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Happy Birthday To Me

I'm not going to write something ridiculous that starts with "At dawn 41 years ago a great..." Instead I just want to announce to God and all of you how thankful I am to have notched 41 years on the chalkboard of life. Through the joy, the tears, the fog and the mystery of it all I am thankful that I have been able to serve my family and my community and hope to continue to do so as long as I have breath in my lungs. I do so not because I'm special but simply because it was done for me (my folks are in the top two pics above) and there's no reason to break the cycle. My heart is filled with thanksgiving. Specifically I'd like to thank my wife and kids for the great times and the not so easy times and everything in between.

Before this day is over, please do something nice for someone you love, know or don't know. That will help make my day complete.

Here's to life.

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#WordlessWednesday - E.Payne Speaks

E.Payne Speaks

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What Really Matters

Yesterday when I picked my daughter up from school I turned the engine on and began reading emails on my phone.

My daughter asked, "Daddy, let's go. What are you doing?"

I answered, "Checking some emails, baby."

She said, "You can do that when you get home. There's electricity there for you to do that."

I looked over my shoulder at her, completely wise beyond her years, put my phone down, drove off and didn't pick it back up until after dinner.

Moral of the story...you know the moral of the story...I hope you know the moral of the story.

Please, don't forget Family Day - A Day to Eat Dinner With Your Children is Monday, September 24th. Take the Star Pledge today.

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How To Use Dinner To Communicate With Your Teen

I often find myself frustrated with the glaring deficiencies in my teen son's ability to communicate --- what he's saying, what he means, where he is physically at. He says he'll be somewhere when he needs to be picked up but without being a psychic I know beforehand once I arrive he'll be somewhere else, or just not outside waiting for me. His plans with his friends are erratic and sometimes elaborate, constantly changing cluster-you-know-whats. We often play "Who's On First" because he claims he told me something I never heard him utter once. I often find him unaware of things that need to be done because he claims he never got that pertinent voice mail I left or text I sent. Lately, my mustache and goatee has been getting grayer and grayer.

But when I sit down and think about it long enough I really can't blame him. It's the thing that can't be pried from his hand that's mostly to blame for his, mine and nearly everyone else's often nonsensical way of communicating.

The technology of communication --- the very lifeblood that drives this blog --- the thing that came to make communication and connectivity easier, in the ever evolving ecosystem of communications and Social has created massive holes in effective and basic communication. How many times have you heard or said the following:


#WordlessWednesday - #BlackGirlsRun

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Mondays With Michelle: DIY Foodie Projects

Happy Monday Foodie Friends!

I don't know about you, but I love a good Do-it-yourself project, especially ones that bring some extra yumminess to your kitchen (and save you some $)! And although it's a little early to be thinking about the holiday season, these two DIY projects also make for wonderful gifts for your foodie friends and family. 

Homemade extracts...

When is the last time you bought any kind of extract? It's expensive! Especially the good stuff. So for the cost of a bottle of vodka and some fruit/coffee/almonds or whatever flavor you like, you can have a ton of homemade flavored extracts for a fraction of the cost. Besides the cost, the possibly of flavors are limitless. The 2 pictured are grapefruit and lime. It is very simple to make, all you need is...
  • Your favorite Vodka
  • Your flavor of choice
  • Mason Jar
When making a citrus extract, let's say grapefruit for example, peel the skin/zest of 2 grapefruits (be sure not to have too much of the white pulp-- it's bitter). Next, drop the peel in a mason jar and cover with vodka. Finally, leave the peels in for 2-3 weeks to develop the flavor then remove them and store in a cool dry area. Your final product is good for 4-6 months and can be used like any extract that you bake with. For vanilla extract, use whole vanilla beans-- first split them open and scrap the bean, then cover with vodka (or rum) in a mason jar.

Infused Olive Oil....

This garlic infused olive oil is super easy to make, just add fresh garlic cloves (the more the merrier) and some of your favorite dried spices (I used parsley and red pepper flakes) to your favorite olive oil and you've got delish homemade garlicy olive oil! The dispenser is decorative and inexpensive, you can find them at Target, Ikea and Wal-Mart. I keep mine on the counter near the stove because I am constantly using it... and it's pretty to look at! Again, infused oil is much more expensive when you purchase it... make it yourself, you control the ingredients and you save some money!

What DIY foodie goodies do you keep on hand? Post your comments below!

Don't forget to visit my Foodie Blog for more recipes, food tips and other foodie fun. 

See you back here on Monday, October 1st... Thanks for reading!


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.


UPDATE: #WorkingOutAt40 Fitness Challenge

Since I announced I was committed to losing 10 more pounds via my workingoutat40 fitness challenge I have since been sidelined --- primarily by myself. Over two weekends back to back I spoke at a conference in new orleans and then went to virginia beach. Both places are known for their food and both places put me in chill mode. Couple that with me no longer being able to afford the boot camp where I worked out daily. Now I'm working out on my own a couple times a week. So over the course of 3 weeks I've lost approximately 2.5 pounds.

But I've got two more weeks to go...

Today at 7am I ran my first ever 5K and it was AWESOME! I got the chance to connect with so many friends, run alongside them and celebrate with them afterwards as hot sweaty messes --- some more than others (I'm speaking solely of myself). The amazing thing about the experience is that it was something I said I'd never do. I took this up on a dare and because of the cause behind it and now that I've done it I'm not certain there is anything I cannot do! For those of you perched on the ledge of "Should I" when it comes to something you're being challenged to do, I say GO FOR IT! I am changed forever today moving forward.

And last but not least, I'm happy to announce someone has taken up the challenge with me. His name is Ty and he is someone I went to high school and college with though we never talked much then. Like me he is forty but instead of losing weight he is looking to get to marathon/triathalon competition-ready and be able to do 25 pull-ups and live to tell about it.

Tonight I'll be going to sleep thinking: I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can...

I know I will.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.


Virginia Beach Magic

This past Labor Day I had the unexpected pleasure of vacationing in Virginia Beach. Unexpected because the true intention of the trip was to attend a send-off for one of my wife's young cousins --- he enlisted with the Army. My wife did everything, arranged for the room, rented the car (a minivan - my arch nemesis of vehicles) for the very long, but manageable drive from Atlanta to Virginia Beach and bought enough snacks (including fruit) to feed a small army which is what I suppose we are. Her plan was to visit family at the appropriated times and be on the beach at every other time.

For starters the minivan was pretty amazing. Leather seats, two DVD players, wireless headphones so the movies didn't bother anyone else in the car, satellite radio, a backup camera and storage for days. Although I am pretty positive I will never own one they definitely serve a purpose.

After a fiasco of and experience leaving town we arrived at our hotel at 5am, beaten, broken and exhausted. The kids slept most of the way, of course. So imagine our terror when our daughter popped up at 8:30 am ready to go. But she was on to something. Outside on the balcony of our hotel was the beach pictured above. I went for a quick run along the boardwalk and after hunting down some food, we hit the beach.


In Trouble DOES NOT Equal Disown

Lat week my teen got into trouble - that kinda trouble that you hear other people's children's parents talking about when they are talking other people's children. We didn't wait for him to come home, we called him out at his school. We, admittedly more his mother than I, let him have it in spectacular, old school fashion. Should he ever have kids he now has a story to officially tell them.

Although I spent the rest of the day fantasizing about putting him out I was surprised when I got in late with my daughter and saw no signs of him having come home to go to practice (his usual routine). I began to wonder, but not fear.


Enter To Win $25,000 During eBay's Seller-bration

eBay is celebrating the 100 millionth listing on a mobile device with a gigantic $25,000 sweepstakes!!!

Why: Parents are constantly on-the-go between soccer practice, carpool, errands and never-ending household chores. Selling unused household items on eBay to earn extra cash to fund new items, activities or splurging on a massage is definitely borders on necessity; however, time is precious. The eBay mobile app saves time. It allows you to snap a picture from your phone or iPad and list an item within 60 seconds. Before you leave the room, the closet, the garage, wherever, your item is already accessible to millions of potential buyers worldwide.

How to enter: Anyone who lists an item between Sept. 5-14, 2012 via the eBay Mobile app is entered to win $25,000. New listers need to follow this exact link to get registered and download the app.

How to win:


5 Ways To Show Your Wife You Love Her

I wish I could say I'm the most doting of husbands, but I'm not. In fact, I've often confused being hardworking and the former as being one in the same. Based on my love of my kids I've even gone so far, after bending over backwards for them, as to take a self-celebratory bow in front of the wife as if to say, "Ta da!" For the longest this has fallen flat. Her being nonplussed has often infuriated me. Which of course has only made matters worse.

Adding to my missteps is my wife's fierce independence. I am guilty of misreading her cues --- which is sometimes silence --- and have at times believed she is in need of nothing. What a disaster! I'm no mind reader but I do have a functioning brain. I should've known better. Tucked away in my file are some spectacular birthday and special occasion fiascoes that I own 100%. But part of being a man is understanding your mistakes, taking accountability for them and ensuring you do what it takes to prevent or mitigate the possibility of repeat offenses.

If I've learned anything about being a husband I've learned that the quieter your wife is the more you are boiling in hot water. It's typically a slow boil you don't initially notice. Most of us men figure if she ain't talking then all must be fine because if she is talking she's complaining. But if you think about it for more than thirty seconds how is your wife not speaking to a ever a good thing? Is this something you honestly want in a marriage? No good comes from extended silence between two people living under the same roof and claiming to be in love. Another thing to consider: while you are enjoying your "peace" all kinds of wild thoughts about you are probably taking root in her mind. Take it from someone who knows. Your peace will only be temporary. Don't join the ranks of men who can't figure out what happened and just write the former lady of their dreams off with the B-word. Be on alert for the signs. It may be hard, but love is an action. You chose to get married. You chose to have those kids. Choose to stay out of trouble and keep the fire going rather than being in it. Check out this list of things to do to show your wife you love her:


Mondays With Michelle: Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day, Foodie Friends!

The Labor day holiday signals the winding down of summer and the last of the barbecues for the season (unfortunately). So I thought I'd share with you a couple of yummy dishes that have popped up around the web to help you end your summer right... and let's face it, every holiday is better with some delicious food! 

Delsih Tomato-Mozzarella Salad with Pesto; Grilled Steak with Charmoula; and Peach Cobbler for dessert! (Williams-Sonoma)
If you want to keep it more traditional, try these amazing
Sweet Tea Ribs with Lemony Potato Salad. (food network)
How fun are these refreshing "Adult Beverage"
Cantaloupe and Campari Pops! (Cooking Channel)

Can't have a Labor day shindig without great drinks!
Try this  Mango Mint Limeade...Yum! (Food52)

What is your favorite end of summer dish/treat? Post your comments below!

Don't forget to visit my Foodie Blog for more recipes, food tips and other foodie fun. 

See you back here on Monday, September 17th... Thanks for reading!


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Why Kids Need Love

A few days ago, on the way to school I told my daughter, "I love you," to which she responded, "I know." When I asked who told her she answered,

"No one has to tell me. I just know because you are my father."

I wish all kids knew love like this and could speak on it.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.