Dec 31, 2009

Happy 12th Anniversary!

Day 61

Yesterday was our 12th wedding anniversary!

12 years! That is so insane to me. The last 12 years have been absolutely wonderful. I couldn't have asked for a better wife and companion and best friend.

Usually we go out for dinner, just the two of us for our anniversary. Unfortunately our babysitter at the last moment crapped out on us and we couldn't find one on such short notice. And we didn't want to call around to arrange babysitting with just an hour to spare so we celebrated our anniversary as a family.

Logan was not feeling so good either. So Kristy went out to grab some burgers (Logan REALLY wanted a cheeseburger and we were not in the mood to fight him) and we ate and relaxed. We put Logan to bed and Kristy and I watched a movie together. Sounds romantic right? To be honest, this is the type of evening I love. Eating burgers and spending time together at home. And I love that Kristy is happy to have a nice quiet evening at home too.

Our wedding day was cold and foggy. Why in the heck did we decide to get married in December? We got up early and headed to the Logan Temple to get married. We sat beside our dear friends and family and was married for time and eternity. It was so beautiful, Kristy looked stunning. My sister helped her with her hair early that morning. Afterwards we went outside and took pictures outside the Temple. It was so cold, poor Kristy, at least I had a suit jacket. After a ton of pictures we went downtown to the Bluebird Restaurant and had our wedding breakfast. After that we headed down to West Jordan (about 2 hours away) for our wedding reception. It was real foggy, I was surprised about who attended because the fog was pretty thick.

I tried to hide my car but Kristy's family found it and decorated it. When I found my car there was a dog eating some ham off of my tire. I chased the dog away and opened the door and Steven (Kristy's littlest brother) had stuck some ham underneath it. Nothing like frozen food stuck to my white car! They also doused it with dishwasher soap so when I took the car to the car wash, it frothed during the rinse.

That night we stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake City. It was such a draining and tiring day but it was all worth it.

Thanks Kristy for a fantastic 12 years!

Dec 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions Part I

Day 60

Every year I make New Year's Resolutions and every year I forget them and I get just plain lazy and I don't accomplish them. And every year I claim that 'this year will be different' and we know how that ends.

But this year WILL be different because I am going to use this blog as a way to motivate and more importantly, hold myself responsible and accountable for these New Year's Resolutions. Over the next few days I will cover all that I want to change. For this column, I am going to concentrate on how I am going to challenge myself when it comes to my hobbies. As you already know, I like to read and write and this is what I am going to blog about today.


1) Last November I participated in the NaNoWriMo event and finished my novel well over 50,000 words. Because I passed that mark, I was given a special coupon code to use to get my book published in book form and to help me market my book. But I only have six months to use this coupon code. So my first New Year's Resolution is to finish my novel. I recently started writing a new beginning to the book that I need to complete. I have another chapter based on the Deacon character that I need to write and then I need to rewrite and edit. To assist me I am giving this book to my sister and my cousin Jeremy to assist in editing. I don't have a lot of time left to accomplish this so I need to get cracking on it. The plan is to at least spend an hour on it a day.

2) While I am editing my novel I am also going to plot out my next book for next November's NaNoWriMo competition. I can do this when I am bored of my novel.

3) There is another writing competition called Script Frenzy that I might try as well. Basically it is the same things as NaNoWriMo except this time you develop a script. You get to choose whether to write a screenplay, stage play, TV script, or comic book script and you get to choose whether to write with a partner or on your own.
This starts in April.

4) And of course I will continue to write this blog. That should be an easy one. I also want to keep updating my other geeky blog, The Banshee Blog at least monthly.


I love comics and I will continue to read them, I really don't need a New Year's Resolution to do this. But for this year I want to do something a little different.

5) I don't read books/novels as much as I should and this is what I am going to change. With the help of my friends from the Bad Genious Board I am going to try to read a book/novel every month. And I will post a review of the book on this blog too.

I already have January's book lined up. My friend Jon recommended 'Beat the Reaper' by Josh Bazell. A couple of other books I have planned to read is Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis and Bret Hart's autobiography Hitman.

Later this week I will go over some other New Year's Resolutions. Some other hobbies and the dreaded EXERCISE resolution will make his dreaded appearance.

Dec 29, 2009

The Final Christmas of the Decade

Day 59

I cannot believe how fast this decade has gone by. I thought it was amazing when we hit the year 2001 (like Arthur C. Clarke's book) and now we are hitting his sequel 2010!

What is really strange to me is that my son Logan has been with me for 7 of those years and that I have been married the whole decade!

The week of Christmas was filled with a lot of fun and excitement. On the 22nd we celebrated Logan's 7th birthday. That afternoon he had some of his friends come over to play games and eat lightsaber cake and ice cream. During it he lost his tooth, it was not that the cake was hard.

He and his friends had a lot of fun. That evening we went out to eat, he wanted to go to Sizzler (he had won an award for a free meal and wanted to use it) and he called his Grandma Platis to see if she would come too. We all met at the Sizzler and had a good meal. After that we came home and Grandpa Platis and Grandma Pauline and Nathan came over.

On Christmas Eve, Grandma Platis came over again to spend the evening with us. We ate a terrific ham dinner and relaxed. Logan scored some great Christmas gifts from Grandma (we are allowed to open Grandma's gifts on Christmas Eve) and we put together some Star Wars Legos. After she left and Logan went to bed, Kristy and I watched our annual Christmas Vacation movie and played a quick game of Simpsons Scene It that we got from Grandma.

The next morning Logan slept in till 9:00 and ran downstairs to see if Santa came. And sure enough he did. When we got downstairs, Logan had already sorted the gifts out. We all had a great Christmas, I scored some awesome candy and some nice clothes. We stayed in all day playing games and eating candy. While we were eating some breakfast, Logan lost his second tooth of the week!

On Boxing Day we went to visit Grandpa Papoo (Platis) and Grandma Pauline and ate some baklava and played some games. We spent all day there all snug and warm with them and my sister and her family.

All in all it was a very pleasant Christmas and a great one to end the decade with. I am already looking forward to next year.

Dec 28, 2009

Matt at Work: What can Matt do for you?

Day 58

Seeing the snow on the ground and hearing cars sloosh through it on the roads reminds me of one of my favorite jobs. I was just out of high school and I was looking for a job. During the Christmas season I applied to assist one of the UPS drivers. I was hired and I was told to come to Smithfield and assist a UPS driver named Kelley. Those two weeks turned out to be one of the best jobs I had. And it was all because of Kelley.

The first day Kelley asked what I liked to drink and of course I replied Mountain Dew. So he made it a daily event. He got me a Mountain Dew and some Snickers (which he claimed gave you sexual powers). I would meet him around ten in the morning at the old video shop by the StageStop Theatre in downtown Smithfield. I would then spend the next 6 hours delivering packages.

According to my job description I was not allowed to do pickups but only drop offs. But Kelley would pay me under the table (and quite a lot of money too) to assist him with some of the pickups. One of the cheese factories was in our route so we had a lot of cheese to pick up.

Being a UPS driver around Christmas was awesome. Kelley delivered to some of these people almost daily and we got a lot of gifts. Kelley was extremely generous, he gave me almost all the gifts. I got a ton of fudge and candy along with some cash. He split all the cash gifts he got with me.

It only took a few days for me to get into the swing of things but I was certainly clumsy. We both knew that it would be a good day if I took a tumble. And it happened almost every day. And yes, I had to wear that brown uniform. To bad it was not summer, so I could wear those awesome shorts.

The hardest part of the job was going directly into people's homes. Kelley would give me a package and say to me "Just go to the back door and go down the stairs into the office on the left and leave the package there. You don't have to knock, just go right in." It was so strange to walk into people's homes like that. At one house he gave me this huge package and told me to go through this large gate into the back yard. So I did and I was suddenly assaulted by these three large Saint Bernard's! They jumped on me and knocked me down and I was freaking out. Kelley came to my rescue laughing his butt off.

Kelley was always looking out for me. At one house he gave me a package and said go to this house for a treat. I asked him what it was and he just smiled and told me to get my butt in gear. So I hopped out of the truck and went to the door. No one answered so I left the package in the door. I came back and Kelley was all smiles. "So?" he asked. I told him no one answered and he was so disappointed. "Did you yell UPS?" (Which is a rule by the way) I told him I did but no one was home. "It's too bad. The lady that answers that door always comes out in just her panties."

It was a great job and I was sad to see it end. My last day, Kelley bought me a huge Mountain Dew and a bag of Snickers. I see him every once in awhile. I wave and say "Hi Kelley" but I am sure he has no idea who I am.

Dec 27, 2009

Sunday Confessional: Ladies Night

Day 57

Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for others. This night I just did that. I sacrificed my machismo and took my mom out for her birthday. Just the two of us. Now you might say that isn't so bad, all sons should treat their moms to something special and this night I did just that.

For her birthday, I got tickets to see one of her favorite performers and I would go with her. And I think I was the only guy in a two hundred seat parameter. I admit it, I saw Barry Manilow in concert with my mom.

Yes. THAT Barry Manilow. There is really only one Barry Manilow right?

And guess what? The concert was pretty good. Seriously, I think I was the only man in a two hundred seat radius but I still had a pretty good time. Barry had just released his new CD called Here at the Mayflower, which is a concept album based on an apartment complex called the Mayflower. With each song he would take you through the lives of various people living there. Now I like concept albums so I got a small kick out of it. What I really liked is that Barry took the time to explain the album and how it was made.

After he finished up the album he went into all of his classics and it was kinda cool to hear them all live. He also took the time to explain how he wrote the songs. One that stuck out to me was that he brought on stage his old voice recorder and explained that he had written a song early in his career that he tried to sell to everyone but no one wanted it. So he used this voice recorder to record his own voice in layers and put it together. That song turned out to be his signature song Mandy. He then joked that he was so glad he made the song instead of selling it.

I have to admit Barry was quite charming. I don't think I would have enjoyed his concert as much if he didn't go into explaining his songs. That really drew me in, I love that sort of thing, learning how creators create thier stuff.

At first I was a little embarrassed that I was at a Barry Manilow concert. But after a few minutes in I was enjoying myself. Until Barry made an annoucement that really embarrassed me. After he covered his new album and before he went into his classics he said (and I paraphrase it) "You men out there? It will be all worth it coming to this concert later tonight."

I don't think so Barry.

Aside from that, I had a hoot at the concert and if my mom wanted to go again I would be happy to attend it with her. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

Barry ain't that bad. I loved it when Hellboy and Abe sang "Can't Smile Without You" in Hellboy II.

Watch Hellboy ll - Can't smile without you in Animation  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Dec 26, 2009

List-Mania: Comic Book Artists

Day 56

Happy Boxing Day!

I have mixed feelings now that Christmas is over especially when it comes to this blog. It has been a lot of fun celebrating Christmas for the last two weeks and I think I will miss it but at the same time I am happy it is ending. Conjuring up these Christmas-themed blogs at times has been a hassle and a lot of work. So while I am sad that Christmas is ending, I am happy to be writing about something else.

So I am going to do something fun (well, for me) for today's blog. Since I have tons of white comic boxes and it is Boxing Day I thought I would blog about my favorite comic book artists. Okay, I admit that was quite the stretch.

5) John Cassaday
There was just something different about this artist when he first busted on the scene. He is incredibly detailed and is able to draw just about anything. I appreciated his work but it was when I picked up Planetary that I became a big fan of his work.

4) Steve Rude
What attracted to me to his artwork was how simple and yet how complex his drawings are. His art has an old-school feel to it, like I am reading a comic from back in the sixties. There is no line wasted in his art.

3) Steve Epting
Epting penciled one of my favorite runs on the Avengers and it was there where I took notice of his art. His art took a large leap when he began to pencil Crux for the then-fledgling comic company Crossgen. In fact, Crux was the first CrossGen comic I picked up; just for Epting's work alone.

2) Marc Silvestri
Out of all the 'hot' artists that came out of the comic book boom of the early nineties, Marc Silvestri was my favorite. His style was rough and kinetic. He is also self taught, which motivated me to try my hand at drawing. Sadly, I am no where near his level.

1) Alan Davis
Alan is my favorite artist bar none. I will follow his artwork wherever it goes. He is the only artist that I have almost every single comic he has drawn. Uncanny X-Men became a favorite title of mine and it was there that I first discovered his work. At first I liked his artwork but I didn’t discover how special is artwork was until a little bit later when Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 came out. This also introduced a favorite character of mine in Captain Britain. It was the way he drew that particular character that quickly made me a fan of his work. He drew the good Captain with a majesty, he was bigger than life and was powerful but also commanded respect. Ever since then I have collected his work. I even got my friend Joel into his work as well. Not only am I a fan but I also have the tremendous opportunity to work with him. He started a website on his own and I noticed that his former message board and been down for months and months. I e-mailed one of his inker friends (Robin Riggs) and asked if he had any contact information about him. He sent me his e-mail address and I asked if he would be interested in me having designed and maintained a message board for him. Surprisingly he was very interested and now I am hosting his message board. VERY COOL! The other best thing is that he sent me a full sketch of whatever character I wanted (I couldn't decide between Argent of the ClanDestine or Captain Britain) and I was very fortunate to get a huge sketch of both of them. A dream come true. I never would have thought that when I first discovered Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 that later in life I would speak to him like he is a friend of mine. It is hard not to geek out! The following artwork is a picture of the artwork that I am proud to own.

Dec 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Day 55

A picture does say a thousand words. I am grateful for my Savior and celebrate his birth.

Dec 24, 2009

Christmas Memories: Fooled on Christmas Eve

Day 54

When I was younger we had another family tradition. One that would excite me and then suddenly dash my hopes the very next second. And I would fall for this every year.

Every Christmas Eve, after we delivered our plates of goodies we would settle in for a night of playing board games. My family had the best collection of board games. Probably my favorite board game we would play was Full House. This tradition has continued in my family and so has the Full House too. Kristy likes the game so much that she laminated all the guest cards. And this game has nothing to do with the crappy TV show.

After playing games we would sit around the Christmas tree and tell the story of the birth of Jesus. After that my mom would allow us to open one gift. I was so excited to open a gift. I would rip it apart, eager to see what I got. And every year it was the same thing. I got pyjamas. Every year I was fooled.

But then one year I was allowed to open up two gifts. One of them was pyjamas of course but I thought for sure that the second gift would be something cool. And it was sorta. I got a stuffed animal.

This tradition has been passed down to my family as well. Kristy will get us pyjamas and on occasion will make us some comfy fleece pyjamas too.

Logan still has problems getting his pyjamas on correctly. ;)

When I served my LDS mission to New York, my companion and I decided to open all of our gifts at midnight Christmas Eve. The neighbors upstairs were partying loud so we were not sleeping anyway.

Dec 23, 2009

Life with Logan: Growing with his Stocking

Day 53

Like I mentioned and celebrated yesterday, Logan was born very close to Christmas. While in the hospital, Logan was visited by Santa who brought him some neat gifts. One of the gifts was this large stocking that we could fit him in. He was certainly small enough, his legs were no where near touching the bottom (that is if you could make him stretch). We could have fit three Logan's in that stocking comfortably. We brought him home in that stocking too.

We now have a tradition of making Logan stand in the stocking so we can see how much he has grown. Every year we make him do it. And that will continue until he moves out. Maybe we'll send him the stocking and make him take a picture of himself in it before he gets any presents from us! We'll think of something.

It is so amazing to see how fast he grows from one year to the next.

I'll post the most recent one after Christmas.

Dec 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Logan!

Day 52


Seven years ago today my little buddy was born. He has been such a blessing in this household, he has such a keen sense of humor, a helping hand and a cute smile. He is always wanting to play with me and cuddle with me when I need it.

So what exactly happened seven years ago?

DISCLAIMER: First time pregnant ladies should not read this or those with weak stomachs. This does get pretty graphic even without pictures.

Why is it that when we hear that a lady is pregnant we tell her all the awful things that happen at birth? Survivor's guilt perhaps? Because when people tell you how beautiful it is and how grand they are really lying? Okay, that is not totally true.

Kristy was due with Logan on Christmas. My mom and sister's family came down to see us (we were living in Salt Lake at the time) before Christmas since we were probably not going to venture up north to Logan (about 2 hours by car) with Logan coming anytime. Kristy was complaining of pain but it seemed like it was not serious. After a nice visit with them, Kristy went to bed early. The next day was Sunday, she was still in some pain but we went to Church anyway. Kristy must have been feeling a bit sick since she came home halfway through the services. I told our Bishop that I should go home to make sure she is okay and they said they would cover teaching my class. I came home and Kristy was really feeling it. We had our annual family Christmas party so we packed up our food and headed to her mom's house. I thought I should bring our hospital stuff "just because". Kristy was really in pain, she could barely breath and she couldn't even get her shoes on.

We hopped in the car and went to her mom's house. We get out there and I could tell that she was in labor. Her sister Sherry came out and saw Kristy's face and body language and immediately knew that she was in labor. We still went inside and we delivered our food all the while both Sherry and Kristy's mom were yelling at us to leave to the hospital. I felt bad for Kristy's other sister Ranae and her husband Gregg. She was pregnant with her first and they were pale as ghosts when they saw Kristy.

The hospital was about twenty minutes away but luckily traffic was good and we made it. We walked in and I told the lady that Kristy was in labor. The nurse took her to the first room to examine her. The nurse peered down there and quickly looked again. Then she grabbed another nurse for a quick second opinion. The second nurse yelled out "We better get her in a delivery room before she gives birth!" Both Kristy and I were shocked. Apparently she had already dilated to a '7'. I asked the nurse if I should grab our stuff and she said "You better just get your camera now if you have it! And hurry!" I ran back to the car and got on my cell and called Kristy's mom and told her. I then called my mom to pass the news.

By the time I got back, Kristy was already having hard labor. The nurses didn't have time to hook her up to any machines. Our doctor came in (he was the one on call) and saw and he was still in his suit. He peered in and suddenly the water broke and he gets up and smiles "I better get my stuff on!" Kristy did get hooked up to the machine that tracks the contractions and in between one we drew her blood, but only barely. The doctor came back and we were on our way. We were at the point of no return. Kristy had no time to get the epidural, there would not be enough time to get it working before she would deliver.

Now let me give you my opinion on being there for a birth. I don't want to see it. Not at all. I don't care about seeing the 'miracle of life', I just have absolutely no interest in it. I will be there supporting my wife but that doesn't mean I have to watch it.

Everything was progressing really well. We were a few contractions away from the birth of our child. Suddenly our doctor yells out "It's crowning! Wow!" Now what would any person do after hearing that? You would want to take a peek at what he is amazed at right? So I forgot what I was doing and I looked. What I saw only last a second. No, I didn't faint. I got squirted. Yes, you heard me. SQUIRTED. The baby shot right out and I got hit in the hair, all down my face, on my shirt, on my pants and on my shoes. I was covered with baby juice! I about hurled. The nurses were all excited and wiping the baby off but what about me?! I wiped myself (as much as I could) on Kristy's hospital gown sleeve. It got me in the crevice of my mouth!

(That is how I felt after I was squirted upon with Baby Juice!)

Kristy and I decided not to find out the baby's sex. The doctor announced it was a boy but neither of us were surprised. We knew it was Logan.

They gave me the baby and they had to assist Kristy. Unfortunately for her, she had quite a rip and she had lost a lot of blood. She was close to having a blood transfusion. I remember seeing Logan and his big eyes. I welcomed him into my family and I looked up and I saw Kristy's sister Sherry and her kids. I motioned them NOT to come in just yet. I didn't want her kids to see the buckets of blood all over.

They finally came in with the rest of her family. It was convenient for the Christmas party right? I let her parents hold Logan while I called my family. Kristy recovered and finally I came home. It was strange to come home all by myself. The first thing I did? I took those jeans off and washed them. I threw out the shirt and socks. I couldn't sleep that night so I put together our new entertainment center that Jennifer and Justin got for us.

It was worth the squirting to get Logan. That doesn't mean I liked it, it just means it was worth it.

Dec 21, 2009

Christmas Memories: In Pictures

Day 51

With Logan's birthday tomorrow and Christmas coming up, my time for blogging is getting shorter and shorter. Today is just a collection of Christmas pictures from my past.

Decorating the Christmas tree was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid. That has certainly changed, I am not a fan of it now. We always had a real tree when I was young, we would buy the spray cans of snow and blast the tree full of snow. We then would put our homemade ornaments (I had this duck I made when I was two) and we would put tinsel over it carefully to make it look like icicles. It took us hours to get our tree up and decorated.

My first Christmas when I was married was certainly a fun and unique Christmas. We lived in a trailer on the campus of Utah State University. We barely had room for us and we knew that a tree would be impossible. I came home from work one night and found that Kristy had taken our garland we used for our wedding reception and fashioned it into a Christmas tree that she put in the corner. It was so cute. Looking back, it was fun to be poor students.

One of the best Christmas mornings ever! As far as gifts go. This was the year I got a ton of hockey stuff. I got my first hockey stick, an Edmonton Oiler jersey (see? my jersey-wearing days started early!) and this cool hockey game. It was like a foozball game only it had hockey players. You can also see in this picture that I got a Super Merlin and a metal cast Star Destroyer (my favorite Star Wars ship) which I still have today.

Another fantastic Christmas morning. I was certainly spoiled. This was the Christmas when I got the Atari 2600 and some games. I was so excited! You can also see on the right that I got a ton of Return of the Jedi action figures and in my hands is a ton of hockey stickers. I couldn't wait to tear into the Atari.

We brought Logan home on Christmas Eve from the hospital. My dad was on the road (he was a trucker) and he came by on his way home for Christmas to see Logan. It was so nice to have my dad drop in on Christmas to see his first grandson.

Logan didn't want to sit on Santa's lap this year. He seems to be wishy-washy when it comes to this. But one year he surprised us all when he said he would sit on his lap. And we have photographic proof of it!

Dec 20, 2009

Christmas with the Breinholt's

Day 50!

Late blog today. It seems like the sting of defeat (which I should be used to since I am a Jets fan) has killed any motivation to blog today. So I have been putting it off and now I am forced to blog about something.

Yesterday we headed down to the annual Breinholt Christmas Party! And as usual it was a lot of fun. I am so lucky and blessed that I have such great in-laws. The party was fun with all sorts of traditions.

Every year we read from the Bible of Christ's birth. All the grand kids take part by helping setting up the Nativity set.

Every year Steve leads in singing Christmas carols. Some more loudly than others.

Every year we have great food.

Every year the neighbors wish they had soundproof walls. It can certainly get loud in the house.

Every year we exchange family gifts. This year we got a Chili's gift card and Logan got a Nerf gun. "You'll shoot your eye out!" And I did; I shot Logan in the eye just today.

For the last few years a policeman came over. My bro-in-law is a cop. ;)

Every year the in-laws hear the same story from the Breinholt siblings.

Every year mom tells us to be quiet. And every year we ignore her. But I am getting better.

Every year mom says that she will talk to us "when your voice is as low as mine." And every year I speak in a deep, bass voice to mock her.

Every year since Andrea came into the family we "people watch". I guess that would be "family watch".

Every year I tease Cassie (my niece) for hating me.

Ahh... memories.

Can't wait till next year!

Dec 19, 2009

Pic of the Week: Yummy Christmas Ornaments

Day 49

I think this is the soonest we have decorated for Christmas. It seems like the last few years we get it all done about two or three days before the big day. I have to admit that this year I seem to be a little more excited.

I remember one year we were decorating for Christmas in particular. It was about four years ago. We were in the back room decorating the tree. Logan was trying to help but being so young it was more of us doing it all and watching him to make sure he was not into something he shouldn't be. We were hanging some ornaments on the tree when suddenly we heard this "CRUNCH". It sounded like glass breaking. We immediately look over at Logan (knowing full well he would be the source of the sound) and he had taken a big bite into one of the glass ball ornaments!

We picked him up and Kristy sat him on her knee and I fished around his mouth taking out shards of glass. We don't think he swallowed any, we had recovered enough pieces of the glass ornament that we could probably glue it back together. It was a scary moment and the next day Kristy tossed out all of our old glass decorations.

EDIT: That is the actual glass ornament that Logan chowed down on.

Dec 18, 2009

List-Mania: Christmas Music

Day 48

It takes me time to warm up to the Christmas season but once I am in it, I go all the way. I love Christmas music even though I am not a fan of it before Thanksgiving. But I do dig Christmas music in all forms. So here are my Top Ten favorite Christmas songs.

10) Happy X-Mas (War is Over)
It may have started out as a protest song about Vietnam but it will always be to me about Christmas and the peace it can bring. It is too bad that we have to have Christmas in order to have peace.

9) Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)
I have U2's rendition of this song and it is just awesome. What is Christmas without having your loved ones around?

8) Do They Know It's Christmas
I know this is not really much of a Christmas song since it was made to raise money for Africa but the message it contains is what really matters. We should be helping others that may not have a Christmas. Donate old toys, drop some change in the Salvation Army buckets, help someone in the neighborhood.

7) Thank God It's Christmas
Believe it or not but Queen actually wrote a Christmas song. I thought it was just a cover of a Christmas song when I first heard it. It definitely sounds like a Christmas song. A simple song about how it is good when it is Christmas.

6) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
The first time I heard this song was in the 3rd grade. I participated in a choir during lunch times and we were to perform at a Christmas concert. I thought this song was so unique, something so different than any other Christmas song I had ever heard.

5) Oh Come All Ye Faithful
This was another favorite I sung in my 3rd grade choir. Who would have thought that this event would have such an impact on me?

4) The First Noel
I am noticing another trend here. It seems I like Christmas songs that have high parts.

3) Angels We Have Heard On High
I wish this song was more popular. It has to be my favorite Christmas song to sing along with. The tenor and bass parts are so awesome. Voice Male does a fantastic cover of this song. I also like Mariah Carey's mash up she did with this song and the next one on my list. That was back when I liked Mariah Carey.

2) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
What I love about this Christmas Hymn is how it continues to build to a crescendo. Oh, how I wish I could sing better. My version is not as good.

1) O Holy Night
This is such a beautiful song. The poetry (the lyrics) match the music so well. I cannot really put down in words how much I love this song. Mariah Carey does a wonderful rendition.

Now I'm off to listen to some Christmas tunes.

Dec 17, 2009

Matt at Work: The Rigged Christmas Party

Day 47

When I look out the window or go downtown and see all the Christmas decorations, it reminds me of some of the office Christmas parties that I attended and one in particular that I will never forget.

Now I am not a paranoid person, I am not the type that thinks everyone is out to get me. I do not have conspiracy theories for everything either. But I believe that the last Christmas office party that I attended at my former employment was rigged.

Let me give you some background first. During my first year of employment there, we were all invited to take a confidential anonymous survey of how we thought that company was doing and how the leadership of the company rated. Then it was discovered that these surveys were really not anonymous. On the back and at the very bottom was a very small number. We looked at other department's surveys and they all had different numbers. So they may not be able to tell who took the survey, they would at least know what department it was coming from. And when your company had about twenty employees it would be very easy to figure out who was who. Especially when it was hand written. My department, along with a few others, typed our surveys on separate pieces of paper. Smalls (our HR representative) really tried his hardest to make it look innocent. But who would believe him when the evidence was so blatant. There were many other incidents (and future columns!) like this that made everyone in that company a little paranoid.

So at the Christmas party in 2006 it was revealed that our CEO was going to give away his BMW Roadster to one of his employees. Why? We all knew it was because he had no success in selling it. So why not give it away and write it off as a business expense? But still, it was a great prize for a lucky fellow employee.

So what is the catch? There wasn't initially a catch. At the next Christmas party he would draw a name and they would be a winner. Employees were given ping pong balls. If we were Employee of the Month we were given a ball. At the Christmas parties, awards were given to employees and so next year they would get a couple of balls. And we were also given balls based on our performance reviews which we had twice a year. All of the balls would be placed in a barrel and into a random drawing.

During the next year, my company basically said nothing about the contest. There were not any reminders or any other opportunities to win more balls. I thought that was a mistake, they really should have pimped that more. By hardly saying hardly anything, it became suspicious. But in the end, EVERYONE there knew who was going to win it anyway.

So anyway, we really only had our performance reviews and that was part of the catch. Performance reviews at this place were from the Bizarro World. My very first review was good but the longer I was employed there, the worse they got. Part of my review was how good I knew our product. I was in Sales, so naturally I was the one with the most knowledge. My first review was great, I got high marks but every review my scores got lowered. So somehow I was losing knowledge. Somehow I was becoming more dumb. When I asked about it I was told that the CEO didn't like giving high marks. He gave out low marks to make the employee more motivated to score higher. So basically if I worked my butt off, I was told to work harder with little or no appreciation. I could devote a column to these all on their own! If you don't believe me, I can post all my performance reviews, I still have them. So that is one reason a lot of people would be screwed out of the contest. High marks got you (if I can remember) about 4 balls. I had the most balls in our departments (Sales and Marketing) because we were the evil corner of the building. But I only had 6 of them in it. I think I had more balls than everyone in the Sales and Marketing Departments combined. And yes, that is what she said.

One of the rules is that you had to be there to win. Which was sad, morale at this place was really low and I think them making this rule was more to get people to come because they were afraid attendance would be low. Maybe it is because we all knew who was going to win beforehand?

The party was nice, the food (catered by the Copper Mill) was fantastic and the company at my table was awesome. The White Elephant gift exchange was as always very funny. I got a cool Homer Simpson key chain that had some of Homer's quotes. I gave away a jar of my Pickled Bums. And then they awarded the usual year-end awards and I was thinking maybe they were taking a big step here. Maybe they had changed. The people that won those awards fully deserved those awards.

Finally the big moment came. They announced the winner of the BMW Giveaway. And all my hopes were crashed the moment he pulled out the winning number. He pulled out #14 and we all looked at the big board. Chris laughed as he "spotted" the name and sure enough. The person we all thought that would win, that we all called last year, won.

And he was not present either. He was living in San Diego. So they called him on his cell phone and it seemed like the winner was not surprised either. He responded with an unconvincing “you’re kidding”. And no one else said anything. Some people nervously laughed, others shook their heads.

So why do I think it was rigged? A couple of reasons. The first being we were right in who won. Now he was a good worker and was quite smart. But he was also crafty, it wouldn't surprise me if a deal was made LONG before the drawing. He was also Chris's good friend too. And he got anything he wanted and we all knew it since he was very vocal about it.

Also, the barrel of ping pong balls was already filled before anyone got there. A couple of employees claim that they saw something in Chris's hands before he reached into the barrel to pull out a ball.

Personally, I think they loaded the bottom of the barrel with his number. They had some employees shake the barrel but when it is full, the balls won't move. I can also picture Smalls testing this out in his office. While there were other balls, the chances of pulling anyone else's ball out the bottom were not good.

Do I sound bitter? Sour grapes you might say? Well, that may be true but trust me, I have a TON of other stories which I will share on this blog that will show why I was so paranoid working there.

Dec 16, 2009

Christmas Memories: Christmas Eve Goodies

Day 46

The last few days I have blogged about some of my favorite Christmas traditions and now I will share another one that I have not done for many years.

When I lived in Edmonton, every Christmas Eve my family and I got together and we went around delivering plates of treats to some of the people we know. We would just knock on the door and run, leaving the plate of goodies on the steps. These were not your ordinary treats either. This was a huge plate loaded with my dad's famous Baklava (Baklava is a Greek pastry. Loaded with butter, honey and chopped nuts and topped with a clove), my mom's famous Snowball cookies and Grandma Anhder's famous Fruitcake.

I remember one Christmas Eve in particular when we also picked up a Christmas tree and delivered it anonymously to a set of newlyweds that were very poor. It felt good delivering these treats. And the smell of Baklava cooking fills the house and just reminds me of those simpler times.

I asked my mom for those recipes so I can post them here. During this week I am going to attempt to make some of them. The Snowball cookies are the easiest to make so I am going to start there. These recipes originated from my Aunt Helen. Yet again, I am stealing an idea from a fellow blogger. Thanks Jennifer!


1 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
Confectioners Sugar

Bream butter, sugar and vanilla till fluffy. Add flour and salt to creamed mixture blending thoroughly.
Add pecans and mix well. Shape into one-inch balls and place on baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for about 20 minutes. Do not brown, they should be light. Cool and then roll in powdered sugar. Yields about 6 dozen.

I'll have to let you know how they turned out.

Dec 15, 2009

Christmas Memories: The Movies

Day 45

Christmas is full of traditions and one of my favorite traditions is watching my favorite Christmas classics. There are a few but I am mostly talking about National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

My mom and I saw this movie in the theatres when it came out. We met my Uncle Kurt and we saw it together. I never laughed so hard, sure it was a funny movie but what made it even more funny was the old lady sitting in front of us. She must have been my Grandma's age and she absolutely loved it. She laughed and laughed loudly during the whole movie which in turn made us laugh even more.

There was one part that I will not forget. It is when the SWAT team and police crash into the house and yell "FREEZE!" That old lady laughs out "Look where her hand is!" (I am sure you know exactly what scene I am talking about!) and she laughed about that all the way to the end of the credits.

Every Christmas since then we have a tradition of watching that movie sometime before Christmas. I can't wait to see it this year!

Another movie I manage to catch almost every Christmas is "A Christmas Story". Such a cute show.

Another one that I am going to make a tradition of watching is "The Muppets Christmas Carol". Last Friday night we had what Logan calls "Family Movie Night" and we watched it. It was still as good as I remember and I think it made an impact on Logan.

We still have a Charlie Brown Christmas and of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas to watch. And not the crappy movie, the best, the original cartoon.

Dec 14, 2009

Christmas Memories: The Hamster

Day 44

This month is going to be loaded with Christmas memories. One Christmas I remember in particular is when my sister Jennifer got a hamster for Christmas.

I remember sneaking out during the middle of the night to look around and see what Santa brought me. I was curious that on this desk that Jennifer got was this round, red cage. I looked in but could not see anything, it was still dark. So I had to wait until the morning.

Jennifer got a hamster that she named Midnite. He was named that because he was up and running around at midnight and because he was this beautiful creme color, opposite of black.

Jennifer and I loved this hamster. That is until it chewed through one of her favorite stuffed animals. I think it was a koala. All I can remember is hearing the yelling. I came into her room and Jennifer was so mad, I thought she was going to bounce that hamster off the ceiling.

I also remember one time Jennifer was at school so I snuck in her room to see her hamster and there was this note pinned on the cage. It said "Leave me alone!" I was so crushed. I wanted a hamster too! But that is okay because karma came around and I did get a hamster of my own. But that is a separate column.

Speaking of karma, I remember Midnite biting me hard on my finger, making me bleed. Jennifer said it was because Midnite didn't like me. She claimed that he would never bite her. So she held him upside down by his hind legs and kissed him on the nose. I guess Midnite didn't like that because he nipped her right between the nose holes. Oh karma, I sure love you!

Midnite was a good pet. We were sad when he finally died. We buried him in our backyard in the sunflowers. We never had a pet before and it was so sad to see him pass away.

Dec 13, 2009

Sunday Confessional: Christmas Edition

Day 43

One of my favorite things to do for Christmas is snooping. I admit it, I love to snoop for my gifts. Half of the fun of getting gifts is when you find out beforehand what you are getting. It makes me even more excited for Christmas morning to come.

I know, I know. That is a horrible thing especially at Christmas. We should be finding happiness in giving gifts and not the receiving. And I do get a lot of joy giving but I'll be perfectly honest here. I like getting gifts and who really doesn't like getting gifts? But for me, the best part of getting gifts is doing the detective work, narrowing down the suspects and finally seeing the evidence firsthand.

I am notorious at this. I have done this for as long as I remember and I was taught by the master.

One night my parents went out on the town, if I remember right they were attending the opera. My sister Jennifer was in charge of babysitting me and as always we had a great time. My sister and I looked for our Christmas gifts and she found them in the hall closet. One of my gifts was this helmet, I think it was either a policeman or fireman's helmet. I tried it on and played around. My parents must have come home early and found me still wearing that helmet.

Did that ruin my Christmas? Not at all, in fact knowing just made me anticipate Christmas morning even more!

This sort of behavior has continued all throughout my life. But then I was taught how to snoop without even looking around the house. Just grab your mom's purse and look for the Christmas list. That made life a lot easier since you can find it all in one place but the only bad thing was that if your mom's purse was at home, she was too. So you had to wait until the middle of the night or when she was really busy.

My parents got a little smarter, they started to hide the presents at their offices at work. So I might not have found the actual gifts themselves but we still had the list in the purse.

Kristy hides the lists (now that she has found out that I like to snoop through the purse to find the shopping list) and she also wraps all the presents weeks before. In fact, just the other night she wrapped them all. So even if I do find them, they will be wrapped. But that won't stop me much from looking for them. And the Christmas Season is not the only time that I will look for goodies. I do this around my birthday too.

I do want to apologize to my family for faking how surprised I was Christmas morning. I had fantastic parents and even with all the snooping and list-reading, they still had a few surprises.

And this year I have not snooped at all.

At least not yet...

Dec 12, 2009

Pic of the Week: Decorating for Christmas

Day 42

We finally got around and decorated our Christmas tree and I am especially excited because this is the first year since I have been married that we have a real tree. We also got all of our lights, garland and stockings up. We also cleaned up everything after so it is all ready for Christmas. I think this is the earliest we have decorated.

I am a sucker for lights. We have about six sets of lights going. I just love Christmas lights. I tried to put some in our window but it just wouldn't work. We have enough lights now that I can easily read!

This was our wedding garland. We put all of Grandma Anderson's homemade decorations on them. The picture just doesn't do it justice.

Logan was in charge of decorating the window. He did a good job.

Kristy was in charge of putting the lights on the Christmas tree. While I do like lights, I HATE putting them on the tree.

And because I love lights so much, I was in charge of of putting lights up. And of course I went overboard. I used the branches we had to cut off the tree and mixed them with the lights.

If Logan acts naughty I get out the large silver Christmas Punishment Spoon!

I put all of our snowmen decorations (we have a ton of them) on our fireplace mantle with a candle behind them. And of course, more lights!

Starting today and ending on Boxing Day, I will have a Christmas-related column. It has been fun trying to think of some Christmas columns. Lots of memories I can share.