Monday, December 31, 2012

The Great Diet Run of 2013


I'm typing this while laying down in my bed because I can't hold my arms in an extended position for any length of time.

I just had my first workout with my new personal trainer, Mr. Brian Kizzia of Fort Gibson.

Some of you might remember the little "Journey through the Xs" I made a couple of years ago. You know, the one where I lost 73 pounds in about 13 weeks, taking me from 370 pounds to 297.

A look at "The Shirt" pics that I took over the course of the year. 
I was losing weight. The Missus was losing weight, even Kid Funk was losing weight. I was happy. I was working hard, but I was happy. 

When the moment of "under 300" came, I was thrilled. I lambasted Facebook with pictures and joyous outbursts, and swore I would never again rise above that dreaded weight. 

Then the next week I weight 301 pounds. 

I was devastated. 

From there I spiraled out of control, trying to desperately to contain the damage, but I had lost all hope on the inside. Eventually, I gave up trying, and the next time I bothered to weigh I tipped the scales at 363 pounds. 

That was January 1, 2012. 

I made a New Year's Resolution, and I busted my tail for about 3 months. I dropped about 30 pounds, then...I gave up again. 

Today is December 31, 2012. 

***

The Stats: 

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 353.6 lbs

My measurements. I don't need any comments about my right bicep being bigger. I've worked on that since I was 12. 
Currently I am taking 4 prescription medications: 

Metformin 1500 mgs a day
Glyburide
Lisinopril
Fenofibrate

These drugs control my Type II Adult Onset Diabetes, my blood pressure, and my liver enzymes. 

I am, to put it mildly, in bad shape. 

If I had to guess, my daily caloric intake ranges from 4000-7000 calories, and aside from a few heated games of Call of Duty per week, I lead a very sedentary lifestyle. 

In short, just like every other male in the Sloat family, I'm on track to die before I turn 40. 

A few weeks ago, I asked Brian if he would work with me in return for a little publicity. He agreed, and we're going to work together to make a new Travis Sloat in 2013. He's preparing a meal plan, he's going to train me in cardio and weight lifting, and in general be the bane of my existence for the next couple of months. 

I've agreed to go 100% with him through the month of January, and given him my word that I will stick to a food plan, in order to show people what an actual diet and exercise "diet" can do. 

Now here's what you can do. 

You can head here and "Like" my Facebook page. There you can see in-depth the struggles and successes of my previous journey, and the new one. 

You can head here and "Like" Brian's Facebook page. If you are interested in having him help you out, you can contact him. If you want to wait to see what he does with me, that's fine too. 

And, starting tomorrow, if you see me out and about, and I'm eating something I shouldn't be, I want you to punch me in the face. No questions, just slap the food from my hands and punch me in the face. 

Then run away. Because I for sure can't catch you in the shape I'm in now. 


I am receiving a discount in return for these publications. All opinions expressed are my own, and all results you see will be real and not modified in any way. These blogs in no way correspond with any other writing I do in a professional capacity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On Sexting.

I would just like to forewarn visitors today that the post you're about to read contains a good bit of graphic material. Not language, but stuff about the loving. Also, there is a tastefully edited picture of me without a shirt on. Ladies, control yourselves, and proceed at your own risk. 

You've been warned.
It was a normal Monday night, really.

We had breakfast for dinner, watched Home Alone, put the kids to bed, I had a bath, then we watched Sweet Home Alabama.

Okay, so that doesn't happen every Monday night. Normally I yell at the kids, then The Missus yells at the kids, then they gripe about not having dinner, we throw some hot dogs at them, then yell at each other, and I spend a lot of time petting Fabulous.

But for some reason, last night went well.

As The Missus and I crawled into bed, we began the early stages of, for the courtesy of the reader, what shall heretofore be called "activities."

All of the sudden, The Missus got a text.

She looked at her phone, said, "It's a wrong number," and set the phone down.

As a man, you would think at this point I'd want to pick up where we left off. Resume the activities, if you will.

"Hand me your phone."

Thus began a series of text messages.

From the get go, Donnel seemed only interested in one thing. He sent me a picture, so I of course asked him if he wanted one back, and I also asked him if he'd like me to be topless as well.



It seemed as though I had captured the young man's heart. I would like to say I'm ashamed of the fact that my ample bosom could inspire such lust in the heart of a young black man, but we all know I'm not. 

The conversation, which I'm sure you're keen to get back to, continued. 


The boy plays football for Ohio State, or so he claims. A quick search of the Internet not only proved he wasn't from Atlanta, he also didn't play football for Ohio State and he was listed as "In a relationship" on the Facebook. 

So I called him on it. And I also revealed to him a shocking secret. 

I felt like Maury Frickin Povich. 
I then sent him a follow up picture for proof. 

In the interest of you maintaining your current stomach contents, I've done a bit of editing.
Donell never replied, which was fine, because I had "activities" to attend to. By then, The Missus and I were laughing so hard it was almost impossible, but it wasn't. I will illustrate the union of our love with a tasteful picture. 

I can literally use Kevin Hart to illustrate anything.
Upon completion of said activities, The Missus was fiddling around with her nightstand drawer. 

I heard a loud crash, a half-curse, and then...

...Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 

Something, I won't say what, started going off. 

It was seriously the best night I'd had in a long time. 

Thanks Donell.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Through The Fire And Flames.

It started innocuously, as a nice Thursday evening dinner at Rib Crib with my family.

Aven challenged me to a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, and I'm here to tell you, he actually beat me one out of four times. The boy beat me. 

This was essentially the look I gave him after he won.
He looked up at me and said, "You let me win that one, didn't you dad?"

Faced with a crossroad, I decided to actually tell him the truth, in hopes that it would encourage him to feel better about himself, and let him know he's capable of doing great things if he tries. 

Then I beat the brakes off him in the last game. 

Just because I want him to do great things doesn't mean I want to lose.

For those that don't know, I'm practically deaf in one ear, and I really can't hear out of the other. Although I've had my hearing tested, and the doctor said it really wasn't that bad, I still think it's terrible. 

So you can imagine my surprise when I started overhearing a conversation at the table just in front of me. 

And then you can imagine my surprise when I started hearing this guy use every curse word I've ever been privileged to know while discussing the television show "Duck Dynasty" with his family. 

I've never watched the show, but with wisdom like this dripping from the mouths of the cast, I might have to. 
You might even be able to imagine my surprise when I saw that his family consisted of a little girl around 10 years of age.

My friends, I do try not to be a hypocrite.

I have used curse words in the past. 

Hell, I use them now (sometimes). 

But what I don't do, EVER, is use them in front of my children. 

Now listen. If that's your thing, or if you've accidentally let the F-bomb slip in front of your 5 year old, I'm not judging you. I'm absolutely positive that if a situation called for it, and my carefully placed "kid-filter" wasn't firmly situated, then I'd change my rules on cursing in front of children in an instant. 

But I don't go to Rib Crib on a Thursday night and talk about an insanely popular TV show sprinkling the conversation with profanity as one might sprinkle salt on their catfish dinner. 

As die-hard readers of this blog, or die-hard fans of my stories will know, I do not like confrontations. However, having children has somewhat changed that. 

While being mildly offended myself, I recognized that our kids weren't listening to the man at all. They were engrossed in their corn dogs and grilled cheese, blocking out all ambient noise, and the boy was busy kicking me in the leg thinking it belonged to the table. 

I decided to withhold a confrontation about the language until after my wife and kids left the table. I told The Missus what I was going to do, and I sent them on their way. 

I got up, my mind racing with possibilities. 

I walked over slowly, my body going cold, anticipating the man's movements, trying to ascertain how aggressive he might be, and how he was going to react. 

I was, to put it bluntly, scared to death. 

I approached the table and smiled. I looked at the man and said, "Sir, I apologize for interrupting, but the language you're using is absolutely terrible, and there are kids all around." 

He glared at me. 

"Well, I have the right to free speech. So why don't you f*ck off." 

My temper flared. 

"Yes sir, and I have the ability to take that right away from you if I have to." 

He caught my meaning, and unfortunately, he called my bluff. 

He rose from the table at a Rib Crib on a Thursday night, cocked his fist, and hit me square in the jaw, knocking me out...

...I got up, my mind racing with possibilities. 

I walked over slowly, my body going cold, anticipating the man's movements, trying to ascertain how aggressive he might be, and how he was going to react. 

I was, to put it bluntly, scared to death. 

I approached the table and smiled. I looked at the man and said, "Sir, I apologize for interrupting, but the language you're using is absolutely terrible, and there are kids all around." 

And, in the most surprising twist of all, the man looked up at me with actual shame in his eyes. 

"Sir, I apologize for that. I'm very sorry." 

I smiled, thanked him, and walked out the door. 

It turns out, standing up to myself is a lot harder than standing up to others. Hopefully I remember that next time.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." - James Neil Hollingworth




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Riding In Trucks With Girls.


Sometimes an event happens that inspires a blog. Sometimes it's a collection of events, and you never know when inspiration will rise, kicking and clawing its way to the surface of your mind, demanding attention, wanting to be released. In that instance, you have choices. You can choose to stifle the inspiration, and eventually it will consume your thoughts, hindering your creativity, and rendering your writing useless. This blog has been a long time coming. 

***

It doesn't happen often, and certainly not often enough, and perhaps that is what makes it special. Maybe if it happened everyday I wouldn't appreciate it for what it was, just a dad and his daughter, riding somewhere together.

It's not about where we've left from, and it's not about where we're going. It's about all those moments in between.

***

Watching you get in. That's my favorite part. 

My truck sits high off the ground, and you have to almost jump to get in. I'm not always a perfect gentleman, I have to confess. I don't always open the door for you like I should, to teach you that when you're older, you have to fall in love with a boy who does that. I just like watching you as you clamber clumsily into the cab. You aren't very graceful, but I think one day you will be. 



You get buckled up, I get buckled up, and we take off. You're smiling. It never takes long, and the question always comes. 

"Dad, can you turn on the music?" 

I do. I always do. 

You always sing along. It doesn't matter if you know the words or not. You still sing. I will give you an example, using Taylor Swift's "Mine" as an example. 

You don't really know the words, not all of them, and so it sounds something like this: 

"You were in college hmm hmm ahhh haaa mmmhmmm,
Left a hmm mmm ahh haahmm ahhh."

But then the chorus comes, and suddenly, you're on a stage, you're in your element, and your voice rises with the power of the knowledge of the words. 

"DO YOU REMEMBER WE WERE SITTING THERE BY THE WATER!
YOU PUT YOUR ARM AROUND ME, FOR THE FIRST TIME!"

I have another confession, daughter. 

Sometimes I put on songs I know you'll sing to. 

My mind, in its ceaseless recollection of trivial information and recurring moments, flashes back to something very important in my life. 

I sat at home the night before making the drive to pick you and your brother up. I was trying to think of ways to introduce you to our great big family before you actually met them, and I decided to make a picture slideshow on my iPad for you both to watch. 

I placed pictures in order and captioned them, and then I set it all to the music of "Guinevere," by the Eli Young Band. 

On the way home from Watonga, you watched that video a hundred times. At some point, you figured out the words to the song, and you belted them out ceaselessly. Then you serenaded us with Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts," which was the only other song I had on the iPad. 

You were gorgeous. You were amazing. And you still are.

Listening to you sing, that's my favorite part. 

Inevitably, your interest in singing wanes, and you start talking to me. Sometimes the craziest things come out of your mouth. Last night, for example, you counted Christmas trees. Then you started spotting cars that looked like your mom's. 

Sometimes we talk about stuff as normal as how your day was, and then there are times such as the other night when you wanted me to explain to you what nihilism was. After telling you my best guess of a definition, you responded promptly. 

"Well, I believe in Jesus." 

I know you do, darling. And nothing makes me happier. 

You always ask for gum. For the last six months, I've kept a pack in my truck just for you and your brother. 

You smack your gum. Loud. 

Which brings us yet to another confession, dear daughter. If anyone else in my truck smacked their gum as loudly as you, I would pry open their jaws, rip the gum from their mouth, and toss it out the window. But you, you're different. I guess it's cute...for now. 

Talking to you, that's my favorite part. 

You want to hear something crazy? 

My truck has a sensor in the passenger seat that measures weight, and turns the airbag off automatically when someone doesn't weigh enough. A little light in the center of the console indicates when the sensor has been triggered and the airbag is off. 

When we first got you and your brother, that light was always on. 

"Passenger Airbag Off" 

Now? Now that little light flickers when you sit in the seat. Sometimes it's on, sometimes it's off. It's not broken. 

You're getting bigger. You see, that light is an indicator in more ways than one. You're older, bigger, smarter. 

But it also tells me something else. 

One day, you'll stop riding in my truck. Instead, you'll get a car of your own, and maybe you'll start riding in trucks with other boys. It is just as inevitable as you singing, and just as inevitable as all of our wonderful trips together have to come to end when we get to our destination. 

You unbuckle and slide out of the truck awkwardly, hanging on to the door handle for dear life. Your feet land on the ground, and your little blond head disappears into the house. 

Watching you get out, that's the worst part. 

To end this, I think I'll borrow another line from Miss Swift, one that happens to be in the same song as previously mentioned, and a line that I have definitely memorized. 

"You are the best thing, that's ever been mine." 


Monday, November 26, 2012

The Untitled Great White Hunter Project

I think it all starts with the first time my dad took me rabbit hunting.

He had gotten me a shotgun for my thirteenth birthday, an old Stevens Savage 12 gauge that I still have to this day. We wanted to get out and test it, and rabbit hunting seemed as good a test as any.

My dad was a paragon of gun safety. He made sure he drilled into my head all the proper procedures for safe and happy hunting, then we went out.

We walked about 25 feet apart so we would have a greater chance of scaring up rabbits. All of the sudden, one appeared in the distance, about thirty feet ahead, and in between us. My dad looked at me and said, "Shoot it son."

I drew a bead on the rabbit, who was frozen momentarily, deciding which way to run. As I looked down my shaking gun barrel at the supposed doomed creature, it suddenly decided which way it wanted to run: right at us.

Being an ambitious and aspiring new hunter, I did what I thought was the smart thing. I kept a bead on that rabbit as it came closer, closer, and eventually passed in between us, when I realized I was now pointing a loaded gun at my father.

He spoke quietly, patiently, but in volumes.

"Put the gun down."

***
My brother Brad has the hunting gene in our family. I read a lot and am generally considered the "book smart" one, Brad is the hunter/gatherer and has the best work ethic, Jordan is incessantly teased about being the milkman's son, and Josh is...well, Josh is now The Marine, but that's another blog. 

In the past few years, my want to go hunting again has increased slightly. I've been rabbit hunting with a few friends since then, and I haven't pointed a gun at anyone, and I think our Sunday School class (which is filled with hunter/gatherers), has kindled a long-dead interest. 

So this year I borrowed a bow and arrow from Brad, bought a license and archery tag, bought a deer blind (since I cannot climb trees due to my symmetry), and The Missus started calling me "The Great White Hunter." 

I did not shoot a deer with a bow and arrow. 

While I have a knack for hitting an archery target, I seem to have trouble actually getting the deer to come towards me, even though I stood really still and smiled a lot.

When rifle season opened, Brad and I talked about going together. So I bought yet another tag, and the date was set. 

On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up at five a.m., took a shower with scent-free soap, purposely neglected the brushing of my teeth, and drove 40 miles to a remote location in the woods with my younger brother, two guns, and a package of wafers that supposedly smelled like deer vagina. 

We set up the blind, loaded the guns, and Brad placed a deer vagina wafer delicately on a tree beside us. 

We waited. Then we Facebooked. Then we heard crows for two solid hours. Then he stuck a deer vagina wafer under my nose. Then he pulled out a deer "call" that sounded like one of those things you get as a prize at Chuckie Cheese. 

We did not, however, see a single deer. 

***
The morning after Thanksgiving, I decided to go hunting on my own terms. 

I woke up at 7:30 or so, got around slowly, and made it to the woods at 8:45. I loaded up my deer blind, my gun, my camera, and The Missus's Nook Tablet, and traipsed through the woods like the proverbial bull in a china shop. 

I found a spot near a deer feeder that was not mine. I thought, "you know what, I bet I can kill one here." I looked for a hunter, did not see one, and set everything up. 

The Lord, as you know, moves. After setting all of my stuff up, I realized I had forgotten my chair. 

I am fat. I need a chair. Sitting on the cold ground does not become either my buttocks or my spirits. 

So I walked back through the woods, got my chair, and started back through the woods to my blind. On the way, I realized that the spot I was set up in was probably not very ethical. I had not spent the money or the time feeding these deer, so I decided I should move. 

I got back to the blind, packed it up, and moved it to a new location, where I set everything up and got everything inside it yet again. 

And...yet again, I realized I had left something behind. 

My gun. 

The Great White Hunter strikes again. 

By the time I got everything set up and gathered in the blind, I was exhausted. I sat in a chair for 25 cold minutes, got up, gathered it all back up, and left. 

***
As I sat in my recliner that evening looking at the pictures on Facebook of all of my friends who had shot a deer, I realized something. I realized that in all honesty, I'm just not a hunter. But that didn't shake the want I had to keep trying. 

I looked at a certain picture of a very good friend of mine, and I commented on it to The Missus. She said, "I bet Zac took him, you should send Zac a text. I bet he'd take you just for the laughs." 

Sometimes my wife is a genius. 

So I sent the text message. 

***
The next morning I woke up at 4 a.m. I decided there was no way I was taking a shower/putting on deodorant/brushing my teeth. I drove to a convenience store where I was to meet Zac. 

The night before, he had told me he would supply everything. The gun, the blind, all of it...except one thing, a chair. I needed to bring a chair. 

"No problem," I said, because in fact I had the chair in the back of the truck already. 

So at 4:45 a.m. I gathered The Missus's Nook Tablet, the turkey hat she'd knitted me, a Red Bull, and the rest of my gear and got in Zac's truck. 

Approximately 15 minutes later I realized something. I'd left the chair. 

"No problem," Zac said. "I've got a bucket you can sit on." 

When we arrived at our hunting destination, I told Zac I had brought the Nook with me to read in case I got bored. He told me that was fine, but he was going to keep a lookout because you had to really pay attention to see the deer out there. Sufficiently shamed and feeling like a kid, I left the Nook behind and made up my mind to be the most attentive non-hunter in the world. 

So I sat there, on a bucket, in the cold, for two hours, looking. The sunrise was absolutely breathtaking, and even though the deer blind was nowhere to be found, we both blended in perfectly with the surrounding landscape. 

All of the sudden, I saw a flicker of white around 500 yards in front of me. I asked for the binoculars, and sure enough, there was a deer. 

I made some sort of herky-jerky slapping motion at Zac's arm, trying to ascertain the universal sign for OH MY GOD IT'S A DEER LOOK IT'S A DEER. 

Zac saw what I saw, and he told me to watch it until it got closer. "It'll come down the ridge," he said. 

"IT'S A DEER I WANT TO SHOOT IT NOW LET ME SHOOT IT," was my interior monologue. 

So we waited. And sure enough it got closer...according to him. You see, I had lost sight of it. He kept giving me reference points to its location, but I could not for the life of me see this deer. 

Then, finally, she marched back into my view, but unfortunately, still too far away. Right after that, she walked behind a group of trees, and left me shaking and amped on Red Bull and adrenaline, waiting for her to come out in a clearing where I could get a better shot. 

Zac leaned over to me and said, "Travis, she's walking that way, but she may all of the sudden pop up a lot closer, so you need to be ready." We got his rifle loaded up and got me into a shooting position, and I just did everything in my power to sit still. 

Afterwards, Zac told me, "Travis when I told you it could pop up closer and to be ready, you started breathing real heavy. It took all I had not to laugh." 

We waited. 

Then we waited again. 

Then...

I got a swat on the arm, signaling me to look right in front of me. And there she was 175 yards away, right in the spot Zac predicted she might pop up in. 

"Travis. Shoot her." 

"Travis. Shoot her now." 

"Travis. Just pull the trigger." 

"Travis. Just shoot at her. Now." 

For some reason, my gun wouldn't stay still. I'm not saying Zac intentionally gave me a gun with a bunch of loose parts and a scope that kept jiggling around on the target, and I guess it could have been that I was all jacked up on the afore mentioned Red Bull, but the scope wouldn't stop moving and all of the sudden I just decided to squeeze the trigger and before I knew it the gun had gone off and there was a lot of smoke and through that smoke I saw a deer jump once, twice, three times, and disappear. 

I had missed. 

I looked at Zac and said, "Man, I missed her." 

"Travis, I don't know. She acted hit. Did you see her actually run out of that thicket?" 

I hadn't, but it didn't matter, I knew I'd missed. The gun was simply shaking too much, it was the first time I'd ever shot at a deer, I knew I'd missed. I was sure excited though. I took out my phone and sent a message to The Missus, "I SHOT AT A DEER." 

Zac, firmly believing I had scored at least a hit, decided to go track it. He left me at the site of the shooting, to give him directions on where to walk. He got to the place where the deer had been, and all of the sudden he was waving me over. 

Could it be? 

I practically ran to where he was, and he said, "I see blood." 

I didn't stick around to see it. Instead, I walked to where I thought I hadn't seen the deer anymore, and as I walked over, I saw her, laying there, still. 

"Please, oh man, please be dead." 

She was dead. 

The Great White Hunter had finally won. After three days of trying, forgetfulness, and not brushing his teeth, he had won. 

I pulled my phone out and sent the following to The Missus. 

"I KILLED A DEER!" 
I got a short and sweet text message back. 

"TODAY YOU BECOME A MAN." 

I absolutely love this life of mine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Siri, Suri, Serri, or Sue Ray?

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was the first time my father ever corrected my grammar.

Me: "I'm going to take a bath, but I have to go get a wershrag first."
Dad: "Son, it's wash rag, not wershrag."
Me: "Yes sir."

As I've grown older in this wonderful state of mine, I have realized that I was not alone in the mispronunciation of the bath time cleaning cloth. In fact, day in and day out, I hear it called a "wershrag." I must admit that I sometimes revert to my natural ways and pronounce it in the way that surely has my father rolling over in his grave.

But it doesn't stop there.

You see, in Oklahoma, it seems as if we'll throw the "er" sound in just about everything. It doesn't matter what vowel or vowel cluster we substitute it for, if it can be done then we do it.

Take for instance, the state beer of Oklahoma.

State Question: "Are the mountains blue yet?" 
I personally detest the stuff, but there is no getting around it. If there is a party anywhere to be had, someone will ask you if you want one of these things. Only, they won't ask you if you want a Coors Light. They'll ask you for something you've never heard of...if you aren't from around here.

That apostrophe isn't a typo. It's an "assumed grammatical error." Normal stuff he're. 
Cerrs Light. The beer endorsed by the 1990's Chicago Bulls three-point legend Steve Kerr. You know, the white guy.

Kinmancare (previously known as "Kid Funk") heard me pronounce it like that one day, and he took time out of his day to correct me. 

KC: "Travis, that's retarded. You're retarded."
Me: "Well, I know it's not very good." 
KC: "No, I mean, how do you say door?"
Me: "Umm...derr?"
KC: "Very funny. You see my point?" 

And I did. I saw his point. And from that day on, I have pronounced the name of the beer properly. 

So thanks to two different people in my life, I now have a a finer grasp of the English language, as well as the ability to pronounce vowels like they should sound, instead of throwing "errs" all up in my syntax. 

I will now return the favor to all y'all fellow Okies out there. 

It has come to my attention that many of you have no idea how to pronounce the name of the leading lady of the smart phone industry. 

*Post Break*

Image source

I typed "Siri" into Google and brought up images. Then I thought, "You know what would be great? If I pretended that I thought Siri was this hot chick buried in the phone." So I googled "Hot Siri." The picture directly above is the first result. 

I'll understand if you need a minute.

*Post Resume*

I'm talking of course, about Siri, the remarkable, snarky, and slightly condescending personal assistant built into the iPhone 4s and 5. 

I have had countless friends and family members in the last few days pick up my phone and say:

"So does this have Serri on it?" 

"Dude, do you like Serri?" 

"I wish my phone had the Serri." 

"Serri! Tell me where the closest Hobby Lobby is!"*

The more I think about it, the more I realize this might be a teensy bit racist. 
I am at a breaking point. I must take a stand and let my voice ring out over the plains, mountains, and lakes of the great Sooner State and proclaim the message:

"IT'S SIRI, NOT SERRI, AND NOT SURI!"

That last one is Tom Cruise's daughter for cripe's sake! While I wouldn't put it past her having an iPhone, I certainly think there would have been a lawsuit had both Apple and Tom both named their babies "Suri."

We're one fatal intonation away from calling the poor woman "Sue Ray."  From there, it'll become "Suerae," and then "SoirĂ©e." The next thing you know, no one will know if you're planning on asking your iPhone a question or if you're going out for a nice cup of frozen fruit flavored water.

I'm absolutely certain that Google would have a legitimate lawsuit here. 
To settle this matter once and for all, I decided to go straight to the horse's mouth, as it were, and ask Siri herself the question of the day.

There you have it. The consummate answer.  
So, fellow Oklahomans - and more specifically members of my Sunday School class - I ask you to change your ways. Let us not soil the memory of Steve Jobs by mispronouncing the name of his favorite daughter. Join me in consistently practicing your individual vowel sounds as they were meant to be spoken. 

Together we can get through this. It is our duty as state in this blessed union called 'Merica. In fact, I'm almost positive I heard it mentioned in a "Red Dirt Ready" commercial. 

"I'm Morgan Freeman, and people have always loved the sound of my voice." 
Your move, Oklahoma. Don't let the terrorists win.
* This was said by my wife on Saturday. It really hit close to home that we aren't Red Dirt Ready.

Monday, September 24, 2012

To Aven.

As I've mentioned previously, one day our children will find this blog. Someone will tell them about it, they'll meander their way around the Internet, and voila, they'll have more information about their dad than they'll ever want.

Another aspect of that would be the fact that one day our children will have a Facebook account. And when they do, they'll want to look back at the story of their lives I've told with pictures and with status updates. Kids being kids, I'm sure they'll want to count how many times each have been mentioned or shown, and that's when our son will realize something...

Akeeli is a Facebook "Like" machine.

I've often joked that if I want to improve my Klout score, all I have to do is post something to do with our darling daughter, and the response is overwhelming...not to mention the impact on the above mentioned Klout score.

And so this blog goes out to you, son. One day you'll see it, and hopefully this will make up for all the Internet attention your sister got.

This is the adoption finalization. Crying, crying, smiling, and then Aven, the double thumbs up.


***

This all started on Saturday. 

I've been really busy with work and school, and what little time I've been able to spend with y'all has not been as precious to me as it should be. You changed that this weekend. 

I woke up early and headed out to cover a story for the paper. I didn't have time for breakfast, and rushed through the interviews and the article because I had an appointment at the Apple store for my computer battery. 

I didn't have time for lunch before we went, so as we walked into the store, I started feeling the first effects of having taken diabetes medication without food. I got a little cranky. You rushed up to me and asked if you could go play on the iPads in the kid's section. I said okay, and your sister went too. 

After a couple of minutes, I noticed a little girl standing beside your sister watching. I asked her to get up and share with you so the kid could have a turn. When she sat down next to you, she immediately started trying to touch the screen of "your" iPad, and you shoved her arm away a little too roughly. I told you that you were done, and you had to come over to the wall and put your nose in a corner. 

I know you don't remember this specific incident, but I'm sure you'll remember the discipline you've gone through growing up, and I'm sure, depending on how old you are, you think it's so terrible. You want to know a secret? I think it's terrible too. You and I share many qualities, remarkably so, given your lack of my genes, but the one thing we don't share is an ornery childhood. I was mostly calm and introverted, and you are the complete opposite. I grew out of my esoteric behavior. I truly hope you never grow out of your outgoing and carefree nature. 

We headed to CiCi's Pizza, and as we were getting out of the car you did something that upset me. Right now, less than 48 hours later, I can't even recall what it was. This tells me that it wasn't really "me" that was upset, it was "Hungry Dad," who is a monster. I'm still learning how to be a dad, son. I don't know it all, and I'm sorry for that. 

So I snapped at you. 

You replied with a "Yes sir," and we started walking to the restaurant. 

Without even thinking, you reached up and grabbed my hand. I know you had no idea what that could do to me, and I don't know that I can explain it. 

You weren't even mad that I had just gotten on to you. You knew that I wasn't going to let anything happen to you crossing the parking lot, and you just trusted me - and loved me - enough to get you into the restaurant. 

We ate, and I felt better. In fact, I felt so much better that I gave you and your sister each a dollar to go play games with. You went straight to a claw machine that promised you could "play till you won." You played twice, looked up at me, and said, "Dad, can you win me something?" 

Then you ran off. 

Son it took me 15 more tries to win you that candy. Your mom laughed at me. But I wouldn't quit. 

When we left the restaurant, we had to take your mom to Hobby Lobby. We were walking in, and you did something I thought was hilarious. You parked yourself under a tree that was half as tall as me, and sat there in the "shade." 

There's no shade except me. 
As we resumed our trip inside, you looked up at me and said, "Dad, your favorite superhero is Superman, right?"

I said, "Yes." 

You just nodded your head like you knew all along, and then we went on in. While we were in the store, you pointed at something and said, "Dad, it's your favorite color flower!" 

I looked where you were pointing, and I saw a gigantic orange flower on display. 

I've been saying for a year now that you don't listen. Apparently I have been terribly, terribly wrong. 

I smiled and said, "Yes it is," and we went out to "cool off the car" while your mom and sister checked out. 

Later that evening you wanted to go with me to a basketball game. You have no idea how badly I wanted to take you, but since I was the referee, I couldn't keep an eye on you...and since you wouldn't sit still for longer than 30 seconds, that's kind of important. So, you didn't get to go. 

When I got home later that night, I was standing in the kitchen and you walked in. 

"Dad, I got your favorite color juice tonight!" you exclaimed as you held up a bottle that once held an orange sugary beverage that was not at all similar to juice. 

You know my favorite superhero is Superman. 

You know my favorite color. 

You even know my favorite basketball team. 

You made this for me at school.
I think you like Spiderman a little better than Superman, and I think you're partial to pink instead of orange.

And let me tell you a little secret. 

I LOVED the color pink until about the sixth grade. 

God, in His infinite wisdom and screwy sense of humor, put you and I together for a reason. Then, knowing we'd need women in our lives to keep us from killing each other, He went ahead and gave us your mom and sister too. 

One day I'm going to figure this "dad" thing out. 

I've got you eating like me already...

Your first corn eating contest. I'm absolutely certain you won, but they gave first to some little girl. 
It's not always sunshine and pleasant thoughts. You are stubborn, prone to violent outbursts towards your schoolmates, a bit of a liar (albeit a terrible one), and did I mention that you're stubborn?

However, every phone call we get, every bad report from a Sunday School teacher, and every talk from anyone telling us you're in trouble all ends the same way. 

"He has a heart of gold. He is so thoughtful and sweet...when he wants to be." 

We still have work to do. About a year ago, after one of your fits, your mother and I looked at each other and cried, each wondering if we could ever straighten you out. I looked at her and said, "If God didn't want this to happen, it wouldn't have happened. It's going to be okay."

Guess what. It's all okay. In fact, after this weekend, it's better than okay. It's amazing.  

In honor of this post, I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one below. This is one of the happiest moments of our time together for me. We told everyone that you caught this fish. In reality, your mom set the hook and reeled it in while you ran to tell me about the fish you were "catching." 

She gave you all the credit. That's how your mom is. That's why we love her. 

You were ecstatic. You ran. You yelled. I barely got you to stand still for the picture. 

That's how you are. 

That's why we love you. 

Your biggest fish to date. 

P.S. If you count the "likes" you got for this picture the first time I posted it, AND the "likes" it's gotten since I made it my profile picture, the total comes in at a whopping 90. That's not bad...

...but it's not even half the "likes" your sister got on the picture of me baptizing her. 

But don't worry. It's not like it's a contest. 

P.P.S. If your sister is still getting "Internet attention" when you read this, let me know. I'll shut whatever she has down and give you $100. That's a promise. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Financial Peace.

Financial peace.

Those two words have never been used to describe me, ever. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they have never been used to describe anyone who knows me, simply because I have that effect on people.

"Hey, is that Travis?"
"Yep."
"You know, I want to go buy a boat. You want to get a boat?"
"I have never wanted to get a boat so badly."

That's a perfectly normal conversation when I'm around.

I hate to "blame" things on my upbringing. I like to think my parents did a perfectly fine job of raising me and my brothers, and they did it cheap, too. My dad worked, my mom stayed at home, and we went without a lot of extras that others had. One of my favorite examples of this is the basketball shoes I had to get when I was younger.

Nikes, Adidas, Reeboks, Jordans, those were all out of the picture. We didn't go to places like that to get my basketball shoes. We went to Walmart. My selection consisted of Voits. Voit made the only basketball shoe for Walmart at that time. The design was simple, and it really only had one functional flaw.

The bottom of the shoe was made out of KY Jelly.

They actually sell them with "warming" soles now I think. 
I think I've told y'all this before, but I could start running, hit full tilt at half court, stop running at the top of the key, and slide into my position at the post. I seriously had it down to an art form. I'd do a little pirouette turn at the end, and then the defender would shove me around because I couldn't get any traction.

We didn't go without anything that we needed, and I'm truly not bitter about not having a lot of extra money, but I do think it contributed to some issues that I have currently. For instance, take a look at the budget I would have developed for today had I not given control of the checkbook over to The Missus.

Don't judge me.
As you can see, I may have a problem with my priorities. So when The Missus came to me and said, "I'd like to sign us up for the Financial Peace class at church, I said, "Eh, why not?"

What she didn't bother to tell me was who the author of the book and series was. 

Let me tell you about the first time I was introduced to anything about Dave Ramsey. I was driving down the road listening to what I call "Preachin' Radio," and I tuned in about halfway through a broadcast. I still have no idea what show was playing, but all I heard was a man furiously berating a woman for wanting to file bankruptcy. 

"WHY SHOULD YOU JUST BE ABLE TO NOT PAY EVERYONE? WHY? WHY? YOU THINK YOU SHOULD JUST BE ABLE TO GET STUFF AND NOT PAY FOR IT? HOW IS THAT RIGHT?" 

I really wanted to add to that, but I didn't, because now I can say that everything I just said there, I actually heard. 

Then the lady, scared to death, barely spoke into the phone, saying, "But I think it's the only way?" 

What followed was another furious tirade of how wrong it was, and why should she get to do that, and she needed to get her budget right, etc. 

Needless to say, he failed to make a good first impression on me. 



Well, The Missus waited until about 5:29 on Sunday evening to let me know who was the creator of the course. By then, I was committed. So I went to the class, parked my rear end in a seat, and prepared to be pretty much angry the entire time. 

I feel like I should mention here that the harshness of Ramsey's presentations were softened by the fact our pastor's wife is facilitating the class, and that helps out a lot. 

I'm not going to lie, Dave made some pretty cogent points during the video. He also tried to be funny, and sometimes he actually pulled it off. At one point, he said the words, "If you don't agree with me on that, then you're wrong." I briefly considered punching the TV, but it looked as though someone had already done that, and also I didn't want to embarrass my wife. 

Then came the words that got me more riled up than...well, Dave. 

"If you're planning on making any big purchases, put them off until you've completed the class." 

Wait. Wait. What? 
I have a few purchases I'm planning on making in the next few weeks. As in two. Two weeks. And now, here's this guy, telling me not to make them for another nine weeks, which is the length of the class. And if it was just me in there, it wouldn't be a problem, but he spoke those words while my wife was listening.

You see, I'm a "in one ear and out the other" guy. Always have been, always will be. Think back to the last time we talked. That's right, you and me. What was our conversation about? Chances are, you might remember. I don't. I forgot the moment you walked away. Don't judge me. I have kids. 

So now I have to spend the next week on total "convince The Missus to let me have money" mode. It's not a good mode for me to be in, mostly because it involves her essentially having a third kid, which means that she'll yell at me more. 

All in all, if I give the man a fair shake, I'm sure he'll "turn my life around." I'll pay off all of my debt, start saving with reckless abandon, and soon be a millionaire so I can die in my fifties and let our children fritter away all my self-denial and hard work. But I still plan on hating Dave when I achieve my financial peace, because hey, no one said anything about being at peace with him. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

(Road) Rage Against the Grandparents.

My grandparents are the best.

My grandpa, herein known as "Papaw," is the storyteller that started it all. I've given serious thought to dedicating a portion of my blog just for some of the stories he has told us grandkids. One of them may or may not involve dancing naked with a polar bear, and my grandma backs that story up. If you've ever wondered where I got my storytelling "ability," it's him, hands down. He doesn't like anything but plain potato chips, he's smoked for the last 60 years with nary an ill effect, and to my knowledge, he's never hugged me. I have a feeling that when I came out of the womb, he shook my hand. He's that kind of guy.

My grandma, from this point on referred to as "Memaw," is a saint. Seriously, she should be canonized and given her own title like, "St. Donna of the Infinitely Patient," or something like that. She also cooks the best turkey "dressin'," that you'll ever have, and her red-eye gravy is the kind of thing that if you set some on your head, your tongue would beat your brains out trying to get to it. She's had a cuckoo clock ever since I can remember, I have never seen her mad, and she gives me all of the hugs that Papaw seems to have misplaced.

My grandparents, with my awesome aunt in the middle.*
You might be saying, "Travis, that's cool and everything, but why are you telling us this?" Others are probably saying, "With all of these somber blogs, he's probably going to tell us that one of them died, and I'm going to cry, and I'm sick of redoing my make up after reading his blog."

Spoiler alert: neither of them have died.

I'm prefacing the actual story with all of this for two reasons.

1. You need to know that I love my grandparents, and we've never had an ill word betwixt us.

and

2. The actual story is pretty short, so I need filler.

As you may very well know, I have little tolerance for any kind of driver on the road. I don't care who you are, I think you are a terrible driver. In fact, I'm 100% positive that there were two good drivers in the world up until February 2001, then there was just me.

May he rest in peace. 
I have my own set of rules when I am driving. One of them is something I call a "buffer zone," which is the amount of space between myself and the car in front of me. I don't particularly care if you are tailgating me, although if you do, I will slow down gradually until I come to a complete stop if you can't manage to pass me first. What I care about is the space in front, because I really don't want to be responsible for an accident.

In fact, the only time I violate this rule is when traffic has been throttled from two lanes into one, and you've had ten miles worth of warning, and at the last second before the lane blocker you decide you want to squeeze in between me and the car in front of me. 

No sir. 

I will get so close to the car in front of me I'm practically in their backseat, and I will remain that way until you've reached a point of indignation rivaling that of the NASCAR fans that have already left this page because of that picture up there. You knew about this lane closing ten miles ago, and now you want me to be a good samaritan? 

Nooooooo sir. 

Some of you may need to know what my "buffer zone" actually looks like, and I've taken the liberty of illustrating that. 

This is accurate to about five or six inches. 
So after seeing all of this, you can see how one thing that really upsets me would be someone cutting me off in traffic. I feel like people constantly take advantage of my somewhat liberal buffer zone to zip in between myself and the car ahead to gain a significant speed advantage. This is frustrating to me because I feel like everyone should observe the rules of the buffer zone. In fact, I'm almost positive it's in the Oklahoma Driver's manual. They get into stuff like "car lengths," and "awareness," but I just think all they really need is my illustration.

The scene is as follows. 

I am driving to school in Tahlequah. There is a road in Tahlequah named Willis Road, and it has been under construction for the last 675 years. 

Turns out, he was talking about construction.
The lights at that intersection have been switched to timers instead of being activated by cars, so it doesn't matter that no traffic is waiting for a light, they change anyway, which has wreaked absolute havoc on both my morning commute and my relationship with God.

About a week ago, I was driving through that intersection and singing along with Taylor Swift, and I was generally happy about life. 

All of the sudden, a brown Cadillac slips into my buffer zone. I'm still up in the air or not about whether they signaled. I don't think they did, but one of the advantages of keeping a buffer zone like mine is that it enables you to occasionally get lost in a song or a witty Facebook status update and just zone out for a second. 

So when this brown Caddy cut me off, I detected a disturbance in the zone. 

In response, I pulled right up on their bumper and yelled the words, 

"If you're going to cut people off, learn to drive, old man!"

Feeling vindicated, I backed off, but continued to eyeball them just for good measure. As I was eyeballing, I started noticing some of the finer details of the people inside the car. 

First, I noticed the straw hat on the driver, and how familiar it looked to me. Then I noticed that the passenger had really short hair, tinged with gray, and the head shape looked kind of similar to someone I know. Then I saw in the backseat the brown curly hair just peaking up over the headrest, as if the person there was younger...or older. 

Then my Memaw turned around and addressed the person in the backseat. 

Turns out, I had just road raged at my dear, sweet, angelic grandparents. Also in the car? My great grandmother. 

I felt bad, y'all. 
Deciding to own up to what I'd done, and figuring they possibly knew who it was anyway, I called Memaw to confess my sins and beg her forgiveness, which I knew she pretty much had to do, because hey, I'm her grandson.

When she answered the phone, I jokingly said, "Hey, didn't anyone ever tell Papaw not to cut people off?" 

"Travis! Was that you?" 

"It was." 

"Here it comes," I thought. "Here comes my apology, and the forgiveness, and the love." 

"Well, your Papaw saw you ride up, and he said, 'Go ahead and hit me in the @ss, I'll sue for whiplash!'"

How I looked. 
I was speechless. I asked if he saw the big Superman license plate I have on the front of my truck and she said no, and I asked if he needed glasses, and she said,

"Well, he has some coming in the mail." 

I love my grandparents. 

Even if sometimes we hate each other's driving. 

*Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that one of my aunts is cooler than the other.