Thursday, July 28, 2011

No. 45

It's been one of those days.

I have no doubt whatsoever that I would gladly lay down my life for my children. But yesterday and today ... Adam and Jesse have bickered. They have aggravated one another. They've been hungry. They've been bored. They've told on each other. Never mind the fact that I'm trying to write a lengthy feature story ... as well as, oh, I don't know ... a book.

Engine rules in NASCAR are usually ... Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Jesse won't turn the TV down. Jesse, turn the TV down.

Journeyman driver Carl Long was once suspended and fined for having an illegal eng ... Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! Adam pinched me! Pinch him back.

Restrictor plates can reduce horsepower by as much as ... Jesse!!! Jesse, answer him. Now.

And today ...

Deployment of the tethered satellite from the Shuttle's cargo bay was going well until ... Adam!!! Adam, stop it.

When the tether snapped, the danger was that ... Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad! What's for lunch?!? Don't know, don't care.

Rookie astronaut David A. Wolf was very proud to have been named to the crew of ... Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!!



School starts four weeks from today. When I drop Adam and Jesse off that morning, I'm thinking very seriously that I might slow down to about 50 mph before I boot 'em out of the car. Maybe.

My momma is up in Heaven right now, laughing her head off at me and remembering all those times she told me that she hoped my children would one day give me the kind of grief that my brother and I gave her.

Mission accomplished.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

No. 44

We're getting ready for church this morning and Adam insists that he and I match -- same colored shirt, same colored dress shorts. It kinda brought a little tear to my eye, him being so insistent. I was proud that he wanted to imitate me to such an extent.

And then he had to go and open his big mouth.

"Dad, I look just like you now," he said. "I think this is gonna be my Halloween outfit."

If it's OK with you, I'm going to choose to continue believing that he wants to be me for Halloween because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and not because he considers me a scary, hideous ogre.

Then, as we're about to pull into the church parking lot, Jesse announced that he wants to get married at another church near where we lived and not the one we actually attend. Jeanie asked why.

"Because when we went to that wedding at the other church, the service was over in like five minutes," he said. "That's a lot shorter than here!"

Yeah, Jesse, ol' buddy ... that's the spirit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

No. 43

I just got off the phone with Michael Griffin, the former NASA administrator who was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008 by Time magazine. The guy has seven different degrees, in everything from electrical engineering to physics.

There I was, trying my best to ask questions that sounded a little more intelligent than, "Gee, that Space Shuttle is neat, huh?" While I'm talking to Dr. Griffin, Jesse walks through the kitchen, which is just off my "office," and declares at the top of his lungs, "I ... just ... FARTED!!!"

Lord, help me. I love that young'un.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Here We Go Again ...

On June 22, 2010, my size would not allow me to fit into all five harnesses of the Space Shuttle simulator at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Although I was able to continue and enjoy the incredible experience, it was without a doubt the most embarrassing day of my life.

Today, I could fit in those seat belts with room to spare. As of last count, I have lost 66 pounds and eight inches off my pant size. Although I'll never be a fitness guru, I started this journey and stuck with it.

I have entered what will be my fourth 5k, and second actually attempting to run a bit. This one is scheduled for Sept. 24, and will benefit the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C. As important as it has been for me to get in better shape over the last 13 months, the camp established by Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son, Adam, is every bit as special for several reasons.

*I was in New Hampshire on that terrible day that we lost Adam Petty. It was hands down the worst day of my professional life.

*Less than a week later, we found out that Jeanie and I were expecting twins. One of them is named Adam in honor of the kid with one of the biggest grins I've ever seen.

*Our other twin son, Jesse, has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is a mild form of autism. There are programs for youngsters like Jesse at Victory Junction, and while he has not yet participated, it meant the world to Jeanie and I that he was invited to do so by none other than Kyle Petty himself.

*Finally, Jeanie is a thyroid cancer survivor and I lost both of my parents to cancer. It is a deeply emotional issue for me, and Victory Junction has gone a long way in helping kids with the disease to cope.

That said, I have set a couple of goals for this year's Victory Junction 5k. First, I participated in the event last December, when it was in the low 40s and raining hard the whole race. I walked the whole way, and finished in about 51 minutes. This time around, I'm going to jog as much as I can, and plan to finish in 40 minutes or less.

Olympic quality, that's not. But it would better my last VJ5K by more than 11 minutes, and my best-ever time by more than two minutes. It's doable, although the hilly terrain around the compex is very challenging. Don't worry ... I'll do it.

Finally, I have set a fundraising goal of $1,500. If you can possibly contribute, thank you. If not, please know that I fully understand. Here's the link: