Monday, November 14, 2011

The bedtime routine . . . anything but "routine".

One of my favorite times of the day is the children’s bedtime.  That is not to say that I like them best when they are sleeping, rather, I enjoy the sweet family time we have during the closing parts of the day.  Unfortunately wrestling two small children into their beds before they believe they are ready is very similar to wrangling cats.
            They both have a routine that if one element is found to be off, will start the process over.  They brush their teeth (this is obviously a mommy and daddy requirement), climb into bed with all their appropriate toys (this includes an array of stuffed animals, princesses, superheroes, books, swords, wands, and tiara’s among other things), read a book (my son has recently started reading to us), sing a song (nearly every night is “Jesus loves me”, which I am thankful for as I hardly know the words to any other songs), and our nightly prayers.
            My son likes to start asking questions as we herd him off to bed.  I like to believe that he is an inquisitive soul and he is pondering the meaning of the universe at this time.  However, I have a sneaky suspicion that this is simply a delay tactic.
Nonetheless, this time brings up some interesting Q & A sessions.  Most recently, our son was talking about some of his friends and the names of their parents, which raised an interesting question in my mind, does our son even know our real names, so I figured I’d ask, “What is mommy’s name?”
            “Mommy” he responded matter-of-factly.
            “I know that is what you call her, but what is her real name?”
            He looks skyward for a moment trying to recall a name that I might have used in the past and after some thought, he excited says, “Babe!”
            Laughing and realizing that he may not have heard our names too often and curious what he thinks my name might be, I ask, “What’s my name then?”
            With less thought, he simply said, “Honey.” 
I guess it could be worse, right?
            My daughter on the other hand seems to enjoy the music portion of the routine.  She loves to sing (often making up her own words to her own tune).  Both of the children have a little radio in their room that plays nice child friendly bedtime music on a nightly basis.  Recently though, my daughter has started asking me to dance with her before we lay her down to sleep.  “One dance daddy, one dance,” (probably another stall tactic, but I’ll go for it every time).  She stands on her bed as I stand on the floor or I simply hold her and we sway back and forth to the music (if I am in the mood for some adorable laughter, I’ll throw in a spin or two).  After we’ve laid her down and said our prayers, just before I close the door, I’ll whisper, “Hey baby girl.”
“What?” she’ll say with a hint of excitement.
“I love you.”
“I love you too daddy.”  How can it get any sweeter than this?  This routine has literally has brought tears of joy to my eyes.
When the children are in bed, it becomes mommy and daddy time.  We do what most parents do at this point of the day . . . we go straight to bed, but first we brush our teeth, sing a song . . . 

My daughter . . . the Princess!

“Daddy, I a princess,” my daughter says in her excited three year old voice.
            She doesn’t have to convince me.  I have believed this since the day she was born.  In fact, when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, my greatest fear was that she would have me wrapped around her little, princess fingers . . . which has proven to be totally true and an accurate concern.  However, her view of her being a princess and mine are different, I mean, my peasant mind could not fathom the duties and responsibilities or royalty, right?  She has totally embraced the idea of a princess gown and tiara (which she calls a “crown”) as the defining characteristics of a princess, while in my mind, she just IS my princess.
She has started insisting on wearing her dress up princess costumes all the time.  The people we run across at church, restaurants, or the local grocery store actually make the situation even more difficult to manage as she is consistently hearing, “Oh, isn’t the little princess so cute!”  To which she gives a big grin with squinty eyes, tilting her head to the side in an effort to feign bashfulness, and will often end in a twirl.
She loves to dress like a princess so much that she doesn’t want to be seen until she is in full princess regalia.  One recent morning, I was coming down the hall as my wife was assisting her in putting on her full princess gear.  I was met with, “Daddy, No!  Don’t look!  I not ready!”
Now this wasn’t because she was indecent, it was because she wasn’t perfectly dressed in her beautiful gown.  In fact, she often can’t decide on which princess outfit she should wear, so what should any self-respecting princess do in such a conundrum?  Why she wears them all, of course.  It not unusual to see our little princess wandering through the house with a white gown, covered by a red sparkly dress, covered by a pink tutu.  Try telling her that it’s too much or it doesn’t match and suffer the princess wrath.
Recently, we forced her to wear some of her normal three year old clothes (this wasn’t to prove a point, it was simply because those dresses had to be washed or they would probably start twirling on their own) and she went into a depression.  As I walked into the room, I said, “How’s my little princess?”
Only to be met with, “I not a princess,” followed by a sad and disappointed sigh. 
“But you have your crown on.” I responded, trying to bring her out of her funk, it didn’t matter, she knew better . . . she is royalty after all. 
There is a bridal shop we drive by several times a day with beautiful gowns in the window and every time we drive by she says, “I want to get married.”  Now she has no interest in boys at this age, it all dates back to a conversation when her mommy told her she could wear one of those dresses when she got married.  We’ll have to coach her on the real meaning of marriage as she grows older, because all it means now is that she gets to wear a beautiful white gown and look like a princess.
No matter how far away a wedding day may seem, it is too soon for this daddy!  My daughter doesn’t need a white dress to be a princess in my eyes . . . but then, I clearly have no understanding of the true duties of royalty.                   

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another family dog? Not so fast!

We love dogs. I’ve had a dog for most of my life and we’ve had a dog in our family our entire marriage. Our kids know nothing else than having a four-legged friend padding around the house. Years ago, before children and the business that surrounds them, we fostered dogs in our home. We would go to the local animal shelter, adopt a dog, spend the next several months training it and finding it a permanent home. Each one of those dogs is a pleasant memory.

However, we had two children. Our son is now entering school in the Fall and our daughter is an adventurous two year old, going on 15. The time we had to commit to fostering dogs was limited and therefore, over time, we narrowed our family down to a one dog family. Although, if you ask our dog, Tucker, he would probably say, “Dog? What dog? I am the oldest son.” And that sums up our love for dogs.

Recently, my son and daughter both have been clamoring for another dog. In fact, they want a “puppy”. Several thoughts crossed my mind as the chant for a puppy increased in volume and regularity.

My first thought was, “do you have any idea how much work a puppy is? They chew everything, they aren’t housebroken!” The answer of course is, no, they don’t.

The second thought I had was, “I finally have gotten the one dog we have broken it in.” It has taken nearly eight years, but he is now the perfect family dog. He sleeps when he is supposed to sleep, he eats what he supposed eat (which is NOT the furniture), he relieves himself where he is supposed to relieve himself. So I was obviously in no hurry to respond to this request, a request that would ultimately turn my world upside down.

But as if the pointed ears of a wandering puppy could hear my children’s cry, one morning as we are preparing to leave for church, we find a beautiful white coated, blue eyed female puppy sitting on our back porch, looking hungry and thirsty. You might believe my first feeling was empathy and concern, but I am going to be honest with you, I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought it was a joke.

You can probably guess how this story goes from this point forward. My wife, who has a huge heart for dogs, gave the puppy food and water. When we returned from church, that puppy sat at attention on our porch as if she was dutifully guarding our home in our absence, growing the fondness my family was already feeling for her. Except for Tucker, who tends to great all dogs with a level of disdain, as if he himself is not a dog. But I know better than the rest of my family on this one, I know this was all puppy manipulation.

As my wife is packing to leave to visit her parents for the week, she sends me a text, “I am worried about the puppy, he is destroying the screen on the window and chewing an electrical outlet.” Who is left to deal with this cute little menace? You guessed it. So, if you are looking for a cute puppy that needs a home, contact me soon. I am not sure how tolerant daddy will be when this puppy starts trying to eat my tractor.

Why won't this car die?!?!

My car is dying. In fairness, it isn’t my car. It is my wife’s car. Or maybe I should put that in the past tense; it was my wife’s car. In fact, to be clear, it was my wife’s college car. This 1997 Chevy Cavalier now has legendary status in our family, it can survive anything. In fact, to my dismay, it survived being picked up and tossed by the recent tornadoes. Of course, it landed wheels down and showed little damage. She just brushed herself off and kept on running.

Unfortunately for the car, she isn’t my favorite. In fact, she isn’t even close. You might ask, “Why do you drive this antique with nearly 200,000 miles on it?” Well, I made a commitment. I once said, as long as it runs, I’ll drive it to avoid a car payment. Let this serve as a word of caution - I said that five years ago.

How did I end up driving this car in the first place? Well, as in many families, our circumstances dictated the type of cars we purchased and drove. When we got married, I was driving my dream truck. It was big, manly, and a stick shift. Unfortunately for that truck, my wife couldn’t drive a stick shift. Additionally, at the time, I had a job that was quite some distance from our home and big, manly, stick shift trucks don’t generally get good gas mileage, so it had to go.

The next circumstance was that we had children. Apparently, somewhere in the marriage and family instruction book it requires previously rugged outdoorsman to purchase powder blue minivans once they have families. I must have missed that day in class and I never received the manual, but his is what I am told. So we bought the minivan and I’ve must tell you, nothing screams TOUGH like a minivan with automated side doors.

So, getting rid of my truck that only I could drive and trading it in for a minivan, which was for my wife to drive, left me with the car.

Just so you understand, I am a big guy and the Cavalier is not. So getting in and out of this car is somewhat like watching the clowns pile out of the compact car at the circus. Let’s just say it is not the most comfortable car. But after a couple of years, I made it my own. Unfortunately, this story gets worse. About two summers ago the air conditioning went out. I took it into a mechanic to see how much it would cost to get it fixed, “$1000” the big, greasy, tough guy behind the counter said in a tone that suggested he wondered why a big guy like me would be driving a girly little circus car. It seemed a little high, so I took it somewhere else to get a second opinion, “$1200”, the woman behind the next counter said with a look in her eyes that suggested she thought I was less of man because I wanted AC in my little toy car.

The price clearly wasn’t going to get any better so I pondered my options, do I put a $1000 air conditioner in a car that was only blue book valued at $600 or do I simply sweat through the summer? Being the cheap guy I am, I decided to sweat it out, I could use to lose a few pounds anyways.

Well, that was two summers ago and I am midway through my third summer in my little antique girly car with no air conditioning and despite all the pounds I sweated off and despite of the judgmental glances I receive at the stop lights, I’ve grown fond of my little car. I own it now, it is no longer my wife’s college car, it’s mine. But she is fading, she creaks when she turns, she starts slower, and little warning lights are coming on all the time. Maybe it is in this year that I turn 40 that my own aging has given me sympathy on all things aging and loyal over time. When she goes, she will be missed. At least until I get back in my dream truck!

Tucker, the Family . . . Hummingbird?!?!

I am fascinated by hummingbirds. You may question the depth of my manhood when you read that statement, but in fairness, have you ever looked closely at one of those crazy birds? They seem to be more closely related to a bug than a bird. My wife recently put out hummingbird feeders (ultimately they are plastic containers that look like apples filled with sugar water) and to my astonishment, the hummingbirds came. But they didn’t just come for a quick sip of the sweet sugar juice, they came to chug it! One hummingbird in particular seems to visit all day every day, not sure how that little guy holds all that juice, but I assume he has to make many trips to the hummingbird men’s room.

My son has grown attached to this little guy and decided to give him a name. Now, for those of you who don’t realize, an animal takes on a whole new meaning in a family when a child is able to name them. Since I had never heard of anyone naming a hummingbird, I anxiously asked my son what title he had in mind for this thirsty little bird.

“Tucker,” he answered excitedly.

“Tucker?” I asked.

“Yes, the hummingbird’s name is Tucker,” he responded, full on confidence.

“But the dogs name is Tucker,” I told him in an effort to point out what seemed to be a painfully obvious duplication and a possible point of confusion for our canine family member.

“Yes, I know.” Okay, deal done, the hummingbird is now Tucker, so much for my son’s creative genes. I guess we can catalog that name in with other originals he has come up with like, “dog” for his stuffed dog, “horse” for his stuffed horse, or my favorite, “lion” for his . . . you guessed it, sock lion.

Despite my son’s lack of imagination in the name creation category, my fascination with this little bug . . . or bird, continues. So, why am I so fascinated with Tucker the hummingbird? Well, it’s not the name, although I am fascinated with what my son thinks will happen the next time he yells, “Tucker, come here!” I am fascinated with this little bird because he is simultaneously moving faster than my eye can see and sitting perfectly still, hovering next to the feeder as if it was an ornament hanging from a invisible string.

As I attempt to dissect this fascination, and simultaneously watch as my son attempts to call the bird to light on his finger, “Here Tucker, Tucker. Land on my finger, Tucker,” while the dog looks on in total confusion (I can only imagine what is going through his mind, “On your finger? Really?”), my mind wanders to the fact that this bird is like most of our lives. The world around us is moving, changing, and evolving at a speed that we cannot even see and yet our lives sometimes seem to be firmly planted at a standstill. Or maybe it is just the simple idea that we have a hummingbird and a dog both named Tucker. I wonder which will try and get on his finger first . . . this could be fun.

Friday, July 8, 2011

An open letter to the REAL "Unsung Heroes".

As some of you know, my wife recently nominated me for the Sears “Unsung Heroes; Dads Making a Difference Contest”. Amazingly, I was selected as one of 10 finalists in the contest and we were placed on Facebook to have “fans” vote one of the dad’s as most deserving and to receive a grand prize of $30,000 toward a community build project.

While I am most proud of being a husband, father, and in general, a “family guy”, the title “Unsung Hero” made me feel a little uncomfortable. I have never viewed myself as a “hero” in any way, shape or form. The truth is, I am simply a product of my community. We have a rich history of legendary figures who have served our community and country in many ways; they have fought wars, served as spiritual warriors, built community, raised families, and have been beacons of light for all of us to see. By living in a community that is full of unsung heroes, it serves to inspire us all to be better, to give more support, and to serve more often. This spirit of service is not exclusive to one individual or group of people, but a spirit that is instilled in the very fabric of our community. It is not the exception, it is the norm.

This spirit was never more apparent than it was on April 27th and the days immediately following those devastating storms. That night our emergency services and first responders worked in circumstances that were simply overwhelming, with devastation across our entire county, roads impassable, 911 emergency lines full, our local heroes went to work, pulling people out of crumbling homes, risking their own life and limb to help those in need. Unfortunately, the extent of the crisis was far beyond what our emergency services could respond to and that is when we watched as neighbors, in the dark of night, crawling through rubble, cutting trees, and moving debris to help those in need.

We watched as farmers used tractors to clear debris off of roads, businessmen picked up chainsaws to cut trees off of houses, and elderly women walked miles to offer warm meals, hugs, and prayers of comfort. Nobody was untouched. Nobody was unmoved. And nobody sat still when they had an opportunity to serve. This is the spirit of our community, this is home.

I am proud that my wife thought so highly of me to nominate me for this honor, possibly the best Father’s Day present of all time. I was surprised and honored to be selected by Sears as a finalist, but most of all I am humbled to be a small part of this community of unsung heroes.

So, I’d like to dedicate this column to you and say “thank you” to everyone who supported our efforts to win this contest and bring this $30,000 home to Bradley County, but more importantly, thank you for what you do every day, serving your neighbor, supporting your friends, inspiring those around you, and acting as the REAL unsung heroes.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Of Mice and Men and the battle between

My daughter is a huge mouse fan. In particular, the legendary mouse going by the moniker “Mickey”. However, a recent family encounter with a mouse was not nearly as sweet and cute as the aforementioned cuddly cartoon critter. No, our story of mice begins with me sitting on the couch watching television one night when the little fellow stuck his head out from behind the television stand. Cautiously, he moved out into the open to check out his new neighborhood. Now this wasn’t the friendly theme park mascot that my daughter is so fond of, no, this was the mouse that eats into your cereal boxes and makes a nest out of your favorite sweater.

As I watched our little visitor scamper around the floor boards looking for crumbs, I was already drawing up my battle plans for the next day. This mouse had broken into my fortress and because of his trespass, I declared war. I planned on making quick work of this little rodent and claim my crown as the defender of my home.

The next morning I visited one of our local hardware stores and immediately went to the “pest” aisle. I couldn’t help but imagine my daughters disappointment if she could only get a peek inside my head at the plan I was devising for this little fellow, but like a good father, I shook that thought out of my head and purchased the old fashioned, tried-and-true, snap trap.

I entered the battleground and found his most likely route of travel considering the sighting I had the night before. I set the snap trap and started to place the bait in position. My bait of choice is peanut butter as I’ve actually had more success with it than using the traditional cheese. As I placed the peanut butter, I accidently triggered the trap, which immediately earned its name and reputation by snapping down on my thumb causing significant pain (and an equal amount of embarrassment) . . . mouse - 1, daddy – 0. My daughter would smile.

Finally the trap was successfully, if not painfully, set and positioned. Now all I had to do was wait patiently. The next day, anxious to see the bounty of my strategic planning and positioning, I took a quick look at the trap. Unfortunately, what I saw made me realize I was battling no ordinary mouse. This mouse was clearly battle tested and wise to the ways of the snap trap. But not only was the trap not triggered, the peanut butter had been licked clean. Finally, adding insult to injury, the little rodent left evidence that it was him that had stolen by the bait. I’ll spare you the details of the evidence, but let’s just say it rhymes with “house scoop”. Yes, he essentially took my bait and left a signed statement on how he felt about my battle plan . . . mouse – 2, daddy – 0. My daughter would now be laughing.

Unfortunately for our arrogant little visitor and two of his friends, a series of four traps, set with staggered bait of peanut butter, cheese, and honey was too much to resist and I was rewarded with the sound of victory late one night, a loud “SNAP” from behind the piano as I slowly slipped into a hazy dreamland of dancing mice with a smile on my face.

So what would I tell my daughter about this battle victory? Like most good daddy’s . . . nothing, of course, but if I am ever forced to tell this tale to my rodent-adoring daughter, I’ll tell her this, I’d be happy to go visit Mickey at his house, but he’d better not come looking for crumbs at ours. daddy – 3, mice – 2, FINAL score

Monday, June 27, 2011

Answering the tough questions

My wife and I just recently celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. I hesitate to say this, for fear of losing my “Man’s Man Card”, but I still feel like I am on my honeymoon. I am not like many of the sitcoms we watch, I love my wife and every day is a joy and I am a blessed man.

Throughout our marriage, we’ve been intentional about explaining to our children the love associated with a healthy marriage. Our hope is that one day our children will grow up and find that perfect person that will make every day of the rest of their lives happy and fulfilled.

However, to children of a certain age, marriage is a foreign concept.

“Why are you and mommy married?” he recently asked me.

“ Because we love each other and wanted to spend every day with each other,” I responded, full of confidence.

“Every day with a girl?” he asked with a tone that suggested surprise and disgust.

After a little discussion, it was clear that he needed a timeline of how this all happened. My wife explained to him that I was born and then she was born. Now that I think about that conversation, she did put a fairly significant emphasis on the fact that I was born first, but I digress. Then she explained we went to school (a stage he is about to enter), went to college, met, fell in love and got married.

He continued to ask about when he and his sister came into the picture. In an effort to explain how we would prefer it happen, we communicated that you get married, and after you are married you can have children.

Now at this point I am getting a little nervous. Surely he is not going to ask the “How did I get here” question and if so, I am totally not prepared for it. I could feel my stomach tighten and little beads of sweat form on my brow.

To my relief, he went a completely different direction. Tucker, the family dog, and a part of our family, happened to be sitting on his lap during this conversation. And while my wife explained the process of getting married in order to have children, he asked the most obvious question in his little five year old mind, “When did Tucker’s mommy and daddy get married?”


Leave it to the five year old to ask the difficult questions. We went on to explain that only people get married and that children are born out of love. That is when he said the words that make my heart warm, “I love you.” The ideal ending to a potentially challenging conversation and it was navigated perfectly by my wife.

When I look over the last seven years of my life, it hasn’t been all easy, but it has been perfect and I have travelled it with my soul mate. And as a result, when those difficult questions do finally arrive, “Daddy, how did I get here?” I know exactly how to handle them . . . “Go ask you mommy.” Happy anniversary babe!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Think about it for a minute, then go do something.

As I lay in bed one recent evening, about to fall asleep, a piercing alarm shattered the quiet. Even though it was late, I shot out of bed, my feet barely touching the floor as I ran to see where this noise was coming from and turn it off before everyone was awake. Five ear piercing electronic blasts lasting nearly two seconds a piece came from the other end of the house.

Fortunately, the alarm did not wake the kids. Unfortunately, before I could get to the source, the house went silent again. The eardrum splitting alarm was gone. I sat still and quiet, holding my breath as if I could catch the perpetrator if it did not realize I was there; but to no avail, no beep, screech, or alarm was forthcoming.

Now, if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, you know the dilemma we are now facing. We know that there is a malfunction in one of the many alarms we have in our home and we can probably guess it is a dead battery, but without being next to it, we can’t tell which one it is. We also know that this isn’t probably the last time this alarm wails, history tells us that we can expect more to follow. Going to bed now would be pointless, we need to formulate a plan to conquer this problem.

So my wife and I developed a strategic system to figure out which alarm was the culprit. She positioned herself in one room under an alarm and I was near another. I know this isn’t the most sophisticated system, but it was almost midnight, what do you expect? Five minutes went by, then ten, and soon I lost my focus and started wandering the house. Recognizing my wandering as weakness, it was then that the mystery alarm momentarily revealed itself. My wife rushed out of the room she was in and said, “It wasn’t that one, was it yours?”

Unfortunately, because I was out of position, I still could not tell which alarm was the culprit. I sheepishly shrugged.

“What do you mean you don’t know, you were sitting right next to it!?!?”

I explained that I had wandered and she said, “You left your post?” in a tone that sounded more like hurt astonishment than question.

I knew at this point that the mystery was now mine to own. I positioned myself near an alarm to continue the process of elimination. Another half hour passed before the squeal let loose and we were able to identify the exact alarm. I dutifully climbed up on a chair and changed out the battery. Now you may be asking yourself at this point, why didn’t you just change all the batteries? Well, good question, but my simple response is that I only had one new battery remaining and I didn’t want to run to the store at midnight to buy new nine volts. Unfortunately, this decision was moot as it turned out not to be a battery problem at all. In fact, when I was changing the battery, it set off all of the smoke alarms, including the one’s the children’s room. Our daughter, somehow, didn’t wake (oh, how we’d all love to sleep that heavy again, right?). Our son woke up and in a worried voice said, “Mommy, what’s happening?”

“The smoke alarms are going off and we’re trying to figure out how to turn them off,” she calmly responded.

As he drifted back off to sleep, he simply said, “Well, think about it for a minute and then go do something,” great advice for so many problems.

After more than an hour of wrestling with the mystery, we eventually just had to turn off the breaker to the alarms completely to fix the problem (before I get an inbox full of warnings, we went out and bought a battery operated smoke detector to use until we get this situation fixed, thanks for your concern). Our alarms still don’t work properly, but don’t worry, I am going to think about this problem for a minute and then I’ll go do something.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stumbling into responsibility . . . literally.

My wife and I recently decided to give my son more responsibility around the house, I mean seriously, the kid is five and bringing in absolutely zero income into our household, it’s about time he contributes something, right? All kidding aside, we have been kicking around the idea of giving him more chores in order to give him a sense of responsibility.

We started with some simple chores, picking up his room (a traditional childhood chore that I never seemed to fully grasp) and cleaning all the window sills once a week. He has been tremendously successful doing that, in fact, the windows have been looking wonderfully due to his diligence. Even better, he has done this work with minimal coercion on our part and minimal complaining on his.

Knowing that his success offered us an opportunity to expand his responsibilities even further, we decided to offer a more serious chore – taking care of the family dog, Tucker. Now, this was potentially tricky, you see, his failure to complete this daily task would result in more work for me. For example, forgetting to take the dog out one day would inevitably lead to Tucker having an “accident” on our bed which would result in major cleaning in the Ryerson household. So you can imagine my trepidation on this next step, although his track record with new chores was excellent.

I pondered this increased work load as I cleaned out the barn. From our barn, I could see the front door of the house and at about that time, I heard the front door slam shut. I looked up and watched my growing boy step down from the front porch and slowly make his way toward the barn. He crossed the yard and came to the small kiddie pool that we had filled earlier in the day as a cool treat for the children. As he passed the pool, he reached down to dip his hand into the water. Somehow, this pushed his little frame off balance; he stumbled, tripped, and started falling in the opposite direction, away from the pool until he was almost ten feet from his original position of stooping to reach the water.

As I watched, I was tickled by the fact that this all seemed to be happening in slow motion. However, this wasn’t the end of the entertainment. In an effort to regain his balance, he overcompensated and started stumbling back toward the pool. Trying to get his feet back under him, he moved his legs quicker as his head moved further forward. By the time he closed the distance back toward the pool, he was in what appeared to be a swan dive position and he went right over the lip of the pool head first into it. Despite the pool being only inches deep, our son seemed to completely submerge himself into the water. Standing up completely soaked and not realizing I was watching he muttered, “Awww man!” and then started laughing at himself.

This is when I realized that we had done something right. Despite the fact he was soaked, he was humble enough to get a chuckle out of the ridiculous situation. When he saw me laughing in the barn, he laughed even harder. Taking care of the dog should be no problem and if he fails from time to time, I should take a lesson from my son and be humble enough to clean up the mess.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The voice of an angel and a voice that is not.

My daughter has the voice of an angel. Of course I say that because she is my daughter. However, she is two years old and any two year old singing, “Jesus Loves Me”, sounds like an angel. She sings all the time and when she doesn’t know a song, she makes up her own. She seems to be developing into a little song bird. I believe she gets this skill and interest from my wife. My wife also has a beautiful voice. Now I know what you are thinking, “Matt, you have to say that because she is your wife.” True. However, others have confirmed this fact as she has been in church choirs for many years, so half of our family of four is musically gifted.

The other half of the family . . . well, let’s just say we have “other” gifts. In fairness, my son doesn’t have a bad singing voice, he just seems disinterested. Every night, we read a book, sing a song, and say our prayers and he seems least interested in singing a song. My hope is that he did not receive the ear for music that his father has. You see, I am not a good singer. To be completely candid, that statement is not completely accurate, it is actually an overstatement of my skills.

To show you just how bad I am, I’ll share a story. When I was in high school, I tried out for the school choir. I was a senior and had enough credits to graduate and I didn’t want to take an additional study hall, so I signed up. Although, deep in the recesses of my mind I believed that it was possible I had some untapped talent that could be released in this class. Once I joined the class, I sang my heart out, I held nothing back. Apparently, holding back is exactly what I should have been doing.

After about three days in the choir, the instructor asked me to stay after class. I thought for certain she was going to offer me my first breakout role and give me a solo in the upcoming school musical. So you can imagine my surprise when she said, “Matt, we are glad you joined choir, but we are going to ask you to . . . well . . . we’d prefer it if you didn’t sing.”

“But this is choir, that’s what you do in choir, SING!” I said in astonishment.

“Yes, that is what makes this so hard,” the instructor responded sheepishly, and she walked away.

I remember storming out of the choir loft believing that she was nuts. I even went home and tape recorded myself and played it back to hear what she was listening to in order to confirm my beliefs. However, after some time I started to realize, wow, I am really not a very good singer. In fact, the more I listened, the worse it got. How had I become so disillusioned?

As you might imagine, I have become hypersensitive to this issue and probably fall on the Simon Cowell side of critical when listening to those around me. So rest assured, if you have the opportunity to hear my wife or daughter sing, you will be blessed, they have voices of angels. On the flip side, don’t sit in front of me at church, praise and worship might just be painful.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How our children view us

Recently, I visited my son at his preschool for “Daddy’s and Donuts Day”. This was a wonderful opportunity for me to squeeze my 6 foot, 200+ lb. frame onto a preschool sized chair and listen to our adorable children describe their daddy’s. You see, the school had them complete a form titled, “All About My Dad”. This was a fun activity as the teacher read the answers our children provided on this simple, fill in the blank form. The answers and how our children see us had the entire class laughing.

The form started with the simple question, “My daddy is ___ tall and weighs ____ pounds.” My son answered that I was 20 feet tall and weighed 30 pounds. This suggests that my son either views me as a bean stalk or he has no concept of height and weight.

He went on to say that he believed I was “17 years old”. My interpretation is that I still look like I am 17 years old.

My Dad’s favorite thing to eat is “Mac and cheese and everything” . . . well, that’s about right.

He likes to watch “football, baseball, hockey, and soccer” on TV. Not sure about the soccer, but I guess the rest is true.

My Dad’s favorite thing to do is “Walk”. Boy, did he swing and miss on this question. I think he is confusing my effort to run with walking, but that’s an easy mistake considering my slow pace . . . and I don’t “like” it.

I like it when he “Lets mommy drive the car”. Not sure where this one comes from, kind of makes me feel like a controlling husband. Do I force her into the passenger seat? Oh well, he’ll be easy to please in the future, “Here honey, why don’t you make your son happy and drive us to Mississippi, I’ll take a nap.”

Since “Daddy’s and Donuts Day,” he has graduated preschool (with a full graduation ceremony, including cap, gown, and diploma) and lost his first tooth. Fortunately, these two things are not directly related except the fact that they are major milestones for our first born. While mommy and daddy struggle to accept the pace at which our children’s lives move forward, my son summed it all best when he pulled his tooth out by himself in the backseat of the car, held it up in his hand and calmly said, “That was better than I thought.”

We could probably take his words to heart. My son will not always see me as a 20 foot tall, mac and cheese eating 17 year old, but today he does and that feels better than I thought.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My son is graduating and I've caught my pants on fire!

After the storm, we were left with a number of downed trees in our yard. As the man of the house, it was my responsibility to get my chainsaw out and start taking those trees apart. Unfortunately, I do not own a chainsaw, so I had to wait for a crew of skilled woodsman to come help me. I felt much like a damsel in distress. Nonetheless, the burly bear men came to my house and cut up my trees as I delivered them cold cups of lemonade. Is this a mild exaggeration . . . maybe mild, but you get my point. At least I was able to remove the brush and stack the wood, but, for the first time in my life, I felt completely helpless and removed from that action around me.

This continued on earlier this week when we took my son to register for Kindergarten. My son is five and he has been in church nurseries, parents night out events, and pre-school programs, but those were all short-term and temporary. Kindergarten is the beginning of formal education and represents long-term and permanent change. I was concerned about how my son would take the transition until we got to registration. Immediately he gravitated to another young boy, also registering for kindergarten with his grandmother.

My son walked up to the boy and said, “Hi, want to come to my house and play?” so much for my concerns about making friends. It was at that moment that I realized that it wasn’t my son I was worried about, it was me. The world is moving around me and I am just beginning to recognize how little control I have.

I continued to work around the pile of burning brush in our yard, trying to remove the evidence of the devastation our community has suffered and I pondered this reality. My control is limited, even in areas where I thought I had total control, I have little. I was deep in thought and pondering this firm reality when I felt a stinging on my calf. I believed I had probably stepped onto a nest of fire ants and looked down at my pants to determine the source of this stinging when I realized I had gotten too close to the burn pile and caught myself on fire. Yes, my pant leg was aflame. I quickly put myself out (never thought I’d write that sentence) and laughed. I had been so distracted by what I could not control, that I lost sight of what I could . . . case in point – catching myself on fire.

As we walked our son up to the school to register for school, he turned to me and in an excited tone asked, “Daddy, is this for real? Is this really happening?” I smiled and realizing that I did not want to miss the joy of watching him grow up by focusing on my lack of control, I said to myself, “Yes it is, and I will sit back and enjoy it with you.” Maybe now I can focus on burning that brush and not my pants.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A welcome respite, well, sort of . . .

I never thought running a half marathon would be considered a welcome respite, but considering the events in our community over the last two weeks, it turned out to be exactly that . . . at least for the first eight miles.

As many of you know, I had committed to running a half marathon some time ago. My purpose for doing this was purely selfish – to help motivate me to get in shape. At some level it worked, I lost 25 pounds and was in good shape. But considering the tragedy that has befallen our community, I decided to be less selfish and take a more community-minded approach. I embraced an idea my good friend, William Lamb suggested. You see, William was one of the many victims of the storms of April 27th, suffering major damage to his home and property. He is also one of the most selfless people I know in that he served his community for endless hours over the past two weeks despite his own losses. His suggestion was to commit a portion of our community to prayer every mile of the run. I decided this was a wonderful idea and committed to prayer, beginning with mile one and William and his family.

However, the run was not without its comical moments. It started on about mile nine, with my pace slowing, I noticed spectators were pointing behind me. This is when a young man passed me . . . as he juggled. I don’t think there is much I can say about that.

Nonetheless, this embarrassment did not diminish my effort (only bruised my pride) because my true motivation was waiting for me at the end of the race. My wife and children had taken position just yards before from the finish line. My son was excited and was somehow under the delusion that I could win the race and when they arrived at the finish line, he said, “Mommy, I think daddy is in first place.” Then after many minutes and watching hundreds of runners cross the line, it became obvious that my son had significantly overestimated my speed and said, “Mommy, maybe daddy is in last place,” just another image of his father crushed by reality.

While patiently waiting for daddy to finally arrive, our son needed to take a potty break. My wife quickly whisked him to the nearest port-a-potty and told him to go on in. He opened the door and stopped, looking back at mommy, unsure of himself. My wife, sensing his fear of going alone was causing him pause, told him, “Go on, it’s okay.”

He started to go in, but stopped again, this time, dead in his tracks, he looked at my wife and simply shook his head no. My son was not typically this nervous, so my wife asked him what was wrong. This is when my son shared his true issue, in a quiet voice, he simply said, “Mommy, there is someone in there.” He obviously went in the next one.

As I approached the finish line, I stopped for hugs and kisses, only to have my son yell, “Daddy, GO!” He was probably fearful I would lose my place on the podium.

As I crossed the finish line (finally), I could not help but be overwhelmed by the blessings in my life and the devastation my community had suffered. I decided at that moment that I would not just commit my run to prayer for the people and families in my community. I would commit my daily life to prayer for the people and families in my community. Maybe it’ll help me forget those painful last five miles.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Our Tornado Story

I am sorry I have been absent from the blog.  As you might know, we were directly impacted by the devastation the stroms of April 27th brought to Bradley County, we witnessed a firsthand a EF-4 tornado coming directly at our home, suffered minor property damage and had no power for over a week.  Nonetheless, we are blessed.  So many people lost so much and yet the spirit of this community has risen above.  Since most of you are friends and family from around the country, I wanted to share my families story during this devastation, so here it is;

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had grown up in the Midwest, so I had seen a number of tornados in my life, but this one seemed to be only a couple hundred yards away coming across the field directly at our home. I was stunned. So stunned that I asked my wife to look out the window to confirm what I was seeing.

“Should we get the kids?” she wisely and calmly asked.

After another moment of disbelief, I screamed “YES!”

We sprinted to the kid’s rooms, snatched them out of their beds and dove into a closet in the bathroom. In the chaos, we had forgotten the dog, I opened the door to go back and get him and when I did, my ears began to pop as the house pressurized from the force of the tornado. Looking back at this moment, I realize that is was the first time in my life that I felt completely and utterly helpless. I knew we were in a dire situation and I also knew there was nothing we could do about it.

Earlier that day, as the local news media warned our community of the impending storms, my wife took the time to walk around our house and our property praying protection over our family and our belongings. I honestly thought she was being a little dramatic as I had lived in placed where tornados dwell and it is rare that you would see one, much less, that it would actually hit your home. However, in hindsight, I firmly believe that her decision and faithfulness had a direct impact on how this story ended for our family.

After a few minutes in the closet listening to the screaming wind and the crashing trees outside, the storm began to subside. I emerged from our shelter to assess the damages, fully prepared for the worst. As I walked around the inside and outside of our home, I quickly realized the damage was minimal. I started questioning whether it was actually a tornado I saw. It wasn’t till the next morning that we fully realized the impact of what happened and the devastation that surrounded us.

The next morning, as we walked the neighborhood, we realized that we had taken a direct hit from one of nature’s most powerful forces. Six wooded acres to our West were leveled, with nearly every home sustaining serious to total damage; an entire forest to the East of property was laid flat with a subdivision on the other side being leveled. In between these areas of devastation sat our home with our family huddled in a closet. Our house was literally sitting in the middle of the path of this monster and remained nearly untouched . . . a miracle by any standard. We were spared, not that we deserved it, but simply by the grace of God.

Since the storm, we witnessed a woman folding clothes in her baby’s nursery from the street because the home had no roof and walls. We witnessed a best friend’s home and property destroyed beyond recognition. We witnessed the aftermath of our car picked up and moved like it was a Hot Wheels, telephone poles tossed like toothpicks, trees snapped like twigs, and buildings crushed like they were built out of Lego’s.

However, since that time, we have also witnessed people serving. We witnessed Lee University students volunteering for 14 hour days the weekend before Final Exam week. We have witnessed organizations that are natural competitors, sharing offices, sharing resources, and sharing information. We have witnessed grassroots, volunteer operations through schools and churches putting people in the disaster stricken areas, reaching out to serve their neighbors. I have witnessed that inspirational spirit that makes our community so legendary. Despite my wish to have our community free from this devastation, I am grateful to have witnessed it all.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ready, set, "Wanna Race" . . . GO!

The consequences to my actions lay only a few days away. This seemed like such a great idea when I signed up 6 months ago. I knew it would motivate me to get in shape and lose weight and it did, but now it is here . . . an experience of pure torture called the Nashville Half Marathon and I’ll be running (uh, maybe jogging . . . uh, maybe) the entire 13.1 miles this Saturday. Just this week I received my confirmation email (I guess it took them this long to coordinate the proper medical personnel in order to let this fat guy run the race) with my corral assignment. I'll probably need to explain what a corral is, although, you can probably figure it out from the title. Because this particular event has so many registered runners (around 35,000 are expected this year . . . yes, I said 35,000 runners), logistically, you simply cannot have a mass start (although it would be funny to see 35,000 runners try and line up on "Ready, Set, Go!"). So the organizers have essentially created waves of 1,000 people at a time (these waves are separated by about 1-2 minutes, giving time for the runners to spread out a bit and allowing the course to not be too crowded. If you do the math, that means there will be approximately 35 waves. It sounds like a mess . . . and it is, except it is strangely an organized mess.
Some of you may be concerned, "But Matt, what about your course record-setting time? If you start later than others, don't they have an advantage?"
Thanks for your concern, but ultimately my record-setting time is safe no matter where I start. You see, a timer chip is placed in your shoe that triggers a clock when you cross the start line and again when you cross the finish line, so the timing is an accurate result of your run (there goes one excuse). Nonetheless, there is some strategy in corral position. The theory is, put the faster runners at the front and the slower runners at the back in order to prevent the speed demons from running over the tortoises. I, qualify as a tortoise, so theoretically, I should be at the back (corral #34 would probably be appropriate).
However, because I was looking forward to this event with so much anticipation, I signed up early . . . very early. So early in fact, I was one of the first 2000 people to sign up for the event. I can almost hear your minds figuring this out. Yes, this is where the theoretical system fails. If there are 1,000 people PER CORRAL and if you are one of the first 2,000 people to sign up, even if you are the slowest person of those 2,000 . . . your race position will be in corral #2. So here we go, this Saturday, in an event with about 35,000 runners, including Olympic hopefuls and World Record setters, I will be toeing the line in corral #2.
I will probably be shoulder to shoulder with some wiry, professional Kenyan marathoner. So I’ve decided on my strategy. I'll put my toe on the line (slightly in front of his) and slowly turn my face to lock eyes with this key competitor. We'll size each other up (this should take him significantly longer as there is much more of me to size up) and I'll give him that intimidating Clint Eastwood squint.
Then, for all the fat guys in the world who have never won a race, in a low, gravelly voice, I'll say, "Wanna race?” Before he laughs and before the gun goes off and I am exposed for the snail that I am, I will have that one shining moment of glory, I was winning a half marathon against a true professional . . . unfortunately, this is when they will say, “Ready, Set, GO!”

Monday, April 25, 2011

5 days and counting . . .

"So Matt, how is the training going?"  Common question now that most of my friends and family know that I am running the Half Marathon.

My typical response is, "Good, lost 25 pounds, running 25+ miles per week, feeling okay"

Then the next question comes, "You ready for Saturday?"  Saturday being this Saturday, Saturday, April 30th, only 5 days away.  This Saturday being the Nashville Half Marathon.  13.1 miles of pure torture and pain.

My typical response to this question is, "WHAT?!?!? It's this Saturday?!?!  How did that happen?!?!  I am totally not ready!"  Or something to that affect.

13.1 miles is a long ways.  To give me perspective, I did some quick math.  I drive (drive, not run) 6.7 miles to work, about half of what I'll run on Saturday.  When hearing this, a friend said to me, "Well, you should run to work in the morning and run home that night, that would be perfect training, why don't you do that?" 

And my calm response went something like this, "BECAUSE THAT IS OVER 13 MILES, WHO DOES THAT?!?!"  Well, this Saturday I am. 

In truth, the training has been good.  Other than a few small back problems, I have felt good and am looking forward to the event.  I have lost 25 pounds and can see the difference in the mirror.  Going to Nashville is always fun.  Nashville supports this race in an amazing way.  Over 35,000 participants and many more than 100,000 cheering you on, it is hard not to be motivated. 

Now I am in my taper down week.  All the Half Marathon traning sites say to dwindle your training time and mileage the week before the big run (how about dwindling down to NOTHING!).   Where I have been watching calories and saturated fats for the last 8 weeks, I can start to "carb. up", highlighted with a big pasta dinner the night before the race.  For one week I can say I need to exercise less and eat more . . . wouldn't that be an AWESOME New Year's Resolution?  Now the experts don't necessarily agree with this, but you can't do EVERYTHING the experts say, right?  Nonetheless, I am very excited about this event and plan on doing a couple more posts this week to give you final updates and preparations for the big race.

You know me, I'd be remiss if I didn't hit you up one last time, so, here we go, if you can find some pocket change to support me, please go to and give whatever you can afford.  It all goes to a great cause, the People for Care and Learning - the Run for Hope (which I'll need A LOT of to make it the full 13.1 miles).  They serve children and families all over the world with a focus in SE Asia.  Visit for more information.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Learning (and teaching) how to ride a bike!

One of my most favorite childhood pastimes is riding a bike. I have a difficult time pinpointing exactly why that is the case, but it seems to be a universal feeling as I hear the same type of reaction from most people I know. Maybe it’s the freedom and independence that it represents; maybe it’s the speed, maybe it’ the cool factor. Whatever the case, some of my fondest childhood memories were created on the bike.

I still remember my first bike, the Red Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat. I would put my baseball cards (doubles only, especially those of the hate Yankees) in the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle. I remember practicing slamming on the brakes in an effort to leave skid marks on the driveway concrete (a pastime my mother was not quite as fond of). These are all memories that have become reasons I looked forward to teaching my son how to ride his bike.

My son has been pedaling around with training wheels for a while now, but just hasn’t worked up the balance to tackle riding without them. But when we moved to our new house over the winter, one of the lost treasures we found left behind in the barn by the former owners was a child’s bike (made to look like a motorized dirt bike). Now this bike was old, covered in dust, had two flat tires, the stylish flame stickers were peeling off, and it had a rusty old chain that looked like it hadn’t tasted oil in a decade, but my son immediately fell in love with it. We pulled it out into the light of day for what was probably the first time in years and dusted it off. My son immediately wanted to get on this rusty steed and give it a spin around the yard. I hesitated, but knew this was a golden opportunity.

Fortunately, our yard has a slight downhill pitch to it, perfect for someone trying to gain a little (but not too much) momentum on a bike, especially someone who is five years old and just learning how to ride. Unfortunately, this type of arrangement makes learning to ride a bike similar to sledding . . . ride down the hill, walk back up the hill, and repeat (over and over again). We went to the top of the hill and before my son got on the bike, he reminded me he needed a helmet. After getting his helmet properly positioned on his head, he got on the bike. At this moment, we were positioned in the traditional “dad teaching son how to ride bike” position. My son was tentatively holding on to the handlebars, both feet on the pedals, and I had my hand on the back of the seat. Mommy was properly positioned with the camera and little sister was cheering him on. After taking a second to breathe in this potential milestone, my son yelled what every boy his age would say, “Let’s do daddy!” So, off we went, me running behind him with one hand safely secured under his seat, huffing and puffing while yelling, “PEDAL, PEDAL!”

That is when I pulled the necessary trick every mom or dad who has taught their children to ride a bike had to pull . . . I let go. And just as expected, he slowly rode away with a smile on his face, enjoying the freedom, independence, speed, and cool factor this rickety, rundown bike gave him. Whatever the case, I had just passed along a great tradition and I was there to experience every stroke of the pedal running right by his side.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Fat Guy (me) is singing!

If you are reading this because you were excited by my Facebook post of "big announcement", please be prepared to be woefully disappointed.  But for those of you who are interested, which probably includes my wife and maybe the dog (and his interest is questionable), my athletic career is slowly winding down (probably better described as a screeching halt, like a big, fat locomotive that just slammed on the brakes).  I can hear all the cries of disappointment and I appreciate your love, but I just can't go on any longer (I'll spare you the professional athlete excuses of "wanting to spend more time with my family," or "I've accomplished all I want to accomplish in the game," because I have always spent time with my family, that's why I run at 5:30 a.m. and I haven't accomplished ANYTHING in running!)  However, I have committed to running the Nashville Half-Marathon for the purpose of raising money for the People for Care and Learning, a great organization that is doing amazing work for the people of SE Asia (, and I plan to see that through, so consider supporting my efforts by giving whatever you might afford to

I mean, seriously, if I can get up at 5:17 a.m. (by an old habit, I must set my alarm clock on odd number NOT ending in 5 . . . yes, it sounds crazy and my wife would agree with you, but that's a different story), run on a treadmill for an hour and 15 minutes in total pain, couldn't you find it in your heart to support these courageous efforts with a small donation (how about that for an awesome guilt trip, how could you say "no" to that)?

Unfortunately, the back problems I suffered two years ago in my training for Nashville have struck again.  I have throbbing pain running down my lower back, into my hip and all the way down to my knee.  Now if you are one of my doctor friends (of which I have none), I know you'll probably say, "Go get that checked out!"  And I will relieve your concern by saying, I have.  I know what the problem is at it isn't fixable except by surgery and I am not willing to submit to back surgery at this point. 

You ever hear the joke of the guy that goes to the doctor and says my elbow hurts when I move my arm like this (imagine this guy twisting his arm into an awkward position behind his back) and the doctor simply says, "Then don't move your arm like that."  Well, that is the solution to my problem.  My back hurts when I run, the solution is to stop the pounding on my back and hang up the running shoes.  So, once Nashville is over, I'll solve this pain problem and stop doing the thing that causes the pain . . . running.  It is true.  You won't see my blazing speed on the treadmill at the Y or at the Greenway (which shouldn't be missed, since I didn't have blazing speed to start).  Yes, I am retiring.  The fat guy (me) is singing.  Thanks for your support along the way (and for not laughing at me as I plod along) and if you feel really sorry for me, show me by giving to the above cause (another sorry guilt trip, don't you love it?)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

7 . . . 8 . . . 9 . . . 10 - Ready or not, here I come!

When I was a child, hide-and-seek was one of my favorite games. Specifically, I liked the hiding element of the game. In fact, I was quite good at it. I found that I was able to find excellent hiding spots and stay there motionless and quiet for long periods of time. So, when my son challenged me to the very game I had mastered years ago, I was excited to show him how a skilled tactician can dominate the game (never mind that he is only 5 years old, he is the one that laid down the challenge).

We started the game with my son taking his turn as the hider. He immediately went to his room to find a spot, an amateur mistake because of its obviousness. Nonetheless, when I finally completed my slow count, “7 . . . 8 . . . 9 . . . 10, ready or not, here I come!”, I wandered around the house, calling out his name, listening to his cute giggles from his room as I would swing open the curtains in the living room and yell, “Are you here?!?! No, not here, come out, come out, wherever you are!”

Finally, after searching nearly every room in the house, I entered his room and found him dug in behind his bed. Not a bad first effort despite the obvious location and the on-going giggling which too easily gave away his position. But the search was fun and the joy of hearing him giggle for 10 minutes was immeasurable.

However, don’t think my joy in playing with my son made me “soft”, because it did not. It was my son’s turn to count and my turn to hide. We immediately ran into the age old, hide-and-seek problem in that my son, the seeker, had a real challenge in keeping his eyes closed while counting. So I pulled a classic fake out. As he was peeking out between his fingers, I moved as if going to the living room, but when I saw his eyes completely covered, I switched directions, instead hiding in the bathroom behind the door. The text book hide-and-seek move worked perfectly as my son first searched the living room. He was somewhat confused when he realized I was not there. This is when the teacher (me) started his hide-and-seek lesson.

As my son walked by the bathroom, not looking in because the light was out, I moved into the living room, a previously searched area and therefore an unlikely spot for the 5 year old seeker to return. This was a perfect move and strategy, except for one small problem, the 2 year old sister. The move drew the attention of my daughter, who at that moment was not playing the game (or so I thought). Seeing daddy running down the hall was funny, so she squealed and chased me yelling, “Daddy, find me!” My daughter, who has yet to completely understand the physics of hiding, being caught several times behind a chair with her eyes covered, thinking if she could not see me, I could not see her, is the one who exposed my strategically sound movements.

Obviously, this drew the attention of my son and daddy was caught. As we continued the game, it got worse as the dog started following me around, standing just outside of every hiding position. It was only then, after several efforts at hiding, only to be quickly caught, that I realized; the teacher, had become the student. My son, was the new master of hide-and-seek in our home with his carefully positioned lookouts. Now, if he can get the giggling under control, he’ll be difficult to find. Although, in truth, I hope the giggling never stops.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pushing forward

If you've been following my blog or my life in general (which, if that is true, please allow me to apologize), you probably know that I have been in training for the Nashville Half Marathon on Saturday, April 30th.  This is a day I look forward to with much anticipation, although, probably not for the reasons you might guess.  I am looking forward to it because that is the day that this "training" will be over. 

Now, don't worry, I will continue to work out, but I like to swim, bike, and do other forms of exercise.  In preparation for this run I have fully committed myself to running . . . which hurts.  Not like the injury type of pain many people complain of, no, this is just the "I don't like to run, so I like to complain" type of hurt.  I NEVER feel good after running.  I feel good that I've done it, like somebody will feel good once you've completed your taxes and paid the IRS your tax bill, but my body doesn't feel good.  I just feel good that it's over and not hanging over my head any more.

Nonetheless, you (my blog readers) are my accountability partner (or partners, IF, more than one person actually reads this), so with that, I give you my latest training results.  I ran the 65 Rose 5K on Saturday at Lee University in an inhuman time of 32:38.  When I say "inhuman", I am obviously being sarcastic, as the only "inhuman" part is that how can anyone go that slow.  Simply put, that time is pretty slow.  Nevermind that the guy with the prosthetic leg (an actual and TRUE athlete), the pregnant woman, and Dr. Paul Conn (in my defense, despite being slightly older than me, he is an amazing runner with an incredible record of distance running) all beat me.  So here is my excuse, when I push beyond the 6 mph rate, my back starts hurting, so I am trying to keep it down.  There, does that work for you?  The truth is, overall I felt good.  This morning, I ran 6.1 miles in about 1 hour and 5 minutes.  This is about the same pace as the 65 Roses, so I am on track.  My legs have been a little tight this morning, but I am hanging in there.  What does this all mean?  What is my prediction for Nashville?  In the words of the legendary Mr. T from Rocky III, "PAIN!"

But my most important goal is where I am failing.  My goal to rais $3000 for the People for Care and Learning through this event is moving slow and I am asking for you help (this will prevent me from writing a bad $3000 check to a nonprofit that would bounce and ultimately cause me much embarrassment, so please, PLEASE visit  and give anything you can afford.  Remember, this goes to an amazing organization that does amazing work worldwide (visit for more information).

Thanks for the great support, I have a terrific cheering section.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The "love" we give the family dog.

Our children love our dog, Tucker. In fact, everyone in our home loves Tucker. He is truly a member of the family. Unfortunately for Tucker, how our family displays this “love” can sometimes be . . . well . . . painful. The children love hugging, squeezing, and petting the dog. If Tucker were to translate that, it would mean that they are chasing him around the house, jerking his tails and ears, and tackling him at every opportunity. At times, it looks so rough that I worry about his safety, but he hardly whimpers.

The kids have figured out they can get Tucker to chase them when they steal his toy and he’ll even play tug-o-war with them. Although, he must be smarter than we give him credit for as he often, seemingly intentionally and strategically, will let go of the tug toy at just the right moment, sending the children flying backwards as they give a big pull with no resistance from the dog. The other game of chase, where the children chase the dog, seems more like a race for survival for the dog as he runs, jumps, and dives under furniture to keep away from the “love” the children are attempting to give him. Once caught, he is hugged, squeezed, and wrestled to the ground. He has figured out that the best defense mechanism in this situation is his tongue. A good slobbery lick across the face typically sends the kids diving away, wiping their faces yelling, “Argh,” temporarily releasing their prisoner.

Another example of the “love” our dog gets for being a part of our family occurred recently when we had our son take the dog outside on one of those retractable leads and when he returned, he kept the dog on this lead in the house. He closed the dog on the opposite side of a glass door and slowly backed away, stretching the lead to its maximum. My wife noticed this strange development and asked him what he was doing. Our son, in a tone that suggested he was stating the obvious said, “I wanted to see how far the lead would go.” Tucker, just sat at the end of the extended lead with those sad eyes seemingly saying, “Are you really just going to sit there and watch this?”

Unfortunately for Tucker, he is not immune from this sort of “love” from the adults either. You see, Tucker is a cute dog. So cute, in fact, that nearly everyone assumes he, is a she. So in an effort to make him more manly looking, we gave him a haircut . . . a Mohawk to be precise. That poor dog could hardly show his face around the house he was so embarrassed. The good news is that it had the desired effect, as we have fewer cases of mistaken gender identity now.

But before you start feeling sorry for Tucker, know that at the end of the day, he climbs up on our bed, makes at least a dozen circles trying to find that most comfortable spot, does a little digging in a totally inappropriate location (our brand new comforter) showing his ancestral instincts that no longer have any value in his life, before he plops down for another long nap. This is seemingly makes up his existence, a series of long, lazy naps, interrupted only to eat and suffer some small indignity by our family.

Although our son made it clear recently, that despite his affection for Tucker, he is disappointed with one shortcoming. When asked what he wants for his upcoming birthday, he said, “A talking dog that is not a robot.”

When you get up from your nap, Tucker, speak!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep running Matt, keep running!

Well, for those of you who are asking yourselves, "I wonder how the training for the Nashville Half Marathon is going for that fat guy?"  In my estimation, it is going well.  I still don't feel good when I run (not sure that day will ever come), but I hurt less (baby steps, right?).  I am running around 25 miles a week now, which is good for me (if you are some ultramarathoner, please do not post a comment about how you run twice as much).  My speed is creeping up slowly ("slowly" and "creeping" are two perfect words to describe my running style) and I am seeing overall improvement.  I've been talking to several people about the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon (Saturday, April 30th), which is only a little more than 4 weeks away and I am actually starting to get excited.  This run is one of the premier Half-Marathons in the country (coming from I guy who has run a grand total of two). 

But what I am really excited about is the opportunity to raise money for a great cause.  If you want to support me or motivate me, please consider giving to the cause I am running for - the People for Care and Learning ( in what they are calling the "Run for Hope".  This organization is doing AMAZING things in SE Asia.  A perfect example is that for only a $10 gift, you can help a family in Cambodia who are currently drinking filthy water with a water filtration system.  This small gift can ultimately save children's lives!  So, go to and give today.  Even a gift of $10 can save a life in Cambodia . . . and help to serve as motivation for me!

A quick story.  I got on the treadmill this morning for a 4.5 mile run and a friend got on the one next to me, we started running at about the same time.  As he was running, I asked him how far he was going, he said he was going about the same distance as me.  I was at 3.85 miles and he started his cool down . . . yes, I am that slow.  Nonetheless, I finished the 4.5 miles (even went out to 4.65 miles because I had a little extra time) and felt good doing it.

Someone asked me my goals in running this half and I was hesitant to say, because that makes me accountable and nobody likes being held accountable for what they say, especially me.  But, in an effort to be transparent (another word I am not a fan of), I'd like to finish . . . yes, finish.  Not good enough you say?  I'd like to beat my time from 2 years ago = 2 hours and 24 minutes.  Not sure about that, my training was derailed by a nasty cold for a couple weeks, but we'll see what I can do.  What is my real goal?  To raise $3000 for People for Care and Learning on this run.  You can't help me with goal #1 and #2 (unless you want to run in my place), but you can help with #3, so consider giving at the link above!

Thanks for your support and I'll try not to embarrass myself, although that would make for a great blog entry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cost Benefit Analysis of a Four Year Old

In everything we do, we do a mental cost-benefit analysis. Most are very simple and don’t need much assessment, but the truth is, we all do it. For example, while sitting on the couch, watching the last two minutes of the game, your wife yells from the kitchen, “Matt (which would be weird, unless your name is Matt), come in here right now and look at this!” In this situation, I have several options; (a) Yell back, “No, you come here right now and tell me about it!”, (b) Get off the couch at the next commercial break and saunter out into the kitchen, (c) Jump off the couch and sprint to the kitchen.

Now, a quick cost-benefit analysis tells me that that in option (a), the “cost” associated with the above comment will far outweigh the benefit of seeing the last two minutes of the game. In fact, in all likelihood, I wouldn’t see the final two minutes of the game anyways because the TV would be tossed out the window. A similar analysis of option (b) would suggest that the penalties for my slow response might not result in a broken TV, but anger and frustration nonetheless. So while the consequences are less severe, the cost still outweighs the benefit (for you gentlemen that disagree with my analysis . . . your wife is either a saint, or she is plotting her revenge as we speak). Option (c) is obviously the best choice . . . at least for me in my household.

My son is learning to do a similar analysis of difficult situations. Recently, while riding through the yard on his motorized toy tractor, my son almost hit the dog. Seeing that our dog is a member of our family, I said, “Don’t hit the dog or I’ll take that tractor away from you for being irresponsible.” He stops the motor and looks up thoughtfully as if pondering this dilemma. As moments pass, I can almost hear his inner-voice, “If I hit the dog, it might be funny, but I’ll lose the tractor. How long is it worth losing the tractor to see the dog jump?”

In an effort to get the answer to that question, he asks me, “Forever?” Now, at four years old, these are terms he is utilizing on a regular basis – always, never, and forever. My guess is, at four, everything except immediate satisfaction feels like forever.

However, in this case, by looking at the expression on his face (and by being someone with great experience in this type of assessment), I recognize he is doing a cost-benefit analysis. I also know that he is probably thinking that “forever” is probably too high a cost to pay. So, like any responsible, caring, respectable parent, I respond by saying, “Yes, forever!” Alright, I might have exaggerated a bit, but as I watched his shoulders sag, and disappointment spread across his face, I knew that it probably saved the dogs life.

He disappointedly looked at the dog and said, “Alright Tucker, get out of the way.” And so, the cost-benefit training has begun for this little boy. In a couple decades, his wife can thank me as he jumps off the couch to help her in the kitchen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I wonder if I can still make a dentist appointment?

Many of you may already know, in an effort to whip myself into shape, I have agreed to run a half marathon. When I made this decision, other activities seemed more appealing to me, like going to the dentist, or being stuck in the eye by a hot stick, but the health benefits seemed to be greater with running than with those activities, so I went with the half marathon.

Some have asked if that distance is difficult, to which I respond, “Duh, it’s 13.1 miles!” But the truth is that the training is difficult part. The day after day, week after week of running on the treadmill or on city streets is the most challenging component. The day of the race is actually a relief (imagine hearing this at the finish line, “Yes! It’s all over! I can quit training!”). Look, my body just isn’t made to run. I watch some guys run and they look like a sports car, it is natural for them. I am more like a tractor. Have you ever gotten behind a big tractor while it is driving down the road? Then you know what it is like to watch me run. The terms, lumbering, slow, and awkward have all been used to describe my running style.

Others have asked, “Once you get in your running groove, do you feel that runners’ high?” My answer is simply, “No, I have never felt a runners’ high. I have felt runners’ pain, does that count?” Nonetheless, my training began about six weeks ago and besides some time off due to illness, I have been faithfully working out during that time. I have already seen some benefits; like having more energy and losing some weight. But, I also have felt the side effects of this big guy running; a sore back, knees, ankles, and wrist (You may be asking yourself, wrist? Well, at this point, I hate running so much, that any pain or discomfort I experience, I blame on running, so yes, my wrist).

So why do I do this if it just results in pain and complaining? Well, I’ll give you the standard answer . . . for my health. I want energy for my kids and a long life with my family. While that answer is certainly true, there is also another motivating factor. When I signed up to run this torture test (it sounded like a great idea at the time, of course, I hadn’t run a single mile in a while and the pain involved clearly had slipped my mind), I paid a $100 nonrefundable entry fee and booked a hotel room. My negative feelings about running pale in comparison to my cheapness and there is no way I am throwing away that type of money, so, suffer, I will. With my money protected, my training keeps plodding (probably the perfect word to describe my training) along.

During a recent training session on our property, my son decided to come out to join me. I took great pride in the fact that I could easily outrun his John Deere tractor (forget the fact that it was a toy and the packaging said it was 3 year olds and up). He had to adjust his strategy to stay with me (since I was leaving him in the dust) and started just cutting across the middle of the yard just to catch me on the far side and say, “Hi Daddy”. This, by the way, was the best cheering section I’ve ever had and a wonderful motivator. Eventually I hit my cool down lap and my son got off of his tractor and walked with me. I was walking at a quick pace, so he would fall back a bit and have to run to catch up. After weeks of training, my son summed up my feelings best when at the end of our cool down lap he said, “Boy, all this running sure is tiring, let’s go in the house and rest.” My sentiments exactly, maybe I can still change my plans and make a dentist appointment.

For information on how you can support me on this run and an incredible nonprofit organization at the same time, see the posting below.

Run for Hope

Yes, I am doing it again, I am running the Nashville 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, April 30th (that's 13.1 miles . . . slightly further than I drive to and from work everyday). So what is this about, have I lost my mind? Well . . . yes I have. But at least I am doing it for a good cause. This year I am running for the nonprofit, People for Care and Learning ( They have titled this event the Run for Hope. No, it isn't Matt Ryerson's Hope I can Run, it's the RUN FOR HOPE!

PCL has done a tremendous amount of work in SE Asia serving those in poverty with very little hope. They have supplied water filters for children who were drinking filthy river water and built homes for families living in the streets. This is an incredible organization with incredible leadership. It is definitely something I support and something you can get behind.

I say all that only to let you know I haven't totally lost my mind (only partially) and I hope that you can find a way to support me in this effort. To give, simple go to my fundraising website at and give. You can give a set amount or a per mile rate (remember, that is 13.1 miles . . . ouch!)

Keep visiting the blog and I'll keep you updated on my training (and pain).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The early bird gets the worm . . . whatever.

The early bird gets the worm. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Who said that junk? Seriously, who likes to get up early? I know, my grandfather, who was a farmer, did more before sunrise than most people do all day, but he also ate dinner at 4:00 p.m. and was in bed at 8:00 p.m.. That’s just not normal, besides, he missed all the good television shows! He would tell us he’d be up at the rooster’s crow, but I am not so sure the rooster was actually awake. In fact, I believe he went out and woke the rooster up and the rooster was probably saying the same thing I say now, “What are you doing up so early?!?!”

Now, if you are one of those people who gets up early every morning and watches the sun rise, I am impressed, in fact, I may envy you just a bit (a very small bit). Unfortunately, my wife and I aren’t exactly what you would describe as “morning people”. The only reason I get up before dawn is because I need to do it to stay employed and my wife, doesn’t really get going until she has that first cup of coffee.

Years ago, when we were newly married, we loved our Saturdays as they were reserved for sleeping in and eating a late breakfast. Then we had kids. Now, don’t for a second get me wrong, we absolutely love our children, no hesitation or doubt about it. I just have the ability to show them how much I love them a little better AFTER 9:00 a.m.

When they were first born, their sleeping habits were all over the place, and that is to be expected. I mean crying babies at 3:00 a.m. are something we were prepared for with newborns. The good news is, cribs today are generally created to prevent children from escaping. Which means, on any given Saturday morning, when a child in a crib wakes up pre-6:00 a.m., you can simply wait them out until they fall back asleep. Unfortunately, they eventually figure out that if they scream, “MOMMA!” for long enough, that someone will come (interpret “someone” as momma).

Also, somewhere along the line, the child outgrows the crib and moves into a bed where we, as parents, can no longer cage them in. This is when problems can develop for parents who prefer to sleep late. Our son, was a prime example. When he figured out his new found freedom, we had a 5:00 a.m. visitor to our room several days in a row, singing, “Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning, to you and you and you!” (oh how I regretted teaching him that song!). Finally, a tired mother laid down the law - nobody gets out of bed before the sun gets out of bed. I think that is a policy that the whole world should adopt it. The world would probably be a happier and more peaceful place to live if we did.

Nonetheless, our children are consistent breakers of this policy. We’ve tried everything, including letting them stay up late the night before, in hopes of getting them tired enough to sleep late. Nonetheless, their little biological clocks tick on and they wake up happy excited to tackle the day. Maybe like my grandfather, they’ll get more done before dawn than most get done all day. Maybe they’ll get that proverbial worm . . . but then, who really wants a worm that early in the morning anyways?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Be sweet to your little sister . . . or not.

My son can be a sweet boy. Recently, when my wife told him she loved him, he turned to her and said in a sweet voice, “Awwwww, such a precious mommy.” We have no idea where he got that, but it was sweet nonetheless. Another example of the potential he has to be sweet was one recent afternoon when my wife was generally not feeling well, he went and got her a cold glass of water without her even asking. He just wanted to help his mommy feel better.

Unfortunately, with his little sister, some of his sweetness evaporates. I guess this isn’t all that uncommon. The fights my brother and I had as children have legendary status. I wasn’t necessarily a sweet big brother, in fact, I was downright mean. At some level, I probably feel some sort of guilt for trying to torture my brother (although I have a difficult time finding it), so I want my son to be a different big brother . . . a sweet big brother.

The good news is, our son isn’t usually overtly mean (although he’ll occasionally take things from her and refuse to share – and drawing blood is only an occasional consequence). Like many younger siblings, our daughter clearly looks up to her brother. She often follows him around the house and mimics his behaviors (unfortunately, this includes both good and bad behaviors). On one recent occasion, she followed him into his room in an effort to get him to play with her. He was clearly annoyed by this and certainly didn’t want his little sister tagging along, so he picked up one of the dogs toys, threw it out of his room and yelled, “Fetch!” I’ll give him points for being creative, I would just yell at my little brother, “Get out!” and push him out of my room. What is most interesting is that our dog doesn’t even fetch, so what made his think his little sister would fetch is anybody’s guess.

Despite this, we continue to parent him to be sweet to his sister and we believe he will eventually grow to understand she’s not just a pest, but his loving little sister. In fact, just recently, my son found a bag of M&M’s in the house. Chocolate being his third favorite food group, following closely behind cookies and Cheetos, he did not delay in tearing the bag open and digging in. Suddenly, without warning, my son found the sweetness he so often displays for us and, without being told, offered to share his M&M’s with his little sister. Has it finally happened? Is he warming up to his little sister, anxious to serve her and share with her? It was finally here, the moment we were waiting for, the moment we knew would eventually come. He’s not me, he’ll be a good big brother.

Then, while our daughter was momentarily distracted by this surprising turn in generosity, he ran. Yes, he ran and hid so that he could finish off the rest of bag without the hassle of having to share with that little pest we affectionately call his sister, the kindness just a simple diversion. Baby steps, right?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Momma, you drive me . . .

My wife, being in a wonderful mood, danced her way into a room where my son and I were sitting watching television, and in an effort to entertain us, she began serenading us in a loud and somewhat sarcastically opera-style singing voice. We allowed this to continue for a minute without interruption before my son finally responded to this “intrusion” of his regularly scheduled programming with the following comment, “Momma, you’re driving me . . . “ I am certain his plan was to tell his mother she was driving him crazy, but as we all know, that would not be the wisest choice of words to utter, even if they are true.

Now, you’ll notice he showed some wisdom and did not finish his comment. He stormed into that sentence with a lot of confidence, but as he worked his way through the actual words, he quickly trailed off until he was quiet. The room was silent and you could tell by the look on his face that he had realized what he was saying and who he was saying it to. My wife and I just stood, staring in silence, watching closely for what would happen next. You could almost see him thinking through his next move carefully. He was probably already concerned that he had gone too far, but by our lack of immediate response, he must have figured there was a small window of opportunity to recover from this near blunder and his mind started strategizing.

This moment seemed to stretch on as his mind searched for a word or sentence he could insert into his wayward bound comment that could potentially save the day. After a few seconds of searching, stumbling over unintelligible words and coming up empty, he went to his go-to, feel-good comment, “I love you Mommy!” Now, play that phrase through your mind in the voice of a 4 year old boy, while he adds a little extra sugar in an effort to play up his cuteness. After a momentary pause, my wife and I could do nothing except burst into laughter. The sense of relief that spread over my son’s face when we started laughing showed he understood he had dodged a bullet. He understood he found the right words at the right time and it was clear he also understood he had almost stumbled upon the absolute wrong words at the wrong time.

His re-evaluation of his commentary gave me a sense of pride. Obviously I am not proud he was about to tell his momma she drives him crazy. I was proud in that at only 4 years old, he is already assessing the value and impact of his words. Ideally, he would have done this assessment prior to the words leaving his mouth. To his credit, he trailed off before his tongue landed on the key word, “crazy” (and probably the word that would have landed him in the most trouble). Now, the challenge is for me to apply this lesson learned to my own life the next time my wife is driving me . . .

“I love you!” Maybe that will save the day if I say it in a cute voice.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Daddy, it's tastes like sunshine!

When it comes to healthy eating habits, my son and my daughter are nearly polar opposites. While my daughter will try and eat anything (including the dog food we put out for Tucker the family pet), my son’s first response to eating a new food is, “No thank you.” When pushed a little further, he will typically say, “I don’t like it.”

“But son, you haven’t even tried it yet.”

In a matter of fact response, he’ll say, “I know, but I don’t like it.”

When forced to try new foods, my wife and I have the pleasure of experiencing front row seats to a Greek tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. First, we get the crunched up face, the squinted eyes, the trembling hands, and the low groan as he lifts the food towards his mouth. Once the spoon holding the terrible poison we are forcing our son to ingest hits the inside of his mouth, we get the full body seizure, followed by the uncontrollable gag reflex. While the first few times we found this to be quite entertaining, even asking for the occasional encore and considering signing him up for drama classes and auditioning him for child acting roles, the novelty soon wore off as each bite of his food was like a three act play and a simple dinner could drag out for an hour or more.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as he comes by these behaviors honestly. I was not the most adventurous eater as a child. I had a similar response to foods I didn’t like, especially spinach and beets. In fact, beets were my least favorite with their disgusting red/purplish juice bleeding all over my plate, trying to invade my macaroni and cheese (one food I loved). I would build a macaroni wall to stem the flood of beet juice, sacrificing a handful of tasty macaroni to save the greater population. My mother will tell you that there is still an outstanding “cold case” in my family that alleges that I once murdered a fern whose pot was positioned just a bit too close to my spot at the dinner table. When my mother wasn’t looking, I’d allegedly hide chunks of whatever food I refused to eat at the base of the plant, eventually killing the plant and stinking up the kitchen with rotten meats and vegetables. I’d remind everyone to reserve judgment as we operate within a legal system of “innocent until proven guilty”. Thankfully, the evidence was destroyed before DNA testing came into existence.

Nonetheless, you can imagine our surprise by a recent comment my son made about a new food he tried when, with a smile on his face, he gave the creative description, “it tastes like sunshine.” After the daily drama we witness when trying new food, I thought our son was sure to be an actor, but after that type of literary description, he might be a writer (at least the food industry may consider using him as a consultant to describe their products for advertising purposes). You can predict my disappointment when I found out the food he was describing as having the flavor of the sun was a yellow cream Oreo cookie.

Our pediatrician once told us that exposure to new foods is the key to getting children to like a diverse and healthy diet. In fact, I read one study that said it takes a child an average of 14 exposures to a new food before they actually enjoy the taste of that food. Well, if it takes 14 tickets to the drama I described above, I’ll pass. I’ll try one act of the Ryerson food drama and then I’ll pass him the plate with the Sunshine Oreo’s!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sick and Tired

Sorry for the slow posting time, the truth is I have very little to post about myself right now as I haven't been feeling very well.  So, stay tuned, I have big posts in the future.  In the meantime, I am so proud of my wife who is serving as a food coordinator for the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition build in the Chattanooga area.  As of today, the old house has been demoed and the new house is on it's way.  She actually got a tour of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition bus as seen on TV.  She was told that the cast actually does watch the family audition videos on the bus as protrayed on the show.  I am certain you'll be hearing much more about this fantastic project.  In the meantime, I'll try and get back to running, this cold has me coughing all day and all night, so if I can get past that, I'll be ready to go.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Run for Hope

Yes, I am doing it again, I am running the Nashville 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, April 30th (that's 13.1 miles . . . slightly further than I drive to and from work everyday).  So what is this about, have I lost my mind?  Well . . . yes I have.  But at least I am doing it for a good cause.  This year I am running for the nonprofit, People for Care and Learning (  They have titled this event the Run for Hope.  No, it isn't Matt Ryerson's Hope I can Run, it's the RUN FOR HOPE! 

PCL has done a tremendous amount of work in SE Asia serving those in poverty with very little hope.  They have supplied water filters for children who were drinking filthy river water and built homes for families living in the streets.  This is an incredible organization with incredible leadership.  It is definitely something I support and something you can get behind. 

I say all that only to let you know I haven't totally lost my mind (only partially) and I hope that you can find a way to support me in this effort.  To give, simple go to my fundraising website at and give.  You can give a set amount or a per mile rate (remember, that is 13.1 miles . . . ouch!)

Keep visiting the blog and I'll keep you updated on my training (and pain).