Playa Mujeres 2019

Busy week!

Thanksgiving was amazing. July 4 is my favorite holiday but Thanksgiving is a close second. The last couple of years I’ve spent more time in the kitchen and have enjoyed spending that quality time with Missy and whichever kids happen to be in the mood to help cook at a given moment.

We made so much good food (sweet potatoes are always my favorite) and I carry no guilt for overeating for a few days. On Wednesday we ate at my mom’s with Andrew’s family, then on Thursday we hosted Missy’s family at our house. We still have leftovers and they’re still delicious.

This year my overeating started early, as Missy and I went to an all-inclusive resort in Playa Mujeres last weekend to celebrate my 40th birthday.

It was the perfect trip for us at this time in our lives. Both grandmas stepped up to help with babysitting and we were able to go for four days. It was so refreshing to just be able to relax and enjoy both the beach and each other’s company. I feel like much of our marriage at this point has been reduced to being co-managers of the family, making sure kids get to practices, get homework done, and act halfway decent. This trip allowed us to go back to “dating” mode, talk about ourselves, laugh and relax. The food and atmosphere were great. For anyone who is interested, here’s a link to the place we stayed.

Part of our package included an hour of something called “hydrotherapy” at the spa. I’d never heard of it before, and after 10 minutes I was convinced that the whole thing was a prank. As the name suggests, the concept involves using water of differing temperatures and pressures.

The first thing they had us do was go into a steam room for five minutes. The steam was so thick you could barely see, and the temperature was so hot that I was having a hard time breathing. I almost gave up and just busted out of the thing, but we survived for the requisite five minutes before moving on to the next room.

There, we stood in a small shower-like cubicle and our guide told us to pull on a rope that dangled down. It was attached to a huge bucket hanging from the ceiling. We pulled on it and freezing water poured out of the bucket and onto our heads. It was at this point that I started looking for the hidden cameras. I was convinced that there were a room full of employees somewhere on the property watching us and laughing. I could hear one of them saying, “I can’t believe these stupid Americans will actually pay us to dump cold water on their own heads!”

From there we moved to a different shower which had sprayers pointing in every which direction firing water at different temperatures all over our bodies. That was a trip too. After that, thankfully, the experience was much more normal and actually very relaxing. I have to say I’d do it again if we ever go back.

Here are some pictures from our trip!

The view from our balcony
My feet got sunburned that day because I didn’t put sunscreen on soon enough
Surf and turf with this beautiful woman!
Our balcony had a private pool
Fancy pina colada
Made friends with some iguanas

Lower Your Expectations, Raise Your Happiness

Life can easily be viewed through the lenses of investment and expectation.

Usually, those are correlating figures. The more we invest, the more we expect. If I pay $200 for a 1982 Honda off Craigslist, I won’t be surprised or terribly disappointed when it doesn’t start in two weeks.

If I get a babysitter and take Missy to a nice dinner, I’m disappointed when the restaurant fumbles the reservation and we have to wait an hour for our table while some douchey OSU fans ham it up on the table that’s supposed to be ours. Not that that’s ever happened to us.

If I had gone to an inferior restaurant that didn’t take reservations, I wouldn’t have been surprised to have to wait an hour for a table on a Saturday night. I probably would have gladly bought a beer and waited at the bar. Instead, the house gave me free beer and I was still unhappy because my expectations were not met.

In poker, when you miss a draw and end up with bubkes, you might be a little disappointed. But losing a pot of the exact same size when you have a full house and your opponent makes four of a kind stings worse because you expected to win the pot.

The same applies to our sports fandom, and after this weekend’s games it seemed like a good time to look further into this truism.

On Friday, the Thunder beat Philadelphia in overtime to improve to 5-7 on the season (this is being written before the Monday/Tuesday games vs the Clippers and Lakers). Had this exact game been played last season, OKC fans would have been something between relieved and annoyed. In fact, last season the team started 0-4 and you’d have thought the Devon Tower was collapsing, the way people talked around here.

This year, different story. Russell Westbrook and Paul George are gone, and with them went the expectations that this team could make a playoff run. Now we can just enjoy Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and look for the pieces that might surround him when OKC returns to national relevance.

The win against Philly was cool and unexpected because the Sixers are legit title contenders and OKC simply outplayed them.

This current version of the Thunder is a little weird. Three of their top players — SGA, Chris Paul and Dennis Schroeder, all have similar builds and similar games. The team’s top shooter, Danilo Gallinari, will surely be traded to a contender sometime before February.

This team isn’t going to win a ton of games, especially in a loaded Western Conference. But it’s proven it can beat a top-level team when it plays its A game. That and the youthful energy that’s been lacking in OKC over the last several years make it a team worth watching, even if you have to turn off the TV in the third quarter of a blowout loss once every few games.

The last two Thunder seasons have been frustrating as all getout. Games that should have been won were lost. Playoff runs that should have been long ended in the first round, and those series weren’t all that competitive. If this year’s team gets knocked out in five or six games in the first round, we’ll be thrilled. It’s all about expectations.

One more Thunder/expectation note: Chris Paul has been a little disappointing. Not that he isn’t a solid player, but I expected more out of him than he’s produced so far. I enjoy watching the savvy veteran moves he produces and he rarely makes mistakes, but he can also go fairly significant stretches without making any impact on the game whatsoever. If he were, say, D.J. Augustin making the veteran minimum salary, I’d be thrilled. But for $40 million a year I expect a little more. Just sayin’.

Was hoping for more of this from CP3.

This season of OU football has been all about managing expectations. I bought into the Alex Grinch hype, at least a little bit. Things had to get somewhat better on defense, right? And sure, the offense is going to take a small step back without a Heisman winner running it, but with Jalen Hurts you figured you’d get a steady hand who wouldn’t lose the game for you. I thought the Sooners had a pretty good chance to be a playoff team.

For a couple of months, they stayed on that path. The competition was weak, but that wasn’t their fault and they blew the doors off of everyone. Hurts looked great.

Then came Texas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor. Yes, OU ended up winning three of those games. But the Sooners have pretty convincingly shown that they aren’t a playoff-caliber team.

And that’s fine. We just need to lower our expectations.

The Big 12 is a solid league this year, but there aren’t any great teams in it. West Virginia and Kansas are clearly at the bottom of the heap, but everyone else is capable of beating everyone else. A playoff-level team like OU’s last two iterations wouldn’t be playing four coin-flip games in a row against decent but not great competition.

I’m not making any long-term judgments on Grinch at this point, but it’s clear that he can’t do anything significantly better than Mike Stoops with the exact same guys on the field. Hopefully he can when he gets better talent on the roster, but the talent isn’t changing this season.

It’s also clear that Hurts doesn’t protect the ball the same way that Mayfield and Murray did. OU also clearly misses having Hollywood Brown and a loaded offensive line. It’s still an excellent unit that can score any time, but it’s not on the unstoppable level of the last few years.

If you put this OU squad in roughly the same basket as the top six teams in the conference, it’s been a great season. Nothing wrong with 9-1 and almost assuredly being the favorite in yet another Big 12 title game come December.

The Baylor game this weekend was a good example of both ends of the expectation meter. You went in hoping the Sooners could revert to their September form and show the world they were in fact national championship contenders. Those crappy halves against K-State and Iowa State were just flukes.

Any ideas like that vanished somewhere between when Hurts just laid the ball on the ground and when Baylor’s mediocre offense waltzed into the end zone for the fourth time in a quarter and a half.

When it looks like your team is going to lose 52-21, you just hope they fight back and make it respectable. When everything breaks right and you pull off the greatest comeback in school history, that’s pretty cool.

Entering the game, most OU fans would not have been thrilled if you told them the final score would be 34-31. The way it played out, everyone was happy.

Yes, I understand that technically OU is still alive for the playoff. I wouldn’t be shocked if everything breaks right and the Sooners get in. We’ve seen it several times in the recent past. But this team probably has at least one more loss left in it, and if it gets to the playoff it’s not going to be a pretty sight. Personally, I hope the Sooners run the table, continue their dominance of the Big 12 and then face Alabama in a non-playoff New Year’s Day bowl. That’s a game they can win, and it would be cool to see the Hurts v. Bama thing.

A college football expectation segment wouldn’t be complete without a shoutout to the Texas Longhorns. Enter every season with a top-five recruiting class and a top 10 national ranking, which gets your fans talking all kind of silly mess. Then go 7-5 and roll the dice in the Independence Bowl. But those recruiting classes…

Suck it, Texas.

My other two teams are on opposite ends of the expectation spectrum. The Cubs had a meteoric rise that took them from terrible (2014) to the NLCS (2015) to World Series champions (2016) in a three year span. With loads of young talent, everyone assumed it was a dynasty in the making. Under those circumstances, the next three years were very disappointing. Take the expectations out of it, and reaching the NLCS (2017), having the best regular-season record in the National League before losing in the first round of the playoffs (2018), and narrowly missing the playoffs while still finishing with a winning record (2019) would be a pretty solid three-year run.

On the flip side, my Philadelphia Eagles went into 2017 expected to be an average team. Picked to be in the 8-8 neighborhood by just about everyone. Somehow, everything clicked and the Eagles jumped out to a great start. Then Carson Wentz, who was a lock to win the MVP award, tore his ACL and Philly had to turn to journeyman Nick Foles. Again, expectations were set back to zero. I didn’t think they would win any of their playoff games, but everything broke right. They took down the New England dynasty and won their first Super Bowl. It was pretty freaking cool.

Last year’s Eagles lucked into the playoffs and somehow won a playoff game when a Bears field goal bounced off the upright and the crossbar before landing in the end zone. That wasn’t a Super Bowl, but it was pretty freaking cool.

This year’s team is 5-5. I expect them to lose every game the rest of the season. Wink wink.

40 Year Old Pillows

I didn’t think I’d ever make it to 40. Not specifically because I thought I’d die young, just because it seemed like a faraway number that only a different species of life could attain.

My family and friends made my 40th a special event. It was basically a full week’s worth of festivities. It kicked off on Nov. 9 when Chad was in town and took me to Bricktown Brewery for burgers and beer. On the 11th mom took me to my favorite restaurant, Charleston’s. On the 12th, my actual birthday, the kids made me custom birthday cards, while Missy made me a homemade pizza and a turtle cake (yum!). The next night I was treated to dinner, cigars and bar games by my friends. On the 15th I had lunch with my brother, and on the 16th I got a really nice card from my sister and her family in North Carolina.

Even considering that I snuck this picture without telling anyone, these guys look awful bored.

And that brings us to the pillow.

I’ve never bought one in my life. I went from using the one my mom got for me growing up to using the one my wife got for me a few years back. One of the many ways in which I am weird is my sleeping pattern. I fall asleep on my stomach and then switch to my side about halfway through the night. For the last several years, I’ve used the flat pillow I grew up with to fall asleep, then switch to the big tempurpedic one when I go to my side.

Thrilling blog so far.

A few weeks back Andrew asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I thought it might be nice to try to find one pillow that could work the whole night for me. Yes, I am aware that children are starving in Africa and I want an upgraded third pillow. Andrew and Allison were nice enough to go in together to get me that upgraded third pillow.

And so on Friday, after our lunch, Andrew and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick out a pillow. I hadn’t given any thought to this process beforehand. And I couldn’t tell you if my experience was a normal one, because it’s the only pillow-buying experience I’ve ever had. But it was kind of weird.

First off, I had assumed that the pillows would be included in the “Bed” portion of Bed, Bath and Beyond. But evidently it’s “Beyond.” Literally two sections beyond the beds. Not that I’m trying to get a 30-minute test drive/nap on these pillows, but how am I supposed to tell if I like the way my head feels on the pillow if I can’t lay my head on the pillow? I grabbed three or four pillows and took them over to the “bed” section, but that felt weird too.

For one thing, there were only three beds over there. If “Bed” comprises 33% of your store’s name, you need more than three damn beds in the place. If I were named CEO of Bed, Bath and Beyond — a very distinct possibility after their board of directors reads this piece — I would demand that one of two changes take place. They should either put in a crappy, unmade bed in the pillow section explicitly for pillow testing, or just change the name of the whole operation to “Beyond” and end the façade of selling beds and baths. Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure they sell baths there.

Like I said, I carried my pillows over to the fancy beds and tried to test them out, but I didn’t want to lay all the way down on a $1200 bed I had no interest in buying just to test a $30 pillow. They had the beds propped up kind of high, so I tried to just stand next to the bed, lean over onto the bed without laying down and try it that way. My 40-year-old back did not like that, plus I felt like an alcoholic trying to sneak a flask out of my pocket and take a swig before anyone saw because I knew it looked ridiculous.

So I took the walk of shame back to the pillow section, holding four pillows, zero shreds of dignity and zero firsthand knowledge about which of these pillows I might like to purchase.

Let me tell you something else about these sample pillows. They’re all nasty. I wouldn’t expect them to actually be clean, but I can’t really think of a reason why every single one of them has a stain. A couple of them had red stains, which means that either blood or ketchup was involved. I started to think of some scenarios by which different-colored stains would arrive upon the pillows, then figured it best to leave the subject alone. But trust me, they be nasty.

Around this time, a BB&B employee came up and asked us if we needed any help. I told her my pillow preference and asked if she had anything that would fit the bill. She gave a couple of recommendations, after which her presence was no longer required. Yet it persisted. I know she was just trying to be helpful, but it’s been a couple of decades since I squeezed a pillow and then looked directly into the eyes of a complete stranger. She started talking about her daughter’s pillow preferences, which did not help make things less weird.

Averting my eyes did not help matters, as it usually ended with me looking at this guy hugging his own pillow. So many questions here.

The My Pillow guy holding his pillow

“My pillow” is 100% a mafia thing, right? Seems like the only way that name could get to market. When 15 marketing executives tell you to give it a real name and Al Capone stands up and says, “It’s my pillow. That’s what we’re calling it,” you name it My Pillow.

Also seems like the only way they’d plaster this dude’s picture on everything. Those same marketing execs probably went to him and said, “Look boss, we’re not saying you look completely creepy, but we gave Bob Saget a couple grand and a free pillow to be the face of this thing.” To which Al Capone said, “We got a problem here?” To which the execs said, “You going to keep the necklace on or…yep, great. Necklace looks classy.”

I tested the My Pillow, and at the risk of getting whacked I’m going on the record and saying it sucked. Also, crème colored stain. Next I tried a Claritin pillow. Have to admit, did not know that was a thing. Somehow supposed to fix your allergies while you sleep. I was born 40 years ago, not last night. So I passed on that, as well as the pillows infused with charcoal and the pillows infused with CBD oil. Somehow, those are real products that people buy.

This epic business battle for my siblings’ pillow money came down to two pillows. One was called the 5 degree pillow and claims to be 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the room. The other was easily the best pillow in the room. I think it was made from clouds or something. The only problem is that it cost more than twice as much as the next most expensive pillow in the place.

I was skeptical about the 5 degree cooler thing, but I liked the firmness of the pillow. Seemed like it was right in the happy zone between too flat and too big. Our helpful sales lady said it really was 5 degrees cooler and I could take it out of the bag and test it. Son of a bitch really is cooler than everything else in the room. This might be the greatest worthless invention of our generation.

All things being equal, I would have bought the pillow made from slaughtered whale blubber but I couldn’t bear the idea of spending $200 on a pillow, even if it was my brother and sister’s money. So I’ve got this five degree thing. If you’d like to buy one without being stared at by a single mother working in the pillow section at Bed, Bath and Beyond, here’s a link.

So far, the pillow seems to be working out. I have woken up with frostbite on my ears the last two days, so that’s a plus. They didn’t sell me a crock of crap.

Thanks to my siblings for the pillow. Thanks to my wife, kids, mom and friends for the birthday gifts. Thanks to everyone who texted, emailed or Facebooked to pass along wishes. Thanks to the My Pillow guy for keeping it real. And thanks to all of you for reading a blog about pillows.

Bailey

I’m not a pet person. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t have one.

Missy is the opposite. If it were up to her, we’d go to the pet store and order “The Noah”.

Knowing my preference for a pet-less existence, she made me agree to it before we got married. Call it a pet pre-nup. Pet-nup? Pup-nup? I agreed to get a dog as long as she agreed that we would only have one dog and zero cats.

And so our life as a budding family began the way many do. We got married in August 2006, moved out of my one-bedroom apartment and bought our first house in January 2008, and in March of that year we went to the animal shelter to pick out our dog.

I’ll never forget that day. There were probably 20 or 30 dogs there ready to be adopted. We made the rounds a couple of times, but both of us were pulled toward the dog with the black spots and the boundless energy. He held eye contact with us the whole time we were on his row of crates. Did a couple of hops and spins and wagged his tail.

There wasn’t any debate, we both picked him. On the drive home, we threw out a few name suggestions. I know Bailey is generally more of a girl’s name, but for some reason it just felt right for him. Something about his spots and his smile made him look like a Bailey to me, and Missy agreed.

The animal shelter had him listed as a lab/dalmatian mix. We thought that was probably inaccurate, and our vet said he thought Bailey was a border collie/blue heeler mix, which is certainly closer to the truth considering Bailey never grew to be very tall and has never weighed more than 45 pounds.

Our vet guessed that Bailey was four or five months old when we got him, and he definitely acted like a puppy. He couldn’t get enough attention, and as a young, newly-married couple we were happy to give him plenty of it. We loved throwing him tennis balls in the back yard to fetch, and Bailey loved chasing them down and bringing them back to us. The only problem was that he never wanted to drop the ball back at our feet so we could throw it again. We had to wrestle it out of his mouth every time.

One day when Missy was at work, I was upstairs playing with Bailey when my cell phone rang. While I talked on the phone, Bailey kept jumping on me to try to get me to play again. After about two minutes of this, he quit jumping, took one step back, looked me square in the eyes and laid a giant dump on the middle of our rug.

“No big deal,” I thought as I calmly cleaned up the mess.

Just kidding, I was pretty pissed. Bailey spent the next few hours in the backyard.

His favorite backyard activity has always been digging. He digs holes underneath the fence and emerges on the other side. We tried everything to stop him but he was determined. Sometimes he’d just go straight to the front porch and wait for us there. Sometimes he’d roam the neighborhood for awhile. But he’s always known his way back home, even when he was a puppy.

The first time Missy and I went out of town without Bailey, we asked my friend Spike to watch him. Spike lived across the street so it was pretty convenient. On the day we were getting back in town, Spike texted and said, “Just so you know, Bailey ate all of your shoes while you were gone.” Sure enough, he chewed right through several good pairs. Thankfully that phase ended pretty quickly.

My first major bout with depression came on my honeymoon, as I wrote about here. The second one I can remember came a few months after we got Bailey, on an afternoon when Missy was working and I was home alone. I just curled up in bed and cried for a solid hour. Although I’m sure he had no idea what was going on, Bailey really helped me through that just by being there and letting me pet him.

Bailey had about nine months as our only “child” before Addison was born. We were worried that he might get jealous as our attention to him decreased, especially after the poop incident. And as a parent you’re always worried that the dog might hurt your baby, either accidentally or on purpose.

I remember there being a little bit of jealousy on Bailey’s part after Addie arrived, but he’s been the perfect dog to have around children. By the time Myra arrived, he was completely mellow with the kids. He’s been ridden bareback like a horse by all four of them at one point or another, and he never even barks at them.

Now Bailey is getting old. He’s almost completely deaf and can’t see that well, either. He doesn’t run around the house or the backyard like he used to, although he can still get feisty on occasion.

He’s also taking advantage of all of the benefits of being old. He just jumps onto the couch or the bed instead of waiting next to it for us to give permission. We just let him get away with it now. He knocks over the trash can to eat whatever is in there, even though he knows better. A couple of times I’ve come home and Bailey has immediately run from the living room straight into his cage. He never does that so I knew something was up, and sure enough I walk into the kitchen to see the trash can knocked over and trash everywhere. He just went ahead and gave himself a timeout in the cage.

Bailey hops into beds like he owns them now.

We don’t know Bailey’s exact birthday because we got him at the shelter, but because we got him at about 4 to 5 months old in March, we celebrate his birthday on the same day as mine — Nov. 12. And this Nov. 12 Bailey will turn 12 years old. He’ll get a big bone from Petsmart and probably some extra table scraps. I hope he has many birthdays left, but time isn’t on his side.

We thought we lost him for sure a couple months back. We went to Branson and Maddux let him out the back door of our airbnb, then didn’t tell us because he thought he would get in trouble. Bailey was gone for about an hour and Missy and I were scared to death because of course he didn’t know the area or his way back home — or so we thought. While we were scattered throughout the complex searching for him, he popped back up down the road when Myra and I saw him, and he immediately ran straight to our front porch.

He does that all the time in our neighborhood at home, but now that he’s getting older we fear he won’t be able to see or hear a car, or he’ll forget where home is. We remind the kids of how old he is, probably to a fault. The other day Hawk came up to me and said, apropos of nothing, “Bailey is really really old and then he will die.”

But of course it saddens me to think of how the kids will handle Bailey’s eventual demise. They haven’t had to go through a loss like that yet (knock on wood). They love him so much. I know it will be a big loss for me, too. He’ll always be our first “child.”

I’ll always remember his quirks. How he gets so excited on walks that he chokes himself pulling on the leash to go faster. How he gets so excited about getting a treat that he does all of his tricks — spinning, jumping, shaking a paw, sneezing on command — one after the other instead of waiting to see which one we actually want him to do. How he tries to cover his poops with grass in the same way that a cat covers them with litter.

But mostly I’ll remember the love and stability he brought to the Franklin house. Everyone thinks their dog is somehow different than all the other dogs in the world. Bailey isn’t supernaturally gifted in any way, but he sure is ours.

I’m glad I made Missy sign that pup-nup.

Foster Care, Myra and Halloween

On Monday, Myra turned 7. It doesn’t seem possible. Seems like just yesterday that we were moving into our house, and five days after that DHS dropped off a 3-month-old girl that we’ve had ever since.

It’s been a festive week in the Franklin house, as Myra got three special birthday meals. First she went to Golden Corral with Missy’s family when they visited for the weekend, then we checked her out of school on Monday for a Mazzio’s lunch, followed by her birthday dinner with my mom and her cousins at Ted’s.

Of course it’s also Halloween so we went to a church festival last night and got the kids loaded up on sugar.

Addie the Egyptian princess, Myra the angel, Maddux the dinosaur and Superman Hawk

Myra fits perfectly into our family. She’s a great bridge from Addison to the younger boys. She’s very nurturing and loving towards them, especially when Addie finds herself getting frustrated by them.

She loves to laugh and to smile, something she’s been doing since the day she came into our home.

I wanted to share something I wrote five years ago, when we officially adopted Myra. Most of you know that there is a huge need both in Oklahoma and nationwide for foster parents. If you’re in a position to do that, I hope you’ll consider it. Maybe our story will help.

Please feel free to reach out to me or Missy with any questions. A few of our friends have taken the leap with us and they have also been blessed. You’ll change a child’s life as well as your own. And if you’re not in a position to take a child, please consider donating to a place like Cookson Hills. They are hosting and helping as many kids as they can.

It’s often the most unexpected things in life that end up providing the biggest blessings.
That’s certainly the case in my life as it relates to foster care.
Foster care wasn’t even on my radar until a few years ago. I spent the first 25 years of my life terrified at the thought of having my own kids, much less taking care of someone else’s. Even after meeting and marrying a woman who grew up in a children’s home, I still never considered the possibility that I’d end up doing it.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I woke up and groggily sauntered into the living room. The first thing I heard was Myra saying “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” I looked and she was hanging upside down from her grandma’s arms. When we made eye contact she burst out laughing. A couple hours later many of our closest friends and relatives came over for a party to celebrate the fact that we have officially adopted the precious sweetheart I now can’t live without.

How did we get here? Like I said, my wife grew up in a children’s home, where her parents modeled God’s love by having about 10 foster kids under their roof at any given time at Cookson Hills, a Christian ministry located just on our side of Arkansas border in a town called Kansas, Oklahoma. My church growing up had supported Cookson Hills, but I had never visited until I started dating Missy in college. It was definitely cool and touching to see kids who in most cases had zero advantages or hope outside of Cookson thrive in the loving environment there. The mass-produced food they ate didn’t taste good, their clothes were donated, and they had just one TV for the household of 12, but the support network there made all the difference in the world to those kids.
It took me five years to get around to marrying Missy, and another three for us to settle into our careers and move from Lawton to Oklahoma City, where we wanted to live permanently. When that happened and Missy brought up the idea of foster care again, my normal reaction would have been to say no. It doesn’t take a lot to stress me out, and we already had a kid. But something inside gave me a peace about it, and it felt like the right thing.
So we went through 10 miles of red tape to get approved, which took almost a year, and then we dove right in. Way, way over our heads. It was only a few days before Christmas 2012 when we got a call about three children who had been in an extremely traumatic situation and needed a place to stay for the holidays.
We said yes and took them in for about 3 weeks, but in no way were we prepared to provide them what they truly needed. We had no experience with kids older than Addison, who was not yet 4, and no time to prepare a house that needed to expand from three to six occupants. More important, we were not equipped to help them emotionally deal with the traumatic event that had shaken their lives, and since it was the holidays it was hard to find professional help.
Nevertheless, God is good. Our church had so many families willing and able to provide Christmas presents, food, clothes, diapers, etc. (The kids arrived with nothing more than the clothes on their backs). I know the kids could feel that we loved them and were trying the best that we could. And of course, Addie was a sweetheart who made fast friends with all of them.
It quickly became apparent that this would not be a good fit for our family long-term, and in mid-January 2013 they were placed with a relative. I believe we were the right family for those kids for that amount of time, even if it was an extremely stressful three weeks.
At the end of January, we got a call asking if we would be interested in taking a 3-month-old girl. This seemed like a much better situation for our family with one problem — we were set to move into a new house on Jan. 31. We asked if it was possible for the girl to be temporarily placed somewhere else for a few days. They asked if we could take her on Feb. 5. So we moved in and took Myra five days later.
All she ever did was smile. She only cried when she was extremely tired or extremely hungry. The rest of the time she just kept a huge smile on her face, with an occasional chuckle. Everyone who met her commented on her joyful demeanor.
We — especially Addie — fell in love with her from the first day. I tried to guard my heart a little, knowing that the state had a right to remove her from us any day. In fact, that’s the goal of foster care, to reunite the child with a parent or relative. But in this case (and in about 50% of all foster care cases), that wasn’t able to happen. Soon, we received the great news that we would be allowed to adopt her.
When she came to us, she had five names (one first name, two middle names and two last names). Four of them were spelled differently in different documents the state gave us. We decided to keep her first name, give her our last name, and for the middle name we combined the middle names of both of her grandmas. Myra Alisue Franklin. Although the adoption process took far longer than we would have liked, all Myra did was smile, and on March 25, 2014, it became official.
Two weeks after that, we loaded Myra on a plane to India to spend a couple weeks with her aunt, uncle and cousins, the first of many great adventures we will share with her as our beloved daughter.

I’ve tried my best to describe the huge blessing Myra has been. Even though we’ve had two children of our own since getting her, our family would have a huge hole if she weren’t a part of it. She brings so much already, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her future.
I know foster care isn’t for everyone, but I would strongly encourage you to pray and think about whether it’s right for you. There are so many kids out there who have done absolutely nothing wrong, living in a state shelter and waiting for someone to take them in.
Our lives were forever changed by one of them.

Myra in 2014 on her adoption day

Liar’s Poker

This week’s blog is just going to be a quick rant about a topic 98% of you won’t know or care about. For you, here’s a cute cat gif.

In poker, when someone bets and everyone folds, the hand is over. The person with the winning hand does not need to show their cards. Generally, it is not in their best interest to do so, as it would give opponents information about how they played the hand.

Of course, if they want to show their hand, they can. If someone makes an extremely rare hand like a straight flush or four of a kind, they will usually show it. It’s not like opponents can really glean anything from a hand that comes up that infrequently anyway, and it’s just fun to see such a good hand.

So here’s what’s been bugging me. For some reason it’s been happening a lot in the games I’ve been in, and I feel that as a true patriot and gentleman I need to do my tiny bit to help stop it.

Someone will win a hand with a bet, decide not to show their cards, and then spend the next 10 minutes trying to convince the guy who folded that he bluffed.

One reason this has become more and more of a problem is that it seems to work. Dipshits will just take this information at face value and waste everyone’s time discussing their thought process and how “I thought it might have been a bluff” and “I really couldn’t call” and “I didn’t have anything either” and “but yeah it makes sense” and “good bet” and “man, I almost called you” and “nice play”.

I’d rather swallow your tobacco juice than listen to this crap.

Last week a guy won a pot and said, “that river was the only card I could win with.” The guy who lost didn’t respond. First guy said, “I mean, I didn’t have anything. That was just the only card where I could get away with the bluff.” Second guy still didn’t say anything. First guy said, “It had to put the four-card straight out there, or else I wouldn’t have even tried to bluff it.” Second guy still didn’t say anything and is now my favorite poker player even though I don’t know him because he made the first guy look like a complete douchenozzle.

Just take the pot and shut up.

The other day, I played a pot where a guy check-raised all in. I had a queen high flush. I thought he had a better flush, so I folded. If I had thought he didn’t have a better flush I would have called, because that’s how the game of poker works.

So he mucks his cards face down and then looks at me and says, “I didn’t have a flush.” He proceeded to tell me which cards he claimed to have and start in on this dime-store novel of a BS story I didn’t want to hear. So I cut him off and said, “I don’t believe you. It literally would have taken you one second to turn your cards over and prove that you bluffed me. Now you’ve spent a minute trying to convince me. I’m always just going to assume I made the right decision unless someone actually shows me otherwise.”

Kind of felt like Braveheart when he did his speech thingy.

Funny thing is, the guy said, “Hmmm…that makes sense. Probably a good policy.”

Why do people go out of their way to try to convince people they were bluffing? Obviously, it’s because they actually weren’t bluffing and they are disappointed that they didn’t get paid off on their last bet. Also, they hope they will get called the next time, when they also won’t be bluffing.

If I win a pot and the guy who lost wants to complain about it for 10 minutes or tell me how lucky I got or how poorly I played it, I can put up with that all day. It means I won. Plus, I understand that it’s frustrating to lose. So if you want to vent at me for a minute I won’t complain.

I’ve been bluffed thousands of times before and I’ll be bluffed thousands of times in the future. It’s part of the game. When someone shows me a bluff, I will think back to the hand and see if there’s anything I can glean from it, any way I could make the right decision the next time. But I’m not going to waste my time taking someone’s word for something when it can be so easily proven.

And neither should you. Stand up to the douchenozzles.

Satan’s Wife Went to Silver Dollar City

We’ve taken dozens of family trips since Addison was born in 2008. The one we took this weekend was a landmark. It was our first one not to include a stroller, although we did bring a wagon to haul around the park with all of our stuff. Occasionally one of the kids rode in it. Incidentally, this was also the first trip ever in which Addie didn’t want to take any of her stuffed animals to sleep with.

Our babies are growing up.

In lieu of going on a bigger trip this year, we got season passes to Silver Dollar City and planned four trips for 2019. Last weekend was the third trip. It was a great trip, and I will be taking this opportunity to show off a bunch of sweet pictures of my fam and tell a couple of stories.

On Saturday, the weather was perfect and the park was jam packed. Most rides had an hour wait. We decided to go to a cirque show that was set to start at 4 p.m. Missy and the kids got in line around 3:20 and sent me to try to get a refill on our drinks.

Both lines — the one for the show and the one for the drinks — were incredibly long. You’d think you could get a Coke refill in less than 20 minutes but on this particular day you’d be wrong. Finally Missy’s line began moving as they allowed people into the auditorium where the cirque show was being held. Obviously, trying to get four kids in sync will take a few seconds.

Behind Missy in line were a mid-40s woman and her teenage son. They tried to just straight up cut my family in line when they didn’t immediately move along. Missy cut them off with the wagon and said, “Really?” The other lady acted like she didn’t hear.

After they caught up with the rest of the line, it backed up to a stop yet again. As soon as it started moving again, this woman and her kid again went for the pass. Again Missy was able to hold them off, and Addie noticed the attempted cut and asked Missy about it. Missy used her outdoor voice, looked at the lady and said, “I guess some people are in a real big hurry in this line.” Again, the woman didn’t acknowledge the comment although Missy says it would have been impossible for her not to have heard it. (I love that Missy isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. The day before, someone loudly complained about our kids blocking an entryway for about 2 seconds. Missy said, “That’s enough from you, lady.”)

When the line reached yet another chokepoint, Missy called me to ask whether I had the soda. I said I was still in line and she just yelled, “Abandon! Come find us!” During that 5 second conversation the line had begun moving again and this mother-son duo shot past my family and didn’t look back. They got to the entrance and after this worthless pair of humans walked in, the usher stopped Missy and said the auditorium was full and nobody else could come in. The woman turned around and waved goodbye to Missy and the son turned around and wagged a #1 finger at her. (Literally the #1 finger, the index finger. He didn’t flip her off.)

This story seems too crazy to be true but it isn’t. Luckily, after I showed up they found seats for about 15 more people, so we got to see the show. I wanted Missy to find those people and make sure they knew we got in but she’s classier than I am.

Our boys got kisses from the barmaids at a show we went to.

I have another quick story to tell. I have a long-running thing with Addie where every day, I tell her I have a secret for her. She comes over to hear it, and then I always say that I’m proud of her and I love her. Usually she finishes the second half of the sentence as I say it. Then she rolls her eyes and says, “I knoooooow. You tell me that every day.” She acts exasperated but I hope that deep down she likes it when I say that.

On Thursday, we had parent/teacher conferences with all three of the kids’ teachers after school and then hit the road so we could spend all day Friday and Saturday at the park (minus staying at the airbnb to watch OU beat Texas Saturday morning). After stopping in Joplin for dinner we didn’t get to Branson until after 11 p.m. It was raining very hard when we arrived, and thankfully our Honda Odyssey navigation system literally tried to run us into the middle of the lake (thanks again, Eskridge Honda!). It had us make about 100 turns, then told us we arrived at our destination. But since we were about to drive into the lake we knew that couldn’t be right so we pulled it up on Google maps on our phone. We were 15 minutes away from our condo.

I was completely exhausted after waking up early and driving the entire way. Now the rain was so bad I could barely see. I was driving about 10 mph so we didn’t actually go into the lake. By the time we arrived and unloaded all of our stuff in the rain, I was almost delusionally tired. I was depressed, like I frequently get when I’m that tired.

Missy and I tried to get the kids to bed ASAP. Addie was really great about helping unpack everything and keeping a good attiude. As I was tucking her in, I told her I had a secret for her. I told her I was proud of her and loved her. She said, “I knooooow. You tell me that every day….and I like it.”

It’s cool how kids can sense when people are emotionally vulnerable and know how to make it better. I’m so lucky to have such an awesome family to do this life with.