Mall of America

Posted on: 12/29/07 8:33 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow! I never realized how big this thing actually was.

I’m in Minneapolis, MN right now speaking at a youth conferance about a block from the largest mall in America. you probably have heard of it- it’s called the Mall of America. I had heard that it was big… but DANG!

I was trying to explain it to my wife. I told her, “You know Sunrise Mall back at home? Take three of those and stack them on top of each other. Now take four of those ‘three story’ stacks and make them a square with a huge arena in the middle. Now fill the arena with an amusement park. There you have it!”

I called home from the mall and Ashley wanted to talk to me. I began describing the mall to her (not omitting any details about the amusement park)… and she began wimpering. LOL.

It’s amazing. I walked around for a few hours and didn’t even scratch the surface. They had my wife’s favorite clothes store New York and Company so I had to browse through there and check the sale racks (I’m a bargain shopper). Great stuff on the $5.99 racks! Plus, no tax on clothes here. Not bad.

But seeing those stores just made me miss her, so I had to bail.

I actually ended up in the movie theatre watching the newest Coen brothers  flick (they are directors), No Country for Old Men, with Tommy Lee Jones. (Good film, but so bizarre that it treaded on the obsurcity- I think I just made up that word- of David Lynch)

Such was my experience at The Mall of America.

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Ashley missing polical correctness

Posted on: 12/19/07 6:46 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I just wrote about Ashley… but as you might know (especially those of you who have read about her on my bio page), she is a continual source of laughter.

Ashley has to write a daily journal for her 5th grade class. Lori and I love reading this diary of a 10 year old. It’s hilarious enough to hear the perspective of the world through the eyes of a 10 year old, it’s even funnier when it’s Ashley.

Today Ashley’s assignment was to talk about her family traditions (each day she is given a journal prompt assigning something for her to write about) for “the holidays.” Yes, not Christmas, but the holidays. Gotta be P.C. today. So this “prompt” asked her what she does for Christmas or Hanauka and asks her to provide details.

So Ashley brings me her first draft.

I say “first draft” because, even though Ashley would love for these entries to be just one draft, she has an author for a father who often makes her rewrite her entry (thank goodness her teacher requires a parent signature on the journal entry each night). This rewrite is often necessitated not by gramatical errors or sentence structure, but by the fact that she doesn’t hesitate to talk about the dog’s bowel movements, or other inappropriate subject matter. Then she’ll randomly throw in the word “CHEESE!” because she loves to tell people that she loves cheese. (Yes, in her speech to campaign for vice president at her school this year, her opening line was, “Hi, I’m Ashley and I like cheese!) Again… this is Ashley we’re talking about here… not your normal 10 year old.

So today she brings me her “holiday traditions” journal. Draft 1 reads fine (although I laughed at her description of where we get our tree) until the last few lines. After telling us about her traditions and opening presents she simply writes:

Oh, and I’m not Jewish, so we DON’T celebrate Hanauka. We celebrate Christmas!!! (emphasis Ashley’s)

So I bring Ashley in and tell her, “Ashley, it’s okay that you celebrate Christmas, but you kind of make it sound like it’s a bad thing to be Jewish or to celebrate Hanauka. Maybe you should rewrite this last section.

So Ashley takes her journal and rewrites the ending. I leave you with her complete journal entry.

Every year during Christmas time, my family decorates the tree together. I’m always very happy whenever that happens. First we grab our tree out of it’s box. Then we put it together. And finally my dad plays christmas music and we decorate our tree together.

Another Christmas tradition that I do every year is go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas Eve. But then on Christmas day we stay and celebrate at my house. Sadly, I’m not Jewish, so I don’t celebrate Hanauka. So these are all of my Christmas celebrations.

Cheese!

-Ashley McKee

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Ashley’s Christmas List in One Word

Posted on: 12/17/07 5:29 PM | by Jonathan McKee

  
Ashley (my 10 year old) and I were hanging out today and she let me know about some of the items on her Christmas list… and they all have one thing in common: WEBKINS.
 
If you’re not a parent of young child right now, you might not be aware of these real cyber pets. Yes… they’re real. They are actual stuffed animals that you can snuggle with each night. And yes… they’re cyber. You can register them on the Webkins site and enter an “exciting online experience where your plush pet comes to life!” 
  
It’s brilliant marketing actually. When your kid brings home your Webkins toy, they log onto the site and enter the “secret code” that comes with the pet. They officially “adopt” the pet, naming them and deciding whether it’s a boy or girl. They then instantly receive “Kins cash” where they can decorate their “virtual room,” redecorate, buy clothes, etc.
  
Here’s the clever part. They keep kids coming to the site by providing “meters” that tell you how your pet is doing. There are three meters: happy, health and hunger. Playing and exercising your pet keeps these meters high. How do you do this? Online of course.
 
Sigh.
  
So yes, we as parents have to watch and limit our kids’ internet time so that our kids get some time ACTUALLY exercising outside (yeah, really outside… breathing real air!) instead of just “virtually” excercizing.
  
Ashley is our little dog lover, so lucky for us, she likes to take her real dog (Jethro) and play soccer with him in the back yard each day. He’s huge. He can grip a fully inflate soccer ball in his mouth (hilarious to watch!).
  
So, since she seems to be balancing the Webkins fad responsibly, I might just have to consider the new Webkins Penguin or German Shepherd for Ashley this year.  🙂

My Favorite Cousin

Posted on: 12/14/07 7:12 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wendy is my favorite cousin.

No insult to my other cousins, I love you all too. But Wendy (some of you might remember her story here) just overnighted me the key to my heart: Giordano’s Pizza from Chicago. Truly my favorite pizza… no… my favorite MEAL worldwide.

Yep. I’m a simple man. And Giordano’s stuffed crust pizza is about as good as it gets. Whenever I speak anywhere within two hours of Chicago, you can bet that I’ll be stopping at a Giordano’s and ordering a Giordano’s stuffed crust pizza. Last time I was there I ordered one with pepperoni and mushrooms. (Oh man… I can almost taste it just talking about it)

Well, my cool cousin from Ohio just sent me my Christmas present. Giordano’s can be overnighted anywhere in the U.S. (not cheap, let me tell you). She sent a Giordanos stuffed crust cheese pizza (an excellent choice since I’ll be sharing with the family). Of course, I’m just assuming it was Wendy. It didn’t even have a name on it. But this is something Wendy would do. I left her a voice mail… it had to be her.

We’re going to be eating very WELL today!

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Playing Redneck

Posted on: 11/30/07 8:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Thanksgiving was definitely one of the highlights of my year… for one reason: family.
 
When I look at my family I can’t thank God enough. Not only has He given me a smokin’ hot wife and three kids that are FAR better than I was when I was their age… but he also has given me an incredible extended family that love and follow Him.
 
Every year for Thanksgiving we go up to my cousin’s 900 acre ranch in Northern California . It’s two hours from the nearest city (30 minutes from a tiny grocery store) and it’s surrounded by God’s country. This year we had over 30 people there for Thanksgiving. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people that got along! Lets be honest. For many of us, family means DRAMA! At this ranch, very little drama. Just a bunch of fun loving people who love God, listen to country music… and like to ride horses.
 
When we weren’t stuffing our faces, we were all out riding quads with our cousins and nephews twice removed (not exactly sure how that works), or shooting skeet. Picture this: about 7 or 8 of us all in one line, one at a time yelling “pull” and then shooting that little plastic Frisbee that shoots in the air. Fun stuff.
 
Alec (my 14 year old) was shooting pretty good. Ashley (my 10 year old), bless her heart, really wanted to give it a try. So she tried a 20 gage and it still bruised her arm pretty bad. Alyssa (my 12 year old) doesn’t want to touch guns. Fine with me. So she stayed back in the cookhouse and played with 4 little cousins.
 
When all was over we headed back to my brother’s (25 minutes from the ranch, a little closer to the small town, population 368) and just chilled. We watched his little “almost 2-year-old” jam around the floor saying the word “basketball” (his favorite word) every 10 seconds. Cute kid. Smart as a whip. But we have no idea why he is so obsessed with the word “basketball!”
 
About 10:00 we hit the rack every night.
 
Beautiful country. Great time.
 
I can’t thank God enough for family.

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