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 "Soirée." 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. 



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Walk: Part Three

"There are lots of walks that people make in their lifetime. Some are important, some are not. Some of those walks are tougher than others, and some seem like they take forever, because you know you can't wait to have what's at the end. Some are painful, some are joyous. Some are profitable, some will end with you losing everything."

September 8, 2000. The day I lost a piece of myself, a piece of my identity. 

This past Saturday marked twelve years since my father looked me in the eyes for what seemed like an eternity, then closed his eyes and died. Those of you who need more detail than that can find it anywhere on this blog; my posts are littered with tributes and stories of dad. 

We've had our kids now for over a year. They've heard stories of Brian Sloat, their Papa, the entire time we've had them. As I stated in a blog a few weeks ago, to them, since he is not tangible, he is not a real person. He's a myth, a fable, one of the hundreds they've had told to them since they could understand words. Brian Sloat might as well be Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn, or the Cat in the Hat. 

The question of taking them to see him, his grave, and exposing them to so much of my pain, has weighed heavy on my mind for the last year. I've often wondered if they could handle it, if they could understand what they were seeing, and if not, understand when I explained it to them. 

This, in a sense, was giving them all of me. In some selfish part of my mind, I didn't want to do that. To me, it represented the final barrier between them and myself, the last wall in our relationship, and I struggled mightily with knocking it down. 

Saturday morning, I covered a story for the paper. It was a 9/11 Remembrance Walk in Muskogee. In his speech, a man named Oscar Ray said the words, "I'm pretty sure that when the families of the victims remember their loved ones, they smile." 

He was addressing a crowd of people about 9/11, but all I could think about was dad. I climbed in my truck, cried, and tried to compose myself, but then I got the standard issue text from my mother on this date. 


"I love you." 

In that moment, I made a decision. I decided that I was going to take the kids to see dad.

***

The cemetery hasn't been mowed in a while. The grass stands up taller than I've ever seen it, and Alicia commented on it as we drove in. I killed the car, and waited just a moment to compose myself for what I knew was going to be one of the harder walks I'll take with our family. 

We got out of the car and Aven looked around, saw a crabapple lying on the ground and said, "Those are cow apples, right dad?" 

Our son. The little boy who takes nothing seriously...just like me. His mind was a million miles away from what was taking place, and I envied him. His innocence, once destroyed, is now slowing coming back. He no longer has to worry about mom and dad, and because of that I think he is truly carefree. 

Aven walked on my left, and Keeli walked on my right, and Alicia walked behind, selflessly giving me this moment with our children. Slowly, we stepped through the tall grass and around the usual tombstones, some standing, others flat in the ground. 

It was The Walk. 

There was no arguing with God this time. There wasn't space in my head for it. All I could think about was my obligation to try and make sense of this for our children, to help them understand what they were seeing. 

I thought about Aven tripping over a tombstone and how awful that would be, and I thought about Akeeli crying, because she always cries when she sees me cry. 

Our daughter, ever the empathetic one. The one who provides comfort in company, the one who wants to make sure you know that your sadness is hers too. She is beautiful. She is radiant. She is too smart for her own good, and I worry ceaselessly about the day when boys come knocking on our door. 

The Walk was a short one, because our children distracted me. It was a good thing. 

We arrived at the headstone, and looked at the name Sloat engraved on it. The tears came. 

Through choked words and ill-timed snorts, I explained to our children that my father, the greatest man I've ever known, was not there. His body was there, but he was in heaven, enjoying the company of his brothers, and now his mom. I explained that we would see him one day, and that I really wished they could have met him.

Then the words came:

"I hope I'm half the dad he was."

Keeli cried, because Keeli cries.  Aven asked why we didn't bring flowers, because Aven can't focus on one thing more than ten seconds. Alicia took a few pictures, because I had asked her to. I know I didn't want them then, but one day I will.

I asked them all to leave me alone for just a few minutes, and they did. I stood there, shaking, hot tears sliding down my face, but I didn't fight God. I didn't tell him how unfair it was. In fact, I didn't address God at all. I talked to dad.

I know he can't hear me. I know that my sadness isn't something he can feel or hear or see. If he could, it wouldn't be a happy moment for him, and Heaven is a place of eternal happiness. I'm okay with that, and I talked to him anyway.

As I talked, the wind rushed through the cemetery and whistled through the trees. While most would attribute that to something supernatural and impossible, I was reminded of a King of the Hill episode where Kahn's grandmother said she believed her deceased husband was reincarnated as the wind that blew through the meadow at that very moment. Bill Dauterive looked her in the eye and said, "My god, that's the most beautiful description of a haunted meadow I've ever heard."

I blinked through the tears, smiled, laughed, and walked back to the car. It amazes me how God put our family together.

September will always be a terrible month, and I'll always be glad when it's over.

But now, instead of September 8 holding pain and nothing else, I can remember it as the day when our kids met my dad.




Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Torch Has Been Passed and Lit. Hard.

I suppose I should start by telling you that I am a pretty decent liar.

That's not really something I'm proud of, nor is it a gift I try to put into use very often, particularly at this stage in my life.

But I just want to say that at one point, I could have told you that the sky was green and the grass was blue, and you'd have not only believed me, but also would have bought some ocean front property in Oklahoma from me as well.

It is the largest body of water in Oklahoma.
When I was a child, my mother would often say things to me like, "Travis, one day you're going to have a kid just like you, and I'm going to laugh." I spent most of my time laughing at her, and saying things like, "I'm never having kids."

Well, water flows under the bridge, time marches on, thoughts and feelings change, and eventually you come to a point in your life when you discover the sex. And when you discover the sex, even if it is at the ripe old age of nineteen, you discover that at almost any given point in time, a woman can decide to make a man start trying to have a kid.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this is what The Missus did. To level such charges at her would be disrespectful, and make her out to be manipulative and conniving, which are two things she isn't. She is both kind and loving, and all I remember is her saying, "We should have a kid," and I was undressed and in the bedroom, under the assumption that we were going to start immediately.

Of course you know the story from there, how we tried (HEYO) for many years before eventually coming to the understanding that we were going to require expensive medical treatment in order for child-rearing to become a reality for us.

Lacking the required funds for that, we turned instead to adoption, and sort of placed the whole thing in God's hands.

In the words of Seinfeld, yada, yada, yada, we have two kids.

That brings us up to present day. And by that I mean earlier this morning, as I am typing this on Wednesday evening.

I got a text message from The Missus at about ten this morning saying, "Call me, I got a phone call from the school."

Since it's three weeks into the year and our son has already punched a kid and pushed a bookshelf over on two others, you might be able to see how I expected the worse. In fact, I'm fairly certain I took the Lord's name in vain (I have since asked forgiveness on the matter).

Sighing heavily, I scrolled through my phone, highlighted The Missus, and punched "Call."

TM: Hello.
Me: What now?
TM: The cafeteria called.

I immediately understood what was going to be said next. She was going to tell me that the kids were eating breakfast at school after they'd already eaten at home, which was a problem we dealt with all last year. We'd give them oatmeal or cereal or something for breakfast, and then they'd walk into the cafeteria, and since food was available, they'd eat it. It almost drove us into the poorhouse.

However, that wasn't the issue at hand.

Some of you might be familiar with Lady Obama's new school lunch program initiative. I know just enough about it to see that the price of a school lunch costs moderately less than a trip to the local "classy" steakhouse, and that the kids aren't even getting a decent meal when that happens.

Image source
As a result of this, The Missus has been packing the kids' lunches for them. She's been giving them sammiches and chips and other kid lunch stuff that I know nothing about because with my work and school schedule, I've been reduced to the role of step-father, seeing them on the weekends.

Stay with me now, we're coming into the home stretch. 

Apparently, our dear, sweet, and innocent children have been walking into the cafeteria in the morning, walking through the breakfast line, opening their lunch boxes, and telling the cafeteria worker that they have been given express permission to eat any "snacky" type foods The Missus has packed them to, and I quote, "hold them over until lunch." 

When asked if they were getting fed at home, both children immediately responded with a yes, but that they were supposed to eat their fruit snacks, pudding cups, etc., as sort of an after breakfast snack. 

How I imagine the cafeteria worker looked at their "explanation." 
Here's my concern. This was obviously Keeli's idea, because the lady at the school said "Keeli has been doing all the talking." But at this point I have to worry about three things.

1. Our daughter is sneaky, manipulative, and brilliant in an "I don't have much experience but I work well with what I've got" way. 
2. Our son is dumb enough to go along with that sort of thing. 
3. Both of them think that everyone they meet is severely retarded and cannot begin to comprehend their sneakiness.

"Don't hate the player, dad. Hate the game. Why is your eye twitching?"
So here we are.

We have two children that are exactly like me. Brilliant liars with incredibly adorable faces and a heart-wrenching life story to go along with it. 

The Missus is "handling" the situation, and from what I gather, that entails her telling the cafeteria worker to call them out on it tomorrow. Just sort of surprising them with the fact that everyone they know isn't a complete idiot. I don't have much of an imagination, but I like to think it'll look something like this:

Score one for the dumb adults, eh? 
Somewhere my mother isn't reading this, but she's laughing. And one day, God willing, I'll be laughing at Aven and Akeeli as they post blogs about their kids handle their own problems in a completely normal way.