LEGOs, jigsaw puzzles, and non-digital tasks

The LEGO Parisian Cafe and other assorted sets (including Elsa’s ice palace, the Harry Potter quidditch pitch, an Incredibles brickhead, and the LEGO Dimensions gateway pad) on display in Mina’s room.

When I was in the hospital, one of the items I asked Paige to grab during an errand run was a LEGO set. Any set. It didn’t matter. The idea was focusing on a task and working to put something together and feel a sense of completion when it was all done.


She came back with a Star Wars set and I overestimated how much flat surface real estate I would have in a hospital room. I didn’t end up doing the set until I returned home but the upside was that my daughter and son helped me piece it all together.


Someone asked me why, as an adult, I was so into LEGOs. It’s therapy for me. How many projects can we undertake and then completely finish with something fun to see, hold, and touch in 2-4 hours? (Depends on the LEGO set, of course. Mina and I worked on the Parisian Cafe during nights for a couple of weeks before it was finished.)

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Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey

Image from Simon & Schuster

“Happiness does not lead to gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness.”

David Steindl-Rast, Benedictine Monk, the introduction to Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey

I am so excited to be sharing this with you all. I’ve been sitting on this book for a while, just waiting for this post to gleefully shout from the mountain tops about how wonderful it is.


Today I’m writing about the book Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey. I took this book in through audio-book form, read by the author. It’s a short audiobook (a little over 4 hours) and A.J. Jacobs’s voice is very…distinct. Please keep in mind, I wouldn’t be writing about it if I didn’t love it.


Some background. A.J. Jacobs gets his book premises from wild ideas. He’s the guy that wrote The Year of Living Biblically (which I think had to have helped inspire A Year of Biblical Womanhood by the late Rachel Held Evans) in which he tries to follow every law in the Bible for a year in order to experience something profoundly spiritual. (He focuses deeply on Old Testament law and, spoiler alert, his profound spiritual experience ends up being a 10 second out-of-body experience during a dance with his toddler daughter. Well…what can you say? Mysticism is weird.) So, now back in his daily life, over dinner he says a form of grace and says thank you for the food they are about to consume. He thanks the farmers and all of the people who worked hard to make and provide their food. His young son points out, “Dad. They can’t hear you. Why don’t you say thank you to them so they can hear it?” Boom. Book idea.

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Will video

As promised, here is the Will video. As far as sentimentality goes, this one ramps it up. To begin with, it’s a long song so there are more pictures. But overall it’s more brutal and unrelenting. 


Credit to Phosphorescent’s Beautiful Boy from his C’est La Vie album. By the way, Phosphorescent is an “Athens, GA’s-own” musician and this entire album is great; I strongly recommend it. Thank you to my church friend who introduced me to Phosphorescent while chatting over coffee sometime last year— this friend is my connection to new music and I’d be forever lost in a 90s music echo loop without him. Again, thank you to my friend who finally won the Apple versus PC debate— it only took a brain tumor for me to get over myself. Thanks also to my friend the excellent audio-visual engineer who also serves as my instant self-esteem booster whether I ask for it or not.

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Mina video

This was a project I had the idea for a while back, before the brain surgery, before the cancer diagnosis. I really wanted to make a music video featuring my kids. One for each kid that I really connected with and had a message I would want to say to them. The brain surgery and cancer diagnosis made the need for this project very urgent. I’ve been working on this since I got back from the hospital. There are two videos. One for Mina and one for Will. Next week will be Will’s.


Credit to Ben Fold’s Gracie from his Songs for Silverman album. Thank you to my friend who finally won the Apple versus PC debate after I realized iMovie was what stuff like this was made for. I bought a MacBook Pro and made these little videos. It was not difficult and I look forward to making more. Thanks also to my friend who is an excellent audio-visual engineer and helped me determine ideal timing and zooming and all of those things that a rookie like me has no clue about.

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