Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer's End

I haven't written here for a couple of weeks, and truthfully, I don't know why.

A lot has happened, so the material has been there - it's just, I haven't really had the motivation to sit down and document it all.

I came back from my last training so drained, and I wrote about that. These last two weeks, I've just found other things to do.

It's also been hot as heck out, which seems to drain my energy even in the brief amounts of time that I'm out in it.



But oh well, I'm sitting down at the computer now though, so here we go.

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Two weeks ago, Jaxon and I started going to the gym together. 

He'd been asking for a long time if we could start lifting weights together, and I'd put it off because of his age. I started lifting weights at 14, so I figured that was when I'd start taking him as well. However, he was persistent enough that I did some online reading, and checked with the CN gym and sure enough - as long we don't overdo things, 12 is an ok age for him to get started. 

So, starting last week, we've been going three nights a week to the Markoma gym, where we spend 30 minutes doing some form of cardio (typically me on a treadmill and him downstairs shooting baskets) and then we have a routine that I got from men's fitness that we can do in the Nautilus machines room. 

I'm not ready for him to start doing free weights yet, which works out because I don't think he's old enough to be in that room of the gym anyways. 


Working for the Cherokee Nation has been such a blessing for our family. On top of all of the other perks, it comes with free access to the CN gym - which is a really nice gym. I'm already spoiled by the treadmills that come with television screens built into them, and now having a place to take my son three times a week for "guy time" just adds to the pile of bonuses. 

And honestly, that's what it's been - guy time. 

While we don't visit much during our 30 minutes of cardio (either because we have headphones on or because he's in a different part of the gym than I am), we get to talk a lot while we're lifting weights. 

Also, it feels good to just be exercising again. 

...once I got over those first couple days' worth of soreness. 

I lifted weights pretty intensely through my high school years, and it's fun teaching him how to do something that held such a special place in my life. I've had to explain to him that the weight room is not a place to show off or be insecure (he really hated it when I tried to help him out the first couple of days while we were finding his appropriate weight limits) - but now that we're finding our stride - it's become this really special thing. 

And honestly, even when we're doing the cardio section of our nights, the gym is set up in such a way that I can look down and watch him shooting baskets while I'm on the treadmill, and that's been its own kind of enjoyable. 

I like watching him interact with other people. He's less awkward socially than I was at 12. Where I would have seen a group of strangers shooting baskets as perfect inspiration to find another form of cardio that night, he sees it as a group of people he can't wait to be a part of. 

I think that's really going to serve him well through his life. 

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Last weekend we went to Tulsa for a cookout at a friend's house. 

While it was still really hot outside, it was nice to get out and do something with friends. 

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before, but I have a small group of guys that I play xbox with and communicate through fb messenger throughout the week. They're some of my best friends, which is funny because we only get to meet up in person a very few times throughout the year. 

The cookout was a blast, and we got to catch up in person, which is something that just doesn't happen enough. 


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This week we had a little scare in the house, though thankfully it turned out to be nothing major. 

While home for lunch on Wednesday, I heard the sound of water running in the kids' bathroom. Though, nothing was turned on, so it was a sound that I shouldn't have been hearing. 

I ended up staying home that afternoon trying to trace the sound to its location. I even called in Shelly's dad for help because he's a wealth of information on all things house related - and even with his assistance, we just couldn't pinpoint the source of the running water. 

And it was truly bizarre. 

The sound seemed to be coming from behind the bath faucet, though when we pulled the panel off of the wall to get to the bath tub pipes, everything was bone dry. The toilet wasn't running or leaking, and the panel under the sink revealed nothing as well. 

Yet, the sound persisted. Turning the water off to the house killed the sound, and turning the water back on brought it back.  

Stranger still, the water meter wasn't budging. 

It had me so confused that I turned to google, which is never the most calming option when you think there's something wrong with your home. 

Much like WebMD always convinces me that my stomach aches are cancer, googling my house's symptoms led me to believe that I had a small "slab leak" - something that it would take hundreds of dollars to diagnose, and then potentially thousands to fix. 

In short, the type of money that would make things VERY tight around here for a while. 

Thankfully, before calling a leak detection company from Tulsa to come out I tried a local plumber - who came by Thursday morning and had the problem identified and fixed in under ten minutes. 

The source of my concern was a small rubber ring on the outdoor faucet just next to the kids' bathroom, and once it was replaced - no more sound. 

Ended up costing 110 for the plumber to come spend ten minutes in my house - but it led to a lot of peace of mind, as well as alleviated fears of something far more troublesome. 

And really, that's the homeowner experience. Putting out (or having someone else put out) small fires all the time, praying that each one doesn't have enough dry grass around it to become a catastrophe. 

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This next upcoming week is going to be a busy one. 

Today, I'm driving to Tulsa to have a small bachelor party for my little brother, who is getting married in Vegas next week. 

We're going to dinner at the Prairie Brewery and then getting drinks at the Max Retro Pub - which after looking at their facebook page has me pretty excited. 

Next weekend, we fly out to Vegas for the wedding, AND to eat at what I truly believe is the world's most amazing buffet. 

I mean seriously, just look at this thing:




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I'm also waiting for the perfect opportunity to prank Jaxon, but I'll write about that in a future blog. 

For now, just know that it involves a black morph suit,


a guy who didn't realize how unflattering black morph suits are, 


and a kid who pretends to be tough, but frightens easily.




Have a great week. 








Sunday, July 23, 2017

Could be, May be

What a week.

I honestly don't know if I've ever been this happy to be back in Oklahoma.



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For those not in the know, I got back yesterday from spending the last week in Omaha, Nebraska - or, as the Counting Crows put it, "Somewhere in middle America." 


I went there to learn how to train others in Youth Mental Health First Aid - the adolescent version of a program designed to help people both learn about mental health and learn how to help those with mental illnesses who may be in crisis. 

It's a wonderful training for those not well versed in mental health language and familiar with the signs/symptoms, but for those with a degree in the field, it's a week-long refresher course on topics most of us are still quite fresh on. 

The week is split into sections. The first two days, two instructors actually teach the course, modeling it for the people in attendance, so they can see what it looks like when led appropriately. The next day, the class is split in two groups (one group going with each instructor) and then the course is broken down into the smallest possible pieces, with the instructor going into painful detail over every single slide. 

The last two days are spent with every participant getting a 30 minute portion of the program that they are asked to present on in front of their peers, giving them an opportunity to speak to a live audience on a material they haven't spoken on before. We're critiqued, graded, and hopefully then graduate from the program, ready to return home and begin teaching. 


My group's instructor was a woman named Mary - a woman who has been with the MHFA program since it's inception - whose passion is only rivaled by her uncanny ability to unknowingly put her foot in her mouth. 

At different times this week, she inferred that returning soldiers were objectifying sexual aggressors, school janitors were uneducated (while, unbeknownst to her, a school janitor's wife was in her class), and that one woman in our group was so pretty that it would be distracting to her audiences - encouraging her to wear her hair differently and to wear a turtle neck while speaking. 


- all while not mentioning a thing to the other 10 women in the room about their looks. They all clearly had an acceptable level of beauty going on. 



It's a weird thing, silently judging someone who had the power to send me home empty-handed. 


...It reminded me of college. 


Regardless, it's a very full week, and by the end of it, you get to know your fellow participants quite well. 

And let me tell you, my fellow participants were a real cast of characters. 

Enter: Edgardo. 


Edgardo is a 6 foot plus, muscular, Puerto Rican Adonis. 

Through the week, Edgardo let us know more and more about his life back in Puerto Rico, and every story was more hilarious than the last. 

It started off as expected. He showed us pictures of him at the beach by his house. He showed us pictures of his supermodel girlfriend. He even had pictures of him catching lobsters near his home. 

Then he told us how his day starts at 4, so he has time to exercise. 

Then he told us that he makes his own rum. 

Then he told us that he has his own radio show. 

Then he told us that he'd been on a telenovela. 



As the week went on, being one of the only three men in the course, "Of course he does..." became my mantra. 

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The week was quite enjoyable, though. 

I traveled with two coworkers that I didn't know well before the trip, and we actually had a very good time. 

Living with a family of picky eaters, when I travel I like to eat foods that I can't get at home. Thankfully, the two girls from work that I was there with were as adventurous food-wise as I am - so we ate some really great stuff. 

We had Vietnamese pho, we had Indian food, and we even got Omaha Steaks one night. 

The hotel we stayed at was great, the staff was awesome, and the shuttle they offered saved us a fortune in taxi costs. 

However, by the last day of training, I was READY to be home. 

If I had only known what laid in store for me. 


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Friday morning, I got up and spent the first half of the day doing closing things for the training. Certificates were handed out, evaluations returned, and we got our mid-week test results back. 

I flew out at 2, so I left the hotel around 12 and headed to the airport. Everything went off without a hitch. Slightly hungry, I opted to wait for the Chicago airport because I was positive it would have better options. 

It wasn't until we were nearly to Chicago that the first of many mishaps happened. 

The pilot came on and explained that because of storms in the Chicago area, we couldn't land there just yet - and would remain in the air until it was safe to land. 

Only, that time didn't come soon enough, so we changed plans and landed on the runway of a small airport miles away. 

No problem, I had a three hour layover. 

After two hours of waiting on this small runway in a cramped airplane seat, I began to worry. It was starting to become clear that my plans of eating at the Chicago airport were probably not going to happen. 

No problem, I just want to make my plane. 

We finally pick up and get to Chicago with fifteen minutes to spare before my next flight boards. Though, as with everything else this day, I was literally as far from my gate as I could be. So, I hoofed it through the airport as fast as I could in order to get there on time. 

You know those moving sidewalks that they have in airports? I love those things. 

I never understood why some people get on them and STILL walk as fast as they can towards the end. 

Friday, I was one of those people. Though, silver lining there was that I felt like a damn superhero moving that fast while people next to me (off of the sidewalk) seemed to be standing still. 


Seriously, I'd go back and do that again if I could. 

But, luckily, I made it to my gate in time because the storm had delayed this plane landing. Though, the gate attendant informed us that we'd be boarding any time, and to not leave the gate area if we could avoid it. 

No problem, there was a cold sandwich shop right next door. 

And that's when I found this monstrosity: 




The package was marked "Chicken and Provolone", and through the clear plastic of the package I could see at least one piece of chicken and a round piece of provolone. Unfortunately, the brown paper portion of the package was hiding the asparagus. 

While I've since learned that some people actually eat asparagus on their sandwiches, I learned quickly that I'm not from that camp. I pulled the asparagus off after trying it, and finished my ten dollar sandwich that had two pieces of fajita chicken and one piece of cheese. 

No problem, I was still at the gate and was going home. 


The plane landed, and we boarded. Everything seemed to be going to plan, and we taxied away from the gate and towards the runway. 

Then, dead stop. 

The captain came on to inform us that because of the storm, all flights were grounded until things cleared up - OR until they could chart us a takeoff that got us around the weather. 

We sat on that runway for two hours. 

Eventually, the captain came back on and said that FAA rules said that they couldn't keep people on a sitting plane for more than three hours, so they were taking us back to the gate so we could have the opportunity to get off if we wanted. Mind you, they weren't sure that if we got off we could get back on - but to rest assured that they'd find out before anyone tried. 

With my phone at 25 percent, I began to worry. 

No problem though, the captain assured us that he and his crew had just come on, so if we were patient - we WOULD get to Tulsa. They were willing to wait it out if we were. 

I was. 


At the gate, I was able to charge my phone and visit with Shelly while people around me dropped like flies. Some left to get hotels because they were positive this flight would be cancelled. Some went to get rental cars because they had obligations they couldn't be late for. 

I learned many flights had actually been cancelled already, and started seeing cots appear in the airport hallway for people who couldn't get to a hotel. 



But not me, the captain promised that if I was patient he would be too - and I'm nothing if not tolerant. Especially when the pay off was going to be getting to see my wife and kids while also sleeping in my own bed that night. 

My plan of landing in Tulsa at nine and getting home at ten a forgotten dream, I hunkered down near the gate attendant and began my wait, all the while my phone kept beeping to inform me that my flight was going through a series of delays.  




No problem... storms don't last forever... right? 


Sadly, the gate attendant let us know just after midnight that the flight had in fact been cancelled - and informed us that we needed to go to the United customer service desk in order to reschedule for the next available flight. 

Even worse, hundreds of other people in the terminal were getting the same information, so the customer service desk looked like the line at an amusement park ride - if the line at an amusement park ride was full of sleepy, worn down people, many of whom were trying to wake themselves up by cussing. 


(that lady totally knew I was taking her picture)

Thankfully, the woman in front of me in line found out that she had been rescheduled already by checking her flight on the United app, which allowed me to find out the same information. It was 12:30 and I was to fly out at 12:15 the next day. 

Debating between staying at the airport and getting a hotel, I opted for the hotel when I looked around and saw that every possible comfortable spot was taken by people sleeping on the aforementioned cots or huddled up in corners. 

I called the hotels.com number to find out what hotels in the vicinity were available only to be informed that the closest vacancy was 20 minutes away. 


... and I took it. God help me, I took it. 


At one that morning, I was driven twenty minutes by the world's most talkative cab driver (not being sarcastic, I now know more about this dude than I do my own kids) to a Best Western that I was promptly informed had no hot water. 

I was given a complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste and went to my room to fall face first into the bed. 


All things considered - it was a shitty experience, but it could have been MUCH worse. 

I think it's always important to keep things in perspective. I was drained because I had been away all week and spent the better part of a day in an airport - but ONLY because I work somewhere that trusts me enough to send me to be trained. 

I crashed in a seedy motel, but it was available and I was able to afford it. 

AND, after spending the last week at a fancy hotel eating the world's lamest continental breakfast of bagel halves and fruit pieces - I was excited to find out that Best Western has a full breakfast bar (for free), with sausage, french toast, an omelet station, and much more. 




So basically - that's my travel story. The trip that I will now measure all other trips by when things inevitably go wrong. 

I got home Saturday exhausted and ready to fall asleep - but I got home. 


I had a blast of a week (minus the parts where I compared myself to a walking Puerto Rican statue), and came home after learning a thing or two. 



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Now, I'm going to finish this up, call my grandma to catch up with her since it's been over a week - and then we're taking the kids to Tulsa to spend a few days with my mom and step dad. 

I need to mow. I need to get my paperwork from the week in order for work tomorrow. I still need to catch up on a bit of sleep. 

But, I'm home. 






Saturday, July 15, 2017

Up in the Air

Lately, I haven't been as diligent with the blog as I would like to be.

But in all fairness, this summer has been a very atypical summer for me.


One thing I've learned about myself as I've settled into my thirties, is that I'm very much a homebody. The things that I do in my life seem to all be based around making sure that the place I go every night is comfortable, and that the people there are well taken care of.

I like my house, I like my family, and I like the way that one spot on the couch now seems contoured to my butt.

I feel like that little girl from the daily affirmations video.



That said, this weekend I take off for Omaha, Nebraska for a work training that will allow me to come back and teach classes on Youth Mental Health First Aid. 



The training is going to be awesome, and Counting Crows made an entire song about Omaha - so I'm sure the week will be a really great one... 

It's just... I'm ready to sit still for a while. 

Mental Health First Aid (along with the youth course that I'm taking this week) is all about training those unfamiliar with mental health issues how to be comfortable identifying people in need - and more importantly, how to be comfortable approaching and helping them. 

Truly, it's awesome. It's 100% designed to reduce the stigma of mental health diagnoses, and the more people that we teach, the less people will be afraid to discuss important matters and seek help. 


But, after Florida in May, Washington D.C. in June, and now this - followed by Vegas in August for Adam's wedding and potentially North Carolina over fall break - that's just more than I'm used to being away from home. 


And I don't know when the transition happened, to be honest. 

When I was a kid and the travel process was actually fun, I flew to my dad's house in Texas quite regularly (often by myself). Admittedly, having my mom pack my suitcase probably helped make the process a bit more fun. But still, the prospect of traveling for a week (specifically without my family) just feels a little bit... hollow. 

Honestly it's not a humble brag. At least, I don't think. 

I'm so truly appreciative that I work in a field and for a Nation that allows me to travel as much as I have gotten to. I've seen places that I never thought I'd get to travel because of this job. 

I think I'm just lazy, and moving this much in such a short period of time has taken it out of me. 


But, there really is something to be said about growing into the nest that we build around ourselves. 

I guess it's a good problem to have, owning a life that you miss when you're away from it. 


Humans are funny creatures. 


This week has been somewhat uneventful, minus that deluge of patients that we saw at the hospital. 

Truly, it's bizarre how predictable full moons are when it comes to patient needs in any form of helping profession. 


I've heard multiple different proposed reasons as to why this is, and many of them make sense. However, the only irrefutable fact about full moons while working in a hospital is that they often lead to an overload of work in an already draining profession. 


Man, I just go on and on about being tired sometimes, don't I? 


I could have it so much worse. I'll stop.



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This week Jade had a friend over for a sleepover, and Jaxon helped me mow the yard. We've also had a lot of fun with a pack of Shrinky Dinks that my mom found during her recent move. 




...and by "we", I mean that the kids played with them for a short while, and upon finding out what Shrinky Dinks were, my coworkers have become obsessed with them. 

Honestly, at one point this week, my friend Jordan said (with a straight face): 

 "I'm just really into Shrinky Dinks right now". 



Is that not hilarious? 

To me, it conjured the image of a teenager dressed in all black locking themselves away in their room with markers and scissors, only emerging to frequent the oven. 

"Mom, I told you it's NOT a phase! I'm a Shrinky Dartist!" 


... but I'm easily entertained. 


... apparently not as much as my Shrinky Dink loving coworkers, though. 


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Jade's sleepover went off without a hitch. 

She and all of her friends are SUPER into making slime right now, so the night consisted of a lot of really loud music, dancing, and making slime with various additives thrown in. 

I've seen her make it with sand, with shaving cream, and even with cut up pieces of straws thrown in. 

She makes batch after batch - and when she's not making it herself, she's watching youtube videos of other kids making it. 

... In fact, it just hit me - maybe slime is her video games - because that sounds exactly like Jaxon's relationship with xbox games. 


Listening to her play with her friend last night though made me miss being a kid. 

Remember sleepovers? 

Even as a boy, they were fun. Staying up late, watching things we weren't supposed to, playing games until 2 in the morning, and messing with the first person to fall asleep. 

Somewhere along the line though, I guess it's just not cool to have people over for the night. 


... though a part of me thinks that Kevin would probably still be up for a night of scrambled HBO and xbox. 



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Other than that, as I said before - Jaxon helped me mow the lawn. 

As much as I pine about them getting older and growing up, Jaxon both wanting to help mow - AND being able to work the mower - is a pretty sweet consolation prize. 

It's taken yard work time down from 3 hours to roughly an hour and 15 minutes. 


And not only that, it's been really cool seeing him take an active interest in what the yard actually looks like. 

While our yard isn't the best in the neighborhood (mainly because we live across from a man who has summers off and treats his lawn like Hank Hill treated his...), Jaxon actually seems proud of the work that we do when we mow the yard together. 

... and that's awesome. 



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So, I guess that's it for now. 

Shelly and the kids are at a birthday party, and I need to get back to packing my suit case for my flight early tomorrow morning. 


Hope all is well for you, and thanks for reading. 



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mr. Stephenson Goes To Washington


This week I got the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for work, and holy cow am I exhausted.


But honestly, that city is amazing.









I never thought I'd be giddy to see a landmark, but cresting the top of the steps at the Lincoln Memorial made me feel like I had just rounded the corner straight into a celebrity.









Everything there is just larger than life.












I went to D.C. for work because that's where this year's NAMI conference was held. So, with my coworker and friend James, we traveled there for nearly the entire week - with his service dog Cotton in tow.







I'll admit, I had trepidations about traveling with a dog. I get nervous traveling by myself because anymore, half of the videos on youtube seem to be about the TSA or different airlines ruining people's trips - but this dog really did amazing.

She sat and traveled on four cramped airplanes better than most humans - even on the two flights where she had to sit under James' feet because there wasn't enough space for her in front of him.



The conference was great. For those not in the know, NAMI (the National Alliance in Mental Illness) puts on a conference every year for both professional clinician and patients (consumers) alike. They have multiple different speakers, and they talk on topics that both apply to people who work in the field - and people who receive services themselves.

And this year, since the conference was in D.C., they even organized a "march" on the capitol, where people were bused to the capitol building and then allowed to speak to their state's senators.

... and then also given free time to explore the capitol grounds and surrounding areas.



We even got to go to the Smithsonian Museum of Native Americans (where the cafeteria served traditional Native American foods). 



Trips like this always leave me feeling so thankful. I can't accurately put into words how thankful I am to have a job that allows me to do the things I do - often in places I never thought I'd get to see. 






We even got to see a real life Dragon Ball Z character, though I wasn't fast enough with my phone's camera function to do the character justice. 



No joke... this kid was skating around the Washington Monument with his hands up like he was shooting fireballs. 

I like to think the secret service was just there for show, and we now have anime characters guarding the president. 




All things said, the trip was an amazing blast, and while I was ready to go home, I didn't leave D.C. before I saw a ton of amazing things - and ate a ton of amazing food. 

Living with three people who don't like Asian food made me happy that I was traveling with a friend who liked it as much as me. 

We ate at the same phò place twice this trip. 


... it didn't hurt that they were super big fans of the dog we traveled with, and even gave her a bowl of water and her own (free) plate of meat. 



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When I got back home, I was greeted by a super excited wife and two eager kids. I didn't get home until late Sunday night, but it wasn't too late for them to throw me a "Welcome Home Luau", complete with some of my favorite foods (chips and white Mexican queso, pasta salad, broccoli with ranch dip, shrimp with rice, and even pineapple cupcakes). 





Definitely in the top five cures for homesick-ness. 



So, while I'm super excited to be home - I'm also super tired and ready for another weekend. I wanted to share my experiences from this week, and now I'm off to play xbox with my son. 





Monday, June 26, 2017

Rockstar Weekend

I've never been good at concerts.

I mean, I've only been to a small handful of them in my life, but every time I find myself watching the people there as much as, if not more than, the performer on stage.

I think, maybe because I have trouble "letting go".

Here's a for instance:

You know when you're at a concert, and the person on stage yells "Are you guys excited?!" and you're supposed to scream something back at them...

No matter how excited I am, whatever leaves my mouth (if anything) in response to that question just doesn't sound natural. It sounds... pained.

Have you seen those videos of vocal goats? That's me trying to fit in at a concert.

I don't yell good.

I'm not a "yeller".



Don't get me wrong, I love music. I listen to it when I shower. I listen to it when I draw. I pay extra to not listen to commercials on Pandora when I'm driving.

I've just never been good at concerts.










I say all of that, because this week Shelly and I went on our anniversary date to see Chris Stapleton in Tulsa.



Now the concert, was amazing.

Not a real fan of country music myself, I was a little hesitant about how much I was going to enjoy the evening (even though I knew my wife was going to have a blast, which made going exciting anyways) - but this guy is legit.

Regardless of the genre, there's something about listening to an artist who's truly talented, doing something they're passionate about.

I don't like country music or concerts, and this guy put on one hell of a country music concert.

Couple that with the enjoyment of watching someone I love enjoying something she loves - and we had a blast.


At the concert however, I saw a LOT of people who are "good at" concerts.



Even in our little section (up in the nosebleeds), people were singing their hearts out, screaming at the right times, and - in the case of the highly inebriated girl sitting next to Shelly - dancing to nearly ever other song.

Seriously. It was hilarious.

As she drunkenly swayed back and forth in her goin' out dress, Shelly leaned into me at one point and whisper/yelled "Her fringe keeps hitting me!"

Oh, what a strange problem to have.


But still, it's amazing to see how much people can just let go in a situation like that - truly living in the moment.

I envy that.




There was a guy there two seats ahead of us who was up on his feet more often than not, singing his heart out and raising his lighter to his favorite songs.

At one point, Chris and his wife covered the song "You Are My Sunshine", and this guy was just... there.

Fists in the air, he belted out every single word with them in a way that I never thought I'd see a grown up commit to such a simple song.

I commented to Shelly "If they play Bicycle Built for Two, this guy is going to lose his mind."



But all in all, the concert was amazing. Before things got started, we met up with my friend Amanda and her husband Mark - and Shelly saw a few people there that she knew as well. Tons of people came out for this thing.

(Including a large man with a foot long beard in a Punisher shirt and Superman belt who REALLY wanted to get in a fight when someone dropped their beer on him. Admittedly, they dropped it from two stories up... but still...)

At one point, Chris asked the crowd to turn their phone's flashlights on (this generation's lighter in the air) and the arena LIT UP. Quite a sight to behold.





Due to the high number of people we thought might turn out, we opted to take a Lyft from the hotel to the concert. In what I thought was clearly one of my brighter moves, we avoided traffic and paid 12 dollars for the ride there instead of 10-20 in parking alone.

What I didn't know was that there are also "prime hours" on services like Lyft and Uber where due to the high volume of rides requested, prices go up by 600%.

The 12 we paid to get there made me feel like a genius.

The 60 we paid to get back... didn't.


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The day after the concert, we went to IHOP for breakfast and then went and got "anniversary tattoos". 



True to form as a sappy couple, Shelly and I have our own "cute" way of telling each other (and the kids) "I love you". 

Years ago, one of us pointed out that "I love you" in sign language resembles the letters J, m, and l. Over time, "I love you" was shortened to "Jml" for texts, greeting cards, and short messages. 

For our fourth anniversary, we decided to get Jml tattooed as a fun way to commemorate the event. 



Interestingly enough, JML also happened to be the initials of the artist who worked on us. 

Deep down, I wondered if he thought we were stalkers he just hadn't ever noticed before. 

_______________________


Saturday night, we drove to Tulsa and met my parents, brother, and soon to be sister in law for dinner at Texas de Brazil (a Brazilian steakhouse) and the comedy club. 



The steakhouse was something else. 

Have you been to a Brazilian steakhouse? Basically it's a carnivore's dream. 

They give you these coins for your table - everyone gets one. One side is red, which means that you're either eating or not hungry at the moment. Flip the coin over though, and servers that walk the restaurant will come by offering you cuts of whatever meat they're carrying.

They had multiple types of steak, chicken, bacon wrapped jalapeños, and sausages. 

They also offer a gigantic salad bar, which I've heard referred to as a "rookie mistake". 

I mean, why fill up on lettuce in a place that literally serves all-you-can-eat steak. 


... Please don't reference this blog if you ever hear me griping about my weight. 



After the restaurant, we went across the street to The Loony Bin. 





There were three performers that night, and while they were all great - the first one (and host for the night) stole the show. 



Well, he may have tied with the HORRIBLY drunk girl behind us that ran her own commentary for the length of all three comedians. For the uninitiated, comedians ask a lot of rhetorical questions. 

She answered every single one of them. 


And - while I've spent at least 30 minutes on Google trying to find the stellar comedian's name to share, I've been completely unable to. 

Maybe my memory's getting bad. 

Maybe it's because Kelsey and I ordered drinks that came in mini-pitchers. 



... the world may never know.


That night, after the comedy club, we went back to Mom's house in Sand Springs, played games, opened birthday presents, and watched Netflix. 

To cap off the night, Adam asked me to be the best man at his wedding this August. 

_______________________

At the end of it all, it was a whirlwind of a week. 

Had a great anniversary trip with my wife, got some special quality time with my family, and did a lot of fun things that I hadn't done for some time. 


This week, I'm out of town for work. 

I'm sure I'll have a lot of interesting things to talk about when I get a chance to settle back in next week. 

Now, I'm going to wrap this up and then go out for my birthday dinner with Shelly and the kids. 


They're taking me to Buffalo Wild Wings. 



Seriously, why am I overweight??