Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Experience Dump

When I started this blog, I had the best of intentions.

I'd write about my experiences, documenting my life as well as things that happened in the family - and I'd share it here; so friends and family that aren't always around could see what's going on in our lives.

I was going to update once a week, and it was going to be awesome.

Thing is: in a family, so much happens so regularly that documenting it all can be quite daunting. And, on top of that, finding time to document it even more so.

That said, I've found myself putting off updating because it's hard to find a chunk of time to sit down and go at it - so I've decided that to get back on track, I'm going to do an "experience dump".

I'm going to share everything that's happened since my last post in rapid-fire style, so strap in and let's get caught up to date:


A few weeks ago, we had our annual small family reunion out at Lake Eufala. 

My parents rented a lake house. Shelly and I took the kids. My aunt and uncle came. My brother and sister in law came. My uncle's daughter and granddaughter came as well. 

Oh, and like, a thousand dogs came too. 

I mean, I think there were really 6 dogs in total - but that's a lot of dogs. 

Too many dogs. 

But, the lake house was great, the view was beautiful, and they had a media room that I got to set up my new Super Nintendo Classic in. 

I got to play Street Fighter 2 with my kid and kid brother. Man, that was a lot of fun. 

A few weeks earlier, Shelly had found "Tropickles" at Walmart. These were fruit punch flavored pickles. Apparently, they're quite a normal snack in some Southern states, but we had never heard of them. After putting them up on facebook, my brother made the mistake of saying he'd try one, so we brought some. 

Yes, they were horrible. Science has clearly gone too far.

Adam and Kelsey brought a game called 'What Do You Meme?', and in true family form, it was way too awkward for our comfort. We still played it, but I mean... wow. 

After that, we went over to Pete's Place in Krebs, a pretty well renowned Italian restaurant that was pretty good. The prices were a bit surprising for the type of food, but the atmosphere was really unique. Every table was in its own room, so when we sat down with the family, we had a private party to ourselves without having to reserve a room. 

The lady that took our picture outside said "Hey, you kind of look like the guy!" 

Shut up, lady. Nobody asked you. 


Jaxon plays the drums in his school band, and this year he got to march in his first parade. For Jade's birthday party, she had four friends spend the night. We took the girls out to watch the parade and to cheer for Jaxon. 

I really wanted to embarrass the kid, and had made plans for all of us to scream when he passed - but this kid was 110% professional and didn't even look our way. 

Truthfully, his "professionalism" was probably him just not wanting to acknowledge we were cheering for him, but either way, he looked like he was in the zone. 


I finished the Cherokee book I've been working on with my friend Brad. It was a pretty daunting process, making this one happen - but we've actually found a publisher, and it's going to be out early next year. 

Finishing this one has now freed me up to work on my next children's book. It's going to be a children's book for kids who can't sleep. This is something we've battled Jade on since moving in together, and the idea came from the stretch of time that I was making stories up nearly every night to try to get the kids in sleep mode. 

Making books is just a really fun hobby. I have high hopes about the publisher we're working with, but in the end, it's really just cool to have a stack of books that I've made. I would highly recommend doing it to anyone interested. It's super easy (though quite tedious). 


Just before Halloween, we took the kids out to a fun run for their principal, where they both did awesome. 

Two days before Halloween, we got pumpkins and carved them while watching Hocus Pocus. As the only person in the family who really gets excited about October, it's like pulling teeth to try to get the family to watch anything Halloween related. Hocus Pocus was a compromise. 

For a while there, Jaxon had started to act like he was into scary movies - but it was short lived. 

After that, it was time for Halloween. This year, Jaxon was almost too cool to actually go trick or treating. He had all but decided to just stay home and pass out candy, but I think the idea that Jade would get something he didn't spurred him on to actually go once more. 

While he ended up just wearing a big shark mask he had gotten from Walmart, Jade chose to dress as a "Pink Lady" from Grease. Though, with the cold weather and rain that night, the only real part of her costume easily visible was her old style glasses, so she really looked more like an old lady. 

She chose to pose without teeth to complete the picture. 

Our friends, the Taylor family came and trick or treated with us like they've done the last two years. We only do our neighborhood, but normally the kids end up getting quite a haul. 


We did end up watching Stranger Things season 2 as a family, though.

Well, at least we ended up starting and finishing Stranger Things season 2 as a family.

We watched the first few episodes with the kids, but then "cheated" on them by watching a few more while they were at their dad's.

Turns out, this was a pretty unforgivable act, but thankfully they let up after we told them we would watch the ones they hadn't seen with them again.  

Seriously, is there a better way to spend a day than in blankets on the couch watching things with your family?


We had three going away parties at work over the last couple of weeks:

Sam from urgent care is moving to be a "floater", going from clinic to clinic wherever he is needed. 

Dana from the ER is going to the hospital in Claremore. 

Judy from Behavioral Health is retiring. 

It would be weird to not have any one of them around, but all three gone from their respective posts is going to be quite a change. 


Oh man, that's a lot already and I've still got more. 

Let's see: 

Amanda at work made hamburger cupcakes for Kourtney's birthday. 

Kevin took me hunting for my first time ever (I didn't get anything, but I learned a lot). 

Caitlin got a tiger cookie. 

Jordan and Nikiah threw a rotten banana on my floor, and then Jordan hid from her boss. 

Aaaand, now it's Sunday night. It's dark outside, and I'm working on dinner: Flank steak with veggies. 


Ultimately, I hope to get back to more regular posts. I need to learn how to not try to write a novel every time I update, so updating doesn't seem like such a big undertaking. 

For now, this is a very abbreviated version of the last few weeks of our life. Hopefully, I've done a decent job capturing the multitude of straight up characters that take part in my story. 

Until next time. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Wobbly Toilets and Dancing Clowns

It's been a pretty eventful two weeks since I last put anything up here.

I remember when I initially said that I'd be posting once a week here. How quickly plans change when there's work involved...

That being said, I have experienced quite a lot since Vegas, so it's probably time to write some of it down.


Last weekend, because of the holiday/four day weekend, I entered with the best intentions. I had a small list of things around the house that I needed to do, and by the end, I had accomplished very few of them. On the front end, the toilet needed to be fixed, the microwave needed a part replaced, my car needed to be taken in, and the yard needed to be mowed.

I fixed the microwave and took my car in.

Being a homeowner has been quite the humbling experience for me. I've learned that there are so many things that can go wrong, so few that I know how to actually fix, and that it typically costs a small fortune to have someone come set things right.

However, I've also learned that with a little determination, and thanks to the amazing people I have in my life (and youtube), there are typically ways to work around my own ignorance in these areas.

After having Kevin's dad take a look at the lawnmower, I asked Shelly's dad if he could help me figure out what was wrong with the wobbly toilet in our master bathroom.

Shelly's dad has done construction for pretty much as long as I've been alive, so there really isn't a job that he doesn't know how to do. It's also something special to watch him go to work on jobs that are intimidating to me, because when he starts in, he makes everything look so easy.

And I say that I asked him to "help me" with the toilet. I'd be remiss if I didn't clarify that Jackie "helping" me equates to me alternating asking how I can help - and if we're in over our heads. At one point, he realized the job was going to be harder than he originally thought and he made an exasperated sound. I asked "Are we going to need to call someone in to take care of this?"

...the look he gave me.

Like a mother who walked into the kitchen to see the dishwasher erupting with suds because her kid had used the wrong type of dishwashing soap. He knew I was trying to help, but eagerness does not equate to know-how.

While he's never been anything but nice, and has always patiently answered my questions, I can't help but think helping me with projects feels like "Take your kid to work day" for him - only I'm not his kid... I'm the man-child he let marry his daughter.

And every time he helps with something around here, I'm always stumped at how to repay the favor. It's like, do I offer to draw him a picture? Because other than drawing cheap little cartoon characters, my skill set is pretty slim.

Honestly though, I'm just so very thankful that he both knows how to do these things, and that he's never once acted put out. The insecurities I feel when he comes over are all in my own head, and not due to anything he's ever inferred - looks of pity notwithstanding.


I had a doctor's appointment this week that I debated on chronicling here, but I promised myself that this blog wouldn't be just the happy parts of our lives, because that's not realistic.

While I was initially going in for a month check-in after starting a new medication, I ended up talking to my doctor about a lump I had found.

...down there.

I remember listening to a Mike Birbiglia standup comedy album one time, and he talked about his personal experience of getting diagnosed with a bladder tumor. He explained that one of the funniest things that can happen to a hypochondriac is for them to get cancer, because "... it confirms every fear you've ever had in your entire life."

What made matters worse was that when I asked Shelly for a second opinion - my ever-patient wife, already long-used to quelling my exasperated imaginative fears - she began crying.

She felt the lump, too.

I'd add an addendum to Birgbiglia's thought about hypochondriacs: It's less funny when the person who typically calms the hypochondriac down boards the belief train and starts to think something might actually be wrong.

I'm used to me freaking out over things, because I've been tightly wound my entire life. I know that me freaking out often ends with everything actually being fine. I'm sure not used to Shelly joining the team.

...and I'm not a fan.

And you know, it's strange. Going to the doctor for personal things is always an eye opening experience for me. As a therapist, I spend most of my day every day hearing personal things and long-kept secrets from people, and encouraging them to share. I can eloquently explain how talking about our fears can help us to heal - and how there's never anything to be embarrassed of, even when something is wrong.

When I have to go in to talk about something from my own personal life, I find myself slightly less confident in the powers of honesty and assertiveness.

But I'm no hypocrite. I did go in, and I did openly talk to my doctor about my fears - and after a little poking and prodding (well, more cupping and squeezing if we're being honest) he explained that my issue was nothing of concern, though agreed that I was still smart to seek professional input.

You know those moments in life where you do something so awkward that time seems to move in slow motion - the kind of things that when you look back on them later in the day (or year), you wince?

As a male, whenever a doctor checks you in that area, you typically have to help out by holding certain things... out of the way.

I dropped my slacks, aided Dr. Edwards in his diagnostic search, pulled my pants back up, and then finished the appointment.

Only, before I could get up to wash my hands, Dr. Edwards took off his gloves, talking the whole time about how he was retiring - and explained that my next appointment would be with his partner, Dr. Fell.

Without thinking, I instinctively stuck my hand out to shake his, thanking him for being my doctor for the last few years.

Now, you may not have ever had the experience of literally touching your genitals in front of a person and then trying to shake their hand - but I promise you, it's not in my top five life experiences.

....the look he gave me.

(I'm noticing a trend in my experiences).

Nevertheless, I left his office with a clean bill of health and a healthy dose of cringe. I guess the saving grace is that the one appointment that I embarrassed myself in front of my doctor was also my last appointment with him.

I mean, there's that...


Saturday, we went to a pool party at the home of a doctor that I work with.

Dr. Hughes from the ER had a cookout/pool party at her house, and while Jaxon opted to stay home and use his Saturday free time playing Xbox, Jade chose to go with, and had the time of her life. 

She ended up befriending Dr. Hughes' five year old daughter Kate, and the two spent the entire party running around and playing together while Shelly and I got to visit with the adults. 

A handful of other people from the hospital were there, and as always, it's so nice to get to spend time with people from work - while you're not at work. Even though the hospital was bound and determined to be a member of the party itself, as Dr. Hughes' phone blew up the entire time we were there, reminding all of us that some things never take the weekend off. 

In the end, we talked, we laughed, we ate hamburgers and hotdogs. It was an awesome afternoon. 


Sunday, my parents came to town to go see IT with us at the theater. 

I know it's happened before, but I've had a hard time remembering a movie that I was this excited about going to see. 

I think it's because I read so rarely that when a movie comes out based on a book that I HAVE read - and then I hear that it's a pretty faithful adaptation - it makes me super eager to see how things go down. 

And man, this movie is something else. 

I've been trying to get Shelly to read the book for some time, because even though she's afraid of clowns - the book itself is less about the clown and more about the kids that have to deal with him. It's this weird mix of genres, and ends up being more a coming of age story with a monster in it than an actual monster story. 

The kids in this movie didn't disappoint, either. I can't think of another movie that's this perfectly cast. Plus, it's nice to see movie studios not shying away from R rated movies. This movie is supposed to be scary, and the kids in it are supposed to act like real life kids. 

Poor Shelly, though. 

She's been afraid of clowns her entire life, and while this movie was at its heart 'Stand By Me' with a monster in it - for her, it was a bowl full of nightmares with a few dick jokes thrown in for comedy relief. 

...a dick joke/nightmare trail mix, if you will. 

I will happily pay full price to see it again, but I know full well I'll be going alone. 

After the movie, we went to Katfish Kitchen for dinner with my folks, and then back to the house for a few card games. 

We always have so much fun playing games as a family. I'm already excited for next month, because we will make our annual trip out to Lake Eufala to meet up with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins - and when we all get together, we have some of the best times playing card games. for the time that we played Cards Against Humanity and my uncle kept asking what certain words meant. 

...that was... less fun. 


Other than all that, the week has been pretty normal. 

I've put the finishing touches on the inside pages of the Cherokee children's book that I've been working on, meaning all that's left is the cover. 

It's a book that I'm working on with my friend Brad, and we're still in talks on how we want to handle publishing. We're both working middle-class dads who don't really want to hire an agent - but we also want to make more than a dollar every time one sells (especially since we're splitting that dollar down the middle). 

Createspace has been nice this far, because it's taken most of the work out of the process. I draw the pictures and upload them. They print the books and handle ordering/shipping through Amazon. 

Though, with them doing the lion's share of the publishing, they take the lion's share of the profits. 

It would be nice to find a publisher that gave us a little more freedom and cut of the take. 


For now, I think that's it. I lost the drive that told me I'd update once a week, but I will continue to update when there are things to update about. 

Hope your week is awesome. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

What Happens in Vegas Ends Up on Social Media

So, I've finally had some time to experience solid ground under my feet, and I figure it's time to write about our brief experience with Las Vegas...

... or at least the six or seven blocks we had time to see while we were there.


For those not in the know, last weekend we flew out to Vegas for my little brother's wedding. 

Adam's six years younger than me, and while we're not chronologically or geographically very close, we've always had a special bond. He and his girlfriend Kelsey had been dating for six years, and decided that it was time to make things official. 

So in larger than life fashion, they opted for Sin City as a backdrop to their special night. 

Having never been there ourselves, and knowing we wouldn't miss Adam's special day for anything, we packed the family up (sans kids - we chose to have them spend the weekend with their dad in lieu of learning a BUNCH of life lessons in a short amount of time) and we headed out West. 

Between Disney, traveling for work, and now going to Adam's wedding, I've been in more airplanes this summer than I have in the last five years combined. I've learned that no matter what the stewardess offers, I'm always going to want ginger ale - and that I really love Delta because their bigger planes offer free movies in the back of each seat. 

Even though most of my friends had been to Vegas already - and many told me what to expect, and what to look out for - it's really the type of place you have to see to believe. 

I swear, you can hear slot machines from the moment your plane touches down to the moment it takes off again. Also, every single store sells alcohol. You can argue with me, but I'm sure of it. 

Once we got there, we met up with my stepdad's sister Dena. Family titles get a bit tricky with step family members. I'd call her and her partner Cheri my aunts - Cheri refers to me as her "domestic step nephew in law". 

We made our way to the hotel, met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin - and set off for dinner. 

Now, as I'm not usually a gambler - the slot machines didn't really hold that much appeal. I am however, an eater - and I'd done my homework. 

A few months ago, I had seen a buzzfeed video about the best buffets in Las Vegas and one stood out above the rest; The Wicked Spoon. 

As this was before Adam and Kelsey had announced their wedding location, I considered going there a pipe dream. But once we found out where the event was to be held, I could think about very little else. 

...and let me tell you, this place did not disappoint. 

In addition to being the biggest buffet I've ever eaten at, they had so many unique and nontraditional things offered. There was a phó station, tons of Asian food, a mound of crab legs pre-cracked, and the biggest dessert bar I've ever seen in my life - complete with an assortment of gelato flavors. 

I felt like I had met a celebrity. 


After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel and spent time visiting and gambling a little. I had twenty dollars in my wallet from Dr. Young, a coworker - who asked me to "Put it all on Red 2!" - so after nervously watching other people play for a short while, I put his money down and quickly watched it disappear. 

(I couldn't find a table with a Red 2, so Black 2 it was.)

We met up with Kelsey's mom and little brother (she and Adam hadn't flown in just yet), and had a very quick meet and greet with multiple members of her family. 

While Vegas is definitely great for many things, I can't recommend the people-watching highly enough. For those interested in the human species, it's an absolutely remarkable cross section of all walks of life - with nudity, alcohol, and the incessant ringing of slot machines sprinkled on top. 

Seriously, this weekend I saw some truly fascinating people - the least of which being the two we lovingly named "The whore from the elevator" and "The ghost of the sixth floor".

...I'll get to them in a minute. 


Saturday was a bit unevenly paced. We started off by going to Caesar's Palace for the "Living Statue" show - which Shelly and I misunderstood to think that it would be people spray painted like statues accepting dollar bills for pop and lock moves. It ended up being an actual "Living Statue" show, in that three statues came to life animatronically (Is that a word? My computer doesn't think so) and put on a short show reminiscent of Game of Thrones. 

Hey, who let Beric Dondarrian in here??

While we were at Caesar's Palace, we stopped to buy those tall frozen drinks that you always see people carrying in Vegas photos (because we were tourists, and it's polite to mark yourselves as such). Then in true tourist form, we went back to the room for Shelly to take a nap, because the tall frozen drinks that you always see people carrying in Vegas photos actually have quite a LOT of alcohol in them. 

That afternoon, it was time to get up and get polished for the wedding. Thankfully, Kelsey is fashion savvy enough that I didn't have to pick out an outfit on my own. When I got asked to be Adam's best man, it came with a full outfit including a pink bow tie, teal suspenders, and flamingo socks. 

We got dressed, headed down to meet the wedding party, and waited for the festivities to begin. 

Did you know you're not supposed to wear a belt with suspenders? I sure didn't. 

The wedding went off without a hitch. Adam and Kelsey wrote their own vows, the officiant had a personalized message for their service, and everyone in the audience got along (which due to a few wild cards attending, was a real blessing). 

After the wedding, we were whisked off to the Reception room (a small hotel suite with roughly 50 or so people crammed in) for toasts, cake, and then a few of us guys headed down to meet the girl bringing catered Chipotle. 

"How much Chipotle did you order?" 

"All of the Chipotle." 

As mentioned before, on the way down to meet the sweet girl from Chipotle, we happened on a very... special sort of girl. Imagine if you took a Disney Princess, soaked her in Boone's Farm, shook her off, and then dried her off with a combination of hair dryers and cigarette smoke. 

The four of us guys tasked with bringing the food back up rounded the corner to the elevator bank, and suddenly heard a very loud "Wow. That's a very... unique suit!" 

Intially, as Adam had changed into his very flashy post-wedding attire, this didn't come as much of a surprise. 

It wasn't until the point where she asked him why he was wearing such a suit that things got interesting. 

Now, I've thought and thought about how to recount this story to you, and honestly - every way I come up with just doesn't do the experience justice. 

So, let me just type out the conversation that went down:

Elevator Girl: Wow. That's a very... unique suit!" 

Adam: Thanks

(the group gets to the elevator where Kelsey's grandmother is also waiting on a ride down). 

Elevator Girl: What's the suit for? Is it your birthday? 

Kelsey's uncle (a groomsman): He just got married. 

(girl's face twists) 


(nervous laughter)

Elevator Girl:(bending down to her purse in a very loose fitting tank top) Sorry, my tits keep falling out.

Kelsey's uncle's step son: (intently/nervously smiling) It's ok. 

Elevator Girl: Thanks, do you have a cigarette?

Step son: Sure, here you go. 

(the entire group gets on the elevator) 

Elevator Girl: Do you have a light?

Step son: Not on me, sorry. 


(silence - Kelsey's grandmother's floor dings, and she gets off)

Elevator Girl: Bet she's goin' to get some DICK!!

Kelsey's uncle: (points to step son) That's his grandmother. 

Elevator Girl: Sorry! (laughs maniacally)

(cue: awkward silence for three more floors)

- Scene -

Now, while I'm sure experiences like this are quite commonplace in Las Vegas, they do tend to stand out to those of us from small town Oklahoma. So, for the rest of the night, she was affectionately referred to as "The whore from the elevator". 


After champagne, cake, and Chipotle, Shelly and I went back to the room to change so we could join the group to go on the High Roller - a ferris wheel of sorts, where the cars had been replaced with huge orbs capable of holding 40 people. 

On the way back to catch up with the group, we ran into "The ghost of the 6th floor" - though like a more adult version of Scooby Doo, this ended up just being a very inebriated shirtless guy hiding behind a door near the elevators, growling as he swung said door open and shut. 

Like, legit growling. Loud legit growling. 

Thankfully, we were able to get on an elevator just as his friends were rounding the corner in search of him. 


The High Roller was a blast (for everyone but Shelly and my aunt Lisa who were both afraid of heights), though by the end, even they seemed like they were having fun. 

(Shelly and Lisa weren't as excited at the beginning of the ride as my cousin Emily.)

Then, as the wedding party went off to explore the strip in their wedding gear, Shelly, my cousin Emily, and a good friend of ours named Mark went off to Caesar's Palace for some tall, albeit strong drinks. 

...and food court ramen. Because that's a thing in Vegas. 

Also, as a coincidental side note - we ran into a guy with Adam's exact same suit on while there. I'd say "What are the odds?" - but I'm guessing that's a tough sentence to answer in Vegas. 


All in all, the trip was an absolute blast - and there are multiple things that I'm leaving out here for sake of time and space. In the end, we woke up Sunday morning a little worse for the wear and buckled in for a long day of flights and layovers in order to get home. 

We explored a small section of Vegas, my brother married his best friend, and I got to see family that I dearly miss when they're not around. 

While my wallet wasn't as happy as I was about the trip, but my heart was full and I came home with high hopes for the new marriage we had just watched take place. 

.... AND I got to watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on the return flight. For free. 

Seriously Delta, you're ok in my book. 


Until next time: