I’ll Have Another

I never imagined being a father growing up. In my teenage, college, or early young adult years, I could never picture myself being a dad. Even having Olivia, it took years before I owned fatherhood. Losing my dad young in life was a part of it, but simply I never pictured myself with kids.

Things change.

Olivia and Catalina were born. I quit working to focus on being a stay-at-home dad. Teresa was born. I went back to work outside the family. Ana and Dorothy were born.

Fatherhood ain’t a bad gig. After five kids, fatherhood is part of my core identity. So, why stop there?

After a little hiatus that was long enough to sneak in a family trip to Disney World, Vanessa and I are back in the baby business. We’re happy to announce that the newest member of the Kraft team is expected to arrive in late November. 🤰

Yes. Another one.

Yes, newest member. Singular. The doctor looked. There’s only one kiddo in there this time. Bases checked.

With the first three, we waited until birth to learn if we were having a boy or a girl. With the twins, there were so many unknowns and we needed so many ultrasounds, we figured we should find out and save some poor tech accidentally saying something.

For this time around, we have two bedrooms for the girls and a boy would, well, require some decent reorganizing of our home sooner rather than later. We wanted to know how much chaos to expect in the near term!

Yup, another girl.

We appreciate all of your prayers in advance! The little one is due the same week as Vanessa’s birthday and the twins’ fourth birthday.


Genesis eNews Extended 2.1 Released

Genesis eNews Extended 2.1 is now available on WordPress.org. It has been a couple of years since a new version has been released—frankly, the plugin just works and it hasn’t needed much work.

Please note this version requires WordPress 4.9.6 and will not be offered unless you’re running WordPress 4.9.6+.

The European Union is preparing to implement this week their new data protection law, GDPR, which impacts Genesis eNews Extended and WordPress. If you have WordPress 4.9.6, released last week, you can setup a privacy policy page which Genesis eNews Extended will provide a link to under the subscription form, if you choose.

The feature respects the WordPress setting for the privacy page, as well as the various hooks implemented as part of the new feature for both the text of the link and the link itself. If any themes or plugins filters these value, the widget will use the same values to help site administrators set once and forget.

On a related note, I’ve fielded a few questions about how to add a checkbox to the widget for GDPR compliance. From my best understanding, this is not required. A subscription form that is exclusively for an e-mail subscription does not require a checkbox to confirm the visitor intent, since the action they are doing is the one and the same. If a form exists for any other purpose, then there does need to be a checkbox to confirm the visitor intent to also subscribe to a list.

Because of this, I am not adding an option to add a subscription confirmation checkbox to Genesis eNews Extended. It is meant to be a very simple plugin exclusively for newsletter subscriptions and while site owners are free to use it for other purposes, I’m only building and supporting the intended use as a mailing list subscription form “wrapper” that allow Genesis theme styles to have an easy time theming a “standard” subscription form.

Update: 2.1.1 was also released to fix a small issue with a bit of extra code displaying on the front end.

WordPress Drop-In Plugins?

You know all about WordPress plugins and may have heard of Must-Use plugins, but what about “Drop-Ins”?

In WordPress, there are three types of plugins:

  • Regular plugins – in /wp-content/plugins/ and can (generally) be activated/deactivated/updated via wp-admin’s UI.
  • Must-Use plugins – in /wp-content/mu-plugins/. Only PHP files in the mu-plugins directory itself are detected and they are always loaded—you “must use” them. You can’t deactivate them or update them via UI. You must delete or move the file to deactivate and must manually update via FTP or some other out-of-WordPress method.
  • Drop-Ins plugins – in the wp-content but only specific file names. They replace/augment very specific functionality within WordPress.
File name
Caching functionality
When WP_CACHE is set true.
Replaces WP’s default database handling.
Custom DB error message.
Completely replaces the error page that usually says Error establishing a database connection.
Database Error
Custom install scripts. Allows someone to override wp_install() or any other function in wp-admin/includes/upgrade.php
WordPress installation
Custom maintenance message. Completely replaces the Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute. error page.
During plugin/theme/etc updates.
Functionality specifically for an object cache.
Very early loading functions before multisite starts to load.
When SUNRISE is true. Multisite only.
Custom error message when loading a deleted subsite.
Attempting to access a deleted subsite. Multisite only.
Custom error message when loading an inactive subsite.Attempting to access an inactive subsite. Multisite only.
Custom error message when loaded a suspended site.
Attempting to access a suspended subsite. Multisite only.

The list is very specific and, in many cases, providing a quick replacement to an error page where it may not make sense to try to add via hooks or filters.

The kicker is the caching ones—advanced-cache.php or object-cache.php—are often added by the installation/activation functions of caching plugins but are not always removed when uninstalling. If the caching plugin is deleted via the file manager instead of a typical deactivation, it wouldn’t be able to delete the drop-in either.

If you run into situations where you’re trying to debug something and it seems like there is mysteriously cached items. Check out the wp-content directory and try renaming those files to force-deactivate a cache if there are seemingly no normal caching plugins active.

For The Love of The Game

Tonight, we watched Angels in the Outfield, the 1994 movie about a horrible baseball team finding help from a foster kid who prayed for the team to have angels join them on the field.

I forgot until watching it tonight that baseball bed sheets that the kids have halfway through the movie were the exact same ones that I had on my bed when the movie came out. As a nine-year-old, that is pretty exciting stuff.

That memory brought back so many memories about my love of baseball as a kid. I never played or even owned a ball, but I was hooked. I can only remember going to the movies once with my dad to see Rookie of the Year when I was eight. I used to go to the flea market on Saturday morning to buy and trade baseball cards with my sister. I had a strong love for the Texas Rangers, especially Nolan Ryan. I had a Mickey Mantle rookie card. I had baseball bed sheets for crying out loud!

Then August 1994 happened. The Strike.

I forgot how much that impacted my childhood. Even though the Rangers weren’t actually good that year—though I didn’t realize that as a kid—they were still leading the AL West. We were looking good to realistically make the playoffs for the first time!

The strike killed the rest of the season and cancelled the World Series for the only time since 1904. The politics of the strike led to replacement players being called up for the 1995 season, which led to more problems. In the end, the strike lasted over 230 days and also shortened the 1995 season.

It killed the game for me. I kept the baseball cards on a shelf for long time before getting rid of them somehow (if I was thinking, I would have given them to my sister since she did virtually everything to help me build the collection, but I don’t remember where they ended up). I kept the Mantle card for longer, but I don’t know where it ended up now (which I’m pretty bothered by to be honest).

Except for a couple of field trips to watch the television broadcast of Rangers games and a game with a friend who still had the fever, I don’t know that I watched a baseball game for a solid 10 years after the strike.

Having kids who are getting into baseball reminded me of a lot of a good memories before 1994. I never played, but seeing them play and coaching their teams, I fell head over heels in love again.

I remember a bit that I was a Rangers fan and I’m not supposed to like the Astros. Seeing the stunts that Minor League teams pull excites me again. I’m still wary of MLB, but I’m getting there.

I hope I’m able to keep my kiddos excited for the game itself so no matter what a couple hundred of players and owners decide to do in the future, they won’t walk away as long as I have.

Honoring Papaw

My grandfather died in late December at 98 years old. He was of a generation where people lived some amazing lives. He would follow his older brother to school every day to the point the school finally just let him stay. Nearly an Olympic level swimmer who served during World War II. He retired from civil service before I was born, and then the cemetery happened.

After retiring, he became the caretaker of Sacred Heart Cemetery in Wichita Falls. Over the 31 years that followed, he worked every weekday—unless it was raining—mowing and maintaining the ground and going through the work to unify and computerize the cemetery’s records.

Apparently, before his work, one of the three Catholic churches in town kept the records for some part of the cemetery. It was increasingly harder to answer some basic questions about who was buried there, which plots were purchased or not, and so on. His first computer, a 286 running DOS, became the new beginning of a computer database to have a single reference point for cemetery information.

As a kid, before cell phones, we always knew that if you wanted to see Papaw, you’d head to the cemetery between 8 and 12 Noon, Monday through Friday. I remember setting out flags with him often for one of the American holidays—Memorial Day or Veterans Day or helping him setup the altar for the annual All Soul’s Day Mass. I have birthday cards from him that he designed with his “Designed by Bob Spring” with some headstones around it on the back.

For me, while he had done many other things in his life, I learned about work ethic and dedication through his work in the cemetery.

He was very stoic and a man of few words normally, but he talked to me at length about the new workshop they were building for him at the cemetery (complete with air conditioning!). Dare I say, he was giddy about it.

After he passed away, I visited David Bindel, the pastoral associate of Sacred Heart Parish, to catch up—I knew him from when I was active in the parish in high school—and to talk about the impact Pawpaw had on both of us and those who interacted with him in his role overseeing cemetery operations over the decades. I pitched to him the idea that it would be nice to have something to note his work.

I’m proud to announce that the workshop he was so proud of is now dedicated as “The Bob Spring Workshop at Sacred Heart Cemetery“.

Robert “Bob” Spring served as caretaker of this cemetery from 1976 to 2007. In addition to maintaining the grounds, his work included unifying and modernizing the cemetery records. He is buried in the southeast corner next to his wife, Mary Rita. 1919-2017

I can’t wait to visit Wichita Falls again to see the plaque in person.

Happy Annunciation!

Normally, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the celebration of the angel visiting Mary and asking her if she would bear Jesus, is on March 25th. Liturgical pregnancies are always nine months long (March 25th to December 25th, or the birth of Mary is celebrated nine months after the Immaculate Conception).

This year, though, the celebration is transferred to April 9th. Why?

Calendar rubrics FTW. The vast majority of liturgical celebrations are simply not celebrated when a “higher ranking” feat takes place on the same day.  The memorial of St. Ceallach in Ireland is usually celebrated on April 1st, but wasn’t celebrated at all since that was Easter Sunday. Solemnities, however, are transferred forward to the next available date that does not outrank it.

In 2018, March 25th fell on Palm Sunday, so the Annunciation would be pushed forward to Monday, March 26th. All of Holy Week, however, outranks the Annunciation, so it would to be pushed forward to Sunday, April 1st, which being Easter obviously outranks. The entire octave of Easter (the eight days from Easter to Divine Mercy Sunday/the 2nd Sunday of Easter) share the rank of Easter, so the Annunciation had to keep moving forward. The Monday of the 2nd week of Easter is known as “low Monday” from the Extraordinary Form where a “low Mass” would be celebrated for the first time in awhile. Be it a regular weekday of Easter, the solemnity outranks it and Mary’s visit from an angel found a home for 2018.

For your own edification, the Table of Liturgical Days is available from the Order of St. Benedict site. The table originated in Pope Paul VI’s Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar which is what guides local bishop conferences and how all those calendar printers get things right.