McKee Christmas Activities

Posted on: 12/28/07 12:51 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Christmas was very memorable this year. Every Christmas our family (me, Lori and the kids) get together with my parents, my Grandma McKee, and my brother’s family. We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. These days are usually filled with just a few activities, mostly meals (Christmas Eve at my parents, Christmas Day at our house- only half a mile from theirs). This year we decided to each choose an activity to do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. My brother’s family couldn’t connect until later, so it was just our family and my parents that chose activities (Grandma just wanted to watch).
Each person was to choose one simple activity. No rules… nothing extravagant… here’s what everyone chose to do:
My Dad: He wanted us all to watch the movie The Nativity together. After attending a Christmas Eve service where he preached, we all went home for dinner and then watched the movie. It was a great glimpse of the perspective of Mary and Joseph through this pivotal yet humble historic event.
My Mom: She wanted to go on a family walk. Our little town is uniquely funny. It’s a little “redneck” burb about 15 miles East of Sacramento. On many a street you’ll find a little house that looks like a shack with chickens walking around the yard. On the same street you’ll find a million dollar home (ours is neither- I might add). On one of the streets we walked up we passed several of these “shacks” and then walked through a new neighborhood being built including a home for 1.9 million. Not too shabby. My dog Jethro was enjoying running all over their property (2.4 acres is a large property in my world).
Me: I wanted to do some sort of service project or feeding the homeless. So we came up with our own solution. Everyone donated toward McDonald’s gift certificates (because we didn’t want to give away cash). We purchased a pile of $5 gift certificates and went to the downtown to give them away. We walked up the K-street Mall (an open air mall downtown that is usually populated with quite a few homeless people) and gave a way a bunch of them. Then we hit a nearby park by the capital and gave away some more. One guy offered us a sip of his “40” to “warm up.” It was a fun experience.
Lori: She purchased two gingerbread houses and we had a contest, guys against girls- who could design the best house. Both teams grew quickly frustrated with the frosting- not a great adhesive. But we both constructed cute homes that were judged by my Grandma as an even “tie.” In all honesty, the girl’s house was better, but our yard kicked butt!
Alec: Being the artist that he is, he wanted to do a Santa Drawing contest. My dad had two easels from his training workshops, so we set them up side by side and drew two at a time. Ashley and Alyssa battled. Lori and Grandma McKee battled. My mom and dad battled and finally, Alec and I battled. Alec and I each took too long (I know this because everyone was yelling, “Hurry up! That’s enough!!!”) And despite the time spent, I think little Alyssa beat us all.
Alyssa: She wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange. We all drew numbers and then began opening $5 presents we had each purchased for the activity. Alec had the last number, therefore receiving the pick of the litter. It was a fun game and almost everyone ended up with what they wanted. My dad and mom ended up giving their prizes into the kids stockings later on in the night.
Ashley: Ashley also wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange, but when she lost out on that to Alyssa, she chose for us all to do a puzzle. We did a 500 piece puzzle with a bunch of breeds of dogs. It was really fun, but it was one of the last activities of the evenings so we were pretty tired during the last few paws and tails.
That’s it. What a great time of celebrating God’s greatest gift to us, celebrating giving, and celebrating family.

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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.


-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.
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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