Friday, May 26, 2006


A Quick Trip to Philly

The last time I went to Philadelphia was probably around 1973. I was in first or second grade and my parents decided to take my brother and I up to see Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and whatnot. It wasn't that tough of a trip since we lived in south Jersey on the shore in a little town called Barnaget Bay.

Fast-forward twenty-three years. I flew in to Philly for meetings with one of Quest's potential clients just over the state line in New Jersey. I rented a car and hopped onto the interstate and made it out to the customer site with plenty of time to spare.

After spending the afternoon with the customer and other salespeople from Quest, I headed back into Philly. I'd asked our travel department to put me up at a hotel near the airport. But for some reason, they put me up in downtown Philly. I spent quite a while trying to find my hotel, but the coolest thing about driving in the area was that I suddenly realized that I'd been here before!

Yes - I was driving along side Independence Hall, something I hadn't seen in 23 years!

It was really neat. The area had grown up quite a lot and there were some sparkling new modern museums right in the vicinity. But the feeling of deja vu was overpowering.

Do you ever get that feeling?

I used to get deja vu ever time I would try to find my car in the parking lot at the Nashville airport. Oddly, I couldn't find my car. I just felt like I'd been there before. After about the third time I lost my car, I just gave up on parking it myself and now use curbside drop off from one of the local parking lots that has a shuttle service. That way, they handle parking my car and retrieving it. All I have to do is call them to come and get me when I get off the plane.

The other thing that helps a lot with finding my car at the airport is to take fewer trips. I've cut WAY back on my travel. Not only do I get to spend more time with the kids, I also spend less time in the parking lot wondering where the heck my car is!

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Dylan and Prom

Dylan was asked to go to the prom by Mandy. He was really sweet and thoughtful as the headed out. I wonder if he knew how unusual it was for a freshman to go to the prom with a senior, even if it was only as "just friends"?

I've really been impressed by how courteous he can be. Of course, that courtesy usually isn't directed at me, his sisters, or his mom - but he really seems to be sincerely courteous most of the time, especially when making a first impression. It surprises me how important that I've come to feel this traight is to learn.

Erastus Wiman writes, "Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of the pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much. It pleases him who receives, and thus, like mercy, is twice blessed."

Bryan Davis says that courtesy is one of the simplest, yet most effective, tools a parent can teach their children to really make a positive impression on others. Dads get so caught up in pushing their children to get the best GPA's and a quicker 40 yard dash that they often forget the one simple and free character trait that will set their kids apart from the rest – courtesy.

When my kids treat others (and themselves) with respect, I have to be a little boastful. It makes me smile with pride.

Oh and I just have to share that Emily wanted me to take a picture that day too. Ain't she lovely!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Fishin' and peace of mind

Peace of Mind

A Duke University study recently came out with suggestions to increase your peace of mind:

- Don't nurse grudges
- Don't live in the past
- Don't fight conditions you cannot change
- Stay involved in society even when you feel like withdrawing
- Refuse to indulge in self-pity
- Cultivate love and humor
- Don't expect too much from yourself
- Find someone bigger than yourself to believe in (self-centered people always score lowest on happiness tests)

Many of these rules seem to be self-evident, but I'm surprised by how many people, even close friends, who do not. Now I'm not going to make any judgement calls on folks who are worryworts or only dwell on the 'glory days' of high school or college. But I can absolutely feel a difference in my life by just forgiving wrongs, living in the moment with humor and integrity, and working towards a better future for me and my kids.

I've tried to live by these rules without ever knowing about the study from Duke University. But for some silly reason, I keep thinking about people who are crazy about fishing. Doesn't fishing supposedly bring peace of mind? It hasn't for me yet because I spend the entire time untangling fishing line from the kids' fishing poles. But some day soon, I pray, our little fishing trips down to Old Hickory Lake will not only be something that the kids enjoy but is also something that's relaxing and peaceful!

Peace of Christ,


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Fun at the Renaissance Festival

The kids, and especially Emily, have been beating me over the head all month to take the to the Renaissance Fair. It's always tough to find the right time for a number reasons. The first and biggest reason for me is mud. Yes, we've had a rainy spring here in middle Tennessee and since the Renaissance Fair is spread across many acres of open field and rolling hills, the mud can potentially be hip deep.

The second reason is simply where the kids are at on any given weekend. That can be tough to coordinate. For example, Dylan was hard at work on set construction for "Bye Bye Birdie" for the first couple weekends in May, while Emily had a special trip planned for her and her mom over the week of May 15th. So it basically took Emily getting really sick and missing the trip with her mom to be able to go to the Fair on Sunday. Strange to think it, but if it weren't for her getting sick, she might've missed it.

Of course, the little girls weren't going to miss out on the BIG fun of a Renaissance Fair, which is to dress up! And Dylan had a cool new set of camo that Kell bought for him from a real GI. Can you tell that he was in a snit of a mood? On the other hand, how could I not LOVE him with that Darth Vader visage just like his dad? And his new hairdoodoo is truly cool. Emily's outfit was really pretty. I was impressed that she could put something medieval looking together so quickly. The thing that you can't see very well in her picture is that she has a little coronet woven into the top of her hair. It looked very Renaissaucy.
Emily and the lil girls made me buy fairie outfits for them weeks ago in anticipation of the Fair. (Well, I gotta be fair. Emily made me buy outfits for the lil girls, not for herself.) I thought it was kind'a funny that at the last minute, Katie Jo wanted to wear Emily's old dark fairie outfit over her new light fairie outfit that was identical to Anna Lynn's. Usually, she wants whatever Anna Lynn has. In the end, she looked adorable. Did you expect anything else?
The big kids struck off on their own almost immediately after we got through the gates, which set me back nearly $50. The girls and I, however, went to see the Washing Well Wenches. Our entertainers were Pearl and Petunia and they were funny. You can sort'a see Petunia in the picture below. She made the guy in the picture wear a huge pair of very UNtidy whities and then run out into the crowded lane and shout "I can do anything in my MAN PANTS!" It was really funny.
We took in another couple shows - The Birds of the Gauntlet put on by a master falconer and Buccaneer Blades, a silly action/comedy show. The lil girls also got to ride in some cool man-powered rides. I think their favorite was the Sea Horse, as shown here. The poor guy who worked the ride had to swing that thing, made of solid wood and loaded with a half-dozen kids, waaaay up in the air. He did a great job and entertained the girls while they waited.
I'd love to be able to go back some time with a pocket full of money so's I could buy some cool weapons and armor. But, alas, that is NOT in the future.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


New Nicknames for the Lil Critters

They're just so cute! I have to post more pictures of them. It comes with the job of being dad!

They have new nicknames by the way. One is Silvertooth and the other is Snaggletooth. Can you figure out which is which?

John Brown once wrote, "There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his children, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a blanket that feels like love itself." I hope these little critters feel cozy and warm in the blanket I made for them.

With all of the bickering the older kids do, I sometimes wonder if they can feel that blanket too. On the other hand, I don't know of any brothers & sisters of so close an age who did not bicker constantly. But when they get older, it seems like they love each other more than anybody else. I'm praying for that day!



Wednesday, May 17, 2006


The Tale of the Broken Tail

I was in the creek with the girls a few weeks ago and slipped. I went straight down on my tailbone and heard a "CRACK!" I've been barely able to sit and unable to work out at all since then. In fact, I've had to use this danged thing not only for routine computer work but also for the two business trips I've taken since I broke my tailbone. Aaaaagh!

BTW, everything you've heard about being unable to do anything about the pain - it's true.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The Stolen Child

This is one of my favorite poems by William Butler Yeats. As a child, I always felt out of place. I felt like I should've been stolen away and replaced by a changeling. And then, perhaps, I might find some solace in the Faerie Kingdom. Sometimes I'd wonder if it was me who was the changeling and that some other kid was off in wonderland. When you read this poem, what do you think the child's new life among the Faerie Folk will be like? What do you think his old life among his family was like?


The Stolen Child
Poem lyrics of The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats.

Where dips the rocky highland

Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car.
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For to world's morefully of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
from a world more full of weeping than you can understand.

Now you can see why the Faeries swapped me for a real kid, eh?


Saturday, May 06, 2006


Wedding Customs

I just recently came across this article by Martha Brockenbrough about all of the crazy traditions that we have embedded within our marriage ceremony. (The original source, btw, is Encarta on-line.) There are so many tranditions that I'd never really knewn the full story about. Some are pretty darn interesting...

Evil spirits and bridesmaids' dresses
The typical North American wedding is just bursting with meaningful traditions--if you know where to look. Take bridesmaids' dresses. They're not just evil looking; they're evil-repellent.
If you've ever wondered why bridesmaids all dress the same, it's because Roman law required ten witnesses to make a wedding legal. Several of these witnesses dressed up exactly like the bride and groom, to confound any malevolent forces who might show up uninvited. Europeans followed a similar tradition, and later bridesmaids and groomsmen sometimes did have to defend the happy couple against real-life thugs and warriors.

Ring around the ...
If you've ever wondered why Americans put the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand, it's because of an ancient Greek belief that a vein in this finger ran directly to the heart. And if you've ever groaned at having to buy both an engagement ring and a wedding ring, you can blame Pope Innocent III, who instituted a waiting period between engagement and marriage in the 13th century and also insisted that a ring be used in the wedding ceremony. Before that, rings were used to seal an engagement only (as well as other important agreements).

You may exchange souls with the bride
Yes, this is what the big wedding kiss symbolizes--the swapping of souls between the bride and groom. Even earlier than this Christian belief, the Romans used a kiss to seal a contract. The kiss was considered legally binding. I don't know about you, but I'm glad that a handshake suffices today.

What's more, a bride marrying in the Church of England had to kiss the minister before she smooched the groom. I would really love to go to a wedding where the minister said, "Now, I may kiss the bride."

Where's the toast?
We call it a "toast" when we drink to someone because of an old French custom in which a piece of bread was put in the bottom of the wine cup--for flavor.


Partygoers would drink and pass the cup; when it reached the person being toasted, he would drain it--crouton and all. It sounds pretty unhygienic. But think of how much more excitement a crunchy beverage would bring to the traditional wedding toast. I'd drink to that.

Toss me a garter
Many things are thrown through the air at weddings: rice (for fertility), bouquets (for luck and protection), and garters (also for luck). The garter is my favorite.

Apparently, in the good old days, before wedding dresses cost as much as small cars, people used to rip off chunks of the dress for good luck. The garter was like some lizards' tails: something that could be shucked off in self-defense.

In long-ago England, in a slightly related custom, friends of the groom would rip off their socks and throw them; the first to hit the groom's nose would be the next to be married.

Lefty loosey, righty ... bridey?
No, lefty loosey, righty tighty is for screws. Traditionally, the bride stands on the left, the groom on the right. (Although the Jewish wedding tradition reverses this.) Weddings used to be a lot more like the ones you watch on daytime TV, with dastardly ex-suitors and other thugs sometimes rushing the altar. And of course, some wedding crashers were heroes, just trying to rescue a captured bride. Whatever the reason for the interference, the groom needed to keep his right hand free so he could grab his sword, thus the bride stood clear and to the left. I have no idea what happened when the groom was left-handed.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


What's the lesson?

Now, I'm not a big sports fan but I am a fan of good stories. And I think this story from AllProDad is worth hearing. The only thing is - I'm not sure you of what the moral/lesson of the story is. Give me your two cents.

Houston Astros' pitcher Roger Clemens was down at spring training in Kissimmee, Florida. As pitcher, he was throwing batting practice with his team. He also decided to try out some of his legendary heat against his oldest son Koby - a third base prospect for the major leagues.

On the first pitch, Koby slammed his dad's fastball over the left field fence. What to go Koby! So the next time Koby came to bat, what did dad do? He sent Koby to the dugout with his trademark high and tight fastball.

So was Roger just being a competitive rear who didn't like anyone, even his son, getting a homerun off of him? Or was Roger trying to send his son a message about what Major League Baseball is really like - that there are no easy passes in life. If you choose the first meaning, Roger is a selfish and nasty guy who's got something of a mean streak to him. If you choose the second meaning (that a father's primary responsibility is to teach his children how to succeed despite hardships both on and off the field), then he's an active practitioner of disciplined love.

So, in your opinion, which is it?



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