16 November 2009


Lately I have been feeling the need to take a few moments and express some thoughts. I'm not sure where the impetus to do this finds its origin - perhaps it's just due to the quickly approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

I have long since realized that I am a creature of habit. I tend to do many things in life in the same habitual way every day. When I shower, the first thing I do is wash my hair and the last thing I do is to shave - always in that order. When I put my shoes on I always put my left shoe on first followed by the right before tying them both. I always push the cereal down in the milk with my spoon before I can eat it (I don't like dry cereal). When I browse through magazines, I always start at the back and flip forward through the pages. You get the idea.

Anyway, the last several months I have found myself picking up one more curious habit. Before I start work each day I like to look through the local obituaries. I'm not sure why I do this. Maybe I've just reached the point in life where it isn't uncommon for people my age to die and I want to see who I've outlived. Whatever the reason, it has given me cause to pause and reflect over my life. Sometimes this process can be a very sobering experience as I have made many mistakes over the years. Occasionally I'm left feeling a bit embarrassed if not ashamed at some of the stupid things I've done during my life. However, more often than not, I am left feeling incredibly grateful for many things I've experienced over the last 43 years.

I am so grateful for my children. Regretfully my marriage to their mother didn't work out like I had planned, but I would make the same mistakes all over again to ensure my boys would be a part of my life. My children aren't perfect and neither am I, but I am constantly inspired by them as I watch them develop talents I could only dream of when I was their age. They have had many challenges to overcome even at this early stage in their lives and yet they have had the courage the deal with them. I love them so much for that. I hope they will always remember the God-given strengths they each possess and use them to bless the lives of others. I couldn't have asked for anyone better to call my sons.

I haven't quite figured it out yet, but for some reason God has blessed me with the most wonderful companion I ever could have hoped for. My sweet wife. I love her so much. She has helped me to keep a spark of hope alive in my heart when I had feared it had long since been extinguished. She has an innate ability to accept and love people for who they are. If only I could be half as good as she is! And with my wife comes two great stepchildren. They are amazing. They have had to share their mother with me and I know that is not an easy thing to do and they have accepted my children as their brothers. I have much to learn from them by way of acceptance.

Most people in general love their parents. I am no different. I have great parents. They have always taught me and my siblings what is right and they have done it by example. I know there have been times when I have disappointed them in the decisions I have made but I always knew they loved me regardless. I will always love them for giving me the chance to spread my wings and grow from life's experiences. We were never really a hugging family growing up and we siblings despised each other at times but today we all love each other and support each other. I really have a great family!

As I read over what I have written I have noticed it is beginning to sound like a farewell of sorts. That is not my intention. This is merely one of those count-your-blessings moments. Everything I have that brings me happiness comes from those people whom God has placed around me. He has allowed me to have a loving wife and children and live in an area that looks like it came straight off a post card. I will always be grateful to Him for that.

Anyway, as I have read many obituaries over the last few years I have come to realize that we never really know when its time to leave this existence to start another. More importantly, I have learned to be grateful for all that I have even though I probably don't deserve most of what I have been blessed with. Hopefully I can always remember that and maybe with Thanksgiving on the near horizon, you can too.

30 July 2009

Tears for the Sole

I'm sure most if not all of you out there are familiar with the phrase, "raise the bar". It's not a phrase that is hard to understand. Try harder. Improve yourself. Raise your standards. Most assuredly there are a plethora of other catchy phrases which share parallel meanings.
My wife and I often joke with each other that one of the reasons we get along so well is because the bar was set pretty low by our ex-spouses in each of our first marriages. In other words, it's doesn't require significant effort on each other's part to improve upon the marital experiences from our first-time nuptials. This doesn't mean, however, that we don't put forth a sincere effort to make this marriage work and help each other really be happy.
I think each of us really loves serving the other and we've learned it is the simple things that really oil this machine we call marriage. Doing the laundry when it needs to be done instead of being asked can do amazing things for my wife's psyche. And if I really want to brighten her day I just make dinner. It really is that simple. I thought she was on the verge of doing somersaults when she discovered I had secretly ironed her blouse this morning while she was in the shower. See, I raised the bar. I say this as I ceremonially pat myself on the back.
My wife does little things for me all the time too and I absolutely adore her for it. I think my favorite thing that she does for me is when she kills the spiders in the house. Not that I suffer from acute arachnophobia or anything, its just that I get seriously grossed out by all the guts when one of the said arachnids has to be put down...especially the big ones. And I must say that I love the little notes she sometimes leaves in my car. What can I say, she's a keeper!
Now having shared this, I must say that she caught me completely off-guard the other day. She needed a new pair of shoes so I offered to take her shopping and see what we could find. After trying several shoe stores, we finally found a pair she loved. They cost a bit more than she would have ever spent on herself, but she is most definately worth it. And with the purchase of one pair of shoes, you could get another pair at half price. It was a done deal and we left the shoe store with two pairs of shoes...count 'em, two!
I was feeling pretty good that I was able to do something meaningful for her, but then I looked over and she was crying. For a brief moment I panicked! What did I do? Feeling concerned, I asked her what the matter was. She said nothing was the matter. She told me how grateful she was for the shoes and for the fact that they didn't come with strings attached (no pun intended). Puzzled, I asked why she would think like that. She simply replied that in her former life, there were always strings attached with similar acts of kindness.
Every once in a while I am grateful the bar was set so low because it enables someone like me to more easily improve upon my wife's former relationship, but I also feel sad she had to experience such low standards. Hopefully with enough sincere and heartfelt effort I can raise the bar to where it should be. I must be doing something right though because my wife told me that of all her husbands I was her favorite - so far! Hopefully I'm her last one and there won't be anymore tears for the sole.

03 April 2009

The Joke's On Me

It seems life has a way of making you smile or even laugh at yourself. Admittedly, I don't like laughing at myself because that usually means I've done something stupid and I avoid such situations like the plague. However, sometimes life happens and happens in a comical way.
I like to tease. I don't mean to be unkind when I do it, but I really like kidding around - especially with my children and step children. The other night as I was finishing my dinner, my oldest step son entered the kitchen where we keep the family computer. He told his mom he wanted to play a song he liked for her that he had stored on the computer. As he logged into the computer I couldn't resist the chance for a little teasing.
While he was searching for his song I proudly announced that I knew which song he was talking about. Looking back it is painfully obvious that I didn't really think this through that well, because I should have swallowed the string bean I was eating before beginning my made up song about pretty pink unicorns.
I had just barely made it to the end of the first line when a partially chewed bean decided it had heard enough and slipped into my airway. Needless to say I couldn't retrieve it fast enough and so I ended my chorus gagging on my own food. My wife left the room laughing so hard tears were streaming down her face. Her children asked her if she was OK...never mind me standing over the sink struggling with a blocked airway. Ok, message received loud and clear...don't mess with her children!
I seem to be the brunt of a lot of jokes from my in-laws as well and they all stem from the same incident. If any of you have been to my house, you know there is quite a bit of gravel on the ground between where the driveway ends and the street begins. And I must tell you that I have very sensitive feet. I attribute this to the fact that I always wear shoes. I was never one of those kids that spent their entire summer barefoot and ended up with feet so calloused that shoes were not necessary. My wife however, was one of those kids.
Anyway, one late night last year I realized that no one had checked the mailbox that day. My wife was downstairs doing laundry or something so I decided to slip out and check for mail. Not wanting to bother with shoes, I proceeded to the mailbox. I managed to make it about 8 feet into the gravel - only halfway to the mailbox - before I realized my delicate feet couldn't take the pain of loose gravel. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself I wasn't a wimp and that I could just walk back to the house and quietly get my shoes, my feet reminded me that I was indeed a wuss and that I wasn't to proceed.
What was I going to do? I tried crawling off the rocks, but that was even more painful. It was nearly 11:30 p.m and I was stranded in my own front yard! As I was contemplating having to yell an S.O.S. to my wife and endure the horror of attracting the attention of my neighbors, I was suddenly aware I had my cell phone. Brilliant! Without thinking, I called my wife. She answered and was somewhat surprised to receive a call from her husband, who at last recollection, was sitting in the living room watching t.v. She was puzzled and asked where I was. I told her I was stranded on the rocks in the front yard and I pitifully asked her to bring some shoes out to me. Talk about complete humiliation!
With my slippers in hand, out of the house she came. She took one look at me and then she doubled over in laughter. Somehow she managed to hand me my slippers before collapsing on the driveway - completely overcome with laughter. She shared this story with all of her family who just feed on this kind of stuff. They will never let me forget. Even my own children ask me if I need an escort to go outside in case I get stranded again. Oh well, life should include laughter and in this case, the joke's on me.


Winds of winter
Are forever blowing,
Carrying the frosty chill
Of Summer's death.
Peering through a window
Silence envelops.
Evening shadows cling
For a hope of new beginnings
Opening future's door,
Seeking life's warm embrace.

28 October 2008

Thoughts of an Assassination

This past week I traveled to Dallas, Texas on business. I had never previously been to Dallas and really didn't know what to expect. Before leaving, I had searched various web sites looking for something interesting to do that would fit into my schedule. We (myself and six other colleagues) really only had a few hours in the afternoon of our last day in the city so our choices were somewhat limited.

Anyway, we all decided to check out Dealey Plaza. For those of you not familiar with Dallas, that is the area where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I found the whole experience to be much different than what I expected. Let me just quickly state that this horrible event in history happened a few years before I was born and therefore I really have no emotional attachments to the man or his family. That being said, it was a life-changing experience.

I am somewhat of a History Channel junkie and I love watching most of the programs that air on that channel. I have seen many different television programs detailing the events of the assassination with much interest. Like most of you, I remember discussing this event in every American History class I have ever taken. I can instantly recall all of the images and video ever shown relating to the incident. However, as you personally walk around the block and see the book depository and the grassy knoll, history seems to come alive. There is such a contrast between feeling reverence for what happened at that location and dodging the traffic that seems oblivious to the history that occurred there.

The structures that were on the grassy knoll when Kennedy was shot are still there and look exactly like the news films that documented the event. While I'm not sure, I would swear that some of the more mature trees are from that time period as well. The concrete roadways that go over the road where Kennedy died look like they did back then as well. If you visit the museum on the 6th floor of the book depository building, the corner window where Oswald shot from is framed off from the public with glass walls. They have re-created the area to look exactly as it did on that fateful day. You can look out adjacent windows and see the same view the assassin did. Very sobering.

Of all that I saw in Dallas that day the most thought provoking was the two large X's painted on the roadway in front of the book depository. The first "X" marked the spot where the first bullet hit the President in the back and the second "X" where he was hit in the head. Many of the people on that plaza that day were younger than me and yet all of them (including myself) went out in the street to touch that second "X" where history was made in some feeble attempt to be connected to the events of that day. I literally felt the chill of an assassination run through me.

Now I have read many things about JFK, the man. Most of it is not flattering nor socially acceptable...especially when in the context of describing the President of our country. However, after experiencing a personal look onto the stage where this man died, I gained a profound sense of appreciation for the man and really felt sorry for his wife and children. It really made me want to go home and hug my family. This being an election year, I find myself ever grateful for the freedom to choose our leaders. Regardless of your political affiliation, please vote. When you are done, go home and tell your family you love them.

10 September 2008

It's Never Too Late For A Happily Ever After

Some time ago, my fiance (now wife) and I were walking through a craft store (gasp!) and we came across the phrase used to title this blog: "It's Never Too Late for a Happily Ever After". I've often seen these cute little one-liners that people like to stencil on their walls, but this particular one really seemed to hit an emotional chord with me.

Over seven years ago I found myself newly divorced from 12 years of marriage. I was feeling incredibly guilty over what had happened and felt like life's happiness had indeed passed me by. I was stressed beyond belief over issues with my children's well-being as well as my employment. I was such a wreck I could scarcely function. In less than 2 months time I had lost over 40lbs. On a daily and sometimes hourly basis I was trying to endure emotional and verbal abuse from my ex-wife, her family members, and even some former friends. I was quickly reaching the point where I didn't even want to exist anymore. I was beginning to lay piles of guilt on myself in order to justify my own miserable existence. I was truly lost.

Somehow I managed to endure this misery for a year or so whereupon I met someone who showed me there was life after divorce. I dated this person for nearly 6 years before I had the courage to try marriage again. Even though the abuse from my ex-wife continued for several years beyond my divorce, this woman stood by my side. She never judged me and she was always quick to encourage me. She was and is always there for me - always! She has accepted me for what and who I am without condition. I don't think she will ever fully understand the profound influence she has had upon my life. It is because of her that I continually strive to become a better person.

Now the reason for this blog: My wife has given me insight to some rather strange things - strange to me, at least. Every time I start to make dinner, she comes in and helps me. Whenever I go outside to do yard work, she comes out and helps me. Whenever I am folding laundry, she helps me. Whenever I am making the bed in the morning, she helps me. Whenever I am making home repairs, she not only offers her help, but insists I teach her how to do the job at hand as well. Never before have I been in such a loving and helpful relationship. She does all these things for me without me so much as even hinting for her help. Now I don't want anyone to think I do all these things all of the time. She does these things (and more) too and I love helping her as well. She is the sole reason that I feel that God must love me to have sent such a wonderful human being into my life despite all my shortcomings. I honestly don't deserve her!

Not only did she come along at just the right time and save me from myself, but she really is my happily ever after! I'm grateful it wasn't too late. I love you, L!

05 August 2008

Crazy Math

For some odd reason I have been thinking about a conversation I had with my ex-wife a year or so ago. The entire conversation was centered around recalculating child support due to her getting health insurance.

This is the procedure: I calculate what it costs me monthly to insure each of my children and then subract half of that amount (because she is responsible to pay for half of all health coverage for the children) from what I pay her in monthly child support. This is quite easy for me to figure out since I only get paid once a month. My ex essentially does the same thing, except that when she figures out her cost to insure the children, I add half of that amount to the child support. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

The only real difference here is that she gets paid every other week, but that really doesn't make the math that much more difficult...or does it? I tried to explain to her that since she gets paid every other week that she would do the same kind of math, but multiply that amount on each of her paychecks by 26 (half of all 52 weeks in a year) and then divide that amount by 12 (months in a year) to determine how much I need to reimburse her each month.

This is where she got lost and the arguing began. She told me that she gets paid every other week (a correct statement) and that works out to twice per month (hold on, sissy, that statement doesn't calculate). She insisted that the amount per child she pays on each paycheck would be divided in half but then multiplied by 24 because 2 paychecks per month multiplied by 12 months equals 24.

When I asked her to count her paycheck stubs and verify that she has 26 of them she told me she didn't need to because, again, getting paid every other week, or twice per month as she believes, equals 24 paychecks. She told me my math was terrible. She ended the call, but called me back the next day and stated that she asked someone at her work about all this and they confirmed that she was correct. When I questioned her further, she said she trusted that person more because she was in charge of the office's finances. Scary!

I told her that if we went with her method she would be getting less money per month from me to reimburse her insurance costs. I thought this was my chance to persuade her I was correct because I was sure that when she realized she would get more money using my "crazy math" she would concede. Oh no. She said I was up to something and trying to cheat her in some way. What!? I asked her how giving her more money was trying to cheat her and she said that I would probably take her to court in a few years and show I had overpaid and then she would be required to pay me back. Wow, she really has an active thought process!

At this point I told her I was going to give her the amount I had calculated regardless if she thought it was incorrect. She refused me. This time I asked her to write out her calculations and include a statement that she considers her amount acceptable and then sign it and give it to me. She refused to sign anything like that and once again hung up on me.

The next day she called me again to tell me she had figured out my math. She said I was still wrong but she had figured out how I came up with my number. More than curious, I asked her to explain. She told me that there were indeed 26 paychecks per year. I asked her how that was possible if, as she insisted, she only got paid twice per month. She told me there were 13 months in a year! At this point I realized there was no point in arguing any further. I figured as long as we were finally in agreement as to what the correct figures were, that was good enough for me. I am getting too old for this!

22 May 2007

Thick Paint

It's been awhile since I have posted anything and I just thought I would take a moment for some senseless ramblings and perhaps meaningless observations.

Has the formula for paint changed? I can't tell you how many times I've tripped over a painted line. Either I have some serious coordination issues, or paint has gotten thicker over the years. Either way, there is no graceful way to pick yourself up after such mishaps.

Why is it that children (particularly your own) always vocally express their opinions about other people's habits when you are next to them at the store? According to my children, people who smoke have low IQ's and obese people shouldn't have candy in their grocery carts. And did you know there is no way to shush your children fast enough - ever.

For those of you who have ever had to teach a lesson in church...It doesn't matter how hard you prepare for your class each Sunday, the week you didn't have time to adequately prepare is the Sunday you have that special visitor from the Stake Presidency drop in unannounced. Is it a coincidence that it's also when you are trying to teach from the Book of Isaiah?

And could someone please tell me why it is that the moment you decide to go barefoot in the park that you seem to find the exact spot where somebody's dog decided his own yard wasn't good enough to poop in? Oh, and this happens before the park is officially open for the season so there is no running water anywhere for you to rinse out your toes.

For your information, milk always and mysteriously disappears sometime between the conclusion of dinner (when there was still plenty left) and breakfast. Like socks disappearing in the dryer, no one can ever explain this. Dry corn flakes are not good.

Have you ever noticed that when you stop by your favorite store's magazine section and pull a copy of Car and Driver that an issue of Cosmo always seems to fall to the floor (nasty side up) and attracts the attention of every woman nearby who now thinks you are a dirty old man?

Can anyone tell me why when I take a nap at home I usually wake up calmly, but when I take a nap in church I always wake up as though I'm falling from a tree?

I know you can sneeze at any time, but why does it need to happen so suddenly when you have a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Does anyone have a suggestion on how to politely evacuate your mouth of said potatoes before the inevitable splatter occurs?

I've obviously heard of Murphy's Law yet I'm always amazed when it manifests itself. Immunity from such a law would be nice, but until then maybe I can cover it over with some thick paint.

02 December 2005

I've Been Tagged

Ok, I guess since I have been tagged, proper etiquette would dictate a response.

Hmmm...Provide five (5) things people don't know about me...What on earth could I divulge to the world of blogging? Generally, I consider myself a rather quiet individual (no laughing, Lesleigh) but I will try my hand at this:

1). I am not a picky eater. I have eaten everything from peanuts to pig brains....From salt taffy to snake....But there are two things that just do not cross my lips (unless accompanied by enough other stuff that you can't taste 'em): green pimento olives and tomatoes.

2). I have a rather eclectic taste in music. Excluding Rap music (oxymoron), I have bits of all kinds of music ranging from MoTab to Motley Crue.

3). My hobby is photography and I suffer from acute NAS (Nikon Acquisition Syndrome). I have had some of my work appear in national publications (Popular Photography) and have won various photo contests.

4). I am a hopeless window shopper. I love roaming the aisles of WalMart as well as any other mass merchandiser. I rarely buy anything - I just love looking at stuff and I think it drives people crazy. I can spend serious time in any store but two: Fabric stores and Victoria Secret. I am not comfortable with the stares you get at either of those places.

5). Vanilla ice cream. I love it. If ever there was a home-made-vanilla-ice-cream whore that would be me. When I go to Cold Stone, I head straight for the vanilla. Don't bother me with peppermint-this or double fudge-that...Just give me vanilla.

And there you have it.

16 November 2005

The Beaver

Ok, I am new to this whole concept of blogging. I was introduced to this cultural phenomena by my little sister when she posted something about the ill effects barbequed almonds have on my gastric pipes. It would appear that nothing is sacred anymore.

I was curious to read Lorien's comments about her childhood and how awful she thought she looked with years of bad haircuts combined with having to wear an orthodontic birdcage over her head. Lorien, if you happen to read this, I understand where you are coming from, but you don't know what ugly is! Compared to me, you looked like a goddess. I wore the same birdcage you did. I don't think my family was even aware I was "wired" to that degree because I would come home from school and lock myself in my bedroom before I would don the apparatus. I would remain there all night sometimes. I would quickly remove the appliance if I had to venture outside the sanctuary that was my bedroom. This was due primarily to the fear of being the brunt of a new set of ugly jokes. They always hurt more when they come from your siblings.

I was late getting braces so I had to endure all the comments that are associated with a bad smile until I was a sophomore in high school. Ever since fourth grade when my teeth decided to go on a fieldtrip, my just older brother had affectionately referred to me as "the beaver". How bad were they, you ask? Let me state this as eloquently as I can. Are you familiar with a power rake? I could have easlily given it a run for the money. I used to put my head face down on the table and rest myself upon my protruding teeth in hopes that they would take the hint and retract themselves back behind the safety of my lips.

And you speak of bad haircuts? I had my share. My mother used to cut our hair when we were children and she was pretty good at it. It was the between-cuts period that were horrific. You know the stage when your bangs get long enough to get in your eyes and you start thinking hey, how hard could it be to just grab the scissors and fix the problem. And that is just what I used to do. I would snip the longest hairs first and then check the results. Of course it always looked like someone had notched my bangs and not just trimmed them. No problem. Just even it out, right? by the time I was finished "fixing" what I had done, I looked like a Billy Ray Cyrus twin. And as luck would have it, this would always occur right around school picture day. Arg! That's when I would sheepishly ask my mother if she could fix the disaster. As a result, I had some pretty short haircuts and they never did mask what I had done.

Luckily, life goes on and we grow up - at least to some extent. My teeth have long since been reunited with their fellow brethren and I leave the hair cutting to the professionals. I don't claim to be handsome by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't feel too ashamed to be found in public places anymore. Now, maybe if I could just lose about ten pounds...