Category Archives: Parenting

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This is another post from the archives (of a previous blog), but I love it so much I decided I’d repost it here, 4 years to the day after these events unfolded.  It’s funny, because I have no pictures of that day – I totally forgot my phone!

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to put this post together. It’s long and wandering, and, I hope, has just a touch of magic.

I think I’ve alluded to it before, but my daughter and I read the Harry Potter books together. Not, together, like, I sat on her bed and read them while she listened; and not together, like, I had a copy and she had a copy and we sat on couches in the living room doing synchronized reading. Together, like, we read through them at approximately the same time.

It was my second time reading through them, but, as Liv was young, and none of her friends had read them, I wanted her to have someone to process the books with, to debate and discuss and determine what she thought about them. We’d read a book, and then take practice AR tests on it together, and then we’d watch the movie that corresponded with the book.

For hours and hours we’d debate who was the greatest wizard of all time? Who was braver, Sirius or Snape? What would it be like if there was a real Ministry of Magic? Should we adopt a snowy owl? What do you think Diagon Alley smelled like?

And it was with great fanfare that we sat in the living room and watched videos where the kid that played Draco in the movies unveiled plans for a Harry Potter theme park. And right then, in a scene (almost) straight out of Thelma and Louise, we joined hands and resolved to go.

Fast forward to “Spring 2010″ which, evidently, Universal barely squeezed in (Summer, 2010 started on June 22nd or something, and The Wizarding World opened on June 18th, so, yes, technically spring. But not really. Not in Florida.). We make the pilgrimage (’cause that’s what it was) to the King Kong Level of the Universal Parking Garage, walk through CityWalk, redeem our tickets, and stand in line somewhere around the giant Betty Boop*.

*it should be a testament to my grandparents and teachers that I somehow know who Betty Boop is. I don’t remember ever learning about her/it, I just somehow know. Maybe everyone knows, intrinsically somehow. Me, I just feel like my grandmother told me. Or my 3rd grade teacher. It’s not important. In fact, I shouldn’t have even asterixed it. Oh well. Too late now.

Now, I could regale you with all the details of how long we stood in line*, and how awesome the Forbidden Journey was*, or my take on the food*, or the butterbeer*, or Honeydukes*, but this post isn’t really about that. This post is about Ollivander’s wand shop*.

*a long, long, long, time

*very, very, very, awesome

*the food was pretty good; like rotisserie chicken from the Publix deli

*the butterbeer, when frozen, is pretty magical stuff

* Honeydukes, was, in a word, crowded. And pretty authentic.

* keep reading, I’m getting to the part about Ollivander’s

So, it’s probably 1:30 in the afternoon on June 21st, and we are standing in line for Ollivander’s Wand Shop. I’d read all the reviews and heard that the wand shop had a cool little show, and you really don’t want to miss it.

And so we stood. And an hour passed.

It’s funny to look at the village of Hogsmeade when it’s June. I mean, it looks spot on perfect to what you see in the movies. Your eyes realize it’s a perfect match, down to the snow on some of the roofs.

Only, your brain has trouble putting that all together, as it’s 95 degrees, and the snow seems terribly out of place in the Florida heat.

Another hour passed. We were now into the “rope line” portion of the wait, which is encouraging, but also misleading. It’s encouraging, because you weren’t in the rope line before. It’s discouraging, because rope lines are constructed in a manner to pack people as closely together as possible, deceiving you once again into thinking you’re closer to the front than you really are.

Another hour.

Now we can see the door.

I’ve read that they select someone from the audience to participate in the show. I think how cool it would be if Liv got selected. I look around at the group we’re likely to shuffle in with. Hmmmm. Lots of kids. This is gonna be tough.

We’re the next group. Wait, what is that woman doing? She’s asking if she can cut in line and go in? She doesn’t speak very good English? Wait, the prefect guarding the door speaks Spanish! Day saved!

It’s our turn.

We walk into the chilly room and our guide asks us to cram over as far as we can against the wall. As my eyes adjust to the light, I look around to see wand boxes everywhere, with display cases highlighting some of the most famous wands.

Finally, the door closes, 25 or so of us, sweaty and smelly and giddy with excitement, all crammed into this tiny room, and a man, gaunt and robed, up on a ladder, turns and crassly says “I’ll be with ya in a minute”

He comes down the ladder, and meanders through the crowd, looking at his list, muttering to himself.

We exchange glances, a little bit of “this is so cool” and a little bit of “this dude might be off his rocker.”

The other kids in the room, each certain they’re going to be chosen, crowd toward the old man.

All of a sudden, he turns around in a tornado of robes and dust, and says, pointing at Olivia, “You there? What’s your name?”

“O-Olivia”

“Olivia what?”

“Olivia Thompson”

“YES! YOU’RE THE ONE! Come with me!”

And Liv glanced at us nervously, but followed him up to the wand counter. I mean, we knew enough about Harry Potter that you didn’t want to cross Mr. Ollivander.

He stood there and measured her and eye’d her. She giggled and turned around to look at us. Unsure, but safe, she went along with him.

“You’re here to choose a wand, right?” he asked . . .

“yes sir”

“Well, as you know, the wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around. Let’s take a look at what we have here for you”

He chose the first wand, and handed it to her, reciting some of the specs of the wand.

“Using this wand, I want you to open that drawer”

Liv turned and glanced my way, skeptical. But, ever obedient, she pointed the wand at the drawer.

And to her utter amazement, all of the drawers in the place started snapping opened and closed.

This time, when she turned my way, her look was less skeptical pre-teen, and more “wow, there may actually be something to this magic thing.”

“That’s not the right one. Here try this one. It has a Unicorn hair and is made of willow. Point it at that bell and make it ring one time”

She took the wand and aimed it, and the bell rang repeatedly. Everyone laughed. Flashbulbs were popping everywhere.

“We’re getting closer. How . . . about . . . this one.”

He went into his schtick about this wand, displaying it to her as your optometrist office would help you pick out glasses.

As the wand was placed into her hand, we’re a little foggy on the details. Some say a light shown down on her. She promises that a wind blew her hair, although, I think that may have just been chills.

A lot went through my mind that day. I didn’t entirely have all the money I wanted to take that trip. It was a stretch. And I thought about the past couple of years, of the toll the separation and divorce had taken on her, hide it though she might. I thought about taking her to her first doctor’s appointment, all by myself, and how much she’d grown, and here she stood, looking more like a young lady than a little girl, sitting between reality and magic, and wanting so hard to believe, but not knowing for sure.

And as she turned one final time in that cold, musty room, and our gaze met, I saw it in her eyes; they widened and then relaxed, with the realization that, in that moment, I believed in magic as much as she did.

So now, if you walk in my living room, you’ll see a dusty burgundy box sitting on one of my bookshelves, next to the Harry Potter books.

And laying there, proudly displayed in front of it, is that wand that chose her.

The Longhorn Song

In honor of the end of the school year, I’m reposting something I wrote a couple of years ago.  It’s the only post I saved from my oldest blog, and it just felt right to put it here, on it’s 6 year anniversary:

The Longhorn Song – May 16, 2008

Every morning, while Olivia and I are sitting at the light by Andy’s Igloo, she looks over at me, as she has almost every morning I’ve ever taken her to school, and says “I hope you don’t sing the Longhorn song, Daddy.”

Longhorn, food long on flavor
Steaks you can savor
MOOOOooooooOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

This is usually sung in my loudest, highest, most piercing voice. She absolutely loves it, even though she pretends that she doesn’t.

For four years, I’ve driven Olivia to school. The same route, every morning. We know where all the punch buggies are. We’ve inadvertantly run over a squirrel or two. We’ve made it in 8 minutes (where it normally takes 12). We’ve stopped for breakfast at the gas station, and purchased things to eat that would make her mother and her doctor blow a gasket. We’ve “jumped” the railroad tracks, and taken shortcuts, and stopped to look at fishing tackle. More than once we’ve been late. There’s one place where we sometimes roll our windows down and listen to the parrots chirping in the tree (yes, they are parrots. I don’t know where they came from). We’ve been behind school busses and fire trucks and dump trucks and at least one tractor and stopped by numerous trains. Twice we’ve stopped to identify reptiles in the road. We’ve sang Linkin Park, and Hannah Montana, and Fort Minor, and High School Musical (1 & 2), usually way louder than her mother or her doctor should ever know about. We’ve run out of gas (once), had a flat tire (once), and broken the speed limit (742 times).

Whenever we come into view of the light at Andy’s (where we stopped for a breakfast milkshake one time), she observes whether or not anyone is sitting at the light, trying to determine how long we’ll have to wait before we cross the intersection. Once we make that light, we’re home free. And most mornings, at that light, she mentions the Longhorn song.

Recently, we’ve decided she’s going to a different school next year. Nothing that her school has done wrong, just the fact that there aren’t enough kids in her class. And this decision means that at some point, she and I will take this drive for the last time.

This morning, we made the light. It happens about once a month, the perfect confluence of events that means there’s no stop. Which means there’s no song.

In my rush to get her to school today, it wasn’t until that intersection that I realized today was the last time we’d make that trip. As we careened into the parking lot (with two minutes to spare) I mentioned to her that this would be the last day I would ever take her to HCA.

As the weight of my words hit her, she looked at me with glossy eyes and asked:

“Do you think you could please sing the Longhorn song, Daddy?”

107

“But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

– Paul Bowles

107.

That’s how many weekends we have left with Liv at home.

Our new custody arrangement (it’s not so new anymore) has us with the kids every other weekend, and every weeknight except Thursday.  That means we have 107 weekends left, give or take a weekend or two, of Liv in our house.

Sometimes when you parent, you look at the day to day and think “If we can just get past the teeball game/talent show/concert/recital next Thursday, life will slow down for a second.”  I’ll be the first to stand up and say there are days, Saturdays and Sundays sometimes, where I want a minute to veg out and watch the Rays play, or a rerun of 3:10 to Yuma.  But it’s not time for that.  Because I have 107 Saturdays left.  And I have 107 Sundays left.

107 more chances to go fishing together.  To go to church together.  To go camping together.

107 more potential Family Moooooovie Nights.  Mario Kart Tournaments.  Chess matches.

107 more opportunities for quality weekend time.  Me and her.  Her and her Gilly.  All 4 of us.

That 107 is spread over 4 years (26 weekends a year, beginning at the end of May).  She’s going to end up with school reports and band activities and friend stuff, and before you know it that 107 is going to look more like 75-80.  She’ll have to get her hair done 5-6 times a year – there goes another 24 Saturday mornings.

Duck season is 3 months long – that means I get half of those weekends – that means 24 more chances to duck hunt together.  Football season is 17 weeks long – I get half of those weeks – that means 34 more Sundays of Fantasy Football.

And if I sound sad, or melancholy, I’m not.  See, I learned a lesson after the divorce, and after having to travel so much with work, and after realizing that life is way more fragile than we take for granted.  Because 107 Saturdays aren’t guaranteed, even if it seems like they should be.

Make the most of the time you have with your kids.  Cherish it.  Build memories and moments that they’ll have forever.

Will loves very few things in this world more than playing Minecraft.  He’s been known to hole up in his room for hours at a time, his whole world existing in the iPad.  About 6 months ago, we put the kibosh on Minecraft at our house.  Let’s play a video game together.  Let’s go for a bike ride.  Let’s hang out and talk.  Let’s take the dogs to the park.  Let’s go visit a neighbor.

Will turned 8 a couple of weeks ago.

26 weekends a year.

260 Saturdays left.

Seems like a lot.

It isn’t.

While you were away . . .

Well, actually, most of you were here all along.  It was I (we) who went away.

Late 2013 was a weird period for us.  We had some pretty major lifestyle changes, and our custody arrangement changed, and we took what most of our family termed “the best vacation ever” to Washington, DC.

I won a second straight neighborhood Fantasy Football championship, narrowly, over my daughter.  Will finished speech therapy, and his “r’s” and “l’s” are coming along wonderfully.  Liv was accepted into the International Baccalaureate school, a pretty big deal.  Both kids are bringing home straight A’s (with a very occasional B).

We bought a grill, and started actually liking our puppy, and both of us got new jobs and we rediscovered Popeye’s Spicy Fried Chicken and discovered (for the first time) PDQ Buffalo Chicken Tenders.

Anyhow, we’re back – maybe not as religiously as we have been in the past, but back none the less.

If you want to get caught up, here are some of the highlights:

On being 14

The time I went to church and got booed

Our 2nd anniversary

On Step-parenting

I have to tell you something

The vicious hamster story

Stuff on Coley’s head

A dove(less) hunt

The time Gilly caught our TV on fire

Thanks for reading, and for coming along on our ride!

Dads and Doughnuts

Subtitled: the post where I went to Awana.

Yes.  Awana.

Will comes home, like, 2 months ago, and tells me that there is going to be a night at his Awana class where all the dads come, and they have doughnuts.

It bears mentioning that this is a church where my ex-wife attended until very recently, and my kids have been involved in their Awana programs and music programs and soccer programs over the years.  That it’s 5 minutes (literally, 5 minutes) from my house.  And that I’ve been to it a handful of times for various events.  And, having grown up in church in Winter Haven, there are a number of folks there I’ve attended church with and shopped at Publix with and played softball against . . . So I’m not altogether unfamiliar with the facility or people.

So I tell Will “certainly, I’d love to come to Dads and doughnuts” and we forgot all about it.  Until last Wednesday.

I’m driving Will to school, and we pass the church, and he says “Daddy, guess what tonight is!!?!?!?”

So I put on my big girl pants, and show up to Dads and Doughnuts at 6:15.  The following is what ensued:

6:15 - Check-in to Will’s class.  Notice that it’s called “Dad’s and Doughnuts” . . . realize grammar is not a primary concern here.

6:16 - meet Will’s teacher; in my head, I nickname him “Capt. Awana.”  Walk into classroom.  Stopped by a very stern, bespectacled woman – she and Will exchange some sort of gibberish – Will gets handed 4 gold coins, which he walks across the room and drops into a green sand bucket.

6:17 - I sit down in one of the grownup sized chairs along the wall, directly behind Will.  We discuss Minecraft, his day at school, and the bookfair.  I am the only dad (out of 6 in the room) not on his iphone.  I give myself a gold coin, mentally.

6:30 - Still in the same seating arrangement.  More dads have arrived.  The room, which is the size of the smallest bedroom in your house, now has approximately 30 1st/2nd/3rd graders and probably 15 dads.  The noise level is somewhere between a rock concert and a 747 landing.

6:35 - First graders called out of the room.  Their dads follow them.

6:40 - Second graders out of the room.  I am excited, as the temperature in the room is roughly the same as the tarmac where a 747 would land.  In the summer.

6:41 - we’re in the room where the kids say their memory verse(s).  I find it strange that, despite having said “hello” to at least 4 different dads so far, none seem interested in engaging in any sort of conversation.  I feel like this is odd for at least 2 reasons – 1) because if this is an outreach sort of event, you know, to reach the parents of kids who come to Awana but aren’t engaged in the church, you would think I would’ve been a prime target; 2) maybe all the dads here are not engaged in this church, and their kids only come for the Awana program.

6:42 - Will is still talking to me . . . about everything he can think of, except Awana.  I keep asking questions, as I don’t have a schedule of events, I don’t see any signs, and the only evidence I can find that tonight is any different than any other night is the “Dad’s and Doughnuts” sign in sheet, and the 10 or so adults in the room not wearing Awana issued gear.

6:45 - Okay – I’ve seen at least 5 people who I know, and none has even so much as offered a “hello” – I walk up to one . . . I coached his daughter for 2 years in basketball, served on the PTA at the small private school where our kids went, and worked line duty there 10-12 weeks a year for 4 years.  Assuming nothing, I walk up and reintroduce myself, asking about his daughter, his sons, his wife . . . and he engages!!!!  We catch up for a few minutes, then he goes back to his group of 5 dads across the room at the cool kids table.  I walk back to Will.

6:47 - I ask Will if he should be studying a Bible verse to recite.  “No sir.”  Why not?  “Because I’m already done with those books.”  Um.  Okay.  So – do you graduate Awana then?  “No sir.  I have to do this. (shows me a list of the books of the Old Testament)”  Okay – do we need to study that then.  “No sir.  I’m not going to do it.”  Okay.  So this is kinda like a free time?

6:49 - I get the kid next to Will to take the purple crayon out of his mouth.  I mention that he probably shouldn’t eat that.  His dad almost glances up from his iPhone.

6:55 - line up – time for game time.  I silently pray that the Dads aren’t participants in game time.

7:00 - Prayer unanswered.  Well played, God.  We are ACTIVE participants in game time.

7:01 - I realize that gametime isn’t necessarily well thought out.  I realize this when I see that Will is competing against a 3rd grade girl who’s 5 feet tall, a kid who could play linebacker on a JV team, and a 1st grader sucking his thumb.  I wonder if I could start some side-action with some of the dad’s if they’d give me odds on linebacker kid.

7:02 - The girl won.  Linebacker kid slipped and finished second.  Will was a distant third.  Thumb sucking kid cried.

7:07 - Game number 2.  Dodge ball.  All the dads in the middle.  Capt. Awana counted to 30 seconds, then counted the number of dads left in the middle.  Then we switched, and the dads were outside, kids in the middle.  Dads won, 12 – 6.  Will and I both never got hit.  We also never were allowed to throw the ball.  Those tasks were handled by the cool-dads table.

7:15 - Game number 3.  Kids lead the dads around the circle.  Dads are blindfolded.  I wonder about the church’s insurance policy, since I feel certain this will end with a broken ankle.

7:18 - Cool kid and his dad run into Will and I.  I don’t fall, since I’ve got a foot and 80 lbs on cool dad.  He goes down like a sack of bricks.  My ankle is bleeding. It’s okay though, because they cheat at the end of the game to beat Will to the center.  Everyone cheers.  I don’t.

7:22 - I feel really sad for some of these kids, who don’t have dads, or their dads couldn’t make it tonight.  It’s okay, though, because cool dads step in, calling attention to the fact that they aren’t the kids’ dads, and there’s always hijinks, and those kids never win.

7:24 - this woman has walked by me no less than 4 times.  I know I know her from somewhere, but I can’t place it (and if you know me at all, that is quite the upset).  Finally, I figure it out – I stop her and say “Excuse me – are you Megan’s mom?” . . . and she smiles and says “hey Travis, how are you doing” . . . Now, I coached Megan in basketball for YEARS.  When she started, she shot underhand and couldn’t graze the bottom of the net.  She quit at least once a practice.  And by the last game of the year, she scored 12 points.  In that game.  Now, I hadn’t seen her in probably 6 years, but the fact that she’d walked by me 4 times, and knew my name, but I had to be the first to speak, well, it bugged me.

7:26 - but not as much as the guy I saw across the room . . . Charlie . . . he was in my small group for 5 years . . . I played softball with him, gave him rides places, was a job reference.  I made eye contact and he didn’t even wave.  So I marched over to him, said “hey Charlie, how’re you doing” and he was polite, and we talked, blahblahblah.  I give myself another gold coin.

7:28 - last game, thankfully . . . conga line race, around a circle.  My mind plays out how this is going to end with a kid getting trampled.  Sure enough, my giant feet step on the flip-flop of the dad in front of me.  He takes out 1/4 of our group, plus the tail end of the line next to us.  3 kids are crying.  I feel really bad, which, I think to myself, is exactly how you want a visitor to feel . . . cool dads all laugh – their team won the race.

7:32 - back into the sauna-room, aka the original classroom.  Capt. Awana teases us with the idea that the doughnuts will be awesome, and available, after our lesson.  He tells a funny story about how, when he went to buy the doughnuts this morning, he was not the only person wearing a “Sparky” shirt in the Dunkin Doughnuts, and that they sang the Sparky song together right there in the shop.  This leaves me with two thoughts:

  1. Lots of people who will never go on dates must eat at Dunkin’ Doughnuts
  2. That I’m ’bout to get doughnuts that have, at a minimum, been sitting around in this cat’s car for 10 hours.

7:34 - The pastor, yes, the actual pastor, yes the pastor of the church will be in momentarily to teach us about Daniel and the lion’s den.  I LOVE Daniel and the lion’s den.

7:35 - until I’m chosen to play a scheming enemy of Daniel.  I know this isn’t good, because I’m going to end up thrown into a lion’s den and actually eaten, and the lion’s are all being played by the cool dads . . . the pastor makes a big deal out of getting the crowd to “boo” us whenever we are mentioned in the story.  Yes – I got booed at Awana.  Repeatedly.  The other dad with me obviously never got to explore his theater major, because he’s in full on dancing and whooping mode, which causes me to stand out like a sore thumb.  Really enjoying this.  Deep breaths.  Doing this for Will.  I give myself 4 more gold coins.

7:55 - WTF – is it like 85 degrees in here?  Dude next to me smells like my gym socks from 8th grade, you know, before you realized girls would like you better if you didn’t smell, and you’d actually take them home occasionally to be washed.  He is sweating like he’s running a marathon.  In his defense, he is exerting a lot more effort into his role as a kings adviser than I am (which is to say, any effort at all).  I’m fairly certain that the actual king’s advisers, you know, the ones 5 thousand years ago, I’m fairly certain they put forth less effort than this cat.  If he’d been an actual king’s adviser, the whole Daniel story might’ve played out differently.

7:58 - mercifully, we’re thrown to the lions.  The lions, are, remember, the cool dads.  This is roughly exactly the same way I remember high school. I’m rooting for the lions at this point.

8:00 - Awards time – I silently cuss in my head . . . is this an overnight event?  How long are we going to be here?  And what about the doughnuts?  Am I going to hell for cussing in my head at Awana?

8:07 - “. . . and Charlie Drummond gets green jewel number 7 . . . wait, you already have green jewel number 7 . . . hmmmm, oh well, just see me next week and we’ll figure it out . . . ” Umm, how ’bout we just see you next week for the awards?

8:12 - “Joey Hill gets his skywriter’s badge . . . Joey?  Is Joey here? Where is Joey?”  I’m thinking Joey caught on to this con hours ago, bro – he saw that the doughnuts were just a bait and switch – he recited John 3:16 or something and cut and ran in time to get home and watch the Lakers game.

8:18 - “I want to thank you all for coming.  Please stop by the check in table at the back door and get yourself a doughnut on the way out.”

8:21 - Still standing in line.  Will is beaming.  He is so happy.  We each get our munchkin (“One per customer” according to the little old battleaxe lady guarding the boxes).

8:21:39 - WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!?!?!?!?!  ONE MUNCHKIN – I AM BLEEDING ON MY ANKLE FROM SOME MORON RUNNING INTO ME BECAUSE HE THINKS A BEANBAG RACE IS GAME 7!  I’VE HAD SALIVA ON MY HANDS THAT WASN’T MINE BECAUSE LITTLE JOHNNY CAN’T KEEP THE CRAYONS OUT OF HIS MOUTH.  I NEARLY KILLED “FATHER OF THE YEAR” AND THREE OF HIS OFFSPRING IN THE CONGA LINE RACE.  I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT THE GOLD COINS DO!  I’VE BEEN IGNORED, EMBARRASSED, BEATEN UP, TRIPPED, BOOED (BOOED!?!?!), AND FED TO LIONS AND YOU’RE GIVING ME ONE DAMN MUNCHKIN?!?!?!?!?!

8:24 - Exit the building . . . Will’s mom is there to pick him up.  “How was it?” she asks.  I get a bit misty eyed, as my boy, a chip off the old block, says to her “Great.  Only they only gave us one munchkin each.  That kinda stinks.  And I didn’t boo my daddy. But me and Daddy had fun anyway.”

Yes we did, Will.  Yes we did.

Things I think . . .

  • I think we have a pond in our back yard.  It’s about 1 1/2 acres of surface area, and it’s overgrown, and it attracts alligators and otters.  On Monday, Finley decided to do some laps in it – right after I gave him a bath.  And I had to go in after him.  I was displeased.  My father, however, who was there to witness the incident, was more than pleased.  In fact, I think he may start a blog and join facebook just so he can talk about it.
  • I think, in a completely related event, I want to sell Finley on Craigslist.  Ad will read: “Free to a good home: dog.”
  • I think Gilly might not be okay with that.
  • I think there’s collusion going on in our neighborhood Fantasy Football league – a dad/son combo down the street is swapping players back and forth with each other to circumvent bye weeks.  Olivia is marching up and down the street in protest, ranting and raving like a lunatic, garnering support to shoot down their latest trade.  I’ve never been so proud.
  • I think I went to church twice last week – once on Sunday morning, once on Wednesday night, to Awana, with Will, for Dads and Doughnuts.  One of these two outings will result in a blog post on Friday.  Trust me when I tell you – do not miss it.
  • Gilly:  Which—if I may—can I just say that I am completely ashamed of what I used to do at church? I used to be in charge of making it “relevant” and “cool” and making videos and graphics and lighting. Turns out, Jesus is relevant without my help. And really, Jesus is what people want when they walk into a church building. Not videos and cover songs and pretty lights. I know this now, because after many years of church detox piled on top of many years of not-easy life, all I want is Jesus. No lights/videos/sirens/dancers necessary.

Two Yearniversary

Two years ago we got married under the oak tree in our backyard.

reception062-M

We did everything for our little wedding with our own hands (and lots of help from family!) and it was everything I hoped it would be. It also happened to be freezing that day, but I didn’t even notice.

details044

We got the flowers the day before from Publix, dinnerware from Ikea, and set up one big table on our back porch.

 

details070

My sweet neighbor and mother-in-law made home made apple and pumpkin pies.

 

We have been on a lot of adventures together.
Some include climbing roofs and looking out over the Tennessee river in North Alabama.

Lake Guntersville State Park in Alabama overlooks the Tennessee River.

Lake Guntersville State Park in Alabama overlooks the Tennessee River.

Some include hanging out in some really, really dirty bathhouses in campgrounds.

Believes there are spiders near.

Believes there are spiders near.

 

Fears no oil.

Fears no oil.

Fishing all the while. . .

Windcreek State Park

Windcreek State Park

 

 

Sometimes we worked outside until 4 am in a blizzard.

Brrr.

Brrr.

On a lift, freeze cold air flows all around your feet. The increased surface area leads to faster frostbite. In case you were wondering.

On a lift, freezing cold air flows all around your feet. The increased surface area leads to faster frostbite. In case you were wondering.

 

Also brr.

Also brr.

Sometimes we take road trips and come home with new family members.

Finley's first car ride.

Finley’s first car ride.

Some adventures are not so fun. Being jobless for months. Sick kids in the hospital. Inevitable family drama.

But…

Did I mention we go fishing?

The club can't even handle me right now.

The club can’t even handle me right now.

Sometimes we go on dates to Taco Bell and see how much money we can spend, because it seems like no matter how hungry you are, you can’t spend more than $25 at Taco Bell.

Sometimes we sit in our car in a parking lot and talk and talk and talk. These conversations usually start with, “I have an idea for a business.” I roll my eyes and Travis continues. And we dream.
Always together.

Andy’s milkshakes. Dairy Queen runs. Come sit on the back porch with me. Let’s watch a West Wing. Wanna walk the dogs? I have an idea for a blog post. Trying new recipes. Wanna go garage-sale-ing?

In these recent weeks in a season of uncertainty when we have struggled so forcefully to survive, we held each other up and cried and prayed together. Literally holding each other up.

There’s no one else I’d rather do life with.

Me too, baby . . . me too . . .