I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

When we first moved into our new house over a year ago, it was pretty clear this was the party house for all the cats in the neighborhood. We still see a few of them roaming around, but one of them hasn’t come around in a really long time, and it’s funny how much I miss seeing him. Here is a video I shared last April of the orange cat.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

The kids and I still talk about the orange cat. I always tell them I hope he found a nice new home somewhere, but given we’re surrounded by woods, he most likely met an unfortunate death. We still don’t know who the cat belonged to; we saw him most around our neighbor’s house, but they said he wasn’t theirs. If I wasn’t allergic, we may have just adopted him ourselves.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

Yes, he’s laying in this bird bath / fountain. And no, he doesn’t live there.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

Waiting in the shadows. He was always hunting birds. Of all the other cats around here, none of them had the same fire for catching birds. Alas, I never saw him catch one.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

This bush was recently cut down because it was attracting way too many stinging insects, but if orange cat was still around, I think I could’ve dealt with it a bit longer. Look at him sitting there. How is he doing that? Those aren’t tree limbs; they’re small, weak shrubs.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

This isn’t the best quality picture, but occasionally I’d hear something outside and investigate, and there he’d be.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

Just look at that sweet face.

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange CatI Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

Relaxing in our backyard like he lived here. And I just got a little sad because these were the last pictures I had of the orange cat, which was in June of last year. The next pictures I have of cats around here are vastly different:

I Miss the Neighborhood Orange Cat

Yes, this piece of shit is taking a shit in my front yard, whilst looking me dead in the eyes. Alpha move. I’d be willing to bet the orange cat never shit in my yard, out of respect of our mutual, unspoken friendship. He made me laugh, and in return I let him hunt on my property.

We miss you orange cat. Wherever you are, I hope the birds are slow and plentiful.

*Bonus video of cats just being cats and having fun

Advertisements

Happy Jessika Day, Or Mother’s Day

 

I’m gonna brag on my wife, Jessika, a little bit here on Mother’s Day, because she deserves it. And even though I tell her these things from time to time, I think she needs to hear it more. She impresses me every single day, and frankly she makes me feel maybe a little shitty because there’s no way I could match what she does. I know parenting isn’t a competition, but maybe sometimes it is, and she’s winning.

Not only is she a great mom to our kids, and they love and adore her, but she’s working double to make sure our family is more secure in the future. It angers me sometimes that companies require a degree to get a job, get a promotion, etc. I mean I get it, certain jobs need that. But she is beyond skilled in so many areas, it’s crazy. I bring this up because while working full-time, she’s also taking classes so she can finish her degree. With an awesome GPA too. She’s on track to graduate this December, and I couldn’t be more proud. What she’s doing for this family is incredible, and I just hope I can make it up to her at some point.

I know other people work and go to school, I understand she’s not the first to do it, but if you’ve ever done it, you know what type of sacrifices you have to make, and what type of dedication it requires. She’ll study on her lunch break; at one job, I’d go lay in my car on my lunch break to take a quick nap.

There are many things that make her amazing. Her ability to essentially learn to do just about anything always impresses me. I’ve never been someone who could fix a damn thing; either I never had it or just never had the desire. But when our kids are older, she’ll be able to teach them how to install a bathroom sink, use a drill press, paint a huge cow (we have one in our kitchen), refinish a piece of furniture, bake a cake, competently use Excel (not me), make a cute children’s headband, and so on and so on. I could go on all day. I can basically kill the bugs (and if you ask my mom, she’ll be very surprised to hear this, given my past experience) and can teach them how to mow the lawn. So, shitty exterminator or landscaper would be my children’s best outcome if it were up to me.

And she does all of this without complaining. And I don’t mean about little things we ALL complain about when it comes to work, class, etc. That shit is normal and healthy. She has chosen to create a better situation for herself, which in turn will be better for all of us. And not once have I heard her say she wanted to quit or give up. She outworks everybody, and makes the rest of us look like losers by comparison in the process. And on top of this, she always finds time to help other people. She’s helped people get jobs at the companies she’s worked, She helps people in the jobs they have so they can success. Honestly, how many people do you know, right now, that would genuinely help you in your job while getting nothing in return?

I’ve never liked the phrase “I don’t know how he/she does it.” Because I know how she does it. She gets the job done with hard work, and for what she can’t do, she learns how to do it and then gets it done. Because she cares. Because she’s a good person. And because she’s a great mom. Our kids are too young to understand now, but one day it’ll hit them that they have the best mom.

I love you Jessika. Happy Mother’s Day.

Office Chair Betrayal – Embarrassing Myself

When Reece was very little, but before we moved here, I had one of the most (if not THE most) painful things happen to me. I’ve largely avoided serious injuries in my life, which is amazing given I’ve played sports my entire life. So of course I injure my back doing something embarrassingly normal: stepping out of the shower. It was a sharp, stabbing pain in my lower back that forced me to the ground and had to crawl to move.

Why am I bringing up my old-man back? Well, this exact back pain has happened three times since, most recently keeping me from going to Disney World with the family. But when it first happened after moving to Alabama, I thought it’d help to make a change in office furniture for my desk, so I bought a huge exercise ball to sit on instead of a chair.

For a while I thought it was helpful. I had to pump air into it every few weeks or so, but that was no big deal. It was oddly comfortable, and impossible not to lightly bounce around on. Honestly, if it had handles like the bouncy balls they used to make (maybe they still make them), I would’ve annoyed the shit out of everyone bouncing all over the office.

Then the fateful day arrived: August 25th, 2015. I recall it being sometime in the afternoon, with only a few of us at our desks at the time. I’m just sitting there, minding my damn business, and POW!!!!!!!!!!! The piece of shit ball explodes underneath my heavy, dresspant-covered ass. The noise sounded eerily close to that of a middle-school face getting demolished by an accelerating dodgeball. That gym school floor screech-type noise. It happened really fast, but every time I recall it in my head, it’s a Hollywood movie slow-mo car crash scene. I tumbled down and backwards onto the floor, with confusion and hot red anger, my arms swinging like I’m an Olympic backstroke swimmer trying to medal for the first time. And then it immediately became the funniest shit to ever happen.

Think about how funny it is when someone falls backwards from an office chair; not much is funnier than that. Now picture someone at the gym using an exercise ball COMPLETELY wrong, and you know it, but can’t bring yourself to tell them. Mash those two together and I would imagine that’s what it looked like. Nobody else saw it happen, but they definitely heard it. Here is the aftermath, which I brought home to show Jessika. Who knew my butt worked much like a switch blade.

Office Chair Betrayal - Embarrassing Myself

When it comes to my back pain, I think my problem has been how easily I forget just how bad the pain is when it happens. It eventually goes away and then becomes a past-Stephen problem. Then I lean down to pick up a laundry basket and fall directly into it, writhing in pain. Jessika was sweet enough to create this graphic for me. I thought perhaps if I had a daily reminder of what the hell the pain was like, I’d be more motivated to do something about it. And I thought it’d be funny to include a picture of my x-ray of my lower back / upper ass. My chiropractor gave me a few recommendations that could help me avoid future back pain. Jessika made it look good and framed it. 

Office Chair Betrayal - Embarrassing Myself

One last recommendation: if you want a big ball as an office chair, don’t use a cheap exercise ball. It will betray you.

Tua Helper

Jessika and I have an agreement not to eat certain foods when we’re both in the house. She doesn’t eat pickles, and I don’t eat canned peas and Tuna Helper. Last week I had a rare moment of being alone in the house, and the running joke is that anytime that happens, it’s Tuna Helper time. But it has to be the cheesy pasta one; anything else is unacceptable. After I make it, I immediately wash all dishes involved and spray the kitchen with whatever air freshener is in the house.

In the middle of preparing this delicacy, I saw the word “tuna” and thought of “Tua,” and instantly had in my head all of this ridiculous information you see on this image. And because Jessika is so talented and I’m no graphic designer, I drew up a rough image and asked if she could put it together. If the goal here was to make myself laugh, mission accomplished, because I think it’s hilarious, and she managed to create it exactly as I had imagined it.

For those who aren’t college football fans, this is Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide, winners of the 2018 National Championship game. That was probably the most intense game I’ve ever watched Alabama play. And apparently I almost hit my head on the ceiling fan after the last play. These old man knees still have a little spring in them.

Roll Tide, and here’s to more helpings of both Tua Helper and Tuna Helper in the future.

 

Making New Friends Is Hard

Making New Friends Is Hard

I knew I’d miss my friends when we moved, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect my mental health. We never had a huge circle of friends, but definitely had people we loved and could count on.

I used to be a social person; I don’t know what happened. Moving around the country after college made it harder to keep it touch with friends from school, but I also made life-long friends with people I worked with in the process. Most of my friends came from work, or friends/family of those friends. Which makes sense; we don’t tend to make best friends with someone you meet at Publix or the chiropractor. Although, only a wonderful human being can make your back feel better, so perhaps they should be my friend.

Last week I went to the park like I always do, with my daughter in tow, waiting to pick up my son from school. Some days we’re the only people there; on others, several moms meet up with their kids. But the other day was the first time I had more than a two minute conversation with another parent (that I didn’t know beforehand), and I couldn’t believe how much it affected me. She was a very sweet, genuine person. I don’t believe she had met many stay at home dads, so perhaps that made her a bit curious; I don’t care why, it was still nice to have someone to talk to. I know that sounds pathetic, but I think some moms I’ve encountered at the park seem hesitant to talk (I’m sure the previous mullet didn’t help). And I certainly don’t blame them; men are garbage and can’t be trusted. Plus, I think we’re all, in our own way, more guarded when we have our kids around. 

Sadly enough, my new friend is moving next month. Her husband’s job is relocating them. Not that she would’ve become my new best friend, but still sad. I’m sharing all of this because you just never know when you’re going to make someone’s day, or potentially change someone’s outlook. I couldn’t believe how much better my day was just by having a conversation with someone. And she’ll never know how much that basic interaction helped me.

Even before this, Jessika was helping me meet people, because she’s a good person and wants me to be happy. She reached out to some other moms on Facebook and explained my somewhat unusual situation: stay at home dad has no friends and maybe wants to meet people. Sure enough, a few moms responded with a “my husband too.” I met a nice group of moms who meet at a park with their kids, one of which knew of another stay at home dad who joins them occasionally. So who knows, they could be new friends too. Reece made friends quicker than I did. One of the kids had a Pokemon toy, and that sparked an hour of running around and talking about Pokemon.

Later this week I’ll be meeting another dad at our library’s “story time.” In January I plan on playing in an adult rec basketball league. Even if I don’t encounter anyone I’d become friends with, hopefully I’ll get some exercise and have a little fun. Outside of friends and family, I probably miss playing sports more than anything. You need incredible motivation to stay in shape as a adult, when work and kids make it difficult. I played in rec leagues in Seattle and Portland, and they were awesome. 

Admittedly, this feels weird to talk about. It’s hard to admit to yourself that you “need” anything, but it’s become clear to me that I need occasional interactions with people who aren’t my kids. We’ll see how it goes. If none of this works, maybe I’ll just start posting the picture above around town with my phone number.

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

If you follow me on Facebook, then you probably see occasional attempts to make you laugh, sometimes with accompanying pictures. If you don’t, then why the hell not? Usually every few weeks I have to take all the pictures off my phone to make room for more, and I come across something I thought was funny, reminded me of a story, etc. but didn’t share anywhere. Here are some pictures from this time last year. This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen.

 

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

Roughly one year ago I found out they made Dark Chocolate Kit Kats. A glorious day for me. Other than Mars Bars (which they don’t make anymore), Kit Kats were always the favorite. But since my body began to slowly defy me regarding anything milk-related, I can’t eat them. Until now. I’ve learned that most dark chocolate candy is made with very little to no milk at all, which is ideal for me. I never cared for dark chocolate before, but now that it’s my only option, I’ve learned to like it quite a bit. This DCKK doesn’t compare to the original, but it’s a good replacement.

After finding this, I remembered a very random moment from college that still makes me laugh. I don’t remember the year, I think 2000 or 2001. I went to my friend Amy’s apartment and pulled out a Kit Kat, opened the wrapper and started eating it. The look on Amy’s face became instant confusion and terror. I can still easily recall her exact words as if she were writing this very sentence: “Boy you break off those pieces.” You see, I had committed the cardinal sin of eating a Kit Kat without snapping the sticks, with every intention of avoiding milk chocolate melting all over my fingers (we all know you can’t hold a Kit Kat in its wrapper for more than 3 seconds without instantly melting the chocolate; it’s impossible). I proceeded to take another bite, with her face only reinforcing what she had just said audibly; she meant business. I had to break off those pieces or face the consequences.

And just so you know, I ate the rest of the KK as the chocolate gods intended, thus maintaining our friendship.

Bonus: THERE ARE DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO OPEN A KIT KAT. The only humans who don’t know how to open wrapped candy are those too young to have learned how to read. And even then they’ll rip shit open out of sheer curiosity and kid strength.

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

More Random Pictures

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

They love each other occasionally

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

We played at a park near the beach in Ocean Springs. In November. Tells you just how warm it usually still is in November in the south.

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

This Week In Memories November Two Thousand Sixteen

Every time we visit my parents in Mississippi, I make a trip early as hell to Tatonut, a place people from Ocean Springs better know as the BEST DONUT SHOP ON EARTH. Don’t dispute it, it’s fact. When I return to the house with our bounty, usually the kids are finally up. I spotted this little buster when I got back and it freaked me out just a little.

 

Embarrassing Story Of The Month – November

On the way to drop my son off at pre-school the other day, an embarrassing story about myself popped in my head, from many years ago, and I don’t have a clue why. As I thought about it, sharing it felt like a funny idea. This is not that story; I’m still working it out and probably share it next month. 

I’m certain I’ve embarrassed myself enough in my life to make this a regular series. Some of these embarrassing tales may only be a sentence long, because there isn’t much of a story, but still truly embarrassing to me. And hopefully I paint a clear enough picture so you can see just how much of an idiot I can be.

Location: University of Alabama. Year: 2000; probably spring time if I’m guessing. Walking to class one morning, towards the quad. (On my most recent visit to the university, despite all of the incredible growth of the school/campus, the quad hasn’t changed a bit, and I love that.)

Keep in mind, I am not deaf. I am also not blind. So I have those senses working for me, but not this day my friends. Because I don’t see, or hear, a freaking sprinkler shoot water RIGHT INTO MY DAMN FACE. And from a considerable distance. But don’t worry, an attractive girl was there walking by to see it. Luckily the water evaporated instantly off my face because I was so hot with rage and fury.

Oddly enough I can still see my best friend laughing uncontrollably after I told him what happened. It’s the kind of thing I wish I could extract a video from my memory, mainly to see how furious I was, and exactly how I tried to play it off. Because this isn’t an “oops, I tripped slightly over my feet and recover immediately” type event. Water from a landscaping sprinkler maliciously shot its dirty earth water into my face, which had to be intentional.

But I also have questions for the landscaping crew responsible for this travesty. Why in the hell were they watering the grass in the morning when students would clearly be walking to class? I’m not in the profession, but isn’t it best to water grass at night so the water doesn’t evaporate quickly in the heat? Far as I remember, it’s always been hellishly hot in Alabama, for most of the year. So if it’s spring time in Tuscaloosa, likely shorts weather during the day.

If you’re reading this and you too have been struck in the face, unexpectedly, by a landscaping sprinkler and didn’t deserve it, please share so my Idiot Meter goes from a 10 to at least an 8.