Monthly Archives: September 2013


Dear Liv,

It seems like yesterday I was rocking you in the middle of the night, playing Madden 64.

You were a tough sleeper – you hated it.  So I’d sit downstairs with you, all night, every night.  I’d rock you.  I’d lay you on a pallet on the floor.  I cranked that stupid hand-me-down swing so many times that it finally gave out, at 5:30 one Thanksgiving morning.  I loaded you up and headed off to the K-mart for an emergency replacement.

I remember taking you to your first doctor’s appointment.  Me and you.  I was a terrified 23 year old dad, with no concept of well rooms and co-payments.  I remember cradling you in my arms after you shrieked because that crazy nurse tried to weigh you.  I couldn’t believe it either.

I remember you playing in the bathtub with Coleman, when neither of you were big enough to get out.

I remember working day and night building you a swingset, doing everything I could to make it by Christmas morning, and barely squeaking it in under the wire.

I remember dance recitals, and basketball games.  Soccer matches and hunting trips.  I remember you catching your first redfish, off a dock at Little Gasparilla – you were wearing pajamas with pumpkins on them, and you were barely big enough to hold the pole and reel at the same time.

I remember you cussing at the tv over a Halo match when you were 3.  I remember every Saturday, every single one . . . I’d get up at the crack of dawn with you, and I’d lay on the couch, and you’d sit on my back and we’d watch cartoons.

I remember trips to Andy’s, and school field trips.  Taking you to Space Camp.  Having to get you to school early for “Good Morning Lake Shipp.”  Did I ever tell you how much I love taking you to school?  I wrote a blog post about it one time, remembering when I’d sing the Longhorn Song for you . . .

I remember our Harry Potter trip (if you’ve never read this post, you really should – I wrote it about you and Harry Potter years ago).  One of my proudest days as a dad, from the sense of being able to do something for my daughter that I knew she wanted.  I remember every fish you’ve ever caught, almost always followed by the question . . . “can we keep it?”

I remember boat rides, and birthday parties, and trick-or-treating and church . . . bunk beds and room makeovers . . . school dances and radio sing-a-longs . . . Horse drawn carriage rides to look at Christmas lights . . . running around DC with your $2 flip-flops . . . shrimp boils and peanut boils and frying more chicken than should be allowed, just to see your face light up . . . making you clean your room and do yard work and wash cars and load the dishwasher and say “yes ma’am” . . . teaching you to swim, and feigning disapproval at your bathing suit choices . . . taking you for a ride in a convertible . . . sleeping on the floor in the living room so you could have my bed . . . coaching you on Fantasy Football, only to have you leave me high and dry as the season progressed . . . eating oysters and sushi . . .

It’s all happened in about 15 minutes.  I blinked and you were grown.  No longer a little girl.  A young lady.  A young woman.

And now Dad gets to become more of a spectator, albeit one screaming and cheering and holding up signs from the sidelines . . . hooting and hollering and wishing and praying for my girl . . .

I remember looking down into that clear little bassinet thing they have you in at the hospital.  I remember loving you so much that it physically hurt, and wondering how that could be, since you were only a few minutes old.  And I remember you wrapping your little fingers around my big finger, and I knew I was yours, and you were mine . . .

Happy Birthday Liv . . .



Fire Crackers

Gilly:  I have been sick for over a month with a stupid cough that will NOT go away. Antibiotics be darned, my body is resistant to everything and I may be solely responsible for whatever super-bug comes next. 

That’s not really where this story starts, but we will circle back to the cough. 

A few months back, our living room TV (the largest TV in our home by far) just stopped working. The screen went black. The audio worked well, but the picture just disappeared. This meant no Wii games, no family Duck Dynasty viewings, no NCIS, no baseball games. This was officially A Problem.

So we weighed our options, decided we could not live without a TV for even 1 day (yuppies?), and drove to Sams Club to buy a new Vizio. A few days later, Travis took the old TV to a repair shop to see what they could do. I had googled around on our problem and all indicators pointed to a fried motherboard, which would cost almost as much to replace as a new TV, so we did not have very high hopes. 

Travis:  Can we just note for a sec that it was not ME who was freaked out over the TV situation?  Picture this – a TV goes out.  A little googling showed the fix would likely be expensive . . . and who but the lovely Mrs. comes forward to suggest spending $700 on a new TV – who am I to argue?

But we were wrong.

The TV repair guy couldn’t find anything wrong (!). He replaced something on the system board, but the whole cost was only $40. The TV was working again. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe we got lucky. Either way you slice it, we now owned two giant TV’s, for our not-so-giant home. Travis looked at me with his big blue eyes: “Can we put one of them in our bedroom so I can watch sports and see the numbers?” Suuuuure, babe.

Can we pause here and note how, basically, I’m blind?  Like, legally.  So yeah, I couldn’t see the score on the 14″ Coby Black-Friday special from 1998.  So sue me!

Of course, our bedroom was not configured for a giant TV, so we decided to re-arrange everything (also Travis’ idea). We pulled all of the furniture out of our room and then put it all back in, just for this TV. I will not detail the pounds and pounds of dog hair we uncovered during this exercise. 

What’s not mentioned here is how awesome our room is now . . . Like, this may be the first time one of us comments on the other person’s editorial.  Because our room looks UH-mazing!  It looks huge!  The capeze (sp?) shell light fixture looks amazing.  There’s room everywhere.  Our bed is even bigger.  It’s crizzazlebeans.

So for about 2 weeks, we had this glorious, new, giant TV in our room, and the old TV was back in the living room where it belonged. All was right with the Wii the world. Until this one morning. 

I have been sick for over a month with a stupid cough that will NOT go away. So, in the spirit of letting my husband sleep without my rattling cough waking him up, I snuck out early one morning to get some coffee and watch the news in the living room. This is my routine: coffee, iPhone (to hit up news/blogs), and Bay News 9 for weather. So I got my medicine, my coffee, my phone, my Coleman, my blankie, and the remote, and I snuggled myself onto the couch to start my day. Coughing all the while. I get snuggled in and turn on Bay News 9, and about half way through the weather forecast, BOOM. 

Black, Pop, Sparks, Smoke. Boom.

I sat there in a half-asleep stupor. Did that just happen? I wasn’t sure. What I was sure about, was that I needed my husband’s assistance at this point. So I woke him up: “Travis. TRAVIS. The TV blew up. Can you come unplug it?” He did, ever so helpfully, come unplug the busted TV. 

Never good to be awakened by my whole name – normally it’d be “hey Baby” or “Trav” or “Pedro” but in this instance it was an imperative “Travis – wake up.”

So, since the TV blow up incident (it’s been retired officially, and the “new” TV is back in the living room), I’ve been heckled constantly by my family. 

Liv: “Gilly, I think maybe your cough is getting worse because you keep setting appliances on fire and inhaling the smoke.”
Will: “Gilly, don’t get near my Wii I don’t want you to set it on fire.”
Will: “Gilly, be careful with your iPhone you might set it on fire.”
Will: “Gilly, don’t get near the laptop, you might set it on fire.”

If you can’t tell, Will is getting the most mileage out of this so far. 

Liv is funny.  I am funny.  Will might be the funniest.

And now, my entire bedroom is rearranged and there is a giant TV sized area that is empty. I am filling that hole with dirty laundry. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to carefully start the washing machine, and hope that I don’t set it on fire. 


Things I think . . .

  • I think it may never stop raining.  And I’m okay with that.  There’s just something kinda refreshing about it raining this time of year, when it’s usually still stiflingly hot; instead it’s borderline cool.
  • I think I’m loving my evening walks with my bride and the pups.  It’s hard to beat the mid-70’s, a breeze, a pretty girl, and being outside
  • I think Olivia turns 14 on Sunday, and I’m ill-prepared for that situation.  There are boys.  There are hormones.  There are illogical arguments.  But there are also Sunday afternoons where she wants nothing more than to watch football for hours on end with her dad.  And there are great grades, and even better decisions, and maybe I’m not as ill-prepared as I’d thought.
  • Has social media made it fashionable to not be okay with good grammar (can that even be a sentence?) . . . You and u . . . idk vs. I don’t know . . . Your and you’re . . . it’s the lightning rod of facebook (that and Obamacare, but I digress) . . . it’s not okay to point out that someone used “your” instead of “you’re” without getting jumped on as being the grammar police.  Which makes, I think, all those jumper-oners the non-grammar police?  I can’t remember the deal I had with Olivia, but I think it was something like she had to pay me a nickel for every “abbreviated” or misspelled word in a text message when she first got her phone.  For some reason this clicked with her, and she’s pretty careful about it . . . have we really come so far as a society that “u” has to be used instead of “you?”  You’re texting someone, connecting with them through the internets and fiber optics and the magic of wifi and LTE – you’re pushing the limits of convenience – can we maybe draw the line at abbreviations and encouraging bad grammar
  • We went to Star Wars Day at a Rays game this past weekend . . . you guys, it was EPIC . . . first off, the Rays know how to throw down with some Star Wars characters – Darth and R2 and C3PO and the most realistic looking Chewbacca I’ve ever seen.  We even got Jedi Zo (Ben Zobrist) bobbleheads (can I just say I wish they’d name him “Jedi Obi-Wan Benzobie” – tell me that wouldn’t have been better than “Jedi Zo” – you need me, Rays marketing team).  Only thing I wish they’d done would’ve been to project the death star onto the roof of the Trop.  Maybe they did.  We did miss the first three innings.  Either way, great day with my family, making memories . . .
    Will with Chewy.  And maybe that other X-wing Pilot - maybe it's Wedge

    Will with Chewy. And maybe that other X-wing Pilot – maybe it’s Wedge

    Liv as Fernando Rodney

    Liv as Fernando Rodney

    Will cheering for a guy named Wil (he didn't do anything, just the fact that he's named Wil)

    Will cheering for a guy named Wil (he didn’t do anything, just the fact that he’s named Wil)

    Will cheering for Desmond Jennings' 3-run homer

    Will cheering for Desmond Jennings’ 3-run homer




A Cracker Culture

Travis:  Do you have a family culture?

I think most parents have goals they want for their kids – go to college, become functioning members of society, help others, work hard, and so forth.  And I think most parents have a hope that they are providing the type of environment that will lead to these results.  But I don’t know that most parents are being uber-intentional about creating an equation that will equal those results.

Gilly: I think everyone struggles with this; you know the answer to the problem, right, but not the x-factor. It’s like, Healthy Happy Kid= x + y, but the variables are different with every child. Maybe x = spanking. Maybe y = lectures.

With that in mind, I called to order a family meeting the other night.  Now that Liv is 13, and Will is 7, I’ve started having more and more internal conversations about who they are, how they’re shaped, and who they’re going to be.  I decided that we needed to put some skin onto the bones of our “undefined” family culture, and that they needed to help define it. Which was kind of hard for them, and led to a slew of questions such as: What does independent mean? What is leadership? What is courage? Try defining these things for a 7 year old sometime. It’s a blast.

So I set up a whiteboard, turned off the TV, and asked them this question:  “What do you want our family to be about?”

These were the results:

  • Open Communication
  • Patience
  • Respectful
  • Have Fun
  • Leadership
  • Independent
  • Be Sweet
  • Remember Where You Came From
  • Trust Each Other
  • Courage
  • Hardworking
  • Faith
  • Responsible
  • Wisdom

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be unpacking those as a group and letting you guys know how we’re doing . . .


Things I think . . .

  • I think that we are on an unprecedented naming streak for our Fantasy Football teams – Charles in Charge (I have Jamaal), Jamaal up in your Face, You got Jamaalished, Marshawn of the Dead, and Keep Calm and Marshawn . . . can’t get much better than that, people
  • Burn Notice is donezo . . . can I just pause for a second and say how much hatred is spewed around my house when Burn Notice is mentioned?  Like, fire and brimstone and death and damnation about this show . . . I’ve watched Burn Notice before, enough to know who the characters are – it’s kitschy – but the rest of the team doesn’t seem to have any patience for it at all . . .
  • Spotify is changing our lives.  I recently made the executive decision to upgrade to the paid Spotify for $9.99 a month.  My logic is, if you buy more than 12 albums a year, it’s a good move.  Well it’s a GREAT MOVE, because we’re rediscovering music we haven’t heard in years as well as some awesome new stuff – Merle Haggard, George Jones, fun., Frank Foster, Wayne Watson, Newsboys . . . (note: that’s the first time in recorded history that list has been typed)
  • We recently got a new puppy . . . Finley (although, we typically call him Fenrir, after the death eater in Harry Potter, to whom he is evidently descended) . . . we’ll be recapping the trip to get him as well as how we arrived at that name, soonish!

Cheese! and Crackers . . .


This is one of my favorite pictures . . . of anything ever. That’s Liv with a keeper redfish she caught on a recent fishing trip.

Redfish are one of our favorite fish. They taste great, they fight like a bull, and they’re just challenging enough to make them difficult quarry. Except for LIv. Some days, I swear, you could be sitting in a Walmart parking lot in a heavy rainstorm and she could catch a red. It’s more than a little maddening to the people accompanying her in the boat.

This picture is special because of the conditions. Me, Gilly and Liv ran to one of our favorite creeks in between rain showers. We knew we’d get a little wet, and, honestly, I kept waiting for one of them to give the sign that it was time to go home. That sign never came. We fished and fished, and caught snapper and snook and redfish (just Liv – the rest of us caught snapper and snook). I loved that my girls, who look killer in dresses, who know every line of every Gilmore Girls, who definitely enjoy the occasional mall trip, that they were out in these elements and loving. Every. Second.

I’m pretty happy to be one of his girls. And…you know..that he baits my hook so I don’t have to touch the shrimp. #truelove

Things I think . . .

One of my favorite columns on the interwebs is Peter King’s Monday Morning QB on – as a football buff, I obviously enjoy the content, but my favorite part is where Peter simply riffs off 10 things he “thinks he thinks” . . . since good writers borrow from good writers, and great writers steal outright, I’m gonna take that format for some weekly up-to-the minute rattling about what’s in my head . . .

  1. I think Olivia is more excited about fantasy football this year than I am.  She checked her roster AT LEAST seven times before week one.
  2. I think my boat may be the death of me.  The lower unit went out; if you’re not a boater, this is the equivalent of losing the transmission, only more expensive.  It’s currently in Orlando in some guy’s backyard being salvaged and (hopefully) put back together Update:  The boat is back, at 20% estimated repair cost (which has me feeling equal parts giddy and terrified)!
  3. Will is into Pirates of the Carribean . . . between Family Movie Night (Curse of the Black Pearl) and a couple of boy nights, he’s now seen the first three, and he’s a borderline buccaneer, running around the house with a plastic sword and talking like a pirate (which is kinda awesome with his struggles around “r’s” and “w’s” . . .  I think pirates and cowboys are something most little boys, at some point, want to be.  I know I did.  Also a Jedi.  And Carrie Fisher’s boyfriend (in 1984, not so much now).
  4. I think my fun. radio station is the BEST for wake up music right now.  This is probably odd to some of you, as I am a huge supporter of country music.  But I also feel like you run out of music pretty quickly these days, wearing songs out . . . so I like to get up early, put fun. on at a decent volume, and cook bacon.  See, even if you weren’t nuts about fun., you forgot once I mentioned bacon.
  5. I’m writing this early Sunday morning – both girls were at Rock the Universe last night, so it’ll be a boys-only morning!  Hope everyone out there has a great week . . .

– Travis