my son’s arm, coating it in vicious teeth marks.

Another trip to the ER, another x-ray, another set of bandages. Bless his heart.

My son just wants to get better, and to enjoy his spring break without being attacked by a crazed pet or somebody’s dashboard. I’m trying to keep it all together, to make sure I file the right papers with the right people, to match the right form with the right injury.

But most of all, to take good care of my boy.

He’s called this “the worst spring break ever,” but it hasn’t been all bad. We’ve had a lot of pizza, we got to watch cable TV in the hospital, and we’ve gotten some big hugs from people who just wanted to tell us they cared.

It’s been an emotional week. I’m tired, but so grateful to have my child. The copays don’t matter. Spring break is temporary. Summer’s coming ~ there’ll be plenty of barbecues, birthday parties, and fun on the beach.

Sometimes life’s most trying moments just serve to remind us how good it is to just be together. Looking back on the events of this week, I am humbled with thanksgiving. I look forward to celebrating another day. Coming home, being with family. That’s the best holiday.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Years of Education pay off BIG with
FREE Photo Graduation Announcements!

This day has been coming for a dozen years.  Or in some cases, a baker’s dozen.  Twelve years of buses, field trips, PTA, and school lunches.  For your graduate, the years toward independence haven’t come fast enough; for you, they’ve sprinted.

But take heart, proud parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents of graduates-to-be!  We have some salve for your wounds. 

Now through the end of March, we’re offering 10 FREE PHOTO GRADUATION ANNOUNCEMENTS, just for participating in our Graduation Giveaway!

How do you enter our Giveaway?

That’s a smart question!  We can teach you in a few easy steps.

Simply study our selection of photo graduation invitations, take careful notes (not really), choose the design you’d like to win, and do ONE of the following:

1.  Post your graduation announcement design of choice on our Facebook page;
2.  Mention us on Twitter – @CrinkledNose – along with your graduation announcement design of choice;
3.  Post a comment revealing your graduation announcement design of choice below, right here on our blog.

Next, just shoot us a quick email telling us where you posted your comment.  We'll send you a Special Discount Code, along with simple instructions telling you how to redeem your prize. 

** Remember!  You must email us regarding your comment so we’ll know how to contact you.  **

It's that easy to get 10 FREE photo graduation cards for your star graduate – much easier than all those late hours you put in helping them cram for finals.

Congrad-ulations on winning from!  (Now how’s that for some schoolin’?)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FREE Magnetic Photo Calendar Giveaway!

A calendar holds at least 365 wonderful reasons to celebrate.  And today, in addition to Oreo’s 100th birthday, we give you yet another:  Five FREE personalized magnetic photo calendars to the first 10 people who post a qualifying response to this blog!

What is a qualifying response?

Simply visit our site here, peruse our stellar selection of Photo Calendars, and post a comment to this article telling us your favorite design (i.e. the qualifying response).  Then shoot us a quick email and let us know you posted a comment. The first TEN qualifying responses to this blog will win FIVE 2012 magnetic photo calendars.  Enter through the end of this week.

Magnetic photo calendars are a great way to keep up with the year at hand.  Stretched out before you in contemporary styling are 52 sets of bustling work weeks and fun-filled weekends.  Just one glance helps you plan your projects and outings.  And gazing at lovely photos of yourself, your family or even a favorite pet make it all that much better.

Scheduling appointments never felt so good as it does with a CrinkledNose magnetic photo calendar.  Photo calendars are handy dandy for your desk, fabulous on the fridge, and grand as gifts for the family members toughest to buy for.
The best part of this week’s offer is getting FIVE FREE MAGNETIC CALENDARS for winning our CrinkledNose giveaway. 

May the best Crinkler win!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Abby: We do Love our Leap Year Baby

There’s nothing like having a child with a birthday on February 29th.  In some ways it’s wonderful – three out of four years, you get two days to celebrate (February 28th and March 1st).  It’s the consolation you earn for only having a “real birthday” as often as the world hosts the Olympics. 

Still, it’s not easy explaining to a little girl that she doesn’t get a birthday for three more years.  Such is the plight of the Leap Year Baby.

Of course, we didn’t plan on having our daughter on Leap Year.  My wife Tammy and I did everything we could to safeguard against it. 

Abby was due on March 7, safely past the phantom 29th by a full seven days.  But on February 28 we found ourselves at St. Vincent’s Hospital with contractions.  

The doctor was convinced these were false labor pains, and sent us home.  But my wife knew something wasn’t right.  She made the leap, and called to schedule a C-section for the very next day: the famed, feared and fleeting February 29. 

Thank God for a mom’s intuition. The umbilical cord was wrapped around Abby’s neck.  If it weren’t for the C-section – if my wife had proceeded with natural labor – the cord would have tightened around Abby’s neck.  And most likely we would not be celebrating her 12th birthday today.

We’re gonna celebrate big too.  A slumber party with 10 pre-teen girls is not for the weak or the weary.  Not that anybody will be getting any sleep at our house.  There’ll be pizza, though, a scavenger hunt, cake, ice cream and lots of giggling.  I might get in trouble for saying it, but I’m hoping we make it through the 16-hour event without too much “girl drama.” 

Secretly, however, I enjoy every minute of helping my daughter celebrate her 12th birthday, making all the arrangements, sending out her birthday party invitations.  Twelve years old is pretty big – it’s her last party before becoming a teenager.  It hasn’t been easy for her, being born on Leap Year.  When she was very young, she endured the teasing of other children, but now she is starting to embrace the idea of having a “special birthday.” (Well, some would say milking the birthday, ha ha.) 

With all this being said, I need to mention the Fox News story, especially since my family won’t let me live it down.  

Abby was the first baby born on Leap Year’s Day, 2000, in Birmingham. When they approached me about doing an interview, it really seemed like a good idea.  I didn’t make it on the newscast, but Abby and my wife – three hours out of surgery – did.  She has never completely forgiven me for how she looked on TV, when the cameras came into the hospital room with no warning.  It’s the Leap Year story we laugh about every year.  I’m so glad she has a sense of humor.

Most of all, on whatever day we celebrate Abby’s birthday, we’re incredibly thankful for God’s gift of a lovely daughter, and the intuition He gave my wife that preceded her safe delivery into the world.  He has made this special Leap Year birthday and all its fanfare possible for our beloved birthday girl.  Happy Birthday, Abby!

~ By Lee Moore

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Très bien, New Orleans! Good times are rolling for Mardi Gras

New Orleans. There’s no city quite like it. The sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smells make this city a one-of-a-kind experience.

Over the years, I’ve adopted this city as my home away from home. Near monthly road trips keep me up on the local events and the latest trip for our kick-off to Mardi Gras.

This year Krewe du Vieux was an especially good time. Krewe du Vieux is one of the earliest parades on the New Orleans Carnival calendar, and is noted for wild satirical and adult themes, as well as for showcasing some of the best brass and jazz bands in the Big Easy. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. Some of the floats even made me blush. But it’s all in good fun.

If parades are not your thing, there’s still all the food, history, architecture, music, art, and so much more. Take a guided tour on a horse-drawn carriage and learn a bit about the Big Easy that you didn’t know. 

But the best way to see New Orleans is to just walk through the city, talking to the locals. And they will talk. They love to share stories of their lives. What they’ve lost; what they’ve gained. We met several people who lost everything in Katrina, only to plant their roots right back where they were. It was amazing to see the devastation from the hurricane, which left nothing but the front porch steps of some houses, and then see ground-breaking on new construction on that same plot of land.

Life finds a way.

Today is Mardi Gras, and even now Cajuns, Catholics and Carnival enthusiasts are filling the streets of Nawlins with purple, green and gold revelry. I can’t be there for today‘s festivities, but our office really enjoyed the King Cake I brought back in honor of this grand holiday. And to you, mes amis, I wish you a happy Mardi Gras. I hope you've received many holiday party invitations to celebrate Fat Tuesday in grand style. In the meantime, please enjoy my holiday photo card du jour (attractive people pictured at right), a Mardi Gras lagniappe just for reading my blog.

I love everything that is New Orleans. Maybe it’s just more laid-back. Or perhaps I’m more laid-back when I’m there, ambling along Jackson Square, or feasting on beignets at Café du Monde. New Orleans is the fleur de lis, the crème de la crème, the city that invites us to “laissez les bons temps rouler.” It’s a wonderful host, and I’m forever in love with its graciousness and Southern extravagance.

Whatever holiday or whimsical reason I can find, I count down the days until my next trip, which is right around the corner. St. Patrick’s Day. Another parade. Another reason to celebrate. 

Look for me! I’ll be the one in green.

~ By Fred "'Ello Gov-na" Krischke

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day ~ Kisses and candy are good, but fake luggage is hard to beat

Another 365 days have passed, and the Holiday of Love is upon us once again. It’s Valentine’s Day – a date which, depending on the gender and relationship predicament of the person you ask, is generally nestled somewhere betwixt beloved and bedreaded.

Among our office pool, we’ve been sharing the highs and (some abysmal) lows of our dating adventures. Yes, some of our dates were a lot more tragedy than comedy, but even the sad ones get funny as the years go by. I don’t mean the truly tragic, mind you – I mean those moments of dating just traumatic enough to make us look really pathetic, or in a moment of tender mercy, wreak havoc on someone else’s ego.

I’ve had plenty of these moments myself. In high school my date nights always had a back-up plan. If the guy didn’t show up, I’d move on to Plan B. Plan B and I went out a lot.

For high-action (mis)adventure, however, consider the case of my friend “Emily.” Her date showed up in a stolen car. I don’t think they even got dinner before he landed in the pokey.

Actually I’ve heard several woeful date stories with a vehicle antagonist. Another friend – “Amy” – went out with a guy whose vehicle was in such a dilapidated state, the passenger seat actually rusted through and dumped her in the floorboard. That was right before the motor blew up and the tow truck hauled the rubbish away.

One of my favorite awkward moments comes from a coworker recently out of a seven-year relationship, only to be set up on a blind date with the very same person. It didn’t have the happy “Pina Colada Song” ending, though. I think there was profanity.

Most of the guys I’ve interviewed have been relatively mum on the subject of their bad date experiences, probably out of their own miserable guilt. Kudos to the one guy honest enough to tell me I’d probably get some good stories from the women he’d been out with, but strangely, he didn’t offer to put me in touch with any of them.

I hate to say it, but girls are bad too. Once we ran into my date’s ex-girlfriend at dinner. She sat her brazen self right down at our table; our cozy venue made the perfect setting to tell me details from their romantic escapades. But as low-rent as she was, she had nuttin’ on the girl who gave my boyfriend a hickey while I was looking the other way.

Of all my own personal dating mishaps, there’s one that really stands out. It’s a real crowd favorite, and I enjoy telling it at parties when I have nothing else to talk about. It loosens people up, and makes them feel better about themselves.

It goes like this. A few years ago I was out with a guy who traveled a lot for his job. The company was out of Chicago, so I didn’t question it when he got a call from his superiors to take the next plane out. He packed his bags; I dropped him off at the airport and wished him a safe flight.

Only later did I find out this guy didn’t fly to Chicago. He didn’t fly anywhere. I’d taken him to the airport to meet another girl he had flying in for the weekend!!! It was an evil scheme, dang it, but brilliant. It was the perfect plot to get rid of one girl, and get a ride to the airport to get another one. The man packed fake luggage. That’s hard to beat.

How to wake her up on the WRONG side of the bed
It might be a little late for Valentine’s Day shopping today, but I’ll share some good advice I read yesterday for you last-minute guys. Avoid any gift with an electrical cord. It’s a valuable lesson. Women want ro-mance, not appli-ance. It’s better to learn this before making a major milestone birthday blunder or other holiday gift-giving gaffe. (Just ask my ex.) You can’t go wrong with a simple, sincere holiday card, or even better, make your own Valentine photo greeting card.

We’ve all got some cringe-worthy moments in our dating history. But it’s Valentine’s Day, and we’re here to celebrate love in all its wonderful, imperfect forms. Real love, without motive, always makes the world better. If we keep on sending it, it’ll come back to find us. This year, Plan A is to make someone else’s Valentine’s Day special, and I love it.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Crinkled Friends!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 fabulous things to do while they're napping

Naptime. . . Ahhh, for the parents of little ones, this means peace and quiet for a couple of wonderful hours in the middle of the day. As parents, our day starts out hectic and is promptly filled with activities to entertain and/or educate the kiddos, feed them, potty them, and run them ragged enough to go to sleep.

But there is this blissful, two-hour span of quiet just after lunch, smack-dab in the middle of the day, that is our time – mom's and dad's time – to do whatever it is WE want to do. That time is so precious, I thought I'd share some creative ways to spend it to your greatest advantage:

1) Do some "mental" chores
During the kids' waking hours, they demand our attention. Sometimes we can fit in a short, active chore here and there, and if we are really lucky, we can get the kids to help us with chores like putting sheets on the bed, de-pooping the backyard (mine love that one), or raking up leaves. These are chores that are active and need little direction for them to perform the way you need them to, so you don't have to go behind them and do them again.

Anyway, for all the chores you just can't do with the kids – balancing the bank account, analyzing the monthly bill situation, making the grocery list – there's no time like naptime. These chores take concentration, real brain power to complete. Get them done and you'll feel like a real adult for however long they take you to complete.

2) Chill out
What is that? Relax! It's good to just do nothing. And that is so hard to do, because the entire time you're thinking, "There are so many things I need to be doing." But sometimes it's good just to power down and not do a thing.

3) Take a nap
You run yourself ragged, why not take a nap yourself? Curl up with your little kiddo and have snuggle time with them, or just sack out on the couch for those two magical hours. Not a bad idea, huh?

4) Hang out with a friend
There are few times we are able to chill out with a friend. Maybe you could invite a buddy over and play catch up with them during those naptime hours. If it's a pretty day, you two could sit on the porch and talk community or celebrity gossip, come up with amazing solutions to family problems or just have a cup of coffee with some cake. Ahhhh, that sounds awesome!

5) Watch a movie
There are just some movies that are not appropriate for our little ones. Take this time to curl up on the couch and watch a grown-up flick. Movies not your thing? Then watch some HGTV and get inspired to redecorate a room or reorganize a closet. Which leads me to the next idea . . .

6) Do a small project
There are so many house projects that need to be done. Plan ahead and make sure you have all your supplies (if any are needed) and do a project you can complete in two hours and that is somewhat quiet. Hammering nails into the wall, for example, is never quiet, so don't plan to hang pictures on the wall. But you could frame-up some photos or artwork to hang later! Clean out a totally unorganized closet, vacuum (as long as you keep it on, it's great white noise for the kiddos), paint a wall or a room (my personal favorite), etc.

7) Make a photo album
We have pictures, a ton of them. Take this time to make a photo album. It doesn't have to be extravagant. Simply getting the photos printed and put into a standard photo album is hard enough. But if you have a creative, craft-loving bone in your body, naptime is a perfect opportunity to decorate and enhance your photos. This kind of project is ongoing, because we have new photos and stories to add all the time. Scrapbooking requires a dedicated area where you can easily get to all your supplies, and not have to put them away every time you have to move on to something else.
8) Organize upcoming events
We all have obligations that require our attendance, whether it be a birthday party, PTA meeting, play date, soccer practice or game, or even a long-awaited date with your "squeeze." This is a good time to make sure your calendar, digital or physical, is up-to-date with events and reminders.

I always stick reminders like birthday party invitations and school function fliers on the fridge. You can kill two birds with one stone and clean off that fridge when you update your calendar. But then again, I like my crazy-looking fridge. I have a magnetic photo card on my fridge from four years ago still clinging to the door. Some reminders I just can't seem to part with. Oh well, for the rest of the clutter, it can be kept neatly on the calendar where it should be.

9) Yard work
On a beautiful day, why stay inside? If you enjoy yard work, this is a perfect opportunity to pull weeds, plant new flowers, trim shrubs (no power tools unless you're on the opposite end of the house from the kids), rake leaves, mow the lawn, pull ivy off the house. Wow, the endless possibilities of yard work!

To have a beautiful house, you need to keep the yard clean. Yard work is great for mental and emotional wellness, not to mention the physical benefits. If you're mad, yard work can be soothing; if you're sad, it can be uplifting; if you're happy, well then, it's just fun. If you don't like yard work, then leave this chore to your "squeeze."

10) Read a book
Quiet time for a couple of hours is the best opportunity to read a book, next to bedtime reading. If you've got a good novel, everyday reading is a pleasant way to enjoy the kids' naptime. It's an escape from the ordinary, a way to visit another time, place, or be another person (living vicariously through the characters).

Naptime is one of the things we parents look forward to when the kids wake us up too early in the morning. Use that time wisely. Once the kids grow up, that time is no longer reserved. But for now, naptime is your special time to do with as you please.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Who’s ready for some football? We are, we are!

The other day I accidentally turned my bathroom radio to a sports channel. It’s an old radio, with one of those big round knobs you actually turn to find a station. It has a burn hole in it where I planted an incense cone years back. And the antenna’s broken, so landing on a station I’m actually looking for really is a delicate process. Sometimes I just find a place without static and stay for a while.

Which explains how I came to find out (this morning) about the big “Super Bowl” this weekend, though I'm honestly not sure who's actually playing.  As you might have guessed, I’m not much of a football fan.  When somebody asks if I’m gonna watch “The Big Game,” I usually don’t even know what sport we’re talking about.

My ignorance of sports is second only to my incompetence with technology. And without cable TV, my ineptitude in each area is pretty cinched up.

A chick poses with puzzling Y chromosome.
That’s okay. I’m secure in this. Plus, according to Ben, my football-loving boss, I’m predisposed to not like sports. He attributes it all to the Y-chromosome, or lack thereof. He suggested I imagine the ‘Y’ chromosome as a giant goalpost. Dudes have it; chicks don’t. For girls, we just have a big ‘X’ guarding the place where the love of sports would've gone. Sorry, guys, that spot is reserved for crying over hurtful things you might say to us when we’re hormonal. That, and cheerleading.

I saw a great article online today, attacking a newly formed theory that we girls might wanna “chick up” your annual guy fest, an occasion mysteriously revered by manly dudes across America. To that, we cry foul. Hey, guys, we know better than to mess with your Super Bowl man-party throw-down, just like you know not to buy us gym memberships for our anniversary. (You do know that, right?)

Among the ridiculous Super Bowl party ideas the theorists gave us: football charades, fashioning AstroTurf drink coasters, and watching the big game from a treadmill. A treadmill? I’m sorry, but other than the obvious athletic connection, I can’t see how anybody can reconcile cheap beer, crappy couch-potato snacks and actual exercise at a Super Bowl party. Even I’m not that dum. (Sigh, yes, I did mean to misspell it.)

However, we at can help you score some extra party points without fumbling with the crazy party games. We now offer magnetic, personalized Super Bowl party invitations. You can personalize your cards with all your party details – time, date, address, and which team you’re rooting for. Add the magnet backing, and send your cards out in plenty of time, and you’ll earn yourself a first-down in party planning. When your guests post their snazzy, magnetic party invitation on their fridge, they’ll have all the details of your big Super Bowl party throwdown in the pocket long before the pre-game beer kicks in. Touchdown,!

Now, whether your team wins or loses, that’s worth a rowdy cheer and a chest bump.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Considering our losses, counting our blessings after this week's devastating tornadoes

I awoke Monday morning, the first time, about 4. My neighbor across the street called to check on us after the nastiness was over. The funnel cloud that ripped through our corner of the state had passed, along with two of its evil friends.

They didn't hit our neighbor's house, or ours. We didn't have any damage at all actually, save the absence of power for a few hours.

Others were not so fortunate. Right up the road, our head production designer saw half of his neighborhood destroyed. Six hundred children lost their school. Two lost their lives.

Weather reports say tornadoes typically start the second week of January. So in that sense we in Alabama were right on schedule.

What we can't predict with any certainty, however, is the random, merciless path a tornado will take. A house untouched stands beside a house demolished. But injured or whole, none of us remains untouched after a narrow escape from a twister's grip. There's no way a tornado can pass so closely by without reminding us with alarming clarity how vaporous this life really is.

When I think about the raving disaster just a few miles away, I think of the amazing grace that keeps us here, and the hope we find in rebuilding. Clearing the rubble, housing our friends or sending donations, we're helping our neighbors. The terror that rages by night is ultimately vanquished by the brightness of another day's glory. And the triumph of enduring conquers yesterday's defeats.

Today at CrinkledNose our network is still down, and production is limping along, but we're eminently thankful to be here making special occasion photo cards for another day. Being here is glorious, and life alone is worth celebrating. Holidays, weddings, graduations – those days are the gravy.

We at wish many more of these special days for us all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day: Sharing the cost of living
King's dream

Today we honor the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., minister, social activist, civil rights revolutionary, martyr and champion of equal rights. My son is out of school for the day; my garbage pick-up is postponed; banks and libraries are closed, all in tribute to one man.

King is one of only three men honored by holiday on the American calendar, and his day is certainly the newest. Established in 1983 by President Reagan to honor King’s birthday, MLK Day eventually became two holidays, when President Clinton enacted the King Holiday and Service Act of 1994. With that gesture King’s day became much more than a simple birthday tribute – it became a day of individual activism, a day to roll up our shirtsleeves and volunteer, to do something to help our brothers, sisters and the community we share.

On this day, and every day, we must do the work we’re called to do. King knew the night was coming; the time to work has always been ‘now.’ He exhorted us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Now almost 44 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr. has been gone from us longer than he was here. In 39 years he did more than lead a movement, he churned momentum for a cause that would gain as much or more ground after he was gone. Today we probably relate more directly to the changes he set in motion than any other American revolutionary. He walked among us.

It’s 2012, and night is still coming. There’s still much work to be done. We may not be judged with the harsh prejudice of an earlier, hostile Birmingham, cut into cruel castes by the origins of our ancestors or the color of our skin, but do we really want to be judged by the content of our character? What have we set our hand to recently, to make our world a better place?

King reminded our nation that freedom isn’t free. When I consider the inestimable impact of his leadership of the civil rights campaign, I feel small. I haven’t done much. But if I’ve learned one thing from King, I can’t judge myself by comparing myself to another. I remind myself I can’t fill another man’s shoes – I can only do what I am called to do. With my thinking straight, I get happy. I’m thankful to be here, helping in small ways, celebrating life’s great things. Making holiday photo cards might not mean much on a broad scale – there’s nothing I’m reminding a nation of – but I’m helping individual people celebrate their great moments, and commemorate the special days of their lives, whether it’s a wedding, birthday party, or announcing the birth of their newborn baby.

Truly, the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King remain as vital today as the day he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, sharing his dream of a nation where sons of slaves and slave owners sit down at the table of brotherhood. Most of the time we don’t realize his contributions are undergirding our everyday experiences, inspiring the relationships we freely choose to make. But just think about the things we don’t think about every day – the issues that no longer exist for our generation. The dream King told us was deeply rooted in the American Dream, has come a long way towards true.

King stirred the proverbial melting pot that is America. He’s gone, but his legacy continues to charge our social atmosphere for equality, and our community for active service toward our fellow man. We've got to get out there and do to honor the man who gave his life for what he believed we could achieve.

“Everybody can be great. . . because anybody can serve. . . You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.