Three Years Ago Today

I barged into the room with a purpose, but couldn’t remember for the life of me what that purpose was until I saw the familiar red banner of the USA Today sports section. Birthday or not, the world of college football stops for no one. I hadn’t planned on watching any of the action that day, but I was such a bag of nerves that I desperately needed a distraction. After reviewing the docket of games, I decided to place a small wager on one of them—a symbolic fifty dollar bet that I was sure to win. For that day was a lucky one—it was three of my four children’s birthday. Auburn catching seventeen points against Florida at The Swamp was my selection. [Read more…]

Ten Seconds of Goodness

Lovie took Pook to soccer practice the other night which left yours truly in charge of the wee threesome. Only they’re not so wee anymore. Our little guys are almost three! [Read more…]

My Brush With Greatness

Last night was quite a treat for me. At the kickoff reception for the M3Summit, I got to hear Cal Ripken, Jr. speak up close and personal.

And if this picture taken by Lovie is any indicator, I must have developed a bit of a man crush on the former big-leaguer.

Wow! Then what happened, Cal? *bats eyelashes*

Simply smitten, no? So much so, I got all flustered and forgot to “pose” with Cal. So I did what anyone would do. I waited patiently for the next person to finish with the Hall of Famer, then briefly explained what happened and asked if he’d mind if I posed with him for a quick shot. One of his handlers, however, seemed to think my request was a little aggressive. Or maybe he thought it was a bit frenetic. Because he said “Whoa, fella. Relax. You must drink a lot of coffee.”

Not even sure what that meant, but, hey, at least I got the pic.

cal's tall. i'm short.

After my the pic with Cal, Lovie and I thanked the coffee-comment guy for letting us cut back in. He must have liked Lovie more than me. “Do you know how beautiful your wife is?” he asked.

“Why do you think I drink so much coffee?” I countered. “Gotta stay alert.”

Cal was extremely personable and his people were fantastic, too. Coffee guy included. All of our back and forths were very tongue and cheek. Good clean fun. Lovie and I had a wonderful time and are both really looking forward to the rest of the conference.

Walk a Mile in Our Shoes

I can’t decide if this is super-cute or wildly disturbing.

Happy Campers

Marriage. Lotta hard work, no? To have a successful one, much compromise is needed. At least that’s what Lovie and I have found. Perhaps the most amazing middle ground we’ve ever reached is the very one upon which we slept this past weekend.

You see, I’m an avid camper. I go at least four times a year. One of those excursions is my annual section hike of the Appalachian Trail. When we first met, Lovie thought such trips sounded miserable.

“My idea of camping out is ordering room service from the Ritz Carlton.”

Secretly, I vowed to change that. And I had a plan. The vehicle of change? Pookie. That’s right. I used my own stepdaughter as a pawn to capture the queen so I could drag her royal ass to the woods. And it worked like a charm. After all, Pookie, like virtually all kids who are given the chance, was hooked on camping from word go.

“I’d rather camp than go to Hilton Head” was her exact quote upon returning from our first outing. Lovie’s eyes grew wide with wonder. Soon after, she began asking countless questions about this noble outdoor pursuit, questions my ears recognized as buying signs.

“Where do you go to the bathroom?”

“How do you cook your food?”

“How do you stay warm?”

“What do you do during the day?”

Instead of capitalizing on these questions and trying to score an immediate sale, I simply answered them, hoping my explanations would lead this inquisitive horse to the very water she wondered how I purified. (Note to readers — stay away from analogies that depict your wife as a horse. It’s okay for me to do it because I’m a highly trained professional.) I had a hunch that no hard sell would be needed. This product was capable of selling itself.

Which is exactly what it did. Lovie and I have camped together a grand total of three times. Until this weekend, that is, when we went on our fourth excursion — our second as a family. We made arrangements for the triplets (thanks, Brenda!) so Lovie and I could take Pookie and her friend, Miss M, for a fun-filled weekend in the woods. Here’s how it went down.

We took two cars. Lovie, Pookie, and Miss M rode in one and met me at the campsite around five. Me? I left early Friday morning to procure a spot and get our camp set up. So I took all our stuff.

the stuff

Oh. And our canoe. I was also responsible for that, too.

I had the perfect campsite in mind, located in an area I know inside and out. But I also had a backup — actually two backups — just in case. As fate would have it, however, we got our number one choice. It’s one of my favorite spots in the world. Look how clean the water is.

the perfect campsite

As soon as I got there, I started setting up. I divided the camp into two main sections — an area where our tent would be, and another area where we’d spend most of our waking hours. Check out our kitchen, complete with an eight foot by eight foot pop-up, where we kept a five foot table, our large plastic tubs of dried food, as well as our coolers which contained the rest of our food. It was there where I set up my camp stove which I’d use to cook my award-winning bacon and eggs. Below the kitchen, you’ll see the makeshift grill I put together. After all, if you wanna eat well in the woods, you gotta do some grilling.

Lovie rummaging through the kitchen

Just below our grill was the fire ring. Solid choice on the locale if I do say so myself. Right on the water.

Here’s a shot of our preposterously large tent which has three rooms. One for Lovie and me.

Turn left from there and you’ll find an empty room. Well, empty except for some of Pookie and Miss M’s stuff spilling out into it. One day the trips will kick it there.

Then, turn right and you run into the room where Pook and M slept.

Here’s our site from the water. Note the tent on the higher ground to the left separate from the rest of camp.

Something crucial for any extended campout? Activities. Lovie likes to fish, y’all.

exhibit a

With all of her angling activity, she earned a new nickname.

Catfish.

She’s really taken to it. If you’re at the M3Summit in Atlanta, be sure to call her by the new moniker. (Especially if you wanna see me get slapped.)

exhibit b: ol' Catfish tries a different spot.

The girls preferred another activity — canoeing. They had a blast.

I found an activity I like, too.

is drinking cold beer an activity?

But our main activity was the one which ate up most of Saturday — whitewater rafting down the Nantahala River, just a forty-five minute drive from camp. Eight miles of excitement and fun.

we caught a little air on that one.

Did we eat well?

three NY strips w/ twice baked potatoes and asparagus

Um, yeah. We ate just fine. But just when I thought we’d had enough food for the day, Pookie and M went poking around in the kitchen.

Because they knew we’d not forgotten to bring s’mores. And they were right.

It took a lot of work to pull off such a wonderful weekend, nearly as many hours planning, commuting, setting up, and breaking down as the actual hours spent on the trip itself. Some would contend that it’s too much work.

Miss M has Lovie and Pookie in stitches with her ghost story about a tomato.

But I would disagree. After all, there’s something to be gained from camping which you just can’t get from ordering room service at the Ritz. Just ask Catfish. She’ll tell you.

Thank you, Lovie, for meeting me more than halfway on this one. With each trip, we’re building memories which will last forever.

I love you.

The Auto-Bond Society: Encounters in Carpooling

The world of parenting is dotted with countless commitments, responsibilities, and extracurricular activities of our children. You know, soccer practices, swim meets, school functions, and the like. Whenever these events occur regularly and for an extended period of time, mini-societies are spawn. Societies in which the kids are the focal point. Societies in which most parents play but a supporting role, usually that of chauffeur. Societies in which these chauffeurs are bound by the laws of common decency to engage in awkward conversation with the other chauffeurs regardless of how well they know their counterparts. Societies in which a ruling class of adults will govern. Societies in which many interesting dynamics exist.

With the triplets now at preschool two days per week, and with Lovie in charge of getting them there safely, I’ve suddenly become a member of yet another society. Only this one doesn’t require that I bullshit aimlessly with strangers. In fact, my only requirements are to pick kids up and drop them off. That’s right. I’m now a proud member of the Carpool Society. Piece of cake, right?

Wrong. First off, it turns out that being prompt is a big deal. Which shouldn’t present that big of a problem. Unless, of course, the driver thinks school starts at 8:30 when it actually starts at 8:15.

No wonder Lovie wanted me to leave so early.

Luckily, I got Pookie and her friends to school on time, albeit barely. A wave of relief swept over me until the sight of carefully orchestrated, soccer-mom-operated SUVs brought upon another wave. One of anxiety. After all, if this rookie was fumbling with incorrect start times, no telling what else I didn’t know. I had the sinking suspicion that these right-hand-only-turning divas would make mince meet out of me in short order.

As if my peers in this Auto-Bond society weren’t daunting enough, suddenly before me stood the ruling class of adults presiding over the carpool line, their smiling faces belying the steely disposition required to attain such a lofty and authoritative post. My hands trembled, struggling to maintain their grip of my leather-covered steering wheel. My right foot sat like a boulder atop the break pedal, rendering me unable to lift it, and, therefore, unable to coast the few feet that now separated me from the car in front of us.

What was I to do? Pull up and bridge the gap? Or wait until the three cars at the very front rid themselves of their backpack-toting cargo such that I could assume the foremost position of the unloading area, thereby allowing those behind me to fully occupy the yellow lane, thus allowing for maximum unloading? In a moment, my mind locked in on its answer.

Pull up and unload now, it said. Who’s to know how long the cars in front of you will take? Better to keep the unloading process going rather than to get greedy and wait for a maximum unloading opportunity which may not quickly present itself.

Wrong move. Or so one of the kids told me. One is to wait and pull all the way up. Embarrassed, I quickly put my car back in gear to follow protocol, the lead cars having vacated the lane and permitting me access to the very front. But one of the kids had already the door open. Which allowed the sinful sounds of my stereo to pollute the carbon-monoxide-filled air, a no-no, I have since learned. All stereos are to be turned off in the carpool line.

How Footloose-ean.

Surely my peers scoffed at my embarrassing faux pas and would delight in recounting my cumbersome navigation of the carpool society at the water cooler, gym, country club, or wherever their day might take them.

Not to mention the ruling class. The only thing that could have possibly drawn more disapproval from the elite would have been a poorly timed cell call.

I drove out of the parking lot that morning with hampered pride, but also with an unwavering determination. One that will compel me to one day master the intricacies of the carpool line such that I can promptly, safely, responsibly, and efficiently execute my commuting duties, thus pleasing both my peers and superiors.

Incidentally, if any of y’all have the handbook, would you mind emailing me?

Snoop Dogg’s In The Miz-osque

Pookie may not ever win any penmanship awards, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of her writing. Within the past year or so, she’s taken to leaving her mother and me notes, usually in the kitchen to prohibit us from various sweets she’s classified as hers and hers only. Whenever I run across one of her communiques, I know I’m in for a treat, even if the note’s purpose is to actually deny me one.

Accordingly, I was tickled pink when I found one of her sloppily written doctrines the other night. But my delight quickly disappeared as I read the downward-tilting and crooked verse of her scribblings. It was the lyrics to Katie Perry’s California Gurls — more specifically, Snoop Dogg’s part.

Color me old school, but no little girl should ever write all that ass, hangin’ out. Ever. Speaking of hangin’, y’all hang tight. I gotta puke real quick.

[Read more…]

Last Summer

Pookie’s already back in school. So are the trips, for that matter. Yesterday was their first day. Ever.

It’s hard to believe, but in mere weeks we’ll be referring to the beautiful season that just slipped through our fingers as last summer.

Only I’m not quite ready to let it go yet. So I paid homage to it. In part so I could relive it whenever I felt the urge to do so. If you’ve got three minutes, I hope you’ll relive it with me.

It was a good summer, y’all. I’m gonna miss it.

This Pirate’s Look at 40

Mother, mother ocean,

I have heard you call.

Wanted to sail upon your waters

Since I was three feet tall.

This pirate's look at 40?

No complaints, y'all.

None.

Here’s a quick slide-show from the rest of our vacation which includes these pics as well as a few others.


Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.

[slideshow]

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