Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Year

A year ago today, I sat down in the Space Shuttle motion-based simulator. I could not get all five safety belts fastened because of my size.

That day, I decided I had to change direction and change dramatically. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and even though the sim continued with the one belt undone, I was shaken to the very core of my being. I was embarrassed, badly.

I will never forget the feeling as we hit T-minus zero for the first time. For those interested, here's the video:

The grin I had when we "lifted off" here did not last that day. As I walked out of the simulator that afternoon, I knew I had to change the way I do things. I've lost 64 pounds since that moment and have a goal to hit an even 100. I don't know why, exactly, but 100 just seems like a nice, round number. A hundred pounds. Until then, though, I can look back on the last 12 months and know that I've come a long way.

A year ago today, I could not walk from here to there with any kind of endurance. There's a half-mile track behind our local Y, and I couldn't walk two laps without my back killing me and my legs all but going numb.

Today, I can alternately walk and run a 5k race.

A year ago today, I wore pants there were a size 52.

Today, I'm wearing a 46 and they're loose.

A year ago today, I hated to take my shirt off to swim.

Today, I still ain't crazy about it. David Hasselhoff at the beach, I'm not. There's a six pack under there somewhere, but it hasn't quite popped out yet. I've still got a beer barrel for a belly, but it's now a 20-gallon drum as opposed to a 55.

A year ago today, I gave no thought whatsoever to what I eat.

Today, I make choices for virtually meal. I'm not on any kind of diet, and I don't want to be. I just don't want to undone what I've been able to accomplish.

A year ago, I ate so fast I didn't realize just how good some things taste.

Today, I'll swipe one of Adam's Bojangles French fries and savor every second of it. That's enough. Just one French fry. Maybe two.

A year ago, I weighed well over 300 pounds.

Today, I do not.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In Memory and Honor of ...

I participated in my third 5k this morning. I was able to finish in 42:38, five minutes faster than my previous best time. 

Jog a little bit. C'mon ... give it a shot.

It's sooooo hot. Concentrate.

This is for you, Shawn Kingrea. Your church organized this race in your honor. Your son, Ty, was on a baseball team I helped coach a couple of years ago. Ty, I know what it's like to have a momma with breast cancer, so this is for you, too.

There's Shawn. She's helping hand out water to the runners, cheering them on. Don't choke up.

Those folks up ahead ... you can catch 'em.

Darn it, my knee hurts. Shake it off. Still hurts. Shake it off. Just. Keep. Going.

I miss my mom so much. She was just 47 when she died, and I'm 43 now. This is for you, Mom. Keep going. How much further is it?

That huge German Shepherd ... it's chained up, right?!? I'm jogging some, but I can't run THAT fast.

Man, the playlist that I put together for this event is awesome. I love this song. Third Day ... Jeremy Camp ... Chris Tomlin. Gotta go old school, too. How about something from Stryper's latest? Kick it, boy ... kick it.

Jog downhill as much as possible, walk uphill. That might be a cop out, but this time last year, I wouldn't have been able to do either.

Cancer. It cost me my mom. My dad, too. He was 65, had lung cancer and never smoked a day in his life. Lost my mom AND dad to cancer. Is there something like that in my own future? Please, dear God, no ...

Five years ago, Jeanie was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Take me, do whatever ... not Jeanie. Not Richard. Not Adam. Not Jesse. She's now cancer free. Thank you, Lord, for your blessings.

The winner of this race is already home, kicked back and relaxing. That's fine. That was their race, this is mine.

Remember the last 5k? It was 41 degrees and raining. I was soaked to the skin. I am this time, too. There's only about a 45-degree difference.

No way. There's the finish line. I can see it. Finish strong. Run. They're waiting on you. They're cheering. I have fought the good fight ... I have finished the race.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No. 42

We're at T-minus five days and counting until the end of school for summer, but Jesse has already had his last piano lesson until it starts back up again in August.

Bless her heart, Jesse's piano teacher told him to practice pieces that he knows best during the break. So what's he know best? Jingle Bells, of course. It may be in the mid-90s outside, but it's Christmas at our house ... over ... and over ... and over ... and over ... and over ... and over again.

You know Jeff Dunham's Achmed the Dead Terrorist character, and his line, "Shut up ... I keeeeeel you?!?" Yeah, that's pretty much the conversation I'm going to have with Jesse's piano teacher the next time I see her. 

No. 41

Adam's teacher replied on Facebook to the most recent Parenting Observation that she loooooves Adam, and he saw it. Today, he marched into class and announced to her that if she ever wanted to comment on another post about him, that she should keep it to herself.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

No. 40

We had Chinese food for lunch today, and sometimes, it does not agree with Adam. So after a lengthy trip to the facilities, he plops back down at the table, pats his belly and says in the best Yoda voice yet, "A great disturbance in the bathroom, there was."

No. 39

Adam tried to kill me tonight. Throwing him some batting practice tonight from just a few feet away, he hit me in the wrist. Then ... he lasered another line drive that hit me square on the forehead. I went down HARD, and still don't feel super swift. Anybody know what dain bramage feels like?!?

No. 37

Jesse has lost his glasses ... I love my son ... I love my son ... I love my son ... can't find the darn things anywhere ... I love my son ... I love my son ... I love my son ... why am I looking in the freezer?!? ... I love my son ... I love my son ... Jeanie's fussin' ... I love my wife AND my son ... I love my wife AND my son ...

No. 38

Adam played baseball last night, and his second time at bat, he kept wiggling his front foot and tip-toeing it to the ground like some famous major leaguer. He would not stop. When I gave him a hard time about showing off after the game, he said, "But Dad ... I had to pee." Well ... OK, then.

No. 36

As we were passing a local gas station, Adam and Jesse suddenly and earnestly start yelling, "Stop at the BP! Stop! Pleeeease stop!" When we asked why, Adam blurted, "So we can get a Mother's Day present for Mom!" It's one of those huge cards, and what it lacks in ... well ... monetary value is more than made up for by Adam and Jesse's sincerity!

No. 35

We've got a new video game, Portal 2. I went around in circles for an hour and always wound up where I started. I simply cannot figure out how to move to the next level. Adam took over and within 30 seconds, made it without a second thought. It wouldn't be quite so bad if he would quit talking smack as he ushers me even further into old age.

No. 34

Adam and Jesse love the TV show Survivor, so we've decided that I'm going to be a contestant. We've also put together a plan for me to be the first one voted off the island, at which point I will start screaming like a crazy person, punch everybody who voted for me and use my torch to set Tribal Council on fire. I'm ALL about setting a good example for my kids.

No. 31

I went for my usual Friday lunch with the boys, and a girl who has had a very noticeable crush on Adam asked if she could sit with us. I said, "Of course you can!" But when I turned and saw Adam, he had a look of pure panic. "Daaaaaad," he began, and I knew I was in trouble. "I've already asked ANOTHER girl to sit with us! What am I gonna do know?!?" Uhhhhhhhhhhhh ... sorry, son.

No. 32

There's ALWAYS a fight between Jesse and Adam over who has to take a bath first. I ALWAYS settle it by telling them to pick a number between 1 and 100. Jesse was the first to figure out that it's ALWAYS 73 ... my high-school football number. For some strange reason, I don't think he cares as much about that as he does Adam hitting the tub ahead of him.

No. 33

April is Autism Awareness Month. Jesse has Asperger's, which is a mild form of the developmental disorder. He's not wired like most folks, adding a whole new element to being his dad. When he does something "wrong," is it because he's 10 or because he has Asperger's? Do we drop the hammer or give him a hug? It can be very frustrating, but I wouldn't have missed a minute of it.

No. 28

This morning, Adam was in the foulest of moods after staying up late to watch the Super Bowl last night. He decided that he wanted to quit school, so I asked what kind of job he would get as a fourth-grade dropout. With not a moment's hesitation, Adam replied, "I'll be a third-grade teacher." How's that for staying ahead of the curve?

No. 29

Jesse is making a totem pole for a class project. Animals represent family members. I'm a cow because I like milk. Adam is a hyena, for obvious reasons. Jeanie is a donkey, because, he says, in Bible times, the donkey was a very loyal pet. Far, far be it for me to suggest an alternate interpretation!!! BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

No. 30

So ... Jeanie looks over at me just now and asks, "Do you hear them farting in the tub?" Well, yes ... yes, I do. That one question probably best describes what it's like to live in our house.

No. 26

This is what it's like to be Jesse's dad. He finished third today in his school-wide spelling bee, behind a kid from the sixth grade and one from the fifth. That's especially impressive, considering the fact that I had to make a trip to school just before the spelling bee because he'd supposedly jammed an eraser in his ear.

No. 27

OK ... so Jesse's getting out of the tub and hollers that he needs a towel to dry himself off with. Jeanie and I look at each other and don't move. Jesse yells again. We don't move. Finally, Jeanie yells, "Just stand over the heat vent for a while!" Yep ... we're model parents.

No. 25

Oh, yeah ... with every passing second, The Talk is getting closer and closer. Jesse's "girlfriend" is now mad at him because everybody in their class knows about her note. On the way home from school today, Adam was trying to help Jesse with his predicament and said, "You need to listen to me, Jesse. I'm the Looooooooooooove Doctor!"

No. 23

OK ... so Jeanie and I are in Yadkinville this afternoon and the tornado sirens start blaring in town. It was raining all kinds of hard, but all I wanted to do was get to school to make sure Adam and particularly Jesse (who is horribly, terribly afraid of storms) were OK. I did not like that feeling, not one little bit.

No. 24

One of the three Houston men currently living in my household got a love note today. It wasn't me. It wasn't Adam. HELLO, Jesse! Adam may be Mr. Casanova, but it's the strong silent types like me and Jesse that you've gotta look out for!!! Now ... read between the lines. The time is coming very, very soon for The Talk.

No. 21

When the preacher asked me during our church service today if a son had ever fared better than his father in NASCAR, I answered Richard Petty. Adam immediately starts tugging at my sleeve, whispering, "Dad ... what about Dale Earnhardt? He did better than Ralph!" YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

No. 22

There's a big difference between being a father and being a daddy. Adam was as sick as Jeanie and I had ever seen him this week, and this is what he wanted me to do. Forget that I eventually got sick, too. This was well worth it.

No. 17

Adam happened to walk by the other day as I gave Jeanie the most innocent of kisses. Adam's response? "Go Dad ... go Dad ... go Dad!" Heaven help us when the hormones REALLY kick in on that kid.

No. 18

This afternoon while waiting to eat lunch with the boys, the baby sister of a girl in Jesse's class called me "PawPaw." Her mom explained that "PawPaw" is the little girl's GRANDFATHER. It's going to take me a while to recover from that one ...

No. 19

For all the bickering Adam and Jesse do, this is the memory that I want to take with me. Adam stops by Jesse's classroom every day after school to help him pack his books. Adam's teacher and class also left him behind by mistake the other day, because he was helping Jesse through a ..."crisis". THAT'S what it means to be brothers ...

No. 20

Adam and Jesse are BOTH in the AIG (Academically/Intelectually Gifted) progam at their school, and Richard graduated from high school second out of a class of 620 students. Therefore, it must be deduced that intelligence skips a generation on the father's side because I just ain't that smart.

No. 16

Last week, one of the kids walked off and left the water running in a sink that's stopped up. Yesterday, the toilet wouldn't flush properly, but Adam and Jesse both just kept right on ... well ... you know. You know those times when you're so angry you're speechless? It didn't hit the fan, because it was all in the ... never mind.

No. 15

Tonight was the last night of Vacation Bible School, and as always, the kids got on stage to sing the songs they learned this week. Honestly and truly, I thought two little girls were gonna come to blows trying to stand next to Adam. They were actually shoving and throwing elbows, the whole nine yards. Heaven help us ...

No. 12

Jesse asked yesterday if he could get on the computer and look up something on Google. When I asked why, he said he was going to find out how to get in touch with George Lucas so he could ask what species Yoda is. Sniff ... sniff ... you just don't know if you're doing a good job as a parent and then he comes up with something like this.

No. 13

Jeff Hoffman flew five times on the Space Shuttle. He was the first to log 1,000 hours on the Shuttle. He made a couple of spacewalks to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. When I told Adam that I'm going to be interviewing Dr. Hoffman, his only concern was whether or not the former astronaut knows Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader in baseball.

No. 14

Jesse LOVES the television show Wipeout, where contestants are basically beaten to a pulp for an hour. I'm not sure whether I'm more disturbed over that fact alone, or that Jesse tells me on an almost daily basis that I should try out for the show.

No. 11

Adam and I both have sinus infections, so we've spent the afternoon in the doctor's office. Adam was NOT happy he was gonna have to get a shot until the doctor told him I was getting one, too. At that point, he broke into this wicked little grin and giggle ... the little jerk. The whole time, Jesse's standing there going, "I'm NOT the sick one ... I'm NOT the sick one!"

No. 9

There's quite a debate going on around here concerning whether or not I fly or drive to Houston next month. For those of you who know me, you'll know that I would without a doubt rather drive. However, 1,100 miles is a LONG way. Jesse and Adam are both adamant that I drive. Jesse said, "If you fly, what if you run out of gas and have to crash land?" Thanks, Jesse. Thanks a lot.

No. 10

Jesse is staying with Nanny and Papaw tonight. He's packing like he's moving out for good. Adam's jealous, and when I tried to cheer him up by telling him that at least he still gets to stay with me tonight, he said in no uncertain terms, "YOU'RE not Nanny." Ouch ...

No. 8

Adam is walking around the house singing "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner. First question ... where in the world has he heard that? Second ... anybody have any advice on how to lock him down once he becomes a hormone-crazed teenaged boy?

No. 7

With a child like Jesse, sometimes I just have to sit back, let him do his thing and then say something profound like, "Uhhhhhh ... wow." After his teacher told the class to design their very own invention, this is what Jesse came up with ...

No. 6

There are some talents you just can't teach a child. Adam can all but arm-fart the Star-Spangled Banner.

No. 5

Jeanie and Jesse headed to a local diner the other day while Adam and I finished up at the baseball field. They were met at the door by a little girl who asked, "Where's Adam?" Then, when they sat down, yet another little girl asked, "Where's Adam?" I have decided that such animal magnetism evidently skips over a generation!

No. 3

I had two kids in elementary school a couple of months ago, but I now have nine in either the third or fourth grades. As a novice baseball coach, I have discovered that the role requires me to be equal parts coach, psychologist, medic, motivational speaker, entertainer, fundraiser, politician, crime scene investigator, judge and jury. And then at the second practice ...

No. 4

There's nothing quite like a kid being sick to get a parent moving at the speed of sound. This afternoon after church, the boys and I were waiting on Jeanie in the grocery store parking lot. A split second later, Jesse's nose is bleeding like he'd been hit with a baseball bat, I'm trying to get it stopped and Adam's trying to run into the store by himself to get some Wet Ones.

No. 2

I needed a calculator not too long ago to help Jesse with his math homework, so I'm not smarter than a kid in the third grade, much less one in the fifth ...

No. 1

It can be difficult explaining the concept of a Charlie Daniels Band song to a nine-year-old child. The song features line after line like, "Ain't a cowboy hat in Dallas if I ain't in love with you." Adam remarked, "There ARE cowboy hats in Dallas." I replied, "Then he loves his wife/girlfriend." "Huh? That doesn't make any sense." It was at THAT point I knew I was in trouble.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Going through a couple of old junk tubs, I found a picture of myself from 1998. That was me then on the left, that's me now on the right. I'd like to think there's a little bit of improvement.