Tuesday, May 31, 2005

too much time on my hands.....not.....

I've found the answer to a question that I'm sure plagues many people from time to time.

The question?

What do I do when I find that I have too much time on my hands?

The answer (apparently)?

Buy new golf clubs.

Evidently when you buy new golf clubs, your calendar immediately becomes more full than ever before, thereby relieving you of any free time that you might have had to try them out.

Monday, May 30, 2005

early father's day present.....

Yesterday, we did the late service at church. The bride was scheduled to help out in the infant nursery, so it was just me and the girls in the worship service together. And it was special.

Don't get me wrong, I love to worship with the bride by my side. But it's very rare that I get to worship along side our daughters. Meg's usually sitting with her friends, and Sara is usually in class during the early worship time. The two things that stood out for me yesterday morning were:
  • As we were going into the auditorium, Meg asked if we were having communion during the service. Sara said, "Communion? Oh, boy!" Some people may read this and think that she's going into it with the wrong attitude, but I would have to disagree. I think God would be a whole lot more pleased with us if we'd get excited about remembering Him.
  • About midway through the service, we were standing and singing a praise song. I happened to catch a glimpse of Meg from the corner of my eye, and she had this peaceful, sincere, glad look on her face as she was singing. It wasn't just words she was singing, she actually felt and meant the words she was singing.

I stopped and bowed my head, thanking God for the gift of our daughters. No, they aren't perfect, but I see in them the makings of two wonderful young ladies. It was a very nice early father's day present.....

Friday, May 27, 2005

finally friday.....

All day yesterday, I kept thinking it was Friday instead of Thursday. Even as I was leaving the office, I was thinking, "Yes, 3-day weekend!" However, the alarm went off at the same time this morning as usual, and I was in the shower before 5:30 once again. Good to know that the start of a 3-day weekend is only a few hours away.

It is a little different in the mornings when school is out. Everyone is still asleep, so I try to be as quiet as possible while I'm getting ready and eating breakfast. As I got out of bed, the bride mustered up her best "I love you" and then went back to sleep. I had to come back in the bedroom after breakfast, and she was sleeping like a log. Guess I was quiet enough today!

We've got dinner at Mike and Paula's tonight since Ellen and Jeff are in town for a couple of days. Sara has a big 4th grade party at the art teacher's house at the same time. No softball tomorrow! First Saturday in almost 3 months that we've not had a game. Mom and Dad will be down tomorrow afternoon and will spend the night with us before going to Julie and Dale's house Sunday night. I plan to do a few things around the house over the long weekend, but not too much (hopefully).

One last thing - If you know someone who's ever lost a loved one on the field of battle while defending our country, give them a call this weekend and let them know you appreciate the sacrifice that was made. I found the following on VA site, along with the official declaration document for Memorial Day, or Decoration Day:

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

General Order # 11
Washington D.C. May 5, 1868
General Orders No. 11
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or other decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and to assist those whom they have left among us as a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude – the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

Department Commanders will use every effort to make this Order effective. By Command of:

N.P. Chipman, Adjutant General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

a mom's tears, a daughter's nonchalance.....

With each camera flash, another memory was captured. Camcorders secured today's events so that dads and grandparents could later review the occasion. Teachers had created slideshows and videos, showing various events from this past year.

As I looked around the gym at Moore Elementary during this morning's "graduation" ceremony, the tears were flowing from most moms. And most kids were either laughing or whispering to one another. They could have cared less that this was their last full day of fourth grade.

What is it about graduations that make us so emotional? Is it the fact that our "babies" are growing up? Is it because we're entering into a new phase of life with them? Or is it perhaps the pride that we have for our children is showing through? Maybe it's a combination of all of those things and even more.

By 9:30 tomorrow morning, Meg will be a sophomore at Centennial, and by 10:30 Sara will be a 5th-grader at Freedom Intermediate. The bride and I couldn't be more proud of our daughters. I can remember the first day of kindergarten for both girls. I would venture to say that some of the same moms had a few tears on that day, too.

Now for the real tears from alot of moms - those three little words that they'll hear from their precious angels all summer long......"Mom, I'm bored......"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

top 5 reasons to question the ages of girls on a 10-and-under softball team.....

#5 - Left fielder's boyfriend brought her to the game in his '86 Cutlass

#4 - Catcher seen bleaching her mustache in the bathroom before the game

#3 - Players quizzing each other in the dugout for big Calculus III exam on Tuesday

#2 - Third baseman overheard complaining about having to work the graveyard shift this week at the local mortar factory

And the #1 reason to question the ages of girls on a 10-and-under softball team:

League commissioner assigned nurse to the team to perform random steroid testing

Monday, May 23, 2005

i didn't lose my mind.....

In between church and Sunday school yesterday, I saw one of the kids from the youth group with a shirt that read: "I didn't lose my mind, I sold it on e-bay." I told the bride about it, and she said I needed one. A t-shirt like that, not a brain. Just wanted to clear that up.

I'd been thinking about getting some different golf clubs. I bought some new ones last August off of e-bay. Brand new, great price, exactly what I wanted. I played three rounds with them and my game got worse with each round. I hated them, had no confidence in them at all.

When I got in from work Thursday afternoon, I started cleaning my clubs. The bride said, "Are you playing golf tomorrow?" I told her how much I disliked the clubs, and thought I'd try selling them on e-bay. After cleaning them up, I took some digital pictures of them and posted them on e-bay. In less than 17 hours, I had them sold to a guy in Roseville, California. Turns out he'd been looking at these clubs for several months, and my maximum asking price was what he was willing to pay. It's a win-win.

So I've started shopping for new clubs. The irony of it all is that I'm looking to buy the same clubs that I had before last August. There are two reasons for this: first, I'm comfortable and confident with them, and second, I can't afford to get what I'd really like to have. But that's OK. I don't get to play that often anyway, so I can't justify putting more into the clubs right now.

I used to think that e-bay was pretty much for nerds that sat around looking for Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons stuff. But these days, I don't buy anything without checking there first. I wonder if I can get college tuition on e-bay......

Friday, May 20, 2005

date night and other stuff.....

Yes, it's another one of those rare but good Friday nights. Sara's got a birthday party to attend, Meg's going to see the new Star Wars movie, so the bride and I get to go out to eat. I think we're going to Cozymel's because we got 2 $10 gift certificates in the mail from there last week.

Tomorrow will be consumed by softball. Sara's got a make-up game from last week that starts at 9:30, then we'll go about 12 miles south for Meg's game at 11:30, then eat some lunch and drive 12 miles north (back where we started the day) for Sara's 3:00 game. The make-up game should have never been called last week. It was 6-5 in the top of the second, bases loaded, and Sara was either going up to bat or on deck. It started raining, we saw some lightning, they called the game. 15-20 minutes later the sun was out, but it was too late by then. Umpires..... Also, Meg Meg*

Oh, yeah, one more thing: Lindy's Southeastern Football magazine has Tennessee ranked #6 in their preseason poll. Some things that I've read say that UT is loaded this year. Man, I can't wait until the college football season starts.....

*this was done to even out the number of times each daughter's name was mentioned

Thursday, May 19, 2005

from side-splitting to eye-rolling.....

I can remember that when the girls were younger it was much easier for me to be funny around the house. What would have been funny years ago now embarrasses them. Ray Ramano used to talk about jingling car keys in front of his children and getting rave reviews from them.

I started thinking about things that I've done around the house over the years and decided to compare the reactions of the girls now and then.

Raspberry on the stomach

Then - Hysterical. Always a crowd pleaser. I had the ability to make them laugh until they cried.
Now - Even though they'd probably have urine-inducing laughter from this, it just wouldn't be cool.

Playing "hot potato" while reading the newspaper

Then - Funny at first, then even funnier the fifth, sixth and seventh time.
Now - I'm sure I'd get that "we need to put him in a home" kind of look.

Kidding them about a "boyfriend"

Then - Red face at first, then hilarity would ensue .
Now - I make the comment and run. I don't even wait for the reaction.

Dueling remotes (changing channels with one remote while they hold the other remote)

Then - Very entertaining, especially when done from another room.
Now - I don't dare try. Why, Meg might miss 3 seconds of "Dawson's Creek" and Sara could possibly be interrupted from seeing a "That's So Raven" for the 9th time.

However, there's one gag that works every time. It doesn't matter how old they get, it still kills every time: anything having to do with gas, even remotely. But I have to be careful in how I use it. Comics can be buried from repeating the same material over and over. Dads run the same risk with their shtick. Thank goodness there are so many ways to go with gas. As the bride and the girls would probably tell you, I've got enough material on that to keep going and going.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

unbiased dad.....

Dads (actually parents) who have more than one child are at some time in their lives accused of loving one child more than the other. Growing up I knew that I was loved by my parents, and both of my sisters knew they were loved by Mom and Dad. Each of us had different personalities and different needs (both sisters were/are EXTREMELY high maintenance*), so we might have been treated differently but we were loved the same amount. For example, my punishments never involved taking books away from me. That would have been like punishing a fat kid by making him eat more. To Julie, take a book away and she'd be upset. Devonna? Take her crayons/art stuff away, same result. As long as siblings are treated fairly, problems in this area are minimized.

So we're on our way back home from a softball game last night, and one of our daughters said something like "I can't believe you wrote that thing about me in your blog!" This was followed by the other daughter saying "You never write about me!" And the accusations ensued.

From now on, I will be counting the references to each daughter every day. For every "Meg", there will be a "Sara". I don't know of any other way to do this. If I could put a counter up on the page to count this for me, that would make it easier for me. If anyone knows of such a counter, please let me know.

The bride and I have been blessed with two wonderful daughters, and we love them both very much. I don't ever want either daughter to think that I love one more than the other. Do we treat them differently? Yes, sometimes, but only because they have different personalities. For example, Meg likes to shop, Sara doesn't. A treat for Meg would be to take her shopping, but it would be torture to offer to do the same for Sara.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's 3 "Megs" and 3 "Saras" in today's post......

*editor's note to both sisters - this is called satire

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

good news, could've been worse.....

So the bride went to the doctor yesterday and had her foot x-rayed. No broken bones, but she did mess it up pretty bad. She's got a torn arterial ligament, and it will take about 4 weeks to heal. She's sporting a lovely lace-up thing on her foot for support.

I noticed something on last week's walk that is universal to everyone, no matter how old you are. Any time someone tells you to be quiet, it's almost impossible not to talk or think about something that you shouldn't think about that makes you laugh. On a couple of occasions, Mr. Parks designated certain portions of the walk as "silent walks." There was to be no talking so that the students could not only take in all of the natural beauty but also conserve their energy a bit. Within the first 2 minutes, one of the boys up front started laughing and had to sit out the first game of pin-dodgeball that night. I was back about 50 yards from this kid, and I noticed that the three goofball sisters (Amanda, Sara and Chloe) were walking together. For their own protection, I decided to get in between them to hopefully keep the same thing from happening to them. It was a good thing I did, because they were doing all they could to make each other laugh. One would act like they were tripping or sliding, the other would "accidentally" drop their water bottle. Thankfully, they made it through the silent part of the hike without getting in trouble.

I remember being in church once when I was about 13 and I couldn't stop laughing at someone sitting near me. It wasn't really all that funny, but I couldn't quit laughing. I stopped quickly when I saw Dad come down out of the choir and sit beside me. Yep, that was a real mood-killer right there. There's nothing quite like having everyone in church see your dad come down out of the choir and sit by you during the middle of the service.

Monday, May 16, 2005

back home, safe and sound (sort of).....

So there we were, about 90 of us ready to embark upon a 28-mile walk over the next 2 days. The kids were buzzing with energy, and the parents were simply praying for energy.

After loading up the buses and vans with sleeping bags, food and coolers, we headed for the Natchez Trace. The bus let us off near Tim McGraw's and Faith Hill's house/mansion/farm/plantation, and we started our walk. The first 7-8 miles was pretty much all on/beside the parkway. It was warm, and the pavement reflected the heat right back at us. I don't mind the heat, but some of the parents were feeling it and not too fond of it.

We broke for lunch at around noon, not too far from the Judds' properties (Naomi, Wynona and Ashley), although an Ashley sighting was not to be. As we ate, I watched about a half-dozen 10-and-11-year-old boys do things that boys that age will tend to do: fight, wrestle and throw food on one another. They spent about 20 minutes hurling grapes (one at a time) at each other. One of the moms had to step in when an apple came close to it's intended mark (someone's head), so they had to find other ways to amuse themselves.

After lunch, we got a light rain shower which cooled the temperatures quite a bit. We hit the wooded trails for the next 10 miles. Every child seemed to have a disposable camera, and I'd love to see the prints when they are developed. Most of the shots were either of roadkill or horse manure (suitable for framing, I'm sure). I hope to post a few of the pictures later in the week. I decided to get up at the front of the line about midway through the afternoon hike, right behind Mr. Parks, the teacher who was leading the expedition. About a mile or so into this portion of the walk, we started to cross a creek. As Mr. Parks started to take his second step onto a rock, he stopped suddenly. I thought he had slipped, but he actually came close to stepping on a copperhead in the water. He wisely decided to go up the creek a little ways and cross there.

The scenery in the woods was beautiful. There were several streams with small waterfalls, and the sound was very relaxing.

As the afternoon went on, it started to heat up again and the humidity rose. About a mile from our desitnation, my lovely bride stepped on a loose rock, twisted her ankle and scraped her knee. She bravely hobbled the last mile and said she was alright. As we rode back on the bus to the middle school where we were to spend the night, the bride's ankle tighted and swelled. But I have to give her credit, she's pretty tough when it comes to injuries. Fortunately, she was able to ride back home with another parent. When I talked to her that night, she had the ankle elevated and iced. (She'll be getting x-rays done sometime today. One of our friends on the trip is a nurse, and she said that it appeared to be just a sprain, but that she should have it x-rayed just to be safe.)

When we got to Hillsboro Middle, everyone's shoes were caked with mud so we had to remove them before going into the gym. This is where my "stupid/not-thinking" injury occurred.

After fueling up with pizza, salad and brownies with icing, we went back to the gym for about 2 hours of pin dodgeball. So there I was with no shoes on. I brought extras but couldn't get to them without completely unpacking my sleeping bag and other stuff, so I just went barefoot. I am not a barefoot kind of person - ever. Even at home, I don't go barefoot. So I spent the next 5 hours barefoot. The gym floor was made of a hard rubber, which was great on bare feet. At the end of the night, it felt like I had taken course sandpaper to the bottoms of my feet. Nice feeling!

As for pin dodgeball, I'm a fan. After the first two games, I finally got the hang of it. As I said last week, there are a bunch of good kids there at Moore. And there's nothing like beaning a good kid with a ball during the game. Hey, they got me a few times, I got them a few times, so it all evened out. I think I sweated more during the game than I did all day on the trails. Which lead to a problem, because.....

There were no shower facilities there at the school. So a few of the teachers and I took turns and used this giant sprayer-type sink to wash off in. The water was cold, but we didn't care. Even though I wasn't completely clean, it was good to wash off part of the days' sweat.

The next morning, Mr. Parks woke everyone up ala Ty Pennington with his powered megaphone. Actually, he didn't really wake the parents up. To wake someone up, they have to have been asleep. And sleeping is almost impossible on a gym floor, even with a sleeping bag underneath you. We had breakfast (one of the moms, who will definitely get a special reward in heaven for this, brought sausage balls) and waited for the rest of the parents to arrive. The bride, now injured, would ride in the support vehicle for the day.

Friday's walking was a little less inspired. Walking 18 miles the day before, along with getting very little sleep, tends to do that to you. Even though it was noticably quieter on Day 2, we still had alot of fun. There were fewer horse manure pictures taken on the second day. About half-way through the morning hike, I noticed that 3-4 boys just ahead of me were picking flowers. I started kidding them and said, "Aw, that's so sweet that you guys are picking flowers for each other!" One of the boys turned around and said, "They're for your daughter!" Sure enough, when we stopped for a break, Sara brought this bouquet of wild flowers in a water container to the bride to hold. (The bride could more easily hold them in the van.)

After lunch on Friday, the last 3 miles of the trek was on the Trace beside the road. The last mile, Heartbreak Hill, is about a 35-degree incline. A couple of kids and parents ran that last mile. Since I had nothing to prove, and since I didn't want to die, I decided to walk it with the majority of the parents.

On the bus ride back to the neighborhood across from school, several kids fell asleep. Several talked and sang songs. We arrived in Dallas Downs at around 2:35 and waited for everyone to assemble there to walk the last 1/2 mile. As we crossed the street to go back to school, all the kids and teachers from school were on the sidewalks cheering and welcoming us home. Pretty cool. One of the parents made slushies for everyone, and there were cookies and cupcakes waiting for us. We gathered our things and headed home.

The best thing about getting home for me was the shower. For Sara, it was being able to play with Amanda, even though they spent the whole trip together. They were running and playing, and I was getting more tired just watching them. After my shower, I got on the couch to watch TV and to wait for the bride and Sara to shower before going to Cracker Barrel. (Meg already had plans; her social calendar is much more full than mine.) I fell asleep while watching Seinfeld. Nice little nap. Just enough rest to get my energy level back so that I could eat.

I can't say enough good things about the teachers who organized the 4th grade walk - Mr. Parks, Mrs. Clark, Mr. Alvey and Mrs. Selfe. They spent alot of time and effort on this adventure, and they're to be commended. Also, along with the parents who went on the trip, the moms who got the pizza for us on Thursday night and who prepared breakfast for us on Friday morning did a great job. That was no easy feat!

Would I do the walk again, now that I know what it's like? Absolutely! However, since it's only open to 4th graders at Moore, and since Sara's our youngest, I don't think it will happen. And that's a shame.....

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

walk this way.....

In about 24 hours, the bride and I will be part of a group of around 100 who will begin the annual 4th-grade walk at Moore Elementary. Tomorrow's course will take us 18 miles, and Friday's will finish out the other 10. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 28 miles in 2 days.

Right now, the bride's not sure about her availability. She's got a sinus infection, and could go on the DL. She was able to get a doctor's appointment for today, so hopefully he'll give her some drugs to get rid of the infection. I think I've got a sinus infection warming up in the bullpen, but with my luck mine probably won't kick in until 4 AM Friday morning. But I've got to stay positive, and do the "mind over matter" thing.

I'm actually looking forward to the walk. There are a bunch of good kids at Moore, and I've gotten to know alot of them over the past 5 years. The kids will play outside once we reach Hillsboro Middle School in Lieper's Fork, and the parents will collapse. Sometime before lights out tomorrow night, there's supposed to be this big pin-dodgeball game between the parents and the kids in the gym. I think we've got a settle-down period between 9:00 and 10:00, then sleep is to begin at 10:00. We are to wake up at 6:00 and leave by 7:30. I think we should reach Moore by around 2:30 on Friday. That night may be a Ci Ci's (pizza) night, followed by an early bedtime.

Keep us all in your prayers.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

straw, meet camel's back.....

I won't get into details here, but I'm not the happiest person today. Yes, I have a beautiful family, my health, etc. But there are many components that make up our lives. When one of those elements goes bad, it can cause all kinds of unpleasant emotions.

Ever had one of those times where you and those around you have worked so hard to get things to a certain level, only to be knocked back down by one inane mistake? Yeah, that kind of mad.

Honestly, as mad as I am, it's been a controlled kind of anger. I didn't deal with the employee yesterday for two reasons: first, as mad as I was about the situation yesterday, I might have said or done things that would have been controlled more by my anger; second, I want to have all the facts laid out in front of me before addressing the problem, and that wasn't possible yesterday. As the day progresses, I should have everything spelled out, with all the ramifications that will come forth from the error. I like to make sure I have all my bases covered before going into a disciplinary meeting. And these days, with litigation being so prevalent, you have to have all your ducks in a row concerning employees. OK, I think I've used enough cliches for this paragraph.

People make mistakes. Shoot, I've made mine over the years. The art of good management is knowing how to properly separate the person from the act. I have to admit, I have a hard time doing that with anyone who isn't a relative or a close friend. However, there is a limit to that in business, and this careless mistake made the bell ring at the top of the pole.....

Monday, May 09, 2005

in the background.....

I'm the type of person who doesn't mind being out in front. I've been in several business settings over the years, both real life and simulation, where our "team" was supposed to come up with a solution to a problem. For some reason, I'm almost always the person who takes the lead and gets things going. I'm almost never the smartest or most knowledgeable person in the group. It just comes naturally to me. I don't do it to be seen, I just do it out of instinct.

Moms come from a different lot. They're more "behind the scenes" than others. They take care of the jobs that most of us either don't want to do or don't think to do. My mom was, and still is, alot like that. The kids and Dad always came first, then Mom.

My beautiful bride falls into that category, too. And it's the little things that she does that makes our daughters lucky to have her as a Mom. Like the back rubs - every night before they go to sleep. And the fact that she's there at home for them - every day when they get home from school. Plus, she's fought to keep the dog around, despite how I have felt about him, mainly because the girls love Wally.

Numbers were released last week from Salary.com stating that "today's 5.4 million stay-at-home moms would earn $131,471 in annual salary, including overtime pay, if paid in cash in addition to the steady flow of rewarding hugs and kisses from their children." Thankfully, the bride doesn't ask for a salary, because she knows I ain't got 'dat. But if I know her like I think I do, she isn't looking for pay or any special recognition. I think she would just as soon have some hugs and kisses from her girls, with maybe an occasional "I love you, Mom" thrown in for good measure.

It doesn't have to be Mother's Day for you to tell your mom how much she means to you.....

PS - the picture above was taken last July in North Myrtle Beach, just before coming back home. I have hundreds of family-related pictures on my PC, but very few of the bride. She won't stand still whenever there's a camera out.....

Friday, May 06, 2005

having trouble moving.....

I played golf today a tournament. Not well, mind you, but I played.

So after 18 holes, I came home and had the bright idea to go walking with the 4th graders (and other parents, including the bride) at Sara's school. They've been training for their big 28-mile walk/hike that's scheduled for next Thursday and Friday for the past couple of months. I agreed to go on the trip last year, and the bride decided a couple of months ago that she would go, too. The bride has practiced with them almost every day; because of when they practice, I had only been able to go once before today. They walk for 45 minutes Mondays through Wednesdays, then each Friday they add 15 minutes to their walking time. Today was the longest walk, starting at 3:45 and ending at 6:15. Other than the 20-minute break, we walked the whole time. And we logged 8.5 miles.

I've got a detailed schedule for the trip, but here's the gist of it: a bus drives us to the Natchez Trace, and we do a variety of trails and road walking. The first day we'll cover 18 miles. We'll spend the night at Hillsboro Middle School. Now, when I say "we'll spend the night", I mean the dads and the kids. The bride and several other moms will come back home to sleep in their own beds and take long baths and stuff like that. We're scheduled to get up at 6:00 AM the next morning. I'm sure we'll be completely refreshed after sleeping on the gym floor the night before. We'll cover 10 miles on the second day. That night I plan to get in bed by 6:30......

Thursday, May 05, 2005


The tremble you felt last night at around 8:28 CST was the celebration coming from 374 Glendower Place. The bride, Sara and I were EXTREMELY glad that Scott had been voted off of American Idol. We all said, "They finally got it right!"

Did his performance Tuesday night merit his dismissal? I'd have to say that he sounded much better than Anthony, and everyone assumed Scott was safe for another week. Other than Tuesday night, Scott's act over the previous 3 weeks had been abysmal. That was reason enough to let him go. Plus, he took the spot of other contestants who deserved to stay, particularly Nadia and Constantine.

The top 3 vote-getters should be the top 3 next week at this time. From that point, I really don't care who wins because they're all deserving. I'm just relieved that Scott won't have the chance to be in that top 3, because he didn't deserve to get as far as he did......

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

old friends.....

After Meg's game last night, we gathered up all our chairs, jackets and blankets. (I know it's just a week or so away, but I'm ready for warm weather. The bride is wearing wool sweaters and polar fleece to the softball games, covering up with down blankets, and still complaining that it's cold.) We piled into the car and headed out towards the exit.

As we were driving out, I noticed this grey pickup coming towards us. He got closer and the driver was pointing at me. I said to the bride, "Who is this redneck?" From the back seat, Meg said "That's Mark McKay!" So we did an illegal u-turn and followed him back to the parking lot.

Mark and Laney McKay, and their 4 kids, are some of our all-time best friends. We've known them for almost 15 years, but we've not kept up with each other much over the past couple of years. After going to church together (off and on) for almost 10 years and seeing each other 2-3 times a week, it's hard to find time to do things together with everyone's schedules. We've celebrated things together, and we've cried about things together over the years. Our friendship is the kind that would be there for the other at a moment's notice. Almost like family.

You know what it's like when you see an old friend and you have to search for something to say? It's nothing like that with them. Mark and I started talking immediately about everyday things, and Laney bear-hugged the bride when she saw her. Again, we picked up right where we left off.

We got home a little later than normal last night, but it was well worth it. We all talked about how much we missed being around them, and how that we should make it a point to get together with them soon. It's a great idea, and one that I'd love to follow through with. I hope it happens.....

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

yes sir, bench seat for one.....

I'm starting the Atkin's-like diet again that helped me lose 28 pounds three years ago. For the first four days, it's pretty much all the meat and eggs you want to eat, and no bread, sweets or other things that you might like to eat that's not meat or egg-related. I love both meat and eggs, but after four days I'll be ready for something else.

For lunch yesterday I went to Arby's for a salad. I brought it back to the car as usual, and proceeded to listen to sports talk radio as I ate.

After a few minutes, this guy pulls up in a red Ford pickup and goes into the restaurant. He comes back with his food, and I'm thinking that he's probably going to do the same thing as me - listen to the radio while he eats. I glance over after a few minutes and notice that he's laid out a folded hand towel long-ways on the dash over the instrument panel. He then pulls both a salt and pepper shaker and puts them on the towel. Then, and I had to look twice at this, he pulls from behind the seat a BOTTLE OF KETCHUP and puts it on the towel. Every now and then he would reach over, salt and pepper a few things, then squirt ketchup onto his fries.

He ate rather quickly for someone who carries around a full set of mobile condiments. When he finished, he put the salt and pepper shakers back into some sort of box, possibly a piece of Tupperware. Then he placed the ketchup bottle back behind his truck seat, opened the truck door and shook out the towel onto the parking lot. He closed his door, started the engine and drove off.

Next time I go to Arby's, I'll be looking for Mr. Mobile Condiment Man. Entertainment like that is rare.....

Monday, May 02, 2005

grace in action.....

How do we react when someone messes up something in their life? Initial responses could range anywhere from "I can't believe he did that!" to "Whew, glad that's not me....." Reactions can tend to make the offender left feeling judged by all those around him. I saw just the opposite of that yesterday.

I have a friend who's been through some tough times lately. He and his wife learned about 6 months ago that their 17-year-old son is an alcoholic. For the past 4 months, this young man has been in a treatment center for kids with addictions. It's a boot camp environment, one to teach resposibility and new habits. Early last week, my friend found out that his son had "earned" a 48-hour pass and could come home for a couple of days. Things were tense at first, neither parents nor son knew exactly how to act. But in time, they realized that just being together and knowing there was plenty of love to go around was enough.

The three of them came into church yesterday morning. One person after another approached the teenager, but not in a judgmental way. The contact ranged from handshakes to hugs. The mom/wife would later say that she couldn't keep it together during church because of all the acts of love shown her son's way. People didn't see them and turn away to talk about their situation, but instead came to them in a spirit of love.

That's probably how we'd all like to be treated after messing something up in our lives.