Thursday, June 24, 2004


There's something about that last day of work before going on vacation where the adrenaline just seems to flow more abundantly than normal. Must be a combination of excitement about the trip and the anxiety of wondering whether or not I'll be able to get everything done before leaving. Being somewhat (more accurately, that should read "completely") anal-retentive, I'll check my voice mail message more than once, make sure my away-message is set on my work e-mail account, and straighten my desk before I walk out of my office.

Our kitchen countertops at home is scattered with several lists for vacation. Gotta make sure everyone's medicine is packed, along with pillows, movies, PS2 games, cds, golf clubs and shoes, batteries, and, oh yeah, CLOTHES. I always tell Susie that if our house ever burns down while we're on vacation, we should be fine because we bring almost everything with us when we go. The guest room bed is piled with everyone's clothes for the week. Even though there's a washer/dryer in the condo and we're taking less because we can wash things, it still looks like too much. But I live with three beautiful ladies, and beautiful ladies don't necessarily travel light. The van will be full, and I'm sure when I start out packing it will appear that there's no way everything will fit. But it always does.

As I was pulling down the beach chairs and boogie boards from the garage last night, I mentioned to Susie that in 48 hours I would have already ridden the waves. She had to correct me, because I thought it was Thursday when it was actually Wednesday, and I changed the hour amount to 72. Susie said I was just like a kid who couldn't wait until Christmas, and I'll have to admit that she's right. I may be getting ready to turn 40, but I'll have more than my share of salt water sucked up my nose over the next week. My sinuses should be clear while there.

We'll meet up with the Moffitts in less than 48 hours and head for North Myrtle Beach. By this time Saturday morning, we should be about an hour past Ashville. I'm looking forward to a week of no agendas, meetings or Lotus Notes. Sure, I'll have my Palm Pilot, but only for contact information. The only reminder that will pop up while I'm gone will be one telling me that I'm on vacation. And the only appointments Chris and I have to worry about will be our tee times.....

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

practice, practice, practice

OK, I'll admit it. I've lacked discipline lately when it comes to running. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person. I have to be very rigid in my routines and not vary. (Many of you don't know this, but they originally wanted me to be the Rain Man; doggone that ol' Dustin Hoffman and all his fancy Oscars....) I'm still walking, but I actually enjoy running much better.

It's the same old thing - I stop running, feel the need to start up again, and have to get back into it a little at a time. I included a partial run during my walk Sunday morning. It was just 1/4 mile, but it was a start. Within a few weeks, if I stick to it, I'll get back to being able to run 2 or 3 miles. It's just a matter of getting back in the rhythm.

I've got a friend who, during high school, would practice smiling and laughing in front of a mirror before going out on a date. She'd go in the bathroom and work on different smiles and laughs for different situations during the date. It's not unlike what Coach Fulmer does before a football game, working with his players, setting up different game situations. Guys, did you know that girls did such things? We always thought they were putting on makeup and brushing their hair. Turns out that we misunderstood the word "prepping" and thought they were saying "primping".

My point is this - if I want to succeed at something, I've got to practice at it. They say practice makes perfect. I don't know about that, but my pants sure won't feel as tight around the waist if I'd just get back into the practice of running every night. Well, that, and lay off the Moose Tracks ice cream....

Monday, June 21, 2004

thank you, ladies!

Great Father's Day yesterday! It started off with having my breakfast prepared for me. Meg and Sara gave me beautiful homemade cards and some very thoughtful gifts. Susie fixed my favorite meal for lunch: fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and biscuits, followed by cherry crunch a-la-mode for dessert. Susie and I capped the evening off by taking a 2-mile waddle/walk.

Every passing day makes me realize just how much God blesses me in so many ways, especially His blessing of 3 wonderful girls who not only keep me on my toes but also love me more than I could ever imagine.

PS - the beach countdown is down to 5 days.....

Friday, June 18, 2004


I always kid with friends that I don't have a chance at home. I'm the lone male living with three females. Sure, Wally, our dog, is a male, but only by physical definition. If he were able to watch television, I'm convinced that he would not only NOT channel surf but that he would also watch nothing but Lifetime and Oxygen. But I digress.....

Being a father to two beautiful girls, Meg and Sara, is one of my greatest joys. Sure, there are times when Susie tells me more than I want to know (at which times I cover my ears and start singing "la-la-la-la"), but all in all it's good. I have the privilege of watching these two girls, with very different personalities, grow up before my eyes. I've been blessed in that both daughters are very healthy and can do just about whatever they want to do without any physical limitations.

I remember bringing them both home from the hospital. With Meg, it was July 4, 2000, and it was over 100 degrees. We lived in a small house that didn't have central heat/air, and it got a little stuffy in her room at times. Sara came home from the hospital on March 19, 1995, to a little bit nicer house and much cooler weather. They were both so small back then. Now they're in and out of the house on a constant basis. Meg starts high school this fall, and Sara will finish up elementary school this next year. Why do I suddenly feel like Tevye?

Thank you, Meg and Sara, for making my life this much richer. Thanks for allowing me to just be myself around you. Thanks for bringing out bedtime-story-characters like Pinky, Sam and others. And finally, thank you, Susie, for not only bringing our daughters into the world but for also being my partner in raising them. Now, we need to talk about what you can and can't say around me regarding the physical changes in the girls.....

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

fathers day is coming.....

In the fourth chapter of Joshua, God tells Joshua to have 12 men take stones from the Jordan river and to carry them to their place of rest for the evening. The stones were to serve as a memorial for the nation, so that when their children asked about the stones, they could then tell them about how God was faithful to them in allowing them to cross on dry land through the Jordan.

Everyone has someone who has acted as a "stone" for them at one time or another; someone who can serve as a reminder of how God has worked in their life. For me, the choice is obvious - it's my dad. He's someone I've been able to look to as an example of what a man, husband and father should all be. Is he perfect? No, and he'd be the first to tell you so himself. But he's taught me life-lesson after life-lesson, all the while using God as the focus.

I've been told that having children of your own makes you understand your relationship with God that much more, and it's true. I look at my daughters, realize how much I love them, and understand my dad's love for me. Then that makes me realize how much God actually loves me. Matthew 6:26 says "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

As fathers day nears, I'm very thankful for my dad and for being able to have that close relationship. I have friends whose fathers have passed on, and I know there's a void for them. One day I'll be in their shoes, and I'll feel that same emptiness. I can't worry about that now - I'm just hopeful for more of the same for years to come.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

game night

Last night, we were scheduled to go to the Nashville Sounds game with Sara's softball team. One of the coaches arranged for us to get tickets on the party deck with free food, etc. One small problem - when we got there, the parking attendant told us that the game had been cancelled. Apparently the field was uncovered during the strong rain storms this past weekend, and the infield was like a sponge. Hopefully we'll get to reschedule it for another time.

While eating at Backyard Burger, I told Susie and the girls about my story from yesterday's lunch at Wendy's. We laughed about it for almost 30 minutes! (Either Sara or Meg said that "badonka-donka" sounded like some kind of candy. "New from Nestle', Atkins-approved low-carb badonka-donkas!") Susie has this tendency to laugh at things to the point where she can't stop laughing, and this was one such occurrence. That's one of the many things I love about her!

After we got home, I threw softball with Meg and Sara for a little while, then we all decided to play Monopoly. I came out strong, buying property left and right, and winning the "free parking" money a few times, telling the girls that this was how to win Monopoly. Susie had some key properties, and so did Meg. All Sara had was the orange corner, consisting of St. James, Tennessee and New York. The key to it was that she acquired enough money to build hotels on all three. Bottom line, Sara won by a landslide. And I was the first to go bankrupt.

Maybe there's a life lesson in last night's Monopoly game. I had the most property, and even had three monopolies, but I was out first. Sara only had one monopoly, but she invested heavily in that one area and won. The lesson? Go with what you're good at, focus your energies in the right direction. Everyone has God-given abilities for a reason, and we should be using them.

As much fun as we had last night, I can tell you one thing for sure - there's nothing more humbling that a 9-year-old who insists on counting her money at the end of a game of Monopoly.....

Monday, June 14, 2004

What's your name, little girl?

One of my "quirks" in life is the quest for the $3+tax lunch. Yeah, I'm cheap, but that's a whole other quirk.

So I'm standing in line at Wendy's, waiting to place my order for two 5-piece chicken nuggets and a medium Diet Coke for $3.24. There's a new employee taking my order (I'm in there about twice a week, so the faces are all pretty familiar to me most of the time), and the guy sweeping up can't remember her name, so he keeps referring to her as "her". The lady on burgers says, "Her name's not 'her'!" So "her" says to the other cashier, and I'm quoting, "My nickname 'badonka-donka'." She followed this with a sly grin. How I kept a straight face, I'm not really sure.....

Friday, June 11, 2004

To sleep, perchance to dream.....

The year was 1987. I had just met Susie, the love of my life. Remember how things feel when you meet that person? You're full of energy, and sleep is something you get if there's time for it. This was my normal routine:

Get up around 6:30, shower, etc.
Eat breakfast
Leave for work around 7:20
Work from 8:00 until 5:00
Leave work, head over to Susie's for dinner
After dinner, we'd go out and shop, see a movie, stuff like that
Back to her house to watch TV until about midnight, then say "goodnight" for 15-20 minutes
I'd head back to my apartment and usually get into bed sometime between 1:00 and 2:00
Start the whole routine over the next day

Now, you have to remember, I wasn't even 23 when this all started. My only priority was to spend time with Susie. And the adrenaline was always very high, because we've got that new-love thing going on.

17 years later, my to-do list has grown, and my tolerance for 20-hour-days has disappeared. The days of just hanging out after supper are pretty much gone, at least for now. Susie and I now run a small taxi service for our daughters. But that's not all bad, either. For those of you who are married with children, stay with me here.

You see, as children get older, their opportunities for social activities increase. For me, the trifecta is this: one child is spending the night with a friend, another has a combination birthday party/sleepover, and Susie and I can have the evening to ourselves. And how to we spend that extra "just-us" time? (You may want to get a pen and write this down.) We go to Sam's Club and/or Target! Yessiree, we know how to keep the fire burning!

Maybe this sounds very boring to some of you, but it's really not. You see, it took me awhile to get to this place, but I finally figured out something - it's all about just spending time together. Whether it's on a tropical island or watching our daughters at a softball game, it's important to do things together. There will be time for cruises and trips for just the two of us. But for right now, things are great in the canned fruit aisle at Sam's.

I'll close by congratulating both Meg and Sara for their great softball seasons. Sara came into her own this year at pitcher and as a batter, and her team won more than they lost. Plus, I had alot of fun coaching. Meg got back into the sport after a 5-year hiatus and did well. Her team capped off an undefeated season by winning the championship last night, 12-4. As much as I'll miss being at the ballpark, our evenings will be a little less rushed. And maybe that will provide some more time to rest, and a little more "just-us" time for Susie and me......

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Are we there yet?

What is it about wanting to remember more of the everyday events as we get older? Maybe it's shows like "Seinfeld" that made this more popular. (Be prepared, there will definitely be Seinfeld references in this blog. I'm thinking I could write a Sunday school curriculum based on the show just like those guys in Alabama did for "The Andy Griffith Show." Yeah, that might be a bit of a stretch...) Remember when Jerry and George were trying to pitch their show to NBC? They had put off writing the pilot, so they walk into the meeting with basically nothing (other than the butler episode, which they thought was lame, but they ended up using it for the pilot because the execs thought it was hilarious). They tell the execs that the show is about nothing. George says, "What did you do today? That's a show!" "Seinfeld's" whole premise was that it was a show about nothing. But maybe it wasn't really about nothing.....

Maybe we pay too little attention to the everyday occurrences in life. I know I'm guilty of that. I have a tendency to look forward to things rather than to enjoy the moment when it gets here. I always tell my wife, Susie, that I have two major events that I look forward to every year - our annual beach vacation and Christmas. When one is over, I start looking forward to the other. Maybe I'm the only person who does this, but I doubt it. Maybe there are others who don't take it to the extreme that I do, but they probably overlook blessings that we consider "givens." That's what I'm working on - being thankful for the "givens" in life to the point where I don't consider them automatic.

Here's a few things for which I'm very thankful:

My relationship with Christ - who else is going to love us at our absolute worst? Who else would offer that kind of grace?

My wife - 16 years and counting. God knew exactly what and who I needed in a mate.

My daughters - Meg, almost 14, and Sara, 9. True, they don't meet me at the door with cheers like they did years ago, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.

My parents - I came along 10 1/2 months after they were married, so I've almost always been a part of their marriage.

My sisters - Devonna and Julie. Here's to all those times I jumped out from around the corner or hid in your rooms to scare you.

My extended family - Ken, Hattie, Mike, Paula, Ellen, Jeff, Will, Shelby, Helen, Jennifer and Mark. I think I was a little more than they bargained for in a spouse for Susie. They're a little more reserved than my family, but I've brought them along over the years.

Friends - way too many to mention over the years.

Other things for which I'm grateful - great physical health of my family; food on the table; a home that keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the winter; my job; good neighbors; my daughters' friends; our church and Sunday school class, "The Cracked Pots". I'm sure I left out several more.....

Having said all that, we leave for North Myrtle Beach with the Moffitt's two weeks from Saturday.....I can't wait! OK, so old habits die hard....