"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘Birthdays’ Category

A Poem 50 Years in the Making

My brother turned 50 in April, and I decided to write him a poem for part of his present.  Don’t worry—I got him some tacky 50th Birthday gifts, too, to go along with this cheesy little ditty.



Kevin and I many moons ago. Judging by our faces, I’m guessing they might have startled us with a squeaky duck or something else equally ominous.


I know an old, old geezer

His birthdays more than mine by far

His foolish youth I still remember

And how he built me my first car


Now I can’t get sentimental

That just wouldn’t fly

Cuz my older brother’s

Just not that kind of guy (in public, anyway)


The Three Stooges still can make him laugh

As can Smoky and the Bandit

Buford T. Justice chasing that black Trans Am all around

The point?  I’ll just never understand it


But there are many things about him

No one really knows but me

Like when we were kids at Grandma’s

We each had claimed a maple tree


His grew up a little taller

Its branches higher up the trunk

While mine housed the homemade swing

Played on ‘til the sun had sunk


Like most older brothers

He liked to aggravate

From pulling off my Barbie’s heads

To stealing goodies off my plate


I never will forget the time

He wiped boogers on my wall

His made up lyrics of victory

Ensuring I would squall


But there were times aplenty

Partners in crime were we

Sneaking peeks at our Christmas gifts

Before they appeared under the tree


Easter around 1974


Growing up I idolized this goof

Wanting to be just like him

I even tried standing up to pee

Much to my mom’s chagrin


The music in his teenage years

Influenced me as well

.38 Special, ELO and Billy Squier

And of course, “Highway to Hell”


He still likes his fancy cars

And watching Cardinals on TV

He likes drinking nasty Natural Light

And plates with roast turkey


I’m glad I have a brother

Who taught me to be tough

A guy who likes to share his beer

And on the outside seems quite gruff


But you see I know another side

As sentimental as can be

And I hope that turning 50

Is an awesome memory

Happy Birthday, Kevin!



Kevin and his kids around 2001. I like this picture of him because it shows him smiling.


Ahh, the Perfect Birthday Gift!

Happy Birthday to You!

I suck at birthdays. Not mine—turning another year older doesn’t bother me (too much). It’s the birthdays of my family and friends that tend to stress me out. How much of a fuss is too much? How much is too little? Yes, these are the kind of first world problems that plague my life.

This past week was my husband’s birthday. Not a milestone one or anything, but a birthday just the same. He’s a low-maintenance guy, so just coming up with gift ideas to tell people for Christmas is hard enough. It’s to the point where no one asks him anymore—they ask me instead. As his wife, I should know what he’d like, right? Yet this is one of the areas in which I fail. I live day in and day out with this man, and somehow manage to not make note as to what he could unwrap that would make him smile. Oh sure, there’s the practical ideas—like new fingernail clippers just for him because any pair we own seem to magically disappear—but who wants to unwrap THAT? Besides, as a grown man, he can pick up those practical types of things he needs whenever he wants to.

Up a notch from the ultra-practical, there are the somewhat-practical types of gifts—like clothes or shoes. Although not the favored gift for most of the ten and under crowd, clothes are something adults can appreciate it. As his spouse, I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing what sizes and styles work and which ones don’t. But he did get some clothes just last month for Christmas, and he’s wanting to lose weight, so I didn’t want to go the clothes route.

The parts/tools route—that train left a long time ago. He’s a tool-guy, but already has multiple drills, cordless screwdrivers, various saws and work benches, socket sets and the like. I couldn’t tell you what he was looking to replace or upgrade—even if I asked him, he’d say he didn’t need any more tools. They are kind of his go-to impulse buy. Some strange things that were not on his list follow him home from Lowes and Home Depot.

This year I went with the tried and true—fishing gear, but what was specifically mentioned in conversation—a soft-sided tackle box. I painstakingly sought out the perfect one. It has pockets for everything—cell phone, sunglasses and small tools. It’s a cool color scheme-red and black. It has a worm binder thing that amounts to some zippered pages. I even got it in time for his birthday. I think he liked it. He’s a hard read sometimes.

“Look at all those pockets!” I gushed.

tackle box

“Yeah, those are great,” he acknowledged. Have I mentioned he’s not very demonstrative about gifts?

In the end, my gift was graciously accepted and was a notable keeper. The kids’ presents—a BBQ lighter shaped like a double-barrel shotgun, running pants and a Nike shirt—were all appreciated appropriately.

But we were all outdone.

My sister-in-law, Katie, originally due in mid-February, gave birth to our nephew just hours before the end of Darrell’s birthday. We now have a beautiful new member of our family. He’s healthy and we’re all to the moon and back happy and excited.

How do you compete with that?

Because in the end, anything you unwrap will be cool for a while. Even the most anticipated gifts lose their luster and anything you unwrap is just that—a thing. A sweet little baby trumps a tackle box (even one with really great pockets) any day!

Welcome to the family, Callen Michael!



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