December 20

Christmas Vacation: Day One



We started our very first vacation since starting our radio show back in September.

Even though we only started broadcasting then, we spent most of August getting ready, and before that, we were totally swept up with the Catholic New Media Celebration and tons of other work.

In fact, we haven’t had more than 4 days off in a row in over two years, so we are SO thankful to have off the next week. Even though we’re “off the clock,” I always end up doing a lot on vacations spent at home.

If today is any indication of what the rest of our vacation will be like, then I think we’ll need a vacation from our vacation!

Honestly, though, we’re very appreciative to have a few days off before the baby shows up next month.

In the meantime, there will be “Best Of” episodes of The Catholics Next Door every day this week, and we’ll be back on the with a new show on Friday, December 26th.

So for now, below we invite you to join in on our first day of vacation. The picture to the left is a preview of what is ahead.


6:30 AM – I woke up several times last night feeling like there was something in my eye. In fact, I think I dreamed that I actually cut my eye with my fingernail, but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. When I woke up this morning, it felt like there was a grain of sand or something under my right eyelid. I’ve felt this in the past and ended up with a horrible eye infection, so I tend to get paranoid when I get woken up with eye pain…

6:45 – No one was awake yet, so I went outside, in bare feet, on December 20th. And it wasn’t bad at all. Don’t look too long at my toes or you’ll end up with nightmares yourself.

My first cup of decaf was in my trusty Flash mug. I calculated this morning that I’ve now had this mug for 18 years. And now Sam is trying to make it his. So I grabbed it first this morning.

So why am I outside? To let the dog run around in the yard. Why, you may ask, must I be there if we have a fenced in yard?

Because we live in Georgia, and if I don’t watch her, she tracks these kind of prints into the house:

7:00 AM – I head up to the studio, which is a bit of a disaster with books and such from this week’s guests, along with my random water bottles, hot water pitcher, cough drops, etc.

7:05 – I debate whether to flip the switch on an updated theme on this website. As you may be able to tell, I went ahead and did it, and I still have a lot of tweaking to do.

7:10 – As I suspected, within minutes of launching a big project, the first kid woke up. Ben is always very snuggly when he gets up before his brothers.

7:30 – That didn’t last long. All the boys except for Walt were now in the kitchen and I fed the younger two while Sam (who walked in wearing an Uncle Sam hat and declared, “I want YOU to turn on the TV) went about making his own breakfast.

9:10 – Jennifer woke up around 8:30 and I told her about my eye and that I was going to go to a doctor’s office that’s open on Saturday to have it looked at. I really don’t need an infection just as we’re starting vacation. The picture below was taken just after the physician assistant put drops in my eye to numb it, then added yellow drops to my eye, and then stuck a piece of paper up under the eyelid to check for infections.

No infections were found, but now I was seeing like this:

10:10 – After leaving the doctor’s office with no conclusive diagnosis for why my eye felt weird, I stopped by the post office and picked up Rosary Army mail.

10:30 – I was unable to fight the temptation and drove over to Kaiteur Coffehouse to see our buddy Moose (he owns the place) and get a real cup of half caff latte.

11:30 – I then headed home where Jennifer was getting the boys ready for us to head out for our first Christmas break field trip.

11:40 – But first, I put Visine in my eyes, hoping that would help.

12:00 – We then rushed to the local movie theater to take the boys to see “The Tale of Despereaux.” Very nice flick and everyone enjoyed it.

2:00 PM – Walter had a bit of a confrontation with Desperaux in the lobby after the movie.

3:00 PM – At home I decided to get the tractor out of the shed and get the fallen leaves out of the front yard. Yes, that’s right, it’s December 20 and Tommy is wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and it actually quite comfortable outside.

3:05 – It didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t ready for this job, as there were many more leaves than I expected and I didn’t have an adequate place to dump the leaves.

3:30 – So I stopped what I was doing and bolted up to Lowe’s to pick up some recyclable bags for the leaves, as well as the huge pile of grass clippings I collected over the summer.

3:45 – Once home, I put Sam and Walt to work bagging up leaves and grass clippings. I think they rather enjoyed it. Shortly after this, it started to rain and I was unable to get the rest of the leaves picked up. Instead, I opted to finally prune some of the unruly branches from the two trees in our front yard.

4:30 – After pruning, I realized I was running out of time to dump the leaves and branches at the recycle center, so I bolted to my in-laws house to get my father-in-law’s truck. Sam and I then filled the truck with tons of branches, as well as 4 30-gallon bags of clippings and leaves, and rushed to the recycle center.

Sam enjoyed riding in the front seat of the truck.

A way blurry picture from the recycle center, but what you’re supposed to see here are ridiculously huge piles of grass clippings, leaves, and other recyclable stuff. Bet you wish I’d been holding the camera still, huh?

4:50 – Since the center was about to close, I was in a big rush to empty the truck of all the branches, and ended up with a nice collection of scratches all over my arms.

5:10 – Because Sam was such a help, we stopped by Kaiteur (twice in one day!) and split a Moose Special frozen smoothie.

6:00 PM – Once home again, it was time for a shave and a trim. Yes, I actually have to trim my hair. Here’s the before:

6:10 PM – And here’s the after. Not much difference, but it feels so much better.

6:30 – After a quick shower I laid on the bed for just a few minutes while Jennifer and Walt played a game on Jennifer’s phone.

6:40 – Then we decided to fit in our Advent prayers before dinner.

Walt got to hang an ornament tonight.

The Jesse Tree is looking quite full.

Beer o’Clock – Dinner still needed a few minutes so I grabbed a much deserved beer and watched the kids play a game. This lasted for about two minutes. Tops.

7:05 – The food was almost ready. Awesome dinner ahead. Beer can chicken, fried asparagus, and corn pudding. Oh my.

I needed to carve the chicken, but it was also past time for Ben’s breathing treatment. He was diagnosed with walking pneumonia earlier this week. He’s doing MUCH better now, but still has to have breathing treatments several times a day.

Then the carving began.

Followed by the eating. Again…oh my. So good.

8:00 – After cleaning the kitchen, I sat down again and started updating some software I’d installed on our Apple TV. I have no idea why I chose to do it at that moment, but it just seemed like the thing to do.

9:00 PM – With the kids finally in bed, Jennifer and I set out to wrap the last of the Christmas presents.

9:30 – I went out to check on the chicken soup I’d started a couple hours before using the chicken bones from dinner. I was skeptical this would work.

But after getting all the meat off the bones and adding some veggies, it was looking quite good!

9:45 – Jennifer, meanwhile, finished wrapping the rest of the presents. I then kicked her out of the room so I could wrap hers. Once done, she kicked me out.

10:00 – In the living room, I was surprised to see Jennifer had cut some extra pine branches we had and put them on our mantle.

I grabbed another much-deserved beverage from the fridge…

10:54 – And now here I am, almost 16 hours later, right back where I started the day. And my eye is still bugging me.

About the author 


Greg is married to Jennifer. They've got five kids.

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  • Greg, wow, I’m tired just reading all of this. That eye thing happens to me sometimes, usually after I’ve been working very hard at the computer for a few days in a row. It will hurt like crazy with that scraping feeling for a few days and you can’t see anything in it. Then after about three days, I get a huge red “blotch” – I think it’s a broken blood vessel. Maybe that’s what is happening. Once the “blotch” appears, the hurting stops. I don’t have any medical suggestions for you, but one thing that helps me is taking a wet washcloth, warming it in the microwave and then holding it on my eye.
    Hope you get some relief soon! Thanks for sharing your day!

  • Wow, now that’s a full day blog.
    A day in the life of Greg.

    My replies all seem to fit in 140 chars now.

    God bless your awesome family!

  • Hi Greg –

    What a full day you had!
    Hope you and Jennifer have a Merry Christmas!
    We bought presents mostly for our son Alexander.
    As I get older, I discovered it’s more fun to buy him presents than think of any I want.
    Although I am getting a manicure tomorrow as a present. 🙂
    And I bought myself a membership to a local gym and Richard Simmons’ “clubhouse” online, so I gave the gift of health to me as I need to lose weight so I can have a healthy future pregnancy!

    God bless,

  • 1.) How is Jennifer still so beautiful as pregnant as she is? I *love* her shirt and hair. She looks so pretty in these pictures!! And I don’t think you can say it’s the angle you took the pictures at : )

    2.) Here in Troy, NY the city supplies those brown lawn bags. Apparently, it’s some kind of secret that was printed in the newspapers — but if you don’t read the newspaper you won’t know. You should check out if your city does that — could save you some $$$.

    I still can’t get over how beautiful Jennifer looks!!
    I like your facial hair as well, Greg … not to leave you out in all the compliments ; )


  • Greg,
    do you have a camera grafted to your head? it seems that you are taking picture at the drop of a hat!
    Great to see that we are not the only ones having a full life. By the way is this the corn pudding you guys discussed for Thanksgiving? that looks great.
    have a merry Christmas

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