Thursday, December 4, 2008

Speaking of Christmas lights ...

If you live in the Dallas area, there is a pretty amazing display at the home of Jeff Trykoski in Frisco. Jeff is a very nice guy who also does the incredible computer-synchronized display at Frisco Square.

You can find out where to see Jeff’s house at Trykoski Christmas. If you go, you can also bring canned food to donate to the Frisco Food Bank and Frisco Family Services Center. The family collects it in front of the house.

Last year, I visited Jeff and put together a video on the setup of the display and its opening night. Here’s the link to Humor Me video: Amazing Christmas Lights.

Control Christmas lights on the Web

Christmas lights have come a long way since the days of “one bulb burns out, they all burn out.”

You can see how far displays have come by visiting, a Web site created by Alek Komarnitsky of Lafayette, Colo. Visitors can control the lights on the house and the inflatable decorations in his front yard and watch it on Web cams. The Web site is free, but he’s also raising money for a good cause: research for Celiac Disease. More information is on the Web site.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Humor Me: Holiday brag letter


Happy holidays, everyone, and welcome to the annual Wixon holiday letter.

The holiday season can be pretty hectic, but it’s nice to get this chance to reconnect with friends and family. I certainly think it’s worth taking a few minutes, especially during this joyous time of year, to pass along warm wishes while weaving in preposterous lies about my family to make you insanely jealous.

Hey, isn’t that what a holiday letter is supposed to be? You know, a brag letter?

That seems to be the goal of many of the letters I receive each year, which are loaded with words in ALL-CAPITALS and more exclamation points than a text message from BFFs. (Like, you know, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!). Here’s the kind of thing you’ll find in brag letters:

Our 5-year-old continues to show UNBELIEVABLE ability in math, science, music and sports! Also, some of his paintings have been called GENIUS, so we’re not sure if he’ll be an INCREDIBLE artist, or a pro athlete, or a WORLD-FAMOUS musician who cures cancer!!!

Well, my letter won’t be like all those letters that are tucked inside Christmas cards and stuffed with lies. I vow to spread holiday cheer by telling the truth about 2008, and I hope the Wixon letter makes you feel better about your year.

It started with the blessed arrival of our third son, Nathan Wixon. He’s now 10 months old. Nathan might be a genius, but for now, he stays busy launching himself off the changing table and spitting up on every one of my shirts. He’s also crawling now, which allows him to zip across the living room and try to chew on the coffee table. Yes, he likes to gnaw on wood. It’s like having a baby and a puppy at the same time, except he won’t chase balls. Also, Nathan has declared his feet a “sock free zone” by pulling them off seconds after we put them on. If you see a tiny white sock blowing through a parking lot at a grocery store or the YMCA, it’s probably Nathan’s.

Cooper is now 3 years old and full of energy and an adventurous spirit that leads to lots of fun and falling backwards off the couch in frightening ways. He also dresses himself and defies the law of averages by putting on his pants backwards 75 percent of the time.

Cooper also knows most of the alphabet, his numbers from 1 to 20 and how to blame inanimate objects for harming him. One time, he was crying on the floor by the kitchen table and when I asked him what happened, he said “the chair pushed me off.” He has also blamed the dirt for getting on him and blamed Maggie, our dog, after he’s fallen down. He also claimed once that Nathan pushed him, which is a pretty amazing feat for a baby reclined in a bouncy chair. (Maybe Cooper was trying to put socks on him. I don’t know).

Cooper also became potty trained this year, which was a big achievement for him. It didn’t start out well, however, when I received this e-mail from my wife early in the year:

For the sake of my sanity and the safety of your child, we are not potty training for a month. I've put everything pertaining to potty training away. There will be no talk of potty training for a month. Hopefully in a month he will be ready to try again. I don't think he is ready and it is turning into a power struggle. So if he tells you how he pooped and peed in his underwear and then 30 minutes later peed while hiding in the shower curtain, just try to change the subject.

OK, now on to Ryan, who is 6 years old. I can’t believe how fast he’s growing up. He really is very, very smart. Too smart, probably, because he’s figuring lots of things out, including how I’m not that smart. Certainly not as smart as Wall-e, the movie character who has become a yearlong obsession. Ryan also started kindergarten this year, and has really enjoyed it since the first day, when he was placed on the wrong bus and didn’t show up at the bus stop where his mom was waiting. Fortunately, the mix-up was corrected and Ryan made it home before an Amber Alert was issued.

Ryan is a very deep thinker, and he likes to try new things. One day, he wanted to try coconut milk. Why? Who knows? But after drinking some, he gave me this assessment: “It tastes like a flagpole.”

“Have you ever tasted a flagpole?” I asked.

Ryan said no. So then how do you know what a flagpole tastes like?

It just tastes like a flagpole, Ryan said.

Good enough.

Ryan also played on his first basketball team this season. Anyone watching him play for just a few minutes would notice two things:

1. He seems to enjoy playing.

2. He seems to be under the influence of cold medicine that includes the warning, “May cause extreme drowsiness, do not take while operating heavy machinery.”

Yes, Ryan’s focus wasn’t so good on the court. He followed behind the action, occasionally glancing at the scoreboard, mesmerized by the big glowing numbers. Then he would look down at the lines on the court and check out the wristband he was wearing. Sometimes it was like Ryan was part of a video trick that made everything around him move in fast motion while he stayed in slow.

But he had fun.

This is getting long, so I can’t really get into the details of other exciting moments including my wife breaking her wrist, Maggie chewing up -- and throwing up -- various plastic objects and how Cooper tells people that “Daddy’s hair is broken and he needs new hair.”

But overall, it was a very good year. I feel very blessed to have a great wife, three great kids, my health, a job and a car that reliably runs with a brake light that won’t turn off.

That’s it for my letter. Now I’ll just wait for the holiday letters to start arriving in my mailbox so I can read about everyone’s exceptional year. If you’d like to send me yours, feel free. I love good fiction.

Please note, however, that my policy is to stop whenever I see any of these phrases:

“He is a genius.”

“Simply phenomenal.”

“My new BMW with the three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel.”

To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail Have a great week.