Monthly Archives: October 2013

Things I think. . .

Gilly, here. 

  • If you know Travis, you know this is his 3rd real blog, but I think it might be his best. I’ve had at least 3 people text me and say, “I am addicted to A Pack of Crackers.” Thanks, mom, dad, and Gram. Just kidding, Gram’s never been on the internet. 
  • Speaking of Gram, on Saturday, I listened to my 14 year old talk more than I’ve ever heard her talk at dinner, and she was doing all of her talkings to my 82 year old (I think) grandmother. They covered Fantasy Football, squirrel hunting, middle school band politics, Common Core practice in public schools and the Obama administration, the downfalls of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program at school, and pic-stitch and various other iPhone applications. It was hilarious and delightful. 
  • Gram has convinced all of the children in her neighborhood that she is some sort of ninja warrior hunter that always gets a head or a heart shot when hunting. Truth is, she is one of the best shots I know and she’s pretty darn fearless. Her recent kills include her neighbor’s prize rooster that wouldn’t stay out of her yard, and a water moccasin.
  • Speaking of wild animals, I owe you guys the coyote story. 
  • I was just informed that my daughter was negotiating with my grandmother to acquire a red rat snake from her property, so I’m going to go and…you know…make sure that doesn’t happen. Hopefully I don’t get a head or a heart shot for getting between my grandmother and her great-grandaughter. 

I have to tell you something.

“Gilly. I have to tell you something.

Uhhhhhh. I love you.”

That’s what Will says…probably 50 times a day. He does love me, and it’s very sweet that he tells me all the time, but…sometimes it’s also a place holder for what he says when he can’t remember what he was actually going to say.

It’s very endearing.

Sometimes I do that to God. Like. Am I the only person in the world that struggles with prayer? When I do pray, I see stuff happen. Crazy stuff. Like, immediate, insane things happen and I know that it was God answering my prayer. It’s kind of freaky sometimes. Especially lately.

But even knowing that, sometimes I go to pray and I’m like, “Hey God…Uhhhhh. I love you.” Which I’m sure He finds very endearing. And possibly annoying. But I love that He understands that sometimes my little, addled mind just can’t sum up any more than that.

My friend, Kaley, puts some good stuff on social media. Which makes me happy, because how many 20 year olds do you guys know that put like, HELPFUL things on social media? She put this on her FB recently and it really really really is awesome and changed my brain and I love stuff like that. Here’s what she said:

“Feel guilty falling asleep while praying? How do you feel when a child nods off in your lap? There. Feel better? You should!” -Scott Sauls

Ahhhh omg doesn’t that make you feel like you can BREATHE AGAIN?!

If you’re like me, and are way too hard on yourself, well. Stop it. God loves you. You have nothing to offer Him, and He loves you. You cannot make Him love you more, or less. He is good. And…He has to tell you something.

 

Things I think . . .

  • I think that I couldn’t care less about the World Series this year – Red Sox/Cardinals?  Makes me wish a giant sinkhole would just open under Fenway park and swallow both teams up . . . not the fans, mind you, just the teams.  Maybe some Bostonians.  No.  Maybe.
  • I think this morning is the first glimpse of “not-summer” we’ve had this year in Florida – you guys, it’s supposed to only be 84 degrees today!
  • I think this has been the longest week I’ve had in about 36 years, and it’s Wednesday.  Everybody’s okay, and everything’s gonna be okay, but make sure y’all hug your kids, hug your wives, hug your boyfriends*, and tell ‘em you love ‘em (and mean it)

*Editor’s note: if you have a wife and boyfriend, ummmm, well, I’m not sure what to tell you.  Hug ‘em both I guess.  I’m conflicted.

Our Friends

Okay.  I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years in various places.  So, for the next 2 minutes, just allow me to be somebody else and completely pick on my beautiful wife.  And sister.  And their friend.  And friends.

Because, like millions of people in America, Gilly (my wife), Emily (my sister), and countless other women (and non-traditional male)-type friends of theirs have taken on a near obsession with Young House Love.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say this – I like YHL.  They’re smart, they’re great writers, and they definitely know their stuff.  End disclosure.

Because my wife and sister, on a recent double date with their husbands, spent at least an HOUR discussing John and Sherry, and how Clara is growing up so fast, and how the new house is better/worse/different than the old house, which was actually the middle house because the old house is now two houses removed.

We’ve read the YHL book.  If Sher-dog paints her front door red, within two weeks we’re buying a gallon of “Farmhouse Apple.”  If they install an exotic, eco-friendly, subfloor, we investigate it at great length (despite the fact that subfloors aren’t, you know, really ever used in Florida).

Oh, we keep up with Bower Power, too, but YHL is where it’s at.  I can walk in one evening and say “hey, let’s reorganize the garage” and, like she’s got a giant database already accessed, she spins her macbook around and says “here’s what John and Sherry did . . . ”

John and Sherry.  It’s gotten to the point where they are referred to so much that I’ve just taken to explaining them to our friends as “our friends” John and Sherry.  Oh.  What’s that?  No.  We’ve never actually met them.  No.  They don’t know we exist.  Um.  Well.  They’re bloggers that Em follows.

What’s worse is now I do it . . . I’m at work, and this conversation ensues:

My boss:  “So, we’re thinking of building a deck on the back of our house”

Me:  (don’t do it.  Don’t.  She’ll think you’re nuts)

Me:  (seriously man.  You’ll sound like a crazy person)

Me (blurting): “Oh, John and Sherry just did that . . .”

My boss:  “Who are John and Sherry?”

John and Sherry.  Our friends.

Come here, little hamster

One of the “benefits” to my kids having split residences is that they have pets in both places.  Since Gilly is allergic to cats, we could never have one at our house, so the kids have two at their mom’s.  We have the dogs.  And currently, at their mother’s, Will has a pet hamster – Nibbles (can we just say, ya’ll, that, for the first six months he had Nibbles, he mispronounced it “Nipples” which, you guys, I can’t even begin . . . )

Actual photo of the real Nibbles . . .

Actual photo of the real Nibbles . . .

Recently, the kids’ mom has changed her work schedule around – this means that, in addition to getting the kids every weekend, I now am taking them to school and picking them up from school a couple of extra days each week.  Even though it means leaving the house way earlier, I’m thankful for the extra time with them.

So.  Now that the stage is set, let’s get to the meat of this little story.

Friday morning was the first morning I’d be picking them up from their mom’s to take to school.  Will has to be dropped off between 7:35 and 7:50, so, accounting for a school morning traffic pattern, I asked them to be ready at 7:20.  At 7:16 (I know – I looked at my phone before deciding to leave it in the car), I proceeded up the steps to their mother’s apartment.

I knock.  I hear Liv say “Dad, is that you?” and then “Will – it’s okay, Daddy’s here” in a voice that indicated reassurance.

The door swung open.  One of my ex’s cats darted across the living room.

Liv:  “Dad – we have a bit of an altercation” – (you have to love Olivia – she totally meant “situation” but was so flustered, and honestly not quite awake yet)

I looked past her, down the hall, where her brother stood, wearing a Duck Dynasty t-shirt, navy shorts, and no shoes, huge crocodile tears welling in his eyes.  Looking back, I feel guilty that my first thought was, “um, that doesn’t look like it’s gonna meet the uniform code at school . . . ”

“What’s going on guys?  Will – why are you wearing a Duck Dynasty shirt, bud?”

“Nibbles is gone”

I went into full on hunter mode.  Have ya’ll ever seen that Duck Dynasty where they lose the lizard?  If not, here’s a pretty good synopsis.  We’ll wait if you want to watch it (the best part is at about 1:43 when Phil shows up with two methods of dispatching the “elusive reptile”).  Well, that was me.  And the kids.

By the crack of the door, sealing off any escape, were a toy from McDonald’s, a light saber, and a box of honeybuns.  Situation: Locked down.

I entered the arena room.  It was as though every one of my senses were tingling.  Man vs. beast.

“Will – make sure you brush your teeth . . . ” Liv was obviously more concerned with her brother’s hygiene than the fact that Nibbles was working to elude us plus two feline predators.

Now.  At this point in the story, it’s important to note that Will’s room at his mother’s house is FULL.  It’s not a very large room to begin with, and they’ve seen to it that it is stuffed with, well, stuffed animals (is that redundant) . . . at least 100 of them.  Old school backpacks and paperwork from year’s past.  A recliner.  Approximately 4 million miscellaneous plastic toys, cars, cooking utensils, legos, and action figures.  If you could get those hamsters from that hamster commercial where they drive the car, put them in a room with a whiteboard, and asked them diagram the perfect battlefield, this is pretty close to what it’d look like (they might’ve requested more pine shavings) . . .

Place where actual skirmish happened . . .

Place where actual skirmish happened . . .

I quickly and systematically begin taking everything out from under stuff and piling it onto his bed.  I moved the recliner.  I dug through books, including a Tigger book that makes a clanking pot sound periodically – “ClinkBangBoom” (it has one of those little touch pads on the side).  I emptied, I’m pretty sure, his backpack from kindergarten.  Cats are scratching at the door.  I move to the toybox area – nothing.  I move to the closet – I relocate the smart cycle, a gigantic toy he hasn’t played with since we got a wii (2008?) . . . I pause and listen, hoping for the sound of scurrying.  What time is it?  Left my phone in the car.

I finally get to the bed.  Will still uses the red race car bed my parents bought him when he was 2.  It’s pulled about 10 inches from the wall, apparently so we can stuff that space as full as possible with toys.  This would be where we would meet.  I felt a chill run down my spine.  You guys, it was just like that scene in Braveheart, right before they do the battle and Bruce is charging everyone up and I’m blurring between a vision of Catherine McCormack and a Blue Webkinz Jr. Rabbit . . .

I begin systematically digging the toys out, piling them on the bed.  I get from the front bumper of the car to the passenger side tire when I see a movement . . . NIBBLES . . . at this point, Liv is involved in the hunt.

Only.

EVERYONE IS AFRAID TO TOUCH HIM!!!!

Now, I’ve dealt with some critter removal in my day.  The neighbors call me when snakes get into their porches.  I’ve conducted armadillo relocation efforts.  I once rescued a flying squirrel from my sister’s cat.  But, I’m glancing around at my cohorts on this mission, and let me just say, they are not exactly displaying any courage.  And I’m starting to wonder just how vicious this creature must be . . .

I flail blindly into the gap between the bed . . . I have him for a brief second . . . he bites me and wriggles away . . . the whole world seems to speed up . . .

“LIV – WATCH HIM!!!”

“I see him dad”

Slide the bed away.  Oh no.  He’s racing for the recliner.  I pick the recliner up, set it on the bed, which is now piled taller than I am.  I make a mental note that my ex will probably have some less than jovial words about this mess.  I make a mental note about the fact that I’m chasing a vicious hamster around her apartment at 7:30 in the morning.

He beelines for the dresser.  One more dive and . . . I got him!  Biting and squealing (did ya’ll know hamsters could squeal), I cram him into his cage, still in the same condition it was in when he escaped.

I walk into the kitchen, open what I (correctly) guess to be the junk drawer.  Grab a roll of shipping tape (is my ex running a fed-ex?  Who has shipping tape but not Duck Tape?); race back the room.  The kids had placed a couple of large books over the door Nibbles keeps opening.  I straighten the stack and begin wrapping.  I wrap the other door, the one to the wire part of the cage.  I tape the entire structure together.  With a couple of stamps, Nibbles could have been well on his way to, well, wherever hamsters are from . . . China?  Africa?  Auburndale?

Finally done, I walk out, verifying the cats aren’t in the room with the hamster.  Will’s got his shoes on.  Liv’s gathering her school work.

Out the door.  Down the steps.  Into the car.

Pick up my phone.  It’s 7:31.  Halfway to school, after some laughing and recapping and reassuring that Nibbles will never be free again, there’s a pause.

“Oh – Daddy – I almost forgot – because it’s free dress day.”

 

Things I think . . .

  • You guys . . . ya’ll know that song “Slow Ride” by Foghat?  Last night, I totally caught my wife singing it as “Snow Ride” which is kinda awesome.  She may have had a lot of glasses of wine beforehand.  Either way, it got me excited about Christmas . . .
  • Because this Christmas we’re going to Washington, DC.  I mean, not for Christmas (Barry never invites us to spend it with the fam), but the day after Christmas, we’re trudging to the airport at the crack of dawn and venturing to our nation’s capital . . . hopefully it’s all back up and operational by that point.
  • I had Columbus day off this week . . . I’ve never had Columbus day off in my life, but I did this week, and I celebrated in the ways a 15th century explorer only dreamed about – taking the kids to school, picking the kids up from school, fixing the kids dinner, doing homework with the kids.  Also, I took a nap.
  • Columbus day has also thrown a wrench into my blogging schedule.  Call it a blogger’s holiday?
  • I think someone brought mini-cupcakes into the office today.  If I were a super hero (I’m not saying I’m not – just can’t divulge that kind of information on the interwebs), my kryptonite would be mini-cupcakes.  Also dark chocolate.  Yoohoos.  Puppies.  Sweet tea.  New fishing tackle.  Boats.  Seafood.
  • I would be the worst super hero ever.  Entire comic book would be me eating things and hanging out on my boat with puppies while dastardly villains overran Gotham City.

Stuff on Coley’s Head

I’m not a hundred percent sure when it first happened.

I will gladly admit I got the inspiration from Dooce.

Coleman is our eleven (almost 12) year old French Brittany . . . he’s crazier than a sprayed cockroach.  He’s been with me through thick and thin.  He’s been to more states than a lot of people you know.  He’s played in the snow and and in the ocean and loves peanut butter almost as much as his family.  He is a fierce snuggler.  When I was living with my parents, I had a twin mattress on the floor and he slept on my pillow or on my feet.   The very definition of man’s best friend.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, I thought “you know, I bet that dog would let me balance things on his head” and the rest is history.

These are some of our favorite things on Coley’s head . . .

This is the first photo I can find of me putting something on his head.  Date on the photo file is June 18, 2009.  This Rays hat is still in my boat – it’s my good luck hat.  I love this picture because it looks like he’s smiling.

IMG_6011

He loves seasonal stuff . . . lightweight and simple . . . with a little pumpkin . . .

During his short tenure as a member of the KGB . . .

Waiting for the Pilgrims to arrive on Thanksgiving . . .

Trying out for the role of a Shepard in the Christmas Story . . .

Showing the reason for the season (and, yes, those are ceramic Nativity figurines. And no, they were not harmed at all.  And yes, think about all the dogs you know.  Would one of them let you do this?) . . . Lots of people ask if the stuff falls . . . not usually.  I have tried some stuff that was doomed from the beginning: a lamp shade (freaked him out); Liv’s trumpet (couldn’t get it to balance, and it was really heavy); a lightsaber (I had the light and sound on, and it scared him (and me) to death.  We scrapped that idea); books don’t work well (I don’t know if they’re too heavy or what – just can’t make it happen)

Hoping for the opportunity to work at Gimbel’s or Macy’s

Jurassic Bark, anyone?

This is one of the coolest ones – I had been trying to do a cup for a while, but they’d always fall. We were driving to Orlando one day and I had this CFA cup, full; he was resting his head on the console, and I thought, “what the heck” – I sat it on his head at a stoplight, snapped the pic, and, amazed, left it there through three more intersections. He never flinched.

Irony. This is the stuff that makes all these pictures happen . . . (another aside – in 2010, Coley had a tumor removed from his head.  Stitches and scar and the whole 9 yards.  Never slowed him down or bothered him one bit.  I always wondered if it was easier to balance before or after; I really think it’s been easier after)

Easter morning. Similar to the CFA cup, this worked better when there were eggs in the carton . . . (did you know that the eggs in the blue carton, the mediums, are the freshest?  My grandmother, Ernestine, told me this years ago.  You can tell Gilly bought these eggs, because they’re not in the blue carton.  This isn’t important;  just thought I’d lay down some egg knowledge (get it – “lay down”))

Know what Costa Del Mar said about this pic – “cool” – no kidding – those boxes are hard to balance on a freaking shelf, let alone a round dog head.  The first time I tried it, I took all the sunglasses out of the boxes, but they were too light and went everywhere.  I had to put the glasses back into the boxes.  I also figured out I could stack them one at a time and spell out c-o-s-t-a vertically.  This one is one of my favorites.  It involved no treats.

I love the hats!

He got Hufflepup . . .

This is one of our most recent ones – a wine bottle from our wedding – it was empty, and it was HEAVY.  It fell the first two times, but we got it figured out . . .

Have you ever tried balancing something on your dog’s head?  Your kid’s head? Got any suggestions for stuff for Coley’s head? Are you on the Instagram? Hit me up @travis_thompson