Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Don't talk back

Crazy Train (of thought)

Sometimes in the middle of the night Jill will talk out loud about something she has seen on TV. Lat night about 3 AM she sat up and told me she would never shoot me. Whew, now I can rest easy!

During church the music director was tuning his guitar. He said, “The last time I did this I busted a G string.” The laughter was so-o-o-o sinfully delightful.

Marital Bliss

Another installment from The Front Porch Chronicles:

My wife is a little quirky. She insists ice is a rock, asserting the evidence supporting her opinion lies in the bartender’s term, “on the rocks.” This best explains why I do all the cooking in our home; it’s for our own good. And in case you doubt, I cook quite well. I chop, sauté, assemble and plate ingredients with such finesse our neighbors believe I was once a professional chef. In contrast, my wife reaches into the pantry or freezer, unwraps, nukes and serves prepackaged meals. I affectionately refer to her cooking as “heating.”

Jill protests my teasing and tells me she is famous for one recipe, something she calls Matchstick Carrots. I’ve never tasted this dish in our nearly three years together. Maybe it’s because we don’t own a matchstick carrot pan, or perhaps she needs those special hard to find kind of carrots. Whatever the reason, I think I’m better off not knowing what I’m missing, so I have never encouraged her to relieve me from my cooking duties.

Jill, on the other hand, relieved of her need to heat those gourmet meals, used her spare time to go back to school in pursuit of a new career. Wanting to be a school teacher, she immersed herself in her studies, leaving me to cook, much to the relief of all who sit around our dining table. Today, her heating skills have been replaced with her teaching skills, and in particular, the thorough manner with which she gives me my daily assignments.

Before leaving for work recently she gave me a list of office supplies she wanted me to purchase. She reviewed the list with me, pointing to each sentence making sure I knew which she was reading. She held up her fingers to make sure I knew how many of each item she wanted, she described its shape and color, and she gave me permission to call her if I had any questions. I think she forgot I have a doctorate degree.

Although I thought I was adequately suppressing my smirk, I suppose I wasn’t because she told me if I didn’t wipe it off my face I’d have to stay after school and do extra homework. “Yes, ma’am,” I respectfully replied and then hurried her to her car before she could threaten me with suspension.

In spite of my best efforts to avoid trouble, I sometimes run into it headfirst. I think I have a dormant gene that kicked in after I got married. I’m supposed to feed Princesses, Jill’s beloved dog, at five o’clock each day. Once my wife arrived home and asked if I had. “Why, yes,” I said even though I had forgotten. I lied only because I feared my parents would be called in for a teacher’s conference if I confessed to my misdeed.

Well, Mrs. Crabtree decided to check for herself. Apparently she had marked the dog food and saw there was no less than the day before. Like I said, she loves that dog. I sometimes wish Princess were more like Rusty.

I poke fun at my wife because it makes her laugh, and making her laugh is one of the measures I take to assure our marital bliss. There are other measures; we spend time together walking in the neighborhood or hiking in the mountains, visiting with neighbors on the front porch, talking softly before going to sleep, and doing things or going places with our children. As you might have noticed, however, nowhere on my list of activities did I mention doing anything with Princess or searching for a matchstick carrot pan. We’re talking about bliss here, after all.

Speaking of bliss, a few nights ago several friends joined us for dinner and a conversation soon started about keeping the romance alive after the honeymoon is long over. “I think you have to pay daily attention to your relationship and take care of it if you want it to last,” I opined.
“Yes, it’s like a seasonal garden, you must tend to it,” one guest added.
“You’ve got to weed that sucker, too,” Jill muttered.
“I think I’ll save a bite for Princess,” I said as I squirmed and wondered if I was a weed or a rose. I shoved a few choice bites of prime rib aside on my plate.
“I knew you loved her!” Jill exclaimed.

I didn’t disagree with her. If there is one thing I’ve learned living with a teacher, it’s to never talk back. Even Rusty knows that.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Noble Choice

Crazy Train (of thought)

Linley had her first co-ed party Friday night. We received a phone call from a concerned parent who knew our household did not include boys. “Do you know how to handle boys?” was the question for Jill. She gave reassurance, hung up and told me about the call. “Just like I handle Princess,” I said. Establish myself as the pack lead, I thought. “What,” Linley, who heard the conversation, chimed in, “you going to make them poop on command?”

Meagan and I were returning home in her car when she reached up to turn on the interior light to look at something. Some sort of slim was stuck to her finger. She shook her hand but the glistening booger-like substance wouldn’t budge. “Get it off, get it off!” she started screaming, flailing about wildly behind the wheel. “It’s your job!” I swear I saw the slime glow in the dashboard light. “I quit,” I said.

During a Dad-Daughter outing I sneezed so hard I simultaneously emitted involuntary rectal thunder, if you know what I mean. “I do that, too” Meagan said, laughing so hard she almost fell over. We now call the phenomena Snartzing.

Jill was trying to print photos using the new printer I bought for her. After several minutes of complaining, pounding on it and eventually cussing at it, she asked for my help. I took one look at it, opened the paper drawer, turned the paper over, and went back to what I was doing.

Marital Bliss

So we went to the ballet to see Giselle, my favorite second only to Romeo and Juliet – which is my favorite ballet because Jill took me to see it over two years ago, just weeks after we began dating. Just before the curtains rose for Act One I looked at her and knew in that moment our love would not end in tragedy; I asked her to marry me right then and there. It has been magical every since. On this night with the kids, just before the curtains went up for Giselle, we turned to each other and smiled. And just like back then, I could not resist her, and I never shall.

Kid-bytes

So we were at the ballet to see Giselle – second row, center stage. Meagan was mesmerized; Linley wanted to know why there wasn’t any talking or singing. I think the lack thereof bothered her a great deal because she insisted on singing for us all the way home, all 25 miles of the long, long journey.

Book Report

I know I’ve been critical of critics (pardon me) lately, but indulge me one more time. There is nothing that irritates me more than someone giving a negative review on a book they have not fully read. For example, someone recently described my book “Why I Chose You” as something she wouldn’t read to her own children (she probably won’t let them play tag lest someone fall down or observe traditional rituals lest a non-observer become offended, either). Apparently she took exception to the word “chose.” Obviously, then, she didn’t read the introduction. If she did, she would have understood the book wasn’t about how one might line up a bunch of orphans like newborn puppies and pick out the cutest one to take home. It was about how people who cannot naturally have children choose to adopt. Let’s be honest, any two fertile people, and perhaps all too often those who shouldn’t, can hook up and five minutes later conceive a baby. But those who cannot conceive sometimes do make a decision to spend thousands of dollars, undergo intense scrutiny by social service agencies and sometimes foreign governments, feel their way through a legal maze that often makes no sense, and then might travel thousands of miles to receive a child they have never laid eyes on. They chose to give a home to a child who had none. If this critic can’t see that that choice is a noble one, then I’ll step aside and let her take it up with the 75,000 people who bought the book. They got it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Where are we?

Crazy Train (of thought)

To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.

Sure, all authors loath negative reviews. But I manage to dismiss them when I see the critic can’t spell correctly.

A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

Marital Bliss

Please join me in a prayer. After Jill reads this post, I’m going to need all the good favor I can get.

Kid-bytes

Each woman in my house awakens at a different time – Meagan at 6:15, Jill at 6:30 and Linley at 6:45. Jill and Linley are on the second floor, and Meagan’s bedroom is on the third. I rise at 6:10 and go to the kitchen on the first floor where I start the coffee, make breakfast, pack Jill’s lunch, pre-heat the cars, check the weather, and take the dog out, all the while running back upstairs to make sure each has gotten out of bed at the appointed time (this is why I have awesome calves). Meagan has recently taken to snoozing and becomes annoyed with me when I open the door and poke my head in to tell her to get up. So this morning, after days of being greeted with grumpy teenager noise, I elected not to go wake my little angel. At 7:05, when she usually appears downstairs, I called her on the intercom to find out why she was running late, only to find out she was still asleep. Guess what she asked? “Why didn’t you wake me up?” Like I’ve said before, this is why the wine guy at Whole Foods knows me by name and grape.

Book Report

Another installment from my column in-process, The Front Porch Chronicles:

My wife is a wonderful treasure by any measure, except for one flaw everyone knows about but to which she cannot admit. She cannot navigate her way out of a cardboard box. This flaw came as a surprise to me when I first discovered it. We were headed out on our first road trip, a long journey to visit my cousin in the mountains of West Virginia and then onward to her best friend’s new home in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a trip neither of us had taken before, so it was a trip that required use of a map and turn by turn directions.

Jill is an organized woman. She keeps files in her car trunk of lesson plans and worksheets for her students. She keeps files on her desk filled with receipts, itineraries, and bills to pay, and a calendar on the wall that she updates every afternoon as the kids reveal to us their last minute plans. When she announced she was going to serve as navigator on this trip, I settled back on the porch with Rusty, reassured my organized wife would find the most expedient route and perhaps even make notes about things like where to stop for hot buttermilk biscuits or see the largest ball of hair ever collected from a shower drain.

When she came onto the porch and showed me her folder marked “Directions,” I was impressed. I looked at Rusty, patted him on the head and said, “This is good. All I have to do is drive.” Little did I know what challenges awaited me.

The morning of our departure arrived. We rose early, loaded the vehicle and pulled away from the house. I waved at Rusty as we passed the front porch and Jill sipped coffee, confidently clutching her folder. Approaching the exit of our neighborhood, I asked my navigator what to do. She smiled broadly, sat up straight, opened the folder, and then to my horror, read every step of the directions. I don’t mean a few turns in Atlanta, I mean all the way to Cleveland. When she finished, she put the folder away, reclined her car seat, and fell asleep. For the next several hours and hundreds of miles, I was on my own.

When she finally woke up, the first words out of her mouth were, “Where are we?” A navigator, indeed.

This scene has been repeated over and over again. Before each road trip Jill announces she is going to navigate. Before each road trip, I find some alone time to study a map, write down directions, and hide them for the time that is certain to come, when she has fallen asleep soon after the seat warmer has done its job. Before we leave home, I serve her decaf coffee to make sure she falls into slumber more quickly, before we get lost.

Even the girls have picked up our navigator’s shortcoming. While on summer vacation we were walking to a seafood joint Jill had chosen for lunch. With a map in hand she had obtained from the hotel, she reassured us “it is just around the corner.” After we had walked a half-hour the girls started to complain. Jill kept waving the map, saying “it’s just right ahead,” and held up her fingers separated about half-an-inch to show us how much further on the map. After another fifteen minutes I insisted for a chance to see the map. It turns out a quarter-inch equals a mile. The girls and I promptly hailed a taxi.

Just a few weeks ago I took the family for a weekend getaway to an inn in Savannah where we have been several times before, where we were married for gosh sakes. Jill wanted to “navigate” to show us that her sense of direction improves when she is going to a familiar destination. The girls in the back seat laughed and I pretended to cough. As my darling wife scolded us for teasing her and insisted I not make a turn unless she told me to, we drove right past the inn. My navigator didn’t realize it until we had driven nearly all the way through town. It was almost like driving around with my mother.

They say the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. I don’t think my navigator is to that point yet, so in the mean time I’ll continue to drive and navigate. You just go to sleep, honey, and I’ll wake you when we get there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Success

Crazy Train (of thought)

I’m struggling a bit trying to get a few extra plates spinning in the air, hoping to expand my base by writing a column, doing more photography, as well as working on new books projects with my agent. At times I am disappointed, like when I get a rejection phone call or email. But then, in the same morning, I get a little encouragement. These three statements came to me from friends within an hour of each other:

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles one has overcome while trying to succeed.”

"Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful."

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm"

Thanks guys! Perseverance worked the first time; I hope it will work again. Onward ho!

Last night Jill was watching a reality show featuring a woman who wore only the color pink and even dyed her little dog hot pink. She was complaining about never being married. Is it really a mystery why she hasn’t been?

When Meagan told me her cat is sick and her mom is taking it to the vet, I asked if they were going to get a CAT scan. I thought it was a reasonable question.

Marital Bliss

Well we are back into our winter routine – I get up early and start the space heater in the bathroom for Jill, and later, start her car to warm it for her delicate buns. She wonders why I don’t get as cold as she does. Perhaps it is because I’m running around everywhere trying to raise the temperature to summer.

Kid-bytes

The girls decorated the house for a Halloween party they are co-hosting tomorrow. There is blood on the windows, hay and pumpkins everywhere, and too many things taped to the walls, which can only mean once the party is over, I’m going to have to do some touchup on the sheetrock. AM I upset? Not really. I take delight in seeing them have so much fun together. What I am worried about is Saturday morning when I wake up and there are 18 girls asleep but who need awakening for breakfast. That’s a lot of grumpy.

Book Report

I get some nasty-grams once in a while from people who don’t like my happy world view, and then a really sweet one comes along that makes me forget all the ugly stuff, like this one:

“I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your book 'Why a daughter needs a dad'. I found this book one month before he died and gave it to him. Age had taken a toll on his mind and we were no longer able to carry on long conversations; he could only process short sentences and his memory was failing. Your book was perfect for both of us because it helped us to both remember specific reasons why we have had such an unbreakable bond. He couldn’t read the whole book on his own so the day before he died I finished reading it to him – it was one of the most comforting things I could do for both of us. Now, after his death, it still comforts me as I read it almost every night. Thank you for writing such a touching book.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Front Porch Chronicles

I’m trying to start a newspaper column. I’m thinking of calling it the Front Porch Chronicles. Here is what I hope to be the debut; let me know what you think:

Welcome to my front porch, the place where I sit to relax with my family, chat with neighbors, and reflect on life in general. It is a real porch, one outfitted with seating for four, a coffee table for serving brunch or wine and cheese, an iron statue of a dog I’ve named Rusty, and an end table featuring a lamp that stays on late into the night, welcoming passersby who succumb to the temptation to walk up onto the porch to sit for a while. Here, everyone is welcome.

It is from this porch that I find inspiration as an author, taking note of what is said or what I see in the community park before me and on the sidewalk passing before the front steps of my neighbors’ homes on this cul-de-sac where we live. It is where my wife and I read the newspaper, talk about our children and our hopes for their lives, and spend time simply lingering in each other’s company. It is where we laugh out loud with, listen to the worries of and have meaningful conversations with our two daughters. It is where our neighbors sit and share their life stories and major announcements, leftover meals, and sometimes their tears.

Recently my wife and I invited a neighbor to relax on the front porch with us and watch the sun go down. We chatted about this and that, exchanging news (all right, gossiping) about others in the neighborhood. To make sure we knew who each were talking about, we gave every house a name. There’s the Party House, Playboy House, Dog House, Disco House, Mystery House, and among others, ours, the Newlywed House.

We bought our home two years ago when my wife and I married, blending our families into one in a home where we all could have a fresh start together. It’s called the Newlywed House because my wife and I are so often seen cuddled together on the loveseat on the front porch, much to the apparent life threatening embarrassment of our daughters, but that is another story altogether.

The other homes on the cul-de-sac are so named for what seem to us to be obvious reasons. For example, it was at the Party House that another neighbor and I watched our wives dancing on the kitchen counter and then easily agreed the martini shaker was a worthwhile investment. But no matter what the house is nicknamed, all are the homes of our neighbors, our friends.

Perhaps it is because we live on a cul-de-sac or maybe it is the time we spend together in the park where we watch children romp and play fetch with our dogs, but our neighbors really are our friends. And I don’t mean casual acquaintances, I mean the kind of friends with whom you exchange house keys, to whom you lend your car or borrow a stick of butter, even if it means going into their refrigerator when they are not at home. The kind of friends that watch out for your children when you aren’t looking, who grab your newspaper from the sidewalk and toss it onto the porch when you aren’t at home, or who rescue your mail on a rainy day if they see it sticking out of the mailbox.

It is from these moments I observe while sitting on my porch that I find material to write about. My writing is auto-biographical, sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous, but always based on events or conversations that have actually happened. In my books, and now in this column, I share stories about my family and friends, ponder out loud about what perplexes me, and, I hope, occasionally cause my readers to reflect on their own lives and stir them to embrace those they love a little tighter.

My front porch is also where I now and then spend time alone with Rusty, worrying about the things that keep a father and husband awake while everyone else in the house is asleep and peacefully dreaming about shoes. It is where I think about the life I’ve led, the sins I’ve committed, the things I want to make right, the work I have left to do, and wonder how much longer I might have on this Earth to get to it all. And in the end, I suppose, that is why I write - so that in case I can’t get to everything, you will know that at the very least, I meant to.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Christmas Story

Crazy Train (of thought)

Your choices, not your chances, determine your destiny.

In a negative situation, choose to act rather than to react, taking sufficient time to select a course of action based upon calm reason and thoughtful prayer.

Yesterday Jill and I hiked down a gorge to view a waterfall from the base looking up. It was indeed beautiful. The only problem was the 1200 steps we had to climb to get out.

Marital Bliss

Another poem for my wife, my little bit of heaven:

When I think of you…
a smile comes to my face,
a song springs from my mouth,
my heart yearns for your touch,
and my pace quickens to carry me
nearer to you.

When I think of you…
I feel heaven’s own blessing,
I say thanks for your gift,
I become inspired to please you,
and I fall into dreams that lead me
nearer to you.

When I think of you…
your grace overcomes me,
your beauty moves me,
memories of your kisses warm me,
and thoughts of your love
make me want only
to be nearer to you.

When I think of you…
all that I want is to be
is nearer to you.

Kid-bytes

Although the kids weren’t with us for much of last week, we stayed in touch by phone and text messages. Sometimes in the emails I receive from readers I hear the worst stories about parents after a divorce; the mom or dad that practically forgets about the child or goes on to start a new life that does not includes their child in a significant degree, if at all. This is a phenomenon I don’t understand. Jill and I keep our children in our hearts, minds, and in our plans at all times. I may be fairly accused of a few things I’m not particularly proud of, but one will never be the failure to let the kids know I love them.

Book Report

Another of the fine stories I received recently as I collected true stories in praise of fathers, told by their children:

“On Christmas Eve when I was seven years old, my Dad wanted me to go for a ride with him somewhere. I didn't want to go because I had all these great presents at the house awaiting me for the next day, but because he insisted, I went along for the ride. As we drove he explained to me we were going to a friend’s house to help feed the animals. We lived in Illinois so it was extremely cold that night. My father’s friend was a farmer who had just had a heart attack and couldn't get out to feed his animals. That night in the freezing cold my Dad and I fed the animals for him. On the ride home he looked at me and said, ‘Now, son, that is what Christmas is all about.’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Neither can I.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Best of....

I've been rereading old posts and decided to give you a sample of the best:

Funny Stuff

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.

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

Don’t you hate it even more when you poot right in the middle of an ab crunch?

When Jill wakes me up to tell me she has had a nightmare about someone kidnapping Princess, I fight back the urge to cheer.

My wife insists that ice is a rock, thus explaining the term “on the rocks.” This is why I do all the cooking at our house.

Jill thinks Princess is a genius dog. If so, why does she come when I call out “Mayonnaise!”?

Last night my neighbor and I watched our wives dancing on the kitchen counter. We easily agreed the martini shaker was a worthwhile investment.

Meagan had a little talk with me about posting the details of her bodily functions. I promised not to identify HER bodily functions in the future. In the future, if it is necessary to write about a bodily function, I will attribute the function to Somebody, who could be anybody.

It rained yesterday and was cold, too. I was driving around town with the windows closed up tight and the heater going to keep the interior warm and toasty for all. Somebody farted and nearly killed me.

Family Stuff

“How does deja-vu work?” Meagan asked.
“It’s a neurological glitch, when the right and left hemispheres are not synchronized when encoding a memory,” I explained.
“What?” Linley asked, as Meagan rolled her eyes at me.
“Memories are stored on both sides of your brain. Do you know what that part of the brain that connects the hemispheres is called?”
“Juicy stuff?” Meagan said.
The badulla,” Jill interjected.
I rolled my eyes. “No, it’s the corpus callosum. It connects the hemispheres and coordinates the transfer of…,” I continued.
“I prefer to think it’s magical,” Jill said.
“Yes, it’s magical!” Linley shrieked.
“You’re such a freak, Dad,” Meagan concluded.

Meagan Stuff

Meagan is just seven weeks away from getting her license. Although she drives pretty well, she still has a few things to master, like judging how close she is driving to the curb. I told her several times yesterday to move toward the center of the lane, and she told me I was worried about nothing. Just then she slammed into a curb. As the Rover began its second revolution of a triple axel, I saw the hot lava of coffee erupting over the rim of my cup. In the corner of my eye I saw a sign in front of a church that said “The end is near.” I heard myself screaming like a girl when I realized my boys were covered in lava. Then I heard Meagan laughing as she managed to regain control of the car.
“Dad, you look like you wet your pants,” she said.
“I told you,” I managed to say through clenched teeth.
“Let’s not tell anybody about that,” she suggested.
Yeah, let’s not.

Linley Stuff

Linley, her friend and I were in the car going home from the pool. Just as we were leaving the parking lot I looked out the window and saw a snake. “Look, a snake,” I said.
“Greg, that’s a stick or something,” Linley said.
“No Linley, it’s a snake.”
“I think it’s a crack in the concrete.”
“It’s a snake; I’ll show you.” I got out of the car and poked it, and it crawled away.
“You just had to prove to me you were right, didn’t you?” Linley said as I got back behind the wheel.
“Yes, I had to make sure you knew the difference between a snake and a crack.”
“It’s not like I’m going to go around poking my finger in strange cracks,” she said.
There was a moment of awkward silence – then her friend in the back seat said, “Well I certainly hope not.”

Jill Stuff

Jill and I landed Saturday evening reservations at one of Atlanta’s hottest new restaurants, a gourmet Mexican place. She loves Mexican and southwestern food. Saturday afternoon I went with her to a medical appointment, one that had her bit nervous. Being a good husband, I rubbed her shoulders and went through some relaxation techniques with her, including visualization. After she said she was feeling relaxed I asked her what she had thought about. “Fresh guacamole,” she said.

Dog Stuff

I think Princess and I have one thing in common – neither wants the other around. I believe this because yesterday after returning home from a hard workout at the gym, I decided to soak in the tub. I had almost fallen asleep when I heard something bumping across the tile bathroom floor. I looked over and saw Princess dragging a hair dryer toward me.

Have a great weekend my friends!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Slither

Crazy Train (of thought)

Sorry about the delay this morning, have been fast at work on a project due in a few minutes!

Love is taking the extra step to make life more meaningful!

Being a great parent is like being a great athlete - quitting is not an option.

Last night Jill and I were on our evening walk, this time with Princess in tow. As we meandered down the street Jill saw an 8-inch garden snake slither across the pavement. She screamed, scooped up Princess and started yelling something to me about a boa constrictor. I wish. If it were so I’d let that dog take a few strolls on her own.

Kid-bytes

Meagan has convinced herself she can sleep an extra fifteen minutes each morning and still get to school on time. The problem is she hasn’t shaved fifteen minutes off her get ready routine, so she is in a mad rush once she exits her bed. To compensate, she has asked me each morning this week to serve her breakfast in her room, which is on the third floor of a house with 12-foot ceilings; quite a climb. As I complained this morning and insisted I wasn’t going to keep this up, she reminded me, “You want to walk 10,000 steps a day, don’t you?” Touché.

Book Report

A critic made this comment about my book, Brothers and Sisters:

“This sentimental look at the relationships between siblings, particularly brothers and sisters, applauds all the positives with little mention of the negatives. The author, one of five children, four boys and one girl, begins the book by briefly describing his early years as part of a growing family. He even states that his parents had a fifth child, the only girl, because he suggested it. The remainder of the book features black-and-white photos taken by the author, accompanied by brief descriptions on the joy of being a brother or sister such as "brothers and sisters share a bond found nowhere else" or "brothers and sisters are there for each other, no exceptions." While the book may provide encouragement for families, especially blending families, its rose-colored-glasses approach denies the complexity and challenges of sibling relationships.”

I have this to say: Hello, it is a gift book, not a psych textbook. Who would buy a gift book that says “be warned, life with siblings sometimes sucks.” Is it fair to order pound cake and then complain it doesn’t taste like tiramisu? Know what you’re reading, Critic. And may a big nasty bug crawl up in your bloomers. And to be polite, let me add I’m sorry that your memories of your sibs are not as pleasant as mine.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Goodness and Mercy

Crazy Train (of thought)

Returning home from the gym last night in the rain Jill and I walked up on the front porch and saw wet paw prints near the front door. Jill panicked, dropped the house keys and screamed, “Oh my God, wild animals are stalking our house!” Just then an itty-bitty kitten yelped from behind a Halloween pumpkin and she then nearly passed out. I think my lady is wound a bit too tight.

Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects, so go ahead and laugh your rear end off.

Those who succeed in self-righteousness fail in self-assessment.

Jill and I are walking at least 10,000 steps a day. Using a pedometer from the time I get out of bed, I can tell at any time how close I am to that goal. We usually exceed it, sometimes walking over 13,000 steps. Today I have been tied to the desk writing and have walked only 650 steps in 8 hours. I guess that’s why sometimes I look svelte and other times like a bloated water buffalo.

If I could say only one thing about the Amish people, it would be that they embody goodness and mercy. Look at how well they are treating the wife and children of the man who shot the Amish children. The Amish, my friends, most certainly practice what they preach. They are indeed a fine model for all of us.

Marital Bliss

I cooked a pesto pasta with roasted chicken for dinner, shaved Parmesan cheese on top, and served my Jill a plate when she came home from work. We chatted about this and that, reviewed our schedules, made plans for tomorrow, and eventually left the table. She slipped out of her shoes, grabbed a magazine and plopped into the club chair to relax. I cleared the table, put away the leftovers, and began to wash the dishes. As I stood at the sink with my hands in soapy water I watched her snicker at what she was reading, her foot jiggling on the ottoman and her fingers running through her hair as she held the magazine in better light. She must have felt my stare and looked up at me. “Thanks for dinner, honey. I love you,” she said before returning her attention to the magazine. It was brief, it was squeezed in between paragraphs, but it was all I needed. It is all I ever need, to know that I have the love of my wife. With it, I can do anything.

Kid-bytes

In Meagan’s Bible class they are working on using the Bible as a guide for living, in particular, having successful relationships. She was given a worksheet to complete, one that asked her to rate her family on several characteristics. She read it and her responses to me last night and the exercise nearly brought tears to my eyes, and certainly joy to my heart. She rated the four of us in such a way that she scored “A highly functional, loving and supportive family.” This is significant to me because she lived 14 of her 16 years as an only child, a Daddy’s Princess, and adjusting to our household has sometimes been a challenge, especially in the first year of my marriage. Yet last night she was telling me how she loves her family, that she enjoys being a “big sister,” having our own new traditions, and spending time together as we do on our road trips (the “bonding exercises” as Jill and I call them). She even said it is important to her that we all eat together (my home cooked meals, of course); something that doesn’t seem to happen in homes today as often as it once did. I guess it just goes to show you; in the end something good always prevails. In the end, Jill and I have constructed a family, one that we are proud of.

Book Report

So many people have responded to my request for stories about their fathers. I’m touched by the genuine affection sons and daughters have for their dads, and their desire to honor him by telling his life story. Here’s a short example:

“I’ve learned lots of lessons from my Dad, but the one that first comes to mind is about "personal responsibility". Unlike what happened for many of my friends, Dad didn’t buy me my first car. All he agreed to do was co-sign the loan on a used junker of an automobile, proving to me that I'd have to work for anything that I wanted in my life, nothing would be given to me, therefore instilling a sense of respect for my property as well as the property of others, and a responsibility for the safekeeping of that property. None of us deserve anything; we must earn everything.”

Funny, my Dad did the same for me, although at the time, I thought it was “to” me. Time has a way of helping you to see the light, doesn’t it?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

# 150

Crazy Train (of thought)

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

God never asks about our ability or our inability - just our availability.

We were in Savannah over the weekend and attended church where the minister who married Jill and I presides. It was warm and I began to sweat a little before we got there. Upon arriving he came out to greet us and I gave him a hug. Worried about my soggy shirt, I said, “Pardon me, I’m moist.” He pulled back, looked at me with worry, and said, “I didn’t need to know that.”

Should I be worried that the girls agree our neighborhood sometimes feels a little like Wisteria Lane?

While in Savannah at our favorite B&B we met folks from Texas, DC, New York, Connecticut, Oregon and Pennsylvania. I think they all come to Georgia for the grits.

On the way to Savannah, where we were scheduled to go on a ghost tour one night, the girls watched Scream on the DVD to “get ready” for being scared. Apparently it didn’t work for Linley. During the tour I pointed to an el-cheapo cardboard witch in the window of a home we passed. She screamed so loud Jill nearly fainted.

We roamed River Street for an hour looking for the best selection of jelly beans. It seems average beans wouldn’t work. Meagan wanted Blueberry Muffin and Bubble Gum flavored beans, and Linley wanted some Raccoon and Booger flavored ones. I elected not to sample any of them.

Jill was supposed to navigate as we drove to spots in Savannah we had never been to, but as usual, she got us lost. After I pointed out she was not doing a good job she decided to show me – she pointed out every stop sign and green light in our path. It was almost like driving with my mother.

Marital Bliss

Jill and I got up early Saturday morning, walked 5 miles under the Spanish moss laden oak trees, speculated on who lived in the old southern mansions we passed, made our way back to the B&B where we ate a great breakfast, then read two newspapers while sitting in the sun in the parlor. She kept looking over the paper at the fireplace and would smile. “Something wrong?” I finally asked. “No, just remembering the best day of my life,” she said. We were sitting next to the exact spot, the cozy little place between the fireplace and the Christmas tree that once stood there, where we were married almost two years ago. I’ve got such a great wife.

Kid-bytes

On our first evening there, after driving over five hours to the inn, I expected the girls to be worn out and wanting to rush to bed. Instead, to my great pleasure, they crawled into our bed, turned on the tube and opened a box of chocolates to have some dessert. We talked for hours about this and that, laughed a lot and generally had a grand time. I finally had to run them off so Jill and I could get some sleep. This is why we like getting the kids away from home – it also means away from email, ipods, friends and other distractions that interrupt family time. Their undistracted company is worth every penny it takes to take them on a trip.

Book Report

I’m collecting father-child stories for a project I’m working on, and already so many have convinced me I am working on a worthy topic. I received this one (I think written with a little help from Mom, and that’s part of its charm) and had to share it, I thought it so touching an example of a father’s affection in spite of distance:

“I am ten years old and my father lives 800 miles away. My dad has scheduled a time for us to do my math homework together over the speaker phone. My math teacher has a web site, so my dad can log onto it and see the assignments I have each night. Although my dad and I are doing these boring math assignments, I appreciate and love him for making sure that I understand my homework, and that he is there to support me, even if he is far away.”

Friday, October 13, 2006

Booger Bunny

Crazy Train (of thought)

The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up somebody else.

While attempting a personal best at the gym the guys were yelling “Do it!”, “Don’t stop!”, “Come on, come on!” and other such ballyhoo. When I finally quit just short of my goal I looked up at my comrades and in between gulping breaths managed to say “If yelling at me worked my first wife might have been a lot happier.”

While sitting at a red light I watched a slow moving and elderly lady driving a land yacht giving the middle finger to an impatient kid behind her blowing the horn to his little tricked out junker. It made my day.

I’ve complained so much to the Homeowners Board about people running the stop signs in the ‘hood they appointed me Safety Officer. Jill thinks it’s our opportunity to require all to wear reflective gear when they walk at night. Sorry ‘hon, they didn’t ask me to make a public fool of myself.

Book Report

In my most recently released book, “Simple Acts: Creating Happiness for Yourself and Those You Love”, I talk about doing the simple little things that bring smiles to the faces of those you love, using every opportunity to make sure someone has a great day and a reason to smile. Wanting to practice what I preach, I left a note on Meagan’s windshield this morning. It said “I love my little booger bunny.” Weird, I know, but I also know she smiled when she found it, she told her friends at school about it, she will mention it tonight at dinner, and she will save it. She may even tell my grandchild about it one day. See, a sheet of paper and about three seconds, and a memory that could last a lifetime. Have you made any memories today? If not, it isn’t too late.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Role Reversal

Crazy Train (of thought)

Failure is not the end; it is the teacher for a new beginning. Failure isn’t falling down; it’s staying down.

As I was walking through the neighborhood Laura pulled up in her car as she was leaving for work. She rolled her window down and hung her hand out to wave at me. I strode over to chat and stood alongside the door of her car. Moments later a second car entered the neighborhood and I stepped closer to Laura to make sure my big butt wasn’t hanging out in the street. As I did, I looked down and saw that Laura was unwittingly within millimeters of squeezing my grapes. The second car passed, the driver wagging a scolding finger at me, and at almost the same time a third car, waiting behind Laura, drove around us and exited the neighborhood, this driver laughing hysterically. What an exciting life I lead.

Marital Bliss

Another little poem I wrote for Blue Mountain Arts, inspired, or course, by my darling wife…

Each time I think of you
I remember how you always make sure
That those you love are taken care of,
That everyone feels special because of you.
Thank you for being you.

You never take more than you give, and
You always find a way to spread cheer.
You are determined to take care of
The hearts that are dear to you.
Thank you for being you.

I am grateful that you are my friend,
Happy that you spend time with me,
Appreciative that I can count on you,
And honored that you call me a friend, too.
Thank you for being you.

You touch the lives of those you meet,
You give us inspiration in all that you do,
And you never let us down.
We are stronger with you at our side.
Thank you for being you.

After each visit with you, I know that
I am so much the richer because of you.
I want to let you know how very much
I admire you, and to say once more,
Thank you for being you.

Kid-bytes

“Would you stop rolling your window up and down?”
“I can’t decide if I’m hot or cold.”
“What are you doing in my glove box?”
“I’m just looking, geezzzz.
“Well get out, it’s my stuff.”
“I hate this channel.”
“Did you ask me before changing that?”
“Sorry (laugher).”
“Stop playing with all the buttons!”
“Pay back is hell, ain’t it?” I teased Meagan as I adjusted the passenger power seat back and forth about twenty times.
“Yeah, but I didn’t treat your car this way,” she said, exasperated with me.
“Oh, yes you did, and I’m not finished here yet.”

You thought I was driving, didn’t you?

Book Report

At the risk of being redundant, I am soon to undertake a project that will require me to reach out to others like you who enjoy my writing. When the deal is signed I’ll give you the details, but for now, I need your help. If you have an email distribution list you can share with me, I would be grateful. Please just send me an email with all your friends in the cc section. I’ll add them to my database and they will then also receive the announcement and request for true family stories when the time is right. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The One in the Middle

Crazy Train (of thought)

Only you know why you do what you do - or do you?

No, I don’t feel sorry for Greg Mason. He knew what fruitcake he was getting into - Bridezilla Tart.

Why do I love Atlanta? Here’s one reason – today I chatted at the mailbox with my Polish neighbor, had my glasses adjusted by an Italian optometrist, received an annual physical from a Chinese physician, ate lunch at a Korean restaurant, signed up for a sauce class with a French chef, was checked out at the grocery store by an Ethiopian woman, and was nearly run over in the parking lot by a sweet old Indian lady. Well, perhaps I could have done without that last one.

After two years of marriage I still can’t get Jill to either close a door or open it all the way against the wall. She says it must be a boy thing. Of course it is, my dear. We have these things called testicles and God never intended for them to come into contact with a door knob at full speed in the middle of the night.

After careful, rigorous and consistent behavior modification training, I can now make Princess poop on command. Really. And Jill now calls me The Dog Intimidator.

Marital Bliss

When you want your woman to bring you a bushel of kisses, write her a poem. I sent this one to work with Jill, tucked in her lunch bag along with her leftover chicken empanadas and turnip greens:

Your love has intoxicated me.
Like the smell of your skin,
it lingers and delights my senses.
Your heart calls out to me,
and it pours forth its affection.
Your devotion graces me,
And my heart is softened
by your longing for me.
Your eyes shine like the stars in a dark sky;
your mouth tastes of nectar,
and your embrace is the welcome trap
that has caught me.
I care for your love alone;
my heart yearns for you,
and I will not escape from your trap.
My desire is to be with you,
your arm resting upon my arm,
your hand in my hand,
my heart drunken by your love.

Kid-bytes

The conversation between Meagan and me last night:

“I really like this guy, Dad.”
“Is he smart?”
“Well, he’s not Forrest Gump.”
“Is he a midget?”
“No, he’s 5’9”.”
“Is he religious?”
“Why does it matter?”
“I’m just wondering what role I’ll have in the wedding.”
“What wedding? I just met this guy!”
“So you are going to marry a stranger?”
“I’m not getting married, we’re just dating.”
“So you are using him for entertainment purposes.”
“Which gas should I get?”
“Regular.”
“Really? I always buy the one in the middle.”
“The one in the middle?”
“Yeah, the one that’s more than regular but not quite as much as Super.”
“And you wonder why I worry about your mate selection skills.”
“Why do you worry?”
“I’d like to have decent grandchildren some day.”
“Oh, I’m picking up what you putting down.”

Book Report

Today I turned in my seventeenth book. Sometimes I just can’t believe how fortunate I am, that I’ve been given the opportunity to say what is on my mind so many times. I now hope the books continue to touch people for years to come, that love, family and faith never go out of fashion, or worse, that we lose the freedom to express these emotions without first having to get government permission or look over our shoulders to make sure the censorship spies aren’t listening.

And for those who are interested, the News page of my website has been update and now includes copies of the articles in which I have been featured. Just click on the title to see the one that interests you.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

When an Angel calls

Crazy Train (of thought)

The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.

My sister sent me a photo of a naked obese person on a stool, her butt painted to look like a jack-o-lantern. It made me throw up a little in my mouth.

Jill was watching the Dog Whisperer, an episode about a dog named Prada (first bad sign) whose owner was convinced the mutt was depressed so she sent the dog to a therapist and an acupuncturist. “See how much she loves her dog?” Jill asked. “See how stupid her husband is?” I retorted. Honey, when Princess needs acupuncture, I think I can do it at home with those old hat pins.

Jill was editing my newest book last night to make sure it was ready to send to the publisher this morning. She fell asleep in the middle of her assignment. Is that a bad sign?

Marital Bliss

Digging through my archives I found this little poem I wrote for Jill back when I was still traveling and spending half my life in an Ohio hotel room (so glad those days are over!):

When I go to bed
I wish it were with you.
If not for my sweet dreams of you,
I would not find rest in my sleep.

But in my slumber I dream
of your sweet kisses,
and I taste your lips.
I dream of your face
and I see your lovely smile.
I dream of your embrace,
and I feel your warm touch.

I wake up thinking about you.
If you were with me now,
It would be my sweet dreams come true.

Kid-bytes

As I sit writing this my phone beeps and I see I have a text message – it is from Meagan. It begins with “I love you.” Now that’s how an angel starts your day.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Free and Brave

Crazy Train (of thought)

Someone asked me to write their wedding vows. Now that’s a sweet compliment!

To be disdainful is to be distasteful.

Jill and I decorated the front porch for Halloween this weekend, complete with a skeleton hanging off the second floor porch over the walkway to the front door. I know it’s very scary – Jill screamed like she was dying when she walked outside hours later and the foot brushed against her hair.

I read an article in the paper this weekend (sorry, can’t find it to tell you who the columnist was) where someone was talking about how Americans have become afraid of offending others to the point of being willing to allow injury to ourselves before standing up in defense of ourselves. He concluded saying “in the land of the free and the brave, you must indeed be both, for freedom without bravery soon comes to an end. Bravo!

Marital Bliss

What is bliss? My lovely and I spend every possible minute together this weekend hiking, shopping, cleaning house, reading the paper, attending the fan club convention, decorating for Halloween, visiting with neighbors, discussing our budget, doing laundry, and so much more, with nothing but smiles on our faces. I’ve never met anyone I could spend that much continuous time with and have neither of us get a little annoyed with the other. As you might have noticed, nowhere on my list of our activities did I mention doing anything with Princess. Like I said, we are talking about bliss here.

Kid-bytes

I’m excited – Linley and Meagan return home tomorrow. There will be music in our house again!

Book Report

Recent reader mail:

“Thanks for writing your wonderful book ‘Why A Daughter Needs A Mom’. My daughter gave me your book for my birthday and highlighted portions and underlined others. It helped an already great book become even more loving and enjoyed by me! All the lovely things you wrote about brought back memories of all the fun, fears and tears of raising my two daughters alone. We shared so much while they were growing up, and continue to every day. All those wonderful and sometimes painful times helped me raise two of the nicest people I've ever known! I admit I may be a bit prejudiced in this regard, but they are both very much loved by most anyone they come in contact with.”

Nothing like a proud Momma.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Weeding

Crazy Train (of thought)

I feel more like I do now than I did a minute ago.

A coincidence is a small miracle where God prefers to remain anonymous.

At a party not long ago someone took a picture of me kissing Jill. Somehow sweet Allison got her hands on it and had a mouse pad made with it. It sits on my desk now. Jill sees the precious love we share, and I see that my neck needs liposuction.

John Karr might have been released from jail, but he’s not free. Who is going to hire that guy, or let him live next door? Yep, he’s in solitary confinement.

Marital Bliss

So a few of us were coming home after dinner last night when a conversation about keeping the romance alive started. “I just think you have to pay attention to your relationship and take care of it if you want it to last,” I said.
“Yes, it’s like a garden, you must tend to it,” someone added.
“Exactly,” chimed in another, “you have to fertilize it.”
“You gotta weed that sucker, too,” someone muttered.
I don’t know what was said after that; I couldn’t hear through the laughter.

Kid-bytes

Sometimes Meagan and I text sweet nothings or insults to each other just for fun. The other day I stated out calling her pumpkin, fructose and eventually dextrose. Somehow I ended up calling her mucous cranium. I wonder why I haven’t heard back from her.

Book Report

I recently received this from a loyal blog reader:

“Yesterday’s blog was especially meaningful to me because of your thoughts of living one day longer than Jill. This September was my 5 year cancer survival anniversary. As I was preparing for my colonoscopy my thoughts drifted to the possibility that the cancer had returned (it has not), that this might be it, and I remembered thinking back to my diagnosis 5 years ago and feeling that if this was God’s will and if I did not survive, at least I would be the one waiting at the gates of heaven for my husband and not the other way around. The thought of being here on earth even one day without him is unbearable.”

I know the feeling. That’s why I squeeze Jill so tight before I let her get out of bed each morning.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Intervention

Crazy Train (of thought)

Some turd-head removed one of the Support Our Troops magnets from my truck. What has happened to patriotism? Have we forgotten? Does no one recall the freedoms we all enjoy were fought for by SOLDIERS on our behalf? I think I’ll replace that magnet with two more just like it.

My dad used to tease us that he had a girlfriend named Mary Magdalene Howasy Hazelton and he carried a “photo” of her in his wallet; it was a bubble gum card of the One-eyed One-horned Purple People Eater. He used it to keep us in line; he threatened to have her come take us away in the middle of the night if we didn’t mind him. I think that is why I don’t chew gum and can’t stand the sound of someone who is.

The hardest part about working out at the gym is getting myself there. It’s all downhill on Easy Street after that.

I’m on my second draft of the keynote address I’m supposed to give at the fan club convention this weekend and I’m still not satisfied with it. I’m afraid Alicia, a school teacher, is going to correct my grammar in front of everybody. Maybe I’ll just blame it on the southern drawl.

As the artist and art connoisseur of the family, when it comes time to redecorate anything the task usually falls to me. We recently decided to buy new tableware and linens and I set out to find the perfect textures and colors to go with our kitchen. On my third trip to a particular store the same clerk who had helped me the two prior visits helped again. Feeling comfortable with me she became quite chatty looking for the linen hemstitch napkins in the copper color I had asked for. As she went on and on about my taste I could tell she thought I was an interior decorator of an alternate persuasion, so when she came out with the napkins I promptly spit in an umbrella stand and adjusted my crotch before asking if the place mats were available in toile.

Last night while at Target Jill stood mesmerized before the display of Halloween costumes for pets. When I looked up I saw her was reaching for one of them and something happened, I just snapped. Shouting “NO!” I tackled her in the aisle before she could get her hands on the Dracula outfit. I'm going to break this compulsion of hers.

Marital Bliss

Jill, the self-appointed Safety Officer of our family, insists that we wear reflective vests on our evening walks now that the sun goes down so much earlier. I don’t care much for them and typically pitch a fit about wearing mine, explaining it makes me look silly, but wanting my wife to be happy, I submit and wear it anyway, albeit against my will. We were not more than 50 yards from our house last night when a neighbor passed us on the street, hit the brakes and pulled over, rolled down his window, leaned his head out the window and screamed at the top of his lungs, “You look so cute with your reflectors on!” Thank God he didn’t see me with the protective headgear and knee pads on, too.

Book Report

I mentioned yesterday I will need your help on a book project in the near future. Please begin to collect email addresses of friends and family who you think would enjoy my books. I’m going to reach out to all in search of personal stories that just might make their way into the new book!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Funny, ain't it?

Crazy Train (of thought)

A lot of people mistake a short memory for a clear conscience. Its funny how the brain works isn’t it?

Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.

Why can’t I find a housekeeper who will put things back where they were in the first place?

During Jill’s surprise birthday party several of our neighbors were engaged in conversation about their world travels, including one who told of having trouble finding a place to eat in London after 8:00 PM. “Yeah, and the bars close early, too,” Jill added. Stunned, I accidentally blurted out, “Then why in the home of Lucipher are we going to London for Christmas?!” I was only worried about finding dinner, I promise.

Bring your dancing shoes, Alicia!

Marital Bliss

My publisher’s mom died recently and I was told he was coping well because in spite of the pain of her loss, he knew “she was ready to be reunited with her husband.” That statement reminded me of my worst nightmare - to live more than one day longer than Jill. Giselle is my favorite ballet. It is about a woman who dies but her spirit refuses to leave her lover, and they reunite at night to dance in the woods. We have tickets for this ballet, seats on the second row orchestra section, in a few weeks. I’m sure I’ll cry, and I hope you’ll understand why.

Kid-bytes

Sunday night and Monday morning marked the end of our visitation with the girls. Each says good-bye to me in her own way - Meagan hugs and kisses me several times in the driveway before getting into her car and driving off, then shouts “I love you” to me from her open window as she pulls away. It is the moment that kills me. I know I must and should share my child with her mother, but the parting is never easy. I’m reminded of the Kenny Chesney song, There Goes My Life. Thank goodness she’ll come home in just a week.

The next morning Linley and I spend a few minutes in the car on the way to school acting like it is just any other day. As she leaves the vehicle I tell her I love her and she usually responds only with “peace out” or “see ya Big G,” but then she stands there and waves at me with a sincere smile and a warm glance that means something. Sometimes she waves twice. We’ve never discussed what this means, nor do I dare ask, but I’m happy to witness it. Its funny how the heart works isn’t it?

Book Report

I am about to embark on a large project and will need your help. Please begin to think of family and friends who you believe might like my writings and get their emails together. I’ll explain more latter when the possibilities become real. Thanks in advance!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Happy Monday

My PC is being released from the hospital today so I should be back to regular blogging Tuesday morning, which is a good thing since the President of my St. Louis fan club will be in town for the quarterly meeting this weekend. If I fall too far behind, she is sure to scold me.

Best thing I learned in church yesterday – a man doesn’t own his family, he surrenders to it in service. Think about that a while; it might change something.

As we entered the church parking lot Jill saw one of the volunteers holding a little mouse of a dog and immediately went into a discourse about why she needed another dog. Reminding her of our agreement that Princess is the last mutt we will have I promptly said “no.” Undaunted, she went on to say she was certain there was a puppy raffle to raise money for the church and we needed to buy tickets, and if we had the winning ticket, she would have to take the dog home because “we shouldn’t resist God’s will.” It took a while for Meagan to stop laughing enough for us to be allowed into the building.

Linley has been telling me she wants to eat with her fingers, so for Jill’s birthday dinner we went to a Persian restaurant where you can do just that. We sat on a Sultan’s bed covered with Persian rugs, huge ornate pillows and a table cloth in the middle where they sat plates and plates of kabobs and other Middle Eastern foods, all of which you could eat with your fingers. Magical Arabian music filled the air and belly dancers mingled between the diners to entertain us. I watched the three girls, their faces wearing a constant smile, laughter aplenty and lots of moaning as they – licked their fingers. One of the great pleasure of being a husband and dad is having the opportunity to fulfill the wishes of your wife and kids. Except when it pertains to a new dog, that is.

How do I know I live in a great neighborhood? One neighbor throws my newspaper on the porch if he knows we are away from home, another leaves her door open for Jill and I when she knows we are coming to visit but not sure when, when Jill and I try to walk our three miles in record time but it take twice as long as usual because we stop and talk so many times along the way as we pass our friends in their yards or on their own stroll. And when in October the neighbors are already asking me when I’m hosting the annual Valentine’s party and if I’m going to make that chocolate cake with gravy again (I’ll tell you one day).

I was chatting with friends at a party about how I plan get my own grocery cart so I can just run and push it to Whole Foods rather than fight with the other cars trying to find a space in the parking lot. It was then when Meagan walked up and asked how likely it was the guards at the gate were going to let a sweaty old man pushing a grocery cart into the neighborhood. She’s got a point.

Okay, that’s all for now. Back to the routine tomorrow. Have a great Monday!