Friday, April 28, 2006

Paging Dr. Heimlich

Crazy Train (of thought)

When did the president become responsible for everything? Does the public not know what a free market economy is? I think again and again Economics and Civics should be required curricula in high school; else our future voters are going to be dumber and dumber.

I saw a guy on the treadmill stop to take a smoke break. Wouldn’t that qualify as a tangible oxymoron?

Daddy bought the house and Daddy bought the cars, but Daddy has to park in the street so the girls won’t melt. The ails of chivalry!

Someone told me recently “we all have families that include at least one annoying person.” That was so timely I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

That dang word “badonkadonk” is still stuck in my head. I need a new phrase before it gets me in trouble!

The A/C guy working on my house wore a t-shirt with a boar on the back. “You hunt?” I asked. “That’s what I tell my wife, but really a bunch of friends of mine and I just like to drink beer in the woods,” he said without missing a beat. Hummmm….

Marital Bliss

It is usually all wine and roses between Jill and I, but like all couples we occasionally upset one another. Last night we had a misunderstanding about our schedule and I got snappy about it. I saw right away I hurt her feelings and set out to make her feel better. I apologized, hugged her and asked her to forgive me, and within two minutes all was well. The sweet thing about our relationship is we would rather hug and kiss than fight and fume so apologies and forgiveness are exchanged quickly between us. As she went one way and I went another I was confident she had accepted my apology, yet I wanted her to feel super good, which leads me to….

Kid-bytes

I took Meagan to dinner while Jill and Linley had their mom-daughter outing. As we were eating I decided to text Jill another apology with an additional suggestive message of affection. I typed it out while talking to Meagan about this and that, sent it and resumed dining. A few minutes later Meagan’s cell phone received a text message – she had been e-conversing with her boyfriend most of the afternoon. I looked up and she was making gagging sounds and grabbing her throat, the universal sign for choking. I jumped up and pulled the table back, ready to position her for the Heimlich maneuver, when she started laughing and held up her phone for me to see. I scanned it quickly, suddenly saw the word “badonkadonk,” and realized what I had done. As I was trying to get over my embarrassment, I think I heard her say “I hope my husband is as crazy about me as you are about Jill.” Me, too, honey, me too.

Book Report

Sometimes when I need a bit of encouragement I begin my day reading email. There I am sure to find at least one bit of fan mail that puts me in the right frame of mind, that assures me I should keep writing as I do...

“You should be encouraged by the life that you have lived and the things that you have learned and the great talent you have of capturing the depth of experiences that touch your readers. As I have written to you before, when I read your book "why a daughter needs a dad" I wept and felt so emotional about the words written because that is what my father has done for me and I hope my daughter's father will do for her.”

Thank you friend, you are responsible for the next 8-10 pages of material that will come to mind today!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kid Care

Crazy Train (of thought)

A sign you have a good man – he opens doors for you.

A sign you have a good woman – she always says “thank you” for opening the door.

I love this statement: You can get happy in the pants you got mad in.

You know, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you think of yourself or anyone else. God’s opinion is the only one that counts. Let’s hope me/you and Him aren’t too far apart when the ultimate reality check takes place.

Diet update: It’s working. My shorts keep falling.

What is the real measure of a man? Is it how much money he makes, how much bravado he puts forth, how many animal heads he has on the wall, or is it how well he masters himself and rises above the base instincts that align him more closely with a beast?

One of the sweet things about waking up each morning is realizing I have another day with my wife and family.

Out of sight isn’t also out of heart and mind, unless you’re just one of those kind of people.

Marital Bliss

I’m putting finishing touches on a new book called “Simple Acts.” It’s about finding happiness in little everyday acts, not big expensive productions that are more about showing off than creating good feelings for someone. Things like this email I just got from Jill, “I love being your wife. You are such a wonderful man! XOXOXOXOXO” Because of that short email I’ll be happy all day, into the night and probably still in the morning when I get to see her get ready for the day, all the way up to when I walk her out to her car and kiss her goodbye before she leaves for work. That’s when she will tell me this again, and the whole cycle will start anew. It is heaven, I tell you, heaven!

Kid-bytes

Do you stop and wonder what kind of home produced the kind of child who would one day plan a Columbine-like massacre? Did those children suffer abuse, alienation, intimidation, neglect? Were they made to live without understanding, compassion or affection? Were they told to choose – respect the father or the mother, but not both? What are you teaching your child? Are you providing nurture and guidance while at the same time allowing your child to be who they are, not who you demand they be? Who knows, maybe these children came from wonderful homes with loving parents, maybe it was all the fault of substance abuse or violent television. I don’t know; I’m no criminal psychologist. But I’d bet if you aren’t hugging your child enough, if you aren’t putting their needs above your own, if you aren’t talking to them more than you scold or punish them, you are leaving a wound that will one day turn to anger - and all rage begins with anger. If you have wounded your child, take steps to heal that wound. Do it today.

Book Report

Some of you know I am attempting to expand my writing career by becoming a novelist. I have two novels being shown around in NYC at the moment; no sales yet, although things are going in the right direction. I hope it works out; I have so many stories to tell. Have you seen the commercial with M. Night Shyamalan watching everyone around him in a cafe, creating characters in his mind on the spot? It’s true what they say, art imitates life, and I’ve led a full and interesting life, one with many unique people coming across my path that make rich fodder for fictional characters.

The fun thing about creating characters is thinking back to the high school teacher with the bad toupee, the crusty old store merchant who turns out to be a guardian angel, the older woman I had a crush on, the little twerp or arrogant bully who annoyed me, the Walking Lady, the Flasher, the Dog Lady and the Goat Man. And then there are events, too, that inspire scenes - your first kiss, when you lost your virginity, how you found God, when you realized you weren’t all that, when you discovered someone really loved you, hanging out with hippies, skinny dipping and getting caught, the guilt or pain you still feel from events of years ago, the death of someone you thought you couldn’t live without. It’s true - in the imagination of an artist, film maker or writer, everything is material.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Gangster?

Crazy Train (of thought)

Isn’t there something flawed about chanting “We’re going to stay in the USA” while waving a Mexican flag?

So the Desperate Housewives are size 00. Yuck. What grown man wants people to mistake his woman for a 10 year old girl?

A missive I received recently from someone commenting on another: “When people don't let go of the pain from the past it continues to live in them and come out in many mean and horrible ways.” Yep. I think it rots their guts, too.

If you like the life you have (or wife, or job, or whatever), you probably shouldn’t be telling people you could’ve done better.

My Grandfather once told me, “Be careful where you lay your traps, lest you step in one yourself.”

Why are squeeze bottles shaped in such a way you can never get all the stuff out?

Marital Bliss

Every couple eventually invents a few phrases that sound innocent enough but which hold a secret meaning. Here are a few I’ve heard recently:

1. “Shall we sit and visit?” Meaning – I’d like to make out, how about you?
2. “Is the park open?” Translated – Are you in the mood for … well, you get it.
3. “I’ve got something for you!” - I think you get that one, too.
4. “Sounds like a prepay.” – If you want me to do that, I need you to do something for me first (wink-wink).
5. “You are the most beautiful woman God ever created.” - Thank you for opening the park.

Kid-bytes

As Linley and I were going to school this morning she listened to a local urban radio station, singing along to the hip-hop lyrics. “Sorry you aren’t as gangster as me,” she teased.
“You’re a gangster?”
“Yes,” she said, flashing some kind of gesture with her hands.
“A little white girl in a plaid skirt riding in a Porsche on your way to private school?”
“Hey, 50 Cent has a bunch of Porsches!”
“Last time I looked, he wasn’t a little white girl in a plaid skirt.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m not gangster.”
“You play the oboe in the band.”
“Oh, yeah.”

Book Report

I recently sent an email to fans announcing the release of my newest book, LIFE MAPS. I included this excerpt from its introduction:

“As Meagan drove she remarked once more that she worried about becoming lost, that she needed to practice using a map. I realized then that I had less than a year to teach my child all I wanted her to know before she became fully licensed and able to drive off without me alongside to help her find her way. I imagined her going into the world alone, driving to her first job, leaving for college, going on road trips with friends between semesters, hoping she would not lose her way. I thought of all the things I wanted to warn her about, the things I wanted to make sure she could handle, and the many other life tasks she would need to master on her own one day.

As I looked out of the car window, the old sting of loss and worry about her eventual departure came back to me. I know I have to let my child go. I cannot keep her under my wing, not that she would she let me. Yet I asked myself, how do I let my daughter go before I am certain she is ready for what she will face? How do I prepare my stepdaughter, Linley? I thought of Meagan’s fear of becoming lost and my own fear of her losing her way. I suddenly wanted to write down some directions for driving, even for living, and stuff them into the folds of the maps in the glove box. I smiled as I imagined her pulling off the road one day to refer to a map, unfolding it and my hand-scribbled notes falling into her lap. ‘Don’t drive too fast,’ ‘Follow at a safe distance,’ ‘Keep a diary,’ ‘Laugh often,’ and ‘Come home now and then,’ they would say.”

I was overwhelmed with the responses that have come in over the next several days. People told me of events in their lives, thoughts on their minds and feelings in their heart. Some of these people I have never met and probably never will, yet they are friends, friends who share something in common with me, love of their family. I have enjoyed many gains since I began writing four years ago, not the least of which is the love and support of people around the country who though they have never seen me, have welcomed me into their homes to sup at their table. I say again, I am blessed, very, very blessed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mayberry

Crazy Train (of thought)

I got busted. I lectured everyone about not leaving trash in the Porsche and threatened banning their ridership if they messed it up. Guess who left the first bit of trash in the car? Dang! I hate the taste of crow!

Jill and I have made sure we networked well in our neighborhood – we now know almost everyone. We live in a large town where many people just mind their own business, yet we are fortunate enough to see people we’ve met and get “Hello” called out to us all the time. It’s like there is a little bit of Mayberry in Atlanta.

Linley and I went shopping after school yesterday and someone in a store mistook her for a model. I tried to claim they were talking about me, but she didn’t buy it.

Meagan made it to school safely! I woke in a terror thinking of her on the interstate alone for the first time, but it was unnecessary. All those years of practice are paying off, let’s hope.

My agent asked me to come to NY. I hope there is good news on the way!

When I see an able person park in a handicap space, I just want to smack ‘em in the head.

Marital Bliss

Keep in mind Jill and I have been married fifteen months-four days (it’s easy for me to do the math – I proudly wear a tattoo of a heart with our anniversary date across it). I point this out to give meaning to the following: we attended a BBQ Sunday afternoon at one of the neighbors and were introduced as the “newlyweds” to a few other neighbors we had not yet met. When I explained we were in our second year, someone told us we do indeed look like newlyweds. Perhaps that’s because everyday I am glad I married her, grateful she picked me, irreversibly attached to her, and insatiably hungry for her affection. And blessed too, because she tells me everyday she feels the same way for me. Someone wrote to me recently and said they can feel my love for Jill in the book “Why I Love You,” and its message gave her hope for a true love in her life one day. I wrote back:
“One day you will meet the man who is right for you. He will come. I know, because when I least expected it, my Jill came to me and gave me a new life. A new life is coming for you, too. All you have to do is wait for it. Wait patiently, not anxiously, not too eagerly, just patiently. When he arrives, there will be no doubt who he is, because he will be the gift God wanted to give to you, and you the gift he wanted to give to that fortunate man. I know this to be true; I deserved no one, but got the best. You will too.”

Why am I telling you this? Just to lead up to an important question – Does the person you love know just how much you love him/her? You know what to do. Do it, right now, don’t waste a minute. You never know how many more chances you have to tell someone what they want to hear.

Kid-bytes

I have been taking Meagan to school since she was 6-weeks old. This week marks the end of a tradition as she begins driving herself to school – no more chitty-chat in the car, negotiating how many times she got to hit repeat on the CD player, watching her fix her face as we drove the last mile to school. Of course now there will be no more Cheerios in the floorboard, straws on the dash or eyeliner pencil shavings in the seat. I’m going to miss those things. But I still take Linley in the mornings so for a while longer I get to enjoy chocolate syrup in the carpet, power bar wrappers stuffed under the seat, and the smell of blueberry bubblegum lip gloss. Kids – gotta love ‘em!

Book Report

Sometimes I just get a simple “thank you for writing this book,” and then sometimes I get a little story that just warms your heart. I got this one from someone recently – it’s a keeper:

“I can tell my children I love them over and over, but putting it to written words; something they can pull out and re-read again and again, even after I'm gone is priceless. Thank you for writing a book that puts to words the sometimes difficult things to say to your child. Not because they are hard things to say, but because it is sometimes awkward to pour your soul out like that. I don't think we can ever tell the people we love that we love them too often. Your books are a beautiful addition to all the big and little ways I try to let my children know they are the best part of my life.”

Thank you for your sweet compliment!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Thank you friends!!!

Crazy Train (of thought)

Sorry for the delay in posting today; had a planning meeting with an advisor this morning.

The wonderful thing about friends is they always stick by you. I have lots of friends. I am blessed in so many ways. My thanks and affection go out to all of them.

I’ve started a mailing list of readers who have contacted me in the past. If you wish to be on it, please post a comment asking to be added.

A word of encouragement I received recently: “No matter what we do in life, someone somewhere is not going to agree with us, and is not going to like us, and that's just the way it is, so we shouldn't sweat it.” So true.

They say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Who is “they”? Did they know what they were talking about?

Speaking of flattery, I got four emails yesterday from people asking if I would be their step-father. Was it something I did?

Why is it no one calls until you are sitting on the toilet?

Marital Bliss

Jill and I were in north Ohio working on a photo assignment this past weekend. We were driving around looking for a good location when I started to take in the beauty around me. The grass was that gorgeous new green of spring, bulbs were pushing their colorful pedals upward and rolling meadows were carpeted with wild flowers. The sun filtered through tree branches that were just beginning to bear leaves and birds were flitting about looking for nesting material. I was about to say “it doesn’t get much more beautiful than this” when I turned to Jill and found her asleep in the passenger seat, her head tilted back with the sun and breeze coming in the sunroof flowing through her hair, a slight smile on her face as she thought about who knows what. No, I thought instead, it doesn’t get more beautiful than that.

Kid-bytes

Jill and I sat on the porch and watched the road out front, waiting for Meagan to drive up. She finally turned the corner, her blinker on (good girl) and slowly approached the driveway. Her windows were down, the sunroof open, and radio blasting. She smiled so broadly I thought her face was going to break. She had just completed her first solo drive; she had come to see her Daddy. She sat for a while and told us of her weekend, but didn’t stay long. Her boyfriend was her next stop. I didn’t get offended that she didn’t stay long; I was honored she came here first. I guess I have maybe two years left to enjoy my little girl, and then she will be off to college, leaving the nest. I can’t bear to think about it.

Today’s Rant

I got the sweetest email from someone yesterday who told me to “keep on keeping on, and continue to bless this world that needs the hope and joy and loving thoughts you offer!” That made me think about this rant section. I really do have to sit and ponder some days to find something of merit to rant about, and I do enjoy so much more writing about the good things I experience rather than the little pains in the badonkadonk, so I’m going to delete this section from future posts. My forte is motivational writing, so I'll stick with that!

Book Report

I have revealed to my readers in several books that my marriage produced a blended family. Jill and I each brought a child from another marriage under our roof. This makes me a step-father. I can look at that role several ways. One is “She’s not my daughter, so I’ll do only what is essential for her.” That’s not going to happen; that’s not how I’m made. The other way is “She’s not of my blood, but she is the child of the woman I love, thus I love her as my own child.” Step-parent, like adoptive parent, is a legal term that defines rights and privileges under the law, not terms and conditions of the heart. It does not limit the role and responsibility I have as an adult who has a little one playing under my watchful eye. I care for, provide for, plan for and attend to the needs of both my girls in equal measure. One will not be treated as a lesser than simply because I did not participate in giving life to her. I will not fail to do for her what she needs and what she might ask of me. This is what a blended family is all about - one family, one roof, one love. I’m not advocating to negate the broken marriage or family that produced the child, but I am saying there is no good reason to diminish the step-family simply because it came later. If you have a step-child, love him/her unconditionally; think nothing of birth origin. Children have tender hearts; care for them with gentle hands.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sweet Badonkadonk!

Crazy Train (of thought)

Thanks for your comments, Debbie!

Why is it when I tell a broker I prefer index funds, they assume I’m a Clark Howard fan?

I once dated a woman who tried to order a bowl of Cinco de Mayo at a Mexican restaurant. It was a short-lived relationship.

If the guy spent 18 years making the world’s largest rubber band ball, I’m sure he accomplished little else.

I’m very sweet to the young woman who cuts my hair, and I tip her well. After all, it wouldn’t be wise to hack off the girl who has a straight razor against your neck.

The nice thing about a deposition is that is when you can clear up a lot of things.

Don’t you hate it when at the end of the day, you find you have a hole in the crotch of your pants?

Marital Bliss

I have written two romantic books for Jill, Why I Love You and Love Signs, as well as two others she helped inspire, Why We Are a Family and Why You Are My Friend. She is my beautiful muse. I’m beginning another romantic book to be dedicated to her, this one about different ways to say “I love you.” I wonder if I can get “I’m crazy about your sweet badonkadonk!” past my editor?

Kid-bytes

Meagan and I have been practicing parking in preparation for her driving test which she takes today. Yesterday we pulled into what we thought was a nearly abandoned office park so she could back into a space over and over again until she could consistently get the car perfectly centered between the lines. After about a half-hour we decided she was doing pretty well and the lesson was over. As we began to drive off we saw a few employees standing in a window overlooking the parking lot. A man gave her a thumbs up as we drove past. Thank you, sir, she needs all the encouragement she can get today.

Today’s Rant

I get so annoyed when people say “I subconsciously…” Hello, if it was not in your consciousness, how do you know about it? It’s just excuse making, using old psychobabble to explain what you should just own and admit to.

Book Report

The Daughter – Mom book is my second best seller. I often get reader emails like this one:

“I wanted to let you know that I think "Why a Daughter Needs a Mom" is a great book!! My roommate bought it for her mother and I read it. It says so much. My mom is turning 50 years old soon and I have decided to purchase this book for her. I think it will be a great gift to show how much I appreciate everything she has done for me and how much I love her, to let her know that her relationship is so important to me. There are no words to express how much I appreciate my mother, and I am hoping this will give her a bit of an idea. I just wanted to thank you for writing such a great book, and tell you that the story of your family is great. My parents got divorced a few years ago after being married for 23 years, and I am thankful everyday that they still get along and talk on the phone, and hang out once in while. I think it is great that you and your ex-wife do the same.”

The funny thing is this is the book that gets mixed reviews on Amazon.com. Some people love it, others hate it. Or do they? The ones that hate it always post their comments with a pseudonym, not their real name. I wonder if it is jealous competition, or just some troll who thinks he/she can slam my books and cause me injury. The good news is people seem to ignore the negative comments; the book keeps selling strong. Thanks to my supporters!!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Her agenda is fine with me

Crazy Train (of thought)

He who won’t answer a direct question must be hiding something, or avoiding something worse.

Go Sonny, go! I’m voting for you again!

Sometimes when your kids think you are just a dork, you have to pull out the big guns. Linley laughed at the idea that some people think I’m a celebrity, until I pulled out the letter I received from VP Dick Cheney. He likes my books, too.

Tom Cruise is the best example, or at least second-best, of what can happen if you let your self-image go to your head.

I’m signing books at the largest book convention in the country in a few weeks. I just got a list of other authors/celebrities who will be there – Steven Baldwin, Dave Barry, Angela Basset, Duke the Bush Beans dog, Mary Cheney, Heather Graham, George McGovern, Alan Thicke, Meg Tilly, and more. Last year I got to hug up with Rachael Ray from the Food Network. Who shall I pick this year?

Marital Bliss

During the weeks that Jill and I do not have the kids, we do things we can’t do when we are making sure homework gets done and generally keeping the girls out of trouble. This morning as I was making her breakfast I was thinking about our evening. I thought we would put the top down on the hottie-mobile and take a drive into the GA mountain foothills, stopping somewhere for a country dinner, then come home for a glass of wine on the porch and visit with our neighbors. “Guess what’s on the agenda tonight,” I said as she came into the kitchen. “Wild sex?” she asked. Ummm, yes, darling, let’s go with your plan!

Kid-bytes

Meagan is attending her first prom dance in a few weeks. Jill and I were invited to dinner by the parents of her date. When I told Meagan this, her eyes rolled and I thought she was going to faint. For the next 15 minutes I got a list of permitted topics of conversation and one of prohibited stories with warnings of the great pain that would be inflicted upon me, if I even hinted to telling about the time she got stuck ..., or that stuff that came out of..., or when you used to... Just kidding baby! I promised not to embarrass you! I’ll just talk about me, like that time I went streaking in college and forgot my dorm key – oh, never mind!

Today’s Rant

I heard some woman on the radio talking about how she believes no one should be paid millions of dollars in salary. She has no explanation for her position other than she just thinks “it’s not right.” In other words, because she can’t earn it, no one else should be allowed to, either. Hey, the beauty of America is you can be paid a portion of the value you create.

Book Report

Another reader email I just received:

“I purchased your book "Why I Love You" and just had to tell you that when I read the "To Jill" page that it read just what is in my heart about my fiancĂ©. The words say so much about my love for her that I could not resist it. I too am one of those who dive in head first and let my heart guide me and help me through. I met my fiancĂ© a little over a year ago and fell in love with her almost immediately. We are engaged to be married this fall. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the book; it is like reading from my own heart.”

I’m so glad so many others believe in love on first sight. What’s love if it isn’t intense, irrepressible, urgent and all-in? Are you in love? I hope so; it sure makes your days more meaningful and fulfilled.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Car clutter

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’m so glad you visit me everyday. It makes me feel loved.

It’s so much more difficult now to get the gas pump to stop on an even dollar, isn’t it?

I guess some things just backfire on you. I carry my wallet, phone, Palm, keys, business cards and lucky autographing pen in a man-bag. It’s a small black leather thing that fits on the dash or in my briefcase. A friend of Meagan was laughing at it one time until I told him it was made from the scrotum of a water buffalo. When he asked where I got it, I told him I ripped it off the bull with my bare hands. He stopped laughing. The other day Meagan told me that now when they see each other, he always asks how my scrotum is doing.

Marital Bliss

I bought Jill a new car yesterday. She had a four door mom car. As I was cleaning out the old car, I found an umbrella, a dozen empty CD cases, a DVD player, two pillows, a dog car seat, four pens and a pencil, three pairs of sunglasses, six tubes of lip gloss, $65 in change, an emery board, a box of handy wipes, an air freshener, a comb and small collection of hair bands, two tins of breath mints, and a bottled water. Now she has a two-seater little hottie convertible sports car. Where all that stuff will go, I don’t know. Don’t think I am exaggerating about it ‘cuz I’m not. She has such a problem collecting nothing that I had to assign a drawer to her in the kitchen. What don’t fit has got to get. It’s the only way I can maintain some appearance of order in our home.

Kid-bytes

Sometimes the kids act indifferent to the books I write, even if their photograph is included in one. I’ve learned to be patient - life has a way of giving you signals. For example, Linley and I were at Barnes and Noble the other day so I could schedule a book signing. She disappeared while I reviewed the calendar with the store manager. Moments later I found her in the aisles, looking at her pictures in my newest release, Life Maps. It made me happy, it made chuckle – it was like finding Meagan or Jill reading old letters I have written them – my ladies care.

Today’s Rant

I hate the time frames repairmen give you. “We’ll be there between noon and 5:00, sir.” So why do you call at 4:42 and say “We have two more stops ahead of you, so it may be another couples of hours.” You suppose it would be okay with them if I said “I’ll mail you a check in a few days, or in a week, but it could be in about a month.”?

Book Report

The messages in my email box are becoming even more poignant:

“I bought Why A Daughter Needs a Dad for my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter. My son, her daddy, is in Iraq. He worries that she will forget about him while he's gone, and how much she will change while he's gone. I wanted to find a book that would remind him of how important he is to her. The first page I opened to was "A Daughter Needs A Dad who will make sacrifices so she will not have to sacrifice." This brought tears to my eyes. The second page was "A Daughter Needs a Dad who will influence her life even when he isn't with her." I burst into tears and bought it. My son has now been away from his little one for a year. He misses her so very much and she misses him. I know how important Dads are, mine passed away a long time ago and I miss him everyday. Your book is wonderful; we are going to send it to 'Papa' for his birthday, with love, from his little girl.”

Sometimes after getting these notes I just sit and cry both tears of joy and fear. Joy that I get to be the dad for two young angels, fear that something might happen to them. There is nothing like being a parent to bring you to your knees in prayer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bacon, vows and 16

Crazy Train (of thought)

Linley gave up bacon, her favorite food group, for Lent. After Easter service we all went to brunch and she broke her fast. She ate three orders of thick-cut smoked bacon.

I photographed a wedding this weekend. Watching another couple exchange vows is a very heartwarming experience; it made me come home and kiss Jill a little longer than the usual “Honey, I’m home” smooch. Perhaps I’m onto something.

If you can’t stop thinking about someone, you just might be a stalker.

We are planning a weekend getaway to a place that has no TV or Internet connection. The girls are begging not to go. How did kids get by before MTV?

That freak in Iran – like I once overheard a district court judge say, some people just need killin’.

Jesse Jackson is at it again – whatever it takes to get himself on television.

Marital Bliss

During the wedding I mentioned above, a union of two people with children from prior marriages, the new step-parent and step-children committed themselves to each other and vowed to work toward the formation of one family under their one roof. It reminded me of the vows Jill and I made to one another. We altered them somewhat to include a similar message, to take care of each other’s child as if she were your own, to have one family under one roof. This is not to pretend the family of origin did not exist or that the other parent (the ex-spouse) is minimized, but is to hold our new family up with pride, to treat it as a worthy union in its own right. It’s working - the girls call us their parents, not “Mom and her husband” and vice versa. We have one uniform estate plan, not something for one child and something else for the other. What Jill and I did, and what I saw this newlywed couple do, is something I hope more remarried adults will aspire to – to have “ours,” not “yours” and “mine.”

Kid-bytes

I can’t believe it, my daughter is now 16. I am so proud of her. She’s a good student, a good person, a God-loving young woman. She makes good decisions, she’s charitable at heart, she is thoughtful of others. Yes, sometimes we have drama, sometimes she wants to run me over with the Rover, sometimes I want to snap my fingers and make her four years old once more, sometimes we can’t communicate worth a flip, but thankfully, the love is always there. Even if I have been short with her, raised my voice and said something I regret, she will always accept my apology and tell me she loves me. I wish it were true that I never disappoint her, that I never hurt her feelings, but its not. What is true, however, and always will be, is that she wakes up every morning knowing her Daddy loves her, that he is glad she is in his life. This will be true to my last breath.

Today’s Rant

I’m skipping the rant today because I do not want to spoil the sweet taste of what follows...

Book Report

Of all the emails I have ever received about my books, this is perhaps the most touching...

“I am a father of 3 beautiful princesses, each of which are very different yet the same in their personalities. On the first reading of your book WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A DAD I smiled, laughed, cried, and felt overwhelmed with the awesome responsibility of being a Dad of daughters. The next reading I found myself thinking of each daughter at each passage and imagining her future. But it was this last reading that indeed changed me.

It is Good Friday and I brought your book to work with me, I enjoy the reflections it allows me have about my family. I began to read it and as always I would think of my daughters. It was not until I read “A Daughter needs a Dad to be the standard against which she will judge all men”, that I began to feel pain and sorrow. I kept reading, wondering where this was coming from. I made it to the passage “A Daughter needs a Dad so that she will have at least one hero who will not let her down” and then I openly began to weep.

You see, my wife has never had a “Dad”. She has never had that standard, that “hero” that would never let her down. I am reading your book now from such a perspective that it is opening my eyes to what she has gone through in her life. I find myself sorrowful for what I have fallen short of as a husband for her, but now I am a bit more prepared. Today when I come home there will be a different husband kissing her, a stronger man holding her, and above all a prepared and rock-solid father for her daughters. I cannot tell you what this book has meant to me as a father of 3 daughters, and I also wanted you to know that your book has reached someone on a plane that is beyond its intention. I felt compelled to let you know that something on this Holy Week drove me to seek you out. I hope that your Easter weekend will be happy and blessed; you certainly have made mine shine.”

As I’ve said before on this blog, I have not always been a model citizen. I continue to make mistakes in my relationships today, in spite of my best efforts to do otherwise. How is it that someone like me can have such an effect on others? Well, that’s just the point. It isn’t me, it’s God. I am merely a tool.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sweet Inspiration

Crazy Train (of thought)

While watching a TV show about pets that have been trained to aid their disabled owners, Jill turned to me and said in all seriousness, “If anything ever happened to you, I’ll train Princess to take care of you.” No thanks sweetie, I’d rather be left for dead.

Use scripture to manage yourself, not others. The Bible is the ultimate self-improvement book.

You can always tell when someone is overcompensating for something, can’t you.

When in Key West I took lots of candid photos of folks on the street. Jill was always with me, helping me as needed to find a good shot or to hold gear. Now that I’ve looked at the photos, I have found a half-dozen where it is so obvious men on the street were checking out my wife! Told you she is a doll.

While chit-chatting with my banker I heard stories of people getting robbed by handing their account numbers over to complete strangers who sold them a get rich quick scheme. It’s amazing what some people will fall for.

Has anybody heard from Bo Bice? Didn’t think so.

Marital Bliss

I got an email from someone who bought my book “Why I Love You,” the one I wrote for Jill soon after we started dating. I get lots of email about it; it has been used by men in their proposals, given on anniversaries, sent to soldiers overseas, etc. I love it that so many people feel as deeply for their mate as I do and use my book as a symbol of that love and affection. The irony is that that book almost didn’t get written. I had a contract for it and was trying to get inspired to do it, but I was alone at the time and just didn’t feel the juice to write it. I believed I would miss the deadline and my editor even asked me how I was going to write such a book given my lack of a relationship. Sometimes sweet blessing just rain down on you when you need them. About this time is when I met Jill and she changed everything. My heart burst with love and happiness and words easily flowed from me. The book is dedicated to her, and is about her. She made it happen. She was and is my inspiration; I want nothing more than to please my wife.

Kid-bytes

Friday night I had dinner with my wife, my ex, and 14 teenage girls. It’s great that Meagan’s mom and I can share events in our daughter’s life without having conflict. It makes situations so much better that we focus on the child and not our old issues of ten years ago. Jill and Becky talked non-stop, leaving me with the sweet sixteeners. As I watched Meagan open presents from her friends, she received a gift from Linley, her step-sister. It was underwear and pajamas from Victoria’s Secret. To my surprise they both put underwear on their heads right there in the restaurant and posed for pictures. I’d post one of those photos if I thought I could get away with it. Perhaps save it for blackmail material? Yes, to show my future son-in-law one day.

Today’s Rant

I love it when I can’t think of anything to rant about. After all, I’m really not a curmudgeon.

Book Report

I send my publicist copies of the more poignant emails I get from readers, hoping she can use them to build the story about my books. I recently sent this one:

“My son came home from college to spend a couple days with me, and brought me a book as a gift. It means more to me than anything else that could have been given. The gift was your book, ‘Why a Son Needs a Mom.’ I read it this morning and sat and reminisced about his childhood---the times as a single parent that I didn’t have the means to give him much, but was there to spend time with him, sharing thoughts, fun, and most of all, my love. I have cried and laughed reading your book. You will never know just how much it means to me. My son is a man now, but he will always be my little boy.”

After reading it she asked me how it feels to know that my books are touching so many people’s lives. I’ve thought a lot about that question since. I’m happy and proud of how people have embraced my books, but mostly I’m humbled and relieved by it. I have not always led a life I am proud of, and I have spent many days worried for my soul. Call it a rationalization if you must, but I find solace in these kind of emails, because to me they represent an acknowledgement of forgiveness and reparation for the injuries in others I am responsible for.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I saw Elvis

Crazy Train (of thought)

Of all the fashion looks that have made their way into the culture in the last ten years, the muffin top is the one I could have gone without.

He who sees himself in everything, thinks too much of himself.

Advice for the girls: Never marry a man who can’t say the word “dear” without going into a trance thinking about hunting season.

This country has gone overboard in its zeal not to offend anyone. We are not a homogeneous society, never will be, and shouldn’t be. Why have a first amendment if you can’t say what you think without first having to censor and edit yourself for the sake of being politically correct?

Why is it that 8 of 10 times a “bishop” is interviewed on television, it is a black minister wearing an Elvis outfit?

Marital Bliss

I had a long, hard day yesterday, one filled with errands, money and tax matters, dealing with vendors not living up to their obligations, one crashed computer and a deadline that once was three weeks away but suddenly turned into an ASAP. My wife, perceptive sweet thing that she is, brought me a glass of wine and a small plate of snacks as I sat down to finally relax at 9:00 last night. She then sat beside me, rubbed my shoulders and whispered something sweet in my ear. I live in heaven on earth, I tell you, heaven on earth.

Kid-bytes

Meagan turns sixteen this weekend. I’m happy for her to reach this landmark, and scared to death at the same time. I’ve spent untold hundreds of hours teaching her to drive. She is safer than most I think, cautious and always thinking ahead. But who knows how safe the other driver is, whether they are using good judgment or not, if they will try to beat the red light or pass on a curve? I’ll be saying my prayers now more frequently and fervently than ever before. Dear Lord, please put an angel in the car with her.

Today’s Rant

You laughed at the bishop remark, didn’t you? See what I mean? It’s so much more satisfying to say Rep. Cynthia McKinney has her head up her arse than to say she sees the world from a different point of view, isn’t it?

Book Report

Another email I received from a reader …

“I am a college student and my parents recently gave me your book. I was adopted from South Korea when I was six months old. I am now nineteen. Currently I am writing a persuasive speech on adoption and I will be using quotes from your book. I am emailing you to simply thank you. That book is so inspiring and hopeful. My parents and I absolutely love it and the pictures are fantastic. They truly capture some of the great moments of raising a child.”

I do admire those that adopt, who give from their hearts, beginning with the decision to offer a home to a child who has none.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Smile on my face

Crazy Train (of thought)

Why do the hottest models and actresses marry the ugliest rock stars?

Dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long time: “Just because someone is an illegal doesn’t make them a criminal.” Huh?

The guy at GNC shouldn’t be singing the praises of a memory aid if he can’t remember that he has already tried to sell it to me three times.

Some things are so obvious, even an idiot should know better. If you’re married, don’t take a girlfriend. If you do, don’t be flaunting her around in front of your wife. If you do, you deserve what you get, or lose, as the case may be.

Why do the girls make fun of my “compulsive” organization? I’m the one who is always first to be ready to go while they are still running around looking for phones, purses, shoes and other girlie doodads.

I’d never heard of Ted Hayes until yesterday, when he was interviewed on Fox News. I’ll listen for more of him in the future. Smart, articulate, reasoned, and compassionate. I like him.

Marital Bliss

While in Savannah Jill and I met two best friends, Debbie and Kathy. They have known each other for 35 years, claiming to have spoken to each other almost everyday in all that time. Somehow these three women got on the subject of comparing their husbands to one another. One said, “Mine brings me coffee every morning while I’m in the shower,” and the other said “My husband and I haven’t had a fight in 21 years.” While I was in the kitchen talking with the chef I overheard Jill chime in and brag a little about me. It was fun to listen to, realizing my wife really does recognize the things I do for her, and even tells others about how well she thinks she is treated. She is my queen and I love to wait on her. Of course, the rewards are awesome. Kathy knows; she said she can tell from the smile on my face that I like what my wife has to give me. Yeah, baby, I do!

Kid-bytes

Meagan and her friends Sara & Lauren pranced into the house yesterday, calling out for me to visit with them. I’ve known some of these girlfriends since they were five years old. I love having the chance to chat with them, to see them grow up, to feel like they enjoy my company. A few have come to me for help, and that, too, is a sweet place to be. I’d rather be the parent that can be trusted than the one feared or avoided. With trust comes information, and information, my friends, is what you need to keep tabs on your kids. What you don’t know won’t hurt you? Oh hell yes it will. It’ll break your heart. Part of parenting is practicing judicious investigation. A child not watched is a child headed for trouble.

Today’s Rant

If you are irresponsible enough to give your eight-year-old a mini-bike, at least try to have the good sense to disable it when you can’t be there to supervise them riding it in the streets. And get ‘em a helmet! I’ll do my best to watch out for them, but if they suddenly dart out of your driveway in front of me again and that time I fail to see them, well that’s on you.

Book Report

Here’s an email I recently received:

“Today I reached up and took down your book ‘Why a Daughter Needs a Dad’ from the shelf above my desk. I was thinking of my daughter and wanted to read what she had written in it before giving it to me. She gave it to me for Father's Day in 2003, and on many of the pages under your writings she had made her own note. On one page it says, ‘A Daughter Needs A Dad to be the safe spot she can always turn to,’ and she wrote ‘Thanks for always being there! Love, Me.’ She turned 29 last year, all grown-up, but she will always be my little girl, as Meagan Katherine will be yours. Don’t worry, the teen years pass and you will get those kisses again in public.”

It’s great knowing that my first book holds a special place in the hearts of fathers everywhere. And yes, sir, you are correct. I’m getting those kisses again. Others told me things will begin to change around age 16, and thank goodness, they have. I love my little girl!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tex was here

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’ve been given several nicknames, including Poppa G, Big G, just plain “G”, Other Husband (thanks, Laura), Chef, Iron Man, and more recently, Tex. Don’t ask me about the last one, I don’t get it either.

Another fortune cookie adage – He who boosts of his power and influence reveals his foolishness.

While signing books at Barnes and Noble, a customer mistook me for an employee and asked where he could find a book about starting his own religion. I directed him to the Humor section.

A true story – a father was helping his very young son in a stall when the boy asked, “Daddy, why does my peewee stick out?” The father tried his best to change the subject, but the son was insistent with his query. As muffled laughter from other stalls was heard, the father finally said “Sometimes it just does.” “Does yours?” was the son’s next question. As the father scrambled to finish up, uproarious laughter erupted. “Let’s not talk about our penises anymore,” the father said as he helped his son wash his hands and hurried him out of the bathroom. “What’s a penis?” I heard the son ask just as he stepped back into the bookstore.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I each brought a daughter into our marriage. As they approach their teenage years and become interested in and vulnerable to boys, I worry about how to prepare them for the thrills, trials and tribulations of relationships they will face without causing them unnecessary alarm. I want them to enjoy dating, but I want them to be appropriately cautious and selective about whom they give their hearts to. I want them to have deliriously happy, lasting marriages. I want them to never shed a tear over broken promises and dashed hopes. I want them to never know loneliness and despair. When I have these thoughts, I remember how I learned about romantic love watching my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and others close to me who had a way of relating that was unmistakable in its meaning, that an intense love was shared, enjoyed, and reciprocated. These worries and memories compel me to be unfailing in my efforts to show Jill how very much I love her, for I know that in doing so I am also teaching the girls a valuable life lesson, that is, what true love looks like. If there is one thing Jill and I want to be for the girls, it is to be a model for what marriage they want for themselves. I think we are succeeding – the girls tell us it is obvious to all that we are in love, that we are meant to be together, that we look happier than anyone has ever seen us. Indeed, I love my wife.

Kid-bytes

One of the girls said Jill and I were “cooler than most parents.” How we got that compliment I’ll never know, ‘cause just two days ago we were told we are “as boring as crap.” That’s okay; we weren’t trying to be the most entertaining parents.

Today’s Rant

I think if we connected the dots between illegal aliens living in the US and their use of the social services paid for by the taxpayers, we would find a good argument for the Fair Tax. At least then everyone, including those who have evaded paying taxes by living in a cash economy, begins contributing something to the support of the welfare system.

Book Report

If you’ve read any of my books you know that I share something of my personal history in each one. You would know that I was a rebellious teen, that I once hated my father, that I’ve been through divorce, that my child once despised me, that my faith has been challenged, and much more. I’ve never held myself out as a model Christian, a man without flaws, a perfect father or son, or someone who should be praised or looked up to. If you poke around you will find something. If you want to find my distracters, they are out there. I cannot hide from what I’ve done in the past, nor would I want to. I am the product of all my experiences; they made me. And that is the underlying point of and reason for the widespread popularity of my books. I am an everyday man, someone like you. I am proof that love and happiness is not reserved for the perfect and beautiful people. A good life, one filled with love, happiness, friendship, passion and fun can be had by all of us. All you have to do to have it is ask for forgiveness, and thereafter do your best to live with humility.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sh it Happens

Crazy Train (of thought)

If you have to use lots of punctuation marks and smiley faces in your email to point out you are being clever, you probably aren’t.

When in Key West, expect to see two sure things: hundreds of Hemingway look-alikes and way too many people who shouldn’t be naked in public.

Why do the girls always want Prada or Dolce and Gabbana? What happened to Levis and Converse? And when did Izod become Lacoste and triple in price?

It’s a reality – if you demand respect, you ain’t gonna get it.

Something Linley and I saw yesterday on a faulty flashing DOT sign positioned just before some roadwork, “Caution, Traffic Shi ts Ahead.”

Marital Bliss

On the last night of our vacation I found a note on the nightstand next to my side of the bed. It was from Jill, written on the inn’s note paper, thanking me for taking her back to the place where we were married, the Gastonian Inn, the most romantic B&B on the east coast. I looked up and she was coming out of the bathroom draped in a robe, carrying two glasses of champagne. I won’t go into detail about what happened next. Let it be enough to say that even now, fifteen-months later, we’re still on our honeymoon.

Kid-bytes

Evidence the girls are back home: dirty dishes in the sink, lights on in empty rooms, music turned up too loud, candy wrappers left on end tables, potato chip crumbs between the sofa cushions, no hot water, peanut butter smeared on the kitchen counter, constant interruptions, shoes in the foyer, no cash in my wallet, “Dad” repeatedly called out over the intercom, and my proud heart filled with joy. Oh yes, and there are the good night kisses, too.

Today’s Rant

If a bunch of certifiable deadbeat dads got together to demonstrate against paying child support, or parole jumpers staged a convention to educate on evading police, or known felons with outstanding warrants marched on the capital, I’m pretty sure law enforcement would show up and round up. So why, I ask, isn’t the INS at the illegal alien rallies with a deportation bus?

Book Report

During our vacation Jill and I were sitting in the parlor of a B&B in Savannah, having a glass of wine and chatting about the book signing I was to do the next morning at the local Barnes and Noble. Someone was listening in and eventually joined our conversation. “Oh my God,” she said, “you wrote ‘Why a Son Needs a Mom?” Yes, I answered. She then told us of her son, a troubled young man who had left home and gotten into more trouble, but who was now back home and getting his life in order. “I gave him your book and he came home. You helped put our family back together,” she said. We both started crying and she walked over and hugged me. It made my day.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Peas in a pod

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’m back! Thanks so much for returning to my blog. I enjoyed my time off but am now back at work. I hope something here interests you, or makes you smile. If it makes you mad, well, that’s your issue. I’m sure you’ll get over it.

Then again, some people don’t get over anything, do they?

They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Is that true for Amsterdam, too?

There comes a time when you have to stop blaming your momma for everything, don’t you think?

Only in America can people who are breaking the law receive a permit to stage a parade protesting the enforcement of the laws they are breaking.

Shouldn’t the automated messages say, “If you’d like to hear this message in Spanish, press uno,”?

Marital Bliss

Seven days in a car together, road tripping over 2100 miles, a new hotel every night, eventually going over budget. A situation fertile for an argument, maybe several. Yet none occurred, not one. Instead, we talked, laughed again and again, slept tightly smushed together, enjoyed lots of romance, had plenty of fun and ate too much. We didn’t do anything the other wasn’t interested in - I didn’t go fishing while she went shopping. This is what marriage is about, this is what best friendship looks like, and this is what true love really is. We’re like peas in a pod.

Kid-bytes

I had to rise at 3:30 AM last Saturday to get Meagan to the airport. She was leaving on her second mission trip, this time to spend her Spring Break working in an orphanage in Mexico. I was not too thrilled about getting out of bed so early, driving 90 miles roundtrip, finding only bad coffee to help rouse me awake, or missing the Saturday morning routine of reading the paper with Jill. But, the compassion on my child’s face as she lifted the new toys and clothes from the trunk she was taking to the children, the confidence in her manner as she navigated the airport headed for her flight, and the “thank you for making this happen for me” farewell I received, made it all worthwhile.

Today’s Rant

I haven’t read the paper or watched the news since beginning the Spring vacation last Monday morning. When we got home last night I was way too tired to look for something to rant about, and nothing that occurred during the vacation got under my skin. It is great having a life filled with love and fun such that I’d have to do research to find something to get hacked off about.

Book Report

An excerpt from a blog I read today:

“Like most days, I had lunch with Wayne today. However, today was different because he got me a gift. It was a really sweet book titled "Why I Love You" by Gregory Lang. Listed within the book are 100 reasons why a person would love their significant other. Wayne wrote something very sweet in the front of the book, but what made this book special to me was he went the extra mile and literally went through the whole thing, page by page, and highlighted the reasons why he loved me, even adding a few reasons of his own.”

Nothing like actual testimonials from satisfied customers!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Taking a nap

Crazy Train (of thought)

It’s the week of Spring Break. I’m going to take some time off...

Marital Bliss

...to spend in relaxation with my wonderful wife...

Kid-bytes

...to shop for a few surprises for the girls...

Today’s Rant

...to ignore the things that might otherwise have irritated me...

Book Report

...and to plan a few more books.

Please come back April 10th when I return to daily blogging.