Tag Archives: family

On the treadmill

About a year ago, my son Brett asked if he could get on the treadmill and walk. He’d seen me do it a lot…okay, not a lot, but some. Anyway, he wanted to do it, so we let him. This happened at my parents’ house in Arkansas and the treadmill is kinda behind Dad’s chair. I hooked him up to the abort string—the little string that if you fall, the treadmill stops so that the user won’t go around and around like George Jetson—and set him walking.

So he’s walking at a decent little pace and the rest of us go back about our business, which was probably just chatting, solving all the issues of the world.

Unbeknownst to us, Brett was playing with the buttons on the top. We should have noticed the treadmill sound, but didn’t. What we did hear was Brett say—in a VERY calm voice, mind you: “Uh. Can somebody help?”

When we look over at him, he’s running full speed hanging on to the side rails, having accidentally cranked the speed all the way to the top. I wish I’d had a camera to capture the look on his face.

About a month ago, I started walking pretty regular on the treadmill. I’d gotten reenergized because of a “challenge” by a group of ACFW writers. While I don’t know what my cholesterol is now (I haven’t had it checked in some time), the last two times I’ve had it checked, it was high. I was even prescribed medicine at the last doctor visit. He said, however, that I could help myself a lot by losing some weight.

While I never really considered myself overweight, I figured it had to be an issue if the doctor was telling me to lose some. Truth of the matter is that I’m about 50 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school—oh so many years ago! Frustrating thing is that when I was a junior and weighed in a 170, I tried everything I could possibly think of to gain weight. As an offensive tackle on the football team, it wasn’t unusual for me to go up against guys 220 or more. I desperately wanted to get to 190.

Now, I’d love to get DOWN to 190.

I got out of the habit around the time I went to Minneapolis…but I’ve been back at it for about a week and a half now. I had a preacher once remind us that if you did something for 30 straight days, it was a habit.

I’m not sure about that. I hate exercising. Oh, I like to participate in sports activities, but just to exercise. I can think of 100 different ways I’d rather spend my time!

I’ve tried all sorts of things to help pass the time: watching TV (I have to turn it up so loud and even then I can barely understand), reading (I just can’t focus on the words) and other things. But this time, I’ve found a little trick this latest time around: Playstation.

Yep, I play NCAA football while I’m walking. Hey—I’m closing in on 2 miles per day, so it’s a victory—a minor one maybe, but a victory nonetheless!

On another happy note: The kids brought their report cards home on Thursday and they both made straight A’s! Mom and Dad are very proud! J

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The story of how it happened

One of the true joys and blessings of life is family. I’m pretty fond of mine, too. But you already guessed that or I wouldn’t be writing about them here, huh?

My wife’s name is BJ. Well, her family still calls her Bobbie Jean, but it’s always been BJ for me. I always tease BJ that I’ve known her longer than she’s known me. She was a grade behind me in school, but I knew who she was when I was in 8th grade. She was one of two girls that started for the junior high football team. She was a starting guard. You’d laugh if you see her now to think of that. She only stands 4’11”. She’ll tell you, though, that back then she was bigger than most of the boys.

We didn’t actually meet until I was in the 11th grade. We had a driver’s ed class together. I already had my driver’s license and was taking the course simply because my parents said I had to – seems they got a break on car insurance if I successfully completed the class. She was the unfortunate one: she was put in a group with my best friend and I and she had never driven before in her life.

I asked her out once that year and she turned me down. Now normally, being the prideful sort of male that many teenage males are, I would never ask a girl out twice. Hey! If she said no the first time, her loss. As I said, I was a teenager, whaddaya want?

Nearly two years later, I’d graduated and was working the graveyard shift at the local Stop-N-Rob. I came home early one morning to find a gaggle of girls at my house practicing some kicking routines. Seems my younger sister had invited the pom squad over to practice. Regardless, I wanted to use the phone and one of the pom-toters gabbed non-stop. In my angry “college boy,” voice, I demanded the phone, but asked who she was talking to. She was talking to BJ. I once again demanded the phone – with BJ still on it – and proceeded to ask her out once again. I was, of course, older and wiser at that point.

BJ said yes, and the rest, as they say is history. BJ will tell you that I took far too long to ask her to marry me. It was July of 1983 that we began to date. We weren’t married until 1990.

The pressure had been put on me, however. She wanted a “unique” proposal. Ladies, let me suggest to you now: take the proposal however you can get it. Do not, I repeat, do not put undue pressure on your hopeful spouse to be.

Well, I came up with a “unique” way to propose, but some of the situation was out of my hands. Initially, the proposal was to come in 1988…but that fell through. In 1989, I had my very first written published work — I proposed to her in that work.

We’ve now been married for 18 years and I’m now able to introduce us as “Dr. and Mr. Mann.”

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Family reunion revisited

I attended my first family reunion in 2004. I’d been wishing to have one to attend for nearly 20 years. Y’see, I started “looking up my family tree” around 1986-ish. What caused it was my growing interest in history, particularly American, specifically War Between the States.

Really, I got so interested in the war, the causes of war, migration patterns during expansion and all…that I just got to wondering where my family was during all this. I also discovered the historical/heritage organization The Sons of Confederate Veterans and wanted to join. In order to join, however, you had to prove direct link to a confederate soldier. So, I started searching.

Eventually I found the ancestor who fought and joined the organization. I eventually took my own research back to about 1790. (The family has since “met” another branch and the lines go back another hundred years or so)

I think every family should try to attend a family reunion. We live now in such a society that very few folks even know great grandparents. I remember asking one of my classes at Northwest Shoals how many knew their grandparents and on back. I was amazed at how few knew beyond grandparents.

Attending a family reunion allows you to meet cousins that you might never have known. Also, one of the things I found neat was to hear different stories of the family–or different perspectives.

2008 Mann family reunion in Piggott, Arkansas

Photo of the 2008 Mann Family reunion in Piggott, Ark. Photo taken by Ken Renshaw- renshaw@newwavecomm.net and used here with his permission (click photo to see larger version). His website is: http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/profiles/Kenneth_Renshaw.htm)

Dad and I were talking after the most recent reunion that they seem to go by too fast. It seems, organized the way it is, folks come and then leave right after the meal. Heck, I’d rather have everyone plan to stay for another couple of hours so that we could sit around and talk with each other. There are members of the family that I’d like to at least spend 10 minutes with to say, hey, who are you, what interesting things do you know about the family? That, and what do you do where do you live, etc. I’d like to see that happen at the next one, maybe a more kicked back and relaxed atmosphere to allow us to spend some more time actually talking with extended family members. I’d also like to see us take it back a generation or two and try to get a whole host of families to come. THAT would be interesting.

If your family doesn’t have one–start one! Get to know your family; who they are, what they do and where they come from!

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