Puppers.

Gideon doesn’t realize what’s coming. Obviously. He goes about his days as always. Demanding to be petted, woofing for breakfast, soaking up naps on the couch by the window, intimidating squirrels, doing figure eights on the lawn, licking his lips, playing tug-of-war. His life is sweet. And I love watching him. It’s endless entertainment watching a short dog with TRex-esch arms flailing all over the yard, or hopping up onto couches.
Soon…I’ll notice those details less and less. While it’s my goal to teach our kids to appreciate Gideon for the cute little creature he is, to appreciate his nuances and treat him very well, it’s only natural that more and more of my admiration will fall on little human subjects.
In the meantime, Gideon will still be the focus of my little photo-sessions, and deservedly so. He’s just adorable.
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Chow Mein

This year, I’ve tried a new recipe every week. We began meal planning, and oh man. We save so much $$ and so much time and we eat so much better. Some weeks, I don’t have time to make anything new…others, like this week, we’ll try three new recipes. It all evens out in the end. Some day, I’ll get around to sharing all those recipes. Most of them are good.

But, Oh. Em. Gee.

Every once and while you stumble upon a recipe…well that blows your hair back. Changes your life. Makes you happy. Gives you reason to believe that the world has some good in it. Makes you say obscenely dramatic statements about how good it is…all because you are on a high (nutritionally that’s probably accurate).

This is one of those recipes. Who freaking new that making delicious chow mein (the original recipe calls it a Panda Express knockoff) was so freaking easy and so freaking quick and so freaking easy. And I should mention it’s really freaking easy.

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I just…I can’t…the taste….sigh. Just make it.

Panda Express Chow Mein Copycat

Yields 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • (Homespun Haley addition: 1 Tablespoon of toasted sesame oil – takes a slight edge off of the soy sauce…though totally not necessary.)

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper; set aside.
  • In a large pot of boiling water, add Yaki-Soba until loosened, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in cabbage until heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in Yaki-Soba and soy sauce mixture until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTES

*Yaki-Soba is ramen-style noodles and can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store.

The food bump.

Now, I can’t pretend to be an expert or anything. I’ve been pregnant for 4 months out of my whole lifetime. But there is something I have learned. You know that “baby bump” that begins to appear soon after women start their blissful journey into the second trimester? People start to comment on “the bump” they see,and perhaps even reach out their hand (Dear God I hope they know you really well or else you have permission to slap their hand) and feel “the baby”.

Listen friends. You’re actually seeing/feeling her lunch. Or breakfast, or perhaps dinner, or perhaps a snack. I wake up in the morning, looking sort of pregnant…sort of tubby. By the end of the evening, I look legitimately pregnant. It’s a gross transition. Tubby to that exciting “pop” you were told would happen any moment…and then you wake up in the morning and it’s back to tubby. So if you were actually going to feel the baby, you’d have to feel in between a women’s groin and her belly button. Awkward. Obviously there comes a point when this isn’t the case, but during the beginning stages of bumpage, it is.

Here’s a diagram for those of you who need a visual. It starts at the beginning of pregnancy (look how roomy it is in there, it’s like a 5 star suite!). Your intestines have all this room to spread out and move stuff right along. But quickly, your intestines are squished up and your bladder down. So think about it…right now, my intestines are beginning their journey into squashed land and no longer fill my lower abdomen. So when I eat throughout the day, my stomach visible grows larger. The pictures make it clear why women at 30+ weeks deserve to have things picked up/moved/done for them. I mean good gaawwwddd.

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In summary:

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Anyway, I can’t really complain. My pregnancy so far has been a cake walk. More pros than cons. One moment of serious food aversion to squash and potatoes when I was 10ish weeks along. Never a speck of nausea. The fatigue was pretty bad. I felt depressed as the daily tasks that used to be so easy, piled up around me while I napped. But hey. I’d rather be sleepy than pukey. And some women have to deal with both (I’m SO sorry!).

And before you ask…yes, that is a Nerf gun on the ground. No, I don’t have a son I never told you about. Yes…it belongs to my husband and he keeps it next to the bed…ya know, in case of intruders.

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IKEA Hack – Wardrobe to Sewing Room

FACT. I’m thrilled about our little one whose arrival can’t come quickly enough.

FACT. I already love our little one more than sewing.

FACT. Our house is small. Just under 1,000 square feet, two bedrooms.

FACT. One ENTIRE bedroom, is filled to the brim with my sewing/crafting stuff. Machine(s), glue, fabric, thread, paper, scissors, notions, pins, stickers, gift wrap, patterns, on & on & on & on.

FACT. Small children whom you love should not co-exist among such chaos. They bring their own baby-friendly chaos.

FACT. I need to sew.

FACT. My husband is the bomb diggity.

FACT. He turned this discontinued HEMNES wardrobe from IKEA into a lovely, totally functional sewing closet.

FACT. I’m not mourning the loss of an entire sewing room…cause look at this thing!

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Before:005 After:012Features I love:
Matt added a pull out table (which a chair fits perfectly under) and drop down desk to fill the gap behind, so I never have to unplug-replug things, and there is space to spread out. 
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Matt also added a shelf for our printer. That printer gets a lot of use. I print several recipes a week, not to mention the odd pattern, photo or receipt. I was bound and determined to have our printer set up so it was ready to go…always. He left a small gap behind the shelf for the cord to drop down, and drilled a hole at the base for an extension cord to seamlessly connect everything.

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The side shelves have plenty of room for the essentials and then-some.

016FACT. Yes, I’ll have to use the kitchen table to cut out those big projects.

FACT. Big freaking deal. I’m blessed to have a kitchen table to use and blessed to be starting a family.

FACT. Getting rid of things and keeping only what you actually need feels fantastic .

FACT. Gideon appreciated the fabric purge…if only for a few moments.
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To dads with daughters.

 My dad died 10 weeks ago. This Father’s Day is going to be hard for me. As you can imagine I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my dad, his life, his parenting, our life together. I wanted to do something to honor him for Father’s Day. He was always curious about how I felt about him as a father. The day before he died he asked me, “Was I a good father?” It wasn’t the first time. That night I answered, “You ARE a good father, not was. Dad…you saved me…you absolutely saved me.” He nodded. We both understood what this meant and the importance of it. While the meaning will be lost on you let me just tell you, it’s important.

So, in honor of a great dad, in celebration of Father’s Day, I’ve written out a few rambling paragraphs outlining some ways my dad rocked the socks off of this parenting a girl thing. You daddies with daughters out there might want to take note.

He answered my phone calls – My dad answered my calls about 98% of the time. If he didn’t answer, I knew he was in a movie, or didn’t hear it ring. But I wouldn’t put it past him to leave a theater to take my call. I remember he would answer and say, “How are you doing my sweet-baboo?”. Once or twice he would tell me he was in a meeting, so and so says hello and would need to call me back in a few minutes…but he always answered anyway. Showing me that I was a priority in his life.

He talked about me with his friends – Before my dad passed I would often hear, “Haley! Oh your dad is SO proud of you! He told me all about how well you’re doing in life. He just thinks the world of you.” Since he has passed I hear, “Honey…you were the absolute joy of your dad’s life. I could tell when he talked about you…you were in a separate and special category. How proud you made him.” It is a gift my dad is still giving to me, through the words of others he spoke with. It warms my heart to know he spoke so highly of me to so many. Reminds me that I was on his mind every single day.

He taught me that it’s OK to laugh at “naughty” stuff (if you can’t laugh at naughty jokes then skip this one for crying out loud) – I remember once when I was in high school my dad and I were eating dinner in our TV room. He dished up his pasta and afterwards he looked down at his plate. The two bread rolls and lump of pasta were unfortunately placed. We both saw it. Out of the corner of his mouth he said, “Well…this looks very…phallic.” We laughed for a long time. For the first time ever I cracked a joke myself before I could even really think, I said, “Yeah…that sure is a mouth full…” There was a moment of mutual shock, and I thought I would soon be killed, but instead, my dad let out a hearty laugh, gave his eyes a good squeaky rub (a habit of his) and uttered an “Eeeeeewwwww, Haley Lynn!”. ANYWAY, you get the point. You don’t have to take it to that level…but just learn to chuckle. There is no shame in cracking jokes that make you blush a little bit. Life is short, just laugh at naughty stuff and move on. (We laughed about everything…laughter is just good for your soul.)

He stuck with me through my weirdness – I made some weeerriiiidd choices. I remember going through boyfriend weirdness, school weirdness, spiritual weirdness…all the while my dad journeyed with me even though I was making choices he could see were not helpful. He could have easily told me what to do, but instead he simply listened, asked questions, empathized and hugged me. He trusted me to make my own decisions, and trusted me to own the consequences. He knew that being present and informed about what was going on in my life was WAY more important than possibly shutting me out. In return, I tended to make better decisions because I knew he was paying attention. We would get a good laugh out of it later, and he would finally admit how nervous he had been for me.

He asked me about God – My dad would periodically ask how my relationship with God was looking. There was no wrong or right answer. I could spew it all out without fear of my dad questioning, correcting or lecturing me. He always sat quietly, listening to me, and he always found some way to affirm my thoughts. “You’re doing good listening honey.”, “Doesn’t it all seem like bull sometimes?”, “God doesn’t seem to work like we expect God too.”

He shared his spiritual life with me – Ok, ok, My dad was a pastor, so this came pretty easily to him. I LOVED it when my dad would tell me all about the latest things on his mind. His spiritual life was constantly growing and changing. He was being moved deeper and deeper into the depths of God’s spirit, and he had beautiful words to articulate it. But I encourage those of you who are shy about this to step outside your comfort zone and share what you feel or see God doing in your own personal life with your daughters. They need to hear it.

If you’re not religious –  Ask her about God anyway. Spirituality is a huge part of people’s lives, regardless if it is yours. Perhaps you should find out how your daughter sees this part of her experience in the world. After all, she may have a perspective that’s different than yours, and how blessed you’ll be to hear her thoughts!

He talked about the past – In the year or so before my dad passed away, we started to talk more candidly about my childhood and his young adult life. Real, honest talk. My perspective versus his, his stories of shenanigans. There was still so much to be said. I’ve found out since he passed that while my name was “stolen” from a close friend, it was my dad who first heard my name from that friend, loved it, and mentioned it to my mom. I wish so badly I could talk to him about that. I loved hearing him talk about me as a little girl. He told me the stories that delighted him the most, over and over and over. I hold on to his reflections of me as child with great love. I was a spit-fire. I know so because he told me. It’s incredible how important having an adult perspective on your childhood self can be. Not everyone gets to experience that.

He made me feel beautiful without talking about looks - My dad told me I was “beautiful” a handful of times. It didn’t happen often, but when it did it was so meaningful and absolutely heartfelt. Somehow, even though my dad did not often affirm me for how I looked, I feel that my dad thought I was the most striking girl on the planet.  How did he do that? Perhaps it was all the affirmation I got from him about other things? I would argue that the genuine interest and delight you show in your daughter as a human being will do more for her confidence than all compliments that you could give her about her physical appearance. My dad loved me down to the absolute core of who I am. I know it because he loved being around me, and I him. I’ve got a killer inner confidence and strength…where do you think that comes from?

I still look back to the day my father passed away and think, “Did that really happen?” It’s unbelievably hard to imagine my future without his guidance. I’m blessed to have so many memories with him. I’m blessed to have felt close to him. I’m blessed to have had him as my father.

Dad, you ARE a great father, not was. Happy Father’s Day.

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