faith | fun | culture | family | politics | music

Turns out my daughter is more important than the internet.

I know, right? Can we say “high maintenance”? Jeez louis.

Yep, my blogging consistency has plummeted recently, but hopefully you guys will cut me slack on account of being a new dad and all. I have priorities now, folks!

I imagine posting frequency will stay pretty scarce, but blogging is still on my radar. I’ve actually been thinking of a few blog changes I’d like to make:

I’d like to do more topic-specific posts — stuff that requires me to do some research (dare I say soul-searching?) as opposed to just rattling off my opinions. I feel pretty good about the topical posts I’ve done before, but I think there’s room for me to kick it up a notch in this area.

I’d also like to focus a little more on quality in general. Even in the just-for-fun-type posts, I want to put my best writing out there. I like blogging as a creative output, and I don’t want to half-ass it. If you’re going to do something, might as well do it well, right?

So here’s committing to cranking out some decent posts at least every couple weeks or so. Stay tuned!


Filed under: Blogging, Family



n: patronage bestowed or favoritism shown on the basis of family relationship, as in business and politics

In that spirit, I’d like to promote the other Ackermann blogs that have recently materialized…

Abby Recently: My sister, the adventurous international traveler, is studying abroad in Leeds, England this semester. She started a blog to recount her experiences and all things European.

Vinny’s World: My dad just retired and is taking himself, my mom, and a beat up old Honda on a cross-country road trip. Myriad Bob Dylan quotes and probably some sarcastic commentary are sure to abound.

Go Ackermanns!

Filed under: Blogging, Family

Slice of life: October, November, December

When I started the “slice of life” thing in September, my plan was to make it a periodically recurring motif, something to force me to blog at least once a month about what the normal day-to-day has been serving up. But it’s now clear that even that was too lofty a goal for me, as the 48-day hiatus since my last blog entry will attest.

Sorry, folks. I could probably come up with some B.S. excuse about how I haven’t had time to blog on account of how busy we’ve been, blah, blah, whine, whine, etc. But when you think about it, the craziness of everyday life should be a reason to blog, not an excuse not to, right? So in that vein, I give you not one, not two, but three months’ worth of “slices of life”. Instead of breaking it down month by month, I’m just going to make it one big, gluttonous “slice”, so to speak. Imagine the year 2009 is one large apple pie, and you’re about to inhale an entire quarter of that thing in one sitting. Are you ready for this?


Our house is feeling more like home every day. We ditched the mealtime practice of cramming our six bodies around our tiny kitchen table, in favor of a nice big 10-seater with sleeve extensions from Ikea. It’s long and narrow, so sitting at the head seat makes me feel kind of like a family patriarch about to pray the blessing over Thanksgiving dinner, and Drea and Tom and Renata and Hayden and Jack are all my grandkids. Come children, let’s join hands…

Renata’s dad Charlie has generously agreed to help us convert half our garage into a bedroom for Jolie. The work is still in progress, but we’ve managed to install a door, wall, and most of the floor so far. It’s fun seeing her little room come together, and Drea is especially anxious to start the “nesting” process (which, I’m sorry to report, will include a light pink shade on one or more of the walls. I tried, people.)


We’ve spent quite a bit of time on the road recently, which I of course am quite keen on. Drea and I embarked on a “babymoon” to Florida — a last hurrah of sorts before the little whippersnapper’s grand arrival. We had a fantastic (albeit uncharacteristically ad-libbed) time celebrating the end of life as we know it! You can get the whole scoop here on our family blog.

Over Thanksgiving, my whole family piled into my aunt’s 8-passenger van and headed up to the Poconos for a long weekend of goofing off, playing games and hanging around northeast PA, including Scranton! (Fans of The Office might be interested to know that there is a real Steamtown Mall in Scranton, although it’s incredibly lame except for an out-of-this-world crêpe stand in the food court.) We toured a coal mine (more entertaining than it sounds) and spent some time in the charming town of Jim Thorpe.

Drea and I are excited to take yet another mini-getaway (I’m addicted to these things!) this weekend to New York to see the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City. It was supposed to be my surprise Christmas gift to her, but I blew it! She asked me to give her a hint that she wouldn’t be able to figure out, but that would temporarily satiate her curiosity. The hint I gave her was “R.C.M.H.” and she guessed “Radio City Music Hall” immediately. We both kicked ourselves and sulked for a little bit, but we soon got over it. However, after underestimating both Drea’s clue-decoding talent and my own overwhelming stupidity for giving her such an easy clue, we both vowed to keep all future surprises for each other under stealth secrecy, no exceptions. 🙂


Holiday music-wise, I’ve been enjoying Sufjan Stevens’ Songs for Christmas this year. Recorded over the course of five Christmases as five separate EPs and now available as a box set, it’s full of innovative, folksy takes on both well-known and obscure Christmas carols, as well as some colorful original tracks, including “What Child Is This, Anyway?”, “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!”, “Did I Make You Cry on Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)”, and “Get Behind Me, Santa!”.

I also feel compelled to mention that Bob Dylan released a Christmas album this year. I’m a big Dylan fan, but am quite unsure how to feel about this. I haven’t heard the album (besides the samples on Amazon), but something tells me Christmas music might not be his forte. And that something is Washington Post staff writer Chris Richards, who offers this observation in his review: “[Dylan’s version of] ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ sounds like a reason to bolt the doors…As ever, chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost is nipping at your nose — but this time, the man behind the microphone sounds as if he’s trying to dislodge a piece of tinsel from his throat.” My curiosity is piqued, to say the least.

Christmas at the AckerJanes is fun this year — devouring gargantuan waffle breakfasts on the weekends, watching Elf, making fun of Renata’s affinity for the Hanson Christmas album, and pooling both families’ Christmas ornaments together on one tree. As I type, Drea is stuffing our Christmas cards into envelopes as Sara Groves sings “Gloria in excelsis Deo” in the background. It’s a good moment, and “Glory to God in the highest” seems a fitting expression of gratitude — for the friends and family we send cards to, for the little Ackermann kicking away, for peace and good will to men.

Merry Christmas to all!

Filed under: Blogging, Family, Funny, Music, Slice of life, Travel

I’m back, suckas!

First things first: my bad. It’s been almost three weeks since I last posted. I know nobody’s suffering from my unintentional blogging hiatus, but I try to post something at least once or twice a week for my own sake, to keep the old brain working. I feel like a big collective “you suck” from the blogosphere is warranted.

But enough about how much I suck; let’s talk about how the past few days have un-sucked. There’s something about a three-day weekend that makes you feel like you haven’t worked in months. It’s freaking great. This was one such weekend. We were planning to meet up with Tom and Renata in old town Annapolis on Friday, but we all decided it would be too crowded, so we fooled around at the Annapolis Mall, seeing how far we could launch Hayden and Jack down the concourse in their strollers. (This was right before the mall closed and there weren’t many people around.)

As we strolled through the children’s section at Borders, we came across this book about the Obamas’ new dog. It was released April 23, nine days after Bo arrived at the White House. Among other things, it (fictitiously) recounts little Bo stealing the President’s letter-opener and being there for Michelle Obama’s organic garden opening. This crap happened like, yesterday! Then again, I guess it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to write a children’s book (as Strong Bad would attest).

On Saturday, Drea and I ventured down to National Harbor and enjoyed walking the waterfront shops and sitting on the docks. It’s a huge place — condos, retail, hotel and convention center, and apparently a Disney resort and children’s museum coming soon. We ate Potbelly subs for lunch (so good) and checked out the American Market. It’s a charming place to walk around, and we want to come back with a few friends and take the water taxi over to Alexandria.

I played a wedding Saturday afternoon before we headed to my parents’ house to hang out with my uncle and cousin who were visiting from Houston. A fabulous barbeque dinner was followed up by our family’s new favorite game of “loaded questions”, where everyone in the group writes their answers to a certain question and one person has to guess who gave the answers. It gets pretty fun.

We went to church on Sunday and afterwards headed to Jason and Shannon’s to swim in the pool and eat Jason’s dual masterpieces — salsa and Texas style barbeque. A few of us ended up staying late, talking with Jason and Shannon around their kitchen table until after midnight. It was one of those luminous moments that reminds you how real everything is. Life is real, struggles are real, God’s redemption is real. Our friends are freaking awesome.

Late last week, I decided on a whim to reread Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I read it about six years ago when it first came out, and it definitely encouraged/convicted me in different ways the second time through; I guess life has changed a bit since 2003. I think Don’s words are incredibly beautiful and true, and I’m immensely looking forward to his new book due out in the fall.

So yeah, it’s been a good weekend. Hope yours was likewise. More to come soon!

Filed under: Blogging, Books, Faith, Slice of life, , ,

Snow, the dentist, and awkwardness

So…it snowed. A lot. Like 10 inches. That may not sound like much to some people, but for our neck of the woods, 10 inches is a veritable butt-load. In any case, we had a great lazy three-day weekend thanks to the storm, which included watching an unreasonable number of movies: The Dark Knight, W., Transsiberian, and Wall-E. (All fantastic.) For our snow day yesterday, Drea and I bundled up and headed to Jason and Shannon’s for some sledding and/or getting dragged on a sled behind a four-wheeler (awesome). Life group was cancelled on Sunday because of the weather, and Tom, Renata, Drea and I used the free time to wish Lammy a happy birthday. Such creative geniuses we are.

Today it’s back to reality. I had a dentist appointment this morning. (Suckfest.) Am I the only person who feels weird not being able to talk with the hygienist while she cleans your teeth? She’s politely engaging you in conversation, but the various foreign jagged objects in your mouth limit your responses to ones that require no movement of the lips or tongue, like “ah”, “eh”, or the more advanced “uh-huh”. Such meaningful conversations we have. But I can’t complain. My teeth feel clean as a whistle, aside from that subtle lingering taste of latex gloves.

Confession: I never really know how to end blog posts. When it comes time to wrap things up, my mind simply blanks. I seldom can come up with a good concluding sentence. It always feels anticlimactic, kind of like when you’re getting ready to part ways with someone and you say goodbye, only to realize you’re actually headed the same direction. Then there’s that awkward few seconds where you silently walk together, followed by the real goodbye which is invariably abundant with awkwardness.

So um, I guess I’ll, uh, see ya later.

Filed under: Blogging, Movies, Slice of life, , ,


Hey everyone! Just wanted to take a minute to welcome you to my blog, and to thank you for dropping by. This is where I’ll be sharing my day-to-day (or, perhaps more realistically, week-to-week) with any and all in the blogosphere who want to read. I can’t promise it will always be interesting, but I love writing, so thanks in advance for obliging! Be entertained, be encouraged, just…be. Ah, so deep.

Filed under: Blogging